Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Chapter 56: The Deep Freeze

The autumn months sailed past peacefully at Clone Island.  Life continued, pretty much as it always had, with a regular diary of birthdays, marriages and the occasional pregnancy or new birth.

Most residents tried to stock up on food supplies - Matt Green ensured he took his eldest son, Rocky fishing as much as possible. 

It wasn't always easy squeezing family time into the Green's busy schedule. Matt worked long hours helping to build fridges and ovens for the local residents.  Meanwhile Anya was left to tend to the garden, horses, the pet dogs and to care for their youngest son, Rex.

Rocky was good at entertaining himself.  He had a vivid imagination and was very easy going.  He loved playing Kings and Queens with the other children his age (so long as he got to be a King) just as much as he enjoyed a quiet afternoon painting or reading.

Anya only wished that the rest of the family were as laid back.  She was relieved when one Saturday, after weeks of constant work, Matt offered to look after the kids whilst Anya took a break.  There was a nip in the air but the skies were clear, so Anya decided to indulge in a horse ride.  To her dismay, Chardonnay got spooked by an aggressive stray dog and broke into a wild gallop.

Despite Anya's best efforts she soon found herself being brutally thrown from Chardonnay's saddle.  She landed hard on her head and for a moment all she could see were stars.

Gently she eased her battered body off the roadside and limped back home.  Matt urged her to get herself checked out - a health centre and hospital had now been built in the top floor of Founders House.  But, Anya just shook her head, she'd have a bath to ease the bruising, waving away Matt's concerns as 'fussing'.

Secretly though, as Anya soaked herself in the warm water, she couldn't help but worry slightly.  Her head ached terribly and she felt sick.  Determined not to create a drama, she shrugged off her ailments, telling herself that a good nights sleep would be all the cure she needed.

It wasn't just the Green's that were manically busy in the lead up to winter, the rest of the families on Clone Island also continued to prepare for winter, carrying out their tasks as agreed at the Town Council meeting.  As Andrea and Fawn returned with fresh supplies everyone started to relax a little.  Sure, it was chilly but hardly life threatening and the long autumn of light showers and occasional small thunder storms lulled everyone into a false sense of security.

Gradually the long mild autumn melted away into a harsh bitterly cold winter.  Fallen leaves and cool rains were replaced by snow storms and freezing gales.  The novelty of snowmen and sledging soon wore off for even for the youngest of the islanders.

As the snow settled, Yadira was pleased that Lewis had installed an oven into their home.  She might still be burning the pancakes, but at least the hut was cosy with the heat of the stove fire.

As Yadira glared at her burnt waffles, she couldn't help but notice the snow falling thickly outside - and she couldn't stop worrying about her sister, Sierra, who lived outside of town and who had not yet had her oven installed. 

She wondered whether she ought to ride over to her sisters with some supplies, before the storm got any worse.  The only problem was, Yadira had been feeling a little off colour recently...

...still, Yadira expected that her nausea was more than likely caused by her recent attempts at cooking.  Burnt waffles would make anyone sick!  Yadira was more worried about Sierra, and after an hour or two of indecisive fretting, she decided to tack up Daisy and head over to 1 Anglers Way.

The family dog, Rusty, rescued from Green Island decided to follow Yadira and Daisy as they made their slow trek out of the village.

By the time Yadira reached the remote log cabin home of Sierra and Xavier the wind was howling and the snow was getting very deep.  The last patches of green were fading and Yadira was feeling more and more sick.

Sierra rushed out to meet her sister, hurrying her inside into the warm.  "I'm glad you came sis, we are running low on supplies.  But you really don't look very well!"  Yadira nodded, "I don't feel so good" she agreed, peeling of her snow laden coat.  Suddenly she felt very hot inside the thick walls of the log cabin.

"That's better" she sighed, now free of all those bulky extra layers.  Sierra eyed her sister suspiciously.  "What!?" Yadira exclaimed.  "Well..." Sierra smiled awkwardly, "You look like you've put on a little weight..."

"Oh charming!" Yadira replied, thinking that Sierra was being unusually unkind.

"And, you're being sick..." Sierra said slowly, forming each word carefully and looking eagerly at her sister.  Finally the penny dropped.

