“How can we stop filming!” shouted Oliver. “I don’t care that the writer’s dead! He didn’t do anything anyway!”
“A man has died,” said Geronimo calmly. “The police must be notified.”
“Of course we’ll call the police but that’s no reason to stop – You there! Get back to work, you lazy bastards.”
“A dangerous man is among us.”
“I know who it is, it’s Warren. That man’s line readings could bore anyone to death. Fine, I guess we’ll have to halt filming for the day. You know how much it costs to stop filming for a day? Five thousand dollars! You can tell her that.”
“Miss Fitzgibbons has been known to spend that on her breakfast.”
“Really? I must make it a point to get to know her better.”
Jimmy, Millicent and Ruby got together in Ruby’s office to discuss the current state of disaster on the set.
“We’re having some problems on set,” said Ruby. “I hear the tentacles aren’t working that well. And the writer had an accident.”
“An accident?” said Millicent.
“He fell on a knife. Now we have some important things to work on. I’m thinking…subtext. Our lead has an abusive father…”
“Oh, that’s so sad, Miss Fitzgibbons.”
“And if she has an abusive father, when she defeats the Honolulu monster by ramming it with a U-Boat, that’s like defeating her father.”
Jimmy and Millicent both stared at her.
“What?” said Ruby. “The movie is named Calling Honolulu, right?”
“The Call of Cthulhu, Miss Fitzgibbons,” said Millicent. “And I think it’s about Easter Island…”
“That’s a strange name. Is it Dutch? Anyway, Easter Island is better. It’s rebirth! And she could be pregnant!”
“You’re a genius!”
“Thank you. Now, I’m going to lunch, just have a 10 page outline ready for me when I get back.”
“Did I just get assigned a term paper to help write the movie?”
“Get that nice German fellow, the professor, to help you. I want some of that nice physics mumbo jumbo in there. Carbon…Titanium…Molecules. Get all that. The science people love that. How about this—the U-Boat is made out of antimolecules! That’s how it defeats the father-figure Canalulu.”
“Are you sure it’s him?” said Jimmy, pouring himself a drink in Ruby’s trailer.
“Of course it’s him,” said Janet Rogers, ace investigative reporter formerly of the Los Angeles Mirror. She had recently divorced herself from both the paper and her husband, its editor.
“You’ve established me wrong many times,” said Jimmy, handing her a drink.
“Well, aren’t you a private investigator? Haven’t you found any evidence?”
The door opened and Geronimo Cuevas stepped inside. “How can you help me?” he asked. “Frankly, these Okies aren’t doing anything.”
“I know you have them,” said Jimmy, closing the door behind Geronimo. “The dailies. We have reason to believe that the murderer of Lee is on them.”
“Oliver always likes to keep the cameras running,” said Janet. “The man’s a walking fire hazard with all that film around him.”
[Silver nitrate film was highly flammable. It also had the most marvelous black balance.]
“Then I will hand them right over,” said Geronimo. “But the police need to see them.”
“It’s not the time to go to the police just yet,” said Jimmy. “Trust me on this. It’s a little weird and a lot complicated. It will…blow their minds.”
“What does that mean?”
“That’s complicated too. Just give them to me, and I’ll give them back at the end of the day.”
“I’m not sure—” began Geronimo. Suddenly there was a horrific scream from the direction of the giant mechanical monster.
They rushed over to it and found one of the special effects technicians impaled on a tentacle.
“The…undulations…” he whispered before dying.
“I have no idea what happened,” said Millicent. “She told me to rewrite the script.”
“So write it, then,” said Dr. Orange.
“But the science has to be right!”
“The science does have to be right. What does this crazy woman want this time?”
“She says…Cthulhu…is hit by a U-Boat…made of antimolecules…does that mean anything, Professor?”
“Of course it doesn’t, but let’s pretend.”
Outside, several people started running towards the mechanical Cthulhu. “Quiet!” barked the Professor. “I’m trying to work!” He busily started scribbling on Millicent’s draft.
Geronimo found Ruby being helped out of her car by her chauffeur. “Miss Fitzgibbons, I was approached by that Jimmy and Janet. They said the man who murdered Lee is on the dailies. But they want to hold on to them instead of giving them to the police.”
“Well, that’s not good. Murderers can’t go free. You should call the police—I hear the LAPD are very nice.”
