And now it’d been almost twenty-four hours since she’d seen Canyon last, right before he’d gone to work with the usual stubble on his cheeks. As she watched a gray autumn day break the horizon from their Arts District loft, he still wasn’t back. She thought of texting him again–or better yet actually calling him, making him pick up that goddamned phone and hear her voice–but felt moisture along her inner thigh and a dull contraction radiate through her pelvis. She tightened her grip on her phone, and when she felt more wetness along her knee and then a wave of mild nausea push through her, she knew from everything her older sister had told her and everything that she’d read online and everything that Dr. Morales had reinforced to her, that her water had just broken and baby Clark was finally on his way.
She called her sister to take her to Huntington Memorial in Pasadena even though she didn’t want to hear Marilyn bitch about how she’d always known that Canyon wasn’t the marrying type. This wasn’t the way Carmela had envisioned her delivery–or more importantly the start of her family, a brood of happy children, maybe three or four, and two doting but disciplined parents, all of them connected by blood and their ‘C’-names–but she was intent on making the best of an imperfect situation.
She’d met Canyon eighteen months ago at the farmers market in downtown Los Angeles, when he’d asked her if the space next to her on the steps was occupied. They compared lunches and chatted as people sitting on steps next to each other tended to do: he worked at a hedge fund headquartered in the building and she a nonprofit; he’d gone to college at UCLA and she to Stanford; he was Blue Lining it on the Metro light rail from Long Beach into work and she was Gold Lining from San Marino. He texted regularly thereafter but she was hesitant, declining his invitation to sushi in Little Tokyo, an outdoor movie in Pershing Square, and a night out with his boys barhopping. Her older sister, who’d always been protective, didn’t like him for her. “He’s a bit rough around the edges,” she said, even though she only knew him vicariously. But a month after they’d met and just as his pursuit of her was waning, they found themselves at the same happy hour at the same time, and he bought her two shots of tequila, and after an additional margarita chaser, she felt something click. Three months later they moved into a loft in the Arts District. He proposed shortly thereafter, and rather than dealing with the stressors of family interference and schadenfreude of friends, they went to the courthouse on a Friday morning in the fall and married.
“Don’t worry, Sister,” Marilyn said while she drove them up the 110, honking at cars that were already going the speed limit. “I’ll be right there in that delivery room with you, holding your hand and telling you to push. I’ll be cheering you on, Sister.”
Check-in was slower than she’d envisioned. She verified the facts of her life and signed consents before being led by a nurse to the elevator and up to the Labor and Delivery ward. Another contraction pushed through her body as she walked to her room and she stopped mid-step. She leaned against the wall and Marilyn grabbed her elbow in support. When the contraction passed, Carmela straightened, withdrew her cell phone, and tried calling her husband but couldn’t get a signal.
“Don’t worry, sweetie,” the nurse said, as if she were accustomed to absentee fathers in her line of work. “I’ll call your husband as soon as I get you settled into a labor room. In order to avoid interference with the medical equipment, the walls of the hospital are shielded.”
But her husband never picked up his phone, and as Carmela passed hour number six in the labor room and her contractions became increasingly constant, she began to think that her sister had been right–she never should’ve married Canyon. He was eight years older than she but more juvenile, more uncouth, more tied into having a good time than his age should support. And worst of all, she was in pain, and not having her husband by her side meant that he was doing nothing to assuage it. His absence was only making her pain worse.
“Get me a goddamned anesthesiologist for my epidural,” she said. “Can’t you see I’m in pain?”
The nurse made a note in the chart and left the room but when she returned, she didn’t have the anesthesiologist in tow.
“Ms. Carmela,” she said, “I think that your husband is here.”
“It’s about time,” Carmela said. “Tell him to come in.”
“What took him so long?” Marilyn said. “I told you he was a slacker.”
“I think he might be inebriated,” the nurse said. And as if she were afraid that Carmela wouldn’t understand her, she said, “He appears drunk.”
“I know what inebriated means,” Carmela said. “I went to Stanford. Don’t patronize me. Bring him in. He’s the father of this baby and I am not going to let him not be present for this baby’s birth no matter how much he tries to weasel out of it.”
The nurse left the room but again did not return with Carmela’s husband.
“It seems like the nursing station has detained your husband,” she said.
“Does this hospital not know that I’m having a baby?” Carmela said.
“They said that your husband is being belligerent to the hospital staff.”
“My husband is not an angry drunk.”
