Chapter 1

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In the few short months that Mark had been a father, he had learned to differentiate between the varying cries of his child.  The soft, rythmic whines of discomfort.  The highs and lows of hunger pangs.  Mark could tell by the sound of his baby's wails almost specifically the emotion the infant was trying to convey. It was a talent that his wife was amazed by, and at times it seemed, jealous of as well.

But the howl that now spewed forth from the tiny, fleshy mass of flailing arms and legs in front of him was a cry Mark had never heard before. It was sharp and shrill and stung the ears. More description about the cry. Though it was a sound completely foreign from the baby's usual cries, it needed no interpretation. Anybody within earshot could tell that this child was in pain.

"Jesus Christ, what did you do now?" Mark's wife, through gritted teeth that held back her anger and panic, called over her shoulder.

The car jumped  as it struck a curb, throwing Mark straight into the ceiling.  In the driver's seat, his wife frantically gripped the steering wheel, trying to get the car back under control.  The car leaped and lurched as it bounced over another curb and back onto the highway at a sharp angle.  The woman jerked the steering wheel to bring the car back to the proper angle, but over corrected, sending it into a fishtail skid on the wet road.  Mark was thrown to first one side of the car, and then another as his wife fought with the steering wheel until miraculously, the jerking stopped and they were safely out of the skid, and back to traveling down the highway.

The woman clutched her chest, her breathing now coming in large labored gasps.  Even the child in the backseat had momentarily stopped crying.  The only sound in the car now was the soft pelting of the rain, the flapping of the windshield wipers, and the hum of the engine. describe the silence.

"Please be careful," Mark whispered from the back seat.  And if as on cue, the baby started screaming again.

He looked down at his child, naked and squirming in agony, and his mind froze. It was Cindy, his wife, who was the thinker, the strong one.  It was Cindy that took charge when the baby had started screaming. It was Cindy who pushed Mark aside, the millions of years of evolution and maternal instincts kicking in and taking over when his own parenting parlor tricks failed him. And it was Cindy who had taken action, gathering up the diaper bag and hastily snatching up the car keys, all while Mark stood in the doorway of the nursery, mouth open, baby bottle dripping warm milk down his hand.

The screaming paused as the baby stopped to fill her lungs, snapping Mark back into focus.  He stared down at the child, still mystified on how to help her.  describe birthmark The skin on her chest and right arm was- and Mark could think of no better word to describe it- boiling. Boiling. He'd never seen anything like it.  He was scared even to touch her, lest he do more harm than good.

"I think I got some cream-" Cindy began, her voice once again that odd mixture of panic and forced calm. She was cut off midsentence, as the child, finally able to gather enough breathe, let loose another volley of high pitched shrieks.

"Jesus!" Cindy cried, her hands clawing at her ears. The car veered to the right, hitting another curb, but the angle was so shallow it only bounced off.  cindy choosing between steering wheel and ears Instinctively Cindy grasped the wheel again, holding it as best she could with one hand.  

 Mark held both of his hands to his temples, pressing his palms hard against his earlobes.  Still, the shrill cries of his child seemed to penetrate directly through his skull.  Mark could feel his brain vibrate, resonating to the same frequency.   describe better His whole head felt as if it were being squeezed, as though he were on a deep underwater dive, the water column trying to force his head to turn inside out.