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Welcome to my story blog. I will post one new story here every day. You are welcome to comment on any or all of them. Enjoy!
                   --Lee Pound

Day 127 - Cattle Call

John joined the line at nine that morning. It already stretched from the door around one corner and down one block when he arrived. It promised to be worth it, however, from everything John had heard.

The line did move, slowly. After ten minutes they had moved half a block, meaning about another hour to get to the door. John had heard that they were looking for half a dozen young men to play a certain role. Could be dangerous he had heard but then you never knew. All he knew was that it would pay well.

He’d never seen the building before. There was no sign over the door and no way to tell which company was involved. John stepped forward every so often as the line moved. He said nothing to the men in front of or behind him. No sense talking to them. Besides, nobody else was talking; they just glumly stared straight ahead and waited for the line to move.

Finally they arrived at the door, where a man handed each of them a sheet of paper, a release of some kind. The silence was a bit unnerving. John walked into the building. The line moved across a wide open floor, constrained by two cordons that kept it single file. The far end was dark. The line kept moving into the building toward the dark area. He strained his eyes but saw little.

Still they moved, toward some unknown place where something was about to take place. John was beginning to wonder what was about to happen. He’d been on lots of cattle calls in the movie business but nothing quite like this. Usually they were noisy, lots of directors and assistants running around, lots of activity.

John was pretty sure he met the criteria. They wanted young men, aged under 30, no wife or kids. That sounded strange too but it came with the territory.

They inched across the room. John read the paper he’d been handed and signed it. As he suspected it was a release of liability. The company wouldn’t be responsible if anything happened.

He heard some noise up ahead. It sounded like a crowd cheering or something, he couldn’t quite tell what. That was odd.

A staffer took his release paper and pointed him toward a door a few feet away. “Put on what’s in the room,” the man said. “Open the other door when I tell you.”

The clothing in the room was a simple white tunic, such as might have been worn in Roman times. There was a plastic sword on top of it. Must be the tryout, he thought. He shed his clothes and put on the tunic.  This felt very strange.

A voice from the other side of the door said, “Go on in.”

John picked up the sword, opened the door and stepped through. The door slammed shut behind him. He glanced around. He was in a Roman style arena, on a dirt surface, surrounded by stands filled with a cheering crowd. He walked forward, uncertain of what to do.

The crowd roared. He followed its attention and saw on the far side of the arena several open gates. More men, he thought. Then he heard the roars and snarls and saw the dust rise as something rushed into the area from the doors. Feet thundered in his direction.

He froze. He turned. There was nowhere to go. Behind him was a blank wall. In front of him, a pack of snarling lions.

The sword, made of wood, was less than useless. He kept it because it at least gave the appearance of a defense.

This was a bizarre show and he was the star attraction. He realized as the lions closed in that this was indeed a cattle call. And he was one of the cattle. He ran toward the door where he’d entered but couldn’t find it. In an instant the lions were on him.

It was feeding time and he was dinner.

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