Editor’s Note: This is a story set in my dystopian world that has banned abortion and contraception. It’s a really long story, so I broke it into two parts. This is part two. Read part one here.
Maddie turned her face away from Mrs. Frazier and stared at the wall. Maddie wasn’t really looking at anything, but she couldn’t bear looking at that bitch for one second more. How dare Mrs. Frazier tell Maddie what the fuck was for her own good? Maddie was a grown-ass woman who could make her own decisions. Maddie felt the being kick in her womb, and she fought to keep down the rising panic. She didn’t want this thing inside her, damn it, and it pissed her the fuck off that she couldn’t get rid of it. She remembered an ex-friend of hers admonishing her for complaining, saying it was her duty as a woman to have children and that said children were gifts from God. Maddie had stared at Sally, her friend, as if the latter had spoken in tongues. Never before had Sally espoused such beliefs, and Maddie couldn’t believe she had the fucking nerve to say it to her face. Maddie had cut off the friendship with no remorse, refusing to accept any calls from Sally after that.
That ill-fated decision had started Maddie’s downfall. Not two weeks after Maddie had cut off all ties with Sally did she get hauled into the nearest cop shop for thought interrogation. She had been kept for hours and was asked the same questions over and over again. Was she pregnant? Why wasn’t she happy about being pregnant? How did her husband feel about her being pregnant? What did she plan to do about it? She had answered their questions as honestly as she could – only lying about how her Darrell felt about her being pregnant. She told them that he was ecstatic about becoming a father and that he already had names picked out. She made a mental note to make sure Darrell knew this so he could answer similarly when he was questioned, if he was questioned at all. The cops rarely bothered to interrogate the husband in a case like this – they just assumed that the husband wanted the kid and it was the bitch wife who was trying to get rid of it.
The cops hadn’t hit her because it was law that no pregnant woman could be struck while in captivity, but they did everything else they could to make the experience as uncomfortable as possible. They did the good cop/bad cop thing, turned the heat up until Maddie was sweating profusely – she considered telling them that intense heat was bad for the baby, but she didn’t want to push her luck – and refused to give her anything to drink when she asked. She didn’t bother demanding an attorney because that right had been taken away in 2021, and she knew that asking would only make her more suspect in their eyes.
“Mrs. Macintosh, you have been overheard several times talking about not wanting to be pregnant. You know this is against the law, and no decent woman would feel that way in the first place. What do you have to say for yourself?” This was the white cop, the designated bad cop, asking her the same damn question for the fifth time. Maddie hated repeating herself, but she knew better than to protest. She also knew better than to correct him on her name. Though she was officially Mrs. Macintosh, she preferred to be called Ms. Wong.
“I never said I didn’t want to be pregnant,” Maddie said wearily, rubbing her belly for emphasis. “I had concerns that I wasn’t ready to be a mother, but there’s no law against that.” And there wasn’t. Maddie was an expert as to what was within the law and what was outside it when it came to her body and what she could say about it/do with it. She glared at the white cop, daring him to make an issue of it. The black cop, the good cop took over the questioning instead after exchanging glances with his partner.
“Now, Mrs. Macintosh, we know it’s difficult for some young women to come to terms with the fact that they’re about to become mothers. We’re not here to judge you on your misgivings about your impending motherhood. However—”
“Bullshit.” Maddie dearly wished she could snatch back the word as soon as it left her mouth, but her anger wouldn’t let her keep quiet. “How can either of you know what it’s like to be pregnant? You’re men.” Oh fuck. She’d done it now. It was not against the law to point out gender differences, but it was heavily frowned upon. She could tell by the scowls on both the cops’ faces that she had put herself in a very tenuous situation. She swallowed her ire and her pride before backpedaling as best she could. “I’m very sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I know that both of you are good men who only care about what’s best for society. It’s just, you know, I’m so scared.” Maddie had burst into loud, fakey sobs as she buried her face in her hands to cover up the fact that she wasn’t actually crying. A quick peek through her fingers showed her that not only had the cops bought what she’d said, they were looking at her in concern. Men were so stupid when it came to women and crying.
“Please don’t cry, Mrs. Macintosh.” The black cop reached over and patted Maddie on the shoulder. She involuntarily twitched said shoulder, but the cop didn’t seem to notice. “We know it’s hard, but just think how happy your husband will be when you bear him a child.” Maddie swallowed her retort that her husband was only happy when she was happy because she sensed she was close to getting out of dodge, and she didn’t want to fuck it up.
