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Bear Necessities chaps 11 and 12

by  Rosey

Posted: Friday, April 3, 2009
Word Count: 1709
Summary: Tom and Jay get trapped in the truck and discover the double-cross, being in the wrong place at the wrong time...

Chapter 11

Screeching around the corner a small red car was fast approaching.

There were more camouflage-clad people inside.

It was screaming to a halt in front of the entrance.

The only cover was the dirty white truck.

Tom and Jay catapulted themselves to the side of the truck, instinctively guessing the people in the red car had been called to the aid of the group inside the zoo.

Doors flung themselves open. Footsteps ran wildly on the pavement. Fearful voices raised hidden whispers to audible levels. There was a yell as someone tripped.

Tom and Jay waited, squashed flat against the truck’s grime and grit, breathing in its heavy scent of gas and rubbery dirt, tight lungs fighting their deliberately shallow breaths.

One set of footsteps was breaking away from the others in the red car and making its determined way towards the truck.

A dark voice was springing from its sharply measured beat. “You go on. I’ll keep watch over the truck. Make sure no-one’s interfering. Make sure everything’s ready. Four minutes guys to get out!”

Mumbling assent came from the distance. The sharp footsteps got nearer.

Tom and Jay stared at each other, sickness rising from their stomachs. In silence they scraped their backs round to the back of the truck, away from the voice. Lucky the red car had parked in front of the truck.

Which side was he coming round? Could they make a quick dash over the road and back to the house?

“Jay, get the licence plate! Quick!” hissed Tom.

Crouched by the back of the truck, the two boys desperately gave a wipe to the plate, Jay entering it on a draft text.

Lights were shining behind them. A deep-throated engine was approaching. Along the pavement side of the truck, the clear sound of booted feet was drawing closer. The engine was slowing down by the truck. It was going to stop by side of the truck.

Why couldn’t anybody see what was going on and call the cops?

Their thighs taut to breaking point, Tom and Jay crouched like two small animals, small against the open back of the truck.

Lights now dazzling their eyes, they were trapped. One side was the dark-voiced bootman. The other side was the menacing engine of the unknown vehicle. Bootman’s steps were turning the corner. They were just seconds away from being discovered.

Like countless cornered animals before them, Tom and Jay leapt into the dark safety of the truck, fuelled by sweat and fear.

Without speaking, they knew that this was the only option. Get in there. Call the police. Give them the number plate. Then get out before anyone noticed.

The footsteps turned the corner. A door slammed. A cold male voice hailed the footsteps on the pavement. “Larry, what’s up.”

“Dumb idiots have screwed something up. Somebody’s got hurt. Don’t worry, it’ll all still go to plan. Might hold us up a bit when we get to the rendezvous point. Is Mike at the drop zone with the other kit?

The cold voice strutted out a sharp ‘yes’ followed by a reprimand: “I’ll give you five minutes before we switch to plan B and call in the security guards. Barry wants it this way, because then we can look as if we’re rescuing the bear from the eco dumbos and it just gets shot by accident by Mike who’s playing the happy camper. Then we bring it ‘back home’ and we’re all heroes. Great story for Megawild. Bear gets to be the centre of the new park. Neat. I’m off.”

Bootman answered with a short ok and “Five minutes it is. See you at the DZ.”

The engine revved up and sped off. Bootman strode back towards the back of the truck.

The two boys retreated further into the truck, away from Bootman’s ever closer presence. There was a container. Behind that was something that felt scratchy and stawlike. Helplessly they burrowed into the bales of hay that had been stacked at the back, not daring to make a sound.

Bootman swung himself into the truck. From the sounds of pulling and moving, he was checking stuff.

Tom and Jay didn’t dare call the police. They couldn’t get out. They were trapped.

In the same nano-second this realisation shot through their brain came an ever-closer clattering.

And calling.

And moaning.

The clattering came to a halt. The electronic lift at the back of the truck swung into action, lifting up a heavy cargo, which was swiftyly rolled into the container. Voices screeched out with tension.

Without thinking, Tom’s hand automatically switched his video recorder back on, capturing the scene.

The group was tying and manouvering a large gurney into the container and securing it. It seemed one group was going in the truck. The other was going in the car by a different route to. They were going to rendezvous somewhere before going to the drop zone. They needed to call an ambulance but were going to put in some distance so they didn’t get caught. Among them, Bootman’s voice was not happy about this, but the panicked sound of female voices and the desperate deadline to get moving now were drowning out his protests.

