(Click here if you want a hint about the significance of the title.)

The story that you are about to read is true. If there were any innocents in this story, their names would have been changed to protect them, but, unhappily, there ARE no innocents in this story.

Orlando, Florida. Home to some of the world's largest theme parks, and visited by millions of tourists each year. But beneath that facade of harmless fun, a dark underside lurks.

My name is Lee Zimmerman. I don't carry a badge. I thought I was on a relaxing vacation, until I was pulled into this veritable web of deceit.

Friday, April 23

3:00 p.m.
My wife and I had just checked into the Boardwalk Villas. After the long walk to our room, we opened the door. Despite the sweltering temperatures outside, the room was ice cold. I quickly crossed the room and opened the curtains and the patio door.

It was then that I saw it. The Swan. Gazing malevolently down at us from atop the hotel across the canal. I am immediately conscious of the disquieting sense that all is not what it seems. My wife seems undisturbed.

7:00 p.m.
We have dinner at Artist Point, with stuffed quail as an appetizer. I can't help but wonder whether swan tastes like chicken.

10:15 p.m.
We arrive back at our room. Lit up against the blackness of the sky, the Swan appears even more foreboding. I make sure the door is locked and close the curtains.

Saturday, April 24

8:05 a.m.
When I open the curtains the Swan is in its usual place, but something makes me wonder what nefarious misdeeds it might have committed during the night.

8:30 a.m. En route to Animal Kingdom, I see the Swan on the *other* side of the hotel, twin, or perhaps mate, to the one watching our room, monitoring our progression towards the park.

12:00 p.m.
I am aware that we are being watched. The Swan seems to have enlisted spies from among its fellow birds.

3:00 p.m.
I thought that we would be safe *inside*, but even in the Mexico Pavilion the Swan has its allies. I try to pretend nonchalance.

10:00 p.m.
Sitting in the Mask Room at the Adventurer's Club, I notice several bird-like masks on the wall. Are some of them actually talking??? No, no, it must just be my nerves.

12:00 a.m.
The Swan is lit upon our arrival, but by the time we go to bed at 12:30 it is dark, the better to hide its clandestine activities. I doublecheck the doors.

Sunday, April 25

9:15 a.m.
We get bagels and coffee from the Boardwalk Bakery and sit down at a table on the Boardwalk. I am conscious of being watched, and look up to find the Swan balefully glaring at me over the buildings. I try to ignore its insidious presence. My wife laughs at me.

12:40 p.m.
A bird flying overhead lets go. It just misses me.

7:30 p.m.
We ride "The Great Movie Ride". I'm grateful that there are no scenes from "The Birds" in it.

8:45 p.m.
While watching all the villains in Fantasmic, I begin to realize that the Swan is a mere pawn, and that there are masterminds at work here.

10:00 p.m.
Back in our room, I can see the Swan is still maintaining its surveillance of us. I watch it, wondering what report it might be taking to "Swan Central" tonight. I am more and more convinced that there is something bigger going on. My wife tells me to go to bed.

Monday, April 26

7:45 a.m.
The Swan is shrouded in mist this morning. Perhaps it has become cognizant of my observations, and is attempting to conceal its activities. I am not fooled.

8:10 a.m.
The Swan's twin again watches us as we drive towards Animal Kingdom.

9:20 a.m.
We're having breakfast at Tusker House, and I take notice of another one of the Swan's spies. They seem to be getting more brazen, and no longer care that I am aware of them. I must be on to something.

11:45 a.m.
My wife drags me to the "Flights of Wonder" show. The tent is full of people who have absolutely no protection from the birds swooping over their heads. Can't they see the danger??? The birds must be waiting for something, because nothing untoward happens. The only suspicious incident occurs when a crow steals a dollar bill, but later returns it. Ha, ha, only a joke, right? Oh, these clever, clever birds...so easily bending humans to their will! I must find the genius behind this.

7:15 p.m.
I got a tip from one of Mary Poppins' topiary penguins that there's a flamingo over in Mexico that's willing to talk. I will check it out.

9:45 p.m.
We're back in our room, with the dark outline of the Swan visible in the night sky. But I'm onto you birds...we'll see who has the last cackle!

Tuesday, April 27

9:00 a.m.
The Swan shines delicately in the morning light, for all the world appearing innocently perched on the top of the building. I am not deceived.

11:45 a.m. I find my flamingo informant in Mexico. The plot goes deeper than I ever dreamed. It is imperative that I watch my step from now on - there are avians about who may decide I know too much.

2:10 p.m.
Near disaster! I'm obviously getting too close. Donald Duck attempted to birdnap my wife! She pulled away from him, and found the whole situation amusing. I'm not laughing, though.

6:40 p.m.
My Animal Kingdom contact didn't show up. I have a bad feeling about this.

11:00 p.m. We arrive back at our room - the Swan is already dark. That is very unusual. I do not sleep well - my dreams are haunted by recurring visions of a giant concrete swan beak breaking through the bedroom window.

Wednesday, April 28

7:30 a.m.
Our final day. I must finish unravelling this mystery. The key lies at Magic Kingdom, I am sure.

10:30 a.m.
I've found it! The headquarters of the entire Bird Ring! Here in this innocuous grass hut. There is so much more here than appears from the outside.

I've got to go in and see who is masterminding this operation. I step in the room and sit down, surrounded by people who have absolutely no idea of what is going on. The music starts...aaaaaaah! We're all being brainwashed! Someone help me...in the tiki-tiki-tiki-tiki-tiki room...

Hmm...now where was I? Oh yes. My wife and I enjoyed the show - it's better than the old one. We had a great time on our trip, but why do I have this feeling that Walt Disney World is going to the birds?

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Copyright © 1999, by Laura Gilbreath and Lee Zimmerman. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Laura Gilbreath, lgil@cts.com
Last updated 5/15/99