by Natasha Effendy

image1.gif
gif credits

At the stroke of midnight, his watch started to beep. With a mild exasperation, David Arthur decided to abandon his task to cross over to the desk where his belongings lay. 

The laboratory was dark – well, except his workspace. Under the fluorescent lights, he looked into a microscope to examine the tiny viral organism he had been researching for the past several months. It was an odd little thing. Both airborne and waterborne, it was contagious to both humans and animals. The virus had an acidic quality to it – after numbing your whole body, it would proceed to corrode all your internal organs. Though the incubation period was insidiously unpredictable, symptoms may include black blood oozing from every pore and bodily cavity. If not, there would be a show of nausea and fever that could potentially kill you. 

David felt a yawn overtake his face – it was getting harder to convince himself to keep working so he surrendered to his body’s needs. Transferring the sample into a test tube, he sealed it and labelled it “Virus X”. Then he headed over to an enclosed room to store the virus in a freezer. He heaved open the air-locked door to access where the other viruses sat, preserved in icy test tubes. One freezer, in particular, held the worst of the viruses. When that was done, he made sure to seal and lock everything in sight. Finally, he took off his lab coat, packed up his items, and finally left the laboratory. At least tomorrow was a Saturday. 

David vaguely heard someone call his name in his sleep. A couple of seconds later, someone nudged him. He groaned and cracked open his left eye. Hovering over him was his sister Stacy. She glared down at him. “Wake up,” she said, the frustration creeping into her tone. But he didn’t care – he went back to sleep. 

“Idiot!” she snapped and proceeded to drag out his pillow from under his head. David felt his temple strike against the hard spring in his mattress. Finally, he woke up (but not really). While it was his turn to glare back at her, she shot him a sweet smile. “Breakfast is ready,” she chirped. It was sure as hell too early for her antics. “Give me back my pillow,” David grumbled. The fluffy pillow crashed into his abdomen, and it was the perfect wake up call. He threw back the blanket and pulled himself out of his bed. 

When he opened the door to head out into the living room, all he could smell was bacon. Behind the kitchen counter, his sister was cleaning up after herself; she returned the condiments back to their positions in a shelf above her head and discarded her trash. Meanwhile, David went to toast himself a couple of bread slices. After Stacy finished the dishes, she breezed into the living room to relax on the couch. David turned his head to sneak a glance at her; she was absently flipping through the channels with a bored look on her face. It made him smile. 

Honestly, it was a pretty quiet morning. David was gobbling up the last of his bacon. Across the room, the news channel had come on. “David…” Stacy trailed off, “Isn’t that your workplace?”

“Huh?” he replied, a little distracted by the bubbles lacing his fingers. 

“Someone broke into your lab,” Stacy deadpanned, sounding a little distant. She became still. 

“What?” David crossed over to where she was sitting. His eyes were registering the live report on the screen. Many police officers were around the main entrance of his workplace, harassed by a couple of journalists who were shoving the microphone in their faces. A truck had stopped in the background, and out came people with encapsulated hazmat suits. His mind blanked for a second, followed by the memory of Virus X. “I…gotta go,” he mumbled, as if in a trance. 

He had to get to the lab as soon as possible. Trepidation soared in his veins, and at the sight of oncoming traffic, he slammed his hand against the wheel. David tried to focus on the road, but his thoughts were very well astray. His conscience kept jumping to conclusions, and before he knew it, he finally arrived. There were police and journalists and cameras, but there were also his colleagues lingering around. They were discussing something gravely – well until David burst into the conversation. He was panting. “What…happened…?” he wheezed, between gasps of air. 

“Someone broke into the lab…and all the viruses we worked on are gone.” his colleague Andrea spoke, her focus shifting to the hazmat-suited people. 

David felt faint in that moment. 

