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1-The MOON & Stars!

2-Winter Kill

3-Deadly Counter-Attack!

4-Angel Of Mercy

5-Love Blooms!

6-Intimate Revelations

7-Season's Greetings

8-Revenge Backfires!

9-A Double Proposal

10-Stacey's Awakening

11-Merry Christmas!

12-Hawaiian Escape

13-Wedding Arrangements

14-Blessings Of Pele - The Fire Goddess!

15-Stacey's Double Rescue

16-Vince's Cabin Explodes!

17-Damage Survey, Then Florida Bound

18-Settling In New Surroundings

19-Midnight Beach Liaison

20-Another Explosion!/Altered Plans

21-Stacey's Debut

22-Poisoned Kittens!

23-Moon Kills A Student And Vanishes!

24-Stacey Initiates The FBI

25-New Evidence

26-Vindication Of The Madness!

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Moon Madness - 24, Copyrightę 2001-2006 By
Larry K. Hockman, "All RIGHTS RESERVED"

Stacey Initiates The FBI

The trip in the chopper back to Texas took place with little conversation, as nobody cared to talk openly about the case, despite Shawn's futile efforts to be pleasant in the aftermath of his last confrontation with Stacey. He could sense through his psychological profile training that she knew far more than she was telling and this trip was somehow connected with Moon's disappearance. He decided to bide his time and not push the issue for fear of spooking her.

Meanwhile, back in Florida, the investigation continued to no avail. The mystery car could not be located, the victim "student" was not registered with any school, and nobody but the one girl in the tapes had seen him more than once or twice at the institute. She stuck fast to the story that they had only dated once or twice, she knew only his first name was Dan, and he always took a cab wherever he went, claiming his car was in the shop for repairs. The FBI referred to him only as the "Victim." No one had come forward to even claim the body.

Chief Dalhart was waiting at Tyler's airport when Rex landed to get firsthand details from Stacey concerning her request. She was more than glad to see him, asking discreetly if he could possibly drive her and Rex to her aunt's house to separate them from the agent escorts. She would explain herself in the privacy of his patrol car. He arranged the favor in short order while Shawn was busy checking in with his superiors.

The radio in the car crackled with Shawn's voice demanding that the chief pull over before they turned onto the highway! Stacey begged him not to until he heard what she had to say. He handled the situation as tactfully as he could, "The gentleman in the car behind had best refrain from unauthorized use of my officer's radio. They have orders to follow me wherever I take Miss Holden and she will never be out of your sight. This is my jurisdiction you're in now, Mr. Fed, and I don't appreciate you trying to interrupt my conversation with my old friends. Code 93, Over and out!" He then reached down and turned off the switch as the protest started on the airwaves.

Taking a deep breath, he let it out slowly and confided, "This better be good, Stacey, 'cause I just put my job on the line!"

Stacey explained as fast as she could that she knew her mother had brought Moon to Texas. There was evidence at Vince's old cabin site that only Moon and Anna knew about which could probably prove the man he had killed was the bomber, but Anna didn't know where to look for it. Only Moon knew where to find it, and she wanted to get it on film as evidence to prove it came from the original bombsite. Vince and Anna were on their way here, but she didn't know if they can get here in time to be of any help. If word gets out that Moon was back in this area, every varmint hunter in the state would be crawling through the woods hoping to collect that bounty on him, and not even Chief Dalhart would be able to stop the needless slaughter of animals, and probably people as well, when they all started shootin' at anything that moved!

Stacey had tears in her eyes when she added that it was her ass on the wire instead of his 'cause the guys in the car following them had already threatened her with a multitude of charges and could make several stick when they figured out she was withholding information pertaining to a federal investigation. With great personal conviction, she added that she knew Moon would turn himself in peacefully whenever he got what he was looking for, and she would, too, if that were the case! Chief Dalhart handed her his handkerchief with the question, "You're pretty damn sure of all this, aren't you?"

