A Corporate Conspiracy Chapter 1.6 Insert Title Here


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A Corporate Conspiracy Chapter 1.6 Insert Title Here

  1. 2. Last time in A Corporate Conspiracy… The two oldest James girls had headed off to university. While unbeknownst to Melinda, George had signed up as an intern with SFO Corporation in order to get financial assistance so he could attend university as well. Jason had learned that there were forces at work behind Stanley’s mysterious death that apparently didn’t want Stanley to have an alien child and another who did. And owner of SFO Corporation arrived in Pleasant View to meet the child who she had spent so much time and money acquiring. Now… “ Ohh! Well, that cant be good.” This lead in deserves a rewind…
  2. 3. Stanley was confused. Somehow he had gotten lost. He found himself wandering dark, filthy streets looking for anything that seemed familiar. Unfortunately, when he found her he wasn’t any happier than he was before wandering around alone in the darkness. “ You again? What happened to your garden?” “ It changed. You changed Stanley and now my garden is gone to be replaced by this monstrosity of degradation and hate.” “ I didn’t change… Well, maybe I did. I hit one of my children and my doctor put me on some medications. But, that’s the only changes. Why is everything so dark?”
  3. 4. “ Because your mind is dark on the inside. I don’t like it here Stanley. There are too many shadows. Can we leave? Please?” “ I don’t know where ‘here’ is. Maybe we can find a door or something.” He looked around. There were many doors to shops that seemed to have no visitors. “ No! It’s not safe here. She’s hiding in the dark. We need to go back to the garden and the sunlight.” “ I don’t know how to do that. Maybe if we look around something will help us?”
  4. 5. “ Alright. I did warn you Stanley. This is an awful place with nasty people in it.” “ Looks like an alley in a bad part of Sim City. There’s some people over there. Maybe they know the way out.” “ You won’t like them Stanley. They’re not very nice.”
  5. 6. “ They seem like just normal people. Except the blonde one. She seems a little familiar…”
  6. 7. The pair crossed the dirty street and Stanley swore he saw a huge rat wink at him from behind a cardboard box. The foursome who loitered across the street turned and stared at them as they approached. “ Excuse me? We are looking for the way back to my garden. Can you help us?” “ Why should we help you little girl?”
  7. 8. The young man looked Stanley up and down with an odd smile on his face, “Though, I might be able to help your friend. What do you say mister? One ride for a hundred simoleons. You can even bring the yellow twerp if that’s what turns you on.” “ I’m sorry, what?”
  8. 9. “ You heard me tall, dark and nerdy. One hundred simoleons, cash. What do ya say?”
  9. 10. “ He doesn’t want to play with you. Leave him alone jerk!”
  10. 11. “ Ohh, isn’t she spicy for a little hot house flower. Forget about the girl. We can show you a good time.” Stanley stepped back and grabbed the girl’s hand, “I don’t think I’m interested in what you are trying to sell. Let’s go.” “ You’ll be back. When your silver haired mama isn’t there for you anymore, you’ll be back!”
  11. 12. Silver haired mama? Did he mean Cat? Looking down at the bloodstained mattress discarded against the wall, “Okay, this is officially the most disturbing place I’ve ever seen. There’s no way out down here.” “ I told you.”
  12. 13. “ What is that smell?” “ Rotting blood.” “ I think I’m going to be sick.” “ Can we leave now?”
  13. 14. “ Alright little girl…” “ Pixie.” “ What?” “ I’m a pixie.” “ Whatever! What the hell is going on? First you repeatedly pull me into that weird garden of yours and your friend tells me to kill myself over and over. Now you drag me into this awful place? What do you want?” “ He’s not my friend and I was trying to help you.”
  14. 15. “ You made me hit my daughter over the head.” “ I’m really sorry about that but it wasn’t my fault.” “ Then whose is it?” “ Yours. You did it Stanley. Not me. Then you let that lady you talk to all the time give you that awful candy and now everything looks like this.”
  15. 16. “ That ‘candy’ as you put it is helping me. Until now I haven’t had a nightmare in weeks.” “ It’s not helping you Stanley. Look around you.” “ The medicine did this?” “ Yes. Can you stop taking it now?” “ But I promised Mel. It keeps me from hurting people.” “ Does that mean you should hurt yourself? There are other ways you know.”
  16. 17. The pixie thought for a moment then turned and sprinted across the street. “I know what you need! I saw it earlier. It’s over here. Hurry!” “ Hey wait! Don’t run off!” Stanley turned and looked up the street where a chorus of cat calls and whistle drew his attention. Running to catch up to the girl he added, “I really don’t think we should separate.” She stopped in front of a rotting, discarded counter where a strange bottle sat glowing with an inner light.
  17. 18. “ What’s this?” “ A magic potion made by an eagle.” “ An eagle? Is this some kind of joke? Eagles don’t make potions and I’ve never heard of one using magic.” “ It’s not a joke. This can help you but you need to find the real one. This one is a figment of your imagination.” He considered the vial which contained a swirling blue liquid, “What does it do?” “ It will bring back my garden and keep the bad people away.”
  18. 19. Behind them seated at a rotting table was the strange man that had suggested he commit suicide in the past. He grimaced and whined, “No stupid elixir is going to do that. It’s probably poison. The little imp is pretty crafty Stanley. I wouldn’t touch it if I were you.”
