Friday, 30 September 2011

CHAPTER 7.2: The unremembered

Odd had read the book Ghosts: A complete account from cover to cover, like a gripping novel she just couldn't put it down.  However her efforts had been hampered that weekend as she, along with Olivia and Oscar were staying with their Dad which meant sharing a room with her sister.

Odds relationship with Olivia was nowhere near as fraught as the one between her and Oscar, yet Olivia still kept Odd at arms length, never fully allowing for theirs to be a close bond.

"Dad says we can use the pool!"  Olivia exclaimed excitedly, clearly thrilled by the new apartment complex their Dad and Celine were now sharing.  Since his novel had become a best seller Declan hadn't looked back and with Celine as his editor the two of them were close to cementing their relationship by getting married.
Olivia began undressing hurriedly and Odd, who hadn't been intentionally watching her sister yet whilst they were sharing a room she had to make sure Olivia didn't discover her book, couldn't help but to notice Olivia's shockingly thin figure. 

She had always been a delicate little creature, so light and giddy her walk was almost like a dance, in stark contrast to Odds tall clumsy frame.  But now her stomach was concave, with jutting hip bones and angular arms she looked painfully thin and Odd drew in her breath sharply.

It wasn't in her nature to speak her thoughts aloud, Odd much preferred to internalise everything as previous attempts at socialising had usually resulted in horrifying foot in mouth moments.  But her mind was cast back to their birthday party and Oscar's remark to Olivia that she had, had enough cake.  Could he be behind Liv's frightening appearance?  Odd couldn't think of one single reason why he would want this for Olivia but then so little that she observed of Oscar made sense to her.

Cautiously she stood up and said, "Is everything OK with you Liv?"

Odd held her breath as Olivia replied snappily, "Fine." 

Although her reply should have set Odds mind at peace it did not as she could see from the girls stance that she was lying.  Olivia's eyes were cast down to the ground and she held her arms in front of her body as though to hide it away from judging eyes.
Odd stood perfectly still and kept her gaze on Olivia who tensed further under the inspection before yelling, "I said I'm fine!  Stop ogling me you freak!"

Odd instantly regretted having said anything as it seemed once again she had done or said the wrong thing.  Grabbing the book from under her bed she pressed it close against her body, hiding it beneath her coat then, with her chin tucked to her chest she hurried from the room.

As soon as Odd left Olivia rushed over to the mirror to appraise herself searching desperately for what Odd had noticed.  She had thought that she looked better than ever and that her hard work turning down her favourite snacks had paid dividends, but she must be mistaken for the way Odd had looked at her was as though she had scales covering her entire body or some kind of monstrous boil.  Sighing Olivia pinched her side causing the tiniest of folds to appear which she stared at with disgust. 

"Must try harder!"  She admonished herself aloud.  It was just like Oscar had told her, if you want to be the best you have to have self control.  But he made it seem so easy.  But no she mustn't think like a loser, she had what it took to succeed, just like she had succeeded in getting the starring role in the play last year.  How she had adored to be up on the stage as the spotlight shone down on her, and the sounds of the applause she had received!  There was nothing she wouldn't do to keep that feeling with her always and she knew that to stay one step ahead of Stacey she needed to look the part as well as she could play it.

Glancing at her swim costume which she had so eagerly retrieved from her drawer moments before she sighed. 
"No pool for you today fatty."  She said to herself out loud, patting her stomach and sticking out her tongue at her reflection before tugging her dress back over her head.
Odd had rushed from the room with her head kept firmly down and had walked straight into Celine.

"Umph!"  She cried as the pair of them collided.  Odd kept a tight grip on the book, still concealed under her jacket and muttered "Sorry."

"Oh are you not coming to the pool?"  Celine asked, eyeing Odds heavy parka and frowning.

"Um, not right now."  Odd replied.

Trying to make up excuses on the spot was not one of her strong points but she could see from the look on Celine's face that she needed to think of something better to deter the woman.

"I, er have a book report due on Monday, so I, erm...............need to go to the library."  Odd stuttered unconvincingly, but it seemed to have been enough as Celine stepped aside and said "Oh, okay.  If you need any help I'd be happy to look at it with you?"

This was the problem with Celine, she was always trying to be helpful when all Odd really wanted was to be left to her own devices.  But Odd couldn't dislike her for trying, she just wished she would divert her helpfulness towards Olivia or Oscar.  "Thanks but i think I've got it figured out now."  Odd replied uneasily stepping past Celine and making for the door.

At least she had only told half a lie, while there was no book report to speak of and she had no intention of setting foot in the library Odd has indeed figured out what she needed to do, just not how to achieve it.  The book had been helpful in so many ways, but the part on conversing with the dead was most illuminating.  It strongly suggested that while most spirits passed directly from this life to the next, a few remained behind seeking some form of closure on the life they had departed. 

Many of these spirits merely wished to pass on a message to a loved one and would seek out people like Odd who could both see and hear them to act as their go between, yet some remained due to an inability to accept their fate. 

