Don’t sue me.
In the Belly of the Mouse
by Jason Donner
Arturo knew the moment he first exited the wormhole that he was about to do a header into a large and nasty looking puddle of rainwater and mud. It was one of those realizations that your brain has time to process and analyze fully even though you know that you don’t have the slightest chance of avoiding the inevitable.
He hit the water sending a miniature tidal wave splashing out in all directions. Quinn, Rembrandt, and Wade stood far enough away to avoid getting sprayed with muck.
Quinn walked over and helped the professor to his feet. Despite being covered from face to waste with brownish-black mud, he tried to keep a moniker of dignity about him.
Quinn Mallory, his prized pupil, struggled to keep a straight face as the wormhole snapped shut behind them. “Are you all right, professor?”
Arturo slung some mud off of his hand purposely getting some on Quinn’s shoe. “I am perfectly fine, Mister Mallory,” he said holding his head high. “It will take more than that to take away my self-respect.”
Wade walked over to him and pulled a piece of paper off of his back. “Then what about this?” she asked showing it to him.
He snatched the paper away from her and read it. “Kick me!?” He angrily threw the paper down. “Those insufferable little brats!”
“Kids will be kids, professor,” Rembrandt said to him.
They began to walk out of the alley and into the street. “And monsters will be monsters! That is the last time I take a job as a substitute junior high science teacher,” Arturo mumbled to himself wadding up the note and tossing it over his shoulder.
Quinn cocked his head. “Speaking of kids... does anyone else hear that music?”
“Sounds positively juvenile,” Arturo observed.
Wade listened to the music comprised of bells playing a happy tune. “Yeah, but it also sounds familiar too.” She listened some more and nodded. “Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Alice in Wonderland...”
“The song’s called Alice in Wonderland?” Arturo asked.
“No,” Wade replied, “The song’s from the movie Alice and Wonderland.” She started to sing silently. “Little bread and butterflies something, something... dah da dah da dah dah dut daaah. Dut dut dah dat dat dat dat daaah daaah dah... all in the golden afternoon.”
Quinn smiled. “Yeah, I remember that song now. It’s when Alice meets the giant flowers or something.”
“As I said,” Arturo continued, “positively juvenile.”
The four rounded the corner and stopped right in their tracks. Before them there was a parade filled with people in costumes and floats resembling friendly dragons and other fantastic creatures.
“You know what?” Quinn said with a smirk, “I think we’ve landed in Disneyland.”
Arturo was less than amused. “Wonderful,” he grumbled, “A gigantic artificial fantasy world designed to do nothing but separate blistering idiots from their money by touting itself as the happiest place on earth. I’d rather be sunbathing nude on ice-world earth.”
“You’d fit in, Mr. Cold-heart,” Wade replied. “How long are we here for, Quinn?”
Quinn looked at the timer. “Ten hours,” he said, “plenty of time to look around.”
“I got the cash,” Rembrandt said holding up a stack of hundred dollar bills.
“Where the devil did you get that?” the professor asked.
“From your severance pay, teach,” Rembrandt chuckled.
Arturo smiled. “Well, one nice thing about the last world… at least the teachers are well paid.” Then, as a barley audible grumble he added, “They’d have to be to be able to put up with those hellions!”
The group watched the parade go by. Wade stood on her tip-toes to see over the top of the crowd’s heads. Suddenly, Arturo felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned and saw a small man with glasses standing there. “Can I help you, sir?” Arturo asked.
“Actually, I was going to ask you the same thing,” the man said. “My name is Sebastian Howard. I’m a public relations official and I noticed that you seemed to have a little accident.”
Arturo looked down at himself. “Yes, I tripped and fell into a mud puddle down that alley.”
Sebastian Howard took a walkie talkie from his belt and clicked it on. “Unit four, unit four... mud puddle in sector one-four-seven. Alleyway nine-nine-G off of Dopey Drive. Request immediate clean up.”
“Roger Rabbit,” a voice crackled in reply.
“A clean up crew will be taking care of that puddle for you, Mister...?”
“Arturo. Professor Arturo, if you don’t mind.”
“Ah, a professor,” Howard said. “Are you in town for the ‘Make Flubber a Reality’ seminar?”
“Make flubber a reality?” Wade snorted in laughter.
“No,” Arturo said as if he was responding to an obscenity, “I am just here with friends… on a vacation.”
“Of course,” Howard said. “If you will come with me, Professor Arturo.”
“Why?” Quinn said walking in between the two men. “What’s he done wrong?”
Howard blinked. “Uh... He’s done nothing wrong, sir. I was just taking him to get a change of clothing. After all, we can’t have a professor for such obvious stature roaming around like that now, can we?” Howard smiled.
“Indeed we can not,” Arturo replied. He was beginning enjoying this.
Rembrandt pulled out two one-hundred dollar bills. “All right, how much will it cost us?”
“No cost,” Howard replied. “Consider it our way of saying sorry for having such a dangerous obstruction on the streets.”
“A mud puddle is a dangerous obstruction?” Wade said to herself.
Howard eyed the bills that Rembrandt held. “Besides sir, I’m afraid no shops here accept foreign currency.”
“Foreign currency?” Rembrandt echoed.
