Some Kind of Superstar: Part Seven
A week later – a long, exhausting week – I’m sitting in the trailer, utterly knackered by having to film a school race. 100 metres sprint. And my character is a good runner. I’m not. And more than one take. Lots of takes. Ten takes of sprinting a hundred metres. That’s running a whole kilometre flat out. I don’t think I can move an inch. I can’t even breathe without seven different parts of my body protesting. Will somebody tell me why it hurts my tail when I breathe? That is just stupid. And my toes. They simply ache when I exhale, but inhaling – it feels like each toe has a white-hot rod instead of a bone inside it. Does that make any sense?
“Rough day, huh?” Seth asks as she comes in through the door. I grunt a response and almost scream in pain. Seth and I have gotten on really well. She’s just a fantastic pet – funny, smart, conscientious, caring, friendly; just genuinely nice. But she’s not cheesy. She’s often rude, late, yells, throws things and very sarcastic and cynical. Sounds like two completely different people, but they’re really both her.
“You have no idea,” I force out. “I’ve sprinted over a kilometre today. Sprinted. Really fast.” Seth smiles sympathetically and starts hunting through the fridge. “What you looking for?”
“Chocolate milk. Know if we’ve got any?” I hold up the last – empty – carton of it. It was the first thing I went for when I got in after all that running. Seth scowls and flicks cold water at me from a squeezy bottle. I shriek, first from the cold, then the pain of actually shrieking.
“Oh well. You look terrible.” Seth runs an appraising eye over me. “Let’s get you into bed.” She wraps an arm under my shoulders and almost lifts me from the chair I’ve collapsed into. It’s scary how strong she is. I moan weakly as Seth half-carries, half-drags me across the room and drops me into the foldout bed against the wall.
“Than,” I mumble, but I don’t have time to say the ‘ks’ before I fall asleep.
After I wake up, I somehow manage to go through makeup, eat breakfast, and get to the set without a hitch. All this week there’ve been meetings, and new timetables, and just general disorganization. According to Seth, it’s normal for the new cast members to be shuffled around a lot, and since there are five of us in the new family, the director of this unit has to balance that with everything else that’s going on... it’s just been a mess. Hopefully, by now it’s sorted out.
“Kris! Get over here!” shouts Stanley, the director. He’s the Green Eyrie who talked me through my character last week and is in charge of directing this unit. By ‘this unit’ I mean the family my character is a part of. It’s very confusing, all this talking about ‘me’ and ‘my character’ and ‘my family on set’ and ‘my character’s family’. I still don’t have it quite sorted.
“Hey, Kris, did you go to that party last night? How whacked-out was that?” James giggles, slightly manically, which is fairly moderate for him. “Those guys from Whiteforest really know how to throw a gig!”
“James, I was in my trailer, sleeping,” I say, as patronizingly as I can. “After running all those laps and sprinting the whole way. And you know this, because you sat at the edge of the track and laughed at me the whole way.”
“I was glad I wasn’t doing it myself,” James shrugs. “But whatever.”
“Will you two shut up, please?” bellows Stanley from the other side of the set. This set is the room I share with Adrienne. Or rather, the room that Abigail (my character) shares with Leslie (Adrienne’s character). There are only two walls so that the cameras aren’t blocked off. These walls are painted a truly revolting shade of dusty rose pink. There are girly posters stuck up everywhere, girly clothes neatly hung up in a closet, and two girly beds next to each other. I wouldn’t be caught dead having this as my room.
“What are we filming today, Stanley?” asks Adrienne.
“Scene twenty-one,” he replies, handing scripts around. I know my lines off by heart, or mostly, so the refresher is still welcome. I glance down the pages; Leslie and Abigail are sitting in their room, talking about the party last night, when Jack (James’ character) comes in. The girls are furious because he never knocks and keeps invading their privacy. They throw shoes and stuff at him to make him leave. Keep in mind that this is fairly usual for this show, and it’s one of the most gripping dramas on Neovision. BORING!
“Come on then, girls.” James grins at us cheekily. “Bet you fifty Neopoints you can’t hit me.” He does a funny sort of victory dance.
“Deal,” I snap, grabbing his hand. I’d love to throw stuff at James. That would really finish off a perfect day. James pulls his hand back and runs around to the back of the set. There’s a door there that leads into the bedroom. Adrienne and I walk on set and Stanley tells us where to go.
