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Simon drew in a deep breath and leaned more firmly into Kitryn before starting his story.
“My family lived in one of those cult communes that humans like to create. You know the sort. A group of people who don’t agree with government policy and think that technology is damaging the environment. The commune was self-sufficient to a certain degree and had a business making handmade goods to sell at a nearby market.
“The leader, Frank, ran the place with an iron fist. Everyone was expected to work, no matter their age. There was no school for the children. We were taught by our parents when we weren’t helping with work. I used to help with the cooking and caring for the youngest members of the commune.
“My mom came back to our room one evening pale and shaking. She’d seen two of Frank’s thugs who kept order within the commune beating one of the teenagers. Apparently, the boy had been caught kissing another boy and that wasn’t acceptable behavior. They beat the boy unconscious and we later found out the boy died.
“I had come out to my parents a couple of years before but we’d decided to not tell anyone else until we could work out what the reaction would be. Well, this answered our question and my parents decided we should leave. They had been getting more and more worried about the direction the commune was heading and this was the last straw.
“My parents packed up our belongings and mom went to talk to Frank. She came back out of breath as though she’d been running and telling us we needed to get out now. She gave me a backpack and told me I needed to get to the commune dumpsters and hide in them. When I tried to argue she told me if I didn’t hide I would end up the same as the boy she’s seen being beaten. She gave me the address to a nearby cabin and told me she and dad would meet me there as soon as they got free. They were planning on playing the worried parents at me being missing as that was the reason mum had apparently given Frank for her and dad wanting to leave, to search for me. Frank had then said that if I was found off the commune he would make sure I was taught to never wander off again. They thought I was in the most danger so I did as mom told me.
“When the dumpsters were put outside the gates for collection I snuck out and followed mom’s directions to the cabin. I waited there a few days until the supplies I had ran out. Mom had left money in the back too, so I walked until I found the nearest shops. There I saw newspapers with my families faces plastered all over the front pages. Their bodies had been found dumped like trash. Some hikers found them and they had to be identified by dental records. They’d been beaten and my mom…well, I’m sure you can guess. Since both my parents were only children, and their parents were dead by the time I was fifteen, I was alone.
“I managed to find work in cafes and such that didn’t ask too many questions. I didn’t dare use my real full name or get any ID in case Frank had a way of tracing me. By then I had realized that even if the commune was against technology that didn’t mean Frank and his cronies were.
“I moved towns frequently and kept to myself as much as possible. I quickly found out that men liking men wasn’t accepted in many places, not just in the commune, and that men who didn’t respond to women making a pass at them were just as bad as men that seduce all the women they could.
“I was moving town…again…after an incident with a police chief’s daughter. She didn’t like me telling her I wouldn’t…um…well, yes, anyway. She went to her father and told him I tried to make advances to her. He then tried to have me arrested and I only made it out of town because I had memorized the back streets and hid in the trash…again. I wash off in a stream and headed up the mountains. That’s where I met the vamp. He wandered into my camp saying he was lost and asking directions to the nearest town. We shared some stories and I offered him a place by the fire for the night. He waited until I was asleep to attack me.
“I supposed my tendency to sleep with one eye open was what saved me. The rest you know”
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