The Final Cut

The Final Cut

By:  Crystal Lake Publishing  Completed
Language: English
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In an East London lock up, two film makers, Jimmy and Sam, are duct taped to chairs and forced to watch a snuff film by Ashkan, a loan shark to whom they owe a lot of money. If they don’t pay up, they’ll be starring in the next one. Before the film reaches its end, Ashkan and all his men are slaughtered by unknown assailants. Only Jimmy and Sam survive the massacre, leaving them with the sole copy of the snuff film. The film makers decide to build their next movie around the brutal film. While auditioning actors, they stumble upon Melissa, an enigmatic actress who seems perfect for the leading role, not least because she’s the spitting image of the snuff film’s main victim. Neither the film, nor Melissa, are entirely what they seem however. Jimmy and Sam find themselves pulled into a paranormal mystery that leads them through the shadowy streets of the city beneath the city and sees them re-enacting an ancient Mesopotamian myth cycle. As they play out the roles of long forgotten gods and goddesses, they’re drawn into the subtle web of a deadly heresy that stretches from the beginnings of civilization to the end of the world as we know it. ©️ Crystal Lake Publishing

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40 Chapters
CHAPTER ONE“So, let me see if I’ve got this right,” Ashkan paused for effect. Like a lot of gangsters, he fancied himself a bit of an actor. The Iranian Al Pacino was how he styled himself. Right now his well practised glare was boring a hole in Sam’s forehead.“You muppets borrowed fifty grand of my money, my fucking money, to shoot a feature film. Ten days you said, ten days to shoot it. Two months to edit it, then blam, stick it out on the net as video on demand and we’ll recoup the cost in a matter of weeks. Am I lying?”“No,” said Sam, appalled at how high and frightened his voice sounded. “Look if you just give us a bit of time we can . . . ”Ashkan brought the back of his hand across Sam’s face. The blow sent Sam sprawling and the only reason he didn’t fall out of the chair was because he was held there with duct tape. The side of his face stung and it took a second for his vision to come back into focus.“When it’s your cue to fucking speak I’ll tell you, alright?” said A
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CHAPTER TWOThe camera pushed in to a close shot of the Mediterranean guy’s face. He was still babbling desperately as two dark figures moved in on either side. The figures were blurry shadows, underlit and out of focus. Sam wasn’t sure how they’d achieved the effect because the Mediterranean guy’s face was crystal clear, so were the scalpels the figures held.The blurry figures moved in unison, as though choreographed. They stretched a tight strap across the guy’s forehead to keep his head still. Only his eyes rolled wildly as he pleaded for his life. Then the figures each took hold of an eyelid and pried them apart.With their other hands the figures brought the scalpels down into the corners of the guy’s eyes. Using tiny, deft movements they severed the muscle tissue holding his eyeballs in place. The guy stopped imploring the figures and shrieked with pain and fear.Thin streams of blood spurted from the guy’s eye sockets. The figures put down their scalpels and each produced a
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CHAPTER THREEA hot jet of liquid hit Sam in the back of the head. He gasped and started to hyperventilate.“No, please . . . don’t,” he said in a high pitched voice. He hated the way he sounded, but he still begged. “Please, please don’t. Oh God don’t.”Nothing happened.He ground his teeth and waited for the first blow.It didn’t come.This was worse than torture.“Just do it, okay. Just fucking do it!”“Sam?” it was Jimmy’s voice.Sam opened his eyes and stole a glance at Jimmy. The back of Jimmy’s head was dripping with viscera.The lock up was dead quiet. Something was wrong. There were thick gobs of blood and torn flesh on Sam’s shoulders. He could feel it dripping from his man bun down the back of his neck.“Jimmy,” Sam said. “Are you okay?”“I think so, how about you?”“I dunno, are you sure you’re okay? The back of your head is covered in blood.”“Yeah, but I’m pretty sure none of its mine. You?”“They never touched me. I kept waiting for them to do something, b
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CHAPTER FOURIt was a short walk to Bethnal Green Road but it seemed to take forever to Sam. The sun was really bright and he felt ridiculously exposed. He was dripping with blood and he’d wet himself, how could he not attract attention.Sam and Jimmy kept to the back streets. The blood dried quickly and seemed almost to evaporate, disappearing as mysteriously as the blood in the lock up. No-one paid them any attention when they hit the main road. Typical Londoners, ignoring everything they didn’t want to see.Sam tried hailing a couple of black cabs but they weren’t having any of it. Eventually an empty one pulled up at some traffic lights and they tried to jump in.“Sorry lads,” said the driver, a middle aged guy with thinning hair and brown teeth. “But I can’t have you in the back like that.”“Please,” said Sam. “We’ve got to get out of here. It’s all dried, we won’t ruin your upholstery.”“Listen, whatever it is, I’m not interested. I don’t want any trouble.”“It’s not like
