Doc ran as fast as he could toward the zoo entrance, still fending off the few ducks and geese which had managed to keep up with him. As he was running past the petting zoo, a small goat suddenly barreled out of nowhere and butted him hard in the hip, almost knocking him off his feet. The next thing he knew he was surrounded by sheep and goats and baby llamas, all butting at him and trying to knock him down.
Doc pushed past the baby animals and continued to run, reaching the front gates. He could barely catch the sight of movement in the trees above him but he didn't stop to look closely. He was focused on reaching the Big Bologna as quickly as possible.
Bolting across the lamp-lit parking lot with the crowd of animals close behind, Doc scrambled to reach the van, pulling open the door and leaping inside. He turned to close the door and had to push several ducks and goats back before he could managed to pull it shut, locking it.
The sound of animals surrounded the Big Bologna, which began to rock slightly as it was being buffeted from all sides. Doc ran to the radio and picked up the microphone, realizing that Doc Tari probably had lied about calling the police himself.
Meanwhile, across town:
"Are you sure these aliens are going to show up?" Sgt. Vinton asked skeptically.
"Absolutely!" Klinsinger assured him.
The two men were leaning back in lawn chairs which had been set side by side out in the middle of the field where the television transmission tower used to stand. They were both looking up at the darkening sky, although Klinsinger had his goggles over his eyes.
"This seems like a waste of time to me," Sgt. Vinton complained.
"Just you wait," Klinsinger sighed to himself. "I'll win awards with this report. 'Alien menace exposed!' Oh, but don't be surprised if they look like raccoons. That's just their way of hiding their true identity."
Sgt. Vinton eyed Klinsinger as if he had lost his mind.
"Doc calling Sgt. Vinton! Sgt. Vinton, if you're there pick up! It's an emergency!"
Sgt. Vinton reached over to pick up his radio and hit the button. "Vinton here. What's up, Doc?" He looked to Klinsinger and laughed, saying, "I've always wanted to say that."
"Send help to the zoo right away!" Doc urged. "We're under attack!"
"Under attack?" Vinton asked with surprise.
"Oh, they're just laboring under the misconception that lemurs are behind all this," Klinsinger scoffed. "Pay no attention to them."
"What kind of attack?" Sgt. Vinton asked.
"Doc Tari, the zoo's director, is controlling the animals!" Doc reported. "He stole the transmission tower and I'm sure he plans to use it to control all of the animals in town!"
Suddenly there was a loud splash and Doc turned in time to see Mr. Featherstone lurching from his tank. Doc managed to pull his hand away from the flashing, sharp teeth just in time. "Oh no! Et tu, Mr. Featherstone?" Doc gasped.
"I'll be there right away!" Sgt. Vinton promised Doc, and he got up from the lawn chair.
"You're leaving?" Klinsinger asked in a hurt voice. "But what about the aliens?"
"If we're lucky the aliens will abduct you and you can get a first-hand interview with them," Sgt. Vinton sighed. "I don't know what's going on at the zoo, but it sounds a heck of a lot more interesting than what's happening here!"
Sgt. Vinton crossed the field to his patrol car.
"Just you wait!" Klinsinger shouted. "I'll prove to everyone that I'm right! The aliens are out there! I'll prove it to the world!" Finding himself alone in the field, Klinsinger huddled nervously, sighing, "It sure is dark out here. Mommy!"
I tried to climb higher in the branches as the tree lurched unsteadily to one side. The antelope were swinging their antlers at my legs, trying to knock me off my already precarious perch. All at once the tree lurched violently in the opposite direction as several zebra rammed it all at once and I had to wrap my arms around a thick branch to keep from being tossed down into the mass of large bodies below.
Suddenly the zebras and antelope stepped aside, leaving a circle around the base of the tree. I couldn't understand what was happening until I heard heavier footsteps approaching. Suddenly a large head burst through the branches beside me and lunged at me. I ducked aside at the last second as the giraffe pulled back, sizing up my location. I had nowhere else to duck, so I closed my eyes and braced myself as the giraffe's head came at me, slamming its two horns painfully into my side. I lost my grip on the branch and felt myself toppling out of the tree. Once I hit the ground I knew I would be trampled and gored within seconds.
