9.93 Getting Away

Jonathan and Skyla spent the next month traveling. First, they revisited the crisp mountain air of Granite Falls. Happy memories met them in the woods as it was the place where he proposed to her. The next week, they where a little bit closer to home at a spa resort in Newcrest. The final two weeks of their travels were spent in Windenburg. Jonathan overheard a gentleman talking about it at the country club where he hosted his bachelor party. It sounded like just the place he and Skyla could get down with, and he was right. He knew everything would be perfect when he found and booked a beautiful hotel just outside the town’s center. The rooms were luxurious and spacious, and each had a small balcony. Skyla was the most excited to be in an establishment like that, but Jonathan was pretty stoked too.

 Jonathan and Skyla, as excited as they were to finally be on vacation, were very tired from their travels and fell fast asleep shortly after arriving at the hotel. They had a good night full of sweet dreams and rested minds. The next day, they were fit and ready to take on Windenburg. The first item on their agenda was to visit a place where the locals went and try food they never had before. They ended up in a pub around the corner from the hotel, and Jonathan tried the currywurst.

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Willow Creek and Oasis Springs—and even Newcrest—didn’t have pubs, and Jonathan and Skyla liked the concept. They never imagined they could order a drink and food in the same establishment. Also, none of their bars had games. And it was so casual. The environment was perfectly conducive for fun, casual gatherings. It excited Jonathan and Skyla to play games they had never heard of.

Jonathan and Skyla spent quite a bit of time going hither and yon soaking up the culture. There were so many interesting places to go and attractions to see, but their favorite past time became simply sitting and enjoying the views. After all they had been through in the last few months of their lives, they didn’t really need all of the entertainment Windenburg afforded them. They simply needed and wanted to be alone together, and that is exactly how they spent a large portion of their time.

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Nevertheless, the entertainment was there, and they didn’t spend all that money to sit around and breathe in the sea air.  They intended to explore every inch of Windenburg and see every site and everything it had to offer.

There was one constant thing they kept hearing about through the grapevine. Windenburg’s nightlife seemed to be the talk of the town, and Jonathan and Skyla carved out time to experience it. They asked around everywhere they went for the hottest club in all of Windenburg. Everyone said the same thing; Pan Europa Discotheque was the place to be, and that’s where they went. It had been such a long time since they had been dancing. Jonathan almost forgot how good Skyla was and how much she enjoyed it. Immediately, he was transported back to the first time he ever asked her to hang out.

This was definitely the trip of a lifetime, and Jonathan and Skyla had a blast. The decision to finally get away proved to be one of the best decisions they ever made. The break from their troubled life was welcomed and much needed. They loved Windenburg, and this vacation was unforgettable. It was hard to think about leaving, but the time finally came to return home. Although they were reluctant to leave, they felt refreshed, renewed, and optimistic about whatever they would experience in this next chapter of their lives.

Jonathan and Skyla reluctantly got up on their last morning in Windenburg, showered, packed, and trudged all the way to the front desk. The reception worker was there waiting for them as they usually walked past her around that time on the previous days. “Good morning, Pruetts. You do more site see today?” They couldn’t place her accent, but they thought it was cool. There weren’t many foreign Sims in Willow Creek and Oasis Springs.

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“No,” Jonathan said. “We’re actually going back home.”

“Ohhh, too bad. You have good time here?”

“You have no idea,” Skyla said.

“Very good, very good,” the employee said. “You have credit card?”

Jonathan took his card out of his wallet and gave it to her. She swiped it through the card reader and waited for a few seconds for the authorization, but it didn’t go through. “Ehhh, I try again.”

“Is there a problem,” he asked.

She waited for the authorization for the second time and got the same message:  declined. “No good,” she said and handed Jonathan the card back.

“That’s so weird,” he said. “We’ve been using it this whole time without any issues. Give her yours, Sky. Mine is old. You know how the strips get worn sometimes.”

Skyla gave the woman her credit card and it too declined. She looked at Jonathan for an answer, but he didn’t have one.

“You have money or no,” the woman snapped.

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“Of course we have money,” Jonathan replied. He started to say, “Don’t you know who we are,” but the situation was a stern reminder that he was not in Willow Creek anymore. “Is there an ATM around here?”

The woman pointed down the hall, and Jonathan headed in that direction to attempt to check his bank balance. He had zero dollars. “What the plum is going on?!” He couldn’t believe it. He had never seen a number without commas before. It had to have been a mistake, and he tried checking the balance several times. His thoughts became irrational as he began to panic. Maybe I typed in the wrong PIN. Maybe I picked up the wrong card when we left. Maybe the bank thinks my card is stolen from all these foreign transactions. “There is no way this is happening.”

Jonathan stood at the ATM staring at the screen as if the money would materialize by staring at it. The longer he stared, the more that zero taunted him. As much as his mind wanted to skip ahead a few hours and try to figure out what happened with the money, he realized he needed to take care of the initial problem first; the hotel bill needed to be paid. They had a flight to catch and didn’t have the time to sit and figure things out, so he called his sister for help. “Hey… Yeah, we’re still here… No, we’re trying to check out now… I don’t know! Our cards keep declining… I don’t know! Look, can you wire six grand to this hotel so we can leave? I’ll pay you back when we get home and get this sorted. There has to be some mistake… Yeah… I know! Yeah, ok… Thank you. See you soon.”

When he hung up with Juliette, he took a few deep breaths and walked back to the reception area to speak with Skyla. He almost felt sick to his stomach.

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“Hey, Sky… can I talk to you for a second?” He took her aside and explained what he had just seen and what Juliette was going to do for them. She was shocked and figured it had to be some mistake as well. They calmed themselves long enough to go back to the reception and explain to the woman how the arrangement was going to work and waited for the money to arrive. When the transfer was successful, they were free to leave and left Windenburg completely perplexed. The entire flight home, Jonathan was trying to figure out what could have went wrong. He went over the ledger over and over again in his head. How could we have ZERO money? There’s no way we spent that much on the house. I would have noticed before I booked everything. It has to be some sort of bank error! In an instant, one swipe of a tiny, insignificant plastic card changed their lives, and the feelings of relaxation and refreshment were all gone. The plane landed and they rushed home to attempt to figure out how to wake up from this nightmare, but the nightmare had just begun.

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“Why are all the lights out,” Skyla asked.

Jonathan’s head was spinning. What the plum happened?!

“The water is off too!”

It was definitely a nightmare, and they both wished that they could wake up. They were tired, hungry, and in desperate need of showers after a long day of travel, but it didn’t look like they were going to accomplish that at home.

The smell of rotting food slapped their faces as the approached the kitchen. The pungent smell told Jonathan that the electricity had been off for a very long time—perhaps as long as they had been gone.

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He needed answers, and the only person who had them was Tony. Jonathan took his phone out of his back pocket and dialed Tony’s number…

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…but Tony didn’t answer.

9.92 Pain
9.94 The Heart of the Matter

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