A fictional society (or an existing society presented in a fictional way) has a very specific process and event after a baby is born. Show us one such event.
Word Limit: None
Time Limit: 40 minutes
“Do you want to hold him?” the nurse asked out of habit.
Mr. Hendrick looked up nervously. “I thought that wasn’t allowed?”
Abele looked behind her at the cameras. She was pretty sure they weren’t even functional, but the new dad’s caution was probably warranted. “Oh, yeah. Sorry,” she said.
She placed the newborn on the scale and completed the measurements. That is she noted the measurements. The system was automated now to “enhance accuracy and relieve nurse burden.” In other words, to quash dishonesty. Another nurse grabbed the baby and wrapped it up.
Abele turned to the monitor and placed the customary call. Jork’s repulsive face appeared.
He smiled. “How may I help you today nurse Abele?” he said, with increased condescension on each syllable.
She forced a smile back. “A baby was born at thirty-two hundred hours. It is well.”
“Very well,” he replied. “And its vitals?”
She looked down at her pad. “2,911 grams. 48.9 centimeters. Healthy heart and lungs.”
Jork checked his pad, confirming the information. He frowned. “A little on the small side, eh?”
She looked at him plainly.
Jork sighed. “Anything else of note?”
“Yes sir. The baby is missing its fifth toe on the right foot.”
“What?” Jork slammed his desk with his primary tentacle. “That’s the fifth baby this year with a deformity!”
“I’m sorry sir. The mother was very malnourished throughout the pregnancy.”
Jork sighed. Or gurgled. She could never tell. “We sent three tonnes of food to your district earlier this year.”
Abele winced. Holding back was growing increasingly difficult. “I know. And it has been greatly appreciated. Perhaps the administrators need instruction on how to distribute the rations more equally.”
“Perhaps we need new administrators?” he said, focusing his eye intently on her.
Abele shivered. “Perhaps. What shall I do with the newborn?”
“Go ahead and give it back to the parents. It’s defective, but should still be able to procreate eventually. See to it that it is well fed. Jork out.”
“Yes sir. Abele out.”
She nodded towards her partner, who delivered the little boy to its parents. They allowed themselves their first emotion since the birth. Her partner shared their tears, their joy. Those emotions had been lost on Abele.
When they recouped, the dad approached her. “Thank you,” he whispered, and reached into his coat. She noticed the currency.
“No!” she whispered, harshly. “Not here. At the reservoir tomorrow as planned.”
He nodded. “Thank you,” he said again and joined his family.
Abele turned, so as to not reveal her self-loathing. She looked up at the monitor where Jork had recently accosted her. She wasn’t sure whom she resented more.
K: Surely Jork has to be aware of this on some level? Abele is conflicted, so there’s the skeleton of a strong character here, but she’s surrounded by archetypes and the dialogue was flat and predictable; a little subtext from Abele would have been a very welcome addition.
MN – I appreciate the accessibility of this story, because it’s honest to human nature. I think the ending scene could have been handled differently to be a little more effective. We know when the emotions are lost on Abele that she’s conflicted about it all, so telling us that takes something away. I do like that you don’t tell us what horrible fate awaits the babies. We don’t need to know, so that was a smart choice. BRONZE
I liked this one more after I wrote it, but the judges critiques are spot on. I do tend to fall back on archetypes when I’m in a time crunch and I need to stop that.
As for the vote, fellow teammate Jordan Graham (our best writer) was eliminated. Yours truly received one vote from somebody I shall surely smite, but Jordan received nine votes. Twelve players left.