Friday, 25 July 2014

Another Place

In Another Place

Having clearly failed to maintain my momentum on this story, and generally losing interest in The Sims for a while I have found my way back to the game and decided to try once again!

Keeping it a whole lot simpler, nowhere as detailed (so far), I am going to try to continue my Slade story.

I had initially tried to use Tumblr for this new story but I was frequently frustrated by the lack of control I had over the look of my pages so I have (as of 10th August 2014) moved it all back to Blogger!

It is still separate from the original legacy story so can be found in a new blog at:

Thank you.


Sunday, 6 October 2013

Chapter D5: Peril In The Park

Peril In The Park

After that kiss by the skating rink, Damien thought about little else but spending more time with Yuri.  Over the next days and weeks they visited almost every venue and event in Aurora Skies.

One of the most unusual, for Damien, was the time they went to one of Yuri's favourite pubs, the Dealers Arms.

He was rather surprised that, apart from the barman and himself, there were no other men there at all.

When he pointed this out to Yuri, she was a little taken aback.  "Really?  I hadn't noticed.  Maybe all the men are busy.  Fixing cars.  Or fishing.  Or pumping weights, or something?"
"Hmm, yeah, that's probably it."

Damien wasn't sure he believed her, but everyone was friendly, the beer was good, and they had a shiny new table football game in the side room.

-- * --

Although the AS days had started to cool as autumn set in, after a particularly energetic walk through the woods and hills around the town, when they got back Damien suggested a visit to the Serenity Sands Beach spa.

Despite the encroaching evening chill, the hot coals and enveloping steam kept them warm and cozy and it proved to be the perfect way to relax their aching muscles after the day's exertions.

Naturally, it wasn't just the steam of the sauna that helped keep them warm.  As they spent more time together, the feelings they had for each became stronger and less resistible.  In a location as beautiful, and at this time secluded, as Serenity Sands ...

-- * --

A particular treat that Damien had been forward to for some months was a trip across the city in a hot-air balloon.  There was only one company offering flights in AS and it wasn't until early autumn that they had a slot for him and Yuri.

When the day arrived for their flight they headed to Perspective Park where a crowd had already gathered to watch the balloon being inflated and prepared for take-off.

After a quick chat with the pilot about the planned journey Damien returned to the park office to join Yuri who had checked in and was collecting an armful of brochures about other possible balloon journeys.

As he walked the few dozen metres across the park, the afternoon sky darkened, as if an ominous dark cloud had suddenly appeared.

Hearing gasps and shouts from the crowd assembling for the balloon flight Damien looked around, and up where others were looking.

A fireball was streaking through the sky.  It must be close as he could here the rushing of the wind as it sped over the town.  But, he and the crowd soon realised, it wasn't going over the town at all, it was coming down into the town!

As they watched the fiery spectacle, it's trajectory soon became frighteningly clear.  It was actually going to land close to the town centre. Very close, in fact, it could be heading directly for them in Perspective Park!

Damien raced back into the park reception to, somehow, protect Yuri from the damage the meteor would inevitably cause.

Within moments, the meteor had crashed, practically a direct hit on the balloon itself.

With a terrifying explosion the propane tanks in the basket erupted into intense flame, disintegrating the basket and envelope in an instant.

As searing pieces of wicker and metal from the balloon and chunks of smashed rock from the meteor flew across the park Damien threw himself down and across Yuri in a desperate attempt to minimize their exposure to the flying debris.

Within seconds the intense flash flame of the propane fire dissipated, with only the smouldering remains of the park furniture continuing to burn.

Luckily the explosive force of the released propane had thrown a most of the debris far across the park and also quickly exhausted the fire so, as they lay on the floor of the park building Damien felt pretty confident that they had escaped serious injury.

As he looked down at Yuri, still holding her close, her limbs felt rigid but her chest was heaving rapidly as she gasped for breath.  Slowly sitting her up and checking for any obvious injuries, Damien tried to calm her.  "It's fine, we're OK.  The fire's out and we're both safe, try to relax.  We 'll just sit here for a moment, we're fine."

Barely able to even mouth words, Yuri just stared at the devastation wrought on the park as Damien continued to comfort her.

Within a few minutes the emergency services arrived on the scene and a paramedic rushed over to them.  Gently supporting her Damien brought Yuri to her feet as the medic directed them to one of the ambulances.  "C'mon babe, just get to the hospital for a quick check-up and then we can get you home."  Feeling her hand tighten it's grip of his arm, "Don't worry, I'll be here with you, you won't be alone tonight."

