Like most authors this one has more unborn stories in her head than come to fruition in book form.
This is a glimpse of one with the working title "The Superman Protocol".
“No! I know what I said, was saying- we need the vet! The one who performs miracles!”
Major Charles “Chick” Bradley groaned and rolled over in his cot, his body obeying his training even before his mind had agreed that it was a good idea to wake up.
“You save one dog and they never let you live it down,” Chick groaned as he staggered to the folding chair that held his uniform and stepped into his pants. The thought of Sergeant Lobo leaping up to meet him on his scarred legs however brought a smile to his face and by the time the yelling had actually reached his door he had his cover on his head and something approaching a professional attitude on his face.
“Vet! Vet!” The frantic calling was accompanied by a muffled pounding on the fabric of the tent that Chick called home.
Chick felt his emergency bag in his hand, the familiar leather fitting snugly in his palm despite the fact that he couldn’t remember picking it up. He took a deep breath and opened the door.
“Calm down now,” Chick said, sweeping his eyes over the frantic soldier who was standing there with his fist raised for more pounding. Warning bells started going off in his head immediately. “Take me to my patient.” Chick ordered.
He saw relief spread over the young man’s face – how young was this boy? – one marine private. J. Smithe by the name on his uniform as he turned and led the vet through the dim yellow light of the base at night. What was wrong? Something was different from the usually two AM demand that he come and fight off the specter of death by a tear stained warrior. This Smithe wasn’t the usual working dog handler that needed his services, but it wasn’t unusual for the handlers to stay with their injured dogs and send a friend to get him. However anyone who spent enough time with a dog to get as emotionally attached as this man obviously was usually showed signs. But there was no tan fur clinging to Smithe’s trousers. There were no tell-tale claw scratches on the dusty boots. His hands didn’t show the skin healing benefit of stroking the oil laden fur of a dog’s head.
“Which canine unit are you with Private Smithe?” Chick asked as they approached a dust and…oh dear…blood covered Hummer. They were clearly going out. Chick absently touched his chest to confirm that he had put on his flak jacket and found the comforting weight there. There was another marine in the driver’s seat twitching with eagerness to be gone, to go back.
“We’re not,” Smithe blurted out. “We need you for Lieutenant Johnson.”
Chick froze with his hand on the door and steeled his heart with a curse. “No.” He said pulling his hand back.
“Doc,” Smithe interjected.
“No, you need a medic-“ Chick said firmly.
“Johnson is our medic!” Smithe insisted.
“You need another medic,” Chick said with a sigh. How was this even a conversation he had gotten used to?
Smithe stood for a moment in the glare of the spotlights, his jaw working for a moment before he darted forward and grabbed Chick bodily and tossed him into the hummer. Chick cursed as the vehicle tore out of the parking lot, passed the security gate without stopping with a wave from the marine MP manning it, and tore off into the Afghan night.
“Vet Man I swear,” Smithe said from the shotgun position, twisting around to stare at him with a desperate expression as he buckled himself in, “I swear on the honor of the Corps. We do not need a human medic.”
Chick glared at him as he righted himself and clicked his seatbelt home. “Then what am I going out to see?” He asked.
The two marines in front of him exchanged an uneasy glance before the driver turned his attention back to the dark road and Smithe turned to stare at him thoughtfully. The dim lights of the Afghan houses shone in the velvet darkness of the starlit night outside of the rig, giving a dream like quality to the ride. Finally Smithe took a deep breath.
“Bullet wounds,” he said, “And lacerations from getting stuck in something too small for you, so blood loss and maybe burns?”
The marines glanced at each other again and one of those dark smiles passed between them.
“Dislocated joints,” the driver said. “His wi-“
“Yeah his joints are really dislocated,” Smithe cut in hurriedly.
Chick sighed and began to dig through his bag. “That’s not vague at all,” he observed. “And it would probably have been useful to let me gather extra saline solution to counter the bloodloss until we can medivac.”
The driver presumably cursed at him as they rounded a sharp curve but Chick was too mentally busy to heed him as he counted his vials of antibiotics and saline solution.
“What size not-a-human are we talking about?” Chick asked.
The marines exchanged a befuddled look and he swore he could hear the calculations going on somewhere in the air between their two heads.
“More than a horse?” Smithe hazarded.
Chick’s eyebrows raised at that.
“Probably about as much as old man Russo’s prize Chianina bull back home,” the driver tossed out.
