Chapter 11 Tuesday, 1800 hours (6 PM)
About an hour before the 7PM broadcast, Joshua was in the World of Darkness building. He had gone there to think and the darkness fit his mood. He was worried that the troops might be softening, one individual in particular. Yes. Brian was in need of a sharp lesson, but what? Joshua wandered the building, preoccupied with his problem, but then, here in this home of nocturnal animals, he saw the elements for the object lesson he was seeking. Now all he needed was an excuse - an opportunity to administer this lesson.
Walking briskly, Joshua left the building. At the lighted entranceway, he looked at his watch. It was time to get back for the 7PM broadcast.
In the communications room, Joshua let Brian buzz around him, pinning on the lavaliere microphone, arrange the precise angle of the desk to the camera, and arrange a tableau with the wolfish stray dog sitting to Joshua's left. The dog had come out of nowhere and was a great favorite of the Calfers. Joshua thought it looked good having the beast sitting beside him.
Joshua watched Brian scurrying around the set. He didn't seem to mind that he was no longer the 'talent', but seemed ecstatically happy controlling a camera. Why shouldn't he be. This equipment was the best that money could buy, and far better than what Brian was used to from school. Brian gave the 'camera live' sign. Joshua looked dreamily into the camera and began 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. Joshua knew of course, that there was no such post as Chairman of Communications, and he certainly hadn't been appointed to it, but he doubted if anyone would notice such fine points.
Joshua described the reasons for Operation Zoo but drew rather sharper lines than had Brian earlier. He was interrupted by the arrival of the expected phone call from George, the negotiator.
The first few minutes were spent on trivialities, and the conversation was cordial. Then Joshua changed the tone.
"It seems that none of our demands have been met," he said softly. "If they havent been met by tomorrow mornings broadcast, we may have to hurt a hostage."
"There," thought Joshua, "That'll get his attention."
George asked what he meant, 'hurt a hostage', but was ignored.
Joshua thanked George for his attention, and told how much he looked forward to talking with him again in the morning. He hung up the phone, moved his chair back, got up, and walked out leaving the camera with a view of his back. Brian followed the action the best he could and executed a quick fade to black.
As Joshua unhooked the microphone from his collar, Brian came up to him.
"I'm calling a special meeting of the CALF directorate, and you are invited," said Brian, "in ten minutes. Here, in this room." Brian stalked away to inform the other directors.
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 need much sleep. Instead he spent a lot of time hanging around with the troops, most any time of day or night. This was a calculated act for Joshua, and it worked. Joshua now had quite a large personal following.
"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. "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?"
Joshua looked from face to face.
"No," he continued. "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 to this end?"
"Like you hurt that little kid?" asked Evan sarcastically.
Joshua ignored him. Except for Evan, Roger and to some extent Brian, Joshua knew he had them all believing in him.
"This can be an historic point in our cause," Joshua 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, Evan halted, looked around, 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 evenly.
"I don't think well have to hurt any of the hostages," interrupted Brian. "Lets leave it until the morning. Im sure the police negotiator, will be reasonable."
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.
"I think Id better come along too," said Brian.
"Of course," said Joshua. "You certainly should be with us.
Evan looked a bit bewildered.
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 to watch and comment 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, bright 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.
"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 their feeding tray. The liquid is blood."
Joshua seemed enthralled. He broke his gaze away and looked directly at Evan. "Vampire bats truly drink blood. Its 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.
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."
Joshua smiled inwardly at Evan's confused look.
"Take off your shirt," said Joshua.
"What?" answered Evan.
"I said, Take off your shirt," Joshua repeated "Now."
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 corrective 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.
"Take off your shirt. Im not going to ask you again," said Joshua.
Evan looked fleetingly from face to face and then 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."
Evan complied and dumbly allowed himself to be led to the habitat keepers entrance. Joshua produced a key and unlocked the small access panel, proving that this punishment was premeditated. Evan stooped through the low door and stared at the swarm of bats. They were squeaking excitedly.
With Evan attended to, Joshua put his arm around Brian's shoulder and guided him outside. He had no doubt that Brian knew that the lesson was not principally for Evan, but for himself. He hoped that Brian appreciated the symmetry. Brian had criticized him obliquely, and now just as obliquely, was being punished for it.