Edelweiss Wolff and her mobile phone had a love-hate relationship.
Okay, it was mostly hate.
Edelweiss mashed the predictive text selection panel over and over again with her finger until the text window was good and full and hit Send, as though she were somehow winning by submitting the garbled message to transmission.
Her daughter Freesia’s phone vibrated at the other end of the house.
“What’s so funny?” Freesia’s friend Ace wondered.
“Mom’s fighting with her phone again.”
Freesia showed Ace the recent conversation history, which was full of much of the same with the occasional weird photo thrown in.
“Haha..” he laughed, “I like the accidental selfie.”
“Hahaha! My mom is a freak!”
Freesia’s sister Forsythia joined their chat. With just a few days of high school left for the twins, the kids had been making a concerted last-ditch effort to bring their grades up. Forsythia had taken it upon herself to act as homework ringleader, if you will – rounding up nearby minors and whipping them into performing in her studious circus.
“Homework time, kids!” Forsythia announced. “Chop chop.”
“Ugh,” groaned Freesia.
Ace took the opportunity to excuse himself. “I’ve got to go check on my dad – I’ll come by later?”
“Sure, deserter – quit the field!” Freesia teased.
“Hey, I’m going to a damned bunker, Sarge!” he laughed.
. . .
Despite the grumbling, these group homework sessions were already having an impact. Fennel had a strong A grade, Forsythia had a B, and Freesia’d brought her own D- up to a C+.
“He’s cute,” Forsythia commented.
“Do you want his number?” Freesia retorted.
“I’m just saying,” Forsythia went on, “if I weren’t so much older you’d have some serious competition on your hands.”
“Don’t be gross.” Freesia balked.
“Oh – so you do like him!”
“Shut up. God.”
They finished the extra-credit assignment just in time for Forsythia to run off to work.
Freesia was feeling a bit peckish so she thought she’d make herself something to eat. Not having much cooking skill to speak of, she went for her favorite easy-to-prepare meal: some fancy oatmeal.
The doorbell rang just as her food was ready.
Wow, she thought, he’s back already.
Freesia was expecting a friend at the door, but found an enemy: it was her brother’s sleazy buddy, Chester.
“Oh Lord,” she moaned. “Not you again.”
“Hello, Beautiful,” he grinned.
As was the norm with Chester, he showed up feeling Flirty. Following her into the kitchen, he lined up the unwanted advances and started lobbing them at Freesia, who deflected them with a certain natural flair.
“That’s funny,” she scoffed, “’cause from here they look like itsy bitsy rubber bands, flapping in the wind that comes out of your mouth.”
Chester started ranting incoherently; it was how their conversations usually ended. Freesia got up from her chair and went back for her food. But the microwave was empty.
“Did you take my plumming oatmeal?!” she snarled at him.
Chester didn’t visibly have Freesia’s bowl of oatmeal, but she was sure he had something to do with its disappearance.
Until Fennel moseyed in from the table.
“Dude. Is that my oatmeal??”
“I guess,” Fennel shrugged.
“What’s the big deal?” Fennel asked. “Just make some more.”
It doesn’t take much to set off poor Hot-Headed Freesia. But being tired, hungry, and insulted was enough for her to become fully enraged.
Fennel and Chester had the good sense to vacate the kitchen, but not until Freesia’d had a chance to fully express her disgust.
“I can’t believe you,” she said.
“Don’t ever speak to me again — no, don’t even look at me.”
. . .
Much later that evening, after the others had gone to bed, Ace finally made it back by. He found a strangely quiet Freesia waiting up for him.
They stood a while without a word.
“Are you staring at my boobs?” Ace joked.
But there was no witty comeback from his fiery friend.
“Today sucked,” she said flatly.
“Aw, c’mere.” Ace offered himself up for a sacrificial hugging.
Freesia Wolff and Ace Sloan had just finished one of their impromptu roleplay sessions at the local bakery.
“We just needed more time,” Ace said.
“For a zombie and a smuggler?” Freesia scoffed. “Like that’s ever gonna work – that fight’ll always be over quick.”
“It could work,” Ace protested. “And not everything needs to be a fight all the time.”
To illustrate, Ace tried to “eat” Freesia’s brain in a quizzical, friendly manner.
“Not gonna happen, bub. I have lightning-fast smuggler reflexes and I need my brain to pilot the ship.”
Freesia jabbed playfully at Ace’s zombie face.
“OW!” he yelped.
