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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 22 - The Witch Situation)



The evil queen moved her hand in a circular motion, coaxing the well water to swirl.

“Water so deep and dark in the well, where are our guests, please, do tell.”

The swirling waters started to glow purple and bright. A rippled face, vaguely defined by the physical properties of the water itself, formed on the surface then spoke.

“Three groups you seek, black cat in one, white owl in another. The third holds the key to unlocking all WONDER.

“The key? The key,” said the queen with enlightened expression. “The chosen outsider…is he the key you speak of?”

“North of the castle, under darkness of night, lies a tale of adventures, scary and white. Here find the brother, paired with the cat, give them a scare to find out where he is at.”

“He? It’s the boy, it must be,” said the queen—anxious to act.

“Your heart speaks the truth, find the answer within. Awaken your kingdom so the hunt may begin.”

“Of course,” said the queen, “the chosen outsider, his brother and friends are trapped here. I shall awaken all the forces of evil in my kingdom of shadows, and they shall bring me what I need!”

A crack of lightning shot down from the sky, striking the graveyard hub which sat before the thorn-wrapped castle.

Nine hundred and ninety nine ghosts rose up from the hallowed ground. Summoned from the mansion of the dark kingdom, they swarmed the hub, booing, moaning and singing their favorite song, Grim Grinning Ghosts. At the center of it all stood the tainted bronze statue of the queen and her dreadful great-uncle, which sat upon a weathered concrete slab with a plaque that read:

“DUO OF DARKNESS”

Our idea lives on: a family park where

parents and children can scream in fright—together

The White-Shadow Queen


From the castle balcony high above, her arms raised towards the night sky, she called to the spirits. “My dear friends of the afterlife, tonight is Halloween. With it, marks the beginning of a new era in WONDER. A time controlled by darkness and evil. A time ruled by none other than me.” The queen slammed the base of her staff to the stone walkway—creating a loud CRACK!

The ghosts howled and screeched, acknowledging her words.

“Silence!” Commanded the queen.

The graveyard went silent.

“Within our kingdom, three Patron groups roam. First, find the brother of the boy who bears the ring, and bring him to me. We need him for leverage.”

The ghosts shrilled and screeched with jubilation.

“Can we scare him to death, your majesty?” A ghost resting atop a lamp post asked.

“No,” said the queen.

“Or paralyze him with fright?” Asked another.

“As long as it is only temporary,” replied the queen—growing impatient. “Shackle him in chains, tie him up with rope. Do whatever you need to. Just make sure he is not harmed. I need him breathing and healthy. Is that understood?”

“Yes, my queen,” all 999 ghosts replied.

“Good.” She slammed her staff to the walkway again. Three bolts of lighting shot down from the sky above, stirring the ghosts into a whirling panic. “Now…be on your way. And do not return without the boy!”


******

In a hurry to get as far away from the queen’s castle as possible, Charlie followed Ben through the Shadow Kingdom courtyard, Oteza in hand. It was much larger than the Fantasyland they knew. Everything ever created for Fantasyland was there, though something seemed off. Attractions were oddly named and some were much larger than normal. Their facades weathered, covered in cobwebs and muted in color. The eternal night atmosphere of the park was set using chartreuse, purple and orange lighting, making the simulated guests with big smiles, blank stares and messy hair all the more creepy. Their faded clothing was torn and their shoes worn—though it did not slow them down in their frenzied pursuit to ride the attractions.

As Charlie and his friends fought through the grungy crowds, it became more and more apparent that trying to find a way out of the queen’s evil kingdom would require a great deal of effort.

“There, over where Peter Pan’s Flight should be,” said. Ben. “We should look in there.”

“Worth a shot,” said Oteza.

Approaching the attraction, the sign came into view.

“The Crazy Cauldron? What?” Said Charlie—reading the dilapidated signage. “That can’t be right. Where’s Peter, Wendy, John and Michael? They should be on the sign, not that warty blue witch stirring a pot of magic potion.”

“Don’t worry, my boy, we’re not here for the experience, whatever that may be,” said Oteza, “we’re here to find a way out.”

“She’s right,” said Ben, “lets get inside. It may hold the answer to a way outta here.”

Pushed and shoved by rued, obsessive guests, the three Partons made their way through the queue line.

“Ugh, what in the…hey, ease up fella. Pushing won’t make the line move any faster, you know,” said Ben, with bite in his Irish accent.

