“I am so sorry, tiger.” The holomatrix pursed her lips. “But you have insufficient funds!” Her green eyeshadow glowed. A low-cut top squeezed her holographic breasts. Cutoff shorts rode up silky translucent thighs.

Will’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. “Review accounts,” 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.

Overdrawn.

Overdrawn.

Blocked.

Blocked.

“Damn it, Trudy!” Will flicked the menu aside. “I can’t just have my money, can I?”

You agreed to those dual control accounts, he thought. He knew. It’s not Trudy’s fault.

The sultry holomatrix strutted into the foreground. Her legs ghosted through the coffee table. “I really want to play, cowboy. But you’ll have to add some points.”

“I’m working on it, airhead!” Will snapped. “Think, think!” He had to have accounts that Trudy didn’t know about.

You do, idiot, he realized. They’re overdrawn from yesterday’s park excursion.

Will collapsed on the couch. “Your old man’s a screw up, Henry.” He’d never win back his money. All his direct deposits went into Trudy accounts now.

The holomatrix’s face smeared behind Will’s tears. “Poor, baby. I can cheer you up. Just add more points.”

“Look what you did to me, you money-sucking CPU!” Will detached the holovisor and tossed it across the couch. “I hate you.”

Cut your losses. Trudy was right. If she can’t trust you with your family’s money. Your family’s future . . .

“Future,” he whispered. He leapt off the couch and darted into the office. He rummaged through the file cabinet until he found it: paperwork for Henry’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.

“Welcome to Cyber Casino!” The holomatrix glowed back into existence, spun, and struck a pose. “Care to place a bet?”

“One second, sweetheart.” Will clicked the spherical account icon, scrolled the options, and tapped “Add New Account.”

He hastily dictated the routing number and account number, followed by his social. A loading icon swirled over the menu. “Please wait while we verify with your financial institution,” the holomatrix teased.

The icon swirled. And swirled.

It never takes this long.

He wiped his palms on his pants. “Come on, come on!”

Trudy’s not stupid. She got to this account too, I’ll bet.

A cash register sound-effect rang in Will’s ears. “Accepted!” The funds appeared. It wasn’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. “Convert total amount to points.” His chest pounded. Head throbbed.

You’re going to lose it all.

“I could double it. Triple it. All for Henry.”

Like hell.

“If I lose, I’ll find a way to replace it.”

How?

“Trudy never checks this account. I have time.”

“Care to place a bet, sir?” The holomatrix pleaded.

“Slots,” Will said. “500 points.”

The holomatrix grinned. “All right!” A three-dimensional slot machine appeared in front of her. She bent and tugged the handle. “Let’s get lucky!”

The holovisor zoomed in as neon symbols spun in three columns. Cherries, dollar signs, and lucky sevens rushed past Will’s eyes.

Jackpot.

Jackpot.

Will clutched his chest. Gasped for air.

“JACKPOT!” she screamed with ecstasy. Holographic gold coins rained over their real life living room, clinking in Will’s ears. Photonic fireworks exploded inside the visor. Will’s points doubled, tripled, quadrupled.

“Yes!” he shouted. “Baby, you’re the best!”

Will did a quick calculation. Converted back to cash, he could double Henry’s college fund—which he’d never touch again—but also refund his secret accounts. He was back in business.

The holomatrix batted her eyes. Neon eyeshadow glowed. “How about it, slugger? Double or nothing?”

Will’s palms sweat. He checked the time. Trudy would be gone at least another ten minutes. “I’m feelin’ lucky, angel. Let’s do it.”

Kevin M. Folliard

Kevin M. Folliard

Kevin M. Folliard is a Chicagoland writer whose published fiction includes scary stories collections Christmas Terror Tales and Valentine Terror Tales, and adventure novels such as Jimmy Chimaera & the Temple of Champions. His work has also been collected by Sanitarium Magazine, Flame Tree Publishing, Black Bed Sheet Books, and more.
Kevin M. Folliard

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