In a tall building in the middle of Los Angeles, there was an office. It was a dry and dreary office, boring and dull, its only decoration a plastic plant in the corner. In the center, horizontally, but more to the top vertically, was a steel desk with framed pictures of a family playing and enjoying themselves. There was also a nice, black leather chair, and in this big black leather chair sat Franklin Osborn. Franklin Osborn was a short, tired man, skin riddled with wrinkles and fat. His hair was black and his eyes gray as impossibility. Some had told him he looked like Richard Nixon, but he couldn’t see it. Wouldn’t see it would probably be a better phrase. Franklin Osborn enjoys calzones for dinner and beef jerky hour past what should have been lunch time. He’ll consistently attempt to skip breakfast, but this goal is often met with failure due to his wife’s addiction to taking care of her family. He wears a really nice black leather jacket that acts more as a status symbol than protection against cold weather.
The phone on the desk began to ring. Seeing as he had no appointments for another two hours and fourteen minutes, he grabbed the phone and started to have a conversation. Granted, it would be more the other guy’s conversation than his.
“Is this Franklin H. Osborn?”
“Executive vice president, second in command of acting talent relationships at Time Warner AOL New Line Division?”
“I’m first in command."
“What’s up? I gotta movie idea to pitch. I think you’ll like it. Do you think you could get Nicolas Cage to play the part?”
“Ugh…why not call the screenwriting division with your idea?”
“I’m giving it to you now, so take it or leave it.”
“I’m all ears.”
“Picture this:” Franklin Osborn pictured the other guy on the phone making an invisible arc with his hand. “Nicolas Cage, he’ll have a kid, let’s say in the fourth grade, a boy. He’ll go to this school, specifically-
-Eastgarden Elementary School is where Nicolas Cage drove today. He looks at the clock built into his car. It’s noon right now. He parks, gets out. The first thing he sees outside his automobile is a canopy shading the tunnel of an entrance way to the elementary school. To his left is a playground, very simplistic in design, but a playground nonetheless. He assumes that no kid would really care how big the playground is, long as there is his favorite toy or gym. He walks to the playground to find his kid. Nic assumes he’s somewhere playing around, probably on the slide of all things, but he never really found out what makes his kid tic. But hey, he’s got a dozen years or so to figure it out, right?...Or, maybe he doesn’t. Gosh, where did the time go? He thinks. It seems like just yesterday he was feeding this kid his first applesauce. He looks around, and his kid’s not on the slide. Not on the jungle gym. Not in any of the tunnels or playing in the sandbox. He finally finds his kid sitting on a brick bench with his legs going back and forth, all alone, not even his best friend with him. He is wearing a t-shirt with a button-neck and blue and white stripes. The kid has soft blonde hair that is growing in very slowly; some still say he has a baby’s head of hair. He doesn’t appreciate the teasing. His green eyes hypnotize his mom and dad, and they’ve even had an effect on a few teachers.
“Hey, bud.” Nic says.
“Hey, Dad!” The kid says. The kid runs up and hugs him. He’s a taller kid for his grade.
“Whatchya doin’, man?” Nic Cage says in a humorous voice.
“NOTHING! This is recess son! Shouldn’t you be decimating giant clock monsters with laser beams?”
“Dad, you kill giant blobs with laser beams.” Nic Cage smiles at this correction. After a moment of smiling at each other, the kid points over to the back of the school. “Hey, Dad! There’s something I wanna show you! C’mon Dad!”
Nic Cage and his kid walk down a field of lush, freshly watered grass. There are beetles and spiders crawling around the grass, among ladybugs and butterflies and mosquitos and a few tropical beetles Nic Cage didn’t expect to find around North America. Off in the distance is a rabbit, plucking away at some indiscernible vegetable.
“Boy, they really take good care of this place.” Nic Cage says. They continue down the fresh lawn of grass, the boy running. It took much longer than they had expected to reach the back of the school, but they made it. They would eventually turn to the very back of this school, which was no more than three feet separated from a steel fence.
To his surprise, Nic finds the back wall is covered in lush vines, some bearing fruit. His kid rushes to pull apart the vines, but he is not successful in creating any extra space between plant and foliage. Nicolas understands that his kid brought him here because he could pull apart the vines. He finds the motivation fruitless, as he suspects only a brick wall behind this wall of life. But he humors the kid and brings apart the vines. The outer ones could be pulled apart with his bare hands, but the inner layer is so thick that they must be cut with a knife. He pulls out his knife, and wonders what would have happened if he had been caught with a pocketknife at an elementary school. (I just kept it for good luck from time to time, feel stupid for bringing the thing here.) He blushes a hot pink, then recognizes his child’s impatience, and continues to slaughter the plant life. A sandpaper colored drape is covering an opening into a room. He is filled with suspicion on the inside, but lies to himself that it’s just a weird low-budget school anyhow. (There’s probably nothing going on here.)
