Last Chance | Teen Ink

Last Chance

November 24, 2013
By AlexanderQ GOLD, Oak Creek, Colorado
AlexanderQ GOLD, Oak Creek, Colorado
12 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Last Chance

This one begins like any other. They all line up before me, row upon row in front of my elevated throne. 55 nameless faces, most contorted with fear and anxiety and anticipation. I track down the brave ones, the courageous ones. Out of these rare number, we eventually find our victor, all the others simply participating to quench the thirst of the viewers. Bound to the excitement for our twisted lust for death and the aching, sadistic, unattainable hankering for blood, we are slaves to the show, watching year in and year out to indulge our inner monsters.

Last Chance, I call it. This thrilling, captivating, disturbing, gruesomely entertaining competition takes place each year and captures a higher amount of viewers than any other public broadcast in the country. When I created this show fifteen years ago, prisons were overflowing with criminals and losing money at a substantial rate. I was paid to deal with the scum of society in a way that would bring in a considerable amount of revenue. Thus, Last Chance was born and I became the star host of the most loved and most evil show in America. Everyone likes a thrill now and then; even better, when it’s all at someone else’s expense. The still roaring crowd slips me back to the present. Show time.

“Gentlemen! I am pleased to announce the beginning of this year’s Last Chance!!! Allow me to introduce this year’s competitors.” My haunting voice reverberates through the gigantic speakers, filling the void of the abandoned football stadium turned slaughter house.

The audience stomps and hollers and bellows, screaming obscenities at the contestants on the floor, pumping their fists in enthusiasm. I grin inwardly and contain myself. I’m as excited as the commoners. “Without further ado, let’s begin the initiation.”

The stands quiet to a incessant murmur as men bet amongst each other who out of the stock before them appears most promising. “As you all know, the initiation selects and brings forth our five commanders for the competition. A series of short challenges await the group. The first five to complete all of the tasks correctly will be crowned as this season’s commanders. Initiation begins NOW!”

The contestants are greeted on the lawn by a flock of evaluators. A sequence of aptitude tests and physical sessions follow. Nothing too exciting. No interactions between contenders. No blood. No death. Not yet. This is always my least favorite part of the show.

I find my eyes meandering to the rest of the stadium. My beloved sanctuary was renovated to a point where the stadium could hold around five football fields. Tremendous projection screens space themselves evenly through out for the easier viewing pleasure of our crowd. Soon enough, the first task will commence in the arena to my left. A vast area comprised of a living forest peaking up to the top of a steep hill. Probably one of my finer creations throughout the show.

“I am proud to declare our five commanders!” As the noise level rockets, I scrutinize each individual. A couple of the chosen appear dull and dumb, but forceful enough to maybe gain respect and subservience from their followers. The middle one literally froths at the mouth, rabid with violence. I doubt he’ll last too long. The next stands several feet away, eyeing his dangerous competitors with disgust and loathing. He crosses his arms and meets my eyes. They’re cold and menacing, but he’s not a ignorant killer like the one before him. He absorbs everything around him, each move he makes is specifically designed. His legs shake, however, from nerves and anxiety. I pin him as weak, and silently make this clear to him. He swallows and withdraws. Not so arrogant now, I smirk.

The last man refuses to glance at me. He stares into the distance at a spot above my head. He’s not only trying to appear superior to myself and the others, he’s genuinely convinced that he is. This should be interesting. His set jaw sends forth waves of determination. His sunken, calculating eyes slice through the dank air, challenging someone to approach him. This makes up for his slight build and short stature. Something about his posture indicates intelligence. We may have a worthy winner on our hands. Don’t let me down.

“Time for our leaders to pick their teams. Choose wisely. These members will be your team for the first two challenges. The winner of the initiation sequence will have first choice then, each commander in descending order from there.”

