Chapter 8.20 – Lullaby

Forensic testing on drugs found in Anna’s apartment, uncover a very real and disturbing fact. Somebody had tried to silence her.
 
The drugs had been purposefully tainted with a toxic combination of chemicals that would have killed her in short order, had Luke not intervened when he did. Luke provides a good description of the jukie he had confronted inside her apartment, and gives investigators the knife left behind from the scuffle. There is little chance it will do any good, however. The military is generally pretty thorough about cleaning up after gaffes like this. The junkie Luke fought is likely already a resident inside some morgue if he’s lucky; a landfill if he’s not.
 
Unfortunately for Anna, surviving only means that her problems will just continue to build. The landlord who owns the building where she rents, evicted her immediately upon hearing about the drugs. And to make matters worse, Fort Gnome has begun an offical investigation into her court-martial. But for now, she rests quietly at the hospital.
 
Over the following days, anxiety generated from recent events begins to build, and Luke quickly finds that unemployment does not suit him well. If Luke’s job was good for anything, it kept his overactive mind busy. Thankfully, the time he spends with Sandi helps to keep him somewhat focused. Oddly enough, for the first time since Luke has know her, Sandi actually seems content.
 
Evidently, she’d had the foresight enough to put away a respectable sum of simoleons during her employment in politics. She purchases a nice plot of property, complete with an art studio, and immediately begins living her dream of writing and illustrating children’s books. She had decided to completely start over after the confrontation in Bridgeport with her father. Fearing what he might still be capable of doing, she hadn’t even bothered to go back to the house to get her stuff.
 
Rekindling their romance has been a frustrating process. Much the same as it was before, their relationship ebbs and flows with Sandi’s mood swings. They had both agreed that rebuilding trust in each other was necessary before making any assumptions about their future together. Of course, this hasn’t stopped them from fully exploring their physical relationship. On one hand, Luke finds it to be (obviously) an immensely enjoyable distraction. But on the other hand, it is hardly a solid foundation on which to build life-long commitment.
 
The remaining hurdle, it seems, is Sandi’s acceptance of Luke’s religious beliefs. That ugly topic had come up again after inviting him to have an early Sunday breakfast with friends visiting from out-of-town. Her mood soured after being reminded that the time conflicted with his church service. And although he had offered to join them afterwards, Luke could sense Sandi’s growing disapproval and impatience. The effort she had exerted in holding her tongue, seemed to conjure some small measure of her father. And in the end, the situation ended up in a shouting match. It leads Luke to wonder if, perhaps, there are some things which simply cannot change.
 
Luke arrives at the chapel earlier than usual. He has often come here in the past to unload his burdens. But it has been quite awhile since he’s sat here alone to just quietly meditate.
 
He sits with his eyes closed in thoughtful reflection, baring his soul for reconciliation. After nearly an hour of this, parishioners begin to file in for Sunday service. Typically, sims are pretty polite about leaving some small comfort zone of space when taking a seat on the pew next to another sim. Luke is uncomfortable enough as it is, with so many people packed into one space for such a long time. But for somebody to come and sit, literally, elbow-to-elbow with him, seems kind of rude.
 
With his eyes still closed, Luke politely shifts slightly away from the encroaching sim. And in the matter of just a few seconds, the sim has come and sat even closer. Luke disguises a heavy sigh, and opens his eyes to politely excuse himself to a less crowded pew. He scrutinizes the the woman sitting next to him. She looks sickly pale, skelatally thin, and appears to have borrowed some clothes from a donation bin. But when he gazes upon beautiful, green eyes and a humorous, sly smile, Luke cannot resist breaking out in a huge grin of his own.
 
Having achieved her desired reaction, Anna begins to move over to give Luke some breathing room. But before she can do so, he places a steady hand on her thigh and pulls her gently closer to him just as the sermon begins.
 
 
After church, Luke and Anna drive to a wooded fishing spot he had recently discovered. They lay together in the soft grass, just like they had done when they were kids, watching the birds and clouds. Their conversation is candid, unedited, and completely without judgement. They casually talk about many things, including Sandi and the junkie Luke had found with Anna inside her apartment. Then Anna’s tone becomes serious.
 
