+J.M.J.+

The Truman Show II: Through the Door in the Sky

By "Matrix Refugee"

Author's note:

At long last, Truman comes to the end of his journey to freedom, but not without more curveballs thrown at his head.... Including the mother of all ontological curveballs....

Disclaimer:

See Chapter I.

Paramount Pictures presents



A Scott Rudin Production



A Peter Weir Film







The Truman Show II





Featuring





Ed Harris Otto Stuckmeyer



Jude Law Joe Pantoliano



With Jake Jacobi as Montressor

And as Themselves



Sylvia Thomas & Truman Burbank





Written by Andrew Niccol and R.C.H. Mulhare



Directed by Peter Weir

* * * * *

Chapter VIII: The Shocking Revelation and Finale

*

The afternoon of the seventh day, Truman and his companions came within sight of the Canadian border, which Jerry pointed out as they paused on the top of a hill.

"We'll slip over it tonight," Jerry said. "Under cover of darkness."

"Sounds like Mexicans trying to slip into the U.S." Truman remarked.

"Only in this case, Canada is a lot more open-hearted," Jerry said. "No border guards."

"As I recall," Cristoff said. "The show was never very popular in Canada."

"And why's that?" Truman asked, actually trying to sound civil for a change.

Cristoff wagged his head. "The critics said it was too sentimental and old-fashioned, that it just didn't fit in the modern age."

"Some of the best support for the TLF came from Canada," Sylvia pointed out.

"Including me?" Jerry asked.

"Yeah, you've been great," Truman said, putting a brotherly hand on Jerry's shoulder. "We couldn't have gotten this far without you."

Jerry grinned at him sheepishly. "Glad to hear that since I've been doing the work of two people."

At the thought of Dietrich, Truman felt an ache in his heart. "Too bad Dietrich couldn't make it."

"I think he did," Syliva said, looking Truman in the face. "I think a little of his strength and tenacity went into you to help you through all this."

"Maybe, but I think most of it was just me wanting to get out of that box I'd been shut up in for thirty years," Truman said. "That's no way for anyone to live."

Cristoff replied to this with a smile, "Are you trying to tell me something?"

Truman looked at him. "Yeah. Don't pull that stunt on anyone ever again, unless they agree to it in writing."

"Don't worry. I won't."

"Why, because the experiment failed?" Truman asked.

"More because it really succeeded too well," Cristoff replied. "It's something I've really started to regret doing in the first place."

"At least you admit you were wrong," Truman said. "But it's a little late for that."

Sylvia put a soothing hand on Truman's shoulder. "At least it came at all." He turned to her and smiled. He found it hard to hang onto his anger with Cristoff when she looked at him like that.

"So the show just wasn't modern enough for Canadian audiences?" Jerry asked Cristoff

"I wasn't trying to make something modern; I was trying to create something that was realistic but innocent, make people feel a little better in this at-times awful world," Cristoff replied.

"Yeah, well, I guess in that respect you didn't make some people feel better," Truman said. "And that includes *ME*"."

Cristoff took this calmly. "I won't argue with you in that regard."

Jerry glanced out the window, toward where the border lay. "Since we're this close, I better give this to you," he said. He reached inside his jacket and pulled out a small manila envelope. He handed it over the seat back to Truman.

Truman took it and opened it, sliding the contents out into his hand.

Two Canadian national IDs, one with Sylvia's picture and the name "Lauren Garland". The other with Truman's picture and the name Harris Milton.

"I guess this one's for you, *Lauren*," Truman said, handing Sylvia the one with her picture.

"Wow, these look real," Sylvia said.

"They're as real as we can get them," Jerry said. "Let's say I got the TLF in contact with... an artist friend.

"Okay, if Truman's supposed to be a guy with amnesia, what am I supposed to be?" Sylvia said.

"You're a volunteer nurse who fell in love with him when you were working at the hospital where he was staying," Jerry said. "And you gave up that work to help him build a new life."

"Great, I'm married to another nurse!" Truman groaned, with a smile.

"She's only a volunteer one, not a registered one," Jerry said.

