Chapter 9:

The Visitors’ Esteemed Privilege


The ride wasn’t long. But as Katie pressed her cheeks against the carriage’s plastic windows, she made sure to take in every detail she could before it ended.

Even in a small, relatively unknown attraction like this one, there were hotels and lodges everywhere. Even with their cheap construction, they still all seemed to be full.

“This place was my second purchase.” Kiddie remarked, itching his head. “I hope it’ll be just as big as Berrytown, one day.”

They parked outside the small castle-shaped office the girls had seen when they entered town, stepping out of the carriage and onto the backs of a few employees who created human steps for them.

“Weirdos…” Frankie mumbled, trying not to slip as she walked over them with her cheap flip flops.

When they reached ground, Mr. Parker pointed them in the direction of the bridge going across his small moat around his castle. “This is the only way in, and the only way out. Only special guests are allowed here.”

Drew glared at Frankie. She did not deserve this honor. And even he could see she was only being polite by accepting it. She didn’t even want to be here.

They entered, and were surprised to see just one central room- only a bathroom off to the side disrupted the layout. A tiny desk sat at the far end of the circular layout, resting on the simple hardwood floor that perfectly paired with the stark yellow lighting from the large chandelier hanging from the ceiling, the only decoration in the entire residence.

Kiddie Parker sat at this desk. And turning to the children, he asked them:

“What do you come to my park for? What is it that excites you about it?”

A simple question, but one neither of the girls could answer in the way he wanted.

“I’m here for my sister.” Frankie spoke. “She’s the one who wanted to go.”

“Why, then?” He asked her. “Why here?”

“Because it was close!” Katie cheered.

“So you’re just celebrating your winter break from school, then.”

“Not really! I’m graduated. I just planned to see every park anyway, so I came here first!”

Drew’s focus was stolen from Frankie to this girl. Did she really mean that?

“That’s wonderful.” Any amusement Kiddie found in her statement was turned to pure admiration quite quickly. “If you’d like to visit my pride and joy next, I could give you a V.I.P pass for all my parks.”

“You mean it, sir?” She beamed.

Drew was just as impressed with this girl as his father, but this still shook him. “No way!” He shouted. “Dad- dad, we can’t be handing out-“

“It’s quite alright.” He said, waving the brat away. “You put these girls through heck, you know. I’m going to repay them.”

“That’s all well and good…” Katie suddenly turned to the wood below. “But… I mean, we’re hardly done here, sir. A pass to our next destination would be great, don’t get me wrong- but, um… well… really, if I could have anything right now… it’d be some cotton candy.”

The man gave a single syllable of laughter. “Yes, yes. I understand. Here. I think this should cover everything.”

Parker handed to Katie not only a golden VIP pass bracelet, just like Drew’s- but a food card as well- a subscription and the only way to afford meals these days outside of cooking yourself.

“It’s got a full year on it. And it isn’t linked to my park, either- so long as you’re in the United States, food services everywhere will accept it.” He handed another to Frankie, who was only half-paying attention. “In other words, if it’s within President Washington’s territory, you can eat wherever you want. Though… I do hope you’ll visit Berrytown next. I often fear I will never top that location.”

“Thank you, sir!” Katie shined, nudging her little sister.

“T-Thanks…” she snapped to attention.

“Now go. And have as much fun as you can. If you ever need me, I take every call to my parks personally. The number is the first thing you see on our website.” He tore open the back of his head to reveal a machine implant attached to an older-style cellular phone. “I’m always talking to plenty of people at a time these days, so I can certainly take a few more.” He closed his cybernetics. “Customer service is a dead art these days. Killed by Kidney’s philosophy of constant growth without putting in the effort to really connect with your guests. He’d have you believe you can only have it one way, or the other… though maybe, he’s right… if he wasn’t, I’d be as big as him by now…”

“Don’t say that, dad!” Drew grabbed at his father’s shirt. “Dad, you… what you do is a million times better! You’ll keep growing bigger, no matter what, just like mom said you would!”

Kiddie gave a sad smile to his boy. “We don’t know that for a fact, son. All we can do… is keep trying. You girls run along now. I have a lot of work to attend to.”

Katie nodded. As she turned around and ran for the door, Frankie was left in the dust for a moment. In that moment, she looked at Drew.

“Kid… let’s both try harder not to be assholes. See ya.”

She sauntered off to the door.

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