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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 4 - Eyes on Frank)

Updated: Mar 11



Cornelius Fibs, better known as Captain Fibs, was in charge of reporting day-to-day Patron activity in Epcot to Dark Thorn Senkrad. On any given day, he could most likely be found wandering the park, real or simulated, participating in his favorite activity, eating. In most cases, hanging loyally by his side, were his two most trusted spies, Duke and Grim.

On the same sunny day in October that Frank and Alfred had met in the Library of Dreams, a pair of wandering eyes seated across the World Showcase promenade at the Rose and Crown Pub had locked in on the unsuspecting Patron as he cautiously turned right and headed down Tudor Lane to meet with his trusted friend.

Those eyes, were the eyes of Captain Fibs.

“Would you look at that fellas,” said Fibs.

Duke and Grim spun their heads round, spotting the captain’s discovery. Both, grinning devilishly, turned back towards their captain.

“Looks like our old Patron pal is up to something,” said Grim.

“Yeah, and we just happened to be planted in the perfect spot to figure out what that is,” said Duke.

Fibs leaned in over the patio table and said. “He does seem a little bit antsy, now doesn’t he lads?”

“So what do we do, Captain?” asked Duke.

“You two follow ‘em,” said Fibs. “See if ya can tag ‘em with one of those new micro bugs we have. My gut tells me old Wellington might be off to one of his special meetings.”

“A meeting for what?” asked Grim.

“Word has it, the kid is headed back for another vacation.”

“Kid? What kid?” said Duke.

“You know,” said the captain, wiping the drool from his overfed mouth with his chubby, grease-covered hands.

Duke and Grim looked at each other, then back to their captain. Both, dumb-founded in expression.

“Come on boys, you know,” said Fibs, now agitated. “The bleed’n, chosen outsider, for crying out loud.

“Ohhh, yeah, that kid,” said Grim. “Why didn’t cha just say so.”

The captain’s face turned red with anger as he rattled off a chain of words unsuitable for children’s ears in mumbled tone. “I didn’t think it necessary, ya buffoon.”

So what exactly is the big deal?” said Duke. “The kid is coming down with his family for another vacation. What are we supposed to do about it, join ‘em?”

“I can’t BELIEVE the two of ya,” said Fibs, his face turning redder still. “The boy is coming down to search for the next Kingdom Crystal, you blithering block heads. For the love of Mary, I don’t think there’s a whole brain’s worth between the two of ya.”

Knowing they were in a losing battle, Duke and Grim quickly stood up from the table.

“Guess we should get a move on,” said Duke.

Staring down his spies, the captain sighed and wiped the sweat from his brow. “I’ll stay put in case Frankie tries to sneak back this way. Now, off with both of ya.”

Duke and Grim nodded, then headed down Tudor Lane, while Fibs sat back and enjoyed finishing off his double order of vinegar-soaked fish and chips.


******


“He turned right, Grim,” said Duke, pointing towards The Sportsman’s Shop.

“Don’t point you nitwit,” said Grim, “you don’t want him to make us, do ya?”

Frank peeked over his shoulder to see if anyone was following him, then headed into the store.

Duke and Grim casually followed the Patron in, trying not to draw attention.

Like all Thorn spies, Duke and Grim could cleverly disguise themselves as typical park guests—well groomed and dressed for fun, thanks to their hi-tech belt buckles, marked with the letter “T”, for Thorn. It was a most ingenious device, created by a former Imagineer turned bad, and the perfect masking device for roaming the real Disney World properties.

Frank slowly moved around the soccer merchandise, paused at the Guinness glasses display, then headed into the crest room. Am I being followed?

“Too close, Grim, too close,” whispered Duke. “We need to wait for the right moment, then tag ‘em with a bug.”

“Well, how do we know when that is?” replied Grim, sarcastically.

“You just will,” snipped Duke, “and don’t stare at ‘em. Just act like the other guests, got it?”

The wise Patron pretended to admire the multitude of crests handsomely displayed on wooden shelves, then, continued to move past the illuminated collection of colorful dragons and the open fireplace. He turned right, then stood to view the impressive sword display. I guess it’s safe, Frank thought to himself. Just a bunch of innocent shoppers. At least, as far as I can tell.

