Christine's expecting her first child
And Baby Makes Two
I have seen many tragedies in my cursed existence. The Rosy Hours of Mazda ran stained my hands with the blood of hundreds, the stench of their death so strong that even the Sultan's garden could not over power it. For years I have carried the memory of their blood, their death, in my mind; smelling it as keenly now as I did then, drowning the memory first with Opium and later with Morphine in a vain attempt to escape the pain lavished so viciously upon my soul. Still, nothing, not even the hordes of dead piled before my merciless Punjab lasso could prepare me for this.
She'd gone into labor nearly sixteen hours before. Innocent enough with the sudden drip of her broken water, soon followed by the expected pain as her body prepared to pass our child. But the child did not come and the pain only continued to worsen. Trapped beneath the Opera House where we'd made our home, I was unable to provide her with the common curtsey of a doctor or even a midwife. No, it was only Christine and I, and a merciless agony that gripped her in its wake, dragging her deeper into oblivion.
I knew childbirth to be a messy business having watched several gypsy women birth their own babes. I knew what to expect. I was prepared - or so I thought. The bleeding had only continued to increase despite my best efforts to slow it; its stench rising carefully buried ghosts and the mess flowed through my hands, pooling at my knees where I crouched before her. She lay before me now exhausted from a birth that would not be, covered in a film of sweat that beaded from pale skin. No, I realized with trepidation, pale it was she'd once been. Now her skin was translucent, the ugly veins showing clearer in her than even my death's head had managed. I knew in that one sickening moment as her eyes sought mine, their once deep blue now a faded gray; that my angel would not live. She would die, taking our baby with her and I would be left alone.
Her once beautiful voice rasped with pain as her hand sought mine. Desperately I grasped it, held it, unwilling to let go...unable. She smiled, her hand pulling mine to her swollen stomach where I could still feel the babe moving, although it too had begun to fade, it's movements becoming slower, weaker. They were dying. Tears rolled down my face as I begged every god I'd ever known to save her, save them. Her hand tightened around mine as another spasm of pain ripped through her already battered body.
She smiled at me kindly, her free hand tracing the outline of my face as she drew me near, pressing a firm kiss to my half lips.
"Erik...I won't make it..."
"No Christine! Nononononononon..."
"Erik," she soothed pulling my face to hers once more placing soft kisses on mangled flesh. "Promise me something, Erik. Promise me you won't let our baby die."
"This is all I ask of you," she whispered, her eyes turning fierce as they locked my gaze. "Erik...carve it out. Carve out the baby before I die, or we're both lost."
The nauseating stench of blood and death rushed into my throat, strangling me with their madness, for madness it what this surely must be. Carve it out?! Carve the child from your living flesh?! "Christine..." I choked not believing, not wanting to hear, to see the reality before me. "Christine I can't...I..."
"Do it Erik!" I shrank away from the woman before me. She was not Christine. This wasn't real - none of it was real! Her eyes watered, tears streaming down her face, blood slipping from between her thighs. "Please Erik! PLEASE!" Desperation crept into her face, her nails digging into my flesh. "Save our baby! Do this for me Erik!"
I'll never know where I found the strength. Somehow I stumbled to the drawer, removing a prized dagger she'd bought for me on our anniversary. Numb I stared at the fine silver etchings, the razor shape blade knowing in a few moments it'd cut into the soft flesh of my dying wife. With shaking hands I returned, standing before her as the executioner, the world spinning wildly before me in a rush of blood and death. I found myself again in the arena, staring up at the Sultana, an ugly grin plastered to her face as I made the first incision; her cruel laughter, her mocking tone engulfing me as I made a second incision, and another. My hands sank into soft flesh, entrails wrapping around me, sliding against my murder's hand as I searched for my treasure. Daroga's voice rang in my ears.
Promise me you won't kill anymore...
My hands closed around one tiny leg, moving to support a small head as I pulled my baby free. I nearly retched as the mangled child looked at me, my own ugliness scarring its body. My angel, my beautiful Christine had died to birth this monster - my monster.
I couldn't look at her, not knowing what I'd done. I'd killed her. I'd poisoned her with my unholy seed and she'd died. My angel would now leave me, return to heaven and leave me with my hell spawn. Disgusted I prepared to throw it down, drown it the instant I could remember how to move.
"Let me see him..."
I debated it. Oh how I wanted to lie to her, tell her that her son was a perfectly healthy baby, but I could deny her nothing, especially not now. Weeping, I collapsed beside her, thrusting the boy at her, waiting for the first scream.
"Oh Erik..." she whispered with a tenderness that caused me to stop breathing, "he's beautiful." I watched stunned as she placed that first kiss of his scarred flesh, her eyes filling with tears as she gazed at me. The light in them was almost gone. I couldn't speak. She smiled, her hand caressing mine weakly, our son cradled on her chest.
"Promise me Erik...you'll love him for both of us."
I nodded dumbly, tears falling from my eyes. Her smile weaken slightly as she mouthed the words, I love you.
She was gone.
I sat there for hours watching my dead wife, cradling our son in my arms, pressing desperate kisses to his scarred flesh. I'd promised her I'd love him for both of us, and this was as good as place as any to start. Looking into his deep blue eyes, I smiled. "Let me tell you a story Christin, about a beautiful angel..."