It was Scarlett’s first day of work and even though she had gotten up early, too wired to sleep more than was absolutely necessary, she ran out the door to her waiting ride. She didn’t see any of the others, except one guy – Ernest? She thought that was his name – who was curled up on the loveseat in the main room.
Her ride was already there despite the early hour. The woman in the driver’s seat didn’t even look at her.
“Scarlett?” she asked.
“Yeah, of course.”
The other woman looked at her disapprovingly. “Well you never know, I have to check.”
Then they didn’t speak another word all the way to the Stadium. The car, Scarlett knew, was sent by the asylum and not by her workplace. It was hard enough that they had to accept a crazy rainbow, she supposed – they didn’t want to drive her places, too.
It didn’t matter. This was the start of her future. The rest of her life. Who cared if the car smelled faintly of cigarette smoke and that the driver had all the charisma of a wooden spoon. She was going somewhere and that somewhere wasn’t down a steep hill in a stolen school bus.
She just barely succeeded in finding the place she was supposed to start her day. The locker room was empty, and the lights overhead blinked to life with a hollow click as she entered. She could hear running water in a room next door.
Truth be told, she didn’t have a reason to be here. She had changed from home and she hadn’t been told to bring anything other than a towel so that she could change after work.
Just as she was about to sit down and wait for someone else to come around, a door to the side was opened and a woman stepped in. Her face turned to Scarlett – and then lit up like a sunrise.
“You’re that new worker, right? Hi, I’m Noemi, what’s your name?” The other woman practically blurted it all at her as she ran towards her and took her hand.
“I’m uh, Scarlett, hi.”
“Scarlett, oh, wow, what a pretty name. And you’re a rainbow. Oh, wait,” she suddenly looked embarrassed. “Ouch, my big mouth, that’s really offensive to call you that. Don’t worry, we don’t really discriminate here, because Pierce is a… well, he’s purple, so-“
“I-it’s okay!” Scarlett hurriedly said. “Really, I’m… not offended.”
You’ve been called worse.
“Well, thank the Watcher for that! Wow, I really thought I’d put my foot in it. I always do that. Maybe why I’m still just a rabid fan.”
“Um, a what?”
Noemi chuckled. “Well, it’s just what they call us. We run errands and shout at people that Carly don’t want to shout at herself. So we’re really just lackeys, but they call us rabid fans – because sometimes they have girls who take the job just to get close to the players isn’t that fun- Oh, here’s Carly, hi, Carly!”
Scarlett turned her head so quick she feared her neck might snap.
“Goodmorning, Noe,” Carly said.
Carly Ruiz. Scarlett remembered her from the brief pre-interview – she was Scarlett’s boss.
“I was just talking to Scarlett, and I told her about rabid fans because she didn’t-“
“Do you think this place looks good, Noe?” Carly interrupted.
Scarlett noted that her boss hadn’t even looked at her once. Great start. She decided to sit down and just listen to the other women talking.
“I think it looks nice,” Noemi said. “Very light colours and it really suits the-“
“But do you think it’s clean?”
“Uh, huh, well, not terribly clean, no. Well, it could be worse.”
“Talk to the cleaners for me, will you? I’m not happy with those showers. You’d think this wasn’t where the country’s top teams train but some middle school locker room.”
“I’ll be sure to do that, Car; I can bring Scarlett.”
Carly nodded and started rummaging in her locker.
“Well, Scarlett – can I call you Scar? – right so I think we should probably talk to Penny, because she’s the one who usually cleans here, and if we can’t get her to take a look we’ll go to the bosses…”
Scarlett didn’t even get to comment on anything – no you cannot call me Scar. Who’s Penny? Where are we going? – before Noemi dragged her out of there, still chattering endlessly about everything and nothing. But mostly nothing.
That same night, Scarlett had almost managed to drift off to sleep. At last. She had spent all day running from one end of the Stadium to the next, listening to Noemi and shouting at cleaning personnel, picking up balls after the athletes’ practice sessions, and picking up lost and found items. And all day she had been wondering why Carly didn’t note her presence at all.
The lights were suddenly turned on and Scarlett bolted upright.
“What are you doing here?”
A guy stood staring at her. Ernest.
“Get out, you’re being a creep.”
“Um, are you done sleeping soon?”
She had been so close to falling asleep… “Is it still dark outside?”
“Then no. Get out.”
Ernest looked at her with eyes that showed clear signs of sleep deprivation and then he left, turning the light off as he went.
Scarlett groaned and laid herself back down. Someone was pounding on the wall next door and sleep eluded her. She was thinking about Carly and Noemi and the job once more.
No way she was getting any sleep now.
One morning, Scarlett did her training in her jacket and directed pointed stares at anyone who looked at her funny.
“You must get awfully sweaty,” Gail said. Gal was a curvy woman with red hair and dark skin. “That jacket looks warm.”
