Its the day! After months of work, The Offbeat Vol. 17, fall edition will be launched. For anyone in the Lansing area, if you don’t have any hot dates I suggest you stop by Schuler’s Book Store in Okemos between 5:30-7:00. It’ll be great.
And if you’re not in the Lansing area, you should come to the Lansing area. Here’s the address of our party. Come.
Anyway, as a little teaser trailer for our event and for our book, we give you our editor’s note. Its zany, its weird, its wacky. Its exactly The Offbeat editor’s note it should be.
One of the few Managing Editors left in the world walks into a barren wasteland formerly known as Michigan State University. Almost all people have abandoned campus, letting it be overrun by the monsters and dust. But one small stronghold remains, in room 214 Bessey Hall, where the staff of The Offbeat literary magazine are maintaining a safe life. The M.E., Lizzie Oderkirk, is here today with her camera to uncover the truth about rumors of the weird and astounding survival of this brave community.
LIZZIE (Adjusting her shirt and angling her handheld camera, low on battery)
Here we are, outside of MSU’s Bessey Hall. Inside lies one of the last surviving community groups in the Lansing area, The Offbeat staff. Unlike most groups who move around to avoid deadly circumstances, The Offbeat manages to stay in one space, room 214. Perhaps there is something they know that can help lead to human salvation during this dangerous apocalypse.
Lizzie enters the decrepit building and walks up the stairs, cautiously. She stays quiet, because like all buildings nowadays, any corner could be teeming with plague monsters and fiends. After a slow ascent she reaches the room where The Offbeat Staff resides. She knocks on the door, but it creaks itself open.
UNKNOWN VOICE (grumbling)
Lizzie swallows her fear and enters, raising her camera to record everything.
Good afternoon, I’m Lizzie Oderkirk. Today, I’m visiting the editing team of The Offbeat literary journal to ask them a few questions about what survival has meant for them the past few months. You all obviously seem busy, so I won’t take up too much of your time…
Lizzie scans the room to see the unkempt team with shining, red eyes hunched over their computers, despite the fact that there has been no power in this area for months.
…Anyways, thank you so much for having me today! So tell me, what have been the secrets of survival?
Well if you ask me, I think the key to our happiness here really is the fact that we can keep busy. A lot of editing to do. And it never hurts to rework certain pieces…or just retype them. It’s very therapeutic, as you can see.
The temporary silence is filled with the sound of frantic typing and grunting.
And, as with most good things, it will take time to actually get what we’ve been working on in here out into the world. Our writers and their stories deserve the best.
Alayna turns to look at the twitching classroom and then back at the reporter.
It’s all about patience.
…Right. Let’s see what’s going on with everyone else.
Lizzie walks over to the nearest person: Emily, from the design team. Too disgusted with the Dell desktops in the room, she is using Hally’s MacBook because Hally caved and purchased InDesign for herself. Emily is making a flyer, and for what feels like the 100th time, checks the journal’s signature fonts.
Everything has to look perfect.
She flips around, shoving a darkened laptop screen in Lizzie’s face.
Does this look right to you? Is the title aligned with the rest of the text?
EMILY (breathing a sigh of relief)
Good. Onto the next flyer…
Lizzie turns away and sees Nicole, part of the production team, sitting at a desk and muttering to herself briefly between the taps of abacus beads.
Hey, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
Nicole closes her eyes and speaks to herself once more before setting the abacus carefully on the table.
Can you remember the number 3,586 for me?
Sure, I’ve got it recorded. What are you working on?
I’m calculating the character and space count for the journal. There’s something wrong with our equations and calculators keep giving me different numbers. The stories just keep piling up, and they’re all wonderful, so they’re nearly impossible to turn away.
Nicole turns back to her work, but as she does she knocks the abacus off the desk and onto the floor. She stares at it silently in horror as Lizzie backs away.
Lizzie approaches the communications manager, Stephanie. She’s writing for the blog when a plague monster tries to crawl through the window. She beats it with her Chicago Manual of Style, then goes back to work.
Damn! That was impressive.
Thanks! You know, I tend to struggle with focus, but I think I’ve been getting a lot better about it. The blogs and our social media platform are so much more cohesive and on time now! We just really want our writers to see how much we love this journal and them. We even have one comment! It’s all really coming along.
Lizzie nods, but is distracted by someone knocking against her foot. She looks down to find Paulina, another production team member, sitting on the floor, her laptop inches away from her face. Under her breath she is muttering something incoherent about capitalization rules and Oxford commas.
Hey, are you alright?
PAULINA (laughing, eyes wild)
Oh I’m fine. Just editing. Been editing for weeks. Months, maybe. The stories just keep coming in. But where are they coming from? There must be writers still alive out there…They’re what keeps us going.
She looks back at her computer screen and panics.
That’s not how you use a semicolon!!! Excuse me, I have a lot more work to do!
The sound of Hally and Jonathan, two members of the design team, going back and forth about the journal’s layout suddenly fill the room.
WHY can NO ONE seem to wrap their heads around the concept of a Master Sheet?
The process is slowed down as Emily keeps taking Hally’s laptop.
HALLY (mumbling again)
Meanwhile: jittery and exhausted, Jonathan is sitting at his desk scrolling through the layout proof on his computer. Going page by page he double, then triple, then quadruple checks that everything is aligned on the right baseline and that all the fonts are correct.
Hey, do you mind if I check out the journal?
JONATHON (in a raspy, overly energetic voice)
Yeah, of course. If you want I could read–I mean, recite it to you! I’ve read through this thing so many times, I have it memorized like the back of my hand. The stories we have in it are pretty cool, really.
Lizzie takes a seat next to Jonathan, waiting for him to turn his attention back to his screen and begin reading. Instead, he closes his laptop.
Page 1. “Ode to the Pop Culture Novel, or Literary Cliques” by Brian Centrone. “I don’t consider that literature,” she says with an air of authority like a keeper of the gates…
Backing away slowly, Lizzie knows she needs to run for it.
Uh, well, thanks everyone! I’m going to go now!
No one responds, save a few nods in acknowledgement. Lizzie makes a break for it. Outside, she looks around and sees a bright blue bird. It is cheery, unscathed, uninfected. The Offbeat may have lost their minds in this wasteland, but not everything has. She follows the bird, hoping it’ll lead to a safer place. Maybe she’ll find some of those writers.
So there’s our editor’s note, guys! Hope you like it as much as we did.
Continue fabulously writing, see you tonight, and stay weird.
(This post is accredited to our communications team member and blog manager, Stephanie Marceau)