Chapter 16 Donna was in her office printing up some reports. Beth had stopped by, and Donna had sent her for some more fresh fruit, diapers, and to put in the order for the birth announcements. She would call in the details from the hospital, things like weight and time of birth. Beth had left for the two hour trip into town. Donna had watched the older woman leave, noting that the sky was darkening and telling her to drive safely. That was over an hour ago. Donna had returned to her office and immersed herself in reports. She was trying to scrape up more funding, but was unable to find any grants as of yet. She got up to stretch her legs. Her back was really hurting now. She vowed not to sleep on the couch again. She decided to get a midmorning snack, then get on to the meeting with that snob nosed senator, to see if he could help them. She left her office and was halfway down the hallway when she felt something wet on her legs. Funny, she thought, I didn't think I had to use the bathroom. She looked down and was horrified to see a large puddle forming at her feet. Uh-oh. Calming herself and telling herself that first babies take a long time to show up, she headed for the nearest office that would have a hookup to Ziggy. Once inside she keyed in her code and password. "Ziggy?" "Yes, Dr. Elesee?" "I need you to page Al for me. My water just broke. I think I'm in labor." "Right away, Dr. Elesee." Donna just sat and waited. ************************** Sam was busy trying to calm Kelsey down in the kitchen, and Al was as usual trying to offer suggestions. "That jerk, " Kelsey was saying. "I told him I'd have the rest of the rent in two weeks. Now what am I going to do? Where are me and Laura going to go?" "What a nozzle, putting a young mother and her child out on the street. Why I'd love to pop him one." Al was rambling on. Sam tried to help. "You can stay here for a bit, until we figure something out. At least this way, you won't have to worry about Laura." "Mark would evict you too if he found out! You know how he hates us section 8 folks." Sam knew that section 8 was another term for welfare. He wondered where the fathers to these children were. He made a note to ask Al the next chance he got. "I'll handle Mark. Okay?" Kelsey sniffed and nodded. "Okay. Just for a couple of days." Kelsey continued on about the job interview and the bus trip back. Al had stopped paying attention when the handlink had started squaking very loudly. Loudly enough that it got Sam's and Laura's attention. The little girl had wandered over to where Al was standing, having gotten over her jitters at the strange man. "Want toy." she stated simply and pointed to the handlink. It glittered brightly to the young child. Kelsey stared at her. "Honey, I'll get your toys as soon as I can get in the house. Okay?" "No." Kelsey just shrugged. Al was pounding on the link trying to silence it. Sam was watching Al strangely. He could sense something wasn't right. He moved closer to Al and when Kelsey wasn't watching, whispered, "What's with Ziggy?" Al finally gave up trying to silence the link, and read the screen. He paled when the words started scrolling across the screen. Sam was close enough that he managed to see a couple of them before Al dropped the link out of his line of vision. Sam puzzled over the words he had glanced. "Water broke?" he spoke sotto voice. Kelsey was trying to steer the child into the living room. Sam decided that a bathroom break was in order. He motioned to Al to follow him. Al just wanted to leave. He had to get to Donna and quick. He popped into the bathroom before Sam arrived. "SAAAM!! Look, I'll be back as soon as I can" he rushed his words as Sam shut the door. "Al? What's going on?" Al keyed open the Imgaing Chamber door. "Sam, I can't explain now. I will when I get back. Just keep Kelsey out of trouble." Sam couldn't understand his friend's panic. "Al?" "Sorry Sam." He stepped out and vansihed from Sam's sight. Sam flushed the toilet, more for the sake of sound, and went to face Kelsey and Laura. *************************** Al raced down the ramp and tossed the handlink on the control panel. Gooshie and Tina were nowhere to be found. "Ziggy? Where is Donna?" he shouted. "Dr. Elesee is in Dr. Beeks's office. Dr. Gushman and Dr. Martinez-O'Farrell brought her down there 8.5 minutes ago." Al didn't bother to reply, he just raced down the hall. Upon arriving, the first thing he saw was Tina holding Donna's hand. Gooshie was timing the contractions and Verbena was on the phone. Al entered the room and went over to Donna. "I'm here. How far apart are the contractions?" Donna watched him pant from his race down the hallways. She tried to suppress a giggle. "Al, I'm the one supposed to be panting." Gooshie answered Al. "The contractions are 10 minutes apart." Verbena hung up the phone. "Al, we have a problem. The storm has worsened. The ambulance cannot make it out here until it lets up." Al remembered