In the olden days they had this thing called a "nuclear family". In the 1950s- my parents were historians and my mother's favourite era was the twentieth century. I can see why: so fascinating. It's ancient history to us now, of course. But this "nuclear family", it was their perfect family unit. Mum, Dad, son, daughter. Looking back, what I had was a nuclear family. My mother and father worked at the glorious city university, and their intelligence and thirst for knowledge dripped down through...nature or nurture, I couldn't be certain, to me and my brother, Tristan. He was my guardian of sorts when I was young: always saving me from scrapes. It's a shame that the dangers of the world have increased so much from those summer days when I was four and the world was good and my parents tucked me into bed night after night.

I have no parents. My mother made a protest when I was seven. They say that is when the Sieminas started to test their strength. When it all started. She was taken away over some controversy or other...said that their technology was only going to bring our human race into primal days of ancient ancient history. They'd told me that she was going to a camp. On a holiday.

My father had to quit his job at the city university, though there were some who didn't want him to go. He said it was his duty to join the army: that Tristan would look after me. He always sat me on the tree stump outside the house and said that he'd be waiting there whenever he returned on leave. And he always did.

When I was nine Tristan went on a school trip and did not return. I cried bitter tears and learnt to look after myself, because the elders didn't believe me. They said it was a little girl's fantasy. They had been taken in.

When I was ten my father had to go away again. This time he said that he would look for my brother. I nodded and wiped my eyes with my sleeve and sat on the tree stump outside the house. That night the stump was struck with lightning: whether it was a freak occurence or...them...I could never be sure. All I knew was that they had everyone. The nuclear family. They had my mother, they had my father, they had Tristan. I didn't know if they were alive, if I'd ever see them again.

But at ten years old I knew they wanted me. So I ran. It is just a lucky incident that I have strength, more than normal, in my speed, because I need it the most. But I always have to stop and regain my strength, which is why when I was thirteen I became handy with a hand pistol. It was an old battered thing that I claimed from an empty house: goodness knows which town.

I am now sixteen years old. I know that somewhere, out there, are the Sieminas who took my family away from me. And because there is nobody to save me from scrapes and tuck me in every night, I fight them. Out of necessity. They may think they have silenced my family, but they have me to answer for.

The End

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