Friday, December 25, 2009

Chapter 2 Brandon

So far I'm finding some very large discrepancies between what I've been taught and reality.

I'd been told that Wildlanders struggled to survive, fighting each other for food and resources and living in the forests like animals. Yet here we are driving a car to what appears to be an apartment building. An actual apartment building that was probably once used to house the ones who ran this support city for the south. An entire city still standing and being used by experiments who aren't supposed to be living this way according to everything I've been taught.

The younger man who hasn't said a word to me all trip, and whose name I don't even know yet, hops out of the car after we've barely parked. With a sweep of his arm, he pulls off his shirt and tosses it into the car revealing a very large and intricate tattoo on his back. There's something about it that makes me shiver. Maybe it's the intricate swirls around the skull that probably took hours and hours. Or the way it draws attention to his muscles as he moves. Or, just possibly, it has to do with the fact that a skull is usually the symbol of death.

I hop out of the car after Mr. Smith half dragging my duffle bag with me. Another man with dark hair steps over to us just as the one who rode in the car with us steps around.

"Brandon," the now shirtless man says to the dark haired man before he steps over to him pausing for a moment to say something else, very low, in the ear of the darker haired man before he walks off into the gathering crowd that watches us warily.

For half a second, the smile on the dark haired man's face dims as he watches the other one walk away.

He seems to shrug it off, turning his attention back to me with a small smile. "Hi, I'm Brandon." The first thing I notice on him is his smile. And that he's wearing a shirt.

My father clears his throat. "Brandon's going to take you for today. I have other contacts I need to reach."

I just met him, and he's already handing me off. Does he even know my name?

Brandon reaches forward and takes my duffel bag from me. His eyes almost twinkle in the bright sunlight. "Paula, right? C'mon, I'll take you upstairs."

Upstairs? Like to his room? Other than this man's name and his eyes that sparkle at some joke so inside I'm sure he's the only one who gets it, I know nothing about him. Sure, he looks friendly, I'd even say cute, but other than that what do I know?

My father nods before walking away leaving me alone with this stranger who has no ties to me.

Brandon puts the duffel down in his room. I stand in the living room and take in the sight. The apartment is not what I expected. It looks old and well lived in, but still it’s missing something important to it. I can’t really put my finger on it as I glance around taking in the sight of the old fridge and the table by the window with the different chairs, none of which match each other.

My head swims and observing the room almost seems to help until I realize that I’m thirsty and my stomach hurts from hunger. I don't know when I last ate. But I don't want to impose on him any more than I already am just by being here.

“You must be hungry.” Brandon speaks softly, that slight friendly upturn of his lips seeming to seek to comfort me.

“I’m also tired. You haven’t worked out a way to sleep and eat at the same time, have you?”

He steps over to the kitchen. “Successfully, no. But if you want to see if it can be done, I wouldn’t blame you.”

I sit down on one of the chairs which creaks and wiggles a bit. Brandon moves around the small kitchen easily, even opening the fridge once. I’m curious about it. The fridge makes no noise, so I’m pretty sure it isn’t on. It seems that there isn’t any electricity at all. When he opens the fridge, I see he’s using it as a pantry, stocking a few cans and jars.

They don’t have electricity. Do they even have working plumbing?

Brandon glances up at me as he spreads something on a piece of bread for me. “Don’t worry. We do have working toilets.” At my confusion, his eyes twinkle again. “You just had that look.”

He steps around the kitchen island and hands me a plate with the sandwich on it before he steps back to grab a cup and a jug of clear liquid. “Water. We’ve got running water, but I wouldn’t suggest drinking it.”

I thank him when he sits down with me. “Sorry, I’m not really, I mean…”

“S’okay. I know.” It does seem as if he understands. “After you eat, you should get some rest.”

For lack of anything better to do, I agree. Sleeping is always an acceptable plan B.

It’s still daylight as I relax in the bed, resting on my side. My jeans and shirt are thick under the cover, but I still shiver as my body tries to adapt to the sensation of laying down in some strange man's bed. It's not the same as laying in a hotel bed. These sheets smell like him. He sleeps here. It's his bed, and it doesn't make it easy to close my eyes.

