Sand emerged from the dark stairway into the bright sunlight outside the aquarium.
It had taken them three hours to get to the park at Kristiansand after the discovery of the abandoned delivery lorry. It had taken another hour to convince the management to evacuate the park and get the tactical team in place. Then they had searched the various enclosures until an officer had spotted someone matching Dag Moen’s appearance entering the aquarium. They had breached the storage room just in time. Dag Moen was stood over Gabi about to shoot her. Sand was first into the room, he got off two shots at Moen as he fired and then fled through the opposite door. Other officers had fired. No one was sure if they had hit him.
Now the tactical team spread out from the aquarium searching for Moen. The amusement park and zoo was not a good place to try and track someone. Too many paths, buildings and enclosures.
Over the radio Sand listened to the various calls from officers as they methodically searched each area. He walked with his gun at the ready. The monkeys were chattering noisily with the excitement of the gun fire. For them this was a much more interesting day than the usual children gawping at them.
Sand rounded their enclosure. The large gorilla sat majestically, watching him pass. He moved past the sleeping pride of lions, basking in the spring sunshine for warmth. Something caught his eye, something out of place. The gate to an enclosure was open. Please be nothing dangerous, Sand thought as the idea of being mauled by a tiger crossed his mind.
He reached the gate. The sign read ‘Red Pandas.’ Sand stepped into the enclosure. It was a microcosm of a forest habitat. The grass was long, above him trees and branches were positioned to provide running and climbing for the pandas. Sand kept his gun raised as he crept through slowly.
There was a rustling noise to his left. He spun round. A red panda looked back at him, nibbling on a shoot of bamboo. Sand raised his gun above his head, the panda scuttled off along a tree branch. Sand kept moving through the faux forest land. The deeper he moved into the enclosure, the thicker the vegetation got. He had to lower his gun to sweep away the grass and branches form in front of him. Sand was a city cop, he wasn’t used to working in this environment.
There was some grass in front of him that looked trampled down. He couldn’t tell if it was from a human footprint or a panda one. He realised this was hopeless on his own. He reached for his radio hanging from his belt.
‘This is Sand,’ he said. ‘I’m in the red panda enclosure. The gate was broken open. Get a team over here to search it.’
Just as he finished speaking the blow caught him on the back of his head. The thud of metal against his skull sent him into the long grass. He recovered quickly, turning as he fell and bringing his gun up as he landed on his back.
Dag Moen stood over him, gun aimed at Sand’s head. ‘We have a stand-off, Detective Sand.’
‘You won’t get out of here. There are too many police looking for you.’
‘I wouldn’t be so sure, Anders,’ Moen gave him the same malevolent smile he had given Gabi in the basement of the aquarium. ‘I didn’t choose this enclosure by accident. Everything I do is part of my plan. You should know that by now. Did you enjoy your trip to Alta? Quite a thing that igloo hotel.’
They both heard footsteps coming through the grass. There is only so much a tactical squad can do to be silent.
‘What about my partner? Wasn’t it part of your plan to kill her?’ Sand asked.
Moen shrugged. ‘She is irrelevant in the grand scheme of it. The main thing is to hurt you and give my father his revenge.’
‘Why don’t you shoot me then?’ Sand said.
‘For the same reason you haven’t shot me yet, Anders,’ Moen smiled. ‘Because we’re both having too much fun.’
Sand saw Moen flick a white object at him at the same time as he kicked dirt at him with his foot. Sand flinched. Before he could recover, Moen was gone, vanishing into the undergrowth.
The tactical team found Sand brushing himself down as he got up from the ground. He pointed them in the direction Moen had gone, but he knew it was too late. Dag Moen was gone and they would have to wait for him to resurface again.
Sand looked at the white envelope that Moen had thrown at him. He opened it and pulled out two playing cards. There was nothing else with them. Another part of his sick game.
Sand got the feeling they wouldn’t have to wait long for Dag Moen to show his hand.
This is part sixteen of my A to Z Challenge 2017. More information on the challenge, and other stories and blogs taking part in it, can be found HERE.
Throughout April I hope to publish a section a day, relating to a letter of the alphabet, which in the end will make up a continuous story, all based round the objects found in this children’s jigsaw:
Other entries in the challenge, and a version of the final complete, joined up story can be found here: A TO Z CHALLENGE 2017.