Saturday, 24 January 2015

Silent Scream: Part Nineteen

[Excuse me. #WeAreHereForYouJames was worldwide trending last night on Twitter, and while I know it had nothing to do with #SilentScream...I AM FREAKING OUT SO HARD. LIKE HOLY WHAT EVEN. You don't know it yet, but there's a worldwide trending topic in this (not this particular part...Later.) I CANNOT. LIKE I CANNOT.

Ahem. Parts 1-18 can be found here. Thank you for reading Xo]

Officer Black takes them home.

“Grady and I will be back in the morning,” he says, walking them to the door. Two officers will be relieving us for the next shift. We’ll wait until they arrive.”

Michael unlocks the door. James’ head spins and he grips the doorframe to keep from collapsing.

“You gotta eat, man,” Michael says, grabbing his arm for support. “You can’t go on like this. You’ll die.”

James doesn’t answer.

How am I meant to eat or sleep or even breathe without him?

Officer Grady is in the living room when they go inside. He’d stayed back to oversee the forensics team and ensure no-one unauthorised entered the house. Even the agency had been temporarily shut down until the detectives found out who planted the cameras.

There’s a letter on the coffee table in front of him.

“This arrived a moment ago,” he says, gesturing towards it. He looks at James. “The postman delivered it. It’s addressed to you. It could be nothing, just innocent mail, but…”

James shuffles forward. He’s not sure how much more he can take.

“Should I open it?” he asks hoarsely. He reads his name and address on the front, neatly printed on a sticker. There’s a stamp and a postmark.

“Maybe we should call the detectives first,” Officer Black says. “Just in case.”

Michael nods. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. Come on, J.” He tries to lead him out of the room, but James pulls away and takes a few more steps towards the coffee table.

It’s just a letter, he thinks, staring at it like it might leap up and attack him. It’s probably a bill. An invitation to some shitty Hollywood party. Fan mail. It’s probably nothing to be worried about.

The fear inside his heart tells him otherwise. But he picks it up away and checks the back for a return address. There isn’t one.

“There’s something inside this,” he says, feeling the packaging. “Something long, like a…Like a…”

Finger.

He rips it open.

A finger falls onto the table.

His empty stomach heaves. It takes him a second to realise it is plastic. A novelty USB stick.

“I think we should wait to look at what’s on that until the detectives arrive,” Officer Black says nervously. He pulls out his phone to call Detective Oliver.

James picks it up. Some small part of him tells him he shouldn’t touch it, that there could be fingerprints they can use, but he can’t stop himself. He walks over to his television in a dream-like state and plugs it in. A file comes up.

J_and_A.

“Don’t, brother,” Michael says, but it’s too late. James hits play.

The sound of laughter fills the room.

Alexander’s laughter.

The camera pans out, revealing James and Alexander at Santa Monica beach.

“What’s this ones’ name?” video-James asks, pointing to a large picture Alexander has drawn in the sand.

“Astro Boy!” Alexander yells, giggling. Video-James laughs.

“There’s already an Astro Boy,” he says, brushing some sand out of Alexander’s hair. “Name him something else.”

Alexander sticks his tongue through the gap in this teeth, concentrating. Video-James laughs again.

“I know this day,” James whispers, waking closer to the TV and touching Alexander’s face. “I remember this.”

Alexander’s face lights up. “I know!” he yells, running over to pick up a stick. He bends over and adds to his drawing, using the stick to write in the sand. When he straightens up, video-James reads the word out loud.

“Brother.”

The scene changes to a dark room. Someone is standing right in front of the camera, so close that everything is blurred. After a moment, they shuffle back and come into focus.

They are wearing a stark white mask. Expressionless, like a mannequin.

“Jesus,” Michael says quietly, glancing at James. He is as white as the mask.

“Mr Axton,” the masked person says in the same distorted voice as the phone call. “We trust by now you have found our cameras in your home. That you have tapped your phones and traced our calls.” They tilt their head to the side like this is mildly interesting. “You may think this puts you one step ahead of us, but I can assure you, you haven’t found anything we don’t want you to find.

“You may be asking yourself why this is happening. Why we have had to resort to such extreme measures to have our message heard. Well. We tried the peaceful way. We tried lobbying and protesting and writing letters to our congressman, but it was of no use. It fell onto deaf ears. You are going to make sure we are heard.

