Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chapter 32 The Thing

"What is that?"

The thing stands out among the rotting buildings. It gleams in the quickly dimming sunlight, and I have to stop. Though I don't know what it is, something tells me it's important. The thing towers over most of the other buildings. It's like nothing I've ever seen before.

Alex stops short behind me. He doesn't answer me right away. It takes a moment before he finds the words, and then he says it with care. "The lab."

I don't look at him, I just stare at it. We've been walking all day. Even lunch was on the go. The sun is ready to set, and we don't have much time before it's dark. I know he wants to find a place to be before then, but I can't help staring. The thought occurs to me before I can voice it, and it takes a second before I can even think of a way to ask while making my question very clear.

There's only one way, and the words come out of my mouth louder than I intend them to. "Is this Henri's lab?"

He doesn't speak, so I look at him and catch his grimace and nod. Alex is a Lost Lander, so I don't know what labs mean to him. I'd always assumed the people being experimented on were the Lost Landers, but Alex was the one who told me the truth. The Experiments were other Neutrals not the Lost Landers, so this place shouldn't hold any meaning for him except for being part of Henri's past and the past of the Wildlands.

It surprises me that this building still stands. This building is a testament to a time when Henri was powerless and at the mercy of others who I can only imagine showed him none. Wouldn't he have wanted it gone? It stands so pristine despite the violence that occurred inside it that I wonder if he even could demolish it. Maybe he tried, but it was impossible to take down. Or maybe, being the sort of man he seems to be, Henri just used the shell of the building for his own purposes, staying there until they had the Southlands properly set up or some other sort of plan prepared.

But thirty years is a long time. Henri probably wasn't much older than I am now. He could have been a completely different person when he was a teenager and after just earning his freedom. A small chill rolls down my back.

I turn back to Alex, "Can we go in?"

Alex frowns and looks away. Maybe it is a bad idea strategically. Or maybe he has some inherent fear of trespassing on this important part of history. But I figure that because of its importance, it would be empty, and a place that people are less likely to expect us. All day we've walked with no signs of the others that Alex was worried about, but that doesn't mean we can be careless.

"There are still people here," he says even as he continues to look off into the distance.

"Inside?" My heart races. I need to get inside. I have to see. But from Alex's tone, I can sense that it's not an idea he likes. "The people you had to fight before?"

I look up at him, but he still refuses to look down at me. "No. Humans who refuse to live in the village."

My mouth is dry. It's clear he is meaning to deter me, but this only piques my interest even more. Other humans are living on their own out here without the protection of the tribe since it's doubtful that Henri would offer to protect these people who refuse to play by his rules and help him out. But at the same time they couldn't live out here without his knowing. His people are an army. No matter how tough these people are, they couldn't really stand up to him if he decided he didn't want them there.

"Alex, do you think they'd let us stay if I asked really really nicely?" I step towards the spot Alex is looking and wave a hand in front of his face to force him to look at me.

He looks down at me, but he doesn't look very happy about it. "They will not let me in."

"I won't go in without you, but..." I turn away and look at the dome again. Something tells me that I won't see this on the way back. I may never have this chance to understand Henri again.

I bite my lip unsure of where that thought comes from, but it lingers. Alex looks uncomfortable as if he's somehow caught onto my thought though I'm relatively sure that isn't one of his powers. Probably. I dig in the bag, pull out his shirt, and hand it over to him.

He takes the shirt though he seems unsure and weary. "They will still know."

I nod though I wasn't really expecting the shirt to fool them. "I'll talk to them. They wouldn't hurt you, right?"

He shrugs. "I don't know."

"Then let me go alone and talk to them." I'm ready to head off and find the way in, but Alex grabs me.

"No. Not alone."

I sigh. He'll probably just follow me and if I find someone to talk to, that isn't going to make them comfortable. Something tells me that the humans who've managed this long will spot him from far away and know he's not normal.

It's getting dark, and we need some place to be, plus I am so curious about the humans that have managed to make it on their own.

"All right. Together then."

Next Chapter -->


So I never do this, but whoa! Sorry we're late. I actually wrote this on Thursday and wasn't sure I'd post it until Sunday.

Also, over at Valley Sun Sims Forum, I've posted an interview for this week for anyone who might be curious but doesn't go there. And if you don't go there, then you really should! Everyone there is amazing and supportive. It's a great community for sim players and writers. At the very least visit the story forum for other stories of all sorts.


  1. Someone really should explain to Paula what curiosity does...

    This was unexpected although Paula's need to see it, to find some way to understand her father, was very powerful.

    Isn't Alex taking a tremendous risk at earning Henri's wrath for taking Paula on this little trip? I can't believe anyone would have sanctioned this.

