Written by: Personalias
Chapter 5: Baby Blues
Dead. Limbo. One-minute short of eternal hellfire and brimstone. Instead he was sentenced to an eternal existence as an overgrown infant. All because he had died just one minute short of his 18th birthday. Sixty more seconds, and he would have gone to the Lake of Fire. That one realization made everything hit home for Dante. He was dead. He was in Limbo. He was stuck in a giant daycare center filled with other people who had died without a baptism. And the only options presented him were to either go insane and become a drooling idiot, or go with the flow and accept the treatment.
Fear welled up inside of Dante. He fell over onto his side and curled up in the fetal position. He stared straight ahead at the mesh walls of his new prison.
“Dante?”, Lysa said. “Dante? You there, kid? Helloooo?” Dante just ignored her. His soggy diaper was starting to cool, too; his hairless crotch starting to chafe and itch. He ignored that too. “Criminey, kid, don’t do this now! You just got here! Snap out of it, already!” Fuck her. Stupid blonde-headed -dead- bitch. He had problems of his own.
Apparently, finding out that he had had a near Hell experience was a more traumatizing experience than an actual death experience. A big baby experience didn’t even compare. Mrs. Applegate had remarked once that “No one dies an atheist.” Even atheists feared Hell on some level. It was better to rot in the ground than to be tortured till the end of time.
He would have gone to Hell if he had died one minute later. It just wouldn’t get out of his head. It wasn’t fair. He had been a pretty good kid all his life. Not great, but pretty good. He got mostly A’s in school. He had never hit anyone, save in self defense, and generally listened to his parents. But all because his parents decided not to have some old child-molester drip water on his forehead when he was a baby, he was now stuck as a baby forever? That wasn’t right! That wasn’t fair! His vision got blurry as tears trickled down from his eyes.
No. What REALLY wasn’t fair, was the fact that he was dead to begin with. He was supposed to be planning for college, not dead! He had had his whole life ahead of him. He wasn’t supposed to worry about what happened when he died, that was what people did when they got old. Who knows, given enough time, maybe he would have gotten religious and been baptized and all that other stuff after he grew up. But now he was never going to grow up, in any sense of the word.
Dante murmured something under his breath.
“What was that, kid?” Lysa asked, leaning in closer to him.
“I said WHY DIDN’T THEY LEAVE MY SHOES ON?!” Dante roared. Lysa fell back and started shimmying away as Dante screamed at the top of his lungs. He could feel his face turning red and snot start pouring out his nose, but he didn’t care. Fear had given way to anger. The feeling of the hot tears streaming down his face only increased his anger. He was transmuting his embarrassment into rage.
“WHY DIDN’T THEY LEAVE MY SHOES ON?! WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T THEY DRAW ON MY FACE! IF THEY HAD BEEN PLAYING A JOKE ON ME WHEN IT HAPPENED I WOULDN’T HAVE DIED! WHY…gasp….DIDN’T….gasp….THEY…gasp…DRAW…gasp…ON…gasp…MY FAAAACE?!” Dante was lost to words at this point. He didn’t have any left.
He started punching the floor of the playpen as hard as he could, right in the middle of it. He kept striking and striking. He wouldn’t stop until he had either punched a hole in the floor or until his knuckles broke. Midori and Lysa looked on from opposite sides of the pen. Both had a look of shock and fear on their face.
On his sixth or seventh swing, Dante lost his balance and ended up sprawled on his stomach. Even his coordination was going because of that stupid milk. Too angry to bother to get up, Dante started pounding his palms on the floor and kicking his legs in a good old fashioned temper tantrum. Real mature. Not that it mattered, anymore.
He quickly found himself being picked up and held by the Judy. She used one arm to support his bum, and stroked his back with the other arm in an attempt to soothe the bawling baby teen. She bobbed up and down a little to try and cheer him up. He buried his face in her shoulder, sobbing, but was too tired right then to make any audible sound. He rubbed his nose on her scrubs. Didn’t matter anyways, it’s not like his mucus would stick to her.
