I enjoy living my life like a film noir, complete with a fedora, cigar — oh, and a magnifying glass. When my professors ask where I was during class time, I only have one answer: searching for clues. You might catch me peering through a suspicious keyhole or sitting on the wrong side of a two-way mirror (I get confused by them). Finally, my last name is Matlock, a reference to a private eye show from the eighties. Ask your parents, it’s real. So when I transferred here to UTD, almost immediately I felt that something was just… off. It started at my orientation session. After I had learned about the Comet Whoosh — which is itself a practice giving rise to a great many red flags — my cigarette pack fell from my bag directly in front of both the school police officer and my mother. I didn’t remember packing them, and hadn’t had one in a while, but there they were. I smiled weakly and got chewed out by my mom. I thought it was maybe just a weird occurrence, something small that just ruined my day a little. Until I started class. 

I arrived on campus at almost exactly 1:00 in the afternoon, which would allow me plenty of time to get to class at 2:30 and grab my very first Comet Card along the way. As I pulled into the parking lot, I spotted a lone space, open for the grabbing. I tried to pull into it, but a maintenance truck quickly cut me off. A large figure emerged from the vehicle and scurried off in the direction of the Student Success Center. This delayed my arrival by another 15 minutes. I remember being more than mildly annoyed, but nevertheless made my way to the center of campus — until I saw that the wait time for a Comet Card would make me 30 minutes late to my first class.  As I tried to find that class, the map on my UTD app began to glitch, and I wandered in circles around campus in the bitter wind until I finally retired in the library. So far, I had missed my first parking spot, my first class, and was now suffering from severe frostbite (my lips were chapped). My detective alarm bells began to ring. Why am I so annoyed? Is it really like this everyday? Is there a group responsible for my misery or was it just one person? Most importantly, who was that dark figure and why’d they run like Michael Cera in “Superbad?”

As I settled into student life, the annoyances only got worse. I was able to find my classes, but the rooms had a weird sour smell. Even in the morning classes where the rooms hadn’t been used yet, the slightly sweet smell of flatulence lingered in the air. Sometimes it would hit me mid-lecture. I would be calmly taking notes when something would make my nose flare. I looked up and around and leaned back in my chair to inspect behind myself, but no one seemed guilty. I swear I heard a creak in the ceiling above me, and the flash of movement in the air vent. Is UTD just kinda stinky? Are people crop dusting everyone else as some sort of hobby? Or is there something deeper going on here? I mean, I knew there were a lot of engineering students here, but I never thought I’d be smelling them in my classes.

As I returned to my car that evening, which I had specifically parked in the correct color spot, I saw a ticket stuck in my windshield wipers. It turned out to be something much more disturbing. A strange note, written using only magazine letter cutouts from none other than the most recent edition of AMP! As I opened it, I was hit with a wave of rotten egg stench, something very similar to what I noticed earlier in my classes. It read as follows: 

I’ve seen you noticing. Careful what you wish four, and watch. Youre. Step. 

Shaken up, I hopped in my car, scared of what I had gotten myself into. I mean, what sort of idiot writes four instead of for? This had to be the person that was torturing me and the other students with their lowly pranks. I wasn’t sure how to handle a crook with fourth grade level reading comprehension skills, but it was up to me to try. 

As I examined the note further, I noticed something. It was signed with a name that started with a strange symbol, like a spiral. Thinking this was a weird way to write a name, I quickly pulled out my phone and got on X (formally known as Twitter). And there I hit gold. It wasn’t a spiral, but an atsign. This was the name of an account with the same style of misspelling words, and appeared to be an internet troll. The owner posted long threads as to why Temoc sucks, why good students are nerds, and other nineties-movie insults against regular people who just wanted to have a calm day on campus. They didn’t seem to be incredibly smart; after all, why would they just leave this pile of evidence in my lap? I refreshed the page, and a new tweet appeared. 

Check the bottom of your shoo, detective.

I checked. A piece of gum was smeared along the underside of my sole, stuck full of dirt and hair. I rolled my eyes. How? Why? And why so much? It was as if five pieces of gum had been all chewed together to make one big, gross, brown blob. 

Got you.

Whoever this troll was, it seemed their whole purpose was to disrupt student’s days with annoyances, bringing down morale and the sense of community that Temoc worked so hard to bring into UTD. Was this a budding rival? An anti-Temoc? And if so, what were they going to do next?

So, dear reader, while I continue to investigate these crimes, I ask you to be vigilant and keep an eye out for this malicious character. Maybe you can help me find the true source behind these offenses to our UTD way of life.