Short Story
                                         Bring Back My Baby
                                                                                      By Celine Low


      They were heartbreakingly lovely. Keiko felt sick. Globules of shimmering translucency, bobbing
against the drain wall. What were they? Despite her heels and pencil skirt, Keiko knelt over the pavement.
Eight of them, staring like fish eyes. She shuddered, picking them up with her kitchen forceps. People
gave her odd looks—that quick, curious glance before the embarrassed head-ducking that follows at any
sight of aberration. She flushed, scurrying back to the junk-jammed pocket of space she’d settled into with
her husband since nuclear radiation had blown everyone west.

      They’d been hounding her more and more lately. Appearing everywhere, in road puddles, in the toilet,
even in her coffee. She’d retched, spitting out slime. Her tongue squirming against their glutinous, slightly
metallic blandness. She’d tried flushing, dumping, crushing them, but nothing worked; they’d exploded in
globs of red, and she’d had to take a week’s leave just to scrub their red juice off the toilet and blender.
Their sharp smell had clung to her nostrils for days.

      And they always returned with a vengeance. One night she’d been woken by that same metallic tang.
They were all over her bed, in her nightgown; several had been crushed by her body, oozing red. She
shredded her nightgown, and bought new sheets.

      Now she just kept them all in a cup, behind the ramen packs and dried seaweed, far back in the
kitchen cabinet.

      “Keiko.”

      She jumped, cabinet door swinging shut. Her husband stood at the kitchen threshold. Her flesh
crawled. She kept her eyes on the floor. The forceps twisted, round and round, round and round, in her
fingers.

      “We need to ta—”

      Her hand flew up, slamming the cabinet. Its door had swung ajar.

      “Hey. We were merciful. He wouldn’t’ve been happy, growing up like—”

      She believed him, she did. But she felt strangely weak. No strength left, to clutch at his words. A
rumbling sound had started up in the cabinet and her fingers floated up—stay shut, dammit, why won’t it
stay shut?—but already they were pouring out, splatting on the floor like eggs and in each was a shadow,
a wriggling worm with a too-large head. She shrieked, and kept shrieking—she didn’t want to look, oh
god, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away from that—that thing in front of her.

      It was wailing, a thin, rasping cry, its punched-in face glutted with limbs crushed by the doctor’s forceps
and spliced back in perverse places, coated in red-tinged slime. The baby flopped toward her, reaching
out a pink tentacle, reaching out to her with its tiny malformed fingers. He would’ve been lovely,
heartbreakingly lovely. Her shoulders shook. Sorry, Mummy’s sorry.

      Her husband blamed the radiation. His wife, who had never been herself since the abortion of the
deformed fetus, had been staring at some invisible thing between them; stepping, he thought, towards
him. When her arm had jerked up it was as if something had yanked her.

      Once—twice—her eyes burst like eggs. She wondered why she felt no pain. She wondered what was
screaming. She felt, from a distance, as if she was being torn limb from limb, and pulled back into the dark.

                                                                                      #
About Celine Low

Celine Low graduated from the National University of Singapore with an Honours in English
Literature, and has written both fiction and non-fiction for publishers such as The Bride of
Chaos, Book Riot, and Marshall Cavendish. Her first novelette, “White Bone,” was published in
9Tales From Elsewhere #7. Follow her on Twitter: @celine_low_
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