A Poetic Disorder – A Tale of the Galactic Circle Veterinary Service Copyright © 2015 by Stephen A. Benjamin All rights reserved. No part of this story (ebook) may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or book reviews. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidences are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Edited by Terry Wright Cover Art by Terry Wright ISBN: 978-1-936991-96-9
A Tale of the Galactic Circle Veterinary Service by Stephen A. Benjamin
When the government on the planet Crevasse requested help for an unusual medical problem, my self-preservation synapses kicked into overdrive. Strange diseases often had proven as dangerous to us as to the affected animals. The caller was unable—or unwilling—to explain further, so I reserved judgment until we landed. As our AI-piloted ship, the Galactic Circle Veterinary Service, dropped toward the surface, the reason for the planet’s name became obvious. A huge canyon cut through the crust east to west as far as the eye could see. We leveled out and traced the path of the canyon some one hundred meters below until we reached the spaceport. A welcoming party of two, a man and a woman, walked toward us as we descended the ship’s ramp. I stuck out my hand. “Hi. I’m Dr. Cy Berger. This is my co-captain and medical assistant Furoletto Cohen.” A paunchy middle-aged man stepped forward. He wore a gray uniform with gold piping on the collar and sleeves. He shook my hand
then stared up at Fur, who stood two and a third meters and pushed one hundred-thirty kilos, before offering his hand to him. “Welcome.” After watching their robust handshake, I sensed our greeter was happy to get his fingers back unbroken. “I am Rond Lester, President of the Crevasse Council.” The woman accompanying Lester wore a green tunic and a smile. She was of middle height with wavy brown hair, perhaps in her early forties. Her breast pocket bore an embroidered serpent-entwined Staff of Asclepius, the ancient symbol of the medical profession. “I’m Dr. Cristin Codroy representing the Crevasse Medical Council. We are pleased to meet you, Dr. Berger, Mister Cohen. The Galactic Circle Veterinary Service has a reputation for successfully dealing with unusual animal diseases.” I smiled at her compliment, but cringed inwardly—there was that word unusual again. Fur and I had seen many bizarre ailments, some too deadly for my comfort. “Please outline the situation for us, Dr. Codroy.” “Follow me.” We followed Codroy and Lester toward the spaceport’s terminal. I received empathic pinpricks of discomfort from Lester as we walked, and I wanted to know why. What danger were we facing here? Codroy said, “There are few domestic animals or pets on Crevasse and, therefore, no veterinarians. We have an outbreak of disease in the primary native animal we...utilize. We haven’t been able to resolve the
malady.” She was leaving something out. I didn’t need my empathic ability to read that, but a hint of humor underlay her remarks. A flush of embarrassment from Lester made the whole thing more curious. My empathic talent allows me to sense the emotions of animals and to soothe stressed beasts, a useful skill for a veterinarian. I also perceive human emotions, but I’m not a telepath. I can’t influence people in the way I can animals. In fact, receiving strong emotions, animal or human, can cause me nausea and headaches. When we took seats in a conference room inside the terminal, Codroy said, “As you saw, the unique feature of our planet is the Canyon. It varies in width and depth, but completely girdles the world, including the sea floors. We don’t understand how the Canyon was formed and we’ve hardly begun to explore its secrets.” “How deep does it go?” Fur asked. “In many places it is only a kilometer or two deep, but there are cracks and tunnels which delve deeper than we have gone.” Lester jumped in. “You must remember we are a young world. Major immigration started just fifty years ago. We have our hands full developing our settlements and agriculture, not much time left for exploring the Canyon.” Lester’s defensiveness had my brain almost itching. What bothered the guy so much?
Codroy added, “What you need to know is what we found living in the Canyon. We’ll take a trip there. It’s something that shouldn’t be missed, and it’s necessary in your case.” Fur jumped in. “You’ll have to tell us what the problem is before we agree to go.” I sensed his twitchiness. Codroy frowned. “I’m not sure you can appreciate our problem without firsthand observation. Please bear with me on this.” “You’re being very secretive over an animal disease,” I said, not at all pleased. Fur and I had been through a nasty experience on the planet Ulm when the locals didn’t level with us about the nature of their trouble. A hydra, one of their giant mobile predatory plants, nearly ate me. The scars from that experience persisted, both physical and psychological. Codroy’s response almost seemed clairvoyant. “I assure you that there will be no danger to you, but this must be seen to be fully understood. Don’t worry, if you aren’t interested in a contract, you will be remunerated for your expense and time in coming here.” I glanced at Fur. “What do you think?” He shrugged. “We need more information before we make a decision.” “Yeah.” I hoped acquiring that information wouldn’t get us killed. ***
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About the Author
Dr. Stephen A. Benjamin was born and raised in New York City. He received his A.B. degree from Brandeis University, and his D.V.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University, and heâ€™s a board-certified veterinary pathologist. He has been a university teacher, researcher, and administrator, and is currently Professor Emeritus at Colorado State Universityâ€™s College of Veterinary Medicine. His interests in human and animal health are reflected in most of his short stories and novels. He lives in Colorado with his wife, and enjoys traveling, especially visiting his family, fishing, golf, skiing, cooking, and writing fiction.
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Published on May 13, 2015
Published on May 13, 2015
In a corner of the galaxy far far away, Dr. Cy Berger, operating the first interplanetary veterinary service, lands on an alien world where...