A Corporate Conspiracy Chpt 1.4 Truth and Consequences
Previously in A Corporate Conspiracy… Stanley James, legacy founder and head of the SFO corporation’s paranormal research and development lab was abducted by aliens and gave birth to a little boy the family named Darwin. Stanley chased Catalina’s friend Nemo out of the house with death threats and Cat and Stanley had a big fight over the issue. And Melinda and Laurel, two of the older James children began to experience some issues with Stanley’s behavior. Now…
“ Buuurrpp!” “ Nice one little man! Needs more bass though.” Stanley cuddled the little green tyke, “You sure are cute. And a whole lot of trouble. I need to get some swabs from inside your mouth and just a few drop of blood, okay?” He set the boy down on the changing table and collected his samples. When it came time for the blood draw there was a whole lot of crying on Darwin’s part. “I’m sorry little guy. I know this hurts a bit but it will be over in a minute.” His samples collected and a band-aid applied to the blood draw site, Stanley cuddles his son until the crying was finished and put him in his crib to rest. His reports on the alien phenomena would be very complete.
After the girls returned from school, Stanley made sure to spend as much time as possible with Laurel. He played with her and helped her with her homework. It was important that she not feel neglected since the new baby had arrived. “So to get the area of a circle you multiply Pi by the radius squared.” “ Daaddy! We’re doing history now!” “ We are?” “ Yes!” “ So what are you studying then?” “ Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the new world.”
“ Oh well, what’s the question?” “ Why did Columbus want to find a shorter route to China?” “ And what’s the answer?” “ Umm…He wanted to find a faster and less expensive way to move spices from the far east.” “ Very good. Now was Columbus really the first European to find the new continents?” “ Yes?” Stanley read her text book. “Can you believe this Cat? It really says Columbus was first. There’s no mention of the Norse expeditions”
Engrossed in her reading, Cat was only paying partial attention to the conversation. “That’s nice dear.” “ It’s nice that our school system is teaching an incomplete history?” “ Huh? Oh no, I suppose not. I’m sure they cover that later in high school.” She paused as she turned the page, “There is an opening for a resident at the hospital. I’m going to take it.” “ You’re taking a job?” “ Is that a problem? We could use the extra money and I would like to get out of the house every now and then. You only work two nights a week now and Mel and Kellie are home then.”
Stanley was uncertain how to respond and his thoughts were interrupted by Laurel. “I’m done daddy. Thank you for helping me.” She hugged him tightly. “ You’re welcome pumpkin. Go get your bath now, okay?” He watched her skip off to the bathroom and turned back to Cat. “Are you sure you want to take a job? I make plenty of money to get us by.” “ Get us by yes, finish up the house before we become too old to work, no.” She put the paper down and sighed, “We agreed that once the children were old enough I would get to have a career too. Don’t you remember?” “ Only slightly. If you are sure that’s what you want to do.” She smiled at him, “Very sure.”
Cat folded up the paper and headed into the kitchen where her oldest daughter Melinda stopped her. “Mom, can I ask you a question?” “ Of course. What’s on your mind?” “ Are you and Dad okay? I mean… You had that huge fight and then it was like nothing ever happened between you. Aren’t you mad at him?”
Cat sighed and frowned, “I’m sorry you heard all that sweetheart. Sometimes couples fight about things. In some ways it was bound to happen, not that I condone your father’s behavior.” She reached up and brushed Mel’s bangs out of her eyes. “I’m not mad at him. I’m just a little sad that it happened. You have to understand that your father has always been a little needy and possessive. For some reason he thought Nemo was trying to steal me away from him. And now…”
“ It’s worse.” “ Yes, it’s worse. Stanley used to keep those sorts of feelings bottle up inside but since the accident he is a little less inhibited.” Mel thought about it for a while. “Are you still going to get re-married?”
“ I’m not really sure. We haven’t discussed it yet. No matter what happens, you don’t need to worry about it. We will always be a family.” Cat watched her daughter’s face closely. “Was there something else you wanted to ask?” Mel blushed, “Can I go downtown tonight? There is this awesome new club that opened up and a boy from school asked me if I’d like to go. Can I? Please?” The request caught her by surprise, “A boy? Have I met him?” “ Umm, no he hasn’t been able to come over because he works right after school.” “ What’s his name?”
“ George McCarthy.” “ And what does Mister McCarthy do for a living?” “ He works at a news stand selling magazines.” Cat couldn’t resist teasing her a little, “Is he cute?” Mel giggled and blushed more, “Yeah. He has blonde hair and brown eyes and kind of a big nose. He’s really, really sweet. Please say yes!”
Cat felt a little sad inside. Is it really time for my babies to start dating? Watching the hopeful light in her oldest’s eyes she really couldn’t say no. “All right.” “ Yes!” “ On two conditions. One, your are back home by eleven p.m. sharp and two, you have to bring him by to meet your father and I tomorrow. All right?” “ Yes! Yes! Thank you Mom.” Mel rushed out of the room to the phone to call George and tell him the news.
“ George? She said yes. I will meet you there okay?” “…” “ Eleven sharp.” “…” “ Alright, I’ll see you there. Bye. Bye.” She hung up the phone and rushed out the door and into the night.
Mel met up with her date outside the new club that was oddly named ‘The Church of the Poisoned Mind’. However it did look like a church on the inside and they served alcoholic drinks to those of age and played club music very, very loud making the name not quite so odd after all. When they got there George held the door open for a lady and one of the bouncers who were walking a very drunk man in a nice suit to a waiting cab. Inside, they requested a table and ordered dinner. Mel had to yell over the heavy bass beat of the music. “Isn’t this place great?” “ What?” “ I said, isn’t this place great?”
