Mari's Story

(Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent)

Monika wants me to write down what happened before I reached the New Town Sime Centre. She said it would be good practice for my simelang and also, I think, she thinks it is good therapy. Well - she might be right on both counts. Nesa was glad to give me the paper - I think that she is just pleased to have me off her back for awhile. If this, my story, seems stilted or strange, or wrong or crooked in any way, please be patient with me. My simelang is not yet good - and writing is still a grueling torment.

My name is Mari and this is my story.

For most of my life until now I lived in a small farming community deep inside gen territory. My family consisted of my parents and myself, my uncle and his son John. Johns mother died at his birth and so his father and he came to live with us - on a farm, even one as small as ours, you can't have too many hands. While John was a small baby he was looked after by my mother - he was toddling when I came along so he was always more of a brother to me then a cousin.

Johns father died when a tractor rolled on him. John was 10 and I was 8. My mother died a few years later, I never did know what from.

Looking back now, with what I have learnt here from the center, I think I must have established about 12. With no simes or any kind around us there was no way of knowing.

Oh yes, that's the other thing that I have discovered is rather unusual. In the town where I lived simes were so rare as to be almost a fiction. As far as I know, during the time I was growing up, not one kid in our area "went sime" as we called it. We knew about it - our parents use to scare us into being good with stories of how the "simes will get ya" if you were bad, and many a night I would go to bed too scared to close my eyes for fear of what might appear. As kids we use to talk about what we would do if we "went sime". Most of our childish fantasies revolved around who we would kill if we had the chance, before they caught and killed us. For John and I the only person we wished to see dead was my father.

He had always been a cruel man. I don't really remember much about Johns father and my mother, so I can't say whether the death of the other adults in the household had any effect on his treatment of John and I, but he is dead now, and I'm not and never will be, sorry.

He would beat us, but that was ok, we understood that on a farm work had to be done and if we were slack in his eyes he would "hurry us up" with his boot or a strap. That wasn't the cruelty that killed us inside.

It's hard to put into words. With John he would look at him in a certain way and growl into his beard. Nothing John did was good enough, or fast enough. John knew his worth, and it was nothing. With me, there was two, well phases, I guess you could say. After my mother died my father would sometimes, not often, get into bed with me and try to have sexual relations. Not that I knew what it was about then, and not that there was ever any danger of him succeeding - he was as limp as a wet noodle. It was what happened after that hurt more then anything. After trying for awhile he would hit me around the face and chest and say that it was only because I was so ugly that he couldn't do anything. That was the reason that I hated him then and always will.

The other thing he tried to do was to play John and I off against each other. He should have known that wouldn't work. John was all I had, I was all John had, we loved each other and clung to each other like we clung to life it's self.

Some time after my mother died John became convinced that he was going to "go sime". He told me about it, but when I tried to pin him down he could never say what it was that made him think so. I laughed at him at first, but he remained convinced although he stopped talking about it for awhile.

About this time John decided that I needed to know how to shoot the rifle. My father didn't object to this, using a rifle to protect the livestock is a good and proper practice for anyone who lives on a farm. He did warn us not to overuse the shells though. Under Johns tutorage I soon became a proficient shot. It wasn't until later that he told me why he even thought of it.

"Ri", John always called me Ri, "I'm going to go sime. Don't ask me how I know, I don't know how I know, I just KNOW. When I do we have to be ready. I'm going to kill that bastard and then you are going to kill me." I was shocked, horrified and speechless. No way would I ever be able to hurt John! Better that I die myself. Obvious he knew what I was thinking.

"Look what will happen if you don't!" he said. "I would probably kill you - simes can't help it you know. I couldn't stand the though of that Ri!" John didn't seem to reaTeee that I also wouldn't be able to stand the thought of killing him. "If you didn't kill me Ri, others will, and somehow I don't trust them to do as quick and as clean a job as you would." He finally forced me, sobbing like I would never stop, to promise me that I would do as he wished. By some sort of mutual agreement we didn't discuss it again.

