“These six people have never met until today,” Nicki’s voice narrated over some shots of some kind of lounge. There were six women, all chatting about something or other, though what they were saying was inaudible over the sound of Nicki’s narration and tense background music. “They’re all here for the same thing: A chance to win £10,000.” The shot lingered on the six chatting women, panning across them. There was a boisterous, short-haired woman with slightly darker skin. She seemed pretty athletic, as did the taller, pony-tailed one next to her. The footage was in black-and-white, so their actual hair and skin colours were difficult to pick out. The next woman had long, straight dark hair, very pale skin and dark clothes and fingernails. She had her eye on one of the other women: a shy-looking girl with freckles and curly hair. There was also a woman with a bob haircut and one with glasses and dishevelled hair. “Who will work as a team and win a shot at the jackpot? Who will be unable to get past their vast differences? Let’s find out as we play The Pairing Game.”
The show’s introduction played. It had intense, dark techno music playing over three pairs of stick figure-like computer graphic people running and jumping over obstacles. One pair was red, and they tripped over and fell into some kind of green CGI gloop. The same sort of gloop hit the yellow pair, and they left the running as the blue pair ran through a green finish line ribbon. The snapped ribbon had the words “THE PAIRING GAME” written in white letters, forming the show logo.
The show cut to the set, which had a dark and grimy feel to it. It seemed rather modular, and suspended from the roof were various elements that seemed like they could have been used in the later games. In one corner was a raised metal stage, with three podiums, each in a different primary colour. The stage was also where the six contestants were located, each one in a black fleece top and either shorts, leggings or sports briefs. There was also the show’s frontwoman, Nicki Stevens. “Welcome to the Pairing Game. I’m Nicki Stevens, and I’m your mistress of mayhem for tonight.” Nicki didn’t quite have the full ‘mistress’ look to her, though being decked out in a black leather jacket, blue top, dark denim jeans and black combat boots, she seemed to have taken more than a few cues from her metal fan boyfriend. In her right hand was a microphone. “Since the dawn of time, mankind has been forced to band together for the sake of survival. Of course, there were all sorts of nasties out there in the woods waiting to destroy them. Mammoths, sabre tooth cats, other tribes, I could go on. Of course, here on the Pairing Game, it’s not survival that our frankly mad competitors are playing for. It’s simply material wealth, as whoever wins tonight will be walking away with ten grand in their coffers. Oh, and while we don’t have primal beasts or killer Neanderthals, we do have our own array of little nasties, and who better to show us than the not-so-little nasty that is Suzi Harrison?”
Backstage, Suzi was stood between three huge barrels, similar to oil drums. A camera pointed down at her, showing the barrels to be full of bright green, orange and purple stuff. Suzi herself was simply wearing a white tank top and shorts. She was barefoot, as were the contestants on the main stage. Like Nicki, she was holding a mic in her right hand. “Thank you Nicki,” she said. “Yes, we’ve got all sorts of treats in store for the contestants, and they come in a myriad of types. We’ve got slimy, sloppy, gooey, gloppy, gunky, mucky and of course gungy fun lined up.” She dipped her left hand into the green stuff. It sank down, pulling her arm in up to her elbow. She swirled her arm around before lifting it up, shivering a little as she did. It seemed to stretch, creating a big sheet-like bubble which quickly collapsed into a bunch of stringy vines, then finally into big drips which glistened under the lights, a nearby camera capturing the whole thing for the viewing audience to see in incredible detail. “They’re going to have more than just their hands full if they want to win that money, Nickster!” giggled the brunette presenter, running her slimy fingers over the lens of the nearest camera.
The show cut back to Nicki. “Oh yes, if the presence of Suzi and myself wasn’t a huge clue, we’re that kind of game show!” she said, winking to a nearby camera. “Here’s how it works. Our six contestants have had a chance to get to know each other before the show. They’ve decided on a scale of one to five how much they’d like to work with each other. Then, with their new partner they have to play a series of messy games against the other teams, with the odd bit of trivia where they have the opportunity to steal points from the other teams. At the end of round two and round four, we send the team with the fewest points to the Elimination Enclosure!”
