The Durants Pt II



Evading the authorities was exhausting. On top of that, Gaia’s first six months of pregnancy had been taxing. She oscillated rapidly between giddiness and terror. Vomiting was a twice-daily ordeal. Too many questions haunted her: Could a baby survive in this wasteland? Could they continue to dupe Zoran? Where were her parents? Gaia had last seen them and her twin sister, Mina, shortly before being hauled off by the government. She wondered how they were, and if her running away with Brion had affected them at all.


Later that day, Dr. Carlton would visit. Gaia was nervous, a small voice in the back of her head goading her into doubt. She was glad for Brion’s support. He was a steadfast light in her life, always assuaging her fears.


The hours inched past until there was a brisk rap at their door. Brion answered, greeting the doctor.


“Alright, where’s our lovely mother?” Dr. Carlton chirped as he stepped in.


Waddling slightly with added weight and aching feet, Gaia plopped herself in front of the physician. “Here!” She answered brightly, flashing a dazzling smile of jagged teeth.


Dr. Carlton performed the check-up as Brion watched, all discussing the town and where Zoran was currently snooping around. Six months ago, the doctor had insisted Gaia was merely a hallucination caused by a concussion. Unfortunately, the officer’s thirst for finding the fugitives was not slaked by such a flimsy excuse. He continued hunting mercilessly, nearly recognizing Brion on both occasions he’d dared to visit town.


Clapping his hands together while rising, Dr. Carlton remarked, “Well, everything seems to be developing nicely. Your little bundle should be here in about three months.” Brion peered at his wife, knowing she’d be feeling both exuberance and anxiety. The emotions danced fiercely behind her large eyes. “Any questions before I leave?” The doctor continued as he turned to depart. Both shook their heads, beginning to wave their goodbyes.


“Before I forget…” the doctor trailed off before spinning on the spot and scanning. His gaze rested on the sword Drake had gifted Gaia. He took three large strides toward it and rested his thumb on the emerald in the hilt. “If there’s ever an emergency, just press this and it’ll connect you directly to the Sullivans.”


The young couple squealed in delight. This kind of technology was commonplace in Taesh, but they hadn’t expected to find it here. The emerald began blinking, prompting Dr. Carlton to depress the jewel. A flickering image of Drake appeared. Sweat was raining down the side of his face. “Doc, you gotta get here. They’re sayin’ an eruption’s ‘bouta go off.” Drake glanced behind him, worry etched in deep creases on his forehead.


“I’ll be right there.” He pressed the emerald again and the transmission terminated. “Right. Use this if there’s any trouble. I’ll be back in two weeks.”


The air was tense as the door slammed.


A week later, Brion was cooking a small lizard he’d found scurrying across their ceiling when he felt a tremor, then heard a wail. Gaia stumbled in, clutching her abdomen. “Something’s wrong…” she whined through clenched teeth. There was a trail of fluid behind her. Horror flooded Brion’s veins, all thoughts of lunch evaporating instantaneously.


A lump rose in his throat as he reached hesitantly for the sword’s hilt. He steeled himself as his wife wailed and thrust his thumb into the jewel savagely. “I need Dr. Carlton right away, Drake!” Brion shouted hoarsely at the fuzzy image.


The sound of small footsteps greeted his ears. “Daddy’s talkin’ to tha sunman!” Three-year-old Oscar stumbled into view.


Gaia lit up. “Oscar!” she cooed, “I need your daddy. Could you tell him you’re hungry, sweet one?”


The little boy grinned widely. “Sho’, Guy!” He pitter-pattered away, leaving Brion with nostrils flared and Gaia panting and yelping.


An eternity passed before Drake appeared. “What’s—”


“I think Gaia’s in labor!” Brion squeaked.


The color fled from Drake’s face. He stammered, “I-I…the d-doctor….Didya feel the eruption?”


“How the hell is that important?! My wife is giving birth to our child! Three months too early! Get the doctor here immediately!” Brion raged, his pupils dilating to pinpricks in his sky blue eyes.


“Brion. I know you and Gaia are scared. Doc can’t help now. But before you start railin’ me, I’ll help you.


“Gaia just let the baby come. There’s nothing we can do to stop it. Brion, grab a big tub and fill it with warm water. Put her in it. Grab a wet rag. Hold her hand. Give her water. Stay with her. This is how Oscar was born. I hafta deflect Zoran now. I’ll send Doc when I can.”


The transmission ended. Gaia groaned while lying in the warm water. Their child did not cry.


Dr. Carlton arrived in the morning to help, exhausted as he was from treating burns. He found his patient seeping in a chilled pool bloodied by her still-attached placenta. Her husband held an oddly translucent hunk of flesh. Both had a despondent expression, with hollow eyes. The doctor swallowed nervously, fearing the worst until he saw shuddering breaths animate the infant.


“Let me see the baby,” Dr. Carlton whispered. He checked the vital signs, his heart plummeting. It was a fragile thing, unlikely to survive their harsh environment for long. “It’s very weak. I’ll need to grab special equipment for its care. Until then, please handle it delicately.” He couldn’t bear to personify it with its imminent death. He took his leave quietly.


Brion held the baby hesitantly, shock filling him. Sobs drew his attention. “There’s no way this child will live longer than me. There’s no way it will live past tomorrow!” Gaia wept hysterically, clasping onto Brion’s forearm. He pressed their eerily silent and transparent child into his chest and pulled away from his wife, squaring his shoulders, and began to care for their babe.



Brittany Teodorski


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