Life, the Universe, and Everything
Posted 22 April 2011 - 09:15 PM
Posted 25 April 2011 - 03:58 AM
Friday evening, my mother called to tell me that my cousin Franklin's wife had twin girls. To be honest, I was offended that Franklin didn't call me himself, but as Mama said, Franklin and I were never very close. Suddenly I heard the phone hit something, then I heard a thud, then my brother Mal screamed in the background.
I felt my heart drop into the pit of my stomach. "Mama? Mama, are you there?" I called into the receiver. I heard my sister and my father in the background. "Mama?"
"Angelica?" My brother Blair's quivering voice came over the phone. "Mama is on the floor. She's not moving and her eyes are closed." I never heard Blair sound so scared in my life. "Daddy said he's calling an ambulance." Blair began to cry.
"Blair, everything will be ok," I told my brother confidently, though I didn't feel that way. "Just tell me what's happening."
"Daddy is calling 911 and Mariela is calling Grandma and Mal is putting a wet cloth on Mama's head," sniffed Blair tearfully.
"Mama will be fine," I tried to console my baby brother over the phone.
"But she's not moving!" Blair burst into tears.
"Angel?" Daddy must have taken the phone from Blair. "Your mother is unconscious, but she is breathing. We'll call you from the hospital."
I listened to the dial tone for several long moments, feeling totally numb. For the next hour I paced my room. Aunt Rita died before I was born. I barely knew Uncle RJ before he passed away; Grandpa Rodrigo and I weren't that close either. But suddenly I became very worried that I could lose my mother.
It felt like forever before someone called me. "Daddy had me take Blair and Mal to Grandma Monique's house. I'm staying here with them, Rod and Ray while Grandma Monique, Uncle Jamal, and Aunt Danielle went to the hospital," Mariela told me. "Daddy said that Mama is awake and Dr. Broke is with her now, and he'll call when they find out something." My sister and I just chatted for a bit, then I spoke to Blair and Mal. They were really scared. To be honest, so was I.
Daddy phoned me an hour later. Mama seemed fine now, but the doctors were going to keep her overnight for observation and testing. "I'm going to spend the night here," he said. "Your sister and brothers are spending the night with your grandmother. I think you should drive to Pleasantview tomorrow.
I didn't get much sleep that night. Rarely did I sleep alone any more; usually I spent the night with either Joel or Ajay (and heaven help me if they found out about the other). But that night I just wanted to be alone.
The next morning I was up and out early - another rarity for me. I noticed that Garrett and Adam's car was gone. Since I could see Adam helping Stacy do some gardening around the dorm, it was pretty obvious that Garrett had gone to Academie Le Tour to see Maya. Normally this would have upset me but I had more pressing things on my mind.
My drive from La Fiesta Tech to Pleasantview seemed to take forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital. Mariela waited downstairs for me. "They took Mama for some tests," she explained to me. "Daddy is upstairs."
Silently Mariela led me upstairs to my mother's room. Daddy waited outside, just staring out the window. He turned when he heard our footsteps. Swallowing hard, I studied my father. It looked like he'd aged 30 years overnight. "Your mother is back in her room. Dr. Hillbilly is in there with her." He embraced me tightly, sighed, and turned back to the window?" He sighed and turned to the window again.
Mariela shrugged and whispered to me "He's been like this since I got here this morning."
"Daddy? What's wrong?" I asked.
"Your mother and I were talking last night," he returned. "It's the first time that we just sat and talked like that in the entire time we were married. About life. About regrets. About things we wish we had done differently."
"But what could you have wanted to do differently?"
"You'd be surprised," my father said. "Things like spending more time with my parents before they died. Going away to college instead of staying home with private tutors. Pursuing my own dreams instead of following my grandfather's." He turned and looked at me and Mariela. "I regret not spending more time being a father to you two."
"But Daddy," I protested, "you gave us everything!"
My father shook his head. "Not time and attention, and that's something I seriously regret. I was talking to Dr. Eastwood, the head of the hospital, to make sure that your mother was receiving the best care. His office was literally covered with pictures of his children, stepchildren, and grandchildren. He knew things about every one of them... likes, dislikes, boyfriends, girlfriends, favorite foods... and he told me about how proud he is of how his stepson Dustin turned his life around and how worried he is about his youngest daughter Jennifer... he has three daughters, three stepsons, fourteen grandchildren, one on the way... and he knows more about each one of them individually than I do about the four of you together." Daddy sighed again and shook his head. "I never learned how to be a father. I just did what my grandfather did, and what I thought I remembered my father doing, and I hoped I was doing the right thing. Looking back on my life, I don't think I did."
Before my father could say anything else, the door opened. A very handsome man in scrubs stepped out of the room. Despite the situation and worry over my mother, my heart skipped a beat. He was HOT. I felt Mariela elbow me. She rolled her eyes.
"How is she, Dr. Hillbilly?"
I blinked in surprise. When Daddy said Dr. Hillbilly, I thought it would be the old guy - Maya's grandfather. But this Dr. Hillbilly couldn't be more than 25.
"Based on the MRI and CAT scan, we can rule out stroke and brain tumors," said Dr. Hillbilly. "We would like the cardiologist to examine her though. On occasion, fainting can be symptomatic of an underlying heart problem."
"Doctor, I want my wife to have the best care. Any test she needs, any specialist she should see, anything!"
"Can we see her now?" asked Mariela.
"For a little while," said Dr. Hillbilly.
"Dr. Hillbilly, have we met before?" I asked him as I put on my winning smile. "There's something very familiar about you."
"Ms. Landgraab, we attended Farnaby Private School together for a few years. I was in tenth grade; you were in sixth. You spent your time at Farnaby constantly tormenting my nieces and nephews," he replied icily. "And I believe you are dating my brother-in-law Ajay, among other gentlemen. Now if you will excuse me, I have other patients to attend to." He brushed past me and walked into a room down the hall.
"Smooth move," muttered Mariela as she rolled her eyes again.
I turned to say something to her when I saw my father glaring at me from the doorway. Mama sat up in bed, watching me with a sad expression in her eyes. His eyes sort of bored into me like when an employee didn't live up to his expectations. Sheepishly I went into the room. Mariela embraced Mama.
"Mama, I was so scared!" my sister exclaimed as she squeezed our mother.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten anyone," my mother apologized. "I was talking to Angelica when everything started spinning. Then it felt like the world turned black. Next time I opened my eyes, I was in the ambulance."
"I'm glad you're all right," I said. I couldn't help feeling relieved. Other than the ugly hospital gown and looking a little pale and tired, Mama appeared her normal self.
"I was telling the girls about our chat last night," Daddy told Mama as he took her hand. "When you feel up to it, I think you should have a talk with the girls."
The room became uncomfortably quiet for a few overly long moments. Thankfully a nurse came in carrying a tray. "Lunch time," she said with a smile.
"Thank you," Mama told her. She looked at us. "Why don't the rest of you grab a bite to eat as well? I think I'd like to rest quietly for a bit."
Daddy kissed her, while Mariela and I gave her tight hugs. "We need to talk," Mama whispered into my ear. "Later, after I've rested."
My stomach knotted up. Vaguely I remembered running into Aunt Rose when I'd gone to a club with one of my professors. Did she tell Mama and Daddy? My father didn't let on as we went downstairs to the cafeteria.
Posted 25 April 2011 - 04:00 AM
"Oh, it's going great!" I exclaimed. "I'm a drama major. Professor Jones says I have real acting talent."
"I see. And your grades?"
"A 4.0 GPA," I said proudly.
"How much time do you put into your work? It's difficult to balance rehearsals with the rest of the work."
I started to feel like I was at an inquisition. "I manage," I reassured my father.
"What are your prospects after graduation?"
"Well, I might have to start out in bit parts and in commercials," I admitted. "But I should be discovered very easily."
"And what if you don't? Do you have a backup career planned?"
My father's question surprised me. "Oh, there's no doubt I'll become an actress or an entertainer. Everyone says I was born to be on stage."
"I'm glad you're so confident." Daddy then turned to Mariela, who complained at how boring Pleasantview Prep was again.
I have no idea why Daddy suddenly went off on that tangent. Maybe it's because of the whole regret thing he was talking about before.
"Excuse me," said a nurse as she came to our table. "Mrs. Landgraab would like to see you."
