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Inktober 2019

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It doesn’t take Sam long to fit in at The Factory. His fellow actors are students, too — overgrown drama kids looking to make some money before they go home for Thanksgiving. And besides, there’s something about doing a show that brings people together, whether that show is Shakespeare or scaring the hell out of people in a re-purposed 19th century gun factory.

He thinks he’s met everyone by the end of the first week. It’s a small cast, but they all have a part to play, and they have to be in sync to make sure nobody gets hurt every night. He doesn’t remember everybody’s name, but it’s cool. People call him Scientist, since that’s his character, and he does the same.

Still, at the second week-end party at 3AM one Sunday (the show wraps at 2), he sees someone he doesn’t recognise hovering in the corner by the food, sending furtive looks in Sam’s direction and munching on baby carrots.

Sam thinks maybe the guy is checking him out. Which is okay, he realizes after a minute. He’s cute, with a skinny frame, blonde hair, and glasses.

“Hey,” Sam says, snagging Donny as he passes by. “Who’s that guy?”

Donny — at least, Sam thinks that’s his name, it could be Bobby — looks over and snorts softly. “Oh,” he says, “that’s Ghost.”

“I didn’t know we had a ghost in the show,” says Sam.

“Oh, no, he’s not an actor,” Donny or maybe Bobby replies. “He’s crew. Sound engineer. We call him Ghost because he mixes all the spooky soundscapes. Plus he’s kind of anti-social,” Donny adds quietly. “Nice enough guy, but he doesn’t come out with us much. Shy, I guess.”

“In this crowd, who wouldn’t be?” Sam mutters. It’s a room full of actors, after all — people who love the spotlight and aren’t afraid to attract it.

Don-Bobby obviously doesn’t hear him; he gets called away by the Banshee — Jen — and the trio of women who play the Dracu-Babes. Sam can’t tell them apart, and they rarely go anywhere independently, so it doesn’t matter.

He thinks he sees Ghost flinch at their loud laughter, and he definitely backs off when another actor comes over to food table. Sam makes a decision.

“Hey,” he says in a low voice as he approaches from Ghost’s other side.

“Hi,” says Ghost, obviously cautious.

“I’m Sam, I play the Mad Scientist,” Sam tells him.

“Steve,” says Ghost. “I play sounds.”

Sam laughs. Steve’s cheeks go slightly pink with embarrassment. “I mean,” he tries to explain. “I’m crew, I—”

“Yeah, I know,” says Sam, coming to his rescue. “You do the score, and all our soundtracks. We wouldn’t have a haunted house without you.”

“Yeah,” Steve replies, sounding a little dazed. He shakes himself. “I mean, thanks.”

The conversation grows from there — Sam learns that Steve was pushed into theatre by a friend who thought it was cure his shyness (“Little did she know I’d find another opportunity to hang out in a dark room all by myself”). Sam tells his own origin story, how he loves the stage, but he also wants to write. Then, because Steve seems interested, he recounts how he got onto this path how, at the age of ten, tired of being cast in the same role as a mute shepherd in every Christmas pageant, he wrote his own, and gave the big juicy role of the angel to himself.

Steve laughs out loud at that, and he’s got a really pretty smile. Sam’s just thinking that maybe this could be the start of something when Bob-Donny comes back and tells them they have to get out.

“It’s almost 5, you guys,” he says, slurring slightly. He smells of beer and pot. “Either come out to McDonalds with us, or go home and go to bed.”

Steve shoots Sam a look so fast that Sam almost misses it. He smiles back, and reaches out for Steve’s hand.

“Yeah,” he says. “Let’s go home.”