Published on March 19, 2014
5.2: Sleepless in the City The Wrongway Legacy Generation Five, Part Two: Sleepless in the City
LAST TIME… Maddie travelled through the different neighbourhoods, only to find herself stranded in Strangetown on her way to rendezvous with Lee. Meanwhile, Lee informed Hex he was taking a week off, and Hex decided to tag along – with Lavender in tow. They don’t realise they’re about to met up with Maddie. Maddie met Tank Grunt whilst looking for his younger brother, Ripp, and ended up having to spend some time in Strangetown. Maddie then ended up going on a night out, and introducing Tank to the concept of fun. Tank got in trouble with his father the morning afterwards. If it doesn’t sound familiar, you might want to take a look back!
“So, what’s the verdict?” Maddie asked, quietly. Ripp poked something under the hood, a little confused, and shrugged at Maddie. “You’re going to have to wait for Johnny, I’m sorry,” Ripp straightened up, “I haven’t got a clue.”
“But I need to be in Belladonna by tomorrow,” Maddie said, sadly. Ripp looked up from the engine, and glanced at Maddie, “I don’t think you’ll be going anywhere. We don’t even have taxis in Strangetown.”
Maddie sighed, but put on a brave face, “Thanks, Ripp.” “What are you thanking me for?” Ripp laughed, “I poked the engine a bit and gave up!” “But you tried!” Maddie insisted, grinning.
As Maddie finished thanking Ripp, Tank pulled up in a pick-up truck, before cutting the engine and getting out. Ripp grinned. “Well, the incredible sulk’s here, that’s my cue to leave,” Ripp turned and started walking back into town. He called over his shoulder, “Catch you later, Maddie!” Tank wandered over to Maddie, smirking.
“I take it that Ripp wasn’t able to help you,” Tank said, breezily. Maddie raised an eyebrow. “No need to be passive aggressive,” Maddie told him, smiling sweetly, “He tried his best.” Tank rolled his eyes, “How about I drive you up to Belladonna?” Maddie stared at him, blankly.
“That’s too much,” She told him, eventually, “That’s miles out of your way, and you have a lot of stuff going on here and-” “Maddie,” Tank cut her off, “You don’t really have a choice here. I’m going to get you to Belladonna on time one way or another.” “And why would you do that?” Maddie demanded. “Because life is all about adventures, remember?” Tank grinned, “This is by far the most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done.” “I can believe that,” Maddie laughed.
Tank shook his head, but he was smiling, “You need to get to Belladonna, and I need to live a little. This is perfect.” Maddie studied him for a moment, a smile on her face, “Okay. But promise me you won’t turn into General Jerk on the way.” It was Tank’s turn to smile, “I promise.”
Maddie pulled him into a hug, “This is crazy, but let’s do it!” * * *
Far away from the sunshine of Strangtown, Hex, Lavender and Lee had boarded the second train of the day, and were about an hour away from Belladonna Cove. “Green countryside,” Hex announced, cheerfully, “I’ve missed it. There’s only so much of the desert I can appreciate.” “It is a bit on the dull side,” Lavender admitted. Lee, who had been fairly silent until this point, suddenly spoke up, “Um. I haven’t been entirely honest about why I was going to Belladonna.” Both Hex and Lavender stared at him.
“You see, I was actually on my way to Belladonna to rendezvous with someone…” Lee trailed off. Hex looked at Lee with concern, “Who are you meeting? It’s not Ralph, is it?” “No, no,” Lee shook his head, “It’s just…you thought…”
“What is it?” Hex asked, encouragingly. Lee sighed. “I’m meeting Maddie in Belladonna,” Lee admitted, “She’s not at La Fiesta Tech, like you thought.” Hex sat there, stunned, mouth open.
“See, she wanted something that was just hers, rather than the legacy’s,” Lee explained, quickly, “And so she went away, making me promise not to tell you guys, so that the legacy wouldn’t follow her and-” “Lee, how long has this been going on?” Hex asked, sternly. “Just over a year.” He confessed, in a small voice. Hex exhaled sharply.
