A Muddled Few Months At Magic Park
Minutes From February 5th
[Top Secret: These minutes are not to be released to the public. For internal use only.]
A sea of black and grey suits slowly made their way into the meeting room. No one seemed to be happy, in fact, most of them looked tired or bored.
After a few minutes of noisy shuffling, everyone was in their seat and ready to begin. The man at the head of the table stood up and looked at the sheet of paper he was holding.
“Gentlemen. Ladies. Quiet please,” shouted the man, even though no one was talking. He scanned the room for a few moments before letting out a loud sigh.
“We’re ready Sir,” interjected a voice from the back of the room.
“Right, right,” nodded the man. “Kevin, are you taking notation?”
“Yes Sir Mr. Phillips,” nodded Kevin, his fingers tapping on a keyboard as he did. “Narrative, as you asked.”
“Good good,” replied Mr. Phillips. “Now, I have gathered you here today for one reason. Magic Park is suffering a lull. A heavy lull.”
One of the men reached across the table and pressed a button on the projector. “Slides sir?” He asked as he fiddled with the lens.
“Right, right,” nodded Mr. Phillips as the projector hummed into life, revealing several graphs. At a glance, it was obvious that things were not going well.
Every single graph showed a massive downward trend. Some of them even featured grave warnings and ominous red lines that sat dangerously close to the end of the graph.
“Everything is down,” shouted Phillips as he pointed at the graphs. “Income, visitor numbers, visitor satisfaction, and profits. The park is mostly empty! A whole season like this and we’re done.”
“But sir,” interjected one of the executives. “The park has been running since the 1970s, this is just a small blip.”
“This park had more money in the 1970s.” Shouted Mr. Phillps. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that we are done unless we do something. And that is why you are here. We are not leaving this room until someone comes up with a solution!”
“Well, a new ride,” started one woman, only for Mr. Phillips to cut her off.
“With what money? How will we build it before we collapse?”
“Fair point,” mumbled the woman.
“Reduce ticket prices?” Asked another voice.
“He said to save us, not kill us quicker,” replied another executive as a cacophony of mumbling erupted around the table.
“Look, we need something with vision!” Added Mr. Phillips. “Your best work! The magic we used to have!”
Suddenly the door to the room swung open as a woman barged in. She looked dramatically disheveled. Her hair was frizzy and her tie was half undone and slung over her shoulder.
“Excuse me?” Asked Mr. Phillips.
“Wait there motherfuckers, I’ve solved our problem!” She roared as she produced a USB drive from her pocket and started to plug it into the projector.
“Language!” Shouted Mr. Phillips.
“Oh right,” replied the woman as she looked up from the projector. “Motherfuckers and sir!” She added before quickly going back to the projector.
“Should I call security Sir?” Asked a man as he stood up from the table.
“Who even is this woman?” Replied Mr. Phillips, the bemusement in his voice only matched by the bemusement on his face.
“Ava Vile,” shouted the woman as she finally got the USB drive into the projector.
“Who?” Asked Mr. Phillips and the man in unison.
“I work in R&D?” Blinked Ava as she looked up at Mr. Phillips.
“I,” started the man, only for Ava to interrupt.
“Typical! You say you’re a family company and yet never come down to R&D.”
Mr. Phillips stuttered for a few moments before rubbing his nose. “That isn’t the point.”
“No!” Shouted Ava as she pulled back from the projector and fiddled with her phone. “What is important, is that I’m about to save this company!”
“What makes you think you can do that?” Laughed another executive. “Why don’t you just get out.”
“No,” sighed Mr. Phillips as he raised his hand. “Stay. You have an idea. Why not give it to us. We’ve got nothing to lose.” He said as a ripple of murmurs ran around the room.
“This is the best decision you’ve ever made!” Grinned Ava as she tapped on her phone, causing a new slide to appear on the wall.
The slide was covered in random clipart and sparkly graphics. The title in the center of the slide said “The RFTMAI Method.”
“The what?” Shouted one person from the back of the room as Ava adjusted her shirt. However, despite her efforts, the adjustment just made her look even more scruffy and disheveled.
“The RFTMAI.” Smiled Ava. “Is how I will save this company. Look, the issue with your current plan is simple. You’re trying to change the landscape. You’ve got big ideas, ideas so big that you’re missing the target.”
Ava’s smile slowly transformed into a smirk, her confidence growing as she changed the slide. This second slide featured a crude sketch of park guests.
