"Shh!" Olivia replied dramatically waving her hands for Odd to be quiet, "Mom's talking to Grandma and Grandpa about Oscar."
Odd joined her sister at the doorway and peered through to the scene in the lounge.
"What are they saying?" She whispered to Olivia.
"Grandma's yelling at Mom for giving the house away to Oscar and for letting someone called Robson into our lives." Olivia replied as quietly as she could muster, which still caused Morgan's head to turn towards the slit in the door that her daughters were peering through.
"Quick hide!" Olivia grabbed Odds arm and dragged her outside into the back garden.
"I guess this is why we left in a rush." Olivia stated once they were outside.
"Who is Robson?" Odd asked screwing up her face in confusion.
Olivia shrugged, "Dunno, but he's living in our house with our brother." She said, her eyes wide in indignation.
"Why did Mom give the house to Oscar?" Odd asked.
"I guess because he's the only boy." Olivia figured, "Well i suppose she couldn't give it to me." She finished dejectedly.
"Or me." Odd replied matching Olivia's outlook.
The conversation fell flat and the silence seemed endless between the two sisters, until Odd broke it by saying, "Maybe it's because Oscar has Stacey, you know so he's more likely to get married." She paused, biting her lip unsure whether to continue then determining she should, "I don't get why she goes out with him after he pushed her off that jungle gym."
"What? Oscar pushed Stacey?" Olivia yelled, "How do you know that?"
"I was there." Odd shrugged.
"Well why didn't you say anything?" Olivia demanded. "Poor Stacey ended up in a cast and missed out on the part of Dorothy because of that accident." As soon as the words left her mouth Olivia realised that was how she had gotten the part. Not because she earned it but because Oscar sabotaged her competition. What she couldn't figure out was why?
"I didn't know if that was normal or not." Odd replied, sheepishly. "You and Oscar just seem to get how to be around other Sims and i just don't"
"It's not normal Odd." Olivia replied, thinking that perhaps everything about Oscar was not normal. Not the way he had pushed her to compete with Stacey or how he had gained control of the family home. "You have to tell Mom what you saw."
"Do you think it will help?" Odd asked unsure that it would.
"You're right." Olivia reasoned, "It won't help Mom, but if we tell Stacey maybe it will help her."
"Seriously Odette!" Belisama shook her head, "You just got booted from your home and cheated out of your inheritance and you're quibbling over Stacey Leigh getting pushed out of a tree house."
"A jungle gym." Odd corrected her friend.
"Like it matters!" Belisama retorted, "My point is you have bigger worries than that air head."
"What can i do about Oscar being made the heir?" Odd shrugged.
"Well maybe you could just hide away in the janitors closet and never confront your evil brother, oh and while you're at it maybe you could mope around and have zero conversational skills." Belisama rolled her eyes, "Oh wait you already do all that stuff."
Odd shook her head at her friend, "You know sarcasm is the lowest form of wit." She replied.
"Seriously though are you ever gonna tell me what your deal is?" Belisama asked.
Odd pursed her lips. It wasn't the first time that Belisama had tried to get inside Odds head and figure out just why she had become even more withdrawn than she was at the start of their friendship, but she wasn't ready to share with anyone other than Elsa the details of her gift.
Since the night that George and Alice had crossed over Odd tried her best not to get too close to anyone, distancing herself from Elsa and Belisama in the process. But luckily neither friend had been willing to let her get away with such nonsense, in fact Odds withdrawal seemed to have had the opposite effect on Belisama bringing her right out of her shell, to the point where Odd was certain that the two of them were now best friends.
"Hello Earth to Odette!" Belisama laughed, throwing a pencil at her friends head to break her from her trance.
"Sorry, look can we just get on with the assignment?" She begged, hoping her friend would drop it.
"Okay for now." Belisama relented.
Her sisters words and those of her friend rang in her ears. Maybe she should tell Stacey what she had seen, but maybe the girl wouldn't believe her. One thing was for sure Oscar would find out what she had said and he would not be happy. Odd had tried her hardest to stay off his radar, the last thing she wanted was him taking an interest in her and her gift, nothing good could come of that she was sure. But could she just sit back and do nothing while he tore apart her family?
As the City lit up behind her she continued across the bridge. If only her problems could be solved by a spell or by convincing a spirit to cross over she was sure she could deal with them. But the real world had never been her speciality and she felt like a fish out of water even trying to contemplate a solution.
When she eventually arrived home it was to yet another argument, this time her Dad was laying into her Mom.
"What the hell were you thinking? I warned you not to give him control of the house Morgan, it was too much too young for him." Declan was yelling.
"I had no choice!" Morgan yelled in reply.
