Chapter 6.4: The things we knew

Screenshot-68After a few months of research and hard work, Mars had gathered a decent amount of information on vampires. The noteboard in our bedroom was covered with printed pages, post it-notes, pictures and Mars’s own handwriting. There were so many different leads that it was pretty damn hard to figure out what was true and was what not. At least, Mars had figured out a few things that were most likely true, even if it was impossible to know for sure:

  • One becomes a vampire by being bitten by another vampire (well, duh?)
  • Vampires feed on human blood (although we also knew they could feed on plasma)
  • Vampires cannot cross running water (not many sources held this information, but since no vampire has visited our island, we guessed this must be true)
  • Vampires have fangs and pale skin
  • They cannot be out in the open sun for longer periods of time

When it came to information on how to kill a vampire, it was even harder to know what was real and what was not. As far as we knew, not many vampire-killers were known and the ones who claimed they had killed one were always humiliated and mocked on the Internet. However, Mars had found three main strategies for destroying vampires:

  • Burning them
  • Staking them through the heart or mouth (with either a wooden, silver or hawthorne-oiled stake)
  • Decapitation

We knew that we, in order to get rid of the vampires, needed to find out what of this would work, and I think we both hoped it wouldn’t be decapitation. It just seemed like that one would be a bit… messy. But we also agreed that we would do what we had to.

Screenshot-76“I wonder if we could turn one if these sticks in to a stake if we sharpened one of the edges…” I said one Sunday when we had taken just a few hours off from our vampire mission to just hang out. But even when I had a break from actually working on the case, my mind was always drifting towards it.

Screenshot-77“Petite, could we please talk about something other than the vampires some time?” Mars said, clearly annoyed. “I mean, you can of course sharpen a tree stick in one end. It’s not exactly rocket science.”

“Jeez bro, you on your period or something?”

“Shut up” Mars snarled at me. “I’m just getting tired of only talking about that all the time. Could we instead talk about the terrifying fact of me meeting Shamrock’s family tonight?”

Screenshot-79“You are?” I smiled big when I heard what he said. It was really about time that the two of them made their relation official, and I was glad that they had come to that after all this time. Honestly, I didn’t quite understand why they hadn’t already.

“It will be fine, you guys love each other” I continued.

“I’m not so sure…” Mars muttered. “His parents don’t know he’s in to boys, and our parents don’t know that either. Not everyone thinks that’s cool…”

“Well, not everyone thinks vampires exists either and they’re just idiots. Love is love and it’s none of their business if you happen to be two boys or a boy and a girl. If they think otherwise, fudge them!”

Screenshot-81“I’m not convinced they’ll like me more if I tell them to to fudge off…” Mars said and smiled faintly. “No, but really… I actually really like him and I want to make a good impression.”

“Eh, you’ll be fine. Just be yourself, but with a bit less talk about vampires than usual, perhaps. You’re perfect. Everyone likes you.”

Screenshot-82“Dad, did you know that you probably did the exactly right thing when you brought us here?” I said when we had dinner on the porch that night. I had hated our island for many years, but now that I knew it had probably kept us safe for all these years, I felt really thankful.

“It felt right” dad answered. “Or what do you mean?”

“Oh, we just found out that vampires probably can’t cross running water. So we’ve actually been all safe out here. Or, at least we think so.”

“Is that so?” dad didn’t say much more but I could see that something troubled him.

“You’re not happy about it, are you? I’m trying to say thank you here, but you make it hard for me.”

Dad sighed, “You think that is hard? You know nothing about what’s hard. I left everything to get you here, your mother is locked in at a stupid treatment center because she wants to keep us safe, and I left my family and it got my niece killed. We might be safe, but it’s not enough. Nothing will be enough until they’re gone. Nothing.”

Eden didn’t say a thing, he just kept chewing nervously on his hot dog. He rarely said anything, he always managed to keep in the background (which probably wasn’t that hard in this freaky family). It annoyed me that dad got angry at me for saying thank you, and it annoyed me that he thought I didn’t know about hardship. I spent pretty much all my time on trying to overcome the threat that had haunted our family for generations, yet he had the guts to say I didn’t do a thing.

“You’re being so unfair” I said silently. I was so angry that I couldn’t even scream or make a fuss. “I do everything I can to figure out how to beat those things. I hurt from this too and I also miss mom. I don’t find anything in this easy, but I do my best. Why can’t that be enough for you?”

Screenshot-83Dad got silent and I angrily ate without looking at him. However, I could see at the corner of my eye that dad was crying.

“You’re right, that was unfair. I’m sorry” he said after a while. “I just miss her so much. I really want your mother to live here with us. And you just said that she ain’t safe where she is. That none of them are safe on the main island. Right?

“I guess so…” I mumbled.

“And your brother, is he also in danger at the main island tonight, or where is he?”

“On the main island… But hopefully not in danger at all. He’s meeting his boyfriend’s family, is all.” I said it before I thought it through, unveiled his secret with my perfect sense of speaking before thinking.

