03: Some Disney Fun
Debra Keer pulled up to the hotel early, honking the horn on her little Fiat to alert Alex and his crew that she had arrived. Alex and the girls ran out, giggling and laughing, clearly ready for a fun and exciting day of behaving like children, despite what they expected to encounter.
Squeezing in the back seat on either side of Alex, Chalise bounced in her seat while Kitty couldn’t stop talking about what they expected to see. Cate rode in front with Debra.
“I can’t believe we’re finally getting to visit Disneyland,” Kitty said, squeezing Alex’s arm.
“Yeah, this is going to be so neat,” Chalise added, leaning forward to speak directly to Kitty.
“Just keep in mind it won’t be all fun,” Debra warned. “We’re officially on intercept duty to keep people from calling attention to Alex,” she reminded them.
“Yeah, yeah, we remember, but let us be excited for the moment,” Chalise replied. “Once we get there, we promise we’ll be responsible, but we’re just excited.”
“Fair enough,” Debra responded, smiling at Alex over his girlfriend’s excitement. He remained silent, simply smiling at their enthusiasm. “By the way, how did dinner go last night?”
“Oh, it was wonderful,” Kitty answered. “The restaurant was great, the atmosphere was wonderful, and the staff was attentive while still giving us our space. It was a great recommendation.”
“Good, I’ll tell my friend Antonio you liked it. He’ll be glad. So what did you think of the food?”
“It was great,” Kitty said, “but like most French restaurants, they don’t serve much. For us it wasn’t an issue, but Alex was at his wit’s end. He ordered two full meals and was still starving. He was about to order another full course while we were eating our desserts so we offered to pick him up some burgers on the way to the hotel.”
“Yeah, Emily mentioned how hyper his metabolism is,” Debra replied, sounding both amused and terrified she’d led them astray. “I hadn’t stopped to consider that. Maybe I should have directed you to an In-and-Out Burger instead.”
“No, it was fine,” Chalise insisted. “We just should have remembered to feed him before we went.”
“I did,” Alex meekly admitted from the back seat.
“Trying to keep Alex fed is a full time job,” Cate sighed. “I’m always carrying food for him. Not only does he burn energy at a prodigious rate, but he also has these unexpected encounters which burn even more energy than normal.”
“You mean when he boosts someone?” Debra asked.
“No, actually boosting doesn’t tax him so much,” Cate said, leaning back and getting comfortable, preparing to talk for some time. “While they wear him down simply because he works so hard, what really exhausts him is his healings. He decides to help someone and then gets it in his head to try something new—like growing them a new kidney. That wears him down faster than anything else. Well, aside from when his BCM levels fluctuate,” she added after considering the issue for a second.
“So did all of you have dinner together?” Debra asked, trying to shift the topic onto more enjoyable thoughts.
“Oh yeah, Cate’s a part of our posse,” Kitty added.
“I figured,” Debra replied. “I can see how close she and Alex are. While I don’t quite understand it, it’s obvious to anyone spending any time with them. The other girls told me how she sleeps with him every night, whether he’s sleeping with anyone else or not.”
“That may be true,” Kitty answered, not bothering to detail how they were actually lovers, “but in our case we like to play with Cate as well. She’s like a tiny female version of Alex, so she makes for an interesting diversion while we’re waiting our turn with Alex.”
“But while we can’t feel Alex’s energy, we let Cate determine who sleeps where,” Chalise explained, trying to explain Cate and Alex’s relationship a little more. “Since she gets something from being close to him, we’re happy just with some cuddle time. We don’t care as much about who sleeps where.”
“I’ve heard of taking brothers to bed when you don’t care about either of them emotionally, but I’d think taking siblings to bed would be … problematic.”
“You’ll have to get to know Cate better then,” Chalise replied. “As odd as Alex is, Cate is even more so. She’s never had a problem with his fooling around with a whole string of women, and has actively encouraged him to ‘spread his wings’. We’re all close because she was a major factor in our all getting together.”
“Somehow, I don’t expect either Cate or Alex to do anything in a normal fashion. Speaking of which,” Debra asked peering into her rear view mirror, “is Gini going to be OK following us? I mean, should I slow down for her or something?”
“Gini? Heavens no,” Alex replied. “If anything, she’d do better doing 80 or 100. She’s a fiend on that bike and it’s almost impossible to get her to leave it behind. If she could, she’d take it into the hotel with her.”
“That is, if Cate didn’t take up all the available space with her mice,” Kitty teased.
“Speaking of your guardian, should we discuss how we’re going to handle things today?” Debra asked. “I mean, I know you guys are hoping to enjoy yourselves, but frankly I’m too worried about what to expect to be able to relax.”
“There’s really nothing we can do,” Alex explained. “Whatever we plan for, something unexpected is likely to occur, and it’ll be something we never planned for. All we can do is adjust to circumstances and deal with it when it happens. Your idea to flank me to head off any troubles is some of the best advice I’ve heard, but I’m not going to pretend it’ll prevent us from creating a scene.”
Debra took that under advisement as the other girls resumed talking about what they were hoping to see when they reached Disneyland. If nothing else, it would be a memorable experience, though hopefully not for the wrong reasons.
“You realize it’ll be a mistake waiting in line at the front gate,” Gini warned Alex as they stood waiting for the monorail.
Alex shrugged, not turning to look at her. “I can’t see how I can avoid it.”
“I could try to explain why you need to be let in early,” Debra suggested.
