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Donny sat down with a sigh. He clipped the seat belt together and sat back.
“Enjoy your ride,” said the bellhop cast member in an Igor-like voice. As the doors closed, he gave the group a thumbs up with a grin. At the last minute, he gave the group a thumbs down with a frown on his face. The doors closed with a loud clank and the elevator started upwards. Everyone laughed. Everyone, that is, except Donny. Not only was he terrified because he had hardly nothing to hold him down, he was also afraid of heights. What Stanley had told him about the ride hadn’t helped ease his fears.
~ ~ ~
“Do you want to know something cool about the Tower of Terror, Donny?” asked Stanley.
“Sure,” answered Donny.
“The elevator drops faster than gravity can pull it. The Tower of Terror is the tallest ride in Walt Disney World. The motors that run the elevators are more powerful than those that lifted the elevators in the World Trade Center,” explained Stanley.
“I’m never going on that ride,” commented Donny.
~ ~ ~
Donny shook the flashback out of his head. He looked around him.
‘What am I doing here?’ he asked himself. ‘I said I would never ride this and now look! I’m working here.’
Suddenly, the elevator doors opened to reveal a long hallway in front of them. At the end of the hallway was a window. Five plasma-blue shapes materialized about halfway down the hall. The forms took the shape of five humans; four adults and a little girl. The ghosts began walking toward the elevator, waving. They disappeared, leaving electric sparks behind them. The window on the far wall started moving toward the elevator. Just before it got to the elevator, the window shattered and the elevator doors closed. The room began moving upwards once again. Once it hit the thirteenth floor, the doors once again opened and the elevator began to move forward. He reached down to grab Candy’s hand. She looked at him and smiled, looking as if she were having the time of her life. He forced a smile that said ‘I wish I were on solid ground, right now.’
Looking around, Donny saw all five ghosts doing something as the elevator passed them. Looking forward, he saw that there was a large door in front of them with swirling stars on it. The Twilight Zone music reached a high point as Donny heard the door click shut behind the elevator. The elevator dinged and it shot downward ten feet. Shooting back up, Donny saw an amazing and horrifying sight. The elevator looked as if it were about to go through a window. He could see all of the park from up here. The elevator shot down seven stories and up nine. It shot up and down a few more times then slowed down as it descended.
“You have survived the Tower of Terror. If you would like to check into the hotel at any time, please visit again,” came the narrative voice of Rod Serling in the background. The elevator came to a stop and the doors opened. Donny fumbled with his seatbelt and ran out of the elevator, pushing his way past kids, seniors, and other people. Sean hobbled out of the elevator to find Donny standing next to an ECV. Cap helped Sean into his ECV which was on the opposite side of the room than where Donny was standing. He stooped down to look at the name tag of the ECV to see it read ‘Alberta Conmeyer.’ He looked to his left and saw one of the elderly ladies he pushed past to get out of the elevator waddling towards her ECV. As she sat down, she snarled at Donny and hit him with her purse then sped away. Donny rubbed the newly tender spot on his arm. His friends laughed.
“That was terrifying. Nothing that scary has ever happened to me before,” said the eldest detective.
“What?” laughed Sean. “Riding in the brave seat or the old lady hitting you?” Everyone other than Donny erupted into uncontrollable laughter.
“Riding in the brave seat, dufus,” Donny said with a snotty tone to his voice. This only made everyone else laugh harder. The group walked over to the area where guests can view the pictures that were taken of them as the elevator dropped.
Everyone in the picture was smiling with their hands up. Donny had a look of pure terror on his face and was white-knuckling the bars on either side of him.
“C-can we p-p-please get out of here?” asked Donny, stuttering.
“Sure,” said Sean looking at his watch in the dimly lit room. “It’s about 9:30.”
Sean glanced at the picture one more time to notice that he recognized the family in the front left corner of the elevator.
“You guys! The Winklers were on that elevator with us!” shouted Sean. The group hurried out of the old hotel and just about ran into the family Sean was speaking of.
“Howdy Kyle, Robert, and the rest of your friends,” greeted Mr. Winkler, warmly.
“Hello, sir!” Sean said. He introduced Cap.“This is our God-father, Lee. Lee, this is Mr. Winkler.”
“Boy, you have almost your whole family here,” Mr. Winkler joked.
The two exchanged handshakes while the group began heading for the Great Movie Ride. Up front were Candy, Donny, Sean, and his newly arriving girlfriend, Kara. Behind them were Mr. and Mrs. Winkler and Cap.
When the group arrived in front of the giant Sorcerer Mickey hat, they got in line for the ride that would bring them into the movies. Entering in a side door, the group was awakened with a sight that they found quite interesting. It was a mosaic that resembled Chinese life. The hallway that housed the mosaic opened into a room with glass cases. Some of the movie props found in the cases included the merry-go-round horse from Mary Poppins, the checkerboard from Star Wars, and the ruby shoes from The Wizard of Oz. There wasn’t much of a line so the group walked through the theater that showed previews for John Wayne movies and the Sigourney Weaver movie, ALIEN. The group once again walked onto the movie set of Hollywood Hills and loaded onto the tour car. A cast member helped Sean out of his ECV and into a manual wheelchair. The group was seated in the following way: in the front row was Cap, followed by Donny, Candy, and Mr. and Mrs. Winkler. All the way in the back row sat Jolly, Smiley, Sean, and Kara. There were a few people that sat between the front row and Sean and Kara. The tour car started after the word “Action!” was shouted and the audience was once again swept into the world of movies.
Right after the ride began, Kara turned to Sean.
“Sean, I have something very important to tell you,” she said uneasily.
“What?” he asked with concern in his voice.
“My father has informed us that we are going to be leaving two days after tomorrow,” Kara explained.
“I see,” Sean said.
“It’s expensive to stay here and uh, I mean we have to go home sometime, you know?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he agreed sadly.
The two sat back and brought in the scenery without enjoying a minute of it.
After Sean had been transferred back into his ECV at the exit of the ride, the group pushed open the door that led them back out into the park.
“Before we go, I need to use the bathroom,” informed Mr. Winkler. At the same time Mr. Winkler walked into the bathroom, Shaggy walked in and gave a strange look over his shoulder at Donny and Sean.
The group sat down at a landscaping island. After they had waited awhile, Donny stood up to stretch out his legs. Suddenly, someone came out of the bathroom. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Mr. Winkler. A man with shoulder length hair and a grungy goatee wearing a tank top walked out. He turned and headed for the group. In a scratchy voice the man shouted,
“STUPID KID! GET OFF THE CASE!” The man took a swing at Donny’s head. Donny ducked and sprinted off down Commissary Lane. The man let out a battle cry and ran after Donny, full of rage. Kara’s eyes widened but she didn’t make a sound.
“Hop on, Uncle Cap!” yelled Sean, leaning forward in his ECV. “Let’s see how fast this thing goes!” Cap did as he was instructed and Sean gunned the engine. Shooting off against the prey and predator, they saw the two disappear around the corner and onto New York Street.
Donny turned and sprinted into the “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure.” Dodging giant grass blades, Donny complemented himself on taking track so far through high school. ‘It sure prepared me for now,’ he thought. He ran up stairs and under a giant ant. Looking behind him, he realized that Grungy was still behind him.
Looking to the entrance of the movie set, Donny saw Sean in his ECV with Cap hanging on to the back for his life shoot into the play area. Donny ran up more stairs and found himself standing in front of a spider-web like net. Without hesitating, he started climbing through the nets.
Once again glancing over his shoulder, he found that Grungy was still following him. He sprinted up the last few feet of netting and found himself at a dead end. He then realized there was a slide on the side of a wall. He hurtled himself down the slide and out onto ground level where Sean, Cap, and the ECV were waiting for him. He sat on Sean’s lap and Sean sped off out of the play area. Speeding back to where the rest of the group was waiting, Sean and the ECV unloaded its two irregular occupants.
“Let’s get out of here,” suggested Donny.
“I’ll go get your husband,” offered Cap to Mrs. Winkler.
