Everything started with a complaint. The university had one main walk. It ran the length of campus and students, staff, and faculty alike traversed the smooth concrete. So did everyone with a message, cause, or chip niggling at their shoulder.
Someone got annoyed with one another, maybe it was a Jesus-freak, or a feminist, or a frat boy, or a associate professor tired of being harangued on the way to a class she wasn’t being paid enough to teach. No one knows, but many suspect it was really the university. Fed up with neon flyers and screaming students marring a noble institution of higher learning, they fabricated the grievance and banned the protesters and promoters.
Barred from the walk, a motivated group of activists, amateur architects, and delinquents decided they required a creative vantage point on the issue. They built a bridge.
Massive but rickety, the thing stretched over the walk near the center of campus. By design, those informing and dissenting from its heights were not on the walk, merely above it and now with a pulpit.
Cobbled together with shattered dorm furniture and young zeal, anyone passing beneath and looking up could identify a bed frame, a vandalized desk, and an unfortunate amount of duct tape. Shortly after its haphazard assembly, a group engineering students lent a Saturday afternoon improving the design. Now moderately stable, the bridge hosted every cause, zealot with a sign, and Greek promotion on campus.
The university condemned the structure immediately and deployed a force to take it down. What they expected to be a simple job turned into a day long standoff between facilities and the bridge’s occupants. As the river of students traveled beneath, those on the bridge refused to move. Jesus-freak, feminist, and frat boy stood together and asserted their right to proclaim.
Facilities came back that night to find occupied sleeping bags camped over the bridge. The next morning held a new shift of students. As one left for class, another would replace them. There were those who looked up at the bridge and shook their heads. Psych majors theorized on the protesters’ addictive vie for attention. Philosophy students sipped their coffees and commented on a movement built around a bridge that literally went nowhere.
A week passed, then another. The bridge withstood a school holiday, stubborn students staring down helpless construction workers on an otherwise empty campus. Paying tuition and still attending class, the university couldn’t call the police on them, and liable for their safety, could not destroy the bridge with them on it.
Intrigue, bribes, or betrayals. Few knew exactly how the bridge defenders were eventually undone after months of vigilance, and none of them were talking. All that is known is that someone didn’t keep their watch or call a replacement, and so the bridge was left empty on a moonless Thursday. The university took their chance. They tore the bridge down in the middle of the night.
Early classes brought the first batch of students to the site of the late bridge. All who looked upon the splinters strewn across the concrete felt something. Many shrugged away the discomfort in their chests, others sniffed and went quietly to their classes. A few protested, but their cries didn’t last. Those who’d manned the bridge walked away with fingers curled and jaws tight.
Friday night, Greek parties stilled, a take-back-the-night event was rescheduled, young-adult bible study and bowling placed on hold. Under the slightest sliver of a moon they arrived on the empty concrete walk and passed around sledgehammers.
Legal Theft returns (I think). I stole the line They tore the bridge down in the middle of the night from Apprentice, Never Master. If this crime spree continues, you can find the thieves ….