*Images from The Sims 4 & Staxel. Thanks to Simoniona from the Sims Community for the amazing house and to Missesrock for the Jetty in the Summer II.
Vance’s earlier cutting insult had really annoyed Alice, but then he’d known it would. Alice’s anxiety had begun to steadily get on his nerves and he needed to take action. When they went back indoors, she’d started wearing out the carpet, going up and down it more than DPD delivery vans go up and down the M40! “Sure rich-boy, V, you just tuck yourself neatly under Daddy’s financial gift entitlements, but some of us have to take the world on ourselves”, Alice snapped in retaliation. Vance wasn’t impressed, Alice knew that the family had always treated her as one of their own and would seek to protect her too, although he was starting to have doubts, after what he had learned earlier in the weekend.
Vance was trying to be preoccupied re-visiting his theology on how the universe works; it’d certainly stepped up it’s game of throwing him curve-balls recently. He didn’t dare allow himself to imagine what possible calamity might fall upon him next. He began to question whether he actually knew as much as he thought he did. He couldn’t come to terms with the idea that his Father had managed to keep this terrible secret from him. Furthermore, how exactly were they supposed to find over three hundred thousand pounds? Vance even considered that it wasn’t his problem, he hadn’t had any involvement in this. He immediately chastised himself for being so unloving. He began wondering how these events were going to interrupt his plans in life, blame must be attributed, it wasn’t his fault.
The previous night…
“You don’t mess around with the ‘Mafia’ Vance, do you realise what they will do if I don’t pay back what they’re owed?” They weren’t the actual Mafia, you only messed with those guys if you were born into it and couldn’t escape, however this family were part of a large organised crime circle. Why and how his Father had become involved in their activities was unbeknownst to Vance, but he decided to not pursue that particular line of questioning. The family had been fairly hospitable in giving Vance’s Dad a solid week to come up with what he owed, with added interest.
Vance had demanded that his Father tell him everything, laying all his cards on the table. What transpired was something that Vance had been unable to comprehend. Vance knew about many things in his life, having spent many an evening surfing YouTube, which resulted on him watching a video about how the pedestrian crossings are designed to help blind people; how to forgive your betraying Father had not appeared on his search listings.
Allen had been working for the family for years, although he wouldn’t elaborate on why. He’d been put in charge of managing a group of girls that were being illegally trafficked into the country to work as prostitutes. “No, I was not their pimp, my job was specifically to handle their finances and arrange for new workers. Vance, you have to understand that your Mother and I do not have a happy marriage, it is one that is for show to support her in her career. We fell out of love many many years ago”. He could see Vance was struggling to take this on board and so continued in a factual manner; “I met Katrya and she listened, she valued me and not what she could get from me. She was kind, caring and lovin-…look, I’m crazy about her but I’ve got obligations, it’s complicated. You and Ali were both still young and in school. Then Katrya told me she was expecting, but I’ve no regrets.” He moved to hold Katrya’s hand, his affection for her still evident despite the distance they endured. Alice shuffled nervously seeing this, prompting Vance into questioning her involvement in the history, why was she was in danger? Allen looked hesitant before offering; “Ali and I had spent a lot of time together, she’s far more intelligent than you give her credit for, Vance.” He sighed, continuing; “I knew Ali knew about hacking and I shamefully encouraged her, I could see she had talent. Well, she devised a program, it was able to find system weaknesses of the system they used and she was able to dial into it. Together we siphoned off profits from their accounts. I don’t understand it, but Black-hat over there, she’s a genius, Vance”. Alice had helped him traffic Katrya in a new way, taking her under her wing and moving her here in case the family ever realised she didn’t just simply run away. “They must have traced me through the dial-ins I made from your apartment and mine, no system is without fault, Vance, there’s always a backdoor”, Alice stated matter-of-factly and for once, Vance glimpsed a sign of her intelligence.
Their brainstorming session was not going well and Vance’s ideas on how to raise funds were getting more outrageous as the sun began to dip behind the treeline, they’d already wasted one day simply informing everyone what had happened. “So, as stands, current suggestions are as follows: Casinos (except none of us can actually play), rob the casino, sell drugs for a competitive family, set up a hustle and finally, my personal favourite, taking out the head of the family. No family, no debt! It’s not just me who sees how ludicrous these suggestions are, is it?”, Vance stated with a sarcastic tone. “Good then we can all begin to get comfortable with being dead men walking”, Vance’s sarcastic tones taking a large shot of anger.
Vance switched on the TV as a distraction and was greeted by a preacher talking about being joyful when suffering under trials. Vance could barely contain his barrage of choice phrases releasing his anger on the unsuspecting TV, shouting; “What a load of bugcrap, this guy is a total fraud, he’s only interested in leading people astray so he can get rich from their disillusioned belief about ‘sky people’…” He looked down and saw that Anichka was busy doing her Spirograph. With a voice that sounded like sprinkles being dropped on the floor, she chattered; “What’s bugcrap, Uncle Vance?” She giggled as Vance failed to pronounce her name correctly, unable to detect the undertones of the serious atmosphere in the house.
