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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 14 - Alfred's Dream)

All was quiet, as Frank sat at his apartment table enjoying a peanut butter sandwich and a book of magical things for lunch. In a nearby chair, Midnight laid curled into a ball of comfort, purring up a storm.


The pounding on Frank’s door startled the cat awake. He jumped to attention—eyes wide open, the hair on his tail, puffed out to its fullest extent.

Frank set down his book, wiped his mouth clean, then stood up and looked at Midnight—shaking his head, he walked quickly over to the door. The wise old Patron pulled the grey, wavy hair back from his eyes, lowered his clear-rimmed reading glasses and peeked through the door’s peep hole.

“Oh, we have company, Midnight,” said Frank, with a smirk on his face.

“You don’t say,” the cat replied in sarcastic tone.

Frank unlatched the door and opened it.

“Hey Franklin, we need to talk,” said Alfred, as he pushed his way past his friend and into the small studio apartment.

“Please, make your self at home, why don’t you,” said Frank in sarcastic tone. Then he turned back to the others who were politely standing at the doorway.

“Hi Frank, we uh…we have some rather disturb’n news to tell ya,” said Ben.

“Disturbing news?” replied Frank.

“Really disturbing,” said Clara.

“Really disturbing?” said Frank, still unsure how to react.

“I gotta feel’n those boys of yours are in for big trouble, REALLY BIG trouble” said Alfred, who now stood at the window, gazing out towards the Magic Kingdom castle of WONDER.

Frank turned his attention to Alfred, then back to Ben and Clara. “Please, come in and have a seat.”

Everyone found a seat, except for Alfred, who remained staring out the window

Midnight hopped off the dining table chair and came over to join the others. He found a spot to lay on the floor next to Frank, who was anxiously sitting in the burgundy cushion chair, eager to hear what his friends had to say.

“So tell me, what is this disturbing news you speak of?” asked Frank, fully alert, as he stared over the rims of his glasses.

“While eating lunch in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, the chosen outsider and his family were approached by three men dressed up as pirates,” said Ben.

“Pirates? What are cast members doing dressed up as pirates in Epcot?” said Frank.

“That was our thought, exactly,” said Clara.

“Did you recognize any of the three men?”

“No, Frank, we were trying to keep as low a profile as possible,” said Ben. “We didn’t want the boys to recognize us, so most of the time we had our backs to their table.”

“Their conversation, what were they talking about?” asked Frank.

Alfred remained silent, still standing at the window.

“Well that’s the really disturbing part, Frank,” said Clara, “the pirates gave the boys and their family free tickets to get into the Halloween party tonight.”

“What?” said Frank, as he scratched his head, looking around the room in all directions. “That, that makes no sense at all. In fact, I’ve never even heard of Disney doing such a thing.”

“Neither have we,” said Ben, “and that’s why we rushed over here to tell ya about it.”

“Sounds like suspicious behavior to me,” said Midnight.

“That’s not the half of it,” said Alfred, who turned towards the others, then back to look out the window. “Remember what I said a while back about the Forest of Thorns Order and how they have figured out a way to access the minds of anyone who has consumed our micro-dream particles?”

The room was silent.

“Yes,” said Frank with a look of concern.

“Well, a while back, sometime shortly after we moved the Magic Dream Expander, but before the boys and their parents arrived, I had a really strange dream. A nightmare of sorts,” said Alfred.

“No,” said Clara. “You mean—”

“One of them crusty, bug-eyed Dark Thorns got into my head. I believe it was the one they call Dark Tanion, or something like that.”

“Wait, you said this dream of yours occurred after the Magic Dream Expander was moved?” asked Frank.

Alfred bowed his head, then said, “Unfortunately, yes.”

Frank tilted his head back, closed his eyes, and said, “So if what you say is true—”

“Then the Thorn army knows where the map to find the Magic Dream Expander is hidden,” said Clara.

“Which also means…they now know how to find the Library of Dreams,” said Frank.

“But how…when did they…I don’t understand?” said Ben.

“Worse still, I have an unsettling feeling that somehow, some way, those Dark Thorns and their leader are gonna use them young boys as leverage against us,” said Alfred.

