16 – We Are What We Hide

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Alexander impaled the knife through his claw. It was too serious of a matter for him to enjoy the pain. He watched the wound as the scales around it began shriveling and turning to charcoal. There was an unmistakable scent of burned flesh filling his nostrils. The coagulation process began spreading up his arm. He just let out a sigh and watched the show.

But the performance was "cut short" for him… literally. Skipper rushed in for the save. He kicked Alexander to the side and then, using an axe, courtesy of Rico, he swung at the appendage. The water monitor let out a grunt in pain as the first strike left a wide gash, together with some crushed bones. The lead penguin quickly made two more strikes before finally severing the leg.

The reptile fell on his back, panting and he looked at the tree. He saw the remains of his front leg as it completely turned into charcoal. He looked at the stub he was left with and saw the regeneration process already commencing. "*Sigh* Why did you save me?" he asked.

"It's what we do," Skipper replied coldly and offered a flipper.

Alexander took it and stood up. "What happens next?" he asked.

"Under normal circumstances you would be court-martialed," the captain replied.

"But…?"

"Since there isn't an official judge here, the case file will be sent to a higher military court, but who knows," Skipper shrugged, "Things happen and the letter could get lost in the post."

The lizard smirked, "Oh that's right, you let me out. You can't report this even if you wanted to."

The leader narrowed his eyes, "Don't get cocky soldier, we can clear things right here and now. I'm letting you off the hook, because it wasn't you fault, you clearly weren't yourself back there."

"You have no idea how wrong you are," he grumbled.

"What did you say?"

"Nothing. I would like to request some time off. There are some things I have to think about."

"Very well, then I'm temporarily suspending you."

Alexander saluted to the leader and Skipper gave him a "dismissed" nod. The reptile left the clearing and returned to the reptile house. The remaining animals waited a little and then followed suit. The walk was long and silent; no one was really in the mood for talking. Marlene, Dmitry and Ovid were carried back since they were all still unconscious and Skipper refused all the help he was offered with carrying the brown otter, in spite of his own injuries.

The flying fox and roadrunner woke up later that day inside the HQ. "So is he back now?" the flying mammal asked.

"Yes, he's back to his old normal self," replied the leader.

"If you can consider it normal," remarked the genet.

"Well he is a tad strange, but his heart is in the right place… right?" the Private asked.

Rico replied with a so-so gesture with his wing.

"What are our next actions going to be Skipper?" the scientist asked.

"It would probably be best if we let him cool down a little before doing anything else. I'm sure he'll return once he's done meditating." He then turned towards the Bronx team, "What about you guys, are you staying for the night? I'm sure he'd appreciate a shrink."

"It won't work," Clemens replied. "He hides his true self so well that no shrink has ever managed to decode his personality."

"Well we could do the thing he suggested," Ovid said.

"What's that?" Skipper asked.

"Let's just say it involves an electric power drill and a funnel," the genet answered. "Well, we should probably go now, it's a long ride home and we still have to load the air pressure cannon."

Right then Marlene burst through the hatch, with her usual wide smile. "Hey guys!" she greeted and was greeted back. She walked up to Skipper and gave him a peck on the beak, before turning to Kowalski. "Hey, can I ask you a question?"

"Of course, and I will try my hardest to compose the accurate answer."

"Why didn't I go feral the moment I landed outside the zoo?"

The genius bird scratched his bottom beak, "Did you eat anything that could affect your brain chemistry?"

"Not that I know of, but I did continue taking the drug, which was supposed to help me, could it have been a delayed effect?"

"Maybe it was the adrenaline," suggested Clemens.

"Of course, the vast amount of the hormone epinephrine, which was released due to the survival instinct kicking in, combined with the lamotrigine, must have worked together in preventing an immediate reaction to leaving the zoo grounds," the genius bird explained.

"Is that even possible?" Private asked.

"Probably not, but it's the best I can come up with," Kowalski replied.

"Ok, then, see ya," the Bronx team left the HQ and was soon on its way back to their own zoo.

Meanwhile, in front of the water monitor exhibit, stood a raven, which was just typing in the code to unlock the terrarium. The glass swung open and she flew in. Iris looked to her right and noticed a smashed keyboard. "Better leave it open," she commented and proceeded to where the secret door was located.

