For most University of Richmond students the last month of class is a time for tests, stress, papers and daydreams of Myrtle Beach. But for a select 100 or so students, April means only one thing: a quick and sudden death for all but one.
"We started with just over 100 people," Austin Nuckols, a junior and UR Assassins game organizer, said. "But now, with a week passed, we're at just under 10."
Assassins has become a campus-wide tradition that takes place every year late in the second semester. Nuckols started running the event last year after the previous organizer, Jeff Hunt, Richmond College '12, graduated. He said setting up the game took collecting the names of the interested people, randomizing the order and giving out targets for each player. From there, Nuckols said, the rules are simple.
"You assassinate your specific target by throwing a sock at them within a week of that target being assigned," Nuckols said. "If you assassinate them, you get their target. If not within the week, you are eliminated, and your assassin gets your target and so on until the circle yields only two people left who have to stand off for the ultimate winner."
While there is a winner in the end, Nuckols said people's motives for playing weren't primarily competitive.
"I think people play because it's nice to have a campus-wide sort of event that's completely free and lets you meet new people although not necessarily in the most conventional of ways," Nuckols said. "It's also nice to have that element of 'the game' around you constantly, as you search for your target and for potential threats."
With the vast majority of participants having died so far, there is no shortage of assassination stories.
"Unfortunately, I am not alive anymore," junior Alex Holva said. "I was assassinated on Saturday in the late morning. I was talking with prospective students on behalf of the Richmond Rowdies when my assassin, Caroline Sparkman Clark, surprised me with a balled up sock to secure the kill. I was a little disappointed that I only killed one target of mine, but the family found it very amusing."
Sophomores Garrett Fundakowski and Carlos Metz didn't survive for too long this year, but both now have an entertaining story of Fundakowski getting killed by someone living on his hall on day one and Metz witnessing a clever escape route.
"She texted me saying, 'Hey, can we talk?'" Fundakowski said. "And then there was a knock followed by a sock. It was quick and painless."
Metz was walking through Marsh Hall during last year's game and witnessed someone escape assassination firsthand.
"A girl was trying to get her target but he fled into the bathroom where you are unable to be assassinated," Metz said. "And he remained there for almost an hour. She tried getting her friends to force him out, but he managed to wait it out and she gave up."
While there can only be one winner, everyone who played is sure to have left with a few good memories and maybe an extra pair of socks or two.
Contact staff writer Jeremy Day at firstname.lastname@example.org