A/N: This is a one-shot, inspired by a bit of investigation I did at the behest of my younger son. We found on Wikipedia that Walt Disney was born in the same city and year as one EDWARD MASEN. My brain was duly sparked and I had to write something.
So, this is a dark Disney, if you will. I hope you are…entertained…
This is a work of derivative fiction. All things TWILIGHT are the intellectual property of Stephenie Meyer and/or her assignees. I write merely to entertain myself and others and receive no compensation.
"Did you check the specs?" Edward inquired of Jasper. They were about to enter The Park After Dark – a big fortieth anniversary celebration at Disneyland and the Cullens were there in force.
Jasper flipped his brother off. "Naturally. You think you're the only one with a brain, here? Just because I couldn't make the Grand Opening back in fifty-five..."
Emmet growled and tugged the rolled specifications of the labyrinthine underground. "Give me those things. Hell, guys. This is supposed to be simple. We go in, we sniff out the guy, and we find out what he's thinking, draining people like this."
Jasper growled right back at his brother, glad that Alice wasn't here to get involved. Possible rogue vampire – maybe even a newborn – underneath a tourist attraction like Disneyland? He couldn't believe Carlisle had said the Cullen men would help stop the monster.
The year was 1995 and a real monster certainly didn't belong at The Happiest Place on Earth.
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The year was 1917. The place was Chicago. A corner where men gathered to smoke and where newspapers were hawked by boys in short pants and suspenders. Two young men were there, as well, reading the news of the Great War and sharing a paper.
"Walter, look. I think we should enlist," Edward propositioned. "We could go with the Canadians, if no one here will let us."
Walter shook his head. "I would go with you if you try, you know. We should try." He folded the thin newspaper and used it as a pointer. "But are you sure you'd want to go? I've heard the gossip about you and Miss Emeline Thatcher..." Walt angled one brow as a blush flooded Edward's face. "That's what I thought."
"I want nothing to do with Miss Thatcher," the bronze-haired fellow ground out. "It's not my fault that my parents think she'd be a 'lovely bride,'" he added, setting off the words with hand-shaped quotation marks.
Walt grinned broadly. "Ah, but she would, you know. And then she'd have a lovely time running through your father's fortune."
"Enough!" Edward said, hitting his thigh with his own newspaper so that it made a sharp snap. "I'm sixteen years old. I'd rather run away and be shot at by the Kaiser than be betrothed to anyone!"
Walt took pity on his friend and put a casual arm around Edward's shoulders. "Come on. I'll show you the new cartoons I've made for the school paper." The boys both attended McKinley High School. Edward's musical skills kept him involved in the concert season and with the musicals; Walter's gift with pens and inks found him avidly employed by the printed art forms.
Before the year was out, Walter had dropped out of school to try to enlist in the army. He was rejected due to his age.
"Sorry, old man." Edward offered a hand in commiseration. "Who knows? This thing could drag out long enough..." Both of them were young enough to see the unending glory in battle; they hadn't yet been touched by the horrors of it.
Walter sighed and took a sip from the flask in his hand. He was too young to fight, but a drink was completely within his power. "It might, but I'm going to go over there anyway. The Red Cross needs volunteers. Medical aide and the like. I can also draw, you know. When I'm not driving an ambulance."
"Well, look me up when you get home, then," Edward insisted. "I'll want to hear about the beautiful European women you flirt with!"
Walter promised he would and, one dark night in 1918, he shipped off to France. When he returned, he looked for his friend, Edward Masen, but was informed the entire Masen family died in the Spanish Influenza Epidemic.
Walter drew for the local paper a tall, lanky figure as a lonely soldier, finally coming home from the Great War. The picture eventually worked its way to Doctor Carlisle Cullen, who cut it carefully from the magazine in which it was printed. It was stored in a carved wooden box along with a diamond ring and a baseball with Pitcher Eddie Plank's scrawled signature.
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The vampires committed the blueprint schematic to memory. Jasper had outer patrol– he was invaluable in reconnaissance, for one. For another, he was more comfortable in the open air in the main park than he would ever be underground, with the recycled scents of humans floating about him.
Inside, Edward and Emmett went exploring. Emmett, of course, grinned at the girls who worked down there and they just about melted as they accepted his false ID and let him pass. Edward could dazzle with the best of them, but he relied upon his mind-reading ability to find what he was looking for. He did his best to avoid people. It was easier, that way.
