by Sanjay Bheenuck
The zoo director was an aficionado of rare and exotic species. He purchased a rare frog from a dealer who was certain that a species like it had never been identified before. With the intention of protecting his new purchase, the director had the animal placed in a secure container—not on public display, behind the retile and amphibian exhibit.
The frog was an extraordinary looking creature, its body a great sliding scale of greens from bright to dull, with patches of violent yellow and wide empty eyes which felt as if they were constantly staring right through you.
In the morning the director dropped his coffee, his eyes still full of sleep. The frog had grown during the night, to such an extent that it had almost breached its container. A small group of zoo employees who were privy to the purchase gathered around the enclosure. The director came to his senses after successfully taking his morning coffee, he had the frog moved into one of the larger exhibits in the reptile and amphibian house.
However this move did not last long. The following day, a junior attendant found that the frog had breeched even this larger exhibit, and was sitting in the hallway of the reptile house staring blankly forward. The director marched in and simply could not believe his eyes. The frog has grown exponentially in the night and was now the size of small dog. It made no noise, barely made any movements, and continued to stare thoughtlessly forward. What puzzled the director and the small crowd that had now gathered, was that the frog had not touched any of it’s food. How? He wondered, how could it grow so much without eating anything?
By mid week the frog had become a major issue for the zoo. No…the major issue for the zoo. It had grown to the size of a large car. The zoo director made the decision to move the animal to the storage yard behind the zoo. He stroked his chin and sighed as he considered the practicalities.
The director assembled a team of fifteen trustworthy men, who would keep their mouths shut and not spread word of the frog. The fifteen trustworthy men walked the paved grounds of the zoo in the early morning cold. Most of them stifled a gasp at the sight of the frog, but being trustworthy, they kept the knowledge of the beast between themselves.
At first these sturdy companions tried to push the frog, but it would not budge. After an hour of pushing they sat on the floor in exhaustion, knowing that time would soon run out as the sun was moving to its zenith. Half the group disappeared, they returned some two hours later with a large flatbed truck, the kind used for transporting smaller vehicles. They tried forcing the frog from behind with a land rover onto the truck, but even this proved fruitless.
The trustworthy men were about to give up when one dropped a large case of tools, he winced as a loud crash echoed through the zoo. The frog became startled and leapt frightfully forward, the trustworthy men all looked at each other, then at the director who held back a smile. By midday and with many purposeful drops of the toolbox, the frog had been successfully corralled into the storage yard.
However this yard was visible from some areas of the street, and the frog emanated a pungent smell. The zoo began to receive complaints. The director became increasingly stressed and was not sure what to do. He paced back and forth in his office, his mind stuck on the exponentially increasing beast in the storage yard.
As the weekend approached the frog had grown to such a size that it now took up the entirety of the storage yard. With threats of a visit from the inspector and letters from city officials, the director considered desperate measures. He tweaked his wirey moustache and stared out the window of his office; over the top of the low buildings he could see the heaving bulk of the frog.
In the dim silence of Friday evening he called the gamekeeper. This grim sullen man kept a rifle secured in a gun cabinet in case of emergencies. He unlocked the cabinet, loaded the rifle and met the director beside the rusted iron gate which marked the entrance to the storage yard.
The director faced away, he abhorred violence towards animals, regardless of circumstance. He looked towards the centre of the zoo and his office. The plants swayed in the wind, the eyes of nocturnal animals reflected in the moonlight. He heard the footsteps of the gamekeeper, then two precisely placed shots. A few moments later the gamekeeper came out shaking his head. He had shot the animal twice at point blank, but the bullets had not even penetrated the frogs hide. The director dropped his head into his hands and cried out into the night. How? he thought, how could frog not be harmed by a bullet? He grabbed the rifle from the gamekeepers hands and marched into the yard, the gamekeeper followed him yelling warnings. In tense desperation the director placed the rifle barrel firmly against the frogs forehead. The gamekeeper shook his head and began to back away. The director squeezed the trigger and released a bullet into the frogs head, it immediately ricocheted, destroying the barrel and zipped backwards—a whip like crash cut through the air. He turned at the sound of a person falling. The gamekeeper lay on the ground, dark blood spilled onto the floor beneath him. The director dropped the rifle and fell to his knees. The frog croaked and looked forward with empty eyes.
You make think dynamite hard to come by. But the director’s brother worked in the quarry and made use of the substance on a daily basis. He made a noir-lit phone call in the back of his office to that less then reputable sibling. How do you get rid of a body? Can you get me some explosives? One the other end of the line the sibling nodded, twirling an unlit cigarette between his fingers, he turned to look at the quarry tower as it kicked up dust, signalling the start of the morning shift.
The director placed the phone down, poured a little whiskey into his mug and walked into the courtyard. The frog now towered over most of the zoo buildings, he had to do something…and soon. He gulped down the whisky, craned his neck to the sky and cursed the day he had purchased that frog.
His brother arrived in a dust-caked-quarry-owned landcover. He heaved his ample prison-bulked frame out of the vehicle and bent his head to light a cigarette, the morning light glinted from his hairless scalp. The director, unwashed and an unshaved, emerged trembling from his office.
His brother opened the boot to reveal an unnecessary amount of industrial explosives. The director trembled and shut the boot, his brother nodded a knowing smile. They both returned to the office to discuss their plans. The director shut the blinds and locked the door, then produced a whisky filled mug for either sibling, his hands still trembling. The brother shot a sinister smile and told him to calm down, that this would work, that if it couldn’t be shot it could be blown up and oh not to worry about the body…it was deep beneath the old quarry by now. Both men gulped down their mugged spirits, the brother leaned back in his chair, the director nervously twitched at the blinds.
The two men approached the storage yard. The director still twitching nervously, the brother ambling confidently, a cigarette hanging from his mouth. He swung the metal suitcase containing the dynamite. The director wiped sweat from his brow and told the brother to be careful, the brother simply explained that the substance cannot explode that easily.
The frog had now increased to inhabit a majority of the zoo’s western flank. It heaved and groaned between the buildings, occasionally croaking but always staring with that right-through gaze. The brother clocked the animal for the first time and cracked his knuckles, he stated that if they were going to do this they needed to do it now.
Tailing behind the siblings were five of the original fifteen trustworthy men. The director had judged this third of the initial group to be the most trustworthy. On following the brothers pre-prepared instructions they laid a vast quantity of dynamite directly under the frog and trailed the detonation wires along to the position of the brothers. They were between a small impromptu barrier made of sandbags. The director sat rubbing his eyes on the metal suitcase, the brother stood up, lit a cigarette, pulled down a pair of sunglasses and raised the detonator. The trustworthy 1/3 ran quickly to the sandbags. The director looked at his brother, he nodded; confirming the men to get ready ready non-verbally. He counted down on his fingers, one finger-the trustworthy men hit the ground, two fingers-the director vomited violently, three fingers-he smacked the detonator with the palm of his hand.
From the street passers by witnessed a biblical column of fire envelop the zoo. It soon morphed into a yellow haze of smoke and flame and swept through the buildings. A horrible wake of scorched animals emerged from the smoke. Behind the flaming stampede something terrible loomed. The crowd struggled at first to make out what it was, fire and dust still clouded its hide. Soon someone pointed and screamed…a huge frog emerged from the explosion, unharmed and ever staring into space.