“He said he would meet us back at the hotel. He said he would be awhile,” she explained nervously. The group hurried down Hollywood Boulevard and returned the ECV to the rental place. They made their way over to the bus pick-up area and sat down at the benches.
“Hey, Jolly,” Sean began.
“Yeah?” he asked.
“What about your car?” he asked.
“We’ll come get it tomorrow after we drop Cap off at the Wardrobe Department,” the elder fox explained.
After waiting ten minutes, the bus arrived and the group was headed for home. Trying to write in the darkness of the bus was something Donny found hard to do. Pulling out his notebook, Donny wrote, barely able to see what it was he was writing.
Boy that was scary! The nine of us (Sean, Cap, the Winklers, Candy, Smiley, Jolly, and I)were all out in front of The Great Movie Ride when this grungy guy tried jumping me and chased me right into the Honey I shrunk the kids movie set thing. He chased me up into the spider webs but I escaped down the slide. Sound like a kid game? Well it wasn’t. Just before he started chasing me, he yelled “Get off the case!” Oh, did I mention that we escaped on Sean’s ECV? It was a pretty wild ride. Well, more later. Oh, yeah. This afternoon, Cap, Sean, and I returned back to the hotel from EPCOT. Our hotel room was ransacked and someone had written a message to us on our mirror telling us to get off the case. Is there a connection between the two encounters or are these possibly the two criminals that killed Mr. Engler?
As he put his notebook away, Donny realized the bus had just arrived at his hotel. As the group exited the bus, Candy held him back.
“I’ll meet you guys up at the room. Jolly and Smiley, don’t leave until I get back. I’m gunna walk around with Candy for a little while. I’ll be up in a half hour or less,” the elder teen said. The group headed off to their hotel building.
“Donny,” Candy began catching and holding her boyfriend’s gaze. “Is there something you aren’t telling me? Something about a case? And why are so many strange things happening?”
Donny sighed. “You know how on our first date you asked me why my ID said ‘Robert’ and I quickly avoided the question? It was a fake name. Candy, I am a detective on a murder case.” Pulling Candy down next to him onto a park bench near Lago Dorado, he explained the story to her.
“Sean and I were on vacation in Tampa Bay when another guest at the hotel was shot and killed. The victim happened to be a multi-millionaire who was also a philanthropist. TBPD put us on the case. Their lead was that the culprit had kidnaped his daughter and another woman to pose as his family. Our sources told us that the family was the Winklers. After a while, Sean decided that Mr. Lucas Winkler wasn’t really the culprit but actually this man that was always present whenever bad things happened to us. That’s why Jolly and Smiley hang around with us. They are foxes.” At this comment, Candy’s eyebrows shot up.
“That is why you were kidnaped,” Donny said. “Whoever it is we are after wanted to weaken us so we would stop investigating. Anything you could do to help would be greatly appreciated.
“Let’s head up to your room a second and let me collect my thoughts,” Candy said. The couple walked up the stairs and headed for Donny and the Mitchells’ hotel room. Knocking on the door, Cap came to the door and let the couple in.
“Donny, listen to this!” Sean began. Donny sighed and flopped onto his bed while Candy slumped into a chair near the desk.
“When we dropped Kara and Mrs. Winkler off at their room, the phone rang. Mrs. Winkler went to go answer the phone but didn’t pick up the receiver. Instead, she answered it using speaker phone. Kara and I stood and talked with the door open while Mrs. Winkler talked with Mr. Winkler who was on the other side of the telephone. She asked where he was and he told her he was at 8TRAX, a nightclub in Pleasure Island. He told her he wouldn’t be back until after midnight, that he was meeting someone there. Donny, you and Candy need to go investigate what is going on. I can’t come because me in a wheelchair or on crutches would be to obvious,” Sean explained, out of breath.
“Don’t you think we would be easy to recognize?” asked Donny.
“Not if you let us work our foxy magic,” said Jolly and Smiley in unison, grinning.
At ten o’ clock sharp, the driver of a bus that drove to Pleasure Island, Downtown Disney, and the West Side picked up two people from the Coronado Springs resort: one man and one woman. The man looked to be twenty-two years old with buzzed hair and an earring in his left ear. He had pasty looking skin and had green eyes. He had a beard on his chin, soul patch included. The girl had brown hair with blond highlights and two earrings in each ear. She wore a pink lip gloss and had rosy cheeks. She looked to be about twenty-three years old. Both wore wedding rings and were dressed for dancing. Walking to the back of the bus, the couple were quiet the whole ride to the downtown nightclub district. They got off without a word and both produced ID’s to prove they were eighteen years old (The ID the girl, which was really Candy, produced was real. She was almost nineteen. The guy, who was really Donny, just used the ID of Robert Markes). They casually headed for the dance club based on the seventies and eighties music, 8TRAX.
They found the club tucked away between the shops Superstar Studio and Reel Finds/Changing Attitudes. Entering the dancing establishment, they found the club to be very busy.
“How are we ever going to find Winkler here with all these people?” Candy asked.
“This is where the detective intellect comes into play,” explained Donny, casually strolling over to the bar.
“I was wondering if you could page a Mr. Louis McGrogen, please?” Donny asked the bartender. “When he comes up here, tell him that the hawk always flies under the lamp at midnight with a keyboard on its helmet at midnight and give him this.” Donny gave the bartender a book of matches. The bartender finished writing out the message and picked up the phone.
“Mr. Louis McGrogen, please come to the bar. A message is waiting for you,” he said over the intercom. Donny headed back over to where Candy was standing. After waiting a few minutes, McGrogen/Winkler walked up to the bar and the bartender relayed the message and gave him the matches. McGrogen/Winkler got a very confused look on his face, took the matches, shrugged, and walked away. Candy and Donny followed him cautiously as not to appear suspicious of anything. They took a seat off the dancing floor a few tables over from where McGrogen/Winkler was seated. Every few minutes, McGrogen/Winkler would check his watch. About an hour and a half since Donny and Candy walked into the club, a woman walked over to Louis’s table.
The woman was tall with long, skinny legs and her hair up. She had a medium colored brownish hair. She looked to be about the same age as Louis was. Louis stood up and sat down as the woman sat down. After exchanging a few words, McGrogen/Winkler and the woman stood up and walked out of the club.
Candy and Donny exchanged glances and followed Louis and his female companion out of the club. Once they had exited the club, Donny and Candy acted as hard as they could to look like they were married. Every once in a while, the two would kiss. They held hands as they followed McGrogen and his friend around.
McGrogen/Winkler and the woman walked over the bridge and into Downtown Disney with Donny and Candy right behind. The two mysterious characters stopped next to the Village Lake near the Lego dragon statues while the detective and Cast Member kept walking to the Dock Stage where they sat in the bleachers.
Candy took out her mirror to make it appear she was fixing her hair or inspecting her makeup. In reality, the two were watching Louis and the woman. The two were talking, expressing much emotion. They started to yell when Louis slapped the woman. That only made her yell louder. She yelled so loud that Louis took a step toward her. He grabbed onto the shoulders of her shirt when she lost her balance and fell backward into the water. What she was yelling from the water was now evident because she was screaming.
“LOUIS! LOUIS MCGROGEN! SAVE ME! PLEASE, YOU KNOW I CAN’T SWIM! NO! LOREWIS! PLEREASE! HERLP ME!” Her head dipped below the surface. Donny stood up and sprinted to the railing where the woman was drowning. Louis saw him coming and sprinted away toward the bus station. Donny didn’t even care about where McGrogen was going. He jumped over the railing and dived right into Village Lake. He grabbed the woman’s shirt and hoisted her above water but she began to try to climb on top of him.
“MA’AM, IF YOU WANT ME TO STORP, YOU NEED TO STOP TRYERING TO GET ON TOP OF ME. I ERM NOT A FLOATATION DEVICE!” he yelled. Suddenly, both Donny and the woman disappeared below the surface. Candy ran over to the railing and watched as the last trail of bubbles popped on the surface of Village Lake.
