This Saturday brings us Guy’s third point of view chapter and the second to last chapter in book two of the Infinite Limits tetralogy, An Almost Tangent. Today Guy is working on editing Rosa’s script so he and his crew can get the resources they need to make the movies they really want to make. See how that plan works out for them as the story continues in this installment of the Infinite Limits tale. Enjoy, dear readers, and do think about picking up a full copy of the novel through this link here.
INT. WALTRONICS ANDROID FACTORY SLIP, SNAP, CLICKING ROOM — DAY
ASSEMBLY WORKER works at an assembly line in a dimly lit, dirty factory. As she slip, snap, clicks, ANDROID THIEF bursts through the doors to pull Assembly Worker from her work.
Get your robot hands off me.
I don’t care.
This is my job. You can’t do this!
I am a robot. I don’t care.
But how will my human children eat? Can you feel no emotions?
I am a robot. I don’t care.
Android Thief grabs Assembly Worker and lifts her onto the conveyor belt.
(struggling to get away while Android Thief ties her up)
No! Unhand me you—you—robot, you!
(setting Assembly Worker on the conveyor belt)
I don’t care.
Assembly Worker struggles against the ropes and eventually gives up, allowing the conveyor belt to carry her through several more rooms in which more pieces get added to the slip, snap, clicked pieces by large robotic arms, finally carrying her to:
INT. WALTRONICS ANDROID FACTORY FINISHED PRODUCTS PACKAGING — DAY
Assembly worker falls off the end of the conveyor belt into a pile of bodies. She screams, thinking they’re dead humans, before realizing they’re actually androids. She screams again at the realization.
(crying and screaming)
No! We were—We were building them! No! How could they do this!?!!
# # #
Ugh. Guy crumpled up the page he was working on and tossed it at his trash can. That was worthless shit. He remembered what he was doing and that he probably couldn’t throw out an entire page—if so, he would have started over from scratch already—then went to pick the crumpled ball up and try to flatten it out again on his desk.
Why did the android only know two sentences? He understood that the piece was supposed to be anti-android, or whatever, but that was just lazy. If the thing could take a human’s job, then it could learn more than two sentences. And that was only one of myriad plot holes he was supposed to deal with by the next day.
He sat up further in his chair and rubbed his back where it had started cramping up from sitting for so long. How long had he been at it? He checked the clock. Ugh. Well past midnight and still he had so much work left to do. His back ached more at the thought of it. The first thing he was adding to his wish list was a nice comfortable desk chair.
He searched through the pile of mess on his desk to find an empty scrap of paper he could write that down on: Wish list: 1. Chair (comfortable) 2. Notebooks (a lot) 3. Pens (ditto). He picked up the note and looked at it, trying to think of anything else he needed.
Ugh. He threw the note over his shoulder. He was just procrastinating, putting off this stupid editing that he didn’t want to do, but he had to do it, and the longer he put it off, the later he would have to stay up because of it. At least he didn’t have to worry about work tomorrow.
He started to cry at the thought of it. He didn’t have work because the star of the production he had been working on had died. Russ Logo had died. With Guy’s being arrested then getting this stupid assignment right after being released, he hadn’t had time to think about Russ’s death. But now he did. And he couldn’t stop his sobbing. He lost himself in the grief for too long before shaking himself out of it and getting back to work.
He looked at the page in front of him. It was still wrinkly, and it was covered in red ink already. He hadn’t even typed up any of his edits, and that was always the worst part. He flipped through to count how many pages he had left. Seven. That wasn’t too bad. Less than a third of it. It wasn’t long so there was that.
He got up to get himself a bottled coffee out of the fridge then sat back down and put his desk in order. He picked up his red pen and started the massacre. By the end of it there wasn’t a word of dialogue that he hadn’t changed—and most of the scene directions, too—but even though he didn’t agree with a bit of it, he thought he held true to the theme of the story nonetheless. He kept its underlying message, that androids—and technology in general—were oppressing working class humans and must be destroyed at all costs, and he even left the buy human-made only tangent, blending it seamlessly into the overall narrative instead of clumsily making an aside to it as the original script had done, subtlety being something that whoever had written the original manuscript obviously had no understanding of.