Alice however, had not failed to notice, her anxiety getting steadily worse. Her thoughts were racing around her head at a hundred miles an hour. The walls felt like they were closing in on her as her heart started hammering in her chest. Clutching her chest, she gave Vance a look he would not forget. When she began to hyperventilate he grabbed the nearest paper bag, the one in Alice’s backpack, unwittingly shoving it at her as he firmly instructed, “Breathe! In this. You’re doing great Alice, keep going”. Vance had failed to notice, the bag had a large quantity of Ketamine in it and as Alice’s eyes started to look as glazed as the doughnuts at Crispy Cremes; she blinked and it was as if the shop lights were being turned off at closing time, Alice flopped helplessly to the floor! It was Allen’s turn to play hero today as he rushed to her, checking her pulse; “She’s just passed out, help me get her over to the sofa”.
When Alice ‘awoke’ she was in a strange land, everything was so bright and colourful. She felt a sense of peace that she had never before experienced. It was like all through her life she’d been a leaking bucket but she suddenly felt like all the holes had been plugged up. Everything felt really strange, like she was walking on bouncy duvets and there was no weight to her form.
She approached a lady who was holding a shovel; “Hi, Alice, we’re so pleased to see you. We’ve been longing to meet you. He is waiting for you in there, head over when you’re ready”.
Alice didn’t feel confused about this lady knowing her name, she wandered confidently over to the Shop she’d been pointed towards and inside was a man, working on something; “Hi Alice. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m just making something for you, it’s almost finished. Give me a moment and take a look around the shop, if there’s anything you want just bring it to me”. His voice was familiar to her but she had no idea how. As she wandered around the shop, it wasn’t what she expected at all. There were bricks, glass panels and other building implements but they were labelled; Joy, Forgiveness, Kindness. As she moved further down the shelving racks, she clutched her hands over her mouth seeing a bottle that shimmered with bright-blue lightning as she looked closer she discerned it was animated. She viewed a scene from when she was a little girl – a very special memory of her Father teaching her how to build a radio transmitter. As she looked down the isles of the shop, she beheld that there were thousands of these bottles. She picked up the bottle, heading back over to the man demanding to know more. He smiled at her, offering her a small wooden signpost and all her anger suddenly got forgotten, what had she been wanting to ask him? “Come, I’ll show you your house. I’ve laid the foundations for you, but you need to finish it yourself but I will help you do that”, the man winked and Alice felt as though he was a familiar friend. She tenaciously asked; “Do, I know you? Your face is familiar but…” as she headed towards the plot for her house. It was the most beautiful sight she had ever witnessed, with the man standing next to her as his silken voice said words that penetrated her entire being, the scene before her fading but the words echoing in her heart as she awoke; “Not yet, Alice, but you will and I can’t wait!”
Alice came-to sitting bolt upright suddenly and stared at Vance with an intensity that he had never seen in her before as she stuttered the words; “Vance, I-I-I think I’ve just met Jesus”. Vance scoffed at her; “Great just what we need, another deluded person, he didn’t happen to tell you how to get out of this mess we’re in did he?”. Vance’s comment had made him smug with delight as he looked at Alice, knowing she wouldn’t have a retort to offer him but she blinked several times, still half-asleep as she offered; “Well actually….”
Author’s Note – I’ve heard people say things such as; “oh, you have faith, that must mean you’re a weak-willed person because you can’t take responsibility for your own life choices, so you need this fictitious character to carry your burdens for you”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I am plenty strong willed and I’ve done things in life that I’ve amazed myself at but I’ve also done some out-rightly stupid things and I know I’ve been in utter disobedience to God. I know, like Paul that I battle the flesh and to choose my own way (sin) and my own responsibility (self-righteous behaviour) is to plummet into eternity without a parachute. Thankfully, Jesus is my parachute. I don’t need him because I’m not strong enough, fast enough or secure enough, I need Him because He is the Way, the Truth and the Light. Without Him the consequences of my actions will lead me to death (Romans 6:23).
I read a book recently by Paul M Young entitled, Lies we believe about God and one of the lies it exposed was that we often believe that God loves us but doesn’t like us. This is simply untrue. It is written in scripture that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. We don’t have to wait to be “likeable” before we come to Him. He accepts us just as we are. God is aware of the very worst parts of us and chooses to love us anyway because that is Who He is. He also likes the things we like, when we submit them to him so they are not more important than he is. One of my most happy times recently was a simple prayer of; “Let’s hang out Jesus” I went meme-surfing as I just thought about Him and I experienced such joy. There’s a beautiful song that’s sung at the church I go to and it’s entitled Good Good Father by Housefires II, in it the lyrics state; “You’re a good good father, it’s who you are….I’m loved by you, it’s who I am”. The love we receive through Christ is Who God is and our only job is to receive that love (1 John 4:19) and allow it to transform our lives, and renew our minds (Ephesians 4:23) should we choose to “Consider Christ”.