Stories ] [ Chronicles of Arkham 1 ]

Cheesy Puff in Arkham

This was a very old, and very large house. It had been her uncle August's. Well, great uncle, or something. He was very old, and she had not known him well. The bequest had come at just the right time, when she had just finished school and it was time to start to make a life for herself.

The estate agent had told her it was large. But it was HUGE! She was used to much smaller town houses and apartments. And there was that enormous attic as well, which she was sure had not appeared in the pictures at the agency. The agent had said something about "gambrel roof" and that such rooves were typical in Arkham. She had never been to Arkham, nor heard of it, but was game. Hey, a whole huge house to herself!

But she hadn't known, nor cared, what a gambrel roof was. A roof was a roof, surely! That small attic window - creepy. Add to the to-do list. She sighed. The to-do list, for when she had some money. The house, wonderful and huge though it was, had not come with any money at all and she had barely been able to pay her moving expenses. She hoped it would not need much work. But it was large - at least she could take in lodgers.

She explored. Spacious and very pleasant living accommodation, as Estate Agent had said; it would take little work, though it could use some modernisation. It felt as if she had just stepped back in time about fifty years. A record player? Wow. Thought those were antiques. And it had a cupboard full of LPs with it. No shortage of music then.

On the first floor there was a lovely little girl's bedroom, which she thought would make a great study, a decent bathroom and a very good sized double bedroom for her. On first glance there was no stairway to the attics. She assumed there must be a hidden pull-down ladder somewhere, and decided she would look for it another day. Moving was such hard work, time for her to have a nice sit-down and watch something on that old-fashioned television. Wonder what channels it gets?

A few days later, she went out to look for a job, and found a post as a washer-up at a local restaurant. She hoped the shortish hours would give her time to work on the house.

Later, looking again at the first floor landing. A little cramped. It was so dark. Add more lighting here to the list. So much wood panelling. Cupboards? or a chimney? Some of these old houses had their chimneys right smack bang in the middle of the building, making a kind of old-fashioned central heating! Ahh - some of that panelling was a door, nearly hidden - it led to more stairs!

Leading up to a very large, completely empty room that must take up the whole of the second floor. The second floor that Estate Agent had, oddly, never mentioned. A lodger could have a very pleasant apartment in here.

And more stairs.

When she finally got all the way up to the top, her head span and she felt rather faint. It might have been the smell. It was very dusty and smelled mouldy, and there was something else - something heavy, like resin. But she was more worried about mould. One thing she did know about rooves was that roof leaks and damp could lead rapidly to major, and expensive, structural damage. Estate Agent had recommended a surveyor, but said he was usually very busy and would be expensive.

There was light - it seemed to come from a statue.

And there was a snake statue! Looked like gold, and was very heavy. It looked, in fact, like something out of Tutenkhamun, or the Scorpion King. Big stacks of boxes, and lots of old shelves designed to fit exactly into the roof space. But they were discoloured and rotten . They MIGHT be the source of that funny smell.

A sarcophagus? What? Another - and a stone one as well.

There were some gnomes in and among the old boxes. She rather liked the vampire doll gnome, and took it down to the little girl's bedroom.

She couldn't get to the walls of the attic much, but when she tapped on the chimney wall it sounded odd. She would have to get someone to look at that. But first she needed to clear out some of the junk. She would take some of those sculptures to the Consignment Store and see if she could sell them. Perhaps Great-Uncle August had left her a legacy after all!

She went back downstairs and carefully closed the door to the staircases. She would think about this some more in the morning.

And there was still the back garden, completely buried under weeds. What a strange old house.

She wasn't able to do much for a few days. Busy with starting work and unpacking, and getting to know her new town. But she had a day off on Wednesday, so, still dressed in her practical white clothes, she pulled down all the old, rotten shelves and carted the treasures on them downstairs one by one, bagging them up carefully to take and sell. The three sarcophagi being huge, she was of course unable to move them. The gnomes had disappeared. "Meh, gnomes do that."

There were inscriptions on each of the two golden sarcophagi which stood glaring at one another at either end of the attic. One was labelled Cursed Sarcophagus and the other Blessed Sarcophagus.

