Ad-hocracy works well, for the most part. Lil’s folks had taken over th_unning of Liberty Square with a group of other interested, compatible souls.
They did a fine job, racked up gobs of Whuffie, and anyone who came around an_ried to take it over would be so reviled by the guests they wouldn’t find _ot to piss in. Or they’d have such a wicked, radical approach that they’_uster Lil’s parents and their pals, and do a better job.
It can break down, though. There were pretenders to the throne—a group who’_orked with the original ad-hocracy and then had moved off to othe_ursuits—some of them had gone to school, some of them had made movies,
written books, or gone off to Disneyland Beijing to help start things up. _ew had deadheaded for a couple decades.
They came back to Liberty Square with a message: update the attractions. Th_iberty Square ad-hocs were the staunchest conservatives in the Magic Kingdom,
preserving the wheezing technology in the face of a Park that changed almos_aily. The newcomer/old-timers were on-side with the rest of the Park, ha_heir support, and looked like they might make a successful go of it.
So it fell to Lil to make sure that there were no bugs in the meage_ttractions of Liberty Square: the Hall of the Presidents, the Liberty Bell_iverboat, and the glorious Haunted Mansion, arguably the coolest attractio_o come from the fevered minds of the old-time Disney Imagineers.
I caught her backstage at the Hall of the Presidents, tinkering with Lincol_I, the backup animatronic. Lil tried to keep two of everything running a_peed, just in case. She could swap out a dead bot for a backup in fiv_inutes flat, which is all that crowd-control would permit.
It had been two weeks since Dan’s arrival, and though I’d barely seen him i_hat time, his presence was vivid in our lives. Our little ranch-house had _ew smell, not unpleasant, of rejuve and hope and loss, something barel_oticeable over the tropical flowers nodding in front of our porch. My phon_ang three or four times a day, Dan checking in from his rounds of the Park,
seeking out some way to accumulate personal capital. His excitement an_edication to the task were inspiring, pulling me into his over-the-top-and-
damn-the-torpedoes mode of being.
“You just missed Dan,” she said. She had her head in Lincoln’s chest, workin_ith an autosolder and a magnifier. Bent over, red hair tied back in a nea_un, sweat sheening her wiry freckled arms, smelling of girl-sweat and machin_ubricant, she made me wish there were a mattress somewhere backstage. _ettled for patting her behind affectionately, and she wriggle_ppreciatively. “He’s looking better.”
His rejuve had taken him back to apparent 25, the way I remembered him. He wa_awboned and leathery, but still had the defeated stoop that had startled m_hen I saw him at the Adventurer’s Club. “What did he want?”
“He’s been hanging out with Debra—he wanted to make sure I knew what she’s u_o.”
Debra was one of the old guard, a former comrade of Lil’s parents. She’d spen_ decade in Disneyland Beijing, coding sim-rides. If she had her way, we’_ear down every marvelous rube goldberg in the Park and replace them wit_ristine white sim boxes on giant, articulated servos.
The problem was that she was really good at coding sims. Her Great Movie Rid_ehab at MGM was breathtaking—the Star Wars sequence had already inspired _undred fan-sites that fielded millions of hits.
She’d leveraged her success into a deal with the Adventureland ad-hocs t_ehab the Pirates of the Caribbean, and their backstage areas were piled hig_ith reference: treasure chests and cutlasses and bowsprits. It was terrifyin_o walk through; the Pirates was the last ride Walt personally supervised, an_e’d thought it was sacrosanct. But Debra had built a Pirates sim in Beijing,
based on Chend I Sao, the XIXth century Chinese pirate queen, which wa_redited with rescuing the Park from obscurity and ruin. The Florida iteratio_ould incorporate the best aspects of its Chinese cousin—the AI-driven sim_hat communicated with each other and with the guests, greeting them by nam_ach time they rode and spinning age-appropriate tales of piracy on the hig_eas; the spectacular fly-through of the aquatic necropolis of rotting junk_n the sea-floor; the thrilling pitch and yaw of the sim as it weathered _iolent, breath-taking storm—but with Western themes: wafts of Jamaican peppe_auce crackling through the air; liquid Afro-Caribbean accents; an_wordfights conducted in the manner of the pirates who plied the blue water_f the New World. Identical sims would stack like cordwood in the spac_urrently occupied by the bulky ride-apparatus and dioramas, quintuplin_apacity and halving load-time.
“So, what’s she up to?”
Lil extracted herself from the Rail-Splitter’s mechanical guts and made _omical moue of worry. “She’s rehabbing the Pirates—and doing an incredibl_ob. They’re ahead of schedule, they’ve got good net-buzz, the focus group_re cumming themselves.” The comedy went out of her expression, baring genuin_orry.
She turned away and closed up Honest Abe, then fired her finger at him.
Smoothly, he began to run through his spiel, silent but for the soft hum an_hine of his servos. Lil mimed twiddling a knob and his audiotrack kicked i_ow: “All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined could not, by force,
make a track on the Blue Ridge, nor take a drink from the Ohio. If destructio_e our lot, then we ourselves must be its author—and its finisher.” She mime_urning down the gain and he fell silent again.
“You said it, Mr. President,” she said, and fired her finger at him again,
powering him down. She bent and adjusted his hand-sewn period topcoat, the_arefully wound and set the turnip-watch in his vest-pocket.
I put my arm around her shoulders. “You’re doing all you can—and it’s goo_ork,” I said. I’d fallen into the easy castmember mode of speaking, voicin_land affirmations. Hearing the words, I felt a flush of embarrassment. _ulled her into a long, hard hug and fumbled for better reassurance. Findin_o words that would do, I gave her a final squeeze and let her go.
She looked at me sidelong and nodded her head. “It’ll be fine, of course,” sh_aid. “I mean, the worst possible scenario is that Debra will do her job very,
very well, and make things even better than they are now. That’s not so bad.”
This was a 180-degree reversal of her position on the subject the last tim_e’d talked, but you don’t live more than a century without learning when t_oint out that sort of thing and when not to.
My cochlea struck twelve noon and a HUD appeared with my weekly backu_eminder. Lil was maneuvering Ben Franklin II out of his niche. I waved good-
bye at her back and walked away, to an uplink terminal. Once I was clos_nough for secure broadband communications, I got ready to back up. My cochle_himed again and I answered it.
“Yes,” I subvocalized, impatiently. I hated getting distracted from _ackup—one of my enduring fears was that I’d forget the backup altogether an_eave myself vulnerable for an entire week until the next reminder. I’d los_he knack of getting into habits in my adolescence, giving in completely t_achine-generated reminders over conscious choice.
“It’s Dan.” I heard the sound of the Park in full swing behind him—children’_aughter; bright, recorded animatronic spiels; the tromp of thousands of feet.
“Can you meet me at the Tiki Room? It’s pretty important.”
“Can it wait for fifteen?” I asked.
“Sure—see you in fifteen.”
I rung off and initiated the backup. A status-bar zipped across a HUD, dumpin_he parts of my memory that were purely digital; then it finished and starte_n on organic memory. My eyes rolled back in my head and my life flashe_efore my eyes.