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EmotiMarkers

He uncapped the thick yellow marker. A sudden jolt of anticipation coursed dangerously through his body. His eyes, normally shallow and dull, danced as he drew a single stroke across the back of the innocent woman’s neck. She flinched, and whipped around for him to find the results of his actions. The woman looked confused at first, but the suspicious expression gradually gave way to an irrepressible fit of giggles. Right in the corner of her eyes were tiny yellow rings, the same shade as the marker. A smile crept across the man's face. It worked.

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Fred slunk through the heavy cast-iron doorway. His feet, sliding carefully around the creaky floorboards, made no more sound than the persistent snoring of the landlord, passed out on the rickety sofa. He climbed down the basement steps, not daring to breathe until the bolt slipped into the lock in the basement door. He spun on his heels, the contents of his burden of a box almost spilling across the concrete floor. Neil sat up, relieved that he had finally arrived.
“You got ‘em?”
“Yep. All 26.”
“Pass me Purple.”
“Royal or Violet?”
“What’s the difference?”
“I dunno.” Fred reached into his cardboard box and revealed two almost identical markers, tossing them to Neil. “I don’t know why you like that kind. I’m more of a Red person.”
Neil popped the top off the marker. “I’m one for passion.” He drew a thick, long line across the inside of his forearm. His body shuddered as the drug took affect. His once solemn face lit up with determination. “Let’s go!”
“One second, peppy.” Fred took out the red marker and did the same thing. His shoulders tensed, his eyebrows drew together, and he rose slowly, the tension crackling around him. “Now,” he snorted as he threw the back door wide open. Outside the evening sky was a dark grey, a strong breeze bringing the threat of a downpour. Neil snatched up his blade and stuffed it into his carrier. Fred strutted out in the direction of the cemetery. This’ll be interesting, he thought.

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Sarah shuddered as the introductions continued. Standing in the right wing, she was to go onstage in two minutes. Reaching into her side bag, she pulled out an 8-pack of EmotiMarkers. She had never tried them before, but everyone in the cast recommended them, saying that they make the scene “come to life.” Sarah reviewed her script. Tears brimmed in Gladys’s eyes as she ran into the gazebo. She slid the blue marker, labelled “Sadness,” out of it’s packaging. She popped off the plastic cap, and with hands shaking, she drew a thin line on the side of her finger. A sudden rush of grief coursed through her body. She grabbed at her script wildly, casting the marker under the prop table. Madly scanning her lines, she threw down her script and with the crazy notion that this might just work, she buried her face in her hands, jogged onto the stage as tears dripped off her palms.

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“Come on, come on, those new flavors aren’t gonna create themselves,” Arthur shouted across the laboratory. The tester had just finished trying the newest edition to the Emotimarker family: Anxious. The whole lab staff had been working double time the last few months since the product had gone mainstream. They had cranked out five new emotions, or flavors, they nicknamed them, in the last 2 weeks. Arthur was now pacing behind a table full of empty beakers.
“Get out from behind there. You’re gonna break ’em,” Troy snapped. Troy was the head of the division, and the most overworked and overpaid hotshot in the building. His eyes seemed permanently bloodshot and droopy, and he always had his stained and stickered laptop tucked gently under his arm. Arthur obeyed, but kept pacing. “Georgia, give me status update.”
The scientist slid her delicate files across the desk. “Arthur seems to be recovering well after his overdose scare. He is starting to use the markers more and more, leaning towards using certain markers. He claims each marker has a different ‘taste,’ like they’re foods.” She seated herself at one side of the desk. “We’ve had several reports of misuse. I think the FDA is going to start an investigation.”
“What!?” Troy jumped from the desk. “Why would they do that?”
“Why is that such a big deal?” Georgia said, thoroughly confused by his reaction.
Troy fumbled with a keychain on the laptop case. “No reason,” he said, with no conviction.
“Troy, if we’re-”
He cut her off. “Don’t say it here. I’ve made a couple of decisions that would appear to the FDA as unethical. It’s nothing.” He could tell that she was still unconvinced. “Meet me at 7:00 at the Asian Palace Restaurant. We’ll discuss this there.” He briskly turned on his heel and strode out of the building. Georgia had the sudden, chilling feeling that things were about to get very nasty. She walked the opposite direction of Troy, towards the Paperwork Room. The room contained all of the expense reports, chemical reports, all of the paperwork and documentation for the whole company, hence the name. It was an old office with two of the walls knocked out for expansion.
She quickly found the filing cabinet she was looking for, and yanked the rusty drawer open. It was empty. Georgia gasped in shock. Where were the Ingredient Summaries? And the coordinating expenses? She would have to mention this at dinner tonight. This was not only a huge distraction from the current rising market, it was extremely dangerous for the company if the FDA found out. She had to get them.

