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The Secret of Tayburn Zoo: 21

by ExOmelas


Crowdfunding - whatever that actually meant - was a wonderful thing. Not only had Patrick's bail been paid, but somehow the money for a decent hotel room had been sent to him via Josh MacKenzie, the young lawyer who was spearheading Patrick's cause in the media. He'd done away with the hair gel since the courthouse, and now his hair flopped over to the side in a messy fringe. Patrick turned up the volume on the flatscreen TV mounted halfway up the wall in his hotel room to hear what he was saying.

"This is jus anither way fir the government an corrupt companies tae scapegoat blame oan an ootsider," MacKenzie said to the big purple Channel Four microphone stuck practically up his nose.

Patrick's gaze stayed fixed on MacKenzie but he wasn't really listening. Had he always been that... Glaswegian? He could have sworn MacKenzie's accent had been at least neutral at the courthouse, maybe even English. But he supposed it fitted with what was going on with his hair. He was a man of the people now.

There was a knock at his door. Patrick sprang off the bed and dashed over to the door, throwing it open.

He grinned. "Finally!"

Holly, Scott and their mother, Helen, beamed back at him. Well, Helen smiled slightly less wide than her children, but Patrick was used to it by now. Her light brown hair had grown a lot since the last time he saw her, but she wore the same high-waisted jeans and olive cardigan that Patrick often imagined her wearing when her face popped into his head.

He took a step back from the door and beckoned for them to enter. "Come on in. Take a seat."

Holly and Scott immediately sprang onto Patrick's haphazardly made bed - he hadn't left the room long enough all day for the maid to improve it - and bounced to a stop, sitting on the edge. Helen pulled a chair out from the table in front of the mirror on the far wall, and Patrick took the opportunity to stretch his legs.

Glancing between Helen and the kids, Patrick said, "So, how're things?"

"Holly loves him!" Scott shouted, pointing at the TV, which was showing still pictures of MacKenzie's dramatic speech outside the courtroom.

"No I don't!" Holly glared around at her brother. "You're the one that cannae stop talking about him!"

"I know you are but what am I?" Scott stuck his tongue out at Holly.

"That doesnae even make sense!" Holly screeched, shoving him over by the shoulder.

"Doesn't, Holly," Helen said as Scott landed with a bounce sideways on the bed. He sprang back up as Helen added, "And can't, not cannae."

Patrick suppressed a smirk at the fact that she hadn't actually told Holly off for pushing her brother over. He was grinning devilishly at Holly anyway, and it was hard not to feel just a little like he deserved it.

"So you like Josh MacKenzie then?" Patrick said, turning down the TV by a switch on the side as it moved onto another news topic.

"I think both the children are rather besotted by him," Helen replied, before Holly could protest.

Scott shrugged. "I liked his hair better before. He looked cooler."

Holly rolled her eyes. "That's the whole point! He looks like a real person now."

Scott pressed his hand against his head and squashed his hair close to his forehead. "Does that mean I'm an alien now?"

"You've always been an alien," Holly muttered.

Patrick giggled, leaning against the wall. He looked to Scott. "Do you remember that time Lisa the frog actually did think you were an alien?"

Scott glared at Patrick, grumpily crossing his arms across his chest. "That wasn't fair! It's no my fault she'd never seen anyone wi green hair before! Sorry, Mum, I mean not and with."

Helen's mouth tugged up slightly at one side. "I warned you people might think you were weird if you dyed your hair. Granted, I never imagined an amphibious source... Have you told me that story before?"

Holly sighed. "Like, three times, Mum. It's quite fun, actually, you not really listening to our stories from the zoo. It means we get to tell them over and over and over again."

Helen shifted in her chair, swapping which leg was crossed over which. "I listen to your stories from the zoo."

Scott twisted around to face her, his eyes having been fixed automatically on the TV, as a ten-year-old's often were. "No you don't. You always make some excuse or something."

Helen's jaw set. "It's just a little unnerving. Most children tell their mothers about scoring goals for their football teams, not watching football matches with crocodiles."

A small, sad smile briefly crossed Patrick's face. Rita sure did love her football. He swallowed a lump in his throat and focused his gaze on Holly. "Did you ever tell her about Aurora?"

Holly shrugged. "Didn't seem like much point."

Helen leaned forward. "I am right here, you know. Aurora's the panda, right?"

Scott nodded, his shoulders starting to slump. "All the work that went into that obstacle course... When you got to the end, Mum, she would give you a great big hug."

