The stars were trickling in, and Johnny would have been happy to use the camera on any of them. Many of them were the prepackaged teen stars continually produced by the House of Mouse, generally generic and possessing the right amount of meager talent and non threatening teen beauty to appeal to the right demographic.
Every time one of them walked down the red carpet, the roar from the crowd reached levels that felt like an elephant sitting on Johnny’s chest. It was everything he could do to stop from throwing up at the orgy of artificial fame. But he kept a smile on his face and the camera on the stars, and managed to not pull the trigger on them. He kept waiting for the big show.
The roar when the Singer stepped out of his custom limo was incredible. Johnny felt like his head was going to explode. He could feel the noise, like a physical thing. The Singer was even smaller and slighter in person than he looked in pictures. He was seventeen, but he was barely child sized. Johnny squinted. The Singer was wearing lifts. Even with them, he was maybe five feet tall.
Johnny’s throat went dry. He still wasn’t nervous. He could see how it was all going to happen. The Singer would come up to him, all smiles, a big grin for the camera. His head would explode like a ripe tomato. At this distance, Johnny would probably get him by some of the blood. He saw everyone dropping, panicking, giving him time to run away. He thought maybe he would go bigger, go after one of the fame factories like the House of Mouse.
He knew that he would never be forgotten. Everyone was going to know about him, they would see what he’d done and realize why he’d done it. He knew that there would be others to follow. He was the first, but he wouldn’t be the last. He was going to be a hero.
But not just yet. It seemed to take forever for the Singer to make his was down the line. He stopped at every camera, smiled and leaned in for them to ask questions. There was no way that either the Singer or the alledged journalists that he was talking to could hear a damn thing, but they went through the pantomime anyway.
Johnny felt his heart pounding in his ears. He was pretty sure that he hadn’t been this excited the night he lost his virginity. The reporter was saying something to him, her mouth moving but no sound could reach him. He wondered idly if he could have heard her even if there weren’t thousands tweens trying to bust his eardrums with their vocal cords.
It seemed to take forever for the Singer to get there. He was only a couple of steps away now, pausing frequently to wave to the girls. This actually caused them to get louder, which Johnny would have had trouble believing was even possible. The Singer was close enough that Johnny could have done the job from there, but he waited. He would only get one shot at this.
Johnny took a deep breath, blew it out slowly. The Singer stepped forward, flanked by some security standing discretely out of camera range and a woman Johnny assumed was a publicist, keeping the train moving. Johnny wondered if he could get her, too. She was, after all, a crucial part in the fame machine that kept the Singer running. The Singer was right in front of him now, elfin, well within range. It was time. Johnny took a deep breath and let it out.
The roar of the crowd went away. He couldn’t hear anything. He watched his reporter buddy shouting something, saw the publicist shouting back. He pulled the camera in tight to his shoulder. He held his breath, felt his heart slowing down. Felt everyone slowing down.
He pointed the camera at the Singer. Johnny Getz smiled, and the Singer smiled back. He was so fucking stupid, grinning like the vacant idiot he was, completely unaware that his fame, his fucking life was about to end. Johnny met his eyes and pressed the button. The shotgun shells roared and then everything went straight to hell.
Johnny couldn’t hear a fucking thing. That was a problem. The reporter that had attached herself to him was evidently asking something that the publicist objected to. How she knew what the reporter was asking was a mystery for the ages, but she did what a good publicist was supposed to do. She put herself between her client and the media. She also put herself in front of the shotgun blast.
Johnny was right. He did get splattered with blood. The publicist’s head turned into a red mist, and the air was still pink as the security team moved forward. Johnny saw the Singer gaping, for a split second. He staggered back, blood splattering his face, but he wasn’t hurt. The publicist took most of the blast. The reporter was holding up where her hand used to be, blood fountaining into the air. Johnny had gotten her microphone hand at the same time that he hit the publicist.
The security team hit the Singer hard, shielding him with their bodies. Johnny didn’t know what to do, what to try. He felt something he thought was probably his heart breaking. He’d failed. He dropped the camera and started to turn, running on automatic. He could still escape. There could still be another chance to get it right.
He’d thought that the barricades holding back the crowds weren’t enough, and he was right. He didn’t think they’d been able to hear the gunshot, but they could see that the security team was swarming the Singer. They could see he was covered in blood. They surged forward and the barricades and security members were swept along like sand in the tide.
Johnny saw them coming and didn’t have time to do anything. He screamed something, tried to explain, but his words were lost in the noise. He held out his arms but they hit him like a Mack truck. He felt his back hit the fence behind him, and the girls crushed against him. The metal fence might as well have not been there at all, and Johnny fell down, tripping over it.
As soon as he went down, it was all over. The few girls that saw him, that tried to move around him were pushed forward by the crush. One stepped on him. Two. A thousand. He curled into a ball, but it didn’t matter. Johnny Getz closed his eyes and they just kept coming around him and over him and everything he was and ever would be faded to black.
The Singer’s security team was good, and they managed to get him to safety before the girls got to him. It would be two years before he made another public appearance, but his next album would go onto break every sales record. He went from being popstar and turned into a legend.
Twenty seven people were killed in the crush, and countless more were injured. The publicist and the reporter that blocked the shot were trampled, and it was never entirely clear to the authorities what had happened. The official conclusion was that there was an attempt on the Singer’s life. The would - be killer was never identified.
Johnny Getz’s remains were never claimed, and he was buried in an unmarked grave.