"The Rise and Fall of New Devon: From Capital of Mythlore Pride to blah blah blah....dumb ass human documentaries." This program was without a doubt the most bigoted peace of crap I'd ever tortured myself into watching. That's what went through my head as I worked up the courage to change the damned channel. The worst network on cable television. And to think that after all these years, something like this was still allowed to be aired so freely to the public. I could have sworn we were past this by now, but I guess I was just being naive. Its the channel. The HEAT Network: Human Entertainment for American Television. A network made specifically for human viewership....and probably no one else. Basically a means of further alienating the human race from any mythlore race. It had been in commission since I was a boy and as an adult, I'd had a few run-ins with the terrifyingly intolerant and chauvinistic CEOs that escalated their hatred for us in ways so unbelievably "inhuman" that their plans almost rivaled the initial idea behind the holocaust. Those days were long gone and the people responsible were taken out, but the nature and subtlely of the HEAT Network's prejudice was still as present as ever. It even had the same slogan it carried from when it was first put on the air. In a deep ominous voice, a man would say, "You are now watching the HEAT Network; Human Entertainment at its finest." What kind of overly cliche'd bullshit is that? Not to mention the kind of elitist class divide it implies. What the tagline should be is "The Heat Network: Human Entertainment without the tainting image of disgusting monsters."
"Monster." That word hit home for me. I had been called that all throughout my childhood, the most tramautizing moment involving a trip with my family to the Museum of National History where a group of angry humans were protesting the "trespassing" of mythlores in such a sacred place. Sacred, my ass. It was just a museum. Granted, what the protesters wanted to get across was that this was the Museum of National HUMAN History and that meant they didn't want us djinn or any other mythlore stepping over their accomplishments, as if by being there we would discover their weakness and use it against them. Please. If we wanted to kill all the humans, I'm pretty sure we would have fucking done it already. Think about it. Before the humans knew we existed, we were all scattered, without any kind of organization in our masses, and we were essentially at war with each other. Now we have a damned Mythlore Society of the United States, basically our equivalent to the Humane Society, only acting as more of an NAACP for us, or a personal embassy. With that alone, we could crush these humans whenever we wanted. We wouldn't though, for various reasons: political correctness, taking the high road, something about proving that we have more humanity in us than humans themselves. Nonsense really.
Ultimately, the officials of the museum asked us to leave, as the protesters were growing more and more billigerent and security didn't want it to escalate into something chaotic. My father led us out. We hadn't been there for more than twenty minutes. To this day, I felt a little betrayed by his sudden willingness to leave so freely like that; I couldn't help but feel like he gave up without a fight. If I had been in the frame of mind I was today, I would have stood my ground and let those humans do whatever they came there to do. I wouldn't have let them win. It was enough that we had been told to leave, but the fact that I actually heard them cheering behind us as we walked out, slinging slurs at us on our way to the door, allowed it to have a much more profound effect on me. I was only nine years old.
Since then, I used it to fuel my ambitions, rather than let it hender me. After so many years of working my ass off, I figured I'd made something of my name. My children were better off. I had done something with my life and created a legacy. And nearing the end of it, at the tender age of 150, I had nothing better to do with the time I had left than to sit in my mansion by the shore of Palm Beach in Florida with nothing to watch but the last thriving remnants of a past I was still struggling to forget. In short, I was having the best time of my life.
I could hear the doorbell's ring echo throughout the mansion, which instantly switched my mood into a bad one. What the fuck do you want? I thought, looking up at the ceiling with a hard sigh. I moved this far away from New Devon for a reason: so nobody I knew would bother me. I should have moved out of the country. It better just be some tax collector or better even, a Jehovah's Witness. Carson would know not to answer it then. Just in case it was someone who would want to see me in person, I sighed heavily and pushed myself up from the couch, my robe swinging by my bare feet as I trudged my way to the bathroom right by the den I had been relaxing in.
I conjured fire with a snap of my finger, setting the candles in the room ablaze as I looked into the mirror and stared into my wrinkled face, smiling to myself as I began to freshen up. I was definitely a handsome old geiser. I used to be ashamed of the massive tribal birthmarks that covered my face, arms, torso, and every other inch of my body. I wasn't too flattered by my eyes either, which were a very light shade of purple that almost looked pink, a subject of teasing by other Djinn when I was a boy. But you only need that one female, human or mythlore, to tell you that you have pretty eyes or that your tattoos are "epic" to give you enough self-confidence to believe you're actually worth something. Or enough to get yourself laid. Whichever comes first. I splashed some water on my face and rubbed my head across my bald head before reaching over and pulling my dentures from the small tub of water I kept them in over night. I stuck them over my gums and flexed my jaw to fix them in place before swiping away the flame of the candles with a wave of my hand and heading out of the bathroom, not completely fresh, but fresher than I had been just a second ago.
