“You are like me! Worse, even! You who abandoned Lost to be written by schmucks! You who turned Alias from a spy thriller into hokey science fiction! You who cast Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock and inexplicably paired him with Uhura! You who backed Cloverfield, a celluloid cancer more vile than a bag of Hitler’s foulest farts! You will be damned, as I have been, but there is hope for you; you have a chance yet; one of my procurement!”
Lindelof was dead: To begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the undertaker, the urologist, the pathologist and the animal control officer. JJ Abrams signed it; and people were generally accepting of things written by JJ Abrams. Lindelof was deader than Natalie Wood. He had perished lo these seven long months ago, after a particularly virulent case of rabies had been transferred to one of his more sensitive areas through the unholy jaws of the ferocious raccoon Conotocaurious the Wicked, soon after he had completed work upon what was to be his magnum opus, the penning of Star Trek Into Darkness.
Did JJ Abrams know he was dead? But of course. How could it be otherwise? They had been partners on no one knows how many films. All right, two films and one television series. Abrams was his writing partner, his director, his producer, and eventually the only human being who took his work even slightly seriously. And even Abrams didn’t give any particular hoot regarding Mr. Lindelof’s death, but that his works generally made money and Abrams needed said money to continue his regular purchasing of illicit drugs from unscrupulous street vendors.
Although you and I well know the facts concerning the erstwhile raccoon related demise of one Mr. Damon Laurence Lindelof, JJ Abrams had never troubled himself to inform the production companies that employed both himself and Lindelof of the latter’s death; and in fact had appropriated his mobile telephone for the purposes of impersonating him when necessary, simply affecting a falsetto when the time came to do so. He found it prudent to place Lindelof’s name upon projects he himself had written and thusly collect Mr. Lindelof’s salaries. After all two paychecks meant twice as much Snow Coke. Any money Abrams did not allocate towards the aforementioned Electric Kool-Aid could be applied to aquiring the services of certain ladies of the night, as well as employing vagrants to engage one another in the manly art of pugilism.
It chanced that, one icy winter night, Abrams was telephoned by one Mr. Robert Iger, the individual considered to be chief of the powerful children’s entertainment empire sired by, and named for, a fellow known to the world as Disney.
The company that Mr. Iger ran had made headlines recently due to its purchase of an entire galaxy; more specifically, a galaxy far, far away featured in the much lauded Star Wars films. The search for a man visionary enough to helm the continuation of this franchise had thus far been fruitless, and yet Mr. Iger now believed he’d found his man.
“Is this JJ Abrams?” Iger growled across the distance of space by the miracle of modern technology. “Yes,” Abrams answered, his voice hoarse from the pipe he’d been employing only moments before. “JJ, how are ya, buddy?” Iger attempted an effusive greeting, somewhat poorly disguising how little he actually cared about Abrams’ well-being. “I’m doing fine,” Abrams replied, also not caring in the slightest about the other man’s actual feelings on the matter, “And yourself?”
“Great!” Iger lied, hoping his false cordiality would cover his contempt, or at least that his contempt would conceal his unfathomable ennui. “I’ve got a wonderful offer for you, my friend!” Were his mind in a more lucid state, Abrams may have guessed at that news. However as his mind was clouded somewhat by the narcotics furiously racing through his veins, he was not able to fathom what Mr. Iger was talking about. “What offer?”
“JJ,” Mr. Iger said, awkwardly attempting to feign enthusiasm, “We LOVED your work on Gone Fishin’!”
It was now apparent that Mr. Iger had learned nothing from any of the mighty actors that were in his pocket; his ersatz ardor was painfully overdone.
“Why do you sound like Gilbert Gottfried having an epileptic fit?” Abrams inquired betwixt lusty puffs of his ornately festooned crack pipe.
Iger sighed. “Look, Abrams, I’ll cut the charade. I don’t like you. Nothing personal, but a man in my position is incapable of liking anything. Well, one thing-”
“Money,” said Abrams.
“Yes, JJ, and you’re no different. You are a film director; your films make money; we both want money. Therefore, I want you to do something that will bring us both so much money it will make Croesus look homeless.”
“What’s a Croesus?” Abrams was becoming confused again.
“Shut your ugly horse face, and listen, JJ. I want you to direct the new Star Wars movie for us.”
JJ Abrams sank deeply into his bejeweled AcuTouch 9500, stunned. Star Wars! Why, the original films had been the dearest things to his heart, back when he was a wee- NO! Abrams forced the sentimentality from his mind. Star Wars! Bah! Humbug! It wouldn’t do to dwell on the joy he’d felt as a child; the only joy to the adult Abrams was writ upon banknotes in the blood, sweat and tears of millions of nerds, and the depraved experience said banknotes purchased. He sat, silent, the crack pipe have long since burned out, still clutching his cellular phone to his ear, silence booming from the speaker. Iger had not bothered to wait for Abrams to answer his offer; his acceptance was a foregone conclusion. Oh, the media would be informed that Abrams was ‘considering’ it, but this, to be sure, was simply affectation. Abrams gazed at nothing in particular for what could have been a minute, an hour, or a century for all that he cared. The stimulants bandying about his biology slowly began to diminish in power, and spittle drooled from his slackened jaw.
Abrams was snapped from his trance only by the disco squeal of the Village People’s 1978 dance club masterpiece Hot Cop, which permeated the atmosphere of Abrams’ mansion like the death cries of a funky sea lion. Startled, Abrams snapped his head to and fro in a mad attempt to discover the source of the din. After a beat, he realized that Victor Willis’ campy R&B was emanating directly from his left pants pocket; it was Lindelof’s cellphone. Clearing his throat and drawing the phone out, he contorted his vocal chords to increase the pitch of his voice to cartoonish levels.
