Price Of Love

  • 06 Oct - 12 Oct, 2018
  • Nadeem Alam
  • Fiction

Big Bang was a weekly game show and its host was notorious to do something outrageous, spectacular and thrilling every week. The show had continued for almost 10 years but it was now getting monotonous. To bring back the viewership and boost its rating, producers of the show promised the next one to be astonishing, mind-blowing and breathtaking. This week, a large crowd was gathered in a small town stadium to witness the game of Russian roulette and there were several million viewers watching it live on their television sets worldwide.

Selection of the show’s venue was done carefully to avoid intricate legal issues in the big cities. The game selected for the show this week was Russian roulette.

In the actual game of Russian roulette, a person would load a bullet in one chamber of a revolver, then spin the cylinder and finally pull the trigger while pointing the gun on their head. It is a lethal game of chance where a player bets his life to try his luck.

But in the Big Bang show, instead of a real gun, a digital revolver was to be used. The game was to be played between contestants selected from the crowd by the host himself. The players who are shot digitally would get eliminated. The last person standing would be asked to play a solo game and win huge prize money with each pull of trigger with an opportunity to walk away at any time with the win.

The stadium was filled with all sorts of people who had even come from adjoining counties. They were having a good time. Few local performers were entertaining the public before the show could begin. Suddenly, with a loud bang and a multicoloured flash of light, the host ascended on the centre of the stage. He was accompanied by two beautiful assistants in leather dresses paired with cowboy boots. The host also wore an elegant, black coloured three piece suit with a flattering waistcoat. The entire stadium greeted them and started cheering outrageously.

The host announced the day’s game show to be spine-tingling and frightening. He requested the people with cardiac issues to leave the vicinity. People, who were home alone and planning to watch the show live on TV, were asked by the host to avoid watching it altogether. The crowd went numb and deadened; however, nobody left. The host then asked for volunteers. Almost everybody among the audience raised their hands. There were over one dozen cameras covering every single corner of the stadium from multiple angles. The host asked the people to put their hands down and announced the criteria in a rather cold, robotic voice, which left the crowd silenced, as they all withdrew their hands. There were some murmurs in the crowd including some loud sighs but most people had literally frozen.

Prerequisite for the participants revealed by the host was quite simple yet astounding. The contestants would be ex-cons – murderers to be precise. Everybody held their breath when the first person rose from his seat and slowly walked towards the stage. Someone started shouting among the crowd and started calling him a killer. He was followed by an old man wearing a bucket hat and then a weird lady stood up in front of her seat, hiding her face between het coat’s colours. The lady walked very strangely towards the stage. No camera could yet capture her face. It was not easy to accept heinous crimes publically but the prize money was massive enough for the people to unveil their darkness. The crowd never imagined that there would be murderers sitting amongst them. It further left the atmosphere cold and people started warming themselves on a cold autumn night.

The contestants, of course, had to give an account of their dreadful acts. Smith, the old man had killed a total stranger in a bar fight and served 28 years in prison. He just got out on parole a couple of weeks back and had shifted to this town where nobody knew him. But now people could recognise him as they started pointing their fingers towards him and booed loudly. The host asked them to stay quiet and then spoke to the freakish woman, requesting her to introduce herself. Her name was Isabel and she had poisoned her landlady five years ago. She had survived the trial on insanity plea. She was spending her time in a psychiatric facility and had recently escaped from the horrific company of psychopaths who had also turned her into a psycho woman. Now, the crowd was getting ecstatic. The research team had Googled them and found out about their cases. The show contained many other entertaining acts too between the actual game – the Russian roulette. They were now broadcasting life stories of the convicts alongside the show.

After a short break, the third person was brought on stage. His case was different then the first two contestants. His name was Oliver and he had killed his business partner Dave in a cold blooded murder. They lived in the same town where the show was being held. Oliver started narrating his story. Crowd knew him well but they did not know that he was the killer. Oliver’s confession left the crowd mumbling. Oliver and Dave were best friends. Since their young age, they both liked the same girl Britney. Oliver as a child had asked Britney to marry him and she said that it can only happen if he had a million dollars. As they grew up, he could never muster courage to ask her out. Britney starting dating Dave and they soon got married. They now had a cute little boy named Harry. Few years back, Oliver and Dave started a hardware store together with all the investments they had. Initially, they got good profits but then for the last one year they were hardly meeting their ends. Oliver had a lavish spending and with the income getting squeezed he had started stealing from his own store. Dave found out and confronted him. He even threatened Oliver to report the police about it, unless he brought on record all the money he embezzled. Oliver was left with no choice. He planned the murder so perfectly that the police was still clueless. The guilt was though wearing him down. The pain that he saw in Britney’s eyes at the funeral broke him emotionally. He needed to confess and he did so publically on national television. Oliver knew that he will be arrested soon after the show and he had very little time left as a free man.

