Chapter 14 Tuesday, 2300 hours (11 PM)
Brian gaveled the midnight meeting to order with his fist. He was sitting between Jack and Joshua in the front of the Zoo Central conference room. It was a pretty good turnout considering how late it was, but it was indeed late and Brian wasnt going to waste time with opening pleasantries.
"OK guys, Lets get started," he said. Brian gave them a few moments to quiet down.
"Were here in uh, open session to decide what to do next," Brian started. "In particular, What do we do about the hostages. The floor is open for comments."
"What do you think, Brian," asked someone from the floor.
"I think," Brian glanced sideways at Joshua. "I think.. I dont know what I think."
Joshua raised his hand politely, and then stood up without being recognized.
"We have come so far, accomplished so much. The whole world is watching us, and there is one thing I know, and that is, We cannot surrender. We will not surrender. We are close to winning. The authorities will have to agree to our demands. Close All the Zoos. I know you also feel this sense of history and you are willing to do what has to be done for the greater good. Weve got to be tough. We have taken hostages. It sounds wrong to take hostages, but its not. Hostage taking is the only thing small countries can do in the face of aggression from large ones. In order to get the zoos closed and the animals freed, we might have to hurt a hostage. We might even have to see one of them sacrificed."
"But theyre just innocent civilians," a Calfer piped up.
"Theres no such thing as a civilian. Have they been protesting with us? No. Look, If you close your eyes to others doing evil, are you not evil too?" answered Joshua.
"Nobody wants to talk about people being sacrificed, but were in a war," Joshua continued. "and Bombs kill civilians, thousands of them. Here, were talking about the possibility, only the remote possibility of one hostage dying. Not all that much to ask in view of the countless torture of countless animals."
"But, well all go to jail," said another Calfer.
"Maybe," said Joshua pausing for effect. "Maybe for a month or two, but can you really imaging the police sending 50 college kids to prison. No. Itll be a slap on the wrist at most."
Joshua looked first at Brian, then Jack, then again at the assembled Calfers.
"No, Youre pretty safe, but Brian and Jack, they are the leaders. Theyre going to be in deep trouble. The authorities will blame them. I dont want to see that, and Im sure you dont either. Im afraid the only thing to do is dissolve the CALF offices. If CALF were run by a committee, made up of all of us here, then thered be no officers to blame. Brian and Jack would be as safe as you are."
Joshua sat down.
Jack could care less. It didn't matter to him whether he was an officer or not. He'd act the same way regardless, and people would still react to him the same way. They'd better. In any case, he and Joshua had worked it out beforehand, and there was no doubt that Joshua was there real power here.
Jack stood to propose a motion of dissolution, which was seconded, discussed and duly passed. Then, now stripped of his office, he proposed the motion to have CALF run by committee. It was also passed.
Brian for his part, felt he had just lost a chess game to a vastly superior player without even being aware he was engaged in the game.
Jack stood again, aware but uncaring that technically, there was no one officially empowered to even chair the meeting.
"Look, Ive got to get back to my post," he said. "but before I do, let me be clear. If at the 9 AM broadcast, the negotiator has not met our demands, we are prepared to sacrifice a hostage. Well chose one of them, and put him in with an animal, a bear. If the bear decides to maul the hostage, well so be it. If the bear leaves him alone, then well let him go. The bear will decide."
Some of the Calfers thought this a neat and fitting idea while others were shocked. They looked on the zoo take over rather in the nature of a lark, but they kept their feelings to themselves since they knew they could not stand up to Jacks brutality nor Joshuas charisma.
Before Jack left the meeting, he explained, "Of course, the killings will be on camera."
The debate went on for a couple more hours, but it was just debate. At the end, worn out and thinking that they could continue discussions in the morning, they started to trickle out of the meeting. Eventually by default, the plan to sacrifice a hostage to a bear was sustained since there were not enough people remaining to object to it.
Jack was out on a late night patrol. He'd be out until two in the morning, but unlike most of the other Calfers, he liked being abroad at night. He thought on what Joshua had done at the meeting. They guy was good. There would be some real carnage soon.
Jack felt an affinity for the old guy, and he was sure Joshua also felt a closeness to him. Maybe the time was right to talk to Joshua about God. Jack looked skyward and whispered a prayer to the Almighty.