Vivian pressed her lips together. “I always knew that having a baby was dangerous, but I’m usually in good health and I didn’t think much about it. But last night… last night I dreamed… I didn’t make it. It sounds so strange, dreaming your own death. But I saw it so clearly, Jude and the baby all alone…”-The Illuminator Rising (pg. 92)
Vivian lay wide awake on her bed aboard the Legend, eyes staring blankly up at the ceiling of her bedroom on the ship. She knew she needed sleep, wanted sleep, but she just couldn’t. Vivian never understood how other people could sleep so easily, with the ability to brush off all worries and stress. To not stay up at night, mind whirling with fear and apprehension. And if there was a time to be scared, this was definitely it.
Underground fever had obviously set into her. There was no need for false statements or lies. Everyone aboard the flying ship knew that her condition was getting worse with each passing day. Sometimes the fever would lighten up, but a relapse would come soon. Sure, she acted confident, brushing off questions and offers of help, and she still worked on shelving books in her library, but that was the point. Vivian was acting. And with each day, her facade was slowly crumbling. She knew exactly what could happen. And it was terrifying. Vivian couldn’t remember a time when she had been so ill. Ever since she was young, her parents had always marveled how she had never caught a cold or even had a headache.
Her child was in danger because of her fever. Child. Vivian was a mother and her husband was a father. Tangible, beautiful proof of Jude’s love and loyalty. The ultimate unity of souls. She let out a sigh of love towards her husband that quickly turned into a rasping cough. Vivian could die, and she had never been more terrified. The crew of the Legend faced new dangers every day. Even now, Owen was suffering from a helkath bite in the bedroom just next door. And now the risk had doubled, for if she died, their child would die with her. And Jude… oh, she couldn't even fathom the pain that he could feel if he lost his wife and baby in one blow. Fear spiked within her. It raced up her spine and settled in her gut and brain, refusing to budge. Fear for Jude. Fear for herself. And fear for their unborn baby.
Or perhaps, a tiny, nasty voice that seemed to embody Fear whispered in her mind, or perhaps the baby will be born, but you would die in childbirth. Her heart constricted. She might never see her child. Never hold her perfect son or daughter. And Jude would have to raise their child… alone.
Barely able to choke back a sob, Vivian turned over on her side, hugging her abdomen. She closed her eyes and desperately tried for sleep, for peace. The peaceful darkness of oblivion came to claim her, soothing her mind, and she could almost imagine Jude’s warmth and body enveloping her and their child.
And then everything went wrong instantly. The warmth suddenly melted away in in its place were walls of harsh, freezing cold, unforgiving black ice. Vivian shivered violently.
Suddenly, the scene changed. A faint, imaginary scent of antiseptic hit her senses and she glanced around her. She was standing in a private medical bay next to Jude, who was cradling a bundle of blankets close to his chest. The baby! Vivian craned her neck to see their beloved child, but his small form was blurry and distorted. It was then that she noticed Jude’s face. Silver tears streamed down her husband’s cheeks as he hunched over, a posture of both defeat and grief. His eyes were glazed with pain as he stared at the person on the hospital bed. Vivian’s stomach clenched, and she followed Jude’s gaze.
The body that lay on the bed was… herself. Vivian watched in horrified trepidation as she stared at her dream self lying still on white linen sheets, unmoving and cold. Was it an omen of sorts? A warning of what was to come? Heart racing, she made to turn away, trying to force herself away from the bone-chilling image. As if controlled by an unknown being, Vivian felt her legs moving, bringing her closer to the corpse of herself. No. No! She couldn't look at it any longer. The idea itself was heartbreaking, her worst nightmare; Jude and their child forever alone because of her cursed fever. No! But she couldn’t stop. Vivian’s legs brought her to the edge of the mattress, and she looked down at the still figure splayed out on the blankets in clear sight.
Vivian stared at herself lying on the bed, dressed in black, face turned upwards. Inching closer, she numbly recognized her own hazel eyes staring unseeingly at the ceiling, blank and dull, still pinkish from fever illness. Vivian felt sick; her head spun and sweat poured profusely from her brow as the white room of the hospital faded into nothingness and she awoke with a bloodcurdling scream.