Some Kind of Superstar: Part Two
The interior of the trailer is all one room, with white plasterboard walls and a bare light bulb dangling from the ceiling. Two sofas sit facing each other in the middle of the trailer and behind them is a plain desk. Three Neopets sit at the desk; the Bruce who came in with me goes to sit with them. Two other Purple Shoyrus are sitting on the sofas. I assume they’re also auditioning. I narrow my eyes and focus on my opponents. Either one of them could take away my ride to stardom. One of them looks nervous and shaky; I count her out immediately. But the other looks like my reflection – tall, confident, entirely self-assured. She looks like she already knows she has the part. I glare at her and sit down on the sofa with the nervous-looking Shoyru.
“Hi,” she squeaks, turning to me. “I’m Nathalie.” She extends a hand and I shake it reluctantly.
“Kris,” I say gruffly. I’m not interested in being friends with her. I’m actually thinking that if I can intimidate her, she’ll be even more nervous and flunk her audition. Cruel, and probably a bit below-the-belt, but all’s fair in love and war. Whatever that means. But I’m not going to be losing any sleep over it.
“And I’m Cara,” says the other pet, the confident one. Confident Cara doesn’t offer to shake hands. We go into something of a staring match; glaring at each other, delving fixatedly into the other’s eyes. We don’t find out who wins, because one of the Neopets at the back stands up and addresses us.
“Okay, ladies, you’re the only ones who’ve showed up. That doesn’t mean that one of you is guaranteed to get the job. If nobody’s right for it, we chuck you out and write a new part. Got that?” He’s a Gold Ogrin with massive glasses that magnify his eyes beyond all reason. I don’t know why he’s being so stern. Maybe he’s trying to pressure us into making a mistake or getting really nervous, like I was doing to Nathalie. And Cara, I guess.
“Yes, sir,” says Cara. It appears she’s elected herself spokesperson for the entire group of us. But she’s not, and I’m not going to let her take control like that. And besides, I’m not mute.
“Sure thing,” I say brightly, co-operatively. I look sideways at Cara. She looks like someone just snatched away the title of Supreme Ruler of Neopia from under her nose. She’s furious. Looks like I’m somehow insubordinate or something. Well, it’s not like she’s actually our leader. She just wants to think she is. I grin merrily at her and look back at the Neopets at the desk. For the first time I realize who they are; the selection committee, the people who’ll actually be choosing us. They have to power to change our futures, our lives.
“Names?” asks a Pink Cybunny down the end.
“Cara,” says Cara instantly, standing up. The Cybunny throws her something small and black. As I expect, Cara catches it flawlessly. It’s a kind of rubber wrist-strap with a number 1 on it.
“We need you to wear that at all times,” says the Gold Ogrin. “You all look pretty much the same and we need to tell you apart.” Cara grimaces but slides the band over her wrist.
“I’m Kristen,” I say next. I figure it’s best to use my full name for this. I’d prefer not to, but it’s an official thing and there could be paperwork or something legal. I receive an identical thick rubber band, except this one has a number 2 on it. Nathalie receives one with a 3.
“Okay, number one,” says an ancient Green Techo, who’s wearing the most appalling cardigan I’ve ever seen. Her voice is really creaky and strained. “You first. Two, three, please wait outside.” I nod to Nathalie and follow her out of the trailer door. The door is closed behind us by Cara, and I settle down for a long wait.
“Do you think the numbers mean anything?” asks Nathalie nervously. I keep attributing that to her. I think I’ve called her nervous a billion times at least. But it suits her. We’ve got Confident Cara and Nervous Nathalie. Sounds like a band or something. Which makes me... something-starting-with-K Kris. Not a clue. I can’t think right now.
“I think it’s just identification,” I shrug.
“You don’t reckon they gave her the number one because they already think she’s better?” Nathalie’s voice is trembling. She’s on the verge of tears! I thought they wanted a cheerful, bubbly personality. Nathalie’s a wreck.
