â€œI am so sorry, tiger.â€ The holomatrix pursed her lips. â€œBut you have insufficient funds!â€ Her green eyeshadow glowed. A low-cut top squeezed her holographic breasts. Cutoff shorts rode up silky translucent thighs.
Willâ€™s holovisor buzzed against his temples. His wife Trudy and their three-year-old son Henry would only be at the park for twenty minutes. â€œReview accounts,â€ he said.
The holomatrix danced into the background. She perched on an invisible stool and blew kisses. A three-dimensional menu screen sprawled, framed by neon borders. Will tapped the air, clicked each account.
â€œDamn it, Trudy!â€ Will flicked the menu aside. â€œI canâ€™t just have my money, can I?â€
You agreed to those dual control accounts, he thought. He knew. Itâ€™s not Trudyâ€™s fault.
The sultry holomatrix strutted into the foreground. Her legs ghosted through the coffee table. â€œI really want to play, cowboy. But youâ€™ll have to add some points.â€
â€œIâ€™m working on it, airhead!â€ Will snapped. â€œThink, think!â€ He had to have accounts that Trudy didnâ€™t know about.
You do, idiot, he realized. Theyâ€™re overdrawn from yesterdayâ€™s park excursion.
Will collapsed on the couch. â€œYour old manâ€™s a screw up, Henry.â€ Heâ€™d never win back his money. All his direct deposits went into Trudy accounts now.
The holomatrixâ€™s face smeared behind Willâ€™s tears. â€œPoor, baby. I can cheer you up. Just add more points.â€
â€œLook what you did to me, you money-sucking CPU!â€ Will detached the holovisor and tossed it across the couch. â€œI hate you.â€
Cut your losses. Trudy was right. If she canâ€™t trust you with your familyâ€™s money. Your familyâ€™s future . . .
â€œFuture,â€ he whispered. He leapt off the couch and darted into the office. He rummaged through the file cabinet until he found it: paperwork for Henryâ€™s college fund. Trudy had forgotten. They had joint access.
He raced back into the living room, clutching the account statement, and secured the holovisor back over his head. He strapped it into place and powered up.
â€œWelcome to Cyber Casino!â€ The holomatrix glowed back into existence, spun, and struck a pose. â€œCare to place a bet?â€
â€œOne second, sweetheart.â€ Will clicked the spherical account icon, scrolled the options, and tapped â€œAdd New Account.â€
He hastily dictated the routing number and account number, followed by his social. A loading icon swirled over the menu. â€œPlease wait while we verify with your financial institution,â€ the holomatrix teased.
The icon swirled. And swirled.
It never takes this long.
He wiped his palms on his pants. â€œCome on, come on!â€
Trudyâ€™s not stupid. She got to this account too, Iâ€™ll bet.
A cash register sound-effect rang in Willâ€™s ears. â€œAccepted!â€ The funds appeared. It wasnâ€™t as much as he remembered. He had meant to contribute more over the past few years.
Maybe you pilfered before?
He took a shuddery breath. â€œConvert total amount to points.â€ His chest pounded. Head throbbed.
Youâ€™re going to lose it all.
â€œI could double it. Triple it. All for Henry.â€
â€œIf I lose, Iâ€™ll find a way to replace it.â€
â€œTrudy never checks this account. I have time.â€
â€œCare to place a bet, sir?â€ The holomatrix pleaded.
â€œSlots,â€ Will said. â€œ500 points.â€
The holomatrix grinned. â€œAll right!â€ A three-dimensional slot machine appeared in front of her. She bent and tugged the handle. â€œLetâ€™s get lucky!â€
The holovisor zoomed in as neon symbols spun in three columns. Cherries, dollar signs, and lucky sevens rushed past Willâ€™s eyes.
Will clutched his chest. Gasped for air.
â€œJACKPOT!â€ she screamed with ecstasy. Holographic gold coins rained over their real life living room, clinking in Willâ€™s ears. Photonic fireworks exploded inside the visor. Willâ€™s points doubled, tripled, quadrupled.
â€œYes!â€ he shouted. â€œBaby, youâ€™re the best!â€
Will did a quick calculation. Converted back to cash, he could double Henryâ€™s college fundâ€”which heâ€™d never touch againâ€”but also refund his secret accounts. He was back in business.
The holomatrix batted her eyes. Neon eyeshadow glowed. â€œHow about it, slugger? Double or nothing?â€
Willâ€™s palms sweat. He checked the time. Trudy would be gone at least another ten minutes. â€œIâ€™m feelinâ€™ lucky, angel. Letâ€™s do it.â€