Chapter Description: Ned wakes up to a whole new world
Ned could barely move as the heat from the flames hit him. He was laying face down in the middle of a field. The bright light being cast from the burning car thirty yards away made him shut his eyes. He took deep breaths of air as he tried to catalog what was going on. Every joint in his body ached as he lifted his head to look around him. Seeing the car, he realized that Bart must have wrecked it during their attempt to flee the man at the bar.
“Bart? Bart?” Ned called out, making his head swim. “Bart, where are you?”
Ned put his head back down as he tried not to pass out. After a few minutes, he slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position. Taking a few more gulps of air, he turned his head to see if he could see his friend. He was concerned about his friend, but he also knew that Bart always turned up like a bad penny. He felt nauseous, that was a sure sign of a head injury. He did not know how long he would be conscious. If Bart was lying somewhere hurt, they would both need help. Ned decided that he should try to get help while he was still able to. He pushed up on the ground behind him to stand. His jacket seemed to be in his way, so he pulled it off. He shakily stood and started walking away from the car. His mind was so clouded that he did not even think to where he was going, so he headed off across the field, hoping to run into civilization and help.
As he walked through the field at night, he struggled against the dried bits of vegetation sticking up from the ground from the last harvest that were pulling at him and the uneven ruts in the ground making him lose his shoes. Ned brought up his hand to rub his forehead as the headache he was nursing was steadily getting worse. His eyesight dwindled down till his was only able to see ten feet in front of him in the dark. He trudged through the unending fields, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. He became incredibly hot, so without thinking he unbuttoned and pulled off his shirt. He sighed with contentment, as the cool night air hit his overheated skin. His pants were pooled around each foot, so that he continually stepped on it. Finally almost falling face down, he kicked off the pants that were tangled around his feet.
He didn’t know how exactly he came upon the small country church until he was a few feet away from it. He stumbled back as he looked over the structure; he saw the steeple with the bell towering over him.
“Thank God! Civilization!” he breathed as he hoped there would be a phone inside.
There on the side of the wooden frame church was a door. He staggered over to it and with luck found that the doorknob turned in his hand. He entered the darkened church near the choir stand and the rostrum. He marched forward and caught his foot on the step up the platform. He landed roughly on his side. He felt so rotten, that he decided to lay there for a few moments before he would start his quest for a phone. He closed his eyes as he lay on the thin carpeting.
As on every other Sunday morning, Brother Eli and his wife, Marva arrived a little after six AM to set up the church for the Sunday morning services. Marva would start the huge coffee maker and begin to set out the trays for the Eucharist while Brother Eli would make the final preparations to the chapel. This morning, the pair walked into the church and went about their normal routine. Brother Eli was walking down the aisle of the chapel when he happened to see something out of the ordinary on the corner of the platform near the lectern.
He stood there for a moment before he recognized what he was seeing. He called out to his wife as he began to slowly approach the strange sight on the floor of the chapel. Hearing the alarm in her husband’s voice, Marva came rushing into the chapel. As she came upon her husband, he was just bending down to squat by the discovery. In front of him was a small infant, sound asleep only wrapped in what appeared to be men’s boxer shorts.
“What?” Marva whispered over to Eli, who looked up from the infant.
“I don’t know.” Eli whispered back.
Marva looked at the small infant, lying there and frowned. The child’s color was not good and it looked flushed and listless. She rushed through a door and presently came out with a choir robe in her hands. She reached down and wrapped it around the infant, who made a small noise of complaint but did not wake up. She slid her hand under the head and bottom of the infant and took him into her arms. She rested his head against the crook of one arm as she held the small body against her. She gently felt the baby’s head and cheek.
“Oh, he’s sick. Poor thing. Eli, I’m taking him back to the house. Call Dr. Barnes and tell him to meet me there. Tell him that we have a sick infant.” Marva instructed her husband. “I’ll call one of the Ladies League to help with this morning’s service when I get back to the house.”
By that afternoon, the entire rural community had heard about the baby boy left in the church. It was very sick with what appeared to be a virus according to Dr. Barnes. Since their community did not have a hospital, he was leaving it in the care of Marva and Brother Eli. Many whispers circulated that perhaps the child was a godsend to Marva and Eli, since they had not been blessed with children of their own.