He had an idea of what he was looking for – or rather, whom. There had been a string of "accidents" in the park, of late. Rides malfunctioning. Now, when it was Space Mountain, there weren't too many questions, really. A broken neck and exsanguination were unsurprising on a rollercoaster that moved at high speeds in a dark environment. The ride was halted, guests were escorted out of the structure and encouraged to take advantage of a gift certificate to one of the Main Street stores for their trouble. On-site investigators examined the area and determined that yes, the park guest must have disobeyed the strictures outlined for proper ride behavior and been fatally hurt thereby.
It made perfect sense, the Cullens knew. Once or twice every few years, these things happened. But someone was getting careless. Five bodies had been found in the past six months. And one of them had been in the Small World attraction.
That spoke of a desperate and careless vampire. The Volturi were primed to investigate. And Edward did not want his old friend's brain child to be subject to such an intrusion. So here he was.
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The year was 1950. The psychic, Alice, and her mate, Jasper, had just joined the Cullen family, making Edward even more uncomfortable than usual. It wasn't bad enough that he had to hear the thoughts of three happily mated pairs of vampires. Now he had to listen to an empath's understanding of everyone's emotions, too. He was taking a bit of a break from the family on his school's summer vacation.
He made some telephone calls and did some other research and found that his old friend, Walter, was preparing a park. A park with attractions based on and around Walter's own creative genius. Edward envied him enormously. Though his musical talents didn't lend themselves to creating such a thing, he would have enjoyed working with Walter.
Secretly, he tracked down his former companion.
Walter was in his back yard with a large sketchpad braced on his thighs, drawing with no other light than the luminous moon, which shone with shocking purity this evening. The whisper of the pencil's lead on the heavy paper was distinguishable from the smudging sounds of Walter's hand as it moved. Edward watched, listening for the tell-tale heartbeats of others, listening for voices... But Walter was alone at the moment.
With a quick breath, Edward stepped through the trees and onto Walter's lawn. "Walter Disney," he breathed, his voice hushed against the night.
With a subdued yelp, Walter dropped his pencil and lurched up and out of his Adirondack lawn chair. "Who..?" He squinted, not moving forward, but not retreating into the house, either. "Who is it?" Holding the sketchpad like he might a shield, Walter stepped hesitantly forward. Edward was relieved, since he didn't want to move closer to the house at this point. He remained silent, however. "Wait... You look familiar," Walter whispered, stopping about an arm's length from Edward's cool form.
Edward finally took pity upon his old friend. "Hello, Walter. I should look familiar. We've met."
Walter's mind was flexible and his imagination enormous in scope and practice. Disbelief didn't even occur to him, Edward could see in his thoughts. "Edward. Edward Masen! By the holies, I thought you'd died back when I was in France!"
Edward smiled a little crookedly and resorted to the human gesture of rubbing the back of his neck. "I did, Walter. But, um, not entirely, as you can see."
Walter leaned forward, to bring his face closer to his old friend. He sniffed. "Are you – a ghost or something? I always knew there was something out there, you know. I just couldn't tell anyone, back then." Then, the cartoonist pursed his lips and made an appraising sort of sound. "You'd do well on film, you know?"
At that, Edward had to laugh. "Not really. The lights would be a problem." He could just imagine, though! He continued chuckling as Walter studied him. "Um, don't draw me, all right?" he requested, seeing the notion come through in Walter's mind. "Let's just keep this between us."
Without revealing exactly what he was, Edward was able to conduct a quiet interview with his old friend, sparking enough reciprocal enthusiasm to be told the details of the themed park that Disney had been planning since a trip to Chicago a few years prior. "Can I keep an eye on it?" Edward inquired. It sounded...interesting...but also like the kind of place that might amuse his family, given the right circumstances. Emmett would love it.
"Outstanding, yes indeed. I'd love to see you there. How will I, ah, contact you?" Walter inquired with some delicacy.
Edward could see that Walter was still seeing him, Edward, as a tangible apparition. He did nothing to dissuade him. "I'll find you. And if you're entirely alone, we can...visit."
With a delighted, boyish grin, Disney agreed to these conditions. Edward refrained from shaking hands, but both men bowed as if they were conveying deep respect. Inwardly, Edward chuckled; Walter's thoughts were full of awe regarding this "supernatural visitation."
