Mary hadn’t slept since the baby was born. She couldn’t. The room didn’t have a clock, so she wasn’t sure how long it had been, but the thing in the corner was starting to smell. Three days? She didn’t know much longer she could stay awake. Her head drooped, and she jerked back awake. Not asleep, but losing time.
The baby looked like her, but it was too early to tell if he would take after his father. Grace, her daughter, did and that obvious from the start. Gracie was playing idly with her food. Bored but not bothered.
“I don’t like it,” Gracie said, “it tastes funny.”
“You need to it, Gracie. You’ll get sick if you don’t.”
“I don’t want to.”
Gracie pouted, looking remarkably like a normal six year old, considering the situation. Mary looked at the corner and cradled her son a little closer. Gracie looked up from eating, wiped at her face but succeeded only in smearing her face pink.
“Can I have dessert?”
Mary was too tired to shudder. Almost too tired. Gracie just didn’t understand. How could she? Mary looked away, looked at the door. The dresser was still firmly in place, just enough room to jam a chair underneath the door knob. They’d tried to get in, while she was in labor. They hadn’t tried since. She didn’t hear anything, but that didn’t matter. They could be quiet for halfway to her ever. After what happened with her husband, she knew that. She looked at the corner and wished she had enough left to cry.
“Mommy, I want dessert.”
“There’s no dessert.”
“But I want it.”
The little girl turned her back and pouted. She, apparently, had no problem crying. Mary looked at her golden little girl and wondered if it would ever be safe. She just had to stay awake a little longer. They needed water. Gracie seemed okay, but Mary was thirsty. When she couldn’t make milk anymore, she would have a choice. It didn’t matter if they were still out there. The baby cooed a little and moved. He seemed healthy. Not like his father.
Mary rested her head back in the chair, knowing better but unable to stop. She snapped her head at the sound, jerking back from lost time. Someone was knocking on the door. Mary bit her lip, held her breath.
Another knock at the door, urgent this time.
“Ma’am, if you can hear me, I need to respond. This is the police.”
Oh god. Oh god, oh god, oh god. She stood up, grabbed Gracie by the hand.
She was sobbing, she didn’t care.
“Ma’am we need to move the dresser and the chair and open the door. You don’t have to worry, the house is secure.”
“Ma’am, they’re dead.”
She closed her eyes for a moment and cried. She smiled for the first time in a long time.
“Mommy, are Grandma and Grandpa okay?”
“They’re fine. We just need to move the dresser. Can you help Mommy?”
They moved the dresser together, moved the chair and opened the door. The fresh air hit Mary hard and she stumbled. The police officer, young and tall, grabbed her.
“Just come this way, Ma’am”
Mary and Gracie and the baby went out. There were two paramedics waiting for her, looking anxious. The female one moved forward.
Mary stumbled again. The paramedics grabbed her.
“I’m okay. I’m okay.”
“Mary, let me take the baby. You need to sit down so we can treat you.”
Mary didn’t want to let go, but she was so tired. She slumped against the wall. Slid to the floor. The paramedics and the cops moved forward, but she was okay. Jesus, she was okay. She looked at her son, tears dropping onto his face. He squirmed a bit, but he didn’t cry. He was a good baby. He was going to be fine. He wasn’t like his father.
“Mary, I know it’s hard, but we really need to take a look at both of you.”
And for the first time since he was born, Mary’s son left his mother’s arms. The paramedic, smiled at the boy, making faces like everyone does. Mary leaned back against the wall and closer her eyes. She could sleep now, except she couldn’t sleep. She wasn’t sure if she ever would. The male paramedic said something to her, and she felt a blood pressure cuff going around her arm. She looked at the police officer, who looked incredibly young. He smiled at her, trying to look reassuring, failing but Mary didn’t care.
“Your neighbors saw you taking your bags out to the car as you were going into labor. They tried calling your hospital, but nobody had seen you. They got worried and called us.”
“Karen. I’m never going to complain about her being nosy again.”
“I guess not, Ma’am. It was more than forty eight hours, so they sent someone around to check your house. We found….we found them there.”
The cop looked frightened, looked away from her. She knew exactly how he felt. The first time you saw one, saw them for what they really were, with their golden eyes. It was the eyes that you could never forget.
“They attacked us. We lost ten men, but we got them. They…they were…”
He looked over at Gracie, who was being checked out by the paramedic. She had the stethoscope in her ears, lost in her own world, trying to find the paramedic’s heart beat in his big bald head.
“They were my husband’s family.”
The cop just looked at her. He didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say. She smiled up at him.
She looked around, looked for her son. The female paramedic was nowhere in sight.
“Where did she go?”
“The paramedic, the woman. She took my son.”
A rush of panic filled Mary.
“Where is my son?”
Mary opened her eyes and looked down at empty arms. No. Looked up at the door, still shut, still blocked. No no no no no. Gracie looked up at her mother. She smiled, sharp little teeth licked clean. Mary looked at the small pile in front of Gracie. No.
“Thank you for dessert, Mommy.”
Gracie wiped her face with the baby’s blanket, smearing it with red. Gracie was her father’s daughter, all the way through. Mary picked up the knife, still red with her husband’s blood. She knew Gracie couldn’t help it. She knew, but she looked at the knife. Gracie looked up at her mother, tilted her head to the side, golden eyes curious.
“Mommy, what’s wrong?”
Mary dropped the knife to the floor. She looked at Grace, closed her eyes. She was so tired.
She felt sharp clawed fingers dig into her leg.
“Mommy,” Grace said, “I’m still hungry.”