"Of course you did! You're the adult you have the ultimate choice!" He spat in reply.
"You don't understand what Oscar is capable of." She shook her head, "He's not some innocent little boy."
"He's our son." Declan dismissed her off hand, turning his head away and catching sight of Odd in the doorway.
"Sweetheart?" he called to her, beckoning her over to them. Odd obliged and trudged over reluctantly. "Go upstairs and get your things." Her Dad instructed, "You're coming home to stay with me and Celine."
"But we just got here." Odd mumbled in reply.
"Odette, i think it's best if you stay with your father for now." Morgan told her, "Go and pack up your things."
Odd found Olivia folding out her clothes to pack in their shared room.
"Finally you're here!" She exclaimed, "We don't have much time."
Olivia grabbed Odds hand and guided her to the couch.
"What do you mean not much time? I still have to pack, Dad will wait for us." Odd frowned in confusion.
"I'm not going to Dads." Olivia explained, "Mom's found me a place in this treatment centre. She's taking me there tonight."
"Treatment centre?" Odd asked.
"Odd please we don't have time!" Olivia cried, "You have to tell Stacey what Oscar did."
"I'm not sure it will help Liv, in fact it might make it worse." She protested.
"You don't get it." Olivia replied, "We're all just pawns in his game. I couldn't see it before but since you told me that i get it now. He's using her like he used me."
"But why would she listen to me?" Odd shook her head, "You know her better Liv, just call her now and tell her."
"If i tell her she'll just think i'm trying to break them up because Anson dumped me, trust me Odd i know how her mind works." Olivia replied convincingly.
"Won't she think i'm just trying to break them up too?" Odd queried, still unsure.
"Hmm, maybe you're right." Olivia answered, "Then you have to tell Anson. He'll believe you, he's been waiting for a reason to get back at Oscar. Odd promise me you'll do this." She begged.
"If it really means that much to you." Odd relented, seeing the look of determination in her sisters eyes.
"It does. I can't get better if I'm worrying that Oscar is doing to someone else what he's done to me." She smiled bitterly.
"I'll miss you." Odd told her quietly, looking at her hands which were wringing in her lap. This was the most conversation that the two sisters has ever had, Odd felt bad that it had only happened now they were saying goodbye.
Olivia pulled Odd up from the couch and threw her arms around her sister.
"I'm so sorry Odd, all this time i listened to Oscar and i haven't been a good sister to you. Can you forgive me?" Olivia asked.
"Of course." Odd replied, feeling ever so slightly awkward at the closeness between them, but so very thankful that they had gotten a second chance at a relationship.
Odd woke the next morning in her fathers apartment and headed to the kitchen for breakfast. It was strange being there without her siblings, usually the solitude would bring her peace but now that there was only her she felt the spotlight was upon her. Dad and Celine would be no doubt be taking a much closer interest in her than usual.
"Good morning Odette!" Celine chipped brightly as soon as she walked into the kitchen, "I got these pumpkins at the store yesterday, i thought maybe we could carve them tonight?"
"Oh." Odd replied, "Erm okay."
"You know for Halloween?" Celine added helpfully, noticing the girls confusion.
Odd grabbed the milk from the fridge and the cereal from the counter retreating hastily to the dining room. She never understood the whole deal with Halloween, a bunch of Sims dressing up as ghosts and witches. To her these things were her reality, not some Hallmark gimmick.
"I was thinking i could get us some costumes, maybe we could dress up for when the trick or treaters come." Celine continued, deciding to ignore Odds lack of enthusiasm, "Or maybe we could just not answer the door and eat all the candy ourselves." She giggled.
"Um sure." Odd smiled reluctantly. she didn't blame Celine for her efforts in trying to forge a relationship with her, she had watched other Sims interactions enough to know that this is what they did. Somehow it seemed to make them feel better to be surrounded by others. Although Odd much preferred the solitude of being alone, she figured she had her recent bridge building with Olivia to thank for her willingness to let Celine try.
"See you tonight!" Celine called happily as Odd left to get dressed for school.
Odd walked from the apartment that she, for now at least, had to call home, wondering about the rest of her family. She imagined that Mom and Olivia had reached the treatment centre and were getting ready to help battle her sisters demons, but what of the demons closer to home?
Would Oscar be at school today?
Would he say anything to her?
Was she expected to say something to him?
The questions whirled inside her mind slowly drowning her and she found herself trying to think of anything else to make an escape.
As she climbed on board the school bus she let out a sigh of relief that Oscar was not on it. No doubt he had taken his car. But Anson Leigh was sitting there staring emptily out of the window.
