Have you ever heard of Broadside Animation Studios? No? Figured as much. They are a now defunct company that was founded by a man named Rex Broadside. I actually managed to get a position there. I was excited up until they tossed over a mop, bucket and emotionally fucked me - and my hopes for this job - right off.
And god, that lasted a full month. 30-ish days of straight bullshit. Wake up at 8, arrive by 10, mop 'till 6, go home. Every. Fucking. Day. Well, at least for a month.
They have a billboard in the foyer. I stopped by one day and noticed something new. They were looking for someone to film a show, specifically. It was a show called "Living & Laughing." Holy shit, when I saw that sheet of paper, I was so ready to snap my mop over my knee. Finally, I get to contribute. It seemed like a dream come true!
And... I guess it worked! I sent in a request, and we managed to interview. With Rex having passed several years ago, the company was passed down to Mark Newman. Newman was... pretty alright. Lemme tell you now, talking to him is one hell of an experience. I was talking to him about this position, and Christ, he just... rubs me the wrong way.
"Hey there, Mark."
Sport..? Not real professional, but I guess with an animation company, things can be a little less strict. It's about having fun, I suppose.
"So, do you have any experience handling a camera?"
"Yes, actually. I've taken some good photography before."
"Oh, is that so?"
"Mhm! I don't think it's much different for recording video. Just keep it pointed at the subject."
"Well... show me what you've got."
Mark gestured over to a door to the left of the room. Out stumbled the mascot of the company, Bucky Beaver... or at least the costumed version of him. He didn't really talk much, just waving. Mark passed over a camcorder used for the show. He then pointed at the costume. I immediately knew what to do. I held it up, over my shoulder, and aimed it straight at Bucky. He made some goofy pose, and eventually Mark snapped his fingers.
"Alright, I think that's good enough. Mind if I see what you've recorded?"
I nod and passed over the camcorder, he carried it into another room. I assumed he was loading it onto his computer, as later that night, I got a picture in my email inbox. I had been anxiously waiting that whole day, but the email definitely perked me up.
"YOU'VE GOT THE POSITION!
Hey there, Jamison! I apologize for the strange interview today, and how I kind of left you in the dark, but, after analyzing your footage, it's safe to say that you've got the part! Hope to see you in the studio tomorrow, kid!
He attached an image too from my footage, I'll see if I can format it into this.
Anyways, the next day was... the first real day I felt happy in a long time. I woke up, basically sprung out of bed, as opposed to the usual dragging my ass out of bed.
The studio was a bit different, we stood on the set where the interview had taken place just the other day, but this time it was filled with lighting equipment and everything. God, it was probably the best moment of my life. It lasted for... about an hour before I lost interest. God, man, whoever was in the Bucky costume needed to wake the fuck up. It's like they had to re-teach that guy how to walk. He kept slurring his lines every take as well. I... had assumed it was drinking. I was wrong in what might've been every imaginable way.
We didn't get a single take that day.
I woke up the next day, and went into work. We got like... one good take..? Bucky was sober at least, thank god.
That's when, the uh... thing happened.
I was moving to the side a bit, trying to get to the good shot.. and.. I knocked over the lighting equipment. It literally just fell over. It hit Bucky right on the head. He fell beneath it. He was.. screaming, which was understandable, but, it was still in Bucky's voice.
Everyone, myself included, panicked, running over to see if he's okay, a thick, black liquid poured out from underneath. He began grasping at the big solid head on the costume, and I tried to help him lift it off. Someone else on set grabbed my hand and pulled me back. We didn't speak a word to each other. With someone helping, Bucky managed to get back to his feet.
One of the mesh eyes had completely fallen out.
And I swear to god, there is not a human in that costume.
I mean, it looked like a human, but I just, couldn't tell.
I met with Mark the next day, I wanted to talk to him about it to see if he knew anything. There was no way in hell I was going to anyone else because I thought it might've just been me being paranoid.
"Mark, sir, I, uhh... wanted to apologize, first of all. For knocking the equipment over."
"You really should be more careful, you know. Imagine if someone without all of that costume padding got hit with that."
"Yes, I know, that's been... lingering in my mind all day. I wanted to ask though. What is Bucky?"
"He's... a beaver, it's in the name."
"No, I mean, like, who was wearing the costume?"
Mark just sighed.
"Listen, kid, there's... no real good way to say what's going on... I'll... try my best."
He reached under his desk, and placed a sheet of paper upon it. He began to doodle. First a pudgy, poorly drawn character with a stick figure inside of it.
"We... tried costumes, but we just... couldn't get things working."
He scribbled out the doodle he had just made. "It... was a real mess, if you know what I mean. So... we had a large influx of funds... and we decided... what if we tried using them? You know, to solve our problem? That's... when we made our first "Starling", Bucky".
"What the hell are you on about?"
"A starling is... well... a recreation, specifically, a recreation of Brandon. He used to play Bucky's character before the costume... well...."
"It suffocated him. I dunno how, or what we did wrong. Everything was lined up so well."
"Keep on track, what did you make?"
"Well... we... managed to "Clone" Brandon, or... at least the spots that mattered. It... doesn't have skin... that's what it uses the costume for."
"That's... oh my god... you're serious?"
"Yeah... we were... hoping for a perfect clone, but this is what we got. It sucks, but it's what we got."
I was... dumbfounded. I got up and just, left the room. I wanted to see for myself. I wandered all over the studio, trying to locate Bucky. Eventually, I came across him in the animation department. I took a step closer.
"Hey... I'm... uh... sorry I knocked that lamp over."
He just nodded, crossing his arms goofily. It was hard to take him seriously. I reached my hand out for him to shake. My goal was to feel him. If it's normal, Mark was lying. If it's not, he was telling the truth. He took a moment, and grabbed my hand.
It was warm and squishy, it felt disgusting. I tugged a bit, trying to get him to let go. And... to make things worse, I pulled... the entire glove off.
A pulsating, fleshy, boney hand was underneath. It twitched and contorted, as if the exposure to the air was hurting it.
I just... darted. I dunno what I was thinking. It... sounded stupid, so I never bothered to tell anyone. It's... fucked, man. It's so fucked. Who could I tell?
I resigned the next day.
The company is defunct now, thank Christ. But it... does make me wonder what they did with Bucky and the other potential Starlings too. There's no way they're allowed to just wander around, especially in-costume.