Copyright©Feb. 2016 Suzy Stewart Dubot
Published on Shakespir by Suzy Stewart Dubot
An Anglo/American who has been living in France for over 30 years, she began writing as soon as she retired. She recently spent seventeen months in London, UK caring for an aged relative. She is now back in France. Writing follows her as easily as her laptop. With her daughters, she is a vegetarian and a supporter of animal rights. She is also an admirer of the British abolitionist, William Wilberforce, who was also a founding member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.P.C.A.).
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
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Cover design: Suzy Stewart Dubot
“What we need is a small, uninhabited planet,” said TaBor.
“Uninhabited? Why not build on one of the home planets?” asked Sims. “So many of them have waste land going begging, and with the arrival of portals, there has been mass migration and abandoned terrain.”
“No, it has to be somewhere untouched by human presence. We want our clients to be convinced that they really are going to strange, original worlds, but if there are super-marts and freeways a few miles from the sites, no one is going to take our parks seriously.”
“Yes, I see your point,” said Sims.
His gaze was beyond the room’s walls as he imagined the virgin terrain primed for development.
He spoke again.
“Of course it would need at least one portal. We’d need for tourists to land on the planet’s moon or satellite and then transfer via the portal to the world that interests them. Have you thought about the themes; how many and what kind?”
Tabor stretched out a hand and touched a spot on the desk. A large screen came down from the ceiling.
“Theme Park Project,” he said.
The voice-activated screen began its presentation.
Five minutes later it came to the end of that particular segment of his project.
“I don’t believe anything on that scale has ever been attempted,” said Sims hesitantly. “It will be exceedingly expensive to put into place.”
“Ah, but I think you’d be surprised at how inexpensive it would actually be. If it becomes a social aid programme, we could apply for governmental subsidies. The unemployed and homeless would be given jobs to work the parks. Criminals would be given a second chance.”
“Not the dangerous ones, just the tax-evaders or fraudsters – you get my gist?” TaBor asked.
“Right. I get you. It would be run by those who have nothing else in life, no chance of getting ahead,” Sims summed up.
TaBor nodded and continued, “So, in other words, we would be subsidised by governments for taking on the rehabilitation of all the losers.”
“And the construction work and furnishings?” asked Sims. “That is one aspect that would be more easily handled, if it were on a home planet.”
“I suppose that transportation of equipment is the only advantage a home planet would have, but then it could also work through a portal or portals,” TaBor explained. “It might even be worth the added expense to have a moveable portal.”
Sims slowly nodded his head while his mind was absorbed by all the prospects.
“I’ve weighed up the pros and the cons for using an uninhabited planet,” TaBor added, “believe me, the money this project will generate will far out-weigh any of the inconveniences. It also has the advantage of being on neutral terrain – if we can acquire the rights. We do need exclusive rights to the place.”
Sims was actually becoming quite excited about the project, as his imagination soared.
“So what about the down-to-earth construction of the different parks?” he questioned.
“Theme Park Construction,” Tabor instructed the programme to continue with his project plans.
Another ten minutes or so passed with more explicit diagrams and explanations. The virtual images were very convincing.
“Well, I’m about 80% sure I’d like a portion of the project – subject to the planet you find. How long will that take, do you think?”
“Shouldn’t take long through the Bureau of Planetary Charters. They have catalogued just about every pokey little planet there is in this sector. We’ll have the pick of all those globes that have been rejected because they have no real commercial value,” Tabor spoke confidently.
“Do you mind if I mention this to Frise?” Sims asked. “I know she’s always on the look-out for new projects to invest in. Must be nice to have that kind of money – play money, to her,” confided Sims, looking wistful.
He’d worked hard to be where he was. He hadn’t been born with money, so was cautious when it came to investing it. So far, he’d chosen well, and this project was certainly worth considering.
“Great idea to have a woman on board!” complimented TaBor.
“We’ll be catering to everybody, so it would be good to have feminine input, as well as her money. Please do tell her about it, and if she’s at all interested, I’ll be happy to show her the project,” TaBor enthused.
“You’ve got it,” Sims replied with a grin. “I’ll get back to you.”
He rose and TaBor followed suit. They bowed their heads to each other, and Sims left.
Sandar had been chosen unanimously.
It was a small planet, but it suited their purpose perfectly. It didn’t have a moon, but it already had a natural portal, linking it to a barren planetoid, which would be perfect for operations installation. It could then be used as a landing base for those ships transporting the hordes of tourists wishing to visit their theme parks.
The climate on Sandar favoured the themes that had been chosen, making it an interesting place to visit any time of the year.
It had been decided from the beginning that each park theme was to maintain a high level of authenticity. Any distancing from the authentic theme had to be hidden or camouflaged.
It was quickly decided that none of the parks would have electricity. Apart from being anachronistic, it would be an expensive utility to install and certainly a problem to maintain.
Their main theme park was to be a medieval world they had named Topaz.
