Marlene slid into the penguin's headquarters and glanced round. She shivered and hugged herself to try to stay warm. It seemed so much colder without the penguins. She sighed. What had she expected by coming here?
She wandered over to the concrete block that served as their table. It was bare. Everything seemed so stark. She turned about and surveyed the blank walls, the sterile floor, the abandoned knick-knacks, the empty beds. Another sigh escaped her.
She'd hoped to somehow feel closer to them here. To pick up on their characters in the familiar habitat. But if anything the familiarity of the room only highlighted their absence. This was their room. This was where they should be. Only they weren't.
It was Julien's fault she'd come here. She couldn't face another day on her own in her habitat so she'd gone to see the lemurs, hoping they could lift her spirits. Only all he'd talked about was how the penguins had gone and in his opinion they wouldn't be seen again. That was not what Marlene needed to hear.
She strayed over to the bunks and ran her paw over the bottom bed. It felt cold. She sat down and hugged herself again, surveying the room from this new perspective. It had never seemed so big when Skipper was in here…
She leant her head back and looked about the bunk for some other sign that a penguin had once lain here. A line on one wall caught her eye and she scooted closer. As she moved nearer the outline of a rectangle became visible. Curious she reached out and pressed her paws against it. With a click a drawer sprung outwards.
Eagerly she looked in. Row upon row of cassettes filled it. With a frown she picked one out. There was nothing to indicate what was on it. She slid it back in place and sat thoughtfully.
The penguins couldn't read or write. It was one of their few weaknesses. Yet they were quite capable of utilising symbols. At least Kowalski could. He'd mastered mathematics and would have been able to at least label the cassettes in numerical order.
Perhaps the penguins didn't think they needed labelling? It might just be a random music selection. Despite what King Julien thought, Marlene knew they did like music. But what did they play them on? They'd had a hi-fi once but that was no longer here. She suddenly remembered Skipper had recorded her snoring when she'd been frightened by Roger, the alligator. Did he still have that tape player?
Quickly she hopped off the bed and began to search the room.
There were assorted odds and ends lying about. A 'ninja' bowling pin… the flag for their game… a kite… Suddenly she found what she wanted.
Hurrying back to the bunk bed she sat herself by the open drawer. A glance at the tapes suggested the oldest ones were at the back left, working towards newer ones on the front right. She grabbed what she hoped was the first one and slid it into place. Then she pressed the triangle symbol.
"How does this blasted thing work…" Her heart stopped as she recognised Skipper's voice. "Skipper's log… is this thing on?" She hit the stop button while she tried to remember to breath. That had shocked her.
She'd come here hoping to feel closer to the birds but she'd never expected to hear Skipper! As her heartbeat returned to normal she stared at the innocent looking machine that promised her the sound of his voice. Though… it had sounded different. Less assured… less confident. Younger. She realised what she'd found.
This drawer contained in essence his diary… from possibly years ago. She knew she shouldn't listen to it. These were clearly his personal thoughts. She bit her lip anxiously. But… the temptation was strong to hear his voice again. Could it hurt?
He had in fact shared his log with her once before… in a way. Down in the sewer she'd been present when he'd recorded his entry. Her voice was probably on there too. And perhaps… she swallowed… if he truly wasn't coming back… he'd left these for posterity. Maybe he wanted someone to listen to them. Why else keep them anyway?
Hesitantly she reached out for the play button. She paused a moment before pressing it down.
"Skipper's log…" She sighed.