From that day on, Darius listened to whatever Felicia said. If Felicia said they were going out to play, they would go out and play. If she said they were going to have a conversation, they’d have a conversation. She was like a little tyrant, constantly bossing him around.
Mr. King saw all this and didn’t mind. In fact, Felicia would occasionally catch snippets of conversation Mr. King had with people, usually on the phone, talking about how clever he was to marry a woman with a child near his son’s age. His new daughter was not only adorable, intelligent, and sweet, she got his rigid and apathetic son to act almost normal too.
Though Mr. King didn’t say much about Darius’ condition, it was clear he was deeply troubled by it. From what she saw and from the information DARS gave her, he’d been sending his son to all kinds of doctors and specialists for years to try and “correct” whatever was wrong with him. But nothing worked. Eventually, Mr. King’s previous wife straight up divorced him because of their son’s “disability”.
Felicia decided not to comment on the ex-wife’s behavior. Her own mother was enough of a scumbag, much less an ex-step-mother she’d never even met before. She could only think sourly that Mr. King had awful taste in women…
Though Felicia was a tyrant to Darius, she tried to be magnanimous. If she only did what she wanted whenever she saw him, there was a chance he’d start to resent her. That’s why, each day, she’d spend a few hours just sitting in the library reading with her younger brother. He would do whatever he wanted, and she’d do whatever she wanted. They would simply peacefully coexist in the same space.
Honestly, it wasn’t just for Darius. She had to do something about her host’s dislike of books!
‘DARS, is this body’s hatred of books a personality thing or learned?’
[Hypothesis: The host is naturally outgoing, enjoying the company of others, but suffers from a short attention span and a lot of energy. Therefore, the host finds books bothersome because they cut her off from people and require long periods of concentration.]
‘Is there some way to… I dunno… correct all that?’
[The desire to socialize can not be changed, however her short attention span and energy can be modified.]
‘Ah, thank God… what can I do to modify it?’
[User is already doing some of what is required. By playing regularly, the user expends the excess energy in the host’s body. To extend the host’s ability to concentrate, start with smaller, shorter books and take frequent breaks. Walk around, draw, talk to someone, do any activity that is not reading. Then go back to reading. Continue to do this, increasing the length of the books and decreasing the frequency of the breaks. Overtime, the host’s body should naturally adapt.]
With DARS recommendations to guide her, Felicia whole-heartedly implemented them. Hating books was something she refused to allow. Not only was it silly, it was disadvantageous for her future. A person who doesn’t read was a person destined to be stupid.
Felicia had no intention of being an idiot!
The other reason that made it important for her to enjoy reading was that she was limited in what she could do. This wasn’t just because she was a child, but because of what she had available in the mansion.
It wasn’t just a different world she was living in, but a different time period. It seemed like she was stuck in the early 1970s. It wasn’t exactly the 1970s she was familiar with either, which made things more confusing for her. Some things seemed distinctly 70s, while others seemed like they came out of the mid-80s.
When she asked DARS about it, he said, [The user will witness many timelines that will be familiar yet different to what the user grew up with. This is the nature of having many different universes with many different timelines. A single change in the timeline can cause a cascade effect, growing bigger and bigger, until the end result is something completely different from what the user has ever experienced.]
‘Oh? How different?’
[The user will find out.] DARS said mysteriously, unwilling, or more precisely unable, to give any more information.
Because of the time period, there were no computer or cell phones. TVs, radios, and landline phones existed, but there was—astonishingly—only one TV in the house! Mr. King, apparently, didn’t “believe in television”. For radios, there were two: one in the kitchen for the chef and one in the study. Weirdly, there was a phone in almost every room in the house, even Felicia had one!
This all being the case, if Felicia couldn’t get the host to appreciate reading, she’d be bored out of her mind. Her scummy mother, Kim, had already given up on such an isolated lifestyle. By the second week, she’d had a chauffeur drive her out to go shopping for hours at a time, almost every day. She’d come back loaded with bags of clothes, shoes, and jewelry, looking extremely happy.
Felicia wondered how Kim hadn’t bought out several stores already with the amount of shopping she was doing.
Every day Kim was wearing something different, new, and expensive looking. Felicia thought she often looked tacky; she would dress in whatever was the latest fashion without much regard to her own body shape and natural coloring. Mr. King never had a bad word to say about it though, as if it were perfectly normal. Maybe it was, Felicia didn’t know. So Kim kept on with her ridiculous outfits.
Because Kim was a parent in-name-only, if Felicia didn’t actively make her existence known and Kim didn’t have an immediate use for her, Kim forgot about her daughter. This was how Felicia avoided being dragged along for these long shopping trips. Considering what Kim had already forced on her host, Felicia absolutely did not want to go on a shopping trip with her!
Life went on like this lazily for what felt like forever and then, one evening without any warning, Kim brought up school.
“Sweetie, Dad and I were talking about the school you’ll be going to this year.”
Felicia, who had just lifted a fork with a carrot to her mouth, paused.