“See, you need to focus on the guests. What do guests want from the park?” Asked Ava.
“Surveys have shown that they want more attractions and a better image,” started one person only for Ava to grab a pencil off the table and throw it at them.
“Rhetorical question!” Shouted Ava. “Because what the guests want doesn’t matter. What matters is what the guests want.”
“This woman is obviously deranged,” sighed a woman as she slapped her hand against the table. “Sir, if you will let me speak.”
“Don’t let her speak.” Chuckled Ava as she looked around for another pencil. When she realized that there wasn’t one in grabbing distance she simply glared at the woman.
“You should get to your point,” nodded Mr. Phillips. “We don’t have all day.” He continued, obviously trying to regain control of the situation.
“Look.” Smiled Ava. “Our issue is that we can’t meet expectations because we’re always having to keep our ducks in a row. Keep everyone in line. For instance, our costumed characters struggle to stay in character. They don’t know how to react to guests. This lowers guest satisfaction.”
“Right, but what is your method?” Asked Mr. Phillips firmly.
“The RFTMAI, or Rift Mai as I call her, is one of these!” Replied Ava as she opened a new slide. The slide depicted a small speaker that seemed to be exactly like one you would buy from any electronics store.
“A speaker, revolutionary. Next week she’ll invent the wheel.” Groaned the woman who had narrowly avoided getting hit with a pencil. “Can we end this bizarre charade?”
“She is right.” Nodded Ava. “Rift Mai is a speaker.”
“Miss, Vile was it?” Groaned Mr. Phillips as he rose from his seat. “I think this is enough. I appreciate your drive but I think you need to rethink your idea. Also, you need to reconsider your presentation style.”
“Just a quick demo!” Grinned Ava as she fished a small speaker out of her pocket. It was somehow smaller than the one in the diagram, in fact, it looked more like a pill bottle.
“No.” Shouted the woman as she rose from her seat. “Please show our boss the respect he deserves. Clear up your things and leave.”
“Thank you,” nodded Mr. Phillips. “You’re wasting our time and I don’t say that lightly. Now please vacate before I reconsider your employment and call security.”
Ava ignored Mr. Phillips and put the speaker down on the table before returning to her phone. Her grin turned sinister as she tapped the screen a few times.
“Are you paying attention, Ms. Vile? I asked you to leave!” Shouted Mr. Phillips.
“She should stay.” Interrupted the woman, much to the shock of everyone else at the table.
“I’m sorry?” Blinked Mr. Phillips.
“I will return to my seat and listen to her fascinating talk.” She nodded as she sat down and looked at Ava expectantly.
Mr. Phillips looked between Ava and the woman, trying to work out if this was some elaborate prank or if he was finally losing his mind.
“RFTMAI,” giggled Ava. “Stands for “Radio Frequency Thought Manipulator And Injector”. Using a series of frequency pulses, it can push into someone’s mind and change their thoughts. It can even add new ones!”
“This is ludicrous.” Shouted Mr. Phillips as the other executives at the table started to nod.
“Then why is Miss shouty all quiet?”
“I am loving this talk. I love it so much.” Nodded the woman as she continued to stare at Ava.
“Then why isn’t it affecting all of us?” Asked one of the men.
“Using this speaker and some modulation, I can focus it onto a single target. I have a wide range version that can control groups. Placed on a high place, like say, Princess Castle, it could manipulate the whole park.”
“What are you suggesting?” Asked Mr. Phillips, a wobble in his voice.
“We can boost guest experience by keeping our staff focused on their goal. We can make them think they are the character we’ve hired them to play. No more bad accents, no more odd actions. We can beam their scripts right into their brains,” grinned Ava as she put the small speaker back into her pocket.
“Do you think this will boost the guest experience?” Said Mr. Phillips gently.
“I know it will. Give me a month and I’ll have those numbers up,” winked Ava.
“Sir. You can’t seriously be considering this.” Interjected one executive. However, before he could finish his sentence a wide grin formed on his face. “This is a great idea. Promote her to my position please!”
“Ms. Vile, I think you’re getting a promotion. Do what you need. The company’s resources are in your hands.”
“You won’t regret this!” Bowed Ava.
Minutes From March 15th
[Top Secret: These minutes are not to be released to the public. For internal use only.]
Ava bounced into the room with a wide grin on her face. “Hey, y’all!” She shouted as all of the executives focused on her. “How are we all doing?”
