Curse of Atone
By: David K. Montoya

Nick Caesar had signed a contract with a big named motion picture company to star as the character known as The Damned, who was the lead villain in the superhero film, The Atone. The last interpretation of the popular comic book was almost twenty years prior, but this time, it was different.

The director, Robert Williams told the media that his vision was to be set in a real world scenario, and that the characters would be relatable to the public at large. But Nick couldn't care less, he was a hotshot Hollywood actor in his late twenties and was publicly involved in a polyamorous relationship with a pair of actress–model twins—Nick was on top of the world.

The night Nick received the final draft of the script, it had followed a late night escapade with the twins and his posse (which were several well–known actors around his age). As he got back to his condo, he literally discovered this two inch thick screenplay on the floor in front of the entrance.

"What a lazy ass, smeghead," Nick said to his two lovers while he leaned down and grabbed up the stack of papers. He help the script in his hands for a moment, it gave him an ominous feel and his stomach knotted in discomfort.

Renee, one of the twins, noticed a change in Nick's face and skin color. After a fast moment to process what had happened due to the mixture of Xanax and Cristal champagne, she finally asked, "Nicky? Are you all right?"

"Sure, babe," Nick said through his million dollar smile. He slipped the script under his arm and worked the key into the door, and after what appeared to be a while there was a click from his direction and the door slowly opened.

The three walked inside and was welcomed with the smell of fresh potpourri. Nick stood in the living room and begin to thumb through the pages. The previous feeling on the opposite side of his front door returned, but now, the pain in his stomach was similar to hunger pain. Although, the pain ran from his gut and traveled down to his testicles.

With each page read, the greater the sensation and by only the eighth page, Nick was turned on. He caught Anna Bell, the other twin, in his peripheral view as she removed her clothes and slipped on a white silk nightie. Without farther thought, he dropped the manuscript down on top of a near by coffee table, and fully aroused called out to his two bombshell lovers.

"Hey! How's about we root before this stuff wears off?" Nick asked.

"What about the script, Nicky," Renee asked ask she came from a near by bathroom.

"The script can wait until morning," Nick informed her, while he lusted after what was underneath an over sized white tee shirt. "I had plenty of time to develop the character, we have a few months before we start shooting."

#

The following morning Nick was awoken by the sound of his cellphone as it rang continuously.

"Ugh," was the only thing that made it from his mouth. He slowly slipped out from between Anna Bell and Renee and off the bed, and stood in his room as he looked for his mobile device. Eventually, Nick remembered that he never took it from his pocket before he went to bed.

He grabbed up his pants from the night prior off the floor and pulled the phone from his pocket, Nick flipped it open and answered in a groggy and hungover voice, "H–hello?"

There was laughter from the other end. A familiar laugh, one of a legend, Nick waited to hear the man to recite a famous line from a film he stared in, "Heeeeere's Johnny."

Nick cleared his voice and once again, said with more clarity, "Hello?"

"Nicky Boy, it's me. Did I wake you, son," the voice on the other line asked with his words laced with a villainous chuckle.

"It's… It's okay," Nick replied while he held the cellphone between his shoulder and head and attempted to put on his underwear—he felt odd being on the phone in the buff with an acting legend. "What can I do for you Mister Ni—"

The voice on the other line interrupted Nick, mid–sentence.

"Nicky, I just read in today's newspaper that you signed on to play, The Damned, is that true son? The Voice asked with a hint of concern in his tone.

"I just got the script last night, I planned on reading it today in fact," Nick confirmed. Once his underwear was on comfortably he walked out into the living room where he had left the story. "I'm looking at it as we speak."

"Nicky, are you aware that I was the last actor to portray The Damned?"

"No disrespect, sir, but that one actor… You know the once who was in that Space movie did the voice of The Damned for the animated series." Nick corrected.

The voice on the other line sighed.

"You need to be careful, son. You don't understand the back story."

"I picked up a lot of the back issues, there is this one that a mate gave me called, The Murdering Prank," Nick said rather excitedly. "It's where The Damned is a psychopathic, mass–murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy that's the version I think I'm going to play."

The voice on the other line sighed, again.

The man's voice dropped in tone and was blanketed in seriousness, "Nick… You gotta get it. The real backstory."

"What do you mean, real, backstory," Nick asked hesitant to the answer.

"The creator of The Atone."

"Yeah, Kane Digit, what about his?"

"He made a deal with the Devil."

"Oh come on," Nick laughed and plopped on the couch with the script in the other hand.

There was a brief moment of silence, and Nick's stomach started to turn, but this time the pain did not travel downward—rather it ran from his belly to the bottom of the actor's lungs.

"The agreement was that his character would be a world wide phenomenon, but had to include the villain The Damned," the voice explained. "Because the character was created by Satan himself, there is a price to pay to assume that persona."

"What about that guy from the sixties, nothing ever happened to him," Nick rebutted, with a growing nervousness working through his body.

"Oh, you mean this millionaire actor who died from a common case of bronchitis?"

"I… I, don't know what to say," Nick muttered into his phone.

"Well, I said my piece. And, Nicky, don't let The Damned possess you," the voice said in an irritated tone. "Good luck."

After a click a dial tone followed, without anything said a confused Nick Caesar closed his phone.

#

Almost two years later…

The legendary actor who had called Nick and warned him about the curse of the character The Damned, walked from a kitchen where a wet bar could be found. In one hand he held a martini and in the other a Cuban cigar.

He sat slowly down onto an over sized plush recliner that was in front of a one hundred inch projector television. With a click of the remote control the screen lights up and the first visible thing appeared was police rolling a body bag out of a complex and underneath the scene was a large red bar that consumed almost a quarter of the picture.

In big bold white letters, that laid atop the red bar read: Actor Nicholas Caesar DEAD at 28.

The man turned up the volume and heard the reporter as he spoke: "According to sources, Caesar would sleep an average of two hours a night, due to being lost into the character he played known as The Damned," the Reporter flashed on the screen with a microphone in hand. "It has also been confirmed that there were several prescription drugs found near the actor. First reports are questioning if Caesar died from an accidental overdose."

The man placed the cigar between his teeth while his listened to the Reporter on the large screen. "It's a sad day for the fans of Nicholas Caesar. There is a lot of speculation happening at the moment, but there's no question the role in the movie took a frightening toll."

The man shook his head, and formed an evil face of a madman. "I warned him."

He let out a laughter that could only be called demonic, which filled the air for miles around.

THE END

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