“And just what could you tell them to achieve that?” Alex asked, while the other girls all quietly rolled their eyes, having been through this before.
“I’ll tell them you’re likely to be recognized and it’ll create a scene if you stand in line where people will get out of line to talk to you,” she said, sounding quite reasonable.
“And what’ll be their likely response? ‘What’s he known for? What TV show, album or radio program is he on, or what YouTube video is he featured in?’”
“Oh. I guess I see your point,” she replied with a sour expression.
“Don’t worry, we’ve all been through this with Alex,” Cate explained. “Although he attracts a lot of attention, he’s not ‘famous’, so no one is going to give him special treatment. We’ve just got to stand in line like everyone else and react to whoever approaches.”
“But our whole idea of flanking him to intercept anyone approaching won’t work if we’re all standing in line together,” Debra protested.
“You’re right about that. And it looks like it’s going to be quite a while before they open the gates at 8:00.”
“You know, I hate to say it, but if we’d spent the money to book a last minute room, then never used it, we’d have been able to slip in the early admission line at 7:00,” Chalise informed them, a bit late for them to do anything about it.
“Coulda, woulda, shoulda,” Alex responded, shrugging his shoulders but ignoring how worried the girls were about him. As they looked on, he was busy surveying the parking lot, seeing if anyone was showing any unusual interest in him. The monorail arrived, hardly making a sound, the doors opening silently, revealing several bored adults and a bunch of overexcited kids. They entered without a word, but Alex positioned himself well away from the door, standing at the front end of the car where he could easily see everyone waiting as the monorail approached. Gini stood beside him, Kitty and Chalise took positions by the doors, and Debra, not knowing what else to do, headed to the other end of the car. Without much noise the doors closed and the vehicle began moving forward. The girls relaxed once they were free of the station, but Alex had noticed one family in particular.
There weren’t many people in the car, but one woman had been watching him ever since they’d entered. Cate had missed her since the woman was focused on showing her little girl pictures of the park, telling her what they were going to see, but she was clearly distracted, watching Alex each moment she wasn’t talking to her child.
They were obviously ready for a day at the park, dressed in casual attire with the little girl wearing a bright pink Disney Princesses t-shirt. Although the child had blond/brunette hair, the mother was a redhead, which Alex found interesting. She already looked harried, but she couldn’t keep the interest in her eyes from showing as she kept glancing at Alex.
Since Cate hadn’t noticed, Alex caught Kitty’s eye and motioned to her. Sizing the situation up quickly, she stepped up to the mother and daughter.
“Excuse me, but you have a beautiful daughter. Perhaps you noticed my friends and I,” she said, indicating only Alex, “we’re visiting the park today, and we wondered what you’d suggest visiting first?”
It was a ridiculous thing to ask, given she wasn’t interested in the answer, but the woman proved herself bright enough to pick up on her subtle clue.
“Oh, we’d be delighted to help. We come here about once a year. I notice your ‘friend’ has quite a posse. Is he anyone I should recognize?”
Kitty smiled, grinning at Alex in triumph having proven her point. “Not exactly, but he attracts attention from certain people because of a related series of genetic traits,” she explained, launching into the established routine. In order to keep the child from distracting them, Chalise approached from the other side and began asking her which was her favorite princess and which she hoped to see. That kept the little girl distracted, and wasn’t strange enough to attract anyone else’s attention. As Kitty and the woman spoke, Cate quickly took out a notepad and jotted a note, which she passed to Kitty, who handed it to the woman.
She glanced at it, looked hesitantly at everyone involved before replying. “OK, but you don’t mind if I bring someone along, do you? I mean, I can feel this is important somehow, but I’m not in the practice of meeting people I don’t know in their rooms.”
“Oh no, we don’t expect you to meet us in our room. We were thinking of meeting in either the lobby or the restaurant. We just need somewhere our conversation won’t be overheard. You can bring whomever you want, in fact we encourage you to bring family as they may have the same traits, even though it only seems to occur in women,” Kitty explained, showing she had this well in hand. With that out of the way, Alex turned and glanced out the front of the train at the people at the next stop ahead of them.
“That went well,” he said to Gini. “Hope they all go as smoothly.”
“Not likely. I didn’t worry about it since she didn’t pose a potential risk. You’re on your own for dealing with your fans. I’m just here to intercept anyone trying to hurt you. I’m hoping my bulk will keep them from trying anything, but given how crazy they get, I’m not counting on it.”
“Yeah, I’m well aware of the potential threats I face. When we’re in line, try standing with Cate so you can each evaluate everyone separately. You can check their auras for emotional responses to me while Cate can check their eyes.”
“That’s what I was planning,” she responded.
“Which is why you’re the perfect woman for the job.”
“I’m the perfect person for it because I can take down a two hundred pound biker in a few seconds. I’m equipped for the job because I can read people’s emotions like a road map. I don’t think you have much to worry about; as Debra showed, she’s probably better equipped to handle these things than my brute force approach is, but I’m here for when everything else doesn’t work.”
“Which is why the idea is to keep moving. The entrance gate is a problem, but when we move beyond it we shouldn’t have to worry.”
Just then they pulled into the next station and the doors opened again, so they stopped talking and regarded everyone getting on, realizing they’d be doing the same thing all day.
For as nervous as everyone was, the wait to enter the park was anticlimactic. They didn’t encounter anyone who paid them the slightest bit of attention, so Alex spent his time talking to the new woman, while Chalise entertained her kid and Cate and Gini continued to scan the crowd. Nevertheless, it was a long 38 minute wait until they were allowed in. Once through the gates they breathed a sigh of relief, but they didn’t stop until they got off of Disney’s Main Street and reached the large circular park in front of Cinderella’s castle.