Outside the window, I can hear noises from down below. People talking in the alley behind the building. I don't dare look. I got enough of a look when we pulled up and everyone's eyes fell on us, particularly me, the obvious stranger.

The sounds that travel from down below to reach my ears are almost malicious.

What do I do now? I don't fit in here. I don't know what's going to happen. My father didn't exactly seem happy to have me. The ride back was very awkward. I guess he was just finding out too.

Oh Mom, what did you get us into? And then I realize that I can't fully blame her. It's my DNA they're going to use against her. Without even having to do anything, I know that some of the guilt is mine. If I wasn't here, they'd never have known. They'd have nothing on my mother.

I sit quietly for a while, listening to the sounds of the outside, the shouts, and the laughing. Fearing that thoughts will lead to more thoughts until I’m in a vicious cycle that spins out of control causing tears, I don’t think.

But it does come crashing down. It starts quietly at first, and then, then I’m crying, mashing the pillow to my mouth, trying hard not to cry out loud, not to make a sound, to avoid having Brandon come in here and try to comfort me in that strange way strangers will do when they have some weird girl crying on their bed. Like it’s his problem. It’s my problem. But I just need to let it out, and then I can deal. I can deal with this because I have to.

Next Chapter -->

Note: The background map has finally been updated to include the Southlands. A little blurb has also been added. You'll find a New! in front of the new paragraph.

Merry Christmas everyone! And for those who've already finished up their holiday, I hope you all had a pleasant one.


  1. Merry Christmas! Ours finished exactly 12 hours ago, but I think it's still going on where you are!

    Poor Paula. She's so very alone right now, even with Brandon around but she just doesn't have much choice, other than sucking it up and dealing.

    I wonder if Brandon is entirely on the up and up, as he seems to be. I hope so, for Paula's sake but who knows? Really odd for her father to just hand her over. What was that, hours after they'd met? I'm curious about her dad's "contacts" and about what the relationship between him and Brandon is.

  2. Oh yes, we just got home from Christmas dinner with the family. I am so stuffed! Still a few more hours to go here.

    As usual, you bring up wonderful points, all of which I can't say anything about of course, lol! But answers will come.

  3. Sad, eerie, unsettling, like walking around in a dream when you think you know the people but they don't react the right way.

    What father hands off his daughter like that? Brandon's charm seems inoffensive, non threatening, but he knows her name. That immediately means someone told him about her, arranged everything in advance, and you have to assume it was her father.

    I love the detail about using the fridge as a pantry!

    Beautiful writing!!

  4. SB, very good catch with that detail about the name! Didn't think anyone would notice that and I'd have to point it out later. Folks, I present a clue! *clamps mouth shut*

    Oh that's so difficult. But I'll say no more.

    Thank you very much for reading and commenting, SB.

  5. Poor Paula...what a foreign situation. Her father must either really trust Brandon or really not care about Paula. The guy with a tattoo is very interesting...I wonder what he said to Brandon?

    I'm loving this story so far. :)

  6. Hope you had a lovely christmas!

    I feel so sorry for Paula, lost and dragged into the mind games of these people she knows nothing about and being made to play the pawn of some game she doesn't fully understand.

  7. Thanks, Rachel! I sure hope you like this story, because it seems to keep throwing stuff my way and promising to stick around for a bit.

    As for her father, with him it could be a little of both. But, yes, a few answers next week.

    I did have a nice holiday, thanks Carnaxa!

    And once again, you fully hit the nail on the head. She is definitely a pawn right now.

  8. Great chapter. I can't wait until I learn more about this Brandon and I also feel quite sorry for Paula.

    I can't help but wonder if Brandon has the ability to read her thoughts. He kept correctly guessing what she was thinking at certain points. I know people can read expressions, but that's just ridiculous. ;)

  9. Ugh, that last paragraph was just heartbreaking, and so wonderfully written.

    I also wonder if Brandon is to be trusted. I'll echo what Rachel said, either it means her father trusts him, or he really doesn't care about what happens to her.

    Looking forward to more :)

  10. lol, Nicole. Let me just add that true telelpaths are supposed to be rare in this world. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

    Wow, thank you Laura. I love that I have you all suspicious even of the good seeming guys. I mean, he has a nice smile, what more do you people want? XD

  11. Ah, it figures I was incredibly off. :P Thanks for the info.

    Yeah, I have suspicions about Brandon as well. He may LOOK nice, but it isn't enough to make me trust him.