“I’ll let them know that you’d like him in here despite his inebriation. It is against hospital policy to have inebriated visitors, though, so that may present a problem.”
Carmela forced a smile to her face, the same kind she used when eliciting donations at black tie fundraisers, and squeezed the nurse’s elbow. “Bring my motherfucking husband in here,” she said. She was going to repeat herself with an even more convincing smile and firmer grip but two more contractions pushed through her and she felt her pelvis wanting to tear. She yelped in pain, and the nurse shifted away from the bed to glance at the working end of Carmela’s body and Marilyn did the same and both of them told her at the same time that she was crowning.
Dr. Morales gowned himself, put on a face shield and booties, and slipped his large hands into a pair of blue nitrile gloves. She’d followed his instructions throughout her pregnancy–avoided becoming sedentary, limited her sushi consumption, and walked daily–and felt better now that he was here. But still she was worried. During the last few weeks, she’d started to wonder about everything that could go wrong during the delivery: maybe her baby would suffocate on its own cord; maybe it wouldn’t be moving; maybe its heart rate would drop.
“Let’s get this baby out, Momma,” he said. He kicked a stool over to the delivery bed and sat on it. The nurse joined him at his side.
“What’s wrong, Doctor?” Carmela said. “Is there anything wrong with my baby?”
“Nothing is wrong,” he said. He cracked the knuckles of his hands and patted Carmela’s stirrup-ed foot. “Nothing at all. Let’s get this baby out, Momma. And you too, Sister–I’m going to need your help to coach Carmela through this.”
Marilyn wrapped her hand around Carmela’s but Carmela pushed it away.
“Where is my husband?” she said. “I’m not pushing until he’s here. And by ‘here’ I mean in this delivery room, not outside eating chips and candy bars in the waiting room.”
“Of course, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “Where is the husband, Nurse?”
“He’s outside,” the nurse said.
“Page someone to bring him in,” Dr. Morales said. “And let’s drape the patient.”
The nurse stepped away from the bed and spoke into the phone hanging on the wall before returning bedside with a surgical drape. She removed it from its packaging and handed it to Dr. Morales, who fitted it over Carmela’s knees, creating separation between what has happening to her above the waist and what was occurring below. He placed his hands on her inner thighs and pushed them open. She resisted, but he maintained pressure, forcing her knees wide. Pain again shot through her pelvis.
“Where’s my epidural?” she said.
“No time for luxuries, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “Your baby is ready to be born. You’re crowning. Anesthesiology is occupied. But I’ll give you Demerol to take the edge off. Nurse, administer fifty milligrams of Demerol I.V. push. And have an extra fifty on hand.”
The nurse pushed the medication intravenously through one of Carmela’s two lines, and just as she was withdrawing the empty syringe to dispose of it, a thud reverberated through the room. Another thud quickly followed and then a bang and clatter of raised voices.
The door swung open and her husband stumbled in. He looked pale and thin and stank like beef fat that’d been in the trash for days. The odor overwhelmed the antiseptic smell of the delivery room, making Carmela bear down and grunt. Two male nurses flanked him.
“Baby,” Canyon said, the word slurred.
“Where the hell have you been?” Carmela said.
“Battling the…,” and he muttered something unintelligible but which sounded to Carmela like ‘mommies.’
“You’re starting off fatherhood horribly,” Marilyn said. “Not only are you late to the delivery but you’re drunk too.”
“I’m not…,” he said, trailing off.
“This baby is going to be a big one, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “The head wants to come out but it’s not there yet.”
“Where have you been?” Carmela said.
“The mommies,” Canyon said.
“What are you talking about?” Carmela said. “Was it single-freaking-mother night at El Cholo? Why would you be hanging out with other mommies?”
“No mommies,” he said, approaching the bed with wobbly, slow steps, the stink growing as he bridged the distance between them. “Mommies.”
Carmela noticed the bruises along his temples, cut on his cheek, and busted, bloody upper lip. He grinned–or scowled, she couldn’t tell which–and she saw the missing teeth. She scanned the rest of him: his starched dress shirt was ripped along the side; the flat-front slacks that she’d bought him from Brooks Brothers were stained with dark splatters; his fists were swollen, abraded, and bloody.
“What happened to you?” she said.
“Get him away from this side,” Dr. Morales said. “Keep him on the other side of the drape.”