We found Mama sitting up in a wheelchair instead of in bed. "Malcolm, why don't you pick up the boys and bring them here? I'm sure they're still worried and will feel better once they see me." Daddy appeared reluctant. "The girls will keep me company while you're gone. We can spend the time catching up." My father nodded, then kissed Mama's cheek.
When the door closed behind him, Mama turned to me, looked me in the eye, and asked "How many men are you sleeping with Angelica?"
Her question floored me. "Mama!" I exclaimed. Mariela's face turned as red as her hair.
"Several, from your reaction." My mother shook her head and sighed. "Dios mio... I didn't want to believe Rose."
"But Mama, I was just out with my professor," I protested.
She looked me in the eye. "I did the same thing, Angelica. I can't deny the fact any further. When I was in college, I slept with many different men, including my professors. Almost all the regrets in my life are tied into the same thing - my desire for sex."
"Maybe I should wait downstairs," said Mariela, looking very uncomfortable.
"No, Mija, you need to understand all of this as well so that you do not repeat my mistakes. Our family came to Pleasantview when I was about Mal's age. Uncle Kendrick was a couple of years younger than Mariela. Papi had a job offer, so the whole family moved here. Mi abuela, my grandmother, took care of me and Kendrick while Mama and Papi worked. My best friends at the time were Alexander Goth, Dagmar Dawson, and Jimmy Joe Hillbilly. Abuelita, who you are named for Mariela, would bring me over to Jimmy Joe's house while she had coffee with Jimmy Joe's grandmother. We became close friends. When we went to junior high, of course we dated. Our families had so many parallels - Abuelita died a couple of months before Jimmy Joe's Grannie; Mama became pregnant with Jamal and Rita a few weeks after Mr. Hillbilly was abducted by aliens and became pregnant with his sons. Mind you, this was before he became a doctor."
Mama's face grew thoughtful. "Finally we went to college," she sighed. "And my body was wanting more than just hugs and kisses. Jimmy Joe, however, wasn't ready. As much as I pressed and pushed for it, he kept putting me off. Summer break, he went home to help his father take care of his younger siblings - three half alien children. That might have really been the first reason I started disliking aliens... which I eventually passed off to you."
"Might have been?" Mariela asked cautiously.
"There was another girl in our dorm. An alien named Stella Terrano. Maybe if I hadn't been so jealous of her, and so impatient..." Mama took a deep breath. "Jimmy Joe befriended her. He was the kind of person who didn't like to see someone sad. She was alone - had been raised by scientists in a lab." After another pause, Mama continued. "Anyhow, I was alone in the dorm that summer with a few other people. I didn't want to go home and get stuck babysitting Rita, Jamal, and RJ, who was about a year old when I went to college. There was a guy in the dorm - Kacsper Satander. Things... happened... and I was hooked. I wanted men... specifically I wanted Jimmy Joe. By the time he came back to school, I was hoping that he'd be ready - he wasn't.
"One day, I came back to the dorm and saw Jimmy Joe and Stella innocently playing chess... I lost it. All they were doing were playing chess, and I accused Jimmy Joe of cheating on me. Looking back now, I realize that it was me. I was the one cheating on him, but I projected it onto him. To this day I can't forget the hurt look in Jimmy Joe's eyes. I don't know if he knew back then, but I'm sure he found out later. Then I made another mistake. When I was in college, my hormones were raging - and one day I tried flirting with Alexander Goth. Dagmar never forgave me Because I couldn't keep myself under control, I lost my three best friends."
Mariela handed Mama a tissue, which she used to wipe away her tears. "When the Bella Goth Dorm opened, Jimmy Joe and Stella were invited to move in. I wasn't. I didn't let it bother me. Instead I moved into the sorority house. Later I discovered that, in essence, I pushed Jimmy Joe into Stella's arms. If I would've been patient, perhaps I would've wound up married to Jimmy Joe instead of your father. He was the love of my life and I gave him up." Mama sighed sadly. "I was a mess. I slept with any man I could, even my professors." I felt my face flush as I listened without interrupting. "I might have stayed at college for advanced degrees - I certainly could get through without lifting a finger. Alexander and Dagmar married... and so did Jimmy Joe and Stella."
"What made you change your mind?" Mariela asked timidly.
"My sister's death." Mama sighed. "When Rita died, I re-evaluated my life and realized that I wasn't where I wanted to be. Of course, I was angry at Krondor Hillbilly for breaking up with her and would have blamed him for her death if it wasn't for your Uncle Jamal. Like I did to Jimmy Joe years before, Rita drove Krondor away. Though instead of turning to sex, she turned to other things that ended her life, despite Jamal and his girlfriend Melody's best efforts. About that time, I met your father. We had a whirlwind romance, married, and then you were born Angelica."
"And then everything was fine, wasn't it?" I asked hopefully.
"For a while I was contented with two beautiful daughters, a rich husband, and a fancy house in Bluewater. But old habits die hard."
My sister and I glanced at each other, uncomfortable with where this might have been heading.
"Around the time you two started going to the Farnaby School, your father and I were having some problems. At least I was having a problem. Perhaps your father became complacent in our relationship. Or maybe I needed more physically and emotionally than your father was giving me at the time. Both my father and my brother RJ died in such a short span of time... I needed comfort, attention, and affection, so I had an affair with a young man named Ricky Cormier. Ricky gave me the attention and filled my needs at the time... and..." Mama stopped again. Mariela and I both swallowed hard. "And I became pregnant."
"You mean... Mal..." My voice quivered uncontrollably.
Posted 25 April 2011 - 04:04 AM
"Oh Mama," began Mariela. Mama held up her hand to stop my sister.
"But I credit your father for still accepting and raising Mal as his own. Ricky Cormier had three other children... two by a woman named Marylena Hamilton and... one by alien abduction." Mariela and I looked at each other, as if what our mother said couldn't become more incredible. "Ricky admitted he had been using his telescope to watch a neighbor's wife in her hot tub when the aliens took him. After Ricky died in the accident at our pool, Ms. Hamilton decided she didn't want to care for his daughter Lakeisha and gave the girl up for adoption. You might remember her better as Kiki Cormier-Worthington. She was raised by the Worthington family... and is one of the children you used to torment mercilessly at the Farnaby School. Your father and I both decided that it was time for no more secrets and no more regrets last night. And I sincerely regret my poisoning you two against aliens."
I hung my head and muttered "I can't believe... Mal is my half brother... and he has a half sister who's green trash..."
"Stop that!" Mama said sharply. "I fixated on hating aliens because Jimmy Joe's siblings were half-alien and Stella was a full blooded alien. I felt they took Jimmy Joe away from me. But to be honest, it could have been anyone - his father could have adopted children of any culture; Stella could have been a woman of any race. And I let my racism... yes... racism... against aliens affect you. One of the reasons you hate that girl Maya so much is because of your obsession over Garrett. But that is an obsession, not love. If he cared for you, he would return that love. The way you act only drives him further away. I am surprised he did not move out of the dorm sooner." My mother's words were like a slap to the face, leaving a sting to my heart.
"You also didn't like Maya because she was smarter than you, better at everything than you, and had more friends than you," added Mariela matter-of-factly. "At least I discovered that when I got pulled from the school. I started competing against Farnaby, and I realized Carina, William, Alia, and Duncan ARE smarter than me and better at sports than me. But I couldn't tease them - they weren't there for me to tease. I had to try to get better than them. Bullying people didn't get me any friends at Farnaby OR at Pleasantview Prep. And to be honest, William is HOT! Too bad he's totally serious for Madeline Phoenix."
"William looks a lot like his father," sighed Mama. "If he had blue eyes, blond hair, and normal skin, he would be a dead ringer for his father."
"Oh, yeah, and don't tell Uncle Kendrick's daughter Stormie how you feel about aliens," Mariela added. "Our cousin still goes to Farnaby. She's in the same class as James Terrano and has a HUGE crush on him. Last night she told me he took her skating a couple of weeks ago and he asked her to a school dance next month."
