Scripture: Summarize the Scripture in your own words. Don’t interpret it yet, just boil it down to a few summary sentences.
Observation: Write down what this passage teaches about God (his character, the way he acts, what he loves, etc) and about people (our tendencies, what is expected of us, our needs, etc).
Application: What would it look like to live this passage out today? Is there a sin to avoid, a promise to cling to, an example to follow, or a command to obey? Write down what you think God wants you to do.
Prayer: Write down a prayer to God, telling him what you’ve learned and asking him to help you live this truth out today.
Share: Take a moment and ask God who would benefit from hearing what you discovered today. Write down their name and share with that person!
Psalms 19:7-14 EASY –
7 The law of the Lord is perfect. It makes us strong again. We can trust what the Lord teaches us. He helps ordinary people to be wise. 8 The Lord ‘s rules are always right. If we obey them, they make us really happy. The Lord ‘s commands are completely good. They show us how to live in a good way. 9 It is right for us to respect the Lord. That will always help us. The laws of the Lord are true. They are right and fair. 10 They are more valuable than gold, even the best gold. They are sweeter than the best honey. 11 Your laws warn us to do what is right. If we obey them, they are a great help to us. 12 Nobody realizes every time that they do something wrong. Please forgive me for the sins that I do not know about. 13 Lord, stop me doing things that I know are wrong. Do not let those sins rule my life. Then I will not be guilty. I will not have turned against you in a bad way. 14 Lord, I want to make you happy. I want my words and my thoughts to please you. You are my strong Rock and you are my Redeemer. Psalms 19:7-14 EASY
Soaking wet, the 4 boys crawled up onto the shore of Zoo Island.John was preoccupied with trying to salvage their supplies from the raft. He heard the other boys but was oblivious to whatever was rustling around in the bushes. The other 3 stood there with their mouths wide open and eyes as big as flying saucers.Ron shuttered softly,”I think there is some…”David spun his head around quickly toward Ron. No words were needed. Ron shut up. The bushes and a few small trees were forced down. Whatever it was, it was large enough to clear its own path.It was then that 3 boys got just a glimpse as the moon light was glistening off the top part of the creature creeping toward then.Jeremy was gradually freaking out, his body filled with adrenaline. His fight or flight instinct had no fight left in it. He yelled,”RUN!!!!!”,as he bolted down the beach with Ron close behind.In, ‘the gospel according to Dave’, running away was a sign of stupidity, moral softness, and over all weakness. With his head fully elevated, chin still up, eyes fixed on the threat, one arm slowly reaching down and grabbing one of the ore from their raft, he shouted as loud as he could toward the mysterious creature,”COME ON!!! BRING IT!!! BRING…IT…OOOON!”He stood armed and strong while the monster responded with a quick attack, barreling toward him with all its fearsome might.John finally looked up from his task only to see the large head of a Komodo Dragon coming in his direction. When offered with the split second choice of fight or flight Johnny’s whole system instinctively decided to flee up the shore line, not realizing he was heading in the opposite direction in which Ron and Jeremy fled.David was left there, the only one ready to combat this threatening monstrosity, regardless of which direction his team mates flew; but the land dragon decided to run after Johnny. Unlike the case with David and Goliath this foe forfeited by turning away from what David was about to throw down. It fell into a full on chase after Johnny. Once it turned David noticed that only the head was a Komodo Dragon its body was that of…something else.
Stay tuned for link to the full online published story.Illustrations by Olivia Bailey. Editing by Kyri ArriagaFor the story leading up to and featuring the same main characters go to:
1st a few Editorial notes, even though we spoke about most of this: sometimes I have too many words so there is a lag while typing with my phone. If you have trouble with a lag, cut some paragraphs and paste them someplace where you can retrieve them. I had to keep this 1st part as just the Preface then make Chapter 1 where I set up the part about the news paper and then the boys planning their adventure. Ch. 2 is when the boys exploring actually begins.
Below and within the content you’ll see this icon/emoji 📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝 that indicates more editorial notes for you.
Each story stands on their own but ya may find it fun to go back to where it all begun, in The Park.
This story is going to take you to THE ZOO, A remote abandoned Island where four coming of age boys uncover many things they wish they would have left well alone.
📝📝📝 editorial note, regarding what is just above this. I need a better tag or trailer giving the reader just a taste of this story, The Zoo BoyZ. Also just below this I want to make sure the following is in the preface.📝📝📝📝end of edit note.
Once again, I want to give a very special thank you to my children. My own kids keep me young in heart and mind. I owe a lot of credit to them for just simply being themselves. I truly treasure and appreciate you Abbey, Madi, Olivia, Kyri, and Alexx (although he is now no longer with us he continues to be a great source of inspiration anyway). Family is forever and I don’t take my own sisters (Collene & Pauline) for granted. No doubt some of the experiences we had as siblings growing up have found their way into what I write. I also want to thank my dad (Ed) and mom (Faye), who always offer some much-needed encouragement, discipline and real life editing.
Thank you, as well, to my wife (Rhonda), who always helps me in so many ways. Often I am dragging her along with me as I write. She’s already been to “The Park” and now, with this sequel, she’s right here with me and The Zoo BoyZ.
For this story my oldest daughter, Kyri Arriaga (soon to be 28), helped with editing and getting it out there to be published. My 2nd oldest daughter, Olivia (soon to be 17), did the illustrations.
Disclaimer: This story or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise – without prior written permission of the publisher.
This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or businesses in practice, are purely coincidental. The views expressed here are my own, as are whatever factual errors exist in the text.
Now it is time.
Time to follow The Zoo BoyZ onto Zoo Island.
📝📝📝📝📝📝insert link to chapter 1 here.
Other important editorial notes: As I mentioned above I would like to have the whole story in one spot (all chapters included so reader doesn’t have to follow links) however for WordPress I find it necessary to write a blog post for each chapter because of the length. In addition to the one long post of entire story (all chapters in one post) I want to keep the individual post featuring just one chapter per. post with links to previous ch. and link to next ch.
Thank you again for your much needed help.
Who would have thought that a dad with physical, mental, and educational disability handicaps would be able to write stories and have his daughter help?
Thank you, Kyri!
📝📝📝📝📝📝📝here are key notes for the story:
Main 4 boys David Spencer, Ronnie Moore and Jeremy Mcroy (more info. below)
Karen McRoy college age doing internship at north port post newspaper. Revealed to be Jeremy’s sister. Selected to write about Zoo Island in a positive light.
Glenn same age & intern at newspaper selected to write about missing boys.
Bob Stern 60year old who has 25 yrs at newspaper boss of Linda and Glenn. knows how to write political safe stuff and how to use paper to influence the gen. public one way or the other.
“Wilks” 64yr old man-Chief Editor of North Port Post newspaper.
John Hanson -69 yr. Old man. CEO of The Forever Happy Amusement Inc. (Science professor who created The Park and responsible for Zoo Island).
Ron 11 youngest and in middle school. Babied by others but a good writer for his age. Writes comics featuring boys adventures.
Jeremy McRoy 12 kid in middle school. Sister is Karen (to be revealed in 1st chapter) He often feels caught in middle. His fam. has some money and he owns raft. Note Jeremy is a proud Canadian.
Dave 13 oldest, jock, well built, sometimes a bully. Rough fam. environment. Very street wise but not much scholastic ability. Going into high school after this summer.
John Minor 14 High school student going onto 10th grade after this summer. Very book smart but shy and often feels like he doesn’t fit in. Nerdy and a good artist. Draws comics for the other boys.
Time frame, over the couse of a weeked:
boys on fake camp out make trip to Island THAT Friday night, Eventually they sleep a few hours on Island.
Next day (Saturday) first full day on Islands. No one noticed them missing yet. They think boys are just out playing at campground.
2nd night (now Saturday night) boys sleep over on Island.
2nd full day (Sunday) search is on and the boy are eventually air lifted off island.
As it is right now I started the story on that Sunday (2nd full day of boys on the island) but writing about what was taking place at the newspaper office. At the end I go back to that Sunday. Then when I jump to writing about the boys we are at the start of their trip (Friday night). I hope you can make sense of it all.
Grammatical and creative editing by Kyri Christian Bailey Arriaga
Paper, Plans, Purpose
📝📝📝📝Editorial notes: I want all chapter numbers and titles to be centered and the print larger than the rest of the text. Example above. You’ll notice my app wouldn’t let me do it everytime. When I put all ch. Together in google doc. For u word count was over 69,000 that will change after edit anyway.
📝📝📝📝📝📝📝again, as stated in preface this icon📝 indicates editorial notes. Most recent rewrite and editing below📝📝📝📝📝📝end of edit note.
Karen McRoy was doing a summer internship as a ‘writer’ for The North Port Post, a small town newspaper that was constantly scrambling for stories worth reading in a town where nothing very interesting at all was the only thing really happening, not to mention, printed news ‘papers’ were becoming more obsolete each day. Unlike most towns this town still relied on the info. printed in their town’s newspaper. Over the years it was considered to be the only source of true news. They believed what was written in their paper before entertaining other sources of news and information.
Karen told her parents, “Some day people will read again and I want them to not just read but, read what I write!”
Her parents didn’t have much faith in her becoming some great writer. They didn’t want her to get her hopes too high in fear that she would be let down harder than she could handle. On the other hand being an intern at a news paper company would probably lead to a job or at least give her experience needed to get a real job. Her first month there she worked out of the newspaper’s mail room, emptied trash cans, and conquered the real needs of any good newspaper company, going out to get the real writers breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner.
She admired all the writers, especially ones who worked from their homes. If she were honest with herself and others she would openly admit that her admiration was based on those people doing what she desired to do but also because the writers sending in their work didn’t scold her for getting their meal orders wrong.
The first real light at the end of this corporate tunnel was when she was finally asked to write about
Zoo Island, an abandoned zoo left haphazardly.
She went down to the records room, pulled four file boxes off one of the shelves, dusted them off, and read what was written on the front, making sure she had the ones marked, “Zoo Island!” One was marked, “ZoO IZland LiVe”. It was written exactly like that, misspelled, weird letters, it drove the young, always grammatically correct, author, and striving journalist absolutely nuts. She vaguely remembered a t.v. show her brother watched on Saturday Mornings. She paid no attention to it, she was too mature for such frivolous things. As she pictured the t.v. show title and logo flashing through her own mind she realized this spelling was the same as it was for the show. She aired her complaint to the dust bunnies,
“Stupid thing still bothers me to this day. Why? Why misspell it? Did they think that was clever? It’s just, uck!! Sooo… Stupid.”
She realized she was talking to herself out loud. She heard her brother’s voice in her head, mocking her,
She smiled to herself.
As she opened one box she noticed, written across the top, “Classified Before Verified”.Hmmmmm she thought,
Hello. How far can a newspaper stretch the truth just to get a REALLY good story?!
She pulled one of the files from that box, set it in front of her and slowly opened it with caution. She felt like she was doing something wrong and getting away with it. Stamped across the first page in big bold red lettering she read,
Just then the door at the top of the stairs leading down to the records room creeEEKed as it opened.
“UT umm AT AHUM! BAAAAGCK. HACK hAckt…somba gotta oil that daHor…. Mmhmm door. Karen? Karen!”
She was some what relieve to hear the voice of Bob Stern, the one who handed her the assignment. She took a breath and exhaled her words,
“Yeah, yeah sure thing Mr. Stern. Here! I’m here”
“What did ya HACK find?!”,
He barked, then cleared his throat again. She closed the current file she was about to read as she spoke nervously,
“Ah nu nothing yet really I mean I’m…I am ah…Yeah, I’m just ssstarting. Soooo, but yeah, no I…”
“Rela…hagh hack Rehackx, relax. Ut hum, relaax” , He finally got his words out.
Her mind was racing. It obsessively filled with fear ofdoing something wrong on her first real chance to write something really captivating. Then it jumped to,I hope I don’t catch what ever he is hacking out.
He gained his composure after struggling down the stairs and inhaling the lower level debris surrounding the old records. Lowering his voice he spoke a little more personal, gentler,
“Yeah, just relax. Have fun with it! You have access, high level security clearance, as I like to call it. Read over what ‘ahack, excuse me, has already gone to print and just re-write the same shit, ooops sorry for my language, re-write the same SHtuff, just a little different. I mean, ya don’t wanna plagiarize anything while ‘hack’, at the same time just regurgitate what’s already been written, read and, well frankly, crapped out the other end.”
He tried to remind himself he was talking to just a kid. Sure, she was moving into adulthood but she’s still just a young kid. Because of the way he just worded things his conscience bothered him. He tried to filter his language,
“Ah…I’m sorry. Ya must thing I’m an old school ba’HACK’stard or a grumpy old, over weight… cusss ah hahhaKha ha..”
He couldn’t hold back a hacking cough mixed with his laughter. Then repeated,
“Re-write without full on plagiarism”
“No, no of course not I’d never…”
“I know, I know. Like I said just relax.”
He found her innocence cute. He remembered when he was hired here 25 years ago. It was such a sentimental journey. That thought led to him going on and on about when he was her age and what his first story was. He continued rambling on down the road of nostalgia for what seemed to be much longer than what was necessary. Karen wondered what she should commit to memory, take to heart, or if she really needed to listen at all to anything he was presently saying.
Karen kept her focus and tried to at least act as if Bob was interesting enough to hold her attention. While he related some reminiscent tale of his virgin experience she moved the boxes around and took a few of the other lids off. More dust filled the air as she began to develop in her head what she wanted to write, how she could give a good spin to articles others wrote before her.
She heard Bob finally begin to relate to the task at hand. He pointed to the boxes as he said,
“These newspaper articles are mostly true fa ‘Hack’, s’cuse me, facts…”
She flipped the lid from the ‘Specially marked box’ and slid it to the furthest side of the 8 foot table. Then taking that box, she purposely placed it on top of the classified folder she had just open and shut when Bob came down. Bob hacked a little more then looked at his watch,
“Ooops. LUNCH TIME!”
She instinctively reached for the note pad in her back pocket, ready to take his lunch order and go upstairs to get everybody elses.
“Yeah ok. I guess I can get started after I get ev”
Bob held up his hand and busted out a loud strong sneeze,
His body was fighting to keep the allergens away. It caused the dirt in the air to swirl into an unseen dust devil. Then he spoke while bits of spittle still glissened on his lips,
“NONSENSE KAREN! You stay here. Let the other intern…ah good old ….what’s his face…”
“Yeah, let GLENN do that. You stay and get material to write the best damn ‘ahack article YOU can write. Again, sorry for my language and the sneeze.”
