Frightening Conception

Short Story · Possible Cameo with Login


A woman with a surreal sense of reality endeavors to rein in her perceptions of troubling medical conditions in this terrifying sci-fi thriller.

Obstetrics, mental health, and science fiction coalesce, taking on new dimensions, with unimaginable outcomes.

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Contradicting Evidence


Childless McKenzie Macron has had three hysterical pregnancies. None of them were funny. The medical term is pseudocyesis. It’s a psychological state that replicates physical features of pregnancy—without conception. McKenzie imagines she’s in a relationship, experiences the weight gain, breast engorgement, swollen abdomen, and contractions during the third trimester.

That’s when, instead of having her water break, she has a psychotic break. The realization of no fetus is devastating. Doctors try to convince her of this early on, even showing ultrasonic images. But she rebuffs them in the face of symptoms she sees and feels. Her psychosis leads to temporary psychiatric hospital admittance for recovery.

Her neighbor, Colette, is supportive while remaining distant enough to avoid a “friend” designation. She sends a greeting card to the hospital and makes certain junk mail does not pile up while she’s away. When she returns home, Colette drops off a casserole.

Vivid Imagination

After McKenzie recovers, she resumes her single life, with mental disability compensation covering her household expenses. She begins writing science fiction stories, and within months becomes good at it. So she has Colette read one.

“This is very impressive! You have a good imagination. Is this your only story?”

“Thanks,” McKenzie responds, avoiding eye contact. “I’ve written about a dozen so far, since I got back home from—you know where.”

“That’s fantastic,” Collette encourages. “You’re prolific! Do you plan to sell them?”

“Uh, how do I do that?”

“Well, I’m no book publisher, but you should be able to find an agent. I have another idea for quick cash.”

“What’s that?”

“You might ghostwrite stories that you sell through an online portal. Within a few days, you can be up and running with prospects all over the globe.”

“Can you help set that up?”

“I’ve never done it. But I have purchased services from one site that has such options. It should provide a creative outlet for your imagination.”

Colette assists in establishing McKenzie’s presence on Freever online marketplace, with the hope that it will suppress her delusions. With favorable reviews, soon she has a queue of customers for which to write stories.

Encounters of Another Kind

Without a driver’s license, McKenzie uses ride share services for transportation. She wants a new electronic device for writing stories. Online options are overwhelming, so she visits a technology store for assistance.

Happy to have a shiny new gadget in her shopping bag, she arranges a ride share pickup. Without paying complete attention, she scoots into the backseat of a black car that stops in front of her on the curb.

When the driver ignores directions, she attempts to exit, but can’t get past the locked doors. There’s no signal on her phone to call for help. As anxiety overwhelms her warm armpits drenched in perspiration, darkness envelops the vehicle heading toward a rural area.

In the morning, she awakens laying in the center of an elaborate crop circle design, with her last recollection of traveling on unlit roads the prior evening. There’s still no cellular reception. But she has a feature that allows her to send a distress message via satellite.

She leaves the circle, stumbling through the shoulder-high unripe wheat stalks, then a lush green forest, until she finds a road to wait at for assistance. With weak cellphone reception, she phones emergency services to provide an update on her location. A highway patrol officer arrives and drives her home, obtaining her statement of events.

“With a description of the person you say abducted you, we could charge him with kidnapping, if we find him.”

“I never saw his face. Actually, it may be my fault for not paying attention to the car I jumped into. My app indicates that the driver didn’t make contact with me.”

“Are you missing any of your belongings?”

“No. In fact, I still have what I purchased from the store.”

“Okay. It could have been much worse. If you remember anything else, Ms Macron, give us a call. Good day.”

Denying Evidence

Within six weeks, McKenzie begins manifesting signs of more advanced pregnancy. It is frightening to consider going through false conception a fifth time.

To prevent inevitable psychiatric hospitalization, within her mind, she tries to will away the evidence. But in the weeks that follow, her belly grows, along with all the usual symptoms.

McKenzie does not seek neonatal care or venture into the outside world. She locks herself in her home, having food delivered while writing stories until—her water breaks prematurely.

“This is new. I’m actually in labor! The contractions are undeniable. Could this be part of the illusion?” she wonders.

Afraid to phone an ambulance, she endeavors to deliver the baby by herself. Muffling her screams by biting down on a towel, she twists while massaging her belly. A mass slides out, back and forth, providing a short-lived pleasurable sensation. As her birth canal widens, she gives a hard push until what looks like a giant squid begins emerging. The more she pushes, the longer it gets—one meter, two meters, three meters before she’s done.

Whatever this slimy thing is, stands up to cast a shadow over her, looking down with what may be one eye. Then it flattens itself and slithers beneath the back door.

McKenzie can’t believe what just happened, but here she is, laying in a pool of blood and amniotic fluid. It takes all afternoon to get everything clean. The entire experience is nothing she wants to share among her small circle of acquaintances.

Instead, she uses it as the subject of a new story called, Frightening Conception. This surreal adventure she hangs on to, rather than selling it anonymously. But her upside down world is about to take another dramatic turn.


Return twice weekly for miniseries. Any relation to actual persons or events is coincidental. Login provides the most immersive experience. About 2700 total words. Depending on gender, your name might appear within story text (but not audio), unless you request cameo disablement. Visible content is optimized for device size. Audio may include sound effects that alter reading time. More than 6 images within 2 episodes bring this story to life.

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