Planet Dead 2: The Telenvela EDITION (Chapter 1 Sneak Peek)

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Chapter 1

Hello! I will be your narrator for this Telenvela 

January 16, 2019 2:43 AM

“Give me the fucking keys!” Christian shouted. His voice echoed through the empty mall parking deck. All eyes fell upon him as he stared down a salt and peppered haired old man. 

Their dark green eyes locked and through his gray beard Christian’s father, Jorge, smiled, “Wanna say that again mijo?” Jorge asked. 

“Dee, come on. We’re leaving.” Christian said. His hand went out toward the little boy. It wasn't easy being in the middle but it was a time long tradition for the Fidal family. Jorge was in the middle of his parents, Christian was the wall that protected his mother and Dominic was a little trophy, whoever he left with was clearly right and they knew best. Dominic slowly released the car door and ran over to his brother’s side. The driver door slammed making a chilling Wack that ran through the parking deck. Jorge stormed over to his sons and with him came the gut turning scent of tequila that flooded Christian's senses. His father grabbed Dominic by the arm and pulled the boy back. What started as a guy’s night out at the Movie Tavern, turned into Jorge vs Jose Cuervo. Four Margaritas, five beers and three shots later, Jose was victorious. This left the Fidal boys with the task of trying to rip the car keys from Jorge’s balled up fist.

“Oh, so you wanna play Papi, now!” Jorge’s fingers tightened around Dominic’s small arm. He knew in the morning he would sober up and apologize, swear he didn't mean it, but in this moment the pain was warranted, it told Dominic never to cross him, ”You think you're better than me?” Jorge asked and Christian's hands shot forward and he pushed his father back. The whole event felt like it was being recorded in slow motion, so Christian could watch it over and over again in his nightmares. The old man tripped over his own feet and fell face first into the cement. The boys ran toward their father only to be greeted by a back hand to Dominic’s face. It all stopped then. Their hearts, their breathing, and time itself.

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“Mijo,” Jorge said softly. Dominic fell back into his older brother's arms. Jorge quickly stumbled to his feet, “I’m sorry-”

“No! Not tonight! You don't get to keep fucking up and apologizing!” Christian shouted. The two stared at one another for a moment and then Jorge nodded his head. Red slowly took over Dominic’s light brown skin but the boy was more focused on the tears building up in his father's eyes than he was with his own pain. 

Jorge turned around with the keys jiggling in his hand. He got a few steps closer to the car before he looked back at Christian and said, “All the classes and all the college friends in the world isn't gonna make you better than me, Mijo.” Jorge said. He jumped into the car and started it up. The window came down and Jorge laughed, “You ain't better. No matter what you do. No matter how you dress it up, you're always just gonna be my boy.” The tires gave off a screeching sound. Christian and Dominic watched as the grey smoke filled the parking deck and their father's red tail lights blazed through the night.

“He’s wrong.” Dominic said. Christian looked down at his little brother. His hand went over the boy’s cheek and Dominic asked, “You know that right?” 

Christian leaned down and turned his back toward his little brother. “Come on, I’ll carry you until we get to the sidewalk and then you’re walking.” Christian said with a smile. The little boy leaped onto his brother's back and the two went walking off into the darkness of the night.

“Why y’all always gotta fight?” Dominic asked. They had been walking and randomly talking for about an hour before Dominic decided to dive head first into the real topic of the evening.

“Because he’s a drunk.” Christian said softly. Dominic went running forward and kicked a soda can into the air. 

“He’s always been a drunk. You think you’d be used to it by now.” Dominic said.

“That's not the kind of life I wanna get used to and it's not the kind of life you need to get used to.” Christian replied. 

Dominic turned around and shrugged his shoulders, “He loves us, right?”

Christian sighed, “It ain't about that, it's about-” Christian’s words were cut short by the red and blue lights that were flashing in the distance. Dominic turned around to see what had grabbed his brother’s attention. The little boy started racing down the sidewalk. Christian’s hand went out to grab his little brother but Dominic was far from his grasp. “Dominic!” Christian shouted. He chased after his brother and every few feet that Christian got, the street lights would flicker. He could see the grey hoodie swinging back and forth as Dominic raced toward the red and blue lights. “Dominic!” Christian hollered and the boy stopped at the end of the sidewalk. Christian’s hand grabbed his brother’s hoodie and the streetlights went completely out. All Christian could see was the red and blue glow of the police cars. Dominic pulled away and pointed at the twisted smoking metal that seemed to fuse with the darkness of the streetlight pole. Christian couldn’t tell where the car stopped and the light began. Yet, even with the twisted black metal and the bloody windshield, Christian knew just what he was staring at.

