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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #1969341
An unexpected encounter delivers profound horror
"The Split Fare"

I said, "Hey, Carmen, come on let's go downtown"
She said, "I gotta go but my friend can stick around"

~Robbie Robertson - "The Weight" 

Still to this day the horror lingers. How the situation was even tolerable considering my disposition for “moderate” anxiety is well beyond explanation. I must also convey that the events of this tale took me by complete and utter surprise. Nevertheless, the scene, to which I so reluctantly witnessed, is forever etched into the fabric of my soul. My hope and prayer is that the haunting of the incident will someday depart and free my spirit from its torment. I fear that without this relief, the peace I once held dear will be but a fleeting memory. 

The story began with me hailing a cab on Welford – close to the Commons. There was a heavy rain, which had blanketed the Northeast region for the better part of that week, and most in the district looked forward to once again seeing the brightness of the sun. I was soaked to the bone, having walked two blocks before spotting the cab. It pulled to the curb, and as I opened the back door an attractive lady, pregnant as could be, entered the other side at the very same time. I never saw her approaching the cab and likewise, determined by her reaction, suspected she hadn’t initially seen me either, because we both were given a subtle fright. The startle was immediately followed by a bout of laughter from each of us, which, in my case, reflected my embarrassment more so than any humor found in the moment.

“I’m headed to the Davis Square area,” I said, with all the intentions of sharing the ride.

She bashfully pushed her wet hair from her eyes and smiled.
“That’s fine,” she responded, “I’m on the way.”

She told the cabbie the specific location and off we went.

We enjoyed some small chat – mostly about the dreadful weather and to a lesser extent the recent collective short comings of our local sports teams.

Her beauty became more apparent as we talked. Not only was she physically stunning - notwithstanding her condition, she was also charming and mysterious. I mention her condition not detracting from her beauty, not because I feel pregnant woman are in any way unattractive. It’s just that this woman looked so ready to burst it very well could have caused me not to notice her beauty, but it did not. 

“If you don’t mind, how far along are you?” I asked, as I glanced down at her protruding tummy.

The question brought a hint of sadness to her face, causing me to regret the inquiry immediately.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

“No, no, it’s alright,” she interjected. “There’s a lot going on. I’m sorry. It’s nothing you said.” She turned away and stared out into the wet darkness.

“I’m actually overdue,” she continued, still looking out the window. “That’s where I’m on my way to…I’m going to be induced tonight.”

The sadness remained in her tone and on her face.

“Well, I certainly wish you all the best,” I said, with sincere compassion.

Just then, a strange look swept across her face – followed by a violent, forward lunge.

“I don’t think the induction is going to be necessary,” she said in a broken and strained tone.

“Are you okay? What…what can I do?” The agony on her face said more than enough, and at that moment, to say that I was near to a state of shock would have been quite an understatement.

“Driver, we need to get this young lady to the nearest hospital right away!” I yelled.

“No, please,” the woman pleaded, “not the hospital. Take me to the address I gave you.”

“But you need emergency care right away,” I said, in an authoritative tone and without hesitation.

“No, please… there’s a midwife at the address. I must go there…nowhere else. She’s already expecting me. It will be fine.”

We were at the apartment within ten minutes. I gave the driver a bill to cover both fares and quickly made my way to the other side of the cab.

“I need you to stay with me…please,” she said, as I opened the door to help her out of the vehicle.

“Yes, yes of course…anything you need.”

I wondered what the hell I was saying right after I said it. Of course I was sincere in my commitment (I would never consider just leaving the poor woman at the doorway – especially after her request), but nonetheless, I acknowledged my dreadful luck for being caught in such a predicament.

She draped her arm across my shoulder for support, as I held her firmly around her waist. We trudged up to the second floor of what looked to be a common, multifamily apartment house. We took a sharp turn down a darkened hall and made our way to the last door. “Number seven down the end,” she said – half raising her hand to direct.

At this point I was beside myself, just marveling at my pathetic luck. The timing of the whole mess, I dare speculate, could not have worked out any worse for me, even if it had been planned months in advance.

