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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 9 - Library of Dreams)

Updated: Mar 11

SHWOOOP! The light faded, Charlie and Michael looked around, finding themselves amongst familiar faces—but in an unfamiliar place. The walls were covered by hundreds of concept drawings and paintings—large, medium and small, all of which, were related to the Disney parks or movies. None had been seen by the general public, nor would they, ever, as they were sacred to the Patrons—key elements, each and every one of them, in the development of WONDER. At the far end of the room was a fully stoked fireplace, and above it was an intricately carved mantle where a small collection of conceptual sculptures rested. Some were characters never realized, while others were miniatures of possible attractions that never were. The rose red carpeting was ornately designed with a floral pattern, and resting atop it, in the center of the room, was a large, round mahogany table, surrounded by tall-back chairs with burgundy cushions. Hanging from the ceiling above the table was a gold Baroque-style chandelier in which a dozen wax candles burned.

“Where are we?” said Michael.

“A special place,” Frank replied with a raised brow.

Charlie gave the old Patron a look of curiosity. “What kind of special place?”

“The kind you don’t go telling anybody about,” Frank replied.

“Really?’”asked Michael.

“Really, Michael,” said Frank.

“And why is that?” said Charlie.

“Through those doors,” Frank said, pointing towards a set of large mahogany doors with intricately carved panels and brass handles sculpted in the shapes of mermaids, “lies one of our most precious and valuable assets.”

“Oh, do tell, won’t you, Frank? Please, stop teasing the boys,” said Midnight, as he jumped off a nearby chair in the corner of the room and walked over to join the group.

“Midnight! It’s nice to see you again,” said Michael in excited tone.

Charlie smiled at the large black cat, then turned his attention back to Frank. “Yes, we really would like to know, Frank. What exactly, lies beyond those doors?”

“I really shouldn’t tell you,” said Frank.

“Come on, Frank, I’m sure it’s worth sharing,” said Oteza.

“Now-now, no need to get your feathers ruffled,” replied Frank. “Some things are better off left a secret, for the good of Disney.”

“And some things need to be shared for the good of Disney,” Oteza snipped back.

Frank and the stubborn ostrich stick continued to argue back and forth while the two boys and cat stood back and quietly observed.

“I would like to know,” said a soft, female voice.

The room went silent. Everyone turned their attention towards the two chairs sitting in front of the fireplace.

Frank had brought another guest, besides Midnight.

The warm glow of the fire highlighted the chairs, which appeared empty. Slowly, feminine hands with neatly polished nails emerged from both sides of the left chair, resting upon its arms. Then, a head covered in long, black hair pulled into a ponytail, rose above the back of the tall, slender chair. Slowly, she turned around, revealing her stunning eyes and hypnotic smile.

“Valerie?” Charlie was at a loss for words—in awe of the young lady’s beauty.

“So nice to see you again, Charlie,” she said, before quickly directing her attention back to Frank.

The wise Patron sought a diversion, not wanting to address the question regarding the doors and what lay beyond them. “Oh, right, how impolite of me to not reacquaint the three of you,” Frank said to Valerie. “Charlie…Michael, if you do not remember, this is my young apprentice, Valerie. Valerie, this is Charlie, our chosen outsider, and his younger brother, Michael.”

“Yes, I do remember spending a brief period of time with them last year, said Valerie. But what we really would like to know is, what lies beyond those doors? Right boys?” Valerie turned and gave Charlie and Michael a flirtatious look, causing the older brother to blush and lose his train of thought.

“I really don’t see what the fuss is all about,” Oteza whispered to the boys.

Michael looked at Oteza, then his brother. Too young to be affected by the young woman’s beauty, he shook his head in disappointment, then replied, “I agree, Valerie.”

Frank stuttered, coughed and grunted—scratching his head, he tried his best to avoid the inevitable truth and the stare of his young apprentice.

“Well?” said Valerie.

“Yes, Frank, come out with it,” added Oteza.

“All right—all right, but you must promise me that none of you will EVER tell anyone what I am about to say,” Frank replied.

“Promise,” said Valerie.

“Cross my heart,” said Midnight.

“We promise,” said Charlie, speaking on behalf of himself and Michael.

Oteza remained silent, her eyes staring at the twin doors.

“And what about you?” Frank asked the ostrich stick.

“My lips are sealed,” replied Oteza.

Frank gazed at the doors, then slowly walked towards the fireplace, stopping and resting a hand on the top of each chair. He raised his head to the painting of Walt above the fireplace mantle and said in a deflated tone, “It’s a library.”

Everyone stood silent, staring at each other.

“You mean, the Library of Dreams?” Valerie asked.

