[WP] Sunday Free Write [Link to post.]
“You’re sure it won’t hurt my son?” Liv Hansen, a pale woman with short blond hair, asked the doctor. She and her husband, Arik Hansen, sat in the OB-GYN’s small office exploring their options. Her right hand rested on the bulge that took her nine months to grow, her left hand entangled itself with Arik’s. The Hansen’s finances were tight, but Dr. Olsen offered them an opportunity.
“No more than getting an ear pierced. It does sting, but it’s something the child will quickly forget,” Dr. Oslen said. He reached into one of his desk drawers, pulled out something that resembled a hot glue gun, then handed it to Arik. He examined the device. He touched the sharp point, then flipped it around to fiddle with the two number wheels on the back. The wheels reminded him of a lock, he turned them to create different two digit numbers. When he felt he looked at it enough he handed the gun back to the doctor. Dr. Olsen noticed the tattoo on the back of Arik’s left hand, the Earth with the number 37 drawn in gold numbers, and he gave a slight smile.
“We call this a microbrand,” the doctor said. He nodded at Arik’s tattoo to hint at the similarity between a tattoo and a brand. “As he is born, we will tag the back of your son’s ear with a number if you choose to participate in the study. To the naked eye the mark will look like a freckle, but the number is only visible under a microscope,” Dr. Olsen explained.
“And what is this study exactly?” Arik asked. He pulled his hand off the desk and out of sight. Dr. Olsen sighed, then stood up from his desk. He walked around it to shut the door to his office, then returned to his seat. He leaned over the desk toward the couple and spoke in a quieter voice.
“I won’t waste time telling you that,” Dr. Olsen looked at Liv, then nodded. “You’ve already had heartbreak once in this office, I don’t want to see you folks suffer more than you have to. I promise if you agree to participate, your son will be in the control group. The worst your son will endure is the microbrand, and monthly checkups until he’s 18.” The doctor leaned back in his chair and gave them time to deliberate. Arik looked at Liv. She nodded and squeezed his hand. Arik turned to Dr. Olsen to agree, but Liv squeezed his hand again, harder. He heard the sound of water hitting the doctor’s tile floors.
“I think he’s ready now,” Liv said while rubbing her stomach with her right hand. Dr. Olsen pressed a button on his intercom, and second later a nurse appeared.
“Get Mrs. Hansen ready for delivery, I’ll be there shortly. Mr. Hansen has some paperwork to sign.” The nurse nodded, Liv kissed her husband on her way out of the room. When Arik turned back around Dr. Olsen had several papers laid out on his desk. The doctor handed Arik a pen. “By agreeing to the study all hospital costs will be waved, and you earn a stipend every month until your son’s 18th birthday.” Arik eagerly signed every paper placed in front of him. After the paperwork Arik and Dr. Olsen joined Liv for a slow delivery. Liv labored for four painful hours before her son began to crown, then finally the doctor managed to pull the child out. Arik smiled when he saw his son glowing with a slight golden light. He knew no one else could see the child’s light, so he leaned down and whispered into his wife’s ear.
“He’s a Unique!” Liv gave him a weak, tired smile and nodded her head.
“Which one?” she asked. He shrugged.
“I can’t tell yet, I need to hold him. He’s a Conqueror though, that much is obvious.” Arik watched the doctor preparing the microbrand gun while the nurse held his son steady. If events had happened in a different order, Arik might have been able to interrupt the doctor. Instead, the doctor made his comment after he pulled the trigger on the boy’s ear.
“Little boy, we don’t know your name yet. Around here we’ll call you patient 42.” Upon hearing “42” Arik realized he should hold is son first, to check which Unique Soul he was. However, the number was already imprinted on to the infant and he began to cry in pain. As he cried his luminous glow grew even brighter, and his cries grew even louder. Arik heard the nurse gasp while she held the child, the doctor took several steps away from the baby. Arik knew that everyone could see the glow now that his son had been awakened.
The boy’s crying evolved into a scream. A solid, drawn out wail like that of a banshee filled the room. The doctor covered his ears and ran out of the room leaving the nurse holding the child at arm’s length. Arik looked at his wife. She gathered herself into a ball at the head of the bed, as far away from the child as she could get in the room, and covered her head with a pillow to drown out the sound. His first instinct was to comfort her, he went to her side and grabbed her hand. He gave her some of his energy to help fortify her against the aural assault.
“I CAN’T ANYMORE!” The nurse yelled and let the boy drop to the ground. She ran out of the room covering her ears. Liv removed the pillow from her ears and nodded at her husband.
“Go check on him,” she said over the wailing. Arik chuckled.
“Apparently he’s a Calavera, we could drop him out a 100 story window and he’d be fine.” Arik walked to the child flailing on the ground. Several cracks spidered out from under across the white tiles. His tiny angry fists caused more cracks each time he hit the ground. He picked up the child and soothed it by releasing some of his own golden energy. The boy began to calm down, his shriek died down. Arik walked his son to his wife, and handed the child over. She embraced the child and kissed his tiny forehead.
“That shriek was horrible. I’ve never heard such a dreadful sound, it made me so afraid,” she said while rocking the child. Arik nodded.
“He should have an equally dreadful name,” Arik ran his hand across the boy’s forehead. “Welcome to the universe, Dread.”