Once their feet hit the ground, the twins fully expected a SWAT team to rappel from the sky and snatch them up, but no one came. No alarms blared. Not even a motion light detected their presence. It was no different on the Universal lot after they jumped the fence than it had been before.
After a few moments of stunned silence, they looked at each other and made an instant assessment of their options. Should we stay and face a potential run in with security, or should we go and face a potential run in with that creepy guy in the hoodie? It was pretty easy to come to the conclusion that exploring the studio lot was a much more appealing option. Especially since it seemed like no one would ever even know they were even there.
The girls were familiar with the layout of Universal Studios, having been there a million times over the years Jared’s show has been on the air, but they had to admit it looked like another planet at this hour of night. But they were not deterred or even remotely scared. They knew each monstrous warehouse held instantly recognizable sets, they’d seen most of them several times before. They knew about the recreations of city blocks, very detailed mockups of streets in suburbia, the dusty wild wild west set somewhere out there in the dark. It was exciting to think that they were all alone with the best of Hollywood. Usually they had a nanny or some sort of overlord directing where they could and could not go. Especially telling them were they could not go. This time would be different.
The twins finally found something to do.
They started walking around just between the warehouses, quietly, not ballsy enough to do more than that just yet. What if the guy who runs the cameras was just taking a shit? They were laying low, though still trespassing.
As they walked deeper and deeper in to the massive lot and time continued to pass and no security made an appearance, they finally loosened up and started talking again.
“Do you know where we are?” Augusta asked.
“I have no fucking clue. It’s too dark to read anything on the signs.”
“Use the flashlight on your phone.”
“Fuck no! They’ll see us!” Gravity warned.
“Who? There’s no one here!”
“Someone has to be somewhere. We’re not in fucking Idaho. We’re in Los Angeles.”
They were trespassing on hallowed ground. Passing some of the world’s most famous facades. Silently acknowledging their crime but feeling less and less like criminals as they explored along the same roadways the tram tour takes under the black of night.
Augusta moved a little closer to Gravity and linked her arm around Gravity’s elbow. “This place is really fucking creepy at night.”
“Some of this shit is creepy whether its day or night. Look…” Gravity pointed down the hill to what looked like the back of the infamous victorian house that sits on a hill above The Bates Motel. The girls are too young to know anything about Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho but the t.v. series is creepy enough to make the little hairs on the back of their arms stand up just a little at the very sight of the set.
“I always thought that was like a whole house. I had no idea it was open in the back like that.”
“Yeah, it’s just like the outside walls. No insides.”
“Ew. Maybe we should go over to Daddy’s soundstage?” Augusta suggested.
“Why? We know what all that shit looks like already.”
“I don’t know. Like maybe for a cover story or something. If we get caught we can say we’re allowed to be here because we’re his kids.”
Gravity checked her phone for texts. “That’s probably the last place we should go. Are you scared or something?”
“It’s just an idea.”
Gravity and Augusta spent the next hour dutifully recording their escapades with selfies on the steps of the Bates Motel, next to the shark from Jaws, in front of the warehouse that stores the sets for Parks and Recreation …they were basically generating a geotagged chronology of their escapade but that didn’t occur to them at all. They were just being nosey, not hurting any thing. Brazen, yes, but not actually bad. In their eyes at least. The powers that be at Universal would obviously beg to differ.
Eventually, without planning on it but perhaps subconsciously drifting towards it, they found themselves in front of the door that led to the soundstage for their parents’ television show. Gravity jiggled the door handle. Surprisingly it opened.
“You’re shitting me.” Augusta sputtered.
Gravity shut the door quickly but quietly. “Someone must be here.”
“No one is here. It was pitch fucking black in there.”
“There’s probably something in front of the door to keep the light out.”
“I’m going in.” Augusta said and she whipped the door open and disappeared inside the very dark warehouse.
“You’re a fucking idiot.” Gravity said as she followed.
She was right though. It sure did seem like no one was home. They were in the living room set of Jared’s hit tv show when Augusta flipped on the flashlight app on her phone. She swung the light beam around the space and plopped down on the green couch that’s a staple in every episode since it started airing. She tried the switch of the lamp on the end table next to the couch and was surprised when it lit up.
“It’s actually a real lamp.” she said.
Gravity switched on a floor lamp that was beside her. “I don’t like it here.” She lit a cigarette.
The living room set was definitely weird. All the sets are eerily similar to the rooms in their real home. There might be a fourth wall missing in every room here but the fireplace is in the same place in their living room as it is in this pretend living room. The bookshelves in the Dad’s office are the same in their Dad’s office. Even the kids bedrooms on this show look an awful lot like their own bedrooms. It was uncomfortable. And like everything else tonight, pretty creepy.
“Daddy comes here to play with his imaginary fucking family.” Gravity said as she ashed her cigarette in to the air. Little embers landed on the couch and burnt very tiny holes in the fabric.
“I wonder if he likes his pretend wife?”
“Probably not. Since his real fucking wife writes his lines!”
“Right! In that case, I wonder if he even likes his own character?”
The two girls shared a laugh. Then the darkness returned.
“You really think he doesn’t love her?” Augusta asked softly.
“No, I’m serious. Do you think they’re like going to get a divorce or something?”
“They can’t. They never got married.”
“You know what I mean. Do you think they’re going to split up or whatever.”
“Nope. I think they’re going to stay miserable forever.”
“I can’t tell if you’re serious or not.”
“We should.” Augusta agreed without skipping a beat.
The girls examined one another’s faces looking for a sign that the other was only kidding. Both of their faces were stone. They exchanged some unspoken twin to twin code that summarized all of the pain they felt over the years living a life that to anyone and everyone else who ever so much as glanced at one of their instagram posts seemed like a mother fucking daydream.
“It’s not fucking fair.”
“This whole thing is hella wrong.”
Gravity agreed with her sister “Yeah. It’s like they just stole our fucking lives and like nobody asked me if that was ok. It’s not even really how it is in our house. It’s so fake. No one talks like that.”
“I would have said no. I’m done putting my life on display for everyone. Like learn to mind your own fucking business.”
“Lets do it.”
“Set the place on fire.”
“We can’t. We can’t like just set a fire. There’s sprinklers and shit.”
“We have to figure out how to shut them off.”
“I need a cigarette.” Augusta lit her cigarette and looked up to see if the sprinklers were going to kick on as she exhaled. She snapped a selfie of her smoking at the kitchen table in the pretend kitchen. She ashed on the floor. Crushed her butt out on the high gloss table.
“Maybe we should just go.”
“Yeah. Let’s get out of here.”