*Complete* Part one to Elephas. The story of a strange sickness that begins to kill elephants in captivity and in the wild. When Adilyn finds herself forced into the heart of this mystery she realizes that she might be as interested and in it for the gold as the other players.


4. Chapter 4

“You really love that little guy don’t you?” He asked when she caught up. Adilyn nodded and looked away. It was impossible not to, Imari was as close to her as a son. Human or not, she loved him as if he was her own. Ranger Roberts sighed, letting his shoulders drop a little.

“I know what you mean. My favorite was always Lucy. A wild spirit, that one. But she was sweet, always loving and teasing everyone. I took care of her for the past two years and now she’s gone.” Adilyn wasn't sure how to comfort him.

“I suppose you’re wondering about that sickness.” Ranger Roberts continued as they walked into an air conditioned office, each taking a seat.

“I admit that I was wondering,” Adilyn confessed. She and Imari had waited a year before they’d been able to come to the zoo. Three elephants had still been sick and no one was sure if it was contagious. The exhibit had been closed and the healthy elephants were sent away. The sick ones remained, keeping their distance from other animals.

The doctors couldn’t discover the problem or a cure and after a few months, the last three sick ones died. The zoo waited six more months before Imari and Adilyn could move in, just to be safe and make sure the sickness was really gone.

“So, what happened?” Ranger Roberts shook his head in bewilderment.

“I’m not sure. It started about a year ago. Everything was fine, running as usual when Franklin, one of our younger African male elephants, refused to eat his food. He stopped eating and began spending all his time in the pool. The keepers began to get worried, and for good reason. If that elephant didn’t get eating then his health would fail. A young elephant like that should be eating at least 300 pounds a day. But Franklin refused. Then one morning we found him lying on the ground at the edge of the pool. He couldn’t move, he would blink, but even that seemed to take effort. By noon he was gone. We figured he’d gotten sick from the lack of food and that was the end of it. But we were wrong. Before a week had passed another elephant refused to eat, and then another, and then another. Before long, five elephants had died and three more were sick. The zoo sent the remaining seven elephants away, worried they were going to catch it too. Luckily no humans or other animals got sick but it was too late for the last three elephants. My Lucy was one of the last to go. I hated to see her suffer like that, but there was no hope that she might live.” Adilyn shuttered at the horrible thought of all those elephants dying.

“And you found the cure?” She asked hopefully, but Ranger Roberts frowned.

“No, we never found the cure. We nicknamed the disease Elephas for now. Hopefully we won’t be hearing any more about it.” Roberts forced a smile and sat up.

“I’m sorry to burden you with such a sad tale in your first minutes here. I should have waited. I’m sure the elephants will be grateful to have little Imari added to their herd. Before the two of you came they didn’t do much apart from standing around the places where the last elephants died. Some of them eat now and then, but most of them sadly walk around. Always depressed, as if they remember and miss their loved ones. Elephants are very sensitive and intelligent creatures you know.”

    “Yes, I know.” Adilyn whispered, half hoping Ranger Roberts would forget she was there and leave her alone.

    “Well, like I said, maybe Imari will bring a little happiness to them. Let’s go see how they’re getting along shall we?” Adilyn rose up out of her chair and followed the ranger back to the elephants. It was a beautiful scene they walked in on. All the elephants were gathered around Imari protectively, and eating. They had become a family so fast, and Adilyn had never seen the little elephant look so happy. At last he was home and had a place where he could belong and fit in. Adilyn was happy for him, although she wasn’t sure she felt the same. The zoo was strange and new, Ranger Roberts made her uncomfortable, and if Imari wasn’t as little as he was, she wouldn’t have stayed another minute. But as it was, she felt the need to stay and watch over him for a little while. She was just as alone as Imari in this world. Even if she left the zoo there would be nowhere to go, no family to run home to.

    “Well would you look at that, they seem to already be getting along perfectly!” Adilyn wished he would leave her alone, but since he seemed to have no intention of doing so, Adilyn excused herself and left.

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