Prisoner of the Magic Kingdom

Sam Scott

AN: Well, never expected to become a "Dark Disney stories" guy, but those were the two pieces I've done that seemed appropriate for FanFic. This is a work in progress that I'm hoping to submit to my school's literary magazine. It's my first try doing something this dark, and, knowing how full this website is of mature content handled in immature ways, I would appreciate any criticisms you have for me. Other than that… SUM OF DIS STORY IS XTREMLY SCRAY. VIOWER EXCRETION ADVISD

all it's a small world after all it's a small world after all it's a small….

It had become white noise by this point. Jake M. Hall had been sitting in his little pink and white boat in the trench of Drano-blue water for… for… the truth is, he had been there enough time for time itself to lose its meaning.

He preferred to think of how the day began. It was his first visitation with his beautiful sunheaded children since he'd split up with Carrie. He didn't feel safe with them in LA. Besides, he felt he needed to do something to make up for… the thing he preferred not to think about. But to prove he was a changed man, he wanted them to enjoy the best possible weekend. And with a park calling itself the Happiest Place on Earth within a day's drive…

of laughter a world of tears and a world of hope and a world of

Happiest my ass, he thought, not being able to remember any time he had felt more miserable. No. Focus. Besides, he thought, it can't be much longer until they get us out. But the kids were happy when they walked under that redbrick gateway, into the throng of strollers, mouse ears and people, people, people. Lily was darting all around faster than her father could keep up with her. She finally stood still long enough for him to find her in the mass when she saw a knot of children crowded around an enormous yellow dog with a red vinyl tongue lolling out of his unbreathing mouth. Lily stood, uncertain for a moment, before wrapping herself around his ankles. David pulled out a little yellow legal pad and, without looking up from the ground, gave it to the man in the yellow dog suit to sign. His father did his best to get David to look up – to look him in the eye. He lifted David up to the dog's eye level. The boy held his gaze with the mask's unmoving white dinnerplate eyes, until the man beneath it shuffled off to deal with someone less confrontational.

much that we share that it's time we're

Jake was determined to change David's mood, because he knew it was his own fault. The court had already acquitted him. His wife had already forgiven him. He was not leaving the park until David forgave him as well. As for Jake himself – well, he had a harder time with forgiveness. Not your fault they all said. You couldn't have known she would have… No. Not that. Disneyland. Think about Disneyland.

Lily disappeared for another panicky moment, appearing underneath a duck mask done up in tribal warpaint over two crossed spears. "Cruise!" she shouted. "Wanna see da cruise!" So Jake picked her up, maybe held her too tightly, and carried her into the wooden house. They joined the interlocking gears that kept on turning an inch at a time closer to the jungle boats.

"Look at that!" Jake said after twenty minutes of this, "there's the boats, Davey!"

"We have to go upstairs," said David.

And they did, winding around and around until Jake wondered if there were any boats for the boat ride. They finally got to ride round and see all the robotic elephants and gorillas and head-shrinking cannibals and the rest. Once they finally got back onto the street (Jake holding tight to Lily's hand this time), Jake cut David loose into the "Trading Post" ad told him he could have whatever he wanted.

"S'no good," David said. "Just a buncha bugs n' snakes n' junk."

Jake ignored his son and bought him a little stuffed Goofy done up in a safari suit. David stared at the smiling doll with no emotion at all. Jake was thinking frantically now. He was going to see David smile by the end of the day whatever he had to do.

and one golden sun and a smile means friendship for every

So he decided he would take David and Lily on the ride that had been his favorite when he first came here with his own father. He remembered Carrie telling him how it had made her mother cry. He never understood that – it just seemed like a silly little showcase of happy little dolls. Still, he couldn't think of anything better to cheer up David. In his desperation, he forgot David's insistence on avoiding the "girly rides" in Fantasyland (he called the big fairytale castle "the Pepto Palace"). At least Lily was happy to get on board the little white boat, jumping, laughing and everything.

after all it's a small

It fit his luck – or karma, given what he had done – that the ride broke down in the middle of the red room. The treadmill that locked their boat on its preapproved journey stopped dead in the water. A pale, shaggy young man in a babyblue waistcoat and a yellow straw hat popped up the bars that confined the other passengers in their boats and let them out. As Jake waited impatiently for his release, the man walked right past him.

