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Rebecca Thomas
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Lives in San Antonio, TX
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Rebecca Thomas

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Remember how I said I had a couple of #audiobooks releasing soon? Well, they both released on Monday (the same day as the #audiodrama I wasn't expecting), and I just found out.

Won't you please give them a listen? :)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: http://adbl.co/1SQkFUc
The Marvelous Land of Oz: http://adbl.co/1SQkHvk
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Rebecca Thomas

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This was not on the list of #audiodramas I was referring to the other day, but happy to see it out in the world. :)
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I mentioned a while back that I would be ending Chasing Normal, and here we are at the last installment. If you've stuck it out this long, thank you. :)

I came into Saturday Scenes, and Chasing Normal itself, with a goal of trying to get back into a writing habit. And I've accomplished that. But I need to focus my energies on the projects that fell by the wayside while I was lost. So I'll still be writing. I just won't be writing here.

Again, my thanks to everyone who read even one scene of this story. You've helped this poor little writer find her feet again.

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene47

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: bit.ly/CNwattpad

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 next morning, Travis got ready for work and headed out the door. But with each step, the previous night’s dinner weighed on her. It was like watching the light at the end of the tunnel drift away. Without realizing it, her steps turned to shuffling, and veered away from the studio.

Several minutes later, her avatar was sitting on the floor of her virtual home playing with her creature companion, who wagged its tail and barked and flipped when it saw her. She smiled at the creature’s happiness, and wished she could bottle it up and take it with her.

But she tethered the creature to her avatar and headed out into the world. They explored a new area that had recently opened up, not really running into people, because nearly everyone was at school or work. She picked up a few new quests, even completed a couple of them.

Eventually, she realized she had to head back to her grandparents, so she bid farewell to the creature and logged out. As she exited the arcade, she saw a familiar figure once again sitting on a nearby bench. She wanted to run back inside, but instead walked over and sat down next to her grandfather. “I’m sorry.”

“You are a very lucky girl.” Travis didn’t respond. “You’ve had access to a good education. You have a good apprenticeship.” She still sat quietly, tears trickling down her cheek as her grandfather gave her the same lecture he did the last time he met her at the arcade. “You have good friends.” He finally looked at her. “Your grandmother and I do believe you’re fully capable of living in the apprentice apartments, but you’re not winning any points when you hide out here instead of going to work.”

“I know,” Travis whispered.

“We can’t keep supporting you, if you keep making the wrong decisions.” Travis nodded, nearly breaking her fingers as she wrung her hands in her lap. “So, I think it’s best if you resign from the virtual world.”

He waited for a response, but there wasn’t anything she could say. They’d had this conversation before. Nearly everyone had felt the need to get on her about her virtual world activities. Everyone except her parents. She took a deep breath, “I’ll try.”

“It can’t be ‘try’ any more, Travis. You aren’t trying at all. It has to be total, or you’ll have to go back to your parents’ apartment.”

She found those terms harsh. Maybe they need to be. She swallowed back a sob and subtly nodded. He held out his hand, and she fished out her access card and handed it over to him.

“Are there any others?”

She smirked, and then shook her head.

“And you’ll have to delete it off your tablet.”

Travis thought about her new little friend and her house and her quests. “I need to close it down first.”

“All right.” He didn’t move.

Realizing they wouldn’t be going anywhere until she’d cut off all her connections to the virtual world, she pulled out her tablet, gifted everything from her inventory that needed tending to Rose and Gloria’s characters with notes explaining what was going on. Then, she put her character into pause mode, logged out, and deleted the program.

Her grandfather smiled. “I’m sure your friends will take good care of things until you come back.”

“I’ll get to go back?” Travis asked hopefully.

“Once you’re done with your apprenticeship, we’ll talk about it.”

All things considered, it was better than what Travis felt she deserved.

==

The following weekend, Travis, her grandparents, and her father met at the apprentice apartments preferred by Sai Anto Productions and got Travis set up with her own apartment. It was on one of the higher floors, but the view of New Glory was amazing. She could see the spires of the southern monastery in the distance.

She didn’t have much to move in, but her grandparents helped her find furniture, and her father packed up some things from the apartment he knew Shiri wouldn’t miss, but might remind Travis of her exciting life before they got to New Glory. She had to bite back a laugh at his definition of “exciting”.

The girls had been only too happy to take in her creature and the other things she entrusted to them, but they had prints made of her life in the virtual world and helped her hang them in the apartment. “You never really forget,” Rose explained, “and this way you can still have it with you.”

Travis appreciated the gesture.

After she had everything settled, she invited Will and the girls to come hang out. They ate snacks and watched interactives, laughing at each other as they each took turns moving through the story. As she bid everyone good night and settled back into the chair she set near the windows, she looked out over New Glory and realized she finally did have the life she’d always dreamed of - her freedom and good friends.