“OK, we’re through that.” Alex wiped his forehead, pushing his damp hair out of his eyes. “Now where do we head? The rides are out because I couldn’t respond to circumstances, but we should be able to see the rest.”
“I’d like to see Adventureland and the Jungle Cruise,” Cate suggested.
“I’d prefer Frontierland,” Chalise announced, pointing in a different direction.
“I’m interested in Tinkerbell, which is over that way,” Kitty said. “I’ve been fascinated by her since I was a little girl.”
Alex sighed, glancing at Gini and Debra for support.
“Hey, I’m not here to enjoy anything,” Gini informed him. “As long as we get out of here in one piece, I’ll be a happy camper. What you do is your choice.”
“Fine, both Adventureland and Frontierland are this way,” Alex announced, pointing over his shoulder. “We’ll start at Frontierland and then head to Adventureland when it gets hot so we can cool off by the water rides.” Taking Kitty and Chalice’s hands, the trio took off, giggling the entire way. Cate, grinning, glanced at Gini, who simply shook her head and they both took off after them, trying to keep up.
For the most part, they really didn’t have too much trouble. As they’d thought, the idea of staging people around Alex to intercept anyone worked, so they didn’t attract a lot of attention, but they ended up with a line of people trailing them anyway. Each Seeker they met, young or old, wanted to follow along, even if they couldn’t speak to him at length, despite what their parents or children might think. It wasn’t until they stopped to get Alex something to eat that they ran into trouble.
Stopping at the Bengal Barbeque overlooking the Adventureland Jungle Cruise, Alex and Cate grabbed seats for everyone in an out of the way area while the others girls ordered and delivered the food or stood watch and Gail took up a position she could respond unnoticed if anyone caused trouble. Busy watching for anyone approaching, Alex didn’t see them, but he heard several girls squeal in excitement. Turning, he saw a Disney Princess approaching, curtsying to the children clustering around her. Alex smiled at how all girls seem to gravitate to princesses, and turned to continue watching those around him.
A few minutes later, though, a little girl he didn’t recognize walked up and stood before him, waiting to be acknowledged.
“Can I help you, Sweetie?” he asked, hoping her mother wasn’t watching.
“Yeah, she asked me to give you this,” the little blonde pixie told him, motioning behind her with her bright pink fingernail. She then handed him a paper napkin.
Intrigued, Alex examined the scrawled note:
Need to speak. Being watched. Can meet after work?
Curious, Alex turned to the girl, but she was already gone. Glancing where she’d disappeared to, Alex saw her whispering to Princess Belle from the Beauty and the Beast franchise. As he looked, Princess Belle glanced up and their eyes met. She jerked back and tottered unsteadily, upsetting the young girls around her and causing someone nearby to scramble to assist her.
‘Relax. There’s nothing wrong with you or your vision. This is a typical reaction,’ Alex told her, which only caused her to jerk her head, immediately staring at him. But that just caused her handler to look to see what was disturbing her, and he too looked directly at Alex.
Trying to keep things under control, Alex turned and started talking to Gini as if bored by whatever was happening to the nearby children’s character, but telepathically he kept speaking to her.
‘There’s a lot to explain, but if you keep looking at me we’ll both be in trouble. Ignore me for now and we can continue talking. Just relax and talk to me in your mind like I am with you. You’ll find it fairly natural. Now I’m Alex, just who are you, Princess?’ Alex asked, adding in his own little mental laugh.
‘My name is Mary Waters,’ she blurted, continuing to ramble on. ‘I live in Santa Ana. I’m 26 years old. I’m—’
‘OK, hold on a second Mary. There’s no rush. We have the rest of our lives to talk. Just take a breath, concentrate on what’s happening around you and just talk to me as an aside in a way which isn’t distracting. Do you think you can do that?’
‘I think so,’ she responded, taking a moment to compose herself. ‘Look, I’d better go, my observer is watching me. I just told him I think I may be ill so I need to leave. I’ll change and talk when I have a chance to lie down.’
‘OK, that’s fine. Whenever you’re ready we can talk. We can do it anywhere, anytime, and without any problems or interference.’
And like that she was gone. No goodbye, no ‘excuse me’, no ‘we’ll talk later’. She was just gone. Not wanting to risk a glance, he checked in with Debra.
‘Is Princess Belle still in the house?’
‘She’s just leaving as we speak. Her handler seems spooked. I take it she’s one of us?’
‘Yeah, but she’s freaking out about it. Hopefully she’ll calm down before she blurts the wrong thing to the wrong person.’
‘We should probably leave then,’ she suggested.
‘Nah, that’d be an admission of guilt. If we ran out of here now, it would only call even more attention to us. Besides, the girls are having a great time, and I’m finally starting to relax and enjoy myself. Our food just arrived, so come grab something and we’ll take out—’
“Geez!” Gini blurted out, recoiling and raising her arm over her face to block her view. “Your aura just jacked up about eight levels!”
“Shit, put down your arm and stop talking about it!” Alex hissed, feeling himself blushing over her outburst. “I mean, everyone is already looking at us, you’re making us that much more obvious.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t even look at you without having to block you out. How can I guard you if I can’t even see past you?”
“OK, change position or face away from me, but let’s not argue about it,” Alex insisted, getting up and shifting his chair around to make it easier for her to get around him.
