by Heidi Kortman -
“Ouch,” Bede muttered as he hurried down the corridor toward the dispensary. “I’m sorry you hurt, Pangur Ban, but so does the back of my neck.” With each of the quarr’s rapid breaths, its scales rasped Bede’s skin.
He didn’t dare to leave the animal unattended, and holding it stable across his shoulders meant that he didn’t have a hand free to keep the hem of his robe from hindering his stride. Ahead was the last corner.
The dispensary door and shutters were closed. Bede rattled the shutters. Maybe the dispensarian was compounding a salve. No light escaped the slats. “Brother Wilfred, Brother Wilfred, are you there?” He set the quarr on the narrow counter ledge. “Stay.”
Bede grasped the door lever. Locked. He pounded, and raised his voice. “Brother Wilfred.”
Farther down the hall, a door opened. The bishop’s confessor poked his head through. “Be quiet! Meditation is hard enough in this place without your noise.”
“Father, is the dispensarian with you? I need medicine for my quarr.” He’d said it. My quarr.
“Bibles don’t own anything. No, he’s not with me. Be quiet or be gone.” With that, the confessor slammed the door.
“The two of them deserve each other,” Bede muttered, as he returned to the panting quarr. “Let me see, boy.” The blisters were taut with fluid.
“I wish this robe had a hood.” Bede bent again and took the quarr across his shoulders. If he’d caught the case of grooblies that had struck the dormitory in the spring, he might know which was the dispensarian’s cell. The bishop, however, was cautious of his health. Odds were good that the confessor could steer Bede in the right direction.
He trudged to the man’s cell door, and gave it three solid thumps. When it opened, Bede stared into the confessor’s flushed face. “This quarr saved the bishop’s life. Now it needs tending. Where will I find Brother Wilfred at this hour?”
Pangur Ban flattened his ears and showed fangs. Bede tapped the quarr’s nose, but not before the confessor’s face went pasty.
“T-two levels down, across from Water Purification.”