Because I Never Knew You
by Rune Lai
I remember. If there is some god above only he would know how much I remember.
And the memory is painful. Where is he? He who I have lived for! Gone. Perhaps
forever. I cannot explain the hatred and bitterness I feel each morning when I
wake to find myself alone. I am always alone. Even I have abandoned myself.
He. Yes, the man whom I never knew, yet remember as fervently as my own name.
I remember--drifting as I did in the embryonic solution, a voice speaking to
me. He gave me my name. The other words meant nothing to me, but I remember
laughter, genuine and given copiously without reserve. I remember the love and
hope I heard every time he spoke and I had reveled in the voice that was my
world. He was not always there, but he was never gone very long, and he always
came back. Always. So I thought.
I had no way of telling the time of day, living blindly in my watery world,
but I knew that he liked to come in cycles and he liked to stay a long time.
One night, the night, he came as usual, but he did not speak to me. I
had always known that there was this Other who was in the room with me. The
Other never spoke to me or shared his thoughts, but only talked to the Voice I
so cherished. This night, the Other said something, and the Voice laughed. I
wanted to laugh too. But I could not.
The Other became more serious, and the laughter ended. The Voice sounded
reluctant. He did not want to. But the Other said something else, and the
Voice left. I did not hear it again, and it was not with me when the terror
I remember that night all too vividly, perhaps because it was the first clear
memory I could remember at all. Time began to have meaning with this night.
It started as a surge of adrenalin, a rush that was so markedly different from
the tranquil life I had known. The world around me began to heat up, bubbling
and frothing, and I recall opening my mouth in sudden shock to try to take a
fresh breath of air. But I could not. Something was stretching tight and
And then came the pain. Up until then I had only been frightened, but now my
mind throbbed as though to burst from my skull. I fought against the crushing
pressure of the sack around me, all thoughts of serenity rapidly vanishing
with the wild urge to survive. I couldn't breathe and I reacted with instincts
I didn't know I had.
I suddenly found myself mobile, able to move arms and legs of which I was
previously unaware. For a moment the tight cover over me stretched and pulled
along with my motions, but then it tore around me and liquid rushed into my
nose and mouth. I sucked in a breath to scream, but it only brought in more of
the strange liquid. I was floating in something! I floundered like a dying
beast and my heart pounded so fast I thought it would burst. My eyes had yet
to open as I felt the awful surging in my brain. Dimly I realized it wasn't so
much the liquid in my lungs as something else forcing its way in. The feeling
was dreadful beyond measure.
I discovered I could think, I was sentient, and I understood things I couldn't
possibly know. I could reach into the depths of my mind and draw up
information that I now know would have taken years for a Palman to learn. And
that only took minutes to infuse into my mind.
I was not ready for it, and my arms flailed against a hard barrier I suddenly
realized was around me--had always been around me. I was trapped. Was I in a
prison? I latched on to a new thought, a new word; stolen from the intruding
knowledge in my mind. Father. Where was my father in my time of need? Where
was the Voice of comfort that shielded me while I was young and unafraid?
The barrier moved, swinging away from me with sudden ease beneath my small
fists. The liquid rushed out, carrying me so swiftly that I opened my mouth
and gasped with surprise. It was my first breath of air, and I choked from the
fluid that filled my lungs.
A shrill sound rang in my ears, nearly causing me to howl in pain. Only later
would I realize it was something called an alarm. I opened my eyes, coughing,
hacking, and head spinning with newness, in time to see several white robed
shapes dash into the small metal room I found myself in. I blinked rapidly,
trying to clear the the slimy coating from around my eyes, and awkwardly
lifted an arm, surprised to see it move as I willed it. Then I looked up to
the shapes. They looked big, much bigger than me, but kind of like me. One of
them moved his mouth and I heard sound come from it.
I did not know his voice--he was not the Other--but much to my surprise I
discovered I could understand his words! Their meanings lay in the heavy
material throbbing in my brain. Sputtering, desperate, I tried to make that
same sound come from my mouth as well.
"Fa.. der..." My voice sounded so high-pitched and shrill to my ears and I did
not know why. How come I didn't sound like the man? Why could I not pronounce
the word I could so clearly hear in my head?
