Bunny sits on the edge of Tempest bed. The room itself is quiet, but the voice of George Stephanopoulos whispered to it from somewhere within the farm. A maggot falls from beneath one of the buttons that makes up the eye of the corpse doll.
(VO)Morgan Freeman as Dead Rabbit:
Phear was a phunny thing.
There is the disembodied sound of someone shuffling followed but the muffled of gargling.
(VO)Morgan Freeman as Dead Rabbit:
Excuse me. Fear was a funny thing. It’s presence in our lives was unmistakable. We try with all our power and all our might to suppress our fears, but we all know, fear finds a way.
"This is it, Jacky,” she looks down at the notecard in her trembling hand, whispering to herself. “The moment you’ve been waiting for. Nothing to be afraid of.”
Jaclyn Pierrot has her hair pinned back neatly in a loose, flowing beehive. She has traded in her blood-stained clothing for a ravishing green and white polka dotted vacation dress. She picks her feet up off the ground, dropping them onto the chair in front of her. Maybe Timberlands didn’t complete the look, but she had bedazzled around the soles and used her best lotion.
The backstage area hustles and bustles, but has somehow found ways to divert itself away from where she sits. She looks up. 'Maybe it's something I ate,’ she thinks, forgetting the monster of a man Kosner was sent to watch over her. And that she had left her oversized revolver laying on the makeup counter beside her.
She shrugs, pulling a salt and vinegar potato chip from a nearby bowl before turning her attention back to the card. It has seen better days: splashes and splotches of various ingredients are sprinkled across a crudely drawn recipe. The title reads, ‘Jacky's Famous Apple Pie’, written in large, bubbly letters, complete with a smiley face for accent.
"Hey, you're the Ragdoll right?" She leans backwards, looking over the thin man holding a clipboard. Kosner’s focus shifts as he approaches the tiny, seated clown.
"Five minutes until they’re ready for you. Big fan, by the way," she bounces to her feet, hands on her hips. "Break a leg out there!"
He smiles at her and she smiles right back up at him, her toothy grin slowly becoming less inviting and more…
"Five minutes!" Someone shouts down the hallway, his focus breaks and he laughs nervously.
"Anyway, you-" he turns back towards Jaclyn. She is now only inches away, staring up at him. He cannot quite place the smell.
Chocolate chip cookies?
"How many?" she giggles gleefully.
"How many…?" Jacky silently nods her head.
“Legs.” she stands motionless, her mouth agape. Her eyes watch him as he shifts nervously.
“How many legs?”
“Yes, how many legs do we get to break?” His face drops. A moment passes. He swallows deeply, looking up to the statuesque form of Kosner for assistance that never comes. She laughs.
“Oh!” His laughter joins hers but she stops, staring once again at him solemnly.
"I gotta get going! Break a-" he stops himself as the twinkle crosses those golden orbs once more and scurries away. Jacky swings around, plopping herself back onto the chair.
"See? I told you," she tosses a chip absently into her mouth, chewing loudly as she speaks, "How bad could it be?”
Lights burst across Jaclyn’s eyes and she holds a hand up to block her vision. Someone grabs hold of her wrist, pushing it downward. A puff of powder erupts as a poof is pressed hastily across her face. She sputters and coughs.
“Jacky?” a manicured hand moves towards her and she instinctively tries to shake it.
Someone pulls her away, but not before she is blasted once more, blinding her. Hands take hold of her shoulders.
“Over here, miss Pierrot.”
“How’s it going?” she starts to answer, but the woman’s voice overtakes hers.
“Great! Ready to kick butt?” The sound of forced laughter causes the hairs on the back of Jaclyn’s neck to stand up.
“God, don’t get me started. Fallon is letting us shoot tomorrow over at his studio, but it’s just been a nightmare getting guest spots.”
“Who wouldn’t want to kick a little butt, am I right?” The plastic laughter grates again at Jacky’s nerves.
Think of the pie.
She orders herself to keep the smile pressed across her. She tries to speak, but a voice overcomes her from offstage.
“We are live in thirty!”
Jacky is shifted and shuffled once more by a clipboard cowboy. Something about a red meaning live? Or did it mean not live?