“California must not be inside the United States on this world,” Quinn silently told him. “We may be in Canada or something.” Quinn looked at Howard. “Is there a currency exchange around here somewhere?”
Howard nodded. “Public Relations Hall,” he said. “It’s where I am going to get the professor a change of clothing.”
“Great,” Quinn smiled. “Let’s go!”
It was a short walk to Public Relations Hall and, while Howard took Arturo for a change of clothing, Quinn, Rembrandt, and Wade stood in line at the currency exchange office.
“You know, something about this place is wrong,” Wade said.
Rembrandt looked at her. “Why do you say that?”
“Have you guys seen one ride since we got here?” she asked.
“No,” Remmy answered, “but we may be on Main Street or something. Come on, Wade... it’s Disneyland. Let your hair down and get ready to have a good time. You ever been in the Haunted Mansion before?”
“No,” Wade replied. “I’ve never been to Disneyland before.”
“Well then, you’re in for a treat,” Rembrandt told her. “Nine hundred and ninety-nine ghosts with room for one moooooooore!”
“Next!” the woman at the counter called out. Rembrandt walked up and smiled. “Can I help you with something, sir?”
“Hi,” Rembrandt said, “I’d like to exchange two-hundred dollars please.”
The teller looked at the bills. “American money? Exchange rate is 81 percent on the dollar.”
“That’s fine,” Rembrandt said.
The teller took the two one hundred dollar bills and counted out one hundred and sixty-two dollars of native money for Rembrandt who took the money, thanked her, and walked towards the other sliders. He stopped in his tracks and his jaw dropped to the ground.
“Guys?” He said holding up what looked like a ten dollar note. “Come here and take a look at this.”
Wade and Quinn walked over to him and looked at the bill. It was more colorful than American money with deep purples, blues, greens, yellows, and virtually every color in the rainbow. In the center of the bill was a picture of Simba from The Lion King.
“What is this?” Quinn asked. “Are these those Disney dollars I’ve been hearing about?”
Rembrandt said nothing. He just pointed to the sentence on the bottom of the bill.
“Disneyland: The Happiest Country on Earth”
Wade blinked. “Quinn, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
After a short wait in the lobby, Arturo finally emerged from an office door. He was wearing a pink T-shirt with a picture of Minnie Mouse on the front.
He quickly held a finger up in Quinn’s surprised face. “Not... one word, Mr. Mallory,” he said slowly and dangerously.
Quinn blinked. “I just...”
“ONE word!” Arturo said again. “This was the only style available in my size and the gentlemen seemed quite adamant that I not wear my soiled clothing. Where is the main gate? I wish to vacate this horrible park as soon as possible.”
“Well, that’s what Quinn was trying to tell you, professor,” Rembrandt explained, “there is no main gate.”
“What do you mean there is no main gate?” Arturo asked. “What kind of an amusement park is this?”
Quinn handed the professor a ten-dollar bill with a picture of Goofy on the front. “This isn’t an amusement park. Apparently, Disneyland is a sovereign country on this world.”
Arturo handled the bill with disbelief. “Good lord,” he said. “I’ve always suspected that we would slide to a world that was close to hell, but I never thought we would actually end up there!”
Wade stifled a laugh. “Oh, come on, professor, it won’t be so bad. We’ve only got another eight hours on this world. Personally, I’d like to see how this country was created.”
“A pact with Satan would be my first guess,” Arturo grumbled.
Outside, the faint sound of chimes ringing off an old Disney tune could be heard over the early noon air. “How long?” Arturo asked.
Quinn sighed. “Five minutes past the time you asked last time,” he told him. Finally, he check the timer for real, “Seven hours and thirty-two minutes.”
Arturo scoffed and mumbled something unintelligible. “It was seven and thirty-eight the last time I asked! This accursed slide is never going to end!”
“Well, why don’t we take in a flick to pass the time?” Rembrandt offered.
“Like what?” Arturo snapped smacking his hand up against the newspaper they had recently purchased. “‘The Lion King VI’? ‘Daughter of Mighty Joe Young’? ‘Return to the Black Hole’? ‘Tron III’?” Arturo raised an eyebrow. “Oh,” he said in a patronizing tone, “How about the on-stage production of The ‘Aristocats’ starring Liza Minelle and David Cassidy?” He threw the paper onto the sidewalk which Wade immediately scooped up.
“You know, professor, I’m having a difficult time ever picturing you as a kid,” she told him.
“Miss Welles,” he began, “my years as a child were spent in England during World War II. I had little time to be a child.”
“That explains your sunny disposition,” Wade retorted. Quinn cringed. He knew that Wade and Arturo were about to clash.
“I simply hate artificial environments,” the professor said calmly. “It’s one thing to have a small theme park tucked away on each coast of the United States, but a whole country? The thought is appalling.”
“So, you hate artificial environments?” Wade repeated. “That’s one of the things I’ve noted about you professor. You’re not impressed by glamour or extravagance. And you know what else I’ve noticed about you?”
Arturo looked at her. “What?”
“Pink... is definitely your color.”
The professor’s face turned a bright red (almost matching his T-shirt). “Miss Welles, I do not wish to speak to you for the rest of this slide.”
“Fine by me, Mister Grinch!” she returned.