Chapter D6 coming soon ...


Authors Note:  The Dealers Arms pub is available for download from my Exchange studio: Dealers Arms.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Chapter D4: Falling But Not Failing

Falling But Not Failing

Today, Damien was treating himself to breakfast out.  Or, more accurately, he had accepted Yuri's invitation to spend the day together, starting with breakfast at the Björn Café.

It was a typical bright day in AS, but this early in the morning there was still a chill in the air, so rather than using the popular roof-top dining area, they stayed inside.

With a clear view across to the sea, the genial and unobtrusive service, this was a great place to enjoy delicious simple home-cooked food.

"So, what shall we do with the day?" Yuri pondered.
"We could head up to the park, see what's happening and make plans from there ..." Damien suggested
Yuri readily agreed, "Sounds good to me, maybe I'll beat you in another water fight" she laughed.

Not wishing to get soaked again, nor beaten by Yuri once more, Damien suggested a little kick-about to warm up.  Smiling in agreement, Yuri offered a challenge "If you're sure, and whoever scores the most goals can choose the next activity."

Having had some success in school matches, Damien accepted the challenge and they tossed a coin for first stint in goal.

To be honest, Damien should have realised that her agility avoiding water balloons was a transferable skill. as Yuri proved to be equally quick as a goalie.  He soon discovered that wherever he tried to place the ball, more often than not his opponent was there to catch it.

"Well, four out of ten isn't that bad I suppose."  Yuri said comfortingly as she placed the ball on the spot to take her turn as striker.

One, two, three quick and easy goals later Damien realised he was destined to lose this particular competition.

Thinking that if his own skill was not going to be sufficient perhaps some distraction techniques might work in his favour.

"Oi, referee! Foul play!"  Yuri called out.

"Ohh, the crowd calls out, the stakes are high ... can the star striker take the pressure?"  
Punching the ball into the left corner as Damien leapt inelegantly to the right, "Yes she can!" Yuri laughed in triumph.

Despite his best efforts, and attempts to put her off, Damien finished their little contest 7 - 4 down. "OK, what further humiliations have you in mind for me?"

"Ohh, don't worry, I don't want to be cruel, perhaps something non-competitive might be safer ... " Yuri paused, "For your ego!", punching him playfully on the arm.  "Tell you what, I haven't spent much time on the rink this year, let's get some skates and see what funky moves we can lay down."

It had also been a while since Damien last put on roller skates so he was a little nervous as he led Yuri on to the platform but as he got up to speed he was pleased to realise that his sense of balance hadn't deserted him.

Like riding a bike, he thought, once learned the muscles seem to remember how to do it themselves ... just don't over-think it - that inevitably leads to bruises!

Looking back at Yuri, it was clear that she wasn't quite as familiar with the roller-skates as she had made out.  He tried not to gloat, but Damien was a little pleased that here was something Yuri wasn't effortlessly better at!

"Here, take my hand, we can skate together while you find your balance."

Once Yuri was feeling more stable Damien moved slowly round to face her and, now holding both her hands, they spun slowly across the rink surface.

"Ready to try something?" Damien asked

"Sure, show me what you got."

With that Damien let go of one hand, slowed right down and started to spin Yuri around himself before letting her go.

Yuri's orbit was almost complete but as Damien reached out to catch her she shifted her balance slightly and ...

She crashed unceremoniously to the floor, just clipping Damien and bringing him tumbling down with her.

Gathering themselves back up, Yuri, rubbing her bruised behind in a vain attempt to sooth the dull ache, smiled sheepishly at Damien.

But he was mortified that his attempt at such a simple move could have hurt his friend. "Are you alright?  I'm so sorry.  Are you hurt?"

"No, no, I'm fine, really. Gonna have a sore arse for a while but I'm OK.  To be honest I've never been good on wheels, but I didn't want you to know that.  And now, well, pride and dignity are not a good mix!"

The pair made their way, gingerly, off the rink and removed their skates.

"As it happens I'm not a great fan of dignity anyway, never had any myself!  You will have to remind me, if I ever try to do anything 'clever' again, it'll probably end in disaster!"

"Oh, don't be silly! You had it under control 'til I messed up ..."

They both fell silent, and the buzz of activity in the park seemed to fall away as well, looking into each others eyes.  Damien was entranced by the soft curve of Yuri's smile, her lips held parted, as if to continue the conversation, but then frozen in the moment.

