Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Generation Two — Chapter Five: Births, Deaths and Marriages Come in Threes, Right?

It happened again! Ayden was out on patrol, when he spied the Grim Reaper, seemingly following a citizen as she walked across the street.  

Shortly thereafter, within only a few Sim days, in fact, it was discovered that Detective Meghan Spurlock climbed the stairs to the lunch room, and quietly expired.  Ayden was called into the chief’s office. While he sat in the chair before her desk, he wondered if despite how hard he was at work on his case file, if she was going to ask for his shield and his weapon.
This was not a good time to lose his job. Jade had just announced her big news to him. They were going to have a baby, soon. Jade was employed, but Ayden made far more Simoleons in his line of work. Simoleons they well needed. And Braylon? Well, who knew what it was he was up to, exactly? Anytime Ayden tried to get friendly with him, asking about his career, Braylon would simply lie, telling him he was a big time crime boss. 
“Yeah, right, Bray,” he laughed. “I know you work the night-shift, but that doesn’t mean you’re a criminal. Say, it’s okay if you’re a night-janitor. There’s no shame in that. Really.”
All of this was swimming around in Ayden’s head when the chief finally set aside her files, got up from her desk, and offered him some coffee, gesturing with the full pot in hand. Ayden nodded.
“Senior Detective Cantrell,” she began pouring him a cup. 
“Ma’am.” He took the mug she offered, wrapping his large hands around it.
“I’ve noticed something about you, lately. You have a very special talent. So, that’s why I would like you to go up to the break room and do whatever it is you did for our other two officers that stopped all of this mourning going on around here.”
“Ma’am?” Ayden leaned forward in his chair. He never realized anyone knew what he had done. He tried to be so quiet, so nonchalant about it. These people do solve crimes, he reminded himself.
“Well, you do realize that Detective Meghan Spurlock collapsed and died up there, a short time ago.”  

“Yes, I’m aware. It’s a very sad thing,” he took a sip of his coffee. “We keep losing good people.”
“Yes, it is sad. It’s also problematic in that the Commissioner is on my back. He says we’re slacking, or something. I guess he’s never lost three co-workers in so short a time, as we have— especially not right here at the precinct. I do know cases are getting backed up around here. I told him we’d get our best people on it. And that’s what I intend to do. Starting with you. I don’t believe in any of this mumbo-jumbo, but I have seen the results of whatever it is you do. So, before they all start jamming themselves into the break room, weeping relentlessly all over the place, please do that — thing you do.”
“You want me to release her spirit to the Netherlands.”
The chief waved a hand at him in dismissal. “Whatever you call it. Just get it done, all right?”
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll get right on it.”  
Ayden set his coffee mug aside and climbed the stairs to the break room. The room did feel — off. Not altogether sinister, but not exactly comforting, either. Decidedly chilly, he was at once beset by feelings he wasn’t alone. No wonder few ventured up here these days. Getting down to business, he placed a hand on the urn there, said a few words of comfort and then proclaimed to Meghan Spurlock, “You are free to go to the Netherlands.” Again, he watched the gossamer mist swirl about the ornate, brass urn until it seemed to rise straight up and through the ceiling.  Then, he carefully disposed of the urn, hoping no one else would notice.
He was overcome with sadness, as he had been the other two times, but he had to admit, things felt different in the room. Clean, somehow. Certainly, the air was no longer on the frigid side. Then he went back downstairs, briefly told the chief the task was complete and went back to working on his latest case file.
When he got home from work at the end of his shift, Jade had no sooner served him some dinner, when she got a strange look on her face. Ayden quickly deduced she was in labor. He ate, cleared up the dishes and paced the room for a bit. Jade then got into bed and rested. Ayden crawled in beside her and did his best to sleep. Freeing spirits took a lot out of him. That was his biggest accomplishment for the day. Sad, but true. At least the chief was happy.  