“You’re right, Officer,” Maddie said, her voice muffled by her hands, which were still covering her face. “I have been selfish only thinking about myself. I know Darryl is so looking forward to the birth of our child – that makes me feel so much better.” Maddie took another quick look, fearing she had laid it on too thick. To her relief, mixed with a healthy dose of disgust, both cops accepted her statement at face value.
“You just keep thinking about your husband, Mrs. Macintosh,” the white cop said, nodding his head in emphasis. Maddie hadn’t caught either of their names, nor did she care. She just wanted to get the fuck out of there before she got herself in deeper shit. “Right. We have to put this on your record, but if you can make it through the rest of your pregnancy without another incident, it’ll be expunged.”
“Thank you, Officers. I really appreciate it.” Maddie felt as if she had shoved a hot poker in her gut as she spoke, but she accepted it as it got her out of the cop shop. The minute she got home, she had told Darryl where she had been and what had happened. He was outraged on her behalf, and he fumed helplessly about what he should have done.
“Fuck, babe. I wish I’d known. I should have been there with you! I would have –”
“Done nothing.” Maddie snapped at Darryl, her nerves completely shot. “You know it would have been worse if you’d stormed Gitmo and stood up for me. You would have been seen as betraying the brotherhood.” To betray the brotherhood was the worst sins any man could commit. Maddie couldn’t bear to think about how Darryl would be treated if he was seen as a feminist-sympathizer.
“I don’t care, Maddie. I would do anything for you – you know that!” Darryl’s emerald green eyes sparkled with rage as he stared defiantly at Maddie. She stared at him, her heart full of love. No man had ever cherished her as much as her Darryl did, and she was thankful to whomever that she was lucky enough to be his wife.
“Let’s not argue, hon,” Maddie said huskily, reaching her hand out to Darryl. “The one good thing about me being pregnant is that we can have sex whenever we want. I want.” Darryl grabbed Maddie’s hand and pulled her to him, crushing her lips with his. Without saying another word, he scooped her into his arms and carried her up to bed. They spent the next several hours enjoying connubial bliss. Both of them were utterly spent by the time they were done – Maddie had lost count of her orgasms after seven.
“Hon, it wouldn’t be terrible if we had a kid,” Darryl said softly, his hands playing with Maddie’s sweaty hair that was flopping over her breast. “I think we would be good parents.”
“I don’t want to be a mother,” Maddie said flatly, pushing Darryl’s hand away. “I thought we settled this before we got married.” Maddie rolled away from Darryl, her eyes filling with tears. He had been so understanding when she had poured out her heart as to why she hadn’t wanted to be a mother – had it all been a ruse to get in her pants?
“Maddie, look at me.” Darryl rolled Maddie back so she was facing him. She refused to look him in the eyes, however, as he kept talking. “I know you never wanted kids. I’m ambivalent about it myself, but what other option do we have at this point?” Maddie wanted to hold on to her mad, but she knew Darryl was only speaking the truth. With a sigh, she looked up at her husband, only to find him staring back at her in concern. She tried to think of something to say that would placate him, but she couldn’t stem the panic that was suffocating her enough to explain.
“I can’t, Darryl. I just can’t.” It was all Maddie could say without falling apart.
“OK, hon. Then we’ll have to find a way out of it.” Darryl gathered Maddie to him and hugged her tightly. Maddie wept in relief that she had at least one ally upon whom she could count without reservation.
“Let’s read more from the Bible, shall we?” Mrs. Frazier’s voice brought Maddie back to the present once again. Maddie restrained herself from sighing, but just barely. She nodded with what she hoped was an appropriately acquiescent look on her face. Mrs. Frazier flipped to Proverbs 31: 10 and began reading about how to be a virtuous woman. Maddie zoned out knowing she’d be able to pass a pop quiz on this particular passage with her eyes closed.
She glanced down at her body tethered to her own damn bed, spread-eagle, and for the first time in her life, she was glad her mother had died last year. It would have broken Mrs. Wong’s heart to see Maddie trussed up like this –or worse, it would have driven Mrs. Wong to do something drastic. Speaking of drastic, Maddie wondered what Darryl was doing right now. She knew the cops had probably questioned him after they had broken into the house and found her body – she still didn’t know how they had known, nor did she particularly care; she was just damn glad she had planned it for when Darryl was out of the house so he’d had plausible deniability – but she was pretty sure they wouldn’t have kept him in lockup overnight. Darryl knew the drill when it came to being questioned by the police; he had probably spent the night at his parents’ house, sleepless and out of his mind with worry for her.