Stacey told him straight out, "I'm betting my entire life and career on it! If it wasn't for Moon, I wouldn't have either, right now. Vince and Anna would be dead as well. He has saved all of our lives and possibly hundreds more since the man he killed clearly did not care how many innocent bystanders got in his way! Moon deserves a chance to clear himself and I intend to see that he gets it. I owe him more than I can ever repay, even if it costs me my life! If they try to kill him, they'll have to go through me, first!"

The chief chuckled before he spoke, "Well, young lady, you're in luck, cause I don't intend to let that happen! I never have liked the feds messin' in hometown business, an' there's nothin' I would like better than to have my department come up with some evidence they overlooked! I don't think it would be wise for you to go out to the old cabin site, though. It would only serve to incriminate you further. Can anyone else operate your camera equipment?"

Stacey looked distraught at the question, but then smiled, "I've got one regular video camera in the chopper that I modified to take a starlight scope for night filming! Anybody who can use a video camera can operate it. The scope screws right onto the lens with its own special viewfinder and turns the night to day. There are enough battery packs to last three full nights at least! The scope is in the same bag with the camera. You can't miss it 'cause the light collector resembles a big funnel sitting on top of it."

The chief laughed, "Sounds like we got most of our little problem solved. Anything else I need to know or do before I drop you off at your aunt's house? We've already passed it three times and I would imagine the boys behind us are a might peeved!"

Stacey thought a moment, then asked, "Is there any way I can talk to my mother without the feds listening to find out about Moon? I might be able to predict when he might show up out there if I know how far away he is?"

The chief laughed again, "As a matter of fact, there is. Something me and the boys cooked up when this thing first started and the big leaguers kinda took things over. When I said Code 93 at the airport, it meant that I would only talk on channel 39 of a regular CB radio. They'll be listening for it at the station and can patch through the call. I've even got a desk microphone so all you have to do is talk! They will never know anything behind us." He flipped a switch under the dash and the static of a hidden radio revealed its presence.

The chief never looked down and simply said, "Mable, are you on line, Darling?" A reply came immediately, "I got you loud and clear!" He told the voice to arrange the call. In a minute Stacey had found out that her mother had sewn up the wound on Moon's head as best she could and then had taken him to Dr. Allman's personal residence because he was so weak from loss of blood. He had assured her that he could take care of the rest of his problems without anyone being the wiser. The doctor had called earlier to say that Moon had regained his strength quickly after a transfusion. He ate well, meowed a good-bye and a thank-you, and headed into the woods toward the river.

Stacey calculated a minute, "He's roughly 40 miles from the site since he'll have to skirt the edge of the lake to follow the river route. I'd say he will travel half of that each night and hunt, sleep, and hide during the daylight hours. My best educated guess says he will show up between 3:00AM and dawn tomorrow night. You'll need this, too. Otherwise, he will see you and smell you long before you ever know he's there and simply wait on you to leave before he comes into the open. If he smell's my scent on the premises, he'll not be as cautious and know its safe."

Stacey reached up the sleeves of her blouse, stretched her bra straps over her elbows, unsnapped the catch, and pulled the garment out the bottom of her shirt. Rex protested slightly, but she hushed him up with the explanation, "Love, I can't very well give him my shirt, now, can I?" She handed it to the chief with instructions for whoever was there to do the filming to drag it all the way around the perimeter, then hang it in a tree in the center so Moon could catch the scent regardless of which way the wind happened to be blowing that night.

The chief told her he was going out there personally, since Moon already knew him as a friend. No one but them would know of the plan for everyone's protection. As the car pulled into her aunt's driveway, Stacey thanked him, shook his hand, and wished him good luck, telling him also that she knew Vince and Anna would appreciate his efforts greatly. He smiled and told her not to worry. He would get in touch some way to let her know of his success or failure.

