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Rebecca Thomas
Works at Writer, Editor, and Voice Actor
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Rebecca Thomas

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Some first dates are better left to the imagination, so after regrouping with her girlfriends, Travis heads off to her first visit to the pods.

Just so you can appreciate this, I've been designing New Glory since 2006. I added the virtual layer around 2009, and ever since then I've been playing with questions of access, appearance, and interaction. At one point, I had six different means of access cobbled from various sci-fi stories I'd read or seen. But because I've been obsessed with developing in net, actual access to the actual virtual world didn't exist before I started this story. And I didn't actually realize that until I sat down to write this section. So...if things seem a little weird or off, they probably are. ;)

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== == == == ==

“He didn’t even try to kiss you good night? “

Travis shook her head.

“Is he blind? You’re adorable!”

Travis shrugged. “Maybe it’s a first date thing.”

“It’s not a first date thing,” the cousins said together.

“You have to introduce us,” Rose begged. “We’ll get to the root of this.”

“You really don’t have to,” Travis pulled her bag’s strap tighter across herself.

The trio arrived at a building covered in neon lights. “We’re here!” Rose dropped her quest to meet Noel and skipped up to the door.

“It figures your favorite pod arcade is the one that can be seen across the bay,” Gloria rolled her eyes as she walked in past her cousin.

Travis tried to blink away the spots swimming in front of her eyes and stumbled into Rose as she tried to get through the doorway. “That’s worse than a disco.”

Rose laughed and linked arms with Travis, “You’ll get over it. Come on.”

The scene before Travis looked like something out of a futuristic interactive. Escape pod-sized chambers were lined up in rows, back to back, with all manner of pipes and wires running to them them from various columns in the room. I’m going to be eaten by an alien. “I’ve passed out. Right? From the technicolor assault outside?”

“These are pods. They let you actually be in the virtual world.”

“What do you mean?” Travis looked more closely at the one closest to them. Through the window, she could see a padded chair and consoles.

“Like, instead of looking at a screen, you’re actually in the world. You can move around and see things and feel things. The rain is kind of weird, but other than that it’s pretty awesome!”

“’s like an interactive?” Travis walked around the pod as much as she could. Interactive theatres have nothing like this.

“Sort of. Except it’s better. You can actually smell things.”

“Okay.” Travis wrinkled her nose, thinking of some of the more potent items in her inventory. “How does it work?”

“Well, you take your card and swipe it in the door of the pod you want to use.” Rose walked back to a pod next to one Gloria was waiting next to and inserted her card in a slot. The pod’s door, which consisted of the window and the lower metal panel, swung open. “Then you sit down in the chair, log in, and slide your hands into the cuffs.” She sat in the chair. “The door closes. The helmet lowers over your head, and off you go.”

Gloria handed Travis a card and then swiped into the pod she’d been standing beside. Within moments, she’d vanished into the pod and the door had closed behind her. Travis walked over and looked in. Sure enough, a helmet with no visible visor rested on Gloria’s shoulders.

Travis walked back to the pod on the other side of Rose’s. No one was inside, so she swiped her card. The door swung open, revealing something that looked like an escape pod. She looked over and Rose flashed a thumbs up at her and vanished into her own pod. Travis sat down on the chair’s edge. She found the cuffs at the end of the arm rests, and a small keyboard to the right of the chair. She looked up and saw the helmet dangling there, waiting.

It’s like interactives. That’s what Rose said. She started keying in her credentials. What if Mom’s in here? She finished logging in and sat back in the seat. That’s silly. Mom doesn’t do the virtual world. She’s never even mentioned it before. I guess they didn’t have it when she was a kid. The helmet lowered over Travis’ head, and she felt a brief moment of panic as she felt her breath reflected off the metal onto her chin.

The screen lit up with a message to put her hands in the cuffs. She did. A heartbeat later, she felt a cool sensation on her skin, and suddenly she was standing in her home. It looked like she’d been dropped into a cartoon, except she looked down and saw that she herself had become animated. Whoa! 

She traced her hands over her clothes, amazed at how the various materials felt, how each material had its own texture. This is amazing. Why can’t interactives be this interactive?

She heard her home’s door open and turned around, seeing the details of the home pass her just as they would if she were in her apartment. Rose and Gloria, or more correctly Aurabella and Elenaria, walked into her home. Travis, or more correctly Drea, got a whiff of something as her friends got close.

“What is that?” Travis paused for a moment, and then shook her head. “I can talk in here.”

Rose grinned. “It’s better, right? Just wait!”

“Let’s teleport. It’s quicker.” Gloria stood with one hand on her hip. 