“I’m so sorry.” Freesia said pitifully. “Does it hurt?”
“GOTCHA!” he yelled. “Zombie beats smuggler!”
“You cheating undead ass!!”
. . .
To the pack of teens that lived in the Wolff house, it probably seemed like youth would last forever. But their father Malcolm was feeling his years.
“This is it,” he thought as he struggled to fill out his daily reports. “This is all there is. I’m just going to keep going to work every day until I come home one evening and keel over on the sidewalk.“
Since he quit his sweet gig as Ede’s Life Coach, Malcolm had been slowly working through a personal goal to earn 200,000 simoleons. He was at $93,877.
“Not even halfway,” he sighed. “There’s a depressing thought!”
He’d joined the Business career and managed to work midway up the corporate ladder to Regional Manager. But promotions were few and far-between these days, and the tedium was driving him mad.
“Well, at least one of the kids will probably drag my corpse onto the lawn and bury me in the backyard,” he fantasized aloud as his wife Edelweiss walked in.
“And then you can claw your way back out and eat some brains?” she asked.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m sorry, it’s just.. This job. It seems to be going nowhere, but we need the money.”
Ede paused for a moment in hopes of collecting sufficient tact before opening her mouth. She hadn’t quite perfected that skill yet.
“I don’t mean to tell you what to do, my sweet,” she began, “but we don’t actually need the money. And if for some reason you do, there’s plenty that can be done with the estate to generate capital. You’re Creative – use it.”
“You think I should quit,” he observed.
“Well, you’re miserable, so yeah,” she said. “You don’t need to hang onto a lousy job to make money. We have resources – hell, we have enough crap in storage to build Newcrest ourselves.”
Malcolm seemed to be seriously considering what she said, but his face went from hopeful to despondent with the changing of the clock. It was time to leave for work – the narrow window for imagining possibilities had closed for the day.
Ede pulled her husband into an embrace before she lost him to corporate drudgery for another day.
“I know you have to go now,” she said gently. “Just think about it, ok?”
[This is part of the #wheresfree collab – more info here.]
Ace Sloan hadn’t meant to leave Free-Jon alone at the park for so long, but his mom had some interesting news concerning the whereabouts of a certain Emelia Johnson. As soon as he finished the call, Ace collected his newly chicken-hatted friend and brought him back to his house for a long-overdue reunion.
“Em? Is it really you?”
“Free! Where have you been?! Are you okay?” Emelia asked, worried and relieved all at once.
“Em, something went really wrong! Why are we old??” he demanded to know.
“And why isn’t your hair grey like mine?” he added before she could answer.
Emelia shrugged. “I dunno. Good genes? But listen, we–”
“I was naked when we got here, too. Were you naked? That doesn’t make sense!”
“I wasn’t, but, I’m pretty sure the player of this world is a Geek; maybe she was trying to make a Terminator joke.”
Free-Jon didn’t get it.
“You know, The Terminator? Big scary robot-man travels through time naked to assassinate someone’s mom?”
“But then this other naked guy shows up, and he’s all ‘Come with me if you want to live!’ ” Emelia chuckled. “Don’t worry, Free. It’s just a movie.”
“Oh god,” Emelia realized, “She gave me Geek as my adult trait.”
“No matter,” Emelia continued, half to herself. “We’re going to have to use the Time/Space Thingy to get back. I do have it, which is kinda weird because Amina should have it – where is she, anyway? – And of course it’s broken, but Reagan says that her son can fix it for us.. I mean, I haven’t actually met him – he might be, like, eight or something.. You know, we should probably just hurry up before the writing gets any worse.”
But Free-Jon wasn’t hearing a darn thing she said anyway.
“Aw, Free – I’m sorry,” Emelia paused. “What’s on your mind?”
“I want to see my cousins.”
“About that. Free – while we’re stranded here, we should try not to draw attention to ourselves. You’ve only ever been a child, but I’ve been older before and I’ve traveled a lot, and I can tell you for sure that most adults don’t have the same, uh, flexibility of imagination that kids have. If you stray too far from local expectations, things can go very wrong. We’re gonna have to act somewhat normal, and we shouldn’t tell people who we really are – not here.”
“What is normal, anyway?” Free-Jon balked. “The one thing I haven’t wanted to be when I grow up!”
“Look,” Emelia sighed, “I know it isn’t fair, but we are grown up on the outside – and we need to try to play along. If you can do that just a little bit longer, I promise we’ll get you your cousin party before we leave.”
