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|15th Jul 2015, 11:47 PM||The Mayfield Family, a Sims 3 Story #1|
I'm not exactly sure how it's done here, so I apologize if this in the wrong place, not in the proper format, etc. Please correct me, tell me what's wrong and I'll do my best to fix it/not repeat the mistake.
WARNING: There will be spelling errors! Most are there on purpose because the sim narrator has a thick accent and I wanted to communicate that. If you have suggestions on how I could better write that, suggest away!
I have a wordpress blog: The Mayfields, a Sims 3 Story, but I'm not getting as much helpful feedback as I would like. If you guys could give that a visit and comment there too, great! If not, thank you for being here! ^_^
This is just a story I started writing about a random family I've been leisurely playing. I think they're interesting and I wanted to share that. Okay, here goes.
1.0 – A Fresh Start
My skies, but I’d never before seen such a bootiful sight! When Bernard an’ Susan were talking of moving towns, why, I thought we’d be heading tah thuh town over, Bigsburg. But no! They plum packed us all up, kids an’ all, an’ we drove all thuh way across this country from Pleasantville tah Sunset Valley. An’, my, if it weren’t a pretty place. All snug an’ tucked up against those green, green mountains an’ thuh big blue ocean on thuh othuhrside! That first day, I fell in love with thuh place. I wanted thuh rest of my children to be born an' raised right thuhre. I wanted my gran'kids to be born an' raised thuhre! I wanted a big ol’ place with lotsa' room an' I wanted a big family to match.
For lan's’ sakes, Ellie, you’re getting ahead a’ yourself!
I’m Ellie Mayfield, an' here’s my little family. That han'some devil is my husban', Bernard Mayfield, an' behind him is my sister, Susan Thompson. Thuh little blonde bundle off to thuh side is my daughter, Chloe Mayfield. Bernard’s not her daddy, but you couldn’t tell with thuh way he treats her. An' thuh cute little guy in thuh flowers is my nephew, Thomas Thompson. I begged Suzy not to name him that, but that was our Daddy’s name, rest in peace. She never did mention who Thomas’s daddy was. Anywho, here we all are!
￼** Right to left: Chloe Mayfield, Bernard Mayfield, Susan Thompson, Thomas Thompson, an' Ellie Mayfield. **
It all started a year back, right before Momma died. I was young an' a single mothuhr. I’d quit school to have Chloe. Her daddy was a good-fer’-nuthin’ though. Chloe was just a coupla’ weeks old when Momma died. Daddy, though he hadn’t liked Momma (‘cept fer a few months back when they were still hot-blooded), he came to her funeral. Afterwards he packed me an’ Chloe up an' took us to Pleasantville. I thought is was so big an' chic! I met my big sister Suzy. Her momma was Daddy’s wife, but she died years back when Suzy was jus’a kid. Anywho, Daddy got me an’ Chloe moved in with him, an' it wasn’t long afterwords that Suzy got her fancy degree from college. That summer I’ll never forget. Suzy had her baby boy (she’d been busy with school at thuh time, so I took care’a him). An' in mid-June, I met my one-an’-only.
I’ll remember that day always. I was out wid’da kids in thuh front yard, watching ‘em toddle through Daddy’s flower beds, when this blue-eyed hunk walked up an’ knocked on our front door. He noticed me after a coupla' seconds, an’ he went all red an' stuttery. He was a cutey. Still is. I said hi, an’ he ran away. But thuh next day he was back with a bundle o’ roses an’ sweets for thuh kids. I didn’t waste no time. I pulled every trick Momma ever taught me. By thuh end of thuh summer I was Mrs. Bernard Mayfield an' Chloe was Chloe Mayfield. Sweet guy, my Bernard, he wanted Chloe to be his, no ifs, an's, nor buts.
Turns out, Suzy an' Bernard had been best friends since Daddy an' Suzy had moved to Pleasantville. An’ thuhy’d been making plans. Not marriage, no! I’d nevah steal a man from mah own sister! But thuhy’d been wanting to leave Pleasantville since high school. Go somewhere more “happening”. Me, I was so caught up in thuh wedding an’ heaven’s happiness that I wen’ along with whateveah thuhy wanted.
An’ that’s how I found mahself in Sunset Valley. Mah sister, mah husban' an’ thuh two kids on thuh lawn, all staring at our new home.
It weren’t much, but I jus’ knew we could make it work!
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|17th Jul 2015, 5:56 PM||1.1 - Bumps an' Bruises #2|
Yay! I can't believe people are actually reading this! *does happy dance*
My blog is farther along than this is, but we'll catch up soon enough...for reasons... >.>
Any feedback would be welcome. I'm sorry if the spelling puts some people off. If you can push through it, Gen 1 only lasts a few chapters.
1.1 – Bumps an' Bruises
Weren’t exactly easy, right off, nah. Bernard an’ Susan had tah settle fer less than thuhy wanted jus’ tah put food on thuh table. But they’re both hard workers, an' I had no doubt that their dreams’d come true someday. Suzy wanted tah be a astrahnut since she were a little girl, an’ Bernard wanted tah “head his own search ‘stablishment”. Something about breeding thuhm there compotahs wid’ fish. I honestly have no idea. As fer me, I just wanted tah look after my family an’ make sure thuh kids grew up right. I wouldn’t’ve minded learning more than even Momma did ‘bout cooking, but that’d be fer later.
While Bernard an' Suzy were out making money an’ working fer their dreams, I stayed home wit’ thuh kids. My momma raised me right, so first thing I did was set out tah meet thuh neighbors. Only met one ‘for thuh kids were tussled out, Beau Andrews, who’s got a wife, but I never did see hide nor hair a’ her. By thuh time we got home, thuh furniture guys had got thuh cribs out an’ hooked up thuh power an’ water. We were moved in!
Our little family quickly settled into a routine. I made breakfast early each mornin’, jus’ so’s Susan could eat somethin’ ‘for she ran to work at 5am. Then I’d wake an’ feed thuh kids. At haf’pas 6, I’d put a plate o’ breakfast in Bernard’s sleepy hands ‘fore he left at 7. Then it’d just be me an’ thuh wee ones. I’d cook while they played on thuh floor. I always had one in thuh walker until they could both toddle an' tussle togethuher. I think I spent most a’ mah time cooking an' canning an' cleaning an' trying to keep up with thuh kids. I taught ‘em both to talk an' walk by thuh time Susan’s first pro’tion came around. An' Chloe was potty-trained when Bernard came home wit’ news a’ some kind’a extra work he was working on wit’ his boss. My Chloe always was a quick study, though where she got that thuh Lord only knows. Training Thomas, now that was a mite harder. He weren’t near so quick as Chloe, but, my Lord!, was he stubborn!
I was still trying tah potty-train Thomas when Bernard an’ Susan finally got those promotions. I was so proud an’ happy fer them!
I’ve always been a get-up-an’-go kind’a gal, so when I started feeling more an’ more tuckered out each day, I thought I might be comin’ down wit’ somethin’. It took me a coupl’a weeks tah figger’ it out. Me an’ Bernard, we were gonna have a baby!
My wish has always been to have a big ol’ family, all my own. Me an’ my hubby cuddled up on a front porch swing while all our little ones played in thuh yard. Now…it were coming true!
That next year, in early spring, still frosty an’ glitterin’, Bernard an’ me brought home our little girl, Shaye Mayfield, named for Bernard’s mama. She’s got some wild hair, that one! All blonde an' blue-eyed, she’s a good kid though, takes after her daddy.
I don’t know if a new baby made ‘em work harder or if we finally got a break, but Susan an' Bernard were both promoted not long after Shaye was born. Things got easier, for sure, but our tiny house was cramped. Then Tommy an' Chloe started school. An’ it just didn’t make sense tah Susan an’ Bernard tah have two schoolbound kids sharing a room with thuh new baby.
Susan started talkin’ ‘round fer contractors. It was time fer a bigga’ house!
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|18th Jul 2015, 10:51 AM||1.2 – Growin' Pains #3|
1.2 – Growin' Pains
It took time, that bigga’ house. Buildin’ takes time an’ money, an’ the last we din’t have much o’. But we made due. Tommy an’ Chloe got their own room, sep’ret from the baby’s, an’ wit’ thuh lil’ left over, Susan got one o’ them fancy computurs tuh work at home on. Shaye moved into Chloe’s old crib in mine an’ Bernard’s bedroom since there jus’ wan’t enuff money tuh finish thuh expanshun.
That day mah heart jus’ ‘bout broke fer pride an’ gloom, seein’ my babies off tuh their firs’ day’a school! I’ll always ‘member it. I wuz so happy fer’ em, Chloe an’ Tommy. They were gonna go an’ get a eduhcashun! But that day…Tommy, he came home so mad! I’d nevuh ‘fore seen that boy so stewed! He wuz always so happy an’ friendly! An’ Chloe, she wouln't tell me nuthin’! Jus’ picked at her dinner an’ then ran off tuh thuh park. I’ve nevuh known what goes on it that gurl's head!
Chloe nevuh told me nuthin’. Tommy calmed down, but I couln’t get anythang out’a him neither! Those two were true blood. None o’ ‘em were gonna say anythang ’til thuh othuh one did. They nevuh came home upset after that, so I let it go. Those kids had’a way o’ workin' thru thangs. I weren’t gonna pry.
‘Round thuh same time, Susan an’ Bernard bof’ got pro’shuns.
Shaye weren’t a month ‘fore I found out I was wit’ child again! I was so excited. That didn’t last long. I started feeling really run down. I couldn’t eat nuthin’, it all just made me sick. An' I din’t have no energy tuh play wit’ Shaye so much. I got real big an’ could hardly walk. The doctors said it’d be best if I rested in bed. Maybe it woudun't a been so bad, but Bernard were also feelin’ sick an’ not at’all right. He said he kept havin' bad dreams that put’im in a right funk fer thuh rest o’ thuh day.
So I had a sick husband, still workin’ hard, a ‘nuther baby tuh look aftuh an’ two kids off doin’ who knew what! I couln’t rest! I kept on mah feet!
I were gettin' big when Susan’s final pro’shun came. Aftuh six years o’ hard work and detuhminashun, Susan got her dream! She was promoted tuh astruhnut. Thuh next week she got called up tuh space. She weren’t happy ‘bout leavin' her baby boy wif’out his mama, let alone me in such’a state.
I dint see mah big sister fer a long time.
It were dead winter when I gave birth, too early. As I wuz goin’ intuh labor, Bernard wuz workin' late at thuh lab.
I had tuh call a babysitter fer thuh kids while I drove myself tuh thuh hospital. I don’t ‘member much. There were “complications”. Lots. An' thuhy gave me all sorts o’ drugs tuh help with thuh pain. I had triplets, two girls an' a boy. I wuz so happy when thuh doctors told me. Two more daughters an' our first son! But thuhn…apparently thuh complications got worse. My baby boy…died…an' one o’ thuh girls wuz so weak…thuhy told me she weren’t gonna make it neither.