A few days later, Ned opened his hazy eyes to find himself lying on a cool mattress in a darkened room. He was not as hot as before but he still felt pretty lousy. His body felt like that he had gone ten rounds with the golden gloves champion. He wanted to go back to sleep again, but he was thirsty. He slowly turned his seemingly thousand pound head to see if there was a glass of water on the nightstand. He smacked his lips as he blinked lazily as he waited for his eyes to focus. That’s when he saw it. It took a moment for it to register. There were large wooden bars in front of him. He closed his eyes to shut out the sight and let out a slight whimper. He opened his eyes again, expecting the bars to have disappeared; but shocking enough, they remained. If his head didn’t hurt so much, he would have cursed loudly, but only let out a whine which still caused enough pain to make him freeze in reaction. He began to breathe heavy as his eyes tried to focus on the bars and what lay behind it. He could see some motion in the distance of the room.
“Hey, look who’s up. I bet you’re thirsty and wet.” A soft maternal voice floated over him from the blurred large figure looming over him.
Ned thought “Thirsty? Yeah. Wet? What are you talking about?”
Ned felt large warm hand behind his head and bottom as he was lifted in the air. He jerked his limbs as he held his breath with surprise. The next instant, he was cuddled up against a soft warm chest and had a soft arm bracing him on the other side. He instantly felt better with the contact but was still very thirsty. He rolled his tongue in his mouth as he prepared to ask for something to drink, but before he could even form the word, a soft rubbery object was sliding in-between his lips.
Subconsciously, his tongue cradled the protuberance up to the roof of his mouth. His tongue undulated against the object, so fluid issued forth from it. Ned discovered that it wasn’t water, but a heavier thicker substance that flooded his mouth and extinguished the flame of the thirst in his throat. The beguiling liquid seemed to calm his troubles and create a lovely coolness in his system. He could not stop his mouth from pulling on the rubber nub and he discovered he had no inclination to force the subject. After a solid two minutes of drinking, slurping sounds began to echo in the dark room. Ned found himself upright against a shoulder as gentle raps against his back, soon resulted in a solid burp issuing from him.
He then found himself floating over to a cloth padded table. He relaxed against the pad as he surrendered to the overwhelming fatigue. He closed his eyes and then he heard a pattern of snaps and felt some motion by his legs. He momentarily felt a large intrusion in his crotch between his jewels and whatever he was wearing. But before he could rouse himself, the cover from his legs were pulled away as he felt the cooler air hit his skin. He wanted to rouse himself to ask what the hell was going on, but he could not find the energy to object. He felt his body being lifted up by the legs and adjusted, so there was a quantity of cloth bunched at the middle of his back. The next thing he heard was the pulling and tearing of plastic. There was motion at his waist and in the next instant, there was nothing there. The air was hitting his bare skin again and this time he was naked from the waist down. He managed to open one eye, but all he could see was the large silhouette of a person. He must be really sick, if he is seeing giants. He closed his eyes again, if this was a dream, then the giants could have their way.
He felt a slightly cold wipe being swept over his private bits and upper thighs. It went around his penis and testicles and back down his perineum. He felt his legs being lifted again so he bottom left the surface of the pad. Another dry, cool pad was substituted by the time he was lowered again. He lay there on the pad, not moving. A willing victim to whatever procedure this creature had in mind. Ned heard the sound of a pop from a plastic jar. Then his legs were lifted and pushed toward his chest. A large digit pushed between the cheeks of his butt and lavished a quantity of a greasy substance there. A few moments later, Ned heard a whipping sound nearby, as something was being flung back and forth in a hand. He felt a large hand keeping his legs up as another hand inserted something in him.
He wriggled and made a noise of objection, but the hand remained, keeping the thing firmly inside him. After a few moments, Ned acquiesced to the treatment. He did not have that much energy and the thing wasn’t moving further in. A few minutes later, the thing was removed. The pad was brought up between his legs fastened. The cotton covering was replaced over his legs and the sound of snaps only just barely pierced his consciousness.
Marva set the dozing baby back down in the crib, checking to see if the red light to the baby monitor was still on. She walked out of the room where Eli was standing in the hall, looking inquisitively at her.
“How is he?” Eli asked quietly.
“Better. He took a whole bottle of Pedialyte and his temperature is down.” Marva replied. “I think we got this thing beat.”
The next morning when he awoke, Ned felt much better. He was still a little drained but he did seem sharper. He lay there with his eyes closed, musing about the funny dreams that fevers can make you have. He silently laughed to himself that he even dreamed about being an infant again. “That was a laugh. I guess I just wanted my Mom again, even if that meant she had to put down her bottle of bourbon.”