It was with this in mind that Odd ventured to the mausoleum, for in order to help George she had realised that first she must discover what his fate had been.  How had his young life ended so abruptly?  So swiftly indeed that he hadn't even noticed that his real life had faded away.

The records available at City hall recorded births and deaths back as far as the founding families, yet there were so many records for the name George, Odd realised she would spend days looking through the list only to be no farther forward at the end of it.  If only she could find where George was buried she was certain that she would be drawn to his remains, that the imprint of his spirit would call to her somehow.

The mausoleum clerk was most thrilled to have a visitor who was not part of a forced class trip but actually there of her own accord.  He had shown Odd all the records he had detailing who was buried in which plot, yet Odd noticed that some simply read "remains unknown".  The clerk explained that procedures had not always been a strict as they were now and that some Sims had "slipped through the net"
Odd noted down the plots which were listed as containing someone named George and set out around the cemetery examining headstones to see how old the interred Sims had been when they had passed on.  But her search proved fruitless.  Most Sims lived until a ripe old age, even back in the founding days child deaths were uncommon and none of the graves she visited called to her in a familiar way.

She wandered to the back of the graveyard where the grass was just that little bit more unruly and the graves were bare of wreaths and bouquets.  This was the section containing the unidentified remains.  Odd felt sadness and a sudden sense of unfulfillment passed around her.  It was as though the souls of the unknown departed were speaking to her, telling her of their woes at being forgotten to a point where no one even recalled their names.  Tears pricked her eyes and she allowed them to fall silently, in mourning for the unremembered.

Leaving the graveyard Odd made herself a promise to return and visit the unmarked graves again.  perhaps if she were to pay them her respects the Sims buried there may find some peace at last.

The sense of despair remained with her however as she remembered that she was no closer to solving the mystery of George's death.  It was an impossible task to find out who he had been in life, it was as though he had never even existed. 

Sighing she contemplated her options, yet the only one which presented itself was to ask George himself.  Although the fact remained that George had always been reluctant to reveal details of his personal life to the point where Odd doubted that he was aware of his predicament.  She could hardly go blurting out "By the way you're dead, don't suppose you know why?" 

Could she?

No, definitely not!  She shook her head wiping the thought from her mind.  She had already pushed their friendship to it's limits by growing into a teenager, this event alone had been enough to make George vanish.  She had not seen him or even so much as sensed his presence since that night, but she knew he would be back.  Deep inside she realised that the connection they shared had only severed temporarily, like a lost mobile phone signal.

Odd kept on walking, back through the remote streets on the outskirts of the City.  The neighbourhood which housed the cemetery was officially classed as "Old Bridgeport" the area where the first settlers had lived and worked.  It was close to the docks which had at one point been the focus of the City, a hive of shipping and trading in its day, now a run down and largely abandoned area designated for demolition under a new development phase aiming to turn the dockside into a luxury waterfront apartment complex.

As she continued down the street Odd spied an old looking house ahead on the opposite side of the road.  The paint work was faded and rotting and the trees and plants all wilted and dead from many years of neglect, yet for some reason it made her stop in her tracks.

It was faint but it was there a tingly sensation stirring in the centre of her chest and she found herself being drawn towards the house.  Crossing the street she felt the sensation grow and expand leading to her fingers and before she knew it she was at the boundary of the property, her hand resting on it's decaying gate.

As she touched the softened wood she felt the urge to push and as though she were having an out of body experience she found that her hand obliged, opening the gate.  Her feet seemed to be in on it too and also moved as if against her will, carrying her forward past the weeds and debris of the lawn and onto the porch.
This was one of those occasions where Odd felt that what she was doing was somewhere outside of the realms of reasonable behaviour, she was certain that being on someone elses property would be frowned upon but it didn't take a psychic to know that this house had not been occupied for a very long time.  At least not by the living.

Spurred forward now by her own reasoning Odd took the steps carefully to reach the front door which was as peeled and worn as the rest of the house.  Surely this is where the real world prevents me from continuing?  She thought as although she had many talents lock picking was not amongst them.  But as she held out her hand towards the door knob it seemed to come alive, and without the aid of her touch it opened widely seemingly inviting her in.

No sooner had the door flung itself open then the pull which had stirred briefly in her chest leaped like a bull frog and grew abundantly.  Odd felt as though someone had attached a rope around her middle and was now tugging her inside the house, such was the strength of the sensation she felt.  But as she stepped over the threshold it stopped suddenly and the door, accepting her as an offering, closed behind her leaving her alone in the inky blackness of the hallway.

Odd glanced at her surroundings unperturbed by the events that had unfolded.  Her gift for seeing the dead was bolstered by her uncanny ability to accept any situation with open arms, save for the exception of large crowds there was nothing she had yet come across which caused her to feel fear.  She stepped into the nearest room finding a sitting area where the sofa and chairs were covered by large white sheets.  A thick layer of dust had settled across the tops of any bare surfaces confirming her suspicions that the house was empty.

The downstairs of the house held no interest for Odd, no calling or vibe grabbed her in one particular way or another and so she ventured to the spiral staircase.