Oh, what a state I were in when Bernard got tuh thuh hospital. One child already dead an' anothuhr expected tuh jus’ stop breathing at any moment! But my Bernard…he’s a sweetheart, an' thuh strongest man I ever did met. He kept me goin’. He kept us all goin’.
We named thuh boy David, after mah younga’ brothur. His older sister wuz Medea an' his younger sister wuz Lucy.
We brought home thuh twins an'…I barely held myself togethuhr. Even with that, I still cried myself tuh sleep that night. I jus’ kept thinkin’ ‘bout what lil’ David would’a been like. What he would’a looked like. How he would’a acted.
Thuh next day, Bernard came home from thuh lab early.
He wuz so shy an' stuttering, trying tuh explain that he had somethin’ that might help but he didn’t know fer sure if I would want it, an' on an' on. Finally, he just passed me a basket.
Inside was a little baby with dark green skin.
Bernard wuz talking about how thuh lab had created it from some skin or somethin’ thuhy’d found. I don’t know, I weren’t really paying attention.
“Wh–what do you think?” Bernard finally asked.
“He’s precious…” He felt warm in my arms. An' he opened his eyes an' oh! Those dark eyes, I fell in love! He yanked my hair an' babbled something, but I couldn’t stop smiling. He were too cute! Even with green skin. “You cutey gotta name?”
“Well, we never thought of it, just DNA-OD. It stands for DNA Off-world Duplicate.” He paused. “No one really thought about what would happen to it after it was born.”
“Well, that’s no name fer a baby.”
“Since it was just me and the tech guys, we figured in order to really study how different humans an' aliens are, we should have an alien grow up in a normal, human environment, away from the lab, but still closely monitored.” Bernard smiled at me. “He’s all yours.”
All mine. This little thing…was all mine. My son.
“Donovan.” I don’t ‘member where thuh name came from. I hadn’t wanted tuh name him ‘David’. That would’a jus’ made him a replacement tuh thuh son I’d lost, which wouln’t honor neithuh of ‘em. But Donovan had a exotic sound tuh it. Something different. An' he was somethan’ different.
|21st Jul 2015, 5:38 PM||1.3 - Livin' Life #4|
Just a warning, this chapter is pretty image-heavy. So if your internet sucks (like mine), give it a minute to load.
1.3 – Livin' Life
Donny, he helped in a lot of ways, just by being thuhre. It still hurt, but not as much when I could hold Donovan in my arms. He was warm, real, alive. An' mine. I don’t know if I was sick, but after he was added tuh our family, I started feelin’ better. I got back to cookin' an’ cleanin’ an’ cannin' thuh stuff from Bernard’s garden. Yesser, I was feelin’ better an’ better!
Donny was such a oddball! Dark green skin, big black eyes, an' no hair at all! But he were smart, I could see that. He reminded me a’ Chloe. But where Chloe had been painfully shy (still is), Donny was so friendly! Always willing to play with anyone, even Medea, though she’d get impatient an' start throwing blocks ‘round. Everybody loved him! Tommy was a lil’ shy at first, mostly curious why Donovan looked so different. Chloe though…I think she picked up how smart Donny was. I’d catch her reading med’cal journals tuh him! Of all thuh things! Yesser, Donny helped our family, just by being him.
Donny…I ne’er had tuh worry ‘bout him. Always healthy an’ happy. A mama’s dream.
Lucy weren’t near as strong as Donny or Medea. When thuhy were born, thuh doctors warned us that she wouldn’t see her first birthday. I worried for a long time, but Lucy surprised us all! She’s a fighter! Thuh twins’ an’ Donny an’ Shaye’s firs’ birthdays passed wif’out a hitch. An’ then their secon’…an’ third..an’ fourth! An’ Lucy just got stronger! Still weak lookin’, and still a bit thin, but she’s still here. I ne’er lost her.
As toddlers, all four o’ em ran me ragged!
Shaye, mine an’ Bernard’s firs’, wuz so precious! She’s such a good kid, but so ditzy! She were ferevuh fergettin’ what she were doin’. I’d find her outside suckin’ her thumb an’ sittin' in a dirty diaper cuz she’d ferget where the potty chair wuz!
Donny, wit’ his cute, funny accent, I dunno where he got it, I hardly had tuh teach him tuh talk, nor walk.
Right after him, Lucy was easily taught as well, bit slower, but she had tuh rest often.
Then…there were my Medea. She were stubborn an' easily frustrated, a true hot-head. Her first word wuz ‘ball’. Dear lord! Wuz I ever happy when she said it! It took months!
It got so’s I couln't get much rest! Days spent carin’ fer toddlers an’ nights spent lengthenin’ jeans. I knew Tommy wuz gonna be tall, jus’ like his momma, but Chloe wuz growin’ like a weed! I sure am glad that thuh older kids were always happy tuh help out when I needed a nap.
It were near Shaye’s birfday that Bernard got that las’ pro’tion and became a “Creatyah-Robut Cross-breeduh’”!
An’ then straight on up tuh “Mad Scientist”!
He looked mighty fine in that uniform!
Every’un got a bit older…
…An’ we finished thuh house.
Bernard finally retired.
An’ I got a surprise! Susan was back on Earth! Hallelujah!
She couldn’t buhlieve her son, lil’ Tommy, had become 16! Last we all saw her, the twins an’ Donny weren’t even born! She’d been gone a long time…10 years! I’d missed her somethin’ fierce. We all had.
Through it all, Bernard stayed true tuh me an’ I tuh him.
It seems like it was jus’ yestuhday that we moved tuh Sunset Valley. An’ then, all’a sudden, I had teenagers tuh cope wit’ and a empteh house at lunch. Bernard an’ I had gotten old. He wuz still a looker though!
Wit’ thuh kids all in school an’ not runnin’ me ragged, it were easier fer me an’ Bernard tuh have some quiet time tuhgether.
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|21st Jul 2015, 5:51 PM||1.4 - I Was Young and So Were You #5|
1.4 – I Was Young an' so Were You
Ahhh, that were a mild winter. I tried tuh teach mah kids tuh skate. Only got Donny tuh. He humored his ol’ ma, such a good kid!
An’ thuh kids had so much fun in thuh snow! Oh, but it warmed mah ol’ heart! They’re all such gud kids! They made thuh most o’ that winter, full o’ snow days it were. Bernard worried that their school grades’d be affecked, but I wuz sure they’d be fine. They’re all bright kids, even Shaye! “Let’em be kids!” I’d say. At least fer a while yet.
That winter…I’ll ne’er ferget it. I may’ve gotten ol’ during it, a lil’ slower maybe but I wuz still hot-blooded! An’ so wuz mah Bernard! Now that the kids were out’a thuh house most days, I had Bernard all tuh mahself! Oh…so many nights staring up at thuh stars an’ cuddlin’ on thuh couch. I remembah how he used tuh suhprize me in thuh hall while I wuz doin' laundry. He’d grab me from behind an’ twirl me aroun’! We’d dance like no one wuz watchin’, jus’ us twirlin’ roun’ an’ roun’, laundry scattered on thuh floor. Up an’ down thuh hall, roun’ the livin’ room, thru thuh kitchen an’ straight on tuh thuh bedroom!
We wuz a real close-knit family, an’ that winter jus’ made us closer. Bernard wuz retired, so he could spen’ hours wif’ thuh kids: helpin’ wif' homework, talkin’ ‘bout fishin’ an’ computers. No fights, no school troubles, no worryin’ late nights at thuh lab. That winter wuz so perfect. Like a dream I’m tryin’ tuh hol’ on tuh fer when I wake up. An’ it jus’ seemed tuh get better e’ryday! Susan even said she planned tuh retire. I jus’ couldn’t buhlieve it!
Nevuh thought she’d give up her fancy space ship. But Susan said she wuz gittin’ old. We all were. An’ she wanted tuh spend more time wit’ thuh kids. After all, she’d missed ten years o’ her only son’s life. She said she dint want tuh miss anythang else. She gave her notice an’ wuz due tuh retire aftuh one more mission.
She ne’er made it home.
|23rd Jul 2015, 3:24 PM||1.5 – Mama's Bittersweet Memories #6|
1.5 – Mama's Bittah-Sweet Memories
Two years…that’s how long I had her back. Two years! Tommy’d been ready tuh graduate! He…he’s such a good kid. While I sit here wit’ mah scrapbooks, he an’ Chloe take care o’ thuh youn’uns. He ne’er deserved this…this heartbreak. None’n ‘em did. Not him…not me…
An’ now…an’ now Bernard’s gone too! At least he went peacefully, not in flames like mah poor sister. He was 59 years old, she 57.
An’ me? I’m feelin’ mah age finally. Nah, I’m feelin’ older. Bernard…he was mah everuhthang. What’s left when everuhthang’s gone?
I can’t look at Medea no more. Thuh bigger she gets…thuh more she looks like her Daddy. She’s got his eyes…his hair…his smile… An’ Donovan! Oh, Donny…it ain’t yer fault…more’un any’un, it’s Donny that makes me think a’ Bernard. After all…wifout Bernard, Donny ne’er would’a been in mah life.
As I stare down at these pi’tures…
…these memories I been storin’ up all these years…
…I jus’ feel so tired. I’m tired o’ the hurt! I…I weren’t ready fer him tuh go! Lord, I needed him! Like plants need sun an’ fish need watuh, I need him!
Life…life’s got no meanin’ wifout him in it.
Chloe graduated the Community School for the Gifted with Highest Honor and as Class Valedictorian. Her fellow classmates voted her ‘Most Likely to Take Over the World’.
Thomas graduated the Community School for the Gifted with Highest Honor. His fellow classmates voted him ‘Most Popular’.
|23rd Jul 2015, 3:45 PM||2.0 – And It's Just the Beginning... #7|
2.0 – And It's Just the Beginning...
Aunt Susan. Trapped in a fire trying to save the rest of her spaceship crew.
Daddy. Stroke as he donated money to a charity.
Within four months, they were all gone, one right after another. Aunt Susan, Daddy, Mom…all gone. Never coming back.
My name is Chloe Mayfield. I just graduated from the Sunset Valley High School. And I’m the head of this family now.
And so begins the second generation. If you want to know family member traits and stuff, here is a sort of Generation 1 Summary.
|28th Jul 2015, 4:51 PM||2.1 – Dreams and Real Life #8|
2.1 – Dreams and Real Life
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a World Renowned Surgeon. I don’t think that’s going to happen now. Thomas and I, we can just barely keep up with the bills as it is. There’s no way we can do that, take care of Shaye, Medea, Lucy and Donovan, and pay my pre-med tuition.