“It’s always quicker with you,” Rose snapped. “Drea, you access your inventory by waving your right hand.” Then, she giggled. “Not in game. Your real right hand.”

“Oh!” A moment later, a familiar screen appeared in front of Travis.

“The system can read where you’re looking. Find your teleport and follow us.”

It took a few tries to get the hang of surfing menus by glance, but soon Travis found herself at a city’s edge with her friends. I may never be willing to play on the tablet again.
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Wow, that sounds like fun. Good scene and thanks for sharing. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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A new arc, a new twist for Travis. She's no longer grounded and already making plans to hang out in the virtual world with her girlfriends and failing at making plans to hang out Underground with Will. But other invitations are coming. How will our girl juggle them all?

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== == == == ==

Travis rubbed her eyes. How long have I been staring at a screen? The clock on the workstation said she’d been working on this particular background for forty-five minutes, but it felt more like a month. The background was nothing but a texture of simple shades and gradients that would be blended with others, but she’d done half the gradients wrong and had to re-do them. 

She pushed her chair back to check out her work. The background was kind of pretty, in its own way.

“Whoa, speedster! Save it for the raceway.” Nigel teased as she nearly collided with him.

“Sorry. Just trying to get a better vantage point.”

Nigel looked at the monitor. “It’s like a forest on one of First Health’s drug trials.”

Travis tilted her head. “Yeah, I guess it is.”

Nigel leaned down and squinted at her, “Your eyes are bloodshot. Come on. Let’s go grab lunch.”

“Lunch is good.” Travis agreed. 


Noel was already at the table. Nigel sat down next to his normal chair, leaving Travis the seat opposite Noel. Conversation was almost nonexistent while they ate, Nigel continually casting amused glances at his brother, who responded with a warning glare. 

Finally, Nigel broke the silence, “So, Travis, what are you up to this weekend?” 

“Um, I’m hanging out with my girlfriends.”

“All weekend?”

“No...just Saturday,” 

“Isn’t that just fascinating?” Nigel smiled at Noel. “Would you look at the time? I have to not be here.” And he left, faster than Travis had ever seen him move.

Noel shook his head at his departing sibling. Then, he turned back to Travis. “So, you’re hanging out with the girls again.”

She knew what he was really asking. “Yeah. They’re going to show me around.”

He looked thoughtfully at his emptying plate for a moment, “Do you want to go out?”

“What?” Travis wasn’t sure she’d heard him correctly.

Noel chuckled, an awkward sound. “Sorry. That was abrupt.” He took a deep breath. “Want to go do something that isn’t in the virtual world? Maybe...after work Friday?”

Did he just ask me out? “”

The embarrassment melted away, and Noel smiled. “Great.”

He is kind of cute when he smiles.


“So,” Will caught up with her as she was leaving the studio. “you’re free.”

“I’m free.” She twisted the strap of her bag. “Sort of.”

“Sort of?”

“Yeah. I think I’m going on my first date.”

Will stopped, “Please tell me it’s not that loser Nigel.”

“Do you hate all of the animators?”

“Only the cocky ones,” Will strutted for emphasis.

Travis laughed, “It’s actually his brother.”

“Oh! I don’t really know Noel. He kind of keeps to himself and Nigel.” Will fell in beside Travis. “When is this date happening?”

“Friday night.”

“Oh, good. Then you’re free to come underground Saturday night.”

“I can’t, actually. I’m spending Saturday with the girls.” She chewed her lip.

“Oh,” Will replied. Travis winced at the sharpness in his voice. “Okay, then.”

“We’ll find time, Will. I promise.”

“Sure. See you.” He headed off in the direction of the underground.


Friday evening found Travis pacing her room. Half a dozen outfits lay scattered about the room. The tablet, logged into the virtual world, was half-hidden under a top Travis was still considering.

How about the ruffled top? It’s girly without being too dressy. Travis would never understand how Rose had memorized most of her tiny wardrobe.

Are you sure? Travis held out the top. Noel hadn’t said where they were going or what they were doing, and Travis had little experience dressing for “anything”. What if he wants to go rock climbing or something.

Noel’s not the type, Gloria assured her. Pair it with those cute jeans and a pair of boots. You’ll be fine.

Travis laid out the outfit on her bed, shrugged, and pulled it on. She was just finishing pinning up her hair when Lydia informed her she had a visitor. Wish me luck. She thumbed off the tablet.

Noel was waiting on her side of the common area, “Wow, Travis. You look great.”

Noel looked freshly pressed, a complete change from work. She almost hadn’t recognized him. “Thanks. You, too.” She shuffled him out the door before her parents realized she had a date. She hadn’t told them for fear of how her mother would react...or try to dress her.

