By Monica Zheng

The Career of a Hapless Assassin

The animals around Harvard play Assassins. Who will come out on top?
By Neil H. Shah and Richard Y. Zhu

Gravi strutted around in the flock of other turkeys, ruffling his tail feathers and wagging his crimson snood. None of the passersby seemed to take notice as they walked to their morning classes. Regardless, his whole performance was a sham — he wasn’t here for mating. While the other male turkeys strutted around in desperation, hoping to woo a group of females across the sidewalk, he peered from the side of his floppy snood at the faces of nearby students.

His target was Annie, a sophomore who, on Wednesday mornings, always races, Peet’s Coffee in hand, to her Econ 1010b lecture in the Science Center. He just needed to keep up the mating act a bit longer. There was no way these humans could differentiate one brown gobbler from another. The curators in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, maybe, but it wasn’t like they ever signed up for the Assassin games, where competitors race to eliminate their targets by touching them with a spoon. And besides, their dusty and half-rotten specimens were almost surely out of sync with the latest in fowl fashion. He spread his tail fan a bit more, waiting for Annie to appear.

There. From across the Science Center Plaza, he saw her — running per usual to the Science Center. He took a few steps in her direction, facing away but keeping her in his peripheral vision the whole time. That’s the advantage of evolving as a prey species over years of November Slaughters, he supposes. Nothing gets past those beady eyes.

Annie was closer now, slowing down as she neared the revolving doors. As she approached, she pulled out her phone. It was almost too easy.

In one powerful swoop, Gravi soared into the air, rapidly closing the distance with a few powerful beats of his wings, clutching a plastic spoon in his talons. As he soared over the distracted human, he tapped her lightly on the shoulder. Gotcha!

“That’s just fowl!” Annie exclaimed as Gravi landed. He cocked his head to one side and looked at her expectantly. She rolled her eyes, letting out an incredulous sigh.

“I still can’t believe I got tagged out by a bird—”

He gave an impatient cluck.

“Fine! My target’s Remy — good luck catching him, buddy. He’ll eat you alive.”

Gravi ignored her mocking tone. Though not as bad as humans, cats had definitely murdered their fair share of his bird brethren over the years. He ruffled his wings, giving a satisfied gobble. Time to go on the hunt again.

Armed with this new information, Gravi paced the Science Center Plaza, formulating a plan of attack. He knew where he could find Remy — at the Barker Center — but that cat was practically untouchable while surrounded by his human acolytes.

He made his way through the Yard, reveling in every opportunity to startle the occasional tourist going about their day. After the 0.4 mile trek, he assumed his position hidden by the Yard gate near Lamont, staking out the entrance to Remy’s favorite hideout.

Gravi stood there for hours. Like most assassin players, the game had become his life; he was willing to do anything, even if it meant approaching his natural predator alone.


Remy the Harvard cat was having quite the day. When he made his usual trip to Barker, this time he was faced with catastrophe: there was no one there to open the door. Glumly, Remy dragged his paws to Lamont Library across the street, distracting students who always seemed to be free despite claiming to be “grinding.”

After a long day of getting pampered and photographed, he decided it was time for a quick bite. When he stepped outside, his whiskers perked up at what he saw: an unsuspecting turkey by the Lamont gate, who for some reason that Remy couldn’t fathom, was fixated on something across the street.

A few minutes later, Remy was licking his lips, picturing the next post on Khuranagram; he could already see the caption: “Saw our friend, Remy, walking through sunny Harvard Yard. Let us all learn from him, spreading love and peace throughout our community.”


Later that evening, as he trotted over to the Science Center for his nightly Cabot excursion, Remy felt an unusual hairball come up. Spitting it out, he examined it closely and gasped as a spoon came into focus. Shit.