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Author's note: This pasta is adapted from "New Life" with permission from Iron Mosquito.



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There she was. Sweet Annie. I could hardly believe my eyes.

We had responded to a call from the suburbs; a pregnant young lady’s water had broken on her way back from work, right on her doorstep, no less. The voice on the other end of the phone had sounded familiar, but I never could have anticipated who it would be. I suppose it was just dumb luck that led us to meet again, or perhaps some kind of divine intervention.

The rain was particularly heavy that day. It came down in lashing sheets as me and Harris hoisted her arms over our shoulders, while a few intrigued bystanders watched from a distance. We were hardly fazed, of course; we had done this type of thing many times before, trained for it, even. You’d be surprised just how common a situation Annie's was.

We shuffled to the back of the ambulance as fast as we could. Harris laid her down on the stretcher and gestured for me to run around to the driver's seat. I darted out onto the wet tarmac, almost colliding with the path of a battered sedan like a moron. The driver, a fat old man in an ill-fitting suit, begrudgingly held back a honk of his horn, shooting me a fierce glare. I mouthed an swift apology, flinging open the ambulance door and jumping at the steering wheel, Annie's muffled grunts barely audible behind me. God, she was beautiful. That smile. Those eyes. That cute little ponytail that waggled as she walked. It pained me to hear her in such agony.

The ambulance lurched forwards with the press of my foot upon the pedal, and as it rounded corner after corner, barrelling down street after street, I let my mind wander. It just didn’t seem fair that Annie’s baby was to be brought into the world at the hands of strangers at the hospital, people who had never even seen her beautiful face before. After all her struggles, the 9 months of pain and hardship, what fate would the baby behold? Seized by adoption, to an uncaring family who would never truly accommodate its needs? Or worse, Annie would choose to raise the child as a single mother, wasting the prime of her life tending to the every requirement of an unwanted infant. It saddened me. There seemed to be no positive outcome.

And at that very moment, I had an epiphany. I would take the burden of raising a child into my own hands.

It was a long drive to our newest destination. Keeping a level head was more difficult than I expected. As Annie’s screams became louder and more violent, I worried that she might squeeze out her offspring prematurely. The thought of Harris delivering such a precious creature sickened me. Even as I heard him calm her bout of suffering, a feeling of immense jealousy stabbed through me. Why wasn’t it me tending to her needs, the handsome prince to my damsel in distress? Why was I stuck carrying out some menial servant task like a simple-minded plebeian?

Alas, there was nothing much I could do, not until we got where I needed us to be. I couldn't just pull over and ask to switch places.

Some time passed, and Harris’ growing worry became apparent.

“You’ve turned down the wrong street,” he cried out. “We’re heading away from the hospital. There’s not much time. Take us back down Sandy Lane and turn right!”

But I listened not. Besides, he clearly had more important matters to attend to.

Adrenaline kept my hands firm and steady, my shifting eyes wary of the ever-changing surroundings. Beads of sweat dripped down from my forehead like raindrops down the ambulance’s window. Cars hurriedly slid out of my way like obedient vermin as our destination grew ever closer.

One by one, the dainty houses and refined office spaces gave way to growing layers of foliage. The road ahead thinned, fading from city black to country brown. Traffic weakened, and cars quickly switched from plainly-coloured city-crawlers to quad bikes, trucks, and motorcycles. A small smile creeped up the side of my mouth. There wasn’t much further to go now.

Harris thumped on the wall that separated us.

What the fuck are you doing? Have you lost your shit? Turn us around!

On and on he ranted, threatening to get me fired or report me to the police. I chuckled as I saw our destination rising from beneath the hills, only another half mile away.

It was a lonely shack, half-burnt, half-rotted, and almost completely concealed by a thick pocket of trees. It hadn’t been acknowledged or glanced upon for generations, let alone visited. The perfect venue. I metaphorically patted myself on the back for finding such a hidden gem.

How did I know such a location existed in the first place? Well, let's just say that the shack wasn't always uninhabited.

I could barely contain myself as I pulled into the driveway. My foot pressed carefully on the brake, making sure that the stop was as gentle as possible. The screeching blare of the sirens finally came to an end, and I sunk down a little in my seat, temporarily relieved, yet wary that my mission was not quite over yet. A quick pat of my trouser pocket reassured me that my revolver was still there, awaiting my grasp. It was something I always kept on my person, for emergencies.

Well, special emergencies.

The ambulance door swung open, and the pleasant sound of Annie’s voice was just able to be heard as the leaves crunched beneath my feet. Harris pushed open the back doors, greeting me with an incredulous look.

“What-”

The boom of my gun made me flinch a little, though not as much as it used to. The back of Harris' skull burst outwards in a terrific firework of blood and brain matter, showering the ambulance wall and Annie along with it. He was gone in an instant. I expected to perhaps feel a pang of sympathy for my colleague of so many years, but nope. Nothing but apathy.

Annie screamed, this time out of pure terror rather than from the pain of labour. I stepped up to her body, lifting it into my arms and carrying her out of the ambulance. Patches of blood were stained on her face and hair, colouring her dress in thin sprinkles.

In the space of a minute, we had reached the shack. The door collapsed inwards with a single kick, splintering into musty pieces. Bugs and insects skittered upon the filthy walls as we moved into the bedroom, where a collapsed bed frame lay in wait for Annie’s tender body to lie upon. I put her down and breathed a deep sigh of relief. No-one would bother us now.

It didn’t take long to get ready. I squeezed on a pair of rubber gloves and donned a standard surgical mask, but that was all I had on me. I prayed to whatever twisted God above that it wouldn’t become a C-section, otherwise I might’ve had to improvise. With no anaesthetic, of course.

Using my forefinger and thumb, the first thing I did was reach into Annie’s vagina and peel back her cervix. The baby’s head was just visible amongst the various fluids. Annie was incredibly tired, close to passing out through exhaustion. I had to hurry.

She was brave throughout the whole ordeal. Her face was constantly layered with a thick film of sweat, which I did my best to absorb with a wipe from my sleeve. Most of the 'procedure' involved me screaming at her to push, a command that she rarely failed to obey. Rather quickly, I could already see the baby’s pinkish head start to emerge.

As delicately as I could muster, I gripped its head with the tips of my fingers and pulled. Annie yelped, her skin turning an almost purplish colour. Finally, the baby emerged. Its soft body waggled in my arms, giving me a joy the likes of which I had never quite experienced. I held my little girl up in my arms.

“Look, Annie. It’s our baby. Our beautiful baby girl. You made it. I’m proud of you, honey.”

But Annie said nothing. She responded with a mixed expression, both overjoyed at the birth of her child, and terrified as she remembered who I was, thinking back to what had happened on that night 9 months ago. I took a moment of reflection too, pondering on what a magnificent experience it was. Even through all the screaming and pleading me not to, I have a sneaking suspicion she may have enjoyed it somewhat.

Alas, poor Annie could not seem to handle the circumstances. She was overtaken by a sudden shortness of breath, and she clutched her beating chest as if it had been caught in a vice. Her head began to sway gently side to side, and I knew instantly what fate was to befall her. It was a shame to see such a beautiful woman slip from this world, but I took pleasure in the fact that she had fulfilled her biological purpose.

Content, I removed the umbilical cord with a soft pull, still cherishing my princess in my arms. I stared deeply into her eyes, spotting the same beautiful twinkle I had seen in Annie's when I first met her. It was at that exact moment I decided that this gift of a daughter was to be named after the very thing that brought it into this world.

Annie was reborn.



Written by Cornconic
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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