Author Topic: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley  (Read 143943 times)

Offline chetanhaobijam

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #150 on: December 10, 2016, 10:00:57 PM »
Great update. Like reading all of Blair's police duties/work. That VJ Alvi deserved the house arrest. And I wonder what will happen to Boyd and his family. Looking forward for next update.
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Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 32
« Reply #151 on: December 14, 2016, 08:40:28 PM »
Wow what an update Cheezey I love it.

Now I'm wondering at consequences of Boyd being abducted.   ;)

BTW:  All the images show up on my computer which has a lot of problems with many images in other stories.

Good to know the images didn't give you any trouble. Photobucket can be weird at times.

Glad you enjoyed the last update! An abduction must be even worse for neurotic sims like Boyd.

Great update. Like reading all of Blair's police duties/work. That VJ Alvi deserved the house arrest. And I wonder what will happen to Boyd and his family. Looking forward for next update.

Thanks! VJ seems to be a magnet for trouble. I think Iqbal's going to have his hands full for the rest of his life.



Chapter 32


 
It was a little after 4:30 in the morning when Boyd came to his senses.  Standing in his driveway, he was disoriented and confused as a beam of aquamarine light shimmered all around him.  A strange figure was with him, tall and silent, with odd features and dark eyes.  “Who…?  What…?”


 
He was groggy and sluggish, and stumbled when he tried to move.  He closed his eyes and tried to regain his bearings and focus.  When he opened them, he was alone in the cold. 

Boyd tried to make sense of what had happened.  “Why am I out here?”

Then he remembered.  The noise.  The lights.  He’d come outside to see what it was.  Then the light grabbed him and lifted him up, up to some ship.  His heart raced anxiously as he recalled that and… nothing.  He could not remember a thing after that moment.

“They had me.”  He remembered the craft that picked him up.  Had they dropped him?  He looked up, but there was no sign of any ship.  He didn’t remember falling, but he didn’t recall anything else, either, and that was terrifying in and of itself.  Had whatever happened been so terrible that his mind blocked it out?  Or had someone or something blocked it for him?  One thing Boyd did remember was his past research into alien abduction, and the accounts describing how the victim’s memories were missing.  Just like his.

“Oh, Watcher…”


 
Inside, Susan woke up surprised to find Boyd not in bed with her.  A look at the clock told her it was still early, not even 5:00 in the morning yet.  She wondered if it was one of those nights he had trouble sleeping.  Her husband was prone to anxiety and did not always sleep well.  She climbed out of bed to see where he’d gone.

The house was dark, and he was not in front of the TV, at the computer, or in the bathroom.  Susan frowned.  Where was he?  It was then that she saw movement outside.  Approaching the door, she saw that it was Boyd, dressed and in a jacket, walking slowly toward the house. 

Susan opened the front door, shivering in her underwear as she was hit with a blast of frosty air.  “Boyd?  What are you doing out here?”  There was a distressed look on his face.  “What’s wrong?  It’s freezing!”


 
“I don’t know.  I—I don’t remember.”

“Don’t remember what?  Why you’re out here in the dark in the early hours of the morning?”  Susan looked around.  “It’s barely 5 AM.  What’s going on?”

“No.  No, it was just a little after one when I got up.”

“Boyd, it’s almost five.”

Four hours.  He’d been out here for over four hours?  He shivered in the cold air.  No, he’d be much colder than this if he’d been out in the frost that long.  Where did they take me?  What did they do?

“Boyd?”  Susan’s voice rose in concern when she got no answer and saw the look on his face.  “What’s going on?”


 
“I woke up.  It was around one.  I know because I looked at the clock.  I heard a noise.  I thought the time portal reactivated.”  He looked over his shoulder nervously.  “I came into the living room and I saw lights out here.  Not like the portal.  Weird lights.  Aqua, bright.  Coming down from the sky.  I thought it was, I don’t know, some kind of weird weather or atmospheric thing.  I put on my coat to check it out.”

“Four hours ago?”

“It doesn’t feel like four hours!  The light got brighter and it… oh, Watcher, Susan!  It surrounded me.  Paralyzed me.  I felt it pulling on me and… I looked up and saw a ship.  Then it all went black.”  He cringed.  “I know what happened.  They took me!  I don’t know why or what they did, but they took me!”

“Who?”

“Sixam!  The aliens!”  Boyd was hysterical as he looked back out over the lawn.  “And when I came to, I was out in the driveway.  I thought I saw someone, but I couldn’t even move at first.  When I could, they were gone!  And you’re saying that was four hours ago?”  He began to shake and hyperventilate.  “Where did they take me?  What did they do to me?  What did they do to me?!”


 
Susan comforted Boyd as he broke down.  “Come on.  It’s freezing out here.  Let’s get inside.”

“They took me, Susan!  Just like Emit said they took people, like all the stuff we’ve heard for years.  It’s true…”


 
When they came in, Susan made them each a cup of coffee on their machine.  “Okay.  Tell me again what happened.”

Boyd was still agitated, although he was at least no longer shaking.  He still had his coat and gloves on as he took the mug.  “You don’t believe me, do you?”  He sounded utterly hopeless.  “Nobody ever believes them.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“It probably looks like I snuck off in the middle of the night.  But I didn’t!  I swear, the light, the beam, it was there!  It took me!  It—”

Susan sighed.  “Boyd, I don’t think you’re sneaking around or cheating on me.  I trust you.”

“But you don’t believe that aliens—”

“I never said that,” Susan insisted, a firm edge creeping into her voice.  “I was with you in Oasis Landing.  I saw the ship.  I know they exist, and I know you wouldn’t make this up.  But you said yourself you don’t remember exactly what happened.”

Boyd swallowed some coffee and met her eyes.  “So you’re saying you believe that I believe it?”

“It was late, you were tired, and didn’t sleep well.  You heard and saw something, and you went outside.  What if you fell over the sprinkler or a rock and hit your head?”

“And imagined it?”  Boyd set his mug down on the table and stood up, frustrated.  “Look at me!  I’m not covered in dirt or frost.  I didn’t fall.  Don’t you think I—?”

“I think whatever happened has you completely freaked out.”  Susan took a deep breath.  “Honey, look.  I’m sorry if it came off like I don’t believe you.  I just want to help you figure out what happened.”


 
Boyd sniffled, sat back down, and took another sip of coffee.  “Susan, I wish I could believe that I just saw a meteor or aircraft and tripped and fell.  That it was just some crazy hallucination.  But it’s not.  I know it’s not.”  He looked down, miserable.  “I don’t… I don’t feel right.  I can’t explain it other than that.  But I know I wasn’t passed out in the cold for hours.  Feel me.  I’m not that cold.”  He pulled his gloves off and touched her bare arm.  “I think they’ve been watching us.  Maybe they know about Emit’s portal, and that’s why they took one of us.  To scan our brains and find out what we know.  Because they know we know.”

Susan set her cup down.  “Now we’re getting into pure conjecture.”

“Conjecture is all I have, because I don’t remember!”  Boyd slumped onto the table, clutching his head and groaning.

