“Is this your child ma’am?” I waved the four year old back and forth, hoping she would just take it.
“I’ve never seen that kid before in my life.”
“I just saw
him walk away from you.”
She frowned and reached for his armpits. “Fine.
While she bent down to fasten a leash around the child’s neck, I saw a review card sticking out of her back pocket.
“By the way,” I gestured slyly at the card, “if you wanted to, you know, thank me
for returning your son, you could give me a positive review. It’s spelled G-Y-R-O-”
She stopped to look up and spit on the leg of my costume, then tugged the leash to steer the child forward. “Get a real
I would’ve put up more of a fight, but inside this giant mouse suit it was well over the boiling point of whatever liquid boils at a hundred degrees; the science center of my brain had already shut down, and I felt great.
“Make another friend?”
Gambit walked up behind me, sweat trickling from the eyeholes of his Donald Duck outfit.
“Naw, just another jerk with soapy hands,
” I yelled, hoping she was still within earshot. “So, get any positive reviews?”
“No,” Gambit croaked, sounding like a broken shell of his former self. “Dese suits are cursed.
Everyone I meet either laughs an’ walks away, or dey feel compelled to hit me.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.”
I looked around for a familiar plastic dome. “Have you seen AMOK?”
“He said...” Gambit tipped a little under the heat and weight of the costume. “He said when we got heatstroke, we should head to the Small World ride, he’d be there.”
“That’d be great,” I sighed, struggling to keep myself standing. “Can you, like, carry me?”
At first I was apprehensive as the cold suction cup was rubber cemented to the back of my head, but you get used to these things.
“Is everyone strapped in okay?” The director asked, brushing her long red hair out of her eyes. I could tell she really cared, or she wouldn’t have injected our legs with Novocaine.
Gambit rolled his head, shuddering as the brainprobe burrowed its way into his spine. “Fine.”
“Okay, for this portion of the IQ test, I’m going to show you some shapes and you’ll tell me what you see.”
I looked at the splotches. “That one’s President Lincoln eating a bowl of Fruit Loops. That one’s a young Marlon Brando getting a ticket for speeding. And that one’s a rerun,” I smirked. This was a piece of cake.
She showed the same cards to Gambit, who just shrugged.
“Okay, start the experimental internationalization sequence!” the Director yelled, entering the control booth.
Two large door clanked open and the mini-gondolas ran smoothly down their rail. All around us, I could see large animatronic children laughing and singing: “It’s a small world, after all...”
I didn’t know which of us started screaming first, but after my eyes coated over with blood, I found it hardly mattered.
“What are the statuses of test subjects Twelve Alpha and Twelve Beta?”
Director Hokano called up the current brainprobe readings. “No decrease in neural activity.”
Behind her, a dozen geneticists and metallurgists poured over the incoming readings, their excitement palpable. Michael Eisner stroked the secret beard he was afraid to let the public see, lest they think him evil. “How is that possible? The other contestants were mentally debilitated after the first ride.”
“The brainprobe is detecting elevated serotonin levels,” Director Hakano paraphrased, converting two full pages of medical jargon into a single sentence. “And all kinds of freaky things in the hippocampus.”
Eisner pressed three buttons on his cell phone, and someone picked up on the other end after a single ring. “Wake the Japanese team.”
Something seemed a little off. I flexed my arm; the straps had been removed.
“Are you okay?” Ah, the Director again. She would know what was going on.
“Am I ‘okay?’ Was Julius Caesar ‘okay’ when he slew Pompey?”
“Showing increased historical accuracy... check.”
Someone had removed my combadge. “Where am I? Where’s Gambit? You can keep him if you want, just let me go.”
“Your friend has already gone through decon. What does this look like?” She held up a complex diagram of a device for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force.
“I’m contaminated?!” This was news to me; I’ve never been sick a day in my life. I frequently visit hospitals to point this out to the patients, which really
gives my self-esteem a boost.
“We made a chilling discovery, thanks to you,” she beamed. Finally, someone actually thanking
me instead of chucking bottles at my head. “All that time you two spent in those Disney costumes-”
“Yeah, it really gave me a new appreciation for what you carnies go through every day.”
“I’m an award-winning geneticist.”
“Look, lead me, follow me, or get out of my way,” I grunted, quoting Patton like a demon.
“Those costumes you were wearing were full of the broken dreams of the thousands of Disney employees who wore them before you,” she continued. “Your bodies were saturated
with those broken dreams, which inverted the stupid rays from our Small World ride. It rewrote large portions of your DNA, making you super geniuses.
The two of you are now the smartest men on Earth.
Breathing in deeply, I checked my hands. No soap.
“Will I ever be able to play the piano?” My voice broke, showing just how distraught I was.
“The changes to your DNA aren’t permanent anyway. They’ll wear off in a few days. But I don’t see why you can’t play the minute you leave here,” she said kindly.
“No... I don’t think I can,” I cried, covering my face with both hands and running from the room.
As I hobbled off to the lobby with Gambit and AMOK, I could only wonder at the miracle cures and scientific breakthroughs our trio would accomplish over the next two days. Given our newfound genius, we could solve world hunger... reverse global warming...
Perhaps I’d even learn to play the piano.