Crip slipped out the door to greet Stacey as her aunt and mother headed off Shawn and his partner at the front porch to effectively squelch any repercussions from their frustration of following Chief Dalhart, Stacey, and Rex, offering them coffee and fresh, southern, made-from-scratch apple pie and home-made peach ice cream. Meanwhile, Stacey and Rex retreated to the back bedroom to phone Vera.

Vera told Stacey all hell was breaking loose back in Florida! Animal rights groups were defending the institute against human rights groups. The confrontations had escalated to riot proportions several times, the local police were there constantly trying their best to keep things under control, and all classes had been temporarily suspended until the matter was solved, . . once, and for all. Moon had been receiving mountains of mail, both good and bad. On the bright side of things, she had heard from Vince and Anna.

Anna had told Vera to relay the message word-for-word, "Keep your chin up and go with what you know in your heart is right. We share your grief for the kittens. Do not blame yourself. There is no way anyone could have foreseen their demise. Vince has respectfully requested that they be buried on his old cabin site beside their grandmother and his sister. We're behind you all the way. You've handled the situation as well as possible, under the circumstances. Our PR people will handle the media and our lawyers can handle any possible charges. Try to keep your personal feelings separate from your business expertise. Be careful. Your "gift" grows stronger every day from the information gathered by my sources. Trust it, but don't trust the rest of the world with the revelation. Pay attention to the echoes. I talked to Chief Dalhart. He has full confidence in you. Should something happen before we get there, he will follow through with whatever steps are necessary to get the information to the proper authorities and keep Moon from harm until he can be cleared. The echoes from Moon can tell the chief what he needs to find the evidence. Listen carefully. By the way, in case you haven't heard, with all the commotion going on, You aced all of your finals at school! You've got the highest grade-point average ever and they've named you Valedictorian! Congratulations. We're proud of you. Make a good speech for your peers. Now, you have some credentials. At the rate you are going, pretty soon they'll be calling you "Doctor Holden" and wanting me to retire! Don't laugh. It may come sooner than you think, 'cause just between you, me, and Vera, I think I'm pregnant, and may be taking a maternity leave soon! Vince doesn't know yet, so don't let on till I'm sure. Congratulations on your own engagement! Midnight told me! Rex is a fine man. Midnight misses you terribly and wished you could have been there for his release, but understands. He is both sad and happy at the same time, happy to be free, but sad that you are not around. Bittersweet, but so it is in our business. He is looking forward to your first visit to Africa. He didn't waste any time establishing his territory. He's already rousted the dominant male in the area and has a mate! You did the right thing. He loves you for it. I hear my house is back in one piece again. Thanks to you and Vera, both. We will probably put it on the market, soon. Vince and I have just about decided to buy that island in the edge of the Okeechobee swamp we've been looking at and he's been offered a job as Head Ranger over the park. I hope he takes it. It's what makes him who he is. Well, guess I'd better go so I can make doubly sure I'm pregnant! We love you. Spare no expense to insure Moon's safety. Love, Anna and Vince."

Stacey thanked Vera for the news and for holding the fort down in her absence. She was in tears when she hung up the phone. Concerned, Rex asked, "What's wrong, Love? Was Anna mad?" Stacey laughed and cried at the same time, reaching for Rex and asking him to just hold her a minute before she explained, "Quite the contrary, Love. I thought I was screwing up, but it seems that somehow I've done everything right! Anna gave me the go-ahead on anything I felt was necessary to insure Moon's safety and to spare no expense! She also congratulated us on our engagement!"

Rex was puzzled at the statement and asked, "How in the Hell could she have known about that?" Stacey grinned and said, "Think about it, Love. What's the one main thing Anna and I have in common?" He joked, "Money, power, and beauty?"

Stacey took him seriously for the moment, "No, Silly! Think!" Rex told her to chill out and give him some credit, since he was only joking. She wanted proof, "Well, what then?" He laughed, grabbed her and threw her gently onto the bed, pinning her like a wrestler, "Cats, Love!" Midnight told her. He's the only one that knew!"