Setting her foot on the step she heard it creak loudly in warning of its fragile state, yet she had come this far that it seemed almost rude for her not to investigate further, after all it seemed to be what the house wanted.  As she turned the spiral corner she felt it once again, growing stronger now, calling to her and guiding her forward to the first floor hallway, where she stopped before turning in a circle to assess which room desired her company. 

But no this wasn't it, she wasn't quite where she was supposed to be.  Pushing open a door she moved through a hallway and then she spotted it from the corner of her eye, an almost hidden access to the attic rooms.

Almost rushing now Odd took the stairs expectantly and when she reached the trap door at the top she flung it open hastily.  A cloud of dust burst up in a plume as the trap door smacked back against the attic floor and a million dust particles floated and sailed through the air eventually settling on a new resting place.

Odd poked her head up into the attic space and realised that whoever had resided in this house had not used it merely for storage purposes as the first sight that caught her eye was a bed.
Of course it was not uncommon for an attic to be used in this way, but something seemed different to the other bedrooms she had passed by on the first floor, which had been laden with sheet covered furniture.  By comparison the attic was sparse, especially for its size which clearly spanned the entire length of the house.  Odd surveyed the space which contained only a bed, a shelf and a rickety looking table nestled next to two chairs.
Moving farther into the space she noted that the attic had been used for storage also as piles upon piles of crates were stacked up, almost blocking the only windows up here.  Whoever had slept in the attic must have been the black sheep of the family for they certainly wouldn't have housed a favoured child or relative so grimly when the rest of the house was so evidently plush.

Turning around Odd felt a prickling sensation on the back of her neck as though a cold breeze had brushed passed her and then she spied it.  Almost concealed in the wall was a door made of the exact same wood as the panelling.
To the untrained eye it may appear to not be there at all but Odd could feel the cold breeze flowing from under its frame, creeping over to where she stood and alerting her to its whereabouts.

Reaching her opened hand out Odd wondered if this door would be as accommodating as the front one, but before her hand could even touch the silver knob a wave of hot air gusted in her face and a voice rang out "KEEP OUT!" 

Her hand continued to make it's journey towards the door knob as though her brain had not instructed it to stop quickly enough and as her palm touched it she felt not the expected sensation of cool steel but a searing pain as though she had stuck her hand in a fire.

Odd recoiled in shock and examined her palm, expecting to see second degree burns, but her flesh was unmarked and the sensation had now passed.  Rubbing her hand still in shock she stumbled backwards towards the bed.  Now that she was away from the door she felt the tingly sensation which had drawn her into the house envelop her, washing away her shock and returning her to her usual state of calm and she slumped down onto the bed sending further dust particles spinning into the atmosphere.  

Odd sensed that there were two forces at work in this house, the one which had called her in from the street who seemingly wanted her to remain and the other who resided in the inaccessible room who clearly wanted her gone.  Odd thought back to the book and what she had learned about some ghosts wanting closure and determined that the first spirit must want her to do something, to somehow help it achieve what it could not in life. 

She couldn't be sure if it was the spirit which planted the seed in her mind or if she was simply recalling her own secret hiding place but something told her to check underneath the bed.

Kneeling down amongst the dust bunnies Odd reached her hand under the metal frame and patted around, at first only finding the wooden floor boards at her fingertips.  But as she reached further and her whole arm disappeared under the bed she felt something hard stored almost at the centre.  Stretching as far as she could manage she gained enough purchase on the item to drag it from it's concealment.

As the item slid from its hiding place she realised it was a journal, leather bound and frayed at the edges from it's age.  Odd flicked open to the first page and read aloud "This is the journal of Alice Tavarick"  which was scrawled in neat, curly italics.  Picking up the book she housed it carefully next to Isador Hodgekiss's Book of Ghosts inside her coat, instantly noting the air of calm which had settled in the room.  Evidently whoever had drawn her up here was satisfied for now.

"Please Howie."  Morgan pleaded, "won't you reconsider?"

Howie shifted uncomfortably on the sofa next to her.  He had known this would be hard, but he had visited Morgan to tell her of his decision and he wasn't about to fall at the first hurdle.  "I have to Morgan, i should of done it so long ago." he replied, shaking his head.

"But where will you go?  All of your family is here and we........I need you."  She answered, her lip trembling.
Jenna began crying from her spot on the floor and Morgan rushed from the seat to tend to her niece.  Since her birth there had been no denying whose child she was, her shock of raven hair was all Noah's and Shay had been forced to admit to Travis that she had cheated on him with his cousin, effectively ending their relationship.
Howie rose from his seat and approached Morgan, "I need this Morgan please try to understand."  He begged her earnestly, "You have to let me go."

Morgan snuggled the little girl close taking in her delightful babyish fragrance.  It soothed her for a moment taking her back to the days when the triplets were toddlers, they had been a handful but how she wished that she could rewind the years and go back.  Life seemed so much simpler then. 

"What if I can't Howie?"  She asked quietly, "What if i can't make it on my own?"  She knew she sounded selfish, pitiful even begging him to stay when it was her actions and words that had driven Howie to chose to leave Bridgeport, but she couldn't bear for him to be so far away.