“ It’s awesome.” he yelled right as there was a break in the music. Other couples dining nearby turned and looked at him. He smiled awkwardly, “Sorry. Sorry.” Turning back to Mel, “I wish I got a chance to change before coming but Mister Landon kept the stand open later that normal.” “ It’s fine.” Mel looked down at her lobster trying to think of something to say that wasn’t lame. “Would you like some?”, she said offering him a bite. “ Ahh, no. I don’t eat shellfish. That whole bottom feeder thing, you know?” “ Oh. How’s you mac and cheese?” “ Fine.” George looked around. The music started back up. “Would you like to dance?”
“ Yes! Please.” They made their way out onto the dance floor where several town residents were attempting to dance to the aggressive techno beat.
Some danced better than others. George and Mel found a spot on the corner of the floor away from most of the crowd were they could dance and people watch at the same time.
Eventually, the music shifted to a slow dance and George carefully put his right hand on the small of her back. He reached for her left hand to hold it when all the sudden…
Mel leaned forward and kissed him. It was a short and sweet kiss that made his pulse race and her nerves tingle. Mel was the first to speak. “Wow!” “ Thanks.” “ That just kind of happened, didn’t it?” “ Yep.” He happened to catch sight of a clock by the maitre d’s podium, “Oh man! We got to get you home before you turn into a pumpkin!” They paid for their food and rushed out to find a cab. Mel had gotten her first kiss on her first date. And she couldn’t be happier!
Elsewhere… Jason was still finding his inability to foresee Stanley’s death very troubling. He needed the advice of someone he hadn’t spoken to in quite some time and the thought of contacting her made him reminisce about that fateful trip into the Canadian woods a few years back. Back then he was a little younger and less experienced in the world. Everything fascinated him and the prospect of joining a group of researchers looking for evidence of Bigfoot was very exciting. Little did he know that that fateful trip would lead him down a path of greater mysteries than he had ever imagined before.
It seemed like ages ago that he found himself apparently lost from the rest of the research party out in the middle of nowhere. Some of the trackers had located some possible footprints near a stream and while people much wiser than he debated on whether or not they actually could be Bigfoot tracks, Jason decided to step into the brush and empty his bladder. One misstep and a urine soaked sock later…
He found himself triping over a rock and tumbling down a rather steep and gravelly hillside.
The hillside cruelly struck him several times on the way down and as he hit the last bulge of the slope, he slide face first into the cool and rather soft grass at the bottom. At first he lay there almost afraid to move. His head was pounding and a fair amount of rocks and sticks had found their way into his clothing. Gently he flexed his limbs and finding that nothing felt broken he pushed himself up into a sitting position.
He discovered quickly that moving too fast was not in his best interest as a wave of dizziness and nausea swept over him. “Hello?” he yelled. “Anybody up there! I fell down the hill and I think I have a concussion.” The last half of the sentence was much quieter as effort of yelling made his head pound worse. Taking a few minutes to breathe deeply and let the pain subside a little he decided to try and stand. Maybe he could climb back up the slope to his friends.
Standing wasn’t too hard but once he got there that pain in his head doubled and he nearly blacked out. “Help! Somebody?!” He turned and listened for any sound of the party up on top of the hill. He heard only the wind in the tops of the trees and the singing of some birds. Far in the distance he thought he heard the barking of a dog. A dog? Jason spun towards to sound. A dog meant people and people meant help. The quick movement of his head however was too much and darkness overtook him as he collapsed to the ground.
Nighttime arrived as he lay there unconscious. Had he been awake to hear it, there definitely was the happy sound of a dog barking in the distance along with the sound of cautious, delicate footfalls on the grass.
The young woman approached cautiously. It wasn’t everyday that you found an man sleeping in the forest. As she drew closer she could see the dirt and debris on his clothing and the rather painful looking cuts and scratches on his face. “Mister? Hello?” The man didn’t stir and she cautiously knelt beside him to get a better look. She gently touched his face, “Sir?” Looking up the hill it dawned on her what must of happened but how did he get here? “I’d better get the elder. She’ll know what to do.”
It took some effort but the elder and her charges soon shifted Jason inside and upstairs to a bed. The elderly woman looked him over closely, moving his limbs and pushing on bones to see if anything was broken. Satisfied that that was not the case she turned her attention to his head and face. His lip and chin when cut and a rather bad debrided area on his cheek was definitely going leave a lasting bruise. “ Will he be alright?” “ He will live but he will have a rather nasty headache for a while. One of you fetch me some water so that I can clean these wounds up some.”
Several hours later, Jason awoke to find himself tucked into a rather comfortable bed wearing nothing but his underwear. As he rose the throbbing in his head worsened and he slowed his movements to reduce the effect. “Ugh. I feel like I’ve been drinking moonshine. Where am I?”
A quick glance around the room told him he wasn’t alone. Each of the three other beds contained a sleeping woman. Quietly he got to his feet and found his way to the stairs. His clothing and pack were no where to be seen.
At the bottom of the stairs Jason found that he was inside a small and simply furnished cabin. Through the windows he could just make out the shadows of trees and a pond in the darkness. Behind him the front door swung open and a distinct clicking sound on the wood floor caused him to turn around.
A large dog sniffed at him cautiously and allowed Jason the pat him on the head. “Hello boy. You must have been the one I heard barking earlier.” Across the room an elderly woman who had been asleep on the couch awoke and moved across the room towards him.
