MidReal Story

VFX Savior: The Rise of a Superhero

Scenario: A owner of a special VFX becomes superhero to promote and save his company keeping up with the joneses
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A owner of a special VFX becomes superhero to promote and save his company keeping up with the joneses
I folded my hands on the table and stared at the menu in front of me, pretending to consider whether I wanted the lamb or the duck for dinner.
It was all I could do not to look up, not to stare at the prices and wish, not for the first time, that I’d actually managed to get a paycheck this month.
Or last month.
Or the month before that.
The restaurant was expensive, one of the best in LA, and one I’d been dreaming of trying for years.
But there was no way I could afford to eat here tonight.
No way I could afford anything on the menu—except maybe the water.
And even that might be pushing it.
My friends didn’t seem to notice my silent struggle, though.
They were too busy talking about their lives—about how successful they both were and how everything was going so well for them.
I really didn’t want to look up.
But when a waitress walked by, I couldn’t help it.
The restaurant’s menu was open in front of her, and there were prices listed on it.
Prices that were far beyond what I could afford—whether or not I got paid this week.
My friends continued chatting behind me as I pretended to read the menu.
I’d been looking at it so long, I was pretty sure I had it memorized by now—every single, expensive item on it.
I had no idea why I’d even bothered trying to read it in the first place.
Or why I’d thought this would be a good idea in general.
Sarah and Alex had been gone on location for months now, working on a movie together, and they’d invited me out to catch up now that they were finally back in LA.
I’d agreed without even thinking about it—without even considering just how damned expensive this dinner was likely going to be.
Or how I’d pay for it.
Sarah’s gig had been a major blockbuster.
She was a big star now—everyone knew her name.
Alex’s directorial debut was getting rave reviews; he was already lining up his next few projects.
And me… well, ReedWorks was barely hanging on by a thread—and that was being generous.
As much as I hated to admit it, my company simply wasn’t doing as well as my friends were—and it sure as shit wasn’t doing as well as everyone thought it was doing.
Not when we hadn’t managed to turn a profit in years.
I listened as they talked behind me, sipping my water.
And wishing I could get something stronger.
Hell, wishing I could get something other than water period—even if that meant resorting to stealing from someone else’s table.
Instead, I settled for listening as my friends talked about their lives—about what had been going on with them over these last few months since we’d last seen each other.
So, Alex, what’s next for you?”
Sarah asked from behind me.
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Her voice was sweet, and it was clear she was genuinely interested in the answer, but it only made my gut clench tighter.
Alex let out a small huff, one that sounded tired, before he answered her question with a question of his own: “Is ReedWorks still alive?”
Sarah laughed, just like she always did when someone made a joke at the company’s expense—even though it was her damn company, too.
“Barely,” she said, her laughter fading as she spoke, her voice little more than a whisper now.
“We’ve got a few projects lined up for the future, but we really need more clients if we want to make it through the year.” She sighed then, as if the very idea of securing new clients was simply impossible—and for ReedWorks, it might as well have been.
I glanced around the room one more time, trying to see if there was anyone I knew in the place—anyone who might be willing to buy me a drink or at least slip me a ten without asking any questions in return.
But there wasn’t.
No one else in the room even knew who the hell I was.
I didn’t know why I’d expected anything different.
I glanced back down at the menu, wondering if I could maybe try to get a salad or an appetizer or something—anything that wasn’t quite so expensive but would still be filling enough to get me through the night.
Maybe I could even get a to-go box and bring some home with me.
No one would have to know.
I could just take it out of the fridge when they weren’t around and pretend like it had been there all along.
A twenty-dollar salad wasn’t going to make or break a billion-dollar company, after all.
But then my friends started talking again, and I couldn’t focus on anything but them—not even the prices on the page in front of me.
“We need new clients,” Sarah said from behind me, sighing heavily.
“A few more big names on our roster might help us turn things around.” She paused for a beat then.
“But that’s easier said than done.”
“It’s okay,” I tried to reassure her, even though there was nothing about the situation that was actually okay.
It wasn’t okay that we couldn’t get new clients.
It wasn’t okay that we couldn’t make ends meet.
But there was no way in hell that was going to happen—not when we were ReedWorks.
Not when we’d been struggling for years already.
And we were only getting worse.
“We don’t need new clients anyway.
We can just rebrand as the preeminent VFX company that doesn’t turn a profit.
I’m sure that will take off.”
Sarah laughed again, the sound sweet and sincere in a way that made my heart ache.
“All right then—so what do you suggest?”
I opened my mouth, knowing it would be empty words.
Knowing there was nothing we could actually do—nothing that would actually make a difference.
But before I could give my empty answer, Alex beat me to it: “Well…”
He paused for a beat then.
“I might know a guy or two that would be interested in working with us.
They’re not big names, so they probably won’t pay as much as some of our other clients. But they’re reliable—and they might be able to get us through the rough patch. At least for now.” He paused for a beat.
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Sarah glanced over at him, her eyes wide and curious.
“And then maybe we can see about getting some of those bigger names on our roster again.
We’ve all worked with a few of them before.
I’m sure we could—”
“I don’t want to use our connections that way.”
I didn’t mean to interrupt, but the words fell out of my mouth before I could stop them.
I was trying to keep my tone light, but it was hard—so hard, when every word felt like a nail in my chest.
If they were even willing to help us out in the first place.
But let’s be honest—” I paused for a beat, trying to collect my thoughts.
But it was impossible.
“Let’s be honest,” I repeated, more to myself than anyone else.
It was a wonder they hadn’t kicked me out of their lives yet, not with how much of a drag on them I’d become.
Not with how much of a failure.
“ReedWorks needs more than new clients or a few big names.
ReedWorks needs a miracle.”
