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Lisa hurried across town, from the Salon building back toward the asylum. She still wasn’t sure how she’d been pressed into giving a presentation there, but it seemed to have been received well. Even Canergak had been there, at least for part of it, and had softly told her after she’d finished that he wanted to see her when she got back. She’d lingered a few moments, answering some questions, but she soon realized she couldn’t put it off any longer.
She quietly slipped inside the asylum building, and was brought to a halt at the sight of a girl sweeping the front hall, who looked up at her entrance. It wasn’t Lo, so it must be the other new girl. Lisa smiled a little. “Hello. You’re Angel, right?”
The girl nodded. “That’s right.”
Angel paused in her sweeping and bowed her head. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Lisa.” She looked Lisa over, taking in her uniform. “You are staff, then?”
Lisa nodded. “I’m glad you’ve come–the amount of work here is truly too much now for one. Or even two.”
“So I have heard from Professor Rance,” Angel replied.
“If you have any questions, please let me know. I’ll be happy to show you anything you need.”
“The professor mentioned he needed maids with ‘strong stomachs.’”
Lisa looked at the girl curiously. She would have thought that a statement like that would be fraught with emotion–nervousness, interrogation, fear… something. But from Angel, it came out as a simple statement of fact, as if the reason behind the ‘strong stomach’ request was of no matter to her. Finally, though, she nodded. “Yes, working here can be… difficult at times. The patients are not always easy to work with, even in our limited ways.”
“I am sure I will be fine,” replied Angel indifferently. “The previous maid however… I heard there was an incident?”
“Oh, nothing wrong with her work,” Lisa hastened to say. “But she couldn’t handle something that happened with one of the patients.” She still felt a little queasy, remembering Moundshroud’s last moments.
“I see. I do hope she will be all right.”
Lisa nodded abstractedly, looking behind her at the door leading deeper into the facility. “I need to find Mr. Canergak–he said he wanted to speak with me. I’ll see you again soon, I’m sure.”
Angel nodded, returning to her sweeping, as Lisa opened the door and entered the hallway. She went to the separate set of stairs leading down into the basement and descended. Peering around hesitantly, she said, “Sir?”
“Lisa.” Canergak’s voice came from around the corner. She hurried forward and saw him standing in front of the irised door to his private office. “Come with me.”
Lisa felt her usual tension as the door closed behind her. She braced herself for whatever he might say.
“Are you feeling well?” he asked her.
“Yes, sir,” she replied, surprised that he was still concerned about that. “I do feel the same as I did before that… thing came.”
Canergak shook his head. “I must be sure. And Dr. Viper was telling me that the staff did not have their physicals completed. He assures me it is very important, and I would not argue the point.”
Lisa froze, dread coursing through her. She remembered Dr. Viper’s wish to examine her months ago, an examination she’d managed to stave off… until, apparently now.
“You will need to submit yourself for a physical,” Canergak continued, “and then go to Professor Rance or Doctor Solsen for a mental evaluation.” His eyes clicked several times as he blinked. “Fortunately, your aetheric nature remains unchanged. But there are many things I cannot see.”
She shivered once, all over, and tentatively asked, “Must I, sir? I… I have a fear of doctors.”
“Many do, but I must insist on it, as a condition of further employment.”
And there it was–no escaping it, unless she left. Lisa was reluctant to do that just yet–not until she’d had another try at discovering what Canergak was up to. She gulped, and said, “Yes, sir.”
Canerkgak opened the door for her, but then held up his hand, staying her exit and letting the door close again. “Why do you fear doctors?”
“I… I don’t remember, sir,” she replied, thinking furiously. “It… might have been something when I was very young.” This wasn’t entirely a lie–for all she knew, the human Lisa could have had a fear of doctors herself.
“You have been working with doctors here for some time,” Canergak said, frowning. “I find it hard to believe you.”
“Oh, I don’t mind working with them, sir,” she hastened to explain. “It’s the thought of having them… examine me.” She couldn’t help but pale a little, thinking of all the times Ambrose had examined her.
Canergak shrugged. “It must be done.” He opened the door again. “I would do it myself, but as I said before, I don’t even know what color fur you have.”
Lisa shot him a somewhat startled look at his use of the word “fur,” but quickly looked away and exited his office. She was not looking forward to the next couple of days.
((To be continued…))