A Culture Shock

A Culture Shock
by Addie & Paula

Introduction & Disclaimer

This is collaborative story with each writer writing from the POV of a different character. Addie is Magpie and Paula is Rondo.

All items contained on these pages are non-profit amateur fiction. The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments of Love and Hate, The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire and all characters named in those books are the copyright of Storm Constantine and her publishers. No infringement on the copyrights are intended.

To contact the authors, email Addie (addief@usermail.com) or Paula (pellsfan@yahoo.com).

A Culture Shock

– 1 –

Magpie

I felt like I had been running for hours. Perhaps I had. My lungs were about to burst, and my legs felt like jelly. But I had to get away from them. Whatever they were.

Freaks…perverts.

I only stopped because I had come to the edge of the sea. For a few moments I considered just walking into the surf and drowning myself. But I couldn’t do it. Something stopped me. Probably a fear of dying. But I should have died after they had done *that* to me…the pain was enough. There were times in those few days when I had prayed for my life to end.

I looked out into the tumbling waves, at the kids tousled in them, body boarding and swimming into the shore like salmon on their last ride up the river. So happy they were…carefree…enjoying life. I flopped down into the soggy sand, letting the water ripple over my aching and burning legs. They looked normal enough…my legs that is. A bit skinny, with very fair hair, five toes on each foot. I held my hands up to my face. Yep…five fingers on each one, but there were hardly any lines on my palms. They looked new. I felt new. In fact I had so much energy that I felt as though I could run for another few hours.

I touched my face, which felt smooth and unblemished. That’s one good thing I thought, the two or three pimples on my chin had gone, but so had the few whiskers I had been nurturing. Shit! What else did they do to me? Shave all my body hair off! My arms were as smooth as a baby’s bum. I looked down at my body, trying not to appear too obvious about checking myself out. One little kid, making a sand castle on the edge of the waves was already looking at me funny.

I smiled at him, and he chortled to himself, then went back to his pile of slushy sand.

It was worrying me, now that I had stopped being terrified and angry and confused, just how else had I changed? I flicked my hair behind my ears…well at least they hadn’t shaved my head…I hated the thought of being bald. My dad was bald…well nearly. Although he wouldn’t admit it.

It was all Dane’s fault. This whole fiasco. My best mate Dane. Together since kindy. Since that first day when I wet my pants and he did the same, just so I wouldn’t feel bad. All through primary school, then high school. Mucking about together, getting drunk, trying to play football…checking me out in the shower. That’s what gave it away really, I suppose, when I come to think of it. Dane, being more interested in looking at my bum, than at Sarah, with the blonde hair and big boobs.

But he was still my mate even if he did like the fellas. Through thick and thin. He wasn’t a prissy boy…he was strong and tall, with black hair, one blue eye and one green…excellent physique. It was me they thought was gay. Me with the slender frame, almost too pretty face, blonde curls. God how I hated my curls. I always tried so hard to prove that I wasn’t gay. Acting macho, trying to be cool. Taking all the knocks on the football field just to be one of them. One of the guys.

Yeah, it was all Dane’s fault. If he hadn’t talked me into going to that party, it wouldn’t have happened. I should have known they were a bit suss. They weren’t our normal mates. Dane wanted to come out. He had decided he wanted the world to know…so he had begun to hang out with this group of real weirdos.

Very strange bods. Some of them looked more like birds, and I thought they were transvestites or something. And some of them…well I couldn’t work out what some of them were. Tian was OK. He was friendly and smart. I think he was studying electronic engineering at university. But some of the others…well weird was actually too tame a word for them. Sometimes Spider – yeah, he swore it was his real name – looked feminine, sometimes he looked like a bloke. And they were all off with each other all the time. Sick!!

I was just thinking about the argument Dane and I had had about going to this party the weirdos had organised, when the little kid in the shallows threw wet sand into my face. I swore at him, splashed some water over him and walked up towards the loo. I needed to take a piss and I was nervous. You see, when the pain had gone, and the weirdos plonked me in the bath again, I didn’t open my eyes. I still had them squeezed shut when they dressed me, their soft hands touching me all over, ooohhing and aahhing. Perverts.

