It is on cable. It has high ratings. It reruns over and over again.
All 10 will hire agents. All 10 will get book deals. All 10 will buy new sweatpants.
That is what the man with big sunglasses tells me. He calls me one day.
He says, 'No one likes this show. But everyone watches it. Because there's nothing else on. We must break the cycle. For the children.'
I say, 'I don't have children. But I hate that fucking show.'
He says, 'Good. Come down to the set.'
I show up later that day. The man with big sunglasses gives me a script and a gun.
He says, 'Read the script. The gun is fake. Hide in the attic. Come out on cue.'
I wait in the attic. I get my cue. I come down the stairs. I shoot all 10 drunks. The special effects stain the wall red. I keep shooting. Very realistic.
I shoot and shoot. And shoot. Again and again.
The man with big sunglasses runs out to me. 'You can stop shooting now,' he says.
I can't stop. Guards rush out. They take the gun from my hands.
One of them says, 'You weren't supposed to actually kill them. Just scare them. Didn't you read the script?'
I say, 'What's the difference? The gun is fake, isn't it?'
The guard says, 'No, asshole, you killed them. All 10 of them.'
The guards put me in handcuffs. Then the police come.
And now here I am. In prison on 11 life sentences.
That's right. Eleven. Don't forget about the one before this."
* * *
"You've got a natural gift for voice-overs," the man with big sunglasses said. A thick pane of glass divided him and I. We talked through a set of telephones.
"Are you sure it will sound OK? It was recorded over a prison telephone, after all," I said. A guard tapped me on the shoulder of my blaze orange jumpsuit. He pointed to his watch.
"That just adds to the realism of the voice-over, since we're filming from your perspective. It'll go great at the beginning of '10 Drunk People in a House.' I smell a new reality TV hit," the man with big sunglasses said.
"So do I," I said.
The guard tapped me on the shoulder again. This time I nodded.
"Well, it's time for me to go," I said to the man with big sunglasses.
"OK. I'll see you when the ratings come in," he said.
* * *
I press "Stop" on the DVD player. The TV screen goes blue.
"And that's the first two scenes from the pilot of my TV show. It's a reality show about a life sentence inmate who is tapped to murder trashy drunk people on a reality show. What do you think, Mr. Regibald?" I say.
The camera man behind me moves in for a closer shot. He's been filming me as I explain my pitch. It's part of the behind-the-scenes footage for "10 Drunk People in a House." It'll run after the pilot airs, assuming the network buys the show.
Mr. Regibald, vice president of programming, leans back in his chair. He looks at the camera, then at me. He says, "It's a helluva concept, Benjamin. But I don't think today's audiences will accept killing 10 people for the sake of entertainment. Those were actual murders, right? Those 10 people are dead?"
"That depends. Whether reality TV is real-real or fake-real is up to the viewer. Perception is reality TV," I say.
"I don't get it," he says.
"Then get this. If viewers find reasons to think 10 people were actually murdered on the show, the ratings would be huge. They'd rerun that episode over and over."
Mr. Regibald rubs his jaw. He says, "I suppose it's worth a shot."
"Really? You'll buy it?" I say. My big sunglasses nearly fall off my face.
"You bet," he says.
We shake hands. Production begins that day.
They call the reality TV show, "10 Drunk People in a House." The title is also the premise. Ten young men and women are locked in a large house. They drink. They say "bitch" and "disrespected" a lot. They fight. That is the show.
It is on cable. It has high ratings. It reruns over and over again...
This is Benjamin Sobieck’s fifth piece of flash fiction published on The Flash Fiction Offensive. His website is CrimeFictionBook.com.
He recently started an online journal of flash non-fiction, with a focus on crime. It’s called Fingerprints, and you can find it at http://fingerprintsjournal.blogspot.com.