"Oh Plumbob!  I'm pregnant, aren't I?  I've been so wrapped up in cooking and preparing for the winter that I didn't stop to consider the obvious!"

Yadira smiled, rubbing her belly.  She was pregnant!  She couldn't wait to get home and tell Lewis.  But hang on, how would she get home?  There was no way she could ride home.  It was too great a risk now that she knew she was pregnant.  "What am I going to do!?" Yadira exclaimed.

Sierra quickly came up with a plan.  They would send the horse back to the village with a note for Lewis.  In the meantime, as soon as the storm eased, Yadira and Sierra would walk back to the village with Rusty and the Sierra's dog Pochi.  The girls reasoned they would be safer with the dogs!

Luckily for the girls the pets were very well behaved and extremely loyal.  Daisy wasn't sure what to do when Yadira untied her from her hitching post.  She could have roamed free, but instead she headed straight back to the village.

Lewis was overjoyed at Yadira's news, and at the same time a little alarmed to find her stranded at Sierra's.  He wanted to set out himself to fetch Yadira but by that time the storm was too intense and he figured Yadira would be sensible enough to wait until the snow settled before risking the journey home.

Two days later the snow storm eased and Yadira finally began her trek back home.  The sisters set out just before sun rise, wrapped up as warmly as possible.  Sierra walked ahead checking the footing for Yadira.

It was a tough journey and Yadira was glad to have Rusty by her side.  The loyal dog worked hard to help tug his owner along through the snow drifts.

Poor Pochi wasn't as much help, he was up to his middle in snow, but he trudged on regardless determined to accompany the girls on the long journey.

Everyone was relieved when they arrived back in the village.  Rusty and Daisy seemed very pleased to see each other too.

Lewis was delighted to see Yadira home safe.  He spent the next few days fussing over her, and her increasing bump.

Yadira's pregnancy progressed well, although she went into labour a couple of weeks before the baby was due.  She was the first resident to use the new medical facilities, and gave birth to a tiny, but completely healthy, little girl.

Upon arriving home Lewis and Yadira decided to hold a private marriage ceremony.  They'd never really worried about getting married before but Yadira really wanted to have the same surname as her daughter.  As there were already lots of Milton's in the village, the couple decided to select a new surname, Lewington.

Yadira quietly rocked her baby to sleep on her newly carved rocking chair - a present from the Beasley's to celebrate the birth of Lewis and Yadira's first child.  Now that Yadira had finalised the family surname she felt almost complete.  The last detail was to name the little girl in her arms. Freya Lewington had a lovely ring to it.  Yadira smiled softly, "Freya" she cooed.  It sounded perfect.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Chapter 55: Climate Control


Mr Black flicked on the huge TV screen that dominated the R.T.G.A HQ Dining Room. "We have a report from our contact in Champs Les Sims" he informed the meeting attendees.

The TV burst in to life, a sharply dressed man appeared on the screen. There were no introductions, the man simply stated his report. "Greetings Directors. One of our on the ground operatives thought that they spotted Andrea McNeil, and another sim, we assume it was her daughter, shopping for winter clothing and other supplies in Champs Les Sims" the man paused, enjoying the attention of the Directors. "The Operative took a number of photos of Andrea and we ran a series of facial recognition programmes. We can now confirm, with 100% certainty that the sim was Andrea McNeil."

Mr Black nodded, a sly smile creeping across his face. "Thank you" he muttered to the sim on screen before pressing the 'off' button on the remote.

Mr Money grinned, "So turning off the climate control has worked. They must now be experiencing Autumn or Winter...forcing them to take the risk of leaving the island to gather supplies"

Serveral attendees rolled their eyes. Mr Money always seemed to state the obvious. Mr Grey sighed, "And how did things go in Moonlight Falls?" he asked Miss Brown abruptly changing the subject.

Miss Brown frowned slightly, "I met with the gypsy. She was of no help. It would seem her ability to find hidden objects wouldn't lift whatever spell the genies put on us. I was unable to recover the coordinates."

"And do you have anything else to report on this matter?" Mr Grey asked coolly, knowing full well that Miss Grey had murdered the gypsy in question. 

Miss Grey coughed, "As you know, I disposed of the gypsy.  I thought it the best course of action. It will serve as a warning to the gypsy community. Help the Wests and suffer the consequences."

