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Bit Player

Editor, author, teacher, spy. Cat Rambo has done it all. Daily Science Fiction is particularly pleased that she has found time to share many stories on these very pixels over the last several years. Her debut novel, Beasts of Tabat, appears this April from Wordfire Press
It's dark and I'm here alone.
Not entirely dark. My fire casts a tiny wavering circle on the sand. Out in the darkness, I hear waves crashing on the beach.
No stars, of course. They took those away when they disassembled most of the set.
I wonder what he's doing now.
They kept telling us what high ratings his show was getting. All of us bit players should be proud, the producers said. When he couldn't see us, we celebrated, giving each other high fives while we waited for him to appear and pass. When he came into sight, we'd act as we'd been instructed. He wasn't to know that it was a show.
That it wasn't real.
That we weren't real.
That's what my mind keeps circling. None of it was real.
I had a speaking part, two lines. "What'll you have?" and "That'll be two bucks," as I gave him his hotdog. I delivered them with panache, drawing on the background I'd created for my character: a decent, hardworking hotdog vendor who'd go home that night to his cat and the latest episode of Big Sibling.
Thank God I wasn't the one who tipped him off and made it all come crashing down. That was his love interest's doing. She said it was an accident, but I wondered privately if she hadn't gotten too wrapped up in her role and started to love him enough to clue him in. That was when he put it all together and realized it was all a show, a show about him.
They'd been prepared for more seasons, maybe even his entire life.
But it couldn't go on once he knew.
It wouldn't feel real enough that way.
So now it's all over and I keep returning to that question of reality. For a little while I wondered if the show wasn't about me, about what happens to a bit player.
Then it came to me that I couldn't remember anything other than being an actor. No childhood, no teenage years, not even a love interest. Just the acting.
The others left too, but I'm still here.
And as long as I'm here, I'll still be real. Here in the cold and the dark.
Still real.
Aren't I?
The End
This story was first published on Monday, March 23rd, 2015

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