“Awww, Dante, wussamatta, baby?” the angel cooed. Get real. She was his problem. Her and everything about this day was his problem. Her free hand left his back and he felt two fingers sticking into the leggings of his diaper. “Uh-ooooooh!” the Judy proclaimed with sing-song concern. “I know what’s wroooong. SOMEONE had an accident. Off-we-go-for-a-change.” She exited the playpen with Dante in tow.
There were so many things wrong with those last few remarks. “Uh oh?” As if she hadn’t expected to find him wet? She wouldn’t have checked him if she hadn’t expected it. “Someone” had an accident? As if Dante didn’t know that the Judy had been referring to him? Like she was going to stick her fingers in his diaper and then tell him that some other baby was wet? No, some other…aww skip it. Oh, and finally, why was it called an “accident”? THIS was no accident. They had intended for THIS to happen. From the very moment that they had strapped this wretched thing on his waist, THIS was the end-goal that they had had in mind. There was nothing “accidental” about the current situation at all.
Dante shut his eyes as he was being carried over to the changing table. He was so pissed he didn’t want to even look at himself. He felt himself being lowered onto the soft padding of the changing table. He immediately became aware that he couldn’t really move. He kept his eyes shut all the same.
“Here you go, sweetie” the Judy said. Dante felt a rubber teat brush his lips. He opened his mouth and accepted it. He needed some time without ambition or inhibition for a while. Screw Lysa and her pretentious know-it-all attitude and rules about enduring this crazy existence. Dante needed some kind of relief.
Dante sucked as hard as he could, waiting to accept the creamy milk. Except none came. Great, they had given him a pacifier! Now he had to go through this whole thing sober. These angels or whatever they were had to realize that their wards weren‘t really babies. They were too sadistic to be that dumb. Oh well, at least he had something to bite on.
Dante refused to open his eyes even as he felt nimble hands unbuttoning his snaps. He would not watch this. He would not look for Lysa, who was no doubt silently judging him for his breakdown. Even though he could squeeze his eyes shut, Dante’s other senses were still at the mercy of his caregiver.
He felt the buttons being unsnapped, and his onesie becoming more like a shirt as it was shimmied up his hips past his stomach to his chest. He heard the scritch-scratch of Velcro as the tapes of his diaper were ripped loose. He felt the breeze as his moistened privates were exposed to open air, and smelled stale urine mixed in with the perfume of the soiled garment. He winced slightly as baby wipes were dragged across his cock and balls. He felt his legs lifted into the air and his rump got a similar treatment. He felt warmth and comfort as he was lowered down onto fresh padding.
He let out a brief sigh. Almost over. He grit his teeth- biting onto the pacifier- trying his best not to enjoy the feeling (and doing a pretty good job at it) as the new diaper became taped on and snug. Still filled to the brim with righteous fury, Dante was determined to not let the Judy have the satisfaction of thinking she had solved his problem.
What Dante had failed to account for, was the Judy deciding to blow a raspberry on his tummy.
PBBFFLLIITT! PBBFFLLIITT! PBBFFLLIITT!
A most rude noise interrupted Dante’s loathing, and a jolt shot through his spine as the angel‘s lips and hot air flapped and vibrated on his stomach. If the spankings were like EMP’s to his nervous system, then the tummy blowing was electro shock therapy targeting his pleasure centers. He squealed and squirmed as Mama Judy tickled him and said the nicest things to him, even if he couldn’t understand them all. This was the most wonderful feeling in the world!
“Who’s all nice and dry?!” the Judy cooed in motherese. “Who’s all nice and dry?! Yyyou are! Yyyou are! Theeeeere‘s a happy boy. Theeeeere‘s a happy boy!” Everything seemed brighter and better; even the decorative cherubs on his waste seemed to be smiling more. The tickling subsided and Judy started buttoning Dante’s blue onesie back up.
“Can’t have too much tickling, or Mama Judy’s gonna have to change you all over again. Isn’t that right, Dante? Isn‘t that right?”
