Stranded in Gumgeeville: Episode 2

Ma Mullins is stirring a rather thin cabbage and potato stew on the stove. She watered it for two additional mouths, rather than part with more ingredients. Ma intends to keep some of the money back for household expenses, rather than repaying their principal creditor, and isn't going to blow that margin on pampering their guests.

Jed stumbles up to the door of his house. He's home a bit early from his usual afternoon at the saloon after hearing that the stationmaster sent a guy to his house to find a room for a Sime.

Jed opens the door, enters, removes his coat and hat and shakes the snow off them out the door, hangs them on a hook, and sits down on a bench to pull off his boots.

Ma hears a familiar thumping in the entry way, somewhat earlier than she expected.

Ma: That you, Jed?

Jed: Yeah, yeah, who else?

Jed drops the boots on the rack and heads into the kitchen.

Ma: Bartender cut you off?

Jed: Naw, I heard that bastard sent you the Sime instead of some decent boarders. How he expects to get paid back is beyond me. As if we'd take a Sime in the house for any money.

Ma's lips thin.

Jed: Kill us in our beds, those monsters.

Ma: Beggars can't be choosers, Jed.

Jed: Who's begging? Boys out feeding the stock, are they?

Ma: Yes. They got a late start, what with moving their things and all.

Ma goes back to stirring the soup, although burning might actually have improved the flavor.

Jed leans against the side of the cookstove to warm up.

Jed: Big pot of soup. We gonna eat it all week?

Ma: No. We got company.

Ma says this in spite of there being no extra places set at the table.

Jed: Company? Not your miserable sister and her brats again, is it?

Ma: No. Our boarders.

Jed: What? You got some boarders after all?

Ma: Yeah. The ones we were sent. Who else would pay money for a room in this dump? ~~ defensive ~~

Jed: Ralf told me that bastard sent you the Sime and his whore. He send you some other ones after you turned them away?

Ma: Jed...I didn't turn them away.

Jed: You what!! There hasn't been a Sime under this roof since my dad shot my sister!

Ma: We need the money.

Jed: Money! What if he kills us, or one of the kids? What's that worth?

Ma thinks that it would be worth quite a bit, if Jed's bar tab was removed from the family finances, but doesn't quite dare to say to.

Ma: He's s'posed to be one of them channels. And he's got a Gen with him, who'll be a lot closer if he gets hungry for more than cabbage.

Jed tries to decide whether he should assert his masculinity by saying he'll throw the Sime out, or by demanding his woman throw them out, or just huff and puff a bit more and find out how much cash is involved.

Ma: He seemed a high class sort, if you don't look at his arms.

Jed: Well, they have to wear those manacle things here, or it's legal to shoot them, so I guess it's more or less safe.

Ma: Well...

Ma shoots a glance towards the closed door of their sons' room, which sports a crisp sign that wasn't there that morning.

Ma: He's got to wear 'em out here.

Jed: You mean you got a live Sime in our boys' room with his tentacles out so he can kill? Are you mad, woman? What's he paying you for this?

Ma names the figure, somewhat reluctantly.

Jed's eyes light up.

Ma: Now, Jed, you know that's lots more than anyone else is getting.

Jed: Clever, woman, clever...

Ma: We can pay a good installment on the loan, and settle our tab with the grocer, and still get the kids new shirts.

Jed pats his wife's buttock, and gives her a big beery kiss.

Jed: That's my girl.

Jed has other plans for some of the money but doesn't elaborate on them.

Jed: I wonder how long it's gonna take 'em to clear the pass. Still snowing hard out there.

Ma: Let's hope it goes to another week. Then we could afford to fix the roof.

Jed figures if anybody hassles him about taking in a Sime, he can tell them they wouldn't have the courage to sleep under the same (deteriorating) roof with one, like he does.

Ma ladles two steaming bowls of the stew into the least cracked bowls, and sets them on a battered tray.

