Author Topic: Three Million Empty Words - 02x06: Little Brother  (Read 15128 times)

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 14: Welcome-Home Party
« Reply #75 on: June 26, 2012, 04:50:26 PM »
Episode 14: Welcome-Home Party

Liam stayed in his bedroom for several days. His mother would bring him his food and a concerned expression, and Theo would come and sit by his bed, talking to him, prodding, trying to get him to talk about what had happened.

At night he had dreams about Vicky, all of them vivid. During the day he read the papers on which he'd written about the Good Things and Bad Things of each day for over fifteen years. He hadn't realized how early he'd started doing them. They'd been one of Vicky's inventions. She said that they needed to set down in writing everything that happened them, so that they wouldn't forget.

He couldn't tell from the notes whether Vicky's illness had been natural. He hadn't thought about her in forever, but obviously she'd always remained at the back of his mind, and there had to be a reason for that.

One of the notes in particular made him wonder if Vicky really had died of natural causes:

Their wuz smoke coming out uv the chimmey, but insted of smoke it wuz a woman, and she went to sit by Viky's bed and didn't say anything all nite. Wen I woke up she'd gone away. Viky's mom didn't no hoo it wuz.

It was unclear whether he'd considered that a Good or Bad thing.

As to how he'd created the blue children, he thought he knew. After all, they'd only appeared after his powers had returned. Somehow, he must be transforming the air, or other objects in his environment, into them. His subconscious did it all by itself, because he didn't know how to do that consciously. For some reason only he could see them--maybe because his brain was wired a certain way, to respond to them, but other people--Rowan, the bouncer at the party, Evianna--had seen them, so he must be starting to believe in them, and making his subconscious turn them into real things that everyone could perceive. How far would this go? Would they become real people?

Finally, Liam couldn't stand it anymore. His ribs hadn't hurt for two days, and he needed to go home to talk with his father about all of this. He packed his bag early one morning and slipped out.

But his mother had gotten up before him, and came in just as he was about to leave.

"So nice to see you..." Her eyes fell on his bag. "Where are you going?"

"I'm sorry, mom. I need to figure some things out. It's driving me crazy."

She nodded. She seemed to understand that she couldn't help. "Sometimes boys need their fathers."

"Yes, we do. Thanks for having me, mom. Say goodbye to Theo and Anna. I'll come to visit more often, I promise, but..."

"There's a bus that stops over half a mile up the road at eight fifteen. If you hurry, you can catch it." She kissed his cheek and sent him on his way. As he crossed the yard, Hologram pranced around him, licking his hands excitedly and woofing softly. His mother knew that he couldn't always come back. Who knew what would happen? His life had become so unpredictable.

Liam caught the bus just in time, running a little the last few hundred feet, which gave his ribs a twinge. He watched the countryside pass by his window and tried not to think.

When he arrived at his apartment, he found it empty, and a note on the table from his father.

Your mother called me and told me you'd be coming home. I've gone out. Stay in the apartment until I come back.

Typically, it didn't say anything about where his father had gone. When was he going to trust him with things?

He picked up the phone and called Winter.

"Oh, great you're home!" she said. "Why don't you come over to my apartment? I haven't seen you in awhile; we've got some catching up to do!" She seemed much more cheerful than when he'd left.

He decided he could use some cheering up. His father could wait for him when he came back. Liam didn't want to spend all day locked up in the apartment. He'd already spent enough time in his room back home.

When he knocked on the door to Winter's apartment, he noticed the sound of several people talking on the other side. Maybe it was just the TV.

"Come in!" called Winter.

He walked inside and found the apartment crowded with strangers. Winter sat on the couch, chatting animatedly to a blond woman.

Liam couldn't help but feel a little annoyed. Winter hadn't said anything about a group gathering. He didn't feel like talking to a bunch of people he'd never met before. He'd looked forward to a little quiet time alone with her. Obviously she hadn't.

"Hey, Liam!" she said, smiling. "You haven't met my friends yet! This is Georgia, Diana, and Jon, and over there's Nina and Todd."

"Yeah... Hi," said Liam, not sure what else to say.

"Hi!" said everyone brightly.

"Sit down, Liam!" said Winter.

"Um, I don't think there's any room."

"Oh, it's okay. You can have my seat," said Jon, the red-headed guy with shorts, rising. Liam wondered how he could wear something like that in this weather. Some guys just liked to look tough and pretend the cold didn't affect them. Liam decided he didn't like Jon. "I was just going over there to talk with Nina."

Liam took Jon's seat, angry at everybody, especially Winter.

"So how's your mom?" asked Winter.

"She's fine."

She seemed to pick up on his anger, at least. "Are your ribs still hurting?"

"They're fine."

"Is something wrong?" She lost a bit of the enthusiasm she'd shown before, and seemed more like the nervous, depressed woman he'd left a few weeks ago. He decided to swallow his annoyance and tolerate the crowd for her sake. Maybe they were perfectly nice people. Winter would probably have cool friends, after all.

"No, I'm just tired from the trip. I still haven't recovered all the way."

"Of course you haven't!" she said, brightening again. "Gosh, Liam, you fell out of a fourth story window. You can't expect to just bounce back."

"So how are you?" He noticed that the easels, which last time had all supported canvases in various stages of painting, were all empty. "How's everything going with your art showings?"

"Great. There are so many lined up, they've got me so busy! I sold a big painting last week for about ten times the price I've gotten for anything before. People are starting to hear about me, and pretty soon I might start getting shows in important places, and having a more national audience. Maybe even international!"

"That's great." He wondered what would happen if Winter started travelling all over the world to show her paintings. Would they have a long-distance relationship, or would they have to break up? Or would he follow her around, fighting bad guys around the globe, like James Bond or something? Maybe he should think of a catchphrase to have handy.

"So, hey, a weird thing happened to me about a week and a half ago. I was at the grocery store and I met this guy. Long orange hair, blue eyes... he was really nice, but when I mentioned you..."

"You talked to him?" asked Liam, panicking. Long orange hair and blue eyes? How many people looked like that?

"Yeah, do you know him? He seemed pretty upset when I mentioned you were my boyfriend."

"He seemed surprised? Like he didn't already know?" It was strange that Fleet Fingers would just happen to talk to Winter. He'd probably already known who she was, but pretended not to, and tried to collect information on them or something. "What did you tell him?" he asked urgently.

"I don't know," said Winter, taken aback. "We talked about my painting, and his roommate, and the price of marshmallows... nothing very..."

"Winter, I need to speak with you in private. Right now."

"What's going on, Liam? You're acting crazy."

"Please, Winter, this is important."

Winter looked around at the woman sitting beside her. Liam had already forgotten everyone's names. "Hey, Liam and I will be right back."

She took them through the door next to the little kitchen into her bedroom. Liam had never seen it before, but he didn't take the time to look around.

"If you ever see that man again, you have to run. Go to the police, or come find me."

"Why?" Winter's eyes were wide and uncomprehending. This must sound insane to her.

"Okay, this man is very dangerous. Never, ever go near him again. Don't talk to him, don't approach him. And if you ever see him, even at a distance, tell me immediately."

Her eyes narrowed. "You don't have to shout at me. What's so dangerous about him, anyway? He seemed nice. A lot nicer than you at the moment."

"I didn't shout at you!" He stopped, realizing he was shouting. "It's just that this is very important. Fleet Fingers is... he's like a psychopath, all right? He might seem nice, but..."

"Fleet Fingers? What are you talking about? We were talking about Elijah."

"Elijah? Is that what he told you his name was?" Liam realized he was missing an opportunity to find out more. He'd just been afraid for Winter. He took her by the shoulders and said sternly, "Tell me everything he told you. Absolutely everything. Where was this store? And in which direction did he leave?"

"Okay," said Winter, throwing his arms away from her. "This is getting out of hand. Liam, I don't know what your deal with this guy is, but obviously if you think he's so dangerous you should take it up with the police, and stop freaking out."

"This coming from the expert," said Liam.