************

God knows where the virus had gone to, but within a month, it developed into a full-blown killer. From being hardly contained within the States, it decided to spread to other countries worldwide. Someone had made the mistake to travel overseas while infected, but the person claimed that he didn’t know he was being incubated at the moment. As a result, he infected the rest of the people on the plane, and they spread the disease to Italy. The domino effect was catastrophic; many people had died within weeks of being infected, and even the healthiest of people couldn’t fight the virus off. 

Meanwhile, the situation here was just as bad. Hospitals couldn’t cope with the increasing number of virus-infected patients or the bodies that suffered from the effects. Many of them gurgled the telltale black blood, and they stained bedsheets upon bedsheets. None of the medical facilities was able to support everyone; hell, even doctors and nurses had lost their lives to this unnamed virus. Many families and citizens evacuated the country, but there was nowhere else to go. 

David could see how slowly his city turned into a perpetual ghost town. Grasses went uncut, and they just kept growing taller. Bodies started to line the streets, and they became ubiquitous. Over time, the rats got to them, but they also got infected. Perishable items went sour in their shelves, and the electricity died down. A permanent blackout covered the city with this shroud of darkness. The remaining people who lived this far eventually had to take up the job of burning all the bodies; it was unpleasant, but it had to be done. 

In the background, David just kept working on an antidote to help those who were alive. This was the third month of the pandemic. The sooner he could find one, the better. Then he could work on duplicating the antidote and work on saving everyone. For some reason, he couldn’t really feel the effects of the virus on him, but then again, there were no conclusions on the incubation period. He devoted his time working on the antidote and rarely stayed at home. Instead, he settled on the lounge area for scientists, and soon enough, it became his second home. 

One morning, he went back to his apartment to check on his sister. He felt bad for leaving her all alone, but she didn’t mind it at all. Stacy hadn’t really called him back in a few days, so he had to see her. Just as David was leaving, however, he had an intuitive itch – and this itch was telling him that he should bring the antidote along. But he obeyed the itch anyway; he packed up the antidote into a small little vial. After all, he couldn’t risk losing yet another valuable research piece. 

He opened the door to his apartment and stepped inside. A stench he couldn’t place a finger on had tainted the walls, and it was pungent. “Stacy?” he called out. 

No response. 

When he neared the kitchen, he saw that there were a lot of unwashed dishes in the sink. “Stacy,” he grumbled to himself. Old habits do die hard – his sister never really maintained cleanliness or hygiene. David made himself a mental note to take out the trash before he left. The dishes could wait. After a few minutes of surveying the kitchen, he breezed into the living room. Her stationery had spilt out from a pencil case, and her textbooks weren’t closed. Well, at least the television was off. Then his eyes fell on her phone that sat on her notebook. When he tried switching it on, a flat battery appeared on the screen instead. No wonder. With a sigh, he decided to charge it for her. Going into her bedroom, he hunted for her charger. 

Unsurprisingly, her room was just as untidy. Unfolded bed sheets were the first thing that caught his eye, followed by how the curtains weren’t pulled back. When he walked further in, he nearly tripped over a stray piece of clothing on the floor. He rolled his eyes and kicked it aside. Guess she didn’t do her laundry either. He added this to his mental list, plus the task to wash the dishes and clear up the coffee table. 

At that moment, his nose caught the stench again. The stench. It was much stronger than before, and it seemed to come from the bathroom. “Stacy?” he called out again, gently pushing the door to the bathroom open. The smell was horrifying, and it smelled like death. Or, like someone was dying. Something cold brushed against his toes, so he switched on the lights. He looked down. He screamed. 

It was Stacy, and she was visibly unconscious. Other than her pale skin and seemingly dead eyes, she was lying in a pool of black blood. 

David kicked open the hospital doors with his unconscious sister in his arms. “Help! My sister’s sick!” he yelled, catching the attention of two nurses he sprinted by. He nearly lost his footing on the slick floor, and the hospital lights nearly blinded him. “Get her to the emergency room,” one of the nurses instructed him. By now, he was almost struggling to breathe; he had also lost a grip on his surroundings, and his vision was blurry. “Sir?” David heard the same nurse echo, “I think you need to sit down.” 

