Halloween, 1998

It was Halloween, 1998, and my wife’s waters had just broken. At first I thought she had just pissed herself, and I laughed, poking fun at her incontinence, but when she started groaning and clutching her engorged stomach shouting “I’m having contractions you awful twat” I remembered she was pregnant.

The Autumnal moon shone brightly upon the tarmac; it’s luminescence illuminating my path as I drove Linda to the hospital in my Peugeot two-hundred and six.

When I arrived at the maternity ward I was shocked to discover the strict adherence of the NHS to fancy dress. Doctors, nurses and all miscellaneous staff were clothed in the gruesome attire of the scariest festive season. There were zombies, headless horsemen and Frankensteinian monsters rushing about the ward, going about their business under the light of handheld torches. Cobwebs stretched from wall to wall and flaming pumpkins sat on desks.

Some of the hospital staff had even dressed up as doctors and nurses, which I thought somewhat a cop out. At least the nurses had tailored their clothes into a more revealing form in order to make it an actual costume.

I thought it all a little inappropriate, but I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s fun. After all, at my work they had just started implementing casual Fridays, meaning we were allowed to wear knitted or otherwise outrageously patterned ties.

A nurse dressed like a post-apocalyptic Florence Nightingale helped my wife in to a wheelchair with skulls on it and took us through to our designated medieval birthing chamber.

The room was dark and lit by candlelight. The hospital bed had been transformed into a kind of sacrificial stone slab. As I helped Linda on to the slab I was assured that it worked in much the same way as a normal bed, and that the sacrificial element was purely decorative. She lay down complaining, as women often do, of severe back pain.

The doctor was made up to look like the Grim Reaper, wearing a full black hooded cloak and complete with a fully-functioning scythe. His latex gloves were black with bones on, so that it looked like his hand was all bony like a real skeleton; of course I could tell the difference.

My wife felt slightly uncomfortable about the concept of her first-born child being born directly into the hands of the harbinger of death. I tried to explain that the doctor was just wearing a simple costume, and was not actually a reaper of souls, but this only made matters worse.

Her anger was broken by the knockings of an infant upon her cervix. Placing her legs in the cast-iron stirrups she commenced the long and arduous miracle of child-birth.

Eventually her vaginal muscles succeeded in producing my son. The doctor cut the umbilical cord with his scythe and handed the child to a nurse dressed like a sexually promiscuous kitten; I felt slightly aroused as she wiped the placenta from my son’s forehead.

The floor then opened up beneath us and a flaming staircase manifested itself, offering passageway into the ninth circle of hell. The doctor took our child and carried him down into the infinite abyss, while Linda screamed and tried to free herself of her stirrups. I laughed and patted her sweaty head, assuring her that our first-born child was not really being condemned to eternal damnation, and that it was just a quirky party piece made from elaborate decoration and highly sophisticated mechanics.

That was over fifteen years ago now, and the midwife still hasn’t given us back our son. I’ve been to a number of Halloween parties since that evening, but all of them have fallen short of the dedication and ability of the staff of St. Mary’s hospital. I go back there every Halloween, hoping to see my teenage son arise from a decorative crypt or papier-mâché graveyard. One day they will bring him back to us, but until then we wait, carving his face into pumpkins and poking his name into cobwebs.