It was then that Arturo bumped into a passerby on the sidewalk. It wasn’t a serious collision... neither man fell to the ground or even lost their balance, but the professor was already enraged. All he needed was a spark. “Oh, quit ogling this facade and watch where you’re going you blistering idiot!” he screamed.
“Look, professor, calm down...,” Quinn began.
“I will NOT calm down!” Arturo shouted. “The blithering ninny should have watched where he was going!”
The man seemed shocked by the professor’s display and quickly walked away.
“So,” Quinn said trying to put the most recent incident behind them, “what would everyone like to do until the wormhole opens?”
“Find a dark hole, crawl in it, and wait,” Arturo offered.
“Well, I want to find out how Disneyland became a country on this world,” Wade said.
Rembrandt raised an eyebrow obviously curious about the same thing. Finally, Arturo gave in. “Much like slowing down for a car wreck... you can’t help but take a look.” He sighed. “Where do you suppose the nearest library is located?”
“I saw one on the way up here,” Quinn recalled pointing ahead of them. “Up there.”
After a short walk, they arrived at the library. Another parade was starting and Arturo grimaced at the sight.
“Hey listen,” Rembrandt said, “I’m starving. How about you guys?”
Wade nodded. “Maybe we’d better grab a bite before we go in.”
“How about you, professor?” Quinn asked.
Arturo shook his head. “I lost my appetite,” was all he said.
Quinn, Wade, and Rembrandt darted across the street to a McDonald’s. Arturo squinted his eyes and saw that, instead of the golden arches, the restaurant was overlooked by giant statue of Donald Duck.
“Mc... Donald’s” Arturo whispered sarcastically to himself. “Oh... that’s cute.”
He hadn’t even noticed the black car that approached him on the street causing parade floats to steer around it. “Excuse me, sir,” a man in dark glasses and black clothing said as he got out of the vehicle.
“Yes, what do you want?” Arturo asked quite annoyed.
The man in black opened the rear door of the car and the short and nerdy passerby that Arturo had bumped into earlier that day got out.
“Is this him, sir?” the man in black asked the nerdy man.
“Yeah,” the man replied pushing his glasses back onto the bridge of his nose. “This is the guy who yelled at me. He called me a babbling idiot and a ninny. I’d recognize that pink Minnie Mouse shirt anywhere.”
Arturo rolled his eyes.
“Sir,” the man in black said turning his gaze on the professor, “did you call this man a ninny and a babbling idiot?”
“My dear fellow, I did not call this man a babbling idiot, I called him a blistering idiot,” Arturo simply said. “You see, there are a few select idiots who deserve to be called ‘blistering’ and, I assure you sir, this man is one of those idiots.”
The man in black didn’t seem amused. “Sir, you are aware of the civility laws of Disneyland, aren’t you? A copy should have been stuck in your immigration package.”
“I had no immigration package and, if I did, I can assure you that I would have found you a more creative place you could have stuck your civility rules.” Arturo was speaking purely out of temper. “Sir, I have certain rights and one of those rights is to inform blistering idiots like our wormy friend standing there that he is a blistering idiot.”
The man in black looked at his companion - another man dressed in black - who was already stepping out of the car. “Sir,” the man said taking out a pair of handcuffs. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to come with us.”
Arturo actually laughed at that. “Whatever the hell for?”
The other man in black grabbed Arturo’s hands and held them behind his back so the other could put the handcuffs on them. “For violating the Disneyland Civility Act of 1989 and for conduct unbecoming of a Disneyland citizen.”
“You’re arresting me because I lost my temper?” Arturo said in disbelief.
“Yes, but more importantly,” the other man in black explained, “we’re taking you in because you aren’t happy in the happiest country on earth!”
It was the first time Arturo had managed to get a good look into the face of the second man in black and, to put it mildly, he was more than a little stunned at who the man was.
“Bennish!?” Arturo said in disbelief.
Bennish removed his sunglasses and stared at the professor. On this world, he was clean cut, professional looking, and no facial hair. “Well,” Bennish said as a wave of recognition washed over his face, “Professor Arturo...,” he smirked, “...it’s a small world after all.”
Quinn, Rembrandt, and Wade made their way across the street and to where they had left the uncooperative Arturo sulking.
“Professor?” Wade called out. There was no answer. “Hmm,” she said taking the last sip of her milkshake, “probably inside.”
“Maybe we should go look for him,” Rembrandt offered sounding more than a little concerned.
Quinn only smiled, “C’mon Rembrandt,” he laughed, “we’re on a world run by Disney. What could possibly go wrong here?”
Arturo sat on the bed of his jail cell with his hands holding his throbbing head. He heard footsteps and looked up to see Bennish approaching. “Professor Arturo,” he said in a condescending tone, “You’re quite a ways away from Physics class, aren’t you? You know, I never would have figured you’d be one to loose your temper.”
“Mr. Bennish,” Arturo replied growing sick at the idea that his double was a willing participant of the farce going happening this world, “no matter where I go you are still a cancer on society and my backside. No wonder I should find you in this drug-induced fantasy land.”
Bennish seemed unaffected. “Well, proff,” he began, “You’re looking at some serious offenses here. Conduct unbecoming of a Disneyland citizen carries a stiff penalty.”
“And what penalty would that be?” Arturo shouted back. “Jail time for telling an idiot to watch where he was going! What sort of a idiotic society is this!?”