When I stepped into the den once again, I saw Carson, my butler, standing by the doorway in his tuxedo, bowing in my presence. "You have a visitor, sir," he said with a sharp scottish dialect that had once taken me some time to understand but I could now comprehend with no problem and even adopted it to my own New Devon accent a bit from being around him for so long.
I nodded and he stepped aside for a young man to walk through. I could tell immediately that he was a Spirit; his white skin, hair, and pupils gave him away instantly. He looked like he might have been hispanic in his past life, probably only in his twenties when he passed away. He was very well dressed but also slightly casual, like he was here to do business but didn't mind sharing some small talk or quick anecdotes in the process. I wasn't amused and I didn't care to engage in small talk.
I gave him a sour look. "Who the hell are you?" I asked bitterly.
The man simply smiled. "My name is Marcus Martinez."
At the sound of name, I smirked and my annoyance dispelled a little. He was here to do business. "I know who you are. I've heard your name a lot recently."
"Yeah," Marcus said modestly. I'm sure he might have blushed if he was still in the same flesh he'd been born in. "I'm not for the publicity, but my agent always tells me to just smile and tell the same success story until people get tired of it."
"I know the feeling," I said, walking toward him. "I mean, I'm not the hollywood type like you are, but I've been working in the business world for more than a century. The 'smile-and-nod' technique definitely comes in handy."
"I could imagine. After all you've accomplished in your life, Mr. DeLucia, that's all I pretty much can do is imagine."
"Please, call me Trent," I said, holding up my hand. "I hate that Mister shit, it makes me feel old. And don't you dare say I am either."
"We're only as old as we feel, Trent," Marcus replied with a smile. I smiled back. This guy wasn't half bad.
"Carson bring Marcus a beverage if you could please." I motioned for the visitor to take a seat on the couch where I had just been sitting.
"Please excuse the crap I had you walk into on the TV," I muttered, grabbing the remote and flipping my 40 inch HD television off. "Sometimes I get curious as to what humanity is discussing nowadays when its not just a load of anti-mythlore propaganda."
"Yeah, I didn't want to say anything," Marcus chuckled on his way over. "Not going to lie, they have some good programs on there, but I mostly watch them for the art. If I watch it too long or even spend a few minutes on that 'Human News of Today' crap, I will begin to lose every bit of mythlore pride I still have in me. I've been one longer than I've been human, so I know where my loyalties lie."
"That's good to here," I said with a laugh. "So what brings you here, Mr. Martinez? You working on a new film project or something?"
"Actually yes," he answered, taking his seat on the couch as I sat beside him. "I'm trying to do a follow-up to my 'Hot War' Trilogy. It was a nice run, but I'm ready to start something new."
"I'll say," I said, shaking my head as I leaned forward and grabbed the glass of wine lying on the coaster on the coffee table in front of me. "I've never seen so much uproar and hype over a franchise that wasn't based on a book or something. I found it impressive that you went from self-financed Sundance contestant to multi-million dollar director, writer, and producer in only a few months, thanks to that series. Congratulations on that Oscar by the way."
"Thank you," Marcus said enthusiastically. "That means a lot. It was an incredibly stressful journey to be honest, but ultimately, it was very rewarding."
"I bet. So what's next for you?"
"Well I'm actually looking to make a drastic turn from the 1960's espionage epic of 'Hot War' and into something else. Personally, I've gotten tired of all the hype over it. I mean, don't get me wrong, I liked how people suddenly gained an appreciation for the role mythlores had in the Cold War but you can never underestimate the stupidity of our society. A lot of people believed that the characters in 'Hot War' were real, even though the film specifically states 'Inspired by True Events' on the movie poster. I get asked the same stupid questions at every press conference, like 'Are Mikhail and Stella married in real life?' and 'Was the explosion at the end of the third movie really what caused the Chernobyl disaster?' And my favorite, 'What ever happened to Gabe?' Like they didn't watch him get shot seven times in the first movie. The dumbest its ever gotten was when one human girl asked me why it wasn't in black and white during the scenes in the 60's. I didn't understand the question and pressed on. Long story short, this bitch, and I shit you not, actually believed that the world, our world, was in black and white until the 70's, when we were apparently magically graced with colors."
"Is she one of those famous broads by any chance?" I asked, leaning forward.