“Red is dead,” she convinces herself
Jacky tries again to speak but someone begins to count down, “3-2-” and points towards Amy Robach.
The scene opens up a miniaturized version of a kitchen built within a studio. Jaclyn Pierrot stands between George Stephanopoulos and Amy Robach. They are in their standard suit and dress combination, beaming out into the crowd.
"Our next guest with us today is joining us all the way from the wild world of wrestling," she puts an extra emphasis on the word ‘wrestling’, "Jaclyn Pierrot, or as her enemies know her, the Ragdoll. "
She makes a spooky face and the audience cheers and laughs. The camera switches over to Jacky, who looks at the wrong camera, doing her best to smile. They swap to the other angle and she turns back the wrong way once again.
Red means dead.
“So Jacky,” Amy begins, "Why do they call you Ragdoll?"
“Cause you look like a clown?” George interjects before she is able to answer. The audience once again bellows with laughter.
“For those of you who didn't know, the Ragdoll," Amy waves her arm dramatically in the clown’s direction. There is another eruption of mirth from the audience, "Is the current UGWC Conquest champion and a Keyholder? What’s that?"
"This little thing? What are you, a buck fifty?" He sizes her up. Jacky turns her gaze up towards him, her eyes begin to dilate as he mimics boxing by her face. Audience joins him once again in laughter."I used to be an amateur pugilist myself, ha ha."
"Watch out George, I don't think she's clownin around,” his arm goes around her, and he pulls her against him in an involuntary hug. For a moment, she is still with shock, “So Jacky, you wanted to show us your favorite recipe?"
Jaclyn looks suddenly giddy and childish. She pushes the hand from her shoulder, fishing her notecard out from inside her dress. Amy waves off screen and a cart of supplies is rolled out, covered, “Tell us a little bit about it.”
"Well Amy,” she starts, biting her lip anxiously as she holds the card up. Her voice is pinched and tight with excitement. “Okay what we have here is my world famous…"
The cover is ripped off the supply cart. Underneath is revealed to be only cool whip canisters and pie shells. Jaclyn’s shoulders drop as she looks over the ingredients. She mutters quietly, "apple pie."
"You mean whipped cream!" Amy suddenly has a horn in her hand and begins honking it. Jacky turns her way, her face morphing with rage. Meanwhile, George loads up a pie shell with a heaping pile of cream. As the jester continues to focus her anger on Amy, George swiftly brings the pie straight into her face. More braying laughter.
"Oh look out, folks, we may have a new champion!” He begins fake boxing again as Jacky methodically wipes the cream from her eyes. As they reopen, the pupil is barely a dot in the glowing sea of gold. "Up next-"
Jaclyn grabs his wrist and in one motion draws her pistol hard across his face. The audience shrieks as she continues driving it down. Spurts of blood drench her face as she continues to bring the large weapon down. There is a scramble from the crew.
Red means dead.
“Jesus we gotta cut!”
The camera swings to see one of the security guards, who is trying to rush towards the ongoing assault, thrown backwards into a wall by the mighty Kosner. Shifting back to set, the man is down below the counter, but Jacky holds onto his lapel, filling another shell with cream.
“We need the police!”
Jaclyn shoves Amy backwards by the face as she tries to intervene. She jumps up, puts the shell under feet, and drives them down hard just as feed cuts.
The older pickup truck rolls still outside of the farm. Pisces watches through the kitchen window, sitting cross legged. She sips from an ‘I Hate Mondays’ Garfield mug.
“They’re here,” she whispers to herself.
There is a creak and a slam followed quickly by another and the high pitched laughter. Jaclyn can be heard from inside as she squeals after Kosner, “And so the girl scout says, ‘I got all kinds of cookies. Thin Mints, Rah-Rah-Raisins, Tagalongs.’"
Kosner pulls open the door, letting the screen swing back into the clown. She catches it and continues talking as she follows behind, oblivious to his obvious irritation, “Well this was too good to be true, so I said to her, I says, ‘How much for the thin mints?’ And she says, ‘I'm gonna need about tree fitty’.”
Kosner continues walking up the stairs, leaving Jaclyn behind to shout after him, “And it was about that time I notice this cute little girl scout was no girl scout at all but she was in fact about 500 feet tall and from the paleolithic era!”
