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Motherly Love
Recorded by: Ziska Ames

"What happened to it?" The question was obviously spoken with
a worried thread, but in a soothing tone so not to frighten the
battered cub.

"Mauled by its mother, we think. Nobody actually saw it
happen, but that's what we assume from the bite and scratch marks.
Found the poor fella collapsed in the woods." the man said as he
placed the bloody, ragged cheetah cub on the table.

"Wild animals never cease to amaze me. Imagine attacking your
own children." The veterinarian sighed as she looked over the young
cheetah's body. It was in terrible shape and it would be very hard to
save its life. But she had to try. She always tried.

The cheetah tried to lift his head and cried out piteously as
the muscles strained. The injuries caused by his mother's claws were
deep and severe, slicing through skin, muscle and bone. The voices
were just noise in the background of the roaring sounds in his ears.
He didn't understand what was being said, he didn't even recognize it
as language. He did recognize the animals as humans though. He'd seen
the taller one from afar a number of times as it watched the cubs
play.

The vet poked and prodded the baby cheetah's lower legs and he
barely twitched in a reflexive response. It didn't hurt when she
touched his legs. His lower body was numb, though he couldn't guess
why.

"Severed spinal cord." the veterinarian said with a sigh. "I
don't know, Don. This doesn't look good."

"Try, Julie. It would be a pity to lose the cub. We might have
to put the mother down. She's killed three of her other cubs." Don
sighed sadly as he looked down at the bundle he had brought in.
Something was telling him this was useless. This cub was as good as
dead. But, like Julie, he couldn't just stand by and watch it fade
out. He had to do something.

"Some motherly instinct," Julie quipped as she took a needle
off the tray to her right and inserted it into the cub's hindquarters.

The brilliant white walls faded from his already blurred
vision as the tranquilizer took effect. He welcomed the darkness as a
sanctuary from the pain.

"You'll be back tomorrow to check on him, I assume." Julie
stated. Don would never leave an animal without checking on it
everyday. He loved these wild creatures.

"Of course. I know we might lose him, Julie. But after this
there's only two cubs left." Don spoke quietly as normal. He hardly
ever spoke above a whisper, a habit picked up from dealing with
animals that lashed out at a loud noise.

"I won't promise anything, Don. But I will try." Julie said as
she carefully slid the cub onto a pad and turned to carry him to the
operating room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Julie watched as the cub strained again to stand up. The
limited control he had over his back muscles was just not enough to
force his legs underneath his body.

He gave up, dropping his head to the floor of the cage and
panting from exertion.

Julie sighed and rubbed her temples. The poor thing had been
trying since it woke up this morning to stand. And it hadn't succeeded
once. It never would.

The sound of the door opening in the lobby jerked her
attention back to reality and she moved to see who had come in.

As she had expected she was greeted with the sight of Don
standing self-consciously in the middle of the room, hat in hand and a
small grimace of dread on his lips.

She nodded in greeting and motioned for him to come to the
backroom.

"It isn't good. He's not dead, I managed that much, but I
couldn't do anything about the spinal damage. He has a very limited
control of his back muscles and otherwise is paralyzed from the neck
down." She lifted her eyes to Don's face and motioned to the cage the cub
was in.

Don walked over and looked down at the cub who stared back
blithely unaware of the context of the conversation. He guessed he was
involved because the humans were practically starring at him as they
talked, but he couldn't guess what the subject was beyond that.

He attempted to flex his claws as the man continued to stare
at him, and looked down in surprise when no response came. It had been
like that all day. He couldn't stand, move, or sit up. He wished he
knew why.

"Don, there's no point. We have no choice." Julie said after a
number of minutes during which Don just stared at the cub.

"I didn't want it to come to this, Julie."

"Nobody ever does. But there's no place in the wild for a
cheetah that can't walk. He can't even sit up, Don." Julie placed a
consoling hand on his shoulder as he sighed and stood up. "Come on.
I've already drawn up the papers. I know you don't want to sign them,
but as the state representative you have to."

"I know," was his only reply. With a last glance at the cub,
he allowed Julie to lead him to her office.

The cub watched them go, then tried again to stand up. If he
could get to his feet, maybe he could use his claws and teeth to get
out of this confining thing. And out of this building and back to his
brothers and sisters.

He failed again. He just couldn't do it! He hung his head and
mewled sadly.

The door opened and he looked up quickly as the shorter human
moved towards his box and opened a door in the side. It reached in
slowly and instinct flared. The cub twisted its head, hoping this time
his body would come with him, but he was disappointed. He only managed
to flop onto his side.

The human murmured something as it picked him up and carried
him to a table.

"Don, would you hold his head? He might try to bite me." Julie
looked at him sadly and he moved to place one large hand on the cub's
neck, effectively pinning his head to the table.

The cub was frightened. Something bad was happening. He
struggled wildly and was only angered when his head was the only thing
to move. And he could barely move that! The human was holding him down
with a single hand.

Julie stroked the cub's fur softly and sighed as she picked up
a needle and bottle from the shelves. She measured the dosage
carefully and placed a hand on the cub's hindquarters as she
positioned the needle.

"I'm sorry." she whispered to both the cub and Don as she slid
the needle into the cub and injected the fluid.

Slowly the cub's struggles weakened. This was worse than
before. Now even his head wasn't responding! His mouth opened and he
gave a last desperate mewl as everything faded out.

Don sighed and scooped the body up to bury it outside. He'd
hoped so fervently that this time the animal would survive. "Maybe
next time... maybe..."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sniff sniff. This has to be one of the sadest stories I've ever
written. It was for a class assignment, but I like it all the same.

Ja!
Zi-chan