Her books all talked about girls going to dances as their first date with their dream guy. Noel wasn’t Travis’s dream guy, and they weren’t headed to a dance. Instead, Noel took her to an observatory park on the bay, and they walked and talked. It was a lot like their lunch times, but with less food and more walking. 

But it also gave Travis her first real look at New Glory. “This area really is pretty.”

Noel laughed. “I figured you hadn’t been out here yet. It’s hard to see the valley when you’re in the city. The MegaCorps like to build up, but ordinances and assassinations have regulated the height of most buildings.”

“Assassinations? Are there a lot here?”

“Not as many as the MegaCorps would have you think, but people do fall off buildings from time to time.”

“That’s true anywhere,” Travis looked out over the bay. “What are the lights over there?”

“That’s the Whispering Crane Monastery. They founded this city...sort of.” When Travis looked at him questioningly, he continued, “They set up their monastery to give them a place to gather away from people while they were traveling. They just did it on a well-traveled path. People gravitated here and started putting down roots.”

“So much for alone time.”

“Yeah. They tried to do something about it, but it nearly destroyed the city. Now, they just hide up there on the peninsula.” He pushed off the railing. “Not exactly date material, is it?”

“No, it’s cool. Thank you for bringing me here.”

Noel smiled.
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I think Travis is slowly learning what it means to be popular and the fact that you can't keep everyone happy at the same time. Thanks for sharing. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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You have to feel sorry for Ben Carter. He's a talented musician. Been touring since his early twenties.Is completely overshadowed by his actress wife. Everywhere. Even at home. But he's a really nice, chill guy, so he doesn't care all that much. And as a dad, he occasionally gets things right, which Travis appreciates. Her mom really can be too intense for the room at times.

Anyway, here we are at the end of Arc 5. Ben has a moment of awesome, and Travis is willing to squander it. Poor kid.

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And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes

== == == == ==

Travis was exploring a garden she’d just discovered when an unexpected knock on her bedroom door interrupted her. “Yes?”

Her dad peeked in the door. “Hey, pumpkin.”

“Hey, Dad.” Travis went back to scrolling over the garden.

“Your mom and I have been talking.” 

No good can come of this. An information card popped up over a particularly drab, withered flower.

“And we’ve realized that maybe a month was excessive. I mean, you’re a good kid. It’s not like you do these things regularly.”

Travis raised an eyebrow.

“I mean, we’ve exposed you to worse. Hell, it’s probably our fault you were even at that party.”

Travis bit back half a dozen responses. Just like my father to try to play the diplomat. She tapped the wilted flower to add it to her inventory. Maybe I can sell it in the marketplace to a mage.

Her dad ran his fingers through his hair and shoved his other hand in his pocket. “Anyway, you’re no longer grounded. Just don’t go to any more of these parties. If you want to drink, come do it with us.” He left, quietly closing the door behind him.

Travis stared at the door for a minute, and then burst out laughing. Did that really just happen? She messaged Rose and Gloria: I’m free.

What does that mean? Gloria responded.

It means I’m not grounded. I can leave the apartment whenever I want.

That’s great news! Rose chimed in. Now, we can show you the best way to hang out in the virtual world.

There’s a better way?

A pair of Yes! responses appeared at the bottom of her screen. We’ll pick you up Saturday afternoon, Rose added.


Travis felt a bit lighter as she walked into the animator workstation that morning. Most of the apprentices had distanced themselves from Melinda and offered Travis a smile or a wave. Melinda hadn’t arrived yet, and Travis wasn’t sorry to see that.

She sat down and logged in, then spent her morning enjoying painting a background. Brice had been impressed at how she’d handled the incident and promoted her from object rendering to backgrounds and set design. He’d been grumpy about it, but the background, but the veteran animators seemed pleased with the decision. For the time being, she was coloring scenes while she watched other background artists work, but she found she really enjoyed the quiet pace of it.

At lunch, she couldn’t find Noel so she sat by herself at their usual table, assuming he’d join her when he got there. But it was Will who sat down instead. “Hey.”

“Hey?” Not that she wasn’t thrilled to see him, but she wanted to ask him so many questions, most of which centered on, “Why have you been avoiding me?”

Will pursed his lips and stared at his tray. 

Oh, goddess. Did I say that out loud?

“I know. I just… I was… I guess I felt jealous because you were starting to hang out with the self-appointed cool kids, and that was a crowd I was never going to be asked to hang with.” He twirled his fork. “I kind of liked being the only person who’d figured out how cool you are.”

“You still think I’m cool?” After everything’s that happened?