Life continued. Looking back on what I have written I can see that I have made it sound much harder then it really was. There were many happy moments, although I can't remember any that included my father. There were the swims with John and some other kids in the area at the local swimming hole, complete with the obligatory rope swing. There was the time John and I sneaked into a neighbor's orchard and gorged ourselves on green apples - boy were we sick! But it was still a happy moment.

There was no school for John and I. Everything we needed to know was about farming, and you learnt that from doing, not from books. I don't think my father could read, least I never saw him with a book or a paper, so he probably thought that we didn't need to learn to read either.

Then came the day John was sick. We never took medicines in our house, we knew for bitter experience that they tended to make us sicker, although my father seemed exempt from that particular problem. So John was sick, but that didn't mean he stopped working. Sick or not the cow still had to be milked and the fields worked.

About three days after he first felt ill the crisis hit. I was getting ready to do the baking, just having come in with the eggs from the hen house, when John came stumbling in the front door. I had never seen him look so bad. His eyes were black holes and his face was wet with sweat. He was breathing so loud that it sounded like the truck trying to start on a cold morning, and even from the door where I was standing I swear that I could feel the heat pouring off him. "It's time Ri," he said, "get the gun."

He stumbled back out the door and I hesitated, but I knew what was going to happen next and I knew that no matter what John was going to need my help. I grabbed the rifle and dashed out after him. He was headed for the barn where my father was working on the truck. We could hear the sound of hammer on metal and swearing. John stopped outside the door and waited for me to catch up.

"Ri, I want you to go around the back. I don't want you to watch, just listen. You will know what you have to do and when you have to do it."

I could hardly see him clearly for the tears that were on my face. Sick as he was, as certain as he was that he was going to die soon, he still was thinking of me.

"When you have...done it, go get Mr Pritchet. Tell him I went sime and killed your dad. No one will ever blame you for what you did. Ri," he paused, "I'll never blame you either." Then he hugged me. His body was so hot it felt like he was on fire. I don't know how he could stand it. He pushed me down behind the water barrel and went and crouched beside the door.

For what seemed like the longest time nothing happened. I could hear his ragged breathing in-between the swearing from my father in the shed. I was still as I could be, clutching the gun and not thinking of anything. I think I may have blacked out or something cause that time seems very blank when I look back on it.

Then it happened. First I heard John move and I froze. I don't think I was scared - not then. Actually I don't think I was anything, just waiting.

"John what the fuck you doing in here you lazy..." my father started to yell, but must have really seen John then and stopped. He yelled something unintelligible and I couldn't sit still any longer thinking that he might just hurt John. I rushed to the door to see my father with a hammer, seemingly unafraid, threatening John as John circled him. The look of John scared me half to death. His face didn't look like his at all, he looked mad, almost animal like. He was crouched over, arms in front of him and his arms looked odd. In that half light, with the stress and the speed of everything it didn't register why his arms looked odd.

"I knew you was rotten boy, I knew it from the day I took pity on ya old man and took you in. But you are finished now boy. You have shown yourself for a rotten devil, and you'll not live long enough to do any more wrongs." With that he flung himself at John with the hammer in his hand and I shot him.

There was no thought in it. I hadn't planned it. He threatened the only person I loved and I shot him and I'm proud of it. John turned to me with a kind of strangled sob and I threw the gun as far away from me as I could. Before I finished the movement John was on me.

I knew I was going to die and I was happy that it was at Johns hand. The man we both hated was dead and maybe, just maybe John would live. John grabbed my arms and of all things kissed me! For a moment I thought that he was ok and that he was happy that my father was dead - but as soon as that thought came it went in a blaze of pain. I felt like I was being sucked inside out. My arms were burning and my head was going to burst any moment. But as soon as it started it was over. John held me and didn't move. I think that he was sure he had killed me and didn't want to find out. Eventually I wiggled a little and he quickly dropped my arms, put his around me and held me, sobbing like his heart had broken.