"You have to let me go now Morgan."  He repeated softly, "It's time i made my own life instead of shadowing yours."  Seeing the lost look on her face Howie stepped forward and placed a last kiss on Morgan's forehead.  He had made the right choice to move on and he knew the only way he could make the break clean was to leave town and head back to Twinbrook.
As Howie turned and walked from her life Morgan held little Jenna as close as she could.  Her own children were all so independent, they barely needed her anymore.  Her ex husband was poised to marry Celine and where was she?  Feeling more alone than ever before Morgan let her tears fall.

Though it had killed her the night before Odd had been forced to delay the reading of Alice's journal.  Having already been gone an entire day working on her imaginary book report, by the time she flopped into bed tiredness enveloped her and she had fallen almost instantly to sleep.  The next morning however she promised not to go too far and retreated to the waters edge, just in front of her father's apartment to find the peace and quiet she needed.

Eagerly turning the journals cover open she traced a finger over Alice's perfect lettering imagining the woman whose hand had held the pen then turning to the first entry she began her discovery of Alice Tavarick.
Life in Bridgeport certainly is not how I'd dreamed it would be.  Back at home on the farm I imagined a City with streets paved in gold, but the money to be made here is owned by the few and coveted by the majority.  But life has recently taken a pleasing turn and i am now in the employ of the Goldmar's the wealthiest family in Bridgeport by a clear mile.  I had hoped to find work as a clerk or something more intellectual but the skills Mama taught me at home have been my saving grace.  None of the wealthy women here even know how to bake their own bread! 

Mrs Goldmar hired me on the spot to run her household.  She's a matronly looking woman, but her clothes are hand made in France!  I can only imagine how fine it would feel to wear such a thing.  She likes to run a very tight ship here, her standards are the highest I've known but she pays reasonably, almost five simoleans a day!  And she has given me accommodation of my own in the attic room.

I don't yet know what to make of Mr Goldmar.  I feel his eyes on me sometimes while I'm working.  It makes me feel such mixed emotions, awkward and uncomfortable yet i cannot help be somewhat flattered by his attentions.  He is as handsome as the devil himself yet his eyes are that of an angel, such piercing baby blue.
Alice's first entry had captivated Odd.  From her writing style it was clear that Alice had lived many years ago and clearly it was she who had occupied the attic room.  The appearance of the room made sense now that a maid would have resided up there with just a few sparse belongings, yet to Alice it must have seemed like a welcome prospect given the harsh realities of life back then. 

Turning the page eager for more Odd began to read the next entry.

His eyes!  My goodness i could stare into them forever and not grow tired.  The way they twinkle when he catches my gaze and those soft creases that form when he smiles at me.  I know that it is wrong to feel the way i do for a married man, and my employer no less but i simply melt whenever he is around.
Mrs Goldmar does not deserve such a fine man as a husband.  I hear the way she addresses him as though he a naughty school boy and she his mother.  What ever possessed him to marry such a women i could not say.  Oh how i am cursed to find myself in the company of such a wonderful man but not be able to truly be his!

As Odd read the swirling scrawl she could almost feel the weight of Alice's feelings for Mr Goldmar leap from the pages of her journal.  Is this what love feels like?  Odd wondered.  To become so irrational that you can think of no one and nothing else?  If so she wasn't sure that she wanted to ever find out for herself, she was even uncertain that she wanted to read on to learn of what such feelings had brought Alice.

But curiosity won out and she turned the page.
Charles has become a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy life.  Just his presence would be enough to satisfy me for an eternity yet he lavishes me with such undeserved affection.  Just a touch of my hand and i am unable to contain my love for him.  I am certain that it must be written on my face, yet Mrs Goldmar treats me with the same level of contempt as ever.  Nothing i do for her is right it seems.
Yet to know that Charles returns my feelings is enough to see me through any of her complaints or chastisements.
He touched my face today so tenderly and fixed me with those angel eyes.  I could have stayed in that moment for the rest of the day quite contentedly, but heaven forbid that the silverware goes unpolished for a single day!
Odd was only vaguely aware that the sun was setting and the dusk creeping in across the ocean. 

It was apparent that Alice was becoming more consumed by her feelings for Charles to the point where she had ceased to care how either of their actions would affect Mrs Goldmar.  No good can come from this, Odd thought to herself. 

Why anyone would wish to love someone who they could never have was madness to her, yet she had to know more.

Charles came to me this evening, i have never seen him so distraught!  Mrs Goldmar suspects he is being untrue to her.  She threatens to leave him ruined and destitute as without her families money Charles is no more wealthy than i.  All these years he has worked tirelessly for her fathers shipping company and she seeks to cast him out with as little care as the leftover food she has me dispose of.