In some ways, I hate Mom for that. She was selfish, giving up on life when Daddy died. She’s left me with nothing! Because she was selfish, I have to give up my dreams!
Maybe I’m the selfish one. I just…I wanted to help people…like Daddy did…
All of us are hurting right now. Donovan blames himself, Medea blames herself, Lucy is confused, Shaye’s taken to living in the woods and Thomas thinks he has to be the strong, stoic man of the family. But I’m the oldest. Daddy always said my most important task was to look after all my younger brothers and sisters, even Thomas. I have to quit brooding and step up now.
After Daddy died, only a few weeks after Aunt Susan, Thomas and I started looking around for jobs. We were both still in school, but Thomas managed to get a part-time job at the bookstore. As for me…no one wanted to hire the ‘Mayfield Vampire’. I was that creepy kid who always hung around the graveyard, and in a town like Sunset Valley, that’s enough to get you black-listed for life.
But I found…other ways of acquiring money.
When I was a little kid, Daddy taught me how to do different things with the computer. I’m not proud to be using what he taught me to steal, because that’s what hacking is: stealing, but we need the money. I have no choice.
Now with Mom gone too, people are starting to just look the other way. After Aunt Susan and Daddy died, people would bring food over. They’d sit up with Mom and were there for her. Now that its just me and Thomas, things seemed to have changed. Now they’re remembering every rude comment Aunt Susan ever made, and every time Daddy never attended a party (always because he was working late, not out of some spite as they all seem to think).
I hate people. I really, truly hate people.
I shouldn’t complain though. Thomas usually takes care of those people. Everyone is instantly at ease around Thomas, and so much more willing to let things go with him. I haven’t met a person who could stay angry at him, not even Medea. He’s like Mom was: everyone’s friend.
I’m much happier sequestered away in the study, churning through piles of data. I probably wouldn’t have made a good doctor anyway. Doctors are people-people.
|28th Jul 2015, 4:56 PM||2.2 – It's Always Darkest Before Dawn #9|
2.2 – It's Always Darkest Before Dawn
I was down at the grocery store, buying the next week’s food (Daddy’s garden won’t carry us far since none of us know anything about gardening) when I overheard Dr. Wainwright talking with a colleague about some experiment that the lab was trying to repossess. The DNA-OD experiment. My heart stopped. I ducked behind the potatoes until they’d left.
I knew that phrase. I’d been almost six years old when Daddy brought home Donovan, but I’d never forget something like that. I overheard him talking to Mom the night before, talking about a cloning project he’d led at the Labs. A project to clone an alien DNA sample found out by Lucky Palms, a project called DNA-OD.
Could they do that? Repossess my brother?! I didn’t know. I had to find out!
It didn’t take long. In fact, the answer was waiting for me in the mailbox when I got home later that evening.
‘To Whom it May Concern:
Experiment DNA-OD (what you call Donovan) was lent to you family by Dr. Bernard Mayfield December 21st, thirteen years ago. Upon the doctor’s death, Experiment DNA-OD was expected to be returned to Landgraab Industries Laboratory. As that has not happened, matters have been raised to its immediate retrieval.
Dr. Bunch will visit you promptly June 15th at 3:00pm. She will collect Experiment DNA-OD and return it to the Landgraabs Industries Laboratory. Included is a packet containing certain legal articles and a release document requiring your signature.
Thank you for you cooperation,
Dr. Sabrina Funke, Creature-Robot Cross-Breeder’
The page crumpled in my fist. I was shaking. They couldn’t do this. They couldn’t do this! We’d already lost so many people in this family!
I jerked upright. Thomas was standing in the doorway, still in his pajamas, it being past midnight.
“Something’s wrong. What’s wrong?”
“The Labs…they’re sending someone over today…to take Donovan away. They own him! Legally, they own him! I’ve been looking for something, anything, to use against them! But I can’t find anything! And now they’re going to take him away!”
Thomas gently pulled me back down into the seat I hadn’t known I’d left. Then he slowly pried my hands from my hair and hugged my close. “Can I see the letter?”
I lifted up the balled paper.
“I see,” he said after a bit.
“There’s nothing we can do,” I whispered.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Thomas said calmly. He’s always been the calm one. He’s been my rock, ever since we were kids. My best friend.
“How so?” I snarled. “I can’t see how we’re going to get out of this! So if you have any suggestions, please, share!”
“We can leave. Middle of the night. Leave no trace. Never come back.”
A toilet flushed. Footsteps echoed up the hall. We both waited until the bed springs creaked.
“We don’t have the money for that!” I whispered furiously. “Everything’s still in Mom’s name since she never wrote a will!” And the men at City Hall had just sneered at me when I’d tried to challenge it. Mom, while just a homemaker, had been everyone’s friend. I was just her creepy, illegitimate daughter.
“We have our college funds.”
My heart stopped. Our college funds. Together, Thomas and I probably had around $20000. Was it enough? Food, clothing, a new house…maybe. It had to be. It was our only shot at keeping what was left of this family together. It had to be enough.
“Well, there was no way I’d afford med-school anyways,” I said with a grimace. I quirked an eyebrow at him.
A sharp bark of laughter was my answer. “Going to college was Mom’s and Aunt Ellie’s plan for me. All I’ve ever wanted is a new guitar and enough time to play it.” He shrugged. “And I can wait a bit for that. What’s important is keeping us all together and safe.”
I nodded. We were in agreement. We had a plan. All that was left was to pack.
Note: I've started updating my blog regularly again. Every Friday you can expect to see a new chapter there . Until this thread is caught up with my blog, I'll be updating here every Tuesday and Thursday, usually two chapters at once. Once we're caught up, it'll probably shift to Monday updates.
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|1st Aug 2015, 12:39 AM||2.3 – When the Going Gets Tough... #10|
Warning: A bit of language ahead, nothing major, but thought I'd give a head's up.
2.3 – When the Going Gets Tough...
We had to be long gone before noon. Otherwise those so-called “scientists” would be by at 3pm to pick up Donovan. Assholes.
We had to be quick.
Thomas packed some food for the trip while I woke the twins, Shaye and Donovan.
“Wh–” insert massive yawn. “Where’re we going?” Medea asked, still stretching.
“Well…” Think, Chloe, think! “Well, Thomas and I were thinking, we haven’t been on a weekend trip in a while and maybe its a good thing to do. You know, spend some family time together before school starts up again. Spur of the moment, I know, but…”
Lucy gave me one of her too-rare smiles. “I think that’s a good idea,” she said in her soft voice.
Donovan looked me up ad down. He’s a genius, just like me. There’s not much that gets past either of us. But he shrugged. “Well, if that’s what we’re doing, that’s what we’re doing.”
Thank you, I mouthed to him as he passed me into the hallway. He stared hard at me, then winked.
“Maaan,” Shaye mumbled, her blue eyes half-lidded and distant. “That’s such a great idea…getting back to nature ‘for the Man drags us back in chaaains.” She gave me a slow, lopsided smile.
I tried not to shudder. Chains…right.
Once everyone was up and getting dressed, I ran back to the study. “C’mon! Print faster you stupid thing!” I was tempted to kick the ancient computer, but I needed maps. I wasn’t sure where we were going, but I wasn’t going without proper directions.
“We’re packed,” Thomas whispered from behind me. “Shaye, Donny and Mead’s dressed. Just waiting on Lucy. I got enough food to last us a few days.
“Good.” I tapped my foot.. “God da–” ‘It’s taking too long! “Get everyone out to the van,” I gestured to Thomas, then grabbed my pda, an early graduation gift from Daddy. It was time…this was going to be hard.
I knew all about locating technology, heck, I’d used it several times to track Shaye down, frickin’ wild-child she is. I knew that all pdas could be traced, eventually, with enough time and patience. It was just something I couldn’t chance. I carefully laid the slim device in the desk drawer. It took all my will to close the drawer and turn to the printer. Daddy’d built it himself, just for me.
The printer was an old, ancient monster, but it seemed to take even longer than normal. After an eternity it was finally done. I grabbed the maps and shoved them into my backpack. One last thing. I tore into the computer, kicking and stomping until it was in pieces, particularly the hard-drive. Otherwise they might trace us! Am I paranoid? Probably!
Everything was in place, everyone out in the van waiting.
We left everything as it was: the beds unmade…
…the dishes from breakfast still on the table…
…the sprinklers still running in Daddy’s garden.
Daddy’s garden…I’d miss it. It was the last piece I had of him. Thomas wiped a tear from my cheek before the others could see. I started the van and drove down the hill, away from the only home any of us had ever known. A place full of memories. Good and bad, vivid and vague, sooo many memories. But it was time to move on.
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|1st Aug 2015, 12:53 AM||2.4 – ...the Mayfields Head to China? #11|
2.4 – …the Mayfields Head to China?
Is this right? I took another swig of burnt gas station coffee. Did we have any alternative? Anything at all? My mind kept going round and round, wondering if leaving the Valley really was what was best for the family. Was there really no other choice? The sun crested the mountains behind us as I drained Thomas’s cup. He snored softly in the seat next to me.
“Stop it Chloe,” Donovan whispered behind me. He unbuckled and leaned forward. “I can hear you thinking and it’s been bothering me all night.”
“Sorry,” I murmured. Donovan didn’t like reading minds. “Invading people’s privacy” he called it. But he didn’t really have a choice if people “screamed them out”.
“So, why’re you putting yourself through the Inquisition?”
“I just…I wonder if I jumped too soon,” I responded. “Was there some way I could have turned this all around? An alternative to making us all fugitives?”
“Maybe.” Donovan shrugged. And I saw it, that little flinch, liked I’d slapped him.
“It has nothing to do with you,” I whispered, feeling like an ass. “You’re my brother. I’d go to the ends of the earth for you.” My knuckles tightened on the wheel. Then I chuckled and waved him back. “I’m just being pedantic.”
“So…you don’t…regret anything?” Donovan asked.
“Absolutely not. Never think that! You’re my brother! I’d do the same for the twins or Thomas or Shaye. And it’ll probably happen again when some government wants to drag Shaye away for public indecency or something!”
He laughed and settled back down in his seat.
Did I regret my choice to run away rather than hand him over to Dr. Funke? NO! Never. I just wished I knew what I’d thrown us all into. We were officially on the run. From Landgraab Industries today, but maybe the entire Simica Government tomorrow! And I still had no idea what to do! I resisted the urge to smack the steering wheel. That wouldn’t help. It might just wake Thomas up and get him concerned too!
And I’ll swear to any deity you want that I heard my Mom then! Life don’t follow no recipe, sugah. An’ it don’t have no map neithuh! It’s a advenchah!
Not helpful, Mom, I thought, shaking my head. Even from beyond the grave, she was confusing.
“Hick–wha–what’d we hit!” Thomas jerked upright and spun in his seat, blinking rapidly.
“It’s all good!” I called back to everyone. “Just a pothole! A bad pothole.” I prayed Shaye wasn’t awake.