"For you, Mariela, the move of schools has been beneficial. As much as you don't like it, it forced you to re-evaluate your way of thinking. Not you, Angelica." Sighing, Mama shook her head. "Another of your father's and my regrets is that we didn't discipline you girls properly. By the time we realized it, it was too late for you, Angelica. One day your father and I came across the discipline files from the Farnaby School when we were cleaning up the home office. We hadn't submitted them to Pleasantview Prep with the rest of your transfer papers. I can't tell you why we decided to look through them. Your father didn't want to believe Mrs. Farnaby at the time. The evidence was there in black and white. Both of us felt so ashamed - Maya was defending her cousins and, between her parents and the school, literally had the book thrown at her. You harassed all of those children, and we rewarded you with a car. As I read through the complaints, I could almost picture mi abuelita looking at me sadly and shaking her head. She was an iron fist in a velvet glove - strong and unyielding, but everything was done with love and caring. Perhaps I rebelled a bit against the way she raised me, and I was too easy on the two of you. But I can still hear the elder Dr. Hillbilly at that meeting saying 'I know your mama was raised to know better and taught so she’d teach you better'. And every time I remember him saying that, I see mi abuelita crying, because I do feel like I failed the both of you as a mother. I swear I will do better by Mal and Blair."
Mariela and I had tears in our eyes as we listened to our mother. Everything seemed to crumble around me... my mother pretty much regretted most of her life... my father was her "second choice"... my favorite brother was the product of an extramarital affair... my family's hatred of aliens stemmed from my mother's transferring her anger about her childhood sweetheart's refusal for whoo hoo towards them... My head spinned out of control.
My sister's cell phone broke the uncomfortable silence. She answered it, then hung up a couple of moments later. "Daddy is on his way here with the boys."
Mama nodded. "He knew I wanted to talk to you two, and it was now or never."
"Are... are you going to tell Mal and Blair?" I asked hesitantly.
"When they are older," Mama said. "They're both a little young to understand. They'll be here soon, and I think it will upset the boys more if they see we've been crying."
By the time we composed ourselves, my brothers burst into the room. Mal threw his arms around my mother. "I missed you Mama," he said in a timid voice. "We were so scared."
"I know. I didn't mean to frighten anyone," my mother returned as she gave Blair a squeeze.
The rest of the day... the rest of the weekend was a blur except for a few minor things that stood out. Uncle Kendrick, Grandmother Monique, and Uncle Jamal came to visit. Daddy stayed at the hospital with Mama; the boys went with Uncle Jamal and Grandmother Monique; Mariela and I went to Uncle Kendrick's house because they had extra rooms. Uncle Kendrick proudly showed us videos of his first grandchildren, named Celia and Teresa for relatives none of us ever met. Aunt Rose's stares made me uncomfortable as Stormie told us about her first date. I bit my tongue when she talked about how sweet and wonderful James was, though I couldn't help smiling as she dropped her voice to a whisper to tell us about her first kiss with him without her mother hearing. I only half listened as my aunt, uncle, and cousin had a skype call from cousin Mario. He was overseas with his wife, who was in the military stationed in some country I couldn't remember.
They released Mama from the hospital the next morning. According to the doctors, mama fainted because of an electrolyte imbalance, which is good because they were able to treat her in the hospital already. She has orders to take things easy at home and to follow up with her doctors in a week. Once Mama was home and settled, she and Daddy insisted I return to college. They said I shouldn't miss any more classes than I already have.
I wish I had someone to talk to about everything that happened this weekend. Ajay and Joel are around, but I don't feel like this is something I could discuss with them. Garrett goes out of his way to avoid talking to me. I don't know Stacy or Adam well enough... and to be honest, I don't know my other dorm mates beyond their names.
Thinking back to my younger days... it hurt to realize that I never really had friends. I had "followers" and "boyfriends," but no "best friend." No one to confide in. No one to be a shoulder to cry on. I wanted to be around Desiree Dreamer because she was part of the Goth family and seemed an appropriate companion, but eventually she gravitated towards Maya. Chelsea was a follower until I drove her away. There were girls at Pleasantview Prep, but again they were followers. I tried to be friendly with Rebecca Ruben, Joel's twin, when we were at school, but like Desiree it was because Rebecca was part of the Betteranu family. I never became close to Mario or Franklin, my cousins nearest my age. Now, when I need someone to talk to, I don't have anyone.
I've never felt so alone.
Yep, I've dug into the old photo archives for this post :D
Also, I decided to age up James and William and age down Jimmy Joe, just to compare the 3 side by side.
What do ya'll think?
Posted 30 April 2011 - 03:04 AM
I just love getting into my simmies heads :D
I'm literally counting down the days until the semester ends so that I can transfer to Academie Le Tour. Alternating visits every weekend is getting exhausting (but it's worth it). The choreographers and head of the dance department aren't that happy that I'm transferring. This is something I need to do. When I'm not with Maya, I feel like a part of myself is missing. We've both lived like that for over a year and it's been nightmarish.
Monday through Friday, the only thing I can think about is Friday afternoon when either I drive to ALT or Maya takes a bus here to LFT. The weekend is pure bliss until the moment we have to separate and repeat the agonizing wait for the next weekend.
Ajay laughs at us sometimes. Like the time he came back from classes and found me and Maya dancing on the front patio. No music. Just us dancing. I guess it's hard for him to understand that it's more important for me and Maya to have that nearness. It's a connection that's not based on sex. There are other ways to show someone you love them. Maya and I, even before we began a relationship, saw each other every day or so. We need togetherness.
Sometimes Maya and I just cuddle together on the patio looking for shapes in the clouds. When we were teenagers we'd wonder why her parents liked to do that. But now we know it's another form of intimacy. My parents would sometimes just sit in the car, listen to the radio, and watch the stars.
I think Ajay's problem is that he doesn't understand what a relationship is. He has girlfriends, but he doesn't connect with any of them. It probably doesn't help that his parents' marriage was arranged. Every time he comes home from visiting his sister, he seems amazed at her relationship. Donika was fortunate to have found Maya's uncle Colin.
And I'm the luckiest man alive to have Maya.
As my sister says, I have no one but myself to blame. I want to blame someone, but I can't. I don't have any friends to talk to. Not even one I can call on the phone. I'd try talking to Ajay or Joel, but I don't want it getting around about Mama's indiscretion... and I don't want to risk them finding out about each other.
Maya's visiting Garrett at LFT; I don't want to be there. After everything Mama told me regarding the Hillbillies and the Mercados, I don't feel like I can face her. Mama had asked me to go to the Ard Rig Cathedral for her. Now was as good a time as any.
Whenever I've been to the Cathedral, I ignored the cemetery part. But Mama asked me to take flowers to our family graves and light candles. She said she usually does this every other month (Uncle Kendrick does it the other months), but Daddy wants her to rest. Supposedly it's a tradition of my great grandmother's that Mama carried on. Great Grandmother Mercado had died by the time Uncle Jamal was born. I guess that's why he doesn't do the monthly thing. He did say he goes a couple of times a year to lay flowers, but it's different for him because he was closer to Rita and RJ than Mama and Uncle Kendrick were.
The Mercado family plots were in the front; my Landgraab ancestors are buried in some tomb somewhere in Bluewater. Four headstones marked people I didn't know or barely knew; my great grandmother, my grandfather, my aunt, and my uncle. I wasn't alone in the cemetery. A dark-haired woman bent over to lay flowers on two graves at the other end of the grounds.
Uncomfortably I looked at the markers in front of me. Mariela Alejandra Perez Ruiz de Mercado... died at age 70. Rodrigo Mercado Sr... died at age 65. Rita Shamiqua Mercado... died at age 21. Rodrigo Mercado Jr... died at age 20. I swallowed hard as I realized Uncle RJ was my age and Aunt Rita only a year older when they died. My chest tightened when I placed the bouquets of roses into the graves' vases as Mama asked me to. When I hear Mama, my uncles, and my grandmother talking about how young my aunt and uncle died, it never really occurred to me that I'm the same age. Suddenly I began shaking.
"Is-ev-er-y-thing-all-right?" said a mechanical voice behind me. I turned to find myself face to face with a nun. The voice seemed completely out of place with what I was seeing... until I noticed that she didn't blink. Her pale skin was odd - sort of like she was wearing a plastic mask. "For-give-me. I-am-Sis-ter-A-ras-mus. I-am-a-Mark-II-ser-vo. I-have-been-de-signed-to-meet-the-needs-of-the-vis-i-tors-to-the-cath-e-dral." I stared in surprise. I knew that a few people had married servos in Pleasantview, and the servos I knew were the standard, creepy, one-eyed robots. This one looked human... almost. "They-are-still-ov-er-com-ing-some-of-the-bugs. How-ev-er, I-am-pro-grammed-to-serve-as-an-ad-vi-sor-in-the-church. An-y-thing-told-me-will-be-kept-in-one-hun-dred-per-cent-con-fi-dence-un-less-it-will-cause-harm-to-oth-ers." She looked at me, her head tilted in what was supposed to be a sympathetic expression, I guess. "Al-low-me-to-make-you-a-cup-of-tea."