So he brushes through the curtain of bristling textures and walks into the “room.” He finds the “room” is a lush pavilion, encased inside a glass dome, the only brick or cement being the entrance. Every type of plant from tree to other tree to other tree to bush to fern to other bush to vines to fruitful vines to anything you have ever dreamed of in a botanical heaven was growing in this area. There were a couple of deer, same for the zebras, a duo of green/black striped frogs, and two hummingbirds having a friendly battle with each other. Nic Cage comes to feel shame stepping into this garden with his dirty shoes and removes them. He continues to remove the socks which guarded his feet from hostile fungus. He strides with his bare feet. There is a puddle not a foot away from the entrance, which cleans his feet and sharpens and lengthens his toenails at touch. He turns to the left, and finds that a few feet in that direction is a log covered in moss. He drops to feel it and it is dry. So he sits in it, taking the time he knew he would have to take in the magic of what he just miraculously found.
“Well, what do you think Dad?” His kid says excitingly.
“I think we just found The Garden of Eden.”
A doe comes up to Nic and brushes her forehead against his shoulder affectionately. She lies down and puts her head in between father and son. The son pets her forehead calmly. The father recognizes this stroke from the way the son pet his rat terrier. A hummingbird lands on Nic’s nose, barely avoiding cutting into Nic’s forehead, and gives him a Whatchoo looken at? kinda look. All in good spirit though, and the hummingbird quickly ascends from Nic’s nose to a soft sunflower for feeding. Nic finds a chipmunk brushing up against his bare foot, and the chipmunk selfishly finds a resting place upon it. He finds a heavy grizzly bear walking to the left side of his vision. The bear comes across the male deer. Nic’s scientific instincts cause him to surmise that the bear and the male deer will engage in combat, but no such confrontation occurs. Instead, the bear meets a bush fruitful with berries, and in only a moment his head is no longer visible. Nic wishes to search more of the room, but he finds himself paralyzed with pure heavenly joy. His kid seems perfectly content for the time being, so he silent agrees to just rest there for a long period of time. When the sun appears to be halfway across noon to sunset, Nic stands up, causing the chipmunk to evacuate his resting place and the doe to lift her head.
“Hey, bud. What do you say about exploring this place?”
"I don't know dad."
“Really? This place is gorgeous. Are you sure? You’re gonna miss out on some pretty cool stuff. I think I see a Lion over there.”
“That’s okay Dad. I think I’ll just wait outside.”
Nic is met with gloom and disappointment, and somewhere in the unrecognizable cloud of potential feelings is the caution that his kid might be onto something, not to mention the happiness that he gets all this to himself, rest. His fatherly experience dictates that both these feelings are nonsensical, his training to meet society’s status quo helps, so the thoughts get pushed beyond the subconscious and into the instinctual side of his mind. He walks across the garden, observing its many life forms. There are a couple Ibexes who end a (mostly) friendly dual and celebrate their combat with a drink from a watering hole. Vines hold lush tomatoes (that’s how they grow?), over plump grapes and soaked apples (okay, I know for sure that’s not how they grow.) He finds a large pool of water, seemingly cool and peaceful, until two hippopotami emerge from their moist bath. The one on the left rests in order to slow his heartbeat, and the other wanders around for something of variety to eat – grasses are too commonly eaten to be exotic. The hippo approaches Nic Cage, and Nic is surprised by the hippo’s lack of size. He thought they’d be a foot taller and surely much wider. It also seems to be a bit slender for a hippo. (I guess they keep up good health habits, but does that explain their lack of the other two dimensions?) So the hippo sniffs Nic Cage, even brushes his teeth against his leather clothes, and finds he is not tasty, nor is the hippo bloodthirsty at this particular moment. So the fat pachyderm goes on its way, and finds a few of those soaked apples on vines to munch on.
