“No more refugees,” the guard at the gate told us. After weeks of travel, we’d finally arrived at Oasis Springs only be be turned away before we could even state our case. They wouldn’t tell us what had happened here, just pointed back where we had come from and told us to scram.
The walk back was painfully quiet. But I heard the whispers. No one wanted to call me on it to my face – but the whole idea had been mine and it was a complete bust. A waste of time. Instead of returning in triumph, we slunk back into town.
But bad news travels fast. There were no trucks of food, no doctors, no builders coming. Nothing was coming. We’re going to have to do this on our own. When we left for Oasis Springs, I had been full of hope. It was all going to be okay. I wasn’t even (very) worried when Jay told me she was pregnant. It was going to be hard, but with assistance we were going to rebuild and my child would be born into a new world, a better world.
Instead our world grew darker by day.
Little Theo was born, not into a world of new hope and energy, but one where everywhere you looked, you saw defeat. Hardship. Failure. Where folks horded their meager supplies until it rotted and locked their doors against their neighbors.
Somedays his smile was enough to push back the darkness. Days when I could see how it all might work out. Days we got the water working, or a neighbor stopped by with extra fish. Those days I would head out full of energy and hope, trying to tie this town together somehow. To make it a community again.
I visited our neighbors and found out who had a surplus and who was in need. Many were willing to share when they had extras, especially if it was perishable or no longer needed like a baby’s onesie. Things that would be appreciated by another household. Failing that, many would share some knowledge they’d learned, a trick to keep grubs alive longer, a plant that would work as soap, a book on plumbing they’d found. Knowledge that I would pass on to others.
Others were not willing and would turn me away at the door. Refusing to help make a better place for everyone in a selfish need to help only themselves. Fear of losing even if they had no possible way to consume all that fish before it spoiled. Those days, I would come home and swoop Theo into my arms and hold him close, hoping that he would not grow up so fearful of loss and pain. He was my light.
Not everyone refused me out of selfishness. And some who previously had helped, started to say no. I heard a rumor of a group of thugs offering “protection” for a nominal fee. Not cash since that was worthless, but supplies, food, anything that could be valuable. They asked for the same things I was asking for. In return for these goods, they’d keep the “animals” at bay. “We’ve already paid you lot!” they’d shout and bar the door before I could explain why I was there.
It’s true since the world went sideways the animals felt freer to approach our houses. Just down the street a neighbor had been terrorized by a coyote until we stayed up all night banging pots and pans to scare it away for good. But the animals that that group were really talking about were themselves. If you didn’t pay, you got raided.
I was away from the house when my old friend Jonathan showed up at our house. I’d counted him a friend as he had helped defeat the Mother. But it took a half day to walk between our houses and without phones we had no easy way to keep in touch. I hadn’t realized he’d changed. I hadn’t realized he was working for them. And I guess I hadn’t thought they’d target my family.
We had quite a stash of items that our neighbors had left in our care so I could distribute it out as needed some of it already earmarked for neighbors. All of it gone in an afternoon. Jonathan didn’t care that at one time we’d been friends.
I looked around our ransacked house. All that work to create goodwill among neighbors, to create a safety net, however fragile so no one would be left alone. So no one would be more in need than anyone else. And now, I was back to square one. No one was going to trust me now.
Author’s Note: Sorry for the darker tone. Things will pick up again in the next chapter, I promise. I messed up and forgot that toddlers were going to make jobs more difficult to keep. Jeep (Jay) lost her gardening job once Theo was born. Should have waited until after kids before she started working. So that plan is scrapped. I really wanted to open up foods that were not fish right away! Politics – the Politician side which is what Adam is pursuing will unlock moving sims out of the house and traveling within your neighborhood and town. Maybe not the most pressing lock to focus on, but he seemed the type to attempt to take charge even if the criminals have won out for now.
This story is a playtest of some new apocalypse unlock rules that includes more/most of the careers that are in the game now than what Pinstar initially created. I’ve also put in all the houses and characters from Brennachan’s Murkland Challenge to populate and color this world.
CC alert: I don’t use a lot of CC (mods yes, cc not as much). But in this chapter we see two. Veranka’s empty bibliophile bookshelves (which I love) and a custom cc bassinet from the Tiny Twavellers pack that I’m testing out.