Secret Prize Inside

Meyer's Zoo & Aquarium 
Going to the aquarium alone wasn't sad right? People were starting to embrace solo movie theater trips, so why not aquariums, amusement parks, or fancy restaurants? Sometimes you want to treat yourself to a nice dinner without the waiter asking if your date was running a little late. He just wanted to eat a bowl of lobster pasta without judgement.

Didn't matter anyway. Zachary was already here with an exhibit map in hand. The penguin feeding was in a few hours and he was going to be first in line. Out of the way small children.

He had severely underestimated the size of this place. With time to kill, he wasn't sure where to start. Just inside the entrance was an extravagant gift shop and at least six food vendors, looks like they wanted to start off strong. Those didn't catch his eyes, but the large array of capsule and gumball machines sure did.

A few seconds of rifling through his pockets got him the prize of a stray quarter. Success! The big one right in the middle with a mixture of trinkets, bouncy balls, and candy was calling him. There wasn't anything like the silly joy of getting a little surprise. There was a reason happy meals and cereals with prizes were so popular. Anyone who said they outgrew any of those was a lying liar.

The quarter was in and the knob was turned, now to see his chosen prize. Zachary lifted the rubber flap, and watched in shock as the entire contents of the machine started pouring out on to the floor.


To some, the reason for Saoirse's love for aquariums might have been considered depressing. If the girl was capable of such negative thinking, she might have agreed. She'd always loved animals... well, the ones that weren't giant and seemingly rabid raccoons attacking her. But growing up she'd always had pets of different sorts. Fish, though, had always been her most favorite! All the colors and the fluid movements of their bodies through water was mesmerizing! In another life, she thought she ought to be a mermaid. Alas. She was a trash panda. Such was life!

Still! She was overjoyed with the realization that fish hardly paid much mind to Weres. Other animals weren't so keen, and it was rather heartbreaking to have to avoid them! Still, Saoirse could have a grand time at an aquarium. And, for the record, she saw nothing wrong with doing things like this by herself! It made it fun! What was also fun, was exploring all the little shops that made up the grand entrance of the aquarium. She was marveling at a large gum-ball machine when a young looking lad came over to give it a spin. She watched excitedly as he put in a quarter, but that radiant smile turned to shock when the machine started spewing its contents! With a little gasp, Saoirse hurried around to the front and stooped down. She could not hide the little laugh at the ridiculousness of the marvel; little capsules with prizes and gum balls and bouncy balls pouring out of the flap and raining down upon the floor.

"Ahhh!" She exclaimed sympathetically as her hands extended to try and pull down the flap to stop the flow.

The shock of the machine malfunctioning slowed his reaction time. By the time the rubber flap was lowered by some kind bystander, hundreds of different sized capsules and candy had scattered across the floor. He had essentially made a hazardous environment for the price of 25 cents.

He reluctantly crouched down. This was an open area and there was no way he could get away with pretending this didn't happen. Zachary stared down at the sea of trinkets and huffed. Better start cleaning up a little. There was a steady plop plop to the side. Turned out the rubber flap wasn't quite enough to withstand the pressure of the remaining capsules as a few more dropped to the floor. Zachary groaned. He could never come here again. Let the universe swallow him up or smother him with all these tiny capsules.

He kept his eyes locked firmly to the floor and swept his arms out to gather some candy and capsules into a pile. On the bright side he could keep all of these right? He did pay for them after all.


The flood cut short as she pressed the flap down and she let out a huff as she pulled away and turned to start scooping some up. Except the avalanche had been too powerful, and a few more capsules popped out before finally ceasing. Saoirse grimaced at the mess, and looked to the lad that looked like he'd rather melt into the floor. With a tiny chuckle, she moved on her knees a bit closer to him to start scooping capsules into her arms. "Maybe they'll let you keep 'em all?" She offered and paused to regard his boyish face. Some employees were approaching to help with cleanup.

His growing pile of candy and trinkets would have made his past 6 year old self very jealous indeed. Surely he could find some use for a couple dozen bouncy balls.

Someone had joined him on the floor and was helping to gather the wayward capsules. She was either a kind soul or also wanted to get in on the loot. Couldn't really blame her. At some point in their childhood, most people had at least one fantasy of a pile of toys raining down for the taking. In adulthood, that fantasy simply switched to money or food. That was a fact.

She had voiced exactly what he had been thinking. There were now employees at the edges of the avalanche starting to gather the most ambitious of the capsules. They could take those. The growing pile in front of him was his.

"I think finders keepers is how things will go." He grinned at her and patted his pile. "Just need something to carry these." He looked around quickly, but nothing caught his eye. A sudden ah-ha moment occurred to Zachary and he began unwrapping his scarf. Perfect. All these babies were coming home with him.

That did seem fair! Saoirse giggled as he made a little pouch with his scarf, and even offered him a handful to add to his collection. The employees, however, swooped in to ruin their fun. A gangly teenager asked them to move whilst a woman neared with a large broom. Saoirse complied, half afraid they would confinscate the prizes from the scarf boy. They didn't! With a beaming smile, Saoirse moved along side the boy as they made way for the cleanup crew. "Well, I'd say you got your money's worth!" She chuckled.

The employees had so rudely descended upon the area and where shooing bystanders away as they cleaned. Zachary was pleased with the amount his make-shift scarf bag can carry, so he allowed them to herd him away from the rest. There was a good $20-30 worth wrapped in the bundle. He had yet to figure out what to do with his prizes, but that was a problem for later.

The girl from before must be a saint. She had offered him more trinkets from her own stash. "Thank you." He tucked them away with the rest.

There was a plastic ninja included in the handful. He couldn't let such generosity go without some acknowledgment. "Hi. I'm Zachary." He rustled around his collection and pulled out a colorful handful of gum balls and jawbreakers. "Can I interest you in some candy in exchange?" Some of them might not have passed the five second rule. He hoped she wouldn't mind.

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