Previous Story: 41. The Blackout
Walter ran along the fence and dropped down beside Jugger. The elephant was standing on one of the main zoo paths, stripping bark from a tree with her tusks then eating it.
I didn’t know you liked that stuff.
It’s not bad, replied Jugger miserably. And there’s nothing else left.
Walter had done his best to help the group find food but it was especially difficult for the larger animals. He thought chimpanzees ate a lot but their appetites were small compared to Jugger or Bob the bear.
What about you? asked the elephant.
I got the last of those food packets from the human machines. Only two but it’s better than nothing.
What about the fig trees you found?
The figs are all gone. I think Bob had most of them.
Walter watched as Jugger stripped more bark off. One piece fell close to him on the path.
Doesn’t look all that appetizing.
Not as good as what the humans used to give us. And there was such variety!
I know. I used to have ten bananas a day.
Ten? That wouldn’t keep me going for long.
Walter looked around. He’d spent most of the day fiddling with the food machines. Where is everyone?
Athena is off scouting. Howl is sleeping. The last time I saw Bob he was rolling around, groaning. Doesn’t feel too well.
Probably those figs, replied Walter. He eats so quickly!
I know, said Jugger. I would have liked some myself but he gets very protective about his food. I like Bob but he can be frightening sometimes.
Oh, hello Jane! Walter had noticed that the metallic cat often seemed to appear out of nowhere. It seemed to be a particular skill of cats.
Hello, Walter. Hello, Jugger. Jane watched the elephant stripping the tree then walked over to another one and rubbed her side against it.
What are you doing? asked Walter.
Good question, replied Jane. I can’t really feel it but old habits die hard.
Jugger and I were talking about food, said Walter. How are you getting on?
Not too bad. There are still a few snakes left in the reptile house.
Jugger stopped stripping and turned towards the cat. Walter had to duck to avoid being struck by her flying trunk.
You eat those, Jane? asked the elephant. Bob told me they’re rotten.
Well they don’t taste nice, it’s true, but that doesn’t really matter to me. When the humans gave me my new body, they did something to my insides. I can eat pretty much anything.
Lucky you, said Jugger.
As the elephant continued eating bark, Howl came loping along the path. Sitting calmly upon his back was Athena the bald eagle.
Listen, said Howl, Athena spotted a big green area not far from the ocean. It’s a long trip but we might be able to find more food there. I’ve had enough of living on scraps.
Sounds good to me, said Walter.
I’ve already eaten, said Jane. I’ll stay here.
I’ll stay and keep watch, added Jugger. If you’re going, be careful. Very careful. Athena, if there are any problems you fly back and get me.
I will, answered the bird, flapping her wings with excitement.
Do you think Bob will come? asked Howl.
Maybe not, said Walter. He’s not very well.
There’s a chance of food, said Athena. Trust me, he’ll come.
Next Story: 43. What Do Animals Eat? Part 2