As I considered her offer, the woman from the other end of the cemetery stood and began walking to the gate. From the distance I could see the woman's alien green skin. It had to be one of Maya's relatives - most likely her aunt. She looked at me briefly as she walked to the gate; I don't know if she recognized me. I turned to Sister Arasmus. "I think that might be a good idea."
The robot nun led me into the cathedral and seated me in the room where my cousin's wedding reception had been held. Apparently the cathedral wasn't in the middle of preparing for another wedding yet. The buffet table sat empty but ready; the tables and chairs lacked their decorative coverings. Sister Arasmus returned carrying a well-used tea set, poured me a cup, then sat across from me with her own cup. "De-spite-my-ro-bot-ic-in-tern-als-I-am-able-to-in-take-human-food. It-is-less-dis-con-cert-ing-for-those-I-meet. It-will-be-bet-ter-when-they-ad-just-my-speech-cir-cuits. Now, what-is-troub-ling-you?"
I don't know why, but suddenly I found myself telling Sister Arasmus my entire life's story, from every little thing I did as a child all the way up to what my mother revealed to me. Perhaps because she presented a friendly, comforting appearance that I needed at the moment. Or maybe it was because she was a servo - what was said would remain between us. Or it could be that I needed to be heard and not judged. Sister Arasmus' non-blinking eyes almost made me feel like her attention was entirely on me. She remained silent except for the occasional mechanical whir and click when she moved slightly.
"One-of-the-things-I-have-learned-since-I-was-act-i-vat-ed-is-that-the-Most-High-gives-a-se-cond-chance-to-people. Many-are-not-a-ware-of-this-"wake-up-call"-as-Fath-er-Dib-ley-says. It-is-poss-i-ble-that-your-aunt-and-un-cle-ig-nored-this. Your-moth-er-did-not. Nei-ther-did-you. You-have-a-se-cond-chance. There-are-ma-ny-paths-o-pen-to-you. It-may-be-that-you-are-be-ing-warned-that-your-cur-rent-path-leads-to-de-struc-tion. I-can-not-tell-you-the-path-for-you-but-then-I-do-not-think-this-is-what-you-want-ed-now."
"No," I admitted. "I needed someone to talk to. I've still got a lot to work through."
"Thank you for listening, and thank you for the tea."
After my discussion with Sister Arasmus I felt a little bit better. I was still confused, but I didn't feel like a weight was pressing down on my chest. In the main sanctuary I lit the candles in memory of my relatives.
There was no reason really to go back to campus. Instead I decided this would be a good weekend to spend with my family.
Posted 30 April 2011 - 03:05 AM
I honestly feel like Angelica is avoiding me. Last weekend she locked herself in her room Friday night, drove into Pleasantview early Saturday, and didn't come back till late Sunday. She barely said a word to me all week. This past Friday she drove off into Pleasantview again and hasn't come back yet. I'd say it was because of Maya, because I know they don't get along, but I tried calling and Angelica didn't pick up; she hasn't returned my messages either.
I doubt it's another guy. I mean, she's seeing me, and Joel, and another guy in the dorm, and I think a couple of our professors too. Maybe she's found out about the other girls I've been seeing. Despite the fact that Angelica is doing the same thing I'm doing, she can be incredibly jealous.
The only way I'm going to find out what's going on is to confront her head on. Even if I have to wait outside all night.
Pulling into my parking spot, I realized that Garrett and Adam's car was gone. The light shone in Adam's window and I could see him and Stacy silhouetted by the curtains. Garrett probably drove Maya to the bus station. As I got out of my car I heard a voice say "You've been avoiding me."
I turned to find myself face to face with Ajay. "Not right now," I told him. He grabbed my arm as I tried to get past him.
"What's going on Angelica? You haven't been acting like yourself for the last week."
"My mother was hospitalized last weekend," I returned abruptly as I pulled my arm out of his grasp. Crossing my arms across my chest, I added: "As if you didn't hear. Your brother-in-law was her attending doctor."
Ajay looked at me like I'd slapped him. "I didn't know," he said in a low voice. "Colin doesn't tell me who his patients are. Doctor-patient privacy."
"I'm sorry," I said, ashamed of my outburst. "It's been a difficult week."
"No, I'm the one who should apologize. I was in Pleasantview last weekend visiting my new nieces. If I'd have known, I'd have been there with you. How is your mother?"
"She's home. The doctors said it wasn't anything major, but everyone is on edge." I took a deep breath as I considered how much to tell Ajay. "We talked a lot. Mama told us some things about when she was in college... and then I realized that I had an aunt and an uncle who died at my age, though they were eight years apart. I've been dealing with a lot in a little amount of time. And right now, I just have a lot to sort out. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm kind of tired." Before Ajay could react I pushed past him and went up to my room.
Ajay's a nice guy, and a wonderful lover, but right now I need to be on my own.
As Angelica ran up the stairs to her room, I couldn't help feeling like a heel.
I'll have to make it up to her.
Yes, Sister Arasmus really is a Servo. I got tired of mixing up her and Trina Hillbilly whenever I saw them in the street :D
Posted 15 May 2011 - 01:45 AM
Pray I survive :wacko:
The times, they are a-changing. Next semester David Ottomas is planning on moving into the Greek House. I hope those guys can deal with the constant cow mascot visits. She's really sweet on David. But then, he's the only guy who pays attention to her. Scott says David's whole family is a bit off the deep end. Get this... David actually took the cow mascot on a date. Cow costume and all. According to Scott, David didn't date at all in high school. The girls weren't interested in him. This thing between him and the cow seems to be mutual - two total outcasts who found each other. Adham tells me not to be judgmental of their relationship. His dad was one of the llama mascots before he married and became a politician.
Speaking of Scott, he's joined the ROTC. Next semester he's enrolling at Academie Le Tour. He swears it's not because of my cousin Rebecca. Scott's grandmother donated money for a dorm there and he can get a scholarship. But then, another of his cousins is moving to ALT to be with his girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Desiree and I have been looking at houses. We want to get away from dorm life. Mom and Dad said that if we don't have enough, they'll help us out. Desiree hasn't said anything to her parents; she's afraid of how they'd react to us moving in together.
There is one other option. I've been talking to Uncle Benjamin. He, Aunt Amanda, and two of their friends moved into a large house together, then created their own Greek house. No offense to Dad, Uncle Joshua and Aunt Bethany, but their old frat house is full of losers. Maybe I can convince Adham and Vanity to join us and start our own legacy here at SSU.
His and Bianca's college friend Jennifer (who is also Bianca's sister-in-law's sister) eloped with her boyfriend. Naturally this makes Bianca step up the pressure on Nick. Really, it's time for my brother to make up his mind what he's going to do. Bianca's not going to wait forever.
Bianca is also Joel's aunt. He said she's not a very patient person and he can't believe she's held on this long. She's going to either dump him, or do something drastic. Any way you look at it, I can't see this ending well for my brother.
Personally, I just don't understand what my brother is waiting for. Now that Maya and I got over that major hurdle, our relationship is full steam ahead. I can't picture my life without her.
Which is why I'm looking at rings. Maya and I are pretty much committed to each other as is. We intend to spend our lives together any ways. The ring is just the next step in sealing it. I could ask Uncle Alex and Aunt Dagmar for Grandma Tegan's ring from Grandpa Goopy (Adam gave Stacy the ring from when Grandma Tegan got engaged to Mortimer Goth), but I think I'll leave that for Scott. The way things are going between him and Joel's twin sister Rebecca, my cousin is going to need it. I've gotten to know Rebecca a bit from when I visit Maya at ALT.
When Rebecca wants something, she gets it. And she definitely wants Scott.
Posted 11 June 2011 - 07:38 PM
Christian has this crazy idea of starting up a new Greek House and wants me, Vanity, and Desiree to be part of it (Scott's transferring to ALT's ROTC and David's moving into the Urele Oresha Cham house). Desiree doesn't really seem to care, but Vanity likes the idea. I guess I'm a bit hesitant. Christian told us he wants our Greek House to be more academic in nature, like the one his uncle started at Academie Le Tour.
