Jenn was wrist deep in a cat when the lights blacked out. “Shit!” Her boss shouted, then stumbled to the door as things clattered to the floor. Jenn froze stock-still. “I’m going for a flashlight!” he yelled from a now-distant room. Lovely, she thought. She was about to do emergency bladder surgery on a cat worth more than her entire apartment building… with a flashlight. Still rigid, she heard the distinct sounds of Dr. Green bumbling his way back to the operating room. A dim yellow circle of light preceded him. “Found one!” He crowed his victory, then shone the beam promptly in her eyes. “Oops, sorry.” “S’alright. But maybe let’s finish this surgery?” She reminded him with a bit of urgency. “Ah, yes.” His mood was in no way dampened. “Mission save the Ashera, underway! I’ll hold the light. Just tell me what tools you’ll need.”
Three hours later, Jenn stood at the doorstep of the animal hospital and tried unsuccessfully to work the knots out of her shoulders. The cat was thankfully stitched up, still sedated, and settled in her own cage. The surgery had gone as well as could have been expected, given the circumstances. Jenn huffed a snort of laughter that was swallowed by the empty street. Maybe Dr. Green had been right when he'd told her cheerily “Insides are insides. Doesn’t matter if you’ve only ever sliced open a cow before. You’ll know what to do once you get in there.” He was a few crayons short of a box, that man. But he’d hired her with no credentials, just a farming background, so she didn’t really mind.
From the other side of town, a train whistle pierced the darkness, long and low. Jenn wondered if it was the same kind of freight train she’d hopped to get here. She still had bruises on her back from sleeping on those apples. Shaking off the thought, Jenn set off towards the place she now called home. A mile and a half walk, seven flights of stairs and then she could conk out on her $5 blow-up mattress. Hopefully she didn’t get lost on the way.