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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 20 - Dark Side of the Water)



Cast upon the calm, hub waters of WONDER’s happy-go-lucky kingdom an inverted image, a darker image, sat waiting. An evil wish was about to be fulfilled.

A series of bright flashing lights shot out in every direction from the isolated wishing well near the simulated Magic Kingdom castle. A dark, sandy cloud rose from its depths, silent and purposeful. Effortlessly floating upwards into the air, it split into six strands, curled around, then descended. Each forming a distinct shape. The five that were gray transformed into Dark Thorns, but the sixth, tinted purple, took the shape of their leader. The Shadow Queen.

Surrounding the well, each looked upon the other with sinister grin.

Simulated guests marched passed, eager to get to their next attraction. Some even approached the well, unaware the evil figures stood before them. It was as though they were ghosts from another dimension—neither seen nor heard.

“My faithful few, our time has come. Just beyond this picture perfect park lies a destiny of darkness. A destiny my great uncle set forth into action many years ago. And now…we shall fulfill his wishes.” The queen, wearing a gold, jeweled crown, was cloaked in shadow. Her slender figure, masked by long, black flowing hair and cape, stood dominantly tall in knee-high boots amongst the others.

The wind swirled. Trees began to sway.

Simulated guests continued on in their jolly ways, still unaware.

The Shadow Queen raised her large, green eyes towards the perfect, blue sky, opening up her arms. Slamming her twisted staff to the ground, a blast of chartreuse light rushed across the park, covering every and anything that stood in its path, as she recited;

Tables are turning

A kingdom in change

Its darkness and magic

Now one and the same

Take what is shiny

Flip it around

So evil can flourish

On this happy ground

Like a coin flipping through the air in slow motion, the simulated park began to turn—over and over again.

With each turn, more light faded as darkness grew.

There was a big crack of thunder.

On the thirteenth flip, everything snapped to a halt.

The queen and her evil band had transported to the other side. It was a darker place, a darker kingdom.

The Dark Thorns glanced around in evil admiration.

In the deep purple waters surrounding a desolate hub, a faint, almost mirrored image of the happier park remained.

Reaching into her flowing gown, the queen pulled out a small, silver orb—no larger than a marble and ornately decorated. She glanced down at it, then cast the orb over the dark waters towards the hub.

It was some distance for even the strongest of arms to make such a throw. But magic powered the object, which arced fifty feet into the air before landing in the north-east quadrant of the desolate hub.

The evil queen thrust her dragon-head staff towards the orb. A bolt of lightning shot from the dragon’s purple eyes across the way and struck the silvery object. Instantly it began to grow.

As the orb increased in size, a swirling mass of fire surrounded it. Bright blue flames of all sizes and shapes shot out in every direction—burning the orb down into a large, silvery pile of ash.

A gust of wind blew the ash away.

The queen set her eyes upon what remained. The Patron’s crowning achievement. A streamlined piece of magical Imagineering. So simple in appearance, yet complicated beyond the thought of normal reality.

Before them stood the Magic Dream Expander.


******


The queen and Dark Thorns magically transported across the water to admire the machine. Landing effortlessly, they began to study its simplistic complexity.

“It’s finally ours,” said the queen. She walked up to the Magic Dream Expander and tapped a panel of the glassy pyramid shell with the bottom of her staff.

The door opened, leaving the clear spherical wall of the inner layer.

Not having Patron DNA to open the inner doorway, the queen transformed into partial matter, then effortlessly stepped through.

Before her, centered in the sphere, was a floating chair.

She sat down and scanned the magic machine’s interior for a control panel, buttons, knobs, levers…anything used to make it work.

But no such things were visible.

“We can do better than this,” said the queen. She closed her eyes. and using her evil powers, tapped into the thoughts of Alfred Jinx. Her mind accessed the basic operations of the Magic Dream Expander through micro dream particles attached to the Patron’s brain.

“Ahhhh, there you are,” said the queen.

Reaching down with her right hand, she pushed a hidden button on the underside of the chair, which illuminated green. The magic machine powered up. Holographic control systems appeared all around the sphere’s interior.

Still connected to Alfred’s mind, the wicked queen accessed the machine’s operation guide, typed in the expansion code, then hit enter on the holographic keyboard suspended in front of her.

Transparent, robotic arms emerged from the sides of the chair and carefully removed her crown. Natural instinct told her to grab the crown, but what she saw next halted her reaction.

A large halo of bright light grew out of the surrounding walls and shrunk down to the size of the chair in which the queen was seated. Hovering mere inches from the top of her head, the ring began to hum.

The outer panel of the magic machine closed.

Sensing the time was right, she closed her eyes.

Growing louder and louder, the ring began changing colors as the spherical, inner shell of the Magic Dream Expander began to spin and tumble in random directions.

The machine slowly rose off the ground as the outer, pyramidal shell began to spin as well.

Higher and higher, the Dream Expander carried the queen into the air, before stopping and hovering one hundred feet above ground.

Both layers of the machine were now spinning at outrageous speeds. Sparks and flashes of white, purple, green and yellow began shooting off the magical machine in all directions.

With her eyes still closed, the queen felt a jolt of energy reach into her mind, pulling from it a vision of her kingdom.

Her vision rushed round the halo ring. Like a sonic boom, it exploded outward from the machine—blanketing the entire kingdom she had begun.