I had sat in that darkened room, with just a single candle in the windowsill, when Tian came in to talk to me. At least, at first I thought he had just come in to talk to me, but I reckon he had something else on his warped brain. He kept smiling at me and trying to get me to calm down. Perhaps I should have listened to what he was saying…but when he leant forward and tried to kiss me…I panicked. I fled, that’s what I did…ran and ran and ran. And here I am…about to take a piss and nervous as all hell.

The toilet block smelt like the beach, probably because half of it was in there on the floor. Sand and water all over the place, and little kids under the shower, plugging up the hole, causing even more water to flood the floor. Not really a very conducive place to discover oneself, now was it? But I was desperate, just about to pee my pants in fact. For some reason, maybe it was a premonition, maybe it was something Tian had told me and I hadn’t taken in at the time, but I decided to go into the stall and not piss in the urinal. Just as well.

I unzipped my pants and took hold of myself. Can you imagine what it would be like to find that what you normally thought you had between your legs, had been transformed. Not transformed as in grown…but literally, fucking changed…like in having petals and being purple and glowing. Fuck….I was glowing. If I hadn’t had to pee so badly, I would have turned and ran…but the damn thing would only have followed me. I stuck my fist in my gob and forced down the scream. I still gurgled though and groaned, as my piss came out of *that* thing.

When I had finished, I stuck it back in my trousers and zipped it up tight, then leant back against the door. I was breathing so hard and still making these funny little snufflng sounds. Oh God!!! I was deformed. I was a weirdo. I had a bloody flower in my pants.

Someone was banging on the door asking me if I was all right. No, I wasn’t all right, I may never be all right again. But I didn’t tell them that. I mumbled something incoherent and ran out of the toilet, and guess what? I kept running. This was getting ridiculous. But at that moment it was all I could think of doing. It kept my mind off my body and that *thing* and made me concentrate on not running into traffic, or into a ditch, or off a cliff.

But a weirdo cannot live on running alone, so I eventually stopped again when I realised I had run from the beach right into the city, which is about 15 miles. I was puffed, and the mucles in my calves were hurting, so I decided to find a quiet place to sit down. Perfect! I was at the library…my favourite place in the world, and it was open. Even better. I flashed my card at the librarian, asked if any computers were free…they were, found one and sat down.

The guy next to me said hi and winked. If I hadn’t been so knackered, I would have sworn at him and left. But just to not feel my feet pounding on the pavement and to rest my back against the chair, was bliss…so I ignored him. For a few moments I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I needed to talk to someone, but not just anyone. My friend Rondo. He always seemed to understand me, was always happy to hear from me…so I typed in my net name, Magpie, then Rondo’s email address. My fingers were trembling as the words began to flow out of me.

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Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet
by Addie Fielding
June 2002

Introduction & Disclaimer

One har’s travels to the ends of the earth and back again.

Disclaimer: All the characters in this story, belong to Storm Constantine. The Aboriginal Dreamtime story belongs to the Australian Indigenous Museum.

– 1 –

It was deathly quiet, and the velvet black night was caressed with more stars than I had ever seen before. But they were wrong… none of the normal patterns in the sky were evident… I could have been on the moon, except that it was there in the sky, rising full and golden, lighting up the terrain around me.

What place was this? How far had I traveled on my horse? I knew that I had slept on and off and had witnessed three sunrises. But at one stage it was like the sun wasn’t so much as rising, but following me.

I was completely exhausted and as I had been flying up so high it had been freezing cold. My hands and feet were so cold that I couldn’t feel them yet, but down here on the warm earth, I was beginning to thaw slightly. As I wrapped a blanket around my shoulders, I snuggled close to my horse, Faldon, and began to sleep. Fitfully at first, snapping awake whenever Faldon snorted, then drifting back again.