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The officer jerked Fred’s head back, causing a groan to escape from his throat. He lay sprawled out on the floor. Every inch of his body screamed in protest, wanting ever so badly to slip back into oblivion. A callused thumb forced his eyelid open, unwelcome light rushing in. Abruptly, the rough hands released Fred and his head slammed against the cold cement. He recoiled, tucking himself into a loose ball on his side. His eyes, adjusting to the harsh lighting, fluttered open. The first thing he saw was the dripping blood slowly pooling next to his his gaping mouth. Doing a mental check, he attempted to recall anything from the past few days, to no avail. Fred spotted Neil on the floor across the room, badly beaten and passed out. A firm hand gripped his upper arm, hauling him into a chair situated under a powerful flood light.
“Talk. Now.”
“Wha....” Fred stuttered groggily as the officer reiterated his grip on him.
“Where were you at exactly 7:34 p.m. on Saturday, October 15th?” The officer’s glowering eyes were boring into his scalp.
“Isn’t that today?”
“That was two days ago.”
Fred now realized how long he had passed out for. October 15th was the new shipment. Fuzzy clips of that night flipped rapidly through his mind. The old restaurant, the back kitchen, blood mixing with the dishes. The sight afterwards was something he preferred to keep out of his head. That poor woman, he thought. Didn’t see it coming. She had probably been 45, the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t want to get in the middle of a fight with butcher knives.
Neil rolled over, finally coming to. His head, kinked in a disturbing way, slowly rotated towards Fred. He looked almost paralyzed.
The officer was getting impatient. “Speak, or he will. You go first, and your chances of getting out will get better.”
Fred didn’t move. Finally fed up, he shoved him out of the chair, back onto the bitter cement, and snatched at Neil. Half dragging him, the officer exited windowless cell. Fred, finally grasping the severity of the situation, quietly slipped out behind him. He had been through this before. The last thing you want is to be left alone in one of those rooms. Creeping along the back hallways as he had numerous times, he eventually found the back exit to the police department.

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“How many?! No way, no way, no way!” Sarah squealed into her antique-style phone as she leaned against the kitchen wall. “5 auditions, 3 call backs, how did you do it?” She paused as she waited for her agent to reply. “Really? My performance? Well, I’ll make as many as I can. Thank you Tricia. All right. You too. Okay, goodbye.” Sarah hung the phone back onto the hook, and skipped her way to her Buick. This was her break. She was finally going to live her dream.
The Buick’s door creaked open, the peeling paint revealing the rusting metal below, as she stepped giddily onto the classic cobblestone street. The large sign, ringed with lights that every night illuminated the names of famous actors and actresses alike loomed over her, sending tiny butterflies shooting through her stomach. “This is it,” She said quietly as she heaved the oversized door open. “Here we go.” She hesitated slightly, remembering the EmotiMarkers from last week’s performance. Was that the cause of this sudden eruption of auditions? Her lines raced through her head as she slipped her manicured hand into her purse, grasping the package. Better safe than sorry, she thought, stroking the inside of her fingers repeatedly with her favorite color to use, the Multi, also known as Expressive. She felt her fingers start to tingle. I hope I didn’t use it too early. I don’t want to come off weird. She rushed into the theatre, taking the backstage steps two at a time. Sarah had probably twenty seconds before the drug took full effect. Coming to the center of the stage, directly in front of the casting director.
“I’m ready! Let’s go!” Sarah chimed, hoping the director didn’t want to interview her first.
“Who are you?” The man had an almost comical mask of confusion on.
“Sarah Weatheby, sir.” She could barely contain herself, expressions of all sorts pressing against her serene, controlled face.
“Well, go ahead.” Sarah thanked her lucky stars; her chest had started to burn from exertion. She glanced at her shoes, preparing for the passionate and well-written scene she had practiced so many times in the shower, in the car, even during her long hours at her job at Windy Chicken. After she could no longer bear the searing pain, she released the bottled emotions, displaying the most convincing acting the casting director had seen all day.
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