Chapter 24 Wednesday, 1445 hours (2:45 PM)
As we drove up to the snow leopard habitat, I saw Jeffrey alone, behind the bars. When the cart got close, Jeffrey ran inside the leopard den, and watched us from there. I guess he'd been in the cage so long, that he was beginning to act like a leopard.
The Calfers drove to the keeper's gate, unlocked the cage and made us go in. Then they locked up, and drove away. It was sort of like a fenced-in playground, except that we couldn't get out. And it was weird looking at the zoo from the inside of a cage, like the animals do.
When the carts were out of sight, Jeffrey came out of the den. I know he was really glad to see us and have company, but he tried not to show it.
"I think I liked your other uniforms better," he said.
I looked at my baggy sweatshirt and giggled. Then Jeffrey told us what happened to him. And he told us who the good guys were, and who were the really bad guys. Mr. Cave was the worst, and after him came Jack. We all gathered around Jeffrey as he told the story.
"... and then Mr. Cave held me down and Jack beat me with his belt because I wouldn't tell that you'd gone to hang out with the wolves."
"You got beaten for nothing," said Paul. "We were hiding out in Jungle World."
"Well, anyway," Jeffrey went on, "My father and I escaped and we ran toward the zoo exit, but the signs were wrong and we saw a lion sleeping on the path and had to sneak around him and then we ran again and then I tripped and sprained my ankle. When I got up, a hyena started after us. It would have got me, but then a zoo cart came over the hill and its lights frightened away the hyena. But a guy on the zoo cart caught me. My father got away--I hope. I really hope the hyena didn't get him."
"It didn't," I said. "He was with our Cubmaster."
"You saw him?" asked Jeffrey.
"No. Rom told us. Rom's our Cubmaster. He sneaked back into the zoo, but they captured him. I think your dad's still free, though."
We told Jeffrey what happened to us. It wasn't nearly as interesting as what happened to him. Of course we didn't tell him about the wolfy stuff. Then Jeffrey told us something really horrible.
"Mr. Cave made someone go into the polar bear den, and the polar bears ripped him to pieces."
"Wow," I said.
"How do you know?" asked Paul.
"I saw it on TV. And Mr. Cave said he was going to hurt more people."
We Scouts looked at each other. I was scared.
"Why is he doing all this?" asked Wolfred.
"He said it's because he likes animals."