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eyes wo a face


Show Runner

           Magic is the most valuable commodity, real or otherwise. Only fools give it away for nothing.

            My name is Avar Pelfkin and I am here to sell you magic. I hire writers, actors, and other creatives to conjure it up on the screen, and fire them when they fail, which is often. Most importantly, I make money selling delicious flavors of social sorcery: celebrity, glory, Truth with a capital T, wispy promises of eternity, and of course love. I sell them all.

            So, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that there is no such thing as magic. Real is real; all else is want and wish. We are born without magic, and a distracted world provides each of us a death as inane as it is solitary. Ashes, but no pixie dust.

            That said, our story is as real as you wish it to be.

            My writers think they’re Fitzgerald, Chayefsky, Mankiewicz or, you know, good. They drop sesquipedalian slop on my desk, and I have to turn it into something an audience will pay for. I won’t bore you with their draft of Chapter One, it’s a pretentious weather report filled with darkening skies and the threat of a great storm. Clouds symbolize hubris. Trees represent the burgeoning spirit of man. There are cows all over the place for some reason – maybe the burdens of living in society. Who knows? Total crap! I burned it and wrote a decent script. The flaming zeppelin is mine, as is the face-melting scene in the hotel. The good stuff.

            Understand: these characters believe they’re people, and perception is reality when you’re swimming in the deeps. Their lives lumber along. Magic is a desperate attempt to change the parts they don’t like, whether it’s old age, loss, or the consequences of their own actions. People dabble in religion or drugs or turn to science for a quick cheat. Life writes their story, and the ending will be written the way it will.

            I never interfere, except when I do.

            Storytellers capture all this, but not without help. They find ways to call their muses. Milton and Hemingway favored the early hours for writing, Ernest so he could spend the rest of his day drinking, fishing, and chasing skirt. Maya Angelou, another morning person, kept a sherry, a deck of cards, and a Bible close by. Dan Brown hung himself upside down, inverting his brain to cure writer’s block. Victor Hugo penned Quasimodo whilst quasi-naked, ordering his valet to confiscate his clothes so he couldn’t leave home. Allowing himself a shawl on cold days, Vic birthed Hunchback in only four months.

            Sure, they got the job done, but all scribblers seem to forget, or wish they could forget, that writing is a business and a pretty easy job at that. A few hours spent each day plucking words out of the ether, that’s all. It beats shoveling manure, although considering some of what I get – No, I’ve made my point.

            The rules of writing for an audience are simple: Tell a story. Tell the audience what you’re going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you just told them. Bring your characters to life then let them tell you their story. Don’t get fancy. You ain’t no Billy Quillpen Shakespeare. Don’t introduce impossible solutions in Act Three. Or do then go back to Act One and hang a lantern on your deus ex machina. Big themes and profound messages should be accidental; sex and violence should be gratuitous and plentiful. Take your audience somewhere, get em lost, put em in danger, then rescue em. Send people home emotionally spent. Ignore the critics. Never apologize. Done. Oh, wait. One more: do not use the word indubitably. Not even once.

            So, I’ll be your narrator. In your head, use Morgan Freeman’s voice, or Charlton Heston’s, or make me Oprah if you like. I don’t care. And don’t bother me with your emotional needs. I deal in wants and wishes, not dreary must haves. I see all, tell all, and care not at all when people get hurt, burned, mutilated, or eaten.

           My purpose is to get this story told and sold.


Chapter 1 – A Certain Place and Happenstance

            Malvern Wight wanted something different, a break from the finely crafted $200M Hollywood image that hung around his neck, setting razor wire boundaries on his every word and action. Cross the line and the guards (the audience) would shoot to kill. He’d been doing the acting thing for years now, to the bitter exclusion of all else, certainly alienating himself from family and friends who had given up hope of ever again seeing his face without paying for the privilege. He wished he could call one or two of the special ones. It didn’t work that way. Be who you are in Hollywood and the real you will be busing tables or eating bugs on an island for piddly ratings. Malvern Wight (never again to be called Wesley Cuthbert Millbridge) was the virile leading man, master seducer of starlets, five-four or shorter, please. This allowed his six-one presence to dominate his leading ladies and thereby inflame she-viewer fantasies. The algorithms of stardom had everything figured to the nth degree. Except for what Malvern wanted.

            Filming in Atlanta had its perks. Aside from the loose working regulations owing to the Southern tradition of crushing unions and Georgia’s deep tax breaks that California could not or would not match, stars could get out and have fun without being hounded by rabid paparazzi. To be sure, photogs appeared from nowhere at the damnedest times, but they did not form packs outside every late-night bar the way they did in Beverly Hills, Burbank, or Los Angeles, where they bred like the feral curs they were.

            In Atlanta, actors could spend an afternoon on the magnolia-line hills of Bobby Jones Golf Course, then drive unmolested past billboards pimping their latest movie or series on their way to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack on Piedmont Avenue. There, a greasy bag of cholesterol and joy could be grabbed and taken back to the Omni or the W Atlanta, or maybe the Marriott Marquis, whose vaulting atrium with its curved riblike balconies makes one imagine he’s been swallowed by a whale. Peckish celebs might slip anonymously into the Vortex, either on Peachtree Street midtown or the one in Little Five Points, stepping through the giant skull entrance whose groovy swirling eyes beckons patrons to try the tastiest, sloppiest burgers in any dimension. And if a weary thespian like Malvern craved distraction after a long day of delivering the same lines through thirty takes, he could ask his driver to drop him off outside the century-old building on Piedmont, the one with the old-style radio tower on its roof, beaming out the hotel’s name in garish red neon. The Hotel Clermont was five stories of tacky luxury. More importantly, it was home to the Clermont Lounge, the place where tedium, propriety, and pronouns went to die.

            Crew members who called the city home described the Clermont Lounge to Malvern between copious smirks and snickers. The vintage marquis overhead warmly read: “Everyone Welcome.” Malvern planned to put that slogan to the test.

            The company had sent his bags ahead, and he looked forward to checking out his room. The brochure made the place out to be a real gem hidden inside the grungy red brick exterior – tastefully decorated rooms, an AstroTurf-carpeted rooftop restaurant, fun amenities. Fine and well. What Malvern really needed was a trip to the hotel’s infamous co-tenant, Atlanta’s oldest and most colorful gentlemen’s club. It did not disappoint.

