I know what you're probably thinking. Why haven't I told her yet? Why haven't I alisema anything to anybody about it? Well, that comes later. Anyway, most of the afternoon isn't that important. It was what happened later on that night that really worried me.
My team and I were away in our bunks, sleeping soundly. Well, at least my team was. Every time I came close to finally drifting into a slumber, I could see Dr. Deranged coming at me with one of those needles and injecting me with some kind of poison. Eventually, I ended up lying on my back staring at the ceiling. I know it's crazy—what reason would the doctor have to kill all the animals? What would be the point au his motive?—but I just couldn't shake the feeling that something was going to happen. Like I said, my gut has never been wrong before.
That's when I decided to do some unscheduled late-night recon. I mean, what's the point if sleeping if I can't get in a single wink, anyway? So, I carefully hopped out of kitanda and crept up to the hatch, pushed the hatch open, and climbed out. After securing the hatch back in its place, I set off.
It's a simple procedure. I navigated through and around habitats, my webbed feet not making the lightest of a flutter as they moved one in front of the other.
It happened as I passed kwa the zoo's vet.
I was hiding in a bush, scanning the area when a sound from inside the vet startled me. It was a telephone ringing. There was something about that ring that turned my stomach inside out. For a moment, I was frozen in my spot, unable to think, au move, au breathe. It was as if someone had pressed my pause button and couldn't figure out which button was play. Before my mind processed what it was doing, I was hopping onto the nearest windowsill and sneaking inside.
The phone that was ringing was in the inayofuata room and I heard the veterinarian answer with a "Hello?" Again with that creepy tone in his voice. I couldn't even begin to think what was going on. I did the first thing I could think of doing. I slid across the counter to the phone on the far end and picked up the receiver, then carefully listened to the conversation, being sure not to make a single sound that would blow my cover.
"...want me to do it?" the doctor was saying.
"Tomorrow. Start at noon," alisema another voice. This one was muffled and deep. I knew that kind of tone from anywhere, whoever was on the other end of the line was using a voice enhancer of some sort to hide his true identity.
"Understood. When should I send them to you?"
"Once all of wanyama I've specified to wewe are injected and under my command," the other voice said. My eyes widened. Under his command? Who is this? Why was the veterinarian working for him? Who does he want to command?
That's when I remembered the needles and the word injected sunk in. There was something in those needles after all. This was all some sort of sick scam.
"Yes, sir. It shall be done," the doctor answered before he hung up the phone. But the other end didn't hang up just yet...because it wasn't finished.
There was a pause before I heard his muffled voice again.
"I'm coming for you, Skipper. And there's nothing wewe can do about it."
The dial tone resounded as I stood speechless with wide eyes and my beak gaping open.
I must've stood there for about a century before I finally realized that I was still standing there with the receiver up to the side of my face with the dial tone still droning in my earhole. I slowly placed the receiver back down on the hook and took a few deep breaths. My head flooded with questions.
Who was on the other end of the line? How does he know me? Why—and zaidi importantly, how—is the doctor working for him? Had whoever was on the other end known I was there listening, au was he just making a side maoni before he ended the call?
Unfortunately, due to my curiosity, I failed to take into account that if Mr. Anonymous knew I was eavesdropping, Dr. Deranged might know, too. I realized too late, and just as I sensed someone behind me and turned to knock his lights out, a sharp piercing feeling erupted in my side. I hit the counter before I even realized I was falling.
I looked up at the doctor holding the emptied needle in his hand looking down at me. The muscles in his face were relaxed, as if he were calm. But his eyes were blank, as if...as if they weren't even his somehow...
I didn't get much time to think about it. In the following sekunde after I fell over, my entire body felt completely numb, as if I were just a pocket of air resting on the counter-top. My vision began to blacken around the edges and my breathing slowed. Just before I went under, I could hear the doctor's voice saying, "Don't worry little fella. This won't hurt at all."
That was the last thing I heard before everything went black.
I remember sound. It was the first thing I experienced as I woke up. All I could hear was some sort of drone in the background...like a mixture of voices folding over each other into an unknown language that my mind couldn't comprehend.
The inayofuata sense I regain was my sense of touch. I could feel stone beneath my body and soft cotton under my head. I could also feel someone shaking me gently. The only thought that ran through my mind was my urge to sleep.
That's all I wanted to do. The only thought that I could process was the fact that I felt exhausted. I just wanted to melt into the surface beneath me and sleep.
But gradually reality started to catch up with me. The voices that I heard finally separated and I could make out my name being called out over and over again.
