Futureland: Battle for the Park is a part of the Futureland collection.
When an extraordinary flying theme park arrives above Atlanta, one boy must stop a sinister force from stealing the park's tech and taking over the world. An electrifying illustrated series with the Afrofuturism of Black Panther that took the world by storm. Perfect for fans of Spider-Man: Miles Morales.
"Hold on tight, Futureland will be the ride of your life . . . and maybe the last!" —Kwame Mbalia, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Welcome to the most spectacular theme park in the world.
Everyone wants a ticket to Futureland, where you can literally live out your wildest dreams. Want to step inside your favorite video game? Go pro in a sports arena? Perform at a real live concert? Grab your ticket and come right in.
Yet with all its attractions, Futureland has always just been home to Cam Walker, the son of the park’s famous creators. And when Futureland arrives at its latest stop, Atlanta, Cam is thrilled for what promises to be the biggest opening ever. . . .
But things aren't quite right with the Atlanta opening. Park attractions are glitching. Kids go missing. And when his parents are blamed, Cam must find the missing kids and whoever’s trying to take down his family . . . before it’s too late.
An Excerpt fromFutureland: Battle for the Park
THE BUGGED-OUT REV
Sunday, August 30, 2048
Look, you’d probably think I was the luckiest kid in the world . . . because I live on top of it.
Well . . . more like above it, if I’m being precise--vocabulary word! (My teacher, Madam Bonnier, would be proud.) I’m growing up in the coolest, most famous theme park. Ever. Like, for real for real.
Yeah, yeah. That one. Only one above the rest.
Seen the holograms of my mom and dad on your news tablets? Maybe they even mentioned me--their only child. Bet you wondered what life was like growing up in a roaming theme park. You probably called us the luckiest family in the world.
Most kids would think having a permanent ticket to Futureland would be the best thing ever. A regular kid might be so gassed up, they’d turn into an insomniac. You know, the people who stay up all night guzzling down coffee--which Dad says stunts your growth--and wandering the park destinies until the sun comes up. Or they’d get heads so big, they couldn’t even strap into the Jet-Blur and fly around to each exhibit.
To me . . . Futureland was just home. And on most days, I loved it.
But this was not one of those days.
“Good morning, Cameron Walker,” Dooley chirped, bursting into my room and leaning over my bed. Her unblinking eyes scanned me, the irises turning from hazel to neon orange.
I covered my head with a pillow. “I’m still sleeping.”
“You are verbalizing, so you must not still be sleeping, and your mother asked me to wake you.”
I let out a big snore and covered my face with my top blanket. It was Scooby-Doo themed. My favorite show on my favorite blanket, of course. “Ugh. It’s too early.”
Dooley yanked the covers back. “Actually, it’s seven-twenty-five a.m. You’re five minutes and three-point-two-five seconds late to meet your mother, though I see that you’re in need of at least another hour of sleep, based on your oxygen levels and brain waves.”
“Yeah, yeah, good morning to you, too.” I opened one eye, spotting her two perfectly round afro-puffs.
She smiled wide. Our grins were identical, our skin was the same shade of bronze brown, and our faces had the same tiny, star-shaped birthmark below our left eyes. Mom designed her like that so most people would think we were family. So I wouldn’t be lonely. Sometimes I’d forget Dooley was even a rev. She fooled just about everyone. People called Mom’s androids the best ever made.
“You are now seven minutes late to meet your mother.”
“Fine! Fine!” I rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, and pulled on an old Futureland T-shirt. I flipped through a few pages of a Watson and Holmes graphic novel while I brushed. Probably reading more than I was brushing, honestly. I like the new version set in Harlem, New York. “Dooley! Where’s Mom?” I called out.
“Elevator.” Dooley practically yanked me through the condo. Only tiny colorful lights marked the path, the windows blacked out by the auto-shades. “Here, take these,” Dooley said as we rushed, handing me a pair of Future-vision goggles--the special, high-tech eyewear that helped us navigate Futureland and see all its wonders.
“Are these new?” I asked.
“Somewhat.” Dooley grinned mischievously, whispering as we got closer to my mom. “I’ve been tinkering with them.”
“Hey, Cam-Cam. Missed ya.” Mom squeezed me tight and kissed my forehead, and I secretly wiped it off. “Took you long enough.”
“What are we even doing? I was still sleeping.”
“You know the deal. . . . The Walkers walk the walk, and that means we’re up and at ’em,” she said, placing her palm flat on the wall beside the elevator doors. They slid open silently, and a soft green light welcomed us in. “Plus, I need your kid brain.”
There was no way out of this. . . . When Dr. Stacy Walker made up her mind about something, nothing could change it.
“So where are we going?”
