At first glance, it seemed like an ordinary black-and-white sonogram of a fetus across the monitor. It didn't strike me as beautiful, nor anything remarkable. The fetus was sucking its thumb and wriggling around in the womb, but I couldn't feel it inside of me. It didn't feel like this creature was a part of me.
"What's the matter?" I asked, as I crawled out of the bed to examine the monitor closer, wondering what all the fuss was about.
That's when I noticed it.
A red dot, where its eye should be. Burning bright like a red-hot coal amidst the abyss. It reminded me of my late-night car journeys in the obscure black night, with a red traffic light glowing in the distance. The longer I stared at it, the brighter the light became, until the blackness faded out and all I saw was red. It almost seemed like it was staring back at me.
"What is that?" I asked, pointing to the beaming red dot. "Is that supposed to be there?"
"It could be a... technical issue of some sort," the male answered, his voice wavering in uncertainty. "This is an old monitor, after all. It could be a pixelated distortion. I wouldn't worry too much about it."
"Right," the nurse mumbled. She, too, seemed unconvinced by his claim.
"What I find most interesting is..."
She paused for a moment, selecting her words carefully.
"According to Miss Kamez, this fetus is four weeks old. At this stage, it should be so tiny that we shouldn't really see anything... It should look like a peanut."
"Four weeks old?" Her colleague echoed, eyeing my stomach with a look of disbelief. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure... I guess," I muttered feebly. I was beginning to doubt myself, wondering if I had cognitive problems.
Pointing to the screen with her dainty finger, the nurse observed the image with a curious countenance.
"Here, you can clearly see the outline of the fetus. You can its head, nose, arms, ear and legs. And if you look even closer, you can see its fingers and toes, and its little penis here..."
My heart skipped a beat.
I was having a boy.
The tiny tympanic heartbeat from the ultrasound wand was the only noise that I could hear. His heart. Staring at the fetus - my baby - on the monitor caused my heart to flutter dangerously, like a bird trying to flee from its cage. His teeny, tiny heart was beating so fast. Before I knew it, there were tears in my eyes and I couldn't see the screen properly through my blurry vision. He was real, and he was in me.
Suddenly, I felt a wave of emotion hit me all at once.
Why did my heart ache for him?
"...He's very developed... typically what we expect at the end of the second trimester."
The nurse's voice brought me back to the present.
I shook my head, as if trying to shake away the feelings that were seizing control of me. I was feeling overly emotional due to these pregnancy hormones. Nothing more, nothing less.
"So, what does this mean?" I asked, so softly, that I might as well have been whispering. Warily, I hold on to my stomach, which was twisting with anxiety. I felt sick. Breathless. Dizzy.
"Am I six months pregnant?"
Perhaps, I had bumped my head a little too hard during my blackouts, and I didn't realize that so much time had flown past. Or perhaps, Snow White wasn't the father after all... Could it be possible that Sabian, my first and only love, was the biological father? Logically, the time frame would make sense, but then again, I've been having my periods regularly for these past few months, until that one-night stand with Snow White.
Thinking about this hurt my head. The two professionals were muttering to each other, a bunch of medical jargon that I was in no state to comprehend, until the nurse finally answered me.
"We don't know for certain. There's something..."
She hesitated momentarily, briefly exchanging glances with her colleague, who nodded in support.
"...unusual about this fetus' development and we're concerned..."
That was all I could recall, before I had fainted - once again.
When I woke up, I was seeing white, not the blinding white of snowfall or the searing white of smoke, but an antiseptic white room which could be a high-tech hospital or a laboratory. The nurse and her colleague were nowhere in sight.
Instead, a new face was hovering beside my bed. An attractive black-haired Hispanic man, who appeared to be in his mid-thirties, wearing a white lab coat with a stethoscope draped around his neck. He was scribbling away on the clipboard in his hands, but then he paused, as his dark-brown eyes focused on me, noticing that I was looking up at him.
"Hello there," he said in a deep bellowing voice that resonated from behind a thick black beard and mustache. "I'm Doctor Miguez. How are you feeling?"
"Erm..." I scanned my surroundings, realizing that I was no longer in the treatment room. "I'm alright, I guess... Where am I?"
"You have been transferred here to the Riverdale General Hospital, from the Garden Grove Clinic," he replied. "You have been under our care for," he glanced at his wrist-watch, "around ten hours or so."
I looked at the window, which I had a nice direct view of on my right side. The darkening sky was filled with lavender and indigo clouds, covering up the first stars of the night. So much time had gone by, yet to me, it only felt like I had passed out for five minutes.
"How does your head feel?" Doctor Miguez asked. Turning to look back at him, I was surprised to see him lean closer to me. For a second, I thought he was going to kiss me out of the blue, but then I realized that he was checking my head.
"I was informed that you had a pretty bad fall."
"It hurts a bit," I admitted, rubbing the back of my head. "I'll be fine, though."
There was a slight throbbing pain that I felt, but it was nothing that I couldn't handle. I've experienced worse falls during this pregnancy. It's a miracle that I haven't been diagnosed with brain damage or broken any bones... Well, not yet, anyway.
Doctor Miguez proceeded to ask me a string of questions to make sure that I did not have a concussion. Afterwards, when he seemed content with my answers, he sat down on the chair beside my bed. He lowered the clipboard onto his lap, while clearing his throat.
"Whilst you were unconscious, we've conducted further examination on the fetus."
There was something ominous about his tone that made me hold in my breath.
"And there's something you should know."
I sat up in the bed, alert and on guard. "What's that?"
"There is something very strange about this child in your uterus..."
An uneasy feeling crept up on me beneath the fixity of the doctor's cold gaze.
What he said next would haunt me for as long as I lived.
"From what we are observing, this fetus is exhibiting... parasitic qualities. We suspect... it might not be entirely human."