Author Topic: Three Million Empty Words - 02x06: Little Brother  (Read 12914 times)

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 7: The Cat-Lady's Hoard
« Reply #50 on: June 03, 2012, 07:29:24 PM »
Episode 8: Marked Bills

Liam arrived at the casino Danielle Miranda had told him about that evening around four. They hadn't opened yet, but the door wasn't locked, so he went in. There was only one person there: a young man dressed in a purple suit and--for some reason--red sneakers. The suit matched the color of the tiles on the floor an walls, so Liam assumed it was the uniform.



"I'm looking for Danielle Miranda's nephew," he said, approaching the bar where the man was cleaning out the drink mixer.

"That's me," said the man, glancing up. "Who are you?"

"My name is Liam Galagher. Your aunt sent me. I'm here about those marked bills of hers."

"Oh, that," said the man, rolling his eyes. "You don't believe you can find whoever stole her money this way, can you? It's insane, I tried to tell her. Chances are whoever used the money here wasn't even the person who stole it. Money moves quickly, especially at a bar like this. What are you, anyway? Police?"

"I thought this was a casino," said Liam, ignoring the question.

"It's a bar first, casino second. People don't just come here to gamble. They come to dance, drink, eat, and everything."



"Ah. So who who was playing with the marked bills?"

"Like I told my aunt, I don't know." He went out from behind the bar toward one of the tables to clear up some glasses.

Liam followed. "What's your name, kid?"

The man eyed him. "You aren't much older than me."

"I feel old. In my time, a nephew would want to help his dear old auntie."

The man shook his head and placed a glass on his tray. "Daniel Miranda."



"Excuse me?"

"You asked my name, didn't you?"

"Your name is Daniel Miranda?"

"Yeah, my dad named me after his favorite sister. Anything else?"

"Yes, what I aksed before. Who was playing with the marked bills?"

"Look, kid," said Daniel emphatically, "I don't know. I've got a lot of work to do. We open in a few minutes, and I have to get everything ready..."

"Good. I'm in a hurry, too." His spat with Winter earlier had left him short of patience. "Who came in with those marked bills?"

Daniel went behind the bar again and started wiping down glasses. "Okay, I'll only tell you what I know."

"Never asked you to lie."

Daniel gave him a suspicious look before continuing. "It was a redheaded girl, about twenty or so. She was a bit heavy, with a hooked nose. That's all I know. I don't know her name or where you could find her or even if she was the one who started out with those bills. All right?"

"Anyone who'd know who she was?"

"One of the regulars. There's a blond man who comes in here a lot, usually early. He should be here as soon as we open the restaurant at four thirty."

Liam sat at one of the bar stools. Daniel sighed and left to finish getting everything ready. Liam hummed, tapped the top of the bar, and waited.

The man Daniel had spoken about came in a while after the bar had opened. He had a burly build and a rather haggard expression, and went to sit at the bar next to him, with a nod by way of greeting. Liam waited until he'd ordered a drink to speak to him.

"Excuse me. I hear you're a regular, and I'm trying to find the name of this girl. Red hair, early twenties...?"

"Oh, the one with the marked bills," said the man, chuckling and giving Daniel a conspiratorial look that the barkeep didn't return. "Yeah, her name's Vicky Fox. She works at a restaurant a few blocks from here called The Horse's Shoe. Did his aunt send you?"

"I'm trying to help, that's all."

"Okay, look. I'm a cop, all right? I know a bit about this kind of thing. There's no way you're going to find..."

Liam heard a familiar voice behind him and half-turned. What was Winter doing here? And who was that man she was arguing with?



It was obvious that that's what they were doing. Their voices even carried over the music. Liam had never seen the man before; he had blond hair and dark glasses, which was strange since it was dark outside and they were inside anyway.

"Thanks," he said to the man at the bar, and got down from his stool. Winter seemed furious, gesturing wildly and shouting. The man grabbed her arm and she yanked it out of his grasp, drawing back. Liam took a step forward, unsure of what he should do.



"I told you to go away, Adam!" he heard Winter say. "I'm tired of you..." He didn't catch the next bit, as the music rose in volume and covered their conversation.

The man seemed less angry than she did, but no less persistent than she was determined to deny whatever it was he wanted, although Liam couldn't exactly tell much with those sunglasses. They exchanged a few more words and then the man turned and walked off, out of the bar, leaving Winter trembling with... fury? Fear?

He approached her.



"Hey, Winter."

She started as if he'd shouted right in her ear. "What are you doing here?"

"Uh, is it this place or did you dye your hair?" he asked, realizing for the first time that her hair had gone from bright orange to bright pink in the hours since he'd last seen her.

"I was tired of the color I had before. Um, I didn't know you came here."

"I don't, usually, but I'm just here doing a favor for a friend. Who was that you were talking to?" He tried to appear mildly curious instead of worried. "You seemed kind of angry."

"No one. A... a guy from school. Liam, I have to..."

He took her arms gently but firmly and met her eyes despite her attempts not to let him. "I hope you're not still angry about earlier. You know you can come to me if you have any problems, right?"



"I know." She gave an unconvincing smile. "I know that, Liam, it's just that I'm busy right now and I have to go. I'll talk to you later. I'm sorry we fought, too. Are we okay?"

"Of course we are."

She turned her back on him and went for the door a little too quickly. He watched her go, wondering if this all had anything to do with everything else. Was this the man who'd had her followed? Why was she hiding it from him? Was he supposed not to care, to let her deal with it on her own? He didn't know what to do.



At least he had a lead that could possibly take him to Foxtrot and Fleet now. Tracking marked bills a week after they'd been stolen, when they could have changed hands dozens if not hundreds of times, seemed a little ridiculous--but he couldn't just give up. It was the only lead they had, unless his father was hiding something from him.

He asked directions to The Horse's Shoe. The person he asked, a middle-aged man in a flannel shirt, said he couldn't recommend the cooking there high enough. Thinking about food made Liam's stomach grumble. Maybe he'd get something to eat while he was there.

But when he reached the restaurant with the large wooden sign over the door--The Horse's Shoe in bold lettering, alongside a giant horseshoe--it was visibly closed. It didn't seem too early for dinner, and he hoped they hadn't gone on vacation.

He looked in the window, saw movement, and tried the door. "Hello?"

The place was tiny, but it had a homey look to it, and several horse-themed decorations that gave it a unique touch. Two women were cleaning the tables, one of them in her late eighties at least, the other a redheaded twentysomething that must be the one he was looking for. He supposed in a place this size there couldn't be many employees; maybe he was even looking at all of them.

The redhead turned and saw him. "We're not open."



"I just wanted to talk to you. Vicky Fox, right?"

"She's busy right now," called out the old lady, who was dusting the wall decorations.

"It'll just be a moment. It's about a police investigation."

Vicky went over to him, wiping her sweaty forehead. "You're with the police?"

"I work with them. Could you answer a few questions?"

"Sure, I guess."

"Three days ago you went to the Barcelona Bar and Casino to gamble, right?"

Vicky looked over her shoulder at the old lady. "Could you... keep it down? She doesn't know I gamble."

"Oh, sorry. Don't worry, though. You're not in trouble or anything. I just wanted to know where you got the money."

"From... from my salary here. Why?" she asked nervously.



"Some of the bills had little illustrations of flowers in the corner. Do you remember?"

"You're tracking bills?" She seemed amused.

"Could you just answer the question, please?"

"Yeah, I remember. They were very cute. But..."

"Do you remember who paid with those bills?"

She laughed. "How could I possibly know who..."

"You're a waitress, right? You get paid in tips. Don't you remember who left those as a tip? Please, this is very important."

"No, sorry. I didn't notice the flowers until later."

Liam sighed, disappointed. Then he thought of the man he'd asked for directions on the street. This seemed like the kind of restaurant to attract regulars, not people just passing through. Something this size wouldn't have much advertising. Only locals would come here to eat. "Most of the people who come here come often?"

"Yes. My granny's a local legend with her old-style southern cooking," said Vicky proudly.

"Okay. Do you think you could do something to assist a police investigation?"

"I don't..."

"Pay attention to the tips you get. If anyone pays using those bills again..."

"But that doesn't make any sense," she said, laughing again. "How could you possibly think... you can't hope to get anything out of this; I'm sure tons of people draw flowers on their bills... and even if they didn't, where would it take you?"

"Maybe I'll get a lucky break. Right now it's all I have. Could I please have you call me? Give me a piece of paper and I'll write down my number. If you see that person again, just call and tell me. Give me a description, a name, anything..."

"Could I see a badge?"

"You think I'm making this up? All right, Vicky. I bet you're not proud of going to gamble away the money you earn here, right?" Vicky shifted uncomfortably but didn't answer. "You're ashamed of it. You don't want your sweet little granny to know. What if you helped catch a criminal? That's a good thing, something that would help a lot of people. Don't you think your grandmother would be proud of that?"



Vicky hesitated a moment. "I don't think you'll catch him. You're chasing money. That's crazy."

"Please, Vicky."

She sighed and reached into her pocket, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. "I guess I'll call you if I see those bills again. I hope you catch your man, although I don't think you will."

"Thank you," said Liam, smiling as he jotted down his number. "That's all I needed."


Thank you for reading! Sorry this was a bit delayed; I meant to post it on Saturday, but I had trouble with my game. I hope you enjoyed!

I'd like to be able to update every day. ;D But unfortunately it would be hard to do that. I hope you're okay with twice a week, which I'll shoot for from now on. Stay tuned for a new episode next Wednesday...

Offline Ilessthan3TheSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 8: Marked Bills
« Reply #51 on: June 04, 2012, 09:33:16 AM »
I can't wait! This story has so many twists and turns Apples, you outdo yourself every episode :D



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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 8: Marked Bills
« Reply #52 on: June 04, 2012, 09:47:06 AM »
Awesome update! I can't wait to see what happen next. Twice a week is great. ;D

Offline Sophie98

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 8: Marked Bills
« Reply #53 on: June 05, 2012, 03:45:47 AM »
I honestly think this story could top Kitee Bones and All The Good Girls Go to Heaven. You are an excellent writer, Apples, you should get published.
"The world is not a wish granting factory."
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Offline Spork-tastic

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 8: Marked Bills
« Reply #54 on: June 05, 2012, 04:40:23 PM »
I agree with Sophie. You should really write a book. Or publish your stories. You could have a whole book of you stories. I would buy it!

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 8: Marked Bills
« Reply #55 on: June 05, 2012, 07:01:11 PM »
I can't wait! This story has so many twists and turns Apples, you outdo yourself every episode :D
Thanks! I have lots of fun putting together the mysteries and revelations...
Awesome update! I can't wait to see what happen next. Twice a week is great. ;D
Thank you! ;D
I honestly think this story could top Kitee Bones and All The Good Girls Go to Heaven. You are an excellent writer, Apples, you should get published.
I agree with Sophie. You should really write a book. Or publish your stories. You could have a whole book of you stories. I would buy it!
Thanks! I'm writing a novel now, and I hope to be able to publish it soon. It's so wonderful getting your vote of confidence in my ability to do that! ;D

Offline Sophie98

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 8: Marked Bills
« Reply #56 on: June 06, 2012, 05:16:11 AM »
If your novel does get published, please tell us all so we can buy it! It would be great to say I was reading your stories back when you were posting them on a Sims forum.  :D
"The world is not a wish granting factory."
-John Green, The Fault In Our Stars

I have a blog! Please feel free to check it out! http://theatricalteenageramblings.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1



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Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 9: Fear of Flying
« Reply #57 on: June 06, 2012, 02:50:22 PM »
Episode 9: Fear of Flying

There weren't many policemen at the station that night. Liam looked around at the empty desks and the few people still working there and decided to try a businesslike woman with her hair pulled back in a short ponytail.



