It wasn't always easy, being a father. It especially wasn't easy when you were a patriarch to three of the creatures, the breadth of your brood ranging all the way from tiresome; rebellious teens to hellishly troublesome toddlers.
For one thing, this backwater town only housed about twenty people, in total. When your brood makes up 15% of the residents of your town, that's when you knew you had a problem.
And it wasn't like people were exactly clamoring to live here.
Strangetown was one of those places that people tended to only hear about; some outlandish story of alien pregnancy and cantankerous ghosts told by Pleasantview residents over a glass of wine or two at a party; the calming tune of 'Loading Loop#3' blasting out their cheap speakers in the background.
Never mind that all the stories were true. He'd been past the Specter's yard before; seen the luminous, translucent figures floating aimlessly around; undead. He's also pretty certain that Pascal Curious's rotund belly isn't the result of binge-eating too many portions of Goopy Carbonara, either. And God himself only knew what sort of depravity was going on in the Beaker family basement. Pollination Technician#9 himself shuddered at the thought.
Yes, these things were curious, and they drove people away. But Pollination Technician#9 had never minded a little oddity- in fact, such a curious place was a perfect home for him and his family. Or so he'd thought, anyway.
Except for all the downright weird things that had been happening in the last few days.
Take five minutes ago, for example.
One second, he'd been having a perfectly civil conversation with his eldest; Johnny; about TV, money, and mugs of coffee- when out of nowhere, Johnny had decided that he had that second needed to go to bed. He hadn't even turned out the lights; just twirled into his pajamas and slunk into his sister's bed, in broad daylight. He had been a little tired, sure- maybe his energy bar had been around half-filled. But it was as if somebody had just possessed him, forced him into bed and rendered him completely devoid of any notion of just how bizarre this was.
Pollination Technician#9 had stared on in confusion, absently watching for a few seconds before retreating out of the room.
Teenagers, he thinks tiredly, as he walks mindlessly into the hallway. He had little baby Colony Drone#24619 to worry about, anyhow. He can hear her crying, so he wanders over to the room which her crib is in, the one he shares with Jenny.
Something stops him. He stares downwards, his eyebrows knitting together.
A plate…? On the floor?
A dirty, empty plate? Who just finished eating and deciding to put the plate on the floor?
Yet another example of just how thoroughly odd his life was, to date.
He couldn't possibly move past this foreign obstacle to comfort his crying child. He'd just have to pick it up, and wash it downstairs… what a nuisance!
"Jill!" he calls for his younger daughter, who he suspects is watching TV downstairs. "Could you help…?"
He hears her footsteps as she compliantly climbs the stairs and appears at the top of their staircase with a smile and a wave.
"Jill, could you move this plate? I need to get to Colony Drone#24619, I think she needs her bottle."
"Waloo! Floobsinorb, whirma!" his bright-eyed, chirpy blond daughter replies excitedly, reaching down and picking up the obstacle. "Tamsicki fornoona." She adds, with a grin and a nod, immediately afterwards descending the stairs; presumably to wash up the plate in question.
Pollination Technician#9 stares on, nonplussed.
Sometimes, his kids made him feel old. He really just can't get to grips with these young people and their lingo. Although, was it him or was she just downright not speaking English…?
He waves the thought away and reaches into Colony Drone#24619's crib to pluck her out and cradles his daughter in his arms for a few minutes. Despite how strangely his family tended to act, this was always something he could enjoy. He hears her gurgle in happiness as he tosses her up and down in the air a few times; nuzzles his baby daughter and feels his social bar beginning to replenish at the act.
He's interrupted from his reverie by the deafening sound of the stereo blaring from downstairs. He frowns at the noise, and covers Colony Drone#24619's little ears before stomping downstairs to tell Jill- or whoever- to turn down the volume.
He had never liked that stereo. He hadn't even bought it; it had just shown up in his house one day. He hadn't questioned it too much at the time, but was beginning to find it odd how much furniture seemed to just 'poof' into existence whenever he wasn't around.
He reaches the bottom of the stairs and opens the door of the lounge to find his young daughter Jill and his beloved wife, Jenny, doing the Smustle, to some gratingly familiar salsa song.
What has gotten into everybody?
"Please, Jill, turn it down! I'm trying to get Colony Drone#24619 to sleep." He bemoans, but they just keep on dancing, ignoring him. Frustrated, he strides over to the speaker and clicks the music off in indignation. Jenny and Jill look on, blankly. "I'm going to grab her another bottle, from the fridge." He says, to no-one in particular, holding out the child for Jenny to take.
She doesn't do any such thing.
Pollination Technician#9 looks blankly at his unresponsive wife.
Oh, for blast's sake, I don't have time for this.
He places the small child on the floor and walks to the kitchen. He opens the fridge and finds a bottle of milk, but just as he pulls it out- he hears the stereo turn on, again playing that same repetitive salsa song.
Jenny and Jill have resumed their dancing, while Colony Drone#24619 lies on the floor; left alone and gargling contentedly to herself. Pollination Technician#9 can't believe what he's seeing. Once again, he strides over to the speakers and clicks them off.
"Knock it off, you two. It's too loud." He frowns, picking his baby up and cradling her into his arms. "I should sell that stupid thing," he mutters to himself, a little irritable.
Now faced with the prospect of silence, Jill pulls a hardback book out of her back pocket and lowers herself down onto the floor, cross-legged, to do her homework.
"You could just… sit on the couch…" her father starts, but wearily decides not to finish that sentence. He turns to his wife, who continues to watch him with a vacant stare. "Christ, Jenny. Everyone's gone mad."
"Trimsy! Bonakatoo!" she laughs, her eyes crinkling up with amusement. "Frammy bleepzinorb," she addendums, nodding her head as if saying something sage.
