• Eddie Fogler

The Final Race

The production assistants had us spread out across the starting line as the cameras hovered around us. I tried to look more determined than nervous as they whirled around my face getting closeups, but I probably just looked exasperated. It was exhausting trying to focus on everything they told us about being “camera friendly.” A few feet ahead of us, flanked by his signature pillars of black balloons, stood Jaxson. On the ground, I couldn’t help but notice small cannons that would most likely shoot black confetti once the race started. For something so violent, they really went out of their way to still make things gaudy. It helped the show be more family friendly, having all that sparkling glitz and glitter to distract from the bloodshed.

“Contestants!” Jaxson held his hands up into the air. “Welcome to the seventeenth season of The Final Race! Take a look at your fellow contestants.”

I glanced down the line to my left. Yup. Just a bunch of various strangers busy sizing each other up. If I learned anything from watching the previous seasons, it was to not waste time trying to determine your “competition” and just focus on yourself. Some of the most unfit and uncoordinated contestants have won. And I intended to be one of them.

“As you can see and count,” Jaxson continued, “we’ve added a twist. Instead of ten of you, there are eleven this season.”

I looked back down the line. Shit. He was right. There were eleven of us. The cameras zoomed in on our confused expressions. Perfect. I was now another step further away from the grand prize and

“Don’t worry.” Jaxson kept a smirk across his face. “This doesn’t mean there will be an additional leg of the race. What it does mean is that at some point in time during the race, two contestants may be eliminated.”

There were several loud gasps down the line.

“For the first leg of the race, we are bringing back a fan favorite: Pack Rat.” Jaxson gestured to the warehouse. “Prior to today, you were all individually given thirty minutes to explore the abandoned building behind me. When I say go, you will have just twenty minutes to run inside, gather as many supplies you want, and then find a hiding place. You must stay in your hiding spot for three days. If you leave before the three days are up, you will be disqualified. After the three days, you will be allowed to move about freely. You can use this time to find a new spot to hide or gather more supplies. If you find another contestant’s hiding spot, you can either join them, take the spot over, or leave them be. You will also find cans of red paint throughout the building. You can use the red paint to mark any area that has been occupied by a contestant.”

Jaxson continued to ramble on about the rules of the challenge. I knew it was going to be Pack Rat. Well, I assumed. There weren’t many challenges that required contestants to explore a place first. So, I already had the perfect hiding spot planned out. The vents. No one ever went for the vents. And my slim frame would fit. It just didn’t leave much room for food and other shit, which meant that I would have to use the two days we were allowed to move to gather more supplies. Then I would have to wait for the Hunter to make their first kill. God I hope I’m not the first one eliminated.

The production crew wheeled out two large crates beside Jaxson. One marked with an A and the other with a B.

“One last thing.” True Jaxson style. “We asked our audience to pick a crate at random to determine the Hunter’s weapon. Would you like to see what they picked?”

The production crew gave us the signal to clap and cheer. I bet they regretted casting me. My eyes were always a dead giveaway that I was being fake. Some of my fellow contestants were probably actually into it. Clapping away furiously. Using the race to prove themselves or some other type of self-discovery. I just needed the money, so it was hard for me to be excited to see the weapon that could possibly kill me on national tv.

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