"Hey!" Jake shouted. "What are you doing?"

The man looked at him through light blue eyes ringed with dark grey.

"You're next," he said in his bassfiddle voice before shuffling off.

"Next?" Jake shouted. "Why not now?"

"Soon," said the man, his voice echoing through the corridor, his face long since gone.

a small world after all it's a small world

"Soon," of course was apparently code for "next year." So he sat in the tunnel as the dolls sang their little song. After all this time it sounded more like mosquitoes buzzing.

forever Walt's asleep forever Walt's asleep

The melody bled into discordant notes from the rooms behind and ahead of them, turning the song into a cacophony of phony joy. He was forced to look at every corner of the room with nothing else to do, and found himself wondering how he had ever enjoyed this. The dolls kept nodding, nodding, nodding, nodding, or circling the big sombrero endlessly like he had in the long, folded line. He realized that no one had made any attempt to hide the machinery holding the whole thing together, he immediately saw the black rods that made Donald Duck and his amigos bounce up and down. And no matter how much he tried to remember his old, innocent appreciation of the place, he couldn't stop looking up the colored lights that illuminated every wire. And those dolls… never blinking, never breathing, never moving from their fifty-year programming.

a small world after all

David hadn't said a word since the boat left harbor and Lily had fallen asleep, leaving him with little to do but stare at the glowing eyes of the blue hippo and the leering faces of drum-playing giraffes.

it's a world of laughter a world of tears

And that song – it was neverending, as constant as the rotation of the earth that the dolls tried to convince you was so happy and innocent. Notice you don't see the little American dolls shooting down Aladdin on flying carpet…

it's a world of hope and a world of fears and a world of fears and a world of fears and a world of fears and a world of fears and a

Fantastic. Now the dolls have broken down too. Like they weren't repetitive enough already, like that little boy's head that the wires kept pulling off and on and off and on. How they got away with putting that on a kids' ride, he would never know.

Jacob said a voice like the air leaving a balloon. Listen to us, Jacob

Ah. He was hearing things now. Well, it was only a matter of time. Then he realized that all the dolls had stopped moving, except for one, lying crushed on the ground with springs and gears sticking from its body like knives from Caesar. It turned its one-eyed face to look at him, and its broken head nodded in time with its words.

You have been very wicked, Jacob.

The head-popping doll came back to life and they both said, in perfect unison.

Very wicked, Jacob. Very wicked indeed.

Jake watched as a wire snatched a cleat loose from the boat behind him, smashing the heads of four dolls over and over again, with pendulum precision. Each of them joined in, as more and more of the cold machinery that animated them became visible.

We can't have wicked men here, Jacob.

From high up in the rafters, a little alpine doll tumbled, splintering his wooden body, and was towed back again by those shining wires to fall again.

Especially not wicked men who hurt children, Jacob.

A little blue train, billowing cotton smoke puffs, slammed into another doll, dragging it along the shore on its underside until it was nothing but a paste of splinters and molten metal.

"Who are you?" Jake asked, unable to think of anything else to say.

We all died here, Jacob.

We think now, you will too.

Jake frantically tried to pry up the metal bar that locked him in his boat. Another doll sprung to life, adding its voice to the accusing choir. It was floating in the water, inches from Jake, so pale it was almost blue.

Don't try to leave, Jacob. You must stay until we are done with you.

Jake watched as another doll rose from the pile of inert figures. It pointed one of its delicate fingers at him as it popped off and on, off and on.

"Alright," he said. It sounded much braver in his mind. "Then what are you going to do to me?"

We must punish you, Jacob. By this point there were so many inhuman voices that they sounded less like a choir and more like an organ. We must punish you for what you did.

"No you have no right to-to do that. I've… suffered enough for, um um, what I did."

No, Jacob. No suffering is enough for your crimes, Jacob.

"No! You don't understand! You can't hold me accountable for that. I-I wasn't my –"

Or maybe you were yourself, Jacob. Maybe that is your real self, and you only pretend to be a decent human being.

