The Replacement

It was mid-scene, during a conversation, while the camera was on the starlet acting opposite him, when Gerald Harlan was replaced. The producer motioned for him, and after confirming that, yes, he was being implored to leave his mark mid-scene, Gerald stepped away from the peeling gray electrical tape on the floor.

He stepped too slowly, though, and nearly fell over–which certainly would have ruined the scene–as another man, an actor Gerald didn’t know, pushed past him and positioned himself on the mark. Ariana was just finishing her line when Gerald stumbled out of the camera’s line of sight. On the monitors, he saw the cut from one camera to another, from a tight frame of Ariana’s tearstained face to a close up of the actor’s stony visage.

“Helen, these things… they ought not to be! Surely we have found ourselves mired in the morass of hopeless, infinite mortality, where the worm dies not, and our very souls…. are swept from us!”

On “us”, George swept his huge hand across the table, flinging groceries and a candle to the floor in a clatter, while Gerald looked on in amazement.

“Excuse me?” he whispered to the producer, but he was quickly hushed by producer,whose motions clearly indicated he should see, not speak.

“Oh, Terrance, how could you? How could you speak such words, how could such vainglories pass from thy lips? Our love… it was to be everlasting, and now, it is not to be at all.”

“CUT!”

Gerald tapped the producer on the shoulder, but received no reaction. The producer’s eyes were glued on the director, whose eyes were following the actor’s every move with glee.

“Good show, good show!” said the director. “You really brought it out. Really showed us something new, really brought a fresh spark.”

Gerald was confused, more confused than normal. He’d come in today expecting to film an episode of his hit television program and had instead, in a Gogol-ian misunderstanding, been replaced by someone who looked nothing like him!

Being well-read and aware that these sorts of situations never worked out well (See: The Double, Freaky Friday, et al), he decided to just go home. Unfortunately he arrived home to find that the same man had taken over it as well, and his landlord would not let him in. It turned out the man was dead, his father, the other half of his personality, and him.

Of course, ultimately, they both died, but not before making a raucous comedy that Gerald made no money from personally. Gerald was replaced, you see, by his twin who looked nothing like him.

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