A holy day in the life of our fictional Hollywood super developer, neatly tucked in short online satire. Part of 5M Projects. Written by Rogue Saint.
Recently, in attempt to discover a new oasis for my daily mental breaks, I found a cozy spot in one of the coastal areas. Ebullient decor, soothing breezes, scenic views. I adore the vibe and location of the place. It seemed perfect, as if scripted and derived from a fairy tale... until my Zen was disrupted yet again. The fifth time in less than two weeks. It was you, a preppy-looking twenty-something-year-old, with scripture in hand and yet another variation of that established line.
"Sir, have you thought of reconnecting with the Lord?"
"You know, there's something strange about this town," I started, a bit irritated. "No matter how vast it is, you always bump into the same people. And some, depending on their wants and needs, try to stick to you like ticks."
"I don't suck blood."
"There's some red around your teeth."
You swiped quickly over your lips, a bit embarrassed. "Sorry, I like strawberries for my lunch."
"This is a recurrence. Worse. Almost like a time glitch. I come here to sit and relax. Yet you keep showing up. It repeats again and again..."
"Like a Groundhog Day."
I must say you surprised me with that quick and accurate response. I concurred. "Yes, like a Groundhog Day, and for the record, I don't like Groundhog Day."
"But it's Bill Murray—" you uttered before I interrupted—
"I like Bill Murray, I love Andie MacDowell, I don't like Groundhog Day. I can't handle seeing things rehashing themselves gazillion of times within an hour-and-a-half time frame."
"Not even if it's Andie MacDowell?"
I definitely needed to move this conversation away from Andie, one of my boyhood celebrity crushes. "Let's talk about you trying to sign me up for this cult?"
"The Church of Wallows is not a cult, sir. It's a legit religious movement based on Prophet Jarrod and his teachings set down in the book Scripture of Wallows." I almost choked on this one as you finished, "It's like the Bible, just from the moon."
"Sounds marvelous," I replied quickly, gathering my thoughts after the unprecedented shock to my common sense before you rocked me again.
"There's even evidence the government ordered NASA to send a mission to the moon to recover pages of the Scripture of Wallows which contain secrets of the Holy Grail. That mission is now known as Apollo Eleven."
I rolled my eyes convincingly. Seeing the talk wasn’t bringing another follower of the modern cult under its wings, finally your enthusiasm flattened.
"Okay," you started again, the tone of your voice changing. "I don't believe in it either. The church, Jarrod, the scripture, it doesn't really matter. But this town is tough on aspiring screenwriters and I needed a job. A masters in 'creative writing for IHOP waiters' will only get you so far."
"And that is..."
"A new curriculum from the University of Esoteric Degrees." I sighed deeply as you finished, "An online course. They're making their way through."
"I bet they are. So all this was..."
"To get your attention. I've heard of you. I googled you. A little bit of PI work on my part. And luckily... OMG. I couldn't believe when I spotted you here about two weeks ago."
"I guess I was never meant to be a follower of Jarrod. So what can I do that a masters in creative writing for whatever can't?"
"Give me an idea. Something complex, absorbing, that will make the audience crave time in front of their TV sets. Preferably HBO-subscribed TV sets."
"We're speaking of a TV show, then?"
"Creativity is in TV nowadays. With the US losing a big chunk of the world's box office share and the influx of Chinese money, movies tend to be vehicles for watered-down superhero narratives easily digested by the masses..." You spotted my eyes losing focus in distance. "Sorry, I'm pretty sure you know all the Deadline stories."
"So we're looking for an absorbing, audience-hooking yet complex story for HBO that will run presumably six or seven seasons?"
"That would be great."
The entire encounter with the young fellow played back inside of me, setting me into a blessed state of mind that churned out modified verses of the famous script.
"In the beginning, you created the outline and the file. And the file was without form, and void; and whiteness was upon the face of the deep. And your spirit moved upon the face of the file. And you said: There will be God."
"Shouldn't there be light first?"
"I'm pretty sure that line is not from Scripture of Wallows. What would Jarrod say if he caught you referring to competing religious thoughts? Anyway, light was already there for you."
"Can you be more specific, please?"
"The North American continent, late nineteenth century, after the Civil War." You copied my words into the sacred book you were holding, then looked at me, still a bit confused. "Still no clue? Let's narrow it down, then, shall we? The frontiers are moving to the Pacific Ocean. There's a significant number of immigrants moving in, and with them..."
I let you finish, and you picked it up quickly.
"…come adventurers, bankers, lawyers, laborers, and possibly crooks."
"And when you build a brand-new settlement in a land you've never seen before with people you basically just met, what appears to bond them?"
"But for the record, who's preaching this hope? Crooks?"
"Anybody you want. That's why you're the writer in charge. Because it's not what the scripture preaches, but who interprets it and the way he interprets it."
"How many of these preachers should I have competing for followers in our new town?"
"Three families seems all right. Families were big back then, and this ensures enough conflict for your multiple seasons. You know, tensions, forbidden love between members of different families, even open conflicts between the three groups and deaths. Throw in a government bureaucrat, like a mayor or something, and you got yourself a good start."
"What about the three patriarchs of these families?"
"Make them different. Let them have their secrets, make them live conflicting lives, dig up dirt on each other, backstab one another, create unlikely alliances. It can become a no-holds-barred fight to conquer the hope of the masses."
"You mean they preach one thing, do another?"
"This does happen all the time, after all, doesn't it?"
"So I should make this show bash religion? I mean, I'm aiming for HBO, after all."
"Not necessarily. Without doubt, you'll find plenty of examples of when religion created conflicts and wars, but you'll find many when it served humanity well. So mix it up. Don't draw open conclusions. Give hints. Let viewers make the final decision."
"Any other thoughts?"
"There are over two thousand years of history working for you. There should be enough examples to inspire you to create your own events. You should of course take advantage of it."
"Only one. What would Jarrod say if he saw you writing our thoughts on top of his holy words?"
You ripped out the pages with notes and threw the rest in the trash.
"I'm sure he wouldn't mind. After all, they printed too many of these. Most of them collect dust in some dude's basement."
"I guess not many are ready to seek the Holy Grail on the moon. At least not yet."
More short stories about our "super developer" at VillanLabs' Five Minute Projects - 5M Projects
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