Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 34 of 61

She shook her head, and anger blazed in her utterly scrutable hazel eyes. “No. I’m going back to who I was, before I met you.”

It hurt, bad. I had loved the old, steeplechase Zed, had loved her fun and mischief. The Zed she’d become after we wed was terrible and terrifying, but I’d stuck with her out of respect for the person she’d been.

Now she was off to restore herself from a backup made before she met me. She was going to lop 18 months out of her life, start over again, revert to a saved version.

Hurt? It ached like a motherfucker.

I went back to the station a month later, and saw her jamming in the sphere with a guy who had three extra sets of arms depending from his hips. He scuttled around the sphere while she played a jig on the piano, and when her silver eyes lit on me, there wasn’t a shred of recognition in them. She’d never met me.

I died some, too, putting the incident out of my head and sojourning to Disney World, there to reinvent myself with a new group of friends, a new career, a new life. I never spoke of Zed again — especially not to Lil, who hardly needed me to pollute her with remembrances of my crazy exes.

If I was nuts, it wasn’t the kind of spectacular nuts that Zed had gone. It was a slow, seething, ugly nuts that had me alienating my friends, sabotaging my enemies, driving my girlfriend into my best friend’s arms.

I decided that I would see a doctor, just as soon as we’d run the rehab past the ad-hoc’s general meeting. I had to get my priorities straight.

I pulled on last night’s clothes and walked out to the Monorail station in the main lobby. The platform was jammed with happy guests, bright and cheerful and ready for a day of steady, hypermediated fun. I tried to make myself attend to them as individuals, but try as I might, they kept turning into a crowd, and I had to plant my feet firmly on the platform to keep from weaving among them to the edge, the better to snag a seat.

The meeting was being held over the Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland, just steps from where I’d been turned into a road-pizza by the still-unidentified assassin. The Adventureland ad-hocs owed the Liberty Square crew a favor since my death had gone down on their turf, so they had given us use of their prize meeting room, where the Florida sun streamed through the slats of the shutters, casting a hash of dust-filled shafts of light across the room. The faint sounds of the tiki-drums and the spieling Jungle Cruise guides leaked through the room, a low-key ambient buzz from two of the Park’s oldest rides.

There were almost a hundred ad-hocs in the Liberty Square crew, almost all second-gen castmembers with big, friendly smiles. They filled the room to capacity, and there was much hugging and handshaking before the meeting came to order. I was thankful that the room was too small for the de rigueur ad-hoc circle-of-chairs, so that Lil was able to stand at a podium and command a smidge of respect.

“Hi there!” she said, brightly. The weepy puffiness was still present around her eyes, if you knew how to look for it, but she was expert at putting on a brave face no matter what the ache.

The ad-hocs roared back a collective, “Hi, Lil!” and laughed at their own corny tradition. Oh, they sure were a barrel of laughs at the Magic Kingdom.

“Everybody knows why we’re here, right?” Lil said, with a self-deprecating smile. She’d been lobbying hard for weeks, after all. “Does anyone have any questions about the plans? We’d like to start executing right away.”

A guy with deliberately boyish, wholesome features put his arm in the air. Lil acknowledged him with a nod. “When you say ‘right away,’ do you mean –“

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