The Happiest Place on Earth
I walked into the doorway in the labyrinth and came out right in the middle of Tomorrowland, or at least I think that’s what it was. It sure looked futuristic enough to be the land of tomorrow. Everything looked peaceful enough and it was hard to think that a bomb would be placed anywhere in this park. Not to mention the place was huge to the point it could have been anywhere…like on Space Mountain.
“I should really check all possible places where the bomb could be,” I told myself. “A completely dark rollercoaster near the middle of the park would be a great place to hide something.”
I instantly hopped in line and thankfully, it was surprising short as I simply walked right up to the front car. It wasn’t that there wasn’t anyone here, but Disney had set up a time stamp system where you could pick up a ticket and show up at a certain time to cut down your wait time. I had arrived right in between two time slots so the wait was small. I hopped in the car and the familiar voice you hear at all parks started telling me to keep my arms and legs inside the car. The car moved along the track and I kept my eyes peeled, until I saw the ceiling which was displaying stars, asteroids, and planets. I was so mesmerized that I didn’t even notice I was reaching the top of the hill. I heard the click of the track go silent and I felt the nose of the car point downward. I raised my hands in the air and shouted in excitement as we really got moving. Because it was completely dark, except for the light up roof and the glow in the dark rail cars also spinning around the room, I didn’t see the twists and turns that the rail car took me to.
“That was awesome,” I said as I got out of the rail car into some kind of gift shop and arcade combo. There were movie posters lining the wall and I looked around real quick to make sure the bomb wasn’t here. “It was pretty dark in there, I should take another look.”
As I got out of my rail car for a second time, I felt for sure that the bomb wasn’t on that ride, but the Magic Kingdom had a whole bunch of rides that I hadn’t checked yet. I used a tiny bit of my super speed to run around the park and collect tickets for certain times on the rides. It was still early so the park hadn’t become a highway during rush hour traffic, meaning that there weren’t a lot of people.
“Ok, so I have a to get over to the Haunted Mansion in ten minutes, which will give me just enough time to visit the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. And thankfully there are no lines yet. Elysium and the Magic Kingdom all in one day, I think this could be my lucky day,” I said to myself. Then a chill ran up my spine as smoke seemed to flow out from behind me.
“Yes, you have had a lucky day today haven’t you,” came the stern voice of a woman and within a second I was completely covered in a layer of fog. I turned around and came face to face with a woman. She had dark skin and wore a red leather jacket. She had brown, somewhat curly short hair that lied just above her shoulder. Behind her was a motorcycle that seemed to be giving off the weird smoke which I figured was Mist to shield us from wondering eyes.
“You know they don’t allow smoking in Disney World,” I told he and she just made a small smile, somewhat mocking in fact.
“Keep making jokes son of Hermes while you can, but you won't be making jokes for long,” she said in that same eerie tone.
“Um…I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m Nolan Swift,” I told her, trying to introduce myself and offered my hand in greeting.
“Oh there will be none of that. I am Nemesis, the goddess of balance,” she said. I was nervous as I have heard stories about the goddess, few of them good. “Fortuna I think has smiled upon you. In the course of a day, you have visited the realm of Elysium in the Underworld, escaped completely unharmed…”
“We lost Jared,” I interrupted, but regretted it instantly after she shot me an evil look.
“Yes, but your group didn’t see him as being very valuable, did they?” She asked with a raised eyebrow. “Regardless, you escaped unharmed and now you are in one of the happiest places on earth. Not to mention your other feats over the years. Bringing your love back from the Underworld, stopping a god that threatened to destroy Olympus, and a beautiful family waiting for you at home.”
“Leave my family out of this,” I said in a serious tone. I didn’t get mad or serious often, but during this mission I had gotten mad twice in only a few days, which was unlike me.
“They are not my concern,” Nemesis said. “However I feel a correction must be made!”
She reached inside her coat and I was afraid she was going to draw some kind of weapon. I instinctively reached for Road Maker around my neck and it morphed into its’ full form, that of a large sledge hammer. Nemesis on the other hand pulled out a scale and held it up in front of her.
“Time to be judged,” she said and the scales began to move. Despite being a minor goddess, I was sure she could still kick my butt if she really wanted. I tried to run away or do something, but I seemed to be frozen in place. I was forced to watch as the two scales moved back and forth until they finally stopped, with the right scale being higher than the left, but not by a whole lot. “As I thought, corrections must be made.”
