Gabriella Garcia Vargas ’17 recently became the first person to read the entirety of a University “Traffic Alert” email, inadvertently discovering a dark hive of unimaginable, soul-shearing insanity in the process.
The emails, which do not appear to be sent according to any sort of schedule, have long been known to differ wildly in their formatting, font size and style, and use of capitalization, suggesting that they are written by as many as a dozen different people who have all stumbled upon the same fount of horror. The subject lines of the emails are also highly inconsistent in their formatting and information provided, but all share the words “Traffic Alert” and, at least initially, deal with traffic conditions in
the vicinity of the University. As Vargas discovered, however, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and scrolling down on any of these emails reveals dozens of pages of disturbing, increasingly unhinged writing.
“I opened [the email] because I was worried about being held up in a traffic jam and I wanted to be sure about when I had to leave for my Fall Break trip,” said Vargas of her ordeal. “I skimmed the first line and knew there was nothing interesting. I was about to return back to my inbox when my finger slipped and hit the spacebar. That’s when I began hearing the whispers.”
The following are some excerpts from the email Vargas opened, which is 44,232 words in full.
“ TRAFFIC ALERT ” no longer describes it.
The road winds on and on, black like the darkness which howls and howls and howls and howls and howls without end, the howling only stopping if I reach the yellow midline, but even this is nothing more than a plank I can grab in the middle of a storm, the ocean of shadows swirling around me, the traffic circulating endlessly on either side, car after car, one after the other in a procession of shapeless shadows, an endless parade of boats traveling the River Styx, trapping me between them. I tried to tell them not to repave Alexander. I burst into their offices screaming the name. They didn’t listen. Said it was to “help ease the traffic”. Bullshit, I say. All it did was cause delays.
There’s something else Tilghmanò wrote before she abandoned the office. It reads SANCTIONING FEE £40M. ROUTE: WEST ON NASSAU. LEFT ON MERCER. RIGHT ON HIBBEN, RIGHT ON STOCKTON. SWEEP LEFT AT BAYARD. RIGHT AT PAUL ROBESON. RIGHT ON CHESTNUT. CONTINUE ONTO OLDEN. RIGHT ON PROSPECT. RIGHT ON WASHINGTON. LEFT ON NASSAU. 3.2 MILES. 15 CORNERS. LEAVES ALEXANDER OPEN TO traffic.
I have no idea what it means. But it has the campus surrounded to the north. And that will force the traffic to the south. Route One is a lighter shade, for now. We held the pavers at bay. But if this goes through, the resulting delays will cast shadows on it as cars back up
THE TRAFFIC WILL DARKEN THE EARTH
I had the dream again last night.
In my dream, it’s 11:37 P.M. A Thursday night. Sometimes it’s Saturday, but Thursdays are always distinct. and I’m walking towards 1879 Arch. As a student. I suppose I should note that. I’m a student, it’s 11:37 P.M. on a Thursday night, and I know I’m about to hit Prospect Avenue.
This brief moment is the only time in my day, asleep or awake, where I can’t feel the fear.
I see Washington in front of me, blazing orange from the streetlamps, especially along the crosswalk where the asphalt is fresh and new. Washingto– Washing– Washilexander. The map has shifted. And here comes the traffic, surging, on both sides, even at this hour, all manner of cars, trucks, crossovers, sedans, SUVS, semis, vans, minivans, coupés, cabriolets, convertibles, phaetons, targas, hatchbacks, fastbacks, pickups, every one of them set to block my path, and even as they do, the road darkens, asphalt bubbling, becoming black as pitch, some of the traffic sinking in it, the others using the carcasses as a macabre bridge before they, too, sink as well, and now the pitch boils, and floods over onto the sidewalk, surging lavalike towards me, and I run up the steps of 1879, but the road hurls itself toward me, cars trapped in the waves, sheet metal missing from them like it was eaten off, like it will eat me. But it never does. I wake up in a sweat every time.
Try as I might, I can never cross Alexander.
Asphalt is from bitumen. Bitumen is from petroleum. And petroleum burns. It burns so sweetly. I can finally escape from my prison, though it may cost me everything. My dear Klawedis, you may never see me again, so heed this message. LCGSN NHQVH NTWNM ZZSEV MSSWR FGHQX XTCXX GSWFN NORR. You know how to decode it. And now, at last, at long last, I can be free! I have the torch of my liberation in hand, and I shall set it upon the road, and burn my way to peace! DEATH TO THE PAVEMENT! DEATH TO ALEXANDER! DEATH TO NO! THE LIGHT MAKES THE traffic CAST
OUR DOOM IS WRITTEN IN THE LEFT LANE
Donald P. Reichling
Department of Public Safety
200 Elm Drive
Princeton, NJ 08544
Tel: (609) 258-9701
Fax: (609) 258-9773
Emergency: 9-1-1 on campus or (609) 258-3333 off campus or cell phones
Non-emergencies: (609) 258-1000
After reading the entirety of the email, Vargas did not stop screaming for four days straight — a state which did nothing to stop her a cappella group’s fall-break tour from being a rousing success.
– AKS ’15. Illustrated by RRF ’17.