I tried the door, as my lady friend gave out a loud cry of pain. “Please open the door,” I yelled, in the most desperate sounding tone that I could muster.

Almost immediately, the door flung open and a stout woman, in all urgency, lent support to the lady’s other side and ushered us into the apartment.

“How long ago did they start?” the midwife asked.

“Did…did who start?” I responded.

“The labor pains…how long ago?”

“Ah, maybe fifteen minutes ago…I’m really not…”

“Help me get her to the bed.”

Once the young lady was situated on the delivery bed, I dismissed myself to the hallway. She did request that I stay by her side, but feeling at odds with the request, I assured her that I would stay right outside the door.

It is there, in the hallway, not long after taking my post that the frightening screams began.

The bellows stirred dread into my being. Initially, they seemed normal enough – what I would imagine at least, but soon they turned to beast like howls.

My heart pounded, as I waited at the door. I pondered whether to re-enter the room, and to my shame, also thought of fleeing the scene altogether. It is when the bellows heightened to a near deafening tone that the midwife, in sheer panic, burst out of the room.

“We need you in here, right away!”

“Of course,” I said, doing my best to hide my fright.

When I entered the room, I could barely comprehend. The blood, it was all over the floor. Streaks and tracks, made by the busy midwife, trailed out of deep, red pools, creating what looked to be a horrific crime scene within the impromptu birthing room. To think this amount of blood could have been spilled out of the womb of this poor lady did not seem possible.

I felt immobilized at the mere sight. My eyes remained fixed on the pools and the hideous smears and tracks which protruded. In my bewilderment, I felt a deep sense of dread, not only for the woman, but for myself as well.

The woman was contoured with her back in a deep arch. A blood soaked sheet lay across her person. Howls of agony filled the air.

“The baby is breech,” the midwife said. “I need you over here.”

She directed me to hold the woman’s arms. I took hold of each arm, as the woman continued to heave in violent contortions.  I reluctantly watched in the event quick adjustments were needed, but I also did my best to remove my thoughts from the frightful display. It was all I could do to hold the woman. My hands were slipping from the force and the sweat. Panic spiked through my being in my desperation to keep hold of the flailing arms.

“I have his legs!” yelled the midwife. His, I thought. They must have already known the sex, or maybe it was a mere assumption on the midwife’s part. I watched while my mind screamed to be elsewhere. My hands were now losing grip. The thrusts were animal like, unveiling a primal violence which was disturbing as well as uncanny. They kept a demonic cadence with the beastlike howling. And then, with not even the slightest signs of waning, the thrusts completely ceased, and all was silent.

I kept my grip for fear the convulsions would start up again, but soon realized the baby was in the arms of the midwife. The face of the baby was hidden in the cradle of her arms. There was no crying. I immediately wondered if the infant was alive. An odd, deep rasping noise soon spilled into the air and filled the room. I realize the sound was coming from the baby. A bloody grey umbilical cord trailed from the bundle. It looked to be pulsating along with the metered and dark breathing. The mother, I thought. The stillness of her form was eerie. From my vantage point, I had no clear view of her face. I gently removed my grip and slowly walked to the side of the bed. Her mouth and her eyes were open wide in a lifeless state.

I was lost for words. The young lady was clearly dead. The midwife gave no notice of my silent shock nor did she show concern or sadness towards the dead mother. Her attention was solely on the infant – whose rasping breath quickly worked at chilling my blood. I still could not see the child, but judging from the girth of the bundle, it appeared to be quite large.

Something strange wavered above the blanket. I watched it move in erratic jerking motions. At first I thought it was a large oval sponge. It looked saturated with blood. I then realized that the sponge–like object was in the hands of the infant. An uncanny curiosity overwhelmed me, leaving all concerns for the mother at a distance. The spongy article looked oddly familiar, as the wicked fondling continued. I left my post at the head of the gurney and slowly walked towards the infant and the midwife.

The steady acceleration in my chest wrenched, as a pounding in my throat ensued. The horror before me lunged into my being. Within the clasps of the bloody fists resided the crimson heart of the now deceased mother.