Will nodded. “The gang misses you. You should come back.” He finally started eating his lunch.

He didn’t have to say which gang or where. “I’d love to! I’ve missed watching everyone.”

Will grinned. “How about Saturday? We’re holding an exhibition at the business park over in First Health’s sector, right outside the town center.”

“Saturday sounds -” And then she remembered her plans with the girls. “-like I already have plans.” When Will’s face fell, Travis waved her hands. “Oh, no. It’s not what you think. I’m hanging out with my housekeeper’s nieces. They’ve been keeping me company while I’ve been grounded.”

“Oh!” Will’s relief didn’t reach Travis. “Okay, then. Another day.”

“Yes, definitely!”

The two continued to eat their lunches in silence, Travis grateful to have Will’s friendship back.
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Still enjoying this story very much and like how Travis handles growing up. Thanks for sharing. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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This month marks the 150th anniversary of Alice's first trip into Wonderland. #alice150  

Last year, I had the opportunity to narrate both books. Check them out.   
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
- Through the Looking Glass
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Rebecca Thomas

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If you've ever signed up for an MMORPG, then you know the exhilaration that comes with character creation. That chance to explore a different person, to see what it's like to not have to be yourself for a bit. Or maybe you prefer to just be yourself, but in some really awesome armor or with some really cool spells.

Travis never really thought about being someone else and what that might mean. But she's learning.

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And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes   

== == == == ==

Gloria and Rose showed up Saturday afternoon with their tablets and snacks. “Are you ready to get started?” Gloria asked.

“Yes! I’ve been thinking about it all week.” Travis led them to her side of the common area.

“Do you have your tablet?” Rose asked as she set hers on the table. As soon as she had Travis’ tablet, she plopped down in the large chair and started playing with it. She handed it back. “Here you go. You have the program and some special secret content. Don’t tell anyone.” She held her finger to her lips, and Travis mirrored her.

“So, what do I have to do?” Travis searched the screen for an unfamiliar logo.

“Oh, I didn’t put it on your homescreen. That sends the wrong message.”

Travis flipped through her screens until she found it. “The wrong message?”

“Yeah,” Gloria sat on the other end of the couch and tucked her feet under her. “If it’s on your homescreen, people just assume you have a problem.”

“What kind of problem?” Travis watched the opening animation swirl into a logo and a login screen. “What do I do? I don’t have an account. Oh, wait. Is this a tattoo thing?”

“No,” Gloria leaned over. “You have to set up your account.” She touched the screen, and a form appeared.

“They think you’re addicted to the virtual world. And then you have to go to counseling, and you have to do all this stupid stuff to prove you aren’t playing too much. It’s annoying.” Rose tapped on her tablet without looking up.

“If you’re lucky, you get to go through it twice,” Gloria winked.

“Oh.” What kind of game is this? Travis looked at the form. “Name. Seems simple enough” She typed in: Travis Ando.

Gloria laughed. “No. They mean what do you want to be called in game.”

“Oh.” Yes, that makes much more sense. Travis thought, searching for a name. When she was making up her stories, she never gave her characters names. It had never occurred to her to name the figments of her imagination. “What are your names?”

“I’m Elenaria, and Rose is Aurabella.”

Does everyone in the virtual world have such weird, long names? “How did you choose your names?”

Rose giggled. “We wanted to name ourselves Moon and Dawn, and then we decided we wanted fancier names.”

“We were, like, ten years old when we chose our names.” Gloria shrugged.

Travis stared at the screen, running books and interactives through her mind, searching for a name that caught her attention. She finally settled on the nickname from an interactive her mother wasn’t in and typed: Drea

Gloria nodded her approval. “I like it. It’s short and edgy, kind of like your hair.”

“My hair’s not that short,” Travis continued filling in the form, building her character’s physical appearance. “What’s a class?”

“It’s your job in the game.”

“You have to work?” People spend their free time from work doing more work? What kind of crazy town did I move to?

“You’re not explaining it correctly.” Rose set her tablet on her knees. “You know how characters in stories have roles they play. That’s your class, and it decides what kind of skills you can learn and where you can go. Stuff like that.”

“So, it’s kind of important.” Travis scrolled through the list, watching as her character changed clothes and tools and moved around. She finally settled on a martial artist, mesmerized by the animation. 

“Um, are you going to touch the start button?” Gloria nudged Travis’ leg with her foot.

“What?” Travis hadn’t noticed her finger hovering over the button. “I guess I’m not ready for this.”

“What do you mean?” Rose was furiously tapping on her screen.

“Rose, you’re going to break your screen. You need to pick easier spells.” Gloria admonished her cousin. 

