Bookworm nodded to the guard standing at the door to Beryl’s room at the hospital, granting permission to him to go get a cup of coffee from downstairs. She knocked softly at the door, but there was no answer. Quietly, she opened the door, peeking around it, and was brought up short. Beryl was unconscious, jerking and twitching, breathing irregularly. Hissing in alarm, Bookworm moved closer, and her eyes were caught by a piece of paper on his pillow.
She picked it up, recognizing the handwriting as being that of the guardsman outside. The sheet was headed “Beryl’s Last Testament,” and started out with, “Bookworm: Take care of Murgam Asylum and Lisa. Tepic, take care of the urchins and Snow. Dr. Maddox: Sorry. Maybe your next friend from the other side will serve you better.” The sheet continued with names and messages, though the messages became rather more incoherent as they went on. The last sentence, though, was clear. “I’ll either wake up, or I won’t. Tell Lisa I may see her in the Fields.”
The guardsman had followed her inside and, as she was reading, said, “Beryl insisted on it, Captain.”
Bookworm nearly crumpled the paper in her hand, as she bent down over the cat’s tossing figure. “Oh, no, you don’t, Beryl. Fight this!”
“That’s what they said they were gonna do,” the guardsman replied. “Haven’t woken up since, though. Don’t look like they’ll make it.”
She looked down with a frustrated, almost tearful gaze. “Has anyone sent for Dr. Sonnerstein? He seems to know much about this… condition.”
“Err… we told the nurse?” The man shrugged.
Bookworm sighed. “I’ll make sure he’s been sent for.” She stepped outside and talked to several nurses and interns, finally learning that someone had indeed sent word to Dr. Sonnerstein, though he hadn’t been able to come as of yet.
As she returned to Beryl’s door, she heard quick steps behind her, and turned to see Tepic approaching from the staircase. “‘Ello, Miss Book,” he said as he slipped past her into Beryl’s room. “‘Ello, Beryl. How’s yer goin’, old sport?” He skidded to a stop by the bedside, watching Beryl toss and turn. “Blimey! Ain’t seen the old cat this bad fer ages. Not even after Dr. Dinosaur beat ‘im. Dunno what’s up, ‘e normally heals up very quick.”
Bookworm shook her head, and showed Tepic the note. “Blimey,” Tepic said, “really must be in a bad way.”
“I’ve sent for Dr. Sonnerstein. But not even he may be able to help.” She sighed.
Tepic looked thoughtful. “The fever is in Beryl’s blood, ain’t it?”
“So… we could take some out… an’ Myn can give Beryl some of hers. Lisa can talk to her, ‘splain it proper.”
Bookworm gave him a surprised look. “Now that’s an interesting thought. Certainly, she’s in better shape, physically. But would their blood be compatible? Or do they have different blood types, like humans do? We’d have to test it…”
“Well, they’s both cats… an’ of a special type of cat. Can’t be many of ‘em around…”
“That is a good point.” Bookworm felt more galvanized now, with something that might give them hope. “I’ll talk to–well, anyone I can.”
Tepic nodded. “While Beryl is out of it, what we gonna do ‘bout the Bear Gang?”
‘Trust Tepic to bring me back to earth,’ she wryly thought. “I don’t know. And unfortunately, we have to add Snow to that question, too.”
“He came here, outside Beryl’s room. Wanted to finish the job, according to Beryl.”
“To finish off Beryl?” Tepic sounded more astonished than outraged. “What would he want ter do that fer? That’s daft – he’s after the Bear Gang!”
“I think it’s because Beryl helped Freya when Snow attacked her. He probably sees Beryl as a threat now, too.”
Tepic took off his cap and pulled out a small bottle. “Well, ain’t a problem. Snow’s a reg’lar ly… li… wolf thingy.” He sprinkled some of the liquid on the blanket, and more on Beryl’s fur while Bookworm watched. “Is that wolfsbane?” she asked.
“Err… sort of.”
“But it should protect him from Snow?”
“Well, if yer was bitin’ down on summink, an’ yer teeth felt like they was meltin’, would yer keep bitin’?”
Bookworm smiled a little. “No, definitely not.”
“Long as the nurses don’t wash the stuff off, Beryl should be safe enough from Snow. So it’s just the Bear Gang, that PJ bloke, an’ all the others as want ter get ‘im we needs ter worry ‘bout.”
“Yes, just.” Bookworm smiled wryly. “I’ll go see what anyone can tell me about a possible transfusion for Beryl. We’d better let him get what rest he can.”
Tepic nodded, and joined her as she hurried off to the asylum.
((To be continued…))