Author’s Note: This is the first chapter of my new installment: The Secret Identity of Jessica Rossum (or SIJR). I’ve always wanted to do a story in Strangetown and thanks to the talented AaronRogers8I3, there’s a version of Strangetown for Sims 3. I will recreate some characters from the Sims 2, both PSP and Nintendo. Enjoy!
Warning: This chapter contains content that may be inappropriate for younger readers. The chapter contains sexual content, neglect, and abuse. Pictures below are placed so as not to reveal objectionable body parts, but body outlines are shown. If you are sensitive to such topics, I wanted you to be aware.
My name is Jessica Rossum and this is my story. Well, actually, my name isn’t really Jessica Rossum, but we have a whole story to figure that out. For now, you can just call me Jess.
I grew up in a strange town called Strangetown. Haha! You say! I made a pun. This is the extent of my humor. Get used to it. Strangetown is a little town north of the border, although it’s just barely north so it could just be in Mexsimco. I don’t think most Sim Nationals would care if we were in Mexsimco. They don’t really like us Strangetown folk. Half of us are supernatural and the other half are mad scientists. The scientists go on experimenting in underground labs and abandoned factories. The supernaturals fight to fit in and hide from public eyes, if possible. We all just keep our heads down and stay in our own lanes.
When my father found me, I was swaddled in a bright red dress with a key dangling around my neck. Actually, he’s not really my father, but I call him that out of propriety. He did raise me after all. It’s the right thing to do.
It was a sweltering summer day. What summer day isn’t hot in Strangetown? I somehow found myself asleep on the front porch of a hollowed-out re-purposed warehouse-turned home with steel sheet walls and caution-zoned doors rescued from some dumpster. There were two ironies of the security system – 1) parts of the upper levels of the warehouse were open-air so literally anyone with some rope or serious ninja skills could break in, and 2) who’d want to steal from the mad scientist and his kindly “slightly off-kilter” wife with no real history before Isaac?
His wife always wanted a child, but could never have any of her own. She begged her husband to keep me instead of sending me to the awful Home for the Abandoned Children. Like any normal baby, I fussed and screeched while they weighed the pros and cons of adopting a stranger on their porch.
Father didn’t have a car in those days. It really was a disadvantage given the extreme over-100s temperatures most days, but even so he dressed up in his best grey vest, button-down white shirt, and gray suit pants and carried me to City Hall. I think the mayor and the judge had bigger things to worry about than where I came from. The attorney rushed them through the paperwork.
And just like that. No questions asked. I was now a Rossum. My “finding” wasn’t big news in Strangetown. Stranger things happen here all the time. Ask anyone in town about the odd events that go on around here.
Aliens are commonplace. Some come to conquer Simterra. They are defeated or sent back to space pretty quickly. Others come to find a new life. Strangetown folk don’t know the difference and so all resident aliens are pretty much shunned in town, with few exceptions.
I avoided the aliens too. Father said it was best to keep our distance. Maintain status quo, he said. I just didn’t like their hollowed-out eyes, staring at me like two dark stars in the forgotten edges of space.
The townspeople whisper among themselves of a crashed spaceship just outside of town. Somewhere deep in the desert, they say. I haven’t been brave enough to look for it yet. Anyone who has ever tried to brave the blistering desert sands has never returned. Abductions, they whisper. Murderers. I cover my head with my fuzzy blanket and try to sleep.
Explosions in our home are a normal occurrence. Strangetown is full of mad scientists, my father included. His specialty is robotics. We have a multitude of strange devices in our home – like a robotic kitty-litter scooper. We don’t have a cat. Or the multi-purpose toaster that browns our bread, incinerates pop tarts, and can recite summaries of the Simspearean tragedies. Just the tragedies, mind you, not Simspeare’s comedies. I much prefer the comedies.
Mother always reacts oddly when Father nearly incinerates himself. Somehow smoke and ash is a turn-on for her. Did I really just admit that? I really don’t want to think about it. I have caught them on more than one occasion doing this after a recent scientific failure…
I think she’s strange, but father says we’re all strange. When he tells her he’s taking her to the bedroom to make “necessary adjustments,” I just roll my eyes. I’m not a little kid anymore.
