Devils in our Midst

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Freedom... Freedom at last!"

As the mist flowing out from beneath the stone subsided, the ghost of Chandra Hawkins once again materialized above the earth, glowing brighter and more vibrant than ever before. Her laughter seemed to shake the whole pond, sending ripples across it's surface, and the fish scuttling down as deep within the water as they could. Anything, to avoid this hungry ghost.

With all four of the teenage cousins frozen in horror, Chandra gently drummed her translucent fingers against each other, each becoming more solid and corporeal the longer she remained visible to them.

"Well well well," she cackled slowly, eyeing each and every one of them. "What have we here... Kanes, Larsons... Do tell me, where are your mothers tonight? I truly would love to tell them... hello."

Though Bradley's courage had faltered many times in his life, he took a brave step forward towards Chandra, clearly a little amazed that she was there -- really there! -- for all of them to see. But... it was a thought he had to dismiss, for now.

"Actually, that's partly why we're here." Bradley's voice shook as he addressed the ghost, but he didn't back down. "To ask you about our mothers."

"Really, hmm?" Chandra said, a bit puzzled. "Go on."

"See, we found this letter, from our mom to our aunt, talking about where something of yours was buried." Behind Bradley, even Travis' teeth were chattering, all afraid of what Chandra may still be capable of. "I looked up your name on the internet, and saw that you went missing about the same time that we moved here... and I thought..."

"You thought that only I could be summoned to tell you that it wasn't in fact your mother who ran my stomach through with a knife, hmm? That it was only I that could clear her name?"

"That's... that's impossible," Bradley stuttered.

"Loookit meee, I'm Bradley Kane," Chandra mocked in a high pitched voice. "I think my mom's an angel, that couldn't possibly hurt even a fllyyy!"

"Yeah, because it's true!"

"... I'm an ignorant school child that doesn't know a darned thing about my mother's past, nyaaaaahh," Chandra continued to mock in her ghostly voice, as if she hadn't heard a word he'd said.

"Alright?! Well if we don't know a thing, then prove it! Tell us what we want to know!"

At this point, Bradley's voice had become so loud that even he could tell it was no longer shaking anymore. His pure fury directed towards Chandra's ghost dissolved any trace of fright he may still have had left.

"I don't know..." Chandra said, fakely cleaning out her ear. "With you screaming in my ear like that, I'm not sure if I want to tell you anything. I don't cater to such rude individuals."

Bradley growled beneath this breath. "Look, all we want to know is what happened! How you died! Why you're... here!"

"Oh, you want to know why I'm here?!" Chandra screamed, clearly upset. "Why my spirit's buried 30 feet underground, where neither friend nor foe can ever find it? Why I'll never see my husband, or my children, ever again?!"

"Y-your children?" June whispered questioningly from underneath her folded hands.

"Yes, my children! Who, thanks to your mother, probably don't even remember my face, or my name!" She screeched even louder, and with so much audible pain that even Bradley began to stumble back, fear growing in his eyes.

"So you want to know what happened to me, huh? Huh?! How first your mother stole from me the only man I ever loved... how that ripped my heart out, the day he told me he'd found someone else! How I had to marry a man I didn't love, for the sake of my children... Children I never wanted! Children I should've had with someone else?! How when all I wanted was to right what was wronged, she drove a knife through my stomach, and then left me to rot?!"

"What are we going to do?" July whispered sidelong to her sister. "The longer we keep her here, the more solid she'll get... She'd be able to hurt us."

"Not if I hurt her, first," June growled, before stepping forward, pushing Bradley out of the way.

"So that's it, huh? Sounds like a load of rubbish to me, you know. Sounds like you're just filling our heads with lies!"

"I'm only answering what I was asked, little Larson," Chandra droned. "It's to your own fault, if you choose not to believe me."

"I'd never believe that garbage," June scoffed. "Even if it is true, all you are is a whiny, self-centered woman, who sounds like she was never happy with what she had!"

"Even if I wasn't, was it Meredith's right to take it all away from me? Was it your mother's to deny my family the right to know that I'd even died?!"

"I'm sure my mother did only what she thought was right," June hissed. "And if that meant protecting my aunt, and protecting our families... Then I support her."

"And you," she continued. "You're nothing but a disgusting, slimy vermin!"  June pointed at Chandra's shoulder, before poking it hard... Testing for Chandra's stiffness. "All you're trying to do is turn us against our families... And that will never work!"

"If you don't believe me, you're only setting yourself up to be lied to again! Your parents... They never want you to know the truth. That they're murderers!"