    More and more I am seeing how Paula truly is the sum of her parents and more.

  2. It will be interesting to see the inside of the lab. The most curious part about it, is how they manage to survive there without assistance from anywhere. How they get their food, water, and electricity (assuming they have electricity). I would think they have some means of protecting themselves aside from fear. If they're going to know that Alex has abilities, than they'll probably have some kind of equipment that will alert them. Hmm....

  3. "Someone really should explain to Paula what curiosity does..."

    Ha, for real, right? Curiosity is one thing but it can lead to recklessness really easily.

    I didn't really think of it while I was reading but wow...I can definitely see Cheryl in Paula in this chapter. Which makes me worry for her, actually. We don't know exactly what's going on with Cheryl yet but it's clearly not good.

    So yeah...I'm worried! I don't think Paula seems as concerned as she probably should be.

    BTW, your link doesn't go to your interview at VSS - it goes to an LJ post from August. ;)

  4. Wow. Paula's sudden need to see this place is intriguing to me. She has to see it, and that seems really important. In the time we've known her, she almost never asks for anything, and certainly never demands it--she was really pushing Alex, even knowing that he hated the idea of going in there. I'm surprised at how insistent she was. Her need to understand Henri is amazing--it even distracts her from the task that Alex wants her to accomplish (I'd still be nervous over that). I wonder what, if anything, she'll learn by seeing the inside of the place? How exciting!

  5. The first question that pops into my mind is why are the humans in the old lab allowed to stay there? Henri doesn't seem the type to show much mercy if it doesn't benefit him in some way. Also what he must have been like after gaining his freedom from the people who held him prisoner; there's got to be a lot of rage locked up inside him, the need to hurt those who hurt him, the need to show who has the real power. I mean with a lot of societies like this, it's all about the power isn't it? It drives them, they fight over it, they live it and breathe it. And some I would imagine find themselves intoxicated with it. I mean, imagine if someone said, "Here, have this divine power." Even the most good intentioned person could become twisted with so much power without actually meaning to.

    My next question, how have the humans managed to survive in there. Are Alex's 'kind' so afraid of the old lab that they steer clear of it? Wonder if that's why the humans chose it ...

    Very intriguing.

  6. Oh wow, the lighting in this is amazing! She rich fading light against the shadows. Did you do something different here?

    That said, oh Paula, lol! And oh, Alex! Those two together are just shaping up to a whole lot of trouble, aren't they? He gets one idea in his head, then she gets another, and then whee they're off on some adventure and who knows what comes next? lol!

    I get it though. Man, THE LABS!!! For all that means to Henri and to all of them! I'd so be in there too!

    And I'm also intrigued by these humans living in there all along. I suppose we'll get to meet some of them soon? If Paula is so intent on going inside. Can't wait to see what she finds!

  7. Gayl, lol! True. She should know better anyway.

    This was very unexpected for me too, that's part of why I questioned posting it.

    Possibly, but some things just have to be done. (Plus, he's also risking Brandon's wrath which I imagine is bad in it's own right even if it doesn't come with the power of an army behind it.)

    Here, she very much is acting like her parents, especially her mother, and we know where that got her.

    Migy, we'll see if all those questions get answered on this excursion. Also, that's your most curious part considering this is the sight where Henri started the Revolution? XD

    Carla, hopefully Paula has her father's prudence, lol.

    Yeah, definitely very much like Cheryl here. That's what surprised me when I wrote it. It's good to see her stepping forward and taking some initiative, though it's possibly for the wrong reasons.

    Paula is also like her mother in that way with her seemingly being unconcerned. She's set her mind on this task!

    Also, thank you, lol! I fixed it. At least the story forum is correct.

    Rachel, oh yes, this was another reason I was worried. Is this in character for her? But she needs to see it and she fears she'll never get another chance. This is, in her mind, her very last chance to understand her father and maybe understand her mother too.

    And maybe this also speaks a little of her comfort with Alex too. I mean, I can't see her doing this with Henri, and she probably wouldn't be this way with Brandon, but with Alex it's a completely different story.

    Carnaxa, it's a good question. Paula is wondering the same thing. I mean, Henri has an army, so there's no way these people could stand against him if he didn't want them there. But Paula is sure that Henri would have to know they're out there, so if he hasn't kicked them out, that must say something, but there's no way to know until she sees the people for herself.

    Also, you bring up a good point about what most likely happened after breaking out. But how many people know about what happened, well even I don't know at this point in time.

    The how might not completely be answered, but I think we'll get some hints as to how they survived. If I do it right in the next couple of updates, lol.

    Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you're still reading. :D

    Laura, ok, first off, I just remembered, I totally counted the characters. Just the fully formed ones I've written about in total are 48, eight of those haven't been written about on this blog. I think I better make some bios or something for them and not trust them all to memory.

    I sort of did something different-- it's a different lighting mod. They're also behind a building, and I think it's overcast.

    lol, these two as trouble. It seems it's more of a case of Alex not really having a clue what he was signing up for with the girl. Did he think it's be an easy mission with him just dragging her along?

    Yes, exactly. Me too! Even I want to see inside and see what's left. We'll meet some probably. Another we'll see goes in here.

  8. Oh, I certainly didn't mean to imply that her insistence is necessarily out of character--we don't know much about what Paula was like back in her own world. When she really wanted to do something, I can easily see her pushing Cheryl like this. I can believe that she isn't afraid of pushing Alex. She doesn't think he'll hurt her (though he might "put her to sleep" LOL). The intensity of her desire to see the inside of this lab is what intrigues me--almost like it has a magnetic pull for her, and she can't resist. Because in her saner moments, she'd wonder how the people there survived, and whether she wanted to actually approach people who *could* survive in such an environment (it would make me think twice). I can see Alex grudgingly going along, too. She's agreed to help him after he betrayed her, and what's more is that he may think they won't be able to gain admittance anyway.

  9. Hmmm, why do I think we just got a glimpse of the real Paula, the grown up Paula, the Paula she is going to be but up until now has lain dormant while everyone around her "protected" her from the big wide world? I get the feeling that Cheryl at the same age would have asked the same questions, would have insisted on the same course of action.

    Have to wonder if she would have been so insistent if it was Henri with her and he had said no, or even Brandon. Is it just that she feels so comfortable with Alex, a little less insignificant beside him? He's asked her for her help, he needs her, instead of the situation that Paula is used to of always needing help from others. It's made her bold.

    I can definitely understand her pull to the place, first of all because of the connection with Henri and secondly to meet other humans again, to learn about life out here from their perspective - and perhaps learn more about history from a different viewpoint.

  10. Paula and Alex exchanging roles, at least to some extent. She's the one insisting she will 'protect' him even while he continues to do his best to protect her.

    I understand her curiosity, the need to understand her father. It is a dangerous thing, and yes very reminiscent of her mother.

    Henri continues to loom over everything. He's the strange point in the landscape.

    Beautifully, exquisitely done.

  11. No worries, Rachel, I was more expressing my own surprise at Paula here. I'm confident that this is just a proper next step for her.

    Haha, all good points though. Very true. Maybe subconsciously she is wondering how they survived so long. it's definitely a mystery.

    Illandrya, Cheryl at this age was probably a fun character. Oh man, don't get me started on that, lol. I bet she has some stories she could tell. Something tells me that pure Cheryl was nothing but trouble.

    I think you're on it. They're closer to equals than she's really been with anyone other than Mitchell. Plus he does need her help.

    SB, ha, oh yeah. I loved that little bit of concern she showed when she asked if they'd hurt him. I was rather proud of her when I wrote that line. /craziness

    Like a moth to a flame!

    Yes, very true. He does loom over everything, and I still get a sense that he would rather do anything but-- as if he doesn't have a choice.

    Oh, thank you so much.

  12. Whoa, I had to look twice at Pic #2, I thought Paula was going for a crotch grab, not that I blame her!

    Love the lighting and shadow, evokes the mood, Esp, the shadows on Alex's face, making him even more dangerous, and

    Paula is a curious kitty, I don't blame her, I am too. I want to see inside the lab, and humans?
    I like this side of her coming forward. Again it raises more questions about Henri, and it just ramped up his mysterious/sexy side to me even more.

  13. Yes, Henri may have started the revolution, but from I recall it was a rather violent start, and there things blowing up, and people dying. So to think the lab stayed in good enough shape to maintain power, water, and some kind of food production is quite curious. If they did have a garden of some nature, it would have to be fairly large in size, unless there are very few people there. It would interesting to see how they manage to stay in moderately decent health (that is, assuming they are in moderate health).

  14. Drew, lmao! Oh man, I had to look at that pic again and I see it too. Oh dear.

    Thank you. The lighting was actually a little bit frustrating, but I was pleased with it in the end.

    Oh yes, she is, but yeah hard to blame her. Henri has been so mysterious all this time.

    Migy, I don't think we've gone into it really, just suppositions and stories that people have been passing around that may or may not be accurate.

    But the building still stands and it has been thirty years. Plus it's safe to assume of the people there that some of them must have worked in the Labs, and that doesn't mean they were all scientists, so it's completely possible that with enough specialized people they could manage something. Maybe.