This will be his life now, until the day he dies.
At first, they will tell him that they just want to keep him for another week or two, to make sure his body recovers well from the pregnancy and the caesarean. He’ll be too weak to protest much, content enough to sleep for hours on end in his little bedroom, hoping to regain his strength enough to re-join the Rangers as soon as he can.
He’ll also need strength enough to tell the whole world what he’s been forced to endure in the name of science, as well as strength to make the Colonel – never ‘Hannibal’, never again – pay for his role in the entire affair.
He won’t ever see the baby he carried for all those months. She’ll already be gone before he wakes from the anaesthetic, whisked away to goodness only knows where. He will presume the Colonel is raising her somehow, somewhere, but he will never care enough to ask about her.
He will heal quickly, his body proving itself once again to be Ranger-strong and resilient as hell, even after the trauma of being made to act as a human incubator for nine long months. His stomach, previously grown so large and stretched almost to breaking point, will flatten back down surprisingly fast, only a few faint stretch marks remaining on his hips.
After two weeks, once he can stay awake for longer than an hour at a time, they will tell him they need to spend just a little longer monitoring him, to make sure he’s truly recovered. Three weeks will pass, then four weeks, five weeks, and to his horror he will start to suspect that they have no intention of letting him go.
What use is one successful experiment without replication, of course?
* * *
His second pregnancy is much the same as the first, from start to finish, though thankfully he will remain asleep during the implantation procedure this time. Apparently they will finally have learned that he doesn’t react predictably to normal anaesthetics.
His body will swell quicker than it did before, his stomach growing obscenely fast and his morning sickness ten times worse from the very beginning.
He won’t fight it, or them. He won’t have any fight left in him, though he won’t be entirely resigned to his fate either. Not quite. But nearly.
They’ll start to push his boundaries, asking him to allow medical staff into his room to perform examinations rather than using that sweet, sweet smelling gas to sedate him time and again. He’ll shrug and choose to allow them whatever access they want. It won’t make any difference to him at the end of the day. He’ll know in his heart that he isn’t going anywhere, no matter if he begs or pleads.
It will be easier to let them do what they want. Maybe then they will let him go when this pregnancy is over.
As a reward for his obedience, he will be let out into a tiny courtyard through a concealed door in the back of his room, a door he never found during all his time confined. He will feel the sun on his face for the first time in more than a year, feel the cool grass beneath his feet, and breathe fresh air rather than recycled. He will pretend that the tears in his eyes are purely because of the wind.
The Colonel won’t hide behind the observation mirror this second time around. Instead, the Colonel will visit him at irregular intervals, though never alone, presumably out on missions during the weeks of his absence. The Colonel will watch the doctors as they work, smiling proudly, and try to strike up a conversation with him, though there will never be any renewed attempt at an apology.
He won’t even look in the Colonel’s direction, let alone dignify him with a response of any kind.
The contractions will come sooner this time, after barely eight months have passed, waking him in the middle of the night in sudden agony. The doctors will force him to labour for only three hours, before he will walk with them to the examination room, climbing willingly onto the table and allowing them to put him to sleep.
It will be a boy, and he won’t see this baby either.
* * *
He will be allowed two whole months to recover, his body shrinking back slower this time around, and his exhaustion far more lingering. They will tell him that they’ve successfully replicated his experiment in another two men. They will tell him that he is doing good work, that he is giving a great gift to medical science, and they will tell him he should be proud.
They will tell him they have great work still to do. They will remind him that the Army owns him, and that they will take care of him. After all, haven’t they taken such good care of him so far?
Maybe just one more year, they will suggest. Or maybe two, depending on how his body holds up. His commanding officer has consented, after all.
The Colonel will be there by his side when he cries, and he will hate himself for the way he’ll lean into that strong embrace, desperate for any human contact he can get after nearly two years spent mostly alone with only books and terrible television for company.
He will see his life spiralling away into the distance, completely out of his control.
* * *
They will put twins inside him, and for the first time he will be absolutely certain that his body cannot do what they are asking of it. From day one he’ll feel his heart thundering in his chest, struggling to cope with the increased demands placed on it, and he’ll be so dizzy and sick that he will barely manage to climb out of his bed.
They will all look after him with the greatest of care, mopping him up when he vomits and rubbing soothing creams into the purple skin of his belly as his body balloons. The Colonel will move into his room after the first month, refusing to leave his side for any reason, visibly worried half to death and trying to soothe him with kisses and gentle embraces.
He’ll welcome whatever comfort is on offer, from whoever may be offering it. In particular he won’t want the Colonel to leave, glad of the strength and calm of the older man as his body struggles, then begins to fail rapidly.
The doctors will deliver the twins alive and well at seven months, one boy and one girl apparently, though he will have been unconscious for the previous three weeks, fed through tubes and hooked up to countless monitors.
They will tell him they won’t experiment with multiple pregnancies again.
He will wish he could believe them.
* * *
Three months to recover, after the trauma of his third pregnancy. Three months in which he will mostly just sleep in the Colonel’s arms, his body struggling to bounce back and his mind simply gone. His stomach will remain distended this time, the skin stretched beyond the point where it can recover, and the permanent stretch marks spread across his belly as well as the scars from multiple caesareans would have made him weep in his previous life. He will barely even notice them, and he certainly won’t care.
The Colonel will stroke his hair gently, kissing his forehead and cradling him close against a strong chest. He will lie there, soaking up the skin to skin contact, just pressing his ear above the Colonel’s heart and hearing the steady thump, marking the passing seconds and minutes and hours.
