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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 1 - The Dream)

Updated: Mar 11

In the not so distant past…

It was like any other ordinary day in the most magical place on earth. Beautiful sites, sounds, smells and memories to last a lifetime were everywhere to be found. A gentle, breeze danced through the autumn air as a little girl, no more than five, along with her parents, made their way down Main Street U.S.A. towards the hub. The buildings and store fronts were decorated in spectacular fall fashion with colorful foliage, bunting, and jolly jack-o-lanterns. And hanging on every lamppost, a Mickey pumpkin wreath.

“Mommy, when do we get to ride the horses?”

“Not too much longer, dear. The Prince Charming Regal Carrousel is just ahead, beyond the castle.”

“Ooh, is that where Cinderella lives?”

“Yes, Samantha.”

“I can’t wait, Mommy. I can’t wait to see…” The little girl stopped in her tracks. Her mouth agape. It was her first time seeing the castle.

“What is it Sam?” Father asked.

“I’ve never seen a real castle before.”

Her father chuckled. “Would you like to walk through it? The carousel is just on the other side.”

“Yes, Daddy, please, please, pretty please. Can we, pleeeeease?”

“Sure sweetie. Anything for my little girl.”

While passing through the castle, Samantha’s eyes sparkled in awe, taking in the dazzling mosaics on the left wall, which told the enchanted tale of Cinderella.

As they reached the end of the castle walkway and entered the courtyard, Samantha and her parents were welcomed into Fantasyland with warm rays of sunshine, which highlighted the young girl’s heartfelt destination. Centered perfectly in the distance, between a series of buildings, was the colorful carousel. The majestic white horses danced round and round to the carnival-like music—their golden posts glistening in the bright sun as the carrousel continued to move in spectacular fashion, spreading happiness to all who could see and hear the wonderful attraction.

“There it is, Mommy. The horses, I see them, I see them.”

“Quick, let’s get in line. Then you can pick the horse you want to ride,” her mother replied.

Samantha’s eyes lit up with joy as they made their way into the queue.

“That one Daddy,” she said, pointing. “The horse with the purple flowers on its neck. I want to ride that one.”

The carrousel came to a stop, guests unmounted their horses and exited. The cast member gave the all clear, then opened the gate for those next in line to enter.

Samantha anxiously pulled her father by the hand, making her way to the horse with purple flowers.

“Don't worry about me, I’m right behind you,” Mother called out while scurrying to catch up.

Within seconds the little girl reached the magnificent horse and Father safely lifted Samantha up onto the saddle.

“Now, hold onto the pole with both hands, sweetie. I’ll be standing right next to you to make sure you don’t fall.”

Samantha did not reply to her father. Her mind was filled with too much excitement, as she anxiously bounced up and down on the saddle, waiting for the ride to begin.

All was clear, the horses slowly began to move, the carrousel started to rotate, as music broke everyone’s silent anticipation.

Samantha’s parents were relishing the moment, taking in every precious second of happiness beaming from their daughter’s face.

On their second pass by the castle, at the height of Samantha’s happiness, a wave of shadow passed through the carousel—everything on and around the rotating attraction went void of color, including her parents and other guests. Only the young girl and her purple flower horse remained in color. Everyone she could see became transparent and faded into a blanket of darkness, which crept in over the castle, slowly filling the grounds of Fantasyland. Buildings, and everything in and around them, transformed into frightfully unfamiliar places and things.

As the carrousel continued to move round and round, the music changed to a chilling tune. The brilliant white horses morphed into black and gray steeds with laser red eyes. On the next turn around, Samantha glared to her right towards Rapunzel’s Tower. Slowly appearing from thick rolling fog, between the Peter Pan and Small World attractions, headed directly for the carousel, were five gray ghost-like figures on large black horses. Leading them was a sixth rider—a female wearing a gold, jeweled crown. Her transparent figure was cloaked in white, and her facial features masked by long, flowing white hair. She sat upon a golden saddle—strapped to the back of a small, white, horse-like creature with a dragon’s head and claws. A gold harness decorated in jewels, hung down from the sides of the beast’s snout, its radiant purple eyes staring straight ahead. Chartreuse flames shot out from between the dragon creatures jagged, tooth-lined jaws with each exhale, as it dug its rear claws into the ground—waiting with great anticipation to charge forward.

The lady in white called out to the others. The six riders began to advance, working their way from a slow trot into a steady gallop. Smoke shot out from the horse’s nostrils, and flames from the dragon creature’s, as they galloped madly towards the young girl. The cloaked riders rose off their saddles, picking up momentum, as they continued to charge the carrousel. Left in their wake was a twisted, twirling trail of smokey grey, unfriendly-like creatures.

The carrousel continued to turn, Samantha was now at a disadvantage, scared, and unable to see the rapidly approaching riders. As she came back round, the horses and beast leapt high into the air towards the carrousel—their riders poised to attack.

As they began their aggressive descent upon the attraction, a shock wave of color exploded outward from the carrousel’s hub, driving the riders backwards—erasing them from existence.

Everything returned to its normal state, as the carrousel slowly glided to a stop.

Samantha’s father helped her off the horse. He sensed something was wrong. “You’re quiet. What’s wrong princess?”

Samantha did not reply. Her mind was stuck on the ghostly riders.

“Honey, did you hear your father?”

“Yes…Mommy,” the girl replied. She stared in bewilderment towards Rapunzel’s Tower—unable to find the courage, or words, to describe what she, and she alone, had just experienced.

© 2024 Charles E. Zitta. Charles E. Zitta and Disney and the Wonder Within blog novels are in no way part of,  endorsed or authorized by, or affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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