All eyes were on Jacob Czecha and his paled wife Ashley. Jacob smiled dimly at the blank faces that stared back as he led her slowly toward the Threshold Rejuvenation Clinic's entrance. "How are you? Nice to see you," the balding, paunchy Jacob said with an uneasy nod to no one in particular. He understood the couple's presence here would be viewed cautiously. In the picture window he spied a young blonde woman gazing at the throngs of fresh faced, bright-eyed humanity assembling on the premises. "Oh my God," Ashley screamed and buckled over. Gasps and grunts echoed across the walkway as the emotionless faces turned disturbed. Jacob seized her shoulders to hold her steady. The bright-eyed, people stepped back as the silence turned into a dull roar. "You're okay, love," Jacob said as he tried to soothe her. His eyes darted swiftly between the swelling crowd, the woman in the window and his suffering spouse. "We're almost there. Breathe deeply. Relax" "The contractions come more quickly," Ashley cried. Her eyes welled with tears with each kick inside her womb. "Get me inside now or I'll have him right here." The jittery onlookers burst into an exasperated chorus of: "No...you mustn't. Please, not now. My God what shall we do?" Jacob chuckled wanly to ease the tension of the crowd, which now ogled the couple's every move. Ashley squealed again, closed her eyes, gritted her teeth and turned skyward. Jacob prodded her toward the door. Inside, the woman from the window shook uncontrollably. Sweat beads formed on her brow. She stood rigidly before her desk and the receptionist sign. "May I be of service?" "Can't you see my wife's having a baby?" Jacob eyed the woman's name badge. Greta. "What do you want me to do about it?" Greta asked as she warily back-stepped toward her desk and into her chair. "We need medical attention," Jacob said as he waved his arm in a circle. "This is a clinic." "A rejuvenation clinic. We don't deliver babies," Greta said coolly as she wiped her hand over her forehead. "We extend lives." "But you have doctors, surgeons, and nurses." Ashley cried again and toppled to her knees. Jacob rushed to his wife's side to comfort her. Greta peered over the edge of her desk and rubbed her teeth along her bottom lip. She knew she had the ability to assist but also appreciated the consequences. "Our malpractice insurance doesn't cover it. A fetus cannot waive liability." She pointed to at the window. "And look at the rabble you've brought with you. I have to ask you to leave." "Help us," Jacob pleaded. Greta saw the worry in their eyes and tried a new tact. "How old are you?" "I'm 149. She's 143, three times rejuvenated," Jacob said irritably. "What does it matter?" "This is my second," Greta said with a weak smile. "Why weren't you tied up?" Ashley spat, "Dammit." She tightened her grip around her burgeoning abdomen and rocked on her knees. Greta cocked her head and fought the urge to jump up. "You're Nats," Greta said with a smirk. "We prefer Natural Lifers," Jacob said stiffly. "Whatever," Greta said. "Use your own clinic. They're insured." "It's a half hour away," Jacob said angrily. "She won't make it." "That's not our problem," Greta said with a huff. She turned her head to her keyboard and tried to look busy. Greta knew her orders but with each scream she found it harder to ignore her inner female instincts. Greta, like billions of others, obtained full cellular, chemical and mind link rejuvenation near the end of the natural cycle. It effectively allowed humans to live forever barring accidents. The Natural Lifers believed in letting biology run its course. "It's abnormal to bring a new life into the world when we have so much now," Greta said, but she wondered if she meant it. A heavy-footed person marched from a back room. The feet belonged to a well-dressed gentleman with brown hair and a beard. He stopped abruptly, slammed his hands to his hips and sneered, "Well?" "Nats, doctor," Greta said as she returned to her mocking tone. He rolled his eyes. "Forget this jabbering," Jacob implored. At that moment moisture seeped onto Ashley's legs. "Her water broke." Greta and the doctor shared fleeting glances. "Do it," the doctor said, "You're a registered nurse." Stunned, Greta frowned. "100 years ago I was." He glared at her. She nodded tersely and sprang forward. You just don't want the heat, she thought. "Hot water, now."
#Three hours later, Ashley rested comfortably in a small room at the Preservation Natural Life Clinic while Jacob snoozed in a large armchair by her bedside. A light knock on the door jarred Jacob awake. He fumbled onto his feet and sauntered over to meet a teary-eyed Greta waiting on the outside. "I was fired," Greta said. Jacob said nothing. "I wanted to know how your new boy was doing." Jacob studied her for a moment. "Fine. Healthy." Jacob motioned for her to come into the room and sit down. "I'm sorry. If it is any consolation, you have our undying gratitude." Greta shrugged. "And his oversized head?" "No behavioral flaws expected," Jacob said. He shook his head to left toward the door. "They think it's due to the rejuvenation injections we take." Greta asked, "Why is that?" "He has incredibly high levels of," Jacob searched for the right words, "C-III proteins, certain enzymes and HLA." "Longevity genes?" Greta said astounded. "Only they occur naturally," Jacob said. "He's like a new human species." Greta tapped her chin absently. "Which would make rejuvenation moot." Jacob held his head proudly, "He could live forever."
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