“Have you seen The Truman Show? That’s precisely what we’re going for,” claimed an exuberant Roger McMahon. He continued,” We find a family that would willingly accept the proposition and has their child’s life telecast 24 bar 7. Here’s the catch – the kid will never know he’s being filmed. We are going to cast every single member he not only interacts with but also sees. He’ll be in an expansive and yet contained state-of-the-art film studio. We control the script, we control the circumstances, and he….. well, he’d practically be the center of the world’s attention!” He crossed his fingers and prayed that this would be his groundbreaking idea – the one that would turn the tables for him.
The board of five members he was pitching his idea to mused over it, looking at each other expectantly. Roger shook nervously as he looked at the five suit-clad businesspeople. Finally, the one in the center stood up, adjusted his tie, and said, “Okay, Roger. You have a deal. We’ll take care of the legalese and finance. When can you start?”
Roger stood on the table and took a big gulp from the bottle of champagne his staff had bought to celebrate the occasion. “We’ve literally seen the show grow! It’s all thanks to you!” came a cry from one of the multiple people in the dimly-lit room. Several others began to cheer in support of the cry. “I have to say, I could not have done this without an excellent crew like you. The idea of having such a show become a reality… It truly is odd breaking. The fact that people all over the world have seen Freddie grow from a mere toddler to this 18-year-old… Impeccable!” Roger exclaimed.
Roger laughed as he looked over onto the massive screen behind them. What was being telecast was a young man having a beer with three of his friends. They all sported a similar pair of jeans and a shirt that read “Annaville High School Seniors Batch of 2038”. The four sat along a small bridge over a stream of water that had long since gone dry. Roger raised his hands, signaling the room to quiet down. Willingly obliging, they too then turned their attention towards the screen. “Say, Freddie, you’re 18 now! Where d’ya think life’s gonna take ya?” asked one of the boys. Freddie brushed aside his long brown hair and leaned back into the grass. He stared up into the sky dreamily and sighed. “I mean, I’ve always wanted to leave this town. I’m itching to see the world, I’m itching to know what lies beyond. I want to watch those football matches live, I want to see monuments in the flesh, I want to taste the food of other continents,” Freddie let out in a burst.
“What’s stopping ya?” questioned one of the other boys. “My life is rooted here, man. I need to take care of pops and mama’s old shop. She’d hate it if I even thought of leaving our family’s store. I mean, her great-grandpa did open it ages ago, it’s practically family legacy. I can’t even make a plan to leave this town without a sudden emergency propping up. It is what it is. I’ll find a nice girl here and spend my life in one of the nice houses uptown maybe,” replied Freddie.
It was in that calm moment that a sudden alarm blared in the room. Roger was startled by the loud noise and yelled, “What’s that?” The lighting engineer, David pushed his way through the crowd and towards Roger shouting, “One of the lights portraying the starry night sky has been damaged. We need to fix it now. My tablet says it’s light D-58. That’s approximately where Freddie is lying down right now.” An immediate panic overcame the entire room and Roger jumped off the table. Accompanying David, he ran towards the service room.
“Dispatch the emergency lighting crew, it’s a code green. They need to go from above, they can at no cost be spotted by an onlooker underneath,” commanded David, as he meddled with a mess of controls that lay scattered around the room. Roger spoke into his Bluetooth headset, “Lyla, has he noticed absolutely anything?” Roger nodded in relief when Lyla responded in the negative. “Keep me updated. If he so much as squints his eyes, I want an update,” stated Roger. He leaned against the wall – could his life’s work really come crashing down in such an instant? He’d never faced such a close call in his past. Roger contemplated every decision that had led to this very minute, this minute which seemed to drag on for ages. One turbulent thought after another came rushing into his mind as his eyes glazed over his surroundings. “Sir! It was a success, we’ve handled the issue,” came a voice from the main telecom. “He’s continued to proceed with normal conversation. There is zero suspicion on his part,” confirmed Lyla through Roger’s headset.
It truly was a tight call that Roger had evaded and he was extremely tired. Despite the ongoing celebrations, he decided to call it a night. After calling the Assistant Director, who took charge of the show during the night, Roger left the control center and drove home. There was no single emotion that could aptly describe what Roger felt after the incident. On reaching home, the first person he saw was his wife Millie, whom he pulled into a tight hug and said, “I love you so much, Mil. You’ll never believe what happened today. It was just…a shocking moment that put things into perspective. My work-it almost fell apart in a matter of seconds. Do you know what I won’t let fall apart after all these years? Us.” Millie smiled up at him,” I love you too, honey. I’d like to hear about exactly what happened, but tomorrow. I’m just so tired today.”
The two walked up to their bedroom and got ready for bed. Millie tucked herself in and switched off the lights. Roger went to close the shutters, all while his mind was preoccupied about how the day unfolded. He took a deep breath and stopped dead in his tracks when it caught his eye – right there, a large, perfectly rectangular, patch in the sky completely different to the rest – starless, with no clouds and void – until it suddenly flickered back on.
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