Moon Madness - 8, Copyrightę 2001-2006 By
Larry K. Hockman, "All RIGHTS RESERVED"
tree lights maintained a steady vigil above Vince and Anna long after the cloud-filtered light of dawn illuminated the surrounding landscape to reveal an unblemished white wonderland of new snow. The proud limbs of the towering pines in the woods now bowed earthward from the immense weight of accumulated ice and snow in their long green needles. Brittle with the cold, a massive twenty foot section could bear the burden no longer and broke with a resounding crack which echoed across the frozen bottomland like a gunshot.
Anna awoke with a start at the intrusion of the unorthodox sound in the peaceful cabin. Her rudely awakened mind, still fuzzy from deep slumber, could not immediately identify the sound as spawned by nature. Vince still slept like a baby, a pleasant smile on his face. Anna hoped he was dreaming about her. With that thought in mind, she elected not to wake him and gracefully slid her bare body from beneath the warmth of the comforter into the cabin chill. Goosebumps appeared instantly over her naked beauty, and she shivered involuntarily while her nipples stiffened from the cold.
Moon was nowhere in sight. Anna stepped gingerly over Vince and reached for the Winchester above the mantle. Under her breath she muttered, "Damn, it's cold!" Unconsciously, she clicked off the safety and silently crept to the kitchen window.
Upon parting the curtains, the situation became apparent. The large branch was being scrutinized carefully by Moon in the back yard. Anna could see miniature clouds of vapor escaping his nostrils as he playfully slapped an ice-coated pine cone in a mock battle. Despite the cold, her scientific curiosity compelled her to watch Moon to see how he assessed the total situation. A final sniff at the branch told her the show was about to end.
Anna was about to close the curtains when Moon suddenly sat up on his haunches, urgently testing the wind from all angles. Dropping to all fours with his ears laid back, Anna could almost swear that his expression switched from innocent wonder to pure hate, fueled with the intent to kill.
Crouching low, he covered twenty yards toward the river in mere seconds. Anna could feel his fear coupled with his feline instinct to kill. She strained her eyes in the
direction of his movement but could see nothing. Moon stopped beside a medium oak and tested the wind again. Tense seconds ticked by. Anna's anxiety made her heart race, her body flushing from the hot rush of blood which made her forget the cold. She raised the window a foot to see past the frosted panes.
Moon crouched into the low profile which Anna knew to be the classic style of a cat entering the first stage of a calculated stalk. Out of context for his species, he went around the tree and back to the left. Moon was heading directly for the only tree left between himself and the western edge of the wood-line.
Anna turned her searching eyes ahead of Moon while raising the frost covered window for a better view. She gasped in horror when she spotted the great blind boar, his huge head scabbed all over from his previous encounter with Vince and Moon. She could now feel without a doubt that Moon was dead-set on revenge and had used Vince's squirrel-stalking technique to get himself within striking range.
Moon was already to the tree and testing the wind again. From the blowing hair on his back, Anna knew the wind was not in his favor. The monster hog would catch his scent at any second and have ample time to turn and fight. Painfully, despite his hunting prowess, she knew Moon did not stand a chance in a fight to the death, especially with a wounded boar of such magnitude.
Anna's instincts took over as Moon gathered his back legs under him for his charge. Anna dropped the barrel of the 30-30 to the window sill and simultaneously pulled the hammer back. Moon would charge any second. The crosshairs settled on a white patch of hair on the boar's throat. She prayed silently that the Winchester would have enough power to do the trick as she squeezed the trigger.
A scant millisecond before the gun fired, the white patch disappeared! The recoil of the gun sent the barrel upward and effectively smashed the bottom panes of the window. Anna instinctively knew the hog had gotten wind of Moon and turned to fight! She did not know if the shot had even hit the boar.
Anna recovered from the kick in time to see Moon in his final charge. At the top of her lungs, she screamed, "No, Moon!" Unfortunately, he was already committed. She frantically jacked another shell into the chamber while making a headlong scramble for the back door.
Vince was falling over the coffee table into the sofa when Anna was disappearing through the back door! The shot had awakened him from a dead sleep. He had instinctively tried to jump up into a fighting stance, but the cast sent him sprawling over the table. He yelled at Anna as she went by, but she never slowed down.