‘Fine, I’ll face everyone entering, but that means I can’t see anyone behind us, leaving us with a huge blind spot.’
‘Don’t worry, everyone is busy watching us. Someone attacking us is the least of our problems right now.’
“Are you OK?” Kitty asked, whispering as she leaned forward, putting her hand on his arm and looking into his eyes, tilting her head to the side. “You’re looking a bit ill at ease. Do you want to leave?”
“I think his levels are spiking again,” Cate explained, also leaning forward and whispering so she wouldn’t be overheard. “Which means they’ll soon crash leaving him exhausted. No, he needs to eat now so he’ll be better prepared when it happens.”
“Look, let’s not discuss this in public,” Alex stressed, picking up the sandwich Kitty had chosen for him. “Let’s eat and get the hell out of here. I don’t need any more attention at this point.”
“You’re right, there’s some park official watching us, and he doesn’t seem pleased,” Chalise observed, looking away from the table towards the back of the restaurant.
Alex ducked his head, trying to look inconspicuous, but it was true, nearly everyone was watching them. Finishing eating quickly, they got up to leave when Alex’s knees buckled under him. He only just managed to catch himself as he grasped his chest, taking a huge gasping breath.
‘Alex, your aura is flickering!’ Gini informed him, knowing he had no way of determining it himself. ‘It’s varying from tremendously bright to only slightly brighter than other people have.’
Alex was too dizzy to respond as he stumbled into a nearby table, jostling it and upsetting the family sitting there. Chalise rushed in, throwing her arm around him and trying to pull his weight onto her.
“I’m sorry!” he said as he tried to stand quickly, only getting dizzy again and overcompensating, falling back, upsetting another table and smacking his head on the edge of the table. He fell out of Chalise’s hands, and she stood clutching at where he’d been standing a moment ago.
“Alex!” Cate cried, rushing to his side, but Gini beat her to him. However, just as she reached him his aura flared again, and she had to back up, shielding her eyes again.
“This is disgusting!” someone observed from nearby, trying to shelter the sight from their kids. “When people get drunk at Disneyland, you know things are getting bad.”
Closing her eyes and tilting her head away, Gini tried to help Alex stand, resulting in them both fumbling. Alex stood uneasily and took a few faltering steps. Gini, leading him, purposely stared in the other direction, watching where they were going with her peripheral vision. Seeing they’d never get far that way, Chalise rushed back, throwing Alex’s arm around her neck while Kitty rushed in to relieve Gini.
“Get in front and keep an eye out,” she insisted. Gini, feeling embarrassed not being able to do the job she’d been hired to do, moved forward to do just that.
They got Alex out and away from the restaurant, moving him to the railing overlooking the Jungle Cruise so he could recover and feel the cool breeze. They were hoping he could recover enough to walk a little further, but they had their doubts. Alex was having troubles when he suddenly perked up, smiling.
“Uh, oh,” Cate said, observing her brother’s response. “You just got another burst of energy, meaning your BCM is peaking again, but it won’t last.” Cate confirmed her assumption by observing Gini, who had to look away from him again. “Let’s get you walking and see if we can make some progress before you weaken again. But stick beside someone in case you start to fall again.” Alex started to walk, eager to get away from everyone watching, when someone approached. It was another little girl, this time a younger rosy faced little thing, biting her lip as she glanced up at him, holding one foot behind her leg as she fidgeted. Alex thought they needed to change their method of communication; otherwise he’d end up getting arrested for chatting up so many young girls he had no relationship with.
“Can I help you?” he asked, leaning over and smiling, but resting his hands on his knees just in case.
“Cinderella wants to talk to you,” she announced in all seriousness.
“Tell her I’ll send someone to see her in a minute. But tell her she owes you big time, OK?” Alex gave her a wink before she ran off—which he regretted just after he did it, realizing he’d be in even more trouble winking at the little girls approaching him. He watched her go, and then turned as if disinterested.
‘Debra, you need to find Princess Cinderella. It seems she wants to talk to us now. Try not to be obvious, but just say how much you admire her, shake her hand and pass her a note with our phone number on it. OK?’
‘You’ve got it, Alex. I never in my wildest imagination thought I’d ever be playing spy with the Disney Princesses, passing Cinderella secret messages. Man, this is even wilder than my first trip to Disneyland back when I was seven. I’ll have to bring you along if I ever come here with a kid of my own.’
‘You do that. We’ll stay here, though, in order to continue looking disinterested.’
There was silence on her end. “Alex?” Kitty asked, nudging him. “Shouldn’t we be moving while you still have the energy?”
Cate, noticing the expressions on his face, moved beside him. “More princess intrigue?” Kitty perked up, realizing she’d missed something, so she leaned in close to Alex so she could hear their discussion. Chalise, noticing all of this, hurried over as well. Gini just shook her head, still facing away from Alex because his energy kept fluctuating, irritating her eyes.
“Yeah, either she’s a friend of Belle’s or there’s a certain genetic propensity among Disney royalty,” Alex replied, leaning against the railing overlooking the water ride and pretending to be watching the screaming kids getting soaked.
“You know,” Cate replied, giving him a little hip check for emphasis, “you couldn’t have attracted much more attention if Goofy himself had come up and given you a big kiss on the lips.”
