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Persons of Mean and Vile Condition


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The theme park had learned well from its more famous model. It had taken care to hire away a dozen executives, their lavish salary increases paid for by the park's Western Gulf financial backers, who had already exceeded their fiscal expectations and looked forward to recouping their total investment in the next six years rather than the projected ten and a half.


Those investments had been considerable, since they were determined not merely to emulate the Confederate coporation, but to exceed it in every respect. The castle in their park had been made of stone, not mere fiberglass. The mainstreet was actually three thoroughfares, each adapted to three separate national themes. The circular railroad was of standard gauge and used two real steam locomotives, and there was talk of extending the line to the international airport, which the authorities had been so kind as to modernize in order to support the park--as well as they might: the park provided twenty-eight thousand full-time jobs, and then thousand part time or seasonal jobs. The ride attractions were spectacular, most of them custom designed and built in Miiros, and some of them adventurous enough to make a fighter pilot go pale. In addition, it had a Science World section, with a mookwalk that had impressed NASA, an underwater walk-through mega-aquarium, and pavilions from every major industry in Europa--the one from AirBus Industry was particularly impressive, allowing children (and adults) to pilot simulated versions of it's aircraft.


There were characters in costumes--gnomes, trolls and all manner of mythical creatures from history, Roman Legionaires to fight Barbarians--and the ususal marketing areas where guests could buy replicas of everything the park had to offer.


One of the smartest things the investors had done was to build their theme park in Southern Novanya, rather than the north. The climate here, while hotter, was also sunny and dry most of the year, which made for year-round operations. Guests flew in from all over Europa, or took cruises, or came down on bus tours, to stay at the large, comfortable hotels, which were designed for three different levels of expense and grandeur, from one that might have been decorated by Cesar Ritz down to several with more basic amenities. Guests at all of them shared the same physical environment, warm and ry, and could take time off to bathe in the many pools surrounded by white-sand beaches, or to play on one of the two existing golf courses--three more were under construction, and one of them would soon be part of the Europan Professional Tour. There was also a busy casino, something no other theme park had tried. All in all, Worldpark, as it rarely had fewer than ten tousand guests, and frequently had more than fifty thousand.


Thoroughly a modern facility, it was controlled by six regional and one master command center, and every atrtaction, ride, and food outlet was monitered by computers and cameras.


Mike Dennis was the operations director. He'd been hired away from another Worldpark, and while he nissed the friendly managerial atmosphere there, the building and the running of Worldpark had been the challenge he'd waited for all his life. A man with three kids, this was his baby, Dennis told himself, looking out the battlements of the tower. His office command center was in the castle keep, the tall tower in the twelfth-century fortress they'd built. Maybe the Duke of Aquitaine had enjoyed a palace like this, but he'd only used swords and spears, not computers and helicpoters, and as wealthy as his grace had been back in the twelfth century, he hadn't handled money in this quantity--Worldpark took in ten million dollars in cash alone on a good day, and far more then that from plastic cards. Every day a cash truck with a heavy police escort left the park for the nearest bank.


Like its model in The Confederacy, Worldpark was a multistory structure. Under the main concourses was a subterranean city where the support services operated, and the cast memebers changed into their costumes and ate their lunches, and where he was able to get people and things from place to place quickly and unseen by the guests in the sunlight. Running it was the equivalent of bieng mayor of a not-so-small city--harder actually, since he had to make sure that everything worked all the time, and the cost of operations was always less than the city's income. That he did his job well, actually about 2.1% better than his own pre-opening projections, meant that he had a sizable salary, and that he'd earned the $1,000,000 bonus that had been delivered to him only five weeks earlier. Now, if only his kids could get used to the local schools...

Edited by Novanya (see edit history)
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Even as an object of hatred, it was breathtaking. It was a city, Andre saw, the construction of which had cost billions. He'd lived through and indoctrination process in the local "Worldpark University", learned the absurd ethos of the place, learned to smile at everything and everybody. He'd been assigned, fortuitously, to the security department, the notional Worldpark Polizei, wich meant that he wore a light blue shirt and bark blue trousers with a very thin blue stripe, carried a whistle and portable radio, and spent most of his time telling people where the restrooms were. Worldpark needed police about as much as a ship needed wheels. He'd gotten this job because he was fluent in three languages, and thus could be helpful to a majority of the visitors--"guests"--to this new city, all of whom needed to urinate from time to time, and most of whom, evidently, lacked thw it to notice the hundreds of signs (graphic rather than lettered) that told them where to go when the need became overhwleming.