I stood, frozen and distant. The hideous kneading within the clutches of this fiend had stolen all of my mental faculties. The preoccupation of the midwife for the monster was almost as disturbing as the event itself. I found myself locked within a perilous scene which gave way to a sense of damnation by mere association. Not once did the midwife look in my direction. On occasion the woman gave a glance toward the window, but it was an odd, uneasy look. The time that had elapsed since the birth seemed an eternity, though under most any other circumstance a guess of ten minutes duration would most likely have been accurate.

A frame of time seemed removed from my recollection of what followed. There was a moment, as I stood in my frozen state, when an onslaught of eerie darkness embraced the room - discarding all visual clarity. It was in this frame of time that I became certain the woman and the fiend were no longer present; moreover, I was no less certain that I was not alone. 

Cloaked in the darkness he stood before me. I have no words to describe the horror that screamed within my being, nor can I fashion words to describe this incarnation of unfathomable evil. There is no doubt, however as to whom he was. All goodness and beauty, all notions of righteousness and hope were utterly banished in his presence. Yes, even my own soul faced what seemed to be eternal condemnation at the mere sighting of the beast.

Fear pounded within my heart, anticipating even the slightest utterance from the reddish presence before me. No words came, but there was little doubt that my eternal fate was now within the abysmal clutches of hell.

The pounding increased within my chest, becoming more and more erratic. Violent thrusts erupted into stabbing pain, ripping through the walls of my frantic heart. The internal onslaught caused me to stumble backwards in agony.

My consciousness wavered in my trembling – ushering in periods of blackness. It was then that I realized the proximity of the beast was now upon me.

His evil visage, in all clarity, bore into my soul. The ripping within my chest continued in mad fury. I became certain my heart was within the evil workings of his hands.

In my agony and horror, and what was certain to be my last mortal breath, an awareness overwhelmed my spirit. Through my fading consciousness, a reflection of my life unfolded. It was in that moment that I acknowledged the lifelong shunning of a certain call. A sacred herald, that over the years I prided myself in rejecting and mocking, was now dominating my spirit. The picture of what awaited me in lieu of this calling drove my spirit to deep regret and despair.

I cried out loud before the beast; not to him, for my plea was not directed towards one who was incapable of mercy. No, my cry was to the one and only God. In my seemingly hopeless condition, while I still had the breadth of physical existence, I pleaded for mercy from the Creator of all things.

This crying out marked the last memory of the room and the horror within its walls.

Thank God, my prayer was not too late. Deliverance from the dreadful position seemed swift, as I found myself awaking within my own bed. Profound gratitude poured forth from my being, as I realized my allegiance was now and should have always been grounded at the feet of my Deliverer and Savior. 

Recalling the details of that dreadful night were initially vague - so vague that I began to have doubts that the whole ordeal was anything more than my own imagination. As time passed, however, my recollection became more acute, and with that, as I mentioned earlier, a haunting that will forever follow me. My account of the incident is true and accurate, of this I can assure you. Furthermore, I have no doubt that all was orchestrated by my Lord for my own well-being.

It did occur to me after some time that there was a lesson to be learned in the details of this witnessing - a lesson which extended beyond the primary purpose of the matter. It is not for me to speculate on the ultimate fate of the woman, but I will say that her beauty, defining both her physical and character aptitude was stunning in my eyes. Likewise, to guess that such a misfortune would visit such a person would seem, in my eyes, heartless and cruel if orchestrated within divine providence.

It is, however, a result of my sinful human nature that I would adopt such a notion and question God’s wisdom and purpose. For who am I to judge what is good or evil, right or wrong unless the measurement of such things has been defined by the Creator himself? Who am I to question an omnipotent being whose complete sovereignty governs every event?

It is my hope that someday I will gather the nerve to revisit the scene of that dreadful night, for a slight curiosity lingers within my spirit. I feel it will bring a sense of closure and perhaps diminish the internal horror which lingers. The likelihood of this happening is slim, however. The horror, I fear, is destined to remain, at least until my last breath.

Word Count: 2,675

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