“OMG,” Paige said as she pressed a red button on her tablet and stared into the camera. “We’re rolling. Hi Lifebox followers. Here I am, live streaming from Wombat Central Square, where all the magic happens. Hashtag so much fun.”
Mack watched his niece with confusion until his sister explained it all.
“Its like everyone has the power to make their own TV show now, but none of them are ever any good.”
“Oh,” Mack replied. “So pretty much like regular TV.”
Paige flipped her tablet around to give her followers a glimpse of what she was seeing – brightly colored buildings, three jugglers on stilts tossing bowling pins in the air and catching them flawlessly, kids waiting in line to have their picture taken with Lonnie Llama. Off in the distance the wombat bumper car arena was visible and kids were plowing their wombat shaped vehicles into each other non-stop.
Dylan jumped into Paige’s shot, pointed his shorts clad behind at her tablet and bounced it whilst reciting Stank Daddy lyrics. “Damn, bitch! You gotta fat ass! Damn, bitch! You gotta fat ass! Shake that, shake that, shake that ass!”
“Sorry everyone,” Paige said. “That’s my brother. We’re looking for a good mental hospital to ship him off to so let me know if you know any. Hashtag sad.”
“I’ll make it rain all my cash,” Dylan continued. “So shake that, shake that, shake that ass!”
“Dylan!” Paige said. “Get out of the way! Hashtag brothers are the worst.”
The boy lost interest and looked at his map. “Mom. We have to catch the wombat rail to Spaceville and get in line for the shock rocket.”
“Yeesh Dylan,” Abby said. “Shock rocket? Really? Isn’t it a little early in the morning to go on a ride that’s going to launch our stomachs out of our butts?”
“It’s like a band-aid,” Dylan said. “The sooner you rip it off the better.”
“Princessify Yourself is right around the corner,” Paige said. “Come on Mom, we can get a two for one special.”
“Ehh,” Abby said as she took a sip of her store bought soda. “My princess days are over, hun. You know kids, I think the best way to start a Wombat World vacation is with a trip to the Happy Little International Children Experience.”
The kids groaned.
“Oh god,” Dylan said. “That sounds straight up awful.”
“Hashtag boo,” Paige said.
“It is adorable,” Abby said. “It was my favorite ride when I was your age. All these cute little animatronic kids dressed in clothes from around the world sing to you about how the world would be so much better if it were run by kids.”
Abby looked her spawn over. Paige was lost in her live stream. Dylan was staring at his map and picking his nose.
“Although come to think of it,” Abby said. “The irony is not lost on me.”
The entire theme park was lousy with loudspeakers. An announcer chimed in. “Good morning wombat fans. Its another bright, sunny day here at Wombat World, America’s number one amusement park dedicated to a cartoon marsupial. If you can find another park dedicated to a cartoon marsupial that’s better, cleaner, or cheaper, then by all means, go there, ingrates.”
“OK,” Abby said. “Come on, kids. We’re off to see the happy international children.”
“Shock rocket,” Dylan said.
“Princessify yourself,” Paige said.
Abby shook her head and looked to her brother, who held his arms out.
“I’m just along for the ride,” Mack said. “Whatever you all want to do.”
“All of our attractions are up and running,” the announcer said. “So make your way to Fancy Town. Say hello to Mayor Diggsley and take a ride on Lord Prissybottom’s Whirling Dirvish.”
Abby stepped into Paige’s shot. “Paige,” Abby said. “Can you put that down for a minute?”
“OMG,” Abby said. “I can’t have my mom on a live stream. Now I have to delete the whole thing and start all over. Hashtag production values.”
“I wish I could delete my life and start over,” Abby mumbled.
“All of our transportation methods are conveniently accessible,” the announcer said. “Guests are invited to move about the park by their choice of wombat rail, wombat bus, wombat boat, or if you’re one of our few non-obese visitors, wombat bicycles are available for rent.”
“Kids,” Mack said. “Maybe you could let your mom know you appreciate all she does for you by going on her ride first.”
“OK,” Paige said. “Wombat Central Square live stream, take two. Hi Lifebox followers, it’s Paige coming to you live from…”
Dylan couldn’t control himself from jumping butt first into Paige’s shot again.
“Dolla, dolla, dolla will make you holla,” the boy sang. “So shake that ass, bitch!”
More from the announcer. “Wombat fans, do you know that a dream is something you think about in order to avoid killing yourself as you shuffle through your soul crushing existence? Head on over to our animation museum, where you can get a break from the oppressive heat and take in a three hour documentary about how the Carruthers Brothers turned their mediocre sketches of a cartoon wombat into a bloated behemoth of an entertainment empire.”
“Children,” Mack barked.
The kids snapped to attention.
“You will go on your mother’s incredibly boring happy international children ride and you will make a reasonable effort to make her believe that you are enjoying yourselves as you do so,” Mack said. “Have I made myself clear?”
The announcer was back. “A special treat for you today, kids. Boyz a’Plenty, one of the four hundred boy bands to have signed on with the music division of Carruthers Brothers Amalgamated Studios, will be giving a free concert in the Wombat Garden in a half-hour.”
Paige looked up. “OMG.”
“One lucky attendee will win a tour of Wombat World, guided by the boys themselves,” the announcer said.
“OMG,” Paige said as she turned to her mother. “Mom! Mom! Mom!”
“That sounds fun,” Abby said. “Let’s check that out.”
Paige turned off her tablet. “No!”
“What?” Abby asked.
“What if I win the tour?”
“You’re probably not going to win, Paige,” Abby said.
“But I might,” Paige said. “And then the boys will think I’m a loser because my family is with me. Hashtag epic humiliation.”
Abby rolled her eyes. “Fine. Go.”
Paige ran away from her family like she was competing in the fifty-yard dash.
“But keep your phone on so I can call you!” Abby shouted after her daughter.
“Hashtag can’t hear you!” Paige shouted back.
“Have you ever wanted to experience what it would be like to have your stomach launched out of your butt?” the announcer asked. “Now you can without having to work for NASA because we will literally allow anyone, anyone at all, on this gravity defying journey to the stars. The Shock Rocket is boarding now.”
Dylan grinned at his mother.
“Mack,” Abby said. “Will you take him on the Shock Rocket?”
“Sure,” Mack said. “You don’t want to come?”
“No, I’d better not,” Abby said as she took a sip of her soda. “My doctor says my blood pressure is a little high, though for the life of me I can’t figure out why.”
Mack knew better than to say anything. “We’ll meet up with you later?”
“Yup,” Abby said. “I’ll be busy being serenaded by the happy international children and wondering where I went wrong with mine.”