Maddie’s brain churned as she thought about her predicament. If she were going to do something about her situation, she had to be untethered, obviously. She had a hunch that getting Mrs. Frazier to untie her would be nearly impossible, so her only hope was to convince Mrs. Frazier to let her see Darryl for their requisite hour and to leave them alone. Oh, sure, that should be a snap, Maddie thought sarcastically. Mrs. Frazier had no reason to trust her, so Maddie would have to find a way to connect with her on a woman-to-woman basis. Maddie thought about the interactions she’d had with Mrs. Frazier up until this point as well as what they had said to each other this…morning? Afternoon? This day. Maddie thought about the verses Mrs. Frazier had chosen and about the very reason the two of them were stuck together in the first place. With a slight nod, Maddie chose her method of attack. She waited until Mrs. Frazier had finished reading the damned Bible passage before lobbing her opening salvo.
“That passage always hits me hard,” Maddie said, her voice studied. “It reminds me that no matter how hard I try, I can never be a truly virtuous woman.”
“It can be hard to face one’s shortcomings, indeed, Magdalene. The only thing I can say in comfort is that if you apply yourself, you can be more and more like the truly virtuous woman with each effort.” Mrs. Frazier nodded wisely at Maddie, who managed to keep her face neutral. “I, myself, struggle with my temper from time to time. It’s only with the grace of God that I have been able to mostly tame it.”
“My favorite verses are eleven and twelve. ‘The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.’.” Maddie paused to gauge the effect she was having on her audience – from the way Mrs. Frazier was nodding in approval, Maddie was pretty certain she had chosen the right path. She softened her voice as she added, “I really miss my husband. He is my anchor and my rock. I feel so lost without him.”
“I know how you feel, dear.” Mrs. Frazier patted Maddie’s hand, her face a picture of sympathy. “When I have to be separated from my Joshua for any length of time, I always feel so weak and helpless.”
“I’m having such trouble accepting this pregnancy. It would really help to see Darryl for our hour.” Maddie knew it was a calculated risk to bring up her pregnancy, but it was a risk she had to take. There was no other reason strong enough for her to be asking for Darryl, and she highly doubted Mrs. Frazier would approve if Maddie said she needed to see her husband so she could fuck him silly.
“I don’t know, Magdalene,” Mrs. Frazier said, her voice stiffening slightly. “It’s my duty to watch over you, and I take it very seriously.”
“Please, Mrs. Frazier. I need my Darryl. One hour. Pretty please?” Maddie was not above groveling if it would get her what she wanted – what she needed. She made her face as penitent and frightened as possible, and she must have done a good job because after a long pause, Mrs. Frazier nodded her head once.
“I will call Mr. Macintosh and let him know that he can have his hour with you.” Mrs. Frazier stood up, grabbed her purse, and headed for the door. Before leaving, however, she paused, turned, and said in a hard voice, “This is the second strike against you. Remember what happens if you get a third.”
“I remember,” Maddie said in a small voice. Mrs. Frazier stared at Maddie before exiting the room. Maddie thought about what would happen if she received her third strike – she would be confined to an 8’ by 8’ cell, tied to the bed and not set free until after she gave birth. Once she had expelled her spawn, she would be fed one last meal and then injected with a lethal amount of horse barbiturates until her heart exploded. This law had been enacted by President Christie in 2028 when he was accused by the Theocrati of not being zealot enough in his persecution of harlots, trollops, and whores – otherwise known as women who didn’t want to procreate.
Maddie exhaled, her mind racing. She had an idea of what she could do, and she had to make sure her plan was airtight before Darryl came to visit her. According to law, she was allowed one hour with Darryl with no one in the house. One hour. Would it be enough time? It would have to be. She heard a rustling outside her door and arranged her face quickly into a bland visage.
“I reached your husband, and he’s looking forward to seeing you.” Mrs. Frazier smiled benevolently down at Maddie and stopped, clearly waiting for a reply. Maddie bit back a sarcastic retort and said, “Thank you, Mrs. Frazier. I really appreciate you calling Darryl for me. I miss him so much.” A sob caught in Maddie’s throat, and she didn’t even have to fake it; she missed Darryl with a ferocity that frightened her.
“Why don’t we read more of the Bible while we wait for him, Magdalene?” Without waiting for a response, Mrs. Frazier sat in the chair by the bed, opened her Bible and began to read Deuteronomy 17. This was another familiar passage to Maddie, so she allowed her brain to return to her plan. She poked at it from every angle, seeing if she could find any holes in it. To her satisfaction, she found none. She snapped back to the present when she heard Mrs. Frazier raise her voice. “…verse 12?”