He blinked as he looked straight up at the ceiling. He frowned as he saw an object dangling over his bed with little fluffy sheep with bodies that looked like clouds suspended in a circle over him. He blew out a snort at the ridiculousness of the object. Where was he? He slowly turned his head from the mobile and saw the large bulky bars come into view. His eyes traveled down the towering bars that came up the sides of his bed. He turned his head to follow the bars back down to the mattress. He rolled onto his side as he made little choking noises of outrage. He looked over to the head board and saw the flat wooden panel of a traditional baby item. He was in a crib! He pushed up on an elbow, but that made his head swim, so he rested his head against the mattress. His breathing became heavier as he began to panic. He covered his eyes with his hands as he began to mutter and whine to himself. How could this get any worse?
Pulling one of his hands away from his eyes, he saw a fuzzy silhouette of a large being enter the room
“Good morning, sweetheart.” A woman’s maternal voice floated over to him. “Is my baby feeling better today?”
Ned pulled a hand away from his face and reached toward the woman who appeared to be in her early forties.
“Please. You gotta help me! I don’t know what’s going on!” Red faced, Ned gasped out to the matronly looking woman.
Unfortunately, Ned didn’t realize that discernible speech was beyond his current physical capabilities. All that was communicated was the distress of a young infant to the woman.
“Oh, poor baby. Come here.” The voice intoned as Ned felt his body being lifted from the mattress and cuddled against the woman’s soft breast. “Sh.sh.sh. It’s alright. Let’s see if you’ll take a bottle this morning.”
Before Ned knew what was happening, he felt a rubber nipple slide into his mouth. He remembered the same feeling from his dream and before he knew it, his mouth was automatically compressing the nipple as before. This time, instead of the thick liquid, it was a creamy concoction that flooded his mouth. It was not sophisticated or multi-layered like single malt whisky, but the taste was absolutely delightful. It seemed to radiate a healthy vibrancy right down to his core. It was energizing, yet calming all in the same time. It soothed his worries and filled his emptiness in each swallow. He closed his eyes, balled his fists as he concentrated on the experience induced by this wonderful aperitif.
A few minutes later, he opened his eyes to find his lower half of his face lying across the top of the woman’s towel draped shoulder. He smacked his lips together as he realized that his chin was in the center of a wet circle of milk. He felt his body being pulled back as he rested against the hand bracing his head, neck and upper shoulders. The woman pulled the towel from her shoulder and wiped his chin.
“That was a good burp!” She said as she coddled the baby in her arms.
She glided over to the changing table. Undoing a few of the snaps, she stuck a finger inside to test the wetness of the baby’s diaper. “Let’s get you out of that wet diaper, okay?”
“Lady, I don’t. Hey! Wait just a minute!” Ned cried out as he began to writhe on the changing table.
“Sh.sh.sh. Don’t fuss.” The woman patted the baby on the chest. “It will be just a minute.”
As in the dream, the process of the diaper change happened again. To Ned’s dread, he saw the thermometer being shaken down once more. He began to fight against the woman’s large hand holding him on the table.
“No! Not that! You don’t have to do that! “Ned pleaded.
But before he could work up a really good argument, Ned found his legs once again in the air as the thermometer was once again inserted into his anus. The woman began to talk sing a little song to Ned as her hand holding the thermometer in place bounced against his bottom in rhythm.
“This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine.” Marva’s voice crooned to the baby who was staring up at her with a surprised expression. There seemed to be no end to the song when just as suddenly, Marva’s fingers pulled the thermometer out of Ned’s bottom. She set it over to the side before lowering Ned’s legs and fastening his diaper. Finally, keeping one hand on his chest, she peered at the thermometer in her other hand.
“Thank the Lord! Normal!” Marva announced with a sigh of relief. “You gave us a scare, young man. Now, let’s get dressed. I think we’ll wait for your bath until tonight. Huh, how’s that? I think I am going to keep you in a sleeper today, I am sure you’re going to be sleeping quite a bit today.”
She sat Ned up, but kept one hand around his chest as she wrested the sleeper off the upper part of his body. She reached down and pulled out a new clothing item from below the table. It was a pale blue merino drawstring gown with a tiny rainbow embroidered on the front. She held him against her body as she threaded it first over his head and then over his arms. Finally laying him down, she pulled it down over his lower half and tied the drawstring until the bottom enveloped his legs in a large sack.
She picked up Ned and held him up against her with one hand bracing his butt and one of his legs while the other hand cupped his head to her. Ned lay against her body, his cheek pressed up to her breast, with his arms held out akimbo as they made their way down this strange hallway.