The kindly looking woman in a handmade dress actually made Jason feel a bit nervous. She was old. Really old. But there was no sense of weakness in her movements. “Good morning Jason. How are you feeling?” “ How do you know who I am?” “ I looked at your identification in your wallet. You are very far from home. How did you get here?” He was suddenly conscious of the fact that he was mostly naked in front of a woman he didn’t know. “I was traveling with a group of researchers who were studying the phenomena of Bigfoot. I slipped and fell down a hill and now I’m here in front of you in my skivvies. I don’t suppose anyone has come looking for me?”
“ No. And it is highly unlikely that they will find you. I don’t allow just anyone to wander into my grove.” “ I don’t suppose you have a phone I can use or some pants?” “ There is no phone here. Your pack and clothing were very dirty and I had one of my students wash them. However one of my last male students left a few things here. I think they just might fit you.” “ What is this place?” “ A very special school.” Looking around at the cabin in the middle of nowhere, he laughed. “What do you teach? Logging?”
“ No Mister Gross, witchcraft.” The sentence floored him. Witchcraft? Witches didn’t exist. Everyone knows that. But the lady seemed very honest and clear about what she had said. He accepted the jeans and shirt she offered and took the time to clean the wounds on his face a bit in the tiny bathroom. When he emerged he was full of questions. The woman offered him breakfast and he sat across from her and eargerly ate the bowl of cereal. “You know my name but I don’t think I caught yours.” “ How rude of me. My name is Adeline and I am the elder of this coven.” Coven was a word Jason was familiar with. Sometimes vampires used it for their little family groups. “Coven?”
“ Yes.” “ Of witches?” “ Yes. You don’t seem to believe me Jason. Why is that?” “ Witches don’t exist. Magic is an effect of an over active imagination. It’s not real.” “ Are you absolutely certain of that? Would you bet your life on that belief?” “ Umm…” “ Because if we didn’t exist you would still be laying half dead in the middle of a forest all alone.”
After his confusing breakfast he found his pack and set up his tent in the clearing. Four beds and four ladies meant that Adeline had slept on the couch while he was in her bed. Finishing up he looked around the area. The ladies had some modern conveniences, there was a stereo in the house, but the bathtub was outside on the porch behind a screen. The pond seemed to be teeming with fish and here and there beds of carefully tended flowers grew. The setting was beautiful and became even more so when he turned and came face to face with the fairest of the four ladies. “Hello? Can I help you?” She stared at him for sometime and he started to become a bit uncomfortable. Finally, she spoke, “You are very handsome. I like your eyes. They remind me of an eagle’s eyes.”
If it was possible, he was even more uncomfortable now. “Thank you, I guess. Your eyes are very pretty too. I’m sorry, what’s your name?” She smiled. “Hannah. You don’t believe in witches, do you?” “ Not really.” “ Do you believe in vampires or werewolves?” “ Yes. But those are viral contagions that can be treated and cured with retrovirus serums. Magic isn’t real.” “ Is this Bigfoot you were looking for real?” “ We believe so but it wouldn’t be magic either. Just a previously unclassified species that is very reclusive.”
“ So by your belief, I’m not real. I can cast spells and make potions. Elder Adeline is even teaching me about healing herbs and plants.” “ I’m sorry. Until I see some concrete evidence I won’t be convinced.” Her smile grew bigger and Jason felt an irresistible attraction to her. If she hadn’t moved to walk away he probably would have leaned in and kissed her. “Some things you just have to take on faith, Jason.” He shook his head as Hannah walked over to the cabin and started playing with the dog. He had to admit things here were strange. Why were four women living in the middle of nowhere and why hadn’t his friends come to get him yet. His head was killing him and he decided it was best that he lay down for a while.
When he awoke night had fallen and still no one had come for him. As he climbed out of the tent he decided that in the morning he would get the ladies to take him back to the hill where he fell so that he could try and find them. Maybe they were lost too. As he turned around he was confronted by a very strange sight.
On the far side of the pond his hosts were out doing something very perculiar. He walked that direction trying to be as quiet as possible.
Adeline, without even looking up from the book she was reading, greeted him before he came into the glow of the fire under the cauldron, “Good evening Jason. We have been waiting for you.” Hannah looked up at him and smiled. “ What’s all this? A little show for my sake?”
“ I can not make you believe when your own mind refuses to accept the truths in front of you.” “ What truths? All I see are four very strange women sitting around a fire making a rather nasty smelling soup. My mother could do that too but we never called her a witch.” “ It matters not that you don’t believe us. The spirits with which I commune have told me why you are here.” “ I fell down a hill…” “ You fell into my glen. Normal travelers can not come here unless I allow it or they posses some gift that lets them pass through the glamour that protects this place. You are here for a reason beyond pure chance.”
He really wanted to leave at that point. This woman was just a little too intense and a little too crazy for his tastes. “Look lady. I just want to find my friends and go home. So, if you would just point me in the right direction, I will pack up my stuff and be out of your hair.” “ You can not leave until you are able to see the path for yourself. I suggest you try the mirror.” Her voice betrayed no hint of annoyance with him. “ I looked in the mirror this morning. Nothing to see there but future scars. If you aren’t going to help me then I will just have to go wander around in the wilderness until I find someone who will.” “ Do as you wish Jason but no one can help you, but you.” With that she turned back to her book and began explaining the many uses of garlic besides flavoring food.
