Chapter 22 Wednesday, 1330 hours (1:30 PM)
Derek rushed back to Jungle World, still being careful not to be seen. Things were different now. This zoo occupation was no innocent lark anymore. If Jeffrey was to be believed, a hostage had been killed in cold blood. Derek shuddered. He had heard the death scream of that hostage. He'd thought it had been a Calfer who'd been attacked by one of the big cats they'd let loose, and he'd even joked about it. He had to let Rom know, and then they'd have to free Jeffrey. Then they could just barricade themselves in Jungle World until they were liberated.
Derek approached Jungle World at an angle so as to throw off any possible followers. He circled to the back of the building, and true to Romís word, found the service entrance unlocked. He let himself in, and searched the large facility, working his way up from the basement, looking for Rom and the cubs.
He found the classroom and smiled at the sight of snack cake wrappers strewn freely. He was getting closer. He called out for Rom and the scouts, but heard nothing but the reverberation of his voice. Derek frowned. Something wasn't right.
He worked his way to the very top of the building with a growing sense of dread. By the time he got to the top level habitat, he had to face the fact that Rom and his cub scouts were gone. Derek searched again, from the top level down to the basement, and then once again back up to the top, checking every possible door, even closets.
Where are they, and why didn't they wait for me?
Then Derek had to contemplate what he'd tried so hard to put out of his mind. They've been captured. That's the only possible reason they didn't wait.
Derek sat heavily on a bench in front of an open jungle scene with one part of his mind occupied with the antics of a troop of Vervet monkeys and another part wondering despairingly what to do.