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Damian and Amelia had four meetings with production companies who wanted to option the book. The first three studios all pitched different versions of the same story—his story: an intrepid activist/scientist discovers a cave full of the fossilized remains of an ancient society of large intelligent weasels. The cave is in danger of being destroyed by an Evil Corporation. The intrepid activist/scientist and his team come up with a daring plan to save the cave and the land around it, nearly fail, but pull it off in the nick of time. Huzzah!
The studios threw in various subplots. All of them featured a straight love interest. (One of them had read enough to mention Min-Ji Hong by name, though mentioned that they’d try to find an actress “as close to Emma Stone as possible.”) There was also a mother-with-cancer subplot, a gay coming-out subplot—which intrigued Damian until he realized that they wanted to play it for laughs—and his personal favorite: the weasel society was still alive, living in sewers beneath major American cities, conspiring to take back the planet.
After Amelia gently shooed out the last set, Damian took a breath. “I work with activists who start meetings with guided meditations to open everyone’s heart chakras,” he said. “And that’s still less bullshit than what we just sat through.”
“Damian,” Amelia said.
“I feel dirty. Did any of them even read the book?”
“Of course they didn’t,” Amelia snapped. “They read a plot synopsis their assistants typed up for them. They’re not book people, they’re movie people.”
“I’m pretty sure they were goddamn lizard people,” Damian said. There was a knock at the door. He looked at Amelia—was there another meeting? But she looked as surprised as he did. The door opened and…
Damian’s first impression was a feminine version of the guy from Ancient Aliens. Tall with unruly hair, an ill-fitting tweed suit, and a pair of narrow, steel-rimmed glasses perched on a nose as severe as a Roman senator’s.
The woman settled herself into one of the chairs, pulled out a stack of folders, and started talking in an uninterrupted flow that spoke to either a healthy cocaine habit or an unhealthy amount of enthusiasm.
“I’ve got to say, it’s an honor to meet you, Mister Flores. I’ve been dreaming about this meeting. Literally dreaming about it. Usually it’s an anxiety dream and I’m naked or my teeth are falling out.” She actually looked down, apparently for reassurance.
“Hi?” Damian said. He looked to Amelia for help, and she stepped in.
“I’m sorry, I seem to have…” She pawed through her notes. “Would you mind telling me your name again?”
“Annika Wagner-Smith. From the Smithsonian network?”
That got Damian’s attention. “The Smithsonian?”
Annika nodded, and a swoop of ashy hair bobbed as she did. “I don’t mind telling you that there’s been a lot of executive interest about this documentary.”
“A documentary,” Damian said. “Not a movie?”
“Movies,” Annika scoffed. “The discovery of Megalictis ossicarminis made us radically reconsider sapience, evolution, and civilization. Our network wants to delve into not just the their discovery, but what this means for us, as humans.”
She slapped a glossy printout onto the table and slid it over to them.
“Holy shit,” Damian said. He’d seen artists’ renderings of ossicarminis before. But these images looked, for lack of a better term, badass. Maybe it was bad science, but it was really cool to see a prehistoric weasel the size of mountain lion dressed like a minor character in He-Man.
“Why does it say Space Weasels across the top?” Amelia said.
“It’s just a working title,” Annika shrugged. “A theory that one of the executive producers is interested in investigating.”
Annika slid another printout toward them. This one had ossicarminis at the helm of what looked like the bridge of the USS Enterprise, pointing excitedly at a planet through a viewscreen. “It’s not the focus of the documentary, but our audiences are going to wonder why we’d leave out this particular theory.”
“Theory that…ossicarminis went to space?” Damian asked.
Annika shrugged again. “Our audiences like space.”
About The Book
Dark, irreverent, and truly innovative, the nine speculative stories in Homesick meditate on the theme of home and our estrangement from it, and what happens when the familiar suddenly shifts into the uncanny. In stories that foreground queer relationships and transgender or nonbinary characters, Cipri delivers the origin story for a superhero team comprised of murdered girls; a housecleaner discovering an impossible ocean in her least-favorite clients’ house; a man haunted by keys that appear suddenly in his throat; and a team of scientists and activists discovering the remains of a long-extinct species of intelligent weasels.
Article originally Published in the February/March 2020 Issue “Short Stories”