When he’s not tinkering or experimenting or “pushing mother’s buttons,” Dad tells me stories of the supernaturals. He wants me to be prepared in case anyone ever asks me questions.
There’s talk of vampires…
…and perhaps even ghosts.
There was even rumors of a mummy living in the Ziggurat, but no one had ever really seen him.
After hearing of aliens, an abandoned baby is probably not all that impressive.
Strangetown is a government experiment, a place to classify and put all sups… that is supernaturals. Every year, a census is taken and supernaturals line up outside City Hall to get registered. Not everyone comes. If a supernatural keeps his/her identity secret and is found out, I’ve heard the consequences are bad. Of course, there are supernaturals in other parts of the country and around the world, I suppose.
Natural-born Sims are afraid of supernaturals. If they’re all in one place, then they can be controlled. Or so the government thinks. I hear they live in other towns, but in smaller numbers, and are limited to certain communities. When I asked father how the supernaturals came to be, he always pulls out the same book… one without pictures… and reads to me. The words jump off the pages and I find myself reading ahead to the end of the line, but then I catch myself, lean back and close my eyes. It is much nicer to hear the words in father’s lovely baritone.
Father tells me about a dark and mysterious place, known only to Sims as Planet X. When I got older, I figured out Planet X was really Xenosa, or that’s at least what we call it on Simterra. Aliens came from this planet to Simterra to create monsters or make us slaves or something like that. Every time father tells the story it’s a little different. He tells me of the experiments that ended badly, creating an accidental third race – supernaturals. He always concludes by making me swear never to tell anyone where I’ve come from… like I know. I was a babe when I was abandoned.
Strangetown is a place for misanthropes and misfits, for cultists and transients, for protesters and peacemakers, former criminals looking for a new life, and new criminals looking to test out their skills. Really anything you can imagine… we’ve got it here.
It doesn’t matter what dark secrets you’re hiding. We have a habit of overlooking things.
The local police don’t look too hard.
My parents’ home was rather unorthodox – like I said a repurposed factory warehouse. Mother said something about sugar beets, and I figured that is why there’s such a horrible scent permeating from the walls. Much of the floors above us were destroyed in a fire, many of the walls and doors and window sills missing.
As a child, I often played in the abandoned furniture and climbed up the exposed wooden beams, swinging around with ropes I found in the junk piles below. The dust spirals across the floorboards, creating an almost mystical feeling, if I squint my eyes hard enough.
I liked to sit on the copper tin roof, especially when it storms. I can look out across the land, bathed in the greyish light. The sands are shrouded in lovely fog, hiding the flaws in the mists. I feel the heavens wrapping me in sheets of rain. I raise my hands upward. I feel whole.
Sometimes I’d climb on the roof even when it wasn’t raining. I’d look up at the moon. Sometimes the moon would enter the skies before the sun has fully faded behind the hills. I felt okay with this. The selfish solar entity needed to share its space with the stars and the moon more. I feel one with the night. The sun does not burn my flesh when it is night. I feel transparent, as if the stars know all my secrets.
Mother would faint anytime she knew I was on the roof, and my father would sternly lecture me. I’d be sent to bed without supper as punishment, but if I waited long enough, I could sneak out and microwave some leftovers. Father usually had fallen asleep with the latest technical manual, and Mother’s eyes were plastered to our tiny television set, watching cartoons. What else?
The food tasted like plastic – the corn kernels hard as little pebbles, the green beans fuzzy like strands of yarn, and the pasta noodles like rubber bands. The only way to remedy the foul taste was loads of spaghetti sauce and margarine. But it was sustenance.
My mother hated cooking. In fact, I don’t ever remember her making anything save jelly toast. Whenever I’d ask her what was for breakfast, she’d say bread and strawberry jam. I’d ask her about lunch and she’d say bread and cherry jam. I didn’t bother asking about dinner. I already knew it was bread and raspberry jam. Open up our refrigerator or our pantry cupboards and you would find rows and rows of neatly stacked jelly jars. Since my father was a busy man between work and experiments, we ate lots microwave meals. An occasional microwave meal was better than jelly toast.