Winter's expression told him he'd gone too far. "I told the police about Adam. I did everything I was supposed to. You don't know anything, so don't assume you do, and don't ever talk to me this way again!"

"Of course I don't know anything, because you won't tell me!"

"Well, you won't, either! You just come here with your 'this guy is so dangerous' but you don't bother telling me whether you mean you just don't like him or if he's some kind of..."

"This is serious! I need you to tell me...!"

The door opened and Winter's blond friend appeared. "Hey, Winter we were thinking about ordering a pizza..."

She stopped and looked from one to the other. "Sorry, did I interrupt something?"

"No, Liam was just leaving," said Winter.

"I'm not leaving until you tell me--"

"You're leaving when I tell you to! This is my house, now get out!"

"Guys, don't fight," said Winter's friend. "I'm sure you can work this out..."

"No, we can't Georgia," said Winter. "And Liam really needs to go now."

Liam stared at Winter for a moment before pushing past Georgia and out into the main room. Everyone had obviously heard them shouting, and they stared at him as he went past. He glared back at them. He no longer felt like being nice and polite.

Liam marched out of the apartment, down the stairs and out of the building. Winter was so touchy! He was just trying to protect her, and she had to attack him like that! He started to wonder if she was too much trouble. They'd had lots of good moments, but the fighting just wore him out, and they had so many secrets between them...

I'll tell her, he decided. If she thinks we can work out our relationship, I'll tell her everything, and maybe she'll tell me about herself, too. If that doesn't work, then we're not meant to be.

He'd never had something like this before with anyone. He didn't want it to end, but unless they could talk openly...

He was walking along a tall stone wall that bordered one of the fancy apartments next to his, across from the diner where he'd first seen the blue girl, and heard raised voices around the corner. Great, he'd probably walk on in someone else's argument to complete his day.

But when he rounded the corner he saw two well-muscled, tough-looking boys had cornered a third boy on the street.

"You think you can just walk up to my girl and talk to her? She doesn't talk to the likes of you!" said one of the tough-looking boys.

"I was just trying to find out if she knew about the assignment..."

"Derek, man, give it up," said the other tough-looking guy. "Just admit you like his girlfriend. It would be better for you to just confess your little crush and have it over with."

"I don't like her!" said Derek. "I know she'd never want to hook up with me, it's just that I..."

The boy closest to him punched him in the jaw and Derek stumbled, nearly falling onto the pavement. Liam went over to them.

"Nice day, isn't it?"

The two tough guys looked at each other.

"Yeah." Liam looked lazily around at the deserted street. "It's a beautiful day. Sea breeze blowing, blue sky... You kids should go and enjoy it. Play with your toy cars or something."

"What's your problem, dude?" asked the one with long hair.

"Problem? There's a problem?" Liam narrowed his eyes at the kid, wondering if he'd need to resort to his powers to sort them out.

"N-no, nothing," said the other boy. "C'mon, let's go," he muttered to his friend, and they took off, disappearing around the corner. Liam didn't mind. He didn't want to put any unnecessary strain on his ribs.

He turned to the bullied kid. "Hey, are you okay?"

The kid just looked at him, eyes wide, before wheeling around and sprinting off down the sidewalk.

"You're welcome," snapped Liam. Some people should be more thankful. He'd gotten bullied some in high school, and he would have appreciated someone stepping in. He walked the rest of the way back to his apartment.

His father hadn't come back, so it was just as well he'd left. He noticed, though, that the light blinked on his phone's answering machine.

He pressed the playback button. "You have one new message."

"Liam, it's Rowan. I found your guy, the George character you were looking for. You'll be happy to know he's in custody, so no need to worry about him anymore. See you."

Liam quickly dialed her number from the missed calls list on the phone. Before she could finish her greeting he said, "What do you mean, you have him in custody?"

"Hello to you, too," said Rowan. "He was in possession of black market seafood. I looked him out, found out his address, and went to pay him a visit. Apparently he's been stealing money from his aunt and jamming her security cameras to play in a loop."

"His aunt?" asked Liam, nonplussed. He could hardly believe it.

"Yeah, her name's Danielle Miranda. He's George Miranda. Some people just have no respect for family, I guess. Liam, I'm kind of busy at the moment, so..."

"Okay, sure. Thanks for the favor."

"It paid for itself. We caught a criminal. Even putting away a petty robber feels good. See you." She hung up.

Liam collapsed onto the couch. Was George Miranda Daniel Miranda's brother? It didn't matter, he guessed. Everything seemed to fit. Apparently Fleet Fingers had had nothing to do with it. He felt deflated. He'd expected to chase down Fleet and Foxtrot when even his father couldn't, and be the hero. Instead, he'd uncovered a petty criminal--which was okay, he guessed, but not what he'd anticipated.

Or had they set George Miranda up? But why? They hadn't bothered to cover their tracks before. None of it made sense. Maybe he had a lot more to learn than he'd thought. This superhero business had turned out to be a lot more complicated than he'd bargained on.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the latest episode of TMEW. Thank you, Ilessthan3TheSims, for Georgia Vick! It turned out I just needed to patch up my game to get her to work. ;D

And now, a sneak peek for episode 15, which I will try to post tomorrow...

Do you recognize her?

If you do, you get a cookie! ;D

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 14: Welcome-Home Party
« Reply #76 on: June 27, 2012, 08:33:51 AM »
Hello! ;D Thank you for reading my story. I appreciate your feedback immensely. Please feel free to tell me what you think, even if there's something you didn't like or you think I should change. Thank you!

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 14: Welcome-Home Party
« Reply #77 on: June 27, 2012, 01:49:15 PM »
Awesome update as always! No cookie for me, I don't have a clue who the woman is. ;D

Offline warr2098

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 14: Welcome-Home Party
« Reply #78 on: June 27, 2012, 01:51:32 PM »
Another amazing update, looks like Sandi French from sunset valley? I'm not sure though  ::)

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 14: Welcome-Home Party
« Reply #79 on: June 27, 2012, 04:34:16 PM »
Awesome update as always! No cookie for me, I don't have a clue who the woman is. ;D
Another amazing update, looks like Sandi French from sunset valley? I'm not sure though  ::)

She's appeared in my story before, and she used to wear glasses. ;)

Offline warr2098

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 14: Welcome-Home Party
« Reply #80 on: June 27, 2012, 04:59:14 PM »
Nelly?  ;)

Offline Ilessthan3TheSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 15: Return of the Judge
« Reply #81 on: June 28, 2012, 05:04:35 AM »
Beat me to it warr!  :D
Just caught up now Apples, awesome as usual. I'm glad you got Georgia working, thanks for using her.  :)

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Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 15: Return of the Judge
« Reply #82 on: June 28, 2012, 09:11:20 AM »
Episode 15: Return of the Judge

"What's your name?" asked Rowan for about the tenth time, demonstrating a lot more patience that she'd ever shown with Liam.

The woman stared at Rowan as if she didn't understand her.

"I already told you, her name is Catherine Pavell," said Liam.

"Liam, shut up," said Rowan. "I only let you two in here as a favor. Please let me do my job. We need you to tell us your name."

The woman sat across the table from them, looking lost. The interrogation room around them looked a lot like the ones in the movies, somber and grey, but without any of the fancy equipment or the window you could only see through on one side.

Rowan had called them in the middle of supper to tell them that the police had found a woman wandering the streets who wanted to speak to Liam. But now that they'd come, she didn't seem to recognize him. He thought he remembered her wearing glasses, and that might prevent her from seeing properly, but she also shivered continually, and she didn't seem well.

Rowan leaned across the table. "If we're going to help you, we need to know your name."

"Nelly," said the woman suddenly.

"I don't understand. You looked her up, and said her name was--" Liam started to say to his father, but Rowan glared at him. He crossed his arms and fell silent.

The woman seemed to have noticed Liam for the first time. "You were there. You saw what they did. Impossible things... the woman threw my bodyguard across the street, and the man with the orange hair appeared out of nowhere... but you did things, too, and you said you were going to save me..."