            You can renovate a building, as they had done to the Clermont Hotel, but the smell of alcohol, desperation, and hormones were worked into the bricks as was the thrill of stepping from the familiar into the whatever-this-was… festooned with PBR stickers and photos dating back to the joint’s groovy Jungle Club days. Laughter crashed in waves under the tropical lighting, broken by the occasional “Bitch, please!” The juke box, solely operated by the strippers, delivered Bluegrass loud enough to rattle teeth and eardrums as Malvern stepped in from the humid evening. It felt deliciously wrong to be here.

            A dancer swung her Pabst-and-grits-figure around the stage, itself encircled by a bar clad in duct tape. The woman gave everything to the music, finishing her set by crushing a beer can between her mammalian accoutrements before returning them to their black lacy confines. Fans cheered in either boozy lust or envy, depending. Some patrons were openly fabulous, others more subtle, many securely straight enough to ride the vibe. Indeed, the crowd split equally between those who came to see and those who hungered to be seen. It was all in good fun. This was a cultural and moral Switzerland. No judgements. No cameras.

            Malvern made it to the bar in time to brush up against the star of the room as she made her way out onto the floor. “Virgin?” she chided him while straightening her bra strap.

            “Not for long,” Malvern shot back with a little boy grin. He let his look work its magic on her. The arched eyebrows were his, while he wore his hair swept back and sported the soul patch and closely cropped mutton chops for his current role.

            “Wooo! Give this man a drink, Mackie!” the lightly dressed woman ordered the bartender, who quickly went to work pouring a generous portion over ice, twisting a lemon peel over the top and handing the glass to Malvern.

            He drew an appreciative sip, eyes blooming wide. “I love Tanqueray. Brilliant. How did you know?”

            “He figured someone like you would like that,” she answered.

            As his senses caught up with him, Malvern took a good look at his new bar buddy. She was a charming Black woman in a blinding platinum Bettie Page cut. She had clearly outlasted the parade of dancers whose faces changed while their birthdays never broke thirty. Her warm, unjaded smile hinted at the secret of her longevity in such a transient profession.

            “Well, I thank you. May I return the favor?”

            “I’m good, ___?” The woman raised one perfectly plucked and penciled brow.

            “What? Oh, right. I’m Malv – Wes, to my friends.”

            “Well, Wes to my friends, welcome to Atlanta, baby. Who am I?” This she directed to the immediate crowd.

            They knew the drill and obligingly shouted back, “Nyxi!” with great gusto.

            She continued, “Nyxi Noir, Goddess of the Night. And these mongrels are my friends, although outside this bar no one knows anyone or anything. Right?”

            “Right!” the others shouted, with a few adding, “Fuck, yeah!”

             “We’re glad you and your buddies are shooting a series in our little town.”

            “Oh, you –”

            “The second you walked in. It’s not like I can buy a box of tampons without seeing your face on the cover of the tabloids. Don’t worry, sweetie. No one here squeals. You’re safe as can be.”

      “Thank goodness for that.” He waited until the moment stretched and the smile began to slip from her mouth. “Although, I was hoping not to be quite so safe as it were.”

             “You’re not talking about little old Nyxi, are you?” Her voice went up through the titter ranges into a chirp.

             “Oh. Well, that would of course be wonderous and memorable, an evening inscribed in heaven’s crystalline vault for eternity, but I was actually looking for something…”

             “Well, I’m no pimp, MalWes, sweetie.” She was playing with him. He was nervous and she knew it and she liked it. Oddly enough, he liked how this was going. “I do happen to know how to read a room, however. There’s a man over in the far corner, well-dressed, good looking. Not one of our regulars. Anyway, he’s had his eye on you since you walked in.”

            Nyxi smiled and nodded. Malvern smiled and hesitated, then hazarded a glance at the far corner she had indicated.

            He was there. Five-nine, dark-haired, a sub-Saharan god in rose-tinted glasses and pricey casual (and tight in the right places) summer clothes. His lips curled up on one side, pinning a mischievous grin to his otherwise saturnine features. Malvern muttered a thank you to Nyxi and began walking, just as a fiddle and bass quartet took the stage and lit into a rambling alt-folk number.

            The man removed his eyewear with a perfectly manicured hand adorned with an antique gold ring set with a succulent red berry of a stone. He locked his eyes, blue as an iceberg’s heart, onto Malvern’s mud brown pair. A euphoric dew beaded his skin. Nothing mattered except the twin azure pools drawing him closer. It was a duel to see which of them had the greater appetite, and this magnificent man was winning. Malvern’s heart indulged in giddy schoolboy nonsense. He wanted to get lost in those eyes forever.

            It was everything movies and TV were not. The breathlessness of falling into Malvern’s room upstairs, the non-sequitur conversation about stars and time and a hunger for sensation in the yawning absence of meaning… laughter and touch. Bumping into the nicely restored mid-century furniture. Falling together then drawing apart only to sink back into the other’s gravity well. Kissing. Oh, the kissing. Finally! That way. There. Yes, right there! That feeling.

            The clothes flew and tumbled in a laundramatic orgy of colors until the two men were skin-to-skin (pasty white vs. ebony) on the narrow granny-style bed, in an embrace Malvern prayed would never end. He reveled in the other’s warmth and earthy musk.

           “Dwayne, I –” Despite enjoying greater stature, Malvern felt small, childlike in this stranger’s powerful grip.

           “Don’t worry. Now is when all worries end,” Dwayne said. Dwayne would have to do. In the crowded bar below, Malvern had only half-heard the man’s last name. He might have dismissed it, but he thirsted to know more about this man.

            “I’ve never felt this way before,” he chanced. His tongue went dry in his mouth, making his words clumsy.

            Dwayne laughed out loud. “You sound like one of your movies!” His humor and words tore through Malvern.

            “You know who I – yes, of course you do.”

             “It doesn’t matter. That is a famous face to be sold to fools. Tonight, we sell ourselves to something much bigger, far more permanent than silly flickering lights.”

             “Yes, oh yes!” Malvern did not kiss the other man but closed his eyes and waited to be kissed. Their lips met softly. He felt the other draw him ever tighter, making his flesh bristle and thrill.