“Fine,” replied the executives in unison. It was clear that none of these people trusted Ava and that they still saw her as an outsider even if none of them dared to voice it. Both because they feared Ava and because they didn’t want to incur Mr. Phillips’ wrath.
“So, Ms. Vile.” Coughed Mr. Phillips. “How is your project going?”
“Ava, please! We’re all friends here!” Laughed Ava as she projected some slides. “My project is going wonderfully! The Rift Mai is functioning perfectly. It is in control of all of our costumed staff!”
“Right,” nodded one of the executives. “But what is it doing?”
“Updating their scripts. Each one can act and think like the character they’re playing! And we can easily update their routines! So we can tap into the latest memes and viral trends!” Grinned Ava.
“Is this quicker than just telling them?” Asked another executive.
“Much quicker! It can be out of the writer’s pen and in their frontal lobe within 10 seconds. They can’t get it wrong and they can’t forget it! And they can’t leave character so they’re more focused on the guests.”
“I see,” nodded Mr. Phillips. “Any numbers for this?”
“Plenty!” Replied Ava as she changed the slide. “Guest satisfaction is up over 100% and our social media is getting flooded with viral videos! Our park is in front of millions of eyes!”
“Guest numbers?” Asked a woman. “They are what matter.”
“Too early to tell!” Laughed Ava. “It has been a month. But the good reviews will help. As well as my new project!”
“A new project? Has this been signed off on?” Asked the woman. “I didn’t get a note about it.”
“I didn’t approve of it.” Mumbled Mr. Phillips.
“You gave me free rein! And hey, you’re going to love it!” Giggled Ava as she bounced on the spot.
“Sir, if I may,” started the woman only for Mr. Phillips to raise his hand.
“Let Ava speak.”
“Thank you, Sir!” Beamed Ava as she opened a new slide. At first glance, the image on the slide seemed to depict a traditional carousel. However, rather than animals, the riders seemed to be sitting on model humans.
“This is the carousel of dreams!” Cheered Ava as she pointed at the slide.
“We already have a carousel.” Sighed one of the executives.
“But you don’t have the carousel of dreams!” Replied Ava. “Please try and keep up!”
“So what is the difference between our one and the one you’ve made,” asked the executive. Acting as if he had somehow gotten Ava cornered.
“Well,” started Ava as the slides changed. “As you know, the one thing guests love is interaction with costumed characters. Sure, photo opportunities are great, but it is the interaction that drives guest satisfaction. It is how the big boys make their money. It is all about making the character time more immersive and involved. Just having a random person in a costume isn’t good enough anymore! If we want to compete we must do the same.”
“So where does this carousel come in?” Asked a voice from the back of the room.
“Well, the other thing that guests want is ride experiences. Especially immersive rides that put them into the world of the story.”
“Again, not an answer,” interrupted the voice.
“Let me finish!” Shouted Ava. “The issue with rides is they have a drop off in satisfaction. Once you’ve been on it once, you know it! Rides need to adapt to give riders a new experience every time! This is where the carousel comes in!”
“They’re the most predictable rides,” interjected Mr. Phillips. “How does yours change this?”
“Well look at this.” Smiled Ava as a blueprint appeared on the screen. The blueprint showed that the human-looking seats were in fact held on by a series of heavy straps. Almost like the seats were being suspended from the ride’s frame.
“Removable seats?” Blinked Mr. Phillips.
“Not seats. Characters!” Grinned Ava. “The carousel of dreams has our beloved cast members on it, each of them in character! Giving each guest a unique experience as they ride on their back. Thrills and one on one time with your favorite characters! People will love it!”
“Like anyone is going to agree to have people sit on them!” Scoffed an executive. Ava didn’t react, instead, she just clapped her hands.
The door swung open as several women in princess costumes walked into the room. They each had a dumb smile on their face as well as very glazed eyes.
“We have come to volunteer for the carousel of dreams. It is our honor to work on this fantastic project.” Droned the princesses as Ava giggled.
“Rift Mai! They’ll love it!”
“Really? They’ll be fine doing this for hours?” Gasped Mr. Phillips.
“Of course!” Grinned Ava. “Each harness is fitted with a Rift Mai earpiece. While working on the carousel of dreams, each cast member wears the earpiece. This allows us to broadcast calming tones and scripts directly into their mind! It will be like a dream to them!”