Sweaty fear filled the truck and devoured the breathable air as the back gate of the lorry descended, extinguishing all light.

Chapter 12

Was it five minutes later? Was it ten? The constant jolting was jarring Tom and Jay’s bones. Loose straw was scratching their mouths. Tight knot in their stomachs were grinding around creaking guts. The urge to pee was overwhelming.

Just a couple of feet away was the container with Saron.

They figured that sooner or later he was going to wake up with a vile headache and even worse temper .

“Boy are we in trouble.” muttered Tom.

Jay stared at him.

“Boy, we’re in trouble. Is that all you can say?

“Tom, we’re in a truck driven by headcases, who don’t yet know they’ve been double-crossed by some quite scary people and who definitely don’t know we’re stuck in here. We’re sitting right next to a real live bear that’s probably big enough to kill us with one bat of his paw. Our parents don’t know where we are and will probably kill us anyway when they find out.

“And all you can say is that ‘we’re in trouble’.”

“Yeah” said Tom hopefully “So do I get the game then? I’ve got a whole load of it on video.”

If Tom could have seen in the dark, he would have moved well out of the way of Jay’s reach at this point.

Ignoring the urge to thrust some loose straw straight down Tom’s throat, Jay began to consider what on earth they could do. Jay’s generally cool head at most times was the result of being the youngest of four boy and having to learn to outwit them before he got the blame for anything that went wrong.

At least the bear was in a container. The lunatics driving the van had at any rate had the sense to do that. Jay grabbed the phone, quickly dialling 911.

“We need help. Someone’s broken into the zoo and stolen a bear and we’re stuck in a truck with it, heading north.”

The adult voice gave a small laugh “Is that right, guys? Listen, the next time you try a prank call, try and get a more believable story. Ok. I’ve got real emergencies here to deal with. Get off the line. Call again and we’ll be taking your name and calling your parents.”

“But it’s true!”

“And it’s snowing in Jamaica. I’m warning you.” The line went dead.

Tom and Jay held their breath. It was like jumping off a tightrope and finding the safety net you always thought was there had disappeared into smoke.

“Well that’s it, then.” Jay gave up.

There was a silence again.

Tom thought hard, digging deep, his thoughts scrabbling around round like a hard drive on fire.

Inspiration struck.

“There’s Tara. She’d help. We’re heading north, right.

“Let’s have a look at the vid. If we can work out exactly where we’re heading, maybe she can get some help. Maybe people will believe her. Maybe she can get us out.”

Sharing one earphone each, Tom replayed the video, listening for clues for the rendezvous point.

If the adults weren’t going to help them, they’d have to get out of this by themselves. If they let the truck carry on, Saran was going to get murdered by the psycho’s security people. Saron, who was lying helplessly almost within an arm’s reach.

It stank. It stank. It stank.

Nutty people with nutty desires. They were all as bad as each other. The ones who didn’t think. The ones who thought they could do what they liked. The ones who’d use their money to get whatever they wanted. It stank.

He wasn’t going to let it happen. Whatever. Just get the bear back to the zoo. Shame other zoos into taking him. Pisconsin. He’d be on to them. Anger and outrage flooded through his bloodstream, fuelling his determination and sharpening his senses.

Sharing one earphone with Jay, Tom rewound through the video listening for clues for the rendezvous point.

Concentrating on the muffled voices, replaying them time and time again till the confused sounds turned into recognisable words, the boys finally decoded up the information. “So we’ll see you at the meet up. Exit 79 truck stop. About 3.30. That’ll give you time to get an ambulance for Vyv. OK.” Just in time: with all the recording, his battery was running low. Just half a bar left.

Exit 79.

Exit 79 was just 15 minutes drive from Tara. His older cousin Tara. The one who’d taken him camping in the woods.

Whose parents owned an outdoor centre and farm.

Who had always stuck for him.

Who could drive a truck.

Hardly believing their luck Tom and Jay stared at each other, their tight chests loosening, as an avenue of hope at last came into view.

With shaking fingers, Tom texted a desperate plea for help as his battery faded away, praying that Tara kept her phone next to her bed.