Chapter 15: The Call
“How did you get here?” Lisa had turned in her chair to stare at her.
Anne gave a slow, patient breath. “After I was told, I left my parents’ house and caught a flight to Costa Rica. I got a room in Jaco, and talked with a man who took some people to Isla Sorna back in 1997. I asked him about your little troupe, and he said his son in Puntarenas might know something. So I went there, and during that little trip I met someone from 1998. He helped me out, and I got a message from him when I returned to my hotel telling me that you had already left. This was later on at night, and, like I said earlier, I couldn’t sit back and wait for the government to investigate and move in on this, since it could be too late. I got a ride here, but at a cost…”
“What do you mean?”
“They ditched me,” Anne said. “Took everything I had brought to Costa Rica, including my wallet. Threw me overboard and that was it. I had no way back and I had to find you. Since you didn’t know about me being here, I was alone.”
Lisa lowered her head. “Again…”
Anne glanced at the computer screen, which was once again flashing through images of the exterior of the Visitor’s Center.
“Anne, I’m sorry…Truly, I am…”
Anne didn’t pick up from what her cousin had just said, purposely ignoring it out of another twinge of anger. After several silent moments, Anne said, “I was actually hoping that the rumors were true. That this place was destroyed. But I knew…I knew that it wouldn’t be, otherwise you would’ve never been here…” She let out a distant, indifferent laugh. “I guess I was right…”
Lisa had become silent and had gone back to searching the security images. She had switched to a new menu of sectors comprising the cameras in and around the lodging areas behind the Visitor’s Center, before bringing up several shots from a recessed shelter that was also somewhere in the back.
“They’re out there,” Lisa said.
“Oh, Mr. Fox and a guy named Moore…The former’s sort of in charge and Moore’s like a second-in-command.”
“Where’s your friend David?”
“I don’t know…He has to be somewhere out there with them. The others said they were going out to the maintenance shed, I think. Maybe they’re going to work on bringing back some more power.”
“What’s the point in that?”
“I’m just throwing out an option…”
Anne briefly nodded, as Lisa brought up another security menu. Soon, new images filled the screen. Lisa sat up. “Oh, there they are…Out by the raptor pen.”
Anne tried to soak in the last two words her cousin had just said, before Lisa stood. “Come on, let’s go and get you explained.”
Lisa led her out of the control room, entering the hall. They turned left from the door, passing the laboratory door, and at the end of the hall entered another door, where the ground became carpeted.
Several more doors were here, but they continued right, again stopping near the end until they reached a set of elevator doors on their left, the far wall, that went downstairs. Lisa said, “The elevator’s not working…”
She motioned Anne toward a flight of stairs next to the elevator that led down, before doubling back to reach the ground floor below.
As they descended, Lisa spoke. “These were the private stairs. All the upper levels were pretty much private, but the control room and lab for example could be seen by visitors through the theater tour. Here,” she said, stepping out onto the first floor, “they also had a back hall restricted to personnel only.”
Anne could see that their new surroundings was a large, tiled area somewhere in the back of the Visitor’s Center. The hall stretched on back toward the main lobby of the Visitor’s Center, and nearby were a set of stairs to the left of the ones they had just come down, leading downward on the intersecting wall.
A glass door, too, was on the wall directly next to the stairs they had come down, and Lisa pointed to it. “That leads out back, while those stairs,” she motioned to the stairs nearby, “lead down to the garage.”
Lisa opened the door to the back, and Anne followed.
When they had stepped out into the back area outside of the Visitor’s Center, Anne had glimpsed a series of buildings architecturally similar to the Visitor’s Center off to the left, enclosed in a black steel gate. Visitor lodgings…
Before she could see more, Lisa had started leading her right, down a large dirt path leading into the surrounding jungle. At the end of it, they entered a clearing, where the raptor pen she had seen on the visual monitor stood.
On their side, the raptor pen had a rising walkway that ran alongside the exterior of the enclosure itself. It was railed, and built into the cement wall. A large tower on the left overlooked the building, and to the right was a large archway, home to a steel gate. Electric fencing ran on top of the walls surrounding the enclosure, but Anne could see that a large portion of it on their side was gnarled and bent.
Lisa said, “When the power went out, they figured it out…”
A sudden chill vibrated its way through Anne, who had suddenly become aware of her surroundings again and the fact she was out in the open.
Off to the left of the raptor pen, she could see the entrance to a submerged shelter. A concrete structure jutted from the ground; a door built into the recess of it that undoubtedly opened up to a flight of descending stairs.
