The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Four - Part 6


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The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Four - Part 6

  1. 1. Welcome back! In an incredibly brief recap, Lillian Devereaux, the disowned heiress of Generation Three made what she thought was a triumphant return, revealing that in a total ninja move, Mary was technically her son Zane. Because of this, and the fact that Mary is the heir, Lillian thought that by default, that made her the legitimate Generation Three heiress. After she had finished monologuing, outing Kitty as a SimSelf in the process, she was preparing to kill Mary and claim Eden as her own grandchild when the Grim Reaper showed up and stopped her, only stating that Lillian was wrong and that he would return to explain everything. Okay, so maybe that wasn't so brief. Anyway, picking up where we last left off, I bring you The Devereaux Legacy: Chapter Four – Part 6 “On a Pale Horse.” ***
  2. 2. Lillian looked around in the area that she and Thanatos had been walking. It felt as if they had been traveling forever, yet at the same time, it felt like it was only moments before that the Grim Reaper had so rudely interrupted her moment of triumph.
  3. 3. The area was devoid of all decoration except for one tree, and that lone tree looked odd against the strange orange sky and barren ground. She stifled a sigh of impatience. Though Thanatos was no longer touching her, her powers were still suppressed, and she was growing worried; a feeling most uncommon to her.
  4. 4. Out of nowhere a tiny graveyard appeared, guarded by a white horse, which seemed to be eating invisible grass. The Grim Reaper stepped forward and patted the horse on its flank. “Thank you for waiting, Palus. I told you I would not be long.” The horse snorted in what distinctly sounded like disgust. The Grim Reaper chuckled a bit. “I know my friend, but it was something I needed to do. You ought to know by now that I am not the same as your former master.”
  5. 5. As the horse nudged the Grim Reaper with its head, Lillian spoke in an imperious tone, irritated at being ignored. “Thanatos! I demand that you tell me where we are! How dare you interrupt my plans, you have no right! Death is not to interfere with the mortal realm!” Without turning to look at her, the Grim Reaper stated calmly, “You are in no position to make demands. However, I will tell you where we are. Through that gate is the entrance to the Punished Realm, a Purgatory if you will. You will take up residence there for one generation and a day to assure that you will not be able to legitimately lay claim as an heir to the Devereaux family.”
  6. 6. ”You cannot do that!” Grim turned to look at her. “I can and will. You do not have to step through the gate, but you should know that if you do not, you will expire here. It is only through my force of will alone that you have not done so already. However, I cannot remain here forever.” Grim shrugged. “It is your choice.”
  7. 7. Lillian glared at Grim while he stared impassively back. “Who do you think you are?” she hissed. Grim ignored her question and he asked one of his own. “Tell me, did you love your son?” Lillian was taken aback by the complete randomness of his question. “That has absolutely no bearing on what is going on now. I will ask you again: Just who do you think you are?” Again Grim deflected her question and repeated his own. “Did you love your son?” Lillian sighed, vexed. “Why don’t you ask the other bearers of Reaper Children--?” “They are not standing here before me. You are. Answer my question. Please, I would like to know.”
  8. 8. She smirked. “Clearly you are not as informed as you ought to be. Surely you must mean to ask if I love my daughter.” Grim shook his head. “I have already stated that you are wrong in that assumption. Mary is not Zane. Mary is Mary, another Reaper Child clone who is very much loved by her family, despite her flaws. For the third and final time I will repeat my question: Did. You. Love. Your. Son?!”
  9. 9. Lillian rolled her eyes at his insistence. “No.” she stated plainly. “He was merely a means to an end; a pawn for me to use as I tried to reassert myself into my rightful place as heir. He was flawed, however. He was not the evil minion I had hoped for. He was too weak, too kind, and too nice. I am ashamed that I bore him--” Her words were interrupted as Grim spoke a single, magical word. Lillian’s mouth dropped open in complete surprise.
  10. 10. Zane stared back at his mother, sadly. “I never wanted to believe it. I thought if I loved you enough that you would love me back. I was young and naïve. I’ve grown up a bit though, and I now understand that you are incapable of loving anyone but yourself. I am not flawed. You are. “It is strange that you view my kindness as a weakness, for it is that weakness that has ultimately saved you. I cannot bring myself to permanently remove you, but I also cannot allow you to be a threat to the rest of my family. So, I will leave you here, neutralized. That is all I can do without drawing too much attention.”
  11. 11. Zane mounted the patiently waiting Palus, clearly getting ready to leave. He turned back to Lillian. “As I said, you need to go through the gate if you want to…well it’s not necessarily live, but if you want to survive. You will only have a few moments after I leave before you start actually dying. Believe it or not, that would sadden me a great deal, so I hope you will go through.” He gave her one last, sad look. “Goodbye, Momma.” At that, Zane, riding his pale horse, disappeared.
  12. 12. Lillian felt the effects of the Dead Realm immediately. Gasping for air, she stumbled into the small graveyard as the gate shut behind her.