“Wh-” David began to protest when he saw his sister being wheeled out of the emergency room. Her arm dangled limply over the side of the bed, and all he could register was the sound of the wheels squeaking on the floor. Panic started to flare up inside his throat. “Wh-wh-where are they taking her?” he stammered, growing more frantic. Unfortunately, the nurse held him back with her hands on his shoulders. He fought back nevertheless. “I need to see my sister! Where-” 

“Please sir, you need to stay calm. They need to run more tests-” 

A baby’s wail shot through the silent hall. It cut off the nurse, and it silenced David into shock. He had not heard of a baby being born during the pandemic. Considering the conditions of the world, it was so unfit for the baby to even live. The baby kept wailing, sounding so strong and so healthy. The cries registered in David’s eardrums, and it was enough to anchor him down. It felt like a miracle, almost. 

“How…” David began weakly but found himself trailing off. 

“The mother needed an emergency C-section. She was overdue for almost a week, and she was dying because of the virus. The baby stayed alive somehow.” 

“What will happen to the baby?” he found himself asking. 

“We’re not sure yet.” the nurse replied quietly, “We still have to run a few tests first, to check if the baby’s okay.” 

At that moment, a doctor came up to him. Judging by the graveness of the doctor’s face, David could already tell that there were bad news. He got up, and the nurse took that as a cue to leave. Before he could even say anything, the doctor asked him to follow her. A stench lined the hallways too, and it was very much like the one he inhaled earlier. However, with the pungent antiseptic smell of hospitals, it was rather…dulled down. Muted. Not as bad. They passed by a couple of rooms, and they had their doors ajar. Most of the beds had been stripped, leaving nothing but a metal frame and a bare mattress. The image haunted him, and he decided to look away. 

The doctor stopped in front of a room that came with a window. David could see his sister inside, seeming to sleep peacefully. He was so fixated on the sight of his sister that it felt like a dream. Her feet were bare, and there was no blanket in sight. As for her clothes, they were probably changed by nurses, for they were clean. Impeccably white in colour, they hung onto her frail figure. Her dark hair spread across the pillow like tributaries. Unfortunately, he missed what the doctor just told him. 

“David,” the doctor repeated, with mild frustration. She took a breath to calm herself down. “I’m so sorry, but your sister is dying.” 

His body froze up. 

Not that the doctor noticed. “I’m going to give you a moment alone with her. I’ll give you some privacy.” She walked away, leaving him to battle the thing he feared most – Death. He could feel Death lingering cold in the room. Probably Death was sitting on the couch by the corner, just biding his time. Up close, his sister looked more haggard. His hand trembled as he set a hand down on her forehead which felt like a heated kettle on the stove. She was burning with fever. The sweat that lined her temples like fake diamond rhinestones glistened as her hair remained glued to her skin. 

“David.” his sister whispered. Her eyes fluttered open, and a ghost of a smile lined her lips. She brought a hand to his cheek. 

“Stacy.” he replied back, but he suddenly ran out of words to say. His mouth ran as dry as a desert, and he racked his brain for vocabulary. A word would be more than enough really- 

“There’s no saving me,” Stacy said again, breaking her brother out of his train of thoughts. She shook her head. “I’m dying. Your stupid virus has got to me.” 

“Don’t say that. We have to try. The doctors have to try. You-you have to try,” David pleaded. He took her hands into his own. “You can’t die like this. I-” He suddenly remembered the antidote. “I have something, yes. Something! I can save you, Stacy.” His sentences started to speed up as he grew feverishly excited. “I-I have the antidote. I don’t know if it works but I can do it. I can-”

“No. Don’t save me David.” she whispered, “Not me.” 

“I can’t,” he started to feel tears burn his eyes. 

“Save yourself then.” 

“But I feel fine.” 

“Then save…the…baby…” Stacy breathed. No, wheezed.  

“What baby?” 