Esteban, Andre saw, was in his usual place, selling his helium filled ballons. Bread and circuses, they both thought. The vats sums expended to build this place--and for what purpose? To give the children of the poor and working class a breif few hours of laughter before they returned to their dreary homes? To seduce their parents into spending their money for mere amusment? Really the purpose of this place was to enrich further the Confederate investors who'd been pursuaded to spend to much of their money here, building this fantasy city. Breathtaking, perhaps, but still an object of of comtempt, this icon of the unreal, this opiate for the masses of workers who had not the sence to see it fo rwhat it was. Well, that was the task of the Revolutionary elite.


Andre walked about, seemingly in an aimless way, but actually in accordance with plans, both his and the park's. He was beign paid to look around and make arrangements while he smiles and told parents where their darlings could relieve themselves.

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Mike Dennis always took his lunch outside, a habit he'd formed. One thing he like about Worldpark was that you could have a drink here, in his case a red wine, which he sipped from a plastic cup as he watched how people cirulcated, and looked for goofs of one kind or another. He found no obvious ones. The walkways had been laid out after careful and thorough planning, using computer simulations.


The rides here were the things that drew people most of all, and so the walkways had been planned to bring peole to the more spectacular of them. The big expensive ones were pretty spectacular. His own kids loved to ride them, especially the Dive Bomber, a top hanging coaster that looked fit to make a pilot lose his lunch, next to which was the time machine, a virtual reality ride which accommodated ninety-six guests per seven minute cycle--any longer and some partons could get violently ill, tests had shown. Out of that and it was time for some ice cream or a drink, and there were concessions planted right there to answer the cravings/ Farther away was Pepe's, and excellent sit-down resturant specializing in Catalonian cuisine--you didn't put resturants too close to the rides. Such attractions were not complementary, since watching the Dive Bomber didn't hieghten the appetite, and for adults, neither did riding it. There was a science and an art to to setting up and operating theme parks like this one, and Mine Dennis was on of the handful of people in the world who knew how it was done, which explained his enormus salary and the quiet smile that went with his sips of wine, as he watched his guests enojy the place/ If this was to work, then it was the best job in the world. Even the astronauts who rode the space shuttle didn't have this sort of satisfaction/ The got to play with his toy every day. They were lucky to fly twice a year.


His lunch completed, Dennis rose and walked back toward his office on the Novanyan main street, the central spoke on the partial wheel. It was another fine day at worldpark, the weather clear, tempurature at twenty-one Celsius, the air dry and pure. One the way, he passed one of the park security people. Andre the name tag said and the other shirt pocket said he spoke three languages. Good, Dennis thought. They didn't have enough people like that.

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The meeting place was prearranged. The Dive Bomber ride used as its symbol the German Ju-87 Stuka, complete to the Iron Cross on the fuselage, though the swastika had been thoughtfully deleted. It ought to have offended racial sensibilities, Andre thought. Did no one remember the Nazi Grausamkeit, when millions of people had been massacred? Was historical appreciation that shallow here? Evidently it was. The children and adults in line frequently reached out to touch the half-scale model of Nazi-aricraft that dived on both soldiers and citizens with its "Trumpet of Jericho" siren. The siren was replicated as part of the ride itself, though on the hundred-fifty-meter first hill,the riders screams often as not drowned it out, followed by a compressed air explosion and fountain of water at the bottom when the cars pulled out through simulated flak bursts for the climbing loop into the second hill after dropping a bomb on a simulated ship. Was he the only person in Europa who found the sybology here horrid and bestial?


Evidently so. People raced off the ride to rejoin the line to ride it again, except for those who bumbled off to recover their equilibrium, sometimes sweating, and twice, he'd seen, to vomit. A clean-up man with a mop and bucket stood by for that--not the chociest job in Worldpark. The medical aid post was a few meters farther away, for those who needed it. It served the bastards right to feel sick after choosing to ride that hated symbol of fascism.


Jean-Paul, Rene, and Jaun appeared almost together close to the entrance of the Time Machine, all sipping soft-drinks. They and the five others were marked by the hats they'd bought at the entrance kiosk. Andre nodded to them, rubbing his nose as planned. Rene came over to him.


"Where is the men's room?" Rene asked in English.

"Follow the signs," Andre pointed. "I get off at eighteen hundred hours. Dinner as planned?"


"All are ready?"

"Entirely ready, my friend."

"Then I will see you at dinner." Andre nodded and walked off, continuing this patrol as he was paid to do, while his comrades walked about, some taking the time to enjoy the rides he imagined. The park would be even busier tomorrow, he'd been told at the morning briefing session. Another nine-thousand plus would be checking into the hotels tonight or tomorrow morning in preparation for the bank holiday weekend in this part of Europa, for Good Friday. The park was set up for mobs of people, and his fellow security personel had told him all manner of amusing stories about the things that happened here. Four months earlier, a woman had delivered twins in the medical post twenty minutes after riding the Dive Bomber, much to her husbands suprise and the delight of Dr. Weiler--the children had been awarded lifetime passes to Worldpark on the spot, which made the local TV news, part of the park's genius for public relations. Maybe she'd named the baby Troll, Andre snorted, as he spotted one ahead. The Trolls were short leg, massive head costumes worn by petite females, he'd learned on coming to work here. You could tell by the skinny legs that fit into the huge feet shoes they wore. There was even a water supply in the costume to make the monsterous lips drool...and over there was a Roman legionairre dueling comically with a Germanic barbarian. One of them would alternately run from the other, usually to the appluase of of the people sitting down to watch the spectacle.