"Hello. I need to make a complaint," he said.

"There's the tissues," said the policewoman, indicating a box on one end of her desk.

"I'm not going to cry."

"Okay."

He waited for her to ask him to sit down, but she didn't, so he took a seat and cleared his throat. She finished scribbling in a notebook and looked up at him.

"What's your name?"

"Liam Galagher."



Her eyebrows went up. "Any relation to Paul Galagher?"

Great, thought Liam. Just what I needed. "I'm his son."

"Do you have superpowers, too?" she asked in what he considered a somewhat derisive tone.

He looked around to see if anyone had overheard. "Um..."

"Relax. He already told me about you." She gave a hard smile that didn't soften her face in the least. "What is it you wanted to file a complaint about?"

Liam shifted uncomfortably in his seat, wishing he'd picked someone else. "I have a friend. Her name's Winter Mercier, and she's being followed by a man, but she won't talk to me about it, and I hoped you could..."

"Winter Mercier," said the policewoman, opening a drawer and taking out a file that she idly flipped through without really looking at it--all for show, probably--"already filed a complaint. What's the name of this man who's following her?"

"Adam. I don't know his last name."

"She complained here about one Adam Reede. We've already looked into it, Mr. Galagher, and unfortunately there's nothing we can do."

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing can be traced back to him. Beyond that, I can't tell you, but there's no way to know for sure that this Adam Reede is doing anything."

"I know for sure."

"We already staked out her house a few months ago, and nothing came of it. Unfortunately there are a lot more criminals than policemen, and the ratio is only becoming more marked. We can't chase every complaint unless there's substantial proof. Do you have substantial proof?"

"No."

"All right, then, Mr. Galagher, I'm sorry to say there's nothing we can do. In case of an emergency, Ms Mercier knows to call us."



Liam sighed. "Okay. Thank you for your time." He got up and started to leave.

"Tell your father I have a possible lead on his case," said the policewoman, already writing in her notebook again.

"Who should I tell him said that?"

"Rowan Hudyk."

"Nice to meet you, Rowan."

She looked up, a real grin on her lips for the first time. "No, it's not. You're annoyed with me."

Liam felt the corner of his mouth fold up a little in spite of himself. "I know you have to do your job."

And I have to do mine, he thought as he walked out of the station.

Liam spent the next few days--or at least the time his father allowed him in between training--tracking down Adam Reede. He looked him up in the phone book and found out his address. He asked around and discovered he was an important architect, a rising star, at least locally, and requested often for his superb designs.

That was dangerous, he decided. Famous people were more likely to feel self-entitled, and less likely to accept they were doing something wrong.

One day he woke up, ready to go work out at the gym, but found his father watching TV in his street-clothes, not ready to go hop on an exercise bike.

"What're we doing today?" he asked, going to the fridge to make an omelet for breakfast. His father had told him he'd gotten sick of cooking for him like he were a child, and had given him several recipes to start out on. So far he'd burnt almost everything he'd tried to make, and on one occasion added sugar instead of salt, but his father wouldn't let him go back to his system of eating anything in the fridge--he was still obsessed with the balanced "superhero" diet.

"Eat your breakfast and I'll tell you."

He finished his rather browned but not inedible omelet, washed up, and sat beside his father on the couch that he hadn't been able to get Evianna to stop scratching. She'd quite ruined the upholstery by now, and he didn't have money to replace it.



"You're always complaining that I leave you behind when I go hunting criminals. I have something lined up today that shouldn't be dangerous, so you're coming along."

"To do what?"

"To interview a security guard who was at the scene of that bank robbery a month or so ago."

"Hasn't the police already interviewed him?"

"Yep. Rowan reviewed the interview tapes last night and called to tell me she thinks he's lying."

"I didn't know you and Rowan were such tight pals."

"We've been working together ever since she joined the force a few years ago. She's a good cop, and I trust her instincts. She doesn't want to turn me over to a science lab to be studied, either, and she's one of the few who treats my abilities as a normal thing."

Evianna leaped into Liam's lap and curled up, purring. He scratched her back absently. "So you don't think anything will come of my lead?"



"Your lead stinks," said his father, wrinkling his nose as if it actually gave off a real smell. "Bills marked by a paranoid old cat lady that may turn up in a diner again, and may have turned up in a casino, and in the event that they do turn up in the diner you'll do... what?"

"Just because she likes cats doesn't mean she's crazy. She doesn't have twenty cats or something like that. She's a normal person who got her money stolen."

"No, I don't think anything will come of your lead. Are you coming to question this guy or not?"

The security guard lived in a little apartment not too far from the bank. The guard opened the door for them and went to sit at the couch again as if he hardly noticed they were there. The place barely had room for Liam and his father to stand in side-by-side, cramped between one of the walls and the refrigerator.



"We work with the police," said Paul. "I need to ask you some questions about the robbery you were present at."

"I didn't have anything to do with it," mumbled the man without taking his eyes off his television screen.

"Never said you did. Samuel Jones. You've worked for the bank for six years?"

Jones grunted in reply.

"And before that you were a cop?"

Suddenly Liam realized that his vague sense of recognition did mean something. He'd seen this man before, last week in the bar where Daniel Miranda worked. "You're a regular at the Barcelona Bar and Casino, aren't you?"

"Excuse me, I ask the questions," said Paul, giving him a warning glare.

Samuel squinted at Liam. "You were the one chasing the marked bills, weren't you? Daniel's aunt's friend? Any luck with that?"

"Don't change the subject," said Paul.

"You told me you were a cop," said Liam.

Samuel bit his lip. "Well, I used to be. That impresses the chicks more, you know? You won't tell the police that, will you?"

"Not if you cooperate," said Paul. "And so long as you don't take your impersonation of a policeman seriously. I thought, Mr. Jones, that you might have some resentment toward the department that fired you, and maybe you forgot to tell them something that could be important?"

"I didn't forget anything." Samuel stood up and pushed past them to the fridge. Because there was barely room for the door to open with them there, Liam went to the other side of the room to look at a collection of decorative plates with pictures of dogs hanging on the wall. His father sat on the couch.



Samuel came back with a ham sandwich and sat next to Paul. Liam's father muted the TV.

"I was there that night, doing my rounds like always, using the same route I always use. I didn't see anything."

"Not even a couple of men with a bag with a dollar sign on it slung over their shoulder?"

"I'm not an idiot. I didn't see anyone. I'm not saying I didn't see anyone suspicious, I'm saying I didn't see anyone at all. The bank wasn't open yet, and it's a small one so I was the only guard there."

"So you were the only one there... the whole night?"

Samuel glowered at Liam's father. "There's another security guard who watches the cameras. I didn't see him, though, because I don't patrol the surveillance room. They're not in the habit of storing any valuables there."

"When did you become a regular at this Barcelona casino?"

"I don't know. A few months ago, maybe," said Samuel, obviously put off by the abrupt change in subject.



"Around the time of the robbery?"

"What are you saying? I'm gambling away the money I got from the robbery?"

"I didn't say that. Did you hear me say that, Liam?"

"No," said Liam, wondering if this was the only contribution his father had planned for him to make.

"Are you saying that?" his father asked pleasantly.

"The robbery was stressful. I was in danger of losing my job. I just went there because it was comforting to talk to people and get a few drinks."

"You're sure that was all? You didn't start going because you were... scared, maybe?"

"Of what?"

"Something you may have seen... something impossible?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." Samuel crammed the rest of his sandwich into his mouth and took up the remote. When he pressed a button the screen turned black-and-white.

"Let me fix that," said Paul. "Just a little slap to the back there, that should do that." He went around behind the TV, but instead of hitting it his arm flailed in an obviously premeditated way, shoving Liam against the decorative plates. He reached out his hands to catch himself and felt the hard ceramic surface start to turn to gel beneath his fingers.

"No, no..."

A second later, all three decorative plates and the wall-mounted stand that had held them up had become dust that fell away between his fingers.



"Oh-oh, sorry about that, son," said Paul, much too late.

"What happened?" asked Samuel. His face had become taut and strained. "How did he do that?"

Liam stared dumbly at the hole in the wall where the screw that had supported the stand had fit. Even with all this practice, it was so random. Why hadn't he vaporized the entire wall? Why not the entire building? How could he still be so out of control and not know it?

"He apologizes. Can we buy you some new doggie plates? Where did you get them? Just write down the name of the store, and we'll go..."

"Get out." The security guard stood up, trembling with fear disguised as fury. "Get out before I call the real cops on you!"



"I never said we were cops. We work with them. And I don't think you'd be too happy to see your old friends again. But we'll go if we make you uncomfortable. Thank you for your time. Come on, Liam."

His father had to nearly drag him out of there. When they were on the landing outside the apartment, Liam rounded on him.

"Why did you do that?"

"It was an experiment."

"Why would you do an experiment in front of him? We're not trying to be discreet anymore? Should I just go to the top of my apartment complex with a megaphone and tell everyone in the neighborhood I have supernatural abilities, or would you prefer I go door-to-door?"

"They won't believe you either way. And the show was for Samuel Jones, not for you. You're not in control enough you won't react instinctively when surprised; I hadn't expected anything different at this stage. Did you see his face? That wasn't the first time he'd seen someone doing something impossible."

Liam dropped the anger, realization coming over him. "You think he saw Foxtrot and Fleet Fingers doing something and didn't tell anyone because he was afraid no one would believe him?"

"There are any number of reasons why he wouldn't tell anyone. But yes, I think he saw them. With a little work, we'll get him to tell us what he saw. Now, you see, this is a substantial lead. Not as spiffy as chasing hundreds of marked bills all over the city, but still..."

Liam grumbled and walked away. His father was starting to convince him. Maybe he'd never get anything. Maybe he was just chasing a blind hope, like everyone had told him.

Well, at least they had this new lead. Maybe they'd find them out somehow.


***

"Do you even know what you're doing?" asked Winter.

"My father told me my food tastes almost as good as wet paper towels. How can you turn up your nose at something like that?"

Winter laughed. "I can't wait. Isn't it understandable that I'm a little suspicious about someone who admitted he couldn't cook two weeks ago?"

"It's been a crash course. I had to cook something edible or die of starvation, because my father won't make me any food and won't let me buy any, either. Now don't distract me or I might mess up the measurements."



"Your father's been at your apartment for a long time," said Winter a little while later. "Doesn't he have a home?"

"That's my father you're talking about."

"Sorry."