He turned to walk away and ascend the old stairs. Karen smiled. Midway up he said,
“Oh, but Karen, remember what you write reflects me. If you write crap that makes me look like crap. I’m not crap ‘hack, Karen.”
“No, nono I know.”
She was still so nervous.
“Relax kid. You’re not crap either so don’t write crap. Wilks (the chief editor) will talk my ear off and say I should’ve never let you do an article. My 25 years here may keep my job secure but it won’t save you.”
She nodded. As he approached the door he heard Karen shout,
“Thank you Mr. Sten. I won’t let you down Mr. Stern.”
Although his back was turned he gave an approving smile Karen didn’t see. He yelled back,
“I hope you don’t aaand I’ll send what’s his name down here to get your lunch order.”
“No it’s okay I don’t have any money for…”
The door squeaked open then slammed shut.
Karen quickly moved the box that was on top of the mystery file. She opened it once again. She was only three paragraphs deep when her head was filled with fear, not just afraid she would get caught, but because of the horrors she was reading. The door flung back open so fast it didn’t even have time to squeak. It knocked over a few boxes flinging them against a wall. It was Glenn. Mr. Stern came in behind him dragging bottom, carrying in his hand the note Glenn threw on to his desk before taking off to the records room. Karen jumped and closed the file. Her thoughts shifted into high gear again, I’ll never get this done. That was aweful fast. My word! What is his problem! Glenn came racing down to her. He leap, skipping over the last six steps. Before he could speak or catch his breath Karen said,
“I have no money Glennnn.”
She looked away and mindlessly moved the boxes around.
“I’m not here to borrow money!!!”
“No I thought you were…”
Stern walked in still reading the note. He then explained for Glenn,
“Wilks…oh sorry…Chief Editor Mr. Wilkinson told everyone, apparently I missed the ‘aHaCk memo…”
He cleared his throat to do his mock impression of the editor as he read it, adding his own adlib,
“Ah, people, people listen up! Get lunch on your own people. We’re… peeeerting the inteeernnns to weeerk, real werk. Aha whowho… WE Are ah, throwing them to the sharks ahaha!”
Karen gave off a huge smile until her eyes met Glenn’s eyes. Glenn couldn’t contain himself. His words spewed out,
“Wait, wait, let me tell her!!!”
Bob gave permission but with a warning,
“Just don’t do it moHACKcking Wilk’s voice. That is disrespectful.”
“But… You jus’!”
“I know what I did but I earned the right to aHACK do him! I been here longer than you are ‘ACHEW old. S’cues me.”
“Okay, so, I can tell her?”
“Go ahead champ!”
“OKAY! Thank you Mr. Stern! Thank you, oh my gosh this is so good!!!”
“This is so good. These 3 or 4 boys are missing! I mean that part is not good but the good part is WE get to write about it!”
Bob hacked out his words,
“Rehackx, Relax. Relax. Calm down there boss. You, ha kack, excuse me. You get to enquire, research, and gather informa ahacktion then bring it to me and I’ll cahack coach you, edit, and first AND FOREMOST cha HACK, check your FhAcK your fAacts. Ut hum. S’cuse me! My God.”
“Yeah but I mean we get to write about it and put our names down saying we wrote it right? I mean like, that’s what the note from Wilks says!”
Stern read it verbatim, almost, “From the desk of chief editor Mr. Brad Wilkinson, Lunch on your own. Blah blHACKah blah blah inters gather necessary, hah! I think that is misspelled…blah blah blah 3 possibly 4 young boys missing…blah blah Zoo Island. Blah blah some say eye sore on our fine community. Blah blah…spin positive viiibes and ah blah de blah blah.”
Karen’s heart began to churn with concern for the lost boys. She thought specifically of her own brother. She felt a pit form in her stomach climbing up to her throat. Glenn was moved also but mostly by ego. His only thoughts were of how much fame he could start to acquire. He knew it was a small town paper but still, everyone one in this town read it. He could and would gain bragging rites over his former high school buddied for being a writer who made it to print.
As Bob read on Glenn wanted to interrupt so bad but didn’t want to get kicked off the project before he was even given a chance. Bod tossed the memo from his boss on the table. Karen looked down to make sure he couldn’t see the classified file folder.
“Look, kids. This may just be an article about kids being kids, boys being boys. We don’t write until we know if they are truly missing. Many times they show up and if we reported they were missing we end up looking…ahack stupid. Excuse me. We don’t want to misinform the public who are, more often than not, already misinformed. Also, AHACK, S’cues me. When it comes to anything in this town some how it ALWAYS goes back to something about that blessed Zoo Island. Anything bad ‘hack’ happens then, oh hell, blame John Hanson and the crazy nutty professors and producers of the AHACK island. So, what I want ya to do first is familiarize yourselves with the fffHackKs about zoo island so if anything starts heading toward that…ut ah humm, excuse me, place as a scapegoat you can nip it in the, ackhack, bud. Ya gotta know the facts first so you can shoot down the rahum the rumors. S’cuse me. My God have either of you ever read our paper before workin’ here?”
While he waited for an answer he cleared the gravel out of his throat.
“Yes sir! Everyday.”
“Ah, a li’l I guess I mean. Kiiiiinda?”,
Karen tried to credit herself.
Stern smiled, “It’s ok if you didn’t, but I can guarantee your parents do.”
Karen replied again,
“No I like totally did …read…some I mean I ah…?”
She felt the need to fight for her position. She protested,
“How would that make Glenn better for a job here after our internship than me?”
“Rehackx. Relax Karen. It doesn’t. This isn’t a test. It’s not a competition.”
Glenn was nodding his head no but his thoughts were yelling YES! Bob used this as a teachable moment,
“You both wrote good short essays to get this internship. You both hAacK have good brains. Excuse me. You are both going to use this lunch breaHACk to read up on facts about Zoo Island while I order pizza delivery for the 3 haaack of us. S’cuse me.”
Other than the nagging cough and clearing of his throat, Bob’s voice was comforting and the thought of free pizza for lunch put them all at ease. He laid out for them an agenda:
After the pizza I’ll get what details we have so far
on the missing, ah, on the assumed or allegedly missing boys.
HaAck excuse mmmhmm ut humm
Then we’ll rule out that, HACK, they went to Zoo Island and
first thing tomorrow, no tonight cause paper starts printing late. Much later tonight in time for the 5am deliveries, you’ll both write your own art aHACK icle, EXCUSEMMME!
submit them to ME,
I’ll edit and
He turned and headed toward the stairs.
The best one will go to print.”
Before he reached the stairs that led up and out of the dimly lit, dirty bottom level, he said,
“Oh, and Karen, don’t even think of reading the folder marked, ‘Classified or Clarify…aHACK Verify before?…oh wwHACK what ever the hell it says. Sorry for my language ack s’cuse me. Ya got security clearance but not that much clearance”
She reached for her press pass hung around her neck and clutched in in her hand. Glenn noticed her actions and mimicked her, holding his own laminated I.D..
As Stern slowly climbed the stairs she shouted,
“NO…I I’M NOT. I DIDN’T!”
They could still hear Bob hacking as he reached the top. With his back turned he smiled then yelled,
“Have fun! Behave! Get it done! We got a paper to run!”
“Ya think he has a bug or ah like maaaybe um throat cancer? That hack is gross.”
Karen rolled her eyes.
“Glenn, you are gross, and ya talk too much.”
“That makes for a good writer. My mom says if ya talk a lot you can write a lot.”
She rolled hers eyes at him again.
“What? Karen, tell me you don’t think that’s a fact.”
Karen didn’t want to waste her words entertaining Glenn but felt the need to raise her voice,
“Writing, GLENN, is not about how many words you can string along into sentences, paragraphs and pages! It is how you use those words that count. Ask, ‘Do they get across ah?’ Ah ….Oh, I don’t know!”
She hated to admit. Glenn egged her on,
“No, what? What were you gonna say. Better yet what do you want to say? Hmmm?”
“Do they tell a story, a believable story and how much truth is there in what the author is conveying?”
Glenn thought for a moment then said softly,
“Hmmm, that is gooood. Yeah, no I mean that is good really really good but you do realize that this is more competition than composition?”
“Good composition will win this composition, I mean competition.”
“Oh yeah. I know. That’s why I’ll win. I mean it’s just writing down the facts and a few other details people find interesting.”
He grabbed the box in front of her and quickly slid it toward him knocking the folder out from under it. Pages scattered through the air. He saw the marked folder and proclaimed,
“A Hah! I knew you were hidin’ somethin’.”
“Not hiding just…unsure if I wanted to show anyone else.”
They both bent down to pick up the pages. She asked,
“What about the boys?”
She tsked. He replied,
“Oh, the boys, yeah yeah the lost boys. huh kinda like Peter Pan. Ya know? Lost boys? Neverland? Captain Hook?!”
“YES, I know Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. GLEEN!”
“I thought Walt Disney wrote it. Well, anyway, yeah, so ah they say there are threeeee? Or ah maaaybe four? 3 of the parents contacted the police. The report is up stairs.”
“Did it give names?”
“Nnnoo, no, actually I don’t really remember much after I read the memo about inters givin’ the chance to write for the paper. I thought I had this in the bag. Ya know, honestly Karen, I’m not sure why they are even involving you.”
Karen stood to her feet letting Glenn pick up the rest on his own. She gave him an order,
“Don’t forget to get the paper clips too and a few pages are way over there in that puddle left from where something was spilled.”
She thought, it is probably spit from Stern’s hacking. She laughed inside her own thoughts. As Glenn pick up the page that was stamped in red letters he shamed her out loud,
“Oooh, ho, ho, huyou dirty, dirty little girl. You scum bucket. You were reading what Stern said not to.”
“I didn’t know. Please don’t tell him. Besides I didn’t even get a chance to read…I mean, I have clearance to…”
“Hey, your secret is safe with me.”
Karen tried to change the subject but she was also worried about her brother,
“Glen, I have a brother.”
“Yeah, I know! So? I’ve got a sister!”
“No! I mean my brother. He could be one of those boys”
Her looks almost killed him.
“Ooohhh yeah yeah yeah the boys. You think Maaaybe one of the boooys no no I don’t think so. Besides I don’t think the cops released the names of the boys.”
“What about their ages?”
“No uh no I don’t think so.”
“I hope Stern brings down the report with him.”
“I hope he brings down the pizza and soon I am stHARving haha!”
“This is serious.”
“Look.” he said, ” first step we need to do is look at Zoo Island info, the approved non classified unverified shit and get the facts. Then, like stern said, be ready to rule out the island as the problem we all know it is. We’ll write the info. that the Cops and Bob and Wilks will allow without breaking whatcha call it?”
Karen plug in the word he was looking for,”Confidentiality.”
“Yes, yes I was just searching for duh best word to use. Aduh, Karen.”
“Hah!!! Sorry did i just laugh out loud??”
“Yeah, but seriously Karen, you grew up around here too. You know every single time kids go missing they blame Zoo Island.”
“Yeah, why is that Glenn?”
“Cause it’s cool to sneak in to places.”
Karen cried out, “Ugh, Boys!”
“But it is! Especially places where you’re not suppose to go.”
“You do realize that is like, the definition of tresspassing, sneaking into places you’re not suppose to sneak in to? But Zoo Island has all those signs and fences.”
“How do you know, Karen? You sneak over there Kaaaaaren?”
“NO! I read it! I read about it!!!”
“Suuuure. You read classified stuff you AIN’T POST TA BE REEEADIN’!”
Before Karen went too far on the defense Glen said,
“You sound like Bob.”
The mood began to lighten as Glenn laughed and did his best impression of Mr. Stern,
” RehHAackx re hack hack haaaacks ka ha hacken, excuse me, hackKaren.”
She began to laugh as the the door at the top of stairs began to open.
“You doin? Me?!”,
Bob Sterns asked Glenn while slowly making his way down the stairs.
Karen hid her laugh. She occupied herself by gathering and straightening the papers around her.
Karen mouthed the word, “Again?!”
“Yes a hagack again. Excuse me. This basement dust makes me cough.”
Glenn may have been pushing things too far by asking,
“So, why do you ‘hack’, I mean cough, upstairs too? That’s a whole next level up.”
Bob began to say,
“Shut ah hah hack…”
He gathered himself then said,
He reached their work space table, flopped the pizza down, and opened the box. Karen began to open up the conversation,
“So Zoo Island…”
Bob shoved the pizza box toward her with one hand as he pushed a piece of the pie into his gapping mouth with his other hand. He took a bite bigger than she though was humanly possible then spoke around the grub in his full mouth,
“Pieceapizza first. Puzzle pieces and facts second.”
She selected one of the smaller unevenly sliced triangles slivers of grease. Glenn got his helping last. They ate in silence. The dead air was deafening.
Stern looked at his watch, wiped his mouth, took a swig of his soda, then tried to keep a burp in. It was filtered poorly around his partial sealed lips. Karen was completely grossed out. Bob pulled a dollar out of his pocket,
“Glen go get me another diet coke from the machine.”
Glenn rose, took the bill and headed up stairs. Once they heard to door close behind him Bob spoke softly to Karen,
“I know Glenn has read things he wasn’t suppose to about Zoo Island from these files.”
“No we…I, we never actually got to reading.”
Bob eased back in his chair, made room between the table and his belly as he spoke,
He took a breath,
“I don’t mean just now, today. He got caught reading them when you two first came here. He don’t know that I know but it doesn’t matter. None of that maters.”
Another belch fully escaped as his next statement was delivered,
“No it doesn’t matter what you hear, heard, what you read, or what you know or think you know. What matters is what we print. We can only, leeegally, print certain things. Few years ago ah, a few young ego filled nut job writers thought they were God’s gift. They wrote propaganda stuff and things siding with animal rights peeps. Their only purpose or goal waaas to shut down John Hanson’s business on Zoo Island.”
Karen had so many questions but sat silently while Bob spoke softly. She noticed his coughing was replaced with burping. She wasn’t sure which was worse. He finished in just a whisper,
“Before Glenn comes back I want you to know I think he is reckless and sloppy, just wants to write so he can brag. I think you’ll write the facts and keep our paper out of trouble. Free of being sued and portrayed as helpful heros, keeping people informed without stoopin’ to the low level standards of cheap tabloid mag.s on sale at a super market check out line.”
The door squeaked open. “Got it!” Glenn reported as he hopped down the stairway.
“Ok! Good Glenn. Thanks.”
Bob winked at Karen, took the soda from Glenn but he didn’t open it. He winked at Karen again. She hid a smile. Then he addressed both of them,
“Here are the facts. Regardless of whatcha got to while I was getting pizza delivery.”