== == == == ==

This may seem a little odd at the end of the story, but if you got this far, then I'm hoping that means you enjoy reading what I've written. It's you that I'd like to invite to support my continued writing efforts on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/kirylin

Aside from giving me the means to continue writing and working on my storytelling skills, you can get little perks like sneak peeks, exclusive stories, and inspiration to jump start your own work. I hope you'll consider supporting my work.
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Thanks for a fun ride. I've always really enjoyed your story and I'm sad to see it end. Best wishes for your writing future! Thanks for sharing as always. :)
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Travis has reached her breaking point. There's only so much one fifteen year old can handle. But will she decide to follow her own path and be herself, or will she give in to her feelings of helplessness?

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene45

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: bit.ly/CNwattpad

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 alarm clock had become Travis’ enemy. She buried herself farther into her blankets for several minutes and then begrudgingly dragged herself out of bed and shut off the faint ringing. If she didn’t, she knew her grandmother would come get her.

But she really didn’t want to be out of bed. She wanted to just hide there until the end of time. Her feet shuffled across the nubby rug covering most of the small room, and she half-heartedly brushed her teeth and washed her face. She threw on the first clean clothes she came to in her closet, trying to ignore the growing pile of laundry that had yet to make it to the hamper.

Downstairs, she refused breakfast, took her lunch bag, and trudged out the door. The cool morning air did nothing for her mood, nor did the warm sun when she moved past the shadows of the residences.

Several minutes later, she was curled up in the seat of her favorite pod at the arcade, trying to catch her breath. This was the only place she felt like she could get away from everyone and everything. Her cell phone pinged. She looked at the screen, and then powered off the phone. Will seemed to be the only person who noticed she was avoiding work.

She finally logged in and played with her companion for a bit before scrolling through her quest list. Nothing really spoke to her. Some of the quests were expiring, untouched. Travis felt a twinge of guilt, but not enough to actually work on the quests that remained. She left her home and wandered out into the world, hoping something might catch her attention or inspire her to do something. But most people were at work or school, and so she was left with computer characters, and their programming was painfully shallow.

Finally bored out of her mind, Travis logged out and left the arcade.

“I thought I might find you here.”

Travis’ heart broke. She stared at the ground, incapable of looking up. “How long have you been here?”

“Since this morning.” Her grandfather wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Travis shook her head, willing the warmth building up at the corner of her eyes to go away. There was nothing she could say, nothing that would make any sense, anyway.

“I know there’s a lot going on right now, but hiding from your problems isn’t going to fix them.” He started walking toward the house, Travis shuffling along beside him. “You have a lot of potential, a lot of talent. You always have. Your grandmother and I regretted that you couldn’t actually be in the school system here. They would have given you access to the tools you needed to really be yourself.”

Travis smiled, half-heartedly. Schooling by tablet had been all right, but she’d often wondered what real school would have been like.

“But you’re here now, with a good opportunity that’s happy to have you despite anything else going on.” He squeezed Travis’ shoulder as she tried to flinch away. “And you have personal projects that could turn into something interesting if you’d only spend time with them.” He stopped and looked at her, in that warm, concerned way only a grandfather could. “You’re old enough to make your own choices, Travis. Make good ones.”

The rest of the walk home was silent. Travis thought over the past few days, the past couple of months. Her life on the road with her parents had been challenging, but she hadn’t really noticed because she’d always lived that life. Trying to settle down in her mother’s hometown had proven the real challenge. “The wearable bugs are probably the closest to being finished,” she finally offered.

Although she couldn’t see it, she could hear the smile in her grandfather’s voice, “We can finish those this evening.”

For the first time in several weeks, Travis smiled. A real, genuine smile.

==

By the time they got home, Travis and her grandfather had planned out how to complete her bug line by the end of the month. They grabbed drinks and snacks on their way into the workshop, coming out only when her grandmother called them out for dinner.

Travis came out with her hands behind her back, grinning. When her grandmother turned around to bring a bread basket to the table, Travis whipped out a delicate spotted beetle.

“Is that one of yours, dear?” Her grandmother leaned in to take a closer look.

Travis nodded. “I want you to have it.”

Her grandmother took it, “Thank you, dear.” The spots lit up in light shades of yellow and blue. “Oh, my!”

“Opa coded it so it will do that when you pick it up. It recognizes some of the sensors in your tattoo.”

“That’s amazing,” her grandmother whispered, and then set the beetle next to her plate at the table. “Now, go wash your hands.”

Travis laughed, but ran off.

By the time she went to bed that night, she and her grandfather had finished three more bugs. It felt good to finally do something real.

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+Roland Boykin Travis finds certain kinds of bugs (beetles, ladybugs, butterflies, dragonflies) cute, and so she designed her first wearable tech to resemble them.
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When you're a teenager, you're certain you know everything and you can hardly wait to get out and prove yourself right. When you're Travis Ando...you're really not certain of anything beyond your real friends and your grandparents. Can our favorite little animation apprentice stay strong and find herself?

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene43

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: bit.ly/CNwattpad

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

Also, for those curious, I did win #NaNoWriMo. Look for at least one of those short stories to either hit wattpad or self-publication next year.

== == == == ==

“Good morning, Travis. President Shiratori would like to see you.” Lorraine’s cheerfulness did little to dissipate the butterflies that suddenly gathered in Travis’ stomach. She thanked the receptionist and made her way to the studio president’s office.

