Back on the roof, Charlie used the newfound smelted copper to finally create the upgraded axe. It looked very much like his basic axe except that the blade now had a shimmering layer of copper laying across the sharpened edge. He walked to one of the nearby trees and gave it a test swing. To his surprise, it cut much deeper than his original axe ever had. He also found that this axe was oddly lighter and better balanced. Thus it seemed easier to swing. After only five chops, the tree began to bend. This time, Charlie was prepared to get out of the way and let the tree fall. Bear stood back, which Charlie was grateful for as it meant he didn’t need to worry about the tree falling on top of the little dog. With the tree down, Charlie used his backpack to suck it up.
He went back to the garden plots and used his fence aimed creation to place fences around the new plots.
“Finally done,” he said to Bear who looked at the new fences without even a hint of excitement. “Trust me, when this garden gets bigger, we’re going to be happy it’s organized.” Charlie was surprised to hear himself say this. It was the first time he’d really acknowledged any plans to be here for a good amount of time. It was a comforting thought but also a little disconcerting since it triggered his fight or flight response to commitment. But even with the little rush of anxiety he felt, he couldn’t help but notice that the idea of finding a place he actually wanted to be for more than a few hours was strangely exhilarating.
He looked up and saw that they still had a few hours of daylight left. “Well, what do you think Bear? Should we do a little exploring?”
Bear barked in agreement.
Charlie threw the backpack over his shoulder and the two of them marched off into the woods behind the garden. Charlie had been meaning to walk a bit deeper into the forest, but he avoided it since he hadn’t really had time since arriving. He also been worried that Bear was actually a monster that was going to eat him if he strayed too far into the darkness. Now that he knew Bear was not a monster, he felt at least a little more confident that if there was something lurking in the woods, the two of them might possibly be able to take it on together.
They moved deeper into the woods than Charlie had ever been before, and he was surprised to find just how thick the trees, bushes and rocks got further in. It made him feel hopeful that he would most likely never run out of materials to build with since there were so many all around them. In the distance, he could make out the ledge which marked the edge of the roof, but as they walked it never really seemed to get closer, even though Charlie was sure that it must be possible to reach it if they walked far enough.
He could also make out what appeared to be a very large tree, taller and wider than all the rest, but it had not a single leaf that he could see. Its bare branches looked like hundreds of bony fingers reaching up to the sky. Perhaps the giant tree was dead. He was so busy looking up at the ledge and the trees in the distance that he didn’t even notice what lay right before him until his foot stepped down into something cold and wet.
“Gah!” He jumped back in surprise as the cold liquid seeped into his shoe. Spread out before them was a large pond. This must be where the water from the stream he used daily. As he looked across the water, little bubbles rippled across the surface now and then. And that was when he remembered one of his new creations. He pulled the backpack from back to front and pulled up the Basic Fishing Pole.
Basic Fishing Pole – Allows user to catch fish
– Wood Units x 4
– Grass Units x 6
– Rock Units x 1
He selected it, then pulled a brand new fishing pole out of his backpack. It was a simple wooden pole with a line attached to a spinning lever on one end and a curved hook on the other. There was also a small red and white orb made out of smooth wood near the hook which he was pretty sure was called a bobber.
“Any idea how to fish?” he asked Bear. Bear’s ears perked up in confusion. “I’ll take that as a no.” He walked around to the side of the pond and tried his best to imitate what he’d seen in movies and on TV with the fishing pole. He swung it back and then cast it out. However, on the first try, he was pulled backwards as the hook got tangled in a tree branch behind him.
“Dammit!” he yelled. He went over to the tree and pulled down the branch, untangling the hook from the leaves. For his second try, he moved over to a clearer area and tried casting again. This time, the hook flew out into the middle of the pond with a soft plop. The bobber stayed floating above the surface. They stood on the edge of the pond, staring out at the bobber.
“Soooo, is this it?” asked Charlie. “We just sit here, and wait?”
Bear’s wheels minimized into his wheelchair as he plopped down on a large boulder. “Alright,” said Charlie, sitting down on the rock next to him. They sat next to each other, staring out at the water for a long while. “How did you get here?” asked Charlie, not expecting a response. He was merely thinking out loud. “Like how does a dog get onto a magical rooftop?” he sighed. “This place is so weird.”
There was a sudden, almost imperceptible tug on the fishing line. Ripples undulated out from the bobber. “Did you see that?” asked Charlie, reasserting his grip on the fishing pole which had loosened over time. There was another tug on the fishing line. This time the bobber submerged for just a moment and then reappeared on the surface. Charlie quickly got to his feet and held onto the fishing pole, keeping his eyes locked on the bobber. Suddenly, the bobber sank under the water and he felt the line go taught. More than that, something was pulling hard on the opposite side of the line. Charlie went to work reeling the line in, using as much strength as he could muster, pulling at the line first to the, left then to the right, as whatever was under the water tried desperately to escape. Charlie cranked the reel, putting his whole body into it. Bear barked frantically as if cheering him on.
Charlie gave one final hearty pull, and the end of the line popped out of the water with a large thick green fish hanging from it. The weight of the fish was more than Charlie had expected. It swung on the line and slammed into his chest, throwing him backwards. He toppled onto the ground. He and the fish flopped frantically around in the dirt as Bear barked and danced around the fish, attempting to keep it from escaping but also being somewhat terrified by it.
Charlie propped himself up just as the fish flopping its way back to the water. “Oh no you don’t!” he yelled, pouncing on the fish with his whole body and wrestling it into submission. Not sure what to do with the fish, he pulled his backpack off his back and placed it under the fish. The backpack obediently sucked up the fish putting an end to the struggle. Charlie sat back on the ground, taking deep breaths as he wiped sweat and dirt from his brow. Bear came to sit beside him and he gave the dog a scratch behind his ears. “Fishing is intense,” he said.
He looked at the screen on his backpack.
+1 River Bass
Length 16.3 inches
“Maybe we can eat some fish tonight?” he said to Bear.
Bear barked happily.
“Only I have no idea how to cook fish,” he said.
Bear whined sadly.
“Charlie?!” they both looked up at the sound of a voice far off behind them. “Where are you?”
“Hold on!” Charlie yelled back. “We’ll be right there.” Charlie stood and together they made their way back to the garden. Standing there in the clearing was Milo looking as grumpy as ever.
“Where have you been?” asked Milo.
“We were fishing, actually,” said Charlie. “I caught a fish.” He smiled proudly.
“Well, while you were doing that, this came,” Milo held up an already opened envelope.
“And that is…”
“A letter from some guy named Walter Kemp who not only knows about this place but apparently wants to purchase it from the owner.” Milo held out the letter to Charlie who took it gingerly in his hands.
“I don’t understand,” said Charlie. “Can he do that?”
“I guess that depends on the owner,” said Milo. They stared at each other for a long moment.
“But I thought my grandfather was the owner,” said Charlie.
“He was,” said Milo.
“So then who…”
“Are you being serious right now?” asked Milo. “You inherited it from him. You’re the new owner. This letter is for you!”
“But I thought I only owned my grandpa’s apartment.” Charlie was completely bewildered.
“You do. AND you own the rest of the building as well.”
Charlie took a long moment to contemplate this before settling on an appropriate response. “Well fuck.”
CONTINUE TO CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
One of my favorite things to do in any life or farming sim game is go fishing so there was no way it was not going to make it into this story in some way! Just a quick reminder that there will be no new chapters until Thursday August 11 as we will be away at Gen Con for the next week. If you want to see all our boardgame adventures, make sure you’re following me on tiktok and Instagram @Ezeekat!
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