Jed: Well, I guess he can stay in there and the Gen can wait on him.

Ma: Here, go give 'em their dinners, while I set the table. The boys'll be in soon.

Jed: Who, me? Get his Gen out here to wait on him. Aw, shit, I'll do it.

Ma hands the tray to Jed.

Jed strides over to the rented room and knocks.

Ma notes that Jed is being more tractable than usual, probably in hopes of getting his bar tab on the short list of bills to be paid.

Jed: The Gen can come out here and get this food. ~~ bravado ~~

Jed steps well back.

Seruffin cautiously opens the door, holding his finger to his lips in a request for quiet. His tentacles are politely retracted.

Seruffin: Quiet, please, if you don't mind. Gerrhonot is sleeping.

Jed sees a Sime arm, raised, and steps back rapidly, slopping soup out of the bowls and onto the tray.

Seruffin tries to look disarmingly polite, civilized, and generally non-threatening. He's careful not to cross the threshold of his room.

Jed: You stand well back, Sime, and I'll put the tray on the floor for you.

Seruffin: Certainly, if it makes you feel more comfortable, although there really isn't any reason for you to be alarmed.

Jed: ~~ total distrust ~~~

Seruffin steps backwards a step or two, putting him in the middle of the clos..., er, "room".

Seruffin: As I'm sure your wife would have told you, I'm a Tecton channel.

Jed tries hard not to let the bowls clatter in his shaking hands as he quickly puts the tray on the threshold and backs up.

Jed: She just told me you're a Sime. That's bad enough for me.

Gerrhonot wakes up at all the commotion.

Seruffin: Ah, then I understand your apprehension. Still, you and your family are in no danger from me. Is that soup? Just the thing for a cold winter night. Thank you.

Gerrhonot: Hajene? What's going on? ~~ semi-conscious ~~

Gerrhonot realizes the door is open, and a stranger is talking to his channel, who is trying to calm him down.

Seruffin turns to Gerrhonot and replies in English, rather than Simelan.

Seruffin: Mr. Mullins has kindly brought our supper.

Gerrhonot's nager reaches out to support his channel even before Gerrhonot himself absorbs what's happening.

Gerrhonot: Um, thank you Mr. Mullins.

Gerrhonot gets up and goes the step or two to the door, blinking sleepily. He puts his arm around Seruffin. ~~ support ~~ ~~ protection ~~

Jed shudders to see this contact, and examines Gerrhonot curiously.

Seruffin pats Gerrhonot's hand in thanks, and carelessly allows a tentacle to emerge to stroke it.

Jed: ~~ alarm ~~ ~~ disgust ~~ ~~ prurient interest ~~

Seruffin retracts his tentacle, then looks back at Jed.

Seruffin: Gerrhonot is my Donor, Mr. Mullins.

Jed: Yeah. Whatever you say. ~~ shiver ~~~

Jed thinks this is just too weird. Is the Gen on drugs? He doesn't look too bright, and he's sleeping in the daytime.

Jed: Yeah, well, you enjoy your supper, both of yez.

Jed gets the willies at the thought of what Simes really "eat".

Seruffin: Thank you, we will.

Jed: You can just put the tray outside the door when you're done.

Seruffin considers, then decides that perhaps a more open confrontation is in order.

Seruffin: Mr. Mullins, is something bothering you about Gerrhonot?

Jed has heard stories that Simes can read minds, but he doesn't think his own mind is being read very accurately.

Jed: No, just gives me the creeps, seeing him touch you like that, and your tentacles...

Gerrhonot: Hajene Seruffin is channel, Mr. Mullins, he could never harm anybody. He's like a doctor.

Seruffin extends the dorsals on his right arm part way, looking at them in a contemplative fashion.

Seruffin: It's true, I have tentacles. They're no threat to you, however, Mr. Mullins.