Liam was glad there weren't any other cops in the room. "It's okay. You're safe now, Cath--um, Nelly. And I do things, too, but I'm good. I'm like Superman."

Rowan snorted, but disguised it with a cough. "These people who held you, can you remember their names?"

The woman held her head between her hands. "The woman called herself Foxtrot, and the man Fleet Fingers."

"And what did they want from you?"

"I found... something... something for them." Her shivering had only gotten worse since they'd gotten there. Suddenly it fell into place for Liam.

"Do you feel feverish? Nauseated and dizzy?" he asked. She nodded. "Didn't you let her have a checkup first? The same thing happened to me. She must be running a fever. I thought it was because of something else when it happened to me, but it started just after I got away from their place. That's why I couldn't remember where it was."

"I guess we won't be getting a location. She was fine when the nurse saw her an hour ago. I'll get you something to take." She got up and left the room.

"This could just be a bug going around," said his father. "When it happened to you it was just after you quit the medicine that suppressed your powers, that's more likely..."

"It's too convenient. Neither of us can say where we were. But I ran for blocks after I got away. Maybe she'll have turned up closer."

Rowan came back into the room with a few pills and a glass of water. "My colleagues just finished doing an ID check on you. You changed your name, didn't you? From Nelly Pavell to Catherine Pavell. Could you tell us why you did that?"

"Wuthering Heights," said the woman, smiling vacantly as she swallowed her pills.

"Right. Nelly, Catherine. That makes sense," said Liam. His father stared at him. "What? It's not a romance novel like everyone says it is. It just got that label because of the movie. It isn't even a love story. It's..."

"Guys, seriously, shut up," said Rowan. "It's like we're in kindergarten or something. So you got the idea for your new name from Wuthering Heights, but why did you change it?"

"I used to be a judge, but I decided to leave that life behind. It made it harder for people who'd known me from then to track me down that way, and I wanted to start over afresh."

"Okay, that makes sense. Is there any chance you could tell us where these people were holding you?" Rowan pulled a map of the city out of her pocket and unfolded it on the table. "Here's where we found you."

The woman shook her head. "I don't know. They blindfolded me, and then they took the blindfold off, but they were gone. Then you appeared."

Paul got up and left the room. Liam followed. They were in a long hallway, empty except for a few policemen on the other end.

"They released someone they held prisoner for weeks right under our noses and we still can't find them," said his father. "How can we still not catch them? I've gone after hard targets before, but none of them like this. They're showy, they're careless, they're high-profile, and we still haven't got any closer."

"We'll find them," said Liam, trying to sound encouraging.

His father shook his head and walked out of the police station.

A while later, Liam was going through his clothes drawers looking for one of his shirts and wondering if it had gotten lost in his last trip to the Laundromat. "Hey, dad, have you seen my grey shirt with the horse..." He stopped. He thought his father had been playing with Evianna in the front of the apartment, but when he looked around the corner he saw Paul speaking to a woman he hadn't heard come in.

"Calm down, Paul," said Shayala softly. He hadn't heard her speak for a long time, and he'd forgotten how compelling her deep, husky voice sounded.

"This is driving me crazy, Shayala. I hate that these guys can get away with anything and we have no way of stopping them."

"You just have to do like we did when we were with the Guardians, remember? Play to their weaknesses." She reached out to touch his face, but dropped her hand before her fingers made contact with his cheek. "You'll catch them. It's fitting that your last fight is a tough one."

"My last fight?" Paul laughed humorlessly. "I'll never stop fighting. I'm going to keep doing this until the day I die. It's in my blood, and I was crazy to think I could just retire. And Liam..."

"Liam will do well, Paul. He's learning. You were rash and impulsive too, remember? Maybe not as much as him, but he's just as committed as you are, and he's smart when he's not being brave."

Liam hadn't known Shayala had such a high opinion of him. He didn't know much about her, really. His father never talked about her. He'd never even heard her name before this whole crazy thing had started.

"Will you retire?" asked Paul bitterly. "Will you just stop helping people because you're past a certain age? This isn't like working in an office, you know--"

"You've done enough. When the time comes, when Liam's ready, you'll pass on the torch. Don't worry about that now." Shayala pulled him into a tight hug and Liam almost didn't hear what she said next. "Someday I'll take you home with me."

Then she faded into that smoky haze, leaving Paul's arms empty. He stood staring at the space she'd occupied for at least a minute before he seemed to notice Liam looking at him.

"What?" he snapped.

"Um, I think that's my shirt, dad," said Liam.

"So what? I borrowed it. Won't you even lend your own father a shirt?"

"Dad, are you ever going to tell me who Shayala is?"

His father sighed and went to sit on the couch with a groan, putting a hand over his eyes. Liam sat next to him. "She's just another one of us."

"That thing that she does, how does it work?"

"That's not the important question."

"Uh... no? What's the important question, then?"

Paul looked at him. "Where does she go when she's not here?"

"Oh, okay. So where does she go?"

"I don't know," said his father miserably, running his fingers across his balding scalp. "She describes it as a dark place with no time, no matter, no space, nothing. She just floats there, and she can somehow see what's going on here, but she can't come back without enormous effort. It started out the other way around. She used to be a girl who was all the way here, but occasionally went into that other place, and could emerge here wherever she wanted, and could even lure people in with her, although they wouldn't stay. But the more she did it, the more it pulled her in, and now the times she can come back are getting fewer and fewer. One day she won't be able to come back at all."

"So..." Liam thought about the way Shayala had almost touched his father's face, and the words she'd whispered to him. "Were you... I mean, did you ever... were you in love with her?"

"We never could have had a life together." Liam had never seen his father looking so tired and sad. "It never would have worked. We belonged in different worlds in the end, it seems."

Liam thought they would sit there and feel sad about the past for a while; maybe he'd even share some of his troubles with Winter, and they could have a few drinks together. But a few minutes later his father jumped to his feet and started for the door.

"Hey, we were having a nice moment! Where are you going?"

"To find those two. I'm tired of this, Liam, and this has got to end now."

"Wait, Fleet and Foxtrot? How are you going to find them? And what are you going to do even if you find them?"

"Get out of my way, Liam," said his father, raising his fists. "I'm in charge here, okay? If you don't let me go right now, I'm going to sock you in the nose."

Liam stepped aside. "If this were me, you'd be telling me I can't just go off by myself! You can't deal with these guys!"

"Good thing I'm not you," said his father. "Stay here." He slammed the door.

Liam waited for awhile, but as it grew darker he got more and more worried. Evidently his father hadn't been in his right mind. He should have gone after him, but now he had no idea how to find him. He called Rowan.

She arrived promptly. "Any clues where he could have gone?"

"No. I don't know what lead he would follow that he hadn't already..." Liam stopped, realizing they did have one untapped source. "Well, my girlfriend saw Fleet Fingers a few weeks ago, but..."

"Let's go see your girlfriend, then."

Liam hadn't seen Winter since their fight, and he wasn't looking forward to another encounter, but he was more worried about his father than apprehensive of her. He knocked at the door to her apartment and got no answer.

Rowan stepped forward and rapped smartly on the glass. "Police, open up."

"It's open," called a faint voice from inside.

Winter stood in front of an unfinished painting on one of her easels, staring at it. She didn't turn when they came in.

"Winter, did my father come to see you?" asked Liam, stepping forward.

"Yeah, he did." She looked over her shoulder. "He wanted to know about that guy, just like you did."

"Look, I wasn't making it up. He really is dangerous. See? I've got the police here with me."

"Yeah, I see."

He walked over to her. "I left messages on your machine. Why didn't you..." Rowan cleared her throat from behind him. "Okay, that doesn't matter now. We'll talk about this later, okay? We'll clear everything up, I promise. I won't keep anymore secrets from you. But you need to tell me where you think my father might have gone."

"Well, he said something about renting an apartment in the area..."

"Okay, what area?"

"Around the grocery store." She handed him a little business card. "I gave him one of these. It has the address and everything."

