Edition 15: How Far Will You Go by Carl Alves
“Forget about Survivor and American Idol and prepare yourself for the new frontier in reality television. Get ready for the most extreme, insane game show ever. This is Brad Billington, and tonight you will witness television history as our seven contestants risk it all to win the grand prize of five, you heard me, five million dollars. This is the richest prize in game show history, but it will come at a steep price. Join me, America, as we ask our contestants, How Far Will You Go.”
The camera stopped rolling. The television screen streamed bios of the seven contestants for the national audience. After commercials, the cameras rolled live at the set in Burbank, California where Brad Billington stood in front of the contestants. Brad, a former quarterback at USC, was tall, solidly built, and still in good shape. Before going on the set, he had meticulously made sure his face was clean-shaven and flawless, and his head did not have a hair out of place.
“You have met our seven contestants and now we’re ready to find out what they’re made of. Our first contestant is swimsuit model, Mindy Glover.”
Mindy had long, blonde hair and wore a low cut top and white shorts. The guys in the audience voiced their appreciation.
“I don’t know if you’re on the right show. This isn’t America’s search for a supermodel. Are you sure you know what you’re getting yourself into?”
She smiled. “I’m ready.”
“Okay. Let’s bring out our assistant Buzz.” Buzz, a massive bald man with dozens of tattoos, walked out from the side entrance. “Just to remind everybody, our contestants don’t know the challenges beforehand.”
Mindy frowned as Buzz approached her.
“Buzz is a professionally licensed tattoo artist,” Brad said. “Today, he’ll pierce and then insert tongue rings on each of our contestants. Mindy, how far will you go for five million dollars?”
Mindy folded her hands. The audience cheered her on while Buzz prepared his piercing instruments. Brad thought she might bail out, but after a minute passed, she stuck out her tongue. When Buzz pierced her, she let out a stifled scream.
“Stick out that tongue so everybody can see,” Brad said.
Mindy stuck out her bleeding tongue as the audience groaned.
The next three went through without a hitch. Chris Anderson, a male nurse from Bender, Wisconsin was next. He would not move from his place on the bench.
“Don’t be shy,” Brad said. “Step up to the plate.”
Chris crept toward the podium.
“So Chris, you’re a male nurse. What happened, couldn’t get into med school?”
“Uh, sure.” Chris stared at Buzz’s piercing instruments.
“You’re not afraid, are you?”
“Chris, how far will you go?”
He stuck his tongue out, but as Buzz neared him, he pulled away. “I can’t do it.”
“You’re telling me you’re not willing to have your tongue pierced as the first step toward winning five million dollars.”
“No way, that can give you an infection.”
“How pathetic,” Brad said. “Get out of here.”
The audience booed him off the stage.
After the completion of the first round of the competition, the show went to a commercial break. At the start of the next round, a woman brought a pair of clippers on stage.
Mindy Glover groaned. “She’s not going to shave our heads? I’m too pretty for that.”
Brad gave his award-winning smile. This girl was cute but stupid. “Come on, Mindy, do you think we’re mean?”
“I guess not.”
“We’re just going to shave your eyebrows.”
“It’s okay, Mindy, they’ll grow back. So the question is how far will you go?”
“I’ll do it, Brad.”
The crowd roared as the woman with the clippers sheared off Mindy’s eyebrows. Brad handed Mindy a mirror.
She gasped. “Oh no. I look hideous.”
“Next up is Will Thompson, a philosophy major from the University of Delaware. Strangely enough, you enjoyed the tongue piercing.”
“Yeah, cuz. I’ve been meaning to get one.” Will Thompson had curly, light brown hair, five rings in his right ear, two in his eyebrows and one in his lip to complement the new tongue ring.
“Are you ready to get your eyebrows shaved?” asked Brad.
“Yeah, let me take my rings out.”
Brad chuckled. “That would be too easy. They stay on.”
“You gotta be kidding.”
“I’m not kidding. Will Thompson, how far will you go?”
“All right. Let’s do it.” Will yelped in pain when the shaver got caught on one of his rings. “Son of a bitch,” he said when it was over. “That hurt.”
“I think someone needs to call his mommy,” Brad said. “Take a seat next to Mindy. You two can console each other. Folks, no one said this competition was easy, but we’re talking a five million dollar prize.”
After three more contestants finished their stunt, the producer signaled Brad to end the show.