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“You could have stopped him.” Dominic said.

“No.” Christian replied.

“You could have saved him.” 

“No.”

“You killed him!” Dominic shouted. Christian’s eyes shot open and his body was fighting to breathe. He rolled over to his side in the darkness. His hand went over his sweaty chest. His heart seemed to be mirroring his original reaction from that fateful night. Yet, that was weeks ago.

Just a dream. Christian thought. He swung the cold wet covers off of his legs and stood up slowly. Life was never amazing or easy for Christian and the rest of the Fidel clan. His grandpa worked hard to get Christian’s parents in America. Once they got there they all worked hard. Christian’s father had two jobs right up until his accident. But, a hard working man doesn’t really make a perfect man. Jorge was held down by his vices, mostly the liquid kind. Christian asked his Mother why his father drank so much and all she could say, was ‘some people run from life in different ways.’ But no matter what, life always catches up to you.

“Can’t sleep?” Christian’s mother, Gloria, asked. The golden brown haired woman sat at the kitchen table with her cup of coffee and her DVRed telenovelas playing softly in the background. She asked the question without even turning to look at her son. Christian leaned in the doorway and sighed,

“Just needed some water.” He said and Gloria nodded looking over at him. 

“Seems like you got enough water pouring off of you.”

Christian looked down at his shirtless self and rolled his eyes, “Maybe if someone would turn on the AC-” 

“When you pay the bills then we can talk about turning on the AC. Until then I hope you don’t think I’ll be washing your sheets everyday. I ain’t done that since you were four and I don’t plan on starting back up again.” Gloria said with a laugh. 

Christian pulled out a seat next to her and dropped down into it. “I suffered from night terrors.” Christian said.

“Night terrors? Jesus, you pissed the bed because your father let you watch that movie, with the gringo that had knives for fingers.” Gloria replied and waved her hand putting an end to the conversation. There were two forms of waves from Gloria, one was the stop talking I’m watching my stories wave, and the other was your full of shit. Christian wasn’t too sure which he got but he went with the former and stared at the tv with his mother. The pair sat there in silence before Gloria softly said, “If you wanna talk about-”

“I don’t.” Christian quickly replied.

“I’m just saying, you shouldn’t keep pushing everyone-”

“I don’t wanna talk about it Ma.” 

Gloria put up her hands and nodded, “Okay.” she said softly. Christian leaned back in his seat and sighed, “So, you’re going into work today?” Gloria asked.

Christian nodded and then ran his hands over his face, clearing away the warm salty sweat that still clung to his skin. “Vince said one of the temps called out and he needs me to help Hector setup for the party.” 

Gloria nodded and stood up slowly, “I don’t see why that fool can’t do it himself. He has two hands and two fucking legs like the rest of us.” Gloria said. 

Christian laughed, “He’s the boss, Ma.” Christian said with a smile and Gloria quickly turned off the tv before walking into the darkness of the hallway.

“He’s an asshole that’s what he is.” 

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The small wooden table creaked when Christian pushed himself to his feet. His eyes fell upon the darkness of the living room. He could make out the large hump that was his father’s chair, placed off to the corner by the window. “Back to the real world.” Christian said and hit the light switch in the kitchen sending the rest of the house into darkness.

* * *

“The question isn’t if we should get involved, but why the hell haven’t we?”  The black dial on the radio spun and static took over the car.

“The wall was not only a good idea, but a great idea! It’s keeping us and them saf-“ Another flick of the finger sent the egotistical voices of the media into the dark world of static. Christian didn’t care much for the news these days. Every story was about death or someone thinking they knew what was best for everyone else. Protesting, shootings, twitter wars, it was all just noise to him and all he really wanted was silence. But in this world, that was only a luxury for the dead. The dial came to a stop and the Mexican flair of Snow Tha Product filled Christian’s ears. Music and art were becoming a Christian’s personal safe space. Long nights of rap, reggaeton and painting were taking over Christian’s life, but it kept him from facing the real monsters in his world. All the questions that seemed to haunt him when he closed his eyes. 

Was it my fault? 

Why didn’t I stop him?