When Ayden awakened again, it was to the sounds of Jade’s travail. She moaned, cried, and all but cursed him and then presto! They had a baby son. He sure was a cute little thing, Ayden thought, watching the baby as he slept in his little bassinet. Life had suddenly changed for him, as if he now understood the meaning of Life. No wonder this was something his father sought — why he gave up his rather successful, lucrative career as a Rock Star. Ayden felt moved to work on his writing skills. At least, he needed to get this new perspective on his father’s choices written down before they evaporated.
On the way in to work the next day, he wondered where he could find those chocolate cigars. He had an irrational urge to hand them out to anyone and everyone. He couldn’t so much as find a candy store, the most logical place to look, so he gave up on the idea and simply went to work. He was quick to share his news, also realizing how sleepy he was. Who knew just how loud somebody so very small could be at 2:00 AM? He must have consumed an entire pot of coffee before he left home. Doing a weird kind of duck walk, he finally made it to the bathroom.
Right away, he got down to work. Cross-checking the data base, analyzing the evidence. He took time to study the board again, realizing more clues were right before him. Before long, he issued an APB and within minutes he was down town looking for the suspect. Inside of a couple of hours the perpetrator presented, a male Sim with long sleeves. After a short conversation, and that all-too reliable gut instinct, Ayden made the arrest. This nut was a bit harder to crack, he soon realized. After he’d searched the guy, took his mug shot and got his fingerprints, it was off to the Interrogation Room. Ayden had a few tricks up his sleeve. He’d had plenty of practice already, in his young career. He liked to mix things up. Switching from good cop to bad cop to all but disinterested cop to checking his cell phone. He even presented evidence. So far, the guy, likely a hardened criminal, was hardly breaking a sweat. Time for Ayden give him the stink eye. 
When that failed, Ayden, mostly out of frustration, scooped up the paperwork from inside the file, all the bits of evidence, be it computer printouts to snippets of notes from his small notepad, and flung them up into the air. This startled the guy. They both sat there watching as the witness reports and other contents fluttered downward upon the tabletop.  

Ayden leaned in and gave the guy his best ‘stink eye’ again. The Sim was clearly rattled at the point, when Ayden reached behind himself, and dangled his handcuffs in front of the Sim’s face. “Do you have anything to say?” Ayden asked.
“All right, all right I did it, I did it! Just don’t hurt me.”
“Thank you, I thought so.” With that Ayden locked up the suspect. He filed his report, apprised the chief his case was now closed and clocked out for the day. But, not before the chief congratulated him.
“Detective Cantrell,” she hailed as Ayden left her doorway.
“Congratulations on the birth of your son. And —”
“Thank you, Ma’am, but I’m a bit confused. And?”
“I’m promoting you to Sergeant. Good work.” She gave his hand a firm shake. Ayden smiled and for once, she smiled back at him.  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Generation Two —Chapter Four: Answering Cupid's Call

        Ayden couldn’t get Jade off of his mind. He found himself daydreaming at work, his focus fractured for a time. He knew he had to see her again. Despite how exhausted he was the day after, he was actually thankful Patrice had called and all but insisted he meet her in Windenburg for a dance party. Ever since Jade had become a near obsession with him. He had to see her again. 

     Back at work, things were still in turmoil. Several of the officers stood around, mourning the two who perished. Ayden couldn’t help but wonder if he shouldn’t find a way to set the spirits of these former co-workers free.  He would just have to put in another call to his aunt and see if she knew of a way. At least, with him bringing her his rather unique problem, it forced him to keep in contact with that side of his family. His aunt was always glad to hear from him. 
When he could focus, he did his job well. Although, his recent behavior got him a bit of a reprimand from the Chief. Despite his track record of hauling in the baddies around town, he wasn’t above getting the boot. In no uncertain terms, the Chief made it known she could and would have his badge, if his performance didn’t improve.
This was enough impetus to get him to focus. He got another case file and got to work. Adding clues to the board, he also followed up with what he saw as an interesting pattern at play, here. He cross-referenced both the crime scene samples, as well as the witness statements. Then he spent more time staring at the board. Solving another case should please the Chief. So, Ayden resolved to do just that. He went to the scene of the crime, next. He took pictures, collected evidence samples and witness statements. Again, there were ghosts wandering about the premises. Able to see and hear them, he took their statements as well.  

He was beginning to be immune to such sights. 

The next day, after doing some research into the paranormal, Ayden decided he would release the spirits in their Squad Room, and remove their urns. The distraction was such, the Willow Creek Police Department was held nearly paralyzed. He had to do something. Placing a hand on the urn, he murmured some encouraging words and then said in a bold voice, “I release you to the Netherlands, spirit of Assistant Jovan Sisk!” Then he stood up and watched as a strange mist coalesced about the urn and rose upward. A few moments later, he did the same for Assistant RigoBerto Devine, releasing him, too, to the Netherlands. His urn shot forth a rainbow of color, radiating about the urn heading upward with force. 
Ayden then collected and destroyed the urns, removing them entirely from the Squad Room. Then, he quietly went back to work on his case. At least, his thoughts were no longer disrupted by the incessant weeping of Bobbi and some of the other females on the force.
After all the analyzing that could be done, was, he added still more clues to the board. Then he stood back and took a good hard look. Another clue presented itself. Finally, Ayden had enough information to issue an APB. Not long afterward, he was called to Desert Lounge. 
Curiously, while standing on the sidewalk just outside of the lounge, he was hit with a wave of sadness. So much so, he decided it best to call the Sadness Hotline. After a conversation with a very understanding Sim, he shook off the grief and went inside the tavern. Work, he had learned was the best way to overcome such emotions. 