Recovering quickly, Vince rolled over the back of the sofa. The frenzied squeals, snorts and hissing from the melee outside informed him what was taking place before he could hobble out the door. The situation was at a critical stage when he emerged.
Moon was locked in a death grip on the boars throat, well out of reach of the deadly tusks, but Anna was not! Vince yelled for her to back up, but she did not hear. She was desperately trying to get behind the animal for a killing shot without hitting Moon, but the enraged boar started spinning blindly in a futile attempt to sling off his attacker! Moon was slashing fiercely with his hind feet and holding on with his front claws. He had managed to rip open the boar's neck and slash one of the jugulars, sending a gush of hot blood slinging in all directions with every beat of the hog's heart!
Vince half hopped, half ran the last forty feet to the fight, never taking his eyes from Anna.
The boar suddenly changed the direction of his spin and caught Anna off guard. She spun also to narrowly dodge the hind quarters, but the frenzied hog's head beat her back around. Vince and Anna both screamed when the right tusk caught her just above the right ankle, breaking it and ripping open her lower calf. The force of the impact sent her cartwheeling. She landed hard in the blood-stained snow, knocking the breath from her. She somehow managed to hang onto the Winchester. Anna vaguely heard Vince yell, "Look out, Babel" At the same instant, a stream of hot hog blood splattered across her face and shoulders.
The boar's rear end was spinning in her direction. Anna knew instantly that she could not avoid the collision. She rolled fast enough to put the impact point below her hips. The boar's lead hind leg collided with the side of her thigh, side-tripping him as he had done her. She barely avoided being kicked in the face when the beast's feet went out from under him. He hit the snow beside her on his side, kicking wildly, with Moon still locked onto his throat. It proved to be a fatal mistake! Anna saw her chance at the exposed underside. In a split second, she crammed the muzzle of the Winchester into his ribs and pulled the trigger. Vince saw part of the boar's spine blow out the back side where the bullet separated it. The great boar convulsed several times before his back arched one last time, his last breath escaping in a spray of blood and vapor from an exploded lung.
Anna had so much hog blood in her eyes that she couldn't see the tears in Vince's, much less him. Before he could get around the hog to her, she called out, "Sir Vince! Are you there?" Vince replied, "I'm right here, Babe. Don't try to talk. You're freezing cold, aside from losing a lot of blood." He plopped down in the red snow beside her, rather ungracefully and slid his bare good thigh gently beneath her head. Anna asked, "Where's Moon?" Vince told her, "He's still got a death grip on the boar's throat!" She tried to sit up to ask, "Moon, are you OK?" He let go of the hog just long enough to meow a reply, then clamped down again.
Vince told Anna that he thought Moon was fine, but he still refused to let go of the hog. Anna called to him, "Moon, listen to me. That son-of-a-bitch is history, but I'm not! Moon let go instantly and trotted over to tenderly lick the blood from her cheek with his rough tongue. Anna smiled and said, "I love you, too. Both of you. Also, I'm freezing. Would one of you kind gents get me a blanket?"
Vince snapped his finger and pointed toward the back door. Moon took off like a bullet. Before Moon returned with the blanket, Anna jokingly asked Vince if he was going to take care of her, since he owed her from last time. He assured her he would, and she could have some of his blood this time. She smiled, squeezed his hand and told him she was about to pass out.
Vince knew Anna was going into shock from the onset of trauma coupled with the severe cold. He must keep her warm at all costs. Moon made it back with the comforter clamped between his teeth. Vince quickly spread it on the snow beside Anna, and the satin lace gown politely fell from a fold. Since he could not carry her, he rolled her onto the comforter and quickly wrapped her from head to toe, leaving the broken ankle and calf out long enough to tie a tight bandage around the gaping calf wound with the gown in an effort to slow the bleeding while he dragged her to the house. The ankle needed a splint, but he knew warmth was the most important factor now, for all of them. Even Moon's blood-soaked coat was freezing!