Dante’s laughter died down, and the rational part of his mind hopped back in the driver‘s seat. In the back of his brain, Dante realized that the Judy’s wouldn’t even let him be miserable on his own terms. That’s how much sway they had over him, now. That’s how little control he really had. He wasn’t even allowed to be angry unless they allowed it.
The Judy toted him back to the playpen and set him down. Then she picked up Midori and announced Midori’s forthcoming change to all as she stepped out with the simple-minded girl. Why was it supposed to be private and discreet when a grown person relieved themselves, but was breaking news when a baby did it?
Dante didn’t bother to look at Lysa. He braced himself for a cacophony of “What did I just tell you NOT to do’s?” from Lysa. She would be unsympathetic. She’d survived this treatment for decades. It hadn’t yet been half a day, and Dante was sure he was already half way to breaking completely.
“You okay, Dante?” she asked? You okay, Dante?! Was this a setup?
“Yeah, sorry I freaked out.” he replied. Here it came.
“It’s alright.” she said. “Happens to all of us sometimes. It’s just that, usually, it’s not till couple days in this place that the initial grief sets in.” She said “us”. Maybe super-shrew was a real person after all. Maybe she was worth confiding in outside of pumping for information.
“Yeah…sorry,” Dante sniffed. “I kind of had a breakdown, there didn’t I?” Lysa was kind enough right then not to agree. He took a deep breath. “When they brought me here, I heard them say that if I was one minute later, I wouldn‘t be allowed in here.”
Lysa clapped her hand over mouth. Her eyes widened with recognition. “Oh my” she sputtered, “you mean…?” Dante could only nod. He was already all cried out. Lysa crawled over and hoisted her self onto her knees. She held her arms open, inviting him for a hug. Despite his ego, he shuffled toward her and accepted it.
She squeezed him, tightly. He squeezed her right back. No back rubbing, nose wiping, bouncing, cooing, or cuddling. This is what a hug should be like: Two people just holding each other, equals if only for the moment. The moment didn’t last though. A third set of arms joined the hug, and Dante found himself on the receiving in of another sloppy drool covered kiss. The Judy looked on from outside the playpen, having already placed Midori back inside. The angel just stood there, mesmerized by the cuteness of three children playing nicely together in a big group cuddle.
“Love you too, Dori,” Lysa said, sounding only slightly exasperated. “Now go play.” Midori complied.
“Thank you.” Dante whispered, still embracing Lysa.
“Welcome,” she whispered back. They released and looked at each other for what seemed like a while. Remembering the conversation that the two Judy‘s had had rocked him to his very core. Why would they even tell him that? Why would they even bother to say that in front of him?
The wheels in Dante’s head started turning. His eyes glazed over as he searched inward. The Judy’s treated everyone here like babies, no matter what. That meant talking over them like they didn’t understand what was being said.
BEEN HERE SINCE 11:59 PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME.
IT’S THE 18TH NO NEW ARRIVALS TILL NEXT YEAR.
Doors labeled 0101A, 0102A, all the way down to 1017AB and beyond.
“Sorry if the hug was uncomfortable.” Lysa broke the silence. “Being a baby for so long kind of destroys your sense of having personal space. It‘s something you just have to get used to.”
Dante smiled. He felt a small thrill surge through him. He was inches away from crashing his car into his parents garage. “Not necessarily.” Lysa shook her head, sadly. She cupped Dante’s face in her hands.
“Kid, I’ve already told you:” nothing but pity showed in her eyes. “There’s no getting out of here. There’s no winning because we’ve already lost. We‘re here because of a higher power.” Dante looked over to see if the Judy was still watching. She wasn’t.
“If this power is so high,” Dante asked, “why is it that they have limits?” Now it was Lysa’s turn to be truly dumbstruck. She dropped her hands down to her side, and stared in bewilderment.
“Lived on the East Coast before you died, didn‘t you?” he remarked, more of a statement than an actual question. Lysa didn’t correct him. “I bet everyone here lived in an Eastern Time Zone, too. That‘s why the exact time of my death was important.”