“Well, folks, I hope you enjoyed the first leg of this wild ride. Football’s for wimps. We’re truly going to find out who the toughest person in America is, so join us next week as we find out how far our contestants will go.”
When Brad walked into the network studios the following day, a secretary told him to report to the office of Senior Vice President Geoff Rudich. His heart beat fast and his palms became clammy. Someone that far up the corporate ladder didn’t interact with the talent unless they were big stars. They were going to pull the plug on the show. How Far Will You Go needed sky-high ratings to justify the enormous cash prize given to the winner. The overnight ratings must have been lousy for them to cancel so quickly.
He crept toward the spacious corner office. Brad wasn’t prone to paranoia, but he was certain everyone was staring at him.
He approached Rudich’s personal secretary. She glanced at him. “Mr. Rudich will see you now.”
This was the end of it. His career was over just when it was getting started.
He walked into the office. “Mr. Rudich.”
Rudich rose from his seat and firmly shook his hand. Inside his office, the man seemed less imposing. “I suppose you have already figured out why I called you into my office.”
“Yes, and before you go on, I just want you to give me an opportunity to plead my case. I think…”
“Hold on one second.” Rudich picked up his phone and dialed. “You can bring it in now, Gladys.” He hung up the phone. “As far as making a case, don’t you think it’s a bit greedy to ask for a raise after one episode?”
Brad’s brow furrowed as the secretary stepped into the office carrying a bucket filled with ice and a bottle.
“That will be all, Gladys.” Rudich opened a cabinet door and pulled out two glasses. “I take it you don’t object to Dom Perignon at this hour of the morning.”
“No. Not at all.”
“You seem out of sorts. I figured you would be bouncing off the walls. Surely you’ve seen the overnight ratings.”
“No,” Brad said.
“Well, in that case, it will be my pleasure to be the first to inform you.” He took out a white sheet of paper and handed it to Brad whose eyes nearly popped out.
“This can’t be right.”
Rudich smiled. “Our show debuted as the second-highest rated show this week.”
“I can’t believe it. That’s awesome.” Brad got up from his chair and walked around the office, oblivious of Rudich.
Rudich poured two glasses of champagne.
“Thank you, sir.”
Rudich held out his glass. “A toast to continued success.” They clinked their glasses.
“This is way better than anyone expected,” Brad said. “I just hope we don’t see a drop-off in the ratings.”
“I don’t think we will. The episode was superb. The focus groups loved it. We have a hot property on our hands.”
“Eat your heart out, Ryan Seacrest.” Brad drained his glass.
Will Thompson paced around the waiting room backstage. He contemplated hitting on Mindy Glover, but the swimsuit model was out of his league. Instead he wandered toward Lorraine Chiappardi. “So Lorraine, you hardly seem like the kind of person who would be on this show.”
After peppering her with a number of questions, Lorraine put her book down. “Well, if you have to know, my husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. The insurance company is balking at covering for treatment, so I need this money.”
The room went silent. Will wasn’t expecting anything that deep, especially since his own reasons were so shallow. He turned to Carl Rose, the ex-marine. “What about you, chief?”
Carl eyed him wearily. “Well, I have four kids, and I definitely want to be able to put them through college, but if I win the five million a good chunk of that is going to the Fallen Intrepid Heroes Fund. A lot of good men I served with have come back here from Iraq in bad shape. I’d like to help ’em out if I could.”
Mindy hugged Carl. “I appreciate everything I’ve done.”
“What about you?” Will asked. “You’re a model. Why would you want to do this?”
Mindy gave a blinding smile. “I’ve been doing this modeling for six years and I’m not getting anywhere. I want to be a supermodel. My agent said this show could be my ticket to get what I want.”
Will smirked. “You’re super in my book.”
Homeless Jimmy leaned his head down on the table. “I could sure use a drink.” His motivation was obvious.
“What’s your story, Will?” Lorraine asked.
“Me? I’m a world class slacker. If I win I could drop out of school, surf for a few years and still have a stash of cash left over. Sorry, I don’t have anything quite so noble like you or Carl, but hey, I’m a shallow kind of guy, and damn proud of it.”
The stage manager walked into the waiting room and told the contestants to get on stage. It was show time.
“Welcome to How Far Will You Go. I’m your host Brad Billington. Last week we had tongue piercings and eyebrow shavings, and let me tell you, it’s only getting worse.”
