Man vs. Metal
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Evina was speechless. His bill was open but no words came out.
"Are you alright?" The Glad Handed asked.
"How did you all get here?" He demanded.
"Shouldn't it be obvious?" A deep voice answered. The crowd of cogs parted and the chairman stepped forward. "Remember we have the connection in our minds. We heard your cry for help and came to assist you. That was our promise."
Evina was still frozen but he finally managed to laugh. "Wow, that's great! We are in serious trouble with these soldiers."
"That'll be no problem." A Big Wig assured him, cracking his knuckles. "We'll bring justice to those fiends."
The soldier who had just been knocked out was starting to stir. He looked shocked to see he was surrounded by robots now. "How weird can this get?"
The Big Wig walked up to the soldier and slapped him in the face. "Shame on you for such behavior."
The man raised a shotgun and blasted the cog to pieces. That was when the chaos continued again.
The other members of the squad had heard the shot and ran back through the exit of Splash Mountain to face the cogs.
"We'll distract them." The chairman said to Evina. "All you can do is get out of here as fast as you can."
"What? That's the same plan as before!" The duck exclaimed.
"Let those boys fight." Kate said. "As for me, I'm getting tired of all this." While the soldiers began firing at the cogs and bullets ricocheted noisily off the metal plates all over the room, she sneaked behind them to escape the ride. Gyro, Glue Stick, and Evina followed.
"And where is my helper, anyway?" Gyro wondered. "I'm worried about him and I last time I checked he was with you!"
Glue Stick was nervous again. "I don't know! I lost track of him for a while and then he showed up at the end of the pirate's ride."
"Did he escape?!"
"I swear he did! I was sure he was following me but now he disappeared again and it wasn't my fault!"
"Well I'm going to help Kate and Evina get someplace safe. You should go back and find him."
"Are you kidding? I barely got out of there alive!"
"Well you aren't getting any medal of honor until we all get out of here alive, and that means the helper too. Besides, you have a way of being really lucky in these situations for some reason."
"What! I- I- uh... fine."
Glue Stick jogged back to New Orleans Square. It seemed to be quieter there now. He only heard the crackling of the fire from the pirate's ride. The smoldering remains of the building glowed where it stood.
The helper was standing still, looking out into the ash and smoke with determination.
"What are you doing now?" The horse demanded. "Gyro is mad at me now because you..."
A squeak interrupted him. The helper pointed to the glowing embers.
"Look. You and I both saw what happened in there. He's dead."
The helper shook its head.
"Oh really? Then what are you going to do when he rises out of that pit of fire? You think you can stop him then? What's the plan?"
"Hide." It squeaked.
"You're pathetic." The horse said, crossing his arms and turning around in rebellion, but the helper wouldn't move, and he was certain it would not like to be picked up from that spot. So with a sigh he turned around again. "Ok. Have it your way. Where do you want me to hide?"
It pointed to what looked like an old mansion not too far away. The building was mostly white, artistic in an old way, and different from anything else in the area.
"Fine. See you around then."
It didn't appear that there was anything special about that place but he didn't argue with Gyro's helper. As he arrived at the building's doors he opened them with a creak and walked inside.
It was darker than he expected. The lights were off. But then his eyes adjusted and he saw that the lights were actually on; they were just very dim. They were candles hanging on the walls and a chandelier on the ceiling. He thought he saw spider webs. This was unexpected.
"I think they call this the Haunted Mansion or something." Glue Stick said to himself. "It's not really all that impressive." He walked onward into a large circular room which was lit similarly and was oddly empty. "What is this all about?"
He looked up to the ceiling and then turned around to see everything. There were four paintings on the wall. Then he realized something was wrong. "Hey! Wasn't there a door just there?"
A creepy voice suddenly spoke and it frightened Glue Stick enough to yelp. "Our tour begins here in this gallery where you see paintings of some of our guests as they appeared in their corruptible, mortal state."
He didn't know if he was hallucinating but the paintings seemed to be growing, showing detail that wasn't there before.
"Your cadaverous pallor portrays an aura of foreboding, almost as though you sense a disquieting metamorphosis."
"You're t-telling me." The horse stammered.
"Is this haunted room actually stretching? Or is it your imagination? Hmm? And consider this dismaying observation. This chamber has no windows and no doors." His ghostly laugh echoed around the room.
Glue Stick was sweating now. He could now see that the people in the portraits were facing imminent death. He didn't know how this was possible.
"Which offers you this chilling challenge: To find a way out! HAHAHAHAHA! ... Of course there's always my way."
Glue Stick gulped. "And what's that?"
