Novel Translation

The Greatest Showman – Chapter 76

Chapter 76 – Reveal One’s Edge.

Renly repeatedly read these two pages of the script three times, then put down the script and slowly pieced together the entire blueprint in his mind.

This is an excerpt from the middle of a movie. Paul has already contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through his cellphone and is waiting for rescue. The kidnappers called, demanding that Paul record a video following the instructions they left in the coffin, requesting a ransom of one million dollars from the US government, and then send it to the kidnappers. However, the staff from the FBI advised Paul not to record the video because it would only make things worse. In the end, Paul did not record the video.

The excerpt takes place in the following paragraph. As the kidnappers have not received the video for a long time, they send a video in which one of Paul’s female colleagues appears. She has also been kidnapped but is in a room that resembles a warehouse. The kidnappers threaten to kill this female colleague of his. In an emergency, Paul is forced to agree to record the video.

Renly couldn’t help but contemplate. He couldn’t know how it felt to be trapped in a coffin, but he knew that Paul’s emotions at the moment were extremely complex. On one hand, he was waiting for the rescue from the FBI, and on the other hand, he was worried that he might not be able to escape. So, he called his mother who lived in a nursing home. It was at this emotionally charged moment that the kidnappers’ video was sent.

Originally, Paul still held a glimmer of hope that he could survive, but immediately after, the crisis struck again. Not only was his life hanging by a thread, but his colleague’s life was also in great danger. What was even more infuriating was that he was trapped in a tiny coffin, unable to resist and could only passively endure the beatings, unable to vent his frustrations.

Looking around, they were sitting in the lobby of a youth hostel on the ground floor. Due to the weather clearing up, the crowd that had gathered gradually dispersed. However, there were still seven or eight people scattered in the lobby, chatting casually, creating a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere.

“I’m ready,” Renly made an “OK” gesture to Rodrigo, “Can you help me rehearse this scene?”

Rodrigo took a moment to catch up with what Renly had said, he hesitated for a moment, and then nodded. “No problem.” In this scene, Renly needs a counterpart to play the role of a kidnapper. The lines are not many, but there needs to be a dialogue between the two sides.

The reason for selecting this scene is very simple. Paul is in a dramatic moment after a brief relaxation, being pushed off a cliff. This extreme change severely tests the actor’s ability to control emotions, which aligns with the first part described by Renly. Moreover, Paul’s heart is touched by witnessing his colleague in crisis, while also having to consider the bureau’s dissuasion. The internal changes in Paul will be even more special, in line with the second part described by Renly.

Of course, Rodrigo also knows that there is only so much to examine in just a few minutes. However, he is still very curious about how Renly, who is full of confidence, will interpret it. Under his watchful eyes, Rodrigo saw Renly lay down…actually just lay down!

Renly adjusted his sitting posture, he stretched his legs, and laid down on the sofa, then he closed his eyes, gradually slowing down the rhythm of his breath. In his mind, he outlined the feeling of being trapped in a narrow space, with darkness slowly descending and enveloping him, gradually contracting.

For the moment, he didn’t think about the probability of Ryan Reynolds getting the role or the possibility of breaking the age barrier to win the role. At the same time, he didn’t think about being in a noisy public place. He wholeheartedly focused his thoughts on the character itself, fully concentrating his mind.

In the darkness, the noise in his ears began to grow louder, accompanying the contraction of darkness, as if the whole world outside the darkness was experiencing a New Year’s Eve party, further compressing the space of darkness, almost completely surrounding Renly without any ventilation. After the darkness was compressed to the extreme, it started to rebound again, swiftly devouring those noises like a tide, as if the darkness was devouring the light. In the blink of an eye, all the surrounding sounds disappeared.

Rodrigo widened his eyes in astonishment.

After carefully observing, he discovered that Renly showed no signs of movement, as if he was completely asleep. This really puzzled Rodrigo, and for a moment, he didn’t know what to do—should he wake up Renly?

But at the moment of him having that thought, Renly’s breathing began to accelerate, and his chest rose and fell violently like a bellows. The intense movement almost made Rodrigo think that Renly’s illness was acting up, which was quite alarming. Then, Renly’s eyes opened.

Those deep eyes were concealed behind a hazy mist, with slightly clenched teeth tightening his facial lines. A hint of suppressed pain and struggle appeared between his slightly furrowed brows. His heavy breaths echoed heavily in his chest, as if each breath was consuming brain energy.

