Saturday morning we’re out the door early as today’s adventure is coordinated with others for a set time. I know what the adventure will be but Sage is undeterred, she tacks on a special brunch for us and promises I’ve never tried anything like it before.
About 40 minutes and two buses later we’re in Scarborough, surrounded by strip malls. Sage leads me to a building that could just as easily be one of the nondescript Canadian chain restaurants offering food so bland that everyone can agree: the food will be equally disappointing to all but nobody will dislike it so much they’ll regret going. (I’m looking at you, Jack Astor’s)
But looks can be deceiving and we’re actually at Baran’s Turkish Cuisine. When we walk in the door, we’re hit immediately by the smell of wood smoke – there’s a wood oven going for baking bread.
We don’t even see a menu. Sage orders the Turkish Breakfast and we wait. A few minutes later the plates start coming. First comes bread with butter and a delicious spread.
After that more plates come. Fried bread, pastry stuffed with cheese, fresh cucumber and tomato, sliced salami, scrambled eggs, olives, cheese, fried eggs and sausage, an eggplant salad, three different kinds of jam, honey and butter, Nutella and chocolate spread and more bread.
By the time we finish we are well and truly full – and very happy. Every single thing we ate was delicious. As someone who generally eats the same breakfast every day of just a couple of things, having a little bit of a lot of different things was delightful.
Soon it is time to get to the main event of the day, the first suggestion submitted from a reader, Elizabeth.
We meet three other friends all in the 30-40 something range. We get our tickets, give our names for the game. I, Milo, am now waiting with Turtle (Sage) and our friends TheHaj, Terminator, and Ethan.
Soon we’re called with eleven others. Two of them are adults, the remaining participants are all in the 6-8 year old range. We are all laughing now, realizing that we likely walked in on a children’s birthday party. We all wonder if we’re going to be feel OK “shooting” children but before we have time to think about it, the host comes out.
Our host is a small but VERY LOUD woman equipped with a wireless headset mic. She shouts in to the microphone at such a volume that none of us can understand 90% of what she’s saying. We play a quick improv team building game and are ushered in to a small room for our pre-battle briefing. A smaller room means even more echoing for our host and louder echoing of children. Between us I think we’ve got a general idea of what to do but none of us can fully explain it. We’ll have to watch the kids to see what they do. Finally, before we’re released to the next room, we have to chant the Players’ Code:
And in to the airlock we go. We each grab a vest with light sensors on it. The sensors are on the shoulders, stomach and back. Attached to the vest is a light gun. After we are all in our outfits, we’re released in to the arena.
Inside is very dark. Fluorescent paint is on the walls in places. There is music playing reminiscent of mid 90’s acts like Prodigy – or the soundtrack of Quake 2.
Everyone scatters in to the maze of hallways. Ramps lead upstairs where windows let you see who’s below and shoot at them. There are so many corners that it is nerve wracking. You never know who is going to be on the other side.
If there was ever a worry about feeling awkward competing with small children, it went out the door within five minutes. Their small size and agility meant that they seemed to pop up out of nowhere. In a few cases, a group of children would hide behind a person they used as a human shield (who would shout “Human shield coming through!”) and get anyone and everyone in their path. You couldn’t shoot fast enough to get more than one or two of them and so you would be hit – and once hit, your gun inactivates for five seconds.
I knew I would have fun but the experience was more fun than I would ever have expected. Being startled over and over resulted in lots of laughter – especially when it resulted in a gun battle with friends. Sage, in particular, was fun to startle thanks to the hilarious little EEP! she would let out every time.
Of course with so many kids, taking photographs inside is inadvisable so I can’t share any of that. However, thanks to another visitor who posted another visit to YouTube, you can see what it was like.
And how did we do in the end?
We were all soundly beaten by Scorpion. At the end he was recognized for his victory and when he stepped forward it was clear that he was no more than six years old. Six years old and over double my score. Clearly age and experience don’t count for everything.