Remember all, when I post a prompt, I’d love to see what you come up with! Post in the comments or sent it to me to post if it’s too long…
When they handed it off to her, they weren’t sure what instructions they should give. It wasn’t like this had happened before, but it was moving, and so they knew something had to be done. They had tried to get doctors in time who might have known what to do, but labor had moved too quickly and now they were left with this little being that shivered and twitched.
Hazel wrapped the wrinkled and damp critter in one of the spare surgery sheets, snug but not too firm, as if it were any regular baby. Of course she knew it wasn’t normal. Nothing about that day had been normal.
She had been woken that morning by the air raid sirens. It took her a moment to realize that this wasn’t another drill–considering it was just 5am–and to drag herself out of bed and under her dressing table. She huddled there for a while as the power flickered on and off and she could feel a faint quiver in the earth. But things calmed down fairly quickly and the siren called an all clear. All in all, it was rather anticlimactic for her first real raid. It wasn’t until she had pulled herself out, used the bathroom, and was preparing to start her day that she remembered what the sirens meant. And she wondered who would be missing that day, whose names would scrawl down the leader board of casualties, tallied by city and state.
Hazel made it into work even earlier than usual, too wide awake from her abrupt start to the day to sit around at home and pretend to like the watery excuse for coffee that was all she could find at the stores. The tired old excuses about the coffee being needed for the national efforts was a cold comfort when trying to down a mug of the dirt flavored swill.
Once in the doors at Sacred Heart, she found that it was a good thing that she had gotten there early. It was barely 6 and the hospital was in full trauma mode. One of the emergency room nurses grabbed her arm and towed her to a makeshift sanitary station.
“Quick, scrub up. I know you’re an anesthesiologist, but we need to you to help triage.”
Hazel complied, running through the familiar motions as she took in the chaos. “What happened? Did an outage cause an accident? They take a bus driver?”
“You don’t know.” The other woman shook her head. “They didn’t take anyone. They brought some back.”
Hazel paused while drying her hands as her brain finally accepted what she was seeing. The people lying in beds all around the emergency waiting area were there, but wrong. They all seemed, well, the only way she could think to describe it was out of focus, almost as if their bodies were no longer in symmetry. She shivered as she realized they weren’t making a sound–the only noise was the clatter of carts and the rapid fire patter of the doctors and nurses as the tried to figure out whether they were all even still alive. There seemed to be some dispute over the matter.
“Where did they go?” Hazel murmured. “Does anybody know?”
The other nurse finished washing again and pulled on a fresh set of gloves. “They aren’t talking. We’re not even sure they can. Go start at the other side of the room, see if you can get responses from them.”
“How many are there?”
“They just keep coming in.” And she left Hazel on her own.
It wasn’t five minutes before Hazel found the pregnant woman. She seemed unmarked, unlike the rest of the people there. Everything was in its proper place and looked about as symmetrical as nature had intended. As Hazel checked her vital signs, she saw the ripple of a contraction convulse the woman, followed not a minute later by another.
“Doctor!” She hollered over the chatter of the other care-givers in the room “I need a Doctor! This one’s in labor!”
Hazel quickly checked under the woman’s sheet, wondering briefly at the fact that all of the people appeared to have come back naked. The woman was nearly fully dilated, but was not responding to any of the woman’s attempts to get a response. This was going to be a difficult delivery if the woman wasn’t responsive enough to push.
A doctor finally appeared at her side. “How long?”
“Her contractions are too close for comfort, and she’s nearly dilated, but she’s not responding at all.”
“Big surprise, none of them are.” He gave the woman a quick once over. “Alright, let’s get her into one of the operating rooms, see how this goes.”
They rolled the woman into one of the open theaters. Thankfully, they hadn’t figured out what was wrong with most of the reappearance cases to even begin to work on them. The doctor called upstairs for an ob-gyn and then got to work setting up a birthing table. They got the woman over and propped up, her contractions coming almost without pause at this point.
And she still gave no indication that she was aware of anything going on around her. But, despite Hazel’s concerns about the woman being able to help push, the delivery itself was fairly routine. It wasn’t more than a half hour from the time they got her into the delivery room till the time she had pushed out the afterbirth and once again lay still.
The delivery room had become crowded with staff, a good portion of their jobs in the emergency room now taken over by governmental doctors setting up quarantine rooms and sealing everyone into the building, including all the ambulance drivers and technicians who had brought in the reappeared.
The doctor turned to the crowd of sightseers with a bundle in his arms, obviously flailing arms and legs, but still not making a sound. No one would take it from him and he needed to go back to making sure the woman was alright after the birth, so Hazel stepped forward. She held out the folded over sheet she had found on one of the side table and he gently placed it in her arms.
It was too small, really. Probably only about 7 months all told, but it was robustly alive. As she wiped away the birth matter, it’s skin glowed an almost too-healthy pink. It seemed to have all its fingers and toes, things seemed to be where they were supposed to, but it wouldn’t cry out. It was the first live birth that Hazel had attended, but she thought for sure that babies were supposed to start crying in their first few breaths in clean air.
She laid it down on the mother’s old gurney which was still in the theater and dragged a stool over to sit and watch over it. It looked like a healthy, if small, baby girl. Hazel glanced over as the voices around the mother became frantic and machines started crying a warning tone.
The flat-line tone sounded and there was wild cursing, shouted questions about bleeding and tachycardia. Eventually they quieted down and pulled the sheet over the nameless mother.
Hazel turned her attention back to the child in front of her to find it had opened it’s eyes. They were a wild, bright green, more vibrant than eyes had any right being. She hiccoughed and then sighed, turning her head slightly to nuzzle against Hazel’s arm beside her.