“Oh, good,” and Thomas dropped back into sleep.
“Dammit,” I muttered, trying with one hand to shove papers back into the glove box that had popped open while keeping my eyes on the road. “Thomas! Thomas? Crap.”
“I got it!” Donovan called, unbuckling again.
“Get back in your seat!”
“Thomas and…Donovan…stupid hedgehogs!” I continued to grumble, trying to close the overstuffed compartment. I’d barely closed it when it popped open again. “Oh, for Euclid’s sake!” I grabbed the bundle before it could hit the floor, then swerved back onto the road.
“I could hel–”
“No! You stay buckled!” I sat back up and straightened out the van. “With the way I’m driving,” I muttered to myself before glancing down at the troublesome papers.
Receipts, old napkins, and a fold-out map of…China? Not a map to China, but of China. Why would we have a map of China? And I heard in my head, Life’s a advenchah, sugah!
“Hmmm…hey Donovan, you want to go to China?”
“So…why’re we going to China?” I asked glancing over at Chloe.
“Because I decided.”
“Decided what?” She’s always been this way. She’s really smart but kinda dumb too. She’s so smart she doesn’t even notice and just thinks everyone thinks at the same rate she does. It made for an interesting childhood.
“Because I decided to go to China,” she responded, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. She went back to studying the map.
“But why?!” I ran my hand through my hair. “I’m tired Chloe. We’ve been driving nonstop for six days. Why China?”
“Because it’s the farthest country out of Simica. Because it’s the easiest to get into since only we have passports. Because it’s a country that Landgraab Industries doesn’t have a base in, and because I can speak Chinese. Need I continue?”
“No, no, I get it.” It was Chloe again, thinking five steps ahead of the rest of us.
“Take the next exit.”
“Got it…when’d you learn Chinese?!”
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|4th Aug 2015, 3:41 PM||2.5 – The Great Wall #12|
WARNING: There's some mild language in this chapter, like your uncle stubbing his toe and cussing. Just thought to mention in case it offends someone.
2.5 – The Great Wall
It took a few weeks of driving, another week on various dusty trains, and several nasty conversations with border control, but we made it. We were in China!
“We’re staying at Héhuā de fángzi,” I told Thomas, him being the only one still awake this late.
“Sounds fancy,” he muttered. “Can we afford it?”
“Thomas, it’s just a boarding house.” I snickered. “And you said my ballet lessons would never be useful.”
He sighed. “Chloe, not everyone can pick up a language just from listening to their dance instructor curse.” He shook his head.
“We’re here!” Donovan cried, surprising us both. “Shang Simla!”
Shang Simla was a small farming village tucked between large, green mountains and the Great Wall. It was known for its sake and the local martial arts academy. Otherwise, it was quiet and the people kept to themselves. Perfect.
We arrived early in the morning, before 8am, a time when Sunset Valley would be desolate. Shang Simla was positively bustling!
It didn’t take us long to find the boarding house. It was massive!
“It’s huge,” Thomas muttered, staring up at the ancient building. “We could get lost in there!”
“My thoughts exactly,” I replied, smiling. Perfect.
“Nah,” Donovan piped up. “It’s just that it’s on top of a mountain. I bet it’s real cozy!” He sprinted up the steps, Medea close behind him.
The rest of us followed more sedately…some more than others. “Get a move on, Shaye! All the beds’ll be taken by the time you get up here!”
We didn’t have much with us. Some books, a change of clothes for each of us, and miscellaneous sentimental objects. Needless to say, unpacking didn’t take long.
“What we need now is to blend in,” I murmured to Thomas as he surveyed the contents of the house fridge.
I stopped and stared at her. “Chloe, we have two pasty blondes, a couple of tanned redheads and a green alien.” Hardly asian material.
She continued to stare at me, her head cocked at an infuriating angle.
I sighed and admitted defeat, pinching the bridge of my nose. “Take the girls to scout out locals. I’ll take Donovan and scrounge up some suitable clothing.”
Chloe brightened and ran out of the kitchen.
“And cut your damn curls!” I called after her.
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|4th Aug 2015, 3:50 PM||2.6 – Explorers and Dead Bugs #13|
WARNING: Mild language.
2.6 – Explorers and Dead Bugs
For those first two days, I kept to the room I shared with Thomas. I read the few books left by previous tenants and quickly grew bored. Luckily, Thomas soon found us appropriate attire. He came back from the market place one afternoon lugging an armful of colorful silks.
“Oh my gosh!” Lucy squealed.
“That was my ear,” Medea hollered back. She grabbed an armful of green and stomped off to the room she shared with Lucy and Shaye. Shaye had been getting on her nerves lately, apparently.
“That’s for the girls. There wasn’t much in your…umm…size,” Thomas said handing me a bundle of white fabric. “That explorer lady, Bion, helped me, you, and Donovan out.”
“Oh,” I tried not to be disappointed. It wasn’t logical. But I’d always admired the asian fashion. “Very well.” I took the white top and pants and went to change. I turned and squealed, dropping my bundle.
“Ta da!” Donovan bounded into the room. He struck a pose in his borrowed clothing. “I am now an actual explorer! How awesome is this?!"
“Oh, Donovan,” I muttered. “You’re too excitable.”
“Nothing!” Thomas answered brightly, ramming his hands into his pockets. Donovan stood beside him, looking confused.
“Okay?” I left for my room, shaking my head.
I watched Chloe leave, then whirled on Donovan. “Whatever you do, don’t tell Chloe about the tombs,” I hissed.
“Why not?” he whined.
Typical thirteen-year-old, I thought. He might be a genius, but he doesn’t think! “Because she’ll worry!” And when Chloe worried, she researched to calm her mind…and sometimes developed new weapons of war.
Since I was eight, I’ve been hiding the remnants of her hobbies from our trio of parents. I dismantled the reloading and sound-barrier breaking potato gun, disposed of the bone collection from the catacombs she was studying, and destroyed the robotic rabbit that periodically exploded and rebuilt itself. I really, really didn’t want to have to continue that in China, where the people were a hell of a lot more perceptive than in Sunset Valley.
“You don’t want Chloe to worry, do you?” I appealed, trying to sound less manic and more like a caring brother just looking after his sister’s mental health.
“No,” Donovan answered dutifully, but he actually sounded sincere, so I let him go.
At the front door, he turned back. “I’ll make sure she doesn’t worry,” he said solemnly, holding the door handle. “I’ll be very safe.”
I nodded. “Just don’t tell her and everything will be fine.” I hope. Donovan left, probably to check around town for adventures.
“I feel so pretty,” Lucy breathed, twirling into the common room. She’d even done up her hair differently. Medea scowled from behind her, but she was dressed as well.
“Looks like everything fits,” I acknowledged. “You two clean up nice.”
Lucy beamed. Even Medea gave a little smile, fingering her new green vest. “Where’s Shaye?”
The smiles dropped. Medea opened her mouth, but Lucy beat her to it. “She won’t wear it. She keeps saying that silk is from dead bugs.”
I sighed. Shaye displayed her animal-loving tendencies in odd ways. She ate eggs and most meats, but couldn’t stand leather, milk or, apparently, silk. “I’ll talk to her.” I sighed again. Lucy gave me a sympathetic look.
The next chapter will be up this thursday, and then we'll switch over to an update every Monday.
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|6th Aug 2015, 3:53 PM||2.7 – Adventure! #14|
2.7 – Adventure!
“I took your advice,” I said as I entered the kitchen. Thomas was flipping pancakes. He’d finally progressed past burning things beyond all recognition.
“I cut my hair.” I fingered a curl by my ear. It had been a hard thing to do, but necessary to save money. I’ve been growing my hair out since I was nine. Mom always said how she loved my curls, how they made me unique, since neither she nor Daddy had had curls. And Aunt Susan’s hair had been as straight as Pythagoras’s lines. Mom said I took after her mother.
Thomas turned around, a plate stacked high with breakfast in one hand. He looked at me critically, then nodded. I let out the breath I hadn’t even noticed I’d been holding. If Thomas thought I looked fine, it was fine.
“I’m heading out to the market,” I told him.
“Really?” He looked surprised.
I nodded. “I’m out of reading material.”
He chuckled and nodded. “I’ll see you later, then,” and he dug into his only slightly crispy breakfast.
Outside the air was crisp and clean. Somehow it was easier to breathe in Shang Simla than back in the Valley. I considered this. I wasn’t sure if it was due to the emotional responsibilities and consequences I’d left behind there or the lack of industrial pollution in this part of China.
It was a long walk to the market, but enjoyable. It was a cool spring day, and I spotted a few dragonflies zipping over the stream beside the path. There were colorful birds high in the trees and interesting beetles scurrying along the ground. Everything was beautiful and peaceful. I felt a smile slip onto my face and a spring enter my step.
The market was a bit disappointing. The only merchant selling books didn’t have much beyond fiction.
Still, I found a few fishing manuals and a chinese cookbook and made my way home.
I heard nothing, absolutely nothing, and Donovan skidded into the room.
He looked around and his grin dipped. “Where’s Chloe?” the excited teen asked.
“You just missed her,” I replied, carefully setting my plate in the sink. “What’s up?”
The grin reappeared on his face. “I found ancient scrolls!” He drug me into the dining room and plopped his bag on the table. It smelled of dry dust and…soot?
“What have you been doing?”
“Well–” he began, opening the bag. A plume of smoke puffed from it.
“No, wait, I don’t want to know!”
“Oh…anyway! I found ancient scrolls!” He laid them on the table, still babbling. “They feature some ancient recipes for making fireworks!”
“Wait, you can speak Chinese too? When did this happen?!”
Donovan gave me a look, one, until this point, I’d only seen on Chloe. “Chloe’s been teaching me.”
I began to panic. Oh God, not the bunnies!
Donovan scrambled in his bag and pulled out some charcoal rubbings. “Don’t worry. I’ve been telling her I’ve been sight-seeing the ancient landmarks around town and finding cool glyphs. She’s been happy to translate them for me and has been teaching me some on the side.”
I calmed down.
“She helped translate the last riddle in the last tomb and I found these in there.” He gestured to the scrolls. “And I know she’s already read through everything else in here, so I thought she’d like something new.” He beamed up at me innocently.
“Okay,” I said slowly. I couldn’t see anything immediately wrong. Donovan meant well, obviously. But where he and Chloe were concerned, the whole world should fear their well-meaning. That was how that damn rabbit had been born. I shuddered.
“Fine, just…a bit chilled.” I stood up. “Chloe should be back this evening, if you want to stick around.” I brightened. “I made pancakes. They might be a bit cold, though.”
Donovan raised an eyebrow. “You did?” He glanced at the counter warily.
“And they’re fine,” I barked.
“Sure,” and he went to the fridge.
“Fine, fine, don’t eat my cooking!” I threw my hands in the air.