. . . .
Ace waited outside for a bit to give his guests time to get caught up. His tiny house could only hold so much enthusiasm before it became painfully obvious just how little square footage there actually was in there.
Better to give them a little privacy anyway, he thought.
“There he is,” said a female voice.
Ace sputtered for a moment. His friend Freesia just laughed.
“Dude, where were you today?” she asked. “I went to freakin’ school because I thought maybe you forgot how much it sucked and decided to show up.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Something came up. Something important.”
“Like you having an old-people convention in your kitchen slash living room?”
“Heh. Something like that.”
“You want me to go?” she asked seriously. “I can come ba–”
“Stay. It won’t take long.”
. . . .
Four hours later, and they were still at it.
“That’s why the Thingy doesn’t recognize me,” Emelia said.
“Right,” Ace said. “I mean, as a Sim your coding seems to be fairly intact – but all those experiences you’ve had since you started traveling must have added enough variables that the original Emelia got kind of.. spread out.”
“What about my coding?” Free Jon asked. “I mean, my outfits were all empty again this morning.”
“Huh,” said Emelia. “I wonder if that has to do with the lack of reference material on older forms of you.”
“Cas.fulleditmode glitch,” Ace said.
“Hey – there’s game awareness, and there’s immersion-breaking game awareness!” Emelia snort-laughed.
“Sorry,” said Ace, slightly embarrassed.
Emelia cleared her throat. “So, uh..”
Ace recovered. “You should be okay, Free-Jon. Once you two get back and synchronize with your local selves, the problem should resolve itself.”
“So everything is good again?? We can see my cousins now?”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” Emelia cautioned. “It’s not like we can just stroll into some community lot and host an ice cream social.”
Finally someone said something interesting, Freesia thought.
. . . .
With Reagan home from work, it was standing room only at the Sloans’. Conversation was boisterous and the lights were all on — if one were wandering the streets looking for signs of life, they’d certainly find her house difficult to miss.
Which was, perhaps, why it didn’t surprise her all that much when another visitor showed up.
Reagan got to the door before he could knock, and stepped outside to greet him.
“Wrong turn at Albuquerque?” she asked.
Geoffrey Landgraab snorted. “No. Well, perhaps. May I come in?”
“I was trying to remember where I was going, and I just followed the clearest path,” he apologized. “I’m not sure why it lead here.”
“It’s alright,” she smiled, “I’m getting used to it.”
. . . .
“Why is there a Geoffrey Landgraab here?” Emelia asked Ace in a whisper. “Your Landgraabs died out generations ago. You don’t think we opened some kind of wormhole between d’Angers and.. ”
“You didn’t,” said Ace quietly. “That’s been there for a while now. Our Player leaves the porch light on.”
“More like she won’t leave the poor guy alone,” added Freesia at full volume.
Emelia resisted temptation to join in as the others had a good chuckle at the local Player’s expense.
“Anyway, I don’t want to freak anyone out,” Emelia said gently, “but I do have some experience with this and if I didn’t know better, I’d say your player is losing interest in this Legacy. You should probably do something to guard against distractions.”
. . . .
At the perimeter of the room, Geoffrey Landgraab in the blue shirt hung back. His memories were still fuzzy, but comparing the state of things here to what he knew of the law of averages, the place he’d just come from couldn’t possibly have been more messed-up than this.
It’s like some kind of brainy Lord of the Flies over here, he marveled with a measure of dread.
This woman Reagan seemed ok, at least. She had offered Geoffrey some tea. There was a certain familiarity to her and she had a warm, calm presence that put him at ease.
“Shall we?” she asked, holding the screen door open.
“Might as well,” he said as he followed her out to the patio.
. . . .
“Consider this,” Emelia expanded on what she’d been saying before, “Free and I have been here less than 48 hours and already your Player has broken Pinstar’s 9th rule of gameplay just to accommodate us.”
“Oh, she does that all the time.” Freesia said. “But she never tampers with Legacy relationships or anything.”
“And how do you account for the huge gaps between updates?” Emelia asked. “I mean, Meggles, her contemporary, has already finished her Legacy and started an Amazon Challenge — and you guys are still stuck on generation 5.”
“Oh yeah!” said Freesia, “I read that one! Man, that part where she abandons her status and leaves her betrothed at swordpoint to go start her own clan? — Lady Suzu is badass!”