Jed stares at the tentacles ~~ fascinated ~~ ~~ shivers ~~

Jed: Yeah, I know. You're no berserker. I heard about you guys. My dad was in the army in the war.

Seruffin nods gravely.

Jed: He even let you people take his ... stuff ... a couple of times. ~~ shiver ~~~

Seruffin: He participated in the final battle?

Jed: No, he broke his leg a couple weeks before that.

Seruffin: I am sorry to hear that he was injured. I trust it healed all right?

Jed is feeling a lot more sober than when he came home.

Jed: Yeah, he was okay. It wasn't a bad break.

Seruffin: If he told you of his experiences, then you know that he took no harm from being touched by a channel.

Jed: He said it didn't hurt none.

Jed is still staring at the exposed tentacles in ~~ fascination ~~

Jed: Can I ... can I touch one?

Seruffin thinks fascination, however shivery, is an improvement over outright revulsion.

Gerrhonot steps up his support. ~~ concern ~~

Seruffin: Of course, if you wish.

Seruffin takes a step closer to the door, and extends one dorsal in as casual a fashion as he can conveniently manage.

Jed reaches out his hand very slowly, stopping about halfway between himself and Seruffin. He quickly reaches forward and touches the tentacle, then pauses and runs his finger over it.

Jed: It's like my dad said, it's not slimy.

Seruffin smiles.

Seruffin: No, it's not. Only my laterals are moist.

Seruffin wonders if Jed's father ever got around to describing a lateral contact.

Jed: My sister.... well, he shot her before hers came out.

Jed puts both hands behind his back.

Gerrhonot: ~~ sadness ~~ pity ~~

Seruffin: That must have been very difficult for all of you, to lose a member of your family.

Jed: The preacher said it was God's curse on my dad for letting the Simes touch him when he was in the war but none of us believed that shit. We never went to church again after that

Jed looks Seruffin in the eye for the first time.

Jed: He had to shoot her.

Seruffin: With no channel available, and no Gen who could survive giving her transfer, that was probably kindest for everyone. Perhaps someday, it won't be necessary for parents here to murder their children, or see them kill.

Jed: I hope my boys are safe. They're twelve and fifteen, now. They'll be safe in a few years. You can tell, can't you?

Seruffin: I haven't had the pleasure of meeting them yet, but if they have established as Gens, then yes, I'll be able to tell.

Jed: I'll... talk to my wife about it.

Seruffin: I'm at your service.

Jed: I'll let you eat before it gets cold. If you want anything else, have your friend here come out and ask for it.

Jed backs away, turns and heads for the kitchen.

Seruffin: Thank you.

Jed stops and turns.

Jed: You're welcome, Mister.

Seruffin smiles and nods, then gestures for Gerrhonot to pick up the tray, which isn't quite inside the room.

Gerrhonot picks up the tray, closes the door, and sits on the bed.

Gerrhonot: Here, Hajene. Try to eat some. I'll help you.

Seruffin takes the bowl, and wrinkles his nose.

Seruffin: I never was fond of cabbage, but I'll try.

Gerrhonot: Me, neither. Oh, well.... ~~ appetite tinged faintly with disgust ~~ She promised us cornbread with drippings, and I told her no drippings for us... so we get cabbage soup. It doesn't seem fair, does it.

Gerrhonot: Hajene... you were really good with that man.

Seruffin: Thank you, Gerrhonot. It seemed well worth the effort to try to calm him down, if we're going to be living in his house for a while.

Gerrhonot: You weren't just being practical. You were being kind. ~~ affection ~~ ~~ admiration ~~

Seruffin takes a cautious sip of the soup.

Gerrhonot: ~~~ encouragement ~~ ~~ forced appetite ~~~

Seruffin: I don't like to see people upset for no good reason. Especially Gens.

Seruffin shrugs.

Seruffin: It's part of being a channel, I suppose.

Gerrhonot also tries some soup. ~~~ yummmm (yuck) ~~~ He thinks about other channels he knows, like Bollit and Arat and Neptude.