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The year was 1966. It was an autumn night in Palm Springs, California and Walter Disney and his wife were recuperating after Walter's latest round of chemotherapy. Edward brought Carlisle with him for what he knew would be the final "visit" he had with Walter.
Mrs. Disney had to use the bathroom, keeping her out of earshot, when Edward made his presence known. "Walter?"
The ailing cartoonist and visionary turned to the sound of the familiar voice. "Edward. Edward Masen."
"I've brought a new doctor to take a look at you, Walter. To assess your situation."
In spite of his weakness and the pervasive pain Edward could sense, Walter laughed lightly. "Oh, yes. Because fifty other physicians could still be wrong, eh? What do they feed you in the afterlife, old friend?"
Edward was at Walter's bedside in a moment. "Would you believe, blood?"
Carlisle's mind reached Edward's. Son, you'll stop his heart with that talk. He's sick enough as it is.
"Is it really that bad, then?"
It is, son.
Then, Walter did something unexpected. Concentrating so that sweat stood out on his forehead, he extended an arm and gripped Edward's cold, marble hand. "You're real. And you're not a ghost. You – you –" The word flaired in Walter's mind. Vampire! Blood drinker! Vampire!
"Yes," Edward murmured.
Walter's eyes widened as the toilet flushed in the bathroom. You hear me. Yes you do. My thoughts. I want to be like you, Edward. I want to be like you! Then I could continue. Open a bigger, better place. Entertain more people. I could, Edward.
"Walt? Are you all right, darling?"
"Later," Edward whispered. "I'll try to see you again."
Pictures were tacked on a bulletin board in one of the employee lounges in the below-ground labyrinth of Disneyland. As if to remind those who worked at the amusement park that the latest string of happenings in the Happiest Place on Earth were more real than their jobs. The faces were of smiling people, all of them.
Yet, Edward had seen the coroner's reports. All of them. Smiles had not accompanied them to their deaths at the hands and jaws of a vampire.
A light swirling sensation touched Edward's mind in a room currently devoid of people. A certain tenor of thought. But he couldn't see anyone. All he could catch was a swirling of light and color as it passed through the room. Moving more quickly than any human could consider, Edward dashed after the elusive creature, whose scent was reminiscent of old earth underneath a light mint.
The moving colors coalesced in the corridor. Sweeping the area with his mind, Edward detected no one within fifty yards of their location, so he stayed where he was. "Walter Disney?"
"Edward!" Joy and delight in the revelation of a surprise came to Edward as the aged visage of his old friend was cast into view. Fluorescent lights caught the wrinkles in Walter's face.
And the red irises of his eyes. Edward didn't cringe – humans were the natural food of unnatural creatures such as they. But still... He hated that a man who had done so much for the entertainment of people was now feeding off of them. In addition, he had to move carefully. If Walter was indeed the perpetrator behind the deaths at Disneyland, he had to be stopped.
Could I do that? he wondered.
Walter approached. "This has been amazing, you know. I didn't know how to find you, but I've mostly just stayed here and overseen things. It's amazing how I can still illustrate. I've learned how to work with the computer animations, too, but I tend to help with storyboards –. Wait. Aren't you happy for me? Have you seen some of the work we've put out lately? The Little Mermaid was a huge hit a few years ago," Walter added with a wink.
Walter's enthusiasm was not infectious. Not to Edward. Not now. "I have kept track of the movies, yes. Your old studios have done some incredible work."
"I'm still working! I am! And all thanks to your doctor friend."
Edward grimaced. "Carlisle? He did this to you? Condemned you to our lifestyle? That isn't like him!"
Walter grinned, his crimson eyes twinkling. "I convinced him I could still do a lot of good, even with the limitations of this... This new way of life. It's incredible, Edward!"
A happy vampire could be frightening, under certain circumstances. "And the diet, Walter? Does that feel incredible to you?"
A strange, manic glee lingered in Walter's eye. Edward could see into his mind. Could see how he used illusion – color and sound – to elude his prey's notice. To seduce their senses and still their fears. He let them see what he wanted them to see. It was his gift, after all, to tease the eyes and ears with pretty pictures.
Carlisle had always said that the strongest human traits a person had went with them into their new life. And for Walt Disney, this had been true as well.
"How can you do that?" Edward whispered. He could see the thrill in Walter's mind. He could feel the triumph, the excitement the other vampire felt as he lingered near the boat ride in the Small World ride. He smelled, in Walter's memory, the fresh scent of a little boy... "Stop it! I see how you did it, Walter. I meant...how could you?"
