Meredith felt sick. This has been happening with increasing frequency as of late and she did not like it. It did not feel like the kind of sick that happened when one was pregnant.
She had read books and watched videos about pregnancy symptoms and none of it included this. It was as though the child inside her was eating her up.
She wanted it out, but first she needed to throw up.
She was standing at the back of the church in a pew right beside the door in case she needed to make a quick exit.
It was a Saturday night service for the people who could not make it in for the Sunday morning one, so the stained-glass windows were dark.
Ahead of her was a smattering of people spread across the rows of benches, all with heads bowed to their individual hymn books.
Meredith had one in her hand too, but she put it down and stepped out of the pew. She made for the stairs to the basement where the restroom awaited her.
She stepped inside, heaving and retching, one hand on her swollen belly as she bent over the toilet. When she had finished, she flushed and moved to the sink.
She looked at herself in the mirror, hands firmly planted on either side of the sink.
She could still hear the singers upstairs, but the hymn was ending and as the final note played, the lights went out.
There was a moment of darkness where all she could hear was her breathing. Then, faintly, she heard a second breath take place, one that did not match her own.
It was deeper, like the huff of an animal. She whirled around as the emergency lights clicked on, neon red. She fully expected another person to be in the room with her.
When she saw that nothing was there, she looked back at the mirror and stumbled backwards.
There was a thing behind her in the mirror, seemingly floating in the air. It was pink and fleshy, twisted and mangled.
She looked at it closer and it appeared to be a fetus but for a creature she had never seen before.
Words spilled from its…mouth? She couldn’t tell what it was, but it was moving in a way that suggested a mouth.
“Kill me,” it rasped, “Kill me.”
Another wave of biliousness and pain swept over her. Her knees weakened, but she stood standing. The thing rotated its bulbous head towards her, speaking again.
Meredith shook her head, “I can’t,” she cried. What she meant, she did not herself know.
“Then I will kill us both.”
The lights flickered, and the thing moved towards the mirror and her. Meredith screamed. The creature passed through the mirror and into her open mouth.
She tried to close her mouth around the fetus, stopping it but it squirmed inside. She could feel it wriggle its way down her throat and she passed out.
Meredith could not tell how long she had been lying on the ground of the restroom. The floor was sticky, damp, and impossibly warm. She tried to sit up but struggled.
Her whole body was covered in sweat. She tuned into the fact that someone was knocking on the door.
“Come in,” she rasped, remembering that it was not locked.
The door creaked open and in stepped the pastor. He surveyed the room in shock. Meredith looked about as well and realised that she was lying in a pool of blood.
In fact, there was blood pretty much everywhere. The pastor whispered that he would go and find help. Meredith nodded and laid backdown, too tired to go anywhere.
Her belly felt empty and she realised that the thing in the mirror had failed to kill her, that it had killed itself in the process.