“Woo!” Medea entered the kitchen. “Donny’s back! We can eat tonight!” More cheering sounded down the hall.
“So,” Donovan began, as Medea and I sat down at the table. My cooking was okay, but Donovan’s was way better, even if it took longer. “Guess what I did today.”
“What?” Medea asked warily.
Donovan grinned over his shoulder as he tossed seemingly random things into a wok. “I visited,” he paused, the Drama King. “The Dragon’s Maw!”
Medea gasped. Clearly she had heard about this place, though I didn’t know how. Shaye and Lucy wandered in, both curious.
“It’s a tomb!” Donovan continued, grinning.
And while he made a late lunch, Donvaon told us tales of hidden doors and ancient locks…
…fire traps and dead king’s coffins…
…water wells you entered in one room and came out in a completely different room…
…uncovering forgotten treasures…
…and ancient secrets.
Thanks for reading! See you next Monday! ^_^
|11th Aug 2015, 6:15 AM||2.8 – Medea's Secret #15|
2.8 – Medea's Secret
I wandered through the house, listening. Nothing, not a sound. To say I was confused would have been a drastic understatement.
Click. My head swiveled towards the sound. “Hello?” I headed into the common room.
Lucy looked up. “Oh, hi Chloe,” she murmured and smiled at me.
“Hey, where is everybody?”
She considered this. “Well, Shaye and Thomas went out to the market a little bit ago and Donovan left for town a bit after them. And…Medea…I think she left early this morning, before everyone else.” Her smile dipped. “Is everything okay?”
“Hmm? Oh, no–erhm yes! Everything’s fine! I was just wondering.” I wandered to the back porch. Behind me, there was a soft click.
Everyone’s outside. I leaned on the railing, thinking. Thomas would be going to that old fisherman. He’d gotten a job playing his guitar outside the old man’s shop and it was helping to pay our room and board. Shaye’ll take any excuse to be outside, so she probably went with him. Donovan…Donovan…he might be at the Hot Springs. He said something about checking out the glyphs there last night. That left Medea.
And that was where my brain was seizing up. Medea wasn’t like Shaye or Lucy or Donovan. She didn’t see natural beauty in the forests, she hated the mosquitos and the lack of proper transportation. She didn’t believe in getting to know a stranger just for meeting them and seeing their perspective, if they didn’t have similar interests as her, she wanted nothing to do with them In the last few months, she’d made an enemy of nearly every other explorer in the boarding house.
Medea hated the people of Shang Simla almost as much as she hated their lack of cars. They were a quiet, peaceful people. Medea was loud and…opinionated. And those opinions hadn’t found any fellow thinkers since we first arrived in China.
So where could she have gone? I pondered.
I sighed and went back inside. There was another translation waiting for me.
It carried on for a few more days. Thomas left the house every morning at 7am. With him, when she could drag herself out of bed, went Shaye. Donovan made breakfast at 8 and left for some ancient temple or some such soon after. Lucy went back to her watercolors and I to my translations.
And no one would see Medea. Finally, I’d had enough.
“That might be good,” I muttered, stepping back. I heard a half-choked gurgle behind me.
“Hmmm?” I tapped my chin. I might have to rebalance the third quadrant–
“What are you doing?”
I looked up. Thomas was standing beside me, his eyes wide and flickering from me to my project and back.
“What? Oh, this? This is just an ancient pulley system that I’m testing out.” I waved my hands vaguely. I’d seen some diagrams in a scroll and improved upon the idea from there. Thomas didn’t need to know that the diagrams had depicted an ancient tomb trap. “I’m setting this up so I can better visualize it.”
I stared critically at my work.
“Does it have to be right outside the girls’ room?”
I contemplated this. “Yes.”
It was just before dawn when my alarm went off. I’d prepared myself with several cups of oolong tea and a particularly nasty scroll. The near-invisible fishing line pulled my light out.
I waited several minutes, listening hard. There! A slight rustling from upstairs, like someone getting dressed. The sound of a door being eased gently open. And the squeak of the hinges I’d attended to last night after everyone was asleep. Silence. The silence of someone listening very carefully and praying no one had heard that. I smirked.
Finally, someone upstairs treaded softly down the steps. I frowned. Normally Medea tromped like an elephant everywhere she went. No one wore shoes in the house, of course, but still. It was Medea, car enthusiast and elephant! I heard the last squeaky step, and then silence again. Then the soft padding of bare feet across the wooden floor. A small thump and then running that faded away.
I ran out of my room and down the hall to the window facing the front porch. I caught sight of a flash of green as Medea vaulted over the railing and down the mountain. I blinked twice. Then scrambled out the open window after her.
I’d always prided myself on being fast and light on my feet. I’d needed to be, between schoolyard bullies and Mom’s catlike ears. But Medea was outdistancing me easily. She was quite athletic, of course, but still.
I skirted through some bamboo and stopped to rest and think. At my outcropping I could see her course.
Their first day in Shang Simla, Medea had escorted Shaye to the Scholar’s Garden. She’d heard it was some kind of beautified wilderness or something. And it had been one of Thomas’s early rules: Nobody traveled anywhere alone.
Anyway, Medea had lounged about, bored out of her skull while Shaye ran amuck staring at the insects. She’d glanced down the mountain and seen the Phoenix Martial Arts Academy. What’s more, she saw the current Master training a student. And she’d been fascinated.
She’d watched for a time while Shaye stared at the sun through a telescope.
Then she’d wandered over to the training dummy in the corner and made some attempts to copy the student. They were less than perfect.
But Medea persevered.
Each day, earlier and earlier, she went back to the Garden, peered over the wall and studied the students and their master. And she learned. She got to the point where she could break oak boards in half with one swift jab. Then, one student levitated off the ground. Medea stared. Human’s didn’t fly! They couldn’t! Except in airplanes! She’d questioned Chloe, her scientific sister, extensively about it the next day. Chloe agreed, humans couldn’t fly. But the next morning, Medea watched as another student floated off the ground, a look of serene calm on his face. She glared at the training dummy. She’d come this far. Nothing was going to stop her from mastering the skill. She marched down to the Academy and asked the old Master how people could fly.
He’d laughed. “It form of meditation,” he told her, his accent thick. “Only complete calm of mind and body, you can achieve.” Behind him, the student sighed, a soft smile on his face. “You must master Dancing Wind before you attempt,” and he gestured her towards the beginning class, six children, ages five to seven.
Medea glared at him and stomped out. What was Dancing Wind? She didn’t know the names of any of the forms. She didn’t even know the name of the art she studied! But that wouldn’t stop her. She’d made it this far on her own. She’d finish this on her OWN!
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|17th Aug 2015, 9:12 PM||2.9 – A Year in China #16|
2.9 – A Year in China
Spring bloomed into Summer, and Summer faded into Autumn. Though you couldn’t tell just from glancing out the window. Shang Simla remained, for the most part, green, but there was a bite in the air that hadn’t been there before. And it rained all the time.
Even with the rain, it’s so peaceful here, I thought, gazing out the window at the countryside.
I was taking a moment for myself. For the past four months I had been decrypting an ancient code Donovan had found. He’d been so ecstatic when he’d found it. Supposedly it would lead to some warlord’s forgotten treasure. I’d finally finished it this morning. It had been a pain, since I’d never seen the entire manuscript, just bits and pieces. Journal entries, mostly. Very difficult and time-consuming for me, but whatever Donovan was doing, the elders were paying him nicely. Between him and Thomas, I hadn’t had to resort to hacking for over a year. They’d kept the rent paid and all of us happily fed.
It had been a good year. Donovan had had such fun running about the countryside, especially when we’d all agreed the buddy rule was unnecessary. Donovan was more alive than I’d ever seen him. The way he told the explorer’s tales, full of drama and intrigue, like they were his own.
Shaye’s bug collect had grown…extensively.
Lucy and I had enjoyed the house. It was very open and airy, and we both agreed that the scent from the chinese maples was exquisite. Often, Lucy and I were the only ones left in the house during the day. She and I would often read together or chat, something we hadn’t done before. Possibly because of our age gap. She was undoubtably intelligent, not a genius, like Donovan or I, but she saw things that others would miss. She was normally quiet, not because she had nothing to say, but because she was in deep contemplation. Our conversations were fascinating.
Medea’s skill at martial arts had grown. And she had as well. I gave up spying on her a long while ago, but I’d still seen the change. She was happier, less angry. She’d made some friends and seemed to find her place. She’d still never joined the Academy proper. She was still Medea, still stubborn, and would happily rage at the explorers for hours at a time. But she and Shaye had grown closer. She’d seemed to find that inner peace Shaye was always talking about.
And if Medea and Shaye had grown closer, Lucy and Medea had become inseparable. They’ve always got along, but now it seems they’ve become best friends.
Living in China has changed us all. Even me. I’ve felt calmer. Less in control, but happier with that. It’s like I left a part of me behind when I came here, a part I no longer needed. The Elders would say I’ve grown.
I gazed out over the still countryside and shook my head. It’s not fair, I thought angrily. We’d finally been able to rest, to relax, to live! Donovan was more alive than I’d ever seen him. And China had had such an amazingly good affect on Medea! We were happy!
I’d let down my guard. Allowed myself to think we could settle down again. Just move countries and all would be fine. But no. It’s not fair!
I took a deep breath and sighed it out. This won’t be easy, I thought, glancing back into the common room.
Thomas was playing. Donovan was spinning around the room. Shaye and Lucy were dancing together. Even Medea was swaying a bit. But it needs to happen. I won’t let them take Donovan. I won’t let this family break apart.
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|25th Aug 2015, 5:46 AM||2.10 – Welcome to Al Simhara, Land of Sand and Crocodiles! #17|
2.10 – Welcome to Al Simhara, Land of Sand and Crocodiles!
It's technically still Monday! >.>
“Another year, another country,” Thomas muttered in the passenger seat.
“Please don’t,” I murmured.
“I’m sorry.” He ran a hand over his face. “I know why, but…”
“I know.” I stared fixedly at the road. “Trust me, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. I was just as comfortable as you guys. Probably even more.”
We fell into silence as I drove through the night. Memories of the last moonlight run flitted across my mind. They weren’t happy memories.
“Medea won’t be happy,” Thomas muttered finally.
I winced. No, I imagine not. The first time, when we’d left the Valley, I’d told her we were going camping. After the first week on the road she’d gotten suspicious. When she’d found out we were never coming back…there had been rage. Now…well, she hadn’t said a word for four days.
Donovan had been sad, and scared, though he’d tried not to show it. He’d packed his bags dutifully and knocked Shaye out for me. Lucy had cried.
We made it into Egypt with little fanfare. The town we found ourselves in was one suggested to me by one of Donovan’s explorer friends. It was called Al Simhara, and it was hot as hell.
