Everyone video chats me at the same time:
“Do you feel it?”
Huh. My bed’s shaking; the vertical blinds in the living room window are swinging back and forth. To be fair, though, the apartment complex where I live is made of papier-mâché—we get the same rocking and rolling from passing trucks all the time. “Yeah.”
“Aren’t you scared?” Eva asks, her normally bulbous eyes now utterly bulging from their sockets. Behind her, Jack Skellington and company sway drunkenly. Further back, glass shatters loudly, a lamp falls from the bedside table, a bookshelf empties itself onto the floor.
“That doesn’t look safe,” I tell her.
“Says the guy just chilling in bed at three in the afternoon without a shirt!” Ernie screams. His cheeks and chin are jiggling.
“It’s hot. We’re trying to keep our AC bill down.”
“You just can’t stand not showing off when the rescuers come to pull your taught, rippling corpse from the wreckage after!”
I squint at Ernie’s feed. “Why does it look like you’re in a tent?”
“You wish you had a tent!”
“Did you build a fort in your bedroom?”
Ernie blinks, goes all deer and headlights. Then, sarcastically: “Yes, Jan, I built and am hiding inside a fort during an earthquake!”
Theo calls him on it. “Holy crap, you have built a fort, haven’t you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“Dude, you’re almost thirteen. Why are you still building forts?”
“Why are you dressed like Wesley Crusher?”
A bead of sweat rolls down Theo’s forehead. “What’re you talking about?”
“Wait a minute—yeah,” Eva adds. She leans in close to her phone, studying Theo’s feed. “You’re in uniform—and is that the bridge of the starship Enterprise?”
Beta leans into frame for a sec. “The bridge of the Enterprise-D, to be exact.”
Theo shoos him away from the conn.
The earthquake subsides.
Ernie continues to jiggle regardless. “That’s your disaster plan? Go virtual on a hard drive that may or may not be crushed, washed away, or electrified during a natural disaster?”
Theo glances over his shoulder, squirms against the unnecessary snugness of his acting ensign’s uniform. “At least I didn’t build a fort.”
“Shut up, Wesley!”