  13. 13. When she regained her composure she glared at the small mausoleum, assuming that the doorway to Purgatory was underneath the lid. Grinding her teeth, she muttered, “Setting me to the side won’t decrease the anger, my son. I will most certainly make you pay for this.” She lifted the lid and began walking down the long stairway, the lid closing over her. ***
  14. 14. Tina looked nervously at the Devereaux house as she cuddled Karen against the cold. She sincerely hoped, with all of her heart, that Mary wasn’t home. She just wanted to find out what happened to Goopy as he hadn’t been around for a while. She suspected that Goopy had found another girlfriend since Karen took up a lot of her time. But he promised that he would help pay for the baby. Tina had no food at home and she had been fired from her job since she couldn’t afford a babysitter, which forced her to stay home with the child. So, she had the wild hope that maybe if Goopy saw his other daughter, he would feel guilty enough to start paying for Karen’s needs. It was the last thing she could think of to do.
  15. 15. Holding her breath, she was about to ring the doorbell when the door was thrown open. Sebastian stormed out, followed by Kitty. “Sebby, where are you going?” Kitty asked him in a panicked voice, reaching out to grab his arm. “Gee Kit, you’re God, don’t you know exactly what I’m going to do every second of the day?” Sebastian angrily shouted, jerking his arm away from her. “I told you that-” “You told me a lot of things! I can’t believe that I actually ever believed a single word that ever came out of your mouth!” “Sebastian, that’s not fair! I love-” “NO! I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT!”
  16. 16. Tina tried to make herself inconspicuous, wishing that she had chosen a different day to come over. She slowly started to back away when Sebastian noticed her. “What do you want?” he asked through clenched teeth. As she silently prayed for the earth to swallow her whole, Tina opened her mouth to answer. Karen beat her to the punch, though. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” the child repeated over and over. Kitty raised her hand to her brow. “Oh, Tina,” she whispered, “now is not the time.” Sebastian’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the toddler in Tina’s arms. “You know who she…wait, of COURSE you know who she is! Well, I don’t need to be a GOD to know that this is the useless tramp that my esteemed son-in-law has been WooHooing with on the side. Let me guess, you’re in some sort of trouble that only the heroic Goopy can solve because he’s so dreamy, right? Well, fine then!” He grabbed Tina’s arm and ushered her into the house.
  17. 17. Sebastian practically dragged her into the dining room where Goopy had made himself a feast of grilled cheese sandwiches. Smiling vacantly up at Tina, Goopy said, “Would you care for a grilled cheese sandwich? It helps purify the mind, body, and soul. They taste great, too!” Tina shook her head, horrified. “N..No thank you.” Goopy shrugged. “Your loss,” and he fell into his meal, clearly pleased that he didn’t have to share.
  18. 18. “Take him,” Sebastian angrily told her. “God knows that we don’t want him. Go ahead, take your sweet babboo home with you. That’s what you want, right?” “Sebastian,” Kitty started to say. “No! I’m not talking to you, Kitty! I‘m talking to her! What do you want? You want money? Well, let me inform you that Goopy only brought about a thousand simoleons. We can give you that much as well as Goopy himself! What a bargain! ”
  19. 19. “I’m sorry,” Tina said. “I’m real sorry. I made a mistake. This…this isn’t the house I was supposed to come to. I don’t know who that man is…” A thousand simoleons? That won’t even cover rent! She miserably thought to herself. “So you’re a liar, too. The world is full of them. Whatever.” Sebastian cast one final glare at Kitty, then stormed out of the house.
  20. 20. Kitty wiped a tear from her eye as Tina began to slowly make her way to the door. “I’m sorry,” Tina whispered. “I’m sorry too, Tina. This…this was not a good day for extra confrontation. But, you didn’t know.” Hope completely gone from her eyes, Tina grimly nodded, seeing Kitty pick up the phone before she walked out the door. ***
  21. 21. “Why are you worried?” Keith asked me. “You have that Bat Box thing if he gets out of hand.” “I'm not going to Smite him! It'll just make him hate me more!” “Well...can I Smite him then? I've always wanted to use that thing, but you won't let me.” “There is a very good reason for that, you know. I wouldn't have anybody left alive if I let you use it!” Keith muttered something under his breath about that being the entire point, but I tuned him out. Instead, I thought about the phone call I had just received from Kitty, the first one she's ever made the entire time she's been in my world. All she said to me was, 'He knows, and he's on his way over.' I didn't get the entire story, but to tell the truth, I really didn't need it. I mean, come on, I am the author. That didn't make me feel any better, knowing that Sebastian was going to hate me like his grandfather, Josh, did. And that hurt, because I liked Sebastian so much more than I ever liked my founder. I took a deep breath when I heard him pounding on my door.
  22. 22. As I opened it, I couldn't help but wince when I saw how angry he looked. “Hi Sebastian,” I began. “Cut the crap. Did you kill Tristen so Kitty could come in and marry me?” I sighed. “Why don't you come in-” “NO! I want you to tell me! Did you?” “Sebastian, there is not an easy way to answer that.” “I NEED TO KNOW!” I sighed again, waving my hand behind my back as I heard Keith start to get up. “Yes and no,” I finally answered. “What the HELL is that supposed to mean?” “Like I said, there is no easy way to answer that. Why don't you come in and then I'll try to explain.”
  23. 23. He stormed past me as I shut the door behind him, stalling for time, looking for the right words. Finally, I turned to face him. Before I could say anything, Sebastian took a deep breath, preparing to shout at me. “Be quiet,” I firmly told him. “I won't have you yelling at me.”
