When Hope Dies

By L.J. Kelley

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He’d been sawing on her abdomen like a sadistic carpenter for what seemed like hours.  As she lay on the table, motionless, afraid to move or make a sound, he dumped the acidic liquid over the bloody slash in her gut.  It would’ve scorched her pale, tender skin if she hadn’t gone numb from the waist down several hours ago.  What the hell was that?  Vinegar?   

She’d always been a conscientious person; treated people the way she’d want to be treated, got a college education, paid her taxes.  She would never understand what she had done to deserve this outcome.  As she’d busied herself with cleaning her apartment and finishing her dissertation on the failings of modern feminism in America earlier that afternoon, she had the feeling that someone was observing her.  Someone she couldn’t see, but who was definitely about to make himself known to her world.  This sixth sense had been with her since childhood and it was never wrong. 

The deadly blow to her belly came almost immediately after the aura; she never would have seen him coming, there had been no time.  As she called for help and tried to crawl across the room, it had all gone dark when her head hit the floor. 

Now, she was laying on this man’s table, completely and totally at his mercy.  She thought about her life until that point, and wondered if this was it—the end of the road.  If she did live through this, she’d never be psychologically whole again.  Of that, she was certain. 

All the work she had done in her graduate program, for naught.  All the endless nights spent reading, studying, beating it all into her brain so that she could legitimately compete with the others.  Nothing had been handed to her and she’d had to work harder than most to get to where she was.  How could all her efforts be undone so easily?  So senselessly?  She couldn’t even chalk this up to a meaningless blunder on her part; at least if it had been, she would have felt more in control.   

No, she’d asked for this with her lack of self-awareness, and for not understanding the real dangers of the situation.

She felt her innards churn and listened to the horrific sounds they made.  A massive pig, writhing in slop, she’d thought.  That’s what it sounds like. The man made a sudden pulling motion with both arms, physically and emotionally disemboweling her.  After a piercing scream, everything went black again.

She woke up after an undetermined amount of time.  The nurses were standing around her, glowing smiles on their faces. 

“Here he is,” they all said merrily.  “Your son.” 

She took him from their arms gingerly; her incision still pounded with every pulse.  He wanted to nurse, and she thought only of her research, her important work.  Now, it may never be finished.  As she gazed into his tiny face, the all-consuming indifference overtook her with electric rapidity. 


L.J. Kelley

Author’s Note: This is one of my favorite flash stories. I wrote this piece after my husband gave me a challenge to write a horror flash piece about pregnancy and/or motherhood. The topics addressed in this piece are not often discussed openly, and I felt it was long overdue.