“You thought it was good idea to let an heir off on their own, when we have no idea where Ralph and Ariel are,” Hex said, slowly, “You put the entire legacy in danger, so that Maddie could have some crazy adventure.” Lee said nothing, and Hex carried on. “How on earth can you protect this legacy alongside me when you’re going to make decisions like that?”
“This is so irresponsible,” Hex declared, frowning, “I know you haven’t been in this role for long but-” “Hex,” Lavender interrupted, “I’m sure he had good intentions.” She knew her daughter – there was no getting in the way of something Maddie wanted. Lavender considered herself lucky to have such a strong daughter, even if it was turning her prematurely grey. “Maddie could have been up to anything!”
“Like it or not, Hex, she’s not a kid anymore,” Lee said, suddenly, “We can’t control her every move, and the last time I checked, you’re not her father. You don’t get to decide what she does and doesn’t do.” “Oh, and you do?” “No, I supported HER decision,” Lee snapped, “I kept in touch with her, made sure she was okay wherever she was. I didn’t just let her walk out of Mirage and that’s it!”
“This isn’t over,” Hex said, darkly, “But I’m not saying another word about it until we get to Belladonna.” “Fine.” Lee replied, moodily, and sat back in his chair. The rest of the journey to Belladonna passed in silence. * * *
Back in Mirage, Leda had sat her twin down for a serious discussion in her bedroom. They were in the middle of a heated debate. “Leda, you can’t talk like this!” Lance said, exasperated. Leda shook her head lightly. “But it’s true!” She insisted, “We hold no purpose!”
“Leda, we have a purpose, we just need to find what it is,” Lance told her, sternly, “We have an entire life to figure out our purposes!” “Lance, our Dad has been gone for years, and now our Mum has disappeared on a holiday,” Leda said, quietly, “She’s going to miss our birthday! You can’t tell me that we matter to anyone!” “You matter to me, Leda.” Lance replied.
“What good is that going to do?” Leda demanded, “No one cares what happens to us.” Lance sighed, “I’m not going to be able to convince you, am I?”
“The world has a lot in store for us, Leda,” Lance said, cheerfully, “We’ve got an entire lifetime ahead of us!” Leda stared at him for a moment, “I don’t think it matters how much time we have, Lance. We still hold no purpose in the overall scheme of things.” “What does that even mean, Leda?”
“If this is because Mum went on holiday over our birthday, then you have to let it go,” Lance decided, “She needs a little bit of life for herself. So she’s missing our birthday, I guarantee she’ll call!”
“It’s not just that,” Leda sighed, “It’s everything. I’m just fed up of being a shadow, I guess.” The room felt silent as Leda went into deep thought.
Lance was thoughtful, too, but on a different subject to his twin. He was worried about her – there had to be something he could do. * * *
Fiona Wrongway had become a child, and still had not uttered a word. Austin had insisted his daughter went to school with ‘normal children’, and tried everything to make Fiona feel normal. Despite the efforts of her father, Fiona felt different to others. Friends didn’t come as easily for her.
There was one friend, however, that Fiona held very close – Garrett Newson. They were in the same class at school, and he was the first person to try and include her – most people forgot about her, and she couldn’t speak up to get their attention. As a result, Garrett was slowly learning to lip read, and the pair of them couldn’t be happier.
Fiona had been so used to silence, it was comforting to have someone around who wasn’t her parents. “I read about this thing,” Fiona mouthed to Garrett, “Sign language.” He frowned a little, trying to read her lips, “Was that language or sandwich?” Fiona laughed, but no sound escaped from her mouth, “Language.”
“They told us that was for deaf people,” Garrett said, brightly, “In school, remember?” Fiona nodded, and mouthed, “But I can’t talk.” It took Garrett a few seconds to work out what she had tried to say, “I’m learning to read your mouth! It’ll be fine. Learning a new language sounds HARD.” Fiona grinned at him, and nodded in agreement.
