This is probably the short story that i have done that i am most proud of, not nessesarily because it is the best writen but because it may be the idea the most and it’s one of the few things i have writen that is in no way supernatural. Enjoy
Diane Winters tutted to herself as she turned the page of the day’s paper and saw the headline of the entertainment section. ‘Dawn of Darkness plagued by more setbacks.’
“It doesn’t bode well” said the hairdresser currently running a brush through Diane’s hair.
But Diane ignored her; as long as she managed to apply foundation right her opinion wasn’t needed. Below the headline was a short story with a picture of the films director and Diane’s husband, Harry Winters. The story detailed the series of misfortunes that had hampered the production of Dawn of Darkness, from monetary problems to unfortunate casting decisions that had left but a pitiful number of known names adrift in a sea of junior actors all vying for a chance in the spotlight. Undiscovered talent Harry liked to call them but Diane had seen them all before, the young kids who thought they were going to be the next big name in Hollywood so desperate to climb to the top that they were willing to try and drag down those who had already become towers of the industry. Worst of all was Annabelle, that little bitch who had been brought in second lead female, as if there needed to be. The cow was always trying to talk to Diane, asking for ‘tips for the industry’ and asking if Diane wanted to ‘hang out’ at the end of the day. As if she would ever be seen with the unknown again, Diane had payed her dues and everyone else had to as well.
The Diane’s glance fell on the picture of her husband. Harry had been such a promising director at one point. A smash hit in the cinematic world with his initial works of horror and creature features which were surprising hits of the past two years. The two had first met on the set of Harry’s third film, a werewolf flick that nowadays Diane struggled to remember the name of, and who could blame her? Nobody else did. still, even after a less successful film Harry was still a rising star and the two had already made headlines being seen together so the marriage was only logical, make a name for herself while her husband handed her choice roles and payed the bills. But it had not worked out as planned. Harry’s film making never really evolved like everyone had predicted. Instead of moving on to mature subjects and serious plotlines he instead was determined to remain in the horror genre, making monster films and even refusing even to move on from practical effects to CGI, saying that it didn’t ‘look real.’ Diane remembered shouting at his once that ‘none of it looks real Harry, none of it is!’ but he refused to listen and quickly his films started to fall out of popularity and Diane, far from becoming a household name like she had envisioned, had become some ‘scream queen.’ A punch line to the joke that Harry Winters had become.
Diane sighed. Even Harry’s appearance had fallen out of style. When they had first met he had been the height of fashion, always a talking point on the red carpet. But now he was a poster boy for last years look. Unshaven, skinny and pale with an unkempt hairstyle, it seemed Harry was incapable of moving with the times in any respect. Now Diane’s co-star was a man to be desired. Steven Woodford was an example of muscles that never went out of style. Clean shaven and chiseled features he had quickly risen to become a heartthrob of the nation and at only twenty nine years old he was the fantasy of every woman in the country. If only they knew the half of it.
‘Stand up please Mrs Winters?’ the costuming department were back. Diane rose to her feet and went to stand in front of the full length mirror in the corner of the room where the staff quickly set about perfecting her look. The movie required her to have a certain ‘damsel in distress look’ about her. A character who had been roughing it in the jungle for a few days. Her dress was tactically ripped in a few places and was smeared with dirt. Her shirt open enough to allow some titillation but not so far as to expose anything. And finally dirt across her face to make her look like she had been through the rough and tumble but not so much as to ruin her natural beauty. Considering her characters situation it took a lot of time and care to make things look carefree.
Diane’s phone buzzed loudly on the table.
‘Pass that here please’ Diane snapped, reaching out her hand despite the designer currently trying to work on it. The hairdresser did so obediently, being careful not to look at the screen of the phone whilst she did so, she had been trained well. Diane snatched the device from her hand and slid her fingers across the glass ignoring the quiet objection of the designer. There was a text from Steven.