The veterinarian narrowed his eyes as his mind summoned the image of the huge cattle. This was making less and less sense.
“If it is going to need to be hospitalized we have a problem,” he pointed out. “My surgery is only set up for dogs and there are no public veterinarian surgeries closer than Badam Bagh. Not that could take a beast like that.”
He saw them flush with fury and bite their lips at the word beast – what was going on here?
“Just get him stabilized and we’ll worry about burning that bridge when we come to it.” Smithe said curtly.
The hummer had left the small settlement behind and was winding into the deeper darkness of an abandoned industrial district. Chick knew the legend. This had been a booming oil town back in the fifties and sixties, then something about a curse, the wells going mysteriously dry, djinn were involved he was sure. Long story short not even the worst of the insurgent cells would stage here making it a favorite patrol for the marines. It was considered the safest place in the country at the moment. Chick shrugged and returned to his bag.
“I don’t have needle gauges that big,” Chick observed. “It’ll take some time to get them through formal channels.”
“What do we have to do for you to get them now?” Smithe asked.
“I have a friend a few miles out of town,” Chick offered. “A businessman with a weakness for fast horses. I saved a prize mare of his a few years back and he is always trying to pay me back. He does have a large animal surgery.”
“You’re a life saver doc,” Smithe muttered with a grin.
Chick’s eyes narrowed as they started to slow down. They were approaching a small flame that glowed and dimmed as if it was being stoked by some sort of bellows. A handful of soldiers crouched alertly around it. The hummer threw up an obscuring cloud of dust as it skidded to a stop. Chick unbuckled and jumped out as Smithe opened the door for him.
“Show me the patient,” He ordered.
His feet crunched on sand covered concrete and the dry scents of the Afghan night were suddenly replaced by something that did not belong here thousands of miles from home. Chick stopped dead as his lungs were filled with the scents that spoke of immense red barns full of hay, brown cows, and time. Overlaying this was the odor of a barbecue grill before the steaks had been laid on. Chick blinked and tried to make what he was looking at come into focus. Smithe was urging him forward. There was what looked like a local Afghan youth tied up against the wall of a nearby shed. The soldiers who were clustered around the fire were looking at him expectantly. The fire itself was coming out of a tube. A tube with teeth. Sharp teeth that looked like they belonged in an Odontoceti but were flattened and serrated. A wide flat tongue was dimpled with thick taste buds. Beyond the flame lay a hunched black form.
“Sweet Mother Ghram,” Chick breathed, eyes wide with shock.
The flame disappeared accompanied by a low groan and Chick shook himself.
“Where is he hurt?” He demanded. “And where is Lt. Johnson?” Though a small part of him was afraid he already knew the answer.”
“That is the lieutenant man!” a voice with a thick upper-middle class accent called out from the trussed Afghan. “They warned me but I wouldn’t listen, man! Oh man the curse is gonna get me so bad man. I-”
“Shut it!” One of the soldiers snapped out. “He took about half a clip from an AK-47 doc. But I think that his flack vest messed him up worse when he changed with it on.”
Some part of Chick’s brain was arguing (in the voice of his freshman BIO 320 professor) that this was utterly ridicules and he was being punked) but he was a vet and there was an injured animal in front of him. Meanwhile the rest of his brain was rapidly producing a vision of a human body in full combat gear expanding into what he saw in front of him. Johnson they said. A medic –
“The tourniquets!” Chick snapped out suddenly yanking a scalpel out of its sheath.
“What?” Smithe asked over another groan from the dragon. It was a dragon. He was a dragon.
“Medics wear one or two tourniquets on each limb,” Chick barked out. “Vets do it to sometimes. Was Johnson wearing them when this happened and did you get them off?”
The soldiers cursed and then moved as one, all but one shouldered their guns and begin trying to pull limbs out from the huddle of black flesh.
“Come on Johnson,” one of them coaxed. “Let us fix your legs buddy.”
Chick joined a soldier at the right foreleg, his scalpel poised to free the constricted vessels when the dim light of his headlamp was joined by a golden glow. He turned his head and looked into two glowing, pained, human eyes.
Chick smiled confidently as he had learned to do facing down two ton bulls on his daddy’s ranch. However the turmoil in his brain finally spilled over into his mouth.
“Don’t you worry Johnson,” he said. “I don’t believe much in curses. Your parents probably just never got around to telling you, you were adopted.”
He couldn’t decide if the eyes narrowing in anger was a good thing or a bad thing.