The short man steps forward. Of course he won the initiation. Without a moment’s hesitation, he selects the skinniest, weakest, most scared man from the bundle. The crowd gasps in confusion. My hopes crumble. For once, I thought I had a decent, intelligent individual to support. His motions do not waver as he welcomes his teammate. He is foolishly confident. The second boy steps forward next, the arrogant one. He glares at the first commander, who nods back coolly.

The selection continues until each team holds ten contestants under one commander. The spectators whisper furiously. I expect about the first man’s team. Scrawny, terrified boys, years younger than the commander, throng around their elder. He stands unyieldingly, relaxed but rigid. I nod subtly my respects to the man. His mouth curves into a crooked, compact smile. I wish he could stay around longer, but his team will hinder that. Clearing my throat, I launch into the first challenge.

“The first challenge embodies both physical talents and strategical techniques in a rendition on the favorite childhood game, capture the flag.” The perverted distortion of it all accounts for the snag in my breath before I continue.

“Each team will be placed equidistance from the center of the arena where the ultimate goal is located: the flag. Whichever team reaches and apprehends the flag first wins the competition. The only rules are that there are no rules. The first challenge begins in five minutes.”

The teams disband and change into color coordinated uniforms. This is usually the part where I rock on the edge of my chair, eager beyond words for action. This time something’s off. My heart continues its dull rhythmic hum. My throat dries uncomfortably. No weapons are provided to kill opponents, but they never cease to be interestingly creative either. Stick transform into spears and daggers, rocks into tools for bludgeoning, dead team members into shields.

Before I know it, the gory game of capture the flag commences. The yellow and green teams, both commanded by the imbecile thugs, surge forward into the forest, already at each other’s throats. A colossal man, bulging with muscle, repeatedly slams his minuscule adversary into a rock. The exploding of his backbone echoes softly against the trees. My hands twitch and clench. What’s happening to me? I shift my attention elsewhere to my favorite commander, and his team clad in blue.

They prowl forward in absolute silence watching the fighting unfold before them as the teams hit the bottleneck opening that marks the ascent to the summit. The red team, directed by the pompous, second place commander, storms right past Blue Commander and still Blue signals his army to wait in silence. What’s he playing at?

He sidles off to the side with an athletic, darker skinned boy. They converse, crouched in the bushes, and then, the boy sprints forward on his hands and feet, maneuvering perfectly through the undergrowth, unseen and unheard. The creepy resemblance of a four legged spider seizes my attention while the crowd leans forward trying to get a better view of the action. I’m even momentarily distracted from the pools of blood now steadily forming like popsicles melting on a sun blazing day, leaving only the lifeless, stick body behind.

Outside my narrowed field of vision, the Red Commander has hustled his way through the horde of battling contestants and scaled the slope. He’s within sight of the flag when the blue-clothed boy springs into the clearing and snatches the prize above his head, hollering in his victory. Red lunges for the boy, but halts mid-step. Smart decision. If he were to attack after the conclusion of the game, he would be eliminated immediately. He’s rash, but he’s definitely not foolish. And now he craves revenge more than ever. Blue Commander better watch his back.

I report the outcome of the event and take in the death toll. One lost from yellow, the man on the rock. Two lost from the green and orange teams each. One lost from Red, and not even a single scratch on any of Blue’s soldiers. I’m impressed. He pulled it off. His team’s not gone. Not yet.

“The next challenge will begin in 10 minutes. It is a task of mental capability, problem solving and logical reasoning. Teams are advised to utilize this time to prepare and find each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Good luck to each team! Ten minutes begin now!”

I settle into my chair, folding my cloak around me as the replays from the opening match replay on the screens. Shuddering at the narrations of the crowd, I survey the happenings below.
Each team huddles in a circle around their commander. The yellow and green teams sit at opposite corners of the room, each in the same fashion. Both leaders shoot glancing daggers towards Blue. They’re conspiring against you, Blue. Do you notice?