He chuckled. "It's okay. I'm kind of sick of having him there myself. The apartment's not big enough for two. Not to mention Evianna, who thinks she's the queen of the world and takes up as much space as the two of us put together. Apparently it's something to do with marital trouble, but he won't talk to me about it." He hated to lie to her--although he wasn't sure if his father wasn't having marital trouble. But he knew he'd tell her soon.

This morning when he'd told his father he was going to cook breakfast for Winter he'd sighed. "I guess we'll have to have the talk, then."

"The one I already had when I was twelve?"

"No, the one where I tell you how complicated it is to have a relationship when you're like us."

"You got married."

"Yes, but it was complicated. Still is. You can't plan on when to tell her you're different, for example. Watch a few movies. It always comes out at inopportune moments. And then you won't be able to explain, because just then you're fighting Foxtrot or Fleet Fingers, and you've also put her in danger to boot--it's messy business."

"I won't know until I've tried," Liam had said with finality. But his father always had to have the last word.

"You'll regret your cavalier attitude down the line, boy."

"My parents split up when I started college," said Winter now. "It's tough. Do you have any siblings still at home?"

How do I answer that? Liam wondered. Fortunately, just then the oven timer went off, and he pretended he hadn't heard as he pulled out the waffle iron.

"Breakfast is served!" he announced, dropping a few waffles on each plate and adding a slab of butter and some syrup to both.

"Smells delicious," said Winter.

They sat down at her little table, which stood next to one of the big windows that overlooked the beautiful park beside her building. Liam took the first bite apprehensively. To his surprise, it actually tasted good. Maybe he was less careful when cooking for himself.



"You missed your calling as a chef," said Winter.

"Don't exaggerate," he said, grinning.

"This is wonderful. It tastes just like the ones my grandmother used to make. Congratulations, Liam. You've surprised me."

They enjoyed the waffles in silence for a moment. Then Liam said tentatively, "I told the police about Adam."

Winter took a sip of milk, her expression careful and composed. She didn't say anything.

He wondered what to say. He could repeat himself, but what was the point? The police already knew. She'd already done what she needed to do. What she needed now was to feel safe.

"You know I'll always come if you need me. For anything."

Surprisingly, she smiled and met his eyes. "Thank you, Liam. That means a lot to me."

"I'm stronger than I look," he added, seeing that his promise of protection hadn't made as much of an effect as the offer itself.

Winter laughed. "Let me see." She squeezed his arm. "Hmm, you could use a bit of weightlifting."

"I do!" said Liam defensively. "I work out every day. My father's a health nut; he makes me."

"If you say so," said Winter, still smiling.



But something seemed to have changed in her. She wasn't forcing the smile in the least. Maybe he had succeeded in making her feel at least a little more safe, even if she just thought she could talk to him about things, and didn't have much confidence in his ability to protect her.

Maybe she'd call him if something happened. That made him feel more secure, too. He knew he could handle that Adam guy.

"I'm about ready for seconds," said Winter.



Liam went home after breakfast, as Winter had another gallery showing to get ready for. He felt lighter and less tense than he had in a while. His father had said he'd go out on some business, so he'd had some time to himself before the rest of the weekend practice and training. Maybe he'd even work on his dissertation.

He opened the door to his apartment and walked in. A few steps across the carpet he stopped dead.

"Liam," said the little blue girl. "You forgot me. How could you forget?"



If your novel does get published, please tell us all so we can buy it! It would be great to say I was reading your stories back when you were posting them on a Sims forum.  :D

I will. :) Actually it was partly this forum that inspired me to try to publish something!


Thanks for reading! I hope we meet again this Sunday for episode 10! ;D

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 9: Fear of Flying
« Reply #58 on: June 08, 2012, 05:56:59 PM »
...wait, wait, is Evianna actually Liam's dad's superhero friend? 

Great story, I'm hooked!

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 10: Go-Go Dillon's Party
« Reply #59 on: June 10, 2012, 11:14:16 AM »
Episode 10: Go-Go Dillon's Party

"You're not here," said Liam.

"Of course I'm here." The blue girl got down from her chair and marched up to him. Eviana's large turquoise eyes followed her progress. Liam swallowed--no one but him had ever seen her before. "I'll always be here." The blue girl stared up at him.



"You forgot me," she repeated. "Why did you forget me?"

"I didn't forget you. I just assumed, like any sane person would, that you were an effect of my fever-induced hallucinations, or a symptom of the withdrawal from the drug that was blocking me..."

"I'll always be here. Even if I'm not here in body, I'm always here in spirit. You forgot me, Liam, but you won't again."

Liam shifted in place. "What do you mean, I forgot you?"

"You protect Winter. Why didn't you protect me? Why defend her and leave me to die?"

Something stirred in the back of Liam's memory, but he ignored it. "You're obviously not dead, since you're here."

"I begged you to help me, but you wouldn't listen."

"Because you're a blue girl who appears and disappears and is invisible to everyone but me!" he snapped. "You're not real. I'm just going crazy. I'm..."

"You'd believe that you have superpowers but not that I'm real?"

"Other people have seen my powers working, not just me."

"Maybe the whole world is your imagination. Maybe you're just floating in nothingness, conjuring up this existence with your thoughts. Maybe this is the Matrix."

Liam laughed in spite of himself, but cut himself off quickly and pointed at the door. "Get out. Leave. If you're real, go to Social Services or something and get them to find you a nice family to take care of you."



"There's only one thing I need, and you can give me that."

"Will you go away if I do?"

"Maybe. It really depends on you whether or not I can leave."

He groaned. "I've been telling you to leave. You have my permission."

"It doesn't work that way."

"Fine, what do you want?"

"Break up with Winter."

Liam stared at her for a moment before pushing past her and going to the bathroom. In the cabinet beside the sink he had a thermometer. He put it under his tongue and sat on the toilet cover, waiting. The blue girl didn't follow him in, thankfully.

A moment later the thermometer beeped. He checked the little screen. 98.4. A perfectly normal temperature. A little colder than normal. He probably needed to get some warmer socks, now, with the cold season in full swing.

Back outside, the blue girl sat in one of the armchairs. She looked up when he left the bathroom, but didn't say anything.

Liam left his apartment. He'd slip in an extra workout at the gym, or a run in the park... anything to distract him from her.


***

His father knocked on the bathroom door. "Are you coming out?"

"Yes, in a moment." Liam stared at the sink for a few seconds before taking up his toothbrush and brushing his teeth a third time. His teeth would look nice and white now, but if he kept it up like this he'd scrub all the enamel off of them.

Over the past few days he'd found that the only place he could be free of the little blue girl was the bathroom. She wouldn't follow him in there, who knew why--she made little enough sense otherwise.

"It's time for our morning workout," said his father.

"I know, I'm coming," said Liam, his voice muffled by toothpaste and toothbrush.

"What, is the girl you have a crush on going to be at the gym? I'm sure I heard you brushing your teeth just a few minutes ago."

Liam spit and rinsed out his mouth, then slammed the door open. "There. I'm finished."

"About time." His father looked more concerned than he'd sounded, but he didn't say anything. He'd remarked on his strangeness the first day, but now it had gone on for over a week he'd started to think it was something serious.

Liam himself was starting to think it was something serious. Maybe he should have told his father. Maybe he should tell him now. But he couldn't. His father was finally starting to trust him with important things, and to reveal that he saw a little blue girl following him around...

"You're not even dressed," said his father. "Get ready. I'll be at the gym."

Once his father was gone, Liam turned to the little blue girl sitting on his bed. A rather messy bed. "If you're going to hang around," he said, "At least help me out."



"With what?" she asked sullenly.

"Make the bed or something." The phone rang and Liam went to pick up. "Hello?"

"Hello, I'd like to speak to Liam Galagher."

"That's me."

"Oh. This is Vicky Fox. Remember me, from The Horse's Shoe?"

"Of course I do," said Liam, conscious of the stoop in his posture and straightening his back, excited that something was going well for the first time this week.

"Well, somebody paid with some marked bills last night. It was kind of late, so I didn't want to call you then."

"Do you have a name?" Out of the corner of his eye, Liam could see the little blue girl making the bed. It surprised him a little that she could move the sheets, but he supposed if she could sit and stand on the floor she couldn't be immaterial.



"I snapped a picture of him with my phone camera. Do you have a cell phone I could send it to?"

"Yes." He gave her the number. "Don't you know his name?"

"Just a first name. George. Like I said, he paid in cash."

"Ouch. That's not going to narrow it down much. But thank you," he added quickly. "The picture will help us find it. You helped a lot, Vicky."

"That's me. Always ready to help." She hung up.

His phone beeped and he opened her message. The man looked somewhat familiar, but probably just because he had a common face, and on the little screen anyone could look like someone he knew. He called his father, told him to excuse him for a little while, and went off to the police station. The blue girl didn't follow him, but he knew she'd pop up somewhere, and probably in the least opportune moment possible.

To his relief, Rowan was there when he arrived. He approached her desk.

"Can I ask you a favor?"



She looked up. "You can ask."

"I'm trying to find a man and all I have is a picture and a first name. He may have been involved in a burglary or could lead me to it."

"Could you keep your voice down? Sit."

He did, and waited for her to continue.



"You know what you and your father do is illegal? There's this term for it. What was it? Oh, right. Vigilantism. I understand the special circumstances, but then I've always been a fan of superhero comics. Other cops will clap you in irons if they overhear you talking about dealing out justice on your own, okay?"

"Okay, okay, sorry. I'm new to this. So could you find him?"

"With a first name and a picture? Probably, given enough time. But I have no reason to."

"I thought... because you're friends with my father..." he said blankly, put off by her refusal.

"You're not your father."

"I guess not. I'm sorry to have bothered you." He started to get up.

"You can't give up that easily." She smirked. "You'll never make it as a hero that way. I said I have no reason to. The favors your father's done for me don't transfer onto you. But you being your father's son makes me willing to give you a chance to give me a reason to help you."

"So you want a favor?"

"According to an informant, there's going to be an illegal exchange of money tonight at a party. The police are stretched thin, and my partner's out of commission. All I need is backup. You'll follow my orders, only get involved if I tell you to. I won't babysit you or get you out of trouble you get into yourself. Are we clear?"



"How do you know I won't ruin it?"

"Like I said, being your father's son does give you some benefits. I know he's been training you. He's told me you're reckless, so I'm prepared for that. Do you think you can follow my orders at all times and not get into trouble?"

"Yes," he said firmly.

"Good. The party's for Go-Go Dillon's birthday. It'll be at her house, at this address." She wrote it down and passed it to him.

"Who's Go-Go Dillon?"

"You haven't heard of Go-Go?" said Rowan incredulously. "Go-Go the pop star? Our local celebrity? Obviously not. Well, be there at eight o' clock sharp. I'll arrange for you to get in without any trouble. All you have to do is show up, do as I say, and do it well. We clear?"

That night when he left the bathroom wearing his suit, his father intercepted him with an incredulous look on his face. "What are you wearing?"

"A suit."

"What for?"

"I'm helping your friend Rowan out on something. There's some illegal trade at a party and we have to go incognito."