Gerrhonot: Well, a lot of channels don't act that way. I'm really lucky to be with you. ~~ contentment ~~ gratitude ~~

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: You're flattering me outrageously.

Seruffin doesn't exactly mind, though.

Gerrhonot smiles. He's glad Seruffin is feeling better. He was worried about him. He looked so stressed on the train.

Gerrhonot: Well, imagine if Arat were here instead of you. Or Neptude.

Gerrhonot winks at Seruffin in a somewhat exaggerated way, emulating Seruffin's winks. ~~ love ~~ ~~ devotion ~~ ~~ happiness ~~

Seruffin looks around at their closet-sized room.

Seruffin: Somehow, I can't visualize Arat in a place like this.

Gerrhonot: What do you think Nick would have done for him?

Seruffin: We can't know. They'd have managed somehow, I expect.

Seruffin nibbles on a chunk of potato.

Jed knocks on the door.

Gerrhonot: I better get that. You stay there.

Seruffin: Very well.

Gerrhonot opens the door.

Gerrhonot: Yes, Mr. Mullins?

Jed: That soup's awful. I brought you some bread and cheese and apples.

Jed offers a plate.

Seruffin sets his bowl of stew aside, somewhat faster than is strictly polite.

Gerrhonot: Thank you. That looks good.

Gerrhonot takes the plate.

Seruffin: That's very generous of you, Mr. Mullins.

Jed: She's a good woman, smart too, but she's a lousy cook, just like her mother. I think you'll like this better. Good night.

Jed leaves, closing the door.

Ma is standing in the middle of the main room, glaring at her husband.

Ma: I heard that. If you don't like my cooking, you should try it.

Jed: Give it a rest, Ma. Some people just don't like cabbage. Especially when you boil the shit out of it all day long.

Ma: What you doing, giving the Sime apples and cheese. Don't you know what they cost?

Jed: He's all right. And he's paying for it. Thirty a night. You're a real sharp bargainer, Ma.

Jed smiles at his wife.

Ma: It don't help us none, if they eat all of it themselves.

Jed: Besides, he said he'd have a look at the boys, tell us if they're safe yet.

Ma: Jed Mullins, there are times when I wonder where you keep your brains! You know that Sime don't mean looking with his eyes. You want him putting his slimy tentacles all over our boys? That's what it'd take, you know.

Jed: They can tell from across the room, further even, my dad said. They can hunt a Gen in the woods. And he was right that they aren't slimy too.

Ma: He said that?

Jed: My dad said they aren't, and I touched one of this Sime's and my dad was right. They aren't.

Ma's faces wrinkles in utter ~~ disgust ~~

Ma: You touched one?

Jed: Yeah.

Ma: What'd you do that for?

Jed: To see what it was like. You think I'm afraid to touch a Sime?

Ma: What sane person would want to?

Jed: Hey, don't you know you married a real brave man?

Jed tries to put his arm around Ma.

Ma shrugs it off.

Ma: There's courage, and then there's bravado. And recklessness.

Ma has often accused Jed of recklessness, particularly with respect to the family finances.

Jed: That Sime's okay. He's high class, like you said. He talks like the schoolteacher, but more refined even.

Ma: No Sime's "okay", Jed. They all live on Gens, even the ones that don't kill 'em. Even the ones who talk like schoolteachers.

Jed: Well, he's got a good one in there to live off of, and the Gen don't mind. I think he even likes to have the Sime touch him, even with tentacles.

Ma: Whore.

Ma's face wrinkles again.

Jed: Hey, better him than us, eh?

Jed tries to put his arm around Ma again.

Ma: Just don't you get too chummy with the Sime, Jed, thinking he's a gentleman. That's the way Gens end up...taken advantage of.

Jed: At thirty a night it's not me getting taken advantage of. You shrewd old woman you.

Jed smiles broadly.

