But he, they, all of them could at least read a script and speak it out loud. Initially they couldn’t comprehend those around them, from director to producer to fellow actor, but they could read the lines and express their desire to eat, which runners assumed to be a tuna sandwich rather than a freakin forearm.
The fact that they couldn’t speak with any intelligence was a minor bump in the road. TMZ, Perez Hilton and those who inhaled the very bowels of these celebrities couldn’t tell the difference. ‘What has happened to Arnold?’ was as deep and investigative the headlines ran, outlining how Arnold had severed links with his family to concentrate on his career.
But you know as well as I do that the paparazzo-craving douchebags are dead to this world. It’s not the same environment that they stunk out for years. They get told what to write, they get told to believe it and we in turn believe it too, because we haven’t quite adjusted our consumption of celebrity news yet. Before Breakout Day any old shitty rumour could spread like wildfire in that fucking Internet. No filter for the fucking dumb. The new filter is whatever our fearless leaders believe it to be. That’s about as political as I get. I couldn’t give a fuck about the Preservation because soon I won’t have to, but I’ve seen enough bullshit written about me and guys like Arnold to know when a line’s being fed to the fish. The Preservation holds all the bait these days.
They’d also write enquiring pieces about celebs that I knew for sure were behind the door in that mansion. ‘Comedian Jon S looking “unwell” say friends’. Unwell? He was fucking dead! It was comforting to know that the stupid, and there’s plenty of us out there, were powerless to read a little deeper.
So, fifty hours after the Suit’s speech, the doors of the dining room were opened and forty semi-humans re-joined the world. A doctor arrived with contact lenses and handed them out to their agents along with instructions as to how regularly the flesh/cure combination should be taken. For the agents, it was clear; if they wanted to keep their clients alive and continue to cash their cheques, they’d need to act as their guardian for as long as they could pass auditions.
For a time I watched this church grow, make money and dupe a lot of folks in a lot of different ways. It didn’t impact my life directly, so I didn’t care too much. I was still able to work, to drink, to fuck, and that sufficed. That was until I arrived at a film set not long after and I was appearing opposite an actor I knew for sure had been in that dining room.
To say I was uneasy would be an understatement. The agents of these Zombies have become great at keeping their clients out of the public eye, shunning celebrity events and award shows and in some cases it helped to give an air of mystery to these stars, now living reclusive lifestyles save for a few choice roles. It was a fucking mystery alright and this was my first experience of the churches’ legacy – I was acting in a scene with a Zombie version of a very famous man, one who I used to respect.
It was a nightmare. I couldn’t give a shit whether people think I was the best actor of my generation or not. I sold enough tickets to be. But this shit should have landed me an Oscar. They had wheeled out Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and straight into Chinatown. I was conversing with a peer who looked like the man I knew and certainly spoke like him but certainly couldn’t behave like him. Have you ever taken your senile grandfather out for his groceries? I did, once, when I was a kid. It reminded me of this, that vacant look of a man who’d forget his feet if they weren’t stuck to the end of his legs.
There was a gap in between takes and, I dunno, I assume my scene buddy hadn’t taken his meds properly, if at all. He complained about being hungry – I don’t know what I was meant to do about it – but got a bit aggressive in the process. I grabbed his wrist and attempted to lead him to a room where I could dump him and the next minute he’s taking a chunk out of the side of my hand, the thumb going with it into his mouth.
So now I’ve got like three fucking minutes until I turn, as per what we’ve always been told. I can’t scream or else I’m drawing attention to both myself and this multiple award winner currently ingesting one of my digits happily on the stage, seeming more himself with every bite.
I rush to the bathroom and wrap tissues around my hand, stemming the blood as best I can. I search for my agent, find him and clutch his suit lapels and tell him what happened. He tells the director I’m ill and won’t be finishing the day’s shooting. He bundles me into the back seat of his car and buckles me in place before speeding across town, all the while yelling down the phone to one of his buddies, asking where the hell he should take me. I drift in and out of consciousness, and I can only see again what I’m told is a week later, after seven days of illegal medicine and pieces of people. It’s a month before I can think again, waking up from a coma to find that someone’s been using my body without my knowledge.