Completely normal sim walking.
Razing a city to the ground using lightning is not a decision made lightly (anymore). Now, the process requires at least six forms, to be completed in triplicate, and the approval of one or more lesser demons. Denizens of the city have exactly 47 minutes to submit an appeal which, with time being a flat circle, is certainly more than sufficient. – The Book of the Dead, Revised Edition
Alice was aware that she couldn’t stay in the bathtub forever. She told Vlad and William that she’d be ready at eight o’clock and Vlad struck her as the punctual type. Still, she sank deeper into the water. What the hell had possessed her to ask the vampire and his friend to join her? Alice was not a fan of parties, true, but she also wasn’t a fan of being around others. Vladislaus Straud certainly counted as other.
She groaned. Was he the Prince Vlad she read about in the book? That was totally possible since vampires lived forever right?
Oh shit, was she flirting with royalty?!?!?!
Alice turned in the tub, sloshing water everywhere.
No, no, that didn’t make any sense. Even if he was royalty, that was in the past. The world thought vampires were myth so he couldn’t very well show up in the Windenburg House of Commons and say: “I’m the Vladislaus Straud from the painting over there and I am your king. Bow to me please.”
She chuckled to herself and turned to sink back down into the tub. She doubted the word “please” was in Vlad’s vocabulary. He was grumpy. And kind of an asshole. A sexy asshole, but still, every time he started to look excited about anything, he quickly covered it with a scowl, like he was afraid to enjoy his life.
How did vampires refer to their state of being? Alice didn’t know anything about them, aside from what she had seen on TV, and she was pretty sure that was made up.
An unsettling thought occurred to her as she got out of the tub. She was the God of Death. Or at least, the “almost” God of Death. What if she killed him? What if she sucked the life right out of him like she nearly did to Mark? What if she called some terrible beast from below and it tore his head off?
Alice silenced her thoughts for a moment and looked around the bathroom. It was suspiciously quiet in her head. Ben was a lighter presence, but she had grown used to him bantering and answering her. Talking to Ben was like, well, talking to herself.
She heard happy humming in her head, but no response.
Like talking to an unruly, rude, arrogant, know-it-all part of herself, but…
“Now wait just a minute!” Ben exclaimed
“There you are! I knew you were still there. Lurking!”
“Lurking?” Ben gasped, sounding offended. “I wasn’t lurking! I was doing what you asked! And anyway,” he sniffed, “You didn’t address me directly.”
“Fine. Hello Ben. Please come and join the conversation. What’s the answer? Am I a danger to him? Could I kill him?”
“Well, I mean technically, vampires are undead…”
“Ben!” Alice snapped.
“What? By mortal standards, they are immortal. And by supernatural standards, they are incredibly hard to kill, so that’s a good number of points in the hardiness box…”
Alice groaned. “Ben!”
“You’re stonewalling. And don’t pretend to misunderstand me. It means you’re avoiding the question.”
Ben was quiet for a moment. “Alice…I don’t want to scare you.”
Alice swallowed. She couldn’t pretend to be braver than she was, but as her father always said: being unafraid was not a requirement for being brave. “Ben, I think the time to worry about scaring me is over. I nearly killed StrangerVille’s mayor with a cowplant.”
Ben gave a mild laugh. “That was impressive.”
He sighed. “Alice, you can raise the dead, call forth creatures from the furthest reaches of the underworld, make every field from here to Selvadorada fallow, raze a city to the ground with lightning. Yes, you can kill a vampire.”
Alice’s stomach dropped. “Oh.”
She had hoped that wouldn’t be the answer. Llamas! She was being so stupid. Why had she invited Vladislaus out?
Now, she’d have to make up some excuse. Something better than: “Hey, uh, btw, let’s put the kibosh on this ‘hanging out thing’ because I’m kind of like a death god and the chances of me killing you before I see those teeth in action is actually surprisingly high.”
“Now hold on,” Ben interrupted. “I said you could kill him, not that you would. You can learn to control it.”
Now it was Alice’s turn to sigh. She walked over to the closet so she could grab some things out of her suitcase. “What’s the point? I’m supposed to be trying to win this contest so I can get rid of my powers and become normal right? Vampires aren’t normal.”
“Yes, but, the contest will last for at least three months,” Ben reminded her, “Wouldn’t you rather know how to control it while you’re on television?”
He had a point.
“Nothing crazy right? I mean, all those rituals and rules you’re always telling me about, we’re not covering all of those right?”
“I mean we can’t just jump into it willy-nilly, we’ll at least need to cover the fundamentals—”
“Just so you don’t get stuck!” he finished quickly.
“And what about me passing out?”
Ben was silent for a moment. “We’ll be sure to work on magic in proportion to your…strength.”
Alice rolled her eyes. In proportion to her strength? Well, it was good to know that even the restrained version of Ben still had his patented arrogance.
“Whatever. Tell me more about this mixer and everything else you did while in possession of my body.”