"It's ok John, I'm ok" I said, and all I could think to do was to pat him on the back and think soothing thoughts like we would with a troublesome horse. It seemed to work cause he soon quietened down and released his grip on me. It was then I noticed his arms.

"Look John! You have tentacles." It must be difficult for you to imagine how surprising this was to us. We sort of knew that simes had tentacles on their arms but having never saw them, and half thinking that simes were a myth anyway, we really hadn't known what to expect.

Anyway, John was feeling much better, and I didn't feel too bad, but we reaTeeed that our troubles had only just begun.

Where to go and how to get there was the major problem. But John had been preparing for this, just in case. That's the type of person John was. He had asked casually about simes and had found out that they mostly lived over "that a way". Well at least it was a direction. We had the ute, the truck was broken but it would have been too big anyway. We had some fuel, and we had some money. Once again John had been prepared. There was a smallish bag of money he had been stealing from my father and putting away. I guess he figured that I would have found it anyway if things had gone differently.

The biggest problem, and one John didn't have figured, was what to do about his arms!

The weather, although starting to get chilly, was still too hot for long sleeves. They would have stood out as odd anyway. We compromised by grabbing a loose long sleeved coat for John to throw on in an emergency. We packed all the clothing we had, neither of us owned much, and, taking the ute, left the only home I had known.

We got exactly two days out of that ute. I couldn't drive at all, still being considered too young and untrustworthily female to be interested behind the wheel. John had promised to teach me soon, but there just hadn't been enough time. The fuel we had ran out when we were along way from anywhere so we ditched it.

Our bags were small but even so they got heavy after a very short time. John soon found that he could carry both with easy and without getting tired. I got tired much quicker then he did but although it must have chaffed him to go so slow he never roused at me or complained or yelled at me to keep up. That is also the type of person John was. We kept to fields, followed creeks and rivers where we could and stayed away from people. We lived off what we could glean and although I was usually hungry and tired and we both knew that every move was dangerous, I don't think I have ever been so happy.

I would worry every now and then that we might get turned around and end up lost but John told me that he knew exactly where he was and I trusted him and believed him.

I'm not sure how long it was until it was impossible for us to go any further without running into people. Things were getting built up, the houses were closer together and there didn't seem to be anywhere we could go without following a road. Fortunately it was also getting colder so that John could wear the coat without people thinking anything was odd. The first time we went through a town we were both terrified. John seemed to be physically in pain and I was almost frantic with worry for him. I remembered how he had quietened in the shed that day, so I tried it again the same way, talking softly and thinking as hard as I could that everything would be ok. Whatever it was I did, it seemed to work and John smiled at me in thanks.

We even chanced going into a shop to buy some food. Boy did that hot food taste good. John didn't seem to want to eat much though, he pushed most of his over to me and I ate that too. We were feeling quite cocky when we left, and probably weren't as careful as we should have been. The man from the shop followed us out and watched us as we walked away. John, in one unguarded moment, raised an arm above his head, the sleeve drooped down and showed part of his tentacles and the shop man let out the cry.

Before I knew what had happened John had bodily picked me up and we were almost flying down the road. All I could do was to hang on. John twisted and turned until we were out of town. There was no way those people could have kept up with us. At the time I had no idea how John could move like that. Now of course I know what augmentation is and that he had indeed been augmenting. We went to ground in some fields outside the town, but we didn't stop until we were several miles away. That night we slept in a deserted and half falling down shed. I was frozen, but John didn't seem to feel the cold any more then he had felt hungry for the food we had bought. I guess he must have been augmenting again, but I'm still not sure how that works.

The next day, and the one after that, John was much quieter. We trudged along, our high spirits gone, and carefully bypassed any towns we came across. I was constantly hungry, we only managed to get about one meal of food a day, but John wasn't hungry at all and made sure I ate anything we could get, despite my begging him to eat.

