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SCI-FI GAMERS BUZZ

I've got a story in today's New York Times on the science fiction adventure game "I Love Bees." It's sort of a cross between a scavenger hunt and a role-playing game. Players get pretty damn serious about it.

Nothing, not even Hurricane Frances, was going to keep Zach Dill from answering that phone. Everyone else had fled indoors. But with the storm just minutes away, the 24-year-old technical-support specialist stood in a Burger King parking lot in Tampa, Fla., waiting for a pay phone to ring.The skies turned black. Swirling winds began to lift sand and debris off the parking lot and hurl it in a hundred directions. Then came the rain - wave after unrelenting wave of "stinging, cold needles," as Mr. Dill later described it. It fell so hard, he had to put his head next to the receiver to hear the phone ring. When he did finally answer, he gave a series of answers to a series of prerecorded riddles. Then he hung up and headed for his car, soaked and triumphant.Across the country, thousands of people have gone to great lengths to answer such calls as part of an enigmatic science-fiction adventure that its fans call I Love Bees. Mr. Dill's example may be extreme. But driving halfway across a state, corralling hundreds of strangers into group photos and dressing up in futuristic uniforms - all in response to orders received by phone - have become almost commonplace in the game's world."A few of my friends now think I'm pretty much nuts," Mr. Dill said. "My co-workers, they're confused, wondering why I talk about bees all of the time."
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