"I'm a witch," Olive whispers, "and you're my familiar."
Trilobite doesn't get it.
He is, after all, just a normal sim kitten.
When Trilobite matures into an adult cat, Olive uses her allowance to buy him a collar with a red heart-shaped tag. The tag is engraved with the name she picked out for him, and jingles whenever he makes any but the slowest movements—a feature that amuses Moby greatly. The elder cat is often spotted following his grandson around, pawing at the tag.
Olive is getting quite good at casting simple illusions.
She practices in secret, since she's not allowed to be practicing at all.
More often than not, the secrecy means making sure her magic-sensitive father is at work and locking herself in the bathroom.
Only Holland knows about her secret.
Other than Trilobite, of course.
"I don't know if I want to go to prom," Apollo confides in her mother. "Half the school wants to go out with me."
"Hmm. I never had that problem," her mother says bluntly.
"What would you do if you did? Boys outnumber girls in my class three to one."
"If I wanted to go? I'd go with the one I liked best," Molly says. "Someone is going to be sad no matter what choices you make. Don't let that stop you from making choices."
Apollo frowns deeply. "This is one of those weird philosophical moments, isn't it? Where I thought we were talking about one thing, and you have to turn it into something else?"
While Apollo deals with high school, her younger siblings are in no hurry to grow up.
They spend as much time as they can just playing pretend. This sprinkler is a waterfall...
...and there is no trampoline, only kangaroos in training...
...and, for the sake of this mages-only campaign, they'll even pretend both of these wands shoot magic.
"Oh no! The dragon's scales reflect all magic! We'll have to rely on our physical strength, but we are weak scholarly types! We're doomed!" Holland comes up with most of the problems.
Trilobite really doesn't get it.
The most impressive toy is the imagination, but having a chest full of fun costumes helps.
"I think Mom's plotting veggie rolls for dinner again."
"Snap out of it, Lieutenant! We're lightyears away from our mommas!" Olive refuses to break character in the middle of a scene. "Now, do you see any sign of the alien?"
"Oh, uh... I think it's on the ceiling, admiral."
Olive just likes to see everyone happy, really... and the only times her brother is happy lately, he's pretending to be someone else.
Something must be bothering him.
The night of the full moon arrives. Holland reluctantly sits with his father in front of their colossal television screen. His sisters are at the sleep over parties of different friends—one child age, one teen age, of course—and his father has set out snacks and a selection of horror films Holland isn't normally allowed to watch for fear he'll "get scared" and turn into a werewolf.
"You don't really think anything will happen, do you?"
"No," Dysen answers truthfully.
"Then why am I being punished?"
"You're not being punished. You're watching a movie with your dad."
"You make me feel like I'm a freak."
"Being freakish isn't terrible. It's made me a lot of money."
"I'm not psychic, Dad. I'm just a monster."
"Oh so I've had to replace a few clawed up cushions. Not a big deal..."
"Not a big deal?! I can't do anything because you think I'll wolf out and people will get mad and kill our whole family."
"You know our family has been in trouble before. It's a serious concern."
Holland starts to cry. "I'm not a bad person, Dad!"
Dysen recoils, startled. How can a psychic parent misread his own kids so badly? he wonders. "I know that, Hollie..."
The wailing intensifies. "Don't call me that! I'm not a girl!"
Dysen pats his son on the head cautiously. "There, there..."
"I didn't do anything bad... I didn't mean to be a werewolf..."
"You're not a bad kid. I don't know how I could give you that impression."
"Then why are you punishing me?!"
"I'm not! I'm trying to get you to pick a movie to watch!"
"You think I'll hurt someone!"
"It's called responsible parenting. And I'm more worried someone will hurt you. Don't be sad! Please?" Dysen finds he can't say what his son wants to hear. Some people don't want to hear anything.
"Do you wish I never existed?"
"No. Of course not. I love you."
Holland scowls, as if he doesn't quite believe his father, but dries his tears on his sleeves.
