This hadn’t been how he’d imagined his life would go. He’d graduate, get a job in the art industry and maybe find a nice woman to settle down with. The first two points had been accomplished quickly enough, but the third… well, he’d be lucky if that ever happened now.
An unearthly wailing came from the room next to his, and he leapt up and sprinted over to the source of the noise. Someone might hear if he wasn’t quick enough.
“Shhhhh… ” he whispered frantically, glancing around for any neighbours that might have been close enough to hear through the closed window.
Had this been a normal baby boy, Forrest would have had nothing to worry about. Single dads weren’t as unusual nowadays as they had been, say, a century ago. But this baby was decidedly abnormal, and its cries seemed to be at a frequency that could even travel through the triple glazing he’d had installed.
He picked up the boy in his arms and rocked him, keeping his back to the window and sighing with relief as the crying turned to quiet whimpers. When at last the baby was asleep again, he returned it to the cradle.
It was almost cute when sleeping. Still, what would happen when people found out about them? He shuddered and quietly left the room, muffling the sound of the door as it shut.
He needed some fresh air.
“Mind if I join you?”
Forrest jumped. He’d been lost in his own thoughts for a while, just gathering inspiration. However, he thought as he looked at the woman who’d startled him, he didn’t mind anywhere near as much as he should have.
“I didn’t mean to scare you. I’ve not seen you around before, and I wanted to say hello. We don’t get many people moving in around here.”
“That’s why I picked it, actually. My name’s Forrest Nugent. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Sarah Evans. Nice to meet you too.”
They sat together in the grass for a while, chatting about everything and anything. Well, almost everything. He returned to his home with a smile, only to have it fall as the front door was slammed shut by a strong breeze. The crying started again, as he’d known it would.
It didn’t matter how much he liked Sarah. She wouldn’t be brought into this.
Sarah had other ideas, he soon found out. The first time she’d shown up at his door, he’d been surprised but pleased. He’d managed to keep the conversation outside thanks to the little garden area he’d had built when he’d commissioned the house, even though she’d given him a strange look when he wouldn’t let her go inside to get a drink. He’d brought her one, and she’d smiled her thanks, but he could see the question in her eyes.
The next time she arrived, it was raining. She’d turned up in her sundress, soaked to the skin and shivering. He’d ushered her in without a second thought, only realising what he’d done once she’d headed into the shower to warm up. He ran into the baby’s room, sighing with relief as he realised that the boy was still asleep. He was getting less fussy as time went on, thankfully. He stepped out and closed the door. Hopefully his luck would last until she was gone.
Sarah looked around her. The place was just as cosy on the inside as it had looked from the out.
She wasn’t too sure about Forrest sometimes. He was obviously keeping secrets, and there was a definite edge to his personality, but looking around at the comfortable furniture and warm tones she felt reassured. You could learn a lot about someone from the way they lived, especially when they hadn’t had time to clear up. If he was anything like her surroundings hinted, then it was worth the risk. She liked him a lot, as a friend and maybe, one day, something else.
The rain had stopped.
They met more frequently now. He wasn’t exactly a difficult man to find, he’d realised. It wasn’t like he could go far from the house.
Sometimes they spent whole afternoons outdoors, basking in the warm sun and watching the butterflies as they fluttered by before the fireflies came out, which would signal the arrival of the evening.
Sometimes they would spend the time inside instead. Forrest was careful to only do this when the baby was in a good mood or asleep. He’d lock the door behind him, thankful that he’d chosen the same design for the room as he had the front and back doors. It was thick and heavy, muffling most of the sounds from inside the room. It would be quiet enough that he’d be able to pass off the noise as something else until he could calm the boy down.
Sometimes, he felt guilt at his actions. It wasn’t the boy’s fault that he was… well, different. There was something that had stopped Forrest from simply sending him away, though. He was ashamed to admit, even to himself, that it was loneliness.
Despite all the changes in his life, Forrest’s painting career flourished. Whilst he had picked the location for its lack of other sims, it definitely helped him remain focused on his work.
The area was beautiful, it was quiet and very few people even knew that it was there.
There was, however, one exception.
Not that he minded.
Sarah loved to paint almost as much as he did, and her company inspired him. They would sometimes work for hours together in a comfortable silence, just painting. He loved having her around, but a small voice in the back of his mind kept reminding him that he shouldn’t let her get too close. She couldn’t find out about him. It was hard to remember that warning when she smiled, or when she stepped close to admire the detail he was working on, or when they had dinner together.