The Enclosure was at the opposite corner of the studio, with some sort of railway leading into it. On the railway was a small car with a couple of chairs with seatbelts. The inside of the Enclosure couldn’t be discerned at this point due to the railway continuing through a large, black door which was currently shut, though dry ice wafted out of the gap at the bottom.
“Now, I suppose I’ve talked about the contestants so it’s only right that I talk to the contestants,” said Nicki, walking up to the first one. The contestant had slightly darker skin than the rest, and towered over Nicki. The redhead hostess felt slightly intimidated, fearing that if she pissed off the player then she’d probably end up with several broken or dislocated bones. After all, this contestant had a bit of a hostile aura to her. The contestant’s hair was brown, straight and fairly short. “So contestant number one, tell me about yourself.” asked Nicki, hiding her fear perfectly.
“I am Carlota Delgado Rios, and I’m from Lisbon but live in Nottingham,” said the contestant, with a fairly thick Portuguese accent. “I study sport science, and I work out.”
“So you’re the sporty type. What kind of partner do you hope to have?” asked Nicki.
“I know there’s another athlete in the game, so together we would crush the enemy!”
The self-styled matriarch of mayhem couldn’t help clearing her throat. “Well, I’d imagine you’re built for it. Still, which team you’re on will depend on what top you’re wearing under your jacket, so if you wouldn’t mind popping it off…”
“Sure,” said Carlota, unzipping the fleece jacket and throwing it on the ground. Underneath she was wearing a blue vest top with black sports briefs, which really showed off her rather muscular, yet still incredibly feminine physique. While Nicki herself was entirely uninterested in women, she couldn’t help feeling a tad envious.
“So you’re the first member of our first ever blue team. We’ll see more of you soon but for now we must meet the rest of our competitors,” said Nicki, moving onto the next girl. She was quite tall too, though not as tall as Carlota. Her fleece jacket seemed to hang off her a bit loosely, suggesting that she wasn’t as well-built as the Portuguese woman. She had green eyes and long blonde hair in a ponytail. “So, tell me about yourself, number two.”
“My name’s Victoria McClean…”
Nicki chuckled. “Bit of an ironic surname.”
“Well, I hope to be victorious!” said the contestant, taking Nicki’s banter in her stride. “I’m from Mudford, and I play for the Raiders’ women’s side, the Amazons.”
“So you’re a local girl!” Nicki said, smiling at something other than her obligatory mean girl act for the first time all evening. “You must be the athlete Carlota mentioned. Do you hope to be paired with her?”
Victoria pursed her lips and thought carefully about what she was going to say. “Well, nothing against Carlota but I was hoping to get a more intellectual partner. Besides, my t-shirt isn’t blue. I think she’ll be disappointed, for many reasons!”
“Well don’t keep us in suspense! Let’s see if you’re in your home or away colours.”
The footballer took off her jacket and placed it on the floor in front of her. “It’s away,” she said, stretching her arms out to reveal her yellow t-shirt and black shorts. As Nicki had suspected, Victoria wasn’t as strongly built as Carlota, instead being thinner.
“I suppose that if anyone chants ‘come on you reds’, they won’t be chanting for you. Maybe they’ll be chanting for our next contestant,” said Nicki, moving over to the next woman. She was quite tall too, about the same height as the host, and curvier than the previous two contestants. She had long, straight black hair and incredibly fair skin, with jet black varnish on each of her nails. Unlike the rest of the contestants, the zip on her jacket was undone slightly at the top, giving a tiny peep hole at her cleavage. “There’s a pattern emerging! Contestant three, tell us about yourself!”
“My mortal name is Tanya Steele, and I have come here from Sheffield to partake in the game today. I am a singer, a musician and a poet.”
“And a goth, I’m guessing?”
Tanya chuckled to herself quietly. “I suppose I fit that descriptor.”
“So erm, what kind of partner are you looking for?” asked Nicki.
