The misbegotten script

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Maxim flung the script across the room where it hit the wall with a satisfying thud and broke apart, showering papers over his desk and onto the floor. The cat, that had been curled up by his desk, took a lazy swipe at several sheets, then, bored with the game, sought refuge in an armchair, from where it stared at him unblinking. He shook an angry fist at it, but his attention quickly returned to the script. Selena should not have been lashed to the stake. In the gloom of early evening, several men were moving forward with flaming torches. No! No! No! That wasn’t what he’d written. She was supposed to escape. Getting down on all fours, he shoved away the cat that was rolling in the discarded sheets, baring it’s hairy belly to the world. Rummaging through the pages, he searched for the last scene, but it was nowhere to be found. Snatching up a sheet, he turned it over and, grabbing a pen from his desk, scribbled on the blank side: Selena shakes off the shackles that bind her… as if writing it again might sway history … but it didn’t work. The smell of smoke was everywhere and he could hear the crackle of flames. Balling up the paper, he tossed it to the floor where the cat pounced on it, tearing it to shreds between claws and teeth. Maxim clamped his hands over his ears when the ripping of paper gave way to a piercing scream. A moan broke from his unwilling lips and tears streamed from his eyes. Smoke curled round him ever denser. “Selena?” he called out. Jeers were the only answer he got. “That’ll teach you, witch!” one man cried out. A fit of coughing had Maxim bent over double as the fire roared ever louder. He sank to the floor, a wave of intense heat washing over him, sapping his strength. Cracking open stinging eyelids, he saw two large, round eyes emerge from the swirling smoke only inches from his face and a tiny pick tongue darted out and licked his nose, its touch rough and wet and reassuring. When the cat turned to leave, despair threatened to overwhelm him, but the animal halted and glanced back, waiting. Gathering what little force he had left, Maxim pushed himself up on all fours and crawled after the cat.

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