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This is part one of a new short story for kids by Ryan Cartwright – CC:By-SA

It’s not every day that a trip to the zoo can lead to you ending up on the other side of the Galaxy

A photo of a silverback gorilla

Facing the Silverback Dominik Bartsch CC:By

It’s not every day that a trip to the zoo can lead to you ending up on the other side of the Galaxy. I mean it’s not something you expect is it? One minute you’re looking at a very bored Tapir and the next you are standing in fantastic palace before a very grumpy gorilla sitting on a large, golden throne.

The day started out okay. Well it was a bit boring if I am honest. We got up, got dressed and had breakfast. I wore my “Nature is wild” t-shirt. It’s really cool with a picture of a small deer in the mouth of a large lion. Mum doesn’t like it but I insisted that this was the perfect day to wear it. We had breakfast and set out to catch the train to the zoo. Dad had taken the day off so the whole family could go, it being half-term and all. Mum fussed over whether I was warm enough and Dad strode off at a heck of a pace towards the station. All pretty much normal. The train journey was fairly uneventful as well. After a quick change onto another line we arrived at the zoo in good time. I was keen to see the lions but my sister, Jodie, wanted to see the penguins. The penguins were nearer to the entrance so we went there first. They were pretty cute I have to say and the way they walked was quite funny. They’re swimming was amazing, particularly when you looked through the glass walls into the tank. I guess I should have realised something was up though as at one point I crawled into a bubble window to see the inside of tank and suddenly all the penguins swam over towards me. For a second I thought they were pointing at me but as I turned to tell my Dad the keeper arrived with a bucket of fish and they all swam off towards her.

Something similar happened at the reptile house. When I looked into the Komodo dragon enclosure one of them spotted me and, quick as a flash, ran over towards me. Others spotted it and ran over as well. By the time we had covered half the zoo I was getting very worried. Not only were the zoo animals apparently attracted to me but there was a growing collection of seagulls, pigeons and insects all seemingly following me. We asked a zoo keeper what might be the problem but he just said the animals probably mixed me up with a keeper and came over for food. When I asked why the birds and insects were following me, he said I was probably imagining it and they often hang around the zoo.

If he had been with us at the Ape house he would have changed his mind. The pride of the zoo is a large silverback called Titan. You’d recognise him from all the posters, bags, t-shirts, caps, badges, stickers, mugs and stationery with his picture on. When we arrived he was sitting in a hammock strung between two trees. As soon as we turned the corner and could see him, he started staring at me. Then, slowly he got up and walked over to our side of the enclosure. Normally being approached by a gorilla of that size would be quite frightening but we had a wall and a deep, wide pit between us so I wasn’t that worried. I was surprised though because he wouldn’t take his eyes off me. Actually as he got close I realised he couldn’t take his eyes off my t-shirt.

“Do you like this shirt?” I asked in a patronising voice. The gorilla just stared at me then turned and walked away again. He disappeared into the buildings at the back of the enclosure and after a while reappeared with something in his hand. It looked like a brick but as he got closer I saw that it was a piece of carved, dark wood. I have to say I was transfixed. I stood there watching the huge, magnificent animal as it strode around the enclosure. He climbed up onto a platform and sat down. The wood was still in his hand and he held it up to his mouth as if to chew it. Suddenly he launched it high into the air and we all looked to see it flying towards us. It landed with a clatter behind me. Nobody spoke but some let out a grasp. The gorilla looked me in the eye and gestured towards the piece of wood behind me. Did he want me to throw it back? If so I doubt I could get it across the trench, let alone as far as the platform. I turned and went over to it.

“Don’t touch it!” Dad said, “You might catch germs from the gorilla.”

“Or pass some onto him.” Mum added.

“He wants me to throw it back.” I said, bending down to it. The carving was very intricate and detailed. I could see what looked like writing on the underside and, without thinking, I turned it over. As soon as I touched it there was a bright flash of white light and all of the noises of the zoo stopped. I must have passed out because for a second I couldn’t see. Then gradually my sight returned and I realised I was lying on the floor. I stood up and brushed myself down. That was when I realised the floor had changed. Where there had been concrete, now there was polished marble. Also, where I had been out in the open before, now I was in a large room. Around the edges of the room were ornate chairs and the walls were decorated with silk fabric of the richest blues, purples and reds. The chairs were carved and covered in gold. In each chair sat an occupant who held a white tube about a quarter of a metre long with gold caps on the ends.

Each occupant was an ape of some kind. There were orangutans with large heads, chimpanzees sitting crossed-legs and gorillas with stern looks on their faces. I saw a wide strip of purple carpet stretch from some huge doors to a set of steps at one end of the room. At the top of the steps was a large, golden throne with long waves of white silk draped over it. On the throne sat a large silverback gorilla who leaned towards me and beckoned me with a finger. I stood rooted to the spot. I had no idea whether this was a dream or not but even if it was, it was one of the weirdest I’d ever had. The silverback again beckoned me closer with it’s finger. I started to walk towards the throne when a cough to one side made me turn and look. One of the chimps was bowing its head and indicated I should do the same. I did and continued walking until I reached the edge of the carpet. Not knowing what to do next I stood there, with my head bowed.

The silverback stood and walked down the steps to me. It took my chin gently in its hand and turned my head to each side as if inspecting it. I have to say I was petrified. I knew enough about gorillas to know that with one arm this creature could deliver a blow which would kill me. After a few moments of this inspection the silverback let go of my chin and stepped back a bit. Then something really weird happened and, considering what kind of day it had been, that’s saying something. The silverback spoke. It looked around the room and spoke with a loud, deep voice.

“So this is the one. This is the human child the prophecy speaks of?”

An orangutan stood and spoke “Lord Titan seems quite certain of it my king. He says he was told the boy had arrived at the zoo but refused to believe it. When the child arrived at the enclosure Lord Titan saw for himself and was immediately convinced.”

“This cloth the child wears,” the silverback replied, stroking my shirt, “how close to the description in the prophecy is it?”

“It is a perfect match my king.” The orangutan responded.

“Then he must be the one.” The gorilla said. Then it turned to me and said “And you child, what do you have to say for yourself, can you do it?”

I suppose saying something, anything would have helped but all I could do was stand there with my mouth open.

The final part

Part four

Part three

Part two

ebook

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