January 10, 2013 by Vee Villarreal
The familiar pains began early in the morning and Lana hid her agony for hours, clutching around the swell of her belly, to keep the white coats away. When the contractions became almost constant and she lay in a wet mess of her own fluids upon the thin mattress of her cot she could no longer hold her tongue. She panted and cringed to keep from crying out, but before long she couldn’t contain the stifled screams. To say they were displeased that she had hidden her condition for so long would have been a grave understatement. Even the serpentine doctor’s cool exterior thinned as his precious experimental progeny was nearly birthed unsupervised and undocumented in the frigid cement cell that housed its unwilling host. Lana could sense the tension in the laboratory as Mezrahii’s technicians fluttered about her administering fluids and taking vitals. The doctor was displeased, his normally vicious and toothy grin, melted into an equally venomous grimace as he bent to examine her.
Two weeks was all the time she’d had to contemplate a way out; all the time she’d had to try and save this poor child from the fate that awaited it in Compound 17. Lana had failed on every level. She hadn’t made it a foot out the door before she was subdued. She’d never had to be the strong one, her strength was in her family and now she was so terribly alone. Her heart was an empty void, a sucking black hole in the center of her chest, but instead of taking the pain farther away the jarring and unearthly hurt radiated out, consuming her entire being. So often she’d coaxed herself to sleep with belly-wrenching sobs and choking on tears she couldn’t bring herself to care if she’d ever be able to breathe again.
Another contraction washed over her, tightening every muscle fiber below her ribs until she thought she might be torn in half by the tension. Through gritted teeth she screamed and two large hands supported her back as she pushed forward. Mezrahii assumed the spot at the end of the metal exam table right between her legs ready to catch the new arrival. His eyes danced with giddy excitement as the child crowned, like a child with a new toy. As her muscles slowly relaxed for a brief moment her blood still coursed loudly through her veins pumping panic to every cell. Lana threw aside every instinct and drew her knees together.
Besides being the mother of six, every one of them born at home in the same bed in which they’d been conceived, Lana had also attended many of the births of her neighbors and sisters’ children. Once she had sat helpless at the bedside of the young girl next door who in the middle of her first labor had suddenly passed away. Nothing they did had encouraged her to breathe again and the poor infant, still journeying through the birth canal, was lost as well. Thinking back on that long and heartbreaking night Lana was struck with a mad idea. Her eyes flashed to the tray of instruments that laid within reach to her right. In their haste to prep her for delivery the technicians hadn’t thought to strap her to the table leaving her hands free.
Lana had been unable to get away before this child could be born, but perhaps there was still a chance that she could do something to keep it out of the hands of the twisted individuals who had seen fit to imprison her and her family and create this baby in the first place. Her fingers tentatively reached out toward the edge of the steel tabletop and brushed against a heavy, steel handle. Mezrahii’s gloved hands gripped against her skin as he fought to pull her legs apart again and the technician’s rushed to aide him. Weakened as she was, they easily encouraged her back into a suitable position with one technician holding each of her legs up and out of the way.
Another contraction racked her body and she bore down involuntarily. As her back curled off the table and over her stomach her eyes met the doctor’s. In them she could still see the delight of his success nearly brought to fruition, which was lost to the deep abyss of his pupils as they shot open. The blade shimmered in the reflection of them as Lana raised it from the tray and swiftly brought it to her throat. It was so unexpected, in all the time she’d been in the camp every detail had been attended to and the white coats had been so careful, and now, the one time she’d managed to foil their planning, she would make them suffer for it. The edge of the blade was honed sharper than a razor and it took hardly a feather’s touch of pressure to cut through her flesh like warm butter. There was no pain, just the barest hint of a sting as the scalpel pierced the skin across her taut throat. Blood ran down her chest in a warm, thick river. The air was permeated with a metallic tang. Simultaneously the technicians dropped her legs, now heavy and limp to the table, but there was nothing they could do to save her now. Hopefully, she’d take the child with her, but either way the nightmare was over for her and she would go into the afterlife knowing she’d outstepped the doctor, ultimately it wouldn’t stop him, but her last thought was of satisfaction as she lost sight of his cold and seething eyes.