He couldn't say exactly what it was, but his body felt somehow different.  It was like a switch had been flipped and he had this incredible sensation of calm, that, now, everything was 'right', but there was also an excitement, of realisation.

The more he looked at Yuri, the greater was the intensity of that feeling.  There was only one thing he could do ...

Taken by surprise, Yuri initially recoiled slightly as his lips touched hers.  But the warmth of his body being so close to hers, and the comforting sensation of his arms around her didn't feel wrong.  In fact it felt wonderful!

As Damien stepped back,he looked a little shocked at what he had just done, "I'm so sorry, I don't know ..." Yuri put a finger across his lips, "I'm not ..."

With that she pushed Damien's arms down to his side and leant in ...

The world around them could have disappeared entirely and they wouldn't have noticed. For Damien and Yuri there was only their embrace, nothing else was important.

For Damien Slade, Yuri was, in one sense, the final piece in the jigsaw of his life so far and, in another sense, the first piece in another, altogether puzzle that would be even more fulfilling and satisfying.

Chapter D5: Peril In The Park

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Chapter D3: A New Skill

A New Skill

It was something Yuri had said in passing, which he then started to notice as he went about the town.  Fishing was a very popular activity here in AS, and as he thought about it, he felt that it was something he might enjoy; a good way to pass time on those days when he wasn't needed at the bookshop.

Unfortunately Damien knew next to nothing about the how or what ... or anything about fishing!  So, first call was the 'outdoor activities' section of the bookshop!

As chance would have it, he found a copy of the legendary "Fly Fishing" by JR Hartley which turned out to be not just very informative but also remarkably engaging and he was filled with a determination to be the best angler he could!

Enthused, Damien headed straight to the nearest general store to get the essential equipment he needed to start this new hobby.

Just as he was about to head off to use his new knowledge for the first time Damien noticed the time.  He had arranged to meet Yuri at the festival park!  Dumping his newly acquired kit into the back of the pick-up he rushed off to the date.

-- * --

One thing Damien had come to learn about Yuri; she wasn't exactly punctual.  Which, on this occasion, was a blessing. Although fifteen minutes late himself, it was almost five minutes later that he noticed Yuri coming into the park.

Ducking behind one of the barriers on the 'water battle' pitch, he waited for her to approach before launching a pre-emptive water balloon.

Yet, despite his readiness and Yuri's unpreparedness, Damien's inability to throw to his aim, and his target's agility meant that not one drop of water landed on Yuri.

Yuri, on the other hand, was something of an expert in the art of water battle.

Within only a few minutes Damien was about as wet as if he had jumped fully clothed into a pool!

Thankfully the day was warm enough for the soaking not to be uncomfortable and, indeed, before long he had dried out anyway.

Which was good, considering that they had tickets for the cinema in the evening.  So, after a few hours enjoying the games and stalls at the park, along with a little more junk food than he was used to; Damien and Yuri left for the Triple-P cinema in town.

Aurora Skies was not on the circuit for the big new films, being so far from the major metropolitan centres, most of the big-budget movies often took a month or two to arrive but this meant that even the main cinema would screen the more intelligent and interesting of independent and foreign productions.  Such as this one, 'Un Amour à Taire' which Yuri had booked.

A desperately sad story of love hidden and denied, it clearly played to Yuri's romatic side.  Initially attracted by her friendly and playful nature, Damien was pleased to discover that his friend also had softer, loving, characteristics.

-- * --

Damien spent the following morning at the Sunrise Reflection Fishing Park, testing out his new knowledge.  Of course, one of the reasons he chose this particular fishing hole was that it was reputedly one of the best places for a novice to catch easy fish.

And true to its reputation, the waters were, indeed, easy.

Within only a couple of hours, Damien had landed several fish.  None particularly large or 'difficult' but these easy successes were a good encouragement.

As he fished several people stopped by to ask how he was enjoying the fishing or offer advice on bait and casting technique.  One woman, however, asked not about what he was doing but, instead, what he intended to do with his catch.

"I, umm, I don't know, hadn't really thought about it ..."

"Well,  depending on what you've caught, you could always cook it.  Some of these fish are very nutritous and nothing tastes better than fresh, self-caught, fish!"

"That's a great idea!" Damien agreed, "Though I am rather short on cooking facilities.  I'm camping at Arbor Corner and there's no stove on the site."

"Hmm, if I remember correctly, you have a good fire pit there I think.  So you could open roast your catch.  Even tastier!"

