All three watchers over Beryl were panting as they straightened up and began to recover from their strenuous efforts to keep the cat from hurting himself in his convulsions. Dr. Jekyll was the last to let him go. “Is it done, then?”
“The initial purge is over,” replied Mr. Wright, relaxing a bit. “They’ll be feverish for a bit more, but the solution should kill the virus. Wolfsbane to detach it from Beryl’s cells, and silver to kill it. The solution is circulating now. If this works as I suspect, Beryl will start to come around soon.”
“We still have to do a blood transfusion, to replace the blood that was lost. Should we hook Beryl up before or after waking?”
“After. It’s better to let them wake first – that’s the sign they’re well enough.”
The three of them waited, anxiously watching for a positive sign. Finally, Beryl shook his head, opening the uninjured eye. “Ugh…”
“Beryl.” Mr. Wright leaned over him. “Can you hear me?”
Beryl’s gaze focused on the wolf. Suddenly, he hissed… and rolled off of the bed.
“Beryl!” Dr. Jekyll moved quickly to pick the cat up and get him on the bed again. Bookworm muttered, “I’m beginning to think you should keep him on the floor.” Dr. Jekyll shot her a reproving look as he settled Beryl back.
“Wait…” Beryl looked around, raising up his body a little. “This isn’t the arena.”
“No. This is the hospital.”
“Oh. Right.” Beryl shook his head, looking dazed. “Did I really win?”
“You’re alive,” Mr. Wright replied, a little sardonically. “I’d call that a victory.”
“So the wolf with all the mouths is dead?”
Dr. Jekyll looked around at the others, meeting confusion. He shrugged and said, “Yes, Beryl. Yes, it is.”
“Good.” He lay back down.
Dr. Jekyll turned to speak to Bookworm, but then looked past her, at the door that was standing open. Bookworm looked back, and saw Lisa standing there. “Ahh, Lisa,” she said immediately, forestalling anything Dr. Jekyll could say. “Would you go get that blood? We will need it now.”
“Yes, Captain.” The girl scurried away quickly.
Dr. Jekyll looked back at Mr. Wright, who was starting to prepare Beryl for the transfusion. “Thank you for the advice, Wright,” he said as he moved forward to help.
“It was the least I could do. Honestly, I feel like a young man again.” Mr. Wright looked quite pleased.
“Thank you, Wright,” said Beryl weakly. “Book… Dr. Jekyllhyde… Lisa… Tepic…”
“Tepic isn’t here at the moment,” Dr. Jekyll said soothingly. “I’m not sure where he is.”
Bookworm coughed lightly. “I think Beryl’s still feeling the effects of his delirium.”
Lisa stepped into the room. “Ah, miss,” said Dr. Jekyll, seeing her. “Have you got the blood ready?”
“Sirs, look at this. This bag was full when I first came here, but now…” She held it up. It was clearly, at best, two-thirds full now.
“Oh, no.” Dr. Jekyll took the bag from her hand, inspecting it for any holes or punctures.
“I looked at the floor as I came back from the storage area,” Lisa added. “I didn’t see any signs of drips.”
The doctor shook his head. “It shouldn’t be evaporating this quickly.” He fixed Lisa with an intent gaze. “Whose blood is this?”
“Someone… from the asylum.” Lisa shifted her feet uncomfortably. “She… she’s like Beryl.”
Dr. Jekyll frowned. “Was this woman associated with the Bear gang? Their blood has strange properties that make it unstable.”
“No,” she hastily replied. “She’s been there for quite a while – before the Bear gang started coming here.”
“Hmm. And it somehow evaporated within 30 minutes…”
“Even this will do,” Mr. Wright said, reaching for the bad. We should begin now, before we lose any more. It won’t be as fast a recovery, but it will still be better.”
“Very well.” Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Wright continued working together to set up the transfusion. “Hopefully, the rest doesn’t vanish on us before it enters the bloodstream.”
Bookworm looked at Lisa, figuring it was time to get her away before more uncomfortable questions were asked. “I should escort you back to the asylum. It’s not a long distance, I know, but best to be safe.” She looked back at the two men. “I’ll be back shortly.”
She led the girl downstairs. At the front desk, they found bread and soup, left there by the hospital’s neighbor, Lady Moldylocks. Bookworm heard Lisa’s stomach growl, and smiled. “On second thought, we can stay here long enough for you to eat something.” She served the girl a bowl and some bread, and sat beside her. “What happened?” she asked softly.
Between bites of food, Lisa told her about the arena, and Beryl’s fight with the reappearing wolves, including the last one. She pushed up the sleeves of her uniform, showing the scratches that had been inflicted there, and brought here. She also mentioned seeing Tepic and Bookworm herself there, and Bookworm grimaced at the rule-bound comments she’d made in the dream. ‘He still thinks of me that way,’ she thought with disappointment.
“I hope those wounds were worth it,” she commented at the end of Lisa’s recital. “Do you think your presence made a difference?”
The girl thought for a moment, and then nodded. “I think… I think if I hadn’t helped Beryl, he would have been too far gone by the time you injected him.”
Bookworm nodded back. “Then I thank you for what you did – and I’m sure Beryl will, too.” She smiled, placed Lisa’s empty bowl on the desk, and walked her back to the asylum.
When she came back, she peeked in at Beryl’s room, and saw Mr. Wright sitting at his bedside. The wolf looked at her, and nodded reassuringly. Bookworm smiled back, and then went to her own room to rest.