Franklin jumped in his seat. He pushed himself away from the desk, drawing in quick nervous breaths. “No, no!” the Zoo Man said. “It’s alright. It’s okay.”
Hannah wondered if he was talking to her or Franklin. The thing, the monster before her seemed just as agitated as she was.
She didn’t have words to describe what she was seeing. It had big bulging eyes that wrapped around to the side of its head. They were textured somehow, like the screen over a door or a window, and they were as red as the color of blood. Franklin’s face was flat with no nose or mouth at all, and there was a long thin fleshy thing hanging from off of his chin. It twitched in the air, like it was a snake’s tongue, but it was no tongue at all. It was part of his face, and at the end there was a flat disk that dripped thin, clear spit. There was no hair on his head, but there were a bunch of thick, black spines set at regular intervals.
The Zoo Man walked around to the Franklin thing and patted it on the back. Its mouth tongue tentacle thing settled down, twitching more slowly and then not at all as The Zoo Man rubbed its shoulders and whispered soothing words to it. “It’s okay. It’s okay. She didn’t mean anything by it. She’s just startled is all.”
“That’s a really neat mask, Mister,” David said.
“It’s not a mask,” Hannah whispered.
“It’s not an it,” the Zoo Man said with a note of annoyance in his voice. “This is my brother.”