I empty my bag of all its contents, the usual assortment of junk, deodorant, notebooks, lolly wrappers, toothpicks, earphones. I place it on the bed and look inside… Nothing but a few crumbs.
Over the past week, my bag has been getting steadily heavier, and curiosity has finally got the better of me. I thought maybe I'd forgotten about something, a lunchbox, or something I bought, but the search has revealed nothing anomalous.
I notice movement in the lining. Clunky solid movement. I jump back as the bag falls onto itself, I watch as it ripples slightly on the bed. I can feel my heartbeat. Adrenaline kicks.
I slowly approach, waiting for it to move again. I peer into the bag once more. There is a solid mass *inside* the lining, between the interior compartment and the outer waterproof layer. I prod it with my finger and watch stunned, as the lining illuminates bright red. It is something... alive. I grab some scissors and carefully cut a hole. Like a burst dam, thick red liquid pours from the hole, with a sudden ripping sound the lining gives way, and a half-formed humanoid foetus spits itself into the bottom of the backpack. It smells horrendous. It lays wriggling blindly. The thick red liquid continues to pour from the lining, threatening to drown the creature in the bottom of my backpack. Instinctively, I reach in and lift the creature to safety.
Holding it by its feet gives me a chance to scrutinise it. The creature isn’t fully formed, its eyes roll without focus. Its hands, or what I think are its hands, are flailing trying to find purchase. Its chest glows red, and on closer inspection I see a heart beating wildly in its bosom, radiating a dim light.
The creature puffs up, the first breath in. Its heart a bright glow now, the filled lungs shroud the light and form dancing shadows on the bedroom walls. With a considerable effort, the creature shoots a solid mass from its throat as it exhales forcefully. With its air passage clear it makes a sound. It's a tiny beautiful sound, the first breath, a gasp then release.
It looks into my eyes. I want to look away but I can’t. It smiles, its teeth are razor sharp needles crisscrossing at the front of its jaw. It makes another helpless little sound. I realise I am still holding it upside down. I reach out to support its head trying to give it some stability. I lower it into my arms. The creature calms considerably. I hold it in my arms letting my warmth provide comfort. I look at its foul mouth, its needle teeth are bared, and its malformed lips seem to smile at me.
I feel myself smile back. I find a hoodie on the bedroom floor and wrap the creature tightly. Its breath regulated, swaddled and warm, the creature falls asleep. I can't help but feel like I've done something good as I sit and I listen to the tiny sleepy snorts of my new friend.
My phone rings, the answering machine kicks in. “Hi! You’ve reached Toby. I can’t make it to the phone right now. I’m probably out partying. You know what to do…. Beep”
It was Jessica.
“Um. Toby. I can’t do this anymore. You can’t commit to anything. I can’t wait around forever. Don’t try and call. I’ll screen.” Click.
Shit. I look down at the monster in my arms. Can’t commit huh? I’ll show her.