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Sometimes Jack will have flu and will just want to lie on the bed watching terrible television shows. Sometimes those shows will be adaptations of books that also had spin-off movies starring Tom Cruise as a gigantic man who wears second-hand T-shirts.
There might be several terrible plot-holes and places where logic is flushed mercilessly down the toilet and, under those circumstances, Jack might lie there thinking of well-meaning ways to gently poke fun at things.
The resulting story might be handed to Seth who will add a dash of piss and remove a hint of vinegar. Who knows what the end result might be?
Jack and Seth to varying lesser or greater degrees
“Send in the next one!”
His voice was a sigh, a sigh loud enough to carry through the flimsy office wall to the relative absence of the same—flimsy or otherwise—in the expanded open space that extended beyond—or maybe didn’t.
The door opened a crack, and the slightly overly round face of his slightly overly round assistant peered through. She was almost moderately attractive—or maybe wasn’t—in a homely way, though your mileage may vary depending on, and not limited to, personal taste and disposition. We are not here to judge you, and if you feel judged then you’re probably just a very weak person. She still bore the scar from when her formerly conjoined twin had tried to eat her. She smiled overly roundly, a face full of fresh teeth of varying size and purpose, and said, “Your next interview is ready for you.”
The interviewer rubbed his forehead and frowned offhandedly. “Well, what’s the problem?” he snapped impertinently with a hint of rustic egregiousness.
She raised an eyebrow—it doesn’t matter which one. Actually, let’s say for clarity it was the left one. Her left, obviously. “I’m just not sure you’re ready for him,” she stated clearly for the record with the kind of charm one might expect from a lady of her stature, having recently graduated from a really good university with a B, but only just.
He rolled his eyes and experienced a sinking sensation in his chest, even though there was no water nearby. He took a sip of water. “What’s the problem this time? Too many heads? No skin? Is he made entirely from rats in a rubber human-suit?” he churned ambiguously.
“You’ll see,” she told him roundly, and her face vanished, immediately after flashing him a sardonic little grin that he could easily have missed had he been looking elsewhere at the time.
He had not.
The door slammed open suddenly and the gigantic form of a man stood in the opening. He stood a full 5 inches above 6 feet in height, and was mostly made of muscle, with a face that looked like it had been carved from rock in something of a hurry. If a jelly mould were to be made from his physique, then the flavour of the jelly would be vermillion, the colour of violence. Excessive, violence.
“The name’s Grabber,” he said. “Jack Grabber.”
The interviewer stood up, gazing fixedly at the unnecessarily huge frame of the behemoth that stood before him. He gulped. “I’m the interviewer,” he blurted skittishly. “That’s what they call me anyway, which is fair because all I do is interview people.”
Grabber took a menacing step forwards like a broken sack of leftover soup scraps. “Grabber here for interesting view.”
The interviewer frowned well-meaningly. “Indeed…” he stammered offputtingly. Things had not gotten off to the most promising start already, he mused amusedly to himself. “I mean… yes. If you mean ‘an interview,’ then you’re in the right place.”
The big man looked around, his icy gaze flashing over the sombre, rather dull office, that offered none of the interesting views he felt he had been promised. He looked like he was trying to work out if he could eat it, grinding up the furniture with his mighty, bony jaws.
“Why don’t you sit down?” the interviewer suggested cautiously, gesturing to a chair that was likely to suffer a significant degree of flexing in the imminent future. “Then we can have a chat.”
“Grabber don’t talk not much,” Mr Grabber said. “Grabber strong silent type.”
The interviewer raised an eyebrow—his right one, just to be clear. “Well, Jack, that does make it harder to have a conversation with you,” he said, measuring his sarcasm against his desire not to be beaten to death.
“Nobody call Grabber ‘Jack,’” he said. “Just ‘Grabber.’”
“No problem,” the interviewer assured him successfully with redactive verisimilitude.
He sat back down in his well worn office chair and sighed, though not loudly enough to penetrate the physical boundaries of his vocational space allowance. “I had the same thing with a man I interviewed many moons gone. His name was James… something-or-other. I had to interview lots of different versions of him over the years, for some reason. It was the same thing with a medical professional that lived in a little box. I think it was a public toilet or something. Names are confusing things.”
“Grabber,” said Grabber, pointing at himself.
“Yes,” the interviewer said, nervously sighing a nervous sigh.
“Grabber is muscular,” he added.
And true to his word, he was. The interviewer gazed at his arm for a second. It was bulging like he’d been bitten by a radioactive mosquito after a cocktail of hard drugs, space rocks and supermarket brand diet cola. “I can see that. You work out, I take it?”
“Nope!” he said, his voice akin to liquid nitrogen poured over hot rocks. If you can imagine the sound of a Dutch flautist yodelling to the funky grooves of 70s progressive rock, then it was nothing like that at all. “Grabber built this way. It’s generics.”
“I don’t think that’s how ‘genetics’ works,” he said with a frown, entering the details painstakingly into his network enabled desktop computer with a clickety clack sound like rabbits dancing on a bed of ugly spoons.
“Grabber is a smart,” said Grabber, jabbing his finger sharply into the side of his eye.
The interviewer looked up and tried not to have that fixed expression of incredulous doubt plastered all over his face. “Really?” he enthused murmorously.
“Grabber knows all 87 numbers from 1 to 100, and the names of all eleven months,” he said grimly. “Also, Grabber good at killing people. That’s what smart people does, sometimes.”
“Quite!” the interviewer sighed nearsightedly, as he entered it all into the database.
“Grabber wears T-shirt,” he told him, pointing to his top, which wasn’t a T-shirt at all.
The interviewer nodded agreeingly, even though there was largely nothing of factual value to agree against. “Of course.”