He’d let his guard down so slowly he hadn’t realised it had happened at all.
“No, seriously, you have to see this!” Sarah said, reaching for her phone only to find that she’d left it in her bag.
“You can show me later, if you like?”
“No way, this cat video can’t wait. Not even for this delicious spaghetti. I’ll just go and get my phone, it’s only in the hallway.”
She found her bag by the front door where she’d left it and began to rummage through it. Her hand closed on the object and she let out a triumphant “A-ha!” as she pulled it out, victorious.
She’d been about to head back when she heard a small sound that she couldn’t place. She stood still, alert and listening. There it was again. It was coming from the one room that she’d never been allowed in. Forrest had told her that it was storage, and that he kept it locked because he didn’t want anything to fall on her. She’d been sceptical, but hadn’t thought much about it after that. It was just a bunch of old boxes and material.
But boxes and materials weren’t alive, whereas the source of the sound definitely was. It sounded like crying, and if it was then she couldn’t just leave.
She tried the handle, surprised when the door creaked open. Maybe he’d forgotten to lock it.
“Oh…” she thought as she fell to her knees. She hadn’t been prepared at all, and she crumpled to the floor in a faint as the sounds of distorted crying faded into nothing.
Forrest paced the floor, terrified. He’d managed to stop the baby from crying, but Sarah was there. Sarah knew his secret. She stirred, and he braced himself for the worst. She would tell everyone that he was harbouring an alien in his house, and that would be that.
She’d be sickened by him. Everyone knew what the aliens were like – what they did to sims. He would be shunned, and they would take the child away for experiments. Was it too late to send him back to his planet? He’d done nothing to deserve a lifetime as a lab specimen.
Sarah was sickened by him, but not for the reasons he expected.
“How could you treat a baby like that?! Locking him up in a room for hours on end.”
Forrest looked at the angry twist of her mouth and tried to take in the words. She was actually… concerned for the child?
“It was to protect him, I just-”
“Protect him?! You’re lucky I don’t call child services.”
“I never locked the door, honest! And-”
“Don’t you dare give me excuses! I’ve had it with you. If you can do this, you’re obviously not the man I thought you were. All the while you were talking and laughing with me, and this baby was alone and ignored.”
She turned on her heel and slammed out of the house, fury radiating from her in waves.
He didn’t see her again for many months, but he often found baby supplies on his doorstep. He knew that no matter how angry she was with him, she wouldn’t let his baby suffer because of it.
How had he misjudged her so badly?
The year was nearing its end when he found her again. She was sitting in the grass by the stone triangle, so still she seemed almost to be made of the same material.
He was tempted to go back inside and leave her in peace, but he had missed her sorely. He knew that she would probably hate him forever, but he wanted to explain to her why he had done it. No excuses, just the truth.
She looked around at the sound of his footsteps, and her serenity turned to anger as she stood to face him.
“How’s the child?”
Straight to the point. He liked that about her, even now when it was being used against him.
“He’s fine, thank you. He’ll be able to walk soon. Thank you for the baby clothes and toys, he loves them.”
“Well it was obvious you weren’t going to buy them.”
He winced. Ouch.
“I don’t expect you to forgive me, but will you let me explain my actions? You can decide for yourself what to make of my reasons, but I can’t bear the thought of you believing that I’m a monster.”
She was tempted to leave him standing there, but she didn’t. She still couldn’t bring herself to believe accept that the man she had known had been a complete fabrication.
“You have two minutes, then I’m leaving.”
He took a deep breath and began, the words tumbling out as fast as he could think them.
“I was abducted three years ago. It was late autumn, and I was on my way home after work. I remember seeing a strange light and looking up, and then… nothing. I woke up dazed and confused on the ground, and I managed to get home. I thought I’d dreamt it until my stomach started to glow. I moved out of my home and into a caravan before anyone found out. They knew I was a ‘strange artist type’ so my neighbours didn’t think much of it.
When I gave birth, I looked into my child’s face and I wanted to cry. I’d been hoping that I’d be able to go back with my child and a story about adoption, but I knew that wasn’t possible. Still, I didn’t want to send him back to his people. He was my son.
