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You’re awoken by a strange dream in the early evening, but you can’t remember it. It sits in the pit of your stomach, pooling and cold as you sit up in bed. The house is steady with the rushing white noise of the waterfall that runs through the building. The room around you is vacant. It’s nights like this where you feel particularly empty, both inside and out. As though you hardly exist at all.

You throw the blankets off of yourself and pull a bath robe over your shoulders. You tie it in the front, bright pink and feather soft. You step into a matching pair of slippers and walk through the lab, stepping on the transportalizer and flashing into your room, dark cold and blue. With moonlight as a guide you mix yourself a dirty martini and go to check on her.

Of course she’s safe and sound, because you’re the best mother there is.

You pad downstairs, martini in hand, and wind around the living room to get to the TV room. You’ve got the biggest screen television that money could buy two years ago. The delivery cost itself probably could have fed some poorer families for a month. You brush the layer of dust off of it and have a seat on the soft leather couch, also barely used. With your several hundred dollar remote control you turn on the TV, the overhead fan, and the lamp in the corner. You are the master of technology. Gadgets are your bitch.

It doesn’t take a lot of time searching - flicking through channels - to find what you were looking for. A hunting documentary run by an old gentleman with a mocking british quip to his speech. Hass the Hurricane Harley tells the camera and his viewers precisely how he might go about hunting down a wild indian tiger and the process of taking it down, using a fine detailed algorithm that gives him the maximum amount of adventure with the minimum amount of scars.

“You don’t want to not have any scars at all, you see,” he grins lopsidedly behind his mustache. “Then no one will believe you when you tell them about the ADVENTURES you’ve gone on, and all the crazy shit that natures done to you! So you just want a few scars - enough to bleed a bit. Hopefully not enough to kill you. Got it?"

“Yes, sir!” You pipe back to the screen, and hold out your martini in a salute before taking a sip.

"Never know when you're gonna lose an eye falling into a hidden tomb. You've got to keep yourself in tact as long as you can. But not too in tact." Hass, chattering, turns back toward the brush where a tiger evidently lurks. He hoists his rifle securely into the crook of his arm as he steps into the grassy shelter,

“Uh, I’m pretty sure this is illegal sir,” stammers the camera man, muffled without a microphone.

“Go to hell!” You shout at him, throwing a pillow at the TV. It bounces harmlessly away, but the monitor shakes a bit and you wish you hadn't done that.

Hass Harley turns toward him. “Good fun is hardly ever ‘legal’ my boy. When you can pay for the lawyers that I can, it doesn’t make a lick of difference! So why don’t you sit down and shoot your magic movie stuff, hey?”

“Yeah!” You pipe in, in time for several of the crew to come into the camera screen. They hesitate, giving Hass the Hurricane Harley another moment to step closer to his quarry, before they grapple Hass to the ground. They manage to yank the rifle out of his hands, but not before after he fires one shot into the air and clocks someone in the jaw with the barrel, knocking them out of the picture. He then lets go of the thing and delivers a guy a good right hook to the face, probably breaking his nose.

“This is more like it!” Harley cheers, pulling his jacket off down his shoulders and giving you a good look of what is certainly impressive muscle for an old guy. You whistle and help yourself to an eyeful. Harley takes one of the crew by the shoulders and grapples him to the ground. The camera, now unattended, displays the middle distance and Harley's shoulders, plus one twisted arm bent into the crook of his arm. "Think you can best me, boy?"

“Woo, go sexy grandpa!” You cheer.

The camera teeters and the video cuts out into newsfeed of a woman with too much makeup at a table talking about how Grandpa Harley has been forced into retirement. You sip your martini, unimpressed, and stop listening until they cut into commercials.

They’re the late-night sort of ads for stressed families and unemployed twenty-somethings. Music releases, other late-night shows and phone sex lines for lonely people like yourself. You pillow your head against your elbow on the arm of the chair and kick your slippers on your toes. Fingers holding on to the rim of your martini glass you click through the channels in the night. If only you could find another episode of Grandpa Harley’s show at this hour. You feel like you could spend hours getting drunk and talking to that guy.

Instead you land yourself on a biography of woman with shining bright blue eyes. Jane Crocker, they call her. The Anastasia of the Betty Crocker corporation. Marrying out of the family she slipped under the radar of the media and lost all inheritance to the billion dollar empire. Now she lives in Washington under her husband’s name, but no one truly knows what has become of her.

An obnoxious and forgettable musical opening to the program plays before the show gets on with it. The narrator discusses how Jane Crocker was the adopted child of Betty Crocker herself, who was married to the famous comedian and prankster Colonel Sassacre. (Whatever his first name was, he kept it a secret. Probably for humorous purposes if he was a Colonel at all.) While one of the adopted children left home for adventure and conquest, Jane was raised as the only child to succeed in the footsteps of company empress Betty Crocker. Her interests, however, lay more with her father in the pranking and magic business.