Mr Grey shook his head. "I beg to differ" he began condescendingly, "It will only serve to turn the gypsy community against us. They will want revenge...and this will make them more willing to help the Wests"

Miss Brown shrugged, "I did what I thought was best at the time. Your thoughts are mere conjecture". Secretly she wondered whether she had done the right thing, but then killing that irritating woman had been so satisfying. For days she'd replayed the look of surprise in her victims eyes. To Miss Brown it was a pleasant memory and she couldn't help but feel a smile tug at her lips even now as she reminisced about the woman's final moments.

Miss Pink interrupted her thoughts, "And have their been any sightings of the Wests?" she asked in a shrill voice.  Her cool purple eyes made Mr Grey feel unnerved.
"Er no" he was forced to admit, "but we have scouts in Moonlight Falls.  They are on red alert"
Mr Black knocked loudly on the table, "enough of this chatter and political power-playing.  Mr Money, now we know how long it takes for weather conditions to resume on the Blue World...are we in a position to switch off the Purple World's controls?" Mr Black glared at his son.
Mr Money gulped, "'ll take a while longer to take affect in the Purple World.  Even after the climate controls are removed, the island will be in the beginning of summer.  As you know, summer is a long season on the island.  The clones won't feel the affects of Autumn for some time...but yes, we can confirm that once switched off the normal weather conditions will resume"
Mr Black smiled again.  "Good.  Good.  Well ladies, gentleman.  This will conclude our meeting.  For now we wait".  The group had hoped Mr Black might say more.  They all knew this weather thing was important, but none of them could work out why.  Whatever Mr Black's plans were, for now, he wasn't sharing them.  Ignoring their gazes he stood up and wondered towards the coffee machine.
One by one the attendees left, all except Miss Pink and Mr Grey.
"So darling" Mr Grey said as he pulled Miss Pink into a hug, "What was it you wanted to talk about?"
Miss Pink smiled sweetly.  "I made you a coffee, let's grab our drinks and then I'll tell you all about it".  Gently she led her lover over to the coffees, taking care to ensure that she handed Mr Grey the right drink.  Unable to resist the smell of his favourite java, Grey took a large sip as he headed over to the table.  Instantly he was hit by a feeling of dizziness.  "What the.." he murmured.
"That'll be the poison" he heard Miss Pink laugh as his head began spinning.  Then suddenly, Miss Pink was on the sofa cuddling up to Mr Black.  Grey shook his head, trying to clear his blurred vision.
"So Mr Grey, you really are a stupid man, aren't you?" Mr Black giggled as he pawed at Miss Pink.  "Do you really think a woman like Pink here, could ever really be interested in you?" he said in-between kisses.

"Your cheating on me?  With this old man?" Grey cried, incredulous.

"Oh come now Mr Grey" Miss Pink cooed, easing herself off the sofa to stand face to face with Grey.  "I think we both know that you weren't really interested in me.  We have long suspected you of actually being a double agent"

Mr Grey felt consumed with fear, "I don't know what you are talking about, you little two-timing..." he raged, filling the air with expletives before swooning again at the effects on the poison laced coffee.

Grey felt the room spin, as he tried to remain conscious, "what was in that drink?" he cried - watching out the corner of his eye as Miss Pink tottered across to a book case. 

Grey's head was fuzzy.  He couldn't think straight.  Why was she pulling out a book?  His eyes widened as the book case turned in to a door, revealing a brick cell with bed and toilet.


"I don't understand!" he managed to exclaim before blacking out.  The last sound he heard was Mr Black's manic laughing fading in to the background.

With Mr Grey safely locked up in a sound proof cell, Miss Pink and Mr Black resumed their positions on the sofa.  "Shall we let him sweat it out in there for a couple of weeks, before we question him?" Miss Pink purred.  "Oh Miss Pink, you are devilish" Mr Black smirked, his hands wondering over his lovers body.

Miss Pink lent back letting Mr Black kiss and paw at her.  It would be worth it in the end.  Disgusting as the old man was, he was very rich and very powerful.  It had been surprisingly easy to convince him that Mr Grey was passing information to the Wests.  It might even be true, although Miss Pink doubted it.  Either way one less Director, meant her share in the R.T.G.A just got bigger.  Letting an old man touch her up seemed a small price to play, in the grand scheme of things.

