I never suspected anything – no one did. I mean, did you? When you went, did you? See, that’s how I know how good they were – I don’t even have to ask you if you went. Everyone went. And lots of people went more than once, even. Even celebrities went. Pro athletes, famous actresses. People from Turkey and China and Panama and Germany. The Japanese always get the worst sunburns. And you could always tell the Germans because they went through all the rides counter clockwise to avoid the lines – very efficient, those Germans.
So I was like everyone else, thinking it was just the happiest place on earth, right? Except you know, that’s just for visitors, really. For them, sure, it’s pretty happy. No trash on the sidewalks, no muggers, no drunk daddy calling you a no-good good-for-nothing, no sister pregnant in the ninth grade, no cousin busted for digging a basement under his double wide and making meth. For visitors, its just sunshine and mouse-eared ice cream and how can we help you sir and bathrooms that have sensors so you don’t have to touch the flusher or the faucet handle or the towel dispenser or even the door. As long as you don’t mind paying nineteen bucks for a burger, it’s all good.
Everyone keeps asking me when I first knew something was wrong, but I’m telling you, those boys are good. I never had even a whiff that things weren’t what they seemed, not until that day I got stung by the bee. I’m allergic, you see. When I was a little kid I threw a baseball at a beehive. The only reason I did it was I didn’t think I could hit it in a million years. I just saw it hanging there and that’s what kids do when they see something like that – they throw the nearest thing they can find.
Well, I hit it dead center and it pretty much erupted in bees. I ran but no little kid can outrun a horde of angry bees, man – it was like a cartoon where I was running in slow motion and the bees were after me in the shape of a great big arrow – a great big pissed off arrow. I got stung eighty six times and it nearly killed me. Seriously. I made it home and passed out and woke up four days later – a coma, they said. Now I have to carry around this epinephrine injector like they had in that movie where they stabbed that famous model – the one with the funny name like Oompa or whatever – where that Sweathog guy stabs her right in the chest with the big fucking needle? Remember that? That’s the same stuff I have to stick in me if I ever get stung again, or else my heart could stop.
So I guess I got stung – I didn’t feel it ‘til it happened. Of course I knew there were bees around, but in spite of my affliction I didn’t consider it a hazardous job, being a groundskeeper in the happiest place on earth. Bees only go after you if you piss them off. I wasn’t planning on throwing anymore baseballs at any more hives so I figured I was safe. And I was, for thirty-three years.
And then I guess my luck ran out and some bee crawled up my overall pant leg while I was taking a nap – that’s allowed, you know, union gives us two twenty minute breaks, one before lunch, one after – and well I guess the bee panicked when it tried to fly and couldn’t, and it stung me, just before I killed it by going bam, just like that with my hand on my thigh.
I knew right away what had happenend but like a dumb shit I didn’t have my epinephrine with me, it was in my locker. I jumped up thinking I would go get it and quick, and that was the last thought I remember having before I woke up to hear them. I passed out right there under the bleachers where they hold the Wild West Pet Show. Have you seen that? It’s a real cute show, all dogs and cats living in a little bitty town just like they’re people, even driving cars and getting mail and ringing the bell to go to church and stuff.
The animals are all from the animal shelter which makes everyone go awww but come to think of it is sort of sinsister. I mean, who misses an animal from the shelter that runs off or dies or just doesn’t show up for work at the Wild West show anymore? No one, that’s who. I wonder if they were eating them. I bet they were. Holy cow I can’t believe it’s the first time I thought of that.
So anyway I wake up and there’s like seven of them meeting. I guess they were under row fifteen or so – there was enough light coming through the seats I could see who all of them were pretty clear – plus it’s not hard given the size of their heads. It was Sleepy and Grumpy – or maybe Doc, I always get those two mixed up – and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Also Donkey – you know, from Shrek – and Pebbles Flintstone, but not Bam-Bam. I looked for Fred but didn’t see him either.
