The contest is one third of the way through, and Mark Finn continues to deliver.

NOTE: If you are not up to date on the story, the first two novels have been run in their entirety at
The Transformation of Lawrence Croft:
Chance of a Lifetime:

One in a Million – Chapter 10

10. Her First Step Into a Larger World

Rhonda dashed past the bored receptionist at Archer and Steel Productions with frantic determination. She knew the way by heart. The receptionist knew Rhonda on sight. It was an old dance, one that was usually over quickly.

She adjusted herself as best as she could at a dead run. It had been another one of those “stay up until 4 am watching the gifts and tributes come pouring in over her website” nights. Now she was late for the 9 AM casting call. She was wearing her sports bra, because weirdly, none of her regular bras fit her anymore. She didn’t have time to ponder that particular laundretic mystery, nor her own bizarre choice of tank-top and blue jeans with a leather jacket that she’d thought she lost five years ago. Her whole apartment was utter chaos, and later today, she was having new servers installed to take up the extra traffic from her sudden surge in online popularity.

But first, a casting call. It was for a small part in an action movie. Two scenes, three lines of dialogue, and then a death scene. It would be the biggest thing Rhonda had ever done, if she got it. She ran her fingers through her still-drying hair, now a more subdued shade of auburn, and burst into the casting room. She was greeted with withering, indolent stares from the six other girls who looked like fraternal twins. Identically blonde, perky, and earnest.

Rhonda gave her head shot and cover letter to the casting assistant at the desk and took a seat, slightly away from the other hopefuls, who were radiating open hostility now. None of them were people she knew, even in passing. Strange, because normally there were a few regulars that she made the rounds with.

Screw it, thought Rhonda. I’m in too good a mood to be intimidated by these fembots. She reached under her tank top and shucked out of her sports bra, letting the twins have full access to her tank top. It may have been just the way Rhonda was sitting, but she could have sworn they were getting bigger. But that wasn’t possible. She’d just come off of the monthly curse. She should be shedding water, not retaining it.

It didn’t matter. Two of the girls made a “Gah!” face and another one just got up and left, slamming the door behind her. One down, five to go, thought. Now the other five were staring at Rhonda with a measure of fear. Rhonda didn’t care. She doubted that the girl who just left was really intimidated by her, but she wasn’t going to let the moment go to waste. She leaned over to the closest blonde and said, “So, is this your first porno?”

“What?” the girl turned, shocked. “I think you’re in the wrong place.”

“Oh no,” Rhonda said, “Archer and Steel, 9 am.” She took out an email page and pretended to read from it. “‘Casting for two roles in high budget—’ Hah! Yeah, right! ‘—erotic movie. No experience necessary. Full penetration required. Bonus for anal.’” Rhonda looked back at the girl, who was now pale and panicked, and said in a husky voice, “So, which part are you reading for?”

The other girls scrambled for their scraps of information. The queen fembot yanked an email similar to Rhonda’s out of her purse and quickly scanned it. “Omygod,” she said. “I didn’t read this right at all. I’m so sorry,” she said, standing up, “but I can’t do this.”

The room was cleared in less than a minute.

Rhonda glanced over at the casting assistant guarding the desk. “Nicely done,” she said without looking up from her copy of Variety.

“I’m kinda amazed that it worked,” Rhonda said. She didn’t know what had gotten into her. Ordinarily she wouldn’t dream of messing with anyone at a casting call, but today she felt, well, pretty invincible. She caught all of the traffic lights green on the way here, and she didn’t have to wait in line for her coffee this morning. Talk about a great day. And it was only 9:15!

The door opened and a young man stuck his head out. “Okay, Brie, let’s have another…one?” He looked and saw only Rhonda.

Brie smiled. “In you go,” and handed the young man Rhonda’s paperwork.

“Thanks,” said Rhonda. She jumped up and followed the young man into the reading room.


The drive home was surreal. Rhonda navigated, on automatic pilot, making turns and more or less paying attention to what she was doing. The phone rang and she answered it without taking her eyes off the road. “Yeah?”

“Rhon, it’s Les.”

“Oh, hey Les.”

“Are you okay? You sound kinda distant.”

“Yeah, I’m just fine. I got a part. Major movie.”

Leslie screamed. “No way! Rhon, that’s awesome!”

“Yeah, it is. Look, I gotta go. I’ll call you later.”

“But Rhon, don’t you want to…”

Rhonda hung up on her best friend. It was the only thing to do that made sense. Rhonda couldn’t tell her the whole story, and she’d definitely want to know. What could Rhonda tell Leslie? That she never even had to read? That as Rhonda walked up to the lit corner of the room, she said, out loud, “I really want this part”? And then before she could do anything else, the three men and two women in the room suddenly answered, “Congratulations! You really got the part!”

How would that sound? No one would believe her. It was like the Jedi mind trick or something…only for real. She played over the events at the casting call in her mind, from start to finish. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a Jedi mind trick, but it was definitely something.

As Rhonda sat at the red light thinking about her day, a peddler came up to her car window with a bucket of roses. She rolled down the window and he said, “A pretty flower for a pretty lady, only three dollars.”

Rhonda met his stare and said, “Oh, I think today they’re free for me, don’t you?”

The man stopped and said, “You’re right, you’re quite right.” He handed her the flower bucket and walked off.

The light turned green. The car behind her honked. Rhonda didn’t hear it.


About Author

Mark Finn is an award-winning author, playwright and essayist who is active in Robert E Howard studies. His biography, Blood & Thunder: the Life and Art of Robert E Howard was nominated for a World Fantasy award, and will be re-released in an updated second printing later this month. His comic books SCOUTS! Premeires in March from Ape Entertainment.

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