  24. 24. I could see him struggling to regain his composure while I waited patiently. “Why?” He finally asked, simply. I bit my lip. “There was something wrong with her. At least, I thought it was contained only in her. London Bridge was showing signs of instability and I sincerely thought that the things wrong with her was the main issue. I panicked. I thought that if she were removed, I would be able to save all of London Bridge. “I was new. I had all of these wild and crazy ideas for my world which didn't pan out in the end. I was showing my world in a completely different manner to the other people in SimSelf World than I do now. When Tristen became, um, we'll call it sick, I was at the end of my rope, frustrated. I was being too heavy handed when dealing with your family, but I couldn't undo the damage, both to you and to my world. I panicked.”
  25. 25. Sebastian flopped down upon my couch, ignoring the evil eye Keith was giving him. “So where does Kitty come into all of this?” I shrugged. “To be honest, she had good timing. She's liked you ever since you were a teenager. Of course, she didn't know that you had graduated college and were already married as SimSelf World didn't know it at that point. “She also didn't know that London Bridge was collapsing when she asked if she could have you in her world. I did, however. So I asked if she not only wanted you in her world, but if she wanted to also be in mine. Sebastian, she jumped at the opportunity, probably squeeing the entire time.” “ you traded me like-” “Like a baseball card, yes. The analogy has been used elsewhere. Believe me kiddo, you are not the first Sim to become Self Aware, nor are you the first Sim to be angry and hurt by that revelation. Nor are you the first Sim to decide to confront their creator, demanding answers. To be honest, I doubt you'll be the last.” “Jeebus H. Crikey! It must be so nice and easy sitting up on your little throne dictating everything that happens!”
  26. 26. “Nice? Easy? Sebastian, I'm not even scratching the surface of what being the creator of a universe entails! There's rebuilds, file corruption, flashing blue custom content, bad meshes, looking for decent genetics, portraits that go bad, good grammar, and proper spelling. Heck, that's only the technical side of it! “The presentation side, when done right, involves getting invested in your characters. Do you realize that your family is the first family I've ever really cared about? Did you know that your mother and Aunt Savannah are the first Sims I've ever cried over? My God! Do you know how depressed I'm going to be when you and Kitty die? I'm going to be a wreck! Being a creator means loving your creation, because if the creator doesn't, then the other people in SimSelf World won't either! “So no, Sebastian, it's not nice and easy. It kind of sucks and I can only hope that in the end, it will be worth it. And do you know why I'm telling you this? It's because I know you so well, that when you are done being angry with me, Kitty, and the world, that the Knowledge Sim part of you might find the entire concept fascinating.”
  27. 27. Sebastian sunk his head into his hands. “You made my life miserable on purpose,” he angrily whispered. I crouched down so I could look him in the eye. “I'm sorry, I really am. I felt really, really bad about doing it. But if you look at it closely, you've actually lived a very happy life afterwards. I kept Lillian away from you for a good portion of it for one, and secondly, Kitty suited you so much better, I made sure of it! You got to pursue not just one lifetime wish, but two, and your skills are all maxed out. “My God, Sebastian, you've practically led the perfect Knowledge Sim life! That's only here, I would like to add. I'm sure that in Kitty's world, you will be treated even better, as guest Legacy Sims usually are!”
  28. 28. I sat down on the couch next to him, as the crouching position had started killing my knees. “I'm sorry, Sebastian. I should have not withdrawn like I did, but I hope you'll understand when I continue to stay withdrawn.” I sighed for the umpteenth time that day. “I've learned a lot in these last few months, and I've learned how to not be so heavy handed. Believe it or not, ever since you all arrived in Pleasantview, most of the things that you've experienced were done by your own free will. Heck, even Amelia meeting and falling in love with Miles was done by free will, as much as I hated to see it.” Sebastian contemplated what I said. “But, you told me that Kitty liked me, way back when, at the bar.” I smiled. “Yeah, I did. You looked like you needed a confidence booster.” He smiled softly at the memory. “Don't be mad at Kitty,” I continued. “I told her not to tell you anything otherwise she would have been kicked out of my creation. It's not her fault. Also, when you go home, tell her that I said she can answer all of your questions regarding anything involving the SimSelf world.”
  29. 29. He stood up, getting ready to leave. I rose with him. “By the way, Sebastian? I know that you might not want to do me any favors, but could you kind of keep Goopy around?” He sputtered. “Why?!” “Okay, see, I kind of want his Grilled Cheese Platinum Tombstone. I'm not doing this for points, but it would still be nice to have. Lock him up in a different room, keep him away from Mary, whatever. It's not a very popular decision, I know, but I can think of a couple of SimSelves who might like to be imported just so they can dance on his grave,” I explained to him, not even bothering to hide behind the fourth wall any longer. “Absolutely not!” “I'll make sure that most of his fears come true,” I added in to sweeten the pot. “But, then he won't die a happy death, thus earning you the tombstone!” I grinned widely. “Well, after the incident with Lillian, he took it upon himself to wish for Eternal Happiness. It's all good.” His lips twitched. “I'll run it by Kitty.” “Good. Oh, there's one more thing,” I said.