“For all too long, people like us have been mocked and degraded. We have been designated as less than human. Hollywood has capitalised on our pain, mocking us at every turn, parodying us, making us the butt of the joke. How many times must the punchline be that the attractive woman making out with the handsome man was actually a transgendered person? How many more Adam’s apple jokes must we endure? When are we going to be viewed as individuals, rather than a subhuman species?

“Up until now we have sat in the shadows. Waiting for our moment. Waiting for the world to accept us for who we are. No more. Your Silent Scream is nothing more than the perpetuation of the stereotypes that have plagued us for all of time. Today is the today we say enough. Today is the day we take back our identities.

“That abomination of a film will not be viewed by anyone. You will see to that. You will ensure that everyone who played a part in its production – the producers, the directors, the cast, the grips, the intern who brought you coffee in the mornings – gathers together within the next three days for a press conference. At that conference it will be announced that Silent Scream will not be released, and each person present at the conference will issue a formal apology to the transgendered community for having any part in its creation. The producer and director of this disgrace will then formally resign from their positions, and you will announce that you will never write another screen play again.

“You may think this is too great a task for one man. You may think we are asking too much. But remember, Mr Axton, we have been watching you. We know the influence you have on people. We understand the,” -- they laugh cruelly – “Axton effect. Your reach extends far. And so does ours.” Through the mask, the eyes narrow. “Have you asked yourself who planted those cameras in your house? Which of your friends, colleagues or employees are our eyes on the inside? Didn’t you wonder why we waited until your phone was tapped to make our first move? Did you ask yourself how we even got inside Jenna’s house? How we got in and out through a locked door with no sign of forced entry?” They take a step forward, getting closer to the camera. “We are everywhere. We are everyone. Even if you find one of us, you will never find us all. We are ten steps ahead of you. You cannot fight us, you cannot beat us, and you cannot stop us. This is not a negotiation, Mr Axton. This is not open for discussion. You have three days from today, December 17. And if you need any extra motivation…”

The masked person steps aside. There’s a tiny figure curled up in the corner of the room.

Alexander.

“Stand up,” another voice commands from behind the camera. Alexander rises to his feet. A dirty Astro hangs from his fingertips. His clothes are damp and torn. There’s a particularly wet patch between his legs.

“What is your name?” the voice behind the camera demands. Alexander sways on his feet.

James’ entire body begins to shake.

“Your name!” the voice shouts.

Alexander sniffs, but his voice is clear and firm. “Alexander Saunders.”

“How old are you?”

“I’m seven.”

“Do you want to live to see eight?”

Alexander looks at the person behind the camera, confused by the question.

“I said,” the voice repeats. “Do you want to be alive on your eighth birthday?”

Alexander’s eyes widen and he nods. The wet patch between his legs grows wetter.

“Then tell your daddy James to do what we ask.”

Alexander straightens up a little. His tiny hands tremble.

“He’s not my daddy. My daddy was a bad man. Just like YOU!”

The camera loses focus for a second, dipping down and filming the grimy floor. Thick, heavy boots come into view as they cross the room. Alexander screams. The sound of a slap hangs in the air.

James wavers, barely holding it together.

The camera is lifted up and adjusted. Alexander comes back into focus. He has his hand on his cheek.

“Tell your daddy James to do what we asked,” the voice behind the camera says again.

Alexander’s bottom lip trembles. He’s lost another tooth.

“James is not afraid of you,” he says, curling his hand into fists. “He’s not afraid of anything.”

The camera loses focus again. Alexander starts to wail, then abruptly stops. He falls to the floor, into the view of the camera lens. His lip is split and bleeding. His eyes are closed.

The camera swings around. Another person in a white mask stares right down the barrel.

“Tick tock, Mr Axton,” they say. “Tick tock.”

The video ends.

James stares at the screen. Everything seems far away. Everything feels unreal.

It’s not real, he thinks. This can’t be real. I’m dreaming. Wake up. Wake up. Wake. Up.

He is vaguely aware of Michael calling his name. Of Officer Black reaching out for him. Of the way Officer Grady is staring at him, watching him.

Dark spots begin to play in his vision. He tries to move, but his limbs refuse to co-operate.

James is not afraid of you. He’s not afraid of anything.

The coffee table seems to leap off the floor and hurtle towards him.

The dark spots grow darker.



Everything fades to black.
******