Monday, 28 December 2015


Skip Taylor and Cade Macklamoor were in the kitchen preparing breakfast when they heard a sharp crack from the cooker, quickly followed by a rush of flames!

As the flames rose higher and the alarm started to wail Skip was panic-stuck, emitting a pathetic sigh he collapsed, fainting to the floor but Cade immediately sprung into action.

The sound of the fire alarm soon brought everyone rushing down into the kitchen.

Not that they could do much to help as there was only the one fire extinguisher on the ground floor!

Thankfully Cade had paid attention to the fire safety presentation during induction week so had the fire under control before it caused too much damage.

Once the fire was out and the firemen had checked everything was safe, the house-mates talked through what had happened.  It soon became clear to them that the house was not as safe and well maintained as it should be

When she looked into the regulations and checked the maintenance records kept by the university estate office Debra was horrified by the inadequacy of the administration's safety procedures.  With so many students living in university "maintained" accommodation Debra felt compelled to start a campaign and petition the administration.

As she campaigned across the campus it seemed that every other student she talked to had a tale of barely averted disaster to tell; there really was a need to get the university to take building maintenance seriously.

Having gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition calling the administration to account and demanding action to dramatically improve the situation, Debra set a date for  a protest rally.

Debra arrived at the campus square early in the afternoon while most of the students were still in class so the protest started slowly ...

but as the morning classes broke up a crowd started to gather and others took up placards to show support for Debra's cause.

Throughout the day the number of people protesting grew to fill the quad.  During the afternoon Debra noticed several of the teaching staff talking with the protesting students and signing their names to the petition.

Word had also spread beyond the campus and late in the afternoon the local TV station turned up to interview Debra and other students and question the Estates Officer about the safety record of the student residences.

Just as the TV crew were packing up the Deputy Registrar came down to the quad to announce that the Estates Officer and the Registrar's office had agreed an immediate investigation of the conditions in all the residences and a review of the maintenance and purchasing policy to meet the demands of the student petition!

-- * --

The end of term was approaching, most of her friends had finished their final exam and, buoyed by the success of the safety campaign, a PARTY was most definitely called for!

In late autumn, with the chill of the oncoming winter in the night air, the house decided that a bonfire party was just the thing. Each house-mate invited a friend or two and Debra asked over a couple of friends from her course; Jeff Dean and Eddy Mullis.

Even though it was not warm outside, Debra was not surprised to see Skip all but naked as they gathered around the fire.

But at least he was wearing trunks today ...

In recent weeks Skip had finally found the courage to come out as a committed naturist and recently it was not at all unusual to see him around the house entirely naked!

The beer and music and the roaring flames really worked to get everyone in a fun and relaxed mood.  When they weren't engaged in deeply philosophical(ish) discussion of the nature of the universe, everyone let their own dancing queen free and shook their booties till they could shake them no more.

In fact the heady mix of beer and music released quite a few inhibitions ... Now, Eddy is not a muscular man but when Debra suggested taking beer direct from the keg he reckoned he was more than capable of holding her aloft as she took a swig or two ...

But Eddy is not a muscular man and she had barely taken her first gulp when he wobbled, his arm buckled, he lost his grip and Debra fell unceremoniously to the ground!

Apart from a grazed forehead Debra was not hurt, just a little dazed by her sudden collapse but Eddy was distraught; afraid that he had hurt his friend. As much as she protested that she was OK, Eddy just wouldn't stop saying "sorry".

As she took a few minutes to recover from her fall, as Eddy fussed around her, Debra noticed that a couple of her house-mates seemed to be spending a lot of time together, and had stopped mingling with the other guests.

She hadn't really got to know Walter, he joined in house events but never gave away much about himself but here he was in very deep and, apparently, quite intimate conversation with Cid.

He may have the appearance of a carefree rebel but, from the first time she met him, Debra knew that Cid was a very generous, relaxed and caring person; if anyone Walter was going to open up to anyone, it would be Cid.

As the party drew to it's natural end Debra tried to ask Cid about Walter but he was saying nothing in particular, just that they had become friends and perhaps she should ask Walter herself if she wanted to know more about him.

What Debra, and indeed the rest of the house, didn't know was that Cid and Walter were indeed a couple and had been, as far as they were concerned, for over three weeks.

That night they had 'that' conversation; that now was perhaps time for them to let other people know that they were in a relationship, if Debra was thinking that they were more than 'friends' there were bound to be others.  For Walter it was a particularly difficult decision, he came from an extremely conservative background and even in the relative freedom of university still found it very difficult not only to accept himself but also allow anyone else to know his true feelings.

Early the following morning, Walter found Debra in the house lounge. Taking a deep breath and clearly struggling to speak, Walter dug deep and found the courage to tell her about his relationship with Cid.

