Thursday, November 21, 2013
It’s been three days since my life turned upside down. I’ve been trying to record what happened in my journal, but every time I start I get freaked out. Here goes another attempt at writing down the unthinkable.
I guess it’s just best to start at the beginning. The beginning would be where I left off on the last entry. That’s when someone decided to interrupt my pity party by refusing to leave when I wouldn’t answer the door.
Yeah. That’s how to do this. One step at a time, from the beginning.
Feeling mean and ill, I went to my door and snapped, “Who the hell is it?”
There was silence for a moment, then a hesitant voice said, “Liaison Betra.”
I rolled my eyes. It occurred to me that Betra didn’t get a lot of things about Earthers. Like not answering the door means ‘go away’. How the hell does someone so inept at Earther etiquette get to be a liaison who is tasked with our well-being?
I decided to clear up this latest misunderstanding. “Go away. I’m not seeing anyone.”
“Are you all right, Matara Shalia?”
There was that question again. I snapped, “As a matter of fact, I don’t feel terribly good today. For all I know, it’s contagious. I let you know when I’m better.”
“I think you’d better open the door.”
Of all the replies I’d expected, that one wasn’t among them. I crossed my arms over my chest and scowled as if he could see me through the door. “Betra, just leave me alone. All I want is to get in bed and sleep until I feel better.”
“I’ve been ordered to bring you to Medical. Right now.”
I was startled to hear that, to say the least. “Why?” So help me, if Dad was making me get that stupid checkup...
“If you don’t come along willingly, I’m to summon a tech to sedate you and bring you in.”
My jaw nearly hit the floor. I was shocked, then furious. “Door, open!”
The door slid quietly out of the way to reveal Betra standing there, looking quite sheepish. Nevertheless, he stepped into my quarters as if he had every right to be there. “Get dressed, Shalia.”
“What the hell is going on?” I demanded. I was shaking with fury.
“That is not for me to explain.” He looked terribly embarrassed but resolute. “They’ll tell you everything in Medical.”
I had the sudden thought that something was horribly wrong. Dad’s insistence I get a checkup, Betra’s constant inquiries into my health, now this strong arm tactic to make me see the doctor ... how bad had I been hurt back on Earth from the smoke inhalation? What was it that Dad hadn’t told me?
Fear made me like a small child. “I don’t want to go.”
Betra grimaced. “I can’t give you the choice. Please, Shalia, go get dressed.”
I turned from him and went into the sleeping room where all my clothes were. Feeling numb, I changed out of my nice, Kalquorian-supplied robe and slippers and the nightgown I’d brought from Earth. I wasn’t even sure what I put on, only that there was a top covering my top and bottoms covering my ass. All the while I thought, It’s serious. Whatever it is, it’s serious. Why didn’t Dad tell me? My stomach, already doing lazy loops this morning, had gone into overdrive. If I’d eaten breakfast, it would have landed all over the floor right then.
I slid my feet into some shoes and staggered back out to the sitting room where Betra waited. His expression turned compassionate, and he stopped me as I moved towards the door.
“Just a moment, little one. Let me comb your hair.”
I stood woodenly as he did so, straightening the bedhead snarls with gentle strokes. I finally got the courage up to ask, “It’s bad, isn’t it?”
“Hush,” he whispered. “Everything will be all right. I promise.”
I wasn’t buying it. You don’t march a person off to the doctor against her will when everything is okay.
Once I was halfway presentable, Betra took my hand and led me out into the corridor. That he tried to comfort me with the contact only made me more frightened. I couldn’t imagine the dread diagnosis I was heading for.
That trip to Medical seemed to happen in the fog of a dream. I couldn’t feel my feet in their shoes as Betra gently tugged me along. Why had no one told me I was in danger? That it was so bad that they would threaten me with sedation to make me see the doctor? Was it already too late? Were my lungs on the brink of failing?
I was in so much shock that it seemed I blinked and I was suddenly in Medical. Waiting for me was Dad.
I stared at him in shock. No, that couldn’t be right. Nayun was back on Earth, not here. It was a vid. He was talking to another doctor, a much younger fellow than him.
As long and lithe as Dad is big and bulky, Dr. Tep (as I later learned his name was) was downright skinny – well, skinny for a Kalquorian. He had a much smaller build than Dad and Betra, but still managed to be more muscular than men on Earth. He had a long face with a slender nose and pointed chin.
Dr. Tep turned to me as Betra ushered me into the blameless white room filled with shiny machines that looked scary as hell. I recognized the full body scanners and the medi-beds. Those things had been brought to the Academy for Dad’s staff to use on us who were so unlucky as to need them. Most of the equipment looked like some kind of mad scientist shit though. It probably wasn’t as all bad as that, but when you’re panicked, nothing looks nice.
“Here’s your lovely daughter now,” Dr. Tep said to Dad. “Thank you, Betra. If you’ll wait in the sitting area?”
Betra bowed and left me there. I was shaking from head to toe. I stared at Dad who had turned to gaze at me with compassion and worry.
“What is it?” I asked dully. “Why didn’t you tell me something was really wrong? I thought you cared about me.”
Dad winced. “Shalia, everything will be fine. I had to get you off Earth. I couldn’t allow you to—”
He broke off and looked at the patiently waiting Dr. Tep, who watched me closely. “I think a current scan would help.”