Glenn made eye contact with Karen, wishing he could communicate telepathically. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to say but he didn’t think it was a good idea to admit they hadn’t even read one word. Worse yet he realized the private file was sitting there out of it box with pages misplaced. He had just shoved them in there thinking he could’ve done a better job concealing what they had handled. Karen was just glad Bob wasn’t hacking as much. He seemed to dtill be speaking softer and perhaps that kept the strain away from his throat. They both tried to focus and listen to Stern,
Glenn inserted his own name, “Glenn.”
“Yeah. Want ya ta focus on two things. While upstairs I had a sit down talk with Wilks. Your both gonna write. I’ll edit both of your articles and if good enough we’ll print both.”
“Two articles on the same subject?”
Bob cleared his throat as he opened the can of diet cola. The room was silent. The air was still and stagnant. They were just waiting. He took a slow drink followed by dabbing his mouth with his shirt sleeve. Karen handed him a napkin. He thanked her and placed it on the table as a coaster to put his can on. Then he finally gave the info. they longed to hear.
“No. You both write, let me clarify. If it’s not good enough I’ll tell you what to do ta make it good enough. One write an article on Zoo Island. The other write about missing, alleged missing, children. ”
A thousand horses could not keep Karen’s words back,
“Mr. Stern, my brother.”
Stern held his hand up to ease, if not stop her.
“I know you have a brother.”
Karen nodded. “I need to know.”
He rose his gentle hand again,
“The early report gave no names.”
“Schools they attend?”
“No, but we only have three schools.”
Karen was just scrambling.
“We’ll get the info, at least ages, if not names but, because there are so many laws of…”
Glenn added the word, “Confidenciality.”
“Bup’ I think this cola’s helpin’ to keep my hackin’ away.”
He pulled out another dollar, handed it to Glenn.
“Get me another will you please, Glenn?”
Glenn, more reluctant this time, rose to his feet, took the bill, and started toward the door. Bob said,
“I was gonna say because so many laws protecting the public’s privacy, no names or ages given.”
Glenn shouted, “SAME THING! I mean, Same thing BOSS.”
He galloped up the stairs as loud and as fast as he could, skipping a few here and there.
“What a knob. He’s gonna hurry back I’m sure. I may not recall his name but I got his number memorized. Karen, I jus’ wanna say even now without knowing who the boys are, because you have a brother I think, well, I think you’d be too close and get to wrapped up in the story. Trust me I jus’ think it’s best you write about Zoo Island and let…dweeb boy.”
“Yeah, gonna have the boy write about the boys. Karen, you have too much heart kid….ah that came out wrong maybe but… but, too much heart, ‘Sa good thing. I bet it spills into your writing.”
Karen nodded. She knew it did. She spoke soft too,
“Looks like ya got my number too boss.”
“Aaaagh, I’m a pretty good judge of character.”
“Ya got our number.”
He nodded. Then to break tension he asked,
“It’s not 666 is it!?”
They both laughed as Glenn returned asking,
“Ya laughin’ at me? Some kinda private joke? I came back soft & slow to see if ya talkin’ bout me.”
“You’re not interesting enough to talk about Glenn.”
Glenn came back with,
“Well I bet I could spin a story that you were tryin’ to touch karen inappropriat….ely.”
As Glenn’s open mouth let out that final word he immediately regretted it. He quickly apologized,
“TOO FAR! Oh BOY! I don’t mean. I would NEVER…I ah…I am not a black male I mean a black mailer.”
Stern said very calmly, “Time to shut up.”
Karen gladly joined the campaign,
“Shut up Glenn.”
Even Glenn nodded in agreement.
“Glenn, Karen’s gonna write an article or several articles on Zoo Island. You, Glenn, will report on da boys and the two articles will appear to not meet or be joined in any way, form, or fashion.”
Glenn was afraid to speak but didn’t listen to his own brain. He spoke up,
“So, why am I here in the records room?”
Karen offered a reason,
“So the two stories don’t appear to be connected but are worded politically correct enough to do just that…connect.”
She was right but Glenn still didn’t get it. His face showed that he had no clue. Bob nodded toward Karen and made her feel even better by hearing him say,
“She is right.”
They both leaned forward as Bob took their new education further,
“In the newspaper biz some times we put out two articles that appear to be two different subjects but we purposefully write one to shed good, or bad, light on the other subject. It’s called slanted favoritism. So, Karen ‘sgonna go thru these files on the Island and your gonna interview police, parents, friends of the boys, their families pets and gather all that info. to report, not write, report on that.”
Glenn asked “Report? Write? What’s the diff?”
Bob just said,
“I’ll explain it to you later. Karen will write about all the precautions set up on and around Zoo Island, what makes it safe, what makes it damn near unable to be penetrate by the public, let alone by 3, or four, juveniles. Our goal, our purpose is to reduce public fear, ease public panic. Got it? Get it? Good! Get it done we gotta paper to run.”
Bob stood and motioned for Glenn to follow him back upstairs. They left Karen there alone. She took her focus off the fear of what she didn’t know about the boys and poured herself into the files, including the one she knew she wasn’t supposed to read. That only caused her fear to come back four fold. She pulled out her phone and called her mom,
“Mom? Ah, have you heard from Jeremy?”
“Yeah but ah…”
“But what mom?!”
“Calm down I was jus’ gonna say Ronnie’s mom and Dave’s mom called and some other boy named Jon?…his mom called asking if they were with jeremy.”
“Mom, where is he?”
“He’s at that small camp ground near, ah, that new boy house, pretty sure that boy’s name is… Jon or Jim? Yeah, near his house, I think. None of them have a cell phone but I’m sure he is out havin’ fun.”
“Mom did you go to the police?”
“No, NO! Ha, don’t be silly. Why would i go to the po…”
“MOM! We got a news alert. Something that may lead to a news release article.”
“That’s good honey. Are you learning how to write about things like that?”
“No, I mean yes but no! MOM, listen to me. They said that 3 or …or 4 boys are missing.”
The phone line went dead.
“Mom? Mom? Are you there? Mom?! MOM!”
Karen’s Mom responded,
“I feel dizzy Karen.”
“Ok mom, sit down. I’m coming home. Jus’sit down mom.”
Karen was horrified by the thud she heard on the other end of line. She bolted up the stairs yelling,
“I gotta go home! I gotta go home! My mom, uh, I gotta get home!!”
She stormed out and into her car. While driving, articles Karen read took flight inside her already over crowded mind. She saw in front of her eyes some of the same words she read. She saw the name John Hanson. The diversion nearly caused her to run a red light. Her car lunged to a halt. In tight stillness she sat staring at the light ready to gun it when it turned green. She prayed to the light,
“Turn, turn, turn greeeeen.”
She saw a mocked head line that never made it to print,
“Genes of a cat mixed with dolphin. CatFish too much, too far.”
The car behind her honked, snapping her out of the trance. She wondered how long the light remained green.
She yelled as if any one else could hear. Other words she had see in her minds eye but heard in her own voice, reading those words out loud: Liability. Exposure. Killings. Severe injury. Employees complain. Employee lost arm.
She now understood why Bob said, “Don’t go by what wasn’t verified.” She said out loud to herself,
“But, those could all be lies. Made up to make the zoo look bad.”
She wondered, how am i gonna write positive? She coached herself,
“Just the known documented fact karen.”
She heard her mom’s voice in her head calling her ‘care bear.’ She drove on through the route to her house with her vision blurred by tears.
📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝📝note to editor
ok below this is just as it was before. All written above this is what i added.
If you can neatly cut and paste any stuff from below that belongs up there into what is above that would be great.
If you need more from me to make it more seamless let me know.
As far as timeframe above potion happens just before boys are considered official missing for sure.
Below i mapped out how the boys had their plan and lies to parents mapped out pretty good and parents had no fear cause boys said they were over night camping but when they don’t return after that or over the next few days the parents call each other and eventually they call the police. Special note, Jeremy’s mom didn’t hear or think anything was wrong with Jeremy. she didn’t suspector expect anything to go wrong.
If you feel like we need something to make below fit in better with the above we can have Karen (intern girl from newspaper) tell her mom she’s worried about her bro Jeremy because what she read about zoo. We can plug in rumors, folk tales, myths there. Then Mom reassures and convinces daughter that zoo island took precaution, evacuated all animals, and even made getting onto the island impossible, inconceivable! 😃Karen realizes why Mr. Stern is havin her write about zoo island in a positive light. She knew she could give a positive spin on zoo island she had to and she knew it would make her feel better, bring comfort to her mind, soul, heart in regard to her bro missing.
ALSO, here are some notes for you, not to be included directly like this in final publication, just helpful notes for us.
Time frame over the couse of a weekend: boys on fake camp out make trip to Island THAT Friday night, Eventually they sleep a few hours on Island.
Next day (Saturday) still on Islands. No one noticed them missing yet. They think boys are just out playing at campground.
2nd night (now Saturday night) boys are on Island.
2nd full day (Sunday) search is on and the boy are eventually air lifted off island.
AGES and character description: David Spencer, Ronnie Moor, Jeremy Mcroy & Johnnie Minor
Ron 11yr. old, youngest and in middle school. Babied by others but a good writer for his age. Writes comics featuring boys adventures.
Jeremy 12 kid in middle school. Sister is Karen (to be revealed in 1st chapter) He often feels caught in middle. His fam. has some money and he owns raft. He has a crush on John’s sister who is also named Karen.
Dave 13, jock, well built, sometimes a bully. Rough fam. environment. Very street wise but not much scholastic ability. Going into high school after this summer.
John 14, the oldest, High school student going onto 10th grade after this summer. Very book smart but shy and often feels like he doesn’t fit in. Nerdy and a good artist. Draws comics for the other boys.
Ok now for the stuff below this. I need help fitting it in with above some how. Perhaps it is okay, as is, but I trust your skill & judgment.
Perhaps the following should just be Ch. 2 idk
-end of editorial note.
All Ron, Jeremy, and David had on their minds was Zoo Island. The boys ranged in age from 11 to 13 years old. Although, David would argue that he was almost 14, and it was so close to his birthday you might as well consider him to be a young adult. David was also moving on into high school and would be leaving behind his two closest friends. The three of them fully realized that this trip may very well be their last big adventure together. These were the same three boys who snuck into “The Forever Happy Amusement Park,” though they left no evidence behind and no charges were ever pressed. This time, they invited a fourth kid, Johnny Minor. John was 14, already in high school, but still pretty immature. John was bullied, teased, taunted, and pressured to trespass with the other three last time, but he was too afraid. This time, he didn’t back down. He figured that the boys got away with it before, so this time they’d be able to do it again. He told himself, As long as I am with them, everything should be fine.
The 4 boys arrived to Zoo Island on a small blow-up river raft that Jeremy’s mom got him last Christmas. Jeremy had to break a few rules laid out when he got the raft, but he planned on the truth never being told. The trip was supposed to just last Friday night, one full Saturday, and if it was going well they would camp a second night, returning home some time Sunday. It turned into two nights and two days because the raft got a hole in it and sunk upon their arrival. The top secret trip wasn’t a secret at all to the other kids their age but no adults were made aware. David, had pretty defined muscles for a boy his age. So, his threats that he’d, “Beat the crap out of anyone who told on them!”, was enough to keep most kids’ mouths shut. When you’re an elementary or middle school age kid, that kind of threat is all you need to keep your lips sealed.
It was reported that they were last seen in a small raft just off shore of a small camp ground. The worried parents and the volunteer search parties were starting to assume the boys must have drowned. No one knew how the boys could still be alive; but they were alive, very much alive. In regard to where the boys were, unknown to anyone, there were other creatures that were, left behind, born, survived and now thriving in this, once fully functional, zoo. It was here where, at one point, spectators observed various species behind thick glass walls and iron bar cages.The zoo itself didn’t generate enough money to stay open so the owners and the staff expressed their frustration by leaving a lot of things behind. They removed what animals they could but they were unable to capture some of the exotic birds and a few stray creatures that were masters at disguise. They were also completely unaware of some of the hidden nests of creatures that were a new breed of animals formed by injecting strange DNA from one species into another. Before the zoo was abandoned all the cages and cells were left open, giving anything left behind free roam on the island.
Ron, Jeremy, David, and John secretly planned this trip for months before their summer break, just as they did with their trip to The Park. They did some research and found rare maps of the island. They not only read about its history but embellished the truth as they told other kids how much danger they would be in and the risks they were taking. They puffed up with pride on how brave they were. This pride made them feel so alive and special, unaware that many times lies will lift you up just to violently throw you back down into reality. Rumors of Zoo Island were part of their towns fiber. Although the boys freely told other kids of their plans they purposely didn’t tell any adults. There were so many things said about Zoo Island no one was sure what to believe. So, it was completely off limits to the general public.
The crazy scientists who built Zoo Island, and poorly managed it, were like a dirty stain on their town’s moral reputation. Regardless of how many lies there were about the Island there were enough documented facts vouching for how dangerous and even deadly the abandoned island was. As with “The Forever Happy Amusement Park,” John Hanson was always experimenting with strange and unusual, unorthodox, ideas. In many people’s opinion he was trying to play God by creating new species, joining two very unlikely species together in test tubes and incubating them until they formed entirely different, sometimes damaging results. The majority of adult town folks weren’t sure whether to believe all of the hype behind the stories they heard about “The Forever Happy Zoo Island” but children found it fascinating. Fans of the movie and books about Jurassic Park compared that fictional work with the stories they heard regarding Zoo Island and what was being done on that island. John Hanson’s creations, although he wasn’t creating dinosaurs, were very similar to the stuff written in science fiction and recreated in movies. Mr. Hanson was mixing the extremely dangerous Komodo dragon DNA with who knows what other animals. Individuals in scientific circles, very credible scientists, agreed that almost everything you heard was just a myth, impossible to perform; while others believed the stories wholeheartedly. There were just enough stories out there to convince people that in this day and age anything is possible.
Some spent their time and efforts protesting, saying the place should be shut down. They felt that it wasn’t morally right to mix reptiles with mammals. It was said that the island was the home of the first giant scorpion, the size of a torpedo, thus named Scorpedo. Animal rights activists drew pictures of torn and bloody stick figures in the claws of the Scorpedo. Dave had a poster on the ceiling above his bed illustrating the creature taking over a large city. The city was dwarfed by the enormous body, claws, and tail of this awful freak of nature. The poster had “THE SCORPEDO” printed across the top in red lettering like someone painted it in blood. At the bottom it had a scoreboard in a stadium at the end of a football field. It read,
“Score: People 0 Scorpedo All.”