Sensing that the discussion was over, Jason made his way back to the fire pit on the other side of the pond. He lit the fire and sat down to try and consider his options. His head was still hurting pretty bad and walking around for hours in the forest was not a good plan for a man with a concussion. The old lady wasn’t being helpful and his research party really should have found him by now. He only fell down one hill not the side of K2. No, he couldn’t try and leave right away. If he collapsed in the forest there would be no one to help him. He glanced across the pond and saw that the ladies were all standing over the bubbling pot and talking. Looking back at the fire he had to wonder if there wasn’t some small possibility he was wrong. Lost in his thoughts he barely heard the footsteps until she was right up to the fire.
Hannah sat down nearby and looked at him with her intense gaze. Jason fidgeted for a while before lashing out at her. “You know, it’s rude to stare.” She pulled back a little but didn’t look away. “Did you know that some cultures believe that an eagle can see right into your soul?” “ What?” “ Your eyes are like an eagles.” He shook his head, “I have the same color eyes as my mother. It’s genetics, not magic.”
“ Do you like me?” She was still staring intently at him which was making him incredibly uncomfortable. “ You’re a little odd but you seem nice.” “ Are you attracted to me? Could you…kiss me?” He looked at her sharply. He started to say that she was amazingly forward to ask that as they barely knew each other but he saw that she was very serious about the question. “Why do you want to know?” “ I’m attracted to you. I like your eyes and you are very smart and strong.” She now looked down shyly, “Are you not attracted to me?”
He was careful about how he worded his answer sensing a trap, “I like blondes but I don’t really know you well enough to tell if I have feelings for you. We just met.” “ Oh.” She looked into the flames, finally she said, “You should do as the elder suggested if you want to go home.” She stood and brushed the dirt from her skirt and hands before continuing, “Some eagles can see the paths that haven’t been flown yet. Maybe you should try looking there.” She left him by the fire mulling over her cryptic sentence and unusual behavior. She was gorgeous and maybe a little bit insane. He poked the fire with a stick and looked back over his shoulder where the ornate mirror still stood by the cauldron. All the ladies had gone into the house and the sounds of violin music and laughter drifted out across the lawn.
In the morning he asked to use the tub and Adeline gave him a clean towel and ushered the ladies into the house to give him some privacy. Bathing in the outdoors was a new experience and would have been fairly pleasant had he not been aware that one of the windows of the house looked directly out over the tub. His mind was still fully confused from last night and his dreams had not been helpful. The sub conscious mind was well known for inventing all sorts of weird things when a sim was under stress but the haunting images of Hannah sitting naked in a huge bird’s nest really freaked him out. As he stood to step out of the tub he held the towel up in front of the window and was rewarded with some muted cries of disappointment. “This isn’t a peep show ladies.”
After his bath he sat on the porch and surveyed the area around the cabin. “I can see how it would be really easy to spend your life out here but I need to get home.” There were no signs of civilization anywhere. No cell towers or radio antennae. No roads or other land marks he could try and use to navigate. He could try and find the hill where he fell but it sounded to him that even if he did he still wouldn’t be able to leave. “If I believe that then I am starting to believe in this magic crap. Let’s find that hill.” He stood and walk into the forest towards what seemed to be the most logical direction but soon found himself a bit confused about what direction he was traveling. He considered turning back but discovered that he didn’t need to when he was confronted by the back side of a mirror.
He walked around in front of it and frowned irritated with himself that he had walked in a big circle. Or did he? He had headed up what seemed to be a slope but then it leveled out again dropping him here. He didn’t turn or change direction at all. Certainly more that a trick of his mind, somehow space had bent around him and dropped him almost back where he started. That was impossible. Wasn’t it? He took a deep breath and closed his eyes trying to reason out what happened. He opened them again and absently stared into the mirror. And that’s when he saw it!
He saw the path that led to the hillside where his friends were desperately combing the bushes looking for him. He walked up the path and right into their midst. They yelled and rushed to check him over asking him where he had been and how he got hurt. He felt safe and happy. Then it was gone. It was gone but he knew how to find the path now! He knew how to get back. And it terrified him more than anything had ever done before. That vision would be the first of many for Jason. He said his goodbyes to the ladies and followed the path he saw in the mirror back to his friends and the civilized world. Months later he would return to the glen to learn more about his gifts and himself from Adeline.
“ Ahem.” The sound pulled him out of his revelry and a little disoriented he found himself back in his office in Pleasant View. “I hate it when that happens.” “ Jason? Stop daydreaming boy. You wanted something?”
“ Adeline, I need to find out why something would be blocked from my sight. Something that ordinarily wouldn’t be. Like an accidental death.” She considered the matter for a bit before answering, “I don’t have your gift Jason but it would seem to me that there are only a few possibilities. One, you weren’t pay close attention to the vision and missed it…” “ Unlikely.” “ Don’t interrupt. Or your sight was blocked by an unknown force. Or maybe a Wildling changed things after you did your scry.”
“ A Wildling? A wild spirit?” She nodded. “Why would a wild spirit care about Stanley James?” “ I do not know. I have some old friends I can ask who have more experience with portending than I do. Maybe they will have some suggestions for you.” She leaned in closer to her mirror, “you have been neglecting your studies young man. You should be much further along by now.” He rolled his eyes, “I’ve been a little busy here lately. I will get back to it when I have a chance.” A knock on the office door followed by a muffled voice interrupted any further excuse he might have come up with. “I have to go Adeline. Let me know if you find out anything useful.” He quickly removed his robes and pulled on his lab coat as he left the room.