“Oomph.”

A younger gentlemen bumped into Frank.

“Sorry about that, sir, I didn’t see ya standing there.”

“That’s quite alright, young man, no need to worry,” said Frank. “I’m stronger than I look,” he replied with a smile, a chuckle, and an old-man arm flex. Boy, this place is crawling with guests today. I had better be extra careful nobody is watching before heading into Christopher’s bedroom.

Frank exited through the back of the Crown and Crest and into The Toy Soldier shop. Again, looking back over his shoulder. All clear.


******


“Good job mate, that was a perfect plant, if I do say so myself,” said Duke.

“Oh yeah, did ya see that?” said Grim. “I bumped ‘em with my left arm, then reached ‘round with the right, and planted a micro-bug atop his shoulder.”

“He’ll never find that, I tell ya,” said Duke.

“Not on his best day,” added Grim, proudly with a smile.

“Well, looks like our work is done here, for now, mate,” said Duke. “What do ya say we head back and share a tasty bit of suds with the ‘ol captain, eh?”

Grim gestured towards the nearest exit. “Lead the way, friend.”

The two spies exited the Crown and Crest, sharing a bit of light-hearted laughter, as they confidently marched back towards the Crown & Pub to give their captain the good news.


******


“That’s right Captain, Grim here gave the old coot a classic ‘bump diversion’, then planted the micro-bug right on his shoulder,” said Duke.

“Should get pretty good reception from that location, if I do say so myself,” said Grim—proudly raising his glass towards Duke for a celebratory toast.

Duke returned the gesture. “Here-here my good fellow,” he said, then took a drink in recognition.

The captain sat back and admired his men—his belly, full of fish and chips, and his shirt, grease-stained and covered in crumbs.

“Yes, fine work gentlemen,” Fibs calmly replied, satisfied with his spies’ accomplishment. “We need to notify Senkrad immediately. Time be a wast’n.”

The captain struggled to roll around and rise to a standing position. His flip-flops, taking on maximum capacity.

“But, Captain, we just finished our work,” said Grim.

“How does the saying go?” said Fibs, “oh yes, there’s no rest for the wicked, and unfortunately fellas, that includes us.” The captain wiped his sweaty brow with his forearm, overheated from the heavy food he had just consumed, then slowly began to walk away.

Duke and Grim bowed their heads and shook them side-to-side—dejected by the captain’s words.

“Come on boys, there’s work to be done,” said Fibs—continuing to slowly flip-flop away.

Duke and Grim quickly rose from the table and reluctantly caught up to their leader.


******


Fibs and his spies had transported from a hidden Dream Dot in Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion to a place in WONDER filled with evil, known to some as Senkrad’s Shadow.

Through recent past, using powers of dark magic and the direction of their mysterious leader, each of five Dark Thorns had established a hidden shadow realm, within their respective segment of WONDER. Unlike the realms created by Imagineers and animators, shadow realms existed in sub-level form—paling in comparison to the primary realms of WONDER. Yet still, they were an effective way for FOTO to secretly continue to grow and perfect their evil ways.

Senkrad’s realm, located in the Epcot segment of WONDER, was hidden directly beneath the simulated World Showcase Lagoon, in the darkest of places, accessible only by way of Dream Dots. Dream Dots created by the Dark Thorns. The castle in which Senkrad resided was surrounded on three sides by jagged, volcano-like mountains, and bordered by a lava-filled molt. The castle structure was ragged, cold and dark—built of black, slate-like stone, which looked as though it could tumble down at any second. The moonlit skies, lingering above, were smoke-filled and dark. The outlying area covered with thick, twisted, dead woods and the sounds of unfriendly creatures who were constantly on the prowl. Daylight did not exist here, nor in any other shadow realm.

“I never really enjoy visiting this place,” said Duke.

“You best hope the dark master doesn’t hear you say that,” said Grim.

“Hear…what?” A voice rained down from above.

A cloud mixed of purple and grey developed overhead. It expanded quickly, pushing outward toward the three slack jawed visitors, Fibs, Duke and Grim.

