It was post-game shower time once again, and Tanya was cleaning up by herself, as Helen and Niamh had decided to just wash their hair and skin rather than try and clean their outfits too. Victoria entered, and placed her right hand on Tanya’s left shoulder. “You are formidable,” she said. Her hand made a squelchy noise as the gunge splurged between her fingers. “I must admit, I didn’t expect you and Niamh to make it past the first elimination.”
“Well, thank you very much. If the blue team hadn’t made a significant strategic error, I rather doubt we would have.” Tanya moved Victoria’s hand away and turned to face the yellow team member. “I do not understand why they put Erin up against us.”
“I know! I’m a midfielder, so nobody in their right mind would put me in goal. It’s the same thing,” explained Victoria, turning the shower next to Tanya on. “So, what do you think of Helen?”
Tanya massaged some shampoo into her scalp and rinsed the lather out of her hair, before looking to Victoria. “In which manner are you speaking?”
“I mean like, you and her speak so like, I dunno… Hoity-toity, I guess? Especially to each other. What’s up with that?”
“If by hoity-toity you mean with a poetic flair befitting of a troubadour and princess of darkness like myself, that’s just how I am. I suppose she and I have some common ground that’s not so obvious.”
Victoria laughed as the warm shower water washed over her. “You’re both pretty geeky in a way!”
“Well, I suppose it is obvious then!” Tanya chuckled. “Maybe it’s obvious to you since you’re the antithesis of geeky.”
“The antithesis means the reverse, contrast, opposite and so on. You’re a sportswoman, so I’d assume that you’re not interested in the typically geeky pursuits,” Tanya explained.
Victoria shrugged her shoulders. “Actually, you’d be surprised. You would not believe how therapeutic it is to just slob out and play some videogames after a game!”
“You make your living by playing a game and then spend your free time playing games?”
“I do! I even went to a convention the year before I signed for the Amazons,” the blonde smiled. “It was actually really fun. I wish I could have gone back, but you know… work.”
“Did you cosplay?”
Victoria laughed nervously. “Yeah, I went as Samus Aran from the Metroid games, in her Zero Suit form.”
“I get the impression you wanted an excuse to wear a skin-tight PVC catsuit in public,” Tanya said with a wink. “Not that I can judge. I mean, I did pick the most revealing options for my outfit!” Just then, a woman in jeans, a white polo shirt and white trainers entered. She had long, straight dark hair and smooth mocha skin. From her face she seemed to be in her late teens, perhaps her early twenties at most. She had a slightly pointed chin and nose, but Tanya seemed to find her cute, greeting her with a sultry, “Well hello!”
“Uh, hi!” the girl blushed. She’d been told that Tanya was flirty, but she wasn’t expecting that! Nevertheless, she had been given a job and carried it out. “You’re needed on-set. The hosts and your team mates are waiting!”
Just then, Natalie could be heard yelling from nearby. “Saleena! Have you found the other contestants yet?”
“Just told them to get on the set!” she yelled back. “My boss is waiting too, and it’s my first day so I don’t want to piss her off!”
Victoria nodded and left the shower through the blow-dry doorway. Tanya followed behind, hugging Saleena on the way out. “Good luck with your job!” she said, holding the girl tightly and soaking her top. Saleena squealed a bit, but didn’t make a big deal about it. Sliding out of the Goth’s embrace wasn’t going to be difficult, after all, and she could just follow them behind. Still, it was a hell of a way to start a new job…
With only twenty points separating the teams, the four remaining players felt psyched up for the next game. As they walked out to the set, they saw the blue team still wallowing in the great gunge pit, with Carlota looking particularly annoyed at the fact that they didn’t seem to be leaving any time soon. Suzi was stood by the gunge pool, a camera pointed at her. “If I was Carlota, I would be making the most of it,” said Helen.
“How so?” asked Niamh.
“I certainly wouldn’t just be stood there, arms folded and pouting, glaring at anyone and everyone!”
Victoria, not particularly fussed about being in swimwear, put her right arm around her teammate. “You’re not going to be in there anyway, if all goes to plan!”
