Neovision Superstar: Part Four
Confusion enveloped me, and most likely my mother as well, the second we passed through the gray doors. There were shouts of “Makeup here, NOW!” and “I need film! Where is my film?”
Neopets of every species and color flew by us both, wearing concerned expressions. The inside of the building was filled with dark catwalks above us, and white walls separating different filming areas. It was like a large warehouse, all in all. A small desk with an unpleasant-looking Acara was sitting in the middle of it all, looking quite out of place. He glanced at us. “How can I help you?”
“I’m here to audition for the ‘Neopian Chronicles,’” I told him, trying not to show how nervous I was. I'm pretty sure my shaking voice gave it away, though.
“Section J, area 2, talk to Mr. Bines,” he replied in monotone. My mother and I exchanged rueful looks.
We went left, noticing a sign that dictated where to go. The other Neopets pushed and shoved us along, each with their own mission. We passed some of the filming areas, and I saw both commercials and new series being made.
“Use Usuki-Hair products!” shouted one Usul into a strange device. I had never seen anything like it- it was a black box-type thing that had a lens at the end, directed at the Usul.
“Section H... Section I... Section J!” my mother exclaimed. “This is it!”
Other than the rest of the Sections that were simply in the warehouse-like building with white walls surrounding, this instead had a door built into the wall. Carefully, we opened the door. Steps led downwards.
The dark, twisting staircase was remarkably scary, and no one else traversed it. After all of the shouting and yelling, the silence was unnerving. There was a light at the very end- it opened wide to a hallway.
There was a makeshift sign with an arrow on it saying, Neopian Chronicles Auditions. We followed the hallway left. The lighting was dim, coming from torches on the side. It made me feel like I was already on a Neovision set!
Our dim footsteps echoed around us. Doors in equal intervals lined the walls, but no one came in or out of them.
Another sign pointed us to turn right. Were we in a maze? No... there was eventually a sign on a door with NEOPIAN CHRONICLES AUDITIONS printed on it. I opened this door more quickly than the last, excited.
It had a striking resemblance to a hospital waiting room, I noted. The walls and doors were all white, with occasional paintings of scenery lining them. Various Neopets along the sides of the walls filled chairs, each one conversing with another. They all looked up at my mother and I but then went back to their conversations.
On the opposite side of the room a secretary was behind a check-in counter. She had on thick glasses, making her Buzz head look even bigger than it already was. She motioned to us.
“Welcome to Neopian Chronicles Auditions,” she said quickly. “Sign in here, take a number and wait.”
“What do you mean, we wait?” my mother asked, leaning on the counter. “We’re on time!”
“So were they,” she replied, jerking her head in the other Neopets’ directions. “That’s show business; you rush to wait around. Next, please,” she called. I moved out of the way when a Shoyru pushed me to the side.
The door next to the counter suddenly opened, and a brown Lupe peered out. “Lyran, McKenzie,” he called. A Xweetok stood on my right. She smoothed out her fur, and went with him. I quickly sat down in her chair, my mother taking the one extra one to my right.
“Here’s our number, Hillary,” my mother told me, handing me a card which said Thirty-two.
“Thirty-two!” I yelped. “That’ll take hours!”
“So I guess we wait,” she said.
Frequently Neopets came out of the door next to the counter, usually sobbing or looking downcast. Every time the brown Lupe opened the door, my heart sped up. They were in the late twenties for calling numbers... thirty...
“Thirty-one!” the Lupe called, and the Neopet with the corresponding number went with him.
“You’ll be fine,” my mother said, putting a paw on my shoulder. “Relax.”
I took a deep breath.
When another Neopet came through the doors looking sullen, I knew that I was next.
“Thirty-two!” the Lupe called. I rushed to stand.
“I’ll stay here,” my mother whispered.
I felt a twang- I knew she was right in staying, but I wanted her to stay with me. Taking another breath, I approached the brisk-looking Lupe. “Hurry,” he said, and closed the door behind me.
