fish at williams
It is unclear where the fish originated from, but it has been established that they arrived between 2:14 and 6:00, before the last students recall passing through these hallways, and before the janitors arrived on Monday morning.
During this first week, eight varieties of fish could be found in three concentrated locations: in the second-floor bridge connecting Bronfman and Thompson Biology; outside of the biology building; and outside of Jesup, a facilities building.
Reactions were as expected. Students could be observed going about their regular days, occasionally taking snapchats, or otherwise recording the fish. From various surveillance footage, and from accesing the social media posts from accounts located on campus during this time period, we have detected nothing of note. Some such videos are included as illustration.
For the most part, however, the student body took no notice of the new presence. It is entertaining to puzzle over whether the location had any effect on this. Had the fish been located in the "Division I" section of campus, with the english, comp lit, philosophy, and language departments, would the fish have accrued more attention faster? Extensive research into similar institutions and various social theory studies indicates that the campus culture is homogenous enough to ensure reactions would've been almost indistinguishable had the fish initially appeard in any other sector of campus.
The fish first appeared on the morning of April 25th, 2016. They could be seen at various sites on Williams College campus, but were concentrated in the area known as "Science Quad", where the different science classrooms and department offices are located.
It took between three and four days for the presence of the swarm to enter the consciousness of any one subset of students. We note that, as the most noticeable concentration of fish was located in the enclosed walkway from the Bronfman math building to the Thompson Biology Labs, that frequentors of this area recieved the highest exposure. Individuals of this subset include a few of the Professors in the biology and neuroscience departments; math professors who use the 2nd-floor Bronfman bathrooms; and students of BIOL 382 and NEUR 241: The Unicorn and its Relatives, and The Brain and The Soles: Correlations between cognitive science and podalic hygeine, respectively.
However, before the end of the week, we observe that professors in the Affected Area were reacting. One response in particular, by a professor of neuroscience, actually acted as an outlier, upsetting the general trend of data yielded by other community members, in that she tried to find out about the source of the fish almost immediately.
A brief note on the following materials. It was eventually discovered that one student's account info was somehow linked to the fish. It is unclear to what degree this student assumed responsibility for the fish, or to what degree the student was aware of this connection. In fact, information on the student existing at all is scarce. However, as this individual had, at very leat, an internet presence, it was deemed necessary to access this student's text, groupme, iMessage, Facebook, Twitter, and email histories, for puposes of clarification. This was done almost a year and a half after the initial arrival of the fish, and it is unclear how much tampering these accounts underwent during that time. We would love to report that the information was illuminating; unfortunately, it only murkied our understading of the entire event.
Despite evidence of correspondences with various figures of authority, it would seem that this individual was not entirely reponsible for, in control of, or aware of, the scope of the fish occupation of Williams College campus.
Nevertheless, it was decided that these materials should be publicly shared in this report. Whether or not the communications were staged is unclear. However, as the details of this event were obscured from so many different angles by a variety of sources, it seemed excessively convoluted to attempt to hide this information.
Curiously, we were unable to recover any outgoing emails from the account bh4. We thus have no evidence of any replies, at any point in time, to communications such as the one picured above. While some have speculated that they were intentionally fabricated, this is a line of reasoning that became closed to investigation after Heather Williams accepted a position at a reserach university in England, and all communication was with her was lost.
Note, here, the change in email accounts, and the switch from "bh4" to "Beatrix". This is not something we have been able to explain, and it is generally accepted that Professor Williams recieved some sort of communication from the bh4 account. However, this initial exchange seems entirely innocuous, and has not, on its own, raised too many questions.
Professor William's email indicates that bh4 objected to the proposal to laminate the fish, on the grounds of time-based concerns. To the credit of Professor Williams, we note the incredibly sensitivity to what she evidently perceived as an artistic project. Here we also see mention of the impending destruction of the buildings in science quad.
Here, again, arises some confusion. It would seem that Professor Williams's proposal to make the fish a permanent fixture of the Bronfman-TBL bridge was rejected by bh4. Once again, we note that it is unclear as to why bh4 is given either credit or any degree of authority regarding the fish. However, it appears that this authority was of a tenuous quality, as there is evidence of the fish being laminated shortly after May 4th, when this email is dated.
It is also curious that, despite the timeline indicating that bh4 and Professor Williams were still in correspondance when the laminations first appeared and started spreading, there is no acknowledgement of this occurence. Furthermore, the only written acknowledgement we can find of the leg-mutations is from the archives of a phone-based, anonymous gossip app called Yik Yak. However, it is of note that, roughly one week after the fish first arrived on the college campus, they began to mutate, and also to spread. Over the course of the next week, they made significant progress towards filling Science Quad, and many of the fish gained legs.
There are elaborate rumors and descriptions of the events that followed, and yet it is nearly impossible to find any semblance of a record regarding the fish, or really a record of any on-campus event prior to the destruction of science quad.
It is the tendency of young adults, more than any other demographic, to entertain unrealistic ideals on any number of themes: education, ethics, aesthetics, free will, and so forth. Given that a liberal arts college campus is a hub of this brand of naïve idealism, we note that this was precisely the type of environment where these species of fish had the greatest potential to flourish. The fish were, if nothing else, simple. Unlike charities, or education, or interpersonal relationships, they didn't ostensibly serve some dual-purpose with complicated consequences. Furthermore, Williams College purportedly harbors a culture of neurotic individualism. Thus students tended to focus on their own studies more than decorative elements in the environments surrounding them. It is not unreasonable to posit that the fish originally took root in the science quad of the Williams campus for precisely these reasons.
What is fantastical, and more difficult to believe, however, is their subsequent mutation and spreading. As the campus moved towards finals period, the fish seem to have spread throughout the campus, until they became a wholly unexceptional and accepted staple of the campus. On top of this, there was a lapse with reality that of necessity occurs when an entire community enters into the highly caffeinated, dangerously unbalanced, and entirely neurotic atmosphere of finals period. We see, thus, why the campus was far less likely to question small oddities. Having been primed to accept the fish a spreading and morphing phenomenon, the students somehow did not find it odd when their own skin began resembling the patterened exteriors of these fish. It was also unremarkable when the fish, which had all grown legs, lost their scales.
While much of academic research is dedicated to the discovery of essential truths, and the progression of human knowledge, the reality is that humans only desire to know and to be aware of that which they can confidently explain. Despite being part of the history of one such academic community, there is almost no record of the summer of 2016 in Williamstown. The fact that this has remained unquestioned is an excellent testament to the human stubbornness to construct one's own reality, as there is, possibly, no scientific way to explain how, after two weeks of raining and floods, the campus found itself fully submerged. There is less of an explanation for how seemlessly the students, staff, and professors transitioned into swimming across campus, through the hallways of science quad, and past the laminated humans on the walls.
This is a phenomena with analogs in the military, or in high schools, or other environments of with similarly codified standardization. Whatever enabled this parallel world to occur, however, may well go undiscovered. The only records of the buildings that used to stand in science quad take the form of stiff, academic, historical record. Moreover, there is no evidence of any student with the account "bh4", or the name "Beatrix", from this time. While the tale is fascinating, the memory of a college campus is incredibly short-lived, and events that were important to one incarnation of the community are often forgotten and buried by the next. Thus, this archive may be the last record of the strange arrival and departure of the fish on Williams College campus. It is possible that these creatures only ever managed to be noticed during that first week of their existence.