Even without the help of makeup and despite the youthful appearance of his face, even without any verbal cues, the emotions were conveyed clearly and accurately. Rodrigo almost immediately understood it all. After the conversation with his mother, Paul’s emotions were fluctuating intensely. The pain of severed affection brought a heart-wrenching agony that slowly spread between his teeth.

Paul picked up his phone, closed his eyes tightly, and exerted all his strength to endure immense pain. Then he placed the phone to his ear, but his thumb hesitated to press the call button. His dignified eyebrows slightly arched, and bitterness rippled out. His breath hitched as if all the emotions in his heart came to a halt at that moment, but the rippling spread uncontrollably. He pressed the call button.

There was no sound on the other end of the phone. Paul brought the phone in front of his eyes and glanced at it. Surprisingly, someone had sent a video. The breath he had been holding in suddenly relaxed, and the entwined eyebrows couldn’t suppress the panic in his heart. His restless pupils trembled, and clenching his teeth did nothing. His thumb lifted again, pausing for a moment. In less than half a second, one could see the slightly trembling fingertip, and then his thumb pressed the OK button.

“No.” Silence filled the air. In the absence of any other supporting context, Rodrigo watched this solo performance before him, yet his heart immediately became entangled. He knew that Paul had seen a video of his colleague—the rapidly vibrating pupils carried a hint of confusion and panic. The nightmare of despair began to climb from the fingertips, “No, no, no, no, no, no!”

The voice of denial trembled softly, and he widened his eyes in disbelief, staring fixedly at the phone screen. The dead ashes of cardiac arrest passed through his eyes, and his voice began to crumble, “No, no, no!”

He breathed heavily, and the light in his eyes gradually disappeared. He quickly dialed the number, and the call was answered almost immediately. Rodrigo lowered his voice and asked, “Did you record it?? God, his own performance was simply terrible, forced and unnatural. His lines were all ambiguous and unsatisfactory. He’s really not suitable to be an actor.

“Please! Don’t… don’t… hurt her!” Paul’s voice was fragmented, and the sound of his teeth clashing could even be heard. Without receiving the slightest bit of influence from Rodrigo’s words he continued, “Don’t hurt her! Let her go!”

His panicked voice revealed despair, as if even the darkness had become insignificant. Rodrigo’s emotions were stirred by it, and he said menacingly, “If you don’t record il, I’ll shoot!”

“No, no, no! Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” Paul’s earnest voice lost control and burst like a bubble, producing a fierce sound that turned into nothingness, plunging rapidly into an abyss.

In an instant, the attention of the entire youth hostel lobby was drawn to them. Worried expressions appeared on their faces. The clamor disappeared, muscles tensed, bodies became alert. Then they heard Paul’s urgent plea, “I will, I will! I promise!” The fragility in his voice seemed as if a gust of wind could shatter it. “I promise! Please, she’s a mother, she has two children.”

“Two children? I had five children, and now there’s only one left!” Rodrigo gritted his teeth fiercely, even he didn’t know why he was doing this. His cruel voice was like a venomous snake, “Record immediately!”

“Wait! Wait!” Paul was retreating step by step. He couldn’t even defend himself, let alone fight back. “No, wait!” Despite his desperate pleas, it seemed to have no effect. “I don’t know what you want me to say…” In his panic, he tried to mediate, desperately clutching onto the last lifeline as if hanging on the edge of a cliff, unwilling to give up. But the other party clearly wasn’t giving him a chance. “I’ll give you three seconds, three, two…”

The countdown of this Grim Reaper tightly gripped Paul’s throat. His whole body tensed up, but he couldn’t move at all, firmly pinned in place as if his limbs were immobilized, only his voice was free. Thus, he began to vent his inner frustration, anger, helplessness, and despair in a hoarse and forceful roar, “Fine! Fine!” His pupils began to dilate, and the fading spark of his soul could be clearly seen. The despair of death invaded his mind, “I’ll record the video! I’ll record the video! I’ll record the video!”

His words grew increasingly urgent and painful, that was his only weapon, but it was in vain. “Please! Please! Please!” His desperate shouts exhausted all his energy. He let go of his hands and slowly fell into the dark abyss. It finally became quiet around him, and the countdown voice disappeared. “Can I hang up now and record the video?”

“You have three minutes!” Rodrigo’s voice came from hell.

Paul hung up the phone, immediately turned over, and aimed the rear camera of his phone at himself. He even forgot to breathe, his pale lips devoid of any color. His soulless eyes stared numbly and hollow at the camera, while his tightly clenched teeth revealed a trace of determination. He knew that after recording the video, he would be cutting off his own lifeline. But he had no choice because he was caught between a rock and a hard place.

Taking a deep breath and without any pause, he pressed the record button.

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