Chapter 11 of
Tessa smiled. The baby animals in the petting zoo were cute. The foals and colts were checking out Michelle and she was laughing while petting them. The newly graduated kids that had been in their schools' 4-H clubs were excited as well. They all loved animals and to work like this, was just what they wanted. It gave them work experience to put on paper and opportunity to make some college money for those that wanted to be veterinarians or biologists.
There were foals and colts, calves, ducks, ducklings, chicks, lambs, kids(as in baby goats), piglets, rabbits, puppies and kittens. The puppies and kittens were all from the local animal shelter and could be adopted at anytime by local guests. The rabbits were also from the shelter, but would be staying at the park. The other livestock would be kept depending on their growth and returned to the farm they came from in trade for a new young animal.
After signing off the last invoice for the animals Tessa and Michelle turned them over to the new staff. Many still needed to be bottle fed, which added to the attraction as guests could help. Together, the two walked over to the sounds of metal being worked. In the Blacksmith Shoppe, three boys were smiling as they worked. Two had taken Metalshop and one had been in the 4-H club. They were working on various things, including horseshoes. They wore rough looking study pants with knee-length leather chaps and aprons over their cotton shirts. The Cherokee Leather shop had been happy to make those items for the Blacksmiths and even asked for some decorative pieces to be made for displaying more of their own works.
"You young men look enthusiastic." Tessa commented over the din.
The one making a horseshoe saluted with his hammer. "Howdy! We're in full swing Queen Tessa. Hey Princess Michelle!"
Michelle gave them a dazzling smile. "Gentlemen, you're doing excellent work! I'm glad you're having fun too. That's what makes it great."
"Thanks Princess!" All three said with smiles.
Tessa smiled. "I'm glad you're enjoying your craft. Just make sure that you look after yourselves. You gentlemen have more heat on you, working in here, so take care. Make the most of time away from the fire and be sure to stay hydrated."
The one standing by the forge nodded. "Yes Ma'am. Mister Mark already came by and gave us a safety talk. Those fans set up to blow across the anvil stands will help us alot and we have a water cooler just for us. We're going to be careful Queen Tessa."
Tessa smiled then looked to Michelle. "Michelle, I give you WildForest. Rule it well, Princess."
"I will, My Queen." Michelle said then curtsied.
Tessa nodded to the Blacksmiths. "Gentlemen."
All three gave her a quick bow in return then watched the ladies leave.
"Dude, I think we're working in the coolest place ever." Ben, the boy at the forge commented.
Reggie, at the anvil remarked. "When I told my folks about it, they about hit the ceiling. None of us ever really thought me being in the 4-H club would actually get me a serious job. Said they were glad I got the job."
Loy, the lariat trick artist stopped by. "Hey guys."
"Hey Loy." Ben said. "How's the Saloon show?"
Loy nudged his hat back and smiled. "Man, it's SO cool! Mister Don said I was wasting my time, playing around with rope tricks. When I told him I got hired here just because I had learned them, I thought he was gonna drop!"
Mike asked. "Have you noticed that none of the so-called mega-cool kids got jobs here?"
"Skills got hired first." Loy remarked.
Reggie looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"Skills. People that can do real stuff, not just look fancy. Drama club, Home Ec., those kind of people. The only jocks that got hired, were on swim teams. Looking cool and being connected, don't get you hired here. You have to actually be able to do stuff." Loy explained.
Ben mulled that over. "I see your point."
Loy leaned in and waved them closer then said. "After skills, come grades. Honor and Banner roll, but the biggest thing is the LGBT kids. They get priority. I don't know how they're found, but they are and they make the top of the list."
"That's strange." Reggie commented.
Loy gave him a confused look. "Why? Queen Tessa is LGBT. Don't you remember, during your interview, you got asked if you had a problem working with or for LGBT people?"
"I remember. It's not a big deal to me so I said I didn't have a problem with anybody." Mike said.
Loy nodded. "That's good, because Queen Tessa and ALL three princesses are transgender. I was open-minded before, but after working with Princess Michelle and seeing stuff Queen Tessa does, I think people are seriously messed up to bad-mouth transgender people. Just wait and watch. You'll see, the people working here are really something. The people behind the scenes are awesome. I had no idea, but I learned. You will too."
