Deja Zoo | Reddit Writing Prompt – 4
This Reddit writing prompt is from u/maestroenglish
The apocalypse is coming. Noah heads to the zoo.
“I’ve come to collect.”
“Sorry mate I’m new here. Collect what?”
“Two of each. One of each sex. Preferably young and definitely fertile.”
“I’ll get my supervisor.”
London Zoo gets less enticing each time you visit. It’s probably the same for all zoos. (Don’t get me started on that Penguin Parade at Edinburgh.) That said, it passes an afternoon and the older you get the more appreciative you are of time-filling opportunities. It’s not well documented but I’m convinced it’s the deja vu that ultimately does for all of us. We run out of things to do that we haven’t done too many times before. I’m hoping to at least be less routine in my routines than some. For instance, I know if I wasn’t here I’d be stuck in front of the TV scoffing garibaldis and repeating myself – screaming “Deal” or “No deal,” at Noel Edmonds. (Who has great hair and not one iota of interest in my opinion).
“Hello Sir, I’m the supervisor. How can I help you?”
“You can box up two of each and drop them off at Southampton docks by 4 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.”
“That’s not going to happen sir.”
“It most certainly is! It must! The apocalypse is coming!”
“I beg your pardon sir?”
“I got a message on the mount. Well, Primrose Hill to be precise but that doesn’t make it any less poignant.”
“I’m not quite understanding you sir.”
“I need two of each – I’ve already sent my sons to commandeer a cruise liner. I’m sure there’ll be room.”
“Just excuse me for a moment please sir.”
I don’t know all about all the arguments regarding animal welfare and if or if not they should be caged and displayed. What I do know is – what I’m fairly sure of anyway – is that the gorilla hates me for looking at him. And I admire him greatly because I can sense that hate in his eyes. He’s not prepared to pretend. He sees me for who I am. A man near the end.
“This job gets worse by the week! I hate weirdos and the intellectual type well-spoken weirdos are the weirdos I hate most of all the weirdos. Patronising weirdos are far harder to have patience with. Think about it – the irony of a condescending weirdo. I’ll give him two of each fist in a minute!”
“Ha. Yeah… But calm down please – you’re worrying me a bit and he doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere so eventually one of us will have to go back out there and deal with him.”
When you get older you realise something – you realise you don’t whinge on about the old days being better because the old days were better – you realise you whinge on about the old days being better because you were younger then. And, more importantly, you were healthier then. So of course those days were better. Even though they weren’t actually better. You just think they were better. That’s nostalgia explained in a nutshell. I currently have a huge cyst on my neck, my right hip is giving me gip and I am coughing layer upon layer of my lungs up. Consequently my current days are not all that even though they’re technically better than the good old days when I was physically better.
And the gorilla still hates me. He stares without pity at the old man having enlightened thoughts on the other side of the toughened glass. He thinks he’s better than me. He may well be right. His arrogance may well be justified. (If a little harsh.) He sees through me and into me. He knows me as I know myself. Why would he pity me? I’m not surprised he despises me. That said, I suppose he’s not much better off himself.
“I’m sorry sir, I’m afraid the supervisor has been called away but he has authorised me to inform you that your request can not be carried out. l’m very sorry sir.”
“Then you leave me choice. I repeat. I need two of each and I need them quick!”
“Er… wha… whoa…sir! Sir! Please put down your weapon sir.”
“I cant do that I’m afraid. I’m doing the Lord’s work. I want the keys to every cage. I’ll take the bigger mammals first.”
“You clearly have a decision to make. Make it quick. If you decide to help me then I may decide I need an extra stowaway.”
“I… can’t… I’m not allowed… my job…”
“I don’t have time for this. Sorry.”
Beards. they’re another thing I don’t get. Half the capital look biblical these days. And they all seem so serious about it too. ‘Ooh – Look at me – I’m a fisherman in Fulham!’
“What was that noise… what’s happened here… oh, you are still here, oh my g…”
“Don’t say it, that would be blasphemy and I’m not in favour of that. Your young assistant hesitated and so, well you can see the consequences of that here for yourself. I’m going to give you the same instructions I gave him now so listen very carefully – I need the keys to all the cages.”
“Absolutely! No problem sir.”
I think they taught a gorilla to speak once. Or was it a chimpanzee? Maybe it was just a tale within a book. I wonder what this one would say. ‘Hello Lonely Old Man with no beard, what sort of sad life have you got that you choose to spend it staring at me?’ And what would I answer? Maybe I’d laugh and tell him to kiss a baboon’s backside. Maybe he’d laugh then and tell me I was alright. Tell me everything was okay…
“Out of the way Old Man, I need to get to that cage.”
Well, this is a turn up, they’ve obviously employed a new (and rather rude) monkey handler. He’s another one that’s all beard and intensity. What on earth is he doing now though..?
“Right, come along. Out you get. Follow the zebras and the marsupials.”
“Excuse me mate, but what on earth?”
“Apocalypse sir. I’ve been reliably informed. I need two of each – you must know the drill. I can’t help you though sir – no offence but you’re not young and you look like you could hardly raise a finger.”
“Cheeky f… what are you, some sort of comedian? Is this a wind up? Where’s the cameras and the rangers with the tranquilliser guns? I certainly ain’t no celebrity but you can most definitely get me out of here. Now!”
“No time sir. And no, I’m not a comedian sir and there are no cameras sir. My name is Noah and I’m on a mission.”
The gorilla slowly lolled his way out. Up close and freed he looked notably less fearsome. He bent and breathed a message into my ear.
“He should be thinking equine.”
He could obviously talk after all. And he’s made a fair point. I turn back toward Noah.
“You’ve forgotten the horses mate.”
The gorilla laughed. Then leaned down for another whisper. His breath was surprisingly fragrant.
“They’re coming now. And in more than the requisite number. Look.”
I do look and then I gasp. There’s four. The fabled four.
“What? I’m busy.”
“Over there. Look.”
“What? Wha…NO! No, no it can’t be! No! I was expecting a flood… I assumed the same as last time…”
The horsemen of the apocalypse thundered toward us. The gorilla shrugged. Then winked. Then wrapped himself around me. His arms were strong. His embrace was warm.
H. B. O’Neill is a London born writer inspired by the City and its myriad opportunity for comedy, pain, drama and adventure. He is a prize-winning poet and short story writer, a screenwriter, playwright and author.