Helen rolled her eyes and wriggled out of the hug. “I’m not worried, Victoria! You do not to be as affectionate towards me as our rivals clearly seem to be towards one another!”
“Oh, fine!” Victoria laughed as they took their position on their podium, the reds doing the same.
“And we’re rolling!” the director called out.
Suzi looked into the camera and spoke. “Welcome back to The Pairing Game. Before the break we sent the blue team into the vat of sludge behind me,” she said, gesturing, “and after the next two games, we’ll be sending either the reds or the yellows to join them. Right now the reds are on the path towards the gunge with one-hundred and eighty points against the yellows’ two-hundred, but that’s not a huge margin and like I said, we’ve got more games coming up. First though, Nicki’s got another quiz round.” She looked over to her co-host, who was stood behind the quiz podium.
“Indeed I have. Now, on the application form we asked our players to name their specialist subject. I know, totally a rip-off of Mastermind,” Nicki said with a wry grin. “That’s why we’re not going to ask them questions on their own specialist subjects! I’ve got six questions for each team, and each one adds ten points to their total. However, the reds will be answering questions on Carlota, Victoria and Helen’s subjects, and the yellows will be answering questions on Erin, Niamh and Tanya’s questions. It’ll be two questions per subject, with a relevant mess for each wrong answer,” she explained, pointing up to the rafters, where Natalie was stood with twelve buckets. “Yellows, since you’re currently ahead, I’ll give you the choice of going first or second.”
Victoria and Helen whispered to each other briefly, before the geeky one answered. “It would create additional pressure on our rivals if they went second. Therefore, we shall go first.”
“Very well. Erin’s specialist subject was pretty predictable for a self-styled party girl: cocktails! I could go for a few cocktails after we’re done here. Suzi, you can come too if you can get yourself cleaned up enough before the bars close!” Nicki giggled. “Seriously though, your first question is to name the missing ingredient from a ‘chi chi’. It’s vodka, pineapple juice and what else?”
“And I suppose we’ll be doused with the missing ingredient if we’re wrong?” Helen sighed, rolling her eyes.
Nicki shrugged. “You’re probably right, but you don’t get extra points.”
“Well, I don’t drink so this is probably the worst subject for me,” said Helen, looking to Victoria.
“I’ve never heard of a Chi Chi before,” Victoria laughed nervously. “Milk?”
Nicki looked at the answer, then at Victoria. “No. It’s coconut cream.” On cue, Natalie poured the bucket over the yellow team. It was thick, almost like a paste, and as such fell slowly, but splattered down on Victoria’s head in a big lump. Natalie moved the bucket across, spreading the falling cream over to Helen. It mostly stayed in place, but sank into their hair. Victoria tried to run her hands through her hair to get it out, but it just spread the cream through her once-blonde ponytail, covering it to the tip. “Oh dear, that looks so awful,” Nicki said, though with a mean smirk on her face. “You don’t want to get the rest wrong, or maybe you do just so it dislodges that coconut cream!”
Helen stared daggers at the red-haired host. “Your sympathy is heart-warming.”
“I try! Now for your second question: What is a ‘pousse-café’?”
“Sounds like something to do with coffee,” Helen shrugged.
Victoria shook her head. “I think it’s one of those weird drinks that’s in a load of layers.”
“Well, you’d know better than I on this.”
“Okay,” said Victoria, turning to Nicki. “It’s a cocktail made up of different drinks in layers.”
Nicki nodded. “You’re right and get ten points. Now we’ve got Niamh’s subject, and it’s one very close to our hearts here at The Pairing Game: game shows! This really must be a dream come true for you, Niamh!”
The Irish girl blushed. “Y-yeah!”
“Well, you hang fire a moment while I finish with the yellows. Question three: Revenge of the Egghead was a spinoff of Eggheads featuring which Egghead?” Nicki asked before quietly adding, “Never thought I’d say ‘egghead’ so many times in one sentence.”
Victoria looked to Niamh. “I don’t want to get egged! Help me out here!”