Brad spent the first segment interviewing the contestants. When they came back from the break, a production assistant brought a large, spotted cow onstage.
“Carl Rose, come on up,” Brad said.
“Yes, sir.” Carl Rose, a no-nonsense, rough looking combat veteran, was the odds-on favorite to win this competition on the Bodog web site.
“Carl, meet Betty,” Brad said. “I’m sure you’re wondering why there’s a cow here.”
Carl folded his arms and eyed the cow. “Would you like me to tip it over, sir?”
“No. That would be no problem for someone of your size and strength.” The audience let out a roar of approval as Carl flexed his large biceps. “We’re going to test your resolve.”
A production assistant brought a tray containing glasses filled with yellow liquid. “Betty’s donated this urine and now you six must drink it. You have to empty the entire glass and stick out your tongue when you’re done. Most importantly, if you heave you leave.”
A collective groan came from the competitors.
“I served in Iraq. This should be no problem.”
“All right, chief,” Brad said.
Brad handed the marine a glass of the cow urine. Without hesitation, Carl downed it.
“Easy there, big fella,” Brad said. “So how was it?”
“Slightly salty, sir. Otherwise, it was acceptable.”
After Carl took a seat in the winner’s circle at the right of the stage, Brad said, “Now that is one scary dude.”
The next challenger was Lorraine Chiappardi, the retired school teacher from North Dakota.
“Well, well, well, Lorraine,” Brad said. “Two years ago you were teaching algebra and now you’re drinking cow urine. I’m sure you didn’t think that would happen when you were erasing black boards at Daisley Middle School.”
Lorraine shook her head. “I suppose not.”
“What must your students be thinking now? So Lorraine, how far will you go?”
She took a deep breath and glanced at her family in the audience. Her wrinkled face tightened.
“You seem a bit reluctant.”
Her voice was shaky. “I’ll do it.”
Brad smiled. No way she was go through with it.
Lorraine picked up the glass and put it to her lips before putting it down. The raucous crowd cheered her on. She picked up the glass and took a sip. Her face cringed and she gagged. She put the glass down and waved her left hand frantically by her mouth. “That’s disgusting.”
“Come on, that was a baby sip. Show me what you got.”
Lorraine took a bigger gulp this time. Once more, her gag reflexes went into action and she barely kept the urine from coming back up her throat. She put the glass down and was near tears. Meanwhile, the audience chanted her name.
“I don’t know if I can finish it.”
“You have five million reasons to continue. Down it.”
Lorraine picked up the glass and drank from it, coughing violently. Brad thought she was going to puke, but she held it back. Meanwhile, the audience cheered for her to vomit while Brad urged them on. At last she opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue.
The final contestant was Jasmine Gomez, an overweight telemarketer from Brooklyn. She downed the cow urine only to vomit on Brad’s shoes. Brad wasn’t even pissed. He could afford new shoes.
With twenty minutes remaining in the program, two physically imposing people stood next to Brad Billington.
Brad spoke into the camera. “Meet my assistants. This is Ox. He’s an auto mechanic and the veteran of 120 bar fights. Isn’t that right, Ox?”
“Damn straight. Only lost a few of them.”
“Why don’t you smile for the audience?” Brad asked.
Ox grinned, showing all five teeth he had left.
“That’s a face only a mother can love. To my right is Betsy Elson. Betsy is a mixed martial arts fighter from Long Beach. Now in order to pass this next phase, Ox is going to punch each guy in the gut as hard as he can, and Betsy will do the same for the women.”
The studio audience erupted with applause and chanting.
The swimsuit model trembled.
“What’s wrong, Mindy? I’m sure you’ve gotten into some cat fights before. Rowww.” Brad imitated a cat clawing with his right hand.
“First up is Homeless Jimmy,” Brad said.
Jimmy was a homeless man from Detroit. He had a history of alcoholism. The producers made him agree not to drink during the duration of the show. They had cleaned him up and given him a new wardrobe. Instead of money, they gave him food vouchers to use at local eateries.
“This should be no big deal for you. You’ve probably gotten into some fights in the streets of Detroit.”
“I’ve gotten into my share of scraps.” Homeless Jimmy smiled, showing his missing teeth. “A couple of times people gave me money and booze for fighting.”
“Bet you never got into it with someone who looked like this.” Brad motioned toward Ox.