I decided to talk to Dad about it. As a former mascot, he's all gung ho with the idea. My father assured me that my helping start a Greek House won't hurt him as mayor of Pleasantview or Mom's chances of becoming the next chief of staff at Pleasantview General. Dr. Eastwood has been dropping more hints about retiring. Since Dr. Mercado retired, Mom is the front-runner... at least if she forces herself out of her comfort zone. Mom's not the most social of people. However, she says she has to because a few members of the board of directors are considering passing her over for Dr. Broke, even though Dr. Broke is Dr. Eastwood's daughter-in-law. Dr. Broke is more popular with the staff.
I don't want to do anything that would mess up this opportunity for Mom.
Oh my God! I can't believe I won something!
There's this new "luxury hotel" opening in Uptown. It's supposedly this futuristic themed place called "Eden Express". The Uptown location isn't the only one, but it's the closest, covering the Pleasantview area. Supposedly they're putting them in different places all over the world and have a massive "grand opening celebration" worldwide.
The promoters been giving away a number of tickets and I was lucky enough to score a pair for the grand opening weekend. Mine came in the mail today. Maya said that Garrett had also received a pair. He asked her to spend the weekend with him.
I think I'm going to invite Scott. It'll be nice to spend a weekend together away from the dorms.
This long weekend at "Eden Express" is the opportunity I've been waiting for. I found the perfect ring for Maya. The schedule of events lists a formal dinner the first evening. It'll be a great chance to propose - especially since my cousin Scott will be there. He was invited by his girlfriend.
I better get a different tuxedo though. I've never been able to live down the one that I wore to Simone's wedding. Besides, I'm not trying to avoid Angelica; I'm planning on proposing to the woman I love and I want to look my best.
It's the talk of the town. The place to be if you're anybody. Grand opening tickets have only been given to select people - and I'm not one of them. A couple of months ago, not winning something as prestigious as tickets to the grand opening of a place like "Eden Express" would have infuriated me. I would've been crying on the phone to Daddy, who would pull every string he could to get me a pair. Right now it doesn't matter to me.
Funny how it takes something like what happened to Mama to put my life into perspective. I just can't stop thinking about everything she told me.
Apparently Garrett won a pair of passes and planned to take Maya. That's something else I know would bother me, but instead I felt numb. I walked into the cafeteria and Garrett was showing Adam, Stacy, and Joel the contents of a small jewelry box. I could see the glitter of the diamond solitaire from where I stood. "Maya is going to love it!" I heard Stacy exclaim.
"Wish we'd manage to get some tickets," sighed Adam. "I'd love to go just to see the expression on Maya's face."
"I'll get Scott to record everything," returned Garrett with a broad grin. He's been smiling more these last 4 months than he did all of the previous school year. When someone mentions Maya's name, his eyes light up. "I just hope that Scott doesn't spill the surprise."
"I wish my sister'd asked me instead of Scott," grumbled Joel.
"No offense Joel," laughed Garrett, "but from the brochures, Eden Express doesn't look like the kind of resort you bring your sibling to."
"So what's the plan of action?" Adam asked.
"I'm going to take the bus to Uptown from here. Rebecca and Maya said they'll ride a shuttle together. Scott's doing the same from SSU. None of his dorm mates out there got tickets."
"I know. My cousin Christian was uber pissed that he and his girlfriend didn't win any," added Joel.
"Yeah. I already heard it from Desiree," chuckled Adam. "Doesn't seem to bother her as much as him though."
My cell phone rang, distracting me from the conversation. I automatically answered it without looking at the caller ID. "Hello Angelica." Normally the sound of Professor Jones voice would send shivers down my spine, but since I found out my mother had slept with her professors in college, the idea of meeting with him left me cold. "You've been missing class a bit lately. I was starting to get worried."
"I'm sorry Professor. My mother was hospitalized a couple of weeks ago and I've been running back and forth to Bluewater."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," returned Professor Jones with a syrupy voice. "Please let me know if there's anything I can do." I'm certain I know what he's referring to.
"Thank you Professor Jones," I said. "I'll call you if I need anything."
I hung up my phone and walked up the stairs to the dorm library.
Whatever happened between Angelica and her family seems to have taken a lot out of her. I mean, she isn't herself. I should be glad that she's not mooning over Garrett or Joel or any other guys, but she's spending a lot of time moping around in general.
I think Angelica needs to get away from everything. If exams weren't coming up in a month, I'd book a long weekend at Twikki Island. But I've got the next best thing; I won two tickets to the grand opening of the exclusive new "Eden Express" resort in Uptown. Four days away from the worries of the real world will do the both of us a world of good.
Angelica was in the dorm's reading room; I hid my surprise at finding her studying. "Hey, any word from home?" I asked her.
"My little brother Mal texted me before. Mama seems to be doing fine, but Daddy isn't taking any chances. He won't even let her drive; the butler is chauffeuring her everywhere. Her doctors still don't know what caused her to collapse like that."
"As long as she's doing better." I paused for a moment. "Hey, you know that Eden Express is having it's grand opening. Guess who managed to get a pair of tickets?"
I tried not to roll my eyes. "Besides Garrett."
I let out a deep breath. Angelica still seemed a bit out of it. "And me." Angelica gave me a surprised look. "Yeah. I couldn't believe it myself. Anyhow, I was wondering if you'd like to go with me.”
Ajay’s offer floored me. “Me? You’re sure you want me to go?”
“Who else would I ask?” My mind counted off a few women I knew Ajay was involved with before he continued. “I feel bad about being so rude to you the other day, after everything you’ve been through with your mother. And I have a feeling that a long weekend at a luxury hotel may be what the doctor ordered for you.”
“You’re taking up medical school?” I teased him.
“No way.” Ajay grinned. “From what I’ve heard about my brother-in-law going through med school, it takes a dedicated person to take up that profession.” His handsome face turned serious. “But you really do need a break from it all, and this is the perfect opportunity.”
I only thought for a moment. “That sounds great. Thanks Ajay.”
Angelica stood and embraced me. I don’t know what kind of reaction I was expecting, but this didn’t seem to be it.
Ah well... the weekend will probably be a good thing.
Posted 17 September 2011 - 02:30 AM
It took two hours for the bus ride from La Fiesta Tech to the Eden Express in the Uptown Shopping District. Actually, the Eden Express was a bit further outside of Uptown. I was surprised that Angelica and Ajay took the bus as well. But then, who really wants to drive for two hours?
Everyone’s mouths dropped open as the bus pulled up in front of the Eden Express. The place is amazing! I don’t know if it was glass, plastic, crystal, or what, but the whole roof seemed to be a see-through dome. I guess the best description could be a building out of a science fiction movie. I couldn’t help wondering if some of the architects from La Fiesta Tech’s Strangetown campus, who designed all the new futuristic buildings on campus, had a hand in designing the Eden Express.
As we got off the bus, I spied Maya and Rebecca. Nervously I checked my pocket to make sure the engagement ring was still there. “Hi,” I said to them before I kissed Maya. “You’re a sight for sore eyes,” I whispered to her. Her face flushed that odd shade of green that it does when she blushes. It doesn’t matter - it just makes her look prettier.
“So how was the trip?” she asked me.
“Boringly uneventful. Which means hopefully that this will be a very exciting weekend.”
Maya and I arrived at the Eden Express before anyone else. Let’s just say... wow! The whole ground had been sculpted so that it sort of looked like a movie/science fiction type planet landscape. In the middle stood a combination of metal and either glass, plastic, Plexiglas... I don’t know, but it looked futuristic and fragile, but it’s probably pretty strong. I couldn’t wait to get inside, but, well, we had to wait for the guys.
A bus pulled up near where Maya and I waited. Three people departed the bus, two of them carrying suitcases. Maya’s boyfriend Garrett came over and greeted us before kissing Maya. I couldn’t help chuckling. I doubt they planned it, but both Maya and Garrett were wearing red jackets and black pants. Talk about being on the same wavelength.
I only recognized one of the other two people who got off the bus. Want a way to ruin your weekend? Spend it with Angelica Landgraab. I wonder if Joel knows she’s here with some other guy. I met him a couple of times when I’d gone to visit Joel. I think his name was Jay or something like that.