The nightmare came again… dark and frightening. Always the same thing… being torn in two… then discarded like a pile of rubbish. I could never see the faces of my tormentors, but I knew who they were. I knew that they both loved me in their own way, but also knew that they loved each other more. In the dream they kept drifting off into the darkness, until they were just a speck of light at the end of a long cold tunnel. I would try to cry their names, but no sound would come from my lips. I would try to follow them, but my legs wouldn’t move.

I awoke in a bath of perspiration, Faldon standing a little way away from me, nibbling on a few spiky tufts of grass. Now that the sun was shining, I might be able to get my bearings and find civilisation, if there was such a thing in this Aghama forsaken land.

For as far as my eyes could see, there was red earth, a few outcrops of grass and some very round rocks off in the distance. They were as good a place to begin my journey, so letting Faldon move at a normal horse’s pace for a change, we trotted over the stony ground.

The closer we came, the larger the rocks grew, until I was standing underneath them staring up. There were dozens of them, like a Giant’s marble set, at least 1000 feet high. I prayed that the Giant was not about to wake up and begin playing with them.

“What do you make of them?” I asked Faldon. Of course he just snorted at me, as if to say. “Fucked if I know.”

I was hungry, so giant or no, I decided to take a rest in the shade of one of the marbles and have a snack. Faldon trotted about, as if he were checking out the place. Perhaps he was… who was I to decide how intelligent these Faraldiennes were? If they could fly, they could surely make certain judgments about places and hara.

My food was bland but nutritious… at least in my haste to leave I had had the foresight to pack some food. I munched on some dried fruit, wholemeal biscuits and drank some water. Much refreshed, I decided to try and climb to a vantage point on one of the marbles to survey the area.

That wasn’t as easy as I thought, because all the rocks were quite smooth and round, and no footholds could be found. Faldon would have to carry me up to the top of one of them, and set me down. I didn’t think it would be wise to get him to land up there, and I knew he was also too exhausted to fly me anywhere for a while.

Once on the top of one of these red rocks, I pulled a pair of magnifying glasses out of my bag, then did a 360 degree turn. I could see nothing in any direction but the same red earth… not even a mound or a small hillock. The only outcrops of anything blotting this landscape were the marbles… one of which I was perched precariously on top of.

It was windy on top of the rock, and dust began to blow into my eyes and ears. Perhaps this was the end of the earth, perhaps if I had ridden any further, Faldon and I would have dropped off the edge. Knowing logically that this wasn’t true, but also feeling completely lost and isolated, I called to Faldon to rescue me.

I decided to stay put for at least twenty four hours, so that Faldon could rest sufficiently, then we would take to the ethers again for a low flying cruise. Surely, somewhere on this continent, there had to be civilisation. Faldon carried me gently back down to Earth again, and for a while, I explored the rocks and the small crevices beneath the stones. I counted thirty six of them all together. Was that significant I wondered? Were they put there for a reason? I was pondering this intriguing thought when a creature skitted across my path. A glimpse was enough to send me hurtling back to Faldon in the hope that if it attacked, he might be able to protect me.

It hadn’t been large, but was certainly ferocious looking, with spines down its back and rough skin. While I was blundering through the rocks, hoping that I would eventually find my way back to my starting point, my logical brain kicked in. It was small, it ran away from me, so chances were it wasn’t dangerous.

Laughing to myself I came around the corner of one of the rocks to find myself face to face with humans. A whole gaggle of them, all carrying weapons – albeit crude ones, made of wood and metal. I stopped and stared at them and they stared back.

Holding my hands up in a gesture of peace I smiled at them.

“It’s not safe out here for women.” One of them said.

I was about to answer that I wasn’t a woman, when I found myself surrounded and being herded in the opposite direction to where I had been going.

We walked for a while, through the gullies and creek beds between the rocks until we came upon a campsite. There were many more humans there, men, women and children, as well as a motley assortment of scruffy looking animals, one of which was being cooked on an open fire. It looked disgusting, but smelled delicious.

