Sharp slivers of breaking glass pierced my soft skin. The gleaming shards scattered across the studio floor as my body landed in a heap.
“Cut!” I heard the director yell and knew I had messed up the shot. That was not the voice of a happy man! I sighed and got off the floor, dusting off the fake glass pieces from my shirt and skin.
“No…no…no! What’s going on with you, Di? You’re Diana Zinta! The star of Paranormal, the most popular show on TV, ever. Your fans expect a top-notch performance from you, my dear. That jump looked like a half-assed performance. That’s not you!” Kevin Starr, the writer and director of my show, mouthed off, his frustration evident by the crease of his brow.
“I’m sorry, Kev! I don’t know what happened. For a moment, it felt like I was falling through a mirror or something. I must have confused this scene with something else.” I shook my head to clear the fuzziness I had been feeling since the fall.
“Falling through a mirror? We don’t have such a scene.” Kevin looked confused.
“Nevermind! I must’ve been dreaming,” I said and laughed, trying to hide the awkwardness. “Take it from the top again?”
Kevin clapped his hands, drawing the attention of the crew. “Alright, folks, let’s replace the props and shoot this scene one more time. Di, you ready?” I shot my hand up with a thumbs-up sign and positioned myself behind a new fake glass window.
The clapper loader placed himself in front of the camera. “Paranormal! Season ten! Episode eight! Scene five! Take three!” he shouted before snapping the clapperboard shut. That was my cue to run toward the window and jump through it. This time I made a perfect jump, landing on one knee with my hands down. I looked into the camera, wiped the fake blood off my lips, and stood up, grinning.
“And…cut!” came the director’s voice, and I knew we were good to move onto the next scene. My makeup artist and assistant rushed along as I walked into my van to prep for the next scene. The supervisor handed me the script for the next part we were to shoot before calling it a day. It was a hunting scene. I played the main character, Samantha Weasley, a hunter whose job was to hunt and kill paranormal creatures. In this particular scene, I was tracking a wendigo that was terrorizing the local woods of a popular neighborhood. I read the script repeatedly, memorizing the shot and the dialogues as my makeup artist worked on fixing my face and hair. My assistant, Hayley, stood leaning on the table, reading and responding to the social media comments and reviews from last week’s episode. Apparently, the audience had loved my performance in the scene where I had exorcised a demon from my best friend’s body.
People these days believed in and seemed to love the crazy! As if demons were even real! Pfft!
“The Daily Times sent an email requesting an interview, and TZP sent a message asking for your comment on the recent shooting in the Midwest. How do you want me to respond?” Hayley asked, breaking me out of my reverie.
“Say yes to the interview, but let them know I can’t spare more than an hour. And I need the questions at least a week prior. For the shootings, make it clear we stand with the BIPOC community and share their grief. Make sure you donate a good sum to the cause,” I replied. “Oh, while you’re at it, donate something to the wildlife preservation group as well,” I added as an afterthought.
Hayley raised her brow and looked at me, surprised. “Wildlife Preservation? That’s a new one! How come the sudden interest?”
I couldn’t explain the feeling. It felt like it was something I had been interested in for eons, like it was a part of my soul. It was stupid because I couldn’t remember the last time I was in the woods or a zoo if it was not for shooting. “I don’t know. Just feels right, you know?”
“I must tweet about all of this. Let your fans know. It’s perfect for the show’s TRP!”
“I’m not doing this for the show,” I said, rolling my eyes, but Hayley was already on her way out to find her laptop and get working on my PR activities. The script supervisor came back to inform me the shot was ready.
When I got out there, the crew was prepared and ready along the outskirts of the woods, where we were shooting the scene. I took my position behind a tree and waited for the signal.
“And…action!” Came the director’s voice right after the clapper loader. I held a silver blade in my hand, waiting for the character playing the wendigo to emerge from the opposite side. The wendigo moved swiftly past the trees, crossing in front of me, and I took off running behind it. As the wendigo gained speed over me, I threw the silver blade in its direction. The fake blade pierced into the wendigo’s costume, scratching between his shoulder blades. The actor screeched and fell over, keening in pain.
“Cut!” the director yelled. “What the hell, Di? You weren’t supposed to hit him this time. You’re supposed to miss!”
“I. Never. Miss!” I said each word slowly, gritting my teeth. My nostrils flared as I breathed in short gusts and tightened my fists into balls, ready for a fight.
“Whoa! Chill, my dear. We’re only asking you to follow the script. The director said, putting his hands up in mock defeat. “And for the record, you always miss. Remember the first three seasons?” he asked, laughing to diffuse the situation.
Reality came flooding back to me. I took a few steps back, stumbling as I tried to regain my composure. “I…I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. It felt like I was in a real battle or something.” I rubbed my face hard, wiping away beads of sweat that trickled down my temple. I called out an apology to the wendigo actor for causing him pain and paced up and down the set.
“Know what? It’s been a long day. Let’s call it done for now. We’ll pick this up again tomorrow. Why don’t you get some rest and come back fresh tomorrow? I need my star in top shape!” Kevin said. He did not wait for my response and clapped his hands, calling the crew’s attention. “Pack up! We’ll pick up from this scene tomorrow sharp at 8 AM.”
I did not resist. For some reason, my mind was in a fuss. I attributed it to the tiredness from days of non-stop work. I had been shooting continuously for the past six months without a break, and I could use some time off. I rushed to my vanity and changed into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I drove past the scenic wooded areas of the shooting location toward my mansion in the city. I felt an irresistible urge to roll down the windows to enjoy the wind and fragrance of the wild. The desire took me by surprise, as I usually hated driving with the windows down.
The sun was dipping into the horizon, giving way to the moon as I arrived at my manor. My butler, Bromley, rushed to the car to open the door for me. He reached into the vehicle to carry my bags inside. I walked straight into my bedroom, kicked off my shoes, and sprawled on my bed. What a day it has been! I wonder how I hit the wendigo on point when I knew I was supposed to miss it? The thought had been bothering me since it had happened.
I heard a soft knock on my door before it opened to reveal Bromley. “Madam, will you be dining in your room as usual?”
“No…no, Bromley. It’s a beautiful evening. Could you set up my dinner on the balcony within the hour? I will be there after a quick shower,” I said and got off the bed. As expected, Bromley had laid out my dinner, as instructed. The fragrance of freshly cooked shepherd’s pie wafted through the light breeze. I settled into the plush chair as Bromley poured me a glass of wine. Moonlight glinted off the silverware, grabbing my attention. I looked up to see a clear sky with a full moon. The view tugged at my heartstrings. I felt a strange pull towards it, almost as if I was falling in love with the moon!