Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chapter 19 Distorted Truths

"Does it hurt when you use your power on someone?"

Alex sits near by on the kitchen counter as I slice up some vegetables to make a small salad. He sits near quietly watching me as I slice through peppers with a knife. We spent the afternoon outside waiting for his shirt to dry, and when it was time for me to go inside, he basically invited himself in. I didn't bother to pretend that the company wouldn't be nice.

"No, but they know when it happens," he says.

A natural quiet has grown between us over the course of the afternoon. Neither one of us feel the need to fill the quiet with chatter.

Then he asks me innocently, "Where you come from, is it very different?"

All afternoon, we've been gently prodding each other for information. So far we've stayed pretty far away from anything very personal.

"Yeah, kinda. I mean, its kinda weird cause its so similar too in some ways too."

"Shouldn't it? Wildlanders come from your place."

I stop chopping and look up at him. Right away I can see the confusion on his face at my reaction.


"Wildlanders are from your home?"

I've spent all afternoon talking with him, and I've come to realize how easy it is to misunderstand Alex. The words he uses are all words I'm familiar with, but together they make no sense.

I stop chopping and turn to face him. "Wait, are you saying that the Wildlanders are actually Neutrals?"

Alex looks really perplexed now. He hops off the counter to stand in front of me looking down at me with some concern which he bravely tries to mask.

"Did no one tell you that?"

I shake my head, more to clear it out than to answer his question. "Wait, you mean just some of the Wildlanders, right?"

He watches me carefully. "No. All of them."

I'm not sure what to say. It's only something he heard. That's the definition of a rumor, and rumors are usually lies or misconceptions passed along by word of mouth. Except for those times when they're just distorted truths.

I don't know what I'm feeling. Everything spins around in my stomach fighting its way out from the inside. In school they told us about the Labs run illegally by rogue companies. They also told us that there had been people here spilling over the from Lost Territory.

It had felt bad when I thought the local people were experimented on, but it feels worse to know that those people, possibly even Henri, once lived the life I had before coming here.

"Are you okay?" Alex asks, his green eyes shining in the light full of worry like liquid.

I look up at him, still feeling off. A realization has hit me and I feel like I've just been cruising through life with my eyes and mind blocked from questions that I should have asked about before now.

"Alex, do you know what this means? If that's true?"

He doesn't of course. It's clear he doesn't know what to feel, but worry is in the lead. I don't know how to tell him that I've been lied to and I just now figured it out. And I don't know how to explain the new way I'm seeing Henri. If he really came from our side, if he lived a life even remotely similar to the one Mom and me lead before all of this started, maybe he's not a complete alien. Maybe we have a tiny bit more in common than I realized.

But before I can even find the words to try to begin to explain, Henri walks through the door his eyes automatically falling on Alex and me standing there in the kitchen.

Jimmy steps in behind him after a pause, his face a mask as his eyes take in Alex and me standing near each other. Just like any normal person, Alex becomes tense under his gaze even though I’m sure that Alex can hold his own.

"Alex," Henri says in a stern, gruff tone, "What are you doing here?"

"Um, that’s my fault." I can feel my cheeks betray me when Henri and Jimmy’s eyes fall on me. "It was raining earlier, so I invited him inside."

There’s no need to go further into it. Henri doesn’t ask for more. He picks up one of the binders from the shelf and hands it to Jimmy who still has his eyes on me and Alex. His eyes are so clear and alert, I can see him taking in how close Alex and I stand. He can probably feel my flush from across the room.

"Alex, you’re not staying for dinner. I can’t afford to feed extra people everyday." Henri then turns on Jimmy too. "You’re not staying either. You’ve got your own food."

Jimmy’s face breaks out one of those smiles I thought only appear around Brandon. "C’mon, Alex. That’s all the warning we get."

Next Chapter -->


I hope it's clear what's going on here. This is something that actually hits very close to home for me. I grew up in California and was educated here, but somehow no one had bothered to tell us about the Japanese Internment Camps of WWII. I found out about it in college when a teacher made mention of it in a class one day.

