Chapter 10 Tuesday, 1400 hours (2 PM)
Brian was less than thrilled with the the poor selection of games on the computer, so he was glad to see Evan come into his office.
"Hi Evan. How about a game of chess?"
Evan was a chess addict and usually carried a pocket chess set around with him. He had it with him now, so he and Brian set up for a game.
"What do you think of the escape?" asked Evan, arranging the pieces.
"What escape?" asked Brian, looking up from the board.
"Don't you know? The Cub Scouts flew the coop. They're all gone, except for the kid who wasn't one of the pack. They left him behind, along with their scout uniforms."
"What are you talking about?"
"The kids we locked in the dorm," said Evan. "They climbed down vines from the window, and escaped. Why they went without there uniforms, I don't know. Some sort of a dare, probably."
"What are they wearing then?"
"Nothing," said Evan, "Underwear maybe."
"Damn," said Brian. He was annoyed.. He was going to release the kids and now he couldnt. He had to find them so he could go on with his original idea for the shoot; happy hostages, and happy kids. The negotiator, George. He would like that. Then Brian thought about the freed carnivores and shuddered.
"We've got find the kids, fast."
Brian grabbed his walkie-talkie and radioed down to arrange for search parties to be sent out, but he found that Joshua had already taken care of it.
Brian leaned back in his desk chair. Things seemed to be slipping away from him. Then there was a loud knock on the door, and Roger stormed in.
"I don't approve of beating kids," he said.
"Neither do I," said Brian, "What are you talking about?"
"Why was that kid Jeffrey whipped?" asked Roger angrily.
Brian stood up. Things really were starting to get away from him."Look. Just tell me what happened."
"I heard it from Mark who was guarding the hostages, although you could hear the kid's screams all through the building."
"What kid?" asked Brian.
"The only kid that was left. Don't tell me you don't know about the escape."
"Yeah, I know about it," said Brian, "but I don't know about this. What happened."
"Well," explained Roger, "Jack lost his temper. He took off his belt and had Joshua pin the kid over the end of a bunk. Jack strapped him hard on thin underwear until the kid was screaming his head off. Brian. This stinks."
"My god," said Evan, "I can understand Jack losing it, but Joshua? The guy must be going out of his mind. I think you're right Brian. We should end Operation Zoo now, and get out of here."
Brian ignored him. He was livid. There went his shoot. The hostages would definitely not be happy. He couldnt do the telecast and he didnt know how hed face George. Brian got rid of Evan and Roger, and angrily phoned for Jack to come over. Hed chew him out good.
A few minutes later, Jack came to Brian's office. Joshua was with him.
"So now we beat up little kids," said Brian hotly. He was looking directly at Jack. Brian knew of Joshua's complicity in the beating, but he didn't feel strong enough to confront Joshua directly.
"Im sorry," said Jack. "I just lost my temper when I saw that the scouts werent there and the little brat wouldnt tell me where theyd gone."
Joshua didnt say anything.
Brian was disarmed and somewhat mollified by Jack's apology, very rare in itself. Brian expected a heated argument with he himself having the moral high ground, but apparently there would be no argument, not about Jeffrey's beating in any case. Tentatively, Brian brought up his next issue, one where there would most definitely be an argument. He had been thinking about his talk with the negotiator, George.
"Perhaps we should surrender. Weve made our point," said Brian.
"What?" exploded Jack.
Joshua put a reassuring hand on Jack's arm.
"Dont be silly. We havent BEGUN to make our point," said Joshua.
"Im with Joshua," said Jack, "I'm not a quitter. You can leave if you want, but I'm going to see Operation Zoo through to the end."
"Through to the bitter end," thought Brian.
Joshua transferred his reassuring hand from Jack's arm over to Brian's.
"Brian, I understand your feelings," said Joshua. " You're frustrated. You shouldnt have to deal with George. You're a gifted film director and should be concentrating on the videography. If we're going to get our message across, we need your brilliant talents. You're being wasted now."
Brian, despite himself, was charmed by the complements. He sat, looking at Joshua, wondering what would come next.
Joshua went on. "Look. You do what you're great at, videography, and why dont you let me handle the broadcasts and the negotiations. Im good at that sort of thing."
Brian thought it over for a while.
"Yeah, OK. You can do the broadcasts," he said, "Anyway, I feel more comfortable filming the talent than being it. Sure. OK with me. You do the talking and Ill handle the film work."
In his heart, Brian was very satisfied with Joshua's solution. He was starting to think of the zoo as a closed little world, his world. Not that he was king or anything. The animals were, but he was beginning to find the communications with the outside world, even with George, unsettling. They were pulling him outside his domain into the world at large. He was starting to feel violated by the process. "Yes, it was best if Joshua handled external communications."
"And don't worry," said Joshua, "We'll find the kids." Joshua gathered up Jack, and they left the office.
Brian left the office too. To keep his mind off things, he went to the TV room to work on some camera angles. He was moving cameras, and concentrating on videography when his walkie-talkie squawked on.
"What now?" said Brian to himself.
It turned out that the hostages had to see him for some reason. He grumbled, locked down the camera, and went off to see the captives. He didn't much like to be pulled away from his camera work, but he was the president of Calf, and he knew his duty. He picked up a guard along the way, waited impatiently until the hostage door was unlocked, and went in.
"All right, Whats wrong?" asked Brian.
"Look," said a hostage, "If we have to stay here another night, at least make it tolerable. Were living here like, ur..,like in a Turkish prison."
"Go on," said Brian, relieved that they werent being unreasonable and demanding to be set free on the spot.
"Weve got to have a partition down the middle here; a mens side and womens side. We cant even take our clothes off here at night. Look just get us some black plastic sheeting. Theres got to be a maintenance facility in the zoo. Theyd have it."
"Yeah. O.K.," said Brian.
"And we'll need something to string up the plastic, a rope or something." the hostage went on without pause, "We could also use a few flashlights so that the entire damn place isnt woken up when someone wants to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night."
"OK," said Brian, accommodatingly, "anything else?"
"Yeah. Were going nuts in here. Get us something to read, and maybe a TV."
"Ill see what I can do," said Brian turning to leave and thinking that if he stayed any longer theyd next be asking for a Jacuzzi.
Minutia. Brian hated details and minutia. He was starting to feel he was being nibbled to death by mice.