When he was done editing, he set to typing his corrections. He didn’t have a digital copy of the script, so he would really be typing the entire thing over again. Just another sign that whoever they were working with had no clue about the best practices in scriptwriting—and probably moviemaking in general.
He opened up his ancient laptop—two entire years old—and sighed at the fact that it took more than a few seconds to turn on. Something this old was really only good enough for typing and playing music, but luckily, that was all he ever he did with it anyway. Still, he should probably add it as a fourth item to his wish list: a better computer to type on. He opened up his word processor and made sure the formatting was set to his liking before letting the classical music playlist he always worked to flow through him.
His typing was unconscious. He imagined his fingers on the keyboard were playing the beautiful piano melodies in his ears. He was Chopin. His words were Chopin’s music. He could feel the notes flowing through his arms and out of his fingertips with each letter he added, each note passing through him into the computer screen, and despite the message, the melody was beautiful.
He was exhausted by the end of it, but satisfied. He could barely lift his arms or his eyelids. He tried to see the time, but there were too many clocks to count, all overlapping each other and obscuring each other’s messages. He didn’t even have the energy to stand up and plop himself on his bed, which was only a step away, instead letting his head roll, falling asleep right in his desk chair.
# # #
The incessant buzz of Guy’s doorbell drew him away from dreams of fame. He hit his knee on the desk and let out a loud “Fuck!”, rolling and groaning in pain. It was not a good idea to sleep in his shitty desk chair, he knew that, but he kept doing it anyway. He had trouble standing and nearly tripped over the chair as it rolled out and hit the fridge behind him. “I’m coming,” he called, then, “Answer, I mean.” and, “I’m coming.” again. “Or—I mean—hello. Who is it?”
“Guy?” the tinny voice came back. “It’s Jen. I thought I’d come over early and make sure you’re ready for the meeting. I know how late you like to work when you’re on a deadline. Can I come up?”
Guy looked around his apartment. The bed wasn’t made even though he hadn’t slept in it. The kitchen counter was lined with empty jars of coffee that had been there for who knows how long. The bathroom was—well…bad. No. She could not come in and see that. “No,” he said, remembering the intercom was still on. “I mean. I’m ready now. Be down in a jiff.”
He rescanned the script a few times before sending it out to everyone then went and ruffled his hair in the mirror and gave his teeth a quick brush before running down the stairs. He burst out of the front doors, huffing and puffing, then bent over to catch his breath.
“Are you okay?” Jen asked.
“I—huff—yeah,” he huffed. “I…great.”
“Are you wearing the same clothes as yesterday?” she asked, looking him up and down.
He looked down at himself and he was. He looked up at her and she was still wearing black but a different outfit from yesterday’s. “I—uh… I worked late,” he said, which was certainly true.
“Yeah?” Jen laughed. “You must have. Did you come up with something we can work with, though?”
Guy looked at his feet. “You know, not really,” he said. “I still don’t agree with the message. It’s pretty much the opposite of the script I wrote. People are gonna think we’re hypocrites if we do this.”
Jen shook her head. “No,” she said. “Like you said, no one is going to see this little film we make. No one will even know it exists. But because we did it first, our other project will be better. Your script, Guy.”
Guy shook his head and shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said. “It’s not right.”
“But—” Jen protested.
“But I wouldn’t let the crew down,” he cut her off. “So, yes. I did come up with something we can work with.”
Jen laughed and hugged him, kissing him on the cheek. “Oh, Guy,” she said. “I knew you would do it.”
He blushed and stumbled, almost falling over his own feet. “Well, I couldn’t let you down,” he said. “Could I?”
“I’m sure you made it great,” Jen said, taking his hand and leading him to the elevator. “I can’t wait to read it.”
The crew was all there and waiting when they got to Indywood. Everyone seemed to let out a sigh of relief when they saw Guy walk in. He didn’t even have to ask them to move so he could sit down. A seat just seemed to open up before him, the masses parting at his approach.
“So,” Cohen said when they were all comfortable again. He seemed to be trying to hold back his normal patronizing tone. He even attempted a smile. “Is this script something we can work with?”
Guy wasn’t going to give it to Cohen that easily, though. “I still don’t think we should do this,” he said. “How many of you here have read the actual script?”
