The Basketball court
Chapter 2 of Mr Scientist. Read Chapter 1 here Mr Scientist – Chapter 1 if you haven’t already
Back in the basketball court, all the animals were getting on swimmingly. The chinchillas were jumping around and hanging out with other chinchillas. The rabbits were being rabbits and some seemed to be getting on well with the chinchillas. I found this odd as Bonnie, Lilly and Bruce could not be left alone together without fighting, but who knows? They may have been kept in this tank together for a while. Many of the birds had flown very high up now and it was difficult to tell which species I was dealing with, but I could see finches, budgies, small parrots and little owls. Strange. I checked on the mice and concluded that all was well.
I was dreading checking on the tarantulas as there had been a dark thought at the back of my mind – What if they ate each other? Tarantulas are not known to be social species; I would need to check what they were. I headed to my bookcase and headed back to the court armed with my trusty spider book. I identified the tarantulas as Antilles pink toe tarantula and after some reading found that they were able to live in colonies in the wild, but were not such a social species in captivity. Shit. I counted around ten tarantulas and although they seemed to not be eating each other it was difficult to see what they were doing. I had also read that they were tree climbing tarantulas, so I would need to somehow get them into the larger tank that had previously housed the chinchillas, rabbits and Hamish with branches in order to have them suitably housed. I could hardly release them into the court. Imagine? I wondered if Hamish could help.
He was still sleeping when I returned to my bedroom, but began to stir as I entered.
“Good sleep?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, have you ever slept in a tank with that many rabbits and chinchillas? Noisy bunch, that nap was heaven”.
I did think back to times when I had shared a box room with Bruce, Bonnie and Lilly, but didn’t feel it was a valid comparison, so I just kept that to myself.
“How long were you in the tank?”
“Two days, I think, our master likes to do things for 48 hours at a time”.
“Yeah, he calls himself a Scientist and is rather specific about time when it comes to these things”.
“Have you been involved in anything like this before? Can you tell me what to expect?
“I personally have not, we are usually used for just one experiment before being euthanized. I am not completely sure what your experiment is, but he did give you those envelopes so hopefully the information will be in there”.
“I still have 36 hours to go and I feel I have housed all the animals, although I need to move the tarantulas into a larger tank. Do you know how I can do this?”
“I don’t think I can help with that. I have severe arachnophobia”.
“I had thought about just putting the smaller tank into the larger tank and leaving the door open so they can move over themselves?”
“Probably the only way to do it, I’ll wait here and you can tell me how it goes”.
“Ok” I said, taking a deep breath, “No time like the present”.
Although I am not arachnophobic, I was slightly nervous about this part of my task. I was more nervous about lifting the tanks than being bitten. What if they escaped? I guess the main thing is getting the smaller tank into the larger tank. Luckily the large tank is pretty light when empty, so I moved it close to the tarantula tank, easier, I thought, than carrying a tank full of tarantulas and crickets across the court. The front door of the large tank is wide, which is good for putting in the small tank, but a tad worrying when thinking about closing it after releasing the tarantulas and I will not even attempt to retrieve the smaller tank, they can just have an extra hide, good animal welfare.
It wasn’t actually too difficult, got the heart going, but it was without fail. I just put the smaller tank into larger tank with some branches, quickly reached in and opened the smaller tank, swiftly closed the larger tank which was very quickly filled with crickets and then the tarantulas gradually followed. Job done. Now time to chat to Hamish.
I returned to my room to find Hamish annoying Scabby, pulling his tail and chatting incessantly. He says that he believes Scabby can understand everything we say and warns me that he may try to sabotage the task.
“What?” I asked, rather shocked at both revelations.
“He’s not on our side”. Hamish insisted.
“He’s not on our side? I assumed we were all in this together, even Mr Scientist, he said this was a job after all. Why would anyone want to sabotage it? I also don’t understand how you can believe that a cat can understand us”.
“He belongs to Mr Scientist, as you call him, come to think of it that will do, I don’t know his real name, Doctor Contract is what I believe some call him. But yeah, Scabby is his pet and Mr Scientist is not a good Scientist. The animals, all the animals here are being kept for research done for all the wrong reasons”.
“Cosmetics?” I asked.
“It’s a bit more sinister than that, I mean do you think that it’s legal to keep all these animals in these tanks? Do you think him bringing them to you is legal?”
“No, but to be honest all of this is so crazy that I hadn’t even thought about that. I’m starting to worry about what is going to happen to this animals, do I keep them? I don’t think I can give them back to him”.
“Do you think they have suitable homes now?”
“Better than the tanks, but I don’t think I could keep like this for too long. Should I re-home them? Do I have time to do that? I got the impression that he wanted me to use the basketball court?”
“Have you met all the animals? The parrots were kept with Mr Scientist for a while and sometimes you hear them repeating some of his most popular phrases, they might be able to give you some clues. They are only mimicking, so don’t expect a great conversation, but it might help. Do you have some peanuts?”
“Yes, do you want to come with me?”
“I think I should keep an eye on Scabby and the other cats”.
“I keep forgetting about the other cats, are all three part of the task?”
“I really don’t know, but there must be a reason why he sent Scabby”.
“I don’t really understand how those cats got in, I’m four floors up and they just came through the window”.
As I said this I went over to the window and noticed scaffolding, slim scaffolding that seemed to be leading up to my window and mine alone. I looked up to see a long wire running from my window, it was a very long wire and I couldn’t see where it led to, but there was a handle and a seat, it looked a very high Flying Fox.
“What the …?”