Sometimes I’d save my allowance and go to the service station. Mambo would let me eat right there in the store on the little bench by the door. I’d swing my legs over the side and sigh pleasantly with each bite of oozing hot cheesy hot dogs, with every crunch of potato chip, and with every sip of my blue-raspberry slushie.
Mother would sit around a watch children’s cartoons regardless of the time of day. When I was little, I’d watch with her. It was fun to swing our heads back and forth and sway to the music. As an older teen, I wondered why. When I’d ask her, she’d clap her hands together, a marvelously idiotic grin plastered across her face, and say it was all magical. I’d grimace. What’s so magical about an over-sized adult in a bunny costume leading unsuspecting children around the garden singing inane tunes? I could guarantee the television to be on when I arrived home from school. High-pitched sing-song would greet my ears.
I’d always hide in my room and do homework.
Father kept all my childhood toys. Mother would dress in workout attire and sit on the floor and play with these toys for hours. She would making ‘zooming’ and ‘swooshing’ noises and delightful little girlish giggles. I hated it. I never had friends over, but then again, I didn’t really have friends. Even if I did, I wouldn’t invite them over for fear that my mother would be in one of her kiddie episodes, playing with my old toys or watching her silly cartoons or just overall prancing around the house like a doll. That’s what she reminded me of – an overgrown lifelike doll – with her cherub cheeks and perfectly applied rosy rouge, her foolproof fire engine red lipstick, her always well-manicured nails, and lovely figure that never seemed to morph, even if she ate one too many starchy meals, and her superb blonde curls, not a hair out of place. I suppose I’m one to talk. I’m not exactly normal either.
From early childhood, I knew I was different. My skin was way too pale, much lighter than my adoptive parents. My skin seemed to have a greenish hue. My parents would take me to a special place for treatments. Father said it was to remove the green from my skin so that I would be more Sim-like. I’d watch the green eep out of my skin and wish for it to come back. As much as I didn’t like the taunting and teasing, I rather liked the unusual color. I didn’t understand why it wasn’t normal or accepted. They kept a fire hydrant close by in case the machine spontaneously combusted. I’d cry when the pain would start, but they were silent tears that flooded my cheeks. I was too brave to ever make a peep… or too ashamed.
After the treatments I would swim in a special underground pool. Dad said it was all for me and I got to swim because I was a ‘good girl.’ I didn’t understand but I enjoyed swimming immensely. After the tearing and stretching, poking and prodding, the water soothed my recently ‘adjusted’ skin. When father said we had to leave, I’d sigh. He’d bring me my towel and a change of clothes, kiss me on the forehead, and call me his good girl. If I was such a good girl, why couldn’t I be in my own skin?
I was a good girl. I went to bed when asked. I brushed my teeth. I combed my hair. I picked up my toys and clothes. I did my homework. I said ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ I always kissed my parents goodnight. I didn’t complain when the roof leaked and a fat raindrop would hit my nose, jostling me from sleep. I didn’t complain when I had to do everyone’s laundry or scrub the kitchen counters because mother didn’t clean. I didn’t complain when I had to entertain myself for hours on end because Father was working and Mother was… er… busy… and I had no friends to play with. Mostly, I’d read or ride my bicycle around town or do extra credit work.
Once in the third grade, I had to spend several months completing my studies from home. I didn’t mind. No one would stare at me, laugh at me when I got up to speak, or throw spitballs into my hair. I could concentrate on my numbers and letters better.
My only friend was my teddy bear, Mr. Wugglesworth. He stared too, but his eyes were kind. He didn’t judge my greenish skin or my odd parents. He didn’t complain about the raindrops or the plastic-y microwave meals. He didn’t complain when I had to complete my school readings and I couldn’t play with him. He still gave me the best unconditional hugs.
Sometimes when my parents weren’t looking, I’d dress him up like all the supernaturals I had seen. My favorite costume for him was the vampire – the white mask and gloves made me feel better because I wasn’t the only one not in my own skin.
I remember the colds and flu bugs. Father said my immune system was weaker than most Sims and this is why I was sick frequently. I suffered from abnormal fatigue and found myself napping regularly. I’d fall asleep in class too, but I’d usually try very hard to avoid this. Once I woke up with a horrible haircut because someone thought it would be hilarious. I just shoved on a my bike helmet and dragged my bike home (someone had broken the spokes too).