Candy looked around and started screaming.
“HELP! SOMEONE’S DROWNING! HELP US!” No one was coming. There were a few people around that looked as if Candy had been drinking or doing drugs or hallucinating. Finally, someone ran up. It was obviously a fox.
“What’s wrong?” he asked calmly with a hint of panic in his voice.
“My boyfriend went in there to save a drowning woman and she pulled him under!” Candy explained hysterically. Suddenly, Candy noticed a figure crawling ashore a few feet away in front of the Lego dragon exhibit. It was Donny. She ran over and helped him pull the unconscious mystery woman out of the water. Once the two were on dry land, Donny collapsed onto the land and passed out. The fox helped Candy roll Donny and the woman onto their backs as he called for help on his cell phone. Candy saw that Donny was breathing, he was just unconscious from the lack of oxygen and was physically exhausted from the underwater fight. The woman, however, was not breathing. Candy ran over to her and began giving her mouth-to-mouth. After a few minutes, the woman coughed up water and began breathing again. She was still unconscious, though.
Candy dug into the purse that the woman had dropped on the ground before she fell into the water and pulled out her ID. The ID indicated that the woman was forty-two years old and lived in the state of New Jersey. The woman’s name was Yensid McGrogen. Below Yensid’s name, it said that she was an immigrant from...
“Hey!” the fox yelled, turning around to find Candy going through the victim’s things.
“Um...” stuttered Candy coming up with the right words. “I was trying to find out what her name was. I found it. It is Yensid McGrogen.”
“Alright,” said the fox as Donny started coming to.
The ambulance was pulling up and they hoisted Yensid into the back. Donny insisted he was okay and the ambulance rushed the woman to the hospital. The fox took Donny’s name and phone number and followed the ambulance to the hospital.
Once the area was cleared of observers and the emergency personnel, Candy turned to Donny.
“That woman was Yensid McGrogen, Winkler’s real wife,” she explained. “What business did Winkler have with Yensid that required the two to meet?”
“Well, let’s think. Yensid could have wanted her daughter back or maybe Winkler intended on killing his wife because she knew too much but didn’t succeed.” Donny thought out loud.
“Maybe,” Candy agreed. As the couple began walking toward the bus stop they were dropped off at, Donny wrung out his shirt. Water seemed to gush out of it.
“Did Winkler appear to recognize us?” he asked.
“I don’t think so. He ran away as you jumped into the water,” Candy responded.
Arriving at the bus stop, the couple sat down and waited for the vehicle that would take them back to their hotel. Donny was shivering uncontrollably so Candy put her arm around him in an effort to warm him up. When the bus for Coronado Springs arrived, the couple saw that the same driver that dropped them off was driving the bus that picked them up. He gave them frightened looks.
“Don’t ask,” Donny mumbled to him. He nodded and closed the bus doors. Sitting down in the back, the two didn’t speak the rest of the way back to Coronado Springs. In fact, Donny leaned his head on Candy’s shoulder and fell asleep.
As the door closed behind the newly made up Candy and Donny, the four detectives sighed and flopped either onto a bed or into a chair.
“Well,” said Smiley, checking his watch. “It’s almost ten o’ clock. We need to go home. Cap, I suggest you get a good sleep tonight. We’ll be here to pick you up and bring you to Wardrobe at seven o’ clock tomorrow morning.”
“I’ll be ready,” promised Cap. The four detectives exchanged goodnights and handshakes and the two foxes left. Cap didn’t even bother taking off his clothes. He just walked over to his cot and laid down. Pulling his sheets over him, Sean’s uncle closed his eyes and rolled over.
“Cap,” said Sean, hobbling over to sit on the bed closest to the cot. Cap rolled over enough to look over his shoulder.
“Kara told me that they are leaving in exactly two days,” Sean informed. Cap’s brow furrowed.
“Well then, you better get cracking on this case,” said the older gentleman. He once again rolled over, leaving Sean sitting on the bed.
“I’m going for a roll in my wheelchair around Lago Dorado, Cap,” Sean said. Cap responded with a snore. Hobbling over to and opening the door, he put the wheelchair in between the door and the doorjam. He made sure a room key was in his pocket and sat down in the wheelchair. Wheeling himself over to the elevator, Sean pushed the button that would open the doors. He wheeled himself into the elevator and pushed the ground floor button. The doors closed and the elevator started its short descent.
The doors opened and Sean wheeled himself out into the hallway. He crossed the bridge and passed through the doors into El Centro. Turning left at the central fountain, Sean wheeled himself past Panchito’s, past the Jumping Beans arcade and turned left into Fransisco’s, a bar/lounge area complete with a bar, tables, televisions, and comfy sitting areas. As with the rest of the resort, Fransisco’s was decorated to resemble a part of Mexico. At the entrance of the lounge was a small wall fountain. There were windows that had candles in them that would flicker every once in a while as well.
Sean wheeled himself to one of the tables near a television and replaced a chair that was there already with his wheelchair. Pulling a pack of cards out of his pocket, Sean began to play solitaire with himself. The man behind the bar noticed Sean.
“Would you like something to eat or drink?” he asked in a Mexican accent. The bartender had nicely combed black hair with a moustache, tan skin, and dark eyes. He was wearing a nice vest and a white button up shirt.
“Uh, what do you have?” asked Sean.
“We have soda, tea, coffee, cappuccino, milk, water for our drinks,” the man listed.
“Do you have flavored cappuccino?” Sean asked.
“Yes, we have french vanilla and double mocha,” the bartender answered.
“How about double mocha?” Sean asked. The man began making Sean’s cappuccino and whistling. Sean looked around to find that the only other people in the lounge other than him and the bartender was a couple. The man had glasses and black hair. He had a goatee and was holding his girlfriends hand who was sitting across the table from him. His girlfriend had long brown hair and had a beret resting on her head. The guy was whispering beatnik poetry to the woman sitting across the table from him. Sean smiled and put the cards away. Pulling out a book he had been wanting to read about an astronautic hero named Joe Astro, Sean opened to the first page and began reading. The bartender brought his cappuccino and the bill.
Sean took a sip from his drink and was pleased with the great taste. He took another sip and started at chapter one.
~ ~ ~
Opening my eyes, I found myself in a normal looking bedroom that seemed very familiar. I lifted my head off the ground and felt pain throb in my temples.
“Where am I?” I asked aloud to noone in particular. Suddenly, a door in a corner of the room opened and a creature whose body was a giant eyeball walked in.
“You are on the prison moon of Jupiter, Europa, Mr. Astro,” the giant eyeball said. I gasped. Only the worst of criminals ended up on Europa. ‘Why am I here?’ I asked myself.
I was suddenly overcome with thoughts that overcame me like a wave from an ocean. I remembered hearing the order from the President of the United States. I remembered being in my plane when she gave the news of the United States being attacked with nuclear weapons by Russia and Japan. I remembered hearing the order given to me and my colleagues to go around the planet Earth in our bombers and destroy all life on Earth using the nuclear weapons. We did as was instructed and landed our planes on the surface. I could hear my partners and friends that were pilots crying out as their skin melted from the radiation. I was the chosen one who was to make it to the Mars colony to tell the residents of Earth’s demise. I blasted out of what was left of Earth’s atmosphere and headed to Mars.
Looking out of the viewscreen, a large Union of the Galaxy ship loomed ahead. This ship was what I was to board to make the great journey to the Mars colony short. I watched in horror as a Confederate of the Galaxy ship zoomed in and blew the UG ship to pieces. The CG ship shot out a tractor beam and sucked me into the hanger bay, closing the blast doors behind me as my ship entered the much larger ship.
I looked around my ship in the hangar to find Venusians running toward it carrying bullaser guns, a combination of bullets and lasers that always killed their victim. Anchors popped out of the floor of the hangar and strapped themselves around the landing gear of the ship so it wouldn’t go anywhere. The two hundred Venusians lined up in front of my ship leaving a walkway for him to walk through. I knew this wouldn’t end up good. The Venusian Captain, who was closest to the ship called out to me.
