Prompt: A story about a murderer who wanted to be an actor instead, but was terrible at acting.
In this, the fifth entry in Cut from the Script, we will have our most volatile actor to date. As stated in the dedication, this book’s goal is to act as the credits to a film containing only the darkest parts of life, like sitting through a screening, staring at a black square the entire time, yet still feeling dread and depression after leaving.
The names in this volume have to be delivered here because the actors in question never could finish their roles or bring a film to market. As we have seen in the first four entries, there are various reasons these people, seeking fame, have instead been shoved back into the shadows, erased from even the footnotes of the productions. Sometimes even the twisted shreds of the erasers that handled their names were burned with the rest of the evidence.
We’ve heard the tale of Taylor Brightroot, whose skin broke out in a psychosomatic manifestation of stage fright any time a costume touched her. You now know the plight of Malcolm Dernitt, whose wife insisted any romantic role for him would count as infidelity… and later insisted that acting itself made him a different person and thus made her guilty of infidelity.
This time is different. It is not the actor who suffered, nor the props. It was everyone else. We’ll start with the details of the film. It was the end of a three decade nostalgia cycle and sword-and-sandal epics had come back into fashion. Next on the chopping blockbuster was a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey, with a new perspective. This one, through a combination of digital and make-up effects, would star the various monsters of the tale, most notably the sea creature Scylla and the sympathetic lonely cyclops.
Nearly all of the budget had been allocated towards costuming, sets, and advertising. There was no need for a big name star, given their face would most likely be covered in prosthesis. The higher paid ones always whined during the ten hours in the make-up chair anyway. The director went with mostly-unknowns for the principal roles, and, in the worst mistake of his career and life, a totally-unknown for the cyclops by the name of Megan Fantasier.
The role was sex-swapped, with a man playing Scylla. The character design was brilliant, at least as told by the concept art; the cyclops would have long feminine hair, as soft as the wool of her sheep, and it would hang down in front of her eye most of the time. Most of the actual acting would be in the body language, the lips, and the jaw. During the climactic moments when she pulled apart her curtains of hair and revealed the computer-enhanced tear-filled emotion of the giant eye, the audience was supposed to be overcome by sympathy. It might have worked. Megan showed early promise in casting, seemingly able to make the lower half of her face and parts of her body blush at will.
This was simply because the disastrous recipe, of which Megan was the main ingredient, had not been completed yet. The fateful element was stage fright, which she did not suffer in front of just the director and the casting people. It was only in front of the entire production crew, in full make-up, on a gorgeous outdoor set, that she became unsure of herself.
At this point, conjecture enters the picture. I was hired to write this book thanks to my own dramatic flair and insight, I’ve never been cut from the credits of anything, so do not worry. I’m sure my sense of the stage will combine with the photos we’ve seen of the incident to form an accurate picture. You might think I’m exaggerating, but all actors exaggerate natural action anyway, so it should even out.
According to the photos, many scripts were dropped as if they had been held open. Most of them were turned or bent to the same page, so we have a good idea of the exact scene and the first take. Megan was positioned at the mouth of her cave, herding her sheep inside. Odysseus and a few of his men crawled underneath them. There was supposed to be a conversation between Megan and Odysseus. She would lament her loneliness to her sheep; the far-flung war hero would answer pretending to be one of them. Here is a snippet of that exchange, as I find it fits the situation beyond the pages of the script quite well.
Megan: Woe is me and baah is you, dear friends. Dear friends with hearts of grass who know not the discord of a monster’s soul. You are pet or meal, and both are better liked than I.
Odysseus: Baaaaah! Have you tried not eating those unfortunate enough to wash up on your island? Baaaaah!
Megan: Who said that? Does one of you finally have a voice? Have you scavenged one from the beaches? That is good. I’ve always wanted to have arguments. So what if I eat them? They should still be my friends.
Odysseus: What do they gain from that? Baaaah!
Megan: It’s not about what they gain. They look upon me and talk to me for my benefit. The island is the reason I have no friends. If it would just connect to the mainland I could march across all kingdoms, making friends, eating them, and remembering them fondly. It is cruel of them to sail their boats away and avoid my friendly gaze.
This is an early scene, before the cyclops gives up her murderous ways. It was also the scene where Megan picked up hers. We don’t know how many lines she read, but we believe the effects of her performance were immediate. Even with the hair hiding half her face, her performance was dreadful. I can imagine it now, her whole body blushing through the costume, her words slurry over the crooked teeth mouthpiece, and the director sinking into his chair when he realized the error.
Megan Fantasier is in our book of strange dramatic tales because she was the worst actor to ever exist. When her stage fright kicked in, at the dawn of her actual chance at a career, the result was an attempt so discordant with both identity and reality that it interrupted the normal thought patterns and biorhythms of the human body. By the third line, perhaps when she had to ask for it to be read back to her, everyone on set had fallen over dead.
One can only imagine what the woman thought in those following moments. She probably thought she was next or that she was the last one left in the world, but her performance only affected those both in earshot and line of sight. We know this because of the slightly varying times of death along her trail. She wandered away from the mouth of the cave, killing yet more production staff as they stepped out of their trailers.
I doubt she wanted to do it. The later deaths of craft services crowd were likely the result of her still being ‘in character’. It was just her luck that that narrow-minded wide-eyed character was simpy too unbelievable to behold.
There are other tales of her. She wandered onto sets of other productions and tried to show her improvement. Few ever survived. Now she has moved on, and current sources indicate she is a contract killer, using her anti-talent as a way to dispose of people without leaving any evidence. Except, occasionally, she does: usually a little pamphlet of a script for a high school production, something she remembers being able to handle before she had to accept her lack of skill.
And thus is her story and why the name Megan Fantasier will never roll in the credits.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by sup3r__sp33dy during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!