"Great, Winter. Thank you so much." He wanted to give her a hug, but she didn't seem in the mood. She seemed distant and distracted again. "I'll call you, okay?" They left the apartment.

"You're going to tell her about you?" asked Rowan as they drove toward the grocery store.

"What else can I do?"

"And what if it doesn't work out? You'll have an angry ex-girlfriend running around who knows all your secrets."

"That's the risk you always have to take, right?"

"For what? Every time I've seen you two together you seem like a couple of strangers."

"Thanks for looking out for me. Here's the store."

They hurried inside and found the clerk. Liam watched enviously as Rowan flashed her police badge and got the necessary information out of him in less than a minute.

"So apartments that have been rented out for a few years now, on a second or third floor since you both remember going down stairs, cross-referencing the area near the grocery store with the place where we picked up Catherine..." muttered Rowan, bending over a map she'd spread out on the dashboard. She'd reluctantly let Liam have the wheel. "Okay, stop here. The guy said this was a good place to rent a floor if you didn't want your name thrown around. Don't you know how to park?"

"Not with stick shift," said Liam. Rowan sighed in exasperation as he struggled to put the car in reverse and back into the last space left on the block.

"Just double-park. This is a police cruiser. They're not going to tow us."

They went to several different places, and Liam got more and more nervous as time passed. Finally they found a woman with an apartment over her shop that she'd been renting for about as long as the robberies had been going on in this area of town to two people under false names. Rowan asked to see the apartment and the woman told them to go around the back.

"You should get ready," said Liam. "If Foxtrot and Fleet Fingers are in here, they're going to fight back when we see them. I don't even know if bullets will work; she can probably stop them before they reach her, and Fleet can get out of the way. And..."

"I got it, Liam, thanks. We'll get your father and get out. That's the important thing right now." Rowan unlocked the door. They climbed up a staircase that seemed so familiar to Liam, in a strange way. He could even tell which step he'd tripped on and fallen down onto his face, but he didn't remember many details. He'd been too out of it.

His heart pounded in his ears. If they were going to face off against Foxtrot and Fleet, he needed to be ready. He needed to think of a new strategy...

They reached the floor and found it darkened. One of the doors stood open. They went inside and found Paul standing in the middle of a room that had been stripped of wallpaper, the tiles lifted up, and all a lot of heavy things carried through the door, judging by the dents on the frame. It had the same shape and size as the living room where Liam had woken up after Foxtrot and Fleet had kidnapped him.

"Are they here?" whispered Liam.

"They cleared out,” said his father in a distant voice. “The landlady didn't know. They must have done it just after they let Catherine go." Paul went over to one of the walls and kicked it. "They got away again. We were so close. So close!" He kicked the wall again and again, and pounded his fists on it until the cement started to crack.

Liam and Rowan grabbed him by the arms and dragged him out, down the stairs and into the back lot, still yelling and flailing his arms like a madman.

"Get a grip!" said Liam, turning on his father once they were outside. "So they weren't here! We'll find them next time. Attacking the wall isn't going to help!"

"They're gone! They're gone again! We're never going to catch them!"

"Not if you act like this! What's wrong with you? Are you just upset because of Shayala? Calm down, dad, geez! It's really sad that you couldn't be with the girl of your dreams, but honestly, dad, get over it! That was years ago! Forget this and get a grip on reality--"

Liam stumbled back as his father aimed a fist at him, but Rowan caught his arm from behind. "Paul, your son is talking sense into you. Doesn't that tip you off as to how wrong this situation is?"

Paul stopped struggling, yanked his arm out of her grasp, and marched off muttering to himself.

"He'll be okay," said Rowan.

"Yeah. But I think we'll have to catch these guys first. They're getting under his skin." Still unnerved about seeing his father lose control like that, Liam scratched the back of his head and sighed. "They're getting under my skin, too."

I'm so mad at my internet connection! I wrote this episode yesterday but it wouldn't let me post.  >:( Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this episode.

Nelly?  ;)


Beat me to it warr!  :D
Just caught up now Apples, awesome as usual. I'm glad you got Georgia working, thanks for using her.  :)

Thank you, and you're welcome! She might appear again... ;)

Offline alex51299

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 15: Return of the Judge
« Reply #83 on: June 29, 2012, 01:41:20 AM »
Just got back into this story again and it's even better than before! Great update.  :)
If at first you don't succeed, call it version 1.0.


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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 15: Return of the Judge
« Reply #84 on: June 29, 2012, 12:43:09 PM »
Poor Paul! I hope they catch those two soon.

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 15: Return of the Judge
« Reply #85 on: July 01, 2012, 04:01:27 PM »
Just got back into this story again and it's even better than before! Great update.  :)

Thank you! ;D I'm glad to see you around again.

Poor Paul! I hope they catch those two soon.

Paul's pretty stressed out for sure. :(

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 16: Nine Years of Winter
« Reply #86 on: July 01, 2012, 04:02:14 PM »
Episode 16: Nine Years of Winter

Something woke Liam from his nap. He blinked drowsily around at the apartment and realized it had gotten dark. His sleep pattern had gotten altered recently, and he hadn't been getting enough sleep at night. He wondered what had woken him. He would have gladly slept until the next morning.

"Liam!" called his father from behind him, startling him. Liam got up, groaning miserably, and went over to his bed, now occupied by his father.


His father clutched at the edge of the blanket and shivered. "I need something for the fever."

Liam went to the counter and got him some medicine. His father could barely hold the glass with his trembling hands. "Any blue children yet?" Liam asked.

"No," snapped his father, although his teeth chattering ruined the effect.

"You're still not going to tell me anything about Vicky?"

"I told you, Liam." His father handed back the glass. "Vicky died of natural causes. It was very tragic, but it doesn't have anything to do with our abilities."

"Shayala was there with her. I wrote it down when I was a kid. She spent a whole night by Vicky's bed, toward the end, holding her hand."

"I don't know anything about that. You'd have to ask her." His father subsided onto the pillows and sighed. "I hate being sick. I haven't been sick for thirty years. Why did Foxtrot have to keep that thing up around the apartment even after they left it? And why did you not get affected?"

"I don't know, dad. I'd been there before, so maybe I was immune to it or something. Rowan's just as sick as you, so don't feel bad about that." Liam rubbed his eyes and went back to the couch, hoping to catch a few more hours of rest before they got back on the case.

A knock came at the door and Liam lurched to his feet angrily. This whole thing had him on edge. He wasn't used to his father being defenseless, and although he still had Shayala around somewhere, it wasn't the same as having someone solidly present looking out for him.

He opened the door and found Winter standing on the other side. "Oh. Um..."

"You forgot our date." She smiled, a little distractedly, but genuinely.

"Did I?" He rubbed his eyes again. "I'm so sorry, Winter. Come in."

She went past him into the apartment. He realized she'd never seen it before.

"Very... personable," she said. "And with just the touch of cold indifference that makes me think you... hate visitors." She looked around and noticed his father. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, lowering her voice to a whisper. "I didn't know your father was here."

"He's sick. And I meant to decorate, it's just..." He shrugged.

"I'll give you some paintings to hang up." Her face fell at her words, as if they had reminded her of something bad. "Is there somewhere we could go to talk?"

"Sure. Um... Shayala, would you stay with my dad? I'll be fine. Thanks."

Winter looked around, presumably trying to find Shayala, but seemed to decide she must be in the bathroom.

"I know a little park not too far from here. We could go sit there. Is it cold outside?"

"Nope. Heading on into spring." She rubbed her arms anyway, as if she had some sort of chill that had nothing to do with the weather. "It's funny, winter was always my least favorite season."

A while later, they sat on a bench under the swaying leaves of trees, the breeze blocked off by the stone wall that bordered the fancy apartments that rose behind them, the street lamps casting nice patterns of light across the grass, through the branches of the trees.

"So no more secrets?" asked Winter.

"No more." Liam bent over and picked up a rock, bouncing it lightly in the palm of his hand. "You ready for this?"