“Joe Astro from planet Earth, please exit your spacecraft immediately. Keep your hands where we can see them.” I did as I was told and walked down the gangplank into the hangar bay. Standing at the end of the path the Venusians had made between the two groups, I waited for him to show. Finally, after four minutes, a figure strolled to the beginning of the walkway between the Venusian soldiers.
The figure was decked out in clothing that said evil from two parsecs away. He was dressed from head to foot in black with the clothing covered in spikes. Pushing his cloak around to his back so his hands were free, he revealed the sole reason his name was Spike; he had fingernails that were like talons. They were five inches long and as sharp as a freshly sharpened sword.
“Hello, Joe Astro,” he called as he walked down the walkway. “Won’t you join me?” He waved me towards him and I did as was instructed. When I arrived next to him, he turned around and headed back the way he came.
“I want you all to stay here and guard the ship. We wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to it while Joe is gone,” he said as the door in front of us opened. Stepping through it, he turned around and waved to his soldiers.
“Bye, now,” he said evilly. The next thing he did will haunt my nightmares forever. He closed the door and pushed a button beside it, sealing the door. He then pushed another button, opening the blast doors. The Venusians were sucked out of the hangar and into space, choking for air. Spike grinned and laughed evilly to himself. He waved a soldier in the room toward us. The Venusian soldier came forward.
“Yes, sir?” he asked. Spike said nothing but simply pointed at me. “Shall I kill him?”
“No, I want Joe Astro to suffer,” Spike said, simply. The soldier took out an object that resembled a key chain flashlight and pointed it at me. When the soldier pressed the button, everything got dark and my ability to move disappeared.
~ ~ ~
Taking another sip of his cappuccino, something on the television in Fransisco’s Lounge caught Sean’s attention. He checked his watch. The time was close to midnight. A breaking news story was taking place in Downtown Disney. Sean closed his book, making sure to save his place using his Psalm 139 bookmark. Looking up at the television set with interest, he asked the bartender to turn it up so he could hear it. The bartender pulled the remote from under the bar and joined Sean at the table. The news scene was shown with an anchor in the center.
“So Kristin, what exactly is going on in Downtown Disney at this hour?” came a voice from off screen.
“Well, Rick and Sue, it seems that there was a scuffle here about five minutes ago. A man and a woman were walking through this area and stopped next to the water. They had a disagreement and the man hit the woman, who fell into the water. The woman couldn’t swim and the man left her.
“Apparently, a man nearby ran and dove into the water to save the woman but the woman pulled him underwater. According to witnesses, the man’s girlfriend was yelling for help but noone came running to help. Finally, a man came and called for help. The woman’s savior survived and refused to go to the hospital. The woman, however was rushed to the hospital. This just in,” Kristin said, pressing her index finger into the earpiece in her ear. “The woman died on the way to the hospital from loss of oxygen to the brain. The woman was a tourist in Walt Disney World, forty-two year old Yensid McGrogen from New Jersey. (At this, Sean gasped. ‘Could this be Kara’s real mother?) The woman’s two saviors left the scene before police were able to question them. Rick and Sue, this is the second murder on Disney property in about a week. Do we have a homicidal man running around? Will Walt Disney World remain the happiest place on Earth for much longer? Kristin Macholin, Channel 9 news.”
“Gosh,” said the bartender. “Something strange is going on here. Someone should investigate the strange happenings.” Sean forced a smile.
“I’m sure someone out there is getting pretty close to cracking the case,” Sean replied.
“They’re taking long enough,” the bartender said, walking back over to his usual post.
“Well, I’m going to my room, now. Here is what I owe you for my bill,” said Sean, placing money on the table top. Wheeling himself out of the lounge, he entered the lobby to find people still wandering around the building. Panchito’s was closed as was Jumping Beans. He pushed himself outside and sat next to the bus stop, waiting for his best friend and his girlfriend to arrive home. About ten minutes later, a bus arrived at the hotel. Stepping out of the bus was a still nicely made-up Candy and a soaking wet, messy faced Donny.
“What happened to you?” asked Sean.
“I went for a little swim in the Village Lake in Downtown Disney,” answered Donny sarcastically.
“Really? Mrs. Yensid McGrogen just died from lack of oxygen there about twenty minutes ago,” Sean said, not quite processing what Donny had said.
“What?” said Donny, shocked. Both Donny and Candy stopped and sat down at the bus stop. The bus drove away. Candy burst into tears. Donny just shook his head in
“Was that you that tried saving her?” Sean asked.
“Yes,” Donny snapped angrily.
After a few minutes, Donny said to Candy, “I’ll walk you to your car.” He returned ten minutes later to the bus stop Sean was waiting at and pushed him up to their room. Sean didn’t want to tell him another piece of negative news but he knew he had to.
“Donny,” Sean began, hesitantly.
“Yeah?” Donny snapped once again.
“Um, Kara told me that uh, they are leaving in two days.”
“Great,” Donny said. “Not only did I fail at saving someone’s life, we also are pressed for time in solving this case. No sleep tonight, Sean my friend. We have to stay up all night and crack this case.”
“Alright,” said Sean. “Should we wake up Cap?”
“Good idea, little buddy,” Donny complemented as they arrived at room 9503. Sliding their room key into the lock, they waited for the beep and the flashing light and walked into their room. Donny flicked on the light to reveal Cap laying on his cot, sucking his thumb.
“Does he always do that?” Donny laughed.
“He made me promise not to tell anyone,” Sean responded, giggling.
Donny walked over to the cot and started shaking Cap’s shoulder.
“Wake up, Merle,” Donny said in a quiet voice as Sean wheeled himself in and closed the door behind him.
“He won’t wake up,” commented Sean. Donny started poking Cap on the forehead. When that didn’t work, he started tickling Cap. When that didn’t work, Sean said once again, “That won’t wake him up.”
“What will?” asked Donny.
“Give me your cell phone,” said Sean, holding out his hand. Donny unhooked it from his belt and gave it to Sean. Sean dialed a number and the hotel room’s phone rang. Cap jumped awake and fell out of his cot.
“Wha?” he asked, groggily.
“Rise and shine, sleepy head,” said Donny, helping the older man up off the floor.
“What time is it?” Cap asked. Sean glanced at the display on the cell phone.
“Almost one o’ clock in the morning,” he responded.
“What are you doing waking me up, then?” he asked.
“We need to finish this case. We are running out of time. According to Sean, the Winklers have two full days here,” Donny explained.
“One thing before we start, then,” said Cap. “I need coffee or I am going to be very grumpy and stressed.”
Sean stood up out of his wheelchair and got onto his crutches. Hobbling over to the bathroom nook where the coffee maker was located, he put the required amount of water in the pot and poured the coffee grinds into the machine and started the process.
Donny folded up Sean’s wheelchair and put it behind the hanging shirts in the closet nook to get it out of the way. Sean hopped himself on his crutches back over to his bed and sat down on the end while Donny opened the miniature refrigerator next to the television and pulled out two cans of Coke; one for him and one for Sean. Once Sean was sitting on his bed, Donny handed him his soda and sat down in a chair at the table.
“Alright, boys. Tell me, why are we working on the case at one-thirty in the morning?” asked Cap.
“We have a lot to do with a deadline,” said Donny.
“What do you mean?” the elderly gentleman asked.
“Kara told me today that they are leaving exactly two days from today,” Sean explained.
“That’s right! Well, let’s cracking,” Cap said enthusiastically. “We have six and to work. Winklers wake up at seven-thirty. Your job for the day is to spend all day with Kara and get any info out of her as possible. Smiley and Jolly will be picking me up at seven.”
“Let’s review the facts,” said Donny opening his pocket notebook. Cap sat back in his chair. Sean took out his writing notebook and pulled a piece of paper out to take notes and observations on.
“Alright,” began Donny. “Before we start, who do we count as suspects?”
“Shaggy and Mr. Winkler,” Sean winced.
“Just think, Sean. If we crack this case and Mr. Winkler ends up being the perp, you could save Kara’s life,” Cap explained.
