Home > Uncategorized > Day Two Hundred and Twenty-five: Places, Please

Day Two Hundred and Twenty-five: Places, Please

The stage manager walked into the green room, clipboard in hand and a pencil behind his ear. “All right, we’re going to need Carly Siminsky on deck, with Peter Wach, Khrys Ferro, and…” He looked up and let out a long, deep sigh of frustration.

“Okay,” he said. “What the hell’s going on?”

The green room was utterly silent except for the little blue fairy sitting in front of a mirror, humming out of tune and plastering make-up onto its hideous face. Contrary to what its makers had promised, the make-up was not helping one bit.

The stage manager stalked over to the fairy and yanked it away by the arm. It yelped and dropped a huge glob of styling mousse on the floor. “Where,” the stage manager asked, “is everybody?”

“Dunno,” the fairy said, twisting to see itself in the mirror again. “They all gone.”

The stage manager let it drop, and it rushed back to the makeup table. “Great,” he said. “We have another hundred and forty-one days to do, and if they don’t get their act together then I’m gonna be the one to explain it to the boss.” He pulled a stool up next to the fairy. “Did you see where they went?” he asked.

“They all gone,” it said again. It turned to him, and widened eyes thickly lined with bright green eyeliner. “And they maaaaad!”

“Mad?” The stage manager stood up and put his face in his hands. “What the hell do they have to be mad about? They just had a month’s vacation!” He spun on the fairy, who wasn’t paying attention. “I sure as hell didn’t get a month’s vacation, and you don’t see me running off and whining about it!”

“Well, maybe you should,” a voice said from behind him.

The stage manager spun around. The man standing there looked like a next-door neighbor you would wave to every morning but whose name you could never remember. He wore a blazer that looked a little too big for him, had thinning, swept-back hair, and wore steel-rimmed eyeglasses. He raised a hand and smiled. “Roger Tillman,” he said. “And I’m the one who drew the short straw.”

The stage manager flipped through the papers on his clipboard, running a finger down the list of names. He stopped and looked up. “Tillman? From 191? The telepath?”

Roger shrugged. “I prefer Tillman, the Best-Selling Author, but ‘telepath’ is pretty accurate too.” He glanced over the stage manager’s shoulder. “You, uh… You might want to see where he got that lighter.” He pointed at the fairy, who was busily flicking a disposable lighter and getting only sparks. Its hair was standing rigid with hairspray. The stage manager swiped the lighter away, and picked up the fairy. He took it to the door and tossed it out into the darkness like it was a disgusting blue furry football. Which, broadly speaking, it was.

Taking a deep breath, the stage manager turned around and tried to smile at Roger, but it was an effort. The man was standing there with his hands in his pockets, trying to look at ease. “So,” the stage manager said. “What can you tell me about why I have no characters here today? Everyone hung over from too much New Year’s carousing?”

“No,” Roger said. “Not that.”

“Is this one of those ‘occupy’ things, then? Do you feel you’ve been treated unfairly?”

Roger shook his head. “Nope.”

The stage manager threw the clipboard to the floor. “Then what? I have a hundred-some more days to go, and there are probably thousands -”

“Dozens.”

A lot of people waiting for new stories!” He poked Roger in the chest and was only vaguely aware that he was screaming. “It’s my job to make sure you people stay in line, that you’re where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there!”

Roger shrugged.

“Fine!” The stage manager picked up the clipboard and brandished it at him. “Fine! That’s what you want, then that’s it. This whole operation gets shut down, and then where will you be?” He jabbed a finger at the door through which he had tossed the fairy. “Out there,” he yelled. “Out in limbo, in nothing, in that horrible in-between place which is where we’ll all end up if I can’t get you people to do what you’re told!”

GEORGE.

The stage manager went instantly silent. He closed his eyes tightly, as if waiting for a blow that was about to come.

GEORGE. COOL IT.

“Yessir.”

LET THE MAN TALK.

“Yessir.” He cracked one eye open and looked around, finally glaring at Roger. “You see what you’ve done?” he hissed.

“I do believe the man said to let me talk?”

The stage manager – George – nodded.

“Okay, then. Here’s what I’ve been sent to tell you: We are all unavailable for the next month.”

George stood up straight, and it was like a turtle poking its way out of its shell. “What do you mean?” He held up the clipboard. “You just had a vacation!”

“Not really,” Roger said. He walked around George and took a seat at one of the makeup stations. “We were all on call, really. For that ‘world-building’ thing he was doing.”

George shrugged. “That was important stuff,” he said. “But you didn’t actually have to do anything, right?”

“Not as such, no.” Roger picked up an eyebrow pencil and started twirling it in his fingers. “But he still needed us to be there for him. You know – to give information about the world and all that.” With a quick move, he flicked it upwards. The pencil thudded into the ceiling and stuck there. He looked back at George, who dropped his own gaze to look at him. “We want a proper vacation, George. A month off to…” He waved his hands around. “You know, get things done, put our houses in order, do a little cleaning – that sort of thing.”

“And you’ll come back in February?”

“Sure,” Roger said. “If he needs us.”

George held the clipboard to his chest. “What do we do until then?” He hated the way his voice sounded. Whiny. A little bit afraid. “We’ll have to take on a whole new crew.”

Roger nodded. “Yup.” He stood up and smoothed out his slacks. “But it’ll be fun – new people to meet, new places to go.” He put an arm around George’s shoulders. The stage manager flinched. “Think of the adventures you can have!”

“They’ll probably be non-union,” George muttered.

Roger looked over at him and grinned. “A fictional characters’ union?” He grinned broadly. “That’s a fantastic idea!” He reached into his jacket pocket for a pad of paper and a ballpoint. “Gonna have to work this one out…” He waved absently at George. “Good luck,” he said. “See you in February!” Writing furiously, he went out the door into the darkness.

George sighed and slumped into a chair. “I can’t believe this,” he said.

BELIEVE IT.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked, looking up at the ceiling.

… DON’T SEE ANY REASON WHY WE CAN’T.

With a deep breath, George stood up and took out a fresh form from his clipboard. “All right,” he said. “Your funeral.” He pulled the pencil from behind his ear. “I’ll talk to casting and see who we can find.” He licked the tip of the pencil and started writing, pausing only to turn off the lights behind him.

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