"You're helping out Rowan?"

"Yes, as a favor."

His father seemed to consider this for a moment. He wondered if he would try to keep him from going. "Well, I guess you can't make it too much worse."

"Thanks a lot, dad." He caught sight of the blue girl over his father's shoulder, sitting in his desk chair, and tried to ignore her.

"Great job on the suit, son. A-OK."



Liam got out of the taxi at the address Rowan had given him. He hadn't seen the blue girl on the drive there, but she got out with him as if she'd ridden with him the whole way. He decided the best thing would be to ignore her, the way he'd done on his date with Winter. Her constant belligerence had made it hard to concentrate on what Winter was saying, but he'd done pretty well considering the circumstances.

The bouncer at the door nodded at him, glancing at a photograph in his hand, but his eyes fell on the blue girl for a moment. "What about...?" He blinked and looked back at Liam. "Go on in."

Liam entered the party, unnerved. Several times in the past week he'd been certain Evianna could see the blue girl. Now this man seemed to have caught a glimpse of her. What was going on?

They went up in an elevator to the indicated floor and stepped out. The colored lights and loud music assaulted and confused him for a moment. He looked around but he couldn't see Rowan.



"At least if someone sees you they'll just think it's the colored light," he muttered. He couldn't even hear it himself over the music, but the blue girl grinned as if she had.

Blend in, Rowan had said. Liam didn't usually go to this sort of party. Everyone around him seemed to have something to do. People were dancing, a few smooching on the couch, a couple mixing drinks at the bar...

"You look awkward," said the blue girl loudly--the only way anyone could hear anything.

He turned to her. "You're blue."



Someone tapped him on the shoulder. "What are you wearing?"

It surprised him to see Rowan in a dress and high-heeled boots. She even had a tattoo on one arm. He wondered if it was real or if she'd put on a fake one for the occasion. "Nice tattoo."

"I told you to blend in," said Rowan. "You're wearing a suit."



"So? It's a party."

"A party, not a wedding!" She made a face that seemed to indicate she was making an exasperated sigh, but he couldn't hear it. "Fine. Just go over there where the light isn't so bright and pretend you belong here, okay? I'll signal you if I need you."

In the corner, beneath the row of large flat screens mounted on the wall showing different images, Liam found a table with a few things that looked a bit like night goggles. He tried one on. A screen in front of his eyes said "Select your adventure."

A few minutes later Liam was zooming through space in his own ship, battling off aliens.



Just as he was about to board the enemy mothership and confront the leader of the alien army, he heard a voice he recognized behind him.

"Everything I asked for?" said the familiar voice.

"Just like you ordered," said an unknown man.

"Let's go somewhere more private."

The first voice made him think of flashing colored lights, too, but in a different setting. When he'd made the lamp explode after she'd left, trying to rescue the woman... and then she'd come back, locked him in the bathroom... then came the pink truck, of course, how could he forget that...

Foxtrot.



He wrestled off the virtual headset and put it back down on its table. Foxtrot and the man she'd been talking to had moved off toward the stairs. Liam hurried around behind the bar and pretended to pour himself a drink. They passed him, heading for the large staircase that led upstairs.



Liam started to follow them, but he was so intent on watching Foxtrot that he didn't look in front of him and almost bumped into someone. "Oh, I'm..." he began, but repeated himself more loudly because he couldn't even hear it. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," said the woman he'd almost knocked over. She wore a shocking pink dress with a red heart over the chest--although in this place he couldn't tell which colors were real and which ones came from the light. "Aren't you going to say happy birthday?"

He glanced at Foxtrot and the man, now climbing the stairs. "Happy birthday. Wait, this is your party?"

She nodded, smiling. "You like it?"



"It's great. Nice to meet you. Go-Go, right? Enjoy your party." He nudged her out of the way with a hand on her shoulder, rather rudely, but he needed to catch Foxtrot before she got away again. Oh, his father would love this...

He climbed the stairs two at a time. The music got softer the higher he went, until he reached the landing at the top and it became a faint background noise, although the beat continued to sound through the floor.

He saw no signs of the man who'd come up with Foxtrot. She stood, alone, in a corner. What was she doing?

Liam approached quietly.



He'd get in close, pull the walls around her, and push them in on her so she couldn't move. Then he'd call his father and they'd decide what to do with her.

Another step... he moved closer to the wall on his left, reaching out to touch it so he could make it change and shift to his will. He hadn't used his powers in earnest for a long time. His heart pounded expectantly. He was so close...

Foxtrot turned and smiled. "Hello, Liam."

He stopped. "Where have you been?" His pulse hummed in his temples, making him dizzy with nerves, but maybe if he could talk and distract her, he'd be able to...

"Where have you been? Such a long time without seeing you. I was afraid I'd lost you forever." She went toward him. He inched toward the wall a little, but didn't make it far before she was there, blocking him.



"I would have thought you'd come after me," said Liam, trying not to let his voice tremble and show his fear. "Maybe you're not as powerful as I thought."

"Or maybe you weren't as important as you thought. Maybe, Liam honey, I just had more important things to do than chase after a little no-name superhero-in-training."

"Fleet Fingers tell you what happened to me the last time he came after me? I have powerful friends, Foxtrot. You don't want to mess with me."

"Sweetie," said Foxtrot, her voice full of tenderness, "You could send every kind and righteous superhero that had ever lived after me, all at once and at full power... every cop in the city and the army as well... and you still couldn't beat me."

"You sure? Because so far I've only heard talk."

"I'm sure," said Foxtrot, and gave him a shove in the chest.

It felt like a kick from a mule, and it shunted him back several feet, knocking the air out of him. His back slammed against something--please let it be the wall--but then he heard glass shattering all around him, and he was going through the window, out into open air beyond.



He tumbled over into nothingness and fell. Something battered his back and legs--branches of a tree just outside the window. He tried to catch onto a branch, but the one he did manage to grab snapped as soon as it felt his weight.

Down Liam fell, all those stories to the ground.



Darkness began to nibble at the corners of his vision. He couldn't draw a breath and couldn't move. He saw something falling from the window he'd crashed through and for a moment wondered if Foxtrot had overbalanced with that shove and thrown herself after him--but then she landed in front of him, on her feet, as easily as if she'd just jumped off a curb on the sidewalk.

"Nice suit," she said, looking down at him with a smile.



Oh, well, thought Liam. I guess my dad's going to have to find a new heir to train after all. He was too stunned to think anything more coherent.

Foxtrot started to bend down toward him, but off to his left smoke began to swirl in the dusky light and a figure materialized out of it, stalking towards Foxtrot with determination.

Just before he passed out, he recognized her. Shayala.



...wait, wait, is Evianna actually Liam's dad's superhero friend? 

Great story, I'm hooked!

Thanks! :D You will see... ;)

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this episode. Coming up next on Wednesday is Episode 11: Coming Home to Annabelle. Stay tuned!

Offline Ilessthan3TheSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 10: Go-Go Dillon's Party
« Reply #60 on: June 10, 2012, 12:41:37 PM »
Can't wait :D You know, I actually woke up today and thought: Yay another episode of Three Million Empty Words :D

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 10: Go-Go Dillon's Party
« Reply #61 on: June 11, 2012, 10:16:34 AM »
Oh my goodness! I don't know if I can wait until Wednesday! I hope Liam we be ok.

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 11: Going Home to Annabelle
« Reply #62 on: June 13, 2012, 01:42:44 PM »
Episode 11: Coming Home to Annabelle

A lot of things seemed to be going on beyond his eyelids, but he couldn't seem to open them. Liam heard Shayala speaking, and Foxtrot laughing. Had she done something to Shayala? His father would never forgive him for putting his friend in danger with his own stupidity...

He must hurt, but he couldn't tell. Mostly what he felt was stunned. He couldn't move, couldn't see, and now his hearing was going as well. Then he found he could open his eyes, but they showed him something different than what he'd closed them to. A hospital room, empty except for him... he groaned and tried to move his arms. They seemed to work well, but the shock had worn off, and he hurt all over. He didn't seem to have a cast, though. Was it possible he hadn't broken any bones?

Foxtrot had beat Shayala, so she would be coming for him next. He must have been out for a while. Why hadn't she come yet? He got up, ignoring the pain that sparked in his chest, and started for the door. He'd get out, find his father...

The door opened.



Liam took a step back and looked around for anything he could use to defend himself. Nothing in easy reach. He moved sideways, toward the wall. He could make that shift around and block his attacker from him so that he could escape out the window... The only windows were tiny, round things up high on the wall opposite the door, so he'd have to make a hole in the wall to get out of... hopefully the hospital had good insurance...

"Liam? What are you doing out of bed?" asked his father.

It took him a moment to get his father into focus, even though everything else seemed to show up fine. "Is this a disguise? Are you pretending to be my father?" There seemed to be no limit to what Foxtrot could do. She could probably take on another person's appearance as easily as anything else.

"Yes," said his father in an ominous, deep-pitched voice. "In reality I am your arch-nemesis with shape-changing abilities. You have passed out and woken up in an X-men movie." He switched to his normal voice. "Really, Liam? That's ridiculous. If someone took on my appearance, you'd know right off. It's impossible to get all the details right if you consciously control your transformation. You'd have to have photographic memory and a whole lot of luck."

"What happened?" asked Liam blankly.



"Shayala showed up and saved your sorry hide just as Foxtrot was about to finish you off. Be thankful that some people have more sense than you. What's this thing called that's in here?" He knocked on Liam's head with his knuckles. "Air, in your case. How could you have gone after Foxtrot on your own?"

"I thought if I took her by surprise..."

His father scoffed. "Good job on that one."

"Well, who's going to keep her from hurting other people if not us? You can't even find her. It was the second time I'd come across her, and I didn't want to let her go to keep stealing and kidnapping people!"

His father considered him for a moment. "You're brave, that's for sure. But until you know how to control your powers better and you've proven yourself with a few victories, you have to stifle that courageous little voice in the back of your head that's asking you to go after the all-powerful supervillain on your own. Now get back to bed."

Liam obeyed grudgingly, laying on top of the blankets. The door opened again and he would have jumped up again if his father hadn't held him down.

"You're going to undo all the good your rest's done you," said his father. "You have two broken ribs, so stop squirming around."

Rowan appeared in the doorway, wearing a sweatsuit instead of her uniform, and walked over to the end of his bed. "How's the patient doing?"



"Great. Now this is a zoo, too?" grumbled Liam. "I'm in a hospital gown. Why does everyone have to come and gawk?"

"Funny, I don't hear an apology," said Rowan. "I seem to remember telling you to follow my orders. And you agreeing. And you going off after someone without even telling me."

"You were looking for criminals. Normal people. Foxtrot was out of your league, Rowan! I didn't want you to get hurt."

"It's so cute," Rowan said to his father, jabbing him in the side with her elbow. "Isn't it?"

"Cute and looking to be short-lived," said his father. "Rowan may not have superpowers, but she has a gun and years of training. Unlike you, she actually knows what she's doing."

"You know what would have happened if Rowan had come with me?" said Liam hotly. "We'd both be lying in a hospital bed now. Guns aren't going to stop Foxtrot."