That was it; June couldn't take being spoken to like that... Especially not from someone as obviously despicable as Chandra Hawkins.

With all her might, she whacked her hand across Chandra's face, and then knocked her away with a swift punch to through the stomach. "Go back to where you came from!" was June's last cry, as she watched Chandra's slowly fading form stumble to the ground.

"You'll... regret... your disbelief..." Chandra said with a smile as she slowly disappeared, sinking into the ground, and out of sight.

Silence passed over them once Chandra had disappeared. They looked to each other, or to the ground, but every time one of them tried to speak, nothing would come out; they'd simply stand there, agape, until they got the sense of close their mouths.

It wasn't until Travis' wits finally returned to him that he said, with all the dry wit he could muster, "C'mon... we better get home, before our moms decide to kill us, too."

On the other side of town, Amelia and Naomi were outside playing, trying to stay out of Meredith's way; Amelia's mother had become quite unmanageable ever since earlier that afternoon, and the two girls smartly thought it best to put as much distance between herself and them as possible.

"You gonna toss that stick already?" Naomi yawned while waiting for Amelia to take her turn. "If you don't hurry, I'm not gonna get a chance to kick yer butt before we gotta go to bed."

Amelia scowled, but finally tossed it -- and cheered, once she realized she actually managed to knock over a bunny.

"Well... that complicates things," Naomi quipped, scratching her forehead. 

Though, she didn't realize how very much more complicated things were actually about to get.

"A...Amelia?" came a voice from around the corner, from another girl running up the grass towards them. "Your mom told me you guys were back here..." Alesha's smile sank, though, when she noticed the icy lack of response from either of them.

"Can... can I play?" Alesha asked sheepishly.

When Amelia started to toe the ground anxiously, and Naomi simply continued to ignore her, Alesha approached Naomi slowly, still trying to smile. "I didn't realize that you and Amelia were friends... Though, I guess that's why I haven't heard from her in a while," she finished with a mopey lilt in her voice.

"Look, I can explain, Alesha--" Amelia said when she finally approached, but when she realized that Alesha already knew what was going on, her voice cracked. Alesha already looked on the brink of tears, and Amelia wasn't sure what she could say to stop them.

"It's okay, I know you guys don't want me here," Alesha said softly. "If I'd known she was here, I would've stayed home... I'm sorry."

"No, Alesha, it's okay, I would've invited you, we just were... you know... doing stuff that you don't like..." Amelia fumbled; she knew that was a terrible excuse.

"Yeah... I get it," Alesha responded, her face falling more and more by the second.

Naomi, however, was getting impatient. "Well, you obviously don't," she hissed. "We don't want you here, alright? We don't like hanging out with... your types."

"M-m... My types?" Alesha stuttered, slowly backing away; her tears were only barely being contained, now. "I don't get what you mean--"

"See, yer so dumb you don't even know what you are," Naomi said, scrunching up her face in disgust. "Yer a poor, miss goody two-shoes who tattles on everyone, never has fun... And you stink."

"I-I didn't realize that's how you felt," Alesha said, turning to Amelia. "I thought I was your... and you were my..."

"Nevermind," Alesha said, hanging her head. "I'll leave you two be, then. I'm sorry I came by and screwed up your fun..."

Alesha turned and ran, but she was not alone; Amelia was not far behind her, trying to catch up with her before she disappeared on her bike.

"Waaaiiit!" Amelia called. "Waaait, stop!"

"What?!" Alesha clearly was unhappy, but was doing her best to keep her composure.

"Look, I'm sorry... I didn't mean any of that, it's just... Both you and Naomi are my friends, and she just doesn't--"

"She doesn't like me," Alesha finished. "I know. I'm sorry, but while you're friends with her... I can't be your friend, either."

Amelia's heart sank into her stomach; she'd been given a choice, between one friend, or the other... A choice she never thought she would have to make.

But, as she watched Alesha bike away towards home, she realized that it was already too late -- the choice she didn't want to make was one that she'd already made.

The next day, Bradley saw a message from his mom on his phone: "Meet me at the picnic benches between the grocery after school, alone."

Although it was normal for his mother to be cryptic at times, he was pretty sure he already knew what this was about... And to be truthful, he wasn't sure he wanted to think about it, anymore.

He didn't have to wait long for Meredith to show up, with bags hanging heavily under her eyes, and her normally cheerful composure overhauled with paranoia and skittishness. Coupled with the dismal overcast weather, he never thought he'd ever seen his mother look more dreadful.