She put a hand on him.  “Then let’s try to focus on that.  Getting your memory back.  Maybe it’ll come to you after you relax a little.  How about a bath, maybe?  Nice and hot with lots of steam?”

He looked up.  “Okay.”

“I’ll go get it ready.”

“Susan.”  Boyd looked at her as she stopped on her way to the bathroom.  “You really do believe me, right?”

“I do.”


 
After Boyd was settled in the bath, Susan went in to check on him.  “Feeling any better?”

“A little.  I still don’t remember anything, though.”  He pointed to a small red mark on his torso.  “And I saw this when I got in here.  I have no idea what it is.  It looks like a puncture wound.”

“Did you bump into anything recently?”

“No.”  He let out a hollow laugh.  “At least, not that I remember, but as we both know, my memory’s on the fritz.”  Boyd leaned back in the tub.  “It doesn’t hurt, but it’s weird.  I’ve thought and thought, and I’m sure of what I do remember.  The ship.  The light.  They took me, Susan.  They did something to me on that ship before they brought me back.  I just have no idea what.”  He sank a little deeper into the bubbles.

Susan knelt by the tub.  “I’m sorry.”

“For what?  You didn’t abduct and… probe me.”  He put his hand over his side. 

“I’m sorry that it happened.  And for how I came off earlier.”

“Oh.  That.  It’s fine.  I know you were just trying to help.”

“Still.”  She leaned against the tub.  “Whatever they did… I’m glad they brought you back safe.”

“Me too.”  He sighed.  “I hope they don’t do it again.  Or go after you or Patrick.  Or Blair and Chris and Cycl0n3…”

“Try not to dwell on that.  I, for one, have no plans to chase strange lights in the sky after what just happened to you, and Patrick can’t even get out of his crib without help.  And Blair… well, she doesn’t live here and doesn’t know about Oasis Landing, so, I think she and Chris and Cycl0n3 are just as safe as they ever were.”

“Probably.”

Susan brightened.  “Speaking of which, I know it’s been a heck of a morning, but today is Chris’ birthday.”

“Oh, yeah.  Well, that’s a better thing to remember today for, right?”  Boyd forced a smile.  “Let’s see if my brain will actually let me do it.”

“That’s my husband,” Susan teased, splashing a bit of water at him with her finger.  “The optimist.”




 
Blair and Cycl0n3 were excited for Chris’ birthday.  Neither were exactly party animals, but they wanted to do something special for him, so they threw him a party at their house.  It was small, and in the icy end-of-autumn rain, outdoors wasn’t an option, but that didn’t stop them.  Blair put up festive balloons in their small living room while Cycl0n3 arranged with Emma to make the cake.  “Nobody wants to see me try and bake a cake,” Blair joked.  “I haven’t touched a mix since I had that little kiddie oven.”

Introverted as Blair was and anti-social as Cycl0n3 could be, it was a small crowd by party standards.  Aside from her parents and Patrick, the guest list included Blair and Cycl0n3’s former roommates, and Justine and Parker.  Hank wasn’t able to make it, since he was pulling an extra shift to cover for someone else, but he sent a present along through his co-workers. 


 
After everyone had their cake, Susan carried Patrick over to Blair, who was holding Chris.   “I still can’t believe both these two got my family’s red hair.  I used to joke that my genetics fell asleep in you.  But I guess there was a little bit hiding in there after all.”  She leaned Patrick closer to Chris.  “Hey there.  Can you tell Chris ‘Happy Birthday’?”

“Happy Birth-day!”  Patrick said it loud and clear, with an over-emphasis on the last syllable that made everyone chuckle.

“Thank you, Captain!”  Blair grinned at her little brother, and helped Chris wave.  “We’re going to teach you to talk soon, too.”


 
“But not the sort of language Daddy uses on TarzWar, right?” Boyd said with a smirk. 

Cycl0n3 piped up from the couch, where he was playing a video game.  “Hah.  You should talk, Space.  Remind me, which of us was the one who had some very, shall we say, colorful words for Girbits when he aggroed those nuclear droids on us the other night?”

Blair made a dramatic shocked face.  “Grandpa!  For shame.”  She bounced Chris.  “He’s big enough to know better, and certainly would’ve come down on me for saying such things!  No, no.  The Captain and Number One would never be so undignified.”

“Not in our earshot, at least,” laughed Susan.


 
“That boy of yours is adorable,” Justine told Blair.  “I miss when Wilbur was that small.  Now he’s in elementary school.  They grow so fast.”

“You’ll get to do it all over again with this one.” 

“Did I tell you we found out we’re having a girl?  I’m thrilled!  Though Marty’s already saying we’ll need a bigger house in a couple of years.  Two bedrooms for us and two kids might get a little cramped.  Wilbur says he likes having his own room and doesn’t want to share.”  She laughed.  “Little sister hasn’t even shown up yet and she’s already cramping his style.”


 
After her family and the rest of the guests left, Blair sat with Emma and Tamara and caught up with them.  “Oh, it was something else,” Emma told Blair.  “She called Xander every name in the book, and even a few new ones I made note of for myself for future use.  It was impressive.”

“I didn’t even get to tell you the most screwed up part of it, Blair.  Molly, the woman he was screwing around with?  He got her pregnant.”

“What?”  Blair was shocked.

“Yup.  I found that out when I confronted him, and he said, get this—‘I was gonna tell you soon.  I’m sorry.  It just happened, baby.  It was an accident.’  What?  Maybe the baby was an accident, but I’m sure winding up in her bed wasn’t accidental!”

“And to add another level to this drama?  That’s my boss.  Same Molly.”  Emma shook her head.  “So ends another episode of As Sunset Valley Sets.”

“Wow.”  Blair shook her head.  “I’m so sorry, Tam.”

“Well, he’s not my problem anymore.  I haven’t spoken to him since.  If she wants him, she can have him.  I’ve already moved on.”


 
“You have?” asked Blair.

“It’s nothing serious,” Tamara started, but Emma cut her off.

“Looked pretty serious to me and Stiles when we walked in on you hot and heavy on the couch.”

Blair raised an eyebrow.  “Who?”

“Parker.”  Tamara grinned.  “I told you he looks good in that workout gear.  And wow, is he an amazing kisser…”

“Hmm, Parker never mentioned that at work,” giggled Blair.  “But I’m happy for you two.”

“Like I said, we’re not serious,” said Tamara.  “But it sure is nice to have some fun with someone who isn’t mooching off of me and lying.  I know Parker’s a player, but at least he’s honest about it.”

“Meanwhile, I’m just done with this whole dating thing.  There was a reason I didn’t used to bother, and was cool with dating a guy twice my age who already had kids, because I didn’t want to deal with that kind of BS.  Someone who was already past that drama.”  Emma sighed.  “But it turns out, potential step-kids?  Just a different flavor of drama.”

“Let me guess.  VJ?”