Before she can respond, a cough started to wreck her body. She gradually sat up, but her coughing worsened. It couldn’t stop. With horror, he watched as his sister cough and cough until black blood started to stain her front teeth. Every part of his body screamed at him for to move. Do something. But he remained paralyzed. He just remained in his seat, feeling hopeless. Just as he started to gain feeling in his hands, his sister threw up black blood. It splattered all over her shirt, and even onto his own clothes. He met her eyes who stared back at him, now bloodshot with irises reminiscent of belladonna berries. Then her eyes rolled back into her head and she collapsed back. 

“Stacy?” he gently shook her. She didn’t wake up. “Stacy!” he cried out, shaking her roughly. He dared himself to check her pulse, a thing he immediately regretted. 

There was no pulse in her wrist. 

************

 

David found himself standing by the window that looked into the baby ward. There was just one baby, and judging by the sky blue beanie over the head, it was a boy. He was swaddled in a matching blanket, just sleeping. A little too peacefully for his taste. Besides the newborn, there was no nurse in sight. He stared at the baby with a loathing sensation blooming in his chest. A part of him hated the sight of that thing. He had spent the last hour crying. Grieving and wailing and cursing Death for taking his sister with Him. But for some reason, he couldn’t take his eyes off the baby. 

At that moment, he realised that the nurse from earlier was beside him, watching the same baby. Well, the only baby. “We don’t know what to name him.” she spoke, half to herself. 

David shook his head. “Excuse me?”

“His mother died before she could give him a name,” the nurse explained solemnly, watching the baby yawn in his sleep. She remained quiet for a moment. “No one’s left in his family to name him. Poor thing.” David didn’t say anything; he was still heartbroken over the loss of his little sister; lost to the virus he worked on. Yet, his eyes still remained on the baby. For some reason, the baby reminded him of Stacy. 

“Would you want to name him instead?” the nurse suddenly asked, her voice hushed. It sounded like an afterthought. David found himself nod slowly. He saw her smile in the peripheral of his eyes. “Well. What would you name him?” 

“Eustace.” David breathed, the name popping into his mind out of nowhere. Frankly, he was surprised at himself for conjuring up a name so easily. 

“Well then.” she smiled. “Welcome to this world, Eustace.” 

As if he heard his name being called, the baby smiled in his sleep.

David felt a yawn overtake his face – it was getting harder to convince himself to keep working so he surrendered to his body’s needs. Transferring the sample into a test tube, he sealed it and labelled it “Virus X”. Then he headed over to an enclosed room to store the virus in a freezer. He heaved open the air-locked door to access where the other viruses sat, preserved in icy test tubes. One freezer, in particular, held the worst of the viruses. When that was done, he made sure to seal and lock everything in sight. Finally, he took off his lab coat, packed up his items, and finally left the laboratory. At least tomorrow was a Saturday. 

David vaguely heard someone call his name in his sleep. A couple of seconds later, someone nudged him. He groaned and cracked open his left eye. Hovering over him was his sister Stacy. She glared down at him. “Wake up,” she said, the frustration creeping into her tone. But he didn’t care – he went back to sleep. 

“Idiot!” she snapped and proceeded to drag out his pillow from under his head. David felt his temple strike against the hard spring in his mattress. Finally, he woke up (but not really). While it was his turn to glare back at her, she shot him a sweet smile. “Breakfast is ready,” she chirped. It was sure as hell too early for her antics. “Give me back my pillow,” David grumbled. The fluffy pillow crashed into his abdomen, and it was the perfect wake up call. He threw back the blanket and pulled himself out of his bed. 

When he opened the door to head out into the living room, all he could smell was bacon. Behind the kitchen counter, his sister was cleaning up after herself; she returned the condiments back to their positions in a shelf above her head and discarded her trash. Meanwhile, David went to toast himself a couple of bread slices. After Stacy finished the dishes, she breezed into the living room to relax on the couch. David turned his head to sneak a glance at her; she was absently flipping through the channels with a bored look on her face. It made him smile. 