The pair of them continued to play in the afternoon sunshine, with Garrett’s voice filling the air. Fiona smiled and mouthed where appropriate. It wasn’t the same as a normal friendship, but for now, it would do. * * *
Tank and Maddie were halfway through their journey, in a tiny little truck stop. It turned out that Tank had never had a greasy roadside hamburger, and Maddie had decided to educate him. “You look a little uncomfortable,” She noted, smiling. He fidgeted a little. “I’m just wondering if I’m doing the right thing.” He told her, a look of worry crossing his face.
“It’s a bit to late to go back now, Tank,” Maddie said, “We’re almost there.” “I know…I guess it’s just because I’ve never done anything like this before.” Maddie raised an eyebrow, “What did you do as a teenager?” “I got in a lot of fights,” Tank admitted, sheepishly, “With Johnny, the guy who Ripp wanted to fix your car.” “Why?” Maddie asked, curiously.
Tank hesitated, “He was an alien.” “That’s it?” Maddie replied, wide-eyed. She tried to smile, “You beat up a guy because of the colour of his skin? Isn’t that a little-” “I know.” Tank interrupted, “But you weren’t raised in Strangetown. Either you’re with the aliens, or you’re against them. My father was dead against them, and after my mother left, we were raised to hate them, too.” “Your father sounds charming.” Maddie commented, “So now what? Do you still hate aliens?”
“I’m trying not to,” Tank told her, with a smile, “It’s a lifetime of beliefs trying to be turned around.” “Not easy,” Maddie nodded, “Well. I suppose I can’t judge your upbringing. We were raised in two different places.” “What was your childhood like?” He asked, suddenly. “No time for that now,” Maddie said, quickly, “Let’s get back on the road.” * * *
In Belladonna Cove, Lavender and Hex had checked into their room, and Lee into his. Away from Lee for a moment, and in the privacy of their room, Hex could finally let his emotions surface. “What a beautiful view.” He said, sulkily. Lavender watched him. “You’re not going to be like this all week, are you?”
“What do you expect from me?!” Hex demanded, refusing to turn round and look at her, “Lee made a foolish decision!” “He was trying, Hex,” Lavender said, sadly, “He’s trying to do right by you, but also by the people he’s protecting.” Hex’s features softened, and he sat on the bed.
“We have no idea where Maddie is,” Hex stated, quietly, “Anything could be happening to her.” Lavender sighed heavily, and shifted onto Hex’s side of the bed.
“I know you’re the guardian of the legacy, but Lee has a point,” Lavender said, calmly, “You’re not Maddie’s father, and even if you were, you’d have to learn to let her go.” Hex cast a look at Lavender, but said nothing. “She’s all grown up,” Lavender continued, smiling to herself, “She needs room to make her own mistakes, to work out who she is. We can’t control her, Hex. We can’t control anyone.”
“It’s hard,” Lavender admitted, “Of course it is, she’s my baby. But it has to happen. I left my parents to move in with Mark, afterall. Look how that worked out.” Again, Hex said nothing. “Our focus should be on preparing Lance and Leda for adulthood, not worrying about Maddie all the time.” Lavender stated. And for the first time since Maddie left, Lavender realised she hadn’t been the best mother towards her twins – she’d been too concerned over Maddie.
“I know you’re right,” Hex said, finally, “But it’s something else. If Lee knew about this…well, what else could he be hiding?” Lavender shook her head, “You can’t think like that.”
“I don’t know what to expect from him, now.” Hex admitted, quietly. Lavender got up from the bed, and began folding clothes into drawers, leaving Hex to think quietly to himself. What more could she say? Hex had made up his mind – Lee was in the wrong. * * *
For the past week, Grace had insisted on everyone sitting down together for a meal every night. She knew she didn’t have long left, and with the twins being so independent, it was the only time she got to be with them. Only it didn’t always go quite as planned. “You two are quiet tonight. Is everything okay?” Lance looked up from his plate, “Leda’s gone crazy.” Leda scowled at him.
Turning to her grandmother, Leda fixed a smile on her face, “Everything’s fine, Grandma, I’ve just realised I have no purpose.” “Leda?” Grace said, startled. “All anyone cares about is Maddie. Dad even wrote a song for her,” Leda paused for a moment, “I’m forgettable.” “Oh, Leda,” Grace murmured, sadly.
