caught them at the far end, in front of a set of pads. She unhooked the pulleys and helped them both out of the harnesses. Finn looked back to see several men huddled in the tower they’d just left. “Nice timing,” Finn said. Seeing how far they had traveled, his knees went weak. “That was not a smart thing to do.” “It was incredibly stupid!” Philby agreed. He looked at Finn sheepishly. “But man, was that fun!” Tinker Bell led them down a very steep metal staircase and into an alley. A moment later, she’d showed them how to reenter the Park. They hurried toward the Hub. “FINN!” He heard his name shouted from far away. It took him a moment to see in the glow of a few emergency lights what Philby saw first: two figures up near the castle. Girls. “It’s Willa and Charlene,” Finn said. “How can you be sure?” Philby said, squinting. “Trust me. It’s them.” The boys ran toward the girls, circled carefully, and hid on the other side of a stone wall, waiting. They squatted down and caught their breath. Finn dared to raise an eye above the wall: he saw a pair of Cast Members that he took to be security guards, searching the crowd. “They’re looking for us,” he told Philby. “Might be Overtakers. Might just be Disney Security.” “We’ll get across the Hub and catch up to the girls. We’re just two kids now among all the others.” It was true: the rain had stopped and the crowds had returned. An announcement was repeated several times, apologizing for the fact that the Park would close early due to the weather. Cinderella Castle had been roped off. Finn nodded his agreement. The two boys crossed the busy Hub outside of the castle. As they reached its center a number of lights came back on, and the look and feel of the castle was restored. Some firemen were packing up. And there, looking down on them from the castle plaza, were Charlene and Willa. The girls looked terrified.
11 A T TWO MINUTES BEFORE MIDNIGHT , as Finn was preparing to IM with Philby, Maybeck, and the others, his messaging window showed an unexpected visitor. The Instant Messaging program was only connected to people on his buddy list, so the appearance of this uninvited visitor was somewhat surprising, unsettling, and even alarming. His parents made a big deal out of how unsafe the Internet could be, how stalkers often trolled for kids by pretending to be kids themselves. And while he thought his parents overdid their warnings, he knew that stuff happened. The appearance of the uninvited guest made him wonder if it was happening to him. I’m from the firehouse. Finn’s breath caught. Wayne lived above the fire-house in the Magic Kingdom. Could this possibly be Wayne? His Wayne? He’d been missing for a long time now. WAYNE? Finn typed. But nothing appeared in the IM window. It was as if the program was blocking that name from being written, the way some Web sites prevented the use of certain words. He considered how to work around the problem. Then he typed again. W…A…Y…N…E…? you always were the clever one. my name was supposed to be blocked, but separating the letters! brilliant! Finn wasn’t convinced it was Wayne on the other end of this written conversation. He could be an imposter. Finn typed: you have something I found, but you kept . it’s magical, what is it? He anxiously awaited the answer. This question, he felt, would determine if it was in fact Wayne. uncle wait’s pen Finn cursed at the screen, not meaning to. It really was Wayne. No one but he and the other DHIs knew that answer. An unusual feeling overcame Finn. For months he’d wondered if Wayne had died or been captured by the Overtakers. Thrilled to now reconnect with him, he let his fingers hover over the keyboard. Where to start? A Disney old-timer and former Imagineer, Wayne knew more about Disney World than any living person. He had once counted Walt Disney himself as a personal friend. A legend in