“Monster of the Week,” by Fred Coppersmith

Aug 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

They say the camera adds ten or even fifteen pounds. Maybe that’s why Harvey didn’t notice the dragon was quite so big until the darn thing actually ate him.

More likely he just wasn’t paying attention. I’m just the on-air talent so what the heck do I know, right? But that green, scaly beastie sure seemed plenty big enough for me.

It’s not like we’d never had weirder booked on Get Up! Good Morning!, though. We’ve had weirder and wilder just this season alone, and that was without hardly trying.

But that’s also kind of our show’s calling card, right? A little light chat and spontaneity straight after the morning news, some Hollywood gossip mixed with a bubbly splash or two of the supernatural.

You count yourself lucky most days if you can even tell those things apart.

Less than a month back, for instance, we’d booked a local hunter who claimed he’d shot a werewolf. Followed directly by a celebrity chef who claimed that he was a werewolf. The two of them got into fisticuffs on air, tumbling into the audience while the chef’s summer casserole burned and the network phones lit up with other sightings of culinary lycanthropes. The tabloids and trades argued that drugs or dark magic had been involved. Maybe even both. It was positively scandalous.

The truth was, Harvey liked stirring up controversy. “Go big or go home shopping network,” he liked to say. Maybe a little more often than that joke deserved, but his can-do attitude usually made him a pretty good producer for daytime television.

Don’t get me wrong, we never expected to win an Emmy or anything. But ratings were good, and I’d never had any real complaints. At least nothing I couldn’t get my agent or an exorcist to quietly resolve.

But Harvey had been nothing but distracted lately. I’d heard somebody in hair and makeup suggest he was going through a messy divorce, that he’d lost half the house, his car, even the new boat that last year’s sweeps week had paid for. I couldn’t remember if I’d ever even met his wife, much less been invited on that boat. But I couldn’t help but think old Harv was being just a little bit unprofessional about all of this, you know?

His attitude wasn’t healthy for behind-the-scenes morale, is the thing. It was bad energy, and a live audience eats up bad energy just as easily as good.

A dragon, as it turns out, eats up just about anything.

Maybe I should have known something was up when I first smelled the smoke and brimstone. The smell wasn’t overbearing when the local zookeeper first wheeled the cage out, but it was worse than burnt casserole and matted wolfman fur, I can tell you that. You could feel the heat coming off the enormous cage even through the deep velvet cloth somebody had draped over it backstage, and there were these little wisps of smoke escaping from underneath its fringe. You couldn’t actually see the beast, except for a couple of clawed toes sticking out near the edge of the cage, but I knew the darn thing had to be huge.

I remember glancing over where Harvey was standing, just behind camera one, as if to ask, “going big enough for you yet?” I thought maybe I could raise a smile or something, at least. But the man never even looked up at me from his cell phone.

I wouldn’t say that made me angry, exactly, but I do know this: I was a pussycat compared to the dragon. The great lizard absolutely lost it when the zookeeper whisked the cloth away and it laid its fiery yellow eyes on old Harv. I’m still not sure what he did to upset the beast so much. But when I saw the way it looked at him, I thought, oh right, I had met Harvey’s ex-wife!

Which is why I have to accept some small amount of blame for what happened next. I don’t know if unlocking the cage was the best decision I could have made under the circumstances. The zookeeper certainly didn’t want me to do it, and if I’m being honest even the dragon seemed a little bit surprised. But I also don’t think any of us can deny that what happened then made for very good television.

Because, surprised or not, the dragon burst from that cage with the mightiest roar I’d ever heard. There were shrieks from the studio audience, as the dragon’s leathery wings lifted it above them, into the air, and it spat out a bright ribbon of flame. But we’d trained them well, oh yes, and I’m delighted to say not a single one of them ran.

Neither did Harvey, of course, although in hindsight he probably should have.

It was altogether strange, seeing our producer get gobbled up by a mythical creature on live television. But I guess I don’t have to tell any of you that. You just saw the clip from that show for yourself.

After that, the dragon was surprisingly easy to corral, just a few magic hexes and a couple of shots from the zookeeper’s tranquilizer gun. I guess the old girl was just full. I didn’t catch the name of the production assistant who grabbed a fire extinguisher, but that was quick thinking, and it should save us some money next season when we rebuild the set.

Well, now, I do have to apologize, folks. This acceptance speech has more than just a little gotten away from me. But like I said, none of us were expecting to win this evening.

So let me just wrap this up by saying, on behalf of everyone at Get Up! Good Morning!, we’re honored and humbled by the Emmy voters’ decision tonight.

And…um…well I guess we’re hiring for a new producer, if anybody’s interested.


Fred Coppersmith is a writer and editor from the mean suburban streets of New York. His fiction has appeared in Andromeda Spaceway’s Inflight Magazine, Mythic Delirium, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, among others. He publishes the quarterly zine Kaleidotrope and can usually be found nattering about something or other on Twitter @unrealfred.

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