Author : Roger Dale Trexler, for Karen Fiorino
The ship touched down on the barren planet. Tabitha Sandor piloted it alone, because the thing in her belly had killed everyone on the ship. It made her destroy the ship. There was no way for her to go home.
I’m not going home, she thought.
She looked down at the ever-growing lump of her belly. She knew that her sole purpose was to give birth to the thing at grew inside her.
Slowly, she reached down and stroked her stomach.
Yes, It thought. I am here.
She pulled her hand away, startled. She knew that the alien thing growing inside her could read her mind—knew, in fact, that it controlled her mind. It had made her get in the escape pod, made her eject the pod and drop to this war ravaged planet.
She stood and walked to the nearest port and looked out. The ground was flat and scorched black everywhere she looked. She wondered what sort of bomb could do such a thing.
A bomb more powerful than your kind have ever seen, the thing in her stomach replied.
A sharp pain coursed through her and she gasp. She staggered backward, grabbing a handrail.
Soon, It told her.
She returned to the pilot’s chair and sat. “What will happen to me?” She asked.
You’ll give birth, the thing replied. Just like human women have been doing since the dawn of mankind.
“Will I die?” she asked.
No, the thing replied. I need you.
You need me?
Another sharp pain ran through her and she doubled over, her hands going to her stomach. Through her clothing, she could feel the thing moving.
I should kill it, she thought. I can’t trust it.
You can trust me, Mommy, the thing told her. I love you.
Another volley of pain coursed through her.
I’ll be here soon, It told her. I’ll be here and we can be together.
As if to prove that, she felt a warm wetness between her legs.
Her water had broken.
I’m afraid, she thought.
Don’t be. It’ll be all right.
A contraction ripped through her and her scream filled the escape pod. She looked about her for something to stab into her stomach. But, there was nothing within her reach that would end her misery. Whether by design or sheer dumb luck, the thing in her stomach was protected from her.
Another contraction brought another scream.
You need to lie down, the thing told her. It’ll make it easier.
She wanted to protest, but the fight had gone out of her. She undid her safety harness and staggered out of her seat. She lay down on the platform between her and the escape hatch.
The pain dissipated.
She looked up at the controls to the escape hatch and realized that, if she opened the hatch, the toxic atmosphere outside would kill her. She tried, but the pain came back as she reached for the handle.
I’m coming, the creature told her.
A sliver of sheer agony ran down her spine and she screamed. Madness took her for a moment and she instinctively pushed.
Several other contractions and pushes later, she felt something slither from between her legs.
The agony of childbirth was gone and she slowly gained her breath.
When she looked down, she saw it.
And she screamed.
It rose above her, tentacled and hideous. Its fangs moved and, in her mind, she heard it say: I needed you, Mommy. To give me life.
And to give me nourishment.
It lunged forward and she screamed for the last time.