The third day after we had been chased out of town, yes I'm sure it was the third day, I reaTeeed that something was badly wrong with John. He could hardly talk and he looked hunted. Yes, that's the word, hunted. We were sitting in a grain shed, surrounded by bags of wheat. I had opened one of the bags and taken some of the wheat out hoping that we would be able to make a fire soon and that I could manage to find a tin or something to make porridge of it. I had even eaten a handful as it was, that is how hungry I was. John was sitting with his back to me in a curled up ball of misery. I went to him and put my hand on his shoulder.

"Don't touch me!" he shouted.

I was stunned, John never raised his voice to me.

"Whats wrong John?" I asked once again trying to be soothing. This time, however, it didn't work.

"Ri, it's coming back, I feel sick and empty. I'm afraid I'll hurt you." He took a deep breath, "I think it would be best if I left you here and went on by myself. You can make a life for yourself somewhere around here. You arent the cursed one."

The bitterness in his voice tore me apart. "I'm not leaving you John." I held out my hand to him and before I knew it he had me once again in that odd embrace. Unlike last time though John didn't put his lips to mine, instead he just held me for awhile. I remained as still as possible, indicating my willingness to do whatever he needed and worrying slightly about him.

After a few minutes John let my arms go and stepped back. He looked at me strangely, deeply as if looking though me and he was frowning.

"Ri I think I have worked something out," he said "You have some sort of glow about you at times, almost like you were lit up from inside. I noticed that other people have it too, more or less, but I don't seem to have it the same." He paused, he was obviously having problems explaining something for which we simply didn't have the words. "I think that it is as simple as gens having this and simes needing it and that these tenticles," he waved them over his hands, "help the simes to get it. Like food I think. That's why I haven't been hungry, I need this, this, stuff that you have to live on, not food."

I tried to understand what he was talking about but I couldn't see it the way he seemed to be able to see it and so it wasn't easy to catch his drift.

"When I first saw you, there in the barn, you were covered with it. Later I thought that I must have been imagining it because you hardly had any. But now it's getting stronger in you again, and I think that you are making more of it." He looked woeful, "I don't know if you have enough in you yet, but I sure could use some."

John sat down suddenly and buried his face in his hands. He looked like a little boy who had lost his best friend and I couldn't help but sit down next to him and try to take him in my arms. Even though John had always been thin work on the farm had developed him into a goodly sized man. He was tall and his shoulders were broad and though he may not have been considered beautiful by many, I thought he was.

I put my arms as far around him as I could and rested my cheek against his back. Then I just sat and held him until he felt he could get up.

"John," I said keeping hold of his hand, "If I'm making more of whatever it is you need, do you think you could wait maybe until tomorrow, maybe then I'll have enough. Or, maybe you could just take a little bit now and then wait for me to catch up to you?" I wondered at time if there was anything that I could do to make it quicker for him.

John thought about my suggestion and decided to try to wait. The silo wasn't a bad place, there was water near by, and lots of food, even if it wasn't very palatable. Even though it wasn't safe to light a fire it was warm enough if John held me and the bags weren't that uncomfortable to sleep on. And that's what we did, we went to sleep.

I woke up as if from a dream, but a nice dream. John was leaning over me and he had my arms in his hands and his tentacles were wrapped gently around my wrists. I smiled up at him sleepily and he bent forward and touched my lips with his. There was no pain this time, just a faint sense of something moving inside of me. It was soft and pleasant and I was so comfortable in his embrace. I wanted to stay that way forever, but it was only moments before John slowly released my arms. His lips were still on mine however and slowly they opened and gently he gave me my first real kiss.

Somehow we managed to remove our clothing, most of it anyway. I don't know if John had ever before had a woman, I don't really see how he could have without me knowing as we lived in such a small town, but he was as gentle as if he knew exactly what he was doing. It was uncomfortable and not entirely painless I knew that he loved me and now knew how to express what we always were to each other.

John was much happier after that, he was never uncertain again and never again suggested that I leave him. We had no idea how much further we had to go, but we were working our way though places with more building and people in them then either of us had ever seen. Hiding Johns arms was less of a problem, it was so cold that everyone was bundled up and the long lose coat that John constantly wore drew no sideways glances at all. We also began to see a few simes. They always had these band things around their arms though. I wanted to go up to them and see if they could help, but John seemed terrified by the prospect and insisted we keep on as we had been.