“Evidence for Mr. Winkler,” Sean said, writing ‘Lucas Winkler/Louis McGrogen’ on the piece of lined paper and underlining it.
“Number one: he kidnaped his daughter and Ms. Leotta. He also bought fake Ids for all three of them,” read Donny as Sean wrote on his notesheet.
“Number two: Kara seemed to get a hold of McGrogen’s business card easily as if there were many in the room. Usually if the card doesn’t have your name on it, you only have one. Kara said that McGrogen was her father’s friend but according to you, she seemed hesitant to explain to you who Louis McGrogen was.
“Number three: Winkler called his own daughter by the wrong name. How can you call your own daughter by the wrong name?
“Number four: according to Kerkstram, the suspect has the same features as Winkler.
“Number five: Winkler said he would be on his run for much of the afternoon, yet only five minutes after you came inside, he was coming back to his room. Also, he ran into you, knocking you over.”
“So? Maybe he forgot something. And I don’t think he ran into me on purpose,” said Sean.
“I think he was eavesdropping,” Donny commented.
“I don’t,” said Sean.
“Boys! Can we please get along? We don’t have much time,” said Cap, pouring himself a cup of coffee. Sean sighed.
“I’m sorry, Donny. You are right. I’m just stressed,” apologized Sean.
“That’s okay, Sean. Let’s solve this so we can really take a vacation,” said Donny. “Number six: you said that Kara told you her parents were divorced yet we see that they are both here, spending time together. Also, I haven’t heard a single shout from next door so we know that they aren’t fighting.
“Number seven: after Candy was kidnaped, she turned up in the Winkler hotel room. She says that a custodian with the name tag ‘Juanita’ kidnaped her then deposited her in a hotel room that just so happened to be the Winkler’s.
“Number eight,” said Sean. Donny gave him a surprised look. “When Kara and I left you guys to go through Pangani Forest Trek, she told me she was abused by someone when she was older with a baseball bat. I have reason to believe the ‘someone’ was her father. I don’t know if this has to do with the case but if this is true, it shows that he abuses his daughter. If he abuses his daughter, he obviously doesn’t care if he kills a few people.”
“Number nine: did you see how good Mr. Winkler was at the Frontierland Shooting Arcade? He played like three times and hit every target many times without missing once. He could very easily have been the shooter.
“Number ten: at 8TRAX, Mr. Winkler responded to Louis McGrogen when he was paged over the intercom. Also, Yensid called him Louis, as well. If Winkler is the perp, why did he try to drown his wife? Was he afraid she was going to talk?”
“That’s a good start,” commented Sean. “Next, let’s talk about clues that may point to Shaggy as being the culprit.” Sean wrote ‘Shaggy’ on a separate piece of paper and underlined it.
“Number one,” read Donny out of his pocket notebook. A loud snore erupted from the opposite side of the table from where Cap was sitting. Both boys turned their attention to the older detective to find he was sound asleep.
“Just let him sleep,” said Sean, rubbing his eyes. He glanced at the clock on the bedside stand next to his bed. “Man, Donny. It’s already a little after three AM.”
“Yeah, we’ve been working for a long time. Let’s take a bathroom break and we’ll continue at three-fifteen,” said Donny.
Sean hoisted himself off the bed and onto his crutches and hobbled to the bathroom to empty his bladder. He hobbled back over to his bed to sit down but realized he needed more energy. He took another Diet Coke out of the fridge, making sure to put a Mountain Dew on the table next to Donny’s pocket notebook. Donny walked out of the bathroom with a smile on his face.
“Man, that felt good,” he sighed. Sean sat down on the bed and picked up his notebook and paper. Preparing his pen to write, he nodded to Donny to signify he was ready.
“Is this for Shaggy?” he asked over the loud snoring of Sean’s uncle.
“Yeah,” answered Sean as Donny started flipping through the notes in his notebook.
“Alright,” he began. “Number one: when I was attacked and was pushed over the edge of the banister, you hit the attacker, sending him over the edge and into the plant below. After helping me up, we looked down and noone was there but we did see Shaggy across the courtyard.
“Number two: Shaggy was sitting right behind the bus driver the day the bus went over the edge of the overpass.
“Number three: he was sitting next to Sean on Kali River Rapids and was the one that offered to clip you in. Maybe he was the one that sabotaged the seatbelt.
“Number four: Shaggy has been seen in various other places following us around. That isn’t as many clues as there are for Mr. Winkler (Sean glared at Donny), but that doesn’t mean anything. These are very important clues.” Donny finished.
Donny glanced at his notebook. “Oh, man!”
“What?” asked Sean.
“There is one more category of clues,” Donny began.
“So? What’s wrong with that?” Sean asked.
“The clues involve many people that aren’t Mr. Winkler and Shaggy!”
“What?” asked Sean. “Come again?”
“According to my notes, there is a whole group of people that don’t fall under the Shaggy or Winkler column. This could pose as a problem,” Donny explained.
“Well, let’s make a column for the miscellaneous clues,” Sean suggested.
“Good idea, little buddy,” Cap muttered in his sleep. Donny and Sean burst out laughing.
Sean leaned down closer to the fresh piece of paper he was about to start a list on and wrote ‘Miscellaneous’ and underlined it. “Go ahead,” he said to Donny.
“Number one,” Donny began for the third time. “Someone put pepper on my food that first day here. I don’t know if that was an accident, if someone did it without knowing or if it was on there originally when it was served me, or if someone did pepper my food knowing I was allergic to it.
“Number two: someone chloroformed you and Kara the first night while you guys were at the Carousel of Progress during the E-ride night. You said that the person had thick glasses, very tan skin, and a goatee. Is that correct?”
“Yeah, I believe it is,” answered Sean.
“Alright. Number three: while we were on the Haunted Mansion, the power went out. I don’t know if that was just a freak accident or if someone wanted to come and try to hurt us in the darkness.
“Number four: Juanita claimed that someone that an old man with a cane kidnaped her. What did he want? What were his intentions?
“Number five: Candy said that she was kidnaped by someone that closely resembled the Juanita we met later that night. Was this the old guy that kidnaped Juanita earlier in the day?
“Number six: someone killed Juanita. Did they do this to stop her from talking any more about the two kidnaping incidents or to punish her for talking?
“Number seven: someone named Jason Euchre hired a hitman to kill Donny. Did ‘Jason Euchre’ really hire a hitman or was this guy working on his own and lie about being hired? And where did he get the Coronado Springs uniform?
“Number eight: someone ransacked our room. What were they looking for? Did they just want money? Or were they looking for something else? How did they get into our room? Did they break in or did they steal a room key? Or do they work for the resort?
“Number nine: bullets found in both Barry’s body and Margaretta’s neck are both different. Are there two or more culprits? Someone must have a very large grudge on the Englers,” Donny finished.
“Is that it?” asked Sean.
“Yeah, now the only thing we need to do is force Mr. Winkler to slip-up or meet Shaggy. We need to do it in two days, too,” said Donny, standing up and opening the curtains to see what was going on outside. It was still dark and their was no sign of life stirring outside yet. Sean looked at the clock on the bedside table. The clock read five o’ clock.
“Well, we still have a few hours until things start opening around here. Smiley and Jolly don’t come to pick Cap up until seven. What do you want to do?” Sean asked.
“I wouldn’t mind taking a short nap,” said Donny.
“Me neither. Maybe we should make a battle plan before we do, though,” thought Sean.
“Good idea,” agreed Donny. The two talked for another ten minutes about how to elongate the investigation if it needed to be elongated and were asleep by five-fifteen.
At six-thirty, Sean’s watch alarm went off. Straining to open his eyes from the exhaustion, he saw that Cap was awake, wide eyed and breathing hard in the chair the teens had left him in the night before. He had obviously woken to the alarm.
“Time to get up, Cap. Jolly and Smiley are going to be here in a half hour,” yawned Sean.