“I tried to tell her, Grandma,” Lance said, taking a break from his dinner, “But she won’t listen. Nothing can make her feel worthwhile.” “Because I’m not.” Leda insisted. Lance sighed again, and stuffed another forkful of salad into his mouth.
“Leda, you are important. You’re worthwhile to me, and your Grandpa, to Lance and Maddie, and your Mum!” Grace explained, “Just because the legacy is going to Maddie does not destroy your worth. And if something should happen to Maddie, you and Lance would inherit the legacy. “You’ll find your own path in life, and it’ll be much better than anything you’ve imagined so far. I know it’s hard, but you need to be patient.”
Leda ate in silence for a few moments after Grace’s speech. Lance grinned. “See, we have a purpose! We have a whole lifetime to work out what we’re supposed to be!” Lance was pleased, and was content with the speech Grace had offered. Leda, however, not so much.
“Mum will only notice us if Maddie dies.” Leda said, with a smile. But as she looked back at her food, her smile faded to sadness. Grace shared a glance with Orlando.
“I think we may have a problem on our hands.” Orlando whispered to his wife. Grace shook her head. “I don’t think we’ve got enough time on our hands to be any use in these problems.” She admitted, sadly. * * *
The sun had just fallen below the horizon as Maddie and Tank checked into their hotel, and began searching the maze of corridors for their room. “I swear! I’ve never seen anything quite like it!” Maddie insisted. “Well even if they do have plantsims, which I doubt,” Tank scoffed, “Why would they want to live in a snowy mountain?” “I don’t know!” Maddie grinned, “But-”
Maddie fell silent as a couple came out from round the corner, chatting between themselves. She knew instantly it was Lavender and Hex, and her stomach tied itself into knots. Tank noticed her silence, and looked at her, an eyebrow raised.
“Maddie?” He asked, quietly. She had frozen to the spot, “What’s going on?” Maddie didn’t answer, but took two steps back, heading closer to the door. Tank took a step towards her. “What’s wrong?”
“Errr,” Maddie murmured, “Go to the room, I’ll meet you there as soon as I can.” “Maddie?” “I’ll see you in a minute!”
Maddie turned around and ran for the door to reception, while Tank watched her go, confused. “Maddie!” He called, but she didn’t turn back.
“What on earth is going on?” * * *
Back in Mirage, Orlando was spending the evening with his wife. Both of them knew that time was running out, and the chance to spend a moment together was much appreciated. “You know I love you, don’t you?” Orlando said, with a smile. Grace grinned back. “You really think tonight’s the night, don’t you?” She replied, sadly.
“I think so,” Orlando told her, “I’d rather not think about it.” “I know,” Grace smiled, “”I love you, too, by the way.” Orlando nodded, “I’m so glad we’ve been able to spend our lives together, Grace.”
* * *
* * *
Because the friendship that you gave Has taught me to be brave No matter where I go I`ll never find a better prize Though you're miles and miles away I see you every day I don't have to try I just close my eyes, I close my eyes We'll always be together However far it seems We'll always be together Together in Electric Dreams
In Belladonna, Maddie finally put in an appearance at the hotel room she and Tank were sharing. “Sorry about that,” Maddie said as she entered, “Did you get settled in here while I was gone? I also saw a pretty good restaurant across the street-” “Are we not going to talk about what just happened?” Tank asked, in a level tone. Maddie looked at him, confused, and he continued, “You ran off. I want to know why.” Maddie sighed, and sat down on the couch.
“I haven’t been home for a long time, Tank,” Maddie told him, eventually, “And that’s my mother we saw in the corridor. She thinks I’m at uni…not in Belladonna. What is she doing here?” “You’re hiding from your mother? Why?” Maddie bit her lip, “My family’s complicated…” “So’s mine,” Tank responded, “I was raised by a general, full of prejudices, with no mother around, in the middle of nowhere. Every family is screwed up, Maddie.”