  19. 20. “ I think I trust her more than I do you.” He turned at looked at the vial again, “You said I have to find the real one? Where?” He heard the girl gasp. “ Oh no she’s here! Run Stanley!” She stepped back fearfully and ran into the darkness. Stanley was confused, “Who’s here? Run from who?” Just then a searing pain passed through his chest from back to front. Strangely, while he felt the hotness of the metal there was no real pain.
  20. 21. He looked down as the tip of a shimmering knife ripped through his shirt and was struck by the fact that there was no blood. “Ohh! Well, that can’t be good.” He felt everything becoming dim and a weakness formed in his knees. He heard the girl yelling from somewhere in the darkness for him to run and it seemed like a good idea but his legs just wouldn’t move. It was as if he was rooted to the spot.
  21. 22. The wielder of the knife recovered from her thrust and laughed an evil cackle that turned the hot burning sensation in his chest to an icy cold one. “You can’t run from me Stanley. I will always be there right behind you, waiting. Go find your magic potion if you like. It won’t protect you from your pain.”
  22. 23. Stanley’s vision began to dim even more and he felt his knees buckle as he fell limply to the trash strewn ground. The last thing he could see was the glow in the vial change from blue to gold and grow brighter before everything went dark.
  23. 24. Stanley bolted awake with a gasp. He looked down at his chest for the knife point that he could still feel. Finding nothing he pressed his hand to the spot and closed his eyes. It’s been weeks since the last nightmare. Why are they back now? I was feeling so much better.
  24. 25. Somewhere distinctly less disturbing, the James twins were busy figuring out their financial situation… Melinda scanned the morning paper looking for some work to help supplement the budget. “Hmm, the school paper has a listing for a barista at the student union. That’s it.” “ I could do that. As long as it doesn’t cut into my laying around on the couch time. Oh wait! We don’t have a couch. I forgot.” Mel sighed, “That’s hardly all my fault. You could have studied harder to get more scholarships too you know.” “ Mom said I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to. She said that if I was willing to accept the consequences of…” Kellie sighed, “She knew we wouldn’t have enough money didn’t she.”
  25. 26. Mel snapped the paper down, ‘Yes. She did.” “ Then why didn’t she make us study more?” “ Because she’s Mom and she wants us to learn about the world and how it really works. Welcome to the first day of reality Kellie. How’s it feel?” “ It sucks. My feet are cold because of the tile and the fridge rattles so much it wakes me up at night.” “ Real life. Ice cold feet and insomnia.” “ You really are kind of bitchy today Sis. Are you okay?” “ I’m fine.”
  26. 27. Kellie knew that wasn’t true but Mel had gotten a little closed mouthed about her feelings ever since the ‘accident’. And really who could blame her. Kellie took the job as a barista. It paid fairly well and had very flexible hours which fit well with her plans. Mel had come to school to learn to be a better housewife or grow a better tomato or something. Kellie was never clear on why her sister choose college over just staying home and making babies. For Kellie college was a chance to find a boyfriend or three who would take her dancing or bowling and not call her ugly like stupid Randy London. Her first night was a boring shift. She didn’t sell one cup of espresso at all. “This sucks.” At least they still had to pay her.
  27. 28. “ This sucks too!” Back at the house they rented apparently Mel had been doing some digging and left an open hole in the grass. Kellie had seen something shiny down there and grabbed the shovel to dig it up. The metallic ‘tink’ sound was followed by a spray of water that shot twenty feet in the air and soaked her to the skin. She quickly filled in the hole and hoped no one noticed. The girl’s first few days were tough ones. But not everyone enrolled in the freshman class was having it so hard…
  28. 29. George found himself in a very different situation. The dorm that Miss Swenson had arranged for him was well outfitted and the cook actually could make an omelet without burning it. He never had to leave except to attend class or hit the gym or the newly built pool for the PE requirements. He had seriously considered Heidi’s recommendations about changing majors and for the time being disregarded it. He hadn’t really ever had a chance to have much fun in high school so now was his chance to try something just for him. Drama only paid well if you were one of the lucky ones. He knew that. The one thing George hadn’t had a chance to do was call Mel. He knew she didn’t know he was here yet and he wanted to surprise her in some special way but the idea of how just hadn’t come to him yet.
  29. 30. Until one day it didn’t matter. He was heading off to class when he nearly ran headlong into Kellie on the sidewalk. Close behind her was Mel. He smiled at her.
  30. 31. “ George? Is it really you? You cut your hair!” She stepped into the offered hug. “ Yeah it’s me. Thanks to your mom. This is all her doing.” Mel stepped back and looked him up and down, “I can’t believe it. You’re really here!” Kellie smiled. She didn’t know how her mother had arranged this but it was just what Mel needed. “Yea! Now you can stop being so irritating.” George wasn’t sure what that meant. “Why don’t you come in? I don’t really have to go to class today. I can turn in my essay tomorrow.”
  31. 32. Mel just couldn’t believe it. Her George was here! Her face lit up with a smile just couldn’t seem to go away. He led her into the rec room and they sat down on the couch. Kellie made some excuse about spotting someone she wanted to talk to and let them have some privacy. “What did my mother do?” “ She introduced me to someone at the corporation where your father works. It turns out they have an internship program that includes education costs. Normally, I wouldn’t have been eligible but Missus J pulled some strings and they made an exception.” “ That’s my Mom. She does things like that.” She looked at his expressive brown eyes. “I still can’t believe you’re here!”