At the door, however, she couldn’t make herself turn the knob. Why am I here? Have I done something? She ran over everything she’d done over the last few days, and couldn’t come up with anything. Slowly, she opened the door and poked her head in, “Mr. Shiratori?”

“Travis, good. Come in, please.” The animation apprentice did as she was told, quickly moving across the room and sitting down across from the studio president. He smiled at her in a gentle way that reminded her of her grandfather. “Some things have happened that may complicate your apprenticeship with us.”

Her eyes widened, and she nearly broke her fingers as she wrung her hands in her lap. She didn’t say anything, though. She didn’t know what to say.

“Your mother is suing us for a number of things, including trying to take you from her.”

“You haven’t done anything-,” Travis blurted out, thankful when Shiratori cut her off.

“She’s claiming we’re creating mental anguish for you. Legal is demanding we end your apprenticeship and ban you from the building so she doesn’t have a leg to stand on. But I think removing you would only give her lawyers further ammo.”

Travis nodded and wiped tears from her cheeks. Mom got me this apprenticeship. Would she really take it away from me?

“You didn’t know any of this, did you?” He pulled a box of tissues out of one of his desk drawers and slid it across the desk to her. Travis half-smiled as she took one, and shook her head. “Are you not living at home?” Travis shook her head. “I really can’t blame you after everything that’s happened.” That earned a slightly brighter, grateful smile from the teenager. “Where are you staying? We’ll need to update your records.”

“With my grandparents. My mother’s parents.”

The president made a note on his tablet. “I’m doing everything in my power to keep you here. Your work here has been exemplary. We’d hate to lose you.”

Travis wanted to say how much she’d hate leaving, but nothing came out.

“Are you all right to go upstairs?” Travis nodded. “Then, I’ll keep working on this and let you know if anything changes. I just wanted you to be aware that we may have to let you go if we can’t work around your mother. It won’t be a reflection on you, and we will help you get transferred to another apprenticeship.”

Travis managed a very quiet, “Thank you.” She slipped out the door and quickly made her way to the stairwell, where she curled up in a ball on the steps and cried. Everything she’d been holding in for the last few weeks came out hard, and Travis could barely breathe. When she had calmed down and felt like she was more in control, she went up to the animator workspace and started on a long list of assets.

==

After lunch, President Shiratori called her back down to his office. The trek was like moving through muck. Travis tried to steel herself as best she could, but she’d come to love her work at the studio and she really didn’t want to have to learn a whole new crew and a whole new process. And she’d miss lunches with Will, especially their strawberry battles.

But the studio president had good news for her. “We’ve managed to settle with your mother for the time being. And I will be reviewing your apprenticeship in the next few days to see how you’re progressing.”

Still looking to terminate a potential problem, Travis thought glumly. But it was better than being dismissed on the spot right then.

By the time the work day ended, Travis was a complete mess. She messaged her grandparents to let them know she was hanging out with friends that evening. Then, she messaged Rose and Gloria and asked them to meet her at the arcade. When she saw them ,she explained everything to them.

“I think this calls for a girls’ virtual day out!” Gloria linked arms with Travis and walked into the arcade.

Rose, following behind them, corrected her, “I think you mean a girls’ virtual night out.”

Either way, it didn’t matter to Travis. She just wanted to be around her friends again.
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Sometimes mothers can make things so complicated. I'm still enjoying your scenes. Thanks for sharing.
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Rebecca Thomas

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How about this new redesign? It's taken me over ten minutes just to realize G+ no longer allows you to post from albums. Very annoying.

+National Novel Writing Month is going well. I finished the first short story this week, and then realized the second wasn't ready to start drafting. So after two days of fumbling through notes and task lists, I've finally found a story the fill the rest of the month (in the most NaNovely way imaginable ;) ). It means instead of switching from cyberpunk to contemporary fantasy, I've now switched from cyberpunk to sword-and-sorcery fantasy (which I haven't written in years), but at least it's something. Again, you can check in on me at: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/corwin

Anyway, this week we're between arcs, so I thought I'd share something I wrote for a recent online creative writing class. I've had this event in the back of my mind while developing Metis, and I finally had an excuse to sit down and write it. I hope you enjoy it. #saturdayscenes #cyberpunk #netrunning #collegeprank

== == == == =

Figuring out the current password to the campus netrunning society’s secret hideout was one of Metis’ least favorite weekly chores. But the clue included in the invitation had been laughably simple. She couldn’t imagine anyone not figuring it out. Anyone from New Glory knew that “bay butt” was an old joking reference to Sai Anto Peninsula, which protected the bay.

Once inside, she could see various avatars hanging about the room. A quick count told her that about half the club had arrived. Terry hadn’t shown up yet. She wasn’t surprised. He had the most to lose if the club was caught, so he was usually the last one in and the first one out. As one of the more experienced netrunners on campus, he was also usually the one who set up the hangout, too. Most of those who had already gathered were relatively new to netrunning, and often couldn’t differentiate between or defend against the different types of daemons.