Lisa pointed off to the right, where Anne could barely see an overgrown path branching off further into the jungle. “The maintenance shed is that way…”
“Where are your friends?”
“I could’ve sworn they were here.”
Lisa walked over to the raptor pen, moving around the rail to ascend the ramp to the viewing walkway.
Anne stayed where she was, ignoring any and all sound around her except for the distant sound of voices somewhere back the way they had came. Loud voices, almost like whoever was talking was frustrated or angry.
They soon stopped, and Anne became aware that Lisa was talking. Lisa had returned next to her, looking back where Anne had been listening moments before. “Ah, good,” she smiled. “Someone’s coming.”
Anne turned back, seeing a man appear from a fresh gap in the bushes alongside the main trail. He looked up, noticing them and began toward them, the bushes swinging back to their natural position.
Lisa gave a slight wave, “Hey Mr. Fox!”
Anne began to ask who before the man came to a halt in front of them. He had black hair, with a pair of piercing green eyes. He was dressed in low black shorts and a dark green shirt, which was covered by a camouflage vest with several pockets.
His eyes swept over Anne, before returning to Lisa. “Out for a walk?” He smiled, his eyes once again flashing on Anne for a brief moment.
“Uh, you could say that…I was actually looking for you and David. I saw you on the video monitor back in the control room. When we got here you guys weren’t here.”
“Ah, yes, well, we took our own little walk.”
“I guess you’re wondering who this is,” Lisa said, and Anne once more got a flash of those green eyes.
“I suppose…After all, I didn’t think we had another extra person come along…”
Lisa began speaking again, almost hurriedly. “This is my cousin, Anne. It’s sort of a long story, but she followed me.”
Anne felt that familiar sense of anger twinge through her body, making her want to correct Lisa. After all, it wasn’t like she had actually wanted to follow her. Hell, she never would’ve known Lisa was here if it hadn’t been for an act of best intentions. Lisa went on before Anne could say anything.
“She was in the island. I found her on the monitor, since she had found her way back here. She’s been through a lot, so I hope this doesn’t slow or shorten the shoot any.”
The man shook his head. “Not at all. I’m sorry to hear that…If I may ask, um, how exactly did you find us?”
Anne stared at the man Lisa had called Mr. Fox. “I asked around. When I found out, I got here by boat…”
The man’s face was quizzical. “By boat? Is someone waiting for you?”
Anne felt a deep tingle dance through her spine. “No. I thought they would, but we sort of had a change of plans for the moment.”
His green eyes swept over her shoulder, briefly looking past her at the raptor pen, as if he was searching for another question. The right question. Lisa cut in before he could reply. “The best thing is that she’s alright. Now that she’s here, can she just tag along?”
Anne shot a glance at Lisa, trying to remind her that she wanted to get the two off the island, but Lisa hadn’t been looking at her. She appeared as if she was trying not to. “Like I said, I’m hoping this doesn’t stop anything in your progress, but she can just stick with me.”
The man scratched his chin. “One more person can’t hurt. I’d like to know a little more, but that might have to wait. After all, I haven’t even introduced myself.” His hand reached out. “Simon Fox, head of our little photography unit.”
Anne gave a quick shake back. “Anne Jones.”
“Well, Anne, we may or may not have an extra camera in the truck you can borrow, in case you’re interested. I believe she has several disposables, as well,” he said, motioning to Lisa.
Lisa nudged Anne. “Got them so I could have a few pictures I could take home that I could just get developed over at one of the cheap stands in the mall or a grocery store in an hour…”
Anne gave a forced smile, before Fox said, “Moore got a radio call from Howard. Him and Gordon are up in the northern region of the island, checking out a spot where we had documented activity.” Anne knew he was now talking to Lisa. “They say they need assistance, so Moore and I will be heading there in the jeep.”
“Is David going?”
Fox appeared to think this over, but quickly. “Uh, yes…I guess so.”
“Do you mind if we come along? Maybe show Anne how the process works?”
Fox stared intently at Lisa, and for the faintest moment Anne thought something had flickered across those green eyes. “Fine. But again, you might need to just stay with the jeep.”
“Alright,” Lisa said. “When’re we going?”
“Ten minutes, maybe. Moore is getting the jeep ready, and I’m sure David is already aware.”
“Thanks Mr. Fox.”
Simon Fox turned away, nodding at the both of them. As he was at a distance, Anne could’ve sworn she had heard him mutter “Damn.”
“You know Lisa, I don’t think your friend Mr. Fox wants us tagging along.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just in the way he acted.”
