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Story Time: The Building

Wide Eyed GirlDo kids outgrow their childhood fears? Or does there remain a lasting wariness to the things they were afraid of when they were young?

When my daughter, Holli, was young, she was enormously afraid of dinosaurs. As such, we avoided everything possible with those frightening prehistoric beasts. Even the Land Before Time cartoon movies would result in nightmares for my poor little punkin.

As she got older, her fears seemed to subside as you might expect, though she was still never big on anything dinosaur-y. However, I never realized just how deeply rooted her aversion to dinosaurs was until a surprise trip to Disney World (complete with the Animal Kingdom dinosaur ride) the summer before her sophomore year of high school. (Yes, high school.)

I now realize that it is probably a good idea to continue to be mindful of your kids’ past fears as Holli’s really came to light in the following humorous, tongue-in-cheek story she wrote chronicling her minds-eye experience of the Disney World dinosaur ride.

The Building
By Holli Steinmetz

Disney World. A place of joy and excitement that caters to children of all ages. One girl, however, was not so amused. Amusement stems from enjoyment and pleasure, but the threat of immediate and excruciatingly painful death is not so charming. I was the victim of terrible circumstance, and this is my story.

Our family vacation in the summer before my sophomore year of high school had started off with a spontaneous trip to Florida, where we planned to visit Disney World and the other amusement parks in the area. I was beyond elation, like a kid in a candy store; there was nothing that I wanted to pass by. That is, until we reached the Animal Kingdom. If I would have known what awaited me behind all the decorated scenery and themed amusements, I would have turned tail and run. However, seeing that my ignorance blinded me from the horror that would scar me forever, it was an option I didn't have the opportunity to snatch.

The sun was beating down relentlessly, destroying both my physical and emotional energy. I was lucky enough to find my path dotted with gift shops, which I gleefully ran for, welcoming the cool, air-conditioned environment. But as we traveled further into the depths of the Animal Kingdom, the air-conditioned shops became exposed kiosks with miniature fans that were basically useless.

That was when The Building presented itself. With the dream of relief from the sun within my view, I raced for the concrete walls, ignorant of the signs that would have told me to turn back and run for dear life. It was at that point that escape was unattainable. With my family shoving me to move forward from behind, and strangers with their numerous children closing in on either side of me, the only option was to move forward. I stumbled down multiple flights of metal stairs, approaching my horrific fate at a fast pace.

I was forced into a oversized vehicle that I was later informed was a time rover. I honestly didn't care what the contraption did, I just wanted the reassurance that I would remain safe and secure. But even that was robbed of me as I was the unfortunate individual who sat in the far back corner of the vehicle. I was vulnerable, and I came to grips with the fact that I might not make it out of The Building alive.

As the strange automobile jerked forward, I was immersed in darkness. A damp stench filled my nostrils and mist brushed my cheeks. Moments later, an eerie, moon-like glow shone from the darkness above and I found myself in the midst of a prehistoric jungle. At that point, the panic set in. The strange, buzzing screen at the front of the vehicle informed me that our group was assigned the task of going back in time, and capturing a docile Iguanodon. I didn't know or care to find out what exactly an Iguanodon was, but there seemed to be no possible way I wasn't going to learn soon.

Just as I began to slightly calm down, settling in for the still, quiet escapade through the jungle, the rover jerked unexpectedly and increased speed. The screen informed us of a disturbance in the scanner; something big, something deadly, was coming after us. And who would it decide to take a bite out of first? Me, of course, with my convenient placing in the vehicle. I was an easy, vulnerable target. As we surged through mist and foliage, it became apparent that not only one creature was thirsty for my blood. Multiple beasts attacked from both sides of the rover, barely managing to miss us at the last possible minute. Screaming was the only option that comforted me in the least, presenting the delusion that it would somehow fend off the monsters coming after me. Little did I know that it would only confirm our whereabouts to the enemy.

The jungle quieted, and for a moment, the world seemed peaceful. And then that moment ended. Just as our vehicle was about to pass under a rock formation, the beast attacked from above. I saw the look in its eye; the hunger for my flesh. And so I did the only thing that I could think of; I attempted to burrow through the bottom of the rover. However, before I could escape, a blinding light phased me and my world faded black.

I found myself stumbling through a crowd of people, trying desperately to find a path to the outside world; away from the jungle, away from certain death. Children giggling joyfully pushed past me on all sides, taunting me with their laughter. The glowing EXIT sign was like a gift from heaven. I had found my opportunity. It seemed so close, but yet, so far. But death would not take me, so I pressed forward with the highest level of determination I had ever experienced. With tears forming in my eyes, I managed to escape The Building with my life, leaving only my dignity behind.