She idled her avatar, only to feel a light buzz on her actual body, producing a momentary disorientation and nausea. Terry had arrived.

“Looks like this party’s seen better days,” Terry quipped through his headset mic. “Anybody up for a little prank?”

“What kind of prank?” Although Terry’s pranks were usually harmless, Metis knew his skill set and his ambitions would one day trump his need to not get caught if no one tried to rein him in.

“You’ll like this one. I’ve figured out how to hack into the monitors around campus.”

“And I’ll like that because…”

“Because I’m going to blast that new music video across all of them.”

“During quiet week? Are you insane?”

“Maybe.” And then, “Everyone should have the map now. Usual assignments. This is going to be challenging enough as it is. Metis, you have your usual imps?”

“Sure.” Metis quickly scanned through to make sure they were in fact all loaded into her deck. One of them needed an update, but she could handle that when they were done. Then, she pulled up her map. The campus net, like so many university nets, was self-contained. It was supposed to prevent theft of digital and intellectual property, but hackers at various campuses were already working on creating back door access points. “We’re not going to be able to get to this node.”

“Don’t trust your imps?” Terry teased.

Metis flickered her avatar. She’d handcrafted each of her imps. It had taken her months to learn the programming tricks needed to give most of them the right set of capabilities. What Terry was proposing could possibly cost her many of her precious minions.

“Come on. It’ll be fun.”

“Fine.” Metis double checked her programs and set her avatar to follow Terry out of the hideout. Over the next several minutes, the younger runners would trickle out and join them at the rendezvous spot. When the club was together, they started out on their assigned routes. Terry and Metis ran together with one of the more promising newcomers. “You expect this to be difficult.”

“Why do you say that?” The smirk Terry’s avatar couldn’t wear could be heard in his voice.

“You never run with me when we split up. What do you think is going to happen when one of those other teams gets caught?”

“They’re not going to get caught. I didn’t give them anything real to do.”

“Right.” Metis followed him around a corner, only to find a mid-level hellhound in the corridor. She dialed up one of her smaller imps, targeted the hellhound, and took great satisfaction in watching the guardian program disintegrate.

“Nice shot.” Terry glided past where the hellhound had been and turned down another corridor.

Metis followed him, but right as she reached the corridor, their companion said, “Hey, guys. I’m beeping.”

“What?” Metis and Terry both replied.

“Oh, god, Terry. Now I’m beeping.”

“Yeah, they’re tracing me, too.”

“And you thought they wouldn’t notice us running into a secure area,” Metis ran a couple of programs, trying to make herself show as a false positive to the tracer. But she continued to beep.

“Are we in trouble?” The other netrunner asked, his inexperience driving his voice up in pitch.

“Not yet. And we’ll try to stay that way,” Metis assured him as they caught up to Terry. “You realize they’re going to tighten security in this area. I don’t think I have the imps for that.”

“It’s okay. I have some black market programs on me.” There was a moment of silence. “You’re glaring at me, aren’t you?”

“Actually, I’m considering wasting an imp on you.”

“We’re not too far from the node. Let’s go.”

Metis bit back her disbelief and followed him. Another hellhound blacked their path. Metis armed an imp, and then disarmed it and readied a daemon.

“Metis!”

“They already know we’re here. Do you really want to help them confirm the tracer?” Her deck pulsed out the program, and the hellhound shorted out, stiffening and falling over before vanishing into what passed for the floor in the net.

Just beyond the hellhound was a small room – the node Terry had been looking for. “Hang on.” His avatar flickered in and out a few times as they listened to him mutter.

“You do realize we’re in the net, not the magical realm, right?” Metis kept an eye on the corridor they’d come from.

“There it is. Forgot I renamed it.” The room pulsed with a soft light for several moments, and then stopped. “All done. Let’s get out of here and hope the others follow their maps.”

The beeping became louder and more frequent. “They’ve found us, Terry.”

“That’s fine. There are other ways out of this node.” Terry spun around slowly and then headed for an open doorway.

“One would hope, seeing as it’s a node.” Metis follwed him, their tag-a-long on her heels.

But just down the corridor, the experienced netrunners could make out a light sentry. They ran back toward the node, their less experienced friend struggling to keep up. Terry ran over to the last open door, but in a moment his avatar turned around and shook. “There’s another sentry about halfway down.”

Metis ran for the nearest closed door and hacked it open. “I think we can get out this way.”

The three ran for it, Terry occasionally calling commands as he checked his deck’s map. Just a few turns from the hideout, a hellhound much larger than any Metis had faced charged out into the intersection and stopped.

“Please tell me you can get us past that,” Terry sounded nervous for the first time Metis could recall.

“I think we’re hung.” She was scanning through her loaded programs and imps. “Well…maybe. Give me a minute.” She’d designed her imps to play nicely together, and she’d loaded a handful that had some interesting complementary skills. But she realized she could also break some of them apart and put them back together to work more efficiently. No netrunner had ever redesigned imps while inside the net before, though.

“Well?” Terry’s avatar had changed color. He’d raised some sort of shield against the hellhound, who was just watching them, waiting for them to move.