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Music was there for Christian when his world was falling apart. Find out what he was listening to over on Spotify

Why couldn’t I save him?

Christian needed something to drown out the constant heckles of his internal monsters, but while music and art were amazing forms of escape, they didn’t pay the bills. The car came to a slow stop between the white lines of the parking space. Christian rested his head back for a moment and closed his eyes as he let the battle cries of Snow wash over him. A deep sigh left Christian’s lips and he opened his eyes to see a pale hairy set of butt-cheeks pressed against the driver side window.

“What the fuck!” Christian shouted and pushed open the car door sending the jiggling butt-cheeks flying into a nearby car. 

Laughter filled the air as the man pulled up his large pants and spun around, “You’ve been away so long, I thought you might have missed this beautiful ass.” Hector said smiling. The two cousins stared at each other, Christian with a stone cold glare and Hector with a jolly smile.

The moment faded as Christian laughed and turned off the car,

“No one on this planet could miss that fat ass.” Christian said.

“That’s offensive. We of the belly diverse community prefer round ass or a tasteful peach shaped emoji. I know you missed all the HR meetings but you really should be careful how you address your co-workers.” Hector said.

Christian rolled his eyes, “Shut up. How much work you get done on the room?” 

“Man, it’s almost done, it just needs your magical tou-“

“You haven’t even started, have you?” Christian asked.

“I haven’t done shit since you’ve been gone. I’m surprised I still have a job.” Hector said. The two laughed as they made their way to the employee entrance of the hotel. The Eastman Hotel was a bright new star to the city of Austin. Built during the Mayor’s ‘Make Austin Great Again’ campaign, it and a flock of new businesses opened up in the culturally appropriate, but far from politically correct, neighborhood of Little Tijuana. It was an attempt to ease the heated tension growing in the Spanish community as Texas took up the major responsibility of building the now infamous ‘Southern Grand’ a wall that divided the United States from Mexico and the rest of South America. The addition of the Eastman and other businesses was a way for the city to say ‘Yeah we’re kicking out your friends and loved ones. Oh and cutting you off from your family back home but look at all the new jobs we made.’ While it was a slap in the face of those fighting the good fight, it was still a job and one that paid pretty damn well, for just a few hours of setting up tables and chairs for rich people.

“How you and Tia doing?” Hector asked softly as he waited for Christian to punch in for work. The computerized beep rang in Christian’s ear as he stared at Hector through the little employee mirror that sat on the wall. The faded black sticker said ‘smile, you don’t know who’s watching’ 

“My father, who happens to be her husband is dead and Dominic is in a-coma, so I’m guessing we’re not doing too hot these days.” Christian said. Hector’s eyes fell to the floor and Christian sighed, “Sorry, I’m just sick of everyone asking me that.” Christian turned around and put his hands on the top of his head as he arched his back, “I mean Dee’s in the hospital and Pop’s in the ground. Me and Ma are just trying to stay above water, you know?” he said. 

Hector nodded and stepped forward to the computer, “I understand that. I just don’t know what to say or do.” Hector said.

“Yeah, you and me both.” Christian eyes floated over to the announcement board and a faint smile crept onto his face. It was an odd feeling, one he hadn’t felt for weeks now, but the sight of her even in the form of an employee mugshot, got his heart beating uncontrollably. “Trinity won employee of the month again?” he asked. 

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Hector’s head turned toward the board and he sighed, “Yeah, I was campaigning with the house keepers to get in the running this month, but then Vince wrote me up for hanging out in the housekeeping department during work hours.” Hector rolled his eyes, “Bastardo.” He said and then started walking down the hall towards the office. 

Christian followed behind and as their uniformed grey shirts and black pants came closer to the end of the hall they could see Vince standing by his door looking at his watch. “And so it begins.” Christian said softly.

“You two are late!” Vince said.

“No we’re not, you said be here at ten.” Christian replied.

“I did, but then I told Hector to let you know, we need to be here at seven if we’re gonna get this done in time.” Vince said. 

All eyes fell onto Hector and the round man smiled, “Hey, Christian. We need to be in at seven because-“ Hector, was cut off by Vince’s over dramatic sigh. Hector did his best not to laugh at his boss, but the man was almost half of Hector’s size in height. Which reminded Hector of the orange men that ran around in that chocolate factory movie. The thought of their green hair tossing back and forth as they sang made Hector smile until he felt an elbow in his ribs. His head turned toward Christian who was giving him the best ‘act right, motherfucker’ look that he could muster.

