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1:38 PM Tue, Nov. 13th

The Christmas Miracle Tree - Chapter 2: Scotty and Andrew

Chapter 2: Scotty and Andrew

The sun was shining and the animals were all awake and taking care of business at the Heritage Park Zoo. Cleaning up that business was Scotty Raymond, a young man whose previous employment was flipping burgers while attending Prescott High School. Now he flipped patties of a different kind.

"Andrew don't get to close to that thing," said Scotty to his younger brother. Andrew stuck out his tongue in reply and stopped leaning across the railing.

"So how much longer do you have to clean up coyote poo?" asked 11-year old Andrew.

"I told you before, three months."

"Three months sucks!" said Andrew as he hopped down off the railing and walked over to where his brother was cleaning out one of the cages. "They should have given you a trophy for punching out Ricky Strauss. He's a jerk!"

"Yeah, he's a jerk, but I shouldn't have been fighting."

"So after three months we can start hanging out again?" asked Andrew.

"We're hanging out right now. Why don't you pick up a shovel and help?"

"I don't think so. Picking up coyote poo is your job."

"Did I hear you ask for help? I never heard you ask for help," said Jack Culver. Jack was in his late thirties and already had grey hair. He carried a camera and a small reporter's notebook. He walked up to the edge of the cage and spoke with Scotty. "Have you seen that creature yet?"

"The one from TV last night?" Andrew asked with excitement.

"Yep. They've got in a cage around the corner," Jack kneeled down to look Andrew in the face. "You want to go see it?"

"Of course."

"Go on around the corner and I'll meet you over there," but before Jack could finish his thought Andrew had taken off and ran around the corner. Jack was smiling as he turned to look at Scotty who had a sour expression on his face. Jack stopped smiling.

"What time are you going to be done tonight?"

"Six," Scotty flatly stated.

"You brought this on yourself. I know it's been hard since you and Andrew lost your parents. But I hope you realize that getting angry doesn't help. You're going to be starting college soon so let's try and get along at least for Andrew's sake okay?"

Scotty went back to cleaning the cage. Jack shook his head and started walking to the cage that held the beast that attacked the Christmas Miracle Tree.

Popping out from behind the cage was Dr. Alexandra Baum. Scotty had apparently not noticed she had been standing there for the whole conversation.

"You're being too hard on him," she said. "Jack's a good guy."

"How would you ... oh wait, you must know him from the newspaper." Scotty looked up to talk directly to Dr. Baum. She was strikingly beautiful with crystal blue eyes and dark brown hair. She wore glasses and a white veterinarian's coat.

"He interviewed me when I first arrived in Prescott from the U.K.," said Dr. Baum. "He just wants what's best for you and Andrew."

Scotty looked down and nodded his head, "Yeah, I'm sure you're right."

"I need you to come with me. I need some help with the new arrival."

"New arrival, is that code for that monster the Army brought here last night?" Scotty asked as his voice cracked with a bit of nervousness.

"Surely a big strong man as yourself is not afraid of a sedated animal shackled to a wall? Besides I specifically need your help," said the doctor, her brilliant blue eyes peeking over the rims of her glasses.

"My help," his voice cracked again, "Sure Doc." Scotty picked up his shovel and held it tightly as they walked towards the area where the creature was being held. His mind began to race as he thought about the creature. Where did it come from and why was it here?

"So Doc, what do you think it is?"

"It's a Meh-Ti," responded the doctor in a very matter-of-fact tone.

"A matey?"

Dr. Baum laughed, "Not a matey, a Meh-Ti. The colloquial term would be Yeti."

"Sorry Doc. I don't know what you mean by Yeti."

The doctor stopped to face Scotty. "Ever heard of the abominable snowman?"

Scotty shook his head in disbelief. "Abominable snowman? You can't be serious."

"I know it sounds bloody crazy but everything about this creature fits with the legends associated with the Meh-Ti."

Rounding the corner they witnessed a curious scene. Standing around the cage that held the abominable snowman was Jack, Andrew, two Army soldiers, and inside the cage was Professor Edward Folkvar. He held a large syringe that was full of a liquid that Dr. Baum recognized as phenylcyclohexyl piperidine, a very potent elephant tranquilizer.

She began to run frantically toward the cage and Scotty followed her. "Stop!" she yelled. This triggered one of the soldiers to turn and aim his weapon at her.

Jack quickly grabbed Andrew and moved to shield the child with his body. Scotty stopped dead in his tracks and the doctor continued to run until she reached the opening of the cage. She put up her hands and talked directly to the professor. "Professor you have to stop. That dose might kill it. This is a chance to prove and expand the study of Cryptozoology."

The professor turned to face her. His eyes glared with anger as he spoke, "Dr. Baum the study of animals that fall outside the confines of contemporary zoology is for lunatics and weirdoes."

"Like dinosaurs?" Scotty asked the professor.

"Please, professor you can't give this creature a dose that high. The world has the right to study this animal alive."

The professor's eyes sharpened and Dr. Baum felt a shiver down her spine. "Really?" he said as he slammed the syringe into the creature's arm and injected the solution. Removing the syringe he stormed through the entrance of the cage and slammed the door shut behind him. Dr. Baum had a look of shock on her face.

"Dinosaurs? Hardly," he flatly stated. "More like the Loch Ness Monster."

He knocked her aside and the soldiers snapped to attention and filed in behind him. "I'll be talking with the park administrator about this incident Dr. Baum."

Scotty, Jack and Andrew walked to the entrance where Dr. Baum stood. She had her arms folded and a defiant look on her face. With concern in his voice Jack asked, "Are you okay?"

She flashed him a smile, removed her glasses and said, "Why yes Jack, I'm bloody marvelous." She turned to Scotty and said, "The zoo will be closing soon. Will you escort these two fine gentlemen to the exit?"

"Yes, Dr. Baum."

"Come on Andrew it's time to go," said Jack. And both headed in the direction of the exit. Before Scotty could follow them the doctor grabbed his arm and whispered in an anxious tone, "Meet me back here as soon as they leave. I really need your help now. Tell Jack that you will need to stay late. I will take you home."

Scotty did not know what else to say except, "Yes, ma'am."

No one spoke as they walked to the exit. As soon as they were near the gate Jack turned to Scotty and said, "We'll wait until you're done and pick you up here."

"Dr. Baum needs me to stay late tonight. I'll catch a ride home with her."

Jack looked him straight in the eye and with concern in his voice said, "Scotty, you can stay because this is court-ordered as a condition of your probation. But don't let her do anything stupid. You could accidentally get caught in the middle of something that could be very dangerous."

"I understand Jack."

And with those words Jack walked through the exit as Scotty kneeled down to say goodbye to his younger brother. He mussed Andrew's hair and smiled but was surprised to see a concerned look on his face.

"It's going to be okay," Scotty said in a confident, reassuring tone.

Andrew looked his brother in the eye and the world grew silent as he spoke, "The professor was punishing Sangmu."

Scotty stood up and with a smile on his face and asked, "Sangmu? You do love to name the animals around here. Is that African? What does it mean?"

Scotty could not believe what Andrew said next.

"It's Tibetan and means kind-hearted one."

"Who told you that? The Doctor?"

"No. Sangmu did."

Log on to next Friday for Chapter three of this four-part original holiday story.

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