“Aww, Dad! Can’t I ride the Rocket Sled? One more time?”
“Sorry, Tyler.” Kyle turned off his phone alarm. “I promised your mom that I’d have you home by four-thirty. Besides, you’re about worn out. Keep your grades up, and we’ll come back some time.”
“She doesn’t care.” Tyler’s shoulders sagged. “I’m not tired, either.”
“If she didn’t care, she wouldn’t have given us a deadline.” Kyle figured Amanda really didn’t care, except that she could use his being late as an excuse to berate him about all the things she’d undoubtedly saved up for such an opportunity. Tyler was the only leverage she had since the divorce, and she used it every chance she got. “But since you behaved yourself today… you still want that laser gun at the souvenir stand?”
“Yeah!” Tyler’s fatigue fell to excitement, and his animated chatter about school and his online friends and skating carried them all the way to the souvenir stand.
The guy behind the counter looked preoccupied, staring at something under the counter, when Kyle and Tyler approached. “Oh, hey,” he said, popping up when Kyle cleared his throat. “Choose your weapons.” He grinned and gestured at the array of t-shirts, hats, toys, and water bottles.
“One of those!” Tyler pointed at the rack of lasers, in all different colors, the Spaceport Alpha logo emblazoned on the side with their tagline, “the most fun in the solar system!”
“Um, sure,” said the vendor. He reached under the table and brought out a bright yellow one, with blue trim. “Um, those up there came in with a bad batch of batteries, and I haven’t gotten around to taking them down yet. I checked this one, it’s good. You can have it for a buck off, since it’s not in the package. Okay?”
“Sure,” Tyler agreed, and Kyle wasn’t about to argue. Everything at theme parks was overpriced, and a discount was always welcome.
“Thanks, man,” said Kyle, as the vendor gave him the change.
“No prob.” The vendor glanced up at the sky, then smiled at Tyler. “Have a nice day, kid. Blast yourself a few aliens, okay?”
Tyler laughed and followed his dad out of the park. Kyle was preoccupied, checking messages on his phone, and Tyler looked through the sights and began shooting. “Yeah, got one!” he laughed, his laser making a pew-pew-pew noise as he held the trigger. “Got another!” He could only see them through the sights. “This is cooler than a video game!” he said under his breath.
“What’s that?” Kyle asked, pocketing his phone and unlocking the car.
“Just playin’, Dad.” In the sky, contrails streaked and dissolved. On the way home, he took out three more alien ships through the open car window.
Tyler slept well that night, knowing the world would be there when he awoke.