The unpublished notes of Sterling Rover, on assignment for RollingPlum
Insteadman and I find ourselves in the big creeping park in Willow Creek.
Last thing I remember, we were sitting in the kitchen of this dive in lower Oasis Springs in the pre-dawn. I was eating a Rabbit’s Choice cupcake, and Insteadman was eating eggs.
We were talking about England and this hard drive and various food choices. Neither of us knew it at the time, but this may have been the last normal conversation we were ever to have.
At the park, Super Cupcakes, bored senseless, stops over on his way to school.
After the little dude heads out to that prison where they try to plum the innovation out of kids all day so they’ll stay in line for the next three life stages, I pull out my tablet and scan the headlines of the Willow Creek Courier-Journal. “Still no solution offered for DTS as millions of random Townies and NPCs disappear daily”… “NSA/EA Customer Service reports that Game-Awareness poses no threat to the stability of game borders”… “EA still refuses to comment on player demands for ‘family play’: No hope for toddlers in future.” At the bottom of the screen is a photo of Young Cathy Tea with the caption, “Animal hats pose no barrier to this bubble-blower’s search for self-expression.” There is no mention of any trouble brewing on the hard drives owned by Bilmonaghan and JordanNicoleJJ.
The Random Townies are definitely picking up some sort of weird vibe.
Insteadman’s getting a twisted lesson in logic from a Townie opponent while Mikey Rivera looks on with sideways grin.
I find him later picking up the trash barrel.
“Dude, what’s going on?”
“I kicked the plum thing over!” he says. “That Townie piece of plum got me so bloody plummed off! Now I’ve got to pick all this freaking plum up!”
Leave it to a Brit to clean up his own mess while he’s still ticked off about it.
I hand Insteadman an aerosol can of whipped cream.
“Here. You’d better take this. Just in case.”
He starts spraying himself with it.
“No, dude! Not for us! For them! In case things get out of hand.”
He’s all covered with the stuff, running down his chest, soaking his thighs, his hair all white and fluffy, his beard covered with big globs of the white stuff, his eyes all red and bloodshot.
“Dude,” I say. “Now you’re gonna have to spin into your Everyday 1 outfit.”
I have no idea how we got here. We’re looking for cupcakes. After that last one I ate before breakfast, there don’t seem to be any left in Oasis Springs.
“Dude, where’s our press credentials?” I ask Insteadman.
“I don’t know,” he replies. “I assumed you had them.”
“Oh, God,” I say. “I think I ate them.”
Suddenly there’s candy sprinkles everywhere. “Get them off of me!” I cry. Rudy turns into a giant lizard and laughs.
Seems like some of the GAS participants have come over to catch a few Zzzs. We find Cindy in the bath house.
Crystal’s got the bench.
I head over to talk with this NPC fisherwoman to see if maybe she can fill us in on what’s got the Townies so freaked out.
She’s heard nothing.
I keep spotting out of the corner of my eye that dark red hair framing a heart-shaped face, and maybe I see that walk that’s somehow lodged itself deep into the reptilian part of my brain. I’m sniffing for that scent of salted ginger and searching for that smile that reveals that a simple dude like me can simply have no hope of secrets. Where are those twinned pools of glacial blue that pierce me every time?
Lord, I have a poet’s heart. I’m supposed to be a journalist, dammit. God, I need cupcakes.
“I need a hit,” I say.
I pull out my tablet and start checking my feedly. No updates on any of the SimLit blogs I’m following. I feel the clay-bob lampshade fall off my head and look around with fear and loathing.
This is what it is to be a Sim–in the world, not reading about it. What do I live through, my experience or the literature that presents another Sim’s experience so clearly that I can feel it, stepping into a world that is like mine only mirror-like? Which is shadow, and which truth?
We settle for grilled fruit.
When the apples and bananas don’t do the trick, we turn to the art Insteadman produced that day and devour it, tearing the drawings in our frenzy. We fight over his art supplies. I get the bag of icing. He winds up with the licorice. Needless to say, we don’t have any drawings from our excursion, and we’re gonna need to stop by a cake-decorating supply shop before he can produce anything else.
Over on Bilmonaghan’s hard-drive, Morcucorp agents are infiltrating the Free Speech Zone where plans have been put in motion to cordon off W-WOT protesters who meanwhile prepare to rally at Oakenstead while ELP works across the way on composing the speech of the century and EA customer secret service agents arm themselves with cell phones so that at any moment they can text the words, “Activate Random Culling Thingy” or “ARCT.”
I start thinking about the S-GAS participants. I’m envying the legacy Sims–even the ISBIs–for they’re living in game and in SimLit, a sort of double-life that us CAS loner wanna-bes can only dream of.
Things are getting really weird.
I don’t know if what happens next is real or if it’s part of some sweet trip caused by sugar cravings. I think I spy her again, and this time, I walk towards her.
The Townies and NPCs are acting weird: creeping like lizards or standing like zombies.
She beats me at a game of chess and laughs in my face.
And then Sarafina Plumsin asks me to look at the clouds with her.
Our breath animations move in sync.
As we watch a freezer bunny cloud morph with a nuclear warhead cloud, I realize that every story is either a love story or a conspiracy story.
And sometimes both.
We rise in unison, and then she walks off.
I can’t bear to watch her leave.
I can’t remember how many days ago it was that I slept.
Insteadman and I head off the lot, and I’m hoping there’s a decent bed–or at least a couch that’s not too covered with icing–back in the dive we seem to be staying at.
Just before I leave the lot, my cell rings.