Many years had past since well the start of the end, the final pull on the toilet chain, the last orders at the bar. It had taken some time for that final ring of the bell, or rather the ground moving tremor that had shook the earth, to be recognised for what it was. God, or the Devil taking one huge dump and sending ripples across the earth. Once it had been realised, argued, contested, confirmed and contested again the effects of Armageddon had been quick.
It would have been the perfect opportunity for humanity to make it's last stand, to make it's apologies and send cute emoji hearts to each other. They could have made things more comfortable for their way out, perhaps given free healthcare and made sure everyone had a safe home to spend their last days in. On a bigger scale they could have stopped the production of meat and given the crops on which these animals were fed to poorer countries eventually ending world hunger and stilling the effects of global warming. Free travel to those who wished to reach their loved ones, contraception and access to abortion clinics for all so no parent would have to bring a child into a world with it's head on the block. The planet could have healed, people could have pulled their heads from their backlit arse-holes and supported each other.
They could have done a lot of things instead ignorance had grown thicker and people more selfish. The western societies had gone from wanting everything now, to wanting everything right-the-fuck-now and governments had been more than happy to support it. What else were they going to do but save face. The rich got richer and spent their money fucking and eating and killing it was Christmas for them, they thrived in a now completely sociopathic society. Those left who still had some faith or morality moved out of the cities away from the growing violence and tried to live their lives much the same.
Jonathan Clagg was one of the many people to thrive in an otherwise despairing situation. In his old life he had been reporter on a trashy TV show featuring in 30 second clips flashed on to the television screen to berate politicians and compare the breast sizes of famous women. He was the lowest form of media but this only served to help him succeed in this last era of television. A new show was pitched to his network and only Jonathan Clagg cared little enough about himself or anyone else to present it. He was already at the bottom he thought, why not.
The show was your typical British game show, a camp but harmless presenter, three contestants, a live audience and a celebrity guest. There was just one small twist. On learning that the end was indeed coming many people decided it could not come soon enough. Whether due to already living a cripplingly depressing life and seeing that it would never get better, or through fear or what else was to come many people sought the end on their own terms and the men and women still in charge saw an opportunity. Suicide rates had risen swiftly but for those too weak to take that step Euthanasia became legal, for a price.
1. Pay an disgustingly large amount of money to be 'put to sleep' in facilities once used as a veterinary surgeries or dentists.
2. Compete on a family friendly game show for an all expenses paid trip to oblivion
As the people in charge had already figured out the people most deserving of a quick exit were those without the means to pay their way, and so the game show thrived and Jonathan Clagg became a household name.
Jonathan Clagg watched the make-up woman move around him in the bright lights of the dressing room mirror. He watched her breasts move under the fabric of her shirt as she brushed powder on his cheeks and adjusted his hair. Jonathan thought she had rather nice tits this make-up woman but it had been some time since women did anything for him. Pushing her to one side he tidied up another line of coke and snorted. Only a few minutes now until he was back on the stage, that was what did it for him and he felt his dick move in anticipation. He gargled some mouthwash, spat and lit a cigarette. Wiping any dust from under his nose he swivelled around in his chair and watched the studio staff scurry around him. The call came “three minutes, three minutes until we go live” he crushed his cigarette into the foundation palette, gargled some more mouthwash and sauntered down the dark corridors towards the stage.
4, 3, 2, 1....showtime!
He adjusted his trousers slightly as he climbed the steps and walked towards centre stage, waving and smiling to the cheering crowd. Standing behind his podium he gripped the cue cards and leered at the audience.
“Ladies and gentleman, ladies and gentleman. Welcome to THE. EUTH. OF. TODAAAAY!”
The audience cheered louder and stamped in their seats, again he felt his dick harden a little and he stood closer to the podium.
“Now we all know the name of the game, we have three lovely contestants here to 'roll the ball, for that curtain call' would you like to meet them” he holds his hands out wide as if to embrace the howling audience “Please give a warm welcome to our first contestant...Dave Browning!”
A large man shuffles out on to the stage, his belly shaking with each step, his grey face goes slack as he steps up to his podium. What a sack of shit, thinks Jonathan, what a waste of space. You wouldn't see me coming on to national television wearing a fucking fleece, it's no wonder the world is ending with this kind of shit going on. They should let him bite the big one just for being so pathetic, maybe they could do a 2 for 1 Christmas show or something, yeah that was good he better remember that for the next studio meeting. He does his usual run through with the contestant 'who are you, where are you from, why do you want to die blah blah' lung cancer eh that's pretty fucked the last few hospitals went down a few years back. Must be painful, no family, pathetic.
He keeps his smile on his face and his thoughts to himself and he brings out contestant number two. A young woman walks up to her podium, she's pretty hot if you're into women looking scared shitless, which unfortunately in this kind of work, he is not. He runs through the introduction again, drug addict, lost family in the riots, work’s in the hospitality industry to fund her habit same old, same old. Most people haven't seemed to have grasped this new reality yet. It's the same as the last one. You do what you have to do and you have a good time, if you can't handle it you move out of the city into one of those filthy little villages and watch your life slide down the toilet.