As she let Mr Black kiss her, Miss Pink spent her time imagining Mr Grey in his cold cell and the horror he would feel upon waking up in the bricked up room.  Windowless with no exit, Miss Pink smiled at the thought of his suffering.  She was going to enjoy this.  She had to agree with Miss Brown, torture and murder were such excellent hobbies.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Chapter 54: France

Shortly after Mariah and Elliot's wedding, the youngest member of the Friedman family, Lakesha, entered her teenage years.  Autumn was now in full swing, but the bad weather was not something that bothered Lakesha.  She was too busy, vigorously studying all things science related.  In fact, since ageing up, she had barely mixed with the other girls her own age.

Latanya worried that her youngest child spent far too long mixing potions and not enough time socialising with other teens. She knew that Lakesha's teen years would fly by and before anyone knew it she should be ageing up to Young Adult.  Latanya couldn't help but feel that Lakesha should be taking life less seriously - enjoy her childhood years whilst she could.

"Why don't you call on Alice or Lynne today?" she nagged her daughter. But Lakesha found she didn't have much in common with the girls. Despite a large age gap, her best-friend was Fawn.   Both girls were a little eccentric and would often swap stories about their failed attempts at experiments or inventions.

"And then I blew myself up again!!" Lakesha would giggle, recounting yet another disaster with the potions table. 

She would also spend hours grilling Fawn about the plans for the new Medical Centre. Although far to shy to tell anyone other than Fawn, she secretly dreamt of becoming a real Doctor. "Do you think your Mum would give me some medical lessons?" she would ask Fawn repeatedly.

Fawn was sure that Andrea would take Lakesha on as a junior nurse as soon as the hospital was built - which should be any day soon, but at the moment she had more pressing concerns.
Fawn's father, Evan, had contacted the Wests regarding the town's supply situation.  Unfortunately the Wests were all tied up on their own missions and they didn't think it would be wise for them to use their travelling machine.  They had a feeling the R.T.G.A were hot on their trail.
With supplies of warm clothing rapidly running low, the Town Council decided that Andrea and a helper should travel to France to get the stock the community needed.  At first a visit to one of the home towns was considered, but quickly ruled out.  Bridgeport was a known R.T.G.A hotspot, the Wests thought Twinbrook might be being monitored and Andrea reasoned that a tourist visiting France would attract less attention than a newcomer arriving in Riverview or Sunset Valley.
Once in France, the two islanders would access a bank account set up by the Wests in a false name.  They would procure whatever goods they needed and load them into the travelling machine.  Andrea's helper would then travel back to the Blue World alone.  The goods would be unloaded before the sim returned to France to pick up the next lot - eventually returning with Andrea for the final journey back home.
The plan was risky, but everyone agreed a trip was necessary.  Consequently, the McNeil family had spent the last few days wrangling about who should accompany Andrea on her mission.
At first Evan had assumed that he would go with his wife - but Andrea pointed out that the R.T.G.A would be looking for them together. 
"Even though I will go in disguise, I think that I will be less likely to be recognised travelling with someone the R.T.G.A aren't so familiar with" Andrea reasoned.
The Scientists weren't surprised when their daughter Fawn eagerly volunteered to accompany her Mother.  They both knew that Fawn was bright and adventurous.  She'd taken to using the computer like a duck to water and she'd also do anything to help her parents, both of whom she was exceptionally close to.
Evan wasn't happy about the idea.  Fawn was his little girl and he hated the idea of placing her in danger.  To his dismay, Andrea felt differently.  She thought that it would be good for one of their children to get to know the outside world - after all Evan and Andrea wouldn't live forever - and someone else would need to take their place as liaison with both the Wests and the 'real world'.  Their different views led to some quiet, gloomy dinners - until finally Fawn couldn't take the tension between them any more.

Keeping her tone light and even, Fawn tried to persuade her Father that she could handle this mission, "Dad, I'm not a child any more.  You have to let me make my own decisions"

Evan couldn't be calm though as he vehemently tried to defend his position - "You have no idea how dangerous the real world can be!  You've not long turned Young Adult and now you want me to let you go gallivanting into France. Plumbob knows you are smart Fawn, but what if something were to go wrong with the travelling machine on one of your trips back here to drop off stock?"