“Could you make that call on my behalf?”
“I’m far too busy—why, the special effects man is playing that he’s been hurt by the tentacles. So dramatic. But fine, I’ll call the District Attorney, he’s a dear.”
Not long after, Bernie Ohls, the platinum-haired Chief Investigator for the DA’s office arrived. “Jimmy! I got called down to this rathole.”
“Bernie! You know how it ends up…”
“What the hell is that thing? Are those tentacles…undulating?”
“Lieutenant Ohls,” said Geronimo, “there has been a murder on our set. I have been informed by Señor Wright that the murderer is capture on our film and I wanted to hand them over for proper custody of evidence.”
“Is this for real?” Ohls asked Jimmy.
“You know how sometimes I get those really weird cases? This is kind of one of them. I wanted to save you the trouble.”
“Well, I can take care of them. Oh, Phil wants to have dinner next week. I’ll call your girl.”
Ruby and Dr. Orange were doing the casting call for day-players, all of whom were dressed in ratty velour robes, except for one cadaverous man who seemed to have brought his own richly adorned silk robes.
“The tentacles,” the man told Ruby, “should not undulate like that, but more like this. More…widdershins.”
“You hear that, Herr Professor?”
“Yes, I keep hearing that, but tentacles just don’t move that way. They’d be useless!”
“They are cosmic space monsters from Hawaii, sir, of course they can move that way. They break physics.”
“No, no, no. They don’t break physics. Just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t mean they break physics.”
“Well, how could they really move that way, then?”
“Even if I could make it happen, people will never believe it!”
“When you think of tentacles from outer space,” said Ruby to the extra in the silk robe, “do you picture these kinds of tentacles, or other kinds of tentacles?”
“Oh, I picture much more interesting tentacles than this. Were you going to help me with my lines?”
“Yes, I’ll help you with them. Go ahead.”
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!” he shouted.
“That’s not in the script! We did all the alien gibberish as backwards German, so it would be scary.”
“Trust me, this will help with your special effects.”
“How? Tell me, move me, make me see.”
“I will help make this idol…this special effect…seem to live.”
“That’s good. Now, have you taken a look at the anti-molecules? I think they should be blue.”
“Yes, yes. But I require one more thing of you.”
The man lunged forward and stabbed Ruby in the shoulder. Ruby screamed.
Jimmy was still trying to convince Bernie to not take the dailies with him when they heard Ruby’s scream. They ran towards the giant Cthulhu prop.
“Miss Fitzgibbons, I’ve failed you!” shouted Geronimo.
“Yes, you have,” said the cultist in a sepulchral voice. He advanced on Jimmy.
Jimmy tackled the cultist as Geronimo pulled Ruby to safety.
“Jimmy Wright, we owe you!” said the cultist, as he and Jimmy rolled in the dirt.
A shot barked out.
“That is not dead which can eternal lie…” rasped the cultist as he perished.
Jimmy rolled the bleeding corpse of the cultist off of him and stood up to see Geronimo neatly tuck away a snub-nosed revolver.
“…and then Jimmy shot him,” said Millicent to Janet in a booth at Musso and Franks. “And he was one of those cultist guys Jimmy was talking about! and why are all there all these dead bodies? why are these people doing these things? I mean, I heard Hollywood is really cutthroat but I thought they meant that metaphorically!”
“Well, look at it this way,” said Janet, lighting a cigarette, “at least you got school credit.”
Some weeks later, Roland “Freddie” Holmwood, head of Earl Pictures, watched “THE END?” swim up on the screen of his private theater.
“Well sir?” asked his assistant.
“What a dreadful load of rubbish. Pass.”
Geronimo Cuevas got a job as Ruby’s bodyguard, which was less dangerous than chasing Fascists in the streets of Madrid, but hardly less annoying. To avoid any immigration hassles, he let everyone believe it was Jimmy who had shot the cultist.
Ruby decided to quit show business and spent the next year breathlessly telling people about her encounter with a madman.
Dr. Orange used the contacts he made on set to secure a hefty grant that allowed him to travel and pursue his own theories without needing to teach.
Jimmy Wright chalked it up to another bunch of crazy cultists, and became closer to Janet Rogers.
And Janet Rogers decided to start investigating more paranormal cases. She happened to be sitting on a hell of a story…