Lilith

17 years ago…

Marion Bloomfield had not felt right all afternoon. When she thought about it, she realized that it had started that morning, just as she and her husband had entered church. She remembered that she had just dipped her fingertips into the Holy Water, and was crossing herself, when the first burning pain had begun to gnaw at her.

If they had eaten that morning, something that they never did before church, she would have thought it to be heartburn, such was the way it felt. As it was, she passed it off as yet another of the bizarre symptoms that she had experienced during her pregnancy, and did her best to ignore it.

The pain, however, had only grown worse as the day went along.

She had declined to eat anything at breakfast, which had made Paul, her husband, feel uncomfortable, and he had pushed his own plate aside after eating only half of his breakfast.

Paul had grown accustomed to his wife's mood swings, despite the fact that several times they were violent and angry, but something about today was different. Often, when he would stare at his wife, while she was not looking, the hairs on the back of his neck would rise, and a feeling of utter dread would envelope him.

With that sensation of darkness seeming to smother him, Paul would wonder what had happened to the joyous life that they had once know; the times of love and happiness that had been their co-existence.

As much as he hated it, Paul realized that everything had changed when Marion had become pregnant; something five different doctors had told them would be impossible.

Desperate to escape the ever-growing sense of unease that seemed to be striving to reach a culmination that day, Paul took to his workshop in the garage, fiddling with various unfinished woodcrafts. With only three weeks left until the baby was due, Paul had decided that it was time to finish the crib that he had at one time been happy to work on.

Paul let himself get caught up the working, the whining of the saws or the lathe like a beautiful sonnet to his troubled soul, and soon the rest of the world - his world - was forgotten.

He lived only in the wood, shaping it to perfection, and nothing else existed for him in that moment.

He jumped when the hand fell on to his should, jerking him back to the real world, and his panicked start caused him to push more forcefully on the spindle that he had been working against the lathe. The round shaft, with its intricately formed curves was instantly, and irrevocably, ruined.

"What?" screamed Paul, whipping his safety-goggles off of his face and throwing them across the shop as he turned to see who had disturbed him.

Paul's heart skipped a beat, and his face blushed red with shame and embarrassment as he saw his wife standing behind him, one hand still in mid-air from where it had touched his shoulder, the other resting atop her swollen belly.

"Honey, I'm so…" he trailed off, blinking, as he suddenly realized that his wife looked…terrified?

"Marion?"

Marion's eyes slowly drifted down, and Paul followed her gaze, gasping as he saw that the front of her dress was soaked, water still dripping from within its folds, a puddle forming underneath her that trailed her progression into the shop.

"Oh, God, it's time," exclaimed Paul, rushing to his wife's side and guiding her back towards the door, delicately trying to rush her to the car.

"Something's wrong, Paul," she whimpered, now rubbing her stomach with both hands as he guided her on.

"Don't worry, Honey," he reassured her, finally reaching their Caravan and opening the door for her. "I'll call the doctor on the way. Everything'll be fine."

"Paul," she nearly pleaded, not letting him close the door. "Something's not right, Paul."

Paul hesitated for a moment, a dark, panicked gleam in his wife's eyes telling him that she was deadly serious, but then he gently nudged her into the van and closed the door, saying "Let's get to the hospital and let the doctor decide that."

The ever-increasing torment and anguish of the past nine months was nothing compared to the fifteen-minute drive to the hospital, and Paul was ready to simply leave Marion standing on the stoop while he drove off. Her insistence that something was wrong, irritating as it was, had finally given way to sobbing cries that she wasn't ready to die.

That was what had nearly sent Paul over the edge; Marion's wail-full proclamations that she was going to die.

He knew that having the baby would mean the end to the life that they had known, but damn it, it meant that a better, more loving, more full-filled life lie a head of them, didn't it?

Barely restraining his resentment, fighting against the nearly overwhelming instinct to simply drive away and never return, Paul put the van into park and leapt out to help his wife.

Marion began screaming hysterically as they drew up to the entrance doors, nearly collapsing on the weight-sensitive pad that threw the doors open automatically.

Paul struggled to keep his wife from dropping to the hard ground, two nurses rushing out to help him, a third one trailing them with a wheel chair.

It was all that they could do to get the frantic woman into the wheel chair, her screams growing in intensity, her body trembling and shaking violently.

Several other staff members and doctors ran to the emergency room entrance, desperate to find out what was so disastrous, and they all halted in stunned shock.

Paul, and the nurses that had been helping him, suddenly quit trying to restrain Marion, all of them taking a step back in terror as a wet ripping sound blasted from her.

Marion's face was twisted in agony, her knuckles bone white from her grip on the armrests of the wheel-chair, the front of her dress darkening as those about her looked on in horror.

The dress moved and bulged as if something were moving beneath it, and Marion's screams increased, filled with pain and terror.

The wet popping sound, soft as it was, seemed to echo through the entire area as the front of Marion's dress exploded outward, leaving a ragged hole of cloth and bloody flesh.

Several of those present started gagging and vomiting, the sight of the dead woman in the wheel-chair, with her stomach blown open to reveal a twitching baby laying inside of her, more than even their professional experience could allow them to handle.

In the horror of the moment, not a single person gave heed to Paul, who was beginning to waver.

Despite the cacophony of panic that was raging around him; despite the screams of terror and revulsion; Paul could hear only a single sound; could feel only one thing.

The raspy gurgling that seemed to be his breath was accompanied with a burning pain that radiated from his throat, and spread through his head and chest.

With a numbness quickly encroaching his entire body, Paul felt at his throat, attempting to gasp as his fingers brushed against something hard, wet, and warm that was protruding from the side of his neck.

Without thought to what he was doing, shock rapidly taking him over, Paul pulled the object from his neck, completely unaware of the fountain of blood that was now spraying from his wound.

As his vision dwindled into darkness, Paul's last sight was that of the piece of rib bone that he held in his crimson stained hand, which had torn into him as if it were shrapnel.

In less than sixty seconds after her violent birth, Lilith had become an orphan.