Lisa shrugged. “How so? I guess I’ve grown to whatever you see. Just ignore it, he’s fine with it.”
Anne frowned. “What did he mean about you having to stay with the jeep again? He doesn’t want you going where they are?”
“Well, yes and no.”
They had returned to the control room, where Lisa had begun to tie up her backpack. Inside, she had a pair of binoculars, some food, and—like Fox had said—several disposable cameras. Lisa finished what she was saying as she crumpled up an empty granola bar wrapped and tossed it into a pocket she had designated for trash. “They’ve taken me into some of the areas where the animals have been, and once right up to one of the nests, but it was a herbivore nest. I think they’ve tried to get as close as possible to the other nests, to get photos, but I’ve had to stay behind so they can work their magic, so to speak. Like the nest I saw, I saw it for a few moments or so, but they wouldn’t let me take pictures because the disposable is too loud, and then David took me back. I think it’s also for safety, too. Since I got to come along, they can’t risk me being hurt, especially in the one or two carnivore nests they’ve gone into.”
Anne nodded, her frown lightening up but still lingering, unable to go away. Lisa saw her expression. “It’s okay Anne. I think I told you they’re prepared, they’re armed in case something happens, and nothing has.”
Anne looked away, pondering her annoyance of her cousin. The cousin she had thought was once smart. Look at her now…Miss Everything-Is-Alright…She never had to go through what I had, but here she is, giving me—her “inspiration” for being here—reason…
“You want a disposable?”
Anne was suddenly torn from her thoughts. “What?”
Lisa was holding up one of the disposable cameras, waving it in her fingers. “Disposable? Want one?”
Lisa gave a brief laugh. “Take one, I insist.” She held it out, shoving it toward her.
Anne unwillingly took it, forcing it into her pocket. Lisa smiled, “There. Now if you see something you utterly can’t afford to not take a picture of, you have the chance.”
It had taken them less than five minutes to get back through the arced theater tunnel, downstairs, and outside. Once again they were out front, Anne realizing how fast the time had gone since she had pulled up there with the electric cart, which was still pulled up near the base of the stairs.
Lisa adjusted her bag, pointing to the black jeep that had now appeared in front of the cart. Three men were around it, one of whom she clearly recognized as Simon Fox, who looked up at them as they descended the exterior stairs of the Visitor’s Center.
Fox said something, and the two men stopped, coming around the jeep alongside him. Fox introduced the first man, who was clearly over six feet tall. He had short, brown hair and a matching goatee. He was wearing the same dark green shirt Simon Fox was wearing, with a black vest rather than the same camouflage one Fox had also been wearing. He had an almost army-like pair of camouflage pants instead. “This is Andrew Moore,” Fox said, giving a swift pat to his shoulder. Moore nodded as Fox said, “A good friend of mine. Good at making sure those animals don’t get too close for comfort when needed, but so-so with a camera.”
Fox moved his hand past Moore and pointed at the second man. “David Alten.” He was shorter than the man beside him, Moore, and his black hair seemed, for the moment, unkempt. He was dressed in medium khakis and a black shirt.
So this is the guy that was Lisa’s final lure here…
Fox had said something else, but Anne hadn’t been listening. As long as it hadn’t ended in her name being repeated for her to answer a question, she didn’t care either. She had been looking over David’s right shoulder, at the back of the jeep where the trunk had been modified for a large, steel case to sit inside the jeep’s open back. The jeep still appeared clean, except for the mild splashes of mud caked along the bottom.
“We better get a move on then,” someone said, and Anne felt Lisa press her shoulder. “Come on.”
Moore had already climbed into the driver’s seat, and Simon Fox had made his way into the passenger’s seat. In the back row, David Alten and Anne had placed themselves on either side of Lisa, who sat in the middle. Anne looked back, seeing that the thick, cloth roof slanted down behind them, leaving a minor amount of room behind the row for several boxes to be crammed in. The cloth stopped above the crate in back, which was half-inside and half-exposed in the exterior trunk.
She nudged Lisa. “What’s in there?”
Before Lisa could speak, Fox said, “Equipment. Our cameras and such. Very delicate equipment.”
“It’s pretty big for a small photo trip.”
“Well, the bigger the better, they say.”
The jeep rumbled to life, Moore turning it around with a bounce on the middle track as the right wheels made their way over it. Anne caught a quick glance of the pond through the front window as they pulled onto the grassy shore of it, before they turned around completely, heading back down the road, away from the entrance of the Park and toward the garage area.