‘Are you ready for the action my dear? Your husband is waiting’
Diane smiled and sent a quick text back to him.
‘As ready as I was last night, the costume people are still messing about’
Diane passed her phone back to the hairdresser who placed it face down on the table. As the costumer designers tweaked and poked at her Diane thought back to the previous night and smiled a little to herself. Even better, she thought about tonight when she would be doing the same again. Finally the helpers finished and Diane examined herself quickly in the mirror. Satisfied she walked quickly to the door and then finally out onto the darkened film set. Steven was stood by the door waiting for her. He smiled as she exited her room and offered her his arm. She took it with a smile of her own and he led her onto the set itself. Made to look like a light jungle with a rocky outcropping to the side to cover a platform on which the lizard-man leader was going to stand. The Lizard-men themselves were standing in a group by the side of the set, texting on phones, eating the buffet food or idly chatting, Diane’s smile dropped from her face as she saw them. The suits they were wearing, and it wasn’t the fact that they weren’t wearing the heads or hands, were just some of the least convincing things she had ever seen. They seemed to droop loosely off the stuntmen’s bodies and the tails hung limply, no life in them at all.
‘As much as I do admire your husbands desire to stick to traditional styles of movie making and keeping to traditions I can’t help but fear that his results are somewhat…lacking’ said Steven, following Diane’s glance and smirking.
‘Well you know Harry, he refuses to catch up to the modern times, says if he can’t touch something, feel it’s texture then he can’t believe it’s real and if he can’t believe it then why should his audience? Personally I wish he would catch up to the same decade as the rest of us. You don’t make money by making something believable, though I can’t remember the last time he even managed that.’
‘As oppose to yourself’ Steven commented quietly ‘Your performance last night was exceptional’
‘Please darling, I was perfect. Though you were by no means tame yourself.’
‘Well I do always strive to impress, I don’t suppose Harry has notice anything?’
‘Please Steven, you give him too much credit, when he has a film to work on Harry doesn’t notice anything, even when he isn’t working he is hardly the sharpest tool in the shed.’
‘Are you ever anything but harsh to the poor man, he is your husband after all’
‘Not for long’ replied Diane speaking even quieter. ‘Celebrity divorce is all the range nowadays.’ The pair chuckled to themselves as they stood around the set waiting for the director to make his presence known. It didn’t take long.
‘Ah Diane, Steven, glad you could make it, I thought I might have to come get you myself’
‘As if you could Harry, and from the looks of it I would say that you are the late one.’ Steven spoke in a jovial manner but there was a small twist to his lip that betrayed malice. Harry Winters was slowly jogging across the set towards them. His creased shirt was untucked and his jeans seemed reluctant to stay around his waist, the belt he wore hardly seeming to keep them up. As he hurried across the set he tripped on one of the cables stretched across the floor and only just managed to save himself from slamming into the floor.
‘Well I’m sorry for my tardiness’ he joked again as he reached the pair, ‘there was a problem in the boiler room and I had to go and try to help.
‘Oh Harry, I didn’t know the director was also doubling as the janitor, though I guess it does explain your appearance.’ Replied Diane, hardly managing to keep the contempt from her voice.
‘What? Oh yea sorry for that too, I was working all night on some rewrites for today’s scenes. Did you two have fun though; you went out for a meal didn’t you?’
‘Oh yes we had a great night, Steven took me to an amazing restaurant just outside town’
‘That’s great, I’ll have to take you there when we finally wrap this one up’ replied Harry
‘Oh that would be wonderful, a celebration meal.’ Replied Diane, the sarcasm clear for all to hear except for Harry it seemed.
‘Right shall we get on with today’s shoot? I’m dying to see this new scene finished so that I can get on with my new rewrites.’