             The sensation began to pulse, where their skin pressed hotly together and throughout Malvern’s body. He had never been more aroused, but it was more than that. His hair stood up. The muscles of his legs spasmed. And there was a warm penetration. Not the one he expected. Not like anything he had ever felt. It entered him first in his abdomen, then at several points along his chest. Each point grew warm and then all at once seared into him as if he’d fallen on red hot daggers. And they moved, flexed. He could feel the rude trespassers probing inside the organs and tissue where he could never dig them out. They found the cells and then drilled deeper, always deeper. One wriggled and furled itself around his spinal cord. In an instant, a wormhole in space created a corridor linking bloody Arcturus to the base of his skull.

            “Stop! What’s happening? Oh Dwayne, it hurts.” Malvern pleaded even as he hoped the pain would continue. How was this possible? Terror waltzed with delight. Was that his true nature? He’d never suspected.

             “Ssshhh,” the voice of Dwayne said, coming from lips that were nothing like what Malvern recognized from the last few hours. “This is what you need. It’s what we both need. The old way. Let it happen. Ssshhh.”

             Malvern’s mind wandered over the sands of some distant wasteland. The clock solemnly stared back with a red 8:14. He wanted to cry from a sensory glut that tallied as joy, but no tears came. His eyes burned and he found that he could not blink. It was difficult to focus on the glowing digits, but they appeared to say it was now 11:01, somehow. He felt different. Different in a bad way. Diminished. Insubstantial. And yet somehow content to be this way.

             No one witnessed the red numbers pronounce midnight.

            The stranger had left.

            Malvern Wight was gone.

Chapter 2 – Caught In The Moonglow

               Father scolded him no end about purchasing an automobile of lower value even than one of Mr. Ford’s flivvers, but Randolph loved his new candy apple red Willys Overland Whippet because it projected his sympathies for the working man, and most importantly, the padded bench offered little room for Rosemary to escape, so on they motored over the night roads, and the devil take Father. Randolph cranked down his window, then with a grin reached across Rosemary’s pert bosom to lower hers, allowing the brisk ocean air to wash in. He found the brine mist exhilarating, but not nearly so as the prospect of a nocturnal ocean dip with this siren in a short wavy cut. Here along the Narragansett shore, they would don swimming costumes if people were present, but if no spectators disturbed them, why, they would improvise.

             “You are a rogue, Randolph Wilbur Broodwyk. A mad rogue elephant,” she tittered.

             “I’m not nearly so rotund,” he retorted, fiddling unnecessarily with the choke and throttle to impress her.

             “A lion then. A big stinky male who exists only to service the females of the pride.”

             “Bully imagery that!”

             “Were I not fortified with spirits, I should be alarmed, fearful even.” Rosemary chuckled and snorted her comments in the gamine fashion he favored. With her bobbed raven hair shining like a new penny and delicious olive complexion, she had it all over the usual bluenose girls he met in Newport’s wealth-besotted circles.

             Tonight, he planned to show her how scandalously he could behave. “I hereby vow to fortify you in perpetuity, or at least for as long as the bourbon holds out,” Randolph joked, holding out his hand and flipping his fingers in a come-hither fashion.

             She obliged him by slipping the contoured silver flask free from the garter on her shapely leg, first taking a nip and then passing it to the driver. “You have bourbon and barney-mugging on the brain,” she said with a girlish squeal. 

            The Whippet’s spoked wheels crunched over the shell-soil mix of the parking area. Indeed, it looked as though they could claim ownership of this stretch of rocks, sand, and surf for whatever debauchery he could convince Rosemary to undertake. The plan formed clearly in his mind. With bracing water and moonlight coating her pale small breasts, hoisting his manhood to full mast, he would reach into his beach bag and pull forth the ring. Here, he had indulged far more than the paltry six hundred dollars he’d spend on the automobile to find her the perfect stone and setting. Once word got out, the newspapers would scream in faux flabbergaster: Playboy Proposes in the Nude!

            “You have a strange look in your eye, darling. Are you planning to take advantage of me?”

            “I promise you, my dearest, nothing that happens tonight will bring you the slightest distress. In fact, what I have planned is as old as time, but it will be ours forever.”

            Randolph reached up and turned the silver release inward, opening the driver’s side door. He hurried around the engine and helped Rosemary make her exit, sneaking a look at her leg as she stepped off the running board. The pair climbed over the rolling dunes, pausing over a broken lobster trap that had drifted ashore and now boiled with activity. Luna skittered in and out of cloud cover, doling meager light for them to observe. Whatever was caught inside was being unmade by meticulous claws and mouthparts. “What wonders nature holds! What surprises!” she said. Off in the rustling sea oats, a solitary dog sang a lament to the night. The lovers carefully made their way to the sand and lay out a large blanket. Rosemary began to disrobe.

              “If you wish, I could turn my back,” Randolph said with a rakish insincerity.

              “Only if you don’t like the way I look unclad. That would be a sad start to eternity, darling.” Even as she teased his ears with provocative words, she treated his eyes to the removal of her midnight blue la garçonne and pink silk chamise in two swift (practiced?) motions. All that remained were a pair of gartered black stockings framing a matching, wickedly unkempt hedge.

            Randolph unbuttoned his shirt with one hand while twist-sharpening the waxed tips of his recently grown moustaches with the other. “You are a vision,” he said softly.

            “Oh, dear!” she trilled.

            “What is it, moonflower?”

            “We seem to have company.”

            Rosemary was looking past him, up the beach. Randolph turned to see a dark figure approaching them, vaguely illuminated by the moon and by the intermittent beam of Musselbed Shoals Light.

            “Bugger it! Hundreds of miles of shoreline and see where this damn drunk picks to–”

            Rosemary, hastily wrapping her dress around her shoulders in cape-like fashion, interrupted him, “He doesn’t look zozzled.”

            “Of course, he does. He’s lumbering like a sailor who’s swallowed a month’s pay.”

             They could hear its breathing now, low and raspy, a rhythmical chuffing that mimicked the ocean’s breakers. Its head lolled forward, sending down long dense locks that obscured its face. The figure increased its stride, breaking into to an almost loping gait. The limbs articulated in contradictory movement. It walked upright like a man, but its mien suggested something lower. This was a predator.

            “Let’s go, Randy. Forget the blanket and bag. Let’s just –”

            Randolph hesitated, thinking about the ring in the bag. He still had his pants on, though his shirttails hung out, loosely catching the sea breeze. He glanced around over the silvered sands. “The very thing!” He trudged over to a piece of gray driftwood and took it in hand. By this point, the intruder was perhaps five yards away. Randolph tried to sound threatening. “Listen, my man, whoever you are, you can turn yourself right around.” He positioned himself in front of Rosemary, holding the burled club out as menacingly as possible. “You leave now, do you understand? Turn back. Go swim to Europe. I care a snap or less. Less than a snap, do you hear me? Leave us alone!”