Emma nodded.  “Yeah.  I heard all about that little graffiti escapade.  I hate to say it, but I wasn’t at all surprised.  He’s always been a little… well, I won’t use child-unfriendly language around Chris, but you get my drift.   Miraj is great.  I like him a lot.  He puts up with a lot of bull from VJ.  Iqbal tries to keep him in line, but punishing him now doesn’t do a lot of good, because he let him get away with a lot when he was younger.  Because their mom ran off and he feels guilty.  I get that, and I’m sure being a parent isn’t easy.  But you know, she was Miraj’s mom, too, and he never uses it as an excuse to be a jerk 24/7.  But Iqbal only wants to hear that when he’s mad at VJ.”  Emma sighed in frustration.  “If I say it, or stand up to VJ when he’s rude to me, Iqbal says I can’t act like their mother.  Well, I never said I was, but I’m not going to take a bunch of verbal abuse from some kid who thinks he’s a bad llama.  So then we end up fighting.  This last time, I just couldn’t take it anymore.  It took all my self-control not to go ‘Tam’ on the kid when he pushed my buttons.  And Iqbal got on my case yet again for standing up for myself.  So, that was that.  I said ‘I’m not going to tell you how to raise your kids, but I’m not going to take VJ’s crap, either.’”  She leaned onto the table.  “So, we called it quits.  And I’m back to thinking, being single?  Not so bad.”


 
“Sorry it didn’t work out,” Blair said sympathetically.

“Me too.  But thanks.”  Emma smiled at her.  “And hey, it gives me more time to do things like make cake for kids I like hanging around, right?”  She looked over at the couch, where Chris was snuggled up next to Cycl0n3, still playing his video game.

Tamara raised an eyebrow.  “Do you mean Chris or Cycl0n3?”

“Probably both,” joked Blair.

Emma laughed.  “Definitely both.”


 
After the last of the guests left, Blair and Cycl0n3 changed Chris and put him to bed.  “I’ll sure be glad when he’s done with these,” Cycl0n3 remarked after discarding a dirty diaper.

“Well, he’s old enough now that we can start working on that.”

“And Mom will do a great job of it, I’m sure!”  Cycl0n3 gave her a big, flattering smile.

Blair rolled her eyes.  “Nice try.  You know, dads can potty train, too.  Lately, you’re home with him more than I am with the hours I’ve had.”  She was still doing a fair amount of overtime.  The SVPD felt the pinch with Justine on desk duty and going out on maternity leave soon.

“Hey.  I’ve been teaching him stuff.  We watch Elmo’s Realm together every day.  He learns his letters and his colors…”

“And to be a big ol’ couch potato just like you,” she teased.

“Be fair!  I’m a skinny little couch potato.”

“So, a couch French fry then?”

Cycl0n3 waggled his eyebrows.  “A little salty, but good enough to eat?”

“Oh my… just stop.”  She laughed.

“You know you love me anyway.”

“Watcher only knows why,” Blair retorted playfully, and gave him a kiss good night.



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Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #152 on: December 14, 2016, 10:56:41 PM »
Hmmm, I wonder what happened to Boyd during his abduction. It would be rather funny if...no, I won't mention it.

Happy birthday to Chris! I love how close in age Patrick and Chris are!

I didn't recognize Emma at first (did she lose a lot of weight?). Poor Emma and Tamara got the cruddy-boyfriend blues. :-(
Blair and Cyl0n3, on the other hand, are too cute together.

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #153 on: December 15, 2016, 03:04:34 AM »
This update was mind-blowing fantastic.  Happy birthday Chris.  Poor Boyd.  While he could do with gaining a little bit of weight, just not that type of weight.  ::)  But if that happened, Susan would have to believe him.  It took me ages before I had the "Unexpected Weight Gain"  but now it happens all the time.  Fingers crossed Boyd's neurosis deals with whatever happens.
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Offline chetanhaobijam

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #154 on: December 15, 2016, 09:39:42 PM »
Awesome update. Good thing no harm happened to Boyd on his abduction. And glad Susan understand her husband. And very happy birthday to Chris. Looking forward for next update.
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Offline Nimrod Mikkusu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #155 on: December 16, 2016, 07:53:00 AM »
Yeah. I look forward to it too, of course.  8)

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 33
« Reply #156 on: December 19, 2016, 01:40:19 PM »
Hmmm, I wonder what happened to Boyd during his abduction. It would be rather funny if...no, I won't mention it.

Happy birthday to Chris! I love how close in age Patrick and Chris are!

I didn't recognize Emma at first (did she lose a lot of weight?). Poor Emma and Tamara got the cruddy-boyfriend blues. :-(
Blair and Cyl0n3, on the other hand, are too cute together.

When I made her over, I didn't change her weight. Just hair, makeup, and clothes.  But I ran NRaas story progression in this game, and it seemed to push some workouts on Emma. It did the same with Jack Bunch. A couple of times I saw him in town and he was much thinner than his default. I don't know if that was a specific story progression thing for Emma, though, since she doesn't have the athletic trait or a lifetime wish or job requiring working out.  It might've just been because some members of the Roomies household autonomously visit the gym.

This update was mind-blowing fantastic.  Happy birthday Chris.  Poor Boyd.  While he could do with gaining a little bit of weight, just not that type of weight.  ::)  But if that happened, Susan would have to believe him.  It took me ages before I had the "Unexpected Weight Gain"  but now it happens all the time.  Fingers crossed Boyd's neurosis deals with whatever happens.

Thank you! I admit that I was hoping to get that moodlet, although Boyd would not be happy with me as the watcher for that. Haha. 

Awesome update. Good thing no harm happened to Boyd on his abduction. And glad Susan understand her husband. And very happy birthday to Chris. Looking forward for next update.

Thank you! Despite her snob trait, Susan's a pretty reasonable lady. :)

Yeah. I look forward to it too, of course.  8)

Thanks! Hope you enjoy it.



Chapter 33


 
As winter in Sunset Valley loomed closer, a cozy night’s sleep in bed was a luxury.  Ever since the night he’d been abducted, though, that luxury often eluded Boyd.  He did his best to put the memory of it, and the lack thereof, behind him, but not worrying was never something he was good at.  Even when he did manage, his dreams would remind him.


 
They were always the same.  He was in a cool, metal room with glowing, lined walls.  The air was heavy and smelled vaguely of ozone, and there was a soft mechanical hum in the background.  He couldn’t move.  He was awake, but paralyzed, laid out on a slab while dark figures hovered above him.  Their voices, strange and reverberating, were garbled while they spoke over him, half drowned out by the hum of the machinery.  He couldn’t speak or react, only lie there while they did what they would.

“…ideal specimen…”

“…highly favorable metabolic readings…”


What felt like a heavy weight was lifted off his abdomen, and a large piece of equipment retracted into the ceiling and vanished.  Boyd still couldn’t move, and didn’t know what had happened.

Was that on me?  What did it do?

There was a whooshing sound and a rush of air.  The chatter of the figures picked up, a level of excitement among them.

“Ahilac… proceed?”


 
“Affirmative.”

A new figure loomed near his feet.  Something else was said, but Boyd couldn’t understand the words.  The figure on his left attached something to his head, while the one on the right activated a gleaming metal device with a long pointed end.

There was more chatter, and then the world went dark.  Boyd felt a sharp burning sensation in his side, and screamed.


