Bookworm was lying in bed, feeling restless, but still very sore, when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. She sat up carefully, and saw Beryl by the bed. “Hello, Beryl,” she said, though, since she couldn’t hear herself, her intonation was perceptibly off.
Beryl moved closer, and looked up at her. “Are you all right?”
Bookworm looked carefully at his mouth, but since he had no lips, she couldn’t make out what he was saying. She shook her head. “If you need to tell me something, you’ll have to write it. I’m… deaf right now.” She gestured to the nightstand, where Mariah’s notebook and pencil were laid.
Beryl looked at the stationary, and then picked them up and wrote out, ‘The man in blue was chasing down Tepic yesterday.’ They turned the notebook around so she could read it.
Bookworm growled at the written words, anger rising clear in her eyes again. “Is Tepic all right?” Beryl nodded in response.
Sighing, Bookworm passed a hand over her face in frustration. “Mariah’s taking me out of Babbage once I’m fit to travel,” she said.
“You’re leaving?” Beryl muttered aloud, and then wrote out, ‘Where?’
“Boston. Where my parents live, and where Mariah lived for a while.” She shook her head, and gave him a small, wry smile. “I hate to do it, but she’s right–there isn’t anything I can do in my present condition, except sit here being a target.”
“Speaking of being a target…” Beryl stopped and started to write on the notepad once again, “Did you find out anything from him or his men? Anything we could use?”
Bookworm considered his question a few moments. “I don’t know if Mariah told you anything, so I may be repeating what you know,” she finally said. “He’s metal. He said his brain was cut out. Presumably, someone placed it in the metal body.”
Beryl wrote out, ‘Yes, Mariah asked what I knew about that.’
Bookworm raised an eyebrow at that. Something about the phrasing piqued her interest, but she decided to leave it for now. ‘I’ll ask Mariah later,’ she thought. “He was surprised that you’d gotten a warning letter,” she continued aloud. “He had some, including one for me, that he hadn’t delivered.”
Beryl looked surprised at that, and then reached into his pocket and took out the saved letter, wondering, “He hadn’t?” After a moment, they wrote their question again.
Bookworm shook her head. “I think he gave them to Tepic to deliver them now, though. Well *after* the fact,” she said bitterly, tilting her head toward the nightstand, where the note to her sat, as well as another note that had been delivered by Tepic, but had slipped behind the stand. That one had been a warning to anyone in the sewer under that Warren.
‘I haven’t gotten another.’ Berly wrote, though if they were only delivered after the events, then they would not get one for some time yet.
Bookworm shrugged, and winced at the pain that shot through her shoulders. “He threatened one of his men when he–the other man–showed us that he’d been wired with explosives, too. Well, a veiled threat, anyway.”
Beryl grimaced and considered that revelation for a moment, wondering why that had been done, and then wrote, ‘Did you get any name on the man in blue?’
‘PJ?’ they showed her hopefully.
“I don’t think the man in blue is PJ himself. Assuming PJ is a someone.”
Beryl nodded lightly and wrote, ‘The other men. The explosion keeps masking their scents, but they smell almost familiar sometimes. Did you recognize them?’
Bookworm shook her head carefully. “I only really saw one of the others–the one who was wired. The man in blue called him Theodore.”
Beryl stopped for a moment and then very slowly asked on the paper, ‘Is he a big man?’
“Very big. And rather… slow, in movement and thinking.”
Beryl nodded, and gave a sigh. Arnold had known a Theodore once that fit that description, but it couldn’t be the same man who had drowned. Bookworm looked at him intently, as if she wanted to ask something, but she let her breath out without saying anything.
Beryl returned to the notepad and then showed her the next question, though it was rhetorical. ‘Remember when I told you that the man in blue approached me and said “PJ?”’ When she nodded, he wrote, ‘That was only a dream. I dreamed many things, such as the destruction of the Candy Shop, your home, many other things.’
Bookworm’s eyes widened in surprise. “Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
Beryl’s answer was slow in writing, but they finally turned the tablet for her to read, ‘They are dreams; no one could present that as evidence and expect someone to take it seriously. “It’s just a cat who was shot in the head having dreams.”’
“But surely now–”
Beryl shook their head, and wrote, ‘And that is how I want it.’ With that, they tossed the notebook and pencil back on the nightstand and left.
‘What was that about?’ Bookworm wondered, watching him go. She wanted to help him, but wasn’t sure now whether he’d even accept help from her. With a sigh, she lay back down.