She grinned nervously. "Okay. I guess so."

Liam closed his hand over the rock. She's going to think I'm a freak, he thought. But there was nothing for it. He willed the rock to change and shift into something... something that Winter would like... He uncurled his fingers and revealed a lumpy, but recognizable bird. He wasn't an artist, and figuring the exact details was hard. But the rock had obviously changed shape.

Winter stared at it for a few minutes without speaking. Then she laughed. "How did you do that?"

Liam shrugged. "I don't know. It's an ability that my father had, and he passed on to me. His uncle had it before him. Apparently it skipped my grandfather. And my brother... and my sister don't have it, either. But where it came from originally, I have no idea." He handed her the stone bird and she turned it over in her hands.

"I didn't know you have a sister."

"I..." Liam didn't know what to say. No more secrets. "Her name's Annabelle. She's seventeen. She was born paralyzed from the waist down. My father says that runs in his family, too. I don't know if it has anything to do with... our ability." He scuffed his foot on the cold ground. "I've always felt it's my fault, in a way. And so does my father. It's kind of a sore subject."

Winter nodded. She didn't seem freaked out or even surprised. Maybe he hadn't hidden it as well as he thought he had, or maybe she just didn't have an issue with strange things. She reached into a pocket in her jacket and pulled out an envelope. "Everything's explained in there. Now that you've showed me... what you can do... I think you'll understand better."

"What do you mean, everything?"

"Please just read it, okay?" She got up to leave.

"Wait, where are you going?"

"Call me when you finish." She walked off at a brisk pace, vanishing down the gloomy street. Liam stared after her for a moment before tearing open the envelope and starting to read.

Dear Liam,

I should tell you this in person. I should be brave enough to say it, to see your reaction and deal with it, but I'm not. I have demons in my past that are after me still, and I owe you an explanation. Maybe we can work it out together, with trust and time and love. I hope so, because I think you're special, and I want us to have many happy times together. I know I've been distant and cold and we've fought a lot, but it was inevitable, with so many barriers between us.

It's up to you, though, if you still want to try after reading this letter. It's a lot to handle, I know.

I met Adam when I was a teenager. Back when my family still had money, I participated in all the after-school clubs and activities. One of those was a painting class, where I discovered my passion for art. I also discovered Adam.

He was a few years older than me and utterly fascinating. He knew so much about art, and he had so much passion and creativity that he inspired me, too. He believed in me; he always said I'd be successful, because I had a way of reaching people through my art. He introduced me to a whole new world of artists and their desire to communicate. Adam had a group of friends who thought like him, believed in his same ideals, and loved what they created: they were writers, painters, photographers, poets, singers, musicians, movie-makers, sculptors, all of them talented, all with bright futures. I felt happy and at home with them, and when they praised my work it meant more to me than when my arts teacher did the same thing.

But then I discovered something, something I didn't understand at first. Adam inspired and brought together all these artists. He knew so much about famous artists, techniques, and art in theory; he had opinions and observations about everything, and we respected what he said, because he knew so much.

But Adam did not create. He never had. He could copy the work of many of the great masters so well it was hard to tell his work apart from the original. He had so much talent and knowledge, a comprehension of the meaning of art much deeper than anyone I'd ever met--but he could not create. He couldn't make anything that was his own, something that came from his imagination and spilled onto paper, or clay, or canvas.

It took me a long time to realize the meaning of this. I thought he was just stuck, with artist's block for some reason, taking inspiration from the classics while he waited for his muse to come back.

But it never did, because Adam Reede had no muse.

I don't think anyone who isn't an artist can understand this fully. But in science, I suppose, there's something of art, so I'll try to put it in terms of your work. It's as if you understood all the theories and laws and knew everything other scientists had done before you. As if you grasped the concepts and building blocks they taught you, and knew what to do with them, and knew the scientific method and how to apply it... But you couldn't. You could do experiments to prove the theories of others, but you can come up with none of your own.

But that doesn't describe it fully, because a scientist who doesn't invent something new can still be a scientist. He won't be remembered, but he can still call himself a scientist.

An artist who can't create is nothing. He's empty. He's no one. And Adam felt that emptiness deeply, and tried to use us to fill it.

He surrounded himself with young, talented artists in order to try to experience art through us. Art, success, creation... Everything. He convinced me to enter a contest and I won second place, but he acted as though it were the most terrible thing he'd ever experienced. He screamed and beat his fists on the walls like a crazy person, and when I tried to ask him what was wrong, he just said:

"You should have won."

I was just a girl, and I thought I loved him. But what really happened was that Adam needed me, and I interpreted that as love. So I didn't identify the danger, and I ignored his strange obsessions and tried to support him.

Around the end of my high school years, my parents lost all their money to a law suit against their pharmaceutical company. Some people got sick as a side effect of one of the drugs they sold, and that was the end of my private school, clubs and activities. I had to get a part-time job if I wanted to get into college. Adam convinced me to sell some of my paintings, but they didn't sell for much, and I didn't have much time to paint. I still spent time with his artist group, though, and of course I spent time with Adam. I thought I would spend the rest of my life with him, and nothing could keep me from him. He lived through my art, so he wouldn't leave me, either. My parents approved of him--he was cultured, polite, and smart, so he seemed ideal. Despite my parents' misfortune, my life seemed on the right track.

But then came college, and all my friends got into the big ones. Some of them went on to be important artists; Adam did have a sense for that. For some reason, he decided to stay with me. He could have gone anywhere--he had his parents' money, his intelligence, his good grades--but something drew him to my paintings, and it was them he wanted to experience. I was overjoyed because I thought he loved me, too.

I was disappointed at first, away from my friends and with the demands of school, that made it even harder to get time to paint. Adam got increasingly irritable and prone to exploding in anger the longer I went without putting brush to canvas, and I was on the verge of leaving him, but then he'd become the same caring person as before when I was able to paint again, so I decided not to. It took me longer than I care to admit, I'm afraid, to figure out what was going on. But figure it out I did.

I was getting older and more experienced in the ways of the world, although it took me long enough to get there, and I realized it didn't seem to be me that he wanted to be with. He loved to discuss my paintings, to watch me work, to critique them and show me what I could change, and I realized my creations were becoming soulless, uninspired, and strange--hardly mine at all.

I was unhappy, and I blamed Adam. My friends recommended that I dump him, and I did.

It wasn't pretty. He got furious and threatened me, but I wasn't afraid of him, just like I wasn't in awe of him anymore, and I said so.

I told him goodbye and walked home to my dorm. I felt I'd done the right thing, and I could sense that a weight had been lifted off me, making me nearly bounce along the path through the park.

Now comes a strange part of my story, but something tells me you'll understand, and not think I'm crazy or making it up. It was dark, and I could see the shape of someone in the path up ahead--a child, it seemed, although there shouldn't be any around at this time of night.

I approached the child, saying, "Are you lost?"

"Yes," said a little voice in the darkness. "I'm lost, and so cold. Will you teach me how to make fire?"

"I'll take you home to your parents, sweetie. What's your name? Who are your parents?" I got closer, but he was in shadow, and I couldn't see his features.

"I was never given a name," he said in a voice that nearly broke my heart. "And I've always been alone. No one to care for a lost soul."

I don't know why I said what I did, but somehow it felt right, and it still does, like in some small way I knew who I was speaking to, although it's still too strange to contemplate. "Adam..." I said, stepping closer to the child. But I blinked and he was gone. Lost, as always.

My life got much better after I broke up with Adam. I went to parties, I painted, and I was happy to see that everything I did seemed to be mine again, untouched by Adam's strange influence.

Then Adam started calling me. Every night at the same time. He sent me letters and emails and text messages, too, but he never failed to call every night at nine-o-six. I never picked up.

But one day he just left. He transferred to another school, and the phone calls and everything else stopped coming. I assumed he'd found someone else to create through, and was happy with her. Maybe it had even worked out for them.