“And,” he went on, “you died on October 17th, same as me. “That‘s why the door to this nursery was 1017.” Dante could almost taste her disbelief. “Aaaand,” Dante built up steam, “there’s only so many babies that can be held here. That’s why they have 1017A, 1017B, and so on. Then they have to make room for a new nursery. Tell me I’m wrong!” She wouldn’t be able to.
“I don’t think I can,” Lysa said. Knew it! “But what’s your point? What does knowing all this prove?”
“It proves that they’re not all powerful or omnipotent. If they were, every kid that ever died would be in this place. They wouldn’t need a filing system or separate nurseries! They have limits here. And if they have limits, that means”
“I don’t like where this is going, kid”, Lysa quavered. “This has bad idea all over it, and it’s still just your first day.”
“Oh, I’m not getting out today.” Dante practically shouted, his blood pumping. “It’ll take a while, obviously. But it’s possible. There’s still hope!” Lysa rolled her eyes and smacked her own forehead.
“Now what did I specifically tell you NOT to do?”, she said. “Are you a slow learner or something? Hope is a poison here. Too much hope, and you‘ll go insane with despair when it doesn‘t pan out. Or worse.”
“What could be worse than ending up like, her?” Dante said gesturing towards Midori. Midori smiled, only knowing that she was being talked about.
“What’s worse?“ Lysa said indignantly, “What’s worse?! Let’s go someplace, and I’ll show you what too much hope can do to you. Mama Judyyyyy!” she called out.
To be Continued.
Chapter 6: Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.
Lysa called out to the Judy, who came walking over to the side of the playpen. “What is it sweetie?” the angel asked, tilting her head in question.
“Take me to see Caroline.”, Lysa demanded.
“What was that?”, the Judy asked, “You wanna go see Caroline?” The Judy put her hand to her chin. “Welll, I don’t knooooow.”
Lysa puffed her bottom lip out, and made puppy dog eyes at the angel in the nursery scrubs. “Pweeeeeaase.” Lysa begged and threw in some baby gibberish for good measure. Dante felt a little sick. This was almost too cutesie to stand.
Well, alright,” the Judy relented. “You’ve been a very good girl today, so I don’t see the harm in visiting your little sister.” Little sister? That would mean that Lysa and her little sister had died on the same day. Still, how was meeting a younger kid stuck in this place supposed to dissuade Dante from planning an escape.
The Judy walked away and disappeared from sight as she rounded a cubicle wall. Dante, looked over at Lysa. What was she trying to prove, anyway?
“So why do you want me to see your sister?”, Dante asked. No argument against escape was going to convince him otherwise at this point. Now that he was already figuring out how Limbo worked, it was only a matter of time before he hatched a brilliant escape plan and got out. It might take him a year or two, maybe even longer….but he was effectively immortal. So as long as he didn’t break like Midori had, he had all the time in the world.
“Just shut up until we get there, okay? Then I’ll show you. Deal?, she said.
“Why don’t you want to escape?”, Dante asked, ignoring the question.
“Why do you want to escape already?” Lysa shot back, “Even the weakest wills take months to fully regress in this place. You’re in no immediate danger. Besides,” she added, “where would you go? Hell, yeah, that’s a good option. And it’s not like Heaven will take you.”
“I could always go back to Earth.”, Dante answered, “that’s an option, right? Where else do ghosts come from? Better to walk the land of the living forever than to crawl the land of the dead.”
“Dumbass,” Lysa scolded, “You have to have unfinished business to go back to Earth.”
“I had my whole life ahead of me, so I have LOTS of unfinished business.”, Dante retorted.
“People like us don’t go back to Earth.,” she countered, “You ever heard of the diapered ghost? I didn‘t think so.” Her nostrils flared and she was starting to huff and puff. It looked like it was about her turn to have a temper tantrum. Time for a little diplomacy.
“Look,” Dante said, holding up his hands, “I’m seriously not trying to make you mad, and I’m a little confused as to why you’re so pissed off about this. I mean, worse case scenario: my escape fails, I get spanked, go limp, and get put in time out or fed a bottle. I’d just have to improve my plan and try again. Right?”