Slits of light opened up in front of me as I began to open my eyes. I saw blurry figures standing in front of me. One voice said, "He's waking up," in a familiar British accent that I knew that I recognized in the back of my mind.
Suddenly, the rest of reality punched me in the face and my eyes snapped open as I sat up so fast my head hit something above me.
"Skipper! Are wewe alright? We've been trying to get wewe to wake up for the past two minutes!"
I turned my head to the voice that had just spoken and found myself looking at my sekunde in command, Kowalski. Rico and Private were standing inayofuata to him.
I rubbed my head where a dull ache had started to form where I bumped my head in the bunk above me.
I looked down and, sure enough, I was in my own bunk back in HQ. Then, all at once, last nights' events suddenly rolled through my head like a wave trying to beat a high tide to shore.
"Skipper! Hello?" Kowalski clapped his flippers together in my face. I didn't realize that he was talking.
"Huh?" I alisema snapping back into attention.
"Skipper, are wewe alright? wewe look like wewe just saw a ghost au something," Kowalski asked.
I opened my beak to respond but I just didn't know what to say. The inayofuata thing I knew, I was climbing topside for reasons that I really didn't know. It's like my mind was controlling me without knowing what the hell it was doing. My team was hot on my heels and created a small semi-circle around me on our island as I looked around, not looking for anything in particular.
"Skipper, what's wrong?" Private asked in a worried tone. Somehow, I found my voice again.
"I...I don't know, exactly. Look, I couldn't sleep last night...and I went out for some unscheduled recon. I heard this phone ringing in the vet, and...I eavesdropped. The doctor is doing something to the animals. He's working for some anonymous guy with a muffled voice. But...that's not what bothered me most. I was eavesdropping from the other line, and when the doctor hung up...The muffled voice alisema he was coming for me. He addressed me personally, as if he knew I was listening. I don't remember what happened after that," I explained.
Kowalski shook his head. "But sir, that doesn't make any sense! Why would the doctor work for someone who would want to come after you? Where's the connection? Besides, the doctor went nyumbani at seven last night," he told me.
"I realize that, Kowalski. I've asked the same maswali and more. But I know what I heard last night," I insisted.
"Skipper, wewe were probably just dreaming. It's a scientific fact that the mind will play tricks on wewe if you're under a lot of stress," Kowalski shot back.
I rolled my eyes. "Kowalski, this wasn't some scientific hallucination. I was there. I heard that voice on the other end of the phone," I insisted once again. Why wouldn't they listen to me?
Kowalski sighed. "Fine. We'll settle this once and for all kwa heading over to the vet and confiscating one of the syringes and I'll test what's inside. Happy?"
"Yes, in fact, I am. Now you'll see that I'm telling the truth," I answered. My moyo lifted some in hopes that I was right on this one.
I don't know why had doubts that I was right. I knew what had happened last night. It was like my gut was in a tug of war at the moment. It seemed to be telling me that I in fact was right...but there was also a part that told me that I was wrong. au maybe that I was wrong about something. The only thing thinking about it did for me was give me a migraine.
So, we once again made our way to the vet. The zoo was closed today, so sneaking through the zoo was a piece of fishcake. We used the same windowsill that I used last night to break in and make our way to the silver case that remained on the counter. Kowalski flipped the clips up and pushed the lid open. After grabbing a syringe, closing it, and locking it shut, we headed back to HQ.
We followed Kowalski into his lab as he began his research. It was relatively quick. He examined a sample under a microscope and ran a few tests in which he'd squirt a small amount into some sort of substance that would change color according to the chemical reactions—Kowalski's words, not mine. Finally, he came to me with the results.
"Skipper, I'm sorry to inform wewe that the substance in the syringe is indeed a vaccination. There's nothing else in it. Again, I'm sorry," Kowalski told me.
I shook my head. "No! That can't be right! I know what I heard last night! wewe had to miss something!"
Kowalski placed a flipper on my back. "Sir, there's no ignoring the evidence. Everything wewe experienced last night was just a dream. Nothing more."
I was about to protest, but what would I say? I had no real proof that I'd actually gone to the vet last night. "Fine," I alisema eventually, "I was wrong and I'm sorry. Come on, we have work to do after we get the syringe back where it belongs before someone misses it," I ordered. I glanced over at the syringe, which was laying on one of Kowalski's counters. The tip of the needle glinted into my eye.
That's when I remembered what had happened after I hung up that phone last night. I remember seeing the doctor's face with those blank eyes and that syringe in his hand saying, "Don't worry little fella. This won't hurt at all. Without warning, a tiny area on my side suddenly came alive with a burning and pinching sensation.
I'd been injected.