The documentary went through and displayed a slide show of famous comedians from the 50s and 60s alongside miss Jane Crocker, and you wonder what sort of person she might have been. A conservative type, you think. Silly and pranky but the sort who wouldn’t like to try new foods too much. Visiting McDonald’s while a tourist in india, bringing a big mac meal with her as she climbs the alps. Kind of a boring lady, but you could do right by her.

You’re thinking you could do right by anyone right now, if you just had the opportunity.

The phone rings suddenly and startles you, chiming from its charging dock on the other side of the room. You click off the television and climb to your feet, wiggling out of your plush couch and leaving your martini in place for now. You pull the phone from its dock and answer it before even glancing at the number.

“Hello?” You ask, your voice more weak and groggy than you were expecting.

“Hey Rox,” answers the deep tones of Dirk Strider as you move to flop back onto the leather couch. “Can’t sleep?”

“How did you know?” you ask, rolling onto your back and reaching for your martini glass. You take a sip and a little bit dribbles down your chin. You slurp a bit and grab the drips with your palm, knocking your hand into the mic on the phone.

“I had a feeling,” Dirk says, seeming deaf to the disturbance.

“Just one of those shitty nights, you know,” you mutter, reconsidering before drinking some more while laying down like you are. “Do you ever wake up and feel like your life is missing some parts? Like there are a few pins missing that are keeping it from working quite right?”

Dirk hums softly and you imagine he’s got the phone between his jaw and his shoulder, sewing up one of his fucked up puppets.

“Since I’ve had Rose it’s not so bad,” you tell him, sitting up straight against the arm of the couch. “But every now and again, you know, it’s like... it’s like I should be doing something, but there’s nothing to do. Or there’s someone I need to see but there’s no one there to talk to.”

“Some old-fashioned dorks,” Dirk says, in agreement. “It’s called parents, Roxy. Most people have them.”

“Nooo, not like that,” you say, pulling your drink away from your mouth before having a gulp. “Well, maybe a bit like that...” You go ahead and take a sip.

“Someone else that maybe you should check-in with, to take care of, that you just don’t have,” he says. “You should make more friends, Roxy.”

“You know what I mean!” You cry into the mouthpiece. “It’s something really important.”

Dirk sighs, and the clicking in your ear says he’s shifting a bit. “Not all of us are meant to be stranded in the middle of nowhere shutting out the rest of civilization.”

“It’s not like that though,” you tell him. “I can’t just... replace them.”

“There’s nothing really to replace if they never existed in your life,” Dirk says.

You take a drink, and rub one hand over your eyes. “Are you saying I should give up?”

“What I’m saying is you’re a friendly girl, Roxy,” he says. “You can’t just spend your life waiting around for ghosts that won’t come home.”

You sigh and drop your head back against the couch. “You’re probably right.”

You’re awoken by a strange dream in the early evening, but you can’t remember it. It sits in the pit of your stomach, pooling and cold as you sit up in bed. The quiet hum of a generator warms the building. The room around you is empty save for Frigglish, curled and purring at your feet. It’s nights like this where you feel particularly empty, both inside and out. As though you hardly exist at all.

You throw the blankets off of yourself and, dressed in an old T-shirt and boxer shorts, you drop to the floor and cross your room. The dark is cold and blue, everything shining with the light of your fluorescent beaming windows. By that light you mix yourself a dry martini and to to check on her.

Frigglish stretches on the bed and jumps down to pad quietly after you, leaping up onto your lap as you sit down in front of your husktop, and open up the only photos of her that you have. A couple vague images caught over her shoulder. The curve of her jaw. One of her from a magazine or something sitting in a large chair with a book on her lap, pen in hand and eyes down. Her eyelashes are long and dark compared to her white-pale everything else. You like to put dark mascara on, like she does, and dark lipstick too. A few shades into pink rather than purple though. You think you’d make a good match. Mother and daughter walking up red carpets to book signings in famous places from the old world.

But she’s not with you, anymore. She never was.

You sigh and run your hand over your eyes before double-clicking the pesterchum icon. The program boots up and you log in, three brightly-lit screennames friendly and awake for you. You click to pester on Jake English, several timezones away.

-- tipsyGnostalgic [TG] has begun pestering golgathasTerror [GT] --

TG: hey jakey!
TG: whatr e you doign up in the middle of the nihtg
TG: adventurin by the moon
TG: raidin tooms
TG: *toombs
GT: Roxy!
GT: I havent the foggiest idea of what youre talking about
GT: Its the middle of the day here!
GT: Isnt it really late for you off in neverland?
TG: yeah! youre rihgt
TG: *right
TG: sleep wasnt reely workin out
TG: so i thought id com n pester my verry faborite brodude adventiture
TG: afventiture lmfao