Jason came into the mechanical lab to assist in the first attempt to measure the power output from the odd orb located at the base of the weather control device. “It’s nice of you to join us Jason. Since you are late you can adjust the probe attachments while we calibrate the computer” “ Are you sure you want me to do that? I’m not very good with electronics and…” Impatiently, Stanley interrupted him. “All you have to do is turn a few screws when Lori tells you to. What’s the worst that can happen?” Jason sighed picking up the screwdriver and knelt down in front of the device. “Tell me when.” Lori activated the timer and started the calibration. “Okay…Now!”
He carefully turned the adjustment screw as Lori directed him. Suddenly there was a popping sound. “Aww, crap!” he muttered as he attempted to jump away from the device. A few seconds too slow, the electricity arced through his arm in all too familiar manner and traced a path to the floor. “I reeaally haatte ttthiiissss!” Stanley rushed to hit the emergency kill switch they had connected the device to and Lori nearly leapt over the table to get to Jason.
The pair were careful not to touch Jason until the electricity stopped hop scotching across his body. “ Oh my God! Jason are you all right?”
He looked at Stanley with a direct stare. “This is why I am not an electrical engineer. Machines hate me.” He took Stanley’s hand and placed the screwdriver in it firmly, “We’re done here. I’ll be in the shower.” Stanley stared at the screwdriver like it was a snake. Jason was as close to a best friend beyond Catalina he had and he had almost died right in front of him. The smell of charred clothing and skin was all too familiar. In the past an event like this would have sent him running to some good hiding spot but now he felt somewhat disassociated from all of it. The intercom interrupted his thoughts with the secretary’s voice telling him his wife and Dr. Trueheart were waiting in his office. Lori started the long process of replacing the burned out probes.
As he entered the office, Dr. Cassandra Trueheart asked him to sit down. He didn’t have a scheduled appointment with her and the interruption of his work was more than a little annoying. “ Stanley, I must apologize for invading your office but your wife called me to ask for a time for all three of us to talk together and when I called your secretary to schedule she said you had specifically requested that no one should be allowed to bother you. I understand you are busy but your family and your mental well being is far more important than any experiment.” “ You also promised me that we would do this Stanley and I don’t want the kids to hear it”, Cat added.
“ I just had an employee nearly electrocuted to death and you want to do this now?” Cat gasped at the news. “Oh my God! Who was it? Are they all right?” “ It was Jason and yes, he will be fine but I have equipment to repair and tests to run. Now is not the best time for this.” Cassandra nodded, “I understand that you feel that way but tell me…When is a good time? You haven’t called me or done any of the things I asked you to do. Escaping into your work is not going to help you or your family deal with their problems.”
“ This is the problem I’ve been having at home. When I remind him that he agreed to go to counseling with me he says he is too busy or dives into the reports he works on at home. Occasionally he stops to play or talk with his children. I can’t even get him to go to bed at a regular hour. He sits up in front of the computer most of the night with all the lights in the house off.” “ Is this true Stanley? Have your sleep habits altered?” “ It’s just a little insomnia on top of a whole lot of work that needs to get done. It’s not a big deal. I come to work two days a week and telecommute for the rest.” He turned towards Cat, “You get to have a job and I’m home with my family.”
“ I think it’s good that Cat has found a job outside the home and I think that it’s nice that you are home more than you are in the office Stanley. But it really is quality of time not quantity that is important. As far as your insomnia, I thought I asked you to tell me if you developed any new symptoms. Difficulty sleeping is often a symptom of more complex issues. How long has this been going on?” “ A few weeks.” “ More like a few months.” Catalina shook her head, “At first I thought it was the pregnancy hormones having some lasting effects. Darwin is almost a toddler now and the only time Stanley sleeps is in the mornings.” “ I stay up to take care of the baby and get some work done while the house is quiet! It doesn’t mean anything!”
Cassandra sensing that they weren’t going to solve the insomnia issue through arguing changed the topic to one a bit more important to the couple. “Cat tell me about what happened with your friend Nemo.” “ Stanley somehow came to the conclusion that Nemo was trying to steal me away from him. I suppose I can understand why Stanley would feel that way considering that Nemo is a very close friend.” “ He was hitting on you!” “ He was complementing me on my dress.” “ That I bought for you!”
Cassandra interrupted, “Stanley please do not yell. We are here to sort this out. Let’s try this, one at a time I want you to list a reason why you think this issue turned into a fight. The person not speaking can not interrupt the other and when we run out of reasons we will go over each of them together. All right? Cat why don’t you start.” “ Well…Nemo looks a lot like Stanley used to before the accident and maybe Stanley feels threatened by that.” “ He looks nothing like me!” “ Stanley! Please. Try not to respond to what she says. Just listen. Now it’s your turn.”
Stanley thought for a while, “He would come over to the house uninvited to talk to Cat and play with the girls but would ignore me.” Cat almost bit her tongue trying not to respond. “Wow, this is hard.” Nodding, Cassandra smiled. “It forces you to listen to the speaker and not be reactionary. Let’s continue. Cat it’s your turn again.” The session continued for some time well beyond the usual hour. Stanley was forced to listen to Cat’s concerns and feelings and she learned a great deal more about Stanley’s insecurities. When they left things seemed better and Stanley had one less axe hanging over his head.
The following day it was time for Darwin to become a toddler and the family gathered in the kitchen to watch. Laurel really didn’t feel like celebrating the little freak’s birthday but joined the family because she knew her mother would nag her about it later if she avoided it. Stanley blew the candles out and gave little Darwin a toss.
