Lavan was my first LARP character, and remains the only one I’ve played over a long period of time. When I started attending the Nexus LARP it was fairly obvious that I was new to LARP and still relatively new to RP. He had a loose background and motivation details but he lacked an actual character, a defined personality trait. Not surprisingly the first event I played him in a manner that ultimately wasn’t him, wasn’t the character. It did however come to help define him fully.
By the last Nexus event, around 5 years ago now, he’d become what I can only describe as a person in his own right. He’d developed in so many ways that I hadn’t expected, going from an obsessive scientist (heh, he was one of my first RP characters, I went with what I knew) to second in command of the settlement medical facility, general settlement representative (on first the council and when that folded as rep to Corona Corp) and overall respected member of the settlement. I even managed to work in why he drank so much coffee, severe and chronic insomnia (out of character I was drinking a lot of coffee simply because most of the evenings at Nexus were spent socialising and drinking) that between events saw him taking the graveyard shift on a regular basis. In summary I enjoyed playing Lavan and would love to do so again if I could. This short fic was written while I was still playing Lavan and focuses on why he got his first tattoo.
A Simple Thing
Walking into the room that served as the tattoo parlour was like walking into another world. Outside it was the middle of the day, the sun was high and things were starting to heat up, already the humidity was reaching beyond what Lavan would call comfortable. As the door closed behind him he had to pause, to give his eyes a second or two to adjust to the darkness that seemed to engulf everything. All that he could clearly see was a chair in the middle of the room, old and faded though no doubt still in regular use. Adding to the darkness was a smell that had become familiar recently. He’d never really been able to describe it beyond smelling like tobacco but different. Which was fair enough he supposed given that the origin was one of the genetically modified tobacco plants, a combination of the original plant, genes to make it grow well in the UK climate and something people referred to as weed. As it was mainly the older generations that called it that he’d always assumed it was a pre-fall term for some other plant.
“Whaddaya want?” The voice had come from the corner of the room and now as his eyes really got used to the light he could see somebody sitting there, a large man with long untamed hair tied into a simple ponytail, a bottle of something hanging from one hand. “Well kid whaddaya want?” the man asked again, starting to sound a little annoyed with the teenager standing in at the other side of the small room.
“I’m here for a tattoo of course, the guys at the plant said this was the only place in town to get them,” Lavan managed to reply though his voice seemed to fade before it could have possibly reached the man in the corner, almost as if it had been swallowed by the darkness, however silly that sounded to the voice of reason at the back of Lavan’s head. That was the same voice that had tried to convince him this wasn’t required, that it was a stupid .
Lifting himself up from the stool he was perched on the tattooist took the few steps required to bring him level with Lavan, though given their respective heights Lavan had to tilt his head back a considerable way to get a look at the guys face. “Yeah well they’re right, and contrary to local rumour I stick to Corona’s rules, nobody under 18 gets a tattoo and that’s that. So you old enough then?”
“Of course” was Lavan’s automatic reply, the lie being much easier than he’d have expected it to be. In actual fact though he was barely 16, his birthday having been a couple of months previously. After that it hadn’t taken him long to decide to leave home, too many memories were associated with that place and even though almost a year had passed since that event most of those memories were still of those last few days. So he’d ended up here, yet another sector 4 town, identical to all the others in the area, creating the basic goods that kept the sector 3 settlements going, a chain that seemed to repeat itself all the way up to the fabled Sanctuary districts. Not that he’d ever gotten anywhere near one of those, the best he’d managed was the town in which he’d grown up on the outskirts of sector 3, barely 20 miles from where he was now.
Pulling his hand out of his trouser pocket Lavan passed the neatly folded piece of paper to the tattooist, the design he wanted drawn on it along with the details of where and what colour he wanted it to be put. It was, as Lavan had come to think of it, just a simple thing. Looking at it though the tattooist mumbled to himself, barely audible to Lavan despite being only a step or two away. “simple…. 20 mins…. right arm….12” During this his eyes flicked once from the paper and over to Lavan, pausing for a second, wandering what the significance of the design was. Given the number of people that had passed through he knew there was always some significance to these things, especially when the design was as basic as the one he’d just been given
After what seemed like an eternity to Lavan the tattooist started talking loud enough to be heard properly. “Something like that, will cost ya…. say $40 dollars for me to do, assuming you want it done properly that is.” That was a lie, both of them knew that. The price for the tattoo was normally about $25, the rest was simply the price of Lavan’s earlier lie about his age. Reaching into a pocket on his jacket he pulled out the collection of creased and crumpled notes that he’d accumulated since he’d gotten into town, $40 was only just short of how much he had, food would be short for a while it seemed. Despite knowing this his hand never hesitated as he counted the money out, reconsidering wasn’t something he was willing to do, not for this.
20 minutes later Lavan walked out of the room and its darkness though he’d return to that tattoo parlour at least once more to get further designs inked into his skin. Unconsciously he placed his left hand over the design, even though it was covered up by a simple bandage until his skin had settled down a bit. As time passed it became something of a habit, without realising he’d often reach out to touch the design when his mind was unsettled, drawing comfort from the knowledge that even if he forgot everything else he’d never forget that. After all without knowing where he’d come from how could he ever find where he was heading to?