“Hey where’s Jacky?” Tempest asks, as he meets Kosner halfway down the stairs. There is no response, only the sound of heavy footsteps, a door slamming shut, and heavy metal music turned up, full blast.
Jaclyn looks over to Pisces.
She gets no response. Jacky’s eyes land on the Garfield cup: her cup. She clenches her jaw.
“Hey! Great show!” Tempest hand swats her on the bottom. She spins around to wrap her arms around his neck, giggling all the while. His forearm tucks underneath her lower back as he pulls her up against him. They kiss.
“Oh Jesus.” Pisces drops down from the counter and the two split apart, turning her way. She tilts the cup back and strolls past them, depositing the mug into the trash with a satisfying crunch. Jacky starts after her, but Tempest holds firm.
If you wanna be his lover…
She breathes out deeply as his hand moves to her cheek. He wipes the tear from inside her eye that has begun to form.
“If it helps, I love your pie,” he growls, pulling her in once more. There is a slow clapping from behind them.
Montague Cervantes steps into the room.
“Stupendous! No, that's not right!” He turns to Jordana, who accompanies him. Montague scoops her hand into his, bringing it to his lips, “My dear, what was the term I used?”
“Ah yes: breathtaking!”
Jaclyn laughs, rolling back into his arms. A pair of the Red Triangle Gang excuses themselves as they squeeze through. Each one carries an assortment of alcohol as they make their way down towards the Underlook.
“Things are coming along nicely,” Daedalus says, pleased. Pisces lurks a few feet behind him, her eyes scanning over the clown who seems unaware.
“And now our little Jacky is basically famous!” Tempest pulls back on her and she squeaks, kicking her feet as they hover off the ground.
“Yeah, but nobody got to try my pie!” she whines. His hand lands on her side, squeezing it, causing her to giggle more.
“It’s my pie.” His teeth snap by her ear.
“Probably rotten apples,” Pisces mutters. Jaclyn’s golden eyes lock with hers.
“Oh shut up,” Daedalus says over his shoulder, much to her surprise. “While the world didn’t get to see your...pie, what they did see, Miss Pierrot, was our strength. And I must say, while I’ve never had a bite of your baked goods, that show of strength was much sweeter.”
Jaclyn howls and the group follows suit. All except Pisces who once again rolls her eyes.
“Then wait ‘til I tell you about the event I heard about.” Tempest groans. A quick elbow causes a game of pinch and tickle to ensue, much to the chagrin of those around. Daedalus clears his throat and the two separate.
“Right! The event! So supposedly, Jimmy Fallon himself is having this get together where all you do is kick some celebrities asses.”
“Are you sure?” Tempest questions
“Absolutely sure!” she pushes away, planting her feet on the ground, “It for like...National Asskicking day.”
“National Kick Butt Day.” Pisces says, looking up from her phone. “It’s legit.”
Jacky howls again and the group joins in. Pisces follows suit, an extra smile teasing the corner of her lips.
“Now, who wants some apple pie!” The clown says, reaching for the fridge. Nobody responds and she turns towards the group. “Tempest?”
He pauses, his hand sliding to his stomach, before giving in, “Yeah, sure.”
She looks to Daedalus, then Montague. Both have found something to focus on, intently.
“Nobody wants your poisoned food.” Pisces breaks the silence. Jaclyn looks over to Tempest for support. He sighs.
“Hey, let’s grab a bite on the way there.” He takes hold of his hand, motioning to the group. They all agree and Tempest offers a low howl towards Jacky, pulling her face between his hands. She howls back weakly and smiles as he kisses her. The group begins to separate to prepare for the journey. All except for Pisces who continues to stare daggers into the back of the clown-faced woman.
There is a printed sign that reads, ‘National Butt Kicking PSA’ on the pedestal, just inside the door. The room is vibrant and alive as celebrities of all kinds muster, mingle and murmur. Loki shares a laugh with Betty White while Batman fusses with his suit. A guitar begins to whisper, then whine, then wail as the door flings open, kicked wide by a black Timberland boot.
Jaclyn Pierrot steps through, shit-eating grin spread across her cheeks. She stops, hands on her hips. One of the assistants rushes towards them, waving his hand towards the boombox blaring ‘Battle without Honor or Humanity’ which sits atop Kosner’s broad shoulder. He presses pause just as it reaches the crescendo.
