Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 44 of 61

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.

I changed clothes in a bathroom on Main Street, switching into a black cowl that completely obscured my features, then slunk through the shadows along the storefronts until I came to the moat around Cinderella’s castle. Keeping low, I stepped over the fence and duck-walked down the embankment, then slipped into the water and sloshed across to the Adventureland side.

Slipping along to the Liberty Square gateway, I flattened myself in doorways whenever I heard maintenance crews passing in the distance, until I reached the Hall of Presidents, and in a twinkling I was inside the theater itself.

Humming the Small World theme, I produced a short wrecking bar from my cowl’s tabbed pocket and set to work.

The primary broadcast units were hidden behind a painted scrim over the stage, and they were surprisingly well built for a first generation tech. I really worked up a sweat smashing them, but I kept at it until not a single component remained recognizable. The work was slow and loud in the silent Park, but it lulled me into a sleepy reverie, an autohypnotic swing-bang-swing-bang timeless time. To be on the safe side, I grabbed the storage units and slipped them into the cowl.

Locating their backup units was a little trickier, but years of hanging out at the Hall of Presidents while Lil tinkered with the animatronics helped me. I methodically investigated every nook, cranny and storage area until I located them, in what had been a break-room closet. By now, I had the rhythm of the thing, and I made short work of them.

I did one more pass, wrecking anything that looked like it might be a prototype for the next generation or notes that would help them reconstruct the units I’d smashed.

I had no illusions about Debra’s preparedness — she’d have something offsite that she could get up and running in a few days. I wasn’t doing anything permanent, I was just buying myself a day or two.

I made my way clean out of the Park without being spotted, and sloshed my way into my runabout, shoes leaking water from the moat.

For the first time in weeks, I slept like a baby.

Of course, I got caught. I don’t really have the temperament for Machiavellian shenanigans, and I left a trail a mile wide, from the muddy footprints in the Contemporary’s lobby to the wrecking bar thoughtlessly left behind, with my cowl and the storage units from the Hall, forgotten on the back seat of my runabout.

I whistled my personal jazzy uptempo version of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” as I made my way from Costuming, through the utilidor, out to Liberty Square, a few minutes before the Park opened.

Standing in front of me were Lil and Debra. Debra was holding my cowl and wrecking bar. Lil held the storage units.

I hadn’t put on my transdermals that morning, and so the emotion I felt was unmuffled, loud and yammering.

I ran.

I ran past them, along the road to Adventureland, past the Tiki Room where I’d been killed, past the Adventureland gate where I’d waded through the moat, down Main Street. I ran and ran, elbowing early guests, trampling flowers, knocking over an apple cart across from the Penny Arcade.

I ran until I reached the main gate, and turned, thinking I’d outrun Lil and Debra and all my problems. I’d thought wrong. They were both there, a step behind me, puffing and red. Debra held my wrecking bar like a weapon, and she brandished it at me.

“You’re a goddamn idiot, you know that?” she said. I think if we’d been alone, she would’ve swung it at me.

“Can’t take it when someone else plays rough, huh, Debra?” I sneered.

Lil shook her head disgustedly. “She’s right, you are an idiot. The ad-hoc’s meeting in Adventureland. You’re coming.”

“Why?” I asked, feeling belligerent. “You going to honor me for all my hard work?”

“We’re going to talk about the future, Julius, what’s left of it for us.”

“For God’s sake, Lil, can’t you see what’s going on? They killed me! They did it, and now we’re fighting each other instead of her! Why can’t you see how wrong that is?”

“You’d better watch those accusations, Julius,” Debra said, quietly and intensely, almost hissing. “I don’t know who killed you or why, but you’re the one who’s guilty here. You need help.”

I barked a humorless laugh. Guests were starting to stream into the now-open Park, and several of them were watching intently as the three costumed castmembers shouted at each other. I could feel my Whuffie hemorrhaging. “Debra, you are purely full of shit, and your work is trite and unimaginative. You’re a fucking despoiler and you don’t even have the guts to admit it.”

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