Ma: Their money's as good as anyone's. Just don't think that Sime won't have his tentacles all over you, if you give him a chance. Just like he did this afternoon, to that Gen of his. I saw it.

Ma shudders in revulsion.

Jed: You saw them doing it? ~~ prurient interest ~~

Ma: Nah, not really doing it. Just...fooling around like they was going to.

Jed: Fooling around?

Jed laughs out loud and gooses his wife.

Jed: Fooling around!

Ma: Not that way. The Sime had his tentacles all over that Gen's arms.

Jed: And what was the Gen doing?

Ma: Nothin'. He seemed to like it, almost. The selyn whore. Really, Jed, do you want that Sime doin' that kind of thing to you? Tentacles all over your arms?

Jed: Why not? You're the one who rented him the room. Your high-class Sime. I hear they pay you for your stuff, in Sime Territory. Maybe I should sell him mine. Like you say, we need the money.

Ma: Jed Mullins, I always thought your father was touched in the head from what he went through in the war, but must run in your family.'re kidding me, ain't you? Shame on you.

Jed: Well, he did it, and he said it didn't hurt none.

Ma: Neither does shoveling out the cess pit, but that don't make it pleasant.

Jed: Will you do it if I do? You're the one always bitching about money.

Ma: I ain't doin' it, because there's no way even you would do such a thing.

Jed: I betcha I'll do it. If I do it, you do it. Deal?

Ma: How much did you have to drink tonight, anyway?

Jed holds out his hand to shake on the deal.

Ma: ~~ suspicious ~~ Oh well, yeah. It's a deal.

Jed shakes on the deal with his wife.

Ma is pretty sure that Jed will have forgotten all about in the morning, particularly if he's got a bad hangover.

Jed: Look, the boys will be in from the barn shortly, we'll get the Sime to check 'em out, and then we'll sell him our stuff, Okay?

Ma: What about dinner? It'll get cold.

Ma's cabbage stew is bad enough hot; cold, it lacks even that one redeeming feature.

Jed: That soup's been boiling all day. Another ten minutes can't make it much worse.

Bart pushes open the door and enters with his brother Vrian and a blast of snow and wind.

Ma: Here they come. Boys, did you remember to close the goat's pen tightly?

Bart: Yeah, yeah. How's the Sime? Do we get to see him? Did you feed him yet?

Jed: Yeah, we fed him and his buddy both.

Ma finds the references to Simes and feeding unfortunate, given her husband's "deal".

Jed: You boys want to see him?

Bart exchanges a look with his brother, who looks just as eager.

Bart: Yeah. We never saw a live Sime. We can tell all the other kids.

Jed: Well, Ma, no time like the present to further our children's education, eh?

Ma: Humph. Go ahead, then.

Jed: You boys get your coats and boots off and comb your hair and we'll see if he wants to meet you.

Jed wouldn't be stalling would he? Maybe he's just building up suspense.

Bart: Yeah! C'mon Vrian.

Ma: Don't forget to wash up! [yelled after them]

Bart and his brother quickly strip off their outer clothing and comb their hair. Well, they splash a little water on their faces and rinse their hands, too.

Bart: Okay, Dad, we're ready.

Jed: Now remember to be polite. And don't make any fast moves. And don't be afraid. They can smell fear and it gets them excited.

Jed likes to dramatize things.

Bart and his brother exchange looks again.

Bart: We're not afraid if you aren't, dad.

Jed: Okay, come with me.

Jed goes to the Sime Territory door with his sons close behind.

Ma could have gone without the reminder of Sime susceptibility to Gen fear.

Seruffin looks up as Jed's nager approaches the door.

Jed knocks on the door.

Seruffin: Gerrhonot, I believe we have company.

Gerrhonot: Um, are they okay? ~~ support ~~

Seruffin: Perhaps you ought to answer it. Mr. Mullins and his wife seem a bit nervous.