She quietly thanks him for saving her life. Anna calmly shares how, after collapsing at her apartment, she experienced something that can only be described as a near-death episode. Her father stood at death’s door, where she felt a compelling and all-encompassing love unlike anything she thought to be possible. She spontaneously forgave him without question, and without hesitation.
 
It was the most beautiful thing she had ever experienced. And she remembers wanting to stay in that place with him. But he told her that she needed to go back to take on a very difficult, but important responsibility.
 
When she came back, she was hovering above Luke, who was crying and working tirelessly to save her life. That’s when she realized the mess she had made of it. She saw how Luke valued her life more than she did. She’d seen the mountain of drugs and the dozens of nameless men she had known over the years. They sat around, just consuming the drugs, laughing as she lay dying. She had never felt remorse before that moment. And it was at that same moment when her own forgiveness came. It was just like she had done for her father; without question, and without hesitation.
 
After a short time, Luke smiles, clears his throat, then clarifies that he wasn’t crying; only sweating. As they laugh together, Luke stares into Anna’s beautiful green eyes. He nods and states that her story is the most amazing thing he has ever heard. And honestly, he has heard some amazing things.
 
They stroll lazily through the woods surrounding the small fishing spot for a long time. After their encounter with Deirdre and Claire, Luke had promised Anna an explanation. And he makes good on his promise. He tells Anna everything. He describes his unnatural stamina and the ability to go completely without sleep. He details his visions, and every encounter with ghosts since childhood. Then he talks about the the memories he shares from his earliest ancestors, the entity, and the unearthly beings which hunt it.
 
As it becomes dark, Luke takes Anna back to the estate and shows her to the guest room. They stand together silently and expectantly, unwilling to let the day end without some recognition of the connection they’ve made today. But before either of them can think of a way to express their feelings, the entity begins singing its nightly song to Kacey. The chorus has become so pronounced, that Luke can often hear it audibly when the conditions are quiet and still. Anna moves in close and whispers to Luke, asking if he can hear them.
 
Luke nods, and explains that it is the entity. Anna runs her fingers through Luke’s hair, and she holds his face close to hers. Nearly breathless with excitement, she continues whispering, expressing how it sounds like the voices are calling out to someone.
 
Luke silences Anna with a gentle kiss, to which her only response is an alarmed, but approving squeak.
 
The word “love” has been artificially shaped and molded in an attempt to make it to fit into many different situations. A number of these definitions are contrived, and a number of others are contrary. It is to where the meaning has become diluted over time. But there still exists the purest form of love; the love of the Father for His children. 
 
They are not the first sims to reside on this land. And they likewise are not the first to fall in “love” here. But what happens between them tonight cannot be called anything else. Perhaps it is just the timing. Or it could be something else intangible and immeasurable. In any event, an occurrence of both amazing and ordinary proportion has taken place. It is equally as mundane as it is miraculous. A child has been conceived. It is the child of two sims whose biologies combine to form a new and unique sim, with a life breathed into it from something that cannot be fully comprehended; just simply glorified.
 
As lovers and unsuspecting parents, they come to rest after their exertion. They lay alone, and yet together, pondering to themselves whether the thing in which they have just participated was completely real; or whether they had transcended this reality and peeked, if only momentarily, into a place where absolutely nothing else exists but the searing light of perfect love.
 
And as they sleep, they are just barely aware of the voices which have started singing. These voices are different than the others they’ve heard. It is the powerful and awe-inspiring sound of a hundred women, all proclaiming their overwhelming joy. Songs such has hers had once filled the heavens with their grace and beauty. They had been the messengers; harbingers of the covenant; heralds of the way, the truth, and the life.  And until now, she had been the last of her kind remaining. 
 
There are few places scattered throughout reality, where the formless concept of love can manifest itself into a tangible, living being. And it has happened, just now, through some means not completely understood, and entirely indescribable through the inadequate mechanics of written language. Regardless, another transcendent being, like the one whose song reaches across the cosmos, has been introduced into this reality. It has remained hidden away for generations to ensure its survival . And now, it has finally emerged, camouflaged beside its earthly womb-mate; more vulnerable now than ever before.
 
For the moment, he is safe; comforted by the gentle voices that have traveled across the limitless expanse to greet him. And somewhere, within the lazy fog of sleep, the lovers know that hers is not just any ordinary song.
 
It is a lullaby.
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