Spies of the Old School

I'm living in an apartment with my mother. The apartment complex is rather unusual. The buildings and grounds used to be part of a private school founded over a century ago, which had since lost a lot of its enrollment. The school administration had converted several of the class and faculty-residence buildings into apartments for those with a little too much money and a liking for the anachronistic. And anachronistic, it is. The buildings are in wonderful shape - wood panelling on the walls, slate tile floors, mahogany bannisters, etc. Aside from the lingering odor of boiling cabbage when it gets too warm, the old school is an interesting place to live. I've long-since gotten used to it, but visitors are usually tickled by it, especially the odd floor-plan sometimes created when turning a series of classrooms into private residences.

It's the middle of the night and I'm not sleeping too well. The next day, I'm supposed to take place in an intricate live-action RPG being run by a friend of mine. The game has an espionage theme, and promises a lot of intrigue. My character and costume is all set, and I have obtained permission for the game to be played on the campus - some classes are still taught in one of the school buildings - for the duration.

There is a knock at my front door and, while I'm startled, I'm rather relieved for the excuse to get up. Staring at the ceiling has lost its appeal. I hastily wrap a sheet around myself - not too well, as it immediately starts slipping - and head for the hallway that leads to the front door. To my surprise, the front door is already open, and I can just barely make out the figure of a thin man, standing in the doorway. As my vision adjusts, I recognize him as Kelly, another player in the game that is commencing in the morning. However, I'm promptly blinded as he holds up a Polaroid camera and takes a picture of me - just as I'm losing the struggle with my improvised wrap. I'm surprised, but not too offended - mostly because Kelly is not a stranger.

Kelly seems very serious as he hands me the polaroid, but I can tell that he's in-character, and I'm a little surprised by that. "Here's your copy," he tells me. We both know that, according to the game rules, all photos taken must be Polaroids and given to the subject, but in game-terms, they will be treated as regular color film, of which the photographer keeps the negatives. I forget why that's the rule, but that's just the way it is.

Kelly continues, still in game-voice "You've been photographed with this man," here, he brandishes a copy of a picture of Alex, "and you know you shouldn't have been seeing him.". Again, in terms of the game-setting, I know that to be true. I don't comment, waiting to see what he'll say next. "My people will be in touch." is all he will say, and he turns to leave. Something occurs to him, and he turns back, smiling and obviously out-of-character, "Sorry," he apologizes. "I thought you would be wearing a nightgown." I shrug it off, it's not that much of an issue to me - Kelly and I had a fling at some point in the past, so it's nothing he hasn't seen. I'm much more concerned about the fact that the game has obviously started a few hours early, and no-one told me. Still, there's nothing I can do at the moment - Kelly's character's motives are obviously far sneakier than mine - so I go back to bed.

In the morning, I get up and head down to the small restaurant that the landlords have allowed on campus, to meet with the other players and have some breakfast. The GM is there - a person who is familiar, but not a friend - and I recognize most of the other players: Rob, Alex, Jeff and some others. I ask the GM why the game had started early and he mutters some flimsy excuse about getting Kelly off his back. It doesn't cut much ice with me but, what the heck... A character that isn't in trouble is a boring character.

Finally, we seperate and start moving across the campus, planning to meet our contacts, make whatever dead-letter drops are neccesary, etc. It's a warm, sunny day and the campus grounds are immaculate, as usual, so I'm looking forward to a pleasant day's goofing off. Unfortunately, it's not in the cards.

Some two or three hours later after the game has started, my plot line has stalled and I can't find the other player-characters to try to jump-start it. I'm surprised and a bit vexed, as I know we had arranged to meet at this time, and no-one is in sight, nor has anyone sent a message begging off the meeting. I stomp across campus to go find the others, only to find the GM surrounded by several players who are trying to crash the game (while wearing outlandish space-alien type outfits) and they have somehow managed to entangle all of the other players in the argument. How come I'm always the last to know these things? I wonder, rather angrily. I was all set up for a great game, and some eejit yahoos had to come in and spoil it. I talk to the few players who are on the sidelines - including Rob and Alex - but they have already decided that the game has been ruined and can't be salvaged. Feeling rather pissy, we head back to the restaurant for lunch.




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