Sitting up, Sean turned off his alarm and looked over to his partner. Donny was still asleep. Turning around, Sean picked up one of the pillows off his bed and threw it at his friend. It hit Donny in the face, causing him to groan. Sean lifted another pillow to throw at his friend but Donny put up his hand and grunted, “I’m awake!”
Cap stumbled off into the bathroom and took a quick shower so he could have a sufficient amount of time to get dressed and eat breakfast. He was out of the shower in three minutes, tops. Donny was up and in the shower after Cap was dressed. Sitting down in one of the chairs at the table, Cap bent down to put on his socks. Sean laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Cap asked, sitting up. Sean pointed to the chair opposite the side of the table Cap was sitting at. It was the chair Cap had slept in during the night. Donny looked where Sean was pointing to find a great, big drool spot.
“Was that from me?” Cap asked.
“Yeah,” Sean chuckled.
“I didn’t know I drooled in my sleep,” he commented.
“You snored and talked in your sleep, too,” Sean informed.
“Really? What did I say?” asked Cap, curiously.
“‘Good idea, little buddy’,” Sean laughed.
“Really? I wonder where that came from,” Cap said, stumped.
“I don’t know. Donny and I laughed, though.”
Cap leaned down to the refrigerator and removed a small carton of milk. He set it on the table and grabbed a styrofoam bowl and a box of Fruit Loops. Opening the box, he poured the cereal into the bowl until it was half full. He then opened the milk and poured most of it into the bowl. He dipped his spoon into the cereal and shoved it into his mouth. Suddenly, his face screwed up into a grimace.
“What’s wrong?” asked Sean.
“I accidentally put chocolate milk into my cereal,” said Cap, walking to the trash to throw it away. Donny’s hand shot up into the air and he grunted something almost ununderstandable.
“I’lL hAve it,” Donny’s voice cracked. Cap shrugged and handed it to the young detective who sat up in bed and began ferociously devouring the contents of the bowl. A knock was heard at the door. Cap grabbed a banana from atop of the fridge and a Coke from the fridge and walked out the door.
“Finish this thing, will you?” he asked as he pulled the door shut behind him.
“See you later, Unc!” said Sean, excited for his uncle. Looking at the clock, Sean said to his friend, “It’s seven oh three, Donny.”
Donny looked over to Sean and shaking his head, sloshed all the milk and cereal in his mouth loud enough for Sean to hear.
“Gross!” Sean yelled quietly. “Don’t do that!”
Swallowing the contents of his bowl, Donny shoved another spoonful into his mouth. “Wher aw wre gouringah today?” he asked (translation: Where are we going today?).
“I don’t know. You can call Candy and we’ll hang with the Winklers all day,” Sean said. Donny swallowed the food in his mouth and set the newly empty styrofoam bowl and spoon on the bedside stand. Picking up the phone, he dialed the front desk.
“Hello, front desk,” came a gruff female voice.
“Hi, I was wondering if Candy was in,” Donny said joyfully.
“I’m sorry, but Candy has been transferred to another part of the Walt Disney World resort. May I help you?” the woman on the other side of the phone asked.
Donny felt a lump grow in his throat. “Um, n-no, thanks anyways,” Donny said, grimly.
“What’s wrong?” asked Sean as Donny glumly hung up the phone.
“Candy doesn’t work at this hotel anymore,” Donny commented.
“I’m sorry, Donny,” said Sean. Donny didn’t say anything in return. He just stood up and walked off to the bathroom and closed the door behind him. Sean heard the water of the shower turn on and sat back in his bed. He bent down and pulled his portable CD player out of his backpack, which was next to his bed. Slipping his headphones into his ears, he started the music and began jamming to his favorite Christian rock band, Relient K. Fifteen minutes later, Donny walked out of the bathroom with a towel tied around his waist.
Walking to Sean’s bed, he helped his young friend up onto his feet and steadied him. Sean thanked his friend and hopped to the bathroom. Sitting on the little bench used by handicapped people in the shower, Sean gave himself a sponge bath, carful not to get his cast wet. After he was done, Sean hopped out of the shower and found clean clothes on the toilet. Donny must have put them there, Sean thought. He dressed in silence. I can’t stand silence, Sean thought to himself. He started humming the tune to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.
After he was dressed, Sean hopped out of the bathroom. Donny was laying on his bed, remote in hand, staring at the television. A second look told Sean that Donny was sleeping. The reflection of the television shined on Donny’s eyelids, making them appear open. Looking at the clock, Sean realized the time was close to seven-forty five. Sean sat down on his bed after turning the television off. A whistle was heard from the Winkler’s room. A few seconds later, Sean realized that the whistle was their shower running. The whistling stopped. Five minutes later, it started again. Sean hopped off his bed and grabbed his notes that were taken overnight and read through them, looking for something to tie the clues together. Around eight o’ clock, the whistling of the Winkler’s shower stopped. A few minutes later, the door of the Winkler’s hotel room opened and closed. Sean quickly stood up and hopped to the door. Throwing it open, he yelled quietly down the hall. “Kara!”
The young girl with her parents looked behind her. The trio stopped. “I’ll catch up to you,” Kara said to her parents. Running to Sean, she threw her arms around him. The last thing Lucas Winkler saw was his daughter helping her boyfriend into his hotel room.
“So, how are ya?” Kara whispered casually as she quietly closed the hotel room door behind her.
“Good,” Sean said. Two faces suddenly filled the picture window next to the door. They were the faces of Lucas Winkler and his wife. Kara threw open the door. Looking over her shoulder, she gave Sean the ‘I will be back in a second’ finger.
Making sure the door was closed behind her, she exploded into a fury of anger. “What are you doing?” she yelled angrily.
“Making sure that kid and his friend don’t rape you. They are weird, Kara. I don’t like you hanging around them,” her father said lovingly.
“I don’t think it is fair that you pull us away from Tampa without a reason so suddenly. First, you divorce mom. Then you find this woman and drag her along with us to Disney World? You make me go by a different name. Dad, what is going on? I’m worried about you,” said Luke’s concerned daughter.
“Should I tell her?” Winkler asked to no one in particular.
“No, of course not. Then you would have to kill her,” he said, once again, to himself. Kara got a terrified look on her face.
“You’re crazy!” Kara yelled.
“Kara, my name is not really Emmy. It is Dr. Lyndi Croft. I am really your father’s psychiatrist,” said the woman Kara thought was her father’s girlfriend. Tara took Kara’s hand and Lucas, Lyndi, and Kara sat down against the wall of the hallway.
“Your father is schizophrenic. I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid I was going to spoil the trip for you. It wasn’t your father that divorced your mom, but your mom that divorced your dad. Your dad thinks that the three of us are secret agents on a mission. That is why he has given the three of us false names. He lives in a fantasy world. He has been schizophrenic since his family died in the attack on the World Trade Center on September eleventh. I’ve been meeting with him since grief counseling on the twentieth of September, 2001. When he decided to go on vacation, he asked that I come along but stay in a different hotel room so you didn’t wonder what was going on,” Lyndi explained. Kara leaned past Lyndi and looked at her father.
“I’m sorry, love,” he said. “Me too.”
“Um...I-I’ll meet you at the food court,” Kara’s voice wavered. She stood up and knocked on Donny and Sean’s door. The door opened and Kara walked in. The door closed and both Lucas Winkler and Louis McGrogen saw Kara pull the curtains closed of the hotel room so her father and his nurse couldn’t spy.
When the door closed, Donny awoke with a scare. He sat up and looked around for Sean, thinking his friend had left without him. He saw that Sean was sitting on his bed.
“Have a good nap?” Sean asked, not looking up from his notes.
“Uh...” Donny stuttered, wiping sweat from his forehead. He glanced at the clock, which told him he had been sleeping for a little less than forty-five minutes. “Yeah. Who just left?”
“Kara’s mom and dad wanted to talk to her or something. She’ll be right back,” Sean said.
“I see. Do we know what is going on, today?” Donny asked.
“No,” Sean answered. “It sounds like they are arguing about something outside, though. I hear an awful lot of yelling.”
