He did not want to be the father of a small blue pyramid. Peter Horn hadn’t planned it that way at all. Neither he nor his wife imagined that such a thing could happen to them. They had talked quietly for days about the birth of their coming child, they had eaten normal foods, slept a great deal, taken in a few shows, and, when it was time for her to fly in the helicopter to the hospital, her husband held her and kissed her.
“Honey, you’ll be home in six hours,” he said. “These new birth-mechanisms do everything but father the child for you.”
She remembered an old-time song. “No, no, they can’t take that away from me!” and sang it, and they laughed as the helicopter lifted them over the green way from country to city.
The doctor, a quiet gentleman named Wolcott, was very confident. Polly Ann, the wife, was made ready for the task ahead and the father was put, as usual, out in the waiting room where he could suck on cigarettes or take highballs from a convenient mixer. He was. feeling pretty good. This was the first baby, but there was not a thing to worry about. Polly Ann was in good hands.
Dr. Wolcott; came into the waiting room an hour later. He looked like a man who has seen death. Peter Horn, on his third highball, did not move. His hand tightened on the glass and he whispered:
“No,” said Wolcott, quietly. “No, no, she’s fine. It’s the baby.”
“The baby’s dead, then.”
“The baby’s alive, too, but – drink the rest of that drink and come along after me. Something’s happened.”
Yes, indeed, something had happened. The “something” that had happened had brought the entire hospital out into the corridors. People were going and coming from one room to another. As Peter Horn was led through a hallway where attendants in white uniforms were
standing around peering into each other’s faces and whispering, he became quite ill.
“Hey, looky looky!” “The child of Peter Horn! Incredible!”
They entered a small clean room. There was a crowd in the room, looking down at a low table. There was something on the table.
A small blue pyramid.
“Why’ve you brought me here?” said Horn, turning to the doctor.
The small blue pyramid moved. It began to cry.
Peter Horn pushed forward and looked down wildly. He was very white and he was breathing rapidly. “You don’t mean that’s it?”
The doctor named Wolcott nodded.
The blue pyramid had six blue snakelike appendages and three eyes that blinked from the tips of projecting structures.
Horn didn’t move.
“It weighs seven pounds, eight ounces,” someone said.
Horn thought to himself, they’re kidding me. This is some joke. Charlie Ruscoll is behind all this. He’ll pop in a door any moment and cry “April Fool!” and everybody’ll laugh. That’s not my child. Oh, horrible! They’re kidding me.
Horn stood there, and the sweat rolled down his face.
“Get me away from here.” Horn turned and his hands were opening and closing without purpose, his eyes were flickering.
Wolcott held his elbow, talking calmly. “This is your child. Understand that, Mr. Horn.”
“No. No, it’s not.” His mind wouldn’t touch the thing. “It’s a nightmare. Destroy it!”
“You can’t kill a human being.”
“Human?” Horn blinked tears. “That’s not human! That’s a crime against God!”
The doctor went on, quickly. “We’ve examined this – child – and we’ve decided that it is not a mutant, a result of gene destruction or rearrangement. It’s not a freak. Nor is it sick. Please listen to everything I say to you.”
Horn stared at the wall, his eyes wide and sick. He swayed. The doctor talked distantly, with assurance.