“I know this was my idea, but this is the dumbest thing I have ever done.” Orpheus was standing by Air Force One. More accurately, Orpheus was slouching by Air Force One. “Don’t be that way Mr. Z. It will be fun. And you know full well that this is EXACTLY what you need for PR.” The speaker was one William Keller, Orpheus’ personal aide. He was the only person Orpheus trusted unconditionally, and he had proved himself on several occasions. Will had once been a minor vigilante who went by the codename ‘White Noise’. He had almost immediately retired when he realized that he wasn’t really cut out for the excessive brutality lifestyle. So Will entered bureaucracy. His mutant ability to distort sound waves into meaningless static, generate static fields, or destroy recording devices was invaluable to an organization that despised paparazzi.
Now, Will herded the President onto Air Force One. “Now, remember to smile. That’s probably the most important thing today. You signed off on those bills, right?” Orpheus nodded, tapping his fingers against an armrest. “Yes. Nothing significant, but enough so that no one thinks I’m slacking off or avoiding responsibility.” He knew the drill. “Alright then! Let’s get going!” With a muffled roar, the aircraft took to the sky.
Once they were in the air, well past the point when Orpheus could back out, Will walked back in to the cabin. “Hey Mr. Z, I just wanted to introduce you to your security detail. It’s too much work to actually secure the area, so we figured that just one REALLY good agent should do the trick.”
“HELLO MR. PRESIDENT, SIR!” Project Picasso poked her head over the seat behind Orpheus. He started in his seat, hitting his head on the ceiling. “She’s a colorful character, popular with the general population. So that’s security. Oh, and you should go put these on.” Will handed Orpheus a stack of clothes. “Why?” Orpheus frowned. “Because suits and ties don’t really fit in at Disney World.”
A few minutes later, Orpheus emerged from the other compartment. “What am I wearing, and why is it so ITCHY?” he pulled at his t-shirt unhappily, scratching his shin with his foot. Will was looking at a clipboard, organizing itinerary. “Mickey Mouse shirt and jeans. And I’m sorry not EVERYTHING can be Armani.” He rolled his eyes, confident in the knowledge that the President would never know. “Now then, you have a busy day. First you’re going to meet with a bunch of kids. Photos, etc. Then you’re going on the rides. Then more kids. Um…lunch with Mickey Mouse and company. Then-put your shirt back on, you’re not Putin. That’s better - Okay, then you’re going to the America area at Epcot…I think they have a special mascot version of you. Fundraiser dinner (you may or may not have to dress up as a princess), and back on the plane. Sound good?”
No response from Orpheus, who was trying to drown himself in his glass of water. Project Picasso shot the glass. “THREAT NEUTRALIZED! POTUS SECURED!”
Orpheus stood in front of the smiling gates of Hell. The happy screams of children grated on his ears. “Oh my gosh, Mr. President, it’s such an honor!” The woman at the ticket gate grabbed his hand and shook it rapidly. “Can I stamp your hand?” Orpheus was going to tell her exactly where to put her stamp, but Agent Will intervened. “Of course! It wouldn’t be the full Disney World experience without a hand stamp, would it Mr. President?” Orpheus forced his face into a rictus grin. “Of course not!” he held out his hand, and got a stamp (it said Tigger).
“Ooh, and can I have your autograph?” A notebook was pressed into Orpheus’ hands.
“Sure.” He took out his puncher, prepared to quickly sign in Braille. Will took it from his hands, and gave him a pen. Apparently it was less ‘abstract’. Orpheus uncapped it, and clumsily scrawled his name. He wrote with the aptitude of a fourth grader, and it showed. Still, the ticket lady seemed delighted.
After that, things passed in a montage of misery and terror. Shortly after entering the gates, Orpheus was swarmed by a slavering horde of children. They hung on his arms and legs, and were generally sticky, loud, and reminiscent of beasts from the deepest circles of Hell. They were like three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse rolled into one. Not famine though…this was America. Some of these kids were HUGE. A few of them pressed pieces of paper into Orpheus’ hands. He could smell crayon, but he had no idea what mini-Monets the little monsters were trying to give him. “Aww, these are so cool!” It was Project Picasso. She was entertaining the kids by bringing their drawings to life or something. Orpheus took a deep breath. He could do this. He could bring happiness and joy to the terrible citizens of America.