 
That was always when he woke up, sometimes screaming as he did.  This time he hadn’t, and he was glad of that.  His nightmares disturbed Susan’s sleep too often as it was.  She never blamed him, of course, but he’d still rather she not suffer a poor night’s sleep with him.

Boyd knew without a doubt that aliens had taken him that night, and his dreams all but confirmed it.  He still couldn’t remember anything while awake, but the dreams had a disturbing ring of truth to them.  He made notes about them, and tried to remember the details, terrifying as they were, to see if it would jog his memory.  A part of him was not sure he wanted to remember, though.  Whenever he thought about the machines and the pain in his side, a pain that matched the strange little mark there, he began to shake and feel nauseous.  More than once, he ended up in the bathroom only to lose whatever it was he last ate. 

And then he would get hungry.  Very hungry.  Ravenous.


 
“I think you’d clean up at that pie contest now.”  Susan noticed that Boyd had eaten half of the tray of cobbler she’d made the night before.

He shoveled the last of what was on his plate into his mouth, and set his fork down.  “Guess I did go a little overboard.  It was really good, though.”

“I can tell,” she said wryly.  “Glad you like it.”


 
After that debatably healthy breakfast, the Wainwrights tackled their project for the day: moving.  Their new mansion on Summer Hill Court was finally done, and they were ready to move in.  They didn’t sell their home on Maywood Lane, however.  After offering it to Blair and Cycl0n3, who declined—they were happy in their house, and wanted to make their own way—they moved what they wanted from it and put it on the market for rental income.

“We spent a lot of good years here.”  Boyd gave their old home a thoughtful look as they departed.  Even though he hadn’t felt all that secure there since his abduction, it was hard to imagine not being there anymore.  “Hopefully the renters will be as happy there as we were.”

“I’m sure they will.  We left it in great condition for them.”  They’d even replaced some their older stuff with better quality, newer upgrades before moving out, to give it more appeal and a better renting price.

Little Patrick understood that they were leaving, and pressed his face against the window while holding onto Buddy.  “Bye-bye.”


 
Their trusty and well-used hatchback seemed out of place pulling up to the spacious modern mansion they’d built on their new property.  They weren’t getting rid of that car just yet, but Susan and Boyd had already picked out two new, expensive dream cars for themselves.  Susan chose a luxurious dark red Margaret Vaguester for herself, while Boyd bought a black Empire Eidolon. 


 
Not surprisingly, an immense television with the best resolution on the market was the showcase of their new living room’s entertainment nook.  It was an even better viewing experience than they thought it would be, and Patrick’s “Captain’s Chair” swing had a great view of it.  He dozed off comfortably while Boyd and Susan watched a show on the nature channel.


 
Along with the lab they’d wanted, they also constructed a private greenhouse that would allow them to grow plants much more efficiently.  Right away, Boyd transplanted the seeds and cuttings they’d saved from specimens they couldn’t take from their old home, including the flame fruit from the yard.  He also planted an orange crystal flower from Oasis Landing, and hoped for the best.


 
Boyd set up the time portal in the back room of their basement.  They’d designed the house’s basement to have two areas: a general storage room at the bottom of the stairs, and behind a door that looked to a casual observer like a closet, a locked room to store things that were better left unnoticed by anyone who didn’t live there.  The time portal certainly qualified.

While Boyd took care of that, Susan studied a new recipe book on the couch.  Now that they were in their new home, she wanted to show it off to their family and friends.  As late in the fall season as it was, she decided the best way to do that was to throw a feast party.  The only issue was that Susan had never cooked a traditional party-style turkey dinner before.  She was now skilled enough in the kitchen that she was confident she could do it, but she wanted to make sure it was done right. 

They hadn’t had a turkey dinner not served by a restaurant since Boyd’s mother had been alive to cook one.  She’d been a good cook, but Susan had no idea of what technique she used.  Back then, Susan didn’t cook, and when she casually asked her about it, she’d been met with a sharp remark that someone who couldn’t make macaroni and cheese without burning it shouldn’t bother trying.  It made Susan want to cook the most delicious turkey ever out of spite, one so good that her mother-in-law would be able to smell it all the way on the other side.


 
It was time-consuming, but not as hard or complicated as Susan first thought it might be.  All of the cooking shows she’d watched and the techniques she’d learned really honed her skills, and it came out of the oven golden brown and delicious.  Her pumpkin pie was scrumptious, too, and Susan was quite pleased with herself.  “Not bad if I say so myself,” she mused as she admired her spread.


 
Boyd tried his hand at making some drinks before their guests arrived, but it turned out that fancy bar tricks were harder than they looked on TV.  After dropping the same glass twice, Boyd sheepishly toweled up his mess and stuck to the simple approach.

When he got changed for the party, he could swear that his dress clothes were tighter than they’d been the last time he wore them.  “Hope these didn’t shrink in the wash.”  He tugged absently on his sweater while feeding the angelfish in their new fish tank.


 
Blair was the first to arrive.  Cycl0n3 was with her, but he took Chris straight up to Patrick’s room so they could play together.  Patrick’s new room was big and full of toys, and the two toddlers had their pick of things to amuse themselves with. 

“Wow, the place looks great!” Blair said when she came in.  She’d seen progress pictures while it was being built, but this was her first time in the new home.  “So fancy.  My parents, the millionaires!  You must be so happy.”

“We are!”  Susan gave her a hug.  “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“A feast day with a home cooked meal in your snazzy new place?  I wouldn’t miss it.  I haven’t had homemade turkey since Grandma died.”

“Kind of fitting, since she’s Grandma now,” Cycl0n3 remarked as he came back down the stairs.  Susan shot Cycl0n3 a withering look, but she held her tongue.  Boyd wondered if it was the implication that she was old or the comparison to his mother that irked her more.  Regardless, he was sure he’d hear all about it later.


 
When it was time to eat, Boyd was starving again.  He tore into his plate of turkey and mashed potatoes like he hadn’t eaten in days. 

Gunther found it amusing.  “Well, I suppose that’s a rave review of your cooking, Susan.  Slow down, Boyd.  Enjoy it.  It’s not going anywhere.”

“Sorry.”  He sat up.  “I guess I forgot how much I liked this.  It’s been a while.  But it’s great!” he told Susan.  “I dare say it’s better than Mom’s.”

Susan looked up smugly.  “I hope you heard that!” 


 
“It was delicious,” Gunther agreed.  “I didn’t know you’d taken such an interest in cooking, Susan.  I have some Old Country recipes I think you’d enjoy.”

“Yes, thank you for inviting us.  Your home is lovely.  It suits you both.”  Cornelia smiled.  “I imagine the Altos and Landgraabs have welcomed you, too.  They must be glad to have a neighbor they don’t loathe.”

Boyd shrugged.  “Technically, we still work for the Landgraabs.”

“Well, on the job.  We did buy a share of Landgraab Industries, and now we’re looking into buying it outright.”

“Boyd mentioned that,” Gunther said.  “Did you go with the lawyer I suggested?”

“Yup.  Nancy Landgraab is interested in the buyout offer.  Apparently Landgraab Industries was her father’s pet project, not hers, so for the right number, she’ll sell.  But they’re still working on the estimated value.”