            The intruder stopped. Now mere feet from Randolph Wilbur Broodwyk, son of a shipping mogul and champion of oppressed laborers, the night visitor raised its face into the beam of the distant lighthouse. Its complex visage belonged to no man. Rosemary screamed loud enough to split the darkness. The ghoul lunged at Randolph, clutching at his throat with long hooked fingers, as he vainly beat at it with the weathered driftwood. The shock of the sudden attack and the loss of airflow to his lungs caused Randolph’s knees to buckle. He was at the mercy of this maniac.

             Rosemary, who disdained the concept of a weaker sex, stumbled on the cool sands but managed to grab the club from Randolph and swing it at the phantasm with both arms. She landed three solid blows on the gruesome thing’s back before the driftwood snapped cleanly over its head. With a fresh break, Rosemary changed to an overhand grip suitable for stabbing. She raised her arms, intending to plunge this beach splinter into one of the overlarge eyes of their loathsome –

             In a moment that would live in Randolph’s memory for the rest of his life, the lunatic swung one unclean hand, extended a single awful claw, and split open the flesh on the throat of Randolph’s beloved. Rosemary’s hazel eyes flew open wide. She dropped her weapon as her garments slipped from her bare shoulders. Her hands tried to contain the torrent flowing from her violated throat as her life’s essence cascaded over her pale small breasts. Though she could not produce a word from her struggling lips, her eyes met Randolph’s one last time in an exchange weighted with great meaning. “I love you. Do not be afraid. Avenge me.” Beaten and now overwhelmed by grief, Randolph, surrendered to the depths of unconsciousness and collapsed at her feet.

            The beast, enraged to frenzy, raised its head, exposing its sharpened teeth to the ripe summer moon, and released an unearthly sound, building from a deep rumble to a full-throated lupine howl.

            “Jebote ćuti!”

            The take-ending command, with its Balkans-crusted consonants, rang across the location set with an urgency that made people get out of the way. Most directors yelled ‘Cut!’ This one preferred ‘jebote ćuti!’ which sounded to newbies like “yerbooty chooty” or maybe “you have a cute booty.” Seasoned crewmembers informed them it translated to “Shut the fuck up!” In any case, a buzzer sounded and ground lights snapped on along the shores of Lake Allatoona, Georgia, which would be digitally removed and replaced with a vintage 1920s seaside Narragansett, Rhode Island through the diligence of hundreds of graphics artists using state-of-the-art, money-devouring CG.

             One brave girl ran up to Margot Ditterly, the fiery actress formerly known as Rosa Margarita Cortés De La Rosa, who was playing Rosemary, handing her a moist towel to dab up the copious red corn syrup still pumping over her chest. She also brought Margot a chilled can of Diet Coke.

            The Director’s name was Haris Krpić, but crew members unable to pronounce such vowel-starved names subordinately called the Director. He unclutched the edges of the video playback monitor he’d been staring into, sipped his morning Turkish coffee, and, cigarette dangling from his lips, Bigfooted over to his petrified actors.

            “¡Hostia! I wonder what went wrong this time,” said Margot, sipping her drink and allowing a technician to disconnect the tubes that fed fake blood to a clever appliance on her neck. The technician peeled away the disgusting latex wound. Looking down at the cherry syrup, Margot quipped, “Jesus, you could eat my tetas for dessert.”

             “You were perfect, Margot. Very sexy!” The Director then turned to Remy Redfield, dressed as a young Randolph Broodwyk. “You were adequate as well.”

             “I wonder whether we might –”

             “Remy, the Director is working.” It was Bessler, the liaison with the studio’s front office, who had arrived and brought the chief make-up designer with him. Having stood up for the director, Bessler, a smallish and somewhat creepy man in heavy glasses, pulled a phone from his ill-fitting suit jacket and began posting glamourous nothings on social media.

             “I wanted to make a suggestion,” Remy said as fast as he could without tripping over his own words. “If the werewolf waits a few more minutes to attack, Margot and I could –”

             “In your dreams, pendejo.” She snort-chuckled. That laugh was her Hollywood trademark and what got her hired, in fact. Sometimes, she’d add a goose honk between snorts, or a bird-like trilling. In any case, it got folks’ attention.

             “Werewolf, Doc?”

             The Director addressed this to Perry ‘Doc’ Dalton, the make-up and effects wizard who stood at Bessler’s side. Doc was a middle-aged man with a closely cropped red beard shot through with gray. He had a shelf full of awards and knew how to keep his head when someone bellowed, so he calmly said, “As you approved in the test footage.”

             “I approve zombie and I approve werewolf! Focus groups disagree. I please both focus groups,” the Director said tapping his forehead.

             Haris was a Serbian genius. The studio recognized this because his last project exceeded its costs, including marketing budget, by a factor of three-point-seven. It had been a historical docudrama on the destruction of the Brcko Bridge between Bosnia and Herzegovina that played a pivotal role in the Balkans War – the one before Haris’ birth. Some credited the project’s success to Haris’ use of handheld cameras, reliance on emotive close-ups, and long-take sequences lasting up to eleven minutes. Others pointed to the numerous scenes of graphic sex. Anyway, it made a mountain of cash. Haris was a man of few words, an English vocabulary of under eighty at last count that frequently left people wondering want he wanted. This didn’t matter. He made money; therefore, he was a genius.

            “Yes, as I say, you approved zombies, but then we got the green light for werewolves. Naturally, I checked the script. It says night fiend. So, I read on and saw that it was at night, under a full moon and gave you a werewolf.”

            “Both!” the Director said, summoning a best boy with a snap of the finger. The crewmember dutifully appeared and handed the Director a bottle of sparkling water.

            Doc was not going to surrender. Wiping the sweat and grime from the inside of his glasses with a cloth and then replacing them he said, “So, werewolves in this scene? Zombies later?”

            “No. Zombie AND werewolf. Together!” the Director allowed a hint of petulance into his voice.

“So, we need both on set,” Doc offered, hoping they were nearing the end of this tunnel of miscommunication.

            “No. No. NO! Zombie-werewolf. ZOM. BIE. WERE. WOLF.”

            “Uh…” Doc’s mouth hung open.

            “One monster. Get it ready, we go again after re-set. Food! One-hour, everyone!” the Director barked this last part to the assembled crew. He held out an arm for Margot and the two set off together for the crafts tent.