"Is she speaking?" one of them asked the first speaker.
"She can't be," snapped the First. "Language isn't something she can be born
with. Not even Thompson is brilliant enough to discover how to ingrain
language in an ignorant organism!
"Now," he directed, "will someone tell me what's going on? All the power in
the lab is gone save the emergency generators!"
Emergency generators , I thought. So that is why it is so dark and
the only lights are red. I am... in a building.
"Seed!" bellowed the First.
I lifted my head in amazement as monitors on the wall suddenly lit up with
red-tinged displays. The images flickered, dancing, and no two were alike.
"Present," said the Other's voice.
I looked around but I could not see him. He seemed to come from all around.
"What's going on?" demanded the First.
"Experiment #14836 Subject A's capsule has malfunctioned," came the
"I can see that, but why is the power out?" He paused, looking at me, sprawled
on the floor in a pile of goo and organic webbing; the remains of my amniotic
sack. "And why is she so big?" he asked. "She wasn't ready to be born the last
I saw her. Now she looks like a two year old!"
The man was angry and I shuddered at his words. I curled up slightly and
brought my limbs beneath myself under the simple instinct of locomotion. I
crawled. There was a small opening beneath a counter that I could see. If only
I could get to it.
"Hey! She's moving!" said someone.
"Somebody grab her," said another.
"Dammit," growled the First. "I don't know what went wrong, but that's
thousands of mesetas' research right there! Where's Thompson in all this?"
"Dr. Thompson is not here this evening," said the Other.
"I can see that, but why isn't he? He's usually here!"
The Other continued to answer the First's frustrated questions as I dove for
the crevice. One of the white coated shapes lunged for me and I tried to jump.
But I felt a tug holding me back, causing me to slip and fall due to all the
embryonic mucus on my body. I glanced uncomprehendingly down at my belly to
see a fleshy tube extending from it all the way back to the containment tank.
It was then that the human barreled into me.
He tripped, having not expected me to fall so suddenly, and carried me
forcefully with him. I squealed as I felt the tube torn from my gut. I
instinctively clutched at the wound, but surprisingly there was little blood.
It dawned on me that I no longer needed the tube. I was no longer an
"Apparently there is something wrong with Subject A," continued the Other,
oblivious to the chaos.
I suddenly realized I was deathly hungry from my birth and felt a most
unwelcome sensation in my gut. I glanced around at the small ring of white
coats beginning to slowly close in around me. The man who hit me groaned, but
still lay on the floor. I backed away from them all; afraid.
"The subject has deviated significantly from the projected results," said the
"How far?" breathed the First. "Is the subject salvageable?"
One of the white coats came close to me, speaking in a voice that was not as
deep as the First's. Perhaps it was meant to be reassuring, but it failed.
When she reached for me I snarled and bit her hand. The blood was salty in my
throat, and reminded me even more about the tempest in my belly. I licked my
lips, curious about the sensations I felt as the white coat fell away from
"The subject has fallen out of the experiment's 95% confidence interval for a
successful project. Since the accidental severing of the umbilical cord, the
subject's condition is no longer in control of this facility. Accessment of
future growth: Unpredictable."
I felt another wave of pain in my body; a throbbing and elongating. I needed
to eat. I bared my teeth and hissed because I saw it made the white coats back
away from me.
"A failure." The sentence was almost a question, so incredulous sounded the
The people in white started in shock. I didn't know what the standard
procedure was, but I didn't want to find out. I gathered my small body beneath
me and scrambled almost on all fours for the door. I jumped, barreling into a
man and knocking him prone before another could stop me. The people crowded
and the air stank of their fear and uncertainty. They were afraid. Why?
"Get the silentshots!" said the First. "We'll have to terminate this one. I
guess there's always next time."
I growled as a white tube flashed in the hand of one of the white coats. He
pointed it at me and I leaped through the door. The tube sparked out of the
corner of my eye and a wicked hiss shot into me. It bit deep into the flesh of
my buttocks and I swooned. But I recalled the word "terminate" and the strange
new meanings in my head. The knowledge spurred me on in ways I thought not
possible. I fought the sluggish sensation in my body and ran still faster. I
did not wish to feel another of those needles in me.