The line of misbehaving guests behind him, all with possessed eyes and smiling faces, continued to push forward—unfazed by his words.

Charlie, now squished against a railing, added: “Yeah, all this pushing and shoving is driving me crazy.”

“Don’t worry, young man, we’re almost there,” said Oteza.

“Oh really?” Ben pointed to the wait time sign, a black, bat-shaped digital clock with big red letters that read: ETERNITY.


******


Their patients frazzled and anxiety peeked, Charlie, Oteza and Ben had finally reached the boarding area.

The cast member directing guests to their ride vehicles was dressed in gray. Her skin was coco brown, eyes laser green, and lipstick black. Her black, shoulder-length hair was neatly styled with a streak of purple. Yet, it was dusty and cobwebbed, as though she were a doll that had been sitting on a shelf for years. Her cracked, cobwebbed name tag read: Night Mary.

Ben and Charlie were only a few guests away from entering their vehicle, when Oteza noticed the cast member’s tag and called it to their attention. “If her name is any reflection of what lies ahead, I suggest we all stay alert.”

“Agreed,” whispered Ben.

As they stepped forward to the front of the queue line, the cast member said with a smile, “Please watch your step as you enter your Cauldron Cruiser. Place all loose items beneath you on the floor and watch your hands as the door closes. We hope you enjoy your…experience.”


******


The Omnimover ride system used vehicles shaped like large, black cauldrons. Lime green flowed across the seats, interior walls and over the top edge—giving the impression of an overfilled pot of bubbly potion.

Charlie and Ben found their seat, the door closed, and they were off. They turned hard left, then entered the unknown. Oteza lay beneath them on the floorboard, unable to see.

An eerie blue light glowed in the distance—silhouetting the cruisers ahead. Echoing sounds of shrieking ghosts, evil cackles, and things that go bump in the night, blended together in the darkness.

The other vehicles ahead suddenly disappeared as they took another left turn. Flashes of chartreuse light shot out from behind the hidden corner, outlining much of the wall blocking their view. Screams of guests, followed by laughter, came next.

Charlie and Ben’s anxiety elevated as their vehicle approached the turn, closer…and closer.

“Can you see anything, Charlie?”

“No Ben, not a thing.”

Their cruiser spun left. A flash of chartreuse light hit their eyes, blinding them just long enough for what came next, an unexpected backwards dive.

Holding on tight to the safety bar, they screamed uncontrollably—not knowing what awaited at the bottom of their spiraling descent.

Their vehicle leveled out—spun round to face forward, then rose and began a second dive, as they banked left over a giant pool of green, boiling potion filled with the skeletal remains of riders and their cauldrons that had run off the track.

A blast of steam shot up from below, blinding them again.

As the steam cleared the projection of a giant witches face with warty nose and hypnotic eyes sat dead ahead in their path.

Ben and Charlie screamed as the witch’s enormous mouth of rotted teeth opened wide.

Their cruiser rushed through the mouth-like opening, only to be greeted by a room full of bats—swirling and screeching uncontrollably.

“I can’t see a thing,” Ben shouted.

“What?” Charlie replied, unable to hear.

The bats suddenly disbanded and their Cauldron Cruiser snapped around backwards for the second time.

Another dive, then SPLASH! They found themselves floating along a river of purple ooze, unable to see where their vehicle was headed.

“Well this is great,” said Ben, “we’re floating down a river—backwards, and have no idea what to expect next.”

“At this point, I’d say, expect anything,” said Oteza, still resting on the floorboard.

“That’s the—”

“Shhhhh,” said Charlie. “Do you hear that?”

Silence.

Faint whisperings of a song began to rise in the air. A song sung by many.

“I can’t see a thing with us moving backwards,” said Ben, twisting and turning to get a better look.

“Well at least you can see,” replied Oteza. “Could someone please get me off this floorboard so I can take a look at what’s going on?”

Listening intently to the song, neither Charlie nor Ben heard the walking stick’s request.

The music and singing voices intensified, as a soft glow of chartreuse light illuminated the interior of their ride vehicle.

“What are they singing? And where did that light come from?”

“Shhhh. I don’t know, Oteza. Listen,” said Ben.

Charlie and his friend sat quietly—taking in the lyrics.

“One little shadow, one little song

Don’t look now, it won’t be long

Spells of a witch, gargoyles with wings

Dark and spooky creepy things

Things that go bump, things that go boo

You better watch out, they’re coming for you

They’re coming for you, they’re coming for you

They’re coming for you and you and you”


The song continued to loop—growing louder and LOUDER, as they floated down the river.