The queen opened her wicked eyes and cast them down upon the park, eager to watch in its full transformation.


******


It was the middle of the night. Frank and Alfred engaged in quiet conversation while admiring the serenity of Crescent Lake. Leaning over the railing of Sea Breeze Point, they gazed across the glassy water as the moon beamed down from above.

“Just an hour or so ago I woke from a dream in a feverish sweat. It was very disturbing,” said Alfred.

“Really?” said Frank. “What was the dream about?”

“I had the strangest feeling that someone had stolen something from me.”

“Like what?” Frank asked.

“Information,” said Alfred.

“Information?”

“Yes, instructions on how to operate the Magic Dream Expander.”

With a look of concern, Frank asked, “Could you see who it was?”

“No…wait, there was something,” said Alfred. “A woman.”

“Did you see her face?”

“Not really,” replied Alfred. “I mean, her face was cloaked by long, flowing hair and a cape.”

“Long flowing hair and a cape?”

“And she was wearing a gold, jeweled crown made of thorns,” said Alfred.

“The boy’s dream,” Frank said in serious tone. He turned and began to walk away.

“Where are you going?” asked Alfred. “I haven’t finished my coffee yet.”

Still walking, Frank looked back over his shoulder and replied, “We have to find the others. Quickly.”


******

Suspended high above ground in the Dream Expander, the queen watched in eager anticipation as the transformation continued.

The ground erupted. Beams of chartreuse light shot upwards through the enormous cracks. A giant rocky formation rose up from beneath the earth’s surface, pushing the thorn-wrapped castle high above the desolate graveyard hub to a clear vantage point. Overshadowing the queen’s dreadfully themed creation.

To the west of the castle, where Frontierland normally resided, two mountainous formations burst through the desolate terrain and pushed high into the moonlit sky. Crashing together like two freight trains, their rocky surfaces twisted together, becoming a massive swirled cone of jagged hatred. It was the queens personal tribute to Fire Mountain and Villains Mountain. Two villain-themed attractions that never came to be.

Towering high in the western banks, the rise of the enormous mountain caught the queen’s eye.

“Ahhhhh, Wicked Mountain. This shall be the hand that feeds my creation. Such a horrible fate you cast upon the land of which you stand,” said the queen. “Your twisted coaster rails and lava flumes run recklessly through and around dark, rocky walls. At your center lies a core of hatred and villainy, where evil is born, then unleashed upon this happy place of which we fester.”

A Carrousel of Fright rose in the east, the Tragic Scream Cups spun upwards in the north. One by one, chilling attractions rose from the depths below, populating the haunted lands of the queen’s diabolical Kingdom. Only the Haunted Mansion bared resemblance to its real-world facade.

As the dreadful park completed its transformation, a gust of wind howled about the graveyard hub. High above, the magical machine continued to spin faster and faster—bursting into a swirling fireball of purple, chartreuse and yellow.

There was a huge explosion—followed by a meteor shower of flames which covered the area.

The Dark Thorns, still standing in the hub below, shielded their soulless eyes, only to see moments later what had been left behind.

The light receded, revealing nothing but empty air where the queen and the magic machine had been consumed by a swirling fireball just moments ago.

Elontra and the other Dark Thorns scanned the area for signs of their queen, yet none could be found.

“The balcony,” said Elontra, pointing upwards towards the castle.

Her appearance was no longer that of purple and black. All dressed in white and gleaming from the balcony above like stark-light—transparent and evil, stood the queen. Long, white hair swirled about her face—concealing her stunning identity. A pair of knee-high boots fit seamlessly with her bodysuit—decorated in a thread-pattern of embroidered thorns and roses. A flowing cape of long, transparent layers and high collar, framed her tall, slender figure. A set of electric-green eyes cut through the queen’s translucent facade of white, as the golden crown of thorns atop her flowing hair sizzled and popped—its red-fire jewel, beaming.

The queen gazed downward towards the hub, where her five faithful Dark Thorns stood. Her hair and cape swirling in the breeze, she slammed her white dragon head staff to the balcony floor—its eyes radiating purple. “From this day forward our dark army will no longer be concealed within shadow, but instead, will be unleashed upon the light and happiness that has condemned us, pushed us aside, for FAR too many years. Today we begin a new way. A new way led by the powers of the Magic Dream Expander, and by me, the White Shadow Queen!”

The Dark Thorns knelt, as the winds continued to gust. “Yes your majesty,” they replied.

Pulling back with her right arm, the queen cast a fiery jack-o-lantern meteor towards the deep purple waters surrounding her dark, twisted castle, into a reflection of WONDER’s Magic Kingdom.


******


Halloween morning had arrived. A wave of rope-drop guests entering the Magic Kingdom came to a sudden halt as they looked upon the east horizon.

The rising sun peeked over the Town Square rooftops. Haunting features of an angry jack-o-lantern emerged from its fiery surface as the sun cast down a foreboding wave of hypnotic orange light across the park and all within it.

Everyone, and everything, went silent and still as the light made its way through the grounds—freezing that moment in time.

Quickly as it came, the mysterious light passed and everything returned to normal.

“What was that?” A cast member named Jill asked her friend.

“What was what?” The other cast member, Tim, replied.

Shrugging her shoulders, Jill said, “Huh. I guess it was nothing.”

Smiling and waving, the two cast members continued to welcome guests into the park for a day of endless fun and experiences.


© 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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