“I’ve known Nancy for years.  She’ll play hardball,” Gunther warned.  “Whatever you do, run everything by the lawyer.  Otherwise she’ll take you to the cleaners.”

Cornelia laughed.  “Now you sound like you’ve been talking to Vita.”


 
“She invited us to a fundraiser at her place last week,” Susan said.  “It was a nice party.  I’d never seen their mansion before.  So opulent!”

“Yeah, we even donated a few thousand to her campaign,” added Boyd.  “Vita’s very supportive of the sciences.”

At the other end of the table, Blair frowned.  She was suspicious of the Altos, and even though her parents obviously did not share those suspicions, it bothered her that they donated to them.  Granted, they didn’t hear every rumor she did on the job, but Nick Alto had so many shady whispers about him in town, she didn’t know how they could think he and his wife were squeaky clean.

Cycl0n3, meanwhile, laughed.  “Don’t let Nancy Landgraab hear that, or she’ll double the price for the lab.”

Gunther chuckled.  “He’s got a point.”


 
After stuffing themselves with turkey, everyone got some dessert.  Some of them were too full to eat much, but not Boyd.  He took a huge slice of pumpkin pie and dug in.

“Wow, Dad.  Are you going to be able to finish that, after all that turkey?”

“Easily.”  He took a bite and swallowed.  “I’ve had a big appetite lately.  I could probably eat that whole pie if I wanted.”

“Really?”  Blair gave him a surprised look.  “Are you feeling okay?  That doesn’t sound normal.”

Boyd tried not to think about his poor sleep and nightmares.  “Ah, it’s just nice having all this gourmet food around,” he said dismissively.  “Your mom’s been cooking a lot of good stuff.  Wouldn’t want to let it go to waste.”

Cycl0n3 peered over at Boyd, noticing how his sweater clung tight around his stomach.  “Looks like it’s going to yours.”

“Cycl0n3!”  Blair shot him an admonishing look, while Boyd rolled his eyes.

“Really?  The new washer shrunk some of my stuff.  The hot cycle is a lot hotter than on our old one.”

Although Cycl0n3 had been rude to say it, Blair was dubious that it was just the laundry, especially if her father had been eating like that regularly and not just at the feast party.  “You know, Dad, you can easily afford a gym membership now.  I could be a workout buddy with you.  Mom, too.  It would be good for you both to get some exercise.”

Boyd tried not to groan out loud.  “Blair, I’m not joining the gym.  I want to enjoy my new wealth, not torture myself with it.”

“There are lots of exercises you can do there.  It’s not just weights and bodybuilders.  There are classes, yoga, even a nice TV to watch while you walk on a treadmill.”

“I have a nicer TV in there with no treadmill.”

“My point is, there’s bound to be something you’d enjoy.”

“Lightsaber fencing?”

“Now that’s a class I might take,” Cycl0n3 interjected.

“I’ll put it in the suggestion box, and hold you to that if they start one,” Blair said sweetly.


 
Although Boyd was used to Cycl0n3’s lack of social finesse, the comment about his weight and the fitness lecture from Blair got under his skin.  He was still brooding about it after the party because, tactless or not, it was true.  As much as he wanted to blame the washing machine, he felt bulky and bloated, and a step on the scale confirmed he weighed more than he used to.  Granted, he was eating a lot, but he wasn’t just randomly stuffing his face.  He was hungry all the time. 

Was it a delayed side effect of the LI-WX923 treatment?  Overeating to compensate for poor sleep, from his abduction nightmares?  Or worse, something the aliens did to him that he didn’t even remember?  He didn’t know, and he was afraid to ask any doctor.  It wasn’t like he could explain those things without winding up in the psych ward.  That just left him more anxious, and with no other choice than to hope whatever it was would resolve itself.


 
“I really have packed on a few pounds, haven’t I?”  Boyd looked over at Susan as she got ready for bed.

“A couple.  So what?”  Susan went over to his side.  “Is this about what Cycl0n3 said?  He was just running his mouth.  He thinks he’s witty when he’s just being rude.”

“It’s not so much that I care what Cycl0n3 thinks, or even that it made Blair lecture me about the gym.  Though I could’ve done without it.”  Boyd sighed, and threw his discarded tight clothes at the hamper.  He missed, but didn’t care enough to go and pick them up.  “I don’t know why I’m so hungry all the time.  I’m really wondering what they did to me on that ship.  Was it something that screwed up my body and messed up my metabolism?”  His eyes widened in a panic.  “What if I’m a test subject?  Like they put a chip in me to make me eat all the time, to see if they could remotely make someone eat themselves to death or something?”

“Okay, let’s not jump straight to alien conspiracy death theories, honey.  Do you have any reason to think they put a chip in you?  We could probably scan for something like that with our science equipment.  If not here, then at work, quietly, when no one’s around.”

“I already did,” he admitted.  “I didn’t find anything.  But I still don’t feel right.  I know in my gut that they did something more to me than a quick grab and probe.”

“Well, you’re hungry a lot.  But that could be something to do with the LI-WX923, too.  Or the lack of sleep.  Or stress.  You’re far from the picture of calmness and serenity, even before the abduction.”  She put her hand on his shoulder.  “Craving food when you’re stressed is pretty common, and you’ve been wound tighter than ever lately.”

“Maybe.”  He smiled at her.  “You won’t make me go to the gym, though, will you?”

She leaned in and kissed him.  “You know I’d never ask you to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”



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Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #157 on: December 19, 2016, 02:24:13 PM »
Boyd, Boyd, Boyd. How can you be both brilliant about things alien and clueless about your own body...

Lol, I imagine a gym class on lightsaber fencing would get many geeks off their buns.

What a great chapter!

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #158 on: December 19, 2016, 04:03:37 PM »
Terrific update Cheezey!  Light sabre fencing!  What a brilliant idea but it's not going to save Boyd from his expanding waistline.  Bwa ha ha!
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Offline Nimrod Mikkusu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #159 on: December 20, 2016, 10:24:14 AM »
Yeah. If sims really did have lightsabers (well I guess there's some CC ones you could download) Cycl0n3, BOyd, Blair, and Susan would love to spar using them!  ;D

Offline Cheezey

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Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley - Chapter 34
« Reply #160 on: December 23, 2016, 10:12:37 AM »
Boyd, Boyd, Boyd. How can you be both brilliant about things alien and clueless about your own body...

Lol, I imagine a gym class on lightsaber fencing would get many geeks off their buns.

What a great chapter!

Poor Boyd.  It's amazing what one can rationalize when they really don't want to think it's happening to them.  As much as he has the whole Fox Mulder "I want to believe" outlook on aliens and UFOs, the scientist in him can't get past the thought that biology isn't supposed to work that way, so he can't be alien-pregnant. Those are just stories on the internet, and if it did happen, surely it was only to those who were abducted many times and subjected to much more experimentation. So it can't be happening to him, right? ;)

Terrific update Cheezey!  Light sabre fencing!  What a brilliant idea but it's not going to save Boyd from his expanding waistline.  Bwa ha ha!

