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Bear Necessities chapters 9 and 10

by  Rosey

Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009
Word Count: 1558
Summary: Action hots up with Tom and Jay being pulled into the action even more.

Chapter 9

It was a week later. A week to go till Saron was due to take his last breath. Across the road from the zoo, a pair of binoculars was being brought out next to an old Buzz Lightyear night light that had seen better days and that was only kept out of fond memories of earlier times.

From the vantage point of his window, Tom could just see into the animal park. He now knew the security guards who patrolled every so often during the night. He knew the time the keepers went home. He was just about ready to pull off the bet.

All he needed was one last day for a final check and then they were in.

The rope ladder had arrived.

Everyone was set.

He didn’t want to leave it any longer, it might take more than one go.

Tonight, however, something was different.

There was a white truck parking itself outside the gates of the zoo.

It was not a truck that you would easily notice amongst other trucks.

It had no markings on it.

It was clean, but not too clean.

Its number plates were on the muddy side as if someone deliberately wanted to make the licence plate hard to read. Tom looked closer.

“Will you turn that goddam light off!” came the scream from downstairs for the tenth time. But, as ever, the parents didn’t actually heave themselves upstairs. The couch was just too comfy after struggling back from a long day’s work, downing some quick pizza and collapsing for the evening.

Tom was just clicking the light off when he noticed some odd activities centred around the truck. A man was getting out of it with what looked like a golf bag. Something long and thin was inside it, but what, Tom didn’t know.
Others were quickly gathering in a group and were making swift tracks to the entrance.

They weren’t the keepers.

They weren’t the security firm.

And they certainly weren’t there for a day out.

They obviously didn’t know anything about the zoo, because the security company was due to drive round any moment.

Tom’s curiosity pricked, his binoculars pressed closer to the windowpane.

Two others were unloading what looked like a heavy duty stretcher from the back of the truck. Tom’s heart picked up its speed. Just what were they going to do with that? And there was something else too.

A nasty feeling began working its way up from his guts, like a worm working its way through a patch of hard soil.

He could see that the small group was wearing matching camouflage outfits and were trying to be quiet. They weren’t terribly good at it. There was a lot of waving of arms.

He called Jay from his mobile.

“Jay, get over here, quick. There’s something going on. No, now! I’ll meet you outside by the side of the house. Bring a torch. Stay quiet. And leave your board round the back of the house. Don’t be such a wuss! Five minutes. You can sneak out easy enough.”

Below him, the group had finally noticed an approaching security van and had broken apart, scuttling back to the truck with all the discipline and organisation of a group of bowls after a full strike.

The security company seemed not to take much notice of the truck even with all the kit that had just been dropped on the road.

If the security company really were that slack it would make his job of getting in even easier.

Tom made his silent way to the bathroom, climbed onto the ledge and swung himself down, torch in mouth and phone in pocket.

Glued to their couch, his parents were unaware that he’d perfected the art of the daring escape from the house. Especially when they had grounded him, as happened on a regular basis.

Jay slid to halt.

“So what’s up?”

Tom hissed at him and pointed at the van, whose occupants were beginning to unload themselves shakily from the van.

“Those lot. I’ve got a bad feeling.”

Someone had left a placard already propped up against the wall.

In bright green fluorescent paint the letters stood out bold, even in the lamplight.


“Jeez, you are joking…” The words almost failed to make it out of Jay’s throat in his astonishment. “They can’t be. They wouldn’t be. That’s ridiculous…

“Don’t tell me it’s that nutty group you showed me. No way. There’s no way they’re going to make it work. Bet they screw it up. Why can’t they just leave the bear in peace? What do they think they’re going to do with him? Take him home with them? Keep him in the garden?”

Tom turned on the video on his phone, capturing the image of the truck.

Dodging the streetlights the two boys crossed to the other side of the road with much more quickwitted sneakiness than the adults would ever be able to manage.

They paused behind the truck, hearts pounding, stiff legs ready to run, eyes darting in every direction as they assessed their situation. The zoo gates were open, but there was no siren sounding. Nobody had seemed to notice.

“So what are we going to do, Jay?”

In the space of a heartbeat, Tom waited.

Chapter 10

The alarm still hadn’t gone off. Somebody in security had been unbelievably careless.

The two boys stood statue-still, freeze-framed in that place that lies between action and non-action.

Adventure was calling them into the zoo. Caution was advising them to make a quick exit.

Tom’s every sensible instinct said to leave it. But there was a very loud voice in his head telling him that if the bear went he’d never be able to win the bet and going into the zoo now would definitely count.

There was also a growing voice in his head which cared about Saron’s well-being. That somehow tied them together because it was also Saron’s living presence which had helped him get over his terrible fears and dreams.

“Jay, are you going to give me an answer? If we don’t go now, we’re always going to be asking ourselves what would have happened if we had… so come on. Something like this is never going to happen to us ever again.

“And if it looks too dangerous, we’ll just make a quick getaway.”

Tom voice felt more certainty than his heart did which was locked in a frenzied rhythm. But his eyes fixed on Jay’s, challenging him.

Jay’s head nodded ok. His body sighed with tension.

So Tom and Jay, phones set to video, slid into the shadows surrounding the path half lit by light spilling from the street.

Wordlessly they slipped into the silent communication and invisible tracking they’d learnt at the local laser combat games centre.

Eyes communicating silently, their soft steps followed the route of the two noisy gaggles in front, camera phones held like weapons. A current of tension strung their movements together. They were two wiry cats navigating the narrow ridge top of a roof.

Ahead, the twin scents of fear and excitement were rising almost visibly from the two groups, like the nose-killing scent of a freshly painted room mixed with half-eaten chocolate éclairs and custard.

The path was definitely leading towards the bear enclosure.

Homing in on the clatter coming from the wheels of the giant trolley and grunts of those carrying the winch-thing, Tom and Jay followed the two groups. Urgent whispers were escalating. The golf bag was being opened. Something was being taken out. It was long and thin. Like a gun.

It was a gun. And some kind of dart thing was being fitted in it. And someone else had a kind of wrench-like thing in their hand. Hands were shaking and the whispers were now almost of the edge of becoming shouts.

The two boys stopped and eyed each other, their hands as cold as cold feet after a winter’s walk. Their bodies felt stretched out. Part of them there, in the zoo, part of them half a mile away in safety.

Jay’s mouth spoke first. “Tom, this is way out of hand. Let’s just get right out of here now. ”

A battle was going on inside Tom.

His dislike of red shoes and the mysterious phone calls and his growing protectiveness towards the old bear were leading the field against his better judgement.

Jay’s tugging on his arm broke into his thoughts. “Tom, I think we should call the cops. Right now. Let them deal with it.”

Up ahead there was an almighty roar from the bear enclosure and what sounded like a scream.

Maybe the break-in team were surprised by Saron’s being awake. Maybe they, unlike Tom, hadn’t done their research.

Tom and Jay united with a look of terror on their faces tore helter-skelter back through the shadows as quickly as a run-away skateboard down the side of a hill.

Their frantic steps took them out past the zoo’s deserted cages. Out past the shuttered refreshment booths. Out past the adverts for the new Megawild Centre and right back to the entrance to the zoo.

Anchored to the security of the brick wall which encircled the zoo, their backs rose and fell with desperate gasps of air.