“Trouble always find Grabber,” he continued. “Some days Grabber just mindless own business, then suddenly beating up guys in a car-park in ways that aren’t really connected to the plot, but help establish Grabber’s character.”
“I see,” he grassnosed, being sure to get every beat down for the record. “Tell me about your parents.”
“Dead,” he said. “Everyone dead. Grabber all alone, and that makes Grabber interesting.”
The interviewer grimaced more inwardly than out. “It does.”
“Got anything for Grabber then?” he asked as his metal chair flexed under his mighty, ungainly form. “Grabber also like ice-cream, and favourite colour is almonds.”
The interviewer rapped his fingers on the desk while making a thinking face. “I’ll get you something,” he eventually said after several seconds had passed in real time.
“There’s always something for men like you,” he respired lamentingly. “There are always authors writing books with overpowered and unrealistic protagonists, living out their personal fantasies through their creations. You should see the state of romance fiction—it’s got the depth of a muddy puddle.”
“Books suck,” Grabber said with a heavy frown like someone had shoved a coat hanger through his face and twisted it down at both ends. “Grabber wants movie.”
“You’ll probably get one,” the interviewer shrugged with his mouth. “And a TV show. It seems like the more unrealistic the characters, the more people like them. It’s a shame you’re not black and gay—there’s a very interesting role in an action/comedy trilogy about a fast motorcycle that is much smarter than it sounds, available soon at EDGEVERSE.ORG right now! Mind you, we’ve had problems with that place. Don’t get me started!”
“Noice!” said Grabber. “That’s Grabber’s catchphrase.”
“I think I have just the thing!” the interviewer beamed smilingly. “A vacancy just came up for a fictional character in an upcoming novel. The author is tall, and often fantasises about being strong and powerful. He’s now contemplating a character of just about your size and… mental capacity.”
“A mental cable city?” Grabber snarled. “Grabber hates cables!”
The interviewer rolled his eyes so hard he could actually see bits of his own brain. “I think it’s perfect for you!” he conceded with specious aplomb. “You won’t have to stay in limbo any longer; no more floating around in the universal-consciousness waiting to be ‘imagined.’ I just need to push this big red button and you’ll be sent straight into the mind of this author, before you begin to fade.”
“Is the city completely made of cables?”
“No, no…” the interviewer grumbled discourteously. “There are no cables. Cities aren’t made of cables.”
Grabber was confused. “Grabber confused! You said it was a mental city? What manner of mental city would not be fully comprised of cables?”
“Just, no…” the interviewer sighed and grumbled to himself. “Don’t worry about it. If you take the job, the author will write your thoughts for you—you just have to read them off the cue cards. It will all be fine.”
A horrible thought occurred to the interviewer at this juncture.
“You can read, can’t you?”
“Grabber hates cables,” he said grumpily, folding his arms over his huge, barrel-chest. “Grabber once killed eight Czechslovakians with a pair of jump cables.”
The interviewer blew out a lungful of regretful air and regarded him purposely.
“You know, we all fade out eventually. If we’re not living in the hearts and souls of an audience, we just slowly fizzle away. I started out as a highly intelligent gentleman that was ideally suited to the lead role of a thought-provoking drama series, but I couldn’t find an imagination to be drawn into, or at least not one that was up to the task—a few wannabe authors had a go. But, my dialogue and thought processes were so poorly realised they had to resort to telling the readers my intentions directly through ‘adverbs.’ I also got lumbered with massive exposition dumps any time the plot wrote itself into a wall, for shame! And it’s not like anyone ever read them anyway. Eventually I faded down to this—a minimum wage job agent finding openings for characters like you. I have a pot-belly, I’ve forgotten my own name, and I can’t even take a shit anymore without verbally extending or qualifying its signification. You really don’t want to end up like me.”
Grabber made a confused face like a busted kneecap of damp pork scratchings. “You think Grabber should take this vacation?”
The interviewer nodded vehemently. “It’s either this or session work as a villain, popping up occasionally in spy thrillers so you can get beaten up by someone half your size.”
“Grabber take!” he told him sternly.
The interviewer flashed him a really wry smile. “Excellent choice. We’ll have to change your name, but only a little bit. The verb, ‘to grab’ makes for immediate solutions to immediate problems. The verb, ‘to reach’ on the other hand suggests that the solution is currently somewhat ‘out of reach,’ and that something could still go wrong, allowing for a character journey, if you know what I mean. I suggest we rename you, ‘Reacher.’”
Grabber/Reacher stretched out his arm and flexed his fingers. “Grabber good at reaching!” he gruffed. “Reacher good at grabbing too!”
“And you can read?” the interviewer checked rigorously. “I just want to be sure about this.”
“Sure. There were magazines in the waiting room, Grabber read all the pictures. Reacher read pictures good!”
The interviewer grumbled to himself kvetchingly and sadly patted his pot-belly.
“Good luck then, Mr Reacher. I hope you have better luck than I did! Now… who am I seeing next?”
“Reacher saw next guy,” growled the mighty Reacher with what might—or just as easily might not—pass for a smile passing over his needlessly rugged lips. “He wear black suit and breathe funny. His red glow stick go right through dog, now dog broken.”
“Him again!” the interviewer shook his head whimsically, but otherwise without noteworthy incident. “He says he wants to be in a romantic comedy, but his face looks like he’s made of porridge and he keeps choking people.”
“Maybe he good fit for Reacher’s movie,” Reacher suggested.
The interviewer shrugged with lackadaisical enthusiasm. “Unlikely. Someone will come up with some terrible idea for him sooner or later. If I can find a place for an animated yellow square thing with bad skin, I can find a place for anyone.”
“Noice,” boomed the mighty Reacher as he grabbed for the big red button, and was instantly gone in a puff of imagination that’s surprisingly difficult to articulate.
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