The Hellewell-Fyres Home, Oasis Springs, 2031
"Hey Whisper!" said Henry, picking up the yapping dog. It had been several months since they had last seen one another, as Henry had been away at The University of San Myshuno, and was in the third year of his science degree. He was in a good mood, having received the final mark for his statistics exam on the train home from the airport.
"So, Whisper, have you missed me?"
Whisper wriggled and poked his tongue out. Just then the phone rang.
"Okay got to put you down now. Alex is on the phone," said Henry. "If you're good today, I'll get Alex to bring his dog Loki on our next walk. How does that sound?"
Whisper made no response, for he didn't speak Simlish.
"Henry!" said Alex. "Just got your message about your statistics grade. I cannot believe you got an 'A' considering how dreadful you were at school!"
"No Alex! I swear I got an 'A' in statistics!"
"Sorry Henry," said Alex. "Unless I see this result on paper, I cannot possibly believe that my friend who struggled to add and subtract in Grade 1 maths, could possibly be getting 'A's at uni."
"Do you want me to send my result to you?"
"I want you to hand it to me in person. There's a window in my rooms big enough for you to... climb through. However, I've just got out of the shower, so am a little indecent right now."
Henry raised an eyebrow.
"Alex, are you flirting with me?"
"What? I'm king, Henry. I don't flirt and it deeply wounds me to think that I would ever commit an act so crass."
There was a knock at Henry's door.
"Sorry Alex, I have to go!"
Henry ended the call just as Jonathon entered his son's bedroom.
"Who were you talking to?" he asked. "I heard giggles."
Henry blushed, then eyed his father, a one cornered smile crept across his face.
"A friend...." he said.
His papa nodded, but Henry knew his response was less than satisfactory.
Jonathon sat down beside Henry on his bed. There was silence as Jonathon's gaze fell lovingly on a portrait of his son beside the calendar on the wall.
"Hehe... I'm still smug about that photo - catching you off guard like that!"
Henry placed his head in his hand. "I don't like my picture taken, papa!"
"Which is why I tactfully awaited your return from school!"
"I had barely got through the front door before you assaulted me with your camera."
"Nah nah nee nah nah!" His father stuck his tongue out, then became serious. "Henry, I have some very bad news."
Henry turned his head. Is papa selling the clinic or something? he thought. He knew papa had been struggling lately, as no one wanted to bring their pets to a Sweglord's Vet Clinic after the news broke out about Henry's cousins' 'untimely deaths' in Granite Falls. The Evil Geniuses, who had connections in the police force, reported that it had been the Sweaty Shivers that had taken their lives. Sweaty Shivers had broken out in Granite Falls during their time there three years ago and there was evidence to suggest the disease had killed Lauren. Therefore, it wasn't a bad coverup on the Evil Geniuses' part... except, they failed to keep the Sweglords quiet and after the Sweglords assassinated a collection of His Evil Services families, the Evil Geniuses declared war on the Sweglords, which is exactly what the Sweglords had wanted, except Paris that is.
"Your dad and I have been discussing the war we've started against the Evil Geniuses."
Oh, Henry blinked. So it's about the war. Not the clinic. He nodded, and his eyes flickered down.
"You're an adult, Henry," his father continued, "so it's really up to you, but we believe that you should join the Sweglords for your own survival."
"U-h," Henry vocalised.
"According to your dad, the Sweglords will kill any family member who doesn't join this war and avenge the family's deaths.... I am so sorry Henry."
Henry was quiet. "Is - that - all?" he stammered.
"Yes," said his papa. "Would you like me to leave?"