The nurse by Dr. Morales didn’t move, though, and instead looked at her two male colleagues. The bulkier one nodded, and walked towards Canyon. He placed his hand on Canyon’s shoulder but Canyon snarled and shrugged it off. The nurse repeated the gesture and again Canyon shrugged it off. He did it once more, and Canyon drew back his lips and bit the male nurse’s forearm, forcing his teeth into the skin and holding tight. The nurse screamed, and just at that moment, the strongest contraction yet passed through Carmela, and she screamed as well.
Dr. Morales looked up from beneath the drape but was too focused on the work of delivering the baby to dwell on whatever was happening away from Carmela’s vagina. “I said to get him away from this side,” he said, directing his orders to the two male nurses. “Get the husband to the other side of the drape. And Momma, focus that energy of yelling into the energy of pushing. This baby is a big one and it’s going to take effort, Momma.”
The first male nurse retreated, holding his forearm, and the second one approached Canyon. Canyon bore his teeth, though, and the nurse stopped.
“Did he just bite the nurse?” Marilyn said.
“We need to get this head out, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “The rest will be easier. You have to push.” He looked up at Canyon, who still hadn’t moved to the other side of the drape. “Daddy, you have to help your wife. No matter what your condition. Get to the other side of the drape and coach her.”
Canyon shuffled bedside. Marilyn shook her head at him from the side opposite him.
“Don’t shake your head at my husband, Marilyn,” Carmela said. “What did he ever do to you, Sister?”
“Sister, he hasn’t been home in two days,” Marilyn said. “And look at him. He’s a wreck. He obviously got into a bar fight. Or two. Or three.”
“He’s here now,” Carmela said. “Canyon is my husband and father of my baby. The only person who can chastise him is me.” And to prove a point, she reached out and grabbed his shirt, pulling him close to her. She noticed that the smell of rank meat came not only from his body but breath as well. She gagged from the malodor but another contraction quickly replaced the nausea with pain. “Where the hell have you been?”
“Mommies mommies mommies zombies mommies,” he said.
She couldn’t decipher him but thought he’d just said ‘zombies.” He’d always mumbled but never this much, even when drunk. She could picture him throwing back shot after shot of Don Julio, buying rounds for girls in miniskirts, and she became angrier. “You’re becoming a deadbeat dad and our baby isn’t even here yet.”
“Put that energy into pushing, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “The head is almost completely out. Then we only have to get the shoulders out and you’re home free. This baby is going to be a big one. At least nine pounds.”
“Are you going to let a drunk witness the miracle of birth, Sister?” Marilyn said. “He doesn’t deserve to be here. He should be in the waiting room.”
Canyon snarled at Marilyn and reached across the delivery bed to swipe at her but missed.
“What was that all about?” Marilyn said.
“Mommies,” Canyon said.
“Stop stressing me the fuck out, you two,” Carmela said. If there were a silver lining to delivery–besides the birthing of her baby, of course–it was this constant pumping of adrenaline that was providing the mental clarity to put others in their goddamn places. Her sister and husband had never gotten along and she was pissed at both of them for continuing their feud during her delivery. She figured that there was something inevitable about motherhood, transcendent perhaps, that made even the meekest mother a boss. “You both need to grow the fuck up and do it now.”
“Husband and Sister,” Dr. Morales said, “you’re both doing exactly the opposite of what you should be doing. You should be helping Momma in her delivery. You are both very close to having me throw you out of this delivery room. Trust me, I have done it before. I will not have you stressing out Momma, especially not at this time. The baby is a big one, and if she cannot safely push him out, he is going to end up with a fractured clavicle or even palsy. And I don’t think either one of you want to be responsible for the baby’s fractured clavicle or palsy, do you?”
At least momentarily, Dr. Morales’ authority quelled the delivery room. Marilyn bit her tongue, Canyon stopped snarling, and the nurses froze for fear of further rebuke from Dr. Morales. Even Carmela’s contractions let up and she stopped grunting.
“Bring the mirror,” Dr. Morales said.
The nurse at his side broke away and wheeled the mounted, rectangular mirror to the foot of the delivery bed. She positioned it where she’d been standing.
“I want you to look at your baby, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “See the head? That’s your baby. He wants to come out. He wants to join you. He wants to be in your arms.”
