A Companion in Zeor #13
The Legend of the Creeping Need
By Zoe Farris
A tale inspired by Jean Lorrah
I wish to tell you a story. It is a true story. It is a story of a terror that has haunted Simes and Gens for centuries. This terror strikes without warning and without conscience. It even strikes fear into the heart of the toughest of Raiders. This terror from which there is no escape lurks in the darkest of corners, waiting. Waiting to feed on the unsuspecting. It is often zlinned but never seen, and leaves few alive to tell of its passing. Pray that you never meet this terror, because if you do you will never again forget its touch. If you survive at all.
My great grandfather survived one such meeting. He was never the same again. Living with the fear and guilt that it was he who unleashed this terror left him a sad and withdrawn man.
During the last years of his life he would talk of the ghastly fate that awaits anyone who tries to live in that empty town again. This town that was once a ghost town, and is again a ghost town.
He was a middle aged Sime when it happened. He was a Pen owner who took over the business from his father. He was married and had two sons, one of which had changed over. The other son established a year later and was taken to the border and left to make his own way across. They were a relatively happy family who enjoyed life as best as they could.
It was a night with a moonless sky, and strong gusty winds that whistled and bellowed strange melodic sounds through the trees and through any tiny crevice in the house and pens. In the pens the Gens were heard restlessly shuffling about their cells. Considering the Gens were drugged this was highly unusual. Old Jack, as great grandad was known, went to the cells to see what was upsetting the Gens so.
When he got to the door he zlinned what he thought must have been a Sime inside trying to get a free kill. Upon opening the door though old jack found no such Sime yet he still zlinned the driving need of a Sime that was close to attrition. From the far cell came the sound of a muffled scream followed by the hard thud of something hitting the floor, and because old Jack had been zlinning he felt the full brunt of the brutal and sadistic fear induced kill.
He quickly recovered, and enraged went to catch the culprit who had broken into his cells to steal his property, but when he reached the last cell there was no sign of the Sime responsible. He couldnít have gotten away, there were bars at the window that even a small child could not have climbed through them. There was no back door either. The only way out was through the front door and that meant that the culprit had to get past old Jack, and no one had.
On closer inspection old Jack was startled to find the cell door still locked. No one could have gotten in, yet he felt the kill. Looking into the cell Old Jack saw a sight that was to haunt him for the rest of his life.
There had been ten Gens in the end cell and two of them were now dead. The others were huddled into the far corner and quivered in shock as their gazes fixed on the bodies of the two dead Gens. The one closest to the front bars was still standing, well not really standing but whatever force had thrown him against the bars had been so fierce that his shoulders had jammed into the spaces between the bars and left the Gen standing where he died.
The other dead Gen, who looked to be the one old Jack zlinned being killed lay bent and broken up against the back wall. Sitting, slumped forward like a discarded childís doll it stared with glassed eyes at the floor. The face was pale and drawn into some horrifying grin that had tried in vain to release a scream only to have it denied exit. Deep purple bruises covered both arms and the lips were bruised and bloodied from the pressure of the killerís lips.
Old Jack zlinned both Gens and they had been drained completely, not a trace of selyn left in either of them. Every cell had been totally and violently wrenched of itís life.
After removing the bodies old Jack went back to the main house and filled in a report about the mysterious death of two of his Gens. He couldnít allow himself to believe what he suspected so he wrote "Cause of death ==Unknown". Not wanting to bother his wife and son, would they believe him anyway, he didnít mention it and went to bed to an uneasy sleep.
During the early hours of the next morning old Jack awoke to the presence of someone else in the room. His wife was asleep beside him yet he could zlin a third and unfamiliar energy in the room. As he became fully awake the energy source simply vanished. Old Jack didnít go back to sleep that morning, but lay there wondering if he had reawakened the figure from the towns horrifying past.
The next day was uneventful and old Jack began to put the night before down to a nightmare brought on from whatever happened to the Gens. Falling asleep that night was easy as he was tired from the lack of sleep the night before and he was deeply asleep within seconds of hitting his pillow.
Suddenly old Jack was woken by the same presence that had been in the room the night before. As he zlinned he realised that it was hovering over his wife and his wife was flaring extreme fear. The kind of fear that was usually zlinned in wild Gens who have an awareness of their fate.. He went duoconscious to see who was in the room but he saw nothing and no one with his eyes, yet he still zlinned the presence, and it was focused on his wifeís fear.
He watched as his wife raised her arms skywards and her tentacles seemed to wrap around emptiness. Her laterals slowly emerged as if they were trying desperately not to. As his wife slowly opened her eyes and watched her own arms in disbelief she began to toss and struggle as if to free herself from some unseen grasp.
She let out a strangled moan and her eyes bulged as they glassed over and froze in openness to forever stare at that emptiness. Her dead arms fell back onto her now dead body. Tentacles limp around her own arms, laterals still extended, lifeless. Old Jack sat up to wake his wife from what he thought was a dream triggered motion but it was over within the time it took him to sit up and reach for her. He started shaking her and calling her name. He began crying as he realised she was dead. He had known what it was but refused to believe that such a horror could be real, but now he had seen it, no not seen but zlinned. Fear began to rise in him. Fear for his wife, and fear for what he had released.
