Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Hidden Costs of Kids

Four-year-old Sara woke in the middle of the night with intense stomach pains. When her parents got to her room, she was bent in half and holding her stomach. She was inconsolable as her parents rushed her to the emergency room.

The doctor examined Sara’s stomach carefully. He watched it swell and ripple under the skin. The only time he'd seen anything like it before was when he tripped over a dead animal with maggots under its skin when he was a kid.

"What is it?" Sara's mom asked.

"I'm not sure," he answered then ordered an ultrasound. The technician arrived with a portable ultrasound machine and ran the probe over Sara's stomach. He stared at the monitor with a stunned look.

“Doc, look at this,” he said.

"Has Sara eaten anything unusual recently?" the doctor asked as he watched the monitor.

"No, not that I'm aware of," her mother answered. "Why?"

"Look at the monitor," the doctor replied.

Sara's parents looked at the monitor. There were several small shrimp-like things swimming around her stomach.

"What is that?" her father asked as Sara's mother leaned in closer. Her face lit up as she realized what they were looking at.

"Sara did you eat the sea monkey kit?" she asked. Sara started to shake her head no then nodded her head.

"Oh Sara!" her mother gasped.

"Let's step outside," the doctor said. When they were in the hallway, he said, "I’m not sure what to do. They should not have survived in her stomach. The acid should have destroyed the eggs and they never should have hatched, much less be growing."

"We need to destroy them," Sara's father said.

"Doctor! Come quick!" the nurse called. They ran back into the room. Sara's stomach was expanding and she was puking from the pain.

"Mommy, it hurts!" Sara's mother held her daughter close.

"It is a long shot but maybe if we hit them with a massive dose of radiation we can destroy them in one hit," the doctor said.

"What’s the downside?"

"She might lose her hair and the usual side effects to getting radiation," the doctor answered.

Sara puked again and her cries cut through her father. "Do it," he said.

The doctor nodded his head then disappeared to set up the radiation treatment. The radiation therapy nurse arrived a short time later and wheeled Sara to the nuclear medicine center.

"Please wait here," the nurse said. Sara's mother and father kissed Sara. Her parents were weeping helplessly as Sara disappeared into the radiation room. As they waited, they paced back and forth. Five minutes turned to 10 minutes, which turned to 20 minutes.

Suddenly they heard Sara screaming then the sound of equipment being smashed in the treatment room. Sara's father ran to the door and bumped into the nurse as she staggered out of the room. Her head was bleeding profusely and she was holding her ribs.

She slammed the alarm on the wall outside the room and the hospital was filled with flashing red lights and warning sirens. Sara's father tried to push past the nurse but she fought against him. "You can’t go in there!” she said. “It's a monster!"

He stopped when he saw the huge sea monkey. It was thrashing around the room trying to detach from Sara's body. It emitted a high-pitch scream of frustration.

The waiting room filled with security guards and hospital other personnel.

“What’s the emergency?” Fred, one of the guards, asked. Before anyone could answer, the mutant sea monkey screamed again then slithered towards the door, dragging Sara’s body with it.

“Holy crap!” Fred said. He pulled his gun and started to shoot the monster.

“Don’t shoot my baby!” Sara’s mom yelled as the guard emptied his gun. The bullets didn’t phase the monster and it continued towards them.

“Everyone out! Now!” Fred said. “Bob, get everyone cleared out of here. John, give me your gun then call for back up.”

John handed Fred his gun then ran down the hall to use the phone and dialed 911. While he talked to the dispatcher, Fred emptied the gun’s bullets into the creature. It still kept coming towards him, though its screams of frustration were now from anger as the pain ticked it off.

“Bring heavy duty guns,” John told the dispatcher. “Our bullets aren’t slowing it down at all.”

Fred and John joined the group that had formed at the end of the hallway. “Get everyone outside,” Fred ordered as the sea monkey slithered towards them. The monster had grown and barely fit in the hallway. Its head smashed through the ceiling tiles and its appendages scraped along the walls.

The 10-member police department SWAT team arrived with submachine guns and shotguns. They formed a barrier between the monster and the main part of the hospital then opened fire on it. The sound of the weapons firing was deafening as it bounced off the walls and smoke filled the corridor.

When the smoke cleared, blood was splattered everywhere and the sea monkey was dead, its seven-foot long body riddled with dozens of bullet holes. The National Guard was called in to remove the monster. They used chain saws to cut it into movable pieces, which were dispatched to a secret military laboratory for examination.

Sara’s body was taken to the hospital morgue for an autopsy. The final report was inconclusive on how the mutant sea monkey had been able to live and grow in her stomach. A week later, they buried their daughter. When they got home from the cemetery, a process server was waiting for them—the hospital was suing them for damages.

After two hours of deliberation, the jury found them guilty. The judge ordered all their assets be sold then their salaries garnished until the debt was paid. The judge dismissed the courtroom. On the way back to his chambers he commented to the bailiff, “No one warns you about the hidden costs of having a kid.”

© June 3, 2011

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