Friday, 17 April 2015

Michael Lee Harker, Intergalactic Sim of Mystery: Chapter Seven - A Tale of Two Brothers


"And just whatin the name of Plumbob -"

"Michael! Language!"

" - is that supposed to mean?!"

Gabriel and Katerina both sighed. Hardly a day went by these days where Michael and Yuri didn't yell their heads off at one another. Their two sweet and playful little boys had grown into brash, opinionated teenagers. Now, late one Wednesday evening, they were at it again.

Yuri pulled a mocking face at his elder brother, who glared back at him from his seat on the living room sofa.

"All I'm saying," he replied, "is that you couldn't get a date for the prom even if you tried!"

"Well, who says I want to go to the prom?" Michael hissed. "I have better things to do with my time!"

"Oh, sure - like sit in your room and read books all night."

"Books are still better than some stupid popularity contest!"

"All right, boys! Enough!" Gabriel yelled. "Yuri, it's Michael's choice whether or not he goes to the prom - and clearly, he sees the whole thing quite differently to how you do. Now leave him alone and let him get on with his studies."

Yuri tutted, rolled his eyes, and stormed off to his room, slamming the door behind him - the typical "moody teenager" routine. Michael picked up his book - a tome on astrophysics - and resumed reading... only to be interrupted again when Gabriel sat down beside him.

"What is wrong, Father?" he asked, concerned.

"Nothing's wrong, my son," Gabriel replied, "but... well, are you sure you don't want to go to the prom?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not forcing you to go, but... it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I wouldn't want you to regret not going later on."

Michael smiled.

"Father," he said. "I thank you for your concern, but I am quite sure that I do not wish to attend. Getting a place on the police academy training course is far more important to me, and to do that, I will need good grades on my final exams."

"Michael, darling," Katerina said, "we all know you could pass those exams blindfold. You needn't push yourself so hard. Are you sure that you wouldn't like to take one night off - have a little fun?"

Michael shook his head.

"No, Mother - but thank you. My mind is made up."

The two scientists smiled.

"All right, Michael," Gabriel said. "It's your choice. Now, don't stay up too late studying - you need plenty of rest before school tomorrow."

"I know that, Father - goodnight. Goodnight, Mother."

"Goodnight, Michael."

With that, Michael headed to his own room.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Michael Lee Harker, Intergalactic Sim of Mystery: Chapter Six - The Disguise


It was a Saturday night in early September.

Michael and Yuri were playing on their spaceship-shaped jungle gym in the garden. Michael, as usual, was the ship's captain - he was a natural leader, and Yuri, currently manning the ship's laser cannon, was all too happy to follow him. He looked up to his older brother very much, and hoped to be just like him one day.

Tonight, however, Yuri wasn't too focused on their imaginary game. His mind was fixed on something even more exciting.

"I can't wait to start school on Monday!" he told his elder brother. "Daddy says I'll learn lots of new things, and make lots of friends."

"I am quite sure what Father says is true," Michael replied.

Yuri chuckled. Michael's way of speaking had always amused him. For as long as he could remember, Michael had never called his parents "Mummy" and "Daddy", like he did. Instead, he called them "Mother" and Father". It wasn't that he loved them any less - that was just how he spoke. His sentences were always perfect and proper, and he never used words like "didn't" or "couldn't". (What had Daddy called them? "Contracttrions", or something like that.) Michael always said "did not" or "could not". It never occurred to Yuri that most humans would find this unusual - that was just the way Michael was.

Both boys were fully aware that Michael was an alien. Gabriel and Katerina had decided that it was better for them to know from the beginning, rather than having to deal with problems and questions later on. The fact he was not human really did not bother Michael too much - his parents were still his parents, his brother was still his brother, and he was part of a family whom he loved, and who loved him.

Furthermore, being aware of his alien heritage helped Michael understand why he found certain parts of the household's behaviour strange. For example, when Father found something easy, he called it a "piece of cake". That made no sense to Michael at all. Tasks were not cake. Cake was spongy, fluffy and edible. Tasks, generally speaking, were not. If the task involved cake, then maybe the phrase would be plausible, but they did not. Therefore, the phrase was not accurate. Still, that was what Father said.