With a deep breath, Metis called up a terminal and set about to reorganizing her deck. It took longer than was comfortable, but finally she turned her mic back on. “Let’s see how it likes this.” A daemon-sized creature that looked like a mashup of several popular, colorful imps materialized in front of Terry and took off after the hellhound like it was possessed. The hellhound started to charge, but then thought better of it and ran.

While the creature pursued the hellhound, the trio ran for the hideout. Metis waited for the high-pitched wail that would mark the hellhound’s defeat, and then summoned the daemon back to her deck. Neither of her teammates was in the hideout when she got back in, but Terry had left a message: Meet us at the square.

She jacked out, threw on an old battered flannel shirt and her favorite jeans, and made her way to the Commons. Terry was already there, wearing one of his old cartoon shirts, hands shoved in his pockets like he was any other normal university student. “You’re going to get us expelled one day. You know that, right?”

“Maybe. But I was thinking about dropping out after this semester, anyway. Argent’s offered me a pretty sweet deal to work for them.” He nudged her. “How about you? Any idea where you’re headed after all this is over?”

The monitor flickered to life, and a candy-colored light show filled the screen. As the students around them whooped and danced, Metis smiled thoughtfully at Terry. “Actually, I was thinking I might change my major to journalism.”
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Rebecca Thomas

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If everything goes as expected, I will have two #audiobooks and three #audiodramas released over the next couple of weeks or so.
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"Chasing Normal" may be over, but an audio dramatist's work never is. ;)

The first episode of Star Trek: Tales from the Border is now available. Give it a listen! #audiodrama
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When Travis first started living in New Glory, more than anything she wanted to live away from home. But her plans have never gone as she's hoped.

Now, she has allies. Will they be strong enough to help Travis finally break free and earn the right to face her life on her own terms?

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene46

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: bit.ly/CNwattpad

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

== == == == ==

When Travis got home from work the following evening, her grandparents were waiting for her. She sank into a compact wingback chair across from her grandfather. I went to work today. I didn’t go hide somewhere. I came straight home. “Have I done something wrong?”

Her grandmother smiled and her grandfather chuckled, “Not at all, my dear. But we’ve been talking.” He stretched a hand toward her grandmother, who nodded reassuringly. “And we think it’s time you established yourself at the apprentice apartments. It really is the best place for a girl like you.”

Travis’ eyes widened. She’d wanted to move into those apartments since she’d first found out about them. And then she hadn’t wanted to. But if she could live there, it would alleviate a lot of problems back home. “Does Mom know you’re thinking about this?”

“We haven’t brought it up yet, but we will,” her grandfather assured her. “But it would do you some good to be around your peers, and we’ll always be here if you need to take a break from being grown up.” Travis giggled at her grandfather’s wink.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me,” her grandmother stood from the couch, “dinner is almost ready.” She left for the kitchen. Travis’ grandfather walked over to his desk. Travis took her things upstairs and then sat on the edge of her bed, trying to process the fact her grandparents supported her living in the apprentice apartments. Her heart raced, and she had to take several deep breaths to get it back under control.

There was of course one major roadblock to her grandparents’ wishes: her mother.

==

The next morning, Travis went to work. But instead of focusing on her work, she listened more closely to the conversations of the apprentices who sat near her. It always felt like they lived in different worlds. They regarded her with a general aloofness because she was Shiri Ando’s daughter, a distance that widened any time her animation work was publicly acknowledged. She felt isolated from them because they all lived near each other in the apartments, a fair number of them hailing from outside New Glory.

It wasn’t like she’d never been to the apprentice apartments. But her experiences hadn’t been positive. Without thinking, she looked over her shoulder toward the workstation Melinda had worked at before she’d been dismissed from the animator apprenticeship program and briefly wondered where the girl had ended up. Not that she really cared, but she didn’t know what happened to apprentices who washed out.

At lunch, she wanted to ask Will about the apartments, realizing that while he had walked her home before, she had never seen where he lived. The more she tried to figure out how to approach the subject, the more she realized she wasn’t ready to talk about it. In the back of her mind, she knew her mother could shut down the plan. Travis wasn’t sixteen yet, and wouldn’t be for a few more months; she couldn’t make her own decisions just yet.

==

When she got home, she found a painful surprise waiting for her. Her father sat in the same chair she had been sitting in the night before when her grandparents shared their plans with her. Her mother was slumped in the other wingback, looking more like a bored, annoyed little boy than a woman determined to ruin her interactive star career.

If they were here, that meant her grandparents were serious and on the move. That meant spending her evening, her dinner, with her parents and her grandparents. It wasn’t an experience Travis was looking forward to. For a brief moment, she considered slipping back out the door and running off to the arcade. But as she took her first step backward, her father looked up, “Hey, pumpkin!”

If there had been any food in her stomach, Travis was certain the queasiness would have relieved her of that problem. “Hey, Dad.” She walked into the living room, noting her mother wouldn’t even look at her. “I….I should probably go put my things away.” Before he could say anything else, she bolted up the stairs, blinking back the tears that wanted to break loose.

