Image: An orange field at sunset

When the collapse happened, I had only one thought: I can’t die. I haven’t done anything yet.  Well, the collapse happened. And while I haven’t done much, I’ve done a lot. I’ve been to four Kingdoms, and live in a castle (sometimes, it’s a bit cramped inside, honestly). I’ve learned to cook food from dozens of cultures and times. I’ve watched hundreds of films. And it all happened here, in Orange County. —A 

Image: An retro-style advertisement for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride

I don’t think I ever actually get tired of living here. There’s so many places to go. So much to explore. It took me over a year to fully suss out the tunnel system, that the cast members used to use. I’m still figuring out how to work all of the systems. The roller coaster type rides are the trickiest ones, I don’t know if you can truly swing it without help. But it’s no big deal to turn on Pirates of the Caribbean and go for a leisurely boat ride and hop out whenever you like. Sometimes I just swim around. Sometimes I head to the Blue Bayou, but it’s pretty lonely. By the way, that amazing chemical smell from the water? It never goes away. —A

Image: Fireworks over Sleeping Beauty Castle

I wonder if on the other side of the country someone is doing the same thing at Magic Kingdom. I’d like to think maybe someone is. Maybe every theme park has an inhabitant, doing the lonely work of maintaining something unnecessarily frivolous at the end of everything. That’s not to say I’ve ever met another survivor. Due to all of the evidence I’ve seen—and like, I set off a lot of fireworks in my time here, before I started rationing them—I’m the only one left. But if someone is alive in like Estonia or Ghana or somewhere, I’d probably never know. I’m going forward with the assumption that I’m the only one left. I used to cry a lot. —A

Image: The entrance to Disneyland with the railway station

There’s a lot to keep busy with. Sometimes I take a month or so to just clean up the animatronics, taking my time to dust down their faces. Sometimes I chat with them. I’m a particular fan of the fat lady from Pirates—Bethany—but sometimes I also like to just sit and watch the dinosaurs chewing on primordial leaves aboard the Disneyland Limited. Sometimes I don’t even ride it, I just let it roll around the track so I can hear a friendly voice shouting “all aboard!”. That way I don’t forget. —A

Image: Napa Valley sprawling under a blue sky

I don’t spend as much time in California Adventure, but they have a better selection of foods. I don’t bother scrounging in restaurants like I did in the first few days and weeks anymore. The storage here is unbelievable. They could probably hold nonperishable food for hundreds of years to come. A small comfort is I’ll be gone long before I ever run out. —A

Image: Lightning Bug from the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade, lit up at night

I found the parade floats and stuff, but they usually just depress me since there’s no one to parade with. And dressing up as a Princess, I found, lost its appeal pretty fast. Once in a while I light up the Electrical Parade floats while they’re in the warehouse. Just to look at. —A

Image: Abraham Lincoln, artistic rendering

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was never anyone’s favorite attraction. But I can’t help but feel a kinship towards honest Abe. He did his best. He didn’t know his efforts were in vain, that humanity would be wiped out a few short centuries later. I like to hear the Gettysburg Address from him from time to time. Though my throat always catches when he intones that a nation must unify or die by suicide. —A

Image: Main Street, USA, in the morning

 I turn the music on every day. I like hearing “Hello Dolly” as I stroll down Main Street. I like the smell of churros, even though I don’t often make them. (They did pipe the smells in, as I always suspected). —A

Image: Main Street, USA, with a Christmas tree lit up, night

I’ve given up on holidays—I don’t even keep a calendar anymore. And frankly, it didn’t take long for me to figure out that the tree was just way too big for one person. —A

Image: Griffith Park, with the observatory in the background

I don’t spend every minute here. Sometimes I take one of the cars in the garage out for a drive. Empty freeways are bliss, and there’s still good hiking in the Anaheim Hills, and up by the Hollywood Bowl. Animals still exist and all too. I feel less alone when I’m in the trees, you know, when there might be a deer or something out there. One time near Malibu, I locked eyes with a big buck, and he came close enough for me to touch his nose before bounding away. They aren’t afraid of me. Why would they be?

