Oscar Night — we are encamped just outside the Black Gate to Celebrity Village. The ten-storey doors rumble open just enough to release a floating disembodied mouth. From the shadow of the gate, the mouth bellows, its voice all phlegm and disdain:
“TOOTY ROOFTERS RECEIVES THE AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR IN A ROLE OF ABJECTION, REJOICE”
We clatter our swords and pop cans a little. The mouth retreats and the gate grinds shut. I see a group huddled around a fire making marks on pieces of parchment, exchanging trinkets. Someone bet against Tooty, a fool’s gambit.
Twenty minutes later, the gates reopen, the mouth returns. We hearken, of course, to its bad breath and black teeth.
“THE FILM ‘FOR THE LOVE OF PETE’ RECEIVES THE AWARD FOR MOST COHERENT ARRANGEMENT OF VISIBLE LIGHT, REJOICE”
We make less noise for this announcement. No one liked “For the Love of Pete”. The mouth retreats. The sky is green, or gray. Sandwiches are served.
The old ones say they remember a time before Oscar night, but we don’t believe them. How could they? Do they remember dragons? The rising of the mountains? The separation of the firmament? Prestige television? Ancient things. Oscar Night outlived them all.
The gate again, the mouth again. I see two cloaked figures walking the periphery of the encampment.
“THE FILM ‘OOPZY DAIZY: A FELON’S TALE’ RECEIVES THE AWARD FOR BRAZEN DUPLICITY IN A SCREENPLAY (ADAPTED), REJOICE”
Loud boos from the encampment. “Oopzy Daizy” was not sufficiently brazen. The mouth spits at us. A few of us stand up, swords drawn. The cloaked figures stay the hands of the angry ones. The mouth retreats, muttering in a forbidden tongue. I hear one of the cloaked figures whisper “Not now, my friend. Not now… but soon.”
When I was a child, I wondered what we did before Oscar Night, before the Celebrities retreated behind the wall, before we lived in the perpetual shadow of the Black Gate. No adult would answer when I asked. They would glare at me, or at the horizon, or at the gate itself, silent. I am well past wondering now, but I’ve heard hushed discussions among the people. They are restless. They don’t fill out their prediction cards the way they once did. “We want to see Celebrity Village,” they whisper.
The mouth, again. Faint yellow light from the other side of the Gate behind it. Those angered by the last result are already standing.
“PHENOLA MARTINQUELL RECEIVES THE AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR IN A ROLE OF MARGINAL EROTICISM, REJOICE”
Immediately, there are boos, catcalls and curses. The mouth admonishes them. “THIS IS THE WILL OF THE ACADEMY. MANY VOTES WERE CAST. REJOICE, YOU SCUM.”
I did not see it, but the cloaked figures flew toward the mouth as soon as it began its announcement. When I recognize their shapes against the dark of the Gate, I see them draw swords, already upon the mouth. They strike! Viscous ichor spews past the teeth, horrific gurgling. Those angered by the previous announcement are now running, towing a fashioned log behind them. The cloaked ones stab the now-fallen mouth repeatedly as it screams “MORE RESULTS ANON”
The Gate is rumbling shut again, but the angry ones and their log will reach it in time. The cloaked figures wave them on, then run with them. Others from the encampment run to join them, weapons drawn. They jam the Gate open. They are rushing into the yellow light. I hear cries from the other side of the Gate, some wailing, some triumphant. I look down at my sword, rusted on the ground. I hear the log straining to keep the gate open. I look at my wrinkled hands.
Sweeping up my blade, I run to the Gate and pray for victory, or freedom, or a noble death. And — perhaps — an autograph.
(This story originally appeared as a thread of tweets, whatever that means.)