Alice Walker was no scientist.
Literally anybody on the street could see her and say that was an undeniable fact.
But, despite that fact, she liked to think that she knew the one undeniable many have chosen to ignore.
Everybody was awful.
So what she couldn't comprehend was how this bundle of flowers ended up by her office door.
She picked up the bouquet, looking for any tags. There were none.
They seemed to be cobbled up from the many flowers that grew outside in the park, lots of red tulips and purple lilacs, and a single yellow daffodil sat in the center like a jewel. She plucked the yellow flower out, and turned it over in her palm.
The flowers were fresh, likely left only minutes before hand.
She went inside and dumped them in the trash.
If people wanted flowers delivered, then they should at least give a name of the person.
"Yo Alice!" Bill called, entering her office. She looked up from the stack paperwork that littered her desk. She promptly dropped her pen on floor, glad to have an excuse to stop counting out paychecks. She was very familiar with Bill, he had almost been working at the zoo as long as she had, and had the most tolerance when it came to the strange happenings that went on around them. She could appreciate a guy who could keep a level head.
"What is it, Bill?" She asked, leaning back in her swivel chair.
"Ah, jeeze, this a bad time?" He asked, poking his head through her door. He had spotted the dozens of files and the calculator on her desk, and recognized that Alice was busy. One too many new employees had disturbed her during, what she considered, the worst part of her day. He was backing out of her doorway, wanting to avoid her wrath.
"No. Now is fine. What is it?" She said, idly scratching her cheek.
"There's like a buncha... flowers in the garbage cans. No idea where they're coming from. Thought I'd let you know."
"Oh, yeah. Those. Someone's been dumping them at my door for the past... like, nine days? Anyway, they didn't have a name attached to the m so I had no idea who to give them to. Been throwing them out." She said. Bill looked at her and raised an eyebrow.
"...Alice?" He said slowly.
"What?" She didn't like the look he was giving her, it was a look that read 'are you stupid?', in big capital letters.
"Don't ya think those flowers are for, ya know... You?" He asked. She let out a bark of laughter.
"Pshh. Trust me, those aren't for me." She said.
"Then who else could they be for?" Bill asked, looking genuinely confused.
"I dunno. You, maybe?" She suggested. Bill's face immediately went red and he scampered out of her doorway, leaving the door swinging. She had learned early on that Bill was for some reason, really into sappy romance. It didn't really suit his large frame out his ragged face all too well, but she didn't judge.
She let out another huff of amusement. Flowers? For her? Absurd.
She continued to think that the poor sap leaving flowers at her door was simply getting an address wrong, until she found a red envelope next to one of the bouquets.
Inside was a poem.
'My heart burns for you
For some strange reason I cannot know
But my heart beats for you
You, my sweet angel.'
She blanched when she read it, not expecting it at all. Was this some sort of joke? It wasn't funny. And a waste of park flowers. She dumped the bouquet in the trash again, and after a single moment's hesitation, dumped the red card as well.
She was done with all these flowers. She was going to stake out in front of her door the next time flowers were dropped, and she'd put a stop to it.
She was sick of it.
She pulled out a chair that had been folded up in hee garage for three years, dusted it off, and set it in front of her office door. The building she did paperwork in was strange, having two entrances to her office, one from the outside and one from within. She was seated next to the door facing away from her zoo, now looking at an empty park.
She could almost say it was beautiful, the way the morning sun just barely peeked over the skyscrapers in the distance, how the dew on the grass made it glitter in the newly forming gold rays. No birds chirped, no animal scurried about. It was completely silent, except for the fain whoosh of wind.
But Alice had long stopped noticing the beauty of nature, had long stopped noticing a lot of lovely things about the world.
So she sat there, reclined, cold. And she waited.
As the sun continued to rise, and slowly the world around her began to wake, she lost her grip on awareness.
Alice worked a constant, everyday, fifteen hour workshift. The only day off she had was on christmas, but besides that, her schedule was like clockwork. She singlehandedly did the job of four zookeepers, for fourteen hours minimum each day, and an extra, unpaid, hour at the end to do paperwork.
Waking up early was not a new feeling for Alice, but waking up after only two hours of sleep was.
She passed out in front of her work.
"See anything?" Skipper asked, standing next to Kowalski .
"Affirmative, Skipper. It's Zookeeper Alice." The tall penguin said, lowering his binoculars.
"Alice? She's not usually here at this hour." Private said, looking over the roof of the zoo. True enough, the laying form of their zookeeper sat seven feet below them. She was snoring slightly. "What do you think she's doing?"
"She sleepin." Rico said, nodding wisely.
"Yes, she does indeed appear to be sleeping." Kowalski agreed. Skipper slapped him.
"That's what she wants you to think! Don't you see, boys? She's guarding something! She knows something. We need to find out what!" Skipper said, nearly shouting. The slumbering Alice below them stirred, and the other penguijs were quick to shush their leader.
"Are you trying to wake her up?!" Kowalski hissed, "I thought you said this mission was intel gathering only!"
"I've got to agree with Kowalski, Skipper. You know what they say about waking a sleeping bear." Private said. Rico nodded.
They all knew, at least to an extent, that Alice could quite literally crush them. She had fought all the animals in the zoo at least once, against the gorillas and the kangaroo, and had won in an instant. She was, technically, the greatest danger to their operation. Mostly because if she found out any information, they wouldn't be able to stop her from leaking it. She was not to be trusted, and to be wary of at all times.
And even Skipper had to admit, the woman was an inhuman powerhouse.
"Okay, fine. What are your ideas as to why she's here?" He asked, leaning back on his heels. He cocked an eyebrow at them.
"Leave her alone and let her sleep?" Private suggested. Skipper burst out in laughter, which was quickly silenced by Kowalski.
"No, seriously." Skipper said, catching his breath, "Options, men?"
The three penguins shrugged.
"Watch for more information. She's got to wake up eventually, we'll watch safely from the sidelines." Kowalski said.
"Leave and go back home and finish watching TV!" Private said.
"Kill 'er!" Rico said, earning concerned looks from the rest of his team. Rico quickly tucked the dagger he was holding behind his back.
Footsteps were heard on the sidewalk behind them. They immediately went quiet, and Kowalski picked up the binoculars again.
"It's Officer X!" He whispered.
"Him again? Didn't we deal with him, like, a week ago?" Skipper hissed.
"Eleven days ago, Skipper. With the love ray, remember?" Private clarified.
"Oh, yeah. We never did find out what he fell in love with-" Skipper said, but cut himself off.
"Skipper?" Rico waved his flipper in front of his leader's beak.
"He has flowers."
"Oh, it appears he does- oh my gosh." Kowalski was now also dumbstruck.
"Guys? What is it? What's wrong?" Private asked.
"Yea! What is it?!" Rico asked as well.
"Well." Kowalski started. "This is going to be interesting."