I begged him to leave this place with me.  We could return to my families farm and live together, I know i could make him as happy as he has made me. 
But Charles cannot leave.  Without his hard work the port would collapse and trade would dry up leaving countless numbers without work.  He is such a selfless man, forever putting the needs of others before his own welfare.  I could not help myself, i am ashamed to even write such things but i had to hold him, to take his woes away and soothe his pain. 
I know that my forwardness must have shocked him as he kept me at arms length.  Though his wife is cold and unforgiving he still wished to respect their wedding vows, such is the purity of his soul!  But just as i thought that all hope had been lost for our happiness he took me into his arms and kissed me with such a passion, i thought i should never know the touch of his sweet lips to mine.  "If we are damned then let us be damned together"  he whispered to me before taking me in his strong arms.  I am not ashamed to say that i lay with him tonight.  He is my all.

Odd had become so engrossed in Alice's words that she hadn't heard her father approach.

"Odette?"  he asked softly causing her to jump in fright.  "Sweetheart you've been out here all day."  He told her, frowning slightly in concern for his youngest child.

"Oh........I, um."  Odd mumbled, stuffing the journal surreptitiously into her coat pocket hoping he wouldn't ask her what she had been so caught up with.

"Come on, Celine has made salmon for tea."  He smiled placing his arm around her shoulder and leading her into the apartment.  Alice and Charles' love affair would have to wait for now as the real world beckoned and Odd had no choice but to oblige it.

Author's note :~ 
While i know some of you will be sad to see Howie leave i'm afraid it just wasn't meant to be between him and Morgan. 
However for all the Howie fans i am thrilled to announce that he is currently being featured in a Sims 3 short story by the very talented Nicarra60. 
You can catch up with Howie's new life in Twinbrook HERE

Thursday, 29 September 2011


Hi all

Just a quick note to say that I'm having problems posting comments to blogger and on some of your blogs too!  Not sure why it's all of a sudden not working, is anyone else having problems?  (Of course if you are you can't reply to this to tell me, so maybe this post is pointless!) 

I've changed the settings of the comments here from embedded to a pop out comment box in the hopes that this may help, if you can let me know if it's working OK for you?

Again sorry if i usually comment on your blog stories, i am still reading I'm just unable to leave you a comment!

Angie x

P.S : Next chapter is well under way and i hope to have it completed for tomorrow!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

CHAPTER 7.1: Seek and you will find

The moment Odd saw the expression on George's face she knew that something was seriously amiss with her friend.  One moment his aura had been sending her positive feelings of excitement and happiness at being included in the festivities of her birthday, the next those feelings had changed abruptly. 

She was used to feeling a tingly, numb sensation whenever George was nearby but now she felt as though shards of ice were passing through her body leaving her chilled to the bone.
Leaving the other party goers to fight over which of the delicious cakes they wanted a slice of, Odd followed George to where he had floated, partially hidden behind the garage.
She said nothing to her friend as the look of shock and disbelief remained firmly in place and she knew he would need a moment to regain his composure.

After the moment had passed George looked at her with his wide, hollow eyes and asked, "Why are you so different now Odette?" to which Odd stepped back, regarding him curiously.  Was it possible that George had no concept of ageing?  Perhaps as he was stuck being a perpetual child he had determined that this was a normal state of affairs and had assumed that Odd would grow no further.

"I'm a teenager now George."  Odd replied softly.

"But that's not right!"  George shouted, his washy voice piercing her ears more sharply than usual as his consternation rose.  "You were supposed to be my friend forever."  He cried.

"I will be."  Odd assured him.

"No!  It's not the same!"  George yelled.  "You're not the same!"
Odd had no idea how to respond to the boys annoyance, it wasn't as though she could undo her ageing she was alive and growing older was par for the course.  However, she had never considered that George thought that she would remain a child as he had.  His reaction set her mind racing on the subject of her "gift" again and she wondered for the second time if he knew what he was.

"I'm still your friend."  She explained quietly, "I just appear different on the outside."

George's eyes sunk closed and Odd was certain that if he could shed a tear in that moment he would, as again the whole mood he transmitted shifted to a melancholy one which she could not shake free from.

"I just wanted someone to play with me while i wait." George replied, his voice like liquid sadness.

As soon as the words left his mouth the atmosphere reverted back to one of anger and George began to visibly seethe, his image fractured and distorted.  Turning from her he floated away as fast as a cloud on a windy day and suddenly he vanished.

"George wait!"  Odd called, giving scant regard to her relatives who were still enjoying the party only yards away.  But the boy was gone.

"Keep your voice down!"  Oscar's voice came harsh and quick at her ear and Odd spun round finding her brother standing close by.  "I know the rest of the family find the fact that your name matches your manner endearing, but i am warning you Odd."  he spat the name distastefully, "Keep your craziness in check when we start high school next week, or you will be sorry."

Oscar turned on his heel and stalked back towards the party with Odd staring after him.

Taking a seat opposite Olivia he hissed under his breath, "I think you've had enough cake Liv, don't you?"

Odd watched as her sister dropped her fork and pushed the delicious, half eaten cake slice away.  Olivia had done exactly as Oscar had told her so Odd reasoned that this was the way it worked, she had better take heed of her brother's advice and be mindful of her actions at school.


The first day of High School arrived and Odd trailed behind her siblings apprehensively. While it seemed that Olivia was intent on following Oscar's lead Odd figured that she was not welcome to do the same.