Frise, who was known for her jewellery, had suggested the name, and because she was one of their wealthiest investors, they’d had no hesitation in agreeing.
A year into putting everything together, all the parks were nearly ready for implementation.
Topaz was a medieval town built on a hill with a castle at the top enjoying a panoramic view. From the ramparts one could see the surrounding land with its farms and fields and then plains as far as the eye could see. A fortified wall surrounded the town with a moat at its foot. The main entrance was over a drawbridge and through a solid portcullis gate framed by tall stone walls. Everything had been done to replicate the images of castles throughout the ages down to the pennants blowing in the wind above the battlements. The only current concession made to the town’s construction – and to all the theme parks – was the inclusion of modern day sanitation that was either hidden or camouflaged so that it did not appear to be an anachronism. The people working in the parks needed to be catered to at least a minimum, if only for reasons of hygiene, because this planet would be their only home.
The extreme north of Sandar was snow-covered most of the Sandar year, with a brief respite of three months when spring quickly ran into summer before changing into autumn. The park was logically called Snowdonia.
Primitive Snowdonia would benefit from long-haired yaks and amenities associated with snow-bound territories. Most of the habitations were fairly elaborate caves that had been carved out of the local mountains. There was a system of connecting tunnels permitting inhabitants to move from one place to another without having to go outside during the sub-zero temperatures. The entrepreneurs had even thought to install fake thermal baths, too, but were surprised to find that the region already had the real thing. They simply improved the access to them.
Of course, the tourists would be more interested in experiencing life in the winter months, but a discount might be offered to keep a trickle coming in during the milder months.
Monstera, a horror show park, Hydra a water wonderland and Moss, a giant horticultural park, were the names given provisionally to the three other territories bordering on Topaz, while the sixth, and final park would be called Delilah.
If Sandar had been a cube rather than a sphere, Delilah would find itself on the opposite side to Topaz, with no touching boundaries.
Unlike its five sisters, however, Delilah would not be constructed concurrently. Its construction would only be started once the others had proved to be profitable. There was no point in stretching profits to cover a sixth park, unless that park was sure to bring in its own profits.
TaBor had been particularly proud of himself when he’d had the brainwave to furnish the planet’s parks with surplus goods.
No one used printed books anymore, so he was actually paid to clear libraries and anywhere else having the obsolete medium, which allowed them to make room for their electronic versions. The same thing applied to old fashioned furniture, draperies, complete dinner services, bedding etc. He could use what no one else wanted, and he was paid to take them away!
The worlds found themselves filled with unfashionable supplies, which were still in good working order.
As for food, the different parks were going to have to produce their own eventually. That meant that positions for farmers, gardeners, weavers and even millers would be advertised. They would be given a home and land on which to exercise their trade. They would have a slight advantage over the social cases, because they would already be trained and could begin work rapidly.
TaBor had been right about governments subsidising his innovativeness. They were only too happy to pass on those social ‘parasites’ (in their words), who would now have to work to survive. On Sandar, they would all be provided with accommodation and basic comforts and then it was up to them how well they organised themselves and managed.
Every single government had insisted, however, that it was a ‘no-return policy’.
A team of professionals had vetted everyone transferring to Sandar. It was they who assigned each person (along with any family he might have) to the post they would work, which might even mean working in an administrative position in each park. Everyone would receive minimum wages for the first eighteen months, if they could show they had been productive. After that time, it was assumed that they would carry on, on their own, in the new world. Currency had been especially invented for all the parks on Sandar, so that the salaries paid for the first year and a half could only be used on Sandar. It also meant that money supplied by TaBor and his cronies had no real value anywhere else, and cost them very little to produce.
But – there was one quirk thrown into the Sandar pot.
None of the theme parks would know about each other.
Inhabitants of each park would be told that it was life-threatening to go beyond their land’s limits. Only their sector had been cleaned of the nasty diseases that were still rampant outside their boundaries. They were warned of water pollution away from home and any number of other disturbing deterrents to prevent them venturing far from their habitats. It was hammered home that they would only stay safe, if they didn’t stray too far into the wilderness.
In this way, it was felt that the themes would remain pure and unadulterated. It would keep them as perfectly believable, newly discovered civilisations caught in time. Not even the tourists would know that the parks were all on the same planet. Depending on their choice of world, they would take a different portal to the appropriate sector.
Nobody should guess that the frozen world of Snowdonia was only north of Topaz.
The bottom line was: No one must know that these worlds were only theme parks – Ever.
If you are interested in reading the Novel ‘Topaz,’ which revisits the city more than 300 years later, you will find it here:
on Shakespir or with other vendors.
It is the first book in the Sandar Saga.
This short, stand-alone tale is also the precursor to the first novel in the Sandar Saga - Topaz. It tells how scheming, and yet enterprising, business men implant five different civilisations on a small planet somewhere in the Milky Way. How were they able to afford such an undertaking and what were the civilisations chosen?