“Please, don’t mention it—from your lips to God’s ear, as they say.” Glancing back over his shoulder, Alex saw Debra moving away as she talked to Cinderella, but he also observed several people, both those who’d been watching him earlier and new people moving forward to see what was going on. Since several of them were staring directly at him, and not at what was going on around him, he suspected they were Seekers, drawn by his increased energy levels. “We’d best be moving before someone comes after us,” he whispered to the girls as he pushed off the railing, standing and casually wandering off, the girls keeping up with him.
‘We’re attracting too much attention, we’re on the move,’ Alex informed Debra.
‘I’m finished now,’ she answered. ‘We only spoke briefly. She said Mary was interested in speaking with you, but was afraid to talk to you directly. She sent Cinderella to reach out to us, but she’ll take the phone number back with her.’
‘Good. That’s what I was hoping for,’ Alex responded. ‘Now let’s try to slip quietly away.’
“I hate to break it to you,” Gini said, seeing he was finished with his telepathic discussion, “but we’ve got company.”
“You mean aside from the trail of followers?” he asked, looking idly back at the ride to their right, away from anyone else.
“Yep, there are a couple of park employees following us. I’m guessing security people.”
“OK, let’s try splitting up,” Alex suggested, considering the situation. “I’m going to use you as a decoy,” he announced, coming to a decision. “You head back, then change direction and head for Cinderella while I try to duck into a nearby shop. I’ll have Debra walk up to one of the security people to ask directions. Between all of that, hopefully they’ll lose track of us.”
‘Hopefully that’ll do it,’ she answered, already walking away from them, ‘but I’d stay out of the shops, they all have video cameras.’
‘I want them to see how innocent I’m acting,’ Alex explained, trying to justify his decision.
‘Still, it’s better remaining off camera if you can. A grainy long distance shot is bad enough, but a close up photo labeling you as a problem is worse,’ she said as she sauntered away, the one guard watching to see what she was up to.
Keeping her advice in mind, he bypassed the shop, but faltered again as he moved away, stumbling and grabbing his chest again, his steps erratic. Cate, already by his side, rushed to steady him, but they again appeared drunk, confirming the security men’s opinions. Chalise grabbed Alex’s other arm while Kitty ran behind them, fluttering her hands in frustration, wanting to help but not knowing what to do.
‘I noted your little diversion,’ Gini informed him, ‘the two guards are watching you now, so I’ll make my move … yeah, they’re both overreacting, trying to see what I’m up to. They’re scrambling, but it looks like it’s more than just those two.’
‘Hopefully they’re either curious or Seekers,’ Alex responded, getting himself steadied with the assistance of the two girls. “Gini’s made her move,” he told them. “Hopefully Debra will distract them further and then we’ll be clear. Let’s split up to look a little less conspicuous. Kitty; Chalise and Cate can help me, you visit the shops but stay outside where the camera can’t capture your image.”
Recovering, Alex stood a little straighter and immediately started striding more purposefully. He shrugged Cate off, not wanting to announce how weak he was, but held on to Chalise, giving her his hand so they’d look more like a romantic threesome and less like a bunch of bumbling drunkards with a flock of followers.
“Got it. I’m going to stop by and look at some postcards,” Kitty called after them, wandering off, leaving him and Cate to continue walking. She tried hard not to glance back, but it was hard.
‘I’m going to be a minute, chief,’ Gini informed him. ‘I was moving for Cinderella, then changed direction again before reaching her, but it wasn’t enough. They grabbed me and are playing Twenty Questions.’
‘That’s OK, try to get free as soon as you can but try not to set off any alarms and don’t associate yourself with me. Its better they don’t know you’re here guarding me. You know how to find me,’ he said as he nudged Chalice into yet a different direction—Cate following along several paces back—as they pretended to look at something in the distance. Alex noted more people moving towards him, but didn’t know if they were merely gawking or were being drawn to him. He finally thought they’d made it, when someone in a brown suit approached them from the opposite direction.
“Excuse me, but I’d like to talk to you for a minute,” the man, in his late twenties or early thirties with thinning hair said, blocking their path. His security badge said his name was Joseph.
“Uh, yeah, but we were trying to catch a show,” Alex tried to dissuade him, but he obviously wasn’t buying it.
“It seems you’re part of a disturbance,” Joseph said, glancing at Cate and Kitty, now glancing at them worriedly by the card shop in front of the souvenir shop.
“Look, he’s got a medical condition where he gets dizzy suddenly,” Cate said, moving up and inventing a story on the spot to explain their strange behavior. “We’re trying to get away someplace where he can relax and recover without everyone staring at him.”
“That may be, but there are also reports of you purposely distracting the Disney personnel. If you’re not feeling well, perhaps I should escort you to the exit?” he asked, arching an eyebrow and motioning towards the entrance to the resort. “After all, you seem to be drawing a crowd, and we’d rather not cause a scene.”
“Yeah, that’s what we were hoping as well,” Alex replied, glancing around one last time to see if there was any way out, but not seeing any he shrugged. “It sounds like the best idea. Sorry girls, but it looks like my medical condition had just gotten us thrown out of the Magic Kingdom.”
Joseph didn’t look terribly convinced. “Do you need me to call a cart to take you out?”
“I think I’ll be OK for now, but I don’t know how far I’ll get. If I get too dizzy I may not be able to continue, so how about if we start walking and see how far we get, but you call up a cart to meet us partway.” Joseph seemed to think that sounded best, still watching the increasing number of people following them.
He turned to them after finishing a call to someone to meet them with a security cart. “You know, these people don’t seem to be reacting to your illness. It’s like they recognize you,” he observed, glancing again as they trailed them, unaffected by his presence.
