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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Most Frakked-Up Thing I've Written

Well, the title's misleading.

At the time I wrote this, it was, indeed, the most frakked-up thing I wrote.  Since then, things have gotten worse.  (Or better, depending on your perspective.)

In case you don't know, I'm in the middle of writing a novel called Diary of a Second Life.  I won't say much more about it except that it's a diary (derp) being written by a 15-year-old boy.  I expect to be done with it in February, add the editing phase ... maybe published as early as mid-March.

So, here's a portion of the book.  Click on the Diary itself to read it:


I'm writing this on 30 December because I just couldn't write about the 27th when it happened.  I needed time.

Mom went into labor very late at night.  We got the medic and he helped while I kept my siblings in the side room.  I remember the birth of my brother, Moss, pretty well.  I remember the cries he made when came out and the laughter from my parents.

This time, I heard Mom straining and I heard the medic talking.  I couldn't tell what he was saying but then I heard my mom cry.  I left Colt in charge and walked slowly into the room.  She was laying on the bed and Dad was hugging her.  The medic was wrapping it in a cloth and Mom saw me.

"Your sister didn't make it," she said.

Dad turned and walked toward me.  I thought he was going to be mad at me for coming in, but instead, he hugged me and pulled me close.  "I need you to do me a favor." I didn't say anything.  "Go get the general and ask him to come here."

I said I would and I left.  It only took a few minutes to wind through the tunnels.  I saw the sunrise in the reflectors.  I wanted to stand and watch but I kept going.  I got to the door with the star on it and knocked.  I heard a locker open inside and then close.  A moment later, the door cracked.

"It's Wess Marin.  My father asked me to get you, sir.  My mother had her baby and she didn't make it."

"The baby or your mother?" he asked.

"The baby."

He opened the door and I saw he was wearing old pajamas.  He nodded and said, "I'm sorry about that."  He went into another room and I heard him putting on clothes.  A moment later he came back and he was fitting his belt around his waist.  The pouches got bunched up and he cursed while he tried to straighten them.

I turned in the tunnel and headed toward home again.  The general was right behind me.  It was a short trip but the general spoke to me as we walked.  "How do you like being a watcher?"

I said it was fine so far.

He cleared his throat and said, "Good.  Your father's the best watcher we have.  That's why he's going to be general one day."

I stopped and turned to look at him but he walked past me and knocked on the door.  Dad never told me he was going to be general.

The door opened and my father was standing there.  "Sir."  That was all he said.

"Patton, I'm sorry."  The general took a step and put a hand on my dad's shoulder.  I saw him shiver … I think he would've started crying but he stopped himself.  "This was number three, right?"

"Yes, sir."

The general nodded and walked inside.  "That's it, then."  I didn't know what this meant.

I walked in and saw Colt, Sarah and Moss standing near the tables.  They just watched as we walked through the main room and into the room with Mom and the medic.

Dad didn't tell me to stay behind so I followed.  I was a man now, so I figured I should be a part of the grown-up things that go on.  Mom was holding the baby and crying.  The medic was gathering his things and he spoke to the general quietly.

Dad went over to Mom's side and looked at the baby.  I stayed near him and decided to look, too.  I wish I hadn't.

She was so small.  Her eyes were closed and I noticed very quickly that her face wasn't even.  Her left eye and cheek seemed to be higher up than the right.  Her nose was twisted almost all the way to one side.  The top of her head was lumpy and not rounded at all.  Her color looked completely wrong.  She wasn't pink or red and she wasn't pale either.  There was a strange green look to her skin. 

I realized I was staring at her with my mouth open and I jerked away toward the wall.  My mouth went dry and I leaned my head against a picture frame.  I heard my mom cry again and she asked a question that made me even sicker.

"Are our children going to be declared bottlenecks?"

My eyes opened wide but I didn't look away from the wall.

The general answered, "No, not now.  We'll just have to be careful about how they're bonded.  You two, though, are homozz.  I can't allow any further attempts."

What is "homozz?"

Mom cried again and Dad asked another question, "We're the third homozz couple in just the last few months, general.  What are we supposed to do?"

The general sighed and said, "I don't know."
I leaned against the wall and it felt like I was flipping through a picture book in my mind.  Every other page was that baby's face.  In between, I saw the people of Lee.  Some of them were bottlenecks.  Some were homozz, whatever that meant.  I saw the fields and the old buildings and the farm animals.

That was it.  I pressed my head against that frame until it hurt as I tried to force the thought to become solid in my mind.  All of these problems: the animals, the size of Lee, the still babies, the cousins, the bottlenecks … it's all to do with how people have babies.  We're all too closely related.  We're all cousins.

Remi is my third cousin but my parents were third cousins, too.  Does that mean we'd be homozz?  Does that mean we'd be giving birth to bottlenecks? 

I thought about this all day long.  After so many years with only so many people in Lee, there just wasn't a way out.  Every baby that was born was more and more likely to be like my dead sister.  By the time I got in my locker later that night to sleep, I knew Lee was going to die.

That thought came later.
While I still pushed my mind to form those ideas, I heard the general undo his pouches.  I turned and looked at him and he removed his mallet and two thin nails.

"I'm sorry, but we need to do this."

My dad nodded and Mom hugged the baby closer again before crying out loud.  The medic took her and wrapped the cloth around her face as he began to leave the room.  The general was following with the tools.

Dad kissed Mom's forehead and started to walk out, too, but the general turned and pushed his chest.  "Patton, you don't have to do this.  I'll take care of it."

When my father breathed out, his shoulders fell and he seemed inches shorter.  He looked weaker and tired.  I thought he might start crying but he nodded instead.  The general left and Dad went back to hug Mom.

I put my head back on the wall.  I'm glad I didn't have to watch.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! Patton. Something mysterious going on. Pre-WWII story? Another book to add to my reading list. :)