The Birthing Suite (Short Tale Tuesday)

She was startled awake by the sound of a trolley being pushed through the hospital hall outside her room. It was still dark, but it’s never completely dark in a hospital.  She froze, a dream coming back to her, hard and raw. She glanced over at her twins, wrapped snuggly in their plastic cubes. She smiled, relieved to see they were okay. In the dream they hadn’t been.

Images and sounds rose up in her mind, unbidden. A nurse. A tiny blue tablet.

‘It’s okay, darling. You’ll be in labour tomorrow. We’ll just give you this mild sedative so you can sleep and have as much energy as possible for the birth. You’re going to need it.’

Her eyes squinted. It was weird that she had woken up just as she was in full-blown labour. John was only allowed in the birthing suite after she’d given birth.

Dull pain. A bright light overhead.

‘The babies are stable but we need to get her in the cryon liquid, now.’

‘We might not lose the infants this time.’

More images flashed in her mind, a montage of horrors. Images that filled her with fear. She knew it wasn’t a delusion. The images were too real. Too shocking. She needed to know the truth.

She slipped out of the bed and felt a warm trickle between her legs. Her hand grabbed the bed railing while she let the dizziness pass. She looked back at her girls; she’d be as fast as she could and make sure no one saw her.

After poking her head out of the doorway, she moved cautiously though the empty hall. The hem of her white gown whispered against her ankles as she moved, but her bare feet made no sound against the tiles. Letting the images lead her, she took a sharp turn to the right and then to the left. She came to a door. She knew she’d seen it before but she hadn’t given birth here, so what was this place?

She found the door ajar and slowly opened it. The room was dark except for a red light illuminating a  tall cylindrical tank in the middle of the room. She closed the door and moved closer to the source of the light. As she did, her stomach tightened. It was true.

In the tank was a human.

She already knew who it was.

It was her.

There was no mistaking the shape of her nose, the length of her neck. Everything about the woman in the tank was a perfect replica—except that her skin was transparent. Every organ could be seen working in time with each other. Her eyes moved down from the head but she knew what she would see next. Nestled inside the uterus were twins, healthy looking, hearts beating and ready to be born. She looked closer. Two girls. Repulsed, she stumbled backwards, tripping and landing hard on the cold floor. She gasped for air, like she was trying to remember how to breathe. This was wrong. What on earth was happening?

She ran back to her room, paying no attention to the noise she made this time. Her babies, she had to get back to her babies.  She set her eyes on them and, as though they felt her distress, they woke and started crying. She picked each one up, crooning softly to them until they settled. Thank god.

What had happened to her? Was the hospital cloning her and her babies? What are they going to do with them? She felt a strong urge to flee, get away from this awful place. She knew she couldn’t demand to know what was going on, she would put her babies and herself in greater risk. This was obviously illegal and against her will.

‘Is everything okay in here, darling?’ The nurse pushed her head through the door.

It was so unexpected; she couldn’t hide the panic in her voice.

‘Ahh, yes, thank you.’

The nurse put her hand over her mouth. ‘You know, don’t you?’

‘No.’

‘You do. It’s okay, Melissa, everything is going to be okay.’

She couldn’t hold fear back anymore. Her body went into defence mode.

‘No, it’s not going to be okay. You’re cloning me and my babies,’ she pulled the baby capsule trolley behind her putting her babies a protective distance away from the nurse.

‘Calm down, honey. We’re not doing that. The lady you saw wasn’t you but a different woman. She needed some of your placenta cells, so that we could save her babies.’

‘She is me. She looks exactly like me. She has my two baby girls. Do you think you can play god? What did you do to me?’ she cried.

‘It’s not you Melissa… It’s your twin sister.’

‘Twin sister? But I don’t have a…’

Suddenly she recalled part of the dream.

‘We might not lose the infants this time.’

‘Thank goodness we found her twin. The President will be very pleased.’

‘Yes, you do have a twin sister and you helped save her and her babies last night.’

She felt like a rat in a maze, lost and confused, with no clue where to turn for answers What the hell was going on? How could she have a twin sister? Where did the President come into this?

Would she ever know the truth?

Did she even want to know?

Want to read on? The story continues here.

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