Odd remembered Olivia's words, "You have to tell him Odd." She had been so certain that it was what she should do but Odd was still unsure. Anson had never deigned to speak directly to her, but she wasn't stupid. She had heard the things he said about her, not that she let it affect her, heck her own family called her "Odd" she knew she wasn't conventional.
But to someone like Anson unconventional was a pollution staining his perfect view of the world. She doubted he would listen to her, if he stopped to give her the time of day at all.
Sighing odd realised that this was just another complication on a long, long list of them right now, so she opted to copy Anson and stared out of the window for the rest of the journey.
As the skyscrapers and shops streamed by Odd wondered how she had managed to miss the fact that today was Halloween. The City was littered with banners advertising the various balls and fancy dress parties and shops had decked their windows with pumpkins, ghosts and ghouls in an attempt to cash in on the holiday.
Odd stared hard at a cardboard ghost in the bookstores window as the bus sat waiting on a red light turning green. Is this what other Sims think ghosts are? She wondered, white sheets with eye holes? She guessed that most hid from the truth as it was too complicated for them to process what life after death really looked like.
Odd shook her head at the sight of the school. Was nowhere free from this holiday? On the one hand her mind had been moved from her worries but she was now occupied solely with thoughts of George.
"Odette!" Elsa beamed as the girl entered the emporium, "How lovely to see you."
Odd slumped her shoulders. She had felt sure that if anyone hated this sham of a day as much as her it would be Elsa, surely she could see how fake it was!
"Not you too." Odd grumbled. "What is it with everyone and Halloween?"
"It's a very special day Odette." Elsa smiled reprovingly.
"But it's all so false." She shook her head gesturing to the Halloween decorations that were filling the shop.
"Oh yeah this stuff is." Elsa agreed, "But it sure gets the till ringing! Today is my busiest of the year."
"I never thought about it like that." Odd sniffed.
"Well that's not the reason why Halloween is so special." Elsa continued, "Most Sims have forgotten it's true meaning which died out long ago. You see traditionally Halloween marks the end of the harvest time, it's a time for thanking the Goddess for the bounties she has provided us with."
"So it's nothing to do with ghosts and scaring each other?" Odd asked.
"Oh it still has it's spooky origins." Elsa smiled, relishing telling her tale, "You see the end of the harvest marks the end of the light and heralds the dark. It is the night when the veil between this realm and the spirit world is at its thinnest. That is why we always set a place for our dearly departed at the festival table."
"There's a festival?" Odd said, her eyes lighting up on discovering more about the supernatural world which she loved calling reality.
"Indeed i shall be attending it at midnight with my sisters, as i do every year." Elsa beamed.
"Sisters? I didn't know you had any family." Odd asked, feeling silly for never having questioned it before.
"Not siblings Odette, my sisters are my coven." Elsa revealed.
"You know other witches?" Odd exclaimed rather too loudly causing Elsa to give her an admonishing look.
"We prefer the term wiccans, and yes there are a few genuine articles left." She grinned.
"C-can i come to the festival?" Odd asked, excitement invading her heart at the very thought.
"No." Elsa replied firmly, "I'm sorry Odette but this is an important night for us and we wiccans take our privacy very seriously."
"But i won't say anything i promise i would just sit and watch what happened, please?" She begged.
"I'm sorry Odette but it's not safe for you. In fact i want you to promise me that you will go straight home. Not only is it Halloween but there is a full moon tonight." Elsa warned. "This is a powerful night and many supernatural creatures celebrate it in their own way."
Odd made her promises and reluctantly left the emporium and all dreams of uncovering the real Halloween behind.
Grudgingly she walked to the subway station wondering what Elsa had meant by other supernatural creatures? She supposed she shouldn't think it too strange after all she took the existence of ghosts and witches in her stride, and vampires walked the streets as freely as regular Sims these days, it was just the norm. What else could be out there that she hadn't yet discovered?
She felt completely adrift at Elsa's snub. Being around the woman was her one remaining connection to her spirituality and whenever she was at the emporium Odd felt at ease, comfortable in her own skin. She knew that the gaping hole in her life was George, when he had been around she always felt grounded because the supernatural world was with her as long as he was. Now that he was gone she had to get it in bite sized chunks in the few hours she could sneak at Fairchild's Emporium after school.
She hadn't meant to walk right by the subway station, and she hadn't meant to disregard Elsa's warning. Yet Odd found that she had been drawn to the cemetery. Not in her usual spirit world is calling way, but simply by the tug of her heartstrings demanding that she be as close to George as possible.
She visited Alice's grave often. Although Elsa had not revealed it until much later, Odd now knew that George's body had lay in the attic for all those years. But now his bones as well as his spirit were at rest, alongside his Mother.
Standing over the marker where her best friend now lay she let out all her worries and sobbed openly in the deserted graveyard.
