Reality Check

3 min


12

“Welcome to Colosseum, the big daddy of all reality shows, where the show goes on, no matter what,” declares the host with flair. 

“Here’s a short introduction to the show. The contestant of this game will stay in a log cabin, alone, in the middle of nowhere. His every move will be telecast live for the next 60 hours. No filters, no edits. He will be given tasks to perform in order to win the prize money,  which will be handedover to him only on completion of his 60 hours stay.”  

The host pauses for the applause track to die before continuing.

“The bets will open precisely at 9 pm tonight. You can place it individually on each challenge or on the combined outcome. To know the odds and place your bets, call this toll-free number or log on to our social media handles.”

“Today’s contestant is Isaac Arputham, a 32-years-old bus driver by profession.”

We see a well-built man with a wide smile, sitting inside a claustrophobic cabin. The screen splits to show his family members huddled around the TV watching him. His daughter and wife surrounded by his well-wishers cheer into the camera for the audience. However, Isaac can see only the host on his TV.  Disclaimer and fine prints are zapped for a second. 

With the host thumping the countdown knob, the game begins.  

Night 1

The host informs us that the temperature of the cabin, which is 24°c, will be increased slowly to reach 45°c. The audience can enjoy watching its effects on Isaac and start placing bets on the outcome, he adds. 

For the next few hours, we see Isaac turning restless, breaking into a sweat, and vainly trying to open the jammed window and door. Sometime during the night, we notice his eyes starting to glaze over as he sits in the sweltering cabin listlessly.

Day 1

“Congrats, Isaac,” the host’s voice booms at 9 am and startle Isaac, now sleeping slouched on the chair facing the camera, dribble crusted around his mouth. The normal room temperature has been restored.  

“You have successfully gone through baptism by fire,” the host guffaws. Isaac licks his parched lips. “An hour for the next challenge. Be ready,” the host informs as the camera continues to live-stream his morning routine behind the frosted restroom door.

Isaac sits shirtless facing the TV, a box on his lap. He puts his hand inside it and retrieves a few thick scaled centipedes, 3 inches long. We see his face contort in disgust.  Isaac holds the creatures to the camera. With an effort, he places them on his shoulder. He squirms as they climb down his torso. We watch his hand flex as they crawl down his thighs. Suddenly, one turns around and slithers towards the hem of his shorts.  We hear Isaac scream, jump up and swat the centipedes away. He lost this round of the game. 

“So near, Isaac, so near,” the host informs. “Inches away from getting your prize money doubled and you lost. You are not supposed to shake them off. Please continue to take your antihistamine tablets as suggested by our doctors.”

Night 2

“Do you know your prize money dipped by 10% today after you failed in the last challenge?” The host accuses Isaac and does not wait for him to answer. “However, you can salvage it by accepting the next challenge. You must inject yourself with the truth serum found in the cabinet below the TV. Necessary supplies in there, too.”

Isaac loads the yellow liquid, just as he is being instructed by the nurse on the TV. Anxiously, he clumps the muscles on his thighs and injects himself. We see the liquid disappear into him. The audience is told that the serum is a placebo and no way harmful to Isaac, but he does not know that. We are encouraged to bet on his behavioural changes. 

We notice Isaac becoming edgy as the hours go by. He jumps out of his skin at the slightest stimuli like flashing lights. A sudden crack of thunder is simulated inside the cabin and he screams in horror like a child. After the laugh track dies down, Isaac is asked to sit in front of the camera. 

“What’s the worse secret you have, Isaac?” the host asks, almost cajolingly.

Isaac twitches. We see his lips shivering.

After a few minutes, he blurts out, “I like men.”

“What?” 

“I have relationships with men.” It looks like Isaac cannot control himself. 

“Oh, Isaac. What shattering news this can be to your wife and daughter,” The host shakes his head disapprovingly.   

Day 2

Isaac sits in front of the TV. He hangs his head down. The host blinks to life and announces cheerily that Isaac has broken the previous record of betting on a single night thanks to his scandalous confessions. He adds that the serum was only normal saline, a placebo and that he has made a fool of himself. A laugh track of 30 seconds follows the host’s revelation. The camera zooms in on the face of Isaac, who looks defeated.  Innocent challenges, like jamming the restroom door, are telecast throughout the day. 

Night 3

“It is already midnight. Just six more hours for you to get rich. How do you feel?” 

A resigned smile crosses Isaac’s face. 

“So, are you looking forward to meeting your family after these 60 hours?”

We see Isaac turning uncomfortable, almost blue. We see him wince in pain and his left arm jerks awkwardly. A side of his face goes limp and we see him wet his pants. By the time, the medical crew barges in, we see Isaac on the floor juddering helplessly. The episode is over before time.

**** 

A few days later…

“Welcome to Colosseum, the Big Daddy of all reality shows, where the show goes on, no matter what,” announces the host.  

*****


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Delta

The author wishes to write like J M Coetzee, cook like Nigella Lawson and earn like Beyonce and at the end of the day, not look like something the cat dragged in. If wishes were horses...

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