A banged up truck is driving down a dark and winding road through the woods outside a small town, its headlights low and flickering. It is going around thirty five miles an hour, though a speed limit sign that it just passed says fifty. There are no other cars on the road. The driver is hunched over the wheel, long auburn hair hanging down around the steering wheel as she squints through her black-rimmed glasses at the road ahead. The radio is off, and the dashboard clear aside from a few candy wrappers and an old-looking cellphone. All of a sudden, a dark lump on the side of the road appears as she turns a bend. She yells and attempts to swerve but it’s too late. Two thumps later and both her right tires have passed over the shape. She stops, breathing hard and shaking, and cranks the gearshift into park.
“Oh no oh no oh no…” She gets out of the truck, making a noise of disgust at the squeaking door, and runs around to the rear. Upon moving closer to the shape, it is revealed to be an orange tabby cat, legs splayed out on the road and head hanging off the pavement and into the tall grass on the side of the road. It is not moving, and the fur across its middle is ruffled up from where the tires went over it. “Oh nooo!” Her voice increases in pitch as she cries. She crouches down, black nylon skirt pulling her legs together as she goes, and inserts her fingers underneath the cat’s side wiggling them to get under it without disturbing it too much. It is about two feet long, almost three if you include the tail, lean and lightweight. Not much can be seen in the low light but its stomach does appear to be moving. She carries it around to the driver’s side, holding it level to the ground and moving slow. She steps up into the cabin in the same manner, and places the cat on the passenger seat. Other than breathing, it still does not move, and when she turns on the light its eyes are closed. There is no blood visible on it. “Oh man… okay, nearest vet.” She drives on down the road, going fifty-five miles an hour.
“Please help me, I ran over this cat but it’s still breathing! I think it might be bleeding internally.” She rushes up to the waiting room counter and the attending nurse looks up at her.
“Head on back, we’ll check it out. You’re in luck, we’re never this empty–” but the girl has already headed into the examination room. The nurse gets up and goes after her, and once she has placed the cat on the cold metal table, the nurse hands her a clipboard. “Fill this out, I’ll let Doctor Rogers know you’re back here.”
“Thank you! Thank you so much. Sorry if I’m a bit frazzled right now.”
“It’s no problem. I’m just glad you’re not one of those jackasses that just leave animals on the side of the road to die.” She smiles and leaves, and the girl starts filling out the paperwork. Five minutes later the doctor comes in, wiping his hands with a paper towel which he tosses in a trashcan in the corner of the white walled room.
“Hi! Don’t know if Jackie told you, but I’m doctor Rogers. I hear we have a cat that was run over but still breathing? What exactly happened there?” He walks up to the table and starts examining the cat, using only minimal contact with his hands to spread the fur and look at the light pink skin beneath.
“I was driving home from work and it was laying on the side of the round around a bend in the road! I tried to go around it but it was too late. Both tires went over it. How does it look?” The last few words are muffled as she clasps her hands in front of her mouth.
“Well, there don’t seem to be any sings of internal bleeding, and no visible–” the cat raises its head, yawns, and lets out a high-pitched meow. Both Doctor Rogers’s and the girl’s jaws drop. The vet is the first to speak as the cat sits up, stretches, and then sits and stares at them. “And, consistent with my findings, we have here a perfectly healthy feline.”
( ©2015 Sean Dorsey )