College ended and I started working while I continued with a graduate program, which is where I met you. I liked that you were a scientist, which was a new breed of person to me. I was intrigued by how much you seemed to hide, and how different you were from everyone I'd known. I waited for you to ask me out, because I knew you liked me. You didn't, though, so I decided to keep waiting and focus on my career.

Nearly a year ago now, Adam came back. He came to see me at my apartment and we talked. He seemed normal, and I thought maybe he'd gotten over his obsession. He noticed my paintings, but didn't do more than comment on them. I learned he was an architect, and quite successful, too. I was curious, so I asked to see his blueprints. Had Adam found his muse at last?

At first, looking at the plans for the houses he'd designed, I was shocked. They were truly creative and beautiful. I couldn't believe this was the same Adam. I thought maybe he'd finally gotten over whatever was preventing him from connecting to his creative spirit, and I was happy for him. I showed the prints to one of my architect friends from college, and he was as impressed as I was--until he recognized them.

"Wait. I've seen this before. Not just this style, but this entire plan, down to the last detail. It's in the architecture section in the college library. And the rest of these, I'm sure I've seen them somewhere else." He looked up at me. "All Adam's done is copy famous designs."

I felt a tingle on my spine. Adam hadn't changed at all; he'd just found another way of disguising his hollowness. I returned his blueprints. We'd arranged to meet for lunch, but I didn't go, and didn't return his calls. I probably could have managed it with more finesse, but Adam had finally succeeded in making me afraid of him. What was he? He was incomplete, less than a full human. Something essential was missing in him, and I didn't want him to start using me to experience my paintings through me again.

He took up his habit of calling every night at nine-o-six again, like he couldn't come up with anything new--because he couldn't. I ignored him as best I could, thinking he'd go away. But he started showing up all the time, or having other people follow me.

He started showing up at my gallery showings, when I got them. When we went on that Friday to the gallery on our first date, he didn't come because it was my first show, and he didn't find out in time. But he told me he'd come to the next, so I didn't want you to come. That's the only reason I kept you from my art, Liam--it's not that I don't want you to see some hidden part of me; it's that my art is cursed, and wherever it goes, Adam follows.

I don't know if I'll ever be free of him. Maybe he'll give up. But I know he'll always come back, and I know the only way to make him go away permanently is to stop painting. It's all I know, though, so how can I? I'm starting to see Adam's influence in my work again, though he's not been near it when I'm painting it. It's like... God, Liam, it's like he's sucking my soul. I know it sounds crazy, but it's what it feels like.

Now you know why I haven't told you before, right? You understand? It's because I hardly knew how to explain it, or if you'd believe me or get what I was saying, because it hardly makes sense to me. Please try not to judge me too harshly for the things I've done wrong, or the things I failed to do. If I knew how to make Adam go away I would.

Maybe we can have something between us despite all of this. Do you think it's possible? Maybe Adam will give up for good this time. Maybe with your help I can find something to do other than paint, something that won't bring so much misery along with it.

I hope so, Liam; I sincerely hope so.

I love you, and I'm sorry.


Thank you for reading. Please stay tuned for episode 17. I'll try to post it as soon as I can.

Offline Ilessthan3TheSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 16: Nine Years of Winter
« Reply #87 on: July 01, 2012, 04:29:12 PM »
Oh, wow.
Amazing Apples  :)

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 16: Nine Years of Winter
« Reply #88 on: July 01, 2012, 07:33:31 PM »
Oh, wow.
Amazing Apples  :)

Thank you! ;D I'd really been looking forward to posting this episode.


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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 16: Nine Years of Winter
« Reply #89 on: July 01, 2012, 07:45:15 PM »
Poor Winter, to have a stalker like that! Awesome update. :)

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 16: Nine Years of Winter
« Reply #90 on: July 03, 2012, 08:44:08 AM »
Poor Winter, to have a stalker like that! Awesome update. :)

Thank you, lovesims. :D

Did anyone recognize Georgia Vick?

Offline Ilessthan3TheSims

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 16: Nine Years of Winter
« Reply #91 on: July 03, 2012, 09:01:24 AM »
Thank you, lovesims. :D

Did anyone recognize Georgia Vick?
I thought I did, the blonde girl with the purply tips on her hair? :) But I thought that may have been wishful thinking on my part  :D

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 16: Nine Years of Winter
« Reply #92 on: July 03, 2012, 02:13:58 PM »
I thought I did, the blonde girl with the purply tips on her hair? :) But I thought that may have been wishful thinking on my part  :D

Yep, that's her. Here's a close-up. ;D

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Episode 16: Nine Years of Winter
« Reply #93 on: July 04, 2012, 04:15:13 PM »
Episode 17: Big Bad World

Liam went up to his apartment, sweaty but relaxed from his morning jog. He opened the door and called out a "hello" to his dad, but getting no answer he assumed Paul had gone out. Evianna danced around his feet, swatting at his shoes.

After a quick shower he went back into the living room and noticed the blinking light on the answering machine. He sighed. His father had probably left him a cryptic message along the lines of "Son, I've gone off somewhere, to do something, and I'll be back sometime."

Except lately he barely spoke at all, and he spent his days in surly silence, insanely determined to find their two fun friends. He'd left the city maps and all the papers from Rowan spread across the bed, Liam noted sourly. He was having to clean up after his own father. He'd thought that would come later on in life.

"You have two new messages," said the machine. Liam raised his eyebrows and waited, wondering if Winter had called, or Rowan with some new information.

"Hello, Liam. This is Bob from the bookstore. I'm really sorry, man, but I'm going to have to let you go. I've never had any complaints about you from customers, and everything's really nice and in order after your shift, but you've just been missing too many workdays. I know you've got life issues and everything, but so do I, and money's tight right now, so... yeah, I'd tell you in person, except you never come. I hope we can still be on good terms, okay? Uh, so... bye."

Beep. Liam stared at the light as he waited for the next message. He should have known his days working for the shop were numbered. He went in whenever he could, but between his father's demands and his new "birthright" or whatever he'd missed a lot of days. Actually, he couldn't really remember the last time he'd gone.

Now what would he do? He had student loans, his rent, he needed to eat and pay for the other necessities...

"Liam, this is Rowan." He shook himself out of his worries and paid attention. "This is really urgent. Come to the hospital as soon as you can, okay?"

No. Liam picked up the phone and dialed her number. "Is it my dad? Is he okay?"

"Liam... you need to come."

"Is he alive?" asked Liam desperately. "Answer me!"

"Yes, yes, he's alive but he's really bad. You need to come now."

Liam couldn't remember ever feeling so terrified before. He took a taxi to the hospital, but barely noticed the driver or anything around him. For a moment, just before he got out, he thought he felt something brush his hand. He looked down distractedly and saw a little blue hand on top of his. But when he looked up she'd vanished, or maybe he'd just imagined her.

He asked for his father's room number and the nurse directed him there. Every step he took felt like it carried him closer to some horrible truth that he'd never be able to turn back.

He opened the door and stepped in. His father lay in a bed, the covers up to his neck, presumably sleeping. Rowan sat in a chair next to the bed, still in uniform. And in the corner stood Shayala, as solid as he'd ever seen her.

"What happened?" asked Liam.

"A robbery gone bad. There was an accident with the gas pipes, and a big fire," said Rowan. Her voice sounded less crisp than usual. "The building was just down the street from yours."

"That big brick building?" asked Liam, cold terror settling into the pit of his stomach. The brick building he'd dreamed about months ago. The one he'd gone to while still feverish and delirious to try and save people on the direction of some hallucination and a bit of prodding from the blue children, who since he'd made them with his head would say whatever he wanted them to say.

Rowan nodded.

"What happened to him? Is he going to be okay?"

"I don't know. He has serious burns. They just brought him out of emergency surgery a little while ago. Where were you?"

Liam didn't answer and went around the bed to Shayala, planting himself firmly in front of her. "Was this them? Did you see? Did Foxtrot and Fleet do this? Did you catch them? Where are they?"

"Calm down, Liam," said Shayala in her deeply persuasive voice. He felt calm washing over him but fought it off.