Some of the organizations protesting used that same poster, insisting John Hanson and all of The Forever Happy, Inc. be inspected by authorities to assure the safety of the general public. Most were fixated on what threats came from the zoo while a few other, mostly younger people, were caught up in fascination and potentially ground breaking discoveries being made. Those against John Hanson’s work felt that the risk of exposing mankind to more danger wasn’t worth taking a chance on. Some of the hype was a bit overboard but until the real facts were presented nobody really knew what level of threats existed.
It wasn’t the protesting that caused the park to be shut down. It was the over-priced admission to enter. Average, middle-class, people could not afford the entry fee so, regretfully, they had to shut down and shut down quickly. There simply wasn’t enough income to pay the employees. John Hanson did not look at it as a failure but was going to try and cut corners in order to cut cost. That was another mistake John Hanson would not accept as a failure.
The four boys in this story we’re determined to enter the abandoned zoo and gather as much information documenting what it was really like, what may have been left behind, and in their eyes, be considered some type of heroes. Ron even brought a hair comb with him so they could all make sure their hair looked good for T.V. and pictures taken for any articles raving about their success.
Before, during, and after school, groups of children would pass the time by talking about what they heard about the zoo. One kid swore his uncle was actually there while it was up and running. Another girl said her cousin worked there. The talk ranged from the type of terrain to the types of tragedies that were contained on that island. The debate over the inability of survival for certain animals not native to America was combated with the folk lure of soil and vegetation being brought over, all the way from places like Thailand and Fiji; along with other exotic things only found in very hot & dry lands where animals like the Komodo dragon live. The foreign plants and conditions would meet the needs of those species. It was said that Hanson and his staff had sealed off rooms created to control the different climates required for the growth of some, never before seen, plants and animals.
There was some documentation from medical records proving that some people working there were seriously injured. All the children took parts of what they heard and warped what true eyewitnesses saw to grow their own tales. Tidbits of information turned into full blown stories. The 4 boys were going to bring back not only their personal experiences but photographic evidence and video of what it was really like on the island now and what may have been left behind, in hopes of increasing their own popularity. The adolescents’ own curiosity also needed to be quenched. The little town of North Port, Florida had a few wild birds dwelling in it, ones that came from the island. A few newspapers showed photographs of unbelievable creatures that allegedly crossed the water between the island and the mainland. Some people claimed it was fake news, others gave their accounts of seeing them with their own eyes. There was enough history, facts and fiction to fill many books for several generations to come, but our four boys wanted to write their own book and it would all start with the raft ride.
The raft they used was not intended for any serious body of water. It wasn’t just a pool toy but not far from that. It was by no means worthy of going out into the deep. It came with 2 short plastic paddles and it had to be blown up. The boys took turns adding their very own breath into the vessel. In between turns it was inevitable that some air would escape no matter how hard they tried to pinch the valve or block it with their tongue.
Illustration by Olivia Avery Bailey
John, the newest and slightly oldest member of this ‘made up gang’ of boys, was good at making quick sketches of things. Ron, the youngest, liked to write. Jeremy, a bit on the nerd side of things, owned the raft. And David, the pure jock, had all the guts needed to convince the others that they justhad to go on this quest. The original three boys (David, Jeremy, and Ron) would rarely stop talking about anything else but their past experience inside the abandoned amusement park. Now it was time for this next new venture. John was kicking himself for not going with them last time. He recalled how, when the authorities questioned him about who was in that park that night, at first he confidently acted as if he knew nothing, but when it came right down to it, the night his now new friends broke the law, he was the one who told the adults the other three had entered. The other boys didn’t know that John was the snitch. When kids told them John was a rat and Johnny was confronted by David, Ron, and Jeremy he blamed some girl and swore he’d never be an informant for the cops. This was partially true. There was a girl who told the park authorities their names and John only confirmed it. Once again, just enough truth wrapped in a lie seemed to at least make it believable.
By going on this trip, John felt he would some how gain their confidence in him. Another one of John’s attempts to gaining popularity was by personally drawing pictures of the other three sneaking in the park, racing down slides and escaping the crazy, deadly, fun house. He gained their admiration not only with his ability to draw almost anything but by specifically drawing them so well. In John’s artistic interpretation of them, he was sure to include extra muscular. John portrayed the boys as larger-than-life action figures, like the ones they enjoyed in their comic book collection. Ron wrote about their saga and eventually he and John created their own little comic book called, “The Big Dog’s Feat.” Big Dogs is what the three called their little gang. John wasn’t quite in yet but, between stroking the other’s egos and going on this trip, he hoped they would accept him as one of them. Ron helped by sharing his writing skills with him. Jeremy had a major crush on John’s sister, she had the same name as his own sister (Karen) but unlike his sis., she was a fox. So that helped with John’s inclusion. David thought John did a great job capturing his likeness as the muscle-bound leader, even if it was just hand drawn. So, John kept trying his best to score likes. He figured the trip would be the final initiation and he’d finally feel fully accepted by them.
📝📝📝📝Editorial notes: i want all chapter numbers and titles to be centered and the font/print larger than the rest of the text like i did above. For some reason WordPress app wouldn’t let me do it for every chap.📝📝📝📝
The raft the boys were using began to take on water as it lost air just 30 yards from the island. The boys weren’t frustrated by this, they actually laughed, although Jeremy was blamed because it was his raft. At their age (between 11 & 14) it was a little easier to laugh at situations that would make a fully matured grown up drop tears in their beer. The adolescents looked at these grim circumstances as, just part of the exploration. The next comic they write would feature how they survived the “mile long trip” in nothing but a cheap little raft. They’d be sure to illustrate how David carried the others onto the shore line, like soldiers storming the beach at Normandy. Ron often wrote things in the recesses of his mind. As life around him was taking place he was making mental notes on how to capture those moment in written words. As things unfolded he was capitulating them in his head. Later he would exadurate, or ‘imaginate’, it into things larger than life. This trip would be written as miles long, even thought it was only about 200 or 300 yards away from the other shore. He knew one mile was much further than just a few hundred yards. There was no way the island was even close to one mile away (1760 yards). As Ron wrote John would draw. He too would extenuate the island as just a few dots out in the middle of an ocean. His illustrations of the raft would show its weak, flimsy, torn, tattered mess of inability while portraying the boy’s strength, fearlessness, and triumphal physic.
North Port, Florida was not an island but the boys made it to Venice Beach, Florida, just one town over. From Venice you could see Zoo Island. John’s house was actually right on the line of where North Port touched Venice. Venice beach itself was an inhabited island but John’s family lived one bridge away from that part of Venice. The other three boys told their parents John’s family owned a camp ground on Venice Beach & they’d be camping out there. The truth was, John’s family lived near a relatively small patch of woods near the island that was part of Venice. The original plan was to
Set up a tent but then leave it so they could make their way to Zoo Island,
Spend the rest of the night there on Zoo Island,
Explore the next day, and
Return to the woods near Venice Beach the very next day before anyone would even noticed that they were gone.
To add an extra cushion to their scheme they said that if the first night went well they’d stay a second night and be back home sometime Sunday.
Jeremy campaigned that John’s sister come along with them but the raft was barely large enough for the 4 boys. Not only that but, the other 3 said, “No Girls!” Their real interest in girls wouldn’t start for another year or two but Jeremy really liked this particular girl. He liked her almost more than his other 2 friends & definitely more than John. The only thing he didn’t like about her was her name, Karen!
he thought. Why was her name the same as his sister.
Soaking wet, the 4 boys crawled up onto the shore of Zoo Island. It was quiet, other than the strange unusual sounds of a few animals hidden in the dark line of woods. They were pretty sure the sporadic noise was just a few exotic birds. John spoke first,
“Wow! Would ya jus’ listen to that!”
He exclaimed with excitement, hiding his fears. The sounds of traffic, kids at play, and adults barking at their children was replace by what was the closest thing to the sound of silence these boys had ever experienced before. It was quite enough for them to notice the waves lapping on the shore. The occasional night creature sound was amplified because the volume of everything else was hush out there on the island.
David puffed up and gave himself a punch to his inflated chest as he proclaimed,
“Let’s do dis dog!”
He extended a hardy slap to Jeremy’s back, threw a punch to Ronnie’s arm and engaged in a full on head butt toward John. That was the only way he knew to truly express his affection. John was able to dodge the affliction Dave tried to bring to his head. There was still contact but it resulted in Dave’s head only making impact with John’s shoulder. Dave ordered loud and proud. Ron stood there frozen, looking at the bushes only about 20 yards from the beach. Jeremy whispered,
“Ah Dave, we might wanna keep our voices down.”
Jonny was pulling what was left of the raft fully onto the sand. He heard the other boys but was oblivious to whatever was brushing the bushes. David turned to address Jeremy,
Before he could finish his mockery the sound of rustling shrubs got louder. Ron was still standing dead in his tracks. Jeremy was not yet paralyzed by petrifying fear, but His ‘terrification levels’ were rising. The boys clothes were heavy and dripping wet. David gave the order in a less than haughty cry,
although no one else was speaking but him. The 3 of them stood there with their mouths wide open and eyes as big as flying saucers, while John was still preoccupied with trying to salvage their supplies from the raft, he was still completely unaware of the commotion on that side of the ocean.
Ron shuttered softly,
“I think there is some…”
David spun just his head quickly toward Ron. No words were needed. Ron shut up. Jeremy glance at David to see how he was reacting in hopes that he’d find it within himself to copy the actions of his brave heroic leader. Dave stood still, legs in a wide stance, one leg slightly forward and bending at the knee, the other slightly back and not extended, not bent at all. Jeremy noted Dave’s arms were by his side, fists clenched, elbows bowed back. Jeremy put himself in a similar stance and tried to get in to what he called a, “Dave state of mind.” He wanted to be on the same page regardless of what may be on the rampage coming toward them. Dave’s body was poised in a position, come hell or high water, he was destine to win. He displayed not even one sliver of fear. He had no doubt, no questions, he was fully ready as if he had been training for this olympic type moment his whole entire lifetime. He was ready to cash in the payment earned from hours he put in with his cheap weightlifting bench in his garage. The wages he accumulated were about to be spent on this specific confrontation. They knew him well enough to verify he’d spend it all if need be. Ron also looked at David as a role model but he knew within himself that he was spineless. When it came to dealing with any kind of confrontation Ronnie used his small portion of strength to run.
The bushes and a few small trees were forced down and whatever it was it was large enough to clear its own path. It was then the 3 boys got just a glimpse as the moon light was glistening off the top part of the creature creeping toward then.
Ron slipped out a few soft, meager words, of which only one made sense,
David commanding Ron to shut up by waving his arm at him, not wanting to take his eyes off what was emerging out of the thicket. Jeremy was gradually freaking out, his body filled with adrenaline. His whole, “Dave state of mind”, theory was swept away with the wind. His fight or flight instinct had no fight instinct in it. He yelled,
as he bolted down the beach with Ron following suit.
David’s first instinct was the opposite of his friends. He always leaned more toward fighting than running away. In the gospel according to Dave, “Running away was a sign of stupidity, moral softness, and over all weakness.” His 2 closest friends depended on him and he knew it. That dependence just made his will all the more stronger. David, with his head fully elevated, chin still up, eyes fixed on the threat, one arm slowly reaching down and grabbing one of the ore from their raft, he shouted as loud as he could toward the mysterious creature,
“COME ON!!! BRING IT!!! BRING…IT…OOOON!”
He stood armed and strong while the monster responded with a quick attack, barreling toward him with all its fearsome might.
John finally looked up from his task only to see the large head of a Komodo Dragon coming in his direction. When offered with the split second choice of fight or flight Johnny’s whole system instinctively decided to flee up the shore line, not realizing he was heading in the opposite direction in which Ron and Jeremy fled. David was left there, the only one ready to combat this threatening monstrosity, regardless of which direction his team mates flew; but the land dragon decided to run after Johnny. Unlike the case with David and Goliath this foe forfeited by turning away from what David was about to throw down. It fell into a full on chase after Johnny. With its turn David noticed that only the head was a Komodo Dragon its body was that of…something else.
“KEY YA! HOOP, THERE IT IS! WHO LET THE…UMPH!”
With a hard THUD!! David bit the shore. His eager over excited adolescents body tripped him up as he went to run in the sand. He quickly got to his feet and went into full pursuit mode, as if nothing happen. He raced down the water line while slinging the ore around like a ninja’s staff. With the same velocity and speed of a domestic household pet the thing was galloping over the foot prints Johnny left behind. David briefly looked back, the direction Ron and Jeremiah took, they were long gone. He then shifted his attention back to his front just watching this mutated hybrid gain ground on Johnny. John’s legs burned, his ankles bent in the soft sand, and his lungs gasped for air during his feeble attempt to not be captured. He let out a yelp as his knees buckled, collapsing him into the ground. The legs of the pursuing beast propelled the shinny head toward its prey. David was close behind, still wanting to fight this thing. Johnny’s screams turned from,
“No! Stop, stop! Don’t! Stooooop that you silly…agack!”
As David approached, thinking the monster was eating his friend, he rose the ore and swung it full force, slapping the offender on its’ butt.
📝📝📝edit note/question, should we say “ass” rather than “Butt” here? Or say something really juvinial like fanny, tookus, or oh WAIT I GOT IT, a fart cannon? YES! Edit above…
As David approached, thinking the monster was eating his friend, he rose the ore and SWUNG IT FULL FORCE, slapping the offender on its’ BUTT Fart Cannon.
📝📝📝📝📝end edit note
Johnny began to laugh. David, still not fully realizing what was taking place, heard John shouting, with laughs mixed in,
“Down boy! Hahaaa down. Doooown ha HA!!”
Then Johnny told Dave,
“He’s…li, licking me like my dog does!”
With the ore still raised in the air David stood and watched as the long dragon tongue lapped John’s face and its dog body and tail wiggled with excitement.
John composed himself and spoke directly to the strange animal,
“What are you? Huh boy, what are YOU! Dat’s a good good boi! Gooood boooooi!”
David dropped to his knees as this freakish fellow turned towards him for some lovin’. Johnny expressed,
“See? Just like a dog!”
David melted like a little boy seeing puppies for the first time as this thing shot out its long wet forked tongue toward his face. It was only then that Johnny got to actually see the body. He spoke in unbelief,
“Its a… A drog, a…ah a dogan, a…”
He searched his mind for a new word that could accurately described the mix between a dog and a dragon. David couldn’t contain the mixture of joy along with a dose of disgust brought on by the typical behavior of a pet dog. He liked the tickle that came from the unusual, weird texture of a tongue on his skin but, at the same time, comprehending how gross it is to be licked, especially when one thinks of where else that tongue has been. Surly this thing licked himself too just like a family dog tends to from time to time.
