Chapter 13: The Bells Are Ringing

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Even in Don’s dreams, he wondered if he’d done the right thing when Al had called up asking if he could move in. Yes, he had, Don consoled himself. From a distance he had watched little Al grow into a child. When Al turned into a teen, he called Don, remembering somehow that Don was the one who had cared for him in his early years. Don couldn’t turn Al’s request down and invited him over. The neighborhood wasn’t the best, but Al could live in the trailer. He worked doing construction and also worked hard at high school and would be a good tenant, he promised. He couldn’t let Katrina and Nancy scare him forever.

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Don opened his eyes. His head pounded and his mouth was as dry as the desert sands. He attempted to sit up but couldn’t. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t speak. All he could do was move his eyes and listen. A soft humming sound filled his ears. Slowly, Don’s headache and the dryness of his mouth dissolved. There was no other way for Don to describe it. His head no longer hurt and his thirst was gone.“Well, hello.” Don looked up at the face hovering over his. He tried to focus but couldn’t. “You were asleep an awfully long time.” Don tried to speak. “Don’t. It’s okay. You’ve been out for a while, and it’s going to take some time to recover.” Don closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep.

He felt very tired. Don opened his eyes again. Was he in his trailer? His new apartment? He felt confused and tried to sit up. Unable to raise himself, he fell back and let his head rest on the pillow. His eyes felt heavy, and Don fell into a deep sleep once more. It was day of his wedding, sunny and bright. Don had expected he would be nervous, but he felt calm and happy.

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Don was in the new apartment at Future Sims Living. Warm sunshine streamed through the windows. He turned and saw Cassandra.

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“What do you think of the place?” Cassandra asked.“I think it’s amazing. I can’t believe the rent, it’s unbelievably low for all this?” Don looked around. All the furnishings were top notch. They had their own apartment, very small, that was true. But there was a gym, a bowling lane, pool, communal dining room — everything they could want. Don felt very happy. Cassandra spontaneously hugged him.

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“This is perfect,” he said. “We will move in next week.” Don kissed her. “After the wedding.”“I like the sound of that,” Cassandra smiled. She kissed him. “I like it very much.” Cassandra whispered in Don’s ear. “Let’s try it out.” How was Don to refuse such an offer?

Don’s dreams floated back to his wedding day. Locking the door of the trailer for the last time, Don headed to the depot. The place belonged to Al Caliente now, and Don felt good about that. He knew Cassandra was probably at Myshuno Meadows waiting, and he smiled as he imagined how beautiful she must look. Don had never felt more impatient to get somewhere before. His friends would be there to witness him expressing his love to Cassandra. Life had never been better before.

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“Try calling him again,” Candy urged Johnny. The guests were getting restless, and Johnny was getting really worried.

“He texted Cassandra that he was on his way. Maybe the train was delayed,” Candy was trying to find some logical reason for Don’s not being there.

Johnny called again. He looked at his phone. “What’s wrong?” Cassandra had walked over to them.

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“There was no ringing, nothing.” Johnny said. Cassandra took the phone and called. Nothing.“Let me try,” Ned pulled out his phone. His face went white. “The number does not work. It’s as if Don–”The pianist continued playing a variety music and the guest chatted until the sun set and still there was no sign of Don. Many of the guests began to leave.

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“What in the world is going on?” Mortimer’s face was angry. “We have all these people here, and where is your groom?” he demanded. Cassandra stammered.

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“I-I- don’t know, Dad.” She began to cry. “He’s just gone.”

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Geoffrey Landgraab approached and pulled Mortimer aside. “I’m sorry to add more bad news, but have you seen your wife? I was talking to her a few minutes ago and she seems to have vanished.”“Dad,” Cassandra’s brother looked worried, “Dad, what’s going on?” Mortimer did not have an answer.

“Excuse me, Cassandra,” Ned interrupted, “we are going to need to leave soon. I don’t think Myshuno Meadows is a safe place to be after dark. Why don’t you invite your parents and brother to stay with you at FutureSim Living Residences.” Ned had received word from the Director about a group of stalkers approaching Myshuno Meadows, but he didn’t want to alarm the guests. “I’m sending Al Caliente to stay with a family in the Spice District. From now on, the trailer is off limits. To anyone.”

“Do you have word about Don?” Cassandra asked.

“Not here,” Ned answered. “Let’s get everyone safely in out of here, and then we can talk.”

Don heard bells ringing ever so faintly. In his clouded dream-reality, Don realized it was TAD. He tried to wake up enough to answer but could not even move. He was just so tired.

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