Homeless Jimmy chuckled. “No way.”
“Are you ready?” Brad asked.
“Sure.” Jimmy closed his eyes. Ox wound up and hit him in the gut. The blow sounded with a thud.
Jimmy grunted and fell back. “Ughh.” He doubled over.
“You okay?” Brad asked.
Homeless Jimmy straightened himself. “I’ll manage. I could use a drink, man.”
“Good job. Go to the winner’s circle.”
Homeless Jimmy limped over. Next Carl Rose, the marine, stood tall as Ox landed a heavy punch to his abdomen.
The audience shuddered as Betsy punched Lorraine, the retired school teacher, in the stomach. Brad went to a commercial as Carl Rose helped a sobbing Lorraine to the winner’s circle.
Will Thompson, the college student with a penchant for body piercings, became the second person to vomit after Ox punched him. With five minutes left in the show, Mindy Glover was left. Panic entered her eyes as she stared at Betsy, who was cracking her knuckles.
Brad smiled. “Oh, Mindy, you’re the last one left. You know what that means.”
Mindy shook her head violently.
“Step on up and meet our friend Betsy. I don’t think she’s fond of swimsuit models.”
“You can’t do this to me. I’m too pretty.”
Brad turned to the audience. “What do you think? Should we give Mindy a pass?” They gave a resounding no. “You heard them. I would’ve let you off, but our audience wants to see Betsy pummel you. What’s it going to be?”
“Can I strip instead?”
The audience roared.
Brad grinned. “An intriguing proposal, but this ain’t Girls Gone Wild.”
“I—I can’t do it.”
“Can’t or won’t? Mindy, how far will you go?”
Mindy stepped forward. “Beautiful people shouldn’t get hit.”
Brad wore a wicked grin. “On this show, we break the rules.”
Mindy stood in front of Betsy Elson. Before Betsy took her shot, Mindy cowered away. “No, don’t do it.”
Brad’s face tightened. “Mindy, we have two minutes left. What’s it going to be?”
“Okay, I’ll do it.” Mindy shook violently. Her long, brown hair flowed to her slim waist and hips. Betsy was going to break her in half.
She let out a scream until Betsy pounded her under her rib cage. She moaned and walked into Brad’s arms.
He held her and smiled at the camera. “Well, that’s all. You’ve seen some pretty hardcore challenges tonight, and it will only get tougher as we ask our contestants, How Far Will You Go.”
Brad emerged from the production meeting full of energy. After two weeks, How Far Will You Go was the number one show on television.
During the meeting, one of the producers, a conservative buttoned down woman, argued that the show was too violent.
Brad nearly threw a fit. “Honey, we ain’t violent enough. We got to turn this up a notch, not tone it down.”
“You’re drunk with power,” the woman said.
“You got a problem, take it to Geoff Rudich. He doesn’t want to mess with the number one show on television.”
They had to ensure that the next episode would be wilder and crazier than the previous one because that was what America expected, and Brad Billington was going to deliver.
At the start of the show, a production assistant brought out a grill, causing the audience to murmur. When Brad opened the lid, the camera focused on five red-hot coals.
“I know you folks out there have been saying I can do the things these guys have been doing,” Brad said. “After tonight, I’m not so sure many of you will make that claim. For our five remaining contestants, this challenge will test their pain thresholds, and as always, how far they will go. A red-hot coal will be pressed into each contestant for thirty seconds.”
“You can’t do that,” Lorraine yelled.
“We’re not making you do anything. Whether you choose to accept this challenge is up to you. We’re just asking you how far will you go?”
The competitors grumbled while the audience cheered.
Carl Rose, the ex-marine, was on stage. The participants were allowed to pick which body part would be burned. Carl chose his back. He took off his shirt, revealing rippling muscles.
“Are you ready, Carl?” Brad asked.
“Give it to me, sir.” During the entire thirty seconds Carl Rose did not utter a sound, standing motionless as his body shook and sweat dripped from his forehead.
“You da man.” Brad slapped his shoulder.
Next up was Mindy. Brad couldn’t believe it when she chose her right arm and withstood the pain from the hot coal. The girl had spunk for a model.
“So, Lorraine, how far will you go?” Brad asked. “It’s do or die time.”
Lorraine Chiappardi stuck out her right arm.
Brad raised his brows. “You’re actually going to do it. I’m impressed.”