Johnny stood to his feet sounding his concerns,
“Wait! The saliva of a Komodo Dragons is poison!!!”
David pushed the over eager animal off him and got to his feet also.
“I feel fine. How ’bout you?”,
he asked John. Johnny’s mind was racing with fear of how they may both be infected. His real fear was of dieing. David’s fear was not about death but the fear of missing out on this adventure. He proposed,
“This won’t keep us from exploring the island will it?”
“If we die, then yes! Yes Dave, it will prevent us from living, let alone exploring!!!
David pat the specimen’s lizard head and pet the creatures dog body as he spoke directly to, what he considered their new found pet,
“He’s a good boooooi. Yes, he is! We ain’t gonna miss out.”
Then he included Johnny,
“What should we name him?”
John couldn’t believe Dave’s carefree oblivion, and yet just as before his mind once again searched for the name of the species that could also be a friendly name for a domesticated reptile/mammal. His, above grade point average, teenage brain flipped through pages of things he had read and things that he drew. He quickly skipped over to a fictional character, the main protagonist from the novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. If he recalled correctly that person was born with what the average person would call defects, still human but… different, unlike the others. His physical appearance was made up of undeniable abnormalities. John had a crystal clear picture in his head. He saw the figure, back hunched like a camel, forehead hanging low over his one eye and lips that were permanently crooked. He looked like some one hit him across his face with a boat paddle. That person was actually very gentle but the townsfolk judged him by his looks alone. Their judgmental state of mind would not allow them to see him as a human being at all. He was shunned, feared and hunted by the others, as if he was some type of terrifying monster; but even he found sanctuary, care, he even found… love. John’s avalanche of thoughts were interrupted, temporarily barricaded, with Dave’s suggestion,
“How about dragon dog or komodo dog?”
Then Johnny sputtered out,
It sounded good. David agreed,
“Yeah, we’ll call you…what is it again Johnny? Automoto?”
John realize Dave had no idea where the name came from as he confirmed,
Dave spoke again directly to their new found friend,
“We’ll call you Quazzy, like Ozzy. Ozzy Osbourne. You’re a bat out of hell, diary of a mad man, crazy training mother f’er.”
Johnny wanted to give the background behind the name Quasimodo but he didn’t want to risk making Dave feel stupid or uneducated. He knew if he did say it out loud it would only make him feel like a rejected nerd who was bullied for being too smart. When you’re an awkward adolescent trying to figure out what life is all about all of the kids going through similar things always find something wrong or just different about you that they inevitability and relentlessly poke at. You’re too smart, You’re too dumb, too clean, too dirty, dressed too nice, can’t afford name branded clothes…the list goes on and on. It seemed as if nothing was considered acceptable, alright or just fine the way it is. Johnny knew all the stereo-types. He lived daily with the struggle of trying to be seen as pleasing, he would even settled for being remotely liked. The connotations associated with nickname Quazzy fit the animal and John pretty well. He was constantly seeking acceptance from his peers and yet right here, right now before his very own eyes one of the boys labeled, ‘a cool kid’ accepted this mixed up, anything but normal, animal. He embraced the differences.
Dave scratched where the lizard skin stopped and the fur began or was it where the hair stopped and the scales started? Johnny reached out to scratched just above the dog’s tail then with his other hand gently touched the lizard head. He said quietly,
“I reeeally hope this thing doesn’t kill us.”
As David replied John realized he actually spoke out loud things he was hiding in the crevices of his mind. He heard David say,
“Oh come on! Quazzy ain’t no killer! Are ya boi?”
The pet sat on its hind quarters just like an every day run of the mill dog and yet stretched out its scale komodo dragon neck and head.
“Woooh hoo wee we gotta weird one here! Just look at this freakish… THING! Hey, we gotta go get the cameras from our backpack!”,
“Where is Jeremiah and Ronald?”
“Jeremiah? Ronald? No one but their mom calls them that!”,
David scolded him, but his fixation was on the new found beast. John insisted on an answer,
“Where is Ron and Jeremy?”
While David pointed over his shoulder with one arm and patting Quazzy in the chest area with his other hand he explained,
“They both pussed out like the pups they are.”
Johnny looked beyond Quazzy and David but saw no signs of the other boys. His own nerves of fear began to show,
“We could…ah….should maybe fa follow the… their fa foot prints in the sand!”
David stood up straight. Quazzy remained seated with his tongue hanging out of his mouth. His head matched up even with the height of Dave’s hip.
“Johnny boy, don’t worry about them. Ya got me annnnd Quazzy. What more do you need? Besides, it’s a fairly small island. We’ll find them and all meet up again.”
Johnny wasn’t so much worried about the other two boys he just felt safer in numbers. He was also under the persuasion that if he out ran them from any danger chasing them they would be licked to death or…whatever, rather than him being the next victim.
David’s voice jumped in, derailing John’s thoughts once again,
“We got this. I got this! Look, I’m the only one that came after you to see if you were ok. I’m the one who saved you when you needed savin’! Now come on. We’ll find them too, together.”
David began to walk back to where the raft met the beach, patting his side encouraging Quazzy to come along. Johnny followed both of them. He couldn’t wait to tell Ronald how he came up with the name for this radical, prehistoric looking pet. Ron, a writer and pretty prolific reader, was the only one in the group that would comprehend and appreciate the background info. for the full name Quasimodo. David commanded,
“Come on Quazzy!”
John flinched a little hearing David shortening the name, however, it was kind of a cooler name, a good nickname. The more Johnny processed it the more he began to accept it. He thought to himself, “Hmmm, yeah. At least it’s just a shortening of the full name, Quasimodo.” Then David said,
“Maybe we should just call him Ozzy.”
The uptight, ridged, young scholar part of Johnny spoke up,
“Nah that names been used. I like your idea of calling him Quazzy, short for Quasimodo.”
John hoped his persuasion would stick. David knew he wasn’t really the one to come up with the name but thought it was great that Johnny gave him the credit any way. David asked,
“What’s it short for again?”
Glad for the opportunity, John began to explain once again,
“It’s actually short for a fictional character, the main protagonist of the novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo. The creature, well he wasn’t really a creature he was a man but, was born with a hunchback and he was feared by the townspeople as a sort of monster, but he finds sanctuary in an unlikely love that is fulfilled…”
David’s words lunged in pushing John’s words to an early death,
“No, I’m asking you what’s the name? I don’t need a whole history lesson! I’m not dumb. I know all that part that you’re saying I’m just saying what’s the longer name?!”
John still desired to give a short explanations but thought better of it and gave the only response David wanted to hear,
Dave blurted out,
“OH NEVER MIND! YOUR A HUNCHED BACK OF NOTE or DAMN! COME ON QUAZZY AND JAJOHNNY!”
They were finally really beginning to make some progress on their way back toward where they landed. Dave thought, “Did I really run that far?” John couldn’t get a word in edgewise but he was glad Dave still wanted him around. The feeling of acceptance out weighed the need to be informed and informative to others. David said,
“Johnny, I think I’ll call you ‘J’ for genius from now on.”
Johnny fought the urge to correct David’s error. He just boarded up the thoughts in his own head, bit his tongue, keeping hidden any sign of his own eagerness to chastise his friend’s ignorance. He even asked himself, “Does Dave really think the word genius actually starts with the letter ‘J’ ? Or hmmm…I don’t know.” He looked at Dave to see if he was just kidding around. He expected Dave to look over his shoulder and grin at him. There wasn’t any indication of a prank. What helped John overcome the need to turn into a spelling bee or grammer cop was the thought that Dave was now considering him a close enough friend to give him a nickname; at the same time he smiled at just the thought of calling David ‘D’ for dumb. Much like this creature they found, or more clearly that found them, it was more dog than dino or dragon. John noted the similarities, David was more brawny than brainy, more jock than genius, more smart ass than just plane smart.
📝📝📝📝Editorial notes: i want all chapter numbers and titles to be centered and the print larger than the rest of the text. Just like above. I am very open to coming up with better chapter title names too.📝📝📝📝
Meanwhile, while Dave, Johnny, and Quazzy gathered supplies from the soggy, deflated raft, Jeremy and Ronny were realizing they could finally stop running. The mystery monster that they ran from was no longer chasing them, it never really was but, they ran as far away as they could and finally stopped to catch their breath. Slumped over with his hands on his knees Ronnie gasped as he tried to speak,
“Did hu whoo see it?”
Jeremy completely collapsed, laying flat on his back with both hands on his chest. Through his labored breathing he answer,
He took another much needed breath before continuing,
“Ahhh I just heard and ga then I ha whew whee… I whRaan!”
He gasped again then got out,
“I heard you say whrun!”
“You see that?”
“No I ta hold huyou I just ran. I ho man. I juhust ran!!”
Ronnie clarified, by now he had almost completely caught his breath,
“No! Look. Do you see THAT?!”
He was pointing at a trail, dimly lit by the moon light. The area had been cleared out and there weren’t any trees covering the area. Ron read the sign above the trail lit only by the pale moonlight,
“Trail To Hidden Falls.”
Both boys looked at each other and gave a grin. The true exploration had begun.
“Sounds like a good place to hide!”
Ronnie straightened up as he spoke up,
“I think we’re safe now. Don’t you?”
“Yeah but, ah no i mean so we can like hide there until Dave shows up or something.”
“You think he’ll come this way?”
“Well…he knows what direction we ran in and I think we cleared a path. He’ll pick up our trail.”
“Maybe your right. I know my mom, I mean I’ve heard people say, if you are lost the best thing to do is stay in one spot.”
“Yeah but we’ll be extra safe if we hide while we wait.”
“Yeah. There may be more creatures like that one or that one may follow our trail!”
“For sure BUT I ain’t gonna lie, walking thrusum water could throw the animal off our scent! I’m not tryin’ ta get caught, bit, or EATEN! Com’on, Let’s go.”
Ronnie help Jeremy raise up from his slumping position, then, he commanded his body to race away, challenging Jeremy as he went into a full sprint,
“I got the lead on ya!”
Jeremy began to shout back but thought he better not. He didn’t want that creature, or anything else with ears on this Island, to hear him. He just chased after Ronnie who was now teasing him even more,
“Slow poke J, you’ll never catch up!”
Jeremy couldn’t resist. He shifted into a full on gallop.
He screamed as he passed by Ron. Ron protested,
“How is that not fair? Face it, I’m just faster!”
Ronnie just humphed. Leaves and gravel kicked up into the air as the two ran down the trail. Jeremy stopped just short of the pond at the bottom of a water fall. Ronnie passed him up and plunged into the water.
Jeremy laughed as he watched Ron hit the water like a brick wall and stumble head first into the pond. When he came up for air to claim the victory. Jeremy laughed even harder at the green slim in his friend’s hair. It reminded him of the lake they went in when they snuck into the park. Jeremy announced,
“You’re a loser!”
“Am NOT! I beat you!”
Everything was a race, a personal challenge, a competition. Jeremy just stayed on the trail leading to the water fall. Ronnie protested,
“You’re not coming in!?”
“No, you slime ball!!! I’m gonna hide behind the water fall!”
Although he shouted, the sound of the rushing water covered up his voice. Ronnie stood up. The water was only waist deep. He slapped the surface of the water expressing his frustration,
“Come on! I though you were getting in too! The water throws off our scent!!!”
“Not when ya smell as bad as you do!”
Ronnie didn’t hear him clearly but just knew his friend said something mean. He made his way toward the edge as he tried to think of a good burn to tease Jeremy with when he got there. Ron also thought back to when they trespassed before, this was unlike the goo in the lake at the amusement park but the whole situation, being wet, in a lake, sneaking around, it was all so similar. His mind got preoccupied with those memories taking away his ability to come up with some witty comment he could throw at Jeremy. Ronnie was too afraid to go under the pressure of the water fall. He was becoming more aware that there could be something living in the pond. Just then Jeremy heard Ron’s cry,
“AGH! SOMETHIN’ TOUCHED MY LA HeEG!!!”
Ronnie went into a fit, wailing over and over again,
“SOMETHIN’ TOUCHED MY LEG SOMETHIN’ TOUCHED MY LEGSOMETHIN’ TOUCHED MY LEG SOMETHIN’ TOUCHED MY LEG.”
As he reached the edge what he was chanting almost turned it into a song,
“SOMETHIN’ TOUCHED MY Le ha hEG!!!!”
Jeremy laughed again as he watched his friend go into a wiggle dance. Ronnie’s whole body squirmed as he got completely out of the pond. Even once he was safe he still shuttered, now with past tense as the brief encounter with who knows what lingered,
“SomeTHING touched my leg…oh my gA,oh myGa, oh my gA,oh myGa oh my gA,oh myGaaahaahaa. That was nuts. Something TOUCHED my leg dude! I’m tellin’ you bruh, Something touched my LaHeg in there dude! Ya know what I’m sayin’?Ya feelnme?”
Jeremy knew something probably did brush up against Ronnie but he enjoyed the taunting,
“IT DID MAN!”
They went back and forth for a while until Ronnie shoved his opponent against the back wall behind the waterfall.
As Jeremy’s back hit the artificial rock Ronnie noticed a small red light just behind him.
“A light! And it’s on!”
Jeremy turned around, still laughing from the sport of making Ronnie think he’s less of a man than him.
Ronnie proclaimed. The red light reflected in his eyes,
“There must be power still on or something! Maybe a battery or somthin’!”
Jeremy touched the wall and looked for a hidden door as he whispered,
“I think that is just an emergency light but something is giving it power!”
This new fascination ended their fight and drove them to unite. Ronnie suggested again,
“Maybe it’s runnin’ on a battery.”
Jeremy’s fingers did the work his eyes couldn’t do in the darkness. His fingers found a rough seam, a crack. As Ronnie moved to the right side of his buddy he felt a breeze. His fingers tried to get a grip. Jeremy gave instructions,
“Here, help me push right here. Right… here!”
Jeremy grabbed Ron’s hands and placed them on what he was sure to be a hidden door. The boys pushed together and when they backed up to give a bigger push together the door popped open. They both said in unison,
📝📝📝📝Editorial notes: i want all chapter numbers and titles to be centered and the print larger than the rest of the text. As seen above📝📝📝📝
David crouched down closest to the closed door inside the stage left dressing room. John was breathing over his shoulder. All of them huddled for safety. The other two boys were as far away from that door as possible, unaware there was a back door directly behind them.
As they took cover from the shadow of some Godzilla looking creature beyond the waterfall outside they remained more silent than they had ever been before. David looked over his shoulder, beyond John and the other two. He whispered,
“Jeremy, you watch that back door.”