As he made his way up the stairs inside, he could hear the music of a violin. The Sim playing was pretty good. Reaching into his wallet, he thought to tip the violinist. However, before he reached the top, the music stopped. Looking around the room, there were a several  Sims here on this late afternoon. 
Amongst them, he found an adult male Sim, with black hair, wearing long sleeves. He appeared to fit the description. All Ayden needed was to see if he was also hot-headed, as the clues suggested the perpetrator was. Taking the opposite seat at the table, he quickly introduced himself and began a conversation with the possible suspect.
The guy was unemployed, Ayden learned. When asked about the suspect, the man got a tad nervous and tried to suggest he was ‘over there’. When Ayden turned his head to take a look in the indicated direction, the man got up from the table they shared and walked away.
Ayden followed him over to the bar, continuing their conversation. After only a short time, he decided this had to be the guy. Ayden put him under arrest and whisked him off to the station. Glancing at the clock, he only had time enough to take his mug shot, search him and get his fingerprints before it was time for Ayden to clock out. He’d put in some overtime, but for the Chief’s announcement the city was cutting back and no more overtime was to be allowed for awhile.  

So, reluctantly, Ayden locked up the suspect.   

When he got home, he realized he was dog-tired. His body ached and he needed to eat. Of course, that’s when Patrice called trying to entice him to yet another outing. Another dance party. He turned her down, realizing he was likely missing the opportunity to spend more time with Jade. She belonged to the club that had likely organized the dance party. Realizing he wouldn’t be much company, Ayden ate the leftovers from the fridge and went to bed. He had three days off, which was good, he needed it. He’d go camping to really get away from it all, but for the fact he had so little money on tap. 

Early on Sunday morning, he arose fully rested, after taking it easy on Saturday to let himself recharge. Around ten in the morning, he called Jade Rosa and invited her on a date. She accepted. They traveled to Windenburg to a coffee house.    

They talked, they flirted, they got to know each other a bit more and then suddenly, he leaned over and kissed Jade. She seemed a bit taken aback, or at least surprised by his gesture, but not repulsed by it. Instead, she smiled. They talked some more, flirted so more and the next thing he knew Ayden was down on one knee and proposing to her. Her brown eyes grew wide and lit up, as she stared at the ring he presented to her.
“Oh, Ayden, it’s beautiful! I’m breathless. Yes, yes, I’ll marry you!” She slipped it on her finger and like most females held her hand out to admire the look of it on her hand. 

Ayden began to laugh. “For a moment, I was afraid you were going to turn me down.”
“Why would I do that? I love you. I was wondering what took you so long.”
“What do you mean, this feels much like a whirlwind to me.”
“Whirlwind isn’t such a bad thing. Besides, we’ve been dating on and off. I love the little texts you send me.”
Ayden took a look around them at the busy coffee house. People were coming and going ordering coffee and sometimes pastries.  “Let’s do it,” he said.
“Do what? Woohoo, here in public?”
“Well, that, too, if you’re game and we can find a bush or something. But what I meant was, let’s get married, right now. Elope. You don’t mind, do you?” 

Jade jumped into his arms with that. “Mind? I insist on it!”
And so, there in the coffee shop, with plenty of witnesses, the two said their vows.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Generation Two— Chapter Three: Ghostly Texts?

       Ayden heard the chime go off on his phone. Someone was sending him a text message. When he finally had a chance to take a look at it, he just sat there and stared. How? When and why?
A few nights before, just as he got off of work, and was dog-tired, he received a text from his long silent older sister. Patrice was inviting him out to some gathering. He decided to accept and he brought their ghostly father along, too.
He was also yearning for a companion. He’d met a few women, but so far he just wasn’t connecting with any of them.  Perhaps, this was a chance to meet someone entirely new. Ayden wasn’t disappointed. Tired, dead on his feet, but not disappointed. A lovely young woman, near his age, proved to be rather friendly and easy to chat with.

Her name was Jade Rosa. They chatted, they danced and Ayden did his best not to pass out in front of her. His work day had been a long one. Who knew chasing after criminals would be so exhausting?
They exchanged numbers just after he told her he had to leave. When he got back home again, he was quick to send her a text. This was good. He really liked her. Ayden grabbed a bite to eat and then hit the sheets. When he finally woke up, he barely had time to gulp down a very hot cup of coffee before he had to get down to the precinct. Some of the officers there were still struggling to focus and get down to work. Ayden found himself consoling more than a few of them. He wondered if they shouldn’t, perhaps, remove the urns from the Squad Room?   

Following a lead, he crossed checked the police database and then added more clues to the board. Several clues leaped out at him. He found it necessary to return to the crime scene to gather more evidence to check his theory. The one that was slowly coalescing in the back of his brain. Seeing apparitions at such places had become commonplace. He even interviewed them, as they seemed able to witness more readily, and had no fears of reprisal. After all, just how many times can you kill somebody who was already deceased? Made sense to him.

