Chapter 6 Monday, 1600 hours (4 PM)
As they were guided upstairs by college aged kids-carrying assault rifles, Derek put his arm around Jeffrey's shoulder to comfort him. But Jeffrey squirmed free.
The guests were invited upstairs at gunpoint to the second floor of the Education Building where there were two guest rooms for visiting school groups. Each room had its own bathroom and a large window overlooking the central plaza and the sea lion pool. In addition to doors to the hall, the rooms had a door between them. One of the rooms though, the larger, seemed not to have been used as a dormitory for a long time; the beds had been removed in favor of chairs and tables. The guests of the Captive Animal Liberation Front were shepherded into that room. Although there was plenty of space, there were not chairs enough for all to sit. Even so, most of the chairs remained empty; most of the guests stood in small clumps looking anxiously at the CALF people and their guns.
The man who had announced their captivity, dapper in a well tailored suit, came in behind them. Joshua Cave, he gave as his name. In a courteous, even quaintly manner, he explained that CALF had taken over the zoo for the cause of animal rights--in particular, the abolition of all zoos. All the authorities need do was accede to CALF's demands and the guests would be permitted to leave. In the meanwhile they would be well treated, and well fed, but any attempts to escape or interfere with CALF would be dealt with harshly. And, he explained, escape would be difficult since the zoo would always be under observation by a Calfer in a SkySafari gondola using night-vision binoculars.
Two more college kids came in. Joshua introduced them as Jack and Brian. Jack stepped forward with an announcement.
"We are against keeping animals in captivity." He paused and looked from guest to guest. "So we've decided to let some of them loose. We're going to release the large cats--lions, leopards, and tigers. I wouldn't try to escape, if I were you."
A collective gasp could be heard from the hostages.
Jack smiled. "They’ll be released in an hour."
Derek put his arm around Jeffrey's shoulder again. This time Jeffrey allowed it.
"Neat." Kit's treble voice floated from the crowd; he and the scouts were almost hidden in the group of adults.
That drew Brian’s attention. Flagging Jack that he’d like to speak, he walked a few steps forward toward the guests.
"Look." He looked first at the adultsdown at the clump of scouts. "I didn’t know there were any kids here. Kids are okay. They’re innocents, like the animals." Now, he looked directly at the blue cluster of Cub Scouts. "Guys. We’re not going to hurt you. You’re scouts aren’t you?" He looked from boy to boy. "It’ll be like a camp out. You’ll have your own room, with bunks. We’ll send in food. You’ll be under our direct protection."
Jeffrey looked up at his father, and then back at Brian.
"Look guys," said Brian. "We’re for the animals. You like animals, don’t you?"
"Leave us alone," said Kit, "We don’t want our own room. We want to stay here."
"The next door dorm room will be better for you." Brian turned to Jack. "Take them in to the dorm now please, while I talk some to the adults."
Derek and Rom, the Cubmaster, exchanged worried looks as Jack ordered the boys into the adjacent room.
Then Jack seeing Jeffrey, pulled him out as well.
"I'm staying here," said Jeffrey.
"Shut up." Jack pushed him toward the dorm.
Derek moved to argue, but stopped short as a Calfer put a rifle barrel to his throat.
"It's OK, Jeffrey. You'd better go with them."
Jack rushed the kids into the dorm room, and locked the door.
Brian went on to explain the CALF philosophy to the hostages, but Derek wasn't listening. He was fearful of how Jeffrey would handle himself among a bunch of kids he didn't know. He barely noticed when the Cubmaster was singled out and taken away. Nor did he pay much attention to the drivel about animal rights, or the talk of them being honored guests, not hostages.
While Brian was speaking, Derek heard what sounded like fighting coming from the kid's room. Then he heard the happy noise of horseplay.
"He's okay," Derek muttered to himself.
A Calfer went to the door and banged it with the butt of his gun. "Keep it down in there."
Brian finished his presentation and left with his armed escort. Derek heard the door being locked behind them.
When the captors had gone, Derek went to the dormitory door and tried it. It was locked. He was about to call through the door to his son, but thought better of it. Let the kid enjoy the company of his own kind. He turned away from the door. Meanwhile, I should see what my own kind is like.
Derek gazed around the room and he realized with a shock he was looking for people like himself: urban professionals. That worried him. He, an ardent liberal who was proud of his delight in diversity, found that when the going got hard, he looked for people of his same class.
He saw a number of women who obviously were housewives. Some were probably retirees, and a few of them, frankly, looked like thugs. And then there were a few tourists who looked like they'd just come from the farm. Derek silently admonished himself for thinking in such stereotypes. To show himself he really wasn't that kind of person, he walked up to one of the men whom he'd stereotyped as a thug.
"Hi. I'm Derek Robinson," he said, extending his hand.
"I don't give a shit."
Derek smiled, withdrew his hand, and walked to another part of the room. His first attempt at friendship with his co-captives did not go particularly well, and he wondered why. Perhaps he was overdressed for the occasion. He caught his reflection in a window. He looked fine: well creased trousers, button down collar unbuttoned casually, good quality sport jacket, although perhaps too good a quality, too preppy.
He looked around at the others. They looked as if they all belonged together. Derek felt like an outsider. He shrugged. He'd worry about hostage relations later. Now he'd see if his kid was all right.
Derek went to the locked dorm room, and was aware that people were watching him. He leaned into the door frame and asked in a low voice, "Jeffrey. Are you okay?"
There was no answer, but there were sounds of play. He asked again loudly, more loudly than he'd intended and now everyone was watching him.
"I'm fine, Derek," came an answer through the door. It was a very curt answer that didn't invite further conversation.
"Is that your son?" asked a middle-aged woman.
"And you let him call you by your first name?" she asked, but Derek could see by her expression that it wasn't a question, but a condemnation.
"Yes," said Derek, smiling disingenuously, "we've known each other for some time now, and are on a first name basis."
The woman scowled.
Derek wished he could just go away, but of course, he couldn't.