“Yeah,” said Donny. A few minutes later, an aggravated knock came from the door. Sean hopped off the bed and glanced into the eyehole, finding a crying Kara. Opening the door, his girlfriend gently pushed past him and pulled the curtains of the window closed with a jerk.
“Close the door,” she cried. Sean complied with her order.
Sitting down on Sean’s bed, she buried her face in her hands. Sean sat down next to her. The young detective tossed the pieces of paper with the clues written on them to his friend to study. Sean let his girlfriend cry for a few minutes. He knew from experience that sometimes a good cry is needed before any words are exchanged. Ten minutes passed and Sean took her chin in her hands. Lifting her head gently so he could look into her eyes, Sean asked, “What’s wrong?”
“You know how my name is Kara Winkler?” she cried hysterically. Sean nodded. “Well, it’s not. It’s Becky McGrogen.” Sean tried to act surprised.
“It is?” he asked.
“Yeah. And do you know why?” she asked. Sean shook his head no, his eyes wide with concern. “My father is a psychotic skitzo! He made me call myself Kara Winkler because he thought he was a secret agent in the F.B.I. or something. Well, he isn’t he is just a psychotic loser.” Once again, she buried her face in her hands. Sean put his arms around her and looked at Donny who was taking notes in his notebook. Making eye contact with his partner, Sean noticed that Donny looked as surprised at this interesting development as he was. Becky pushed herself out of Sean’s arms after half a minute and looked into his eyes.
“I’m sorry for lying to you,” she said. “I don’t know why I faked my name. It was stupid anyway.” Becky gave a soft chuckle. “Yeah, it was stupid,” she said softly. Donny walked up to her and handed her a tissue. She grabbed a tissue and caught him in a big hug, as well. Donny gave her a hug in a friendly way. She let go of Donny and blew her nose. She stood up and walked to the bathroom nook and turned on the faucet. Looking at herself in the mirror, Becky laughed at the face that stared back at her. “Ha, I look like a wreck,” she giggled. She cupped cold water in her hands and splashed it in her face to clean off the dripping make-up and make it appear she had not been crying for twenty minutes. She took a deep breath and grabbed a tissue. She blew her nose and walked over to Sean’s bed, sitting next to him.
“Gosh, I’m so stupid!” Becky yelled. “Tomorrow is my last day seeing you and I tell you my real name today! You know that woman he’s with, my mom, Emmy Winkler? Well it turns out she is his psychiatrist that went on vacation undercover with us in Tampa. I thought she was just some woman he met while we were there. But I thought it was strange being as he is having an online affair with some woman from Tennessee. That’s why my parents split, because dad was going out with this Rachel Gramburg from Tennessee.” Sean put his arm around her. He decided to change the subject.
“So, uh, what are we doing today?” he asked.
Becky shrugged. “Let’s go to a water park,” she suggested, sniffing.
“What ones are there?” Sean asked. Donny stood up and grabbed the water park brochure off the bureau. He opened it and flipped through the pages.
“Well,” he began. “There’s Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon.”
“Is there a description?” Becky asked.
“Blizzard Beach: ‘What do you do when a freak snowstorm hits Florida? Build a ski resort, of course. But as our lift went up, so did the temperature, leaving some of the world’s fastest, longest, slushing, gushing, downhill thrills.’ It looks pretty cool. It has a sixty-mile-per-hour water slide, some tube slides, and a wave pool,” Donny commented.
“What about Typhoon Lagoon?” Sean asked.
“Looks like an older water park,” Donny said. “‘Boats were tossed and palms were bent. And when the storm of storms finally blew out to sea, it left behind this topsy-turvy tropical playground. A paradise for snorkeling, sliding, and bodysurfing.’ That looks cool, too. It has a humongous lazy river and a very big wave pool, as well as tube rides and a shark snorkeling reef.”
“I think Stanley told me that Typhoon Lagoon has sandy beaches,” stated Sean.
“That’s cool,” said Becky.
“Let’s take a vote,” said Donny. “All those in favor of going to Typhoon Lagoon, raise your hands.” Donny raised his hand to demonstrate. No one else raised their hands.
“Blizzard Beach?” All three hands were in the air. “It’s settled, then. Blizzard Beach it is.”
“I’m going to go get my bathing suit on,” Becky said.
“We’ll be here,” Sean said. Becky walked out the door and into her room to get dressed. Sean hobbled over to the bureau. He grabbed a bathing suit and put it on; Donny did likewise.
“Wait a minute,” Donny said, looking at Sean. “How are you going to swim? You can’t get your cast wet.
“I don’t mind sitting and watching. It’s not like we’re going to be there all day, anyways. I’ll just make sure to bring a book along for something to do,” Sean said. A moment later, a knock was heard at the door. Sean hobbled over to it and opened it. Standing outside was Becky. She was wearing a short skirt and sleeveless tank-top. She was carrying a beach bag covered in a floral pattern. She had sunglasses on and flip-flops on her feet.
“Ready?” she asked.
“Let’s go,” said Donny grabbing his sunglasses off the bureau. Sean grabbed the sunglasses that clipped to his normal glasses and hopped into his wheelchair. Becky pushed Sean out of the hotel room and Donny pulled the door closed behind them. Sean threw his book and watch into Becky’s beach bag and opened a tube of suntan lotion. He squirted a glob into his hand and smeared it onto his nose. Becky laughed. Donny sprinted ahead and caught the elevator before the door closed. Once they arrived at the ground floor, they crossed the bridge and stopped at the bus stop. As Becky pushed him towards the bus stop, Sean noticed something on the roof of the bus stop. A sign that hung down from the ceiling read ‘BUS STOP.’ Above the words, there was a picture of a bus. Seen in the windows of the bus were five people. The middle silhouette was none other than Mickey Mouse, himself. Sean pointed this out to his friends. The group waited fifteen minutes for the bus that would take them to the winter-based water park. Once on the bus, Becky pulled a cell phone from her beach bag and called her dad.
“Hi, daddy. The boys and I are going to Blizzard Beach. No, you don’t need to come. Alright, I’ll be home by midnight. I love you too, daddy. Say hi to Lyndi for me. Bye.”
“What time is it?” asked Sean. Becky looked at the face of her cell phone.
“Nine-thirty,” his girlfriend responded. Sean nodded. About ten minutes later, the group arrived at the water park. The trio were relieved to find that they had the kind of tickets required to have admission to the water park. Walking into the park, the group found a large ski lodge turned into clothing store. Coming around the corner from behind a tall brown building, the group saw an amazing sight. Towering above them was Summit Plummet, America’s fastest water slide. Summit Plummet appeared to be a very tall ski jump. Every once in a while, someone would shoot down the hill and disappear. The only indication someone had been on that water slide was whenever they disappeared, a spray of water would shoot off the end of the jump.
“Whoa!” Sean and Donny said together, in awe. Becky just smiled.
“Let’s go,” she said. She pushed Sean through the crowds and into the major part of the water park. The group crossed a bridge that was over Cross Country Creek, the lazy river and past the lazy river to a less busy part of the water park. They found three chairs by the wave pool in the area nearest to the Downhill Double Dipper, a tube slide where two guests race through a tunnel and down two short hills. Donny helped Sean out of his wheelchair and into a beach chair.
“Sean,” Becky said pulling off her sleeveless tank-top and skirt. “We’re going to go swimming and go on some slides. We’ll check up with you about every hour. We can get some lunch about one. Alright?”
“Sure,” Sean said, pulling his copy of The Adventures of Joe Astro from Candy’s beach bag.
“Love you,” she said to her boyfriend.
“Love you, too,” Sean responded opening to where he left off.
“See you, man!” said Donny.
“Adios,” Sean mumbled. He looked up from his book to watch his two friends walk away, gazing in wonder at the gigantic water slides. Looking down at his book, he folded the pages he already read behind the back cover.
