Which one of us is the God of Death?
The offering year for the God of Death used to be a somber and reverent occasion occurring once every nineteen years (nineteen being an auspicious number). It now takes place once a year and has way more skeleton limbo and cocktails.
-The Book of the Dead, Revised Edition
Alice sighed as she turned another page. The Sim’s Guide to Windenburg had been published in 1997, so while it was long on history from hundreds of years ago; it was short on any helpful details about the country in this century. Not that she was going to Windenburg, mind you. No, the entire exercise was to appease Ben, who had been going on about the baking contest nonstop since they saw the commercial last month.
“It has great mystical importance, Alice. The sages hid it away for centuries but now it’s back in the world,” Ben reminded her.
Alice rolled her eyes, “Yes, and since this is like the 84th time you’ve said that, I’m pretty clear on it.”
The librarian on duty gave her sharp look and shushed her. It probably didn’t help that Alice appeared to be talking loudly to herself.
She pointed at a “No Talking” sign and stormed off. As soon as her back was turned, Alice made a rude gesture and then quickly mouthed an apology.
It wasn’t the librarian’s fault that she was in a bad mood.
With another dramatic sigh that broke off into a squeak at a raised eyebrow from said librarian, Alice glanced around the room. The StrangerVille Information Center was barely a library. Oh sure, it had books and computers but it was really a gathering place for military personnel and research scientists. They all whispered at each other and drank sludgy cups of coffee from the 8 Bells bar next door. Occasionally, men in black suits like her father came in and motioned at stacks of papers, books, or computers that were then promptly removed. Even now, the only computers not taken by sims in white lab coats were marked “Ready for Hard Drive Transport.”
Not that the internet would be any help in confirming if this item of “great and terrifying power” was even real.
“I’m glad you brought that up,” Ben advised, “It’s powers are indeed terrifying. Or, well, the potential of its powers. Come to think of it, the creation of it was pretty terrifying as well. But fear not! I would say, based on my esteemed observation, that the benefits of it far outweigh the risks. In fact, it is imperative that you be the one in possession of this item…”
Alice resisted the urge to roll her eyes again and tried to tune him out by reading a page about dial-up modems coming Windenburg’s Modern District. Even for Ben this was a bit much. She had never heard him harp on something like this, not even the beginning of the reaping season, which he claimed was his favorite time of year.
“It is! But this is very—“
“Important,” Alice finished, “Yes, Ben. I’m aware. But you seem to forget I can’t bake—“
“You can learn.”
Alice snorted. “Are you addled?”
The librarian turned and growled in her direction. Alice lowered her voice to a whisper. “Besides, I don’t have any money.”
“What? We live in a hovel and you don’t pay for meals. How could we not have money?”
“We? Ben, please, I’m the one working. And in case you’ve forgotten, it’s a shitty part-time job at a convenience store so no, we are not rolling in simoleons. And for that matter…wait, hold the hell up, did you just call my house a hovel?”
“Well, technically, you don’t live in the house, you live in the backyard,” Ben replied.
She couldn’t argue with him but her trailer was NOT a hovel. It was…well…small and cramped and the floor was covered in an unnamed stain that Alice had purposefully decided not to investigate. But it was a steal and it meant that if she squinted, she could pretend that she didn’t still live at home.
It wasn’t always this way. At first, she tried parking at the trailer park on the edge of town, but she had trouble covering her lot fees and paying her neighbors to keep quiet about her strange behavior. Apparently, 2015 had been an offering year for the God of Death. Explaining why a parade of literal skeletons and hooded creatures kept walking into the yard leaving black candles and piles of skulls got old real fast.
“Ah, yes, I do remember. What a good year it was! Did you know that we got three sacrificial skulls from the San Myshuno reapers? What a coup!” Ben clapped his hands excitedly at the memory.
“Do you also remember trying to explain to the police that those skulls were not victims of a homicide and then standing outside in the dead of winter while they executed a search warrant?”
Alice paused to smile at one of her mother’s colleagues.
The woman gave her a look that was somewhere between pity and censure. Alice knew that look. It was the “There goes Valeria’s weird daughter. You know, the one who’s touched in the head and lives in their backyard because she’s a hot mess” look.
Alice shrugged. There was no point in even fighting it anymore. She resumed her conversation with Ben. “I distinctly remember you reanimating a corpse when they tried to pick up your precious skull collection. I spent two nights in lock-up until they finally concluded that it must’ve been a prank. And then they charged me for pranking the police!”
Ben sighed happily, “I know. Good times right? There was that dancer in your cell. What was his name? Cat’s Meow? He was great!”
Alice shook her head. Kyle, aka “Cat’s Meow”, had been great. Well, he was passable and her three month dry spell bumped him up to a “fine.” They spent approximately 48 hours together and hooked up three times. But Alice put the kibosh on it as soon as the weekend ended. She couldn’t have a relationship. There was no telling when Ben would flip the switch and she’d lose control and really hurt someone. And besides, anyone who spent more than five minutes with her quickly concluded that she was completely nuts. That was okay when you had consumed four bottles of nectar reliving the harrowing boredom you both experienced in StrangerVille County Jail.
In the real world, though, no one would choose Alice.
“I am only here because you promised to be quiet if I did some research about Windenburg. I’m holding up my end of the deal,” Alice gestured at the book on the table.
“Yes, Yes, of course. You’re right. I’ll be quiet. I promise.” And with that, Ben went completely silent.
“Finally,” Alice whispered.