We moved out here, and I kept him hidden. I didn’t want anyone finding out about him. I know the reputation his kind have, but he’s an innocent. I didn’t want them taking him and using him as a lab rat.
I’m not going to say that was my only reason for not telling you, but it was my main one.”
Sarah looked at him, studying his body language before nodding and turning away down the road.
“I’ll bring him some baby shoes if he’s going to be walking soon. ”
Forrest looked up, a flicker of hope in his eyes. He couldn’t see her face, but the set of her shoulders seemed more relaxed than they had before.
“I’ll introduce you properly if you’d like?”
She stopped for a moment. “What’s his name?”
She smiled slightly. “I’ll bring the shoes on Monday.”
Things hadn’t improved between them immediately. The trust had to be rebuilt and changes made. The crib moved out of the spare room and into the living room so that August would have company, and Sarah visited most days. At first it had been to keep an eye on August’s well-being, but once she was sure he was being treated well she didn’t stop.
A year later, they started dating. They took the relationship slowly, not wanting to make a mess of it by rushing into things. They’d been together for two years before she moved in, and Forrest could say that he’d never been happier. He was planning on waiting a while before proposing, but he couldn’t. He popped the question a week later, and, apparently fed up of taking things slowly, she said yes.
“Dad, do we have any more cherry red acrylic?”
“It’s in the box behind the sofa, do you want me to get it?”
“No, I can do it!”
Sarah turned from her canvas to smile at her husband. “We’re going to need to go shopping again soon, aren’t we?”
“I think so, yeah.”
He sat down at his table, humming happily as he continued his painting. This would be his best one ever, he just knew it.
Forrest was glad that he’d followed their example. They couldn’t send him to school, so the fact that he was so easily occupied was a blessing. He had looked into it once, but there were non-sims at any of the local schools. The nearest he’d found was a rumour of a half-alien at a school near Newcrest, but that was in an entirely different country. He didn’t have the money to relocate the family, especially not on hearsay.
“Mum! Dad! Look!”
“It’s lovely, August. You really captured the spirit of the…” she looked over at Forrest and mouthed the word “llama?” at him. He shrugged. “… llama in your colour choices.”
“Thanks mum! I’m going to put it up on my wall” he said, and ran to his room with the painting in his hands.
“That boy’s going to run out of wall, soon.”
“Don’t worry about it. By that point he’ll look at his earliest ones and think ‘Wow my new ones are so much better’ and take them down.”
“What? You know it’s true. It happens to all artists.”
Sarah looked at her own painting critically. “You’re right though, they are much better now.”
She grinned at him as August re-emerged from his room.
“Dad? Do we have any glitter?”
August loved the garden. He was only allowed in it at night, but that was the way it had always been. He was sure other children were the same at their houses.
It was relaxing out here, with the leaves rustling and the smell of the flowers. He yawned, rubbed his eyes and stood up.
He stopped in the living room to say goodnight to his parents before returning to his room.
Tomorrow he’d try the watercolours.
Sarah woke in the middle of the night, nauseous and uncomfortable. She barely made it to the bathroom before her stomach emptied. Had it been something she ate? She went to the sink to brush her teeth when a thought hit her. It couldn’t be, could it?
She’d wait until morning to tell Forrest. He’d be thrilled.
“Sarah? Are you ok?”
She grinned before letting him in. Perhaps she wouldn’t wait after all.
“I’ve got great news!”
He looked from her glowing face to the item in her hand, a myriad of emotions flickering across his face. Thankfully it settled on excitement.
“That’s amazing! I’m so happy. I’m sure August will-”
They stopped and looked at each other. August. They had no doubt that he’d be a great big brother, but he’d be much harder to keep from public knowledge.
Sarah’s face fell, and tears dripped down her face.
“What are we going to do?”
It was a question that wasn’t easily answered.
The children would be registered, and therefore would have to go to school. They’d managed to keep August home purely because he didn’t officially exist, but once he saw his siblings going out and about, he’d start to question why he wasn’t able to.
The routine that had kept them all together would be thrown into disrepair. Even if by some chance August didn’t mind, what was to stop one of the twins from mentioning him in passing to their friends? All it would take would be an overheard word and the whispers would start. They wouldn’t be able to bring any friends home. They would be bullied.
Sarah had fallen into despair. She wanted her babies, truly, but with all the worries they were bringing she couldn’t find it in her to be excited. This should have been a happy time for them all, but instead it was a time of fear.