I also suffered from dehydration. The kids would laugh at me when I’d pass out during Phys.Ed. My teacher would hush them as I downed six bottles of water, but I could still hear their snickers and feel their judging eyes on the back of my head. Sometimes I’d imagine them all growing horns or tails or fairy wings. Then they’d be different like me.
I suppose Wugglesworth wasn’t my only friend. A local boy by the name of Richard Grunt befriended me one day. He helped me up after I passed out one day. He said Richard was a big name for a little boy and so he went by Ripp. He was the first one to call me Jess. Everyone else called me ‘child,’ ‘girl,’ or ‘Miss Jessica.’ I liked it. The name Jess sounded so grownup.
Ripp wanted to be a bodybuilder someday. I shrugged, not seeing how a scrawny kid could be a bodybuilder, but I nonetheless accepted it because I was desperate for a friend.
Ripp stayed my friend through the rest of elementary school, all through middle school, and into high school. He defended me against the bullies. He was nice to me when I’d pass out in class, which happened frequently. He was nice to me when I’d leave behind little piles of vegetation. I’d always claim I’d gotten green grass stuck in my shoes. I don’t know if anybody believed me, but that was the story.
When we were both freshmen in high school, I asked him one day why he was so nice to me. Ripp said he knew what it was like to be bullied. He had an older brother who was fond of giving him swirlies and his father, a strict military type, would bark orders at him like he was a recruit, not a son.
“Everyone needs somebody to treat them nice,” he said. “And you’re the person I pick to be nice to.”
I made up my mind then and there that Ripp would be the love of my life. Oh my naivete!
When I was a sophmore, Dad discovered energy drinks seemed to help my fatigue. I would drink two with every meal and sometimes with a snack in between and this seemed to help eliminate the feelings of exhaustion. It didn’t eliminate the feelings of loneliness as my classmates still didn’t accept me.
I spent many days and nights alone. My solitude gave me an opportunity to discover my passions and interests. Many nights were spent at the library in DeadTree. I drank up every bit of fiction I could from the classics like Exit at Powell to fantasy like The Warlock of Palladia. Sometimes I’d imagine myself far away from Strangetown, in another world actually, where others would love and accept me. “That’s foolishness,” I’d whisper to myself. “You’re not like them.”
When I was sixteen, I found myself getting into trouble. I’d sneak out and drive all over town with Ripp in his beat-up junker. We’d dumpster dive for treasures.
We’d play our music a little too loud, whistle at the streetwalkers, and laugh about inappropriate things.
Sometimes, Ripp would bring his antiquated boom-box and we’d dance in front of City Hall until the police would chase us away.
We’d stand on top of the ridge and talk until the sun rose. Ripp would jabber on about wanting to be a bodybuilder someday in between drags from cigarettes he swiped from his dad. After all, he didn’t want to work at the service station forever. I told him he’d have to quit his nasty habit before he’d get buff. He’d roll his eyes and squash his cigarette beneath the toe of his flip-flop.
When he’d ask me what I wanted to be when I graduated, I would always tell him something different. Sometimes I’d say a scientist like my dad. Sometimes I’d say a bored housewife like my Ma. Some days I’d say an astronaut because I always wanted to see what the far reaches of space looked like. After all, the ancestors of the Sims one day long ago left a planet called Earth and traversed the stars to Simterra.
“Maybe a professional storyteller,” I’d said one day after telling him a particularly sordid tale of two lovers who were ghosts.
“You mean like an author?” he asked.
“Yeah, why not?” I shrugged.
“You’re good with stories,” he gave me an affirmative smile.
“And that Ripp is why I love you…” I gave him a friendly punch in the arm.
He would always blush and awkwardly say ‘I love you‘ back.
I was foolish to think that ‘our love’ would last, if you could call it that, more like a one-sided infatuation (me) and an obligatory fondness (him). I remember seeing him for the first time with Ophelia. I felt like my heart had been crushed to a million pieces. I couldn’t believe he’d pick her over me, but then again, she had beautiful, rich, creamy brown skin, and I was a pale ugly bird of a girl.
