Howard woke with a start and shook his head. He got up, put his uniform on and went about his day. They day almost would have been normal if Bob Fossil hadn't convinced Howard to wear a gorilla suit because Bollo was sick and dying. He figured his life couldn't get any more sad and pathetic, what was the point of fighting Fossil on this.
Unfortunately for him, his acting was so good that death actually mistook him for Bollo. Death took him half way to monkey hell before Howard spoke up and told him he had the wrong guy. He was then taken to purgatory where he was able to contact Vince to rescue him.
"Are you really dead, Howard?" Vince asked as Howard's ghost stood tall before him. There was a sadness to his voice, like he didn't truly believe it till just now.
"Yes, I know it's a shock. Death comes to us all, but I'm not afraid. It's the natural cycle- but I've been taken before my time, Vince."
Vince went to Naboo for guidance.
"He thinks he's dead now, Naboo. What do I do with that?" Vince sighed as he played with a few knickknacks that were lying around, an alligator in particular caught his attention and he began to fiddle with it. Naboo snatched the alligator from Vince's hands and set it on the table.
"Go rescue him." Naboo sighed. "That's obviously what he wants."
"I don't know if I should be feeding into it." Vince lazily tapped a finger to his chin. "But I suppose I have no choice." Vince left the Kiosk and continued on his quest to save Howard from Monkey hell. It was some big ordeal, but Vince was able to talk his way out of it with his vast knowledge of hair care products.
Howard was brought back to the zoo safe and sound and Vince was relieved that the whole experience was short lived. He made Howard a cup of tea to relax him before heading off to bed.
That night Howard dreamed that Bainbridge had been hanging around the zoo a lot more frequently. There were rumours going around that he was going to try to sell the zoo. Howard was devastated at the very idea. The zoo had been his home for nearly 20 years. If they sold the zoo most of the animals wouldn't make it and Howard and Vince would be on the street.
The nightmare felt too real and Howard forced himself to wake from it. His dreams were becoming too stressful for him, he almost missed the days when he didn't sleep at all.
The next day Bainbridge returned from his trip to the arctic tundra and was spinning grand tales of his adventures there. Howard was uneasy by the man's return as last night's dream was still clear in his head. Never the less they joined the others in hearing his heroic tails, no matter how fabricated and idiotic they were. Howard was annoyed at how everyone was fawning over Bainbridge.
"It's as if they all forgot about the mutant thing." Howard whispered in Vince's ear.
"Yeah." Vince nodded and smiled then shook his head and looked at Howard. "What?"
"The mutants?" Howard urged. Vince nodded slowly and turned back to Bainbridge's story.
Bainbridge talked about a mystical egg that he was searching for, and Howard knew right away that it was his shot at sticking it to the old windbag. He packed his things and convinced Vince to tag along with him.
The trip was brief, but they accomplished so much. They found the egg, stuck it to Bainbridge and returned to claim their glory at the zoo. Everything was looking up- that was until the egg turned out to be a fake and they were totally disgraced.
"Nothing ever works out in my favour." Howard mumbled as he climbed into his sleeping back.
"Do you ever think that maybe you're the reason for your own failure?" Vince climbed into his sleeping bag as well. Was he suggesting that Howard was purposely shooting himself in the foot? Like Howard set them up to find a fake egg in the middle of the arctic tundra? Howard laughed to himself and shook his head, it was all nonsense. But still… he couldn't shake the weird feeling those words gave him. It was as if he knew they were true but he wasn't sure how.
Howard slipped off into his dreamland where Vince and he were lying in the same sleeping bag and cuddling naked. He always started his dreams in confusion. His stirring caused Vince wake up.
"Alright." Howard said awkwardly.
"Last night was a trip, as usual." Vince laughed and hugged Howard tightly. "We could do it again, yeah?" Howard looked at the ceiling in confusion. "Don't be mopey on me this morning, this move could be a good thing for us! A nice change."
Vince smiled his cheekiest smile and slowly sunk into the sleeping bag. Howard looked down in time to see Vince's eyes beaming from the dark of the bag and taking Howard into his mouth. The sensation was startling but he welcomed it. As long as Vince didn't know about these weird dreams he could just enjoy the ride.
A few days had passed since Howard and Vince had gone to the Arctic. Howard had just received news that Bainbridge was planning on selling the zoo that very week. He was horrified, his nightmares were coming true- the worst possible thing that could happen to him.
Howard had to come up with a plan to save the zoo. He thought the only way to save the zoo was to bring Tommy back from the dead. Maybe if Tommy was secretly still alive he would still own the zoo and be able to cut Bainbridge off. He had a strange hunch that maybe Tommy's disappearance was actually Tommy going into hiding because he knew Bainbridge had plans to kill him. Howard convinced himself that Tommy was alive and he would find him.