Blindly, I bounded down the hall outside, unaware of where I went, only that I
had to leave. Red lights throbbed in the ceiling above me and the most awful
wailing filled the air. I felt as though a massive beast had swallowed me down
its dark red-lined throat and that I would never get out!
More of those white coats appeared around a bend in the hall before me. Again
I felt the piercing hunger in my belly and I snarled. I lunged that them,
biting, clawing, and kicking. They fell easily, shouting more from terror than
injury and I easily escaped them. I marveled at how swiftly I moved for my
size and shape. Freak though I was, I could best them in other ways. I lost my
pursuers in moments, but I did not wish to slow. I had to find my escape. Then
I met Her.
"Here!" said a voice.
I growled, tired of being yelled at, but curious as to the voice's origin. I
could not see the speaker and that reminded me uncomfortably of the Other.
"To the wall, young one. Look into the monitor."
Hissing, I stumbled on all fours to the little access screen. I was too small
to look directly into it, even when standing, and once again I felt hideously
deformed. My voice was too high, my body too small, and now when I looked into
my reflection in the monitor I saw I had long thin ears unlike anything those
people had possessed. No wonder they hated me. I was not like them! But, the
Voice I heard. He loved me. Did he look like me too?
"Ah, little one, you are strong and they fear you." The speech came from a
metal sheet grilled with holes. A speaker.
"Who... are... you?" I asked. I cringed at the high sound of my own voice.
A picture of a glowing woman appeared on the screen. As her low throaty voice
came through the grill the mouth on the monitor moved. "I am the Mother
Brain," she said. "I know all that transpires in this world. I know your pain
and I am here to aid you."
"Where... is my... fa...der?" My breath came in deep gasps now. If only I
could find the Voice I so cherished I believed everything would be all
"You have no father," said the Mother Brain. "You have no mother."
"But..." I shook my head, finding myself unable to stand still. She had to
"You were created by Palmans, you are an experiment; an experiment which they
believe has failed. You see how you are not like them. You were born of a test
tube. Palman children are born of a mother. The Palmans look at you and they
see you are more agile, you can smell and hear better than them. You look
different. They fear what you are and will become. They will kill you."
"But... the Voice with me... while I in tube..."
The woman's face became kindly condescending. "Ah, so that is the one you mean
by father? Forget him. Your father will never come for you."
"No! Where... is he?"
"He left. He will not come back. After all, you are a failure. He is a
researcher like all those others who have chased and hurt you. Do you think he
would tolerate a failure any better than them?"
I looked down. I did not know, but I could not believe he could be so cruel,
not after all the memories he had filled before my world had turned upside
down. But what if I was normal before and something happened? Why was I born
in the first place if I was not natural?
"He was... nice to me. Not all Palm people can be... bad."
"If you do not believe me, then go out into the world and see for yourself
what the Palmans think of you. Do you really believe your father could be any
different? He is a Palman too!"
"I will learn... the truth," I growled, feeling a powerful determination in my
body. I trembled with barely contained desire and rage.
"Take this," she said. A magnetic disk popped out from beneath the monitor. I
had to stretch to reach it, but after a moment my small fingers closed around
its outermost edge and I pulled it free. "After you have discovered your truth
and if you are unsatisfied with the life the Palmans show you, then take this
to any public computer console, insert it, and it will guide you."
I nodded, my mouth pulled into a thin grim line.
"But," --the Mother Brain began to grin-- "wouldn't it be nice to at least get
even with the awful Palmans in here? Your father is not here, so he will not
be hurt. I can show you how to make those Palmans scream in the most
delightful ways. I'm certain you are still quite hungry from being born."
"Show me," I said.
And she did.
Beneath her guidance I found weapons, clawed things that miraculously fit the
size of my small hands. I used them viciously, gutting the awful white coats
who would come to me with their white tubes that spat needles, poison, and
acid. I smashed open the development capsules of my fellow prisoners, other
constructs put together as I had been. None of them survived, but they were
better for it. Who would want to live a life like mine? Created and destroyed
on a whim. The fact I had feelings, had a heart, did not matter.
