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LJ Idol X - Week [13] - We All Enter

Mike looked out at the auditorium starting to fill. There always were types and they, unsurprisingly, almost predictably, clung to each other as they selected their seats.

There were the people who were here before, ready to jump on the questions as they were asked. They were the showoffs, the people who wanted to be big shots, look like geniuses to the rest of the class here for the first time. Mike had to give them a little due, since they paid yet another fee to attend the seminar. Nothing wrong with that. That cash was twice and sometimes thrice as nice.

There were the folks who really didn’t know if this was for them or not. Maybe they were encouraged to try it by a sibling or friend or parent or lover. They might be good or they might just be killing time.

There were those that were compelled. They knew this is what they wanted, but they haven’t had the chance to get fully immersed. This would be a real test for them.

Mike looked at his TA.

“Thirty seconds!” she called.

Still a number of people chatting in the upper hallway at the top of the auditorium. A few began to descend the stairs and look for a place to sit that would disrupt the fewest people.

Notebooks and pens, and at least a couple of recording devices came out of bags and backpacks.

“Fifteen!” Called the TA. What was her name? Jenny? Jamie?

Mike wandered over to her desk and looked at her very neatly kept notebook. It was Josie, who was holding both hands above her head, fingers spread.

“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two…”

A beat, and then the class bell rang, right on cue.

Mike moved to center. “Take your seats everyone. Take your seats right now. First available seat. Take it.” Mike watched them scatter like roaches in a kitchen late at night when the lights came on, unexpectedly.

“My name is Mike Ulysses, and I welcome you to the seminar, ‘Writing for Film and Television.’ If this is not the seminar you signed up to attend, please exit as quickly and hopefully a bit more quietly than you entered.”

A couple of people shuffled towards the exit, but most remained seated, still scrambling to take out pens, paper, computers and tablets.

“A few provisos before we begin. No Videotaping. No audio taping. If I come across anything posted online from this course, or if I hear about someone who didn’t attend able to recite information from this course, I will track you down and kill you with my bare hands.”

Several people around the room put their cell phones in bags and pockets.

An eager young female student raised her hand. Mike saw her in his peripheral vision. He thought he remembered her from a previous seminar. Why wouldn't she know the rules? He did not acknowledge her, but kept staring straight ahead.

“No questions. This is a lecture. If, at the end of the lecture, you do not understand something, I will have a Q and A session, but it’s pointless,” Mark turned and stared directly at the young woman, “to ask anything before we have even begun.” She lowered her hand.

Josie glanced out at the class, scanning to see if any other video or audio devices were visible. She nodded approval.

“It is up to you to be prepared to do the work when you arrive. If you are missing a pen or don’t have a notebook or you forgot to charge the battery of your computer or your phone, Ess – Oh – El. Sit quietly and hope you have a good memory or if you’re friends with someone else, maybe they’ll share their notes, although I don’t know why they would. That would be like helping your enemy gain strength and support when you know they’re going to be going against you later.”

Mike walked back to the center of the stage. “I want you to take a look at two of your neighbors, two people seated right near where you are.”

Mike leaned on his lectern while his audience glanced around at their fellow students. “One of you will never actually use any of the material in this course for anything. One of you will get work in the business, maybe by reading scripts and creating coverage. Maybe by being on staff of a weekly or continuing series, possibly contributing to an episode or writing scripts, solo. And possibly one of you will become a player: someone who creates films and shows, someone who Hollywood desperately wants and needs.” Mike made a dramatic pause.

“Which one are you?”

The same young woman who raised her hand earlier, did so again.He knew she had been in class before, but he didn't recall her being such a troublemaker, previously.

“That was a rhetorical question,” Mike said, signaling for her to put her hand down. She was slower to react, but again, put her hand down.

“Let’s briefly talk about overviews – what are people currently buying?” Mike nodded to Josie who touched a tablet and the projected screen became illuminated with a chart.

“Energy Transfer, people.” Mike paused while his audience scribbled and typed. “If you don’t feel it when you’re writing it, no one is going to feel it when you read it or see it.”

“Okay, two big genres that are ripe for breaking into film are sex comedies and horror.”

Mike paused to let the scribblers catch up.

“Low budget, effective, smart way to get a script up and running.”

Mike paused while Josie flashed to the next slide in the presentation.

“But it’s also notable that a lot of the time, studios are looking for a franchise. Not just one film, but a universe where a series of films can take place. Think of ‘Fast and Furious,’ ‘Transformers’ and ‘Avengers.’”

The same young woman raised her hand again.

“Most studios are looking for material adapted from another medium, because there is an audience built in. Think of ‘Twilight,’ ‘Hunger Games,’ ‘Harry Potter.’”

Mike chuckled to himself that there might be a Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins or J.K. Rowling seated before him. He saw that the young woman still had her hand raised. He rolled his eyes at Josie and signaled for her to go to the next slide.

“There is an old adage – ‘Write What You Know.’ Throw that away. Today, you need to ‘Write What Means Something To You.’”

Mike finally turned to the young woman. "Miss?" and gestured for her to stand. As he did, she dropped her pencil on the floor in front of her. She slowly bent at the waist, giving him a chance to look down her low-cut T shirt.