“I should add that you don’t need to get the full name,” said Nicki.
“That’s just as well, because I know it was CJ, but I don’t know his last name!”
“It’s de Mooi if you’re wondering, but you get the points either way. Now, “I once applied to be on Get Your Own Back when I was a kid. This was way back when they had the three messes that made up the gunge poised above the grown-up on the Gunk Dunk. There was snot, there was the R.A.W., or ‘really awful waste’, and there was what else?” Nicki asked.
Victoria and Helen looked blankly at each other. “I never watched that!” Helen snapped.
“I should have you gunged on principle,” Nicki muttered.
“I don’t remember that. I thought it just had the ramp and the crowd yelling ‘crank him up’?” Victoria said, trying desperately to recall it. “I’m going to guess that it was pig blood?”
A shrill yell of “Really?!” pierced the air. Niamh was looking quite amazed that the yellows got it wrong – almost offended, in fact.
“I take it you know the answer? Not that there are points on offer since it’s not your question,” said Nicki.
“Yeah, school custard!”
Nicki nodded. “Indeed.” Natalie tipped the custard over Helen first. It wasn’t as thick or sticky as the coconut cream, and poured fairly smoothly. The skin on the top stretched and dissipated, and the custard itself splashed on Helen’s stained hair quite spectacularly, sending droplets not only onto Victoria, but also onto Tanya. The blue-haired techie then poured the rest onto Victoria, with much the same result. “At least your hair’s yellow again, Victoria,” Nicki smiled.
The footballer pouted. “At least you used something tasty to get it that way!”
“I do like a tasty blonde!” Tanya winked.
“Save the flirting for off-camera.” Nicki shot a glare at the Goth. “Tanya gave you a subject that, if my boyfriend were on your team, you’d be safe from further mess. Her subject is women in metal.”
“Of course it is,” Helen said, rolling her eyes.
Nicki chuckled. “Your penultimate question is about Evanescence. Specifically, which film did their debut single Bring Me to Life feature in?”
“Daredevil!” Helen said, almost immediately.
“No hesitation there! You’re right! Final question now: Simone Simons is the lead singer of which band?”
The two look at each other blankly again. “I don’t know who that is,” said Victoria.
“You wanna make something up and hope that it’s right?”
Helen shrugged her shoulders. “It’s as good a way of doing it as any,” she said, turning to Nicki. “The Deathkillers?”
“Good name, but no. It’s Epica, and there’s a video in which Simone gets completely covered in sticky black ooze,” Nicki explained as thick, oily goo fell down on Victoria. Natalie decided that the hair had taken enough punishment and so aimed for the shoulders and chest. The yellow t-shirt quickly turned black, great streaks running all down Victoria’s body and legs. The footballer smiled bravely as the oily gunge covered her, but luckily for her it ended quickly. After all, Helen needed to get messed too. The geek squirmed as the sludge trailed down her body, covering her. “Well, since you got thirty points there, the red team need the full sixty to take the lead. Best of luck with that one!” Nicki chuckled, turning her podium. “Okay red team, your first question is about Carlota’s specialist subject: Healthy eating!”
Niamh looked to her body and blushed. While not overweight, she was the chubbiest of the women there. “I think Tanya’s on her own for these ones!”
“I don’t eat that healthily myself, Niamh,” the Goth said, quietly.
“But you’re so thin…”
“We’ll talk about it later! Can we just have the question?” Tanya snapped, waving her arms in a flustered manner.
Raising her right eyebrow, Nicki read the question. “Your first question: What is the main ingredient of hummus?”
“I think I know that, actually,” Niamh said, meekly looking to Tanya. She was worried that she’d upset her teammate, but didn’t want to say anything about it with the cameras rolling. “If I remember right, it’s made from chickpeas.”
“Well, I do not know the answer myself, so I shall defer to your judgement,” said Tanya.
“So you’re saying ‘chickpeas’?” Nicki asked, looking at the red team sternly. “You’re right. Question two is this: Borecole is a vegetable that can be used in all sorts of things, but what is it more commonly called?”
