“Even now the light of florescent medical bulbs makes me feel panic. It is to the point where if I need to visit a doctor or go to the hospital they need to give me a Xanax just to get me in the door. Thankfully, most of the people at the hospital are aware of my condition and make sure to leave a note of it in my records. The sound of bells remains terrifying to me as well, and easily the hardest time of the year is around Christmas. I keep the radio off at all times, and have to warn people when I come to a party. I still try to give to the Salvation Army, specifically those ringers of the bells outside of the local store. When I do though, I always have to ask the person I am with or a stranger to do it for me.
I was eight months pregnant when I noticed the bleeding between my legs. I was working at the elementary school, and so the ambulance took very little time to get to me. It was during lunch thank God, so I was eating in the teachers lounge when it happened. I couldn't bear the thought of the children seeing me like that. The school covered my absence well enough that day, though in the weeks that followed the student's questions only made things harder for me. I don't think it surprised anyone when I took an extended leave after the term had finished.
I arrived at the hospital in terrible pain. The doctors said that everything should be okay, but I knew what was going on. There were...complications with my pregnancy. I kept telling them to try and save my baby, that if it came between the baby and my life, that they should save my child. They planned on opening me up as opposed to trying to see if they could induce a natural birth. It didn't take long for them to insert the pain killers. I kept thinking about my baby, and how much I wanted them to live. Then the nurses asked me to count back from five. I was unconscious at three.
I awoke in another room. My body felt horrible, and there were bandages placed below my midsection. I was alone, and for a short time I was in too much of a haze to realize what had happened. Then it suddenly came back, as I felt a wet fear pass over me. I pressed the call button and waited anxiously for the nurse. I tried to sit up, but a flash of pain stopped me, as I felt myself nearly pass out again. What had happened to my body? The nurse arrived, and I only had one question on my mind.
“Did my baby make it?”
The nurse nodded happily, and I began to cry. I was in pain but I did not care. My baby was alive. Quickly, I asked her if she could get a doctor and my child, and as she left the room I could feel the weight of my anxiety leaving me. As I relaxed, I absently realized I had never asked if they were a boy or a girl.
I lay for several minutes, my eyes closed, waiting for them to deliver my newborn into my arms. Without warning, I began to smell a horrible odor. I opened my eyes, and felt myself nearly vomit off the side of the bed. Something was in the room with me. It had a tar like substance covering its skin, which dripped onto the bedding as it perched on the edge of the bed, staring at me from a single, shriveled opaque eye set deep within its socket. Its face seemed incapable of smiling and was stretched taut in a grimace, its pointed, nubby teeth the color of iron. I wanted to scream but somehow I couldn't. I reached and pressed the call button again, when I noticed something was held within its arms.
It was small and it was moving, and the moment I heard its cry I instantly knew what it was. It was a baby; my baby. I watched it step onto the bedspread, its stench increasing as it got closer. I was the unmistakable smell of old fish. I was sobbing, but all I could do was plead for it to please give me my baby. Soon it was only a couple of feet away, and I could see my child's gray eyes looking at me. They were crying, reaching out to me.
I lunged forward and tried to pull my baby from its grasp. It pulled back and hit me on the side of my head. Then it reached forward, under the bandaged, and tore out the stitches, causing blood to fall between my legs and into the sheets. Reflexively, I pressed my hands against my abdomen, as I finally managed to scream. I reached again for my baby, my head spinning. But the thing was too fast, and it drew away from me. Out of nowhere it pulled out a ruddy hat, rusty bells lining its brim. I heard that horrible ringing of those bells, and then it placed the hat on its head and disappeared. I heard the window open nearby, as something thick and invisible slid past the glass.
I wasn't thinking at all when I pulled out the IV. I quickly swung my legs over the side and stood up, almost collapsing from the dizziness. Then I made it half way to the open window before I fell, hitting the ground hard. The sound of a storm came into my ears, followed by the sound of some people entering the room. Their steps got closer and closer, though it seemed like it took minutes to reach me. The last thing I heard before I passed out was the doctor. And the last thing I saw was the florescent bulbs above me.
“I'm sorry,” he said. “Your baby is missing.”
The weeks that followed were a nightmare, full of complications and surgeries, condolences and horrible dreams. They said they think the baby's father took them, but they never were able to track him down. They tried several times to give me any information about the baby they had, including its gender. I didn't want to know though. I still don't want to know. That night ruined my mind, and I was not surprised when the doctors told me I could no longer bear children. Every day is another day, but I struggle just to wake up. They keep telling me I will recover, but I know it isn't true. Not so long as the sound of bells makes me want to scream.”
To this day the hereabouts of the father are unknown. It is believed that the trauma of the experience caused her to construct the image of the monster, though the fixation with the bells is a element that has been unable to be reasonably explained. The investigation into the abduction of the baby is still open, the reports and tips that continue to come in showing the love the community feels towards the mother. She has since returned to teaching, though during the holidays she sometimes will be unavailable for extended periods of time.