Episode 31 It's that time in the early morning when mistakes are made - mistakes outside of still being at a lock-in in a darkened pub in Soho. Every decision counts and you know that you can't afford to take time off to smell the roses. More importantly, you can't take time to go to the bog - even if your bladder feels like its the size of a medicine ball and filled with hot gravel - because that would be your biggest mistake...
The table waits silently for the PFY to speak while around it sits myself and a couple of other system admins we've often negotiated several pints with. On top of the table is a reasonably substantial amount of cash in notes, coins and IOUs, and beside it a manky old duffel bag destined to carry home someone's winnings...
As first light touches the roofs of the buildings outside, the PFY finally croaks out a sentence.
"Miss Secretary... in reception.... with the Cat-5 Cable," he says.
"SHIT!" he says, as I show him my Cat-5 Cable card, obliging him to add yet another 20 quid to the pot.
Around the table some feverish scrabbling takes place as people update their complicated whodunit matrices... I, meantime, roll the dice wordlessly and advance my counter towards the Comms Room, pausing only to put five quid into the pot.
Charlie (not his real name - in fact I don't even know his real name) to my left rolls the dice and moves his counter to Reception.
"The Bastard, in the Comms Room with the Cable Ties!" he says triumphantly.
"You have to be in the Comms Room to make an accusation in the Comms Room," the PFY snaps testily, no doubt feeling the effects of missing his sleep and toilet breaks.
"No, you can make an accusation in any room - you just have to be in a room!" he responds.
"Not in this game," Charlie's offsider (who may or not be Ted) says. "You have to be IN the room."
"Shit," Charlie says, dropping a 20 into the pot.
Around now everyone realises that the Comms Room is the place to be, AND why I wasted three turns to roll a six to lock the Computer Room door behind me. Ted's roll brings him to the Computer Room door and he barely has time to drop his five quid in the pot before the PFY snatches the dice up and rolls.
I might be over reading this but the tapping of the PFY's counter as he moves from Reception towards the Computer Room does seem a bit aggressive than usual. He drops his five quid into the pot wordlessly and hands me the dice.
A quick five later and I'm in the Comms Room, poised for Victory.
"THE BASTARD, IN THE COMMS ROOM, WITH THE COOLING PIPE!" I cry happily.
Shoot me down in flames if I'm wrong but do I see a glimmer of a smirk on the PFY's face as he reveals his Cooling Pipe card?
I drop my false accusation 20 quid into the pot and contemplate the work of genius that is my personally designed cross referenced chart, running through all the possibles and impossibles.
Charlie's next move only brings him three moves closer to the Computer Room and five quid closer to Bankruptcy, while Ted rolls a six on his first attempt unlocking the Computer Room door and, in his bonus roll, gets another six, then a five, bringing him into the Comms Room with me.
"You could've locked the door," I murmur uncharitably.
"Why bother?" he asks, smiling broadly, "because we all know it was THE BASTARD, IN THE COMMS ROOM, WITH THE FAULTY POWER POINT!!!!!"
A quick round-robin of the table seems to prove his point and he digs amongst the winnings to get to the envelope.
"And the nominees are..." he chuckles, as he one by one reveals the cards within, "The Comms Room, The Bastard and The Faulty Power Point. GENTLEMEN, IT HAS BEEN A PLEASURE!"
While Ted's forcing down a victory pint the rest of us dash to the Gents, noticing as we do that the sun appears to be up and that it's about an hour till work time.
. . . about 2 hours later in Mission Control . . .
"I still can't believe you missed it!" the PFY chuckles. "I showed you the Cooling Pipe card in your first guess."
"Yeah I must have forg.."
My response is cut short by the arrival of the Boss with a long list of complaints and grievances that he's chosen to address today, of all days, when I'm tired, slightly inebriated and broke.
"Don't tell me," the PFY says as I help the groggy Boss back into Mission Control. "THE BASTARD, IN THE COMMS ROOM, WITH THE COOLING PIPE"
"Which only goes to prove you can't be wrong every time," I say, nodding cheerfully. ®