“I’m not as concerned with physical or mental capabilities as the two sportswomen. I’m more interested in the spiritual aspects. I need someone whose soul I am in synchronicity with. My impression is that this game is just as much about synergy as it is about running or thinking,” the goth reasoned.
Nicki thought about Tanya’s words briefly. “I see what you mean but to be honest, it’s mostly about covering you lot in gunge and laughing at you.”
“The others more than myself, of course.”
“Sure, why not?” Nicki said, dismissively. “So, let’s see which team you’re on.”
Tanya bent over and looked seductively into the camera. She slowly undid the zip on her fleece and turned around, letting the jacket fall to the floor elegantly off her back. Underneath she was wearing a red vest top and black sports briefs. “I’m someone’s lady in red tonight,” she said, looking to the camera and winking.
“Good grief,” sighed Nicki. “So, we have the start of our three teams here as we go onto contestant number four.” She stepped over to the next player. This one was of a fairly average height, and was the first one to actually be shorter than the host. She had curly ginger hair, fair skin, freckles, brown eyes and a rather ample chest. “Contestant four, introduce yourself.”
“I’m Niamh Breen,” said the girl, very quietly. Despite the lack of volume, she had a very clear Irish accent, though Nicki couldn’t quite place it. “I’m from Belfast and I work in a library.”
“You’ve come a long way just to be slopped up, haven’t you?” grinned the presenter. Niamh blushed a little, though Nicki wasn’t really sure why. “I always thought libraries were supposed to be quiet, clean and ordered. This must be quite a different sort of place for you.”
Niamh felt choked up, but managed to say something. “I don’t mind! I’m just here to win the money!”
“And what kind of partner are you hoping to win said money with?”
“Someone kind, patient, supportive and good at sports. I really don’t want to sound too awful when I say this, but I think I got someone very different to that!” squeaked the Irish girl.
Nicki smirked to the camera. “Well, she doesn’t think her partner will be good at sports. I wonder who she’s paired with!”
Almost taking that as a cue, Niamh turned away from the camera and unzipped her jacket. She took it off and shyly dropped it to her side, revealing herself to be wearing a red t-shirt over her stomach and considerable bosom. “I’m on Tanya’s team. I hope I don’t ruin things for you!”
“Tanya, get over here!” Nicki called out. On cue, the gothic Yorkshirewoman stepped over to Nicki and Niamh. “I can tell you now that Niamh; you were actually Tanya’s first choice of partner. As for you Tanya, you were Niamh’s third choice, behind Victoria and Erin, the latter of whom we’ll meet in a moment.” The host looked to Tanya first. The goth had a bright smile on her darkly made-up face, and seemed to have given her top lip a little lick with such subtlety that Nicki didn’t notice. “You got your first choice of partner. You must be happy with that.”
“Indeed, Nicole. There are many things in this world that can bring pain, and many that bring pleasure. This would fall into the second category.”
Nicki cleared her throat. “Well, that’s good then. What made you put Niamh as your first choice?”
Tanya’s eyes danced up and down Niamh’s body, lingering for a second on the Irishwoman’s chest. “Well, I just thought she would prove to be more fun to play alongside than the others!”
“As for you, Niamh, how do you feel about being with Tanya?”
Niamh’s face turned red. “Nervous!”
“Don’t you worry, Niamh. I’m sure you and I will vanquish our foes in this contest, crushing them beneath our boots like worms!” smiled Tanya.
“We’re uh… well, not wearing boots.”
“I’m a poet. It is in my nature to have the occasional moment of being poetic!”
Niamh nodded meekly. “Okay then!”
“And that’s the red team. If you go stand behind the red podium, we can meet our next player and see which team she’s on,” said Nicki. The reds did so, leaving the feisty presenter with the two athletes and two other contestants. She walked over to the next one. “Player five, introduce yourself.”
