“It’ll be fine dear. They didn’t find anything last time and we’re already in the third trimester,” Masnik said.

“I know, but they say it can happen any time. I just…. I just don’t know what I’d do if they found anything,” Lariel said, running her hands over her large stomach.

“We will just have to see. It’s not like we can just skip out on the examination.”

“We could.”

Masnik glared at her, “And do what? Run? There is nowhere we could go. Every country has signed the SAP Accords. They’d hunt us down within minutes.”

“It was wishful thinking.” Lariel could feel the baby moving.

“Come on, we don’t want to be late.” Masnik got out of the car and opened the door for her. Together they entered through the solid, sterile doors of the medical facility. Unlike most hospitals of the past, this building was black. Black laminate flooring reflected the fluorescent lights above like a pool of dark water. The walls were a lighter shade of black. There were no pictures or wall decorations. They walked down the hall to their checkup center that was identical to the rest of the building. The lack of color made Masnik uneasy, but he tried to keep his nerves calm for Lariel’s sake. He hated these checkups just as much as she did.

“Good morning Lariel. How are we feeling today?” The nurse greeted them and took them straight back to the examination room. They had arrived only minutes before their appointment. If they’d waited any longer in the car, their greeting would have been much different.

“A little nervous,” Lariel replied.

“And that’s normal, but you’re,” she looked at the chart in her hands, “seven months along now. I’m sure everything will be fine. It’s very rare to see anything new pop up once the third trimester begins. If there were anything, it would have shown up in month five.”

Though the words were encouraging, the black scrubs and face-mask she wore made it seem insincere. The nurse made Masnik sit down in a chair in the corner while she helped Lariel up on the table. She had Lariel pull up her shirt to reveal her large stomach and then, with black latex gloves, smeared a clear gel across Lariel’s skin. She picked up the ultrasound device and began tracing lines through the clear gel. Masnik and Lariel watched the screen intently along with the nurse. Though they weren’t sure what they were looking for, they hoped that if there were any abnormalities, they would be able to spot it themselves. The room was quiet except for the occasional squish of the gel as the nurse moved the wand back and forth to view the entire womb.


Lariel’s eyes grew wide. “What is it?”

“It’s nothing to worry about,” the nurse tried to reassure her, “Just a faint area I’m unable to scan. I’m sure it’s nothing, but the doctor may need to take a sample. I’ll be right back.” She left Lariel and Masnik alone in the room. As soon as the door shut, Masnik was by her side.

“I’m scared.” She gripped his hand tightly.

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” he said, but was not convinced by his own words.

“But what if it is an abnormality?”

Masnik didn’t want to think about what would happen if that were the case. He’d only heard stories of what happens when such things were found. That nothing is ever the same again.

“Even if it were something, I’m sure it’s small enough that they would let us keep him,” he finally answered.

“You think?” She looked less frightened for a moment.

“I do,” he lied.

There was a knock on the door and the doctor entered. His dark grey coat might have well have been white with how much it clashed with the rest of the building. A guard, also in all black, came in behind him and blended in with the wall he posted up against. Masnik took his seat before being asked to.

“Alright,” the doctor said, “Let’s see if we can see this blank area.” He took up the wand and began scanning Lariel’s stomach. Thirty seconds passed. Masnik felt his hairs stand on end as he eyed the screen.

“There is a small area the scanner isn’t picking up. I’ll have to perform a small, non-invasive procedure to get a sample of the area just to be sure. It’s nothing to worry about and you won’t feel a thing.”

Lariel let her head fall to the pillow. Tears were welling in her eyes and Masnik held back his own. The doctor pulled a tubular device from a drawer and prepared it. He used the scanner to guide the tube to the area in question and pulled it back out.

“That was easy, right? I’ll take this to the lab now and we will have the results in just a few minutes.”

He left the room, but the guard remained. Masnik glanced at the pistol on the guard’s side. He knew there was nothing he could do, but he started making plans anyway. He’d grab the gun, if he was able to, then they’d run to the car. They’d drive. But to where? That’s where his plan stopped. There was nowhere to go.

A low, rumbling alarm sounded throughout the building. Masnik stood up, but the guard had drawn the pistol and told them both to remain seated. Masnik sat back down. Lariel looked at him as tears rolled down her cheeks. There was nothing left to do but sit and wait for their child to be taken.

The alarm quit after two minutes. The guard kept his gun at the ready until the doctor came back and told him to holster the weapon.

“It’s alright, everything is okay,” he said, “I apologize. Someone accidentally hit the building alarm instead of the room alarm down the hall.” He flipped through the papers on his clipboard. “I have good news. You’re going to have a healthy baby boy.” He smiled, but Lariel and Masnik were both still shaking.

Masnik finally spoke up for both of them, “So what was it? The dark area?”

“A blood pocket. Nothing out of the ordinary. The scanner just wasn’t able to read the area because of the density. It happens every so often. I assure you that there is no foreign genetic matter. Your baby is 100% human.”

They both relaxed. Lariel smiled. Masnik did too until he remembered the alarm. He was grateful it wasn’t meant for them, but he knew it was meant for someone.

“We’ll see you back here in two weeks. Then only one more time after that to be sure, but you two are pretty much in the clear. Congratulations.” The doctor offered Masnik a hand and he shook it.

Masnik took Lariel back to the car. She was all smiles. He tried to be happy too. He was, but he couldn’t stop hearing the alarm in his head. He tried not to think of all the children never to be born because they would have been seen as just a little different.

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