Humans also liked to spend a long time discussing the weather. Why was that? Weather was just a description of the atmosphere and climate at that present moment - it held no special meaning or importance. Yet, humans could make an entire conservation out of it. How very bizarre!

That said, being an alien on Earth did have some setbacks. The brothers could only play out together at night, when the darkness hid Michael from the world's prying eyes. Even then, their mother or father would watch them carefully though the window. The family had never been able to go on holiday, or to the beach, or even go shopping together. The limitations also meant Michael could not share his brother's excitement at this present moment. After all - he had never been to school. Instead, he'd been privately tutored by his parents at home.

Yuri didn't realise this.

"So, big brother..." he asked Michael, "what's school like?"

"I cannot tell you," Michael replied, matter-of-factly. "I have never been."

"Never been?" Yuri cried, shocked, "Why not? Don't you get in trouble if you don't go?"

"Most children do, but I do not," Michael said. "Mother and Father will not permit me to go to school. They give me all the lessons I require."

"So... you've never been in a school assembly?" Yuri asked. "Or had milk at playtime? Or played Tig in the playground?"

"No, brother - I have not."

This saddened Yuri greatly.

"But... but that's not fair!" he wailed. "You're really smart, Michael! You'd be top of the class and get loads of stickers! And I'd bet you have lots of friends, too!"

Michael froze. Not being able to go to school had never bothered him before, but now... with Yuri going... it did suddenly seem unfair. Why should he be treated differently to his younger brother?

In a flash, Michael had climbed off the the jungle gym, and was heading into the house. Yuri watched him go, confused.

"Hey! Don't you wanna play anymore?" he called.

"Of course I do," Michael told him, reassuringly. "But I must speak with Father first."

Michael Lee Harker, Intergalactic Sim of Mystery: Chapter Five - Michael's First Deduction

"Baby brother," two-year-old Michael said, pointing to his Earth mother's large baby bump. He couldn't say very much yet, but those two words had been leaving his mouth a lot recently.

Both of his parents started to laugh.

"No, sweetie," Katerina told him, gently. "Baby sister. The doctor said I'm having a little girl, remember?"

Michael shook his head.

"Baby brother," he insisted, then he toddled away to his toy box.

Katerina sighed as her husband approached her.

"Poor boy," she whispered. "I do hope he's not too disappointed when little Anja arrives." The name was one she had chosen herself - she wanted her new daughter to be proud of her Russian heritage.

Still chuckling, Gabriel embraced his wife, gently kissing her cheek.

"He'll love her all the same," he told her. "Michael's such a smart, sensible boy already - he's going to be a great big brother. And who knows? Maybe one day, he will get his wish."

Katerina smiled, as Gabriel gently placed his hands on her bump.

"Let's see how we manage with two first," she replied.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Michael Lee Harker, Intergalactic Sim of Mystery: Chapter Four - The Birth of a Detective

"Ow, ow, ow, ow, OW!!! Sweet Plumbob, when will this be over?!"

In his private hospital room, Gabriel waddled up and down in agony, clutching his stomach. How much longer was this going to take? Upon discovering he was pregnant, the thought of giving birth had terrified him, but now, he just wanted to have the baby and be done with all this.

Katerina watched him from beside the bed.

"Not long now, my darling," she said. "They just have to get the birthing suite ready."

"Well, they need to do it faster! I can't wait much longer!"

Gabriel was sure hours had passed by the time a porter appeared at the door, saying those magical words - "They're ready for you, Mr. Lee Harker."

"Thank you," Katerina replied. "I'll take him down."

The porter nodded and walked away.

"Come on, then," Katerina chuckled. "Time for you to go and have this baby."

Gabriel smiled at her, but after a few moments, his expression grew graver. He reached out and grabbed Katerina's hand.

"Honey..." he said nervously, "you... you'll stay with me, won't you? During the birth?"

Katerina cupped his hand tightly with hers, and kissed his cheek.

"Of course I will, my love. Besides, I want to meet the little one just as much as you do!"

