Night. Cold. A river front- The Tyne, Terence guesses. Reflected in the water: a shimmering, metallic blob- a large, pupae-shaped shiny building. To the left- a sturdy but shoddy bridge linking the riversides. New rubs shoulders with old.
Terence thinks his problems are similarly close.
The breeze bounces straight off the river and into Terence's tiny eyes.
I've gotta salvage some dignity from this excursion, Terence thinks. I want to go back feeling like I've done something.
Edgar is gripping the railings at the river's edge. Terence leaves the group, approaching him from behind. Edgar's silver shoulders rise... and fall... in the moonlight.
The ape could squash Terence like a steamroller if he wanted.
“Did they rip you off?” Terence asks quietly.
Edgar's shoulders pause, like he's stopped breathing. He turns. “Who told you that?”
“Nobody. They did it to me too. I had to borrow off Jacob.”
A voice cuts in. “And Jacob mustn't tell anyone, right?”
Terence turns. Steam churns out of Jacob's nostrils in the frozen Geordie air.
Time to man up, Terence thinks. “Jacob. You saw what happened. If I'd have known it wasn't just me being a mug, I'd have kicked off.”
But Terence thinks, Would I? I wish I had, now.
“And you would too. In fact, fuck it,” Terence says. “Lads?” he calls.
The rest of the animals straggle over.
Terence comes clean to them all.
“Fucking hell,” says Harry. “They saw you coming, didn't they!”
Harry raises his eyebrows.
“We went 'round a few bars," says Terence. “Regular bars. That's all. That's our story, until Fluffy hears otherwise. Then we play it by ear.” He stretches his wings. “There's a few hours to kill 'til the train.”
Terence turns. He paces off down the river front, focussing on a giant electric-blue arc in the sky- some kind of backlit bridge straddling the river, the water's reflection giving the light a loop appearance.
A portal, he thinks.
He wants to pass through it, straight through the middle, just over the water's surface, and burst the space-time continuum, landing back at Oldham Zoo in a split second- channelled straight back onto his isolated perch.
Terence shakes his head clear. Pretentious bastard. It's no wonder you haven't got a girlfriend.
He looks into the black water, passing under the bridge like the events of the night.
I just want to go home. But I guess I'll have to wait.