Jeremy mouthed the words, “Back door?” Dave gave his head a sharp nod up, using his chin to point past Jeremy, who slowly turned only to discover he was no safer in the back part of this place than he was up near the front. Ronnie was closest to the back door so he slid his body as quick and as quiet as possible to put Jeremy between him and that rear exit, or worse, that rear entrance.
The flash lights Dave & John left in the room were still on. One aimed perfectly at a light switch on the back wall. Jeremy reach up and flicked it, turning on bright over head lights. Every muscle in each of their bodies instantly tightened up. Before Dave could curse him, Jeremy forced the switch back off.
Ronnie began to cry a little. He was glad the other 3 boys couldn’t see in the dimly lit room, however, he couldn’t keep his slight whimper from being heard. Jeremy whispered,
“I though I was turning the lights off.”
John said with a hush,
“The flash lights.”
He got his hands on one and shut it off. Ronnie dove to grab the other one, turned it off, and then clutched it in his hands like a weapon. They all flinched again when they heard a scratching at the front door leading to the stage.
Dave barked, “Shhhhhhiii..oh shh, shhhhhh. Stay quiet guys.”
The scratching stopped. A few seconds later Jeremy felt a tap on his lower back. He leaped forward plowing right over Ron. Ronnie instinctively turned the flashlight back on, aiming it’s beam toward the back door like a deadly lazer beam as he notified his friends,
“It’s jus’ Quazzy.”
Quazzy was left out on the stage when the boys ran for cover. John confirmed with a whisper,
“That was him at the front door, knocking, I mean scratching. He knew he could come in the back doggy door. I saw him do it with the backdoor of the room across the way. Smart boy.”
Dave asked John if everything was just a game to him. John replied,
“It should be because then even though it’s challenging you get through it.”
“Get through what?”, John asked.
Dave bagan a list,
“Chores, tasks, school work, fights, home work, cleaning your dad’s tools. Shit like that.”
John wondered what life lesson he’d learn from Dave. The other two were nodding their heads. They welcomed the advice although they heard it several times before and they were honestly glad to talk about or listen to anything that might help get their minds off this current scary situation. John turned back to David as David followed through with his lesson,
“Yeah, sure. Jus’ look at …things and like… like what we are like going through now. Look at it as a game.”
His voice went raspy and filled the boys with intreag,
“Play it, learn from your mistakes and jus’ keep playin’. May not always be like fun or easy but like at least you feel like you’ve conquered it. Know what I mean?”
Dave gave a final nod. John was waiting for some type of sports analogy Dave picked up from some football coach along the way. Ronnie cried out,
“I have to pee!”
As Dave shushed him he had a flashback to the amusement park and the smell of urine. Jeremy had the same memories. Jeremy whispered only loud enough for Ron to hear,
“Try to hold it. We’ll be outta h…”
The boys all clenched up again from the loud, unmistakable sound of a jackhammer. Even brave Dave’s heart skipped a beat. It came again with an obnoxious,
but this time it was followed by the sound of a car sputtering as if it was trying to turn over or start its engine. Then, there were a few second of silence. Enough for the boys to unhinged their shoulders from their earlobes. Each boy thought, “We’ve been caught.” Then the same sound broke the silence again. It was the same familiar noise of someone turning a key to a car or truck just to hear it not start. Without thinking Dave said,
John was amazed Dave would know what was wrong with a vehicle just by hearing it. Then, once again the jackhammer spit out the same rhythm it had before, this time followed by what sounded like a toy lazer gun,
“Pew pew pew!”
The boys were puzzled. Once again the jackhammer, followed again by the car needing a mechanic. Dave turned to John,
“Yeah, it’s not the battery. That is more of a click click clickety click. It’s flooded. Idiot, doesn’t heknow its flooded?”
Ronnie smiled when he heard the pew pew pew toy lazer gun sound again. Jeremy recognized that toy gun. They sold them in the zoo and you could even find them in the local big box stores for a while. He pictured the Zoo IZland logo on the side. His thought stopped when they heard the car trying to start again. Dave was getting more and more agitated and almost shouted,
“Why keep trying it? What an idiot! Even I know the internal combustion engine that has been fed an excessively rich air-fuel mixture ain’t gonna be ignited. No way! The mixture exceeding the upper explosive limit for that particular fuel. An engine in that condition will not start until the overly rich mixture has been cleared out, flushed! Come on you Jack!”
It was silent. The other boys had no idea what Dave meant. John was still in a state of shock as he looked back at the other two boys He thought to himself “I know a lot but I didn’t know that.” His body language was saying, “Hey wow. Pretty smart of Dave.” Ronnie shrugged his shoulders and Jeremy’s eyebrows went up and the corners of mouth went down, not as a frown, but as if to nonverbally say, “Hey. I’m impressed!” Dave stated,
“Do I need to go out there and tell the guy or what?”
“There are other people h?”
Once again the jackhammer sound caused Ronnie to tighten his lips shut but only until it was quickly followed with the trigger of the toy gun,
“PEW PEW PEW.”
That made him smile everytime. John held up his finger. He said softly,
The same three sounds repeated but this time in a different variation of order:
Car, Jackhammer, Toy Gun.
Car, Toy Gun, Jackhammer.
two Jackhammers in a row, one Toy Gun and they waited for the Car sound.
It was time for the car sound. Where was the sound of the flooded car engine trying to start??? Nothing.
It all stopped for a few seconds that seemed like an eternity. Then, breaking the dead air,
“PEW PEW PEW!!!”
They all released the breath they were holding in. John said,
“Ya know what I think that is?”
Dave bit his tongue, giving John a chance. Dave knew Johnny probably didn’t know how to flush out a fuel line or change a carburetor, let only how to change the oil or even a car tier but he might just know what these sounds were. Jeremy took a guess,
“Atmosphere sound? Ambience effects or mmmaybe ma music?”
Ronnie spoke up,
“Yeah! Sounds like we heard in the abandoned amusement park. Sounds like ya know like make ya feel like it’s like funner and stuff! Sounds coming outta da hidden speakers that look like rocks. Ambulance.”
Jer. corrected him,
Dave shushed them,
“Let Johnny sp…”
The Jackhammer rattled into Dave’s ploy and this time it was followed by the sound of someone taking pictures with an old camera that makes that click and shutter sound. They all looked at each other then all eyes were on John waiting for him to solve this puzzle, this guessing game. He held up 1 finger again and before he said a word they heard the,
“Pew pew pew.”,
followed by a noise that they had not yet heard. It sounded to all of them like R2D2 from the old Star Wars movie. Jeremy blurted out,
“HaH! What the hell?”
Johnny was ready to make his statement,
“I think it is a…”
He waited. The sound of the flooded car trying to start filled in the dramatic pause. Immediately followed by,
“Pew pew pew!”
and the softer sounds of a camera shutter. Just before John continued Ronnie filled in what he thought John was about to say,
They all smiles except Ronnie, he was completely serious with his guess. He asked,
“What? I heard be bop beep beep bop and pew pew…”
The R2D2 sounds repeated.
It was more of a statement than a question. Jeremy patted Ron’s head like he did to his family dog. Quazzy nosed in and came between Ron’s head and Jeremy’s hand. Jeremy found himself now patting Quazzy, who before this point was almost forgotten about. Dave threw things back on track,
“Prrrreeetty sure it’s not R2D2! John is our genius. Whatchu think J? ”
John noticed there was no sarcasm in Dave’s voice this time. He liked that and smiled as he said,
No one said a word but their wrinkly foreheads said, “Tell us more.” John gladly continued,
“Mockingbirds go on learning newsoundsthroughout their lives. They mock sounds they hear. The sounds, or songs, are a long series of phrases, with each phrase usually repeated 2-6 times before shifting to a newsound. Sometimesthe songscango on for 20 seconds or more!”
John’s voice was growing in confidence and volume. The others were fascinated. Dave nodded with approval, after all it was a much better guess than Ronnie’s R2D2. Without being asked John continued,
“Many of the phrases are whistled, butmockingbirdsalsomakesharp raspy, scolds, and trills.An adult male mockingbird can emit up to like over a hundred, maybe even two hundred distinctive sound effects! It can imitate the noises made by Cardinals, Blue Jays, ah… a bunch of other birds. What’s even more amazing is how some can do spot-on, perfect impressions of car alarms, squeaking gates, pretty much anything they hear and pick up.”
Dave was relieved,
“So, the guy isn’t flooding his pick-up truck!”
Jeremy excitedly chimed in,
“The toy gun! The bird heard that from the ‘Zoo IZland’ gift shop.”
Ronnie piped in,
“I knew R2D2 wasn’t out there!”
They all smiled. Quazzy was now shifting his attention to Ronnie, looking for approval and affection.
John was proud he knew so much and, more importantly, that they let him share his knowledge. He spoke again to show off his intelligence.
“Yep, birds also have ultra violet vision too. They see UV rays we can’t see. That helps them see things like urine trails left by their prey.”
Ronnie sprung up to his feet,
“Eww! And ah… I still gotta pee!”
John read the dimly lit room. He knew he had gone too far with his random knowledge. He back peddled a little,
“I ah, I watch a lot of animal documentaries.”
Ronnie almost asked what documentaries were but knew John may go on too long explaining it, besides his bladder was beginning to burn. His lower region was shouting the question, “WHEN YA GONNA RELIEVE ME?!” Dave snagged the light from John’s hands.
“So, no guy, no truck, no space robot and no danger!”
Jeremy reminded them,
“But what about the hugh dinosaur lookin’ thing we saw out there?”
Ronnie though he was referring to Quazzy,
“No not him, the T-rex looking thing that was towering over the tree tops! You forget about him already?”
“I couldn’t see him real good. Da lights were in my eyes.”
Jeremy wondered how anyone could forget about something like that but then honesty admitted,
“YeaaahIII..I don’t know if it was actually a dinosaur. The lights were too bright. I only got a glimpse and decided to jus’ run for it.”
John nodded. Truth be told he just ran too, after hearing Ron point out some mystery monster. Dave suggested,
“I’ll peak out the door.”
Jeremy and Ron wished he wouldn’t. Jeremy echoed something his mom always says,
“Ah, curiosity killed the cat!”
“Yeah ah I don’t think, ah, it’s not just a cat.”
“It’s a figure of speech.”
“No, don’t think it’s that either.”
John’s mind went back to thinking about different bird species and wondering if maybe the thing Ron pointed out was just hugh bird in a tree. Ronnie almost shouted,
“Guyyys I gotta pee.”
John’s thoughts shifted again. He recalled another theory he had learned from national geographic. The magazine had pictures of topless african women, which he was drawn toward, but it also had an article regarding animal’s way of marking their territory. He also read how some hunters use deer urine to attract them. His mind ran off toward one final thought. If one of us get peeded on by one of the monsters in this zoo they will treat us with no threat. They won’t eat us because they don’t eat their own. The piss could save us, marked, smelling like... He force stopped his disturbing thought as the mocking bird peeped again,
“PEW PEW PEW.”
“I gotta pee pee peeee!”
Dave cracked the door to peer out. His eye were slightly blinded by the stage lights. He closed the cracked door and could only see spots in the darkened room,
“Agh! Dang! It’s too bright!”
He blinked trying to adjust his eyes.
“Bright as hell out there!”
John wondered how bright hell was. His mind computed the warm light given off by fire. He shook his head realizing again that it was just a figure of speech. He tapped the side of his head as if trying to hit buttons to help him focus on the present.
John began to share the plan that was quickly formulating in his brain,
“Jeremy, you sneak out the back door. Go peek around the corner.”
“WHAT?! NO WAY! YOU!!”,
he protested. All eyes were on John. Dave seconded the vote,
“Yeah, YOU, genius.”
Ronnie did his impression of the toy lazer gun,
“Pew, pew, pew!”
The mocking bird followed suit,
“Pew pew pew!”
Then his R2D2 sounds and once again the flooded truck trying to start. That eased some of the tension in the dressing room. Johnny nodded in acceptance of the task at hand. In his mind this would prove to them that he was worthy of being part of the “Big Dogs.” Ronnie repeated himself,
“Hurry. I gotta pee and I’m not going out there alone. IDK who goes with me. ATM I’m about to explode.”
John answered. He knew Ronnie’s bladder was calling him into action. John put his hand on Ron’s shoulder and he told him,
“When nature calls there is no answering machine. Ya gotta pick up and answer that call.”
The others didn’t get it. John continued,
“Come on. You’ll be safe with me.”
Ron was not so sure but the only thing on his mind was to relieve himself before he peed himself. Jeremy asked,
“You taking Ronnie?”
John smiled as he escorted Ronnie to the back door,
“When ya gotta go ya can’t say no. Ya can’t stop the rain.”
Ronnie farted. John said,
“Ooops, ya can’t stop the thunder either!”
“I don’t gotta poop, jus’ pee, and… I farted a li’l.”
Jeremy waved his hand trying to shoe away the scent,
“Yeah, we know.”
Ronnie was embarrassed but he smiled. Any time they could literally fart on a friend it was sweet revenge for disgusting things they had done to you in the past. Dave was horrified by the gas bomb but he was also proud that the youngest member and the newest member were taking on this valiant task. Jeremy moved and John led Ron out. Quazzy followed them. The light above the stairs leading downward allowed them to see well without being over powering. Beyond the reaches of its glow the woods were covered with a blanket of darkness. John pointed to a corner between the steps and the wall,
“But, I can’t pee when people are watchin’!”
“No one is watching, Ronnie. No one is here but me and Quazzy and we ain’t lookin’.”
Ronnie thought of the digs Dave and Jeremy would make about his penis being so small no one could see it any way. John hugged the wall as he moved to the edge nearest the front. He saw nothing but well lit, empty seats in the amphitheater. He slowly moved his eyes upward to the trees while also glancing back, checking on Ronnie,
“You going? Go! Cause we may have to Run.”
“I’m trying but…”
Just them the noise of loud creeking and scaping metal filled the air, ending with a crash, followed by a splash,
“BOOM OOM OOM! KeerSplash!”
It echoed. That forced a rush of urine out of Ronnie as he announced,
“I’m going now!!!”
John’s eyes shot upward. Above the silhouette of trees he saw the neck of a mechanical crane with scraps of material and pieces of fabricated leather skin falling off of it. John smiled and giggled a little. Ron whispered,
“I’m almost empty. What do you see?”
“Shake it off and come look.”
Ron was caught between fear and fun but hurried none the less. After he finished and zipped up he turned to distance himself from his outdoor potty spot. He watched Quazzy move toward it, squatting his hind legs, and cover Ron’s scent with his own.
