American agents, rogue British black ops, and, of course, Russians. One top secret document, two decoys, and a whole lot of gunfire.
That's how my siblings and I spent our Friday evening. It began with Pippin stuffing one of my old purses full of spy gear -- 'fake' ID, driver's lisence, credit card, a gun, and some 'cash' -- and giving it to Rosie along with a top secret document for her to keep safe. All through the day, between the rest of daily life, the satchel was stolen and re-stolen by Rosie and Pippin, and Percy and Seph, who quickly joined in on the little game.
But this evening, it all came to a grand climax. I can't even remember how the game started, but all of the sudden, ammo-less nerf and airsoft guns were firing, and it came time for everyone to choose a side.
"How many sides are there?" I whispered to Percy while we hid together in a hallway, our guns ready. "Two sides...... or three?"
I had to know whether or not I was going to team up with him, or if in the end we would have to be enemies. Pippin had entrusted me with the satchel earlier that day. I'd seen the top secret document. Not only that, but I was responsible for more secretly hiding the actual document within its yellow envelope. No one else but Pippin and I knew of this arrangement, so it would be a cinch to give Percy this info, stage an ambush, and make sure he got the right file. Then we'd both split and sell it to the highest bidder.
So two sides, or three?
As the game continued, the sides became more and more distinct. Amidst the crossfire, alliances had to be formed, or there would be no chance of survival or success for any of us. Pippin and Rosie, government agents, the real owners of the document. Percy and Seph, rogue British black ops. The younger children of the group played the very convenient -- or inconvenient at times -- role of a Russian Mob. This they enjoyed quite a bit, as it meant they could shoot any or all of us and throw grenades and bombs. Wildcards, if you will.
In the end, I declared my final loyalty to my sisters, the American government. Though of course, this meant betrayal to Percy. Not that he had to know right away..... I allowed Percy and Seph to believe I was still on their side, with the idea of tricking them into believing one of the decoy documents was the real document, and thus ensuring the actual real document ended up in the right hands.
This was far trickier than I imagined. Several slip ups, and many complications in maintaining my cover, ended up in the document constantly swapping hands. A third document was created to cause further confusion, but the documents weren't the only things changing sides. In one confrontation in the kitchen, Seph revealed himself as a mole. American CIA. Which left Percy alone in his villainous task.
Or did it?
Losing trust with both sides, suffering guilt for my betrayal to Percy, and beginning to doubt Seph's own story about being a mole, I became more and more desperate. I took heart in the knowledge that Pippin had, she said, hidden the document somewhere safe.
Bullets flew, almost as fast as the accusations. Seph captured Percy and turned him over to Pippin and Rosie. Was he really a mole afterall? In an epic escape that involved shooting his captors with his guard's own gun, Percy escaped. When I returned to his hideout, I discovered Seph, who had apparently helped engineer the entire mission. Not a mole?
Neither side trusted me. I was held at gunpoint and shot by both sides so many times, neither of them could tell for sure whether I was working for them or playing them.
At last came the showdown. After a dizzying firefight, Percy, Seph, and I ended up back upstairs in the hideout. Percy drew his gun on both of us.
"Tell me which one of you is the mole."
Seph accused me. I accused him. Even though I was certain by now that his whole mole gig was just an act to get on Pippin and Rosie's good side.
Percy made us drop our weapons, at which point Seph quite willingly produced one.....then two......then three yellow envelopes, all marked top secret. I panicked. Pippin said she'd hidden the document somewhere safe! I couldn't fathom how Seph had gotten his hands on it. And I was out of plans for how to get it back, except cling to the fact that Percy still thought one of the decoys was the real deal.
"Verify it." He ordered, still holding us at gunpoint.
I did so. On the decoy. I insisted it was the real thing. Seph decried my efforts, saying I was a mole, so how could I be trusted? I flipped the same accusation on him. After all, he was in the same spot as I was, looking just as suspicious because of his infiltration attempts.
The argument grew heated. Percy finally ordered us both to back away. A silence ensued, then at last, he shot us both, and took off with all three of the documents.
We called a halt to the game there, as it was getting late. We all sat down and revealed our secrets. Mostly who was working with who, for it had become quite difficult to ascertain loyalties in the end. As I'd suspected, Seph wasn't really a mole; his loyalties remained with Percy. Percy was shocked to discover my betrayal and trickery, which I informed him I still felt bad about. Pippin told me she'd always trusted me, even though Rosie admitted she had grown exceedingly suspicious of my actions several times.
And then the bomb. I sighed about the villains having gotten the document. Until Pippin reached into her pocket, and pulled the real top secret document out of her pocket. We all gasped. I couldn't believe it.
"I took it out of the envelope just before the last fight," She explained with a grin. "and I hid it under the piano. Only Rosie knew about it."
So Percy had escaped with two decoys, and an empty envelope! I had been panicking that he'd gotten it, when Pippin had had it all along! Seph had stolen worthless information, and he hadn't even known it.
And this is why we still play Imagination Games. Completely impromptu, completely unscripted, completely awesome. And what's more, we played this entirely inside, with no more costuming than a few fedoras, a red trench coat, and some plastic guns.
I love my family.