The hall was lengthy, long and painted a blinding white. From being in the moderately lit waiting room to the hall, my eyes burned with discomfort.
Once again, doors lined the walls. They were all closed, and placed sporadically. Some had plates with names molded into them- while being whisked away I could see things like “Director” and “Producer” written on the black plate with gold writing.
“Here we are,” the Lupe said after walking three-quarters of the hall. He clapped his paws together. This door had no plate- just a doorknob. He opened it and ushered me through.
The walls were luckily not as painful- just a dull gray that was devoid of color. It was surprisingly small, even smaller than the waiting room. To my immediate right was a white sheet that hung from a wall, and in front of it a black box-thing with a lens of some sort protruding from it. The only aesthetic part of the room was a small plant to my left. It looked incredibly out of place.
Situated at the back of the room in front of me looked like a panel of judges- a Uni, Scorchio and Lenny sat behind a long wooden desk. Paper, clipboards, and pencils were strewn around them. They looked annoyed, bored, and ready to pass out from exhaustion all in a single moment.
“You, Benk?” asked the Uni with a snappish tone. I was slightly taken aback at the use of my last name. I nodded.
“Speak up, girl!” the Lenny crooned. “You’re here to try out for our show, eh? Let’s see what you’ve got.”
The three looked at me as if I was supposed to do something. I stared back at them, unblinking.
“Get in front of the screen, Ms. Benk,” the Scorchio said with a slightly kind voice.
“Yes, sir,” I said, and did so. I noticed that the brown Lupe who had escorted me to the room moved to behind the judges. He pulled a lump of papers from the table, and put them in my paws.
“Read the part of Elizabeth,” the Uni said. “Straight to the camera.”
“The camera?” I asked, confused. What in all of Neopia was a camera?
The Lenny threw back his wings and leaned backwards in his chair, exasperated. “None of them know what a camera is!” he exclaimed.
I shifted, nervous. I had never even heard of that word before!
“The technology is new,” the Uni said dryly, then turned to me. “The camera is that black box there. Ever wonder how things get put on the Neovision set? They don’t just appear. You need cameras.”
I let it all sink in- it was true; I hadn’t thought about that.
“The camera is devised from a piece of Frank Sloth’s own inventions, actually,” the Uni continued, throwing her mane to the side. “Sloth would record his prisoner’s movements with boxes like these. Recently, a journalist had the misfortune of being thrown into such a cell, and he took note of the boxes. Seeing as he was there for months, he managed to unhook one. When he was finally released, he brought the box back hidden within his bags. Recently, researchers had developed how to convert the camera’s recordings to the Neovision set.”
The Lenny leaned forwards. “Neovision is remarkably new, Benk. It’s only been developed in the past few months. Enough history. Read the part of Elizabeth, please.”
I opened the script, and found the first page. Elizabeth was one of the main characters, and she had many, many lines. I gulped, and started.
I could do this.
“It- It is so-so har-hard to be myself the-these days,” I choked, reading the first line. The words seemed to dance on the page, taunting me. Why couldn’t I say them correctly? I swallowed and continued. “Betwe-between Mother’s wo-worrying a-and Fa-father’s ill-illness-ness, I-I have naught ti-time to think of-of myself!”
I looked at the judges- they all gave me impassive looks, unimpressed looks. The Scorchio finally spoke.
“Ms. Benk, I do believe that practice is in order. If you –ahem- made the part, you will receive notification via Neomail. Have a nice day.”
The judges returned to the clipboards- all three of them wrote an x, I saw. I felt tears welling up behind my eyes. What just happened?
“Come with me, Ms. Benk,” the brown Lupe said, reappearing beside me. He took my shoulder and steered me towards the door.
The walk back to the waiting room was long and torturous- what would my mother think?
When the door opened, I threw myself at my mother in a hug, a sob escaping from me. She stiffened, and then returned the hug. I didn’t care if the others in the room stared at me- my dreams were slowly eroding before me.
Was my dream of being on Neovision suddenly demolished? I didn’t know the answer.
To be continued...