Chapter 5 Monday
Joshua got up at his usual 6AM and dressed on one of the expedition outfits he'd bought Saturday. Before putting on his shirt, he slipped into a thin Kevlar vest. No sense taking chances getting shot by the police, or more likely by one of his under trained Calfers. Joshua finished getting dressed, and strapped on a side-arm. He chose a nine millimeter Lugar in a brown leather holster with a snap flap. He went to a mirror to gage the effect. Not bad. He took off the gun. The Lugar would be for later, after the take-over.
Joshua phoned to have a brunch delivered for himself and the Calfer who was going to bring over a rental truck around 10, and help load it. Then he went to the art room to finish packing those items of the collection that would go on the truck for use in the zoo. Joshua picked up one of the pieces that would not go; a small, modern cross-bow; silent and lethal. He set it, snapped in a quarrel and aimed at the dart board at the far end of the room. The shot was good, but a little off the mark. Joshua loaded another quarrel and took aim. He did not get the shot off, as the doorbell broke his concentration.
It was the lawyer. Joshua signed his will and then gave up his house keys. It would be the lawyer's problem; securing the house until needed again. Joshua returned to the art room, but the doorbell rang again.
It was the delivery of the expedition equipment. Joshua took it in, and stormed back to the art room. He slammed the door behind him, and the vibration tripped the hair trigger of the cross-bow. The quarrel struck Joshua square in the chest. "What a idiotic way to die," thought Joshua as the shaft struck home. Then he started to laugh. His chest was bruised, but the Kevlar vest had worked. Joshua sat and waited until his breathing returned to normal. He had a quick vision of himself dead. Then he thought forward about thirty years and imagined a normal death of old age. If those were the only two alternatives, he'd chose death by cross-bow now. He'd lived an inconsequential life, and he'd like a better death, a death of a martyr might be good. Joshua had thought about that a lot. He was determined not to succumb to old age and become an old man feeding pigeons in the park. What good would wealth do then? Joshua had never come up with a plan for a grand finale, but he'd have to eventually. As much as he tried to hide it from himself, middle age was well upon him. Joshua shook himself free of these thoughts. He had Operation Zoo to keep him busy now. He realized he had no grand plan for Operation Zoo, and for a moment considered that it might be the vehicle for his worldly exit.
"Later. Think about it later. Why am I dwelling on it now? Probably signing my will."
Joshua turned back to the wooden boxes with the stenciled legends, 'FRAGILE - FRENCH WINES', and continued packing up the weaponry. Then the Calfer came with the truck, the brunch was delivered and eaten, the truck was loaded, and Joshua forgot all about plans for his death.
With Joshua sitting on the passenger side, the Calfer drove the truck to the parking lot at the zoo reserved for the film crew. As planned, he'd arrived well after the rank and file Calfers. Joshua left the truck and strolled casually through the zoo, checking on his staff. He had nothing of importance to do until 1600 hours, thirty minutes before zero-hour.
The zoo was not a cheerful, bustling place today. The weather was dismal. It was past the season and many of the areas were closed, and it was a school day. The zoo was almost empty.
As he walked, Joshua came across his Calfers with their IDs on colored cords around their necks. Some were carrying camcorders. Others carried black fiberboard tubes. Joshua saw a Calfer tell a zoo visitor with a small boy in tow, that they were filming a documentary. The boy asked what was in the tube and was told it was lighting equipment. Joshua smiled and imagined the visitors' reactions if they were told what was really in the tube.
Joshua stopped for tea in the Lakeside Zoo Cafeteria. In contrast to the rest of the zoo, the cafeteria was packed. Joshua looked critically at the crowd; a uniformed group of Cub Scouts, few other kids, some retirees, a few tourists, a manageable mix. He wondered which of them would wind up as hostages.
At 1545 hours, Joshua took his small walkie-talkie, and gave the final 'Go'.
Video cameras on dollies were rolled over to the grassy knoll near the Bronxdale exit and the exit gate itself was chained shut. Signs went up saying that the exit was closed because of the film work. Calfers carried out tables and set them in front of the gate. They loaded the tables with a feast. There were heaping platters of high-priced goodies and coolers filled with ice and canned soft drinks. Another table held a bakery sized mass of cookies and cakes.
Joshua heard a Calfer explain it to a visitor;
"Were really sorry sir, but because of the filming, we cant open the gate." he said. "In a couple of minutes a zoo train will come by and drive you the long way out through another exit and back to your car. Until then, please be our guest. Theres lots of food."
The Calfer smiled a young, innocent smile and drifted off to inform other zoo visitors.
Over the next twenty minutes, the group of munchers, the last visitors still in the zoo, grew to about 20. Shortly after, Joshua heard the distant electric hum of a zoo train coming down the path. The others heard it too. Soon, the train, adorned with painted frolicking antelopes, came over the hill and to a stop near the platters. Joshua saw children run for the good seats and the other visitors follow after. Joshua watched as the train pulled out into the now deserted zoo. The sun, almost at the horizon, cast long bands of light and shadow, making the train look zebra like in the late afternoon.
Joshua walked at a quick pace to the Education Building. The train would be going there too, but by a slow and circuitous path.
Joshua joined Brian and Jack at the podium of the large lecture room on the first floor. The three of them heard the train arrive outside, and cheerful Calfers encouraging the passengers to come into the building for a surprise. Joshua smiled. "It would be a surprise all right." Joshua watched patiently as the zoo visitors walked in and sat down in the rows of seats prepared for them.
The passengers were buzzing in conversation when Joshua moved forward on the podium and waved for silence. He flashed a comforting smile, and looked slowly around the room, enjoying the moment.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," said Joshua. "Im sorry to have to inform you that you are now," he paused for the word, "guests of CALF, The Captive Animal Liberation Front."
Joshua watched with satisfaction, as he saw the confused expressions of the visitors as they looked around and saw the Calfers open the black fiberboard tubes they were carrying. Joshua smiled as he watched the confusion turn to fear, as the 'guests' saw that the tubes contained assault rifles.