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XII. I'm Your Biggest Fan

It’s been two weeks since the night I was awakened. Since I have rediscovered my old self tucked within the deepest part of my mind. Since the very night I knew, Lucian for who he is. A lying, manipulative psychopath who is using me for personal gain. It’s not that I’ve forgotten everything he did in the past years up until now. Actually, I did forget some of them. He made me forget them. What I mean is that I wouldn’t have a career if it weren’t for him. I do owe him my success. Especially now that my sophomore album continues to dominate the charts since it was released. I don’t know how or why but it’s happening everywhere. Overseas, it’s also climbing up in charts. It was as if, one day, people decided that “Hey, I love Glory!” and no one could tell exactly why. Maybe it’s the power of social media. Maybe my music is really reaching places ever since I worked with a new producer. But maybe it’s really just the workings of The Grid. After all, charting systems for them can be tweaked with a few clicks.

It was not until I felt a hard steel pole hit my face that I realized how deep in thought I was. Everyone screamed as I fell down the ground, I could see them all stop dead in their places. Eyes all fixated at me on the ground. It took a second for them to move but Lucian was the first to run to me. He quickly held my face as I could clearly see terror in his. I don’t know what he’s looking for but he kept examining my face while all the people around us watched.

“Are you hurt?”
“It-It’s all right Lucian, I can take care of myself.” I tried to stand but the pain became more obvious as a sharp sting on my right eyebrow. One of the dancers who hit my head with a steel prop looked scared for me as she repetitively chanted her apologies.
“No, no we need to get that checked.” He kept on examining my face as if making sure it stayed in its place. Yeah, right. Like you actually care for my well-being.
“I said I’m fine!” I pushed him away from me and stood up on my own. He still tried to keep my balance but one glare at him and he got his hand off me.

“We can still do one take, everyone get back to your positions.” I brushed of the dust on my sides while all the dancers and props men moved to their place on the markers.

It is when the bump started bleeding that the production have to come to a full halt. All the spotlights were turned off and the set lights started glowing. It became more apparent how everything else looked dull. The design all around did not shine as much and the colors washed out. Lucian immediately brought in two nurses to help patch up the wound on the spot. I did not even have the time to leave the center while everyone else took five minutes. No one was allowed to come near me at a 7 feet radius except my manager and the two medical staff. even when the spotlight was not on me, I still felt like I was the center of everything. It was tiring. The dancer whose name I could not recall came up but stopped at exactly seven feet looking troubled and guilty, on the verge of tears.

Lucian glared at her and shouted, “Worthless piece of shit! Your life can’t even pay for what you’ve done! Get out of my sight! You’re fired!” before she could even speak.
“Lucian!” Horrified, it was the only thing I could say. Quickly, I got up right as the nurses are done patching me up to walk the poor girl out of the set. Lucian’s screams was not my concern at that moment, but the talent he just sent away was. It was not her fault I’m sure of it and Lucian was overreacting. But he controls the set. Not even the director has a final say on the direction of the music video for this first single. The talents, they’re probably kept in the dark. To them, it will be an honor to work with me and appear alongside a star in a music video. They’re going to go home and use the money they have earned to try and get other jobs. They do not see how lucky they are being in control of their destiny. I look at the girl cradling my arm on our way out. No, just like me, she’s not in control. If she was, she would not be under the mercy of an overbearing manager slash executive. She fought her way through countless auditions just to be seen a few seconds in my video. And now she has lost that opportunity. Just like that. It was not in her hands.

“I’m really sorry, Ms. Glory.” She was meek and her voice was little. Just like her height.
“This is nothing. Don’t mind Lucian. He’s just a sociopathic asshat. I’ll put in a recommendation for you so you can be in other projects. I’m sure there are other acts out there needing your talent.”
“He’s right, Ms. Glory. I blew this chance and there’s never going to be other opportunities like this.”
“Don’t say that. Nothing from what came out of his mouth is true and you know it.” I smiled at her and she blushed.
“If it is not bad to ask… how can you stand Mr. Gastrell?”
“Believe me, you’re better off.” I winked at her and opened the door only to be surprised by flashes of light. It was so bright that I could not see anything for a second. This was supposed to be the back door. How come there are lots of photographers in the way? As my eyes started adjusting, it became clear to me that these are not paparazzi or media men. It’s The Fandom.

They screamed loudly upon seeing me that it was so disorienting. I did not even notice the dancer slip away because the Fandom had my attention at once. They were packed on the beams separating us as some security stood close by. If I could count them in just one look, there were probably more than fifty of them waving posters or records for me to sign.

“Oooh girl, you are working it. Hail! Glory, hail!” One of the voices stood out. I had no doubt he was the leader of the pack. “All hail, Glory!” He chanted and the rest followed. Some of them even had harmony in their voices. It made me laugh at how stupid it was. They went crazier seeing me laugh. Queen! One from the back row screamed.

“How did you people know I’m here? It’s a closed set.” The Grid made sure no one saw us came in to this location. It was set up on a rumor that it is a private event by a businessman when it was actually just us shooting my first music video. Everything else is heavily guarded. Maybe they do allow a little slip-up. Since the guards are not doing anything about them. They simply set up beams to keep them out of the premises. It’s either these people literally follow and find out everything I do or they’re just a set up by The Grid itself. Either way, it’s creepy as hell.

