I come to in a fog of pain. Was that a pistol cocking? I try to move but I’m still strapped to the table in spread-eagle position. The brilliant orange-red spotlight is aimed directly at me, slowly burning my flesh with its intensity. It’s nearly impossible to see anything and just as difficult to think clearly.
“You heard the sound of the revolver; you know what that means, Andrew.” Sadie’s voice is like spun silk with just a hint of the spider that wove it. “You screamed first; now you face the Elimination Challenge. Give me a good one-liner and I just may let you live.”
“This is crazy! You can’t kill me for losing some challenge on your damned game show!”
“Is that your answer? I’m not laughing.”
“No! No, it isn’t! I need time to think.”
“You have one minute, starting… now. Tickle my funny bone.”
I tug at the restraints. They’re still firm. By squinting my eyes nearly closed I can just make out Melanie and David; they’re strapped to tables just like mine, and their concerned looks tell me they’re pulling for me. Or maybe they’re just relieved it isn’t them being punished right now.
“Doctor said he could cure my delusion of being a chicken, but I said ‘Don’t, I need the eggs.’”
“Boss told me he wanted me to work like a dog so I peed on his office plants.”
Again, stony silence.
“Come on, these are my best!”
“Then I suppose you’re doomed. Still, you still have thirty seconds to say something entertaining. Keep trying while I heat up the branding irons.”
“Be nice to your kids: they choose your nursing home.”
“I didn’t have that dilemma. I carved my children into pieces and ate them.”
“Love means never having to say ‘Put down that knife.’”
“Andrew, if all you’ve got is this lame material, perhaps you can answer a question for me instead. Why do human males become sexually aroused when threatened with death? The shadow from the spotlight really makes it stand out. Or up, as it were.”
“You know, that’s the first erection I’ve had in years that didn’t require a blue pill. When I said I’d die for one I didn’t mean…”
I get cut off by uproarious laughter from beyond the stage. The spotlight dims a bit and I see Sadie flapping her wings and licking her fangs as she moves toward me.
“Congratulations, you get to move on to the next level. Tell him what he’s won, Johnny.”
“Well Andrew, you’ve won a quick trip to paradise with Sadie de Sade, and she promises not to bite off anything you might need later. After that it’s on to the Lightning Round, where each bolt you dodge not only keeps you alive but also earns you points that you can trade for valuable prizes. All that and more when Exquisite Torment returns after this important word from our sponsor.”