“And our final contestant tonight, our last guest who wants to 'choose to lose'” he needs to speak to whoever writes these catchphrases “it's Joel McKagan!” the crowd applauds as what looks like an animated body bag shuffles on to the stage. Jonathan looks down at his cards...contestant number 3 Joel McKagan. Homeless (obviously he could smell him from here) from somewhere north etc etc can't provide for family, wife's a cripple...nothing particularly interesting. Even Jonathan wasn't sure who he would have bet on tonight.
“So let's get started folks! Our sweet angels of death will escort our contestants to the stage and you the audience, and let's not forget our viewers at home, will vote for who they believe, deserves to leave...” Jonathan turns with the gaze of the audience to watch the contestants be paraded to stand in a line next to him. His attention goes to the attractive young women arms linked with their respective contestant. They are dressed in black lingerie with huge grey feathered wings strapped across their shoulders. Towering black stiletto boots and glittering plastic scythes make these 'angels of death' look like they work on the stripper poles surrounding the gates of heaven. Waving their scythes and smiling like they are the stars of this pageant they pull tonight's three courses centre stage.
“Now viewers at home you know the number...” he smiles knowingly into the camera “to vote Dave into an early grave text 1-666” the crowd roars and he pauses enjoying the rush “to vote Nina text 2-666 and to vote Joel text 3-666”.
Jonathan turns his heavily made up face back to the studio audience and leans one arm over his podium, just your usual friendly bar tender here to take away what ails you. “Over to our live studio audience now are we all ready?!” the crowd cheers as lights move over the stage stopping on each contestant for a second then moving on and on “when I say go each of you will select a number on the keypad in front of you of the person you think needs a 'lights out' and don't forget there is an extra prize at the end for those of you who choose the correct winner of tonight's game... ready, steady, GO!” The music turns up louder and the lights move around the room as the grinning faces of the audience press their sticky fingers into their keypads. An alarm sounds for the last ten seconds and then the lights freeze on all three contestant's, like prisoners caught escaping in the yard, the music stops and with the sound of a large bell the light turns off on contestant number 1 Dave Browning, maybe he knew what he was doing wearing that fleece.
The studio cheers and boos as poor Dave covers his flabby face with shaking hands and weeps. The contestants are led back to their podiums and the cameras turn back to Jonathan.
“Well it looks like Dave is the favourite, for now. Join us after the break when we put all three contestant's to the test, for their eternal rest” He waves and grins at the audience as he is cued down, once the cameras are off he marches back to his dressing room for a quick top up.
“Annnnd we’re back, live in the studio for the second round of The EUTH OF TODAY!” This was Jonathan’s favourite round, three snivelling wastes of space competing in an assault course. The aim of the game was to race each other to the end of the obstacle course before their five minutes was up, the first person to literally jump in their coffin won. It was disgustingly obvious and making them do it blind folded was perverse but he loved it. Oops Dave had lost his speed enough to move to third place, must be that shitty lung capacity thought Jonathan. He loved watching them shuffle and fall, arms reaching out as they climbed over walls and waded through slime. He could feel some powder stuck in his nostril, maybe if he sniffed up hard enough he could get another hit.
The studio had fitted a giant clock above the course with the sounds of the hands ticking projected loudly over them 'the haaaands of time' and all that. He was betting on the woman to win this round, she was the only one that looked remotely capable of doing more than wipe her own arse. This round was his favourite not only because he liked to watch them crawl through cheap metaphors of their shit eating lives, but generally most contestants couldn't compete. Any fucker in a wheelchair, missing limb, heart problems all screwed. This round was purely for the viewers, and the sad fuckers at home loved it. Joel had reached the slime pit, bet it felt like home to the creep. Jonathan grinned to himself and tried to clear the chemical taste on the back of his throat. Nina was the first one over the wall, if she manages to find her way through the fake graveyard and into her coffin fast enough she might set a show record.
“Would you check the expiration date on that, Nina looks to be a sure thing for first place!”
The crowds laughter blends into the music pumped out over the stage. Joel was still making a pathetic attempt to wade through the slime pit and Dave, well Dave had got his fat little legs stuck climbing the wall and was now dangling over one side. His toes reaching for footing like a sad little boy stuck in a tree.
The bell rings and Nina is pronounced the winner, all three contestants are escorted backstage to wipe the slime from their filthy clothes and Jonathan still smiling makes his way to the large fuzzy pink couch which has replaced his podium.
“My dear friends” the studio quietens “while our lucky contestant's... clean up backstage” he tilts his head towards the camera, yes dear viewer we can all agree those pieces of shit will never be clean, not like you and I “we have a very special guest, Damon Darcy is here to talk to us about his new record and who he thinks, will win tonight's game”.