“A miracle?”
Alex raised an eyebrow at me, his expression skeptical and unimpressed.
“Come on now, Ollie.
It’s not that bad.”
“Not that bad?”
I laughed then, even though I wanted to cry—even though I probably deserved to, after everything I’d done and everything I was going to have to do.
“Alex, it’s worse than you think.It’s worse than I could have ever imagined.”
“I’m sure it isn’t—”
“It is.” I paused for a beat then, trying to come up with some way to explain that without actually saying it out loud.
Some way to be honest without sounding like I was begging for their help—and maybe even without driving them away in the process.
But there wasn’t any way to do that—not really.
So instead, I just shrugged and forced myself to smile, even though it felt hollow and wrong.
“I’m sure it is,” Alex repeated, his expression still skeptical and unimpressed.
Or maybe he wasn’t skeptical at all.
Maybe he knew exactly what I was going to say—and he didn’t want to hear it any more than I wanted to be the one to say it.
And in that moment, for just one second, I thought about telling him anyway—telling him everything, whether he actually wanted to hear it or not.
Because what did I have to lose?
“Maybe we could talk about this later?”
Sarah interrupted then, her voice sweet and soothing and understanding as she placed a gentle hand on my forearm.
She didn’t have to say anything else—not when her eyes were so bright and soft and kind.
It wasn’t going to be okay—not in the way she seemed to think it could be.
But maybe we could try.
Maybe we could try anyway.
“Sure,” Alex agreed then, his voice more gentle than his expression had been—and somehow, that made things worse.
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“I’ll call you tomorrow, Ollie, okay?”
“Yeah, okay.” I forced myself to smile then, even though it felt so much harder than it should have.
Even though it felt so much harder than it ever had.
And for once, it wasn’t because I was pretending to be happy when I really wasn’t.
For once, it was because pretending to be happy—pretending that everything was okay—was too hard.
Even for me.
Once we left the restaurant, we spent a few minutes walking in silence, all of us lost in our own thoughts.
I watched the people around us—watched them walk past me, completely unaware of what was happening right in front of them.
And for the first time, maybe ever, I envied them.
The truth was that ReedWorks didn’t need another client.
ReedWorks needed to start over from scratch.
ReedWorks needed money—money none of us had.
I’d tried to get a loan at a bank a few months ago, using Sarah’s name as leverage.
But when they saw our books—when they saw what we were working with—they’d laughed in my face.
And it wasn’t like there was anyone else I could ask.
My mother and stepfather were barely scraping by themselves; they’d helped me out more times than I could count, and they couldn’t afford to help me anymore.
And my father… My father was a multimillionaire—probably even a billionaire, if he were being honest with himself.
He could help me—if I asked him to.
But I’d always wanted to be able to make it on my own, to prove myself on my own terms.
And besides, as much money as he had, I knew he wasn’t going to give me any of it—not when he thought I was so irresponsible that he wouldn’t even let me see my little sisters anymore.
So instead, I’d done the only thing I could think of: I’d tried to get us more work, more clients, more money—whatever it took to keep us afloat long enough for us to start making money again.
But no one wanted anything to do with ReedWorks—not with what we’d become, not with what we were working with.
The VFX industry was a fickle one—one that would chew you up and spit you out if you let your guard down for even a second.
And right now, all anyone saw when they looked at ReedWorks was that we’d let our guard down for far too long—far too many times.
If we stood even the slightest chance of recovering from this—if we stood even the slightest chance of surviving—I knew we were going to have to do something big—something impossible.
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I found myself actually considering Sarah’s suggestion, feeling the weight of our situation pressing down on me—smothering me.
Becoming a superhero… Could it actually work?
Could it actually save us?
I shook my head, knowing even as I thought it that it was impossible.
“I can’t just become a superhero.” I said, my voice low.
I held my hand up, forestalling the words that had immediately come to Sarah’s lips.
“I’m not—it’s not possible.
Even if we came up with a superhero who looked like me, sounded like me, did everything I did—I’m not a superhero.
I can’t just become one.
Even if we went out and made a movie about him—”
“Now you’re talking.” Sarah said, her eyes lighting up with an almost manic excitement.
“We could make a movie about him—about you!
And then we could make another movie about him after that!
And another movie after that!”
My stomach twisted as my heart sank; Sarah didn’t even know how deep shit we were in.
But it was too late to tell her now.
“Oh, no.” Sarah said, catching the look on my face.
“Are we in even worse trouble than I thought?”
“Sarah—” I started to say, only to be cut off by Alex.
“Actually, Ollie—” he said, “—I think she might be onto something.”
I frowned at him, not sure what he was suggesting—or why he was suggesting it at all.
“Think about it.” He said, his eyes lighting up with a look that was so similar to Sarah’s that I knew I was screwed.
“Comic books are huge right now.
They’re making movies out of them left and right—tons of movies, actually—and people are loving them.
Why can’t ReedWorks become the visual effects company that brings that last little bit of magic to life?”
I sighed, running my hand through my hair as I tried to figure out what the hell was going on.
Sarah was looking at me with an eager expression; she wanted me to do this—she wanted me to become a superhero—and I knew she didn’t care how impossible it would actually be for me to do that.
And the worst part was, I could see the appeal in it myself: if I became a superhero—a fictional superhero, who didn’t have to worry about money or clients or anything else—I could save my company without having to rely on anyone else.
We could use my VFX expertise to create a superhero so fantastic that everyone in town would want to hire us; we could use the income from those new clients to pay off our debts and get us back on top where we belonged.
And it wasn’t like we even had to do anything illegal in order to make it happen; we could just create a second company—a parent company that no one would know was owned by ReedWorks—that would hire us for all of these other projects that were coming in.
It was almost perfect…