Carmela looked. She saw the bloody, distorted mess that used to be her vagina and the way it was expanding beyond what she’d thought was humanly possible. A pang of sadness fluttered through her as she wondered if her husband would ever want to be intimate with her again. But the melancholy was fleeting because she saw the top of the baby’s head, an amalgamation of white goo and tangled, black hair, and her doubts fled. Not only was she having a baby, but she was having her husband’s baby, and so of course her husband would want to touch her again, because now they were even more eternally linked. They had life connecting them, the closest thing to magic that existed. She started to cry, although she wasn’t sure if her tears were due to happiness or pain or both.
“Doctor,” Marilyn said, “I think we should get Canyon out of the delivery room. He’s obviously stressing my sister.”
Carmela was going to rebut Marilyn but didn’t have time because Canyon reached across the bed with his busted hand and grabbed Marilyn by the neck. He pulled her towards him, lifting her off the floor and over the delivery bed. Her torso and then legs scraped against Carmela, and Marilyn was suddenly on Canyon’s side of the bed. He pulled Marilyn close and launched his jaw into her neck. He clamped down, and Marilyn, who’d been too shocked to react to Canyon’s initial attack, yelled. She struck out at Canyon with both hands, hitting him against the side of his face, but he didn’t relent. Both male nurses lunged at Canyon, grabbing him around the shoulders from behind. Canyon turned, relinquishing his grip on Marilyn, and drove one hand into each of the necks of the two male nurses. They tried to pry Canyon’s fingers from them but Canyon squeezed harder. He drove his teeth into the neck of one and then the other, sending sprays of blood into the air and rivulets down their sides.
Free from Canyon’s mandibular grip, Marilyn grabbed the portable fetal heart monitor and raised it overhead. She swung it downwards at the back of Canyon’s head with force. He buckled and his grip on the male nurses faltered. She brought the heart monitor overhead again, and swung again, splintering the monitor but doing little this time to stop Canyon, who’d reset himself. He turned towards her and bit her shoulder. She yelled in pain, dropped the fetal heart monitor, and stumbled backwards onto the delivery bed. The monitor splintered the rest of the way open and died.
Carmela wasn’t sure what she was seeing, whether maybe the intravenous pain medication was affecting her, maybe making her hallucinate, or whether she really was watching her husband strangle and maim her sister and hospital staff. She felt slightly euphoric and angry and loving towards everyone at once: love for her husband for being the father of their child and anger for not being a good husband these past several weeks; love for her sister for being linked to all of her major life events and anger for always criticizing her relationship with Canyon; love for Dr. Morales for treating her for the past nine months and anger because he hadn’t made her pain go away. She reached out to Marilyn on the bed and felt warm blood down her sister’s side.
“Get with the program, Nurse,” Dr. Morales said. “Get hospital security to get the police to clear everybody out of this delivery room.” He looked at the damaged fetal heart monitor on the floor. “And find a new fetal monitor and find it fast.”
The nurse stared at the carnage at the side of Carmela’s delivery bed and didn’t move. The doctor repeated himself, more loudly this time, and the nurse broke from her trance. She headed for the door but Dr. Morales called out to her.
“I still need your help with this delivery, Nurse,” he said. “Don’t leave my side. I need to do an episiotomy. I’m worried about shoulder dystocia. Call security. Use your brain and think, Nurse. Use the phone. That’s what it’s there for.”
The nurse nodded, following orders without deliberation now. Carmela couldn’t hear the entirety of the nurse’s conversation with security over the telephone but did make out what she thought were the words ‘crazy husband.’ The nurse returned to the doctor’s side, and the doctor said again that he needed an episiotomy tray and asked why she hadn’t brought it yet. She broke away and returned with a surgical tray wrapped in blue paper, set it on a steel cart, and rolled it to the doctor’s side.
“I have to cut you, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “I’m going to give you an injection in your perineum to block the pain first. The baby’s shoulder is stuck and I need to rotate it out safely.”
Carmela’s fears were coming to fruition. She’d carried her baby for nine months but still her baby was in danger. She felt all of her emotions towards the people around her–husband, sister, and doctor–overwhelm her.
“I want my baby,” she said, “and I want my baby now.”
Dr. Morales withdrew anesthetic from a vial into a syringe, rested his hand on Carmela’s thigh, and injected her perineum. She felt a pinch and a ping of discomfort and then a patch of numbness.
“Oh my God,” Marilyn said. “What is your husband doing?”
Carmela looked to her side, saw one of the male nurses felled on the waxed linoleum floor, and her husband crouched over him. Her husband seemed to be gnawing into the side of the male nurse’s face, ripping off chunks of cheek and lip, while the other male nurse stood off to the side, clutching at his neck and trying to abate the bleeding from his exposed muscle. Sixteen years later, she would relate for a final time her recollection of the delivery to a teenage Clark with clarity of remembrance and understanding, but for now her observations and fast forming memories were clouded with uncertainty.
