The Belly of the Beast 

by Karen Schauber, 3.24am March 10th 2021

He slips his fingers into the belly of the girl. Bloody juices squelch and splatter as he rummages, plunging deeper and forcibly, yawning layers of epidermides—stratum basale, spinosum, granulosum, lucidum, and corneum wide open—looking for the source of his pain.
 
They are lined up one after the other, brunette, redhead, blonde, silver-haired, and are shuttled each in turn into the examining room; white, seedy, and carnivorous. Over the console table, next to the gurney, a single emboldened lightbulb illuminates a silver pan lined with S, L, H, C and HSS-shaped surgical instruments, and a thin spiral notebook. His notebook, filled with hand-drawn sketches of the occipital, temporal, parietal, and frontal lobes; cerebral cortex, cerebellum, hypothalamus, thalamus, pituitary and pineal glands; amygdala, hippocampus; and mid-brain.
 
He ratchets up, removing bits of grey matter here and there, from all but the blond girls, cataloguing some and others, not. It is the twins he is interested in. One is bent the other more bent. One is tall the other more tall. One has asthma the other suffocates. One can no longer bear children the other is left for dead. 
 
You sit in the waiting room, nervous for this appointment; your babies kicking and turning. The obstetrician called away on an emergency, a replacement is available you are told.
 
You stand when your name is called, but instead of following the nurse into the examining room, Doctor Mengele will see you now, you turn in the other direction cradling your swollen belly. The corridor is long and as you begin to run, it stretches, l-e-n-g-t-h-e-n-i-n-g so that you can no longer see or reach the exit. Yet you keep running -clamouring- as your water breaks; your twins almost out.