As Bookworm climbed the stairs to the second floor of the hospital, she heard a thud from ahead. Frowning, she hurried up and toward Beryl’s room, where the guard was just opening the door. Looking through, she saw Beryl lying facedown on the ground. With a muffled exclamation, she hurried to his side, carefully turning him over, and picking him up. He seemed boneless dead weight at first, but then Beryl listed his head up a little.
“Sorry, Bookworm,” he said dazedly. “I… don’t think I can last many more rounds.”
“Hang in there,” she replied. “We had an idea that might help.”
“I’ve got to fight not, though… and it’s too…” He trailed off a moment. “Every time I knock it down, it gets up again.”
“You can outlast it.” Bookworm tucked the bed covers around him again. “I have faith in you.”
“I’ve outlasted it longer than you think. Fighting every time… need something…”
“What?” She leaned over him, now noticing that his right eye looked oddly swollen. “What do you need?”
“Help is on the way, Beryl.” She added silently, ‘I just hope it will be enough.’
A knock came at the door, and Bookworm looked back to see Dr. Jekyll in the doorway, Mr. Wright behind him. Dr. Jekyll came forward. “How is Beryl faring?” He saw Beryl’s swollen eye, tsked, and examined it carefully. “Oh, dear. It looks like someone broke in and punched you in the face.
“He didn’t have that yesterday, doctor,” said Bookworm. “And we’ve had a guard here the whole time.
“Beryl, do you remember anything that happened in the last few hours?” Dr. Jekyll felt Beryl’s forehead, shook his head, and checked the cat’s pulse.
“I… woke up on the floor after a boxing match?” Beryl sounded quite confused.
Dr. Jekyll chuckled. “No, not quite. You could have hit your head, or something.”
“No… pretty sure I was in an arena… yes. The arena. And you were there.” He pointed weakly at Bookworm.
“You must have been dreaming – or even sleepwalking.”
“I hate dreams,” Beryl said, still sounding rather dazed and feverish. “They’re always out to kill me.” He laid his head back on the pillow. “I’ve got to fight them again. Keep fighting them… right, Tepic?” He sighed. “I don’t think I’ll last another three rounds.”
Dr. Jekyll frowned in concern. “Miss Hienrichs, how long has he been like this?”
“I’m not sure. I haven’t seen him delirious like this until now.” Her thoughts were racing, though, remembering things Beryl and Lisa had told her in the past. Was this one of those intense dream experiences he’d had before – one that had effects in the real world? “I’m hoping Dr. Sonnerstein will send something soon that we hope will help.
“Yes, I heard he suggested… a blood transfusion?”
Mr. Wright, who had been hanging back while they conversed, now came into the room. “Doctor, I need you to hand me a stethoscope.”
Dr. Jekyll looked confused. “Why? I was checking his pulse just a moment ago.”
“Now, doctor.” Mr. Wright’s tone was adamant. Dr. Jekyll hesitated, but finally shrugged and left the room for a moment, returning with one. Mr. Wright rolled up his sleeves, set his rifle by the foot of the bed, and began his own checks on Beryl. Standing back, Dr. Jekyll crossed his arms, looking rather annoyed. “What do you make of this, then?” he asked. Before Mr. Wright could answer, though, Beryl suddenly rolled over, and fell to the floor again.
“Not good,” Mr. Wright said. “Bad, actually.”
Dr. Jekyll exclaimed in surprise, and he and Bookworm rushed over to help Beryl back onto the bed again. Beryl seemed to be struggling against something, but after a moment, he lay on the bed calmly again, his eyes closed.
Bookworm heard an alarmed hiss, and turned to see Lisa standing at the doorway, a bag in her hands. Dr. Jekyll also turned, and frowned a little. “Miss?” he said abruptly.
“Excuse me,” Lisa quietly offered. “I have the blood for the… transfusion.” She said the last word a bit hesitantly.
“I’d hold off on that blood transfusion,” put in Mr. Wright didactically.
“Hang on.” Dr. Jekyll turned back, staring at Mr. Wright. “Hold off on the transfusion?”
“Why do you say that?” asked Bookworm.
“Two things are happening right now within Beryl,” he replied abruptly. “The infection is trying to bind to their body at a cellular level. It’s also attacking anything it deems as a threat to it, like an immune system. Unfortunately, felines are incompatible with the lupine strains, so the virus is attacking Beryl’s body. Any new blood introduced would just be destroyed by the infection.”
Bookworm chewed on her lip indecisively, and looked at Dr. Jekyll. “What do you think?”
Dr. Jekyll frowned thoughtfully for a moment. “I’m not the best expert on lycanthropy, but a blood transfusion seems to be the only way to remove the infection from Beryl’s body. But if what Mr. Wright suggests is true–”
Mr. Wright shook his head. “First, you need to shut off the virus.”
“How can that be done?” Bookworm asked. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught Lisa shifting from foot to foot.
“I need a solution containing ground silver.”
“Silver?!” Dr. Jekyll stared at him in shock. “Wouldn’t that kill him?”
Mr. Wright shook his head. “Not at the levels I’m proposing, though there would be a danger of silver poisoning if they were. And Beryl isn’t a Lycanthrope to begin with.”
“I think…” Bookworm frowned in thought. “I think Dr. Sonnerstein gave him something like that earlier, at his home. Just in a drink, though it did seem to help a little. I don’t think he mentioned trying an IV.”
Mr. Wright shook his head again. “This needs to be injected directly into the bloodstream.”
“I see,” said Dr. Jekyll. “Exactly how much of this silver-concoction do you think we should use?”
“What does your largest syringe hold?” Mr. Wright’s tone was dry.
“Good lord.” Dr. Jekyll almost blanched. “You might as well replace the blood we were to transfuse with the silver.”
“The silver is only a small part. The rest is water, boiled with the crushed bulbs of wolfsbane. I believe Tepic brought some of that.” He looked at Bookworm inquiringly. She nodded, going to the dresser nearby and opening a drawer, pulling out the concoction Tepic had used, along with some bulbs he’d also left, in case they needed them.
Lisa looked at the bag in her hand. “Then I didn’t need to bring this?”
“Beryl will need that blood later,” said Mr. Wright. “The virus has, by my estimation, destroyed nearly half their red blood cells already.”
Dr. Jekyll added, “You should place it in the icebox for now. Kasa can show you where.”
“Do stay around, though,” Bookworm called, stopping her in her tracks for a moment. “I’ll want to talk to you.”
Mr. Wright, meanwhile, reached into his ammunition belt and pulled out a shining, silver bullet, held deftly between two claws. “Grind this down, boil the wolfsbane, mix the two into a solution, and bring it back when it’s cooled.” He handed the bullet to Dr. Jekyll.
Bookworm also handed over the wolfsbane bulbs. “I’ll leave you two to your work, but I’ll be close by.” She stepped outside, waiting for Lisa to return. As she stood there, she heard Dr. Jekyll say, “I do hope you know what you’re doing, Wright.”
((To be continued…))