“I’m going to need your help, Momma, to get this baby’s shoulder out,” Dr. Morales said. “The nurse is going to assist you. And so is your sister. You’re going to have to move how I tell you. These movements are going to help me deliver this baby unharmed.”
“Get my baby out safely,” Carmela said.
“I promise that I will, Momma. I need you to pull your knees into your chest. I know it’s hard but try to touch your knees to your elbows. Help her, Nurse. And you too, Sister.”
Marilyn straightened herself, placed her hands under Carmela’s knee, and pulled. The female nurse moved to the other side of the bed and did the same.
“You can do it, Sister,” Marilyn said.
“Good, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “Nurse, put one of your hands suprapubically and apply downward pressure.”
A scream filled the delivery room, and everyone except for Dr. Morales, who was intently focused on the baby, let up to glance at Canyon, who had moved on from the male nurse’s face to his abdomen, chomping into the belly. The nurse writhed and shuddered beneath him.
“Everyone needs to focus,” Dr. Morales said. “The health of the baby is at stake. I don’t care what’s happening anywhere else besides this delivery bed. Nurse, I told you to place pressure suprapubically.” He stood up from the stool, reached over the drape, and grabbed the nurse’s hand, placing it above Carmela’s pelvis. “Apply downward and lateral motion, Nurse.”
“Get my baby out,” Carmela said.
“Stop pushing, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “I need to create clearance for the shoulder first.”
Carmela looked at the mirror and saw that her baby’s head and neck were twisted. Not only was there something wrong with her baby but there was something wrong with her husband too. She could almost flash forward to her future, one in which everything was going to be different than how she’d planned, one in which her husband was going to be gone and her baby was going to be caught between forces she couldn’t control. She began to cry again, sobbing, her body heaving with the weeps.
Canyon stopped gnashing at the male nurse’s abdomen and pointed his ear at Carmela. He straightened himself, stood up, and turned towards the delivery bed. He brushed past Marilyn and placed a gray hand on Carmela’s belly. His face was unrecognizable from the blood, saliva, and liquefied human fat smeared across it.
“Baby,” he said. Carmela rested her own hand over her husband’s and he placed his other hand over hers. She didn’t understand what was happening away from the bed and didn’t care. She’d been angry at Canyon for weeks but needed him now, just like he needed her. She felt Canyon’s hot breath on her neck, and then moisture, and heard him say, “Sorry.”
“We got this, Momma,” Dr. Morales said. “The shoulder is now positioned correctly. Push now, Momma. Push with everything you’ve got. Your baby is ready now. Push, Momma, and get the baby’s shoulders out.”
As Carmela bore down to push, the door to the delivery room opened and two uniformed cops, one a male and the other a female, entered.
“Put your hands up, sir,” the female officer said, speaking to Canyon.
Carmela looked at the officers but Dr. Morales redirected her to the mirror. “Focus, Momma,” he said. “The shoulder is through. It’s time for you to push.”
She squeezed Canyon’s hand, and for a second everything seemed to be all right, because her baby was being born and her husband was by her side. But the moment of mental tranquility didn’t last because the male cop raised his gun at Canyon to reinforce his partner’s order, and Canyon snarled, withdrew his hands, and stepped away from the bed. She reached out for him but he lurched forward, smacking his bloody, busted lips. The dying, half-eaten nurse on the ground reached up to grab Canyon’s ankle as he passed by but the attempt to stop him was feeble, and Canyon reached down, pulled what remained of the nurse to his mouth by the arm, and chomped. The female cop withdrew her Glock 21, planted herself, and leveled it at Canyon.
“Stop right there, sir, or I will utilize force,” she said.
Carmela felt another contraction, the strongest one yet, and reflexively pushed, and then pushed again, and then pushed one last time. And just as baby Clark shot out of Carmela’s vagina and into the outstretched hands of Dr. Morales, the female cop shot Canyon through the head. The bullet stopped Canyon’s advance, sending sprays of congealing blood over the delivery bed. Canyon looked to his wife and newborn son, shock on his fragmented face, before collapsing to the ground. Baby Clark’s first cry, a low, mournful wail, filled the room, a sound similar to that of a dying man, and then both the male and female cops emptied their .45 caliber clips into Canyon’s face.