I wasn't the only one who didn't know. No one my age did. And the teacher was amazed and shocked that no one had ever told us.

And to deviate completely from that story, I bring a little surprise. I figure since he makes an appearance here, it's appropriate to link to it, lol.


  1. You know I half expected Paula to ask him to try his power on her just to know what it was like. Assuming of course that he could be trusted to demonstrate without taking advantage.

    I think I was as surprised as Paula regarding the Wildlanders. She seemed to be attempting to reassure herself it was just rumor and supposition. But the impact it will have on her perceptions from here on is huge. It certainly can paint Henri in a very different light. It also makes it more difficult to know who to trust and who to believe. When you live most of your life believing in one thing and learn it was a lie, it is extremely jarring. It also makes those people seem even more dangerous.

    Jimmy=comic relief sometimes ya know?

  2. I have to comment on the topic of Japanese internment camps. I actually just learned about them while reading Farewell to Manzanar in eight grade this past year. It's incredible how it's so covered up and I can see how that's replicating over here.

    Very nice chapter, I'm sort of hopping in midway, reading bits and pieces, so if my comments don't make too much sense, I'm sorry. P:

  3. All sorts of interesting things in this chapter!

    I've experienced that sort of shock in real life as well. Not with anything so big like internment camps (or Wildlanders!) but more with personal things from my family. When you learn the truth, you sort of think, "Well, hell. Wouldn't it have been nice if I'd know that all along?"

    So in a small way, I can identify with Paula here too. Everything she thought was one way may now be another. It's a lot of information to process.

    It makes sense though, that the Wildlanders and the Neutrals once lived the same kind of life. I had never considered it before but I guess I never assumed Henri had always lived the way he lives now.

  4. Woah, really? Come to think of it, I never heard about it in school either. I learned about the interment camps on my own since I was a bit of a WWII history nut in middle school.

    Ooh, that was one heck of a revelation. It really does change how one looks at some of the characters. I'm very intrigued!

    On another note, I love Paula's pained expressions. They're so...gorgeous. I don't know if that's the right word to describe them, but I think they're perfect for the moment.

    And that one facial shot of Alex totally reminds me of a tiger. He really does have some...feline-like features. I guess it's pretty fitting for his character, lol.

  5. Gayl, lol! That's crazy, but you never know. Probably not at this stage because she's not that brave and doesn't trust him that much yet.

    She probably was trying to reassure herself. You're right that learning something you thought you knew was a lie is very jarring. It will also greatly affect how she sees these people I think.

    And yes, sometimes he is, lol! Jimmy is swimming in contradictions I think. Or maybe it's just that duality of his.

    Amelia, you're on eighth grade? Oh man, I feel old, lol. But you see it replicating where you are? Hmmm. That's scary and interesting. I'll have to look more into that.

    lol, it's okay. Thank you for the comment.

    Carla, thanks.

    Yeah, exactly like that. It's just as bad with family though!

    It's definitely a lot to process and turns a lot of things on their heads.

    I definitely can't wait to get more into life before in a hopefully unexpected way.

    Nicole, yeah, really. I was embarrassed at first that I didn't know, but then no one else did. No teachers made mention of it and it certainly was NOT in the text books which is what disturbed me the most.

    lol, actually I loved her pained looks too. I don't know where those came from. She was just chatting with him. I especially love the one where she's looking up at him. That one made Alex talk to me enough to write some stuff down before I got distracted again.

    Alex really does look very feline in that shot. Huh! He really built himself for the most part. I really didn't spend much time on his face at all. I spent more time on the CC for him than I did on him.

  6. Oh and I completely forgot to throw in this link to the conversation. Funny this article popped up on yahoo mail today.

    It's about the kids of the people who were picked up for being spies. Imagine that.

  7. Ooh, this definitely adds a new twist to things, and it must've been quite the shock to find out that way.

    Very interesting indeed.