Travis stared at the screen. “Well… Things haven’t gone smoothly at work because I’m Mom’s daughter. What if the virtual world doesn’t like me for the same reason, or if they expect things from me, or…” Her voice trailed off.

“Travis, no one is going to know who you are in the real world unless you tell them. You’re playing under a different name.”

“Right.” Why am I so paranoid? She touched the button. The screen dissolved and then resolved into a spacious, sparsely furnished house. Everything seemed to be made from light-colored natural materials. It’s beautiful.

“Hang on, Travis. We’re going to teleport to you.”

Travis’ eyes never left the screen. “Sure.”
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Sounds like Travis is in for the ride of her life. LOL Good scene and thanks for sharing. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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Sometimes, being unfairly grounded is a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to make new friends who introduce you to things, like your current city of residence or one of its more interesting features. ;) What new doors will this open for Travis?

Previous Scene:

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection:
- deviantArt:

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes  

== == == == ==

Melinda made good on her threat, but she miscalculated her impact. While most of the animator apprentices ignored Travis and refused to work on any file with her code on it, the apprentices made up only a small portion of the department. Instead of noticing the boycott, Brice noticed that the apprentices weren’t keeping up with their workload and pulled them aside to discuss how their quality of work impacted their probation.

Travis sat with her hands folded in her lap, casting little more than a sidelong glance at smug, composed Melinda. The other apprentices were looking nervously at Melinda. 

At lunch, some of the apprentices sat together at a table away from Melinda. Travis tried not to smile when she noticed. The queen has fallen.


Life as a grounded teenager in New Glory was getting tiresome. She now had so many designs sketched out and blueprinted that she was certain it would take her and her grandfather a few years to build them all. But with nothing better to do, and with little interest in the books that she still blamed for getting her into this mess, she started working on a new design.

There was a knock at the door. Travis rose to answer it, but her mother stormed out of her room, “Sit.” Travis remained standing, tablet in her hand.

It was Will. “Hello. I was wondering if I could talk to Travis.”

Shiri looked him up and down, “She’s grounded.”

“Yeah, I know. But I was just hoping-,” the rest of that sentence was lost as Shiri shut the door. She shot a pointed look at Travis and slammed the bedroom door behind her as she disappeared.

Travis just watched her. I wonder what Oma and Opa did with her when she got in trouble. I can’t imagine she was any better a kid than I am.


When Travis came out of her room the next morning, there were two girls about her age at the counter eating breakfast. Travis paused, stepped back into her room, and then stepped out again and looked. The girls were still there.

“Good morning, Travis!” Lydia emerged from the pantry. “I hope your mother won’t mind, but I brought my nieces with me. My sister asked me to watch them, and I forgot.” Lydia’s wink told Travis the savvy housekeeper hadn’t forgotten a thing. “Girls, this is Travis. Travis, these are Gloria and Rose.” Each girl waved in turn. “Perhaps you girls can hang out. I”m sure your mother won’t want you to be a bad hostess.”

You don’t know my mother. Travis smiled at the girls, trying to remember what Lydia had told her about them. She didn’t even know what they were studying or where they were doing their apprenticeships. “Sure,” she finally managed, taking the last seat at the counter as Lydia set down a plate of waffles topped with fruit.

The counter was silent as the three finished their breakfast.

“So,” the girl closer to Travis started, “Aunt Lydia says you haven’t lived here very long. Have you been to the virtual world?”

“I haven’t.” Travis admitted.

“Oh, you have to!” The other girl leaned back, her grin brightening her chocolate brown eyes. “It’s so much fun!”

“Well, in some sectors.” The closer girl giggled. “I like to play in CyberMedia’s sector. Gloria bounces between MicroTech and First Health.”

Travis recognized those as the names of some of the MegaCorps in the city. “Is there a difference?”

“Oh, yeah,” Gloria spun in her chair. “Each MegaCorps set up their sector to have a different theme. This sector has a samurai vibe. First Health is all dragons, castles, and wizards. CyberMedia is like legitimate netrunning, except you can’t actually affect anything.”

“And you can play a technomage.” Rosa waved her hands in front of her, casting an imaginary spell.

Gloria rolled her eyes. “Because data ghosts need spells. Anyway, Argent’s sector is retro, like the time before the MegaCorps were the city government, and you do not want to go into InfoSyndicate’s sector.”

“Why not?”

Rosa giggled, “Because it’s like you walked into a giant toon. But the code isn’t stable. I’ve heard people can get trapped in there.”

“That sounds dangerous,” Travis replied. “When I got first got here, I saw a kid with a tablet and goggles. Was he in the virtual world?”

