Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chapter 44: Isabella Recalls What Work Is For

Thurs, November 19, 2074 1:30 pm: Tellerman Farm- Middlebourne, Pleasantview


Winter flicked its gunmetal tongue through the November breeze, testing for any leftover signs of warmth. It bided its time in frost-covered piles of dead leaves, waiting for the moment when it would emerge on its belly, a silent thief of color and sentience. Isabella could see winter in her breath, feel winter moving past her cheeks. Were she to lay her palms flat on the ground, she would find the world frozen solid. This was land that should have been on the brink of death. But it was not.


Half an acre of grape vines were growing woody and wild on her husband's land, attended by less than a dozen workers. Buds were forming where the stems terminated though there would be no insects to pollinate them. New leaves unfolded towards the vanishing light of late autumn like so many hands outstretched to receive. This should not have been happening.


"I've never seen anything like it," J.L. marveled, surveying the land. Shadows spilled across the crop beds and elongated with each strong gust of wind, like flames would. Isabella fancied that they were attempting to escape the unnatural vines that cast them.

Behind her husband, the foreman approached smiling pleasantly, his hands stuffed deep in his pockets.


"So what do you think, Mr. Bennett? Will we have a small crop of wine grapes in January," Isabella asked.

"Well I don't know about that. One good snow should kill them off for sure. My worry is that we'll have to replant come spring." Isabella turned her gaze on her husband, alight with childish enthusiasm regardless of the foreman's concerns.


"I think we aught to try to cultivate these plants experimentally. Don't you, J.L.? The men could use the work and if the plants die, the government will reimburse us." J.L. pinched his lower lip between his thumb and forefinger, seemingly lost in thought.


"Yeah, I... What's your opinion Mr. Bennett? You'd be the one doing all of the grunt work," J.L. asked. The foreman laughed.

"It's on your dime, Mr. Tellerman. But personally, I think that it'll be a waste," he said. J.L. placed his hands on his lower back and stretched.

"Let's do it. What the hell," he said.


If a single bud bloomed, Isabella could believe anything of the ground beneath her.

March 6, 2055 4:27 pm: Goth Manor- Rawling Hills, Pleasantview (Nineteen Years earlier)


This was all that Isabella would remember of her father- The gentle hum of machinery, the faint scent of fermented plants, liquids that bubbled and hissed, lights that glimmered and then stopped. Her father was an artist, a genius, a magician. Everything he touched was enchanted.


"What does it mean, Isabella, for a thing to be alive? Does it mean that it moves, changes, responds, multiplies? Or does it mean the thing is imbued with a certain force, theoretically perceptible but essentially intangible?"


Isabella shrugged placidly. She did not understand the question nor even the words that formed it. But she thought, perhaps, that if she was attentive enough, her father might allow her sweets before dinner.


"I spend a lot of time in this laboratory. Do you know why?"

"Mommy says it's 'cause you're working."

"That's absolutely correct. I'm working. But why do I work? Why does
anything work? We work to promote and preserve life. There is no greater, lesser or other service than this."


"Daddy, what's

"Service is something that we do for the sake of something else outside of ourselves. If a creature does not serve then it may as well not have existed at all."


  1. Quite possibly my shortest chapter yet. ;)

  2. Oh!! I got all excited when I saw this! One because hello, it's an update!! And another because I got to read before I leave for work! YAY!!

    I wonder what's happening to the land? Why are the vines growing when they should be dormant?

    And I like the last sentence! So, so, SO true!

    And Isabella was adorable as a child!

  3. Is it just me, or was there something a little... "off" about Mortimer? Like, I got a bit of a creepy vibe from him, but I think that was one of your intentions, so it's all good.

    Wow, for a guy whose parents were Maxis-made Townies, JL turned out pretty nice :)

  4. Phoenix:

    I know! I had forgotten just how cute Isabella had been as a child.

    The plants are a mystery that will be solved in the not-too-distant future.


    If only I could bunny dance for you. :bunny:
    But then again, Mortimer is a hazy subject. He was bad news for certain characters that we know and love. MUCH of what he did wasn't terribly moral. But when you understand his motives and desires, he doesn't become the most clear-cut bad guy in the world.

    I used to think that J.L. was sort of blah-looking but he did look pretty handsome in this chapter. He and Troy both take more after their fathers than their mother.

  5. Mortimer gives me a creep, the type of mad scientist who will create a hybrid of human and monster(shivers). Isabella is so sweet looking when she is younger!

  6. *drums fingertips together contemplatively*

    If Mortimer thought that an "Island of Doctor Moreau" type of situation would help to promote and preserve life, then he might have looked into it.

  7. Fascinating philosophical questions! Beautiful and complex writing. I sort of like scientists who push limits. And no "bad guy" ever thinks he's bad. Well except for the total nutcases.

    Isabella is a wonderful character. and I particularly liked the use of grape vines.

    Really great work!

  8. Thanks, SB!

    Mortimer totally has all of his faculties about him. And his philosophies guided his life. He believed very firmly in them.

    Isabella become very important as the story progresses so I'm glad that she's coming off well.

  9. I'm trying very hard to catch up here. WTF is up with those vines, are they huge or is that just a trick of photography?

    Is that a mutilated cat in Mort's lab?


  10. 1) They're huge. When I downloaded them, I had no idea that they would be that size. And this would not have bothered me except for the fact that the vines I downloaded that are in a later stage of plant development are leafy and fully of grapes but alas, they are on the short side comparatively.

    You should see the size of the strawberry shortcake I unwittingly downloaded. It could feed the whole of Pleasantview!

    2) That is, I believe, some species of wildcat. I would say that it died of natural causes but I honestly doubt that it did. In any case, it has undergone some kind of taxidermic process.