Busy photographing and collecting evidence, his phone went off. He knew it was a text by the chime. After a few minutes more, doing his work, he finally sat down to take a look at the text and, more importantly, who had sent it.
“Detective,” the officer said, trying to get his attention. “Sir, is something wrong? You look as white as a ghost.”
“Ghosts aren’t white,” he said, slowly, still staring at the tiny screen.
“Depends on the mood they’re in. They can be blue, green, yellow, red or grayish, but I’ve yet to see a white one. I just never knew they could send a text…”
The man put a hand on his shoulder. “Detective Cantrell, are you all right, sir?”
Ayden showed the officer the message on his phone screen. “So, somebody thinks this Jade Rosa person is cool, so what?”
“See who the sender is?”
“Zoe Cantrell. Yeah, isn’t that your sister?”
“No, I only have one sister and her name is Patrice. Zoe was my mother. My now deceased mother.”
“So, maybe she sent that to you while she was still alive?”
“Yeah and maybe the signal bounced off of the moon three million times before it reached my phone, too. No, I just met Jade Rosa a couple of nights ago. Mom has been gone for almost a year. So, unless she was psychic —”
The officer looked a bit flummoxed. “Well, okay. So, she’s sending you a message from the Great Beyond. Nice to know she approves of this girl you met. Come on, Detective, shake it off. So far, you’re the only one who hasn’t fallen to pieces.  We need you to be strong, sir. And Willow Creek needs you.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I’m going to take this evidence back to the station. See ya.”
Once back, Ayden got right to work processing and analyzing this new evidence. Pretty soon, he had enough clues to put out an APB. He was looking for an elderly male. Ayden shook his head. His APB took him to a park in Windenburg. He sat down and played some chess with a young man. Always scanning the area for the person who fit the profile. Next thing he knew, by some dumb luck, the elderly gentleman was standing, watching the game of chess. Ayden introduced himself in a friendly fashion and struck up a conversation with the Sim. After a time, he got that gut feeling and arrested the man, who came without any trouble. 

Taking a mug shot of the Sim, he searched him giving the elder a good pat-down, finding, of all things, some kind of squeak toy in the Sims’ pocket— and a turkey-baster? Odd. But, the Sim was old. Perhaps, he was experiencing a second childhood? Fingerprints were next and then it was time to have a nice deep, probing chat with the Sim. Ayden led the way to the Interrogation Room. Detective Cantrell always tried to be polite, kind and generally accommodating. He started off nice and easy, friendly. At first the Sim didn’t say much, but Ayden could tell he was growing a tad tense. That’s when Ayden pulled out his phone and pretended to check it. Then he flipped open the file. Then he bluffed the evidence. When the elder began to squirm a bit, Ayden showed him the witness reports, asking him again about the crime. Then he mentioned the horrors of prison life and dangled his cuffs at the man.
Lining up the crime scene photos all but broke the old fellow. Ayden threw a few complicated logic questions at the guy and next thing Ayden knew the elder Sim confessed. Another case neatly sewn up, Ayden did the old Sim a favor and locked the elderly delinquent up.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Generation Two: Chapter Two: An Unnerving Set of Events

“Aunt Bree,” Ayden said into his cell phone, once she finally picked up. Needing to consult with his rather Gifted old Aunt, he let the phone ring for awhile because she just didn’t move as quickly as she once did. “How are you? I haven’t seen you since Mom’s memorial. I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been well. Us? We’re doing okay. Things are a tad strange lately. I keep seeing dead Sims just about everywhere I go. I’ve seen the Grim Reaper, again, too. I was wondering, if you possibly might know what that means?”
When his aunt grew quiet on the other end, it made him worry. “So,” he continued, after she finally spoke again. “You see it as an omen of some sort? Yeah, that was my thinking, too. Thank you for your advice, Aunt Bree. No, I promise to keep in better touch. I love you, too. Bye-bye. And thanks again.”
Ayden got off the phone and began to pace. This was not good news. Last time he saw the Reaper milling about, he came home to have his mother pass away out on their drive. Now, he worried. There were just he and his brother and sister left. Alive, that is. And Patrice was her usual snappish self. Then suddenly one day she up and moved out. She hardly said two words to her brothers except to say, “I’m all packed up and after work tonight, I shall be moved out — entirely. If I think about it, I’ll send you a text with my new address.”
Ayden just gazed at her, not sure what to make of her announcement. He did have a rather snarky remark bounce through his thoughts, “don’t let the front door smack you on the fanny on your way out,” but in deference to his ghostly father, he keep his thoughts to himself. While he admitted things might be less chaotic with her gone, he was going to miss her cooking and her cleaning. He may even have to consider hiring a maid. Not that he could afford that, especially with one third of their income deleted. But, mostly, he worried. Was he about to lose her, too? With her not right under the same roof, how was he to protect her?