Ha, nope! Although a lightsaber sparring match between Boyd and Cycl0n3 would be quite entertaining.

Yeah. If sims really did have lightsabers (well I guess there's some CC ones you could download) Cycl0n3, BOyd, Blair, and Susan would love to spar using them!  ;D

I'd be surprised if there wasn't some out there somewhere.



Chapter 34


 
Fall finally gave way to winter, and Sunset Valley was blanketed in a thick coat of frost and the looming threat of the first snow.  The Wainwrights put up their Snowflake Day tree and other decorations, eager to enjoy their first winter holiday season in their new home.


 
They got a call from Blair inviting them to meet up with her at the library.  She and Cycl0n3 were there with Chris.  Since Cycl0n3 had P.I. work to do, Blair thought it would be fun for Patrick and Chris to play in the kids’ section together.  The two boys played with blocks at the activity table while Blair chatted with her parents.

“Red goes here!”  Patrick’s little voice was insistent as he placed the block.

“Boo!”  Chris put up a blue block.  Patrick was not entirely pleased with his choice, but he allowed it after moving it half an inch with all of the superior authority an older preschooler could show to a younger one.

“Learning his colors already?  That’s great,” remarked Susan.

“Patrick took to that fast.  His favorite books are the ones with the shapes and colors.”  Boyd picked up Handprints of the Masters.  “We have a copy of this at home.  He loves it.”

“I was thinking I’d read to them in a little while, but for now they’re having fun.”  Blair picked up a toy and sat down beside them.  “Aren’t we?”


 
While Blair sat with Chris and Patrick, Susan browsed the skill book section for interesting titles, and Boyd wandered into the room Cycl0n3 was in.  His stomach rumbled again, and he could swear he felt it twisting inside.  He ate a candy bar to take the edge off.


 
“Haha.  Keep eating those, Space, and you’ll have your own moons orbiting you soon,” Cycl0n3 quipped when he saw him munching.

Boyd was not amused.  “Another fat joke, Cycl0n3?  Come on.  I thought the great Troll King of TarzWar was more creative than that.”

“Oh, relax.  I was just kidding around.”  He typed something and then looked over.  “So, do you find the internet speed here as pitiful as I do?  I know it’s free and all, but I feel like I’m getting what I’m paying for.”

“They probably don’t get enough of our tax dollars for better.”  Boyd shrugged.  “But can’t you do your online investigative work at home?”

“I’m only here to observe.  My case is book club drama.  You wouldn’t think such a thing existed, right?  But I’ve got a client who’s convinced that his girlfriend in the book club is still sleeping with her ex, also in the book club.  So I showed up before their meeting so I can see what’s going on without looking conspicuous.  Too bad I don’t have better internet in the meantime.”

“Do you think they’d be obvious enough to be all over each other in public?”

“Ugh.  Since I got into this business, you wouldn’t believe what some people are stupidly obvious about.  I’ve caught cheating spouses with their so-called discreet affairs kissing at work, in restaurant parking lots, pawing each other in a public pool, even at the laundromat on top of an industrial dryer.  Being dumb enough to make out behind a bookcase in the public library wouldn’t surprise me at all.”  He snickered.  “Bet it would rile the librarians, though.”


 
Soon, the book club members started to arrive, and they headed upstairs to their usual meeting area.  Cycl0n3 casually logged off of the library computer and followed.  When he noticed an empty chess table, he sat at it, pretending to work on his game strategy so he wouldn’t attract their attention.  It worked, and none of them seemed to notice.  He was close enough to hear their conversation, but nothing out of the ordinary was being said.  They were discussing some novel called Abstract with Turkey.

He was starting to feel like he’d wasted his time when he saw something he didn’t expect, although it had nothing to do with his case.


 
Tamara was at the library.  That was a little surprising to him, since it wasn’t the usual kind of place she would hang out.  He wondered what kind of books she was there for, but it turned out she wasn’t after a book at all.  She never noticed Cycl0n3, and went directly to the other side of the second floor to talk to a man sitting at one of the computers.

Oh, wow, is Tam picking up guys at the library now?  Guess she wants someone smarter after dating Xander! He decided to take a brief break from his stakeout to say hello, and razz her if that was what she was doing.


 
He was right, although it was obvious that it was not some random pickup, but a planned meeting.  He hadn’t even gotten over there before Tamara and the man started flirting, and stepped behind one of the privacy screens to keep their “conversation” private.

Cycl0n3 wanted to face-palm.  When he’d joked to Boyd about someone being brazen enough to make out in the library, he hadn’t expected it to be Tam, with… wait, did that guy have a wedding ring on?  “Oh, Tam.”  Cycl0n3 muttered and shook his head.  He was debating whether or not to make her squirm with a hello when he heard the scraping of chairs behind him.  The book club was wrapping up.

So much for that stakeout.  Figures I’d catch someone cheating I won’t get money for, Cycl0n3 mused as he watched the ones he’d come to spy on leave without saying a word to each other, and drive off in separate cars.




 
While Cycl0n3 wrapped up the case of the literature-loving non-lovers and moved on to the next, Boyd and Susan got a call with great news.  Their lawyer had finally negotiated a buyout price for Landgraab Industries.  They met with him and Nancy Landgraab to sign the papers, and left as full owners of the science facility.


 
“I say the first thing we do is change the name!” Susan declared as they left.  “Wainwright Innovations sounds much better than Landgraab Industries, don’t you think?”

“Absolutely!”  Boyd was grinning.  “I almost feel bad for Nancy, though.  She has no idea what she just sold the rights to.”

“I’m not worried about it.  She looked pretty smug when we left.  You know she thinks she got the better deal, and took advantage of us with that price.”

Boyd shrugged.  “Experimental compounds can be a risky investment.  Her management has been all about minimizing risk and maximizing profit.  I’m not surprised she didn’t see the potential in the existing data when she saw the expense of things like the alchemy potions and life fruit.  But it’s not like she didn’t have full disclosure on the data we’ve got.  She had no problems saying its ‘potential profitability years down the line’ justified padding the purchase price.”

“The lawyer thought we should argue that down.”

“I know, but letting her have it got us the company sooner.  In that sense, we were more generous to the Landgraabs than they would’ve been with us, from what Emit said.”

“I wonder if she’ll buy back some stock when we do develop LI-WX923 into something.”

“She might.  She might even try to buy the company back.”

“The only problem with that is,” Susan said with a knowing smile, “we won’t sell.”


 
Boyd and Susan invited Blair and Cycl0n3 over to dinner to share their good news and celebrate.  To start it off, Susan tried out a recipe for deep fried onion fingers that Emma had shared on SimBook.

“Wow, Mom.  You got a fryer?  You’re really getting into this home chef thing.”

“It’s not like we can’t afford one or don’t have space for it now.  So I figured, why not?”  She nibbled at her onion finger.  “Though this kind of thing is a bit labor intensive and messy to make often.  Don’t get too used to it.”

“That’s okay.  It’s not healthy to eat a lot of fried food anyway.”  Blair glanced at her father, who had already wolfed down half of his plate. 