“Congratulations! You have my attention!” Mike called to her.

“I bet I do!” she exclaimed.

"So, speak loudly enough for everyone to hear what you have to say."

“I have this idea for a sex comedy, where a professor meets a very cute student and they accidentally sleep together.”

“I see,” Mike nodded, trying not to giggle. “I don’t want you to give away the plot of this blockbuster film, so let’s not talk about details. What did you want to ask, or what statement did you want to make?”

Suddenly the room jolted, like a brief but strong earthquake tremor registered. When he looked back at the woman, he noticed the writing on her shirt: “Abandon Hope.” And Mike swore he saw what appeared to be two horns starting to protrude from her forehead.

“Just a statement, Mr. Ulysses: go to Hell.”

A fissure opened in the floor where Mike was standing, with the glow of amber and red. Before he could even make a sound, Mike had slipped into the abyss, sealing itself back up once he was gone.

“I would check with the registrar about getting a refund for this useless class,” the unnamed woman said, walking to the nearest exit. “There’s a special place for instructors like that, and he just found his.”

Josie was the first person out of the room.

//

This short story was written for LJ Idol, using the prompt: Abandon hope, all ye who enter here

Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
adoptedwriter
Mar. 27th, 2017 01:39 pm (UTC)
This is great!
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:29 am (UTC)
Thank you and thanks for reading and a lovely compliment!
i_17bingo
Mar. 27th, 2017 01:44 pm (UTC)
I did not see that ending coming. I mean, I knew Mike was a bit of a twat, but I didn't realize he was that bad.
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:31 am (UTC)
I always err on the side of brevity, so if the piece were slightly longer, I would have done more with the interaction of teacher and offended student! But thanks. Mike was a bit of a twat!
m_malcontent
Mar. 27th, 2017 02:55 pm (UTC)

Wow, another excellent entry.  Some classes are hell to get into

penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:31 am (UTC)
It gives new meaning to the phrase "drop/add!" Thanks so much!
d0gs
Mar. 27th, 2017 03:23 pm (UTC)
haha i love this - so clever and humorous too :D
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:33 am (UTC)
And your Halloween '63 piece was so evocative and great. I would have posted it there but for some reason I couldn't find the "comment" button!
d0gs
Apr. 4th, 2017 07:24 am (UTC)
aww thank you so much, I'm really glad you enjoyed it :D

oops, that was totally my fault. I had the "comment" as a "+" but changed it back because I could see it was too small :x
roina_arwen
Mar. 28th, 2017 05:19 am (UTC)
Awesome! Great use of the prompt!
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:33 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading and commenting!
rayaso
Mar. 28th, 2017 06:07 pm (UTC)
This was great! I started out wondering what the class was for, and then you gave us that great twist of an ending. Even with the initial provocative comments, and I didn't think Hell was in the teacher's future!
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:35 am (UTC)
Thanks very much. It was natural to me to relate writing to hell, at times, especially when it's for film and television!
mamas_minion
Mar. 29th, 2017 03:51 am (UTC)
Wonderful, love what you did with the prompt.
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:36 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading and a great compliment.
shadowwolf13
Mar. 31st, 2017 01:03 am (UTC)
What a perfect twist!!
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:37 am (UTC)
Thanks very much!!
dmousey
Mar. 31st, 2017 09:58 pm (UTC)
Beware! A woman scorned... hehehe. Well done. Hugs and peace~~~
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:38 am (UTC)
Heh... especially if she has supernatural powers!! Thanks so much!
eternal_ot
Apr. 1st, 2017 02:07 pm (UTC)
Haha. I didn't see that twist coming. Superb take! You sure made me hate Mike before I reached the end. Good work!
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:39 am (UTC)
Great! Then the effect worked!! Thanks so much for reading and your lovely compliment.
sinnamongirl
Apr. 1st, 2017 08:55 pm (UTC)
Nice work!!
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:39 am (UTC)
Thanks very much!
bleodswean
Apr. 2nd, 2017 05:09 pm (UTC)
Heh. I actually was getting to like Mike. A prof who has a handle on the pesky hand waving type. Oh, well. ;)

Great use of dialogue here - one of your impressive strengths!
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:40 am (UTC)
Well, Mike's advice as offered here is actually sound! Sex Comedies and Horror films are two of the best ways to break into film. But I guess I wonder how many of those we really need? Thanks so much for reading and for your very kind words.
marlawentmad
Apr. 2nd, 2017 08:30 pm (UTC)

What a great turn of events!

penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:41 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading along and for a great compliment!
fodschwazzle
Apr. 2nd, 2017 08:49 pm (UTC)
It's rough when professors still try to do it the old way and are hostile about the idea of actually being teachers. It's rougher when upcoming professors learn from people like this and go on to do exactly what was done to them. I liked the buildup here, especially.
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2017 01:45 am (UTC)
You're right - sometimes the process can make for more and more bad instructors... in this case making writing more of a job and less of a joy. Thanks for your thoughts and your wonderful compliment!
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )

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