“If Mindy can do it, then I can too.” Lorraine screamed the entire time, but after thirty seconds, she still stood.
Will Thompson, the college student, seemed reluctant as he took the stage. “I ain’t big on pain, dude.”
“Those who don’t want 5 million dollars have the luxury of making that statement. You, on the other hand, do not, so pick your body part.”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to get burned anywhere.” The audience voiced their suggestions. “No, I’m not going to let them brand my ass. How about my left calf?”
“Is that your final decision?”
Will shrugged. “I guess.” The production assistant applied the hot coal to his calf, and he screamed like a little girl. Eight seconds later, he pulled away. “Holy shit, that hurts!”
Will limped around stage on his bad leg while the audience chanted derisive comments. He gave them a middle finger salute.
“Since you pulled away before the required thirty seconds, you will have to start over again,” Brad said.
Will scowled. “This sucks.” After a few minutes of pacing, he allowed them to apply the coal to his calf only to pull away seconds later. “Fuck this, I can’t do it.”
“Then get off my stage. No wimps allowed.”
Will walked away to the thundering boos of the audience.
The final competitor was Homeless Jimmy. The bum finished his challenge with no protest.
“We saw some fireworks tonight,” Brad said. “Don’t forget to join us after the show for an online chat with our contestants. Log onto http://www.howfarwillyougo.com. Join us next week, folks, because it’s only getting more out of control.”
As the cameras rolled, the studio audience resembled those normally found at a pro wrestling event or a heavy metal concert. The producers turned away moderate individuals in favor of people who looked like thugs.
“Welcome, America, this is your host Brad Billington. The NCAA might have their final four, but tall men shooting a little ball into a hoop have nothing on our four. They have gone through some sick challenges and they’re ready for more.
“Meet our two special guests. Dr. Eichstadt is a dentist from San Bernadino, California. He’s joined by his lovely assistant. Full disclosure, Dr. Eichstadt’s dental license was revoked through no fault of his own.”
The stage had turned into a makeshift dental office complete with a dentist chair and dental equipment. “Welcome to our little program that we call How Far Will You Go. Tonight we’re increasing the stakes. In order for to advance to the next round, our contestants will have to allow Dr. Eichstadt to remove a tooth of our choosing.”
The audience released a collective gasp.
“Did I mention they won’t receive novocaine?”
Mindy Glover’s face scrunched up. “But how can I model if you take out one of my teeth?”
“After this break we’ll find out if Mindy and the others have what it takes to win the five million.”
During the commercial break as Dr. Eichstadt prepared, Lorraine Chiappardi argued with Brad and a producer. “You can’t do this. It’s inhumane.”
Brad gave his winning smile. “Nobody’s forcing you to do anything. If you don’t want to go through with the challenge, you’ll be eliminated from the competition.”
The retired schoolteacher stomped to the podium.
Suck it up, lady.
After the break, the audience cheered wildly. Carl Rose was up first. The normally stoic marine grimaced as he sat on the dentist’s chair. He growled from the pain as Dr. Eichstadt pulled out Carl’s left premolar quickly and efficiently, not bothering to ask if the marine was in pain, which was evident by the expression on his face. As soon as he extracted the tooth, his assistant applied gauze to stop the bleeding.
The audience was in a feeding frenzy for more blood. The next victim was Mindy Glover. She cried as she approached the dentist chair. “If you take my tooth out, I’ll be like the ugly people. I’m too pretty for this.”
Brad put his arm around her shoulder. “Mindy, you can always get a false tooth that looks as good as new. Call me crazy, but that should be the least of your worries. This is going to hurt like hell. Carl’s a big, bad marine, and he was hurting.”
Mindy frowned, as if this realization just dawned on her. “You’re right. I don’t know if I can do this.”
“Are you sure? If you outlast Carl, Lorraine and Homeless Jimmy, then you stand to make a lot of cash. Not to mention this will do wonders for your modeling career. I can see you right now on the covers of magazine, walking down the Victoria Secret runway. Think about it.”
“I’ll do it.”
“Excellent choice, Mindy.”
Mindy screamed the entire time Dr. Eichstadt extracted her front, right incisor. Twice, the dentist asked if she wanted to continue. Each time she said yes.
The third person to attempt the challenge was Lorraine Chiappardi. As she approached the dentist, her face turned pale. She looked to her husband, daughter and three grandchildren in the audience, who wore grim expressions.
