“You run away from a guy with a knife and toward a guy with a pistol. That’s day one stuff, ya dingus. Get off the line.”

“Uh, boss? This guy has a pistol with a bayonet. WWI bringback. Do I run away or run towards?”

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Legend has it that when the 5th Hussars were assigned to charge the enemy at the gates of Nordlitz, they had recently lost their standard-bearer to dysentery. Asking for volunteers, they found on in a new private, who nevertheless worried that he would drop the standard inadvertently, as he was by nature a clumsy man.

He was told that all he had to do was grip firmly, but he fretted about sweat. Upon being told to chalk his hands, he worried about sudden bumps or shocks, Upon being given a lanyard, he worried about the pole splintering. A metal pole was located, and upon being given it he was at last satisfied, declaring that nothing would loose his grip on the unit’s standard.

Reminded that he might yet die, the hussar cried to his compatriots: “LASH ME TO THE POLE THAT THE SIRENS OF DEATH BEAR ME NOT FROM MY DUTY.”

They did so, and he led them into battle and victory at Nordlitz. Upon the battle’s end, his fellows found him near the city wall and congratulated him on a standard well-borne, even then being held aloft.

Only then did they discover that their man was dead, having been carried from this life by a musket ball not long after the battle began. But such had been his preparations that not even death had stayed him from his task, and the Emperor himself reportedly offered the hussar a posthumous promotion.

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MV Seaflake was a charter boat operating out of Shortbeach on the US gulf coast. It was generally rented for fishing expeditions, but had also been used for diving, hauling light cargo, and other odd jobs. On one memorable occasion in 1972, the boat had served as a scab, shrimping with makeshift equipment as part of the management response to the Gulf Coast Shrimp Strike of 1971-72.

On September 6, 1977, the MV Seaflake put out on what was ostensibly a fishing charter. Other boats around the marina recalled the skipper, Joseph Andrews, arguing about money with an unidentified man; they assumed it to have been the aggressive haggling that Andrews was infamous for. In addition to Andrews and his passenger, three other hands, all regular part-timers for Andrews, were aboard.

According to the harbormaster, the MV Seaflake was supposed to return from its charter in 6 hours. When the ship failed to appear after 12, a search and rescue operation was initiated, one that was rapidly complicated by the formation and arrival of Hurricane Cecelia, a Category Three storm, in the gulf.

A small skiff, manned by volunteers and coordinating with the Coast Guard station at the Shortbeach Light, located the MV Seaflake seventy-five miles off course. The vessel had a slight list, and was completely abandoned, her engines disabled for want of fuel.

Photographs and affidavits confirm this part of the story. However, wilder tales soon emerged of a lower deck slick with blood, mysterious packages in the hold, and a “black motorboat” shadowing the rescuers. In any event, no survivors or logs were recovered.

With Hurricane Cecelia bearing down on the rescuers, they ran a tow line to the MV Seaflake. The outer bands of the hurricane snapped the line, however, and the ship was last seen drifting into the eye of the storm.

It has since been regarded as one of the preeminent ghost ships of the area and era, thanks in no small part to the wild tales spread by its would-be rescuers that could not be disproven without the craft itself.

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“My name is Penrose Ridgebear, and I run the Merovingian Lodge,” the woman said. She was solidly built, with the ghosts of her accustomed outfit writ large on her skin.

“Pleased to meet you. The name’s Sam McKeone, but everyone calls me Sproutt.”

Penrose ignored Sprout’s out-thrust hand, offered at an upward angle due to her height. “Do you know what the Merovingian Lodge is for, Sproutt?”

“Tourists?” Sproutt said.

“It is a working wilderness lodge for serious birders who have traveled here, sometimes across our larger oceans, to try and catch a glimpse of LaSalle’s Warbler. It is carefully managed and curated by myself, and others, to preserve the delicate environment the birds need.” Penrose flicked her eyes down at Sproutt, then back toward the carefully curated trail he had wandered off of.

Sproutt looked down. “Ah, I seem to have…yes.” He waked over to the path. “Good as new, eh?”

“If Fish and Wildlife sees you doing that, they’ll close the reserve, cost me thousands of dollars, and leave me with very angry customers from far distant lands. I don’t like having enemies abroad, do you?”

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“So what I’m wondering is, why is this a matter for law enforcement?” Officer Faltermeyer said, squinting at the object in front of him, thumbs beltlooped.

“What I’m wondering is, how is it being powered?” Officer Hickenlooper said.

