The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness
When Christ And His Saints Slept
From: C M Harris
To: Operatives: Eric Alnes, Vera Goodchild, Ned Numenor, Taylor Parker-Davis, Belle-Marie Prior, Steven Smith, Theodore Warren
Subject: International Congress for Investigation into Psychism
The International Congress for Investigation into Psychism (ICIP) is a one-off event being organized in Oxford at the end of August 1998. It has the stated purpose of gathering together practitioners of psychic disciplines, both professional and amateur, with the aim of comparing practices, fostering community and conducting a series of experiments.
ICIP is the brainchild of Bernard Jackley, known as 'The Amazing Jackley', a successful stage psychic active in Britain. It was initially supported by Psychic Times magazine, for which Jackley occasionally writes, although the magazine withdrew its support suddenly earlier this summer, for reasons of which we are not aware. The Congress has attracted a great deal of press interest, from fringe and more mainstream organs, and we suspect that Jackley has obtained funding from another source to allow it to go ahead.
a) to establish who, if anyone, is behind the organization of the Congress, and what their covert purposes, if any, might be;
b) to observe the Congress's proceedings and report on any results which might be of interest to SITU.
Cover: You should attend ICIP as members of the press (fringe or mainstream), or as members of the public (amateur psychics or merely interested), as each of you sees fit. A mixed strategy might be most effective, if properly coordinated. SITU agent M I Burgin will arrange suitable accreditation for you where necessary: please make your needs known to him (0850 436165).
Accommodation: has been arranged for you at the Hawkwell House hotel in Iffley, a few minutes drive from Oxford city centre.
Expenses: SITU will reimburse Operatives for all reasonable expenses incurred during the investigation. Receipts will be required.
Extra-legal activity: All Operatives should be aware that, while they may choose to operate outside the Law, they are not above it. SITU does not condone or sanction unlawful activity of any nature. Note that SITU will not act on the behalf of an Operative who is cautioned, arrested, charged, etc, in the course of an investigation. Indeed, if an Operative were to attempt to contact SITU in such a situation, s/he would find all telephone numbers unobtainable and all addresses unoccupied.
Attachment: ICIP programme of events
Wednesday 26th August 1998
14.00 Registration at Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford
15.00 Welcome Address and Introductory Speech, by Mr Bernard 'The Amazing' Jackley
16.00 Whither Psychism? Priorities in a Changing World, by Dr Arnaud Chevrotain, Université de Lille, France
18.30 Sherry and Canapés, The Master's Gardens, Beaufort College
19.30 Dinner, the Great Hall, Beaufort College
Thursday 27th August 1998
9.00 The Zohar, Cartomancy and Cabbalism as a Therapeutic Tool, by Ms Mary Gration, The Sephiroth Centre, London
11.00 Aura Reading: the Hidden Sense?, by Mr Cosmo Landesman, New York, USA
12.30 Lunch, at Beaufort College
14.00 Modern-day Rhabdomancy: Dowsing for N-Rays, by Mr Gottfried Ulek, Karl-Heim-Institut, Frankfurt, Germany
16.00 Life and Times: Psychism in the News, speaker tbc
19.00 Dinner at Beaufort College, followed by Psychic Oxford tour of the city and its University, by Mr Ian Williamson, St Margaret's College
Friday 28th August 1998
9.00 Rhine and his Co-workers: Pioneers in Telepathy, by Dr Anita Rohinder, Duke University, USA
11.00 Rhine Card demonstration and experiment conducted by Dr Rohinder
12.30 Lunch, at Beaufort College
14.00 Psychic Profiling: a New Weapon against Crime, by Detective Inspector Coltrane Roberts, Thames Valley Police
16.00 Closing Speech and Farewell, by Mr Bernard 'The Amazing' Jackley
All events take place within Lecture Theatre B of the Department of Zoology except where otherwise stated
9.00 am, Wednesday 26th August 1998
'Psychics, eh?' says T.R. Warren, his tall form sprawled across the comfortable armchair. 'Not really my speciality, I have to say.' He tosses the briefing onto the table by his side. 'Any of you guys know anything about it?' His grey eyes crinkle to a smile as he glances round the rest of the group.
'If SITU has sent us all onto this investigation, they must have had their reasons for choosing us,' says Dr Eric Alnes, in whose suite they are. It is a considerably larger and nicer standard of accommodation than that allocated to the other operatives. Dr Alnes stands erect, his white hair neatly combed, his face remarkably unlined for the age his slim, delicate hands betray. His slate-grey suit is immaculately tailored, in sharp contrast to T.R.'s battered safari jacket and slacks.
'I wouldn't know about that,' chips in Vera Goodchild, who is standing by the window peering out at the gardens. 'They don't seem all that well organized to me.' She turns to survey the room, silhouetted against the grey morning light: she is a slim blonde in her twenties, wearing simply jeans and a T-shirt, but her manner bespeaks authority beyond her years. 'Not giving us this briefing until this morning, when the Congress starts in a few hours - what sort of way is that to run an operation?' She tuts impatiently.
'You've got to make some allowances, Vera,' says the man sat to her right, Ned Numenor. He is wearing a shirt and tie, but still conveys a generally unprepossessing air of scruffiness: the Miami Marlins baseball cap he wears over his wavy light brown hair does not enhance the effect. 'They did just get their place burnt down - what, a few months back?' From the way he and Vera act around each other, it is clear that they have known each other for some time.
It seems also that both T.R. and Eric know Taylor Parker-Davis, who at that point returns from her room just down the corridor. She is tall, with waves of auburn hair sweeping down over her shoulders, and is wearing a neat lilac suit, with large dangly earrings. She looks to be in her mid twenties, and has the poise of a model. 'That's better! Now then - have you all decided? Press, or public, or something else? I guess we'd better get calling Mike Burgin, if we want him to fix up that accreditation.' Her voice is a warm Southern drawl.
'Wait a minute, now' says Belle-Marie Prior. She is a small, thin girl, with a pale, freckled face and short blonde hair spiking upwards. Her eyes are very green. She has a strong Irish accent. 'Are you telling me _all_ of you people are Americans? And here was me thinking this was a British setup. And you all know each other, too?' She smiles, thinly. 'I didn't think it'd be like this. Are you American, too?' she adds slightly fiercely, turning quickly to the last member of the group.
Steven Smith jerks, startled. 'Er... yes ma'am, I am, I'm afraid.' He is a tall man in his early forties, who has remained completely silent up to this point. He wears a black suit and dark glasses, despite the dim light. 'I don't know any of them either, though, if that's any consolation.'
'Well, whatever our backgrounds, we will be working together on this investigation,' says Eric, and it is once more apparent to the American operatives how similar his voice is to that of NPR newscaster Noah Adams, warm and soothing. 'And I'm sure that we'll get along just fine.'
Vera casts a glance downwards at Ned. 'Well, we've got a few hours to kill, I guess - any ideas? This Department of Zoology place is just about in the city centre, so it won't take long to get there by car.'
'Don't be so sure of that,' puts in T.R. The experience he has had of Oxford's traffic system has been an enlightening one: smoothness and speed of flow does not seem to have been a priority for the town planners.
'Perhaps we could spend some time telling each other about ourselves?' suggests Taylor brightly. She looks around the group for a response.