Gerrhonot: Okay, Hajene.

Gerrhonot opens the door.

Gerrhonot: Hi, Mr. Mullins.

Jed: Hello again. I wanted to introduce you two to my sons. Come closer, boys.

Bart and his brother look at the strangers in their room and their eyes fix on Seruffin's arms.

Seruffin stays seated, so as to appear less threatening.

Jed: This one's Bart and this one's Vrian. Vrian's named after my dad.

Seruffin: I'm pleased to meet the two of you.

Bart looks at the Sime, looks at his dad, and determines to be polite.

Seruffin: I'm Hajene Seruffin, and this is my Donor, Sosu Gerrhonot.

Bart sticks out his hand.

Bart: Pleased to meet you, Mister.

Seruffin stands, and takes the two steps to the door.

Seruffin: And I, you.

Bart glares at his brother, who echoes both his words and actions.

Seruffin extends his hand towards Bart's, tentacles retracted, slowly enough that Bart can evade it if he chooses.

Bart touches Seruffin's hand, then grabs it and shakes firmly.

Gerrhonot moves up and puts his hand on his channel's shoulder, ~~ protecting ~~ him with his field.

Seruffin returns the handshake, careful to release Bart's hand as soon as he starts to withdraw.

Bart: [whispers to his brother] You do it too, wimp!

Seruffin does not have to zlin very hard to catch Bart's Gen nager, which although not as strong as a mature Gen's, is quite obvious.

Bart's brother Vrian takes Seruffin's hand more gently, and quickly lets go.

Seruffin still has time enough to zlin....nothing.

Jed looks at Seruffin with a serious and pleading expression. ~~ hopeful ~~

Seruffin: Bart, did you know that you're already a Gen?

Bart: Wow! Am I? ~~ confusion ~~ joy ~~ fear ~~ Uh, maybe I shouldn't have touched you?

Seruffin: I'm a channel, Bart. You can't hurt me by touching me.

Seruffin isn't telling the entire truth, but it's close enough.

Bart: Dad, I don't have to wait until I'm sixteen to get my rifle now, right?

Gerrhonot is a little concerned about all this commotion, but Seruffin seems to be doing all right.

Jed: We'll talk about it later, Bart.

Seruffin was finding the prospect of spending days locked up in a closet rather dull, actually, and is glad of the company.

Bart: How about my brother?

Seruffin turns to Vrian.

Seruffin: You're still a child, Vrian. There's no indication of what you'll be as an adult, yet. No sign of establishment, or changeover either.

Jed looks at his younger son, who seems much subdued.

Jed: Don't worry, Vrian, everything will turn out all right.

Seruffin thinks that given the boy's size, his father may well be right, but it would be unprofessional to speculate.

Jed: Thanks for that. ~~ sincerity ~~ Uh... I heard that in Simeland, they pay Gens for their... uh ... stuff.

Seruffin: Selyn. Yes, the Tecton does pay for donations.

Jed: Just ordinary Gens, not people like your friend?

Seruffin zlins Jed closely, speculating on what he might be leading up to.

Jed: ~~ trepidation ~~ ~~ determination ~~ ~~ bravado ~~

Ma looks at Jed with ~~ disbelief ~~, not having dreamed that he'd actually go through with his insane idea.

Seruffin: Yes, indeed. That's what channels do: take the selyn Gens donate, and give it to Simes who have no choice but to kill, otherwise.

Seruffin waits patiently for Jed to make up his mind, keeping his tentacles retracted.

Jed: Well, things haven't been going so good for us, and we got some debts, and I figure if my dad could do it, I can do it, and my wife says she will if I will.

Seruffin might be a channel, but he'd rather not zlin three Gens getting spooked.

Jed: So if you're buying, we're selling. ~~ determined ~~

Seruffin considers for a moment, glancing at Gerrhonot.

