Finding my way around the zoo wasn’t hard; all I had to do was follow the shrieks.
Shooting over the enclosures I entered the reptile park, past the house and to the pool inside a chain link fence. The sign and the picture said ‘alligators’; combine that with powers and you can imagine the hairs pricking on my neck.
The atmosphere was full of swears, and somewhere in the middle was the cry of “get me the hell away from this thing!”
I jolted to a stop and searched for the voice. Across the way, high on the branch of a tree, a man with blonde, curly hair danced away from snapping of jaws. The gator was inches away, given new reach by the long hind legs that supported it upright.
He turned and squealed. “Glimmer Girl! Thank you! Come get me!”
The guy was shaking as I hovered toward him and threw his arm over my shoulder. We inched to the edge of the pen. He stumbled when his feet touched pavement, and tears rolled down his cheeks.
“Thank you, thank you,” he chanted over and over. “Oh, thank $%&@ you showed up when you did…”
I reached down and pulled him up. “We can’t stop now. I need your help.”
Rolling his shoulders the young guy cracked a grin and bounced. “Yes, anything. Whatever you say, Glimmer dude. Your wish is my command.”
Ugh. Did he really have to?
“First, never call me dude,” I winced. “Ever. Again. You got that?”
“Sorry, I call everyone that,” he hummed. “Promise, won’t do it again. What do we need to do?”
My fists clenched and I inhaled. Was this guy for real? “I was hoping you could tell me. What happened here? What can we do to keep the scene contained?”
He rolled his eyes, probably searching for a thought. “Well, it all started with the chimpanzees,” he explained. “I think they’ve got, like, telepathy or something, because they would look at stuff, and then it would start floating all ghost like.”
“You mean telekinesis.”
“Yeah, that!” he exclaimed. “And then Dr. Maxwell, she’s the chief zoologist ‘round here, thought we’d need to take them out with the tranq darts, but the little bastards stole them with their brains, and I was like, woah!”
“Was anybody hurt?”
The guy, whose name I wasn’t going to ask, shook his head. “Nah, man. They all ran to check out the other pens. I don’t know how many of us are still here, but I was stuck with gator duty, so that kind of sucked. Did you see his legs!?”
Suddenly, the ground trembled, and bursts of thunder rolled from below. It bellowed again, and again, in rhythm, growing with intensity each time. The sky was empty; could it have been an earthquake?
Yeah, I know; wishful thinking.
“Find the nearest exit,” I told whatever his name was. “The police have formed a barricade outside. They’ll let you through.”
“The cops are here!?”
I gritted my teeth and frowned. “Whatever problems you have with them, they’re not going to care. Just get out of here. Now.”
If he didn’t to listen to me then he listened to the earth as it jolted him from his feet. He ran like an Olympic sprinter for the nearest door, and left me to the next disaster.
Flying over the zoo was like something out of an abstract, with giraffes blending into the leaves like chameleons, a gorilla made of stone, and a kangaroo with incandescent eyes summoning a rainbow aura around herself and her joeys. Some animals had powers that couldn’t be explained, at least not by me.
The pounding resonated in the air and shook me to the bone. There, by the border of the jungle enclosures, I found the source; a rhino, larger than any other, covered from horn to tail in metal plates. With single minded purpose it crashed against the wall, smashing concrete, and grunting toward its goal.
“What in the…?”
Nearby I saw flames from the tiger pit. It wasn’t until it growled that I could see the flames were the tigers themselves, more rattled by the oncoming beast than what they had become. They huddled under a rock and cooked their cover, sending billows of smoke into the sky.
I turned back to the rhino. “It wants to stomp them out.” No way could that end well.
Every step the beast took left a crater in the dirt. Large chunks of wall cracked away as it butted and pried, and there wasn’t much left. Dear gods, what was I getting myself into?
The animal ignored me.
“Hey, horn head! You’ve got a wrinkled butt!”
Still nothing, like I wasn’t even there.
I blasted at his hide with heat and force beams, and still it did nothing; not even grunt. What was it going to take to get its attention?
“Okay, new plan,” I muttered.
A tree lay to one side of the pen, uprooted. It didn’t take nearly as much concentration to dry out the trunk and work up a fire. One moment it was smoking, and then it was blazing, with flames crawling up branches and wilting leaves into ash.
The rhino turned and charged, plowing horn first into the inferno and rolling the trunk like a twig. Jumping onto its hind legs it came crashing down, stomping the embers out with the force of a freight train.
Blast after blast was shaken off, but now the beast was noticing. It bore me down with a stifling glare and dragged its front hoof in the dirt. Okay, now I had its attention, what was I going to do with it?
“You know I didn’t mean what I said about the wrinkled butt,” I hummed, not that it cared.
Tension wound in my ankles and I was ready to spring, when suddenly the air was split with a roar. The force of sound knocked me from my stance, shook leaves from the trees, and sent the rhinoceros flying into the wall, knocking it unconscious.
“What on Earth…?”
I turned and stopped. Standing in the enclosure and wagging his tail was not one of the residents of the zoo, but a dog; specifically a boxer with a caramel coat, the same I’d met at the home of the old woman, Mrs. Stevenson.
The dog barked, ran to my side and licked my hand. Never let it be said that his bark wasn’t worse than his bite.
To be continued…