By the time they parted company Damien had several new and delicious ideas for using the fish he had just caught.  Life was good here he thought to himself, 'I can catch and cook my own meals. Sweet!'

That very evening, Damien lit up the camp-site fire pit, prepared the most succulent looking of his day's catch.

As he bit into the freshly roasted flesh, he raised a metaphorical glass in thanks to Juanita for her suggestions. This was, truly, one of the most delicious, and satisfying, meals he had ever tasted.

Chapter D4: Falling But Not Failing

Authors Note:  The adult Damien is now available for download, see the 'Background Info' page for the link.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Chapter D2: Getting Familiar

Getting Familiar

He may have only a not entirely comfortable camp bed in a simple tent, and only the most basic facilities but, even so, each morning waking up in Aurora Skies brought a smile to Damien Slade's heart.

The smell of fresh, clean, crisp air.  The distant sound of the majestic waterfalls.  The freedom of opportunity and discovery that was his each new day.  What could ever spoil this?

Poverty and starvation perhaps? Damien knew he had sufficient funds for a good few weeks, but if he was going to stay here he would need a some sort of income.  Perhaps just a part-time job would do, and that would surely also help him start really becoming part of this community.

He may not have a stack of specific skills but he had a good general education, was friendly and enjoyed meeting people so when he noticed an 'Assistant wanted' sign in the window of the Mud Baths and Manuscripts spa and bookshop it seemed the perfect job.

How very 'AS' he thought.  A spa and books in the same shop.  Should get to meet an interesting mix of people!

Having signed up for a trial period Damien headed off to explore some more of the town, heading first to the Wallin Quad Festival Park.

Aurora Skies may be on the far edge of the country and a long way from the big cities, but the unique location, and the tourists that brought, meant it could support a good size festival and entertainment centre.

It was early in the day and the park was almost empty, so Damien got himself an ice cream and settled down to enjoy the open space and view from the eastern edge of the town.

 The entertainment hall provided a variety of amusements, just like any big town. A variety of arcade and video games, modern and traditional pool tables and something he hadn't seen before.  Apparently it was called 'skeeball' and must be popular around here as there were a half-dozen game machines taking up much of one wall of the centre.

However, Damien noticed a woman practising shots on one of the pool tables, so he asked and was invited to join her in a game.
Her name was Iris Ingberg and she lived just a short distance from the park.  It soon became clear to Damien that she had spent a lot of time here, it turned out to be a very one-sided game and he barely managed to get to the table to pot a paltry few balls.

After a very pleasant and sociable day at the festival park, Damien headed out to one of the recommended beach-side venues.

Serenity Sands Beach was a simple café close to a couple of popular fishing spots but it's main attraction was an open-air mudbath and steam room.  It seemed like a perfect way to relax and enjoy the warm summer evening.

Although there were baths and saunas in Riverview Damien had never felt the need to visit them.  They were all indoor establishments so even if he had they couldn't compare to the remarkable setting of this room.  As the steam washed across his body, cleansing and refreshing he could watch the sun going down and the beautiful evening light rippling across the ocean waves before him.

Feeling renewed from the steaming, and heading back to his humble camp-site home Damien noticed a bar set back from the road.

The sign above the door read "Vargo's Tavern" and, recalling his earlier research into Aurora Skies, he recognised the name as that of one of the first people to settle here.  A beast of a man who, according to legend, single-handedly carved out large swathes of the land to create the first settlement that was to evolve in Aurora Skies.

Inside, wasn't quite what Damien expected. Rather than harking back to the primitive wooded landscape that Vargo would have seen, he found a dark, red-lit and rather sombre bar.  Even more strangely everyone was dressed in black.
He wasn't quite sure he was the sort of clientèle that normally frequented this bar but they were friendly and had a nice selection of bar food on offer, so Damien stayed to enjoy another new aspect life in 'AS'.

From the beautiful and lively festival park, the wonderful open-air baths of Serenity Sands, to the strangeness of Vargo's Tavern, 'AS' was quite an experience; and Damien loved it all.   

Chapter D3: A New Skill

Authors Note:  The Festival Park featured in this chapter is from Wallin and can be downloaded from the exchange.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Chapter D1: Arrival


It's not as if his life had been especially tough but after his sister, Danielle, had left Riverview there was something 'not quite right' any more.

His mother, Cleo, had seemed a little more settled now that she didn't have the risk of meeting Danielle unexpectedly in town.  Not that they were especially antagonistic or argumentative, they had got past that, now it was just uncomfortable for Cleo.  Damien could always tell when the two women had met, there was a subtle coldness in the air.

