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©06 Levite
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      "Doctor Thornton?"
      The man behind the desk blinked a couple of times. "Yes sir. I'm Thornton." The two men at his door had to be Government Agents. Their suits were at least five years out of style, and the doctor knew what a bullet proof vest under a shirt looked like. "Can I help you?"
      "We were told you are the best orthopedic surgeon in this area."
      He nodded slowly. "Some people say that."
      "Do you have a minute?" The man in the suit didn't wait for an answer. The second man opened a large thin satchel. "Take a look at these and tell me what you think."
      "Officially or just an opinion? If it is too involved I'll have to ask you to make an appointment."
      "Just tell me what you think."
      Thornton took the first X-ray and held it up to the window for some light. He blinked and looked closer. "Oh my." He stood up and looked closer. Then he took the second film and looked back and forth. "Your patient isn't human. But this damage..."
      "Can you fix it?"
      "Not in one operation. This will take time, and a team..."
      They stood there and looked at him and waited.
      "I could do it. If..."
      "In the interest of the people and government of the United States..." He nodded to the satchel man. "As well as Canada, we are asking you to take this case."
      They were holding badges and IDs. The first man's card had US State Department on it. The other one, Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
      "How can I refuse?"

      Within the hour they were in an unmarked military police car traveling quickly but carefully to a military base better known for training the US Mountain Divisions. Unsure of exactly what he was getting into Dr. Thornton had basically ransacked his office's surgical supplies.
      Thornton was listening to Dr. Monroe, a thin, almost gaunt, woman, explain how she had come to have such an unusual patient.
      "She was hit by a car just over the border. The Mounties found her this morning and had her airlifted here as the closest secure medical facility." She shook her head. "I'd heard stories of course, since I've been up here. But to have one brought in on a gurney..."
      "You're sure." Thornton said once again. He had now asked that question about six times.
      "There's no doubt. You've seen the X-rays. She is humanoid, but not human. Completely covered in fur, not hair. But she walks upright, and can vocalize."
      "She howls." One of the agents in the front seat said.
      "If you had that broken leg you would too." Thornton said.
      "We've managed to sedate her. But she takes a prodigious amount of medication to keep her down."
      Thornton looked back through the chart.

      His patient was female, six foot six, with an estimated weight of three hundred sixty pounds.
      They couldn't even begin to guess her age, although she appeared to be mature.
      Thornton chuckled at the line where the form asked 'Race', somebody had checked 'Other' and hand written 'way' next to it and underlined both words.
      For a name they had written Sassie. He presumed that was short for Sasquatch.

      The base hospital was an armed camp. All other patients had been evacuated to other facilities, most of the staff had been sent out as well. They walked up to the isolation ward where the single patient lay sedated on a bed with her feet hanging out over the end. Her injured leg was still in the air cast the Canadian medics had put it in now suspended from a jury-rigged support attached to the bed.
      Thornton evaluated the good leg and noticed that the injured one was already several inches shorter. Even sedated and through her thick fur he could feel powerful muscles and a thick layer of fat under what seemed to be a tough layer of leather moreso than skin. Sassie reminded him more of the working horses at his uncle's ranch more than anything else.
      "If we are going to save that leg we'll have to operate soon and stabilize it."
      Doctor Monroe agreed.
      "We're already preparing the operating room."
      According to her blood type they could use O negative blood and human plasma if she needed it. Doctor Thornton walked through the operating room and specified the materials he'd need.
      The nurses worked efficiently and silently. In minutes the doctors were scrubbing for the procedure as Dr. Thornton explained his plan of attack.

      Outside Mr. Graves from the US State Department was debriefing the rest of the hospital staff. He did not want wild rumors running amuck so he was practicing rumor control as they went.
      The patient, as the official line went, was a unique polar bear specimen from an Alaskan preserve that had been injured in transit to a zoo in Canada. The hybrid animal needed surgery the Canadians couldn't do on short notice. So the animal was here.
      When asked a specific question about it Mr. Graves would lower his voice and whisper that he had been told the bear wasn't just a hybrid, it was a ... 'mutant'.
      Except one old warrior wasn't buying it. Sergeant Hightower shook his head. "Mister Graves. I've been on the Lord's good Earth sixty some years, over forty of them spent in Uncle's Army. Sir, I've seen everything there is to see. What we got in there ain't no kind of bear I ever heard tell of."
      Graves was ready for this. He smiled at the elderly black man and nodded. "You're right Sergeant. As far as I know it's the only example in the world of a cross between a Kodiak and a Polar Bear. You should have seen a lot of Kodiak's in your day."
      "Them. Grizzly. Yeah." He thought about it. "Yeah. You cross one of them with a White Bear... yeah. She'd be som'thin."
      "This one most certainly is."
      "I'd say." Hightower nodded. "So what else can I do for you Mr. Graves?"

