Chapter 6.8 – Map

A small hotel on the main highway leading into Sim City acts as a staging area for Doc and Gerard as they travel to Sunset Valley.
They find themselves with quite a problem, however. It seems nobody has ever heard of Sunset Valley. After the long flight from France and a gruelling rush-hour commute out of the big city, Doc feels his patience being tested like never before. He showers in his tiny efficiency room, wondering how many more curve-balls are going to be thrown at him. As if in spite, the water goes ice-cold part way through his shower.
Changing into the clean clothes he purchased from a thrift shop in town, he walks across the parking lot to a small diner, where Gerard is waiting for him. He sees the pastor with a map of the area spread out over a corner table. Doc becomes very uncomfortable when noticing they are the only two civilian patrons at the diner. The dozen or so others all appear to be military personnel.
Gerard frowns and points to a spot on the map where Sunset Valley should be. Instead there is only a symbol indicating the presence of a military base and large letters spelling out “FORT GNOME”. Doc blinks in disbelief and shakes his head; it simply is not possible for an entire town to vanish. Both men sit dumbfounded at the table until a waitress comes to take their order.
Forgetting they are no longer in France, Gerard begins to converse with the waitress in his native French. Seeing that she is somewhat annoyed, Doc takes over and does his best to remember the simlish he had learned.
After detailing her life’s story, the waitress eventually provides Doc with some valuable clues. He quickly fills Gerard in with the details. The spot where Sunset Valley ought to be located is a military-controlled area attached to Fort Gnome. According to the waitress, there is a local legend, that nearly two hundred years ago, the land was home to a small settlement of miners who found something valuable. Shortly afterward, the land was forcefully taken over by the military and every one of the settlers was killed. The legend had produced some fantastic tales used to scare young sims into thinking that ghostly miners haunted the densely wooded hillsides.
After eating and enjoying the company of the same waitress, who now seems to show some attraction toward the two foreign men, Doc thanks the woman and packs up the map to leave. The boldness of her offer to visit him in his room later, catches Doc somewhat off guard.
His eyebrow jerks upward and he gives her an apologetic smile, showing off his wedding ring. She frowns and asks about Gerard, who is clueless about what they are saying in simlish. Doc’s eyebrow jerks up again and he chuckles, informing her of his priestly vocation. The waitress walks off, exasperated, but thankful for the generous tip Doc leaves for her.
Doc and Gerard each walk to their own room; tired and no closer to solving the mystery at hand. Doc suggests they go back into the city (after rush hour) and search the public records for clues. Gerard shrugs, still numb and seeming to grow more withdrawn by the minute. Doc apologizes, conceding that he could not know what losing a parish would feel like. He tries to cheer his friend up, and thanks him for helping find his family. Gerard nods and gives a weak smile in response, then disappears behind the door to his motel room. Doc likewise retreats to his own room and falls asleep almost instantly.
The sound of a key tapping on the curtained window wakes him up some time that night. Doc groans and stumbles to the window to find the source of the noise. He sees the waitress smiling sweetly at him through the window, pointing to the door. Doc sighs sleepily opens the door, letting her in. After a brief and very uncomfortable silence, she asks sheepishly again if he wants some company. Still half asleep, Doc shakes his head, thanking her for the flattery. He tells her that his wife is missing, and that he has come from France to look for her in town called Sunset Valley. But he quickly adds that if he were not already committed, he would not think twice about her invitation.
She smiles, blushes, then takes a deep breath. Looking around somewhat nervously, she urges Doc closer. She whispers that there is more fact than fiction in the local legend she spoke about earlier. Her family has lived in a nearby town for ages, and she knows for a fact the mining town was called Sunset Valley before the military closed the area. She did not want to say anything earlier with soldiers present, but there is a tiny little cottage hidden beneath dense overgrowth near the shoreline. She tells him to look for a steep hill that heads to a bluff overlooking the sea. He may find some clues there. After circling the spot on his map, she purposefully leans over and kisses him.
Smiling slyly at his reaction, she gives him one final chance for a “wild night”. Doc gently guides her out of the door and thanks her for the information about the cottage. He watches through the window as she uses the stairs to reach the parking lot, then drives away. He sighs with relief as the tail lights disappear into the distance.
Tired but completely unable to sleep, Doc stares at the spot circled on the map. There is a road that brings him pretty close to the spot. It is about a twenty-minute drive, then another thirty minutes on foot. With his heart racing, doc scribbles a note on the map, gathers a few necessities, then slips the folded map under Gerard’s door. The threat of being stopped inside military property is very real. But he has no other choice.
If he cannot find anything here, then Hope is truly lost.

2 thoughts on “Chapter 6.8 – Map

  1. What a fantastic twist the story has taken! Poor Doc, to have something so wonderful slip through his grasp. I really hope the cottage reveals enough to help him find Hope.


  2. What a twist! Sunset Valley turned into a military base..thats brilliant!
    Just when any sign of hope has been extinguished of finding out the truth, from an unlikely place (waitress) it springs! I cant wait to read about the exploration into that cottage!


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