Author Topic: Three Million Empty Words - 02x06: Little Brother  (Read 12892 times)


Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Three Million Empty Words - Episode 1
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2012, 12:13:54 AM »
Episode 1: Father

Good things about today:

Winter came to the store.

No headaches.

Bad things about today:

No words on thesis.

I didn't hear back from Professor White.

My father came.

I got involved in something that had nothing to do with me.

I'm sure those last two are connected.


Liam hated Wednesdays, and tended to blame everything bad that happened in the world and in his life on them. But that Wednesday was especially gruesome.

It started out well enough. He got to the bookstore early, which he didn't usually on Wednesdays, because glowering at the calendar that marked the name of the day took up at least ten minutes of his time, when one factored in all the things he spilled and broke and kicked and all the curses he muttered during that time, while he tried to go through his morning preparations. That day, though, he forgot it was Wednesday until he'd already left his building, so all he kicked was the waste disposal bin that belonged to his apartment complex, and that didn't require any putting back together, because all he did was leave a small dent in the side.

The worst thing was that he knew he could have reduced it to powder if he wanted to, and he did, but he couldn't let himself set a foot on that slippery slope. It had always been that way. He'd never gotten used to it.

He walked down the street to the bookstore, unlocked the door, and switched on all the lights and the radio, grumbling and muttering to himself.



Around ten thirty, after he'd glowered and growled his way through a couple of sales transactions, Winter entered the shop. He felt his facial muscles relax and thought he even managed a smile.

"Hey, Grumpy-pants," said Winter. She glanced at the radio, grinned, and started shaking her hips. "I love this song!"



"Hi, Winter," said Liam. "How are you?"

"Sky high, Grumpy. Sky high. Woo!" She threw her arms up in the air as if the whole world were filled with roses and sunshine and she couldn't help herself.

"Anything new?" he asked, gazing at her like the last bite of ice cream left in the bucket.



"Three new paintings commissioned, two new clients, and six parties this weekend. Wanna come?"

He sighed. "I've got work to do."

She stopped dancing, shook her head, and marched over to him. Grabbing his hands, she pulled him back to a clear space. "You've got to take that frown off, Grumpy-pants."

"Maybe if you stopped calling me that."

She grinned. "Come on, dance with me." She started shaking it again. She smelled like fruit, and besides there were no other customers just then, so Liam obliged her.



"Put some spirit into it!" she ordered, as if she were his dance instructor or something. "I want to see hips moving! Come on!"

Against his better judgment, Liam found himself actually enjoying the morning.

The song ended and Winter wandered over to the bookshelf. "Got anything new?"



"We just restocked. There aren't any books coming out this week." He leaned against his desk, watching her, wondering when he was going to finally get the guts to ask her out. Tomorrow, he told himself. Today's Wednesday. Wednesdays are a bad day to be doing anything new.

"D'you have The Great Gatsby? I've lost my copy."

"Let it stay lost."

She looked back at him, eyebrows raised. "We're going to have the Fitzgerald argument again?"

"Why don't you take some Dickens? Twain? Something to mix it up a little."

She stuck out his tongue. "Because I've already read everything in your store, Grumpy-pants. Until you get something new I'm gonna have to pull out old favorites."

He rolled his eyes. "Favorites. Okay."

She located a copy of The Great Gatsby, paid, and gave him a kiss on the cheek before she left. He kept his idiotic smile for over half an hour. She'd never done that before.

At four he gave over to the guy who had the evening shift and headed home, picking up a hamburger that he ate on the way there. He climbed the five flights of stairs to his floor and walked into his apartment, swiping his pills from the bedside table and washing them down with a glass of water.



He was about to sit down at the computer to see what he could do about his monster of a thesis sitting unfinished on his hard drive when a knock came at the door. He went to answer, grumbling like on any other Wednesday.

When he saw his father on the other side of the threshold that changed his mood. "What are you doing here?"

"Hello to you, too," said his father. "I'll let myself in, if you don't mind." Without waiting for him to answer, he went over into the living area and took a seat. "I love what you've done with the place."

Liam stared at the open door for a moment before closing it. "You've never been here before," he said, and went to sit beside him.



"Haven't I? Hmm. Well."

"I thought you'd be at Theo's birthday."

"Theo thought you'd call. It's customary for brothers to call each other on their birthdays. Don't know if you've heard it before."

Liam scowled. "Either tell me what you popped up here for after three years of no more than the occasional phone conversation or get out. I'm busy."



"I'll get right to it, then. It's Theo's thirtieth birthday. It was the last chance for him. Now we know for sure. He's not going to have it."

Liam's scowl slid off his face as cold dread began to seep into his gut. "You can't mean that."

"I do, actually. I've never heard of anyone's powers manifesting--"

"Don't say that."

"What? Powers? Manifesting? Too comic-book for you?" His father scrutinized him critically.

"Wait another five years."

"As I was saying, I've never heard of anyone's powers manifesting later than twenty-two. We agreed to give Theo a chance. Well, time's up. Your turn."

"You want me to take over from you? Be like you? Find another heir, because you might as well give up on me. I can't do it." He'd thought his father knew that. Wasn't it obvious? He didn't have it in him.

"And who do you suggest?" asked his father pleasantly, but with a hard edge below the surface that he couldn't mistake. "I'm not asking, Liam. It's your duty."



"Do you expect that to mean anything to me? I've never cared about duty."

"I expect you to know that it means I'm going to force you to go through with it whether you like it or want to puke at the idea. I'm too old to play superhero anymore. Starting tomorrow you're quitting your medication. Once you're weaned off of it we'll start training."

"You're insane. I'm taking a leak." As quick as he could, he got the bathroom door between himself and his father. The old man had gone senile. Talking about quitting his meds, training to become... what? Whatever his father was. Saving people. Heroics. He was not cut out for it.

He went back out. On finding his father still there, he picked a book from his bedside table and threw himself on his bed.

"You're going to hide behind your book until I leave?" asked his father.



"Yep," said Liam.

His father sighed and went over to the fridge, pulling the door open with a forceful tug. "Not much in here."



"And I'm sure being a hero will make the fridge just overflow."