"And neither are inexperienced boys with a couple of months of training," said his father. "The argument stops here, Liam. You were rash and irresponsible, and if you do it again I'll confine you to your room." He went to sit on the other side of Liam's bed, where he noticed there were two chairs facing his way.

"Were you here?" asked Liam.

"On and off. We took turns watching you. Shayala shifted Foxtrot away from you, but Foxtrot should be back around here by now, and may be looking for you."

So it seemed his instinct to run hadn't been too far off. He picked at his hospital gown nervously. His father could probably hold Foxtrot off for a grand total of three seconds. He hoped Shayala was nearby. But even if she was, how long could they keep this up? Just waiting for Foxtrot or Fleet Fingers to show up again? They needed a plan. They needed to take the offensive and stop reacting to everything that happened.

"It's unlikely that's she'll come, though," said his father as if he'd seen what Liam was thinking. "We probably don't seem like much of a threat to her, and she has more productive things to do with her time, I'm sure."

"How comforting," said Liam wryly.

"We're going to find her," said Rowan with conviction. "Someone like her is going to leave a trail, and all we have to do is connect the dots."

"And when we find her, what do we do?"

Neither Rowan nor his father seemed to have an answer to that question.

A little while later a nurse came in to check on him. "You've been in a medically induced coma for a few days, because every time you woke up you'd try to run away, and that wasn't helping your recovery. You don't remember that?"

"No," said Liam, a bit embarrassed.

"A broken rib takes about six to eight weeks to heal. You might feel it's all better before then, but if you exert yourself you could damage it. Take it easy. No running, no lifting, nothing heavy on top of your chest, and definitely no falling out of fourth stories. You're extremely lucky. Your fractured ribs could easily have punctured some of your internal organs, and with a fall like that, you could have died."

Why didn't I? wondered Liam. His powers didn't prevent damage to his body. He couldn't affect living tissue.

The door opened a fourth time, interrupting the nurse as she started to say something else. Liam felt a smile touch his lips as he saw it was Winter.



"Hello," he said.

"That's all for now," said the nurse before Winter could answer. "After a few more tests, we can discharge you today." She left the room and Winter came over to his bedside.

"Nice to meet you," said his father.

"Oh, dad, this is Winter. Winter, my father."

"Who's she?" asked Winter of Rowan, her tone rather peevish.

"Rowan Hudyk, police officer. I'm investigating Liam's fall," said Rowan.

"What happened?" asked Winter, but she seemed distracted and not focused on her surroundings.

"I..." Liam glanced at his father. "I just remember tripping and falling through a window. It's all kind of fuzzy."

"Are you hurt?"



"Broken ribs, but nothing serious. How are you?"

"Oh, I have a lot of work. I came out in the local newspaper." She didn't seem too excited about it, though. Maybe it was just too stressful. Or maybe Adam had been bothering her. He wished Rowan and his father would leave the room, but they probably didn't want to leave him unprotected. That, or they were nosy.

"That's great! You hear that, dad? I'm dating a famous artist."

"Yeah, well..." She trailed off. "I'm sorry you got hurt, Liam. I just thought I'd check in on you. I'm... really busy now, though, so I have to..."

"No, that's okay."

"Okay. Okay, see you." She left the room, leaving an uncomfortable silence in her wake.

"Well, she seems nice," said Rowan. "And you two, really tight."

"She's stressed about her job," said Liam.

"Evidently."

"Well, I thought I was going to have a hard time convincing you, but I guess it shouldn't be too hard," said his father.

"Convincing me to do what?"

"To go home."

"Home?" Liam realized his father's meaning. "To your house? But dad, I have to stay here and help you..."

"You're not helping anyone in this state. You're going to your mother's and my house to recover. I'm staying here to keep looking for our friends with Rowan's help. When you're better you can come back, but for now I want you safe."

"Safe? If you leave me there, not only will I not be safe, but I'll put everyone who's with me in danger, too. Don't you--"

"There are safeguards around our family home," interrupted his father in an imperious tone. "I put them there when you were a baby with the help of an old friend of mine. No one can get inside who isn't invited in."

"What, like vampires?"

His father didn't answer that question. "While you're taking your last tests, I'm going to go rent us a comfortable car to drive home in, so you won't jar your ribs on the road. Shayala and Rowan will stay here with you, so don't worry. I'll be right back." His father got up and marched out of the room.

Liam stood up and started to go after him. A twinge in his chest stopped him.

"Better do as he says or he'll drag you there, and that'll just hurt you ribs more," said Rowan.

He turned to her. "Will you still do that thing I asked you to do?"



"Thanks to you, I lost my guy who was doing the illegal trade. I would have done better without your help."

"I was doing my job!"

"Your job is getting thrown out of windows? Interesting job." Rowan scratched her chin. "You know, a strange thing happened when you were upstairs 'fighting' with Foxtrot. I heard a voice, in spite of the music, like it was right next to my ear. A little girl's voice telling me you were in trouble. Maybe it was just my imagination. But I ran upstairs like she told me to do, and found the window broken and glass everywhere, and called the ambulance. I do live in a world with superheros and magical safeguards around family homes, so I guess it could have been real."

Liam sat on the bed. "Did you see anyone?"

"Along with the voice, you mean? I thought I did, out of the corner of my eye. A little girl, but I couldn't tell much about her in that light. When I turned she was gone, though, sort of like a mirage." She paused. "I'll find your man. Next time you'd better prove your worth, though."

Two hours later Liam sat in the passenger's seat in the blue car his father had rented for them. It felt good to get out of that hospital gown and into some clothes that actually protected him from the elements. It was seriously cold outside, and in the car as well until the heater kicked in.



"I want you to promise me something," said Liam.

"Oh boy," said his father.

"Promise me you'll follow up on my lead. If Rowan finds the man who was using those marked bills, track him down and see what connection he has to Foxtrot and Fleet Fingers." His father rolled his eyes. "I know you think it's dumb, but I have a feeling it's going to help. Couldn't you just give me some benefit of the doubt?"

His father sighed. "I guess it couldn't hurt."

"And take care of Evianna, please? Don't give her away or take her to the pound or anything."

"What kind of man do you think I am?"

"My father," said Liam.

"I'll take care of your cat and your marked bills. Don't worry about that. You just focus on getting better and coming back to help me out. Keep up your training. No physical workouts for a while, though in a couple of weeks you can take some nice mellow walks, but don't take a break from your powers. You're going to need them."

"Wonderful." Liam stared sourly out the window, watching the city pass by and slowly dissolve into the suburbs. He was going home for the first time in three years, and all he felt was a vague sense of foreboding.

His family home stood overlooking the sea, at least a quarter of a mile from the nearest house. It had been a farm once, but the barn and most of the other buildings had fallen into decay, and they'd torn them down rather than have them breed rats and snakes and bats. It was an old house, remodeled several times over the years, all in wood with big windows overlooking the grounds and the cliff that fell away to the sea.

His father parked the car and they climbed the steps up to the front door together. Liam felt his heart stammer in his chest as he looked up at the big glass doors.



His father held open the door for him and called out into the house: "Pat! We're here!"

Liam heard footsteps from another area of the house. The living room hadn't changed much, still airy and simple, with a mix of the rural and the suburban. A door opened in the back of the room and his mother walked in, cleaning her hands on her apron, smiling.

"Oh, my little boy," she said, approaching him and reaching out to take his face in her hands like a small child's. He pulled back a little.



"Hi, mom," said Liam, unable to keep the stiffness out of his voice.

"What have you gotten my son into?" she asked his father. "Running around saving people and getting tossed out of windows! You could have died."

"I'm just lucky, I guess."

"Actually, I've been thinking about that," said his father. "It may be I have an explanation. You see, at this stage a lot of the manifestations of your power are unintentional, so you may have transformed non-living substances inside your body--temporarily, of course--into a sort of armor or reinforcement, which prevented more of your bones from breaking, and other damages..." His father stopped at the look on his wife's face. "Yes, sorry. I got carried away."

"Let's not talk about those things," said Liam's mother, her voice chilly. Her face warmed, though, when she turned back to Liam. "Here, I'll try to give you a hug without hurting your ribs."



"I've missed you," whispered his mother. "My little boy."

"Mom, stop saying that. I'm twenty-four."

"Well, you act like half your age," announced his father. "You make sure he doesn't get himself into any trouble while he's here, won't you, dear?"

"Of course I will." She went over to Paul and touched his face. "You didn't shave this morning. You promised you'd stay neat when I wasn't there to remind you."

"I was just worried about Liam. I promise I've been keeping very tidy these past few months. Tell her, Liam."

"I have to change the sheets," said Liam.

"Ah, betrayed by my own offspring." His father took his mother's hands in his. "I'm sorry I've been away, Pat. It's for us, though, so we can grow old together. After this is done... after Liam's all set up and fighting bad guys on his own, which granted may take a few years, we can kick back and enjoy the grandchildren that supposedly are going to turn up sometime or other."



"I've accepted this, but it doesn't mean I like it." Pat took her hands out of his grasp and patted his cheek. "If it means Liam won't be safe anymore, I almost wish you wouldn't retire."

"He's too old anyway," said Liam, groaning as he eased himself onto the couch. "No one takes him seriously anymore."

"Goodbye, Pat. I'll see you soon." His parents kissed each other on the cheek and then his father walked out the door without further ado. Liam's mother turned to him.

"Look at you, all grown up. How's school?"



"Not so great now that I'm busy taking over dad's business."

"Well." She clasped her hands in front of her and adopted a pose that she'd often used to deliver admonishments. "Before we get you settled in, I want to establish a few rules. We won't talk about your father's business. We won't talk about anything out of the ordinary. You won't use your powers in front of me or your sister, and you won't do anything related to your father's business that might interfere with our daily lives. Do you understand?" His mother's voice had become cool and sharp again, the way he remembered it being the last time they'd argued.

"I understand, mom. I'll follow your rules, of course I will. I'm in your house, right?" He noticed his own voice sounded a little cool as well, so he tried to correct it. "Where's Annabelle? I'd like to say hello."

"In her sun room," said his mother, returning to her warmer tone. "I'm sure she'll be happy to see you, too."

Liam eased his aching self out of the couch and went across to the door to the sun room. It all seemed so surreal, to be here again after three years. He knocked and let himself in. "Annabelle?"

The sun room had more windows than any other room in the house, and two recliners set to catch the light and warmth that came through them. It smelled fresh and minty; he remembered his mother had liked to put mint leaves on the windowsills, especially in rainy season to cover the stench of mildew. Annabelle sat in one of the recliners, facing away from him.



Liam went to sit in the other recliner. He hadn't remembered them being so comfortable. Maybe they were different than the ones they'd had here when he was growing up.

Annabelle looked a lot like he remembered her--blond hair like his father and him, his mother's round face and his mother's brown eyes. She'd gotten a lot taller and slimmed down worryingly. He remembered she wore a cute little dress the last time he'd seen her; she'd traded in her child's clothes for torn black jeans, a green blouse, and high heeled sandals.

