I was late, very,very late.
I had gotten hung up at the agency looking through a sales brochure. I knew I did not have time to stop for anything, but could not help myself as it pertained to saving endangered species.
Someone had left a package on my door, no card, no signatures, just a cardboard box containing a wrought iron key and instructions that I needed to figure out where the lock was that this key fit into. Also on the instructions were five clues
- an establishment that maintains a collection of wild animals
- don’t look up, you might miss it
- driving the big birds crazy
- careful where you step, calamari sticks to your shoes
- choose the correct door, the correct one.
At the bottom of the note was a picture of my beloved dog Spike chained up in a clearing with gates behind him and the following message
“ONE HOUR OR SPIKE IS LION CHOW”
If it wasn’t for the picture, I would have put this down as a sick joke, but I had really pissed some people off lately and was not going to take any chances. People are crazy you know!
Clue one was obviously talking about the zoo, so as I sat in the zoo office waiting for the administrator to come back, I took a look at the brochure. I was already sure that somehow his dog was in the bowels of the zoo (second clue), off limits to paying customers so I had to try to convince the powers that be to allow me to look. My Private Eye badge gave him some leverage and the picture of my scared dog really got to the nice old lady sitting at the desk.
“Mr Herman is getting one of the zookeepers to take you around” she said re-entering the room.
“Thanks, this whole thing is crazy”
Don showed up in his uniform ready to be of service, he had been briefed and I was told that he knew the zoo inside and out. “OK, which way?” he asked.
“Clue says to look down” I replied.
“Well, everything centers around our control room in the middle of the zoo, it is in an old war bunker, the zoo was built around it after the cold war was over”
“Really? Never knew”
“Most don’t, come on. There are tunnels that go under all the exhibits, that is probably where we need to go” said Don confidently
Don told me that the only big birds that they had right now were ostriches, and took me that way. “What would drive them crazy?”
“Being put in the lion cage.” Don said roaring at his attempt at humor. I just looked at him. “Ever hear of cat nip?”
“Of course, everyone has”
“Well we got nip for every kind of animal in here, we use it to draw them into the underground cages. Come on, I’ll show you”
We went down into the tunnels and walked until we came to a supply room. Don walked over to the shelf where the ostrich nip was kept. He took the box off the shelf and handed it to me. I took it and opened it up, but it was empty, except for a note that simply said MARINA
Don looked over my shoulder at the note as I took out my list of clues. “Seems like I am on the fourth clue already
4. Careful where you step, calamari sticks to your shoes.
I looked at Don in puzzlement, he smiled at me. “Maybe they are talking about the new marina exhibit that we are about to open up. Got some interesting squids on display”
“Seriously. People would pay to look at squid?”
“People pay to look at anything these days it seems” replied Don, smirking as he talked.
When we got to the exhibit, Don let out a yelp and took off running. “What’s wrong?” I yelled
“The inflow pipe!” It is not running. He ran to the large tank to see that someone had opened the drain completely and had turned off the inflow pipe that kept the water levels where they needed to be. Looking at the bottom of the tank, there was a mass of squid desperately trying to get to what little water was left in the tank, and underneath I could see writing on the floor.
“You can’t go in there, you’ll step on them!” Don screamed as he was looking for the key to turn back on the water.
Looking around I found a squeegee, took it and started pushing the squid off of the writing, but they kept falling back on. Don threw me a package that read “Squid Repellant” and said to throw one in there, “They hate it!”. So I opened the package and took out a pellet of squid repellant and threw it where the writing was and sure enough, the squid started moving away from the small pellet
“BIG CAT DOOR”
After helping Don get the water flowing and saving the mass of squid, I asked him where the big cats were.
“Up that tunnel, second tunnel on the left. go until it ends”
Taking out the key, I looked at him questioningly. “Oh, that would be for the breeding rooms that we have, there are two of them”
“Are they being used?”
“One of them is”
Running down the tunnel and finding my way to “Big Cat Country”, I looked at two very large iron doors, door 1 and door 2. Choose the correct one the clue said. Well that doesn’t help much, does it? Why would they say correct one twice? Is 1 correct or is 2 correct. Maybe I am looking at this wrong, maybe there is a door on the left and door on the right. Correct, Right, Correct, RIGHT!
I run to the door and shove the key in the hole and turn, the mechanism clicks and I slowly pull the door open, praying that I am not walking in on two lions, umm. . . breeding….
Door opens and there on the table, chewing a bone is Spike, in all his glory.
Never received another note after that one, been working with the police to try to figure it out. Hoping that I will not ever have to visit the underground zoo again though, I’ll stick to staying above ground, no offense to Don of course
My list – the fourth clue, a stick of ostrich nip, a pellet of squid repellent, an inflow pipe, a wrought iron key, a sales brochure