Stacey kissed him passionately and professed, "I should have known you were just toying with me. I hope you realize that you are the only man on this earth that could have gotten away with that!" Rex only smiled with the confession, "Lucky me!"

The couple emerged from the bedroom with the scarlet flush of young, innocent love on their faces only to be brought down by a facetious statement by Shawn as he casually took an earphone from his ear and stuck it in his pocket, "How touching. Valedictorian, engaged, a pregnant boss, and think you've got the world by the nuts!"

Stacey's response was immediate and volatile, "You bastard! You listened to everything!" She drew back to slap him, but Rex grabbed her with the explanation, "It's not worth it, Love. He's just an asshole! That's why he's a Fed."

Shawn had instinctively reached for his gun in defense when Stacey initiated the act of aggression. Rex got between them and told Shawn, "Throw down that gun and badge, you jealous sucker, and I'll kick your federal ass all over Texas if you so much as ever look twice at her in that tone of face ever again!"

Shawn's partner grabbed him, "Don't screw up, and make this personal so I have to testify against you!"

Shawn was clearly upset at having been put in his place. He retorted, "Pack your bags, Miss Priss, 'cause within the hour, I'll have a court order for your return to Florida to positively identify one cat named Moon, who is wanted by various authorities for the murder of an innocent man!"

Stacey tried to intervene, but Shawn cut her off, taunting, "Yea, they've caught your rogue cat. He was randomly killing chickens just for fun on a truck in Mississippi bound for Texas. The security guard that grazed him and the girl in the video tapes has already identified him, but they want your positive ID before they put him to death!"

Stacey turned to Rex and whispered, "Its not Moon. I can feel it!"

Shawn interrupted, "Quit whispering, 'cause you, Mr. Bad Flyboy, are gonna take us there just as soon as the order comes through in that high-dollar chopper you think is your personal toy!"

Rex backlashed the rude statement, "I've got news for you, Fed! You can't make me or that chopper go anywhere I don't want to go!"

Shawn thought he had the upper hand with his arrogant reply, "You might want to reconsider if the alternative is Miss Holden riding handcuffed to me in the back seat of a car all the way there!"

Before Rex had time to retaliate, Stacey stepped between the men, trying to calm Rex down before he did something rash in her defense. She turned her back to Shawn and winked at Rex as she spoke, "It's OK, Love. We'll need the chopper back in Florida, anyway. Anna and Vince will be here in the Horizon, soon, and they can handle things here." A devious little grin spread across her face as she leaned close enough to kiss him on the cheek and whispered, "Show them how you used to fly in Viet Nam all the way back, Mr. Bad Flyboy, and they'll regret this incident!"

The suggestion worked a minor miracle on Rex's attitude. He even managed to force a smile when he shallowly apologized to Shawn, "I'm sorry gentlemen. Stacey is right even though she is pulling rank on me. We're all adults here and there is no need to squabble. I'd be happy to pilot the trip back; however, it will have to wait till morning after we've all rested up. Besides, it is getting dark outside and night flying is no fun in this part of the country. It'll be much safer in the morning. Agreed?" He extended his hand to Shawn, who took it in good faith and said the arrangement was fine with him. He and the other agent would get a motel in town and be back out at dawn. Stacey's aunt invited them for a country breakfast when they returned. Stacey shut the door behind them, exclaiming, "Finally! I figured they would camp out in the driveway. Now, maybe we can visit in peace."

Rex, Stacey, her mother and aunt chatted casually a couple of hours before Rex and Stacey formally announced their engagement. Rex was accepted into his future family with Stacey's mothers blessing and open arms. Soon after, the two elderly ladies said they were going to bed and suggested that Rex and Stacey retreat to the porch swing on the breezeway while they got the guest room and the spare bedroom in sleeping order. Stacey's mother said she would sleep with her sister so everyone could be comfortable.

