Dysphoric Park


Two figures, a woman and a little girl, walked down a path. Through the woods behind them one could spot colorful signs and pavilions. The path narrowed and lead downhill to a glade amidst high trees. In the middle of the glade they saw a very large area surrounded by a tall fence which lay within a space surrounded by a wide moat. They looked at the sign by the bridge. It read, “Visitor’s Center.” They ambled across the bridge and walked through the narrow gate into the meadow-like enclosure. A low murmur of voices startled them.

The little girl held onto her mother, looking very scared. The woman squeezed her hand gently to reassure her, but succeeded only somewhat. Just then she noticed that the meadow started filling with feminine and lithe, almost elfin creatures, but just out of view under the cover of the trees.

“She’s frightened…” one said, pointing,not to Trish, but to her mother instead.

“She should be,” sniffed another, older one of them; cynical but wise; she had seen others just like the girl and her mother visit the park.

“Be kind, Perwe…she’s just a little one…they almost always are afraid of us.

“She has nothing to fear …” a still-older female stepped forward before adding,

“From us…”

The girl stepped behind her mother and the woman turned and knelt. She was about to say something encouraging when they heard a voice overhead coming from a speaker on a pole.

“Welcome to Dysphoric Park,” a man said in a soothing voice.

“Let me be the first to welcome you to our home here. We want you to know that many of the creatures here have much to share, being a lot like you.” The mother turned and saw a friendly looking man standing outside the front gate, which had closed behind them when they entered. She smiled at him and he smiled back; his face seemed to know something …’the wait and see what happens next’ look that felt very uncomfortable and cold.

“Oh…Thule…look…it’s started,” a younger creature spoke with an almost sadness in her voice. The creature turned and grabbed hold of the creature next to her who seemed to be one of only a few males. He smiled at his mate and shook his head.

“With our help, my love.” He turned and smiled at the little girl and her mother. The female looked as if she was going to cry.

“Please obey all the posted instructions, and you will be fine,” the man said, and they realized he was the same man whose voice they heard. The mother went to step closer to the gate but it shut even as she walked toward the exit.

“You’ll find that we know best what is good for you, and we’ll make sure that you’re protected.” His voice was still somewhat soothing but had become almost rote, as if he said this nearly every day, adding,

“We hope you enjoy your stay.” The voice seemed the same, but she grew worried over his tone while he just ignored her as he turned his back.

“What are you talking about…?” The woman said, and her growing dread was mirrored by the look of horror on the creatures’ faces.

What …what is going on???” By now the woman had moved to the gate, trying to open it, but without success. Look of panic crossed her face, causing the little girl to grow scarred once again. The cynical creature stepped up and put her hand on the woman’s shoulder, but her gesture only served to instill even more fear in her until the kind female spoke softly.

“Welcome…Danielle?” The creature’s voice seemed to coax the fear from her, and she turned around. She had already begun to cry, despite her worries about being strong for her daughter.

“And this must be Trish? Hello, little one. We’ve been expecting you.” The woman nodded reflexively as the little girl smiled.

“I’m sorry you had to find out this way, but it’s how he does it.” She used her hand in a broad gesture to indicate the man.

“Does what?” The woman looked over nervously at the man who merely smiled. Is this how they treat all their visitors?

“Oh, no, dear one. Only the ones who fall into his trap. Most of the park is a wonderful place of magic and discovery.

“But what about here? Why would anyone want to come to place like this? To be a guest….”

“Oh…that’s the thing, child. You’re not a guest. You’re an exhibit.”

A shocked but confused look spread rapidly across the mother’s face. The kind female shook her head and pulled off her robe, displaying a garment woven of bright, shiny red fabric, with white letters across the chest that said ‘Hickory.’ Perwe, the cynical one, removed her robe; only to show she was clad in similar fashion but this one of turquoise with the words, ‘East Side” embroidered on the bodice.

One by one the creatures came forth and removed their outer garments. One wore pink raiment with a very short skirt and shoes attached with long pink ribbons. Even the males wore virtually identical garments, save for the difference in color and the change in the words from creature to creature; ‘Martinville,” and ‘Stevenburgh,” and ‘Lindale High.’

“These are our…uniforms,” Thule sighed in resignation, “It’s how we’re viewed.” Danielle stifled a gasp.

“You’ll be fine, dear. It does take time to get used to it, but we really have no choice.” Thule said. The young woman realized that, out of the shadows, the creatures were just like her; exactly as the man had said. Virtually all of them displayed a smile with eyes that glowed from the light of wisdom forged from experience. As much as it frightened her, the young woman felt somehow that she was home, in a way, even with the man staring at them.

“You should listen to me…I really know what’s best for you,” the man said as he walked back across the bridge over the moat. The younger creatures sighed and took the hands of the woman and her daughter while the older ones smiled and nodded kindly before shaking their heads; a collective expression of hope that things would change…perhaps tomorrow would be the day.

Theme from Jurassic Park
composed by John Williams

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