      The operating room was too quite. The only sounds being from the monitors and the patient's uneasy rumbling breathing. She was barely sedated, but they couldn't risk pumping more drugs into her not knowing for sure how her system was reacting to them.
      "Can you please turn some music or something on?" Doctor Monroe asked the assistants.
      One of them walked over to a small radio sitting under a plastic cover and pushed the snooze button for an hour of music. Some classic country floated out from under the plastic.
      "It'll do." Doctor Thornton said. "Let's get started."
      They attached a traction sling to her foot and slowly deflated the aircast, stopping several times when she stirred and seemed to be on the verge of waking up. They had to trim her fur before they could even try to shave the injured area. But the hair proved very tough to cut and impossible to shave. Finally they gave up and simply cut it as close as they could and then sterilized the area with iodine.

      Cutting through the skin was just as difficult. Doctor Thornton had to actually push firmly on the scalpel with both hands to cut into the leg. At first he thought the instrument was dull, so he checked it on the plastic surgical field nearby. It severed the thick plastic effortlessly. It was razor sharp, it was his patient's skin that wasn't cooperating.
      But underneath her unusual exterior, he immediately recognized the structures and features of a human leg. From there the operation went almost by the book. Except for the density of the overlying muscle tissue and the diameter of the femur itself, Thornton could almost forget how unusual his patient was.
      "The impact area is almost pulverized." Dr. Monroe said as they cleared the surgical area.
      "It's as bad as it looked on the X-ray." He looked up and nodded toward the tray of implants. "We're going to need the largest rods. Both of them. Otherwise it'll never withstand her weight and strength."

      The assistant had pushed the snooze button for the sixth time as they started closing the incision and congratulating each other on the job. But now the hard part started. Until the sutures healed, she had to be kept sedated. Except there had been times during the surgery Sassie had actually started to regain consciousness and the anesthesiologist had to work quickly to adjust the various drugs they were giving her. She was restrained to the steel table with leather straps, but given her obvious strength, nobody was sure they would hold.
      Finally the patient was back in the isolation room and seemed to be more relaxed under the slightly milder medications.
      Mr. Graves was standing next to the two doctors. "Now what?"
      Doctor Thornton was examining the X-rays of their final product. "We're going to have to go back in. Probably in a month or so. There's still some work to do. If these fragments don't reabsorb we'll have to pull them out. As the bone heals we'll have to adjust the plates and screws. These wires will have to come out."
      "How long?" Graves asked.
      Doctor Monroe shook her head.
      "In you or me, a month, six weeks. In her. I couldn't even guess." Doctor Thornton said.
      "How long can you keep her sedated?"
      "That's an hour to hour thing." Doctor Monroe said slowly. "We've already used enough stuff to knock out everybody in this building for the weekend. She's fighting it every step of the way."
      It was Grave's turn to shake his head. "Do what you can. Keep me informed." He turned to leave.
      "You're not going to make a speech about how this never happened and we were never here?" Doctor Thornton said with about half a grin.
      "Do I have to?"
      "No sir. Not really."
      The State Department man nodded and walked out.

      About a week later Doctor Thornton got a call that he needed to come check on his most unusual patient.
      He drove up to the base and was waved in.
      Sassie was awake, but 'doped to the gills' as Doctor Monroe put it. She watched them with glazed eyes as they examined the surgical site. The incision was almost completely healed. The surgeons let the nurses rewrap the leg so they could leave her to rest. The examination was irritating her as it would any other patient.
      "There's the X-rays." Doctor Monroe said nodding to the films hanging behind them.
      "I think I know what they show." He said as Dr. Monroe turned the Xray viewer on.
      The pictures showed Sassie's leg with the rods and screws as they had been installed. Except where there should still be huge gaps of missing bone and obvious cracks in the remaining pieces, there were great sections of lighter colored new bone.
      "That's new growth. That's impossible." Thornton said, then he thought about it. "For us anyway."
      She nodded. "Would you believe she's been trying to walk on it?"
      He examined the second image. "Yeah. I can see where the rod has shifted." He followed the line down the image. "But the bone seems to be healing fairly straight."

      Sassie was still in the isolation room, but the bed was gone. Instead there was a large pile of blankets and sheets in one corner. She was huddled on it with her injured leg being rewrapped in enough gauze and tape to turn a human into a mummy. But it was the only way to keep it covered. And even then they had to redo it a couple of times a day as she worked the bandages loose.