“A dream they can’t wake up from?”
“Exactly! Isn’t that nice?!” Grinned Ava.
“Look,” interjected another man. “This sounds nice, but how do we even know this system works and this isn’t her tricking us?”
“Umm, my results?” Replied Ava incredulously.
“Could be a coincidence. Have any of us actually seen this thing in action?” Replied the man as he crossed his arms.
“Did you miss the last meeting?” Growled Ava.
“I was at a conference,” nodded the man as everyone else around the table cringed, recalling what had happened to the last person who antagonized Ava.
“Well,” shouted Ava as she leaned over the table.
“I’ve seen it!” Interrupted another woman. “I was around catering just before a parade. Everyone instantly dropped what they were doing and marched to the starting point!”
“They do that anyway,” sighed the man as he rubbed the bridge of his nose.
“Not literally.” Added the woman. “They often figuratively drop everything. This was a whole crowd of people literally dropping what they were holding and going into a marching formation.”
“Are you sure?”
“Very sure,” blushed the woman as she opened her jacket to reveal several large coffee stains on her otherwise pristine shirt. “Dropped coffee cups really spray.”
“Wonderful!” Grinned Ava as she returned to her slides. “The vote about making the carousel of dreams is carried!”
“We didn’t vote?” Asked one of the executives.
“We don’t vote on projects anyway,” replied another as Ava nodded.
“Great, so we’re doing it!” She said as she turned to the women in the princess outfits. “Golf clap girls!” She shouted as she tapped on her phone. Instantly all of the princesses started to slowly clap, their glazed eyes staring blankly forward.
Minutes From June 20th
[Above Top Secret: These minutes are not to be released to the public. For internal use only.]
“Oh, it is good to be queen!” Cheered Ava as she stumbled into the meeting room and collapsed onto the table. “I’ll tell you something, those stunt performers can really drink.”
“Good afternoon Ms. Vile.” Sighed Mr. Phillips as he moved his coffee cup away from Ava’s outstretched hand.
“Been waiting long?” Asked Ava. “I know I’m a little late, but you know how it goes.”
“Five hours.” Replied Mr. Phillips. “But, I hope the results are worth it.”
“Well, what do you think?” Chuckled Ava.
“The press called your new ride “bizarrely misjudged”. The worst review called it a “pervert’s dream come true”. So I think you can guess my opinion.”
“A roaring success!” Yelled Ava as she rolled off the table and crashed to the floor.
“That is a success?” Shouted one of the executives. “If that is good, I hate to see what a failure looks like!”
“Hey! Our guest numbers are up and our guests are more satisfied!” Smiled Ava as several slides magically appeared on the wall. “Business is great!”
“But the press,” started Mr. Phillips, only for Ava to cut him off.
“The press are idiots. They wouldn’t know great if it snuck up behind them and beat them over the head with a dolphin that was singing Shakespearian soliloquies.” Huffed Ava as she stood up and brushed herself off.
“So being called “smut peddlers” is a good thing?” Said one of the executives with confusion.
“One man’s smut peddler is another man’s visionary. All the greats have been called smut peddlers!” Grinned Ava.
“I don’t think that is,” started someone else, only for Ava to grab a pencil and throw it at their head.
“The spirit of the statement is correct. But now is not the time for picking on spirits. Now is the time for looking forward. Forward to my new project!”
“A new project?” Gasped the assembled executives.
“Yes!” Nodded Ava. “The carousel of dreams was merely the first salvo in our war against those orange loving fools! My next move is to expand the concept to other rides!”
“What,” started Mr. Phillips, only for Ava to turn and walk out of the room without responding.
Minutes From August 15th
[Ultra Top Secret: These minutes are not to be released or given to the public in any situation. Burn Upon Reading]
“So,” grinned Ava as she guided people into the room. “I have good news!”
“We need it,” mumbled Mr. Phillips as he sat down.
“The snorkels have arrived!” Cheered Ava.
“Snorkels?” Blinked Mr. Phillips.
“With the success of the carousel of dreams, the flying coaster of dreams and the educational dark ride of dreams. It only made sense to do the log flume of dreams!”
“You’re not suggesting using our cast as the logs.” Sighed Mr. Phillips.
“Yes, I am!” Grinned Ava.
“You’re not going to take no for an answer are you?” Asked Mr. Phillips as the door to the meeting room swung open, revealing a woman in a princess costume. She was utterly soaked and absolutely stank of pool cleaner.