There was no boarding house, no inn, no motel, nothing like that at all. There was a large, community camp site. And it was bring-your-own-tent.
“Oh, yes,” Medea began, staring at the barren earth. “Let’s leave China to come to some barren wasteland in the innermost circle of Hell!” She stomped away.
Deep breath, in…and out. Thomas made to put his hand on my shoulder, but I shrugged him off. A week in the car with the same people was too much, and I suddenly felt a desperate need to be alone. Nothing I do is ever right…
I watched the two sisters stomp away in opposite directions and knew it was going to be a long stay. I sighed.
Donovan might have left some adventures behind in Shang Simla. And the girls had left their hobbies. But Chloe’d left her peace of mind. She was on edge again. And I wasn’t quite sure what she would do next.
I shook my head and asked a local where the market was. After a good fifteen minutes of miscommunication, I flagged a passing explorer and got my directions.
“Hey, kids!” I called. Four tired faces turned towards me from different sides of the camp site. “I’m heading to the market for a change of clothes. Anyone wanna come with?”
Lucy brightened up. Her favorite part of Shang Simla, besides the watercolor paintings, had been the clothing. Medea scowled and stomped away, probably to terrorize some poor explorer.
“I’ll stay here with Mead,” Shaye volunteered. Donovan suddenly looked a lot happier…and a bit relieved.
“Great!” he grinned. “Then I’m off for–”
“The Buddy Rule’s back,” I interrupted. Donovan opened his mouth, probably to argue. “Especially for you!” He deflated.
“I guess I’ll go to the market,” he muttered.
“Then get a move on!”
A few hours of frustrating haggling and miscommunication (where’s Chloe when I need her?!) later, we had a change of clothes for the girls. Donovan and I were keeping our explorer duds and Chloe…well, when a girl’s a double D, she’s got no alternative.
“Hey, Luce–” I stopped and looked around. I could see Donovan having a suspicious conversation in the corner. And Shaye and Medea had shown up, Shaye talking to a farmer while Medea scowled into a basket.
But I couldn’t see Lucy. It’s okay, I thought, trying to calm myself. She’s probably checking out those colorful tiles outside the bazaar again. I paid the book merchant and headed for the gate.
“Oh my gosh! Thank you so much!”
I turned and saw Chloe and Lucy in one of the bazaar’s open shops. Thank god! I jogged towards them.
Chloe shrugged. “You’ve always been interested in photography, so I thought an actual camera might give you something…to focus on.” She looked at the ground and scuffed her worn shoe.
Lucy beamed up at Chloe and hugged her. Then she ran past me, out of the shop, waving ecstatically as she did.
“Stay with Donovan,” I called after her. That’ll keep Donovan out of trouble.
With Shaye keeping Medea in line, and Donovan keeping Lucy, and by extension himself, safe, I turned to my last sibling, and the one I worried the most about. “What’s up?” I asked casually.
Chloe shrugged and looked away, but I could see that some of the tenseness was gone from her shoulders. And her freckles didn’t stand out so much.
I reached over and pulled a curl.
“Hey!” came to indignant squeak. But she was smiling.
I laughed and pulled her into a bear hug. She squealed and struggled, but half-heartedly. I gave a big squeeze and let her go. Her smile was exasperated, but her eyes were bright.
“So, what’s on the agenda?”
I leaned against the adobe wall and thought about it. “Well,” I began, glancing around. “Don’t expect to see Donovan or Lucy for a while. Lucy’s probably dragging him to those pyramids right now.”
Chloe grinned. “I thought she would. And together they’ll stay out of serious trouble.”
“And Shaye wanted to get a closer look at the farming methods here. And,” I scratched my head. “I know Medea left with her. They had a basket with them. Maybe to collect plants?” I shrugged. “You?”
“There’s a project from China I still need to finish.” She cocked her head to the side. “What about you?”
“Me?” I grinned. “I’m going crocodile hunting!”
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|31st Aug 2015, 6:14 PM||2.11 – It Could Be Nothing... #18|
2.11 – It Could Be Nothing...
It was late at night…or early in the morning, depending on your perspective. Everyone was asleep in their tents. Except for me, that is.
I was putting the finishing touches on a project I’d started in Shang Simla. I wasn’t kept entirely busy with ancient translations and the inner workings of nasty traps. I’d had some free time every now and then. Enough to grow bored. I’d started building my own computer. Shang Simla was pretty limited on electronics, but enough explorers broke phones and such that I was never wanting for parts.
And now, it was almost complete. I decided to try a test run.
Not as fast as I was hoping. And there seemed to be a memory leak somewhere, but I’d deal with that later. For now, I had a working computer for the first time in over a 16 months. It was heaven! I started writing worms. Landgraab Labs will never catch me off-guard again.
“And where are you two off to?”
Donovan turned around, ‘guilty’ written all over his face. Lucy smirked up at me.
“The pyramids,” she said sweetly. “I got a few shots in yesterday, but I haven’t got any interior photos. And I want a black and white sarcophagus shot!” She smiled softly and tucked a lock of sandy brown hair behind her ear. To say ‘no’ was to kick a puppy.
“Fine,” I said. “But be back by sunset!” They ran out of camp, giggling the whole way.
“You’re such a push-over,” Chloe muttered, staring after them.
I shrugged. “Lucy’s a careful kid and they’re both smart. They’ll be fine.”
I started thinking about the fishing trip I had planned for later that afternoon. I still need to figure out that net thing. Egyptian fishermen didn’t use fishing rods, but a net strung between two poles. I’d been struggling with it for almost a week now.
“I need to talk to you,” Chloe whispered beside me.
My heart seized up. “About what?” I asked, as casually as I could, keeping the squeak to a minimum.
She cocked her head to the side and considered me. I started to fidget. “What?”
She shook her head. “Nothing important,” and she walked away, hands in her pockets.
“God, she’s annoying.” It could have been a thought from my own head, except for the voice.
“She’s got a lot on her mind,” I told Medea. Maybe this time I can bring her around.
“Yeah, and she doesn’t share it with anyone! She just expects us to go along with whatever she says without any explanation whatsoever! I hate it! I hate her! I hate life!”
I didn’t have anything to say to that. It was something I’d always thought about Chloe. Hearing it said out loud though…I felt really guilty all of a sudden. “Chloe’s…” I groped for a suitable word. None came to mind. “…complicated.”
“But she doesn’t have to be!” The teenager in front of me seemed hellbent on staying angry. She stomped her foot for emphasis.
I shrugged. “And you don’t have to be angry.” Confusion overtook Medea’s face. “But some things can’t be helped,” I continued quickly, knowing an opportunity when I saw one. “We all are the way we are. And there’s no changing that…at least, not easily. Chloe’s got her reasons and a method to her madness. You’ll just have to wait and be patient with the rest of us.”
Medea looked up at me, lips pursed. Then she turned, walked over to the nearest wall and kicked it. But at least she didn’t scream and immediately tackle the nearest adventurer. It’s progress…if only I could make some with Chloe.
I’m…confused. I wandered to the back of the campsite. I was tired, but I couldn’t sleep. Last night’s discovery weighed heavily on my mind. And I can’t tell Thomas...he’s finally starting to relax again. I bit my thumb, thinking. What now? MorcuCorp…It could be something…it could be nothing. Just because a business was greatly invested in Landgraab Labs didn’t necessarily imply that it was evil. “Why did it have to be here?”
“Damn!” I kicked a handy palm tree and immediately regretted it. I leaned against it and sighed. I’ll keep a close eye on all transactions. If anything suspicious pops up, I’ll act. When, and if, that happened…until then, I’d have to keep quiet and watch. I sighed again and rubbed my ankle. I could see the sleepless nights stretching ahead of me.
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|10th Sep 2015, 5:42 PM||2.12 – …It Could Be Something #19|
2.12 – …It Could Be Something
Hi! *waves frantically* ^_^ I'm glad you're here! Sorry this is a bit past the expected date, but I actually forgot I was listing the Mayfields here. Life's been a bit crazier than usual. My bad.
But thanks for being here! ^_^
“And then the whole boat shook and…”
I blinked rapidly, resisting the urge to rub my eyes and yawn. Instead I nodded and smiled while Thomas spoke. I couldn’t remember the topic. Something about fishing.
“…and then this monster of a…”
I need coffee…I’d spent the last few weeks staying up late. As far as my family knew, I was just getting up early. To look for rare metals and gems, a hobby I’d picked up soon after we moved to Egypt. I’d grab a bowl of cereal at 7am, chat with Thomas over breakfast, then head out to this little oasis I’d found and nap.
“Chloe? Are you even listening to me?”
“That sounds exciting!” I blinked rapidly, trying desperately to regain my focus and not yawn. In front of me, Thomas sighed.
“So, what’re you working on that’s got you up so late?”
I blinked. Of course… If anyone would notice, it had to be Thomas. “Nothing really,” I waved a hand vaguely while using the other to stifle a yawn. “Just a minor project left over from China. I hate to leave it unfinished.” I avoided Thomas’s brown gaze and looked up at the sun. “I have to get going. I’ll be late, so don’t wait up!” And I ran out of camp. I had a sleeping bag to find.
I didn’t trust those rickety scooters the locals rented to tourists. So after taking the slightly less rickety bus out of Al Simhara and across the river, I walked. It wasn’t that bad, it still being too early to really get hot, and my tiny camp site wasn’t too far. An hour’s walk, maybe two. I could deal.
Egypt really was beautiful. Not as green and vibrant as China, but beautiful, in its own way. A dangerous kind of way. I liked it.
Cacti are remarkable, I marveled. They protected themselves with spines, some laced with poisons, while beckoning with large, brightly colored flowers, the only color for miles of blank, beige canvas. They were also an ingenious storage for water, holding liters at a time, in order to last between sparse rains. I bent over to admire a particularly bright flower.
As I ran my fingers over the petals, I wondered if this was one of the poisonous kind. Probably not. The spines were long and large enough to deter most animals. No doubt, poisonous ones had much shorter spines, more delicate to break off and stick in the animal. At least, that’s what I presumed.
I broke off a pad and resumed my walk, meticulously pulling the needles out. A cactus pad was a good source of water when chewed, particularly when one had forgotten one’s canteen back at camp.
I walked for a while, sliding down dunes to conserve energy. Periodically, I would pluck another cactus pad and de-spine it as I walked. Not only was it good for water, but Donovan could make fantastic dinners with cactus pad. Delicious.
I don’t recall exactly how far I walked, or in what direction. But the sun was high in the sky when I stopped walking and actually took a look around. I didn’t recognize this area. The dunes were craggily, more solid and there were boulders in the distance. Perhaps a higher elevation…? And is the temperature increasing? I rubbed my eyes. I was so tired.
Perhaps if I had been more rested, I would have done things differently, or, at least, more sensibly. As it was, I simply plopped down onto the ground and passed out.
