“Ah ha. Finally found a use for that wearable pipe chair you gave me last Christmas.”
“Thanks for showing up Tracy. Like I said, I can’t find him anywhere. We were just scouting around the center of the continent, looking at places. We came here. I realized I had to go do something with the kid again and told him to just stay put till I got back. Then when I returned — and a long drive it was all the way from Pipersville — he’s not here. We talked about renting this house. Real cheap rent. In fact…”
“… it’s free,” finished his lover-on-the-side Tracy Austin. “I saw the sign outside. But this one is rented.”
“It’s in arrears,” he explains. “Just checking out the furniture.”
“Well I *hope* the real renter doesn’t come back.”
“He won’t. *They* won’t.” Second Life is so empty now, he thinks not for the first nor last time. Middle of continents — basically a wasteland.
“So dark in here,” complained Tracy Austin. “Can we get some light in this place? Will these blinds open?”
“Sure.” Craighead Phillips Option 01 touched the blinds to his side and back, automatically opening them.
Tracy Austin peered out. “What’s all this?”
Craighead Phillips Option 01 looked too. “I don’t know. Earth, I suppose.”
Interested, Tracy Austin moved toward the side window to take a closer look at something.
“2701 Bland Road,” she recited, then turned back toward Craighead. “This place got a computer?”
“No, but there’s one down at the office. I spotted it while trying to get out of this town the first time.”
“Do you have a key?” Both laughed at this.
“Well. Is it there? Did you find it?”
“Just a moment,” Tracy Austin requested while still typing away. Then: “Ahh. *Bingo*.” She indicated the screen. “There it is. The same sign.
That’s where he is!”
Craighead Phillips Option 01 put hand to lip. “Jeepers I guess we’ll have to go in after him, then. I can’t exist, I don’t suppose, without Option 02.”
“*You’re* going in. I’m staying here with Katy. If something happens to you I’ll tell her you went away. To France.”
“Uh, I’m not going without a gun. I’ve heard stories…”
“Alright, Uncle Bob has a gun. We’ll go see him first. Then you’ll say goodbye to Katy. Hopefully not for the last time.”
“I know you’re joking…”
“Things use to be better between us.”
“Listen, Craighead. Craighead Phillips Option *01*. We gave you The Freedom, all you wanted. Blue Feather Sea, patterns. Astrologers around every corner. *Everyone* knows their sign. No chance involved in the playing of dice or cards. Freedom — Katy and I. Yet you still hang around with your other family.”
“My *actual* family,” Craighead Phillips corrected, not helping the situation.
“Alright.” Tracy Austin got up from the computer table. “Alright if it’s going to be like this I have a confession. I’ve been seeing someone else. A sailor of the Blue Feather Sea. Older man, admittedly, but I think it’s something real. We may even…”
“Get married?” Craighead was incredulous. “How old?”
“50, 55. Maybe 60. He’s *cool*. He has a good sense of humor. He’s built like a soldier and swears like a pilot. Katy’s met him, but she doesn’t know the circumstances. Yet.”
(to be continued?)