DISCLAIMER: Disneyland and any characters/attractions therein belong to the Disney Corporation. “Happiest Place on Earth” is a registered trademark of the Disney Corporation. I make no claim to ownership of any of the aforementioned elements.
The sun had just started to peek over the horizon, and the first golden rays fell onto the face of a man standing on a hotel balcony. His eyes darted over the landscape, and he let out a sigh before turning around and going back inside.
Silence overtook the hotel room when he slid the glass patio door shut, and his steps did nothing to break it as he crossed the room to the vanity mirror. A man in his late 20’s stared back at him with dark circles under his eyes, and he let out a sigh. Today would mark the second sunrise he’d seen in the last couple of days.
His eyes traveled to the vanity counter, to a small bottle of colorless liquid; he picked it up, opened it, and downed the contents all in one fluid motion. A warmth spread, starting in his throat and flowing through his entire body. The dark circles disappeared, and he turned around to look at the clock next to his bed.
Letting a breath slip past his lips, he grabbed his keys and phone from the nightstand and left the room.
His nostrils picked up the humidity almost immediately, and the warmth of the air betrayed the cloud cover spread like a blanket over Anaheim. It seemed like another typical day, but he felt a twinge in his chest as he reached the curb.
He stopped for a moment, trying to figure out what was off, but a man wearing a fanny pack bumping his shoulder snapped him out of his reverie. He shook his head a few times and crossed the street, the twinge in his chest replaced with nostalgia.
He could see the spires of a white, circular building, the top of a snow-covered mountain, and even a very tall hotel. Parents and children ran past him, eager to pile up against the green gates that separated them from what they were all there for. The air was abuzz with excitement; so much so that you could almost taste it.
As his eyes scanned the growing crowd, he felt the twinge again; however, nobody stood out in the sea of faces. He frowned and pulled out his phone to check the time: 7:54 AM.
The next six minutes crawled by as he checked his phone for any updates, all the while looking over the people around him. Finally, the gates open and the ticket machines flared to life with their signature magical chime. They must have had their morning coffee, because it didn’t take them long to scan through the 20 people ahead of him.
As soon as he got the green light, he stepped through the turnstile to see a giant Mickey Mouse face; it was enough to make him break out in a grin. Whatever he’d been feeling before he’d walked into the park didn’t matter anymore, and it was all he could do not to run through the right archway (the same one he’d walked through every time he’d been here).
The music seemed to wrap around him like a warm blanket, and he took a few steps forward to take in his surroundings. Although he knew where he was, he always felt like he’d somehow magically travelled back in time; or, at least, to a universe everyone wished was America 60 years ago. The smell of vanilla, cinnamon, and popcorn mingled to create an intoxicating aroma he’d been waiting a long time to take in again.
Suddenly, the warm blanket was yanked off of him as the music stopped, and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He turned around, and his heart almost stopped when he saw…no one. Sure, it was a magical place, but it wasn’t that magical.
When he turned back to look down Main Street, everyone, from the grandparents to the babies, was…gone.
Except for one person.
His blood seemed to turn to ice as his eyes settled on a man leaning on the garden’s railing across the street. His breath caught in his chest before it escaped him in the form of a whispered word.
Andrew took a few steps forward until he was in the middle of the street. “Fancy seeing you here, Edward.”
Edward took a look around. “Did you do this?”
Andrew smirked. “You sure as hell didn’t.”
“How did you know I was here?”
“I didn’t. Well, until a couple hours ago, at least. Took me three months.”
Edward let out a chuckle. “I can’t believe it didn’t take you longer than that.”
Andrew’s eyes narrowed. “Careful.” He pointed behind the other man, and Edward only saw brick where the underpass had been minutes before.
Edward’s muscles tensed. “So now what?”
Andrew smiled. “We have a little fun. I mean, isn’t that why we’re here?”
Edward sighed. “Fine.” Suddenly, he fell to his knees as pain exploded through his head, and it stopped as quickly as it started. When he looked up, Andrew was gone, and he took his time getting up. Something fluttering on the railing where Andrew had been standing caught his eye, and he picked up the note.
See you in Adventureland.