Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chapter 3 Arrival

I wake with a start, my heart pounding hard and my hairline covered in sweat from the flames of my dream.

My nightmares are made of my memories.

I need the cold clear air of the morning on my face. Stumbling out of my blanket wrapped around me from the thrashing about I must have done while I was dreaming, I run to the balcony that overlooks my garden. The rough wood of the railing pinches at the skin inside my hand as I grasp the railing tightly, breathing in the cool morning air.

Not far off, I can see the moon going to rest behind the river. I would love nothing more than to run to the river bank and hop right in, but I know I wouldn't be able to get back. Michael has managed to somehow make this house special to hide it from his enemies. The day we moved in, he showed me the empty spot where the house was supposed to sit. As we walked up the hill together, the house seemed to appear from a mist. Anyone could walk right past us, and Michael said they could even walk through us without knowing we were here. So any guests must be invited by him.

The world outside is dangerous. Predators roam around picking up strays for their own sick pleasure. I wonder if that's what happened to Melanie, but I don't dare ask her. Whatever happened to her left her sick, sad, and terrified. She's really only begun to open up to us, particularly Mark.

The cool misty air leaves a cold trail of dew on my exposed skin. Stepping back inside with a shiver, I decide that I should make breakfast early in case Michael is already awake.

I put Michael's portion of breakfast on a plate and take it to the dining room to put it in his place at the head of the table. He usually knows when his food is ready, so I don't worry about telling him that breakfast is done. Just as I'm turning to head back into the kitchen to find a way to keep the food warm until Melanie and Mark wake up, I hear the sound of high heels on the wooden planks of the hall.

"Better set another place, Suzie."

I turn and see Gina standing in the archway to the dining room.

"It's Edith."

"Whatever." Gina smoothly glides to her chair next to Michael's. The old chair doesn’t creak under her like it does when Michael sits. Her hand waves carelessly at me as if to hurry me along. "I'm waiting. I'm rather hungry. Being up most of the night does that."

She is the first of his guests, as she would be. Though she looks older, Gina is sixteen and dangerous. On her back, she bears the mark of her tribe. Were I to meet her as a stray outside of the house, I would be as doomed as a mouse between a cat's paws. Inside the house, she must respect the rules of courtesy they have between each other. Since I am Michael's servant, I'm his property. So long as she doesn't stop me from performing my duties through harm or distraction, she's free to treat me however she wants.

By the time I enter the short hallway with a plate for Gina, Michael sits in his place at the table.

Gina doesn't look happy from where I stand. I imagine that he's probably just slighted her by putting her in her place as he does from time to time when she gets too physical with him, and I feel a slight bit of satisfaction at her displeasure.

The heavy door clicks shut behind me as I step around the table to place her plate in front of her. A stray hair tickles my face, and I reach up to tuck it behind my ear with my fingertips. “Do you need anything else, Michael?”

Gina's eyes fall sharply on me at the use of his name. Michael is unfazed. “We’re fine,” he says before Gina can find something to complain about.

I can't help smiling at my own impetuousness as I walk away. Gina never calls him "Michael." Actually, I don't think I've even heard her use a name of any sort for him.

Everyone begins arriving that night. The group of trusted are powerful, but small. I've heard them refer to themselves as Michael's "Generals" before.

One of the first ones I see is the one I only know as the Ultimate Soldier.

The Ultimate Soldier is one of the few experiments that haunts my memories and my nightmares. He was there that night my life was changed. To as small child as I had been, he was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. At least until he tossed my mother and me into the fire.

"Still here, eh?" He laughs with a smile that shows his teeth. "The Old Man will be glad to hear it. Looking forward to your cooking."

The Old Man-- that was the only name I knew for him. The Old Man was a cook and a trader. He was the one who kept the group occupying the lab alive and traded for any supplies they needed with the nearby village. From him I learned how to cook with fresh ingredients from the garden.

I always wondered if at some point he'd simply forgotten his name or if he abandoned it when he took up with the Ultimate Soldier. He wasn't like the others. The others had no names because what they did required that they all be less than human. Names would give them something their victims could plea to when faced with pain and death.

But the Old Man had been the most human of all. He was the one who brought me back to life after I had become a living dead creature.

Next Chapter -->

Note: Glossary has been updated, though I think you can guess what Edy means by "stray" and "predator."


  1. I feel really sorry for Edith. She refers to herself as his slave and Michael certainly doesn't seem to act any differently.

    Not to mention his guests seem somewhat rude to the poor woman.

    I get the sense that Edith is very much resigned to her place in the world.

    I do love these little glimpses you're giving us of the world. I'm speculating that Michael is up to no good.

  2. For some reason, after I read your comment, I was all, "Oh but you don't understand!" And then I thought-- crap! You're understanding perfectly!