GT: I just finished watching Tomb Raider again!
GT: I was thinking about taking some of my own archaeological forays out into some ruins myself!
GT: I hope i can be a swell adventurer like miss lara croft some day.
TG: youre already swell jaek
TG: *jake
TG: your the sweelest adnveturer i kno
GT: Thanks roxy
GT: You know that means an awful lot!
TG: :D
GT: I spend a silly amount of time thinking about how much fun it would be if we all could meet up you know?
GT: Me and you and jane and dirk too.
GT: Gets a man pretty goddamn frustrated to be honest.
TG: me to :(
TG: one day weel meet up and im gonna hug you so hadr that your brians are just gonna pop rihgt out!
TG: lol *braisn
TG: *raisins
TG: yur raisins gonna pop right otu
GT: Its a date!
GT: And ill give you a great hug too but youll forgive me if your raisins stay right where they are.
TG: nuh uh
TG: my brains just pop right on thier own from bein touhced by a super sexxxy dude
TG: pop!

GT: Curse my boyish good looks and charming demeanor!

GT: Its always lovely talking with you roxy when i catch you up extra late or early.
GT: But ive got to run!!! I havent eaten yet.
TG: ok!
GT: Ill be back soon!
TG: PS jake
TG: <333
GT: *looks about*
GT: <3

--golgathasTerror has ceased pestering tipsyGnostalgic --

Jake’s pesterchum window closes as Jake escapes on another perilous adventure to food, and you stare into the eyes of Calmasis on your empty desktop as his username turns gray.

Another, however, is bright and blue and you double click her cute username to pester your number one bffsy. Talking to Jane always makes you feel a little less lonely.

--tipsyGnostalgic [TG] has begun pestering gutsyGumshoe [GG]--

TG: hey guuurl
TG: what is up with my fery vavorite janesy
TG: *favoriet
GG: Hello, Roxy!
GG: Another sleepless night, I see.
TG: yeeeha it happsens
TG: gets lkinda lonely when your moms not anywhere and goes of to do her own thing all the time
TG: what with bein famosu and all
GG: I’m sorry, Roxy. :(
GG: If my Dad was gone, why, I might be too scared to be home alone!
GG: This house is awfully big when he’s out late.
TG: yeah so imagein that
TG: cept all the fuckin TIEM
TG: :( :( :(
GG: I know this may come off as condescending, but don’t you think your mother should hire a babysitter?
GG: At least then you would have some company for those late nights.
TG: well there is kinda somethin liek that
TG: but there not the talkative types
TG: *their
TG: *theyre
GG: Hmm. I see.
GG: *They're :P
GG: Well, you’ve always got me!
GG: I mean, as long as I’m not asleep or at school or doing something else.
GG: Which is a lot of the time!
GG: I’m sorry I’m not a better friend, Roxy.
TG: wtf r u talkin about?!?!
TG: ur a gr8 friend!!!!
TG: the best friend
TG: i fuckin love you
TG: <3333333333
GG: :)
GG: <3 for you, too!
GG: I’ll be right back, I have to wash up for tomorrow.
GG: Get to feeling better soon okay?
TG: ill surfife
TG: *sirvive
TG: *survivf
TG: wtfever
TG: sides i got one eligibbble bachelor mrdistri on one side here
TG: bitches all up and wantin a piece of this fine self
TG: u no u want tit
GG: Roxyyy. >:(
TG: i typied i swear
TG: typoed
TG: funny as shit tho
GG: Siiiigh!
TG: u kno its tru
GG: I’ll see you soon! TG: gibe in to your desirse jaen

-- gutsyGumshoe has ceased pestering tipsyGnostalgic --

TG: *jane
TG: darn

Dirk's pesterchum window flashes incessantly after Jane disappears. You open it and take a long drink from your martini before you respond. You’re a busy lady after all, you can’t just go rushing to answer every boy up in your grill.

--timaeusTestified [TT] has begun pestering tipsyGnostalgic [TG]--

TT: Hey, Roxy.
TT: Can’t sleep?
TG: howd you know?
TG: aside from the obvious me bein around at this timea nite
TT: I had a feeling.

You wait for him to say something, but he doesn’t. The screen is still while he waits for you.

TG: jus one of those shitty nitghts you know
TG: did you ever get rally caught up in how fuckin far away everyone is
TG: cant even keep ups ssprate by space also gotta use time
TG: like any chance to ever hug my friends just went down shit creek in a poop chute
TG: cause the euniverse has an immature fuckin sense o humor
TG: your the closets i got and you live x miles away
TG: x bein STUPID
TG: stupids a value
TG: i ahvent got you either
TT: You’ve got me, Roxy. And Jane and Jake are here for you too.
TT: I’d say that the distance makes it a much bigger deal, since it’s a lot harder for them. They have to go out of their way for us.

You sniff hard and run your palm over your eyes.

TG: yeah youre right
TG: as fuckin usual
TG: at least ive got somethign
TT: Atta girl.
TT: Want to do a video call?
TG: yeah
TG: of course i do
TG: thanks dork
TG: lol *dirk

TT: No problem.