As Dr. Eichstadt began to remove her right canine tooth, she shrieked hysterically. She tapped the dentist’s hand. Her mouth bleeding, Lorraine shouted, “Stop! I can’t do this.”
A loud chorus of boos came from the crowd.
Before going to commercial, Brad said, “Well, we asked the question, how far will you go. Lorraine has just answered that she isn’t willing to go nearly far enough.”
The audience greeted the final contestant, Homeless Jimmy, with a raucous ovation. He was the most popular contestant among the millions of viewers as evidenced by numerous fan web sites dedicated to his exploits.
“Show us those pearly whites,” Brad said.
Homeless Jimmy’s smile revealed numerous missing teeth.
“You’re not giving us a whole lot to choose from.”
“I still got a few good teeth left.” The crowd chanted his name as he waved to his admirers.
“Since you’re a special guy, you can pick the tooth.”
Jimmy put his dirty index finger in his mouth and poked around. “Here’s a good one.” The camera showed a close up shot of his plaque-filled far-left molar.
“Ooh, that’s nasty.”
Homeless Jimmy didn’t complain as they took out his tooth. The producers of the show had given him a chaperone to ensure he did not drink. Just before tonight’s episode, Brad found out that he had bribed his chaperone by offering $50,000 of his winnings in exchange for alcohol. Earlier that day, Jimmy had drained a bottle of Mad Dog and a six-pack of Schlitz and likely felt no pain.
At the conclusion of the episode, the remaining three contestants stood and give a big toothless smile for America.
The show’s most recent ratings far surpassed Brad’s wildest expectations. His only regret was that the show would be ending soon.
In this week’s episode, they were shooting from a car crash test site. The studio audience watched a live feed. The number of people trying to attend in studio had increased exponentially, resulting in security turning away thousands.
Mindy, still missing her tooth, yelled, “You people are crazy! You can’t expect us to smash a car into the wall.”
Brad said, “Actually, you won’t be driving. These vehicles are automated. You’ll be in the passenger side. A crash test dummy will be behind the wheel.”
Carl Rose stood silently with his arms folded.
Homeless Jimmy, still hungover from last night’s drinking binge, smiled and put his arm around Mindy.
She brushed him off. “Get off me, you creep.”
“Well Mindy, as always you will decide if you will do the challenge,” Brad said. “No one’s forcing you to do anything. We’ll find out just how far will you go for the jack.”
Carl Rose was the first to take the challenge.
Brad put his hand on the marine’s shoulder. “Are you ready to crash?”
Carl strapped on his helmet and entered the passenger side of the car. “I hope God sees me through this.”
Brad stared into the camera. “The impact will occur at 60 miles per hour. The contestants will be wearing a seat belt, and the vehicles are equipped with air bags. On site we have three ambulances with emergency medical technicians ready to act in case anyone gets hurt.” On the television monitor a red number ten was next to Carl and the vehicle. “When the clock winds down, the car will drive straight into the wall.”
Dramatic music sounded in the background. When the clock showed zero, the car drove forward and got crunched like a tin can into the wall. Brad gasped as the front of the car indented three feet. EMT’s rushed forward and opened the door. They removed the seat belt and separated Carl from the air bag.
“He’s unconscious,” an EMT yelled.
They put Carl on a stretcher and wheeled him to an ambulance. Brad and the camera crews followed. This footage was priceless.
Brad used his dramatic voice. “This shows the very real nature of How Far Will You Go. These people are willing to risk their very lives for the prize.”
Mindy ran toward the ambulance. “You crazy bastards! There’s no way I’m doing this.”
After the break, the ambulance pulled away. They replayed the crash eight times while Brad provided commentary.
Following the next commercial Brad stared at the camera. “I regret to inform you that Mindy has left the set and has dropped out of the competition. That leaves it up to America’s favorite vagrant, Homeless Jimmy. Jimmy, if you don’t participate, Carl Rose will win the five million dollars.”
Jimmy looked around. “What? You talking to me?”
“How far will you go, Jimmy? Will you risk your life and enter this car?”
Homeless Jimmy shrugged. “Sure, why not.”
He smiled as he put on his helmet and stepped inside. When the clock finished counting down, the car drove and hit the wall with a bone-jarring crash. Once more, EMT’s rushed forward, but Homeless Jimmy exited the vehicle without their assistance. He gave a thumbs up. At the studio, the audience chanted his name.
