Life sure didn’t turn out how one expected. Certainly when I came to Sunset Valley, I had all sorts of hopes and dreams and plans. But everything with Nicky just sort of… broke me. I was unable to really live. Had so many years gone by already? I was close to my big birthday… my midlife. I felt old, worn down, ready to throw in the towel but then they gave me the strangest call of all…
I was back at the science lab, the place I promised never to be at before. But ever since Nicky had hurt me, they had started becoming more and more part of my life. They would ask a favor of me once a month. Read a book, report in. Catch a fish, report in.
Always to Aiden. I never saw anyone other than Aiden, but the persons who called me were the voices. The haughty voice and the nervous voice, sounding like the same person but with different personalities. But I never met the owner of the voice, only had a few brief moments with them on the phone.
The first few months after me and Nicky, I had a hard time doing anything. I barely left my house, barely did anything but sit around and wallow. Elouia gave me a long break, promising me that once I was able to work again I would start where I was.
And I eventually did, unable to just wallow anymore. I needed to force myself to live again, as hard as it was.
I never made any real meals anymore. I’d have cereal, or toast, or ice cream. My fridge was hardly ever stocked with anything else, besides the food and bottles for the kids.
Daycare became everything to me. Those hours between when the toddlers were dropped off and picked up became the only thing holding me together.
As for my free time, I no longer went to the clubs. I considered it many times, but was too afraid of what would happen if I tasted alcohol. I wanted to drink to forget everything and didn’t dare give myself so much as a temptation to give into that dark addiction.
Instead I spent my nights and weekends parked in front of my TV.
Not that my choice of channel was a good thing. I rarely switched off the romance channel and wound up crying half the time. I didn’t meet anyone else but when would I? I rarely went out anymore, I was always working or watching TV. And when I did go outside it was to a friend’s house or else out to a local pond or river to go fishing–at night.
I even bought a fish bowl. My first fish, a goldfish, didn’t last long since I often forgot to feed it. But when I put a little rainbow trout in there I made sure to keep very good care of it. Hercules was my world after the kids left or the TV was turned off. Kinda sad, I know, but he’s all I had.
A few years after I had pulled myself out of my misery, Elouia convinced me to adopt. I had high hopes when I made the call. There were several children that needed a parent and all I had to do was pass inspection.
When Ms. Mayflower arrived from the adoption agency, the first thing she did was sneer at my tiny house. I tried my best to be nice to her but it seemed as though she had already made up her mind as soon as she walked into my house.
The sneer never left once her as she eyed my little shack. I showed her around and tried my best to show her how good a parent I would be.
It was clear she didn’t like my tiny house and even asked how I expected to raise a kid in such cramped quarters.
I explained to her that I would do anything for a kid, my kid. I told her I planned on buying a new place, a bigger house. I would give that child anything.
Ms. Mayflower insulted me, told me I wouldn’t be able to adopt, and even implied that a llama would be a better parent than me. My application was denied.
I felt like complete crap for weeks after that. But I just threw myself into my job even more, trying to spend more times with my friends and their children. Who, as they got older, became such beautiful youngsters.
Ayesha’s son, Lee, was turning into such a handsome young man. He liked to fish and Ayesha would let me take him with me on occasion. Ayesha was less than pleased when we brought home his first catch, a minnow, and I helped him get it mounted onto his wall. She insisted it made the house smell like fish but I knew she was happy Lee was having a good time with me.
Aiden’s twin girls, Marlene and Janel, were sweet children. Marlene enjoyed watching cartoons with me and tried convincing me to eat healthier while Janel often dressed in the same manner as I did and would tell me tales from the playground at school.
Katie Bee always seemed down but she didn’t talk much to the adults in her life. I wondered if it was because her two siblings were both adults and gone from home. Her father had been an elder since she was a baby, and Elouia was getting close to the big change into elderhood. I suspected Katie’s melancholy was from being such a young child in a big empty house.
And that was my life, pretty much, for the past six years. I wasn’t sure why I let Landgraab Facilities continually ask me for favors, but I listened to them. It gave me something to do and excuses to go over to Aiden’s.
But when they gave me that phone call… I wasn’t sure what to think. I considered just ignoring them. Maybe even moving. That was something I often considered, moving away form Sunset Valley. Maybe go to Riverview. But I loved Sunset Valley too much.
“Hello, Mr. Danevbie? We have a proposition for you.”
It was ridiculous. I should have just ignored them. They were probably up to something.
“We understand some of the… things you want out of life, and the thing is… there are some babies. They need parents.”
What kind of babies would be at a science lab?
“I think you should come in. We will meet you in Lab C.”
Lab C was supposed to be a secret, why were they letting me come in?
“Just come in anytime, the receptionist will let you in. I think you will be glad of this oppurtunity.”
Nosiness got the better of me, and on Saturday I went in. The receptionist didn’t seem surprised when I told her who I was, and told me where to go. Then she gave me a card and told me to use that plus the code ‘2X4B’ to get into Lab C.
I walked down a dark corridor, bewildered and burning with curiosity. Lab C was in a dark corner, nobody around. I looked around, worried someone would jump out at me as I swiped the card and punched in the number. The door opened and I stepped in.
The room was even darker than the hallway but I could tell it was small. I took a few steps in, looking around. It was tiny. Smaller than my house and even more crowded with junk. Only one door, the one I had come through. Was this really Lab C? Had I been tricked?
“Hello Jacob. How pleasant to finally meet you.”
I spun around at the voice, nearly tripping over something. The lights came on and I saw, finally, after so many years, the owner to that haughty voice.
“How good of you to come,” she said, giving me a rather blank stare. “I thought you wouldn’t.”
“Who…?” But my words stopped as someone else came into the room. As soon as my eyes focused on this new figure, my confusion over the voice was wiped away and I realized why they had sounded so alike but so different…
“We knew you’d be perfect for what we’re doing,” the girl said…
…and her twin brother added, “I h-hope you’ll g-give us your full, ah, attention”
Both of them gave me the strangest of looks and I fell back into a chair, too terrified to even move.
What the hell had I gotten myself into?