Chapter 16 Wednesday, 0600 hours (6 AM)
Derek couldn't get back to sleep. As soon as the sky showed signs that night might end, Derek kneeled and gazed out the tent entrance.
"Anything interesting out there?"
Derek, started at the break in the pre-dawn silence. He twisted around and saw Rom sitting up in his sleeping bag. "Ah. So you're awake," said Derek. "You're a deep sleeper, you know."
"Did I sleep through something?"
"First, around three or four in the morning, there was machine gun fire. And then, an hour later, there was a regular light and sound show or artillery. I thought it was the police coming to liberate the zoo."
"Apparently not. I don't know what it was." Derek decided not to tell Rom about his supposition that Calf had more firepower than the police.
"Weird. How about turning on your pocket TV and see if the early news has anything to say about it."
Derek took the little set from his jacket pocket. "I forgot all about the TV."
Scanning the dial, he found a round-the-clock local news channel. The zoo seemed to be the major story of the morning. The police had indeed tried to re-take the zoo, but the attack had been called off due to the heavy weapons fire from within the park. The police wanted to end the occupation, but without heavy loss of life.
Then the news program ran a video clip from the previous day. As Derek and Rom hunched over the tiny TV, they saw Joshua Cave looking directly out. He smiled and said that if his demands weren't met, then he might have to hurt a hostage.
"I don't like the sound of that," said Rom. "Do you think he means it."
Derek's thoughts turned to Jeffrey. Yes. I'm sure he means it. I've got to get Jeffrey out.
They had a breakfast of oatmeal and cocoa and then repacked everything into Rom's knapsack. Rom hefted the pack up and tied it high in a tree, out of reach of inquisitive wolves. Then they set off to find Jeffrey and the scouts. Derek still carried Jeffrey’s jacket, as well as his spear.
"I'm worried," said Derek. "I can't imagine what they've done with Jeffrey."
"It's possible they've got him in the Education Building somewhere. Maybe with my scouts," said Rom. "Maybe they've been captured too."
"Possibly, but I think I would have heard them." Derek replayed the previous day. "I was a captive there until just last night. But Jeffrey and your scouts have probably been put in together, so if we find one, we find them all."
"I still think they might be in the Education Building or Zoo Center," said Rom, "but it'll be hard to search those places. I think we should try looking in all the other indoor habitats."
"What's the matter?"
"It's sort of like the kid who lost his wallet in the middle of the school yard at night, and looked for it way off under a street light because the light was better there."
"I guess," said Rom, "but do you have a better plan?"
They explored the Monkey House first, then The World of Reptiles, and were just on their way to The World of Darkness when they encountered first the mauled nyala carcass and then they heard a zoo cart coming down the path. Rom and Derek hid low in the brush.
"That was close," said Derek.
"You have to learn to move quietly," said Rom, not for the first time.
The cart passed by.
"You know," said Derek, "That cart came from the direction of the World of Darkness building. Maybe CALF is using that building too. If so, our kids might be there."
"Yeah. Let's check it out."
They approached the World of Darkness carefully, for if it were a CALF hangout, there'd be lots of comings and goings. The building though, was dead. They circled it a couple of times, then tried the doors. Everything was locked and there were no windows.
"So much for that idea," said Derek. "What now?"
"I don't know. Try Jungle World, I guess. After that, there's only the Mouse House and the Gorilla Pavilion