“I’ll keep looking, there has to be an example of it working out somewhere.”
“You’ve read almost every book in that library, Forrest. Do you really think they have the answer?”
“I can’t stop trying.”
This place had become as familiar to him as his own home in the last few months.
There still wasn’t any sight of a solution. All he asked for was one instance of an alien child being raised successfully in a sim family. Just one.
The books only held tales of alien abductions, crimes and lack of morality. There was even an article pasted into this one about aliens taking sims from their homes and eating them. He’d have been able to understand if this had been a fiction book, but it wasn’t. People actually believed this.
He let the book fall to the floor with a thump, earning him a glare from the librarian. He picked up the book, brushed the dust off it and returned it to the shelf.
Maybe the internet would serve him better. He hadn’t ever been very technologically adept, and it had been years since he’d used a computer but it was worth a shot.
Conspiracy sites, science fiction authors and even a link to a film review website filled the first page of results. The second had a few simipedia articles, another conspiracy site, a news piece about a spooky day party gone awry and… a gossip site?
Clearly the internet wasn’t feeling helpful today. What did he care if Newcrest had a person with pink hair wandering about planting things. It wasn’t going to help his problems.
Another day ended, and his hope faded further every time he left the library without an answer. What were they going to do?
“Will they be here soon?”
Sarah smiled as she looked at the innocent joy on the boy’s face. He was really looking forward to not being an only child. He knew that they wouldn’t look like him, as they would have a different birth mother, but he loved them anyway. He’d teach them all the cool glitter combinations and where to catch the best frogs.
“Another month or so, then they’ll be here.”
“And I can play with them?”
“Not right away, they’ll be too little. When they’re a bit older, then you can.”
The door clicked open and August ran towards it.
“Dad, dad! The babies will be here in a month!”
Forrest thanked his habit of putting on a cheerful face before entering. It wouldn’t do to worry the child.
“Is that so?”
Sarah looked at him, the sadness on her face quickly hidden by a smile as August turned back to her. “I’m going to go and get some more crystals. Babies like shiny things, right?”
Without waiting for an answer he ran into his room, emerging again in his normal clothes before running out the door.
Sarah looked at Forrest, her heart breaking at the look in his eyes.
They walked into the bedroom and sat down, the silence heavy instead of the comfortable kind they had grown used to in their relationship.
“What are we going to do?”
“I really don’t know.”
They were getting ready for bed when he finally brought up the thought that had been in his mind.
“Sarah? There is one option we have.”
She looked up, hope on her face. He hated having to let her down.
“When August was born, there was a note left in the crib that appeared. It left instructions.”
“On how to send him back to his own planet.”
She burst into tears.
“No, not that.”
“I don’t want it either, but it’s the only way our children can have a normal life.”
“But he’s our child, too.”
She looked over at him and saw that he was crying, too.
“Don’t for one moment think I want to do this, but if it’s the only way…?”
There was no reply.
Two weeks later, in the exact same places they had been, he heard her say “Is it really the only way?”
It was as if the conversation had never ended, and really it never had. It had been unspoken between them, but always there.
She closed her eyes and nodded once, tears falling onto her lap.
“Maybe he’ll be happier with his own kind” Forrest said, forcing a weak smile to his face.
He nodded, trying to convince himself. “Yeah.”
“They’ll be back soon! Are you sure I can’t stay up?”
“It’s nine-thirty already, way past your bedtime. They’ll be here in the morning.”
“Sleep well, son.”
“Love you, dad.”
Was this really for August’s benefit, he wondered, or was it for him? Was this selfless or selfish?
He pressed unfolded the paper, and began to follow the instructions. It was selfish, but along with all the pain and grief, there was relief, too. This would no longer be a problem.
He completed the final step, and he saw the light surround the house. It was done.
August tossed and turned in his bed. It was cold, had he kicked the blankets off? He reached down with his eyes still shut, but found nothing. He grunted in annoyance and felt around, his face creasing in confusion as he realised that he was lying on top of them.
He opened his eyes, and his heart skipped a beat. This wasn’t his home. He closed his eyes again and pinched himself, certain that he was dreaming.
He wasn’t dreaming. He slid off the bed and looked through the glass walls surrounding him.
What was this place? He’d never seen anything like it in his life.