He looked around and they all avoided his gaze.
“No?” he said. “That’s what I thought. Now, how many of you care what it says?”
He looked around again and they all reacted the same way.
“None of you?” he said. “As I expected again. Because none of you are writers. But I am. The writing is all I control. The theme is what I live for. And let me tell you, this theme…this is dangerous.”
Cohen scoffed. The rest of the crowd muttered to themselves. “Dangerous?” Cohen asked. “Words are wind. How could they be dangerous?”
Guy shook his head. “Words are only wind until their written and recorded, heard and interpreted, then they turn into thought which leads to action, and that makes them stone. Words are creation, handed down to us from Fortuna above, and you discount your own craft if you discount their power.”
“He’s right,” Laura said. “We’re putting our names on this. That tells people we endorse the message.”
“Not necessarily,” Emir said. “It’s just a job.”
“And a well-paying one at that,” Cohen reminded them. “Paying anything your heart could desire.”
“Yes,” Guy said, nodding. “The pay is unbelievable. Which is more of a reason to distrust the motives of whoever wrote this.”
“Who cares who wrote it?” Cohen asked. “Did you make it workable? That’s all we want to know. We can’t do any work until you’re done.”
The whole crew looked on at him expectantly, even Laura who he thought was on his side. He sighed. He had tried to convince them. That was all he could do. “Yes,” he near whispered, giving up on his standards, all of them. “I made something that doesn’t suck, even though it still goes against everything I believe in as a human being.”
Cohen clapped his hands together with a big smile on his face. “Well then,” he said. “Great. Perfect. And I assume you sent it out to everyone?”
“Magnificent. Does everyone have something with them that they can read on?” Cohen asked. “We need to get started right away, and a cold reading should be good to get our approval at the very least.”
Everyone started taking out their phones and tablets, and Guy sat back in his chair, left to watch his Frankenstein creation come to life from the dead. Steve went to the bar to get a drink, but Laura had her phone out to read along, probably imagining shots she would need to make and the camera riggings required. She had to be one of the hardest working members of the entire crew, always involved in every bit of the action.
“Guy,” Cohen said, “you know the script better than anyone. Who should be playing which part?”
Guy shrugged. “Well, there are really only two major parts,” he said. “The protagonist is a female assembly line worker, and the antagonist is a male robot. Black and white. Yin and yang. Good and evil. Opposites. You get it. It’s your typical, basic story line.”
“Okay,” Cohen said. “That’s easy enough.” He was searching through the script on his tablet. “What other characters do we have?”
“Actually,” Guy said, “before I put my red pen to it, those were the only two characters in the entire script with lines. I added one or two more, but I couldn’t change much because I thought your investor would want us to stay as close to the original as possible.”
“Good instincts,” Cohen said. “If I’m honest with you, the investor didn’t really react well to the notion of editing at all.”
Guy scoffed. “You don’t have to tell me that,” he said. “The script read like it hadn’t been edited once.”
“But now it has,” Cohen said, clapping his hands and smiling. He was clearly happy to finally have something to do. As a director he didn’t have much work to do on a project until shooting got started. “So,” he went on. “I guess we’ll put Emir in the role of our antagonist… Adam Torrence? Is that right?” He looked to Guy for reassurance.
Emir scoffed. “Torrence?” he said. “What kind of name is that?”
Cohen looked at Guy and cringed. “Yeah, you know,” he said. “I’m not really feeling it, either. Was that in the original?”
Guy could feel himself getting defensive. Adrenaline, or something like it, boiled up into his throat from inside his stomach, and this wasn’t even his work. It was crap, and he knew it. So why did he let their critiques bother him so much?
“It doesn’t really matter,” he snapped. He took a deep breath to control himself. “That is to say that the names aren’t mentioned in the dialogue so they’ll only be known to us. They have no bearing on the final project.” He didn’t mean that, of course—which was why he was defending his names still—but it was a good defense nonetheless.
“So why give them names at all?” Cohen asked.
“It adds character,” Emir answered for Guy. “I must know who I am in order to better portray my role. How could anyone know themselves who doesn’t know their own name?”
“Alright, alright,” Cohen said, nodding. “You’ve convinced me. What about everyone else?” He looked around at the crew, and those who were still paying attention shrugged. “Anyone have any ideas as to a better name?” he asked.