Vince's sheer determination got Anna into the house and onto the couch. The tight, gown bandage seemed to have stopped the bleeding, so he left it in place. He hurriedly threw two heavy quilts over Anna. Even though he had equipped the cabin with central heat and air, he rarely ever used the heat side. This day would be the exception. He knew it would take a while to heat the entire cabin, so he grabbed a handful of kindling, an armload of split wood and the charcoal lighter. Literally dumping the wood on the grate, he doused it liberally with the lighter fluid and threw a match to it. The volatile fuel sprang to life.
Dr. Allman had informed Vince the day before that he would be at the hospital all day today. If he was needed, all office calls would automatically be transferred there. He told the voice which answered that this was an emergency, and he needed to speak with Dr. Allman. They transferred the call to the doctors' lounge where he was having lunch. Vince quickly explained the situation. The doctor told him to gather up some of his and Anna's things, immobilize the ankle somehow for the trip, and above all, keep her warm. He would be there within fifteen minutes.
Vince went to the bedroom and popped open one of Anna's suitcases. It appeared to contain a full assortment of clothes. He slipped on underwear and the shorts he had been wearing the night before, as well as a pair of sneakers to keep his feet from freezing. He threw some extra clothes in for himself as well as Anna's separate cosmetic case and purse and shut the latches.
The cabin was heating quickly now between the fire and the central heat. He turned the central unit back to normal so the cabin would be warm on their return and the pipes would not be frozen. Anna's color had returned slightly with the warmth, but her foot was swelling rapidly. Hastily, he fashioned a splint. By the time he had finished, the offbeat sound of chopper rotors could be heard in the distance. He would have liked to wash her face but did not have time.
The chopper came over the trees, hovered momentarily, and proceeded to land. Though Anna couldn't hear him, Vince told her that he was going to marry her, and he and Moon would always be there to care for her. Moon meowed as if to agree, his bloody coat hot and steaming from the heat of the fire.
Dr. Allman pulled one of Anna's arms free from the covers and checked her vital signs before he allowed the flight crew to load her wrapped body onto a stretcher for the flight to the hospital. A last thought told Vince to grab the yet unopened envelope from the table. He crutched his way to the chopper after locking the cabin with Moon
following, within minutes, they had landed and unloaded. Anna and Dr. Allman went in one side of the emergency trauma care facility after directing Vince and Moon to the other side. An orderly brought in the suitcase and set it on the floor at the foot of the examining table.
Soon, the admitting nurse came in with several forms for Vince to fill out on himself and Anna. Meanwhile, Moon busied himself with an exploration of the strange room.
During the next half hour, no less than a dozen different nurses peeked in the room. Vince was just finishing the forms when he heard a couple of candy-stripers giggling outside the door. Vince did not turn around, but he discerned from the conversation that they were in disagreement over his identity. Finally, a third party informed the others that she wasn't "chicken" and would walk right in and simply ask. A few seconds later, in walked a young nurse's aid, quite pretty, and stammered, "Excuse me, Sir. Some of the girls outside were wondering if you might be the same man that was on the front page of the morning paper with the beautiful woman and the cat?" Vince casually replied, "I don't know, Miss. The morning has been somewhat hectic, and I haven't had a chance to read the paper yet. Exactly what was the man's name?" She
politely replied, "Vince Casey, Sir." Vince replied, "Well, that is my name." She inquired further, "Do you own a cat? The paper said you rarely go anywhere without a cat, a big cat."
Moon had been sniffing behind the door when the girl had entered. He was checking out her scent from behind, now. Calmly, Vince replied, "Yes, I have a cat, but I don't own him. We're more like close friends." She continued, "Well, If you are the same Mr. Casey, where is your cat?" Vince smiled and stated, "Right behind you!" In disbelief, the girl confided, "Well, Mr. Casey, I think you're just teasing me 'cause I didn't see no cat when I walked in, and besides that, you're not tall enough to be the man in the paper! The other girls were right. I'm always makin' a fool of myself. I thought I was gonna get to meet a real celebrity." Vince consoled her, "Don't be too hard on yourself, Missy. Moon, say something low and slow for the young lady." Moon let out a low-pitched, slow meow which bordered on a growl. The girl jerked her head around and was not prepared for the sight of Moon covered with caking hog blood. She screamed, "Shit, Hell, Damn!" and stumbled backwards into Vince and the examining table.