“I’m about to inherit a legacy,” Maddie explained, “My mother’s great-great grandfather decided to begin a family and keep it strong for ten generations, while he brother decided to fight against that. He wants his own legacy or something.” “Right.” Tank raised an eyebrow. “I’m fifth in line,” Maddie said, “I didn’t get a choice whether or not I became heir, it was just decided. I don’t want to inherit some stale desire of a long-dead man. I wanted something for myself…so I left.”
“You didn’t tell your parents where you were going?” Tank questioned, eventually, after considering what Maddie had told him. Maddie shook her head, “Mum had other stuff going on. Her sister aunt had just passed away, Dad had left…it wasn’t a good time. No one would listen to me anyway. Being heir is not a choice anymore, apparently.” “So you left because you didn’t want to inherit this legacy stuff?” Tank repeated, “I’m about to inherit the household, the pressures of being the son of a general, and the Strangetown Cadets. I don’t want any of that.” “That’s not the only reason I don’t want the legacy,” Maddie replied, “I just don’t think I’d be very good at it.”
“You don’t know that, Maddie,” Tank said, softly. “How would you know whether or not you can do it without trying?” Maddie fidgeted, “I’m not sure I want to try.” Tank smiled a little, “It looks like we’re very similar people, Maddie.” “Both screwed up by things we don’t want,” Maddie sighed, “I don’t think I can outrun the legacy forever.”
“You may not be able to outrun it, Maddie,” Tank said, thoughtfully, “But you can engage with it in the way you want to. You don’t have to be like your parents.” “Says the guy who hates aliens because his father told him to.” “Hey! I’m trying to move past it!” “I know,” Maddie smiled, “We will end up a little bit like our parents, though. Everyone does.”
Maddie looked a little sad, and Tank reached out to her, “We’re a little bit like our parents, sure. But we’re never going to be 100% like them.” When Maddie said nothing, Tank continued. “You’ll be fine, Maddie. With your family, your legacy, it’ll work out.” * * *
Back in her room, Lavender was dialling home. She’d spent the afternoon reflecting, thinking about how she and Hex were constantly fussing over Maddie. It can’t have been comfortable for the twins. “Leda? Hello!”
“Oh, hey. How’s Belladonna?” “Well, we haven’t had a proper look around yet, but so far it seems rather pretty!” “That’s great. You missed Grandma and Grandpa dying tonight.” “Oh.” Lavender sounded genuinely upset, “Hopefully things are comfortable for them on the other side…I wish I could have been there…”
“But you weren’t, were you?” Leda replied, “No one was, but me and Lance.” “There’s no need to be like that,” Lavender said, a little shocked by her daughter’s attitude, “We’ll be home at the end of the week, and we’ll hold the wake then,” “So your parents dying isn’t enough to bring you home?” “Leda, please.”
“What’s so important about staying in Belladonna, Mum? You can come home, hold a wake, and then go on holiday. It’s important.” “So is this, Leda. Maddie’s here.” “Really? You’re staying away because of your precious MADDIE.”
“Leda, honey, it’s because I haven’t seen Maddie for a year or so. That’s the only reason I need to be here.” “It’s always about Maddie, Mum. Me and Lance don’t matter.” “Of course you do! You both do!”
“Of course. Keep telling yourself that, Mum. Maybe it’ll help you sleep tonight.” “Leda-” “Bye, Mum!
“Leda!” Lavender called down the phone, but the line had already gone dead. With a sigh, Lavender took the phone away from her ear, and began punching Lance’s number in. “Hi sweetie. Is everything okay?” * * *
After the disastrous phone call from her mother, Leda slipped out to get some air, carefully so that Lance wouldn’t notice and try to tag along. As she reached the gardens, Leda heard some voices.
Peering round the wall, Leda spotted two people. They weren’t instantly recognisable, and Leda frowned – everyone knew everyone in Mirage. Which meant they could only be two people… “Shh, Ariel…there’s someone standing over there.” Leda took a deep breath and stepped towards them.
“Isn’t that one of those Wrongway girls?” Ralph asked. Ariel didn’t respond. “What do you want, kid?” Ariel questioned. Leda smiled. “I have something you want.” Leda told her. “Oh yeah? And what’s that?”
“I know where the heir is.” * * *
That’s it for this time! See you again soon!
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