hearing something about an approaching storm when he had checked the news this morning. Al looked from Verbena to Donna. "So what do we do?" Then his mind ran to Beth. "Where is Beth?" Donna looked at Al's worried face. "Beth went to town. She will be fine. Now, me I"m not sure of." She began to pant as a contraction hit. Al took over having been by Beth's side at each delivery. "Deep breath in, and slow pants out.. one, two, three.." He helped her breathe until it was over. Donna sank back into the pillows as it ended. "Geez Al. What are we going to do?" "Verbena went to Tina. "Get some towels. I have a feeling we will need them." Tina squeezed Donna's hand once, then let go. "I'll be back. You hang in there." She left in search of towels. Al looked deep into Donna's eyes. "Don't you worry. We will manage. As soon as the storm lets up, you will be safe at the hospital. First babies can take hours. So you just relax." Donna tried to. But somehow she just knew this baby wasn't going to wait for a storm. She lay back on the pillows and closed her eyes. Al cornered Verbena by her desk. "How long has she been in labor?" "Since early this morning, from what she tells me. However, her water only broke 20 minutes ago. She is already 6cm dialated and 50% effaced." Al listened soberly. "She might not make it to the hospital. What are our options?" "Do the best we can. And hope the storm lets up." Al returned to Donna's side. She was resting comfortably. Now the waiting began. *************************** Sam had returned to the living room to find Laura asleep on the couch. Kelsey was staring out the window. The TV had been turned off. "How am I going to do this? That job was my last hope." Kelsey wailed. "First things first. We are going to have to see Mark and see about getting your stuff out. Okay?" "Jess! You know he is gonna want money." Sam wished Al was around. He still didn't know enough about his host to know if she had anything more than the $10 in her purse. He was still puzzled over Al's sudden rush. What could 'water broke' mean anyways? Was the project flooded? Thoughts of water short circuiting Ziggy flashed through Sam's mind. "Jess? Are you listening to me? Hello? Earth to Jess." Kelsey was trying to get his attention. "Oh sorry. Just trying to think of someplace to get the money." Sam went to sit on the rocker. "How much was needed again?" "$175. There is no way to raise that much today." Kelsey plopped down on the floor by Sam's feet. "I just don't know what to do." Sam looked at the sleeping child. Laura looked like a tiny cherub when she was sleeping. "Let's just take one thing at a time. When the children awaken, we can go see Mark and see about getting your stuff." "Okay, but I'm telling you, he's gonna want the money." Kelsey stood up and went to get something to eat. Now Sam had more than his share of problems. He needed Al. *************************** Al was helping Donna breathe through another contraction. They were about 8 1/2 minutes apart. Tina had returned with towels, and some washcloths. She had wetted one and had placed it on Donna's head. She held one of Donna's hands as Al had the other. Gooshie was still timing the contractions. Verbena was checking Donna's progress. "Still at 6cm and 50%." She replied. "Gooshie, go check on the progress of the storm." Gooshie nodded and left. Donna finished the contraction and turned toward Al. "If I don't make it to the hospital, who is going to deliver this baby?" Al hedged for a moment. "Um.. Donna, I guess Verbena and I will. But don't you worry about it. I'm sure the storm will let up soon." Donna turned now towards Tina. "Tina, can I get some ice chips? My mouth is kinda dry." "No problem. I'll get some for ya." "Thanks." Tina tottered off in her high heels. Al was still amaazed sometimes that she could walk in them without falling. Donna tried to rest some more. She was not sure how much longer she would have before the baby came. Verbena pulled Al aside. "Al, it's going to be a while still. Why don't you check in on Sam so he doesn't get suspicious?" Al looked back to Donna. "Okay. But only for a minute. And if anything happens at all here, you page me and I'll be right back. Got it?" Verbena smiled. "Got it." Al went over to Donna's side. "Donna, I"m going to check in on Sam. I sorta ran out on him, and I don't want to make him suspicious." He held her hand for a moment, then kissed it. "I'll be right down the hall in the Imagaing Chamber, Okay?" Donna glanced up at Al. "Okay. But remember, don't tell him." "Whatever you wish, Donna." Al stood up then and left. He passed Gooshie and Tina coming back in. He grabbed Gooshie by the arm. "Well?" "Storm is strong as ever. Lots of lightning, and a fierce wind." Al nodded to Tina. "Infom Verbena that WE are going to check on Sam." The observer nearly dragged Gooshie along in his rush to get to the Imaging Chamber. Tina just nodded and went to bring Donna the ice chips.