Just then the scale balanced itself out and dark smoke spewed from the lower scale. It seemed to envelope my body and I was powerless to move. The black smoke covered my entire body and then went into my mouth and nostrils and just like that it was gone.
“What…what did you just do to me?” I asked her, gasping for breath as it felt like I couldn’t breathe and a horrible taste was working its’ way down my throat.
“I didn’t do anything,” Nemesis said as she hopped on her bike. She revved the engine of her motorcycle a few times. “All I did was balance the scales. A few days of bad luck for a few days of good luck, that is all.”
With that she revved her engine one last time and seemed to disappear in a cloud of smoke and Mist. I was left feeling speechless standing on Main Street USA of the Magic Kingdom. Just then a small girl asked her mom why that man was holding a sledge hammer in the middle of the road and I quickly put my weapon away before anyone else seemed to notice it.
“Well a bit of bad luck never hurt anyone,” I told myself and I headed for the Haunted Mansion ride. If it was anything like the movie, I was going to be sadly disappointed. However, as soon as I got there I could tell something was wrong. The line was well past the check in point even if the time was right. The same thing happened at all the other rides that I went to. I walked up to one of the employees and asked what was happening. He told me that something was wrong with the timing system and that everyone had been told to show up at the same times. He went on to say that he had never seen anything like it.
I knew that the time ticket system was no longer an option and I had to take my chances with the regular lines. Any ride with a line short enough I took, which really narrowed it down because the only rides with short lines were kiddy rides and I could check to see if anything was up by just looking inside.
“Wear could it be? This park is huge!” I finally yelled out. I security guard walked over and I was worried he was going to arrest me or something. How embarrassing would that be, getting carried away by Disney Police.
“Excuse me sir, but can I help you find something?” he asked kindly and I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“No, I’m sorry. The ticket system isn’t working and I’m kind of just wondering around,” I explained calming and he just nodded.
“Yes, I heard about that. Quite unfortunate,” he said as he rubbed his head with his hand. “However, Splash Mountain is normally pretty quiet around this time of day. I suggest you go there.”
“Thanks a lot,” I said, hoping for maybe just a little good luck. “Have a good day.”
I ran over to Splash Mountain as fast as I could, without going supersonic of course, and found that the guard was right and the line was incredible short. I walked to the entrance and out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw an Out of Order sign, but when I looked over it was gone.
“Weird,” I told myself and began walking down the long aisles and rows that made up the line. The guard wasn’t kidding when he said that it wasn’t busy around this time as there wasn’t anyone here. In fact it made me feel a bit nervous, but when I got to the loading zone everything seemed normal as a girl directed me to one of the log flumes.
“Right this way sir,” she said and I began walking toward the logs. From what I heard there was a cool attraction before the steep drop at the end, where you got to see the world of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox, and Brer Bear. “Please make sure you don’t hurt yourself getting in the log.”
“Thank you, but I think I’ll be fine. You know you sound kind of familiar,” I told her, but I couldn’t place where I had heard it before. I mean maybe she just had one of those voices you hear at every amusement park. Then it hit me…literally.
“Wakey wakey Nolan Swift,” came that same voice again. My head hurt a lot and when I went to rub it, I found that I was completely wrapped from head to foot. “Calm down, we aren’t going to hurt you, we just want to talk.”
“Diane!” I shouted as I opened my eyes. Everything was a bit fuzzy at first, but my eyes cleared after only a few seconds. “Untie me!”
“Now why would we do that? A captive audience is so much easier to talk to,” came a male voice, that of Silver who was sitting in the front of the log. As I became aware of where I was, I noticed that Silver and Diane were both sitting in the car with me, while I was in back with my arms and legs wrapped up. However, I felt like there was someone else in the seat behind me, but I couldn’t turn my body to look. We were also moving along the tracks and I wondered how long I was out.
“Who are you people?!” I half asked, half shouted at them.
“Do you really want to know?” came a deep voice from behind me. It sounded powerful and also strangely familiar, but it seemed masked somehow because every time I would come close to matching a face to the voice, it would change again, just enough to through me off. “Fine then, Silver and Diane, remove your Burning Sun masks.”
