Back in her body, Lisa sat up, looking around. Through the legs of the table, she could see Canergak’s legs positioned beyond Professor Vartanian’s chair. She had more important matters to attend, though, as she heard Myn thrashing about on the table above. She stood up and placed her hands firmly on Myn’s shoulders, trying to hold her still. “Myn,” she said softly in Feline. “Myn, I’m here.” Myn’s eyes opened for a second, but shut again as she yowled painfully once. Her thrashing stopped and she lay motionless, breathing lightly.
Lisa straightened up, looking over to the professor. Eyes still closed, he scrunched his nose, and lifted a hand to scratch at his neck. He pulled away a bit of straw that dissolved in his hand. Frowning, he opened his eyes.
“Are you all right, sir?” Lisa asked.
“Yes, just groggy,” he replied with a heavy sigh. “I hate anesthetics, but it’s convenient.”
“I expect a rather full report on that,” Canergak intoned dryly. Professor Vartanian, still facing away from the administrator, grimaced, but said, “Yes, sir.” Then he asked Lisa, “How is Myn?”
“She seems all right. Not as much reaction as last time.” She finally looked at her boss, with a little defiance in her gaze.
“Your eyes must be blind, then,” Canergak said, as he stared at the cat’s prone body.
“What do you mean, sir?” she asked uncertainly.
“Her entire chord has shifted.”
“Chord?” asked the professor.
“Her aetheric presence,” he replied impatiently. “The vibration she makes in the universe.”
“In what manner has it done so? We don’t see the same as you do, sir.” Then the professor muttered, “Even without my spectacles.”
“It was much more erratic,” replied Canergak, “threatening to burst. Now I would say it has leveled to a calmer strain. Whatever you did, it had a profound effect.”
Lisa inhaled sharply, hope rising inside her. Professor Vartanian merely said, “That’s promising, at least.”
“I expect to hear about it in your report,” Canergak said sternly. He fixed a brief, significant look at Lisa. “Don’t expect me to be pleased by what you left out of the first one, but I can understand.” With that, he turned and headed toward the exit, followed by Vartanian’s sighed “Yes, sir.”
He waited a moment or two, then said, “I’m sorry, Lisa. If I had said something before, he would have heard me. And I did need the assistance…”
Lisa shrugged. “I think I would have come even if I’d known.” She was sure, now, that she could make a difference in the Dreamfields, and help Myn become more like Beryl.
“Well, it was better to go in without the initial fear looming from beforehand knowledge. I don’t know the extent of your experience dream walking, but taking your own fears and anxieties into a situation like that can… complicate things.”
“Yes, I know.” She grimaced, remembering other trips.
“So you have had experience.” The professor rubbed at his eyes and finally tried standing. Lisa stepped forward, ready to assist him, as he looked a bit wobbly, but he waved her aside. “Thank you, but I’m all right.” He smiled wryly. “I envy you the ability to sleep at any time.”
Lisa looked down at the sleeping Myn. “Do you think we did it? Do you think she’s really improved?”
“I am hazarding a little bit of hope, but I will not assume it until I can confirm it. All we know is that we got rid of that particular prison from her mind. Time and further exploration will tell if it remains that way, or if it simply replaced.”
She shook her head a little, remembering those last moments in the Dreamfields. “I wonder where the whirlwind took her…”
“I can’t say for certain, but if I might hazard a guess, I’d say it either erased that representation with the scenario, or perhaps yanked her to the next phase of her journey. And if it is the same as Beryl’s… then she may be quite lost for a long time in something of a maze, whatever form it may take. If it did strip away the representation, she may look different within the dream state the next we see her. Either way, her situation will definitely be different.”
“I hope it will be better.”
“Usually, things have to get worse before they can get better,” Vartanian replied, a little pedantically. “Just as with a virus. The fever comes before you can begin to heal. It comes for a reason–a purge.”
“I see.” Lisa sighed, and leaned forward. “Rest well, Myn,” she softly said in Feline. “We’ll be back to help you again soon.”
“It is promising, though,” he mused. “As I half suspected, the growler was more afraid of her release. Fears only have as much power as you give them.” He frowned and dug into the collar of his shirt, pulling out another straw. He sighed, rubbing it between his fingers until it vanished, then retrieved the satchel from Myn’s collar, putting it in his pocket. “Well, back to work. And to write up that blasted report.”
He ushered Lisa out of the lab and back into the basement. “Let that be a lesson, Lisa,” he continued, pushing the call button for the elevator. “Science, no matter how exciting at times, is nothing without the paperwork and reports. Without the drudgery, it’s just playing.”
Lisa looked up at him, not really paying attention to that. “You’ll let me know when you go back again, sir?”
“Of course.” They stepped into the arrived elevator car. “I’m not particularly keen on bringing you with me into Myn’s dreamscape, but given your experience with it, despite your youth, I suppose I should admit it’s a bit of a comfort to have someone along. You seem willing to accept the dangers.”
She replied, a little boldly, “She trusts me, too, sir–at least, more than anyone else here.”
“Yes,” he mused “And that has been helpful. I dare say she might not have trusted me to open her cage today were I there alone.” He smirked a little as he opened the cage of the elevator car, which had taken them to the main floor. “A straw nightmare isn’t the most comforting sight, is it?”
Lisa smiled a little. “No, sir.”
“Well, back to your duties. And I back to mine. And do remember to keep this under wraps.” He rolled his eyes a little. “It’s bad enough you and now Canergak know of this.”
“Yes, sir.” She watched as he continued in the elevator to the floor where his office was situated. A smile continued to play about her lips as she headed toward the kitchen, the hope that had bloomed down in the lab continuing to buoy her spirits.