  32. 33. George pulled her onto his lap and kissed her. “Still think I’m an illusion now?” “ No.” She snuggled against his shoulder and smelled his skin. “You are very, very real.” She kissed him again then noticed her twin flirting with someone behind them. “I think my sister made a new friend.” George glanced over, “Oh, that’s Hayden. She should be careful with him he’s a bit of a ladies man.” “ Apparently so is my sister. Well, she’s not a man but you know what I mean. She’s been flirting with everything in pants that will talk to her. I’m not sure where she gets it from. Dad would be horrified.” “ It’s college. Part of the point is meeting new people and finding yourself.” “ I’ve never wanted to meet anyone else. You’re they only guy for me.”
  33. 34. They sat and chatted for about an hour. Finally, Mel sadly announced that they had to leave as she had class in an hour and Kellie’s shift at the student union was going to start soon. They exchanged phone numbers and kissed. Mel walked away from the dorm feeling elated and cheerful. Things were definitely looking up.
  34. 35. For Kellie the chance encounter in front of George’s dorm had been a lucky thing. Hayden was… entrancing. She couldn’t exactly call him handsome but there was just something about him that made her want to say yes to just about anything he suggested including an afternoon date at a small park downtown. They talked. They flirted.
  35. 36. And yes, they kissed. Truthfully, they did more than kiss and Kellie was not unhappy to see her innocence go by the way side. Being a virgin was way over rated and Hayden was so convincing. “ I can’t believe you let him do that. In the park? In a photo booth? Kellie…” “ What? What’s the big deal? We were careful and I wanted to.” “ You just met him yesterday and you’re already having sex with him? What would Mom say.” “ Mom isn’t here. And don’t you dare go and tell her! I don’t want to have to listen to her ‘Birds and the Bees and what the telescope saw’ speech again.”
  36. 37. “ By the way, Mister Nemo said to say ‘hi’. He and a couple of friends were at the park too.” “ They saw you! He’s going to tell Mom.” “ He doesn’t come over anymore. When would he tell her?” “ Actually he does come over when Dad isn’t home and she talks to him on the phone all the time.” “ Oh… You don’t really think he’d tell on me?” “ I don’t know. That’s all the more reason not to do something like that in public. You never know who’s going to see.”
  37. 38. “ It’s not like we could have done it at the club where it was darker. There was this weird wolf-lady there who kept starring at us and wanting to talk to Hayden. Finally, we just gave up and came home.”
  38. 39. “ After I dropped Hayden off at his dorm I stopped by the coffee shop and met this other guy named Ted. We’re going out on Saturday.” “ Another guy? Wait you can’t go out on Saturday. Mom and Dad are coming over to see how things are going.” “ Oh yeah! I forgot. I’ll have to call him and reschedule.”
  39. 40. “ I can’t believe you Kellie. When did you get so wild?” Kellie stopped eating and looked at Mel sharply, “And just when, little Miss Prude, are you going to let go? I tell you what, after class I will just plan on staying out for the day. You call George up. Tell him to get his tight little backside over here to help you test out the springs on the new couch.” Mel’s jaw dropped, “No!” “ Why not? The two of you have been dating since forever. It’s just sex.” “ It’s… supposed to be special. I want it to be the right time and the right place.” “ I’ll tell you what’s special. Hayden has this thing he does when…” “ Eww!” Mel dropped her fork and covered her ears.
  40. 41. While Mel was dealing with her sister’s way to comfortable mentality towards physical relationships, someone back home was having to explain a somewhat similar situation… “ All right young lady. Tell me what happened.”
  41. 42. Laurel smiled a toothy grin, “Well I went down to the cooking clubhouse, remember you said I could go, and there was this guy there. He was dressed kinda weird with a cape and everything and he was talking with the chef who runs the place. He was really cute.” “ Who? The chef?” “ No…”
  42. 43. “ The weird guy with the cape.”
  43. 44. “ I went over and talked with him for a little bit. He said his name was Count Wolosenko. He likes to cook too!” Seeing the irritation on her mother’s face, Laurel went on with the story. “Anyway, we talked for a while and then all the sudden he asked me to look into his eyes and said something like ‘you are worthy of my gift’ and waved his hands around in front of my face. It was kind of weird. I’ve never seen anybody do something like that before.”
  44. 45. “ Then all the sudden he jumped forward and grabbed me and bit me on the neck. It hurt for a bit.”
  45. 46. “ Then everything felt really strange. The Count just walked inside saying something like ‘enjoy’ or some such.”
  46. 47. “ And now I’m a vampire! Isn’t it awesome? I can turn into a bat and everything. Everyone at school is going to be so jealous!”
  47. 48. Cat shook her head, “Thank heaven’s your father isn’t home. He’d have a conniption.” She sighed, “I’d better call Mister Gross. He’ll know what to do.” One phone call and a short flying broom ride later…
  48. 49. Jason sat on the couch opposite the two ladies studying Laurel closely. She had repeated the events of her evening to him as well. “Now I understand why you called me so late. It appears that Laurel was infected with a vampiric virus and from her description of the encounter it should be the curable kind. All she needs is some Vamprocillian D.”