Doors of the stadium were locked. The local town police was unable to get in and there was enough time to finish the show before the state police or FBI intervened. Producers of the show had hired a big law firm in New York representing them in over a dozen criminal cases and there were many lawsuits already filed against them. No doubt the producers were making a lot of money through television rights sold to a huge media network.

The game started. All three of them were given digitised pistols. Smith pulled the trigger and nothing happened. Crowd cheered out loud. Isabel pulled the trigger, again nothing happened. It was Oliver’s turn now. He pulled the trigger and a simple click. The crowd's applause kept getting louder and louder with each pull of trigger till the woman’s trigger made a loud bang and she got washed out. It was now Smith and Oliver standing on stage facing each other. They both had pulled their trigger thrice. Smith ran out with his luck on fourth click and it was now Oliver left alone as the finalist to play the real roulette. It was a big surprise, which was yet to be disclosed.

After a short break when the curtains were raised, crowd saw Oliver standing motionless in the middle of the stage with a small table placed at his side. The host came on stage and made announcements for the final round. Then a beautiful girl appeared with a covered tray. The host lifted the cloche to reveal a real shinny steel revolver. The host picked up the revolver, displayed it around and placed it on the table. It created lot of chatter among the crowd, as before this round, only digital pistols were being used. The situation was getting tense. The humming noise had now turned into shouting and clapping; and then another girl appeared with yet another covered tray. The host lifted the cloche and this time a real bullet was kept underneath it. The host lifted the bullet, held it high holding it between his thumb and index finger, displaying it in front of spectators. The crowd was getting mad. There was so much pandemonium that nothing was audible. People had guessed rightly what was about to happen. The host showed the real bullet around which was adequately covered by most of the camera. He then placed it slowly and carefully with the revolver. There was now pin-drop silence.

Oliver was standing there gloomily with a racing heart and a hollow mind. His head was bent down. He knew Britney would be watching this show. The thought of Britney knowing everything was killing him even before the start of game. He knew only one thing that he had to win the grand prize for her. This was the only way of redemption. It was now a do or die situation and there was no turning back. He did not want to overthink about it. The host lifted the revolver, opened its cylinder to reveal the six empty chambers. He picked up the bullet, showed it to the chanting crowd and television cameras, and inserted it in one of the empty chambers. He then started spinning the cylinder and kept spinning it with a growing roar of the crowd. He then walked towards Oliver and stood in front of him. The crowd now went silent. The host extended his hand with the revolver placed on his palm towards Oliver. Oliver looked at it, thought for a while and then lifted the revolver from the host’s hand. The local police was now knocking on the stadium gates, which were locked down from the inside. The crowd had gone mad and kept cheering. There kept chanting ‘do it, do it’. Police warnings to stop the show were lost in the crowd’s uproar. The electric supply to the stadium was cut down but the show’s organisers had already catered for the same. Lights on the stage and all technical necessities for television broadcast were already running through generators.

Oliver was now holding the revolver tightly in his right hand. With a loud bang and a flash of light, the host disappeared. It was now Oliver all alone standing there on the stage. The crowd felt the frostiness in air and fell silent. A computer generated voice announced round one with one hundred thousand dollars for the first pull. Oliver lifted the revolver to his temple with a shaking hand; he closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. A simple click and the crowd went wild again. Oliver had survived the first pull and won $100,000. He was given an option to either walk away with the win or try his luck for round two and win $200,000. He opted to stay and survived the second round as well and chose to play the next round. He went on to play till the fifth round and won $500,000.

Sixth round was the final one. The prize money for round six was $1,000,000. Only one pull was left with a chamber and a bullet. There was a 100 per cent chance of the bullet piercing through his temple.

The only thing he could lose in this round was his life. The amount he would win will be given to the person who he had chosen to be the beneficiary. Backstage, he had signed a written consent for the game and had asked the prize money to be given to Britney. He lifted his hand and pulled the last trigger. •