They’d gotten the call from MetroMart, concerned over unauthorized merriment that didn’t fit their corporate image–their store manager’s exact words to Jimmy Przewalski, the dispatcher. Two squad cars had responded because it was a slow Thursday, and they’d found an old drywall bucket filled with cement with the lopped-off head of a distinctly deciduous tree set in it. It was gaily strung with cheap LED lights, with the wires disappearing into the cement to draw their juice from a hidden, secret source.

“I guess it could be a bomb,” Hickenlooper went on. “Seeing as it seems to have some source of internal power.”

“You think someone would go to all the trouble of making a bomb in the shape of a half-assed Christmas tree?” replied Faltermeyer. “If they really wanted to hurt people, they would have spent ten dollars more for a whole-ass tree and put it at the front.”

“Well sorry, I did not realize you was an expert on bombs as well as Christmas trees,” Hickenlooper whined. “Did you get your Doctor of Trees degree first, or was it Doctor of Bombs?”

“I think someone had a vision that they lacked the arboreal and electrical skills to fully realize,” Faltermeyer drawled. “And upon this sobering realization, they abandoned their creation to which they had given light and life, much as the modern Prometheus Dr. Frankenstein spurned his own creation and recoiled from its ugliness.”

“Doctor of Trees first, then,” Hickenlooper said. “Sounds like there was an English major in there too someplace.”

“If you can’t liven up a weird-ass call on a boring-ass Thursday with a little rhetoric, then what are we even doing in the world?”

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Scattered leaves from a late fall storm
The last of autumn all come at once
Branches laid bare over carpets of orange
Optimism looks at the snowbirds
The frost, the fiery early dusk
In passage of the seasons, beauty
But pessimism lingers, a reflex
Twenty-one months in the making
Is this the Last Autumn
The snowbirds dwindling, last hope fading
The winter of a warming world come forever

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Bred beginning in 1853 by an eccentric nobleman in Shropshire, the Neododo is too large and heavy to fly, while falling considerably short of the mass and height of the extinct dodo, a relative. Lord Hawley’s ultimate project, to reintroduce a bred-back dodo bird to Mauritius for the purposes of establishing a meat industry, was never realized.

As omnivores pigeons can eat meat, but they often prefer vegetable matter instead. This breed, originating in Montana, was an attempt to breed a pidge-of-prey that exclusively ate meat and was able to take living animals. The idea was to establish a bird-fighting ring, but a small population of pigeons that subsisted on carrion was as far as the idea got

Colombe de Levage (Lift-Pidge)
Originating from the Argonne in France, this was an attempt by the French Force de Pigeonne to increase the carrying capacity of carrier pigeons through selective breeding. While they succeeded in quintupling the birds’ cargo capacity by 1888, this was at the expense of range, as the overloaded birds could barely fly a quarter of the distance, leading to the discontinuation of the breeding program by 1910.

Bred in San Francisco by a financier who missed songbirds and was bedeviled by feral pigeons, the Megacoo was an attempt to breed a pigeon that sang like a songbird. Instead, the most that resulted was a pigeon whose coos were 200% louder and 300% longer but otherwise identical. Local legend has it that the pigeons in the Wickham Slope neighborhood are still unusually loud as a result.

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Name: Downy Woodpecker
Peckédex Number: 25
Type: Quiet type, Woodpecker type
Weakness: Noisy type
Evolves From: Downy Wudpequito

A small but powerful entry-level woodpecker, what the downy lacks in size it more than makes up for in speed, maneuverability, and élan.

Peck-Eño – A defense-piercing strike that does modest damage but is nigh unblockable.

Bug Get – The Downy drills into a nearby tree for a tasty bug, which heals it for a moderate amount.

Hang Eight – The Downy uses its powerful zygodactyl claws to hang upside-down, bamboozling foes and increasing its defense against all but Noisy type attacks.

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In this assignment students will:

1. Grapple with the intense existential loneliness that is life.
2. Research and present solutions to the question of life, the universe, and everything.
3. State a clear and concise thesis and support it with 8-10 secondary sources, of which at least 2 must be books.
4. Include a works cited page formatted in such a way that it will be understandable, and relatable, to scholars in 400 years’ time.
5. Complete this assignment in the allotted 24-hour time window between 2am Sunday and 2am Monday during Exam Week.
6. Use 2500 words or less.

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Though ever did I think it
The apple of my eye
When posted to my feed
A swift death it did die

I put out something later
A piece of junk it would seem
I came back to a million views
For it had become a meme

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