Spooky Day quickly approaches, and Polaris and the Bee Brood prepare for it by carving jack-o’-lanterns. Luna grimaces as she scoops the guts out of a pumpkin.
“What, too gross?” Polaris laughs.
“This is the definition of gross, mom. Why are we doing this?”
“Because tomorrow’s Spooky Day! We have to get in the spirit, Lulu,” Polaris wants to give her children normal, human experiences.
“It’s icky. And what’s the point,” Luna mumbles, “someone is just going to smash them.”
“How about you, Elly? What are you carving?”
“A cat,” she finally says, “I like cats.” She’s been trying to keep to herself, trying to stay out of other people’s minds. Recently, she’d begun to feel ugly; something about being telepathic makes her feel too powerful, like she is better than everyone else.
“Hey,” Polaris interrupts before it can become a full-fledged fight, “are you excited about going to your father’s house this weekend?”
“Yeah!” Luna brightens up. She is definitely fond of her father, and sometimes Polaris worries that her daughter loves Luke more than her.
“He’s going to take us the arcade this weekend,” Solaris adds, “though I suggested the aquarium.”
“Arcade’s better,” Luna sneers. Elysia is inclined to agree. Solaris rolls his eyes—eye rolling had become its own language in the Bee household, a subtle way of saying screw you.
“The arcade sounds like fun, though I think the aquarium sounds cool, too. If he doesn’t take you there, I will,” Polaris smiles at Solaris. She likes that her son has scientific appreciation; it’d be nice if his sisters were more academically motivated.
Elysia squints at Polaris—a sudden flash of thought attracts her attention. She can make out a few colors and a few words, but they don’t seem like they’re in Simlish. She’s never been very good at reading her mother.
“What do you do when we’re at dad’s?” Elysia tries to sound casual, but she’s on a fishing expedition—her mother is keeping something from them, just like Luna was trying to keep something from Elysia a few weeks ago. Morbid curiosity gets the better of her.
“Oh, nothing much,” Polaris lies, “I mostly hang around. Watch TV. Stuff like that.” Elysia narrows her eyes. Nothing.
Polaris and Crux quickly fall into a routine. On Saturday mornings, she drops the kids off at Luke’s. He recently had bought some curtains, at Polaris’s insistence, which makes her feel safer about leaving them there. Once the kids are gone, Crux comes over. He and Polaris had decided that it was best if they waited a little longer to tell the triplets about their relationship.
Their first time had been clumsy, a mess of hands and lips. That didn’t make it meaningless, though, or any less pleasurable. Each time, with increasing exploration and instruction, it becomes more and more enjoyable.
It’s a comfortable routine, but Crux isn’t satisfied with comfort alone. He’s spent the majority of his life making safe choices, but the unsafe choices have had more gratifying outcomes: Polaris, for instance, is the result of an unsafe choice. This matter weighs heavily on his mind this particular night.
“Is the sushi good?” Polaris asks.
“Yes, Polaris. It always is.”
“That was a half-hearted,” she raises an eyebrow.
Crux sighs. “I would like to speak candidly with you.”
“I’m nothing if not candid, Crux.”
“I want to do more than have dinner, watch television and…erm...”
“Make love?” Polaris offers.
“That is a trite expression,” Crux says, “besides, can love be constructed? There must be a better euphemism.”
“Do not be crass,” he laughs, “My point is that we may have fallen into a rut. We may wish to explore other avenues.”
“You mean like anal? That’s an exit only, Crux.”
“What? No, I mean perhaps we should try other activities. Such as attending a public performance at a theatre, or strolling through a park, or something similar.”
“Oh, you mean a date? Yeah, we can go on a date,” she replies, “I’ll take you somewhere tomorrow. But tonight, let’s continue to fall in that rut.” She winks; Crux blushes.
The following afternoon, Polaris takes Crux to Desert Lanes, a local bowling alley. It is surprisingly empty, a godsend for aliens looking to avoid notice.
“What sport is this, Polaris?”
“Call me Polly in public,” she reminds him, “and it’s called bowling. It’s not really a sport, unless you consider chucking a piece of polyurethane at a bunch of pieces of wood a sport.”
“And how do you play?”
“Are you okay?” Polaris asks as he picks himself off the ground.
“Yes, I am uninjured.”
“Good—then I don’t feel bad laughing,” she points at him and snickers.
In the end, though, she’s the winner. She cheers at the final score.
“I think I performed admirably as well,” Crux protests.
“You always ‘perform admirably.’ C’mon, we’re going on a roller coaster next,” she grabs his hand and leads him to the door.
“What is a ‘roller coaster’?”
“It’s fun, Crux. That’s the point of about 90% of the contraptions in Simnation are for fun.”
“The both of us are trained for interstellar travel; this is mere child’s play.”
“Shush, Crux—you’re ruining it.”
“Spoilsport,” she snaps at him playfully.
“I am not so simple minded as to derive pleasure or fright from such frivolities,” Crux hides a smile, “in other words, I am not like you.” His voice vibrates as the coaster chugs along.
“Screw you, asshole.”
“Oh, I thought you were not so simple minded,” Polaris taunts him, upon catching her breath.
As they exit the coaster, Crux notices a photo booth. He tugs on Polaris’ arm.
“We should take a photograph,” he suggests.
“Mmm? Yeah, sure,” Polaris is feeling a little queasy. Crux pulls her into the photo booth, and they pose for a few silly pictures.
“I don’t feel radiant,” she moans, holding her stomach.
“I would venture that it is time for you to return home,” Crux says weakly.
“I didn’t think I would feel bad after the ride,” Polly whines, “I thought it’d be easy-peasy.”
“Come, Polaris. I will get you to bed.” Polaris nods, sullen-faced. Crux wraps an arm around her and leads her out of the park.
Crux paces outside the bathroom; when Polaris opens the door, he stops in his tracks. “How are you feeling?”
“Better,” she smiles, “Less disgusting.” Crux strokes her cheek.
“You feel warm,” he murmurs, “Very warm. You might be ill.”
“Hmm. We do not know much about human diseases. I hope you have not contracted anything,” he furrows his brow, “you had your vaccinations before you began this assignment, right?
“Yes, Crux. I’m okay. I just feel a little weak from puking my guts out. But,” she pauses, “there is something you could do to make me feel better.”
“Will you stay with me until I fall asleep?”
“Of course,” he brushes her bangs out of her eyes and smiles.
“Not tonight,” he pauses, “frankly, I do not wish to kiss you right now, much less—"
Crux lays with her until she falls asleep. He gently extracts his arm from underneath her and tiptoes out the room to the foyer. Cool air meets him when he opens the front door. The season is finally changing. He breathes in the cold, relishing it—there’s nothing like this on Alcyone. It’s always smoggy and muggy there.
As Crux strides across the front lawn, he hears a strange humming noise. Wind begins to whip around him—something is disrupting the air. He looks up at the sky. Lights twinkle at him, signaling some strange phenomenon. He shields his eyes as the heavens flash bright blue.
Author’s Note: So Crux’s eyebrows changed color about halfway through the chapter. I have no idea what happened. I didn’t even notice until I was resizing the pictures. Oh well. I guess he dyed them for some reason.
I played the game for several days without taking many pictures, so this chapter is the result of that. It was kind of fun and challenging to write a chapter without much planning—it’s been awhile since I’ve done so. The next chapter will definitely be more structured.