Ripp had an older brother. They called him Tank, although he later told me that his given name was Marlin. The former name gave him the persona of a big, tough guy. The only thing I really knew about him is that he beat up his younger brothers. The latter name made him seem to be more down to earth and approachable.
I started talking to him one day at the service station. He was under the car, tweaking a bolt on the back tire of a cloudy grey Vorn P328 . His arms were massive, just as I imagined them to be, but despite the horror stories of bullying I heard, his face was gentle. Like a boy who was not yet a man, but had seen too much hardness. Later I learned the hardness was from his father who felt his oldest son was a no-good screw-up who’d never make it in the military. Both Tank and Ripp regularly bore the brunt of their father’s backhand. Perhaps the tales of their abuse made my heart soften toward the Grunt boys.
“Hey, you’re that scrawny girl who hangs out with Ripp all the time, aren’t you?” he eyed me up and down.
“Who are you calling scrawny?” I retorted, sticking my chin in the air.
“No, not scrawny…” he seemed to change his mind as he rubbed his neck.
The night heat caused sweat to pour down his face. The way he was eyeing me made me suddenly very aware of my curves.
“…but you hang around Ripp, don’t you?” he asked.
“Not anymore,” I replied, matter-of-factly.
He seemed to ponder my statement for a moment before replying. “It’s that Nigmos girl, isn’t it?”
Somehow he understood.
“You can hide out here if you want,” he offered. “Ripp hardly comes into the shop anymore.”
As Ripp started spending more and more time with Ophelia, I found myself hanging out with Tank. We spent many afternoons at the service station. Tank would fix his car and help out Oscar in the garage. I’d bring a magazine or a book and watch him maneuver under the hood of many vehicles. He wasn’t exactly as sweet as his brother, but he had a manly appeal to him.
I learned many things that summer between junior and senior year from replenishing windshield wiper fluid to rotating tires to changing spark plugs. Tank was a patient teacher, even after I sprayed him with oil one time.
This went on for a year. I would spend afternoons helping Oscar in the shop, answering the phones and taking customer information, or I’d help Mambo in the curio shoppe. Irregardless, I’d get to see Tank muscling his way underneath cars, taking the most broken-down pieces of machinery and getting them to purr like happy kittens again.
Sometimes Oscar and Tank would put on Latinsima music and we’d salsa on the garage floor after closing. Mambo said I should become a dancer. She would tease Tank and tell him he could be a dancer too. He’d threaten to throw a wrench at her if she didn’t stop.
When it came time for prom, I knew I wanted to ask Tank, even if he had graduated the year before. He readily accepted and came to pick me up at a quarter past seven like we planned.
When we arrived at prom, we were greeted with loud laughter and obnoxious pointing. I still wasn’t accepted among my peers. Tank saved the day and suggested we duck out of prom. Turns out it was his plan all along.
We drove to La Fiesta, just south of the border. We enjoyed a dinner of tacos and green chile peppers and a delicious dessert called sopapillas. He let me sip his margarita since he was eighteen and I was not yet. He said the drinking age in Mexsimco was lower than in the Nation – sixteen. I didn’t care for the taste, but I accepted his offer to share since he was being so nice. He took me to see a street performance of Latinsima dancers. It was so beautiful. I cried.
We drove back to Strangetown in relative silence. I was moved by Tank’s gesture. He knew how much I enjoyed salsa dancing. When he asked me if he should drop me at home, I told him to drive for a little while. We drove up to the ridge above the Ziggurat and watched the stars together.
I’m not sure how it happened or who initiated. In the end, it didn’t matter. I don’t think we felt love, but perhaps obligation or infatuation or hormones or the low roar of the margaritas in our ears. Whatever it was, we did what any late-teens boy and girl would do. We climbed to the top of the Ziggurat and had sex under the stars.
It wasn’t romantic in any way, since it was our first times and we didn’t know what we were doing. I kept wondering where to place my hands. My fingers felt cold with sweat and looked awkwardly long in the shadows. Tank didn’t seem to have any issue with his hands, fumbling all over my body, feeling up my dress and down my back. I let him grope and grab awkwardly as if he were under the hood of an engine he’d never seen before. I was somewhat pleased with the strange sensations, even if it hurt a little here and there.
