The hotly anticipated tethered hot air balloon rides that were set to feature at this year’s Dandelion Day (D-Day) were cancelled at the last minute, allegedly due to weather. However, eyewitness accounts suggest that the sole balloon the school had rented was in fact stolen by the ghost of deceased freshwater pirate, Barnabas “Bellowing Barney” Sykes.
According to historical records found in a deep, nearly forgotten corner of Rush Rhees Library, Captain Sykes was ridiculed by his piratical peers for choosing to ply fresh waters. His crew sailed lakes, rivers, and tributaries to sidle up to ports as unintimidating as Milwaukee and Toronto, while the so-called “real” pirates frequented Tortuga and Santo Domingo in their oceangoing vessels.
Sykes met his end on the Genesee near today’s River Campus, when his ship was attacked by a particularly belligerent flock of Canada geese. According to UR naval historian Pippin Reese, it was “kind of a Sully Sullenberger situation, except it was a boat and not a plane, and he did die.”
On D-Day, rising on an unholy tide from the dark and noxious depths of the river Sykes reportedly shook off a layer of typical Genesee riverbed (industrial sludge, Genny Light cans, bike parts, etc.) and loudly proclaimed his return, to the shock of a passing group of completely sober students.
“At long last me hearties, I’ve been dredged out of this damn river!” Sykes allegedly said. “Now to plunder the world of the living!”
The undead scourge of creeks and streams declined an intrepid Campus Times reporter’s request for a statement. He chose instead to cackle wildly through paper-thin, watery lungs as he set his moldering eye on the brightly colored canvas of the lone balloon, which had just been inflated for the day’s activities.
Almost immediately, Sykes leaped into the basket and began slicing away the tethers and weights. As he rose into the air, he was heard to cry, “Now I have a ship that sails the sky! Who’s laughing now, Blackbeard!”
After his brief ascent, however, Captain Sykes had to reckon with the unexpected hurricane-force winds that characterized this past D-Day. Unprepared for sailing a modern airship, the dread pirate quickly lost control and was whisked away to parts unknown. Meteorological data suggests he may have finally hit the ground in Quebec, with a bone-crunching impact that doubtlessly shattered his fragile skeletal form.
It is currently unknown whether the pirate’s awakening was caused by a new side effect of the Genesee’s potently polluted waters, a reanimation ritual performed by engineering students to keep themselves awake for finals, or if overcrowding among the many corpses in the river simply forced them to evict someone, and Barney had been there the longest. Whatever the truth, rest assured that the CT will have the latest updates on the ongoing ship-tuation.