“What exactly is the Library of Dreams?” said Michael.

“It’s where the Patron council keeps record of all the dreams and ideas ever created by the Imagineers and animators of Disney,” said Valerie.

Everyone turned towards the beautiful, young lady.

“How did you know that?” said Frank, knowing very well, only members of the Patron Council knew what was held within its walls.

“Just a lucky guess, I suppose,” she replied.

“Yes, lucky indeed,” said Midnight, suspicious of Valerie’s answer.

There was an awkward moment of silence.

“I mean, Frank, you did say that behind those doors was one of the Patron’s most precious and valuable assets, so naturally I assumed it to be the Library of Dreams,” said Valerie, in her own defense.

“But, most are not even aware of its existence, let alone, where it exists,” said Midnight.

Frank looked at Valerie, perplexed by her knowledge of the library. “Is it possible, I may have told you about it during one of our Patron training sessions over the past few months? You know, sometimes I can not even remember what I did five minutes ago.”

“Yes, that’s it, Frank,” Valerie replied. “About six weeks ago we were discussing how the records for all the dreams and ideas of WONDER are filed away, and you briefly mentioned the library, and hinted of its location.”

Frank looked up at the ceiling, scratching his head with his left hand—challenging his own memory. “Hmmm, I did? It’s still not ringing a bell. But then again, those bells are getting harder to ring every year.”

Everyone enjoyed a good laugh at Frank’s expense, then refocused on the doors.

“Can we see the library, Frank?”

“Sorry, Michael, but that I can not do. Those doors are locked tight, and I do not have a key to get in.”

The young boy sighed, staring down at this feet.

“No need to feel glum about it, lad,” said Midnight, “none of us here except Frank has ever set foot beyond those doors.”

“He’s right, you know,” added Oteza. “Chin up young man, the adventure is just getting started.”

“Exactly, Michael,” his brother replied. “Besides, we have a lot to talk about, like the little girl in my dream.”

Frank’s ear’s perked up, as did the ears of his young female apprentice.

“Frank told me you had a rather interesting dream,” said Midnight.

“Yes, let’s start with that,” said Frank, “we need to talk more about this dream of yours, Charlie. Everyone, please, have a seat around the table.”

POOF! A burst of flame shot out of the fireplace, transforming into a jolly little man with red hair and soot-covered clothes. “Sorry, I’m late. Did I miss anything?”

“No, Ben, we were just getting ready to begin. Please, have a seat,” said Frank as he gestured with his right hand.

“Don’t mind if I do,” replied Ben with a giggle, dusting the soot off his clothes.

“Good to see you, Ben,” said Charlie.

“You as well,” young lad. I see you brought your brother with ya as well. How are ya, young fellow?” said Ben.

“Doing well,” said Michael.

“And Charlie, how about you?”

“Pretty good,” said Charlie, “I was just getting ready to talk about a dream I recently had.”

“Oh, then I’m just in time,” said Ben—taking a seat at the table.

With everyone’s full attention, Frank began the conversation, “A short while back Charlie and I had a discussion by way of the Magic Dream Expander, in which he described to me a rather peculiar dream of his. Charlie, would you like to share with the others what you told me?”

“Right,” said Charlie. “So, I had a dream I was riding The Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, and there was this little girl with her parents who were also on the ride, when suddenly, this giant, creepy shadow swept over all of Fantasyland—turning everything grey except the girl and the horse she was riding.”

“What about you?” said Ben.”Were you still in color?”

“Not exactly,” said Frank. “I asked the same question before. Go ahead, Charlie. Tell them what you told me.”

“I’m not even sure I was there,” the boy replied. “It’s like I could see everything…but I wasn’t there. Like watching a movie, if that makes any sense at all?”

Everyone around the table looked at Charlie with great curiosity and confusion.

“Very interesting,” said Valerie, “what happened next?”

“These five shadow-like figures on big black horses slowly came riding out of the fog. They were led by this ghost lady, dressed in white. She was riding some kind of dragon-horse creature, with purple eyes and, big claws. It had bright green flames coming out of its mouth.”

“Could you see any of their faces?” Ben asked.

“No, not really,” Charlie replied, “the five shadow figures were all wearing black hoods, and the white, ghost lady had long, white hair swirling around her head in slow motion, which concealed her identity.

“Sounds like the stuff nightmares are made of,” Midnight said.

“It was,” the boy replied. “Then they charged the carrousel, leaving this smokey, twisted trail—like a horizontal funnel cloud, made up of creepy-looking creatures behind them.”

“How did the girl respond?” asked Valerie.

“I would imagine the poor, little thing was terrified,” said Oteza.

“She was,” said Charlie, “and just as the carrousel came back around, the six ghostly riders leaped high into the air to attack the carrousel.”

