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Staycation Had to Get Away

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"Linda? It's Maggie."

Linda smiles as she closes the eBay tab where she's still looking for that fiftieth anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings for Glen. "Hey Maggie, what's up?"

"It appears there's been a bit of a problem with Stephen's 'stay-cation'."

"Oh yeah?" It's odd that Maggie would call her about it instead of Stephen himself, but Stephen is taking his self imposed isolation very seriously.

"That Zaxxon machine?"

"Uh oh, did it break?"

"Oh, no, nothing like that. It appears to be, hmm. Cursed? Or just glitching."

Linda isn't sure how the two can be confused. "Okayyy."

"In any case, Stephen appears to have gotten stuck."

"To the machine?"

"Oh, no. Inside."

***

"How did Thompson manage this?" Glen asks.

"Maggie didn't say, she just wanted to know if we could get him out before his staycation is over and the kids come back."

"We don't need quarters, do we?"

"No, Trey, we don't need quarters."

She's pretty sure they don't, anyway.

***

Three hours later Glen has used up thirty lives trying to get to level three - Linda hopes that Stephen's little airplane protects him from his firey, pixelated doom - and Trey has declared himself moral support.

"I'm pretty sure moral support is supposed to be more encouraging," Linda points out as she crashes and burns on level fifteen again. "Not quoting depressing German art house opera."

"It isn't art house, it's a classic piece of-"

"Maybe we should call Mike," Glen suggests from the couch where Stephen's entire DVR backlog of Wipeout episodes is playing through.

"What makes you think he could do this? This game is older than he is." Probably.

"Maybe this a The Last Starfighter kind of thing, and we shouldn't interfere."

"He's not a futureless teenage boy, he's an adult with a job and kids. We have to get him out of there," Linda sighs.

"I'm calling Katzif."

***

"I have band practice in an hour," Mike says when he arrives.

"Well this is an emergency, I'm sure they'll understand," Linda sighs. "It's not like we can just leave him in there."

"Are you sure?" Mike asks. "I'm pretty sure this would be like, his dream come true."

Fortunately for all of them, Mike gets to work in front of the machine and Linda opens a beer.

"This game is boring," Mike says as he deftly shoots down the robot that had been giving Linda fits.

"When Stephen gets out he can get you something better."

***

In the end, it's all rather anti-climactic, unless you counted the pixelated fireworks on the screen.

"That. Was. Awesome!" Stephen says from the spot where he reappeared on the floor.

"Can I go now?" Mike asks.

"Us too?" Trey and Glen ask from the couch.

"Yeah, sure," Linda shrugs.

"Did I miss Survivor?" Stephen asks.