Bennish seemed genuinely surprised. “No, no jail...”
The professor smiled smugly.
“You’re going in for anger management therapy,” Bennish concluded.
“Anger... management?” Arturo echoed. “You’re sending me to a therapist.”
“A bad temper can be a dangerous thing,” Bennish explained, “just look what happened to Donald Duck in Tea for Two-Thousand. Of course, I don’t have to explain that to you... I mean, you cited that episode often in your teachings on nuclear fission.” Bennish turned to leave but stopped and pointed to a television inside Arturo’s cell. “Oh... don’t forget, they’re showing Fantasia on rehab TV. It’s mandatory for you to watch. After the movie, we’re going to get you the best anger management guy we’ve got.” He waved. “Get better soon, proff.”
Arturo sank down onto his bed, put his head in his hands and as the dancing mushroom sequence began, and contemplated suicide.
Quinn leafed through the oversized purple book with gold lettering. It wasn’t a normal run-of-the-mill history book, but under the circumstances, it would do.
“Here’s what I’ve figured out so far,” he announced causing the librarian to make yet another warning about the noise level with a prolonged “shhhhhh”. Quinn waved an apology and continued. “Back in the fifties, Disneyland opened and it was a huge success just like on our homeworld. In the sixties, there was a massive economic depression and the United States government almost collapsed. Some of the land in the US went to the highest bidder to pay off debts… bought up by Canada, Britain, Mexico, Japan, and so on. The Disney company bought most of California and declared itself a sovereign nation. Walt Disney apparently had delusions of grandeur here. Saw himself as a George Washington figure.”
Rembrandt looked back at a large portrait of Walt Disney hanging on a wall. “Yeah,” he smirked, “George Washington with a talking rodent as a mascot.”
“Listen to this,” Wade said leafing through another book. “Listen to some of the laws they have here: It is unlawful to import entertainment from foreign sources. Only entertainment from the Walt Disney Company or one of it’s holdings is permitted. It is unlawful to possess attire advertising the entertainment holdings of a company that is not Walt Disney.” She turned a few more pages. “Not much for competition, are they?” she mumbled. After a second, she looked at another page. “Possession of firearms by any person is illegal and punishable by ten years imprisonment. It is also illegal to possess any and all weapons that may do harm to another.” She turned the page. “Civility laws: No one may do harm to another. It is illegal for one to knowingly do harm to the self-esteem of another.” Wade giggled to herself. “It... it is unlawful for one to enact public displays of lewdness, hostility, wrath, or filth.”
“They got just about everything covered, don’t they?” Rembrandt laughed.
Quinn joined Wade and Rembrandt’s chortling. “Who... Who would want to live in a place like this?”
“Think about it,” Wade chuckled, “You can’t... you can’t swear!”
“You can’t get mad!” Quinn added, giggling.
Rembrandt tried to keep his laughter bottled, but only ended up snorting, “You can’t even lose your temper!”
The three of them stopped and the library grew deadly silent.
“Professor!” Wade gasped.
Professor Arturo huffed as he reclined on the sofa. “What do you mean you want to know about my childhood?”
The therapist that had been assigned to him smiled softly. The sunlight made her black hair seem radiant and the woman was quite lovely. “Professor,” she said, “many anger problems can be traced back to events in your adolescence. Perhaps you mother or father or...”
“My mother was killed in World War II when I was young and I never had much of a relationship with my father.” Arturo snapped.
“I’m sorry to hear that, but that could be much of your problem.”
Arturo stared at her. “Explain yourself, madam.”
“Well, it appears you’ve missed out on much of the nurturing that comes from your parents. Your recent lack of people skills and tact could be that need resurfacing in you.”
Arturo continued to stare at her. His jaw hung open. “Good lord...,” he said, “You may be a quack, but you’re making sense!”
“I think I’ll take that as a compliment,” the therapist replied. “Professor, I know that life here in Disneyland can be hard at times particularly with the civility laws and such... but we have a good place here. There’s little crime, no homelessness, and our children are safe. Give it a chance, okay?”
Arturo inhaled. He had no intention of giving Disneyland anything much less a chance, but if he didn’t tell this therapist what she wanted to hear, he would likely miss the slide. “Oh yes,” he said, “I have been such a fool to lose my temper the way I did... Oh, I hope that man I accosted wasn’t hurt personally.”
“No,” the therapist smiled, “he’s getting therapy for the incident as well.”
“Typical,” Arturo mumbled.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I said that’s wonderful,” Arturo spoke louder.
“Professor Arturo,” the therapist beamed, “I must say your progress is remarkable!”
“I just want to return to being a productive member of this wonderful society,” Arturo replied, wanting to bite through a steel cable.
“And you will,” she answered, “but first you must hear the speech.”
“The speech. The one that all citizens of Disneyland must hear. It is the cornerstone of our society” The therapist cleared her throat. “We are all part of each other, Professor Arturo, in the great circle of life...”
Arturo sank back onto the couch, moaning silently.
“You can’t do this to me! I’m a citizen!”
Rembrandt’s wails drew attention from everyone in the waiting area. Quinn and Wade, both wearing uniforms they had “borrowed” from some workers they had happened across held him by the arms.
“Get me the head psychiatrist!” Quinn bellowed.