  12. LOL, you've scared us enough that we don't trust ANYBODY around here! :)

  13. LOL! Suspicious lot you are. I've done my job. Trust no one!

  14. Wow, this story is great.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with next ;)

  15. It is natural to take on guilt and blame even when you are an innocent victim as it were but poor Paula is also thrust into a world with strangers who seem to know who she is. It feels very suspicious...even if Brandon seems kind.

  16. I too, am very suspicious of Brandon, don't know why, just a niggling feeling.
    And how does tattoo hunk figure into this? Is that him watching Brandon and Paula in the background, or is it another shirtless, mysterious person. Oops, I think it is, the pants are different, LOL!

    'Sleeping is always an acceptable plan B.' I couldn't agree more.
    I really feel for Paula here, Outsider in spades, great update!

  17. Welcome, poida!

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Gayl. lol, I totally love making you feel suspicious! I can't wait until Friday for the next chapter to hear what you all think then.

    Hi Drew! Ha, oops. I know, the guy in the back is a little weird. When I took these pictures, my mod to allow for more sims on the lot was not updated, so I only had eight, three of which couldn't be in the background, the other two being Brandon and Paula. The hunk was already supposed to have wandered off. XD

    Thank you for reading, Drew.

  18. What a great update and such a clever way to introduce the Southlands and its inhabitants to us!
    Paula's dad reminds me a little of Michael. He seems cold and offhandedly but I'm sure he cares... and if Brandon knows her name, so does he.
    I'm just thinking if Paula is a "half-experiment", she may have latent special powers. Brandon doesn't strike me as an experiment, but that is only because he is wearing a shirt and because he subtly ensures Paula that he is not 'picking' up her thoughts but knows what Paula is thinking from her body language and facial expressions. (ouf! Long sentence.) Then one never knows... maybe he is of mixed parents too.
    I love the way Paula thinks in a good way of her mother, but it is sad that she thinks she herself is to blame for the trouble at hand.
    I think Paula's mum and dad loved each other when they (made) had Paula...

    You write in an enthralling way, Lunar. I was totally and effortlessly transported into your world once again. Thank you!

    Belated Merry Christmas... I'm still in time to wish you a very happy New Year! :)

  19. I'm already hooked ; this story is fascinating. I love the intimacy of the shots and the words and how it's almost like a case study. It definitely reminds me of books like I am Legend.

    I love the use of present tense in this too, it really draws you in and makes you part of the discoveries and action. I've never been very good at using present tense in stories, so i really admire this.

    I'm certainly going to be reading this a lot more!!

    Mr. Phoebe


  20. Ooo, Moondaisy! You are always so insightful. When I'm writing, sometimes I ask myself, "What would Moondaisy think?"

    Henri is like Michael in the way he's rather cold and distant. I'm curious about those two meeting. That would have to be fascinating.

    Oh, I KNEW you'd bring up the helf-experiment angle, and I can tell you I've thought a lot about it! Friday, a bit more will be answered of course.

    In a way, she is right. It's not her fault that she was born, but it is her DNA they're going to use against her mother.

    As for her mom and dad, well, that is going to be interesting if he'll open up about it.

    Aw, thank you very much Moondaisy! That really means a lot.

    And a happy new year to you too!

    Hey, Mr. Phoebe. lol, it does work out almost like a case study. I was thinking about that while writing. I don't want to be a one trick pony studying people from these odd angles, but well, I think I should go with what feels right.

    Thank you for reading and stopping in!

  21. Stunning chapter, I feel for Paula and this situation she has gotten herself into through no fault of her own. Although she DOES think it's her fault, as many children seem to do when something happens to their parents.

    It's possible, I guess, that the father's handling of the situation is how he copes with only recently finding out he has a grown daughter, but somehow I don't think that's the case. Moving on immediately to the next chapter now!

  22. It's hard not to take some of the blame for your parent's mishaps. And to be honest, I've always been fascinated by the idea of retaining some of your parents guilt like the Greek tragedies.

    Thank you very much for your comments. Waking up to find them really helped me start the day today.