~ ~ ~
When I woke up, I found I was suspended in midair. Looking around me, I found that what was keeping me in the air was two tractor beams. I found I had an itch on my nose. I reached up to itch it when I noticed...I couldn’t move any part of my body except my head. I looked ahead to find someone standing in the archway ahead. It was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was wearing a tight flight suit that hugged her figure. She had blond hair that reached down to her shoulder blades and deep brown eyes. If she were from Earth, I would have guessed she was Native American.
“Need some help?” she asked in a sarcastic tone.
“It would be nice,” I said in a strained voice.
The girl walked over to the control panel that housed the dials and buttons that controlled the double tractor beams and pressed a few buttons. A low whine was heard and I dropped to the ground. She ran to me and helped me up, making sure to steady me so I didn’t fall down. My legs were weak; I didn’t know how long it had been since I was put into the double tractor beams. After I got control of my legs back, she let go and stepped back.
“You’re Joe Astro, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I answered. She stuck her hand out for me to shake.
“Lusie Burgra,” she said.
“Aren’t you a smuggler?” I asked.
“Do you know any other Lusie Burgra?” she asked.
“I didn’t think so,” she interrupted.
She went behind me to undo the metal binds that held my hands. When she came back in front of me, I saw an old woman holding the keys.
“You-you’re a Shafter?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said, changing into a perfect copy of Spike. “You like?” she asked.
“Yeah. What’s your original form?” She shifted back into the young woman I first saw with the tight flight suit.
“You know, I was in prison here, too,” Lusie said, leading me out of the tractor beam prison.
“How did you get out?” I asked.
“I shifted into Spike and the dim-wits let me out,” she laughed.
“I see,” I responded.
She changed her form into that of the frog-looking alien species, Rybert, which was the species Spike used on his ship to take care of the prisoners.
“Pretend I am a Rybert so that we can get out of here,” she screeched.
“Alright,” I answered. Stepping into the corridor in front of us was none other than Spike himself.
~ ~ ~
Sean looked put his bookmark in his book to keep his spot and set the book on the ground next to his beach chair and lifted his head to watch people swimming in Melt Away Bay, the wave pool. Every once in a while, he would get a whiff of burgers and fries. The sun was blazing hot. Sean’s throat was dry. He took his watch out of Becky’s beach bag and looked at the face. It read ten thirty-five. Sweat formed on his brow and started trickling down his face. It has to be close to ninety degrees out here, he thought. Some young adults were coming his way. As one of the guys walked by, Sean got his attention.
“Um, excuse me, sir?” he said. The guy stopped, turned, and looked down at Sean.
“Yeah?” he asked. The young man had a red bathing suit on. He was with three other college-aged kids; a kid with a blue and yellow striped swim suit and two girls in tight bikinis.
“Would you mind getting me a souvenir cup of Diet Coke? I’ll pay you back when you return and I’ll also offer a tip,” Sean asked.
“Really? Sure!” the kid agreed. “What did you want?”
“A souvenir cup of Diet Coke,” said Sean.
“Alright,” the kid said. “Come on, gang!” Him and his friends walked away towards a restaurant shack to get Sean his drink, leaving Sean, once again, alone.
“SEAN!” the yell came out of nowhere. It came again. “SEAN!” He looked around but could not find the source of the yelling. He heard it again. “SEAN! UP HERE!” It was coming from his left. He looked and didn’t see anything. Looking up, he saw Becky and Donny on the Downhill Double Dipper, the racing tube slide. They waved at him and disappeared. Suddenly, he saw two tubes shoot out of the tunnels and down the two hills. The tubes splashed into the landing pool and skipped to a halt. A dripping wet Donny and Becky climbed out of the pool, laughing their heads off. They turned around to look at the times to see who had won. Becky’s arms shot up in the air and she yelped. Donny laughed and gave her a playful shove. The two walked out of the exit and deposited their tubes on the conveyor belt that would carry them up to the top for other sliders to use.
Candy brushed her hair out of her face and around her ears. Sean smiled sadly then looked angrily down at his leg covered with the cast. “If it wasn’t for you,” he said. “I that would have been me on the water slide with Becky.” His two friends came running up to Sean.
“Hey, man!” Donny said, breathlessly.
“Hey, my cute cripple,” Becky said lovingly.
They both grabbed a towel and sat down on a beach chair on either side of Sean. The college kid came back with Sean’s drink.
“Hey, thanks man!” said Sean, taking his wallet out of Becky’s beach bag as the kid handed Donny the souvenir cup and the receipt.
Sean glanced at the receipt and handed the kid a ten dollar bill, which covered the price of the drink and a small tip.
“Thanks again!” Sean said as the kid and his friends walked away. Sean took a greedy sip of his pop. “Hey! This is Coke, not Diet Coke!”
Sean’s friends laughed.
“So, what did you guys do?” asked Sean.
“Let’s see,” began Donny. “We went on the Snow Stormers, which is a toboggan race, we went on Downhill Double Dipper just now...”
“I won by the way,” Becky interrupted.
“You got a head start,” laughed Donny.
“DID NOT!” she yelled. The three broke out into hysterical laughter.
“We also went on Runoff Rapids, which are tube slides,” finished Donny.
“I’m bored. Do you think I can go on the lazy river without getting my cast wet?” Sean asked.
“We can try,” commented Becky. Donny helped Sean up and the young detective’s two friends helped him to the entrance of Cross Country Creek, the half mile long lazy river. Once there, Donny caught three inner tubes that were floating by. He picked Sean up and set him on the tube, making sure his cast wasn’t touching the water. He looked over to see Becky hop on her own tube and grabbed onto her boyfriend’s. Donny hopped onto his tube and grabbed onto Sean’s as well. Then they were off! Well, they were off lazily, anyways. The tubes floated past buildings covered in melting snow and into a dark cavern. Inside the cavern, Sean spotted holes in the ceiling. Pouring out of the holes was the coldest water Sean had ever felt. It was so cold, it actually felt like freshly melted snow. The tubes floated out of the cavern and towards the front of the park. Suddenly, Donny felt water shoot on his back. Looking behind him, he saw three boys about nine years old squirting mounted water cannons at the passing tubers. Eventually, the tubes passed the children and floated under a bridge. They emerged with a island cabin standing in front of them. They heard a voice inside the cabin sneeze. Out of the chimney came sprays of water that rained down upon the tubers. Soon after that, the three friends came upon the place they got on. Donny hopped out of his tube and pulled Becky and Sean out of the mainstream of the lazy river and to the stairs. When they arrived, Becky hopped out and helped Donny hoist Sean onto dry land. The two helped Sean to a restaurant and to a picnic table.
“What do you want to eat?” Donny asked Sean, taking his wallet out of his back pocket, letting it drip dry.
“How about a burger and fries?” Sean asked.
“That sounds good,” said Donny as him and Becky got in line.
Sean smiled at his friends. Looking down at his watch, he realized it was a little after noon. He wondered how Cap was doing...
Driving into the parking lot of the Magic Kingdom cast member parking lot, which gave the three access to the wardrobe department, which was located in the Magic Kingdom Utilidors. The wardrobe department supplied costumes for all the Disney World employees, Smiley explained to Cap.
“What we need you to do, Cap,” began Smiley “is to try investigating where this Jason Euchre is getting the costumes. We’ll come pick you up to bring you to lunch at noon.” Smiley pulled his car into the parking lot and took off his seatbelt. He pulled the keys out of the ignition and stepped out of the car. Jolly got out of the backseat as Cap opened his own door. They started walking toward the entrance to the Utilidors, when Cap remembered he accidentally left his cell phone in the car. He told Smiley, who unlocked his car using the lock remote.
Cap let a car pass and jogged to Smiley’s car. Opening the door, he reached into the front seat and grabbed his phone. He clipped the cell phone to his belt and crossed the road. A black Sedan was approximately fifty feet away. As Cap crossed the road, the car accelerated. Cap looked up to see the car speeding toward him. He ran across the road, only to find that the car moved with him, in an effort to hit him. He was still one hundred feet from the building’s sidewalk entrance. He relied on one last burst of speed to get himself across the ground but suddenly got a cramp in his left leg. Collapsing to the ground, he waited for the squish that was about to follow.