Lisa heard Miss Hienrichs sigh as Dr. Sonnerstein picked up the unconscious Tepic. She still wasn’t sure why Canergak had brought her here today – it couldn’t have been just to show her Miss Rouse’s somewhat-improved condition. Had he wanted to show her that her punishment could have been worse? Between her confinement to the asylum grounds, and Tepic’s work, she hadn’t seen him until today, and the sight of his gaunt face had shocked her into silent tears.
“I can lay him in a bed here for now. Will that be all right?” Dr. Sonnerstein asked. Whatever Miss Hienrichs’s answer would have been was interrupted by a sharp “Lisa!” from the doorway.
“Sir?” she asked, scurrying out of her corner.
“I waited for you downstairs,” he said rebukingly. “We are going back now.”
“I–I’m sorry, sir,” she said, hearing a faint growl from Dr. Sonnerstein. Dr. Solsen, however, spoke up. “Master Canergak, I must protest. She is worried about her friends.”
“It’s–it’s all right, sir.” She looked back at Dr. Solsen, grateful to him for defending her, though still wondering why he hadn’t been to see her at the asylum.
“Her friends will be fine,” Canergak impatiently said. “She has seen that. Let us go, Lisa.” She nodded meekly and followed him out of the doorway. As she did so, though, she heard Miss Hienrichs call, “Another experiment, Mr. Canergak?”
“Not today,” the administrator replied, and Lisa scrambled to follow him down the hallway to the elevator. Downstairs, he left by the side door, quickly heading south to the asylum. Once inside the entranceway, Canergak gestured at one of the benches. “Sit down.” She sat.
“So, Lisa,” he continued, his hands clasped behind his back as he stared at her, “when I returned, I heard something about the bill being paid?”
“That’s what they said, sir.” She looked at him with some confusion.
He shrugged. “Not entirely true, but it will make little difference to me.” He saw her expression. “They are wrong, you know, about the debt owed being done with. There is always something when you make a deal of that nature with something of their kind. Even if Tepic is not a monster, he is still a creature.”
“Aren’t we all, sir, in one way or another?” Lisa let a bit of irony color her voice.
“Not like this. You have never made a deal with something that doesn’t even have to look at you to kill you,” he said slowly. “Nor have I. But I’ve seen those who have been foolish enough to do so. Professor Moundshroud…” He trailed off, as if there was more he could say, and sighed. “No, Lisa, do not make deals. There is a reason that I shook through Lieutenant Hienrichs to seal this deal. She is truly in charge of the deal. He shook her hand, not mine.”
Anger flared up in Lisa. “Tepic wouldn’t do anything to Miss Bookworm!”
“I believed as much as well. But it does mean that if she knew what she was doing, she could have ended it at any time.” He shrugged again. “Go back to your duties, Lisa.” With that, he went through the doorway leading to his office.
Lisa picked up a broom and began mechanically sweeping the entrance hall, thinking hard. She was never sure if what Canergak deigned to tell her was the whole truth, or only part, but she hoped she would have the chance soon to tell Miss Hienrichs this, just in case…
((To be continued…))