Hanging back she glanced around the hallway filled with lockers and students, feeling as though the walls were closing in on her slowly suffocating her with their oppressive stature.  Taking a deep breath she held it for a while, wishing more than anything that George was with her.  With him at her side she felt capable of dealing with the large groups of Sims that banded together like pack animals in places such as schools.

Without him she felt adrift.

"Hey Oscar!"  A girls voice called towards them and Odd looked up to see Stacey Leigh waving him over. 

Her mind played back to the day she had witnessed her brother cause Stacey to fall from the jungle gym, yet still she treat him as a dear friend.  Odd supposed that the way Oscar behaved was normal, accepted by everyone else certainly, so maybe she should follow his lead.

Oscar and Olivia traipsed over to Stacey who was huddled in a group with her brother Anson and his friend Harry whose face lit up when he caught sight of Olivia, the boy instantly struck up a conversation with her which Olivia seemed to like. 

Odd watched as Stacey greeted Oscar with a similar doe eyed look, her brother Anson however did not.  He glowered at Oscar, much in the way that an alpha male might stare down a rival, but Stacey muttered something under her breath to him and he backed off.

Odd felt like a spare part standing alone in the hallway watching the other students align themselves with groups of friends, unsure of herself she decided that if Oscar wanted her to behave "normally" she should mirror what he and Olivia were doing and join in.  Although it went against her better instincts she edged towards the newly formed group. 

As she neared them Oscar caught sight of her and his expression told Odd that she had been mistaken, the last thing he wanted was for her to remind the others that there were three Traytor children starting high school that day.

Stopping mid way between the group and her original standing point, not wanting to appear foolish, Odd turned and walked into the nearest room she could see.  Hoping that the change in her course of action would stop Oscar from berating her later. 

But as Odd stepped into the room the sense of calm that it's solitude brought her was short lived as she realised she had walked straight into the janitors closet.

Silently cursing herself she glanced around the confined space.  As much as she was certain that the others in the hallway would be laughing at her mistake she still felt glad that she had wandered into what was, to Odd at least, an unequivocal haven from the hellishness of school. 

Odd wondered how long she would have to wait until the crowds outside had dispersed, and she would be able to face the corridor once more.  But no sooner had she settled into her little nirvana when the door to the closet opened and another student entered.

The girl who had spoiled Odds solace looked equally surprised to find the room occupied but her look of shock soon faded when she recognised the intruder.  "Odette Traytor?"  She asked.

"Y-yes."  Odd stammered, completely thrown by the girls knowledge of her. 

"You don't remember me do you?"  The girl replied, crest fallen before realising, "Well i suppose it's been a while and i do look a bit different."  She conceded, "It's me, Bellisama Hemlock.  Your Mom used to babysit me, remember?"

Odd regarded the girl again, squinting to try and picture the punk styled girl before her as the angry little vampire child she had been the last time they had met, then realising that it was probably rude to just stare she answered, "You do look different."

"Yes, well we all grow up even vampires."  Bellisama sniffed, "What are you doing in here?  The janitors closet is my hideaway." 

"S-Sorry i just kind of ended up in here."  Odd admitted, the embarrassment registering on her face as it blushed bright pink.

"Well i suppose we could share."  Bellisama sniffed, her arms were folded across her chest a defensive pose that Odd was sure she used often to ward off any unwelcome friendly advances. 

Though Bellisama was no less scary than she had been as a child Odd sensed a kindred spirit as the girl clearly preferred her own company to that of others.  She guessed that as long as she didn't intrude too much that the two of them could at least co-exist in the same space for a while. 

Bellisama unfolded one of the chairs and sat down taking a tattered copy of Bram Stokers Dracula from her back pack.  She smiled gleefully as Odds eyebrows raised at her choice of literature.

"Tends to freak Sims out seeing a vamp reading this."  She told her, conspiratorially.  "I bet they think I'm getting tips on how to drain their blood or something."  She let out a clipped laugh at her own joke.

Odd smiled and unfolded another chair next to Bellisama.  It was strange to her that most Sims would run a mile from her current predicament, being shut away in a confined space with a stand offish vampire.  But for Odd it was simply the most at ease she had felt all day. 

The rest of the school day passed Odd by in a blur as she attempted to avoid all social contact with the other students, which hadn't been hard since nearly all of them had ignored her.  Most had seemed content to whisper about her while others pointed and laughed, she supposed this was how it went, the weaker of the pack always was left to fend for itself.

While the alpha and his followers flourished.

Oscar it seemed had continued building his relationships by ingratiating himself with Stacey and Anson's crew, however Anson was not about to let his leadership of the pack go without a fight.

"Waiting in line for the bus with the rest of the cattle i see Traytor."  Anson sneered as he approached, "Well i suppose it would beat driving your Mom's car, what is it she has these days a big lemon?"  He laughed derisively.

"Anson, don't be so mean."  Stacey chided her brother, "There's nothing wrong with taking the bus."  She retorted whilst batting her long eyelashes at Oscar hoping her defence would gain her brownie points, but Oscar was too busy seething at Anson's low blow.