“I got soul! I got soul! Tears in my fro, man! Tears in my fro!” Rembrandt continued in a crazed howl.
A man wearing a Tigger neck tie raced to great them. “What’s going on here!?”
“He’s had a breakdown! We don’t know what’s happened to him!” Wade explained.
“Just… Just a spoon-full of sugaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!” Rembrandt screamed.
“We couldn’t leave him on the streets!” Quinn hollered. “He was disrupting everyone’s enjoyment!”
“Indeed you could not!” The man with the Tigger tie exclaimed. “Our psychiatrist is busy with a patient at the moment… perhaps you could take this man to another…”
Quinn held onto Rembrandt tighter. “You really want this man back on the streets?”
The man in the Tigger tie ran through his options. “Doctor Funicello will be finished with her patient in a few hours,” he explained, “take this man to waiting room #4 and I’ll send her to you as soon as I can!”
“Donald Duck got herpes!”
The man in the Tigger tie cast Rembrandt a sorrowful glance as Wade and Quinn dragged his convulsing form down the hall. “Poor man,” he whispered.
Quinn, Wade, and Remmy got around the corner and instantly ducked into a broom closet. “Donald Duck has herpes?” Wade said smacking Rembrandt on the arm. “I had to bite my lip, I wanted to laugh so hard!”
“It was all I could think of, girl!” Rembrandt retorted. “You play the crazy guy next time and see how well you do!”
“Okay,” Quinn whispered, “We’re inside. Now, how are we going to get the professor out of here in five hours?”
“Yeah, getting in was easy… getting out’s going to be another thing,” Wade agreed.
“Easier to act crazy than sane, huh?” Quinn huffed.
Rembrandt raised a hand to silence them. “Someone’s coming!” he said.
The three of them flattened against the side of the closet. Quinn managed to crack the door open to see two uniformed men escorting – or all things – a person in a Goofy costume through the hall.
“Stay here,” one of the uniforms said to the man in the Goofy suit. “We’ll get the necessary papers drawn up and then you’ll be on your way.”
The person in the Goofy suit nodded as the two men walked around a corner.
Quinn smiled a wicked smile. “Ladies and gentlemen, inspiration has just struck.”
“OH MY GOD, HONEY! IT’S GOOFY!” Wade squealed in delight dragging Quinn behind her by the arm.
The person in the Goofy suit whirled around and immediately began playing the part, waving and acting like the cartoon character.
Wade let go of Quinn and wrapped her arms around the costumed entertainer in a great big hug. “Oh, Goofy! You’ve always been my favorite ever since I was a kid!”
With exaggerated gestures, the person in the Goofy costume put his hands on his eyes and cheeks signaling embarrassment.
Wade huffed. “Oh, how I wish I would have brought my camera with me. Quinn, you could have taken our picture together. Oh, Goofy… you don’t know how much this means to me!”
Goofy playfully patted Wade on the head and then looked at Quinn who just shrugged.
“Goofy,” Wade began, “can I tell you a little secret?”
Goofy nodded and then held his hand up to his ear.
Wade lifted up the floppy fabric ear and whispered ever so softly in the most sensual tone she could, “Goofy makes me hot.”
Goofy looked at her. “Huh?” a female voice replied from within the suit.
BAM! One quick bow to the back of the head courtesy of Rembrandt Brown and a folding chair and Goofy went down.
Quinn, Wade, and Rembrandt grabbed the costumed entertainer by the arms and dragged Goofy into the janitor’s closet. It was pure luck that a pair of passing workers didn’t notice the giant pair of red shoes disappearing into the closet.
Quinn pulled Goofy’s head off.
“It’s a woman!” Wade said in amazement. “I can’t believe I just came on to a woman.”
“I can’t believe you just came on to Goofy,” Rembrandt replied.
Quinn was pulling the costume off of the unconscious woman. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” he said, “Now, a little help here?” He looked up and saw a janitor’s rack on wheels with a large basket for laundry.
“Inspiration,” he said, “has just struck again.”
Arturo paced back and forth like a caged animal in the psychiatrist’s office as scenes from Snow White played on a nearby television monitor. He had to mentally kick himself when he began to hum along with the tune.
There was a knock, and the door opened. Quinn, Rembrandt, and Wade filed in with the janitors rack.
Arturo was flabbergasted. “How the hell did you…!?”
“Quiet professor,” Wade hushed him. “Civility laws, remember? Mickey Mouse is watching you!”
“Har, Har,” Arturo replied. “I must say, that I am glad to see you all. This has been a nightmare for me! I trust you convinced the authorities to release me?”
Quinn’s eyes shifted from side to side. “Uh… not exactly.”
“What do you mean? Are you breaking me out?”
“Not unless you’d rather stay here and be their guest,” Rembrandt told him.
“…and put their service to the test? I think not!” Arturo quickly answered. “What’s the plan?”
Quinn pulled a large sheet that was covering the laundry basket. Arturo looked inside.
“No…,” he said.
Quinn smiled and nodded.
“No…,” he said again.
Quinn smiled, “Yes!”
Arturo looked as if he was going to cry. “Oh, please god, no!”
In the hallway, Rembrandt’s head poked out of a doorway and looked around. “All clear,” he reported.
Wade and Quinn joined him. After a minute, they looked back into the room they had departed. “Come on, professor!” Wade said.