  30. 30. Before he could say no, I pulled him into the hug that I had been desperately wanting to give him ever since he became heir. I tried very hard not to think about his rapidly dwindling life bar, but was unsuccessful. However, I was very proud of myself that when I spoke, he couldn't hear the thickness that had suddenly appeared in my throat. “Tell Kitty to show you the visual link to her world. I know that you will find it fascinating. Also, if you and yours ever have any questions, they can always come and talk to me. I might not be dictating everything like I did before, and I might not be able to answer them directly, but I will be here, even if it's just for me to apologize to them.” Bewildered, Sebastian just nodded and left. As I watched him walk down my front steps, I realized that I had essentially said goodbye to him; goodbye to my Sim who had been there almost from the very beginning. Their lives are so brief, and it was just going to get more and more painful with each heir I would have to say goodbye to. ***
  31. 31. When he got home, Sebastian made his way into the living room. Kitty hadn't noticed that he was standing there yet, so he was able to observe her as she disconsolately poked at the fire in the fireplace. Now that he had been reminded of it, he could once again sense the 'more there' feeling that had always accompanied her. But...that was just Kitty, the woman he had been married to for all of these years. That was part of her and one of the first things that had attracted him to her. A startling revelation entered his mind: Kitty had aged with him! He never thought about it before; the fact that his author had remained young. But if his author and Kitty were both SimSelves...
  32. 32. He walked over to her as Kitty warily turned to him. Silently he caressed her cheek. “You knew that by marrying me you wouldn't be an immortal, didn't you?” he asked. Kitty half shrugged. “I had a feeling. Typically, the spouse to a legacy heir ages and dies along with them. So, yeah, I kind of did.”
  33. 33. Gently, he kissed her, feeling her familiar form in his arms. “Thank you,” he whispered, “and I'm sorry. I was an idiot.” “Yeah, you were, but you're forgiven,” she replied back before accepting another kiss from him. ***
  34. 34. Mary lay on the bed, staring blankly at the ceiling as she willed herself not to cry. Her life was not as happy and perfect as she had wished for when she was a child. She half listened for Eden to wake up from her nap, and instead she heard someone enter the bedroom, but not through the door.
  35. 35. She didn’t look over when she felt the bed shift as someone sat down upon it. She could feel exactly who it was, though apparently he was not wearing his regular robes. “So, have you come here to kill me?” “I do not kill people. I only collect their souls when their time comes,” Zane responded serenely. “Semantics. Then, have you come here to ‘collect’ me?” “It is not just semantics. There is quite a bit of a difference. But no, I am not here to collect you. At least not today or tomorrow either. In fact, I’m sure you’ll live out a nice and long life before it is time for me to collect you, so you needn’t worry.” “Then what do you want?” “I wanted to see how you were doing, to be honest. Family Sim habits die hard.”
  36. 36. “Well, my life is miserable. I have a husband who has been cheating on me and is now a Grilled Cheese Sim. I have a mother who is not my mother and a father who is my mother. A brother who is not only not my twin, but only a half brother to boot. I’m a freak of nature and to top it all off, apparently I’m really a boy.” Zane sat eerily still as he listened to her mini rant, appearing not to breathe. When she was finished, his lips quirked slightly and he said, “Well, you most certainly are not a boy. You are lacking in some rather essential equipment to be called as such.” “No. That witch woman said that I was her son. I just happened to be reborn as a girl.” “You are not her son either. That very coveted title belongs to me,” he responded dryly. “Well, either way, my life isn’t perfect!”
  37. 37. Mary angrily got up from the bed to leave the room. Zane stood himself in front of her. “Perfection? You wanted a perfect life? It seems to me that you have had a rather idyllic existence here, but nothing can ever be perfect!”
  38. 38. “Look at me! Do you know what I wanted most in life? I wanted to be loved. That’s it! I wanted to literally marry the girl next door. I wanted to have six kids and watch them all get married and then, I wanted to grow old and die with the love of my life. Instead, I was raised by a woman who admitted that I was just a pawn for her to play with and she murdered me in a failed attempt to achieve a legacy takeover! “So, now I am stuck in a limbo existence, never to age, never to marry, never to have kids. I’m a Grim Reaper for God’s sake; I collect souls for a living. Souls that include my own family members!”
  39. 39. Zane collected himself and looked Mary squarely in the eye. “It has never been in my nature to complain, I want you to know that. But, you really ought to put things into perspective here. Now, come downstairs with me. I’m breaking all sorts of rules by talking with you already, so I might as well break some more. I promised that I would explain everything, and I really only want to tell it once.” He turned on his heel and walked towards the door.
  40. 40. Mary followed him and asked, “So…you’re dead?” Zane looked down at the floor and idly dragged his foot across the carpet. “Yeah. I am.” “Oh. I’m sorry…” He shrugged. “I would be lying if I told you that it is not a big deal, because it is. But, the more I get used to the idea, the more I find the situation somewhat tolerable. Given my prior circumstances, being dead is almost better. Almost, but not quite.” He looked up at her and gave her a half smile. “Besides, I kind of came up with a compromise. I’m pretty sure Ruth and Jezebel won’t tattle on me.” “What?” Zane shook his head. “Like I said, I’ll explain to everyone downstairs. Come.” And he walked out the door. ***
  41. 41. The two of them walked into the living room to find Sebastian and Kitty cuddling on the couch. Mary was about to interrupt them when she glanced over at the Grim Reaper and noticed a peculiar expression on his face; an expression of wistfulness. Why does he care? She thought suddenly. What is his interest in this family? Shaking her head and trying to ignore the brotherly bond she felt with the supernatural being, she managed to clear her throat loud enough to get her parents' attention. “Mama, Daddy, I think the Grim Reaper wants to talk to us.”
