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Spacecorps Directive Number 247, officers with false teeth shall not attempt oral sex in zero gravity,” he repeated in his best android voice.

The joke had become dull through repetition, but little Sally giggled anyway, always obliging, until Susan gave her a look which subdued her. Susan could have been right, no point upsetting Kevin even further.

It was times like these when Mark thought he could see the wife’s point about role-players. He could remember a time when it had actually seemed inspiring; back in the good old days, when it was all about new ideas. Interactive storytelling at its best, where everyone could bounce different ideas off each other and somehow it would all fit together into something really inspiring. He’d go home all fired up to get out his sketchpad, and give life to the mental images evoked from a particularly good game. But now, most games seemed to be about listening to some geek arguing about the rules. Or usually one geek in particular.

He had occasionally wondered if he should try another game - this was a small town, but he still knew of at least two other games running locally. There wasn’t a lot else to do round here; not unless you did football hooliganism for kicks, or thought that chain pubs were cool, happening places with a convivial atmosphere. Perhaps Fat John’s game would be a bit better? At least there was a decent pizza place round the corner from his place; that never hurt. Probably how Fat John got his name to start with, come to think of it. But he felt disloyal, and let the thought drop. Andrew would get into a right old huff. He didn’t like to consider why the thought of that made him uneasy.

Last time it was the avalanche, then there was also that time in the cave, when I ended up getting drowned, and before that you arranged for some angry mob to drag me off and burn me for witchcraft. Why are you always picking on me?” Kevin was still whingeing on about the unfairness of his life. Mark suppressed a yawn.

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