Scott had the longest ride of any of us, so he was supposed to have left early so he’d get here the same time as everyone else. We waited for a few minutes. Angelica and the guy went to go get registered. Suddenly my cell phone rang. “Hey babe,” said Scott.
“Where are you?” I demanded. “You should have been here by now. Everyone is waiting for you to show up!”
“About that... well... um... I missed the bus.”
“What?!?” I screamed into the phone. Maya and Garrett stared at me.
“It’s OK babe,” Scott assured me. “I managed to get the next bus. Seriously, I’m getting on it right now. I’ll be there a couple of hours late, but I’m on my way. Go ahead and check in. Love ya!”
I need to get a flip phone - there’s no satisfaction in punching the end call button.
“Let me guess. Scott’s going to be late,” said Maya as Garrett rolled his eyes.
“How did you guess?”
“When we were growing up, my cousin had two alarm clocks by the names of Maddie and Nate. Nothing short of the two of them leaping into his bed would wake him up,” chuckled Garrett
“Of course, that’s gotten him into trouble more than once,” added Maya. “Like the time the twins put gum in his hair when he was sleeping.”
“At least that made him get rid of that God-awful mullet,” returned Garrett. “Before he left for college, they snuck into his room. He was out to the world - didn’t even feel when the twins used Uncle Jimmy’s electric razor to give him a buzz cut.”
“Sounds like something Zachary, Esther, and Jacob would do to Geoff,” I laughed. My youngest three siblings loved to team up to torment Geoff, the middle child in our family.
“We may as well get checked in,” suggested Maya. “Ajay and Angelica already went on ahead.”
The others appeared to be waiting for Rebecca’s date/Garrett’s cousin, so Angelica and I decided to head inside... except we discovered one very big problem. We couldn’t find a front door.
“What kind of crazy place is this?” Angelica asked as we circled the building.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. We made our way back to the front just as the others approached.
“Scott’s running late,” Garrett explained. “We’re going to check in.”
“Good luck,” I told him. “We couldn’t find a door.”
I looked at Ajay. “You can’t find a door?”
Ajay shrugged. “See for yourself.”
On first inspection, there weren’t any observable doors. Logically the best place to start would be at the end of the main path. As we approached the building, a figure appeared - walking through the wall and stopping to wait for us. “Greetings,” said a soft, lilting, female voice. “I am Alpha. Welcome to the Eden Express.” The voice sounded almost human. Alpha looked like a woman wearing a silver jumpsuit, mask, and something hard covering her hair. Probably one of the employees in costume. Alpha continued: “Beta will see to your bags.” A male form dressed similarly to Alpha seemed to walk straight through the wall. He approached our suitcases and hefted them easily. “Your party is complete?” asked Alpha.
“We have one more person coming,” Rebecca told her.
Alpha was silent for a moment, as if thinking about what we just said. “Please, follow me,” she returned in her odd voice.
We all blinked in surprise as first Alpha, then Beta walked back through the wall. After exchanging uncertain glances we followed the “robots” and walked through the wall. Alpha waited for us; Beta was nowhere to be seen. The female “robot” stepped on a glass disk and disappeared. “Neat,” said Rebecca. She hopped on the disk and disappeared. Shrugging, I followed. One by one we appeared in what must have been the main lobby.
“I will process your tickets now,” said Alpha.
As Rebecca, Ajay, and Garrett presented the tickets to Alpha, I looked around the lobby. I wouldn’t call it a science fiction set, but it looked like an ultra-modern room with straight line designs on the furniture, high contrasting colors, and gleaming metal accents.
Even though I didn’t see any cameras, I had the distinct feeling we were being watched.
Posted 17 September 2011 - 02:59 AM
I watched the monitor as Alpha processed the latest batch of “guests”. The fact that one of their party was missing distressed me... more so than the fact that one of them was not purely human. The project required equal numbers of males and females. One of the females told Alpha that another person would be joining their party. Hopefully this one would be male, and would be on time.
As an anthropologist, I was pleased at the genetic diversity amongst the latest group, though the appearance of the Celesan hybrid surprised me. I did not realize they were present in this region. Her presence could present problems.
“Everything is progressing on schedule?” asked Number Two as he seated himself in the other command chair. When we reach the ranks of the observers, we give up our name and address each other by our ranks. Number Two is a logistician; he is the one in charge of managing our portion of the endeavour.
“A few more ‘guests’ are due to arrive; the schedule will not be interrupted.”
Number Two glanced at the monitor in front of me. “A Celesan? We were told only members of the dominant human species.”
“Most likely a Celesan hybrid - half human, half Celesan,” I returned. “It appears that Pleasantview has a higher population than previously mentioned.”
“I will report this; her presence could jeopardize the mission.”
“I highly doubt that,” I returned as I went to more directly observe the guests. Number Two worries about variables; I am more interested in interactions. The design of the “resort” allowed me several ways to see without being seen. Once the guests settled into their rooms, they began dispersing to enjoy the amenities provided by the “resort.”
I decided to monitor the Celesan female; most likely I would need to justify her continued presence among the guests or decide that she would need to be removed; it would even the numbers, should the other male not arrive on time. She and one of the human males chose a room set up with something the people of this world called a “hot tub.” The two of them apparently already share a pair-bonding type of relationship, though they were young to have entered into a formal partnership in the method of this world. I felt like a voyeur as I observed the Celesan and the human in their intimate moments. Though neither one wore any of the tokens of partnership from this world, I could tell they were already a mated pair. Reluctantly I pulled myself away. I find the mating practices of some species fascinating - however, when dealing with fully sentient beings, observations can feel like watching your own kind in situations when you know you should not be a witness.
Some of the other humans engaged in the other recreational activities provided. By the standards set down by the committees, these would be perfect subjects for the project.
Though I could hear the names the humans used for each other, for anthropological observation reasons, we would not be able to use them in formal reports. The committee had yet to decide on the identification method as of yet. Other humans arrived. Oddly enough, my thoughts kept being drawn to the Celesan. She needed to remain a part of the study. Of that I was certain.
As this world’s sun began to set, the guests retired to their rooms to change into formal attire prior to the evening meal. During this period, Beta reported that one of the females received a cell phone transmission that her missing partner’s transport had been delayed, but he believed his arrival would be within the next few hours. I was still concerned. To distract myself, I turned my attention to the guests.
I found the choices the humans made in formal attire interesting. The males’ attire covered their entire bodies in multiple layers; the females’ chose one layer garments that left their shoulders, necks, and backs uncovered while metal and gem adornments decorated the exposed areas. During the dinner, I noticed that in several instances the guests engaged in the behavior known as “flirting,” but in general many of the discussions were of the type referred to as “small talk.” The male that had been with the Celesan hybrid female appeared anxious throughout the meal; his partner and the other female at the table appeared unaware of this fact. Perhaps the reason was that several other human males’ facial expressions denoted interest in his female. Though these guests were young to be fully mated, several of his actions towards her were possessive, indicating a form of mate guarding.
Alpha and Beta cleared the dinner dishes. Several guests moved to an area clear of tables and began to dance. A few danced in pairs; others began a rather amusing group dance. After the dancing ended most of the guests returned to the tables to await the serving of the final, sweet portion of the meal. The Celesan hybrid and her human companion lingered. As I watched, he knelt on one knee and professed his feelings for her out loud. Her face turned a darker shade of green. Then the male pulled a small box from a pocket of his clothes and opened it. The female’s face suddenly changed from dark green to pale green. I was able to zoom in the camera to determine that the box contained a circle of one of this world’s precious metals set with a gem-like mineral. She removed the circle and slipped it on her finger, then threw herself passionately into the male’s arms. From all previous reports, I gathered that I had witnessed one of this world’s pre-bonding ceremonies. By presenting the token the male expressed his desire for her to become his permanent mate and by accepting the token she agreed. The reports said that according to this world’s rituals there will be a formal ceremony of bonding in the future after which the two become lifemates.
I was very excited about this development. First of all, I had never witnessed this pre-bonding ritual first hand. Second, for the success of our mission, mated couples are vital. The sooner they are mated the better. By the time the second phase of the mission begins, these subjects will be fully of mating age. Most of those assembled appeared enthusiastic about the event except one. I noticed that a red-haired female of the group appeared to be a mixture of angered and disappointed. My suspicion is that she had designs on becoming the mate of the male instead of the Celesan hybrid female. She was one of the last to offer congratulations to the couple. Her expression clearly betrayed her feelings.