From within the swirling cloud formation, the silhouette of a ghastly, stick-like, pale blue figure, covered by a flowing black gown, emerged. Senkrad.

The intimidating Dark Thorn slowly walked over and stared through the soul of Duke with his black, marble-like eyes.

“I…uh…said…” Duke was in a petrified state, barely able to speak coherently.

“What? What was that again? I could swear I heard the word, master,” Senkrad said with a crackled voice.

Like all Dark Thorns, Senkrad had a keen since of hearing. Especially if he were the topic of discussion.

“It was nothing, dark master,” said Captain Fibs. “Just a little small talk while waiting for you to arrive.”

Senkrad redirected his attention away from Duke, his soulless eyes, now piercing those of the captain.

Fibs searched his master’s eyes for forgiveness, or any other form of emotion that would confirm Senkrad had bought his response.

Nothing but silence filled the air.

Senkrad turned away from the captain and swung his right arm upwards. Four chairs, made from the same black, slate-like stone as the castle, magically rose up from the floor.

“Be seated, gentlemen,” said the Dark Thorn.

Fibs and his two spies obeyed.

Senkrad was last to sit.

“What news have you for me?”

“Well, we spotted Frank Wellington,” said Fibs, “and I…” the captain lost himself for a moment in the Dark Thorn’s eyes.

“Go on,” said Senkrad in a crackled voice.

“I noticed he looked very suspicious, you know, like he was up to something…something he didn’t want anybody to know about,” said Fibs.

“Like us, for example?” said Senkrad.

“Exactly,” said Fibs, who was now sweating profusely—nervous from what he was about to tell his dark leader. If he does not approve of my actions, the boys and me could very well end up in the big blue fella’s dungeon, the captain thought to himself.

“Well, go on, captain, spit it out. I promise…I won’t bite,” Senkrad said, followed by a deeply disturbing grin.

The captain refocused. “So I sent my two boys, Duke and Grim, here, to follow ‘em.”

“Then?” said Senkrad.

“I figured, since it appeared Frank was going to a secret meeting and all, it would be best to plant one of them new micro-bugs on the old fella. Ya know, so we could listen in and get all the juicy details on what the Patron’s have planned next.”

“A good idea,” replied Senkrad. “Is there more you can tell me?”

“Yes, in fact there is. Immediately after we planted the bug, we made it our priority to notify you in person as quickly as possible—knowing you would be eager to listen in on the Patron’s secret conversation,” said Fibs.

Senkrad sat with stoic expression.

Sweat poured over the captain’s forehead. Again. Nervous thoughts swirled around in his mind: What did I say? Did I say something wrong? What is running through that overgrown head of his?

The Dark Thorn rose from his chair and slowly walked around the table until he was positioned directly behind the seated captain.

Fibs felt a cold hand on his right shoulder. He turned to look up.

“Well done, Captain,” said Senkrad. “You too, Duke and Grim. Now…where is the receiver?”

Fibs and his spies breathed a sigh of relief. Not only was the dark leader pleased with their tactics, he actually paid the captain and his men a complement as well—a rare occurrence indeed.

The captain fiddled around in his left, front pocket, digging for the micro-bug receiver. He pulled out an empty hand.

“I…I can’t seem to find it. I must have left it on my bedside table.” Again, Fibs broke into a nervous sweat. He knew there would be consequences for his failure.

The Dark Thorn, surprisingly, said nothing. Instead, he glided across the room to a bubbling pool of lava and lifted both arms high above his head, palms up. The red-hot lava shot upwards, thirty feet into the air, spiraling into a fiery ring. There was a sudden burst, the center of the ring lit up like a giant movie screen.

“No matter, Captain,” said Senkrad, “I will connect another way.”

The dark leader spread his long, gangly arms apart, then clapped his hands together loudly—the screen grew brighter, then a faint image appeared. It was a series of multi-colored sound waves, moving in sync to voices that could barely be heard.

Senkrad looked to the screen, lifting his right hand, palm up, he increased the volume. The voices of Frank and Alfred filled the enormous room. Then he turned to look back over his shoulder at Fibs, Duke and Grim with a wicked smirk. “Much better, wouldn’t you say?”