The Judy walked back in, pushing a giant two person stroller and wearing a rather large baby carrier backpack. The stroller was colored pink on one side and baby blue on the other. It was pushed up to the edge. “Time for a trip, guys!”, the Judy announced.
Lysa seemed to gain control of her temper. “Look,” she said through gritted teeth “just get in the stroller, and let me do the talking, alright? If you’re still not convinced to give up on an escape plan, I’ll even help you plan it, okay? This seemed reasonable enough, so Dante agreed.
Lysa reached out to the Judy as if to say “UP!”, and the nursery worker obliged, easily lifting the baby-teen into the air and placing her gently into the pink side of the stroller before strapping her in with a three point harness.
Dante copied her and sailed through the air before he was gently plopped beside her, a three point harness quickly strapping him down. He really couldn’t move his upper body much, though he could still move his head freely. His feet rested comfortably on a bar. The harness pressed against his diaper slightly, making him all the more aware of it, but all and all, it felt a little bit like a roller coaster harness.
Heh. Neat. They were going somewhere. That meant Dante could get a better idea of the layout of this place. All the better to coordinate his exodus. A few minutes of cajoling later, Midori was riding on the Judy’s back in the baby carrier. The Judy for her part, didn’t grunt, groan or complain. The three of them might as well have been rag dolls as far as she was concerned. “Off we go,” she announced, and Dante and Lysa went gliding along the bluish grey indoor/outdoor carpet and out the of the giant cubicle that marked off their area.
As soon as they walked out of the play pen area, the whole of Limbo Nursery 1017AB came alive with noise. There hadn’t been a door closing off the play pen area that they had been in, not to mention a roof, but almost no noise had made it through the cubicle-walled off area that they had left.
Now, Dante was once again aware of just how enormous this place was as the giggles and cries of children echoed off the walls. It was like all of the sound was being filtered out of the play areas and into the areas in between, making each play area seem peaceful and quiet, but the outside seem abuzz with activity.
Left. Right. Left. Left. Left. Right. Circle around a cubicle wall, doing a U-Turn. Right. Right Again. Straight for about 50 feet. Left. Dante could barely keep track. The pathways twisted and turned so many ways, it was like a labyrinth. Dante only barely managed to keep his sense of direction by looking for the giant murals that adorned two of the opposite walls. No way the uninitiated could make it through this place.
Dante could catch brief glances into each area through the open space where a door would be as they passed by it. A group of twelve year olds were playing with big hollow blocks. Stacking them and throwing them. That looked kind of fun. A group of elementary school aged children were making things with play-doh. One or two of them looked to be making some decently complicated creation, like people. One of the play-doh men even looked a little like Mr. Bill. Neat.
A group of babies about Dante’s age were finger painting (all food based paint, Lysa insisted). One girl was even making a beautiful and very realistic self portrait. Clearly she had been an artist in life. A shame it had gone to waste. Yet another group were being read to, all huddled around in a circle as an African American Judy with red rimmed glasses smiled and read to them; though he couldn’t hear what story it was.
Another cubicle held actual babies crawling around and playing with kittens. Kittens? All dogs go to heaven, but cats go to Limbo? Wait. Animals didn’t really have souls, eh who cared? Stranger things had happened to Dante today.
Lysa pointed all of these details out and more, making sure Dante wouldn‘t miss them. Was this her plan, then. He shouldn’t leave Limbo because even though he’d be treated as less than a one-year-old, he had a variety of entertainment options? What next? A dental plan? Oh wait, unlikely. Most babies didn’t have enough teeth. The point was Dante remained unconvinced.
That’s when their stroller came up to a pair of doors. They were the kind you might expect to see in a hospital, except they had babyish stencils on them. Rainbows. Baby Animals. Baby versions of certain famous copyrighted cartoon characters that shall not be mentioned here. (So there was some place where Disney and Warner Bros. couldn’t reach out and sue.) Above the doors in baby blue stenciling was a wooden sign that said “Newborn Room”. Below that was a more plain sign that said “Quiet Please”. (Thank whoever that this place hadn’t taken away his ability to read!)