“Uncle Trey called. Said there was a problem with one of the gorilla-revs. Malfunction. Something he couldn’t fix. He’s across the park dealing with a digi-water leak in the Future Ring. We’re too close to opening day for anything to go haywire. Told him my right-hand man and I will handle it.”
“He’s the left hand,” she said with a smile.
“Wait, there’s something Uncle Trey couldn’t fix?” I asked, shocked. My uncle is, like, King of the Handymen. He could probably even reignite the sun if its light ever went out.
Mom raised her eyebrows and nodded. “I know, I know, I said the same thing.” She touched my hair, then the beehive of locs she’d been growing ever since I was born. “Trying to be like me, kid? Growing out nicely.”
“I’ll catch up.” I peeped the new crop of twists sprouting from the top of my head in the elevator reflection and smiled.
“Destination?” the elevator asked.
“Walker Family Jet-Blur Hub,” Mom replied before turning to me. “You ready?”
“Always.” Even though I complained sometimes, I still loved exploring the park with her and helping with the revs and new tech. I was always the first to try out all-new exhibits or role-play a guest in Dad’s latest story lines. They needed kid approval. They needed my expertise.
“Good. It’s important you know the ins and outs,” Mom said, like she always did. I noticed her smile from a side glance. She was so proud. I felt a little guilty that I’d rather have been still snoozing in bed--or reading one of my crime books.
The elevator shot straight up. Silvery walls turned to glass as it made its way to our private park entrance: a massive train terminal with floor-to-ceiling windows.
We stepped out. Wall-o-gram billboards twinkled and flickered, filling with photos from different Futureland eras.
“Good morning, Walkers,” said one of the guard-revs standing at the entrance. His uniform shone bright, and the Futureland pin on his jacket glowed.
Mom nodded at him.
“Please step on a Jet-pad and prepare for travel,” he said.
We each jumped on an outlined box on the floor: the foot sensors that called the Jet-Blur to take us to the park destinations.
This might be my favorite thing my parents made. I pressed my face against the glass, watching as the park’s transportation system burst into view: a high-speed travel pod with room for three. When the park was open, there’d be hundreds of these in the air like cool black marbles threaded with gold, each self-navigating vehicle flying high above the park destinies.
We stepped out of the waiting area and up to the three-seater pod. Its surface dissolved, leaving glowing seats for us.
I leaped into one.
“Preparing for transport in three . . . two . . . one.” The black sphere closed around us.
“You think I should update these?” she asked as we piled in. “Maybe make them more spacious . . . change the color?”
“Never. I love them.”
She winked at me.
The dashboard illuminated. “Where would you like to go, Dr. Walker?” the Jet-Blur voice asked.
“Future Trek Destiny. Main entrance,” she commanded.
“Your future, your dreams, your reality await you,” it said before lifting into the air.
My ears popped and my stomach lifted as we shot into the sky. The pod lightened, its pitch-black tint revealing the best view. As we rose into the sky, my stomach dropped like being on a roller coaster. But after a second, I felt weightless. I started to count the ten destinies of Futureland. They always reminded me of neighborhoods cobbled together and floating above the world.
The Futureland sign glowed ahead, cresting over the Mines of Tomorrow and Future Falls. Dad said they’d made it look like the Hollywood sign. The clouds were outside the walls of Futureland, but if we were out there, I bet I could have grabbed one.
“Future vision recommended,” the Jet-Blur reminded us.
A compartment above us slid open, revealing three pairs of Future-vision goggles. I slid on the pair that Dooley had given me instead, their glow turning my fingers a bright blue.
I gazed down. Usually, the goggles were helpful to see in the dark caves of the Mines of Tomorrow, but way up here above the park, they made the best binoculars. We soared over it all:
The Black Beat city of music and neon lights.
The Wonder Worlds of thousands of doors leading to new places.
The Galactic Gallery and its universe of stars and planets and asteroids hurtling through space.
The Millennium Marketplace floating around with all its treasures.
The Word Locus with its towers of living books.
Sometimes I spent all day in a Jet-Blur pod, flying high and staring down at every single detail like I was one of Futureland’s eagle-revs or something, gazing down on my habitat. Oh, and pro tip: there’s nothing like seeing the Chicago skyline from a Jet-Blur pod high above the city at sunset. You know, just in case you’re ever visiting.
Meanwhile, Mom was blabbing into her wireless earpiece. “No, no, Trey. I hear you. Yep, we’re almost--Wait, hold on, another call. Give me a sec. Cam, baby?”
“Hmm?” I looked at her.
She crouched over in her seat, tapping furiously on her tablet. She mouthed: Eat your breakfast. “Uh-huh. Yep,” she said, all business again. “Got it. Okay, actually, could you go back for a second? I missed that last part. I’m sorry. . . .”