Even with Danielle settled in Lucky Palms, Cleo was still seldom fully at ease and was more going through the motions of parenting rather than being fully engaged with her son. It was just enough for Damien who was, like his father Pascal, a gentle and affectionate soul (unlike his more wayward sister!)  He got through school well enough, his results were fine, but he had not exhibited any specific talent or interest that indicated a particular career path.

As he contemplated his future Damien just didn't feel anything positive about Riverview.  He had no ties to the place beyond the fact that he lived there with his mother.  From the letters he had received from  Danielle he knew there were many other places and opportunities to explore and now, with no job or other responsibilities to hold him, was an ideal time to seek his 'fortune'.

But it was a blog posting by his uncle, Carl, that convinced him that his future lay elsewhere.  Of all the many places he and Malia visited, this one was quite unique.  Nestled between the ocean and the northern mountains it enjoyed a distinctive micro-climate as the icy mountain rivers converged and met the rising geothermal springs in a majestic lake of mist and spray.  Such an abundance of water ensured the landscape remained lush and fertile despite the harsh northern winters.

It wasn't just the obvious beauty of the place that appealed to Damien, it was more the fact the community that had settled this coastal  strip had remained so respectful of their environment.  This was no place for the ornate or overly fancy, the buildings were all simple and functional but still displayed an elegance that fit perfectly with their surroundings..

From Carl's blog, and the further research he did, Damien decided that he had to see this place, that it could just be where he would find whatever it was he was unable to find in Riverview.

So, shortly after graduating school, Damien put his plan to his mother.  He would set out and spend a couple of months in this seemingly idyllic location and may, if he found work and somewhere to settle, move out there permanently.

It was not easy for Cleo to let him go, she had already suffered many losses in her life.  Following the death of her mother, both her father and brother had left to find new lives.  Then soon after the death of her beloved partner, Pascal, their daughter, Danielle fled to Lucky Palms.  And now, her only son wanted to go as well. She knew, however, that he would not be truly happy in Riverview, the town meant nothing to him, indeed it served only to remind him of his parents troubled relationship.  In her heart, Cleo knew that Damien had to find his own place in the world, somewhere that would feed not only his body but also nourish his soul.

-- * --

With but a few thousand simoleons in his account to get him through the first weeks of his new life, a few changes of clothes and a one-man tent thrown in the back of his pick-up, Damien arrived in Aurora Skies.

Rather than waste money staying in one of the hotels or boarding houses, Damien decided to camp on the outskirts of the town to start with, and see how he got on..

Not that anywhere was really "outskirts", the town was so small and compact everywhere was in easy reach.

Having set up his new 'home', Damien made his way into town to start getting a feel for the place and, hopefully, meet some friendly locals.

As it turned out his obvious 'this place is amazing!' wonderment as he walked around the centre was recognised and met with friendly words of welcome from many of the residents enjoying the fresh air that afternoon.

One woman he met, Yuri he soon learned, had only recently moved into Aurora Skies herself and understood exactly the delight that Damien expressed in the beauty and simplicity of the town.

Even within just a few hours of arriving, Damien was already feeling more relaxed and 'at home' than he ever had in Riverview.

As Yuri enthusiastically extolled the many virtues of living in Aurora Skies, or "AS" as most people seemed to call it, he was certain he would be here for more than just a few months.

With nothing particular planned for the day, Yuri invited Damien to join her for lunch in her favourite restaurant just a couple of blocks away.

Füd Feud was the main grocery shop in town but it also had a small dining room attached that had a reputation for serving only good quality local produce at prices anyone could afford.  It was probably the best place for Damien to start getting to know the local cuisine.

After a delightful meal, and with the sun sinking in the evening sky, the pair parted promising to meet up again.

Making his way back to the campsite, Damien stopped off to look across the lake that was responsible for the very existence of this community.

Even at this distance he could hear the roar of the waterfalls as they deposited unimaginable quantities of water into the lake, to merge with the warm waters of the geothermal springs creating the most beautiful view he had ever seen. Despite the energy and violence of the rushing mountain waters this was a scene of calm and serenity, a oneness and balance that only the natural world could achieve.

As he gazed across the misty lake Damien knew, with absolute certainty, he had found the place that would truly be his home.

Chapter D2: Getting Familiar

Authors Note:  If you've come to this page directly from Chapter 38 of Danielle's story you might want to read this post for an explanation!