Honestly, it was a pretty quiet morning. David was gobbling up the last of his bacon. Across the room, the news channel had come on. “David…” Stacy trailed off, “Isn’t that your workplace?”

“Huh?” he replied, a little distracted by the bubbles lacing his fingers. 

“Someone broke into your lab,” Stacy deadpanned, sounding a little distant. She became still. 

“What?” David crossed over to where she was sitting. His eyes were registering the live report on the screen. Many police officers were around the main entrance of his workplace, harassed by a couple of journalists who were shoving the microphone in their faces. A truck had stopped in the background, and out came people with encapsulated hazmat suits. His mind blanked for a second, followed by the memory of Virus X. “I…gotta go,” he mumbled, as if in a trance. 

He had to get to the lab as soon as possible. Trepidation soared in his veins, and at the sight of oncoming traffic, he slammed his hand against the wheel. David tried to focus on the road, but his thoughts were very well astray. His conscience kept jumping to conclusions, and before he knew it, he finally arrived. There were police and journalists and cameras, but there were also his colleagues lingering around. They were discussing something gravely – well until David burst into the conversation. He was panting. “What…happened…?” he wheezed, between gasps of air. 

“Someone broke into the lab…and all the viruses we worked on are gone.” his colleague Andrea spoke, her focus shifting to the hazmat-suited people. 

David felt faint in that moment. 

************

God knows where the virus had gone to, but within a month, it developed into a full-blown killer. From being hardly contained within the States, it decided to spread to other countries worldwide. Someone had made the mistake to travel overseas while infected, but the person claimed that he didn’t know he was being incubated at the moment. As a result, he infected the rest of the people on the plane, and they spread the disease to Italy. The domino effect was catastrophic; many people had died within weeks of being infected, and even the healthiest of people couldn’t fight the virus off. 

Meanwhile, the situation here was just as bad. Hospitals couldn’t cope with the increasing number of virus-infected patients or the bodies that suffered from the effects. Many of them gurgled the telltale black blood, and they stained bedsheets upon bedsheets. None of the medical facilities was able to support everyone; hell, even doctors and nurses had lost their lives to this unnamed virus. Many families and citizens evacuated the country, but there was nowhere else to go. 

David could see how slowly his city turned into a perpetual ghost town. Grasses went uncut, and they just kept growing taller. Bodies started to line the streets, and they became ubiquitous. Over time, the rats got to them, but they also got infected. Perishable items went sour in their shelves, and the electricity died down. A permanent blackout covered the city with this shroud of darkness. The remaining people who lived this far eventually had to take up the job of burning all the bodies; it was unpleasant, but it had to be done. 

In the background, David just kept working on an antidote to help those who were alive. This was the third month of the pandemic. The sooner he could find one, the better. Then he could work on duplicating the antidote and work on saving everyone. For some reason, he couldn’t really feel the effects of the virus on him, but then again, there were no conclusions on the incubation period. He devoted his time working on the antidote and rarely stayed at home. Instead, he settled on the lounge area for scientists, and soon enough, it became his second home. 

One morning, he went back to his apartment to check on his sister. He felt bad for leaving her all alone, but she didn’t mind it at all. Stacy hadn’t really called him back in a few days, so he had to see her. Just as David was leaving, however, he had an intuitive itch – and this itch was telling him that he should bring the antidote along. But he obeyed the itch anyway; he packed up the antidote into a small little vial. After all, he couldn’t risk losing yet another valuable research piece. 

He opened the door to his apartment and stepped inside. A stench he couldn’t place a finger on had tainted the walls, and it was pungent. “Stacy?” he called out. 

No response. 

