Behind the Lights is Soap Hub’s exclusive fanfiction, set in the bustling metropolis of Genoa City… and you, the reader, have the chance to influence the story! If you have an idea for how things should progress, leave your suggestion in the comments. Then, come back for the next installment to see how the saga takes shape!
The sun had started to set in the autumn sky by the time that Simone began the walk back to her apartment. She had wanted to explore more of Genoa City, but those plans had been put on hold by the sudden fatigue that she felt after finishing her small meal at Crimson Lights. It was surprising, in a way, to think that she had only disembarked from her flight a few hours prior… and yet, she had somehow managed to have more conversations with the locals than she would have in a week back in Albuquerque.
Some of those locals being more pleasant than others, Simone thought to herself. As much as she hated to admit it, she was strangely curious about Darryn, the man who had approached her from out of the blue. True, he was probably just an overzealous would-be suitor of sorts, but something about his demeanor had stuck in Simone’s mind.
Of course, for all she knew, that was just the way that things were done in Genoa City. It seemed unlikely that the location could be so different than anywhere else in the United States, but every interaction that she’d had so far had made it seem like people were particularly forthcoming and willing to talk.
Even the receptionist at the hotel – whom Simone knew she’d be seeing again in only a few short minutes – had been open to conversing, despite the bored, borderline-irritated tone that she’d maintained throughout their entire exchange.
Maybe dating happened in a similar way here.
Simone shook her head, grinning at the absurdity of the thought. The subtle back-and-forth interactions of a fledgling romance weren’t defined (at least as far as she knew) by any kind of geographical location. People danced around the topic as a means of gauging interest, and as a way of ensuring that there was plenty of time to back out of a situation if it started to go sour. Her brief exchange with Darryn had been… well, confusing, to be blunt.
Furthermore, he had appeared to be more interested in Simone’s job than in exploring any kind of personal desire. Maybe he really was a reporter, Simone thought, remembering the direct question she had asked. The idea that anyone would think of her as being an interesting source felt patently absurd, but stranger things had certainly happened.
Then again, it was always possible that the man had been about to convey to the “proposition” that the person behind the initials “V.N.” had referenced in their note. If that had been the case, then he had certainly done a poor job of making Simone feel at ease. A thoughtful frown crossed her face as she remembered the photograph album that was still waiting on her coffee table.
She wondered for a moment if she might find a picture of Darryn in there, then dismissed the idea just as quickly. It was pointless to try and find patterns where there were none, and there was absolutely no reason to think that the man was anything other than a random stranger who had introduced himself.
As she walked through the front doors to her apartment building, Simone briefly considered approaching the receptionist and thanking her for the restaurant recommendation. Crimson Lights was wonderful! she imagined herself saying. And I’ll be sure to check out that “athletic club” when I get the chance!
The words were halfway to her lips when Simone suddenly paused, having seen the look of unbridled horror that was plastered to the young woman’s face. She was staring at something near the elevators, and when Simone turned to look, she saw the large television there was lit up with scenes of an enormous fire. As with before, there was no sound, but the subtitles on the screen (which Simone couldn’t help but notice were full of typos and spelling errors) suggested that an inferno had broken out underground somewhere.
“What’s going on?” Simone asked, approaching the receptionist.
The young woman gestured at the screen, her mouth still agape. “The Underground is on fire,” she whispered. Ah, it’s THE Underground Simone thought. Not just “underground.” “It’s…” the receptionist continued, her voice catching in her throat. “It’s… my god, I have friends who were there tonight. I’m sorry, I need to call them.”
Simone backed away as the young woman pulled out a smartphone and began touching it with shaking hands. “I hope they’re all okay,” she said, then turned and made her way to the elevator.
Her room was exactly as she’d left it… although why it would have been any other way, Simone didn’t know. Maybe the behavior of the locals had left her wondering about personal privacy in some way. I really do have to stop referring to everyone as “the locals,” though, Simone scoffed. After all, I’m one of them now. Frustratingly, her earlier tiredness had all but evaporated during her walk back from the café, possibly as a result of the coffee she’d had finally kicking in. She didn’t want to just sit and watch television – judging by what she’d seen downstairs, it would be somewhat upsetting – but other than the laptop she had been gifted by Ashley, there was precious little with which she could occupy herself.
Then again, there was always the photograph album.
Simone kicked off her shoes and sat down on the couch, staring at the album like an entomologist might regard a strange beetle. For as mundane as the item looked, it had no right to have caused such a mystery. Simone reached forward and began slowly leafing through the pages, looking for any clue as to why the thing had been given to her.
A black-and-white picture of four men in front of an old locomotive.
A scene from a party in the 1970s, captured right as someone was popping some champagne.
Two women in burlesque outfits.
The images didn’t even look like they were in chronological order, and as near as Simone could tell, they weren’t related to one another in any way. No similar faces jumped out at her, none of the locations were the same (save for in one case, in which two nearly identical pictures were positioned next to one another), and there was still no immediately evident purpose for the album having been presented to her. Maybe it was supposed to be maddening? Maybe it was some kind of test? Maybe it had been intended for someone else entirely? Simone didn’t know if anyone else had been offered the job at Jabot Cosmetics, so it was certainly possible that…
Her thought was interrupted by a knock at the door.
It’s too early for my belongings to have been shipped to me, Simone thought. Maybe it’s ANOTHER case of mistaken identity? She stood up and approached the door, pulling it open before it had even occurred to her to look through the people.
Darryn stood in the hallway, looking sheepish and uncomfortable.
“Uh, hi,” he said. “May I come in? I think we need to talk.”