Old Jack was so focused on his wife that he didnít notice the presence still with him, and when he did notice it was too late. Suddenly his arms were pulled away from his body by some invisible force as he felt the steely grip of tentacles lash about his arms and his own tentacles forced from their sheaths to wrap around these unseen cords of death. Before he could make a sound his lips were sealed with an invisible kiss and his laterals were wrest from their sheaths and tightly bound. He could taste the blood in his mouth as his teeth bit into his own lips.
Shock turned to fear as he felt his system being wrenched inside out as his selyn was being stripped from him. On the verge of death he heard the bedroom door flung open and his son began screaming to him. He thought this would be the last sound he would hear before death carried him away. Instead this invisible killer stopped and as old Jack drifted into unconsciousness he felt sudden fear coming from the void above him. His body was released from the deadly clasp and he fell back onto the bed, barely alive.
The last thing he saw before he lost consciousness was the mask of shear terror on the face of his wife. She too had been drained of her life, her system turned inside out to flow backwards. Killed like a Gen.
Old Jack finally came through after having to be forced to take a kill after he regained consciousness. He refused at first, not wanting to live long enough to have to go through that again, but as his natural instinct for survival overrode his emotions he took the kill and began his physical healing. As old Jack lay on his bed he just kept muttering that they had to leave right away because "it" would come back. It would kill everyone. Him and his son as well as the remaining Gens.
Old Jack told his son that he was sure he knew what it was, or who it had been. It had started several years earlier. One time there were only a few Gens in the cells. These few Gens were the last of a group of wild Gens that had been caught just inside the border.
There had been a child, a pre-Gen, that had been kept in a cell by himself. Old Jack had made this child do menial jobs around the pens and sometimes he would even allow him to work around the yard and in the barn. As the boy became less fearful he would often hide and occasionally he would attempt to escape, without success.
Old Jack let this pass for a while but when he caught the boy trying to unpick the lock of the cell that held the remaining Gens he lost his temper. As he tried to return the boy to his cell the boy began to kick, and claw at old Jackís arms in an attempt to get loose. This sent old Jack into a rage and he picked the boy up by the scruff and threw him violently back into his cell.
Old Jack realised that without fear this boy could be dangerous and from that moment on he treated the boy as if he were already Gen. No longer was the boy allowed out of the pens, and old Jack took his own kill where the boy would witness it and know that Simes were to be feared. Whenever the boy showed any sign of defiance he would grab the boy as he would a kill and terrorise him. The boy was also made to clean the kill room after a kill. The boy learned his lessons well. He became a pitiful, cowering child who shook and whimpered whenever a Sime came near.
Having to collect a new shipment of Gens, old Jack and his son left early one morning so he could do some other business while in town. Some time during that morning this boy went into changeover. When old Jack returned he found his wife agitated and very upset. She had heard screams that afternoon and on investigation found the boy on the verge of death.
He had been so close to the Gens in the next cell, yet he was separated by the thick bars. Sitting, face pressed against the bars his desperation almost overwhelmed her. By the time she went to the house to get the spare keys and returned the boy had died of attrition, arms stretched through the bars in a final frantic attempt to reach life.
After that that old Jack would occasionally find several the Gens drained of their selyn. Usually in that very same cell. Each time it happened there would be more Gens killed and they would be killed more brutally. It was as if whatever was killing them could not be satisfied and each time its need was greater. Old Jack always said it was that boy who killed the Gens, and he was sure it was him that killed his wife, and almost killed him.He also believed that somehow this lurking nonentity still carried with it the fear that he had instilled in the boy, and when his son burst into the room it was that fear that drove it from the room.
His son, Marc, buried his mother and packed their wagon with as much as it could carry. Marc helped his father to the wagon and they headed for town. They stayed there the night at a friendís place and told them of what happened and the next day old Jack and Marc drove out of town, never to go back.
Did it ever attack again? Well, some months later a good friend of old Jack moved here and he told him that after old Jack left several of the towns folk went out to his place to get what Gens were left there. Although the cells were all still locked every Gen had been killed, savagely. Completely drained.
Over the next couple of weeks the towns people started to find their Gens dead in their kill rooms. Slowly people began to leave the town out of fear, and when another Sime was killed in the same manner those who had remained did not take long to abandon the town.
Even today the town is dead. No one will even travel through it in case this invisible killer attacks. Everything is still as it was then. And of those who do go there? Itís said that they are never heard from again. There are many rumours as to what it is and whether it is still around, but one that I have heard is that once the town is empty and there is no one left to trigger it, it goes into some kind of stasis or hibernation until the utmost heart wrenching fear calls to it again.
Till the day he died old Jack never again slept at night, nor did he sleep alone. He only slept when someone else was awake. No one knows why it left when old Jackís son entered the room. Maybe it thought old Jack dead. Maybe it was frightened off by Marcís appearance. Who knows? I donít.
He never fully recovered from the guilt he felt at his wifeís death and the fear that he might face this terror again some day. He always told the story, as a warning, to his son and his sonís children of the terror that has no form. It was told to me and my sisters and to our cousins by my grandfather, Marc, and now I tell you.
This invisible death strikes in the still of night, covered in the blanket of darkness and camouflaged as dream. You will never see it, but if youíre Sime you will zlin it. It will drain Gen and Sime alike of every drop of selyn and still NEED more. It cannot be satisfied. It cannot be fulfilled. It is an eternal hunter. It is the CREEPING NEED.