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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. Copyright Â© 2009 by Nina Kiriki Hoffman.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Hoffman, Nina Kiriki.
eISBN : 978-1-101-05066-8
1. Makeup artistsâFiction. 2. MagicâFiction. I. Title.
To my sister. Thanks.
I am eternally grateful to E. Larry Day, special effects makeup artist of Chimera Studios (www.chimerastudios.com
), who let me ghost him for a day on a movie set and was nice in every other way. My thanks to his crew as well, especially Molly, who answered many questions and showed me makeup tools and continuity Polaroids of actors being very silly.
I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to my sister, Valley Via Reseigne, production manager (among other things), and her husband, Richard Reseigne, construction coordinator (among other things), for help with the technical details of life on a movie set.
To Valley I am also grateful for introducing me to E. Larry and letting me tell movie people I am related to her. After that, people told me how great she is to work with and answered my questions.
What I got right, I got right because of these people. The wrong stuff is all mine.
When Opal LaZelle arrived at the Makeup trailer on the set of
Forest of the Night
, she found her personal employer, Corvus Weather, asleep at her station. The chair had been specially designed to hold his seven-foot two-inch length and generous, muscular frame. It had to be comfortable for hours at a time, the period it took her to transform him from a strangely stretchy-faced, gentle man into the monster of whatever movie they were working on.
She and Corvus had one end of the trailer to themselves. Four other makeup chairs stood in a line between the brightly lit mirrored walls and the many-drawered desk cupboards below them where the makeup artists stored their supplies. Doors opened into the trailer at either end. Both doors were propped open; a cool breeze spiced with pine eased through the trailer, accompanied by the hum of generators.
Opal could have transformed Corvus in minutes using her special skills, but she and Corvus had only worked together on one film so far, and, though she was afraid she loved Corvus, she didn't trust him yet. Applying the latex prosthetics to turn Corvus into the Dark God of
Forest of the Night
would take four hours; they were heading into a night shoot, so she had to start now. This was the first day of shooting for her and Corvus; most of the rest of the cast and crew had been on location in backwoods Oregon for a week.
Girl One and Girl Two were in other chairs in the trailer. Rodrigo Esposito, a dark, shaggy-haired man and the key makeup artist on the shoot, was working on Girl Two, the fair one, and supervising his first assistant, Magenta, as she worked on Girl One, the dark one. Opal knew Rodrigo from
, where he had been her boss, and she one of a small pool of makeup artists. He hadn't worked on
, the film where Opal had met and been hired exclusively for Corvus. Corvus had been the ghost of two merged serial killers, an interesting challenge for Opal's skills as special effects makeup artist and Corvus's skills as actor. Unfortunately, though they both did worthy work, the writers' skills hadn't been up to creating a memorable movie. DVD afterlife was the only thing that saved the movie from being a dead loss itself.
“Opal,” Rodrigo murmured as she set out her equipment. “Come meet the girls.”
She glanced at Corvus. He sprawled in his chair, a dark blue fleece blanket over him, with black-jean-clad legs and giant black boots sticking out the bottom. He smiled in his sleep. His breathing was so quiet. It surprised her; most of the big men she'd known snored.
She slipped down the trailer to where Magenta, a short, stocky woman with short black hair that had broad pink streaks, stood by Girl Two. Opal knew Magenta from
“This is Lauren Marcos, our Serena,” Rodrigo said. Lauren had large, dark eyes and a generous mouth, not yet colored; its natural color was dusky pink. She was a character actor with a string of successful comic sidekick roles behind her. In
Forest of the Night
, she was tackling a different role, a serious, even depressing character, one of the two leads. Her dark, curly hair was pulled back from her face by a stretchy foam band so Magenta could lay the foundation.
“Hi, Lauren,” Opal said.
“Hey, doll,” said Lauren in a warm, low voice. “You got the big job, huh?” Her eyebrows twitched, and she glanced toward Corvus, her mouth edging into a small smile.
“Opal's a genius,” Rodrigo said. “She has magic hands. She could turn you into a warty old witch your mother wouldn't recognize and the witch's mother would.”
“That so?” The edges of Lauren's eyes crinkled. “Could we maybe do that sometime, Hon? Like, when my mother's actually visiting the set?”
“This is Blaise Penny, our Caitlyn.” Rodrigo nodded toward Girl One in the other chair. “Blaise, Opal LaZelle.”
“Hi, Opal,” said Blaise. She was a gorgeous green-eyed woman with high cheekbones and a mass of crinkled silver blond hair. Blaise and Lauren played sisters in the film, but no effort had been made to cast for family resemblance. Lauren looked Hispanic; Blaise, Caucasian. They were different body types, tooâLauren solid without being fat, Blaise ethereal, the sort of person you expected to see tripping through the woods in a filmy gown and fairy wings. In
, Blaise was playing against type as the evil sister, which Opal thought promising.
Blaise had just come off two hit films. Opal wondered why she'd chosen a monster movie for her next project; she could have easily been cast in another big budget movie.
“Why aren't you in one of these chairs yourself?” Blaise asked.
Opal glanced at the nearest mirror, wondering if she'd made herself too pretty today. Sometimes she did that inadvertently, since she'd done it on purpose every morning for several years while she was a teenager. But no, she looked like her birth self, clean-faced, violet-eyed, her hair brown with gold highlights, cut even with her jaw so as not to get in her way. She had the same distinctive good looks that made her mother a successful newscaster, but mostly she didn't inhabit her face the way a star would.
Blaise was probably just being polite. “I could never do what you do,” Opal said, and smiled.
Blaise tilted her head. Something edged the air between them, a recognition, or perhaps just an electric prickle. “I don't quite believe you,” Blaise murmured. “I guess we all tell ourselves the lies we need to believe. Nice to meet you, Opal.”
Disconcerted, Opal nodded. She glanced toward Corvus. “I better get to work. Excuse me.”
“Later,” said Lauren.
Opal returned to her workstation. She got out the full-sized head of Corvus she had made when she built his Dark God; it held all the pieces of his facial prosthetics. She had made stacks of each piece, enough for him to have a new mask every day he was shooting, and a few extra in case things went wrong. “Hey, big guy,” she murmured, and Corvus opened his deep brown eyes.
He smiled. “You smell like apples.”
“Shampoo. How long have you been awake?”
“Since the others got here,” he murmured. His voice was deep and velvety, one of the things she loved about him. He had a career in audiobooks most of his coworkers didn't know about; he was especially popular as a reader of children's books, since he could do so many different voices. His voice had been wasted in
, which had been about the menace of appearance, not about lines. Corvus's character had a lot to say in
Forest of the Night
. The Dark God had the ability to seduce, a welcome challenge for Corvus after years of playing unspeakable and unspeaking menaces. “Didn't feel like talking.”
She smiled at him, folded back the blanket to expose his neck and bare shoulders, and got out her razor and shaving cream. She shaved him, even though he had shaved himself earlier. She talked to his hair follicles while she did it, asked them to lie dormant for a while. She cleaned his face and neck carefully, then applied a long-lasting moisturizer that would keep his skin safe under the adhesives she was about to use.