The ‘applause’ sign was raised, the gold lettering lowered. Shawna strode through the archway in a figure-hugging green dress. She waved confidently to the audience and cameras; she’d built up a high profile over the previous series.
“WE’RE BACK!!” she shouted, spreading her arms wide. “Welcome to a new series of Saturday Splatdown – a competition of epic sloppiness, fantastic prizes and dreaded forfeits!”
The audience cheered some more.
“It’s out with the old, in with the new,” Shawna continued, gesturing the revamped studio. “And that includes my assistant. Yes, I’m afraid Lindsey played one prank too many on me,” she remarked icily, “so her contract wasn’t renewed. But in her place, please give a warm welcome to Tricia!”
A slender light-brunette strolled out in an elegant fuchsia frock, visibly more confident than Lindsey in her maiden entrance.
“Tricia! Welcome to the team!” gushed Shawna. “Were you a fan of the first series?”
“A huge fan,” Tricia recited from one of the show’s typically wooden scripts. “Right from the start.”
“Then you’ll remember our very first contestants – Hannah and Bethany versus their friends Eve and Jenny. Let’s take a look.”
A montage relived that epic battle: the messy highlights of the games, the eventual victory of the reds, the blues boarding the Train of Terror in the losers’ bikinis before ending their journey unrecognizable.
“A sticky end for the blues there,” chuckled Shawna. “But guess what? Those suckers are back for more!”
Tricia nodded. “Please welcome back Eve and Jenny!”
The two girls emerged. Jenny flashed a sunny grin that mirrored her long, blonde hair as she scooted into the limelight. Eve, who’d had her brunette locks cut shoulder-length since the previous appearance, entered more warily. Both wore strapless dresses – Jenny’s red with white flower patterns, Eve’s cream with bead decorations – and had blue sashes around their waists.
Shawna hugged the pair. “Hey ladies! Great to see you looking spick and span again! How long did the clean-up take?”
“No comment,” said Eve sourly.
“And have your pals Hannah and Bethany stopped ribbing you yet?”
“Oh dear, nerves a little raw still,” Shawna teased. “Which begs the question: why risk it all again?”
“For the vacation,” said Jenny, unhesitating. “Bethany and Hannah’s snaps looked fabulous.”
“And we will win this time,” added Eve, flashing Jenny an icy glare to say she wouldn’t tolerate failure.
“Time will tell,” smirked Shawna. “We don’t usually grant second chances, but we’re making an exception here.”
Tricia took up the thread. “You may recall that last time, Eve and Jenny, along with Hannah and Bethany, were en route from a wedding. Well, tonight the blues will face off against the bride and her bridesmaid! Please welcome the red team: Yulia and her sister Sofia!”
Here Comes the Bride peeled as Yulia strode out in a strapless white wedding gown. Sofia, slightly taller, followed in her sister’s shadow, wearing a royal purple bridesmaid’s dress with lacy straps. Both wore red sashes at the waist. The bride had chestnut hair, tied up under a veil, while Sofia’s sandy locks flowed freely.
“Welcome to Saturday Splatdown! And many congratulations on tying the knot!” beamed Shawna. “Yulia, I have to ask, is that the dress from the day itself?”
“The very one,” Yulia affirmed proudly.
Shawna feigned concern. “You do know what this show is about, don’t you?”
“You mean getting the dress messy? Your producer wouldn’t let us on unless I wore it,” huffed Yulia.
“Is that so? How mean!” Shawna exclaimed melodramatically, already knowing this. “Anyway, I hope that all of you ladies are well taped in, cos things are gonna get pretty wild. Sofia, I understand both you and your sister are nurses. Reckon your knowledge will help you in the quiz rounds?”
“Yes, and we’re fighting fit for the physical rounds too,” replied Sofia, though her shy demeanor didn’t quite back up her words.
“Well ladies, both brains and brawn will be tested tonight, and as in marriage, there’ll be an element of luck too. Your aim is to amass points in five wedding-themed rounds. Tricia, what will the higher-scoring team win?”