The man in all black sighs audibly.
Jacky looks back towards the group, unsure of herself. Tempest shrugs. She nods, turning back.
“We’re here to….kick ass?” she offers, putting an extra pop to the tops of her lips for emphasis as she smiles.
“Yes right, this way,” he says, thrusting a hand in the direction of the group. She claps cheerfully. She saunters just over towards the group as Kosner presses play. The assistant turns.
"Sir, please, turn that down…"
Without hesitation, Jaclyn steps into the crowd and swings a stiff right across Robert Downey Jr's face, causing the actor to tumble into one of the fake cane plants. The PA is caught around the throat and lifted off the ground by Kosner. A trail of urine follows the already unconscious man as his form crashes into a stack of monitors.
Ben Affleck shoves the cape aside. A crowd of Creeps drives Keven Hart past him, jamming him into a closet. He cries for help. Ben sees his chance.
Two Creeps down.
“It’s my time!” He thinks. “The rise of the Affleck!”
Another Creep bumps into the hard leather shell of his costume. No. His hide. He was no longer Ben. He was-
His eyes roll back. Tempest foot has found its way into his groin, just between the plates of leather guarding his delicate Baals. He leans forward, his face hovering in front of the actors. Bits of the mask blow towards Ben as he speaks: “Save those Privates.”
Ben Affleck coughs, dropping to his knees. A snarl crosses his face as he winces up at the now towering Tempest. “That was Matt Damon.”
His brain rattles off his skull as the boot buries itself once more into his body, this time checking his chin for any weaknesses. The consciousness gone, the actor slumps to the floor. “And I hated Ted.”
Meanwhile, Montague mounts his offense against George Clooney and Trevor Noah. The 2020 GQ Men of the Year have banded together to try and survive the onslaught. Rather than go at them directly, he takes a more cerebral approach. Darfur, Third Party Candidates. No subject goes unturned and soon the magicians probing and prodding turns the two against each other.
“Monty!” shrieks Jordana. He turns to see her, dressed in her Velma Dinkley outfit, held by a panic stricken Tom Hiddleson. Behind them, Kosner catches hold of Kevin Hart, sending him flying. Tom holds up a hand to try and keep Cervantes from advancing. He stutters as he speaks.
“Okay, now wait, listen. Hold on.” Montague stops, waiting for details. The actor clears his throat, standing upright, “I’m Loki.”
“Oh my. Please accept my apologies, your lordship,” Tom releases his grip as Cervantes hands fold behind his back. His assistant sees her opportunity, pulling away. She retreats behind the large magician.
“Would you like to see a magic trick, mister Loki?” he says simply, his cane stretching out towards the terrified man. Celebrities and crew flee and are chased and tormented by the crowd of Creeps. The chaos has spread into the hall. Jaclyn Pierrot has pinned Dr. Phil against one of the windows, waving her weapon like a wand in his face.
“Now, what’s this all about really, Jaclyn?” she lands the tip against his skull.
“Outside cash,” her finger squeezes on the trigger. There is a mad rush towards the stairwell. Phil closes his eyes.
He reopens them. The clown has been knocked to her knee and is in the process of rising. Phil wastes no time in moving towards the retreating crowd. Jacky tries to aim her gun in the fleeing man’s direction, but a purse swats the gun away.
“No ma’am,” says Betty White. She is resolute and determined, setting her satchel aside, “Now, I’ve had about enough of your Tom Foolery. It’s time you pick on someone your own size!”
“Betty Boop!” the smaller woman says rushing forward, catching Jacky off guard with a hook to the jaw. She tries to defend herself, but Betty catches her by the pigtails.
“No ma’am!” she says once again, swinging Jacky through the glass and out the window. Tempest, chasing after one of the Chris’, sees and stops. He moves towards the open sixth story window, only for Betty to step into his path.
“No sir,” she says, putting up her dukes.
A series of brownstones line the streets. New York City. The city that never sleeps, perfect for anyone from your everyday insomniac to your less than ordinary creep. A staircase cascades down and spills into two identical sets of steps. The Creeps take each tread with many still standing in the street. Montague can be seen holding a bag of ice against his knee. Tempest tilts a forty-ounce bottle of Old English back.
