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“What do you think you’re doing?! Get away from that thing!”  The large man shouted as he turned his key and the gate began to rise slowly.

“Quick, Mr Wolf! Think, quick!”  Tepic cried, shaking the metal table.  Lisa whispered rapidly, “I think Tenderpaws may be his only name.”

Rasend couldn’t think of anything else, and he doubted that was his true name.  Tepic knew, though, that they were out of time. “We gotta try it!”  Lisa nodded and stood in the doorway, trying to block the man from coming inside.

“I call you Tenderpaws!”  Tepic shouted as the man raised his hand to slap Lisa out of his way. She crouched down a little and tensed, prepared to launch herself at the strange man.  The fox started to reach for a pebble in his pocket, as he continued, “I call you Tenderpaws!”

“What is going on!” An older voice shouted, the one belonging to the man who had been speaking with Canergak.  At the sound of the approaching figure, the bearded man grabbed Lisa and threw her away from the cell.

Lisa rolled and was on her feet immediately. She charged at the big man while Tepic shouted, “We rescuing Mr. Wolf from this dump!  I call you Tenderpaws!”

The orderly bent down to Lisa’s level and then punched her face, dead on.  Lisa reeled back, stunned and staggering while clutching her nose, blood flowing freely down already.

The older man had arrived in time to see it all. Outraged, he cried out, “Mr. Cortman!”  

Tepic shouted in dismay as well, and he pulled out his pebble and threw it at the man’s head. “You leave her alone!  Bully!”  

The man turned towards Tepic after the pebble hit his head.  He blew out some smoke and then he went into the cage to remove Tepic as well.  Tepic bit down on the arm which grabbed him, and then released it, spitting and gagging. “Ewww…when ya wash last!”

Lisa tried to shake her head clear, sending blood flying, but then readied herself to attack again as Mr. Cortman left the cell with the fox and slammed the door.  

THAT IS ENOUGH!”  The older gentleman cried as he entered the cell area.  Lisa held still, panting a little at his arrival.  Cortman dropped Tepic to the floor, who turned back to him defiantly.  “I’m saving their lives, Dr. Solsen.” He blew smoke directly at Tepic’s face, causing the fox to cough.  “They’re simply ungrateful.”

Lisa countered, holding her swelling face, “We’re saving him, you horrid man!  From that man’s experiments!”

Mr. Cortman grunted and then lifted a thumb to indicate the cell door, “You’re just lucky I strapped this thing into the table a few hours ago.  If I hadn’t, you’d be dead.  Right now I have half a mind to throw you all in a cell and leave you there.”  Lisa clenched her hands into fists, memories of her confinement at the hands of Ambrose flooding her.

“He’s right,” Dr. Solsen replied softly.  “You two could have been hurt.  Rasend is dangerous, just earlier today he injured someone…badly…”

Tepic shouted back, “Tenderpaws ain’t hurt me never, an he’s not a ….. what he were before no more!”

“Tenderpaws?”  Dr. Solsen looked at his ears closer and then looked back at him surprised, “Young man…can you speak to your….canine friend?”

Tepic indicated the cell with a nod. “Yep, Tenderpaws…. course I can, not easy but he can understand yer well enough… he knows when that bloke is sayin’ he’s gonna beat him up, an’ him all tied up…..”

The doctor stood back up and rubbed his chin in thought. “That…is very good to know young man…”

Cortman turned to the doctor, after he threw away his now burnt out cigar. “You’re not listening to this delinquent, are you?”

Lisa glared daggers at the taller man, while Tepic protested, “I ain’t no del…dee…whatever it means!”

“Be quiet!” Dr. Solsen ordered, adding authority to his voice to the orderly.  

The orderly just shrugged and lit another cigar as he went to the gate with his key once again. “Your funerals.”

As the large man left Lisa blotted at her nose, seeing that it was still bleeding.  Tepic went over to her now that the bully was gone and reached into one of his pockets. “Here, Lisa, use my handkerchief….”

Dr. Solsen took a moment to steady himself, and then he asked them if they were all right.  Lisa thanked Tepic and then held the handkerchief to her nose before they turned to the doctor.  

Tepic nodded, “I am, mister.  Take more’n one of yer bullies ter knock me about. Likes hittin’ girls though, don’t he?”

Lisa said, “I’b been bedder,” through the pressure with which she was holding her nose.

“Mr. Cortman is…rough.”  The doctor looked past them towards the hall where they could hear a light cough coming from the man.  “He has replaced Arnold as the chief orderly for the time being…at Canergak’s request.”

“Ha! Recon Mr. Arnold should come back then, keep this place in order….”  Tepic said.  “Anyhow, Tenderpaws ain’t a wolf no more, least no more’n he should be, bein’ who he is….so yer can let ‘im out now…”

A cold and flat voice broke through the air, terminating the conversation with its implied menace. “What is this?”

Lisa hissed, taking the handerchief off her nose, ready to fight again.  Tepic tried to stay inconspicuous, while Cortman responded, “Two children were caught breaking into the beast’s room.”

The two opened the gate once again, and the shrunken man entered the room.  He studied them with strange metal eyes for a time, then asked, “Why have they not been arrested?”

“Because they are children,” the doctor said as if this should be obvious.  Lisa glared at the strange bearded man, fighting herself to keep quiet.  “And I personally believe that there are other things we should be doing right now.”

“Like lettin’ Tenderpaws go…….” Tepic whispered softly.

Canergak seemed to ignore him as he turned back to Dr. Solsen. “On that last point we agree completely Dr, for once.”  The man moved towards Rasend’s cell calmly.  “They broke in here for this creature.  The children seem to care for the creature’s soul…many of them do for whatever reason.

“If we remove that from the equation they’ll no longer have any reason to break in.”

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One Comment

  1. Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse November 21, 2012

    *starts looking for the popcorn and Skittles*


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