“They gave us the numbers in the order that we spoke up in,” I explain, trying to keep my voice level. I sound like I’m dealing with a baby or something, an angry child who doesn’t understand why he can’t tear the house down. “If you’d said your name before Cara did, you’d be in there right now auditioning.”
“Ohhhh,” she groans, collapsing into a heap on the ground, her head on her knees. “Don’t remind me. I can’t do this, Kris! I thought I could, but seeing all those people... And there are so many Neopets working here! Staff and other shows and cleaners. It’s just ridiculous! I can’t act in front of all these people, but at home I can do it so easily! I guess I’m just shy.”
“It’s okay,” I say. So much for letting her wreck her audition. She’ll do that herself. But I can’t just leave her here to be miserable. I sit down next to her and hug her shoulders. “You’ll be going last. I’ll tell you how my audition goes. And it’ll all be okay. Just pretend like you’re at home; they aren’t total strangers in there! It’s your little brother and your owner and your best friends, and they’re all really proud of you for being here at all.” I smile at her reassuringly, and she gives me a fraction of a smile back.
“I don’t have a little brother,” she laughs through her tears. “But I have two sisters.”
“Alright then. Your sisters. And they’re going to be really nice and give you an A plus no matter how you do!”
“My sisters hate me,” she says softly, ironically. But I can tell she’s happier. We’re silent after that, sitting on the ground and leaning against the trailer, wondering how Cara’s doing.
She comes out like a small, purple hurricane. She flings open the door, stomps down the steps, and only pauses to look at us. I’m shocked. Her face is blotchy with tears. Her fists are balled and she looks like she’s going to break something. Possibly her own head.
“I didn’t get it,” she says unnecessarily, her voice icily cold, unlike her hot rage. She tears through the cavern, shoving people out of her way, leaving a trail of wreckage in her wake. So much for Confident Cara. I shake my head.
“NEXT!” bellows a voice from inside. I stand up and brush the dirt off. I take a deep breath, swallow, breathe again, and open the door.
“Number two? Kristen?” asks the Techo in her quivering monotone. I nod as I close the door. “Just sit down there.” She points to one of the couches. I smile at her and sit where indicated.
“Now tell us, Kristen, why do you think you should have this part?” demands the Ogrin. Not exactly what I expected for an audition. Normally you’re given a script and asked to play the role for a minute.
“Well, I looked at the description of the person you wanted,” I begin. I’ve never liked making speeches up as I go. I try to breathe deeply and calmly while I’m talking. “It said a cheery, outgoing personality. As any of my friends or family will tell you, I fulfil that pretty much completely!” I grin and continue. I’m getting into a bit of a stride here. “I’ve also had loads of prior experience. I’ve starred in several commercials-”
“Which ones?” asks the White Bruce who led me here from the Arts Centre. His name’s Steel or something like that.
“Several months ago – the most recent one – I did for the Soup Faerie. I’ve also been in ads for the Shop Wizard, the Grooming Parlour, the Book Shop, and Mystery Island holidays.” That’s pretty much all of them. There was another one I did, but it was never actually screened, which was a bit of a relief because my performance was terrible.
“So all in all, professional jobs, not commercials for some super product that doesn’t actually work,” the Bruce suggests. Steein! That’s his name. Steein.
“Yes,” I agree. He nods at me to continue. “I’m also a member of the local acting group – Lost Desert Drama.” Dodgy name, I know – everybody thinks so. It sounds like... I don’t really know. Repulsive. “They can provide details about whatever.”
“Hmm...” says the elderly Techo gratingly. She looks sideways at her fellow judges. They whisper for a few moments. I twist my hands in my lap. This is longer than Cara was in here for.
“Very well. We will take you to the next level,” says the Ogrin. He holds up several pages. I stand and take them, leafing through. A massive thrill runs down my spine and I can’t help grinning insanely. The pages are a script of dialogue between members of the new family on Caulfield Lane. The family my character is part of. Well, the character I’m trying out for. Not my character, per se. Not yet. But I’m one step closer.
To be continued...