The Truman Show II: Through the Door in the Sky
By "Matrix Refugee"
I do not "own" the characters, concepts, etc. of The Truman Show, which are the
property of Peter Weir, Andrew Niccol, Columbia Pictures, et al. I also do not
"own" any of the actors who allegedly "appear" in the "film", except Otto
Stuckmeyer and Jake Jacobi, who are my own creations.
The Truman Show begs for a sequel; after Truman opens that door in the painted
backdrop and steps through, what happens to him? Does he escape? How does he
adjust to the real reality? And…does he find Sylvia? To fom4life, who got on my
back to finish this—after he'd told me I should find some more lucrative end for
my writing talent; his niece saw the movie and wanted to know what happened
next, and to the All Mighty: "Ev'rything I do…I do it for you…"
But first, something I doubt any other fanfiction has ever before had…
Paramount Pictures presents
A Scott Rudin Production
A Peter Weir Film
Ed Harris Jude Law
The Truman Show II
Otto Stuckmeyer Joe Pantoliano
With Jake Jacobi as Montressor
Sylvia Thomas & Truman Burbank
Written by Andrew Niccol and R.C.H. Mulhare
Directed by Peter Weir
* * * * * *
Chapter I: The Grand Escape
As he stepped through the doorway, Truman stepped into pitch-black darkness so thick he feared for a moment that he had gone blind. He glanced back, but the light still shone from the soundstage.
The soundstage…his world had been the set of a television show. He turned away from that phony light and walked into the darkness. He put his hands out before him, feeling his way around, feeling for walls or other obstacles.
His eyes adjusted to the blackness. He made out shapes in the shadows: trucks for hauling large set pieces or what have you, piles of lumber and other things he couldn't identify. He groped around them, trying to find a door out.
Something squawked in the dark, a garbled and static-crackling sound like a voice on a radio.
A beam of light hit him in the face. Truman flinched and almost turned back.
"Who's there?" a deep voice barked behind the light. Truman froze, not knowing where to run. Part of him hoped the stranger behind the light would ignore him if he stayed still.
"It's him," said a second voice, behind the light. "20-3, we got him down here, what are we supposed to do?"
The voice on the walky-talky garbled an order.
The shadow, or rather the security guard stepped toward him, bringing the light. "Okay, Truman, let's get back inside where it's safe," the first guard coaxed.
"No way!" Truman snapped. He bolted out of the light and ran blindly into the dark.
He smacked into a wall, but he kept his wits to feel around it for a doorway. He felt a huge metal overhead door and scrambled to find a switch to open it. He hit something that gave.
A motor clanked and whined into motion. The darkness lifted before him. As soon as the door had opened enough for him to duck through, he bolted out into the light.
Uniformed men rushed at him, trying to enclose him. He dodged them and ran down a vast corridor, toward the light.
Something exploded behind him. An orange nylon net fell over him, but he squirmed away and fled into the light.
He ran through a set of wide-open doors into the sunlight. The real sunlight from a real sun in the real sky shone down on him, warmer than the fake light in the studio. The pavement beneath his feet…he was running on real asphalt over real dirt on the real earth. For a moment he slowed down to look around him.
Another shot cracked behind him. He bolted to escape the nylon net that fell toward him. It wrapped around his leg, but he ran as hard as he could, trying not to trip on it, till it unwound and dropped off him. He fled, looking for a way out of the lot.
A guard with a German shepherd on a leash stepped out from between two trucks parked outside the building. The guard snapped off the lead.
"Rolf! Get him!" the guard shouted, pointing at Truman. The dog snarled and lunged at Truman. He forced himself to stay still. As the dog lunged at him, he kicked it in the throat. The dog yelped and ran away. Truman ran like hell for a chain link perimeter fence he saw in the distance.
He reached the fence and fought to climb it. He struggled to the top and crept between the strands of barbed wire at the top. Scratched but still breathing, he climbed a few feet down, then dropped to the ground, landing on the shoulder of an access road.
Security guards stepped out of the bushes and from concealed cars. Some held more dogs by the leashes; others were armed with more net guns and tranquilizer guns. He forced himself to hyper focus on the main road just visible through the trees up ahead. He ran toward it with his last strength. His lungs burned. A stitch in his side stabbed him at every step. His head sang, sweat pouring from his body. He felt the guards' eyes following him as they waited for an order over their radios. But they left him alone. He hadn't run like this since he'd tried out for track in college. But he had a better reason this time:
Truman almost passed out from exhaustion and relief when he felt the dirt at the side of the main road crunching under his tennis shoes. He looked back for a second. The guards had stepped back, guns lowered, dogs lying at their feet.
