“Get something to put it down!”
Bookworm watched as Lisa scrabbled around on the table, finally holding up a hypodermic needle. “This?” she asked.
“That,” replied Canergak. “Administer it while I hold its arm.” He leaned hard on the struggling cat, holding it as steady as possible.
Lisa’s eyes widened. “But…”
Canergak glared at her. “Don’t you know how?!”
Bookworm caught Lisa’s eyes, and saw a mute appeal in her gaze. Bookworm knew well that Lisa had received some first-aid training, including administering shots, early in her tenure here at the asylum. She didn’t know why the girl didn’t want to do it now, but she couldn’t resist that plea. “I’ll do it,” she said, taking the needle from Lisa.
Stepping forward, she quickly jabbed it into the arm Canergak was holding, and pushed the plunger down. As she did that, the cat hissed at her, and she saw the terror and hatred in its gaze – hatred for her. Bookworm nodded to herself once, realizing she’d seen the answer to Lisa’s refusal. Slowly, oh so slowly, its eyes closed, and its struggling stopped.
Canergak leaned back onto his feet. “I think it’s safe to say that we should not have another session undrugged,” he said dryly.
“I think you’re right,” Bookworm replied nearly as dryly.
Canergak stepped away from the now-calm cat and turned to Lisa. “What did you discover, if anything?”
“Nothing more than what I’ve told you. She distrusts us all because of how she and her kind were treated.”
“That is not what I meant, Lisa,” he said sternly. “I want to know if you are ready to give up on your hypothesis that it may be saved.”
Lisa shook her head, looking stubborn. “Not yet, sir.”
Canergak shrugged slightly. “Very well, we shall do this again under similar circumstances. Next time, though, it will be lightly drugged so it will be… calmer.”
“Yes, sir.” Bookworm saw Lisa look past the asylum administrator at the now-slumbering cat. Her sigh was audible to both the adults. “Is there a problem, Lisa?”
“No, sir,” she replied, though Bookworm saw a wistful gleam in her eyes. Canergak beckoned to them both and said, “Follow me.” He led the way out of the laboratory complex, and back up in the elevator. He nodded at Lisa. “Return to your duties. I have questions for the Lieutenant.”
With a quiet “Yes, sir,” the girl scurried away, and Bookworm braced herself as Canergak turned his gaze on her. While Lisa had been carrying on her incomprehensible conversation with the cat, Canergak had quietly asked her, “Is there any word on the research?” Bookworm had shaken her head no, and the administrator had replied, “That is a pity. I shall have to hire someone to start from scratch then.” She was not looking forward to hearing what that might mean.
“Why have the volumes not been located?” he asked, a little coldly. Bookworm wasn’t sure if the man had been to see Captain Kuroe with his “donation” yet, but so far, she hadn’t seen any signs of militia members searching for the notebooks. She had, from time to time, smuggled out other volumes when she felt it was safe, and at this point, had removed the majority of the volumes she considered most dangerous.
“The militia headquarters have moved several times over the years,” she replied. “Some things were… misplaced. Or even discarded. I hadn’t thought that Dr. Martel’s journals were discarded, but I can’t be entirely sure.”
“I find such negligence inexcusable.” His tone had grown even more chilly.
“We cannot keep everything, Mr. Canergak,” she replied, letting her own voice grow a little cold. “We do not have the storage facilities for that.”
“Well, I meant as I stated before. I shall have to find someone interested in the work to carry on from scratch.”
Her eyes narrowed at the administrator. “You will keep Lisa out of that, I hope?”
“I’ll have to tell him what I know of Dr. Martel’s work, but I will not mention Lisa. I will simply state that he should start with human cadavers and cats’ brains, as there was potentially some success there. Finding someone interested may take years though.” He sighed. “A senseless waste of time and lives, but it shall be done.”
“I rather doubt Lisa would approve of you using cats,” Bookworm replied grimly.
She waved her hand impatiently. “You in a general sense.”
“Lieutenant, I think you mistake me. I intend to give them what I know and then let them carry on as they wish and remind them to stay within the law. The same as I do for all my employees whose research I fund. I tell them to experiment. Find what works. Even if I don’t think it will work, or is pointless, I am willing to have my beliefs questioned and disproven by scientific experimentation. Nothing is sacred.” He nodded sharply to emphasize his pronouncement, said, “Good evening, Lieutenant,” and turned and went into his office.
“Good evening,” Bookworm replied wryly, and headed for the exit.
She found Lisa sweeping in the entranceway. “How are you holding up?” she asked.
The girl shrugged. “All right, I think.” A look of frustration passed over her face. “I just wish he wouldn’t *press* me so! Doesn’t he know that this will take a long time?”
“Oh, I’m sure he does,” said Bookworm. “It’s his way of trying to get you to give up.”
Lisa’s mouth set in a firm line. “Well, I won’t. Not yet.”
“Was there something else you wanted to try down there?” Bookworm asked, remembering the girl’s look at the cat. Lisa glanced down, shifting her weight uneasily. “There is, but… but I don’t even know if it would work. And… well, it’s about the only secret I have left from Canergak.” She looked up again. “And you.”
“And you don’t want to give it up so easily.” Bookworm smiled. “I understand. If you change your mind, though, let me know, and maybe together, we can figure something out.”
Lisa nodded. “There is something else, though. I thought maybe I could bring my brother down there.”
“Your bro–oh, right. That would be a cat.”
“Yes. I showed her a cat before, and she reacted badly. But that cat was in a cage, and I was holding it. If my brother went in freely, and talked to her directly, maybe things would be different.”
Bookworm rubbed her chin in thought. “It would be interesting to see how that goes–if the cat’s aversion to others extends to everyone except those exactly like her. If so, that would mean–”
“Beryl,” sighed Lisa. “There’s still no sign?”
“I’m afraid not.” Bookworm patted the girl’s shoulder comfortingly. “I need to go, but I’ll be sure to see you again soon.”
She left the building and began heading home, thinking hard. Perhaps it was time to finally “discover” some of Dr. Martel’s notebooks, after all. If Canergak saw that Dr. Martel had originally planned to use dogs in his experiments, maybe that would head him off of using cats. Not that Bookworm wanted any animals, or people, to be used in such experiments, but…
She sighed. What she wanted was to stop Canergak completely, but so long as he kept on the right side of the law, there was nothing she could do.