CONTEXT: PK is a student who previously attended USC. This is a “scary story” of an
unexplained occurrence that happened before he was a student. When he moved into the location at which it occurred, he was told this story by a previous resident. PK views this story as entirely true and a staple of USC folklore. He believes the origin of the story to be from about half a decade before he left and heard this story from a past housemate who lived with someone who lived in the house at the assumed time of the story.
Back in the days of yore… Well, long, long, long ago in the history of USC, where students have lived for many, many years in a dwelling on Orchard Avenue, there was a strange occurrence. Since the house abutted an apartment building to the back there was a tall – twelve-foot-tall – chain-linked fence between the two properties. One ancient guy, supposedly, legend says, cut a hole in the fence for easier egress in the event of a fire, or other emergency. And, as soon as the property manager found out, they came in and they called a construction company, and they closed up the hole with zip ties. And life went on as normal, and two weeks later, they received another call, the property manager, that there was another hole in the fence. And they started to talk to the house, like, “Are you guys cutting a hole in the fence? Like, what’s going on?” And
they denied it because at first, they didn’t know what he was talking about. And so, this time they came back in with chain link, and they put chain links together to hold the fence together, and they put another layer of fence over it – the old fence – to be doubly as thick. You know, life went on as normal, and continued, and nothing out of the ordinary until one day when the electrician came, they found another hole in the back of the fence. And so, this time the property manager had to know, and they said, “You know, this is ridiculous. We don’t have any evidence that you guys are cutting a hole in the back of the fence but if this is you, you have to stop it.” And so, this time they put a metal cage over the fence. They put bars all the way over the fence, a half inch thick, steel bars going all the way across. And they thought that they solved it, they thought, “There’s no way they’re going to cut through this. This is ridiculous.” Sure enough, two weeks later, again, just like clockwork, there was a huge hole cut in the bars. It was actually that this time they were bent as if some giant baboon had ripped apart the half
inch steel bars. So, the property manager was like, “this is ridiculous.” And so, they put in a camera. They were like “We’re going to catch whoever is doing this.” They put in the camera, they replaced the metal bars, and this time they poured a one-foot-wide section of concrete, for the entire 30-foot-long property line, ten feet tall. And two weeks later, just again, nothing on the camera, and there was a hole blasted through the concrete, as if by dynamite, and that hole is still there to this day. You know, the obvious thought was that it was done by the guy who originally cut the hole in the fence, but there were twelve people living in the house at the time and nobody ever reported hearing a sound that would go with breaking a whole huge hole through concrete. The story has just been passed down generation to generation.
I think IM, who lived there many years ago, whispered the story to me one night.
ANALYSIS: This story seems to have been told to both entertain a new resident, and maybe make him a little uneasy in a new environment. New places often hold secrets that a new resident may not know about, and this story, and the way in which it was told capitalize on that feeling of uncertainty. It is not a particularly scary story, but it follows the structure of a scary story or urban legend, providing an explanation for a visible part of the house (the hole in the concrete). The word choice, drawing attention to how long ago it was supposed to occur, the strength of the barriers, and the reference to a creature like a baboon, are all comical in this situation, though an ancient place with a strong, unseen creature, seems more like the set up to a scary story. No one has been able to confirm any part of this story, other than that the hole is there. The use of dialogue is interesting, in light of this, because it is the narrator’s own
interpretation of how that conversation would probably go.