It's the golden rule of Hollywood. The writer always gets the shaft. The producers make all the money, the actors get all the fame, the director gets to put his vision on the screen, the rest of the crew get paid and get to go home; but the writer? The writer pours his guts out onto the page and if he's lucky he sees 20% of what he wrote make it through the grinder. If he's really lucky, he gets paid what he's worth.
That's my story in a nutshell. Two weeks ago, I was in a mansion, sipping margaritas and making love to one of the most desired women in the world. Now I'm alone, locked in a toolshed on some godforsaken island in the South Pacific waiting to die. I'm writing this in ballpoint pen on forty-something year old army stationary. I'm trying to get it all down while there's still sunlight streaming in through the shed's grimy windows.
When the sun sets they're going to come for me. They're going to --
No wait. Let me begin at the beginning.
When I came here, I had already sold a pair of spec scripts and a few short stories to some literary magazines. I was a young man out to make his fortune and while my sales were steady and I was getting good reviews for my work I wasn't making nearly enough to cover my expenses. So I started looking for other ways to use my writing talent to make cash. You know, greeting cards, ad copy, non-fiction articles for in-flight magazines, that kind of thing. That led to the mistake that torpedoed my budding career. I wrote some material for an obscure roleplaying game company. I needed the money and I figured no one would ever see the half-assed crap I was churning out so what was the harm?
Well, they put some of that half-assed crap on their web page, crowing about the big time author they've got working for them. Just like that my legitimate writing career was over. I mean I couldn't get arrested in this town after my work on The Alien Empires Roleplaying Game's Space Angel Sourcebook came out.
After that the only offers I had coming in where to work on more roleplaying games or churning out scripts for Lurid Video -- the adult film company. Given the choice between <Dungeons and Dragons and Spanking Lesbians Unchained I took the better paying choice.
And yes my smart-ass reader, there are scripts for adult films. You just happen to fast forward through all my best work.
Of course, there's more to the story about how I got involved in the business but let me speed ahead and set the scene where the real story takes place. I'll fill in the background as I go.
The Lurid Video film crew arrived here three days ago by chartered boat -- the SS Polaris. The ship was manned by three smarmy characters who asked no questions and charged little. Their cargo for this little excursion was a complete Lurid Video film crew. Said crew consisted of two cameramen, one lighting guy, one sound guy, six "performers," one tired, sunburnt writer and a producer who was also one of the performers.
The island was some little flyspeck of a place, too unimportant to be claimed by anyone. It was half jungle and half beach and not much of anything else. It was only notable because of the strange little statues that dotted the landscape. They were a little bit Easter Island, a little bit Aztec and a whole lot of H.R. Geiger. Their bestial features were half-lost to erosion. The damn things looked like something out of arts and crafts night at the Ritalin Ward. If there was a pattern to the way the things were placed I couldn't see it.
Despite the expense of location filming, the producer had insisted we use this island. This was to be Lurid Video's magnum opus, a porno adaptation of Lord of the Flies.
That was also the producer's idea, not mine. She was very specific about how she wanted this film to be made and she was painfully specific about the script. I'd just finished re-re-rewriting the damn thing an hour before we dropped anchor.
A few words of background about our producer, perhaps you've heard of her? Vanessa Summerisle. I see you have, at the mere mention of her name sends blood rushing to thousands of male organs. Well unbeknownst to most people, the lovely raven-haired Miss Summerisle is also the owner of Lurid Video and has a hand if not a featured role in most of their productions. She is also in charge of their pay website, she writes the Java code for it and everything. She was also responsible for plucking yours truly from twenty-sided die obscurity and making me Lurid Video's wordsmith of choice. Vanessa Summerisle was beautiful, smart, limber and utterly ruthless.
And truth be told, I was a little smitten with her.
Yeah, yeah -- I know I'm a sap. Yeah, yeah -- I know Miss Summerisle's been hit with more oversized loads than an industrial laundry machine, but there was this certain something about her.
Maybe it's because she thought I was a genius.
When she approached me to become one of her scriptwriters, she said she knew my work. She even had one of the literary magazines one of my stories had appeared in. What can I say? I was impressed and flattered, mostly flattered.
Anyway, from the moment we set foot on the beach we were filming, I stood there, trying not to cringe as the pretty young, pierced and tattooed "actresses" mangled my precious dialogue.
The plot was simple enough. A group of stewardesses are marooned on a strange island with only one man. They revert to sapphic savagery as they battle for exclusive rights to him. It sounds stupid I know, but I promise you it had a very happy ending.