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Michael Lee Harker, Intergalactic Sim of Mystery: Chapter Three - The Marvellous Malady of Gabriel

In the weeks following Gabriel's extraordinary, extra-terrestrial experience, Katerina noticed that her new boyfriend's behaviour had taken a rather bizarre turn. To begin with, there was a rather radical change in his diet. Gabriel had never been fond of dairy products: he even took his coffee black. Now, however, Katerina often caught him in the kitchen, even in the early hours of the morning, guzzling down glass after glass of milk.

"I thought you didn't like milk?" she once said, after catching him in the middle of one of his late night fridge raids.

"What? Don't be silly!" came the amused reply. "Milk's really good for you. Calcium, you know. Good for the bones, and all that."

"Then why didn't you ever drink it before?"

"Hmm... I don't know. I've just... developed a bit of a taste for it lately, I guess."

"Oh, well," Katerina replied, deciding to let the matter slide for now. "Look, I'm getting some cocoa and then I'm going back to bed. Do you want anything?"

"I'll have some cocoa too. Wait, actually, don't bother with the cocoa powder - I'll have it without."

"So... just hot milk, then?"


Katerina sighed.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Michael Lee Harker, Intergalactic Sim of Mystery: Chapter Two - "The Incident"

Despite all the joy living with Katerina brought him, Gabriel still struggled to hold his head high at work. Tales of his late-night lookouts were quickly spreading around the laboratory... and he was becoming a laughing stock.  Out of all of his colleagues, only Katerina seemed willing to support him.

"You must ignore them, Gabe," she told him one evening after dinner. "They are just jealous of your drive - of your ambition."

Gabriel was touched by her kindness, but also felt embarrassed on her behalf. After all, they now lived together. He was worried that his associates would soon mock her as they did him, and she had done nothing to deserve it.

"If... if you want me to stop..." he said, "for your sake..."

Katerina shook her head firmly.

"No, my friend. If your dream is to discover aliens, then that is the goal you must work towards - and I will always support you."

Gabriel smiled. He had been truly blessed by Plumbob to find a friend like Katerina. Motivated by her words, he didn't reduce his efforts, but rather increased them substantially. Following a few trips to scrapyards and junk sites, he began work on his biggest project yet: his own personal rocket ship. If that didn't help him discover aliens, he didn't know what would.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Michael Lee Harker, Intergalactic Sim of Mystery: Chapter One - Gabriel & Katerina

Monday, 3am.Gabriel Lee Harker had been locked away in his personal observatory for just over six hours, gazing at galaxies and scanning for spacecraft - his body fulled by high-sugar candy and espresso coffees. As the town's foremost "UFOlogist", it was his duty to ensure any alien activity occurring above or within Willow Creek was accurately recorded and documented,  True, he'd had the job for two years, and had yet to see anything out of the ordinary, but he wasn't going to let a little thing like that cause him to leave his post.By the time 5am rolled around, every star was still exactly where it should be, and he hadn't seen any flying saucers, cups, or dishware of any kind. Realising that he had to get ready for work by 9, and with his coffee pot drained to the dregs, he reluctantly decided to go and get some sleep.It had been another disappointing, alien-free night.Still - he lived in hope.

Michael Lee Harker, Intergalactic Sim of Mystery - Story Introduction

Way back when, when I began playing The Sims 2, one of the first families I created was the Lee Harkers. The founder, Gabriel, was a scientist, as was his wife, Katerina. Thanks to Gabriel's keen interest in astronomy, the couple's first child was a tad more... mysterious... than most.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Michael Lee Harker, Intergalactic Sim of Mystery: Chapter Index

NOMINEE - Best Non-Challenge Story (any game)

Not since the days of Sherlock Holmes has there been a detective as intelligent as Michael Lee Harker. He solves mysteries with ease... but the greatest mystery is that of his own origin. Born to a scientist under the strangest of circumstances, Michael hides a massive secret from the rest of the world.  

This story begins before his birth, and follows his life up to his efforts to stop a crime wave in his adult years. But could his career and his bizarre heritage soon be connected?