  8. I always take note of how nicely Henri is dressed. That's just a very interesting and consistent detail!

    Oh yes, I get this too! Like Carla said, more with private family secrets, but still, it's shocking to find out all these things about people and situations you thought you knew so well.

    Ha, I wanted Paula to ask him to try the power on her too, lol!

    LOL @ Henri and Jimmy at the end! OMG, sometimes they're almost like an ordinary family! Or well, kind of like my family, which isn't really ordinary ;) We would always have random kids showing up at our house, and with so many kids/cousins that belonged there, if even half of us had friends over, there was like 20 kids to feed. My dad should have opened a restaurant, lol!

    Anyway... Jimmy is funny! *heart-farts for Jimmy!* <3 :)

    Do TS3 Sims heart-fart, or is that just TS2?

  9. It's interesting how communities can hide their past. I live in a part of the country that used to be very industrial - steelworks in the city and lots of small mining villages nearby. In the 80s a lot of that industry was devastated and many of the mining pits are no longer there - I know someone doing research amongst the former pit communities and the young people there play on a field that they call 'the pit' because that's where the pit used to be - but many of them don't actually know why it's called that - and even though mining was the heart of the village for most of the adults' lives, they now avoid talking about it so much that only 25 years or so later, a whole generation has grown up knowing nothing of it. Weird.

    You're making great use of those hacks and poses that are becoming available - I really must take some time to experiment with those.

    I am really worried/excited about Henri's conversation with Paula.

  10. ok, just in case Blogger ate my post...and in case it didn't, my apologies. Delete one of these comments.

    stunning revelation for Paula. A group of people she considered, well, crazy at best, are now her. Paula is Neutral. She's not wild/crazy. Wildlanders are wild and crazy. If Wildlanders are Neutral, then that means that either Paula is really something she doesn't believe she is (using wild and crazy again, sorry); or somebody has been telling some wild and crazy tales about Wildlanders.

    Why. Only one reasonable answer: someone has something to gain.

    Who. How about the well dressed man who just walked in the door and ordered everybody else out.

    Or maybe he's just as deluded as everybody else. Or he really knows and he's part of a conspiracy.

    You know, this brings every ugly, self serving paranoid conspiracy 'plot' way too close for comfort. The poor people who believe. And the people who use them.

    My god you are good.

    Paula asking Alex if it hurts when he uses his power, and if he would be willing to try it on her. That would be a leap of faith for both of them, wouldn't it?

  11. Poor isn't surprising that she didn't know. Maybe I weirdly inferred it or just confused Wildlanders with some of the other people we've met, but Edy and Michael's story kinda prepared me for this secret, I think. It will probably make Paula understand a bit better why her mother could end up having a child with Henri, and it certainly explains why Henri still wears fairly normal clothing, etc..

    I can't wait to see how this impacts her relationship with Henri!

  12. Thanks, Poida. It definitely changes things a little, doesn't it?

    Laura, hmm, that's an interesting detail that's probably my subconscious (though still important). It just doesn't feel right putting Henri in anything less. He wears button down shirts better than anyone else can. The loosest clothing I've had him in are jeans and a tee.

    Meanwhile, Jimmy's clothes are usually ripped.

    Also, I imagine that Henri's house is exactly like that, especially with Paula there now. He walks in and sees Alex and probably sighs to himself before telling him to get out, lol.

    No farting hearts in TS3. :(

    Rad, that's intersting. Why would they bother hiding something like that? I'd think that usually communities hide things they aren't proud of, so maybe they look down on their own past in some way? But isn't it interesting to see how quickly things can be forgotten? This is stuff I'm playing with now in this story in this time period.

    Also, thanks! I'm having a lot of fun. Though still 2/3 of this entry was just chatting and then later on moving standing sims, lol.

    SB, oh, you put it in a way that I hadn't thought of actually. I see her looking out and thinking, "They were once like me." But it's true that at some point she may realize that she could be like them!