The other girls ran in at the sound of the scream. The first girl shook her finger at Moon and scolded, "Crap, you nearly scairt the HELL outta me all covered with blood! What happened to you, anyhow?"
Vince stopped laughing and intervened, "Ladies, meet Master Moon, the only celebrity in these parts. You'll have to excuse his appearance. He had a rough time with a big boar hog this morning."
The first girl regained her composure and politely addressed Moon, "I'm honored to make your acquaintance, Master Moon, and yours as well, Mr. Casey. I'm Stacey Holden, at your service. Anything I can do to make your stay more pleasurable, please don't hesitate to ask."
Vince looked at Moon licking at the blood on his leg and asked, "How about it, Moon? Would you like Stacey to help you get all of that blood off?" Moon meowed his approval and padded over to rub his bloody side against her leg. Vince spoke again, "Stacey, do you mind giving Moon a bath? I can assure you he is not scared of the water, and he loves women, attention, and blow dryers, too!" Stacey beamed all over and accepted the chore with schoolgirl enthusiasm. She addressed her next question directly to Moon, "Do you want to ride or walk?" Moon stared up and meowed. She looked to Vince for an interpretation.
Vince explained, "He would rather you carried him through strange territory, but you'll have as much blood on you and your uniform as he does by the time you get to where you are going." She grinned and replied, "I have no problem with that. Blood is like a merit badge around here! I might even gain some social status. Do I pick him up, or what, Mr. Casey?" Vince corrected her, "Call me Vince, please. Whenever you are ready to go, just hold out your arms and snap your fingers. He'll jump right in your arms. She did what he said, and Moon landed perfectly. He twisted around to rub on her cheekbone, wiping "merit" badges all over her face and neck! Grinning broadly, Stacey exclaimed, "That's utterly radical, Moon! Only one more question, Vince. How do I find you when we're through cleaning up?"
Vince chuckled and said, "That's the easy part. Bring him back here, put him down, and simply follow him to me or Anna, or both of us."
Stacey blurted, "Is Anna the nude, er, ah, the lady with the broken ankle?" He nodded. She apologized, "Sorry, Vince. There's a big grapevine in any hospital. Time for us to leave." She hurried out with the rest of the girls right at her heels, giggling as they went. Vince shook his head and stretched out on the table, thinking of Anna.
Presently, Dr. Allman came in to inform Vince that they had stabilized Anna's condition with plasma, but she would need a pint of whole blood before they could perform surgery in order to put a stainless steel pin in her ankle. The tusk had completely dislodged a small section of bone which made a normal setting impossible. He told Vince not to worry as the procedure was relatively simple and only necessary for support to enable Anna to regain full use of the ankle without the need for physical therapy. It would also ensure that she would not have a permanent limp. Aside from some minor spots of frostbite from the direct contact with the snow, she was otherwise in excellent shape.
Dr. Allman asked Vince if he felt up to a direct transfusion, so they could minimize the trauma associated with delaying the bone set and the application of a cast. Naturally, he agreed without hesitation. While she was in recovery, Vince would be sent to have his leg X-Rayed to be certain he had not re-injured his own set or broken loose any stitches.
An elderly nurse entered the room pushing a wheelchair and politely asked Vince to get in. She adjusted the supports beneath his cast, then quickly wheeled him into the operating room where Anna was sleeping peacefully under the anesthesia. The blood had been cleaned from her face and she had been dressed in a blue hospital gown. Vince held her limp hand while the nurse set up the transfusion. The entire process took only fifteen minutes. He was disconnected and taken to a lounge area where he was offered cheese and fruit juices before being wheeled to the X-Ray section of the hospital. Everything was still intact concerning his leg and his ribs as well. Last stop was a private room on the uppermost floor with a spectacular view of the city.
Two beds had been pushed together. The nurse informed Vince that his was the left one to avoid the possibility of his heavy cast inadvertently colliding with Anna's rigging whenever she returned from the recovery room. Her leg would be suspended for a couple of days. Since there was some swelling in Vince's foot, the doctor had ordered his suspended, too.
