It was an exhilarating feeling waking up in my own bed on Wednesday morning. It had been my first good night’s sleep since we’d arrived in Oasis Springs. Opening my eyes to a blue sky instead of the typical white ceiling was a little disconcerting, though. Baby steps. I thought to myself. You’ll get there.
Since there wasn’t anywhere else to sit, the twins joined me on my bed to eat their cereal before I sent them off to school.
With only $6 left in my pocket, I knew I had work to do. I only had one vacation day left before I’d be expected to get back to class. So, I tried calling in sick instead. To my amazement, I got away with it! Dodged that bullet.
After calling the school, I noticed I’d missed a text message. I smiled to myself. Who could be texting me?
When I opened it, my creep factor shot up to the stratosphere. Shit. This is so not good. The text had been sent in the wee hours of the morning, along with the guy’s picture, while I was fast asleep. Either this Vladislaus dude liked playing sick, practical jokes, or he’s been secretly watching me. He looked like a definite creeper with his cold, lifeless eyes. I subconsciously rubbed my neck. Suddenly, our rustic accommodations didn’t feel safe. We were exposed, and not only to the elements. All the more reason to get your ass in gear.
I focused on my mission and began by breeding my two frogs. Then I explored the area, digging up a few trophies, a fossil and a diamond.
I spotted Paolo running by and asked if he could hang out for a bit. I’d been working hard to earn money for the family and was in desperate need of some adult conversation to calm my frazzled nerves.
I learned that Paolo was a music lover and worked as a Locker Room Attendant at The Other Sports Team. Paolo wanted to finish his run before it got too hot, so we didn’t chat long.
I went back to my money-making efforts, finding a new type of frog. Breeding them is easy and free, so I kept them at it whenever they weren’t too tired. Poor little guys. I’m making you work hard with all that baby-making, huh? It’s for a good cause; I promise.
I spotted several bushes of daisies in the vicinity and picked all I could carry. They weren’t worth much, but they were plentiful. And every dollar counts right now.
I perked up when I spotted a strawberry bush. The twins and I love strawberries! Yum. When I checked the time, I knew I had to hurry because the school bus would be dropping off the kids any minute.
When I arrived at our lot, I saw Cole entering the tent. Phew! Made it.
I must’ve been out exploring for a while because when I turned around, I saw Paolo behind me, and he wasn’t in his running clothes anymore. We talked for a few minutes before he had to get going.
I was pretty hungry anyway, so I ate one of my leftover hot dogs.
While I was eating, I was treated to a light show as Cole played in the tent with his flashlight.
Once I’d finished lunch, I called the kids over. “Kylie, Cole — time for homework.”
“Emma, we forgot to tell you — the teacher said our grades are up. No more ‘C’s for us!” exclaimed Kylie, as she and Cole settled on my bed and got out their books.
“That’s great, you guys! I’m really proud of you.” Mom and Dad would be, too. Maybe I can actually go to school one day soon.
With some of the money I’d made earlier today, I bought an easel. I figured if I practiced often, maybe my paintings would be decent enough to sell for a few bucks. If not, I was creating art for our eventual walls. I wasn’t exactly inspired as I started painting, but I was desperate for some fun so I gave it a shot.
Well, I suppose practice makes perfect. This pink flower looks like a waste of canvas. In fact, I think the blank canvas would actually be worth more than this poor excuse of a painting. I chalked it up to experience and was determined to do better next time.
When the twins had finished their homework, they said they each had a school project to complete. They set up makeshift work stations on milk crates and started working carefully on their respective projects.
I helped Cole get started on his since Kylie had been given extra attention before by both Victor and me. I didn’t want Cole to feel left out. The twins started chatting up a storm, and I was the only one working for a few minutes until I played the big sister card.
“Hey, you guys, simmer down. You need to pay attention to what you’re doing. Cole, buddy, I’m not doing your work for you.”
“Sorry, Emma,” they said, practically in unison. Must be a twin thing.
I’d had a busy day and went to relax a bit in the tent. Lily had texted me about a party at the bluffs. Sounds like a rave — fun, but definitely not kid appropriate. I texted Lily back, ‘Thanks for the invite. Raincheck?’ Lily responded, ‘Sure thing.’
I Googled how much I’d made that day, to see if it was enough to add on to our ‘home’ yet. I’d pulled in $702 for my day’s efforts, though I hadn’t sold everything. Then I’d spent $350 on the easel and $50 on a small canvas. My painting was only worth $42. Shocker. It would take time, but I was sure the investment would pay off.
I heard the sounds of one of the kids blowing raspberries and came out of the tent to see what was happening.
Cole was teasing Kylie — they bantered back and forth often. I wonder where Cole learned to make that face (and that lovely sound). I snorted, shaking my head at their antics. They weren’t getting much work done, but they were keeping each other entertained, and that’s something.
I made sure the kids’ lunches were packed in their backpacks for school the next morning. I was tired. So, even though it was still pretty early, I lay down for a nap. When I woke up, the twins were asleep in the tent. I changed into my pajamas and crawled into bed.
I fell fast asleep, forgetting all about that creepy text I’d received last night.
I stirred awake, with an ominous feeling that someone was inside my head, manipulating my thoughts.
I sat up in bed, feeling compelled to move.
I walked toward a strange man with gray hair and an ashen complexion. He looked familiar, but in my dazed state, I couldn’t figure out who he was.
“Oh, hey. Um,” I stuttered. “Wh-Who are y-y-”
“Shh,” the stranger cautioned. “Mustn’t wake the children,” he whispered seductively. He wiggled his fingers and it felt as if they were crawling through my brain. Ick.
He’d effectively trapped me with his mind, and I could no longer speak or move. It was the most eerie feeling; my eyes rolled back in my head.
I was transfixed as he held me up and sank his sharp fangs into my neck. I expected to feel excruciating pain but felt only a dull, piercing sensation.
He urgently sucked my blood, filling his mouth repeatedly until he was sated. With each strong pull, I felt him draining my life force. Yet I was powerless to stop him.
I was barely conscious when the suction stopped and he licked the wounds closed.
It felt like the only thing stopping me from collapsing was his hands around my neck.
He smacked his lips and wiped his mouth. Oh, God. Is it over?
As he walked away, my knees gave out and my body crumpled to the ground. Vampire. Oh, God. Vampires are real.
I felt the side of my face hit the hard dirt before I passed out cold.
Vlad left Emma several parting gifts. He’s such a pain in the neck, isn’t he? 😉
At the end of Day 4, let’s have a look at the family’s skill levels.
Emma posted a small gain in gardening and a decent gain in logic from helping Cole with his school project. She also gained some painting skill, though as we saw, Emma still has a long way to go before she’s proficient at it.
Kylie made great strides in mental skill. She had barely scratched the surface before. Her social skill continues to improve.
Cole had a banner day, picking up nearly a full level in both mental and social skills.