Monday, March 26, 2012
REEL MONSTER (the novel) - pages 31-40
For the preceding ten pages, see the previous blog post...
"This is gonna be so awesome!"
Brian burst out of the dark secret passageway and darted towards the left corner of the video store, where the big-screen TV was. He was carrying both the magic VCR and the dusty journal in his arms.
“Are you sure you want it be Johnny?!” yelled Mikey, who emerged from the passageway with a little less enthusiasm.
“Who else would we do?!”
“I don’t know...it might be kinda cool being friends with Humphrey Bogart or someone like that!”
“Yeah, if we were lookin' to get with my grandmother!”
Brian dropped to his knees behind the giant television and started unhooking the coaxial cable that was hooked to the back of the normal VCR. Then he started rewiring it so that the TV was connected to the Magic VCR.
"Make sure nobody comes in, Mikey! Secure the store!"
Mikey jogged to the front of the store and peered out the windows to the outside parking lot, just to be sure there weren’t any last-minute customers outside. The coast seemed to be clear so he secured all the door’s locks into place, flipped the ‘open’ sign over so that it said ‘closed’, and then shut all the Venetian blinds.
“What about somebody like Marilyn Monroe?!” he shouted as he finished securing the store. "Maybe she'd let us slow-dance with her!"
“Still too old, Mikey! The sad reality is that most people in our school don’t care about Marilyn Monroe. Heck, some people probably don’t know who she even is. The more modern we go, the more popular we’re gonna be. Johnny Cruise is a sure thing!”
Mikey was convinced everything was secure up front, so he ran to the back of the store and joined Brian at the TV.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he said, trying to catch his breath.
“Think about it, Mikey. Johnny Cruise is gonna be a total chick magnet. You’re gonna get Lindsay Myers and I’m gonna get laid. This is gonna be great.”
“Yeah, if it works.”
“How do you know?”
“Well, I don’t know. Maybe it will.”
Brian finished hooking the Magic VCR up to the television, crawled out in front of the TV screen and rubbed his hands together with excitement.
“There, it’s all set.”
Brian flipped through Craven’s journal and referred to some directions.
“Now we...um...say the magic word.”
“What’s the magic word?”
Brian looked up from the journal.
“Anchovies!” he yelled, loud and clear into the store.
"Yeah, anchovies!" Brian shouted even louder.
Brian buried his head back into the journal and looked for the next step.
“And then...we just insert our movie of choice. Go grab one, Mikey.”
Mikey ran over to the ‘Johnny Cruise’ wall and was overwhelmed by all the choices that presented themselves to him.
“But which one? There’s so many to choose from.”
“I don’t know!”
Mikey ran his fingers along all the videos.
“No, let’s do EDWARD TERRESTRIAL.”
“No, not that one.”
“Then what, Mikey?”
“How about WEEKEND AT MISS DAISY’S?”
WEEKEND AT MISS DAISY’S was one of Johnny Cruise’s stranger films. Johnny plays a Howard Hughes-esque pilot who has to parachute out of his plane when he experiences engine problems. He ends up landing in the middle of a forest but he’s taken in by a lonely hermit named Miss Daisy who lives in a log cabin. Miss Daisy is a little strange but she and Johnny eventually fall in love and Johnny is taught that it’s the small things in life that count the most.
“No, not WEEKEND AT MISS DAISY’S!” shouted Brian.
“How about The WOLF WHISPERER?”
The WOLF WHISPERER was another one of Johnny's odder movies. Johnny plays a young man who was abandoned by his parents and left for dead in the wilderness when he was only a baby. A pack of wolves end up raising him and then when Johnny grows old enough he moves to the big city and helps a private detective track down a serial killer who is part man/part werewolf.
“No, that one's too cheesy.”
“How about we just do SPEED HARD 2?”
“All right, deal!”
Mikey grabbed a copy of SPEED HARD 2 from off the shelf and then ran back to Brian and the VCR. Brian, of course, tried to snatch the darn movie right out of Mikey’s hands, but Mikey was hesitant.
“Brian, I’m having second thoughts.”
“Come on, Brian! Lindsay’s in her nighty right now!”
“All right, fine.”