In Eden, time works on a vastly different scale than ours. It feels like a dream. By the time Nic Cage walks five hundred feet and five hours into the night, he feels his trek has gone somewhere between fifteen and twenty minutes. I should get back to him, he thinks to himself. He looks upwards, through the glass canopy, and finds the sun has already set. He figures that time has gone long past him. He wonders if this is not the night of the next day, or the day after that. If it is still today, are his wife and son looking for him? How will his wife react to this? To his kid, and to him? (Well, I’m just lucky my kid still has a mom, otherwise I’d REALLY be screwed.) His conscious reads the thought, and suddenly takes it back. I should be thinking about my kid, selfish bastard. (But I can’t, I need myself, otherwise I’m good, right?) NO, YOU’RE WRONG DAMMIT (but you know I’m right.) NO, I LOVE MY KID (but you love yourself more, and that’s just the god damn honest truth. You’ve worked too hard to not loved yourself. You haven’t done drugs, you’ve held a good diet, you had an opportunity to kill a man for God’s sakes!! You might have hated yourself if you were a reckless teenager who went by a false philosophy of a singular lifespan, but you didn’t because you’re a good person. You’re too good to sacrifice your self-reputation for anybody else, even your own flesh and blood.) To this elaborate response, his conscious has no response. Immediate response, that is. He then decides it’s a good idea to get down on his knees and yell to the sky “JESUS CHRIST!” To the skies.
“It’s not that bad.”
“Oh, yes it is.”
“Because I’ve clearly blown the coop. Gone wack. Went nuts. Psycho-schizo. You get the gist.”
“I do, and you’re wrong. I’ve taken care of your kid; he’s safe with his mother who also completely understands the situation. Let me give you guidance across the path of which you once came.”Nic weeps a little into his hand, and then stands up, tears uncontrollably falling from his eyes – though his focus is not an illustration. He finds what is talking to him is botanical in composition and animalistic in behavior. It is a large, thick constricting fruitless vine – Hell, a leafless vine. It’s as thick as two skinny man’s arms, or one of an Olympic weight lifter. It’s a brighter shade of green than all of the other lush plants. Most of the plants were a dark, moist, grassy green, some of them emerald. But this is different. An extremely light green. One that is seen as a “primary light.”
“How do I know I should trust you?”
“Naïve fool, you have been in this garden so long and still your corrupt human nature continues to force your assumptions of universal corruption.” Nic sees the plants eyes blink and its mouth talk, and yet at the same time he doesn’t. It’s like the left eye is seeing the animal and the right eye is seeing the plant. “Everything in this garden is pure and untouched. You know this. I am pure along with everything else. For I am God’s incorrupt messenger. I am Moses’ immortal reincarnate, forever to enjoy my existence in the lost remnants of Eden.”
“Well, is that so? Well, I guess it’s good to meet you Moses. I’d shake your hand, but ugh, looks like your ‘immortal reincarnate’ is sort of limited.”
“Your tone of voice is unquestioning and comfortable with this turn of events. This surprise me.”
“I thought I saw a lion on the way in. Figures I saw a two-headed lion. Listen, I’m pretty much down with everything as long as it means I can get out of here without going to jail for child neglect.”
“Trust me, it can be done.”
“By the way, I like what you’ve done with the place. Why the glass ceiling though? Why is this place trapped?”
“You should be able to assume…” Moses looked to the back. “Come this way.”
So after that back-and-forth, Moses and Cage trekked back the five hundred feet from which Nic came. Coming, it felt like a mere fifty feet. Going, it felt like a mere fifty miles.
So Nicolas Cage returned to the sandpaper colored drape that felt as refreshing to the fingers as the fountain of youth feels to the throat. He gave one last meek good-bye wave to the botanical animal that claimed to be Moses’ reincarnate, and stepped out of The Garden of Eden.
“Now, for this next part, you might want to imagine him from the first person."
“Why?” Franklin Osborn asked.
And so he did.
Nicolas Cage met the world with a refreshing return to normality for a small period of time, enough for his brain to readjust to corruption of air and animal. He felt a sudden happy-go-lucky compulsion to step over the fence like some sort of daring fourth grader, and that’s exactly what he did. And it was in this instance when Nicolas Cage took the first step on the highway to Hell. His helpless body fell onto a slippery incline that lead into a cold river, where he broke his head on a large rock and bled to death – or suffered from hypothermia – or couldn’t stand the impact, one of the three, maybe another, there was never anything more complex to determine cause of death than observation and burial.