Home has plenty of animals too. Ducks and pigeons run amok now. I spend a lot of time just cleaning their shit. But the cat colony has also increased in response. They seem to have a good ecosystem worked out. I try not to bother them too much, though I am pretty good friends with one of the tabbies—I named him Pete. —A

Image: a retro-style advertisement for Autopia

I could drive away, I tell myself. Explore South America, Canada, maybe even risk the land bridge to Russia and check out the rest of the world. There’s nothing really stopping me except gas, but I’m sure I’d always find cars with enough to get me to the next one. The people are all gone but the cars are everywhere.

I don’t like taking the bodies out of them though.  


Image: Mickey and friends

I haven't seen Pete for a few days, I hope he's okay. —A

Image: The words “Happiest Place on Earth” emblazoned over a picture of the Partners statue 

I didn’t come here as a kid. I dreamed of it, of course, seeing the ads on TV and all, but it was never in the cards. We were so poor, our vacations, if we had them, were camping outside, in Joshua Tree maybe, or outside Sequoia. California had a lot of options. When everything happened, I didn't have any real desire to go anywhere else, because California was home. I remembered all of those clips of sports stars saying they'd go to Disneyland after they won the Super Bowl, how it was a top wish for kids dying of cancer, and I thought well, if you’re the last one left to turn off the lights on earth, you could at least turn them off at Disneyland. —A

Image: Mickey and friends 

Pete left a pigeon outside of the castle today so it was a false alarm. —A

Image: A First Visit Button

I first came to Disneyland when I was in college. It was a Christmas present from J, my boyfriend at the time. I really thought we'd get married. And even after we broke up, I thought we'd reconnect somewhere down the line. That never happened. Maybe it's for the best now. It probably would have been worse if I'd been in love, right? —A

Image: The entrance to Toon Town 

I don’t go to Toon Town very often. That’s where the feral cats mostly stay now, but it’s just not the same without kids around. —A

Image: “Wish you were here” over several overlapping retro Disneyland advertisements 

The Sleeping Beauty Carousel is simple, but it's one of my favorites. I like the music. I run it a lot just to hear it. It’s so quiet. —A

Image: A sepia-toned photograph of Walt Disney

Before this I was a history teacher, can you believe that? Not much else feels less important to my life now. Except critiquing the architecture. Am I really supposed to believe a medieval society found pink bricks to construct their castle? —A

Image: New Orleans Square at sundown

My favorite memory with J wasn't even here, it was when we went to Seattle and there was an unexpected heat wave and we bravely got chowder and coffee anyway. I hope he wasn't on an airplane or driving when it happened. I hope he was home in bed. —A

Image: A retro-style advertisement for Space Mountain

I miss Space Mountain most out of all of the rides. Most of them are pretty simple to do. In fact the instructions are usually placed pretty close to the controls. And unlike in the movies, you only turn one on at a time. But I can’t figure out how to make the roller coasters work without a second person. Sometimes I wish someone were here with me. Not just to make the coasters work. But then I think what a terrible weight that would be on them. Even if they could ride Space Mountain whenever they want. —A

Image: The fireworks display over the Sleeping Beauty Castle

I wonder why it was just me. I wasn’t particularly good. Or particularly bad. I don’t know if being spared was a blessing or a curse. I knew so many people both better and worse than me. The most I can say is, I was just really lucky. Or really, really unlucky. —A

Image: The “Here you Leave Today” poem from the front entrance 

Pete isn’t bad company. Nor are the animatronics, mostly. And I’ve got access to the whole archive of films. I’ve watched The Little Mermaid probably 400 times since I got here, projected on the castle, on the big stage by Toon Town, and once, even on It's a Small World. I also made several trips to the Anaheim library with a pickup and stowed a lot of the haul in the main street guest services. It’s kind of my impromptu library now. It was a lot of work getting them here. I have everything a person could ever want, really. I mean except for meaning and companionship. —A

Image: Minnie Mouse in a nurse’s outfit 

Today I made the first big mistake I’ve made since I got here trying to climb up the side of the Matterhorn. Look, it gets boring okay? I think I did something to my arm. The nearest nursing station was Main Street, which was pretty far but they do have the full compliment of pain killers and gauze. Jesus, I don’t know how to set a broken arm, I hope that’s not what happened. —A

Image: a horse-drawn trolley on Main Street, USA. 