“You always get sweating working out. I do things my way.”
“I don’t really think it’s any of your business.”
She left Scarlett alone to ponder how work was going to be this day. She been at her workplace for just over a week and she hadn’t had a single word from her boss all this time. Basically, Carly had decided that certain sections of the walls required more attention than Scarlett; it bothered her more than she cared to admit.
It wasn’t like she was a people person but usually people had a reason not to like her, and Carly, as far as she could tell, didn’t.
Maybe she was a customer in the SimNation Bank…?
Do you think her mother was in the bank the day you decided to rob it? She asked.
“Tried to rob it. And no, that would be pretty contrived. The bank is in Sunset Valley and that’s far away from here.”
She hated it when the only thing she felt like she could do was talk to Her. But sometimes, She truly was the only one who understood.
“Besides, she doesn’t seem angry. She’s just pretending I don’t exist.”
Usually, you don’t care. Look at how cordial you’ve been to the other loons.
“That’s different. This woman… I want to impress her.”
Yeah, this is why you’re such a nice person.
She swaggered out of the shower room, wrapped in a towel that matched Scarlett’s own. Scarlett truly hated it when she had to rely on Her, and she hated it even more when her own stupid head took that as a sign to start hallucinating her in full figure. She strolled on over and sat down, tossing her hair, and smiled at Scarlett.
Maybe you should try to treat people well, regardless of whether you need to impress them or not.
“Yes, because you’re an absolute champ at that.”
I don’t exist. I can get away with being terrible.
“Oh, you exist alright.”
She rolled her eyes. I’m a creation of your sick mind, Sunset.
“Don’t call me-“
She quickly disappeared, a delighted smile on her face, and then Carly sat down. She smiled, but Scarlett couldn’t return it. There was a knot in her stomach. Carly had heard her talking to no one at all – this was it. She was out.
“Do you think we could talk?”
“Yes.” Scarlett forced a smile onto her face. “Yes, of course.”
She didn’t even have the presence of mind to notice that Carly’s smile was kind.
“You might have noticed that I haven’t talked to you much the past week.”
Scarlett snorted sarcastically before she could stop herself and to her surprise, her boss chuckled.
“Okay, so ‘might’ isn’t the word. You noticed. I’m sorry about it, but I can explain.”
Still not sure she was home safe, Scarlett nodded in understanding. “Yes?”
“Well, here’s the thing. You’re not the first Eliza sent. She’s a distant cousin of mine and she’s pretty much the born optimist – she’s always sending me lost souls to help back into real life, and to begin with I welcomed them all with open arms. Then things started going crazy.
“She sent me everyone, pretty much,” Carly continued. “Like alcoholics and people who could barely spell their own names and people who were practically feral. I mean, I’d love to help people out but there has to be a limit. I had to fire most of them after no time at all because they either couldn’t or wouldn’t do a proper job.”
“I’m trying to say that I was very, very hesitant to take you in and that’s why I didn’t do or say anything for a week. I stopped taking in people like you for a while entirely. Told Elizabeth to… well, stuff herself; but then she called me, almost in tears. She said you were different. Made of sterner stuff, as she said it. And she was right.”
Carly laughed then. “Oh, wow, sorry, but I can almost see the relief on your face.”
Scarlett hadn’t even noticed that her entire body had been tense and only now that she knew she was okay did she let it out.
“Sorry, I was a bit… tense.”
“You’re cool, Scarlett, it’s okay,” Carly then said. “Eliza was right this time. I wanted to talk to you to ask if you’d like a bit more to do. We need someone to sell snacks during the games – would that be something you’d be willing to do?”
“Yes!” Scarlett practically burst out. “Yes, I would. Thank you.”
“Brilliant! Well, I’ll see you tomorrow then. Congratulations on your promotion.”
From outside the asylum, Scarlett could see Freddy preparing dinner. She stood for long just looking in the windows.
Janice was scaring Ernest.
There were fights and discussions. Shouts and muffled discussions. The sounds of crazy.
But as she stood outside, looking up at the starry sky, her promotion still warming her core, she didn’t feel crazy at all. She really could do this. Pull through and become someone. Try as She might, she wouldn’t be able to convince her that she really was crazy. Not anymore.
Oh jeez, the confidence doesn’t suit you.
“Too bad,” Scarlett muttered under her breath. “Because I have a feeling it’s here to stay.”
Feeling like I’m finally getting the hang of this, Chapter One was really hard to write but this one came much more easily to me. Not to mention I had oodles of fun staging the locker room shots. It reminds me why I like storytelling with TS3 so much.
Btw, if/when you see images that seem a little grainier than the others, it’s because I balls things up. I save the pictures from this story as .pngs so that they’re much prettier, but because I’m so used to just saving as a .jpg it happens once in a while. It’s because I use .jpgs for the Hollanders and you might know what muscle memory is like.