But before I hit the ground something else slammed into me. I thought for sure that some animal had rammed me, only instead of falling down I was moving sideways, bursting through the group of startled zebras and antelope, which had no choice but to be shoved aside, and then continuing on down the paths at an incredible rate of speed.
"Nice of you to drop by," Bugs said as he continued to run.
I threw my arms around Bugs' shoulders to brace myself against the dizzying speed. "Nice of you to give me a lift!" I replied. "We have to get to the veterinary center right away!"
"No problem!" Bugs said, and he made a beeline for the clinic. It was amazing the number and variety of animals we passed on the way, some of them attempting to stop us but unable to keep up with or comprehend Bugs' super speed.
We reached the veterinary center and Bugs burst in through the front door before coming to a stop. He set me down on my feet and I wobbled unsteadily.
"Oh, how can you stand to go that fast?" I asked, waiting for the dizziness to pass.
"Ask the cheetah," Bugs panted.
"You outran a cheetah?" Anna asked with surprise.
"They're fast but they have no stamina," Bugs explained, still panting to catch his breath. "I, on the other hand, had to run around the zoo twice before I found P.T. Those directional maps are hard to read when you're running by them at high speed."
Having heard Anna's voice, I stumbled to the cage. "Are you okay?" I asked.
"For now," Anna said, motioning to the opening behind her where Sasha was still trying to get through. The huge tiger had managed to push the door up several more inches. I ran to the lever to try to lower the door again, but it was impossible with the tiger wedged partway through.
Doc Tari was standing by his radio set, looking at us with some surprise.
"He's controlling the animals!" Anna said. "And he's going to use the transmitter to control all of the animals in town!"
"I think they've figured that out for themselves by now," Doc Tari assured her.
"We're not going to allow you to carry our your nefarious plans, Doc Tari!" I said. "Bugs, get him!"
Bugs was bent over, still breathing hard. He held up a finger. "Give me a minute to catch my breath and I'll pummel him so badly he'll resemble elephant dung," Bugs promised.
Doc Tari picked up the radio microphone and said into it, "Tiny . . . take care of the little guy with the glasses for me, will you?"
"Tiny?" Bugs laughed, still panting. "You expect me to be afraid of someone called . . . ?"
The side of the building suddenly came crashing in and a huge African bull elephant stepped inside. Bugs stood straight to face the elephant just as it swung its trunk, knocking him clear across the room.
"Bugs!" Anna and I cried out.
"Tiny, crush him!" Doc Tari ordered into the microphone.
We watched helplessly as Bugs sat up against the wall of the clinic where he'd been thrown as Tiny walked over to him, lifting his huge foot. Tiny brought his massive foot down just as Bugs reached up to hold it off. Poor Bugs was pinned against the wall using what little strength he had left to keep the elephant's foot from crushing him.
"This has got to come to an end!" I said angrily, heading for Doc Tari.
"Doomsday, stop him," Doc Tari ordered into the microphone. Doomsday stepped between me and Doc Tari and roughly pushed me away.
I didn't want to fight Doomsday. I knew he had no control over what he was doing. "Doomsday, you don't want to protect this man," I said. "He's evil!"
"Too bad he can't understand you," Doc Tari sneered. "Although I'm sure he'll understand this." He picked up the microphone and said, "Doomsday . . . let Ashin have the pleasure of killing him."
"No!" Anna cried out suddenly. I didn't think I wanted to know why she was so immediately horrified.
Doomsday walked over to one of the cages on the other side of the room and started to open it.
I looked over to Anna, who was clutching the bars of her cage. "Run!" she urged desperately.
