Friday After Dark
Lance Rahmnoih is a man in his early thirties. While he tried very hard, and subsequently did fairly well, in college, he now finds himself struggling to find a well-paying job. For now, he makes due with several part time jobs, and uses his rare free time writing stories, as using his imagination is the one thing he is very, very good at. This is somewhat ironic, as Lance tends to think about things very logically; he takes a while to make decisions, carefully weighing the pros and cons, as well as all possible outcomes. The few time he does make quick decisions, they are almost entirely based on emotion and most often regretted.
Lance lives somewhere in the future. There, a man known as A. J. Aan Muir has just invented something quite spectacular, if only a bit useless; a truly “4D” digital film process, in which the dimension of time is genuinely included. In this way, the viewer really does enter into the world of the movie. They may walk around, travel through time, and follow the lives and plot lines of any character in the movie, be it the main character, or a man who is intended to be unimportant and, originally, only spotted briefly in a cafe. His first movie using this amazing new technology is now playing in theatres, and promises to be a spectacle unlike anything anyone has ever experienced. Knowing full well that he can just barely afford the expensive fee, Lance decides to attend a screening anyway. He figures he could use a well deserved break from reality, if only for a little while.
The film, titled Friday After Dark, is being shown at a new nearby theatre. This theatre, while not originally built for the purpose of showing 4D films, had recently been expanded. It now included four new showing rooms, each meticulously designed and built to maximize the 4D experience. At least, that’s what had been said. Walking into the theatre, Lance cannot help but notice that it did not appear any different from those built without such an intention. Oh well, he thought. Maybe this is all just a big scam. That was the way Lance thought nowadays; when you tend to expect the worst, the outcome is usually at least slightly better.
As the lights were turned down, Lance felt himself relaxing. So what if the movie wasn’t as magical as was promised? The entrance fee wasn’t much higher than a normal movie, and, whether or not the film was any good, it couldn’t be that bad. Any way, it wasn’t exactly the quality of the movie he was after; what Lance was really looking for was an escape. Somewhere to wander, and not have to worry about anything at all. The film, therefore, did not need to be good; it only needed to be better.
The commercials began, and Lance abruptly noticed that he had not been issued any sort of 4D glasses. Looking around, he realized that no one, or at least no one in his direct vicinity, had them either. He sat back, puzzled as to how exactly this was going to work. Sure, he had been to plenty of 3D movies where no viewing apparatuses were needed (those were done away with quite awhile ago), but he had assumed that this new format would not have made such a leap quite so soon. After all, it took years and years of painstaking work to perfect the 3D medium of film; how could it not be the same for 4D?
The ads, of course, were not in 4D. As fun as it might seem to be able to walk around with sparkling crystals or dance with skateboarding cats, the feeling was that it might detract from the movie; some, it was rumored to be feared, might get so ensnared in the ads that they would never even make it to the film at all. Which got Lance to wondering; how exactly was this to work? Would everyone just be allowed to wander around, wherever they pleased? Or perhaps they would all be led in a tour of sorts, and each viewer would be free to suggest those characters whom they wanted to follow.
I really need to relax, Lance scolded himself. He was letting life’s pressures get to him; even the advertisements before a movie were starting to stress him out! As Lance focused on his breathing, the commercials abruptly stopped. They were instantly replaced with large letters on a bright blue background, together relaying the message that the movie was about to begin. Lance tried to relax and just enjoy whatever was about to happen. Nevertheless, he felt his breath catch in his throat and a chill rush through his body. He was more anxious than he would like to admit, but most of all he just wanted the damn movie to begin already.
The words gradually began to fade and were replaced instead by a gruff, masculine voice, presumably that of the director.
“Hello, this is your friend, “A. J.”. Forgive me for this strange and quite un-poetic introduction, but I felt that I owed my audience a bit of an explanation. As you presumably know, this movie is nothing like any other movie ever made; besides the conventional 3D experience, this movie brings a whole new element to the table; the element of time. In this film, as I hope you have already been notified, you will be able to walk around and follow any character you please. If you get tired of one, you may simply find another to follow. As an added bonus, you can also move through time at will; say, for example, you missed an important piece of dialogue, or you would like to delve into a character’s back story; you may do so with only a bit of concentration on your part. Now, please enjoy the show.”
