Chapter Nine

"Yes, I remember the first time I came down here with you," the Doctor said to Rain while he held her hand. "Back then, Disneyworld wasn't a complete wreck and we got to watch cast members take their heads off. Those were the days. Eh, Latara?"

"Yeah, I remember tons of people here and the rides actually working and it had a nice pleasant smell that didn't make you gag," Rain said. "Memories!"

"What are you two talking about?" Brad asked.

"We're talking about the usual family holiday when the theme park above us actually worked and we had fun in it," the Doctor said. "You see, once upon a time, this place wasn't in complete devastation. Which is why we're on our way to see your parents and when we do, I want to speak to the one named Charlie."

Brad jerked his head around.

"How do you know about her?"

"Telepathy. My brother had the pleasure of meeting Dawg and told me all about the delightful bruises he has all over his body. I know you don't know me that well but know this; I don't like people who abuse children."

"Look, Dawg goes crazy from time to time and she has to beat him to control him."

"My brother goes crazy all the time and as far as I know, his wife Rose doesn't beat him. At least she's never said she has. Who knows what goes on in their marriage? But the point is, this is a child, a defenseless child, and no one has the right to beat him or call him a degrading name. So in addition to your father, kindly point out his mother too."

"You better do as he says, because you don't want to make him angry," Rain said.

"Look, I don't know if my dad will even talk to you," Brad said. "So you better stop threatening me."

"We're not threatening you," the Doctor said. "I'm just telling you the facts. I have several children of my own and I have never abused any of them, even when they were unruly. In fact, I have a daughter who was abused and tortured before she managed to escape and find us so for that reason alone, I wouldn't beat them the way Charlie beats Dawg. I realize that times are tough and it's not exactly paradise here but if you can't deal with your own child, give him to someone who can."

Brad was about to answer that when suddenly they were surrounded by adults who swarmed out of several nearby rooms and shoved spears, knives and guns in their faces.

"Let me guess, these are the parents," Duer said dryly.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?" a grizzled man said as he thrust a spear in their faces.

"I'm the Doctor and I'll tell you more if you put the spears and weapons down," the Doctor said.

"It's okay, Travis, they're with us," Brad said.

Travis glanced at Brad and commanded everyone to lower their weapons. They did and Travis walked up to the Doctor. The Doctor gave him a once over. He had shoulder length snow white hair and a matching beard, a slightly wrinkled, careworn face and he walked with a slight limp.

"How did you find us? I wasn't aware there were any more people in the vicinity," Travis said.

"We're travelers and we were on our way here for a holiday and found the place in ruins," the Doctor said. "We knew about this place from previous holidays and decided to come down here to see if there were any people. And apparently we found some."

"What do you mean, "Travelers"? And…holiday? You mean vacation? Here?" Travis said while the other adults looked at each other in disbelief. "You're traveling through wastelands to go on vacation?"

"No, we're time travelers," the Doctor said. "We can travel through time and space. We were on our way to Disneyworld for a holiday but my time vehicle apparently overshot the date I was hoping on and we landed up here. What's happened here?"

"Wait, time travelers? You have a time machine?" Travis said as everyone gave him and his family wary looks.

"Yes, I do," the Doctor said proudly.

"Are you insane?"

"Not really, not enough that it impairs me," the Doctor said.

"And yet, you imagine that you travel through time?" a young woman said.

"I don't imagine, I do travel in time. We do and we came here by mistake. Now…can someone please humor us and tell us what happened here. Why is Disneyworld in ruins? Why is the motorway abandoned? What…happened?"

"They came from the skies and started taking people," Travis said. "I was here with my kids when the spaceships came. They started beaming up people and a bunch of us ran and started hiding in the buildings. After most of us found shelter, they came down and searched the buildings and started taking people that way. The staff members near us led us down here. They barred the doors and we hid in the tunnels. Eventually they left…or left here anyway. They started going all over the country and then the world, coming back again and again until most of the humans and animals were taken. The survivors like us found places to hide. For a time we had news broadcasts but they stopped a long time ago so I'm not sure what's happening now but I do know that there are things that hide inside the rides. Don't know if they're the aliens but something's up there and whatever it is pretty much has the run of the park now. We stay down here and only venture up there occasionally when we need something. For several years now, there's been no new people joining our ranks which is why it's a shock to see all of you. I'm sorry if we're not rolling out the welcome wagon but after all that's happened, we're a bit wary of strangers."

"Understandable," the Doctor said. "However, we might be able to help you. We're experts at fighting aliens, believe it or not. We only want to help, that's all."

"You might have your work cut out for ya," Travis said. "Whatever those things are, they're numerous enough that they damn near cleaned out the Earth. Like I said, there's pockets of people spread across the world. Hiding like we are or possibly trying to rebuild their lives. We try to manage as best we can here and make our own society but it's stressful sometimes."

"Yes, I wanted to speak to Charlie. I have two brothers and a sister who are babysitting your children. I have a daughter and so does Duer here and they're also with the children. However, my brother told me about Dawg and the bruises on his body. I don't approve of child abuse and I want to speak to Dawg's mother."

A nervous look passed among the native humans and Travis cleared his throat.

"Charlie's out doing guard duty in one of the tunnels," he said. "We don't condone child abuse either but Charlie's young. She was just a little girl when we went underground and well, she…was raped, to put it bluntly by a young man who has since been banished from the tunnels. Like I said, she's young and inexperienced and the kid was born deaf and it's basically babies having babies, you know. That's not an excuse; I'm just trying to give you the situation here. We try to help but we can't watch her all the time, Doctor. We're all tense and under stress and some of us take it out on others."

"I'd still like to speak to her when she comes back from guard duty," the Doctor said.

Travis nodded. The Doctor and his family made introductions after that and the survivors did the same. After that, they decided to walk back to the children's wing.

"We gave the children a number of rooms since there are so many," Travis explained as they walked. "There are a lot of tunnels and a lot of rooms and storage areas. And Disney is practically a city in itself which means that so far we have everything we need and we haven't starved yet or done without clothes. In the beginning, we went up to the souvenir stores and raided them and took all the clothes we could find so we have a stockpile. All the food we could lay our hands on and things like flashlights, first aid kits, necessities like that. We've done all right for ourselves and we've been lucky so far. Occasionally, if we have to go up for something we go in groups for safety and get what we need and get back here. So far the things don't seem to know the tunnels are down here and we'd like to keep it that way."

"Do you know about the lift that goes up inside Cinderella Castle?" the Doctor asked him.

"Yes. We use the bathtub and the beds on occasion," Travis said. "And we keep that place as spotless as we can get it. Actually, it's good that you're here now. We could use some more help, more people to share the workload."

"Yes, but we don't intend to stay here," the Doctor said. "We only want to find out what happened, try to fix what happened and then leave."

"If you're time travelers though, are you from the future?" a woman asked.

"Yes. And…we're also aliens but…we won't hurt you," the Doctor said quickly when he saw the alarm on their faces. "We protect Earth."

"P'eh, not much to protect now," Travis said, waving his hand dismissively.

"That may be true but we're still going to try to help in any way we can," the Doctor said.

"Well, we can sure use it," Travis replied. "If you're our protectors, thank you. It's been a long time coming but better late than never."

The Doctor smiled and nodded as he and the others slowly walked back to the children's area.

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