Bookworm stepped into the hospital, hoping that today would bring some endings – or new beginnings, depending on one’s view. In the waiting area, she found Mr. Canergak, who nodded in greeting. “Lieutenant.”
“I’m afraid that I have some troubling news,” he continued, with a faint hint of… something… in his voice. “Yesterday evening, Beatrixe Rouse went into an unconscious fit where her body spasmed uncontrollably.”
Bookworm hissed in a breath in dismay. “Is she all right now?”
“Do the doctors know what caused it?” she asked, concern clear in her voice and expression.
Canergak shook his head. “Her seizure has stabilized, but she continues to shake. We are unsure if this is a good sign or not, but my doctors, at least, assume the worst.”
Bookworm bit her lip in worry. “I wonder what Tepic will think,” she muttered.
She had, though, forgotten about Canergak’s enhanced hearing. “Lieutenant, you were there when I told him I was just having her removed from the lung. He became erratic and angry, telling me I could not turn it off or let her go until she was well.”
“She will still be cared for, though, won’t she?”
“That will depend,” the administrator replied. “Do you want to ensure Tepic is freed?”
“Then someone else would have to take over her care after she is released. And as it is, I am having difficulty convincing my own doctors that she can be released.”
“I can think of several people who would help – myself included,” replied Bookworm a little wryly.
“Very well. You should speak to Dr. Sonnerstein after this,” Canergak replied, his face twisting a little as he said the doctor’s name, “and that one would probably sign her over immediately.” His eyes lit on the bag she was carrying. “Did you bring the rest of the journals with you?”
“There are a dozen in here,” she replied, hefting the bag up.
“Let me see them while we wait.” Bookworm was a little reluctant to agree to that request, but couldn’t think of a reason to refuse. So she opened the bag and set it by Canergak, who squatted down a little, rifling through them, opening one or two and scanning a few pages. But after only a moment, he put the notebook he was perusing back into the bag and straightened up, picking up the bag. “I believe it is time.
Bookworm looked down the hall and saw two small figures coming through the other entrance, which quickly resolved into Tepic and Myrtil. The girl was supporting Tepic as she stumbled down the hallway toward them.
“Hello, Myrtil,” said Bookworm with a smile. “Thank you for bringing Tepic here.”
“You’re welcome, Miss Book.” The girl looked at Tepic. “He wasn’t walking straight. Maybe it’s better if he sits down somewhere?”
Canergak, though, stepped forward, placing himself directly in front of Tepic. “Tepic. Hear me and know that we are speaking of the debt you owe.”
Tepic straightened up a little, looking into Canergak’s face. “Debt… paying… promised!”
“Someone else has made an offer to finish off your debt, once Beatrixe Rouse is released from the hospital and well again. Is this acceptable?”
“Promised!” Tepic stubbornly replied.
“Yes. And unfortunately, Beatrixe Rouse is sick.” Tepic looked stricken at that news. “Come with me,” Canergak said, gesturing them to follow him.
They rode up the elevator and followed the man into a private room. Inside, Beatrixe was lying on a table, a sheet up to her chin. A few straps passed across her body, holding her down as she shook and spasmed nearly constantly. Tepic stared at her intently, his expression dismayed. “Where…?” he finally whispered.
“She is laying on that table,” said Canergak. “She has been sick since last night, but the Lieutenant has agreed to pay her debt and to take her to her home. Is that acceptable?”
Suddenly, Tepic whirled around, his expression fierce. “Where is she?!” he shouted. “What yer done with her?!” Bookworm started, his sudden outburst catching her off guard.
“She is right there before you physically,” Canergak replied impassively. “Even I do not know where the rest of her is now.” He looked at Beatrixe, his eyes clicking as they adjusted in some way.
Tepic turned to face Bookworm. “Ye’ll take her home, Miss? An’ pay the debt?”
“I will, Tepic.”
“I promise, Tepic.”
The boy leaned in closer. “She ain’t here, yer knows?” he quietly half-asked, half-stated.
“I’m getting that idea.” Bookworm gave him a small, wry smile, remembering now how Arnold had been after he’d been shot.
“Is that ‘cause of those metal body parts?” Myrtil asked from behind Bookworm.
“Of course not,” replied Canergak impatiently.
“Why is she bouncing like that?”
“She’s suffering from seizures, Myrtil,” Bookworm replied gently. “The doctors don’t know why.”
“Daft sods…” Tepic muttered. Bookworm smiled quickly at that, but her attention was suddenly caught by something. The sounds of thrashing from Beatrixe had stopped. Myrtil, too, had realized that. “She stopped moving,” she said in a small voice. “Is… is she… dead?”
((To be continued…))