When the moving truck rounded another corner, it finally came into view: a modern mansion built of bare concrete, set against the hazy blue ocean and framed by tall palm trees.
Grace and Jamey emerged from the truck and were greeted by the sound of waves washing against the shore. A faint smell of barbecue hung in the air. The A/C in the truck had been so strong that Grace had to wear several layers, but now she began shrugging them off as the relentless sunlight immediately engulfed her entire body. She smiled as she watched the pavement shimmer in the heat. It felt good to be back home.
The smell of barbecue grew stronger as they walked up to the house. Maybe her dad was throwing them a surprise party!
However, as the smoky smell passed the point of pleasantness and became pervasive, Grace's growing excitement soon turned into apprehension and finally, horror.
The power flowed from Gene's glowing fingertips and he couldn't help but grin. It was working, he could feel it. He was going to fix this mess, this disaster, this...
Hisses and creaks and foul smells were not what Gene had expected. A quick glance around the room confirmed his worst fear: something had gone terribly wrong. The kitchen sink's pipe had burst and sprayed a fountain of water, while the dishwasher next to it smoked and threw sparks dangerously. Piles of rotting garbage were strewn all over the floor, their permeating stench making Gene gag.
"You can start whenever," Fred prompted helpfully.
"It's already done," Gene scowled.
As the duo hesitantly surveyed the house, the extent of the destruction became painfully clear. Even rooms that had been completely untouched by the fire were utterly ruined now.
Not a single appliance was still working, not a single piece of furniture left unscathed.
"This is bad," Freddie murmured. He tried to think of something, anything they could do at this point, but nothing came to him.
"This is really bad," Fred repeated, feeling the panic build up. "Really, really bad... Oh plumbob, what do we do?!"
"Dad," Gene said flatly, but Freddie was too absorbed in his dismay to react.
Grace's eyes darted around the room. She opened her mouth as if to say something, then closed it again. There were no words.
"The banner is a nice touch," she said finally, hearing her voice crack but desperately trying to keep calm. "What... happened?" Beside her, Jamey covered his nose and retched.
Freddie stood frozen, making Gene feel compelled to fill the uncomfortable silence with words.
"Well, you see, there was a fire, but we stopped it and then..." Gene's voice trailed off.
"Uh, welcome home," Freddie said lamely.
The sound Grace made in response was somewhere between a shriek and a sob.
When her shaky knees finally gave away, a pair of strong arms caught and steadied her.
"Grace," Jamey said softly. His warm brown eyes looking into hers were all the comfort she needed.
"You're right," she breathed. "We can fix this."
And so they tried.
They scrubbed the floors...
... gathered garbage and debris and then scrubbed some more.
But even after days of relentless work, the house was still an absolute ruin.
"Argh, I can't do this anymore," Gene roared angrily, tossing his filthy sponge into a corner. "We'll be stuck scrubbing this place until we're old and grey. Even the puddles are filthy! This is pointless! It's a... a simsyphean task!"
"Gene," she began, ready to deliver another one of her patented pep talks. But as she gazed around the room and realized how little progress they had to show for all their efforts, she deflated. "You're right," she said. "We need to call some help."
All in all, the construction work was done quicker than they would have ever anticipated.
The contractors had stripped the walls and floors down to bare wood and concrete. To replace the charred furniture that was beyond salvage, Grace and Jamey had trawled all the thrift stores in the area and found bargains and unique pieces they genuinely loved.
And even though the contractors had bungled some of the ceiling tiles...
... the house finally felt like a home again.
The only thing left missing was one very important family member.
Sorry for the picture spam! Showing off the newly remodeled place <3
I was kind of tired of the way the house looked and wanted a cute hipstery makeover for the new generation, but Grace just doesn't feel like the type to throw away family heirlooms and remodel her childhood home just to suit her own taste. So the solution to my problem was, as usual, fire >:D
Btw, I don't think genies can actually fail at magically cleaning the house. Gene tried over and over and succeeded every time. I ended up having to turn Todd into a witch and adding him to the household temporarily so he could muck up the spell :,D
So yeah, the fire was completely staged in a different save file, in case you were curious :)