With so many people on lockdown, escape for a short while to a world of fantasy. For a FEW DAYS only, the price of our collection of short stories, ‘Weird and Peculiar Tales’ will be reduced to 99p/99c.
Remember, if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download an app to enable you to read it on your phone or other devices. Happy reading and stay safe.
And now for a free short story.
‘Are you sure you can’t be pregnant?’ Paula asked.
‘Not unless I’m an elephant. It’s been two years since I broke up with Rob, so it’s highly unlikely. Perhaps it was too much chocolate over Christmas. I must get round to renewing my gym membership, and start swimming again to get fit.’
‘But you’ve lost a lot of weight recently, and if you eat any more fish, you’ll turn into one. I couldn’t believe how much Sushi you got through at that restaurant we went to last week. Make an appointment with the doctor and let me know how you get on. Catch up soon. Bye.’
‘Well, Nerissa. You’ve definitely got a bump there,’ the doctor told me. ‘We’ll carry out some tests, but for a healthy young lady in the prime of life, the obvious answer is also the most likely. Tell me, do you feel it moving at all.’
‘Yes, especially when I have a bath. It seems to like the water.’
‘Well, there you go then. A future Olympic swimmer. I’ll set things up, and give you a call in a day or two.’
It was impossible. I couldn’t be pregnant, and yet all the signs were there. Perhaps I shouldn’t have watched that film ‘Alien,’ it was making my imagination run riot. Then there was that weird event when I’d been on holiday. I’d signed up for a scuba dive, something I’d never done before but discovered I was a natural. Against all their regulations, I’d managed to go off on my own, and spent time exploring a hidden underground cave. It was a surreal experience, but perhaps I’d run short of oxygen as I had an hallucination about meeting a Poseidon-like figure. The organisers gave me a rollicking when I returned to the main group, but it was worth it for the magical sights I discovered.
A few weeks went past and the bulge in my stomach became more noticeable. I was restless and couldn’t settle to anything. My work suffered, and I received a verbal warning from my boss. All I wanted to do was go to a beach, and watch the waves crashing in the March winds. Perhaps it was my hormones. My follow-up appointment with the doctor didn’t help much.
‘Come in and sit down, Nerissa. I’ve had the results back from the various scans, but in a way they haven’t brought us any further forward. All the tests indicate you are pregnant, but there’s no sign of a baby. There is something there, but frankly, we’re not sure what. The next step would be to book you into the research hospital for a week, so we can get to the bottom of it. How do you feel about that?’
‘To be honest, I’m not sure I like the idea, especially the experimental bit.’
I was interrupted by the sudden loud noise coming from my stomach, and the feeling of the alien moving frantically around. Instinctively, my hand dropped to my belly to reassure it, as I could see the doctor had heard it too. At least it wasn’t my imagination.
‘Does that happen a lot?’
‘What, the moving about or the noise?’
‘Either, or both. It’s a fascinating phenomenon.’
‘Yes, most days. Look, I’ll have a think about the hospital and let you know. Even if I do agree, I’ll have to sort out time off work, and I can’t afford to be without an income. I’ll see how it goes for a few weeks, and decide then.’
As soon as I left the surgery I started shaking, feeling as if I was in danger, but the alien as I called her, settled down and seemed reassured. If it was a “she,” I needed to start thinking of some names, and how I was going to cope. There was no one I could confide in, and the local Mother and Baby group seemed inappropriate. After stopping at a café for some fish and chips, washed down with fizzy water, I felt much better and decided to go back to work.
‘What are you doing here?’ Sally demanded as soon as I walked through the door. She was the head of staff and her word was law; even the M.D. was scared of her. ‘I’ve heard from your doctor and you’re on indefinite medical leave. Full pay for six months, then half pay after that. Now get out of here before you infect the whole building. And don’t come back until he gives me the all-clear.’
She made it sound as if I had a contagious virus, and surely the doctor had no right to take over like that. I felt like a leper, and that night I had a terrible dream. Two gigantic shadowy figures were fighting over me, each trying to pull me in different directions while others in the background looked on. Eventually I woke, screaming and soaked with sweat. At least I thought it was sweat. The sheets were soaking wet, and as I threw off the duvet, I noticed they were covered with small pieces of scaly skin. Stripping the bedding to wash it, I found green, slimy plants leaving a trail on the floor to the bathroom. Was I losing my mind? For a few days things were back to normal, but then I received the letter.
Arrangements are confirmed for an indefinite stay at the H20Marine, research and investigation facility from Friday 31st January. You will be collected from home by private ambulance at 9 a.m. The use of mobile phones, laptops and similar appliances is strictly forbidden to prevent cross-infection. Please do not bring anything with you. All clothing, toiletries and other requirements will be allocated upon arrival at the centre. We look forward to welcoming you and would remind you attendance is compulsory.
The being in my stomach went crazy, kicking and moaning with that strange, swampy sound to which I had become accustomed.
‘Don’t worry, Sirena, I won’t let them take us.’
By the time night fell, I had found my passport, packed a suitcase, booked the flight and was on my way to the beach-side hotel where I had first learnt to dive. My mind was in a panic as I went through customs. Would the police be looking for me? Would they class me as unfit to travel in my condition? My relief was palpable as everything went smoothly, I was given my room key, and fell asleep with the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks below my sea-view window.
The following morning, I changed into a swimsuit, and headed directly to the beach-shop where I bought a snorkel. Sirena bounced happily in my stomach as I swam in the warm water, and dived and frolicked without a care in the world. As if by instinct, I rediscovered the secret cave and sat for a while on a rock at the entrance, with the warm sun beating down on me. Eventually I knew my time had come, and leaving the equipment behind, I took a deep breath before plunging into the cavernous depths of the water in the grotto.
It seemed perfectly natural to be able to breathe underwater, and as Poseidon welcomed me, I knew I had reached my destiny. With a final push I released Sirena into her inherent environment, my only concern whether she would be able to breathe air if, or when, we ever returned to dry land.
© Voinks January 2020.
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