And with that Harry rushed off over to the Lizard-men who were just wrapping up their meal. Diane turned to Steven and gave him a look of despair which he readily returned; more reshoots could well extend the shoot for another week. Harry was so meticulous about everything being to his vision. The pair didn’t get a chance to return to their conversation however as Harry was already hurrying back over, the Lizard-men I tow with gleeful looks on their young faces. One of Harry’s many talents was his ability to employ the fresh out of collage actor and actress wannabees and convince them that they were signing on for some sort of amazing project when really all he ever gave them was another Harry Winters disaster.
‘Places everyone, places!’ Called Harry and the cast of the scene scrambled into position.
The lights were dimmed and the set was filled with quiet ambient sounds. Diane and Steven took their places and fixed their best worried looks as the scene demanded. As contemptuous as they may have been of the film and it’s director they both prided themselves on being professionals of their fallen and they took it extremely seriously.
‘Ready everyone! And…Action!’ called Harry and slammed the clapper board down.
Thought the screen in front of him Harry watched as the empty set for a few seconds before Steven slowly crept onto the set followed by Diane who clung to him like she was afraid that to let go would result in her being blown away in some none existent tornado. The two really were superb actors thought Harry as they advanced onto the set and stopped dead center of the camera. It was times like these that harry loved, seeing his visions slowly unfold before him like some vast carpet. He didn’t care what the papers called his movies or when they reported delays and setbacks, harry enjoyed the business for the art and he felt vindicated every time he met on of his cult following fans. On camera Steven was holding aloft the fake torch he had and peering into the darkness of the none existent jungle.
‘Oh please can’t we stop?’ pleaded Diane ‘My poor feet are aching so badly!’
‘Absolutely not, you’ve seen what those creatures did to the others, do you want them to catch us and do the same to us?’ replied Steven in a grim and determined voice.
‘But I’m so tired, I don’t think I can physically go any further’ continued Diane
‘Then I’ll carry you damn it but if we want to get out of here then we simply can’t stop.’
The pair took a few more steps before Diane turned, pulled a horrified face and let out one of her iconic scream queen yells. From the jungle backdrop came the Lizard-men. In the darkened set and with the proper camera angles the suits looked remarkably lifelike thought Harry, the prop guys had really stepped up. The actors to were doing a great job in moving in an imposing way, keeping low and bobbing from side to side, these kids had really taken on board what Harry had told them about how he wanted them to move. One of them passed the toy ceremonial knife he had from one hand to the other as he advanced, a nice little touch but maybe a bit too human, then again who was harry to say what these creatures would do? He would have to consider it.
On screen Steven had backed away from the creature closest to him and tried his best to usher Diane behind him who, as reluctant as she was to give up any screen time, relented and made a few small side steps in order to look sheltered. In the background one of the Lizard-men hurried quickly to the side so that he wouldn’t look to be too close to Diane.
‘Get behind me’ Steven commanded, somewhat unnecessarily, and pulled the small revolved he had from it’s holster.
One of the Lizard-men advanced a few quick paces towards him and Steven raised the gun and fired there was a puff of smoke and the sound man hit the button for the gun sound effects. The Lizard-man stumbled backwards and threw his arms up, dropping his own dagger. There was another gunshot and he took another step, then a third and he stumbled again, his foot getting wrapped up in the tail of the suit and he fell over backwards in a heap.
‘Cut!’ called Harry and the lights went back on.
Harry quickly got out of his chair and rushed to make sure his actor was OK while Diane and Steven looked on in irritation.
‘He’s fine Harry, he was supposed to fall over, what was the problem with that?’
‘I thought he might have hurt himself Diane, can’t have any of our actors injured, and his foot was clearly caught on his tail, what lizard-man gets caught in his own tail?’
‘I’m OK Mr Winters, I’m just sorry I ruined the shot’ said the Lizard-man, getting to his feet and picking his dagger back up, ‘I’m just real sorry I ruined your shot.’ Harry recognized the boy’s voice to belong to that of a young intern who had volunteered to be an extra, Glen.
