Maddox heard the knocks coming below, but she never answered the door. Her adoptive father and others answered the door these days. She tried to rest in the room beside her friend, who was twitching in a small cat-bed.
Beryl had tried to get her attention near the bridge outside Darwin’s Home for the Lost, rambling and incomprehensible. ‘I won’t be able to defend myself’ she’d said. ‘You have to hide me.’ ‘It’s all right. They’ll know where to find me.’ ‘Don’t let them find me.’
Maddox wished her friend had been more clear, but the request to be hidden had been insistent on that frigid February day. She had no time to ask for clarification. She hadn’t understood anything Beryl was spouting to her, and was horrified as her best friend collapsed into the snow and did not rouse. She tried everything she could, short of anything that could get them into trouble with the locals and nothing she had done had been able to wake her now sleeping friend.
She pulled the unconscious cat to the Home, unsure of what else to do. She was unaware that Beryl had dropped their key to the Home or that their hat was abandoned. Or whomever may have been watching from the nearby shipping business, though they often averted their gaze.
Beryl had not woken up in an entire month. Maddox had held out hope for today. Today was the day that she and Arnold had originally arrived in Babbage, three years ago. But there was nothing beyond the twitches. She had vowed that night to hide her friend, and it had torn her apart to learn the suffering her silence had caused with Beatrixe, Lisa, and Tepic. She had begun two letters of apology, and then set them aside. She could finish those later. If Beryl was to continue to sleep, Maddox would have plenty of time to finish writing them.
Perhaps it was time to write Bookworm and end whatever new madness this might cause. She was, not for the first time in her life, scared. She didn’t know the outcome. She didn’t understand the reasons behind it all. She did know one thing, though. She knew that she would get answers from someone. Anyone who she found that could tell her why this was happening would be a boon to her troubled mind.