He came back down in a flurry of confetti and a pink tuxedo and promptly burped. ‘ Eww! Gross!” Laurel pinched her nose and walked away. Kellie smiled, “I guess he takes after you dad. Can I hold him?” “ Sure.” Stanley handed the toddler over and cut into the cake.
Kellie sat Darwin down on the floor. “Don’t worry about Laurel. She’s just mad that she’s not the baby anymore.” Darwin smiled back up at her and picked his nose, promptly eating the bugger. “Eww. You really are kind of gross. Cute, but gross.” She arched her fingers and grinned, “The tickle monster is going to get ya! You better hide.” Darwin's squeals of laughter rang throughout the house.
Soon enough, Darwin was settled into the nursery and Stanley spent a great deal of time teaching him to speak. “Yummy! I like green.”
Very early in the morning after Darwin’s birthday, an exhausted Stanley finally laid down to try and get some sleep. There was a reason he was avoiding it as much as possible but the implications that reason created made him avoid the subject as much as possible. He was having nightmares. More precisely he was having a nightmare. The same setting and conversation over and over again whenever he closed his eyes to rest. It always started nice enough…
There was a garden with a pond and when the dream started he always felt tiny. “ Wow. This is weird.”
The garden was littered with strange objects and lots and lots of clocks. He was always able to move from object to object at the same height.
It was a bizarre and disorienting feeling. Like he was a cloud drifting along the ground with no real direction or purpose.
There was always this little girl though Stanley could tell that she wasn't human. Pale yellow skin and pointed ears gave her a fairy-like appearance. The main voice in his dream belonged to her and while child-like in tenor, it was a voice with much knowledge and experience behind it. “ Hello Stanley. Do you want to play with me today? We could have a tea party or play hide and seek.”
“ How about if we blow some bubbles together. I like bubbles. They have all the colors of the rainbow hidden within them.” There always was a strange man in the dream too. Stanley didn’t recognize him but he knew from a distance that he didn’t like him.
He never seemed to be able to play with the little girl. It was as if he was somehow blocked from doing so. Then she would start talking to him more like an adult. “ Once, long ago, I met a man who was traveling on a path through the forest. I loved talking to humans back then. I stopped him and offered some apples I had picked if he would sit with me for a while and share of his adventures. The apples were big and juicy, the finest the forest Gods could grow and the man was hungry from his travels.”
“ I asked him where he was traveling to all alone and he told me he was going to prove that the world was flat and that you could walk right up to the edge, look down and see the places where the dead reside. I explained to him that he was mistaken, that the world was a round orb drifting through the stars, dancing with the sun and the moon as it went.”
“ He became angry with me and accused me of being an evil spirit intent on tempting him away from his path.”
“ I asked him ‘why do you think I am evil if I only speak the truth?’. He replied, ‘because your truth is not mine and I do not want to change it’. “ I don’t understand, what is that story supposed to mean?”
“ The man was afraid that what he believed in was false. Even if it was true that the earth was round, it felt safer to him to believe that it wasn’t. It’s hard to change our truths Stanley. We fear change but change we must or we die. Are you willing to change your truths?” “ I don’t want to change! I like being me now.”
“ But what if the old you was better? Safer for those around you? What then?” “ I was tired of always being afraid.” “ You are still filled with fear Stanley. The only thing that has changed is what you are afraid of. You are like the man who believed the world was flat. Unwilling to accept the world around you for what it is because of your fear.” “ What if I change so that I’m never, ever afraid of anything?”
“ You can’t ever be completely rid of fear or you would be a monster. Then everyone would be afraid of you.” “ Then, what am I supposed to do? I don’t understand.”
Now, for the first time is when the strange man speaks in whiney, nasal voice. “There is no point in trying to convince him. He won’t admit it but he is still afraid of everything. As he should be.”
“ Stanley needs to learn to accept things as they are. The world isn’t a safe place and bad things are going to happen.” “ This is about Cat isn’t it? Something is going to happen to her! Please tell me what’s going on!”
“ Listen to him! He doesn’t even get it. As long as you are afraid of every little thing like losing your precious wife, I’m going to be here haunting your dreams. If you want to get rid of me, just stop being afraid!” “ No, Stanley! Don’t listen to him! You need your fears but you need to learn to accept them!” “ Shut up, you little imp! I’m sure he would prefer I was gone and I hate fishing! All I ever catch are boots! Mucky, stinky boots!”
“ Of course, if you are as tired of this as I am, you could just…Kill yourself and be done with it.”
“ Ahhh!” Stanley bolted awake with his heart pounding and the sweat pouring off him. The house was quiet and the late morning sunlight streamed through the window. He buried his face in his hands and cried. Why was he always afraid? Even death had not removed all the fear from his life. The fairy was right, what he was afraid of had changed but it still was fear. And he didn’t like it.
That next afternoon proved to be a better day for Laurel as it was her turn to be the center of attention again. “Daddy watch me okay? I’m going to grow up way better than Bugger Head.” “ Laurel!” Cat was appalled. Where did her youngest daughter get all this attitude from? “ Are you watching me daddy?” “ Blow out the candles princess. We’re watching.” It didn’t matter to Laurel if anyone else was watching. Only her father really mattered.
She changed into the dress her father had bought for her and changed her hairstyle at well. Now everybody will like me the most, she thought to herself. She ran to her father, “Look how pretty I am Daddy.” Behind her at the phone Kellie was making arrangements to meet a friend downtown after all, why should Mel get to have all the fun.
