The Pitches

It was around two in the afternoon on a Tuesday in August when five young writers were led into a dimly lit chamber beneath the main headquarters of Kriskoff Productions, Ltd. Their blindfolds were removed, and they were presented in a row before renowned movie producer Lev Drillshaft, heir to the Kriskoff media empire. The signal was given, and the writers began delivering their pitches.

The first writer was a fresh-faced young man with an air of confidence about him that failed to betray the deep terror he felt as he came face to face with the behemoth who would be responsible for his fate. He strode up to Drillshaft and described his idea with stunning clarity and precision.

“Picture this: you’re in a city, a metropolis, somewhere on the Western Hemisphere. It could be London, it could be Berlin, it could be Kalamazoo. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that there are certain rules that govern this world. Get it? Good.”

He took a moment to gauge Drillshaft’s reaction, but could glean nothing from those cold eyes.

“There’s a man, only he’s not really a man. He’s something more ambiguous. A concept, maybe. He lives in this city, but he also is this city. And he works as an exterminator, and he’s supposedly one of the best. Only, he never gets rid of any roaches of termites. That’s what people pay him to do, but he never does it. But — wherever he goes, kids end up going missing! And the thing is, the people of this city have realized, subconsciously, that this guy will destroy all their children, and all they have to do is turn a blind eye to it, and they love it!”

Drillshaft coughed slightly, but otherwise remained stoic.

“But that’s not all! This guy — thing — is also super into music, and he likes to share his music with the kids he kills. And I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right: this is actually a modern day reimagining of the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.”

Drillshaft gave his assistant a signal. The assistant gestured for the guards to escort the writer out of the room.

But the writer would not give up: “But see, it’s also a deconstruction!”

It was too late. The guards took him to another room, where he was promptly shot in the head.

The second writer was a sharp-dressed woman. Slightly older than her predecessor, she had a sadness in her eyes and a weariness in her voice. She approached Lord Drillshaft with trepidation and proceeded to make her case.

“Alright so…the movie starts with a woman walking into a movie producer’s office to pitch an idea for a screenplay she wants to write. You see where I’m going with this…”

She sort of half-smiled at Drillshaft, and immediately realized that was a mistake.

“The story she pitches is about a woman who’s pitching a story to a movie producer and that story is about another woman who’s pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman who’s pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman who’s pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer about a woman pitching a story to a movie producer — “

And at some point during her recursive rambling, the second writer began foaming at the mouth and ultimately collapsed onto the floor of the room, her humanity and all semblance of rationality gone forever.

The third writer was then ushered in front of Master Drillshaft. He was a meek man, well past his prime, hoping the make good on a second or third chance provided generously by the studio. As he prepared to deliver his pitch, he broke out into a cold sweat, his scrotum shriveled to the size of a snow pea, and a gentle stream of urine began to trickle out of the tip of his penis (which itself was attempting to retreat up into his lower abdomen). With all the grace of a posturing chihuahua, he began to speak.

“Okay, so, so, so there’s this boy….and he’s a simple boy and he lives with his single mom in a small town and he’s like all the other boys, only he’s different, because he’s special. Because, see, this boy actually has a secret. And what’s that secret you ask? Well it’s not what you think, I’ll tell you that much. And so, what’s great about this story is that it’s about the boy, but it’s also about every boy, but it’s also about a special boy and no one can really be that special so there’s also that. But — and this is a big but — the boy is also a girl. See, I know how people these days, people these days, they want more things about stuff that you don’t normally see. So, if the boy isn’t just a boy, then he’s different. But that’s not why he’s special, because everyone can be whatever they want, so that’s not even a thing. But he’s also special in a way that no one can be. Otherwise, why would anyone care about him? Am I right? So anyway, the boy goes on an adventure, and he learns a lot of stuff, but also, not in the usual way, and in some ways he doesn’t learn, because that would be surprising. So he grows, as a character, because of course he does, but also, he doesn’t, because it’s more interesting if he doesn’t. Right? And he has a mentor, but the mentor also has his own motivations, and the movie is, in a sense, about the mentor’s journey too, because it would be boring if it was just about one person. But obviously the boy is still the main character, because you have to have a main character. But the mentor is important too, and he’s like the bad guy, only there’s also another bad guy, but then…maybe they’re the same person. And the boy learns that he can’t trust his mentor, but also that he can relate to the bad guy. And it’s really subversive, but it’s also something everyone can like. Yeah? Does that make sense? That makes sense, right? Isn’t this what people like? Isn’t this what people want to see?”

Drillshaft said nothing, but with his mind, summoned several animate potato peelers, which proceeded to skin the third writer alive. Later, he was forced to wear his skin as a cloak as he was paraded around the studio lot.

Then it was the fourth writer’s turn. But — to everyone’s surprise — the fourth writer was not a writer at all; he was a little orphan boy with a dirty face and no shoes. And, as he approached God-Emperor Drillshaft, he did not deign to deliver any kind of pitch. Instead, he began to sing the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah.” He sang with the power of a thousand choirs, the passion of a million spurned lovers, the sadness of billion weeping mourners, and the grace of a trillion waltzing angels. Had Leonard Cohen himself heard the boy, he would have plucked a glowing crown of holly from atop the world tree and placed it upon his head, then resigned himself to silence for the rest of his life. Had the boy’s parents borne witness to their child’s triumph, they would have risen from the grave and embraced their forgotten offspring and never let go. Everyone in the room was moved to tears…

Everyone except for Drillshaft, who snapped his fingers in the middle of the third verse, sending the boy to a realm of darkness, where he was torn apart and eaten by an esoteric death-cult in an orgiastic feast of blood.

At last, it was time for the fifth and final writer to pitch their movie. As far as everyone in the room knew, the fate of the world may well have rested on this storyteller’s ability to captivate a being of iron constitution and infinite stoicism.

The fifth writer was a sea slug.

It squirmed up to the Cosmic Entity Formerly Known as Lev Drillshaft and began emitting a low humming noise. The noise gradually grew louder and louder, until it became unbearable for almost everyone in the room, as their ears began to bleed and their eyes boiled over in their sockets. Their flesh began to slough off their bones, which themselves began to disintegrate. Soon, everyone was dead apart from Drillshaft.

And, when the sea slug turned off its terminal frequency and waited for an evaluation, a single tear flowed downward from the mighty executive’s eye, crashing onto the ground with the force of a tsunami.

The sea slug was then taken from that dark room and injected with a serum which caused it to expel a strange, caustic substance. That substance was taken to a cabal of elite chemists who managed to solidify it. That solid was then dried-out and turned into a fine powder. And that powder was snorted by the top writers employed by Kriskoff Productions, Ltd.

And together, they wrote the screenplay for the most mediocre film ever made.

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