The stadium, p.1
CHRISTINA J. ADAMS
Copyright 2012 Christina J. Adams
About the Author
Bonus Material: First Chapter of The White Lilac
“What do you think they’ll bring out this time?” Austin asked. Several drops of beer spilled over the plastic cup, landing on the hot concrete, as Austin shoved his large frame into the old stadium seat.
“I hope it’s something suspenseful like hangman,” Dan said. He licked his lips and gazed at the beer. If only their tickets hadn’t cost so much.
“What? Hangman’s not suspenseful!”
Dan shrugged his shoulders and looked down at the empty green football field. He could barely make out the yellow-shirted employees running around like ants trying to set things up before the show. It was sure hot. Dan licked his lips again and wiped sweat from his brow.
“I just don’t want the show to end quickly, you know. I mean we paid all this money and I want to have time to enjoy myself.”
They were silent, watching as four thick-plated glass tubes were brought out, each requiring several yellow-shirts to steady them. The tubes were wheeled onto the stage and set across from the podium where they loomed like giant test tubes. Each tube was twice the size of the yellow ants hurrying to put them into place. The tubes had to be that big to accommodate the human forms inside the top half. Dan couldn’t make out any details yet because there was a tint on the glass. Once the show started they would be visible. For a moment, Dan wondered what the forms in the tubes were thinking, but he quickly shoved the thought from his mind focusing instead on the yellow-shirts as they moved around the stage.
With a pop the huge screen in front of them shuddered then came alive.
“Ladies and gentlemen welcome to Lifelines Live with your host Aidan Cambell. The live reality show giving you action, drama and a chance to win one billion dollars. We will begin momentarily. Right now we’d like the chance to tell you about....”
Dan shifted in his chair and sighed. The sun beat down on his neck from above and then bounced up in a wave of heat from the concrete that soaked his shirt with sweat. He wished more than ever he had thought to bring his card; the concession stands no longer accepted the meager bills crumpled in his wallet.
“Now ladies and gentlemen let’s give a big round of applause for your host Aidan Cambell!”
“I love this part,” Austin said, leaning over his armrest so his mouth was closer to Dan’s ear as the loud roar erupted from the stadium. The large screen moved to a close, full-length shot of Aidan Cambell jogging onto the field. He looked like a big man in his expensive blue suit and matching leather shoes. Waving a hand he leaped onto the platform. The moment he reached the center, the platform burst in an explosion with flames reaching several stories high. Dan felt the blast of heat burn at his face. The sprinkler system for the first three levels turned on for ten seconds and shouts and cries were heard from below. Not once did Dan take his eyes off the screen. As the smoke cleared Cambell stood once more in the center of the platform. This time he wore a fiery orange suit, a little too tight, and showing off every muscle.
“How does he do that?” Dan asked aloud.
“Thank you and welcome to Lifelines Live,” Cambell shouted to the four contestants who had also suddenly appeared behind him. His teeth were one big smile. “Are you ready to win one billion dollars?”
“Yes,” they replied. There were two women and two men. The first woman, though she was decently dressed, had the look of a mom pretending she had a professional career. The man next to her looked like he had just been pulled off the streets. His dirty jeans had stains Dan could almost see without help of the screen from where he sat. He wondered how a man like that could manage to get a ticket, let alone a spot on the show. Austin nudged him and pointed to the second woman and said, “I bet she wins. Those business types are smart.”
Pondering her straight back and sharp suit Dan just raised an eyebrow. He could never tell who would win in Lifelines. Sometimes it seemed like the game had been rigged but he had never heard of any contestants complaining.
The last man was the one who caught Dan’s attention. He was obviously one of the military police. Even if he wasn’t wearing the black, plain uniform, Dan could tell from the seemingly relaxed, yet watchful and tensed way he stood.
“Now for the rules,” Cambell said. “Each contestant has thirty seconds to correctly answer a trivia question from each of our categories. For every right answer the contestant wins fifty thousand dollars. There is one lifeline per contestant, as long as your lifeline is conscious you go on to the next round. For every wrong answer given you place your lifeline in increasing danger. Once your lifeline is unresponsive, that’s it. You go home. So the more correct answers you give the better your chances of winning. Remember audience, no contestant has met their lifeline before today.”
“You know, they get all their lifelines from local prisons,” Austin said. “They show up and ask the convicts for volunteers. If you volunteer sometimes they give you less time or special favors, although if you’re on death row you don’t have a choice.”
“Why?” asked Dan.
“Because most of the contestants don’t win and they need lifelines who don’t have to survive.” Austin laughed. “It makes things cheaper for the government.”
“Contestants meet your lifelines!” said Cambell, grandly sweeping his arms toward the covered tubes. The camera shot a close up of each individual as their lifeline was unveiled. The mom had a burly guy with tattoos covering his arms which he flexed, then blew her a kiss. Her cheeks tinged red as she turned to the other contestants with a pleased but embarrassed smile. There was a big woman for the dirty man and an extremely thin man for the businesswoman.
“Tough luck,” Dan said to Austin, adding a nudge in his side.
“It’s okay. I didn’t bet on anyone yet.”
As the last tube was unveiled, Dan saw the policeman narrowed his eyes. In the split screen Dan saw a young girl, not more than twenty. In the instant she saw the policeman’s face her eyes grew big, her face drained of color and her feet darted about the glass tube as if looking for a place to hide. Then she stopped, deliberately clasped her hands in front of her and stared at the bottom of her cage. The man’s lip twitched with a sneer, his eyes lit with disdain. Dan stared at the screen. He would’ve sworn those two knew each other but the faces of both contestant and lifeline were now blank as if nothing had happened.
