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“Hi. I’m Mark.”

“I’m Alice.”

Mark smiled, though he recognized Alice’s response—she wasn’t interested. “I haven’t seen you around,” Mark said. “What else have you been in?”

Alice pursed her lips and looked to the sky. Apparently, she was deep in thought. “I was in Morbid—ever see that one?”

“Yeah—what’d you play?” Devouring his hot dog, Mark wasn’t sure his words were recognizable.

“Remember the funeral scene?” Alice said, peeking at the closed set door.

Mark followed her eyes and wondered when they were going to start. “Yeah,” he said.

“I was mourner number three,” Alice said.

“Awesome!”

“Oh,” Alice said, “I also played various bystanders in Gunracks, but that movie didn’t last too long...”

Mark had his pulse on almost every movie released, and he had seen Gunracks—however, he didn’t want Alice to know the true extent of his film geekdom. “Haven’t heard of that one,” he said.

“What about you?”

“Me?” Mark said. “I’ve been in quite a bit, actually. Recently—Downtime, Zero-Count, and Harbringer come to mind.”

“Wow,” Alice said, her attention shifted to the now-open door. “Those were some big ones.”

“I even had a line in one of them,” Mark said, but he had already lost to the excitement of start of the day. Crew members scurried around the backstage area of the set, preparing everything for the upcoming shot. Mark and Alice followed the line where they were grouped together with a large mass of people.

“Exciting,” Alice said.

Makeup artists came around to each of them and painted all manner of boils and scars on their faces and hands.

“What was the name of this movie again?” Mark said. Though he knew the name of the movie, all principal actors, the director, the producers, and the director’s cat’s name—Mark wanted to appear aloof, like he was a seasoned veteran.

Alice feigned a zombie groan and said, “I think it’s called Lockdown, but I’m not sure.”

“I don’t think we’re zombies,” Mark said.

Another man leaned close and said, “We’re supposed to be sick or somethin’. Like a plague.”

“Oh,” Alice said.

Mark’s group was led in front of a fake concrete barricade, complete with barbed-wire and gun-toting police. His heart quickened—was he in a death scene?

“Okay everybody,” one of the assistant directors said from stage right. “All of you are sick—and you want to get inside the barricade. Any questions?”

“This sounds like fun,” Alice said, squeezing Mark’s arm.

After all Mark had accomplished, why would they put him in a death scene? Surely, they knew who he was. He had a line in his last movie!

“No matter what happens,” the assistant director said, “You want to get in that barricade. Don’t run—you are all diseased and the cure is beyond that wall. Action in three.”

The police actors on the wall readied their guns. Alice smiled and awaited the chill-inspiring ’action’ command from the assistant director. She didn’t realize where she was, but Mark knew—this was a death scene.

He could run. Other actors had avoided their own death scenes that way in the past—Mark read their blogs. He might survive the guards and fences—and the dogs. True, work would be difficult to find after that, but maybe a smaller company would hire him. He could change his name, like those other actors did.

“Action in one,” the assistant director said.

“How are you going to play it?” Alice asked, her eyes alive. “Crazed or brooding?”

Mark’s pulse sped. The rush before ’action’ filled his blood as well. What would Alice think if he ran? Would she still talk to him?

“Thirty seconds!”

Mark scanned the crowd. If somebody else ran, he decided would run too. Alice would understand then. Also, he shouldn’t be the first to run. He had to set a good example.

“Places! Action!”

The mob groaned and clawed at the barricade. Mark moved along with the crowd.

“Stay back,” one of the fake policemen said. “We will open fire!”

Alice winked at Mark, screamed, and ran towards the barricade. Bullets rained from above and her body convulsed from the multiple impacts. The mob trampled her lifeless form as they stormed the barricade. More bullets ripped through the crowd.

Mark remained near the edge of the action. Then, some of the people turned away from the policemen. Recognizing his opportunity, Mark whirled on his heel and prepared to run. A bullet entered his lower back and exploded an internal organ—he wasn’t sure which one. He fell to the ground and clutched at his back, screaming. Feet and blood passed his vision. His pain subsided. Lights flashed. The ground tasted like old dust.

“Cut!”

Ω

Matthew C. Plourde is a father, husband, network engineer, and writer. He has completed a novel and started another. While revising the manuscripts, he enjoys writing and reading flash fiction. His 2009 flash fiction has appeared on flashscribe.net and everydaywierdness.com.

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