I was spending so much time with the Reddings that it was hard for me to believe that just a few months ago I was scared of them.
Jay was arrogant and rather cold. I had a hard time talking to her but she was very upfront about anything involving my pregnancy. And aliens. Actually whenever she talked about aliens she looked really excited.
Kay was very quiet all the time but when he did speak, he tried his best to make up for his sister’s lack of social skills. He wasn’t too good at communicating either, but at least he made a bigger effort than Jay did.
However in my sixth month they both started acting strange. They both seemed very worried a lot and kept telling me to ‘not pay attention to rumors’. I asked what they meant but they never told me.
Well, I won’t worry about it, I thought. I assumed they were just anxious that my due date was getting closer. But with my due date getting so close it meant I shouldn’t put off telling the two women in my life the news.
Elouia was my best friend. She was like a sister to me. Which meant I was going to tell Ayesha first. I was too scared to tell Elouia… I knew she would take it well but part of me was slightly afraid she wouldn’t.
When Ayesha arrived I was rather surprised at her clothes. She certainly didn’t look like the mother of someone Lee’s age. I knew she was dating some new guy but I honestly didn’t know much about him.
I went about it a bit slower than I had with Aiden. I talked to her for a while about Lab C and how they were working on something important. I told her they had helped me out a lot lately and had been giving me errands to do which earned me a little extra income.
When I finally told her the news, she sort of grimaced for a while. “Ayesha?” I whispered, a bit afraid of the look on her face. “I know it sounds crazy but it is true.”
I took her hand and put it against my stomach so she could feel the baby moving. As soon as she did, she pulled her hand away. “Wow,” she breathed out. “I–I don’t know what to say. This is…”
I looked up, waiting.
“I–I’m happy for you,” she stammered. “I know you want a baby.”
She didn’t sound too enthused but continued talking to me for a while. When she left I collapsed back in my chair in front of the TV. I was really tired and could feel every ache and pain in my body.
I really hope Ayesha meant it, I thought as I tried not to feel anxious.
A few days after I told Ayesha, I got a call from the twins. They said they wanted to visit me at home, if that was okay? I promised them it was but when I hung up I was confused.
I wondered what could they possibly want at my home. I hadn’t bought many baby things, other than a highchair. I knew a crib was more important but I couldn’t find one I liked. Other than that, I had the other necessities. A basket to bring the baby home. Diapers. Bottles. Formula.
Kay arrived a bit earlier than his sister. He looked almost normal wearing everyday clothes and not his uniform. If I had seen him on the streets, I probably wouldn’t have recognized him.
“How are you d-doing?” he asked me, looking at my stomach.
“Good,” I told him. “I’ve been going to the spa for little massages. My back is hurting all the time but that’s normal, right?”
“Oh y-yes! It is n-normal.” He suddenly bent down and I wondered if he was going to fall. Then I realized what he was doing.
He even looked rather happy.
“You seem a bit more excited than your sister,” I couldn’t help but say.
“Je… uhh, J-Jay doesn’t get excited about much other th-than aliens,” he laughed, standing back up. “She’s l-loved them since we were little kids.”
“What about you?” I asked, meeting his gaze.
Kay blushed and looked away. “I l-love aliens too!” he said but for some reason I wasn’t quite convinced.
“You gonna do all you can to meet them?” I asked, trying to pull more information.
“I–I guess. I mean I h-hope we can meet them. I want to. B-but sometimes I w-wonder if all of this is p-pointless.”
“You can’t think that,” I told him. “You and Jay are working so hard and you’ve done something amazing. I mean, I’m a pregnant guy! What you two have done is amazing.”
“Y-you think so?”
“I do,” I said and gave him a small smile. “I used to hate you two but now I am really grateful I have this chance.”
We chatted for several minutes before Jay showed up. As soon as she came in, Kay seemed to shrink back into a little shell. I wondered what sort of relationship they had. Did Jay let him do what he wanted sometimes or was she always controlling?
Jay started talking about the problem immediately. She told me that there was a leak at the lab. Not a physical leak, but an informational leak.
“There have been rumors flying around about what Lab C is doing,” she said rather angrily. “We talked to your friend, Mr. Jones, but he is not the source.”
I looked down, extremely happy to know what. “Who do you think it is?” I asked. “I’ve only told Aiden and my friend Ayesha. And I’m planning on telling Elouia.”
Jay was nodding, waving her hand about in a dismissing gesture. “Yes, yes, yes. That is all fine. Our leak is within the facility. We will find it, rest assured. However if anymore gets out…” She trailed off then put a hand on my stomach but not in a nice manner. “You could be the front page news.”