A voice came from behind him, speaking a language that he didn’t know. He turned and gasped, pressing himself against the walls as the woman moved closer. She stopped, seeing that he was frightened, and tried talking to him again. Did he not know any Sixan at all? They’d left a phrasebook under the crib, maybe the sims had hidden it from him. She racked her brains and tried to recall her simlish lessons from school.
“Hello. You are awake now?”
He wasn’t sure if he was more or less terrified now he could understand her. Had she read his mind and taken his language from it?
She sighed and waited for him to calm down, this would be a lot easier to explain when he stopped hyperventilating.
He looked at her suspiciously. He didn’t think she meant him any harm, but maybe that was how they got you. He walked around to the other side of the bed and sat down, facing her. This way he’d see her coming.
“I am Felicia. Welcome home. You were away longer than many, I congratulate you.”
“This isn’t my home” August said, his eyes widening.
“Yes, it is. We are the same, we will look after you.”
“My parents will worry when they see that I’m gone, you have to send me back. My mum’s bringing my brother and sister home, I want to meet them.”
“Your parents sent you here.”
His blood ran cold. “You’re lying.”
“I do not lie.”
“They wouldn’t do that, they’re my parents – they love me!”
Felicia moved to sit down next to him, and he scooted down the bed to the other end. This was why she hated her job. With the babies she had no trouble at all, but the late returners were a different matter. Luckily they were rare.
“Send me back right now!”
“You took me, just reverse it. I want to go home. I want my dad!” he was yelling now, but it was more out of fear than anger. His voice cracked and he felt tears well up in his eyes.
“I want to go home… please…”
She felt like crying. There was nothing she could do – they’d asked for him to be taken. They didn’t want him back.
“I am sorry. This is now your home” she said, putting on a brave face. “You will like it here, I am certain.”
“I don’t want to like it here.”
She sighed. “You should get dressed, you will catch a cold in those clothes.”
He clutched his jacket around himself protectively. “No.”
“You may keep them with you, but if you wear them you will be ill. Please put on a-” she racked her brain for the word, and upon failing to find it she simply gestured down at her own clothing.
August wanted to protest, but the words died on his lips. He was stuck here, at least for now. If he followed their rules, they might let their guard down enough for him to escape.
“Perfect. Now, I will introduce you to new your new father.”
He didn’t want a new dad, he wanted his old one. Who would play with his baby brother and sister if he wasn’t around? Who would give them the crystals he’d found for their room?
Felicia led him down the stairs to the planet surface. If not for the circumstances, he would have loved this place – it was beautiful. But it was also quiet, and dark. And lonely.
“There he is. Do you want me to walk with you?”
“No. I see him.”
Felicia watched him walk off, shoulders slumped and feet dragging. She wished there was more she could do.
He made his way towards the man who was waiting for him. The man looked like him. He supposed it should have made him feel more at ease, but he longed to see a sim in this place. He’d grown up around them, and in his heart he was one.
The man raised his hand in greeting, calling out a few words in that same, strange language. When he saw the confusion on the boy’s face, he switched over instantly.
“You must be August. I am Orvix – my wife is your mother. We have more children, but you will have your own room. Would you like to look around here first, or go home?”
His ears pricked up at the words ‘go home’, but then he realised that the alien meant his new home, not his real one.
Orvix looked at him with sympathy. The boy was obviously still adjusting. It might be best to head back right away.
“Come with me. Are you hungry?”
He shook his head, but his stomach chose that moment to grumble, giving him away. Orvix smiled. “I am a good cook, we will fix that.” With those words, he led his son to his new home. They would make him feel welcome, and he would learn some Sixan soon enough. Once he was settled into school and had made friends, he would feel better.
August looked up at his house. His house. It had been ten years since he’d arrived on this planet, and he’d be starting his first job soon. It had felt right to move out.
He climbed the steps and looked out over the landscape. It was beautiful, but it still wasn’t home. He’d tried to forget his old life, he really had, but he could help the feeling that his parents had made a mistake. What if they hadn’t meant to send him away – they couldn’t read Sixan, it could have been simple miscommunication. And soon he’d be able to fix it.
He opened the door and breathed in the scent of the trees. That was one thing he did like. Almost all the structures on the planet were alive. Sixans had a symbiotic relationship with many of the plants that grew around them. In return for regular care and company, the trees would allow them to build and live among their branches. It meant that the living spaces were small, but it worked for them. After all, you could build different sections of the house on different branches. That was how his birth mother’s home had worked. 15 rooms, scattered through one huge tree and connected by ladders. His was a more modest two rooms, but it had everything he needed.