The Chief of the Pasadena Police Department came to see Carmela in the middle of the night while she recuperated in the maternity ward. Baby Clark lay in the hospital bassinet at her bedside while a ward nurse took baby Clark’s vitals. Even though Carmela had been sedated by Dr. Morales with intravenous Ativan, she was still awake, unable to sleep despite the pharmaceuticals. Chief Rathman dismissed the nurse when she was done.
“I offer my condolences regarding your husband,” he said, standing bedside rather than sitting in the visitor’s chair. “And I offer my congratulations regarding the birth of your baby boy.”
“Does the Chief of Police come to congratulate all new mothers?” she said. “What are you really here for?”
“I don’t often make hospital visits but I felt it was paramount that I see you.”
“Do you have children, Chief Rathman?”
“Shouldn’t you be home with them instead?”
“They live with their mother, ma’am. I came to make sure you’re safe.”
“I don’t need you. I need my husband. Baby Clark needs his father.”
“I understand. And I wish he were physically here to offer you protection. But he’s not. Spiritually he is but physically he isn’t. I am personally going keep an eye on both you and your baby boy to ensure your safety.”
“Keep an eye on me for my safety, Chief? Or keep an eye on me to make sure that I don’t talk about today?”
“I’m here to serve and protect you and your baby in the Pasadena Way.”
“You murdered my husband. You and your officers killed him. Are you going to kill me too?”
“We didn’t kill your husband, ma’am. He’d already been taken away from you when we arrived. We terminated the threat that he’d become in the best way we could.”
“The nurse told me he was drunk.”
“The nurse was mistaken. The undead threat is still in its infancy. Only a few in the Southland are aware of the developing threat. The nurse and her colleagues were clueless. But now you are aware. Unfortunately, you are aware.”
“Your officers shot him as if he were a monster.”
“Try not to think of that entity in the delivery room as your husband, ma’am.”
“He was my husband. He held my hand. Despite whatever was happening to him, he restrained himself to comfort me and see the delivery of his son.”
“Yes, the officers at the scene remarked upon that. It’s unusual, to be sure, for an affected individual to exhibit emotional attachment. It is something that we’re looking into. It has significance. For the entirety of the Southland.”
She was tired of hearing the chief’s legalese. Canyon was her husband, no matter what the police asserted and no matter what had happened in the delivery room. Although he’d been absent for the tail end of her pregnancy, he’d been there for the delivery. In fact, he’d fought to be there, combating whatever had taken hold of him. “How is my sister?” she said.
“We are keeping her in isolation for the next seventy-two hours to ascertain her functional status. We are concerned that she may become like your husband. But medically the trauma surgeon says she is stable.”
“She never liked Canyon.”
“I’m sorry. If she gets through this, she’ll be an important part of your baby’s life, I suspect.”
“Yes, I know.”
“The psychiatrist will be by tomorrow when you’ve gotten some of your strength back to help you deal with today.”
“I don’t need a psychiatrist.”
“We will of course appreciate your restraint in discussing the delivery today. The public isn’t ready for the scenarios that the undead present to their current and possibly future existences. And of course, we are working with LAPD to understand the exact circumstances under which your husband succumbed to this threat. I am personally working with Chief Cepeda of the LAPD on this.”
“My husband wasn’t a monster. He liked to party but he wasn’t a monster.”
Chief Rathman adjusted the knot in his tie. “I will be back to check on you before your discharge, ma’am,” he said.
When Chief Rathman had gone, Carmela rang the intercom for the ward nurse. The nurse helped her sit in the bed and passed baby Clark to her. When Carmela was comfortably situated with baby Clark in her arms, she dismissed her. Carmela studied her baby’s face, his closed eyes and lips, and saw her husband in her baby. She stroked his cheek with her finger, holding him close to her chest so that he could hear her heartbeat, and when baby Clark started to cry, she brought him to her breast to feed him, and told him that even if Daddy couldn’t be there for him anymore, she always would.
About the Author:
Xavier Braze is the undead incarnation of Hassan Riaz. Hassan Riaz lived in Los Angeles before succumbing to the plague, where he was a physician, financier, and writer. His work had appeared in Slice Magazine, Paragraph Line, and Retort Magazine, among others. Xavier Braze’s work has most recently appeared in The Dead Walk Again and Zombies Gone Wild. You can find Xavier Braze at xavierbraze.com while Hassan Riaz survives at hassaninla.com.