Goofy emerged. He joined the other sliders and put his hands on his hips. “I feel positively ridiculous,” he complained.
“You look positively ridiculous,” Rembrandt replied.
Wade slapped Rembrandt on the arm to shut him up. “You look fine, professor, and it’s just until we get you out of here then you can dump the costume. Now remember, act like a cartoon character at all times and whatever you do, don’t say a word. With any luck we’ll be out of here in a jiffy.”
It was then that the two uniforms showed up.
“Goofy, where have you been? We’ve been looking everywhere for you!”
Goofy looked at the men, then at the sliders, and then back at the men and shrugged.
“Well, come on! We’ve got the final paperwork completed and you’re good to go,” one of the uniforms said taking Goofy by the arm and leading him down the hall.
Wade ran up to them. “E-Excuse me,” she said with a smile, “Uh… We’re… We’re big Goofy fans and w-we were just wondering where you’re taking him.”
One of the uniforms smiled. “The Dumbo-Dome,” he said, “The big anniversary gala for the premiere of Steamboat Willy.”
“Steamboat Willy,” Wade echoed. “Right.”
“Well, we must be going,” the other uniform said. The sliders followed them outside where they escorted Goofy into pink van full of other costumed entertainers. Mickey, Donald, Minnie, Pooh Bear, and many many more. They watched the van pull away and drive down the road. Through the back glass, Goofy peered out with a longfull look in his giant vacant plastic eyes.
Rembrandt rubbed his temples. “This just keeps getting better and better.”
Professor Maximillion Arturo, professor of cosmology and ontology had never felt more uncomfortable in his entire life. For one thing, he had been stuffed inside a costume that was too small for him, his sides were compressed and being pinched by combinations of zippers and plastics, he was hot as the Goofy costume had not been designed with ventilation in mind, and – on top of all of this – he was sitting next to Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto who each sat facing the front staring out into nothingness with their big, shiny, lifeless plastic eyes. Not a one of them said a word, nodded in acknowledgement of each other, or even appeared to be alive. They just sit quietly as the van carried them all down the road.
Arturo, on the other hand, fidgeted. He wanted to scream. He wanted to kick Mickey Mouse in the head. He wanted to punch Minnie in the face. He wanted to tear Donald’s heart out with his teeth. Never had he been so humiliated… never had he been so stripped of dignity… and never had he ever had to use the restroom as bad as he did at that moment.
He did some mental calculations. At this point, there was only thirty minutes until the slide and his friends were nowhere to be seen. He told himself to relax, after all they had cut it close before, meeting with only seconds to spare. It was as if they had developed a sixth sense warning them when the window of opportunity was near.
Still, he had no idea where he was going. One of his escorts, the man driving the van, had told Wade that he was taking him to the Dumbo-Dome for some kind of celebration of Steamboat Billy or something along those lines. Arturo didn’t have the foggiest what a Steamboat Billy was or knew anything of its significance. All he knew was that he was on the way to the celebration and, for some horrible, horrible deep down reason, he knew that there were going to be thousands of people there and he was going to be the star of the show.
In the spotlight with no idea what to do or where to go. Boy, if loosing your temper and yelling at someone was cause for forced therapy, he hated to think of what assaulting a woman in a Goofy costume and disrupting a public event was going to get him.
In the distance, he saw a large enclosed coliseum come into view. He squinted and tried to get a better look through the plastic eyes of the giant cumbersome mask he was wearing.
Yes… Yes, they were.
On top of the giant enclosed dome, there were two giant mouse ears.
Arturo leaned back and sighed as the van pulled into the parking area that was already full of vehicles. Obviously, the celebration was already underway. Well, at least the audience is going to get more that they paid for, Arturo thought. I wonder how parents will explain to their children the reason why Goofy was dragged away and beaten by police?
Arturo’s vindictive side tingled. If he was going down, he was taking the wholesome image of this fantasy crap land with him.
The van came to a stop near a service entrance. The driver exited the vehicle and opened the side door, motioning for the costumed actors to get out. Arturo was the first out followed by the other Disney characters.
“Good show, guys,” the driver said opening the service door for them.
The costumed actors obediently shuffled inside. Only Arturo remained behind.
“Come on, Goofy,” the driver said, “Your public awaits.”
Arturo hesitated for only a moment and then went inside. Perhaps if he was lucky, he could ditch the costume and escape in his civilian attire. Surely, that would be a sound plan.
His heart crashed to the floor as soon as he entered the doorway. There must have been dozens of security personnel and technicians and not a single place to hide and de-costume. “Well, such are the plans of mice and men,” Arturo whispered to himself.
About that time, Mickey Mouse brushed past him and it took every iota of restraint the professor had not to trip him.
More mental calculations. Approximately fifteen minutes until the slide and there was a sizable security force between him and his comrades. Yes, this was going to get uglier before it got better.
He spent a few minutes milling around looking for a place – anyplace – to ditch the costume and get away. No such luck, of course, and it seemed like only a few seconds before a prissy little man was walking through the costumed actors clapping his hands and yelling “Places! Places!”