He reluctantly gave Brian the tape. Brian snatched it away from him like some wild animal, tore open the tape’s plastic case and took out the VHS. Then, he popped open the deck of the magic VCR, slid the VHS into it and pushed the deck back into the VCR.
Suddenly, the machine began to glow a strange, fluorescent green color and made a weird noise, like a cross between a turkey gobbling and Mickey mouse chuckling. But, after a brief moment, the VCR returned to normal and nothing more happened. Brian leaned close to the machine, peered into the clear plastic window of the deck, and saw that the VHS...had vanished!
“Mikey, the tape’s gone!”
Mikey took a look inside the machine and saw that the tape had, indeed, disappeared into thin air.
"That's impossible. That defies all laws of physics."
"Well, it happened. There's no denying that."
“But nothing else happened.”
Mikey was right. The big-screen TV was doing nothing except crackling with snow and static.
“Let’s try another one!” yelled Brian over the static.
“Come on, let’s try another one!”
Mikey reluctantly ran back to the Johnny Cruise shelf, grabbed a random video and then returned to the VCR.
“WEEKEND AT MISS DAISY’S,” he said, handing the video to Brian.
Brian ejected the tape deck again, shoved WEEKEND AT MISS DAISY’S into it and pushed the deck back into the machine. Just like before, the VCR glowed green and made its weird chuckling noise. This time, Brian and Mikey watched the VHS tape closely and could actually see it vanish into thin air, right before their very eyes!
“It did it again, Mikey!”
But just like before, nothing else happened. The TV screen continued to flicker with static.
“Come on, Brian. This thing doesn’t work. Maybe Mr. Craven never finished it.”
But Brian wasn’t giving up so easily. He hopped onto his feet, ran over to the Johnny Cruise shelf and returned with a whole pile of tapes.
“EDWARD TERRESTRIAL!” he yelled and shoved the tape into the machine. It vanished, but again, nothing else happened.
“DRIVING MR. BERNIE!” he yelled again and shoved the tape into the machine. But there was nothing.
“THE MIGHTY RUDY!” Still, nothing happened.
“TWIN FLAMES!” Nothing.
“WITCH RING!” Nothing.
Brian kept popping in the movies, one after another, until eventually...there was only one more left to try:
“STOP! OR THE NUN WILL SHOOT!” he shouted. But, again, absolutely nothing seemed to happen, aside from the tapes disappearing.
Out of sheer frustration, Brian started slapping the top of the machine with his hand.
“Do something, you piece of crap!”
Mikey grew weary of his best friend who was now becoming obsessive. He took a few steps back, which also allowed him to get a better bird’s eye view of the situation. That's when he had his Eureka moment! He saw a little something that...uh...could have been the problem.
“Do something!” Brian kept yelling.
“Piece of crapola!”
Mikey pointed to a cord that was running out of the VCR, and the cord wasn’t...um...well, it wasn’t where it should have been.
“You didn’t plug it in.”
Brian saw that the cord was unplugged and he couldn't believe he didn't notice it before. Wow, he felt like a royal schmuck.
“Oh, um...right. I knew that.”
He snatched the cord from off the carpet, crawled over to a nearby outlet and was about to plug it in when...
“Wait,” said Mikey. “How do we know it’s not gonna explode or something? We don’t even know if this thing’s been tested.”
“We’re too far into this, Mikey. There’s no turning back.”
Mikey closed his eyes and gulped as his best friend kissed the outlet with the prongs of the cord. Then, he slowly inserted the prongs into the outlet.
“Here we go,” said Brian. And, with those words, the Magic VCR was plugged in.
Vooooooooooom. Suddenly, an influx of power surged into the VCR and the machine groaned to life. The gobbling and chuckling sounds became constant and the machine started turning all sorts of weird colors, like red, green, purple and yellow.
Then, the television screen itself started flashing with all sorts of scrambled images. The images looked like Johnny’s face mutating from one movie role to another, at super-fast speeds.
Then, the ground to the video store started rumbling and an intense wind roared through the aisles. Needless to say, Mikey was a tad concerned about what was going on. Well, not a TAD concerned. He was basically freaking out.
“Oh, God, Brian, this was a big mistake! Make it stop! Make it stop!!!”