The red team both looked at Nicki blankly. “Well, I for one have no idea whatsoever. How about you, Tanya?”
“I would guess that it’s broccoli, but I would only be guessing. However, without an alternative answer, it’s all we can go with. If you’re okay with that, I am too.”
“Okay, broccoli,” Niamh said, smiling with false confidence.
“Well, I can tell you that you’re about to see one use for borecole, or to use the name that people actually use for it, kale,” the presenter smirked.
Natalie picked up a bucket and tipped it up over Tanya’s head. “I hope you two like smoothies!” she said. The smoothie had a very slimy texture. It was a rather vivid green and opaque, and splattered down on Tanya’s hair and ran down her face, dripping off her chin and down her cleavage. Niamh giggled as she watched her teammate get covered with kale smoothie, knowing full-well that she was going to get it next. As Natalie moved the bucket across, Niamh tilted her head back and closed her eyes, smiling sweetly. She wiped her face a few times, displacing the gooey smoothie from her eyes to her body and fingers. Since it was quite runny, it ran out quickly but also ran down the red team’s bodies and legs, leaving bright green trails that went all the way down to their toes. Tanya sighed and wiped her eyes.
“Ooh, that’s put me right off kale for life,” Nicki laughed. “The next two questions are about the Premier League, courtesy of Victoria. Which team is known as The Toffees?”
“Well, the only overlap between football and confectionary I can think of is the Everton mint,” said Tanya.
Niamh smiled. “I love those! So, do we go with Everton?”
“Why would a team that shares its name with a mint be called The Toffees? That makes no sense whatsoever,” reasoned Tanya.
“Because there’s toffee inside them!”
“Oh… Then yes, I suppose it would have some logic. Okay, Everton, final answer.”
Nicki chuckled. “Do I detect some disarray in the red team’s ranks? Regardless, you’re right. Question four: In which position did Stoke City finish last season?”
“I have no idea,” said Niamh.
“Me neither, and so far we’ve managed to get one question right through knowledge and one through something of a leap of logic. I would say the odds are against us,” Tanya pondered, looking to Nicki. “I don’t suppose there’s any chance you could give us a multiple choice for this?”
“Sure! You’ve got twenty possible options – first, through to twentieth!” Nicki giggled, revelling in the reds’ misfortune.
“Very useful, o benevolent hostess,” Tanya quipped, before looking to Niamh. “I think we should go towards the middle.”
The Goth nodded. “We’ll go with tenth.”
“I would say it pains me to say you were close, but it doesn’t pain me at all! Stoke ended up coming ninth. You know they’re also called The Potters? Hence the mess you’re about to get,” Nicki explained.
On cue, Natalie tipped up a bucket, sending thick, muddy clay down on Niamh. It splattered on her head, trashing her ginger locks. She shuddered at how cold and wet it was, before watching Tanya get splattered. The black-haired lady closed her eyes tightly and moaned as the clay splattered over her head, staining her raven-coloured hair. The clay snagged in the red team’s hair and wouldn’t drop.
Nicki was wincing on the inside. The clay looked like one of the nastiest messes she’d seen on the show so far, and she could only begin to imagine how bad it would be for the reds to wash it out. She wouldn’t enjoy having any mess in her own hair, but this was particularly bad, and quite easy to imagine – not least because her own hair had Tanya’s straightness and Naimh’s colour. On the outside, however, she remained the usual domineering matriarch. “You’ll be pleased to know you’re on the last category, and it’s Helen’s one – chemistry! She actually put down ‘bachelor’s degree-level chemistry with a focus on matter structure’, but the producers thought that might be near impossible for anyone else! This isn’t University Challenge, after all. Question five: Which of these is the hottest? One-hundred degrees Celsius, 100 Fahrenheit, or 100 Kelvin?”
“Oh! I remember that Celsius is like, Kelvin minus about 270,” Niamh squeaked excitedly. “So 100 Kelvin would be about -170 Celsius.”
Tanya laughed. “How do you know that?”
“Nicki’s right – this isn’t University Challenge, but I do watch it sometimes. There’s a good reason game shows are my speciality!”
