Prompt #12: On Set – 501 Prompts
At a remote filming location, the celebrated movie director insists on increasingly real special effects.
In: 5000 Writing Prompts by Bryn Donovan
A flood of blood swept over her. It was still warm and stuck to her clothes, hair, and skin. The sensation overwhelmed her. She screamed at the top of her lungs.
“Cut!” shouted the director over the set.
“What is this stuff?” The actress, Jenny, stood alone in the middle of the set. The crew who had dumped the bucket of liquid over her had disappeared behind the scenes. Jenny didn’t try to hide her disgust. She looked like she went through hell and back again.
An assistant brought her a towel, lips pressed tight together. She started to clean her face, but the crimson color kept sticking to her face. Jenny looked at him, eyes wide in shock.
“Don’t tell me — don’t you fucking tell me…!” She was loud enough that everyone on set could hear her.
The assistant mumbled some excuse and backed off, and the director jumped in to smoothen the waves.
“A little blood has never hurt anyone. It’s just pig’s blood, don’t worry about it.” His clarification came fast, but Jenny didn’t care to hear it. She snorted in anger and stormed off set without saying another word.
The director opened his arms as if to signal his innocence. “Come on, Jenny. The scene is perfect. It will be your big break. You’ll see.”
They were in their shared hotel room. It looked like someone had managed to encapsulate the spirit of a past decade, but it had everything a guest could ask for. Just the TV didn’t work because it had no connection.
“I won’t stay here any longer.”
Leaving the steamy bathroom after a long shower, Jenny wore a big towel to cover her body, a smaller one wrapped around her head.
“But think about the project,” said Becky. She sat on her bed, hands under her thighs.
“Fuck the project. That bitch poured real blood over me. It was still warm, Becky! God knows where he got it.”
“Everyone knows he’s difficult to work with. But in the end, the results speak for themselves.”
“Yeah. Fuck him. I’m done.”
“Yes, I’m done. His constant bickering and degrading behavior towards us actors are just toxic. The way he talks, the nasty looks… I haven’t had a good night of sleep in weeks because he keeps putting us on edge.”
“But it might be our big break. What we’ve dreamed of for so long.”
“You know how long it took me to get all that blood out of my hair? One hour. One fucking hour, Becky. And I still don’t feel clean.”
Jenny was determined to cut herself out of the project. She put on some clothes and threw the rest of her belongings in the open suitcase on her bed.
“How do you want to get back into town? The road is blocked since the last storm. There won’t be coming anyone up here for at least another week. We’re stuck.”
“I’ll find a way.”
For a moment, Becky fell silent. She knew too well that there was no persuing when Jenny made up her mind. She clenched her fist and waited for the all-important question. The one that always came up in situations like that.
“You’re with me on that, right?”
Jenny stopped in her tracks to look at Becky, half surprised, half annoyed. She repeated Becky’s answer, her voice trailing off into a high pitch.
“No, Jenny, I’m not with you. You know how hard I work for both of us? To not just get an opportunity but to actually land a job? No, you don’t because your world only revolves around you. If you don’t like one tiny thing, you throw away everything. But this time, I won’t follow you.”
For a moment, Jenny didn’t know how to react. It was the first time that Becky had talked back to her like that in all those years.
“Fine,” she grunted and stomped out of the room.
The big conference room hosted all the filming equipment, backdrops, and props they needed for the day. A refreshment table stood off in one corner. The atmosphere between the actors and the crew grew tense because they were scheduled to film one of Jenny’s character’s central scenes. But she didn’t show up.
Everyone’s attention jumped to the director when he wandered into the room, late as always, with a big satisfied grin on his face.
“I know we are behind schedule, and things have been difficult lately. As a result, Jenny left us last night. But I had a dream. A vision. How to make this film the greatest of its kind. There have been changes to all of your scripts. We start off with a fresh take. I think your genuine reactions are the best we can get. Everyone grab a bite, drink a coffee, and be ready in 10.” Then he left the room again.
Everyone gathered around the table. Becky filled steaming hot coffee in a mug, she just held onto for a while. The crew and the actors around her started idle chitchat.
“You know what that’s all about?”
“Isn’t it strange that Jenny would leave just like that?” said Cole, her co-star.
“I know, right? Doesn’t seem like her.”
“I know that we have to pick up the pieces. But I swear if that man would just stick to the plans we made, our life would be so much easier.”
“I hear you.”
“Jenny’s stuff is still in our room.”, said Becky, and the group just looked at her. “Why would she leave that behind? And how would she get off the mountain anyway?”
The silence stretched unbearable between them.
“What’s that doing out here?” Allie pointed at the casket prop that Becky stood next to. She tried to move it, but it was heavier than it should be. Confused, she opened it. Stopped. Allie raised her hand to her mouth in disbelief. “Oh my god…”
Becky turned around and screamed. She dropped her mug to the ground, splattering coffee all over the floor.
Inside the box lay the mangled remains of Jenny. Her dead eyes wide open, she stared at them as if she tried to warn them.
Cole ran off to get help but came back almost immediately.
“We’re locked in.”
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