There was a clap of thunder, sudden darkness, and a brief flash of lightning which showed a skeleton hung from the ceiling. Glue Stick's popped out from his head. He screamed louder than he ever had before.
Fortunately the lights returned and an opening had appeared in the wall. There was a way to escape.
"Oh, I didn't mean to frighten you prematurely." The voice sounded amused. "The real chills come later. Now, as they say, 'look alive' and we'll continue our little tour."
Glue Stick took tiny steps into the next room. He was shaking nonstop. "What if I don't want to continue the tour?"
He was in a long hallway with windows. There was a storm outside which created lots of noise. He thought he saw something unusual in every portrait in the hall whenever the lightning flashed.
"I'm sorry I offended you or something. Okay, I get it now, this place is scary."
"We have 999 happy haunts here but there's room for 1000. Any volunteers? If you insist on lagging behind, you may not need to volunteer."
The horse whimpered and started walking faster. He had the feeling he was being watched. Now the real ride was in sight. Some mysterious black vehicles were moving in a line down a track. He didn't know what to do but entered one of them anyway. The safety bar lowered itself.
He buried his face in his gloves. "Oh, please let this be over. Please. Why did the helper send me in here? I bet it's laughing its little light bulb head off. Son of a weasel..." The ride was unusually creepy. He wasn't sure how any of this was possible to simulate.
Then at one point when he was starting to feel a little safer, a different voice spoke out of the darkness.
"Just you wait. I'll teach you the real meaning of fear."
It was Johnson, but Glue Stick knew it had to be an illusion. That guy was gone and he knew it. Still his heart kept beating faster.
He went deeper into the mansion for several more minutes. He went into a graveyard with lots of singing ghosts. The ride had to be over soon, he thought. Just then the ride announcer came back to speak. "Beware of hitchhiking ghosts!"
The vehicle moved into a room full of mirrors. Johnson appeared as a ghostly figure sitting beside Glue Stick. His clothes were burnt and he looked angry. Still, the face briefly grinned in a sickeningly sinister smile like he knew a secret.
Glue Stick was panting. As soon as the safety bar lifted he darted away to the exit as fast as he could. He could see the light of day up ahead but it was only a minor comfort. Now all he could do was run to the helper who was still staring at the ashes of the pirates ride. "What was that all about?!"
The helper did not reply.
"Because of you I'm being haunted by Johnson's ghost!"
It hesitated before replying. It raised a finger and pointed behind him. "No. Alive!"
"What is that supposed to mean?" Glue Stick demanded.
"It means I'm still alive, you idiot. But very soon you won't be." The horse spun around and to his horror he saw that Johnson was indeed alive. The man looked tired and beaten but still able to fight.
"New plan." The horse said to the helper. "Let's not hide but RUN!"
Johnson did not let them out of his sight. He was determined to finish this.
Evina had barely reached Fantasyland before he ran out of breath and had to stop. Gyro and Kate looked similar. It was only a matter of time before the soldiers would catch up with him. Then the worst possible thing happened. A military truck carrying reinforcements arrived at the park. It skidded to a halt in front of them. They couldn't afford to rest anymore.
"Are you kidding me?" Kate cried out.
Evina ran to the nearest visible ride, a snowy mountain.
"I hope this is fast." Gyro remarked.
"Me too." The Duck agreed. They hopped inside and Kate pressed the button. Together as a team they were getting faster at doing this thing.
In the noisy pitch-black tunnel going up the hill he spoke again. "Man, they sure do have a lot of mountains around here. At least it seems fast, though."
There was a pause. "Do you think they're behind us now?" Kate asked.
Evina tried to find out. "I can't see or hear anything."
There was a roar and they were faced with a ferocious yeti. It surprised them but they were not too scared. They were at the top of the hill now and starting to roll down. A few seconds later they were scared by something else. Soldiers were both in the bobsled behind them and the one to their side. They were using the other track as well.
The ride was old and shaky. As they accelerated the bumps became harder. It would be very difficult to fight from here.
Kate still managed to maneuver her sword to deflect the bullets shot from both sides. Sometimes the other track would take a different turn and leave them as they went through a tunnel but often there would be a moment when they saw each other and were shot at. They had to do something more.
Evina tried to stand up even though it was foolish to try. They were moving fast, zig-zagging through icy tunnels and sometimes the clearance was dangerously low. "I'll take it from here."
"You sure?" the girl asked.
"Yeah." Evina took her sword and deflected the bullets until the blade began to glow. He didn't notice until they shot through another dark tunnel how bright it had become.
"Duck!" Gyro shouted.
