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Dangers of Delivery

Jez Patterson is a teacher and writer currently alternating between the UK and Madrid. Links to his recent and collected fiction can be found at: jezpatterson.wordpress.com.

The term "expecting a baby" always seemed to include an element of doubt. As in: I was expecting a baby, so imagine my surprise when a chicken turned up.
Captain Percina Saunders sighed, wishing the air she blew out would deflate some of the enormous belly that was currently strapped to her midriff. "Saunders Junior" was two weeks overdue and she was seriously considering initiating more drastic measures. Caesarean section was aptly named: designed to remove a petty little dictator who was refusing to leave his palace. Brutus's solution had been dramatic... but understandable.
It's a Saunders, her mother had said. We don't do things when we're told, but when they're right.
"Are you sure you want to work today?" Martin asked.
"I want to keep busy," Percina said, heaving herself into the space-ambulance's cockpit and flicking the seatbelt out the way.
Martin watched, worry etched on his otherwise perfectly enhanced face.
Had she still been working for the Fleet, had she not enhanced her first mate and then married him and so lost her position, there was no way Percina would still be flying at this stage of her pregnancy. But there were always vacancies for space-ambulance pilots, ferrying patients to whatever medical facilities they were insured with.
The ambulances were fitted with basic healthcare equipment but a shortage of trained medical staff meant the best they could do was put the patient into temporary health-stasis until they arrived and could be expertly treated.
Percina's decision to pilot the ambulance wasn't entirely irresponsible: once the baby decided to arrive, she would need to get to a maternity ward--and what quicker way was there than an ambulance you were already inside?
"Okay, all yours," Martin said as the porters slid the stasis bed off the ambulance and hurried it through to the operating theatre. It was their fifth delivery that day.
A light went on on her console and Percina accepted the next job without even consulting her husband.
When they touched down in the food hall of a large galactic mall and Martin helped on board a husband and very pregnant wife, Percina could only feel jealousy. The woman was puffing her cheeks out, very clearly close to giving birth.
Stasis under such conditions wasn't advisable and so Percina wound up the engines to their top speed and let rip.
"My wife needs medical attention now," the husband told them.
"They'll take good care of her in the hospital," Percina said.
"No," he said, leveling a pistol at a space midway between Percina and Martin. "You must do it."
The hijacker held the gun like someone holding the handle of a rather awkwardly shaped teacup.
He wasn't used to this kind of business, and the nervous--not to mention guilty--set of his features underlined this fact. Even with her sizeable belly, Percina could have disarmed him.
"We have enough time to get you to a hospital," Percina told him.
"We have no insurance," the husband said. "And Horcenth... She's in a lot of pain."
On cue, his wife rolled, groaned, and the husband let the gun drop as he ran to her, his eyes pleading with them to do something.
"Martin?" Percina asked. The benefit of having a husband with enhanced mental capabilities was that he had information filed away that could sometimes be of use in a crisis.
Martin went to the woman, looked at her, pressed here and there.
He patted the husband's arm and came back over to Percina.
"It's serious, but I can't do anything for them. She needs proper medical care or she'll lose the baby... maybe her own life too."
"Damn," Percina said. Hospitals didn't accept charity cases, or promises to pay--and she and Martin's savings were so small a piggy bank would have died of malnutrition.
The husband was weeping now.
"Give me your wallet," she said to Martin.
"There's not enough in it."
She fixed her eyes on his. "Yes, there is."
Percina took her own wallet out, walked up to the husband. "Your name is Martin," she told him, handing over Martin's identity papers. "And your wife's name is Captain Percina Saunders."
The husband looked at the medical cards, back up at them. His face was full of both confusion and thanks.
"Now let's get you to the hospital."
When their backs were turned, Percina hissed for Martin to come over.
"You may need to call on that limited medical knowledge of yours anyway," she said.
She looked up at him, managed a smile. "My contractions have started."
"But our baby...."
"Is a Saunders," she said and squeezed his hand until he yelped.
Borne to be a Hero.
And Born to be a Hero.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Author Comments

Today's story is the season finale. I'd like to thank all at DSF for giving me this opportunity to share Percina's adventures, and all those that have read, commented on, mailed me about the stories. Thank you.

- Jez Patterson
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