Having such a load on his young shoulders, he worked hard at the station doing his best to crack cases, and clear the scum front the streets of Willow Creek and other nearby vicinities. Admittedly, he had the huge utility bill hanging over his head, too, to think about, but he worked very hard that morning when he arrived at the police station. This wasn’t just a job for him, it was his career. Something he had dreamed about growing up. If he couldn’t be a caped hero, then he could be the normal sort. The kind who ran headlong into peril instead of away from it. A first responder. He was very busy analyzing evidence, in fact, when he heard a commotion going on in the squad room. By the time he got there to see what was going on, the room was packed. They all stood around poor old Rigoberto Devine, an Assistant, curled up on the floor, obviously dead. Ayden hardly knew him, but that didn’t keep the deep sadness from setting in. So many of his fellow policemen were sobbing outright. He felt the tears prick his own eyes.

He finally walked out of the room to get something positive done. He could tell he was on the cusp of finding just who this latest perp was. He went back to the machine and finished the analysis. Then he did a cross reference in the police data base. Striking gold, or so it felt, he found yet another clue and added it to the board. About that time he realized he was hungry.
Going upstairs to the break room, he bought a sandwich, a rather wilted looking BLT. He warily sniffed at it then took a bite. Again, a commotion could be heard. Ayden came flying down the stairs into the squad room to find old Jovan Sisk dead on the floor. A two-for? This left him incredibly sad. Both of these Sims were competent officers. The Department would sorely miss them. Aunt Bree had been correct in her assessment of his seeing the Reaper. She’d mentioned it could be interpreted as a Harbinger of death. Certainly, that proved the case both times he’d witnessed this apparition.  This left him feeling a tad unnerved. Jittery, for a time. Finally, he decided to get back to work.

Ayden continued to concentrate on his case, even after the loss of Jovan, as a means of distraction. Someone had to keep working. Seems the entire department, not that they could be blamed, were held paralyzed by the sudden deaths. His fortitude and tenacity was recognized by their chief. He was promptly promoted to Senior Detective. Given a nice bonus and a few other perks, when he got home from work, Ayden decided to do some harvesting. Not only was the activity good therapy for chasing away the sadness, but after checking his bank account, he was still shy of the payment due. Checking the mail, he’d received the notice that if he didn’t pay up in another 24 hours, it would be lights out.

After a few hours’ work, he was pleased to be able to pay that huge bill, all 2,735 Simoleons of it. He continued harvesting and digging up stuff around his lot until the sun set. He wasn’t so sad anymore as he was tense. Then he went inside and showered. Hungry, he checked the fridge but there wasn’t any leftovers to reheat. Funny, there had been some leftover cake earlier … . Having a microwave meal didn’t appeal to him, either. So, Ayden decided to make himself some good ol’ mac and cheese. Comfort food. Despite how hard he’d worked at getting that tire off of his waistline and getting himself back in shape, he really needed a nice plate of mac and cheese. The day had been rather full, after all. But despite the few ghosts that gathered around the lost officers, he didn’t see the Reaper again. For that he was grateful. However the day wasn’t yet over, either. 
Ayden was minding his own business, cooking up his dinner when suddenly a fire broke out. This dang old stove! Was it warm in here? Ayden wondered and then realized his clothing had caught fire. Trying his best not to panic, he swatted at the flames that challenged his clothing and threatened his life. Was he going to be death number three suffered by the Willow Creek Police Department? All in the very same day? Suddenly, he heard his old aunt’s voice, inside his head as if she were standing nearby, “Use the fire extinguisher,” she instructed. Looking up, he saw it on the wall and grabbed it. Turning it on himself, he carefully put out the flame. He was a mess. Blackened like so much fish on the grill. He was such a sight! This was certainly one for the books.

Glad to be alive, he ate his mac and cheese, which surprisingly was not burnt. What a day! What a day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Generation Two—Chapter One: Insanity or Premonition?