One of the humans beckoned for me to take a seat on a small rock, and brought a cup of water. He smiled at me with huge white teeth and his curly black hair straggled down across his face as he bent towards me. All their weapons had been discarded and the whole scene seemed peaceful and domestic.

I began to relax and before too long, one of the female humans offered me a bark plate covered in steaming meat. My hunger overtook my revulsion and I began to nibble at it tentatively. It was delicious, hot, tasty and quite tender. Not quite the fare I was used to, but my stomach didn’t seem to care.

Satiated, I put my crude plate down and thanked the human who had fed me. She seemed very pleased and touched my face gently. Normally I would flinch at such a touch, but out here, under the strange stars, in this alien landscape, I welcomed her audacity.

For a few seconds I considered touching her mind, but was afraid I might scare her. While we communed peacefully, a low thrumming sound began to permeate the still air. It throbbed with a haunting cadence – it was the sound of an ancient civilisation.

I turned to view its players, as they sat on the dry earth, blowing into their instruments of hollowed out wood. They clacked a primitive beat with sticks on the outside of them.

For a while I was mesmerised by the sounds and smells of this place, strange but reassuring, lonely but filled with warmth. These were an old race of humans, maybe they had never seen my kind before.

Some of the younger ones began to dance, but it was more than dancing, they were telling a story, of conquests, love and finally triumph. No one needed to translate for me, it was in their facial expressions and their movements.

After a while, the dancing slowed, the music stopped and they went about their business of settling in for the night. I considered that as an interloper I should move away from the camp for the night. I should also try and find Faldon, although I knew he could look after himself.

I tried to communicate on a rudimentary level with them, but I needn’t have bothered. One of them came up to me and sat down by my side. He seemed less dark than the others, without the strong features of wide nose and broad lips.

“You’re one of them, aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?”

“We have many names for your kind. Some are not no flattering. But you are what the humans in the cities call mutants, Wraeththu, are you not?”

“So you know about us, even here?”

“Oh we know about you all right. Why do you think I choose to live with my family’s tribe out here in the desert?”

“So you didn’t want to become, one of us?”

“I didn’t say I didn’t want to. I came here with my wife, Ella. She was pregnant. I couldn’t leave her like that, could I?”

I felt a shiver running down my spine as he said the word ‘wife’. I don’t suppose any one of my so called hara friends and relatives had even known of the human girlfriend I had had before I was incepted. I hadn’t thought of her for many years, perhaps 30 or 40, but this dark human, had brought all those dampened memories flooding back to me.

“Are you okay, mate?” My friend asked me, curiosity and compassion in his eyes.

“Yes, I am… or I will be. What can I call you?”

“My tribal name is Kujani, but my white name is Mike.”

“What does it mean?”

“Fucked if I know, mate.” Kujani laughed out loud. “The tribal elders gave it to me, but they wouldn’t tell me what it meant. I have a suspicion it means something like, ‘pain in the bum’.”

I laughed. “Very strange.” I answered him. “Will I call you Kujani, or your very human name.”

“Well I am very human, but I kinda like Kujani. What can I call you?”

I had to think for a moment, I didn’t want to reveal my real name. Who’s to know if there might have been other traveling hara from Immanion, who might recognise it. “Call me… Gypsy.” For that was what I was… a wanderer for now.

“Not your real name, I am guessing.” Said Kujani. “But a good one all the same. Been traveling for very long?”

“Only a few days, I think. Although it could have been longer.”

“On the horse?”

“Faldon, yes. Have you found him?”

“He’s found us. Came looking for you I think. One of the tribe has given him some food. A fine looking beast. We don’t find too many of them in these parts.”

“I don’t suppose you do. What are these parts called?” I waved my hands about, meaning the immediate vicinity. “Those round rocks, are they significant?”

“They are called Kata Tjuta.” Kujani shook his head. “And no, I don’t know what that means. But yes they are significant… part of our ‘Dreaming.’ Sacred ground to our ancestors.”

“What about the whole land, does it have a name?”

“It’s called Arabana now, the “Great Southern Land.”

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