Sunday, July 25, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #43

Value
by Shona Snowden


The Winton baby had just stopped crying when the Peace baby started. Again.

Nurse Assistant Evans froze in the aisle, one foot in mid-air. Wails echoed through the dim nursery.

At the desk Nurse Ilda flicked over a page of her magazine. "Go change his diaper." She flicked over another page.

From the Peace baby's bassinette, Evans yelped: "you've gotta see this!"

"Girl!" Ilda hauled herself up. "If I've seen one poop, I've seen "em all."

"Not this one." A sea-blue sapphire sparkled in the Peace baby's diaper.

Ilda prodded the baby's tummy with a clubbed finger. He whimpered. She thought for a moment. "Let's feed him."

Three ounces of formula later, the baby screamed in pain and yielded a ruby and a diamond.

Ilda settled herself in a rocker with the baby and a six-ounce bottle of formula.

"That's too much!" Evans protested.

Ilda glanced up at the clock. "Five am. Two hours 'til our shift is done. My credit rating's shot. And didn't you want to go to college?" The Peace baby arched his back and shrieked. A sapphire, an emerald and a diamond. Evans thrust another bottle into Ilda's hand.

The baby moaned, twisting from the teat. Ilda plugged his whimpers with milk, until the formula was gone. The baby writhed in pain, his face purple-red.

At six thirty doctors filled the nursery, muttering about intestinal blockage.

At six forty three the Peace baby died.

At nine thirty Nurse Assistant Evans enrolled in medical college.

Paediatrics.

30 comments:

JR's Thumbprints said...

This story rocks! No pun intended. Gives new meaning to making sacrifices in order to go to college. Bravo!

Oddyoddyo13 said...

That's kinda cruel. Who'd do that to a kid for money? Tsk. Tsk.

Very good though. LoL

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ah greed. And a commentary on how the patients can become less than human when they're seen day in and day out.

Love the matter-of-fact way they handle killing to survive. Chillingly reminds me of the real people who don't value human life, unless it's their own, of course.

Peter Dudley said...

Outstanding! I love the pacing and the way it's described in that kind of detached orphanage language. The Winton baby, the Peace baby.

I am intrigued by your choice of name for the baby that dies.

once again you've hit a winner, Shona. Terrific.

Aerin said...

Excuse me? Who let Shona in here? Don't the rest of us get a chance?

Well done, Shona. I thought at first you were just going for humor, until they started plying the babies with bottles. You're tricky, and horrendously talented. I like it.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

Whoa, that was nasty. Wicked. Extraordinary.

Aimee Laine said...

That's just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. But well written. :)

Angel Zapata said...

Yeah, this was wicked good.

The moral: how to go from shit to success.

Lee said...

I was going to read more, but I think I'll go feed my children now and hope for the best.

Aerin said...

OMG, I choked when I read Lee's comment. Too funny.

J. Elis Morgan said...

Disturbing but oh so achingly GOOD!

Jade L Blackwater said...

Great story - nice use of humor for a totally harsh tale.

Aniket said...

Echo to Aerin. Pete, Shona and JR should now join the judging panel and give us mortals a fighting chance. This is crazy good! From humor to horror in 250 words. And packing a punch in the end too!

So now, all we have to do is pick up No. 2,3,4 and 5 right?

Robin B. said...

Agree with Aniket. This is crazy good - so much said in so short a 'time'. I love this loads.

Aerin said...

Aniket, don't forget Josh. Add him to the judges' panel. He can be Simon.

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Shona

I was hoping after they killed more Peace that when they reached into their pockets, it was full of baby poop... for real. Serve them right for being so damn greedy!

LOL

Dottie :)

Whirlochre said...

Compactly creepy. Love it.

SzélsőFa said...

geeez - what sort of babies were they ?
i laughed :)))
great flow, easy reading, interesting story.

word v: presse
just what exactly those poor creatures were doing because of the greediness of the nurses :s

peace baby how ironic...

JaneyV said...

You are a horrible wicked woman to have written such cruelty and made me laugh out loud. Either you're a brilliant writer or you're a witch.

Of course you could be both!

Loved it Shona. You have one hell of an imagination!

Joni said...

As a regular diaper-changer this piece resonated with me. I feel bad for Peace baby.

Creative concept. Nice job.

Precie said...

I bow at your feet, Shona.

Laurel said...

You need medication. Seriously.

Except that it might inhibit your mad skills.

This was horribly disturbing for all that it felt allegorical, with the nurses willing to kill Peace for profit.

Just stop. Really. Give everybody else a chance once in a while.

JaneyV said...

Is anybody else singing "Give Peace A Chance"? No? Just me then...

Catherine Vibert said...

ROFL Janey! OMG!
Shona, this story is awesome. Horrible, evil, and awesome. Obvious and subtle allegorical references combined with a damned fine imagination make for another great story from the unnamed one herself.

Deb Smythe said...

LOL. My favorite line. "If I've seen one poop, I've seen "em all."
I know, I have a very sophisticated sense of humor.

Chris Eldin said...

Shona is Neil Gaimann in disguise...
:-)
Love this one, as I knew I would!

Michael Morse said...

Nicely done!

Vincent Kale said...

So far I've read about two damsels who spit up gems when they talk, one who spits up toads and snakes and at least two guys who've swallowed jewels (real or fake).
I think I can safely say this is the only tale with babies crapping diamonds!

That being said, you had me laughing in the first part. Then I started to feel bad for laughing. Then...I just kinda felt bad. Poor kid.

Great transition of mood and tone in such a short space!

bekbek said...

In addiction to a GREAT story, I think you have singlehandedly inspired a new award category: Punniest comment. My vote goes to Robin B. for "I love this loads."

Well done, Shona. But you knew that already. :)

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Oh this is fun! And wrong and twisted, haha. Really well done. :)