  49. 50. “ There’s an incurable form of vampirism?” “ Yes. But it’s extremely rare. There are actually families of vampires were the only way to not be a vampire anymore is to die.”
  50. 51. “ I don’t want to be cured. I think this is cool.” “ Perhaps Jason, you could explain what being a vampire means. I don’t think Laurel understands all the problems that come with her ‘cool’ gift.”
  51. 52. “ Being a vampire isn’t an easy way of life Laurel. Yes, you may get to do neat things like transform into a bat and fly. Over time you will get stronger physically and develop more acute senses but all those things come at a very dear price. First, the sun will kill you. Your flesh will begin to char and burn the instant you are exposed to the ultraviolet radiation. You will have to say inside and far away from any windows during the day. Second, during the day you will be tired and weaken rapidly if you do not rest. Because of this a vampire is essentially doomed to a half life. Only at night will you feel comfortable moving about. Third, you are infectious. From the moment the Count bit you, you became a carrier of the virus. Some vampires are not able to resist the urge to bite others. Your friends and your family are now at risk. And lastly, baring any accident you will live forever while those around you fade away and die. Leaving you all alone.”
  52. 53. Laurel looked at her mother, “I could hurt you or daddy?” “ Yes. You could.” “ But I like how I feel. What if I don’t want the cure? I can control myself!” Cat looked over at Jason hoping for something else that might convince her.
  53. 54. “ I wouldn’t worry about this too much Missus James. Everyone who is bit has a kind of honeymoon period where they think everything will be great. Eventually the reality of her condition will dawn on her. I can brew up enough of the cure for the whole family if you need it. Just in case. Eventually she will want to be cured.” “ I just hope we can wait that long. And thank goodness it’s the weekend, otherwise you will be sprinting across the lawn to the school bus in the mornings. Come Monday, you’re not going to be so happy about this young lady.” “ Mom!” “ And since you are going to be up all night anyway, you can catch up on you chores.” Jason smiled at the pair. Stanley was a very lucky guy to have found so strong a woman to marry.
  54. 55. Later that night… Stanley returned from his late night meeting to find Laurel pale and stalking about the house. The change shocked him a little bit. “ Hi Daddy.”
  55. 56. “ Vampire?” “ Yep.” “ Did it hurt?” “ Just a little bit.” “ Are you staying this way?” “ I’m not sure.” “ Just be sure to stay out of the sun, okay?” “ Okay Daddy.”
  56. 57. Elsewhere in Pleasant View… “ Dr Krug believes the genetic samples she has extracted are stable and she has frozen multiple samples for future research. Dr. James has completed his report and it is ready to be submitted to the Academy of Sciences for review and publication. The Corporation is on the verge of receiving a huge amount of media attention due to this report.” Across the desk a deep, quite voice asked, “Have you read it?” “ Umm… Parts of it. I never was very good a science and much of the research data is very complicated.”
  57. 58. Marie just smiled. “I have read it and… it’s excellent. Doctor James’s exacting personality has created a through and concise documentation of the abduction and the details of the conception, birth and growth of Darwin. It’s exactly what I wanted. You’ve done well over seeing this project. Both of you.” Heidi interjected, “I think Doctor James deserves most of the credit here. He overcame some significant issues to get this put together.” “ Of course. Please inform the James family that they will have full access to the fund that was set aside to help provide for future generations of James children.” Marie paused to collect her thoughts . “Since we have multiple frozen samples of Darwin’s DNA now I want all the samples divided and sent to our labs in Veronaville, Riverblossom Hills and Desiderata Valley. I have hand picked teams there waiting to receive the samples and begin work on cloning.”
  58. 59. “ What! I thought we were going to be doing that research.” “ The plan has been all along G to spread the work out over multiple sites. Anything can go wrong at one particular lab. The explosion and fire that happened here in Pleasant View is a prime example of that. Also, Doctor James is not getting any younger since he refuses to drink any elixir and with all due credit to Doctor Krug, I require more minds than just hers working on this.” “ We acquired the abduction and the samples. Our division deserves the credit for the work. It’s unfair to our researchers to take it away from them.”
  59. 60. She considered him closely with a cold stare that made G regret his outburst. “How quaint. Pride in your work is of course extremely important but there is no ‘I’ in this company except me.”
  60. 61. “ I… understand. And I apologize for my outburst. It’s just that Pleasant View R&D worked very hard to get the samples and make them viable and now you are taking them away.”
  61. 62. “ It does seem a little unfair to the researchers who worked so very hard. Surely we can maintain some of the sample here for them to use as well?”
  62. 63. “ The lab here in Pleasant View has a primary mission to investigate and evaluate paranormal phenomena. It is not equipped or staffed to handle the delicate work of genetic cloning. I agree that Doctors James and Krug and Mister Gross deserve a huge amount of credit for their work and I assure you that they all will be receiving credit for the research so far and suitable bonuses. That being said, my decisions are final and I won’t be reconsidering them unless something happens to change the situation. That will be all. Thank you for coming.” She watched the pair walk out of her office with a forced smile on her face.