“Tonight’s prize is a fortnight in Rio de Janeiro!” announced Tricia, as a paradise show-reel commenced. “The Olympics may be over but the party never ends, and our winning team will score gold with sunbathing at Copacabana, samba at Ipanema, and lofty views from Christ the Redeemer. And as always, we throw in first class flights and $2,000 spending money!”
The audience wooed. The players exchanged expressions of excitement and renewed determination to win.
“Wow, what a wondrous trip,” enthused Shawna. “But on Saturday Splatdown, we don’t like losers to feel left out, so we’ve arranged a trip for them, too. That’s right, folks – the Train of Terror is back!”
Shawna gestured the notorious ride for two. The vehicle resembled a wedding car, including white ribbons. The course had a similar nuptial theme, decked in white and pastel shades, but the array of nozzles and hoppers spelled anything but matrimonial bless.
“Ooh yeah, it’s more terrifying than ever!” Shawna cackled. “But ladies, we’re not so cruel as to make you ride in those pretty frocks, so we have some alternative attire. Tricia…”
The assistant duly dropped her dress, leaving only the infamous string-bikini, which had LOSER emblazoned on each cup and down the crotch. More exhibitionist than her predecessor, Tricia grinned and wiggled her toned body to the appreciative audience.
The contestants looked less enthusiastic. Eve and Jenny knew the humiliation from last time round; Yulia and Sofia preferred not to discover it.
“An awe-inspiring prize, an awful forfeit,” Shawna summed up. “But first, the groovy games. Battle commences after a short break!”
The four girls shook hands as the scene faded to commercials.
Round 1: Get Me to the Church on Time
“This is Saturday Splatdown, and ding-dong, bells sure gonna chime!” Shawna stood at the start-line of a race track, between two open-topped rickshaw bikes in the team colors. Eve and Sofia were at the pedals, Jenny and Yulia on raised seats behind.
“In this opening round our teams have to get to church for the wedding, collecting essential items on the way. Tricia, please demonstrate.”
Tricia winced; the demise of her fuchsia dress was imminent. “Our teams must hit the road” – Tricia jogged along the track – “passing through the marketplace.” She entered a gauntlet of market stalls, from which audience volunteers chucked tomatoes, eggs and other foodstuffs, causing her to scream. “Where they must grab a bouquet – aaaaghh! – worth 10 points.” She gestured to myriad flower bunches, rising and falling on strings above.
“Then it’s to the bakers…” Relieved to escape the market, Tricia found the bakers, with jets of frosting spraying across, no safer. “…to pick up a wedding cake – yeeep! – for 20 points.” The bulky cakes moved in reverse on conveyor belts either side of the track. Grabbing one would require reaching through a cascade of strawberry syrup.
Tricia fled the bakery, her dress and hair heavily streaked with multi-colored frosting. “Next stop, the farm,” she revealed warily, “to collect a hog for the feast.”
The “farm” was a pool of mud, into which the track gently sloped. Fans blew straw across it, and giant inflatable pigs bobbed. “Your hog is worth 30 points,” Tricia said, hoping not to go further.
Shawna coughed impatiently. “Don’t play dumb, Tricia; you know what to do.”
Sighing, Tricia ventured into the mire, submerging first her expensive shoes, then the hem of her dress. She waded to above her knees before losing her footing, shrieking as she slid under. She re-emerged completely brown, thrashing amongst the pigs as the audience cheered.
“Try to avoid doing that!” laughed Shawna, doubling up with mirth as Tricia slipped and disappeared again.
Eventually Tricia was upright, immersed to her waist and plastered in mud and straw. She spat out a stream and said sourly: “once you’ve got your pig it’s an uphill struggle to the church.”
She plowed up the gradient, determined not to slip again, until out of the pool. A ribbon hung across the church entrance. “The game ends when one team crosses the finish line, winning themselves 40 points.” Tricia made a grudging bow and squelched to the side, muddy hair and dress sticking to her.
“Hmm, a good opportunity to get an early lead,” Shawna remarked. “Ready teams? On your marks! Get set! GO!!”
Sofia and Eve hit the pedals. The former struggled for traction, allowing the latter a head-start. Jenny and Yulia wobbled on their high-set seats as the rickshaws trundled forward.