He dragged Vince with him into the Jungle room, which had been boarded up since Tommy's disappearance. The two men journeyed inside to begin the hunt.
When he did find him, Tommy was not at all like he remembered. He was a strange little cheese-head man who had completely lost his mind in a jungle room. It was a highly disappointing sight for Howard… his mentor had lost it. The idea of being so far gone like Tommy was scared Howard, he was sorry he ever tracked him down.
Despite Tommy's insanity he did help Howard and Vince save the Zoo from being sold. Howard was relieved that he wouldn't have to move, but Vince was not satisfied. He seemed uneasy and tense for the next few days.
"Howard, Fossil has asked us to transport the bear to another zoo." Vince played with his hair and avoided Howard's sudden eye contact.
"He broke out of his cage and attacked some people." Vince shrugged.
"We can't leave the zoo now!" Howard started to panic. Vince raced to his side and rubbed his back.
"Sure we can, we're just taking the bear to happier place, and then we can come right back." Vince cooed. "Think of it as a fun little road trip." Howard let out a small smile and began to nod.
"I like road trips." He breathed. Vince let out a sigh of relief.
The two men gathered up the truck and whatever else they needed to get the bear ready to go. Howard watched as Vince talked quietly to Naboo about something. He wondered if they were talking about him. When Vince looked at him he looked away quickly so that Vince wouldn't know he was staring. Vince joined Howard and soon they were on the open road.
"Oh yeah, this is more like it, eh?" Howard said awkwardly in the silence of the truck. "Getting out on the open road, getting away from the zoo… yeah… I feel at home on the road, Vince." Howard continued on into a story about how he'd travelled around as a boy but he felt as though Vince was ignoring him.
The rest of the drive was frustrating from then on. Vince and Howard kept arguing over nothing till eventually Howard kicked Vince out of the vehicle. He felt bad for kicking him out after he'd done it, but he was trying to prove a point and refused to back down.
That was when he saw the hitchhiker.
Vince came out of the truck stop bathroom to find the truck gone. He began to panic, he never expected Howard to just drive off like that on his own. Vince slammed his fists into the wall angrily.
"What a stupid idea!" He spat out. His plan was to pack up the moving van and drive it around the countryside for a day so Howard wouldn't notice they were moving. He had hoped Howard would fall for the 'moving the bear' story and that everything would be good- but maybe Howard didn't fall for it. Maybe he was ditching Vince and returning to the zoo. Vince moaned angrily. If Howard went back to the zoo now he would see it being bulldozed. They had already over stayed after everyone had gone.
Vince started to walk out to the road and headed back towards the city. That's when an ambulance whizzed by him. He watched it head down the road and prayed it wasn't for Howard. He then heard a police car, he jumped out into the road and the car slammed on it's break.
"Bloody hell!" The cop screamed rolling down his window. Burnt rubber filled the air. "You better have a good reason for stoppin' me boy! I'm headed to an emergency!"
"Please sir, my friend is seriously mentally ill and he took off with our moving truck when I went in to take a leak. I think it might be him. Please take me with you." Vince held his hands together like a prayer and the cop sighed.
"Alright, hop in."
"Thanks!" Vince ran to the passenger side and the car sped off like a rocket. They quickly came upon the scene. A truck had smashed into a tree but there was no body. "This yours?" The officer said taking notes. Vince nodded, his eyes wide with horror. More cops joined the scene and spread out looking for Howard. Vince called his name and trudged through the swampy woods in his nice boots. He was terrified for Howard. Terrified that he might be dead and terrified he was going to get them into serious trouble with the law.
He saw something in the distance that looked like a boot and began running towards it. There, lying in the mud was Howard. His eyes were closed, his head gashed open and blood all over his zoo uniform. Vince crouched down to his side and held his head.
"Howard, Howard?" Vince tapped his cheek lightly with his palm till Howard's eyes shot open.
"Wuh!" He exclaimed. "He's a cockney nut job! I don't want to be offensive animal food!" Howard backed up quickly till his back was against a tree.
"Howard, it's alright!" Vince held his hands up.
"Vince?" Howard blinked. "Where are we?"
"You drove the truck into a tree, there's an ambulance here to take you to the hospital." Vince stroked Howard's arm till the gurney was brought through the woods to collect him. Vince watched as they took Howard away. It was all his fault, he couldn't control Howard anymore. The hallucinations were stronger and he couldn't compete with them anymore.