As the skinny-dipping/lesbian six-way scene began, I excused myself to go and explore the island. You m ay find it hard to believe but watching people film other people having sex is about as exciting as taking class on dentistry. Besides I was having a hard time watching Vanessa work.
The island was strange. I know I said this before but I don't think I've quite gotten across to you how strange. First of all, the place was totally silent, no birds chirping, no nothing. It was like the whole jungle was holding its breath waiting for something. The only sign of life were the clouds of bloated black flies that seemed to linger around the statues. The air was filled with this faint, sickly-sweet smell, just strong enough to tickle your gag reflex but not strong enough to be recognizable. I wandered around for an hour or so when I spied a figure crouching up ahead. It was perfectly still, staring at me. I froze my breath catching in my throat before I realized that it was another one of those weird statues.
It was about three-feet tall, almost child-like in proportion. Like I said before, the details were washed away with age but what I could see of the face was enough to give me the willies. The head was bulbous and misshapen, like one of those potatoes you find at the bottom of the bag. The eyes were too close to its forehead and too far apart, the mouth was too far down on the chin and too small. Despite of the dry weather, the stone was clammy to the touch. Yes, I touched the thing, don't ask me why.
"It's a headstone." someone purred softly behind me. I nearly jumped out of my skin until I recognized Vanessa's voice. I turned to see her in her hiking boots, cutoff shorts and Smashing Pumpkin's T-shirt.
I smiled, "Shouldn't you be working?"
"Geoff is doing the action close ups of the other girls," she said, approaching the statue with a kind of awe, "I wanted to explore a little."
"You know more about this island than you're telling, don't you?"
"There are stories, rumors, and legends." She ran her soft hands along the length of the statue, "Some say the island is haunted."
"So . . ." this is how I liked her best, dressed like a normal girl. I could almost fall in love with her when she looks like that, then I remember what she does for a living and the affection I feel becomes a kind of queasiness. ". . . we're making a porno film on a haunted island?"
"Scared? I thought you didn't believe in the afterlife." With a mischievous grin she patted the statue on the head and started trudging deeper into the jungle.
I followed her, swatting at the sickly, low-hanging branches, "I'm an agnostic, not an atheist."
"Yeah you don't know what you believe. At least I've committed myself to not believing in God." she led me deeper into the jungle.
"Have you been here before?"
"Are we talking about reincarnation or the island?"
I rolled my eyes, "The island."
"No. I read all about it though -- it has an interesting story to it."
"Do tell--" I slipped on a mossy cluster of stones and fell on my face, "Damnit!"
"Preston!" she was at my side, helping me to sit up.
"Damnit." I said again, this time with a mouthful of dirt.
"You are so clumsy." She laughed, brushing off my face.
I hoped the dirt would hide my blushing, "Only when you're around."
"Flatterer." she kissed my cheek. "Come on, not much further. There's something I want you to see."
Not much further tu rned out to be an hour of walking, mostly uphill. It was pretty darn hot too, and there wasn't even the slightest trace of a breeze to take an edge off the heat. In case you hadn't already guessed, us writer types usually aren't in the best of shape. Oh sure, there are exceptions, but for every Ernest Hemmingway you have about twenty other vaguely gourd-shaped men like me. Like I said before though, I was pretty well smitten with my silicone-enhanced tour guide. You know I can't even really explain to you why I came here, except that she asked me to.
Of course, she asked me to join the shoot after she had screwed my brains out in her hot tub. How the Hell was I supposed to say no after that?
Yes you heard me, I had sex with Vanessa Summerisle.
I'm not making this up.
Believe me or don't believe me, see if I care. I'll be just as dead by the time someone finds this.
This is how it happened. She invited me over to her place to discuss some last minute project she had in mind. A little fuck-fest filmed on location on an exotic little island in the south Pacific. Vanessa told me that she, a film crew and a handful of performers were heading out in forty-eight hours but they had no script. Would I be willing to bring along my laptop and bang out a script on the way there?
At first I'd said no. I hate flying, I hate going on location and I was planning on devoting some more time to my novel in progress The Black Rider. It was a western epic in the tradition of Lonesome Dove; I'd been working on it for almost seven years. It was about halfway done, maybe.
Vanessa and I talked about the book some more, the conversation drifted to our hopes and plans, she plied me with margaritas and complements and asked me where I wanted to be twenty-five years from now. The next thing you know, she pounces on me, her lips her hands everywhere. Suddenly I was doing something most men can only dream about.
