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It was a long time ago, but I still have nightmares to this very day. That encounter; that day; always remembered, never forgotten.
This is my tale of terror…
I opened my eyes with the sun, bursting with excitement, like a balloon over filled with air. Today was the day I’d been longing for, I had waited at least a month.
With child like glee I rose and breakfasted; a continental affair of crusty croissants; creamy cheese; fresh fruit and tasty tea. I was finally going to the zoo: it was a works outing but moreover it coincided with my 21st birthday,
naturally my joy can’t be overstated.
As a result of waking so early I had a few hours to kill thus I decided to spend it re-living my long lost childhood via my favourite films namely Shrek and Shrek 2. Nostalgia aside I bounded joyfully to meet my colleagues.
“Hey Steve, welcome to the over 20’s club.” The words flowed from the flowery tongue of my long term crush; Jill. “Th-Th-thank you.” I managed to blurt the words out. Why was I so flustered around her?
There were many reasons for this and it was always the same just seeing he fiery red her glowing like hot coals shining in the sunlight,
flowing down to her curvaceous hips. The gentle green glimmering glow of her eyes simply took my breath away. Furthermore Jill was as sweet as a sugar cube, always with a compliment at hand; a comforting word in hard times.
All in all she was perfect, yet she reduced me to a stuttering, awkward mess with no confidence. It was maddening!
After responding to a few more greetings, from John (my best friend), Lionel, Amanda (colleagues) and Richie (my boss) as well as teasing Richie over his bright red suit,
which stood out horribly we headed through the zoo entrance.
Not one of us was taking note of the deserted surroundings as we paid for tickets. All of us ignorant to the ominous silence;
not one of us hearing the maniacal chuckle and booming thunderclap sounding in the background...
Once we entered the zoo the group split into pairs; denoting the giant dead tree in the centre of the park as our meeting point at 12:30 for lunch.
The pairs were as follows me and Jill, (to my secret delight) Lionel and Richie and finally Amanda with John.
As me and Jill headed off together I shyly murmured “Where would you like to go first?” Jill took her time to respond first scouring the information on the map, finally she reached a decision;
“Let’s go see the dolphin show, it starts in 10 minutes. I love aquatic creatures!”
She was practically jumping with excitement now, “Me too! Aren't they great?” I replied somewhat untruthfully I’d had a bad experience with a dolphin before, but that’s another story.
We reached the arena in time but found it closed for today, somewhat dismayed Jill miserably asked
“What’s the new plan then?” Unsure of how to respond I took my time to think; “Well...The bird enclosure is close now, I'm sure the bright colours would cheer you up. “That sounds quite interesting.”
Jill responded with some enthusiasm (to my relief).
Little did we know we’d never get to see those birds...
Jill became much brighter on the way walking through chattering on about the different trees she’d studied when in university,
I listened without caring about the subject but wanting to seem interested to get her attention.
“It’s strange though.”
She stated with authority, “What’s strange?” I enquired quizzically looking directly at her with a puzzled expression. “Well… it’s just; there is a complete lack of wild life in this zoo.
Despite the fact that the sunlight and soil is perfect for all manner of trees and plants to grow.
Yet the only tree I've seen has been the dead tree in the middle of the park.” Thinking back I realized she was right. “Yes strange.” I agreed.
As we rounded the corner we bumped into a hysterical Lionel jabbering away to himself
“He gone! I no see him!” Jill instantly started to try and calm him.
“What’s wrong Lionel?” She asked soothingly. However we’d never know what was the problem as he fell dramatically to the ground. Jill leapt back in fright.
I reached for his wrist felt his pulse and then looked up white with horror;
“He’s… gone…” Jill gave a hysterical cry and fell back sobbing.
Unbeknownst to us a name was being crossed off a list somewhere closer than we realized.
Despite being severely shaken we had to meet the others back at the tree after explaining matters to the staff member nearby Lionel’s corpse was taken away and we attempted to enjoy the rest of our day.
Yet things went from bad to worse when we met the others as not only was Lionel not there Richie was nowhere to be seen either.
“Well today has started off somewhat badly.” I ventured to state “Let’s just hope Richie headed home early and that’s what panicked Lionel who didn't recognize what he said.” I assumed trying to reassure the others,
with little success
“Well Lionel did struggle with English so you may be right Steve.”
Amanda agreed. Relieved that I’d calmed at least one of the group we began to walk.
We were only 4 now so we decided to remain as one group. After passing the lions I instantaneously noticed something was wrong. “Why are the Lions being fed? It’s not 3 o'clock yet?”
I pointed out somewhat confused. The group all stopped and looked agreeing with me, “Wait.” John cried out, “That’s Richie’s s…”
He tailed off blood dripping from his mouth he had seen the staff member in the bright red suit but in tandem the fence to the Lions enclosure had fallen and the spike which topped it had pierced his throat.
Amanda fainted with shock me and Jill just ran for the exit not looking back at the lions devouring Amanda’s silent corpse.
With breath coming fast we sped for the exit, it was finally in sight just as we thought we’d be safe from the lions roaring behind us disaster struck the one tree in the entire park fell as lightning struck it on an otherwise sunny day,
as it fell it ended up trapping Jill beneath it.
I cried out in dismay and frantically tried to help her out from under it. My efforts were in vain she was trapped completely. Tears began to run down my face as I comprehended the situation suddenly nothing else mattered;
the sudden clouds in the sky were irrelevant, as were the animal cries which followed us. I was about to die alongside my crush I had never managed to tell how I felt.
Knowing there’d never be another chance I opened my mouth to speak but was instantly cut off “I know what you’re about to say Steve. Don’t bother just leave!
I don’t want you to sacrifice your own life when you can keep it by leaving, so go now!
Don’t argue!” That was Jill always firm in what she wanted I knew she was right as much as I didn't want to accept it.
So tears falling from my face I kissed her softly goodbye feeling her soft glittery red lips for the first and only time and sped away ignoring the screams of pain which tormented my mind.
That’s my story. A haunting memory, my conscience constantly suffering from the thought of it, I always think back wishing I had stayed with her to share her fate.
However unknown to me at the time I was the only survivor to ever visit that zoo.
The thought means nothing to me, I wish I ceased to exist and perished with my friends,
I have nothing left to live for; nothing at all except the idea of revenge which I will one day achieve, if it takes 10 lifetimes!