Rosa shifted on her stool, and Gloria shook her head. “He was doing that in public?” 

Travis nodded.

“That idiot,” she snorted. “Remember how I said CyberMedia’s sector was netrunning that wouldn’t get you in trouble. Well, that kid was doing the kind of netrunning that gets you thrown in jail and your tattoo shut down.” She looked at Travis’ wrist. “You do have your tattoo, right?”

Travis held up her arm.

“Nice. Anyway, don’t netrun. Don’t get caught netrunning. Stick to the virtual world. It’s more fun.”

“Oh, so you’ve done some netrunning.”

“No,” Rosa blurted and then covered her mouth with her hands. 

Gloria rolled her eyes with a dramatic sigh. “We haven’t, but we know someone who did. He can’t go anywhere in town without someone accompanying him because most doors won’t let a black tattoo through.”

“Oh.” Travis didn’t know what to say to that. New Glory is more complicated than I thought. “Okay. So… How does one get to the virtual world?”

The girls smiled.
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+Angel Wedge Thanks,. Always nice to have a new reader. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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Thanks to Pendant Productions, I got to do something I'd never done before (never thought I could do, really), and I had so much fun! Check it out if you have a chance!

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Rebecca Thomas

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Are you familiar with DIY MFA's Writer Igniter: It can be a useful tool if you're looking for daily practice prompts. Just push the button and play it where it lands.

I use it from time to time in my own practice; and a couple of months ago I got the following set of cards: B-list celebrity; is abducted by aliens; key; picture of a dilapidated barn in the middle of nowhere. 

Since we're in between Chasing Normal arcs today, I thought I'd post what came from that prompt. It's not complete, but it is amusing. What do you think? Does Annalise deserve the chance to have her story told?

As always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so inclined, and share with others you think would enjoy it. #saturdayscenes   #sciencefiction     #alienabduction  

== == == == ==

"Oh my gosh! You’re that chick from that movie!”

Here we go again. “Yep, that’s me. But my friends call me Annalise from Dwarf Planet.”

The girls giggled. “Okay, Annalise.” There was something off about their voices, something that reminded me of the voice modifiers used in science fiction movies. “We loved your last movie.”

You mean that movie you can’t remember the name of? “Thanks. I had a lot of fun working on it.” That much was true. It turned out working on science fiction movies and getting to play with all of the technobabble really appealed to my inner action-figure-loving kid.

“Have you ever met a real alien?”

I checked my watch. I need to get going, or I’ll miss my call time. “Well, only if you consider Angus an alien.” I winked as I referenced my Scottish co-star who’d made the news last year when he forgot to secure his working visa. “You’ll have to excuse me, but I need to get to work.”

“Yes, you do,” one of the girls said as the other one pulled out what looked like a small pistol. Before I could step away, the girl fired at me. I couldn't move.

The next thing I remembered was standing in a large open field outside a barn. “Where am I?”

“This is our lab. You are going to help us.” The girls were still with me.

“Help? With what? I’m an actress, not a scientist!”

“We have seen you,” said one girl as the other opened the barn doors with what looked like a digital screwdriver, “You can fix computers.”

“I really can’t. Ask anyone. My best friend had to program my phone."

Hands shoved me from behind, and I stumbled into the barn. The doors closed behind me. I took a deep breath and tried to get a good look around the bright white room filled with glowing lights and wires. There were screens and consoles everywhere. Beakers with different jewel-toned liquids rested on a nearby table. It looked so much cooler than my last movie set where the set designer had been going for this vibe. “Whoa!”

In the far corner, a light mouthwash green fluid bubbled and then traveled through tubes to the larger consoles.

Two creatures, just a few shades darker than the fluid, ran around me. “You are the key to helping us restore our computer.”

“I am soooo not your key.” My voice was barely above a whisper.
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Rebecca Thomas

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Travis is taking her first steps into life in the virtual world, and so far it's not too bad. But she has so much to do and so much to learn, and her friends are starting to worry. Is being someone else all it's cracked up to be?

Previous Scene:

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And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes

== == == == ==

Travis followed Gloria and Rose’s characters around the virtual world, continually being reminded to call them Elenaria and Aurabella in the game’s chat system. They showed her the home their characters shared and then showed her the workshop system. While characters could purchase the tools and supplies they needed, her hosts preferred to develop their skills by making the things they needed. They even made a few things to get her started in her home and her class, and then made her character some light armor to wear under her normal garb.

“Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of playing a martial artist?” Travis asked, trying to refuse the armor.

But the girls were insistent, so Travis took it. When she tried to equip it later to see how it looked, an alert popped up warning her she could only wear the armor until she was third level. She managed to swallow her laugh before it escaped, choking herself in the process.