"Brad, do you have time to talk?" she asked, as if she had no idea how empty his schedule was.

As Bradley stood up, he nodded. "Look, Mom... You don't have explain. I know there are bits of your past you want to remain hidden, and... Maybe it's best they stay that way.

However, Meredith shook her head stiffly at his request.

"You don't understand, Brad," she said wearily. "I need to explain... Otherwise, I'll never know if you know the truth, and I couldn't live with myself, believing that you... you might think I'm something that I'm not."

Bradley grimaced, still wishing that he could cast the thought out of his mind... But, realizing it was better now than never, he nodded for her to continue.

"Look, I'm not going to go into the gory details, but I at least want to be honest with you. Chandra Hawkins is definitely dead, and it's definitely because of me. It was an accident, an accident in self-defense at that, but..."

Her face looked even more morose, and her voice cracked so much she couldn't continue.

"Mom... You don't need to say anymore. I think I already understand. Chandra was... delusional. It sounds like she had some 'thing' for Dad, and she came after you. It wasn't your fault. I don't need to know any more than that."

"Yes, you do." Meredith shook her head in frustration at her own inability to clearly express her thoughts. That, and, the amount of people standing about made her wary; however, she realized it was harder to eavesdrop here, than if they were somewhere quiet and private. "Chandra wanted to tear apart our family. She framed your father for murder, she turned many of his friends against him, she threatened to kidnap you children... And then, she tried to kill me, when I got to the bottom of things."

Bradley nodded in understanding, but there was still something he was confused about. Slowly, he asked, "But... If she was the one at fault, then why did we run? Why'd we have to leave Riverview?"

"Just because Chandra was a horrible person didn't make what I did right. Not only did I try to clear your father's back against the cops' wishes, I panicked when I realized what I'd done. Tana covered up what happened, and got your father out on bail before we could even stop and think about how to handle it all responsibly. It was foolish, but none of us could handle the idea of being seperated... No matter what happened, you'd lose one of your parents -- even both of us. We couldn't let that happen."

"Well, I... I guess I understand," Bradley said, shrugging. "I'm still not sure how to feel about all of it..."

"And you don't have to decide overnight, Brad," Meredith said amidst a long, tedious yawn. "I just should have told you, all of you kids, a long time ago... At least partly the truth. I should've trusted that you'd understand... that we just did what we did because we loved you."

"I know, Mom, I know," Brad said with a smile -- one that she reciprocated, easing away some of her stress. "Just don't forget, that we love you guys, too."


The sound of the computer booting up broke the eerie silence in the Kane house, making Naomi's nerves tense and her blood run quicker.

"C'mon, c'mooooooon," she mumbled as she jammed the thumb drive into the computer with one finger, watching as the computer program on it began to load slowly on the screen.

Beeeeep, beeeeep -- a protection shield appeared: Jeb's "unbreakable" firewall. Naomi's panic increased, her heart throbbing so hard she could feel it tingling in her fingertips.

"No, no, c'mon, it's almost there," Naomi hissed as she tapped the return key as hard as she could. The countdown kept ticking... if it didn't break his code soon, the harddrive would fry... Or so her parents said.

Da, ding! The identity verification vanished, leaving Jebidiah Kane's most important documents exposed, right on her fingertips. Still... the hunt was far from over. Her ears still listening intently on noises from upstairs, she began clicking away, aggressively trying to find some scrap of information, anything, that her parents had asked for...

...but there was nothing. File after file, everything just seemed like junk -- the thumbdrive couldn't even detect anything encrypted. Naomi was beginning to lose hope, believing that all her efforts were in vain, that she'd return to her angry parents empty-handed--

--and yet, there it was... it wasn't much, but, it was enough, and that's all that counted.



PiB - Nicarra November 16, 2010 at 12:41 AM  

Wow, you are really getting back into the swing of it now. Another excellent chapter.

Chandra is back and we bet with real vengeance in mind! She is doing well at frightening the cousins - for once Travis and Brad are on the same side!

Poor Amelia - she has officially been dumped by Alesia because of Naomi. Mia, you should be more careful of who you take as a friend...

Good that Mere discussed Chandra with Brad but honestly, she should have told all three. It's clear they will all need to know.

And as for the comments from the last episode "Are the Lemans encouraging their daughter to be with Amelia as part of their plot to clip Jeb's wings?" seems to apply nicely. :) But Jeb is a clever cookie, would he leave evidence on a computer in a normal part of the house? I hope he didn't but we'll see.