You hear me. I hadn't remembered that detail. Ah... Yes. Well, Edward. I've always known there was more and I found it, didn't I? Did you think I did all of this for them? For the children? No. An entertainer is truly seeking to feed their own ego, at whatever cost. And for me, that was art. My art. I used it for my own selfish purposes.
I have always been a vampire, in a way.
Sounds approached and both men started. Edward could hear Emmett's assurances that he did catch another vampire's scent. And, far above, Jasper saying that the trail led to the Cast Member door...
"The Volturi cannot allow this to continue, Walter. We – my family and I – have come to see that there are no further conspicuous deaths here." It pained him to say it, truly it did. He could imagine the second demise of Walt Disney. No cryostasis this time, but a pyre and purple smoke.
Walter laughed, but the sound was tinged with challenge and Edward felt his muscles tighten in an automatic response. He was an able fighter, truly, but Walter was strong with the blood of their natural prey...
Emmett's mental voice encouraged him to wait for a moment. Edward! Hold on to him, we're coming.
Coming, Edward. Let's finish this below ground before the night is over and the humans return! Edward was truly impressed by Jasper's willingness to delve underground for this task.
It's a trap! Walter's thoughts shouted to Edward and the red-eyed vampire suddenly created an illusion of swirling mists and chirping birds. Edward lunged toward the image, but the whoosh of air that all but flew beyond him told him that Walter had truly fooled him. It seemed a harmless gift, illusion... But it was sufficient to the purpose.
"He's gifted!" Edward called to his brothers. "Track him!"
Ignoring the surprised gasps of the few humans they did meet – Edward did his best to lead his brothers in ways that would attract the least notice – the Cullens raced after the distinct mint and earth scent that marked Walt Disney. Up stairs, down corridors, they tried to find the swirls of color and sound but they could only find the scent of the man they were trying to stop.
Through Tomorrowland, down Main Street, ducking behind The Hall of Presidents and then – the scent doubled back and Edward could see, for just a moment, his former companion as Walter leapt with vampire speed and agility to the Disneyland Railroad, pausing on the tracks before leaving the Park entirely.
Let's go! Jasper directed, his mind already planning the possible paths an illusionist vampire could take to get away from Disneyland. He had put the immediate area to memory, of course, and was prepared for an extended hunt.
Edward, though, halted his steps in the Peter Pan section of the parking lot. "No," he murmured, far from the white circle of the security light. "No. He's been warned. Let's hope he confines his...hunting...to a less conspicuous place in the future."
"But the Volturi, Edward," Emmett started, his hands in balled fists. "I don't want to be on their bad side, y'know?"
Jasper snorted out half a laugh. "They just wanted the vampire to be more discreet, Emm. If he is... We'll all come out of this all right."
"And if he's not?" Emmett countered.
Edward shook his head. "Walter's a smart man. He always has been. He'll...be more careful."
"Yeah, well, you can talk to Aro and Caius if they call for us to come to Italy, then, Edward. I'll just stay home," Jasper stated, his sarcasm palpable.
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Edward? Carlisle's silent call drew Edward from his music and he rose from the piano in their home in North Dakota. Have you see this?
Carlisle directed Edward's attention to the news on television, where a reporter from KTLA, a Los Angeles station, was getting national exposure for her reporting on this story.
"The body was found at the bottom of the waterfall on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad," the woman was saying, her face dark and expression grim. "The woman's neck was broken, and it appeared that she had been possibly caught under the wheels of the roller coaster, due to massive bruising and some tearing of skin. The coroner is investigating now."
"Walter..." Edward sighed sadly. "Damn him."
Carlisle met his accusing look before looking briefly away. "He said he wanted to keep entertaining people, Edward," the physician said in a whisper.
"Well, I suppose he's succeeded, then." With a disgusted gesture, Edward turned to the stairs. He planned on doing his best to escape through music. The pervasive sounds could coat his mind and he could pretend, for a while, that this wasn't all his fault. "At least he's learned discretion," he muttered before shutting the door to his room.
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Over the years, the Volturi came to the same conclusion. Yes, occasionally there were gruesome deaths at the Disneyland Amusement Park, but they were few and far between. When the vampire changed his hunting grounds, they watched Disneyworld.
It was far easier to hide, there.