“You called, master?”

The university president received his guests silently, pools of light illuminating his grave features from behind his desk but leaving the others in shadow.

“The time has come,” the president said after a moment. “The accreditation board has called for us to assess. You know what this means.”

“We will need names,” said the tallest and broadest shape among the shadows.

The president gestured to a handwritten list on the desk. “They are already there. Marked for assessination.”

One of the shadowy university assessins stepped forward, hand on the great pencil at their side. “We will assessinate these figures for us, as per the old agreements. But you must do something for us, as well. So it is written.”

“Yes, I know.” A pause. “Two tenured positions and a cushy six-figure administrative job to the Department of Assessination.” The president unsheathed his own pencil and drove its point into his palm, drawing blood. The assessins did the same, and they shook on their commingled fluids.

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