A Park Full of Sun

The day began flawlessly in Walt Disney, Florida—formerly Bay Lake, Florida.

It boasted the clear sky and sunshine that appeared on all the advertisements. Dan Bacall stepped into Epcot the moment it opened. Standing where they could take in the grand view, he lifted his two children into his arms and hugged them. “Smell that? That’s the smell of joy.”

Eugene and Haley didn’t even complain about how corny he was, they were that excited.

Their first destination was the newest attraction: The reopened Mission: Space claimed to be the most realistic space travel on the planet Earth. The kids were frantic over it, and though Dan hid it well, he was just as excited.

They joined the short line and bubbled with anticipation as the line grew long behind them. They couldn’t even see the end. They were about to enter when a Disney-branded employee appeared beside him. “Dan Bacall? A word.”

“Uh, hold our place in line, kids. I’ll be right back.” He joined the employee a few steps away. “Yes?”

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to bar you from this attraction.”

Dan’s heart fell into his stomach. “What? Why?”

“You have several markers in your genetic code for myocardial infarction, particularly in response to high-stress situations such as that produced by Mission: Space, especially its g-force simulator. It’s for your own safety.”

“How—my genome’s supposed to be private! Encrypted! I… I was sure I saw something like that at the clinic.” Anger, confusion, and gut-wrenching anxiety about missing the ride warred for primacy.

“You granted us access to your encrypted medical files as a precondition of entering the park, Mr Bacall.”

“It’s my choice!” Dan couldn’t help raising his voice. He looked back at his children, standing beside the line, looking uncomfortable and a little scared.

“We can’t open ourselves to the liability.” The employee remain unperturbed. “We can’t knowingly admit someone with your condition to the ride.”

“But why even look? You didn’t have to know.” Dan tried to keep his voice from cracking.

“I don’t control policy, sir.”

Dan turned to his kids slumped in defeat. “They say I can’t go on this ride.” He was too stunned to even make up a palatable lie, despite feeling like he should shelter them from this manufactured injustice. “I’ll meet you at the exit.”

“Uh, actually.” The employee admitting people to Mission: Space spoke up. “They’re too young to go in without a guardian.” She didn’t have the confidence of the other employee. Maybe she didn’t have to say this as often.

Standing to the side, watching others take their place, the Bacall family stood in the only shadow in a park full of sun.

Inspired the story To Protect Genetic Privacy Encrypt Your DNA on Wired.com

Kevin Crosby