The two bowed their heads and did as instructed. I was expecting some kind of hideous monster, or a deformed figure from years of scientific experiments, or maybe I had been watching too many scifi movies because when they removed their masks they looked almost normal. I say almost because there was still something off about them. Their eyes had a strange color to them, as the pupils seemed to be engulfed by the blue iris’ they both shared, making their eyes look completely blue except for the white part that was normal. Their skin tone was also somewhat off, as it looked like they were a cross between being tan and being pale, which was hard to describe. It was like looking at a zebra, where you don’t know if they are white with black stripes or black with white stripes. They were the same way, with stripes that covered small portions of their faces and possible went all down their bodies. Their hair was the only thing that was normal, if you wanted to call it that. Diane had long dark blue hair that went about half way down her back and I wondered where she hid it under that mask of hers. Silver on the other hand had unnaturally dark black hair, like if he ran his hand through his hair you wouldn’t be able to see the hand past the blackness of his hair.
“What are they?” I asked out loud, just looking at them.
“We are the next generation, the ones that will take over once all you demigods are gone,” Diane said in a mocking tone that annoyed me.
“That’s enough Diane,” the man behind me said and I wished I could just see his face so I could punch it, or maybe head butt it as my hands were currently tied together.
“Oh come on, it isn’t like he will survive today,” Diane said in a pout, but kept quiet after the man behind me snorted at her.
“Don’t underestimate this one,” he said. “We have met once before and if he is anything, he is unpredictable.”
“Maybe for you, but we managed to beat him just fine back in Paris,” Silver stated as he snickered as he remembered that meeting.
“You caught him off guard, but now he knows who you are and what you can do,” the man said behind me.
“You said you were the next generation. What is that supposed to mean exactly?” I said, interrupting their little argument as they seemed to be ignoring me, something I didn’t take to kindly to.
“Tell me, in the time you humans have been in control of this planet, what have you accomplished?” the man asked.
“Well Disney World is pretty awesome,” I said, but I don’t think it was the answer he was looking for.
“Still making jokes. You may not know this but Walt Disney was a child of Iris. He would use knowledge of colors and his imagination to draw beautiful creations. During his time at your camp he called on the aid of other demigods to help him in his dream. A child of Hecate and Hephaestus are currently working on a project that will revolutionize the business, but what have humans done?” the man asked in an annoyed tone as he talked about humans like they were a virus.
“Haven’t done anything lately,” Silver said, but once again shut his mouth.
“Exactly my point, they waste their existence and have for far too many millennia now. Silver and Diane are the next generation of the dominate species on this planet. They will replace humans and the gods will grow weak as they rely on the humans for their existence,” the man behind me said.
“Gods are so weak they need you demigods to do their dirty work,” Diane said.
“But how did you make them so powerful?” I asked, trying to maybe find a way to beat them if I knew what their power came from.
“My boy, I’ve been stealing from the gods since the dawn of time. Every so often I trick Hermes out of a special delivery, or maybe trick Hephaestus into allowing me to use one of his traps, or maybe even get Artemis to give me some of her hunting abilities,” he said, laughing at the last one.
“Now I understand, you infused them with Artemis’ ability to hunt. That is how they keep finding us and how they can fight us off. But how can they hold the power of a god?” I asked, surprised by all this information.
“My brother made no shortcuts when making them. He took out all the stops, I just supplied them with a little gift after they were finished, just like last time. Without my gift, they would simply be the mindless grunts at the lowest form of Burning Sun,” the man behind me.
“But I thought they were human,” I said, as I had been holding back all this time.
“We can’t trust humans with anything, especially if you want something done right,” Diane said with a smile.
“But what are you planning?” I asked, needing to know why they wanted to blow up all these different monuments and places.
“I’m sorry, but it appears we are out of time,” The man behind me said. “The drop is coming up. Let’s go to the final destination Diane and Silver.”
“See ya later Slowpoke,” Diane said as she flipped backward out of the log. Silver did the same, jumping out onto the side of the track.
“Hey! No one calls me Slowpoke but Megan,” I shouted at her.
“You mean the girl with the silver hair?” Diane asked and my blood froze.
“How do you know that?” I asked coldly, no longer struggling with my ropes, but staring her down.
“We’ve met before. Anyway, before we leave here is a little parting gift,” Diane said as she pulled out a pink phone, which didn’t really fit in with her Bunnies Sun appearance. She pressed a few buttons and put it on speaker phone so I could hear it ring. The phone made a clicking sound, like someone on the other end had answered and Diane brought it to her mouth. “Say hello to Nolan Swift before he crashes at the bottom of a log flume ride.”
“Nolan, are you there? I don’t know where I am right now,” came the voice from the other end of the phone.
“Daddy, it’s dark,” came a much younger voice. I wasn’t sure if I could move even if the ropes somehow managed to fall off right at this moment as I went into shock. Diane then closed the phone back up and placed it in her pocket.
“See ya,” she said and she left out one of the emergency exits with Silver close behind.