"Actually, I took a first aid course when I was trying to get work after I lost my job on the show," Sylvia offered.

"That puts you ahead of Meryl, or whatever he name was," Truman said. "Golly, I don't remember what she even looked like and it doesn't bother me."

"Good. That means you're breaking ties with all that," Cristoff said.

Truman took this in thoughtful silence, his head bent slightly. "You know, I forgot to mistrust you for a second there."

"It's best if you can do that, so we can part company without any hard feelings," Cristoff said.

"But what are you going to do now that Truman and I will be living in Canada?" Sylvia asked.

"I'm not sure yet," Cristoff admitted. "One thing I won't be doing the kind of work I used to do."

That sounded a little odd to Truman, but he thought little of it. They were so close to the end of the road and the beginning of his new life that he didn't want to spoil the feeling of peaceful excitement and anticipation that had come over him.

* * * * * * *

As they settled down for a rest, other preparations were being made elsewhere...

* * * * * * *

It was late in the afternoon when Jerry pulled the truck off the road into a stand of trees. Then they heard it, a hum like helicopters rotors roaring. Truman stuck his head out the window to look for the source of the noise.

"Don't let them see you!" Jerry said, pulling him back inside, but not before he glimpsed a helicopter coming in low over the treetops.

"I think they have already!" Sylvia shouted, as the roar overhead grew louder.

So Montressor's coming by air now, Truman thought.

Jerry peeked out. He jumped out of the van, flung open the rear door and dragged Truman out of the back, dumping him on the ground. Truman hardly had time to scrabbble to his feet before Jerry hauled him toward the trees, Sylvia and Cristoff pelting after them. Cristoff's foot caught on a root and he sprawled on his face.

"Cristoff!" Truman yelled.

"Don't stop for me! Keep going!" Cristoff yelled, as the long grass flattened under the downdraft from the turbine.

Jerry led them deeper into the woods, out of sight of the road, deep into the trees, until the roar started to fade in the distance. Truman thought he heard shouts, but his ears might have fooled him. They hid inside a stand of fir trees, listening. The rotors crescendoed, passing overhead, but they kept going, fading into the distance.

"That was close," Truman said, breathing hard.

"Let's go see if they left us anything," Jerry said.

When they walked back to the truck, they found the windows smashed and the sides dented, but it was otherwise intact. But there was no sign of Cristoff.

"Well, we won't have to deal with him any more," Truman said, but that sounded hollow even in his ears.

Sylvia glared at him, he could see tears in her eyes. "How can you talk that way? He was your father."

"He kept me in a cage for almost thirty years," Truman retorted. "At least he's getting what's coming to him."

Sylvia said nothing to this, but a baleful look had come into her eyes.

"I just hope he can convince Montressor to lay off on you,"

"Now what do we do?" Truman asked Jerry.

"We keep going, find another place to settle down till tonight," Jerry said, grimly.

"Good enough for me," Truman said. "As long as we end up in one piece at Bear Paw... Cat Claw... whatever the name of this town is."

"Bear Claw," Jerry said, using a clump of leaves to sweep the glass out of the seats.

"Hey, not bad practise pretending to be someone who's had amnesia," Sylvia said, some of the anger leaving her voice.

"Hey, it was unintentional," Truman said. "But I really wouldn't mind having amnesia for real if I could just forget all that stuff at the EcoSphere, forget all the lies."

"But even if all of that wasn't real, it still affected you as a person, helped shape who you are," Sylvia said.

He realized he couldn't in all honesty argue that with her. "That's true," he admitted. As they climbed into the van and drove away, he let some of the better memories run through his head. Meeting Sylvia, reuniting with the man who had rasied him... but as he tried to remember his childhood, he only came up with the annoying stuff: Mom's illnesses after his father "died". His teacher discouraging his dream to be an explorer.

Come to think of it, he really had grown up to be an explorer. Maybe much of the world was settled, but he was discovering it for the very first time. But he certainly hoped it got less exciting after this. If nothing really exciting happened to him for the rest of his life, he could stand it.

They stopped for their rest near a stand off tall oaks which formed the wind break for a Christmas tree farm.