            Slipping into a robe, she asked, “So, why don’t I fall down when I die?”

            “It’s all explained in the next episode,” the Director, who was also a writer and executive producer for the show, explained.

            Remy tried one more time. “There’s an all-night diner up the road. We could all –” No one heard him.

            Doc was on his phone, sounding the red alert to the make-up trailer. “I’m sending Bert over. You’ll know what one looks like when you make one. Turn Bert into a werezombie pronto. I’m on my way.” He stuffed his phone back in his pocket and started to head off.

            “Werezombie?” asked Bessler, adjusting his glasses.

            “Better than zombwolf,” Doc said, not looking back.

            “I’ll set up a focus group,” Bessler said and walked off, staring at his phone and frantically poking it with both thumbs.

            “He didn’t even listen to my idea,” Remy muttered.

            Doc took pity. He stopped in his tracks. “You don’t have the leverage to have ideas, kiddo. Look, you have to earn your dues, and also learn to be a total a-hole. That’s how this business goes.” Doc acted like the father Remy should have had instead of the one he got.

            “Be grateful you have a speaking part,” said the stentorian voice Remy knew so well, an imperious echo of his own, coming from an older man sitting in a canvas chair. Remick Redfield, Hollywood’s top-grossing star for three straight years, two decades back, and star of ‘Duel for a Contessa’ and ‘Bedford’s Challenge’ stood up and walked over from the sidelines. He was not in this scene, wasn’t even on the call sheet for the night’s shoot. Even so, the owner of ‘Hollywood’s Sexiest Face’ (only a dozen years ago) made it a point to be on set whenever his son performed in the role they shared, Remick in most scenes, Remy in a scant few flashbacks. “This isn’t high school drama club. I can see you stopping to think about your next line. I’m amazed Margot didn’t break down laughing.”

            “The Director didn’t cut the scene,” Remy said, his own voice a tonal match for his father’s but lacking the authoritative, pee-inducing quality.

            “Haris knows how to cut out a bad performance in the editing booth. We’ve discussed looping in my voice in places. Possibly even the whole thing. That would mean you slip even lower in the closing credits.” Remick scowled.

            Doc shuffled his feet nervously in the powdery white lakeside sand. He wanted to leave, but Remick held him in place with a look, such was the man’s star power.

            “But –”

            “But, what? Remy, you aren’t a kid anymore. You’re damn near thirty. You can’t half-ass your way through this role the way you did college, or guitar lessons, or singing lessons, or…”

             “I finished all of those things,” Remy insisted, suddenly feeling small inside his shoes.

             “And I paid for them.” An old blade, it never dulled. Remick said, “Look, I know this is a stretch for you, son. You might be more comfortable going back to stunt work. I can talk to Haris. There’s no real reason to keep popping back into flashback every episode. We can wrap up this minor story line.” It was the only story line where Remy got to show his face, aside from the time he played Randolph’s younger reflection in a mirror. “You can go back to stunt doubling for me.”

             “And taking all the risks and the hits for you.” He’d been doing it for months now and still hadn’t got used to it. It was a bizarre feeling, dressing up like his father plus adding like a million years’ worth of old-age make-up so he could get into fistfights with monsters. He preferred the newly created flashback scenes where he played the lead character at a younger age. Remy enjoyed showing his real face and speaking actual dialogue. He had paid his dues and was ready to claim the limelight, if his father would let him.

            Doc valiantly tried to diffuse the tension. “Hey, I hear the suits in the front office are really pleased with the response on the first three episodes.”

            “Exactly,” Remick said, nodding a thank you to Doc. He told his son: “It’s why we all have to take this job seriously, son. Doc tells me he has a way to make it easier for you.”

            “Huh?” Doc said. “Oh, yes. It’s something new I’ve been working on, with some input from your father.”

            “What is?”

            “It’s a new make-up process. I have it nearly ready. It will mean we can apply the make-up once.”

            “You only apply the make-up once anyway. What’s the diff?”

            “No, you’ll see,” said Doc, grinning. “Once this stuff goes on, it stays on.”

            “Let Doc get back to his crew. You should get something to eat while you can.” With that, court was dismissed.

            Remy found himself walking to the crafts tent and accepting the latest serving of prime rib (mostly fat) on a Styrofoam tray. He sat down with the extras, who barely acknowledged him, and ate joylessly. Was Doc saying that he had to look like his father on set and off?


             Of course, that’s what it means. Remy is our main guy here, and he’s about to get royally screwed. Wait, I shouldn’t foreshadow. Whatever.

             You’re probably wondering why I didn’t tell you this last bit was part of a TV series that’s in production. Because that would cheat you out of the mind-fuckery you pay good money for. Besides, it’s fun. For me.

             Anyway, Remy is wondering what this permanent make-up deal will do to his already lackluster life. If he’s always playing his father, when does he get time to be Remy Redfield? As you’ve seen, he has daddy issues. So do you, by the way. A person spends twenty years acquiring parental issues and sixty years trying to work through them. In Remy’s case, it’s understandable, since his father is famous.

            Remy tried his hand at other jobs but having a famous face when you’re not actually famous is a recipe for failure in Hollywood. On a lark, he became an extra. Fourteen-hour days, hot meals, low pay. This worked well enough for a time. He was able to work as much as he wanted and crash with friends when he had cash to share. Along the way, he started doing stunts. Atlanta laughs off unions and most safety rules unless someone’s watching. Remy was willing to do what he shouldn’t and lucky enough to survive. To his credit, he learned his job well, avoiding major injuries.

            Eventually, Remy became his own father’s stunt double. That brought him back to his lifelong identity crisis. At twenty-eight, people looked at Remy and saw his father, Remick Redfield, one time king of the game and was ready to grab the crown again thanks to a new streaming series titled Broodwyk: Dead of Night.

             The production means big money for Atlanta, and it attracts all sorts of attention. In fact, it’s now the focus of a murder investigation.


Chapter 3 – The Victim(s)

            The siren and lights blustered them through a stop sign, causing other drivers to slam on the brakes. At the wheel, Atlanta PD Detective Sgt. T.C. Bedeau cursed. He was chasing a corpse around DeKalb County. He barked into the phone mounted on the dash. “I know what it looks like. I just spent two hours photographing every flake of its ash-colored skin.” The woman on the other end of the call tried to make sense, but it was hopeless. “Yes, I know it’s weird.”