  63. 64. Which melted away into a scowl as soon as the door snapped closed. “Those two are becoming more trouble than they are worth. Unfortunately I can’t fire them without the board becoming suspicious. Hmm… What to do?”
  64. 65. Back at Sim State Kellie was really having the time of her life. Now if she could just get Mel to lighten up a little… With that goal in mind she invited Hayden and George both over one evening to a sort of impromptu double date.
  65. 66. Of course her motives weren’t purely charitable but if it got Mel to relax a little bit it was worth a shot.
  66. 67. George watched Hayden and Kellie for a while. “They actually seem like a good couple. I’m a bit surprised.” Mel shook her head. “Yeah well, there is at least two other guys in her life. She’s become so different since we got here.” “ I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about. She smart and like to have fun. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
  67. 68. “ Well, what would Ted say about her other ‘boyfriends’?”
  68. 69. “ Or Kennedy? She just keeps bringing them here and I don’t know how many more are on the wait list.”
  69. 70. “ it’s just… Aggh! I can’t listen to this anymore!”
  70. 71. “ Mel, when did you become such a prude?” “ I am not a prude! She jumps from guy to guy and they call all the time. She’s… not being careful and she might get hurt. I’m the oldest. I’m supposed to look out for her but I can’t do that when she’s out on dates all the time.” George frowned and asked Hayden and Kellie to give them some privacy. Kellie smiled and led Hayden to the bedroom.
  71. 72. Her gently reached up and touched her cheek. “Are you going to tell me what’s really bothering you or are you going to just complain about your sister all night?” She closed her eyes and enjoyed the momentary contact. “There’s nothing wrong.” “ Liar.” “ First I’m a prude and now I’m a liar? Just how many times are you going to insult me tonight George McCarthy?” He took her hand and pulled her towards the couch, “As many times as it takes to get you to actually talk to me.”
  72. 73. They settled on the loveseat and Mel put her arm around his shoulders. “You think that I’m hiding something from you?” “ Yes I do. You really have changed a bit Mel. You’re short tempered and nervous. Something is bothering you and I’m hoping that at some point you are going to trust me enough to tell me what it is.” Mel looked at him for sometime before deciding what to do. “Okay. Since you are so eager to know. But first you need to understand that my dad is… different. He has lots of weird ticks and can be very paranoid sometimes.” “ I kind of already knew that Mel. I have met him, you know.” “ What you don’t know is that I think I might be becoming like him.”
  73. 74. “ How so?” “ Every now and then I feel like I’m being watched. And not that paranoid ‘SCIA has a camera in my brain’ kind of watched. The kind where I feel like there is someone else in the room with me. I’m really worried that I’m going to become like my dad.” George didn’t know what to say. This wasn’t exactly what he had thought was the problem. Mel was a little taken aback by his silence, “So… your girlfriend turns out to be a creepy, paranoid freak. How does that make you feel? Are you happy that I told you now?”
  74. 75. He pulled her closer and tickled her until she couldn’t help but laugh and then pulled her tight to him. “I think that you are too worried about something that you can’t control and you are worried about what I will think.” “ And what do you think?” He turned his head so that he could smell her hair. “I think that you smell luscious and if I don’t leave right now I’m going to ravish you.” “ I’m being serious!” He grinned, “So am I. I’m not a therapist honey. If you really think this is happening then maybe you should go see someone who knows what to do. If you want me to go with you I will.” He began kissing her neck, “In the mean time, do you want me to stay or go?”
  75. 76. “ Stay.” Later Mel spent a great deal of time thinking about her issue. She hadn’t told anyone about it except George. The idea that she could become like her father frightened her. His random mood swings and paranoia effected everything he did, every choice he made. George had suggested therapy and maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea.
  76. 77. George really was worried about Mel’s invisible stalker but it was hard to stay focused on such things when he had to deal with the drama happening in his own dorm. Today it was Arcadia Bradshaw. Perpetually half drunk and a constant flirt, she was his biggest headache. “ So we need a few more volunteers for the kissing booth at the fair and I was thinking that you, George McCarthy would be perfect. I know I wouldn’t mind kissing you.”
  77. 78. “ I have improvisation classes that day and I don’t really think that my girlfriend would appreciate me being in the kissing booth. Maybe you should ask Hayden.” He was trying really hard not to laugh at the llama that was making bunny ears behind Arcadia's head. “I’m sure that you will make plenty of money without me. You’re one of the prettiest girls on campus.”
  78. 79. From the floor behind him came a snort. “Sure. Except no one’s going to pay her for what she gives out for free all the rest of the year.”
  79. 80. “ Oh burn!”
  80. 81. “ Hey! I resemble that remark! I mean, I RESENT that remark. I am not easy.” Benjamin took the opportunity, “No but you are drunk. Speaking of which, What say you and I go back to the library and ‘study’” “ I don’t need to study. Professor Lowell says I’m his best student.” “ I’ll bet. It’s all that one on one tutoring.”
  81. 82. George ignored the barbs from Diane and Benjamin, “Look I’m happy to help with the fair but just not in the kissing booth.” Arcadia pouted then relented, “Fine. But you have to MC the fashion show and sit in the dunk tank for half a day.” “ That will work.” He liked Arcadia and if he hadn’t already been dating Mel would definitely be asking her out. That Monday was turning out a bit strange for Laurel as well…
  82. 83. It seemed to her that she had just closed the lid on her coffin when she heard her mother yelling for her to get up and get ready for school. The sunlight streaming through the window hurt her eyes and she felt lethargic and heavy. It took a huge effort to rise and get dressed.