"No," I said, speaking loudly enough for Doomsday to hear. "Doomsday was right. Animals are naturally good. And so is Doomsday. I can't believe he could willingly do something to hurt us. It's not in his nature. And somewhere inside of him he has the strength to fight this, I know it."
"I sure hope you're right, P.T.!" Bugs grunted, still somehow managing to hold off Tiny's foot. "Because I don't think Ashin is going to listen to you!"
I looked to Doomsday and saw the huge Burmese python slithering from the cage and gathering at his feet. It was easily eighteen feet in length. I allowed myself a large gulp and half thought about taking Anna's advice and making a run for it. But looking through the large opening in the wall where Tiny had made his unforgettable entrance I could see the glow of countless eyes peering in and knew there would be no easy escape either way.
Doomsday said something to the snake and then pointed in my direction. The python began slithering toward me and I instinctively backed away. "Doomsday!" I said urgently. "Listen to me! You don't want to do this!"
"Doomsday, ignore him," Doc Tari said casually into the microphone.
"No!" I shouted, backing up against the wall. "Doomsday! You don't have to do what he says! You can fight it! You can still save us!"
Sasha growled and pushed her shoulders in through the opening, swiping at Anna, who leapt away.
"Come on, Doomsday," I pleaded, pressing my back against the wall as the python reached my feet. "You don't want to hurt us. We're your friends! And Doc Tari is being cruel to all of these animals!"
"Yeah, Doomsday!" Bugs groaned sarcastically, the weight of the elephant quickly becoming too much for him. "Think of these poor, defenseless animals!"
Doomsday stood, staring at me, his eyes still glazed over. The snake began winding up my leg and I continued to press my back against the wall, hoping I could somehow keep the huge snake from coiling around my waist or chest.
I stared deep into Doomsday's eyes, trying desperately to get through to him as the snake began inching up past my waist, looking for a hold. "Doomsday, please. Come on, snap out of it! You have to help us!"
Sasha made another desperate push into the Anna's cage, working herself in even further as she growled and snarled.
"Doomsday, please help us!" Anna cried.
Bugs let out a loud moan as Tiny's foot pushed closer to his chest. "Come on, Doomsday! Help us!"
Suddenly I thought I saw a spark of doubt and confusion in Doomsday's eyes. He blinked, then shook his head, looking confused. "What's going on?" he asked. He looked from me to Anna to Bugs in horror and then turned to Doc Tari, who seemed startled.
"No, stop it!" Doomsday cried, running to try to pull Ashin off me, but the snake wouldn't let go. Doomsday talked to it, but it was no use. He then grabbed the bars of Anna's cage and shouted, "Sasha! Calm down!" He tried talking to the tiger but she kept growling and pushing through the opening. Doomsday then ran to Bugs and yelled, "Tiny, don't! You'll kill him!" He spoke to the elephant but it kept pressing down on Bugs even more.
Doc Tari started to laugh. "I'm moved by your faith in your friend, but you forgot one thing. I still control the animals! When Doomsday's not in my control, he can't even communicate with them!"
"Yeah, that was kind of an important thing to forget, P.T.!" Bugs complained with a grunt.
"Sorry!" I apologized as I felt myself being pulled away from the wall by Ashin's weight.
"Let them go!" Doomsday cried.
"Um, let me think about that," Doc Tari smirked. He thought a moment, then answered, "No."
"The radio!" I shouted as I fell forward, giving Ashin the opportunity to finally wrap his coils around my torso. "He controls the animals using the radio!"
Doomsday made a run for the radio but Doc Tari was quicker, snatching up the microphone and shouting, "Adofo! Stop him!"
All at once a gigantic silverback gorilla burst into the room and lunged at Doomsday. I tried to shout, but couldn't get my breath. The python's coils were constricting tight around my chest and I couldn't draw in any air. Anna let out a scream as Sasha pushed further into her cage. Bugs tried valiantly to push the elephant's foot off him but was losing strength fast. It certainly looked like the end for all of us.