            Sgt. G.M. Chafee grinned at his partner’s growing frustration. “It is, though. Weird.” Chafee wasn’t going to let anything get his blood pressure up. He’d promised Zoe and the girls, Geena and Aja, he wouldn’t let the job give him another heart attack. And since he wasn’t likely to lose weight, that meant taking it easy and accepting whatever came their way.

            Bedeau, who had no one to make promises to, growled into the phone, “That’s why I sent the thing to the GBI Crime Lab. What I don’t know is why it got up and walked over to the CDC.” He caught himself. His department-ordered counseling had taught him to monitor his tone, and he could hear his voice taking on timbre others found threatening. He took a deep breath, pictured sunset at the beach on St. Martin’s, and rolled his eyes at the buzzing voice coming from the phone. “Yes, we’re turning onto Clifton now.”

            “Two minutes,” added Chafee, clicking off the siren. His tone remained mild, no matter what. During interrogations, suspects came to think of Chafee as a kindly uncle. Bedeau tried to play the bad cop, but he came off as a plain old asshole.

            “Tell Dr. Ortega we’ll be there in –” The voice on the other end spoke one word. “Biohazard?!” Sgts. Bedeau and Chafee looked at each other like rookies at their first murder scene.

            Twenty minutes later, the detectives were in a shiny new lab two floors below street level. The facility was “A Gift of the Goga Foundation” according to signs plastered everywhere. Somebody had dropped a bundle for a medical wing only a handful of people knew existed. Bedeau and Chafee were wearing green hooded moon suits jacked into an oxygen supply mounted in the wall, gawping down at the same grotesque cadaver they’d spent the morning examining in Room 412 of the Hotel Clermont. “Talk to me,” Sgt. Bedeau demanded.

            “I suppose you mean me,” said Dr. Raul Ortega, veteran epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention, though few used the full name). “I have friends at the crime lab. They were right to call me. I mean, we don’t get many mummies.”

            “Even fewer famous ones, I’ll bet,” Chafee added. 

            With more salt than pepper on top, Dr. Ortega had seen a few things, but this was a new situation. “Clearly, each of us has some interesting pieces of this puzzle to contribute. Perhaps you might go first?”

            Bedeau began, “The maid ignored the ‘Do Not Clean’ sign on the room’s door and found this – the decedent on the bed, wrapped in bath towels. The room was being rented by Malvern Wight. The hotel staff remembers seeing him, but no visitors.”

            Chafee chimed in, “T.C.’s girlfriend–” He meant the aging stripper, Nyxi Noir. Bedeau was an occasional customer, while Noir was a local celebrity. “–and the bartender both say Mr. Wight came into the bar alone last evening and left an hour or so later.”

            Dr. Ortega called up some information on his computer. Bedeau looked over his shoulder. Was that Facebook? he wondered. “This appears to be the famous Malvern Wight, or what’s left of him. Probably. The internet says he should be six-one, but this individual has lost several inches.”

            “Wouldn’t be the first time a celeb lied about his height,” Chafee suggested.

            "The body weight suggests a loss of both fatty tissue and bone mass, and especially water. His teeth are cracking to bits, so no help there. Still, the blood type matches, if I can trust my tests, and he was in his room, surrounded by his personal belongings. There’s also a small scar under what’s left of his hair that lines up with Wight’s bio. He was a footballer. Tried out for Manchester United.”

            “Fascinating. So, it’s him. It’s Malvern Wight. We have a dead movie star.” Bedeau felt his stomach knot up all over again.

            “In this case, I’d like to get a family member to identify him, but that’s going to take some time. I’m going to do the viewing remotely,” said Dr. Ortega.

            “His own mother wouldn’t recognize him,” Chafee said.

            “Procedures,” Dr. Ortega said. “Until then, I can only sign a provisional certificate.”

            Bedeau was losing patience. “We’ll take it, but so far you haven’t told us anything we didn’t know two hours ago. Like, what killed him?”

            “No idea.”


            The scientist led them over to another part of the room. Moving was clumsy, connected to oxygen lines. Stepping up to a bench, Dr. Ortega opened a deep drawer and took out a clear box about three feet long and one foot deep and one wide. Yellow biohazard stickers adorned the top and sides. It was too small to be a coffin, yet it was, judging by its contents of a few pounds of white-flecked cinders.

            “Cremains?” Bedeau asked.

            “Not unless someone taught this woman to cremate herself right here in this lab. She was in pretty bad shape when we got her four months ago. We found this individual on Auburn Avenue under the interstate, in roughly the same condition as the man on the table here. Homeless person, most likely. It’s a favorite spot for transients, protected from the weather, within sight of the King Center. Police don’t usually bother—”

            “Doctor?” Chafee prompted.

            Dr. Ortega looked the two detectives in the eyes, through their faceplates. “This woman was like no subject I’ve seen in my practice or even read about in the journals. She had an excess of mass, all misshapen and haphazard, like someone stuffed her body full of extra calcium, fat, tissue, muscle, you name it. Within hours, that body began to break down, like you’re seeing with Mr. Wight. Seventy-two hours later, she was gritty dust. Ninety percent of her mass floated off like dandelion fronds on a July breeze. We checked the filters but found nothing. These few pounds of soot and bone meal are all we could hold onto. Had to vacuum seal them. She’s dust, like he’s about to be.” Dr. Ortega motioned with his head toward the life-size apple doll on the table. “The thing is… I cannot begin to tell you how this happened. That is why I called you here.”

            “Are you saying there’s a biohazard?” Bedeau asked. “Are we at risk? A lot of people came into contact with this thing.”

            “No, I don’t think so. Every test on subject number one suggests the remains are inert. In fact, they’re more dead than most corpses, which teem with bacteria and other forms of life. These two are essentially ash heaps. Nothing more.”

            “That’s some relief,” Chafee said then immediately regretted it.

            Dr. Ortega was shaking his head.

            Bedeau took the cue. “These things are not the danger. Whatever did this to them is.”

            “Subject one had no history. No identity. The department put a small task force on it, but they learned nothing about her activities prior to death. You must do better, detectives. Mr. Wight’s movements will have been observed. We must learn what he came into contact with over the past several days. Officers did not recover his phone; that might have helped. Toxins, radiation, or biologics. You have to find out what or who did this to two people. Please appreciate the secrecy we’ve clamped down on this matter. You cannot let the media find out or we’ll have a panic.”

