GoT - Cat

Exhibit B: Week 5: Go Tell the Spartans

(This week's piece is a companion to last week's, due to popular request. You can find its predecessor here.)

Margaret could not have told you what happened, or why it happened the way it did. She could only tell you that on July 31st, 2043 at 4:30 pm, her water broke. She was standing in the living room, where she had been restlessly rearranging their paper book collection between shelves, when she felt it give.

When David came into the room to see if she'd like to go out for dinner as a special treat, he saw his wife leaning up against the shelves, tears streaming down her face, openly weeping. He paled and swept over to her, stroking her hair as he drew her away from the books. Margaret clutched a battered, war-torn 2015 edition of What to Expect When You're Expecting to her chest and turned to her husband with wildfire dancing in her eyes.

"We have seven and a half hours," she said in a voice so hoarse from crying it hurt to say a thing. "before they will take our baby. We will play their game, but we will not let them take our baby."

David looked visibly confused. "But sweetheart, it might be a daughter! And you're overdue anyway, it won't be a long labor. Don't worry, we can't worry." Margaret pursed her lips and twisted away from his loving touch.

"We must." she said flatly in a no-nonsense mother's tone, ambling off to get her hospital bag. As David watched her retreating back, he couldn't help but wonder if she knew something he didn't.

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Sophia hated putting on her shoes. "Why can't I just go barefoot?" she squealed, stomping her pale little foot in her father's general direction.

"We have to go Sophie, come on. Don't you want to go see Mrs. Miller and your friends from school?" Sophia began to make a noise of protestation when he father tossed her sleeping bag at her. She caught it, clutching it to her.

"You can stay up as late as you want." He said quietly. Sophia leaned back her head and looked at her father with reverence.

"I'll do my best, daddy." He kissed her on the forehead and carried her out to the waiting car, one shoe on and one shoe off.

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They were given a room to share with another young woman, who was in labor with her firstborn. Neither Margaret's nor her roommate's contractions were too intense yet, and since the outlawing of pitocin to avoid strategic birthing, they could be in for a long wait. Margaret hated that no one got their own room for labor any more, but it had become such a routine process and at this point, babies were born so quickly that the government had given up on regulating birthing areas. Mothers gave birth to their children in their hospital beds, in a room with another woman, all while watching television and eating slushies.

"I'm Bethany," the other woman said, excitement glimmering in her eyes. "my husband's away at work, but he will be here soon. His name is Randall." Margaret waved and politely introduced herself and David, wincing as a mild contraction rippled across her abdomen. Bethany made small talk about the weather, her pet chinchilla, the regulation of spectatorship at sporting events. Then she said something that struck Margaret.

"We don't know if it is a boy or a girl," Bethany said as she gnawed on the straw in her water glass. "we didn't want to. Do you know?" Margaret pursed her lips. Didn't know? Who wouldn't want to know if she were going to have to say goodbye to her baby, as soon as possible?

"It's a girl," Margaret said flatly. How would this other woman have to know, anyway? By the time the baby came out, it wouldn't matter. David looked at her with concern, and Margaret let a small smile trace her face. "I just know it is." David patted her shoulder supportively.

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It was 11:32 pm when Bethany gave her final push. Margaret was nearing the end of her labor, but as they drew the thin curtain between the two beds, they knew it was over for Bethany. She squeezed David's hand in sympathy as she heard her roommate scream her way through the pain, and moments later the squall of an infant rang through the air.

"It's a boy!" someone shouted, and Margaret let out the breath she hadn't known she was holding. The nurses kept telling her she was eight centimeters, but eight was not ten, and she was beginning to worry. David smoothed a wrinkle out of her forehead with a thumb, whispering sweet nothings, telling her it was okay, that it was a little girl anyway.

Margaret could hear the police officers out in the halls, getting ready with the bassinets. The sound of a truncheon hitting the floor echoed across the ward. And in that single action, Margaret knew it was to be too late.

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She hit ten centimeters at 12:06 am on August 1st, 2043. A line of police officers filed into the room, bringing with them a bassinet and a soft baby blanket. One attempted to smile at her underneath his visor, but it wasn't a very reassuring grin.

Margaret and David's son came into the world at 1:30 am. Margaret couldn't talk, couldn't cry, couldn't speak at all. She gave her final push, the cord was unceremoniously clipped, and the baby was whisked away by the officers in the room, the last of whom gave her a salute and a "have a good day, ma'am."

David crawled into the hospital bed alongside his wife, clutching her to his chest, and they wept bitterly.
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I'm glad you decided to continue this.

I was hoping the whole time that it would be a girl. :/ I didn't want them to lose their son.
I didn't either. :( This is one of those cases where I literally don't know how it's going to end until I start typing it. Margaret came into my head half-formed and demanded I tell her story, but I didn't know until I wrote it that they lost their son. My heart aches for them, and I don't know how they will tell Sophia.
Oh no, I was hoping the baby would be born early enough that they could keep him! D:

I'm also glad you decided to continue this.

Do know what exactly happens to babies that are taken?
I was too. :( I didn't know until I wrote it that that was what was going to happen. :(

I don't - my first thought was that they'd be shipped off somewhere, but I honestly don't know. :/
So sad. :(

I'd love to read even more about this world. Understand why the government would start doing this, and why it wasn't done in a different way, and and and! Things!
Well, shit, that's heartbreaking. I had read the first part of this before, sorry I didn't comment on it. You're a brilliant writer. I would definitely read more about this universe if you wrote it.
I don't know why I held out hope that if she crossed midnight, they could keep their baby regardless, but I guess they're still in the wrong month.

What a sad ending for all of them. :(
Well written, it made me cry on Margaret's behalf. And now they have to explain to Sophia why she doesn't have a sibling... that poor family. =(

I think maybe the culls are raised by the government to be their Trained Minions...
This left me feeling gut punched.

So sad, but well written.
Glad you decided to continue this, but it was so sad. I was hoping that the baby would come at the last possible second. I want to know what they're taking the babies for and what happens to them.