Scary Stories to Tell in Aldrich Park: The Curse of the Anteater

They say that when someone dies, they see their life flash before their eyes. Everything from early childhood up to the moments before they take their last breath, neatly wrapped in a one-second snapshot. But God, I want to forget. I hope that when I die, I forget about the Curse of the Anteater and how scarring my encounter with Peter was.

They say Peter appears when you least expect him. It doesn’t matter if you’re walking to the ARC for a 1AM workout or in line for a grande double macchiato no whip–if he shows up, you’re screwed. I’ve only ever seen him once, but I am one of the few to have survived to tell the tale. 

Almost exactly one year ago, Peter found me. Before then, I had never heard about the Curse of the Anteater. You see, Halloween is terrifying because it not only means it’s cuffing season...but it also means that Peter is out there. The first full moon of October, something happens—something really bad. I don’t know how exactly but our beloved mascot gets possessed by the angry spirits of...ants.

I promise it’s a lot scarier than it sounds. These ants are a violent swarm acting in unison to produce devastating results. Peter becomes Howard Gillman’s worst publicity nightmare. Peter stops showing up to basketball games, he refuses to take selfies with fans, and he loses the ability to correctly make a ‘zot’ sign with his paw/hand/claw/hoof. Oh yeah, and he also becomes manic, erratic, and violent. In short, Peter picks up the bad habits of his ant-possessors: he is everywhere, he bites, and his thick biceps are more than strong enough to carry the weight of a body (dead or alive). 

The details of my encounter with Peter are a bit foggy; when you repress something for so long, you kind of hope it fades from your memory forever. It was Shocktober night, I think. My friends and I had been kicked out when the show ended early and we were walking back to the bus stop. We were together but we weren’t safe. At some point in our walk, I dropped my student ID. I didn’t notice until a few paces later, but when I went to retrieve it someone or something had gotten to it first. It was dark but I could barely make out a fur costume in a basketball tee and shorts.

Something about him felt off. I reached for my ID but he hissed at me. 

I tried to back away. “P-p-eter? This isn’t y-y-ou.” 

He kept coming closer to me. I wanted to scream for my friends, but my voice was quieted by his paw/hand/claw/hoof. The way he whispered zot, zot, zot in my ear like the ticking of a clock...I almost zotted my pants. 

“Katie? Katie!” 

My best friend, Dexter “Famous Dex” Tiewon Gore Jr., could not have shown up soon enough. Dex was armed, thank gosh and when Peter saw Dex’s gun, he huffed and zotted away as mysteriously as he had appeared.

Dex and I were able to rejoin our other friends but I never did get my ID back. I’m just so grateful to have escaped. 

This Halloween, please be careful out there. My one piece of advice: Throw away your pepper spray and carry insecticide instead–just in case the Curse of the Anteater finds you–but pray to the Zot Gods it doesn’t.