The director looked at Arturo and huffed. “You must be the replacement Goofy,” he said, “Look, I know you’ve had little time to prepare since our first Goofy came down with that flu that’s been going around, but you are a professional and you should be fine.” He put his hand on Arturo’s shoulder and pointed out towards the stage. “It’s quite simple,” the director explained, “all you have to do is follow the narration from the loudspeaker. Just… find your inner Goofy and go with it!”
Arturo looked at the director and stuck his tongue out at him. A juvenile gesture, but it was a gesture that no one could see under the mask.
“I’m glad you understand,” he said shaking his shoulders. “Break a leg.”
The director turned around and left. Arturo glanced back out onto the stage and saw the audience. My god, there really were thousands of them! He had faced dinosaurs, asteroids, tidal waves, and evil doppelgangers… but all of that was nothing compared to stage fright. How does Rembrandt do it? He asked himself.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, an amplified voiced echoed throughout the arena, please rise for our national anthem.”
Arturo, unsure of what to do, placed his right hand over his heart drawing curious stares from the seven dwarfs and supporting furniture and fixtures from Beauty and the Beast. He quickly put his hand back down.
The professor glanced out on the stage. A short, white haired man was standing there in a tuxedo. It was someone familiar… Oh my lord, he thought, that’s Mel Tormè!
Mel Tormè smiled cordially at the audience and then began to sing.
“When you wish upon a star,
Makes no difference who you are,
When you wish upon a star,
Your dreams come true…”
Tormè continued to sing the old Disney tune beautifully and when he was finished and the crowd was cheering, he bowed politely and walked off the stage right past Arturo.
“I hate that damn song,” Mel Tormè mumbled to himself as he slipped past. Arturo couldn’t help but chuckle.
His chuckling was cut short by the announcer. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Welcome to the Steamboat Willy anniversary gala! With Mickey Mouse…!”
The actor in the Mickey Mouse suit ran onto the stage and cheerfully waved to the audience.
Minnie Mouse followed giving Mickey a kiss on the cheek and a wave to the crowd.
Donald ran onto the stage and into the spotlight which began to drift away from him. Donald chased it, but every time he got into the light, it would move again.
Arturo stood there for a moment until someone shoved him. “That’s you!”
The professor bumbled onto the stage, froze in his tracks, and stared at the cheering audience. After standing as still as a statue for a moment, he managed a pathetic wave before Mickey and Minnie dragged him to the center of the stage where the characters were congregating.
“Ha, ha,” an amplified Mickey Mouse voice said. The actor in the Mickey Mouse suit acted along as if he was saying the words. “Thank you all for coming. It’s sure has been swell here, hasn’t it Goofy?”
Arturo shook his head and shrugged.
“Ah-huyk! It sure has, Mickey!” an amplified Goofy voice answered. “Especially this past year with all of the great Disney features that’ve come out!”
“Goofy’s right,” Minnie’s voice replied. “Of course the big news is that the Vatican is now officially considering our request to have the great Walt Disney canonized as a saint!”
A cheer rose from the crowd.
“Trade relations with other countries are up, and the deal to buy more land from our neighbor, the United States, is almost a done deal!” Mickey added. “Yes indeedy, ours is the greatest way of life on the globe.”
“Aw, phooey!” an amplified Donald Duck protested. “Enough of this! The big news this year is me!”
Mickey looked at him. “You? What have you been up to, Donald?”
“What the devil did he just say?” Arturo mumbled from inside his costume.
Donald Duck stepped in front of Mickey and addressed the crowd. “I have created my very own band!”
“You’re very own band?” Minnie replied. “Oh, how very nice for you!”
“Yeah, and their first album will be hitting stores by Christmas!” Goofy told them. Arturo winced every time he had to “say” something.
“Well, what do you call this band, Donald?” Mickey asked.
“Well, my nephews are in it. Hewey, Dewey, and Louie, and they call themselves The Quackstreet Boys.”
The announcer spoke again. “Would you like to see the Quackstreet Boys play, boys and girls?”
Cheers rose from the audience.
“Goofy,” Donald quacked, “Where are the boys at?”
“Why – ah-hyuk - they’re behind that curtain!” Arturo, trying to play along, pointed to the right side of the stage. The curtain on the left side of the stage opened.
There were three more costumed performers dressed up as Hewey, Dewie, and Louie dressed in “hip” clothing and each on a different instrument. One on guitar, one on keyboard, and one on drums. The performers mimicked playing the instruments even though it was plainly clear that the music was pre-recorded and coming from the loudspeakers. The crowds didn’t seem to mind at all.
When the dreadful boy-band sing-song was over, the audience went nuts cheering and hollering. The three ducks bowed throwing their hands into the air soaking in the congratulations.
Then, one of them reached into a pocket and took out the timer, pointed it at Goofy, and activated it.
The blue wormhole formed right in the middle of the stage. Mickey, Minnie, and Donald all backed up in fright and the director raced out on stage in a panic.
Hewey motioned at Arturo. “Professor, come on!”
It was the voice of Quinn Mallory. That half-mad, half-crazed, totally brilliant brat! Arturo instantly deduced that Dewey and Louie were Wade and Rembrandt. The three ducks flew towards the wormhole and leaped inside disappearing in a brilliant flash.
“What!? What’s going on here!?” The director demanded. “My show is RUINED!”
