Work in Progress::: READ AT OWN RISK…. Just a warning… Ok, go ahead….More
to come :o)
Prologue: Assorted Clippings from 1993
Lake Ohoee Times, August 7th
Blaze Kills Two
A local man and woman were killed last night in what neighbors say is the worst Sank Lake Shores blaze in years.... ....Firemen have called the blaze accidental, though arson has not yet been ruled out, and an investigation is still underway..... The sole survivor, an unidentified young man, was taken to Lake Ohoee hospital with second degree burns to the face, neck and arms. Police officials say….
Lake Ohoee Times, August 10th
Local Araje woman arrested
Rose Majardo, an 84 year old member of the local Araje Native American Sect, was arrested yesterday in connection with the Sand Lake Shores Fire that killed one man and one woman three days ago..... ......Majardo, who was the grandmother of one of the deceased, pleaded ‘not guilty’ before a court official today, claiming, “my granddaughter is safe now. No one will ever hurt her again. I have given her the power of the Araje.” Local Araje tribesmen, Carlos Montegro and Joseph Montana were reported as being outraged and appalled at the claim, responding, “the Araje do not support Rose Majardo, and are good citizens of Lake Ohoee and Arizona.” Future court dates for Ms. Majardo are…..
The lights, as it just so happened, were dimmed. Ed, the lighting technician, as they had all come to know him, would often say, "dimming the lights is like the calm before the storm. We shut em down and then turn em all on--to see what works, what doesn't, and what needs replacing." So of course, noone had paid any attention to the loss of light. After all, they had all been used to staring at shadows; listening to echoes bounce off the wall on a barely lighted stage, talking in hushed tones while some rehearsed their lines and others did the lighting checks.
Jennifer, especially, was used to the oddities of rehearsal and had been---ever since she was a little girl. After all, the stage was her life, such as it was, and she could stand in a closet and go over her lines, forever if need be, and not be bothered by lack of light or the lack of costars. For, it seemed, Jennifer knew Shakespeare; Juliet most of all, in her sleep. She understood it. She yearned for the longing; the unrequited loved between two star crossed lovers. The connection between two people she had never understood and probably, never would.
Precocious giggling echoed up from the small, dug out orchestra pit and signaled to Jennifer that she was not alone. Some of the other actors were there, taking a short respite from the daily grind of rehearsal. But beyond them, and into the whole of the auditorium, silence reigned. It was a soft quiet that wafted into her ears and lulled her---the laughing mixing with the utter silence of an empty theatre; One devoid of patrons. Jennifer had always loved it so, loved hearing the silence, knowing that soon the theatre would be filled to capacity. It warmed her to her core.
Jennifer smiled then, and stared into her small dressing mirror, fixing her red velvet bodice as it sparkled becomingly and drifted off her shoulder. From below her, she could hear Sarah Jamison's high pitched laughter, her shy comebacks as she mingled with the other players. Sarah was a sweetheart, no doubt about that, and much younger that she. Jennifer had always had a feeling that the young girl---up and coming--- would one day proceed her, as far as the trials and tribulations of Juliet Capulet went. She never minded it at all...
The stage creaked behind her.
"Well, don't you just look stunning..."
Jennifer nearly jumped and whirled on her heels, turning to face a similarly dressed Amanda Carson, arms folded casually across her bosom. Amanda grinned lazily and shifted her weight, rolling her tongue inside her cheek. Jennifer sighed, taking deep breaths to calm herself down, and leaned back against the dressing table.
"Mandy," she managed, trying not to look as uneasy as she felt. "What... what are you doing here?"
Amanda did not answer for a moment, merely narrowed her eyes and raised an eyebrow, as if suspicious. "Lighting check," she finally answered, offhandedly. "What are YOU doing here?"
Jennifer stared at her strangely and answered, "personal rehearsal," as shortly as she could, before turning away and heading towards the scaffold, quickly. Amanda snorted, distastefully.
It was no giant secret throughout their troupe that there had been no love lost between Jennifer, Jordan Smith's new protegee, and Mandy, Jennifer's surly understudy. The simple fact of it was that they had never had gotten along, not ever, not since high school, and certainly, not now that Jennifer had stolen the part of Juliet right out from under Amanda's nose. But besides that, they were just too different; much too different, actually. Amanda was the one who had always wanted the attention, who had always needed to be number one, even when she was seventeen and too naive to know any better. Jennifer had always just wanted to act. She never cared whether she won or lost. It was relatively insignifigant. Once, they had tried to be friends, ahwile back---but that had backfired miserably at the senior prom. Thus, those factors alone had separated them by a vast distance, a wide personality distance, and it had never shortened since graduation. And now, especially since they had been at odds over the part of Juliet, among other things, their anger had increased tenfold, exploding in Jennifer's dressing room the day before.
She had been suspicious of Amanda before, had never trusted her, but was especially wary after discovering Amanda’s knowledge of her condition. After discovering that Amanda knew about her medication. About her episodes. About things she had never told anyone----things she had no intention of ever telling anyone.
But then, Amanda was crazy, wasn’t she? Had always been and would always be crazy. Jen was sure of it now.
So this had been the first time they had spoken since their catfight, such as it was, and Jennifer's feelings had not changed since then. She STILL disliked the girl above all else, now, more than ever before. She always would. Especially after the horrible things she had said to her yesterday...Oh yes. Especially after that....
Casually, Jennifer watched Amanda. Then she eyed her more carefully
as she edged her way up the unfinished balcony set. Amanda watched
Jennifer watch her, and she narrowed her eyes from down below.
