Lisa was just finishing up her work before her half-day off when she heard familiar claw clicks on the tile floor. “Hello, Lisa,” came Beryl’s voice.
“Beryl!” she cried. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you.” Though she suspected she knew now, she still wanted to hear, directly from him, why he’d aided Professor Vartanian.
Beryl nodded. “Outside, if it isn’t too cold for you? It’s snowing.”
“That’s fine.” Anxious to get some outdoor air, she quickly pulled on her hat, scarf, and gloves, and followed Beryl outside, where the snow was beginning to pile up on the walkway. Beryl paused, but she pushed on, heading for the gate, ready to leave the asylum building behind her for a few hours.
As she neared the gate, she heard flute music piping with the wind. Peering through the swirling snow, she spotted Tepic standing across the street, playing. She smiled and waved. “Tepic!”
“‘Ello, Lisa!” The boy watched as she and Beryl hurried across the street to him. “Nice ter see yer out of there.”
“It’s good to be out, finally.”
“Don’t think it’s a good idea fer me ter come visitin’. Don’t think the boss likes me much.”
“No, he doesn’t,” Lisa replied, and chuckled as Tepic said, “Ah, well, feelin’s mutual.”
Beryl nodded, then looked at Lisa. “Are you finally free, though?”
“No. Just a lessened probation.” Lisa got the words out with an ease gained from multiple repetitions.
“What exactly does that mean?” Beryl tilted his head inquiringly.
“I can go out during the day, if my duties allow. I can even go out at night, if I let them know where I’m going.” She smiled to herself, knowing that she still wouldn’t be telling anyone at the Asylum about the monthly meetings among the cats. “But he still wants me there… and still wants me to be in his lab sometimes.”
“So we ain’t ready ter spring his victims yet? I ain’t forgot what he’s doin’ ter the poor things.” Tepic turned aside, a grim look on his face.
“We’re trying to help them, Tepic,” Beryl hastened to assure him. “At least, I hope that we can help them.”
“I knows. It’s just gettin’ a bit difficult ter crack the joint now.”
“It may be slightly easier.” Beryl jerked his head back toward the asylum building. “Beatrixe is working on a new roof. Something about the old one threatening to crush the place underneath.”
“Oh!” Tepic exclaimed, eyeing the place with speculation.
“Then again,” Beryl added, “looking at it now, even unfinished, it may be harder.”
“I’m sure she’d be up fer puttin’ in a few secret panels!” He grinned.
“Knowing her, she probably would.”
“Course, gettin’ ‘em out is the easy bit. It’s findin’ somewhere safe ter stash ‘em after.”
Beryl said soberly, “The hard part is getting out alive with some of them.”
“Well, that too.” Tepic looked a little deflated, then turned thoughtful. “I wonder. Jimmy works down at the wax museum, don’t he?”
“As a messenger, yes.”
“Maybe… maybe we could get him ter make models of some of ‘em, an’ sort of replace ‘em one at a time, startin’ with the ones his nibs messes with least?”
Beryl couldn’t help but smile at the outrageousness of that plan. “Tepic, I’ve never been down to Canergak’s office. What would they even look like?”
“Well, reckon me an’ Lisa could remember some of ‘em. An’ it’s probably best yer ain’t been down there, cuz yer’d go spare… err… I didn’t say that!” Tepic covered his mouth, his shocked eyes peering over his hand.
“He knows about the cat like him, Tepic,” Lisa quickly assured him.
“Yer do? An’ the place is still standin’?”
Beryl sighed. “Tepic, I already brought a place ‘down,’ so to speak, for holding one of my kind, and it did not go…” He paused. “It ended very sadly.”
“Myn has to be rescued after she won’t hurt anyone,” Beryl continued. “Otherwise, she’s a danger to herself and… well, to you both.”
“How do we make her less… narked?”
((To be continued…))