Orange Commander places his team at the foot of the staircase leading up to my podium. He’s crying out orders and complaints to his remaining eight members. They clutch their limbs to themselves, not moving, eyes empty and pained, like an emaciated horse, resigned in the slaughter chute.

I wish Orange would move. I can’t hear anything from Blue or Red’s team due to his incessant, ineffective howls. The two teams have situated themselves a fair distance apart. Blue and Red proved themselves to be far better commanders than any of the other buffoons on this show. It will definitely come down to the two of them.

Blue leans back stoically on his hands and speaks eagerly with his group. They beam up at him in admiration, or maybe fear. Either way they respect him immensely. I observe that every now and then, Blue flicks his eyes up to me, as if asking for my approval. I can’t get attached. He has already absorbed me into his world; I feel lost in his tactics and the calm way he handles this disturbed situation. I pry my eyes away from his deep, rich ones and monitor Red.

He’s tracing a diagram in the air as his team of muscled competitors nod fervently. Red’s cunning and intuitive despite his sometimes reckless temper. He measures up to Blue, not flawlessly, but enough to be a potentially harmful competitor. Watch him too, Blue. He’s sneaky. The second you think he’s one step behind you, he’s actually one step ahead and that’s just how he likes it.

Before too long, the participants are called back to the front of my staircase. Their eyes flit timidly to the various enclosures surrounding them on all sides bearing hints to the challenges that await them in the near future.

I rise to my podium. My hands chill and sweat. I wipe them hastily on my sides before clasping the microphone. I clear my throat and compel my eyes to not linger on the contestants.

Over the next few hours, the competitors engage in an extensive range of trials. Battles of wit and intelligence swiftly follow brutal melees. Each team appears to have a category of test that they succeed in more often. Each team except for Blue. He guides his team members through each set of tasks with minimal causalities and an intense ability to judge a situation. He retreats from impossible fights, avoids interaction with other teams and lays low the entire show. This is most likely where the crowd’s disapproval and animosity towards Blue stems from. He doesn’t satisfy the audience’s craving for action.

At long last, the final challenge looms around the corner. The remaining six contestants hunch before me. Blood trickles down each of their faces, coursing over their lips, staining their chests. The tasking, gruesome challenges that propelled them to this stage in the competition are etched uniquely in each individual’s face. In Red, the death and pain hollow his cheekbones, quiver his lip, flicker his eyelids. A once powerful, daunting man reduced to the status of a trembling antelope as the lion crouches on its haunches for the final kill. Blue, my dear friend, shifts his weight between his legs. His firm, superior stance now exchanged for bowed shoulders, clenched fists, a grinding jaw. His despondent eyes drill holes through his feet, lifeless and empty. My breathing comes in short bursts at present, my lungs’ futile attempt to retain pace with my racing heart. I clench my chest for fear of its eruption.

“At this point in Last Chance, the teams are disbanded. Every man competes for himself from now on. You’ll all be placed into a maze with puzzles you can solve to find shortcuts to different areas and tools you can use for...other things. The objective of this final task is to find one of the two keys planted within the maze. Find one of these and you will be immediately pulled from the maze. Out of the two finalists, the audience then decides the winner by popular vote. Keep that in mind. Also, remember what the victor wins. Now there’s some motivation!” The crowd roars and cheers for their favorites as the competitors trudge to the last arena in the stadium.

Watching the final task is wretchedly unbearable. Each man travels with a sense of urgency in a frenzied search for the objects that may grant them freedom from this hell. Contestants clash in the corridors and continue on their paths, footsteps tracking a sickeningly bright red. I shy away at the conflicts that evoke applause and uproars from the grand stands. I view and announce the happenings out of habit only. To think I ever found pleasure in this churns my insides.

My eyes trail Blue as he steers himself away from the loud scuffles of his opponents. He sneaks down aisle passage after passage, leaving behind no sign of his presence save for a hardly noticeable marking on the walls. He’s a genius. A wake of so called breadcrumbs to mark where he’s already been.

