The Sense of Unreality

by Christian Sandvig

The dog needed more medicine. I called the vet and they said to park by the traffic cones, remain in the car, and call them again. When I arrived the spacious parking lot had a pattern of SUVs in front of traffic cones, parked far apart in a way that seemed like an art project or a quilt. It seemed uncanny.

As I waited, two vet techs came out of the building wearing face shields, masks, and some sort of plastic poncho thing. They approached one of the SUVs and the person in the driver’s seat pressed a button. The rear door slowly opened on its hydraulic arms. In the trunk was a giant plastic pet carrier. It seemed like budget-conscious cosplayers trying for a spaceship docking scene in Interstellar.

The techs lifted the big carrier out of the trunk. They moved it gingerly, taking some care, and I thought of Outbreak and Contagion. By all appearances what was in the carrier must be some deadly poison, but I got a glimpse of a tiny terrier, much too small for the crate. 

The dog stood, panting happily, but as the masked techs delicately maneuvered it indoors the feeling of unreality deepened. Their deliberate movements evoked a bomb-defusing scene from Mission Impossible. The terrier seemed happy, but he could explode at any time.

Lonely, I tried to make eye contact and wave at anyone from the other cars, but no one would look up.

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