John crouched down as Ron ran up from behind. His eyes followed a spot light beaming up from behind the trees revealing the fully fake, long necked, animatronic monster. Ron spoke,
“Its nothing but a decaying robot. Isn’t anything on this island real?”
Just then Quazzy came up to Ronnie, nuzzeling into his hip as if he was saying, “I’m real my new friend.” John led with,
“Let’s go get the gang and report to them what we saw.”
“Let’s fool them! Tell them it almost ate us and we had to run for our lives.”
John thought back to Dave claiming credit for finding Quazzy. John stepped back letting Ron take the lead,
“Yeah ok. You take the lead on this one.”
Ronnie smiled. The other two boys never let him be in charge of anything. He ran up the steps, pretending to be all outta breath. He even ripped his shirt a little in an attempt to really sell this drama he was about to serve. The tearing of his shirt was a spontaneous action which truly shocked John who thought,“Oh my, he’s a lot more committed to this than I would’ve been!”
Ron barged in the room wailing,
“AAAAAAGH! AAAAAAGH, THEY, YOU, I, we Ah, WOE! WE BARELY MADE IT BACK HERE ALIIIII HI HI HIIIVE!”
His excitement was quickly put out like a wet blanket on a fire as Jeremy calmly asked,
“So, did you see anything?”
John came in followed by Quazzy. Dave asked John,
“Did he pee?”
Before John could answer Dave asked,
Ronnie aborted trying to fool them and simply answered,
“Jus’ a de crap ti tated robot DINOsaur thing!”
“Yeah, basically. More like an dilapidated auto-matronic animal. Well, what use to be a…”
Dave didn’t let either of them finish,
He notices one of the floor boards under his foot was loose. He pride up the loose floor panel and found a big old fashion skeleton key.
“Cool! Keep it! “,
“Now come on. Lets go!”
They followed his lead while Ron still searched for Jeremiah’s approval,
“Did I fool ya a li’l?”
Jeremy’s response was a bland, underwhelming, monotoned,
“Yeah. Yeah, you fooled us alright.”
Then he went on with his own interests,
“I sure hope we find some hidden tunnles…there must be some hidden tunnels like Disney World has underground.”
Dave led the boys down the steps with Quazzy taking up the rear once again. Ronnie quizzed John,
“How big are Mockingbirds?”
John was about to answer when Dave barked,
Jeremy spoke any way,
“I’m jus’ sayin’ I hope we find some hidden tunnels and I hope I get to use this key.”
“Well, I’m just saying I jus’ wanna see the mockin’ bird.”
Dave led on as he gave the detailed itinerary of what was about to happen,
“First we are going back to where we started, get our supplies, then explore. We need to find a good spot to set up camp.”
John realized they had not used the cameras yet and he tried to make a conscious effort to remember to do so next time they saw stuff worth capturing. That made him wonder about the mockingbird. They never did see him. They only heard him. Then John recalled Dave saying something about the camera. John questioned himself, “Was I suppose to get them from one of the bags?” He was more worried about how he might have let down David than he was about just taking pictires. Ronnie whispered only loud enough for Jeremiah to hear,
“Hey, I bet that key fits into a secret door.”
Jeremy softly agreed, “Yeah, one that leads to a secret hidden passage.”
The hike back to the raft was a little easier now with some of the lights in the park on, that is until they lumbered through the woods. Dave held up his fist like he had seen Navy Seals do in the movies to signal their troup to halt. Leaves from the trees above rained down on them. The 4 boys looked up. Ronnie breathed out the words,
The boy’s eyes darted back and forth as they captured what was running through the tops of the limbs far above them. The small creatures used tree branches like a highway. John questioned,
Jeremy connected the dots,
Ronnie softly asked,
“Well, which is it?? Squirrels or monkeys???”
John shared as Ronnie innocently stated,
“I only see squirrels.”
The other three smiled. Jeremy gently helped Ronnie understand,
“They are monkeys. Squirrel Moneys are a type of small monkeys.”
Ronnie looked with amazement at how fasted they maneuvered over the canopy of trees,
“Ooooh. Woooow! Look at ’em goooo.”
Dave dropped his fist then cranked his shoulder, arm, and hand motioning them to carry on. Dave told them,
“When I hold up my first it means stop and when I do this with my arm going forward it means let’s move on and if I do this (he made a peace symbol with his fingers and pointed them at his eyes then outward), It means look.”
Although they all knew the nonverbal commands, after all they saw all the same movies, Dave felt self important enough to be sure they knew that he knew and that he was in charge.
Ronnie spoke up offering a riddle like joke that seemed to relate to their adventure,
“Hey, if you’re Russian when you’re in de hut and you’re German when you leave da hut aaaand youuu aaare a person from London….?”
Ronnie continue his best to deliver the question leading to the answer,
“Ah, yeah! When ya go to daaaa toilet what are ya?”
His three friends all answered,
Ron replied with discouragement,
“Awe! You guys knew that one?”
“Even I knew that one, and I’m Canadian!”
SHUT UUUP AND COOOME ON!!! OR I’LL BEAT YA WITH THIS STICK I’M USING TO KNOCK DOWN SPIDERWEBS!”
After hearing that they were honestly more afraid of Dave then they were of spiders and they were all creeped out by spiders; as a matter of fact they weren’t jist creeped out they were deathly afraid of spiders. A song entered Ronnie’s head but it wasn’t time for singing. He thought to himself, “Whoever said outta sight outta mind never had a hiding spider in their house.” Even Ronnie knew spiders had a lot of legs and they had a whole bunch of eyes he just wondered how many ears did they have. He thought it best to just follow in silence especially on this island. Who knows what kind of spiders will see, hear, and try catch them.
📝📝📝📝Editorial notes: i want to be sure all chapter numbers and titles to be centered and the print larger than the rest of the text as above.📝📝📝📝
Dave had a T-shirt at home that read
“Don’t ever stop hopping fences.”
He wished he had worn it.
Making it through the woods Dave led with his light and a thin sapling branch he whisked in front of him knocking down any cob weds trying to catch their prey while blocking the boy’s way. Occasionally He looked back to make sure the boys were in order and that Quazzy was still with them. Dave smiled at their new pet’s loyalty and affection. He was still there, behind Ron at the tail end of their single file line.
Ronnie was keeping his head down with both arms flailing around trying to fight off the bugs that seemed to be dive bombing and following him. He longed to just sit down with a note pad and pen. Writing was always his way of coping with things. He knew that all this struggling would make for a great story.
Jeremy was often stuck in the middle of things and his placement in this line was an exact indicator to his plot in life. He was in front of Quazzy and Ron but, behind Dave and John. Regardless of his placement his imagination was running wild as he obsessed over thoughts of hidden tunnels below the surface of the island.
John swept the ground with his flash light listening to brittle sticks, limbs, and leaves crunch under their feet. Several times he would push a few branches out of his way, then let them go, causing it to hit Jeremy who was just close enough behind him to suffer the consequences. It was purely accidental and every time Jer. would yell,
John replied with, “Sorry.”
John cringed a little each time he heard Jer. being slapped. It was only occasionally but even one slap was one too many. Jeremy wasn’t really mad. He knew it was all part of the hike. All 4 of them heard Ronnie slappy the bugs that were on their own mission to drive him nuts. Some of them were just inexplicably bugging him more than the other three boys. Some were trying to bite his young tender skin. Other bugs were just, well, just bugging him, not biting, just tunnelling their way into his ears, nose, and eyes. He wished he knew why they did that just as his sister wished she knew why he constantly, persistently, incessantly bugged her. He pleaded,
“Anyone got bug spray?”
“Yeah, in your back pack. I made sure.”
Jeremy wondered if he packed any for himself. He didn’t say anything because he knew Dave would freak out on him about being more responsible.
Dave (age 13) treated Jeremy (age 12) like a brother when he wasn’t treating him like a child. Ronnie, being younger than the rest, only 11, was treated like a baby by everyone in his life.
Dave’s own fatherly example was not the warmest. The man never left marks but he’d shove his son around while calling him Dits, Dung, Dufus. His dad would change things up a bit by calling his child, “Dammit Dave!” Dave kinda liked that. He thought it made him bad ass. He had learned over the years that life was all about survival of the fittest. He believed that being kind never got anybody ahead in life.
John was new to the group. He didn’t know much about the other boys home life. He barley knew them outside of their homes. Because John was already in high school and the oldest (14) he thought that maybe his actions wouldn’t trigger Dave to freak out on him about being more mature, perhaps. He at least hoped so. To be sure John brought 2 of everything just in case anyone had a need to be met. That’s just the way he was.
As the boys walked each of them considered who they were and what they had to offer the group as a whole. They all sized themselves up and evaluated themselves differently from each other but over all they came to grips with what part they played.
They were clearing their minds just as they cleared the woods, making their own path. Once they were all on the beach and out of the thicket the
Mockingbird sound effects began again. The truck engine trying to start sounded just like the real thing. John told the boys,
“He’s back. I bet he followed us. Keep your eyes open. He sounds really close. We may see him this time.”
Dave turned back to look at John. What he saw made him involuntarily and instinctively flinch. He aimed his flash light beam like a gun, shinning it up above their heads, revealing the oversized bird getting ready to dive bombing them as they moved further onto the open beach. The flying creature was mammoth. His wingspan was easily 20 feet. He climbed up into the sky as he made the sound of a camera shutter, then quickly changed his direction, spinning 180 degrees as he vocalized the toy gun sound,
“Pew, pew, pew.”,
while plunging toward them.
Jeremy ran past John and Dave to go hide under the deflated raft. Quazzy sprung forward leaping at the flying object like a dog trying to catch a frisbee. Ron dropped right where he was and tried to bury himself in sand. John ran back into where the woods started while Dave ran and grabbed one of the ores from the raft. He was preparing to swing at it.
“PEW PEW PEW!”, the sound waves approached.
“Here he comes!”,
Dave confirmed as he got into his batting stance.
Although a great number of lights were on toward the inner part of the Zoo the beach remained dimly lit mainly by moon light and the flashlights Dave & John had. They were glad the thick woods shielded the shore from the lights, that may keep them from being caught; however, more lights out on the open sand would help them in their current fight. Dave’s light was dropped, now at his feet, as he gripped the ore tightly. John took his light with him into the cover of the trees. Just before he was within reach of Quazzy or Dave the creature spun another 180 degrees to climb once again.
“COME ON YA STUPID TURKEY! YOU OVER SIZED CHICKEN HAWK!!”,
David mocked him.
The bird mocked back with a sound they hadn’t heard from him earlier,
“Chick kaaagh kaaaagh kaaagh.”
It was the sound of a C.B. radio or walkie-talkie sqwack. It fooled Jeremy. His mind questioned himself then he yelled at Dave,
“Why didn’t we bring walkie-talkies? Or did we?”
Dave quickly answered,
“In Ronnie’s pack, but who cares! How is that gonna help us right now? Dufis!!”
Dave kept his eye on the bird. He watched with great anticipation as it angled itself like a fighting komakozie. It almost disappeared in the dark sky. Some how its eyes emitted red lights. The creature shot himself downward while rapidly resounding his mockery of a truck engine, camera shutter, toy lazer, and finally his R2D2. Dave saw his beaty red eyes approach. The other boys heard Dave’s challenge continue,
“YEAH! COME ON YA FLOODED KOMOKAZIE, POPERRATZIE, FAKE ROBOT EATING PIECE OF…”
This time it swooped closer than the last time. As ready as Dave thought he was he couldn’t fight his own will. He found himself bending backwards as if in a limbo contest. After his downward attack but just before his sharp turn to climb yet again Quazzy lunged boldly into action. The mockingbird barley avoided the land creature’s defense. Quazzy saw this as more like a game than a war. He wasn’t dodging anything. He was as happy as any K9 could be, accepting the taunting and ready for more. Dave got back on his feet,
“MISSED ME FOGHORN LEGHORN!!! TRY AGAIN YOU PLUCKING PIECE OF POULTRY!!!”
Quazzy readied himself too.
In his frustration the mockingbird left the show. After he soared upward he turned himself back out over the open water.
Dave started a victory dance while jumping into a sing song tease,
YA DUMB ASS MISSED!
YA TRIED TO EAT ME
THEN ONCE YA MEET ME
YA CAN’T DEFEAT ME!
YA DUMB ASS MISSED!”
Dave continued his speech to the bird,
“YEAH YOU BETTER FLY FLY AWAY. Ya don’t want none a this. We’ll eat ya for snack.”
They heard the Bird’s R2D2 effect retreating. It faded into the distance as Dave was still hurling insults.
They heard Jeremy crying from under their old raft,
“Are allll mockn’ birds that big?!”
John, making way back out of the woods, answered,
“Eagles aren’t even that big! They have like an eight foot wing spaaaa…!”
As he tried to carry on he tripped over a partially buried hatch door he had not seen. Jer. came out from under the soggy sea vessel realizing that didn’t really offer the coverage needed. John declared,
“Hey! A hidden hatch!”
“Is it the door to a secret hidden passage?”
Much to his lack of delight he heard John clarify,
“No. It’s not deep but has stuff we can use.”
Ronnie stood up, brushing off the sand he used for cover. Dave picked up his light and ran over toward John and the hatch. He and John shinned their lights into the hole. He called out what he saw,
“Rope. A Knife! A gun!!!”
John clarified, “FLARE Gun!”
Dave purposely shined his light into John’s face at an attempt to shut him up, allowing the almighty Dave to claim this as his discovery. He moved his own eyes down to where John’s light revealed the new found treasures. He called out,
“A tranquilizer GUN! Aaaaaand a big old ring of keys!!!”
Jeremy added, “1 of those keys may fit a door leading to the hidden passageways!”
Ron bellowed, “I need a shower! Do you think…”
His request was halted by something that sounded like helicopters approaching. Three of them looked up and over the forest where the sound was coming from. At first they were sure it was some type of engine approaching, but then they quickly realized it was some sort of wildlife with wings. All but John cranked their necks to see what it was. John was busy gathering the things they found in the buried box.
Immediately Ron once again dropped to the sand and reburied himself. Dave wanted to use what ever it was for batting practice but there were far too many. He yelped as he hit the ground,
“Men, we’re out numbered. I think the mockin’ bird brought his friends to the fight. Retreat, retreat!!!”
Jeremy was already down. He could barely see Ron. He had no idea how fast he was able to bury his whole body, all but his eyes, nostrils, and mouth.
John was looking downward but spoke up as the moon casted shadows in the wavey sand of the unidentified flying objects.
“The shadows are larger than the objects but man those birds have a huge wing spaaaaaa…”
John felt his feet leaving the ground as one of the 4 foot long airborne objects swooped down, grabbed him and flew off.