“Emir Islam,” Emir said. “A role I can play better than any other.”
“That’s just your name,” Emily said, slapping him.
“Yeah,” Emir said, shrugging. “So? What better idea is there?” He smiled wide and sat up straight in his chair.
“You know that Adam is a robot, right?” Guy said. “You’re the bad guy in this. You don’t need a likeable name, and I have no idea why you would want to stick your real name on something this shitty in the first place.”
“That’s not his real name,” Emily said, scoffing.
“Whatever,” Guy said. “Can we just get to the reading?”
“Alright, now,” Cohen said. “Calm down. You make a good point, though. Let’s table this until after the reading. Now for the lead role…”
“Oh. Ooh ooh. Me. Pick me,” Emily begged, raising her hand and jumping up and down in her seat.
“I was thinking we should give Jen the part for this read through,” Cohen said, and Emily’s face went red as she stopped bouncing. “Now,” Cohen added, “this isn’t the final casting decision—mind you—but we need to get started as soon as we can. So let’s just go ahead with it.” Emily huffed and went to the bar to get a drink. “I’ll play the narrator,” Cohen went on, ignoring her departure. “Of course.” He chuckled. “And everyone else we’ll just pick up as we go along. Are y’all ready?” He looked around and only received silent nods in response. “Okay, let’s do this.”
“We fade into an interior scene,” Cohen read. Guy closed his eyes and imagined the scene playing out in his head. “We’re in the Waltronics Android Factory slip, snap, clicking room. Our protagonist, Alice Walton—” he nodded at Jen “—sits alone at a conveyor belt, slip, snap, clicking. There are empty stools to her left and right, and every few pieces she puts together, she looks at one or the other of the stools, wondering where her coworkers are, wondering why she is the only one left on the line. Enter Adam Torrence. He takes the seat next to Alice and sets to work without a word. Alice tries to ignore him, focusing on her own work, but Adam is slip, snap, clicking at inhuman speeds. She glances aside at him then quickly back at her work, a glint of recognition in her eye. When she looks again, Adam is staring at her with a smile on his face, still slip, snap, clicking at impossible speeds, even with his eyes off his work.” Cohen nodded at Emir.
“Hello,” Emir said in a deep mechanical voice.
“You.” Jen gasped.
“Who else did you expect?”
“But you—” Jen said. “You can’t—”
Emir laughed a hefty laugh. He did know how to sound like a villain. “But I did,” he said.
“No,” Jen said. “But my coworkers, my family… Without their jobs, they’ll—”
Emir laughed again. “I am a robot,” he said, pausing for effect. “I don’t care.”
“Adam stands and grabs Alice by her shoulders,” Cohen narrated.
“No!” Jen begged. “Unhand me!”
“Adam produces a rope from seemingly nowhere and binds Alice’s arms at her sides, wrapping the rope around her body over and over.”
“Just one more piece of human trash to get rid of,” Emir said with a final, hearty laugh.
“No! No!” Jen pled.
“Adam lifts Alice onto the conveyor belt. She screams in pain as the pieces already there dig into her back and the belt carries her into darkness.”
When Cohen stopped reading, Guy opened his eyes. The entire crew seemed to be reading ahead to what happens next. “So?” Guy said.
“I mean… Wow, Guy,” Cohen said, shaking his head. “I thought you said this was crap. And that was just the first scene. But this writing is great. That suspense just built up fast and hooked me right in. I don’t see how you can think this is bad.”
“Because it is bad,” Guy said. “I took that bit from the end and moved it to the beginning because it was the only scene worth anything. Don’t judge the script by the first scene.”
“But this,” Cohen said. “This is good.”
“But it isn’t,” Guy said, frustrated. “Just because it’s written well doesn’t mean it’s good art. You have to see the message already. It’s spelled out as plain as day, and—no—it’s not a red herring. The writer isn’t sophisticated enough for that. I know they aren’t.”
Cohen shook his head. “Right, right,” he said. “It’s anti-robot, sure, but damn if it’s not compelling.”
“That almost makes it worse,” Guy said. “Now that it’s entertaining, more people will see it. I’m still not sure about this, y’all.”