Emelia chuckled while Ace shot her a concerned look.
“Look,” Freesia addressed Emelia, “I know you wanna go, and I appreciate the heads-up about our Player or whatever. But somebody promised hat-boy here a party.”
Emelia sighed. She was right, plum it.
“One more day won’t kill anyone. And your identities will be safe,” Freesia insisted. “Me and Ace have done this a million times. It’ll be fun. And after that you two can go your merry way, and we’ll get back to being boring and Legacyish. Ok?”
Emelia didn’t say no.
“It’s settled then,” said Ace. “Now, let’s see that Time/Space Thingy.”
[This is part of the #wheresfree collab – more info here.]
Free-Jon had been looking forward to adulthood for much of his life. No school, no homework, no more of this “everybody telling you what to do just because they’re older than you” stuff – instead, a sim could be and do whatever he or she wanted, no matter how outlandish it sounded to others. Childhood was for trying on ideas and adulthood was for living them out, right?
He hadn’t decided yet, though, what he wanted to be when he grew up – he needed a little more play time in order to accomplish that, and it seemed that the adult world put a serious damper on play time.
What Free-Jon really needed, he decided, was a rewind button. He was gonna have to ask Ace about that once he got done talking on the phone.
“Like the one Sterling Rover has on that old cassette recorder of his,” Free remembered aloud. “I bet Ace could make me one of those!”
A familiar voice interrupted his thoughts.
At first he wasn’t sure if it was coming from inside his head or outside of it.
“Dad??” Free-Jon asked.
“Hey now – maybe I should be calling you that!” the man laughed good-naturedly, referring to their age difference.
This was, of course, not Free-Jon’s dad. This was the original Elder Wolff, many moons after he’d been saved to the Gallery to become the copy of Elder Wolff that would go on to be Free-Jon’s father. This Elder remained behind only so that his first family could remember him if they needed to. His parents, now long gone, wouldn’t. But his sisters Edelweiss and Easter Lily, though occupied with their own lives and children, sometimes did. And while that arrangement probably seemed sad to players and Simselves, Elder Wolff was perfectly content with it.
Free-Jon understood all this. But standing right here, looking right at him, Free-Jon still felt that this Elder Wolff was his dad. His eyes started to get watery; he couldn’t help it.
“You seem to be carrying a heavy load, friend,” Elder noticed.
Where to start? That he missed his mom and dad? That he was really far from home and didn’t know how to get back? That he had misplaced his best friend and felt lost without her?
“Ace thinks I should take off my hat,” Free-Jon blurted.
Well, that was specific. Elder stifled his chuckle, as he could tell the subject wasn’t so funny to the man. He thought for a moment before answering.
“And what do you think?” he asked.
“I like hats,” Free-Jon said. “They’re fun. I don’t wanna have to be serious just ’cause I’m old now.”
“That makes sense,” Elder nodded.
“But he says this one is dangerous.”
“Well, I could see that, too,” Elder agreed. “But only because it might make it real easy to forget to take breaks between exercise sometimes.”
Free-Jon considered that.
“They do make other animal hats, you know. Like my personal favorite..” Elder bent down for a second, and spun into his own animal hat.
Free-Jon snorted, “A chicken? No way! I gotta get one of those!”
Elder slapped his knee. “Well, it just so happens I’ve been looking for a home for this one.”
“Way!” said Elder. “I never wear it – might as well give it to someone who can appreciate it.”
“Thanks, Da– dude!”
“You got it.”
Free-Jon put on his new hat and immediately felt like a weight had been lifted. Ace probably would have said something lame like, “Because that -40 Comfort debuff finally wore off,” but Free-Jon knew better.
“Hey, we have the same shoes!” Free-Jon noticed.
“Well, look at that!” Elder laughed. “Great minds dress alike?”
“Hey, do you want my Owl hat?” Free-Jon asked. “I don’t need it now.”
Elder smiled. “Sure, why not?”
Free-Jon gulped and handed his old hat over.
Elder put it on.
“How do I look?” he modeled.
“You look like a plum.” Free-Jon chuckled.
“Excellent!” joked Elder. “Just the look I was going for.”
“Well, it’s been great meeting you,” Elder said, “and thanks for the hat! But I’ve gotta fly. Smell ya later, dude?”
[This is part of the #wheresfree collab – more info here.]
Ace Sloan stayed the night at the apocalypse bunker with his strange guest. He decided to let Free-Jon sleep in the next morning while he tidied up a bit.