When he neared the kitchen, he saw that there were a lot of unwashed dishes in the sink. “Stacy,” he grumbled to himself. Old habits do die hard – his sister never really maintained cleanliness or hygiene. David made himself a mental note to take out the trash before he left. The dishes could wait. After a few minutes of surveying the kitchen, he breezed into the living room. Her stationery had spilt out from a pencil case, and her textbooks weren’t closed. Well, at least the television was off. Then his eyes fell on her phone that sat on her notebook. When he tried switching it on, a flat battery appeared on the screen instead. No wonder. With a sigh, he decided to charge it for her. Going into her bedroom, he hunted for her charger. 

Unsurprisingly, her room was just as untidy. Unfolded bed sheets were the first thing that caught his eye, followed by how the curtains weren’t pulled back. When he walked further in, he nearly tripped over a stray piece of clothing on the floor. He rolled his eyes and kicked it aside. Guess she didn’t do her laundry either. He added this to his mental list, plus the task to wash the dishes and clear up the coffee table. 

At that moment, his nose caught the stench again. The stench. It was much stronger than before, and it seemed to come from the bathroom. “Stacy?” he called out again, gently pushing the door to the bathroom open. The smell was horrifying, and it smelled like death. Or, like someone was dying. Something cold brushed against his toes, so he switched on the lights. He looked down. He screamed. 

It was Stacy, and she was visibly unconscious. Other than her pale skin and seemingly dead eyes, she was lying in a pool of black blood. 

David kicked open the hospital doors with his unconscious sister in his arms. “Help! My sister’s sick!” he yelled, catching the attention of two nurses he sprinted by. He nearly lost his footing on the slick floor, and the hospital lights nearly blinded him. “Get her to the emergency room,” one of the nurses instructed him. By now, he was almost struggling to breathe; he had also lost a grip on his surroundings, and his vision was blurry. “Sir?” David heard the same nurse echo, “I think you need to sit down.” 

“Wh-” David began to protest when he saw his sister being wheeled out of the emergency room. Her arm dangled limply over the side of the bed, and all he could register was the sound of the wheels squeaking on the floor. Panic started to flare up inside his throat. “Wh-wh-where are they taking her?” he stammered, growing more frantic. Unfortunately, the nurse held him back with her hands on his shoulders. He fought back nevertheless. “I need to see my sister! Where-” 

“Please sir, you need to stay calm. They need to run more tests-” 

A baby’s wail shot through the silent hall. It cut off the nurse, and it silenced David into shock. He had not heard of a baby being born during the pandemic. Considering the conditions of the world, it was so unfit for the baby to even live. The baby kept wailing, sounding so strong and so healthy. The cries registered in David’s eardrums, and it was enough to anchor him down. It felt like a miracle, almost. 

“How…” David began weakly but found himself trailing off. 

“The mother needed an emergency C-section. She was overdue for almost a week, and she was dying because of the virus. The baby stayed alive somehow.” 

“What will happen to the baby?” he found himself asking. 

“We’re not sure yet.” the nurse replied quietly, “We still have to run a few tests first, to check if the baby’s okay.” 

At that moment, a doctor came up to him. Judging by the graveness of the doctor’s face, David could already tell that there were bad news. He got up, and the nurse took that as a cue to leave. Before he could even say anything, the doctor asked him to follow her. A stench lined the hallways too, and it was very much like the one he inhaled earlier. However, with the pungent antiseptic smell of hospitals, it was rather…dulled down. Muted. Not as bad. They passed by a couple of rooms, and they had their doors ajar. Most of the beds had been stripped, leaving nothing but a metal frame and a bare mattress. The image haunted him, and he decided to look away. 

The doctor stopped in front of a room that came with a window. David could see his sister inside, seeming to sleep peacefully. He was so fixated on the sight of his sister that it felt like a dream. Her feet were bare, and there was no blanket in sight. As for her clothes, they were probably changed by nurses, for they were clean. Impeccably white in colour, they hung onto her frail figure. Her dark hair spread across the pillow like tributaries. Unfortunately, he missed what the doctor just told him. 

“David,” the doctor repeated, with mild frustration. She took a breath to calm herself down. “I’m so sorry, but your sister is dying.” 