"Yeah, actually. I didn't want to say any names."
"Yes," Marcus nodded excitedly.
"Oh my God, she is the most ignorant excuse for a living creature on this planet. She honestly doesn't know anything. I've had a conversation with her. It's like talking to a brick wall. Speaking to me, she actually learned that the sun and the moon aren't the same thing and that pollen, which is essentially the sperm of a plant, can NOT get you pregnant during the spring."
"No way. She actually asked if-"
"Yes, she went there," I answered, chuckling and shaking my head. "I don't know how she's made it in this world. It's got to be purely off of her good looks."
"Clearly. Just another celebrity who's famous for nothing."
I laughed and took another sip of the wine in my glass. "So tell me more about this project you're working on."
"Right," Marcus started as Carson entered the room once again with a saucer in his hand. There were several bottles on top of them and when he walked into view, Marcus took one and nodded at Carson gratefully. "Like I said, I wanted to get away from the vibe of 'Hot War' and do something different."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Well...." Marcus began to hesitate a bit. "What I wanted to tackle next, I sort of wanted to be....non-fiction. I mean, more non-fiction than 'Hot War'. Like an actual biographical film based on true events."
I smiled a bit, nodding. "You want to make a movie about my life?"
"Actually, sir," Marcus said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head with an awkward cringe on his face. "As much as I want to involve you in the film, and I wholeheartedly plan on giving you a pivotal role in the story, I actually wanted to make the film focus on a different subject. I mean, I definitely do find your rise to fame to be an amazing tale of redemption, betrayal, sacrifice, and the like, but I'm just afraid its been done a million times already."
"So?" I said, feeling a touch of my pride creeping up and taking the form of offense. "You're a talented guy. You've got a unique vision. You can make it original."
"Well I'm flattered by the kind words, Mr. DeLucia," he replied. He was reverting back from his casual friend side to the nervous visitor phase he'd arrived with. "But I feel like my vision is better suited for the idea I was originally going to pursue. There's a different kind of story that I want to share with the world and while yours will definitely integrate with it, I feel like the slice of history it has as a whole will bring to light a lot of misconceptions about certain events and educate a lot of people."
I was starting to get impatient. "Well spit it out. What's your idea?"
Marcus took a deep breath and spoke quickly as he exhaled. "I want to make a film regarding the lives of Columbus Beauregarde and Aaron Paratelli."
I was almost taken aback. I know my mouth was hanging open. But now it all made sense. I rolled my eyes and shook the look from my face. When I turned back to him, I could see that he knew he had offended me and he knew the topic itself would before he had even mentioned it.
"So why come all the way here to talk to me about it?" I said through gritted teeth, holding back a barage of insults that were formulating in my brain.
Marcus shook his head. "I think you know why. It's not like I can go to the two themselves and ask them."
I reached up and rubbed my face, trying to hide my obvious displeasure but I really didn't care if he knew I was annoyed at him once again. I wanted him to know. "You came to my mansion. You walk into my living room, drink my beverages, waste my time with small talk, and then you ask me to help you make a movie about the two individuals that had the least positive effect on my life? No, let me rephrase that. You ask me to make a movie about two motherfuckers who made my life a living hell every single time I came in contact with them? Without fail? You want to actually make a movie about lowlifes who nearly got me killed on several ocassions, came close to single handedly ruining my career, and nearly got this entire world covered in the debris-induced winter of a nuclear holocaust. As well as nearly getting all of New Devon destroyed and then being responsible for the Caleidos Riots of 2001."
Marcus shrugged with an innocent puppy dog look. "It's good material for film, if you look at it from a cinematic point of view. And I know for fact that you had a front seat view of a lot of the things they were involved in. I was thinking the film wouldn't really revolve around them as much as it would the events they were apart of"-
"Okay, that's total bullshit," I exclaimed. "I saw the first Hot War. Saying you're not going to focus on the characters is the biggest lie I've ever heard."
"Okay, you got me there. I do want to tell their story. I understand that it may bring up some bad memories and that you might not have ended on the best of terms with them, but I only want to tell a story. That's my only ambition as a filmmaker. I, in no way, plan to glorify their actions or portray them as something that they weren't. If I did, I would have just went on ahead and made the movie; I wouldn't have even wasted my time coming here. I wanted your consoling because I wanted to hear the truth straight from someone who experienced it first hand"-
"-And you wanted my name on the list of producers so you could have more funding," I snapped at him. "I know how the business works."