“Silly!” Kim laughed, eyes narrowing slightly in amusement. “You’re 6 this year, of course you have to go to school.”
“...oh.” Felicia had totally forgotten that was something children did, go to school.
“Do you remember seeing children go to school where we lived before?”
Felicia gave a slow nod.
“Well, the school you’ll be attending is a little… different.”
“Mm, that’s right. It’s a fancy school! They have a uniform and delicious lunches, unlike the schools those kids you saw went to.”
Felicia lips twitched. Mediocre school lunches seemed to be a universal truth.
“That being the case, tomorrow we’ll go to get the school supplies you need and stop by a tailor.”
“Tailor? Why do I need a tailor?”
“For your uniform of course!”
“We don’t…” Felicia hesitated, thinking of how to phrase this in kid-talk. “...go to a store to buy a uniform?”
Kim looked even more amused, she raised her well manicured index finger and shook it. “No, no, this is a FANCY school, remember? The uniforms are fancy too! They need to be fitted to the student. This way, every student looks lovely, including you.”
Mr. King objected jokingly. “My little girl will be the most beautiful girl in that school, even if she wears a potato sack. She takes after her mother, after all.”
Kim gave a tinkling laugh and pushed Mr. King on the arm, saying, “Oh you!”
After that, it was a mess of flirting between the two of them. Felicia lowered her head to hide her disgust. When would their honeymoon phase be over? It was bad enough watching normal parents flirt, watching someone old enough to be her grandpa flirt with someone technically called her mother was just gross…
The subject of school depressed Felicia to no end.
Who wants to redo elementary school, middle school, and high school? If it was just about learning, she could maybe skate by… but school was also about socializing. She would have to socialize with her peers, that is, other 6 year olds! Even if she acted 6 on the outside, mentally she wasn’t 6!
Lying face down on her bed that night, she asked, ‘DARS, how long am I gonna be in this timeline?’
[The first time Darius encounters Janice is when he is 20 years old.]
Felicia immediately sat up, “Twenty?! I have to be here for that long? Are you crazy?!”
[No, the user has to be here longer. Not only must the user prevent Janice from seeing Darius, the user must also prevent Darius from meeting Jenny.]
Felicia’s mouth opened and closed several times in shock. Now that she thought about it, the review showed Darius as an adult. She got here as a kid, naturally she was stuck here for a long time!
Grabbing DARS, she shook him angrily. ‘Why did you bring me here so early?! Why not have me take over this body when she was a teenager or something?!’
Despite being shaken so viciously, DARS voice came out smoothly, [There needed to be a deep attachment between the user and Darius, otherwise he would not listen to the user. If Darius does not listen to the user, he will meet Janice or Jenny eventually. Of the available candidates who could build a strong bond with Darius, there were only two: Mr. King and Felicia King. Due to restrictions, Mr. King was not available, leaving only Felicia King. For Felicia King to develop the appropriate bond with Darius, it was calculated that the user needed to take over the host on their first meeting. Without a strong first impression, Darius would not form the proper attachment.]
Felicia stopped shaking DARS about halfway through his explanation. By the end, she let go and fell back on her bed.
‘Uuuuuugh—! This means I have to go through my primary education all over again!!!!!!’ She kicked her feet angrily in a temper. ‘I literally just graduated from highschool before I died! I was going to get licensed as a Physician Assistant! Now I’ve gotta start from square-one! Nooo— I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna! ’
She continued whining about the injustice of it all for several minutes. Since it was late and she’d already run around during the day, getting the proper amount of exercise, she didn’t have much energy to continue her tantrum. She found herself too tired to be angry.
‘Okay, let’s think positively.’ She tried to cheer herself up. ‘This world has a different history than the one I came from, right?’
‘So I’ll be learning different things…’
[To a degree. Certain subjects will remain the same.]
‘Heh, like math.’
‘And, when I’m done, I can just get my certifications and license to be a Physician Assistant like I meant to before...’ Felicia decided not to finish that line of thought. It still ached to think about her past. ‘...anyway, I can still get the job I wanted, right DARS?’
DARS simply floated there, saying nothing.
‘....DARS, I *can* be a Physician Assistant here, right? They DO have that job don’t they?’
[The job does exist.]
She pointed at herself, “And I can get that job right?”
Felicia let out an annoyed groan. ‘Oh no… more bad news?’
[The goal is to stop Darius from meeting Janice and Jenny. Therefore, the user must be somewhat near Darius to accomplish the goal when he is most vulnerable, specifically in his college years. The user will need to follow Darius to the same college...]
‘Oh… frick my life… seriously? I can’t even get the career I want?’
[If it is any consolation, the user only needs to endure until Darius is 27.]
‘Huh, why 27?’
[By then, both Janice and Jenny will not be able to meet Darius.]
‘Not able… what do you mean not able?’
DARS, who now had a good understanding of Felicia’s character, returned her question with a question, [Is the user sure she wants to know the answer to that?]
Felicia, who also had a good understanding of DARS, immediately decided she didn’t want to know.
Sometimes, just sometimes, ignorance was bliss.