Evina turned around and saw that he was about to slam into a stone arch. The bobsled would make a quick dive underneath but he wouldn't make it.
It was extremely dangerous but he decided to make a sudden move. He jumped to do a front flip and his body barely cleared the arch, slicing it apart with the sword, causing it to fall apart into many pieces behind him. He landed with his feet on his seat down below. It has worked flawlessly.
The soldiers behind them had their bobsled derailed by the rocks and they were launched out of their seats, landing in the down water below.
Now Evina could see the other track. The sword was still glowing and he now tried something new. He threw it onto the other track and it stuck in the ground. When the bobsled hit it there was a shockwave of energy released and it was flipped over. The soldiers were catapulted into the water with the others.
The three heroes arrived back at the entrance with amazement.
"That was close." Evina said, wiping the sweat from his face.
"That was amazing!" Gyro beamed. "Did you see that blast of energy?"
"All I saw was Evina being stupid with my sword." Kate mumbled. "It's not replaceable, you know."
Some of the soldiers were crawling out of the water slowly, groaning with pain. "I can't believe it!" One of them shouted. "How are we going to explain this?"
The girl ran to the sword, picked it up from the ground, and returned to the soldiers. "Ok, drop your weapons!"
The same man put his hands up and replied. "We lost them."
"Oh... I see. Then everyone follow me. And don't try any funny business!" She led them to what looked like storage room concealed behind bushes nearby, made them go inside, and then locked the door. Immediately afterwards she dropped to the ground looking exhausted. "Ok, now we're safe."
"WAIT!" a metallic voice shouted. A Pencil Pusher was running down the street towards them, his feet clanking on the ground with every step. "I have to talk to you!"
"What is it?" Evina asked. "Is everything alright?"
The cog looked very scared. "No. We are losing. We can't hold them back forever. That man, Johnson if I heard correctly, he has returned and we can't stop him."
"Great. That's exactly what we need." But right in the middle of Evina's sarcasm he saw something out of the corner of his eye. The cogs were swarming through the streets like they were fleeing something terrifying. Glue Stick and the helper were in that group with them. Their shouts were heard louder and louder as they passed by the Matterhorn. Not far behind them were the soldiers with the man in black at the front of the group. He looked infuriated, but when he spotted Evina his rage looked like it was boiling over.
"Dang!" Evina spat. "I wish I had something else that could help!" Then he remembered it, and it had been with him for such a long time that he wasn't sure if this was even the right time. He took the vial of red liquid from his pocket, given to him by his friend Rocky. It was only to be used in an emergency, and this was one. He popped off the cork and held it up to his mouth. "Um, he it goes..." Then he swallowed it all in one gulp.
The effects were immediate. His mouth was burning. The heat rose higher and higher and it never stopped. Something had gone wrong. This was unbearable.
"AHHHHH!" Evina screamed and the pain gave him sudden energy and reflexes. He began to glow and emit steam. It wasn't the power of the shadow, but it was still very useful.
A soldier ran up to him and Evina disarmed him with ease, moving out of the way from any incoming attack. This went on and on and soon the troops were dumbfounded at how they were losing. He fought alongside the cogs until he was exhausted. The soldiers were knocked out left and right until they were each disarmed. They were escorted away to the storage room that Kate had found. It must've been really crowded in there.
"NO!" Johnson cried. He was pinned to the wall of the castle; the cogs had stapled his clothes.
The chaos was dying down. All of the soldiers were locked up, the toons were on the ground resting and exhausted, and the remaining cogs were down for repairs. The entire park was a mess scattered with broken pieces of rides, buildings, and cog parts. The head of the Walt Disney statue was missing. But despite all the destruction Evina was glad that they had finally won the battle.
"I think we really did it, Evina." Gyro smiled at his son. "We saved Toontown."
"Yeah, you did an okay job." Kate admitted. "But I was doing a lot of the work too."
"I appreciate your help." Evina told her. He then went over to check on Glue Stick and the helper. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm ok." The horse mumbled.
"You really did save us, Glue Stick." The duck told him.
"Yep." Evina grinned. "So um... thanks."
The helper squeaked.
"Oh, and thank you too." Evina added.
With nothing else to fight, Evina knew that the last key to this mystery lied in that man in black stapled to the wall. Johnson had a lot to explain. So Evina wiped the dust off his shirt, put on a bold face, and marched confidently up to the enemy to stare him in the face. "Alright, you're going to tell me everything!"
The pale face didn't change. His eyes looked up into Evina's eyes with unnatural coldness, almost unreal. "As you wish," he agreed, "but you may not like what you hear."
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