However, what Nicolas Cage saw was far beyond what actually happened. After this instance there was a numbness of time where static invaded the pentagon of senses. Beings smaller than electrons had epileptic seizures on his skin, his eyes could see nothing but a salt and pepper storm, his ears could hear nothing but white noise, his taste was indescribable by the human mind, and he smelled pure chaos. Then he was in a dark forest, one that seemed to be once inhabited. Tonight, nobody decided to rent a room at the Friday the 13 Inn. He could feel the dirt, see the forest, and hear the rustles of the grass, all in detail. Too much detail. The detail he could potentially be provided was torture because there wasn’t enough detail. In this reality, everything seemed to come out of a 1980’s computer game – it lacked definition. And this was a sensory contradiction that rattled what was left of Cage’s mind. He stood up, painful as it was to move amongst the dirt and grasses, and attempted to walk around the area. He saw a fence about twenty feet away. He thought that this fence, being a steel fence, was the one he had jumped off of. That didn’t explain his sudden dislocation and rotation, but it was enough for him. All he needed to know was where the hell he was, and his impatience led him to accept this first assumption. So he began to walk over to the fence. The trees were large and bulky, but like everything else in this area, lacked its definition. Ten feet walked and Nicolas tripped to his knees. He felt a raging compulsion to protect the top of his head with his hand. He looked to his side, and saw a carving on the tree. It was a warning. DO NOT LOOK THIS WAY, OR ANY WAY. ESPECIALLY BEHIND OF YOU. LOOK FORWARD ONLY. NOW RUN The text was covered in blood and cut like somebody was not rushing, but perhaps weakening to a state of vegetation. Nic Cage looked forward first, and saw a lined paper that had been blown by the wind and read another foreboding message
RUN NOW. IF HE CATCHES YOU, YOU ARE GOING TO HELL.
This message was in a big, black text, and was written in an uneven way that seemed to come straight out of the afterlife. Nicolas was certain that this was all some prank set up by some teenagers, but it was a damn good one. His suspension of disbelief was thwarted when he noticed a small text at the bottom of the lined-paper. It read: IF HE EVER LETS YOU GO. Reading these messages was like waiting for a lagging text, but despite this he was still convinced this was the one message that would discern idiots from those who could see in between the lines. So he turned around, arms spread out wide and his mouth gaping. His eyes blazing with hubris. At first, he found nothing in sight. But in a transformation as without definition as everything else, a large figure appeared. A seven foot monster with tentacles coming out of its back wearing an all-black suit. Its head was a pale potato with eyes that were as visible as that on Moses’s, yet they starred at you with yellow cat-like evil. All of Nicolas’s senses returned to their numb static noise state, and in the visual a white silhouette of the figure he had just come in contact with appeared. The audio portion of his static cut out, and a droning monologue followed.
They’re not here. You, her or him. They’re all gone, you included. If you had just walked ten more feet from here, climbed over the goddamn fence, instead of exerting your hubris, than you might have made it to Heaven. But I caught you. And I love you. I love you because now I can do all the nasty things I want to do to you, and they’re every form of torture you can imagine – and as many that you can’t. You will be subject to Hellfire and Brimstone when you enter, but believe me, that will seem like a nice whirlpool bath once I’m finished with your sorry ass. I can’t believe you. You are so cocksure that you would turn to your backside. But I guess it takes just as cocksure of an animal to step into The Garden of Eden.
“So, did you like it?”
Franklin Osborn has just listened to a pretty damn good story in his opinion. However, he finds himself dutiful to inform the vocal author of its various problems, especially pitching it as a movie.
“Kid, I don’t think this is going to work. It sounds good, but it would really only last seventy minutes at the most, probably something under fifty minutes if we cut out all the fat. What are we supposed to fill up the next twenty to forty minutes with?”
“I don’t know, home relations?”
“Yeah, that might work, but either way we’re gonna get a TON of filler. The only way this is going to be palatable is by the fact it stars one famous actor, and none others. I don’t know. Maybe we could get Ben Kingsley as the villain. But we’re honestly going to spend as much money on the actors as we’re going to get back after opening day. It might not even make back its budget based on the amount of animals and special effects you’re proposing.”
“But hey,” Franklin continued, “don’t worry. It is a good story. Might need a little touching up, but you’ve pretty much got it. You should turn it into a short story, or Hell if you can make it a short novel!...By the way, gotta ask, what’s your name kid?”
Seven weeks later Franklin would no longer be worrying about how much to pay Robert Downey Jr. for his role in the next Sherlock Holmes movie, nor was he worrying about what toppings he should put on his calzone tonight. Instead, he was worrying about how long he’d have until he could pick up a fork to eat that calzone, or if he could pick up how many one hundred dollar bills he needed to pay Robert. Because after asking that question, the phone exploded in Franklin’s hand, causing the entire palm to roast and his fingers to be detached from the bottom down. He also lost most of the flesh on the left side of his head and a couple fragments of his skull.
The funny thing was, when he finally came out of the hospital, he discovered it was in the middle of a forest. A very, very dark forest.
Written by I, Da Cashman