A little hand pressed something into his. Orpheus automatically unfolded it, and his thumb passed over a series of raised bumps. These read ‘hello potato archeology love cell phone’. Still, Orpheus was touched by the effort. “Thanks champ, that’s awesome. Did you teach yourself Braille?” Silence. The kid was probably nodding. Orpheus ran his fingers over the sheet again…he thought so. The one thing people usually get right when they first learn any sort of new language is their own name. “So Tony, are you having fun today?”. Probably another nod. “Glad to hear it!” The kid ran off, and Orpheus heard him babbling to his mother about how he got to meet the president, and he liked the note, and…etc, etc.
“No.” Orpheus pushed at the metal bar that locked him to the treacherous contraption. “Yes. You’re having fun. You’re going on the ride.” With the grinding of chains, the torture device set off up a seemingly endless hill.
“Hey, you’re that Ziev guy, right?” Orpheus made a noncommittal gurgling noise. “Oh my gawd, that’s so cool! I’m on Splash Mountain with the President!” A large sweaty arm draped itself around Orpheus’ shoulders. Large sweaty fingers plucked off Orpheus’ dark glasses.
Everything dropped. Orpheus froze up, certain that something had gone terribly wrong and he was going to die. There was something wet on his face. Probably gasoline. Everything was going to explode. NOT LIKE THIS. NOT HERE. The ride slowly coasted to a halt. Will helped Orpheus off the ride. Project Picasso leapt off the back carriage, where she had been keeping an eye on things. Someone handed Orpheus’ sunglasses back to him, saying something about a great photo. “Two for two boss! Keep it up.”
Over the next hour or so, Orpheus learned several things:
1. The Small World song could easily be played in Guantanamo to make prisoners talk.
2. Actually there was a lot of annoying music everywhere
3. All roller coasters were embodiments of death and should be demolished
4. People liked taking his glasses without asking, and they all needed to be shot
“Okay, lunchtime! How you holding up Zee?” Orpheus could hear the worry hidden beneath Will’s bravado. Orpheus said nothing.
They had lunch. Orpheus had to eat chicken nuggets. They were shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head. At some point he ended up with a Mickey Mouse hat. That is all that needs to be said on the matter.
Orpheus liked Epcot considerably better for one reason, and one reason alone: The Coke Pagoda. It had free soda samples. (He was vaguely reminded of the time Nixon and Khrushchev bonded over Coca-Cola…of course, Khrushchev had never gotten to go to Disney World, even though he had really wanted to). This vague, sugar-induced feeling of goodwill towards man evaporated as soon as he reached the America area. Apparently a mascot version of him was participating in shenanigans, but what they were utterly eluded Orpheus. He had to take a picture with the mascot. It smelled like old cheese. He had to dance with the mascot. Assuming, of course, that the definition of ‘dancing’ was ‘being pulled around by a thing from the depths of the uncanny valley and fearing for one’s life’.
That was only an hors d’oeuvre for the horror that was the fundraising dinner. The previous horrors had mostly run together…the sheer crushing weight of them making each indistinct. But this was a nightmare that could not be escaped. It should have begun, as fundraisers do, with bored people in suits. Orpheus could deal with bored people in suits. He could not deal with overly excited people in character trying to get him to join them.
“Come on Orpheus, this is the last event. Just choose a character and get it over with,” apparently Will’s nerves were about as frazzled as Orpheus’.
“Just. Do it.”
“Project Picasso will literally paint a costume on you if you don’t do this. And she’s been drawing princesses for little girls all day; she’s in a bit of a rut. Do not make her draw you into a princess.”
“Fine. I choose Hades.” Orpheus wanted to scowl but his face was locked up from smiling all day. He was going to have to pry his teeth apart with pliers.
“Hercules it is!” Will called for the costumier, relieved. Orpheus was going to argue with him, but he realized he would probably accidentally cause Will to trip over uneven floorboards and break his leg or something. Will was pretty much the only person in politics Orpheus did NOT want to fall and break his leg.
The night was full of puns like, “Hey Hercules! Think you can punch through the national debt?”. The food, even at over a thousand dollars a plate, was still shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head. When it was over, he practically ran out the door.
Air Force One could not get back to Washington fast enough. “So Mr. Ziev, did you have a good time?” Will asked.
“How’re the poll numbers?” Orpheus asked in response.
“Skyrocketed. You apparently put on a pretty good show for someone who literally threw their t-shirt out of a plane while shrieking about water boarding Mickey Mouse as soon as no one was looking.” Will sighed.
Orpheus said nothing else for the rest of the flight.
“I am going to go shower for five hours, and then go to sleep. In a suit.” Orpheus jumped from the plane, brushed past security, and went to his quarters.
“He had a great time, didn’t he?” said Project Picasso.
“Sure, let’s go with that.” Will replied.