The captain and his men stared in disbelief. More scared than impressed.

“Uh…yes…yes, that…that’s very impressive,” said Fibs, “ wouldn’t you say boys?”

Duke and Grim nodded, too frightened to speak.

“Besides, I’ve never really had much confidence in all that feeble-minded tech,” said Senkrad. “Dark magic is far superior.”

Fibs and his spies nodded repeatedly in agreement.

“Yes, way more superior, dark leader,” said Fibs, nervously. “Not even a contest.”

“However,” said Grim, “without the micro-bug we planted on ‘em, this wouldn’t be—”

“Senkrad spun round and shot Grim an evil glare. “You doubt my power? Why you little pathetic fool. You’re little, micro-bug means nothing to me. Yes, it worked out this time, in this particular instance—a RARE instance at that.”

A sudden chilling wave swept through Grim’s being, as if the Dark Thorn’s glare had frozen him stiff.

“He won’t make that mistake again,” said Fibs, attempting to save Grim from further humiliation. “Isn’t that right—”

“Shhhhhhh!” Senkrad raised a finger to silence the captain.

“What is it, dark master?” asked Fibs.

“Hush, you fool,” said Senkrad, “and listen. They’re about to tell us their plans.”

The Dark Thorn raised his right hand, increasing the volume even more.

“Which brings me to the next topic at hand, the Magic Dream Expander, said Frank.”

“Go on,” said Alfred.

“With evil lurking nearby, and becoming more of a threat each passing day, I feel now, more than ever, it would be in our best interest to move the Magic Dream Expander.”

“I think you’re on to something, Frank. You know, there’s no tell’n how much that bunch of rabble rousers already knows. Especially the Dark Thorns and their mysterious leader.”

“Which reminds me,” said Frank, have we any good leads yet on who it may be?”

“Not yet, Frank, but I feel we will find out soon enough. Whether that is a good thing or not, is another matter. But for now, we need to focus on what we CAN control. The last thing we want to do is make it easy for them.”

“I agree one hundred percent,” added Frank.

“So what do you have in mind?”

“Have in mind?” said Frank.

“You know…about moving the Magic Dream Expander,” said Alfred.

“Ahhh yes,” said Frank. “Simple, we call a meeting to discuss when, where, and HOW, we want to do it.”

“And where do you suggest this meeting take place?” said Alfred.

“The Magic Dream Expander’s current hiding place,” said Frank.

“Very smart, that way we can—”

“We can act immediately on our intentions,” Frank interrupted. “Take the ‘when’ right out of the mix.”

“Precisely,” said Alfred.

“It’s settled, then,” said Frank, “I’ll arrange a meeting.”

“See you soon, my friend,” replied Alfred.

Senkrad snapped his bony fingers, the magic lava ring immediately returned to the pool.

The captain and his men anxiously stood up from the table.

“What now, dark leader?” said Fibs.

“You follow them,” replied Senkrad, “both of them. Take your spies and don’t let Frank or Alfred out of your sight. Do whatever necessary to get us into that meeting. Meanwhile, I will discuss further plans with the other Dark Thorns. One way or another, we need to find out where they intend to move the Magic Dream Expander.”

“Why don’t we just take it once we find out where they plan to hold the meeting, dark leader?” asked Grim.

Senkrad turned to Grim, his eyes, black and empty as night. “No, they would expect that. We need to catch the Patrons off guard. Our best chance to do so will be right after the Magic Dream Expander has been moved. They won’t be expecting us to know the new location.”

“Right,” said Fibs, the element of surprise. Brilliant.”

“Indeed it is, Captain,” said Senkrad. But, let me be clear about one thing. At this time, it is crucial we DO NOT give away our intentions.”

“You mean…”

“Not until we gain control of the Magic Dream Expander, Captain,” said Senkrad.

“Understood,” said Fibs, bowing to Senkrad.

Duke and Grim bowed as well.

The captain and his spies quickly departed the castle, pleased to be leaving such a dark place as Senkrad’s Shadow.


© 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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