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I always wanted children, didn't I? She didn't, but I needed it. I needed to know that there would be a continuity. I was so afraid of dying, afraid of leaving behind nothing in the world. Her feelings didn't matter, didn't make any difference to me - I knew what I wanted.

There are ways to get things you want.

Money helps, certainly. That I had in abundance, and you can bet I used it, every penny, on fertility treatments, on every variety of pill and nostrum and herbal treatment.

She went along silently, but I knew that each new pinprick and each stupid, hopeless prayer said over her unyielding womb took a part of her away. Her agency. Her freedom.

I simply didn't care.

Finally, in my desperation, I turned to something a little different.

There was a book. I found it in a shop on the rue de la Bûcherie, wedged behind a stack of old maps. It was covered in the film of ages, but my rudimentary French provided me with a title.

It was filled with diagrams, formulae, incantations, a bizarre combination of science and alchemy, and darker things. I knew, in the way that a child knows his father, that this held the answer.

It was a year of studying, translating, acquiring the things required. Some of them were very dear, and a few required me to do things that will forever haunt me.

The process itself was surprisingly simple, and within a week, the change had started. Within a month after I bound her to the bed in the cool darkness of the basement, she began to give birth. She was fecund beyond my wildest dream, but what she birthed was, as well.

I left her there, mewling, screaming, changing, and she didn't stop pushing them out of her. They spilled out of her tortured flesh like rain, one after another, after another.

I was bound by the terms the book established, bound to the birthing space until she had finished.

She broke her bonds and came for me on the fifth day.

I could hear her, prowling slowly in the dark. Her presence flowed out before her, making the air oppressive and heavy and cold, and it moved around me in eddys, icy water around a ship's prow.


I was frozen. My muscles were locked, and sweat blinded me, and I could hear my heart beating.

Too loud. It was too loud.

Holding my breath didn't work. Her hearing is is so very sharp and I knew that she could feel my body heat. Soon, it would guide her to me.

She stopped calling my name. She just sniffed at the damp air, and moved her long, thin fingers around, twirling them around in the air at impossible angles, feeling for the heat of me.

As she shuffled in circles, I could see her as the sun began to rise, dim light from the basement window surrounding her, and it was all that I can do to clasp the scream behind my teeth. She'd grown so much.

Her hair was long and dank, white as snow, tangled in greasy clumps around her drawn face, her eyes huge and sightless, lidless and black, so black, like night, like the pools of brackish water where glowing cave-things squirm and flop.

Her lipless mouth twitched and writhed and her teeth, long and brittle needles of black bone, gnashed between them. Her belly was great and swollen, moving and shifting. Below, from between her legs, fleshy cords trailed out behind her, dragging a dozen lifeless children, bodies black and thick with sticky blood. They were twisted parodies of what an infant should be, some limbless, some headless, others with organs dragging outside their broken bodies. All dead before they fell to the dusty basement floor.

I began to jabber senselessly, my sanity finally and completely fleeing, and she turned her long neck toward my cries. It creaked like an old door.

It was moments before she was on me, her fingers breaking through my skin, pinning me like a butterfly to a cork board. I shrieked and moaned but her fingers wormed into me, holding me. I was blind with pain even before I felt a single fleshy barb pierce my stomach. It pulsed and I could feel her, filling me up.




I have only a few hours, I know. I can feel my belly swelling, can feel things swimming inside me, but my fear is gone, replaced by purpose. Soon, we'll leave here. We'll head out to into this barren world, and we'll bring joy. We'll bring birth. We will find every single one of you and fill you with babies.

We will make more.