Looking inside the Blessed one, she felt drowsy and a strong urge to climb inside. She actually went to sleep in there. Hours later she climbed out, feeling quite refreshed. It was getting dark. She looked again at the chimney wall, and this time found she could open it. A piece of the wall swivelled! A secret room! There was a lamp opposite her - looked like a torch from an old castle - and she lit it with her cigarette lighter and looked around the small space. Bones. BONES!

There was a skeleton facing her. A whole skeleton. She tried to think hard of why a whole Sim skeleton would be hidden in a fake chimney. Maybe Uncle had been a student of medicine. That was the only place she had come across skeletons before.

Shuddering, she stepped back from the skeleton, which seemed to be watching her. Her feet were on something crunchy - she took a deep breath and dared herself to look down. There was a second skeleton lying on the floor in front, right where she was standing. "Oh! Sorry!" she gasped. And a pile of ancient coins at the standing one's feet. Of course, she bent down to get the coins - and her bottom hit the open wall segment and shut it firmly, with a bang.

Cheesy, don't panic! Think!

The hidden door had closed with her inside. She was trapped in this small space with a lot of ancient coins, a dungeon torch, and two skeletons, and the door didn't seem to open from inside.

So she did what we all would do in such circumstances, and got out her mobile phone.

After a long time she heard a police car, and some knocking on the front and back door, way down, far away. She was enclosed in this tiny world with the two skeletons and the little torch-lamp. Please don't go out, she prayed to the lamp.

The knocking and shouting of the police finally went away. They had not been able to get into the house; all the downstairs windows were closed, doors locked. And she was hidden in a secret room in an attic at the top of the house. They didn't hear her shouting, crying, screaming at them. She heard their car pull away.

She called Giovanni Byrd, an acquaintance, who said it was quite inconvenient and he would call her. Not much use there!

So she called everyone else she knew. That included Motoki Mo, Reid Kitten and the guy from the bookshop. Desperate now, come help me please!

They did turn up, along with a strange guy in black, waiting his chances maybe? He didn't hang around, fortunately.

A couple of folk from the local paper had picked up on this too, and Motoki had seen no reason for them not to come.

"I'll try round the back" said Tamara Oglesby, a reporter from the Arkham Advertiser.

Motoki called Cheesy back again. "We can't find a way in. You townies with your high security homes - everything is locked and fastened down. And we can't even reach the windows to break in, cos they're high, on the foundation."

"Listen, Motoki, I remembered, I hid a spare key in one of the gnomes, it's fastened inside her skirt. You can get in that way."

"OK. Oh, er, ONE of the gnomes? How many have you got?"

"I don't know... several I guess. It's the one that looks like a vampire doll."

"Right. A gnome that looks like a - never mind. So where is it? In the garden?"

"I left it in the little girl's bedroom, but they move about, and most of the gnomes were outside last I looked. I think they like to be out of doors."

Motoki took the phone from his ear and looked at it.

"You are stuck in an attic with a skeleton -"

"Two skeletons -"

"- and you are telling me about GNOMES? Moving-about gnomes?"

"Yes, yes. Find the gnome and let me out please..."

"Are you all right?"

"Well, what do you think? I'm locked in a chimneybreast, staring a skeleton in the face, standing on another skeleton - I'm hungry and - well, I need to pee."

Motoki grinned. "We'll hurry!"

In the back garden, there were large piles of rubble below the chimney. And garden gnomes. Including the vampire gnome with a key in her skirt.

Meanwhile Cheesy, gathering her wits, decided to try pushing at the swivel-door again to see if she could force it open.

They found the gnome, and the key, and Motoki let everyone in. There was a stampede up to the attics where they found Cheesy who had just managed to open her door and escaped from her confinement. Typical Sim, she ignored her rescuers and headed straight for the bathroom.

She had the next day off work, so she took herself to the spa for a steam bath treat. Then it was time to try to sell some of the antiquities, and she found she had enough not only to fix up the house but to take herself on holiday.



The world is the fabulous Arkham, by Martine; download it from Martine's blog

The house was probably downloaded or EA, I am afraid I have no idea - I ripped off the roof and put on a gambrel roof and redid the chimneys and other stuff... if it's yours, apologies and please let me know so I can give credit where it's due. It's gorgeous!

Cheesy of course is a SelfSim from The Sims Daily Forum.