Monday, July 14, 2008

A Three-Donut Vacation: XXXIV. Into the Maelstrom

Written 14 July, 2008

A Three-Donut Vacation

XXXIV: Into the Maelstrom

I was feeling so sorry for myself that I didn’t at first hear the commotion in Tourist. Finally, I came to myself.

“Come out of there!” someone cried.

“Won’t!” said a muffled voice that could only be Diva’s.

I made my way to the back of the telecraft. “What is it?” I asked. “What’s happening?”

“The flight attendant has locked herself in the bathroom,” someone said, “and she won’t come out. And some of us gotta go!”

“You can use the head in First Class,” I said, and there was a minor stampede.

“She’s up to something in there,” Sweetie said. Her ear was to the lavatory door. “I’ll stay here and keep an eye on her. You go tell Captain Camper we won’t be actually landing at Black Swan. He has to take the plane through the wormhole. And let’s pray to the heavens the portal is still there and operational.”

“Wilco,” I said, and hurried forward.


“You want me to do WHAT?” said an incredulous Captain Camper.

“I want you to dive the plane straight into that vortex down there,” I said, pointing to the swirling mass of plasma at the center of the Black Swan sim.

“Let me get this straight,” he said. “I’m supposed to risk my virtual life for a measly 60 Lindens an hour?”

“That pretty much sums it up,” I said.

“Hold on a second,” said the captain. “I’m getting a transmission.”

“This is the Black Swan. We have in our infinite wisdom instituted a $200L charge to enter the Black Swan and pay homage to our sculpties. You must remit immediately upon entry or you’ll be hunted down by our killer robots.”

“That’s horrible!” I said. “Charging to enter a sim! And letting ‘bots do the dirty work. Those damnable Rezzables!”

“I don’t see we have a choice,” said Captain Camper. “We’re low on fuel. We’d never make it to another sim.”

“Ordinarily I’d refuse to pay on principle,” I said, “but under the circumstances, I guess you're right; we’ve no choice. At least we have the money. I had 56 Lindens and Sweetie had 48. There are 150 screaming Sweetie fans in back, and they tipped generously. We took in, uh, let’s see, carry the one, 93 Lindens. Ninety-three Lindens! Can that be right? Those cheapskates!”

“That’s $197,” said the captain. “You’re three Lindens short.”

“Will you—“

“I suppose you’re good for it,” he sighed, and paid me three Lindens.

“Tell Black Swan we’ll pay,” I said.

“Uh-oh,” he said.

“Uh-oh what?” I said.

“They’re not talking about $200L for all of us. They want $200L for each avatar. With 187 people on board this telecraft, we’re talking big money.” He scribbled furiously on a scratch pad and then looked up, aghast. “That’s nearly a whole month in this chair!

“I hate to tell you this,” I said, “but it's two months in the chair. You’re not accumulating money nearly as fast as you think you are. Five Lindens every ten minutes isn’t sixty Lindens an hour.”

“It isn’t?”

“No. Do the math.”

He scribbled furiously. “So, uh, darn, gosh, I’m only making thirty Lindens an hour! And all this while I thought I was making sixty!

I shrugged. “Use that pencil and multiply 187 by 200. What does that equal?”

He told me: $L37400.

“Oh my god,” I said. “We don’t have that kind of money!”

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