Death in Disneyland

Walt Disney awoke, a patina of frost flaking off his pale skin. The cryogenic unit hummed as it thawed him. The lid opened and he was hoisted out. He was welcomed by an automated voice.

"Welcome Mr. Disney, how are you feeling?"

"Where am I?" Walt replied - five hundred years of stasis had affected his memory. A robot dressed him: slippers, gown, and pipe.

"It's ok Mr. Disney, we expected you to have temporary amnesia."

The robot escorted him through secret underground passages

"Amazing animatronics," Walt remarked, mightily impressed with the robotic mouse and his anthropomorphic friends inside his fairytale castle.

Walt was shown to his office, situated at the peak of the castle, overlooking the sprawling metropolis of Orlando Disney World.

"I never imagined this…" he said incredulously looking over the reproductions of his creations - embellished and amplified in a myriad of technical and creative ways.

"This is your land Mr. Disney - Disneyland," Snow White gestured to his kingdom. Walt peered through the glass of his Bavarian abode: instead of a pan-romantic European vision of medieval kingdoms, he surveyed identikit estates, paralleled roads and depots instead of shops.

"How far does it go?" he asked.

Snow White parted her blood red lips: "Far, far away…"

"How far?"

"To Paris and beyond - you own a World Children's Land amusement park in Japan."

"It's pretty monotonous," he said. "I expected the company to continue creating alternative realities for people to enjoy, not entire estates recreated down to the last detail."

"The company continued your work Mr. Disney," said Mini Mouse, "but people wanted more than a fantasy; they wanted something more real than reality. The company made greater profits by branching out."

Walt decided to inspect first hand exactly what Mini was talking about: entire streets, real-estate, agriculture, industry; a cornucopian of television networks, media, and films owned by Disney.

"A fine achievement Mr. Disney and it all started with your creative genius."

"I never created this, nor wanted to."

He disconsolately retired to the castle and purveyed the selection of characters Disney had hawked over the last five hundred years. He flicked through the archives and noticed familiar, recurring traits in their design: the anthropomorphic representations, the themes of love, good vs. evil; all his original sketches were now hyper-realized in new formats - computer generated models, glossy finishes, interactive holograms, even pharmacological conduits with which to supplement the visual imagery.

Walt felt a growing sense of dissatisfaction, the plan to return when technology had advanced sufficiently to re-animate his corpse had succeeded, but he was disappointed because he was exactly that: a re-animation, not a transient and perishable life. The heaven on earth he had created for himself was as frozen as his stasis of five hundred years; he was reborn into a dizzying, anachronistic existence; and as he studied his old face in a mirror he realized he had not cheated death, but had circumnavigated it, finding an inner circle of Dante's hell bought by his company and reserved for him: a nullifying, maddening prismatic chamber of reflections.

Death was always his fixation - to copy Snow White: bite the poisoned apple, and remain embalmed until reanimation delivered him to the celestial paradise; but when he returned from proxy death, he realised fantasy was a mundane comport as he wheeled around his island empire in a smooth, noiseless buggy.

Ross Brodie