Alexander Goth had long suspected Don Lothario’s and the Caliente sisters’ involvement in his mother’s strange disappearance. At times, he even was suspicious of his own father–especially after Mortimer’s whirlwind courtship and elopement with Dina Caliente. Mortimer had moved into Dina’s condo after their marriage, and neither Alexander nor his sister, Cassandra, had spoken with their father much. Cassandra was mired in her own grief of a broken heart, and Alexander struggled with being abandoned by a second parent.
Sadly, before Alexander could find out what his father knew, Mortimer passed away and Dina gave birth to a son shortly after. At the reading of the will, both Alexander and Cassandra were stunned to learn their father’s will had been altered. Everything was in complete order, however, and the siblings were forced out of the family estate with a small inheritance of only five thousand simoleons apiece.
Cassandra’s best friend, Mary Sue Pleasant, invited them to live with her. She’d kicked out her ne’er do well husband, Daniel. Although Mary Sue had forgiven him for his indiscretion with the maid, when she caught him with her again, Mary Sue had had enough. Daniel was greeted with his belongings strewn across the lawn and a house key that no longer worked. “Timing couldn’t be better,” Mary Sue sarcastically chuckled. “We now have a spare den. You and Alexander are welcome to stay as long as you like.”
The Pleasant family was not so pleasant, and his oen family was a mess. Cassandra had never recovered from Don’s leaving her at the altar and withdrew, focusing on work. When she was around, she really wasn’t, so Alexander had to muddle through his teen years alone–in a noisy house with the constant fighting between Mary Sue’s twin daughters. Even after Angela went off to university, there was still tension in the house. Sometimes Daniel and Don showed up on the lawn, juiced up, serenading Cassandra and Mary Sue with off-key, tearful tunes. Alexander blamed the most obvious involved: the Caliente sisters and Don Lothario. Deep down, though he couldn’t admit it outside his dreams, he also knew his father was involved. Fortunately, Alexander had noise-canceling headphones, so he spent most of his time in the den shared with Cassandra. He graduated from high school with straight As and received a full scholarship at Sim U where he worked hard at university. After graduation, Alexander entered the scientist career, following in his father’s and sister’s footsteps. He was able to move into the “flop house,” a cheap apartment building in a less than desirable part of town
One afternoon, Alexander discovered his father’s time machine. With the discovery of the time machine came the discovery for his true passion: a resolve to return to a time when life was simpler. When his mother was around, his parents loved each other, and Cassandra smiled. Alexander spent every spare minute and every spare Simoleon on the device until, after two years of tinkering, it hummed to life.
Alexander stepped through confidently.
Unfortunately, he had made a slight calculation error and ended up further back in the past. He stepped out into bright sunshine in a beautiful park. After a few hours, Alexander realized his mistake. He was now in the sleepy town of Sunset Valley where his parents were still children. After disguising the time machine, Alexander decided to try to find out about his parents without being discovered. He quickly found his grandparents’ home, which surprised him. It was a dreary mansion and much larger than he’d supposed. His mother’s family home, on the other hand, appeared relatively normal like the quiet world of Sunset Valley. Alexander caught a taxi cab to park, where the driver told him a festival was going on. Even more surprising were that grandparents were working at the festival booths. He discreetly enquired around, discovering quite a bit about his father and mother, as well as his grandparents. Holing up in the library for the next few weeks, and surviving off food townsfolk seemed to leave at the park, Alexander tried to come up with a plan to return to his own time. Living in the same time and town where his parents grew up–and trying to keep unnoticed–was surreal. Days blended into one another until Alexander felt he’d never known another existence. One night, he had a particularly vivid dream.
“Sul sul,” a ghostly young woman greeted Alexander as he stood in the family graveyard next to a small tombstone. He shivered. “Not everything is as it seems,” she told him. “I wrote a book about it, you know. But I can’t get it published. Would you do it for me? As a favor from one Goth to another?”
“Who are you?” Alexander asked.
“I’m both known and unknown. But if you will take my manuscript to Landgraab Industries and give it to a scientist who works there. His name is Gobias Koffi. Tell him it’s from his old friend and to send it off to the publishers and for his trouble, give him an envelope that’s with the manuscript.
