Friday, February 17, 2012

Chapter 108 - LIFE AND DEATH

The nine months since my return to Earth passed in a blur. One night, Patricia touched me with her warm hand and said those words every expectant father thrills at and yet dreads. “Liam, I think it’s time.”

All the plans, all the rehearsals, everything vanished from my head. I wanted to pick her up and whirl her around in joy, and yet I was afraid to touch her.

She was so practical right now, ‘get her bag and get the car ready.’ Yes, of course. That’s what I was supposed to do. Then I watched her mouth go all tight with a contraction and I was lost again. She gave me a gentle push out of the bed and I was off down the stairs calling for the car and thanking god I wouldn’t be the one driving. I’d probably get us both killed.

The driver came out of his room pulling his jacket on and said, “You better get dressed, Master.”

Yes, of course. I dressed myself in jeans and a sweater. Her bag, I forgot her bag. I turned back to the room and saw the source of my confusion standing at the head of the stairs with the most wonderful smile on her face; she had her bag in her hand.

I ran back up the stairs and took the bag from her and then helped her down the stairs and out to the waiting car.

She had two more contractions before we reached the infirmary and thank god for drivers who could think; Jackson had called ahead, and they were ready for us.

Who was I to know if things were going all right or not, but judging from the calm efficiency of the people around me, things were doing as expected. Watching your wife in pain must be the worst thing a man can go through, especially when there’s nothing he can do to make it better, and somewhere in the back of his mind, he knows that he is responsible for that pain. I told myself that I would never put her through that again.

Then the wands that sterilized the immediate area came out and the nurse told the doctor that she was ready. Drapes were draped everywhere. Strange utensils showed up on a small table and another small table was made ready with an assortment of small things.

Suddenly (I’m sure much more time than that passed, but for the life of me, I don’t remember what all happened) there was this tiny squalling thing with two arms and two legs all waving around in the doctor’s hands…then there was large gouts of blood. The baby was whisked away and gentle but firm hands pushed me aside.

Her hand dropped limply from mine and she was gone in seconds. It wasn’t until everyone was suddenly still that the realization of what had just happened hit me.

“NO!” I cried. I pushed my way back to her side and scooped her limp body into my arms. I tried to fix the damage with my magic. I did fix it, but it was too late. I made more blood. I started her heart beating again, but as soon as I tried to let her live on her own, it all stopped again. She was gone. How could this happen? What did I do wrong? I tried again to no avail.

A hand rested on my arm. “She’s gone, Liam. I’m sorry. We did all we could.”

I don’t know who spoke. I didn’t care. My mind turned to the only other source of help I had ever known, the only other place where my disasters had been sorted out and made right. Surely, they would be able to help this time too. It was mindless idiocy, but I wasn’t thinking. I spent the magic gladly.

The distance was massive. I don’t think I ever knew exactly how far that little planet was away from Earth. I didn’t consider the distance for a second, not until I arrived. It was a miracle that I made it at all.

I collapsed in a heap on the grass out in front of the cave complex that had been my destination. “Master Durmas, help me.” I could only muster a whisper. Then I was beset with another horror. My arms were empty. I had lost her.

Now, I thought about the incredible distance. Somewhere along the way, I had lost my hold on her. It was inconceivable, but I did.

I pushed myself to my feet. I don’t know how. I was so weak. I didn’t see the men coming from the mouth of the cave. I looked up at the stars. “PATRICIA!” I called, and then I sought to fling myself back out there in search of her. I had to find her. That’s when I felt firsthand what it was like to be the focus of two conflicting magics. I’m sure that I screamed. It felt like I was being ripped to shreds. Being shredded in the mouth of a giant basilisk would have been like a waltz through a rose garden compared to this. All thoughts of my intentions were ripped from my mind. The waves of blackness that washed over me were a welcome retreat, though I didn’t go quietly.

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