      The doctors stood in the hall and discussed her progress.
      "If she keeps this pace up, I'd say we'll have to do the follow-up... maybe next week." Thornton said.
      "I agree." Dr Monroe answered.
      They were going through what they'd do during the next surgery when one of the soldiers came running in.
      "Doctor. He's back."
      "Oh God." Doctor Monroe said with a lot of emotion packed into the two words.
      "Yes ma'am." The man said and ran back the way he'd come.
      "Who's back?" Doctor Thornton asked.
      Doctor Monroe nodded toward the isolation room and their patient. "Her boyfriend or husband or... whatever he is. We can watch from the control room." She turned and walked quickly down the hall.

      The operator in the control room had a couple of the cameras on the perimeter of the base aimed at the scene of the action. A sergeant stood behind the operator talking into a headset.
      Several soldiers that had been on guard duty had responded to a disturbance along the fence. They were inside the boundary fence facing whatever was outside. Most were holding non-lethal weapons at the ready. Others had automatic rifles and service sidearms at the ready.
      Outside the fence Doctor Thornton could see a creature that looked much like Sassie but appeared to be larger and heavier built.
      "It's the same one doctor." The sergeant said.
      "It sure is." She looked at Dr. Thornton. "Turn the sound on for Doctor Thornton."
      "Yes ma'am." The operator reached over and pushed a button. The speakers along the sides of the monitors came to life with a racket of howls and barks as well as the sound of clanging and straining metal.
      The huge fence was taking a beating. The creature was shaking and pulling on it until the heavy wire loops that attached the fence to the poles were snapping.
      After several minutes of that the creature stopped and stepped back. It stood and swayed back and forth grunting and hooting. Then it turned and loped off across the clearing between the fence and the surrounding woods.
      "Whoa." Doctor Thornton said as the scene became calm again.
      "He'll probably be back." The operator said. "Eventually he's going to find a weak spot in that fence and come on through."
      Doctor Monroe nodded.
      "May I ask you a serious question ma'am?" The sergeant said.
      "If he gets in. Do you think they could stop him without killing him?"
      Doctor Monroe looked at Doctor Thornton. "I don't think a tazer would even slow him down."
      "Or worse, really piss him off." Thornton said. "They have a lot of thick hair and their skin is really tough as well. He probably wouldn't get the full charge of the tazer even if you got close enough to dart him with it."
      The sergeant nodded. "And if he didn't go down he could do some real damage to whoever shot him with it."
      "I don't think you could get that close to him." Doctor Monroe said.
      "I wouldn't even try." Doctor Thornton said.
      "So we'll have to kill him." The operator said. "That's a shame."
      They watched the monitors for a minute.
      "How would he know she's here?" Doctor Thornton asked. "Pheromones?"
      "Has to be." Doctor Monroe nodded. "We could send out a decoy, or maybe several."
      "My thoughts exactly. Do you still have the hair we trimmed off of her?"
      "Yes. That and some of her... droppings, and other..." She trailed off. "They even took some other- samples, during our initial examination."
      Thornton nodded slowly.
      The sergeant looked from one to the other. "Do you think it'd work doctor? I'd rather not have to order them to shoot him."
      "We can only try it and see." Doctor Monroe said. "Did you have an idea for getting her scent out there?"
      Thornton nodded again.
      "Let's go."

      They gathered up several of the towels that had been used to clean both her and the room up after she'd relieved herself, and used several of the sheets and blankets from her nest to wrap them up in making nice little bundles that were strongly aromatic.
      Then they dispatched several soldiers to drop them at various locations upwind of the base.
      "And be careful. Her, friend, might not take kindly to being fooled." Dr. Monroe told them.
      "Yes ma'am."

      The ruse seemed to work initially.
      One of the base surveillance cameras could see the general area where one of the bundles had been dropped off. A couple of hours after the soldiers had flung it from their vehicle a large dark shape quickly crossed the road and prowled around the embankment for some time.
      Later another sighting was reported near the creek where they had dropped one off the bridge into the tangle of a log jam.
      It bought them a couple of days of relative quiet.
      Every time the staff cleaned up Sassie's room, a bundle of sheets and towels was taken out and dropped off someplace new.

      They moved the surgery up to remove the extra hardware and adjust what was staying in Sassie's leg by a few days.
      Thornton was amazed that the scars and other signs of the previous surgery were almost gone. And when they had her leg open and were working with the implants they could see that the bone had visibly healed since the pre-surgical x-rays had been taken the day before. The damaged femur wouldn't hold her weight yet without help, but there was no doubt that it would soon. However, neither doctor wanted to put her through another major operation again. They did what they could and closed the surgical site. Any further healing was up to Sassie.
      Two days after the surgery Sassie was semi-lucid and once again in her nest. She still wasn't up to standing, but she was moving around a lot more than the nurses thought was good for her leg.