“Look,” Arturo said breaking character, “This is hard to explain, but I am a traveler going from world to world where things and event are different each time. I’m not supposed to be here and I’m sorry about your show, but,” the professor paused looking for the right tactful phrase. “Well, it was stupid anyway.”
And with that, Goofy jumped into the wormhole which snapped shut a few seconds later. The crowd loved it and applauded wildly. The director only scratched his chin in silent thought.
It was several weeks later. Arturo sat under a shady canopy sipping a glass of iced tea while several beautiful dark-skinned beauties washed his feet. The head of the Goofy costume sat on an alter nearby surrounded by candles and offerings of fruit.
He thought back to the night of the performance. What clever friends he had! Instead of going directly to the show, they correctly assumed that there must be other costumed performers in the building and it wasn’t long until they found Hewey, Dewey, and Louie. The flue epidemic had sidelined the original players, just as it had sidelined the original Goofy, and the three were waiting to be taken to the Dumbo-Dome as Arturo had been.
Unfortunately, they had met a little fowl luck in the form of Quinn, Rembrandt, and Wade who stole their costumes and were driven to the celebration themselves. Instead of risking capture by the authorities for disrupting the show, they became stars in the show itself.
Brilliant. Absolutely bloody brilliant.
“I’m telling you, professor,” Rembrandt said from a nearby cot. “We shouldn’t be taking advantage of these people like this. It’ll come back and bite us in the butt when we least expect it!”
Arturo sighed. “Mister Brown, I took it as a sign when we arrived on this world in those ridiculous costumes and the simple natives assumed I was their dog-god and you where my winged escorts. So they want to cater to our every whim? Let them! Let them appease Carufia, the God!”
“It’s bad Karma, professor,” Wade cautioned.
“Karma is merely a balance,” Arturo said, “I went through hell on the last world and the cosmic forces of the universe have seen to it that this world is heavenly to keep the great scales in balance. Don’t speak to me of bad Karma.”
“Still,” Quinn cautioned. “We should be careful. You never know what might…”
The chief appeared. He was an imposing man of ebony skin who stood a full foot taller than any of them. Thanks to explorers from Europe, he could speak broken English. “Carufia,” he said. “Time have come.”
“Time have come for what?” Arturo asked, annoyed.
“Time have come for Carufia to still smoking hill,” the chief said.
“Still smoking hill?” Arturo repeated. “My dear chief, I don’t have the foggiest what you—“
The ground rumbled. In the distance, a mountain, which had been peaceful until then, began to billow smoke and ash.
“You still smoking hill now,” the chief said.
“Professor,” Rembrandt whispered. “He wants you to stop the volcano.”
“And just how do you expect me to stop the smoking hill?” Arturo said standing in front of the chief on his tip-toes so he could look him in the eye.
“You must fight Volvagia, God of Fire.”
“And where do I find this Volvagia?” Arturo asked.
With that, the largest members of the tribe picked Arturo up and began carrying him.
“Volvagia in smoking hill. You go in smoking hill.”
Quinn, Rembrandt, and Wade watched them carry the screaming professor away.
“Think he’ll be mad when he finds out that we set all of this up with the chief?” Rembrandt asked.
“Let him,” Wade laughed. “After the baby he was during the last slide, he deserves a little scare! It all comes back to you, professor… and that is the way of the great circle of life.”
“Alternate worlds?” the director said to himself as he watched the unknown man in the Goofy costume leap into the wormhole and dissapear.
It was within weeks that the director approached Disney with the idea of a new cartoon featuring Goofy traveling to alternate universes. Goofy’s Interdimensional Voyages was given the green light and had a successful first season attracting a large fan base of young viewers. The executives at Disney Channel 5 decided to improve the show in it’s second and third season by adding new characters and getting rid of characters they thought were boring. Soon, they began to borrow plots from existing Disney movies as templates for scripts and it wasn’t long until the entire premise of the show was scrapped for a “fresher” approach that had Goofy trying to liberate his home earth from Captain Hook, Creulla DeVile, and the Evil Stepmother from Cinderella. It wasn’t long until the show was cancelled at the end of it’s 5th season by the very network that ruined it in the first place leaving the loyal fans with a unresolved cliffhanger and the small chance that a feature film would be made somewhere down the road.
This one act by Disney created a spark of dissent among a small number of the population that grew and grew over time. Fanned by flames of youth and rebellion, the dissatisfaction with the sterile Disney way of life grew stronger with each passing decade until concessions were finally made in the government allowing greater freedom of expression among the people and breaking the Disney monopoly in the country allowing foreign goods on the market. Eventually, the widespread reforms helped the Republic of Disneyland become the largest world superpower, its borders stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic encompassing all of the land the now-defunct United States of America had claimed.
Disneyland’s influence swayed the UN into taking a more active peacekeeping force. It’s sheer presence at the bargaining table convinced people who had been at war for centuries to put their differences behind them and using technology acquired from experimentation and research at the EPCOT facilities around the world, Disney scientists eventually wiped out starvation in 3rd world countries by transforming the barren Sahara Desert into thriving farmland.
By the close of the 21st century, the world was at peace. No one feared to walk into a dark alley, no child cried from hunger, and no one was judged by their beliefs, skin color, or sex again.
Walt Disney was officially declared a saint, and Goofy’s Interdimensional Voyages: The Movie was finally made.
It was crap.
(That means it's over!)