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Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me, no money is being made and no infringement is intended. Hayley and the people in Lesotho are all mine though!!!

Hayley
Prologue
Melanie-Anne


December 24, 1987
Somewhere in the Lesotho mountains

The woman squeezed her eyes shut and pushed hard as the contraction hit. The doctor nodded to himself, comforting the woman as he reminded her to breathe deeply. A man with a cigarette approached the delivery table and the doctor paused in his attentions to glare at him. That was as much as he dared to do.

The woman screamed and, with one final push, released a breath. A few seconds later, the sound of a baby's wail filled the room. The woman propped herself up on her elbows and pushed a sweaty lock of hair out of her face. She looked at the doctor expectantly. He, in turn, looked at the smoking man.

"It's a girl, sir."

"A girl!" The mother's joyous whisper went unnoticed by the men.

"A Christmas child. How fitting. Such a terrible shame her mother died in labor."

The doctor gasped but was too afraid to protest as the man took a syringe filled with a clear liquid and jabbed the needle in the woman's shoulder. She realized what was happening too late and batted ineffectually at his hands.

"Please, doctor . . . help . . ." Her voice faded as her eyes rolled back in her head. She twitched once, twice, and then she was still.

The baby continued crying. Her pink face contorted and she flailed her arms and legs as, on some deep level, she felt the loss. The doctor wiped her clean and wrapped her in a soft yellow blanket.

"Nice work, doctor. You've fulfilled all the obligations of your contract."

The doctor nodded nervously and handed the child to his boss. He didn't see the gun, didn't hear the soft pop of the silencer, didn't realize he was going to die until he felt the sting of the bullet as it pierced his chest. He sank slowly to the ground, his last thought of the little girl he'd just handed to the devil.











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