Premise suggested by Matt Staggs.
“Don’t squirm. And remember what I told you. Grandma hates—”
“Viv. She likes being called Viv.”
“Ok. Viv hates the retirement home just like you do so don’t give her a hard time about it, ok?”
The train stopped and Tirzah and Kath stepped onto the platform.
Kath looked over the sitting area for her mother. She spotted Viv in the bright orange jumper Kath had tried to throw out several times. It made her mother look like a convict.
Viv waved. She scrunched down to do it. The wave was more for Tirzah than for Kath.
Tirzah pulled Kath’s arm forward. “C’mon, mom.”
Viv had saved them seats. Kath chose a different seat and pulled out her cell.
“Sorry, mom. I told you I would have to do some business while Ti—we visit you.”
“It’s ok, dear.”
Kath put her ear buds in and put on music. The chairs were incomprehensibly uncomfortable. Kath tolerated it for ten minutes. “Uh, I’ll be back in a few, mom.”
“Well, now that your mother’s out of the way, do you want to go on an adventure?”
Tirzah scrunched her nose. “An adventure? What kind of adventure can we go on without leaving the building?”
Viv laughed. “I didn’t say we wouldn’t leave the building, but I can think of one adventure we can have without leaving.” She winked at her granddaughter.
Tirzah eyed Viv suspiciously. “Ok, you’ve got my attention. What did you have in mind?”
Viv led Tirzah down a corridor. Her forcefield cane buzzed the floor lightly every other step.
They played nonchalant while passing nurses, orderlies, and janitorial staff.
“Where are we going, Viv?” Tirzah asked when the last of the staff was out of sight.
“The coast is clear?”
Viv thumped a laundry chute door with her cane. “Ready?”
“Are we really—” Tirzah’s eyes grew wide.
“Sure are, kiddo.”
Viv twisted her cane off and jumped in the laundry chute. Tirzah jumped in after her.
The laundry chute had smooth metal walls and evened out to a slight precipice every few floors.
“Oh my god,” Tirzah shouted, “This is like the biggest slide ever!”
Viv squealed with delight.
Kath dried her hands with a sigh and walked out of the restroom. She didn’t have any new messages on her cell. No interesting news stories. The celebs were all quiet.
She walked to the sitting room. She couldn’t see Tirzah anywhere. Viv was out of sight too.
“God damn it. Where did those two—”
The front door busted open. Twenty armored teenagers stormed in.
Kath dropped to the floor. “What the fu—”
The elderly and their visitors stopped and looked at the entrance.
One of the two youths pulled a device from his pocket and pressed a button.
The visitors and elderly gasped.
“WE ARE THE YOUTH LIBERATION FRONT. YOU ARE PAWNS OF YOUTH OPPRESSION. YOU WILL COMPLY WITH OUR ORDERS. WE WILL NOT HARM YOU.”
Tirzah landed on Viv in a laundry cart.
“That was so much fun, Viv. Can we do it again?”
“Sure thing, Tirzah,” she laughed. “You know you’re my favorite granddaughter.” She pulled herself up and rolled over the cart’s edge.
“I’m your only granddaughter, Viv.”
Viv laughed. “The only one you know about anyway. Here, grab my hand.”
Tirzah grabbed the old woman’s hand and pulled herself out of the cart.
A klaxon sounded twice.
“Whoops. Looks like we’re in for it now, pardner.”
“THIS BUILDING IS UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE YOUTH LIBERATION FRONT. YOU ARE PAWNS—”
Tirzah pulled out her cell. “No signal. Check yours.”
“Me either. Looks like we’re in a whole different sort of trouble, kiddo.”
“Must be the Faraday shield,” Tirzah said.
“I always thought it was a stupid idea to install those in buildings. The temptation to use them is never a good idea.”
The laundrobots nearby paid no attention to the interlopers or the announcements.
“I have an idea,” Viv said. She popped the back off her cell and fiddled with the controls.
She reattached the back, taped the phone to the body of a laundrobot, and broke the bot’s case open.
Viv poked inside the bot, set a few controls, and closed it back up.
“Alright, get on with you,” she kicked the bot lightly.
It rolled away.
“Well, we can wait here if you want,” Viv said.
Tirzah looked depressed.
“Or we could try to stage a rescue?”
“Yay! Let’s do that.”
“You’ve got the right stuff, kid.”
Viv and Tirzah pried the doors off a cabinet with the Elderly Riot Supply kit. They pulled out the crowd control net and a few Zap guns.
“Hey, these things have been stunted. Nothing above a 2,” Tirzah pouted.
“It’s ok, kid. You can still rapid fire them. Harder to kill someone, but we don’t have to do everything on our first adventure.”
Viv and Tirzah took the elevator. When it reached -10, the elevator stopped.
“Looks like they figured out the elevator,” Viv said. She twisted her cane back on, selected the extensor, and lifted the elevator ceiling tile.
“Hold onto me,” she said.
Tirzah grabbed Viv’s waist. Viv collapsed her cane and aimed it at the floor. She hacked the cane control and pressed the button. The two shot up through the ceiling and grabbed onto the roof.
“Whoa. That was almost as much fun as the chute.”
Viv and Tirzah scrambled to the shaft ladder and climbed up.
“Maybe it would have been better if you’d gone first,” Viv said.
Tirzah laughed. “I don’t know. You’re like some kind of action hero, Viv.”
Viv pulled her cane out and pushed herself up with it. “Glad you’ve got so much confidence in me.”
A door ten floors up opened and the shaft echoed with YLF charges.
Viv’s cane slipped and she teetered. “I’m going to fall dear, step as far to the—”
Tirzah crumpled under Viv. They fell several feet.
Tirzah woke on a suspensogurney with a nurse standing over her.
The nurse wore a beard and has his nose pierced. “Just hold still, dear. I’ve got to finish your scan.”
Kath held her hand.
“Is Viv ok?” Tirzah asked.
“Oh, she’s fine, baby,” Kath said. “She fell on you though.”
“The call your grandmother made went through and the police filled the home with sleeping gas.”
“The scan shows she’s ok. A few bruises, but no broken bones, internal bleeding, or concussion. Lucky kid,” the nurse said.
“Thanks, Anso,” Kath said.
Tirzah crawled over the edge of the gurney and stood on the floor. “Viv?”
“Hey there, dear,” Viv said. She shuffled toward Tirzah. “Broke my cane on the way down,” she laughed.
Tirzah hugged her grandmother’s waist and looked up. “Can we go on another adventure soon, Viv?”
“Only if you promise we can break out of this joint for our adventure. The laundry chutes aren’t as fun your second time, I promise.”