Boyd noticed, and tried not to let it get to him.  He knew Blair meant well, but he was already frustrated with his weight gain without the reminder.  He’d put on enough that his clothes hardly fit, but despite that, he was still hungry all the time.  Sometimes it felt like his stomach was going to tear itself apart if he didn’t eat, and other times that writhing in his gut made him so nauseous that he’d spend an hour curled up by the toilet.  But he couldn’t explain any of that without going into the abduction, and he certainly wasn’t going to open himself up to a stream of tinfoil hat and alien probe jokes from his son-in-law by doing so.

Susan caught the look on Boyd’s face and changed the subject.  “So, we’re the proud owners of Landgraab Industries now.  Soon to be Wainwright Innovations.  What do you think?”

“I think it’s great!” Blair said cheerfully.  “You must be so excited.”

“We are.”  Boyd exchanged a smile with Susan.


 
“So what are you going to do there now that you’re in charge?” asked Cycl0n3.  “Got anyone you hate that you’re planning to fire?  That would’ve been top on my list if I suddenly became the owner back when I worked at Doo Peas.”

“Hate?”  Boyd shook his head.  “No.”

“There are a few incompetent idiots, but that’s the case in all workplaces, sadly,” said Susan.  “There’s nobody I’m ready to toss out on the spot, though.”

“The administrative part’s all going to be new to us.  We’ve always been in the lab.  Not that we won’t still be.  But the board won’t be making any more uninformed decisions where the science is completely ignored over profit or what they think is efficiency,” Boyd explained.  “We’re prioritizing good science.”

Susan nodded.  “I like to think we’ll be reasonable, ingenious, and profitable.  Creating new and better things for the world, and being remembered as great visionaries of our time.”

“That sounds like the start of a catchy slogan, Mom.  I think you’ll do great!”


 
Shortly after dinner, Boyd felt an uncomfortable squirming sensation in his stomach.  He’d been hungry and eaten fast, so he chalked it up to the fried onions not agreeing with him.  He hoped it would pass, but after a few minutes he felt worse, not better.  “I think I’m going to go lie down.  Thanks for coming by,” he told Blair and Cycl0n3.

“I hope you feel better, Dad.”  Blair gave him a hug.

“Yeah, take it easy,” said Cycl0n3.  “Don’t keel over on us or anything.” 

“Thanks.  I’ll try not to,” Boyd said as he left, while Susan shook her head at Cycl0n3. 


 
After her father left, Blair talked to her mother, concerned.  “I’m worried about Dad.  Is he all right?”

Susan forced a reassuring smile.  The truth was, she was worried about Boyd, too, but they had agreed not to tell anyone, even Blair, about the abduction.  “It’s probably just a stomach ache or indigestion.  He’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?  I’m not saying this to be mean or judge, but he’s put on a lot of weight lately.  Not just a few pounds.  Every time I see him, it’s more.  He’s not very active, and you know how he worries all the time... I don’t want him to have a heart attack.  Has he seen a doctor?”

“He’s not going to have a heart attack, honey.”

“I hope not,” she replied, unconvinced. 

“He hasn’t had any chest pains or high blood pressure or the like.  I promise, if he did, I’d have made him go to the doctor already.”

Blair relaxed.  “Okay.” 


 
Susan put Patrick to bed after Blair and Cycl0n3 went home, and then turned in herself.  She woke up a few hours later only to find Boyd missing from the bed again.  He was on the third floor, looking through their indoor telescope set up by a picture window that faced the ocean. 

“Boyd?”

“I couldn’t sleep again.”

“I figured.  The dreams?”

“Yeah.” 

Susan eyed her husband with concern.  He looked exhausted and weary, and she couldn’t help but think of the conversation she’d had with Blair earlier.  “What were you looking for?  Whatever took you?”

“Answers.  Something.  Anything.”


 
“I’m worried about you,” Susan said bluntly.  “Very worried.  This isn’t normal, and it’s not getting better.  If anything, it’s getting worse.  What really happened earlier?  I told Blair you had indigestion.”

“It was my stomach.  The twisting, pressure, pain thing again.”  He sighed.  “It eased up after a while.”

“Oh, Boyd.  I know you don’t want to see a doctor, but—”

“No!  It won’t do any good.  Even if they believe me about the aliens, and don’t lock me away or send me off with pills to help with my ‘delusions,’ what are the odds they could do anything to help?”  He sounded miserable and defeated, and it frustrated Susan.

“So we stand by and let you just get worse and worse until you die, then?  Is that your solution?”  She met his eyes.  “I don’t want to lose you.  Blair doesn’t want to, either.  She came to me, you know.  Saying she’s worried.  She’s afraid you’re going to have a heart attack.  I convinced her you’d be fine, but it was a good act, because I’m not convinced myself.  Not knowing what I know.”  Her voice choked up a little.  “We have to think of something.”

“We’ve run all the tests we can think of.  You saw my blood work when we ran it.  It’s normal.  Healthy, even.”  He let out a hollow laugh.  “So Blair doesn’t have to worry about me having a heart attack.”

“What about the almanac?  Has there been anything?”  A while back, they tried to contact Emit to ask what he knew, since alien abductions were known about and documented in his time.  But when they left Oasis Landing, Emit had said he’d contact them when it was time.  He never left instructions on how to reach him from the past, and the portal was not active.  They made their best guess at how to use the almanac to get in touch with him, but so far they had received no response.

“No.”  Boyd shook his head.  “We’re on our own.  Short of the aliens showing up with an explanation, our best shot now is hoping we find something when we go through the Landgraab Industries top secret files.”

“Then that’s what we’re doing tomorrow.”


 
It was exciting going to work as the owners.  They still had their old projects and duties, and officially retained their original positions.  They were given posh new offices for their administrative work, and of course, had their pick of labs to work in.  They promoted both Madison and Christopher, since they had proven themselves in their time working for them.   

It struck them how much had changed over the past several years.  Boyd remembered when Madison was the clumsy new girl who almost knocked him into a cow plant pen, and now she was well on her way to being a scientist.  She and Christopher were happily married and expecting their first child.  Christopher had come in young and inexperienced as well, but had proven to be a great asset to the lab.  Their old colleagues, Judy and Gobias, were gone.  Judy was retired, and Gobias had quit his job as a scientist for a new career at Doo Peas.  Judy’s oldest son, Ethan, followed in his mother’s footsteps.  After he graduated from high school, he applied for a job at Landgraab Industries, or Wainwright Innovations, as it would soon be officially named.  He was a natural at the job, bright and eager, and well-liked by his co-workers. 

Most exciting, though, was walking into the top secret underground lab for the first time.  The outer rooms had security code access limited to a handful of dedicated maintenance personnel and the scientists assigned to work there.  Those labs were not all that different than the labs elsewhere in the facility.  They had the same type of analysis equipment, benches, computers, and even a small dedicated cow plant room.  What they found behind the security-code locked door marked “Alien Research,” though, was a different story.  According to security, only the head of security, and the scientist assigned to the lab could get in there.

“Wow.”  When they walked in, Susan first saw what looked like a giant ray gun, while Boyd’s eyes fell on the alien-looking capsule against the wall. 