  42. 42. Zane put on a sweet smile when Sebastian and Kitty approached him. Before he could greet them however, Sebastian blurted out, “Are you here to kill us?” “I do not kill people!” Zane responded, hurt. “I promised that I would come back and explain some things to you...and stuff,” he finished with a mumble. Sebastian looked at him with a suspicious glare, but before he could retort, Kitty let out a gasp. “Is that? OH MY GOD!” And then Kitty did something that Sebastian, in all of his years of knowing her, had never seen before. She let out a squee and threw her arms around the stranger.
  43. 43. “ZANE!” she cried with glee. Zane gratefully hugged Kitty in return, pleased at the physical affection that was bestowed upon him. Mary crossed her arms with a confused look while Sebastian said to no one in particular, “How bad is it to admit that this is not the weirdest thing I've seen today?” “Sebby! This is Zane! Your nephew!” Sebastian arched his eyebrow and pointedly looked at Zane. “All the more reason to not trust him then, wouldn't you think?” Kitty rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Sebastian, remember that I would know. I can say, for a fact, that Zane is statistically three times nicer than you are. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body!” “He is Lillian's son. It could be a trap.” Zane shook his head, his face expressionless, but the hurt still emanated from him. “No, I am not a trap. Momma had nothing to do with this and I made sure that she...” he paused. “Well, that is not entirely true. She did have something to do with my being a Grim Reaper, but she did not know that would happen. I...removed her for now. That's what I wanted to tell you.”
  44. 44. “Wait, you’re the Grim Reaper?” Kitty asked. A look of dawning comprehension crossed her face. “Ohhhhh,” she said and she laughed a little to herself, nodding in approval. “It all makes sense now.” Zane shrugged. “I’m glad you approve,” he said dryly.
  45. 45. “But…but, that doesn’t make sense!” Mary finally spoke. “Why do I feel…” she trailed off, embarrassed. She never revealed to anyone about the weird bond she felt to the Grim Reaper whenever he showed up to collect someone. “Why do you feel a bond with me?” Zane gently asked. Mary nodded. “I have a theory that you would feel the same, to a lesser degree, to any Reaper Clone,” Zane answered. “I think you feel it much more strongly with me because I am a Grim Reaper. “This is not to say that were you to appear in another dimension, that you would feel that same bond with that dimension’s Reaper, though. I think that with my being both-”
  46. 46. “You mean there’s more than one of you?” Sebastian blurted out, not being able to help himself. Zane nodded. “There’s two in every dimension: one for people, and one for pets,” he replied. “I haven’t met my pet collecting counter part yet, as nobody in this dimension owns one.” “And so you decided that when you grew up, you wanted to collect souls for a living. How very morbid, and how very much like someone who is Lillian’s son!”
  47. 47. A horrified expression crossed Zane’s face. “ That is not how it happened! My God! You know what it was like being her brother! Imagine what is was like being her child; a child completely opposite of her! I didn’t want this, not at all! It…it was random, I think; my becoming a Reaper.”
  48. 48. ”You see, my mother partly succeeded in extracting the Reaper DNA from me, but it killed me in the process."
  49. 49. “When this dimension’s Reaper came to collect me, there was a weird shifting. I found myself standing, as an adult, in her place, and she in mine. The last I saw of her was her waving at me, looking relieved.”
  50. 50. ”Suddenly, I was in an…office? There were a bunch of other Grim Reapers running around in a panic. From what I overheard, one of their own, an insane one apparently, had just gotten sued and they had to give up one of the souls they had collected in exchange for someone who was not scheduled to die; something about keeping the books balanced, but I didn’t understand what that meant.”
  51. 51. ”Anyway, a rather bored looking receptionist greeted me and asked me where I wanted to be assigned. The only place I could think of was here, as I wasn’t aware at the time that there were multiple dimensions. She had me sign a piece of paper, and told me to go down the hall so I could get my regalia.”
  52. 52. ”The person there was rather brisk when they handed me everything. All I gleaned from them was that my Hula Girls would train me, and I had to collect an undetermined amount of souls before I could move on to the afterlife.”
  53. 53. "The next thing I knew, I was in my pocket of the Dead Realm and my Hula Girls were there to greet me. I’ve been in training ever since.”
  54. 54. Zane made his way to a chair and sat down upon it, resting his head on his fingers. "I'm not very good at my job," Zane stated bluntly, "and I never really intend to be."
  55. 55. The rest of the family joined him. "What are you talking about? You seem to be very kind and sweet, something that none of the other Grim Reapers that I've read about really are." This was from Kitty, who looked over at Sebastian guiltily. Sebastian just shrugged.
  56. 56. "That's my point. Ruth and Jezebel are constantly scolding me for taking too much time consoling my assignments. They think I ought to be like the other Reapers: Cold, impassive, uncaring. I can't be though. It might be because I'm still close to my humanity." The tone of his voice plainly stated that he didn’t see this as a fault as he continued on. "Reapers are alerted when someone is scheduled to die. They show up and wait for the event to happen, never to interfere. For someone dying of old age, that's not a big problem. It becomes a problem in other instances.”
  57. 57. "Accidents that could have been easily prevented had someone been paying attention..."
  58. 58. "Carelessness..."
  59. 59. "Murder..."