"Not this again." He groans. "I swear, half the time you all just speak to me in nonsense language. And the other half, all you want to talk about is toast, tables and drywall!" he complains, keeping his voice down for the baby's sake.
Jenny shrugs. "Limpizopazzle, fockswarks a noofa nizzle." She says, levelling him with her eyes. "Chombo tooksy."
Pollination Technician#9 decides enough is enough. He places his alien child on the floor again, where she happily resides. "Jenny, we need to talk. I'm starting to wonder if maybe something is wrong," he signals to the room around him. "You know I love you." He sighs. "But we got married so quickly, didn't we?" he asks now, sadness creeping into his voice. "It seems like we barely talked for five minutes before I'd proposed to you in the middle of the living room..." he reminisces.
"Booprawazzle, narbo pizazz." Her body language is a little standoffish, and her tone indicates that he's upset her.
"Right, right. Narbo pizazz, sure, whatever." He sighs, scratching his head. "Look, I didn't mean to upset you. I'm sorry, Jenny. I guess it just seems lately, like everyone's being-" he's cut off from whatever he's about to say, because Jill has finished doing her homework and has turned the stereo on, again. "AGH!" he screams, throwing his hands up in the air as Jenny begins to join in the dance, their previous conversation abandoned.
He leaves the two dancing females and the floor-baby and stomps upstairs in a confused rage, passing the still peacefully slumbering Johnny on the way.
He stomps all the way into his bedroom, folding his arms over his chest defensively.
Why did he come up here, again?
He looks around him at the room. It's nicely decorated, if a little sparse. In the middle stands a large four-poster bed with a dark green, patterned sheet. It's the same bed that most of his friends had in their houses, too. He guesses it must be a popular bed, or something.
Not that he remembers buying it, of course.
He stares at it, his mind boggling with the thought.
He doesn't remember buying any of this furniture.
"What on… what on earth?"
He doesn't remember choosing this house, either. He's always just… lived here.
His brain spins. Maybe he's the one going mad, and everyone else is totally normal. That would certainly explain a lot, he thinks. In his panicked confusion, he spies the old bookshelf they have tucked away in the corner of the room and wanders over to it.
There must be something here which will help me.
He crouches down and explores the titles which line the mahogany shelves.
The Crumplebottom Legacy
Bluish Eggs with a side of Pastrami
"What the hell are all these!?" he says to himself as he stares at the weird titles, nonplussed.
Eventually, his eyesight settled on one book in particular. It looks different from the others, and it's called 'Notes from your Creator' The author is listed as 'Will Wright'. Damningly curious, he plucks the novel from the shelf and opens it up on his knee, his eyes searching as if they might find some scrap of truth within the pages.
His expression morphs from nervous to disappointed as he realizes that the book is full of nonsense; gibberish. His thumb rests on one particular string of words, which read boolprop testing cheats enabled; true.
"Boolprop…?" he frowns, squinting at the thing. It almost sounded like the nonsense words his family had been speaking earlier. "Testing cheats enabled…" he continues, almost mouthing the words, trying to understand.
A shiver runs through his body as the words unlock some key part of knowledge in his brain and suddenly, understanding registers. It's like he's been playing a game and suddenly figured out how to turn the tutorial on. He drops the book in surprise and takes a step back.
"Jesus…" his eyes widen as the details and reason of his existence here in Strangetown suddenly and swiftly become clear to him.
He wasn't in control. He wasn't in control of anything. His family weren't, either.
This Will Wright, maybe it was him. Or maybe it was someone else, who knew.
He reels in his newfound knowledge for a few seconds, his heart beating fast. Then, something tells him to pick the book he dropped from the floor and place it back on the bookshelf. He doesn't question the urge, just does it. After all, he didn't want to block someone's pathway later on.
Dazed, he wanders into Jill's room where Johnny still sleeps peacefully in her bed.
Is that why? Is that why Johnny had just gone to bed, out of the blue? Because he'd had no choice?
Pollination Technician#9 shakes his head, in disbelief that it took him so long to figure it all out. He'd been on this earth for thirty whole days, and he hadn't realized.
He fleetingly wonders whether or not he should be worried by this fact, or relieved. If someone was controlling him, then that meant that he could do almost anything and he wouldn't die. The people in charge, they would never want to kill him, not purposely. What kind of sadist would do that to another sentient creature?
That's his reasoning, anyway.
He realizes with a start that the notion of having zero control over his own actions doesn't bother him in the slightest. In fact, for all his previous worries, Pollination Technician#9 has never felt so free.
He walks downstairs in a daze, wondering how he's going to break the news to Jenny, and of course Jill. Was Jill old enough to know? Christ, did they already know?
Did everyone in Strangetown know?
He re-enters his living room with a newfound sense of purpose in the world, only to find his beloved wife and daughter still boogeying to the same old salsa tune that had been playing this entire time. Jenny beams over when she sees him.
"Vichee oopy bongo!" she exclaims mid-shuffle, looking genuinely happy to see her husband of nine long days.
He has no idea what she just said, but in his moment of freedom, he blurts out: "Faloopsinarb, woo fa goo!"
The words suddenly sound natural on his tongue, but he barely has time to rejoice in this fact, as Pollination Technician#9 is too busy wondering what he's going to do with this newfound sense of opportunity and liberation.
He decides to join in the Smustle, for no other reason than because he suddenly has the urge to do so. Yes, the Smustle is what he does, to the slow beats of Cherry ChaCha, as his son Johnny sleeps in broad daylight upstairs; as his wife and daughter cavort alongside him and his infant baby lies placidly on the kitchen floor.
After all, Pollination Technician#9 was powerless to resist the all-consuming jurisdiction of his creator; the player herself.
And dammit, she wanted him to dance.