His father shrugged, took out a box of juice, and plopped down on the couch, flipping on the TV. Liam could hear the juice buzzing through the straw and the chatter of the sports channel. After a while of struggling to ignore it all he found he hadn't read a single word on the page in front of him, and couldn't take it anymore. He set it down and walked past his father.

"Going for a walk?"

He didn't answer.

"Try walking past the theater."

Liam wandered along the road in front of his building, telling himself he wouldn't follow his father's suggestion. He wouldn't let him order him around, not even over something that small. But then nagging self-doubt came into his head... what if by avoiding doing what his father had told him to do he was being a coward? What was the worst that could happen?

Dark had fallen early, it being late autumn, but plenty of people were about. Liam passed the bistro, breathed in the scent of food cooking, a great big tangle of separate smells; turkey, steak, vegetables, puddings. He remembered he hadn't had supper. Maybe he'd pick up something from the diner on his way home. He knew it was hopeless, but he did entertain the notion that his father might give up and leave if he took long enough.

A young woman stood beside the lamppost at the corner of the theater. Liam passed her without a glance, starting out onto the road.

"Let go of me!"

He stopped.



Taking a small glance back over his shoulder he saw that a man had come out of the shadows and was trying to take the woman's purse. Liam cursed. He was twenty feet away. He couldn't do nothing.

"Leave her alone," he said. The man didn't even hear him over his argument with the woman. Didn't anyone else see them? No, of course, the corner of the theater conveniently shielded them from view of the bistro. Liam was the only one there.

He stomped over. When the man saw him he gave a final yank and took the purse out of the woman's hands. Liam caught him by the arm before he could get away.

"You're slow, aren't you?" He snatched the purse and thrust it back at the woman. The man threw a punch at him. Liam avoided it. "I called the police, you idiot," he spat furiously. "This is where you run, remember?"



The man looked around and took off. Liam snorted contemptuously and started to go on. The woman caught his sleeve.

"What do you want?" he snarled.

"Thank you," she said. "This town's usually so quiet, I didn't expect to get robbed..."

He pulled out of her grasp. "Be more careful next time. Don't wander around alone, and don't be stupid."

"Please, won't you help me get home? I've been waiting forever for a taxi, they told me they stopped here..."



"Other corner. Help yourself." He walked off. Why? Why did this happen today? Had his father known? He marched furiously up to his apartment, where he found his father still sitting on the couch, watching TV, several empty juice boxes on the table in front of him.



"Why did you send me to walk past the theater?" he asked.

His father didn't even look away from the screen. "Did I? I don't remember."

"Don't play dumb, dad. Did you know what would happen?"

"No. What happened?"

"Stand up and talk to me!"

He pushed himself to his feet, grunting, and faced Liam. "What seems to be the problem?"

"You knew what would happen! You sent me to rescue that woman's purse or whatever. What, you're going to try to trick me into being a hero now?"



"Don't be ridiculous. I'm not a crystal ball. If you noticed someone who needed your help, that was only because you were looking for them. People need help all the time. It's not a miracle that it happened to be now. You don't know how many robberies you've walked past without noticing because, as noted, you failed to notice."

"I'm not going to do this, dad! People's problems are their own! I've got my life, I've got my own dreams and my job, and I'm not going to give it all up because of some crazy notion! It's not fair to ask me to give everything up..."

For the first time his father seemed to get angry. "Oh, yes, you poor, disadvantaged boy. Don't cry about the unfairness of the world when you've never even bothered to realize how unfair the world really is to other people. You're lucky, Liam. You had an education, you have a family that loves you, you'd have money, too, if you asked for it."



"All of which you're asking me to give up now!"

"You and I were gifted. These gifts are meant to be used. If we don't help others with the advantages we have, then everything that happens that we could have prevented happens on our conscience. I don't know why it's you, when we both know it should have been your brother after me, but you're the one that inherited my abilities, and you're not going to turn your back on them."

Liam stared at his father, who seemed to take a few moments before he realized what he'd said. He opened his mouth to say something more, but Liam cut in. "Of course you would have preferred my brother. He's everyone's ideal, isn't he? I'm just a waste of space. Just get out of my apartment, dad."

His father sighed heavily, hesitated a moment more, and headed out. Liam locked the door behind him. Still trembling with fury he tried to wrangle something edible from the fridge. He only found an old half-eaten sandwich, but didn't want to go back out to get something else. Going to bed hungry didn't help his mood in the least, but at least when he slept he wouldn't have to think.

He wrote up the list of bad and good things, folded the paper, and put it in the drawer in his bedside table where he kept all of them. Hundreds, thousands of identical papers, all with the day's events divided into bad and good. He didn't even have all of them there.



Then he climbed into bed and switched off the light.

The next day he had to open the store again. He made it through breakfast and all the way down the road without dwelling on anything of what had happened the day before, pushing the thoughts back into the dungeons of his mind whenever they dared show their faces. He unlocked the door and had stepped halfway through when he saw his father, sitting in one of the armchairs in the reading area.



"How did you get in?"

"I'm a superhero, remember?"

Liam took the book his father had been reading and put it away. His father stood. "It's time to leave. Go home, dad. Wait another five years for Theo, or find someone else to succeed you. It's not going to be me." When his father didn't budge, he gestured emphatically, pointing him out of the city. "Go home."



"I'm not leaving."

Liam shook his head, disgusted, and went to sit at his desk. He had to do an inventory check before customers started arriving. If his father refused to go, he would just ignore him. He would have to give up eventually.

His father followed him. Still Liam resolved to pretend he wasn't there.



As soon as his fingers touched the keyboard he knew something was wrong. The keys twisted and collapsed under his touch. The screen sparked. Unthinkingly, he reached out his hand. The entire thing dissolved in seconds, turning to dust that didn't smell or smoke. He stared dumbly at the empty desk.

"You see," said his father. He sounded sad. "You can ignore me, but you can't ignore who you are."

"What did you do?" whispered Liam, lifting his fingers to eye level.

"Switched your pills. You took a placebo this morning."

Liam found his thoughts and glared at his father as everything fell into place. "You can't do that."



"Can't I?"

"You can't force me. You need me to want this life; you told me so."