“It talks about the importance of following God’s law and saying that anyone who doesn’t shall be put to death.” Maggie didn’t need to hear the question to know what she’d been asked. She refrained from rolling her eyes, but just barely – talk about your obvious choice of Bible verses. Why was it that any time the Ameritaliban wanted to make a point, they chose the same damn passages time and time again?
“I’ll go see if Mr. Macintosh is here yet.” Mrs. Frazier rose from her chair, her mouth pursed in disapproval. Maddie had no idea why Mrs. Frazier was upset with her, but she had a hunch it was because she had been able to answer Mrs. Frazier’s question, thus depriving Mrs. Frazier the joy of feeling superior to Maddie.
Maddie closed her eyes, suddenly overwhelmed with exhaustion. It seemed as if she’d been looking over her shoulder all her life, always fearing that one day, she would be deemed not salvageable and tossed in Permanent Isolation. She was so fucking tired of being afraid and enraged all the time. Tears leaked out from under her eyelids as she thought about all the times she’d been hauled into the police for infractions big and small, the countless hours she had wasted covering her tracks whenever she researched a forbidden topic, or how hard she had tried to get rid of the alien thing growing inside her – to no avail. She opened her eyes when she heard the thud of the door opening.
“Maddie! Oh my god. What the fuck have they done to you?” Darryl rushed into the arm, tears streaming down his cheeks. He stopped and stared at Maddie in horror, unable to grasp what he was seeing.
“I’m OK, Darryl. Really, baby. Sh, sh, sh, don’t cry.” Maddie tried to smile at her husband, but her smile crumbled at the corners. “You know they had to tie me down after what I did to myself. It’s the law.”
“Fuck the law!” Darryl ran to the bed and started fumbling with the restraints. “They have no fucking right to tie you up as if you were a feral animal.”
“They have every right, and you know it, Darryl.” Maddie’s voice was quiet as she watched Darryl struggle with the buckles on her wrist restraints.
“Once I untie you, we’re going to get the hell out of here where no one can find us!” Darryl was still crying, which was impeding his ability to untie Maddie, and she loved him even more for it. She didn’t bother reminding him that there was nowhere for them to go because she needed him to set her free if she were to set her plan in motion. She smiled fondly at Darryl as he continued talking about the life they would have together, just the two of them, once they fled to Canada or Mexico. Her heart filled with tenderness for the man who was willing to throw away everything he had in order to be with her. He finally managed to untie her wrists and tackled her ankle restraints. Maddie glanced at the clock on the bedside table and saw that only five minutes had passed. She sighed in relief because she had been sure she’d already lost at least ten minutes of her precious hour.
“Maybe I’ll be a Mounted Police. I know how to ride a horse, and I look pretty damn good in a uniform, if I do say so myself.” Darryl continued spinning his fantasy of their future as he released first one ankle then the other. Five more precious minutes lost. Maddie took a deep breath and put her plan into motion.
“Darryl, I need to pee before we leave, but I’m too weak to walk. Carry me?” Maddie held out her arms, and Darryl went to the head of the bed and hugged her as best he could.
“Of course, honey.” Darryl kissed Maddie hard on the lip before swinging her into his arms. As Darryl was lifting her to his chest, Maddie reached over and grabbed the lamp that was sitting on the nightstand. She grasped it with both hands and brought it down on Darryl’s head almost as hard as she could. He dropped like a brick, and fortunately for Maddie, she landed on the bed with a thump. She scrambled off the bed, ignoring the pain between her legs the best she could, and kissed Darryl on the lips. One tenet of the Three Strike Law was that any accomplice caught was also summarily executed, and there was no way in hell Maddie would allow that to happen to Darryl. Without her, he could find a woman who wanted kids, settle down, and live a normal life.
“I love you, Darryl.” Maddie kissed him again before limping to the window near the bed, nearly falling as her legs wobbled beneath her. She opened the window as wide as possible before going into her bathroom. She grabbed the bottle of sleeping pills from the medicine cabinet and hurried downstairs as fast as her aching thighs would allow. She went into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water and a roll of duct tape before making her way to the garage. She glanced at the clock in the front hallway on her way out – 15 minutes gone.
Once in the garage, Maddie attached the hose to her tailpipe, taping it in place, and snaked it through the front window of her Prius. She started the car and rolled up the window as far as she could. She downed a handful of the pills along with three gulps of water before attacking the problem of sealing the windows shut – more duct tape. Once she finished, she slumped down in the driver’s seat, every ounce of energy spent. She closed her eyes as the pills started to kick in. With a slight smile on her face, she fell into her final sleep.