And Mel was having fun. George was sweet and cute and she was incredibly happy.
“ Wow! Isn’t this place amazing Randy? They have a fog machine. That is so cool.” “ Yeah the lights are awesome too.” Their food was delivered and the pair ate silently. Finally, Kellie spoke up. “Why don’t we go dance.” “ No thanks. I don’t dance. Let’s go look at the fog machine.” “ Okay.” They wandered out onto the dance floor near the DJ booth where the artificial fog flowed out from underneath the lights. Randy bent down and pointed at the machine sunk into the floor. Kellie finally worked up enough courage to ask a question that had been on her mind for a while. “Randy do you like me? Someone at school mentioned to that you might.
“ Ugh, no! Look I agreed to come here with you because I wanted to see the club not because I wanted to date you. You’re just not my type.” “ But I bought you dinner…” “ Sorry Kellie, it’s not going to happen. Thanks for dinner. I’m gonna go play pinball now. Bye.” A little depressed, she stood there for a while after he walked away then a lady named Liz came up and introduced herself. “I saw what he did. What a jerk. There are lots of fish in the sea sweetie. You’re far better off without someone like him anyway.” “ Thanks.” Liz’s words were nice but really didn’t make her feel much better.
As the cab pulled up in front of her house Kellie saw that she was twenty minutes late for the curfew that her mother had given her and that her father was outside playing on the swing. When he finally noticed her he slid to a stop and walked over. “Unh, hi Daddy. I’m sorry I’m late I had a hard time finding a cab.” “ Hey sweet cheeks! How was your date?” “ Just awful! He dumped me for a pinball machine!” “ Well, I can see why. All those bells and flashing lights.” “ Daddy!”
“ It’s true. Some guys just prefer machines to women. All except my assistant Jason. Do you want me to have what’s his name turned into a toad or something? I’m sure I could arrange it.” She giggled, “No Daddy, but it’s nice of you to offer. Why are you out here on the swing in the middle of the night?” “ Waiting for you to read you the riot act about being late. Oh, and you’re grounded.” “ What?! It was only twenty minutes.” She felt the tears well up in her eyes. Could this night get any worse. “ How late you are doesn’t matter. Late is late. We set these rules to protect you girls. If we let you break them then what is the point? No TV for a week and you have to help Darwin clean his room everyday.”
Kellie paused and looked confused. “Daddy we don’t own a TV and I already help clean up after Darwin. I like doing that.” “ La la la la! I can’t hear you!” Stanley turned and headed into the house. “You heard what I said young lady. And no more dates with jerks!” She stood there confused for a bit. Then, she smiled. “Thank you Daddy.” As he climbed up the stairs to the porch he looked back and winked, “You’re welcome. But don’t be late again. And make sure your mother knows I grounded you.”
Darwin wasn’t the smartest child in the James family but he did have good instincts. Today his instincts told him that something special was going on. His mother was in the kitchen baking a cake and Kellie was busy making something creamy white and loaded with sugar that smelled delicious. When his father came in to pick him up, Darwin smiled and asked, “Birthday?” A bit taken aback by the toddler’s awareness of his surroundings, “Yes, it is someone’s birthday today. Do you know whose?” “ Mine?” Stanley smiled. Early IQ tests had placed Darwin at an average ranking but obviously things had changed since the tests.
As they came into the kitchen the smell of the fresh cake and all the gathered people made Darwin grin. “My birthday! My birthday!” “ Let’s blow out these candles and see what we get little man.”
“ Yay! Now I can have lots and lots of cake!” Darwin helped himself to the first piece and practically inhaled it only to rush back to get a second. If Cat hadn’t interfered it would have been three. “ Young man, that’s enough sugar. Go get a bath now.” “ A bath?! It’s my birthday. I should get to skip a bath on my birthday.” “ No smelly boys are allowed in this house.” “ Then why’s Daddy here?” “ Scoot.” She shook her head as he ran off, “That’s your fault Stanley.”
Stanley laughed, “He’ll be fine.” Darwin quickly discovered that bathtubs had more uses than washing away dirt. They made very serviceable pirate ships when a real one was not available. “Yo ho ho! Avast ye scurvy dogs!”
Soon enough his sugar high wore off and Kellie tucked him into bed. “Goodnight little spaceman. Sweet dreams.”
The next day was a good day for the family. Cat herded the kids down to the playground to enjoy the cool sunny day and let Darwin get his first experience outside the family. They played on the merry-go-round and ate hotdogs while sitting on the benches. Even Laurel gave up her general disdain for Darwin to spin him a few times.
Kellie spent most of her time socializing with the other teens in the park about the latest drama at school.
Melinda spent a wonderful afternoon with her siblings and when it came time to head home she asked Cat for permission to go and meet up with George where he worked. They wanted to go hang out at the arcade after he was done. Cat agreed as long as she was home by eleven and if they where going anywhere else other than the arcade to call and let her know where they would be. She headed off down the street in the other direction and the rest wandered home after pulling Darwin away from the candy machine.
When Mel returned to the house all the lights were off and things were very quiet. She glanced at her watch, she was five minutes early. “They must have all gone to bed already.” She carefully found her way up the steps catching the toe of her boot on the top tread and making a loud ‘thump’ sound. “Oww.”
“ What was that?” The sound startled Stanley who once again was up during the night unable to sleep. He had tried but the nightmare just wouldn’t leave him alone. Finally he gave up and came down to make himself a sandwich.
