The business parts of the tournament and convention were almost over. The awards ceremony was on and they were up to the prize for LARP best costume.
The weekend had gone fairly well, except for the thing with the aquarium and the security footage proved that no-one from the convention had been anywhere near the building when the tank had broken. Afterwards had been different, of course. It had been convention goers, the LARPers in fact, who’d been first on the scene and their feet after the inky black water had flooded a third of the campus. They’d been the ones who’d rescued and revived the building security guard so that the incident had only resulted in injuries and not a death. Their evening play session had been a write off for LARP but excitement had been had by all, especially when the university had gotten all concerned that their kraken was missing. That side of the campus was still taped off.
“And the prize for best LARP costume goes to,” the master of ceremonies made a dramatic pause, “Rob Foussack! Rob played everyone’s favourite modern film noir detective, Matt Sobevsky.”
To applause and cheering a man bounded nimbly up on stage dressed in a long brown overcoat, matching trousers, sneakers, black socks, a Davy Jones tee shirt, sun glasses and a brown fedora. He was handed the trophy, turned to the audience, raised his hat to reveal black wet-look hair, said, “Thank you everyone who voted for me,” bowed, and then bounded back off the stage while replacing his hat.
Next up, introduced by the master of ceremonies as, “And now, a word from one of our sponsors,” was Professor Humbolt Ladd, Chair of Oceanic Studies in the Science Faculty.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began after tapping on the microphone to make sure it was still on, “As I’m sure you are all aware, one of our largest above-ground aquarium tanks ruptured last night. The Faculty’s thanks go to those of you who were instrumental in reducing the secondary damage and injury that resulted from that. However, our rarest specimen, the only example of Octopus robusta giganteus in captivity, has not yet been recovered. There shouldn’t be any danger, they don’t eat nearly as much as you might expect.”
“Excuse me, Professor,” a middle-aged cat girl surrounded by four children dressed as kittens had put up her hand. “What is an Octopus robusta giganteus?”
“Ah,” the professor looked over his glasses, pleased at an intelligent question, “It’s a giant kraken.”
The room went deadly quiet. The word ‘giant’ hadn’t come up before.
“Professor,” the master of ceremonies was being very precise in his speech, “Aren’t they very big?”
“They can fit themselves into smaller spaces than you might expect,” explained the Professor, “And they are excellent mimics and problem solvers. It probably got into the river almost immediately last night and is well on its way out to sea by now, but if anyone sees it, please contact us on the university switchboard. We would like to have it back. Thank you.”
The awards continued, but with more of a ‘we’d like to be finished and out of here air’. Role playing awards, tournament awards and, “Finally our last award for this afternoon,” said the master of ceremonies to much cheering, “Is for most useful LARP participant. It goes to someone who, although he missed yesterday afternoon’s free-play introductions and yesterday evening was a washout, was not only one of the six people who found all the clues in today’s play sessions, but also managed to work out how to open a locked chest vital to today’s play for which all the keys were washed away last night. Mr,” the master of ceremonies was giving it a big wind up, “Rob Foussack!”
The man in the overcoat bounced up to the stage again, accepted his award and bounded off again. Behind him the master of ceremonies wound the ceremony up. By the time he was back to his seat, people were starting to leave. He collected his satchel and left the auditorium with the group of LARPers he’d struck up an acquaintance with last night.
Outside he went with them to the car park, then to the bus stop and then, telling the others that he was close enough to home to walk, he set off on his own in the dusk. He checked he wasn’t being followed, twice, and then he started following his nose to find the harbour – the scent on the air told him it couldn’t be that far.
Now he needed somewhere to live. A place on the water was what he needed. Somewhere private. Give the professor time to get discouraged and stop searching for him. He’d prefer being in the ocean, but the kraken was nothing if not patient. He’d be back out there. He’d be back.