A thrilling day in the life of our fictional Hollywood super developer, wrapped in five minute satirical story. Part of 5M Projects. Written by Rogue Saint.
Generally speaking, I consider myself a healthy individual. After all, I'm very active, can start a conversation or jump into one, perform daily tasks, and solve most of my problems. But some would say I have a problem. No, not because I like fictional villains, but because I binge-watch. I don't do it often, but it happens here and there.
So one day, some time ago, I happened to set myself to watch The Flash. As you can guess, the main hero of this show wasn't the biggest draw for me. Neither was his love interest, his interesting colleagues, or the intriguing metahumans. However, every episode I would eagerly await Tom Cavanagh in his yellow suit fluttering abnormally on the screen with that rattling sound in the background. My fist would go up, voice raising—"Yes, teach that red-clad boy a move or two!" Okay, I lied about the fist and the sound bite, but you get the point.
During my binge-watching I don't like to be disturbed. No phone calls or emails. No police sirens or helicopters. Just me, the screen, and a calzone or other doughy weight gainer from my favorite Italian joint. So you could imagine how annoyed I was when my phone rang. Not once. Not twice, but twenty times in as many minutes. Even worse, the calls were coming from the same unknown number.
"Who are you? What do you want?" I answered angrily after repeated missed calls. My state of mind blurred the response from the other side. I swear I just heard the three last sounds and interpreted them as O-L-D.
"Captain Cold?" I reiterated, confused, before the voice from the other side cleared through my ears.
"Not Cold. Gould. Jason Gould. I'm senior accounting officer at Third Robber Baron Financial. You have checking and savings accounts with us, sir."
"Oh, yes. How could I refuse to bank with such a marvelous institution?"
"Thank you, sir. That means a lot coming from you."
"I was sarcastic."
"Our institution couldn't ask for better praise."
"Did you hear me? I was... Forget about it. What is this about? Phantom late fee to raise your profit margins?"
"No, sir. We apply those mostly during meaningless holidays, like President's Day."
"Then you must want to offer me a useless loan with bogus low rates that you'll change on a whim despite the signed contract."
"No, sir. I offered that to the client before you. It's about irregularities on your account."
"Yes. Would you be able to visit my office?"
"I can't discuss that over the phone. I would really appreciate it if you could visit my office."
"All right, then. I'll be there in a flash... I mean, in several minutes."
Fast forward ten to fifteen minutes and I'm sitting in a shaded and typically emotionless office. One that you could find in any one of millions of high-rises across the world. Two things struck me first. The AC was blowing ruthlessly, like a polar wind from Canada. The second was your bony, expressionless face. And although you wore your typical office suit, I imagined you in a parka holding the Cold Gun.
"Are you related to Wentworth Miller?"
"No," you responded, confused. "Who's he?"
"Don't worry. Just a wild thought-peeling of my right brain."
You offered me a quick puzzled look before continuing calmly, "What do you think are the chances for an aspiring screenwriter to sell his first script?"
Now, I got thrown into rebus. You said what? Despite the randomness of your question, I intended to keep it calm.
"I don't think I'm the best person to evaluate these chances."
"I get it. It's never easy to answer this kind of question..."
"On the contrary, the answer is easy. It's the circumstances that lead to somebody asking the question in the first place that should be evaluated before the question itself. Anyway, I thought I agreed to visit your office to address 'irregularities' in my accounts."
"Your accounts are fine."
"You shouldn't be surprised. We make up plenty of crap to steal—I mean to charge our customers for purposes of increase in revenue. An innocent creation of fictional events—"
"You mean a lie," I interrupted fiercely, losing the calm I had intended to keep.
"Call it as you wish, but I'd do anything to have a chance to speak to you. I'm correct, am I not? You're the one with the bag of ideas?"
"Oh, not again."
"You see, my life is scripted. But in a bad, boring way. Work, family, sleep. Work, family, sleep. There's no juice left. I need something to happen. Something to break the routine. I have an artistic soul..."
"Very much so. I even wrote a poem in fourth grade. But this artistic spirit has been trapped and imprisoned by the harsh realities of life. I want to unleash it again. So I was thinking something boisterous yet suspenseful for my first project. Maybe a thriller?"
"I believe the artistic spirit you're referring to is called a midlife crisis. In this case, at least. With that said, I believe I should go."
"I wouldn't do that if I were you. I'm familiar with many financial institutions, but nobody makes up fees like we do at Third Robber Baron Financial."
"Are you threatening me?"
"There are no irregularities in your account, but that doesn't mean we can’t make them."
"I can just make up a number."
A quick rash of thoughts blistered across my mind. Flash-like speed. Or, better, reverse-flash. Collisions. Sparks. Noise. Then it struck me. A well-off man in a midlife crises. An office phone. Numbers. A pen and a blank sheet of paper. I quickly grabbed the last two from your desk and wrote a ten-digit number. I handed the note to you.
"What is this?" you barely squeezed through your lips.
"A random number. That's your thriller."
"I don't get it."
"Yes, you do. You just need to be reminded a bit. A wealthy man with a wife and kids enters a midlife crisis. His daily routine bores him, and he’s eager to find something, anything, exciting. One day he stops at the gas station, but unlike any other day, he uses cash to pay the clerk instead of his credit card. When he gets change..."
"A phone number is written on one of the bills."
"A worm of curiosity that eats at his soul tells him to dial the number from a payphone."
"Who answers it?"
"A murderer about to commit a crime. A mobster about to order a hit. A hooker in desperate need of help... There's a variety of options. Whichever you choose, it must have an incentive for this man to get involved and the propensity to spiral out of control. You may even entertain some kind of time limit. Just to give it a kick."
"What about this man's family? Are they in danger?"
"They should be. Somewhere along the line, when the spiral starts."
"Let's talk about the details."
"No. I just give you an idea. I don't write the script for you. But there's one thing you should know. If you ever make a threat again, make sure you are more convincing or at least have some kind of weapon. A Cold Gun could suit you. Otherwise, you're in for a rude awakening."
I got up, set to leave before allowing you to ask another question.
"If you knew my threat was empty, why did you help me?"
"Because I need you. Quite frankly, you're my insurance policy."
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