Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dr. Rathberger's Clinic For Exotic Animals - #FridayFlash Fiction

Nigel Rathberger slipped on his white jacket and pondered, not for the first time that day, whether he'd made a mistake trading old women with corpulent cats and yapping dogs for the menagerie which paraded into his clinic each morning. Take, for example, the creature peacefully lying on the table and its anxious young owner.

"Can you help him, please? I don't want Sparky to die."

"He doesn't look too badly off. Let's have a look, shall we? Tell me why you think he might be ill."

"He eats a lot but then he groans and carries on something awful. You can see he's kind of blown up. And he doesn't play anymore. He just wants to sit on his heat rock. Oh, and his scales aren't pretty like they used to be."

Nigel had noticed that the usually iridescent scales had gone opaque.

"Well, let me put a bit of tape around his jaws - I know you said he's very gentle, but animals of any sort can be a bit snappish when distressed." Tape in place, he gently rolled back an armored eyelid. "Nictitating membrane looks fine. Eyes are clear. That's a good sign."  He palpated Sparky's abdomen. "Ah."

"You found something?"

Nigel cleared his throat. "I'll have to make a rather uncomfortable exploration, but I suspect that Sparky is not a him, but rather a her. And pregnant I might add. Let me see if she has any eggs."

"But he...she hasn't been out of the house."

"Yes, well, there have been rare instances of both Bearded and Komodo dragons becoming pregnant through asexual reproduction. I haven't seen it in this species though. We might have a very special event here."

After a thorough examination which confirmed the news, Nigel had the owner remove the tape from its snout and place his pet on the floor. "Walk her a few steps."

Sparky tried to dig her claws into the tile floor, straining backward against the leash. A sudden loud gurgle from the animal's inwards made them all jump.

Nigel snapped his fingers. "I'll wager there's something else making her uncomfortable." He withdrew a bottle from the cabinet and scattered what looked like rancid meat chunks on the floor. "Activated charcoal disguised in canned dog food. A tried and true method for relieving upset stomach in animals."

Sparky snapped up a few of the morsels, tilted her head up, and swallowed. Her tongue flicked out and she looked into space thoughtfully. They waited. Another wet gurgle echoed through the room; Sparky regarded her nether region with what could only be regarded as surprised dismay.

They waited.

"It's not wor..."


Sparky belched a stream of flame which curled the paint from the door as a similar extrusion shot out the rear, setting the veterinarian's pant leg on fire. Swearing, he dropped his trousers and flung them into the sink as a suffocating miasma filled the air.

"Everything alright in there?" came an anxious voice as Lily, the receptionist, peeked into the room.

"Yes, yes, PERFECTLY ALRIGHT. Just GLORIOUS I'd say. Absolutely WONDERFUL. I ENJOY taking my pants off during office visits and NEARLY HAVING MY WILLY CRISPED. Please go back to eating your lunch or answering the phone or applying for jobs where your BRILLIANT POWERS OF OBSERVATION WILL BE PUT TO BETTER USE."

Lily clucked her tongue and angrily tapped her way back down the hall.

The client slipped out after her, the now much-relieved Sparky at a running crawl behind.

Nigel set about putting the exam room to rights, opening the window, outfitting himself with a fresh pair of surgical scrubs, and running a still shaking hand through his hair. From outside he could hear the distinct sounds of hoof beats and a set of very large wings flapping. For crissake, a gryphon AND a unicorn scheduled on the same afternoon? Lily was absolutely going to get the sack.

Yesteryear's patient list of farting Bulldogs, sneezing kittens and a neurotic parrot was looking better and better each day.


  1. Aha, there's the comment box! This was pretty hilarious — farting dragons are always a crowd-pleaser! Unless, of course, you have to be in the literal line of fire…

  2. Poor Nigel. But then again, it is the profession he chose.
    this had me smiling.

  3. i love komodo dragons, the closest thing to the dinosaurs perhaps? Makes me sad to think of the lucrative trade in exotic animals that goes on. Me, I'll stick with kittens

    marc nash

  4. Now I don't think I'd like the be either the vet or the receptionist. Definitely nasty! D

  5. I used to imagine WOOSHes made everything better! Well darn, I'll have to keep a watch out. And farting dragons, too...

    Also, nice to see a fellow writer adopting "alright" as a compound word!

  6. Love it! Pet dragons are always a good time. Great for fire starters too.
    Also....congrats! :)

  7. Oh my gosh Lisa, that's precious! I love dragons and the way you played it into the story. Oh and now on to your REALLY big story, congratulations on being a new GRANDMA!!!! I am so glad to hear mom and baby are doing well. Thank you for stopping by to tell me. You are going to be an awesome Grandma. What a lucky baby to have someone tell endless stories to them to build their imagination! I'm so excited for you!