The Dark and Shadowy Places

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Places, Camera, Action!

“Action!” The disembodied voice yelled, hidden from view behind the large camera. I ran down the street, my legs pumping hard, coming closer to the cluster of abandoned cars that were arranged haphazardly on the long empty street that was cleared with barricades to stop any people from walking onto set.

I launched myself onto the trunk of one of the cars, using the bumper as a step, and jumped up onto the roof, and slid down the windshield onto the hood, and then jumped onto the car next to it. I heard a loud crack of gun shot. It made me jump, but I knew it wasn’t real. I rolled off the hood of the car and landed on the ground in a crouch just as something swooshed past me at high velocity.

Was that a real bullet? I stood and tried to look over the group of cars, wondering what was going on. “Hey!” I shouted. “What’s-“ but before I could finish my wondering aloud, another bullet zoomed past me, just grazing my shoulder and causing it to sting like a sonofabitch. “What?” I said, confused. Another crack and I jumped like a jack rabbit, and did what any frightened creature would do. I ran.

This time I ran with intent. This wasn’t for the show. This was real. I was running down the middle of the empty street again, heading towards the barricades a few blocks further down. And then I realized how stupid it was. I was right out in the open. Another shot and another bullet flew past dangerously close. I ducked as I continued to run, swerving off the street and ran in between trees that lined a park on one side. I leapt over a park bench, stumbled and fell. I stood, disoriented. This wasn’t part of the script! There was supposed to be a fight scene that I was to get into when I got to the end of the street.

But suddenly, somehow the fight was here. In the middle of a children’s playground. Two men dressed entirely in black, with balaclavas pulled down over their faces, despite it being a warm June day, vaulted from somewhere on the outskirts of the play park and over little rocking horses, and what looked like a rocking octopus. They landed silently, stealthily, like ninjas.

And then hands were slicing through the air, legs were kicking and fists were flying. I pulled out all of my best stunt-man moves, ducking, swerving, tumbling, sliding to avoid the mass of body parts that were intent, for some reason, on me alone.

I was out of breath, but managed a weak, “what’s going on?” when I found myself on the opposite side of a jungle gym, the three masked men on the other of the honey comb of climbing bars.

From somewhere to the left of the park, gun shots rang out again. I didn’t wait for an answer. I turned and continued sprinting across the small park, the size of a city block. After a few seconds I chanced a glance over my shoulder, and breathed a sigh of relief when I didn’t see the ninja men following me.

I left the tree-lined protection of the park and found myself back on the street. I ran half a block and then stopped, waiting, watching, listening. Everything was quiet. Somewhere behind me was the movie set I had just been forced to flee. I was wondering what to do next when a small black car screeched to a halt beside me on the road and the passenger door swung open. “Get inside!” a voice demanded from the driver’s side. It was a girl, dressed in jeans and a plain white t-shirt, blond hair tied back in a messy ponytail. She seemed harmless enough. I shrugged and climbed in. Being in a car was a lot safer with people shooting at you.

As soon as I closed the door, the girl slammed her foot down on the gas and the car tires squealed, trying to get a grip, and then we were flying down the street at almost 100 miles an hour. Thankfully, it was still early and the streets were still relatively quiet.

I gripped the handle of the passenger door with one hand, and my seat with the other. My knuckles turned white.

“What’s going on?” I said at the exact same time as the girl that was causing us to hurtle at break neck speeds down the streets of Portland – a dangerous enough feat normally, with the one-way road system.

The girl looked at me, shocked. “You don’t know?”

“No, don’t you?” My knuckles turned whiter.

“Well, a bit, but not all of it. I’m on the resistance. I thought you were too, that’s why those blaggards were after you, and the Coalition were shooting at you.”

Blaggards? Coalition? Resistance? I spoke my wondered questions aloud.

“Why else would you be running away from the guards?” she asked again.

“Running from them? They attacked me! They have the wrong guy. You have the wrong guy. I’m not part of any resistance. I have no idea what you’re talking about or who was shooting at me, and who those ninja guys are.”

The girl turned the corner sharply onto NW Everett Street, toward the parkway and across the bridge towards the Eastbank.

“Where are we going?” I asked, but I had an idea.

“The train station. We need to get out of here.”

“But, the movie-” I said lamely.

“Movie?” my rescuer said, confused.

“I’m…just an actor. That’s what I was doing when people started shooting at me.”

“An actor? How can you help me if you’re just an actor?” She screeched, suddenly stopping the car, reaching across me and throwing my door open. “Get out!” she yelled, anger barely contained.


“Get out!” she repeated.

I had barely unbuckled my belt when I was left standing alone on the side of the street, wondering if it was all a dream.

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