  83. 84. But she managed somehow. “Bleh! Bye Daddy.” Stanley did turn and watch her climb on the bus. The students in the front seats jumped up and moved away when they saw her coming and he saw that, somewhat dejectedly, Laurel chose to sit down next to Darwin. She will have made up her mind about staying a vampire by the time she get home from school. The fact that Stanley wasn’t distressed by Laurel’s vampiric state had surprised everyone. Cat had been sure that Stanley would have grabbed a stake and torch and hunted down the man who had violated their youngest daughter in such a manner. When she questioned him he simply said, “It must be the meds. Besides, it’s completely curable and if she does accidentally crisp herself then we can resurrect her. I suspect that she won’t stay that way very long.”
  84. 85. Stanley and Cat rarely wasted those mornings when she didn’t have to work and the kids were at school. “ Umm… Stanley? Can you take the thinking cap off?” “ It might make me better at it.” She considered this for a bit, “You really think so?” “ There’s only one way to find out.” The truth of the matter with the thinking cap was that Stanley had lost so much knowledge when he died that he now spent such of his free time trying to catch back up to Cat. The thing was pretty much a permanent accessory for him. Like a tie or a belt.
  85. 86. Laurel had had a terrible day at school and headed straight for her coffin after dropping her homework on the desk. Later, after dark, she made an appearance downstairs to apply for some scholarships. Stanley watched her closely as she aggressively typed and slammed the mouse down on the desk. “Something wrong Pumpkin?” “ I’m only eligible for two scholarships.” “ You have a few more days before your classes start. Keep working at it.” “ Some girls called me a leech at school today.” He couldn’t see her face from where he was sitting but he didn’t really need to. “Jason sent over something for you today. It’s in the kitchen.”
  86. 87. Laurel found the odd bottle on the counter. She knew it was the Vamprocillian-D that Jason had promised her mother he would make. It was the cure that just a few days ago she had refused. She stared at the bottle for several minutes before finally picking it up and pulling out the stopper. “I thought this would be fun but now no one wants to talk to me. I sure hope the Count won’t be mad.”
  87. 88. The potion tingled on it’s way down her throat. “Strange. It tastes… purple.” Just as quickly as she had become a vampire, she had become normal again. She spent the night rest of her night studying and planning what to tell her so called friends at school the next day.
  88. 89. First thing in the morning she prepared breakfast for the family. Her father was the first one down having been drawn by the smell. “ This smell wonderful Pumpkin.” “ Thank you Daddy.” She sat and picked up her fork. “Daddy, can I ask you a question?” “ Absolutely.” “ How did you know that I wanted the cure last night?”
  89. 90. “ Well, several ways actually. One, you’re my daughter and while I missed out on a great deal of your early years because of work, I still know how you think. Once the newness of being a vampire wore off you wouldn't be so keen to watch the sims around you step away and stop talking to you out of fear. Two, the reality of being a vampire is very hard. The movies and books romanticize the idea but in reality very few sims can accept the idea of an static life. Sure, you could find new friends, new hobbies that better accommodate your vampiric needs. But in the end, I knew you just weren't ready.” “ My friends were awful to me. Only Darwin would talk to me at all yesterday.” “ And that says a lot about your brother, doesn’t it? When everyone else rejected you, the one person in life you picked on the most, didn’t.” Laurel focused on her food. She had a lot of things to think about.
  90. 91. It was only a day later that Laurel packed her bags and headed off to Sim State to join her older sisters. In that short time she earned another scholarship, dumped her so-called ‘friends’ and most importantly, apologized to Darwin for being so mean to him. Somehow, amidst all the weirdness of the last week she had learned a very valuable lesson. There were things that were far more important that being popular. Family was way more important and despite being weird and green, Darwin was family.
  91. 92. Back at Sim State, Mel and Kellie’s junior year had hit with a bang or maybe a sting, depending on how you look at it. Kellie had decided to stay in her art major but had become interested in architecture, while Mel also choose to remain in her literature classes but now with the idea of becoming a journalist. Or maybe a writer of hiking guides with notes on where to go if you don’t want to be chased by angry bees.
  92. 93. Across campus, George too was facing the reality of the future. Oh sure, right now he was playing a video game but a little while earlier he was reading his email and had received a rather stern reminder from Miss Heidi Swenson, Executive Assistant, that comedy really had no value to the company and that she highly recommended he reconsider his choice of course work or find himself in some hot water after graduation.
  93. 94. George taking some initiative was able to find Miss Swenson online and chatted with her about his future aspirations. It seems that George had quite by accident stumbled into a study group at the student union where science was the topic of the hour. He was a little unprepared but found that as he listened, he really, really like science. So much so, that he had promptly called the registrars office and changed his major to physics. Miss Swenson was a bit taken aback by the sudden change in plans but did tell him that the company is always looking for excellent scientists with a passion for the work but that they were very picky. He would need to have a 4.0 GPA to even be considered.