Doc struggled to keep his balance as he frantically tweaked the knobs of the radio. This wasn't easy because he was standing on one foot with his back to the machine and had to reach awkwardly behind him to work the controls. His other foot was in Mr. Featherstone's mouth. He had raised his foot to try to ward off another attack by the shark and Mr. Featherstone had bitten into his sneaker and refused to let go. Making everything even more difficult was the fact that the Big Bologna was rocking wildly from side the side, completely surrounded by animals trying desperately to get inside.
"He must use a specific tone at a specific frequency," Doc thought aloud. "But what is the correct combination to counteract it?" He tried another pair of settings with no result.
Doc was startled when he heard numerous creatures scampering across the top of the van. He could see several monkeys hanging down over the windshield, pounding at it with their feet. Their screeching was deafening, and Doc knew if they broke through the glass and got inside they could easily tear him apart.
"Come on!" he moaned, twisting the knobs to a different combination of ultra-high frequency settings. "One of these has to be right!" He hit the switch, sending the tone out across the airwaves. A moment later Mr. Featherstone let go of his sneaker. The Big Bologna stopped rocking and things grew quiet.
"That's it!" Doc realized, boosting the settings to carry over a wider area.
Mr. Featherstone made a series of confused mumbling noises.
"Of course your mouth tastes like sneaker rubber!" Doc said. "You've been eating my shoe for the past ten minutes!" He stepped back from the radio and sighed. "Let's just hope I'm not too late!"
Doomsday struggled as the gorilla grabbed him, holding his arms roughly behind his back.
"Easy there, Adofo," Doc Tari urged the gorilla through the microphone. "I still need this one. He's going to prove to be very useful to me, once I entrance him again."
"I'll never do your bidding again!" Doomsday insisted.
"Oh, you will," Doc Tari promised. "Right after you watch your friends die."
Doomsday continued to struggle desperately, crying out in anguish at being unable to come to our aid.
Suddenly everything grew strangely quiet. Doomsday felt Adofo's grip on his arms loosen. Before he knew it, the gorilla started to casually pick through his hair.
"Adofo!" Doomsday exclaimed, realizing the gorilla was no longer in a trance. The gorilla hugged Doomsday like a long-lost friend.
Excusing himself, Doomsday hurried over to Bugs. Tiny was looking confused and Doomsday quickly spoke to the elephant, helping him lift his foot away from Bugs before setting it down. Bugs sighed with relief, struggling to get to his feet.
As Doomsday moved away, Bugs saw Doc Tari moving toward the radio and lunged at him, pulling him back and shouting, "Oh no, you don't!"
"Hurry!" Anna cried as Doomsday ran over to me.
I was still finding it hard to breath, as Ashin's grip was still tight around my chest. Doomsday spoke to the snake and it finally loosened its coils as Doomsday took the reptile's tail and worked to pull it off me.
Anna breathed a sigh of relief and then looked down at Sasha, who was laying quietly on her side, exhausted. "Oh, poor Sasha!" she cooed, patting the tiger's fur and comforting her.
Bugs was struggling to hold on to Doc Tari, but he was still weak after his long struggle with the elephant, so the man was able to break free and again lunged for the radio.
Doomsday shouted something to Adofo, who leapt at Doc Tari, scaring the man back. Adofo then used his huge fists to smash the radio into pieces. Doc Tari stood motionless for a moment, then ran out through the hole in the wall and past the confused animals.
"He's getting away," I gasped as Doomsday helped me to my feet.
"Stay here and rest," Doomsday said, and he turned to run through the opening in the wall, calling the animals to join him as they disappeared into the night.
"Oh, P.T., are you all right?" Anna asked worriedly as I slowly limped over to her cage.
"I'm okay," I assured her breathlessly.
Bugs brought over the key and unlocked the cage door. Anna rushed out and threw her arms around me, hugging me.
"Ow! Ow!" I cried, then smiled painfully, "Please . . . not so tight!"
"Doc did it," Bugs said. "He must have figured out how to break Doc Tari's control over the animals."