It was funny that he hadn’t noticed these doors when he first came into Nursery 1017AB. They must be along the fourth wall, relatively under and behind the stairs that Dante had descended when he first arrived.
Their Judy stopped pushing the stroller briefly so that she could press a bright red button. The doors whirred open automatically, and they were pushed quickly through. Dante heard them whir back to closed as he looked around the new room.
If the outside area had been like a daycare or nursery school, then this place eerily resembled a newborn‘s ward at a hospital. It was just as big as out there, but more orderly with rows and rows of newborn cots in straight lines. A light tinkling, like a music box, permeated the air and played a lullaby as they walked around. Judy’s, all dressed in flowing robes- looking vaguely like young Mother Theresa‘s- walked down the aisles, their faces stoic but their eyes serene.
Dante could see at least a dozen sitting in rocking chairs with a newborn baby, an actual newborn baby, in their arms. They were clearly breast feeding the babies. They were wet nurses! Another piece of conversation floated into Dante’s cerebral cortex.
I THINK THE STUFF THEY GIVE TO US IN THE BOTTLES IS CUT WITH SOMETHING.
If the cut milk made someone think like a baby for a little while, and these babies were drinking straight from the tap, then these kids were in no danger of ever growing up.
“Get a better look around, you’ll want to see this.” Lysa instructed
Dante started to squirm in the stroller. Not violently so, just enough to get his Judy’s attention. When she looked over at him, he held his arms out and in his most babyish tone, said “UP! UP!”
“Ok, hold on, little guy,” the Judy said as she circled around and unstrapped Dante from the stroller. With a little cajoling, she managed to carry Dante on her hip and still keep Midori on her back. Midori had apparently been tuckered out by the trip and was snoozing in the baby-carrier. Even with two babified teenagers on her person, she didn’t look any more awkward than a mother of twins might.
From up on the Judy’s hip, Dante noticed two more things. The ratio of Judy to infant here was much lower. They were crawling all over the place. It reminded him of a very quiet and peaceful ant colony. Within seconds of a newborn crying, a Judy would be attending to their every need, such as it were. Newborns didn’t need that much in terms of variety.
The Judy’s were constantly, breastfeeding, burping, changing, and rocking the newborns to sleep. Never complaining, never tiring, never running out of milk.
The other thing Dante realized was that there were far actual babies here than outside. Dante had estimated that for every one actual baby out in the nurseries play areas, there had been ten people who were old enough to at least be potty trained and in school. Here it was the reverse: For every twenty newborns, there might be one non-newborn wrapped in swaddling clothing.
“Here we are,” announced their Judy in a chipper tone as they came to a stop. “Dante, we’re here to see Lysa’s baby sister, so I’m going to have to put you back in the stroller, okay?” Dante nodded, as if he had a choice. He wasn’t bothered, he figured he had seen what Lysa had wanted him to see anyways. The Judy lowered Dante back down into the stroller, and strapped him again.
Lysa was studying Dante, seeing if he had picked up on what she had wanted him to. He nodded that he had. This place had a completely different feel to it. Very serene. Very quiet. Kind of boring.
They were positioned right in front of a regular sized newborn cot. A clipboard on it said: “Caroline Strata. Arrived October 17, 1954 2:36 AM EST” In it sat a baby girl, so young and tiny you could only guess she was a girl by the pink swaddling clothes she was wrapped in. (What? Newborns all look the same at that age?) Her hair, if she had any wisps, was covered by a pink wool cap.
“Excuse me,” the Judy in the nursery scrubs asked a passing wet nurse, “Lysa is here for a little visit with Caroline. Would you mind if we used a rocking chair for a little while?” The wet nurse smiled politely, and led them over to an empty one. Apparently the wet nurse versions of Judy weren’t very talkative.
Their Judy handed off Midori and the baby carrier to a wet nurse. The wet nurse smiled, but looked clearly uncomfortable, (not physically mind you), holding the older baby. Then she unbuckled Lysa, and picked her up before sitting in the rocking chair and taking Lysa into her lap.