Screenshot-84“With his boyfriend?” Dad stood up and angrily pushed his chair towards the table so that the plastic legs of the chair bumped in to the table with a loud bump.

“Oh come one” I sighed. “Like it matters if it’s a boy or a girl. He’s in love, you should be happy for him. Now you’re just ridicolous.” It made me so angry to think that dad would care for such a thing. I had always thought of him like an open and accepting parent.

“I don’t fudging care whether it’s a boy or girl” dad snarled. “I only care that there’s anyone at all. Or perhaps you think it’s wise to put someone you love in that danger? The vampires don’t care about love, they only crave blood and death.”

Oh shit. I hadn’t thought about it that way and I don’t think Mars had either. We needed people in our lives that were not just our closest family, but was it really worth risking their lives for? Wasn’t that rather selfish?

Screenshot-89When Mars came home later that night he slammed the front door shut, marched in to our bedroom and slammed that door shut too. Moments later I heard him crying while his fists slammed to the walls of the room. I had never seen my brother so angry before.

“Ey, stop that!” I went up to him and put a hand on his shoulder and when I did he just collapsed in to my arms and cried.

“What happened?” I asked later, when he had calmed down enough to speak. He walked to the window and looked out over the ocean for a few moments before he turned to me slightly:

Screenshot-88“Well that was a fudging mistake. I should have known it was too good to be true. Nothing good ever happens to us. This family is fudging cursed and filled with freaks. We should just let the vampires kill us. Save the world from our presence.”

“Come on, tell me what happened instead, okay?”

Mars took a breath: “Did you know that dad kidnapped a kid before they had us?”

I nodded, they had told us the whole story when we were younger. Why mom was at the treatment center and how they had met there, so we both knew.

“Well, turns out that kid is Shamrock’s older brother, Hunter. Isn’t that convenient? You think his parents were thrilled to see me there?”

“Ouch…”

“Yea, so I guess I won’t be seeing Shamrock anymore.” Tears started rolling down Mars’s cheeks again. “That’s probably for the better anyway, our family is haunted. No one can ever be happy with us in their lives. They’ll just be in danger.”

Screenshot-90I didn’t know what to say. There was nothing I could say. History was what it was, dad had kidnapped that kid when he hallucinated and the family still hated him for it. It was unfortunate and stupid that Mars had fallen in love with their other son. But it didn’t make sense to keep them apart because of something that happened sixteen years ago. And something that Mars or Shamrock hadn’t been part of at all. They deserved to be happy, both of them. But I wondered if they would get their happy end, they sure had a mighty hill to climb first, and I couldn’t know if Shamrock was ready for that. Or Mars, for that matter.

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Chapter 6.3: Hard work

Screenshot-22I took my new mission very seriously and even though I had never really worked out before in my life, I had this idea that my body would immediately cooperate and become strong and powerful. Not without working for it, of course. I spent a lot of time trying to build both muscles, endurance and speed.

Screenshot-24Let’s just say I was wrong…

I had definitely thought it would be easier. I mean, all the sports-dorks at school made it seem so easy. I was so much smarter than them, yet it was incredibly hard for me to master the physical exercise. But, I was determined to succeed, so I kept working on it.

Screenshot-53We spent pretty much all of our time outside school to focus on the vampires and how to get rid of them. Mars scavenged the Internet for every forum thread that had ever been posted about vampires, and he read theoretical texts about the origins of vampires and the different myths surrounding them. It quickly became clear that the majority of berries around the world knew very little about vampires. It also became clear that vampires’ weaknesses and strengths differed a lot depending on what text you read, or what author it was. It would be a lot of work to figure out what was true and what was wrong and I was glad that I had put Mars on that, so that I only had to come with input whenever he needed it.

Mars was a mastermind when it came to doing tables and organizing things. He had put up a noteboard in our room where we gathered the things he had read and he had some kind of system worked out where he could see what things came back in several texts and what things were rare. It didn’t make perfect sense to me, but Mars knew exactly how to read his own work.

Screenshot-52We spent so much time on working with the vampires and getting ourselves ready to face them that many other things fell behind. I just didn’t have time for much else. I even wanted to stop going to school, but dad was already furious because my grades were dropping now that I didn’t have time to do my homework. He just didn’t understand, nothing was more important than my life quest.

“This is not everything, Petite!” he said. “Unless you get your grades up, I won’t let you workout so much.”

“This is everything!” I complained, but he just wouldn’t listen. And I knew then, that I would have to find a way to balance everything.

Screenshot-55Jazzberry had also become disappointed in my priorities. I hadn’t seen him since Cashmere’s death, because I didn’t think I had time to do so.

“We never tried Insomniac. It might help you.” I read Jazz’s message quickly before I got changed for my after-school workout. I had been so wrapped up in myself and my new quest that I had completely forgotten about the new brew we were going to try. And now that he had reminded me, I smiled. He was definitely right; if Insomniac worked, I wouldn’t need to waste time on sleeping and I could manage both working out and homework. It was definitely worth a try.