Dysen fights to keep his expression neutral. His son has the over-emotional trait, so he's seen, and psychically felt, these sorts of mood swings before. He puts an arm around the boy. "Your emotions are severely in flux due to a planet passing between Earth and the main star in your constellation."
"I'm distracting you with absurdity."
"Now what do you think? The Day of the Cowplants? Maybe Time Cube?"
Holland chooses a film blindly. It's mediocre and badly paced, lingering too long on the toxic relationship between the main characters, two bothers who have inherited their father's hat shop.
"When they made hats in that time period, there was some heavy metal used in the production, and supposedly it poisoned the hatters and drove them insane. So we have the phrase, mad as a hatter," Dysen explains. "Mostly the phrase survives because of the Alice in Wonderland stuff, probably."
Holland shrugs. "Are you going to leave your business to us when you get too old to run it, Dad?"
"Uhhh... sure? Whatever you want, kid. I'll make it happen."
"Will I have a boss? Why is Mister Marvin your boss when you're the famous one?"
"Craft is my boss because it's convenient." Dysen ostensibly gets money just for walking into a packed room with a stage and reciting a script these days, but there's a lot going on behind the scenes.
I had a hilarious caption here, but blogger deleted the entire chapter in some freak accident, and I cannot remember what the hilarious thing was. I've been painstakingly piecing the pictures back into a narrative, and it has been annoying, and I'm starting to lose my mind right about here apparently.
I'm so ticked off. I can't even.
It was something involving charisma and tips of the trade, but I just cannot remember.
So, like, make up your own caption???
What questionable decision is Dysen making in this picture???
Anyway, the full moon pops up, insert poetic description here.
It follows typical video game logic. It's a problematically gigantic moon.
And then this happened. Insert spooky description here.
Dysen freaks out over Holland's blond hair.
Holland freaks out over Holland's blond hair.
"My genetics are being mutated!" Holland screams.
This change feels different from losing control, and the blond hair proves it is different.
Dysen decides the pup's distress is unimportant. He is overcome with the urge to hunt.
The hunt takes him all the way to the refrigerator.
Molly takes over parenting.
"Awww, you are so cute," she soothes. "Your hair looks just like your Grandma Holly's."
Molly narrows her eyes. "Don't growl at me."
Hunger sated, Dysen dashes around the kitchen in a frenzy. After a few laps he pauses, throws open the door, and lets out a piercing howl before darting out towards the woods and the valley beyond.
Holland is compelled to answer the call with a pathetic howl of his own. He runs to catch up with his father.
Molly does the dishes. "This is fine," she says to herself. "My husband and son just changed into werewolves and ran off, no reason to worry."
Dysen does not return until the early morning. He carries their snoozing son into the house and deposits him on the sofa.
"All night," Molly says, when her husband doesn't say anything.
"We couldn't change back until morning."
"What were you doing?"
"Listening to Holland bitch about nature smells, mostly."
Dysen reaches into one of his coat pockets and withdraws a small bouquet of bright red roses, slightly crushed. He offers them to his wife, who smiles, and then frowns again. "I did stop at the corner store before coming home. I thought I might need these."
"All night," she repeats.
"What are you accusing me of?"
"Bad judgment? You frightened me. You didn't seem like yourself."
"I didn't feel like myself. It's hard to explain." Dysen recalls some kind of primal fear of Molly; she wasn't his own kind, and he had to get away. It doesn't make sense now that the sun has risen.
"What does that mean?"
"I think it means the full moon, despite common sense indicating otherwise, is going to trigger the change? Now if you'll excuse me, I'm tired, I'm annoyed, and I smell bad. I want a shower."
Molly watches Dysen stalk away from her.
She sits down in the rocking chair. Its squeaking is unsettling in the quiet. She glances from her sleeping child to the window, where a pinkish dawn sky looms beyond heavy gray clouds. Has she made a mistake, she wonders. Is there a problem? If there is a problem, will it go away on its own, or is it the kind of problem that requires her intervention?
Etc.: The origin of the phrase "mad as a hatter" is not known for certain. It predates Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter. A popular theory points to chronic mercury poisoning.