Mel entered the house and removed her coat. Her eyes adjusted to the light coming from the computer screen slowly. Had her mind been in the present and not thinking back to when George had suggested that they go steady she might have heard the sounds coming from the kitchen.
The sound of the door softly opening and closing frightened him more. There’s someone in the house! Why didn’t the alarm go off? Quietly, he crept into the dining room and grabbed a vase of roses off the dresser. No one breaks into my house. He moved to hide behind the arch leading to the living room. He couldn’t see the intruder in the dark but could hear him walking quietly across the floor. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life being a victim of my fear! Stanley waited until the foot steps were close to his position and leapt into action.
He flung the vase into the darkness at the intruder and heard a satisfying thump and grunt as the water filled vase of flowers hit its target then fell to the ground and shattered.
Mel was knocked out by the blow and stumbled forward into the wall striking her head on the drywall and the floor as she fell.
Stanley jumped out from behind the wall as he heard the sound of the intruder hitting the floor. He moved into the living room carefully avoiding the shards of broken glass with his bare feet. He looked down at the unmoving figure in the darkness. “Serves you right for breaking into my house.” His eyes began to adjust to the different light levels in the living room and there was something too familiar about the figure lying on the floor.
He stared down for a about a minute. Then he realized what he had done. “Oh no! Oh no, oh no, oh no! Pease don’t be her.” He found the light switch and turned on the light.
Oh please no! Mel honey? Wake up.” He knelt down beside her and felt for a pulse. She was still breathing and her heartbeat was steady. Abrasions and bruises had formed on her forehead and a small amount of blood trickled from a cut in her hair. “Please baby, wake up.” He gently squeezed her hand and patted her face. She moaned in pain but didn’t awaken.
Awoken by the noise of the shattering glass, Cat rushed down the stairs to find her husband kneeling over the prone body of her eldest daughter. “Stanley what happened? Is she alright?” “ She’s unconscious. I…I thought she was a burglar and hit her with a vase. I didn’t know it was her, I swear!”
“ How on earth could you mistake your daughter for a burglar? This house is riddled with alarms because of your obsessive-ness. If she was a burglar this place would sound like a siren testing factory.” “ I wouldn’t have hit her if I knew it was her. It was an accident.” Cat knelt down and brushed the hair away from Mel’s bruised face. “Look what you’ve done. Oh my God! Wake up baby!” Once again Mel only moaned. “Stanley, help me get her up to her bed so I can examine her better. Together they gently lifted her and carried her up the stairs to her room Stanley then wandered downstairs to clean up the broken glass and stay out of Cat’s way.
Later… Cat stood over her oldest child’s bed and cried. She had only been a licensed doctor for a short while but she was able to tell that Mel had a bad concussion and some deep bruises. The cut wasn’t deep and wouldn’t require any stitches. The girl would survive the blow physically but how would she react when she discovered it was her father who attacked her? Stanley’s behavior had become so erratic lately and now apparently she couldn’t trust him around the children. Cat tucked her daughter in and left quietly closing the door behind her. She didn’t know what to do so she quietly made a phone call to Dr. Trueheart hoping for some clearheaded advice.
The smell of ginseng filled the room as the half cat, half man materialized. He sat, hovering in mid air, and watched the young lady toss and turn in her sleep. He smiled widely as he watched her. “ Well, look who got so much more interesting than boring old Stanley. You and I are going to have lots of fun together.”
Next time in A Corporate Conspiracy… “ She’s coming here? Tonight?”
Well, that was strange, wasn’t it? This segment was much longer than the previous ones and I hope it wasn’t too long for some readers. There was a whole lot of Jason’s back story in there as I felt the need to fill in a little bit of his history. Also, it was the first time ever that I used a dummy lot and a whole lot of animation overlays to get the falling down the hill scene and I took tons of pictures. Just be glad I didn’t use them all!
Another random event that changed my plot. This one wasn’t as bad as Stanley being killed though. I wanted a scene of Jason kneeling in front of the machine and fiddling with it so I had him ‘tinker’ on a cheap TV then moved him into position and unpaused the game. Jason, the sim has no mechanical points so the tinker failed. Opps.
Here are Darwin’s stats: Sagittarius (1/6/10/10/8) Hobby: Nature I wish he were a little less alien looking but I have some good character ideas in store for him.
Laurel’s stats after teenifying: Virgo (10/2/10/6/7) Aspiration: Popularity- 20 simultaneous best friends Turn on’s: Red hair and high cleaning skill; Off: Fatness Hobby: Sports Laurel doesn’t really hate Darwin. None of the family does in fact. But for story purposes, Darwin stands between Laurel and her father.
Last update I mentioned that my bone phone became glitched when Stanley died and I had to use a stuck object remover to get rid of it. When I did that the telescope disappeared as well and I figured that it had somehow become corrupted with the phone and they both deleted at the same time. Turns out, that was not the case. Stanley spied on Nina Callente and now has hate thought bubbles for her. I had to locate the invisible scope and use the stuck object remover on it too. Yes, that is Nina in the background. She came back later to do the poking.
Sim Stanley acts a whole lot like a real dad. Mel and George were upstairs dancing and she rolled the want to go steady so I had her do the interaction. The pair kissed and Stanley takes that moment to barge in and do the ‘inside joke’ action ruining what would have been some nice pictures for the update
Randy London is a jerk! And his head is on backwards! One more pic! Drinks down. Swallow the popcorn you are eating. Ready? Then
Well, I have lots more newspaper to steal before sun up. I hope you enjoyed this. Feel free to leave me a comment or two if you like. Thanks for reading!