24. The Beast Unleashed

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Bob wasn’t quite sure what to do with his freedom. It had taken a day and a night for him to realize his handlers weren’t coming back. He’d always wondered if he could just reach through the bars, grab the key from the hook with his special paw, put the key in the lock and turn it. It was easy. Everything seemed easier now for some reason. In fact, over the last few days he’d even been able to understand what the handlers were discussing. He knew that something was very, very wrong.

Bob’s pen was surrounded by a high fence and the main gate was also locked, with no key in sight. Although he had always longed for the mountains, rivers and plains of his younger years, he’d never previously considered escape. But now he didn’t have much choice. The handlers had gone and he’d already eaten all his food. With the decision made, he set to work on the fence with his teeth and his special paw.

By the time he’d made a large enough space to fit his bulky frame through, Bob was very hungry. His pen was quite close to an entrance and – as he was also curious about what lay outside the zoo – he walked towards it. At the entrance, the route divided into lots of small paths with metal barriers between little buildings. Bob stopped for a moment and compared his special paw with one of the barriers. They weren’t all that different.

He climbed over and followed a long, tree-lined path that eventually emerged onto a wide street. Bob could smell so many different smells that it was almost overwhelming. He nosed his way to an abandoned carton of food and devoured it immediately. Then he took a moment to gaze at the soaring buildings in the distance. He was surprised; he had expected the city to be busier than this. There also didn’t seem to be any of those metal vehicles around.

However, he did see two young men coming towards him – on two small vehicles that they seemed to power with their legs. Bob rose up on his hind legs to get a better view.


The two youths skidded to a halt and one almost fell off.

‘It’s a Grizzly – in the middle of San Lazaro! Can this week get any weirder?’

‘Those things can do thirty-five! You’re not supposed to run.’

‘We’re on bikes. Let’s go!’

Bob watched the pair speed away. His nose had picked up another smell; his favorite smell in the world. Meat.

He ate until he could eat no more. It seemed that something – or someone – had been here before him. The back of the long vehicle was open and many of the boxes had been emptied. It was cold, and some of the meat wasn’t all that tasty but Bob couldn’t remember the last time he had enjoyed himself so much. He jumped out of the vehicle onto the street and went to sit under a nearby tree to rest.

He was thinking about walking back to the zoo when he heard a shout. Emitting a grunt as he got to his feet, Bob watched as the two young men on their strange vehicles came speeding past. When they saw him they panicked, crashed into each other and ended up on the ground.

‘I told you we shouldn’t have come back this way!’

‘What choice did we have?’

‘I don’t believe this - caught between a bear and two Crazies.’

One of them was examining his vehicle. ‘No time to fix it. Let’s run!’

‘What if he comes after us! Look, he’s all covered in blood.’

‘Then he’s already eaten. Run!’

Bob watched the pair sprint across the street towards a very large building.

Then he saw two more men coming in his direction. Strangely, they didn’t seem scared of him. Even more strangely, they were dressed like no other people Bob had ever seen. Both had colored metal helmets on their heads and bulging shoulders. Their clothes were also brightly colored and both had something black daubed under their eyes.

Bob somehow knew they were different to other humans; and that he hated them. They were just things. So when they attacked him; he fought back as hard as he could.

The first clubbing blow of his left paw hit only a metal helmet but sent the thing flying. The second thing pulled out a small black object and aimed it at Bob’s head. Before he could use it, Bob grabbed the object with his special right paw and crushed it.

The first thing had by now recovered and it kicked Bob in the side of the head. Though he barely noticed the blow, Bob reached out with his special paw and grabbed the thing around the neck. He threw it with all his might. It flew through the air and smashed into the side of the vehicle. Something cracked loudly as it hit the ground. It did not move again.  

The other thing lashed a punch at Bob that caught him on the nose. Bellowing, he reared up then came down on the thing, pinning it with both front paws. The thing couldn’t move but it looked up at him with its odd, dead eyes. Bob drew back and raked his left paw across its throat, killing it in an instant.

Bob moved off his victim and looked at the two bodies. Even in death, he hated these things. He was glad the young men had escaped. He knew that there were good people and bad people but these things were just … wrong. They had to be killed.

Bob found a puddle and drank. He was surprised by how strong he felt. A fight usually sapped his energy but he felt as if he could fight on and on and on; especially against his new enemies.

Seeing that the sun was low, he finished drinking and set off towards the zoo. He almost hoped he saw another of them –  just so he could tear it apart.