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Jan. 10 – A Glimmer of an Idea?

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Miller looked like he was going to be ill, holding a handkerchief to his mouth as he looked at the body. It had been cleaned for examination, but it was still too much for him. He turned away and walked past Bookworm after a few moments.

Bookworm followed the doctor, maintaining a sympathetic silence for a little. “Well?” she finally asked.

“I’m sorry…” He said as he stood up, panting. “The wounds are… they are familiar. I’ve seen similar at least…”

“Where have you seen such before?” she asked quietly.

“A few months ago, Cortman brought one of his men to me with a long gash across his chest and other wounds that looked like a wild beast had savaged him.” Miller explained haltingly, though mostly because he was tripping over his own tongue. “It wasn’t until after I had stopped the bleeding, all the while assuring him he needed to go to a medical doctor, that they told me he had been attacked by one of the inmates at the asylum.”

“Wait,” Bookworm said, halting in her tracks. “You’re *not* a medical doctor?”

“No,” he admitted, squirming a bit. “I am a zoologist.”

“Oh, dear–I *am* sorry, Dr. Miller,” she said, feeling rather abashed. “I assumed, because Cortman and his men had gone to you in such a capacity…”

“I had hired him and his crew during the Kraken Migration, they started to come to me out of familiarity…” Miller explained, looking less pale. “I needed a crew that was willing to fly alongside, and within the Migration itself. Only Cortman didn’t openly laugh in my face.”

“I see,” Bookworm replied. “Well, I won’t expect you to set his nose, if you don’t have training for that. But perhaps you have something in that bag that will help with the pain?”

“Tranquilizers are a necessity in my line of work,” Miller admitted, and began to rummage in his bag.

“That should do.” She then returned to her previous line of questioning. “I don’t suppose any of Cortman’s men mentioned who the attacking inmate was?”

“I’m sorry… if I did know, I would tell you Miss Hienrichs,” Miller replied.  “When I was tending Janus, all I recall was hearing the men talking about superstitions and other nonsense.”

Bookworm paused outside Weston’s cell door, leaning against the wall. “Oh? Please, tell me.”

Dr. Miller laughed nervously, “Oh nothing of consequence. Just mutterings about werewolves.” He began to play with his hat once again.

Something told her he was trying to convince himself that it *was* just nonsense. She left it for the moment, though, and unlocked the cell door. “The patient is in here, Dr. Miller. Once you’ve finished, I wonder if you might accompany me to the asylum? I think you may still be able to help me.”

“Ummm…of course Miss Hienrichs,” Miller replied.  Weston was watching them both now, sitting up and waiting while clutching his nose.

“Dr. Miller has something that’ll at least help with the pain until we can get a medical doctor here,” Bookworm told him. “Before he gives it to you, though, can you tell me where the others went?”

“I avoid da hangman, and I’ll dell you whadever you wand,” Weston said with a combination of nervousness and bravado.

Bookworm raised an eyebrow, startled that he apparently didn’t know that New Babbage didn’t even have a judge. She didn’t see any harm, though, in playing off of that. “I can’t guarantee that, but I’ll put in a word for you.”

“Dey were headed for an island soud ob Mondrago.  Capdain had someding buried dere.  We were supposed da splid id ebenly abter he was dead.”

“Thank you,” Bookworm said, and nodded at Dr. Miller to proceed. She watched as he prepared a tranquilizing injection, and jabbed Weston expertly. When he was done, she led him out and relocked the cell. “Are you ready?”

“As much as I will be,”  He responded quietly.  “I’ve never been to a…crime scene before.”  He finished, settling on the nicest way to describe the events that had taken place.

“Well, it has been a few days, so it is cleaned up, for the most part,” Bookworm reassured him. She took him south through the city, turning the conversation to more innocuous things–the weather, his work, his adventure with the kraken migration. When they reached the asylum, she unlocked the door with Arnold’s set of keys, which she’d taken charge of for the duration of the investigation. She nodded to the plot of land next door. “At least Mr. Canergak is doing one good thing now, building this new hospital. We certainly need it.”

She led the way inside and up the stairs, and finally into the cell block. Looking back at Dr. Miller, she brought him to the window of Rasend’s cell. “Take a look,” she said.

Miller looked inside and frowned as he backed away, “I see…or I think I understand…”  He paused and licked his lips.  “You want me to look at the inmates to see which one of them might have assaulted Janus?”

“Well, this one would be the… most likely suspect,” Bookworm said. “But yes, I’m hoping you can, with your zoological expertise, tell me if his claws match the wounds.” She unlocked the cell door and stepped inside. Looking back, she saw his reluctance. “It’s all right, doctor. He’s currently in a coma.”

He nodded very slowly as he edged his way into the room, and then another moment to make sure that Rasend was not moving.  Then he went to his knees and examined the subject, opening his mouth and moving quickly.  “The canines are similar to both the previous wounds and the wounds found on the…the victims.  The claws are also roughly the same size.  I would be willing to say that the…the victims attacker is slightly larger, but that the groupings are roughly the same.”

“Huh.” Bookworm looked down, frowning. “There’s one rather large problem, though, Dr. Miller. Rasend has been in a coma, and strapped down, and locked in here, since *before* the killings. How could he have committed them?”

“He couldn’t have Miss Hienrichs…” Miller said, looking about the square cell. “Not unless he could walk through solid walls made of iron.”

“Indeed,” she said, stepping outside the cell. Dr. Miller followed her down the hall. “In fact, all the inmates are securely locked in cells. All… all except…” She trailed off, looking a bit sick, looking at a particular tag. “Could it be?” she whispered to herself. “And if so, how on earth do I test it?”

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One Comment

  1. Garnet Psaltery Garnet Psaltery January 11, 2013

    Perhaps Babbage could use the services of a Schattenjäger?

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