    Also, conspiracy theories, I love it! It's true, Henri most likely will have some answers. How involved is he is a good question. I wonder if you'll be surprised at some of the answers

    If Paula ever asks Alex to use his power on her, it would be a huge leap of faith. HUGE. I don't know if that would ever occur to her though, mostly because even if she likes Alex because he seems like a nice guy, I think she's ready to curl into a ball after being on the Wildlanders side for too long!

    Rachel, lol, yes, Edith and Michael's story slightly referenced it. I'm sure that I referenced it, if not in the story probably in the comments without meaning too. It was actually one of those things that surprised me while I was free writing. Paula didn't know, but to me it's common knowledge. Doesn't that sound crazy? But I just mean I'd never thought about what she thinks about it and what she thinks she knows, and the Neutrals probably wouldn't exactly be keen on remembering, so it made sense when I thought about it.

    Anyway, yes, hopefully she'll be able to understand her mother better, and understand Henri a little to. Or at least be able to start on some common ground with him.

  13. Knowing that Jimmy reacts to Alex like how he does to Brandon makes me hugely relieved. 8) And find him trustworthy. Or maybe I shouldn't be jumping to conclusions at all. :X

    I can understand how Paula is feeling too. There was once when Japanese students came to my country (Singapore) and they broke down crying upon learning the truth about WW2 at our historical sites. And we were shocked to realise that Japan has been covering up their misdeeds in their education system all the while. :\

    It's funny that Henri seems to care about Paula in a fatherly way, like minding guys getting too close to her. Or was it only because it was Alex and he can be dangerous?

    And I find it especially amusing that the host chases people out of their house, when for us, the host usually asks, or even insists, guests to stay for dinner. ;)

  14. Huh, I actually didn't think of that-- Jimmy's reaction to Alex. Jimmy does have his own thoughts on Alex. You might be surprised, but I think you'd be on the right track. Jimmy isn't threatened by Alex, that's for sure.

    Oh, that's right. I'd heard about Japan covering up its misdeeds too very heavily. Amazing. Wasn't it only a few years ago Japan made news because the Prime Minister actually publicly apologized-- which meant that they were admitting to their deeds which the current people in power were trying very hard to ignore.

    I have no comment on Henri's minding anything, lol. Really, he's a murky man even to me, so I can't imagine what he was thinking right then, and mostly that's because I imagine he didn't know either. If he felt something like concern about Alex being so close to Paula, I don't think he'd admit it to himself that he cares enough to not want someone like Alex around her. But I also don't see him making up any real excuse for himself to delude himself into thinking that he's not just a bit concerned for Paula.

    Does that make any sense? LOL! Basically, I don't see him admitting it, and I don't see him coming up with another answer for his own behavior.

    LOL! Yeah, my family is like that too. You'd best come hungry, 'cause "No" is not an option. I think the fact that Henri boots both men out of his house rather than inviting them to dinner is definitely a clue to his personality. He's not afraid to speak his mind. He's also not very social. And that first breakfast where he was, Brandon and Jimmy pretty much invited themselves over and he capitulated.

  15. I think the community I was talking about don't talk about their past because it's too painful. Everything in their lives was about the pit and when the heart of the community was ripped out, reminiscing reminds them of what they lost and they can't get back. Sometimes we hide things not because we are ashamed of what we have done but because we are ashamed of what was done to us.

  16. Quite a revelation for Paula, and the closeness between her and Alex, in so short a time, makes me suspicious once again, and I don't know why. The 'natural quiet' (love that) that they share was sweet.

    Love Henri, doesn't like to share a whole lot, food included. And Jimmy standing, quietly bemused.
    Again love all the dynamics in play, I have no idea who to trust, and I am so liking that~

  17. Rad, thank you! That's an amazing point. That's so true, and very important.

    Drew, lol, you are so suspicious! But I won't discourage that. You should always be suspicious. Always!

    I'm glad you're liking that aspect of it though, lol. I don't always mean to make everyone so suspicious, they just are by the nature of the world here.

    But I will remind that Brandon trusts Alex.