"Come on Stacey, Harry.  Let's go."  Anson ordered flicking the button on his car keys to open his sports car.

Anson smiled smugly from the drivers seat, taking great pleasure in trumping Oscar's attempt at a take over.  There was no competing with the Leigh's, they were one of the wealthiest families in Bridgeport and there was nothing they wouldn't buy for their children including ridiculously over priced vehicles.

Oscar fumed silently from the side walk.  He would think of something to knock Anson Leigh down a peg or three, there was no doubt in his mind, but right now the anger was still raw and he could do nothing except retreat to lick his wounds.
Just at that moment Odd decided to join the queue for the school bus and Oscar rounded on her immediately hissing, "Don't even think about getting on this bus with me and Liv!"  He threatened, "You can walk home."

Odd looked at him in shock, he couldn't be serious could he?  But the look on Oscar's face did not suggest that he was joking, in fact Odd couldn't recall a time when Oscar had ever really joked about anything.  Biting her lip she trudged away from the bus queue towards the park, not really knowing where she was going. 

After walking around the City for what seemed like hours Odd eventually realised that she was lost.  She tried to follow other Sims who were rushing and pushing their way through the home time crowds, perhaps some of them might lead her the right way.  But soon the crowds became too huge and Odd felt as though she was going to drown in a sea of Sims.

Dodging into a side alley, she propped herself up against the wall trying to force the air back into her lungs all at once, causing her to gasp and cough loudly.  After a while she straightened herself out and headed down the alley in hope of finding a subway station.

But at the end of the alley all she found was a building site and glancing around she realised she was in a fairly unsavory district of Bridgeport.  Odd kept walking not wanting to stick out too much, she kept her head down and hoped that she would find her way soon, before it got dark.

As she turned the corner though she came across a shop, which seemed most out of character considering the neighbourhood it occupied.

Although the building itself was little more than a tin shack, the outside had been decorated with cobbled stones and a display of fresh pumpkins which lent a quaint old world feel to it that drew Odd in.

She pushed open the door to the shop and heard the tinkling chime of a little bell which had announced her arrival.  The first thing to hit her was the fragrance exuding from the shop, a combination of spiced apples and cinnamon with just a hint of smoked patchouli.
The second thing to hit her was the interior of the shop.  It was decked out in Halloween bunting, from bobbing apples, to light up bats and fairly realistic looking crows.  The walls were dressed with quirky looking posters of witches and vampires and creepy old photo's of long dead relatives.  Odd felt a warm fuzzy feeling and for the second time that day felt instantly at ease, as though entering the shop had brought her somehow closer to home.
The shop appeared to be empty apart from Odd so she decided to take a closer look at some of the items on display until she heard a door creak in front of her and a woman stepped onto the shop floor.

"Oh good gracious a customer!"  The woman exclaimed, clutching her chest as though this were the last thing she had expected to see,  "Welcome my dear to Fairchild's Emporium, i am Elsa, Elsa Fairchild."  The woman stepped forward offering out her hand which Odd took cautiously, unsure if she was observing the correct etiquette implied by the out stretched palm.

"So what can i help you with today?"  Elsa continued, resting her hand on Odds shoulder and leading her towards the centre of the shop, "Let me guess, you're looking for a Halloween costume?  Or perhaps some decorations to spook your friends and neighbours with?  Well rest assured we have the finest selection of goods here."

Odd perused the table of assorted jack-o'lanterns and ghostly toys with detachment, having never participated in the annual festivities due to her severe lack of desire to dress as something scary whilst harassing neighbours for candy.  She felt her initial warmth and comfort begin to fade as she realised that this was not the home away from home she had first thought, but merely a novelty store, appealing to the masses.
"Oh no I've got it wrong again haven't i?"  Elsa asked, her hand flying to her face.  "Maybe it's a gift you're after, a scented candle perhaps or a photo frame?"  She asked brightly, her face falling as she took in Odds blank stare.  "No, wait, don't tell me, I'll get it."  Elsa continued.

Odds eyes began to glaze over as the woman continued to reel off a long list of her stock until something she said caught her attention, "Books?"  Odd asked, interrupting Elsa mid flow.

"Ah ha!  So it's knowledge you seek."  Elsa proclaimed,  "Well what in particular did you have in mind, casting a spell perhaps?  Want to make a love potion to attract a special someone?"  The woman smiled and winked at Odd knowingly.

"Been there done that!"  Elsa laughed, nudging Odd who joined in the laughter slightly too late like a child who had missed the punchline.

Odd hesitated, surely Elsa and her emporium had nothing to offer her, yet why had she felt so familiar and secure the moment she had stepped inside the door?  She wondered if maybe, just maybe there could be something of interest to her here.
What was it the woman had said, "So it's knowledge you seek?"  Well she had certainly hit the mark there, Odd needed directions home.  But that wasn't it was it?  No there had to be some other reason she had stumbled across this place. 

Odd realised she needed to dig a little deeper and found that there was only one burning question she had which needed answering.  She had to find out more about George.

