Using the back of her arm, Alexis swiped at the sweat beading on her forehead. She fought to drown out the agonizing screams that we're coming from the woman before her. Blood coated her hands as she squinted her eyes in concentration.
"Come on Margaret, you can do it. Just a few more pushes." Glancing up she smiled as the woman, "you'll be able to hold your baby soon."
Looking back down, Alexis held in a grimace. Pushing out her baby would be the last thing this mother would do. There was already so much blood and no way for her to stop it.
At her high pitched scream, the door to the small house flew open and Alexis was met with a panicked face. "Mr. Tufford, please. You can't be in here."
Alexis watched frustrated as she was ignored, but didn't have the heart to tell him to leave. Looking up from her position she watched as Mr. Tufford kissed his wife's forehead before quietly whispering to her.
Taking a deep breath she went back to work helping to ease the large baby from it's mother's small body. This was a scene she had witnessed often. A scene that at one time rarely ever happened.
With one last push, a baby's cry filled the air. Snipping the cord, Alexis worked quickly to make sure the airways we're completely clean and that the baby looked healthy. Nodding her approval, Alexis handed over the child to it's failing mother.
"It's a boy."
Looking up at the grief stricken father, she shook her head. She had warned them after their last child that another would kill her. With one last glance in their direction she exited the small house.
The cool night air was a welcomed relief to her burning skin. She had sat in the heat of the house with the mother for hours, tending to her and keeping the fire going. She was surprised the baby had lived, not many do. It was the reason that the Tufford's decided on another child, their first never took her first breath.
Leaning over a bucket of clean water, Alexis scrubbed the blood from her arms. She wanted to cry tears of joy, it had been a long time since she had seen life take it's first breath, but the lose of the mother would not allow it.
It had been twelve years since the virus spread. Twelve long years of painful deaths and families being ripped apart. Just three years ago she had cried over her mother's body. Her father had died four years prior. Now it was just her and her sixteen year old brother.
Alexis gritted her teeth. Everyone knew who was to blame. The government had tried to push it off as if it were some type of crazy act of God, but she wasn't stupid. They knew what was happening, they knew who caused this. Then he appeared. If she ever came face to face with him, she'd kill him.
Sighing she shook her head. How could she kill him? He never fully showed his face. His identity was a mystery to all. It didn't matter, he was protected. Apparently he has some type of cure, but it came with a price. A price she could never imagine meeting.
Packing up her small kit and shoving it into her bag, Alexis began the long trek home. Her brother, Ben, had a tendency of waiting up for her. No matter how many times she told him he didn't need to, he still would. His response was always the same, 'I'm the man of the house sis, I have to make sure you get home okay'.
Alexis enjoyed the quiet that surrounded her walk home. She could still faintly remember how noisy life used to be. The constant yelling, honking of the horns and sirens. She didn't miss it. There were however things she did miss, like mint chocolate chip ice cream. She could almost taste it.
Things like that we're no longer affordable for people like her. You had to have money and status in this new world she lived in. The cost of running a freezer for a week that could keep that ice cream cold was way out of her price range. She'd have to work two lifetimes to afford it.
Sighing, Alexis looked to the sky. The moon was full, it's light giving just enough to guide her way. A smile tugged on her lips when she patted the pocket knife she picked up for her brother. He had seen one at the market once but refused to allow her to get it for him. Ben was a good kid, he never gave her any trouble and was always willing to help. It was the reason she had started taking more house calls. Winter was coming and she needed to make sure they had enough for them to survive on during the cold months, but she also had to get this for him.
Inhaling deeply, Alexis caught the smell of chimney smoke. Stepping around the last turn she smiled. Her brother was waiting up for her again, and if she knew him, she would be coming home to a hot meal. Ben may only be sixteen, but he grew up quick. All kids had to.
The wind was slowly picking up and Alexis snuggled deeper into her thin jacket. Sighing, she knew tomorrow morning would be spent picking the last of the fruit and vegetables from their garden. She couldn't allow any of it to go to waste, if winter decided to be extra long they would need it.
Stepping into the house, Alexis stomach rumbled at the smell of stew wafting towards her. She hadn't eaten since this morning, and that had been nothing more than an apple. She had rushed to scarf it down when Mr. Tufford had come to get her.
"Ben, you up?" Alexis called out as she hung up her bag and jacket.
"In the kitchen!" Ben yelled out, sounding as if he were out of breath.
Raising a brown, Alexis hurried across the house, stopping dead when she stepped foot into the kitchen. Her eyes widened at the sight of both Ben and his best friend Fred leaning over a table sawing at a piece of meat.
"Benjamin, what are you doing? Where did you get that?" Alexis gasped before stepping forward.
Ben looked up with a grin. "Mark."
Alexis groaned. Mark had made it his mission to make sure they were both taken care of. They always had meat and she was thankful for it, but she also knew Mark wasn't just being a good neighbor. On more than one occasion, he had tried to cozy up to her. He even went as far as stealing her first kiss.
"Fred, please give your brother our thanks."
Alexis listened to the boys snicker before Fred answered, "you could always tell him, Lex. He's outside packing some of it in the cellar. He said with the weather getting cooler, it will keep the meat nice and cold for you."
Alexis groaned, Mark was a good guy but she just didn't like him like that. After her father had died he started coming around more, and when her mother passed he almost became like a permanent fixture in the house.
Both of her parents were doctors and after the plague hit, they began teaching her everything they knew. They knew it was only a matter of time before everything started going down hill and wanted to prepare her. Once the power went out they packed up what they could and set out to find somewhere else to live. Being in a big city just wasn't a good choice.
It didn't take long before they came across the house they live in now. It had been a living village once, and the main house had everything they needed to survive. Mark's family, along with two others, followed not long after. Each family choosing a house and profession they wanted to do. It had been agreed on that this village would remain a working living village.
Alexis was pulled from her thoughts at the sound of a throat being cleared. Glancing up she saw a smiling Mark and it was then that she realized that they were alone.