by Angela Kempe
“This is going to be fun!”
“I hate long lines.”
“It’s only seventy minutes.”
Vanessa looked down at the kids.
“Seventy minutes is a long time,” she said, cynically.
The kids were behaving for the moment, but other children were already climbing along the fence, sitting on the railing, and wreaking havoc, and she knew it was only a matter of time before hers joined in.
“Don’t you dare!” she warned.
JJ looked up at his mother and smiled maliciously.
“Just listen to the music,” Kenny said, trying to calm her.
“What is this?”
“This is the happiest place on Earth. It’s dwarf music!”
Vanessa listened to the simple melody shouting against the noise of the crowd. It was giving her a migraine, but she decided to drop the subject. The line slowly winded into a cool cavern, built from cement, but painted and carved to resemble wood. The noise of the crowd washed over her. The kids busied themselves by playing with the game consoles scattered throughout the line. Vanessa could hear the faint sound of screaming filtering through the noisy crowd.
“It must be a scary ride,” she reported.
“Why do you say that?”
“I can hear screaming.”
Kenny tried to listen, but was distracted by a mining game. He tried to match up the jewels on the touch screen and then confessed, “I hope it isn’t much longer. I have to use the bathroom.”
Vanessa peered ahead. The line only bent into darkness.
“I think that time was wrong. It’s been more than an hour and I can’t see the end.”
“I really have to pee!”
Kenny and Vanessa searched for the end of the line.
“Just get out of line.”
“I don’t see an exit. Plus I waited too long. It’s been two hours. I’m going on this ride!”
“Mommy, I’m tired,” Arianna complained, tugging at Vanessa’s shirt.
“Just a little bit longer.”
“I can’t carry you. Walk.”
Arianna sat down defiantly.
Vanessa tried lifting her heavy body. Then gave up, exhausted.
“We’re almost there. Can’t you hear that?”
The screams were getting louder.
The line inched forward. Vanessa left Arianna sitting against the cold wall.
But the threat didn’t phase her. She nudged herself over to her mother on her bottom.
“Hear that?” a hefty man turned back towards them.
Kenny chimed in.
“I heard this is worth the wait.”
“It’d better be worth the wait,” said the stranger.
“Okay, I have to go.”
He was referring to peeing.
“Just wait a little longer,” Vanessa begged.
“I’m going to pee my pants!”
“You can hold it, please! Don’t let me alone with these kids!”
Kenny stuffed his hands in his jean pockets, defeated.
The line folded and twisted through the cold cavern, descending deeper and deeper underground. The children began first; complaining, crying. Then the adults in front of them started hollering down the deep tunnel, “Hey, how much longer?”
Kenny and the man decided to take a walk out of line to see how far it actually went. Vanessa waited another hour, carrying Arianna on her back as Jackson trailed behind them angrily. Then finally they returned.
“We gotta get out of here!” Kenny said.
Vanessa recognized fear in his voice, but didn’t understand.
“We walked for an hour. The line doesn’t end! I finally peed in the dwarf creak.”
“What do you mean, doesn’t end?”
Her eyes were already glazed over from exhaust. She was having trouble comprehending.
“Let’s go!” the man instructed his family.
They tried rushing passed them. Then stopped abruptly, as if they had slammed into something. They put their hands up in the air. Vanessa read the terror in their wide horrified eyes. Saw their skin drain of its color.
“What?” she asked.
The man pushed and knocked at something hard.
“There’s a wall here!”
His wife started crying. She dropped to the cold cement like Arianna.
“What?” Vanessa said, trying to pull herself out of the nightmare.
Kenny tried to take JJ, but also crashed into the invisible wall. He tried to see it, but there was nothing there to see.
“We can’t go back. We can move forward, but we can’t go back!”
Desperation sharpened his voice.
He beat against the air, the people behind them oblivious, nudging them forward in a daze.
“Help!” Vanessa screamed.
The kids cried. Panic set in. Everyone was screaming. Propelled by some mysterious force. Trapped in the real ride; A steep winding descent into madness.