  94. 95. In fact, George was so confident of his decision that he told her to print up his name badge and get him a lab coat and pocket protector. “ Ben.” “ Yeah?” “ I really don’t need a cheerleader dancing around behind me when I’m playing. It’s a bit annoying buddy.” “ Sorry. Oh, your girl’s waiting out front.” He smiled. “Perfect.”
  95. 96. What better way to end a perfect day full of wondrous revelations that to ask Mel to be his wife. It was a little impromptu and the speech wasn’t very eloquent. But the light in Mel’s eyes when she watched him get down on one knee and the little squeal she made when she saw the ring told him that everything was just as it should be.
  96. 97. Right now nothing else mattered except the feel of her breath on his neck and the smell of her hair. For Mel, the engagement was the beginning of something she had dreamed of for years and she was ecstatic. Everything she had been worrying about, fretting over was gone. In fact, Mel felt freer now than she ever had in her life. One shouldn’t have to go through life plagued by fear and boredom. Should they?
  97. 98. Downtown at the R&D lab Darwin had joined his father for a few hours at work. The place was fascinating and Darwin quickly keyed in on the rusted device sitting in the corner of the mechanical lab. He looked the device over and felt quite sure that he could hear a noise like radio static when ever he leaned in close enough. It was one of the weird things that happened to him some times. Like this one particular tree in the park. There were times when he swore it was whispering to him. “ Son, be careful around that thing. It has a habit of hurting people.” “ This is so cool! What does it do?”
  98. 99. “ It’s a demon possessed piece of junk from hell.” Stanley smiled, “Don’t mind Jason. The weather machine doesn’t seem to like him very much. This device allows a sim to manipulate the local weather to their personal tastes. This particular machine was modified by someone and no longer seems to work the way it’s supposed to. We’ve been trying to figure out why.” From across the room, “We're ready Doctor James.” “ I’ll be right there.” Turning back to Darwin, “It’s okay to look around but don’t touch anything. Alright?” “ Sure Dad.” Stanley headed across the room, “Let’s see what we can get this baby to do.”
  99. 100. Darwin wandered out of the mechanical lab and through the rest of the first floor. He found his father’s office and the medical lab and a few other rooms he couldn’t really identify. Eventually he came across the employee lounge where a zombie was reading a romance novel. “Man this place is weird.” He choose to not speak to the zombie as he found her a little creepy looking.
  100. 101. After a little more wandering he found himself in the strangest room so far. A huge book on a stand sat in one corner and a cauldron was bubbling over a fire that shouldn’t be in another. The most fascinating item of all was a plant sitting on a shelf. As Darwin approached it lifted it’s head and swished it’s tail. “ Wow! It’s a cow plant. But it’s so tiny.” “ Careful. He bites.”
  101. 102. Turning to face the voice, Darwin was a little embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to…” “ It’s fine. His name is Oscar.” “ I read about these in school but I didn’t know they could be this small.” Darwin glanced around the room, “You’re a witch, aren’t you?” “ Warlock.” “ Right. Sorry. Only ladies are called witches. Is it fun? To… you know cast spell and make potions.”
  102. 103. “ Fun? I suppose in a way. It’s a lot of hard work. I just kind of… fell into it. In order to learn how to use my special gift, I needed to learn some things about magic.” Maybe I can get him to tell me about his. I know he has one. “ Special gift?” “ I have an ability that lets me see some parts of the future, though here lately my visions have been less than accurate.” “ Wow. That’s…” He’s kind of like me. “ Weird. I know. Initially I was pretty much in denial about magic even existing then I encountered someone who helped me change my point of view. See, sometimes sims are born with special abilities.”
  103. 104. Darwin glanced down at his feet and considered the fact that there was a least one other person like him. He hadn’t told anyone about the fact that things seem to talk to him because it was hard enough just being an alien. Maybe he can help me . “So, almost anyone could do something like you do?” “ Not just anyone. My mentor explained it to me this way, ‘The world needs magic and wonder. Not everything can be defined by science and when ever She feels the need, She hands out gifts to those She hopes will use them to help keep magic in the world’.” “ What does that mean?” “ It means that people like me are rare and important. And anyone with such a gift should try and learn everything they can so they can use it to make the world a richer place.”
  104. 105. It made sense. “Sometimes I think that I can…” Stanley entered the office, “There you are. You’re mother called. She needs you to head home and get your homework done.” “ Aww! Can’t I stay just a bit longer?” Jason added, “We were have a very interesting conversation about magic. Surely he can say for a bit.” “ Sorry boys, I don’t make the rules. Cat does.”
  105. 106. Darwin left somewhat dejectedly and Stanley and Jason sat down at the desk. “I hope he didn’t disturb anything in your office. He has a whole lot of curiosity for such a little kid.” “ He didn't hurt anything.” Stanley looked around him, “I think we need to get you a bigger office. You’re running out of space for all your knickknacks.”
  106. 107. “ Boss, I would like to spend some time alone with Darwin.” “ Oh?” “ I think that he might be gifted like I am. He was about to tell me something when you walked in and…” “ What is that?” “ What is what?”
  107. 108. “ That.” Stanley pointed at a small bottle sitting on the shelf. Jason smiled, “Oh that. It’s something I made for you. My skills as a potion maker are somewhat rudimentary but it should work.” “ You knew I was looking for it?” “ No. I knew that your nightmare’s were going to return. Why would you be looking for this?”