Jacky stands in front of the stairs, her arms held out under the streetlight. She has a white t-shirt with ‘#aphraid’ handwritten in black sharpie. The UGWC Conquest Championship is wrapped around her waist.
“Can you feel it?”
She breathes in deeply, closing her eyes for a moment.
“That electricity, that racing. The pounding in your chest as the time slips by, not a crawl or a crash but a constant motion: there’s no escape.” Her eyes flutter open, “There's something to be said of new beginnings. New experiences. New challenges. I always get nervous, do you get nervous?”
She bounces up and down, shaking her wrists out.
"It's like a rollercoaster - the rush and trepidation as you tick-tick-tick towards the top and see for a second," she closes her eyes again and bites her lip, "It's the cold metal in your palm as your inch your way through the fun house, never knowing who or what is around the next corner. It's that first kiss."
Tempest raises the bottle.
“What's the word?”
The door behind them opens, a man wearing a bathrobe and slippers peers out, then the door closes. The deadbolt can be heard sliding into place.
“Fear. There it is again. The four letter word nobody ever wants to speak, but here it is again. Oh that feeling, that magic feeling. Do you feel it? You and me. Face to face, or facing your fears, so they say.”
She stops moving. Her smile is wide and bright, the pupils but pinpoints in a sea of gold.
“My, my - I wonder though: who is really afraid of whom? I said that right?” She turns over her shoulder and Daedalus gives her a lazy thumbs up. “Perfect. I don't want to get misunderstood with what I'm saying. Of all the people it could have been, it had to be you. And the fact is: I’m afraid.”
Jaclyn points her finger towards her shirt.
“I am terrified of what happens when they play my music and I walk towards that ring. I'm scared to death of what I’m gonna do to you cause if this fucking masquerade is all you've got? I'm really afraid of what's going to happen. Now, Phrixus: what do you think I'm afraid of?”
Her hand raises towards a cut along her face from the Battle of Betty White.
“Pain?” She presses on the wound, wincing before she smiles, “I find a certain pleasure in that.”
Tempest raises the bottle.
“Defeat?” she tossed the belt onto the concrete in front of her."It's just dead weight I have to carry around from place to place as person after person tosses themselves at me. There's no permanence, it's constant in the change. Each person that picks this up...well it's a new moon rising and let's face it - this goddamn thing is a curse.”
Jacky stares down at the cumberbund.
“The Avenger held it and then the superhero lost all his strength - his will - and is no more. Tony Savage had it in his hand and where is he? Missing from the Massive Melee: it didn't matter, he said. He’ll be back, but will he ever be the same?” She shrugs her shoulders. “And poor Pierce...well I guess he did okay, but that just proves my theory. Without survivors, who would tell the tales of the curses that cross our land. Is this it for me, then?"
She kneels down.
“Am I cursed and am I damned? Well that’s what it takes to hold onto this, then I guess so. It looks like then got me right where you want me. I am afraid, Phrixus. I'm afraid of what I'll do to keep this and I'm simply horrified of what I'll put myself through just to make sure that I, Jaclyn Pierrot, conquer the curse. So, I guess in some ways you’ve already won, but I’m afraid it won't be in the ways that matter.”
The clown stands up, lifting the belt above her head.
“Can you feel it? Close your eyes.” The entire group closes their eyes, “Can you feel it? There’s a bad moon on the rise and just like taxes and the tides, the ending is inevitable. Donovan Hastings.”
Jaclyn opens her eyes while the rest of the groups remain closed.
“Can you feel it? There’s something different about this time and this happening and that,” she points towards Tempest then Montague, “And that? This time of year? This is called manifesting, cause come Horizons, option A…”
She holds up the belt and the crowd of Creeps reopens their eyes. She fishes a key from her bosom: “Or option B, or maybe a bit of both sees you and me standing face to face, one way or another. Cause Donovan, option A or Option B?”
She looks down at the belt, smiling up at the camera. Jacky winks.
“You better hope they break me with this belt cause the other option?” she holds her finger up to her lip, sliding it down to tap her chin as she considers.“Ya got me again: I'm afraid I can't tell you that either.”