CHAPTER TWENTY

THE POUNDING ON THE DOOR WOKE HIM THIS TIME – FROM A DEEP SLUMBER. THAT DIDN’T MAKE ANY SENSE TO THE GUARD. HE NEVER FELL ASLEEP AT WORK.  EVER. THE LAST THING HE RECALLED WAS… ODD. HE COULDN’T REMEMBER THE LAST THING HE REMEMBERED.  HE LIFTED HIS GIRTH FROM THE CHAIR AND OPENED THE DOOR TO HIS MONITOR ROOM.

He was trying not to appear groggy as he attempted a hello.   Not at all sure if he pulled it off. “S’figured you’d be by… so… hey.”

Lincoln and Cook exchanged looks: Is this guy drunk? Was he sleeping? Does it matter?

 “We’d like to see the surveillance footage from around the zoo – about two hours ago,” Said Gail, indicating her detective’s shield.

“Of course, Ma’am,” He said, discreetly collapsing back into his well-worn chair.   “Right here.”  His fingers danced over the controls and the footage from cameras 23 through 33 rewound backwards.

Though the two detectives saw nothing of interest until the moment Officer Greer spotted the Creature off-camera and fired his gun, the Guard alone noticed something was wrong.   This was not the footage he had queued up earlier. That was when he remembered the tall thin man with the reptilian features.

Because he no longer had the footage, the Guard thought it was in his best interest not to say anything about the man.   Instead he said “Sorry, nothing helpful I’m afraid.”

From where he was standing behind the Guard, Lincoln noticed the large bit on the back of his neck: a large insect?

“That’s some bite, Buddy,” Noted Lincoln.

The Guard reached back and noticed it for the first time. “Yeah.  Mosquitos are brutal this time of year. Especially right off the lake.”

Lincoln stared past him at the multitude of screens.   Nothing seemed out of the ordinary on any of them.   Even the press and the onlookers had mostly wondered away at that point.

“I don’t get it. It had to have been a pack of wild dogs,” Lincoln said softly to himself.   “But where are they?  Where did they come from?   Where did they go?”

“Wider, please,” Said Gail.

“I’m sorry, Ma’am?” Replied the Guard.

“If we can’t find the dogs, lets find her.  I want to find the moment she entered the park,” Gail said.   The Guard manipulate the controls and dozens of cameras silently digitally whirled back nearly three hours.

“There!  Stop!” Shouted Gail, pointing to one camera that indicated it was located at the entrance of West 93rd Street.   It showed a woman, barefoot, dressed in a long cotton robe.   There was too much blood on the victim to tell her exact hair color – but this mysterious, beautiful but blurred young woman… it must be her.

“That’s as far as we monitor off park grounds, Ma’am,” He said as his fingers moved over the keyboards, hoping track the woman in the white dress entering the park.   A follow-up image didn’t appear.  “I’m afraid you’ll have to go out there and check for yourself.”