Mind Under Matter

Writer. Filmmaker.
That guy you met at that bar once who doesn't recognize you.

"And Finally The News",
the award winning comedy news series directed and founded in 2013 by John Amaruso enters its fourth season on Youtube this summer!

Meshing elements of SNL's punchline punches of "Weekend Update" and the insightful satire of "The Daily Show", " And Finally The News " has brought together dozens of actors and political commentators to skewer the week's top headlines.

"Dead Men"
is the debut feature short film written by John Amaruso and directed by Rob Martin.

Their partnership under A&M Films continues to produce films for the big, and small screen.

Featured Short Story

"Highland's Apparition"

On their way up the summit of Mount Highland, she hopped and skipped, showing off the heels of her faux-fur covered boots. Transforming the winter whipped slopes to her own personal playground, Jared watched on in agony. She jumped from rock to rock, a game of hopscotch on one of the deadliest hikes in the world. He wouldn't make that mistake.

“Jared! Come on!” she shouted from up the slope. “At this rate, we'll hit the peak by next summer!”

“Coming!” The mountain echoed back to Jared. He could see the tops of every peak. The sloping dives and cavernous valleys, nature's greatest blockades. Towers of rock and earth scraping the gray blanket sky. Overwhelmed, Jared's chest tightened, ice cold daggers lodged in his sternum. She promised the place they were going would be well worth it, the view along the way to die for. It was perfect. Everything he ever asked for. A bounty. How the riches and fortune set aside for those who had been up this path would outlast his anguish. This she said.

Just keep pushing. Keep moving. Up and up. He only had himself to blame. And while the view was something to marvel at, he couldn't shake the dread. This journey would be more aches than pleasure. He would do this to himself. He would expect the worst. It was always the worst.

Just keep pushing he would tell himself.

“Where is it we're going again?!”

Just keep moving.

“Follow me, c'mon!” she waved a mitten hand at him. Hopping from jagged rock to jagged rock, Jared cringed. To anyone who gazed at the tiny girl prancing about, up and up the one of the tallest mountains in the world, they would think how effortless in absence was her stagger. Not Jared though – he cringed. He thought she looked silly.

He couldn't understand how climbing up a steep mountain was that big of a deal. More so, to do it in designer footwear. How the jeans stitched and remained neatly pressed around her calves and thighs. The puff of her jacket light and fitting. The curls of her hair waved in thick locks and pin-tight spirals, like the hanging vines of a tree under a hot July sun. A charade in the face of bitter cold. How ridiculous it was.

“It's not too far from here!” she shouted back. Jared was panting. What the wind had picked up at their altitude of three and a half kilometers it took from the ground beneath their feet, slimming the path with his every stagger.

“I don't think you're nervous enough.” Jared said. “This shit is terrifying...”

“You're such a baby.” she said, squeezing the meat of her cheeks between two long locks of jet black hair curling to the jugular of her throat.

“Baby baby baby!” she squealed back, sticking her blood red tongue from her pressed lips.

There wasn't a flash of a smile or a whimper of a giggle or a prance of a turn around that could make him forget the earth around him. It smelled of pine left in a freezer, burning his nostrils with every breath. The whipping wind of winter, thick and heavy like the smack of a boxing glove repetitively clubbing his face and eyes. Beads of sweat froze on hair's end. His arms tingled, his jacket tight and uncomfortable, a persistent dread. Nothing like persistent dread when -

- Fuck.

Jared was reminded what the Earth and its grounded plane was made of. A half kilometer up and his leg cramped. The cold. The biting frost. The whipping winds whistling through his bones. They ripped from nowhere, paralyzed the spirit in his chest. It had come to take him. But first, his leg.

“C'mon!” her voice trailed off into the sky. Advancing another quarter kilometer up, she was gaining speed.

“Wait!” the mountain echoed. He wanted to scream but could only imagine what the Earth had in store for him. Ravenous mountain creatures. A dip in climate. A football field sized avalanche. Anything could come crashing down, anything, because wherever Jared was it was always the worst. The worst of what could be out there. Off to the other side of this mountain was the best his closed eyes could picture, the least his hope would stomach.