"I – I – I…"

Poor little Jacob. He even fooled himself.

"Well… if that was my real self, then I beat him."

Have you, Jacob?

"I've been sober for three months. My wife gave me visitation rights again!"

So you're cured, Jacob? Is that why you had you couldn't let the children see you at home, Jacob?

"No! I wanted someplace my kids would be happy."

Well. Are the children happy, Jacob?

David shot upright. If the laws of nature still applied in this place, he would have broken his back. His eyes were as round and as rigid as the eyes of the dolls, and looked possessed in the red light.

Daddy he said, in the same organ voice that the dolls had used. I am ashamed of you, daddy. You aren't even human, daddy. You are just a devil hiding in a man's skin. Maybe we should send you back to hell, daddy.

Jake was reduced to a quaking plate of gelatin, as his eyes, nose, and open mouth each began to leak.

I saw what you did to mommy, daddy. Is that why she left you? Did she need me to get hurt to see how wicked you are, daddy?

"David, David," Jake choked. "I'm not the same daddy I was that night. I'm better now! I'm different!"

We don't care who you are, Jacob. We only care what you did.

"That…that…"

We must call up the next witness now, Jacob.

Lily, too, sat up and stared at him. Her clear blue eyes looked like white-hot fire.

You think I still love you, daddy. But really, I am just too stupid to understand what you did. Someday, I will be older, daddy, and then I will know. And then, neither me nor David will ever speak to you again.

"Oh, Lily… Lily… Don't say that, Lily. Don't say tha-a-a-at." He began sobbing as if he were no older than her.

There is still one more witness, Jacob.

"Oh. Oh thank God. Carrie, I love her, she understands, she understands…"

We are sure she does, Jacob. Look up, Jacob.

"Carrie!" Jake shouted. "You won't believe what… no."

A red chord lowered from the cheap grey panels of the ceiling. It tied to the stomach of a tiny, red, mangled little child with the complexion of raw meat.

You killed me, daddy.

"No."

Before I even got to be alive.

"No."

Why did you hit mommy so hard, daddy?

"Stop."

I could have lived to be an old man, daddy.

"Stop."

You could have taught me to read, daddy.

"Stop."

And to play football, daddy.

"Stop."

You never saw my graduation, daddy.

"Stop!"

Or watched me move out.

"Stop!"

I could have taken care of you, daddy.

"Stop it!"

When you got old and sick, daddy.

"Stop!"

Daddy. Do you even know my name.

Jake's voice crescendoed to a shriek.

"Stop it! Stop it, Jacob! Your name is Jacob. Your name is Jacob Hall junior!"

That's right, daddy. Because I was old enough for you to see my boy parts. I was old enough to feel it when you hit mommy.

Jake collapsed against the iron bar.

"Just… give me whatever punishment you planned already. It can't be worse than this."

We can't do that, Jacob. That is for the Judge to do, Jacob.

The ride clanked back to life and the boat lurched through the dark water. Jake arrived in an enormous room, full of more of the little devil-dolls than he had ever wanted to see. Each of them was wearing the same ghostly white that enveloped the room. Hanging high above them was the enormous round face of the sun, circled by uneven, jagged rays, with glowing, unblinking eyes. It spoke with a voice as deep as the abyss.

What are the charges?

The hundreds of dolls spoke in unison, so loud that it made the red room seem like a group of two or three: We will now tell you with your permission your honor, if you are willing to hear us.

Do not listen to the dolls.

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth

They are lying.

Jacob committed his heinous crime while intoxicated

He was drunk. Drunk enough to black out and forget what had happened.

Jacob met his wife, Caroline, at the door to his room at 1 AM

They had argued over his drinking before.

She accused Jacob, your honor, of spending the night with another woman

The dolls never mentioned that she was wrong.

He began to shout at her, in the foulest language

She shouted fist.

Caroline backed away from him

Towards the stairs.

This greatly angered Jacob. He immediately struck her in the face with enough force to draw blood

He pulled back before he could give her more than a light blow. The blood came later.