I stole DNA samples from the lab, as suggested by the Mother Brain. She
implied that one day I may be able to create life as the scientists did. But I
knew unlike them I would care for my creations. I would be their mother, and
unlike my father I would be there for them at the moment of their birth. True,
he was likely gone through no fault of his own, but I would stay. I would not
have any Other to tell me to leave when the horror of birth has come. For of
all the miracles that Palmans call life, birth is not the most gratifying. It
is the most terrible.
I fled the lab and ventured out in the world. There I discovered what the
Mother Brain said to be true. None would accept me. I was shunned, hated, and
frowned upon at every turn. Who would care for such a strange monstrous girl?
People attacked me, for no reason other than I walked up and tried to say
hello. Even the children--yes, I finally knew why I was so small and my voice
so high--poked merciless fun at my long ears.
Though I found my hatred for the Palmans grew with every passing day, I found
myself envious of them. I saw families; a father, a mother, and varying
amounts of children. The children looked like their parents, and I wondered
about my own father. I had no mother, but did I have the same DNA as the Voice
who spoke to me? I looked hard for a purple-haired man who looked like me. But
alas, I could never find one. The world outside the lab was such a frightfully
At last I knew I could no longer bear the pain of seeing the world to which I
could never belong. I both loved and hated the happiness I saw. Reluctantly I
took out the diskette that the Mother Brain had given me. The Palmans would
finally know the pain of being the hunted. I would get my revenge.
* * * * *
And I have carried out my revenge ever since. The whole of Mota's people cower
in their cities, fearing the one day the biomonsters will become strong enough
to overthrow them. That day will be soon, and the victory will be sweet. I can
already feel it. My forces grow strong.
But I am sadly unsurprised when one of my minions reports that there are
intruders in the lair I have made of Climatrol. They are Palmans, and
powerfully armed. None of them had dared to enter here before. Why here? Why
now? What made them think that the solution to their problems lay here? They
don't sneeze without their precious Mother Brain's permission. And thus I know
who must be with them. Only she could have lead them here.
I bid my creations--my children--to kill them on sight. I am their mother, and
though I am at loathe to risk them, their simple minds understand enough to
know that they fight to improve our lot in life. I only wish that I knew just
how my father had created me, so that I could also create children who were
like me, but whatever that process was the Mother Brain did not give it to me.
I know I am her tool, and I hate it. She gave me only what she wanted, not
what I needed. But after my revenge, I will hunt her down and rend her shining
circuits to dust unless she gives me the process by which I can create the
sentient life as my father did!
I spin on my heel, hulking like some hunted beast as I march to the top floor
of Climatrol. The weather controls are there, but they are not all that is on
my mind. Nei is with them. I could see no other reason for the Palmans to come
anywhere near here. She knows where I am.
She sprang from me like a sickly growth, unwanted and unheeding. But unlike
any deformity I have ever seen, she formed her own body and left me. She is
the weaker of us two, and yet we are one and same. She is a part of me.
Perhaps... the better part of me. I wish I could forgive the Palmans, but I am
too far gone.
I look at the controls to Climatrol as I enter the primary work station on the
eighth floor. The needles on the gauges wave dangerously near the red zone.
All the rainfall I've held back this past year has taxed even this powerful
system greatly. Without my near constant supervision and maintenance it would
have burst, flooding Mota's precious central lake and destroying the land
around it. I smile, deciding to leave the controls in their frightful
positions--for now. If in the event my time has finally come, Mota will be in
for a nasty surprise.
I turn around so that my back is to the controls as I look down the sole
hallway that leads to here. Come. Yes, Palmans, come and prove me right or
wrong. I have nothing to fear because all that I love is already lost.
Slowly, softly, my voice comes to me as I whisper beneath my breath the words
to a song I had tried to write when I found myself on the brink of despair.
Like the rest of me, it is something of a failure. Where I am weak, you are
strong, like light and dark entwined in one. It was one of the last
pleasures I allowed myself. Though soothing in its reminder of better days,
the memories it gives are painful in that they just that--memories. I no
longer live in them.
I hear voices and lift a bar in my left hand, the hilt of the laser sword I
had procured a year ago. Though only two years old, my strange condition has
allowed me to grow to full size, an impossibility for a Palman child my same
age. I sometimes wonder if I will die of oldness long before a Palman as well,
for my growth has shown no signs of stopping. But, no matter. I have the
battle ahead. With my speed and skill I should be more than a match for
As I expect, Nei is with them. The Palmans marvel at my likeness to her. She
apparently has not told them, so I delight in explaining myself; ourselves.