“Girl, we are always here to serve you!” The Leader announced with bright eyes. Somehow, something about his tone and actions expressed sincerity. Not someone paid to be here and gather information to keep the gossip and generate buzz for my first single.
“That’s just silly. You don’t have to--” Before I could tell them off, the leader raised his voice.
“Everybody now, all hail Glory! All hail Glory!” They were so loud I think my ears began buzzing.

“Alright. Calm down, everybody.”
“Our Queen speaks! Shuussshhh!” And the leader commanded quietness to his mates which they immediately followed.
“What can I do for you?”
“Umm, girl. Don’t even try to do some reverse psychology on us. What can WE do for you?” The others chuckled.
“Well, you just have to wait until the video is out.”
“Oh my god, I’m hyperventilating. Somebody get me a fan!” The leader dramatically screamed as he used his own hands to fan himself. It was probably the corniest joke I’ve ever heard but I laughed politely anyway.

“No but for real, our Queen. If you can tease us with what the video is about, we’re going to send the internet in a frenzy. I mean, everything you do is going to make the world explode so a mere snippet of what to expect is going to be enough to like, register on the Richter scale. We seriously love your recent walks to the Downtown with that porn star. Ugh it’s like a queen visiting the slums to care for the poor. the sick, the widowed and the less fortunate. You are Margaery incarnate.” He spoke so fast I could barely catch anything he said.

“You guys knew about it?”
“Of course, my Queen! It was all over the news right after it happened! It was a beautiful moment that captured us all, lowly peasants. Just like right now! You really came out to see us despite your busy schedule.”

Nothing escapes The Fandom, now I am more aware of it. I don’t know how they started or what they see in me that brings out this behavior. I’m also a fan of other artists more seasoned than I am but I really do not follow them wherever they go or know everything they do. It’s probably because there was no social media when my idols were the stars of the game. Or probably because I had no time to waste working on my own craft in my early teenage years. My mother and I, it was just us so I also had to work on the side while going to school. Going to concerts just had no place in my schedule and financial capabilities at the time. I only started a taste of the luxurious life when Lucian picked me out of a bar after an acoustic open mic night.

They waved photos of me from the first album and for some reason, I could not recognize the face in them. It is still me, I know, but something is different from the girl’s face from how I see myself now. It is probably the luxury I’ve been living in the past three years. Makeup, lighting and total image overhaul do wonders to how people may perceive you. The album title, Innocence, plastered under my face caught my attention. I must have grown rapidly in three years.

“Are you still seeing the hot porn star?” His question caught me off guard.

Good question. I haven’t seen Jagger since we went to Downtown. Since he left me that vial of pills to take if I felt like I was in danger. And I was in danger. But there was no sign of him anywhere. The phone he left me was still in the room if I remember it right. Actually, I don’t. That night I fell asleep. Lucian and the people who brought me to the hospital.

“Was there any other news after my time at Downtown. You see, I-I don’t really look at the news. I don’t Google myself or something like that.”
“Oh, Queen. There were nothing else but reports on your groundbreaking announcement that your new single is a surprise! We were trying our best to listen to what song from the album was playing inside but god, your team is so good at keeping us in the dark!”

“You can say that again.” I muttered as I thought, they hid it from the media that I was rushed in an ambulance. Or could they be telling the truth? Was that thing I saw just a nightmare? No. I felt the pain. It was real. The vial was empty and I could remember taking Jagger’s pills. What if that was the effect of those tablets. Hallucinations. It’s hard to tell what’s real anymore when all the memories start overlapping. I felt a sharp pain in my head. The same kind I feel when I try to dig in.

“Oh, our Queen! What is that patch on your forehead? Did you hurt yourself in some elaborate dance move. Oh my god! Our queen is going to slay it in this video!” The noise they made only hurt my head more until I felt someone grab my arm.

“She’ll see you next time but we are working to give you the best show possible. Thank you for coming. You’ll all be receiving exclusive merchandise on your way out. Thank you!” Lucian faced them while the body guards assisted me back. There was swooning and cheering. I could only imagine him flashing them his fakest grin.

Just as the bodyguards dropped me in my dressing room, Lucian followed in. Before he could scold me once more, I took the chance to assert myself.

“You lied to me!” I screamed.
“Glory, what are talking about?”
“You still went through with that code 5150 in my sleep two weeks ago.”
“You need some rest. A girl foolishly hit you on your head.” He tried to put his hands on my arms but I pushed them away.
“The diversion! I’ve had enough, Lucian! How could you do this to me?”
“Glory, calm down.”

“How can you let men take me in my sleep, plug things in my brain, and torture me like I’m some prisoner!?”
“Glory, you need to lower your voice and calm down.” He slowly closed the door behind him, looking out if there was anyone listening.
“Or what Lucian, you’re going to call them again?”
“I panicked that time, okay? I had instructions that if you start becoming--”
“Becoming what? Awakened?”

The look in his eyes answered all the questions I had about that night.

“I thought you said, you love me. Was that true?” Tears welled up under my eyes.

“It wasn’t my idea.” he broke, “To put you through it again.”

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