"Hey I know her." Ben pointed at the group of Saloon girls walking by. "Her too. They were cheerleaders at my school."
Loy nodded. "Yeah, but they were also in the Drama club and took alot of dance classes. Like I said, dude, skills."
The line of girls looked over and waved, smiling, to the boys. Loy tipped his hat in return as the three Blacksmiths waved back.
Reggie shrugged. "I guess we'll see a bunch of familiar faces around."
Loy laughed. "That's a gimme. Not just working here, but guests too. You're going to see people you know alot. Just remember, you're working here so be cool. Even if that person wasn't cool in school, you gotta be. If somebody starts problems, the Security people will handle it. The guys in black shirts, they ain't no joke man. All of them were either in the military or cops or both!"
Ben pointed as one of the Saloon girls came back, escorted by Dave Wells. "Hey what's going on?"
Loy looked over. "Dunno."
"Thanks for volunteering Candice." Dave said to the girl.
Candice smiled. "No problem Captain Dave. What do I need to do?"
Dave chuckled. "Just lie down right here."
Candice giggled. "Ok."
She carefully laid down. "Ok now what?"
Dave took several steps back then raised his arm over his head and waited.
A moment later the radio on his belt crackled. "Emergency! Emergency! Code 10, WildForest, in front of the Shooting Gallery!"
Within moments, people in black shirts could be seen, running towards the location. Quickly they formed a loose perimeter around Candice.
"Miss? Are you alright? Can you hear me?" One of the Security asked.
Dave walked over. "She can hear you, but she appears to be slightly groggy. Her hair looks damp, but her face appears to be dry."
The Security member pulled his radio. "Code 10 WildForest, we need medical on-site."
"Copy WildForest. Medical en route. Evac stand-by." A different voice called back.
Mark's voice came over the radio. "Evac standing-by WildForest."
Moment's later a man and woman wearing red shirts that had First Responder on the backs ran up and took off backpacks. Quickly they assessed, given answers by Dave, as Candice made the appropriate noise or movements. Her condition was deemed serious enough for evacuation and Mark was called for. Minutes later a siren was heard, not as loud as regular emergency vehicles, but enough to get attention. Mark turned off the siren, parked the cart and unloaded a stretcher. A quick discussion then Candice was carefully moved on it and loaded into the back of the cart. A sheet of paper was given to Mark then he drove away slowly with lights flashing and the siren on again. Minutes later he returned with her sitting in the passenger seat smiling and dropped her off.
"Thank you for your help Candice." Dave said.
Candice smiled. "Glad to help Captain Dave! All done with me?"
Dave nodded. "Yes, thank you."
"Later." Candice said to the group and rushed back to the Saloon.
Dave looked around. "Response time was good people. Keep in mind though, we're empty. Crowded streets are going to be a problem. That went by the numbers and you were all clockwork. One thing though. Anybody notice it?"
"All responders are male. Until Medical showed up, no females. That could present a problem if the guest or cast is female." One of the Security remarked.
"Correct." Dave said. "That means I need to move some people around, areas and schedules. That'll be next week. No matter what though, from now on, everyday is the real deal. Carry on."
"Yes Sir!" The group shouted and dispersed.
Dave switched his radio channel. "Ok Over-Watch. WildForest checks out. Moving to SnowyHill for next EDRE."
"Copy that Captain. Over-Watch, standing-by." The voice on the radio replied.
The same exercise was conducted in SnowyHill and Storm Bayou.
Over in SeaSide things went different. When the Security team arrived at Dave's location he was standing there holding a dummy.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Bob." Dave announced. "Meet Bob."
After a moment of confused silence they carefully said. "Hello Bob."
"That could have been better. BOB, is in distress." Dave said then let go of the dummy, which fell to the pavement. "SAVE Bob."
They had no time to laugh at Dave's humor. Quickly, they began working. Bob was determined to be in cardiac arrest and the medical team performed CPR. When Mark arrived, they merely paused long enough to load Bob up and continued the CPR until they reached the Main Medical Station and the simulated arrival of the ambulance service. All the service teams had been conducting drills called EDRE.
Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise, EDRE, was routine for combat troops of the military. Dave Wells saw that the same could be applied here in the park for Security and Medical response. For the prior service personnel, they picked up the old way as if they had never left service. For the others, they adapted quickly and learned to appreciate that military bearing. They would continue to drill and improve, until the park opened, speculating they would become the best response force in the world for entertainment venues.
Day by day, the new cast members were trained for their duties. Various exercises were conducted to prepare for emergency situations. Food services were checked then inspected by someone from Health Services and given the highest rating. Even the Medical stations were checked and given high ratings. Each section of the park was given time off to visit the other sections. On May 18th, there was a big meeting that evening.
Tessa stood at the front of the assembled workers and smiled. "Ladies and gentlemen, the park is now finished. Bill, I want to thank you. You and your crews did a fabulous job. I believed you were the right man for this job and I chose you to do it. You and your people did NOT fail! Last year, I bought 240 acres of dreams. You have made those real. It's now up to us to bring them to life. Thank you Bill. Thank you ladies and gentlemen."
With that Tessa handed him an envelope then curtsied to him.
Bill took his cap off. "Your Ladyship, you really know how to make an old man feel good. When I met you, I knew you was a person that I should get to know. I wasn't wrong. I was glad to work on the old park. I did my best back then. I'm a better man and worker now. On this park, I did even better. As glad as I was, now I can finally say; I am proud! Thank you for that, Your Ladyship."
"QUEEN TESSA!" One of the construction workers called out.
The cheer was echoed by everyone assembled. "QUEEN TESSA!"
Tessa smiled then held up a bundle of envelopes and began to read the names off each one personally. After they had all been handed out she addressed them again. "With my gratitude I have given each of you a gift. Please enjoy. Thank you once again, for a job excellently done. See you soon!"
The construction crew opened their envelopes and found their bonus checks, as promised, along with park gift cards and two sets of special passes for their families. Bill opened his own and found the same, along with the final payment for his company.
"Your Ladyship." Bill looked up from the check. "This can't be right."
Tessa was looking over the group of people with a faint smile. "I'm not in the habit of making intentional mistakes Bill. I know for a fact, I haven't made one now."
"This check is for more that it's supposed to be. I would understand, if I didn't know you just gave everybody a bonus personally. You did and I know it. Why this though?"
Tessa looked at him. "Was this park built right? Or was it built greater than that?"
"Greater than that." Bill sighed, knowing that any argument he was about to come with was about to be shut down effectively.
Tessa's expression hardened. "What I originally wanted has been done, even better than what I'd planned. It is because of you and your people. Anybody else wouldn't have done this. You did better than I wanted. You were the right man for the job, so I chose you. I chose right. Do not turn away, that which you earned fairly."
Bill held up his hand. "I surrender already, Your Ladyship. I know better than to go against you after you made up your mind. I'll go with a bit of valor and just say, thank you. It's been a pleasure working for you, Queen Tessa."
Finally Tessa smiled. "Thank you, Bill. Enjoy yourself and I look forward to seeing your family visiting the park."
Bill shook his head as she moved off to mingle. "And that's why we call you Queen Tessa."
As Tessa moved through the people; women and girls would curtsey, men and boys bowed. She greeted each one by name with a smile. All the cast and staff would be off the next day. To relax before the Soft Opening. Saturday, the gates would open. June First was the official Grand Opening. The Hotel in town was already filling up with visitors from out of town to come to the park.
Saturday morning lines were forming at the gates, waiting for them to open. Television, radio, newspaper and online advertisements had been going for two weeks. The campaign was obviously working. The gates sat between two towers topped with battlements. Soon people began to look up and point at the woman coming out onto the battlement for one of the towers. Her gown was white and the tiara sitting lightly on her head looked to be made of crystal, or ice, as was the scepter in her hand.
"Good morning. I am Tessa Frost. Queen, of VentureRealm park. I bid you welcome, please enjoy your visit!" Tessa announced. "Open the gates!"
Fireworks erupted as green lights lit over each gate. The Hospitality workers waved their lines forward. The crowd surged and soon the sounds of stiles being passed through could be heard. Several workers had been out working the lines, steering guests with the younger children to the correct lines. Tessa went back inside and disappeared.