“Heeeello? This is Damon Lindelof!”
“Lindelof? You sound sick. This is Bob Iger,” the voice on the other line growled.
“No, not sick,” Abrams bleated, “Nowhere near death. How can I help yooou, Bob?”
“Well, I just got off the phone with Abrams, and he’s doing the new Star Wars. I want you to write it, Damon.”
Abrams opened his mouth to provide an affirmative response, but he was cut off by a raspy, “NO!”
“No? NO? You can’t turn me down, Lindelof, I’m Bob Iger! I control Disney, I’ll-”
Somewhat panicked, Abrams scrambled to save face, and save his second paycheck, despite not understanding what was going on. “I mean, uh, yes- I would love to-”
“NEVER!” the cruel rasp returned, now accompanied by the chilling rattle of metal on metal. The temperature in the room seemed as if to drop five degrees as the heartless disembodied voice once again called forth from the darkness. “I do not seek your coinage, Iger, I renounce your material ways. I deny your film; I deny YOU! So says Damon Lindelof!”
The rage in Iger’s voice was palpable, “No one speaks to me that way, Lindelof, I should have you killed!”
“Good luck,” the voice said, its pitiless groan now sounding bemused.
“Oh… Why… I… you… Good day!” Iger sputtered, and the connection between the two lines was abruptly cut off. Abrams stood out of his massage chair, his heart thumping furiously in wretched terror. His four eyes frantically bore down upon the mobile in his violently shivering hands, and his very blood froze when what he saw looking back up at him was not a “Slide to Unlock” screen… But Lindelof’s face!
Lindelof’s FACE! In death, Lindelof’s shorn and bespectacled visage was pallid and permeable, but there was to be no ambiguity about the matter; its rictus screamed ‘sordid’ and the earring that adorned its left ear was dizzyingly hip. This was, assuredly, Damon Lindelof. A sick feeling of fear filled Abrams’ stomach as if he’d swallowed cold lead, and he flung the late Mr. Lindelof’s phone halfway across the dark common room in the cavernous mansion. As the plastic, metal and glass of the mobile device clattered in the blackness, the form of Damon Lindelof rose to illuminate the frigid night.
Lindelof now stood his full height; the illness that struck him down was etched across his form. His Prada suit hung loose off his emaciated, festering torso, his arms were gnarled and rigid like the branches of some twisted tree, and his mouth foamed as the pollution in a city rain gutter might. All about his body, and across the mansion floor, there glowed a ghostly chain, its heavy links making Lindelof’s movements slow and pained. His voice was the hoarse croak of a man in desperate need of hydration, and when he spoke, Abrams nearly wept for fear.
“JJ… JJ Abrams! Damnation awaits you, JJ Abrams!”
“Who… are you?” Abrams trembled.
“Ask me who I was!”
“Who were you, then?” Abrams nearly choked on his words, “What do you want with me?”
“In life, I was your partner, Damon Lindelof… Now fettered in this chain I forged during my life; punishment for my misdeeds!” the phantom moaned, his rueful voice heavy with pathos. “You don’t believe in me?”
“Uh… No, I, d-d-don’t,” Abrams tripped over his own tongue, his eyes full of tears, “You could just be a h-hallucination. It’s been quite a night, and I’ve been hitting the pipe pretty hard… I’d say there’s more crack than crypt about you.”
The spectre wailed mournfully, and Abrams dropped to his knees, terrified his ever-weakening body would soon relinquish all control of its bowels and bladder. “JJ Abrams, do you recognize this chain? You bear one of your own making, forged by your own free will. I drag these links about in penance for what I’ve done; as, one day, will you.”
Abrams stood slowly, still quivering but attempting to regain control of his motor functions, with not very much success. “But, why now? What have we done? I don’t understand… You were a great man of business!”
“Business!” the ghost cried, “Nerds were my business! Fandom, entertainment, spinning delightful yarns was my business! Don’t you understand, Abrams? I stand before you now, damned by mine own pen! It was our Almighty Creator who dispensed Conotocaurious to lay his feculent jaws upon my manhood, but it was just punishment!”
“Punishment? For what?” Abrams had just managed to almost still himself, but the mention of the name of Conotocaurious the Wicked made him squirm more than ever.
“For Lost! For Prometheus! Do you see now, JJ? I cared nothing for the audience I was paid to entertain! I slapped them in the face with questions I refused to answer! I endowed beloved characters with wanton buffoonery, concerned only with the money it would net me, and utterly uninterested in crafting a logical story, or in bringing joy to the fandom! I have been cast out of Heaven for being a hack writer, who threw his talent away for want of a paycheck. The same fate awaits YOU!”
Abrams shook in his footie pajamas, a dark urine stain now spreading across their front. “But, I didn’t write the ending of Lost, I didn’t write Prometheus, I’m not like you were…”
“So… This is going to be like, a Christmas Carol? There will be ghosts? And everything will be okay at the end?” JJ allowed a small gleam of hope into his voice.
“This,” the ghost of Damon Lindelof snarled, his foamy lips twisting into a nefarious grin, “will be the gritty reboot of a Christmas Carol. It will be darker; there will be loss; it will make Charles Dickens puke in his grave. And maybe, maybe everything will be all right in the end. But that is up to you, for you have been handed the reigns of the most beloved science fiction franchise in the history of mankind. What you choose to do with it will determine your fate.”
As suddenly as it had appeared, the shade of the late Damon Lindelof had vanished into the aether, and JJ Abrams was once again alone in his sprawling mansion amidst the swirl of crack smoke and the stench of panic-urine. He slowly clambered to his feet, grasping his massage chair for support. His mind was spinning, and yet even with all his expensive creativity and his penchant for visuals, he could not have begun to imagine the gauntlet he was soon to run.
To be continued…