Chapter 23 Wednesday, 1415 hours (2:15 PM)
Rom had trouble maintaining his customary cheerfulness. His plans were falling apart. After a long wait, he gradually realized that his Cub Scouts would not be housed with the other hostages. He had no idea where his scouts were nor where Derek was. He'd been taken captive again, and the Ithaca Pack was in great danger. Furthermore, the other hostages were just about catatonic with fear, and apparently with good reason. They'd told him that the Calfers had taken one of them, and thrown him in with the polar bears to be killed. Rom didn't want to believe it, but it would explain the scream he and Derek had heard earlier at the Bear Pavilion.
Rom worked to pull himself together. His scouts were probably in the leopard cage with Jeffrey, and Derek would be hanging around there too. Now, if he could only get out of this room, he might be able to do something. Rom paced the room, looking for an avenue of escape.
As he contemplated the bars on the windows, Joshua Cave and several armed Calfers stormed in. Rom tried to melt out of sight, not wanting Joshua to remember him as the one he sent out of the zoo with demands.
Joshua announced that he was there to chose two hostages, one to be freed and the other killed. He ordered the hostages to line up against the wall. Joshua slowly walked down the line.
Rom shuddered. He believed the hostages now. They'd described this very scene. And now it was happening again.
Joshua stopped in front of a man. "Whatís your name?"
"Reggie Foreman, sir," answered the man, casting his eyes down to the floor as he answered.
"We will take you, Mr. Foreman." Joshua nodded to a guard to pull the man out of the line.
"No, not me," he pleaded, "Look, I have money. Chose someone else."
Joshua ignored the man and continued down the line.
"Damn it. You canít do this to me." The man tried to move forward but was held back by two Calfers.
Joshua paid no attention to the commotion behind him and calmly continued down the line.
Foreman, with his arms pinned behind his back by the Calfers, raised his voice higher. Joshua stopped, paused a few seconds with his back to the man. The he swiveled around sharply, grabbed an AK-47 from the nearest Calfer and pointed the weapon at Mr. Foremanís stomach.
"Shut up, or Iíll kill you on the spot." Joshua, cocked the mechanism.
Mr. Foremanís eyes widened. He gurgled a bit, and became quiet. Joshua handed the weapon to the Calfer, turned back and took a few more steps. He stopped in front of a woman.
"I think itís only fair we give you another chance." Joshua nodded again to a guard.
The woman screamed.
"Itís fifty fifty," said Joshua over the wailing. "One of you is going to sleep in your own bed tonight."
Two Calfers came up and carried the woman out of the room. Through the closed door, the screams, though muffled, still reverberated throughout the room, fading as the sounds of the struggle receded.
The hostages stood motionless and mute. No one stood up for the woman or tried to stop her from being taken.
Rom watched with horror, but, like the others, said nothing.
Sam was sitting on a bench in Jungle World, looking morosely into a habitat, when Elliot ran in and sat across from him on the next bench. Elliot didn't seem at all troubled by the fact he was entirely naked.
"It was fantastic," said Elliot, "being a wolf. The smells and sounds, the oneness with nature. It's beyond belief."
"Shut up," said Sam, "and for heaven's sake, put some clothes on." He stood up and tromped angrily down to the basement. Elliot followed, and hurriedly got dressed.
"Damn it, Elliot. I don't understand why it worked on you but not me. Maybe the drink only works with green kids. Nothing personal, but you are a green kid."
Elliot held his tongue. He was used to his partner losing his temper. Sam was the senior partner, and it was his privilege.
"I'm going to find one of the kids," said Sam, "and get him to bite me. There's no way I'm not going to become a werewolf."
"It might not be easy to get to him. Those college boys out there have some pretty heavy armament."
"Toys. They're using them as toys." Sam patted his service revolver. "But I know how to use this."
"What if the kid won't bite you?"
"Then I'll kill him." Sam fingered his revolver, "and go on to the next kid, and keep going if I have to, until I find someone reasonable."
"You're not serious?"
"You've never killed a man, have you, Elliot?"
"I have. The first was during a drug interdiction. I didn't have to kill him, but he was as guilty as sin. A murderer. I just saved the government the trouble."
Sam opened the door and strode out.
"What gives you the right?" said Elliot from the doorway.
"My badge gives me the right." Sam walked off down the path. He seemed oblivious to danger, either from wandering carnivores, or from armed men.
"Come back," Elliot called. "There's a better way."
"Shut up," muttered Sam. "Do you want the whole damn zoo to hear us?"
Elliot watched, horrified, as Sam stalked angrily away.