“Yeah, they recognize me from some media appearances I’ve been in,” Alex replied. “However, I’m trying to play that association down, so I’d really rather not discuss it. I’d prefer just getting out before we attract any more attention.”
“Sounds like we’re on the same page,” Joseph told him nodding, easily able to understand being embarrassed by stupid viral videos, never stopping to question why other teens appearing in Jack Ass style shows never seemed similarly concerned. “We don’t object to your being here, but if you want to stay you’ll have to spend some time convincing us you’re not trying to cause trouble. If you can get your people to leave peacefully, we won’t make a scene.”
“No, it’s not worth it,” Alex replied with a sigh, trying to walk as quickly as possible before he ran out of steam. “I don’t want to be associated with those appearances, so it’d be better for everyone if we just left.”
“Then if you don’t mind, I’ll accompany you all the way out of the park,” he informed them as they continued toward the exit. Kitty caught back up with them, but hung back a little. The security guy kept glancing at the people following them, growing more nervous the farther they got. For as fast as they walked and as crowded as the park was, the people trailing them kept up. Soon he began speaking into his radio using a variety of code words.
‘We’re busted, folks. Everyone out of the park now,’ Alex told Gini, Debra and Mary. ‘Mary, the official line is you thought you recognized me from the television reports as a religious figure from New Orleans and you wanted to see if I was who you thought. But don’t give any more details. Just add you didn’t think I was if they press you.’
‘OK,’ she hesitantly replied. ‘Sorry if I got you into trouble.’
‘It’s no problem. We were expecting it to happen. But it occurred a little sooner than we were hoping for. Tell your friend we’re sorry if we got her in trouble.’
‘I’ll tell her, but I have a feeling it’ll be a while before they let me talk to anyone. I think we’re all going to get grilled for a while. The park is real particular about anyone breaking character, and while we didn’t go that far, we raised questions. Sometimes the park can get a little paranoid about their people.’
‘Well, try to minimize the fuss and keep your job, if you still can. Try the old “I was confused because I’m feeling feverish” routine. I don’t know if it will help, but it may give you a little more leverage.’
‘I’ll try. I was going with “period cramps” myself, as that’s guaranteed to shut up any guy’s questions, and most of security are men except the lowly peons.’ Alex laughed and said goodbye, wishing her luck. When he looked up he noticed Joseph eyeing him curiously.
“I was just thinking about how this all started. I’m wishing I never got associated with this whole thing in the first place,” he added without going into detail.
“Look, we just don’t want to spoil anyone’s Park experience,” Joseph told him, even as he force marched them to the gate. Alex, however, was beginning to slow down again, occasionally taking a misstep. He didn’t have any clue how his energy levels were doing, but he’d feel fine one moment, and then be stumbling and shuffling the next. Several people who didn’t know any better still followed them, each trying to explain to their families what they were doing. Alex fretted he was screwing up several people’s vacation trips, but there wasn’t anything he could do about it. But, he also noticed they were attracting yet more people rather than avoiding further notice.
“Maybe we’d better take you through the back passages,” their attendant suggested, still glancing nervously behind him.
“If it’s all the same to you, we’re pretty close to the main gate now. I think we’d attract less attention if you didn’t try to explain to a whole crew of people why you’re escorting me off the premises under house arrest,” Alex said. That prompted another extended shorthand conversation between him and his boss.
“My superior agrees with you,” Joseph said, biting his lip and clenching his fists. Alex guessed his conversation hadn’t gone well, and he was now not only concerned with Alex and the constantly growing crowd behind him, but about his job and the potential negative publicity associated with it. If they thought Alex was famous and they simply hadn’t noticed it, Joseph very well could find himself acting as a sacrificial lamb. “Just make sure you keep going when you exit. We’re monitoring you and we’ll know if you try to reenter.”
“Don’t worry, you not only disturbed my own park experience, but I’m sure you’ve made an impression on everyone following me,” Alex reminded him, motioning casually behind him without glancing back himself. “I don’t think anyone knows any more about what’s involved than I do, and I suspect you’ll be answering more than a few questions yourself.” Joseph started playing with his collar, his shirt suddenly becoming too small and confining. He wiped his forehead distractedly while glancing back again. They seemed to be picking up more people, with gawkers seeing the mass of people and thinking they were missing something, so they all joined in the big impromptu march down Main Street. “Do you want me to try to talk to people after we’ve left, or would you rather do it yourself?” Alex asked, just to rub it in a little more.
That led to yet another hurried radio discussion, which actually kept them standing behind the park entrance as they tried to work out the details. As he talked to his bosses, Joseph suddenly noticed several people crowding the gates from the outside, not trying to get in but simply watching what they were doing. That slowed him down even more. He watched them for several moments then began talking excitedly to his bosses again.
“Look, if you can keep it to a minimum, we wouldn’t mind if you can keep this from blowing up,” he finally suggested, sounding almost like he was pleading. He looked like he and his bosses were now considering whether it would be more negative tossing Alex out than it would simply ignoring him.
‘Alex, it looks like things are finally moving here,’ Gini informed him. ‘I’m being escorted out via the back passages. I’ll have to meet you by your car.’
“OK, I’ll just tell them to meet us off-park at a nearby restaurant where I can try to explain what happened with the least amount of confusion,” Alex replied after acknowledging Gini’s information. “Any suggestions where we could meet that’s centrally located?”