‘Not at all Glen, don’t you worry about it, there is always time for re-shoots, isn’t that what I always say Diana?’
‘Thats what you always say Harry’ replied Diane, putting heavy emphasis on the word say.
‘Right everyone, back to your places, we’ll pick up from the scream.’ Said Harry.
The places were set again and the clapper board went down again.
Diane screamed as the Lizard-men advanced on the pair again. Steven raised his pistol and shot at Glen who did the same routine as before, this time managing to dodge the suits tail and fall better than an expert could down to the ground. Steven turned and fired again at the next Lizard-man who did a not so professional job of falling as he toppled backwards but the camera angle managed to cut off the least dignified bits of it. The Lizards got closer to the leading couple and Steven raised his gun again and pulled the trigger. This time there was no puff of smoke, no gun noise and Steven looked at the gun with an excellent look of fear and determination before turning and hurling the prop at the closest Lizard-man. The poor Lizard-man was completely taken aback by this and flailed wildly at the heavy prop, managing to bat it away just in time before it sailed into the mouth of the costume.
‘Cut!’ called Harry again
‘What the fuck was that?!’ shouted the Lizard-man angrily
‘It was improvisation, you think my character would just stand there with an empty gun?’
‘No Steven, you can’t just throw the props at people, they could get hurt and that prop wasn’t cheap.’
‘You almost hit me in the face you Asshole!’ shouted the Lizard-man again.
‘Hey you gotta be ready for this kinda thing if you wanna make it in the business you amateur.’ Replied Steven.
The Lizard-man flipped him the bird.
‘OK Guys calm it down ok, it was an accident, it won’t happen again, can we please get back to the shoot?’ said harry who had gone to pick up Steven’s gun and was now handing it back to him. ‘We’re all friends here after all.’
‘Yes Mr Winters’ said the Lizard-man
‘I think it was a good thought Harry, Steven was right, about his character I mean’ said Diane.
‘Maybe but can we please leave it out from now on Steven?’ asked Harry
‘As you say Harry’ replied Steven like a petulant child. ‘You’re the director.’
‘OK people, back to your places! Bill, I Hate to ask but can you stop doing the toying with the knife thing? I think it takes away from the character a bit. Oh and Lewis, you owe the swear jar two dollars. Seriously you student’s are gonna fix the third world with your foul mouths’ Called Harry
They all returned to their places and harry called out
‘This is it boys and girls, the big final shoot, let’s do it perfect. Action!’
The scene played out once more and the Lizard-men approached the couple. Their weapons gleaming in the low lights. Strange, thought Diane, their weapons look pretty real, maybe Harry finally invested in some decent props. Steven raised and fired his gun again. There was the puff of smoke, the bang and the Lizard-man kept advancing. Steven pulled the trigger again. The puff of smoke, the noise, and Glen completely ignored it.
‘Oh come on now? Really?’ said Steven as he and Diane dropped character in exasperation.
‘Keep going guys, come on!’ called Harry
‘The shot is ruined now, Let’s just close this off, I can’t work with these people’ complained Steven.
But the Lizard-men kept closing on them, still wrapped up in the scene.
‘Come on guys, this is the final scene, act it out!’ called Harry.
‘What is the point harry, they ruined it!’ called Diane, stamping her foot. The Lizard-men were only a few feet away now and still closing.
‘Back off!’ shouted Steven, pushing Glen hard in the chest and forcing him back onto his ass.
As he moved however another Lizard-man lept from the background and grabbed Steven around the neck.
‘What the fuck!’ screamed Diane before another of the lizard-men grabbed her by the hair and pulled her away from Steven. Diane let out the best scream she had even released on screen and another Lizard-man grabbed her legs and the pulled her to the floor.
Steven managed to fight the Lizard-man off his back and turned to help Diane but glen was back on his feet and now he and another Lizard-man grabbed Steven by the shoulders and dragged him backwards.