After spending the night on the bench outside the nursing station crying while Pete licked my face, I decided I might have to go to a hospital. I have been putting this off anyway; the nursing stations have a decent supply of first aid materials, but serious injuries or sickness will require something else. I don’t really have a choice now. I drove a car up on site, so I think I can make it there, and drive with my good arm, though that doesn’t sound ideal. I’m parked near the old stables. (When I got here the horses were half mad and starving. I let them go because I didn’t know what else to do for them. One of them—Dixie, her name was—wandered the park for a few days, confused, but eventually they all left, hopefully to literal greener pastures.) —A

Image: Daisy Duck in a nurse’s outfit

My expedition was a success! I drove to Anaheim Global Medical Center, located just a block or so away, probably to serve once-tourists. Boy was it unpleasant. I’ve tried to have tunnel vision about it, the bodies. In the cars and stuff. On the streets. On my few excursions to stores and things. But in the hospital it was on another level. I entered through the ER—the sliding doors still worked—and wish I could unsee what I saw there. Climbing and squishing and squashing, well, I’ll spare you the details. It took a lot of searching, I don’t know where they keep stuff, but I got a lot of the supplies I thought I’d need for my injury, based on one of the books I have here.—A

Image: a transcription of Walt Disney’s opening day speech

Anyway, I’m back now. One nice thing about Disney is it was closed a week or so before it’ll happened, so no one was here. No bodies. I have a book in guest services about setting a broken arm, so I’m going to see if I can do that. —A

Image: a wish you were here sign over an image of the Disneyland hotel 

God, I’m in so much pain. Good thing I found a LOT of Vicodin. I’m resting in the hotel for now. Not this one, actually, the Grand Californian, which is less Disney and more glamping. They have bigger rooms. I don’t bother with the hotels much, but the beds I have in the castle and the suite over Pirates of the Caribbean aren’t as soft. —A

Image: The Grand Californian Hotel 

I juts thnig melee with the shrimp cocktail O fward pyramids? *Must investigate. * 

Image: Downtown Disney, as viewed at night

Okay well, I don’t recommending setting your own bone and then taking a bunch of painkillers. It’s been uh… maybe 3 days? I’m not sure. Pete is probably worried sick. I’m in less pain now, so I think I’ll head back to the park. —A

Image: The Sun Wheel at California Adventure, lit up at night

I’m so tired. But I ran some maintenance checks. With my busted arm, I don’t think I can do much else right now, unless I want to ride Snow White’s Scary Adventures, and let me tell you, no one wants that. I decided to see how the sister park was doing. The cats have almost free rein of the place. I didn’t ride anything, but Pete followed me all the way from World of Disney, so I guess he’s missed me. It’s eerie here with the lights down, so I decide to turn everything on. I do this sometimes, but it’s not like in the movies, you know? Everything isn’t on the same grid. I usually just turn on one ride at a time. Tonight I want to feel less alone. I turn the atmospherics on. I like Pixar Pier. It’s nice. Pete and I sit on a bench. He curls up in my lap, he is soft and warm. I pet him with my good hand. At some point I fall asleep. —A

Image: Aerial view of the crowds near Sleeping Beauty, Christmastime. 

I was always introverted. I kept to myself a lot. But there was always the promise that people would still be there. That the world would keep turning. I can turn the Sun Wheel on, or play music, but there’s no one left but me. No one will ever make another work of art. There will never be another piece of music, another book, another Disney film. I will stay in this unchanging place forever, because I’m the only one left, and I’m just waiting to die, not yet, but someday, even if I live to old age, it’ll forever just be me and this fake world I’ve created.  I wish I’d had more time with them: my parents, J, anyone. I wish I’d taken advantage of having people in my life more. Because there’s no today left. Only yesterday, and tomorrow, and fantasy. —A

Karly Noelle Abreu White is a writer whose work has been featured in a variety of publications such as Fathom Magazine, The Belladonna, The Raven Review, The Unmooring, Writers Resist, Untangled, Nothing Held Back, and Pieces of Me. She holds a Bachelors in English Literature from Biola University and lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and fussy cat. She nurses a tea addiction, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, gaming, yoga, and film.