As I was finishing up with readjusting the swing in the racoons’ enclosure, when my phone made an electronic beep, indicating that I have received a text message.
Before even looking at it, I knew exactly who it was.
I’m here xx
Melena’s message popped up onto my screen as soon as I slid my finger across its smooth, glass surface to unlock it.
An involuntary, goofy smile instantly took over every inch of my face and excitement bubbled up deep in my gut, knowing that I will get to see her in just a few minutes.
Just finishing up, I’ll be right out.
I texted her back swiftly.
Without waiting for a reply, I quickly started gathering up my things and opened up the racoons’ sleeping quarters for the evening. Not that it seemed to faze them at all. Most of them lay snuggly, curled up into hanging baskets lining of the back wall of their enclosure, fast asleep, while one large male sat near the entrance stretching lazily and yawning like a little boss. He eyed me with disinterest as I walked past him and didn’t even attempt to scurry out when I opened the cage’s door.
Great, I’ll wait under the same tree as last time.
Melena’s reply came and I briskly walked back to Louis’ shop to pack away the few tools I had borrowed from him earlier.
“Your attention please, the park will be closing in ten minutes time, please make your way towards the exit.”
It was the loud, PA-system echoing throughout the park from numerous speakers scattered around all the public areas.
Since Rachel had been in the office, she was the one to make the announcement and for a second, I wondered how the interaction between her, and Melena must have gone just a few moments ago. Melena had to have entered through the main gate and in doing so, had to walk past Rachel.
“Hey, Louis, here are your tools back,” I said as soon as I stepped into his shop.
“Thanks, Man, just sign them back in,” he replied without even looking up.
I placed them into their respective places and pulled the logbook closer to sign everything back in.
“Alright, that’s me,” Louis said while grabbing his backpack from a nearby cabinet, “see you tomorrow.”
“Drive safe,” I replied just as the final announcement echoed throughout the park.
“Your attention please, this is the last call for remaining visitors to exit the park, please make your way towards the exit.”
Just to make sure Melena didn’t think about leaving, I quickly sent her another, brief text message; You don’t count as a visitor, stay put.
It took me another fifteen, agonizing minutes to get all my admin done for tomorrow morning so that I will know exactly where to pick things up again and not forget to check on the Vervet Monkey’s injured foot.
When I finally made it back into the park, everyone had left, and it seemed like a ghost town. I loved this time of the day because all the obnoxious visitors have gone home, and you were left completely alone with all the animal sounds and smells surrounding you.
I stepped into the paved clearing and saw that Rachel has already left and locked the front gate. It wasn’t a problem since my van was parked at the back anyways and I had a remote for the private gate at the furthest, staff exit.
My eyes drifted to the bench where Melena was waiting for me, and within an instant, all the blood drained from my face.
She was laying on the ground struggling, trapped underneath two large hunched over male bodies. It looked like they were assaulting her and trying to tie her up.
My feet started running in their direction within seconds and adrenaline pulsed through my veins violently.
When I saw one of the males pull his arm back and hit my girl in the face forcefully, I lost it.
Without thinking about any possible side effects, I pulled the park’s dart pistol from my belt and fired a shot at the male who had hit her.
The split second he took to grasp the dart sticking out of his side and look for the cause, Melana had wrapped her legs around the other guy’s neck and rolled over, pulling him along with her.
She did another, half-roll and used all of her weight to jerk his body upward into an unnatural angle, bending his neck backwards harshly. Right in front of my eyes, his body went limp and the other guy with the dart threw himself at Melena again.
Everything was happening so fast and for a moment I wasn’t sure which side needed my help the most, but since the big guy hit a lady, I am naturally against him.
He had his arms wrapped around Melena’s neck from behind and she was clawing at him with something sharp because blood was spewing uncontrollably from the gashes she had inflicted.
When I finally reached them, I grabbed him by his shoulder and yanked him backwards forcefully, ripping him away from Melena.
He fell onto the hard ground with a thud and struggled to get back up since the sedative was already taking action. We watched in horror as his eyes rolled back into his skull, and he slumped down into an unconscious, bloody mess.