Back-lit skulls with short arms and legs growing out of them began popping out of the

dungeon-cell facades on each side of the river, continuing to chant.

A swarm of river spirits shot up from the flowing ooze. Swooshing by, they screeched then evaporated into the darkness above—causing Ben and the boy to fall back into their seats.

“Ha! You deserved that,” said Oteza. Now, please…get me off this floor.”

Charlie reached down and lifted his friend up.”

Oteza looked around, then said: “Looks like the work of a witch to me.”

“Very observant, bird brain,” replied Ben.

“And why do they keep on singing that retched song? It’s really beginning to…to…”

Something suddenly caught Oteza’s eye.

“What? What is it?” Asked Ben.

“The river, it appears to be emptying into a giant, bubbly pool of potion,” said Oteza.

Charlie and Ben snapped their heads around.

“What! What kind of ride is this?” Said Ben.

“Not the kind I want to be on,” Charlie replied.

“Have you forgotten where we are?” Said Oteza.

“Looks like we’re in trouble from what I can tell,” replied Ben.

“No, you silly man. We’re in WONDER”

“I know that, ya goofy stick, but where in WONDER, is what I’m get’n at. I’ve never been to a park in WONDER where the ride tries to cook ya, and I don’t reckon you have either.”

“That, I can agree on,” Oteza replied.

“No offense guys, but isn’t that why we’re looking for a way out?”

Ben and Oteza looked at Charlie.

“Aye, lad, you got us on that one.”

Oteza’s large brown eyes grew wide as saucers, as she added: “We better start looking harderrrrrrr.”

Their Cauldron Cruiser plunged into the giant pool of steamy potion, limiting their vision. Sounds of laughing guests filled the enormous room built of stone blocks.

As the steam cleared, Charlie and his friends spotted more and more ride vehicles randomly floating around them in the massive, circular pool of potion.

High above, from a hole in the domed ceiling, a blue-faced witch shot out into the room like a missile, upon her broom. A trail of green sparkling dust followed behind, as the witch cackled loudly—circling the room, then coming to rest thirty feet above center.

“Twiddles that are, riddles that be, who wants to make a potion with me?” Said the witch, her black cape flapping in the steamy breeze.

The simulated guests eagerly raised their hands, hoping to be picked by the wicked witch.

Searching the pool with her stale yellow eyes, the blue witch sought out her prey.

“I don’t think we want to be picked,” Ben whispered.

It was too late.

“YOU, the young boy wearing the ring. Want to make a potion with me?”

Charlie was caught off guard. Barely able to get out an answer, he said, “Me?”

“Yes, you,” the witch said, pointing her long boney blue finger, “the one holding that ugly stick.”

“How did she know I had a ring on?” Charlie mumbled to Ben and Oteza. “It’s only visible to others when I use it.”

“Well, boy? Are you going to make a potion with me or not?” The witch said impatiently.

“Let me handle this,” Oteza mumbled to the boy.

“What? No,” mumbled Ben, “I don’t think you want to do this.”

“Oh yes I do,” said Oteza. Ben reached across Charlie, trying to muffle her beak, but he was too slow. “Ring? The boy’s not wearing a ring.”

The other guests went still and quiet. All eyes were on Oteza.

“You dare challenge my words?” The witch said, as she shot across the room—now hovering close to Charlie and Ben’s ride vehicle.

“The boy doesn’t want to make a silly potion,” said Oteza, staring the witch down.

“Who…who’s that talking? I didn’t ask for your input, you foolish stick,” said the witch.

“Foolish stick?” Oteza replied. “Do it, Charlie.”

Holding her with his ring finger hand, the boy slammed Oteza’s base to the floorboard, creating a loud thunderous CLAP!

Instantly, the walking stick’s eyes lit up—a bolt of energy flowed through her, into the ring, then into the body of the boy.

Popping and cracking with energy, Oteza shouted out, “Nobody pushes us around.”

Charlie stood, twirled the walking stick above his head, then thrust her radiant eyes towards the witch above. A powerful energy bolt shot from Oteza’s eyes.

But it was too late, the witch had taken flight across the room. She pulled back and zapped the large pool below with her wand—which began to drain.

The giant whirlpool carried the fleet of cauldrons round and round. One-by-one, each disappearing into the pool’s drain hole. Guests screamed in frightful delight as they vanished from the room.

The blue witch cackled from above, excited for what was to come next.