But I frown displeasurably despite my inner satisfaction of having an
opportunity to torment her. If they are here then my biomonsters are dead.
Though stupid they were my children. I stop my thought suddenly, horrified to
think perhaps once my father had thought like this. Did he lament my loss and
accepted that it must be done?
The expressions on the seven Palmans change to one of growing horror as they
realize the mistake of their brethren.
"I escaped," I say, proudly clenching a hand into a fist, "and stole DNA data
from the Biosystem. I have created monsters to wreck revenge on the people who
so carelessly and selfishly played with life. But there is another Nei within
me: a Nei who is trying to stop me."
"It can't be... You don't mean?" stammers their blue-haired leader.
"Yes, that is the one that you call Nei. The one you think is a friend is a
monster who despises all people!"
"No, I don't hate humans!" says Nei, shaking her head like a young child, like
I did when the Mother Brain first denied I had a father. "Of course it is
terrible to be born a monster! But I couldn't stand by while you tried to get
revenge by creating monsters!"
"Fool!" I activate my laser sword and the thrumming sound of its power fills
the air. "You say such things, but you are powerless to stop me! Just try
Nei lifts her hands and stands as a mirror image of me, but she wears laser
claws over each hand. "I don't want you to make any more monsters! Do you
She lunges at me and I strike her once, twice, and she falls. I am barely
injured in body, but as I see her eyes dim, her blood flowing from her wounds,
I feel something of myself leave as well. The Palmans gather round her and
again I feel the stinging pains of jealousy. How is that she was accepted by
them and never me? What had she seen that I had missed? We were one and then
she left. And she found a family.
I want to cry at the injustice of it all, but I feel hatred as well; powerful
and hungry. The odds are against me, but I will fight. There is nothing else.
If I die it will only prove that there is no forgiveness or mercy in this
world and that this never was a world for me to live in. I said that birth is
the most terrible part of life. Now, looking at the seven assembled before me
with their weapons ready, I say that death is the most welcome.
They attack, and the battle is difficult. I refuse to fall without giving them
the full fury of my wrath. They must know the suffering and despair I have
felt all these lonely months without a soul to talk to save in fear! If I was
given thought and blood, why could I not live like them? What made us so
different save the growth of my body and the strangeness of my ears? The
blue-haired one comes at me now, with tears in his eyes, and I wish that I
could have known the love he must have felt for Nei.
His sword comes cleaving down, and for all my speed I know I cannot avoid it.
The blade strikes me, gores me, and I collapse. The floor is hard and cold,
but I do not think that I will miss it.
I am dying. I gasp in painful breaths as I feel my lifeblood flow from the
gaping wounds in my body. The filthy Palmans cluster around their beloved Nei,
while I--I am left to die, to die all alone just as I would have had the
researchers managed to kill me the night I was born. Tears well up in my eyes,
full of frustration and loss. My vision dances, focusing and hazing, but I can
see enough to tell one that of the Palmans has come to stand over me.
To mock me. I want to spit on him, but I can't find the strength. I growl
instead; a feral sound.
He kneels beside me, and I see that his face is moist. He's crying. Why? For
that damning Nei?
"Why have you done this?" he asks. "I would have been there for you."
I try to demand an explanation, but my chest is so heavy. He gently lifts my
head, turning it so I can see into his eyes. I can't fight him. He knows I am
dying, but I feel only sadness from him. There is no triumph at having been
"I am sorry," he says, a sob racking his voice, "Neifirst."
My name comes out as a whisper, but I look up at him, knowing where I have
heard that voice before. Though my vision fades, I focus all I can on his
moist green eyes and the purple hair I now know he must have given me. I know
my eyes are bright now, with tears of joy that have come far too late.
I raise my hand to touch his face, to touch the life that I could have taken
without ever knowing the truth. But I know I will never reach it. Not now. Not
"Father," I whisper.
Then the darkness surrounds me.
Where I am weak, you are strong
Like light and dark entwined in one.
Together on opposite sides
We'll never see the future.
Perhaps things could be different.
But they're not,
Because I never knew you.