“I’m not sure where you’re parked, but try either Mini’s Café or Millie’s Restaurant,” Joseph suggested, glad to help now that Alex was helping save his ass. “They’re by one of our hotels, but they’re also next to the park exit. They’re centrally located so everyone should be able to find them easily. We’ll have someone there to make sure things don’t get out of hand, and we’ll cover your expenses to try to minimize everyone’s hurt feelings about being escorted out. If you’re not comfortable with that, there’s a Starbucks located just across the Santa Ana Freeway.”
“Good. I expect most of them will be pretty upset, not knowing why they were asked to leave. Our vehicles are in the park over in that direction.”
The guy started rushing them to the gate when he noticed a couple of cameras appearing. Not wanting to be photographed escorting someone seemingly more famous than they’d counted on, he was hoping the sooner he could get out of this the better off he’d be.
“Mommy, why are they making the angel leave?” a young girl asked loudly enough for them to overhear. Alex didn’t say anything, but gave Joseph a look which said ‘see what I mean’. The guy grinned for the first time, but looked even more nervous.
“We’ll have someone drive you, that way we’ll avoid you attracting any more attention,” he told Alex, sounding more and more flustered by the growing number of people. Somehow their attempt to avoid a scene was causing one despite their best attempts to minimize it. “But if you could, would you say something to the people here who don’t want to leave the park? I’m afraid if you don’t, they’ll start inventing answers that may not reflect well on the park.”
“That’s perfectly acceptable. I was hoping to avoid this when we arrived. I have no desire to either call attention to myself or embarrass the Disney Corporation. That’s why we tried to arrive and leave early. We were going to ask if we could get in early in order to avoid this, but didn’t think you’d appreciate it.”
“If you want to return some other time, just ask for Peter Thorp. He’ll make special arrangements for you so you won’t be disturbed, including a personal guide so you don’t have to wait in line.”
“Thanks, but I doubt we’ll be returning this,” Alex answered, shooting him a look. “Anyway, it looks like our ride is there. I’ll make a quick statement here in the park, and then I’ll make a slightly longer one outside to anyone who decides to follow me out. Personally, I think most of these people are simply curious about what all the fuss is about.” Alex glanced at the crowd one more time before turning back to Joseph, taking a deep breath before continuing. “I won’t insult you by saying thanks, but apologize to anyone we embarrassed by this. I understand you aren’t directly responsible for this Snafu, but….” Alex replied, leaving the rest unsaid. The guy shuffled uneasily, imagining the fallout if Alex described why he’d been thrown out of Disneyland, especially if word of it leaked to the media. This guy seemed more famous than he’d indicated.
Alex stood up, disrupting the various conversations and waiting for everyone to quiet down before speaking.
“OK, I know there are a lot of people here from a lot of different backgrounds that wanted to be someplace much more interesting than a Starbucks, but I’ve got some information you should all know that the Disney security people really don’t need to hear. Because we’ve got such a disparate collection, we’ll break into different groups. Cate will cover those I’ve labeled as ‘Seekers’, Debra and I will handle the ‘Seers’, Chalise will talk to the adults while Kitty will entertain the kids, as well as giving them information they can understand about what happened.”
With that, the whole collection of people tossed out of Disney broke into different groups, sometimes family members joining different groups, as only some fit into each category. They proceeded to explain as much as they could at the moment, an effort made more difficult by the several young children either directly or indirectly involved. Out of everyone there—Mary hadn’t been released from Disney yet, as they were still trying to determine whether she was involved with the proceedings or not—only one little girl and her mother were Seers, although there were quite a few Seekers and their families.
During the discussions, Alex found himself distracted by someone else sitting near them writing something on her laptop. But what interested Alex was a little dog she brought in with her, a well behaved little thing who stood watching them. However, what disturbed him was the dog never took its eyes off him, despite the food being bandied about and the general confusion in the restaurant.
Seeing he was distracted, Cate glanced at where he was looking than turned back at him. Alex made a basketball shooting motion to her, and she broke a piece off of her muffin and tossed it to the dog. However, although it glanced at it, it seemed thoroughly unimpressed with it, turning immediately towards Alex again.
“What’s up?” Debra asked, trying to figure out where Alex’s mind had drifted off to.
“That dog,” Alex responded, indicating it with a vague gesture. “I’m pretty sure we have ourselves our first non-human Seeker.”
“You’re kidding me. Really?”
“Yeah, Cate and I discussed the idea previously, but I never considered it seriously, so I simply ignored it. But now I’m thinking we’ve been overlooking something fairly significant.”
“You mean you think other animals can be Seekers and Seers too? That you could potentially activate or even boost them?”
“Well, I’m not about to make love to a dog no matter what benefit it might bestow,” Alex laughed. “But if the ‘S’ gene has been around for thousands of years, it would make sense it has spread to other animals.”
“Spread? How? Wouldn’t that involve…?” she asked, afraid to explain what she was thinking. “I mean, if it’s a DNA trait, then it could only be transferred via exchanging DNA.”
“Yeah, that’s true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean what you’re thinking. Viruses can spread via DNA. They do so via something called transposons. Those are things that can change DNA, but that other things manage to hijack to gain access to the DNA. It’s entirely possible the DNA traits could move between animal species the same way. Whether it crossed along with a virus or not is just conjecture, but most viruses don’t stay in the DNA for long, since they cause most of their victims to either die out or to not procreate as quickly. Thus the virus which transferred the trait could disappear, leaving the ‘S’ gene intact.”
“That’s amazing, but what does it ultimately mean?” Debra asked, her eyes sparkling with curiosity.
