Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chapter 12: Schemes

It was a dark and stormy night. I crept along the large wall that surrounded the park. I glanced around at my surroundings to make sure that the coast was clear before I pulled a grappling hook out of my backpack. I took a step away from the wall and looked around once more before I swung the hook around my head and threw it upwards towards the top of the wall. The rope attached to the hook fluttered in the wind as the hook sailed upwards. The grappling hook caught the wall and stuck, giving me a way to get into the park, like it had so many times before.

I climbed up the wall quickly, having become accustomed to the act years ago. Once I was at the top of the wall, I held my arms out to balance myself. I slowly brought up the rope from my grappling hook then put the hook back into my backpack. Very carefully, I walked along the high wall, forcing myself not to look down. I had made this trip many a time, but I was still very aware that the smallest misstep could cost me my life.

I finally came to the tree branch that reached up to and over the wall. I climbed up on it and began crawling out of the tree. I was much more comfortable when I was surrounded by branches than when I was out in the open on top of a wall.

Before I hopped down to the ground, I looked around again to make sure that none of the night guards were around. Seeing that the coast was clear, I got down from the tree and began heading towards the zoo.

I ran across the ground, and my padded soles hardly made any sound at all. The zoo was on the other side of the park, so I had quite a ways to run before I reached my destination. I stopped suddenly and listened closely. I heard slow footsteps making their way towards me. I looked around frantically and saw a bench nearby. I ran and dove under the bench, making myself as small as possible. I was dressed completely in black, so the guard would have to be looking for me to actually see me. But the guards were usually equipped with flashlights, and under the glare of one of those, I was completely visible.

I held my breath as the guard entered the area I was in. I recognized this guard as being one of the more lazy ones, so my worry eased a bit. The guard walked towards the bench and sighed heavily. I closed my eyes, hoping he wouldn’t point his flashlight at the bench. Fortunately, the guard turned his flashlight off. Unfortunately, he turned around and sat down on the bench. I flinched as the bench moved under his weight.

The guard yawned then decided it was a good time for a nap. He lifted his legs up and tipped to the side, laying down on the bench. I refrained from cursing as I waited for a moment to make sure he wouldn’t get up. I very slowly rolled out from under the bench and got up on my hands and knees. I crawled a few feet away from the bench, watching the guard carefully as I went. After establishing that he wouldn’t be getting up for a while, I got to my feet and dashed away as silently as I could.

I made it to the zoo without any further complications. I sneaked around to the back of the zoo and found an employee’s only entrance. I glanced down at the keypad on the door handle and quickly pushed the correct numbers. The light on the keypad turned green and I heard the click of the door unlocking. I turned the handle and quickly slipped inside.

The inside of the zoo was dimly lit by small lights along the walls. I had entered into a part of the zoo that was nothing more than a small hallway without any windows. I followed it down to a set of stairs that went up. I climbed the stairs and found myself in a room full of diving gear. I began gathering the equipment I would need, and the process went very quickly. I had memorized where everything was kept, so the few times the equipment had been rearranged, it had certainly confused me.

I found a wetsuit in my size and quickly slipped it on over my own clothes. I grabbed a mask and an oxygen tank and put both of them on as well. I then picked up a pair of flippers and began walking out of the room. I stopped, having the feeling that I was forgetting something. I quickly rushed back over to my backpack, which I had left tucked in a corner of the room. I unzipped the backpack and pulled out a handful of small plastic bags before I stood up and walked out of the room.

I walked down a narrow corridor that was lit by overhead florescent lights. There were two walls on either side of me, but the floor was not as wide as the walls were apart. In between the floor and the wall to my left was a long opening that led down into the aquariums below me. There were signs along the left wall that told me what fish were in which aquariums. I carefully watched my step while still glancing up at the signs every once and a while to make sure I did not pass the tank I was looking for.

After a few minutes of walking, I came to a sign that had “Angelfish” written on it in large letters. I quickly slipped on my flippers and adjusted the mask over my eyes and nose. I placed the mouthpiece to the oxygen tank in my mouth then got down on my hands and knees in the tight space. I peeked out under the wall to make sure none of the guards were in this area of the zoo before I got into the water. I knew that once I got in, I had to be fast. I couldn’t get caught, not now…

I dove into the water and shivered a bit, not expecting it to be this chilly. I quickly glanced around and noticed that all of the fish were swimming around sleepily, which would make catching them a whole lot easier. I slowly swam over to the nearest angelfish. It glanced over at me lazily but made no motion to move away from me. I reached towards the fish with one of my plastic bags and very slowly placed the bag around the fish. I tied the open end of the bag into a small knot then moved onto the next fish. I repeated this process with three other fish, and none of them fought back. I made my way towards one final fish and was by now feeling very confident in my fish catching capabilities. However, something about the look in that fish’s eyes made my feelings of confidence wither.

As I swam towards the fish, it darted to the right, towards the glass wall of the tank. I followed after it, making sure I didn’t loose my grip on the fish I had already caught. I got closer to the fish and it began swimming downwards, towards the fake plants in the water below. I sped after it, determined not to let it get away. The fish wove through the artificial seaweed and around plastic rocks and logs. I scowled at it and swam faster, rising up over the seaweed and other debris. The fish rose up out of the seaweed and darted to the left. I followed it, making sure I didn’t smash into the brick wall. The fish swam down the length of the aquarium then made a sharp right turn. I smiled around the mouthpiece to my oxygen tank as I got closer to the fish. Suddenly, the fish rocketed upwards. I glanced up but did not follow it fast enough. I smashed into the glass of the tank with a loud thud, and the sound reverberated off of the glass. I moaned and rubbed my head, no longer wanting to help the fish. At this point I was ready to kill the fish. I spun around and saw the fish swimming around playfully, a smile in its eyes.

I was trying to help you! I yelled, glaring at it.

I don’t want your help, human. it replied, turning away haughtily.

Then you can stay here and rot, fish. I snarled, swimming up to the walkway above the tank. I heard the fish huff, but I was too angry to feel even a little pleased that my remark had angered him. I crawled out of the tank with the other fish secured tightly in their bags. I pulled my flippers off and carried them, along with the fish, back to the room with the diving gear. As I took off my wetsuit and grabbed my backpack, I hoped that pesky fish remembered one thing:

No other human had ever communicated with him before.

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