The overly helpful nurse soon had Vince immobilized on the adjustable bed and handed him the remote nurse summons button should he need anything before her return. On her way out, she pitched him the remote for the TV, telling him in a sarcastic tone that it would have to suffice until Anna returned from recovery. Vince sensed that she did not approve of the bed arrangement. He dismissed the thought and wondered what was taking Stacey so long to return with Moon. He rightly guessed that Moon's celebrity status had something to do with the delay, but he was only half right.
Vince smiled, turned on the tube, and casually flipped through the limited array of channels, looking for something to take his mind off of Anna. He was not surprised when Anna, Moon, and himself were the feature story on the noon news. Once again, the media projected Moon as the hero of the day. Vince just laughed and mumbled, "Charm 'em, boy!" When the newscast was over, Vince turned off the TV, content to recount the morning's events and determine exactly how they would alter their previous Christmas plans. He for one, definitely did not care to spend the holidays in the clinical environment of the hospital, regardless of how comfy they thought they could make their stay. He was sure that Anna and Moon would wholeheartedly agree with his line of reasoning. He would make it a point to discuss the situation as soon as the three of them were alone. Somehow, they would arrange to be at the cabin for Christmas.
Vince had closed his eyes and almost drifted off to sleep when a familiar scratching on the door told him that Moon had located the room. Almost simultaneously, Stacey's scolding tone of voice could be discerned in the background saying, "You just hold up there, Moon. Just 'cause you can sniff out where we're goin' doesn't mean you have to show off an' git there first ever' time! Crap, give me a little credit for knowin' the room number, anyhows." Vince replaced the grin on his face with the unknowing appearance of being asleep before the door opened.
Moon immediately trotted to Vince's bed and jumped up, gently laying his paw on Vince's stubble-covered cheek in his usual waking fashion. In a soft tone, Stacey exclaimed, "Well, that's got to be the sweetest thing I've ever seen! I think I'll just leave the two of you alone for now. I've got one more little chore to tend to." She silently backed out and shut the door.
Vince opened his eyes in a mock wake-up procedure to satisfy Moon. Gently stroking Moon's fur, he noticed an abnormal softness in the texture of his coat and wondered if Stacey had used some kind of conditioner on it. The thought was dismissed as the door opened. Anna was wheeled in on a stretcher by the head nurse of the floor with Dr. Allman following. Moon meowed an instant greeting. Still groggy from the anesthesia and the pain medication, Anna said nothing, but smiled and winked an acknowledgment.
Two orderlies came in to help transfer Anna to the bed and suspend the cast on her ankle. An IV was in her right arm.
Satisfied with the nurse's efficiency, Dr. Allman addressed Vince, "She came through it like a champ. She could have used a little more time in recovery, but she insisted that we bring her on up, something about missing her men. She's a tough lady Vince, but she's going to have some major pain where the pin is attached to the bones during the next 24 hours. If you want, I can keep her sedated and she will sleep through most of it."
Anna's slender hand groped for Vince's. Slowly, she shook her head to decline the suggestion. Vince looked at the doctor and said, "There's your answer. She's tougher than you thought." Anna's hand relaxed, indicating that she had drifted out again. The doctor told Vince to let her sleep as much as she could. Should the pain get unbearable, medication had already been ordered. All she had to do was to ask for it. He would stop back by to check on them before he left the hospital that evening. Vince thanked him before he left.
Moon eased over to Anna's bed and checked out the fresh plaster on her new cast. Vince could almost swear that he had a distraught look to his feline features when he got no response from Anna after meowing his disdain of her altered appearance. Vince told him not to worry. Anna would be fine. She would probably be awake and coherent later that evening. The stress of the morning had tired Vince, too. He rolled over to kiss Anna on the cheek and, holding her hand, closed his eyes for a nap. Moon snuggled in between them, a paw resting lightly on each of their shoulders.
A short while later, Stacey knocked lightly on the door. Hearing no response, she cracked the door just enough to peek in. A broad smile spread across her face as she muttered under her breath, "I do declare! This is gitten' better all the time."