“Yeah, Alex, I’m interested in hearing that too,” Cate said, enjoying seeing him finally having to deal with something she’d asked him about multiple times before.
“Frankly, it doesn’t mean much. We’re not going to change how we operate based on it, but it implies the ‘S’ gene is much older than we thought, and it changes our basic understanding of the whole subject.”
“Well, I’m sure you and Cate will have a lot to discuss concerning it,” Debra said, grinning at Cate.
“Yes, I’m sure we will,” Alex added, glancing at the dog once again, lost in thought rather than looking at his sister. Cate left him to it, realizing it was important for him to consider it now—certainly more important than her scoring a few points for winning an argument.
So far the dog hadn’t bothered or begged for food from anyone. On a whim, Alex clicked his fingers, causing the dog to tilt its head and then rush towards him. Of course it reached the end of its rope, only to pull against it, disrupting its owner.
“I’m sorry, is my dog bothering you?” she asked, grabbing the leash and dragging her back, which was a struggle because she was so insistent.
“No, no, I was just interested if he wanted to be petted.”
“Well, she’s really not very social. She generally doesn’t trust anyone.”
“Well, she seems to like me. Do you mind?”
“Not if you don’t object,” she answered, finally letting the dog’s leash go so it could run to Alex now that she was sure it wasn’t annoying him. Alex pet the small animal, who immediately rolled over on her back, exposing her belly for him to scratch.
“Geez, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her take to anyone like that before,” she observed.
“I suspect we share a lot,” Alex told her. “We both like our bellies scratched.” That satisfied the woman, but Alex’s people realized it meant a lot more than that.
Alex had a rough evening. His ‘spells’ with his BCM spiking up and down continued for some time. Oddly, he didn’t attract too many new followers, probably because those attracted by the higher levels couldn’t track him when his levels subsequently dropped. However, Alex spent much of the time resting since he was so exhausted. Kitty and Chalise didn’t mind, since that allowed them to lie around and talk to him, but when he suggested fooling around Cate put her foot down.
“Not with your energy this off,” she insisted, sitting up and staring at her brother, brooking a no-nonsense expression. “It’s going to take a long time for you to recover, and there’s no telling what this will do to your general health.”
Alex didn’t seem as impressed, but he didn’t argue. However, as the evening wore on he reminded them they’d promised Debra some time with him.
“We can always reschedule,” Kitty argued.
“Uh, no, we’re heading for San Diego tomorrow,” Alex informed them.
“Since when?” Chalise asked.
“We were planning it, but we hadn’t decided when we were leaving,” Cate told them. “I was thinking we’d put if off since you guys are here.”
“No, we can’t stop what we’re doing every time something happens. As you well know, we’re working in a limited time frame. The girls can come with us, after all we’ll have to return this way when we head to San Francisco. Besides, they said they wanted to see California and how I operate, so this combines everything.”
“Well, we did promise Debra,” Chalise said, looking at Kitty to see how she’d react.
“Yeah, and she did help out a lot yesterday and today,” Kitty agreed, her feelings already changing.
“It’s decided then, we’ll have dinner to stock you up, then you invite her over,” Chalise concluded.
“You’re not going to argue about it?” Alex asked, confused.
“No, we told you we understood you’re an unusual case. We know how much your whole mission depends on you, and as you said, you only have so much time.”
“Thanks, I’ll make sure to save some time for you,” Alex promised, kissing both their hands.
“Uh hem!” Cate said, noisily clearing her throat.
“No, you’re already pushing yourself too much. We’ll stay here with you and help, if it doesn’t freak her out too much,” Chalise insisted. “But afterwards you’ll sleep and we’ll copy Cate and curl up with you. You can make it up to us for the rest of the week.”
“Uh, you realize he’ll need to boost someone in San Diego?” Cate asked.
“Not really. It helps, but I’ve got enough people here in LA. I can skip a city or two.”
“I thought you were worried about the government tracking your people?” Kitty asked.
“I think I’m getting over it. The pressure has decreased lately and no one is foaming at the mouth over me. I’m hoping we can all just fade into the background,” Alex reflected, looking hopeful even as he knocked softly on the headboard.
“That just sounds silly,” Chalise told him. “I mean, why risk it if you don’t have to. After all, just because they aren’t curious about you now doesn’t mean they won’t be when you do something else to attract attention.”
“What, so you’re suggesting I try to boost someone with you there?”
“At least one,” Kitty insisted, “and you should do it with us there, just so they realize who you’re really in love with,” she concluded, smiling up at him as she traced her finger through his chest hairs.
“How could anyone doubt it once they see the two of you,” Alex replied, laying it on a bit thick.
“I don’t know. Debra is pretty hot,” Kitty mentioned, shooting Chalise a look and grinning at her.
“And Princess Belle is … magical,” Chalise suggested with a smile.
“But you’re serious about this?” Alex asked, just to be sure.
“Absolutely. Man, we’re going to see both San Diego and San Francisco,” Kitty gushed.
“Anyone else would be upset about me sleeping with strange women, instead the two of you encourage me to sleep with more while getting excited about all the gay guys in San Fran.”
“As if you ever expected your life to be normal,” Chalise replied, pushing him back on the bed. “Now talk to Debra so she can make arrangements and let’s head to dinner.”
Alex just shook his head, not able to get over just how weird his life had become. But then, Kitty and Chalise had never been typical girlfriends.
A map of Alex’s travels in Los Angeles (ch. 2 – 3).