“Did you see that?” Dan whispered.
“Huh?” Austin grunted, taking a sip of his beer.
“I--I think those two know each other,” Dan said, staring intently at the screen.
“The last two.”
“Doesn’t look like it to me. Besides they aren’t allowed to know each other. It’s against the rules.”
The policeman’s face didn’t betray an ounce of the triumphant smirk, but Dan was sure it had been there. Remaining motionless, the girl waited with her head down. Once again he wondered what she was thinking. He had heard about the lifelines coming from prison, but he couldn’t help feeling this girl was not a criminal. Jerking his mind back to the present, Dan turned his head to the portion of the screen where Cambell stood saying, “No, I’m sorry. That answer is incorrect.”
The businesswoman’s thin man had honey poured all over him from the top of his tube. There was a loud clank and the base of the tube slid back revealing to the crowd what was under the man without him being able to see. Hundreds of bees crawled on the glass below his feet. The crowd cheered as the man suddenly realized from the buzzing beneath what it was and he stuck himself to the wall of the tu
Turning to the policeman, Aidan Cambell said, “In 1988 what was the capital of Germany?”
The man cocked his head to one side like he was trying hard to think.
“B--Brussels?” he said in a low, deep voice.
“No, I’m sorry that answer is incorrect.”
Blue paint fell startling the girl as it flowed from her hair onto her plain, gray prison dress. The base was revealed and at first Dan didn’t see anything. Beneath the girl the tube looked as clear as glass. Then Dan saw something shimmer and he knew it was water.
“Aw, come on. Anyone could have gotten that right!” Dan exclaimed.
“Shh.” Austin held up a hand to silence Dan and leaned closer to the screen.
“But that question was easy. He purposefully got it wrong,” Dan said, in a much quieter tone.
“You don’t know that. Some people don’t know their history.”
“Can you honestly say you know if he even went to college?”
“Well no, but....”
“Then you can’t say it was an easy question, can you?”
Shifting in his seat, Dan turned away. He wasn’t good at arguing, especially with Austin. The mom got her second question right starting a chain reaction of right answers all the way to the policeman and back to her. Austin rolled his eyes and shook his head.
The huge screen was split into nine squares, one for each contestant, one for each lifeline and a square the size of two for Cambell. The camera would zoom in on the contestant and lifeline whose turn it was and then zoom out to a full length shot when their turn was done. While the businesswoman’s face struggled in the close shot to give the answer for the largest lake in Asia, Dan focused on the smaller squares for the policeman and the girl. Her head was up and she seemed to be imploring the policeman with her eyes. Though Dan couldn’t hear the words she mouthed he knew what she was saying, “Please! Please, I didn’t do it. You have to believe me.” She held one hand pressed against the glass, but the policeman’s face was as giving as a brick pile covered by a blanket.
The crowd roared as the businesswoman gave the wrong answer and the bees were released. The thin man swatted at them in a panic making them angry. Before long one of his arms started swelling above the elbow. Austin slapped his knee and laughed.
“He almost looks like he has muscles!”
Dan wasn’t paying attention because it was the policeman’s turn once more.
“In alphabetical order, list the names of Jupiter’s four largest moons.”
“John, George, Paul and Ringo.” The man’s eyes were cold. He didn’t even pretend to guess.
“No, that is incorrect.”
The platform under the girl gave way and she plunged into the water. She sank to the bottom of the tube leaving a trail of blue paint swirling from her hair. Seconds ticked by, Cambell moved onto the next contestant. In the full length square the girl struggled under the water. Bubbles sent the blue paint into bigger designs as they rose to the surface. Then all was still and the square went black.
“That man gave the wrong answer on purpose,” Dan said. The pit of his stomach felt cold.
“So?” Austin continued to stare at the screen.
“The girl, his lifeline, didn’t do anything wrong. She was innocent, now she--she’s dead!”
Turning to look at Dan, Austin said, “How do you know she was innocent? All the criminals on this show deserve whatever they get.”
“She said she was innocent and I believe her.” Dan stood from his chair in agitation.
“Do you know her?”
“No. And don’t try to prove that she was guilty because you don’t know her either.”
“Fine, just sit down will you.”
“No! This isn’t right. Something should be done about this.”
“Sit down!” someone behind them yelled.
“Look,” Austin said, pointing to the place on the field where the yellow-shirts gathered around the girl’s tube. “What are you going to do? Are you going to jump out onto the field and chase those guys down? Think about it.”
Austin gave Dan a hard stare. Dan glared back. He glanced down at the lifeless form floating in the water under the watchful eye of the policeman and his shoulders sagged. Now several yellow-shirts moved about the tube pushing it off the stage. What could he do? Was he really going to climb down the sections and jump onto the field? He’d probably be arrested and he was just one person. It was too late to save her. He looked down at the crowds. No one else was doing anything or even seemed concerned. The sun beat down on his head pressing on him until slowly Dan sank back into his seat. Nothing. He would do nothing. That was all he would do.
About the Author
Christina J. Adams lives among the exciting, rolling hills of Maryland’s farmland where an event like a new fence or fallen tree receives proper gossip. When she is not writing she spends most of her free time with family or at family events. The one exception is that she now participates in a form of karate called Tai Chuan Do, where she learns to maim and kill attackers all in the name of research for her next book, although she will not say which one. She loves writing, primarily teen books, although every now and then she likes to do something different.
The White Lilac
The Stadium by Christina J Adams / History & Fiction have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on19 votes