5. The Fetus:
The mother stands on the balcony of the dilapidated block of flats, surrounded by peeling paint, rotten boards and broken windows. She stares unblinkingly at the harbor and the grey and white flecks of the stormy sea beyond. She waits for the father to claim his portion of the ownership of new life. Today, like every day for the past five months, she looks to see if she can catch a glimpse of the ship he left on. Sadly, not one of the ships bear the name Visionary and the coldness in her heart seeps into her body, making the flesh on her arms pucker up.
Her hands fold slowly over her large belly, touching yet not protecting the incubating egg. She feels the insistent movement demanding her attention. I will block it out, she thinks, I will not stoop to this adamant demand. She refuses to think of it as a child, afraid that this truth might bring her world crashing down around her, might shatter the brittle egg shell she has laboriously constructed. She wants no part of the fetus. This is purely a biological reaction to the meeting between sperm and egg, a five minute grunting episode quickly banished to the furthest corners of her mind.
The alien entity within her usurps and uses her physical body in order to grow, but it cannot touch her mind or emotions, she will not allow it. It feeds on her reserves like a parasite, leaving her bloated and sallow. The very sight of food, forces bile into her throat and she picks at it, relishing the idea that she is somehow punishing her egg. Still it grows and sucks hungrily at her being…unstoppable in its greed for life.
Inside the warm fluid-filled sac the fetus drifts in a world filled with dreams and lilting sounds. Here reds, browns and blacks abound and the only light siphons through the skin of the being carrying it. Sounds from the outside world are muted to extinction. The fetus’ ears attune to the swishing, gurgling, burbling and whooshing of nourishment, growth and bodily functions. Two hearts beat in syncopated rhythm, a bloody lullaby supposed to calm and reassure. Yet it knows no real warmth, love or security, it exists outside these normal parameters.
Ancient, instinctual memories boil in the cauldron of the fetus’ mind. Cruel memories of man’s loss of a heavy, scaly waterlogged body turns to nightmarish visions behind its closed eyes. Man casts the useless scaly flesh aside and walks on crudely adapted legs out of the freezing ocean. The first breath of air banishes the gills to the evolutionary pit. The slow process, characterized by excruciating pain continues until a hairy beast steps out of the mists of time and finds fire in the breast of fearful lightning strikes. Fire opens up a vista of possibilities, cooked food, protection, warmth, weapons.
The thrill of the hunt, the flashing of spears in the bright sunlight and the triumph as the mammoth lies dead and bloody on the arid steppes beats in the fetus’ heart. The evolutionary clock ticks and man builds shelters, wears clothes and close knit societies appear. The dark ages, black plague, expeditions, reformations, wars follow one another in dizzying succession. Science and technology rule and humans make leaps and bounds. Social norms and values predict behavior, yet man remains an instinctual creature ruled by dark unpredictable passions.
The fetus knows only the battle of surviving against all odds, knows that no love or protection will be forthcoming, knows that it will stand alone and have no-one to depend on. It claws its way to life, relying on its own inner strength and inherent instincts. It uses the knowledge gleaned from the ancient, instinctual brain to its advantage. Soon it will begin the battle down the birth canal, leaving this red- black-brown world behind and starting towards the light. It knows the pain of living, the pain that will touch its heart, mind and body as it begins the final downward push to life. It is not afraid as it is intimate with pain, knows it as one does a dear friend, since its earliest conception.
The fetus will come roaring into the world, but is the world ready for such as him? Can it survive such an instinctual being deprived of the most human of comforts? Will they see that a sociopath was born and will they run screaming in terror of the consequences? Or will they try to nurture, try to re-educate, try to rehabilitate? All solutions are doomed to sad failure, due to a mother’s loveless, cold heart and the absence of a father.