There were other scriptwriters she could have called over that night but she chose me, but in that one moment that one night she'd wanted me for something more.
I'll pause so you can finish retching.
Hmmm. Now where was I going with this? Oh yes, the island.
After pa ssing by another dozen or so of those strange little statues, each one of them different yet just like the others, she led me to a clearing. In that clearing was a rusted old Quonset hut and a handful of rotting olive-colored tents. It looked like the exterior set from M.A.S.H gone to Hell.
There was even a jeep, its tires flat, its body half-eaten by time and corrosion, parked in front of the dilapidated tool shed that would become my prison. "What is this doing here?"
Even though the place was obviously long abandoned, we spoke in hushed tones. "It was an army base d uring Second World War. An entire platoon of men where stationed here. They all disappeared without a trace."
"Charming." I said a cold tremor of worry settling into my stomach. "Are you sure you want to use this island?"
"Oh yes. Its got terrific atmosphere."
I sniffed the air, "Its got atmosphere all right."
"I want this film to have an undercurrent of danger. I want this to be the one they remember me by."
"They'll remember this one all right." I said, thinking of the script she had outlined for me: scene after scene of crude couplings and how the statues figured prominently into most of them.
"Come on then." she started walking again, "The best part is up ahead."
I swung my arms in a sweeping gesture, "Better than all this?"
She laughed, "Shut up and march."
"Yes ma'am!" I caught up with her. To my surprise, she took my hand as she led me back into the jungle. "You said something about headstones?"
"Each one of these is a grave marker." She paused before on of the grotesque effigies, "The people of this island was the last strong hold of the Tcho-Tcho culture."
"And what does that mean in English?"
"Let's just say they had some very strange religious beliefs."
She flashed me that grin of hers again, "Much worse than that. These guys were mummified and buried while they where still alive."
"You're sure this island is deserted right?" I stared back the way we had come.
"So this is like their cemetery island?"
"In a way. You see the only ones that got the fancy treatment and the ugly statue were their high priests. They where chosen at birth and lived like kings until their thirty-fifth year. Then," she patted the clammy stone, "they surrendered themselves to their god knowing that they would not truly die but would instead sleep under the Earth until they where summoned back to life by their god."
"Where did you come up with this?"
"Not all the books I read are about Java code and the stock market."
"Ever thought about hunkering down with a Jane Austen novel?"
"Read'em all." Another hour of walking brought us to another clearing. The pale-green grass was knee high. It undulated slowly back and forth. The grass surrounded the squat stone rim of a well. It was made from the same material as those ugly-ass statues. There were these little hieroglyphics a ll along the side; it bothered me if I looked at them for too long.
Trembling with either terror or excitement, Vanessa approached it, "It's here. I knew it!"
"Shame we didn't bring a camera." I let her lead me to the well, this is where that nauseating smell as coming from. It was a cloying fetid odor, hard to describe. Imagine the smell of a butcher shop, mixed with the stink of an open sewer and add a dash of the scent of your grandma's house. By the time we actually got up to the thing, my eyes were watering.
"This is where their god came to them," her voice was muffled, she had her hand over her mouth and nose, "Delphanos the Mad God."
She was peering down into the depths of the well, the beckoned me to join her. I risked a glimpse down into the murky depths. The air wafting up the stone shaft was hot and putrid. There was this thick, sloshing noise down there, like water slopping up against the edge of a solid surface. Something glistened in the shadows. My heart started to pound, I felt like I was being stared back at. I thought I saw --
No. I didn't see anything. There was nothing down there but decade's worth of stagnant water and worse. I bet those GI's had used it for a latrine. I remembered saying, "We should be getting back now."
Vanessa was quiet after that. She got me back to the boat just as it started to rain. That pissed the director off mightily, apparently he had fallen behind shooting the anal sex scene.
His words, not mine.
We called it a day and retired to the Polaris' cramped quarters. Vanessa turned in early, the rest of us whiled away the night, swapping stories, smoking cigarettes, snacking on breakfast bars and drinking pop. I used to eat pretty healthy but a few months in this business and you never want to see another spoon full of yogurt again.
I remember asking Vanessa why she got into the porn industry, with her smarts she could have done anything. She smiled and explained to me that this was the one place where women were truly empowered. That led to a pretty enjoyable debate until she pointed out to me that I was asking pretty much asking my boss if she thought she was being exploited.
Ah the sweet sting of irony.
Copyright © 2000 Eden Studios, Inc. A
ll Rights Reserved.
Any questions or comments regarding All Flesh Must Be Eaten or this website, please send them to us.