Gerrhonot is watching Seruffin closely for cues. ~~ calm ~~ ~~ strong ~~ ~~ reliable ~~~

Seruffin can think of more optimal situations for taking a donation from a nervous Gen. He doesn't believe in turning away donations, however, and his stay at the Dam was sufficient to demonstrate to him just how much can be accomplished in sub-optimal conditions.

Seruffin: Certainly, if you wish to donate.

Jed swallows, summons up his courage and says: "I do."

Seruffin steps back, inviting Jed inside the room with a gesture.

Ma is reminded of the children's rhyme about the spider inviting the fly into his parlor.

Jed steps forward into the room. ~~ determined ~~ He's not going to let his wife and sons see him back down now.

Seruffin reaches for the door to close it.

Jed: ~~ alarm ~~

Seruffin stops at the nageric outburst.

Jed: Uh, I don't mind if they watch. Something for the boys to tell their friends.

Seruffin: Ah, I see.

Seruffin suspects it has more to do with Jed's own reliance on bravado.

Jed feels safer with the door open, and his family close by, although he isn't really conscious of it.

Seruffin isn't crazy about trying to take a donation with a hostile audience (at least on Ma's part) so close by, but doesn't see any way to back out of it gracefully.

Seruffin: Very well.

Jed: If the wife sees it don't hurt none, like my father said, it'll be easier for her.

Ma thinks it would be easier still if she didn't do it at all, but a deal is a deal. She ended up married to Jed through that kind of backwards reasoning.

Bart watches his brave father with ~~ admiration ~~.

Seruffin: Why don't you sit down on the bed there, Mr. Mullins. There's no reason not to be comfortable.

Seruffin gestures to the bed along the far wall, as far away as practical from the door.

Jed: Okay.

Jed sits down and rolls up his sleeves.

Seruffin waits until Jed is seated, then approaches in a casual fashion. He makes sure Gerrhonot is close by, however.

Jed sits there, outwardly calm and self-assured, but with a very elevated heart rate and blood pressure. He watches Seruffin's approach without moving.

Seruffin: Donating is very simple, Mr. Mullins. I do all the work, so all you have to do is hold still.

Jed: Well, my wife will tell you, doing nothing is something I'm good at.

Ma snorts.

Ma: That's for sure.

Seruffin: Then you shouldn't find this difficult at all.

Jed: This time I'm getting paid for it!

Seruffin chuckles. He sits next to Jed, signaling Gerrhonot to move in beside him.

Gerrhonot puts his hand on Seruffin's shoulder and provides ~~ strong support ~~ and ~~ nageric isolation ~~. He smiles at Jed.

Gerrhonot: Don't worry, Mr. Mullins. Hajene Seruffin is a very good channel.

Seruffin: You won't feel anything at all when I take your selyn, but you will feel a bit of a tingling from the selyn conductor on my laterals. It's not unpleasant, though, as Gerrhonot can tell you.

Gerrhonot: Well, I like it.

Gerrhonot smiles in an even more friendly and disarming manner.

Seruffin holds out his hands, tentacles retracted.

Seruffin: Go ahead and give me your hands, when you're ready.

Jed hesitates a moment, takes a deep breath and put his hands on the channel's.

Seruffin waits a moment for Jed to settle.

Seruffin: All right, now I'm going to extend my handling tentacles. You already know how they feel.

Jed: Yes...

Seruffin slips his hands down to Jed's wrists, letting his handling tentacle reinforce the grip. He hopes that Jed can hold still, but isn't going to bet his laterals on it. He is a Sime first, and a diplomat second, after all.

Jed is ~~ determined ~~ to look good in front of his family.

Seruffin breathes a silent sigh of relief.

Seruffin: Now I'm going to make lateral contact. I told you, it tingles a bit. Okay?

Jed: You go right ahead. I'm just fine here. ~~ tense ~~~

Bart and his brother are watching in ~~ awe ~~ at their father's courage.