Ayden felt confused, confounded. Ever since his father reappeared as an active force in his life, he was seeing dead Sims everywhere!
He was beginning to worry. Was he merely Gifted or insane? The last really wonderful time he had with Mom was at his birthday. Zoe had baked up her very best chocolate cake for him, topped it with candles, and even though they really couldn’t afford a party, she made it special for him. Dutifully, he blew out the wicks.
The day after he graduated, he headed to the Police Academy, something he could only dream about as a kid. Which was also why it was so important for him to keep up his grades. As a cadet, he was mostly on a drive-along, not able or trained enough to actually take on a case of his own. So, compliantly, he showed up at the crime scene. There was all kinds of evidence to be photographed and collected. He pulled out his camera and got right to work, after he’d taken a moment to rummage through the trash can out front, that is. He even interviewed a few Sims, as witnesses. What was really strange was how many ghosts he noticed about the place. What was going on? He never had this ability before now.
And just why was he the only officer there able to see and speak with these departed Sims? He ended up spending his entire shift at the crime scene, seemingly unable to get back to the station. The next day, he saw a ghost at the station. This was one of the ones he’d already interviewed. Had he been followed? Was this ghost attached to him, somehow and if so, why? The thing that stood out, too, what he found really strange about it, is the crime scene was the lot behind his house on the cliff. Was his father throwing a ghostly party while Ayden was at work? No wonder his mother had no qualms of inviting his deceased father to move in. What was one more haunted house in the neighborhood? 
Ayden realized after analyzing the evidence he had gathered and running a check through the police files, that he had enough to issue an All Points Bulletin.  After talking with the Chief, he did just that. Word came through the suspect, or at least a person resembling the suspect, had been seen in the vicinity of the gym. Ayden traveled there to interview a few of the patrons. The place was busy. While in the midst of an interview he again saw a very strange apparition. Glancing around he realized he was having a vision of some sort. No one else seemed perturbed in the least little bit by what he was witnessing. That’s when he realized he was the only one seeing it. The Grim Reaper, long-bladed sickle at the ready, fog swirling at the hem of his dark gray robes, suddenly appeared amidst the four Sims he was talking with. How could they not see this? Ayden suffered a chill. 

Oddly enough, Grimmie decided to run on the nearest treadmill. The sight was an odd one. At once, Ayden realized someone here must be in trouble. 
Looking around quickly again, for signs of anyone struggling, he thought surely someone was in some kind of life-threatening situation for Grimmie to just emerge like this. Someone over exerting themself, suffering a heart-attack. Seeing nothing out-of-place, however, he carried on with his assignment. Everyone around him seemed well. He found his suspect, made his very first arrest and headed back to the station. Doing his best to shake it off as utter nonsense. He was under undue stress, his father passing away such a short time ago. He had taken on such a load for one so young. Something. 
He walked into the station.  Again, with the ghost in the foyer. Ayden processed his prisoner. Searching him thoroughly, it was strange what one will find in another’s pockets. He quickly fingerprinted the fellow, a young adult, and locked him up before his shift ended.

Ayden was excited to get home and share his successful first full day as an policeman. Mom was at work, which was normal. Pretty soon Patrice was back from her job. Ayden shared his good news with his ghostly father and then his siblings. He was busy in the shower a bit later, trying to get the icky, dirty feeling off of himself from patting down his prisoner when an odd feeling engulfed him. Shutting off the water, he grabbed his towel and dried and dressed quickly.
When he left the bathroom, he could find no one in the house, which drew him quickly outside. 

There on the brick drive just beyond the front lawn his mother lay curled up on her side. His siblings and Erik were all standing over her weeping inconsolably. Immediately, Ayden was in cop-mode. He took a careful, studied look at the scene, ascertaining she had just returned home from work. Reaching down, he put his fingers to the sided of her throat. No pulse. Zoe was dead. Glancing at his watch, to note the time for his report,  it was a tad early for her to be here. She must have felt ill and decided to come home. He took out his cell phone and made the call he never wanted to make. 

Before long, the authorities arrived and his mother’s body was taken away. There would be an autopsy, of course. Standard procedure. Ayden was more than certain old age had taken his mother. She was over 120 days, after all. Had he seen this coming? Was that why Grimmie appeared at the gym while he was there on business? Ayden suffered another chill. He was going to have to talk to his Auntie Bree. The elderly lady had lived her whole life with her Gift. Maybe she had some words of encouragement for him. Some advice, or something to help him deal with this sudden ability.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Generation One — Chapter Ten: Goodbye, Hello— You’re Back?