      All of the sudden the hospital building was swarming with soldiers, most of them carrying some of the largest stun guns Doctor Thornton had ever seen.
      "I'm sorry doctor. We have to ask you to stay in here." Two soldiers had positioned them outside the small room he was using as an office.
      "Why? What's going on?" He asked the guards.
      "He came back. With friends." The first one looked down the hall.
      "They destroyed the fence and are coming across the flight line."
      "We have to get her out of here." Thornton said. "Come on."
      The Doctor ignored their commands to stay in his office as he ran down to the control room.
      "You were right." The Sergeant said as soon as he opened the door. "The taser's aren't even slowing them down. If we can't come up with something, we're going to have to start shooting."
      Doctor Monroe came in. "Sassie must be able to hear them or something. She's hooting and howling up a storm."
      "We've got to get her out of here." Thornton said.
      "But she's not...." Doctor Monroe looked at the monitors. Five massive beings were running down the road toward the hospital. The soldiers who were trying to stop them without using lethal force were failing spectacularly. "OK. She'll have to be OK. We can't take a chance."
      "Come on." Thornton said to his guards. "We're going to move the patient."

      It took everybody they could find to half walk and half carry Sassie to the nearest exit. She was still heavily medicated but her excitement over the approach of her friends was enough to make moving her dangerous for everybody involved. Including Sassie.
      They got her out of the building and under a pine tree and were just easing her to the ground when they heard an ear-shattering roar.
      "Nobody move." The sergeant said. "Hold your fire." He told the guards that were with them and the ones that had been pursuing the creatures across the base.
      "Yeah. Let's move back slowly." Thornton said.

      Three of Sassie's kin had stopped near the corner of the building. The biggest male was staring at Sassie while the other two glared at the people.
      The big one spread his arms slightly and roared again.

      "Keep moving." Thornton said. "Slowly."
      The people took a couple more slow steps toward the door. The guards never wavered in their aiming at the creatures.

      Sassie barked at the big one. Then she whimpered plaintively and extended her left arm toward him.
      The big one howled and barked. But then he took a couple of steps toward her.
      Sassie tried to get up but the drugs were still working on her. She fell a little sideways and the big male almost ran to her, but he stopped just beyond her and howled at the people.

      Some of the humans had made it inside the building and were watching from the windows. Others had gotten inside and went to hide.
      Thornton was standing in the door with his hands extended in what he hoped was a non-threatening gesture.
      Sassie barked at her friend again and tried to stand once more. It took her a couple of attempts but she finally got to her feet.
      The big male went to her sniffing and reaching out to touch her arm with a gentleness that seemed all too human.

      Sassie never looked back.
      They gathered the others of their group and walked slowly back across the base to where they'd broken through the fence. Sassie was still limping badly, and when she seemed unsteady she would reach out and hold onto one of the others until it passed.
      The guards followed them through the breach in the fence, then watched as the group vanished into the forest.
      After considerable hooting and howling from the brush all sign of them faded. Then it became quiet and the only evidence of their having been there was the demolished fence.

      A day later a perimeter patrol found the bandages that had been on Sassie's leg discarded in a bush near the bridge.

      A couple of weeks later Doctor Thornton was in his office at his private practice doing paperwork for a new employee.
      "Good afternoon Doctor." Doctor Monroe said with a grin from the door.
      "Well hello Doctor Monroe." He said then he paused. "Don't tell me you have another patient."
      "Yes I do. But this one has a Social Security Number." She smiled. "I was just over to the hospital to check on him and thought I'd stop by and say hi."
      "Have you heard any more about our other patient?"
      "No. The Mounties are keeping an eye out, but I don't think we'll see her near any highways for a long time."
      Thornton nodded. "That's probably for the best."
      Doctor Monroe was still smiling. "But I do need to ask a favor."
      She sighed. "I know we swore to forget it ever happened.... But I would like to establish a folder of information just in case..."
      "In case you ever have another patient without a Social Security Number."
      "It would be my pleasure." Thornton said. He got up and went to his filing cabinet. "I thought the same thing." He took out a CD. "It's a copy of everything I had. Including copies of some of the Xrays and test results." He handed it to her. "You can keep it."
      "Thanks." She reached into her purse and took out a similar case. "This is yours."
      "Thank you."
      "Of course. Neither of these disks exist." She put hers away.
      "Of course. But... Just in case. I'll review this and call you if I have any questions."
      Doctor Monroe smiled. "But it never happened."

End Sassie

[Note: All rights reserved, including the right of approval for further publication. Distributed copies to proofreaders and editors remain property of the author. No 'wild people' were injured in the production of this story.
Email- dr_leftover{~at~}themediadesk{~dot~}com     Selah ]

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