Welcome to Alternia, the biggest and most spectacular zoo in the world.
That's what the sign shows. The message, painted in bright colors, was responsible for attracting the attention of children of all ages, who ran to the entrance dragging their parents and guardians with them.
The only difference is that you are not a child.
Your name is (y/n), you are (years) years old and you have always dreamed about working with animals.
You were never a girl like the others; you never liked playing to be a singer, or to design dresses for cardboard barbies. No, you wanted to be a veterinarian.
It is something difficult to explain. You always had a very special connection with animals; from your first pet, a little cinnamon-colored street kitten you chose to name Coco, to the last of your current dogs, a little long-haired Yorkshire named Mia, you had always had a special connection with each and every one of them.
"So... I guess you're the new employee, right?"
Without warning you were taken out of your thoughts by the grave male voice. You quickly turned around, only to meet the look of a young man of your age. He had curly chocolate hair and small freckles all over his face, along with bright green eyes.
"Y-Yes, I'm the new veterinary assistant. M-my name (y/n)" you stuttered as you nervously offered a hand to the man in the zoo uniform.
He smiled and burst into a loud laugh as he shook your hand with a huge force.
"Why are you so nervous? My name is Jeremy Wilson, I'm in charge of feeding the animals. Come, I'll show you the place. "
You followed Jeremy nervously through the room, until you came to a door marked with a "employees only" sign. Then he pulled a key out of his back pocket and opened the door. Judging by the appearance, it must have been a kind of warehouse for the employees; the floor was made of black tiles and there were lockers covering almost completely the 4 walls.
"The zoo has never had so many employees to have to use all the lockers" he said while he opened one of the lockers that had no padlock and searched inside "but equally insist on leaving them all. Anyway, it's not a bad thing, so we have an extra space in case someone needs to save something more than usually". Jeremy picked up some carefully folded clothes and handed them to you.
You watched with curiosity, there were a pair of light blue suits with the logo of the zoo in white at the chest.
"There are two pairs in case you need to change them" he indicated "you have to put on your uniform before entering any of the indoor areas and change to your normal clothes before the end of the day. There are some changing rooms over there, "he said pointing to a corridor on the left.
You obediently nodded and went to the indicated way. You entered the girls' locker room (which did not seem to have been worn for a long time) and you changed to the uniform. Luckily Jeremy seemed to have an eye for the clothing sizes, because it fit perfectly.
You folded your clothes carefully and you headed to where you left the feed manager.
"Oh, there you are" he gave you a kind smile. His gaze went down to your clothes and indicated a small gray locker at the end of one of the corners.
"You can leave your clothes there, you have the padlock opened. It's a spare locker in case one of the employees forgets to bring his own padlock"
You smiled gratefully and put your clothes in the locker, then you followed Jeremy to the next room. It looked like a surveillance room with multiple cameras and electronic devices.
"From here we watch the animals" he pointed to a modern keyboard under the cameras "we can disconnect or increase the security; close the cages and even send electro shocks if the situation needs it. "
The shocks seemed like an excessive security measure for you, but who were you to talk to? After all you had not even seen the creatures of the zoo (despite all the stories you had heard).
Suddenly one of the doors of the room opened, letting in what appeared to be another employee. He had straight, black hair, and he looked extremely tired and bored. In one of his hands he brought a large cup of coffee.
"Hey! Nick! How are you? How about Amelia? "Jeremy greeted the stranger effusively, who decided to ignore him and sit down on the chair in front of the cameras, while continuing to drink his coffee.
Jeremy's smile dropped, but he realized you were watching so he pretended that everything was fine.
"He's Nick," he said with a slightly forced smile, which made you frown "he's... silent. But he's really nice, right Nick? "
Nick gave a grunt in response, and you pretended to smile so as not to make the situation more uncomfortable.
Eventually Jeremy and you left the room and continued your tour of several zoo areas. When he reached the end of the hall he stopped and his voice took on a slightly more serious tone.
"This" he said, pointing to the reinforced door, "is the door that leads to the section of the cages. It is very important that you heed the instructions and do not leave me at any moment, understood? "
You nodded and he inserted a card through the automatic slot, the machine made some mechanical sounds before returning the card and unlocking itself with a thud.
You followed Jeremy carefully inside the compound. It was a huge hallway-shaped room, the roof was made of transparent glass and to the sides there were several cages separated by fences, each one with its respective door with a padlock.
"Have you ever heard about trolls?"
You shook your head and he scratched the back of his neck.
"Yeah... not many people do it," he murmured. "It's one of our main attractions, I thought you probably heard about them, you know, because of the vet job and all that."
You shook your head.
"I moved recently, I was recommended to work here for the good reputation of the place..., but I really think I've never seen... trolls?" You said with doubt about the pronunciation of the name.
Jeremy laughed softly.
"It's okay, not many people have actually seen them, that's why they are such a popular attraction here. Although they are pretty good at hiding and are not usually very sociable or friendly, but you end up getting used to them" he explain calmly, "even I have come to be able to see some of them closely through the years" he added with a small smile.
Jeremy looked at his watch, checking the time.
"Well, it seems like it's lunchtime" he said with a kind smile on his face "Are you coming?"
You nodded softly and gave one last look at the imposing cages of the enclosure, with a strange sensation, as if something was close, very close...
You shook the strange thoughts out of your head and headed down the hallway with Jeremy, a small smile breaking through your face.
Maybe this work was good after all.
The couple of young trolls observed hidden inside one of the cages.
"Who ii2 2he?" the young yellow blood male asked, his wings falling back behind him suspiciously.
The female sniffed the air.
"1T DO NOT SM3LL 4S 4NYON3 1 KNOW"
His partner frowned as he watched as the young human left the area of the cages.
"II do not tru2t her."