Cameron. Psssst. Cameron!
I whipped around at the sound of Dooley’s voice. She tapped my shoulder with a granola bar.
“Ugh, you don’t have anything else?” I asked, grabbing it from her.
No, unfortunately I do not, she said. But her mouth didn’t move.
My jaw dropped. “Dooley, how-- What did you--”
She raised her finger to her lips. It’s your goggles. I figured out how to transmit sounds from my internal speaker through them so you can hear. Similar to headphones. Only you don’t have to block your ears.
“Wow,” I said aloud. I remembered Mom working on something like that last year. She called it bone conducting--a way to send sounds into someone’s inner ear without playing it aloud or covering their eardrums. She said it might be able to help park guests who were hard of hearing.
I’ll tell you more about it later. Dooley winked. For now, enjoy your granola. This bar has a half day’s supply of all vital nutrients for an eleven-year-old boy.
“Sounds like cardboard,” I grumbled.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that. Could you please repeat?” Dooley asked aloud.
I shrugged. “Thanks, I guess.”
“You’re very welcome, Cameron,” she responded. “Muy delicioso, yes?”
I rolled my eyes as Dooley impersonated our chef-rev, Alejandro. He thought all his meals tasted like liquid gold. Well, maybe gold tastes bad. But you get the point.
“You’re not laughing,” she said.
“It was a bad joke.” And I wasn’t in the mood to laugh. And this was definitely not a gourmet meal. “Ugh.”
“What’s that, Cam-Cam?” Mom asked, a muffled Uncle Trey voice still escaping her earpiece.
I waved off her nosy glare, turning back to the window. I knew Mom was trying. Dad, too.
But it was Sunday.
The one day of every week where I got a breakfast feast. A stack of Dad’s famous French toast (he always puts chocolate chips on top--he can’t resist chocolate!), eggs, sautéed vegetables, fresh fruit, yogurt, home fries, veggie sausage for Mom, turkey bacon for Dad. All of it for me.
But that didn’t seem like it was happening today. They were going directly against Walker Way of Living #1: Always make time for each other.
Futureland was an all-day, every-day thing. They’d been doing it since before I was born, and when my parents got in this mode, there was no stopping them.
Mom patted my leg like she could hear my thoughts. Maybe she could. Moms just know things sometimes. She flashed me her bright white smile. “Arrival day, Cam-Cam. You know the drill.”
“Mm-hmm,” I mumbled. Arrival days were all about getting prepared for guests, making sure the park was perfect. Boring!
I preferred travel days. The park sailing over oceans and seas headed for new destinations. We’d have movie nights in the Future Theater or picnics in one of the Wonder Worlds and even family laser tag or basketball in the Sports Summit if Uncle Trey wasn’t busy fixing things in the park.
My skin got all prickly and weird, and I squeezed my eyes shut. Everything felt like it was changing . . . and not necessarily for the better. First, we were scheduled to stay in Atlanta for a whole school year instead of three months like when we normally visited a city. Second, this time tomorrow, I’d be on the ground, away from the park and in a school.
For the first time ever.
The thought of it made my stomach somersault. The new kid. Shipped off to Eastside Middle School, where my mom went when she was my age. I had never gone to a real school before. Classmates, teachers . . . food fights? I had no idea what to expect.
“Approaching the Future Trek Destiny in forty-seven seconds,” the Jet-Blur announced.
We soared over all the animal habitats--a desert filled with rev-camels roaming, a grassland filled with prides of rev-lions, and the tumultuous Racing River--before we passed over a large arch with FUTURE TREK spelled out in gigantic flowers you’d never see outside the park. Uncle Trey had grown the new plants from his own special seed-blending process. “I’ve got more than a green thumb,” he’d always brag.
The Jet-Blur descended, swerving around exotic plants and jungle vines as it wound deep into the rainforest, up the mountains, and around trees. We sailed over a giant hill, landing on a small patch of grass.
“Arriving,” the Jet-Blur said. “Watch your step when exiting the pod.”
The sphere retracted until we were sitting in open air. The sounds of jungle animals welcomed us, and I immediately started to feel the sticky humidity on my skin.
“Your future, your dreams, your reality are at your fingertips. Enjoy.” The pod darted away.
Dooley and I followed Mom to the destiny entrance. The arch stretched high above us, complete with a floating wall-o-gram flashing images: animals, revs welcoming visitors, the natural wonders of the Future Trek jungle, the rolling waves of the Future Seas. Once the montage finished, an automated audio recording played: “Welcome to Future Trek, where all your wildest adventures are reality, a paradise of imagination. During your visit, you can--”
Mom tromped straight through the wall-o-gram, disrupting the image. She waved for me and Dooley to follow her.