Something’s up. I watched Chloe run out of camp, wobbling slightly, she was so sleep-deprived. I took a sip of my chilled tea and nodded to Lucy, the other early riser.
Normally, whenever asked about her latest project, you had to use duck tape to get Chloe to shut up again. Not even a code name this time…That just wasn’t right.
It could be nothing…it could be something… I shook my head. No, I knew Chloe. I knew her. Something was definitely wrong and I had to find out what.
“Hey, Donovan,” I called, rummaging in my tent for my satchel and canteen. “I’m heading out for a bit. Stay at camp.” I thought for a moment. “And Shaye’s in charge.”
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|21st Sep 2015, 6:15 PM||2.13 - Under the Desert Sun #20|
Sorry this is late, life's been trying to drown me in homework. :P
WARNING: Mild language, dead-ahead!
2.13 - Under the Desert Sun
After the first twenty minutes, I grew worried. After the first hour, I was panicked. As the sun rose higher and higher in the sky, so did my heart into my throat. Where is she?!
I was no stranger to tracking down Chloe. Hell, I’ve been doing it since we were eight! But never in the desert. The terrain was totally different from the green mountains of the Valley, always muddy from rain, with foot prints clearly visible to anyone bothering to look.
I kept walking, scouring the dunes for any sign of my wayward sister. And each minute that ticked by, was another I could lose her forever. Why didn’t I pay closer attention to her?!
“Damnit, Chloe!” She’s supposed to be the smart one! As soon as I thought it, an old voice rose from the depths of my memory.
“Genius isn’t the same as intelligent, Thomas. Chloe’s smart, but she doesn’t always have good sense. That’s where you come in.”
Dad. He’d gotten it. After every school assignment that differed by letter grades, after every mechanical monster I’d found under my bed, he’d give me a warm glass of milk and explain gently that Chloe was different. That she didn’t always think in the same ways as other people. (Try never, Dad!) And that she’d need someone to look after her. So I cleaned up soot-covered sheets and chased off bullies twice my size. Because, while Chloe was damn smart, sometimes she didn’t think before she started something. She needed me to make sure nothing bad happened. To her or anyone else.
“I fucked up this time, Dad…and I don’t know if I can fix it.”
The desert sun beat down on me, but I didn’t feel it. It was nothing more than a dull orange ball above me, after all. Irrelevant. Inconsequential to the space my mind currently occupied. This fantastic state of mind in which I thought faster than ever before. Puzzles were solved and mysteries became clear. I understood everything. Edges and vertices stretched into infinity around me. And I was connecting more.
Donovan. An alien clone born of my father’s intellect.
MorcuCorp. A company dealing in ancient relics with a dubious method of acquisition.
The two were connected. How? I didn’t bother questioning, merely following the brilliant trails flashing across my brain.
Donovan had mentioned MorcuCorp, recently, in fact. There were several locals vocally against the company. More than a few. Egypt in general was fed up with them. Stealing their culture, they said.
Mena Lufti was particularly against MorcuCorp.
She’d hired Donovan to get dirt on the company, because he wasn’t a local and thus more trust-worthy in the company’s eyes. There is no dirt.
She was right on one thing: MorcuCorp was after more than relics. Or rather, certain relics that held more than monetary value. That much I’d gleaned from my research. Mummitonium…a metal mentioned by the locals, usually in relation to MorcuCorp. Incredibly strong, but easily shaped, and said to have come into existence by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Said to be able to cheat death if ingested. Extraordinarily rare. I have some. Was that all there was to it?
No. There was a certain collection of artifacts that might be more precious. The Relics of Life and Death! Egyptian myths spoke of relics that held power over a human’s body and mind. Hypnosis and death…Agragorium…a metallic substance that induced hypnosis, a vegetative state, and finally death in all Simearth lifeforms. It was most commonly found in liquid form within Mummitonium deposits, and the largest deposit of Agragorium ever recorded was found during the construction of the Great Pyramid. Agragorium…one of the rarest and most expensive substances found on Simearth. Dr. Mayfield had worked with some. I’d seen Dad’s published papers on the subject. He’d written that the substance interacted intensely with certain carbon-based lifeforms. After those experiments, Dad had brought home Donovan…Hmmm.
87% chance that the Relics are either made of Agragorium or contain samples of it…why want it though? It was worth 31.42 million times it’s weight in gold, but incredibly difficult to contain without contamination or leakage. The only substance that could contain it was Mummitonium, a nearly as rare and expensive metal.
MorcuCorp is invested in Langraab Industries…is there a stronger connection?
Another trail of thought burned across my cortex, obliterating anything else: Who is MorcuCorp’s highest investor?
Cecelia Montrap…no, outbid two years ago…by Susan Funke! She held over 40% of the MorcuCorp stock.
And Dr. Funke had been Dad’s colleague throughout the Agragorium and DNA-OD experiments. The one who’d gotten next to no academic recognition. Now she was the current head scientist of Langraab Labs. And the one who wanted Donovan.
It all made sense.
I opened my eyes.
It was 5pm when I found her, leaning against a boulder, scribbling furiously on it with a piece of chalk. I’d tried to get her attention, but she’d stared right through me. Her lips moved, but not a sound came out. Her blue eyes were wider than usual and fixed on something I couldn’t see.
I’d never been more terrified. I’d called her name repeatedly, shaken her, slapped her. Nothing. She’d stared ahead. Lips moving, fingers drawing strange shapes in the air. When I’d let go of her, she’d picked up another chip of chalk and started writing on another boulder. I could only watch.
God, I hope you’re okay…wherever you are.
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|28th Sep 2015, 4:05 AM||2.14 - Until the Sun Comes Up #21|
2.14 - Until the Sun Comes Up
I stayed with Chloe all night. I must have dozed off at some point, but I can’t remember when. I remember watching her scurry from boulder to boulder, lost in a place I couldn’t reach. I remember worrying and crying and shouting at her from time to time.
I remember her collapsing.
I remember panicking.
I remember checking her pulse and pupil dilation and whether she was breathing! You had me so worried!
I remember feeling her temperature. Too hot!
I remember splashing water on her face, forcing some down her throat, then wrapping her in my jacket when she started shaking. I remember praying to whatever deity cared to listen. Just let her be alright. Just bring her back safely!
I remember hearing her start crying and vomiting and just being thankful she was alive!
You put me through hell, Chloe. Don’t leave me now.
Opening my eyes was like trying to pry open an ancient pickle jar. My head was pounding and something had crawled into my mouth and died gruesomely. I tried to sit up.
“Argh…” I didn’t even have energy to groan properly.
“Thank god!” A pair of arms yanked me upwards and squeezed me tight. I choked. My blouse felt wet.
“Thomas?” I mumbled.
“Who else you fucking moron?!” He looked pissed! Then he hugged me again and muttered something about me scaring him.
“Don’t do that again!” He squeezed me tight and then started yelling. “Wandering off in the desert without food or water or a map! While asleep on your feet! What the fuck, Chloe?!”
“‘M sorry,” I mumbled, trying to look contrite while wishing he’d be quiet. Really, my head couldn’t take that! My whole body felt sluggish and my stomach threatened to empty itself.
“What were you thinking?!”
I tried to remember. A rush of information flooded the forefront of my mind. Too much to convey. “MorcuCorp…they’re bad…real bad.” My eyes closed. I felt like death.
Thomas sighed. “Why do you do these things?” he whispered. Was he crying?
He gave a sharp laugh, more of a bark. “I’ll bet.” He helped me to my feet. Then, half stumbling, half walking, we made our way out of the desert.
I honestly don’t remember the walk out of the desert. I think some tourist bus picked us up, because we made it back to camp by noon. We must’ve looked like shit. Chloe’s hair was all over the place and her eyes were bloodshot. Our clothes were rumpled, stained, and torn in places. Lucy started crying when she saw us.
“What happened?!” demanded Medea. Her voice shook slightly. She stared at Chloe.
What happened? I peered over at Chloe. I’d like to know that myself.
“Bad cactus,” I answered. “She needs some sleep now.”
Instead of backing up like the girls, Donovan stepped closer and peered at Chloe.
“Looks like the hallucinogenic effects of Opuntia basilaris.” He pried open her eyelid and scrutinized her eye, which was more red than blue. “I suggest forcing some milk down her first. It’s important to flush any remnants from the system and milk contains proteins that should counteract any residual effects of the cactus juice.” Donovan studied Chloe’s face for another second. Then, more to her than to me, said “I’ll grab your bottle.”
I’d just gotten Chloe to drink a large glass of milk (still warm from the goat), when Donovan came over with a blue water bottle. Chloe took a swig. A few seconds later, she was out cold.
“She was more tired than I thought,” I muttered, bundling her more careful in her sleeping bag and closing the tent.
Donovan shrugged. “Hallucinogens can be mentally draining.”
I glanced over at my youngest sibling. “How do you know so much?”
He shrugged. “I wrote a paper on commonly found natural hallucinogenics when I took that online bio-chemistry class from Sim University.”
I ran a hand over my face. Sometimes, Donovan acted so much like an excitable puppy that I forgot that his IQ was right up there with Chloe’s.
“Will she be okay?” The voice was so soft and timid, I almost thought it was Lucy asking. But no, Medea stood behind me, looking small and scared, and trying hard not to show it.
“This isn’t the first time Chloe’s done something stupid,” I chuckled, ruffling Medea’s hair. “She’ll be up and bothering all of us tomorrow.” That got me a small smile.
Medea took a shaky breath and sighed it out. “Okay,” she whispered. “Okay.” Lucy reached out and hugged her, for once, looking like the supportive twin.
Donovan started expertly roasting some fish while the girls chatted quietly.
As for me, I sat down outside Chloe’s tent. When you wake up, I’m getting answers!
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|4th Oct 2015, 3:03 AM||2.15 - Understanding Madness #22|
2.15 - Understanding Madness
After “my little stunt”, as he called it, Thomas refused to let me leave camp. For days, I tried convincing him I was fine. That I was well-rested and healthy. He would hear none of it. Once, I made the mistake of reminding him that I was several months older than he was.
I’d never seen Thomas angry before. Confused, yes. Impatient, yes. Frustrated, yes. But never angry! Thomas angry…I’d never been able to picture it. Thomas angry was like…like…Shaye sensible….or Lucy headstrong…or Medea sensitive! It just didn’t make sense to me!
He’s scared! Thomas’s violent stance and harsh words…why? Nothing makes sense.
After that…discussion, I kept to my tent and did whatever Thomas thought was best. After a few weeks, he seemed to have calmed down. He even apologized for his actions! An apology I refused. It was my fault, after all. Whatever had happened had scared him…like it had scared me.
And yet, here I am.