Ben filled her in on the details and she had to admit, he had done a pretty decent job navigating the world. His packing left a bit to be desired. It was a mix of her regular outfits alongside some club-wear she had never seen before and inexplicably, a ball gown leftover from her cousin’s wedding. She tried on a few different outfits, but finally settled on black pants and a striped sweater.
Ben beamed. “I think it’s a fantastic outfit, if I do say so myself. Just the sort of thing you’d wear if you went out at home.”
“Well, you do say so yourself,” Alice muttered, but she was just giving Ben a hard time. While it was true that she didn’t go out that much and that the closest thing they had to a club in StrangerVille was the 8 Bells Bar; Alice felt confident.
A knock sounded at the door and Alice couldn’t help a squeal of delight as she ran for it. She paused in the livingroom.
“Okay, remember our deal. Get out of here, and no commentary on Vlad or any of his parts.”
“Me? I would ne—“
Alice gave him a warning growl.
“Yes, fineeeee. Being helpful. I remember. I’ll try not to pay attention. There’s a section of your mind that is still trying to remember the alternate names of every protein in the Fanconi Anemia pathway from your high school biology class. I’ll go there.”
“Thank you Ben!”
Alice took a deep breath and wiped her hands on her jeans. She would just be cool right? This was no big deal. It was just the first step on her path towards normal simdom. She opened the door to let them in and immediately stepped back.
Vlad and William were dressed like they were about to walk the carpet at the Starlight Accolades.
Vlad was dressed completely in black, which should have looked severe given his deathly pale pallor, but instead came off suave and dangerous. The cut on his clothes was exquisite, she could see his broad shoulders and…wait…was William wearing a button down with no shirt underneath?
“Won’t you be cold?” she asked after a beat.
William laughed and waggled his eyebrows. “Not a chance, we creatures of the night don’t feel much of anything when it comes to temperature.”
“Oh!” she laughed. “That makes sense. I’ve never met a vampire before so sorry if that’s rude.”
She stole a glance at Vlad. He was staring at her intently. She didn’t blush exactly, but she gave him a shy smile.
“You look nice too—“
He cut her off “You’re wearing that?”
William gave him a quelling look. Alice picked at her sweater. She supposed in comparison to them, she did look like she was going to an arcade instead of a club.
“You look lovely,” William assured her.
But Vlad’s eyes were wide. He licked his lips. “You should be wearing a coat,” he said finally, his tone stern. “We may not be able to feel the cold, but you certainly can.”
O-kay. That was a good point but he still made it like an asshole. She wasn’t an idiot. She planned to wear a coat. She understood how weather worked.
Alice heard throat clearing and whistling in her head. She folded her arms. “Okay, spit it out.”
“Uh…” William started to answer, but Alice slid her eyes away from him.
“We don’t have a coat,” Ben said.
“What? You bought a bus ticket and booked a hotel but you didn’t pack a damn coat!” Alice covered her face with both hands.
“We already covered this! It’s been literal ages since I actually had a corporeal form. How was I to know about temperatures? Besides, the cool air was refreshing given how much energy I had to expend just making you walk.”
Alice gritted her teeth, “If you are calling me fat—“
William held up his hands “Whoa there! Now, no one is throwing that word around. Are you…is there something wrong? Do you need help?”
Vlad gave him a furious look, but William continued
“Listen, she says she’s not a medium and she’s not a witch, we know that much. I’m not sure if she is a regular sim being haunted or just plain cr—“
“She is not that word.” Vlad’s tone was flat and brooked no argument.
She could practically feel the fury radiating off of him. William stepped back. Not in fear, more like he had just handled a particularly volatile substance and was now trying to set it down without blowing up the room.
Alice wanted to break the tension. Well, she wanted to kiss Vlad…and then shake him for being so hot and cold but she settled for a simple thank you.
William was still looking at her strangely. It wasn’t unkind, it was troubled. Pitying. Alice was used to that look. That look always came before a sim started avoiding her on the street and refusing to answer her calls.
She looked down. She didn’t want to explain Ben, not yet. It was complicated and she was trying so hard to be normal. In fact, she needed to practice getting out of situations like this if she was going to compete in this contest without embarrassing herself.
She plastered on a smile. “Yeah…cool…so sorry if I’ve been acting weird. I’m going to reign it in. From here on, completely normal sim walking. Nothing to see here folks!”
She cringed at how high pitched and awkward she sounded. Nothing to see here folks?
And then for reasons known only to the llamas above, she tried to recover from her awkward apology with a dance.
By all that was holy, she could not seem to stop herself.
For a second she wondered if it was maybe working. Maybe she looked fun and carefree and totally fine.
But then she hit herself in the head with her own fist.
What the actual fuck had she done?
Vlad and William stood there, mouths agape. Even Ben was silent with horror. Alice scrambled to dig herself out. This was why she hated being around others.
With a squeak, Alice hurled herself at the door and flung it open. She did not wait to see if they followed.
Shout out to Dolly Llama for the Fanconi Anemia pathway joke. Her SimLit is really great: great writing, great characters unraveling at an alarming and fascinating pace, and great jokes. Please check it out: Willoughby Whippets and Tibetan Spaniels
Bathtub Posepack by Simunderstood
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