She pushed it aside and hopped down the stairs into the lover levels. She moved as quietly as possible, listening in on every room, trying to find the water monitor. The last place she checked was the infirmary, but there was no sign of life there either.

Suddenly she felt something grab her and lift her off her feet. Whoever it was, held her so that she couldn't flap her wings. Next came something hard that pressed against her neck. "The object I have on your throat is an obsidian-edged scalpel. I would suggest you refrain from struggling or else things might get… bloody."

"ALEXANDER IT'S ME!" she yelled and immediately felt the grip loosen. She fell to the ground and looked back. It was dark in the hallway, but she could see the vague outlines of the reptile. He walked to the wall and then into the infirmary. Iris followed him in silence. "Why are you here?" he asked.

"I t-thought you needed someone to talk to."

The lizard let out a sigh. He was still facing the bird with his back, "You're afraid of me, aren't you?"

Iris was caught off guard, "N-no, well… I did see the things you did… but you were reverted to your primal self, it wasn't your fault."

"Is that what Kowalski's telling everyone, or was it Clemens' theory? No, definitely Kowalski's, Clemens knows the truth more or less."

"What truth?"

The water monitor turned around and Iris gasped when she saw his face. He had no eyes, there were just crimson trail running from the sockets, indicating that he had removed them. "Wha-what, why did you do that?" she asked in shock.

"What if I told you that I was aware of everything that happened in the last two days?" he made a step forward, while Iris backed away.

"What if I told you that I remember my every action, every kill?" he made another step, but the raven couldn't go further back, because she had already reached the wall. He stretched out his front legs and pinned the girl to the wall by the wings. He brought his head down to her level.

Iris observed his eye sockets and saw new eyeballs forming in them. He blinked a few times and it was over. He was staring at her with his dark brown eyes, smirking. "What if I told you… that I enjoyed taking the lives of every single one of my victims?" he asked.

"Would you be afraid of me then?" he let go of her and turned around.

Iris wanted to answer, but for some reason, she stopped herself. She flew right out of the base, leaving the medic alone.

He walked over to a tape recorder and pressed the "REC" button." Test run of the regeneration inhibitor was interrupted. Attempting another one," he stopped the recording and walked over to a stopwatch, which he reset, and then grabbed a syringe. He injected himself with its contents, pressed the "Start" button, and then walked over to a mirror.

He took a deep breath and brought his claws up to his head. "In the name of science," he said and with the help of his sharp claws, he tore out his eyeballs. He threw the seeing organs to the side and braced himself against the wall, panting.

About fifteen minutes later, the regeneration occurred and he could once again see. He walked over to the stopwatch and read the time. "Perfect," he said and grabbed another syringe. He spoke to the tape recorder, "Regeneration inhibitor test run was a success. I will now be performing an autoamygdalectomy. In case anybody stumbles upon my notes, and tdoesn't know what that is, it is the removal of the amygdala performed by oneself on himself."

He brought a chair to the mirror and sat in it. "I will not be using any sedatives or painkillers, because I mustn't dull my senses in an important surgery like this." He injected himself with another shot of the inhibitor and quickly removed his right eye. "I will be performing this surgery on," he pressed his claw to the edge of the eye socket and slowly pulled it back across his scales, "one brain hemisphere at a time," he pressed the same claw on the top of the skull and slowly dragged it down to the socket, "due to obvious reasons… namely being blind if I did it simultaneously on both sides."

Blood was already running from the cuts, but he ignored it. Alexander grabbed the scales and peeled them back, revealing his bloody cranium. He grabbed a flask of pure ethanol and poured it over the bone. He clenched his teeth due to the burning sensation, but shook it off. "I am hoping that by removing the emotional centers, I will grow new ones, which won't be faulty like the ones I currently posses, and will allow me to make use of the entire emotional spectrum."

He now took a device similar to an angle grinder and started it, "And now for the fun part," he brought the spinning blade to his cranium and felt the vibration travelling through his bones, across his entire body. Bone dust filled the air, but he continued.

Here we are, at the end. Don't worry, he'll survive the procedure, but I think that this ending is pushing me into writing a spiritual story next. Don't know if I can do it, or if I want to do it, but maybe I will. Either way, this definitely won't be my last story, hope you enjoyed it and leave a review!