Player five was more of a plain, cute girl than the others, with a very youthful face and hazel eyes. She lacked Tanya’s curves, Niamh’s cleavage or Victoria’s slimness, but she wasn’t flabby or ugly in any way. Her brunette hair was styled in a bob. Like Niamh, she was wearing leggings. “I’m Erin Milner and I’m a psychology student at Derby,” she said, sweetly smiling.
Nicki nodded, unimpressed. “There are two kinds of students: those who study hard and the other kind. Which are you?”
Erin laughed. “If you mean the kind who party hard, then that one!”
“I hope your choice of partner isn’t based on how many drinks they can down in a minute.”
“No no! My first choice was who I thought the best teammate would be, just based on what I saw of her personality,” explained the party animal. “I guess I should reveal who my actual teammate is now?”
“Not yet. Let’s keep Carlota and Victoria in suspense for just a little bit longer,” Nicki said, walking over to the final contestant. It was a short, rather scrawny-looking girl with hair in messy black waves. She had glasses framing her blue eyes. “Finally, number six. Introduce yourself.”
“I’m Helen Cogswell, and I study physics at Durham University. Unlike my good rival over there, I’m far more of the intellectual-type, the kind of student who is there to study rather than to fraternise,” she said, grinning smugly and pushing her glasses up her nose.
Nicki tried to resist laughing too loudly at the geeky-looking girl’s smugness. “Well, I don’t think I need to ask anything more about you! So, what are you looking for in a teammate?”
“Brawn,” Helen stated, dryly. “Like I said, I can provide the intellect while my partner deals with physical challenges. Seeing as I’m going to be on a team with someone physically-inclined, that works well.”
“Well, yes. All that’s left is to see which one of you is going with which person. I’m sure you know by now how that’s revealed.” Helen and Erin nodded and unzipped their fleece tops and placed them on the floor. Underneath, Erin was wearing a blue vest top while Helen had a yellow t-shirt with black shorts. “Okay, Carlota is with Erin and Victoria’s with Helen,” Nicki announced as the two athletes walked over. “Let’s start with the blue team. Carlota, you put Erin as your second choice. That works great for you, doesn’t it?”
Carlota smiled. “I wanted Victoria as my first choice, simply because she’s probably the only one who can keep up with me, but while Erin’s not a sportswoman, she’s neither scrawny and nor is she just eye candy.”
“Thanks?” Erin said, rather flustered.
“As for Erin… well, I think she should tell you where she put you in her preferences!” Nicki gave the party girl an evil grin. “Tell her!”
Erin buried her face in her hands, turning away in embarrassment. “I put you last! I’m sorry! It’s just I had to put someone and you seemed the least friendly when we were meeting each other!”
“Well, since you apologised, we shouldn’t have a problem,” said the muscular girl, patting Erin on the back.
“Thank you, blue team. You go to the blue podium while I chat with the yellows,” said Nicki. The blues walked to their podium. “So yellow team, you’ll be quite happy to know that not only were you each other’s first choices, but apart from Tanya, everyone put Victoria as their first choice of partner.”
Victoria beamed with jubilation. “Really? Basically everyone thought I’d be the best teammate?”
“It’s only natural,” said Helen. “Even if we don’t factor in the frankly baffling obsession this nation has with association football, you possess numerous attributes that would suggest you are a good partner for a physically-based gameshow. These attributes include an amiable temperament, peak physical condition and a career path which involves getting wet and dirty with some frequency. It was these attributes that placed you at the number one position of my preference list.”
“And I’m not entirely sure what you said, but the fact it sounds smart shows why I put you at number one.”
“So I take it you’re both fairly confident of winning, Nicki said. The yellows nodded. “Excellent. Take your place at the podium and we can begin the game!” The three teams now in place, a fourth podium emerged from the floor. It was directly across from the three teams, facing them. Nicki stood behind it and placed her microphone in a little stand. The stand had a card attached to it. “Before each game, there’s going to be a little quiz round. In this one, I’ve got three questions and each one is worth an increasing number of points, starting at 10 and going up by 10 each time. If you buzz in and get it right, you win the points.”