  Ayden came into the house a few minutes after ten in the evening. He decided to take a part-time job at one of the local fast-food establishments after his father passed away to help out. The hours were such that what homework he didn’t complete before his shift, could easily be finished once he got back home again. He was carrying a high GPA and didn't wish to lose it. Patrice, who had graduated from high school already was now steadily employed. He knew their mother was getting on in days and wouldn’t likely be with them for too much longer, herself, let alone manage to pull off a promotion. Without Erik's income, things were looking bleak.
Now, he if could just convince that lazy, mean brother of his to pitch in a bit, things might get a tad better around here. Ayden shook his head. Who was he kidding? Braylon was flat out spoiled. A monster-child, who grew into a rather obnoxious teen. He did hope that should he someday become a father himself, that he would do a slightly better job of it.
As was his habit, Ayden cast a glance toward the piano in the corner of the long living room to the left of the foyer as he came passed by the archway. Spying something slightly luminescent, he did a double take. What the heck? Swallowing, he ventured into the darkened room. Dad’s urn was still on the floor beside the antique instrument. Nothing seemed disturbed in any way, but he felt a bit of a chill in the air. Systematically, he went from one window to the next, checking to be certain they were all closed. As he turned his back on the piano to check that last window near the corner, he shivered with the sudden cold. Then he felt something on his shoulder! Curiously, it felt just like a hand. Swinging around he could swear he saw his father shimmering before him. Auntie Bree and others in the family had the Gift of Sight, so he shouldn’t be so surprised if he shared it, too. Is this what it was like? Creepy, much.
“Dad? Is that you?”  His inquiry was met with an echoed laughter, as if the entity were laughing through a well. Both eerie and alarming, the youth took a step backward and all but fell over the couch facing the dark fireplace.
“Ayden!” said the translucent aqua-colored image, arms open, inviting a hug. Again, the echo-effect. Certainly, it sounded like Dad — except for the echo. Weird.
“Dad? Wh-what are you doing here?” the boy said. “Not that you aren’t welcome in your own home. That is to say, aren’t you supposed to find some kind of light to walk into? Or something. I know you did some crazy things in your life, but still. You’ve always Believed. I always thought that counted for —something.”
Erik Cantrell smiled and chuckled again. “I spent so much of my life in the wrong pursuits, I’ve decided to spend more time here, instead. I’m just not ready to leave my family. That is, if you don’t mind. In just a short time you’ll be taking over as Head of the Household.”
“What are you saying? You mean you’re here to collect Mom?”
“Not yet. But, I do hope you’ll allow me to hang around for awhile.”
“Oh sure. Sure. Glad to have you back,” the boy said, walking around the couch, clinging, to the back of it.
“You don’t have to be afraid, son. I’m not here to hurt you. You’re my son.” At that moment they heard a noise out in the foyer as Zoe came in from work. Ayden could hardly believe so much time had passed. His mother didn’t get off until two A.M.. Yet, the clock didn’t lie. 

Hearing voices, Zoe walked right into the living room. Without hesitation, she flung her arms around her ghostly husband and hugged him tight. “Erik. Oh, Erik, it’s so good to hold you again. Please stay. I want you to move in, permanently.”
“Ah, Mom,” Ayden tried to interject. But Zoe was singularly focused on Erik. “Wait, wait, wait. You see him? How … Are you sure? You’re inviting him to stay. Like forever? Mom, wait. Don’t you think you ought to reconsider … what will the neighbors say? Who wants to live near a haunted house? Because that’s what it’s just become. We have a ghost in our midst. Mom, are you serious?”
“Oh, relax, Ayden. It’s your Father. This is his house, after all. Personally, I welcome his company.”

Ayden sat down on the couch, cradling his head in his hands.
“What’s the matter, dear?” Zoe said, putting a hand on his shoulder.
Ayden looked up at her, shook his head. “When a man becomes a man, he looks forward to living on his own —without his parents constantly looking over his shoulder! I suppose now, after you — go, that you’ll be back to hang around, too. I don’t think I can take that. This is not what is supposed to happen! I want my own life!”
  Erik patted his son’s shoulder. “I’m not here to interfere, I promise. I just want to work, paint for a bit and make sure you’re financially set.” 
“The time to do that is before you die, Dad. Not after. You’ve got it all backward.” With that Ayden jumped up from the couch. Zoe glanced over at Erik, who returned her look with a shrug.
“What’s gotten into him do you think?” Zoe said.
“Don’t know. And all of this time I thought he’d be happy to see me.”
Ayden threw his hands over his ears and stomped about the large living room. “You’re doing it again. You’re talking about me as if I’m not in the very room with you. Stop it. Both of you just stop it!”
Patrice came straggling into the room, her long blonde hair tangled from her sleep, her eyes bleary.  “Daddy!” she cried, giving Erik a huge hug. A moment later, Braylon was in the room, frozen stiff with fright.  "I thought I heard … voices."