"Did mom tell you I was coming?" he asked.

Annabelle didn't even turn to look at him.

"Yeah, I fell out of a fourth story and broke my ribs. So I'll be staying here for a while to recover."

No answer.

"So you're in your junior year of high school now, yeah? Wow, you've grown up so much. Did you get the card I sent you for your birthday?"

Not a word, not a move, not a change in expression.

"Look, I understand if you're angry at me, but it would help us both if we could talk about it..." He waited, but realized it would take a lot more than that to get her to speak to him again. He sighed. "Nice view, huh?"



His mother served a nice meal for supper that evening. Liam remembered how wonderful it had been having two great cooks competing for the best dish when he, Theo, and Annabelle were small. The dining room remained one of the most peaceful rooms in the house, with a clear view of the sea and a simple white table that any colorful dish set off beautifully.

Liam and his mother talked throughout the meal of light and simple things, things that wouldn't raise any controversy or provoke any arguments. Annabelle neither spoke nor touched her food.

"Is there something wrong with the food?" asked their mother at the end of the meal.

Annabelle shook her head.

"Then why won't you eat?"

Annabelle stared.



Pat sighed. "All right. You may be excused." She helped Annabelle into her wheelchair and the girl rolled herself out of the room, probably headed for the sun room again.

"Is it me?" asked Liam.

"Not just you, Liam," said his mother tiredly. "She's been having trouble at school, too. You missed her high school years; they've been the worst for her so far. The other kids aren't very nice."

"I'm sorry I left, mom," said Liam quietly. "I should have stayed and helped out..."

"It wasn't right of us to ask you to give up your studies. We've managed, Liam. None of this is your fault." She took his hand. "I'm sorry you left, too, but that's only because I've missed you."

Liam's ribs were throbbing, so he went to bed early. His mother gave him his old room, since converted into the guest room. They'd taken down the posters on the walls and changed the flame-patterned sheets for something more conventional, but other than that it remained much the same.

But Liam didn't pay attention to the room, because as soon as he stepped in he saw them. The blue children, sitting on his bed as though they'd been waiting for him.



"Welcome home, Liam," said the blue girl.

Liam went over to the chest of drawers and opened the top drawer. They hadn't thrown them out. Thousands of slips of paper of different sizes, shapes, and colors filled the top drawer, all of them with the Good Things and Bad Things of the day. He rooted around inside and fished out one that must have been one of the first ones he'd written.

Gud things abut tuday:

Viky and I went to the laik and it wus lots uv fun.

We found a kool bug wit lots uv colors.

I maid a rok into a litle car and Viky liked it a lot.

Bad things abut todai:

Viky coffed a lot at the laik.

I mis my dad.


Liam let the paper fall back into the drawer and realized the blue girl was standing beside him.



"What do you want from me?"

"All I need is your help," said the blue girl.

"You didn't help last time," said the blue boy. "But you will this time."

"What makes you think that?"

"We'll haunt you in every way imaginable until you do," said the little blue girl. "And we'll never go away, no matter what you try to do to make us. That's what makes me think that. You'll help this time, though. And this time, no one has to die... no one will, if you do what we need you to do."

"Is that a threat?"

"No. Just a warning. Because if anything happens, it'll be your fault. Just like last time."


Can't wait :D You know, I actually woke up today and thought: Yay another episode of Three Million Empty Words :D

 ;D I'm so glad you look forward to my episodes! I look forward to writing them, too.

Oh my goodness! I don't know if I can wait until Wednesday! I hope Liam we be ok.

Liam appreciates your concern! :) Things don't seem to be going too well for him lately...

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Thank you for reading. Don't miss Sunday's episode, Episode 12: The Gentleman at the Checkout.

AdnaanA

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 11: Going Home to Annabelle
« Reply #63 on: June 13, 2012, 01:45:48 PM »
Love this!

loveSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 11: Going Home to Annabelle
« Reply #64 on: June 13, 2012, 06:51:06 PM »
I'm very curious about the blue children! Awesome update. ;D

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 12: The Gentleman at the Checkout
« Reply #65 on: June 17, 2012, 07:12:56 PM »
Chapter 12: The Gentleman at the Checkout

Paul woke up with the feeling that someone was watching him. He opened his eyes and looked around the empty room. He'd slept better these past few nights, probably because he's taken Liam's bed instead of the cheap couch. But something had caused him to wake up earlier than usual today.

He could see Evianna sitting on the counter, watching him, but he felt a distinctly human presence nearby. He got out of bed and inspected the apartment. Outside the windows the city still lay in semi-darkness. After he'd made sure that there were no intruders he went back, sat on the edge of the bed, and said to the dimly-lit room in a soft, pre-dawn voice, “Shayala?”

He got no answer, but he hadn't expected to.

He put his head in his hands. “I still have no idea how to find Foxtrot and Fleet Fingers. How could they hide so well for so long with the things they've been doing? Rowan called last night to tell me there's been another robbery. We can't connect it to them but it seems to fit their MO. That's eight in the past year, and possibly more that we haven't linked with them.”   

He grinned and rubbed his face, feeling the stubble. His wife would want him to shave.

“It almost makes me want to call up the Guardians again. I hear Kite is still up to her usual tricks, though if I went to ask for her help she'd probably kick me out. I don't think I've seen them since I was Liam's age. Liam... I don't think he would've lasted a day with the Guardians. And yet, I'm supposed to turn over everything to him, even though I can't catch these guys myself? I don't know, maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe Liam can handle this once he gets a little more sense knocked into him. What do you think?” Paul reached out into the air, wishing his hand could close around something solid--his fingers curled convulsively, trying to capture hers, but as always she was too far away for him to reach.

Something like a heat wave coming out of nowhere from nothing stirred the air and brushed the back of his hand. He opened his hand, holding out palm-up, and a soft breeze puffed against his skin before the heat haze vanished. But Paul didn't lower his hand for a while, and continued to stare at the empty room.

He felt like he'd missed a step going down the stairs. Most of the time he could get through the day without thinking about her, but she'd felt so near that for a moment he'd thought maybe this time, if he only reached out, he would find her. Like every time that had come before, he'd been wrong. She couldn't come back.

“I'm sorry,” he whispered.

Then he stood up with his usual determination to ignore the things that threatened to drag him down and went to the dresser to get some clothes.

The longer he took to find Fleet and Foxtrot, the longer it would take to train Liam; and the sooner Liam took over from him, the sooner he could walk away from this life, which would mean walking away from her as well, but that would be easier. A clean break, as clichéd as that sounded.

At least when Liam had been here he hadn't felt like he was alone with her all the time.

He decided he'd go and talk to Samuel Jones today, see if he could get something out of him this time. He could understand fear, but this man irked him.

He knocked at the door and opened it at the same time. It was locked, but a little twist of his mind took care of that. "You should lock your door," he said, stepping in.



Jones sat on his couch, staring at the TV. He glanced up, saw who it was, and looked back at the screen. "No, I didn't suddenly remember some crucial detail about the crime scene. I'd like to help you, but right now something exciting is about to happen on the tube, and I need to..."

Paul marched over and picked him up by the front of the shirt. Jones tried to push him off, but a stiffer consistency to the air slowed him down. "There were two people at the bank, a man and a woman, long hair. You saw them, but they scared you by doing something they shouldn't be able to do, and you kept quiet."

"Two freaks wouldn't have scared me!" said Samuel gruffly. "Let go."

Paul released him. "You saw what my son did the other day. He's just a kid. Trust me, if I decide you make me angry, the doggy plates will be the last thing to go. Now I've played nice. I thought I'd find these guys some other way. But they're turnin out to be a mite elusive, so you either clean up and revise your statement or I will demonstrate how well I deserve the title of 'freak.'"



Jones scowled at him, but Paul could see that his lower lip trembled a little, like he was about to have a breakdown. He recovered his tough look and said, "Two people came past me out of one of the vaults. I'd doubled back on my usual rounds to get something to drink, so they didn't expect me there, I guess. The woman, she..." Jones paled. "She picked me up like I was a doll and pinned me against the wall. The man told her not to kill me. Then they threatened me, said they'd come after me if I said anything..."

"Anything else?"

"She let me go and then they were gone, poof. I blinked and they weren't there anymore. I'm guessing that's how they got past the security cameras."

Paul nodded and walked out of the apartment.

"No one would have believed me!" Jones shouted after him.

"I believe you," Paul called back. "Isn't that comforting?"

Rowan was off-duty that day, so he went over to her apartment instead of to the station. It was mid-morning by then, between breakfast and all the back-and-forth in the city. Rowan already had everything spread out on her table, all the reports of the robberies they'd connected with the F-team, and any other that might be related. She was already angry.

"I've been up since dawn with this stupid case. On my day off. This has got to end."

"My thoughts exactly," said Paul.

They spent the day going over everything, trying to find a connection between the robberies. On all occasions, they'd taken seemingly random things--jewelry, valuable items, a bit of cash here and there. There seemed to be no pattern, except for what they'd discovered over the past few weeks: the complete lack of criteria for what they took. They seemed to be deliberately taking things that couldn't be connected to each other.

"There's no way they could sell all these things easily," said Paul over the pizza they'd ordered for lunch. "With so much diversity, they'd have to have dozens of buyers. That doesn't seem practical."

"Maybe they're crazy," said Rowan, rubbing her temples.

"If only we had some idea of what they'd hit next..." Paul sighed. "I hate these guys. Have I mentioned that?"

Rowan grinned. "Not as much as I do."

"Throwing my son through a window, kidnapping antique dealers... still no news on her, by the way?"

"Nope. Nothing."

"Of course. Nothing. As usual."

That evening, Paul jogged home to vent a little of the frustration through exercise. He arrived at Liam's apartment tired, hungry, and sweaty, ready for a hot shower, a hot dinner, and a warm bed--the temperature kept getting colder, darn it.

He fished around in his pockets for the keys to the apartment and was about to open it when he heard someone approach from behind.

"Mr. Galagher?" said Winter.



He turned. "Liam's not here."

"Yeah, he told me he was staying at his mother's house."

"His parents' house," said Paul, a little irritated. "It's my house, too."

"Right, sorry. I was just coming to talk to you, to find out how he was doing. I was kind of in a hurry when I stopped by the hospital the other day and I didn't get a chance to..." She faltered. He wondered what his expression looked like, because it had obviously put her off.

Young love, he thought. Is this all it's good for? I'm kind of worried, but I couldn't bother to find out the details of him falling out of a window the other day because I was so busy. Oh, yeah, Liam and Winter, love forever.

"He's great," said Paul. "I'm sure he'd appreciate you being so concerned for him, but if you want to know more you should really talk to him, not me."

"I meant when he was going to recover, and if he'd have any complications from the injury and everything."

"Nope. No complications. He'll be skipping through the daisies soon as you can sneeze."



"Oh, okay. Good."

"Top-tier."

"Um... so, tell him I said hi."

"There's a phone at our home. You can call him same as me."

"Yeah, I just wanted to... never mind." She seemed a bit irritated herself, but he didn't care much. She'd had her time to act concerned before. He nodded and went into the apartment, closing the door behind him with a firm click.