            Bedeau’s gut wanted to purge. The death of Malvern Wight would leak no matter what. It would be all over the internet in a flash, fueling podcasts and conspiracy networks. Even as this sunk in, Bedeau played back the doctor’s words. “Who did this? You’re saying this may not be natural or accidental, that someone murdered these people? There’s someone who can do such a thing?” Bedeau asked, realizing how odd it sounded coming from a homicide investigator.

            “That’s what you need to learn, detectives.” Dr. Ortega replaced the box in its drawer as if it were delicate, though it was clearly beyond pain. “Quickly.”


            The detectives decide to focus on Malvern’s professional life, which happens to intersect with Remy’s. Bedeau and Chafee follow a series of smallish yellow signs with black numbers and letters printed right wise and also upside down to the latest production set for Broodwyk: Dead of Night, at Rhodes Hall, a smallish castle on Peachtree Street that once belonged to a local furniture king.

            The detectives discuss the matter at hand, unless that gets boring, in which case I’ll order it cut out of the story. They’re only supporting characters – I mean people, supporting people. Don’t worry about it. Storytelling works so much better when you don’t ask questions.

            Let’s go to a birthday party in a haunted house:


Chapter 4 – Surprise Party

             In the worst kept secret since the pyro technician’s affair with Margot’s hair stylist, Remick’s surprise birthday party burst into life in the castle’s great room. They set it up at the foot of the sensuously curved staircase, where a tragic lady in white descended weeping in a misty interphase of life and other. Disrespectful corporeal beings walked through the ethereal presence, momentarily ruining the illusion so carefully arranged by the gang in practical effects. No one complained, as all were amply-libated.

            Cast and crew cheered as Remy Redfield, who was twenty-eight and not sixty, took a deep breath and blew out the blazing 60 on the table-sized sheet cake craft services had decorated with tombstones and inscribed with his father’s name. So far, all was going according to plan.

            They were cheering for his father, Remick, but aiming their fawning at Remy, who felt uncomfortable with the cake, the party, and this too solid flesh reflected in the baroque mirror on the far wall. Doc Dalton’s handiwork stared back at Remy in uncanny silence.

             As promised, Remy had not felt a thing. Overnight, he had reported to the make-up trailer and sat down in the chair naked. Doc reached under a counter and pulled out a two-gallon cobalt-shaded bottle. He removed the stopper and used a basting brush to, essentially, paint his subject, slathering him follicles to footprints with a slimy membrane. The stuff gave off a whiff of fresh loam, as if he’d found the jar while digging in the garden. Remy raised himself above the seat to give Doc greater access. At first, he thought this wizard had missed a few spots, but then he felt the effects. The viscous coating squirmed over his epidermis, spreading outwards, filling the gaps, seeping under, into, and up. Remy enjoyed the pleasantly sensuous experience. “Like being bathed by butterfly wings, although one or two of the little fellas packs a sting. I feel tiny electrical shocks.”

            Doc’s eyes – were they always that blue? – gleamed brightly as he explained while carefully and respectfully running his fingers over Remy’s body. Remy trusted his touch; Doc had been with his father for as long as he could remember. “You’re fine. This is living make-up. My own recipe. Few can match it. Very few. It will last until I take it off. It’s a variation on an old technique, one that’s been in my family forever — I mean generations. Your father donated the necessary input. I’m sure he’ll be as interested as the rest of us to see the finished product.” Doc had earned his nickname for the seemingly impossible cosmetic operations he performed. Surgically-complex in nature, they yielded Oscar-worthy results.

             It was two in the morning at that point. He had not slept in twenty-two hours, so it felt good to trust Doc and let himself slip away.

             At seven-thirty, the older man roused him. “You’re ready. You’re due on set in an hour and I still have to do your actual make-up.” This made no sense to Remy, who was focused on the other information Doc had dumped on him.

             “Crap! Wait. What? I’m not on the call sheet for today. This was supposed to be a test and I haven’t even looked at a—” He had not looked at a script, but now he could not help but look in the brightly lit mirror. The eyes were his. A finger gingerly touched the new bags under his eyes, then ran down an unaccustomed slackness along his jawline. The finger moved as he felt it move. Remy Redfield was there, somewhere. This, however, was not Remy Redfield looking back. It was, perhaps what he might look like after three decades of hard living. The face in the mirror was Father. Remick Redfield, in the flesh. Remy was wearing his father’s flesh.

            And it didn’t stop at his neckline, either. Remy surveyed his arms. His father was a powerful man, still tone and lean, yet this flesh was covered in age spots and telltale creases and striations. The backs of his hands were too dry, the major vessels too pronounced. Remy took a deep breath and looked under the towel draping his lap. It looked… okay… except for the gray hair!!!

            “What the hell have you done, Doc?” he cried. Fortunately, they were alone in Doc’s private salon within the sizeable make-up trailer.

            “Shh. It will be fine. You only have two lines. This is one of the Director’s arty-farty-thinky-feely scenes. Sit still and let Goran do his work,” Doc said, referring to Goran Dedic the cinematographer. Indeed, Broodwyk: Dead of Night was the envy of the acting world. Most episodes contained less dialogue than a one-act sketch, relying heavily on mood acting and action set pieces. “I have touch-up to do.”

            Doc worked feverishly to transform a now sixty-year-old actor into a forty-something leading man. Doc’s skill battled his art. He then rushed Remy, who still looked older than he should, out of the room in boxer shorts and sandals. The partial nudity bothered Remy less than the idea that he was performing a role he had never rehearsed. He was a competent observer and actor; all of his teachers had said so. He knew how to embody a role. This, however, was a matter of becoming a man he had known, off and on – mostly off – all of his life but never understood. Remy shivered, felt his new old flesh go to goose pimples. He held up his head and walked. No one in the rest of the crowded trailer, actors or make-up staff, raised an eyebrow.

            The two men walked down some steps, across the cool pavement in the parking lot behind the red-bricked gothic spires of the Peachtree Christian Church, which along with Rhodes Hall served as the latest haunted locale. He found his way to the wardrobe trailer. There, Remy donned Remick’s double-breasted blue pinstripe worsted, circa 1940. Remy had shed five years to play Randolph in 1926. For Randolph to fight bloodsuckers, shades, necromancers, Nazis, and other grotesques on the eve of WWII, his father shaved two decades, thanks to Doc, time merchant extraordinaire.

