Saturday, 7 June 2008

Fictional Freakouts: The Phantom Brigade Issue #2

This is part 2 of my ongoing blog-based SF serial you can:

"If you look to your left," said the studio Tour Guide with a toothy grin, "you'll see Continental Studios famous 'New York' street."

"This is so cool," said Emma Grail's neighbor, a comic book illustrator named Jake Carson, his eyes wide with excitement. "That's where Shadowknight had the big fight with the Psycho Six in Shadowknight Returns." That movie had inspired Jake to become an artist, and now he was chief illustrator on the Shadowknight comic book series. Seeing that street was the main reason he accepted Emma's invitation to go on the studio tour. The fact that Jake had been completely oblivious to Emma's recent fame was the second reason Emma invited him. The main reason she invited him, the main reason she even went on this tour, was that Emma Grail felt that she was going crazy.

Ever since walking away from that plane's non-crash, Emma felt some how out of synch with the normal world. And it went beyond becoming part of Hollywood after a no-budget horror film she starred in called Somebody's Out There, ended up grossing over $150 million. Things just felt weird.

And they started feeling weirder after what everyone said was an accident.

After a late dinner meeting with some producers her agent was driving her home when their car was hit by a drunk driver. They suffered a few bumps and bruises, but their car had been totaled, and everyone told them that the other driver had been killed.

That's what everyone said, and that's what she remembered, at least up until the impact, and then waking up in hospital the next day, but it didn't feel right. It felt fake, it felt out of synch.

During the past week she also had the urge to visit Continental City, the massive central studio complex for Continental Pictures. She didn't really know why, just that she had to go there. There was something there she needed to know.

She didn't know what it was, but the feeling was strong enough to make her put her distinctive red hair under a floppy sun hat, and dress like a tourist, and take a tour of a studio she could easily visit for free.

"Hey," said Jake pointing excitedly, "there's the pool where Squidasaurus ate the football player."

Emma didn't hear this glorious revelation. Her eyes were fixed on a figure walking casually down the street, carrying a paper bag.

It was Thorn.

Suddenly it all came back to her. There was some... thing there, not a drunk driver, and he was there too. He pointed something at her and everything went dark...

"Miss," said the Tour Guide, "please stay with the group."

"Where are you going?" asked Jake. But Emma didn't hear either of them, she was focused on Thorn.

Emma grabbed the door, just before it shut, and carefully peeked inside. It was a plane white hallway, not unlike a thousand others in this studio complex alone, but unlike the others, this one didn't have any posters, or headshots on the walls, and it also sloped downward.

Emma went in. She could hear Thorn's footprints faintly echoing from around a corner.

She carefully stepped inside and started following the echoing footsteps. Knowing that this was completely crazy, but driven for some kind of answer.

The corridor kept going down, and down, turning corners to face another slope. Then it ended in a long straight hallway.

There was no one around, not even the echo of footsteps. An air vent buzzed, and a door creaked as it swayed back and forth.

Emma approached the door and looked in, it was empty, with a row of plastic seats in front of a large window. Emma stepped inside, now she could hear voices from the other side of the glass. She carefully peeked over and saw Thorn talking to a man in a white-suit and matching head-gear. The man was pulling off the head-gear and talking to Thorn. He was an old man, black, with a salting of gray at his temples.

"What do you have for me Doc?" asked Thorn.

"What do you have for me?" asked Doc.

Thorn held out the paper bag, Doc peeled off his rubber gloves and took the bag. "Damn, I'm starving," and started carefully laying out the contents of the bag onto a metal table.

Emma watched Thorn approach another table, and her heart stopped. Folded at one end of the table was a pink outfit. The same, unlikely pink outfit that... thing, was wearing.

Then Emma realized that the rest of the table held a roughly man-sized object wrapped in a sheet.

Thorn lifted up the sheet, revealing that hideous, misshapen head.

"Well, Doc?" asked Thorn, studying the strange face.

"It's the same species as the first one," answered Doc through a mouth full of breakfast burrito. "And like the first one..."

"Is this your theory again?"

"It's not a theory," said Doc. "It's basically mammalian in structure, and you know that nothing we've encountered yet has been so alien, that I can't make out rather obvious signs. Brain tissue and genitalia bear heavy scarring."

"So this one was lobotomized and castrated too?" said Thorn, mostly to himself.

"Probably the main reason that poor bastard was so mad," replied the Doc, taking a sip of coffee.

"Hmmm," said Thorn, replacing the sheet over the creature's face. Then he looked up at the window, up at Emma.

"Have you seen enough Miss Grail?"


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