“Are you all right?” Gloria set her tablet on her lap.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just -,” she grabbed her glass off the table, “needed a drink. Got something caught in my throat.”

Gloria didn’t look so sure, but she picked up her tablet again. “Let’s see if we can find your guild hall.”

“What’s a guild hall?” This is like traveling to a foreign country. I’m having to learn a whole new language.

“It’s where you can hang out with other people in your class,” Gloria offered.

“It’s also where you’ll complete most of your training quests. You can also sometimes pick up some really awesome side quests by hanging out in your guild hall.” Rose sipped her drink, eyes fixed on her screen.

“That sounds cool.”

They spent most of the afternoon wandering around trying to find the hall, but apparently it was run by ninjas. Travis kept scanning the screen for other martial artists, but she didn’t see anyone else in similar clothing. Maybe I picked the wrong class. Can you lose at the virtual world?


She made it her own personal quest to find her guild’s hall, if for no other reason than to prove she wasn’t the only martial artist in the game. When she had free time at home, she would open the game and search for a few minutes. Those minutes quickly grew into an hour.

As she wandered, she met other players and discovered she really liked not introducing herself as Travis Ando. Nobody knew who she was beyond Drea the first level martial artist. No one knew who her parents were. For the first time in her life, Travis had some anonymity. This is the coolest feeling ever.

Most people were pretty friendly, welcoming her to the game. A few tried to attack her, only to be taken down by a character or three who didn’t approve of hunting new characters. No one knew where her guild hall was. The martial artist guild had elected to reflect history and remain mysterious.

That wasn’t good enough for Travis. She pulled her tablet out during lunch and continued her search in between bites.

“Are you really playing that here?” Noel asked.

“I just want to find my guild hall. Why is this so difficult?” Travis scrolled the screen.

“Most guilds have secret bases. They think it will keep out the riffraff. I think the only ones who are open about their location are the warrior classes, the mage guild, and the technomage guild. Don’t worry. You’ll find them.” He reached over and took the tablet from her. “But not at work.” He powered it off and handed it back to her.

Travis took it back and shoved it in her bag, and then just stared at her salad.
At home, she pulled out the tablet, powered it on, and let the game load while she changed out of her work clothes. She hummed along with the login screen music as she pulled her hair back and secured it with a rubber band, and then plopped down on her bed and started searching again. She’d nearly caught up to a group of characters who looked like they might be martial artists when her tablet’s battery died.

Drat! She plugged in the tablet to charge and threw herself down on her bed. Now what do I do?
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Oh oh, the first signs of online game addiction. LOL Good scene and thanks for sharing. :)
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Rebecca Thomas

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The necktie/side quest analogy in this week's #WritingExcuses episode is awesome.
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You know...I've wondered more than once why none of these guys are throwing themself at Travis. I mean, she's cute, kind, smart. And she's the daughter of a major interactive star. Who wouldn't be chasing that?

Previous Scene:

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection:
- deviantArt:

And as always, +1 if you like it, comment if you feel so compelled, and share with someone you think would enjoy it. #youngadult   #sciencefiction   #saturdayscenes  

== == == == ==

The virtual world was still on Travis’ mind when she got to work Monday morning. Gloria and Rose promised to come over the following weekend and help her get set up, and Travis was ready to get exploring.

By lunch, it was all Travis could think about. “Do you two hang out in the virtual world?”

Noel muttered, “Everyone has a character in the virtual world.”

Nigel wrinkled his nose. “Nearly everyone experiments with the virtual world at some point.  But it gets lame after a while.”

“Oh?” Travis had spent Saturday afternoon watching Gloria and Rose play, and didn’t think anyone could get bored. It was like a giant game where many of the characters were other real people, and there were so many places to explore.

“Yeah, you just wander around and get roughed up by more experienced players.”

“Only when you’re too lame to pick up any fighting skills, bro.” Noel snickered. “It’s not that bad, but there really isn’t anything to do on there after a while. We’d rather spend our time making things in the real world.”

“Oh,” Travis made a mental note to find out how long the girls had been playing. 

“Anyway,” Nigel reached over and stole a carrot off Travis’ plate, “want to come out with us Friday night?”

“I can’t. I’m grounded.”

“What? You’ve never sneaked out before?” Noel stole a carrot off his brother’s tray.

No, I haven’t. I’ve imagined sneaking out so many times over the last few years, but I could never actually do it. What if I got caught? Mom would never let me out of the apartment ever again. Travis shook her head.

“Really?” Nigel’s eyes were wide. “I’d’ve figured you snuck out all the time the way you talk about your mom.”