  60. 60. "The worst though is suicides, to be quite honest, as we are notified around the time that the victim starts to contemplate the act. Because death doesn't happen everyday in our assigned dimensions, we have the time to go on suicide watch. We watch and wait, essentially hovering like vultures.”
  61. 61. "Are they going to do it? Aren't they? How are they going to do it? Will it be fast and painless? Or will it be slow and agonizing?"
  62. 62. "Sometimes though, fortunately, the Sim will gain enough perspective to realize that their current misery will pass. They decide against ending their lives and instead will do something that will change their current situation. So, the Reaper on suicide watch will move on."
  63. 63. "I would like to think that those Sims who decide against suicide are rewarded with happy lives. That is my hope anyway."
  64. 64. "Thank God I haven't encountered that yet. I don't think I could stand impassively by while someone contemplated ending their valuable life." Zane shuddered slightly.
  65. 65. “Do you know that this is the second time today that I’ve heard from an immortal that their job sucks?” Sebastian asked, again to no one in particular. Zane shrugged in response, though.
  66. 66. “It’s not an ideal situation, believe me. As I already stated to Mary, I would rather have had a normal life, completely lived out, with numerous children and a wife who loved me. Never in my life did I want to be an immortal who has to watch their loved ones die.”
  67. 67. Sebastian looked at Zane, still not completely trusting him. “What happens to suicides?” he whispered. Zane shuddered again.
  68. 68. “They go to the Punished Realm where they have to live their lives all over again, only in a more depressing situation. It’s always winter there, and they live in shacks above the ground. They live in utter hopelessness. “It’s…it is a terrible place and I hope that someday the situation will be changed.” Zane looked at his uncle and kindly responded to Sebastian’s unasked question. “She didn’t commit suicide, she was murdered. She isn’t there, I checked.”
  69. 69. Sebastian looked gratefully at his nephew and nodded when Kitty whispered, “See? Three times nicer than you. Not a mean bone in his body.”
  70. 70. Mary listened patiently to all of this, but the Family Sim part of her needed a question answered. “So, what are you to me then? My brother? My cousin?” Zane smiled.
  71. 71. “We're first cousins. For us, the Reaper DNA is all the same, so for relations we go by who our birth parents are. You have Uncle Sebastian’s eyes, while I have my mother’s coloring. You and I statistically have similar personalities and aspirations, but that was merely coincidental. I apologize for not having a more complicated answer than that.”
  72. 72. ”Okay, I may believe that you aren’t like your mother, but that still doesn’t answer the question of what you want.” Sebastian said.
  73. 73. “I want a family,” Zane simply answered. “I want to visit on my off time. I want to get to know you guys; I always did, ever since I was a little kid. I would have to say that the only benefit of my being immortal is that I can also watch out for you and do my best to protect you. “Momma can only stay where I placed her for a short amount of time before it gets noticed. I want to be there and make sure that she does nothing to harm you in the future, and I can be there to stop her. I’m not asking for love, but maybe you guys could learn to like me?” Zane winced at how childish that sounded.
  74. 74. Kitty sighed at the third degree everyone was giving Zane. She got up and hugged him. “We would absolutely love it, and it has nothing to do with you being able to protect us. You don’t need to do anything for us to win our affection. We aren’t your mother.”
  75. 75. A huge grin spread across Zane’s face. “Really? Thank you!”
  76. 76. “Do you want to stay for dinner? I mean, do you need to eat-?” Kitty stopped, embarrassed, not wanting to throw the fact that Zane was technically dead in his face. Zane just continued to grin. “I don’t need to, but I can! That would be great!” His expression fell as his Grim Phone started to ring.
  77. 77. He pulled it out and looked at the text message he received. “Oh no, I spoke too soon about not having to deal with-” The color drained from his face. “I have to go! Right now! I’m sorry!” Before anybody could respond, Zane bolted as fast as he could out the door. ***
  78. 78. Tina scrubbed the tears off her face again. Over and over she repeated the same words in her head. Useless. Tramp. When she was younger, she had been brightly optimistic whenever she thought about her future. Never in a million years did she think that she was going to be an unwed mother in a dumpy apartment with no job. There was nothing worse than the feeling of absolutely knowing that nobody would miss her were she to fall off the face of the planet.
  79. 79. Of course, that wasn't entirely true. She knew that her daughter loved her; but what kind of life would Karen have when she was always just on this side of being taken away by the Social Worker?
  80. 80. Failure. That was another word that popped into Tina's head as she looked at herself in the mirror. She had nothing left.
  81. 81. Well, nothing other than the sleeping pills and some leftover wine, that is.
  82. 82. Her hand trembling slightly, Tina picked up the glass and took a deep breath. She looked over at Karen, who was sucking on her fingers contentedly. She'll be better off without me, she'll be better off without me, Tina kept repeating to herself, gathering her courage. Finally, she raised the glass to her lips.
  83. 83. The toddler crawled over to where Tina had fallen. “Mama?” Karen asked, curious at the new game her mother was apparently playing. When her mother didn't respond, a tear trailed down her cheek and her lips trembled. Karen was loudly crying when a strange, dark figure rushed into the room.
  84. 84. “No! Oh God! No, no, no, no, no!” Zane cried in a panicked tone. “It was too fast! Oh God, Tina!' At that moment, he saw Tina's chest raise with a shallow breath.