Suzi walked onto the stage, wheeling on a wheelbarrow with a bucket dangling off one of the handles, and a folding chair off the other handle. Inside the wheelbarrow was some bright pink gunge. Suzi herself had clearly washed her arm after its earlier dip in the goo. “Hey Nicki. I’m here to dish out punishments for wrong answers!”
“Good timing, Suzi. I was about to start the first lot of quiz questions.”
“Our teams have only just been allocated, right? So, I think we should have a special rule for this first round,” Suzi said, unfolding the chair and putting it next to the wheelbarrow. “If someone gets a question wrong, then their partner should come up here and take a bucketful.”
Nicki looked to her co-host skeptically. “Why would we do that?”
“It’s to encourage a sense of team spirit! The teams have to trust your partner even more now, since it’s about more than just points.”
“That’s… actually quite clever,” said the main presenter. “You impress me occasionally, Suzi. Okay, so those are the rules. Buzz in if you think you know, and if it turns out you don’t then we gunge your teammate. First question for ten points is: Which football team’s supporters are called the Toon Army?”
Immediately, the yellow team’s podium lit up, accompanied with a loud trilling bell.
“Of course you’d answer, Victoria!”
Victoria laughed to herself. “It’s Newcastle.”
“It is, and you get 10 points. Next question, for 20 points: What is the main religion in Malaysia?”
The three teams all conferred, before eventually Tanya pressed her button. “I hope this is correct, but I’m going to with Buddhism.”
“Yeah, it’s not Buddhism. It’s actually Islam,” said Nicki, dismissively.
Suzi patted the seat of her folding chair. “Time for the first gunging of the night, Niamh!”
The curly redhead gave a petrified gaze similar to a small animal caught in the headlights of an oncoming van. Her heart raced as Tanya gave her an apologetic smile and patted her on the back. Niamh took a deep breath and resigned herself to the gunging. As Suzi had said, it was just the first gunging of the night, and probably just a taste of what was to come. Though, that was partly what scared her – the fact that as messy as she was about to get, it was only going to get worse from here on out. She stepped down and sat in the chair, eyes shut tightly, head lowered and hands gripping tightly to the armrests. As Suzi tipped a bucketful of the thick, pink ooze, Niamh curled her toes and let out a moan. “It’s cold!” she shouted as it surged through her lovely ginger locks and down the back of her t-shirt. Suzi moved the bucket forward, dumping slime into her victim’s lap and onto her lower legs. The goop formed a big puddle at Niamh’s feet, which made a rather loud squelch as she stood up.
“Did you enjoy that, Niamh?” Suzi smiled.
Niamh ran her hands through her hair and winced. She smiled a little, despite the cold sticky sensation. “Not really!” she said, blushing, though nobody could tell thanks to her hair covering most of her face. She walked back to Tanya. “Please don’t get the last question wrong.”
“My apologies, Neevy,” said Tanya, going in to hug Niamh, but deciding not to. “I shall make up for this mishap.”
“We’ll have to see about that. The third and final question of this round: for thirty points, tell me how many sharp notes there are in the A Major scale.”
Immediately, Tanya slammed her hand down on the buzzer. “Three, and they are C-sharp, F-Sharp and G-sharp.”
“That is correct, but there are no extra points for saying exactly which notes they are,” said Nicki, putting the card down. “So at the end of the first quiz round the blue team are yet to score or do much of anything, the yellow team have ten points and despite Niamh’s messiness, the red team are in the lead with 30! Suzi, thanks for helping out with the game.”
Suzi gave a little curtsey. “No problem! I need to go backstage and get ready for the first proper game. Join us after the break!”
“Hey, I’m the one who calls the breaks!” Nicki shouted, pushing Suzi backwards. The white-clad brunette fell bum-first into the wheelbarrow, with a big splash. Nicki then scooped some of the gunge up into a bucket and dumped the whole thing on Suzi’s head. “We’ll be right back.”
So that was the first part of my new game show idea story. I know it was pretty mess-lite compared to most of my other work, especially considering the length of it, but it will pick up in the next few rounds.