He had passed the first barrier.
He ran for several hundred yards more, then he dropped to his knees in the dirt and, despite his scratches, rubbed his face in it. Real dirt of the real ground, nothing fake or shipped in.
But something pricked his thoughts. I can't lie here forever; they might change their minds.
Whoever "They" were.
He pulled himself to his feet and started walking along the road.
* * * * *
At Cristoff's orders, one camera remained trained on a single spot on the set: the open door.
He sat alone in his apartment high atop the Ecosphere. He sat alone in his chair, staring at a monitor that bore the lone image of a blue sky, an open door, a rectangle of black at the top of a camouflaged stairway.
The work of twenty-nine years had ended like some sick joke. His star actor, who remained more than a star to him, had escaped him. The very thing he had hoped and worked to prevent had happened.
On the glass-topped end table at his elbow lay a semi-automatic handgun. Loaded.
* * * * *
Sylvia wasn't sure where to drive first, right to the EcoSphere and find Truman there, or to headquarters to tell the rest of the TLF, the Truman Liberation Front. Ten years of separation, and five years of helping the cause for Truman's freedom; even his escape didn't make those last five years a waste of time.
She knew Truman couldn't have gotten far right away, so she stopped and ran to a payphone at a gas station. She dialed the number for the office.
"TLF, the Truman Liberation Front," a young man's voice said when it picked up. She heard applause and cheers in the background; someone was singing Beethoven's Ninth while someone else sang the "Hallelujah Chorus".
"Hey, Jerry, I'm driving to the EcoSphere. Is anyone else going there?"
"I'm about to round up the welcome-to-the-real-world committee. Shall we meet up with you?"
"No, not right away. It's best if he sees a familiar face first."
"Your face will help him make the transition; he'll find out what you really look like," he said with the usual delicate sarcasm.
"I gotta run."
"We'll run slower after you. Death to the demon Eugene Cristoff!"
She hung up and jumped back into her tiny rat car.
* * * * *
Amid all the celebrating in TLF world headquarters in an office space over a box factory, a slim, slight-built young man with dark hair and green eyes set a phone receiver down slowly. Televisions throughout the war room carried the final image of The Truman Show: the open doorway in the painted "sky".
Jerry picked up the phone again and dialed. The line rang for a while, then it picked up.
"Jaaahh?" a deep, sleepy voice asked.
"Hey, Dietrich, put the TV on."
"Any station. It's happened."
* * * * *
Truman sat for a long while on the embankment, catching his breath in the shelter of some bushes, looking back at the massive domed building he had just left. It was so big it blotted out half the sky in one direction; the thing must have been ten miles long from one end to the other. He turned away from it and turned back to the road. A cool breeze and the sunlight shining through the leaves dried his clothes, still sopping from the water and now damp with his sweat.
He leaned back on the slim trunk of a small tree and breathed deeply, trying to get his bearings. This road had to go somewhere, but he wasn't sure which way to go.
A few cars whizzed by. He considered thumbing for a ride, but he still wasn't sure which way he should go; anyone who picked him up would ask him where he was going. He couldn't exactly say, "I'm going to Fiji," they'd think he was a nut.
For that matter, was hitchhiking to the nearest city an option? If he had been the star of a TV show, how famous was he? How well viewed was 'The Truman Burbank Show, Starring Truman Burbank', or whatever it was called. Any driver who picked him up might recognize him. He decided he was better off walking as far back from the road as possible, where he could still see it and follow it.
He got up and looked around. The road to the left somehow looked promising. He started walking that way, through the bushes along the road. At length he abandoned that idea: the leaves and branches kept whipping his face. He finally settled on walking along the roadbed, keeping his head turned away from the cars.
* * * * *
Only one access road lead to the EcoSphere, so Sylvia knew exactly what road she'd find Truman on. He couldn't get far; she'd be able to pick him up easily and drive him to headquarters, where they'd had everything ready for him if they ever freed him.