"I don't want to calm down! I want to know who did this!"

"It didn't have anything to do with them," said Rowan. "I've arrested the kid who did the robbery. His name's Derek Sommerby. It was just a house robbery that got out of hand."

"Is this kid at the police station?"

"Liam, you need to cool off. There's nothing you can do. Sometimes these things just happen. You're not going to help your father by..."

Liam turned and raced out of the room. He could hear Rowan coming after him, but he only went faster. He went around a corner and brushed the wall with his hand, making it undulate out into the hallway, slowing her down. He got another taxi, which took him to the police station. When a cop tried to stop him from going into the interrogation room Liam reached out and blasted the door open, dissolving the lock, and marched in.

There at the table in that same little room where they'd spoken to Catherine Pavell sat the same kid he'd rescued from the bullies.

Something his father had said to him months ago, back when this whole thing started, came to mind then: "Some of the people you save, you'll regret saving at some point. You have to accept that now, or you'll burn out, fast."

He stalked across the room and pulled the kid up by the front of the shirt. "Remember me?"

The kid shook his head. Somewhere in the back of his crazed mind Liam registered the terror on the kid's face.

"Remember when those two tough guys were threatening to beat you up and I made them leave you alone? Remember that? You didn't even thank me. I should have let them do whatever they wanted. You little..."

Footsteps sounded behind him. "Liam!" shouted Rowan, wrapping her arms around his chest and dragging him back. Liam let go of the kid's shirt and let Rowan slam him into the wall. "You are so out of line right now! I should arrest you!"

"So arrest me!" he said, and pushed past her to the kid again, pointing a finger in his face. "You hurt my father. You will never mess with me again, kid, you got it?"

Rowan dragged him out of the room and out of the station, dumping him on the sidewalk. "Go cool off," she said. "And don't ever do something like this in front of me again, or you're going to jail."

Liam picked himself up, trying to keep back the sobs that wanted to escape from his body. He hadn't even asked if someone had told his mother. He pulled out her cell phone and called her.

"Mom, did you hear about dad?"

"Yes, Liam, the police lady told me everything. Don't do anything rash, okay? He's going to be fine. I'm going down there to take care of everything. They're going to need to transfer your father to a bigger hospital in another city, and..."

"What's the point of it, mom?" Liam choked out. "We fight the bad guys and save the innocent, but when dad gets hurt it's because of some stupid kid I saved a few weeks ago. It wasn't a big fight against evil, it wasn't the final showdown, it was just... a mistake."

"Liam," said his mother firmly. "Calm down. You can't just divide the world into good and evil, okay? It doesn't work that way. Everyone's human, everyone makes mistakes and has good and bad in them. Some people..."

Liam hung up. He knew what he had to do. His mother was wrong. There had to be a way to make things simple. It should be simple. Otherwise the world would fall apart.

He'd tracked down Adam months ago. He found the house easily, a big fancy thing near the sea at the edge of town. He walked up the path through the front lawn, his temples pounding. He'd been too preoccupied with doing things the right way. Why should he let someone he knew was a bad guy just walk around and do nothing? He'd saved a kid, and in return for that he got his father in the hospital in critical condition. Why should he worry about the repercussions of going after Adam? There was only one way to make things work. Make them simple. Fight the bad guys.

Liam didn't wait to find out if the door was locked and pushed it open, making the lock and the doorknob dissolve under his hand. He went through the first door he found, which led him to the living room. Adam Reede sat there by the fireplace, warm and comfortable in his big fancy house.

"Can I help you?" asked Adam, bemused.

"Hello, Adam." Liam picked up a book from the shelf and went over to him. Adam stood up, clearly intending to go to the phone to call the police. Liam blocked his way. "You're going to leave Winter alone. You're going to go away from this city and never come back."

Adam laughed. "Who are you?"

"I'm Liam."

He lifted the book so that Adam could see it. He was so furious that transforming it cost him an enormous mental effort, but he managed to make the covers fold themselves in half, the pages dissolving and trickling out between them in that fine powder that everything turned into. "I can turn anything into evidence. I don't care how careful you've been, but if you don't leave Winter alone the police will find something terribly incriminating somewhere in your house or in your pockets, the next time they pull you over for speeding through a red light or going over the speed limit. You will go to jail, Adam Reede." Liam let the twisted book fall to the floor. "I think you should go as far away as you can, as fast as you can. Don't you?"

Liam left Adam dumbfounded and more than a little frightened. Any sensible person would be frightened. Liam was starting to feel afraid of himself. He walked home, turning over everything in his head, trying to stop being so afraid for his father. What if he didn't get better? What if...?

He sat at the bench in the little park near his house, where he'd sat with Winter a few days ago. He didn't want to think anymore. He leaned back and closed his eyes.

"I know it's hard," came Rowan's voice. He opened his eyes and saw her approaching. She came and sat next to him, sighing.


"The world doesn't make much sense sometimes, does it?" said Rowan.

"How did you find me?"

"I went to your house to tell you something and you weren't there, but I walked by here and saw you."

"What were you going to tell me?"

"Some new evidence has resurfaced regarding the trial of a man named Josh White."

"Never heard of him."

"I haven't gotten to the good part. Apparently they're ordering a retrial. It had something to do with a white-collar crime he'd committed a few years ago, and the verdict was preventing him from leaving the state, accessing all his assets, and something to do with the inheritance. You know who the judge was who issued that verdict? Nelly Pavell."

Liam didn't know what to say. How could Rowan expect him to care about something like that now?

"I know you're more worried about your dad, but if this has something to do with Foxtrot and Fleet Fingers we might be one step closer to catching them. It won't make your dad better, but it'll feel good to catch them just the same, wouldn't it?"

"I guess." He didn't have the energy to wonder what this meant. He was tired of putting things together. He just wanted to go somewhere far away and hide from all his responsibilities. He never wanted to hear the words "Foxtrot" or "Fleet Fingers" again.

"He'll be okay," said Rowan, patting his leg. "Your dad's a tough guy. He'll pull through."


Winter applied another stroke of her brush to the canvas. It didn't feel right. No part of the painting felt right. It looked like a soulless, empty imitation of her other work. She hesitated, and tried another stroke. That didn't make it any better.

The door opened behind her and someone walked in. "Sending your boyfriend to threaten me, Winter? That wasn't a good idea," said Adam.


Thank you for reading! Episode 18 is coming up on Sunday!

Offline alex51299

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Ep 17: Big Bad World
« Reply #94 on: July 04, 2012, 04:47:50 PM »
Oh no, what's Adam going to do to Winter? I hope Liam's dad is ok.
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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Ep 17: Big Bad World
« Reply #95 on: July 05, 2012, 07:22:32 PM »
I hope his dad. Is ok. Adam is such a bad person, I hope he don't hurt Winter.

Offline Sophie98

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Ep 17: Big Bad World
« Reply #96 on: July 06, 2012, 12:54:45 AM »
Please don't let Winter get hurt, she's my favourite.  :(
I hope Liam's dad (is it Paul? I forget) is alright.
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Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Ep 17: Big Bad World
« Reply #97 on: July 08, 2012, 04:25:52 PM »
Oh no, what's Adam going to do to Winter? I hope Liam's dad is ok.
I hope his dad. Is ok. Adam is such a bad person, I hope he don't hurt Winter.
Please don't let Winter get hurt, she's my favourite.  :(
I hope Liam's dad (is it Paul? I forget) is alright.

Thank you everyone. :) I will post episode 18 in a little while.

Offline ApplesApplesApples

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Re: Three Million Empty Words - Ep 18: Elijah's Choice
« Reply #98 on: July 08, 2012, 05:58:58 PM »
Episode 18: Elijah's Choice

Winter turned around to face Adam, clenching her hands into fists. "I told you not to come here anymore, Adam," she said quietly.

He marched over to her. "You sent your boyfriend to threaten me. I didn't like that at all."

"I didn't send him to do anything."

"Why did he come to my house then? How did he know where I lived? You told him. You ruined everything, Winter."