He sat down on the sofa and ran through his plan once more in his head. He had to know the truth.
“Hello? Anyone there? August, I know you’re there because I can see you through that massive window you’re sitting in front of. Now open up, I brought you a house-birth present.”
August rolled his eyes and stood up, walking to the door. It was Felicia. Once he’d started to understand Sixan, he’d been surprised at how much of her personality had been lost in translation. They’d become good friends, despite that shaky start and the age difference.
“Come in. Are you hungry? I haven’t tried cooking anything here yet, but there’s no time like now.”
“Food would be great. I’ll have whatever you’re having.”
He wandered around, finding his way around the kitchen easily. He was used to the dark, now, and he could see as clearly as he ever had in the sunlight back home. He busied himself with the food preparation as Felicia looked around.
“Where would you like this?” she said, waving her present in front of her. It was a book, as far as he could see, though it was unlike any Sixan books he had come across.
“How about on the table over there? I’ll have a look once my hands aren’t covered in batter.”
“I hope you’ll like it.”
“I’m sure I will” he said, smiling at her as he poured the mix into the pan. It was a special day, so he was treating them to some vegetable pancakes. It would make a nice change from all the sweet things they normally ate – savoury foods were hard to come by. Most of the edible things on the planet were naturally sugary.
They sat down and ate, enjoying the taste.
“You’re not a bad cook, you know?”
“Thanks. I’ll try to ignore the surprise in that statement and just take it as a compliment, yeah?”
“It was meant as a compliment.So, your new job starts in a week. I’m surprised that you wanted to join a pollination team.”
“I’m just the pilot’s navigator.”
“Still, it’s a surprise. I would have thought you would want to stay as far away from them as possible.”
“Why would I want to stay away?”
“It’s just, after everything that happened. It took ages for you to move past it. You… have moved past it, right?”
August looked down at his hands. “Do you promise not to tell anyone what I’m about to tell you? It’s a secret.”
Felicia looked at him, dread in her eyes. “You haven’t given up, have you?”
She sighed, hoping she wouldn’t regret it. “I promise.”
“I’m going back. I’m going to wear my disguise and see my family again. If they still miss me, I’m going to stay.”
“August, I don’t think that’s a good-”
“Please, Felicia. I have to know. They loved me, I know they did. I still love them. I really don’t think they meant to send me away. I have a brother and sister there and I still haven’t met them.”
Her heart broke again as she heard the emotion behind his words. What had these sims done to inspire such loyalty from him? She knew he wasn’t going to like what he would find, but he wouldn’t rest until he’d learnt it for himself. He was a teenager still, and stubborn as anything. All she could do would be to wait for him to return.
He would return.
House locked? Check.
No one checking the experimental portal? He looked around before turning it on. Check.
Co-ordinates set? Fingers crossed.
It was still in development, but he couldn’t wait. He took a deep breath and stepped through.
He landed twenty miles outside of Windenburg, but it could have been a lot worse. Luckily he’d been near a main road, so he’d managed to hitch-hike the rest of the way. He would stop at his old home, first. It was best to check that they still lived here before making any decisions.
It was taller than when he’d last seen it, but everything else was the same. The easel, the well full of flowers, the planters that still had nothing in them and probably never would… he wasn’t sure why his dad had bothered with them, to be honest.
He was home.
He wouldn’t just walk up to the door and knock, he’d try to observe them out and about first, instead of standing around like a creep. That would be a terrible first impression. Now, if he had two young children, where would he go?
He’d never been allowed out this far as a kid. In fact, he’d never been allowed out during the day at all, not even in the garden. Still, the fact that a place like this existed meant that it wasn’t the normal way for children to be raised after all.
He was at the park, and he’d never seen so many sims in one place. He’d never seen so many sims at all. He’d only ever seen his mum and dad. That struck him as strange, too, all of a sudden.
Had they been… ashamed of him? Did they not want anyone else to see him?
He shook the thoughts away and made his way to the railings overhanging the docks. There was a beautiful view from here. Maybe he’d try to paint it. People wouldn’t think he was lurking if he was doing something productive. Besides, he’d be able to keep an eye out for them this way.