Their original plan had been to lobby public and political support to have OmniCam's broadcast license suspended for breach of privacy and then to have them slapped with slavery charges and shut down. But these methods had been to little avail: the public took too much interest and delight in watching "The Show" and the few politicians and senators affiliated with the TLF consistently got outvoted by factions just as blind as the rest of the general populace. Their chief ally, Ariel Schmit (R-California), once delivered the longest filibuster in history, thirty-six hours, trying to block a bill that would protect OmniCam. The bill was still stalled, but now that Truman had escaped, it might just go through.
But now all those efforts had proved unnecessary. Now they would have the task of helping Truman adjust to the real world. And she hoped she could help.
But it would be great to see Truman again, for real. She had the episodes of their short-lived romance on DVD, but she barely needed to watch them: the images montaged in her mind and heart every day.
Screaming tires broke her reverie. She stared into her rearview.
A black Cadillac bore down on her from behind. She stamped on the accelerator to keep from getting rear-ended. The car behind speeded up.
Her car jerked forward and spun out. She forced herself to breath evenly as she steered into the spin. She focused her eyes on the dashboard to keep from getting dizzy; the car lost momentum.
She stopped facing the wrong way. She looked back. The Caddy barreled up the road and over the crest of a hill, out of sight.
* * * * *
Truman walked up a hill; he hadn't passed any buildings yet, but he knew he had to be getting close to civilization, unless that huge fortress he'd just escaped was out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it was. Maybe the maniac who'd dreamt up this sick joke had been careful to place the fortress far away from other people. Maybe he'd have to thumb a ride after all.
Tires screeched beyond the hill. What was this?
A huge black Cadillac with a smashed headlight lurched over the crest of the hill. It plowed straight toward him. He dove into the bushes and tried to hide.
Three men in black jumped out of the Cadillac and crashed into the bracken after him. He ran, dodging branches and leaves.
He tripped over a fallen log and fell flat. He noticed it was hollow, big enough around for him to crawl into. Ignoring the spider webs on the end, he crawled inside, feet first.
Footsteps crunched on the fallen leaves. He lay still as death. Someone passed by the end of the trunk. They walked away.
He lay there for a long time, not daring to move until he knew the strangers had gone. Finally, when he heard nothing that sounded like his pursuers, he pulled himself out of the log.
He sat on top of the log for a long while, listening. Finally, he got up, brushed himself off, and limped back toward the road.
He hid in the bushes for a while, watching the road. Nothing went by except for a chicken truck and some regular cars. He stepped out of his covert and set off again.
Someone else wanted him, he guessed. That car had come from the opposite direction, so it had nothing to do with the Fortress. Then who were those men?
He didn't have the energy to waste pondering this; he had to keep walking.
* * * * *
Sylvia breathed deeply, trying to get her bearings back. She turned the car around; her neck ached and she had to get to a payphone, call an ambulance, have her car towed, call Jerry and let him know it had been abortive. She'd had a friend die of whiplash, so she knew the consequences.
She found a gas station and pulled in. the pain her neck nearly made her faint. The attendant, an older man in his sixties wearing neat coveralls, brought her inside, got her some coffee and made the call for her.
"You get clipped by that Caddy that ran through doin' a hundred a little while back?" he asked.
"Thought as much, way they teared through. Say, yer someone, ain'tcha?" He looked at the screen of the mini-TV that stood on the counter; the news carried a shot of the open door, while a commentator quacked about the "unprecedented development". He looked back at her. "Yer her, yer his real girl."
* * * * * *
At length, Truman saw signs of life: a few gas stations and houses at first, then small businesses and roadside stands. At length, he passed by larger shops and stores, shopping centers and office buildings, all real, all so different from the quaint little structures he had known.
He hadn't eaten since the night before and he'd been walking for hours now. He had to find some place to get a meal.
To be continued…
That was a tantalizingly short chapter, wasn't it? I'll be trying to get the next chapters out at least one a week, since I have two other fanfictions in progress. For those of you who are familiar with my infamous "A.I. [Artificial Intelligence]" fictions, I got back to this while trying to take a break from the lascivious Gigolo Joe fictions, only to have a character who resembles Jude Law show up in this (the fact that I just saw another, considerably darker reality-bending movie, eXistenZ, which features the green-eyed beauty, doesn't help either!). One of the advantages of being unemployed: you get lots of time to writewritewrite… the hard part is typetypetyping it!