Dr. Tep nodded. “Matara, if you would step up on the full body scan?”
When I couldn’t make my feet move, he came to me and gently pushed me along. I felt like I was being walked to the gallows. I didn’t want to see what they were about to show me. I didn’t want to know what had gone wrong after all. Yet I let Tep get me up on the platform between the scan screens. He did his picture-taking thing of my inner goriness.
“Let’s have you sit down before we go over the results,” he invited me.
Tep took my hand and pulled me from the scanner. He then had me sit on a flat examination table. Dad’s vid followed us about the room.
“How do you do that?” I asked, desperate to put off whatever terrible news they were about to hit me with. “Dad's vid going where you go, I mean.”
“The whole department is set up to accept transmissions,” Dr. Tep said. “It’s very useful if I’m in surgery and I need someone with more experience to advise me during the procedure.”
“I guess that would help.” I fell silent. I’d run out of chit chat.
Dad moved his hand, as if to touch and comfort me. When he remembered he couldn’t, he clenched it into a fist. “My daughter, your life is in no danger.”
“Then why am I here?” I asked. I decided I was going to stomp someone if it really wasn’t a big deal. They’d freaked me out and I was ready to be pissed off, which was better than being scared.
“It’s about this.” Tep brought up a large vid. It took a moment for me to note it was the inner parts of a person’s body. My body, it turned out, in all its three-dimensional grotesqueness. Beauty really is only skin deep, ha-ha.
My lungs looked pink and glistened wetly. I didn’t see anything that told me of damage.
Tep said something in his own language, and the abdominal part of my scan enlarged and zoomed in tight and fast. I was suddenly looking at something else pink, shaped vaguely like a kidney bean. There was a black dot on the most bulbous end and protuberances sticking out of the other. I blinked. I couldn’t make any sense of it.
“What is that?” I asked.
Dad’s voice was very soft. “It’s a baby. Your baby, my daughter. You’re pregnant.”
The table under my butt seemed to sway really hard. I dimly felt a hand steady me, and Tep’s voice sounded from far away. “Easy, Matara. Lie down until you absorb the shock.”
“Baby? Pregnant?” The squalling voice coming from my lips didn’t sound like me at all.
I’m not sure how long I lay there staring at the pink kidney bean. That was a baby? It looked so ... raw. Strange. Was that black dot an eye? And the little offshoots ... arms and legs?
“Pregnant,” I said again. I stared at the creature in the scan picture and tried to make it sound real.
After a while, I was finally able to talk some sense. I think. I remember asking questions. I remember getting a few answers too.
“How far along am I?” I asked.
Dad and Tep looked at each other. “It’s hard to say, Shalia,” Dad told me. “We’re ship doctors with little experience with pregnant women. Plus, this is a mix of Kalquorian and Earther, which also confuses things a little. Judging from the few pregnancies that have happened since Earther women have come to Kalquor, my best guess is four to seven weeks. Development can vary widely with hybrid fetuses.”
“I agree,” Tep said. “Besides making sure you would leave Earth rather than stay behind, we also wanted to compare your pregnancy to those of other hybrids. That’s why we waited so long to tell you you’re expecting. We’ve been trying to accurately pinpoint the time of conception.”
I kept shying away from that ‘p’ word, which is why I homed in on the first part of Tep’s statement. “Making sure I would leave Earth?”
Dad sighed and looked as if he was steeling himself to take a beating. “I was afraid you’d try to stay with Clan Dusa if you knew you expected a child. You had to get off this planet, Shalia. I couldn’t take the chance you wouldn’t leave if you chose to have the baby.”
I stared at him. “Chose to have it? What do you mean?”
Tep told me, “We can cryo-freeze the embryo if you don’t want to have this child right away. I would caution you to not make that decision yet while you’re in a state of shock, however. You do have a little time to think about it.”
I couldn’t think about anything. It was all beyond me at that point.
Before I made my stumbling, confused way back to my quarters, steered carefully by Betra, I did tell Dad, “I love you. I could beat you over the head with a sledgehammer right now, but I love you. I'm so mad I can't believe I'm saying this, but thanks for trying to do what’s best. I know your heart's in the right place.”
He managed a smile. “That’s my girl. Go see your friends. Cry it out, if it will help. I know this is huge. Once you’ve absorbed some of the shock, we’ll go over all the options and concerns you have about your choices.”
“Should I tell Dusa and the rest?”
Tep took a breath and Dad’s brows drew together. “Not yet, my daughter. Maybe—” he stopped himself and shook his head. “This is one of those discussions we need to have after you’ve come to grips with what’s happened. Do not tell Clan Dusa. Do not tell anyone on Earth that you are pregnant.”
“You and Clan Dusa are the only ones I speak to,” I pointed out.
I agreed I needed to wait, though. It was a bit too much to add to the already chaotic mess of my head.
I’ve been working on getting my thoughts straight about my surprise guest these last three days. I really have. I guess it worked, because a sudden and extremely unwelcome thought occurred to me last night.
With the mantra, ‘four to seven weeks’ running through my head along with Dad’s warning to not speak of the pregnancy to anyone on Earth, I searched back through my diary. Hoping against hope. Praying my hardest that the timeline I had in my head was dead wrong.
It wasn’t. In that time period I had sex with Dusa, Esak, Weln ... and Nang.
The father of the embryo I’m carrying could be Dramok Nang.