“Look at this,” he murmured, amazed.  “Do you think we built this, or is it borrowed or salvaged Sixam technology?”

“I wondered that about this,” she replied, running her hand lightly over the giant weapon.


 
The other side of the room held a large holo-archive that reminded Boyd of a primitive version of the holographic bookshelves he’d seen in Oasis Landing.  He went over to the shelf.  “Were we developing this stuff in our time, or do you think Emit’s been here?”

“I don’t know.  He said he knew what we did in the future and what happened here.  Maybe he has been here.”

“Who’s assigned to this lab?”

Susan checked her tablet.  “According to the personnel files HR gave me, the last active position in this lab was vacated almost a year ago.  I don’t recognize the name.  It says ‘deceased,’ so I guess he died.  His title was Top Secret Researcher.  Level 8.  Nobody else has had a title that high in,” she paused as she located the information, “sixteen years.”

“We’re Level 7 now,” Boyd said.  “And there aren’t many of us this high here.  And now without Judy…”

“It’s just us on site here now.”  Susan smiled at the realization that they would’ve been the highest level scientists even if they hadn’t bought the place.  “We would’ve wound up here before long, I think.  As soon as the board decided we were qualified, and wanted this actively pursued again.”

“I wonder what the last Top Secret Researcher knew.”


 
“Only one way to find out.”  Susan began browsing the holo archive study files, while Boyd examined the alien pod and ray weapon.

The Wainwrights spent the better part of their work day in that secret lab, fascinated and excited by the discoveries.  Although they found out a lot of interesting things, such as the old study where the first viable robot fish were bred, the files about Sixam were mostly documented sightings, images, and astronomical data.  There were a few files discussing abduction, and one that mentioned a “procedural implantation,” but it was closed out after an entry stating that the test subject was “no longer available,” and the file was closed “at military request” with a case number after it.


 
“No longer available at military request?” Boyd’s voice rose in horror.  “Oh, my Watcher.  The government’s in on it!  They really are.  I knew it!  Emit said they did that kind of thing, but this is proof!  No.  Oh, no, no, no, no!  What if they know about me and how they experimented on me?  What if they make me disappear?”

“Nobody’s going to make you disappear,” Susan tried to reassure him.

“And procedural implantation, what does that mean?  Did they put a chip in me?  One so small we can’t see it or detect it?  Futuristic alien nanotech?  What if it’s infected my whole system, and that’s why I’m so hungry?  What if it’s gotten into my brain?!”

“Boyd, please calm down.  We don’t know any of this for sure.”  She skimmed the file.  “There’s nothing here about what kind of implant it is.”

“So we don’t know!”  He started pacing, nearly hyperventilating.

“Precisely!  There’s nothing saying it’s as dire as all that.  And ‘no longer available’ could just mean the subject wasn’t feeling sick anymore, or was tired of being poked and prodded, and quit the study.”

“Or died!  Or was taken away by Sixam or the government…”

“I don’t think they died.  Remember, company S.O.P. requires a death to be noted a certain way in a study file.  It’s not.”

Boyd considered that.  “Okay, but if it it’s not bad, why would the military want it closed?”

“Maybe there was something classified, or it had to do with privacy laws.  If the subject was in the military, they might’ve had to transfer the files to their medical officer.”

“I was hoping for more answers, and all we got is more questions.”  Boyd winced as his stomach twisted painfully. 


 
“Boyd?”

“I—I don’t feel good.”   He sat down, and leaned back, hoping it would pass.

Susan leaned over him, concerned.  “Come on.  We’re calling it a day.  If you won’t go to a doctor, at least let’s go home and rest.”

Boyd nodded through his discomfort.  “Okay.”

Susan helped him to his feet, out of the top secret lab, and to the elevator.  “Fair warning.  If you pass out, or get worse, I’m taking you to the hospital.  No argument.”

“I’ll be all right when it passes.  It’s just another stomach ache…”

“Still.”  Her tone would accept no argument as she walked with him to the car.


 
When they got home, Boyd was ravenously hungry.  He ate some bread to settle his roiling stomach, and then went to lie down.  He was too uncomfortable to fall asleep, and a combination of nausea and pain overwhelmed him. 

Susan had been on her way to Patrick’s room, but when she heard Boyd up and about, she checked in on him.  “You’re feeling worse, aren’t you?”

“Just nauseous.”

Susan pulled him into a hug.  “I meant what I said earlier.”

“It’s not worse.  I’ll be fine.”

“But if it gets that way, you’ll let me know, right?”

Boyd nodded. 

“Promise?” 

“I promise.”

“Okay.”  Reluctantly, she let go of him.  “Feel better.”


 
After Susan left, Boyd took several deep breaths and splashed water on his face.  He started to feel better, and for a moment he was optimistic that it was going to pass.

That was when the clawing, gut-wrenching pain started.   Pain so intense it took his breath away.  “Oh, Watcher…”

He gasped, and caught sight of himself in the mirror.  At first he’d thought it was his imagination, but then he realized it was real.

His stomach was moving.  Something was under his skin.

“No.  Oh no.  No.”

It was like a nightmare, and even more terrifying than the ones he had of the alien ship.  He put his hand over it, as if to convince himself it wasn’t real, and then he felt the movement, just as a searing pain tore through his abdomen.

He cried out, but it was hard to breathe.  “Susan!”  Trying to shout for her came out as a ragged, desperate gasp, too quiet for her to hear where she was feeding Patrick downstairs.  “Susan!  Help…”

Boyd fell forward, and clutched at the sink in agony as his vision swam and his knees buckled.  The room around him went dark, then bright, as he tried to call out for Susan one more time before he collapsed.

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #161 on: December 23, 2016, 03:24:42 PM »
Wow Cheezey, what an absolutely riveting read!  You sure know how to build the suspense.  Even though I know what's happening, I feel like I don't really.  The emotions, the dialogue and the screenshots all help build the plot and I'm on tenterhooks waiting for the outcome.
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

My Stories:
1. Duty Calls
2. Duty Calls Sequel: Islands of Sunset Valley
3. The Lady of the Lake
4. The Secret Time Traveler

Offline Nimrod Mikkusu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #162 on: December 24, 2016, 10:49:44 AM »
Yeah, me too!  ;D Soon we'll have a new Wainwright!

Offline oshizu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #163 on: December 26, 2016, 11:03:01 PM »
You've captured so many great shots of Boyd making expressive faces. Is the pregnancy making even his face a little chubby?
Perhaps those strange green lights his belly emits are only visible to his Watcher and the forum readers...how could he not notice?  I love how you are writing Boyd's pregnancy.

Susan on the other hand seems to never age.
Cycl0n3 is so smug about Boyd's weight gain--I almost wish something would happen to him as a form of karmic retribution or something, haha.

I feel bad for Tamara and her horrific taste in men...

Offline Nimrod Mikkusu

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Re: Brilliant Minds: The Wainwrights of Sunset Valley
« Reply #164 on: December 27, 2016, 10:12:45 AM »
Tamara is suppose to be very flirty\sleazy.  ::) Hence the men she gets with are often much like her!  ::) ;D