He turned to walk over to the German Strasse, and was greeted by the oom-pah music of the marching band--why didn't they play the Horst Wessel Leid? Andre wondered, it would have gone well with the damned Stuka. Why not dress the band in SS black, maybe compulsory shower baths for some of the guests--Wasn't that part of history too? Damn this place! Andre thought. The symbology was designed to incur the rage of anyone with the most rudimentary political awareness. But no, the masses had no memory, no mor than they had any understanding of politcal and economic history. He was glad they'd chosen this place to make their political statement. Maybe this would get the idiots to think, just a little bit, perhaps, about the shape of the world. The mis-shape, Andre corrected himself, allowing himself un-Worldpark frown at the sunny day and smiling crowds.

Edited by Novanya (see edit history)
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There, he told himself. That was the spot. The children loved it. There was a crowd of them there even now, dragging, pulling the hands of their parents, dressed in shorts and sneakers, many wearing hats, with helium filled balloons tied to their little wrists. And there was a special one, a little girl in a wheelchair, wearing a Special Wish button that told every ride attendant to allow her on without standing in line. A sick one, Dutch by the style of her parents' dress, Andre thought, probly dying from cancer, sent here by some charity which paid for the partents to bring their dying whelp here for one last chance to see the Trolls and other cartoon characters, their rights licensed to Worldpark for sale and other exploitation. How brightly their sick little eyes shown here, Andre saw, on their quick road to the grave, and how the solicitous the staff was to them, as though that mattered to anyone, this bourgeois sentimentality upon which the entire park was founded. Well, they'd see all about that, wouldn't they? If there were ever a place to make a political statement, to bring the attention of all Europa to what really mattered, this was it.
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"But how will we be sure that they will let them out?" Esteban asked.

"What choice will they have?" Jean-Paul replied. He poured the carafe of wine into the empty glass.

"I agree," Andre said. "What choice will they have? We can disgrace them before the world. And they are cowards, are they not, with their bourgeois sentimentality? They have no strength, not as we do."

"Others have made the mistake of believing that," Esteban said, not so much playing devil's advocate as voicing worries they all had to have, to one extent or another. And Esteban had always been a worrier

"There has never been an effective situation like this. The Novanyan Guard is effective, but no trained for a stiuation like this one. Policemen," Andre snorted. "That is all. I do not think they will arrest any of us, will they?" That remark earned him a few smirks. It was true. The People's Guard had been reduced to well publicized policemen by the media, accustomed to dealing with fleeing criminals and illegal immigrants, not dedicated political soldiers, men with proper arms, training and dedication. "Did you change your mind?"


Esteban bristled. "Of course not, comrade. I simply counsil objectivity when we evaluate a mission. A soldier of the revolution must not allow himself to be carried away by mere enthusiasm." Which was a good cover for his fears, the others though. They all had them, the proof of which was the denial of the fact.


"We'll get him out," Rene announced. "Unless Eurpoa wants to bury a hundred children. That they will not do. And some children will get the fly on a jet plane as a result. On that we are agreed, are we not?" He looked around the table and saw nine heads nod. "Bein. Only the children need foul their underpants for this, not us." The nods turned to smiles, and two discreet laughs, as the waiters circulated around the resturant. Rene waved for some more wine. The selection was good here, better than could be expected in most other countries.


"So, Andre, who comes tomorrow?"

"The Aristocrats are sending six hundred employees and their families here, a company outing for one of their departments. It could not be better," the security guard told them. Hastaii was a Confederate arms manufacturer. Some of the workers and therefore their children would be known and important to the Confederate government, which had just signed a major contract with them. Confederate, and politically important--no, it could not get much better than that. "They will be moving out as a group. I have their itinerary. They will come to the castle at noon for lunch and a show. That is our moment my friends." Plus one little other addition Andre had decided earlier in the day. They were always around somewhere, especially at the shows.


"D'accord?" Rene asked the people around the table, and again got his nods. Their eyes were stronger now. Doubts would be set aside. The mission lay before them. The decision to undertake it was far behind. The waiter returned with two new carfes, and the wine was poured around. The ten men savored their drinks, knowing they might be the last for a very long time, and in the alcohol they found their resolve.

Edited by Novanya (see edit history)
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