Holly leaned to the side and wrapped her arms all the way around Scott's chest, trapping his arms against his sides. He didn't even protest.

Helen cleared her throat. "She's one of the ones Neuromax still have, isn't she?"

Scott hiccuped, as if he'd been about to cry, and looked up at Helen. "That you remembered?"

"Look, children, I am not a monster. I just worry about you when you're around creatures with jaws strong enough to snap you in half," Helen snapped. She took a deep breath, and sat back in her chair. "That doesn't mean I think any of what is happening is okay. Grandpa is being set up, and who knows what is happening to those animals... to your friends."

Holly let go of Scott and sat up. "M-Mum, would you like to hear about the time Chip the capuchin taught Scott to do a backflip around a tightrope?"

Helen's eyes bulged and she sprang forward, almost coming right out the chair. "Pardon?"

But at that moment Holly's phone beeped. She muttered something about Twitter and disappeared into the world of cyberspace. Scott started to tell Helen the story about his backflip, though Patrick remembered him falling off into the safety net so many times that he really wasn't sure this was a good idea.

He hadn't been particularly sure it was a good idea at the time, but was eventually convinced that it would look perfectly normal from above for the animals to be practicing their tricks. And young children had lots of energy to play along with what Patrick was training the animals to do.

"Uh, Grandpa," Holly said, looking up from her phone. "Josh MacKenzie just tweeted."

"Ha-ha! You have him on alert!" Scott pointed his finger right in Holly's face.

She mutely shook her head, looking up at Patrick. "They've been to Neuromax. They found a bunch of secret tunnels... but no animals."


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274 Reviews


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Wed Sep 04, 2019 1:43 am
Dossereana says...



I read this and my heart just felt everything, I loved this chapter, and I think that everything has been said already. :D This was really good and I in joyed it.




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Tue Sep 03, 2019 10:32 pm
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Heya Bisc,

Shady back with a somewhat timely review for your next chapter (blame RevMo ;)). Excited to see where you're going to take us this time! Let's get started...

Patrick turned up the volume on the flatscreen TV mounted halfway up the wall in his hotel room to hear what he was saying.


Anal nitpick, but the "he" is a bit vague here. I'd suggest re-phrasing it so that it's more immediately clear that we're talking about MacKenzie. "The lawyer" or "the young man" etc. something to make it clearer, since the "his" right before this was referring to Patrick himself where the voice in question was not referring to Patrick and pronouns get confusing quickly.

"That wasn't fair! It's no my fault she'd never seen anyone wi green hair before! Sorry, Mum, I mean not and with."


So, I'm sure you've gotten my disclaimer in the past about having a terrible memory -- and of getting this story broken up in bits over the course of multiple months. So it's entirely possible that I'm missing something. However, I really don't remember the kids having this strong of accents in earlier chapters?

It just seems a bit sudden. For the most part, it's seemed like a fairly neutral setting so far in terms of accents and terminology and such -- and this chapter seems like the Scottish side of things is being really strong emphasized for some reason? And don't get me wrong, it's a cute little addition, I don't dislike it. I just don't really understand why there's such a shift here -- and figured I'd bring it up in case that wasn't intentional.

~ ~ ~

Okay! Another great chapter!

I like that Scott and Holly are coming back into things. It's felt like it's been a while since we've seen them, and I'm glad that Helen isn't keeping them away from Patrick in the midst of this bit mess.

However.

The characterization in general felt a little bit off in this chapter, if I'm being totally honest. Helen like almost seems like a caring parent? But the kids seem pretty bold about... not quite insulting her, but you know what I mean? I can't remember them ever being this forward with their mother before. And it seems odd to me that Helen wouldn't have words for Patrick, either.

It seems very much like this was a kid-led scene, which isn't necessarily bad, but I did feel like we were lacking a bit in seeing how Helen and Patrick's relationship is holding up through this. I think I recall that they had a bit of a strained relationship before all of this -- but now everything is? fine? I guess I just wish I'd see a bit more insight into what both of them are thinking about all of this. Helen seems entirely too nonchalant about all of this -- take, for example, her being all concerned about a tight rope, only to be distracted by Twitter of all things? Like a phone call, sure, that can't wait. But it seems odd that an app would distract her away from a story like that.

I feel like I'm just rambling at this point so I'mma stop. But if you have any questions feel free to let me know and I can try to make my point clearer xD

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)




ExOmelas says...