But she composed herself enough to return downstairs for dinner. The table had been expanded to make room for all five of them. While her parents had been seated together, Travis had been seated between her grandparents, and she was grateful. It kept her out of the way in a weird way while discussion flowed around dinner.

The conversation had clearly started before Travis got home, and it wasn’t going well. She hadn’t expected it to. Her grandfather repeated his reason for wanting to see Travis moved into the apartments, and her father supported it, adding in how grown up Travis was and how they’d known she’d leave eventually. Her mother managed to not break out in hysterics as she tried to argue in mostly illogical patterns.

Occasionally, her grandmother would lean over and offer her more food. Travis, who was doing little more than picking through her dinner, would always politely decline, grateful that her grandmother was trying so hard to keep things light.

By the time dinner was over, her grandparents and her father agreed to go talk to the apprentice apartments, but her mother threatened to divorce her father if Travis moved. Her father laughed it off and assured everyone he would handle things, and they left.

“Well, that went about as I’d expected,” her grandfather commented after closing the door. Travis tried to laugh, but the tension came out in the tears that had threatened to claim her before dinner.

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+Stanley Morris Thank you! I've really worked to keep Travis' behavior appropriate to her age, despite everything going on around her.
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Rebecca Thomas

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This week, Travis finds herself in an old, familiar role - being her mother's keeper. Shiri's inability to handle rejection has reached new heights, but Travis now has a way to walk away when her mother's drama gets to be too much. A few, really. Which one will she choose?

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNscene44

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: bit.ly/CNwattpad

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

== == == == ==

When Travis got to work the next morning, she was met with a familiar, unwelcome sound. 

“I’m your star! He has to see me!” Shiri Ando was pounding on the counter that buffered the receptionist’s desk from crazy people.

“I’m sorry, but you are blocked from this building, Mrs. Ando.” 

Shiri shrieked in response, a sound was somewhere between an animal in pain and a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. 

Travis slipped through the lobby as quietly as she could, slowing just long enough to nod at Lorraine when the receptionist saw her. Shiri, still wailing, didn’t see the covert wink, and she didn’t notice the receptionist distracting the distraught actress long enough to let Travis make it through the locked door unobserved.

But the bolt latching closed behind Travis caught her mother’s attention, and the door wasn’t soundproof. “Who was that? Who just went in? Why do they get to go in?” Her mother’s voice faded as Travis nearly ran to the elevator.

She felt like she’d barely started working when a security guard tapped on her shoulder. “Miss Ando?” She nodded. “I’m sorry about this, but could you possibly come collect your mother?”

“Still throwing a scene, huh?” The guard nodded. With a heavy sigh, Travis logged off her computer and followed the guard to the security offices. I guess it’s marginally better than a police station when she’s high or drunk.

She could hear her mother’s shrill voice long before they reached security. Travis cringed as she heard her mother hurl a long slew of insults and threats. Why can’t they just lock her up for that? Maybe she’d finally lay off the crazy. And then her mother screamed something incoherent. Maybe not.

The insults stopped as Travis walked around the corner. “There’s my baby girl!”

Oh, goddess. She’s high as the moons. Travis said nothing as she followed the guard to the farthest desk.

Shiri’s venomous spewing became cloying and aimed at her daughter while Travis filled out the paperwork the security guard handed her. The police never have this many forms. Maybe I should just let her sit here and dry out. As Shiri’s please devolved into whimpering, Travis realized she couldn’t in good conscience subject anybody to her mother in this state.  

“All right. She’s yours. I’d ask you to encourage her to stay away from the studio, but...well…” He gestured at the strung out actress, and Travis quietly nodded. Try growing up with this.

Shiri chatted about absolutely nothing in a disconnected manner the entire way home. Travis got her settled on the couch, apologized to Lydia for whatever was about to happen, and headed for the door.

“Wait! Where are you going?” Shiri wailed.

“Back to work. Back to my grandparents. Somewhere not here.”

“But you can’t leave!” Shiri tried to stand, but teetered precariously until she fell back on the couch.

Travis shook her head and walked out.

In all honesty, she wanted to go back to work, but she was too embarrassed. She wanted to go to her grandparents’, but even that felt wrong. How could she explain to them what she’d just sat through? Her mother was their daughter. Not that they would be surprised, but Travis just wasn’t ready to break it to them yet.

She started walking toward the arcade, thinking to clear her mind with a quest or eight, but that didn’t even interest her. Finally, she settled for catching a bus over to the waterfront and reading in a park until the sun set. Her heart still heavy, she made her way back to her grandparents’ house. Dinner was waiting, but she couldn’t make herself do anything more than pick at it.

Her grandparents, ever perceptive, tried to talk to her, but any attempt to respond left her with a huge lump in her throat as she fought back tears. Finally, her grandfather offered to spend the evening with her in the workshop, gently reminding her that they still had a lot of work to do on her designs.