After a few reassuring words from Erik, he was soon hugging the entity. Ayden stood back from the group.
“Has everyone gone bonkers? Does no one here think it odd we’re being visited by someone who belongs,” he gazed pointedly at Erik, “in the after life?” 
Erik smiled broadly, hanging onto two of his children, with Zoe close by. “Looks like I’m staying, by majority rule,” he said. 
“Okay, fine. I’m going to bed.” Ayden said, as he backed out of the room. “Guess I’ll see you in the morning, then.” he said to Erik. “And just for the record, it’s not that I mind having you here, it’s just weird.”
“Understood,” Erik smiled.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Generation One— Chapter Nine ReBoot: Gone, But Not Forgotten …

“I can’t believe I thought he was a jerk when we first met,” Zoe said, dabbing at a fresh wave of tears with a tissue. She was sitting in their sparsely furnished living room, in front of the lit fireplace. Not that it was a particularly cold day, but Zoe just couldn’t find any warmth. The lit fireplace helped, if nothing more than to provide the charade of warmth. Family and friends milled about their home. Her sister-in-law, Brianna, acting hostess to their guests, made sure everyone had eaten. She even made Zoe a plate, but so far, eating was the last thing she wanted to do. What Zoe really wanted, besides Erik back, was a good stiff drink. She found it weird her co-worker was busily mixing drinks at Zoe’s home bar. But, she was glad for the help, even so. 

“You thought Dad was a jerk,” Patrice said, scooting the food across her own plate. “How so?” She stabbed at a piece of white whatever, cauliflower or something, sniffed it, and then set her fork down again. Looking around at the platters of food Auntie Bree was circulating, she hoped for something sweet. Like a nice huge piece of chocolate cake.  Chocolate always made her feel better.
“Well, we had only just met, tentatively at the Lounge in town. He was fun and funny, charming in his own way. I liked him. A lot. But the next day I went to the gym and suddenly there he was standing in front of me, dressed in nothing more than a towel.”
“What?” Patrice started to laugh.
“I didn’t know what to think. He behaved so differently the night before. I wasn’t sure if he was coming on to me, or what he was about. So, I left the gym.”
“And then what?”
“He called me a few days later and asked me out on a date. He said he wanted to start all over with me and would I give him a second chance? I said yes. That evening he joked and asked me to remind him of what my name was again.”
“He didn’t.” Patrice said.
“It was at that moment I knew I loved him,” Zoe covered her nose and mouth with a tissue, trying to curb the sobs.  “He had the most amazing blue eyes.” 

Ayden was sitting on the other side of his mother, busily scribbling on a note pad, as if he were some kind of journalist. In the back of his mind, he could still hear his father asking him to write up his biography. Toward that end, Erik had made a point of sitting down with his first son, telling him all about his life from his beginning, through his school days, his university exploits and his virtual joyride as a Rock Star. He was so very glad to have had this special time with him, especially now. Tears filled his blue eyes and he couldn’t still his bottom lip, which began to quiver. A few splattered onto his notepad, making the paper warp. 

Braylon, sat on the piano bench. Ayden watched as his Aunt Bree put a hand on Braylon’s shoulder while offering him a plate of food. Braylon glanced up at her and just shook his head. Apparently, he wasn’t in the mood to eat, either.  

Ayden felt badly for his younger brother. He was so young, just barely a teen. Erik had gotten another promotion and along with it, came a fabulous antique piano. While at work, the piano was delivered. Erik was so excited, he came in from work and sat down at the instrument and began to play. He didn’t even bother to change out of his suit.
Braylon heard the music filling the house, and went in to watch their father play. “D’you hear that?” Braylon said. Ayden was busy doing his homework and barely looked up.
“That music.”
“Oh, that. Is someone playing Dad’s piano?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure going to find out. Just so I can report to Dad who’s been touching his work reward.”
‘Braylon, do you always have to be so mean?” Ayden said, but already his brother had left the kitchen. A short time later the piano music stopped with a loud inharmonious thunking of several keys being held down at once. And he could hear Braylon’s sudden hysterical cries. He went to get up, but Patrice all but pushed him out of her way, as she came through the kitchen at that moment. By the time he got there, and he seemed to be moving in slow-motion, she and their mother were already in the livingroom weeping over his father, who lay prone on the floor. 

Were he a detective, it seemed to him his father must have slipped off of the piano bench and fallen, on his side, to the floor. Heart-attack? The coroner said it was ‘natural causes’, essentially Erik had died of old age. He was 118 days old, Ayden reflected. He touched his suit pocket, glad to have the recordings his father made. Since Erik had died, sometimes Ayden would listen to these audio snippets, just to hear his voice again. When he got over this awful feeling, he determined he would listen to them for their content and write the biography of Erik, as his father requested. Till then, he would just have to remember to breathe and to help out his mother as best he could. 

Patrice was out of school and had gotten a job. He could get a part-time job to help out. If things had been tight when Dad was around, they were about to get tighter, of this he was certain.
At least his father had managed some flooring. Wood for a majority of the house, with carpeting for the sun room, which had become the son room, he shared with his younger brother. The dining room walls were covered and they had a nice new dining table and chairs. That nice bonus check Erik had received just before his demise had helped with that. He was very glad for his father’s sake, that these finishing touches were in place before his ride was up.
Ayden only had a few days left of school, but already, he was preparing to be the Man of the House.