Emir laughed his same evil villain laugh from the reading, still in character. “I beg to differ, human,” he said. “We have your script already. There’s no stopping us now. Muahahahahaha.”
Guy sighed. Robot Emir was right.
“Besides,” Cohen said. “We need this. Do you have your wish list filled out?”
“And I like the part,” Jen said.
Emily frowned, downing her drink.
“See, human,” Emir said. “You are outnumbered. Surrender to your robot overlords.”
“I for one welcome our robot overlords,” Steve said, holding his glass up. Guy hadn’t even noticed when he rejoined the crew. “Let’s kick one back to androids and those who love them everywhere.” Steve winked at Guy as he tapped his glass with everyone else’s. “To androids.” Steve gulped his drink down then added, “Well, I’m gonna go get to work on some costumes for this thing,” he said. “You have my wish list, right Cohen?”
Cohen nodded and patted his jacket pocket. “Right here,” he said. After Steve left, he added, “Alright, should we get back to it then?”
Guy closed his eyes again to imagine the scene. He ended up falling asleep in a sitting position and dreaming it instead. When he woke up again, Cohen was congratulating everyone on a good read-through and divvying up responsibilities to crew members who already knew they had them.
“Great job, people,” he said. “Very good job. I think this will be something we can all be proud of.”
Guy stood up, finally conscious of how exhausted he was. “I, uh… I need some rest,” he said and stumbled out of the bar without waiting for an answer.
He took in a deep breath of fresh air and leaned on the wall outside. He hadn’t even finished his first drink and he felt smashed already. He was about to gather himself and head toward the elevator when the bar door opened and out came Laura.
“Guy, wait,” she called, jogging out to him.
He shrugged and leaned on the wall again.
“I—uh—I wanted to talk to you,” she said, rubbing her arm.
“Shoot,” he said, pointing at her with both hands. He didn’t remember ever talking to Laura alone before, but he was in no condition to argue.
“Well, it’s about the protectors,” she said. “About your ankle brace.”
Guy fought the reflex to scratch it at the reminder. “Go ahead,” he said.
“Well, I—” She looked down and seemed to blush. “Just look.” She held out her foot and lifted her pant leg to reveal an ankle monitor of her own.
“I—what?” Guy was dumbfounded.
“Yeah, well, that’s how I know you’re in for more than you expect,” she said. “They won’t let you go that easily, not with what you were involved in.”
“But I wasn’t,” he said, regaining momentary control of himself despite being so tired.
“That doesn’t matter to them,” Laura said. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you. They’re coming for you sooner than you think.”
“But they just let me go,” Guy said. “What would be the point?”
“To see where you went while you were free,” she said. “They’re watching you. That’s why they gave you that ankle bracelet, Guy.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t care,” Guy said, shaking his head. “I need some sleep.”
“If I were you, I would go back inside and get something to eat first,” she said. “You have a chance of being taken every time you get in an elevator, now, and I’m sure you haven’t eaten in some time from the looks of you.”
Guy shook his head and rubbed his face. “How do you know all this?” he asked.
“Because I’ve been through it myself,” she said. “Because I have my own ankle monitor. Because I have to know it to stay alive, and now, you do, too.”
Guy sighed. “Whatever,” he said. “I don’t care. I need some rest, not food.”
“You will if they take you again.”
“They’re not going to take me, alright. Now I appreciate your advice, but I have to go. See you tomorrow.”
“I hope so,” she said as he made his way to the elevator.
Guy sighed to himself and the elevator fall into motion. He wondered what it was that got Laura an ankle monitor and why she had kept it secret for so long. Maybe she was guilty. He was imagining the possibilities when the elevator doors slid open to three protectors pointing guns at him. His hands shot up into the air by reflex.
“Citizen, you’re under arrest,” one of the protectors said before throwing a black bag over his head and punching him in the stomach.
# # #
So ends Guy’s point of view in An Almost Tangent. A cliff hanger, that one, which you dear readers will just have to wait until book three, Dividing by Ø, to find out the conclusion of. And don’t forget, if you can’t wait that one long week before the final chapter of An Almost Tangent becomes available on the website here, you can pick up a full copy of the novel any time right through this link.
Thanks for joining us again, readers. Have a great weekend.