"I can trust you right?  You can't tell anyone else.  Cid is  ... umm, y'know, Cid ... and I ... oh crap ... Cid is ... my boyfriend.  Oh crap."

"That's wonderful," Debra smiled warmly, "Cid is a lovely guy ..."

"Yeah, yeah, he is ... but, I don't know if my folks will think the same ... oh crap."

"Look, they don't need to know till you're ready to tell them, and they may surprise you y'know.  But there's still a few weeks of term left and then you can see how you and Cid feel afterwards before you say anything.  I'm not going to tell anyone and when you decide to, well Cid's a great guy an' I'm sure he'll be there whatever happens."

Walter smiled weakly trying to reflect Debra's positivity "Yeah, yeah, you're right I guess.  But, like, this is really scary, it feels like I'm going to be a different person that no one is going to trust or like ..."

"You're not a different person Walter, you'll just be a better version of you.  All the things about you that people like will still be there but after you tell them they, and you, will be able to be more honest and relaxed about the feelings that really matter to you ..."

"Ha, you sound just like Cid!"

"Good, good, just know that I'm not telling anyone, and if you ever need someone else to talk to or help out, just let me know."

-- * --

Later that morning, Eddy rang Debra to apologise, once again, for dropping her at the party and offered to pay for a session at the local bowling alley.  An offer Debra was most happy to accept.

Although she was only an occasional bowler Debra had discovered that she had a rather good eye and an equally accurate arm and was soon scoring strikes and spares to take a substantial lead over her friend.
Not that it was a competition, of course, but it sure felt good to take out those pins; and Eddy was such good value as his balls rolled into the gutter or he fell flat on face after attempting a particularly determined throw.

Eventually Eddy did get into his groove and started to rack up respectable scoring throws and the final score wasn't entirely embarrassing.

With their results due in just a few days this was an ideal way to end the term, having a laugh with a friend doing something neither took too seriously.

-- * --

And so it came to the end of term, the result papers were issued to each student.

Debra took here envelope back to her room, slowly opening the seal and extracting the slip of university headed paper.  She was reasonably confident of a good grade but quite how good it was would determine her options ... 

There it was, one single line defining her prospects for the next term ... "A"


Her work had paid off, her credits would carry over into the next term and a significant boost to her chances of getting the degree she was working towards.

And that was it, before she knew it, the term was actually over and each of the students were preparing to leave and make their way back home.  Debra knew that when she got back home here family were going to be celebrating here success but she knew that for some of her friends leaving behind the freedom they had found at university could be more difficult.

As she took those last few steps up to the front door of the family home, Debra realised that the things she had learnt, seen, and done at university had changed her.  Not perhaps in huge and obvious ways, but subtly; she was not the same girl who had left Hidden Springs those months ago and it was going to be interesting to see how significant her time away had been ...

-- * --

Author's Note: My apologies for the outrageous delay in getting this chapter of the story published!

I am now experimenting with continuing this story as a "Let's Play" video series on YouTube. I have already uploaded an introduction to this generation's characters and created the first new video chapter which will be uploaded very soon.

This is the first time I've done anything like this so it's all a bit rough at the moment and the quality leaves a lot to be desired but I hope you will take a look and maybe stay with me as I play the ongoing story of the Slade dynasty. :)

Please check out The Adam Slade Video Channel to see how this story continues.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Typical Days

Debra soon settled into the rhythm of University life.

Days would start at some time in the morning with a random breakfast dish, cereal maybe, possibly waffles, or there might be left-over hot-dog!

After a leisurely breakfast, she would try to find some time to review or prepare for the day's classes or assignments before rushing off to the Arts Building.

The week consisted of a mix of lectures and classroom seminars which were surprisingly informative and helpful.  Although Debra's medium was 'street art' and her central focus on social issues she, nonetheless, found that understanding the history of art and exploring the various traditions could inform her own creativity.

Even so, Debra got most excited when they had an outside assignment where the class was encouraged to create a work in their own style about a particular scene around the university.

Outside of the tutor led work there were also individual assignments, some of which Debra found a little uncomfortable - such as creating a stranger portrait.

She didn't feel very confident about just going up to someone and asking them to model.  Thankfully her new friend, Cid, was more than happy to pose for her.

Although generally confident in her work Debra was shy about presenting portraits, especially to the subject.  Cid, though, always said her loved her view of him; that she had a good 'impressionistic' eye.

However, the 'real thing' for Debra was her street art and luckily there were plenty of good places around the university where she could exercise her talents.  She loved those days where she could just head off into town, find a clean, clear, space and create something entirely her own.

At night many students would set off in large groups to party somewhere loud and full of people having a wild time.  That wasn't really Debra's style. She loved spending time with like-minded people, but always in smaller, more intimate, groups.

Perhaps chilling out with friends from her course, with a few drinks and a game of billiards.

Or sometimes putting the world to rights with other activists from one of the several campaigning groups she had joined. 