He then grabbed her by the throat

But the force of the blow was still enough to knock her down the stairs.

And proceeded to punch her repeatedly in the stomach

Jake never touched his unborn child.

Thus causing the trauma that led to his own child's miscarriage

Jake had always assumed he was to blame.

In full view of his only son

David would always imagine far worse than what he had seen in the split second before he turned away. He looked long enough to see the look in his father's eyes. It was like a wounded bear.

He then bent her over and hit her repeatedly in the head with a nearby book until she passed out

Carrie could not correct him because she had also blacked out.

He committed unspeakable tortures on her limp body

So the dolls could say whatever they wanted.

And threw her down the stairs

By this point, Jake had collapsed on the floor.

His son, David, immediately called the police, worried what would happen if his parents fought again

Nothing like this had ever happened before.

The police immediately understood what had happened

They were wrong.

But he managed to escape losing nothing but his marriage

The court acquitted him.

And was never punished for the murder of his unborn child

But Jake could not believe in his own innocence. The miscarriage only deepened his guilt.

Now what, your honor, is your verdict

First the sentence, the sunjudge said, as his painted-on smile curved around his cheeks, then the verdict

The wires swung the children out of the boat as it roared back to life. Jake rode, every nerve in his body on edge, as the boat passed the enormous postcards that marked the end of the ride.

"Oh thank God," Jake thought. "At least they're letting me go."

Except when he emerged, he didn't see the sidewalk and blue sky of Anaheim. He was in a gray asphalt wasteland, floating along a river that glowed dully with the color of molten metal. Ahead of him, he saw the river leading down another tunnel into inky blackness. The boat lurched and sent him barreling down the waterfall into the dark.

As Jake's eyes adjusted to the dark, he saw another tunnel ahead of him, this one covered in teeth with two glowing green eyes above it. He heard the jaws snap shut as he passed under. The boat tipped and threw him out onto the hard, uneven cement on either side of the river. He was in some kind of concrete cave, where pools of fire bubbled around him. He looked up and saw a cardboard cutout of a bewigged judge with the wings and horns of a demon. Two of the dolls he hoped he had left behind flew in on red, paper wings. One had a knife, and the other a red-hot pitchfork. The doll with the knife swooped down over one of the molten pools and held its blade underneath until it turned red-hot. Its companion ripped off Jake's shirt. The doll, with its static face seeming to grin in the flickering light, slashed a huge M for murderer on Jake's back. Jake made no sound. For days on end, the dolls brought every kind of blade, screw and whip down on his smoking skin. But Jake had been right. This was still better than listening to his children in the red room.

"I can't believe this," said a park worker who watched as the boats lurched back into their places in the dock. "How the fuck did they just miss somebody?"

"I say it's the interns," said another worker at her shoulder. She shook David by the shoulder.

"Hey, sleepy head. Ride's over."

"Oh, hall-LAY-looya," David said as the iron bars shot up with a shunk. "I thought we'd never get out. C'mon Lil. We made it out."

"Oh?" she said, as if she was sleep-talking. She turned to Jake. "Hey daddy! We're back."

Jake was deep asleep, but his eyes were wide open. One of the workers has said he looked like he was in deep shock.

"Excuse me sir," the worker said. "We need you to get out of the boat."

She shook him lightly. Jake came back to life with a spasm and a blood-curdling scream.

"Um, sir?" she asked.

Jake leaped out of the boat, grabbed his children as tightly as he could, and ran far away from the small world.

"Should we call someone?" one of the workers asked.

"Nah. An hour in there would do that to anybody."

Jake bought his kids ice cream bars and drove away. Even Lily was happy to get away from the park. All the way back he kept looking nervously out the windshield. He had to see if he could see the floodlights in the darkened ceiling. He had to see if there were rods and wires holding up the palm trees that lined the highway.

Jake called Carrie to explain she would need to pick up the kids early, and repeatedly refused to say why. He sent his children off, kissed his ex-wife goodbye, and tried to sleep. The next morning, he checked himself into a mental hospital. He says he is making real progress, and his doctor seems to be close to explaining his hallucination.

But they still can't explain the cauterized, M-shaped gash on his back.