    Edith is very resigned to her place. For her, this is actually better than the alternatives. It's also part of why I had to leave in Mel and Mark. They're her little support system, without them she wouldn't be this way at all I think. (And it's hard to imagine what she would be like.)

    As for Michael... well he is complicated. Edy has some insight into that, a vague understanding really by this point. Of course, this is also the challenge with a first person story, she can't ever really know what is going on through his head unless he tells her or he mentally connects to her which he hasn't done in years. I really had some trouble coming to terms with that fact.

  3. I was just going to ask if Michael ever got into her head any more, like he did when they were children. So that's been answered.

    Does Edy only think of herself as Michael's slave because of how he treats her or is that how Michael views the situation too? What about Melanie and Mark?

  4. Oh good questions, Carla. But since I am completely sticking to first person view for this story, I won't say what Michael thinks because I only know Edy's side.

    As for Edy and the servant/slave thing, I imagine it's sort of a role she fell into. She'll mention it in one of the future entries.

    And Mel and Mark, they help her out. In the first chapter, I tried to give a little view into their daily life. But for how those two see themselves, I don't really know. Mel's too new, so she probably expects to be given away soon. Mark's been around for a while, but as far as Michael's concerned, he just does his best to stay out of the way.

  5. I'm on pins and needles for this to continue. I'm a devour kind of reader, read a book a day when I get into it, and I'd really like to do that here.

    First person can get tricky, it's so insightful, but limited in the same breath.

  6. Hi, Maisie! I'm glad you are enjoying it. I'm sort of taking my time with it because I don't really have anything lined up after this. XD Though I do have a few ideas.

    For these stories, I really like the idea of using first person like the story teller is making a secret journal inside her head about the story.

  7. I love first-person POV for this story. It even highlights the isolation Edy must feel, that Michael can freely browse her thoughts, but not even in narrative can we get inside his head - very cool perspective!

    I'm also interested to find out how he views their "servant/property" relationship, but yes, tricky tricky how you'll be able to reveal that to us. I bet you can find a way ;)

    And oooh, "living dead creature," I'm very interested to hear more about that!

  8. *hugs* Thanks, Laura. I never even thought about it that way. It's true that he can browse her thoughts easily if he chooses to. I'm sure it's something Mel and Mark think about a lot.

    To be honest, I didn't even think twice when I added it in there, so I've been surprised that you guys are wondering what Michael thinks about it. XD Hopefully I find some way to throw some light on it some how. But I am trying out my clue hiding. There's a lot that Edy can't see because she's so busy telling her story, so keep an eye out!

    Laura, you should come visit Valley Sun Sims. It's not just for Sims 3 storytellers, and I think you'd have a lot to add to the writing discussions.

  9. This chapter gives lots of insights in delightfully subtle ways!
    The quote goes so well with this... both with the Gina scene and the memory of what the Ultimate Soldier did. It probably also sets the tone for what is yet to come.
    I have a feeling that humans are now second-rated to 'experiments' and that the latter treat them like serfs? Can it be that the 'Old Man' is human too and in service to The Ultimate Soldier?
    'Michael and his generals' sounds feodal. It would explain his authority as well as Edy's subservience.
    So, at first I was glad that Michael does not browse Edy's head or memories - at least not unasked. It seemed like a token of respect for her privacy. But now, I'm not so sure. Maybe, the thoughts of a servant don't matter...

  10. Thank you so much for reading and commenting Moondaisy. You've seriously made my day today!

    All of your observations are very true. There is a resentment among Experiments and their children towards the humans that experimented on them and kept them locked up. It's become a prejudice. Even if one was in the Lab through no choice of their own and had nothing to do with the horrors perpetrated, they are still treated horribly by the Experiments who now control the region.

    I imagine it is very feudal now. Experiments fight for territory, and down south there is The Original Experiment who basically runs a kingdom.

  11. My mouth is hanging wide open. What a story! I have to stop reading now, but I cannot WAIT til I can get back to it.

  12. I likws this update too. I loved how much detail you put into the opening scene, when Edy runs to the balcony, and that screenshot with the moon was spectacular.

    Living dead creature, wow. And she came back from the dead? I have to say, you have quite the plot here. It's fantastic!

    And Gina's smokin', lol! (and I'm 16 too so its not creepy for me to say so, hahaha!)

  13. Thanks, Bbop.

    lol, the "living dead" is figurative here. I think I got enough weird already without going there!

    So funny to hear you say that. I feel like I should cover your eyes. You're not young, she's just old for her age!

  14. Interesting! In the brief introductions of the Ultimate Soldier and the Old Man, you've already added depth to them. They may be supporting characters as of right now, but for supporting characters, they are well fleshed out.

  15. Wow, thanks MM. That really means a lot. You'll see both of them again. In this story, and Soldier is bound to reappear elsewhere.