Since Ace’s parents Stuart and Reagan split up, his pop had been spending most nights there. Not because he didn’t get along with Reagan any more; their relationship remained amicable. Stuart just felt safer there. Ace had been checking in on him a few times a week.
To everyone else, the bunker mostly functioned as a retail space, selling collectibles and seeds and whatever odds and ends the family had been hoarding over the years. Ace remembered helping his pop set up the business.
“That’s the cage that people fight in, dad,” Ace had corrected. “The market was called –”
“Naw, it’s from Mad Max, y’know?” Stuart had interrupted. “Thunderdome!”
“How about Bartertown?” Ace had suggested gently. “That’s also from Mad Max, and might be a bit more inviting to customers.”
“Ooh, I like how you think, boy. Bartertown!” Stuart had decided, and Ace considered it a victory even though Stuart still had his Mel Gibsons mixed up.
Ace owed his abysmal high school grades in part to having to look after his pop. But it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to blame Stuart — it was also true that Ace often just had better things to do with his time than attend class.
For a legacy brat, Ace’s best friend Freesia Wolff was pretty cool. She had this theory that coffee shops were the perfect place to try on new identities: the staff pretty much had to engage you in conversation about your day and stuff, and they couldn’t really challenge what you answered so you could talk a lot and refine your story. So the two of them would ditch school and pretend to be newlyweds, travelling dignitaries, out-of-town college students, or whatever else came out of her mouth at the moment.
Of course by now they were pretty much regulars at the Belltower Bakery, so it was a bit more difficult to pass themselves off as other sims. But they found other ways to entertain themselves.
Ace wouldn’t see Freesia today, though; he had another Free to help, and that one was proving to be a different kind of handful.
It was, he imagined, a bit like babysitting a puppy.
Free-Jon panted. “I’m Dangerously Tired but I feel like running!”
“You shouldn’t do that,” said Ace over the sizzle of the frying pan. “Elderly overexertion is on the list of death types for Legacy points.”
“But I’m still Energized!” whined Free-Jon.
“That’s just your hat,” Ace explained. “It’s feeding you a steady stream of artificial mood boosters.”
“Nuh-uh!” Free-Jon gasped.
“Take it off and see.”
“Because you believe me,” Ace posited.
“No I don’t!” Free-Jon denied. “I just like it, okay??”
Ace shrugged. “Okay.”
“Fine,” Ace conceded. “Keep the hat.”
“You stink,” grumbled Free-Jon after a silent huff.
Ace ignored him and continued cooking.
“You stink like Limburger,” Free-Jon pouted.
“Good thing you like cheese,” Ace said, finally presenting him with lunch.
Free-Jon snort-laughed. For all his complaining, he was starting to like his host. And he especially liked the grilled cheese sandwiches.
“I wish you were my cousin,” said Free between mouthfuls.
Ace smiled. Though he had the body of an old man, Free-Jon was really still just a kid. And he wasn’t all that bad once you understood that.
“Eat up,” Ace winked. “There’s a park near here we can go check out afterward.”
[This is part of the #wheresfree collab – more info here.]
As the fourth generation spare to the Johnson Legacy family, and daughter of the self-proclaimed supervillain Fey Johnson, Emelia Johnson’d had a lot of strange days before. But this one took the maple-bacon cupcake.
The last thing she remembered doing was delivering a carefully worded warning to her young friend Free-Jon about the importance of timing to what they were about to do. That conversation replayed in her mind now.
Free: “You’re sure we can’t stay just a little bit longer?”
Em: “Not if we don’t want to get sucked into an infinite time vortex that will simultaneously age us up and down and eventually destroy our coding forever.”
“Yeah..” Emelia regretted aloud, “I really shouldn’t have said that.”
But it was a bit too late to take it back. Here she was, hurled across time and space only to land a familiarish place, in the relative present.. in a rapidly-aged body.
Emelia ran her fingers over the network of wrinkles that now stretched across the top of her right hand. Wow, she thought, old lady skin is soft. Being something of a scientific Genius, she was quite curious about the changes her body had just undergone – were she at home, she could run some tests.. But there wasn’t time to dilly-dally now.
Emelia and Free-Jon had come here because he wanted to visit his cousins, the Wolffs, who he hadn’t seen since his grandmother Cooper’s funeral. But the portal they’d stepped through to get here was nowhere in sight, and neither was Free-Jon. Luckily, Emelia had a powerful tool at her disposal: a device known in the common vernacular as a Time/Space Thingy.
