Here’s the sixth part of The People of Brandwell Zoo. I don’t think there’s much to say about this one. Have a look and see what you think. All excerpts are also now available on my blog. All text copyright (C) Quinn Sermon 2013.
‘It’s time,’ said Regulus, rising from his nest and picking up the key he had stolen from the lazy human.
‘You’re sure about this, are you?’ Prima asked tentatively.
‘Yes,’ he said firmly, ‘and I don’t want anyone with me. The Tiger and I will need to be alone.’
Almost effortlessly, he angled his key through the wire door of the enclosure and unlocked the padlock on the other side. It was the third time he had opened the door, and by now he knew exactly how to do it. He was the most intelligent member of a family of one of the most intelligent species on Earth. He was sure he could do anything.
Followed by the other five Chimpanzees – Simi reluctantly bringing up the rear – he made his way along the tunnel to the second door, unlocked it and stepped out into the night. A cool breeze gently stroked his face; closing his eyes in delight, he relished how much he had already achieved: over half of the Animals in the zoo had been involved in his meetings, most of whom agreed with his excellent idea. Only a few opposed it, and they would be converted soon enough, or face the consequences of their own actions. He was sure he would get though to Simi one way or another, and he had a feeling it would not take long.
Vulsutus the Fox was waiting for them in a small clump of bushes. Stepping forward, he raised his head and presented Regulus with a single thin piece of metal from his mouth.
‘Thank you, Vulsutus,’ said Regulus, taking the metal. ‘Panto, Panja, you’re the best at lock picking. Use this to open the building where the keys are kept, next to the Penguins’ pool. Then you’re responsible for getting the Giraffe and Ostriches out. Father – Elephants. Auntie Prima – Birds with the help of the Armadillos and Aardvark. And that leaves you to get the rest,’ he finished, turning to Simi.
‘Me?’ she protested. ‘On my own?’
‘Yes,’ said Regulus. ‘That’s not a problem, is it?’
‘But I got the Beavers, Porcupines and Meerkats out last night,’ said Simi, ‘and that was hard enough. Now I’ve got to get all the ones Panto and Panja got as well? Why can’t they do it?’
‘Simi, were you even listening? They’re sorting out the keys; they’re going to have enough on their hands as it is. Now, hurry up.’
They all made their way along the path to the key building, where they were hailed by the Macaroni Penguins.
‘Just a moment,’ said Panja, in response to Sphenti’s honking calls. ‘We’ll get you out once we’ve got the keys.’
Shaking Panto off as he offered to ‘help’, Panja quickly picked the lock of the key building and went inside; she was greeted by a wall adorned with several metal hooks, each bearing one or two keys. Below each hook was a small white rectangle with a word of human language written on it.
‘How are we supposed to tell which one’s which?’ Panto asked, gawping at the wall. ‘We can’t read those human markings.’
‘We’ll just have to guess,’ said Panja.
‘Guess? That could take all night!’
‘Well then, we’d better get on with it quickly,’ said Panja. ‘It won’t all be guesswork – the bigger keys will be for the bigger locks, and we can probably pick up scents on some of them. And look – a few have little pictures attached to them.’
She reached up and grabbed a large keyring with two keys and a small tab bearing a photograph of a Giraffe.
‘See? This one’s for us. Come on – grab all the keys you can carry and we’ll all work out who needs which ones.’
Regulus didn’t help much with identifying the keys; as soon as he saw a picture of a Tiger he snatched up his keyring and set off for the Tiger’s enclosure.
This is it, he thought as he approached the long glass window through which Prima had seen the Tiger two nights before. Now, the Tiger either joins us or stays locked up for the rest of his life. If he has any sense, he’ll listen to me and submit to my command.