Knowing how to read would have been good at this stage. We still had some money left and there was a railway line that seemed to be heading in the right direction. Without knowing where we were going however it was a bit hard to buy tickets. We finally got over that hurdle, however, by simply waiting for a train that was going in the right direction. John picked me up as if I were no more then a bag of the wheat we had been sleeping on, slung me over his shoulder much like he would have that same bag, and ran along side the train as if left the station. When he was close enough he tossed me into the open freight car and leaped in after me. I was suitably impressed with this and my eyes were shining with pride at his strength and speed. Before long we were once again in each other's arms and I must say that it certainly gets better with practice.

We stayed on that train until after dark. As it pulled into a station John got the feeling that we should get off. As usual he was right. We got off just before it stopped but we were close enough to hear someone shouting that the train terminated there and everyone had to get off. In only minutes people were all over that train, unpacking and stacking and getting off and moving about.

We stayed just below the end of the platform and waited for the people to stop moving about. This time when I suggested that we talk to someone John agreed. We decided that I would go and ask, less chance of him being caught and we figured that I wasn't in any danger anyway.

I went around to the front of the station so I wouldn't look so suspicious. There was a man in uniform there writing something in a book. I took a deep breath, tried to stop my heart from pounding in such a noisy fashion, and walked up to him.

"'Secuse me please," for a moment I thought he was going to ignore me, "Can you please tell me the way to the place where the simes live?"

I didn't know if he was going to yell or laugh for a moment. In the end he decided to do neither. In stead he lent forward in a way I particularly disliked and said "and what would you be wanting to know that for little lady." John and I had discussed what I were to say if asked a question like that so it didn't leave me lost for words. "My brother is there and I'm going to visit him."

The man seemed to lose interest and went back to writing in his book. "Don' t know what you'd be wanting to visit any dirty old sime for kid," he said, his voice deeper and more hostile. "But if you keep heading north you will come to New Town eventually, I hear they got a new place up there"

My heart leapt for joy, we finally had a name to head for. I kept repeating "New Town, New Town." Not so much because I was scared of forgetting it, but because it sounded so beautiful.

We traveled for a few more weeks in the same fashion. John was still timid about being around people so we went round and about and probably covered more ground then was really necessary. Once again we noticed a few simes around. They all looked uncomfortable and they were all wearing those bands around their wrists. We didn't understand why they would want to wear anything so obviously painful. If only we had known about restrainers! Any sime not wearing restrainer in gen territory could and would be brutally but quite legally killed.

Often John had to augment to get us out of trouble, although it was never so close as it had been at the shop that day. Being in a city there were more people to run and hide from, and less places to hide and we wouldn't have gotten away. But by augmenting John could get us food, not that he ate much, and a couple of time he came back with some cleaner and less worn clothing. It seemed, too, that he just liked augmenting.

During this time John required transfer (although we didn't call it that of course) about every ten days or so. I guess it was because he was augmenting so much. Thankfully I always had enough to give him, and I was beginning to be actively looking forward to the aftermath as well!

We knew we were getting closer. It was now so cold that there was even some snow around.

This next bit isn't nice Monika, I'm not sure I want to write it. But I can hear you saying "You have to be honest with yourself, you have to face the facts before you can move on." Just don't say I didn't warn you.

We had spent the night in a fairly quiet, deserted area in some city or other, I never got the names clear even when we did hear them. John had broken the lock on a building that looked like a large shed. There was no heat, and even with John holding me and all the clothes and blankets we could find piled up I still felt like I was going to freeze solid. John was worried about me, I could feel that, and I wanted to tell him that it would be fine, but I couldn't stop my teeth from chattering. Somehow I managed to sleep, I don't think that John did. When I woke up he made sure I was ok and said he was going to go out and see if he couldn't get me some solid food. What I wanted more at that time was water, and I was over at a tap, trying to work out how I could get it defrosted enough to get water out of it when I heard a noise behind me.