"There was never anything to ruin. I broke up with you a long time ago. I told you I wanted you away from me. All you do is ruin my art."

"I was the one who discovered your talent in the first place," said Adam angrily, leaning closer. "You wouldn't be anything if I hadn't told you that you had talent and helped you develop it. You owe everything to me, Winter. You can't send me away."

"If you don't leave right now I'm going to call the police."

"You won't do that."

Winter licked her lips nervously. He could probably stop her from getting to the phone. "How did Liam threaten you? You seem pretty nervous about whatever it was he said."

"Nothing he could say would be a threat to me. It's annoying, that's all."

"So you came over here to tell me you were annoyed?"

"I can't believe how ungrateful you are. You used to respect me. I taught you more than any school. If it weren't for me..."

"Yeah, yeah. I'd be answering phones or something. You know, Adam..." Winter felt a little braver. Adam was being pathetic. How could she let him frighten her? "You're nothing more than a parasite, and I'm tired of you."

Adam took a step closer, his face contorted in rage, lifting a hand threateningly. Winter backed away into the easel, picking up the first thing she laid her hands on to defend herself: her canvas. She hoisted it up and swung it against Adam. He stumbled over into the kitchen and Winter ran out of the apartment, down the stairs and into the street.

Her heart beat manically. The image of his face as he approached her stayed branded in her mind, and she needed to get away, far away...

She didn't watch where she went, and she bumped into someone. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said.

"Are you okay?"

He offered an arm to get her to her feet. She felt a little unsteady, and maybe somewhat nauseous as well. She blinked in confusion at him, and it took her a moment to place where she knew him from.

"Yeah, I'm okay... it's just that I..." She started crying. "This guy came into my apartment, and I hit him with a canvas, but he..."

"With a canvas? Here, it's okay." He put his arms around her and she rested her head on his shoulder. Liam had told her Elijah was a supervillain and all that, but... why did he make her feel so safe? She'd rather take her chances with him than with Adam.

"Listen, Winter, I'll call the police for you." She pulled back from him as he took out a cell phone and dialed 911. "Yeah, I'd like to report a break-in." He gave the address. Winter worked on steadying her breathing. She hated crying in front of other people, especially relative strangers.

Elijah hung up and put his cell phone away. "Okay, they're coming. Do you want me to take you to the police station?"

"Okay." She didn't think she'd feel particularly safe there; she'd gone lots of times to report Adam, but they were always telling her there was nothing they could do without evidence. If Adam got up and left before the police arrived, would he get away with this, too? Maybe she'd knocked him unconscious. She hoped so. "Just a second. I need to... I have to call my friend." She doubted Elijah would hurt her, and she hated to betray him when he'd been so nice, but Liam and his police lady friend had told her to call them if she saw Elijah again.

Elijah put a hand on her arm, stopping her gently but firmly. "You can do that in the taxi. We need to go now. The taxis stop at the corner over there. Can you walk?"

"Of course I can walk," she snapped, growing more nervous. What was she supposed to do?

"We should hurry, Winter. What if this guy comes looking for you?"

"There you are, you naughty boy," said a voice from Winter's right. A woman approached down the sidewalk toward them.

Elijah closed his eyes tightly for a moment. "Here I am." He opened his eyes again, looking at Winter as though saying "Look what you've done."

Winter could feel her heartbeat accelerating again. This woman matched the description Liam had given her of Foxtrot, Elijah's much more dangerous friend. She really needed to get out of here now.

"You must be Winter," said the woman, coming up to Winter with a sweet smile. "Liam's girlfriend? Liam's a good friend of mine."

"I know who you are," said Winter. "Liam told me all about you."

"Did he? I'm sure he told you how nice I am. Why don't you come over to my house for a while? I really want to get to know you better, since I've heard so much about you."

"No. I'm not going with you. The police are going to be coming here soon, and you can't force me." She didn't know if this was true. How powerful was this chick? Liam had said powerful. But surely Elijah wouldn't let her take her! He'd come to warn her, surely he had!

Foxtrot took Winter's arm and pulled her down the sidewalk at a brisk pace. Winter tried to get her hand out of the woman's grip, but her fingers felt like they were made of steel. She had to follow her or hurt her arm. She looked back at Elijah. He stood there for a moment before coming after them, avoiding her gaze, and falling in step with Foxtrot. Winter ground her teeth together.

They came to an apartment building and Foxtrot pulled Winter inside. They rode the elevator up, Winter trying the whole way to catch Elijah's eye, but he continued to ignore her. When the elevator came to a stop Winter decided she wouldn't be getting any help from him. Obviously, she'd grossly misjudged him.

Foxtrot sat her down in an armchair and took a seat on the couch beside her. The apartment had something strange about it--no windows and no paintings on the walls. Winter could tell that where the wallpaper protruded a little it covered boards that must block doors or windows.

Foxtrot pulled out a pair of handcuffs from her pocket and snapped them around Winter's wrists. Then she took out another pair from another pocket and secured her legs to the feet of the chair. Who carried around two pairs of handcuffs? Winter scowled at her.

"Now we can get to know each other," said Foxtrot pleasantly. She reached into her pocket again. Winter wondered if she would pull out a third pair of handcuffs, but she took out a cell phone instead and pressed a number. Winter could hear the phone ringing. "I'm calling Liam."

"Why? So you can lure him into a trap or something? That's a really dumb plan, you know."

Foxtrot smiled but didn't answer. She pressed a button and put the phone on loudspeaker. A moment later, Liam picked up.

"Hello, who is this?"

"Liam," said Foxtrot. "Long time no see. I'm here with someone I think you know. Winter, would you like to say something to your boyfriend?"

"They're just trying to lure you into a trap, Liam," said Winter.

"Winter, where are you?" asked Liam urgently.

"I'm..." Winter frowned, realizing she couldn't remember where she was. How couldn't she? They hadn't even blindfolded her! She felt a little dizzy, and kind of sick all of a sudden. "I don't know."

"Don't be afraid, Winter. I'm going to find you. Is there anything you can tell me that would help me find you?"

"No, I..." Winter glanced at Foxtrot. Obviously, she would have hung up if she thought Winter could tell him something important. "I can't remember anything. I'm in an apartment building, but... but I'm fine, Liam. Foxtrot wants me to cry or something, probably, to get you into a rescuing mood, right? I'm not afraid," she said defiantly, although it wasn't entirely true. She didn't let it show in her voice, though, and she thought she sounded pretty convincing. "So don't worry about me."

Foxtrot hung up and put away her phone. "That was sweet. Shall we get going then?" she said to Elijah.

Elijah nodded. Foxtrot got up and went across the room, taking out her cell phone again and tapping away on the keys. Elijah looked at Winter.

"I thought you were nice," she said to him. "That whole thing at the supermarket, shouting at the guy who got in front of me in the line and everything... that was just a show to win my confidence and get to Liam, right? Even after Liam told me who you were, I still thought there had to be some good to you. I was so wrong."

"You got told, Fleet," said Foxtrot.

Winter couldn't decipher Elijah's expression. He didn't look like someone who was rubbing it in after having tricked her, though. He shifted slightly, and at the same moment Winter felt something cold in her hand. She closed her fingers impulsively and could feel the shape of a key against her palm.

She didn't dare look down. She knew Foxtrot had an eye on her. Somehow, Elijah had managed to slip her the key without Foxtrot seeing.

Elijah was mouthing something at her. She tried to watch him surreptitiously, so that it didn't look like she was paying too much attention to him.

"Wait until we go." Elijah indicated the door with his eyes.

Winter tightened her grip on the key and blinked to show she understood. But Elijah was already turning away. They would leave soon now, and Winter needed to be ready.

Thank you for reading! Next episode on Wednesday as usual. I hope you enjoyed this episode. ;D

Offline JudesSims

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Three Million Empty Words - Ep 18: Elijah's Choice
« Reply #99 on: July 08, 2012, 08:07:00 PM »
Very intense! I'm enjoying this story. Good job!