Author: Alan Decker
STAR TRAKS: WAYSTATION
By Alan Decker
The silence in the President’s office was stifling. J. E. Baker, the President of the ODBS television network stared out the huge window behind his desk quietly mulling things over. Dana Patterson and Angela Dean shifted uncomfortably in their chairs. Patterson was the vice-president in charge of programming for the network, and Dean was the head of personnel. They knew why they’d been called in and were just waiting for The Mighty Baker to speak. Baker suddenly whirled around in his chair and slammed his hands down on his massive desk.
“The Beck problem has returned,” Baker said. His face was completely unreadable. Patterson wasn’t sure whether he should be surprised, angry, amused, or what. This disturbed him since he always liked to know what Baker was thinking so that he could immediately agree with him. Dean, on the other hand, wasn’t so constrained.
“What does she want this year?” Dean demanded.
“Her own show,” Baker replied.
“Big surprise,” Dean said. “She’s been asking for her own show every time she has to renegotiate her contract. This has been going on for four years now!”
“What do you recommend?” Patterson asked.
“She’s not that important to the show. Let’s get rid of her and find someone else.” Dean looked to Baker for some sign that she was getting through to him.
“What do you think, Dana?” Baker asked after a few moments of silence.
“Well…the show is still as popular as ever, but there have been some accusations that we’ve fallen into a set routine,” Patterson said. “Not that that’s bad!” he added quickly. “Audiences like to feel comfortable with a show. They like to know what to expect.”
“They’ll get over it if we lose Beck’s character,” Dean said. “In a few months, everyone will have forgotten who she is.
We can’t let a minor actor on the show harass us like this.”
“There are those who would say that she’s only trying to advance her career,” Baker said. “A fairly common thing for actor to do. She hasn’t asked for any more money or demanded her own dressing room.”
“That’s true,” Patterson agreed, nodding his head vigorously.
“Yeah,” Dean said reluctantly.
“Anyhow, I have decided to give her a chance,” Baker said.
“What? You’re giving her a show!” Dean shouted.
“Calm down, Angela. I’m not going that far. She has twenty- four hours to give me a proposal that’s workable. If I like it, we’ll give her idea a shot. If not, she goes back to work on Star Traks.”
“Brilliant, sir!” Patterson exclaimed. “Either way, we win.”
“Terris isn’t going to like this,” Dean said. “You know how protective he gets.”
“We’ll worry about Jimmy-boy after Miss Beck comes up with something we can use,” Baker said. “Until then, relax. Lisa Beck’s the one who has all the work to do, not us.”
Lisa Beck was glad that she had a light day on the set. She sat against the back wall of the studio, behind all of the lights and cameras, while her co-workers faced another day of shooting. She could hear the director explaining what he wanted from Alex Rydell and Travis Dillon as they shot a scene in the captain’s ready room. Lisa looked back down at the blank piece of paper sitting in front of her. Coming up with ideas for an entire television series was harder than she thought.
“What’s up,” Carl Jaroch asked as he sat down beside her.
“Not much,” she replied, trying to inconspicuously cover her notebook.
“Looks like you’re working on something,” the actor who played Lieutenant Commander Jaroch said. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” Lisa said.
“Well, obviously since you haven’t written anything down yet, but you must be trying to do something.”
“I’m…learning to sketch,” she said, hoping that he’d go away.
“Really? Let me see some of your other drawings.”
“There aren’t any. This is my first try.”
“Got it,” Jaroch said as he stood back up. “I’ll come back later when you’re being less evasive.” He walked off toward his trailer to get ready for his next scene. Lisa looked back down at the blank sheet of paper. Sketching was starting to sound like a good idea. She looked over at the lunch table, trying to find a nice bowl of fruit to draw. Scott Baird was doing something with his styrofoam plate, a straw, and a piece of ravioli. Lisa walked over to the table to get a close look. Scott had turned the plate upside down, stuck the straw in the center of it, and mounted the ravioli on the other end of the straw.
“What do you call it?” Lisa asked. Scott glared at her.
“It’s a straw with pasta jammed into a plate,” he replied. “If you want art, look in a fucking museum.” He turned and walked away. Lisa’s attention was drawn back to the “sculpture” Scott had done. Without really knowing why, she sketched it into her notebook.
Lisa walked back over to her spot against the back wall and sat down. Her eyes never left her sketch. Something about it was tugging at the back of her mind. She redrew a few lines, and looked at the sketch again. Suddenly, an idea hit her with the force of a freight train.