"True. That doesn't mean I can't use whatever means I find necessary to convince you to want it. You can take your pills and suppress your true nature, but you can't make it go away. The drugs had side-effects, didn't they? Headaches, nausea, vertigo... your body knew it was being forced to be something it wasn't. These abilities are a part of you. They can't be separated from who you are. You're either this person who can do amazing, impossible things, or you're no one at all. No middle ground."

Liam looked back at his hands. "I hadn't done that since I was..."

"Eight years old. Long time, isn't it? A part of you feels that this is right, don't tell me it doesn't."

Of course his father was right, but he didn't admit it.

"But as you said, I can't force you. So here is the question. I have the pills in my pocket. If you want them, you can have them back. Or you can stop taking them forever, and be who you really are. The choice is yours. What will it be?"



Thank you for reading the first "episode" of my new story! I hope you enjoyed it. ;D



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Offline JudesSims

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Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2012, 01:34:33 AM »
Like it? No. Love it? YES! Great story!

Offline seashall

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2012, 02:36:56 AM »
That's a really intriguing start! I like it!  :D Where did you get the inspiration from?

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2012, 05:20:15 AM »
Absolutely love it! A superhero! Can't wait for more. ;D

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2012, 10:49:30 AM »
That's a really intriguing start! I like it!  :D Where did you get the inspiration from?

I've always loved superheroes, but I got the inspiration to write a story about them when I read the web original "Interviewing Leather." It's a great story, and made me want to write my own. ;D

Offline Sugarnibble

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2012, 08:37:36 PM »
This is a great start! I can't wait to see what happens next!
"There isn't someday. Life is just a whole bunch of todays. And it just so happens that right now is today." Debra Delong, 'Debra'



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Offline Spork-tastic

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2012, 06:00:03 PM »
Really, really, really cool story! Its classic yet original! But perfect! Sooo well written too!

Offline alex51299

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2012, 06:29:37 PM »
This is absolutely fabulous so far! I wonder if it will be able to rival All the Good Girls go to Heaven?
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Offline MoonsAreBlue

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2012, 07:45:28 PM »
I'm hooked! This sounds like it's going to be a very interesting story line. I can't wait!

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2012, 11:30:47 PM »
Episode 2: Wrong

Good things about today:

Bad things about today:


Liam and his father stood on top of the roof of his building that evening after Liam's shift ended. He had tremors running down his body, and cold chills, like he was running a fever, but his father hadn't wanted to excuse him.

"You said we'd wait a week before we started."

His father tapped his watch. "Time's a-wasting, Liam. The forces of evil aren't going to wait a week."

"So basically you lied because you thought I'd be more willing to go along with it if I had one more week."

"Well, there's that, and the fact that I cut you off cold turkey from the drugs, so the effects should be almost completely gone by now. If you'd gradually reduced the dosage it would be more comfortable, but slower, and we couldn't have done that demonstration this morning with the computer."

"Yeah, my boss is going to be real happy about that."

His father patted his shoulder. "Turn around and close your eyes."

"So you can push me over the edge?"

"Yes. Hurry, while there's daylight. I'm getting hungry."

Liam turned, grumbling, and closed his eyes. "Now what?"

"Relax. Not so much tension in the shoulders. Forget about work, and your dissertation, and everything else. Connect with the part of you that's been subdued all these years."

"What?"

"Just relax first."

Liam sighed and tried his best. He stood at the edge of the balcony, and a fresh sea breeze blew across his face, carrying the smells of the city and of salt water and a faint trace of kelp. It made it easier to get his mind off things.



"There's been a blank wall in your mind all these years, ever since your powers manifested and we started giving you the drugs. It's gone now. It shouldn't be too hard to find it. Just look around."

"This is the inside of my head we're talking about, not a construction site."

His father smacked him up the side of the head. "Concentrate. Stop being a teenager."

It felt dark inside his head at first, but as he watched his thoughts started lighting up, coloring themselves in and gaining volume, until he felt as though he stood amid a swirl of colored wind. Pictures, stray snatches of music and conversation, half-formed interior monologues, all zipped by. It reminded him of the point just before he fell asleep, and wondered if he was going to lose consciousness and topple off the edge of the building. He sifted through everything, half convinced it was stupid, until he stumbled on something.

The best he could do to describe it was call it a hole. Like he'd been walking down a familiar sidewalk that he didn't even have to look to know his way along, and suddenly he put his foot in a pothole that construction workers had made the night before to get to the water pipe system.

And when he fell into that hole, his world opened up like an umbrella, broader and deeper and more comprehensible. He opened his eyes. Nothing looked different, but he could sense that something had changed.

"Was it supposed to be this easy?" he asked, looking back at his father.

"Of course it was," said his father, grinning. "The hard part was blocking it off, not accessing it. It was always a part of you. The wall was purely synthetic, just the effect of the drugs. Come over here."

He directed him to the back corner of the balcony, where the maintenance people had grouped three large garbage bins. It stank.

"While disintegrating objects is fun, it's not the only thing you can do. Any non-living thing that you touch you can change. All you need to do is rearrange its composition, its structure. You can make change its shape, its weight, or its density. You can't create something from nothing, but you can change what's there. When you get better you can refine the details, but for now try to change something, anything you want."

"How?"

"Touch it. Go on, put your hand on it. It's not going to bite... unless you make it bite, which would be pretty funny. You can try if you like."

Liam scowled. "This is stupid, dad. It doesn't make sense."

"Just try, will you?"

He touched the garbage bin, hoping no one would come up onto the roof and see him.



"What now?"

"Tell it you want it to change."

"Garbage bin, I want you to become a pile of gold."

His father smacked him up the side of the head again. "Don't be thick, Liam. Come on, take this seriously. This should come naturally to you. It's only because you've gone so long without using it."

He heaved a breath and pressed his hand into the metal side. He remembered what it felt like to have the computer melt and disintegrate under his fingers. First the solidity had gone, and it had become like a sort of gelatin that his fingers went through, and then...

"Well," said his father. "There goes the first one."

Liam stared at the ground, where that same fine dust like the one that had covered his desk this morning was all that remained of the garbage bin.



"Let's try again. We've got two more of them, so don't worry. No one makes a perfect pot on the first throw."