  18. I must be the only one who doesn't get it. Was the whole world Neutral Territory or were the Wildlands and the Neutral Territory one and the same Territory?
    Neutrals experimenting on Neutrals sounds like there was a very inequal social system in that Territory. I'm starting to believe that there might have been a revolution whether Experiments escaped or not.
    I wonder if the Neutral Territory is a more fair society now, but doubt it because they imprisoned Paula's mum for having a child with Henri. If Wildlanders and neutrals share the same ancestry, they could have banned her to the Wildlands with Paula.

    We learned about the internment of Japanase Americans in school as well as Japanese POW's and the holocaust. In the same year we had to watch a movie about what would happen if a 1 megaton atom bomb fell on the county of Kent.
    I was 14 and it had a profound impact on my personality. It left scars that keep itching no matter how old I am now. And I am old, believe me! :)

    I find this latest development absolutely fascinating and hope Henri will shed more light on this. As his daughter I feel she is even more entitled to know the full truth and not a distorted one.

    Wonderful chapter! :)

  19. I wouldn't say you're not getting it-- you're just focusing on other details. This whole chapter is just about Paula learning that what she's been taught had a few omissions.

    There will be some answers to your questions soon, and we'll address the other issues the Neutrals have eventually.

    I found it horribly ironic that my teachers often talked about the holocaust and portrayed us as the good guys entering the fray to save the day while neglecting to mention that we also had out own issues.

  20. What a revelation. This changes things, particularly for Paula and her vision of the world she thought she knew.

    It's sad really that society feels the need to cover up these little details on the assumption that "What they don't know won't hurt them" but it does.

    I was particularly intrigued by the intensity that Jimmy was taking in the situation and I do get the feeling Henri isn't comfortable with the prospect of Paula making friends with any of "his men" in a manner of speaking.

  21. Blogger is being very weird lately! I've got your comment, but I can't see your comment on the site.

    Carnaxa, you are so right. What you don't know does hurt because you always find out eventually. It just slips!

    As for Jimmy, it's good to be intrigued I think. And Henri probably has plenty of reasons for not wanting Paula getting too close to any of his men.

    I haven't written out this dinner yet, but I'm sure it promises to be interesting, lol. I think I almost feel bad for Henri.

  22. All along I had thought that Henri was brought up in a lab like Michael - but am I right now in thinking that he had been neutral once then snatched and experimented on? That would certainly explain the "normal" clothes as some of those above me have pointed out. It could also make it difficult for him to relate to the younger generations who were born out in the wildlands and don't know any different.


    or I've gotten it completely wrong, which is entirely possible *lol*

    I love the easy relationship between Paula and Alex, there seems to be a bond there that happened so easily they probably didn't even notice it. We've seen Jimmy's reaction to it, which didn't surprise me, but I'm starting to wonder how Brandon would feel about it.

    PS - I find the little side note on the interment camps interesting. As an Australian, I've known about both our own and the American ones for as long as I can remember, but to be honest I haven't a clue how I found out - most likely while watching a movie with my dad when I was younger, I guess. I'm pretty certain it wasn't in a textbook. Thinking about it, it's entirely possible that my younger brothers (all in their thirties) still don't know. That's a little disturbing.

  23. See, that's another thing that I hadn't thought about. Since this story popped out of my head, I didn't think about the comparison of Michael and Henri. Paula doesn't know about people being raised in the lab, but she didn't know where the people who were experimented on came from.

    As for your thinking, it's amazing how much you manage to extrapolate from just getting a new piece of information! I can't even lie and say you're not right. This is definitely something that will be visited again.

    I would imagine that Paula and Alex didn't notice the bond forming. There is a reason for the bond, but these two haven't hit on it yet since they were mostly just taking in topical details about each other and nothing very personal.

    Really? It would be disturbing if your younger brothers didn't know. I don't like the idea of anyone being seen as a hero above others, you know? Like we swooped in and saved the day and completely ignore the fact that we rounded up our own people, took their property, and threw them into camps.