Unknown November 16, 2010 at 1:44 PM  

Haha, thanks PiB! I really am back in the swing of it, it feels like. And it feels good!

It was funny when putting the scene with Chandra together, because I was thinking the same thing -- for once, Travis and Brad have something in common! And, although Meredith didn't come right out to all of them at once, she would've figured that Brad would spread the word out to the other three, saving her the trouble of being a nervous wreck in front of all of them. Travis probably would've liked to have heard it from the horse's mouth, too, but he's got enough on his mind lately to not care *too* much.

Amelia's not exactly making the best decisions about her friends, is she? She's being too much of a 'pushover' right now. Although, Naomi and Amelia do have a lot more in common than Amelia and Alesha do; it's just not apparent to Mia, yet. Still, Alesha would've been a much more loyal friend, at the very least.

You definitely nailed Naomi being on a mission from her parents. ^^ It definitely made me chuckle! She's a sucker for her parents -- especially her dad -- and ambitious enough to tackle something like that for them. More on that later, though.

As for Jeb's security... Well. Yes. You will see. ;)

Deema316 November 16, 2010 at 4:51 PM  

OMG! What do I say to all this? The entire chapter had me on the edge of my seat.
I feel Chandra isn't gone for good just yet. She even made me nervous. LOL.

Poor Alesha. I really feel sorry for her.

Again, OMG, Naomi is following in the footsteps of her parents. Wow, some parents there. Sending your child to do the dirty work. What *will* she be like after she grows up?

Unknown November 16, 2010 at 5:18 PM  

Glad you enjoyed it, Dee. :D

Chandra may make an appearance in the future, but for now, she'll do her haunting in the Kane's minds. I still have more plans for her, but when they'll take place, I'm not sure.

Alesha needs a big hug, that's for sure. :( Her life's a bit like a roller coaster, it seems...

Naomi will do anything to please her parents, especially her demanding mother! ;) The Lemans are definitely a very... interesting family.

I will note, though, that as the story goes on and your guys' sims make more appearances, I do take some liberties with my own interpretation of their personalities. I do try to stay true to their traits, though. Somewhat. ^^ hehe.

Deema316 November 16, 2010 at 5:44 PM  

That's fine with me. Once downloaded they are yours to do with as you please.

PiB - Nicarra November 16, 2010 at 10:51 PM  

Naomi is a sucker for doing stuff for her dad...why does that seriously not surprise me.

As for taking liberties with how you interpret their personalities - :) well, I've never seen an evil side to Thomas. I find it very interesting for him to have a dark side. And you know I've taken more than one liberty with your Kanes.

Unknown November 17, 2010 at 12:31 AM  

Okay, good. :D I'm gonna do my best not to take a complete 180 or anything.

Really, it beats me why Twallan put Thomas in the Criminal career... but the way I see it, it's just a way to work with his wife and keep her happy. I haven't seen him do much of anything "evil", really, but he does have a at least a couple enemies... *cough Sam cough*

Carolina, on the other hand... well, she's evil. And has slept with half the town. Seriously. 14 romantic interests. -_-

Well, I just finished a "photo shoot" with both of them, which I think went pretty well... Though slightly irritating, because Thomas kept trying to leave for work, and they both kept changing to different oufits. XD Ach!

But, this also means I'm almost completely done collecting screenshots for the rest of the Season. Just that, a little bit more video, and I'll be going to Bridgeport! Yaaaaay!

PiB - Nicarra November 17, 2010 at 1:47 AM  

Thomas and Sam as enemies, that is very funny really. They usually do get along fine even without my help.

Carolina has 14 romantic interests??? Hmm, how many does Thomas have? :) He is a flirty one after all.

The end of the Season, congratulations!

Unknown November 17, 2010 at 2:12 AM  

Well, with Twallan's Cops & Robber mod part of Story Progression, it seems to like matching Sam and Thomas up a lot.. So they get to fight lots, like I've shown you. It's made them not like each other much, hehe.

And yeah, Carolina had 14 last time I counted. Thomas has.. 3, if you include Carolina. However, Carolina is the Town Bike, so that explains most of it.

It's nice to know that this all is a wraps on my end, though. I *just* finished doing all the recording for my next machinima, too, so I'll start working on putting that together sometime this week. From here, it's just writing posts, editing video, and gettin' Amelia prepped for the city!

Unknown November 17, 2010 at 2:16 AM  

If you can't tell, I'm feel very accomplished, right now! *flex*

PiB - Nicarra November 17, 2010 at 2:51 AM  

:) I've realised that with your mods and play style, you've probably spent 3 times longer with Jeb and Mere then I've spent with every single Sammy clone I've ever run. No wonder you don't want to restart with the same Sims.