But Fawn knew her Dad well and had prepared for this argument.  "I'm better placed than anyone else to operate the travelling machine.  I've been around that thing since I was knee high to a grasshopper and my understanding of its mechanics is better than anyone elses, excepting Mum."

"But Fawn" Evan interrupted, "You know nothing about the real world - about cars and shops and strangers!  Not to mention the fact that the R.T.G.A could find you!"

Again Fawn was ready with a response, "I know Dad.  It's a risk, I can't deny it - but I'm not going alone.  I will be with Mum - and I will be obeying all her instructions.  Dad, I know this is dangerous but you aren't going to be around forever and I need to learn how to do this"

Evan was defeated, he knew he couldn't argue with his daughter's logic - and ultimately he couldn't stop her from going.  He let out a loud sigh and Fawn noticed for the first time the age lines that were starting to appear on her Father's face.  For the first time in her life Fawn thought her Father looked his age.

Later that day Fawn invited Lakesha over to tell her best-friend her exciting news.  At first Lakesha was really worried.

"But Fawn, what if something happens to you?" she cried.

"Not you too!" Fawn exclaimed, before reassuring her friend that she'd be perfectly safe as long as she followed her Mum's instructions.

Although still anxious, Lakesha couldn't help but be pleased for Fawn - her enthusiasm for adventure was contagious and Lakesha knew that Fawn was really smart - whatever dangers might occur, Fawn would be better placed than most to face them.

Fawn left Lakesha with some good news.  "I've spoken to Mum" she informed her friend, "and she says as soon as you turn Young Adult you can start work at the Medical Centre.  In the meantime she's advised you to brush up on your logic skills"

* * *
Two days later Fawn and a disguised Andrea arrived safely in Champs Les Sims.  The R.T.G.A didn't know what Fawn looked like, the residents of the Blue World having destroyed all the hidden cameras on Andrea and Evan's instructions back when they had revealed their true identities.
"Everything is so big!" Fawn said, her eyes darting round at the roads and buildings. 
"Don't worry honey, you'll get used to it really quickly - and I'm right here beside you" Andrea soothed her daughter.  It pained her to see her normally calm, level-headed daughter, wide eyed with fear.
Fawn took in a deep breath, and tried to swallow the feeling of anxiety that had taken hold of her.  Forcing a smile on her face, she asked, "What do we do now?"
Andrea grinned, "Now Fawn, we go shopping!"  A fresh look of panic flashed across Fawn's face.  Andrea squeezed her daughters shoulder, "Trust me Fawn, this is going to be fun" she smiled.
Two hours later and Fawn was in her element.  At first she'd hung back and watched her Mum, studying how Andrea had browsed and selected goods, asked the shop assistant questions etc.  Fawn soon realised that it worked the same way as the Consignment Store back home - the only difference being that the selection of goods here was so much bigger.
Before she knew it she was approaching the till herself, buying tents, dried foodstuffs and other useful supplies for the community back at home.
The language barrier, and the fact that everyone assumed they were tourists, helped to cover any nerves she showed and Fawn soon found herself enjoying selecting clothes to take back home.  As she browsed the rails with her Mum they chatted about colours, materials and sizes - trying to get a range of colours, styles and fits to suit the different tastes, shapes and sizes of the Blue World residents.

Mother and daughter giggled as Fawn checked out her reflection in the make-over aisle.  Fawn pouted and stuck out her booty, just like the mannequin's she had seen in the store.

Later that night the duo loaded the travelling machine with a large collection of clothing.  As planned, Fawn left with the goods - promising to return within a couple of hours.  Andrea paced anxiously as she waited in the basement of their hotel for her daughters return.

Her worries turned out to be ill-founded.  Everything went according to plan, and within 3 hours Fawn was back in France.  The travelling machine was empty, and ready for whatever goods Mother and Daughter brought the next day.

The next morning Fawn woke up early, keen to see what the new day would bring.  "So Mum, where to today?" she asked excitedly.