“Now remember, Lysa,” the Judy instructed, “Caroline is just a little baby. You’re a big girl compared to her, so we have to be gentle. You just sit here, and they’ll bring Caroline to you. Just let her sit in your lap and hold her head while I rock us back and forth a little bit, okie dokie?” Lysa nodded and rolled her eyes, having likely heard this for the millionth time.
Another wet nurse came over and gently put the newborn girl, Caroline, into Lysa’s lap. The nursery worker, guided Lysa’s hand- unnecessarily- under the baby’s head to help support it. The Judy’s hand never left, as if she were afraid Lysa might drop her head. Lysa allowed herself and the real baby to rocked for a few quiet moments before looking up at Dante.
“Shame, isn’t it?”, Lysa said, her voice dripping with quiet regret. “Little Caroline here never really had a chance, did she? Me? I’ve got regrets, I guess. But at least I got to experience something outside of being a baby. I got to grow up, make friends, eat solid food, go to school. I even had a boyfriend for a little while.“ She smiled a little; the sadness still in her eyes. “It wasn’t serious, mind you, but at least I got to experience puppy love. This is all Caroline will ever know. She’ll sleep, eat, wet and poop, but not much else. ” She gave a small shrug. “Still, I can’t help but love the little blob, you know? She’s family.”
The newborn looked up and grunted a little as she reached for up for Lysa’s breast. Poor thing didn’t understand that Lysa was a baby in here too. She was probably too young mentally to even understand the concept of “mommy”, yet alone “sister”. She just knew from over 50 years of conditioning that breasts meant food.
Was this why Lysa didn‘t want to leave Limbo. She didn’t want to abandon her baby sister? She felt some kind of responsibility towards her, even now? Dante was an only child, so he had never known what it was like to have someone to take care of and look after. Dante guessed he could understand her motives, now, but what did that have to do with him?
“Maybe one of these days…” Lysa stopped mid sentence. “Damn” she swore under her breath. “Not now.” Huh? The Judy’s eyes widened slightly in recognition of something. She reached over and checked little Caroline’s diaper. She bobbed Lysa up and down on her knee a little bit.
“Uh-oh” she said, “I think we have two soggy sisters, on our hands.” Lysa had wet herself while sitting on the nursery worker’s lap. Lysa’s face didn’t really register any emotion, but her eyes showed that she wasn’t particularly happy.
A wet nurse came and took the newborn off of Lysa’s lap and started to take Caroline back to her cot. “Hey Judy,” the nursery worker called, “how about a race?” The wet nurse smiled and nodded her head. The nursery worker picked Lysa up and got a very large diaper from the back of the stroller and a blanket sized changing mat for Lysa. She unrolled the mat, with one hand and laid Lysa down on it.
The nursery worker got down on her knees and hiked up Lysa’s dress past her stomach, completely uncovering her diaper but still covering her breasts. Dante noted that Lysa was very careful not to let either of her arms touch the mat.
The wet nurse grabbed a newborn sized diaper from under a cot, as well as two tubs of baby wipes and joined her co-worker on the mat. She laid Caroline down and unwrapped the pink blankets so she could get at the newborn’s diaper.
Caroline squirmed slightly and reached out for her big sister. Apparently, the changing mats only worked on people who didn’t think of themselves as babies yet. Lysa reached out with her hand towards her little sister, and Caroline clasped on Lysa’s pointer finger with a sure grip. Lysa took a deep breath and exhaled through her nose.
“Ready…set…go!”, the nursery worker shouted as she and her double in the robes raced to see who could change their ward’s diaper the fastest. Both angel women were giggling slightly and were definitely having more fun than the girls. Dante thought that this must be humiliating. It had to be another form of brain washing, to show how they were no different than the actual babies.
The nursery worker won the contest by a good three solid three seconds. “Good game,” the nursery worker said, as the wet nurse re-swaddled the newborn and picked her up, leaving the soiled diaper on the changing mat, and ripping Lysa‘s finger from her grasp.