I gazed around. A dead end. High above the desert, surrounded by boulders, was where I had found myself weeks ago. How? I was still stumped. How had I managed to lose myself so thoroughly? Thomas blamed the cactus I had consumed. I didn’t recall eating any cactus. I didn’t remember my trek through the desert. I didn’t remember drawing the formulas that covered every inch of every boulder.
I didn’t remember any of it.
But I did remember the feeling. An out of body experience, Shaye would call it. I’m not sure her terminology is so far removed from exactness. Whatever the term, the experience terrified me…and enthralled me. I’d been able to think faster than I’d ever before, make logical jumps without a nanosecond wasted. The feeling of understanding everything…someday I’ll recreate that.
But I wasn’t here to theorize. I was here for answers. I couldn’t recall any of my actions, but I could still feel the sizzle of thought that had raced across my mind. Whatever I had thought while here, it had clearly been important. And the connections were still there, I was sure. I just have to remember.
I watched her closely. It was like a physical pain, being back in that place. But Chloe’d insisted. And I wasn’t about to let her go back alone. But I couldn’t stand the place! Every inch of it, every grain of sand, was a reminder of how close I’d come to losing her.
I’d interrogated her right after she’d woken up. That’s when I learned she was as scared as I’d been. She couldn’t remember anything. She didn’t know what her cryptic message “MorcuCorp’s bad” meant, or why she’d been out in the desert to begin with. The last memory she had was talking to me about fishing. 38 hours, I thought to myself, running a hand over my face. She’s missing 38 hours!
“It was most likely filled with hallucinations,” Donovan had told me. “And, perhaps, a complete catatonic state.”
“Blackout. She might’ve passed out at some point.”
I tried to find some peace of mind from that conversation. I can’t help it! Every time I’d written it off as: “Yeah, sure, normal, harmless hallucinations!” another part of me piped up: “And when has Chloe ever been normal?” I couldn’t help it! Chloe definitely hadn’t been sane last time we were here, but she hadn’t been crazy either. She’d been on to something.
“And now we’re here,” I muttered. “Trying to figure out now whatever you figured out then.”
I felt like punching something. Why can’t things just be normal?!
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|11th Oct 2015, 3:28 AM||2.16 – Busted! #23|
2.16 – Busted!
It’s fine, I tried to convince myself. I stood watching Chloe jog down the dirt road towards the bazaar. She packed three canteens of water and an extra sandwich. She’ll be okay.
“She’ll be okay, right?”
The timid voice broke through my thoughts. I jerked around, then remembered to look down.
Medea. She was worried, but unwilling to show the world anything but grumpy, hormonal teenager. Somehow, seeing her made me feel better about the whole thing.
“Yeah!” I chuckled and ruffled her hair. “Yeah, she’ll be fine!” And I believed it.
“Wanna see if we can get Shaye drunk?”
This has to be this one. I gazed up at the ancient structure, the same color as the burning sands behind it. I was tired and over-heated. I took a swig of water from my canteen.
The past few weeks of research and excavation had lead me here, to the Great Pyramid. Everything I could learn about the Relics of Life and Death pointed to the pyramids as the final resting places. And everything I could dig up (literally) had lead me to the Great Pyramid. I’d already spent the better part of a day examining every inch of the pyramid’s base. The sun was sinking behind me and I was no closer to entering the over-glorified triangle than I had been that morning!
“Damn!” I stamped my foot childishly, feeling tears prick my eyes. So close!
As the sun finally slipped behind the sand dunes, I heard the soft, but unmistakable, sound of stone grinding against stone. I watched in awe as a huge sandstone block slowly slid into the earth, revealing the pyramid’s opening…
…and Donovan and Lucy!
“…we’re so busted.”
“What the hell?!”
“I can explain!” Donovan cried out, waving his arms frantically.
I opened and closed my mouth, gargling bits and pieces of words. It was all I could do to try to parse the scene in front of me!
Donovan, babbling about tombs and mummies while Lucy moaned behind him about being grounded for life.
“Grounded?” I managed. They stared at me.
“Are you mad?” Donovan asked, tense.
But my mind had managed to catch up with the latest sensory input. “Were you just in there?!”
“Yes,” Lucy squeaked.
“Did you find a relic?! Smallish statue of Anubis, odd rust coloration, possibly flecks of silver?!”
“Um…I-I…don’t know,” Donovan stuttered. “I found a statue of Anubis, but—”
“But it’s solid gold!”
Sure enough, the small relic Donovan produced from his backpack was gold plated. Though not solid gold throughout, it certainly did not have an Agragorium core.
“Indeed,” I muttered, passing the relic back to my brother and thinking hard. I squinted at the pyramid, muttering calculations under my breath. Turn your face to the newborn gods…sunrise…east.
“Tell Thomas I’ll be home late,” I muttered to Donovan and Lucy, then started counting steps eastward.
“But—” Donovan and Lucy shared a look. “Wait!”
Thanks for reading! ^_^
|26th Oct 2015, 6:18 PM||2.17 – The Beginnings of Madness #24|
If I could find the Relics of Life and Death before MorcuCorp did, there was a possibility I could use them as bartering pieces. I wasn’t completely clear on how. But if I had them, I might get a hold of the upper hand, so to speak. I could threaten to destroy them at the very least! That might convince them to turn a blind eye on Donovan. Maybe even—
“What’s this about?” Donovan demanded.
I jerked around. I hadn’t realized they’d followed me! “Stuff,” I responded. I averted my eyes.
Donovan quirked an eyebrow. “This has to do with MorcuCorp, doesn’t it?”
“Maybe.” I shifted uncomfortably. The last thing I needed was Donovan too close to the people I was trying to keep him from.
Donovan’s eyes widened. “Maybe you can help us!”
Donovan and Lucy shared a glance. Lucy whispered something to him.
“Okay, so this MorcuCorp company is just bad news. They’re ripping off the locals and, in some cases, stealing from them! Luf—someone asked me to take a look into the company’s tax records and see if I can find anything that would work as blackmail to make them leave Egypt alone.”
“Blackmail?!” A second after the word left my mouth, a nasty little voice from the back of my mind muttered, And what do you do? “What kind of blackmail?”
“Just enough to get them to stop this black market trade!” Donovan insisted. “But for that I need to see their records, which I can’t because they’re in their headquarters, which I can’t get into because it’s super secret and I need to bribe the guards to get into with a metal I can’t even find!” He took a deep breath. Lucy nodded emphatically from beside him.
“And what are you doing in this?” I asked her, hands on my hips.
She held up the camera I’d given her months ago. “Documentation.”
That’s not a bad idea. I turned around and paced a few steps, turned again and took a few steps back. I looked up at the sky, pondering.
If I could get my hands on the company’s tax records, a whole realm of possibilities could open up. What would I do with that information? It would depend upon what was there. If I can find some proof of tax evasion or something…An interesting idea. I shook my head. An idea for later. First, I would have to see if the information could actually be obtained. A thought occurred to me.
“Wait!” I whirled around. “How did you two get caught up in all this?!”
“Uh…” Donovan glanced at Lucy. “Just…uhm…I…like helping out the locals…and at first…at first it was just, like, expor—searching through…places for…missing objects, you know, that people had lost. And then Lucy started her photography and I didn’t want her out doing that alone, you know, ‘cuz the desert’s dangerous and I didn’t want her getting hurt. Then she started getting noticed by people at the bazaar for her photos and then Ms. Luf—someone said they wanted us to help def—find proof that MorcuCorp was destroying the unique heritage of Al Simhara.”
Donovan carried on, with Lucy nodding along beside him. I stood, rubbing my chin and reading between the lines.
The two of them had been into the tombs and ancient ruins scattered throughout the desert around Al Simhara. Performing missions for certain people, finding missing objects (doubtlessly ancient relics, perhaps family heirlooms), and exploring cordoned off government land. You’ve got no right to judge, that nasty little voice whispered.
I sighed and stared out over the desert while Donovan babbled on. Night had truly fallen, darkening the barren landscape. The moon was starting to rise above the dunes.
What if we could do it, I wondered. What if we could somehow find this “secret headquarters” that MorcuCorp has? What if we found something? I shifted my foot, watching grains of sand flow done the dune, gathering more grains and speed along the way. What if I found their financial records, bank accounts, routing numbers…what if? What if I could ruin them from the inside?
“What metal did you need to find?”
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|2nd Nov 2015, 9:32 PM||2.18 - Just Once More #25|
2.18 – Just Once More
I was the happiest I’d been in a long time. Donovan wasn’t doing anything extraordinarily dangerous, Chloe was back to hunting for metals, and Medea was beginning to cool down and actually bothering to talk to Chloe again. Lucy and Shaye had both found actual hobbies and neither needed me around for company anymore. I could slow down, take it easy, maybe think.
Life was starting to look up again and I was determined to enjoy it. I’d taken the day for myself and had gone up near the cliffs to fish. There was a slight breeze to lower the temperature and the palm trees provided some shade. The fish weren’t really biting, but that was okay. It was a beautiful day in the Egyptian desert.
I don’t remember what brought it on, but a face rose to the front of my mind. A beautiful face. One I hadn’t seen for…years.
“We left Sunset Valley over two years ago,” I muttered to the breeze. I haven’t seen her for two years. And we hadn’t exactly parted on good terms. Unless you call an email sent at 3am and then nothing a good break off.
“I wonder what she’s doing.” I stared into the distance, just picturing her face, remembering her laugh. She’s probably moved on. And why not? She was young and beautiful and full of life and…completely and totally amazing.
We’d known each other for years. Ever since we were kids. After all, Sunset Valley wasn’t that big. But we’d never really interacted. Then high school happened. And I’d started noticing her. How could any guy not?! She was beautiful, long legs, kissable lips…and feisty! Her temper was legendary! But that just made her more irresistible. I couldn’t work up the courage to ask her to prom. But I did ask her to dance. I’ll be dead and buried before I forget that night.
Every now and then, I thought of sending her a letter. I’d think of all the sappy things I would fill it with. A few lyrics I’d written myself, a pressed flower from China. And maybe a photo, just to let her know I was alright.
But then I’d remember why I’d broken up with her to begin with. That me and my family were on the run. That any contact to past relations might bring Landgraab Labs to our tents. That it could be just as dangerous to her as to us. Then I’d tear up the paper, grab Shaye and that Davis guy and we’d drink rice wine until the wee hours of the morning.
“And this is what free time gets me!” I kicked a convenient rock and ran a hand through my hair, wishing Medea was around so I could break up a fight, or that one guy was getting too friendly with Lucy…or that Chloe was up to something! Anything to distract myself!
“She’s moved on,” I told myself sternly. “Probably got a nice guy, a steady job, a kid on they way.” Somehow, I couldn’t picture it. Not from her. “She’s probably not even in the Valley anymore!”
I slumped to the ground, my hands limp and empty. One more kiss, I thought, closing my eyes to better picture her face, her cheeky smile. Just once more, then I swear, God, I’ll never ask for anything else.
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