Rex and Stacey discussed plans of their future till midnight in the quaint old swing. The faint squeak of the chains seemed to soothe and erase all of the day's tensions and instill a sense of homely tranquillity into one's very soul. As bad as he hated to, Rex finally suggested that they had better get some sleep for the coming day. He needed to be sharp and rested for the type of flying Stacey had suggested. He kissed her goodnight and as they parted for separate bedrooms told her he loved her and would miss her till morning. She simply smiled and said the feeling was mutual. Rex cautioned her to eat light at breakfast. She smiled slyly and winked as she shut the door, well aware of what he meant. Each slept soundly, dreaming of the other.

Stacey's mother came in and woke her a half hour before daylight. She dressed quickly and crept into Rex's room to wake him with a tender kiss, then left for the kitchen so he could dress. She was busy helping her mother and aunt when he got through shaving and strolled into the kitchen, the savory scent of bacon, eggs, sausage, gravy, buttermilk biscuits, and fresh coffee all blended tantalizingly together in the room. Stacey greeted him cheerfully with a cup of coffee and a good morning kiss. The doorbell rang just as the sun started peeking over the horizon and Rex was asking if there was anything he could do to help with breakfast. Stacey's aunt told him they were about through in the kitchen, but he could let their agent friends in while they set the table. Stacey grinned, joking, "Be nice, Love!"

Back in the kitchen Stacey asked her mother and aunt to really load up the two agents at breakfast and quickly explained what her and Rex's intentions were so they wouldn't inadvertently spoil the situation when they noticed that she and Rex were more or less nibbling at the food. Stacey's mother turned to her sister laughing with the comment, "She gets that devious streak from you, Sis!" Sis was quick to defend herself, "Well, Little Sister, sometimes it is necessary to put the fear of God back into someone to take the rudeness out of 'em! Sure will be a waste of good cookin', though."

The men were all seated when the ladies brought in the food. Pleasant conversation made the meal enjoyable for everyone. No mention of the case was ever made. The two agents ate till they couldn't take another bite! Shawn commented that he hadn't had a meal as good as that since the last time he had seen his mother. His partner added that it sure beat the restaurant food they were used to. Crip got her fill of the left-overs while Stacey told the men that they would have to wait to leave until the table was cleaned off and she helped wash the dishes. They said it was no problem with them and thanked the ladies for the fine meal before going out on the breezeway for a smoke.

Stacey stopped Rex as he followed them out to ask him to take a slow tour down the river and around Lake Palestine to see if she could pick up Moon's whereabouts on their way out. He assured her that it would be no problem, but to squeeze his hand when and if she felt something, and then be prepared to rock and roll when they turned back towards Florida. She pecked him on the cheek and he went out with the other men for a smoke, himself.

A half hour had passed when Stacey joined the men for a smoke, explaining that her aunt suffered from chronic bronchitis and didn't allow anyone to smoke in the house. Crip emerged through a small hole in the screen door and jumped up on her lap when she sat in the swing with Rex. She stroked the cat several times and confessed, "Yea, I missed you, too, but I want you to stay with Mom. Maybe you can ride back with Vince and Anna. They'll be here, soon." Crip stretched up to nuzzle her cheek, purring loudly, signaling she was content with the arrangement.

Stacey finished her cigarette and asked if everyone was ready for the trip back, saying that she only needed to say her good-byes and she would be ready. Surprisingly, Shawn asked her to extend their thanks once again for her aunt's southern hospitality.

Rex called the airport to make sure the helicopter had been serviced and fueled. Airport personnel were towing it out of the hangar when they arrived. Rex performed his own normal pre-flight check of the craft. The agents had already boarded and Stacey took advantage of the opportunity to assist Rex so they could discuss last-minute strategy in private.

Rex told Stacey he wanted her in the extra flight suit. She could use the excuse that she was acting as co-pilot if any questions should arise, explaining that the pure oxygen supply available with the suit would aptly negate any signs of air sickness if they should occur.

Stacey did not protest, but reminded, "Love, this was my idea to begin with and if I didn't think I could handle it, I would have never brought it up."