"Dad," said Liam, his irritation mounting, "No peppy, motivational metaphors, please. Okay?"

His father held up his hands in mock surrender. "No metaphors."

Liam forced himself to concentrate and stepped over to the next garbage bin. He held out his hands tentatively, hoping it wouldn't fall apart as soon as he touched it.



It remained solid. He closed his eyes and dove into that part of his mind he'd discovered. It startled him by its newness; it hardly seemed to belong in his head. But it was more like an old friend he hadn't seen in years than a perfect stranger. And after flexing his new mental muscles for a few minutes he remembered a few things he'd forgotten.

He could feel the metal changing under his hands, shifting and vibrating slightly, but he didn't open his eyes until it became still again.

And there, in front of him, sat a car.



"You made a car," remarked his father, unhelpfully. "Very nice. Quite a step above the last one." He peered through the window. "You forgot the engine. The whole interior, really, except for the seats. But it's quite satisfactory for someone who's just starting."

"Thanks," said Liam. He'd expected a little more praise. He'd never done anything remotely like this and his father told him he'd forgotten the engine.

"You could've picked a better color."

"I didn't think about..."

"Don't get angry. You did well. Come on, I'll buy you dinner. Is that little diner across the street any good?"

"I eat there almost every day."

They went down to the ground floor and crossed the street. The diner didn't seem too active yet. The early supper rush had passed and the later wave hadn't come in yet.



The waiter knew Liam, and immediately seated them at his usual table, one of the nicer ones, near the window. When he asked what they would have Liam started to order his usual hamburger, but his father cut in and asked for two salads with shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and nuts.

"Who's going to eat that?" asked Liam.

"College kids," said his father to the waiter. "Always eating junk and angry when someone gets them to eat good food."

The waiter smiled and left. Liam scowled at his father.

"I didn't know the superhero gig came with a special diet."

"Of course it does. Did you think your powers ran on batteries? You need to get your vitamins. Fatty meats and white bread won't help you."

Then came a long stretch of uncomfortable silence until the waiter returned with their salads. Liam welcomed his heartily, noticing the pit in his stomach for the first time, and started to shovel it down so fast that he choked.



"Slow down," said his father. "It's not going to disappear."

Silence fell again while Liam tried to restrain his ravenous appetite. The faint country music coming from the speakers and the clinking of forks were the only sounds while they ate.

Toward the end of the meal his father's phone rang. Liam pointed to a sign that said, "No cell phones inside the establishment." His father got up and walked out. Liam followed him with his eyes past the big mirror on the other side of the room, and that's where he caught sight of her.

Standing just feet away from him, a little girl no more than ten, her skin and hair a soft blue, as though she lay at the bottom of a lake instead of standing beside him.



His heart like an industrial drill on the inside of his ribcage, he looked away from the reflection and to the spot beside him where he'd seen the girl. Empty.



He looked back at the mirror. She'd vanished from there, too. But he knew he couldn't have imagined her. Everything in here was white and red; nothing to make him think he'd seen a girl when it was something else.

His heart didn't slow down, and his stomach clenched up. He wouldn't be having desert.

His father appeared a few moments later and beckoned to him. Liam walked over to him.

"I got a call from a police friend of mine. I've got to go check it out. You go home."

"I thought we were doing the training thing. Wouldn't this be a good chance for you to show me the ropes and everything?"

"No," said his father firmly. "Go home."

Liam frowned. "I'm overwhelmed by your confidence in me."

His father matched his expression. "You're new to this. Turning trash bins into cars won't help you in the real world. Go home and take some Tylenol for your fever."

"Fine," said Liam, drawing back.

"If I see you I'll kick your butt, Liam," said his father.



Liam left the diner, kicking angrily at pieces of trash and rocks he found in his way. He stopped in front of his apartment complex and glanced back. He could see his father a few blocks away, heading in the opposite direction. He watched him turn the corner and hesitated before going after him.

He reached the corner in time to see his father going into a bank, the kind of fancy place Liam had only ever seen on the outside, all plush red carpets and velvet upholstered couches in the lobby. After peering in through the window for a moment he opened the door and went in. There were a couple of policemen wandering around, seemingly looking for something.

One of them started to go toward him, presumably to kick him out of the scene of a crime, but his father, who was talking to a man in a fancy suit, said, "He's with me, John." He turned back to the man in front of him. "Sir, the police are on the case, and will do everything they can to recover your property."



"I paid good money for the safekeeping of my valuables, sir," said the man. "And their state-of-the-art security system didn't even let them know something had been stolen! I wouldn't be surprised if the robbery was done by someone in the staff. They let all sorts of riff-raff work here." He seemed to direct his last words over Liam's father's shoulder at a young woman in a uniform.

Liam walked over to her. "I'm with him," he said, pointing to his father. "What happened?"

"I already told the police. This is confidential," she snapped.



"So someone broke into a vault or something?"

She looked him over peevishly. "They didn't even trigger the security system," she said in a more subdued voice. "They didn't disable it, either. There's nothing on the cameras. This kind of thing isn't supposed to happen."

The man his father had been talking to walked off to talk to one of the policemen, and his father started to say something to Liam, but something caught his eye and he marched over to the middle of the room. Liam followed, watching his father bend over to pick a small object up from the floor.



"What's going on, dad?" asked Liam.

His father straightened, turning over the little thing between his fingers. "You, lady. Come over here."

The woman dragged her feet across the carpet sullenly. "What?"

"What is this?"

Liam peered at it as well. It looked like an earring to him.

"Diamond earring," said the woman.

"Aren't you contaminating the evidence?" asked Liam.

His father ignored him. "Valuable?"

"Yes, quite valuable. Real diamond and pure gold."

"You can tell just by looking at it?"

She scowled. "I recognize it. One of our customers showed it to me."

Liam's father handed the earring over to one of the policemen, who seemed upset he'd touched it with his bare hands. "You won't find any fingerprints, anyway." He clapped the policeman on the shoulder and headed out of the building, Liam behind him.

"Something's not right," said his father, pausing beside the lamp post on the corner.

"Is your spider sense tingling or something?" asked Liam.



"They were looking for something specific, not just a profit."

