Chapter 15 Wednesday, 0330 hours (3:30 AM)
The first human blood was drawn in two separate incidents, the first at three thirty in the morning, just as many of the Calfers were returning to their posts or their bunks after Joshuas midnight meeting.
Out of deviltry or more likely just boredom, The Kings of the Bronx decided to throw a late night party. The Kings, unchallenged and predominant, were a youth gang or social organization, depending on ones viewpoint. They decided to hold their party in Bronx zoo, convenient since they all lived near by. Their party paraphernalia consisted of half emptied bottles of liquor, a handful of condoms, and a few hand guns. They were also curious. They knew something strange was going down at the zoo since there were police at all entrances. The police though, probably from a shortage of manpower, had not bothered to guard the zoo's large perimeter fence. The barbed wire would probably be a sufficient deterrent to unauthorized passage.
The zoo's perimeter fence had razor wire mainly for the protection of the animals within but the wire was not much of an impediment for the Kings of the Bronx. They had taken a mattress from one of the many abandoned South Bronx apartment buildings in the zoo vicinity, and had borrowed a ladder from a parked maintenance truck. Since they were on their own turf, they feared naught. The Kings set their ladder against the Southern Boulevard perimeter fence using a street lamp for additional support. Earlier in the day, they had shot out the lamp's bulb, so they could work in darkness, and unobserved.
It was observed however, through night goggles by the CALF spotter in the SkySafari. He radioed in to Zoo Center, and a pair of Calfers in a zoo cart was dispatched to the scene.
"Im sorry," said a Calfer, "but you cant come in here."
The leader of the Kings looked through the fence at the teen aged individual who had gotten out of the cart and figured that another gang had a similar plan to their own.
"The hell we cant." he said.
The Calfer wasnt carrying an AK-47 but instead was wearing a side arm. It kept his hands free, and besides, it looked sharp. For effect, he crisply unsnapped the military holster, and drew the weapon. Not that he intended to use it, even if he knew how, which he didnt. It just felt good in his hand. One of the Kings was more experienced. He took out his cheap hand gun and without warning, shot the Calfer in the arm. His companion in the cart, angry and frightened, jumped down and opened fire with his automatic weapon. He didnt hit anyone. He wasnt trying to, but instead was trying to deal with the recoil of his weapon. His shots went completely wild. Shells hit the street, a mailbox, and the old brownstone across the street, knocking little shards of red brick from the walls and shattering a window. It was very noisy but noise of this sort was not particularly uncommon in this part of the Bronx. The police took no notice. They most likely didn't even hear it.
"Holy Shit, Lets get the hell out of here." said the Kings leader as he and the rest of the gang dropped their bottles and ran for their lives. The leader was worried not only for his life, but also because there seemed to be a new gang in the area, and a well armed one too. He knew thered have to be a turf war, and with these cats, it wouldnt be much fun.
The injured Calfer was taken to the zoo hospital to be treated by an emergency medical technician, a veterinary student at Tufts. She had him sit on the low table that was made for medium sized animals while she examined the wound. The bullet had gone cleanly through, missing bones and arteries alike. The wound needed only disinfecting and bandaging. The injured Calfer left the zoo animal hospital wearing his bandage as a badge of honor.
The second incident happened about an hour later. A special black-clad anti-terrorist squad attempted to breach the zoo fence from the Bronx River Parkway side. They too were spotted from the tramway. There was advance warning of the attack since although the police were monitoring CALF communications, they did not bother to think that CALF might be monitoring theirs. CALF was well warned, well prepared, and very well armed. At the moment when the squad was about to go over the fence, they were met with a barrage of automatic weapon fire, tracer bullets, flares, and even a grenade. None of this was meant to injure, intentionally misdirected as the fire was, but only to be a lesson that CALF was not to be treated lightly.
The lesson was learned. Using an expletive not unlike that of the leader of the Kings of the Bronx, the anti-terrorist squad leader broke off the engagement even before it had really started and, like the Kings, ran for cover. Save for their pride, they suffered no injuries. A Calfer, on the other hand, did. He was knocked out of his perch in a tree by the recoil of his weapon and suffered a cut on the back of his head.
While the Calfers were defending the zoo in the name of animal rights, a couple of tigers were methodically eating their way through the petting zoo, and Jack was tossing and turning in his sleeping bag.
At 4 that morning, Jack's eyes were open for he could not sleep. He often had trouble sleeping. His walkie-talkie was on the desk, powered up with voice activated autoscan enabled and the volume knob set to low. Not that he needed to know what was going on. He just didnt want to feel alone. Jack was stretched out on his back on the floor of a small, first floor office. All the officers and Joshua each had their own room, Joshua in fact was rumored to have two. The rank and file members shared rooms, which room depended on their sleep schedules. Jack wondered idly if now that there were no more officers, hed have to give up his room. Not that it mattered. After tomorrow when they all became murderers, the police would probably have no choice but to invade. Again, not that it mattered, not even if everyone got killed. That way at least he wouldnt have to figure what to do after college. Not having a home at college after not having a home at home. Thats what scared him.
He tried to think back before the divorce or at least before his dad remarried. Was he happy then? He couldnt remember. His dad was rough on him, especially when his dad had been drinking. And after the divorce he'd started drinking a lot. Through it all though, they'd been a family, a small one, just he and his dad. But then his father remarried.
His father used to say, "Youre not losing a father. Youre gaining a sister." He gained a sister, his precious older stepsister. Maybe he didnt lose a father, but he did lose his dog. His perfect precious, stepsister and her supposed dog allergy; He hated her, and when she died a few years later of leukemia, he said he was glad. His stepmother hit him then, hard. They tried therapy, and when that didnt do anything, a private school. After that, he never went home again. From high school, he was injected directly into NYU.
Why was he always dwelling on these things. It just caused him pain. Not that he didnt cause others pain, either emotional pain as in the case of his parents, or physical pain as when he was in school. He became an expert on pain. He was the school bully and inflicted it a lot. It made him feel good, like when you secretly feel good when you hear about someone elses misfortune. Yes, like that, but more so.
It was no use. He just couldnt sleep. He turned his attention to his walkie-talkie and pondered the news of mauled deer carcasses. Apparently the released cats had found munchies, but how did the deer get loose? His mind was now too fully engaged to even make an attempt at sleep. Jack sat up in the sleeping bag and rubbed his stubble. A few more days of this and hed have the beginnings of a beard. Revolutionaries were supposed to have beards, werent they? Joshua and Brian didnt have stubble of course. Joshua was too fastidious and Brian probably didnt even shave yet. Jack hopped out of his sleeping bag, flipped the light on and got dressed. He went out to the service kitchen, opened the outside door a crack. He whistled softly at the crack until the black tip of a nose pushed in at the door. Jack swung open the door, admitting a bounding Wolf, and snapped it closed again.
"Good dog. Good dog," he said while Wolf jumped up to lick his face.
Jack hugged the animal and went to the refrigerator for a snack for both of them. Wolf, independent and feral, was good company for Jack who never seemed quite comfortable with people. Jack finished off his pre-dawn meal and regarded his canine friend. Wolf padded over and put a paw in Jacks hand. Jack closed his fingers around the paw and Wolf licked his hand. Jacks face inexplicably hardened. He tightened his hand to a fist, squeezing Wolfs paw. Wolf yelped in pain but Jack continued to squeeze. The yelp turned to a low growl and the gray eyed animal sunk its teeth into Jacks arm, drawing blood. Jack, smiling, loosed his grip, and patted Wolfs head.
"Good dog," he said.