Saving Throw

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“You can’t have a ray gun,” Jolie said as she dragged her pen across Jake’s sheet. “They didn’t even exist back then.”

“My character invented the ray gun,” Jake clarified, and Tim snickered. “What? Somebody had to invent them.”

Above the terradome in Jolie’s mother’s living quarters, thousands of LCD crystals shimmered to give the illusion of a cloud passing over a digital sun. Jolie, newly sixteen, had moved to Io with her mother because the exchange rate inflated child support to nearly three times what her father paid. She hated the terradome, she hated Io, and she hated the circumstances that brought her there, but above all else, at this moment, she hated Jake. On Earth, people knew how to make character sheets.

“Besides, how do you know they didn’t exist? Were you there?”

Jolie sighed deeply. “On Earth they taught us something called history, Jake.”

“History is for pussies.”

Tim, ever the level-headed one, removed the pen from Jolie’s hand before she forced it through Jake’s cranium. “Why don’t you buy a revolver?” he asked his younger brother.

“He can’t have a revolver either. His character’s a Network Administrator, for Christ’s sake.”

“I’m a rogue Network Administrator.”

“Look,” Jolie said, “I’m not going to run a Microsoft game filled with ray guns and rogues. Either you learn the system or you find someone who wants to run Apple.”

“All I’m saying is that someone had to invent the ray gun, and I don’t see why it can’t be me.”

Jolie retrieved her pen and underscored the word NO several times.

“I thought you said this game was about imagining stuff.”

“It is. Imagine a world without ray guns.”

“That world sucks,” Jake said. He pushed his chair back and leaped up, heading for the door. Tim lifted his hand to stop him.

“Jake, just give it a chance. There was plenty of cool stuff back then, right?” he asked, looking to Jolie for verification. Jolie nodded enthusiastically, then considered the late twentieth century, then nodded again with slightly less force. “Like cars,” Tim continued. “Everyone had their own personal spaceship for the road.”

Jake hesitated before the door. “Can I have a car?” he asked.

“Cars ran on fossil fuels. They practically raped the environment. Plus, according to the sourcebook, traffic in Silicon Valley was…” her voice trailed off. “You’d know better, if you were from Earth,” she finished.

Jake smiled broadly and folded his arms across his puffed chest. “Well, I’m not from Earth,” he said proudly. “I’m imagining it.”

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