Saturday, February 28, 2009

Silly Filter


Or Heaven?

I took Lucy's advice to heart, and the next morning I got up and got another job. Feeling sorry for myself wasn't doing any good, so I decided to do something that would. And a job seemed like the the first order of business.

I had to start out at the bottom, as a test subject, but hey... there's nowhere to go but up, right? On the bright side, I was meeting new people.

And seeing people that I'd like to meet... Holy Moses! It must be jelly, 'cuz jam don't shake like that...

Speaking of meeting people, my friend Lucy had a friend that she set me up with. Her name is Sierra. Part of me wishes Lucy wasn't already taken... but, Sierra...

She's everything I could have hoped for. Sweet, shy, intelligent...

Did I say shy? Hrrrm. Regardless, I feel the need to keep pinching myself.

Sierra and I dated for a while, and every time I saw her I was even more convinced that she was perfect.

I finally scraped together my courage (and my cash) to buy a ring and ask her to make me the happiest man alive.

Thankfully, she said yes.

I couldn't believe how lucky I was. This beautiful girl had said she would marry me...

Isn't she perfect?

She didn't waste any time, either. She immediately got a job and started working.

And life goes on. I've been getting steady promotions at work.

And I'm keeping up with my studies

and networking. I'm determined to make it to the top of my career and win the Simmel Prize for scientific discovery. Yes, things are going really well.

Except... what the heck happened to my house? Shack. Lean-to... This is none of those things, but I'm at the right address.

As soon as I got inside, Sierra took me back to the bedroom (new!) and told me that she'd had the house built. My perfect girl had apparently been quietly saving her waitress tips for years for when she got married. Who knew?

Things were so wonderful... I didn't know how they could get better. Well... maybe finishing our house would help. Heh. I can't complain, but Sierra's nest-egg got us walls, but not much else. We have very little furniture, and none of the rooms are finished. We figured we'd work on improvements together, one day at a time.

I was a little worried, though... Sierra was eating CONSTANTLY. She got tired quickly, too. About the time I started to genuinely wonder if she was sick

she told me that we were expecting an addition to the Schmoe family. I guess things can get better!

Here's a shot of me saying hello to the little tyke. I wonder if we'll have a boy or a girl?

I was hoping I could hear a heartbeat... but apparently she's not that far along.

I am a happy man...

Who is worried sick. My poor baby is always tired...

and always hungry. She hasn't been sick in the mornings, thank god, but I still worry. The pregnancy's been really hard on her. Oh! Check out this new gadget. That's our Thinking Man's Cap - I'm testing the prototype. It helps with knowledge retention, thus increasing the rate that you learn new skills - it cuts out the repetitive necessity of drilling bits of knowledge into your head by rote memory. Read it or do it once, the knowledge sticks. Very cool, eh?

Before I knew it, it was time! God, I hate seeing her in pain like this. "
Breathe, baby, breathe!"

"That's it, you can do it! Short, quick breaths! Now, push!"

And then it was done. My son was born... Cameron Schmoe!

The next day, I got Sierra a car so she could run into town if she needed to while I was at work. I didn't feel right with her and Cam being in the house with no transportation. What if there was an emergency?? I have to confess, too, I'd always wanted a car. Ever since I was in high school...

I wanted to be the cool kid with the pretty girl in the fast, souped-up car.

I know this car isn't fast, nor is it souped-up, but Sierra still made me feel like the cool guy at school...

Yep. The two most important people in the world. Sierra and Cameron.

Life is good.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm In Aych-Ee-Double Hockey Sticks...


Well... *gulp*

I've just arrived on the plot of land that was given to me as part of my indenture. Seems strange that I'd be given land when I'm working off debt to my parents, but I guess it will all be explained at some point.

Pop took out the last of his savings to get me a new suit. I told him he shouldn't, seeing as how we didn't know when the first check would arrive from the gentleman that made the indenture offer... but nothing having. Pop has always felt that first impressions are important, and he said he didn't want me looking like something the cat dragged in. So, here I am in my new suit, ready to make a new start.


Several people showed up to welcome me to the neighborhood. That's Wanda Tinker in the hideous pink dress, Kaylynn Gentry, and then the guy I'm talking to is Gilbert Jacquet. I've no idea who the nut is that's hunting butterflies in my yard.


Eventually I headed into town to see if I could meet some more people. Also, Mom said to figure out where the grocery store was right away, so... yeah. I started talking to this girl (Ashlee, I think her name is?) and she seemed nice enough. She said I could work shifts as a barrista to make some extra cash.


Since I'm poor as a churchmouse right now, I figured that was a good idea. I got some decent tips, so it was time well spent.


Sadly, my first day ended with a broken water main in the front yard... which led to a soggy suit and me needing a shower. I really hope the wool in my suit doesn't shrink. No sign of my indenture contract holder, either.


As for the shower bit... did I mention that I'm poor? The best I can do is a "spit and a promise" as Mom calls sponge baths. But, hey... it beats staying dirty.


Riverside Bluff just keeps getting better and better. I did manage to get a job, so that's a good thing. Unfortunately, I came home sick today. I'm not sure if there's a bug going around, or if getting doused by the water main made me sick. I'm sure it didn't help.