Odd wondered how Elsa would react if she just blurted out that she had a ghost for a friend and needed help figuring out why she was the only one who could see him, but then thought twice.  Although the woman seemed a little kooky she probably wasn't completely insane and Odd reasoned that it would be best not to make herself appear so right off.

Instead she summoned all her courage and asked, "Do you have any books about ghosts?"

Elsa considered this about turn for all of a millisecond then launched into an excited speech about her extensive stock range, "Well there's plenty of ghost stories out on display."  She began, "Were you thinking Casper the friendly ghost or something a bit more hair raising?"  She queried.

"Actually i just wanted to know more about seeing ghosts."  Odd clarified, holding her breath expecting Elsa to laugh in her face.

But Elsa's face did not crumple under the weight of her laughter, it creased into a serious look for a moment as she considered the request.

"Hmm, so your looking for something more factual then?"  She surmised, pausing to consider her next move briefly.  She eyed Odd as though appraising her character before saying, "Follow me."

Odd followed the woman towards the door Elsa had originally appeared from and hesitated.  Was it wise to follow her into an unknown room?  She had a feeling that it wasn't and yet still she felt nothing but calm and as Elsa swung the door open Odds eyes grew large as she stepped unencumbered by doubt into the room.

The back room was filled with row upon row of bookcases all stacked to the brim, surely all these couldn't be about seeing ghosts?  Odd pondered and as if reading her mind Elsa replied, "Not all of them no."

Odd stared at her open mouthed, "How did you know...."

"What you were thinking?"  Elsa finished her sentence for her, "Just a little gift of mine."  She smiled brightly.

"But before in the shop you were rubbish at guessing what i wanted."  Odd replied.

"That's because you didn't know yourself, not until i mentioned books at least."  Elsa smiled, "Then you remembered a question you had about George, was it?"

Odds eyes widened further and she struggled to find the words to say, but then she supposed she didn't need to try too hard to find them, not with Elsa's gift in use.

"Don't be afraid."  Elsa told her, sensing the girls wariness.  But Odd was anything but afraid, she never thought she would meet another Sim who had a "gift" and now it all made sense why she had been drawn here and why she felt immediately at ease.

"Do you have anything that might help me understand what ghosts are?"  Odd asked, her face lighting up with hope.
"Let's see."  Said Elsa, perusing the expanse of books at her fingertips, "Yes, i have just the thing."  She smiled, picking out a heavy, ancient looking book and handing it to Odd.

"I-I don't have enough money."  Odd apologised.

"That's alright you may lend this one."  Elsa smiled, "I have a feeling you'll definitely be back Odette."

After Elsa had kindly lent Odd the book on ghosts and pointed her in the direction of the nearest subway station, she had eventually arrived home hours later than her brother and sister.  She had to tell a small white lie to her Mom to explain her absence and the best she could come up with on the spot was that she had signed up to an after school activity, a book club, which her Mom thought was a brilliant idea.
Odd reckoned that she wouldn't be so understanding if she revealed the subject of the book or her discovery of Fairchild's Emporium, so she omitted these details and waited until the rest of the house was in bed before taking the book from her satchel and once again perusing it's musty old pages.

The front cover displayed a rather realistic looking photograph of two ghosts, who both emanated with a similar glow to George and its title read, Ghosts: A complete account by Isador Hodgekiss.  Snatching the book up from her desk, Odd climbed into the top bunk and began to read.

The book's first chapter began by explaining that ghosts are a manifestation of a deceased Sim, which usually appear in the exact same shape and form that they had shown whilst they were living.  Although it went on to reveal that some ghosts were able to shift shape and could appear as frightening apparitions. 

Odd was thankful that the few ghosts she had seen had chosen to appear as they had been in life, she could only imagine how terrified she would  have been as a baby to witness a ghoulish figure floating above her crib.

As Odd read on the book began to discuss why ghosts manifest themselves, suggesting that if a Sim had met a particularly violent end it may chose to haunt a particular place or even another Sim in an attempt to seek vengeance. 

She didn't think that this seemed to fit with George, certainly it didn't fit with Grandpa Cody who had died peacefully in his sleep.  However she was intrigued by one point that was raised, being that if a Sim died suddenly or died when it was particularly young it may not realise what had happened, and it could become stuck in limbo between this world and the afterlife. 

This struck a chord with Odd instantly, George had clearly only been a child when he had passed on so perhaps he didn't realise that he was no longer in the world of the living.  Her heart felt suddenly saddened by the thought of George struggling to understand why no one could see him or speak to him anymore and she realised how truly important she must be to the boy.  After all there couldn't be many Sims who could see the dead, let alone speak to them.

All this time Odd had felt lucky to have a friend in George never realising how lucky he must have felt to have her, she became even more determined to discover how George had ended up in limbo and how she could help him find his way to wherever he was supposed to be.

The next chapter of the book was entitled, conversing with the dead, and although Odds clock flashed the time as being well passed 2 a.m, she pressed on regardless, desperate to understand more about her ability and how she could put it to use.