Lisa was attending to her neglected duties, scrubbing the dining-room floor, when she heard the tap-tap of Canergak’s cane. She quickly stood up, the nervousness she’d always felt in his presence now magnified beyond measure. Beyond Canergak, she saw Miss Hienrichs peek into the room. “Good night, Lisa,” she called. “I’ll see you again soon.”
“Good night, Miss Hienrichs.” Lisa saw the woman glance at Canergak, a puzzled frown on her face. She sighed and left; a moment later, they heard the front entrance open and shut.
“Sir?” she said apprehensively.
“Did you know that this whole time, I thought you were a Moreau?”
Lisa’s jaw dropped as she stared at him in utter bewilderment. She’d been so sure he thought she was human; how could he have expressed any concern for her otherwise? “I… I don’t understand,” she finally managed to say.
“My eyes don’t see physical bodies, as I told you. You have always appeared to my sight as a tall, feline-like creature. I simply assumed you were a Moreau. But you aren’t.” He began muttering to himself, “Dr. Martel… transplanting minds… experiments on felines… no memory of a previous life…”
Lisa began trembling, helpless to do anything but stand and watch as yet another nightmare came true. When he finally asked, “You were a test subject, weren’t you?” she tried one last time to deflect him, though she knew it wouldn’t work. “I… I don’t know…”
“Afraid of doctors… yes, I can see it now. I feel like an old fool.” He fixed her with a stern gaze, and she tried to brace herself. “If you are one of his test subjects, why didn’t you come forward with pride?”
She stared at him, dumbfounded. All her fear, all her despair, all her anger finally boiled over, and she cried, “When I see how you treat others?!”
“I fail to see the relation,” he said coldly. “Explain.”
“Because I am a cat!” She couldn’t even think now; she just let her emotions cry out for her. “A cat’s brain and spirit in a human body! I’m nothing but a specimen to you! An abomination!” She began crying, the tears blurring his hateful figure. “Of course I tried to hide that! You only care about humans–pure humans!”
“I’m afraid you don’t know me quite as well as you believe. I only care about ‘living’ creatures. Mortal creatures.”
“And Beryl and Tepic aren’t? What makes them not living, not mortal?”
“If I were to shoot you in the head, or you me, we would be dead.” He raised an eyebrow, as if well aware how much she wanted to do just that to him. “If I were to cut off your head, or you me, we would be dead. That is a very distinct difference.”
“Are you saying Beryl and Tepic can’t be killed?” Her choked voice still conveyed her scorn at that idea.
“They can be killed, but it is not often a simple thing,” Canergak replied, as if that somehow explained things. “Even that creature below, the ‘Deep One,’ is inadequate. No, Lisa. My research and my specimens have never been ‘living creatures.’ I have never harmed a ‘living creature.’ We simply do not see eye-to-eye on what is and is not alive.” With that, he turned on his heel and left.
Lisa stared after him, still unconvinced–and appalled. After a moment, though, the totality of everything that had gone wrong that day came crashing into her consciousness. She flung down her brush, dropped onto the dining-table bench, and wept.
((To be continued… but nearing the end… sort of…))