“Oh no,” said Ben.

“The little girl turned her head away, not wanting to see what happened next. But then…” Charlie paused.

Everyone around the table was on the edge of their seat.

“Yes, go on,” said Midnight.

“There was this giant BLAST of rainbow colors. It shot out from the center of the carrousel, pushing the evil riders backwards, while at the same time, erasing them from existence.”

Valerie blinked repeatedly, and shook her head. “So what was it?”

“I’m not sure, said Charlie, “but whatever it was, it returned all of Fantasyland back to full color.”

Everyone except Frank sat silent in thought.

“Quite a dream, isn’t it?” Frank said to the others around the table. “Charlie and I have already discussed it. In fact, I have given it a great deal of thought.”

“You have?” said Ben, “please share.”

“Yes, of course,” said Frank. “The five dark horseman represent the five Dark Thorns, and the mysterious lady with long, white hair is their leader.”

“Ahhh, so she’s the one the Patron council is still trying to identify?” asked Valerie.

“Precisely, my dear,” said Frank, proud to see his young apprentice was paying attention.

“And what of this shadow that turned Fantasyland grey?” asked Ben.

“My guess,” said Frank, “everything turning grey represents what will happen to the parks if FOTO gains control of the Magic Dream Expander and WONDER. Basically, it would whither and die.”

The table went silent, again.

“What about the smokey trail of creepy creatures the riders left behind?” said Midnight.

“I presume it to be all the evil FOTO is attempting to spread throughout WONDER.”

“But there’s the color burst at the end, right?” Ben said, searching for a positive spark.

Frank turned to his cheerful little friend with a smile. “Yes, there is that, isn’t there. I believe it represents a ray of hope. And from what I have heard and observed, I believe Charlie may be that ray. This young boy’s dreams, as impossible as it may seem, are somehow connected to the magic of WONDER. In some sort of…unexplainable way, his mind has formed a bridge—a magical, subconscious bridge, between WONDER and reality, as we know it.”

“Dreams are nice, but how effective are they without the Magic Dream Expander?” said Valerie.

“Ohhh, dreams can be quite effective without the Magic Dream Expander,” replied Frank, “I assure you.”

“Really?” said Valerie. “Like how?”

“We’re not really sure yet,” said Frank, “but we do know there is a connection between Charlie’s dream and finding the third Kingdom Crystal, which will strengthen our position against the Dark Thorn’s pursuit of the Magic Dream Expander.”

“Isn’t that what the ring on my finger is for?” said Charlie.

“The ring is an Object of Magic, and most certainly will help to find the third Kingdom Crystal. But I think your dreams are focused on a much broader scheme of things,” said Frank.

“Which includes the Magic Dream Expander?” asked Valerie.

“Precisely,” said Frank.

“So, I would assume, whatever lies beyond those doors, is somehow related to all of this, and that is why you have gathered us here?” asked Charlie.

Frank looked around at the others with a serious brow, then said, “Darkness is upon us. The reach of the Dark Thorns and their evil army is growing stronger every day, as more and more reports of unusual occurrences are taking place all around WONDER. If something were to happen to me…and to the rest of the Patron Council members, this is a place you will need to remember. Beyond those doors, in the Library of Dreams, lies every and anything you would ever need to know about WONDER, including…a map leading to the hidden location of the Magic Dream Expander. Which, as you know, is the one thing we CAN NOT allow the Thorn army to gain possession of. I’m just not sure our magic is powerful enough to prevent this from happening.”

“I don’t want to hear that type of talk, Frank,” said Ben.

“Yeah, me either,” said Michael.

Frank reacted with a somber smile.

“Besides, you told us the doors were locked, so how would we even get into the library if we needed to anyway?” asked Valerie.

Frank smirked. “There is a way.”

“Yeah, you mentioned a key,” said Michael.

“That’s right, you did mention a key,” said Charlie.

“Yes, there is a key, just not in the sense that you would expect,” replied Frank.

Everyone was thrown off by the Patron’s reply.

“What about the map?” asked Ben. “You said it was in the library, but you didn’t tell us where.”

“You will know at the time it is needed. It’s all up here, as it is with the other Patron Council members,” Frank said, pointing to his head.

“Well, I think I speak for all of us—here in this room, when I say, let’s hope it never comes to that,” said Midnight. “Cause I for one, do not plan on losing you anytime soon, my friend.”

“My feelings, exactly,” said Ben.

Frank smiled, then said, “As long as we stick together, help Charlie and Michael find the third crystal, and keep the Magic Dream Expander hidden, all should be well.”

“Let us hope for the best,” said Valerie.

© 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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