Even that was too much, and Travis asked to be excused. She ran upstairs and threw herself on the bed, crying until she finally fell asleep.
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Good emotional scene
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Rebecca Thomas

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Hello, all! I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend, holiday or otherwise. Here we are at the beginning of Arc 8. As I said a couple of weeks ago, this will be the final arc. As much fun as it's been working on this project, it's time to move on to others. Thank you for following Travis' journey over the last year or so.

This week, Travis catches her breath from her home life...only to be reminded she has some fair-weather friends. Will this poor girl ever win?

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene42

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: bit.ly/CNwattpad

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

On the #NaNoWriMo front, the second short story is quite possibly the most NaNovely NaNovel I've ever written. It's like I didn't just spend two months in a creative writing class. But I'm within easy striking distance of 50,000 and expect to conquer the NaNoWriMo beast this year. I'm even entertaining notions of trying Camp NaNoWriMo next year. Again, if you want to watch me cross the finish line, you can check me out here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/corwin

== == == == ==

Travis considered not telling her parents where she was. That first morning at her grandparents’ house had been one of the most peaceful she’d had in a couple of months. Her grandmother packed her a lunch, that Travis got to help create. And work was as close to normal as Travis could remember.

At lunch, she sat with Will, catching up on everything she’d missed out on. Noel and Nigel appeared at the end of their table. “Mind if we sit here?” Noel asked. Will shot Travis an annoyed look, and she shrugged. The brothers failed to take the hint, and sat down.

“You look good today, Travis.” Nigel had seated himself next to her.

She tugged her cardigan a little tighter around her. “I kind of had to go with what was in the closet.”

“No, I mean it. There’s something about you today.”

“Are you sure it isn’t that she’s probably the best source of gossip about her mother?” Will took an overly aggressive bite out of his strawberry.

If Nigel heard him, he didn’t react. “I’ve been thinking. We haven’t really gone on a proper date yet. Want to try again?”

“Actually,” Travis cast a sidelong glance at Will, “I’ve promised Will I’d hang out with him. Sorry.”

For the first time since he sat down, Nigel actually looked at Will. “Oh.” Noel, sitting next to Will, snickered. “Another time, then, I guess.”

Travis didn’t respond.

The rest of lunch was spent in silence. The brothers ate quickly and left. Several minutes later, Will walked Travis back to her department. “So, was that just you ditching Nigel, or have you finally come to your senses?”

Travis laughed. “I’ve come to my senses. I promised you months ago I’d come back to the underground, and it sounds like you guys have some really amazing projects going. I’d love to see them.”

“Make sure you bring your drawing tools,” Will winked.

==

By the time Travis got back to her grandparents’ house, her mother had filled her messages with pleas and threats. Things were apparently going well, and Shiri was expecting the family to move out of New Glory by the end of the week.

Travis’ heart sank. She finally had something resembling a life. She had friends, hobbies, and a great apprenticeship. She was finally getting to know her grandparents. The last thing she wanted was to leave New Glory.

Her grandmother was sitting in the living room when Travis walked in, and motioned for Travis to come sit with her. The animator shoved her phone in her pocket and sank into the nearest chair, her stomach now just as uneasy as her heart.

“I let your parents know you’re here.” That wasn’t the best news Travis had ever heard. “Of course, your mother wants you to come home straight away, but I suggested maybe the two of you need a cooling off period.”

“Thank you.” Her nerves settled just a bit. “Did she happen to say anything about us moving?”

“Not that she mentioned to me, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Shiri never did like being told she can’t do something.”

“There are other production companies in town, and not too far from here. Can’t she just go audition at one of those?” Even as it came out of her mouth, Travis knew that wasn’t how it worked. “Sorry. It just feels like she’s running away and trying to take me with her.” I’m just trying to run away from her.

Her grandmother smiled gently, “Well, you are her daughter. And technically, you haven’t reached your majority yet, so she has the right to decide whether or not you go with them if they leave.”

“Okay, so...what can I do? I don’t want to leave. I like it here.”

“Your grandfather and I have talked, and we’ve agreed you can stay here as long as you need to while things settle down.”

“Do you think Mom will get over this little temper tantrum?” Her grandmother smiled knowingly. “Yeah, I guess that was a pretty silly question.”

She ran upstairs and changed to something more appropriate for New Glory’s hidden skate park, grabbed a quick dinner, and ran to join Will. But try as she might, she couldn’t pay attention to what was going on all around here, and she couldn’t enjoy herself.

“What’s going on?” Will finally dropped onto the box next to hers. She handed him her phone. He scrolled through her messages. “Wow. That explains a lot.” He handed her back the phone. “What are you going to do?”

“I have no idea.”
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Rebecca Thomas

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When Travis came back to work after her suspension, it was a bit of an adjustment, but she was ready to face it. When Shiri's forced vacation is over, well... Let's just say Travis doesn't want to be around her right now.

This is the end of Arc 7. I haven't decided yet whether or not there will be a story in between. Arc 8 will begin in two weeks, and it will be the final arc. I've maintained this story for just over a year, but I need to be focusing my time on other projects.

