Fluffy, dressed like a Reservoir Dog in a black suit, leads the animals out of the pub and through the streets of Manchester. He has prepared them for the staring public. He has taught them to stay calm, and they are doing well. He glances back at his reborn team. There's Jack the condor, glancing in all directions. His autism is testing him, but he's keeping it together. Even Terence looks composed, perched on Peter the hippopotamus' shoulder. Fluffy's eyes fill with pride.
The streets- dirty and traffic congested- begin to contrast with the lush greenery at Piccadilly Gardens- the grass, the shoppers, the buildings- this is new to all of the animals. Fluffy watches them soak it in as he steps backwards up Piccadilly Approach.
He does a quick head-count- all good.
“I have every faith in you, guys,” he says, jamming a cool £100 into the paws and claws of each animal. “Watch out for each other, and most of all- enjoy yourselves.”
They thank him, and their animalistic Manc accents boom like an international choir. They board the train, jamming themselves in through the door, and the carriage roars into life. The train lurches, throwing them north through Britain's derelict countryside.
Terence gazes out of the window. “Are we going to go past the Angel of the North?”
“Why?” asks Jacob. “Do you want to take a picture? Pose in front of it?”
Jacob nudges Edgar the gorilla for backup. Edgar smiles, and semi-purposefully bangs his head on the window. His padded helmet muffles the blow.
“Yes,” says Peter. “Yes, we'll go past it,” like Terence has asked him a thousand times before. He pulls out a copy of 1984 from his butt cheek and takes out the bookmark.
Terence works on his breathing.
You're not the only one with problems, he thinks to himself. Everyone else just shows theirs in a different way. You're no worse off than anyone else. Even Jacob's fucked up somehow.