“If Tenderpaws is cured, ye’ll let ‘im go?” Tepic asked at the door.
Dr. Solsen paused a short time before he answered and then opened the doors, letting in the cold night air of New Babbage. “If I can assure that he will not attack anyone, or be a threat to society anymore, I will see what I can do.”
Tepic nodded and walked out of the building. Lisa stopped, watching Dr. Solsen, tears of anger and fear in her eyes. He offered her a comforting hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged it off and ran out of the door.
The doctor shook his head sadly, watching her leave. “This is not the place it should be….”
“No mate, but I reckons you an’ Mr. Arnold could sort it out, between yer!”
Dr. Solsen nodded, looking thoughtful, “Perhaps I should lift his…vacation.”
“Yeah, he probably wants ter come back, it’s too hot in that other place fer people with fur….Come on Lisa, we done what we could….”
From the interior of the building came Cortman’s gruff voice, “Doc, you might want to come look.”
Everyone turned towards the large man, Dr. Solsen asking, “What now?”
“The patient is comatose.”
Dr. Solsen moved very quickly for someone his age, while Lisa looked at Tepic. “Comatose?”
Tepic was just as confused though, “Dunno……. may be good..?”
Lisa looked at the cruel man. “What does that mean?”
“Dead to the world. Staring at the ceiling without blinking.” Cortman paused for a moment to puff on his cigar and then added, “Brainless.”
Lisa gasped in horror, as the man sneered, “Get it now?”
“Least yer can’t hurt ‘im no more!” the boy exclaimed, shouldering past the girl to stop her dashing after the Doctor.
Cortman shut the door finally and turned towards them while crossing his arms. “Don’t need to hurt him now, do I?”
The boy’s shoulders dropped, and he turned to his companion with a sigh, saying, “Let’s go home, Lisa, don’t give this bloke no excuse…”
She fingered something in her pocket as Dr. Solsen came back to peer out the doorway after a few moments. “Children…just…. go home…. tonight has been……. Just go home.”
Seeing the sorrowful expression on his face, Lisa yelled, “You have to stop Canergak! You have to!”
The doctor didn’t respond before the door was shut, but they could all hear a very muffled cry of “CANERGAK!”
Cortman tsked to himself and muttered about the mess it was to work with two bosses before coughing into his hand. Tepic realised it was best to head for the hills before any more inconvenient questions were asked. Lisa, though, still in the grips of nearly overwhelming anger, reached into her pocket, fingering the scalpel she had taken from Ambrose’s laboratory, eyeing the man with mingled fury and speculation. But the horrid man was watching them too closely right now. Finally she put it back in her pocket and turned away. “This isn’t the end of this.”
As they began to finally leave the building, Cortman asked in a quiet, menacing voice behind them, stilling their feet, “Before you go, I have one question – who gave you the keys?”
“What keys? Yer locks couldn’t keep a blind raccoon out!” Tepic boasted, turning back to confront his questioner.
“You think I can’t hear them jingling in your pockets? Anyhow, we hired someone to break in, several people. That’s how we tested the locks, so….. who gave you the keys?”
Tepic realized Lisa was reaching for her weapon again as she turned towards the man, so he pulled on her arm. “Come on Lisa, if this bloke thinks I’d need keys fer a place like this… we’d best go, cuz he’s as crazy as the blokes locked up in there!”
A bird cawed from its vantage point far above them, turning upwards Cortman noticed a large black bird was staring at him from a perch on one of the statues. He stared at it for a time, and Tepic quickly slipped the keys into Lisa’s pocket and went forward.
The raven flew off and the man turned his attention back to the children just as Tepic took up a challenging stance, hands on his hips. “C’n show yer if’n yer wants, mate!”
“No need,” the man stated dismissively.
“Yer sure? That door couldn’t stop no one!” Tepic shouted as if throwing down the gauntlet.
“Prove it,” Cortman told him, as he puffed on his cigar again. “Open it right now.”
The man pulled the door closed, himself inside, and they could all hear the sound of a lock turning with a heavy clunk.
“Ha!” Tepic muttered to himself, studying the lock for a few seconds before pulling a soft tool roll from beneath his shirt. Within a few heartbeats there was a quiet click of tumblers, and he reached for the doorknob, opening the door triumphantly!
Cortman had been crouching at the door waiting for him, and his fist caught Tepic under the eye and sent him sprawling with a loud exclamation. “Right, kid!”
Lisa leaped forward, furious, only to have the door slammed in her face. They heard the lock reset, and then another sound of a heavy metal bolt being shoved into place, sealing the doorway.