‘Excellent guys, excellent, this is perfect. Not too far now Glen, Lewis, I still want them both in shot!’
‘What the fuck are you doing Harry!’ shouted Steven as he struggled.
‘Cameramen, a close up on the stab now! Here it comes!’ called harry, still directing the scene like it was all normal.
‘You fucking…’ started Steven but then lewis rounded on him, thrusting the knife he had been holding forward and piercing Steven in the side. Blood ran freely down the ripped shirt Steven had been wearing and started to rapidly pool on the floor. Diane screamed again and started begging, pleading to know what was happening.
‘What is happening? What do you think is happening Diane? I’m changing the script.’ Replied harry in the same calm voice he had had through the entire series of events.
‘Harry…Why? Steven…you …he’ll’ Diane tried to say but she was sobbing too hard now as another blade was pushed up under her chin, the cold steel easily cutting into the skin and making her struggle a little more.
‘Why Diane? Why? I think you both know why. You think I wouldn’t find out what you were doing? Do you think I was born yesterday?’
Steven tried to say something but all then came out were desperate gasps for air.
‘In my own bed Diane? I could maybe have forgiven the motels and the fake dinners. But shaming me in my own bed? Not to mention everything you have been saying about me. I admit I never really thought this marriage was working out but to go and do that to me?’
‘I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!’ begged Diane as she struggled. As she blubbered her dress turned darker and water pooled around her legs.
‘Hey shoot that’ harry said to one of the camera men, ‘someone is bound to pay for shots of the refined Diane Winters pissing herself on set.’
‘I got it Sir’ the camera man replied.
‘Good’ Said Harry, returning his gaze to his wife. Steven, turning ever paler, was all but ignored, hanging in the arms of Glen and Lewis.
‘You know I think in hindsight I could have even forgiven all that. But there was one thing I could not forgive Diane. It was you two, running around like you owned the place and making it look like you were bigger than the business itself. The business I love more than anything. Nothing is bigger than the movies Diane, no thing and no one. Ever!’
‘Sir this one is fading fast, not as mush fight as he made out!’ called Glen.
‘Oh but you two can die now, knowing that you will make history. You are about to be part of the most realistic murder scene of two characters that has ever been put to film. But don’t worry, Annabelle is already all lined up to take the place as the new leading lady, and I’m sure she will do fine. But we must hurry, so if you will kids, make them scream.’
There was no use in struggling and Diane could only watch as more knives were plunged into Steven and then as they closed on her, quickly turning her red dress into a bloody mess.
‘Cut’ yelled Harry when the pair finally stopped twitching. ‘And that is a wrap on that scene! Well done everybody.’
The lights went back up and the Lizard-men removed their heads to take a better look at their handiwork.
‘I think it looks pretty good sir, just like the prop work you did on Abomination a few years ago’ said Glen
‘More like Sunset Maelstrom if you ask me’ said Lisa, one of the other Lizard-men.
‘Thank you, you’re too kind. Now lets take a break guys so the prop men can get in here and get to work on the remains, there are still some shots to be filled with the rest of the cast before we can dispose of the remains.’
‘Are you sure everyone else is OK with this Sir?’ asked Lisa as she left the set.
‘Don’t worry Lisa, they’re all on board. Annabelle is a little nervous but thats just because she doesn’t want to see the bodies. And Lewis, don’t forget the swear jar.’
‘You either sir’ replied Lewis
‘What?’ said Harry, stopping in his tracks and giving Lewis a stern look.
‘Well…you did say pissing, isn’t piss a swear word?’ said lewis, a look of sudden fear on his face.
There was a brief pause.
‘Of course I did! Well spotted Lewis. I had forgotten. Guess I ought to put in for Diana as well.’ Replied harry at last, pulling out his wallet to a relieved look on lewis’s face.
‘Now come on guys, you all go get changed and I’ll see you down the bar tonight, first round is on me!’ shouted Harry and the crowd cheered.