The baby was insatiable. From the beginning, the baby couldn’t get enough of Mama’s milk into her round baby belly. The child’s lips had swollen with the constant need for breast, and bottle. Something was strange about Baby Kashmir.

Sophie sat in the waiting room with the tiny bundle sucking away at her sore and hardened nipple. Those nipples had become like rocks. Can’t get blood from a stone, maybe, but the milk’s flowing steadily and sometimes it is tinged pink.

Time for a switch. It’s a trick she hadn’t quite yet mastered.

Kashmir’s lips pop from tit with a fart-y, suction sound. Only the little boy with his nose red from wiping and his cheeks green with sickness stared. Everyone else recognized that it’s impolite to ogle a mama feeding her babe.

Kashmir wailed until the new mammary mass found her lips.

Sophie rubbed the babe’s bulbous belly until the nurse called her name.

That belly is the main cause for worry, that and the hunger. The baby came out like a Buddha, gut enough for two or three babies.

The doctor laughed at her.


He then humored her by taking Kashmir’s blood. They’d know if there was an issue in a week, until then, look how big she’s getting!

The blood came back like a secret hidden in the wrath of a god, the proof was somewhere there, but hiding in plain sight.

“Maybe she’s just fat?” said Kai, husband and father.

He tickled under Kashmir’s chin as the chunky babe sucked on a bottle.

Sophie shook her head. Kai was always so quick to take the easiest route and never faced the issues straight on.

“Something’s strange. It isn’t normal. Listen, it’s like a well in there,” Sophie lifted the baby’s shirt and tapped on the hard belly. “Hear that?”

The baby sounded a little like a drum full of water.

Kai took Sophie’s pale hand in his and kissed her knuckles.

“There’s a word for this. Empty nest something. It’s making you see things that aren’t there. Kashmir’s just a great big baby!”

Sophie knew he was wrong but wished he were right.


Kashmir cried often in the six months since she’d been home, but this was different. The shriek that pierced the air wasn’t surprise, or hunger, or fear, or annoyance. It was pain.

Sophie leapt from bed. Kai followed close on her heels.

The door swung inward on the nursery with a brisk kick. Scared parents gazed through the veil over the crib. Baby Kashmir gripped the rails of her bed, her hands at her sides as she lied on her back.

“Arrrggguhhh!” the tiny baby made un-baby-like sounds. “Arrrggguhhh!”

“Kash!” Sophie screeched and rushed across to the brown bundle swaddled in white sheets below the veiled canopy.

Kashmir wore her I’m takin’ a dump face and Sophie saw the massive slope of belly nearly flatten in a rush. The white sheet was instantly drenched. The dampness crept up the cotton, seeking and destroying the dryness.

The baby began a normal every-baby wail.

Afraid of what she might see, Sophie held the blanket but couldn’t pull it back. Kai, unnoticing of issue looked at the wetness and laughed.

“Like a flood! The levy failed! Good baby!”

He grabbed the blanket and lifted to reveal a pink mess, a torn diaper and a cord stretching out to the bottom of the crib. He didn’t care to recognize it for what it was.

“Oh goodness, Kash ate some string.”

The man grabbed onto the cord and followed it down below the crib. Sophie backed to the door. It was insanity. She was losing it. Postpartum one thing or another. Had to be it, because that thing coming out of Kashmir looked just like an umbilical cord and that was impossible.

“It just keeps going!”

Kai crawled under the crib. The heavy oak box was a gift from a friend, handcrafted and weighing just less than two-hundred pounds.

“How the…?”

The bottom half of the crib fell onto Kai’s neck, crushing him.

Sophie’s fear washed away and she launched forward for her daughter. She grabbed the suddenly light little thing and felt the sticky amniotic fluids cling to her nightshirt. Kashmir continued to wail. The pain sounds returning.


Sophie backed up from the crib with her child pressed to her chest. Kai’s legs convulsed with death’s rattle.

A tiny figure rushed from the side of the dead man and into the shadows. Postpartum hallucination or not, she was scared and ran to the door.