Emelia had acquired her Time/Space Thingy during her months in Bilmonaghan’s world. Many important people there carried them – it enabled them to safely travel between locations, across saved games and even to different hard drives. This device was specially attuned to her – all she had to do was hold it and concentrate her intentions, and she could find familiar places or people just like that.
“All I have to do is just..”
But it wasn’t working.
“What the frick-frack?! Why won’t it work!”
Emelia refocused her intentions and concentrated with all her will, but the Time/Space Thingy just sat in her hand like a Kitchen Upgrade Part. It didn’t seem to recognize her at all.
“The device isn’t damaged,” she observed, “but I might be — my coding must have degraded! I need to get to a lab.”
Emelia wandered along the sidewalk, muttering to herself, trying not to allow the creeping panic that seemed to be following her set in. She was almost to the center of the map when she spotted a familiar face.
“You!! You’re Reagan Sloan!”
Emelia knew she probably sounded a wee bit overexcited – but, man, she finally felt like she was getting somewhere!
.. Or not.
“I’m afraid you have me mistaken for someone else,” the woman said.
Emelia wasn’t one to judge how someone wanted to live her life. Hell, she’d been through all that existential stuff herself. But she really needed Reagan’s help.
“Reagan, believe me -” Emelia said, “I don’t want to cause you any trouble or interfere with what you’ve got going here. But I’ve got to find my friend and get us back home, and you have to help me. You’re the only one here who understands this stuff.”
Reagan sighed. She was not interested in living as a Game-Aware Sim, nor all the drama that came along with it. But it was obvious that this woman wasn’t going to leave until she got what she came for, and the fact that Emelia needed her help was a bit flattering..
Damn that old ex-servant mentality, Reagan cursed to herself. But Emelia had already noticed the change in her demeanor, and Reagan had to look away to hide her smile.
“Well. Let’s get off the sidewalk then, shall we?” Reagan suggested. “Unless you aim to hobnob with Elder Wolff Prime in a second here.”
“Don’t have to ask me twice!” said Emelia, quickly scooting after Reagan into the house.
[This is part of the #wheresfree collab – more here.]
Brianna Clemons was at home on her day off, trying to ignore the commotion in the other room long enough to finish up washing the last of the darned dirty dishes.
Skyler and Aliyah, the two darling daughters she’d just left quietly doing homework in their shared bedroom, were at the front window horsing around — laughing and chattering and not doing homework.
Whatever the two of them were looking at out there must’ve been darned amusing.
“What the plum!” snorted Skyler.
“Skylerr!” whispered Aliyah, shocked at her sister’s choice of words.
“Plum, plummity-plum!” she sang-teased.
“Skyler – language!” Brianna shouted from the kitchen.
The girls went back to gawking out the window.
Skyler was just positioning herself to video the scene on her phone when her sister had a pang of conscience.
“Mom!” Aliyah called, “There’s an old naked guy in the yard!”
Brianna sighed and shook the soapy water from her hands, and went to check on her beast-children.
“Alright, now what’s this fuss about? You girls and your imaginations, I swear..”
Although she’d already been informed of the situation in the front yard, Brianna wasn’t quite prepared for what she saw when she reached up to close the shade.
“What the actual PLUM?!” Brianna blurted.
Skyler erupted in giggles.
“Momma did not say that.” Brianna assured her girls unsuccessfully.
The man behind the mailbox didn’t seem to realize, or didn’t seem to mind, that he was walking around in his birthday suit. He cheerfully approached the door and knocked.
They didn’t answer.
“Hello?” he probed.
Everyone held still & kept quiet.
I do not have time for this plum, Brianna thought.
Brianna turned to glance at her daughters, posturing like a mother bear. When she saw that Skyler still had her phone out, it gave her an idea. She relaxed her stance a little and winked at her daughter.
“Honeypie?” she said, extra loud.
“Yes, mother?” Skyler overly-enunciated.
“Please tell your large, Athletic father that I would like him to call the police. Right now.”
“But dad’s not –“ Aliyah whispered.
Brianna put her finger up and Aliyah caught on that she was bluffing.
It worked on the old naked guy, anyway. He hightailed it outta there.
Once she was sure he’d gone, Brianna drew the shade, settled the children, and got back to her housework.
. . .
. . .