“Well,” started Ava.
“No,” interrupted Mr. Phillips. “I think we quite get the point. But is any of this helping?”
“Very much so!” Nodded Ava as she shooed away the princess. “Our guest satisfaction numbers are up and our visitor numbers are. Well, they’re down due to the controversy. But an emptier park makes guests happier.”
“So we’re still struggling,” sighed Mr. Phillips. “Can your Rift Mai fix that?”
“It could! We just need to think big!” Smiled Ava.
“Anyone have any ideas?” Asked Mr. Phillips as he looked around the table. The various frazzled executives all looked away from him, terrified of making eye contact.
“Excuse me!” Shouted Ava as she stamped her foot and put her hands on her hips. “I’ve already done the thinking! Do you think I would come in here without an idea? I’m Ava “Queen Of Ideas” Vile.”
“Has anyone ever,” started Mr. Phillips only to think better of it. “Ms. Vile, what is your idea?”
“Ladies, gentlemen, leeches. Let me present to you, my greatest idea ever. Project unity!”
“What ride is this?” Shouted one of the executives fearfully.
“Not a ride. A way to make the park more immersive on all fronts.” Grinned Ava. “A way to make the Rift Mai affect everyone at once. Putting everyone into a dream state where one person can take direct control of them. Whole parades of bodies operated by one person! There will be no issues, no failures! Just perfect obedience!”
“And this will attract guests?” Asked Mr. Phillips.
“It will make the park perfect. It will be as if our park is a portal into the movies and stories we depict. Fantasy and reality will blur together. Every cast member will be perfect. Because they will be unable to fail!”
“This seems dangerous!” Mumbled one of the executives, only for the rest of the table to sush him.
“Not dangerous! Safer than ever! One mind means no room for error!” Smiled Ava. “This plan is flawless. Our issue is that no matter what we introduce, the staff mess it up!”
“I don’t think we can approve this,” stammered Mr. Phillips.
“Too late to have this conversation!” Smirked Ava.
“I activated it ten seconds ago! Just needs to warm up!” Replied Ava.
Everyone’s eyes went wide as they started to panic. Several people tried to make a run for the door as a few random voices shouted about how immoral the plan was.
However, the commotion came to a sudden stop a few moments later. Everyone froze mid-movement as the light faded from their eyes.
Ava giggled at the silent room as she walked around and inspected the gathered executives with a mischievous glint in her eye.
“Okay,” she said as she slipped a headset over her hair. “Testing, testing?”
“We hear, and we obey.” Echoed the room as Mr. Phillips and all of the executives spoke in unison.
“Perfect! Perfect!” Chuckled Ava.
Minutes From November 1st
[Burn This. The Overbrain wills it.]
“I don’t know where we went wrong,” sighed Ava as she walked into the boardroom, the rest of the executives marching in formation behind her. “My plan was so perfect,” she continued before pointing to the seats. “Everyone sit.”
“Yes overmind,” replied the executives in monotone as they robotically sat down at the table.
“I can’t believe it,” groaned Ava. “Who knew that controlling two thousand minds was so complex? It would be going great, but then my mind would wander and suddenly every cast member in pirate land was screaming for fried chicken.”
Ava plugged a USB drive into the projector and turned it on. As the graphs came into focus, it was obvious that the trends were worse than they had been before. Compared to these new graphs, the old graphs showed a company at its peak.
“Visitors down, profit down, satisfaction down and every other metric down. We are up a creek without a paddle. What are we going to do?” Sighed Ava.
“Obey the overmind,” replied everyone in the room, their eyes blankly staring forward.
“No! No!” Shouted Ava as she swept a pile of papers off the table. “Think like you used to think! Before Operation Unity! Think! Think!”
“Think. Think.” Replied the room in dull monotone as everyone’s mouth dropped open.
After a few minutes, one of the executives raised his hand and started to speak. “If we have the Rift Mai. Why don’t we just brainwash people into coming to the park?” He asked as a puddle of drool formed in his lap.
“I.” Started Ava as she looked between the man and the graph. “I.”
“We could force everyone in a twenty-mile radius to visit the park. And make them spend more money in the gift shops. Or buy more expensive tickets.” Added the executive as he continued to blankly stare at Ava.
“Fuck!” Shouted Ava as she pushed the projector off of the table and yanked the headset off of her head before storming out of the room and slamming the door behind her.