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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 15 - A Work in Progress)

It was late afternoon. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was just a few short hours away from kicking off. Guests not attending the party were bustling through the Magic Kingdom—eager to get that last ride or two in before it was time to leave the park. A distinguished woman, discretely dressed in purple and black, walked through the queue entryway of the Haunted Mansion—vanishing in the process. No one noticed.

Out of darkness, hidden somewhere within the dimly lit halls of the Haunted Mansion, a pair of radiant green eyes emerged—suspended in air, no face nor body was attached. Haunting sounds from the mansion echoed through the hallways. The eyes looked left, then right, then finally, turning left again, they began to float down the narrow, crooked hallway, leaving a vaporous trail of blue in the darkness. No one was around to bear witness, as the eyes quietly continued on through the winding halls. Suddenly, they stopped. Turning right, the cat-like eyes noticed the fine seams of a secret doorway, hidden within the dark, corridor wall. They looked intently upon the seams, waiting for something to happen.

As if on queue, piercing rays of blue light pushed through the hidden seams of the doorway, which swung open. The eyes opened wide, breaking the doorway plane, they looked from side to side in an curious manner, while crossing into shadow. A shadow, hidden within the magic rim of WONDER. The door slammed closed. Before the mysterious eyes stood a steep, wooden staircase leading to a second story above. It was flanked with hand carved railings, textured with raven feathers. The haunting sounds from the Mansion, which had been present just a moment ago, could no longer be heard. Silence was all that remained.

The eyes focused upon the stairway with a tell of familiarity. They had seen it before.

Slowly, well-defined facial features, surrounded by flowing black hair—streaked with violet hues, came into view, while ascending to a small room with book lined walls. When the fully developed figure reached the top of the stairway, her identity was clear. It was the Queen. She had arrived to gather Madame Sera—shadow spirit of the Haunted Mansion. They were to meet the ghost-like horseman and discuss plans for that night’s Halloween party.

“I’ve been expecting you, my dear,” said Madame Sera—seated at the small, round table, centered in the room beneath a wax candle chandelier.

Madame Sera’s words were followed by a series of caws from the red-eyed crow perched upon a bronze pedestal in the corner of the room, as if it were repeating what she had said.

The queen gracefully walked towards the table— her long, black cape dancing around her body, as she slowly sat down. In her right hand she held a black, vultures-claw staff—topped with a large, green crystal sphere. Atop her head the golden, thorn crown glistened—highlighted by its centerpiece, the red-fire jewel. The rose-shaped jewel burned bright, as the Queen looked upon her friend and said, “Is everything prepared?”

“Yes, dear,” replied Madame Sera. “Arrangements have been made. The shadow horseman will be expecting us anytime now.”

“How splendid,” the Queen said. She extended her left hand out on the table towards her friends. “Please, take my hand.”

Madame Sera set her right hand upon the Queens left. Both closed their eyes.

Tilting her head back, the staff held firmly in her right hand, the Queen said, “Take us to the horseman of shadows.”

A burst of bright green light exploded out of her magic staff—flooding the room. The crow in the corner cringed. Raising its left wing, the red-eyed bird turned away to shield its eyes.

There was a burst of yellow light, then white, within the green. Instantly, they vanished. Only the irritated crow remained, cawing out of frustration.


Dark, stormy clouds rolled and tumbled above, as lighting danced across the sky. A sudden bolt struck the ground, leaving a mushroom of smoke and dust.

As the dust settled, the queen and Madame Sera appeared. Standing in the middle of Town Square—now named Haunted Square, they took in their surroundings.

Catching her eye, Madame Sera noticed that Main Street U.S.A. was now aptly renamed, Cobweb Street U.S.A.

Everything around them was dreadfully different, dark, wicked and gray. A desolate place filled with neglect. Nothing at all like that of the real Disney World. The partially paved streets were cracked, while some sections consisted of nothing but dirt. The trolley rails running down the center of Cobweb Street were rusty and curved—small sections were missing in random areas. The sidewalks were broken apart and uneven at best. Lampposts were bent and twisted. Their lights, buzzing, popping, dim and flickering—as if they could go out at any second. Halloween decorations no longer carried a happy theme, filled with colorful fall colors and illuminated Mickey pumpkin head wreaths. Instead, the garland and wreaths were brown and lifeless. Colorful bunting was replaced with shades of gray. In the center of each wreath, the Mickey heads had been replaced with illuminated cross bones which glowed purple. Spiderwebs dangled from the facades of the dilapidated buildings, sporadically flapping from the breeze that pushed and twirled its way down the walkways. Both ends of the ill-kept road faded away into nothingness—made of a smokey-gray mist. No signs of the hub, castle or railroad station could be seen.

The queen looked around, and said, “Do you like what you see? It’s a work in progress. I like to think of it as a chilling version of Main Street U.S.A.”

“Yes, dear. Can we take a closer look? That is, if you don’t mind, said Madame Sera, gesturing to have the Queen give her a quick tour around the hauntingly transformed area.

“Yes, of course,” the Queen replied.