People streamed through at a respective pace and after glancing at the large map or consulting the ones in hand, began wandering off to see the sights. It wasn't long and people began rushing from one thing to the next. Many were making note of the showtimes. As those showtimes approached, lines began to form then file inside. After the performance, those coming out spoke excitedly about seeing the other shows and moving off to pre-position themselves for advantage.
Soon after the first Mermaid show, Danica and her cast went outside.
Danica sneaked out leading them and exclaimed. "Land! WE'RE ON LAND!"
People milling about stopped and looked.
"Away the water rinsed. On land I look for a Prince! To show me sights beyond the Sea!" Danica sang and wandered around.
The cast sang together. "She will find the very best. Danica, our Princess! From beneath the blue, blue Sea!"
"A smile from a heart so true? Eyes of sapphire blue? With hair dark or fair? Where will I find, the Prince for me?" Danica smiled as she sang.
The cast sang back. "Can she find a prince to join us, under the Sea?"
Danica ended the song as she posed. "Perhaps one day, my Prince will come to find me!"
The crowd clapped, especially all the young girls. Music began to play from hidden speakers, so Danica and her cast danced. After the song ended they began interacting with the crowd that remained. They posed for pictures, informed of the attractions, concessions and rides.
Danica had done some research online and found out some of the pitfalls suffered by cast of other parks and tried to apply some techniques. When boys older than 12 or men wanted to pose for a picture with her, she slipped her hand to the crook of their closer arm.
"Stand tall and smile!" Danica said cheerfully, smiling.
The trick worked, any would-be gropers were outsmarted by her cleverness. The other mermaids followed suit, as did the mermen, not knowing exactly why. For the smaller children, they would crouch down to their level for the picture.
Elaine Oberline wandered around with her husband and children. Naturally each had their own interest. For her husband, Jerrod, it was the games. Her son, Rick, was excited about the rides. Debbie, her daughter, was loving the shows and shops. For Elaine herself, she wanted to check out the foods. A quick compromise was reached. Elaine and Debbie would check out the shops, concessions and secure places in the lines to see the shows while Jerrod and Rick played the games and rode rides.
By the end of the day, each had their favorite section of the park. Debbie loved SeaSide, but Rick wanted to stay in WildForest. Jerrod liked SnowyHill and Elaine loved Storm Bayou.
"No way! Princess Danica and her Merpeople show is the best!" Debbie protested.
Rick shook his head. "It's the rides over in WildForest."
Jerrod chuckled. "SnowyHill has the best games."
"Storm Bayou. The food is excellent. I even got to meet Chef Andre." Elaine said.
They had all went back to SnowyHill for ice cream. It was all made in-house. A custom combination could be made by mixing different ice creams on a slab of marble that was kept cold from refrigerant lines underneath it. They also offered all the toppings, cones and so on.
Elaine had practically been waving all day, as expected of a Mayor. To see the Governor, Senators and Congress members of the state in the park shouldn't have been a surprise. A face or two from the travel network were a surprise. An even bigger surprise was that they weren't filming. Elaine found out that they would be doing that the next day. Today they were scouting, determining the best things to highlight. Opening day crowd was good, but the second day would be even better. People that visited on First day would spread the word; calls, emails, social media and good old fashioned face to face conversations.
The only media cameras seen in the park that day, had belonged to the local news networks. They did segments in each area of the park, highlighting the shows, rides and concessions. During the evening broadcasts, the anchors did look a bit envious of the field reporters and promised to visit the park themselves, at first opportunity.
Joe Nably wandered around the park. The more he saw, the more he felt angry. First the property had sold without his knowledge and now it was in use as a park again. His big plans were effectively shot. The amount of people running around began to make him rethink though. He didn't know anything about Amusement Park operations and revenue. That would be something he would research back at his office. If first impressions were true, such places were practically goldmines.
One thing went without doubt, Joe Nably loved money more than anything else. Everything else paled, when put against money. He had much research to do back at his office. There was still the question of where Tessa Frost had come from? More importantly, where had her financing had come from? Most importantly; how could he take it all for himself? Why wasn't Councilman Ralph Conway coming up with answers?
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