Dave stood back up. He was helpless as he watched what was happening,
“John! John?! They aren’t birds!”
Jeremy peaked upward. His voice offered more of a question than a statement,
“Ants? Huge Flying ants??! Therrrrnot birds at all. I never seen ants that big!”
Dave reached into the once buried sunken compartment. He grabbed the flare gun and the tranquilizer gun. He threw one to Jeremy,
“Help me shoot it!”,
Dave discharged the flare into the sky toward John. Jeremy was about to shoot the tranquilizer gun when he noticed that Quazzy, scared by the sound of the flare gun, was running away. Jeremy shifted his attention to Dave who was preoccupied by what was happening above. Jeremy wanted to follow Dave’s command but was more inclined not to. He registered his legit excuse in his head for later when Dave would question why he didn’t follow his orders to shoot.
Ronnie missed seeing everything. He kept cover in the sand with his eyes closed. He shook his head to clear the sand out of his ears. Things were relatively silent again, only the cricket chirps and occasionally normal bird sounds remained. He got to his knees and looked over at his friends. The other two stood there staring up at the vast, black, starry night. They were completely mystified. Ron whisper,
“Is it all clear??
Dave shifted back into command,
“Ah, ya yeah. Get up. All clear.”
Ron got up. While looking around, still bushing off more sand he asked,
“Where’s John? Where is Quazzy? And what was that loud foop sound?”
Jeremy looked at Dave for answers. In an attempt to not alarm Ronnie. Their leader just replied,
“Ahhhhh….yyyeah. That shot was just a practice shots at ahhhh. To ummm scare away those antsaSBIRDS! Yeah, and John…well, you know John…he ah ran off back toward the um front entrance. We better grab stuffn’ go. Quazzy ran too.”
Ronnie innocently asked, “What kinda birds were they?”
“Wait.”, Ronnie asked, “You didn’t shoot john did ya?”
Jeremy quickly answered,
“Almosssah I don’t think sooooo…ah…so so no ah pffff. Psh, did we shoot at or shoot John. Aheh. Nope.”
Dave shot a look at Jeremy silently shouting, “CLAM UP BRUH!”
David tried to address their younger friend with some sort of logic,
“Ron, if we shot him you’d see his body.”
Ron spilled out his own logic, “No, not if ya just, like, shot his leg but didn’t kill ’em. He could’ve jus’ still run with a shot le…”
As he was trying to gather their things from the abandoned raft Dave lost his composure,
“STOP! SHUUUT SHUT SHUT IT! NO, WE DIDN’T SHOOT DAVE. WE KNOW WE DIDN’T FOR SURE. We were just shOT agh. shute. We were shooting at the annntaah at the… The um, ah the an ammm AMMUNITION… WE USED ANT MU NIZION TO SHEW BIRDS AWAY!”
The looks between Jeremy and Dave were saying so much without uttering one verbal word. Ron declared,
“I can tell somethin’s not right guys!”
“Jus’shut up Ronnie! Grab stuff and com’on!”
In silence they gathered the items that had fallen out of their back packs, stuffed them back in, strapped up, and made their way toward the front, main, grand entrance.
Zoo Island didn’t seem to have many security precautions, at least that is what the boys thought until they reach the front entrance. David, Ronald and Jeremiah looked at the fence in front of the entrance way to the zoo. For a few seconds they just stood there looking up at it. Dave was in the middle. He shinned his light straight forward, then up and down vertically. Ronnie was on Dave’s right. He shinned his light horizontally to the right while Jeremy swept his to the left. David confirmed,
“Well, we did it before dogs. Let’s do it again.”
His references to, “doing it before”, was when they snuck into the abandoned amusement park. He stepped forward, slinging his back pack off his right shoulder. Jeremy whispered,
“Ron, did you see any holes already made on your side?”
“Nah. How ’bout you Jer.?”
Dave whispered too, although they were sure no one else was around,
“Well, we know we got in through the side patch of woods, no fence there, but what’s the fun in that, when we can…”
He grunted a little as he pulled out huge wire cutters from his pack.
“…We can go right in through the….ugh…fff”,
he grunted as he cut through the metal links of the fence then finished his word,
“…fff front. HaHa! There ya go dogs.”
With one hand he lifted the section he cut while ushering his friends in with his other hand. They scurried in like chickens escaping a coop. They ran past the ticket booths then quickly jumped the people counting stalls. The weight from their gear slowed them down a bit but their emotional excitement over came any physical restrictions. The two younger boys chased after Dave as if in a race. Not one of them knew where the finish line was, regardless they were determined to beat one another. Each one felt like they were fulfilling their destiny. Sure, the final destination was purely unknown, that didn’t matter all that much, they were simply happy just living out the fantasy they had been developing in their own mind over the past few months. The flat paved entrance made for easy running. The zoo had not been closed long enough for nature to completely take over the well edged man made path.
Dave slowed his pace and held his arms out to his sides indicating them to stop. Ronnie ran past him shouting,
Jeremy protested, “Did not! Dave said stop!”
“No! Unt uh! Dave did NOT!”
“Yeah huh! He did. Dave didn’t you say stop!?!”
“That’s what holding my hands out means, duh!”
“See? He said stop. You ran past ’em so you’re dis…um..dis, dissQuuaaantified.”
Ron corrected Jeremy, “You mean disqualified stupid and no I’m. Dave’s arms were the finish line tape the winner breaks through at the end. Aaaand so that makes me…”
Dave broke it up,
“You’re both dysfunctional. That’s what you are.”
Ron tried to continue, “Yeah but I won right?”
Dave dropped to one knee, “Shhhh… Listen.”
The other two mimicked his actions. All three listened until Ronnie whispered, almost to himself,
Jeremy still debated,
“Shhhh…no. Dave said shhh!”
Dave used his flash light like a spot light while asking the boys,
“You flick all the switches in that fuse box.?”
Ron claimed, “Yeah, we did.”
Jeremy clarified, “Yeah I did.”
Dave suggested, “There must be another box for this area. Come on. We gotta find a place to set up camp, maybe find more switches, and…”
Jeremy jumped in, “We gotta find John.”
Ronnie shinned his light on Dave’s face.
“Get that outta my eyes! Of course we’ll find Jooohn! We jus’ need more light and a place to camp out. We told our parents we were campin’ out tonight and that’s what we are doin’.”
Ronnie knew he had to keep his thoughts to himself, yeahwe told our parents we were campin’ but we sure as heck didn’t tell ’em it was on Zoo Island. He also wondered if he was the only one who secretly hoped a search party would find them; at the same time, part of him was driven by his eagerness to explore. Although he had to keep many thought to himself his curiosity got the better of him. So, as Dave rose to his feet, and they followed, Ronnie brought up the recent past,
“What kinda birds was’dose? Da ones John had run ‘er had ranned from? If John where here he’d know. Maybe dat’s why he runned or ‘er ran.”
Dave put his foot down, “Don’t start!’
Both Jeremy and Ronnie were worried about John. Jeremy’s worry was greater than Ronnie’s because he actually saw John carried off by one of the flying ants. Dave realized their need for John’s intelligence but wasn’t about to admit it publicly. The most sobering thought Dave had was that they could be held guilty if John was seriously hurt or worse yet died, dropped or eaten by that monster ant. As they trudged onward Jeremy’s thoughts went to John’s sister, I wonder what she’s doin’ now. Duh, probably just sleeping. It’s like 2a.m. I think. Huh, I should’ve brought my watch. Once we find her brother I can tell her how I saved him. I bet she’ll think I’m extra brave and…hmmm…I hope she doesn’t think I dumb for breakin’ in here…ugh. Man, I really like her. She might get mad cause I put her brother in dangerrrr, aaaa, nah, that is Dave’s fault. I’m sure she’ll thinkI’m cool. My sister will think I’m dumb. She always does…haha. I jus’ wish John’s sister had a different name. All the names in the world and my sister Karen and John’s sister Karen gotta both be named… Karen? A grin came to his face as he laughed inside his own head.
The Boys had no idea that they were making memories that would stick with them rest of their lives. They were just simply caught up in the moment. Each of them individually dismissed any consequences for any of their actions. They threw away the fear of breaking the trespassing laws. They were old enough to know breaking and entering was a felony but they focused on the fun they were having. They even dismissed the small fragments of common sense they each possessed, casting it far far away from their minds; instead, just like most young boys, they used what little logic they had to figure out how to take over this zoo and make it their own. Everything they knew about this place filled their minds and senses with an extra dose of serotonin (the chemical in our brains that brings on mania). Everything they didn’t know about this place filled their sensories with enticing mystery and euphoria. While exploring Dave and Jeremy thought about how glad they were that Ron didn’t see John carried off. They felt that they were old enough to handel seeing some stuff that Ronnie was still to young to process. Ronnie spoke up again,
“I know you guys don’t care but, where do you think John ran to, maybe back to the amphitheater? That was a cool place. Ya think John ranned all the way back ta there? And also, where is Quazzy?”
Dave stopped walking. He had to get Ronnie to stop talking,
“We do care. I’m sure he is fine. He’s probably with Quazzy and Quazzy will keep him safe! Heck Quazzy may lead John right to us, after all, Quazzy is part dog.”
This gave Ronnie some comfort. Dave had purposefully said Quazzy’s name several times to take Ron’s mind off John. Jeremy knew the truth. Quazzy ran off. John flew off. Dave’s diversion didn’t help Jeremy take his mind off John but his own fantasies about John’s sister brought him the comfort needed. Dave was beginning to believe his own lies, and yet, he wished he had not seen John carried off like that. Dave cupped a hand to the side of his mouth and yelled,
“JOHN!!! WE KNOW YOU RAN AWAY CAUSE YOUR CHICKEN BUT IT’S OKAAAAAY! COME BACK! JOIN US! JOOOOOHN? JOHNNIE BOY! I’LL KEEP YOU SAFE! IT’S OOOOOKAAAAY. hmmm…I’m sure he’s fine. John is juuuust fiiine.”
He tried to reassure himself and his friends.
A short distance away John was falling downward from the sky. He landed in the same pond Ronnie was wiggling through earlier. John landed in the center where is was much deeper. After coming up for air he scrambled for the side. It wasn’t long until he no longer had to tread water. His feet touched the bottom and he walked the rest of the way to where the pond reached land. As he crawled out he noticed the water had not washed his hands completely. Without even touching his own head he could tell his hair was matted, partially from blood, partially from pond scum. Once he was fully on land again he realized his clothes were deeply stained with blood. He stood in the artificial light and did a self evaluation. The ant had mainly held John’s backpack while in flight but his face had a few scratches. He uttered to himself out loud,
“Ugh! My hair!”
He reached up to pull out a clumpy mixture of ant guts and algee from the pond. He was thrilled to confirm all the blood was the ant’s, not his own. He was also thankful that Ronald and Jeremiah found the fuse box for the lights in this area. He went behind the water fall and saw the fake rock door left open. He turned back toward the water fall and leaned forward to let it wash out his hair, eyes, and face. As he showered his mind shot back to before this trip. He humphed at his original belief that he’d be safe as long as he was with the other 3. “I’m actually, probably safer without them!” He internalized, reflected, then elevated his self confidence as he reviewed what just happened. The waterfall felt cool and refreshing. He wished he could get in the pond and go under the falling water, however he still feared what might be living in the pond. He said out loud,
“That is just a healthy fear.”
His mind went on, “There is a time to fear things. Fight or flight right? Woe…did I just defendmyselffromsome mutant, 4 foot, giant ant?! HO! HO! WHAT? WHAAAT??!”
He couldn’t contain it. He yelled out,
“YEAH I DID…BOIIIII!!!”
His smile was unstoppable while he recognized the same empowering feeling from when he stood up to Dave. His thoughts introduced his gut feeling to his own self reliance. As he pulled his head out of the water he shook his whole body like a dog coming out of a water hose. He said securely with a new self awareness,
“Yeah! Dave ain’t all that tough. He’s not as bad as that creepy ant.”
He couldn’t wait to tell the other 3 how he reached into the side pouch of his back pack, pulled out his own flare gun that he brought with him from home, and blew off the head of the sonabich. He practiced how he would tell them. He developed and recited it in his own head. “This doesn’t even need exadurating or embellishment. The truth is better than any fiction Icould add! When I tell them what happen I’m gonna be sure to say, ‘sonabich’, that sounds so cool!Instead of jus’ saying, ‘I blew his head off!’, I might even say, ‘I blew his whole damn head off!’, yeah. I said da sonabich’s head, ah, I said, I ah, yeah, I blew iDoff!!! BLEW DA SONBICH’S HEAD, DAMN HEAD OFF!!! Oh yeah Damn…DA DAMN SOmBICHE’S summerbiches summAhbichesss…DA DAMN F’EN BICHE’S HEAD….”
He struggled with how and where to place the cuss words. He also hesitated on what words he wouldn’t say. He wasn’t real accustomed to cussing but he believed the best time to use cuss words would be when he caught up with the others and revealed to them how clever, brave, and victorious he was. John smiled to himself as he planned his speech. He pictured making his way toward them and telling them how he conquered a gigantic, massive, humongous, flying, larger than him, furious ant. He knew he’d catch up with his friends soon and he wanted to be ready to tell them what he did all on his own. He was sure that he’d probably hear them before even seeing them, but first he searched the cave walls behind the water fall to see if there were some more light switches in breaker boxes that Jeremy and Ronnie may have missed. Sure enough, he not only found one more hidden door he found three more. He knew flipping them on may cause someone on the shores across from the Island to notice but it was a chance he was willing to take. Getting found was fine with him and as a bonus more lights meant they could see the island better. Most importantly none of them would be afraid of what was lurking in the dark. More lights meant less darkness, less fear. He flipped on every switch he found and strutted away with confidence.
The others noticed lights coming on all over the zoo. They were not aware that was John’s doing. It almost stopped them from arguing over who was supposed to bring food. After a brief pause Ron suggested,
“Well, no sense blaming me! We could jus’ catch a big bird! I mean, not like sesame street big bird or like whatever that baby show is but like one of the giant chickens that flew over da’ beach, ya know what I’m sayin’ or like that mockin’bird we saw on ur…above da’ beach.”
“Ronnie you’re a beach.”,
then smiled at his own cleverness. Jeremy was trying to evaluated how they could handle their hunger problem. By this time their tempers were sorely flared. Along with the hunger pain they were getting tired. In Jeremy’s mind he realized that the more that they cried out and the louder they were the higher the probability that John would find them. His assumptions were right. John had no problems finding them, although they were all still lost.