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Feb. 28 – Disaster Strikes (Part 1)

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Lisa was scrubbing the floor up by the inmates’ showers. All day, she’d been making rather an ostentatious show of her work, as if she had no other purpose or plan to being there. She rather doubted it fooled Canergak or Professor Vartanian, but she couldn’t help herself. It was a cat’s way, after all.

Once she’d finished that area, she lugged the buckets, now filled with rather dirty water, toward the elevator. As she approached it, though, she could faintly hear shouts and cries echoing up the shaft. She nearly dropped the buckets in her dismay, but managed to set them down off to one side before she hit the call button.

It seemed to take an age before the car arrived. She jumped inside and hit the button for the basement, hoping she was wrong, but somehow knowing she wasn’t. As the open car descended into its destination, she saw Canergak standing there, one of his odd contraptions strapped to his back.

“Lisa!” he called angrily as the car clattered to a stop. “Your… ‘friend’ broke into my room and set free the cat that I was holding here! Beatrixe Rouse is now bleeding to death!” Lisa gasped, a hand going to her mouth. “Call a doctor,” he continued, “any in my employ, or the first you find. Go!”

She punched the button for the first floor, and scrambled out of the elevator car as soon as she could, dashing for the front entrance passing the men watching the entrance. Once through it, though, and at the gate, she paused a moment. The hospital had doctors, of course, but she’d heard that Grendel Footman was one, too, and his observatory was closer. She finally dashed off toward the observatory, hoping Dr. Footman would be there.

Thankfully, he was, and one gasped explanation later, he was following her at the run back to the asylum. She led him to the elevator and rode down; Canergak was waiting for them at the iris-door entrance as he shooed away others who had been drawn by the commotion. “Dr. Footman,” he said, “follow me.” He led Dr. Footman inside, with Lisa trailing along hesitantly past the others, and stepped through the back door which was shut behind her.

Beatrixe was laid upon Canergak’s bed with the stretcher underneath her. Her eyes were shut, the left covered with a bloody cloth, and her breathing was weak. She bled from dozens of claw wounds, though it seemed Tepic had tried his best to stop it. There were tourniquets tied on her arm and leg, but Lisa did not like the angles at which those limbs rested.

Dr. Footman knelt at Bea’s side, working swiftly. Canergak sighed, and went to a cupboard in the corner, shedding his equipment and putting it away. Tepic and Lisa stood together, watching Dr. Footman work, Tepic shifting his weight from foot to foot impatiently. Lisa finally asked tentatively, “Is there anything I can do, sir?”

Canergak whirled, pointing his cane at her accusingly. “This…. is… your… fault!” Lisa drew back, turning pale. “We will have words,” he continued ominously.

“Ain’t nuffin’ ter do with Lisa!” Tepic insisted. “Miss Rouse were showin’ me round, she’s shown me all her wonderful buildins!”

During this time, Dr. Footman had been working on Beatrixe, trying to stop her bleeding enough to be able to transport her to the hospital. He had a few low words with Canergak, and told the orderlies to carry her carefully. They took the now-bloody stretcher up and bore her into the elevator, Dr. Footman walking beside them, still working on the bandages that now swathed her. Lisa watched as they ascended, feeling she’d much rather go with them than stay down here…

Canergak fixed Lisa with an angry stare. “Do you know what I would have done to your friend if I found him alone in my lab?” Tepic edged behind her nervously. “Did he see the other… fox… I wonder?” he mused.

Behind her, Tepic whispered, “Fox? There were a fox in there?”

Canergak suddenly smashed the floor hard with the tip of his cane, making Lisa jump. “You do not know what I do or why!” he shouted. He pointed toward the door. “Out. Both of you.” Lisa and Tepic immediately scurried out, and Lisa repeatedly hit the call button for the elevator, until it came and they could scramble inside.

As they exited on the first floor, and the car descended again, Lisa whispered intensely, “What happened?”

Tepic looked at the elevator nervously. “He ain’t comin’ up, is he?”

But he was. As the car ascended again, they saw him inside. His own face darkened at seeing them still there. “Out!” he roared. They needed no further spurring; Lisa dashed ahead to open doors, and Tepic scurried after her. He leaped down the steps and hit the ground running; Lisa barely had time to draw breath before he was through the front gate.

She turned around, anger and fear mingling in her glare, to see Canergak standing behind her, breathing deeply, his face flushed. “We must talk,” he said, “and then call Miss Hienrichs.” He stopped, and visibly changed his mind. “In fact, run and get her now!”

“Yes, sir.” Lisa was out the door like a shot. She had a feeling she knew where Tepic might be heading, and she hoped she could catch up…

((To be continued…))

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