"Thank goodness for Doc," I sighed, then realized, "Doomsday's gone after Doc Tari on his own. We'd better help him. We can't let that megalomaniac get away."
Bugs and I were still exhausted, but we walked out of the building with Anna and looked around, trying to figure out which way they had gone.
Suddenly we heard a sharp, loud cry for help. Thankfully we recognized it as Doc Tari's voice.
"I would guess they're over in that direction," Bugs pointed, and we followed the sound down the path and around the bend to the alligator's exhibit.
As we approached the pool we saw a large number of animals gathered around the exhibit. Doomsday was standing among them and we approached him.
"I think we have the situation well under control," Doomsday informed us.
We could see several large orangutans sitting on the rocks at the center of the exhibit, holding onto Doc Tari by the arms. Occasionally they were lowering him down to where the alligators below were swimming, allowing the alligators to snap dangerously close to the man's feet before pulling him back up.
"No! No, stop it! Let me go!" Doc Tari cried like a child. His white suit was now torn and soiled.
"I told them not to hurt him," Doomsday explained. "But after I explained what he'd done to them, they seemed to want to have a little fun before we turn him over to the police."
"And you said animals were naturally good?" Bugs asked Doomsday.
"I'm sure Doc Tari would take comfort in that knowledge about now," I commented with a smile, hooking a playful arm around Doomsday's neck.
"Doc calling anyone," Doc's concerned voice came over our radios. "Come in anyone! Are you guys okay?"
Bugs lifted his radio and pushed the button, answering, "We're doing just fine, Doc. In fact, I'd say we were all enjoying the show."
" . . . so Doc Tari would use one tone on a particular ultra-high frequency to hypnotize the animals, then issue instructions on that same frequency. He could later bring them out of it by using a different tone. But he only had the zoo's walkie talkie system to work with which didn't go much beyond the parameter of the zoo. So he thought that by stealing stronger equipment and the transmission tower he could broadcast over a wider range and turn all the animals in town into his slaves."
Doc was standing outside the Big Bologna explaining the situation to Sgt. Vinton, who was looking decidedly confused. It's not clear if he was confused by Doc's explanation or by the animals which were still running around the parking lot. Some of the animals were still trying to get at the already traumatized Doc Tari as the man was put into the back of a police car and driven away.
"It's going to be a quite a job getting all of the animals back into their enclosures," Anna sighed.
"I can help," Doomsday said, and he turned to the animals present and spoke to them in turn. Slowly they started making their way back into the zoo.
"They'll spread the word to the others," Doomsday explained. "All they want to do now is get back to their dens and have a good sleep."
"That sounds like a good idea!" Bugs yawned.
"I can't thank you enough for your help," Anna smiled, then she added, "You all have a free pass to the zoo any time you like!"
"Oh boy! Thanks!" Doomsday smiled happily. Bugs and I just exchanged a look and smiled politely.
"It's a shame you don't want to be a zookeeper," Anna said to Doomsday. "We could sure use someone with your talents here."
"I could come down and volunteer sometimes," Doomsday offered. "But my heart is dedicated to C.A.P.E.R first and foremost."
"And speaking of dedicated," I broke in, walking over to Anna. "This is dedicated to the one I love." I began to sing a romantic ballad to her, swaying her gently in my arms.
"They really are perfect for each other," Bugs sighed.
"Yeah, they even shop at the same clothes stores!" Doomsday noted.
Sgt. Vinton shook his head in wonder after Doc finished explaining what had happened. "Well, you boys solved the case once again. I'm glad I decided to come over here after all."
"I'm kind of surprised Klinsinger isn't here getting the scoop," Doc noted. "This could have been an award-winning story for him."
Meanwhile, in a dark empty lot across town:
Klinsinger sat alone in his lawn chair, shining a flashlight up into the empty sky.
"Scoop of the century! I'll show 'em. I'll win newscaster of the year! Mommy will be so proud! Hello? I know you aliens are out there! Hellooooooo??"