“Kris, just across this bed, please. If you can lie down and then prop your head in your hands like that- Good. And kick your legs up a bit. Perfect.” I grin at his praise and try to keep still. He manoeuvres Adrienne over a beanbag and gives us a double thumbs-up. “Great. If you can stay mostly in those positions, please. Adrienne, I want you to go here to throw things at James.” He indicates a large pile of clothes in the middle of the floor. “Kris, this slipper.” He holds up the slipper and then places it at the edge of the bed. I reach down, making sure I can get hold of it when I need to. Easy.
“Okay, everybody,” Stanley bellows. Then he says the words that always – no matter how many times I’ve heard them – send a chill up my spine. “And... ACTION!”
“I cannot believe you tried to make Ryan and Kim dance together!” Adrienne giggles instantly after the director’s call.
“Yeah! They’d both had loads of sugar, though, so they were willing to try anything. But Kim kind of forgot that Ryan is a total and complete Negg-head. He can’t put two and two together to save his life. He’s an idiot, simply brainless. I think he’s got more toes than IQ points! And very prejudiced against girls. He thinks, somehow, that all girls are even stupider than he is!” I recite.
“So what did Kim do when she remembered?”
“Gave him a good kick on the shin and punched him in the head.”
“Good for her!” Adrienne claps her hands delightedly. “That’s what those guys deserve.”
“Either that, or they should all be packed off to Kreludor without spacesuits,” I declare viciously. It’s easy to be passionate about this. It’s something I really believe in. Guys who don’t accept the equality between genders deserve every beating up they get.
“Hey, girls,” James interrupts, sticking his head in through the door. “I need a favour.”
“Well, you’re not getting it, Jack!” Adrienne shouts.
“How many times do we have to tell you to knock, you little insect?!” I bellow at him. I’m even louder than Stanley when he’s giving cues. I snatch up the slipper and hurl it. Fifty Neopoints – and my pride – are on the line.
Before he can duck behind the door, the slipper smacks him right in the face. James splutters, but before he can recover, T-shirts and jeans come flying at him in a beautifully well-aimed volley. James shrieks and zooms away. Adrienne and I cheer, but we’re not just cheering as Abigail and Leslie. We’re cheering as ourselves, delighted after giving James a good showing of who’s boss around here. Adrienne and I have made a pretty good friendship, most of it based on teaming up against James in off-camera situations. Beating him on set is a superb feeling and it’s great that it’s a situation where we don’t have to fake the feelings. It’s always better if they’re real, because it shows on camera. Being told to throw things at James is an added bonus.
Somebody pulls the reel of tape out of the camera and runs with it to the main building. That was the last piece needed. That’s my first episode of Caulfield Lane, finished. How fantastic is that? My name will be in those credits. It’ll go scrolling past millions of eyes – Kristen: Abigail. I feel great. I grab hold of Adrienne and spin her in a happy dance around the room, shouting, “IT’S DONE! IT’S DONE!”
“Well done, everybody!” Stanley shouts. “Take a break; you won’t be needed again today.”
That’s pretty much my life now. Filming, filming, filming. Getting to know the other pets who are filming with me. Hanging out with Seth, and, on weekends, Nathalie. Then, three weeks after filming it, I watch my episode of Caulfield Lane. It’s on Neovision now. Seth, Adrienne and Nathalie are all in the trailer with me, staring fixatedly at the screen, across which Caulfield Lane is now written. Wordlessly Seth hands around popcorn. And then we watch.
Even though three out of four of us are in it, it’s still unbelievably boring. I would be asleep already if not for wanting to watch myself on Neovision. We all cheer at Seth’s first appearance, then Adrienne’s. Then it’s only a question of time.
An unmistakable Purple Shoyru comes through the front door of the house and our trailer explodes. Seth and Adrienne are both screaming my name and Nathalie’s hugging me to death. I watch myself walk across the hall, dump my schoolbag and start talking with the dad and gran. I’m still boring. It’s still not that interesting; in fact I think it’s the most boring thing on Neovision. But if millions of pets and owners across Neopia want to see this, who am I to deny them? Really, all I’m doing is fulfilling the people’s wants, and being famous is just an added bonus. Not.
“You’re a superstar!” Nathalie screams in my ear. Suddenly, in a frightening burst of clarity, I realize it’s true. I’ve made it. My dream.
I’m on Neovision.
I’m a superstar.
To be continued...