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Chapter 10


“Ok, on the count of three,” David groaned under the heavy weight of the python.

We were helping him to move Mama to her new, much bigger enclosure, but even though it sounded easy, it was anything but. Mama was a fourteen-year-old African Rock Python, weighing roughly around 265 pounds. She was 18,8 foot in length but kept curling her body up, making our job much more difficult, since we could not distribute the weight equally amongst us when she kept moving around and changing position.

Her smooth, shiny scales felt incredibly cold and heavy in my hands and her body was so thick that I could not even close my grip around her.

We had been struggling to get her out of her current enclosure for almost twenty minutes, when Louis finally barged in the door and immediately started to chuckle at the sight of our hunched over, red-faced, panting forms.

“Are you just going to stand there or help?” I managed to growl out under her weight, but Louis, being the joker that he was, took his sweet time, enjoying the sight of our struggling.

“Augh, thank goodness,” David mumbled as soon as Louis bent down beside us and slid his thick muscled hands around Mama’s midsection.

Since reptiles were David’s specialty, he got to be the lucky one handling Mama’s head, which I was unbelievably grateful for.

“Ok, here we go, on the count of three,” David tried again, and we all lifted when he yelled the word, “lift!”

Even though we were six fully grown men carrying Mama, our legs were still buckling under her weight.

Panting heavily, we slowly, but steadily, made our way out of the Reptile House, down the cemented front steps and towards the large, outdoor display area that had already been constructed especially for her in the middle of a beautiful picnic spot.

“Almost there,” David groaned again, sounding quite strained.

We were comically shuffling along the paved open area outside, which was usually filled with visitors, but because the park had not opened yet, we got to use this precious time to things such as this; move animals around, clean out cages, do medical examinations, deworming and all the other stuff that required a hands-on approach, which we did not want the public to see.

As we made our way towards her new enclosure, my eyes fell onto a familiar black patch that had been haunting my dreams for the last week. I quickly flicked my eyes up to do a doubletake and stared at her with my mouth hanging open in surprise.

She had already spotted me and seemed to be scurrying away, trying to avoid my gaze.

“Hey wait!” I yelled out, startling all the guys around me.

They stopped dead in their tracks and tried to locate the reason for my sudden outburst; probably on high alert, thinking that something might have escaped from one of the cages.

She ignored me and acted like she had not heard me yelling over the paved public space like a lunatic.

My raven kept moving away from us and for a second, I was torn between, whether I should finish helping the guys or try to stop her from running off again.

Quickly, I flicked my eyes back to the guys and they immediately stiffened, sensing from my body language what I was about to do. David shook his head vigorously and the other’s eyes widened in shock.

I gave them an apologetic smile, before slowly lowering the snake’s body, letting them take on the weight I had been carrying.

“One second guys,” I mumbled quickly, not really giving them a chance to reply.

“No, wait!” I heard Louis groan.

“I’ll be right back,” I yelled over my shoulder, already running after my raven at the speed of light.

How the hell did she manage to move so fast?

“Hey, wait!” I hollered as I saw her approaching the exit in the distance, “Raven!”

She faltered in her step momentarily but didn’t turn around to face me.

Damn, she was too close. There was no way I was going to reach her in time before she exited.

As I ran, sweating and panting from the strain Mama had put on my body earlier, I pulled my radio from its clasp in my belt and pressed the talk button with my thumb.

“Come in please, Rachel,” I practically yelled over the radio in between my strides.

Standing by,” I heard her reply through the scratchy radio in my hand.

“There is a girl with dark hair heading your way! Do not let her out of the park!” I yelled again.

I wasn’t sure what my request must have sounded like to her, but I could hear some static noise coming from my radio, indicating that Rachel had pressed her talk button, yet she didn’t say anything. She probably didn’t know what to say.

At that point, I had no guarantee that Rachel would stop my Raven from exiting, so I merely shook my head, and forced my legs to move faster.

Will do, Conner,” I finally heard her respond and it sounded like music to my ears.

As a tinge of relief washed over me, I took a deep breath; not one to steady my harsh breathing, but rather one to calm my nerves.

I was going to do it; I was going to talk to her.

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