The Round 7 Challenge was different for each contestant. An element of the eliminated stories was assigned to each constestant. I chose to go with Coco’s challenge to incorporate Dostoyevsky – taken from Igor’s story.
Joseph Pullen pulled his ear pods out and put his head in his hands. What should have been a professional triumph wasn’t. Putting a track on Doug Valhalloran seemed an ambitious but obvious avenue of surveillance two years ago, when he wanted to fast track his way up the bureaucratic ladder. He didn’t understand then.
He and his wife Miranda were awaiting the arrival of their first child.
Miranda was radiant, beautiful. Except for a couple of months of nausea at the start of the pregnancy she had never been healthier or more intune with her body. She was terrified of the surgery because she’d never been seriously ill nor needed hospitalisation before. Their misgivings were mounting and last week Miranda had heard from a distant friend women were dying from uterine infections and babies were drowning from amniotic fluid in their lungs. The friend had whispered the delivery unit was nothing short of a production line abattoir slicing women open and ripping babies out.
It felt wrong to hand over Midwife 002 – Sylvie Valhalloran.
Joseph knew the conversation between brother and sister would disappear with one point and sweep of his finger across the screen of his work station. If only he’d kept his mouth shut when the alarm went off.
He felt a hand clamp down painfully on his shoulder. “Hey Joey, your supervisor gave me the heads up.” It was Brian from the Johaansen Squad three floors above. “Who’ve you got? My team’s on stand by.”
Joseph pointed to the photo on the screen, not trusting his ability to speak unaffected.
“Midwife 002. Fucking hell Joey. Download it now.”
“C’mon dickwad. Hurry up. They’re like rats, pissing off once you’ve got a fix on them. I want her on death row before dawn.”
“Wait,” Joseph said, swallowing hard as the download finalised. “If you tail her, you’ll get the midwife, mother and infant.” It was her only chance.
Brian pushed past Joseph and snatched the chip from the info writer. The Director loved high profile arrests. But include a newborn. Brian smirked – he would get his promotion finally.
“Good boy Joey. Maybe I’ll get you promoted to JS.”
Joseph shrugged nonchalantly. Assignment there was the last thing he wanted.
“Godspeed Sylvie,” Joseph thought as Brian strode off hastily arranging to have the midwife followed.
– – –
The PDA beeped again. Ignoring it wouldn’t make it go away. It was time to go again. She closed the 1956 edition of Crime and Punishment which had belonged to her mother and put it in her kit. The red cover was battered and held together with yellowing strips of sticky tape. She travelled light – the book, her framed photo and ID were her only personal effects plus a handful of second hand clothes.
Packed, Sylvie opened the most recent message, tapping her finger on the PDA screen while the encryption programme unlocked the message.
Client: Primiparous. Vertex. No complications.
Location: Dead Zone
- – Immediate departure
- – Package will arrive with keys and GPS coordinates.
- – Blue SUV parked two blocks south. Dint in the rear fender.
- – Escort only inside Dead Zone.
I can only trust this to you Sylvie. May the Goddess walk with you beautiful daughter ~ Maia.
Ten years ago no midwife would have contemplated venturing into the Dead Zone. It was suicide. But every time she walked out the door Sylvie stared death in the face. It was just another day at the office, only this time she got to drive herself into Hell.