“We rarely live somewhere I could sneak out of easily. I have no idea how I would get out of our apartment now.”

“Well, figure it out. We want you to come out with us.”

“O...Okay?” Travis sifted through her salad.


She didn’t give Nigel’s request another thought until the next morning when he ambushed her on her way into the studio. “So?”


“Yeah. Are you coming or not?”

“I don’t know, Nigel. It really is difficult to sneak out of my apartment. I’m twelve stories up with no balcony or ledges.” Travis adjusted her bag on her hip. “Plus, Mom’s gotten really weird about keeping tabs on me lately. Why not just wait until the end of the month when I’m not grounded any more?”

Nigel huffed. “Because. You need to take charge of your life. You’re an apprentice now.”

Travis stopped, “You sound just like Melinda.”

Nigel froze just a few steps ahead of Travis. “Whatever.” He quickened his pace and slipped through the door.

When Travis got to the door, Nigel had already crossed the lobby and made it through the secured door.

“Mornin, sugar!” Lorraine called out.

Travis waved her off as she strode into the studio proper.


When Nigel sat down at lunch, he seemed to be in a better mood. “Look, I’m sorry about what I said to you this morning.”

“Why do you care if I go out with you guys this weekend? What are you doing?”

“We were just going to hang out. It’s not important.”

“It was pretty important to you this morning.”

“It’s just… You’re so…,” Nigel’s voice trailed off, and he sipped at his drink.

“I’m so what?” Travis felt her blood start to boil.

“You’re boring, Travis. do anything.”

Travis blinked as a desperate need to explode raged right under the surface. “I do things. I draw. I help my grandparents. I’ve been to…” She caught herself before she revealed the underground.

“You’ve been where, Travis? To the town center?”

Actually, no. “I’ve been through a seam street.”

Nigel took another sip. “I’m impressed.” 

“You’re kidding.” Travis could feel herself losing patience with the conversation.

“Nope. That’s the first time I’ve heard you actually doing anything interesting.”

Travis was racking her brain, trying to come up with anything else, but failed. “Well, I guess you don’t know me as well as you thought you did.”

“RIght.” Nigel finished his drink and stood up. “Bye, Travis.”

“Whatever,” she muttered.
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+Stanley Morris Thanks! I'll have to keep that in mind. I'm kind of horrible at those kinds of interactions in real life, and forget they exist when I'm writing.
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Rebecca Thomas

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Miss Snark's First Victim has announced a new auction/contest: On the Block.

If you have a polished novel manuscript you'd like to get in front of great agents in a safe environment, you really should look into this. Her previous auction contests have led to a number of writers finding agents and getting their debut novel out.
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Seattle, WA - Boulder, CO - Corpus Christi, TX
Writer. Editor. Voice Actor.
About Me
I am a writer, editor, and digital media producer who has spent most of her life teaching, planning, creating, or performing. After an extensive career teaching and designing educational programming for science museums and tutoring middle school and high school students in math, writing, and study skills, I have returned to my performing and show production roots and wonder why I left in the first place.

Currently, I spend most of my time working on science fiction and fantasy short stories, digital media, and interactive fiction; narrating audiobooks and performing in audio dramas; playing with sound design; and tinkering with video editors. I hope that I’ll be able to move into narrative design and voice acting for crossmedia and interactive projects.

About My Webspaces
We are what we experience. It shapes who we are, what we do, and how we think. This is my experience. This is what I'm reading, seeing, thinking, and creating. This is where I've been and where I'm headed, for better or for worse. The topics may represent a diverse set of interests to you, but to me it's the tightly woven tapestry of my life. Following me won't change your life. It won't even change how you see the world. But hopefully, it will inspire you to think about and pay attention to what shapes and inspires you.

My Following Policy
(I never thought I'd need one of these, but some creative and business folk on Twitter and G+ apparently need manners or maybe a reminder that they aren't in kindergarten or high school anymore.)

My following policy is simple. I make posts that are interesting to me that I hope will be interesting to others, and I follow people who make interesting posts. I don't auto-follow, and I don't expect people to follow me just because I followed them.

I have zero tolerance for serial add/droppers and for those who engage in that behavior trying to build up their numbers. Those people just don't understand social media. 
Bragging rights
As a first year teacher, I had 100% of my geometry class achieve the highest score on the state EOC exam. I'm very proud of her. :)
Science Fiction/Fantasy Reader, Writer, Editor, and Narrator. Digital Storyteller. Voice Actor. Casual Anthropologist. STEAM Enthusiast.
writing, editing, narrating, voice acting, research, curation, blogging, managing social media, teaching, curriculum design
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