“This is it!” she whispered triumphantly. Her hand couldn’t keep up with the speed of her thoughts as she wrote down the rough outline for her show. President Baker had to accept this!
Angela Dean was starting to wonder if she should move her office to the chair in Baker’s office. She was spending more time in that chair lately than anywhere else. President Baker was once again facing the window behind his desk and not saying much. Every once in a while, a chuckle or snort could be heard from his direction. She checked her watch impatiently. Her lunch hour was coming up, and the last place she wanted to spend it was in here.
“What’s he doing?” Dana Patterson whispered from the chair next to hers.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “And I’m starting not to care.”
“Well, I’ll put a stop to that,” Baker said suddenly. He spun around to face his two subordinates and dropped a small stack of papers onto his desk. “Do you two know what this is?” he asked smiling. Baker had a gleam in his eye that Dean had never seen before.
“No,” she grumbled.
“But we can’t wait to find out,” Patterson said.
“This is money in the bank,” Baker said, the smile growing wider. “Our friend, Lisa, has come up with a great idea!”
“You’re kidding, right,” Dean said skeptically.
“Not at all. She wanted her own show, and now she’s got it.”
“But now you two have to go tell James,” Baker said, interrupting Dean before she could finish her protest.
“He’s not going to go for this,” Dean said.
“I’m sure that you’ll convince him,” Baker replied. He flashed her a big smile and then turned back toward the window. Patterson and Dean looked at each other and slowly got out of their chairs to leave.
“What should we say?” Patterson asked.
“I’m sure that you’ll think of something,” Baker said. “Have fun.”
“Yeah, right,” Dean mumbled.
“Can’t we just send him a memo or something?” Patterson asked as he and Dean stood outside of James Terris’ office. Dean glared at him.
“Come on, Dana,” she said. “Just go in there and explain things to him.”
“It’s that easy, huh?”
“Of course. Now get going.” She stepped aside leaving Patterson in front of the door. Before he could get out of the way, she reached over and knocked quickly. The door opened slowly releasing a cloud of smoke into the hallway. Patterson didn’t even cough. He just stared blankly into the open office and started babbling incoherently.
“You may enter,” James Terris said from inside. Dean hit Patterson on the back, sending him flying onto the office. Once through the smoke cloud surrounding the door frame, Dean and Patterson entered the main part of Terris’s domain. Posters, models, and pictures of every aspect of Star Traks filled the small office. Terris himself was almost laughable. He was wearing an admiral’s uniform from the show and a black baseball cap with a Starfleet insignia on it. He was hunched over his desk playing with some action figures while his computer stood by patiently waiting for any ideas Terris put into it and filling the otherwise dark room with a blue glow.
“I’m not happy about this disturbance,” Terris said without looking up from his figures. “I’m trying to create here!”
“We realize that, Mr. Terris…”
“That’s Admiral Terris, Miss. Dean,” Terris corrected.
“Right. Well, anyway Dana and I just thought we’d drop by and see how you were doing.” Terris set the figures down and looked up at them in disgust.
“How I am doing?” Terris asked. I am single-handedly creating every character and story for a weekly series, and you ask me how I’m doing. Would you ask God how he was doing with Earth? Creators must be left to submerse themselves within their creation. ANY outside interference is unnecessary and very aggravating.”
“Look here,” Patterson said, regaining his composure. “Your creation is the property of ODBS, and your just an employee. If you think that you can…” He was stopped in mid-sentence by an overwhelming pain in his foot. Angela Dean removed her high heel from Patterson’s foot and leaned over toward Terris trying to look friendly.
“We realize the tremendous effort that you put out, Admiral, and we greatly appreciate it,” she said.
“Thank you. It really is a strain,” Terris said weakly. Dean almost thought that he was going to cry. “It’s hard coming up with stuff for the same characters week after week.”
“Well, why don’t you try something new,” Dean offered.
“Like a spin-off,” Patterson added.
“A spin-off.” Terris thought a minute. His face began to brighten and his eyes glazed over. “Yes,” he said softly. “A spin-off.”
“Something like this,” Dean said placing Lisa Beck’s show proposal in front of Terris. He read it quickly. Dean could see the enthusiasm building in him.
“YES!!!” he shouted. “This is exactly what I was thinking of.” He turned to his computer and started typing furiously. “Please go now. I have much work to do.” He reached under his desk and flipped a switch. Suddenly, the Star Traks theme music blared out of speakers mounted in every corner, and points of light spun through the room like stars. Terris hummed along happily with the music and typed away. Dean and Patterson backed quietly toward the door and got the hell out of there.