            The pre-dawn shoot went beautifully. Remy could feel himself truly inhabiting the mature version of Randolph. He quickly learned he had to restrain his facial muscles, do less to convey the desired emotions. His youthful face had been a blank slate, all but inscrutable to the camera’s gaze. Now, with this revised instrument, each subtle pluck of a mimetic muscle touched off an outrageous cascade of expression. An eyelid could smolder with passion; a nostril could play Lear.

            Remy acted opposite the villainous Dragan, with Margot’s new alter ego hovering, suspended on a wire at the edge of the murky shot. As promised, there was very little dialogue. Doc refused to explain why Remick would allow Remy to take this scene. A test was one thing, but it was hard to believe the old man’s ego would permit Remy to pull off a public impersonation. He kept expecting Remick to burst out of his trailer screaming.

             It did not happen. In fact, for the first time Remy could remember, his father failed to appear on set when his son was working, perhaps to avoid a distraction akin to Clark Kent and Superman showing up in the same place.

             With a few minutes before the ‘big event’ at the castle, Remy walked over to his father’s trailer. It was unlocked and he stepped inside. There were photographs everywhere. Remick Redfield, film icon, smirked back from different eras in his life, always standing next to important figures and beautiful women in nightspots around the world, Rio, Monte Carlo, Kowloon. These shared the limited wall space of the trailer with miniature framed film posters of his favorite projects: kissing a busty starlet in ‘Lie to Me, Darling,’ holding a smoking .44 Magnum in ‘Mr. Gunn in Danger,’ and ‘The Finishers.’

            Remy’s breath caught in his throat. This last photo was the only image in sight that included his mother. My God, how beautiful she had been. Cate Redfield. Every man’s living, breathing blonde-haired, green-eyed fantasy up there on the screen. A half-grin animated her face with a mischief one could get lost in if one were lucky enough. She was trim, sharp-eyed, confident in her stance, and every bit as fierce as her co-star. She could cuss and fight and drink with the boys and love like no woman alive. The movie had made a mint, but the pregnancy that began mid-shoot changed everything. Her career should have resumed after a brief pause, but instead it stopped cold with his birth. It was never good after that. Remy understood why his parents divorced, but he had never had the courage to ask his mother why she had given up acting. Then she was gone, felled by the bottle and a broken heart. Remy knew who to blame.

            He came back to the present. The trailer appeared to be empty. Remy checked the bathroom and then the bedroom, a luxury most of the other actors were not afforded. It was neat. The bed was made. The only thing out of place was a beach towel on the floor next to the bed. It appeared to be wrapped around something small. Remy bent down to take a look.

            The trailer door opened behind him. It was Doc. “The party is starting. You have a speech to give.” Doc held up a sheet of paper. “It’s short and the main news is in the first line, so go ahead and ad lib. A few self-deprecating jokes by the birthday boy will do it. Um, your father, but now that’s you. You know what I mean.” Oddly, he did follow the logic.

            In Doc’s other hand, he held an envelope. As Remy stepped away from the bundle on the floor and towards Doc, he could see that the envelope had his name on it, in his father’s handwriting. He reached out, saying, “That’s for me.”

            “And it’s for later. Come on,” Doc said, leading them out of the trailer.

            It was now four o’clock. The second unit had work to do back inside the church. The main crew and cast were gathered up the hill and over one street at Rhodes Hall, a Romanesque Revival wonder complete with crenellated parapets and granite turrets quarried from nearby Stone Mountain, an anachronism on a tiny plot of land surrounded by towering banks, chic bistros, and non-stop traffic.

            Remy glad-handed his co-workers as he had seen his father do many times. He probably knew their names better than his father had. When things were in full swing, he took his place over the sheet cake, flanked by the Director, the studio suit, Bessler, and Margot, wearing her revenant’s regalia with plunging neckline. Doc stood off to one side.

            “I have a question,” Margot asked the Director, playfully scratching at his chest with one black-lacquered nail while also arching back slightly to avoid the full onslaught of his ashtray and coffee musk. “If I was killed by a werewolf or a zombie or whatever, how come I’m a vampire now?”

            “Not vampire.” Carefully enunciating as he read from his tablet, he answered, “Carnal eidolon.”


            “Sex ghost. On-line novel is to explain everything. Is canon,” the Director answered.

            Remy cleared his throat to silence the two. They did in fact go quiet. He had to admit he was liking this a little. “Ladies and gentlemen, your attention. I have an important announcement to make. I will not be delivering this birthday speech.” He tore up the flimsy paper Doc had given him to the cheers of those gathered. “I offer only my heartfelt thanks.” He held his hands over his heart. It worked. They were totally buying his show of camaraderie. He could feel confidence boosting his voice to its full power. “There’s more. I have an announcement you will enjoy. As you know, only three episodes of Broodwyk: Dead of Night have dropped so far. While the studio does not release ratings, I can tell you those in the front office are happy.” More cheering. He hit them with the good stuff: “We are renewed for another season! I want to thank all of you, and especially my lovely co-star, Mar—”

            “Now, I am afraid that I have an announcement as well,” said Atlanta PD Detective Sgt. T.C. Bedeau, stepping through the front entrance with his partner, Sgt. Chafee. He held out his badge and the crowd hushed. Only the sad lady in white continued to move, looping back in a flicker to the top of the carved mahogany staircase. Sgt. Bedeau continued, “We were called to investigate a homicide at the Hotel Clermont. I’m afraid, it was a member of your cast.”

            Remy’s heart went cold. His father. What would his father be doing at the Hotel Clermont? It was a place for…

            “That’s awful, sergeant. Shocking.”

            The actor who was speaking stepped in from the side parlor, a young wardrobe assistant on one arm, a plastic flute of Spumante in his other hand, on which he wore a ring mounted with a stone as plump and red as a cranberry. The script supervisor had scolded him, saying it was too feminine and binge-crazy fans would notice its sudden appearance halfway through the season, but the actor retorted it was a gift from “The Commodore,” and the ring was now part of his character. With his hair slicked back and wearing a black velour smoking jacket with crimson filigrees, the actor brought to life the evil Dragan the Heartless. No one seemed particularly surprised to see a vampire join the daylight gathering, except for the two detectives, who froze, mouths hanging open.

            “Who died?” inquired the actor, Malvern Wight.




How did Malvern Wight come back from the dead? It's all part of the plan, as Skinners infiltrate the set of Broodwyk: Dead of Night to launch their ambitious plot…


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