Well, hello! I bet you all thought I had deserted you for good. I really didn't mean to, but sometimes life gets in the way. Meaning, I had a baby. I know, weird, huh? Especially considering where in the story I left off. I'm planning to continue, maybe even finish, now that my son doesn't need 99.9 of my attention anymore. This is just a little scene to get going again - the hijinks (and mystery - don't forget Keely's mysterious dreams! Yes, they're coming back into the plot) will return in the next full chapter. I apologize for being gone sooo long, it really wasn't intentional!
"You did what now?" Phil stared at his mother.
"Relax, Phil, it's only for a couple of days."
"No no. You don't seem to understand. This isn't funny anymore." Phil rubbed his head, his dark hair sticking out in all directions. "Why can't you all just leave us alone?"
"Come on, Phil," Keely said, trying not to grin at how uncomfortable he seemed. "It sounds like it could be fun."
"Fun?" he demanded. "Screaming baby equals not-fun. Do you want me to run the equation for you?"
"You know I'm no good at algebra," she said, waving him off. She turned to his mother. "How does this work, Mrs. Diffy?"
"Very simple," she said, and led the way to the guest room upstairs. "You, my dear, will be staying in here for the weekend." She held out a pair of Virtu-Goggles. "I'll load the program for you. The rules are, two hours on, ten minutes' break. Think you can handle that?"
Keely took the goggles, but looked disappointed. "I was sort of hoping for a real baby," she said.
Barbara Diffy snorted. "Honey, it's not that we don't trust you, but babies are a lot of hard work. That's what this whole weekend is supposed to teach you, you know. And you have to be careful with them."
"You know how seventh-graders get flour-sack babies to take care of?" Phil said, leaning in the doorway, "well, in the future, this is how we learn this 'valuable life lesson.' I've already done it, but now it looks like I'll have to do it again."
Mrs. Diffy patted his cheek. "It won't hurt you to have a reminder," she said.
"I don't need a reminder to be careful; it's not like one of these will just show up by accident."
"Well, it will make Mandy Teslow feel better, and that's good enough for me," she said, and shooed Phil off to his own room with his own pair of Virtu-Goggles. "Now, Keely—during the day, you and Phil will get a ten-minute break for every two hours you wear the Virtu-Goggles. I'd recommend getting comfortable in the armchair or on the bed. At night—lucky you—you get to keep them on. Remember, the baby could wake up at any time and start crying."
"How old is the baby?" Keely asked, settling herself in the overstuffed armchair next to the bed.
"Oh, newborn, of course," Mrs. Diffy said. "You know, the ones that don't sleep through the night." She smiled and waved before closing the door. "Good luck!"