Chapter 11 Tuesday, 1900 hours (7 PM)
Jack was sitting at Joshua's right hand. He looked out and saw Brian working camera. Then he looked over at the studio monitor. Whatever Joshua's motivations, Jack had to admit the guy was right. Brian was a really good cameraman. Jack watched the monitor as Brian zoomed slowly in to Joshua and the desk, empty save for a telephone. Then very slowly Brian zoomed in on the talent for a tight head shot. Joshua looked dreamily into the camera and started to speak. He explained he was the Joshua Cave, the new CALF Chairman of Communications. He would be doing all the broadcasts and would be fully in charge of the negotiations with the authorities.
"It seems that none of our demands have been met," said Joshua softly. "If they havent been met by tomorrow mornings broadcast, we may have to hurt a hostage."
Jack smiled when he heard that.
After the broadcast, Brian hastily called for a special meeting of the CALF directorate. Joshua was invited also, although over the past few months, the term directorate seemed to include Joshua anyway. There should have been a lot of people at this meeting but there were only eight. Others who should have been there were either on duty or were reluctant to give up any of their sleep time. Joshua on the other hand, didnt seem to need sleep. Jack was there also.
"Hurt a hostage? What the hell are you talking about?" asked Brian, chairing the meeting.
"Why are we here, and why are we doing this?" asked Joshua rhetorically. "Is it just to stage a protest, a gesture, get some publicity and then meekly surrender to let the police do what they will with us?"
Brian in fact, thought that was precisely why they were there.
Joshua went on. "No. We are doing this to effectuate change. We want the zoo closed. We want all zoos closed. What does it matter if we hurt a hostage or two for this end?"
"Like you hurt that little kid?" asked Evan sarcastically.
Joshua ignored him.
"This can be an historic point in our cause," he went on, "Well be remembered as martyrs for animal rights."
"But dont you have to die or something to be a martyr?" said Evan, looking not at Joshua but at his friend, Brian.
"No, not at all," said Brian, "not necessarily."
Evan stood up. "Well, you guys can be martyrs if you want, but not me." He started for the door.
"You coward," said Jack with contempt.
"Its not cowardice Jack, its just that I dont like the idea of committing suicide."
"Youre just scared," said Jack.
"Sit down Evan," commanded Joshua. Startled at the tone, Evan halted, looked around, found Brians eyes, and sat down.
"I think most of us are in agreement," said Joshua. "Lets end this meeting and get on with our work."
"You still havent answered Brians question, namely what do you mean hurt a hostage," said Evan calmly.
"Im don't think well have to hurt any of the hostages," said Brian, coming to Joshua's aid. "Lets leave it until the morning. Im sure the police negotiator, will be reasonable."
Evan bit his lip.
Joshua slowly stood, effectively bringing the meeting to an end. "Perhaps Evan and I should just have a little talk, with Jack too," he said walking over and putting his arm collegially around Evans shoulder.
Jack smiled and remembered how Joshua had dealt with Mickey. Jack hoped that this time, he'd be able to watch Joshua administer the punishment.
"I think Id better come along too," said Brian remembering the results of the little talk with Mickey.
"Of course," said Joshua. "You certainly should be with us.
Evan looked a bit bewildered. He felt there was a sub-text to this conversation, but he had no idea what it was.
Chatting in a friendly way, Joshua under the pretext of needing a change of scene, and a private place to talk, casually maneuvered Evan out to a zoo cart. The four of them drove to the World of Darkness building and went inside.
They wandered around the habitats, stopping occasionally while Joshua commented on the activities of the little nocturnal creatures. Most of the habitats in the World of Darkness were illuminated by red light. This color light was invisible to the animals, convincing them that it really was night. Around midnight, incandescent lights would come on. The animals, thinking it was dawn, would go to their dens and sleep. Now though, it was night, both outside the building, and within.
They continued their meandering, apparently without anything particular in mind, passing through a light blocking curtain into a new habitat. They now faced a glass wall, behind which was a colony of cave bats. Here, the incandescent lights would never come on. Save for the dim red illumination, the simulated cave would always be dark.
Evan liked bats, theoretically at any rate. They were mammals and he was predisposed towards mammals. Looking at them however, he was aware that he was beginning to like them less. Watching those agile flying creatures with their out of this world faces, and their abrupt and unpredictable changes of motion, made him truly nervous. His nervousness was compounded by the fact that he had not yet had that little talk with Joshua. He had tried to engage Joshua in dialogue during their drive, but all attempts were deflected aside by inconsequential chatter. Even Brian had been uncharacteristically dour.
"These are Central American vampire bats," said Joshua gazing intently into the glass. It was almost as he were talking to the bats themselves. "Look at them. No aircraft could ever compete with these aerobatic marvels."
Joshua pointed to a small tray on a shelf at the back of the enclosure. "That's feeding tray. The liquid is blood." Joshua seemed enthralled. He broke his gaze away and looked directly at Evan. "Vampire bats truly drink blood. Usually from a cow or chicken. Sometimes, they find a farmer sleeping in the open. Then they drink from the big toe. You know, their teeth are so sharp that the farmer never wakes."
"I know about vampire bats," said Evan impatiently, wondering what Joshuas point was or even if he had a point.
Jack was wondering the same thing.
Joshua took no notice. "They dont die, the victims of the bites, except occasionally the chickens. They dont have all that much blood to give. Rabies is a problem though. A lot of these bats are rabid. You know they can carry rabies all their lives and not die of it."
Evan was beginning to think that the guy had really lost it, when Joshua spun around and looked him directly in the face."
"Take off your shirt," said Joshua.
"What?" answered Evan.
"I said, Take off your shirt," said Joshua again. "Now," he added.
Evan looked at him, uncomprehendingly.
"You have not been a team player, Mister Williams. I think we have to work on your behavior a little. As a punishment for that behavior, you will spend the night in the company of the bats. Id advise you to not let yourself fall asleep."
"Youre crazy," shouted Evan. "Do you stay up all night thinking this stuff up." He looked to his Brian for help, but his friend averted his eyes.
Brian knew that he could not stand against Joshua, especially with Jack there to provide the muscle.
"Take off your shirt. Im not going to ask you again," said Joshua.
Jack tried not to smile.
Evan looked fleeting from face to face, then considered the possibilities for escape. Finding no sympathy and no escape, he took off his shirt.
"Now your shoes and socks please," said Joshua. "Dont worry, well let you keep your pants. I hope you learn something from this little object lesson."
Brian, hearing this began to comprehend that this little object lesson wasnt really for Evan, but for himself.
Evan complied with Joshuas command and dumbly allowed himself to be led to the habitat keepers entrance. Somehow Joshua produced a key and unlocked the small access panel, proving that this punishment was premeditated. Evan stooped through the low door and heard the lock close behind him. He stared at the swarm of bats. They were squeaking excitedly, the way they did when their keeper came with more blood for them.
Joshua went back through the light-blocking curtain. Jack and Brian followed. Before they left the building, Joshua flipped a master switch for the lights. For the rest of the night, Evan would be in total darkness.
Later, back in his room, Jack saw that he and Joshua had a lot in common. There was a similar streak of what? Cruelty? No. Sadism? Perhaps. A need for order and structure? Definitely. Jack wondered if Joshua's streak stemmed from the same source as his own - an absolute belief in a strong and vengeful god. Jack decided that when the time was right, he'd simply ask him.