The Rising Star
In a crowded TV studio, an audience cheer loudly as the cameras pan through them; showing their beaming/enthused faces on several monitors. Many adorn shirts with a smiling brunette, with the caption “UP LATE WITH KATE” slightly hidden behind her.
“Are you ready, ladies and gents?!” asked a disembodied voice over the speakers. “Then give it up for Kate Reynoooooooooolds!!”
The cheering grew into a roar, as the brunette on their shirts came strutting from behind a blue glitter-caked curtain, accompanied by the sultry music of a six-man band on the other side of the studio. She smiled and waved to her fans, as she took her place behind a large wooden desk.
“Thanks to those of you who came out,” said Kate, as she blew her audience a kiss. “And thanks to our viewers at home who've managed to stay up at this ungodly hour.”
She waited for the brief round of laughter to end, before she continued. “We have a great show for you tonight. We'll have Ron Howard out in a while to talk about his new movie coming out in theaters soon. We'll also be listening to the up and coming pop star, Lily Allen. But first, he's a war hero, international activist and a senatorial candidate in the next upcoming election. Please, give a big welcome, for Damien Thorn!”
More cheers and applause, as Damien Thorn took the stage; dressed in a pinstriped suit with a T-shirt underneath with the latest Kevin Smith movie on it. He too waved and smiled at the audience, as he took one of the oversized chairs beside Kate's desk.
“Thank you for having me,” said Damien, as he nodded his thanks to the audience.
“Thank you for coming. It's not everyday we have a candidate of anything on the show. In fact, your the only one.”
Damien laughed along with the crowd, before he said, “Well Kate, I'm not like the other candidates who're afraid to enjoy themselves in the public eye. Plus, I've been a fan of yours for quite a while.”
Kate found herself blushing, as the audience oohed and laughed. “Keep that up and I'll make sure you're booked every night.”
“I'd be more than happy. Which hotel were you thinking?”
Kate's eyes widened, as another round of oohs flushed through the audience, followed by shouts of encouragement. “Your approval rating just went up in my book. But this is something I'd like to talk to you about. You're known for your humor and jovial attitude, while running your campaign. Some think you're not taking this seriously.”
“I've heard that before, many times. The best way I can explain it is... I'm not fake. I'm not going to attempt tricking voters into liking someone I'm not. Even though I want to stand up for the people and make sure their voices are heard, I'm still quite young and want to enjoy my youth while I have it.”
“Doesn't this give credence to your opponents accusations that you're unfit for any kind of office?”
“Quite the contrary. I may be younger than my opponents, but I've been involved in politics for a long time. My parents raised me with the understanding how the system works and what needs to be done to fix it.”
Cheers and applause.
“Touching on your age again, you give new meaning to “hit the ground running”. You enlisted right out of school and ended up becoming a hero not even a year into your tour.”
Damien's face became stoic, as he said, “There were countless heroes in this war and many of them go unknown and forgotten. All I did was survive.”
Kate swallowed a heavy lump of nerves, before her next statement. “For those who don't know, you and your platoon were ambushed and you managed to come out of it alive and miraculously unharmed; pretending to be dead, while they left with their dead and injured. Then, you had to trek through the desert, until you came across an American friendly village. Pardon me for saying, but that sounds heroic to me.”
Damien blushed at the deafening thunder that was the audience; some cheering, some crying and many chanting “USA”.
The rest of the interview went smoothly from then on. Both Damien Thorn and Kate Reynolds continued to joke and laugh, while touching on several serious issues. He showed himself to be well educated and knowledged on his key issues.
As the interview neared it's end, Kate took a deep breath. “Now, I hate to bring this up, but you've actually had an attempt on your life recently. Some random person tried to stab you?”
“Yeah, that was insane,” answered Damien, as he grimaced with a smile. “I can't say I understand it; guy just charged me backstage after a rally and tried giving me the shiv. My friend Harvey got hurt, but thankfully it wasn't serious.”
“Does anyone know why?”
“Not a clue. He was ranting and raving about the Devil and God. I can only assume he's some religious fanatic with some issues. Now, I'm not saying it was some terrorist attempt on my life; we have our own fanatics over here too.”
“Well, I'm glad your still with us today and thanks again for coming on our show.”
“Pleasure was all mine.”
The audience expressed their acceptance and respect loudly, as Damien rose to his feet and waved at them, as he exited the stage. Once behind the curtain, he was greeted by a bald man with glasses.
“That was great Damien. You really won them over.”
“Of course I did, Harvey,” said Damien, as he threw an arm around him. “I have a helluva campaign manager. Anything else tonight or do I actually have some time to myself?”
“Nope, we're good for now. Just don't forget: Leno tomorrow and Letterman the next.”