“You two need to be more professional. You’re always showing up late, always calling out.” Vince said, he shook his head and then looked over at Christian, “This is your first day back. I don’t want to have to write you up.” he said. 

Christian nodded and looked over at the door leading into the ballroom,“Sorry, just give me the floor plan and I’ll make sure it gets done before tonight.”

“It’s not like you have any other choice than to get it done before tonight. The fucking party is tonight.” Vince said.  Hector looked over at Christian whose eyes were in the process of drilling a fiery hole into Vince’s head. 

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Hector’s arm went over his cousin’s shoulder and he smiled, “Olvidare de este chico blanco,” Hector said.

“What was that?” Vince asked.

“I said we got a lot of work ahead of us.” Hector said with a smile. Christian nodded and walked off towards the ballroom. His steel toed black boots hit the ugly grey and black carpet, that had yellow swirl designs running throughout it. The mishmash combination gave you the feeling of being drunk, fighting to walk down an ugly tilted hallway. Hector walked into the empty ballroom with the floor plans in hand. “You good?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m straight. I just need a minute. I’ll be back, I’m gonna go take a leak.” Christian said and walked through the massive ballroom toward the hotel lobby. The wooden doors pushed open and the chill of the hotel air conditioning hit the back of Christian’s neck. Images of Vince’s face being slammed into the office door repeatedly flashed through Christian’s head. The thoughts took up so much of his focus that he didn’t see the teenage boy in front of him, until he almost knocked him over. “Whoa, sorry man.” Christian said with a smile. The boy stared at Christian and stepped back blocking the doorway to the bathroom. “You playing bathroom bouncer?” Christian asked.

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“My dad’s in there. He needs privacy,” The boy said and Christian nodded. 

“That doesn’t sound suspect at all.” Christian said with a mocking grin to the boy. “Is daddy day drunk or something?” he asked.

“No.” the boy said and glared.

“Jeremy who are you talking to?” A male voice echoed through the bathroom. Christian’s eyes went from the boy to the white tile walls of the bathroom. 

“Sorry sir, but you can’t close the bathroom off for your own personal use.” Christian said. 

A gray haired man in a cotton white button up shirt stepped from around the corner. His icy blue eyes glared at Christian for a moment, “Yeah well my wife isn’t feeling too good and she rushed into the wrong restroom, I didn’t want-“ The man’s words came to a cold stop as Christian pointed at a dark red spot on his white shirt.

“Is that blood?” Christian asked. 

The man’s eyes went down toward his shoulder and then they shot back to Christian, “Yeah, I cut myself on your fucking bathroom stall.” The man said. Christian looked at Jeremy and then back at the man. 

“I’ll call security, so you can file a report with the hotel.”

“No, that’s fine. Everything is fine, I’m just waiting on-“ The man smiled as his pale blonde haired wife slowly stumbled her way out of the bathroom. She fell into her husband’s arms. 

“Holy shit, are you okay?” Christian asked.

“I’m fine, I’m fine.” The woman replied with a faint smile, “Don’t ever eat airport sushi.” Her husband smiled and slowly eased her onto her feet. 

“Come on sweetie, let’s get you to the room,” the man said.

“Do you need any help?” Christian asked and the man waved him off. Then shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled out a folded bundle of cash and held it out toward Christian.

“We’re fine, thank you. She just needs to rest.” The man said. 

Christian stared at the folded twenties and tens and then looked back at the man, “I’m fine sir, really. I-” 

“No, take it.” The man insisted as he pushed the cash into Christian’s hand. When Christian’s eyes came up from the green paper it was just in time to see Jeremy looking back at him before disappearing around the corner toward the elevators. Christian looked down at the cash once again and shoved it into his pocket. 

“White people are weird,” he said softly to himself. When he turned the corner into the bathroom his hands shot up to defend his nose. While his skin acted as a gas mask and tightened around his nose to block the rancid smell of shit and vomit, there was nothing to save his eyes from the stinging sensation or the sight of the dark red that was slowly spilling out from under the stall door. Christian walked over toward the first stall and slowly pushed it open to see what he could only imagine would be a janitor's worst nightmare. The white toilet and walls were covered in dark red blood and bits of what Christian could only describe as chunks of meat. 

“Security!” Christian frantically shouted through the halls as he ran from the bathroom.