“Lisa?” The familiar gruff voice of her employer called out. “Come with me.”
Lisa sighed and stepped away from the supper dishes she’d been scrubbing, following the diminutive form of Canergak. Not long ago, her mind would have started racing in this situation, preparing herself to try to match wits with him. Now, though, she could only wonder dully how long this would take, and how late she would have to stay up to finish her work.
Canergak had not exaggerated when he warned her in the spring that her workload would be increasing. If anything, he’d vastly understated it. Between the construction that spread dust and detritus everywhere, and the steadily-increasing number of inmates, Lisa found herself constantly on the move. It wasn’t at all uncommon for her to not crawl into bed until after midnight–and she was up again before dawn. This grueling schedule had been going on for weeks, and was leaving her feeling more and more drained. Sometimes, she wondered if this was deliberate on Canergak’s part, to keep her from trying to get to his hidden rooms. If so, his plan was working perfectly.
Canergak led the way to his main-floor office. He sat down behind his desk and looked her over as she stood across from him. “I am told,” he said, “that you are overworked.”
Lisa shrugged a little. If her slumped posture and the dark circles under her eyes didn’t confirm that better than any words, she didn’t know what would. She thought it must have been Dr. Solsen who’d talked to the man–she rather doubted any of the orderlies would have stuck their necks out like that for her, though they were kind enough in their own ways.
After studying her in silence for a minute, Canergak asked abruptly, “What is forty-two minus seventeen?”
“Ummm…” Lisa racked her brains, trying to dredge up the math lessons she’d not thought about for quite some time. Finally, Canergak waved the question aside. “It is clear that you have not been keeping up with your lessons,” he stated disappointedly.
“No, sir,” she admitted.
“That is unsatisfactory,” he replied firmly as he examined her without blinking. “Therefore, there will be a change.” Lisa quailed a little under his stare, wondering what was coming.
“Tomorrow is Sunday,” Canergak continued. “In the morning, I shall bring a girl here and place her in your charge. You will train her, you will assess her, and at the end of the week, you will tell me whether or not she is suitable.”
Lisa stared at him in astonishment. “Me?” she squeaked.
“It must be you,” he impatiently replied. “You know the work, what needs to be done. You know how to handle the inmates, and what not to do with or around them. It has become apparent that this is neither an easy or safe place to work, and some employees have proven unfit for their duties in the past.” Lisa winced a little, remembering Cortman and his men, and the violence they’d committed. “I fully expect that this will take some time to find the right new candidates. Your input will be necessary.”
“I understand, sir,” she replied, feeling a little dazed.
“You may go, then, and I will see you tomorrow.”
Lisa scurried back to the kitchen and attacked the dishes with renewed vigor. To finally have help in her tasks, to perhaps have the opportunity to take some few hours off and get back out into the city, to her friends and her cat family… that was definitely something to look forward to. But who would these girls be? What would they be like?
((To be continued…))