Not a single camera light flashed as Cher walked up to the Warner Brothers Recording office. She still hadn’t grown accustomed to her status as a relic, an artifact of a simpler time. It had been nearly a decade since the attention and adoration flowed freely. Now the pop of a paparazzi would have been a welcome change to the silence of the warm LA streets.
“Yes, I’m here to see Mark Taylor and Brian Rawlings please,” Cher told one of the receptionists at the front desk of
Somy, removing her sunglasses. She was told by the receptionist to go back to the far door on the right. Her producers were waiting for her.
She approached the door and noticed a strange smell. It was a type of rusty, oxidized smell that reminded her of drinking from the hose behind her childhood house in summer. However, after years of Perrier, the smell was unpleasant to her.
She creaked open the nickel-plated door and saw both Brian and Mark sitting across from one another on opposite sides of an rusted iron table. Brian sprang to his feet.
“Did you bring the magnets?” he asked, hurrying Cher into a vacant chair at the table.
“Jeez,” Cher replied. “How about a hello?”
Brian took Cher’s coat and rummaging around the pockets, removed four rare-earth magnets. Brian threw the small square blocks on the table and they snapped into place.
“Are we sure we want to summon this thing?” Mark asked of the group. “I just get a creepy feeling.”
“Listen,” Brian replied, “We all want Cher’s career back on track. She needs a hit song and we’ve used all of our earthly powers to write one that works but they all stink.”
“I thought ‘Banana in Madagascar’ had some legs,” Cher interjected. Brian and Mark barely took note of the comment.
“Look babe, you’re voice is shot to hell,” Brian said, sitting on the aluminum chair that surrounded the green iron table. “We need some otherworldly help at this point. That’s why we’re summoning Su-Zabar. Now sit.”
The three took their places with trepidation. None of them had ever conjured an ancient Sumerian God before, let alone one with such an insidious reputation as Su-Zabar. Brian opened his dayplanner and read some old sounding words aloud. He had got the conjuring spell from an agent he worked with at Miramax on a few projects. The magnets on the table shook briefly and then remained still.
“If this thing is the god of the machines,” Cher asked quietly, “Then what’s with the magnets? Should we be praying to a battery of something?”
“Electricity and magnetism are two aspects of the same force,” Mark whispered.
And after a brief calm, the table and the magnets bent and cambered with awful squeals. Soon the metal had taken the shape of an iron skeleton, with gears for teeth and ball bearings for joints. The squealing stopped and the whir of servos and the grind of levers began. Su-Zabar opened its green jaw.
“Kell sabat ot tennibal kamcha,” it squeeked.
Brian looked at his day planner. He read through a bullet pointed list of responses. This was Los Angeles, so he was used to hearing strange languages.
“Uh, greetings, Su-Zabar. We ask you give us audience in a matter that may benefit you.”
“Chelle konda wassto pelli?”
“Well we would like you to give this woman your voice,” Brian said pointing at Cher who was fixated on the mechanical monstrosity.
“Kabba tun de sabat de undelya?”
“In return we offer you a virgin voice,” Brian said. Then turning to Mark, “Get the girl out of the closet.”
Mark stood up quickly which startled the ancient god. Mark backed slowly to the closet and brought out a young girl, probably 17 or 18 years old. She, like most, had moved to Hollywood with grand expectations. But now, staring face to face with the Machine God, she was regretting leaving Ohio. Her cheeks were red and irritated from tears and now that she saw Su-Zabat, she screamed even through her cloth gag.
“Ha ha ha,” Su-Zabar chuckled. He held out his thin metal limbs and Mark pushed the young Midwestern-looking girl into him. Within seconds she was devoured completely by the crushing gears of Su-Zabar’s mouth. It was extraordinarily messy. Brian looked down to his day planner. There was a bullet point from his friend that read, “Gross. Will need a janitor afterwards.” They watched the digestion occur in front of their eyes. Cher turned away only for a moment.
Now with glowing and contented eyes, Su-Zabar reached out for Cher’s hand. The ancient God helped her up from her chair. His glowing eyes peered into hers.
“I don’t believe any of this can truly be happening,” Cher said to no one in particular. It was a futile attempt to return to reality. “I don’t believe.”
“Chu ill de believe,” Su-Zabat said and grabbed Cher’s throat. He put his rusting mouth to hers, the sharp gears colliding with her soft, artificial flesh. He breathed a heavy sigh into her. Cher shrieked with pain, but Mark and Brian noticed that the pitch of the shriek was perfect. Su-Zabar threw the aging pop-star to the ground and returned to his form of the table, exiting this reality with little forewarning.
Cher, now laying in the digested remains of the Midwestern girl, began to sob. Each wail she let out had a robotic, but wonderful tone to it. It was inhuman yet pleasing somehow.
“I believe,” she sobbed as she smiled. “Do you believe?” her voice wavered and corrected itself, automatically tuning.
Mark and Brian looked at one another. They did believe.