Rex acknowledged the statement, but countered, "Love, you know I have full confidence in your adverse flying abilities, but I want you in the suit in case we encounter unforeseen difficulties. Hell, anybody would be a fool to doubt the abilities of someone who would jump at night into the aftermath of a volcanic eruption out of a stalling jet!" Stacey confessed, "Thanks for the confidence, Love, but I've got a pocket full of Dramamine just in case!" The flight check completed, they slipped into the suits and boarded.

Stacey slipped expertly into the role as co-pilot, executing start-up procedures as Rex called them out verbally. He let the engines idle a full five minutes for warm-up, got clearance for take-off and gracefully lifted off without so much as a shudder. He swung the craft around and headed off in the direction of the river.

Shawn protested immediately, "This isn't the way to Florida!" Rex consoled him, "I know. We just thought you two might like a twenty minute tour of this beautiful country, the river and Lake Palestine while we're here. We can make up for the delay easily on the way back." Shawn answered, "I guess that would be OK. I've never seen this from the air." His voice suddenly took on a stern tone, "We need to get to Florida ASAP after we pass the lake. I want you to let this toy out of its cage when we turn back east!" It was just what Rex wanted to hear. He grinned at Stacey and stated his compliance with the request, "You got it, Mr. Agent Man. Nothing but the best and the fastest for the federal government!"

Throughout the leisurely cruise, Stacey and Rex explained the terrain they were flying over like tour guides fishing for a good tip. They flew the length of the river to the lake and the around its western perimeter to the dam, past the spillway and on down the river for perhaps a mile before Stacey smiled and reached over to squeeze Rex's hand. Moon was below them in the woods somewhere, just as she had predicted! Rex banked the chopper sharply to the left, announcing, "That's about all there is to see, gentlemen, besides the east side of the lake." Shawn made a drastic mistake with his next request, "Can't you get a little more speed out of this crate?"

Rex grinned at Stacey. She knew what was about to happen and fastened her shoulder harness on as Rex instructed, "Please fasten your seat belts, gentlemen. Standard barf bags are on the back of the seats!"

Before the agents could get strapped in, Rex adjusted the cyclic pitch for full forward motion, nailed the throttle and dropped his altitude just past the dam, skimming scarcely ten feet above the water! Shawn tried to lean forward to protest about the time Rex flipped on the switch to activate the jet turbine boost, pinning him to his seat as the chopper gained speed in sync with the whine of the turbine. Rex followed the east shoreline, expertly guiding the craft through every nook and cranny of the broken shoreline. On the tight turns, he reveled in a gut-wrenching pull-up at the last possible second, finishing the turn with a steep, 90 degree bank in the direction he wished to go. Though Stacey had seen a taste of Rex's phenomenal skills with a chopper, even she was not quite prepared for the all-out assault on the agents' sense of well-being. She was ultimately relieved when the lake suddenly disappeared beneath them and Rex initiated a steady ascent to gain altitude in order to clear the cross-country power lines. She seized the short-lived opportunity to steal a glance behind her.

Shawn and his buddy both seemed a little pale at that particular moment, and she wondered if they could actually survive the entire trip at the mercy of Rex's extreme flying skills. The answer came quickly as both men struggled to reach the bags behind the seat, promptly losing her aunt's fine breakfast. She tapped Rex on the wrist and motioned for him to look behind him. He grinned, asking through the headset on his helmet, "Do you think we made our point, Love?" She replied, "I would say so. Let's cruise fast, but level, and see if they recover enough for a second round."

Their answer came in the form of a direct apology from Shawn, "I'm truly sorry about last night, if that is what you're pissed about! I guess we deserved that. I was only trying to do my job. I've got to hand it to you, Rex. You got my attention!" He hesitated, his jumbled thoughts coming together in the final conclusion, "Damn! This thing really is just a toy compared to what you like to fly, isn't it?" Rex glanced at Stacey, but declined to answer.

