I waited two days, during which time, I acted like a model citizen. I even scheduled a doctor’s appointment to get an Ostrich-bite immunization. I donated to the Wolves Science and History Fund, and sent “thank you” cards with bacon-bit treats to the Protector Precinct. And I stayed very, very alert.
When I was sure no one was watching me, I put on my black hoodie, left the apartment and walked to the Caring Wolf Asylum. My journey took me down the truly-proverbial alley.
There I halted in dismay. The walls had been sandblasted. The spray-painted messages were no more. All that remained was some faint color here and there. I was startled to find tears rolling down my face. This little detail of my experience affected me more than any other. The truth was gone.
I ducked my head, shoved my hands in my pockets and hurried on toward the asylum. It was several blocks away.
Last minute instinct made me pause at a flower shop and buy a bouquet of daffodils. Then I strolled through the sentry gate as confidently as I could, hoping I looked like I belonged there.
Before I went through the door, a figure pushing a rolling trash can bumped into me. The person never looked up, but I felt a piece of paper pressed into my hand, and then he had moved past, still pushing the trash can.
There was a security camera on the wall, so with the pretext of fixing my flower bouquet to look more attractive, I opened the note against the green foliage and read,
“Do not ask for Kara. Ask for Lenny Cohan, he’s in the room next to hers. When you see her, give her this note and as soon as she reads it, take it from her and destroy it quickly.”
Another piece of paper was folded up inside of the first one. I unfolded it as well, not thinking it might be private.
“Tell them what they want to hear and convince them you believe it, then they will let you go and I will find you. Don’t give up hope, dear sister. There is life beyond the perimeter.”
Kara’s brother! I turned around, looking up and down the parking lot for the figure who had given me the notes. No one was in sight.
Lenny Cohan was very old and very senile, but he talked a blue streak. He claimed his son Ruben was an Ostrich and asked me repeatedly for sweets. As I put the daffodils in a vase by his bed, I made note of the camera on the wall facing his bed. Then I patted his hand, and said I was going to the restroom and would be back.
I quickly slipped around the corner and into the next room. Kara lay on the bed, pale and silent. When she opened her eyes and saw me standing there she spoke so slowly and dreamily I realized that she was heavily drugged.
“I remember you,” she said. “You are nice. Are you a wolf too?”
“No,” I said, taking her hand. “I am a friend. I have a note for you from someone who loves you. Are you able to read it?”
For a moment Kara’s eyes brightened and her head lifted from her pillow. “Marcus?” She asked.
I leaned over her, as though to arrange her pillow, and dropped the note on her chest. She picked it up and opened it eagerly and read aloud in a whisper. She was scarcely done when I heard rapid footsteps in the hall. I snatched the note away from her and ran into the bathroom and flushed it down the toilet.
“Where is she?” A voice demanded. I came out of the bathroom, wiping my hands with a towel. A Wolf-Nurse stood in the doorway.
“Who, me?” I asked innocently.
“What are you doing here?” She demanded angrily. “This patient is receiving no visitors.”
“I was looking for a bathroom, and she said I could use hers. I’m sorry if I caused any trouble.”
With that, I walked around her toward the door.
“No - wait!” Kara protested, but I shook my head at her from the behind the Wolf’s back and laid my index finger on my lips to quiet her. She hesitated, and I winked, smiling. She smiled in return and laid back against her pillows like a contented child.
As I left the building, I realized there was no way I could simply “get Kara out.” Her survival was in her own hands. All I could do was wait and be very careful not to make the situation any more dangerous than it already was.