Of all the people she met, of all those she enjoyed spending time with, there was one that Debra couldn't be with and missed so much; her boyfriend from Hidden Springs, Johnny Christiansen.

They would call every other day, to share all the things that were happening in their lives.

There was, however, one event that Debra had not shared with Johnny ...

She had gone out early one evening and finding a great space at the back of one of the coffee shops started work on another mural.

She had just finished the base sketch when she heard the sound of a police siren stop as a nearby car pulled up sharply and then someone running towards her.

Without looking back she quickly darted round the corner and ducked into the coffee shop. But even before the door behind her had closed she heard a commanding voice, "Miss. Stop right there! Don't make this any worse."

Charged with defacing public property, Debra was handed a mandatory fine, a fine that would take a good chunk out of her student fund.

But after completing all the required paperwork the police officer surprised her. "Look, Ms. Slade, we take vandalism very seriously here, and I hope I'll not have to take you in again.  But the university board does have a street art scheme that supports good artists, so if you have a word with the administration and convince them that you know what you're doing they may give you a licence and possibly even a small grant to paint in certain locations. At least that way you won't get into trouble with us."

She wasn't sure that getting a licence from the university establishment was really the 'activist' thing to do but if it meant being free to create her art without getting expelled, or a criminal record, it was certainly worth thinking about...

Monday, 25 May 2015

Like A New World

Here she was, at last, Debra had arrived at Simstate University.

On a flat plain alongside the Blue Diamond lake Unicity didn't have the rugged, dramatic beauty of Hidden springs but, as she approached the central campus zone, Debra was pleasantly surprised at how pretty the town was.

Arranged around the central square, the classically imposing buildings were clearly designed to impress a sense of expectant success and achievement on the university students.

Just the other side of the campus was Debra's allocated residence, De Anda Hall.  Very simple in comparison to the academic buildings it nonetheless had the same imposing "place of learning" impact at first sight.

Debra's room, like all the others was modestly furnished; after all it was just a place for sleep and private study.

But beyond the bedrooms the residence catered for all the students' basic needs; a kitchen and dining room, two shared bathrooms, a TV lounge and computer study room as well as small but well-equipped gym.

Having dumped her suitcase in her room, Debra went down to meet her fellow residents, the people she could be spending a lot of time with over the coming weeks.

As she got talking to her 'roomies' she realised what a diverse bunch they were, all sorts of people studying all sorts of different subjects.

There was Nicole Lawry, a sweet and friendly girl studying for a Physical Education degree.

And Blair Jansenovich, who seemed more concerned about making sure that everyone knew how talented he was. He was doing Business Management, not because he needed to (according to him) but because his wealthy father had insisted.

Of all of them, it was Cid Serverus that Debra connected with best, his off-the-wall sense of humour really appealed. Though, with his shock of blue hair and laid-back attitude she would never have guessed that he was here to study Science.

Cid suggested that they all head out to the Toasted Beans coffee bar for a late night snack and coffee hit.

Debra thought it was a great idea, and a chance to start getting acquainted with the town she was going to call home for the next few weeks. So she was disappointed that most of their group decided to stay at the hall and it was only Nicole, Cid and Debra that went out.

Debra had been nervous about going to university and meeting a lot of new people but she felt a lot happier that evening. Cid and Nicole seemed really chilled and friendly, Debra was particularly pleased that Cid knew all about the films and bands Debra loved.

-- * --

The following day was mostly familiarisation with the university set-up, including a meet-and-greet in the Student Union building.

Unfortunately the head tutor for Debra's course wasn't able to make it on the day but she was able to meet several of her fellow Arts students.

Of the other students she met, Jeffery Dean was perhaps the most intriguing. He didn't say much and his distinctly styled retro look seemed at odds with the fact that he was studying for an arts degree but he had an easy charm that Debra warmed to.

-- * --

It was the  day of Debra's first lecture.  It was scheduled for late in the morning so she wasn't among the first to get up.  As she realised when she went down for breakfast and noticed that several of the boys were already hard at work (or maybe play!) in the computer room.

Something else she realised was that getting dressed was something that most of her room-mates put off to the last moment before they needed to leave the house!

Another thing she was going to have to come to terms with was the different standards of hygiene and cleanliness in the house.

Debra liked a neat and tidy home but she was not going to be the one and only cleaner  out of the eight house-mates.

Before her class began Debra thought she would do some preparatory study at the coffee shop, reading one of the introductory texts that were handed out during the induction session.  Although it didn't tell her much that she didn't already know it was a useful reminder for the sort of material they would be covering over the next few weeks

Not keeping a good eye on the clock Debra could have missed her lecture time.  Thankfully the coffee shop was not too far from the Arts Building but she still ran; just to be sure.  It seemed that running to lectures was quite common as nearly every other student she saw was in a rush to one teaching building or another!