I allow my mind to focus on the other men in the maze for merely a second, and a buzzer slices through the room. Blue has found the first key and is being swiftly led from the maze to the stage below me. I jump to my feet to pronounce Blue as the first finalist of the show. To my utter horror, the crowd displays little reaction. Blue seems not to care, but as I lower back into my seat, my whole body seizes. Blue will not win by popular vote. Blue will lose. Blue will die. My throat clenches and I want to reach out to him to say something, but I can’t. I’m on live television. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. He collapses onto the floor, exhausted, emotionally drained, beaten, lifeless. He wraps his arms around his fragile skeleton. And I wish there was something I could do or say to let him know it would be okay. That I wasn’t going to let him lose.

Within several minutes, the buzzer rings again, and this time another boy is led out. He’s limping, staggering, struggling to make it to the stage. The crowd explodes into a raucous uproar of noise as he eventually comes to a halt.

It’s Red. He stands proud and tall before his fans, but he won’t be standing for much longer. Dark blood spurts from his exposed rib bones like ketchup from a bottle. Already, a pool has formed around him like a sickly halo. His skin whitens with every passing second.

“May I present to you the final contestants!” I bellow with false enthusiasm. Once again, the crowd meets my words with ferocious cheers. “Please cast your final votes.”

The men in the stands tap the portable devices in their hands. Moments later, the votes are counted. My cloak sweeps behind me as I descend the bone ivory steps. This is the closest I’ve been to Blue. I yearn to reach out to him, to comfort him, as I read the name of the victor. My voice moves slowly as if drowned in honey.

“The winner is...” I pause for effect although none is needed. “Red.”

What happens next is a hectic blur. Red keels over with a splash in his own blood. The light recedes from his eyes and in that moment, there’s one less person in the world. I stand, in absolute shock, blood droplets spattered along the bottom of my cape. For a fraction of time, everything is silent. I paw through all the rules of the games in my head, desperate for the solution, before realizing there isn’t one. Out of all the scenarios I planned for this had not been one of them. The audience leans forward in anticipation of my decision.

“I...I...” I stammer. Blood courses through my veins at breakneck pace. “I pronounce the winner to be Blue.”

Of course, this was the only logical solution. How could I declare the victor to be a dead man resting in his own blood? All eyes are on me, searing holes through my clothes. Even Blue gapes up at me in astonishment, the empty pits regaining their vibrance.

The crowd begins to give sound back to the vacant air. Dull at first, out of confusion alone, then, steadily climbing and building. Suddenly, like a water balloon smacking against concrete, a flood of total pandemonium sweeps the stadium. Profanity, jeers, and even objects are lobbed in my direction as if the victor’s death is on my own hands. People rise in the stands and, like a tidal wave surging forward, leap down onto the fields and barrel straight towards us.

Acting on an adrenaline-fueled impulse, I tug Blue behind me and drag him around the back of the stage and into the network of underground passageways beneath the stadium. The ceaseless beating of hundreds of feet mingles with my pulsating heart becoming one and the same, driving me onward. I have one goal lodged in my mind. I must get Blue out. As if by saving his life, I will redeem my own murderous past and finally be relieved of the burden of this atrocious show. Now, it’s only a matter of time before the stampede catches us in the labyrinth of passages.

I decelerate to a stop and grab Blue by the shoulders. I have to make him abandon me. I only impede him from escaping faster. It would be foolish to ask him to help me. I lose myself in his eyes, far more intelligent, more wise, more clever than my own. In the greatest respects, I bow my head to him.

“Go straight. Don’t stop running.” I whisper. Blue hesitates. I shove him forward. “Go. Now.” He turns, runs, sprints for his life.

My eyes stay locked on his last fading image. The crowd is mere moments away, but I barely notice. My mind is as still as the vigilant predator. Peace has settled on me like Death’s veil. Now here comes the kiss.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.