COLUMN: The DEN is not real, I just made it up


Rob Le Cates

Will Padgett is a first year graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Will Padgett

First off, just let me say…gotcha!

I totally pranked every person reading this! You all thought that The Daily Eastern News was EIU’s paper for over 100 years when really it was just something I made up at the beginning of the semester.

Everyone on the DEN staff is actually a hired actor who merely pretended to work for the school paper.

All the printed editions you’ve seen around campus? I actually just took other newspapers and glued the respective articles onto them and had them indiscriminately strewn about campus.

You may be asking, “Yeah, right. If you just made it up a month ago, how come there are issues from the early 1900’s?”

Well, let me ask you this: Do you have any idea how easy it is to just type dates onto paper? It’s, like, really easy watch: 1930, 1967,1989. Look at that, I just typed three years like it was nothing! Oh, the paper looks old? That’s just a lot of grit, spit, and coffee spilled onto the pages.

I understand that some of you may think I’m joking, but the clues were there all along. Here’s a little breadcrumb for you aspiring detectives out there: Take every other letter of every other word from every other article written in the paper so far and write them down.

From there, use a right two-shift Caesar Cipher to decode the first third of the message. After that, take the first digit of the year from every article written in the last 20 years and put it into binary to decode the second third of the message.

Lastly, and this is the most crucial step, you need to bring me at least five Jolly Ranchers per letter of the last part of the message which has a total of 13 letters in all.

Once you’ve decoded all three parts of the message, put them together and meet me by the Clocktower at the south exit of Booth Library at precisely 1:12pm on October 31st. You’ll know me when you see me.

I bet you’re dying to know why I would go through the trouble of arranging such an elaborate scheme just to pull a fast one on all of you.

The message whose steps to obtaining I’ve just detailed to you, contains all you’ll need to know. I also have to warn you against asking any of the other DEN staff members about whether anything I’ve said in this column is true.

If you ask them whether the paper is real or not, they’re trained to give you a confused look and ask what you’re going on about. I’ll also know if you cheated in any of the decryption tasks so abide by the honor system.

If you manage to fully piece together the message and deliver it to me, you’ll be rewarded with a crisp $1 bill, a head pat, and a one-way ticket to Gary, Indiana (you won’t be allowed to return to EIU unfortunately).

It is my solemn hope that there is a brave soul among you willing to accept this challenge and find out for yourself my true motivations for creating the DEN.

It’s been called “the last great mystery” by quite a few scholars whose names I may or may not have made up. The effort may seem to outweigh the reward, but can you put a price on knowledge? If you’re a public university in the United States you can and boy, they’re sure proud of that fact.

Will Padgett is an English graduate student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.