"So what do we do next?" Truman asked.

"We're still within walking distance of the border, so once it's pitch black, around midnight, we cross the border, find a hotel and put up for the night," Jerry said, curling up in the driver's seat. "Then first thing tomorrow morning, we rent a car and drive to Bear Claw. Then once I've put you two up at the one hotel there and I've helped you settle into the town, your life is your own... Harris Milton."

"Finally," Truman said with a sigh or relief.

* * * * * * *

Hours later, Truman felt Sylvia nudge him awake. He opened his eyes and sitting up, looked out the window. Darkness had fallen.

"We better move before it gets any later," she said.

Jerry had divided up the essential baggage into three knapsacks, one for each of them. Then he led them through the trees, heading north. The land sloped, growing steep as they entered a rise of hills, but the slope soon led them down a gentle incline, leading them down to a village laid out in a valley floor.

"Is that where we're ending up? That my new home?" Truman asked.

"Not yet. That's only Mulliganville, where we'll put up for the night," Jerry said. "We'll stay the night there at a lodge where a lot of hiker stay, then head north to Bear Claw first thing next morning.

About an hour later, they reached the lodge. The clerk hardly batted an eye at their dishevelled appearances as they checked in and gave them the key to their room.

Truman felt too keyed up and tired at the same time to fall asleep, but he made himself settle down in bed beside an already sleeping Sylvia.

One more morning, and he would be free....

* * * * * * * *

Jerry found out from the desk clerk where they could rent a car. Immediately after breakfast, they hit the road for Bear Claw. "Estimated arrival time, barring turbulence caused by Montressor, 3 pm," Jerry announced as he jockeyed the rental car onto the road.

The road led them through hills and mountains, which meant they had to take some roads slowly, but Truman found the scenery utterly breath-taking after having lived in an artificial suburb for so long.

"Real mountains," he said, marvelling at them. "Not ones made of poured plaster on chicken wire or whatever they make stuff like that out of."

"Aren't they something?" Jerry said.

Truman rolled down the window and let the breeze tousle his hair. Freedom. Free as the breeze. So this was what it felt like.

At nightfall, they pulled into Bear Claw and put up at the town's one hotel, the Bear's Den, a cozy-looking log-built structure.

A stout, homely but cozy-looking woman sat behind a slightly battered desk in the entryway reading a newspaper as they entered. But she glanced up, looking right at Jerry.

"Hey Peik, long time no see!" she said, standing up. "That your girl?"

"No, she's my buddy Harris's girl," Jerry said, introducing Truman/Harris and Sylvia/Lauren.

"You folks new around here?" the woman, Sharon McKinley asked.

"Yes, we're just starting out, new life together in a new home," Truman said.

"Well, good luck to you both," Sharon said, handing them the keys to their rooms.

Jerry ended up in a tiny room at one end of the twisting upstairs hallway, while Truman and Sylvia had a large but cozy room at the other end, clearly a bridal suite.

Truman took the time to take a bath and shave; when he emerged from the bathroom, he found Sylvia had turned down the bedcovers and was sitting there in her nightgown, clearly waiting for him.

"Sylvia?" he asked

She smiled at him, her eyes warming. "It's Lauren, remember?"

"Yeah, that memory thing acting flooky again," he said as he sat down beside her.

* * * * * * * *

"Better rest up: we've got that rough shoot tomorrow," the director said, over the cellphone.

"I know it's only acting, but I don't know if we should put him through this," the actor replied. "It's such a hard scene. He's not exactly the action type."

"Neither are you. Is it him you're worried about or yourself?"

"It's both of us."

* * * * * * * *

Truman woke with the dawn and lay listening to the birds chirping outside. He watched the square of sky framed in the window turn brighter as the sun rose. Syliva/Lauren stirred in his arms, nestling her cheek into his chest.

After breakfast, Jerry took them on the grand tour of the town, the handful of shops, the town's one tiny restaraunt, the woods outside the town proper, then up the slope of Bearclaw Cliff.

"I know these trails like the back of my hand," Jerry said. "My uncle and I cut some of them, the smaller ones anyway."

