Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 43 of 61

“But?”

“But we have limited resources around here. Not enough hours in the day for me to stay on top of the new folks, the rehab, everything. Not to mention that until we open the new Mansion, there’s a limited number of extras we can use out front. I’m concerned that we’re going to put someone on stage without proper training, or that we’re going to run out of uniforms; I’m also concerned about people coming all the way here and discovering that there aren’t any shifts for them to take.”

She gave me a relieved look. “Is that all? Don’t worry about it. I’ve been talking to Debra, over at the Hall of Presidents, and she says she can pick up any people who can’t be used at the Mansion — we could even rotate back and forth!” She was clearly proud of her foresight.

My ears buzzed. Debra, one step ahead of me all along the way. She probably suggested that Kim do some extra recruiting in the first place. She’d take in the people who came down to work the Mansion, convince them they’d been hard done by the Liberty Square crew, and rope them into her little Whuffie ranch, the better to seize the Mansion, the Park, the whole of Walt Disney World.

“Oh, I don’t think it’ll come to that,” I said, carefully. “I’m sure we can find a use for them all at the Mansion. More the merrier.”

Kim cocked quizzical, but let it go. I bit my tongue. The pain brought me back to reality, and I started planning costume production, training rosters, bunking. God, if only Suneep would finish the robots!


“What do you mean, ‘no’?” I said, hotly.

Lil folded her arms and glared. “No, Julius. It won’t fly. The group is already upset that all the glory is going to the new people, they’ll never let us bring more in. They also won’t stop working on the rehab to train them, costume them, feed them and mother them. They’re losing Whuffie every day that the Mansion’s shut up, and they don’t want any more delays. Dave’s already joined up with Debra, and I’m sure he’s not the last one.”

Dave — the jerk who’d pissed all over the rehab in the meeting. Of course he’d gone over. Lil and Dan stood side by side on the porch of the house where I’d lived. I’d driven out that night to convince Lil to sell the ad-hocs on bringing in more recruits, but it wasn’t going according to plan. They wouldn’t even let me in the house.

“So what do I tell Kim?”

“Tell her whatever you want,” Lil said. “You brought her in — you manage her. Take some goddamn responsibility for once in your life.”

It wasn’t going to get any better. Dan gave me an apologetic look. Lil glared a moment longer, then went into the house.

“Debra’s doing real well,” he said. “The net’s all over her. Biggest thing ever. Flash-baking is taking off in nightclubs, dance mixes with the DJ’s backup being shoved in bursts into the dancers.”

“God,” I said. “I fucked up, Dan. I fucked it all up.”

He didn’t say anything, and that was the same as agreeing.

Driving back to the hotel, I decided I needed to talk to Kim. She was a problem I didn’t need, and maybe a problem I could solve. I pulled a screeching U-turn and drove the little runabout to her place, a tiny condo in a crumbling complex that had once been a gated seniors’ village, pre-Bitchun.

Her place was easy to spot. All the lights were burning, faint conversation audible through the screen door. I jogged up the steps two at a time, and was about to knock when a familiar voice drifted through the screen.

Debra, saying: “Oh yes, oh yes! Terrific idea! I’d never really thought about using streetmosphere players to liven up the queue area, but you’re making a lot of sense. You people have just been doing the best work over at the Mansion — find me more like you and I’ll take them for the Hall any day!”

I heard Kim and her young friends chatting excitedly, proudly. The anger and fear suffused me from tip to toe, and I felt suddenly light and cool and ready to do something terrible.

I padded silently down the steps and got into my runabout.


Some people never learn. I’m one of them, apparently.

I almost chortled over the foolproof simplicity of my plan as I slipped in through the cast entrance using the ID card I’d scored when my systems went offline and I was no longer able to squirt my authorization at the door.

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