"This is what modern romance looks like," he said to the empty room. "Aren't we a pair of old fools?"


***

Winter walked out of Liam's apartment building, wrapping her coat around her against the chill. She knew Liam's father probably resented her for acting so distant the other day, but what did he know? If he'd had to deal with what she... never mind. She didn't know anything about him, so she shouldn't judge him. Maybe it was just the cold. It made everyone curt, since they were so desperate to get inside.

About halfway to her apartment she realized she must be running out of groceries. She was just a block away from one of the supermarkets she usually went to, so she'd stop by there. She had a little extra money lately, so she decided she'd get herself some comfort food.

The owners of the store kept it sweltering all year long, so she took off her coat and left it at the entrance. It was nearly deserted at this time of night, so it shouldn't take too long. She wandered the aisles, looking for food staples, a few household supplies, and a bit of something to lighten her mood.

She saw a bag of the kind of marshmallows she hadn't eaten since she was a young girl. She bent over and picked them up off the bottom shelf, smiling at the memories of hot chocolate and teddy bear-shaped multicolored marshmallows floating around inside. If she could find some powdered cocoa, she could make herself some... then she noticed the price. Urgh. Well, she could splurge a little. But when she located the cocoa, she calculated that one cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows would cost about as much as her average meal.

"I don't remember things being so expensive," she muttered.

"I keep thinking the prices have gone up," said a voice from beside her. She jumped. A man with long, orange hair had appeared out of nowhere. "I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to startle you."

"That's okay," she said, realizing she had the prettiest blue eyes she'd ever seen. "So have they? The prices, I mean. Have they gone up?"

"No, it's just that we're around that age where you start having money to buy extra things like you used to when you were with your parents, only you're used to living off the bare essentials like you've been doing since you left your parents' house."



"That makes sense." Winter bounced the marshmallow package lightly in her hand. "So this is what being a real grownup is like? I keep thinking I've reached that stage already."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. I've considered myself fully grown since the time I was twelve."

Winter laughed and then hesitated before holding out her hand. "I'm Winter Mercier."

"Elijah Carlyle." They shook hands. "It's nice to meet you, Winter. Do you come to this store often?"

"Oh, most every week. I live nearby. What about you?"

"A ways away," he said with a wistful sigh. "My real home, anyway. What I like to call my 'temporary home' isn't too far. About four blocks away."

"So for the purposes of the city, we're practically neighbors."

Elijah laughed. "Yeah, I guess we are. We might even have run into each other before, although I'd probably remember your hair."

"I change it a lot. A few weeks ago it was bright orange, and it used to be longer. For a long while in college I was completely bald."

"So... you're in the circus?"

Winter giggled. "Kind of feels that way sometimes." She lost her amusement. "Yeah, that's exactly what my life is. A circus. A freak-show. You know, a few days ago my boyfriend fell out of a fourth-floor window? And he's fine. Just a broken rib or so."

Elijah raised his eyebrows. "You have a boyfriend? Good thing you slipped that in there, I was about to ask you out." They both laughed. "I'm glad your boyfriend's okay. How did he fall? Through a window, that seems like a hard thing to do."

"Yeah, I know. The thing is, his whole life is kind of bizarre. I get the sense he's hiding some big secret from me, like he's a spy or a superhero or something."



Elijah let out a startled chuckle. "Those would be weird secrets to have."

"So I guess you don't have a girlfriend, since you were going to ask me out. Any family nearby?"

"No. My roommate is like the most annoying sister a person could hope for, though. She's always stealing my things, and she never wants to go out and have fun. She spends all her time working. She does wake me up in the middle of the night singing Invincible by Michael Jackson at the top of her lungs, though, so she does have a bit of fun."

"She sounds like an interesting roommate."

"Oh, you have no idea."

"What's her work?"

"We actually work together. Don't ask me how I got roped into that." He rolled his eyes. "We have a small business, buying and selling artifacts and jewelry. Yes, it's just as boring as it sounds, but it pays the rent. What about you?"

"I'm a painter. Strictly local, though I've been having a larger reach lately."

"Hey, that's right. I thought your name sounded familiar. I was at a gallery where they displayed a few of your paintings. Your work is amazing."

Winter looked at the floor, embarrassed and flattered. "You think?"

"Oh, absolutely. It's full of life and energy; I'd never seen anything like it. I see a bit of art in my line of work, and outside of it, too. I enjoy it, especially modern art. But your paintings, Winter... wow. They blew me away. Let's see... what was the name of that one? Paradise Has Been Swallowed by a Modern Man?" Winter nodded. "Oh, that was spectacular. I've never seen any other artist that uses color like you do. It's like, wham! So much personality. I can see your love of color translates into all aspects of your life." He gestured toward her hair.

She raised the package of multicolored marshmallows. "Plain old white is boring."

They laughed and Winter realized she hadn't enjoyed talking to someone this much for a long time. Liam was nice, but he was so hard to connect with sometimes. How was it that she felt like she already felt like she had more in common with this stranger than with her boyfriend? And it was just so comfortable chatting.

"I think you should buy that," said Elijah. "What's the point of sitting on your money? Enjoy it. It's the season. You know, I think I'll get some myself. Where are those colored bear marshmallows? I'd like to try them."



She showed him where they were, he recommended a better brand of cocoa, and they went over to the cashier's to pay. She was wondering if she had everything when a man pushed in front of her in the line, like he'd never heard of a queue.

"Excuse me?" she said. "I was here."

The guy didn't pay any attention and started putting his purchases on the counter. She hadn't said it softly, so he must have heard her.



Elijah stepped around Winter and pulled the man around a bit roughly by the shoulder. "Wax. Ears. You might want to think about it."

"What are you talking about?" asked the man.

"She was ahead of you in the line. I was ahead of you, too, for that matter. You might be in a hurry, but you can't just cut in front of people who were here before you. If you're going to deliver those goods to a charity that closes before nine or something, by all means tell us and we'll let you go first. If, on the other hand, you're just cutting the line because you feel like it, I suggest you apologize and go wait in the back."

"You go around teaching people manners? What are you, Mr. Perfect? We'd all be done by now."

"Yeah, but you see, I've got all night. I don't go to work tomorrow. I'm not saying I can make the world a better place by putting you in your place, but I don't stand around and let people walk over me or anyone else, even if it's just disrespecting a silly convention like lines. That's just who I am."

"Fine. I got the message. I won't be shopping here again, that's for sure."

He tried to get past, but Elijah held up his hands. "Uh-uh. Apologize to the lady."



"I'm sorry," he said grudgingly.

The cashier seemed a bit sour when he added up their purchases, probably because Elijah had chased away a customer. They left the store, stepping out into the cold, and stood at the base of the steps.

"You really hate line-cutters," said Winter.

"I can't stand people who disrespect others."

"I think you made the cashier mad."

Elijah grinned. "That happens. I don't waste tears over offending people who value their own convenience over the well-being of others. If he wanted that idiot as a customer, let him go ahead and bring him back."

"I've never actually met anyone who confronts people like that before."



"Then you live in a world of cowards, Miss Mercier."

Boy, was he different from Liam! Something about the mix between his playful smile and the conviction in his expression made him so... attractive. She almost wished she could have taken him up on his offer to take her out.

"I think Liam would be more likely to be the one who cuts in front of me than the one who confronts the guy who does. Not on purpose; he's just a bit clueless to what's going around around him. A bit callous, sometimes... What?"

Elijah had a strange look. "Liam?"

"Oh, my boyfriend. Liam Galagher. Do you know him? No, sorry, you probably don't. I spend so much time in a little bubble environment with my college friends and artists and everything..."

"No, I don't know him." For some reason, he seemed completely crestfallen. It was without any real enthusiasm that he said, "I should probably get home before my roommate comes looking for me, demanding the things I was supposed to buy for her. Maybe I'll run into you again some other time." He gave a slight smile and walked off.

Winter tried to think of something to say. Maybe she could ask him to hang out with her and her friends sometime. She'd like to be friends with him, or at least get to know him better. She hardly ever hit it off so well so soon with anyone. But by the time she'd worked out what to say, he'd already crossed the street and was heading down a little path that went through the park.



Why had his mood changed so suddenly? Maybe it was because she'd reminded him she had a boyfriend. Winter put on her coat, gathered her purchases to her chest, and headed home. She was glad she'd bought the marshmallows and cocoa.


Thank you for reading and for your comments! I hope you enjoyed this episode.

This story calls for a lot of sims. So I was wondering if anyone would like to participate in the creation of a few! In episode 14 there will be several new sims. That's next Sunday, so there's plenty of time if you want to create a sim and upload him or her for me to use in the story. Several of Winter's friends will appear, most of them art students and young aritsts, but feel free to make their appearance and traits whatever you want or think would be the type of people Winter would hang out with! I only have the sims Ambitions and Pets, so please use hairstyles, clothes, accessories, traits, etc. only from those expansions. If you want me to use your sim, please upload him or her to the exchange and leave a comment or PM me. I would greatly appreciate your help and contribution to the story. Thanks!

Stay tuned for Episode 13: Blue Memories this Wednesday!

Offline Ilessthan3TheSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 12: The Gentleman at the Checkout
« Reply #66 on: June 18, 2012, 07:46:17 AM »
Wow, awesome update! It's cool seeing Liam's dads' POV (in a sense) and Winters' too.  :)
I'd love to make one of Winter's friends :) Does it matter about the gender? And should we post them in this topic or just post the link to a different topic for them? :) Thanks!

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 12: The Gentleman at the Checkout
« Reply #67 on: June 18, 2012, 08:26:53 AM »
Wow, awesome update! It's cool seeing Liam's dads' POV (in a sense) and Winters' too.  :)
I'd love to make one of Winter's friends :) Does it matter about the gender? And should we post them in this topic or just post the link to a different topic for them? :) Thanks!

Thank you! I think you should upload them to the Swap Shop and then post the link to that here. Either gender is fine. ;D

Offline Ilessthan3TheSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 12: The Gentleman at the Checkout
« Reply #68 on: June 20, 2012, 06:22:14 AM »
Hi, Apples, this is the link to the sim I made for this story.  I hope you like her. Obviously you can change whatever you like about her. If you'd like me to make more sims for the story I'd be happy to. You call reply in here or send me a PM. :)

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 12: The Gentleman at the Checkout
« Reply #69 on: June 20, 2012, 10:10:55 AM »
Thank you so much, Ilessthan3TheSims! She looks great. ;D There will be other sims for sure, I'll let you know.

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 13: Blue Memories
« Reply #70 on: June 20, 2012, 12:31:46 PM »
Episode 13: Blue Memories

The days seemed to drag by for Liam. His father called every now and then, but his mother was always nearby so they kept the phone calls short and devoid of any important information. He passed the time by playing chess with his mother and helping her out in the garden. Somehow, she always managed to beat him at chess, no matter what he tried.



Annabelle continued giving him the silent treatment. He guessed she must talk in school to her friends, and maybe to their mother when he wasn't there, but at home she remained as silent and impassive as a statue. He let her have her way, hoping that she'd find it in her to forgive him eventually.