As if snagged on a nail, she jerked her body once, twice and on the third yank, mucky sounding freedom. A purple placenta slung across the nursery and thwacked against the pale pink wall.

Sophie took off to her bedroom. She slammed the door and jumped into bed, cradling Kashmir tight. Murmuring into the crying baby’s scalp, “It’s ok. It’s ok. Shh. Please, Kash, ssh.”

Next to the bed, the red light on the telephone base lit. Sophie knew then that she’d imagined everything and Kai was on the phone. Likely with the hospital.

Sophie put a breast to Kashmir’s mouth and the baby sucked, silenced with a lactic reward. Wrought mother picked up the telephone and put it to her ear.

“I’m hungeee, Dada.”

“Your mama will feed you till I get there,” a smooth as jazz voice came over the line.

Sophie gasped.

“Hello Sophie.”

The baby voice said, “Hungeee, I’m coming for yeeew.”

Sophie threw the phone and covered a scream threatening to leap from her lips. She waited in the dark bedroom, Kashmir tight to her chest.

The bedroom door creaked open a few inches.

Sophie squeaked.

Little wet footfalls pattered on the hardwood.

“Mama, I’m so hungeee. Maaawmaaaw!”

“No, don’t, you’re…” Sophie began to tell the thing at the foot of the bed of its impossibility and then that voice on the line clicked.

The doctor, the one that helped her and Kai. His sperm or her egg, something didn’t spark, not until the doctor stuck that tube up between her legs and squirted in some magic beans. He laughed when she went back to talk with him after her general practitioner had congratulated her on finally conceiving.

The sheets at the end of the bed tightened as the little thing climbed. In the moonlight beyond the window, Sophie saw the shiny wet face floating beneath a tuft of hair. Little lips smiled.

“Meee sooo hungeee!”

The thing rushed forward between Sophie’s legs. It was fast, too fast for Sophie to wrench her body away, not with Kashmir latched, feeding.

The thing was on her and Sophie settled.

Hungeee, well, she could feed both. Feed it and then somehow get away from it.

In the blink it took to make this assumption, the thing grabbed onto Kashmir. Sophie felt the wet detachment and screamed. The thing wanted her baby!

Take mama or papa, but don’t you dare touch baby!

Sophie’s fingers wrapped around the skinny homunculus, slimy with familial goo. She found the umbilical cord and wrapped it around the neck.

It gargled against the fleshy rope.

Sophie latched onto its head as it tried to clamp its horrible baby teeth down on Kashmir.

“Gramma, no!” the reaction was of surprise and scorn amid the gasps and gargling.

Sophie felt her fingernail drive into the soft, baby-cooked skull. She wrenched on the slick umbilical cord.

Kashmir screamed and Sophie wondered if she screamed for her child.

The thing thrashed as Sophie felt its little brain under her fingers.

The thrashing stopped.

Kashmir cried.

Sophie panted.

She wiped her hands on the bedsheet and held her child. It was over. Kashmir found a nipple once again and Sophie leaned back.

It felt like no time at all, but the sun was up.


Not the sun.

The light was on overhead. Kashmir was a weighty hotbox on her chest, sleeping. The thing was gone, but the mess remained.

On the chair by the closet door, the chair she used to put on socks when she was pregnant because it had become nearly impossible, the specialist cried. He held a bloody bundle.

“You killed her,” he whispered.

“You monster, get out!” Sophie seethed.

The man sneered, rose and left with the bundle in his arms.

To Sophie’s surprise, she heard the front door close. It was truly all over.

Sophie kissed Kashmir’s head and two tears dropped to the baby’s scalp. In the hallway she saw shadows scurrying. From the corners of her eyes things jerked and approached.

She bent and kissed the tears away, her eyes closed, baby held tight.

It was over.

It was over so long as she never opened her eyes to the awful little things climbing on her bed.

“Sooo hungeee,” a hot little voice whispered into Sophie’s ear.

“Hungeee,” hissed another from between her legs.