His body froze up. 

Not that the doctor noticed. “I’m going to give you a moment alone with her. I’ll give you some privacy.” She walked away, leaving him to battle the thing he feared most – Death. He could feel Death lingering cold in the room. Probably Death was sitting on the couch by the corner, just biding his time. Up close, his sister looked more haggard. His hand trembled as he set a hand down on her forehead which felt like a heated kettle on the stove. She was burning with fever. The sweat that lined her temples like fake diamond rhinestones glistened as her hair remained glued to her skin. 

“David.” his sister whispered. Her eyes fluttered open, and a ghost of a smile lined her lips. She brought a hand to his cheek. 

“Stacy.” he replied back, but he suddenly ran out of words to say. His mouth ran as dry as a desert, and he racked his brain for vocabulary. A word would be more than enough really- 

“There’s no saving me,” Stacy said again, breaking her brother out of his train of thoughts. She shook her head. “I’m dying. Your stupid virus has got to me.” 

“Don’t say that. We have to try. The doctors have to try. You-you have to try,” David pleaded. He took her hands into his own. “You can’t die like this. I-” He suddenly remembered the antidote. “I have something, yes. Something! I can save you, Stacy.” His sentences started to speed up as he grew feverishly excited. “I-I have the antidote. I don’t know if it works but I can do it. I can-”

“No. Don’t save me David.” she whispered, “Not me.” 

“I can’t,” he started to feel tears burn his eyes. 

“Save yourself then.” 

“But I feel fine.” 

“Then save…the…baby…” Stacy breathed. No, wheezed.  

“What baby?” 

Before she can respond, a cough started to wreck her body. She gradually sat up, but her coughing worsened. It couldn’t stop. With horror, he watched as his sister cough and cough until black blood started to stain her front teeth. Every part of his body screamed at him for to move. Do something. But he remained paralyzed. He just remained in his seat, feeling hopeless. Just as he started to gain feeling in his hands, his sister threw up black blood. It splattered all over her shirt, and even onto his own clothes. He met her eyes who stared back at him, now bloodshot with irises reminiscent of belladonna berries. Then her eyes rolled back into her head and she collapsed back. 

“Stacy?” he gently shook her. She didn’t wake up. “Stacy!” he cried out, shaking her roughly. He dared himself to check her pulse, a thing he immediately regretted. 

There was no pulse in her wrist. 

************

David found himself standing by the window that looked into the baby ward. There was just one baby, and judging by the sky blue beanie over the head, it was a boy. He was swaddled in a matching blanket, just sleeping. A little too peacefully for his taste. Besides the newborn, there was no nurse in sight. He stared at the baby with a loathing sensation blooming in his chest. A part of him hated the sight of that thing. He had spent the last hour crying. Grieving and wailing and cursing Death for taking his sister with Him. But for some reason, he couldn’t take his eyes off the baby. 

At that moment, he realised that the nurse from earlier was beside him, watching the same baby. Well, the only baby. “We don’t know what to name him.” she spoke, half to herself. 

David shook his head. “Excuse me?”

“His mother died before she could give him a name,” the nurse explained solemnly, watching the baby yawn in his sleep. She remained quiet for a moment. “No one’s left in his family to name him. Poor thing.” David didn’t say anything; he was still heartbroken over the loss of his little sister; lost to the virus he worked on. Yet, his eyes still remained on the baby. For some reason, the baby reminded him of Stacy. 

“Would you want to name him instead?” the nurse suddenly asked, her voice hushed. It sounded like an afterthought. David found himself nod slowly. He saw her smile in the peripheral of his eyes. “Well. What would you name him?” 

“Eustace.” David breathed, the name popping into his mind out of nowhere. Frankly, he was surprised at himself for conjuring up a name so easily. 

“Well then.” she smiled. “Welcome to this world, Eustace.” 

As if he heard his name being called, the baby smiled in his sleep.

Recommended Articles

%d bloggers like this: