Sunday, December 8, 2013

Zoo Report: July

Today the First Lady of Puerto Rico and her family toured the zoo as did a large, sweaty man with no shirt who shadow-boxed under each misting station until staff called the police.  

He was last seen sprinting towards Connecticut Ave. 

Someone called to donate their mink coat for orphaned animals.  Someone else called to inquire how much we were selling our alligators for and where they could pick them up.  

The Asian Small Clawed Otters were very playful today. 

I experienced my first "Code Green" Drill.  This particular drill featured an "escaped gorilla" (read: staff member dressed up in full gorilla costume) that was finally subdued by a pretend tranquilizer shot.  I was disappointed that I didn't get to see this happen, but I did get a shot of the staff member carrying her sweaty costume back to her office.  

I told them next time, I want to be the tiger.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. The muscles in her shoulders were tight as angry fists from the long hours spent huddling over the pages, but she needed every word to be seared into her memory. Her life depended on it. The pain from her shoulders and the soreness from the beatings she took the day before might trouble her now, but once the trial began, she knew they would cease to matter. All that mattered was the knowledge she could retain from the book. It was the only thing that they didn’t have, and they would never suspect that she did.

She wasn’t too small, thank god for that, or they might have been able to break her bones, but they did enough damage to make her wonder wether she should’ve closed her eyes and let them wash her life away with their fists. Her stomach clenched with doubt about her ability to survive another day. Her right foot was so swollen that every step sent a shot of pain straight up her leg, she couldn’t lift her left arm higher than her chest and she hadn’t seen her face but she felt the heat coming off of the swelling by her right eye. “No.” she thought, “Don’t think about that. Concentrate on the book.” She pushed the thoughts away and slowed her breathing. She was clever. Too clever to let them suspect. They had underestimated her because of what they saw on the outside and she was about to make them pay. 

The memory of each page in the book floated past her eyes as if on a carousel. Her mind raced through the images, the descriptions, the precious words as her muscles twitched in anticipation of each movement and each unformed word on her lips. Sorting through the pages mentally, she pulled forward the ones she would need to open the walls and make objects dense enough to become shields. Simple physics to her. Some of them would have this knowledge, but so many of the books were burned, and there was so trace of the knowledge on the network.

 The network had been scrubbed clean more than a century ago in hopes of preventing the angry masses from opening the airlocks mid-flight between planets or sending an unsuspecting Scientist into deep space with only their threats of banishment to Earth 1 to protect them. When the Scientific party took control of parliament at the beginning of the age of interstellar colonization, they promised radical change to the structure of government. More education, less red tape, more jobs, increased security on the new colonies, but to get there, they needed to have more control over the media channels and network controls. The votes poured in to support the party and little by little, access to news in the new colonies and the flood of new discoveries dwindled to a trickle. 

Anyone caught trading “secure information” regarding new discoveries over the network was sent straight back to Earth 1 which meant death by cancer in less than 10 years, 20 if you had good genetics. It became so dangerous to transmit information, desperate people had resorted to writing books and smuggling the new information by transport between the planets. The books were so rare that the Scientists only had transport guards scan for digital information for the first 50 years of their reign, but now everything was checked. She knew she had one of the only remaining copies and it hurt her to leave it behind, but once she was through, she’d download her memories directly onto the network...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Some people swore that the house was haunted. Most people just complained about the neglected crabapple trees attracting far too many birds. But I knew there was more to the house than its strange noises and ugly trees.

Vivi told me during recess how she saw the old lady shuffling through a funny little side door of the house. It must have been a Thursday because I remember thinking there was only one stinky day between Saturday morning cartoons and me.

“I never knew the house had a door in its side!” exploded Vivi as she ran up to me. “Imagine that! It was there all the time and we never saw it once this summer! Like, who has a side door? I’ve heard of a back door and a front door, but a side door? How do you know where to let the cat in?”

“I’ve never seen a cat at that place.” I offered.

“Anyways, a side door?! Gawd it’s like having an extra mouth on your belly! Ugh! What if you could eat with your belly? Would you be able to choke down there too?”

“No, you wouldn’t get anything caught in your throat if you’re eating with your belly.” I said absentmindedly.

I was thinking about what I had heard my mom say to Mrs. Balfanz. “Mary told me her kid has stories about that empty house too! Things flying around, some old lady, new doors every day… I think they’re playing a joke.”


“Never mind.” I exhaled. “What about the lady? What did she look like this time?”

“Uh… oh gawd, I think she was wearing church clothes, which is too weird because who wears church clothes during the week?”

“What if she was wearing fancy work clothes?”

“Naw, really old ladies don’t work. Anyhow, she doesn’t have a car. Unless she has a really little car and drives it right into her house.”

“Shush. There’s no car, and other people have side doors. My cousin in Minneapolis has a side door. I think it went to a garage but then they destructed…”


“Tore it down and now there’s just a door.”

“Huh.” Blew Vivi. “Well, anyways, I was going to say that I saw something else inside. I saw the old lady, and I thought she’d look at me and then I’d be dead like she’s Medusa. Then I think I see a big something with wings! I knew the place was haunted. She just has a bunch of ghosts or monsters in there and keeps them all shut up until night when she lets them out to catch kids and eat them up.”


“The whatever inside the house! That’s what I’m saying. I thought it was a bird but it was too big. I want to see it but it would probably bite my head off. We’ve got to see it but we have to do it so we don’t die.”

“Okay.” I agreed.

“Ahh! Cici!” The fourth graders had just been let out onto the playground and Vivi galloped away to tackle her little sister Cici.

I crouched next to the swings to think over the door and the lady and the bird-thing. I had watched the house with Vivi for years, but I’d never seen a side door. I don’t know when Vivi started seeing things about the house I didn’t. That’s when I thought of the last time I saw the old lady. I hadn’t seen her in a long time and suddenly knew I never would again.

Nothing was ever the same again after that.