Alexander woke up on one of the couches in the library. He thought it was just a weird dream until he felt the lump under his head. It was a large manila envelope with a smaller envelope taped to the front. “To Gobias. Remember, Bangers Are the Wurst! Fondly, LG”
Alexander decided to find this Gobias Koffi at the research lab. Posing as a messenger would probably be the best option, and the receptionist bought his story. A balding, middle-aged man met him in the spacious foyer of the laboratory. Alexander explained he was delivering a package. Gobias took it and blanched when he saw the note. Gulping, he whispered, “This must really have been delayed.”
Alexander shrugged, “I was just told to see if you could get it to the publisher. Just the delivery guy here.”
“Yeah, of course,” Gobias nodded. “It’s hard getting published, but I know an editor over at Walrus Books.” He seemed relax a bit, chuckling, “Bangers are the wurst. Gives me an idea for a book. I miss that gal.”
“What gal?” Alexander risked, hoping he might find out who the person in his too-real dream was.
“Oh, she was just somebody I used to know.” Alexander knew there was more behind these words. A mystery. He dared not press the scientist, though. “Hmm,” Gobias murmured, as he looked at the manuscript. “I figured it would have been from Lo–from her, but it’s not. Strange. But one must honor the wishes of the deceased, I supposed.” As he slid the manuscript back into the envelope, Alexander was able to read the title page. “Murder in Pleasantview by Alexander Goth.”
What in the world was going on! Before he could utter another word, another scientist grabbed him by the arm. “Good, you’re here. I have a delivery,” he said loudly, steering Alexander towards a corridor.
“What do you think you’re up to?” the scientist scolded Alexander. “First rules: don’t talk to anyone, don’t touch anything, don’t do anything, don’t interact with anyone, and try not to look at anything. Are you deliberately trying to destroy everything?”
“No,” Alexander squeaked, feeling like a small child caught with his hand in the spooky candy jar. As soon as the pair were outside, well away from anyone else, the man spoke. “I can tell you’re not from this time,” he sniffed the air, “Definitely from a future time, but you are connected to this time. So spill the beans so I can help.”
Alexander did. He felt relieved to be able to talk with someone.
The scientist was Emit Relevant, a time traveler, who had been visiting Sunset Valley off and on for awhile. Emit offered to take Alexander through a portal to Oasis Landing, a possibility of the future where the Beaker twins might help Alexander figure out how to return to his own time and place. “At the very least, you could live in Oasis Landing,” Emit told him. “It’s too dangerous to live in your past–you could end up never having been born!”
Tired, hungry, and really wanting a hot shower, Alexander agreed. He showed Emit where his father’s time machine had been hidden. “What a mess that is,” Emit shook his head. No good to you now. Good thing I have a portal.” Emit clicked a remote control and a gleaming silver portal appeared in front of them. “After you,” he motioned to Alexander. With a blinding flash, Alexander was transported from Sunset Valley.
Oasis Landing was nothing like Alexander had even imagined. If he were stuck here, it wouldn’t be too bad. He was surrounded by other time travelers–Sims who had come to meet their descendants or join Emit in his research–it was peaceful and the technology! After leaving Alexander in a Plumbot’s capable hands, Emit said “Remember, the future isn’t written. It can be changed. Good luck!”
After researching the families on Oasis Landing and finding no descendants of either the Goths nor Bachelors, Alexander set out to contact the reclusive Beaker twins.
Ceres and Atom kept to themselves and were not forthcoming with much information, but Alexander did learn that an experiment had transported them to Oasis Landing from Strangetown. At least Strangetown was vaguely familiar. He had heard of the dusty desert where odd phenomena occurred. The twins confirmed they had seen a woman who looked similar to the picture Alexander carried; however, she was widely known as Johnny and Jill Smith’s aunt. Alexander didn’t know any Smiths, and, with a heavy heart, concluded these were two different Bellas. The twins agreed to help Alexander, first by returning to Sunset Valley where they would re-calibrate his time machine.