There, in the doorway stood a group of people. With my eyes use to the dimness of the shed and the light from the morning sun behind them I couldn't tell any more then that. Then they swaggered in....

"Well, look what we have here" said this tall man in the front. As he moved towards me and I could see better I reaTeeed that he wasn't much older then John, but he wasn't sime. At his back stood four or five boys around the same age. I was alarmed at the thought that John could come back at any moment and this gang didn't look like the type that just drop in for a drink and a chat.

"Just what do you think you are doing in our warehouse honey?" the tall one said. "That's trespassing isn't it guys." The others sniggered and agreed and one of them laughed out loud.

"I see you slept here last night sweet one. You will have to pay rent for that"

I was beginning to see that John wasn't the only one that was in danger here and my heart started pounding. "Hell Groat, she is a skinny little kid, how about we just get our stuff and get out of here?" Groat, the tall one who seemed to be the boss turned to the boy who spoke "Shut up you, if you want to get out now, get! But I'm going to get my rent."

They were between me and the door and it is doubtful that I could outrun them even if they weren't. Before I knew it they had grabbed me and thrown me down onto our bedding, still slightly warm from the night before. Despite my predicament I couldn't stop my teeth chattering from the cold.

"You cold honey?" the one called Groat asked mockingly, "don't worry, me and my mates here will keep you warm." and they laughed.

Two of them had me held down so I couldn't move. They seems to know what to do, as if they had practiced it, or at least done it before. Groat kneeled down between my legs and proceeded to remove any clothing that was in his way. I'll say this for him though - he could have striped me completely and left me freeze to death while he got on with it, but he didn't. He only removed what he needed to. He then proceeded to rape me. All I want to say is that it was more painful then anything with John, even the first time.

I don't know how far John had been away when he "felt" my pain. But he came running in under full augmentation and was amongst them before they knew what hit them. Even thought John was a sime, even with the lessons learnt from my father, violence didn't come easy to John. He was stronger then they were, faster then they were, but there were more of them, they knew what they were doing, and they were use to working as a team.

John grabbed one of the guys holding me and threw him against a wall. Immediately two others slammed into him, knocking him down and to the side. Groat jumped up and yelled "It's a sime! He doesn't have restrainers!" The remaining four moved more cautiously then, a couple of them pulled knives from various places.

"Ri, Run!" John yelled, and to my horror I found myself doing exactly that. I got as far as the door before I managed to control my panic and stop. I turned around, but it was too late.

John was down on the floor in the middle of what looked like a dark shadow. I reaTeeed it was his blood. He was bleeding from both arms, they had cut his arms right across the laterals, exactly where it would do the most harm. I stood there in shock, and it seemed to me that I could see the silver haze of the life force I had so lovingly provided for John pluming upwards from his arms. Even as I watched it stopped, and I knew that John was dead.

What happened after that is a bit of a blur. I remember running and running until I was stopped by an old man who took me into a place called a church. They let me stay there, and seemed especially excited over the old burn marks on my arms, but when I asked them to take me to the sime centre in New Town they called me a "dirty sime lover" and threw me out. I found out later it was a place called the "Church of Purity".

I sort of remember snatches of things, the time that the strange old man gave me some hot food out of a tin can and the way he shared what little he had with his dog. The woman who took me in and bathed me and gave me clean clothes to wear and seemed to assume that I was going to stay there so that I had to climb out the window to get away from her. Especially I remember the two people with the star pendants they seemed to set such a store on who took me to the very corner of the sime center before leaving me. They said "Good luck" as I walked up the stair and entered the centre for the first time.

That's it Monika, that's the full story. I can't honestly say that I feel better for writing it down, but maybe it takes time to heal. Anyway, I have you and Nesa and Ven and Trish and Franc now. Nothing can replace John, but knowing that by working with you I may be able to prevent similar things happening to other young simes will maybe make Johns death less senseless.

Today is the 97th day in the death count of John, son of Dent.