The Yorkshire Goth shrugged her shoulders. “If you say so, love. I know 100 C is hotter than 100 F too, so that would make it the hottest.”
“Is that your final answer?” Nicki asked. The red team nodded. “You’re right! Ten points! Now for your final question: Which metal gives off a green flame when it burns?”
Niamh and Tanya looked blankly back at Nicki. “I was under the impression that all solid matter burned with a yellow, red or orange glow, or possibly white if it was hot enough,” said Tanya.
“Well, copper statues are green, so maybe it’s that?”
“Why would the colour of the material be related to the colour of the flame?” Tanya scoffed. “Then again, it’s not like I have a better idea. A pox upon it all, let’s go with copper!”
“You’re right to go with copper, actually!” Nicki says, slightly perplexed by Niamh’s ability to pluck useful information out of nowhere. “I’d heard about luck of the Irish, but wow! So at the end of that round, the yellows get thirty points and the reds forty, putting them at 230 and 220 respectively. I think you gals should go and hose up quickly while Suzi explains the next game.”
Suzi was stood in the game area, cleaned up as well as she could be. Thankfully the last round hadn’t been too messy for her, and this one didn’t look like it would be too bad either. There were two large, circular pools of water. They were a few metres deep, with some rather large ice cubes floating on the top. At the bottom were some plastic squares, about half a metre across, with a pattern embossed on them. There was also a pair of gunge tanks in the game area, with a pattern engraved into the back wall. The gunge tanks not only had the usual hole in the top for gunge to pour out of, but also holes in the bottom, and a narrow slot about half-way through.
“This game is the Icy Dive. Our teams are going to be divided up, with one member stood in a gunge tank. The other has to get them out. It’s pretty simple, really,” she said, walking over to the pools. “The one who isn’t in the tank has to dive in and grab one of the panels from these pools of ice water.” The brunette presenter looked down and tightly closed her eyes. She took a deep breath and jumped in, holding her breath until she reached the bottom, grabbed one of the panels and resurfaced. Her once-white-now-multicoloured dress went rather transparent, showing that underneath she was wearing a white bikini. She shivered as she finished explaining the game. “Th-then they have to get out the pool and give the panel to their team mate, who then puts the panel in its proper place. Whoever gets out first wins 100 points for their team. The losing team gets 10 points for each panel in the tank, 10 points per panel in place, and there are four panels in each pool.” She then dumped her panel back in the pool as the teams entered the game area.
All four players had managed to get rid of most of the mess from the quiz round, but their hair looked really messy, having only had a quick towel dry rather than the blow-dry and brushing they’d been having all day. Hannah’s hair was fairly dry, but the others still seemed to have rather damp hair. Victoria’s ponytail looked rather scruffy, and Niamh’s curls seemed to be more like some sort of orange noodles. Tanya’s wasn’t too bad, and she didn’t seem to mind her long, straight hair almost sticking to her shoulders.
“Oh, and one other thing!” Suzi added. “We’re going to decide who goes in the tank entirely by luck! Now, I need a coin.” As she said that, Saleena entered and gave her a fifty-pence piece. “That’ll do nicely.” She flipped it and caught it in her left hand, covering it quickly. “Helen, heads or tails,” she asked, looking to the reds.
“You’re right, so Victoria goes in the tank,” Suzi said, opening the door for the footballer. Victoria frowned as she entered. She was hoping that since she was the more athletic of the two, she’d be the one to retrieve the panels while Helen sorted them. However, there were eight panels and they were supposed to go all over the back wall. No doubt her height would be of some help.
Suzi then looked to the reds and flipped again. “Niamh, you call it.”
“It’s heads again!” Suzi gasped, before looking at the coin. “And it’s a legit coin too,” she said, handing it back to Saleena. The assistant walked off-stage as Niamh smiled nervously and stepped into the gunge tank. Suzi shut the doors, and they locked with a loud clunk. “Right, everyone’s in position, and the game’s ready, so begin!”