“The portal has been a well-established link between Sunset Valley and Oasis Landing, so after we have made the changes, we’ll return.” They were true to their word, and upon triple checking the data with the help of Plumbot Cyclotron, all agreed it should return Alexander to his own time. Ceres invited Emit for the “going away” party. Alexander smiled for the first time since he could remember as his new friends—only three of whom weren’t Plumbots—talked about astrophysics, time travel, and alternate dimensions over synthetic food and the sounds of the Laser Rhythm-a-Con.
As the festivities concluded, Alexander thanked them for their help and stepped into the time machine, resigned to just work harder in his career and put the past in the past.
However, when Alexander emerged, he was on a completely unfamiliar world. It was unlike anything he’d seen. Sunset Valley was somewhat familiar, as he had looked through his parents’ scrapbooks, and even Oasis Landing had a futuristic yet familiar feel. This was strange. The trees and other plants, even the terrain and the sky were unlike anything he’d ever seen or even imagined. Alexander wasn’t sure what structure his time machine was beside. Looking around, he found some objects he could use to camouflage the machine a bit. Then he set off on foot. This world was strangely quiet and empty. He didn’t encounter anyone, and as there were no street signs or any indication of what the structures he passed actually were, Alexander kept walking.
Almost in despair of finding out any real information, Alexander encountered a mail carrier. “My, you’re out early,” she told him. Then she looked at him from head to toe, as he uncomfortably shifted his balance. “You definitely are not from around here,” she said, eyebrows raised. “I know all the households in Lunar Lakes.” Alexander smiled weakly. “Still, you don’t look menacing. In fact, you look lost.” Her voice softened, and she leaned forward, almost whispering, “You aren’t from here, right? Tell me what happened.”
Deciding that arriving in a time machine would not be a plausible explanation, Alexander took a deep breath and answered, “I’m a scientist and was trying to travel…”
The mail carrier cut him off. “Ah, so a fellow crash victim.” She smiled and relaxed her shoulders. Alexander relaxed, too. This was becoming a friendly encounter after all. The mail lady continued, “That’s how we all ended up here as well. Or, our ancestors did. I’d say it’s not such a bad place, actually it’s a fab place. Welcome to Lunar Lakes –” she paused, waiting for him to introduce himself.
“Alexander. Alexander Goth. I’ve been trying to find my mother, Bella, who disappeared when I was a kid.”
All the color drained from the letter carrier’s face. “I’m Mathilde Goth.” Alexander could tell she was trying to see any kind of family resemblance. She took a deep breath, shaking off her doubt it seemed. Mathilde was an action-oriented person, Alexander could tell. “Why don’t you accompany me on my route, and I’ll take you to see Mayor Cross. She’s a direct decedent from Anthony Cross, one of the colony’s founders, so should be able to help.” Alexander joined Mathilde on her route and half an hour later found himself in the mayor’s office.
The mayor was intrigued by Alexander’s story “I have no idea if you and Mathilde are related or not, but there is a Goth in the graveyard. I’d recommend talking to Christina Landgraab. She is a scientist–somewhat of an eccentric, but she might help you. Let me call my husband, Anthony, who works at the lab. I think you’ll be in good hands with them. I can also arrange a place for you to stay if you’d like. I’m sure you and Anthony will have so much to talk about.”
Anthony was interested in Alexander’s story and readily introduced him to Christina. “Why doesn’t he just stay with us?” Christina asked Mayor Cross. “There’s plenty of space, and we can head out to the graveyard first thing in the morning.” Alexander didn’t feel he had many options, so he agreed. He was concerned now about how he would produce a crashed space ship, but Christina didn’t ask him any more questions. Instead, she showed him the projects they were working on at the lab, and the rest of the day passed quickly. That evening, after dinner and small talk with Christina’s family who drifted off to their separate activities, she asked Alexander the question he’d been dreading.
“Tell me how you arrived at Lunar Lakes.”
Alexander started to reframe his crash story, but Christina raised her hand to stop him. “The truth. We know there was no space ship. If you want any chance of going back home, you’ll have to tell me the truth. And if you are stuck here, you’ll have to deal with all of us in Lunar Lakes—so you might as well tell me the truth.” Alexander took a deep breath and his life story came tumbling out.