Screenshot-48When I came in to Jazzberry’s shed I was filled with a warm tinglig feeling. I had missed going here. I always felt happy and exctied when I was here, and it made me a bit sad to think that I had not been here for weeks.

“Let’s try it!” Jazz smiled and it was just as if those weeks when we barely spoke in school didn’t exist. He was still my best friend and he had already forgiven me for abandoning him. I made a mental note that I shouldn’t do it again. My life needed a friend like him.

I followed him back to the cauldron and watched as he threw minced wolfbane in to a already boiling transparent mixture. It crackled and sizzled and the mixture slowly turned in to a bright red colour. It looked poisonous and I remembered how Jazzberry had told me that the flowers we just added to the brew could kill us if we used too much. It was exciting, but scary, to think about soon drinking this for the first time.

Screenshot-49“I missed you” Jazzberry suddenly said while stirring the cauldron. His eyes just barely glanced in my direction and his voice didn’t change tone at all. He said it without any sign of emotion, but I still knew he meant it. And I realized that I had missed him too. I had missed him a lot, actually.

“I’ve missed you too” I said quietly. “I’m sorry. I really am.”

We didn’t say more about it, we didn’t need to because now we both knew that we were friends for real. That awkward beginning our relation had that was based on a pink and fluffy brew, had actually turned in to something real.

Screenshot-54When I came home later that day, Mars sat by the computer as usual. I looked at him and saw that he was tired, his eyes squinted at the screen and underneath them small dark circles had started to appear. I wondered when he latest saw Shamrock, and if they also missed each other behind all this vampire deal.

“There are so many idiots out there” Mars sighed and drew his hand through his hair. He always did that when he was annoyed. “Some things I read make me think we are the stupid ones because we actually believe in the vampires and then I realize that we are right. And these people are so certain that we are the idiots. How can they be so stubborn when they know so little?” He closed the laptop with a thump and sighed loudly.

“Have you seen Shamrock lately?” I asked instead of commenting on what Mars had just said.

“We had maths today.”

“Outside of school, I mean.” They were still not open with their love and the only times I had seen them kiss and hug were at Jazzberry’s place, whenever we took the Fluff Brew.

“Nah. Hadn’t had time” Mars replied and I could hear traces of sadness in his voice.

“Then go see him. We can’t devote all our time to this.”

Screenshot-56Mars never said anything about seeing Shamrock, but a few hours later he walked out the door and left and I was pretty sure he went to see him. It was quiet in the house, dad and Eden had gone to see mom and I decided to try the Insomniac brew. The liquid bubbled inside the small bottle and it felt like my intestines did the same inside my stomach. How could it be so exciting to drink something?

Screenshot-57 Screenshot-58I took a deep breath before drinking the new brew and as soon as I had swallowed it, I felt a rush throughout my body and my brain immediately felt so… alive.

Screenshot-23I changed in to my workout clothes and did a session of about an hour. Dad came home and shouted about homework shortly thereafter and I promised to complete them before I continued my workout. While dad read Eden goodnight, I took a quick shower and ate. Even though it was late afterwards, I still felt much awake and I knew I could stay up for hours more.

Mars got home and went straight to bed, and dad went to bed too. “Don’t forget your homework” he said.

Screenshot-59I struggled with homework in the middle of the night, but when I was done I still had energy for another workout. I realized that night that the Insomniac Brew would give my days another 10 hours, which meant I would have time for both school, vampire preparations, seeing Jazzberry and homework. This was revolutionary!

Screenshot-61A few weeks later it was time for Eden’s birthday. It was strange because I really loved my little brother, but I never really spent any time with him. Perhaps it was because me and Mars were so close that Eden ended up being rather alone. Perhaps it was because he was younger. I don’t know why, but I knew very little of my brother and I found myself surprised at the fact that her would become a teenager. My little baby brother would soon go through his first love, his first heartbreak and he would gain friends who made him do both fun and stupid things. He was about to grow big.

We decided to host a little party for him, and I invited Jazzberry to come celebrate the day together with our family. I suggested that Mars invited Shamrock too, but he wasn’t ready for that.

Screenshot-62 Screenshot-63Jazzberry came and were his regular goofy self. “I know it’s not your birthday, but I brought you flowers anyway” he smiled and jokingly fluttered his eyelashes up and down. I went along with the little game and let out a surprised little scream: “Oh Jazzie, you shouldn’t have! Oh, they’re beautiful!” And then we both laughed. I was glad that he was back in my everyday life.

Screenshot-65When it was time for Eden to blow the candles of the cake we all gathered and cheered for him. It was nice when we could have gatherings like this when no one thought about vampires, even if Lavender was unable to make it due to anxiety after what happened to Cashmere. So I guess that worry was still there, but it was overshadowed by joy and happiness for the birthday celebration.

Screenshot-66It was strange to see my little brother all grown up. I could definitely see him breaking a few hearts in the coming years, and I actually looked forward to seeing it. It was exciting with birthdays and time passing. I liked thinking about our family moving forward, because it meant we have lived through the vampire threat. Nothing made me happier.

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