Free-Jon left the Clemons house and wandered out into the desert, wondering where his friend Emelia might be. He couldn’t quite remember what had happened to them before he showed up here. There was a secret pact, child-sized bear suits, Emelia’s drawings all over the walls, something about Blicblock, and being really hungry, and only having a minute where things were timed just right or else they’d risk jumbling time and space up, maybe irretrievably.
“Nice night for a walk, eh?” he heard from behind him.
It was true. It was a nice night and despite being naked, he was actually pretty comfortable.
“Nice night for a walk!” Free-Jon agreed.
The teen’s eyes lit up for a second. “Wash day tomorrow. Nothing clean, right?”
“Now you’re supposed to say, ‘Nothing clean right.’ ” the teen coached hopefully.
“I don’t even know how to do laundry,” said Free-Jon impatiently. Was everyone in this world daft? “My fairy god-mom gives everyone five outfits and I can change what I’m wearing any time just by thinking about it – and she doesn’t use mods!”
The light went out. Ace tried to smooth things over.
“Sorry. I thought, since you were raised by a Geek, you might appreciate some bad Sci-Fi movie ref– nevermind. Hi, I’m Ace. Not a cyborg – just a Sim.”
“Maybe you are and maybe you aren’t!” snipped Free-Jon. “And anyway, everyone knows it takes a village to raise a –”
Free-Jon interrupted his own rant, suddenly remembering where he was. “Oh! You know my cousins too!”
Ace paused a moment, worried where this might be going. “Yes? But.. they might not know you. At least, not this version of you.'”
“Your cousins are pretty smart, but they aren’t exactly what I’d call ‘game aware,'” Ace began to explain. “Hardly anyone in this save is. Introducing such a concept to account for your appearance here might be kind of dangerous.”
“I dunno,” Ace continued. “In this matter, ‘truth’ is highly subjective. I just think you need to be careful.”
Free-Jon frowned. “Like the thing with that lady calling the police.”
“I’m not saying you can’t see them, it’s just –” Ace heard that last part. “Wait, what?”
Free-Jon’s stomach growled audibly. He realized that he hadn’t eaten since he was a kid, back in Jordan’s world.
“Hey, did you hear that? It’s like there’s a dragon in my tummy and he’s about to breathe fire on the whole village! Do you have any spinach frittata? Or cupcakes?”
Ace did a quick visual scan for police and then tilted his head and regarded the strange child-like visitor, not sure quite what to make of this conversation or of him.
“Look,” Ace said, “Why don’t you just come inside? I don’t have any gouda, but I’m pretty sure I can help with some of the other stuff.”
Free-Jon hadn’t warmed up to this save game’s Geeky ambassador entirely yet, but he was just hungry enough to give Ace a chance to prove himself.
Like a package nobody ordered, Freesia Wolff’s pending birthday was approached with curious detachment.
“If you’re chosen to be the heir, are you gonna change the house around?” asked her sister Forsythia.
“Maybe,” Freesia answered.
“Pittsburgh’s great,” commented her best friend Ace, who’d just aged up that morning. “Lots of industrial waste.”
He was always saying stuff like that.
“How do you even know that?” she asked.
“And all of those old steel mills..” he went on. “Can you imagine the kind of stuff they have lying around there?”
“What,” he said a bit defensively. “You can do a lot with scrap metal!”
The conversation had become Boring to Freesia so, without further ado, the birthday girl lined up for her candle-blow.
She made a wish ..
.. and boldly carried the teeny-tiny-eye gene into the next age.
There are a couple sim-things that I loathe that, in doing so, I may have inadvertently invited to the party. Not active loathing, but the more insidious, judgey, “other sims’ problems,” passive sort of loathing — it’s one of those lazy behaviors that you know on some level is gonna come back and bite you in the ass. And since it’s Freesia we’re dealing with, a sim who I am thus far unable to ignore, of course they’d be dredged up and be plopped out, slime-covered, onto the table.
It’s cool, though. I mean, how can I resist that face? Clearly I need to get over myself.
. . .
“So,” Ace asked, “what’s the damage?”
After a moment of poorly-feigned shock, Ace busted up laughing.
“You could at least pretend to be surprised,” Freesia smirked.
“You finished yet?” Freesia asked.
“Pretty much.” He smiled, and added gently, “don’t take this badly, but, you’ve always been kinda Mean.”
Freesia’s stare went cold. She raised her arm and drew back her hand.
Ace threw his own arm up instinctively to counter hers.