At the end of the second week he'd grown so restless that he couldn't stay in the house any longer. He'd been practicing using his powers and felt confident that he could take care of himself outside of the protection his father had put around their home, and besides he needed exercise to be able to recover completely.

His mother agreed to let him go on a walk. "But only for an hour, because your brother's coming home this evening and he's looking forward to seeing you."

"Theo's coming?" asked Liam, pausing on his way out the door. "I didn't know that."

"He was just able to arrange it this morning. Don't be late. Dinner's at six o' clock and I expect you to be here."

Liam shook his head and walked out the door. Maybe his parents continued to treat him like a child because he'd lost so much contact with them when he left home at eighteen to go to college. He'd visited off and on the first three years, but in the following three they'd barely spoken. Annabelle's condition had gotten worse and they'd wanted him home to help, never mind his studies and the life he'd made for himself. Now he almost wished he'd come back.

For several square miles around his parents' house there was nothing but a beautiful wooded area. Liam had heard there were plans to divide the land into plots and start building. He hoped that wouldn't happen anytime soon. He'd grown up running around in these woods.



He was enjoying the fresh scent of the trees and of the breeze that came up from the sea when he came out into a clearing and saw two headstones. He stopped. He'd forgotten these were here. The last time he'd visited them they had flowers on them. Now the moss had started to grow in the carved letters.

Liam approached slowly. The tombstone on the right said SANDY JOHNSON, LOVING MOTHER. The one on the left read VICKY JOHNSON, BELOVED DAUGHTER. Liam touched Vicky's headstone. In the shadow of the great tree beside it, it didn't get much sun and the stone felt cold to his touch. Birds called and fluttered around him, the branches of the trees swayed slightly in the breeze... such a peaceful place. He was sure Vicky would have loved it.



He couldn't remember that much about her. They'd both been eight years old when she died, the same year his powers started manifesting. He'd always wondered if he'd somehow caused her illness, even though he knew rationally that he couldn't do something like that.

He did remember that his brother had teased him for always playing with a girl and never with other boys, but Vicky hadn't been like most girls. She'd been such a tomboy, never afraid to roll around in the mud and pick up bugs and lizards and frogs, which other girls considered "gross." Vicky even knew how to capture snakes, and delighted in it--even poisonous ones. Once one had bitten her, and they'd run all the way home, over five miles. She'd recovered from that.

She hadn't recovered from the illness that struck sometime later.

Liam felt a prickle on the back of his neck. Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of something of a color that didn't match the rest of the environment.

And there stood the blue girl.



"I'm ready, you know," he said. "Whenever you want to tell me what you want me to do to get rid of you, I'll do it."

"I need your help, Liam."

"Yeah, I heard that. With what?"

"You know with what. You failed me last time. This time you'll save me."

"Okay," he said, annoyed, "You've got to stop being so cryptic. How did I fail you last time? When you gave me that vision of the fire and I almost ran into a burning building with no one in it because I was so delirious with fever?"

"No. A long time ago. When I got sick."

"When you what?"

The blue girl didn't answer.

"Are you..." Liam took a step toward her, incredulous. "Are you Vicky? Her ghost or something? Why didn't you...?" The blue girl ran off, disappearing between the trees. "Hey, wait! Come back here!"

Liam took off at a gentle jog, careful not to jar his ribs. But the distance between them increased with every step he took, and she was already starting to move out of his line of sight, so he sped up, ignoring the dull ache in his chest.

"Vicky!" he shouted. "Come back!"



The blue girl's feet were bare, but she didn't have any trouble with the forest floor. Sometimes her clothes or hair would catch briefly in the branches of the trees she brushed past, and on several occasions she broke off the ends of branches when she slipped between them. A ghost couldn't touch, could it?

Those same branches that she got easily between proved to be real obstacles for him. In minutes he had cuts all over his hands and face that burned and itched. For all she seemed material, she didn't seem to get any scratches, not even when he actually saw tips scrape across her face, her bare arms, and her bare lower legs.

Liam hadn't done more than walk around the house and the yard for two weeks, and he soon got out of breath. His ribs ached more and more, and his heart beat frantically against his ribs, much faster than he'd like it to.

Suddenly, he realized he'd lost her. He looked around and couldn't see her anywhere. "Vicky!" he called.



It was getting dark. He checked his watch. He had no idea where she'd led him to, and he needed to head home soon.

But then she ran past the space between two trees up ahead, and he ran after her.

He followed her through tightly-packed bunches of trees, through clearings, up and down slopes. Several times he knew he'd gone by some landmark already--an oddly-shaped tree trunk, or a specific clump of vegetation, or a rock formation. Was she just going in circles to tire him out, or because she wanted him to get lost?

Well, she'd accomplished both things. Liam had no idea how to get home, and he knew that he would soon collapse on the forest floor if he continued at this pace. He no longer even had the breath to call out to her.

They broke out into a clearing and he saw the sea off to his left, at the base of the cliff he'd walked along earlier. How had that happened? The sea was supposed to be on his right, unless they were heading back... The sun had almost set, and the sky had turned a pinkish-yellow, peach-like color. The blue girl ran not far ahead of him now. Had she slowed down?



True dark fell not long afterward, and Liam couldn't see the blue girl any longer. He followed the sound of her footsteps and the snap of the branches as she pushed them aside, but most of the time he couldn't even hear that over the ruckus he made barreling through the forest like a mad bull. She seemed to head in a more-or-less straight line now.

He doubled over, gasping, and realized he could no longer hear her. The nighttime animals had woken up, and owls hooted in the darkness. Other than that, the pounding of his heart was the only sound.

What now? After catching his breath a little, he looked around and noticed light coming from somewhere off to the left. Maybe he'd reached someone's house, and he could ask for help getting back home.

It was a house up ahead, a small wooden cabin that had fallen into decay. A sense of déjà vu tickled at the back of his mind. He'd come here before. It was Vicky's house, and the blue girl stood on the porch, facing the door, waiting for him.



He approached and the blue girl went inside. Liam climbed the steps, even though it took an enormous effort to haul himself up, and opened the door.

Once inside he discovered that the light had never been on at all, or it had somehow turned off by itself. The interior was barren; wooden walls, wooden floors, wooden ceiling... and no sign of the blue girl. Instead, in the center of the room stood the blue boy.



"Where's Vicky?" he asked.

"She's gone. It's your fault," said the blue boy.

Liam sighed. "Okay, who are you supposed to be? Me? You know what, I don't think either of you are ghosts. I don't think the girl is Vicky, and I don't think you're some kind of representation of my childhood self. I think someone is sending you two to drive me crazy. Foxtrot, maybe?"

"A power made us," said the blue boy.

"Great. You could have said that earlier. So who was it? Foxtrot? Some other supervillain I haven't met yet that for some reason holds a grudge against me?"

The boy's eyes widened. "It wasn't Foxtrot. It wasn't anyone else. You made us, Liam. Your power. You brought us into existence, and you keep us here. So you want us to go away? You're the one who won't let us."


***

Hologram barked and wagged his tail happily.

"Have you found him, boy?" asked the man. "Go, boy. Go fetch."

Hologram bounded ahead and the man followed. He burst out into a clearing where an old cabin rose. No lights were on inside, but Liam must be there.



Hologram ran up the steps and through the door, which stood ajar. The man entered. The wood creaked beneath his feet, and he worried that he'd put his foot through the floor. Obviously, no one had come here in a long time.

In the dim light, it took him a moment to make out Liam standing in a corner of the empty room. His shoulders were shaking and the man wondered if he'd gotten hurt. Then he realized he was crying.



"Liam?" said the man.

Liam quickly wiped his eyes and turned around, squinting. He seemed to recognize him and his eyes widened. "Theo?"

"What are you doing here, little brother?" asked Theo, relieved because Liam seemed unhurt, although he had several cuts from branches on his face. "Mom's freaking out. If it weren't for Holo, I never would have found you."



"Holo?" said Liam blankly.

"Hologram. He's my dog." Theo ruffled the dog's ears. "He reminds me a lot of old Indy. I rescued him a couple of years ago; apparently he used to work sniffing drugs, so he was able to track you by your smell. I never thought I'd say this, but good thing you're too lazy to take your dirty laundry to the laundry room so mom could wash it. Really, Liam? Your room was a complete mess." He stepped toward Liam. "You've got to come home. It's almost eleven. What were you doing out here?"

"I got lost." Liam certainly seemed lost, but more in the mental sense than the physical one.

"Well, I'm taking you home. Come on."

Liam leaned on him the whole way back. Several times he stumbled and Theo thought he would fall on his face. They finally saw the light from the house up ahead, and soon they were climbing up to the front doors and into the living room. Their mother got up when they went in.



"Where have you been?" she asked, her voice and face full of worry. "Did something happen to you?"

"I think he's fine. He's kind of in shock," said Theo.

Their mother threw her arms around Liam. "My little boy. Come here, let's get you to bed. Thank you, Theo. I don't know what I would have done without you."



"No problem." Theo followed them to see if he could help. Pat laid Liam on the bed. Liam shook as though he had a fever, but he hadn't felt hot. "I think he's had a breakdown. Mom, do you have any idea what he's been doing in the city? Who falls out of a fourth-story window?"

"I don't know," said their mother carefully, without looking at him. Not for the first time, Theo wondered what his family was hiding from him. All his childhood he'd had the feeling his father's work wasn't at an electronics company. He'd known for sure when he got bigger, but whenever he'd tried to ask they waved him away with excuses. Now strange things had started to happen to Liam. What was going on?



"Liam, are you going to be okay?" asked Theo.

Liam didn't speak. Their mother took off his shoes and jacket and tucked him into bed, then went out of the room, closing the door and leaning against it with exhaustion.

"Is there anything I can do?"

She smiled and cupped his cheek in her hand. "Thank you, sweetie, but no."

"I work with people who've been through traumas all the time, mom. Maybe I can..."

"No. Let your father deal with this." She patted his shoulder. "I don't think you or I can help Liam."

Theo thought about asking--again--what the deal was. But he already knew his mother would find some way to avoid his question. For some reason they didn't want him to know, and Theodore Galagher trusted his family.

He only hoped Liam would be okay.


Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this episode. Tune in next Sunday for episode 14!

loveSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 13: Blue Memories
« Reply #71 on: June 20, 2012, 05:41:26 PM »
Fantastic update! It is so long to wait until Sunday! I hope I survive until then. :P

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 13: Blue Memories
« Reply #72 on: June 24, 2012, 04:30:37 PM »
Hello all. I'm really sorry, but I won't be able to post an episode today. I'm having to uninstall and reinstall my game, expansion packs, store content, everything. :( I hope I see you again soon!

loveSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 13: Blue Memories
« Reply #73 on: June 24, 2012, 04:53:28 PM »
That is ok Apples. I do it every time I bought a new expansion. Your game will be so much smoother. :)

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 13: Blue Memories
« Reply #74 on: June 24, 2012, 04:57:13 PM »
That is ok Apples. I do it every time I bought a new expansion. Your game will be so much smoother. :)

Thank you, I hope so!

 

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