When It Suddenly Stopped

They waited a long time in the queue at Orlando’s Universal Studios for The Mummy indoor roller coaster.

By Carol Maher Bebawy

There was a hundred people all trapped in a dark room. 

The air was congested with babble, and the room was dim except for lights that shone from small circles on the ceiling. The walls were decorated with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, mummy statues, and various archeological discoveries. An infinite line of people walked along the creaky wooden floors until suddenly, a booming voice erupted:

“We apologize for the delay, but The Mummy ride will be stopped momentarily. Please wait until further notice.” 

A loud, disappointed groan emerged from the crowded line, of which Liam was a part of. He was about 5’10 with dark curly hair and large glasses and wore a collared shirt that matched his grey trousers. Every detail in his appearance was carefully systematized and organized. Liam stood with his cousin, Sherin, and sister, Emma, who were waiting in the queue in Orlando’s  Universal Studios for The Mummy indoor rollercoaster.

“Wait, what did the announcer say?” Emma asked.

“The ride stopped. We gotta wait for it to start again” Liam explained.

Liam felt a wave of irritation flood over him, and his eyebrows furrowed together. He wondered why Emma never paid attention. Why was there a delay? How long would they be stuck in line for? They had already been waiting for half an hour. What if they could turn back and leave? Yet, before he could suggest the idea, Sherin and Emma had already taken their seats on the floor to wait for the ride to start.

“Yalla guys let’s take a picture. Liam can you take it?” Sherin proposed.

“Okay… fine” he said, annoyed. 

After a couple of selfies, Liam went back to waiting. The restless chatter of the crowds around him began to grow noisier. The room seemed to become darker, and the wooden floor on which they sat became all too familiar. The hand on his watch would tick but nothing changed – they were all still stuck in an endless queue. 

“Ugh! When is it going to start again?” Emma complained. 

Liam didn’t answer her. His frustration was always evident in his silence. What was the point of speaking when there was nothing to say? Empty words that were void of purpose seemed illogical to him. The silence didn’t last very long though, because again that same booming voice appeared overhead:

“Thank you all for waiting. The Mummy rollercoaster is operating again. We hope you enjoy the ride.”

“Finally!” Sherin and Emma exclaimed.

The line moved and people’s feet scurried forward. Liam felt a sense of relief – the past half hour wasn’t a waste after all. Slowly, they arrived right up at the front of the line with the ride attendants. At last, there was some thrill! All three of them were quickly strapped into the front seats. The walls around them were painted gold, and pillars of fire accompanied the corners. The Egyptian hieroglyphics were ever-present; they were engraved meticulously on either side of the track. After everyone else was in, the ride began. Liam shook his legs in nervous excitement and his hands gripped onto the seat in anticipation. 

But it was cut short.

After five seconds of moving forwards, the ride came to a harsh halt. The lights turned off. The pillars of fire disappeared. The music faded. Everyone was left in utter darkness, imprisoned on an immobile rollercoaster. Once more, that booming voice resurfaced:

“We apologize, but this ride can no longer continue at this time due to technical issues. Our technicians will be coming over to get you out of your seats you shortly.”

Liam tried to stay calm. Perhaps this was related to the delay they experienced earlier? Then, he remembered that Sherin had been on this ride before, so this was probably all part of the experience.

“Sherin… is this part of the ride?” Liam enquired

“Uh… no. This never happened before,” Sherin replied, her voice shaking. 

Anxiety took hold of Liam, but he knew that if he started to freak out, then Emma and Sherin would too. He decided that he needed to be strong and logical, at least for his sister and cousin. After all, this was Universal Studios – surely, they would be alright. 

“Don’t worry guys. The technicians are coming to figure it out. We’ll be fine” He reassured them.

Despite the assurance, Liam himself wasn’t certain of anything at all. Yet, he always looked quite certain of a great deal of things. His low voice always exuded confidence. His gelled hair always had every strand perfectly in place. His polished shoes were always void of any blemishes. His collared shirts were always freshly ironed. Still, he was never one hundred percent sure – especially now.

Then, they heard a sudden jolt from beneath them. The music began to play, and the ride started to move, yet Liam was frozen in his seat. His mind began to race frantically. How can it be moving? Aren’t there technical issues that need to be fixed? This can’t possibly be safe! His hands started trembling. Beads of sweat sprouted from his forehead. Every inch of his body wanted to escape. Terror swept over him, and fear crept up his back. Was this the end? All he could do now was brace himself and pray that they’d come out the other side. 

Amidst his panic, he leaned over and whispered in Emma’s ear:

“We’ll be okay”

The ride continued moving faster and faster, until everyone was submerged in all-embracing darkness. They were all thrust from left to right and pulled upside down and right-side up. The shrieks of horror arose with every twist and turn. Liam felt like it would go on forever and wondered if every second was going to be the last. Eventually, amidst the ubiquitous screams and impenetrable shadows, a small light appeared in the distance. 

At that moment, Liam was sure of just one thing:  

Hope is only found in the light.

*The names Liam, Sherin and Emma are pseudonyms.