Andrea smiled, glad to see her daughter was no longer feeling so overwhelmed.  "I thought we'd buy some books, grab some lunch out and then do a bit of sight seeing" she stated.  After all it was important they looked like tourists - constantly visiting shops and making massive purchases would only draw attention.

Fawn nodded enthusiastically.  She couldn't wait to see a real book store.  She wasn't disappointed.  Entering the store she was hit with the smell of paper, and the quiet calm atmosphere.  In this store there were no mannequins, no glitzy promotions or pushy sales assistants.  Fawn relished the freedom to flick through the books, uninterrupted and rush free.

All that knowledge under one roof, the books lined up and ready for anyone to read - it gave Fawn a warm feeling, one she couldn't really explain.  She just felt good!  She listened eagerly as her Mum told her about libraries in the real world.  "We really need a library back home" Fawn thought to herself as she thumbed the books on sale.

Despite all her joy though, Fawn couldn't help shake the feeling that someone was watching her.  She didn't know where the feeling came from but a couple of times she felt the hairs on her neck stand up - and a sense of foreboding washed over her.  A few times she thought she saw movement out the corner of her eye, but when she looked nothing was there - or rather she only saw other shoppers.

Andrea picked up on the feeling too.  Maybe it was just the quiet of the bookstore.  Maybe it was something more.  Andrea wasn't willing to take any risks, and found herself hurrying, somewhat unnerved, to the till to ring up her purchases.

Mother and Daughter left the store in a hushed silence.  "Lets grab some lunch" Andrea suggested.  For now she wanted them to stay out in the open, and to behave like any other tourists.  Andrea handed Fawn a camera she'd purchased the day before.  "Let's take some snaps" she said, thinking that it might be a good idea to try to look more like tourists.

Together they snapped shots of the market square. Fawn soon picked up the basics of using the camera, although she wasn't very artistic so that shots were nothing particularly special, she knew that she would treasure them.  Andrea encouraged her daughter to try out increasingly cheesy poses, giggling as she snapped away with her disposable.

By the time they reached the cafe they were both feeling a bit more relaxed, but then Fawn got that feeling again.  She tried to shake it off but couldn't.  "I'm not feeling so good" she murmured to her Mother, knowing Andrea would understand exactly what she meant.

Andrea nodded.  "Lets head home" she suggested. 

Once back in the security of their hotel, Andrea filled Fawn in on her thoughts.  "I think someone is watching us.  I want you to take what we've brought back to island now, rather than later tonight.  We'll lay low for the rest of the day.  Early tomorrow we'll gather scrap from the local junkyard and then we'll travel back home together for the last trip."

Fawn was disappointed that their trip was being cut short, but she thought her Mum's plan to leave early was wise.

The next day the duo headed to the Junkyard as planned.  Together they rummaged for scraps, eyes peeled and alert for any sign that they were being followed or watched.

As the morning wore on, Fawn found herself getting increasingly jumpy.  There were a number of times where she was started by a noise.  On one occasion she even grabbed a piece of lead piping - ready to turn round and whack any potential threat.  But the noise turned out to be a false alarm, nothing more than a stray dog worrying a tin can.

By the late afternoon the pair had salvaged all they could - and both of them wanted to get home before nightfall, so they began to make their way home.

Again they made sure to stop and take photos, trying to blend in as tourists as much as possible.  For a moment they were even able to forget their worries.

They arrived back at the hotel safe and sound.  Together they loaded the travelling machine and by early evening they were back in the Blue World.  Andrea was relieved to be home, but couldn't shake the feeling that something was amiss.  She was sure someone had been watching them.  But then if the R.T.G.A had spotted them, wouldn't they have pounced?

Both Fawn and Andrea relayed their thoughts to Evan.  He agreed, if they'd been spotted then he was sure the R.T.G.A would have grabbed them. 

He pulled Andrea into a tight embrace, "everything went well can relax now" he reassured her.  At first Andrea wasn't so sure - for the next few days she felt tense and on alert.  She was sure the R.T.G.A couldn't have followed her - the Genies spell wouldn't allow that, would it?  But after a week, with no sign of trouble, she had to admit that everything seemed fine.  Soon the feelings of being watched were dismissed by both Mother and Daughter.  Now they looked back on things, they were probably just being paranoid....