Feb. 9th, 2005

The door opened and a flurry of cold air came in, followed by another group of second trimester hosts due for their final physical. Snow melted and trickled off their shoes, darkening the carpet.

They signed in – name, time – then continued their conversations or stared silently out the windows at the white sky and landscape.

Only three protestors stood out in the cold today, warmed by their convictions. One double-sided sign could be read from the inside: THE BEAST GROWS IN YOUR WOMB.

Medical workers came out and took the two at the top of the list into the exam rooms. Marie got called 45 minutes into the wait, interrupting a reverie about a shiny-eyed Beast growing in her and controlling the outcome of the tests.

The medical assistant took blood pressure and noted answers to routine questions, then left. After a while, the doctor entered and introduced herself and went over Marie's file. "Cutting it kind of close aren't you? Three days left."

Marie nodded and didn't say anything. Three more days before the beginning of the third trimester, after which removal would be illegal and she'd have to carry the spoiled products through to stillbirth, at her own expense.

"What if it was really a baby?", Marie asked. "What if they implanted a normal egg by accident. Could you tell the difference?"

The doctor hesitated without looking up, clearly downgrading her estimation of Marie's mental fitness while trying to not let that become too obvious. She answered, talking a little louder and simpler.

"There's no risk of that – you can see the pictures here in a minute..." She hooked Marie up and took the pictures. "So you can clearly see it's just a normal biomachine and not a fetus. I know this has all been gone over before with you or you would never have gotten this far – I assume you've been looking at some of the creative protest materials?"

Marie nodded, embarrassed. "I know I can see the pictures, but they say those can be faked – the company contracts control all the machines and no one can see inside. And it's true we're not allowed to see the bir— the delivery." She didn't mention her daydream.

The doctor attempted to keep the irritation out of her voice, glancing at the clock. "I know you know the reasons for putting the host out for delivery. As for faking the imaging – I don't think I've heard that one before." She paused. "We have to finish up here so I can get to the other patients and I'm not really the person to go over this side of things with you, so I want you to visit the counseling department after we're done, ok?" She waited until Marie nodded, then continued with the tests and physical, finally pronouncing her in excellent health and ready for standard delivery any time in the remaining three days. The walked out to the side desk and the doctor left Marie with an assistant to call and schedule the counseling session (tomorrow) and the delivery (in three days – the assistant didn't argue with Marie's suggested date).

Marie waited to leave, pretending to read some pamphlets, until another woman bundled against the cold and left. She kept the woman between herself and the protestors. A prayer was muttered for or against them, not understandable through their BioMech fur hoods. No new-real fur for the protestors, just old-fashioned synthetics, even though animal hosts were used for those.

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eleriah / iwadoj

February 2005

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