Whim Notes posted this picture prompt, asking for a description of the action, but I took off with it in a completely different direction. In the process I also dumped the 500 word limit. I have failed, but hopefully the story’s enjoyable.
Warning: this piece has some language, but since it involves the film industry, it’s probably toned down from reality.
“Cut, cut, CUT!” the director yelled. His bullhorn shrieked with feedback on the last word. He grabbed his baseball cap and flung it down on the snow. “Goddamn it, people– first the spearmen charge, then the axe-men, then the fucking snow-tiger. Everybody back to their start positions– we’re going to do this bastard until we get it right!”
The AD came running over, galumphing in his snow-boots. “Boss, it’s noon.”
“Union rules say we gotta give them lunch…”
“Dammit!” the director said. “Goddamn union!” He stood with his hands on his hips. It looked for a moment as if he were going to argue; then his shoulders slumped in resignation. “Fuck– all right. Thirty minutes for lunch.”
“Thirty minutes, people!” the AD yelled.
The actors, talking among themselves, streamed away from the shooting area toward the catering trucks, parked off-camera. Colm fell in step with Padraic. “Thought he’d never call for a break,” Colm said.
“Harold!” the director yelled. “Where’s my goddamn coffee?”
“I think he’s had more than enough already,” Padraic said. Colm suppressed a giggle.
As the actors clustered around the trucks, grips moved the tracked cameras back to their original positions. Cameramen, wearing caps with “Elf Wars IV” stitched on them, put their cameras on standby, to keep them from getting too cold. The animal wranglers leashed the snow-tiger and led it back to its holding pen. It snarled, ill-tempered.
“That cat’s going to eat somebody yet,” Colm said.
“Well, this guy said he wanted practical effects rather than CGI,” Padraic said. “If the beast does eat somebody, they’ll probably use the footage.”
Colm and Padraic elbowed their way into the press at the trucks. Both of them ladled minestrone soup into Styrofoam cups and grabbed breadsticks. After days of shooting on this Canadian glacier everyone wanted hot dishes and soup– the yogurt and fruit available went begging.
“I tell you,” another actor told someone, “this guy’s a real auteur. He’s gonna revive the franchise.”
“You mean the guy’s a real asshole,” Padraic muttered, as he and Colm walked away from the crowd, sipping their soup.
Colm laughed. “Can’t complain too much, though– we’re both working.”
They found a rocky outcropping free of ice. They sat down and ate their soup and bread. From here they could look out of over the valley of the Fraser River. Below the glacier evergreen-covered slopes ran down toward the river, a bright thread through the dark woods.
“This is beautiful,” Colm said.
“Yeah,” Padraic said. “You know, our folk used to roam through this whole country, before the Russians came.”
“I’d heard that. I can see why.”
Padraic sipped his soup. “I’m glad to be working, Colm, however much a jerk this director is. I haven’t told you, but– Debbie and I are back together.”
Colm looked at his friend in surprise. “Really? For good?”
“I think so,” Padraic said. “And I really want to make it work. It’s important.” He hesitated. “She’s pregnant.”
“Oh, man,” Colm breathed. “That puts a different spin on things. Have you told your family?”
“Not yet. I’ve been holding off. They’re so traditional.”
“Yeah, mixed marriages and all. But if there’s a grandchild– that’ll have to be a selling point, won’t it?”
“I think so,” Padraic said. “Anyway, I’m planning on telling them once this gig is done.”
“I’ll be praying for you,” Colm said, solemn.
Padraic laughed. “You do that. Jerk. At least I’ll have some money in the bank after this.”
“Yeah, it’s been a windfall for all of us,” Colm said.
Padraic snorted. “No kidding– we’re the biggest practical effect of all.”
“Well, you know what they say.” Colm stood, brushing his long hair away from his pointed ears. “Only elves can really play elves.”