  108. 109. “ Someone told me that I needed this to get rid of the nightmares.” Jason was intrigued, “Who told you that?”
  109. 110. Stanley stared at the bottle, “You will think it’s silly.” “ Try me.” “ A pixie in my dream. I don’t know her name.” He leaned closer. It was definitely the bottle from the nightmare. “What does the potion do?” “ It’s a mood booster with some special additions. I have an old friend who’s specialty is potions. She assures me that this will reduce your symptoms with none of the side effects commonly caused by psychotropic drugs.”
  110. 111. “ I suppose it’s too much to hope that one dose will cure me.” “ Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. You will need to drink one dose every 28 days to maintain the effect. It seems an acceptable effort for such a big benefit.”
  111. 112. Jason stood and came around the desk. “Look Stanley, I know it’s not in your nature to trust everything you hear but this time you should listen to me. Bad things could happen to your family if you let your impulses get the best of you. I tested the formula on myself. It’s not poisonous or cursed or anything else bad.” “ You saw something happen if I don’t take it didn’t you?” Jason was hesitant to say yes, “The future is not written in stone and you are my friend. Take it home with you. Talk to Cat about it. Call me if you have questions. Your family needs you to do this.” “ What if you’re wrong again?” “ I can’t be wrong about this. Darwin was meant for something big and if you don’t take the potion that will never happen.”
  112. 113. Next time in A Corporate Conspiracy… “ What do you think Cat? Should I do it?” Click 
  113. 114. Excellent! They left another paper out for me. This neighborhood would be buried in rotting newspapers if it wasn’t for me, Maxi Buckle and the Queen of Hearts. One really has to wonder where they all go after we take them. Wouldn’t it be funny if they showed up in our inventories? Right! Enough with the kleptomania. On to the family fun facts…
  114. 115. George, George, George, George… If I didn’t like him so much I’d have to torture him. He and Arcadia Bradshaw have two bolts and a serious ACR flirtation going on and I have to be very careful not to let Mel see that. George redeemed himself though when he went and rolled knowledge for the re-roll and choose Mad Scientist as his LTW. And here I am writing a story involving science and magic. Go George!
  115. 116. Mel has become quite the handful. See, he loves to talk about school and she hates it with a capital H. She has zero interest points in school and he has eight. I get a lot of this now. Stanley, her father does this too when the conversation isn’t to his liking. Mel rolled Pleasure as a new aspiration and Journalism as her LTW. She was a family Sim. Her new aspiration is actually helpful for me when it comes to plot.
  116. 117. Proof that George and Mel both wanted to get engaged.
  117. 118. Kellie got enough points early on to roll up a secondary aspiration so she entered school as a pleasure/romance sim and promptly began rolling all the woo hoo wants. At the junior year re-roll she rolled knowledge/pleasure (which should be interesting) with a life time want to be a city planner. It’s a big turn around for her character.
  118. 119. Little Miss “Bite Me Now”, Laurel didn’t roll the want to be cured until Monday morning (three days post bite) when she had to pull herself out of the coffin to get on the bus. This was a purely game driven biting. I did not influence the Count in any way. He just jumped in and turned her. I wasn’t going to cure her until she wanted it, if she wanted it. I wasn’t thrilled about trying to play a vampire through uni but I know it can be done. Fortunately for me she choose the wiser path. She is attracted to red heads so the Count was very enticing to her. I haven’t moved her in yet with her sisters so I don’t know if there is any really chemistry there. Stanley and Cat were both conflicted on this. They both wanted to become vampires and wanted AND feared Laurel being cured.
  119. 120. A little note here about the fancy bottle… First, thank to the folks at Parsimonious who created these lovely things. You will be seeing them a lot at they look so much better than the Maxis bottles. Second- Yes, they are buyable potions and yes, it is cheating to have a player character create a potion for a sim (I didn’t have Jason make anything- it’s just story). What you don’t see here is that Stanley called the gypsy and bought a few Vamprocillian-D to have on hand in case it happened again. I just used this (and payed for it twice) because it looks nicer. In the end, buyable potions really just save clicks but not everyone has access to them and I am trying to follow the rules as much as I can.
  120. 121. Darwin will be joining the girls at school at the start of Mel and Kellie’s Senior year. He was very late coming into the family and I want him to have some time as a teen before shipping him off to school. Yes, that’s Stanley polluting the table and yes, Darwin is laughing. Everyone else was disgusted.
  121. 122. Stanley is now perma-plat based on points and rolled family as a secondary aspiration which I thought was incredibly appropriate. Here you see me having some trouble with the nightmare animation loop.
  122. 123. Cat rolled romance as a secondary aspiration which is a little odd but at least she isn’t rolling up unspeakable wants for Little Nemo. She would be a little closer to perma-plat if I hadn’t made a bad choice on the top of the medicine career chance card that cost her all the family’s money and THREE charisma points!
  123. 124. Excuse me while I take this call, “Three for pick up Grim.” “…” “ Oh no. There will be more. I just have to do them a few at a time because noodle gets so upset and he’s old you know.” “…” “ No they won’t be resurrected. Thanks. Bye.” Sorry about that.
  124. 125. Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave me a comment here at LJ or over a boolprop if the mood strikes you. -Steph