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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #1735543
Utah sheep ranchers' herds are dying. A local veterinarian faces an ethical dilemma.

Dr. Hodges looked up from the microscope shaking his head. He picked up his notebook and scanned the column of numbers, not wanting to believe they were right. Before he could insert a new slide, Thomas heard a sharp rap on his door. Looking over the microscope his eyes first took in the rows of colored rectangular medals on the man’s chest.

“Dr. Hodges? Sorry to disturb you, I’m Colonel Johnson.”

“How may I help you, Colonel?”

“The U.S. Government is very concerned about the local ranchers’ claims of an increase in sheep and lamb fatalities. I’m investigating these allegations and have been authorized to access all available medical information pertaining to these animals.”

“Colonel, I’m glad you’re here.” Thomas gestured to the boxes of slides behind him. “I have sheep bone, blood and tissue samples. It’s very clear we’re looking at damage on a cellular level.”

The colonel began walking around the lab as he talked, picking up instruments and opening cabinets. “Our scientists will have to corroborate all findings before any information is released to the public. We don’t want to start a wave of panic, now do we?”

Not waiting for an answer, he continued. “You’ve been licensed as a veterinarian here in Utah for what 8 years? Fine practice you’ve built up here. Should be able to pay off your loans in maybe another 7?” He turned to face the veterinarian. “If nothing unforeseen happens.”

“Just what do you mean?”

“Just an observation, Dr. Hodges. Most citizens seem to take it for granted the US government will protect their rights. It’s people like me who allow people like you the freedom to pursue their dreams.” He pointed to the slides. “This, Dr. Hodges, is the price you will have to pay.”

11.24.10 Daily Flash Fiction Contest winning entry prompt: wave, bone, clear

290 words
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