Hey, yeah, I get a lot of what this is saying. I get into this conundrum where whenever I have anything taking place in a city I feel the need for it to be one I know, which leads to Glasgow, which sounds non-neutral to mention. I guess I could make up a fictional city, but there's so little time going to be spent there that it seems not worth it.

The stuff with the accents is maybe slightly too niche. It's meant to be characterisation of the family and their social class. A mum who stops her kid speaking slang like that is probably a) poor enough that having a respectable sounding accent would matter for getting jobs and b) be strict enough that she cares about how they sound within their own home, rather than just in public. This was to tie into the idea that they're quite poor, and Patrick was doing all this for them. I know a lot of this is quite straggly, but there's a core of reasonableness there that I'm going to try to make less obscured xD

I get what you mean about the family dynamics as well. I could have sworn I wrote some Patrick/Helen one-on-one stuff but maybe I just haven't got to it yet. This was meant to be like a family winding each other up, but the kids are maybe a bit too in control yeah.

Thanks for the review! :D



ExOmelas says...


Hey, yeah, I get a lot of what this is saying. I get into this conundrum where whenever I have anything taking place in a city I feel the need for it to be one I know, which leads to Glasgow, which sounds non-neutral to mention. I guess I could make up a fictional city, but there's so little time going to be spent there that it seems not worth it.

The stuff with the accents is maybe slightly too niche. It's meant to be characterisation of the family and their social class. A mum who stops her kid speaking slang like that is probably a) poor enough that having a respectable sounding accent would matter for getting jobs and b) be strict enough that she cares about how they sound within their own home, rather than just in public. This was to tie into the idea that they're quite poor, and Patrick was doing all this for them. I know a lot of this is quite straggly, but there's a core of reasonableness there that I'm going to try to make less obscured xD

I get what you mean about the family dynamics as well. I could have sworn I wrote some Patrick/Helen one-on-one stuff but maybe I just haven't got to it yet. This was meant to be like a family winding each other up, but the kids are maybe a bit too in control yeah.

Thanks for the review! :D



ShadowVyper says...


Ahh that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation!

And, uh, looks like you've got two reviews on this now, so, uh, new chapter... *cough* ;)



ShadowVyper says...


Ahh that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation!

And, uh, looks like you've got two reviews on this now, so, uh, new chapter... *cough* ;)



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Tue Sep 03, 2019 2:10 am
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SubSubLibrarian wrote a review...



I feel like an ootsider myself, just hopping in like this, but I have to say, you did an amazing job. This chapter could easily stand by itself. It wasn't too difficult to discern what was going on, but the details were introduced subtly. I can imagine that a complete read through would be even better and not extremely repetitive, as in some books when the authors try to make the chapters semi-independent. I like the idea, the story, or at least what I know of it so far, from starting on chapter 21. Reading this chapter really made me want to read the whole story.

The flow is a bit stunted at times, and some of the character reactions are unnatural or exaggerated. For example, what mother says "Pardon?" to her children. I mean I don't know how old they are, but I can clearly see even a woman like Helen reacting in a more, dare I say vulgar way. Vulgar isn't really the right word, but I can't think of it now. Also, every time someone uses the word giggling, especially on grown men, I cringe a little. That's mostly a personal problem. People do often giggle, I am aware. It's just that the image of an old man covering his mouth with one hand and emitting bursts of stilted laughter and high pitched squeals isn't a very appealing one. No matter how true it is. Giggling is much easier to see in children. I'm just not sure what else to see here.

I don't know. Everything else is pretty good. Just don't get too distracted by actions and dialogue tags that your dialogue itself begins to suffer. I'm not saying that's what's happening here. I just think your dialogue would benefit a little by simplifying, deleting, or transforming your dialogue tags.

Alright. Thank you so much for this little morsel of goodness. I might actually end up reading the whole book, when I have time. Good luck on the next chapters! If you have any questions for me, follow the link in my username;)




ExOmelas says...


Hey, thanks for the review! I do that a lot with dialogue tags - get scared of it becoming just he said-she said - and go over the top. I wasn%u2019t thinking exactly that sort of giggle... more like a suppressed laugh that comes out sounding like a giggle? Idk if that makes sense but I%u2019d call that giggling. I%u2019m imagining what you described though and now *I%u2019m* laughing at the thought of 62-year-old Patrick giggling like an anime character :P

Thanks again! :D



ExOmelas says...


Ignore all those % signs. That is apparently what happens when you attempt to type an apostrophe on mobile xD




The chains of habits are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
— Warren Buffet