"Hey," Marcus said, holding up his hands defensively. "Producing the film is totally optional, Mr. DeLucia. You don't have to if you don't want to. I'm mainly here just to get your take on their story and provide the world with a more accurate depiction of what really happened in those years that they ruled the streets."
I couldn't help but chuckle pathetically at that last comment. "'Ruled the streets.' Those assholes barely ruled the one-bedroom apartment they bunked in, let alone any goddamn streets."
"Sir," Marcus encouraged, leaning forward as if that lastest glimmer of information only intensified his appetite. "If you could possibly indulge me just for a few months while I construct the backbone of the script, I would be forever grateful. I will pay you whatever you want."
I had to think about it. If I agreed to do this for the next few months (and knowing this maniac, he was probably planning to extend this tale into a multi-movie franchise, so a few years at the least), I would be forced to relive a portion of my life that I have tried for years to erase from my mind. I could look on the bright side and focus on the good times, which would be much easier if there actually were any. Columbus Beauregarde and Aaron Paratelli. Beaux and Aero. The two hadn't even crossed my mind in so many years, I'd nearly forgotten about my adventures with them. I still remember the first time I met them. I thought they were both incredibly funny. That's how they would get you. They lure you in with charming one-liners, witty banter, and devil-may-care charisma and next thing you know, you're caught in the middle of viscious shootouts, tortured by maniacal headcases, caught in the middle of dangerous conspiracies, and end up with every crazed freakshow in the state of New Devon gunning for your head. If there was anything that I learned from Beaux and Aero in the years I had known them, it was the age old proverb that my parents had repeatedly stressed to me when I was younger: Don't talk to strangers. Even when they go to the same high school as you.
"Write me a check," I said after a long sigh. "$10,000 and I'll tell you all you want to know."
"Ten grand? That's all? You don't want any residuals from the initial income"-
"No, because that would constitute me producing the film and the very thought of 'producing' anything related to those two knuckleheads gives me a stinging feeling in the pit of my balls. I don't apologize for that imagery either. I will help you make the movie. But I'm not going to be cinematic with it or any of that shit. I'm going to tell you how it was and you do with it what you will. If it doesn't come out in the story form you want it to, you better not bitch."
"I won't, trust me," Marcus chuckled, reaching into his jacket pocket and pulling out a notepad. From the breast pocket of the same jacket, he pulled out a pen and clicked it out. I sighed to myself. He wanted to start this shit now. "I've had a good enough dose of reality to know the difference. I try to be as realistic as possible with my work anyway."
"Yeah whatever," I said, turning my head. I really didn't want to have to do this. This kid was lucky he was being polite and genuine about it. I had heard his story before. He used to be an airheaded frat boy who blew away his parents' money by bullshitting his way through school until he got himself killed in a drunk driving accident. He came back to Earth five years later with a new outlook on life and began to use it to fuel his vision as a filmmaker. It was inspiring for most, annoyingly unoriginal to others, and for that, he was the target of ridicule by those that are pretty quick to believe that once a person says they've changed, its all a bunch of lies. He still gets the "drunken frat boy" treatment pretty often from many others from what I've seen. Nonetheless, it seemed as though he was making the most of his second life, so at least he had that and a multi-million dollar movie and merchandising franchise to his name.
"Now, I don't have to get everything today," Marcus said, looking down at his blank notepad as he flipped to the first page in it. "I just want enough to make a basic outline of some stuff. So can you go through the minor details and what not"-
"Nope," I said, with an apathetic look. "I'm going to sit here and talk for several hours and you're going to sit there and write what you hear. You use what you want and if you miss anything, you're shit out of luck, my friend. I'm going to be walking around doing stuff while I explain too, so its up to you to stay on your toes. Please don't ask a crapload of questions either, because if you begin to annoy me, I will get the impulse to have you thrown out. Please understand that I am not in the mood to be doing this and let that influence how you think or act and recognize that it may anger me in any way. And you don't have to worry about this too much, but if at any time I randomly decide that I no longer want to do this; to help you or continue talking about those two idiots, don't get upset. Just leave, come back tomorrow, and hope that I'm in a better mood. If I'm not, leave forever and go make a movie about something else. Is that understood?"
"Yes sir," Marcus said sternly, readying his pen in his hand as he looked me in the eye. The sight of him gripping that pen tighter made me sigh even harder and it just that quickly provided me with some motivation to quit already. He looked up at me eagerly and I lounged back on the couch, downing the last of the wine in my glass and tossing it on the carpeted floor in front of me.
"CARSON!" I shouted for my butler, who came jogging into the room vigilantly. "Bring me my flask please. And stay on hand, I'm going to need it re-filled periodically throughout the evening."