April 7, 2004

Congrats, Chris!

Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for nonsmart reasons.

— Michael Shermer, “Smart People Believe Weird Things”

And now, more of the VR story.

He waved it off and massaged his temples for a moment before asking, “Who hired you?”

She shook her head. “Whoever it was didn’t want me to say anything about that. I just know I’m being paid a lot of money to keep you alive.” A sly grin stole over her face. It made her look quite pretty. “You better not die,” she finished.

He grunted, and remained silent for awhile. She continued to study him, like a small child studying a stranger.

He let out a deep breath, then stoood up and studied the room. She followed his gaze. “What?” she asked, genuinely curious.

He saw what he was looking for, and headed towards the lopsided nightstand that squatted between the two worn beds. “I need to jack in,” he stated flatly.

“Oh, no you don’t,” she said as she sprang to her feet. “Why don’t you just set up a flashing neon sign above the motel saying, ‘BAD GUYS COME HERE’?”

He rolled his eyes and looked back at her. “Give me some credit,” he said. “I’m a VR detective. I spend more time awake in VR than I do in my apartment. I’m not going to wander around like a complete moron.”

She chewed her lip, her eyebrows scrunched up in concentration. That made her look pretty, too. After a few uncomfortable moments she nodded, but her expression didn’t change.

“I’m going in with you,” she announced.

“Okay,” he replied. Just as long as he could get in and get some answers….

He strode to the nightstand and managed to manhandle the poorly-made drawer open. Inside was what looked like a large folded pair of sunglasses. He withdrew them and turned, holding them up to Doodlehopper to show her that there was only one. She was already holding a slim pair of her own, an inexpensive type that folded down and could be kept in a pocket.

His lips pursed slightly, then he resigned himself. He pulled a thin cable out of one end of the folded pair of VR goggles and pushed it into one of two small, off-kilter black jacks that protruded from the wall above the nighstand.

She strode to the nighstand, swishing her hips, then gave him a playful grin and jacked in next to him.

He was looking into her eyes, trying to see if she was really up to this. Her green eyes were happy and oh so big, like an excited girl on her first day of school. This worried him, actually, as he thought of the trouble that could be caused by an excitable girl hanging over his shoulder.

On the other hand, he reflected, she had saved his life.

Still looking her straight in the eyes, he flipped open the goggles and slipped them over his eyes, then slid his thumb along one edge until he found a slight bump, and pushed it.

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