In The Name of Lynch

-Creature Comforts-

Bryce had grown up in the city, and had been locked in a world of technology from the day he'd turned ten. As he had never been beyond the Fringes near London before these events, he was finding the countryside to be a nice change of scenery.

Sadie had given Bryce an extra blanket and quilt before going to bed. It was in the corner of the guest room right now. It was for the next evening, not this one. This even he would enjoy the comforts of the guest room for one more night before being relegated to the barn as had been agreed upon.

Bryce knew that his new sleeping arrangements were nobody's fault but his own. He recognized now that he should've asked Sadie's permission first. But he had been in too much of a rush to get everyone together to think of such things. Still, he didn't think it would be too much of a problem for him to sleep in the barn. It couldn't be much colder than his cryo unit had been, or than the thermal testing chamber he had been in at Security Systems.

At around eleven the next morning, Edison arrived with his wife Vanna.

"Murray's in town," he told Bryce after he'd put the suitcases in the guest room. "I admit I was rather surprised to hear that you'd awoken from your slumber of twenty something years."

"I wasn't planning on it at first," Bryce replied. "But circumstances demanded it."

"Which circumstances were those?" Vanna asked.

"A pregnant cow," Bryce replied. "Oliver wouldn't leave here on her account. So I had to come here. And since bringing a cryogenic unit from England to Tasmania is out of the question, I had no choice but to awaken and come here myself."

"It must be odd to be still a teenager when your children are in their mid twenties," Edison observed.

"It is a bit pecuiliar," NBRyce admitted.

"Bryce," Jenny said as she walked in. "Your daughter Claire just arrived from the Orkneys."

With a smile Bryce replied, "I'll go see her. Edison, will you be okay?"

"I think I can find my around," Edison assured him.

Bryce went out to the kitchen to meet his daughter. She was standing there talking to Sadie. She was a petite woman, just three inches over five feet. Standing beside her in a pretty pink dress with yellow flowers was a little child. Bryce wondered who the little girl was.

"Mommy," the child said, tugging at Claire's brown and blue skirt. "Mommy. Boy."

Claire looked up and saw Bryce. "Hello?"

"Claire Ballantyne," Bryce inquired. When she nodded he continued. "I'm Bryce Lynch."

"You're...?" Claire asked, rather astonished. "I'm sorry. I expected you to be older. I mean I'd heard that... But..."

"It's okay," Bryce smiled. "I understand."

"How old are you?" Claire asked.

"Chronologically I'm in my forties. But Physically I'm seventeen."

Claire smiled down at the child. "That makes you the world's youngest grandpa, then," she told Bryce. "This is Charlotte. She's your granddaughter."

Bryce stumbled into a chair. A grandfather at seventeen! He could scarcely believe it!

"You okay there, grandad?" Edison laughed.

"I think so," Bryce said, agreeably. "I just wasn't fully prepared for this. I suppose I should've realized this was a possibility."

"Charlotte," Claire told her daughter, "Say hellow to Bryce Lynch. He's your grampa."

"How come he doesn't have white hair like Grampa Steve?" Charlotte demanded. She went over to Bryce. "Do you put that stuff in your hair?"

"She's his granddaughter all right," said Murray who had arrived, unnoticed, five minutes earlier.

"Nope, I'm just young," Bryce told Charlotte. Looking in Murray's direction, he added. "Nice to see you again."

"Sadie told me the sleeping arrangements," Murray replied. "I explained that there would be another coming, so I'll join you out in the barn."

"You didn't have to," Bryce pointed out.

"Well, since you never resigned from Network 23, you're still a part of my team," Murray pointed out. "That makes you my responsibility. Besides, you might need my help."

"I know how to sleep. I've had years of practice."

"True," Murray agreed. "But I was thinking of the reason you're here instead of at Network 23 today."

"You mean Mattie," Bryce said, recalling the cow who had managed to force him to rework his plans.

Bryce hoped that night as he tried to get comfortable lying on top of a bale of hay covered with a quilt with a blanket atop him, that Mattie would not go into labor that night.

"It's funny to see everyone so much older," he told Murray "Cryo sleep is weird when it comes to time. You're aware of how much time passes in a way, but you're asleep, so your mind thinks in terms of dream-time. You expect it to really be only ten or fifteen seconds that have passed."

"Fascinating," Murray yawned. "We'll ponder that in the morning."

Mattie obliged Bryce's hopes that she would not start giving birth that night by waiting until two in the morning.

"Go to the house and wake Ms. Eccleston," Murray told Bryce.

"And get my head bitten off?" Bryce shook his head.

"Okay, wait here. I'll go get her," Murray said. He ran toward the house.

"What do I do in the meantime?" Bryce called out to him.

"Try not to faint!" Murray called back.

"That wasn't very helpful," Bryce pouted. Going to Mattie's head, he knelt beside her. "Look. This is a first for both of us. So I'm afraid I won't be all that helpful." He stroked her head , hoping it was the right thing to do.

Mattie mooed in extreme discomfort, but seemed a little calmer.

"How is she?" Sadie asked as she and Oliver joined Bryce.

"Hard to say," Bryce admitted. "I don't know the first thing about this sort of stuff."

"Well, you're doing fine with her so far," Sadie told him.

"I'm just talking to her," Bryce pointed out.

"That is exactly the right thing to do," Saide explained. Then she frowned. "Oh dear."

"What is it?"

"I think," Sadie felt the bump that was the baby cow. "I was afraid of that. It's a breech. The wrong way. We can get her out, but Bryce, you're going to have to reach in there and pull the calf's legs into the birth canal."

"Me?" Bryce asked, nearly in a state of panic. That had to be the oddest thing anyone had ever asked him to do.

"This is her first calving, so she's too narrow for either me or Oliver to do it. Don't worry, I'll talk you through it. Oliver, go back to the house and called Dr. Leon."

Oliver hurried up to the house while Sadie crouched down beside Bryce.

"This is completely unlike everything I've ever done in my life," Bryce remarked.

"I'm pleased that I am able to offer you a truly unique experience," Sadie replied. "Now," she said, holding Mattie's legs so she wouldn't kick Bryce. "All you need to do is reach up into the birth canal," she guided one of his hands to the requested location. "You'll need to use both hands."

Bryce did so, feeling extremely weirded out by the experience.

"Do you feel the calf's legs?"

"Yes." Bryce nodded.

"Grab them near the hooves and pull them straight. Don't worry about breaking one. That can be mended later. We have to get the calf out or both it and Mattie will die."

"And that did not put any extra burden on me," Bryce muttered as he pulled at the legs of the calf that was struggling to be born. "They're straight."

"Good," Sadie said as Oliver arrived with Doctor Leon. She turned to the doctor. "Breech."

"Who's the kid?" Doctor Leon asked.

"Tricky to explain," Sadie replied.

"Okay, kiddo," Doctor Leon told Bryce. "You need to pull the calf until the hips are past the opening to the birth canal. I can take care of things from there. Just keep pulling the calf. A little bit faster."

Bryce picked up the pace, wondering as he did so what his former classmates would think if they saw this.

Once the hips were out, Doctor Leon took over while Bryce wiped off the blood and birth fluids off with a nearby towel and went back over to Mattie's head and resumed stroking her as he'd been doing before.

Once the little calf, a girl, was finally out, Doctor Leon turned to Bryce. "Not a bad job, Mr. Inexplicable."

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