  85. 85. Wasting no time, Zane immediately pulled out his hourglass and activated it. Tina's chest stopped rising, mid-breath. Zane hung his head in relief; she was suspended for the time being, assuring the fact that the breath she was about to take wasn't going to be the last one. Mind racing, Zane contemplated what he wanted to do. His thoughts were interrupted by Karen's crying.
  86. 86. Glancing at Tina to make sure that she was successfully suspended, he calmly walked over to the crying child and knelt down. “Hello there, little one,” he said softly, taking care not to scare the child. Karen stopped crying momentarily and looked at Zane as he peered just as intently at her. A stabbing hurt crossed his chest and he smiled sadly. In a different world, she could have been mine, he realized. The hurt in his heart pressed down on him more; he would have suffocated from it, if he had actually needed to breathe, that is. Another realization hit him: he could not let this child be taken away by the Social Worker! He wasn't completely sure how it was in other dimensions, and he sincerely hoped it was vastly different , but in this one, children get taken away; never to return, never to be adopted.
  87. 87. In a snap decision, Zane gathered Karen into his arms and held her, pretending for a moment that she was his and his life was normal. Taking another glance at Tina's suspended form, he nodded to himself. He walked out the door with Karen in his arms, confident that Tina was safe in her time bubble and would remain so until he returned. Gently rocking the child, he whispered to her, “Do you want to go on a horsey ride?” ***
  88. 88. Frances was confused, as well as a bit irritated, when he heard someone knock on his door only to have nobody there when he looked out of the peephole. Opening the door quickly, he was certain that he would catch one of the juvenile delinquent children stealing his newspaper. There was nobody there, though. Frances stepped into the hallway, muttering about ding-dong-ditchers when he heard a small sound. Perplexed, he looked around and then down at the ground. His mouth dropped open and he called out, “Malcolm, come out here please.” Malcolm came out into the hallway and looked to where Frances was staring. “Good Lord! Wh..what, who, is that?”
  89. 89. Karen reached her small arms up towards Frances. She was tired, cranky, hungry, and most important of all, lonely. “Up! Up!” She cried, desperately wanting to be snuggled.
  90. 90. Frances picked the toddler up and noticed a note attached to her dress. Shifting the child to his hip, he read the note and then handed it to Malcolm. ‘Dear Frances and Malcolm. I know that you have been seeking a child to adopt and I hope you don’t mind that I chose this one for you. Her name is Karen. I know that you gentlemen will treat her well and will give her a good home. I have no doubt what-so-ever that you will give her all the love and attention she deserves.’
  91. 91. “There is no signature,” Malcolm murmured. “That is strange. We’ve been rejected by the adoption agencies because of...” he trailed off and shook his head. “Where did she come from?” Frances turned to face him. “Mal, I know that this sounds rather inappropriate when talking about a child but, can we keep her? I believe that whoever left this child for us did it with the best of intentions. I am certainly not one to believe in divine intervention, but perhaps this…gift…was arranged for us by a higher power? Please do say yes.”
  92. 92. Malcolm looked at Frances’ hopeful expression and then at the child who was resting her head on Frances’ shoulder, playing with one of the buttons on his sweater. A grin broke out across his face. “Well, yeah, of course we’ll keep her! It’s what we have been wanting. Naturally, we’ll have to move to a bigger place now. She’ll need a bedroom of her own and lots of room to run around outside. I’ll start looking for new houses immediately!” Frances smiled in return. “And I will pick up some basic childcare equipment. Mal, we’re fathers! I just wish I knew who did this for us, so we can properly thank them…” ***
  93. 93. Zane sat beside the bed he had placed Tina upon. He wasn’t exactly sure how long she would be out, but he knew that she wasn’t dead. He still needed to reassure himself though and he kept hovering over her to make sure she was still breathing. He knew that she wouldn’t die as long as she was in the boundaries of his estate, but he didn’t know how long he would be able to keep her there before the council found out. And then what would happen? Would Tina be forced back onto the mortal realm for those last seconds of her life? What would happen to him? How badly would they punish him?
  94. 94. Zane leaned forward and placed his head into his hands. They felt like his regular hands, even though they looked like bones to everyone else. Realizing that his Reaper attire would probably scare Tina, he was about to utter the magical command that would shift his appearance to his regular self, when he heard a small moan from her.
  95. 95. Her eyes fluttered open and blinked a few times as she tried to sit up and see in the gloomy light. She slightly recoiled when she saw what appeared to be the visage of Death sitting calmly next to her.
  96. 96. Giving a small scream, Tina attempted to get out of the bed. Her legs wouldn’t support her and she stumbled to the floor.
  97. 97. Zane helped her to her feet while she struggled against him. “Get away from me Death! I don’t want you near me!” Zane cocked his head and simply asked, “Then why did you kill yourself?” Tina paused in her struggles. “So, I am dead then?” “Not entirely. A few more seconds on the mortal realm and you would have been. However, I have granted you sanctuary. I will ask again: why did you kill yourself?”
  98. 98. Tina pushed Zane away. “It’s not any of your business!” “All matters of death most certainly are!” “You wouldn’t understand. My life sucked! My parents didn’t pay attention to me, my boyfriends all treated me like crap, and I couldn’t afford to take care of my daughter anymore. Actually, she’s better off without me in her life. Nobody ever loved me! So there! That’s why!” Zane could feel anger building up. “You didn’t try! You were always selfish! You didn’t kill yourself for your daughter’s sake. You killed yourself because you thought it was the easy way out! You. NEVER. Tried!”