He will feel strangely empty inside, without the movement of a little one beneath his skin.
He will wonder what more they can possibly do to him now.
* * *
Three months to the day, and they will walk him through to the examination room once more. He will climb up onto the table when they ask him to, lifting his legs obediently into the cold metal stirrups that spread his legs high and wide, and allow them to strap him down tightly for his own safety.
He will assume it is time for them to begin all over again, but no. This time will be different.
This time, the Colonel will be there too, sitting on a stool close by his head with one big hand resting reassuringly on his shoulder. He will be able to sense the Colonel’s anticipation, even as he tunes out the conversations going on over and around him.
He won’t feel the need to be involved. He will feel detached from the entire process. His body will not have belonged to him for a very long time. Let them do what they want.
This time, though, the doctors will put something different in his body, without the need to wield a scalpel. Something that won’t hurt, that will unerringly find his prostate and begin to vibrate, and he will feel his cock spring to life almost immediately. He will whine involuntarily, uncertain of what they might want from him, and the Colonel will hush him gently, telling him to relax and just let it happen.
He will close his eyes, feeling tears leaking slowly down his temples, as they bring him rapidly to an entirely unsatisfying release, slipping a tube of sorts over his cock to capture every last drop. He won’t struggle or beg, at least not until after the third orgasm, when his body will be too tight and too overstimulated and far too painful to go on.
They won’t stop, not until he comes for the fifth time, with his screams echoing loudly throughout the room.
The Colonel will untie him and carry him back to his room, where he will just bury his face in the pillows, sobbing pitifully at the wreck they’ve made of him.
* * *
A week later they will put him under again, and he will awaken to the now-familiar and oddly welcome sensation of a new pregnancy in his belly. Pregnancy number four, though child number five, of course.
The Colonel will be the one to tell him. This child is his child, fertilized with his own sperm.
He will spend the next hour vomiting helplessly into the toilet, the Colonel rubbing his back and mopping his brow tenderly, telling him how much he is loved and how very brave he is.
* * *
His child – his daughter – will have his eyes, though the doctors will remind him with indulgent smiles that every baby has blue eyes at first. For the first time, they won’t take her away immediately. He’ll be allowed a week with her in his room, the Colonel a constant and attentive presence, though there will also be a nurse there to care for her and feed her and change her.
He won’t want to look at her, and he will try not to name her, but he won’t be able to help himself. She will have his eyes, and his nose. He will think to himself that she is absolutely perfect. He will wish with all his heart that he could take her away from there and raise her somewhere safe, by the beach perhaps, with friends and sunlight and laughter and love. And the Colonel, perhaps.
Then, on the eighth day, he will wake up to find that she is gone.
* * *
He will try to fight back for the first time in years. He will try to break down the door, or to smash the mirror, or to scale the walls of his tiny courtyard. He will scream and shout and throw punch after punch, but the Colonel will put him down easily every time without hurting him, with eyes that seem strangely sad.
He will be weak after years of near-constant pregnancy, his body barely recognisable when he looks in the mirror, his face pale and gaunt. The muscle he had once packed on so proudly in the Rangers will be long gone, his body lean and stringy apart from his saggy, overstretched stomach, and the Colonel will pin him to the bed effortlessly every time.
The doctors and nurses won’t discipline him, maybe in unspoken apology. They won’t reintroduce that sickly-sweet gas that used to make his head spin and the world turn inside out. Instead, they will let him exhaust himself by fighting the Colonel, restricting him to his room for the first time in three pregnancies. He will miss his daughter desperately but he will also miss the courtyard, his only hint of freedom, and he will quickly give up, too exhausted and too far gone to care for long.
He will realise that he should have known better.
There won’t ever be any point in fighting them. There will always be too many of them, and they will always have all the power.
He will know that the Army owns him, body and soul. From that day on, they will own his daughter as well.
* * *
They will tell him proudly that they’ve been successful with another four male pregnancies, outside of the military for the very first time. They will congratulate him on his role in the ongoing experiment and praise his strength and endurance.
They will pause, then ask him to respond, to say something, anything. He won’t have spoken a single word in three weeks.
He won’t make another sound until after they implant him with his next pregnancy, nine weeks after they take his daughter. He will shout once in denial before falling silent again when they tell him he is carrying twins once more, the Colonel’s two sons now nestled safely inside his belly.
He won’t want it to work. But the Colonel will be so excited, and so attentive, that he will almost wish…
After four agonising months of trying to carry them, the contractions will come too soon and those two poor boys won’t survive. They will nearly take him along with them.
Yet somehow he will still be the one to silently comfort his heartbroken Colonel.
* * *
It will be endless. Months will bleed into years, and soon a whole decade will have passed since that fateful night he woke up while doctors cut into the softness of his unprotected stomach. And still it will continue.
They will find a way to keep him continually pregnant, much to his Colonel’s delight, implanting him anew each time they carry out a caesarean.
At least he won’t feel empty ever again.
They will trial him with painful injections that induce the production of his own milk, though they will never force him to feed any of the babies he carries. Instead, breast pumps will become a whole new form of unending torture, twice a day. Every day.
This will be his life, until the day he dies.
Pregnancy after pregnancy after pregnancy, sometimes carrying his own child, sometimes his Colonel’s, sometimes a stranger’s.
When he finally feels his heart giving up, midway through his seventeenth pregnancy – triplets, for the first and last time – he will smile as the darkness closes over him.
It will be over, at last.