This story takes place during “47°9′S 126°43′W”. It originally appeared in Pill Hill Press’ Daily Bites of Flesh 2011.
Amanda knew something was wrong when sunlight woke her instead of the baby. She found him ashen-blue and lips purple. Patting his belly, she called his name, first in an unbelieving and hopeful coo, then rising into a panicked scream, ending in an accepting whimper. She lifted him from the crib, held him to her chest and wept. She sat in the rocking chair and demanded answers from God. The empty room did not respond.
She did not know how long she rocked there before the baby stirred. He made no noise, just snuggled closer to his mother. Amanda laughed between tears of joy, thanked the same God she cursed moments before. Dozens of sharp teeth bit through Amanda’s nightgown, into her chest. She screamed and threw the baby from her. A piece of her tore away in his jaws.
The baby hit the floor with a screech of protest. Though too young to crawl the baby jumped on to all fours, each limb distended and disjointed like an obscene spider. Hissing through a maw of teeth he did not have the night before, the baby chased his mother as she fled the room. He slammed into the door just as she shut it.
Howls filled the house as Amanda ran to the kitchen. She pulled open the knife drawer too far, spilled the contents. On hands and knees she pushed away knives until she found a serrated blade, without any real thought of what she intended to do with it. When she stood she noticed the howling had stopped.
She crept down the hallway, mindful of every creak in the floorboards. Her entire body quaked. Amanda reached for the door, drawing in a tear-wracked breath. The baby heard and threw itself against the door with impossible strength. Fright twisted Amanda’s feet around each other, brought her to the floor. Propelled by elbows and the back of her heels, she scurried away from the door until she met a wall. The baby beat the door in a fury. Each shudder of the wood sent a flinching sob through Amanda. She closed her eyes, pressed the balls of her hands to her temples, tried to wish it away.
The baby roared, a sound too clear to be mistaken. “Mommy!” His first word. Amanda opened her eyes. A tiny hand reached through the crack between floor and door, the fingers contorted into talons. Amanda shook her head, sputtered a “No,” over and over. “Mommy!” the baby roared again.
“No!” Amanda screamed so loud her throat tore. The baby screamed back in words Amanda could not understand. They sounded like the curses of a dead-language. Each word mocked Amanda, pummeled away any will she had to confront the thing that had been her child or pick herself up from the floor ever again. She began to saw at her wrist with the serrated blade.
Crib Death by Bruce L. Priddy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.