“. . . so I camouflaged the time machine as best as I could and met Mathilde Goth shortly after,” he concluded. After a few minutes of complete silence, Christina stood up and motioned for Alexander to follow her.
“You’ve been through quite a bit. Let me show you where you’ll sleep, and we will leave at dawn for the graveyard.”
Early the next morning, Christina took Alexander see the tombstone. “This is quite odd,” she told Alexander, looking at him so long he felt uncomfortable. “If what you say is true, and the Caliente sisters were involved, I think I may have an idea of what happened. And, Alexander,” she spoke barely above a whisper, “I believe our futures–and pasts–are entwined. I will help you.”
For the first time since he could remember, Alexander felt hope. Even knowing the rudimentary risks of time–and relative dimension in space–travel, Alexander eagerly pinned his hopes on Christina’s helping him. “Yes, I think we can restore both you and your mother to your proper places. I want to keep this between the two of us for now.”
Alexander moved into a small home in the urban sector and was hired to work at the lab, The Perigree, which had been built from the space ship that crash landed all those years ago. Time passed, and Alexander found his life and work in Lunar Lakes fulfilling. Many of the family names were familiar to Alexander, but he could not quite work out how they were related to the families he knew back in Pleasantview. Most of the time, though, Alexander was occupied with work. The lab’s technology was beyond anything he’d ever seen before, and every day brought new knowledge. People lived in harmony for the most part, in Lunar Lakes, and every Sunday, Alexander visited the graveyard. As the months went by, he became more convinced that somehow his mother had spent her last years in Lunar Lakes. As the years passed, his old life began to fade away, and this life seemed to be all he had ever known. Alexander even formed a romantic, although casual, relationship with Octavia Broke. They didn’t have that much in common, but her kisses left him like jelly, and she was fun to be around on his time off. Octavia didn’t have any interest in starting a family or settling down, which worked well for Alexander. As much as he felt Lunar Lakes was his home, there was always that feeling in the pit of his stomach that at any time, he would walk through the time machine and return home–to Pleasantview.
After nearly a decade, the SIDRAT (as Christina named it) was completed. The SIDRAT wasn’t as simple as a time portal or a time machine, so Christina arranged for a “pilot” as she called her. “She’s quite experienced in everything but you won’t be able to speak with her. Continuity, you know.”
Alexander nodded. They were already tinkering with timelines and didn’t need a confounding variable. Besides, after working with Christina for so many years, he had come to trust her despite a few misgivings at first after a strange conversation he’d over heard a few days after his arrival.
“Why can’t I talk with him?” Alexander recognized Mathilde’s voice. “Especially if we are related–I have a right to meet my own””
Christina had cut off Mathilde mid sentence. “I know it’s confusing, but if you get too involved with his life, it might completely alter reality. I’m going to help him set things right, and then your family will be reunited when the time,” Christina paused, letting out a high-pitched laugh. “Time is not a linear progression, my dear. You’ll understand some day. Here, take this.” Alexander ducked into a doorway as Mathilde left clutching an odd-looking ball of glowing yarn. He hadn’t thought of that encounter for awhile. Nerves, perhaps? Alexander shrugged them off; there was no turning back now.
“No guarantees, as you well know, but here’s hoping,” Christina said, “Since you won’t be able to return here, it will appear to everyone else as though there’s been an accident. But, if all goes well, you’ll awaken to find your mother and father and sister all together back in Pleasantview. You won’t remember any of this, which is why I’m sending along someone to watch over you.”
Christina paused, holding back the reasons she was so interested in Alexander’s past events and correcting, as she thought of it, the timeline.
Unlike the departure from Oasis Landing, there was no farewell party this time. In a few hours, everyone but Christina and the pilot would think he had been involved in a lab accident. His “grave” would be placed next to his mother’s, and he had already seen the tombstone with its flattering tribute. If it didn’t go well, perhaps a real grave would be there. Alexander hesitated for a moment and then stepped inside the SIDRAT. His pilot was already strapped in, wearing her flight suit and helmet.
“Good luck,” Christina said as she closed the SIDRAT. Alexander fastened himself in, donned his helmet, breathed in deeply as Christina had instructed, and closed his eyes. He felt drowsy, and his last conscious thoughts were of his mother’s laughter.