December 2021

An Inside Sniff At A COVID Testing Site

“I hear them coming!”
“The humans…”

It is 10AM on a Tuesday morning. And while the Perkins Library COVID testing room might seem quiet, if you listen on a different frequency, you’ll hear the sounds of fear and terror from the least likely source: the cotton swabs. For the Duke students that mindlessly run about their days, testing is yet another obligation. To these misfortuned few, it is a battle for their survival.

“What do we do?”, asks Alice the Cotton Swab.
“Stay put and hope they don’t pick ya, that’s what”, warns Bob the Cotton Swab.
“They already took my mother…”, mourns Alice.
“Those filthy humans, thinking they can just shove us up their… caves… Who knows what dangers lie in those… ”
“Yes, caves.”

The attendant places a few new swabs in the cup. Looks like Alice and Bob have more friends. For now, at least.

“Hey guys, how’s it going? My name’s Charlie- ”, remarks Charlie the Cotton Swab.
“Will you keep it down?!”, chides Bob. “You’re going to draw attention to us!”
“Uhhh… what exactly is the problem, gramps? To me, this is paradise.”
“You gotta be watchful at all times. The humans could come at any time.”
“Uhhh… I was in a big dark box and sealed in a coffin, so I don’t see how this is worse…”

The first student walks in. He’s late for his STATS class, but he’s accepted that. He has to hurry though, his Panera latte is getting cold. He opens up the SymMon app and proceeds to grab and scan a tube.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, buddy, eyes off my label”, Darren (real name MPX-GPHL) the Tube responds. The student unscrews the top of the tube and places him down. “Hey! Not cool, man.”
“Oh no, they’re already taking our Tube brothers…”, replies Bob.
“Ah, come on, gramps, he just took a little bit off his top”, replies Charlie.
“He took off his cap, HIS WHOLE TOP. And if you don’t quiet down, that’s going to be you next!”
“You’re ridiculous…”

The student selects Charlie for his daily test.

“Ha, that tickles”, says Charlie, before being dragged away from his friends.
“Charlie, no!”, screams Bob.
“Whoa… whoa… where are you taking… ah… no.. NO.. NOOO-”, he shouts in fear before his head is dragged senselessly around the rim of the student’s nasal cavity. Three times, just like the instructions.
“Someone get me out!”, Charlie shouts before he’s shoved up the other nostril. Wow, this student is really following the swabbing instructions.
“No! Charlieee!”, cries Alice.
“Not another one…”, laments Bob.

Charlie, still mortified by being forcefully shoved up a human’s nose, then has his leg violently broken off, before being dunked head first into Darren. Darren is grossed out the whole time.

“It’s a hard life for us nose swabs… No one understands our struggle… our misfortune, our dark fate”, mourns Bob.
Charlie coughs and the others quiet down.
“Oh god… that was awful… is it over?”, asks Charlie quietly.

Before Darren can respond, he and Charlie are being zipped in another plastic bag before being placed in a dark bucket. The student, now done with testing, decides to take a few extra face masks as a cute souvenir of his experience. It will be another 6 hours before these poor nose swabs can rest for the night. At WaDuke, it’ll be 8 more hours.

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