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CHAPTER FIVESam closed his apartment door then slumped against it. Jimmy, already in the hallway, turned and caught his eye.No words were necessary. More passed between them in that look than either could have spoken aloud. Sam felt a cold shudder move through him as he came down from the drug . It was wearing off and so was the adrenalin that had kept him going till now.“I’m going to go grab a shower,” Sam said, trying to keep his voice from breaking into a sob. He had to hold it together in front of Jimmy, had to be strong for him. He knew how much Jimmy needed that right now.The scalding hot water couldn’t stop Sam from shivering as he stood beneath it and wept. Images of the footage raced through his mind, mingling with the sounds of Ashkan and his men being butchered. He wanted the water to penetrate his skull and wash them all from his brain. With each powerful sob that escaped him, he admitted the weight they exerted on his soul and how indelibly they’d marked him. He wo
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CHAPTER SIX“So who’s sending him these links?” said Sam.“What?”“Who’s sending him these links?”Jimmy took a deep breath and heard his chest rattle. His childhood asthma always threatened to come back when he was stressed. Script meetings weren’t usually so stressful. It was normally one of the most fun parts of the film making process. Jimmy came up with ideas for the plot, Sam picked holes in them and they solved the problems together, throwing out all kinds of solutions and plot directions till they had the sucker nailed. It was how they always worked.Only right now it wasn’t working and they weren’t enjoying it. They shouldn’t have held the meeting at Sam’s apartment, the place held too many recent memories.“It doesn’t matter.”“Of course it matters, it’s a key plot driver. It’s like having a murder mystery and never finding out who does the murder.”“But that’s the point, you just said the key word.”“What key word—murder?”“No, mystery, that’s what make it so unner
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CHAPTER SEVENJimmy leaned on the balcony railing and gazed down into the canal as the final rays of sunlight fled the sky. He took one last drag of his cigarette and flicked the butt towards the towpath, admiring the sudden cascade of sparks as it hit the ground.He needed Sam on board with this project. He couldn’t let it go, not now. He had too much invested in it emotionally. He wasn’t sure why it meant so much to him, but it gripped him like no other project before.It wasn’t just that it was going to be edgy and daring, walking that line between fantasy and reality, using footage of an actual murder. Making the viewer wonder how much of the torture is real. Few of them would realise.He also felt there was an important statement to be made about the genre as a whole. This film was going to either damn or redeem him, both as an artist and a human being. This opportunity for salvation or damnation had a specific gravity, and Jimmy’s soul was caught in its pull. Like the glowing
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CHAPTER EIGHTJimmy hated auditions. They were an exercise in mutual humiliation. You sat behind a rickety table, in a musty rehearsal room, and pretended to be interested in the resumes of a dismal procession of drama school drop outs, who pretended to be interested in your film.Because it was an Indie horror film, none of the agents they contacted sent their brightest or best. The guy they’d just seen had nothing but extras work on his resume. The highlight of which was a Swedish advert for haemorrhoid cream in which he’d been: “at the front of the queue of people who pushed their way out of the lift at the end.” This gave him a “full second close up in the lengthier cut.” The saddest thing was that, although abysmal, he wasn’t the worst person they’d seem that day.The next two actors pulled a no-show.“Maybe that’s a blessing,” said Jimmy. “Let’s just knock it on the head and go down to the pub.”“No,” said Sam, ever practical. “We’ll give them ten more minutes then we’ll go
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CHAPTER NINE“Here he is,” said Alfie, as Jimmy walked into the tiny front room of Alfie’s council flat. “George Jung, famous coke smuggler.”The comment was a reference to the real life character Johnny Depp played in the film Blow, one of Alfie’s favourites. It was also a dig at Jimmy over the coke deal, that had gone spectacularly wrong.“More like cock smuggler,” said Tim, a tall fat bloke with a huge beard, who took up more than half the sofa he was sprawling on. He was usually round Alfie’s when Jimmy called.“Or cock juggler,” said Alfie. He was a short guy, no more than five foot five, with dark hair, shaved at the sides. He had a Cypriot look on account of his Greek dad and spoke in a broad east end accent. He was also an inveterate gossip and sold the best blow in North London. Nothing went down north of the river that he didn’t know about within hours, even though he hardly left his high rise flat.Jimmy had a ton of things he’d promised to do that day. He also had five
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CHAPTER TENThe studio they were renting was on the top floor of a converted warehouse by the river. Sam was with Melissa, filming the scenes where she, as Nadine, was alone in bed, dreaming of torture in a dingy cellar. Jimmy wondered what Melissa would think if she could see the footage they were going to splice in as the dreams she was having? He guessed she would see some of it eventually, just not in its current form.Sam and Jimmy hadn’t finished the script yet, but they’d worked the bedroom scenes into shape. Those seemed the best things to shoot first. They both agreed it was the easiest way of breaking Melissa into the project.Neither of them was sure she was going to show as they waited for her that morning. They’d had no contact with her since the audition, nearly three weeks ago. She did turn up though, and only twenty minutes late. She’d been firm about keeping to her condition of having only one person on set with her at a time.She’d chosen to work with Sam that day
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