Not being Mike Wallace or part of a contingent of paparazzi, I usually don't hide in bushes or dark stairways to ambush people. But that's exactly where I was a few days ago -- and, oh yeah, on the roof of someone's apartment, too.
We're doing a story on these amateur "assassins," who hide out looking to "kill" their target. Sounds violent, but it's actually part of an elaborate game called "StreetWars: Killer." Think paintball, but played with water guns. And not in some arena, but on the streets of Los Angeles or New York City.
Some 200 people are given a list of targets to kill -- and when I say "kill," I mean shoot with a water gun or hit with a water balloon. So you've got your list. But at the same time, you are on someone else's list. So while you're out there looking for your targets, someone else is looking for you. All you get to start is a picture, a name, some basic info. The players Google each other, look through records, and do all kinds of other stuff to find out where their targets work and play.
We were assigned to "Agent Tuna," a 20-something woman living in Hollywood. We scheduled the interview days earlier and called when we were on our way, but when I knocked on her door, she was so paranoid she wouldn't let us in for 5 minutes, not until we proved we were with CNN and not trying to set her up.
Pretty soon we were on the road, driving by her targets' homes. We were literally crouching in bushes, crawling on the ground, waiting for these people to come home.
I thought this game was silly at first, but after a few hours, I started to feel paranoid too. I was looking around, watching my back, getting nervous about getting found out. Then I would get excited when cars pulled up, thinking it might be our -- or rather, her -- target.
At one point, we climbed up a lady's balcony to hop over to the roof. Later that night, we crouched in a dark stairwell for hours, after "Agent Tuna" got a lead that her target was on her way home.
I asked her: Do you realize how ridiculous we seem sitting here in some alley on a Thursday night? She said she asks herself that question all the time, but the adrenaline rush is so incredible she keeps coming back for more. I found this out for myself.
Just as we were packing to leave, "Agent Tuna's" target finally came home. But she missed. And then she missed her second one too. We waited hours in that dark stairway for her third to arrive. Just when it looked like the night would be a bust, targets two and three ambushed her. Number three got away, but "Agent Tuna" recorded her first "kill" when she blasted target two. Now all she has to do is get the other ones...and watch her own back.