[WP] In a new TV game show contestants must jump into a wormhole that drops them into a random point in time where they must survive for longer than the other contestants. You’ve just been dropped in the worst possible place.
I am stood in the Oval Office. I have a gun in my hand. It’s pointing at the President of The United States. Secret Service have their weapons drawn and aimed at me.
How the hell did I get here??
One of TV’s most popular game shows is called “When In The World“. This global phenomenon has run for five series, under different names in different countries and the premise of the game show is simple.
There’s a controllable wormhole that will place six contestants in a random place and point in time. The contestants simply have to survive longer than their fellow competitors to win. By the power of the universe trying to correct the problem, the last remaining contestant is automatically pulled back to the game show studio where they will recount their adventure and, walk – most of the time – away with a prize of one hundred million US dollars.
Due to the active wormhole the TV show is able to follow the contestants on their adventures.
Notable previous contestants have included “Mr Cornelius”, he was dumped in the middle of the French Revolution, “Allen Atson” who is the only contestant to re-materialise in his own body and explode all over the audience, and “Kurt” who was shot by the Stazi.
I had applied to take part in the show on a whim. What did I have to lose? A crappy little one bed apartment, a dead-end cubicle data entry job, no social life, friends, or money. I didn’t even own a TV, living my life on the internet. Ten million quid is a life changer and I really needed that change! Win or Die. That’s how I saw it, either way my job could do one and I wouldn’t be needed the apartment any more.
When I got the call from the production company I had expected a little more notice. They wanted me at the studio at 0800 the next day to prepare for the recording of the show. I would be going through the wormhole at 1407, Tuesday 08 September 2015. They told me there would be lots to sort before the recording started, contracts to sign, psychological evaluations, that sort of thing.
Out of courtesy I told my boss that I needed a day off. I didn’t really care. I would be dead or so bloody rich that he could shove his horrible little job in his horrible little cubicle.
Apparently the psych evaluation is a standard policy since the Bigger Bother incident of 2010 where an inmate lost his “shit” and slaughtered his housemates after failing a house game. The psych evaluation worried me slightly. What would they ask? What would they find? Would they let me participate or would I be destined to die a sad, lonely and broken old man?
It seems I needn’t have worried. The paperwork was all rather mundane. Standard Non-Disclosure agreements, next of kin notification forms for if the worst happened, physical evaluation forms, that sort of thing.
I had taken the train to the studio, a two and a half hour standing in a sweatbox hell on the earliest commuter train I could get. I arrived at the studio with barely a couple of minutes to spare. Getting through security was easy, give them my name and ID and I was through and shown into the building for the studio. I was ushered into a side room where sixteen other people were already seated and waiting instruction Apparently the production company were filming the intro to three episodes on this day, I was in episode two with five other contestants.
Doing some very quick calculations I realised that one person was missing, hopefully they were on a later recording. The first group had already completed their forms and were moved to a different room, presumably for their physical and psychological exams.
Nobody spoke. Lots of eye contact but the nervousness in the room was overbearing. I needed to speak, break the silence.
I looked at the person next to me, a tall and slim woman in her mid twenties.
“Morning!” I said. “Are you excited?”
She looked at me, her face giving no indication of feelings, excitement or nervousness. She held my gaze for a few seconds and looked away again.
An official looking man carrying a clipboard entered the room. You know those harassed assistants you see on TV where the show is about the making of the show? Those people that have the headset and mic round their neck, normally stressed, sweaty and rushing far too much? Yeah? He didn’t look at all like that. If he was any more relaxed he would be asleep.
“Ladies and gentlemen” he said with some authority, “I need the following people to come with me please. Dannaugh, Finch, Clumperton, Brown, Masterton, Bailey stand and come with me.”
Five of us stood and moved to him. At his instruction we introduced ourselves. Dannaugh wasn’t there.
“Folks, I’m Andy, the Second Assistant’s Assistant Gofer. you’re in the second recording. I believe you all have your Drop Times, come with me and we will get the paperwork done and get you into your phys and psych evals.”
As we left the first room we followed Andy down a corridor. I could hear theme music from the show echoing in the distance. I guess that the first group were through already and their show was starting.
Andy opened a door and ushered us through. Six people were waiting for us, each in their own area with a desk, a medical bed and a sofa. I will spare you the sordid details of the session, but, I am sure that my farts were silent for a good six hours after the physical and the psych evaluation was nothing more than reading the form I had filled in, the assessor ticking a couple of boxes and then pushing me out of the area. During my examination there was a loud bang and a thud from elsewhere in the room. My assessor didn’t pause, blink, or even twitch at the sound. Kind of weird, but, this was a completely alien experience for me so it’s possible that that sort of thing was completely normal.
Andy the Assistant’s Assistant pointed silently at another door. I went through and there were three of the other four in yet another area. Andy followed me through.
“Right, that’s phys and psych done. Clumperton failed the exam and won’t be joining us. He and Dannaugh will be replaced and the two replacements will join you before you begin.” So, was that what the bang and thud was? Clumperton failed the exam so they shot him? Nah, surely not. Right? Andy continued.
“I must ask for complete silence from here on in. Please do not interact with your fellow competitors, we find that it spoils the experience when you’re recording.”
We didn’t wait long, maybe a couple of minutes. A second assistant, this one looking slightly more bedraggled, to open yet another door and with her finger to her lip she beckoned to us with her other hand. We followed, not just me admiring the short but very well toned rear view that we were afforded. She walked a little way and pointed to some seating. With another gesture we got the idea we had to sit.
I took the opportunity to look at my surroundings and suddenly realised that we were facing the set. Six podiums, spaced in an arc around a central platform, TV cameras all over the place. In front, behind, above, below, there was even a camera floating silently mid-set.
It occurs to me that you may not know the format for the show. To save time later I will explain now.
The show is presented by Damien Darrt, six four, dark hair, very well toned body, winning smile, husky voice, slick style. Universally accepted as being a complete arsehole, drama queen and heroin addict.
The show starts with six people, one at each podium. The platform in the centre of the stage contains the black-hole. The technology that contains the black hole is beyond me so I will not attempt to explain. Everyone who has seen the show will know that the primary characteristic of the black hole is the woomph-woomph-woomph noise it permanently makes. You can’t hear it, but you do feel it, much like the sub bass from an electronic dance music track.
Damien does the typical presenter thing, introduces himself, shares a joke with the audience, introduces the contestants while attempting to belittle them with his responses. He then introduces what’s going to happen, how each contestant will choose any tools or weapons they may wish to take with them and then simply jump into the black hole with no idea of when or where they will land. The contestants have no idea how well they are doing in the game until they are drawn back to the studio. At that point they know they have won.
I am sure that most people will know the basics of how a TV show works so for the sake of brevity I will not insult you by attempting to explain.
End of Part 1. Part 2 is available here.