Brian kept kneeling on the ground, staring at the flickering television screen with a wild look in his eyes. “It’s too late, Mikey! There’s no turning back!”
The ground started to tremor even more forcefully and shelves of videos started falling onto the floor, one after the other. The wind went from forty miles per hour, to sixty miles per hour, to eighty miles per hour and, pretty soon, the store was getting demolished by what-seemed-to-be a category-five hurricane.
“I’m gonna be fired for this!” yelled Mikey. He was already in the process of trying to clean up some of the mess.
Brian kept staring at the television, looking wild-eyed with his rusty hair being blown in every which direction. Then he looked down to the VCR and saw that it was starting to vibrate...and steam...and shake with an awesome strength. It was at this point that Brian snapped out of his obsessive spell and started getting concerned. Something was terribly wrong with what was going on.
“Take cover, Mikey! I think this thing’s gonna blow.”
Brian ran behind a nearby shelf of videos, dove to the ground and cuddled himself into a fallout position for maximum protection. Mikey, however, didn’t heed his best friend’s advice. He was apparently too concerned with the mess that was growing worse and worse by the second. He was hopelessly trying to re-shelve a bunch of the videotapes into their rightful places.
Brian peered through the shelving and could see that his friend was still running around the store like a little monkey.
“Mikey, are you crazy?! Forget about that shit! Take cover if you wanna save your life!!!”
Mikey turned towards the big-screen TV and could see that - like the VCR - it, too, was now shaking, vibrating and steaming with extreme velocity. He dove behind a fallen shelf and took the best cover he possibly could.
As for the TV, it started to swell like a big zit. The howling wind raging through the store reached about a hundred miles per hour. There were flashes of lighting and even some rain mixed in with everything else. Then, there was a super-bright, nuclear-bomb-like flash and the TV popped into smithereens. KA-BOOM!
Brian and Mikey were showered with pieces of plastic and glass, along with all the TV’s tubing and innards and guts. But with the explosion everything started to die down - the wind, the rain, the lightning...it was like the storm was finally passing, and after another few moments, it was completely gone.
Brian slowly lifted his head up from out of his knees and took a look at all the damage. It was like a hurricane, tornado and an earthquake had hit the store, all at once.
“Holy shit,” he couldn’t help but say aloud.
Mikey held his head inside his knees longer than he really had to. He had no desire to take a look at what state the store was more than likely in. He didn’t want to even think about the trouble he was going to be in with Mr. Ross, the man who entrusted the safety and well-being of the video store to him. All he had ever wanted to do was please Mr. Ross and make him proud. But now he had messed everything up. Tens of thousands of dollars in damage, all because of his negligence. He could never look at himself in the mirror again. What a failure at life. This kind of thing wasn’t going to look good on his college resume. He would never get into a good school now. Oh, he wished that he could die right then and there.
But he couldn’t die. He knew he had to open his eyes at some point. He couldn’t just pretend that the last five minutes of his life hadn’t happened. He had to face reality. Maybe if he did it quick it wouldn’t hurt so bad, like he was pulling off a Band-Aid. So he did just that and opened his eyes. But, ooooooh, dear...it didn’t hurt any less. It hurt more.
“Holy shit!!!” he screamed when he saw the state the store was in. And he didn’t care that he had just voiced a cuss.
Brian got up from the floor and brushed all the debris off his clothes. “Whoa, that was intense.”
Mikey slowly stood up from the carpet, looking like he was in shock. “And after all that, nothing even happened! Oh, I’m doomed! My life is over!”
Brian stumbled over to his friend - limping a bit from a pulled leg muscle - and gave him a pat on the back.
“I’m sorry, Mikey. This is all my fault.” He took another look around at all the mess. The only thing that was still intact was...the magic VCR. “I guess it was silly of me to think that dumb machine was magic. Here, I’ll help you clean up.”
But before Brian could even begin to clean up, both he and Mikey heard something coming from not too far behind them. It was a voice!
“I found myself in a video store,” said the voice.
Both Brian and Mikey turned around and couldn’t believe what they saw...or WHO they saw.
“Holy shit!” shouted Gary.
“Oh...my...God. It worked,” said Mikey with his jaw about six inches agape.