The blues were first to market, and it fell to Jenny to grab a bouquet. Her height disadvantage became clear when she stood up, and Eve’s determination to keep pedaling made her task harder. “Wait!” Jenny called, as green globs splattered her dress.
Eve stopped pedaling. “Hurry up!” she urged, her mood worsened by an egg smashing in her brunette hair.
While Jenny reached vainly, the reds caught up. Yulia whimpered as she entered the gauntlet, her white dress ruined by the first impacts of color. “In your own time,” muttered Sofia, tomatoes bursting in her hair.
Jenny and Yulia grabbed bouquets almost simultaneously, stashing them in their vehicles as the drivers pedaled away. The reds took the lead thanks to the inside line on a corner. Eve seethed.
Bride and bridesmaid arrived at the bakery, squealing as frosting squirted over their dresses. Yulia tentatively reached for the cakes on the conveyor, but every time her wrists went through the curtain of syrup, she flinched back.
The blues caught up. Jenny was no keener about the syrup, but she sensed Eve’s impatience and lunged through, the goo soaking her hair and shoulders as she snatched a cake.
Yulia remained frozen in fear for her dress. “Jeez!” tutted Sofia, dismounting. She pounced on a cake, getting thoroughly coated, and handed it to Yulia with a withering look.
The next bend was to the blues’ favor, gifting them a further lead. Eve hurtled down the slope to the pool, not thinking to apply the brakes. Jenny tumbled from her seat, plopping head-first into the mud. She emerged coated, much to the amusement of Shawna and the audience.
Jenny pulled up her sodden dress around her cleavage. Eve, sitting up to her waist, was unsympathetic. “Get a pig and get back on!” she hissed.
Meanwhile, the reds approached the pool. Seeing Jenny’s fate, Yulia screamed and closed her eyes. But Sofia maneuvered more carefully, sparing her sister the worst.
Brown and straw-covered, Jenny remounted her rickshaw, clutching the comically large pig. Yulia grabbed a hog of her own, disdainful of the mud it transferred to her dress. The race was on to reach the church.
After her flat-out start, Eve was flagging. She moaned in frustration as the reds broke ahead. But within feet from the ribbon, Sofia lost traction and rolled back into the pool. Yulia screamed as mud splashed up her back. Bellowing, Eve exerted herself, and the blues’ rickshaw burst through the ribbon. A klaxon blew.
“STOP!” shouted Shawna, walking over. “Dear me, what a mess! Tricia, what are the scores?”
Tricia returned, having splashed off the worst of the mud with water. “The reds got all three items, earning them a respectable 60, but the blues romped home there with 100!”
Inside the church, Eve pumped her fists, and even Jenny, the round’s messiest casualty, looked pleased. The sisters commiserated as they abandoned their vehicle and waded through mud and straw. A montage of race highlights played before fading to another break.
Round 2: Cut the Cake
The contestants sat at a round table, team members opposite each other. Only some token toweling had occurred in the intermission, and the girls were heavily stained. Jenny, in particular, had gone from blonde to brunette. A mud-encrusted Tricia stood in front of a giant wheel, while Shawna stood smugly by.
“Welcome back to Saturday Splatdown!” she smiled. “Blues, you’re ahead, but don’t get too confident; you took an early lead last time, too…”
“This time we’re gonna keep it!” snapped Eve.
“And Yulia, your concern for your dress seemed to hold you and Sofia back,” Shawna commented.
“Have you any idea how much it cost?” Yulia flashed back indignantly, scowling at the colored patches on the gown.
“Is it worth a ride on the Train of Terror?” smirked Shawna. “Anyway ladies, best of luck to you all. And I do mean that, because this round is largely a game of chance. It’s based on that annoying pie-face game that’s all over YouTube.”
Shawna gestured a device mounted to the table, comprising a neck-rest and a spring-loaded arm on which was poised a mini “wedding cake” (in reality a cylindrical block of cream).
“The machine will revolve to each of you in turn,” Shawna briefed. “I think it’s self-explanatory where you put your head. Tricia will then spin the wheel.”
