In response to Patti Abbott's Scarry Night flash fiction challenge.
Six extras dead and in their places. Two more to go. Kate poured blood, her own recipe, from a large blue bucket into a pint container that had once held egg drop soup.
This particular corpse was fairly simple. A jagged slash across the throat bleeding into her massive cleavage. That’s the low-budget filmmaking spirit, Kate thought. Showcase the gore but don’t forget the tits.
Sharon, the extra, was smiling. For now. Kate didn’t have the heart to tell her getting into makeup was the easy part. Wait until she was lying motionless in a freezing barn for take after take, trying to keep still while the inexperienced leading man flubbed his lines.
Kate flicked a few drops of blood on Sharon’s white blouse.
“You’re set, honey. Have fun!” The poor girl headed out the door of the tiny shed as Tommy the intern entered.
“Avi wants to know how much longer.”
“One more then we’re ready to go.”
“Good. He’s getting hyper.”
“He was born hyper.” Kate asked Tommy to send in the last extra on his way out.
A man walked in. Only it wasn’t the handsome 19-year old who’d been waiting outside.
Martin looked different from the last time she’d seen him, four years before. The flesh on the left side of his face was now a field of burn scars, pink on the raised ridges, red in the furrows.
“Hello, Kate. I hope you don’t mind. I told the kid to give us ten minutes.” He was trying hard to control himself. She could see the effort in his eyes.
“I don’t have ten minutes.”
“Not even for me?”
“Especially not for you.”
Her heart began racing. Fight or flight. Problem was Martin always won their fights. Mostly with his fists. Once with a shove that sent her down the basement stairs. She’d lain there for ten hours until her sister Peggy found her.
“Make it five then.”
“We’re behind schedule. I need to work on that kid.” She tried to angle past him toward the door.
Martin stepped in her way. “I think I scared him off. This face.”
“What do you want?”
She’d left in the middle of the night, dropped her identity like shedding her skin. Moved across the country, waitressing mostly, then three months of make-up school. Found she was good at something. She could do ghoulish, glamorous, exotic. Damaged was her favorite, though. The uglier the better.
“I was upset when I realized you were gone,” Martin picked up the container of blood, swirled it like a glass of merlot. His hands were scarred too. “Did you read the paper before you left? It said I’d been smoking in bed. But I never smoked in bed.”
“You did a lot of things when you were drunk. None of them smart.”
“That justifies what you did to me?”
“You think I set that fire? You should have told the cops.”
Peggy had a connection who supplied the roofies to slip into his whiskey. All Kate had done was light the cigarette and place it on the mattress.
“No, I needed something to look forward to all those months.” He smiled, the left side of his face not cooperating, furrows darkening with the effort. Kate found herself analyzing his features, filing them away to use in her work. “Skin grafts. Rehabilitation. Do you know how painful that is?”
“As painful as lying on a cold dirt floor with a compound fracture?”
“Much, much more.” He took a step toward her, his eyes a little wild now.
He couldn’t have known about the knife. The one she’d carried in her back pocket ever since she’d read that he’d survived.
Avi, the director, studied the extras lying on the floor of the barn. “This one’s a little old. Script says they’re supposed to be college students.”
“He’s the blonde’s date. You know girls, they’re into older men.”
Kate had positioned Martin so the left side of his face couldn’t be seen.
“I get it. Dude, put your hand on Sharon’s thigh.”
“He’s already in character.” Kate moved Martin’s hand, still warm, but not for long. “He’s played a victim on CSI: Miami and New York.”
“Professionalism. Excellent. We need it. Could be a long night.” Avi bent to examine Martin’s hand. “Disgusting. He’s a burn victim? Is that backstory?”
“No, I was just practicing my technique. Hope it’s OK.”
“Sure. Yeah. I really don’t mind the scars. Not when that stomach wound is so awesome. Great job.”
Kate packed her gear into the trunk of her Civic. She figured she had an hour at most before Avi realized Martin wasn’t a Method actor. But she did her best work under pressure.