"How do you figure? That earring's small. It could've slipped out of their fingers."

His father gave a sniff and whirled to face him. "This was an elaborate, well-planned robbery. Someone who's careful enough not to trigger the security system without even deactivating it wouldn't drop something as valuable as that earring. They didn't care about it."

"Well, either way it seems like it doesn't fit to me. If they're that careful they wouldn't have pulled it out in the first place."

"Okay. Go home, this time for real."

Liam didn't move.

His father's forehead creased. "I'm not kidding, Liam. It doesn't seem dangerous now because no one's physically hurt, and it seems like these guys don't want to run into anyone, but it could get dangerous at a moment's notice, and I can't help other people if I'm protecting you."

"Maybe I don't need protection."

His father didn't like that at all. "You think because you can do a few pretty tricks you're invincible? You've been on drugs for sixteen years, suppressing your powers. You aren't anywhere near ready to face real danger, not even the non-supernatural kind. Go home and go to bed."



Liam glowered at him for a moment before wordlessly giving his back to his father and walking off. His father had never trusted him with anything important before, but he'd thought it would change now. It was just the same as always.

He didn't go home. First he went back to the diner and had a hamburger, and then he walked past the theater and saw they were playing a movie that looked mildly interesting, so he went to see it. He didn't want to go home to the same old cramped little environment and pretend this was just another day. Besides he didn't think he'd be able to sleep.

After the movie he wandered the streets a while longer, trying to organize his thoughts, before he went up to his apartment. As he fit the key in the lock he noticed the light was on inside. Kicking himself for leaving the light on all day and well into the night--that would certainly show up on his monthly electric bill--he went in.

His eyes immediately went to the woman sitting in the armchair facing the door. With all the light colors it was impossible not to notice her, all dressed in black, legs crossed, smiling.



"How did you get in? The lock's not forced."

"I had a key," she said pleasantly. She had a beautiful voice, and almost made talking sound like singing. "You don't keep the place very clean."

"Not even my friends have a key to my apartment, and I've never seen you before."

She stood and walked over to him. He thought he should get something to defend himself with, and reached for a hardback book on the shelf beside him, but she slid her arms around him and kissed him.



Caught off guard, he returned the kiss at first. It was nice, but short. He pulled away and found her smiling.

"I was right," she said. "We've got another little superhero."

"Look, if you don't leave now I'm going to call the police."

"Was the kiss that bad?" She gave a little smirk.

"I don't know you, and you're in my apartment without my permission."

"None of us are ever really strangers. We're connected at heart. Kin." She leaned close to him again. "Where's your dad?"



"You expect that to work?"

She shrugged. "Not really. Worth a shot, though." She straightened. "You're coming with me."

He backed up a step. "No."

"Wasn't asking."

He din't have time to reach for the hardback before he saw a flash of bright light and lost consciousness.

*

Liam's father burst into the apartment without knocking. Two men sat on the couch facing away from him. The redhead laughed and gave a wave.

"Come on in."



"I need information. Remember me?"

"Go on the net, old man."

Liam's father grabbed him by the front of the shirt and pulled him to his feet. "Remember me now?"

"Sure. You're Paul Galagher." The man got out of his grip and dusted off his shirt. "I still don't have anything for you."

"There's been a robbery recently. It involved something beyond the norm. It was the Pearson and Sons bank."

"Never heard of it. I don't have a bank account."

"That wasn't why I thought you would've heard of it."

The man grinned. "I might be a thug, Galagher, but I don't have as loose a mouth as you think I do."

"Maybe you should tell him," murmured the other one.

Paul looked at him. "Tell me what?"

"Say anything and I'll tell him it was you," said the redhead.

"Don't say anything and you won't have time to tell anyone anything," said Paul.

"Sorry, Vince, but the man scares me. Remember what he did to Pip?" He stood up, nervously wringing his hands. "Horace got hired to find out about something in one of the vaults."

"Any idea who hired him, or what that something in the vaults was?"

The man blinked. "Do you think I'm stupid? I don't know things like that. They get you killed."

"Oh, Horace is going to have your hide," said the redhead, giving an unkind laugh.

"Anything else you remember that could be useful?" asked Paul.



The man shook his head. "That's all."

"Where does Horace live, then? Maybe I'll convince him not to get back at you for telling on him."

The address they gave him was on the other side of town, and Paul thought he should check in on Liam before he went. He didn't trust the kid alone for more than a few hours. He'd made him nervous when he said that thing about not needing protection. He thought nothing could happen to him, and he might try something stupid.

He knocked at the door for a long time. At first he though he was asleep, but he would have woken up by now. He picked the lock and went inside.

A dismal vision greeted him. The lights wouldn't turn on when he flipped the switch; all the electronics had shorted out, or at least it looked that way. Water sprouted from the faucet, and a large puddle had already gathered. The juice boxes he'd drunk the night before still sat on the table.



"Oh, Liam," said Paul, and smacked himself on the forehead. "What did you do?"



Thanks so much for all the feedback! I hoped you enjoyed the second episode. Thank you for reading!

Offline alex51299

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2012, 11:37:38 PM »
Wow, excellent! You are a truely brilliant writer, how did you come up with all of this?
If at first you don't succeed, call it version 1.0.

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2012, 03:57:53 AM »
Wow! Awesome chapter! I wonder where she has taken Liam? Can't wait for more.

Offline thesimslover828

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2012, 02:27:50 PM »
Wow, I love this, it's really good. I'm going to bookmark it and I can't wait for more. It's a great story,very great.
We are of peace, always but this is war.
We are of peace, always.
We'll help build a resistance. We have to fight.

When all you've ever loved has been stolen from you, sometimes all you have left is revenge.
For the truly wronged, satisfaction can be found in one of two places,  absolute forgiveness or mortal vindication. This is not a story about forgiveness. When deception cuts this deep, someone has to pay.

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2012, 07:10:50 AM »
Wow, excellent! You are a truely brilliant writer, how did you come up with all of this?

Thank you! Some of it I come up with before writing the story, by figuring out where I needed the characters to go, according to the arcs I have planned out for them. Some of it comes up as I'm playing the game, some of it while I'm writing. :) Mostly it's just squeezing my brain. Hehe. ;D

Offline Trentorio

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2012, 12:24:41 PM »
I can't believe I didn't see this story until today! I am such a fan of your stories, Apples...I can't wait for more!

