Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom – Day 53 of 61

The Liberty Square ad-hocs marched shoulder to shoulder through the utilidors and, as a mass, took back the Haunted Mansion. Dan, Lil and I were up front, careful not to brush against one another as we walked quickly through the backstage door and started a bucket-brigade, passing out the materials that Debra’s people had stashed there, along a line that snaked back to the front porch of the Hall of Presidents, where they were unceremoniously dumped.

Once the main stash was vacated, we split up and roamed the ride, its service corridors and dioramas, the break-room and the secret passages, rounding up every scrap of Debra’s crap and passing it out the door.

In the attic scene, I ran into Kim and three of her giggly little friends, their eyes glinting in the dim light. The gaggle of transhuman kids made my guts clench, made me think of Zed and of Lil and of my unmediated brain, and I had a sudden urge to shred them verbally.


No. That way lay madness and war. This was about taking back what was ours, not punishing the interlopers. “Kim, I think you should leave,” I said, quietly.

She snorted and gave me a dire look. “Who died and made you boss?” she said. Her friends thought it very brave, they made it clear with double-jointed hip-thrusts and glares.

“Kim, you can leave now or you can leave later. The longer you wait, the worse it will be for you and your Whuffie. You blew it, and you’re not a part of the Mansion anymore. Go home, go to Debra. Don’t stay here, and don’t come back. Ever.”

Ever. Be cast out of this thing that you love, that you obsess over, that you worked for. “Now,” I said, quiet, dangerous, barely in control.

They sauntered into the graveyard, hissing vitriol at me. Oh, they had lots of new material to post to the anti-me sites, messages that would get them Whuffie with people who thought I was the scum of the earth. A popular view, those days.

I got out of the Mansion and looked at the bucket-brigade, followed it to the front of the Hall. The Park had been open for an hour, and a herd of guests watched the proceedings in confusion. The Liberty Square ad-hocs passed their loads around in clear embarrassment, knowing that they were violating every principle they cared about.

As I watched, gaps appeared in the bucket-brigade as castmembers slipped away, faces burning scarlet with shame. At the Hall of Presidents, Debra presided over an orderly relocation of her things, a cheerful cadre of her castmembers quickly moving it all offstage. I didn’t have to look at my handheld to know what was happening to our Whuffie.

By evening, we were back on schedule. Suneep supervised the placement of his telepresence rigs and Lil went over every system in minute detail, bossing a crew of ad-hocs that trailed behind her, double- and triple-checking it all.

Suneep smiled at me when he caught sight of me, hand-scattering dust in the parlor.

“Congratulations, sir,” he said, and shook my hand. “It was masterfully done.”

“Thanks, Suneep. I’m not sure how masterful it was, but we got the job done, and that’s what counts.”

“Your partners, they’re happier than I’ve seen them since this whole business started. I know how they feel!”

My partners? Oh, yes, Dan and Lil. How happy were they, I wondered. Happy enough to get back together? My mood fell, even though a part of me said that Dan would never go back to her, not after all we’d been through together.

“I’m glad you’re glad. We couldn’t have done it without you, and it looks like we’ll be open for business in a week.”

“Oh, I should think so. Are you coming to the party tonight?”

Party? Probably something the Liberty Square ad-hocs were putting on. I would almost certainly be persona non grata. “I don’t think so,” I said, carefully. “I’ll probably work late here.”

He chided me for working too hard, but once he saw that I had no intention of being dragged to the party, he left off.

And that’s how I came to be in the Mansion at 2 a.m. the next morning, dozing in a backstage break room when I heard a commotion from the parlor. Festive voices, happy and loud, and I assumed it was Liberty Square ad-hocs coming back from their party.

I roused myself and entered the parlor.

Kim and her friends were there, pushing hand-trucks of Debra’s gear. I got ready to shout something horrible at them, and that’s when Debra came in. I moderated the shout to a snap, opened my mouth to speak, stopped.

Behind Debra were Lil’s parents, frozen these long years in their canopic jars in Kissimmee.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)