Said wheel was divided into ten segments: the numbers 1 to 4, with 2 and 3 duplicated, two question marks, a pot of gold and a skull and crossbones.
“If you get a number then you must crank the handle that many times,” Shawna continued. “If the machine doesn’t trigger, you get ten times that number of points. If it does, then bad luck – nil points and cake in the face. A question mark means a multiple-choice quiz question; get it right and you’ll earn 30 points. A pot of gold wins you 50 points, and a skull and crossbones means 20 points to your opponents and a nasty surprise for you.
“We play clockwise, two turns each. Blues, you’re ahead, so you choose who goes first.”
“I’m going first!” said Eve instantly.
“Okey dokey,” said Shawna. The table spun so that the cake faced Eve, who put her head in position.
“Tricia, spin the wheel.”
Tricia spun. The arrow at the top indicated a ‘4’.
“OK, four cranks!” announced Shawna.
Eve purposefully turned the handle. It clicked and nothing happened. She turned again. With a “boing!” the cake sprang, transforming her face and the front of her hair into dazzling white. The audience whooped.
“Ooo, too bad! No points!” Shawna laughed with the audience.
“It’s a fix!” Eve’s white face spluttered.
“Do you mind? We’ve had our machine independently audited and it’s all above board.” Shawna put a new cake in place. “Yulia, it’s over to you.”
The table rotated and Yulia apprehensively put her head on the rest. Tricia spun.
The skull and crossbones.
“Oh n—” The cake catapulted into Yulia’s face mid-utterance. Her features were ensconced in white, but it wasn’t over; a deluge of green slime dropped from above, coating her hair and shoulders and further wrecking her wedding gown. Her veil dripped with green. A Thriller-style evil laugh sounded.
“Oh dear, oh dear!” tittered Shawna. “20 points to the blues!”
“Still think it’s rigged, Eve?” muttered Sofia while her sister flapped in distress.
Shawna replaced the cake and the table rotated to Jenny. Tricia spun, landing a ‘2’. Whimpering, Jenny cranked the handle. Click. She cranked again. Another uneventful click drew a relieved smile.
“Another 20 to the blues,” indicated Shawna. “On it goes to Sofia.”
Tricia spun. Sofia’s eyes widened as she saw the spinner on course to stop at the skull and crossbones. She willed it to miss, but to no avail. The redhead yelped as the cake sprang into her face, followed by dousing of a green slime.
“How nice to show solidarity with your sis!” chortled Shawna. “Yet another twenty to Eve and Jenny!”
Eve was loving this. She laughed and pointed at her slimed opponents as the device returned, freshly reloaded with another cake. Tricia spun the wheel, which landed on ‘1’.
Eve cranked, and her partially wiped face was spared a second pie.
Yulia hoped for better luck on her second turn. The wheel landed on a question mark, causing the audience to “oooo”.
Shawna read from a question card: “Which bodily organ produces insulin? Is it (a) the liver, (b) the pancreas, or (c) the gall bladder?”
A broad smile spread on the nurse’s cream-coated face. “The pancreas,” she answered confidently.
“Correct! You’re out of the blocks with thirty points.”
“Now that is fixed,” tutted Eve.
The cake went on to Jenny. The wheel again dealt her a ‘2’. Knowing that Eve had already spent one crank, she fearfully turned the handle. Nothing happened. She cranked again, and cheered when nothing happened, having escaped any mess this round.
“Twenty points! Over to Sofia for the final spin.”
Tricia gave the wheel an extra hard heave.
“Oooo, is it going to strike gold?” Shawna mused. “Is it? Is it…?!”
The wheel looked set to overshoot the pot of gold, but stayed in by a whisker. Sofia and Yulia both cheered, but someone else screamed; a jet of golden goo sprayed from the wheel, blasting Tricia.
“Wow reds, you pulled it back with a 50-point bounty, and it looks like Tricia struck gold too! Ha ha! What are the overall scores, golden girl?”
Tricia scowled at Shawna as she shook herself off. “The reds have 140 points, but the blues have extended their lead to 190!”
Eve and Jenny celebrated, while Yulia and Sofia wrung out the green slime. The segment closed with slow-mo replays of the cakings.