There was Lisa and Homer Simpson, and Woody from Toy Story. Then there was Huey, and I think Louie, but not Dewey, and Minnie Mouse – that was pretty shocking, you know? Like finding out Santa works for Osama bin Laden.
Strangest of all was Shamu – he didn’t even belong at the park, he must’ve come over from Sea World, a good four miles away.
I was lying about fifty yards away – maybe row three. It was late in the day and real shadowy, so they didn’t know I was there. Christ I hate to think what would have happened to me if they’d copped to me being there.
So they’re talking and it takes me a moment to realize they aren’t talking English but some other language. Real high pitched noises that sounded like every vowel you never heard of, and no consonants at all. And they’re acting funny – not happy (even though they have those permanent smiles, I wasn’t fooled). There was a lot of tension in the air, you could really feel it. They were whipping their big heads all around in a frenzy. Like they knew someone was coming – maybe they did. Maybe they have a super sensitive sense of smell, or hearing, though I don’t know how since their heads are made of velour.
And then it happened. Donald Duck and Goofy come walking up and they’re each holding the hand of this cute little guy, Christ, he couldn’t have been more than six. Little blonde tyke with a red baseball hat and a striped shirt that has Sponge Bob on it. Thank God Sponge Bob wasn’t in on it – I’d hate to think that little guy suffered any more than I know he did. You’re that age, the betrayal of trust, the destruction of innocence – that hurts as much as your guts being ripped out, I think. Worse, even.
Sorry for being graphic there, I’m trying to just get this out. So the little boy just walks right into the middle of them, happy and excited, and they fell on him. The sounds they made – I can’t describe them. It was incredibly savage. Inhuman. Which of course they were. They ate him up man – everything. Even his Sponge Bob shirt, even his shoes.
When they were done, they all high fived only most of them only have three of four fingers on those big cartoon glove hands they all have (another sinister thing, when you think about it). They seemed a lot less stressed. Then they all went off in a line, whistling that Hi Ho song from Snow White and giving each other the thumbs up and okey dokey signs, and waving at little kids.
I was so scared I laid there for maybe four hours before I could bring myself to get up. I was so scared they’d come back. But finally my legs stopped shaking enough I could get up. I went over to where it happened – there was a slick dark spot in the grass, and the little red baseball hat. I picked the hat up and put it in my pocket. I could have cried at how little it was.
It was dark and the park was closed. I didn’t dare walk out in the open – I ran from bush to bush, from concession to concession. I had to climb a wooden fence out back behind the castle. Stood on a bunch of crates filled with faulty Tinkerbells – at first I thought those boxes were filled with dead little girls, and I nearly had a heart attack. Then it started to rain. I took cover in a bus shelter but it was too well lit. I felt uneasy waiting there for a bus like I was in a spotlight.
So I walked. It was a long walk – more than fifteen miles all told, but I went straight home – I explained this was because my dad’s a cop. Right? Actually chief detective. You gotta be the best to make chief detective, the type of person who makes a lot of sacrifices, never seeing his family and stuff so that he can protect innocent people like that little tyke at the park.
So I got home around one in the morning and right away told my dad but I was bawling pretty hard by now, and dad wasn’t in any mood to listen to any of my craziness as he put it. I put the little tyke’s hat on the table and then went to my room to write it all down. I knew it would be important to get the story straight, because there’d be lots of questions. People would want to know – hell, they need to know. So when the rerun of the news came on and when they introduced the story of the missing boy and put up the picture of him, my dad saw that the little guy’s hat was the same one as the one I laid on the dining room table. He also saw it had blood on it, and that’s when I finally got his attention.
He drove me to the station hisself, and gave me this pad to write out the story on. My hands are still shaking so bad, my handwriting isn’t for shit, but now that I’ve got it all down, I feel a little better. I wonder if those things are like zombies, where you have to shoot them in the head to kill them. I wonder if they’ve digested that little tyke already. I wonder where they came from, and what they want, other than to feed on our happiness. I can still hardly believe it, even though I saw it with my own eyes. If I didn’t have the bloody little hat as proof, I wouldn’t believe it. I mean, would you?