With that, the beginning credits began to run. Friday After Dark flashed across the black screen in dazzling large letters, and Lance was suddenly aware of his position in space. He was, in fact, no longer sitting in his chair; instead, he was seated firmly on the sidewalk, looking in awe at the large letters looming above him, all the other audience members nowhere to be found. It was only then that he realized he was in the middle of Times Square in New York City, looking at the sign for an upcoming musical; only, something was off. He got up, and as he looked around, realized he had never seen Times Square quite like this. There were people every where, filling every inch of imaginable space. There seemed to be millions of kiosks and corner newspaper shops selling every kind of souvenir available. It was then that Lance realized this was the Times Square from long ago, now seen only in nostalgic post card pictures. He approached one of the several newspaper stands in his direct vicinity, and saw, to his fascination, that the year was quite far in the past. How, he wondered, would he ever choose a character to follow? There must have been thousands of people milling around, most of whom he presumed were tourists. Where was he supposed to go?
For some reason, a man hailing a taxi caught his eye. He rushed up to him, unsure of what to say.
“Why hello!” the young man turned to greet him. “How lovely you look tonight!”
“I…um…” stuttered Lance, unsure of how to respond.
“Why thank you,” a soft voice mumbled from behind him.
Lance turned, and came face to face with a beautiful young women, maybe 25 at the most. He scolded himself for not seeing it sooner; while he was immersed in the movie, he was still technically a viewer, and therefor could not interact with any of the characters. A taxi cab pulled up to the curb, and the now acquainted couple glided in with the ease of native New Yorkers. Lance decided to follow them, rushing hastily into the cab before the door shut.
There was very limited conversation in the cab, with the couple mostly exchanging pleasantries and dry remarks about the weather. Oh, how he wished he could join the conversation! Lance was itching with impatience when the cab jolted to a stop. The door opened wide, and suddenly the woman was making her way out. Lance jumped on out quickly, forgetting momentarily that he was not really blocking her way. As soon as she exited, the door shut and the taxi drove away, leaving Lance stranded on an unfamiliar sidewalk.
Even more unsure than he had been before, Lance decided to take a walk and see where his travels took him. He entertained the idea of going into one of the many passerbys’ lives, but became anxious and weary when it came to making an actual decision. He soon found himself at a library, and let out a sigh of relief. Lance had been an awkward child, and as a result had always loved the companionship of books. As he strode in, he took inventory of his surroundings. Grand wooden book shelves lined every wall, and off to the side of the entrance was situated the librarians desk. Lance began to stroll over and ask where exactly he was, but caught himself. He roamed along the desolate rows for a while, until he got sick of that and just chose a book at random. What book he couldn’t tell you; the hours he spent reading that one, and the many others, became one long blur of loneliness in his mind. He soon wandered back to Times Square but found that, even among all these people, he felt even lonelier. Among the hoards of tourists rushing to have the “New York experience”, he was just one insignificant person, and nobody was even aware of his presence. As time pressed on, Lance felt an acute awareness of the fact that, even if they knew he was there, none of these people would care.
When the movie showed no sign of ending, Lance found that his aimless wandering brought him back to the library. It was just before closing. He wandered around inside, and chose a book at random. As he sat in the worn out velvet arm chair he had come to favor, the librarian began to close up shop. She went around shutting all the lights, and, after double- and triple-checking that they were all out, quietly closed the door. As the lock turned, an audible click was heard, and then only silence, save for the occasional sound of the cars rushing past.
Alone as he was in the pitch black of the library, Lance felt calm and at peace. This, he realized, was exactly what he had been looking for; the ability to actually be alone, and feel so comfortable and tranquil. In real life, Lance had always been surrounded by people; none of them, however, were capable of making him feel wanted, or even slightly significant. Here among the books and the hurried still of the night, however, he finally felt o.k.
Age 14, Grade 9
Bard High School Early College