[TW: Blood and Gun Violence, neither of which I condone, especially given the atrocious political landscape that the USA is currently mired in. As with the rest of the Dream Stories series, this is spun out from a dream and is meant to be entirely humorous.]
There is no canned applause when the disheveled man takes the stage, an AK-47 in one hand and the head of some expired 90’s heartthrob in the other, sunken but still plastered with a surgical smile.
The Dolby Theater’s renowned acoustics complement the gong of each warning shot, and like the great Nicole Kidman before me, I am too immersed in the cinema of it all to dive behind a seat.
“Enter the will of the people, stage left!” squawks the man with far less baritone than his bullhorn gun. He shoos with the head still clenched by its stiff quiff, flicking the comedian offstage with jugular stud’s blood. Her shriek splits the stale air dispersed by her scattered notes, a livelier performance than anything else gasped out in years. She smacks the floor as her polite jokes are atomized into illegible letters by another ear-splitting blast.
But still, this can’t be happening. The crowd is frozen— how captivating a performance! The whole audience joins me outside the fishbowl despite the semiautomatic muzzle snarling in our direction. And this isn’t my party, anyways— my name tag says “collateral damage,” and my invitation rolled out of a raffle cage.
“No more movies, give me cinema! I want to be swept off my feet, not showered in your patronizing mundanities rained down from atop a gilded throne! The people want a culling, not a coddling. Down with mediocrity, I say! Death to the sheep-shaman— death to the Oscars!”
Finally, I lurch to my feet with the screaming tsunami of the crowd, like Beatlemania or D23. I run synchronized inside a beefcake sandwich, flanked by riot shields in padded suits. Spittle shot first, before bullets and blood, accompanied by Cinemascore hot takes:
“Not you, Jessie Buckley! Your performance in I’m Thinking of Ending Things was truly rousing! Shook me to my core— watch out!”
“Die, you Pixar pigs! Unionize Marvel Studios animators!”
“Shit, that one wasn’t meant for you, John David Washington! You’ve got a promising ascent to stardom ahead— someone get this man an ambulance!”
And still, the aquarium glass hasn’t broken, though bones and bodies fall left and right. Shoe-shine and gun smoke make the atmosphere sting, yet I’m washed towards the door all the same. Storytellers and thespians lead the charge down a newly-reddened carpet, heroes shoving themselves ahead of the innocent.
All at once, things magnetically snap into place. Beat by beat, I fall too close to Zoë Kravitz’s backside, and am slashed across the face by acrylic nails, the pain distracting from a rupture that rips across my shoulder. The measure ends with blood in my eyes and cotton in my veins as I trip over a thigh flexed through blue slacks. Between the blood loss, I somehow have time to blush— being nose-to-nose with Chris Evans will do that, no matter how close to death’s door he is.
My words bluster forth over the cacophony that echoes even in my own skull:
“Oh my god, Chris, Christopher Robert, can I call you Chris, you need to get up Chris, Chris, put pressure on your abdomen Chris, that cummerbund can be replaced but you need to stop the bleeding Chris, no matter how good it looks, and it looks good, by the way, but not as good as that crewneck you wore in Knives Out, you were the only reason I went to see that stupid movie, I hated the Last Jedi, Rian Johnson doesn’t deserve redemption and he doesn’t deserve you, Chris—”
“Kid…” he coughed handsomely. “Kid… get off…”
“—I never thought I’d get a chance to say this, Chris, but you were my bisexual awakening, and it’s so embarrassing and I never told anyone because you’re like so vanilla, you didn’t even have a beard in that movie, and that’s just not my vibe, but no one’s ever done wholesome doggo pics better than you, and I know you’re not really a douche under there, Chris, and I’d really like to get to know you a second longer, Chris, so—”
His bicep, like an Angel’s buttocks to the face, smacked my stinging cheek back to the carpet below.
“Kid… I need to get to the stage, kid. I’m gonna teach this punk a lesson.”
The bullet was just where I was, almost at his nose, when I’d scrambled away on all fours. I swam back towards the sea of suits, jostling and jumbling to wash away the Chris-viscera that looked like gold-plated confetti in the back of my mind. Like sequined zebras, the herd dizzies my already frenetic footfalls, but I’m going to make it, I am. I may be small, but I’m going to make it. I’ll go to my hometown tomorrow, maybe visit the old high school— ask the other fish where they think the Oscars will be held next year.