Right there - about five feet in front of them - stood the biggest movie star in the world. Yes, it was the one and only Johnny Cruise! He was practically half-naked, wearing nothing but some tattered shorts and a ripped T-shirt. He had bruises and scratches on his tan skin, apparently from his journey into the real world. His body was also sparking with electric currents, kind of like he was a Terminator that had just been sent back in time.
Johnny looked over his body and then his surroundings, looking as confused as anything. Then he noticed Brian and Gary and looked even more confused.
“They stood there looking at me like I was from Mars,” he said aloud, as if voicing some inner monologue. “Who were these two maniacs? And what did they want from me?”
Brian and Mikey were still speechless, especially Mikey who was absolutely star-struck by who he saw standing right there before him. But Brian tried to pull himself together and get a few words out of his mouth.
“Johnny...uh...hi, Johnny. My name’s Brian. And...this...this is my best friend Mikey.”
Mikey smiled and waved. He was still too nervous to voice any words.
“We’re really big fans,” added Brian.
Johnny didn’t seem any less confused.
“Where am I?”
The question caught Brian off guard.
“Well, um see...this is...well...”
He couldn’t think of the right word, so Mikey finally decided to finish the sentence.
Johnny took another good look at his surroundings.
“I don’t like it.”
“Neither do we,” said Brian and Mikey, almost in unison.
But, suddenly, Johnny's temperament shifted from zero to sixty.
“What do you want from me?!” shouted Johnny at a volume that seemed a tad inappropriate.
“Nothing, Johnny. We just...well, we want to be your friend.”
Johnny took a pack of cigarettes out of his back pocket, lit it with a Zippo and took a heavy drag.
“I needed a cigarette to get my mind together.”
Mikey leaned into his friend’s ear and whispered. “Brian...um, can I talk to you in private for a moment?”
“Be right with ya, Johnny.”
He and Mikey scooted off to a secluded corner of the store and got into a little huddle.
“I think this was a bad idea, Brian.”
“Bad idea?! What are you talking about? Johnny Cruise is about twenty feet away from us right now. Johnny Cruise, Mikey! Johnny Cruise!”
Suddenly, they both heard Johnny saying something. It was difficult to make the words out, but it sounded like he was still talking to himself.
“I took another drag and felt the smoke fill my lungs.”
Both Mikey and Brian raised their eyebrows but Brian was able to shrug the weirdness off more easily than Mikey could.
“OK, look, Brian: I’m as happy as you are that Johnny’s here. But he’s acting really strange.”
“Well, what do you expect? We just pulled him out of the movies and into reality. He’s bound to be a little confused.”
“I don’t know...maybe we should try to put him back in.”
“Are you nuts?! Johnny’s gonna make us popular! He’s gonna get us laid!”
Suddenly, they heard a loud crash coming from the area where Johnny was. Brian and Mikey both looked at each other and said...
They ran over to see what had happened and they couldn’t believe their eyes. Not only was Johnny pinned beneath a fallen shelf of videos, but a fire had also somehow broken out on the carpet.
“Ugh! Help!” Johnny was yelling. The flames were starting to surround him on all sides.
“Shit!” shouted both Brian and Mikey. They ran over to lift the shelf off of Johnny.
The thing seemed to weigh a ton, but - fortunately - they were able to lift the shelf high enough for Johnny to get out. The movie star rolled to safety and hopped onto his feet.
“We gotta get out of here!” yelled Johnny as the blaze of fire started spreading itself even further into the store.
They all started running for the exit, but Brian remembered something and stopped dead in his tracks.
“Wait! What about the VCR?”
“Who cares about the VCR!" yelled Mikey over the roar of the flames. "We gotta get outta here, Brian!”
“You guys go on ahead!” Johnny shouted. “I’ll get it!”
“I said go! Go on! Get out of here!” The movie star started misting in the eyes, overwhelmed by sad emotions. Once again, the reaction seemed a tad inappropriate and a bit melodramatic given the situation.
Brian was hesitant to leave Johnny, but Mikey wasn’t. He grabbed his best friend’s arm and practically dragged him out of the place.
“Come on, Brian!”
Stay tuned for the next ten pages of REEL MONSTER...