“Looks like we’re last in line, eh Charlie?”

“Not sure that’s a good thing, Ben,” the boy replied.

“Agreed,” said Oteza. “Be on your guard, gentlemen.”

Almost empty, Charlie and his Patron friends were the only cauldron remaining in the pool.

“Now we’ll see who has the greater magic,” said the witch with a cackle.

The last few gallons left the pool and the drain hole snapped closed—trapping the last cauldron inside.

Charlie and Ben assumed battle positions.

Reaching back, the blue witch cast her wand forward, striking the sidewalls of the empty pool with a blast of dark magic. The walls began to rotate in a clockwise motion, closing in on the center of the pool. Its floor began to rise—pushing the Patrons vehicle upwards. The stone walls turned to wood and spiraled into a large bonfire formation directly below their cauldron.

“Heat is good, fire to wood,” said the witch. She cast a fireball into the wood pile, which exploded—surrounding them in flames.

“It’s heating up really fast around here,” said Charlie.

The witch cackled again.

“I’m in no mood to be cooked today, my friends,” said Oteza.

“Kettle of black take the notion, fill thyself with roasting potion,” said the witch, as she cast a spell upon the cauldron.

What now,” said Charlie.

“The cauldron…it’s filling up. Smells like soup,” said Ben. The short Irishman dipped his finger in and took a taste. “Yep, and a pretty good one at that.”

“It’s time we fight back,” said the walking stick. “No soup for you today, witch!”

“Right, Charlie added. The boy thrust his trusty stick towards the witch again—Oteza’s eyes ignited, sending another blast towards the blue, warty target.

Catching her off guard, the witch was thrown off balance. Her concentration was lost and the spell was broken.

The chosen outsider kicked open the cauldron door, quickly draining the witches potion. He raised his mighty stick, slamming it into the base of the cauldron. The ride vehicle exploded into hundreds of tiny pieces, throwing Charlie and Ben high into the air.

Tucking into a ball position, Ben began to spin madly, bouncing off all the hard surfaces of the enormous, domed room like a pinball.

The witch became frantic in her attempt to repeatedly dodge the out-of-control Irishman.

Charlie, still suspended in air, took Oteza in his left hand and began to swing her round and round in a circular motion, forming a tornado-like wind around them. The faster he swung his magic stick, the tighter the winds rotation became. Sucking the flames from the fire, the spiraling winds shaped the mass into a large ball of fire—suspending it above ground.

Across the large room, the witch paused in mid-air, confused by what she saw.

Ben took Charlie’s queue and quickly bounced to the opposite side of the room—sheltering himself from what came next.

“The chosen outsider reached upwards with his ring hand opened, then closed it into a fist—calling the Lion Crest Ring to action.

The golden ring appeared on his finger, its radiant light shot out in all directions, engulfing the boy who wielded its power.

“There it is. I knew it,” said the witch with her partially-toothed smile.

“Too late,” said Oteza.

Charlie took his ring hand and made a grabbing motion towards the large fireball. Reaching back, he threw it towards the witch. The fireball screamed across the room—striking her dead-on.

Hopelessly trapped inside the flaming mass, the blue witch turned red in the face—shouting out in frustration.

Glowing like the sun, the chosen outsider cast his mighty ostrich stick towards the witch one last time.

A burst of light shot out from Oteza’s eyes striking the fireball and turning it into an enormous lead ball. The ball fell hard, slamming into the empty pool floor. Cracks in the floor crawled out in every direction, as the giant lead ball split in half, releasing a blast of blue smoke from its core.

Ben joined Charlie, both suspended in air by the magic of the ring, as they observed what remained below. A blue pewter statue of the witch.

The Irishman nodded to the boy, “Looks like our work here is done.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Charlie replied.

“We still need to find a way out of this creepy park,” Oteza reminded her friends.

Charlie looked at his friends then thrust his ring hand towards the pool drain hole which lay beneath the giant pile of wood. Instantly, the wood pile was disintegrated and the drain hole popped open.

“Inside to out,” the boy commanded, as he squeezed his hand into a fist.

A magic, swirling orb of gold, sparkling light engulfed the boy and his friends. Shrinking down to the size of a basketball, the light mass shot through the drain hole, then exploded up through the ground outside, soaring high into the dark sky like a blazing firework. Landing safely just outside The Crazy Cauldron attraction, it returned Charlie and his friends to normal size, then receded back into the ring…as evil eyes watched nearby.


© 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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