The atmosphere in the cockpit turned a bit more friendly after Shawn broke the ice with his apology. Shawn soon discovered a polite and courteous attitude would net him far more information than arrogance. Before long, he was sure that Stacey already knew the cat in Florida wasn't Moon and she was not about to reveal his whereabouts to anyone. She assured him, though, that Moon would come in of his own accord when he found what he was looking for.

Shawn called ahead when the chopper crossed the Florida state line to avoid any delays in the identification of the mystery cat. An informal hearing would convene the moment they arrived consisting of a judge, a representative of the group offering the reward, the man who captured the animal, Stacey, Rex, and one of their lawyers if they so desired. Shawn would be representing the FBI alongside several state and city officials. None of the media would be allowed at the hearing. Rex was to land directly on the roof of the courthouse to avoid unnecessary confrontations with roving reporters or animal activists. Stacey called Vera to send their best company lawyer to the hearing in case things got out of hand.

Within a half hour, the courthouse came into view. An armed court bailiff waited patiently on the roof to safely escort everyone on board the helicopter to the hearing room. After Rex landed and everyone had gotten out, he introduced himself and politely informed Stacey that her lawyer had arrived a few minutes earlier to oversee the legal proceedings relative to the institute. She thanked him for the message and motioned for him to lead the way inside.

Formal introductions between all involved parties preceded a rap of the judge's gavel for the hearing to come to order. Stacey was called to the front of the room and asked to be seated beside a table where the caged cat would be placed for her examination and subsequent identification. She elected to stand, glaring at the man who sought the reward money. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair, trying desperately to dodge her intimidating stare as the side door opened.

A pair of nervous bailiffs entered the room supporting a wire cage containing the snarling suspect animal. Stacey took only a brief glance at the hapless animal before turning angrily back to the cat's captor with a menacing finger pointing directly at him as she bluntly stated, "You're gonna regret this!" The judge ordered her to contain all comments until after her examination of the cat.

The room fell silent as Stacey talked softly to the cat and extended her hand to allow the feline to catch her scent. As if by magic, the full-grown Canadian lynx instantly ceased snarling and gazed calmly into Stacey's eyes. Even the judge watched in awed silence as she stuck her fingers through the wire and the cat moved forward with a slight limp to tentatively sniff and then affectionately rub his cheek against them! She repositioned her hand to scratch behind the one uninjured ear while she examined the still-bloody gunshot graze which had mangled the other. Still gently scratching the ear, a loud, raspy purr could be heard throughout the confines of the room as Stacey lowered suspicious eyes to focus her attention on the animal's left rear paw. She could feel the cat's anticipation of pain when she touched the slightly swelled skin of the bone directly above the joint of its paw. That feeling alone was enough to convince her the bone was fractured and she was very careful not to cause the animal any additional discomfort while she concluded her examination of the rest of the cat's physique. Stacey stroked the cat gently while talking softly to it to ease the tension and anxiety which she knew it to be feeling. Satisfied that the cat trusted her explicitly, she finally turned to the judge, "Your Honor, I have examined the animal in question thoroughly and am prepared to enlighten the parties within this room with my professional assessment of its identity and physical status on the single condition that I may have a transcript of my statement to help end this outrageous assault on innocent animals."

The judge banged the gavel one time before stating, "Granted, Miss Holden. Please address the statement to the people before you in this room, so that all may hear." Stacey took a deep breath as she pertly spun a precise 180 to face the crowd.


Author's Note: Feel free to copy/paste the text contained herein to build your personal copy of "MOON Madness". As this is COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL by ME, the ORIGINAL AUTHOR, please DO NOT copy for UNAUTHORIZED DISTRIBUTION in any form or fashion. "ALL RIGHTS RETAINED & RESERVED" by Larry K. Hockman! Please don't hesitate to E-Mail me for permission to use my works in the classroom, etc. ThanX for Visitin'! I hope you enjoyed the story and pass it on to your friends. LKH

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