The hospital doors beaconed Anne inside with a mechanical melody, but she hesitated. Her gait was uncomfortable and penguin-like, and her knees struggled with the heavy load she was carried. There were still far too many steps to her destination, causing her to make a mental note: never again.
Her mother-in-law, Lydia, ushered her through the double glass doors. A flurry of words issued from her mouth, but Anne’s focus was solely on her condition. She was only half-aware when she sat down into a wheelchair kindly provided by a patient nurse.
Anne stretched and wiggled her toes in her sandals. A note of satisfaction escaped her lips. I should thank whomever it was that suggested to buy them. I haven’t been able to see my own feet for two solid months.
Her limited concentration was broken as the thought completed. A blood-curdling scream echoed from outside, and a disheveled young woman, the apparent afflicted, scrambled into the emergency room.
“She’s going to kill her!” the woman yelled.
Her slender frame revealed the potential source of her terror. Swollen hands, feet, and belly made her look awkward. Her hands clutched at the baby bump. Her thin cotton dress gave an illusion that the bump was growing with every step she took.
Anne stared at the womb for a moment but shook her head at the imagined bursting.
The nurse was already running to the woman’s side with a wheelchair. Lydia placed a hand on Anne’s shoulder and whispered something into her ear, but Anne was consumed in thought. Her own bump was sending pain through her.
“Hester… Golden,” she heard the woman answer a question she didn’t hear asked.
Her strawberry-blond hair was stuck to her forehead where beads of sweat dripped into her eyes and down her cheeks.
“Don’t you worry, Hester. We’ll take perfect care of you and your child,” the nurse said, consoling Hester with a gentle touch to her womb.
A bright spark between the fabric and the nurse’s hand erupted from the touch, and Anne instinctively jumped as the nurse snatched her hand away with a yelp. “Uh… must have been static electricity,” the nurse muttered.
Hester screamed again, and with it, wind blew across the emergency room from all directions. Anne quivered. She wanted to run out of the room. Something’s wrong. Something’s very wrong!
Anne fidgeted in her chair, but Lydia patted her shoulder again. Another contraction came, and a sudden surge of calm despite her fear fell upon her mind and body. The pain subsided, and her fear diminished. She thought for a moment how odd the change in feelings were. Her mind was clouded, she thought. She hadn’t even realized that they were moving forward through the hall to the maternity ward.
Hester’s screams followed from behind her as they were both rushed down the halls.
“You people don -don -don’t understand!” Hester’s voice rose in pitch and volume with every word. “She’s going to kill her! You’ve got to help me stop it!”
“Who’s killin’ who?” the nurse asked. Anne grimaced at the poor grammar.
“Rhiannon… Rhiannon’s trying to kill Shannon,” Hester answered.
Anne heard sobbing and turned to face Hester. For a split second, they shared a moment together. Both struggled with their situations in different ways. Anne was frightened, but she was serene. Hester’s face showed a wealth of pain and concentration. It was as if she was somehow battling some immense force far beyond her control.
The nurse pushed Hester forward and past Anne and Lydia. She entered the maternity ward with panicked exuberance. “She’s got twins. Something’s wrong!”
Anne watched the medical staff spring into action, momentarily more concerned for Hester than herself. She was comfortable in her realization that she would go ignored for the length of time it would take to deliver the troubled twins.
* * * * * *
Everything was a blur for Hester. So much happened in the span of minutes that she was not even remotely aware when they placed her on a bed. Words about feet and dilation eddied around the frantic room, but her concentration was focused solely on her babies.
Her brow furrowed, and she whined heavily with every breath. Her wilting body rose and fell in exhaustible energy.
“Hester,” she heard.
She blinked and squinted. Darkness encroached across the edges of her vision, and she was only just able to see the doctor standing over her.
His voice was calm but heavy with concern. “The baby is coming… It’s too late to do a C-section… I’m afraid – the baby has an umbilical cord wrapped around her throat. She’s choking.”
Hester whimpered and squeezed her eyes shut. Her thin lips were pursed and beads of sweat ran like rivers down her face and onto her ears.
Wind swept through the delivery room. Papers and smaller instruments fell to the ground with a simultaneous clatter, and the ground shook sending other equipment to tremble in their assumed stable positions. Hester heard the gasps and shrieks of the staff, but her focus remained. All the more reason to finish it now! – she thought.
She groaned with the effort of a bodybuilder lifting a 300lb bench press.
Electricity sparked from every machine in the room, causing the lights to flicker.
Nurses shirked back in fear and some ran screaming from the delivery. Hester cried in agony, but it still didn’t stop her from hearing the words demon and witch echo across the room.Shannon, please know I’m doing this for you.
The doctor remained. His face was intent on the baby, and he struggled to solve the problem at hand.
Hester opened her eyes and revealed blood-filled retinas. Her spasms increased in duration and severity, and she coughed expelling blood from her mouth. I can’t stop now! I can’t let her win. Even if it means my own death…
The umbilical cord loosened, and the doctor, despite his confusion, took advantage of the moment. “Push, Hester!”
Hester’s frail frame jerked. She focused all of her energy on this one act. The nurse called for assistance as she wiped blood from Hester’s chin.
The room went quiet. Machines echoed alarms as hearts slowed and flatlined. Hester heard and saw death for half a minute, but at the sound of a smack and a cry, her eyes snapped open. The doctor was holding a baby girl. Her tiny hands and legs twitched.
For a brief moment, Hester smiled. The babe’s blonde hair and shiny blue eyes stared back at her. A wealth of understanding appeared within them.
“H…I… Shannon Lee,” Hester whispered.
The babe’s fingers flexed while her gaze stayed intent on her mother.
Hester waved back at the gorgeous girl. Your sister won’t be able to harm you now.
She closed her eyes and clenched her teeth. The spasms returned in violent spurts. Involuntary coughs caused eruptions of thick blood to spill out of her mouth in streams.
You can have me, Death, she thought. My life for Shannon’s.
The ground underfoot shook. Equipment toppled over, and the doctor struggled to keep his feet. Instruments flew off shelves and towards the babe, but the doctor guarded Shannon despite cuts across his body. He walked unsteadily to the edge of the room.
Once Shannon escaped the chaos, everything went unnaturally quiet – like the calm in the eye of the storm. The doctor and the remaining nurse inched forward.
Hester let out a glass-shattering scream. Her body convulsed and rose from the bed. Her chest pushed up and her arms dangled back. Her scream resonated in the minds of those within close distance. You can’t have her!
Lightning sparked from around her body dimming the lights within the room and shrouding the corners in darkness.
Hester’s eyes grew dim, and she welcomed the encroaching twilight.
The levitation broke, and she knew in that singular instant that she had won.
She crashed onto the bed and the impact shattered its structural integrity. It buckled and sent her falling closer to the hospital floor.
Shannon’s cries pierced the walls of the delivery room as the machines connected to Hester started to flat-line.
Hester lingered between this world and the next. Her body may not have allowed her to keep fighting, but she’d be damned if she wasn’t staying to the very end.
The doctor and nurses worked hard to resuscitate her and to save the other baby, but her insides had been torn asunder to prevent the life of the other.
She watched them pronounce Rhiannon dead.
Shannon continued to wail. Her voice resonated through the ward. I’m sorry to leave you, Shannon, but now I can rest knowing you’ll be safe, albeit alone. I love you, kiddo.
Content with her efforts, her soul drifted from this life. With her, every question of what happened had gone unanswered.
(This has been posted for a friend to read the newest version of the first scene of my book. Still unhappy with it, so any feedback will be amazing! I’ve rewritten it sooooo many times now, and it’s doing my head in. lol)