One of the other males handed a device the humans called a cell phone to the the couple. Beta reported an outgoing transmission: I do not know if it is a custom of this world, but the pre-bonded male sent out recordings of the ceremony to multiple recipients (apparently to prove that he has chosen this female as his mate).
The guests eventually returned to their rooms. I was interested to find that the disappointed female had seeming rebounded and redirected her interest back to the male with whom she had been flirting earlier. The lone female still waited for her partner. Her next call to him only resulted in “be there soon.” Before I could determine what “soon” meant, Alpha approached me. “Number Two is in conference with the Master Observer. Your presence is required.”
Posted 17 September 2011 - 03:01 AM
“And your thoughts, Number One?” asked the Master Observer.
“This Celesan’s presence is vital,” I returned. “One of the males exchanged tokens of intent to become lifemates with her. If we attempt to force him to choose a new mate, the chances are slim that it will be successful. And according to the reports from the earlier scouting parties and the collection team in Strangetown, Celesans have been using this world for experimentation for centuries. Some of those collected, while appearing fully human, may have Celesan genetics from four or five generations past.”
“I agree,” said the Master Observer. Number Two’s surprise must have been so evident that the Master Observer added “Allow me to explain. According to genetic testing of the existing subjects from Phase One of the mission, Celesan genetic markers are already present, though they are not dominant. The Celesans have been experimenting on this world for perhaps at least two centuries. The observation party from Strangetown have also reported Celesans amongst their guests.” The Master Oberver drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “The Pollination Technicians of Celes and their government are protesting the current events at the Interplanetary Coalition. They seek to preserve the status quo, citing that many years of research will be lost. However, they are the only ones. The rest of the council is either apathetic towards this world or have received bribes to dissuade their interference. In fact, there are those on the coalition who seek to speed things up. Our collection needs to begin immediately. The guests that you have will need to suffice.”
Number Two and I glanced at each other in surprise. “We were supposed to have another full cycle of this world’s day,” protested Number Two.
“My apologies. I want all parties away and the ship leaving this solar system as soon as possible. The mothership has been alerted to watch for your signal.”
“Yes, Master Observer,” we said in unison before the transmission ended.
“I will have Beta see to the guests, then Alpha and I will send the signal,” I told Number Two. He nodded and began to adjust the controls.
By now, most of the guests should have been asleep. A gas would fill their sleeping chambers to keep them sedated until Beta could move them into the stasis chambers. I departed the hidden control room to begin preparations when I suddenly found myself face to face with one of the guests; I recognized her as the one whose partner had not yet arrived.
“Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “What... what are you?”
I only smiled as Beta silently moved behind her, then I nodded to the android. His hand came up to her mouth, spraying her face with the sedative gas. She collapsed into his arms. “Please place this guest in one of the stasis chambers, then prepare the rest of them. We leave tonight.” Beta nodded, then took the female to ready her for the journey.
Alpha joined me outside. We assembled the device to signal the mothership; it would self destruct after our departure and help hide our previous presence. A silly measure in my opinion and a waste of resources. However, this had been pre-planned without my participation.
Beta approached us. “All of the guests are secured,” he reported. “Number Two informed me that we are ready for departure.”
“Excellent.” Alpha and I followed Beta inside. Beta made one last check of the stasis chambers containing our precious cargo. With a pang of regret, I glanced at the empty stasis chamber. Hopefully this would not affect the mission too much. I do consider it a small victory that the Celesan was allowed to remain; I would enjoy observing her and her mate.
“The mothership’s arrival is imminent,” Alpha informed me. Nodding I joined Number Two in the command room and we readied ourselves for collection.
A small, dilapidated car puttered its way down the road. One of its occupants, crammed into a too small back seat, sighed with relief. The entire journey had nearly been a failure - first missing the bus, then the bus broke down twice - at least he was able to finally hitch a ride to Uptown with some other college students who had been headed into Pleasantview to visit relatives. The car barely went at 25 miles per hour. Trying to push it to 30 resulted in a temporary stall. He’d already had enough setbacks on his trip but better late than never. Finally the Eden Express was in sight.
Suddenly the ground began to glow; the grass appeared to be on fire. Over the horizon came a green glowing disk. It hovered over the Eden Express and illuminated it in a red glow. Then the building disappeared.
The people in the vehicle watched in a stunned silence; the only source of light coming from the burning ground. One young man finally jumped out of the car and ran towards where the building previously stood; red hot rock stopped him.
“NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” the others in the car heard him scream. “GARRETT! MAYA! REBBBBEEEECCCAAAA!!!!!!”
Posted 22 September 2011 - 11:02 PM
Phew! That was not expected though - I was thinking, 'ooh, they'll have a nice spa trip, and Garrett'll propose, and then they'll all go home, and life goes back to normal.' Super looking forward to what's gonna happen next...
Off to remember how to breath properly :lol:
'You reap what you sow. If you don't like carrots, don't plant carrot seeds!'
Posted 24 September 2011 - 04:28 AM
Plans within plans...
might have some people very angry... :devil:
Posted 06 October 2011 - 07:49 PM
Posted 21 April 2012 - 02:43 AM
Stacy and I were curled together under the covers, contentedly snuggled together. lue1.jpg 52.98K 10 downloads Earlier Garrett had sent us a video of him popping the question to Maya. It was about time. I have to admit, we did wonder how Angelica reacted. Stacy said we’d definitely hear about it once everyone was back from their trip.
Or at least, we thought we would.
My ringing cell phone woke us. I glanced at the number and yawned. “Don’t tell me Scott still didn’t make it yet,” I muttered as Stacy looked at me. “Do you know what time it is?” I told my cousin after I punched the call button. lue2.jpg 51.06K 14 downloads
“They’re gone!” exclaimed Scott.
Scott started this long story about space ships lue3.jpg 30.05K 14 downloads
and the Eden Express disappearing. I had put the phone on speaker so Stacy could hear. It was almost too weird.
“Okay Scott, what have you been eating or drinking?”
“NOTHING!” my cousin exclaimed. “And there’s four other people who saw it too!” lue4.jpg 54.85K 14 downloads I heard sirens in the background. “The police and fire department are here. Oh man, what am I gonna do? Garrett, Maya, and Rebecca are GONE!”
While I tried to get Scott to calm down, Stacy fiddled with her cell phone. Suddenly her face went pale. She handed me her cell phone, which showed me a news story. “Oh my God...” I muttered as I stared at the screen.
“What? What is it?” Scott asked.
“Every single Eden Express that opened up in the entire world has disappeared.”
Stacy and I stared at each other, our jaws hanging open.
Yawning, I walked into the hallway. Everyone in the dorm sat with their faces glued to the television. lue5.jpg 67.63K 14 downloads Last time this happened was the NBA finals. “What’s up?” I asked, stifling another yawn. Desiree was embroiled in a discussion on her cell phone. lue6.jpg 61.39K 14 downloads Adham and Vanity looked at me.
“The Eden Express disappeared,” said Adham in a low voice.
“Wait... whoa... the Eden Express? Isn’t that the resort where Scott was supposed to go with Rebecca?” I asked in confusion.
“Scott didn’t make it to the resort on time... and that may be a good thing,” stated David as he swallowed hard. On the TV, several people walked around a crater. The camera zoomed in on a familiar face. I listened incredulously as Scott told a crazy and improbable story. We all gawked at the tv screen.
A reporter appeared. “Eyewitness reports from Strangetown, Veronaville, and other places across the world corroborate the witness accounts from Pleasantview. “Local scientists, Cameron Wilkeson and Jennifer Gillman, and Pleasantview’s expert on aliens, Dr. Billy Bob Hillbilly are on the scene. lue7.jpg 76.43K 16 downloads It appears as if they’ve finished their preliminary inspection and are returning to talk to the witnesses. Perhaps we can get a word with them.”
The scene shifted to the newsroom. “While Kyle sees if the scientists are ready to make a statement, let us switch to our sister station in Strangetown where Emma Watkins interviewing the alien that many people know as “Mr. Smith’, who in the past has claimed to be a retired ‘Pollination Technician’ from the Planet Celes. Emma?”