Frank opened his eyes and looked at Alfred, then said, “You mean…the pirates who gave the boys tickets to the Halloween party weren’t—”

“Precisely,” said Alfred. “They weren’t cast members.”

“They were soldiers of the Thorn army,” said Clara.

“We need to get Patron eyes on those boys immediately,” said Alfred. “Follow ‘em wherever they go.”

“Especially once they get to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tonight,” added Clara.

“I’ll head back to Epcot to keep an eye on ‘em,” said Ben. “Plus, I know someone who might be able to help us out later on at the party.”

“You do?” said Midnight. “Well, regardless, I’m coming with you. Oh, but I do need to decide what to be first. Should I change into a plush toy, a watch, perhaps a—”

“As am I,” Oteza interrupted, speaking up from a tucked-away corner in Frank’s small, cluttered apartment.

“Why, Oteza, I had almost forgotten you were over there,” said Frank.

“Of course you had forgotten,” the ostrich stick replied. “Who are you kidding, I’m always the one who gets stuck in a corner. When will I get the respect I deserve around here?”

Frank ignored Oteza’s comment and continued on. “Very well then, Oteza you will go with Ben and Midnight to protect the boys. Alfred, Clara, you’’ll come with me. We need to call an emergency meeting with the rest of the Patron Council—gather up anyone we can think of. Whatever the dark army has planned, you can rest assured, there is a very good chance they will attempt to break into the Library of Dreams and steal the map. We’ll need all the help we can get to prevent this from happening.”

“But how do we know it will be tonight?” said Midnight.

“We don’t, replied Frank, “but we need to be ready, just in case.”

“What if we were to move the Magic Dream Expander again?” said Clara.

“If there were enough time, we would,” said Frank. “Unfortunately for us, that is not an option. By now, I suspect FOTO has spies following our every move. Therefore, our best chance to stop the Thorn army from stealing the map and locating the Magic Dream Expander is to protect it at all times, and…at all costs.”

“Frank is right,” said Alfred, “if the dark forces gain control of the Magic Dream Expander…well, I’d hate to think of what might happen.”

“And on that note,” said Frank, “everyone needs to be on their way. We have a lot of work to do. Oh, and Ben, you’ll need to conceal Oteza while walking around the parks in the real world.”

“Yeah, could you imagine if guests saw a talking stick in the real world?” said Clara.

“They’d most likely think she was a prop for one of the attractions or shows,” Midnight said with a giggle.

“Ha-ha, very funny, fuzzball,” Oteza replied. “Frank, do what you need to do so we can go find Charlie and Michael.”

“Right,” Frank replied. He walked over to the corner and picked up Oteza with his right hand, then said, “YOU’RE A PENCIL!”

In the blink of an eye, the walking stick shrunk down to the size of a pencil in the wise Patron’s hand.

“Here you go, Ben,” said Frank, as he handed the pencil to his friend with a smirk.

“Thank you, Frank,” Ben replied, while taking the miniaturized walking stick and placing her in the pocket of his palm-tree-patterned luau shirt.

“Hey, for Pete’s sake red, turn me around so I can see what’s going on,” barked Oteza.

“Sorry about that, said Ben, with a chuckle. He turned her around to face forward, then said, “There, is that better?”

“Of course it is, blockhead,” said Oteza.

“OK, enough with the small talk,” said Frank. He gestured everyone over to the Tiffany-style lamp sitting on the end table between the cushioned chair and love seat. “Ben, you and your team go first.”

“Hey kitty,” said Ben, “ready to go find those boys?”

“Ready and willing, my friend” Midnight replied. Stepping forward, he wrapped his tail around Ben’s leg. “All set.”

Ben touched the lamp, speaking with committed tone, he said, “Take us to the boys.” They were gone.

“OK. Clara, Albert, we’re next,” said Frank.

Everyone touched the lamp.

Frank donned a look of seriousness—eyeing his two friends, he said, “To the library.”

They vanished, leaving the small, cluttered apartment above the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in WONDER empty.

© 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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