A Brave New World meets Big Brother. Start of a novella.
Johnny Fontane stood at the edge of the stage, the audience sat in a silence of anticipation. The next five minutes would change his life forever. Years of practice, months of auditions, quarter finals, semi finals, they had all been a build up to this, the final. This is all he ever dreamed of growing up; he was destined to do this. If he didn’t win, he couldn’t begin to imagine what he would do next, he could barely remember his life before, he didn’t want to. The stage looked dark and formidable, he knew that there were several thousand people out there, and several million watching at home. If he made a mistake, everyone would see, all the different camera angles watching him, trying to find fault. Those three judges sat on a raised platform, central to his view, their eyes studying him, their words with such power. He tried to focus, to put it all out of his mind. He felt a bead of sweat forming on his brow and wiped it away instinctively, forgetting the consequence, smudging his makeup.
The voice of the stage manager came from behind him. One minute, shit Johnny thought. He turned nervously towards the production crew.
“I’ve smudged my makeup.” he whispered to the closest guy with a headset. His name badge read Kevin.
“Don’t worry, one second we’ll have that sorted”
Kevin signalled one of the makeup girls over with a series of rapid hand movements. She dabbed at Johnny’s forehead with a sponge, lightly coated with foundation. She held his head as she leant backwards to survey the situation.
“Ok love, that should do it.” She said matter-of-factly.
“Twenty seconds!” The manager shouted, signally that Johnny should get ready to enter, front stage right.
Johnny took three big deep breaths, readying himself. He looked behind him; Kevin was holding his hand up, fingers outstretched for the final five second countdown. He tucked in his thumb first, four seconds. Johnny closed his eyes, imaging his routine, going through every intrinsic detail. Index finger down. Three. He imagined the crowd cheering when he finished. Middle finger closed. Two. The judges’ comments all complimentary, even from the one who was paid to criticise. Just Kevin’s little finger left standing. One second. Johnny cleared his mind and took his first step out onto the stage.