* * *
Sarah Jamison giggled and slapped her faithful--as she liked to call him---trusty companion on the back, nearly forcing the air out of him. "Ben, you lie!" she laughed, heartily. "Steve did NOT say that. He didn't."
Ben threw up his hands, surrenderingly, and his green eyes sparkled as he laughed back, "yes he did, Sari."
In return, Sarah shoved a long brown curl out of her eyes, disbelievingly. Ben ran a hand through his blonde hair and sighed, trying to sound serious for her. It was hard though, with those blue eyes of Sarah's always sparkling, and her laughter more than contagious. He tried to keep his head straight with her.. but it was hard. As everyone always put it, it was hard to keep a straight face with Sarah for long. "I swear," Ben insisted, crossing an index finger over his heart. "Steve's interested. He is---really."
Sarah grinned and paused, looking up to the rafters as a melodic voice floated down towards them.
"Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars...."
Rachel Foxworth leaned in towards Sarah, whispering, "She's practicing again, shh..." before she leaned back to carry on her quiet conversation with Claire. Sarah nodded, sheepishly, and they all noted to keep the noise level down to a low roar.
"And he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night."
Sarah closed her eyes to listen for more, loving the way Jennifer's voice played upon the words, but she seemed to have stopped speaking, for whatever reason. Ben tapped Sarah on the shoulder and opened his mouth--a smart aleky expression alighting his face. "One day, you're going to be Juliet," he said, grinning. Sarah smacked him on the shoulder.
"You moron," she said, hushed. "That's rude. Jen's the best Juliet we've had yet. She's great."
Ben smiled and folded his arms, his smirk signaling that he knew more than he let on. Sarah raised an eyebrow at him. "Oh yeah?" he asked, hushed, then looked over at Claire to make sure she wasn't listening. "You know what I heard?"
Sarah looked around, conspiratorily, and widened her eyes, always in the mood for a good intrigue. "What?" she asked, biting her lip. Ben leaned in close.
"I hear she's pregnant," he whispered rushed, then paused for effect."---with Scott's kid ." Ben leaned back and studied Sarah's expression then, folding his arms across his chest.
Sarah's eyes widened in slight horror. "You're kidding," she managed, darting her eyes over to Joey and Claire, trying to make sure noone could hear. Ben shook his head, solemnly. "My god," Sarah gasped, softly. "No wonder they were fighting yesterday... Mandy's ex husband?..." She bit her lip. "What was she thinking? Christ, Amanda’s…. she’s….she might---"
Sarah was abruptly cut off when they all heard it---a bloodcurdling scream coming from above them somewhere..
"NOOOO!" came the offending shriek, and everyone stopped talking.
"You think they're fighting again?" Claire asked, but Sarah did not respond. She only swallowed, hard, fearing something horrible was about to happen. Ben shrugged his shoulders and faced Claire, managing, "Anger culminates, I guess."
He and Sarah eyed each other, nervously. "But then," he cleared his throat. "I thought they're weren't speaking---"
But Ben never finished his sentence. By then, another scream, this one horrified, had echoed into the silent theatre air, followed, almost immediately, by a sickening thud. It rattled the stage and thundered into the orchestra pit. The shock that resonated throughout the ditch was almost palpable.
Sarah closed her eyes, terrified and nervous, and Ben took her hand to lead her out of the pit. Claire, Rachel and the rest followed, tentatively. Their nervous baby-like steps resonated among the dead quiet, disconcerting them until they could sense the eyes of the lighting crew, staring down from above them. Shocked. Mortified. Unable to even whisper. When they finally reached the top, traversing the few stairs to the main stage, silent horror overtook the lot of them.
The stage was covered in papers----various papers---script pieces, architecture plans for the balcony, casting calls, makeup, wardrobe, they were everywhere. Littering the vast expanse of the stage and the protective dome over the orchestra pit. But lying atop the mess, in a crumpled heap, was the most horrifying sight of all.
The first scream came from Claire, then another from Rachel, until, like a sick cacophony of terror, they all began to scream in unison. One after the other. Long, high pitched. Blood curdling.
But Sarah couldn't speak--couldn't move. She only shrank back, slamming right into the chest of an hysterical Mandy Carson, shreiking, "OH god! Somebody do something!!! Call 911--I think she fell!!! Oh GOD!!!!!"
Sarah stared at the girl, at the girl who had vyed with Jennifer over the part of Juliet, and backed away, nervous. Mandy's voice was horrified but her eyes----god, her eyes were cold. Dead. She knew the look. Understood it. Felt it scour every bone in her body.
Then it turned to guilt. Heartwrenching guilt.
Sarah shook her head, turning from the girl's screams, her dead eyes, and backed even further away, creeping closer in horror to stage left. Screams still erupted all around her, but she continued to step, closer and closer, right up to the edge of Jennifer's bloodied dress. She bent down next to her fallen body and stared in horror.
"Jen," she whispered, horrified, "oh god, I didn’t…"
There was no answer for a moment, and then a staggered breathing. Sarah's eyes widened and she leaned in closer, desperately looking to see if it were at all possible that Jennifer still lived. Sarah’s teeth chattered in cold terror and her breathing hitched, as she watched Jen's chest rise and fall stuttered; a sign that she would not have long. A tear rolled down Sarah's cheek and she leaned in as close as she dared, managing to catch the last words the girl would ever utter.
"Not....me.....wasn't me.... Lisa....have to warn....Casey....Da… Da-y....warn.....God help...."
But her breathing rattled once more in her chest, and then she was gone.