Two of the angels escort a short bearded man on to the stage and towards the couch, his bullshit fedora only just reaches the angels breast's, the tiny man in the ruffled checked shirt doesn't appear to notice. I better keep a professional distance thinks Jonathan as he crosses his legs, you can never be too careful these days.
He does the typical 'oh my god so nice to see you!... tell me all about you!...your song is so great please give my thanks to the tramp that wrote it as you climb over their corpse' He nod's and smiles approvingly, slaps his knee with the cards and laughs whenever the little wannabe makes a cute anecdote and leans forward dramatically for the big question.
“Now Damon, before you go, who do you think deserves to win tonight's game?” the crowd titters as Damon Darcy strokes his beard and leans toward Jonathan “Well Jonathan I think Nina really worked for it in that last round and she's pretty cute, but maybe Joel is like, the most pathetic you know?” the crowd laughs and Damon, the pervert, Darcy beams back at them “It's like if you can't afford to look after yourself why are you smoking dude, healthcare cost's money, and Nina like I said she's attractive I'm sure she has plenty of options to tide her over another couple years”.
Jonathan shakes his hand, he couldn't have put it better himself. Round three begins and a video is shown for each contestant of a relative or friend crying and whimpering into a microphone about how great this person is, how hard they worked, how they deserve to die for leaving them, how they owe them money. The contestant's without anyone to video in for them were the big hitters, the audiences loved to laugh at the loners. Jonathan waits for the videos to finish and waits at his podium, his face sombre and his hands behind his back. The votes for who wins are added up and given to him in a sealed envelope, this was exciting even he didn't know which way this would go.
“And now ladies and gentleman, it gives me great pleasure to announce tonight's winner” he looks down at the card and snorts with laughter that fucking fleece “It's contestant number one DAAAAVE BROWNING” the other contestants are removed from the stage and sad sack Dave is brought over to stand next to Jonathan, it gave him the creeps being this close to them. No one needs to see where their meat comes from and no one needs to see who eats from their bins. “Now Dave do you know what comes next?” The ball of flab quivers and a small yes squeaks out of his mouth “You're nearly there Dave, one more push of the button and off you go to that paradise in the sky. We just need to find out if you’re going first class… or dragged behind that chariot”
Jonathan tried not to look it in the eye, he hated the tears and the shaking it was disgusting but he couldn't help looking at Dave's fat little hands and wonder how he managed to wank with that stomach and those tiny limbs. Here we go. Dave pressed the button in front of him and the clock hand spinning over the words heaven and hell slowed to land on heaven. Lucky Dave.
“Can we get a big round of applause for our good friend Dave?! Dave you have won the golden ticket which means you will be taking the scenic route up, up, up!” Did Jonathan believe in heaven? No. Only fools believe there is anything more than what you are given. Hell, now hell he did believe in and he was probably on the fast route there for promising eternal bliss to meat bags that came on this show.
Jonathan watches and claps as Dave is led back to his side of the stage by the strippers of mercy. The podiums have gone and the stage now holds what looks like the bedroom set of, what Jonathan would assume to be, a young woman who spends most of her time in the mirror and the rest of it bleaching her arsehole. A tall bed covered in pink satin sheets and throw pillows stands in the middle beneath rows of fairy lights. It's not a bad set up really, thinks Jonathan. It's only Dave's massive carcass and a beer on the night stand that moves this from being like the beginning of a soft porno to watching a whale beach itself in Ikea.
Damon Darcy and his band start up on the other side of the stage and the audience cheers louder, as the song plays Dave downs his entire bottle of beer and pulls the satin sheets up to his chest. He can't seem to decide whether to keep his eyes open on the angels of death wheeling a medical trolley over to him or to hide under the sheet's like the stain he is. They stand either side of him and roll up the sleeve on one arm then swab above his elbow with alcohol. Jonathan can see Dave's whole body shaking from here. He almost feels for the guy, it's probably the most attention this joke ever had from women. Jonathan checks his phone, no messages, what to do tonight? The first injection is given as the band is finishing their song. The look of utter panic melts from Dave's face and he sinks back into the bed.
The crowd counts down from ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…and the second injection is given.
The crowd goes fucking crazy; people are jumping and cheering, taking pictures on their phones and shouting goodbyes to poor, sad Dave Browning. What the show doesn’t advertise is that it can take up to ten minutes for the fucker to bite the dust but that would be incredibly boring viewing for everyone involved. The angels wheel the bed backwards and a long red curtain drops to hide it from the stage. Finally, thinks Jonathan, I can get out of this shithole and into another one; maybe Nina will be in the mood to party.
“My wonderful audience, the faithful viewers at home, we couldn't do this without you. Thank you from all of us here at the Euth-of-Today!”
That's right folks we're all in this toilet bowl together.
“Join us next week when three more lucky contestants roll the ball, for that final curtain call!”