Family: Planned

“Don’t worry, they won’t find it.” Tommy’s father said over the intercom accidentally. The whole conversation seemed like an accident he wasn’t supposed to hear. Tommy and his new friend, Brad, grinned at each other the moment the intercom shut off with a loud click. They got the impression Tommy’s dad was leaning on a button he shouldn’t have been.

The pair of 10-year-olds began eavesdropping halfway through the conversation. The voice of Brad’s mother suddenly filled the white room they were in, “… left the node in there. I should go get it.”  Her concerns were dismissed by Tommy’s father; but, it was too late.

“The node!” Tommy whispered to Brad with wide eyes. “I’ve heard my dad talk about it! You?” Brad nodded.

“Mom said it could change the world!” Brad replied with his own whisper.

“Let’s change the world!” The pair of boys hopped off the red chairs and each headed to a different side of the room glad to have something to do. Up until that moment, they sat at the red table in the center of the room with bored, sullen looks. The white room seemed to be some sort of storage area with plenty of boxes and crates of different sizes. Curiosity itched at them, but the boys had strict instructions not to dig through anything.

The two managed to behave until the fact that a node was in the room was revealed. They talked about how the boxes were full of boring stuff. They instead found a distraction in talking about video games for about 15 minutes before the intercom accident. They scrambled through the smaller boxes first but found only forms and other minor electronic parts.

Outside the room, Brad and Tommy’s mother and father chuckled to themselves while they watched the two kids making a mess. They didn’t have the foresight to put things back the way they found them and instead opened more and more boxes.

“It looks like that’ll keep them entertained for a while,” Evelyn said.

“Yeah.. maybe too long,” Thomas replied. “We need that room for other experiments today. I think we’re going to have to cut their adventure short.”

“Do we have to?” Evelyn asked. “They look like they’re having fun.” Thomas shrugged.

“We already got what we need;” he added a sigh. “But, I guess there’s no harm in letting them play a bit longer.”

“Just a bit?” Evelyn asked. Thomas turned and gave her his full attention; he appraised her with a stern look.

“You got attached, didn’t you?” he asked. A hint of disappointment colored his words. Evelyn could only shrug sheepishly.

“It’s been nice not coming home to an empty house,” she said. Thomas shook his head but also gave her a gentle grin.

“Well, we can’t do anything about it now. But, I feel like Ms. Sharp will be pretty happy with the progress we’ve made. As far as I’m concerned, this…,” he nodded at the monitor and the two boys still tearing boxes open. “…was your idea. You’re the one that deserves a reward and I’ll be sure to tell Ms. Sharp that in the report.”

“Really?” Evelyn’s eyes immediately sparkled with hope.

“Sure,” Thomas said with a shrug. “It was fun for a little while, but I think I’m over it. Besides, now that we’ve finished this project, who knows what Ms. Sharp will want us to work on next? I want to be ready for whatever it is. I can’t do that if I’m babysitting.” Evelyn nodded but kept her eyes on the monitor. She focused on the small, glassy rectangle standing upright in the center of the red table.

“We’ve just figured out a way to make nodes invisible to NPCs,” she said. “I’m not sure I want to be part of whatever’s next.”

“You don’t have to be,” Thomas replied with a warm smile. “I’m sure Ms. Sharp won’t have a problem with you retiring and moving to a quiet server with your new son or daughter.”

“Maybe one of each?” Evelyn asked with a slight smirk. Thomas rolled his eyes, but laughed.

“If you’re going that far, might as well get yourself an NPC husband too,” he said.

“I just might,” Evelyn added with a wink.

“Anyway, time to clear the room for the next experiment,” Thomas said. “Did you want to say goodbye to Brad?” 

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