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“By the way,” Strifeclaw said as they entered the main hallway, “there is someone you should meet.” He led her through the dining room, and through the door that connected the asylum with the hospital. Standing before her in the hallway, he called out, “Viper?”
Lisa looked around the large, open room. The blue-and-white checked floor tiles made the boots of her heels click with an almost metallic sound. In front of her was a large desk, with an area beyond that filled with chairs and benches. She saw a picture on the wall of a fox-like being, and wondered who that was. With such distractions, she didn’t, at first, hear the steps of the doctor approaching. When she did, she turned and looked up. And up.
“Quiet in the facility,” the strange man said. “We have injured patients.” In general form, he was human, but his head was green and hairless, and his eyes, staring down at her, were as cold as any snake’s. Lisa stiffened, and cast a desperate glance at Strifeclaw, willing him to say something.
“Employee of the Murgam Asylum, Lisa.” The doctor’s voice was as dispassionate as his gaze.
“Yes, this is Lisa,” Strifeclaw said. “Lisa, this is Dr. Viper.”
“He… hello, sir,” she ventured, bobbing a nervous curtsy.
“Your files are underdeveloped. I do not have adequate information on you, or your health.”
Lisa now felt both confused and nervous; she was not at all sure what he was saying, but she seemed somehow to be at fault. “I… I’m… sorry?”
“I would like to remedy that and set up a physical for you in the near future.” With that, he brushed past her and made for the stairs, not seeing the panic that rose in her eyes. “I will be seeing to the patients now. Have a good day, both of you.” After a moment, his voice filtered down to them, and a girl’s voice answered.
Strifeclaw sighed. “He talks like that,” he said wryly. He was unable to say more, though, as at that point, Lisa fled back into the asylum, her boots making a quick staccato on the floor.
Running after her, Strifeclaw found her in the front office, pacing back and forth, shivering and panting. Suddenly, she collapsed in a huddle in one corner, hugging her legs to herself, her face hidden in her skirts. Strifeclaw crouched beside her. “Lisa, Lisa…” He reached out a paw, gently touching her shoulder, and began speaking in Feline, hoping his words would reach her better in that language. “It’s okay. I’m here.”
It was still several minutes before she could finally choke out through her shudders, “I can’t… I can’t…” She, too, spoke her native tongue.
“Lisa, be strong. I won’t let him hurt you,” Strifeclaw hastened to reassure her. “I won’t even let him touch you.”
She turned her face toward him, revealing the tears streaking down her face. “You… you promise?” she asked in a wavering voice.
“I promise, he won’t come near you. Viper is in charge of the hospital, but you don’t work there.”
She began to calm down a little at his reassurance, and felt the need to explain her panic. “He’s… he’s like Ambrose. He really is.”
“And Dr. Viper. The way he spoke… the way he looked at me–”
“Viper is… strange,” Strifeclaw said. She interrupted him with a strangled sound that was almost a laugh. “That’s putting it mildly.”
“He has me on edge, too,” he continued. “But I don’t think he’s as bad as Canergak.” He paused, and looked back towards the hospital apprehensively, “I hope.”
“Dr. Spatterdash seemed… nice,” Lisa said, trying to salvage something from the evening’s upsets.
“Spatterdash has come from afar, and he wasn’t picked by Canergak, either. That’s already a point for him in favor.”
She nodded thoughtfully, still upset, but starting to calm down. Strifeclaw looked at her, concern clear in his eyes, and said, “Lisa, I’ll stay here tonight.”
“Thank you.” She smiled tremulously at him. Her flight instinct was still coursing through her, and she knew if she was alone this night, her own imagination could bring her back into panic. Having a friend near, helping her to calm down until she could sleep, was what she needed.