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Friday, June 10, 2016


“What the…?” said the first of them to wake up.

Who are you people?” said the second, a man.

“What is this place?” said the third, a woman.

“Wait a minute,” said the first, a man. “I just woke up. I have no memory of this place, who I am, who you all are, or what we’re doing here. Is it the same for all of you?”

The others at the conference table readily agreed.

“Well, then…” the first said. “We have to assume that we’ve been gassed or hypnotized or somehow had our memories wiped. Before we do anything, we need to figure out who we are. We might be in danger.”

“Is it even possible to wipe someone’s memory but leave them the power of speech?” one of the women asked.

“Only on television,” one of the men answered.

“Obviously, it happened to us,” the first said, “so let’s work on the theory that it is possible. We could be in serious danger. We need to assemble whatever information we can.”

“I remember that we’re in Amarillo, Texas, but not the year,” said the man at the end of the table. The woman beside him pointed at the calendar on the wall. “Same for everybody?” Heads nodded and a few random facts were agreed.

“To figure this out, we have to be able to talk to and about each other,” the first said.

“You’re at the head of the table,” the second one said. “You must be the boss.”

“We don’t know that,” the third one said.

“Ok, then he’s ‘Ace’ and I’m ‘Deuce’,” the second man said. “You’re Trey,” he said to the third one, the woman to his right. “Nice hair, by the way.”

“Thanks, but stay focused.”

“You’re Quad,” Deuce said to the man at the end of the table. “You’re Cinco,” Deuce said to the younger female diagonally across the table. “That makes you Sex,” he said to the woman across the table from him.

“Sex? Really?” she said, kicking Deuce under the table. “Rewind and try again.”

“Sixty?” Deuce suggested, only to get another kick in his knee. “Ok, you’re Hex.” No kick resulted, so they moved on.

“Anybody know anything else about us?” Ace asked.

“I have a wedding ring,” Quad said.

“So do I,” Cinco said. “But all of you are too old to be married to me. I mean, really.”

“I know I’m married, but not to whom,” Trey said.

“What’s this?” Deuce said, grabbing a file folder than had been laying on the table. Going through it, he said to the group: “Good news, bad news. I know who we all are, but we’re not very nice people.” He passed out the six pieces of paper from the file. “I appear to be an Arab terrorist named Ibn Kouskous. I am a chemical engineer and make poison gas bombs.”

“I seem to be an arms dealer named Lana Tigress,” said Trey. “I wonder what the profit margin is on gas bombs?”

“I am a Chechen commando,” Ace said. “My name is Abu Tofu, the Lion of Kandahar.”

“Low Rider Robert,” Quad said. “I seem to be part of a biker gang and I have a cool motorcycle. I wonder if it’s outside?”

“Felicity Ingenue,” Cinco said. “It says I’m a college girl who flew overseas to join some kind of terrorist army called ‘Waswas.’ That can’t be right. I know I graduated from college.”

“So did I,” Hex said. “Anybody else graduate?” Everybody raised their hand.

“My name is Elizabeth Tudor,” Hex said. “I am apparently some kind of assassin. Anybody see a knife around here, a narrow one about this long? And … wait a minute, isn’t tofu some kind of food? And so is cous cous!”

“Wait,” Cinco said,” I have a degree in math. How did I end up in a motorcycle gang?”

“Does anybody know what ‘RPG’ means at the bottom of these pages?” Cinco asked.

“Rocket-propelled grenade,” Ace and Deuce answered in unison.

“Maybe. Let me check my computer,” Hex said as she got up and headed for what was clearly the front of the building, given the opaque glass door and windows. She stopped. “How did I know where my office is?”

“Muscle memory?” Trey suggested. Hex moved on to her office. Quad checked outside but found no motorcycle. Ace headed for the back of the building to find a restroom.

“I am going to look around,” Deuce said, getting up and heading toward the back. He passed a large office with extensive woodwork, a small kitchen, then entered another office where he found an assault rifle and a sub-machinegun. He checked the drawers and found dog treats and chocolate. Returning to the conference table, he presented his finds to Ace.

“Airsoft,” Ace responded. “Some terrorist you are.” Ace brandished the heavy bronze sword he found in another office. “Lion of Kandahar, that’s real enough.”

“Neither one of you is a terrorist,” Hex said, returning to the table. She was not alone. A small dog was trailing along behind her. “I guess he’s mine,” she said. “He was in my office with the door shut. Tag says ‘Wolf’ and that turned out to be his name. I know it’s my office because my fingers remembered the password on the computer.”

“How do you know that’s his name?” Trey asked.

“How do you know I’m not a terrorist?” Deuce asked.

“Social media,” Hex said. “First off, RPG means ‘role-playing game’ so that isn’t really us, just characters in a game we were about to play. We’re actually the owners and employees of a game publishing company.”

She handed around printed pages showing contact information on the website that identified everyone at the table. Trey, headed for the big fancy office, hit Deuce in back of the head and said: “That’s for general principles, hubby.”

“Great,” Deuce said. “I’m married to a stranger, and I’m head of the company and chief designer. We have six ... seven ... eight product lines about which I know absolutely nothing. How are we supposed to make a living from this?”

“Can we run a company we know nothing about?” Ace asked.

“If we spin it right,” Hex said. When others looked at her aghast she explained, “I’m the marketing director. Apparently I know how to spin anything.”

“Only answer the emails you have to,” Trey said. “And check for emails from that person or on that subject to fake an answer. Nobody needs to find out that we don’t remember what we’re doing or what any of these games mean. There’s plenty of money in the bank to keep going to until we figure this out.”

“Speaking of games,” Quad said as he wheeled in a cart loaded with various books.

“My God, are those the rulebooks to the eight product lines?” Deuce asked.

“No, these are just the rulebooks to the first one,” Quad said. “It seems to have about 5,000 pages of rules, charts, scenarios, annexes, and rules changes. Let me go get the other cart. Those other seven product lines’ rulebooks vary from about 50 pages to well over a thousand.”

“Good grief,” Trey said. “What idiot created a game with this many rules?” Ace and Deuce pointed at each other, then grinned and muttered something about muscle memory.

“There is no way you two can fake your way through a game system with this many rules,” Hex said.

“And the rulebooks are so ... ugly,” Cinco said.

“Then there’s just one thing to do,” Trey said. “We’re going to design games with shorter rulebooks!”

Everyone agreed that was the direction to go.

© 2016 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. First appeared in Captain's Log #51.