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2012, 07:37:58 AM »
I just started reading this. You're off to a great start, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to know what has happened to Liam. I like the way you use various techniques to suggest superpowers. The dumpster/car made me laugh!
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Offline Spork-tastic

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2012, 07:23:53 PM »
This is so great I love it! Its so different from the other sim stories! Your SO creative!

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2012, 09:17:56 PM »
Episode 3: Foxtrot and Fleet Fingers

Good things about today:

I didn't die.

Bad things about today:

Everything else.


Liam woke thinking it must be Wednesday, because his head hurt like it might crack open, and his whole body ached. But as he struggled to get his eyes unglued, an unfamiliar smell wafted into his nose, and he realized that his cheek rested on a rougher surface than his pillow. He found himself on a tan-colored couch, fancier than anything in the places he frequented. Definitely not his house, or the diner, or the bookstore, or the college campus.

When he was able to lift his head, he met a pair of eyes he recognized. She looked a little different, with her hair loose and more normal clothes that made her look less like a thief and more like someone he might meet on the street, but he wouldn't forget the woman who'd broken into his house, kissed him, and knocked him out somehow. And apparently kidnapped him as well.

"Sweet dreams?" she asked.

"Not really," said Liam, rubbing the back of his head, which seemed to be a point with more pain than the rest of his skull.

She pulled out his ID. She must have lifted it off him. "Liam Galagher, twenty-four. Not an organ donor. Why's that, Liam?"

"Because I like my organs in my body." He looked around. They sat in an elegant, richly decorated room. It took him a moment to realize what was missing: the windows. Were they underground? No pictures hung on the walls, either. Then he noticed a young man with carrot-colored hair that fell halfway down his back sitting in an armchair on his other side. The man smiled at him.

"Is it that?" asked the woman, drawing his attention back to her. "Or is it that your organs wouldn't be compatible with a normal person?"



"What does that mean?"

"I already know your secret, Liam," she said patiently. "You've got superpowers. And you've been investigating a crime, like a good little hero. So tell me, is that what you think of yourself as? A champion of good, the scourge of the evil underground of our quaint little city?"

"Who are you?"

She smiled. "You can call me Foxtrot."

Liam snorted. "Code names? What is this, a comic book?"

"You should come up with one yourself," said the young man. "It would make it a little harder for bad people to go knocking at your door when you do something they don't like."



"Are you bad people, then?" asked Liam.

"I don't know. Are we?" Foxtrot asked the man in a mocking tone.

The man grinned. "Dunno. Let's see. We have the evil lair, we kidnap young superheros, we steal for a living..."

"Did you steal from that bank?"

"Of course not. Whyever would we do such a thing? That's such a naughty thing to suggest." Foxtrot's eyes twinkled.

"What's your code name?"

"Fleet, or Fleet Fingers, if you like," said the young man.

"So tell us, Liam Galagher. Are you trailing after your father for fun, or for educational purposes? Is he teaching you how to be a superhero?"

"You know who my father is?"

Foxtrot sighed. "Everyone knows who your father is, honey. So are you liking this new lifestyle he's introducing you to?"

"Did you just bring me here to chat?"

Foxtrot winked at Fleet Fingers and went to sit beside Liam on the couch. "We brought you here to give you a chance to play with the big kids." She put an arm around his neck and took his hand. "So confess. Are you a straight player like your father? You didn't seem too happy when I was following you, but maybe that's just the standard superhero scowl of incorruptible pureness."



"You want me to help you steal something?" asked Liam.

"We've got a job lined up. It's complicated, with a lot of different parts that have to fit together. If you help us with a little job we have to do today, we can cut you in on the profit."

"You're going to let me in on what you're doing?"

Foxtrot laughed a laugh as musical as her voice. "We're not idiots. You could tag along with us for a week and not have a single scrap of evidence to toddle off with. Not that you would, would you?"

"What makes you think that?"

"Aw, sweetie." She patted his cheek. "We looked you up. Older brother, no powers, and you're the disappointment. Are you going to cower down and let your father lead you around, trying to make you into a superhero, even though he doesn't believe you've got it in you? Tell me. It's your choice, really. You don't have to be what he wants you to be."

"I would've run away laughing if I knew there was such a great option as being a criminal," said Liam wryly.

"He's probably given you the talk," said Fleet Fingers. "Right?"

"'We can't ignore who we are, with great power comes great responsibility, yadda yadda yadda'? The first part I have to agree with. We can't ignore who we are. As to helping other people, well, you might as well say that being alive and able to walk around the block gives you a responsibility to dedicate your life to others, right? Why does the fact that we can do special things make us responsible for other people? The world is full of people who give and people who take, Liam. Want to guess which ones are the ones who always come out on top?"

Liam stared at her. Was it that he still hadn't recovered from whatever she'd done to him to knock him out, or did what she say make some kind of twisted sense? And what could be better, really, than seeing the look on his father's face when he found out what he was doing? His words came back to him. I don't know why it's you, when we both know it should have been your brother after me. Maybe it should have. Maybe Theo never would have even considered something like this.

But Liam was tired of being demeaned and taken for granted. "What's in it for me?"

Foxtrot grinned broadly and patted his hand. "Directly proportional to your contribution, Galagher. Now why don't you show us what you can do?"

Liam hesitated before getting up and walking over to a big white TV on the other side of the room. He tried to suppress the mixture of grim excitement and dread in order to concentrate.

"Help me," said a little voice beside him.

He looked down and saw the little blue girl again, staring up at him with expressionless, washed-out eyes. A glance back at Foxtrot and Fleet Fingers told him they didn't see her. Just a side-effect of my powers, he thought. Or sleep deprivation. She's not really there.

He did his best to ignore her and reached out to touch the darkened screen, diving easily into the new part of his brain, reaching out to the object under his fingers, feeling the atoms and molecules shift and rearrange themselves into another shape.



The television seemed to want to become several things at once, and it took him a few moments to coax it into a more or less recognizable shape. What his father would toss him into when he found out what he was doing. An oven.