I’m really getting big, I thought one evening as I went into my seventh month. It was time to tell Elouia. I called her, asking her to come over whenever she could. I was a bit upset when she said she could come over right away.
“Okay,” I gulped.
As soon as she arrived, I jumped straight into things. “I’ve been going to Lab C for a while now, as you know. I volunteered to be an experiment for them and I need to tell you what they’re doing to me.”
“Jake, it’s nothing bad is it?” she asked, eyes big with fear.
“No, no. It’s actually something quite wonderful. But it is something very unusual. I should have told you sooner but I was worried because–well–see…” I bit my bottom lip. “They’re experimenting with male pregnancy and I am now about seven months pregnant.”
“Whaaaat?” she shrieked. “You must be joking! JACOB! Men can’t get pregnant! Oh my stars, is that really what’s going on?” Her hands flew to her mouth. “I knew you were gaining weight and thought you were acting odd but oh goodness, a baby? You? A man? This is–this cannot be true!”
“It is true,” I said and I took her hands, putting them against my stomach like I had with Ayesha. But Elouia kept her hands there, feeling the little nudges and kicks the baby gave. I loved when my baby did that. It felt so weird, but so wonderful. I’d put my fingers against my stomach and my child would give me a little nudge back.
“This is unbelievable,” Elouia said. “But I know you’d never make something like this up.”
“You believe me then?”
“Yes,” she said with a vague smile. “It’s all so crazy, I shouldn’t believe it but I do. Oh Jacob, congratulations!”
We hugged tightly and I sank into her arms, smiling. I knew this would be okay. I knew she would take this well. Okay, so I wasn’t sure… I had hoped she’d take this well.
“Do you know the gender yet?” Elouia asked once we pulled apart. “What about a name?”
I laughed, shaking my head. “I’m not sure yet. Of either.”
“If you need anything just let me know. Oh a baby, this is all so shocking but so exciting!” She bent down and began talking to the baby.
“Hi there baby!” she squealed happily. “This is your Auntie Elle talking! I can’t wait to meet you. You’re gonna have one of the best papas in the world so you better not give him too much trouble!”
I beamed at her. “And one of the best aunts in the world,” I added and Elouia smiled up at me. I reached over and hugged her again. “Thank you for everything, Elle.You’ve been one of the best things in my life here in the Valley.”
Elouia hugged me tightly back. “I’m so glad you’re part of my life too, Jacob.”
I got the phone call late one night, near the end of my seventh month It was Kay. He was so upset he could hardly even speak. I asked him to hand the phone to Jay but all he could say was that she wasn’t there.
“What’s going on? What’s wrong?” I asked. “Is Jay okay?”
“Y-yes!” Kay wailed. “B-b-b-but everyth-thing else isn’t!”
“What is it? Just tell me!”
When he finally blurted out the words, I couldn’t believe him. I finally hung up and just stared out my window.
The news had gotten hold of everything. What Lab C was doing. Aliens. The male pregnancy. Me. My name. Reporters would probably be showing up to try to talk me. It would all be out in the morning, everything. All I could do now was clutch my bulging belly and hope it wasn’t too bad.
In the morning I was sick to see everything laid bare in the paper. Not only did it have my name but there was a picture of me with a close up of my belly. Alien Baby! the caption read. Unnatural experiments! Landgraab Facilities being looked into for their twisted practices.
Elouia called me but I told her I had no idea what was going on. “I’ve already gotten calls from some parents,” she said. “And I’ll work things out. You should be going on maternity leave anyway.”
I was so scared. I didn’t leave my house at all that day. I closed all the curtains and locked the door, curling up on my bed and hugging my belly.
In the morning there was a new headline. Landgraab Facilities closing down Lab C. “We didn’t know” claims management.
I scanned through the main article and saw lines like ‘depraved happenings’, ‘very wrong’, ‘more than mad scientists’, ‘perverted’, ‘monstrous’, ‘disgusting and immoral’.
I got a call from Jay later that day. Her voice was icy cold as she told me that yes, Lab C was closing down but she and Kay were being allowed to finish their experiment with me. I would still get the medical attention I needed.
“And after this is over?” I whispered. “What will happen to you then?”
The line went dead as she hung up.
There were knocks on my doors and windows all day. I could hear them outside, calling my name, begging to know what was going on. I just hid under my covers and never once left my house for the next two days. Eventually the reporters started coming around less and less but I knew as soon as I stepped foot outside I would be besieged.
It was that day when Elouia came over. I recognized her voice and let her inside. I could tell she had bad news for me.
After we exchanged some niceties she got to the point. “I’ve had so many calls from parents…”
No, I thought, knowing what she was telling me.