“Let’s head back and make sure everything is ready at the castle. Oh and Nolan, good luck,” Silver said before closing the door behind me. His comment made me think that somehow Nemesis was the cause of all this. I wanted to yell at the guy behind me as well, but at that moment it felt like he had vanished or something, the way gods normally do.
“They have my family,” I said half heartedly. How could I have let this happen? I should have told Hermes to stuff it when he came to see me on that bridge. This wasn’t my life anymore, I gave up hero-ing a long time ago once I got into a serious relationship with Megan. Now because I didn’t say no when I knew I should have, my family was in danger. My family…they were in danger and just sitting here in a stupid log wasn’t going to save them.
I started shifting in my seat, trying my best to squeeze out of the ropes, but they were tied together well, just like you would expect a hunter to do. Just then I passed a few signs that said things like Go Back and Danger. I knew I was heading for the final drop, so I began shifting almost violently in my seat again and again until something hit me in the chin.
“Road Maker!” I said excitedly. Somehow the pendant around my neck was still there or it returned to me and wasn’t held down by the ropes. I began laid back as best I could in the long log and tried my best to roll onto my stomach. Once I did, I saw my pendant hanging down in front of me and I picked it up with my teeth. I pulled at it and I heard it snap off the clip on the cord around my neck. In an instant, it started growing to its full form on the seat. As it laid there, I rolled myself back around and grabbed it with my hands, which were tied behind my back.
“This is going to hurt,” I told myself and I grabbed the handle, causing a familiar heat to flood into the hammer and I felt the head burst into flames. I only needed to hold the flame for a second as it burned through the ropes and in a moment I was free. Just then the log began to angle downward and I looked over my shoulder to see that the log was about to fall into a pit of razor sharp spikes. It was already too late to jump to safety as the only thing left or right of me was the drop.
“Road Maker, you better be ready for this,” I told my hammer and I ran to the front of the boat. The log began to head down the slope at such an angle that I wanted to curse whoever made this ride. I crawled my way up to the front of the log and slammed my hammer into the front, but nothing happened. Come on buddy, I need you now.”
I slammed it into the log again, but still nothing happened. I was maybe about two seconds away from death as I continued to speed toward the spikes. I tried one final time and this time my hammer glowed a golden light. The water below the log seemed to turn into bricks made of ice and a portal formed right in front of me. The log went speeding into it and I flew out safely at the bottom of the hill past the spikes. However, I was still going surprisingly fast and water shot up everywhere, completely soaking me. The log came to a stop and I climbed out, following the exit signs. I looked back at the entrance and once again saw the Out of Order sign, but as I looked at it harder I saw that it was simply a trick of the Mist, strong enough to fool humans, but weak enough where a demigod wouldn’t notice it. I also took the time to feel the back of my neck. The fire I had used to burn the rope had left a pretty bad burn on my neck to the point that I couldn’t turn it very well, but it was my neck or my life so I tried my best to ignore the pain.
“Off to the castle,” I said and I ran for it. I wasn’t sure if the castle was real with rooms and a princess inside, but I had a pretty good idea about where the bomb was. As I walked, I noticed a surprising lack of people, like everyone that had blocked the lines before were all gone. It made getting to the castle easier, but it made me feel nervous all over again. As I approached it, I saw a man in a Jafar costume standing by a service entrance in front of the castle.
“I’m afraid I can’t allow you to go any further,” he told me, but I went to go past him anyway. I wasn’t in any mood to deal with some guy in a costume; I had business to deal with. Just before I passed him, he placed his snake shaped staff in front of him and the mouth opened, followed by a stream of fire that almost barbecued me.
“What the heck was that?!” I shouted as I jumped back and instantly reached for my hammer. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but somehow Jafar from Aladdin was trying to kill me.
“Like I said boy, I can’t allow you to go. I have the powers of a genie, I have phenomenal cosmic power. You have no hope against me,” he said as he raised his staff and red smoke seemed to spiral around Cinderella’s Castle.
“But genies can’t kill anyone,” I said, as I had seen that movie at least a hundred times. Jafar on the other hand let out an evil laugh just like in the movies. “What’s so funny?”
“You’d be surprised what you can live through,” Jafar said and set his sights right on me. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this. I was up again phenomenal cosmic power and all I had was a hammer and a set of soaking wet clothes. If someone was watching me right now on a video camera or something, they would think I had spent the day simply enjoying the rides.
“Alright Jafar, let’s see what you can live through,” I said and I charged into battle.