As the interview began, Desiree ended her call. “That was my cousin Adam. He’s the first person Scott called after this happened. Adam said Scott is a wreck. He arrived about a minute before the building disappeared.” She took a deep breath. “Scott saw everything that happened.”
Things began slowly to sink in. My jaw dropped open - I could only stare at her. lue8.jpg 58.09K 13 downloads I didn’t believe it - I couldn’t believe it - I had to know for myself. Slowly I dialed my cousin Rebecca’s cell phone. After a few rings, it went to her voice mail. “It’s gotta be off,” I muttered softly. Desiree put her hand on my shoulder.
“Adam and Stacy already tried calling Garrett and Maya a dozen times,” she told me quietly.
My cell phone rang; I answered it hopefully without even looking at the caller id. “Hey,” my brother Stewart’s voice came across the phone. lue9.jpg 53.71K 7 downloads
“This isn’t happening,” I said to him. “This has to be a bad dream.”
“It’s not a dream,” my twin returned. “I’ve been on the phone with Joel - he’s a wreck. Rebecca’s not the only one missing. You remember Angelica Landgraab?”
“How could I forget? I couldn’t get her to leave me alone in high school.”
“She’s gone too. So are two other guys from Joel’s dorm. La Fiesta Tech’s campus is in a total uproar. Things are crazy here at Academie Le Tour as well. It’s not just Rebecca that’s missing; Maya Terrano, a friend of ours, went with Rebecca to the Eden Express. The press is all over the place.”
The news returned to the scene of the Pleasantview Eden Express. “Stewart, there’s something on the news. Let me call you back.”
I disconnected the call and turned back to the tv.
Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:08 AM
Tragedy has struck our lives in so many ways. Losing Maya and Rebecca is painful enough. They have become two of my best friends. Everyone is taking it hard. Chelsea, Jasper, and Andrew grew up with Maya; Stewart is Rebecca’s cousin.
There are people who have become desperate for someone to blame in the mass disappearances... and my people are an easy target. Reporters do not appear concerned with those of Celesan descent, like Maya’s family. They were born here in Pleasantview with only two known exceptions (Maya’s mother, and the man known as Pollination Technician 9). We Sh’kaarans arrived on this world seeking asylum and have been here less than four years. Despite my best efforts, my people also have not integrated themselves into society well. Therefore we appear to be an easy target.
Without discussing it with my people, I decided to take action as the sole survivor of the imperial family. My friends supported my decision. And so I held my first (and hopefully only) press conference. lue10.jpg 53.79K 5 downloads
“Thank you for coming,” I addressed the people at an auditorium on the university campus. “I would like to clear up some misconceptions about my people that have occurred in the aftermath of the current tragedy. Please understand that, in terms of space travel ability, my people were like the ones of this world. Perhaps even more backwards. My people on Sh’kaar did not have air travel; we moved by land or water. Beings who came from the stars was a myth in which was hidden a grain of truth. One of our people, in desperation, decided to test the legend, and in doing so, made contact with a race of beings capable of travelling between worlds. They were a race of scientists - the same people responsible for those of alien birth on this planet. Our representative reached an agreement with these aliens, who evacuated those they could to different worlds.” I took a deep breath. Jasper, who was seated in the front row, gave me a smile of encouragement. lue11.jpg 62.64K 7 downloads “Many were not lucky enough to escape the war. I am the sole survivor of my homeland’s ruling family. Everyone, from my great grand aunts and uncles to my niece barely weeks old, was killed in the wars that threatened our entire world. Only a twist of fate kept me away while the rest of my family died. Like many others of my kind, I was brought to Pleasantview. We have created new lives for ourselves in your society.”
lue12.jpg 57.79K 7 downloadsI took another deep breath. “My people and I are grateful for those who have sheltered and guided us in adapting to this new world. Amongst those taken are two people who have become like sisters to me. We Sh’kaarans join the rest of this world in begging for the return of our friends and loved ones.”
A few reporters questioned me. I answered truthfully and to the best of my ability. The whole event left me drained, but I hope that I have cleared up some misconceptions and brought my people a bit of peace.
Now if only our friends would be returned to us.
It’s become a media circus around the dorm. The sad thing is, the press is only concerned about the fact that Angelica Landgraab, daughter of the Landgraab family who founded many places in Pleasantview, and Garrett Dawson, son of actor/director/producer Eric Dawson, are missing and all the reporters want is soundbites from those of us in the dorm. Even though Ajay’s mother is the publisher of Pleasantview’s only Simdian magazine, he’s been largely forgotten. And of course, Joel is the twin of another missing student AND the son of Chief Justice Ruben.
Sadly, the press forgets that the missing people ARE people... and that we miss them and their disappearances are leaving us big empty spots in our hearts. I almost applauded when Garrett’s grandfather grabbed a reporter’s mic and threw it on the ground.
Poor Joel. lue13.jpg 66.75K 8 downloadsI think he really liked Angelica (though we can’t be sure how she really felt about him). But to lose your twin... I think the guy is in agony. We’ve caught him bursting into tears, stating loudly that Rebecca isn’t dead. He doesn’t sleep or eat much. Stacy sympathizes with him. Even though she and Chelsea have been at odds over the years, I think if one of them went missing the other would be devastated. The same for any of my younger siblings, all of whom are sets of twins.
Which is also one of the reasons losing both Maya and Garrett hurts so much. I was the only one without a twin in my family. I was so close with both Maya and Garrett growing up that jokingly they were called my “twins”. Maya has practically been a sister to me; my parents and her father were best friends growing up. Stacy and Maya have been best friends since second grade.
Scott is a mess. lue14.jpg 44.89K 8 downloads I try to talk to him every day. My cousin Desiree, David Ottomas, and some of their other dorm mates have been keeping an eye on Scott to make sure he doesn’t do anything rash. David said that it’s like watching a ghost of a man. Even though Scott, Garrett, and Maya had their difficulties in high school, they were still good friends. And from what we can tell, he was really in love with Joel’s sister Rebecca.
Desiree told me that’s created a whole new set of problems. Apparently Scott is in the dorm with Rebecca and Joel’s cousin Christian (who is also Desiree’s boyfriend). Christian and Rebecca were close like me and Garrett. Scott blames himself for not being there when the Eden Express disappeared... and Christian blames him as well. The two of them had been friendly; now there is nearly all out war.
Maya and Rebecca’s disappearance has also sent the press into a frenzy at Academie Le Tour. Chelsea told Stacy that everyone practically has to sneak to classes. What’s really sad is that some reporters have taken pot shots at Per’la Sh’kaar, just because she is alien (alien as in “came here to live on our world” as opposed to the Hillbillies and the Giekes, who were born in Pleasantview with a human parent). Per’la stated, on behalf of her fellow Sh’kaarans, that there was no way her people could have been involved. From what she explained, her people were not capable of space travel on their own; the alien pollination technicians responsible for a large chunk of Maya’s family are the ones who brought the Sh’kaarans to our world.
God, what a nightmare! Don’t these reporters ever sleep? Scott’s told his story so many times that he’s numb. I’ve started chasing off some of those morons so we can get a bit of peace and quiet. lue15.jpg 71.42K 8 downloads
Doesn’t help much that every time he and Christian are in the same room, Christian just stares daggers at him. lue16.jpg 56.59K 6 downloads Sure, Christian lost his cousin... but so did Scott. Scott lost a cousin, a best friend, and the love of his life... and Scott witnessed it all. But all Christian cares about is losing Rebecca.
It got so bad that the other day Adham and David had to pull Christian off of Scott. What’s scary is Scott just sat there and let it happen. It’s like the guy’s developed a death wish. Desiree’s become a bit of a ‘pickle in the middle’. She’s in love with Christian, but Scott is her cousin’s cousin, and they sort of grew up together. Anyhow, she’s been calling their cousin Adam to try to talk some sense into Scott. Supposedly Adam and his girlfriend Stacy are going to drive out here on the weekend.
Christian’s twin Stewart came out here a couple of days ago. We’ve met him a few times before when he and Rebecca visited Christian. Stewart told us that sometimes his family used to joke that the twins got switched around, and that Christian and Rebecca should’ve been twins, and he and Joel (Rebecca’s brother) should’ve been twins. He also explained that Christian and Rebecca had very similar personalities.
Stewart also said that the press surrounding Academie Le Tour is worse than here, since there are at least 2 missing students and an alien princess there.
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