The film opened with a view of earth from outer space, and a voice (Gaz's) began: "The year is 1999. The world and all its good citizens have never been better. World peace has been achieved, no child goes hungry, disease has been gotten rid of. Man is free to contemplate the human condition, and more importantly, colonize outer space." Entering the picture was a bottle-shaped spaceship, THE VALEDICTORIAN glittering in blue letters along its hull. "There she is," Gaz whispered, "the smartest ship in the fleet." A whistle blew, and then a weird, psychedelic montage of oddly-angled stills began: there was Captain Vance Banner, the square-jawed fearless leader; Ace Trevor, the hot-headed helmsman; the Intelli-Bot 4-26-35 ("My birthday," Gaz said); and finally Lorena Valdez, the raven-haired, olive-skinned meteor scientist. "Eyes darker than the cosmic void, lips redder than human blood," Gaz quoted from his script. "Beauty and brains. Lorena's got 'em in spades."
Gaz loaded a second reel, quick scenes of the actors running in a nearby canyon, which would be the planet inhabited by Checkers' monsters. "That's where I'll splice your footage in," Gaz said. The canyon scenes were comprised of reaction shots, extreme close-ups of the actors shouting, "Look out!," "Duck, Captain, duck!" and "They're hideous!" "I had them take expressions lessons in West Hollywood." Gaz said. "They've definitely done their homework."
I looked at Checkers. There were pretzel crumbs on the corner of his mouth, but when I tried to wipe them off he brushed my hand away. "Ssshh," he said. His face glowed blue from the movie on the wall, just like it did back in the CocoLoco editing room, late at night after a long day's shoot. I would end up asleep on the floor, sometimes until morning, waiting for him. Gaz turned off the projector. "And that's just the beginning," he smiled. "So, are we in?"
Even before Gaz turned on the lights, Checkers was on his feet, searching his pockets for a pen. "Let's do it," he said. His breathing was quick and heavy, almost desperate, and his forehead was drippy with sweat. "I'm ready," he said, "we're in."
Excerpted from Monstress by Lysley Tenorio. Copyright © 2012 by Lysley Tenorio. Excerpted by permission of Ecco. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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