Author : Debbie Mac Rory
The thing shrieked like a badly tuned violin.
â€œItâ€™s been making those sounds for days nowâ€, the woman said. The white-robed man nodded absentmindedly; he was unable to tear his eyes away from the creature on the examining table.
A lumpy looking creature with gray-brown skin which was strangely cold and gravelly to the touch lay there, three of its six legs pushed weakly against the stainless steel surface of the examining table.
â€œI… em… well, you see… eh…â€
The woman nodded her understanding and bent down to speak to the young boy at her side, whose attention had been given solely to the animal before him.
â€œPeter, why donâ€™t you step outside for a moment? Mommy and the animal doctor need to talk about grown-up thingsâ€.
The small boy nodded his head slowly, and reached out to stroke the small creature. His mother gave him a moment or two, then ushered him out into the waiting room. Taking a deep breath, Will prepared to explain what he could.
â€œYou see, Mrs. Langdon, itâ€™s just.. I canâ€™t really do anything. Iâ€™m not a vet, Iâ€™m a xenobiologist-â€
â€œOh I knowâ€, Mrs. Langdon interrupted. â€œBut weâ€™d already tried our zone doctor, and she was the one who suggested we come to youâ€.
Will nodded, letting his gaze stray back to the animal for a moment. He could swear that some of the spots of its back were turned towards him, listening as he condemned it to leave once more without aid.
â€œMrs. Langdon, there is nothing I can do. To be honest, I was surprised when we heard the announcement telling us that the base was going to be accepting colonists and even family units, so early in its launch. Weâ€™re just not equipped yet to deal with it all. Thatâ€ he swung an arm to point at the table, â€œis not even something Iâ€™ve encountered before, and my whole purpose of being here is to catalogue the native faunaâ€.
Mrs. Langdon nodded. â€œI just donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m going to tell Peter, heâ€™s gotten so attached to the wee thing. I.. I donâ€™t suppose I could say that youâ€™ve kept it in for tests? Maybe thatâ€™d give his father a chance to catch another oneâ€.
â€œCertainly, Mrs. Langdon, thatâ€™s no problem at allâ€
Will shook Mrs. Langdonâ€™s hand, and showed her to the door, closing it again on the beginning of her explanations on â€œspecial testsâ€ that Spot â€“ he shuddered, he simply wasnâ€™t able to think of that thing as a pet, especially not one that shared a name with a dog heâ€™d long since left behind â€“ was going to need.
Returning to the table, he stood looking down at the animal. With a speed and agility that belied both its shape and apparent illness, the animal lunged for Willâ€™s hand. Will leaped back, clutching the hand that had only barely retained all its fingers to his chest.
â€œVicious little bugger…â€
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