"Nice job," said Foxtrot. "I've always felt something was missing from my living room."



Liam could feel the little girl's eyes on him, but he turned back to face the other two, proud at his accomplishment and his defiance.

"Shall we go over the plan?" asked Fleet.

*

They stood on the sidewalk beside the empty street in the faint pre-dawn light, waiting. Foxtrot and Fleet stood a little behind and to his sides, like bodyguards, but instead of safe they made him feel watched, and he knew that at the least slip-up they'd... do whatever they did. Still, he felt better than he had in ages, finally doing something crazy and exciting that somehow felt right. His awareness of the new part of his brain seemed to be alight constantly since he'd transformed the TV into an oven a couple of hours earlier. He was ready.

"Here they come," said Fleet softly.

Liam watched the black car approaching, fast, down the lane closest to them. He felt every nerve in his body alive and tense.

The car brushed past and Liam reached out his hand.



He had a moment of panic in which he thought the speeding vehicle would rip off his hand, but the surface ran and collapsed under his fingers, and the entire car was that same, featureless dust he'd made of the computer the day before.

The two people who'd been riding in it slammed onto the pavement, rolling over into a heap. He heard moans.

"Are they okay?" he asked, suddenly concerned.

"They're fine," said Foxtrot dismissively, but Fleet went over to them and helped them up, supporting the woman on his arm like a concerned citizen. The man who'd been in the car, a big muscular guy in a suit, recovered more easily and started to pull out a gun.

Foxtrot stepped forward, shoved him in the chest with both hands, and sent him flying across the street and into the park on the other side, where he crashed into a tree and fell limply to the ground.



"You didn't have to do that," said Fleet, a touch of anger in his voice.

"We weren't taking the bodyguard, and we weren't leaving him here," snapped Foxtrot. "Let's go."

"You come along with us, sweetheart," Fleet said to the woman, who still shook a little in shock and fright.

"Is he okay?" asked Liam, his eyes lingering on the man on the other side of the street.

"Yeah, honey, he'll be just fine," said Foxtrot. He couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic or not. He'd find out later, he supposed, but now he had other things to worry about.

They blindfolded him again and took him back to wherever it was they had their apartment. When Foxtrot removed it, he found himself in the living room once more. Fleet took the woman over to the couch and sat down next to her, while Foxtrot went behind the bar to prepare drinks.

The blue girl stared at him, real and solid from beside the bar, her lips parting in what looked like "Please" again, although no sound came out.



"What do we do now?" asked Liam.

"My family won't rest until they have me back," the woman said to Fleet. "If you think they'll pay a ransom, you're wrong. They'll come looking for me. You should let me go before you get into trouble."

Foxtrot handed him a glass, which he passed to the shaking woman. "Don't worry, Nelly. We're not going to hold you for ransom. And no harm will come to you, either, if you cooperate. Drink?"

She pursed her lips together and shook her head.

"I've got to go take care of some things," said Foxtrot. "You sit tight until I come back."

Liam took the seat she'd occupied before as Foxtrot nodded to Fleet and marched out the door. He saw her lock it, but it was just a simple lock, one that anyone could break through.



Nelly turned to Liam. "You're new to this, aren't you?"

"What, you've been kidnapped before?" asked Liam.

"You'll regret this. It's a decision you can't turn back. You'll feel its effects for the rest of your life. Do you want my life on your conscience?"

"Your life?" said Fleet with an easy chuckle. "Sweetheart, your life isn't in danger. We're reasonable people. Aren't we, Liam?"

"That woman isn't. She threw my bodyguard across the street. I don't know how she did that, but she's dangerous, and she won't stop for anything until she gets what she wants. I've seen that same look on dozens of other criminals I've tried. You might think you can control her, but she'll turn on you if you don't do what she wants."

"You are a talkative hostage," said Fleet, sipping at his drink. "Liam, I can't believe how good this is." He gestured at the oven. "Does it work?"

"I didn't connect it to gas pipes or anything, so probably not."

Fleet stood and went over to it, running his hand over the stove. "Flawless job. Aesthetically, at least. With a little more practice you'll be able to make things that work, too."



Nelly gazed imploringly at Liam. He wished he could make her stop. I know! he wanted to scream. Do you think I'm stupid? I'm working on it!

He wished he'd seen something of what Fleet could do. He'd asked earlier, but he'd been evasive about explaining it. Foxtrot he knew he couldn't deal with, but if Fleet had any significant power, he'd yet to demonstrate it. It was worth a try.

Liam walked as casually as he could over to one of the rectangular glass floor lamps, trying not to look at the blue girl in the armchair as he passed her. She would go away soon, or so he hoped.

He glanced back at Fleet, who was still admiring the oven. Then he pressed both hands against the glass of the lamp. His new friend leaped eagerly to the task--too eagerly, almost making him lose his concentration.

"Liam?" said Fleet. "What are you...?"

The glass exploded, the shards flying around Liam toward Fleet, and the light burned an angry, pulsing red instead of white, the very air thick with static and heat.

Fleet cried out, shielding his face. Liam had succeeded, at least in part, but he didn't know exactly what he'd done.



After a moment that hung suspended in time, he hurtled into action, running over to Nelly and dragging her to her feet, steering her toward the door, already preparing himself for what he would have to do to unlock the door. Fleet had vanished. Liam had a bad feeling, and urged Nelly faster across the few feet separating him from the door. The light turned blue and the heat fled rapidly, leaving them in what felt like zero degrees at least.



They were almost to the door when, out of nowhere, just as the light shifted from blue to a sickly yellow, Fleet appeared in front of them. Not as if he'd materialized there, but as if Liam had somehow missed him moving to intercept them.

"That wasn't part of the agreement, Liam," said Fleet.



"Let me out, or I'll blast you out of the way."

Fleet smiled and shook his head. "That's not going to work."

Liam knew Fleet was right, but he tried anyway, attempting to feel the air and somehow move the particles into a reaction that would cause some sort of explosion, or heat, or electrical current. He couldn't, though. Maybe there was a trick to it, but he knew manipulating anything that wasn't solid required a higher level of proficiency he hadn't reached yet.