Stacey shut the door quietly and headed for the hospital locker room to get the instant camera she kept in case some celebrity was booked into the hospital. All the other girls constantly teased her about her "obsession" with pictures. Arriving back at the room, she knocked lightly again before entering. The scene was exactly as she had left it. She hurriedly snapped two pictures. The camera had awakened Moon on the first shot, but seeing it was Stacey, did little more than open his eyes and turn his head. Stacey sat down to write Anna a short note while the pictures developed. She had soaked and hand-washed Anna's bloody satin gown. Miraculously, it appeared as new as the day Anna had purchased it. The pictures turned out well, except that Moon's eyes appeared red from the flash in the second take. Stacey decided to keep that one for herself. She draped the gown over Anna's nightstand and positioned the picture and note within her reach. On her way out, she waved to Moon and blew him a kiss.
Several hours elapsed before a nurse awakened Anna to change the IV bottle, take her vital signs and update her chart hanging on the foot of the bed. Anna found the note, gown, and picture. She started to wake Vince, but the nurse said that dinner would be served shortly after Dr. Allman made his final rounds for the day so she let him keep sleeping.
Anna asked the nurse to send Stacey to her room but was politely informed that Stacey's shift had ended the previous hour. Anna spied the large envelope from the institute on Vince's table and got the nurse to hand it to her on her way out. Moon jumped nervously as she adjusted the head of the bed to a better reading position. As she tore open the letter, she silently wondered about the accuracy of her own speculation concerning Moon's genetic origin. She asked him if he was ready to find out about
his family tree. He meowed, seemingly in understanding of the question and watched her intently.
Anna concentrated her gaze on the multi-paged report. After she finished reading it, she went through the entire process again to commit the information to memory. A half hour had passed when she looked back at Moon, scrutinizing his odd display of features to verify that the assessment before her was entirely anatomically correct concerning the animal before her. She apologized to Moon for staring, then stated, "I know who your daddy was!" She was returning the documents to the envelope when a knock on the door announced the doctor's arrival.
Anna told the visitor to enter, smiling when she saw it was the doctor. They exchanged greetings before he told her that Vince would have to be awakened. Anna said, "Allow me." She rolled over and kissed him several times on the ear and cheek before he roused. When he was coherent, she stated, "I hope you brought a razor!" He blushed slightly at the comment.
Dr. Allman stated that they seemed to be in excellent spirits considering the circumstances. He checked them over while they chatted about the morning's events. Grinning slyly, Anna asked Vince if the bed arrangement was his idea. She seemed genuinely disappointed when he told her he didn't know who was responsible. She brightened up though, when he added that he was glad someone was looking out for their interests. They both looked puzzled when the good doctor confessed that he was responsible. He quickly went on to explain that he was worried about Moon jumping back and forth between their beds. After all, the normal codes of hospital policy had already been broken simply by his presence there. One more discrepancy wasn't going to matter.
Vince asked the doctor how long they would have to stay at the hospital since they both would rather be home for Christmas. He told them they could go home the next afternoon if Anna's swelling started to subside and her vital signs stabilized. However, it would be necessary to send someone along to look after them. He did not want Anna doing any more than was absolutely necessary for the next week. He said he could possibly spare Liz.
Anna looked at Vince apologetically before asking, "Do you think Stacey Holden could handle the job?" He replied, "She could probably do it better than most nurses. She used to work part time for me when she was in high school. I encouraged her to go into nursing but after her father died, she said there wasn't any hope of being able to afford college. I think she really was more prone to working with animals even though she is quite good with people. She gets a lot of razzing from the local girls about taking in every hurt or homeless animal she discovers. Some say her mother's house looks like a zoo at times! She was very efficient and punctual when she worked for me. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to anyone. The hospital informs me that she is one of the preferred nurse's aids for many of the same reasons." The doctor looked at his watch and told them he would be back the next afternoon. Anna thanked him for his confidence and his opinion of Stacey.
Anna asked Vince what he thought of Stacey. He agreed that she would be an excellent choice. Anna confided that she might even offer her a job with the institution as her personal aid and photographer. She handed the picture to Vince along with the gown. He grinned at the picture, but was amazed that the gown had come clean. He looked back at Anna stating, "Stacey is a very industrious young lady." Anna replied with a mischievous sparkle in her eye, "Yes she is, Sir Vince. She deserves a break."
This space RESERVED For LATER USE--LKH
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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