He hadn’t done anything like this since his drawing table back in the house. He hadn’t had time on Sixam for art, especially when he was so far behind others his age in everything else. He’d had a whole language to learn before he’d even been able to start lessons with the other children. It had taken all his concentration and about eight of the ten years he’d lived there to catch up enough to graduate on time.
He looked at the sketch critically. It wasn’t very good. Still, he’d get better with practice, and he had all the time in the world.
They didn’t miss him. He’d never seen his parents so happy. They were carefree, running around and playing and laughing with their other children. They’d never been that way with him.
Had they really loved him, or had he just been a burden? A problem to be solved. Maybe he’d just been a practice for their real children, and once they were on the way they didn’t need him anymore. Maybe they hadn’t wanted his kind mixing with them.
He didn’t belong here. He’d been a fool to think that they could have cared for someone like him. They had sent him away, and they were happier for it.
He couldn’t remember how he got back to Sixam, it was all a blur. Felicia had tried to talk to him, but with no success. He’d just stood there, face blank and shaking. She’d gone inside to get him a blanket and he’d started to run, ignoring her calls as he tried to get as far away as he could. He stopped at the cliff edge and burst into tears.
They weren’t silent tears, they were loud, wrenching sobs that left him breathless and exhausted.
All this time he’d been holding onto the hope that he could go back to them, back to his normal life. He’d been a fool.
Sims didn’t care about anyone who wasn’t like them, not really. They would put on a brave face and pretend, then throw you away when something better came along. Children they didn’t want to hide from the world. Ones they weren’t ashamed of.
He disabled his disguise and looked out over the waterfall, taking in the wide expanse of rock formations and glowing liquid that made up the landscape. This was his home now. It always was, and always would be.
They couldn’t hurt him anymore.
August started his job on schedule, as if nothing had happened. He seemed colder, but he was efficient enough that his team left him to it. Sometimes he would make changes to their planned visits, taking them to different areas of the planet instead, or certain families. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to this – however he was the navigator, and they couldn’t do much about it.
He did have his reasons. He researched the sims before they were taken, making sure that they were the kind to send children back as soon as they were born. He didn’t want anyone else going through what he did, not through the actions of his team, at least.
Five years later, he was assigned to a new crew. This crew had a mission, and their destination was Newcrest. They’d received a signal from someone there, and had found more than they’d bargained for. A Sixan-Sim hybrid. This would be their second visit.
He’d taken one look at the man and all the walls he’d put up began to crumble. There he was, with a smile on his face – living the life August had once dreamt of. He hated him. He knew it was envy, but it lit his blood on fire. This man had everything, and he had no idea.
It was seeing her that did it. He felt like a child again, watching his parents work in the warmth of their house as the smell of paint filled the air. He sighed and walked away, hoping to leave the stab of homesickness behind. He wasn’t going to put himself through that again.
Or so he’d said. Yet here he was, sat in front of the computer. He typed the name ‘Forrest Nugent’ and clicked search.
Forrest Nugent, famous surrealist, dies at age 62
He clicked the link and skimmed the article, looking for information on the others.
His wife, Sarah Nugent (56), lives with their two children in Windenburg. Ariel Nugent is already expected to follow in her father’s footsteps, with work in galleries across the country already. Samuel Nugent, whilst not going into the family business, has shown great promise as an up-and-coming rugby player. Whilst he will be sorely missed by those around him, his legacy lives on through both his work and his family.
He wasn’t sure how to feel about that. His dad was dead. He looked at the picture that came with the article, and was surprised when it brought a slight smile to his face. It was Forrest, Sarah and two teenagers who must be their children. They were smiling and laughing. The boy was throwing a ball at his sister, whilst his parents were trying to keep it away from the food spread on the mat. He wasn’t sure why they were eating outside, but they all looked so… loving.
A tear dripped onto his hand and he wiped his eyes hastily. He didn’t notice the door opening behind him.
“August, what are you doing?”
He closed the browser with an innocent look. “Me? Nothing.”
Thalia raised an eye-ridge before moving on. She’d find out eventually.
“I got some blueprints from Cassandra for a cloning device” she said, looking down at him. “Want to try them out when we get back?”
He noticed the finished artwork as he left the house.
It really was beautiful. He looked at the name in the corner. H. Samson
He wouldn’t mind seeing more of her work one day. Even if she was a sim.