“Yeah yeah,” the nursery worker said good naturedly, “I know, loser throws away the wet ones.” The nursery worker picked up the soiled diapers and threw them into a lidded trashcan, never to be seen again. She bent over and lifted Caroline off the mat. “Don’t worry, Lysa,” she said, “we’ll get ’em next time, right little girl?” She placed Lysa back in the stroller and buckled her in before going back to roll up the changing mat.
“But before you know it,” the angel added, “we won’t be able to play that game, cuz you’ll be a big girl, and out of diapers and using the potty and everything. You’re gonna be such a great big sister when you get older! Maybe you can even help us change Caroline, then. Won‘t that be fun? Won‘t it?”
Lysa turned her head towards Dante, “Don’t you believe it.” she said. “They say that every time I come to visit.” Dante didn’t need to be told not to believe it. He already didn’t.
“Yeah, I didn’t figure they were big on Pull-Ups here. Just another form of psychological warfare, right? Give you hope you’re gonna get to grow up in here, and then dash your hopes when you’re still in diapers fifty years later.”
“Right,” Lysa confirmed, “What’s a Pull-Up?” Dante had already forgotten how long Lysa had been in Limbo.
“Disposable training pants, halfway between diapers and big boy pants.” Dante informed her. (Crap watch the word choice.) “They’re like diapers, but not as thick. They’re easy to pull on and off like underwear, but can be thrown away if the kid doesn’t make it to the potty in time. They usually have designs for bigger kids, like racecars for boys, or princesses for girls. Sometimes they have little hearts or stars that disappear when the kid is wet so that they learn the difference between wet and dry and don’t sit in a wet diaper all day.”
“Yeah,” Lysa harrumphed, “never seen anything close to that around these parts.”
The wet nurse exposed her breast, and lifted Caroline up to start breast feeding her. Lysa’s eyes were immediately on the wet nurse, and they were staring daggers. If looks could kill angels….damn, there was some genuine hate there. Meanwhile, their Judy had rolled up and stowed away the mat, and taken Midori off the hands of a very grateful wet nurse counterpart. Their stroller began to move again.
So this is why you brought us here? So I could watch you get to feel like a big baby instead of a little one?
“No,” she answered, “this is.” She pointed to an approaching, baby blue cot. “I brought you here to see him. Dori!” She called out from the stroller. “Dori! Wake up, baby girl! Time for Boo-Hoo’s!” Dante could hear Midori stirring sleepily, and then begin to wail.
The stroller came to a stop as nursery worker Judy stopped to see what was wrong with Midori. “Watch and learn,” Lysa said to Dante just as she banged on the blue plastic of the giant cot. A second cry joined Midori’s, coming from the cot.
A wet nurse rushed over to the cot, bent over and effortlessly picked up a Latino boy wrapped up in swaddling clothes. He looked to be about thirteen or fourteen from the size of him, though that was the only thing about him that looked like a teenager. He screamed with his mouth wide open and his eyes still shut.
Dante could see that the boy was completely toothless. If he had any hair, it was all tucked under and concealed by the blue cap on his head. Despite the crying noise, no tears came from his eyes. He had forgotten how to use his tear ducts. The wet nurse unsheathed her robe and stroked her nipple across the boy’s cheek. He instinctively latched on and began nursing.
“Dante,” Lysa introduced, “meet Jorge Rivera: The one who showed me the ropes when I first got here. Jorge had been here for about seventy years when I came here. He showed me how to keep my sanity. When he finally started breaking about thirty years later, he decided it was time to try and escape.
“He managed to get all the way out into the hallway before they caught him. Management decided that he was too risky to be left out in the main nursery, so they sent him hear and made him drink the pure stuff.
“As long as we’re here, we’ll be treated like babies,” she went on. “We will wear and use diapers. We will be fed milk and burped. We will sleep in cribs. But is that the only thing you want to be able to do, Dante? Do you want the rest of your existence to revolve around breast feeding, diaper changes, and sleeping? Don’t hope for escape, Dante, because this is where escapees end up.”
To Be Continued…