The Internet was rampant with rumors about the marine’s condition. Some had Carl in a coma. Others reported he had died. The reality was that Carl had suffered a broken left foot and clavicle, in addition to internal bleeding.
When the cameras rolled at the start of the next episode, Brad said, “We are at Lower West Hospital where Carl Rose was admitted after his car crash last week. You’re probably thinking that we’re here to visit Carl and announce that Homeless Jimmy is the winner, but you couldn’t be more wrong. This is the site of our next challenge, and Carl Rose will be competing. Tonight, my friends, we will see how far these two courageous individuals will go. In order to survive this episode, Homeless Jimmy and Carl will have a kidney removed. Their kidneys will be donated to a person in need.” Brad wasn’t sure if this was true. For all he knew, they would sell it in a black market in South America.
“For the first time the challenges are not being seen live. We have taped this segment earlier this afternoon.”
Brad introduced the team of doctors performing the procedures. The camera panned to Carl Rose, whose face looked pale.
“As you are undoubtedly aware, Carl suffered numerous injuries in his car crash. But here he is, ready to give away a kidney in order to win the five million. Carl, America has kept you in their prayers, and we’re all glad to see you here today.”
“I’m just glad I made it out of that car wreck, sir.”
As Brad went over the details of the medical procedure, Carl closed his eyes and lost his balance. As Brad interviewed the chief surgeon, Carl collapsed.
After the commercial break, Brad spoke in front of the camera. “The injuries Carl Rose suffered last week were more serious than initially believed. He’s being treated, and is in stable condition. For obvious reasons, he will not take part in this challenge. That leaves one contestant.”
The camera panned to Homeless Jimmy who wearing the famous smile that had won the hearts of millions.
“Hello, Jimmy. Say hi to America.”
“The five million dollars will be yours, but first you must have your kidney removed. What do you say, Jimmy?”
Homeless Jimmy frowned. “I got two of those, right? Can’t remember if it’s that or the liver.”
“I certainly hope you have more than one kidney.”
Homeless Jimmy shrugged. “In that case, let’s do it.”
Homeless Jimmy’s surgery went horribly wrong. Halfway through, the surgeon ordered the cameras to be shut off. A confrontation nearly occurred between Brad and members of the hospital staff. This was riveting television and he did not want to stop recording. In the end, the hospital security staff forced the cameramen out of the room.
The program concluded with a live shot of Brad Billington in studio. “Join us next week for the exciting conclusion of How Far Will You Go where we will award the five million dollar prize to…somebody.”
Brad had a hellacious week doing as many interviews as he could. Never apologetic, they had promised insane challenges and they delivered. The public approved as evidenced by the show’s ratings.
When Brad entered the stage prior to the live airing of the final episode, the audience gave polite applause. Normally, they cheered wildly, but the latest developments since the last episode created a somber mood.
When the cameras rolled, Brad, dressed in a black suit, spoke in a steady tone. “Welcome to the final episode of How Far Will You Go. Unfortunately, tragedy has struck. The five million-dollar winner should have been James Matthews, affectionately known as Homeless Jimmy. Unfortunately, Homeless Jimmy died after his surgery from internal hemorrhaging. His body was in poor shape and could not handle the procedure. We learned later that Jimmy had a history of alcoholism. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.
“As a result, the winner of the five million should have been Carl Rose, but once more we are saddened because two days ago Carl died from a pulmonary embolism. He never recovered from the car collision. May he rest in peace. According to the show’s guidelines, no surviving person has completed all of their challenges, and therefore there is no grand prize winner. But on behalf of the show’s producers and contestants, I would like to thank you for making How Far Will You Go the most watched television program in the world. Stay tuned as we begin to recruit contestants for our next season.”
Carl went to Boston University majoring in Biomedical Engineering. Carl graduated with a BS degree, and has since worked in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries. He later graduated from Lehigh University with an MBA degree. His debut novel, Two For Eternity, was released in 2011 by Weaving Dreams Publishing. His novel, Blood Street, was released in 2012 by True Grit Publishing. His novel Reconquest: Mother Earth is scheduled to be released in 2014 by Montag Press. His short fiction has appeared in various publications such as Blood Reign Lit, Alien Skin, and Dark Eclipse. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and has attended the Penn Writers Conference. You can visit his website at www.carlalves.com.