Previous Scene: bit.ly/CNScene41

New to the series and want to catch up? Read the entire series:
- G+ Collection: bit.ly/TravisonGPlus
- deviantArt: bit.ly/CNdeviantArt
- wattpad: bit.ly/CNwattpad

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

If you're following #NaNoWriMo  activity, I'm a little behind at the moment, but still chugging right along. The first short story is turning out to be more of a novella, and the second story is turning out to be a much bigger project than I initially expected. We'll see what happens. But if you'd like to connect or just follow my progress, you can find me here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/corwin

== == == == ==

The rest of the month dragged on as Travis continued to fail at finding ways to escape the apartment under her mother’s creative security measures. Things finally came to a head when the studio president called. Shiri answered the phone, expecting to find the president apologetic and groveling. Instead, her face turned several shades of red, although none of it could be heard in her voice as she first refused to hand her phone over to her daughter, and then as she assured the president that Travis took her apprenticeship very seriously and wouldn’t miss another day.

And Travis didn’t. Her father walked her to work everyday, and met her at the end of the day to walk her home. He wasn’t any happier than Travis was about the situation, but it gave them time to actually sit down and talk, something Travis had never really had with her father.

On the first morning after the month passed, Shiri dressed up in her flashiest dress and had her hair and nails done. Travis trudged along behind her into the studio.

Shiri had to stop at the receptionist’s desk to pick up her badge. “Oh, I’m sorry, sugar, but I don’t have it. Mr. Shiratori does.” Lorraine didn’t sound the least bit sorry, but Shiri waved her off and started for the door. The locked door.

Travis was still standing at the desk, waiting to see how long it would take her mother to remember that when her mother whined, “Travis.” The teen rolled her eyes and walked over to let them both in. She started for the stairwell to head upstairs to her workstation, but her mother grabbed her arm. “You can’t expect me to go to the president alone.”

“That solidarity thing, right?” She followed her mother quietly after the glare she got.

The president was in fact holding Shiri’s badge and waiting for her. “Travis? Is something wrong?” He acknowledged her with a bit of surprise.

“No. Mom just asked me to come for moral support.”

“Ah, I see. An interesting move from a woman who kept her daughter hostage in her own home.” Shiri’s eyes widened at the insult. “You can go on, Travis.” The president turned back to Shiri. “You can go home. We’ve found another actress who can handle the role without risking shutting down the studio.”

Shiri was on her feet, but Travis slipped through the door quickly to avoid what was about to happen. She didn’t envy the studio president one bit. Her mother’s voice followed her down the hallway, and Travis could only assume it was carrying into the arena, too.

By the time she sat down at her workstation, there were murmurs President Shiratori had to have Shiri Ando removed from the studio by multiple security guards. Travis just kept her eyes focused on her monitor and hummed to shut out the gossip around her.

== 

The closer the end of the work day crept, the more Travis’ stomach tightened into knots. She wondered if her father was going to show up to escort her home. She wondered what was going to happen at home that night. Her imagination kept creating bigger, more emotional scenes until she finally couldn’t handle it any more and went to hide in the upper catwalk above the arena.

The door squeaked quietly above her. “I thought that might be you.”

Travis wiped her eyes and looked up, “Was I being too loud?”

Will sat down next to her and smiled, “We could see the light from the hallway. We were shooting a dark scene.”

“Oh.” Travis looked down at her hands. “Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m guessing this is about your mom?”

Travis nodded.

“What’s going to happen when you get home?”

“I don’t know. I don’t want to go.”

“Where do you want to go?”

Travis thought for a moment, and then smiled at Will.

==

Several minutes later, she slipped out of the catwalk behind Will and snuck back into the animator workspace just long enough to grab her bag and lunch box. Then, she made her way out of the back of the studio and headed for the edge of the sector.

She arrived at her destination and rang the doorbell. Opa opened the door. “Travis? Come in. We weren’t expecting you.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” Travis walked in past her grandfather. “Is it all right if I stay here for a bit? Things are weird at home.”

“Of course,” he took her bag and headed up to the guest room that doubled as her room.

Over dinner, she explained everything that had happened to her grandparents. They were sympathetic, and assured her she could stay with them as long as she needed to. But that night in her warm, cozy bed, she realized hiding in her grandparents’ house wasn’t a good long-term solution.
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Writer. Editor. Voice Actor.
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I am a writer, editor, and social media producer living at the edge of the Texas Hill Country. I enjoy writing near future science fiction and contemporary fantasy short stories and novellas for Young Adult and New Adult audiences. I also enjoy helping other writers create the strongest, most polished stories possible. I pride myself on being accidentally funny in my stories.

When I'm not building fictional worlds, I use my geeky powers for performing in science fiction and fantasy audiobooks (which I also produce) and audio dramas. I also blog about individual and networked learning and my creative fields at Genius on Hold. My favorite things include books, tea, fan fiction, my library cards, and my bulletin boards.

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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.


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I have a small role in Valiant Comics' Archer & Armstrong audio drama, which was announced at their NYCC panel.
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Science Fiction/Fantasy Reader, Writer, Editor, and Narrator. Digital Storyteller. Voice Actor. Casual Anthropologist. STEAM Enthusiast.
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