Seruffin leans on Gerrhonot's support a bit more, then lets his laterals slide into place.

Jed: ~~ slightly creepy feeling ~~ ~~ determined to look good ~~

Ma is watching with ~~ fascinated horror ~~. She really had no idea, when she took the Sime's money, that she would be subjected to a show like this. Or that it would be audience participation.

Jed: No problem.

Seruffin smiles slightly, as if he believed Jed.

Seruffin: Good. The donation will take about a minute. I'll let you make lip contact when you're ready.

Jed summons up his courage and leans forward to make the contact. He has a sudden rush of ~~ amusement ~~ as he imagines what the kids he grew up with would think of him kissing a man, much less a Sime. He feels rather ~~ calm ~~ now that he's totally committed to going through with it.

Seruffin is glad of that, at least, although the nageric noise from the door isn't helping matters. He zlins Jed quickly but thoroughly, then sets about gleaning the selyn from his GN-3 level.

Ma makes a shocked and disgusted noise at the sight. She really does not like Simes.

Jed stays ~~ calm ~~ but is a bit ~~ impatient ~~ for the channel to start doing it to him. He's ~~ curious ~~ too, about what it's going to feel like. He doesn't believe he can have his life essence sucked out and not feel anything.

Seruffin finishes gleaning the readily available selyn, but doesn't try for more, given the cluttered ambient. He relinquishes lip contact when he's done.

Seruffin: There you are. It's all over.

Jed: You did it? I didn't feel anything!

Seruffin smiles.

Jed: Shit! It's like my dad said.

Seruffin: I told you that you wouldn't.

Jed smiles back. ~relief ~~

Seruffin: Hold still a moment more, while I retract my laterals.

Seruffin doesn't let the relief tempt him into loosening his hold too much, until his laterals are safely back in their sheaths. He lets Jed go, sheathing his handling tentacles, as well.

Bart is also ~~ relieved ~~ that his dad got through it alive and well, but he's still impressed at his dad's heroism.

Jed stands up.

Jed: Well, that was okay. How much did I make?

Gerrhonot keeps up his ~~ steady strong support ~~ while Seruffin recovers from the functional.

Seruffin names a sum.

Jed looks at his wife to make sure she heard that.

Jed: Sounds good. When you coming back through here again? This sure beats working!

Seruffin: There is a Sime Center a few stops down the line, if you don't want to wait for another snow storm.

Bart: Hey, Dad, can I do it? I could buy my own rifle.

Ma: No!

Bart: He said I'm a Gen, so I've got stuff to sell too!

Seruffin looks at Ma, and Bart.

Seruffin: Perhaps some other time. I believe your mother's dinner is ready, and you wouldn't want it to be ruined, would you?

Jed: Well, Ma, we've got a deal, don't we?

Ma blanches.

Ma: The dinner....

Bart figures he can get the Sime alone some time. If his dad could do it, he can do it.

Seruffin: Another time, then. We really ought to finish our own meal.

Jed: Okay, another time then. Thanks again.

Jed eyes his wife meaningfully, and exits.

Ma's color returns with such patent ~~ relief ~~ that Seruffin makes a mental note to be very sure that Ma really wants to donate, before laying a tentacle tip on her.

Gerrhonot: Good night Mr. Mullins.

Bart: Good night.

Bart pokes his brother, who echoes him. Vrian has had a confusing evening. He feels happy for his brother, but envious and worried about himself.

Gerrhonot closes the door.

Gerrhonot: Was that better than an outfunction, Hajene? ~~ amusement mixed with concern ~~

Seruffin: Well, moderately.

Gerrhonot: No paperwork!

Seruffin: We'll have to improvise as best we can, when we get to our destination.

Gerrhonot sits next to his channel. ~~ devotion ~~ admiration ~~

Gerrhonot: How can I help you?

Seruffin: Just give me a steady field to rest against.

Gerrhonot: ~~ rock steadiness ~~

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