The lights went out. Liam grunted in frustration. "How did you do that? Appear? Do you move really fast or something?" He might have guessed from the code name, but he'd assumed, since it was "Fleet Fingers" that it referred to his ability to steal.

"Or something," said Fleet, still smiling. "Let's sit down again, shall we?"

They waited in silence, in the dark, Nelly on the couch, Liam in his armchair, Fleet standing behind him, and the little blue girl sitting in the armchair across the table from Liam. The seconds seemed to crawl by. Or maybe they were minutes. He had no way of telling time.

Foxtrot arrived sometime later, striding across the room toward them, glancing around. "What happened to the lights?"



"Liam killed them."

She sighed. "How disappointing. There was real hope for you, you know." She put a finger to her lips as though pondering what to do with him, then grabbed him by the arm and dragged him out of the room. He didn't even try to resist. He knew it was hopeless.

They went down a corridor and through another door into a spacious bathroom decorated in a similar style.

"You stay here a while, honey. I'm sure we can convince your father to come and rescue you soon."

"What are you going to do to my father?"

She sat him down in a fancy chair beside the sink. "It'll be a surprise."



Foxtrot touched the door. "I'll let you know you won't be able to get out. Just so you don't exhaust yourself trying." She smirked. "You probably will, anyway." Then she left, closing the door behind her.

He waited until he heard her footsteps receding down the corridor to touch his finger to the lock and try to open it. True to her word, it didn't work. He came up against a barrier where it concerned the door and the wall; he wasn't sure if it was in his head or in the actual material, but somehow she'd made it impossible to get out using his power.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. The fact that she'd let him keep it didn't give him much hope, but the screen was lit, so he pressed a button to start dialing his father's number.

Immediately, the thing sparked, sending a jolt through his arm, and putting out the light.

"Great," he said.

What now? He couldn't just wait for his father to come rescue him and get killed by Foxtrot and Fleet. No, he didn't think Fleet would kill anybody, but he was pretty sure he wouldn't try to stop Foxtrot, either. No one could go up against her anyway, he was pretty sure. Whatever power she packed, it was massive.

He sat again, going over options in his head. Yell and hope someone would come. No good. Keep trying to unlock the door or bring down the wall with his power. He'd only exhaust himself. He'd try to pick the lock, but he didn't know how and Foxtrot probably would have accounted for that anyway.

He'd gotten himself into a mess for sure, but he didn't think he'd made out that badly, really. If he'd refused their offer of teaming up he would still have ended up here. At least he'd tried to help Nelly. He'd taken his crazy, heroic leap. He'd fallen a bit short of the other side, that was all.

He kicked the chair in frustration. He didn't even believe his own reassurances. Whatever good he'd tried to do, it had remained in the trying stage, and he'd gotten nothing for his troubles.

And all he got for kicking the chair was breaking the leg and falling on his face on the cold tiles. He picked himself up, his anger mounting by the moment, and kicked the chair again for good measure.

Then he stopped. Foxtrot had made the door and wall impossible to shift with his powers, but had she made everything else the same? He'd certainly had no trouble breaking the chair.

Excited, he bent down with his hands on the wood and concentrated. The barrier was still there, since the wall was so close, but he could get around it if he focused. He tried to remember what his father had said. All that came to him was: "You made a car. Very nice."

The chair shifted and expanded under his touch, and changing shape and color and texture, growing and growing, smashing through the wall and the door, until it stood there in all its glory. A truck.

Pink! Why did it have to be pink? He knew he couldn't have wanted it to be pink.

But he'd made a truck, he'd smashed through the wall, and he was free, so he decided the color should be the least of his concerns.



Especially since Foxtrot and Fleet Fingers would have heard the crash, and would be coming. He pushed past the truck and into the hallway. He spotted the stairs and headed toward them; he'd made it about halfway down when he started to feel nauseous and dizzy, and missed the step immediately below him, which sent him crashing head-first onto the landing.



It hurt and he almost cracked his skull, but it was faster.

He stumbled down the next flight of stairs, and from there out the door into the open. He didn't know where he was going, and his head spun and he was so disoriented that he couldn't even recognize the part of town he'd come out into. He staggered around aimlessly, trying to put as much distance as possible between him and Foxtrot's apartment, and somehow found himself in a park he knew.



Dizzy and sick, he steadied himself on one of the picnic tables and tried to keep his head from falling off. This seemed as good a place as any to stop, since he wouldn't be finding his way home in this state. He vaguely registered that the sun had come up. He must have lost all notion of time.



He let himself collapse on one of the benches, and after a few moments realized he wasn't alone. He looked sideways and down a little at the blue girl sitting beside him.

"Who are you?" he asked. He wasn't going to be doing anything more productive for a while; he might as well talk to his hallucination.

"I need your help."



"You're not even real." He closed his eyes and leaned back. "I'm just imagining you."

"Is it me that's not real?" Something in her tone of voice made him look at her, and he saw she was smiling an eerie, unsettling smile. "Or is it you?"



Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed. Sorry if there are any mistakes, but I didn't have time to do a thorough check. Thanks so much for the feedback! ;D You make me so happy.

Offline alex51299

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2012, 10:07:34 PM »
Another fabulous update! I can't wait to see what happens next. ;D
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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2012, 05:18:58 AM »
I'm dying to know who the little blue girl is! And that last picture! Oh my don't keep us too long in suspense. ;)

Offline Trentorio

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2012, 08:25:43 AM »
I don't even know where to begin, the excellent story aside...I love the lots you use and how each sim looks different. Their different personalities in the story just add to it with the pictures involved (hope that makes sense).

I have some ideas on what is what but I will keep them to myself and patiently wait for more.

Offline Sugarnibble

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2012, 08:34:11 AM »
Wow! That last thing the little girl said to him was so suspenseful, please don't leave us on a cliffhanger.
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Offline Spork-tastic

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #23 on: April 17, 2012, 03:47:42 PM »
Wow that was good! I NEED to know who the little girl is!!!

Offline warr2098

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Re: Three Million Empty Words
« Reply #24 on: April 17, 2012, 04:19:56 PM »
Hmm Is it some kind of dream or alternate reality? I must know!  ;)

 

anything