“Dandelion,” the veterinarian called out as she poked her head out of an exam room.
“Here.” Moira said as she forced herself to stop bouncing her leg and bent to pick up Dandy’s carrier and shrug on the, ‘small’, sand colored go bag frank insisted she bring with her, from the floor. The bag had a waist strap and weighed at least 4 times what the cat did. One of these days I will have to see what Frank put in this bloody bag; paranoid idiot. As if taking the stupid bag wouldn’t be the first thing some kidnaper would do. The gun makes a hell of a lot more sense. She thought resting her hand on her small purse feeling the Smith & Wesson Shield’s weight through the fabric. She was happy to have something to distract her from the coming meeting. As the time approached, she became more nervous; to the point she could no longer sit still. Maybe it would have been better if the meeting was 15 minutes out, like in the movies. This wait is torture. She thought as she followed the vet into the exam room.
Distracted with her thoughts, she missed what the vet said; as she entered the exam room and removed Dandy from the carrier. She just nodded where she felt the conversation needed it.
“Looks like he has some respiratory problems and his temperature is a little high. Might be an infection.” The Vet said after taking his temperature and giving him the general vaccine.
“Yeah, he has been like that for a few days. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to bring him in.” Moira said forcing her mind to the present with a concerted effort.
“Well, I suggest we give him a run of antibiotics and see if that clears it up. If he still has some problems in a couple weeks bring him back in and we can run some other tests.” The Vet said as she typed.
“Is that expensive?”
“About 50 bucks.”
“Alright, is there anything else?” Moira asked.
“No, you’re good to go.” The vet said helping her get Dandy back into his carrier and ushering her out the door.
After paying the receptionist, Moira made her way outside and found a bench to hold-up on and wait for Frank and his partner to arrive. The spot afforded her a decent vantage on the front of 2113 Mayfair lane; where she could observe the people coming and going. Sitting with nothing to do but wait, made her fidget in nervousness again. Shit hurry up Frank. She thought in aggravation.
“There you are!” Frank said when he found her a few minutes later. “I thought I told you to wait at the Veterinarian.”
“Where is Johnny?” Moira asked trying to distract him; pointedly looking over his shoulder in search of his partner.
“With the car. He is going to watch from there, and follow if anything happens.” Frank said with a sigh and eye roll before pointing Johnny out with a wave. As if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Right, okay. Well I have been sitting here for a while and haven’t seen anything suspicious.” Moira said with a wane smile.
“Well, this, is, the fun part.” Frank responded dryly, taking a seat beside her with his legs stretched out before him, leaning back to rest his arms on the back of the seat. He studied her for a while. Taking in the gaunt woman for a while he let out a long breath.
“What?” Moira asked annoyed with his scrutiny.
“You really look like shit Moira. You sounded rough over the phone, but I swear you look worse in person. You need to take better care of yourself. Did you ever use that gym membership I got you? Hell, a proper diet would do you wonders.” He said.
“Wow, ass much? You’re supposed to compliment a woman not knock her down. It’s nice to see you too!” Moira rolled her eyes at him and punched his shoulder to reinforce her point.
“Just telling it, how I see it.” Frank responded, rubbing his shoulder in mock pain. Studying her from the corner of his eye he shook his head. “Seriously though, you need to get your shit together. You look like you’re working yourself into an early grave.”
“Wow, you just get worse.”
“Teddy would’ve been disappointed.”
“Wow, just wow, that’s a low blow, and to think I used to like you!” Moira said in exasperation, while throwing her arms up in the air.
“Just saying. There is a difference between healthy skinny and...” Frank said gesturing significantly at her. “Whatever you are.”
“I’m done talking to you!” Moira said crossing her arms over her chest and staring pointedly away from him.
“Seriously though, it, is, good to see you outside of your work or home. Even if it took something like this to get you out.” Frank encouraged her a bit.
“Still not talking to you.” Moira grumped.
Frank chuckled and put his mind to the task of observing the comings and goings of the people around them.
“This is boring.” Moira muttered, a good thirty minutes later. She had her fingers stuck through the bars of the cat’s carrier so she could scratch Dandelion’s head.
“In my experience, boring is good. I’ve had plenty of excitement for one life.” Frank replied keeping his eyes on his surroundings. More vigilant as the appointed time approached.
“Still boring.” Moira said with a half-smile, another half hour later.
Frank turned and shared her smile. “Got anything you care to talk about?”
“No.” Moira said shaking her head pointedly.
They sat in companionable silence for another hour before Frank let out a long breath. The street had cleared out significantly with only a few pedestrians making their hurried way home from work. The store that was their meeting spot had been locked up and closed for the day.