  99. 99. Tina tried to protest. “Yes I did…” Zane interrupted, his anger evident in his voice as he grabbed and shook her. “Do you know what they do to suicides? DO YOU?!” Zane realized that he had been yelling in the Reaper voice, something that he had vowed he would never do, as it scared people too much. He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly, and he let her go.
  100. 100. Tina looked at him curiously. “Why do you care?” Zane looked at her wearily, not that she could see his expression through his cowl. “Because you were wrong when you said that no one loved you. Karen loves you, and… God help me…I do, too.” “What do you --?”
  101. 101. Tina's words were cut off as the Grim Reaper pulled her close and kissed her. She was surprised to find that instead of kissing a skull, she felt soft lips pressing themselves firmly upon her own. She was even more surprised that she found herself returning the kiss just as fervently.
  102. 102. Zane pulled away abruptly. “Oh God! I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!” He hastily turned and stumbled to the door.
  103. 103. Tina’s hand touched her lips as sudden flashes of memories played before her eyes. Memories of one other person who, up until that point, she had forgotten. Her mind scrambled for a name to the face. Finally, she found it. “Zane?” Her voice echoed in an empty room as she heard the thud of the door closing. ***
  104. 104. Zane stepped into what he supposed was his own bedroom, though he didn't really need to sleep in it. He had realized on his way that he was still in his Reaper attire and he silently cursed himself as he switched to his normal form. He hadn't meant to scare her. Blushing at his stupidity, he noticed that his room wasn't empty. Collecting himself, he looked at his visitors. “I do not want to hear it. I know that what I did today was wrong, so I do not need to hear it from you.”
  105. 105. “Rough day, Thanatos?” Jezebel asked as she leaned on the pillows present on the bed. Her sister, Ruth, looked at him and gave a sympathetic smile. Zane had enough practice in life to know how to hide his irritation. “Please do not call me that. I have told you that I prefer my given name, not the name of the office,” he calmly responded. “We're sorry. Old habits die hard; your predecessor always insisted on Thanatos. So, how was your day today, Zane?” Ruth amended in a soothing manner. “It depends on how you look at it, I suppose. I mean, if you found out that your mother never loved you and someone that you loved dearly ended their life out of selfishness, it would not be considered a good day. But that might just be me.” He shrugged, trying to be nonchalant but failing miserably.
  106. 106. The girls immediately got up and put their arms around him. “This job is always hard on nice Family Sims like us,” Ruth whispered in his ear as she kissed him on his cheek. “But we can make you feel so much better, if you would let us,” Jezebel, the obvious Romance Sim, murmured seductively. Zane bore their attentions for a moment or two before he broke away.
  107. 107. “I told you that I am not interested. Not now, not ever!” Jezebel placed her hands on her hips and shook her head. “You can't keep her here forever. You know that every single thing you did today is a separate, punishable, offense. But, bringing a mortal here, instead of taking her soul, is the worst one of all!” Zane rubbed his brow. “I can't let her go there. She made a mistake; she doesn't know. She doesn't deserve to be punished for not knowing. I...I can't lose her forever.” “You can only use the 'I'm new to this' excuse for so long, Zane. You know you aren't supposed to get involved,” Ruth gently lectured. “That is why office holders are usually assigned to different dimensions than the ones they come from. The fact that they allowed you to pick this one just shows that they weren't really paying attention. If you keep interfering like you have been, they are going to notice sooner or later.” “Then there is the fact that she doesn't even really remember you, and she just might not feel the same way about you as you do for her. You are running the risk of punishment for probably nothing,” Jezebel bluntly concluded.
  108. 108. Stung by the comment, but realizing the truth behind her words, Zane lay down on the bed and scowled. “I know,” he finally admitted. “But, maybe she'll come around?” He groaned. “Oh God, what am I going to do?”
  109. 109. “Well you could always go back to her room, woo her then WooHoo her,” Jezebel teased playfully as the two of them sat at his feet, giving him identical smiles. “Maybe by doing that, you can jog her memory.” Zane blushed furiously. “Uh, I don't think so, as we...I... never...” he cleared his throat, embarrassed. “Oh that's so sweet!” Ruth grinned. “You're saving yourself for love. You just don't see that anymore!” Zane decided that he had enough of the two sisters. They could never decide whether to lecture him like a son, treat him like a brother, or seduce him like a wayward lover. He snapped at them, exasperated. “Don't you guys have somewhere else to be right now? I thought you guys had your own room!” He wanted to be left alone to think things through and he had been hoping that the girls would get the hint and leave.
  110. 110. “Nope,” Ruth answered. “You gave our room to Tina,” Jezebel followed up. “So you're stuck with us for now,” Ruth continued, stifling a giggle. “Roomie,” Jezebel finished, not bothering to hide her amusement any longer. Zane groaned again. “Poor Zane,” the girls said in unison. “Poor Zane,” he echoed, closing his eyes and shaking his head. *** Hooray! Zane is back! Do you know how much I have wanted to blurt out over the last few months that Zane was the new Grim Reaper every time I was asked to show him more, or was asked where he was? I hope you all liked his come back! Thank you all so much for reading. A special thanks to Tribebohemian, as always, for donating Kitty to me. Until next time, Happy Simming!