Tess looked around her studio apartment with a sigh. The paint was more peeled than on the walls and the landlord clearly hadn’t fixed the pipe issue as there were still several suspicious spots on the ceiling. The upside was she wasn’t spending much time here lately. Three jobs meant odd hours and even odder sleeping schedules.
She headed out the door with the morning sun blinding her briefly before she adjusted. She avoided the scene in front of her if possible, she didn’t need to see the ruin that was this neighborhood it was in every sound and smell that permeated the walls.
“Morning Tess.” Her arm waived automatically in the ritual that had been established months ago with the guy next door. They both worked early so usually found themselves in the same hallway more often than not. Tess wasn’t much for morning conversation, especially when decaffeinated as she was. For his part he wasn’t anymore of a morning person than she was and they trudged down the stairs in companionable drudgery.
They went their separate ways and Tess caught the two busses it took to get to her first job of the day. It was the best of the three and the one she wanted to keep it just wasn’t panning out like she had hoped.
The moment she was through the door her boss yelled to her. “Tess get a move on, keepers are bringing in an emergency case. New Bongo attacked a female, horns bleeding bad.” He was past her and into the receiving room as soon as he was finished. Well if she wasn’t awake then she was now. Emergencies tended to have that effect.
Her day started with mass amounts of blood and didn’t improve much from their. Mainly because all her patients kept trying to eat her. First the Meerkat that was less than pleased with its check up and tried to remove fingers at any opening. Several other small vicious things were scattered in her day but everything was rounded out with a crocodile that refused to allow a dental exam and therefore removed the lower section of her right pant leg. Though she was certain the croc would have preferred it had been her leg.
Her boss let her off a bit early after that and told her to get some sleep, she was looking tired. Well of course she was, she couldn’t afford to live off of what they were paying her as only a part time employee. Which meant she had to change into her other uniform before leaving the office and bussing over to the cafe.
To be fair she hated coffee. So being hired at a snooty coffee shop was a bit out of the blue but she wasn’t going to turn it down. Plastering a smile on her face that she hoped said, I really do care about you and I’m not having homicidal thoughts, she spent the next six hours pouring steaming cups of dirt and grass flavored dark water for people who thought they were cool for drinking it.
Making it home by ten was an accomplishment, one that was ruined by the arrival of her neighbor in a state even she couldn’t ignore. It was always hard to ignore a bleeding person when they were in front of your door.
“You’re bleeding on my door.” He looked up at her with a pale face that grimaced in pain. Her face was just as blank as when a customer tried to tell her the Kenyan blend wasn’t as good as the Brazilian. “Why are you bleeding on my door? Could you maybe bleed on your own door?”
“And here I thought we had a sort of friendship going.”
Tess sighed and fished her keys from her pocket. “Fine. Just try to keep the blood off the floor.”
He struggled to his feet as she opened the door. “Why the floor?”
“Because I’m fairly certain everything else in there had seen far worse than a bit of blood, whereas the floor is still mostly new and intact and i’d like to keep it that way.” She gestured him to go ahead of her. He entered with only a slight wobble of blood loss. “Take a seat on the couch and tell me where your bleeding from.” She set her things down near the door and went to find the first aid kit she kept in the event that any of her clients mouths actually connected with her.
“Right shoulder and left side.” He called after her.
The kit stared at her with the faded green army camo and she had to shake her head to clear it before bringing it back to the couch. “Shirt off.”
He complied with only light cursing. She ignored it and set to examining the wounds. “You get a lot of bleeding guys in here?” He asked as she probed the wound on his shoulder.
“What?” She replied distractedly.
“You just don’t seem too surprised, have to wonder what your life is life if this doesn’t even garner a blink.” Tess opened the kit and pulled out the antiseptic and gauze. He looked at the kit. “You also seem to keep enough supplies to save ten people from minor wounds.”
Tess cleaned the wounds with little warning and he hissed. “You’re the first human I’ve had to deal with but considering I lost a perfectly good pair of shoes to blood today and almost lost a leg this is sort of the least interesting thing that happened today.”
He floundered briefly, reminding her of a fish. “What on earth do you do?”
“Vet tech at the zoo, trust me this is the least weird thing I’ve done in months.” She finished cleaning and started wrapping clean gauze on the now reduced bleeders. “You want to tell me who shot, sorry grazed, you or would you prefer this is a don’t ask don’t tell moment?”
“How do you know I was shot at? They could be from something else.” He said defensively.
Tess shrugged. “Fine don’t tell me, you’re no longer going to die from blood loss or infection so I would like my couch back please.” She held out his shirt to him.
He took it and nodded. “Fair enough.” He rose and walked steadily to the door. “Thanks Tess.”
She raised her hand in the normal acknowledgment of his existence and he left.