“Well either they have been here and set up the whole time, which doesn’t seem likely, since I haven’t seen the same person for any significant amount of time and no one has stuck around or came back, or they are planning something not very elaborate.” Frank observed getting up and shaking out his legs. He gave her a hand up and helped her shrug the pack on. “I see you brought the bag, good.”
“You do realize we are in the middle of the city and you are here to protect me, right? Kind of makes this ‘go bag’ ridiculous, doesn’t it?” Moira snarked making air quotes.
“You can never be to prepared.” Frank said seriously.
“I think whatever promise you made Teddy has seriously messed with your head. Right Dandy? Frank is loco.” Moira said holding the cat's carrier up to look at the feline, as they made their way to the address.
“I’m the crazy one? You’re the one asking a cat for its opinion. I’m just looking out for you.” Frank laughed and shook his head.
“Paranoid.” She muttered.
They stood in front of the designated address and looked around. Nothing happened for a few minutes so Moira moved to lean against the storefront.
“Well we are early li--” Were the last words Moira heard Frank say before her world was turned inside out. One second, she was walking in the middle of the sidewalk, then a gut retching instant later, she was bent over vomiting her lunch on the ground. Oh god! Oh god! she thought between stomach spasms.
Everything is white! She noticed, once her stomach gave her a moment of reprieve. Wait! Am I dead? It happened so fast! She pinched herself hard then sighed. I still feel pain. Shit it’s cold. She vomited, violently, again, before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
Snow, it’s fucking snow! The incredulity of the fact made her head spin and she hurled again. It took her a few minutes, of vomiting bile, to get her stomach to stop rebelling and her panic to subside a little. It was the cold that really brought her out of it, as she started to really shiver.
It took her another couple minutes, which she spent digging through the go bag tossing things out until she found a light green long sleeve shirt and a light camo jacket, before she noticed the cries of pain and the clash of metal on metal in the distance.
“Shit! Frank!?” She swore in a loud whisper her mind stuttering as she thought to look for him. She frantically shoved items back into her bag while taking furtive glances in every direction. She didn’t see Frank anywhere. In fact, the snow was pristine in every direction, only disturbed where she had landed.
When she felt she had everything back in the bag she quickly shrugged her way into the shirt and coat; putting them on over her blouse. Thank god I wore my boots and jeans! She thought taking a better look around at the snow-covered forest she found herself in. What the actual fuck, is going on! The trees looked like regular birch and pine with smaller trees and bushes making the forest a significant barrier in every direction, except the small clearing she was crouched in. Breathe just breathe. She told herself as she felt her anxiety and panic spike and the nausea rose again. She forced herself to crouch down with her back to the one and only tree in the clearing; dragging the bag with her. She made herself study the tree, looking up into its branches intently. It slowly dawned on her that the tree was significantly larger than the trees surrounding the clearing and was a type that she would, swear, she had never seen, or hear of, before.
“Huh, what type of tree are you?” She asked it. The screaming and ringing sounds seemed to be lessening and getting further away. She pulled her gun from her purse and put it in her lap where it gave her a modicum of comfort.
“Meow.” The sound came from her left.
“Shit, Dandy!” She exclaimed and leaned over to right his carrier. It had been upturned and misplaced in her disorientation. She looked at him through the bars.
“You look good big guy. How did you manage too, not, lose your lunch?” She asked. He just rubbed his head up against the bars and meowed at her.
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea to let you out right now, I don’t want you running off.” She told him and gave him a scratch. The whole time she was taking long deep breaths to calm herself. However, the more she studied the tree the more uneasy she felt. It was as tall as the redwoods she had seen in California; with the shape, spread, branches and leaves of a weeping willow: with the trunk to support it. In short it was the largest living thing she had ever seen.
“This is a strangely beautiful tree, Dandy.” She muttered to the cat, with a dawning sense of unease. The sounds in the distance once again drew her attention, and their significance finally started to set in.
“Shit Moira, no time like the present.” she swore to gather her courage and grabbed the gun from her lap. She checked the top to verify there was a round chambered and held it down and to her side. Nine rounds 8 in the spare mag. She thought digging the spare magazine out of her purse and putting it in her pocket. Then she bent and shrugged her pack on, switching hands for the other strap, and fastening the waist strap, before she picked up the cat and made her way towards the diminishing sounds: gun up before her. It wasn’t long before her fingers and ears started burning from the cold.
Bio: I'm a Canadian carpenter that doesn’t understand the metric system. That spends most of his day swearing every other word at the philistines he works with, and writes in his copious amounts of “cough” spare time. When I'm not busy scratching my balls and having cold baths.