As they passed each building, their hair blowing in the breeze, the Queen admired her own work, grinning wickedly in the process. Town Square Theater was now Scary Town Theater. Main Street Chamber of Commerce had been renamed The Torture Chamber, from which quirky screams and howls of pain could be heard. Street vehicles were painted black or purple and carried signage which read: Cobweb Street Transportation—Ride at Your Own Risk. Each vehicle was driven by spirited ghosts and skeletons—carrying guests who were dressed in drab clothing and void of expression. The creaky trolleys, which crept along the rickety tracks, were pulled by broken-down, poorly-fed steeds who barely had enough energy to move.

Continuing their walk down the ghastly street, they first peeked into the Cobweb Street Marketplace. The store was filled with villainous toys and collectibles of the darkest sort, which made Madame Sera smile. Next up was Bat Wing Duds, which carried a wide variety of dreadful clothes—torn, faded and dusty. Some garments were themed with famous Disney Villains, while all were suitable for the spookiest of occasions.

Next on the tour came Ghost Town Jewelers—filled with noose necklaces, flaming rings, haunted moon watches and other things that only the darkest of personalities would enjoy. After the jewelers, they found their way into the Dark Arts store. Its cobwebbed shelves were filled with wickedly crafted crystal pieces guaranteed to raise your closest of friend’s, or family member’s, spirits.

Their last stop was the Plaza I Scream Parlor, which claimed to have the best I scream cones in the parks. A far cry from ice cream, they served the most gruesome of deserts, topped with candied eyeballs, chocolate hair crunch and ear jam jelly.

While nearing the end of Cobweb Street, the Queen turned to Madame Sera and said, “Come, the party grows near. It is time to summon your friend.”

A cluster of scurrying rodents rushed to get out of the way as the Queen and Madame Sera approached the end of the road. Only the mist remained beyond that point.

Staring into the smokey vapors, Madame Sera tilted her head back and raised her arms high—the palms of her hands facing outward, she said, “Horseman of darkness for which I call, come forth now so goodness may fall.”

The slight breeze picked up momentum and began to swirl about them, increasing to a hard and steady wind.

Madame Sera and the Queen held their ground, eager to see what laid beyond the vale of weather.

The wind grabbed hold of the thick, gray mist, carrying it high up into the clouds. Revealed was a desolate graveyard hub which complimented everything they had seen to that point. Unlike the real Magic Kingdom hub, the plots of landscaping were non-symmetrical and unkempt—populated with crooked, leafless trees, dying shrubs, and unsightly weeds. The center area of the hub, where the Partners statue of Walt and Mickey usually stood, was barely lit by twisted lampposts, which buzzed, popped and flickered. Centered between the lights sat a large, jagged rock formation. Upon it stood a bronze statue of the Queen and her mysterious great-uncle, of whom she greatly admired, and who’s dark purpose in life she carried forward with wicked determination.

Slowly, stepping out from behind the enormous rock, came the shadow horseman and his intimidating mare. His silhouetted figure was barely visible against the dimly-lit hub area. The horseman’s stature reflected that of a tall male dressed in mid-nineteenth century clothing with shoulder length hair tied into a ponytail. Not only did he and his trusted mare ride amongst the shadows, they were at times, shadows themselves—able to transform from physical matter to a smokey mass at will. The haunting blue eyes of the horseman’s mare were the only clear identifier of their position, as it related to where the Queen and Madame Sera stood.

“So good to see you again…well, barely see you, my friend,” said Madame Sera.

The shadow horseman silently nodded and his horse neighed.

“Yes, Madame S. has told me much about you,” said the Queen.

“I admire your work, my Queen,” said the horseman, looking around.

“Well, it’s a start,” said the Queen, who proudly looked around, taking in what she had begun. “But, there is still much work to be done.”

“I can see that,” the horseman replied. “It gives me an idea for our unsuspecting guests.”

“You mean those two little brats?” said the Queen.

“Yes,” replied the horseman.

The Queen let out a disturbing cackle, then said, “I like the way your fowl mind works, horseman. So you are set for the party, then?”

“I am, your Majesty. The chosen outsider and his brother will be rendered useless during tonight’s activities. That, I guarantee.”

“That, is what I like to hear. It is critical everything be executed without fail if we are to move forward with bigger plans.”

“I assure you, my Queen, the boys, and anyone the Patrons send to save them, will wish they had never crossed my path.”

“You know who they are? What they look like?”

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“And the time? Timing is important as well,” said the Queen.

“When the Boo-to-You Parade kicks offs, the fun will begin,” said the horseman.

“Perfect,” said the Queen. “Prove yourself useful and the rewards will be great.”

“Yes, your Highness,” the shadow horseman replied.

He pulled back on his mare’s reigns—the mighty shadow horse raised its front legs high off the ground, as the shadow horseman yelled, “Ya!” Off like a shot, the he galloped away, leaving a trail of flaming hoof prints as the horseman and his wicked steed vanished into the dusk-like nothingness which surrounded much of the hub.

“This evening looks promising,” said Madame Serena.

“Yes, you have done well, my friend,” the Queen replied. “Now, I have my own preparations to get in order before the evening arrives.”

“Right,” said Madame Sera. “If you would please, dear?”

“Of course,” replied the the Queen, “I will take you back home.” She looked towards the moonlit sky, extending her left arm upwards. Thrusting her staff with her right arm towards the sky, she said, “To the Mansion.”

A wicked, green lighting bolt shot out of her staff and into the clouds above. The clouds returned the bolt—sending them away.

© 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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