Lisa had said months ago it was a bad idea for the zoo to invite 35 rambunctious kindergartners for a private, behind-the-scenes tour. And as usual, she’d been right. A child had wandered off. The zoo was locked down. Every employee on hand was searching the property for the missing kid. And she was annoyed. It wasn’t that she didn’t like children. She was just mystified by them. She’d blocked out most of the memories of her childhood for self-preservation. There wasn’t much worth remembering.
Lisa was racing past her office on the way to search the playground area again when she saw the tiny feet peeking out from under her desk. She noticed the window she’d left open to let in the fresh spring air. Just a small crack, but big enough for a tiny body to wiggle through.
“Are you Josh?” Lisa asked, kneeling next to the boy, who blinked back tears. He nodded. She extended her hand to help him up, but he shook his head no.
“I don’t want to go home.”
Lisa groaned inwardly. I don’t have time for this. She was about to go ask her assistant, Charity, to coax the boy out when she noticed the tiny black marks on the inside of his arms, a few of them were fresh, the size of cigarette butts. Her eyes ran over his face, taking in its gauntness. And then she understood.
She yelled for Charity to call the police.