They entered a deep grove of trees at the base of the cliff slope. As they climbed higher, the trees thinned out, replaced by boulders and large rocks which littered the ground.

"Wow, quite a sight," Truman said. "First time I've ever seen real rocks that big."

"Better enjoy 'em while y' can," said a man's sneery voice from a cleft between the rocks.

A stocky man clad in black emerged from a crevace near them, aiming a pistol at Truman's head.

Other figures, similarly clad, stepped out from other holes and niches in the rocks and from behind fallen trees, all armed, all levelling their weapons at them.

Truman instinctively drew Sylvia to his side. He looked around him, trying to find an escape, but they were surrounded.

"Ring a ring of boulders, a pocketful of guns," said a gruff but oily voice behind him. Truman turned to look.

Directly behind him stood a small man in black like the rest of his crew, but he matched Jerry's description of Montressor: the blotches of white on his skin; the tuft of white in his hair; the eyes: one black, one red.

"Montressor?!" he gasped.

The little man gave him a sweeping but condescending bow. "At your service, Truman Burbank. Or rather... you're at *MY* service, at least in a matter of time."

"I'm not interested after what I've heard about you," Truman said. "Sounds like a great offe, but I've done enough TV work in my life. I'd rather move on to some real work."

Montressor chuckled, a rich but unsettling ripple of sound. "Sorry, it's an offer you can't refuse. You belonged to Cristoff, now you belong to me. I'm just here to claim what's mine."

"Montressor, if you want anyone to act for you, I'll do it," Jerry said. "I'll need the work: Truman hardly needs my help now."

Montressor looked up at Jerry, head tilted back clearly to minimize the fact that he had to look up at him. "That's just the trouble: You're only too willing. But... maybe I can use you. Or the girl."

Sylvia slid her arm from Truman's. "I'll do it, spare him," Sylvia said, resignation in her voice.

"Over my dead body you will!" Truman shouted. He broke loose from the goons that held him back and rushed at Montressor.

The smaller man proved a lot tougher than he looked. They grappled, Montressor trying to kick and bite Truman, but Truman held on, trying to squeeze him hard around the torso. He tried to knock Montressor off his feet, but the smaller man's lower center of gravity worked against him. Montressor tried to shake him off, but they only succeeded in staggering toward the edge of the precipace.

"TRUMAAAAANNN!!!" Sylvia screamed.

Truman felt the ground drop away under his feet. He looked down. He realized this was how it ended. They were freefalling toward certain death. He closed his eyes and waited for the sickening thud.

But they hit something that gave slightly under their weight. He opened his eyes to discover they had landed in... a large safety net.

"What the... What on earth?" Truman asked. He looked up and realized they'd fallen only a couple feet.

Montressor, or whoever he was, crawled out of his grasp and sat up as best he could on the swaying net. He reached up and started fumbling at his hair line. Truman watched him scratching at the tuft of albinist hair, then prying it off. It dawned on Truman that it was a small hairpiece glued to the stranger's scalp.

"I think that's a wrap," the actor called up to the edge of the precipace.

"Wait," Truman said. "I thought I'd escaped from that TV show thing."

"Oh you have," said one of the goons, who'd come over to the edge and leaned over it, unarmed, clearly ready to help them up.

"But... I thought it was over," Truman said.

"It's over, but the producers wanted to see it go off with a bang," the actor who'd played Montressor said.

Jerry had joined the goon at the edge of the drop. "You see, the producers realized they couldn't keep you at the EcoSphere forever, so they had a back-up plan to do a TV movie that would cover how you escaped to the real world, and how you found Sylvia," he said, his British accent full throttle now.

"Then, what was real?" Truman asked, completely baffled.

Sylvia came to the edge of the precipace. "Truman, let them get you back up here."

He reached up to the goon at the edge and let him help him up. The goons were already dispersing, taking small earphones out of their ears as they went. Once he was on solid ground, Sylvia took his hands in hers. "We're real, and so is this town."

That wasn't the answer he really wanted, but it would have to do...

Sylvia smiled at him. At least that much was real.

THE END?