“I’m sorry Jacob but… they told me they won’t accept you as a caregiver anymore.”
This can’t be happening!
“I told them all you were a great guy but they all said the same thing. They wouldn’t have you. I–I wish it was otherwise.”
“You’re firing me,” I said flatly.
“I have to,” Elouia answered. “I am sorry Jacob. But yes. I have to fire you. I wish it was otherwise. I am so sorry.” She pressed against me, her arms wrapped around my body.
I put mine around her, holding her carefully. “It’s not your fault,” I whispered.
“There’s something else…” She stepped back and wiped away a tear form her cheek.
“What is it?” I asked. What else could be possibly say? There was nothing that would help me now.
“I’m retiring,” she answered. “I’m handing the business over to Mallory. She will run it adequately.”
“What?!” I shouted. “The parents are not going to be happy about this!”
“I know,” Elouia said with a big shrug. “But frankly, I don’t give a damn. If they’re telling me I have to fire my best employee then I’m going down with the ship.”
Now tears were in my eyes and I hugged her so tightly that if I weren’t such a weakling, I would have probably hurt her. She hugged me tightly back and I felt touched by what she was doing but I couldn’t fight back the tides of fear that were crashing down on me.
With no job… how could I afford to raise a child?
Things were horrible. Lab C was constantly on the front page news and if they weren’t, there was some article or letter about them. I was often mentioned.
I tried going outside more often but when I walked down the street people would glare at me. Taxicabs never stopped when I signaled for them and the ones that did would just tell me they were on their way to pick someone up.
I tried going to the spa to get massages like I used to but now I needed an appointment and whenever I called or stopped by, I was told the books were full and to try again later. I’d ask when a free time was and they’d apologize and say to just call back later.
Whenever I went to the park people would just at me. Then start glaring. I’d get disgusted looks and whenever I walked by someone I could hear them whispering or muttering about me. But I was determined not to let this get me down. I had made my decision and I did not regret it one bit. Okay so it had been more of I had agreed to do this in the future and Lab C forced it on me now but I was glad they had because otherwise I might not have had this chance.
Besides Elouia and the Reddings, Aiden was the only other person I really talked to during this time. Ayesha occasionally called but rarely talked much. I suspected she was nervous of being seen as my friend. Aiden didn’t care, though, and spent plenty of time with me. He even went out in public with me, though his wife wouldn’t.
“You don’t need to spend time with me right now,” I told him one day while at the pool. We had the whole pool to ourselves. I guess that was a bonus to having people walk away from wherever I was. “You don’t want to be caught up in this stupid scandal and you have the twins to think about…”
“You’re my friend,” he promised. “I can’t just abandon you because you’re a ‘scandal’ right now.”
I smiled, feeling rather relieved and happy.
Inside Lab C things were grim. Their tiny, cramped lab had been dismantled and the only thing they had left was the medical room. Jay barely ever spoke to me and if I tried to engage her in conversation she would just glare.
Kay was acting opposite. At the slightest thing he would just burst into tears and it would take him a while to recover. I wondered if they were going to go to jail. I knew legal procedures were underway. Could they be sent off?
My eighth month went by with me dealing with all this stress and my ninth month wasn’t any better. I felt too exhausted to do anything and was worried about making it through.
Then at around four in the morning, two weeks before the due date, I was awoken by incredible pain.
I slid out of bed and staggered a few feet, clutching my stomach. The pain was more unbearable than I had ever felt before. I wanted to scream but didn’t dare make any noise in case there was someone hiding outside ready to report any occurrence.
I let out a few ragged, squeaky, whimpering breaths. The pain… Make it stop… there was no one around to help. I was alone. The Reddings were supposed to have started staying with me once we got a little closer to the due date. It was two weeks away. This couldn’t be it, could it? It’s too early…
If this isn’t labor, I don’t want to know what is…
I can’t move… I have to call them…
I took a few steps, turning on a light and reaching for my cellphone. A jolt of fire went down my spine and I screamed involuntarily. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I pushed open my cell phone, scrambling through my contacts for the twins. I clicked on the number and heard it ringing.
I can’t do this, I just want to die, what if I do die? Someone make this pain stop!
My body shuddered and twitched and I kicked my bed, still screaming. I thought I heard a voice in the distance. I just screamed and screamed, writhing on the floor as the pain washed over my like a tide pulling me into the dark distance.
My screams went higher and higher until I was no longer making any sounds. It felt like hands yanking and pulling at my insides, squeezing my body. If the baby came, there would be no where for it to go and it would die. I would die.
We’re going to die, I realized, clutching at the phone so tightly that it snapped in half.
Then everything went completely dark.