Victoria and Niamh could only cheer for their team mates as Helen and Tanya plunged into the frigid water. The small geek squealed as the water surged through her clothes, but caught her breath and dived underwater.
Meanwhile Tanya took to the water and dived deep, grabbing a panel and climbing out the pool. She stepped up to Niamh’s gunge tank and posted the panel through the slot. As she did, thick, lime green gunge began to rise up from the tank floor. It had the consistency of creamy pudding and was warm to the touch. Niamh squirmed as the gunge covered her soles and seeped between her toes. Nevertheless, she looked at the back of the panel and saw three embossed rings, which matched one of the engravings on the tank wall.
Once Niamh placed the panel in the wall, lilac sludge began to drip from the top of Victoria’s tank. The football player shuddered as a drop landed on her nose, then as more of the same goo rose from the floor. It was however a good sign that gunge was covering her bare feet, as it meant Helen had delivered her first panel. Victoria looked at the back and tried to find a seven-point star pattern on the tank wall.
Meanwhile in the water tanks, Tanya was having a great time, dropping into the water and quickly fishing out another panel. She deposited it in Niamh’s tank and took her vest off, showing off a black and red bikini top, starkly contrasting with her alabaster skin. The other contestants blushed and the crowd whooped. The gunge at Niamh’s feet began to rise up, covering her ankles. It was an incredible amount of stimulation for the Irish girl, whose inability to process just what was happening meant she didn’t notice the green stuff dripping from the roof of the tank. She let out a content sigh and picked up the second panel, dipping her hands into the rising slime. The back of the panel had a pentagon embossed on it, making it easy to place on the wall. She giggled as the gunge drizzling on Victoria’s head began to ooze out the ceiling of the tank as a thin stream.
The blonde screamed in shock as the gunge fell on her face. “Come on, Helen!” she yelled, trying not to stand in the falling goo. Not that it mattered much as the gunge beneath her feet was rising too, to the point that it was only just shallower than Niamh’s gunge. Helen was also moving slower than Tanya, giving the reds a significant edge – indeed, as Victoria placed her second panel in place, a second trickle of gunge opened up above her.
Niamh was having a blast in her tank. Her scantily clad teammate had just posted her the final panel, leaving her knee-deep in the creamy green goop, but also needing to bend down to get the panel, all while more gunge trickled over her from above. The ginger girl bent her knees, quietly moaning with pleasure as her bum sank into the gunge, forcing the sludge into the back of her leggings. She lifted the panel into place and pushed it into the gap and immediately a klaxon blared. Niamh watched jealously as the trickling gunge above Victoria turned into a huge deluge, soaking the sportswoman to her skin. Victoria looked down and closed her eyes as the gunge rushed down her already splattered head and onto her bust. Before long, she was totally covered and pouting, annoyed that despite performing to her utmost ability, she was not only defeated but also covered in slime.
Suzi entered the game area. “Wow, what a round!” she said, looking at the four players. Tanya was barely dressed, and her long black hair clung to her shoulders. With her shirt off, it was clear just how slender she really was. Helen was equally sodden, but had chosen to preserve her modesty as best as she could, but a bright yellow t-shirt wasn’t a great choice over a black bra in that regard. Niamh was a bit gooey, and more than happy about it. Victoria, far gungier and far unhappier. The sportswoman was covered top to toe, partly thanks to the huge puddle that had formed in the bottom of the tank and come up to her thighs. She clenched her fists and frowned as Suzi announced the results of the round. “It was close too. Reds, you managed to gunge Victoria, so you get the full hundred points. Yellows, Helen just managed to get the last panel to Victoria, but she didn’t quite get it in place in time, so you get seventy points. Nicki, what’s that done to the scores?”
Back at her podium, Nicki announced the scores. “The yellows now have 300 points, but the reds have taken the lead with 320! There’s still one more quiz round and a game before the second elimination though, so don’t get too comfortable, red team! Find out what happens after the break.”
Promises A-Z, delivers The Pairing game. Typical me, really. A-Z’s coming, though, along with a new show idea I’ve had. Well, I use the term “new” loosely!