The Durants: part III




With a huff, Dr. Carlton dragged his last piece of equipment into the Durants’ home, the aroma of burnt lizard wafting through. He looked sadly from Gaia, rocking herself, to Brion, trying desperately to reach her, to their child, still struggling to remain alive. Its body temperature was not high enough, so the doctor had ordered Brion, with his perpetually blazing skin, to hold the newborn at all times. This proved increasingly more difficult as Dr. Carlton stuffed tubes down its trachea to facilitate breathing and started an IV for nutrients. Along with all of his supplies, the doctor was moving in with the family. Though he felt guilty, he welcomed the respite from the volcano’s victims.

Over the next several weeks, word spread quietly through Hyra that Gaia’s child had been born when the Great Inner Basin Eruption began. This earned the baby the title of Harbinger. Dr. Carlton was hesitant to inform the couple of this development. He could feel the judging stares of the other residents whenever he went into town to treat his patients. Thankfully, no one had yet told Officer Zoran about the Durants’ whereabouts, despite the superstition-fueled hostility toward their child.

Returning home from his rounds was exhausting. The townsfolk besieged him with laundry lists of symptoms while Gaia continued to withdraw inward. Dr. Carlton could hear her crying through the walls when she thought she was alone. She never looked at the baby and rarely finished her meals. The doctor confided his concerns in Brion, who nodded knowingly.

One night, Brion couldn’t take it anymore. He turned to his wife and hugged his kid into his core. “Gaia, you need to eat and keep your strength up. Our child can’t survive on medicine alone.”

The girl looked up from her plate slowly, dark circles under her blood-shot eyes. She continued to draw spirals in her dinner. Brion felt as if he was looking at a ghost, a mere shadow of his beloved wife. He felt his temper start to boil as the silence stretched on. “Gaia, please, we need your help. I can’t do this without you.” Brion clenched his teeth, close to bursting as she continued to stare at him detachedly. “What can I do to get through to you?!” He screamed, squishing the child.

“Brion, the baby….” Dr. Carlton warned.

Immediately, the red faded from Brion’s face as he looked to his squirming newborn. “I’m sorry, little one. Daddy’s not trying to hurt you. I’m sorry,” he cooed gently.

“If you’re done fawning over that thing, I’ll be heading to bed now,” Gaia hissed, her husband’s tenderness setting her on edge. She forced herself to her feet, and ran to the bedroom before either of them could respond, slamming the door behind her.

Brion gave the doctor a side-glance while Dr. Carlton sighed and pinched his brow. “Maybe visitors would help her recover,” the young father suggested hopefully. “We could see if the Sullivans are interested in having dinner sometime.”

“I’ll go call Drake…” the doctor trailed off as they heard sobs coming from the bedroom.


Many weeks later, Brion opened their door to admit Drake and little Oscar. “Hey there Brion. How’s the missus?”

“Not too great. We’re hoping you guys will lift her spirits.” Brion replied as he closed the door softly behind them, all the while holding his baby. As of a week ago, Dr. Carlton had decided the extra medicine was no longer necessary.

“Still no cryin’?”

“Nah. Getting stronger every day, but haven’t seen or heard any tears yet.”

“Well, you’re worried now, but you’ll be dreamin’ of this time soon enough. My man Oscar here cried every night until he was two!” Drake ruffled his son’s hair affectionately. “I can’t believe he’s already four!”

“Time sure does fly, doesn’t it? I can’t believe it’s already been six months since my little one was born. We never thought…Well, anyway, I’m glad things have mostly worked themselves out. The skin’s less transparent now, look!” Brion shoved his smiling, flailing child into Drake’s arms.

“Daddy, where’s Guy?” Oscar tugged at his father’s sleeve. Drake peered questioningly toward Brion.

“Here, let’s go see what’s she’s doing.” Brion took Oscar’s hand and led them to Gaia. Her bistre hair was ratted and tangled, her eyes sunken. She sat staring into oblivion.

Oscar ran to her and patted her on the shoulder “Guy! Come play with me!” he shouted excitedly.

Gaia’s only response was to shrug his tiny hand off and turn away. Tears started to fill the boy’s eyes. “Oscar, my man, com’ere,” Drake soothed, offering a hug to his spurned son as he handed the six-month-old back to its father. He embraced him tightly as wailing filled the room.

It was the Durants’ child, lifting its voice for the first time. Everyone in the room, even Gaia, stared in shock as the infant cried fiercely against Brion.

Moments later, an explosion boomed throughout the small home. Cackling joined the baby’s wailing. “You thought you could hide from me? Brion, I’m disappointed. Your father would never let you leave home for long.” Zoran’s gravelly voice wafted through the smoke. “You and the girl come out slowly and the doctor here won’t have to lose his head.” Dr. Carlton’s form appeared as the air cleared.

Wild-eyed, Brion pushed their infant into Gaia’s hands, pushed a finger to his lips and snatched the sword from their mantle. Drake and Oscar backed into a corner as the golden haired boy walked out of their home, concealing his weapon behind him.

Gaia, hyperventilating, stole into the bedroom. This was the first time she’d held her infant. Tears began streaming down her face, panic, shame, guilt, and disgrace weighing her down. A scream and the smell of blood pierced the air. She hugged her child to her. “Hush now, Bionca. Momma’s here now. Momma’s here….” Her grip tightened as their cries mixed with the sounds of battle.



Brittany Teodorski


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