He removed his mittens and pulled up the pant of his leg, massaging the muscle of his calf. He gripped at the hook in his muscle, the taut rope, dry and brittle under many layers of skin and tissue. He only had himself to blame. He was not prepared. And to make matters worse, she was ascending. Up and up, further and further. Then, she was out of sight.

He dug at his clipped wing. He hoped it would take him high up the slope, far away from the grounded plane in the face of one of the world's tallest mountains, all against the brutality of whipping winds and hypothetical catastrophe. And the further up she went, the more distant she grew, the more the shrinking of her perfect figure slimmed to nothing more than an apparition in the fog and winds of the Highlands. The smell of pine in a freezer.

Jared dug hard. He pulled and pulled and grunted at his tender leg. The cramp had eased but his spirit had not. It groaned and ached. It curled at the idea of going on. Moving further.

But what a wondrous valley. Dozens if not thousands had gone up these very mountains and slopes, the same him and her were climbing, and many of those collapsed. Right where he did. How marvelous. Never to be seen or heard again. Sometimes, their partner would survive, hurdling higher and higher, up and up, And sometimes, toward the peak of the Highlands, the surviving partner would look back, look down on what they left behind. They would say 'good riddance'. They would get to the other side, nothing more than the bat of an eye.

It was comforting to think. Some stronger than him had died too. Right where he sat.

These thoughts were carnivorous. Black holes in the sides of the universe, ripping and tearing at the fabric of everything close enough to be magnetized into its mighty attraction. What a woe it must be to live in horror of the inevitable. Persistent dread.

There was the voice that kicked his leg up, planted his boot into the powdered snow and up the slope of Mount Highland. A ringing sound in his ear as his gloved hands grasped at ledges slicked in the silent winds of winter. It wouldn't stop giggling, wouldn't stop tormenting him until he got to the top, got to where she promised him they would get to if he just kept pushing, kept moving, kept going, kept on keeping on.

It was at the peak where Jared's arm swung up and landed on the first ledge wider than a book shelf. It patted around, dug into the rock for a groove to pull himself onto. His boot slipped on the jag of another rock and when a fall seemed imminent, the hypothetical catastrophe swelling, he felt his chest burst with pride, his blood run with shards of glass. He kicked his knee up against the side of the cliff. A heave of his entire torso and he latched an arm around the ledge.

On the peak of Mount Highland Jared dragged his body to the first plane large enough to lay across. He planted his face into the snow. Powder from the ground shot about from his heavy breathe. It was well worth the wait
Atop the peak the first thing Jared saw was the shallow entrance of a cave, illuminated in a glowing aura of blue and white as though the icy heart of Mount Highland itself were beating below. Pulsating, the light grew from the dull shimmer of a waning moon to the luminescence of a brightly lit ballroom. It was as magnificent as it was unbelievable. And all the same, it was not the worst he expected.

Treading lightly into the cave, it was warm enough inside to remove the ski mask from his face. He felt the whipping winds of silent winter fall to his back. The walls of the cave were smooth, wrapped in a sheet of ice stretching as wide as the mountain itself. The buzzing warmth of the cave insulated from the biting winds touched his cheeks. The sweet mesquite of burning wood, he pulled the mittens from his hands finger by finger, basking in a glow he hadn't felt since he started this journey God knows how long ago.

He had done nothing less than forgotten all about her. There was no sign of her anywhere. All that lay under the pulsing light, the shimmering walls of ice and frost was a corpse. Dead and mutilated, fleshless and missing all its organs, it laid frozen, silenced by whipping winds. It was frozen, petrified in a fetal position. It smelled of dead roses and sap-covered thornes. In its heart, the cave's light pulsated up and through its chest. Its spirit shocked, fossilized in its cavity. Ahead of it to the North was the other side of the mountain. Its trek down smooth, pregnable.

The next time he crossed Mount Highland he could tell himself what to do to get up and over the other side. He wouldn't make the mistake of thinking it would be easy. He wouldn't pretend. He would always expect the worst. He would live in persistent dread because of course, there would always be suffering. There would always be sweat, there would be loss and there would be catastrophe, but up and over the skeletons of misfortune would be the rest of his life, waiting out his anguish.

Upon the discovery of his bounty, the view of riches and fortune, he trekked down the other side of that mountain, remembering what he was promised, giving nothing more than the bat of an eye.