The sun had just set behind the tall peaks of Midnight Hollow when Gloria found herself pacing the hallway in front of Dr Burrough's office again.
The narrow corridor wasn't much to look at, yet it had held an undeniable attraction for Gloria in the past few days. It hadn't taken her long to deduce that the most logical place for another phone connected to the front desk by an internal line would be the doctor's office.
The problem, again, was getting there.
It had become a habit to check the door every time Gloria passed through that corridor. A glance over the shoulder, then a quick yank at the door handle.
Locked, as usual.
The keys had to be in the nurse's possession, of course, and were therefore unattainable. Gloria had racked her brain for a way to get to them. It had been too close a call when she had snuck into the nurse's office previously, and the last thing Gloria needed right now was to get thrown into that terrible padded cell again.
For all she knew, Eliza carried the keys on her person, which made the idea of somehow procuring them even more ludicrous.
While she mulled things over, Gloria continued to write. She had finished Lonely Galaxy a few days ago and after a rave review by her only reader, Rod, she had started working on a sequel.
Not only her writing was progressing. Gloria was surprised at how well she was able to capture sims' likenesses, having mostly dabbled in abstract painting up to now.
She first tried her hand at confining Ally's intense stare to canvas. The boisterous girl had been unnerving at first, but when Gloria looked into those haunting eyes now, she felt nothing but benevolence.
Gloria had grown fond of all of them, really. Ally, Norb, Rod, Melody and John... After getting to know them, Gloria could not imagine a life without having ever met them.
Sure, each one of them had their flaws and quirks, but that did not make them lesser sims. If anything, it made them even more lovable.
As Gloria wiped her brushes for the day, she reflected that the same was true for herself. She had her flaws and she would never be like her sister, but it was good that way.
She had gone through a difficult time, which had landed her in an even more difficult situation. Yet, during all of this, Gloria had managed to go from awkward prose and clumsy brushstrokes to a finished novel and some pretty exceptional paintings.
Just like her painting and writing, Gloria had changed and evolved. Some may have said that she had become a different person, but she knew that was not the case. Gloria was still the same Gloria. The difference was that she was now finally at ease with herself for the first time in her life.
She could not wait to go out and live that life - on her own terms.
On the way to her room for the night, Gloria made it a point to walk past the door to the doctor's office again.
The practiced habit kicked in; a glance over the shoulder, then a quick yank at the door handle.
Miraculously, the door swung open.
After a moment of stunned surprise, Gloria regained her wit and peeked inside. She sighed in relief. There was no one.
Then it caught her eye, sitting on a the dignified desk like on a mahogany throne. A telephone, identical to the one in the nurse's office. Gloria rushed towards, it, heart pounding.
The three digit code to access the external line! Of course, if she just picked up the phone and dialed numbers at random, she'd run the risk of calling the nurse's office by mistake.
So again, Gloria started to look for something--anything--that would give her a hint as to what that three digit code may be. An instruction manual for the phone, a scrap of paper...
Gloria fought the tears of frustration as she remembered how fruitless the search had been in the nurse's office. But she had no other choice. Frantically, she ruffled through the papers and drawers, hoping against hope.
A sudden noise made Gloria's head jerk up.
"There you are, you little troublemaker."
"I leave for a moment and here you are, poking around other people's business," she smiled. "You're not supposed to be in here. But that never stopped you before, has it?"
Gloria could barely move a muscle before Eliza had caught her by the wrist.
"Please," Gloria whimpered, "It was a mistake. I lost my way and--AH!" A shriek of pain cut off Gloria's words as the clawlike grip tightened around her wrist.
"Off limits," the nurse intoned in her sweetest sing-song voice. "Off limits, just like the south wing. But you just love getting yourself into trouble, don't you? And deep trouble it is, too."
Once again, Gloria was dragged off, unable to resist the nurse's sheer physical strength.
"You can't do this," Gloria protested as she was shoved through the door into the padded cell. "The--the doctor wouldn't approve!"
The door slammed shut before Gloria could scramble to her feet.
Gloria's small fists pounded furiously against the cold metal as she yelled over and over, "You can't do this! Let me out!"
"Now, now," the nurse said calmly. "Who'd have thought that you would turn out to be such a little rascal? You better quiet down now or I may have to reassess just how long you need to stay in solitary confinement." Then, with a snarl, she added. "And don't you dare tell me what the doctor would or would not approve of."
Gloria's roars of fury echoed through the corridor, but the clicking of the nurse's heels only grew quieter as she walked away.
Defeated, Gloria slumped down onto the padded floor. She wanted nothing more than to leave this place and go home. She had been so close, but now... How long was she going to be stuck in here this time?
She knew every corner of the damn cell, the maddening monotony of the white walls only broken by the unyielding door and the scrawled writing on the wall.
Five Days, it said.