“If I must,” sighed Damien, before bringing Harvey in closer. “Any word on the nutjob who tried to stab me?”
As they rounded a corner, Damien saw Kate Reynolds dressing room. “Hey Harv, I'm gonna stick around to have a chat with Miss Reynolds. You go on and get some rest.”
“Sure thing, Damien,” said Harvey, as he left his friend.
Once Harvey was gone, Damien's jovial expression deadened, as he let himself in. He sat himself in one of the comfortable chairs and crossed his legs and began his wait.
Further backstage, Harvey Dean continued to jaunt pass the TV crew and PA's, when something caught his eye. Down the narrow corridor, an Asian woman with a headset and clipboard stared at him intently. She nodded her head toward a curtain, before walking behind it. Harvey fixed his tie, as he followed.
He found himself on an empty set – similar to Kate Reynolds' – where the woman had set her board and headset on the host's table.
“It's been a long time, brother,” said the woman.
“Indeed it has, Neres,” Harvey responded, as he removed his glasses and tucked them in his jacket. “Did Klatus send you? I have not spoken to him in some time, as well.”
“Brother seemed vexed, when he saw you last. I felt it necessary to see you myself. Rumors spread of your absence. Your schemes and machinations near Father's own; you can see why we worry.”
“Then ease your mind. I've merely taken a liking to this world; it holds qualities even home cannot provide me.”
“My eyes do not deceive me, as you would, dear Paden,” Neres stated, as she rounded the table slowly. “Tis not this world that enthralls you, but that doll. How could such a pathetic creation hold sway over you?”
Harvey/Paden sighed, as he shook his head. “I grow weary of having my intentions questioned. I allow it from Klatus; he is an innocent youth who does not question Father's reign. You, on the other hand, know all too well the yoke he holds over us. Does it not anger you? Are you so diminished, you do not wish for something anew?”
“Do not speak to me being diminished. You are weak, brother. I can see now why Klatus was so upset. Come home and renew you strength.”
Paden looked to the floor and breathed deep. “You talk of deceit and yet you try to hide your true intentions.”
“What is this insult?”
Paden took of his jacket and dropped it to the floor. “You have always been loyal to Father,” he said, as he reached into his pant pocket. “So loyal are you, you savor the chance to appease him as a dog would appease it's master.”
“Your words sting my heart. Where does this venom come from?”
“From your betrayal,” answered Paden. “You wish for me to return, so you may hand me over to Father and tell him of my time here.”
“I would never-”
“I know you, Neres,” Paden interrupted, as he withdrew a dagger from his pocket. “So aroused are you for his favor, you would not consider my pain his wrath would bring unto me.”
“You do indeed know me,” said Neres, as he looked at the weapon in his brother's hand. “But you would attempt to have me undone by such a thing?”
“Best to say, I have a theory I wish to prove. Should this fail me, then you may take me back and I will sing your praises to Father myself. If I am right-”
Neres lunged at Paden, ignoring his brother's offer.
Paden's eyes watered, as he said, “Damn you, brother.”
Neres stopped just before his brother; an impact on his chest halting his progress. He looked down to see the dagger sticking just below his doll's breast, as a strange sensation rose from within.
“What is this?” asked Neres. “Something strange stirs inside me.”
“It is pain, brother,” answered Paden, as he held him in his arms and gently set him upon the table. “I felt it touch me, when I stopped one of them from ruining my plans.”
“I never knew such a thing existed.”
“Nor I,” said Paden, as he cradled Neres' head. “But what you feel next will be more foreign to you than anything you've ever experienced.”
“What is it? What other wonder could you possibly bestow?”
Black tears streaked down Paden's cheeks, as his bottom lip quivered.
“I-I was never one for dramatic pauses,” said Neres, as his breathing became shallow. “Please, brother. I wish to know.”
“Soon.. you will feel what it is... to die.”
“Truly?”, asked Neres, in awe. “Is such a thing possible?”
“I believe it so. I believe the Great Betrayer put his kiss upon this blade.”
“I-I see,” he said, as his body began to tremble.
“What is it you feel, brother? I must know.”
“I feel coldness the likes I have never felt. There is a welling in my chest, as though I feel... I feel like I do not wish to die.”
“It will pass,” stated Paden, as he lifted Neres into his shoulder and held him tight. “All will pass.”
Paden's grip was unrelenting, until Neres was still; never to move again. After an eternity, he rested his brother on the table once more and looked into his eyes. Nothing. Nothing remained within; not even the doll's soul. He withdrew the dagger and wiped it on the empty woman's shirt.
He now knew the true power it held; the power to undo all creation.
Even that of his Father.