Odd knew that it was a risk for her to visit the cemetery on a normal day, let alone a night when the veil between the Sim and spirit worlds was at it's thinnest. But she also knew that for her gift to work she had to be open and receptive to ghostly interactions and since George she had remained as tightly closed as she could, not wanting to go through that turmoil again. She realised it was selfish to shut out the spirits who may need her help but heck she was a 17 year old girl she was allowed to be selfish right?
Drying her eyes she said goodbye to George and Alice and made her way home. As she passed the walled pond housing a statue of some City founder she felt a sensation wash over her, and sure she was no longer alone she stopped in her tracks looking over towards the statue.
But as her eyes focused in the darkness of the night she saw nothing and no one.
She couldn't feel any calling or sensation passing through her so it couldn't be a spirit, perhaps another supernatural creature, like the ones Elsa had warned her of? But she shrugged it off and continued to walk from the graveyard.
As she continued down the slope to the gates she felt it again, this time so strong she knew she had not been mistaken earlier, someone was watching her. Not giving away her awareness she continued forward then suddenly spun around.
Whoever her stalker was he was fast, but this time she had spotted him rush away, farther into the walled garden.
A tiny voice of warning told her to leave but for the first time since George had left Odd felt a calling and knew she had to answer it.
She walked to the rear of the walled area and stopped to take in the sight of her spectator. If she didn't know better she would think him a statue as he blended seamlessly into the cold grey brickwork. Seeing him was like looking at a piece of negative film come to life, but then Odd had to ask herself was he alive at all?
Swallowing hard she plucked up the nerve to sit next to him, hoping that if the black and white apparition realised she could see him he may try and communicate with her.
They sat side by side for what felt like an eternity. Every so often Odd would glance at him from the corner of her eye and at other times she felt the weight of his gaze being returned. Finally, when it became clear that he was not about to make contact Odd spoke up, "I can see you, you know." She told him.
"I should hope so I'm sitting right next to you!" The boy replied derisively and Odd felt her cheeks colour in embarrassment. "So i guess that answers my question then." The boy continued as if to himself.
"What question?" She asked narrowing her eyes.
"Here i was wondering to myself if this girl is completely insane and now i know that you definitely are." He smirked.
"I am not!" Odd cried offended.
"Really?" he snorted, "What other possible reason do you have for being in the graveyard on Halloween all by yourself? Don't you know how dangerous that is?"
"Well you're out here by yourself!" She replied indignantly.
"That's not the same." He dismissed her retort instantly, "Besides that's not the only insane behaviour you've displayed this evening. I mean here i am a complete stranger, for all you know i could be a deranged lunatic and what do you do? Run away? Oh no you sit down and stare at me." he scoffed.
"I wasn't staring!" She yelled, hearing how her voice had risen to a higher octave than usual, and hating that he'd had that effect on her. "I was waiting for you to initiate contact with me."
"Oh really?" He tilted his head sarcastically, "What are you some Sci-fi nut? I'm not an alien!"
"I didn't think you were an alien i thought you were a ghost!" Odd retorted quickly, instantly cursing the words she had uttered, but this boy had gotten right under her skin.
At least her last remark had silenced his mocking, he seemed genuinely freaked out by it, in fact he was looking at Odd like she was the weirdest girl he'd ever met.
"Well at least we've cleared that up for you then." He finally replied, "I'm not a ghost, go on you can touch my hand and check I'm not vapour if you want." He offered his hand to her and Odd looked up expecting to see his mocking smirk, but instead she found him fixing her with a serious glance.
"That's okay i believe you." She replied not taking her eyes off him for a second. It was as though his glance was magnetised, drawing her in and she could not turn from it.
"What's your name ghost girl?" The boy eventually asked, breaking the eye contact and the spell as he did.
"Odd." She replied.
"Well that figures." He laughed gently.
"Well it's Odette actually but my sister used to call me Odd when we were babies and it kinda stuck." She explained, for some reason she felt the need to with this guy.
"It suits you." He smirked, but she saw that it was playful and not mocking. "I'm Lincoln but my family call me Ink." he told her offering his hand again, this time for her to shake.
"Nice to meet you Ink." She said shyly, before taking his hand and greeting him properly.
As she let go of his hand a flash of white blurred across the cemetery and as Odd looked up she saw that a girl was now standing directly in front of them.
"Well, well Ink I'm impressed, you actually found your own lunch tonight!" The girl smiled and Odd saw it then as the flash of light glinted readily from her fangs betraying her true nature. This girl, so similar to Ink in her black and white appearance was a vampire.
Staring open mouthed at Ink, Odd realised just what Elsa had meant when she warned her of the dangers of this night.