We tried different positions before finding one that suited us both. He felt warm and lumpy between my legs. I felt my skin stretch and pull, widening more than I thought possible. Despite the tearing, I didn’t cry out. The night winds blew the still-warm sands into the crevices of our skin, the grittiness biting at my palms and soles, but I didn’t say anything. I pressed hard on Tank’s shoulders to brace myself and keep from crashing into his face. I just kept kissing him because I felt like my mouth had to do something.
When we were finished, he held me in his arms and asked if he had been too rough. For some reason, a tear slipped down my cheek. I couldn’t tell if I was crying because it hurt or crying because I lost something I could never get back. He told me gently it didn’t have to mean anything and we could just go back to being friends. I agreed, even though I knew we could never be just friends. I was different now.
We arrived at his home after the sun was fully up. Tank wanted to get me something he said. I waited outside. Upon hearing strange sounds, I walked around to the back of the house and peered through the window. I was horrified by what I saw.
Tank’s father, towering over him, angrily lecturing him for being out all night with ‘that little freakshow.’ He hit Tank over and over and over again. Ripp’s horror stories about his father’s anger were true. I witnessed them that day. I stood frozen as the blood spilled out of Tank’s nose and mouth. I didn’t know what to do. I was terrified.
Finally, I couldn’t watch anymore. I dropped my heels and ran home. I didn’t care if the sands scorched the bottoms of my feet. I wasn’t going back. I was never going back.
When I got home, I half-expected my parents to lecture me too. After all, I had been out all night and I had sex with a boy. I crept up the stairs quietly, holding my breath and praying that I wouldn’t be grounded for eternity.
When I stepped inside, I hesitantly called out, “Mother? Father?”
No one answered.
I found my parents still asleep in their beds. They would never know who I had been with, or where I was. I felt relieved… but I also felt something else simultaneously… miserable. At least, Tank’s dad, despite his misguided reaction to his son, had still found out… albeit angrily and violently. My parents didn’t care enough to be awake worrying about me, wondering where I had been all night.
I laid down on my bed, the emotions of everything washing over me. I was no longer a little girl. Despite doing what many teenage girls did on prom night, I still didn’t feel like I belonged. I would never belong. I was Jessica Rossum, neither Sim nor alien, not fully supernatural, but not really natural either. I was stuck halfway between a girl and a woman. I am a misfit, a mystery, all alone in the world. And that’s when Death came knocking at my door.
This is my first installment of a new series – The Secret Identity of Jessica Rossum. This story takes place in the same universe and timeline as The
Krazy Crazy Life of Kassiopeia Fullbright. I hope you enjoyed. More to come soon.
- Strangetown is available for Sims 3 via AaronRogers813.
- Isaac and Roberta Rossum were Sims in the Sims 2: Strangetown PSP. I made my own version of them for this story.
- The alien featured is Pollination Tech 9 – Mr. Smith – created by AaronRogers813 (included in the Strangetown download).
- The alien spaceship is actually Serenity from the TV sci-fi show, Firefly. The lot was created by Sarademoor available via Sims 3 Exchange.
- Richard “Ripp” Grunt is a recreation made by AaronRogers813 (included in the Strangetown download) of the Sims 2 character. I’ve modified him.
- Marlin “Tank” Grunt is a recreation made by AaronRogers813 (included in the Strangetown download) of the Sims 2 character. I’ve modified him a little.
- Opehlia Nigmos-Specter is a recreation made by AaronRogers813 (included in the Strangetown download of the Sims 2 character.
- Oscar is my own creation based on Oscar Del Fuego from Sims 2.
- Mambo Loa is also my own creation based on the Strangetown version of Mambo Loa from Sims 2.
- The Silver Rocket Service Station is a basic lot made by AaronRogers813 (included in the Strangetown download) based on the original lot from Sims 2. The inside is seriously modified by me, especially the Curio Store, with the help of grocery items from Around the Sims.
- Buzz Grunt is a recreation made by AaronRogers813 (included in the Strangetown download) of the Sims 2 character.