I'm looking forward to more from the Cops and Robbers SP - my game hasn't thrown much up yet.

Unknown November 17, 2010 at 3:02 AM  

Hahaha! Yes.. precisely. ;) Jeb and Mere are each about 450 days old, at the moment. Couple that with Relativity, which I run at 40% of the games normal speed... I've spent a looooot of time with these Sims.

That isn't to say I'm totally bored with them, but it's much more satisfying to move to the next generation when I'm ready. In a way, it's like... You enjoy playing in a 'cyclical' manner, returning to the roots (ala Sammy) when you're ready to start over... Whereas I must go linear to remain sane!

The Cops and Robbers SP is quite humorous, but I think once I move to Bridgeport, I'm removing all the 'Personality' components from SP. They're fun, but they're becoming a bit too much, for me.

PiB - Nicarra November 17, 2010 at 3:09 AM  

:) I don't cycle some of my games. Mainly just the Sammy blog and the adventure blog when the game was too glitchy.

I did get a sense of how long you stuck with some Sims when Mere and Jeb have filled their LTW before little Amelia was even born. My Sims do frequently get there, but not until old age or nearly old age for most wants.

I probably will turn off the personalities again at some point. Cute but not essential.

Unknown November 17, 2010 at 3:34 AM  

Well, Sammy is worth cycling! I know I personally enjoy getting attached to him and watching him life out multiple different lives.

Man... Jeb's LTW was done even before Bradley was born. In fact, he got to the top of a career track 3 times now, before he was an elder. I love it! Although... Amelia's teenager-dom is being expedited a little. Kaleeko is not waiting another 40 Sim days to get to Bridgeport!

Also, referring to myself in third person generally means it's bed-time. :) Til tomorrow, lovelies!

Anonymous,  November 17, 2010 at 5:03 PM  

I'm a little late to the party. But, what a party!

Oh, Alesha...I've been in your shoes, little one. This is a hurt that will follow into old age even as it makes you stronger.

Naomi! Oooo, she's quite the accomplished little hacker for one so young. I can see Thomas and Carolina have tutored her in some unusual skills. Heehee.

Unknown November 17, 2010 at 5:15 PM  

Hey hey, Chrysame! :D

Alesha is really quite the toughie. Her life is not easy, and won't be for quite a while. But, even though she's strong, she still feels the hurt. :( She does her best to hide it, though.

Unlike Amelia, who can sometimes be a gigantic crybaby. ;) Haha.

Naomi is smart, but the thumbdrive her daddy gave her did most of the work for her. Still, I think it's safe to say she's got a bit of a genius streak in her. And, she motivated!

Ha! Naomi's the brains, Alesha's the brawn, and Amelia's the... distraction. XD Basically.

PiB - Nicarra November 17, 2010 at 6:33 PM  

I do feel for Alesha but Amelia is due for some major hurt too when she finds that Naomi was after data from a computer. Will they be friends after that?

Unknown November 17, 2010 at 6:54 PM  

Will they still be friends? Good question!

Answer: ... You shall see. ;)

Haha. I have to say, sometimes it stinks playing so far in advance, because it's really hard not revealing what happens! Ach!

PiB - Nicarra November 17, 2010 at 7:13 PM  

My sympathies about the not revealing...

The hardest part of Sammy and the black widow was trying not to reveal that the guys were dead without lying about it. At least they were all pretty happy right up to the moment they died.

Di Al Martini November 19, 2010 at 8:58 AM  

Wow! Excellent chapter! I love your writing, how you describe the emotions.
Great pictures too. I like June's dialogues.
Poor Alesha... I really feel for her. I am glad that Bradley could understand her mother's situation. It must be tough for Meredith, but she has a nice son. :D Naomi is really something. I wonder what she was searching for.

Jen November 20, 2010 at 10:02 PM  

Oh that little...! lol
Wonder if that's the only reason Naomi is hanging out with Amelia..hmm.

I have a lot of questions now. ;)

Poor Alesha. I like her she's sweet.
I think though unfortunately Amelia may have made the wrong decision in not being friends with her anymore.

Loved June's out burst towards Chandra's ghost. Everyone else seemed too scared to do anything!

And Brad speaking with Meredith. He actually believes her doesn't her. I think he also believes that his mother could never do wrong. That's cute.

Wonderful writing and screens! :)

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