And... someone kicked my garbage over while I was at work, so now I have roaches. Gah!


Money spent.. which I didn't have. But it's better than having vermin on my property. Maybe my luck will change soon.

(Note from Arki: Good god! I tried to get the female exterminator over as a potential match. No way is she going into the legacy gene pool! Although, in fairness, a pair of tweezers on her brows would probably help immensely.)


Or not. I feel like if I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all lately.


The morning after my unexpected visitor, I woke up sick again.


I feel like I'm just spinning and spinning and spinning. I don't know what I'm doing here, I don't know what I should do next... and what else could go wrong?


Maybe I shouldn't have tempted fate. *sigh* No sooner did I get to work today than the boss called me into the back office. Apparently they don't think I really want the job... seeing as how I've been falling behind in my work a bit. I guess the fact that I went to work sick doesn't count for anything.


One bright thing to put a smile on my face... a postcard from Mom and Pop. Pop has a new job, and the girls are in private school. That makes me feel like all this is almost worth it. If only I knew what I was doing here. Speaking of... what's this letter?

Dear Joseph,
I'm sure, by now, that you are wondering why you've been brought to Riverside Bluff, and what your part of our agreement is. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to contact you. You see, I wanted to wait until you'd heard from your family that I was keeping up with my side of the bargain. Which brings us to the question of your side of the bargain.

Quite simply, I want you and your offspring to be a cornerstone of my little community here. This is a fledgling town, and it needs leadership. A "first family", if you will. Someone to set the example. I believe that someone is you.

Your parents, though poor, have shown a loyalty and a strength that is impressive. So this allows me to reward them and at the same time to provide you with a fresh start. A clean slate, to do with what you will.

All that you owe me is to do the best you can, to live here, to raise your children here, and your promise that your offspring shall do the same (your firstborn, at least, and his or her firstborn, etc.) for ten generations. Aside from that, you are free to do as you will.

I hope, sincerely, that Riverside Bluff agrees with you and that you prosper here.

Best wishes!

Which left me somewhat speechless. I did NOT need to be hearing this garbage about best wishes and prospering right now. My life... is hell. I'm glad my parents and sisters and brother are doing well, but life for me SUCKS.


After reading the letter from Mr. Mysterio, I went inside. Lucy, a friend of mine from work - ex-work, as it turns out, was waiting for me.
"Joseph, what are you going to do now?"
"I don't know. It doesn't seem to matter what I do. Everything's messed up anyway."
"Oh, so you'll just give up - is that it?"
"I guess. What does it matter, anyway?"
Lucy sighed. "It MATTERS, boy genius, because if you get up nothing will ever get better. Is that what you want?"
"I WANT things to go right for me, for a change, Lucy. Is that so much to ask?"
"Yeah, well, maybe you should do something about it. Nobody owes you anything... if you want it, you gotta work for it. And that's all I have to say on the matter."

She walked out in a bit of a huff, leaving me alone with my thoughts.


I went to bed that night and thought of the man who'd broken into my home. I wonder if he just gave up, too, and if that's what led him to be sitting in a squad car, facing jail time. I don't want to be sitting in the squad car... but I just don't know what to do, either.

Maybe something will go my way, soon. Tomorrow starts a new week, after all. A new new beginning, maybe?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Prologue: Being Poor Sucks...

Or, How I Became An Indentured Servant

That's my family. Yeah, I've got a LOT of siblings... four sisters and a brother. That's Mom and Pop. They work hard and take care of us as best they can. But, like a lot of large families, money's tight and there's only so far you can stretch a simoleon. But, we get by. Or... we did.

I knew something was up when Pop called a family meeting. He left the two girls watching the toddlers and then sat the rest of us down at the kitchen table. Cutbacks at the mill...

And winter coming... means we're going to have problems paying the heating bills. I don't know what we're going to do. All of us except Mom are already working, and daycare for all the babies would cost more than she could bring home.

That was when Pop spoke up. "There... may be a solution."

"A solution?" asked Mom.

"A solution. A gentleman met me outside the mill when I got my final check. He said that if Joseph would be willing to indenture himself, he'd pay us 5,000 simoleons per week."

"FIVE THOUSAND simoleons. Per week?!? For how long? And what would the indenture entail?"

My father swallowed. "Five thousand simoleons per week for as long as the indenture lasts. And he wants Joseph, and the first-born male of each generation... for ten generations."

I think my sister and I were in shock. Then pandemonium broke out.

"Jason! Is he mad? Ten generations?!? We can't... that's crazy. Joseph... my baby... We'll find another way."

I didn't have to think long. Before I realized what I was saying, I leaned forward, and out of my mouth I heard the words "I'll do it."

My mom looked at me with tears in her eyes. "Honey, what are you saying? You can't... you don't even know all the details..."

"It doesn't matter, Mom. Five thousand a week is enough that you'll all be taken care of. It'll let us finally do something... the little ones can go to private school. You and dad can take care of yourselves, too. It's okay... really. I'll do it."


And that was that. On my next birthday I would be leaving to start a new life in a new town. I'd never see my family again, but would be starting a new life. I'd be providing for my brother and sisters... but I don't know what will become of me.