Round 3: For Wetter or Worse
“You’re watching Saturday Splatdown. If you’ve just joined us, where the hell were you?” Shawna taunted as the camera zoomed out to reveal Jenny and Sofia standing either side of her. Behind were dunk tanks styled as wishing wells, above which Eve and Yulia dangled on seats suspended by cables. As before, the contestants had toweled themselves down but remained damp and mess-streaked.
“So far the blue team have stolen a wedding march on the reds,” Shawna recapped. “I say reds, but right now they’re looking more green!” She laughed at the tinge Sofia and Yulia had acquired. The sisters pouted in response.
“This round provides Eve and Yulia the opportunity for a wash-off,” said Shawna. “Though for Jenny and Sofia things may get messier as they collect rings from our wedding church.” She gestured the play-area, which resembled a congregation seating area, the pews soft inflatables. Scattered around the place were giant rings – more like hoops if truth be told.
“Bronze rings are worth 10 points, silver 20, and gold 30,” Shawna explained “Simply grab and drop in your opponent’s slot, sending them for a cold bath. You can collect more than one at a time, but they’re bulky, mind, and any you don’t bank before the klaxon won’t count.”
“That doesn’t sound too hard,” Sofia commented – a line she’d clearly been fed.
“I thought you might say that,” smirked Shawna. “So there’s a twist.”
Tricia stepped forward and fastened blindfolds on Jenny and Sofia.
“You’ll have to rely on your partner to guide you! Oh, by the way, rough and tumble is fine, but no outright violence. Ready?”
The contestants affirmed.
“Two minutes start now – GO!!”
As the clock started, jets of foam sprayed out over the church, swishing back and forth. Sofia jogged blindly up the aisle. Her foot snagged a ring, nearly tripping her, and she stooped to retrieve it – it was silver, though she couldn’t see this. Jenny stumbled forward much more cautiously, hands feeling her way. She screamed as a jet blasted her. Eve shouted at her to go faster.
Sofia turned down one of the rows between the pews. The ring she carried proved unwieldy, as Shawna had warned, but she hooked it on her shoulder. Yulia shouted that there was a ring at the end of the row. Sofia stumbled along and collected it – gold.
“GO RIGHT!” Eve shouted to Jenny. Jenny, in one of her blonde moments, turned down the pew to her left, which sadly offered no rings. Eve bellowed in exasperation as Jenny became increasingly disorientated, the latter yelping as a foamy jet periodically caught her.
Meanwhile, Sofia had gathered two more rings – another gold and a bronze – but began to struggle. She attempted to grab a further bronze ring, but was caught off-guard as a batch of orange slime descended from the rafters. “Leave it! You’ve got enough!” shouted Yulia, who started to direct Sofia towards Eve’s dunk tank.
Jenny meanwhile, had begun to find success. She picked up first a bronze ring, then a gold. “There’s another gold one!” Eve yelled. “There! You’ve gone past it!”
Some blue gunge descended onto Jenny, coating her blonde hair.
“NO!” roared Eve. THERE! RIGHT NEXT TO—ARRGHH!!”
Eve was cut short as the cables on her seat went slack – Sofia had reached the tank and was inserting the rings through the slot. Eve plunged into the water, slamming straight under. The cables tautened to haul her up, her dress sodden and revealing her curves, her hair lank. She shrieked at the coldness, but barely had time to react before the mechanism plunged her down again. This happened twice more (one duck for each ring, it turned out).
By the time Eve’s soggy torments ended, Jenny had found the gold ring through her own efforts. Eve bellowed directions at her, keen to turn the tables and dunk Yulia. With her rings awkwardly round her waist, Jenny took a couple more wrong turns, but eventually got there. Yulia screamed, plummeting into the frigid tank.
Three dunkings left Yulia completely bedraggled. Her sopping wedding dress had become incredibly heavy, dragging down to reveal more cleavage. Fortunately, the tape she’d applied held (Shawna hadn’t been joking), saving her from mortifying exposure.
Sofia and Jenny each made a second deposit, sending Eve and Yulia to another round of duckings. But it was evident to anyone paying attention – not least an agitated Eve – that Sofia had the edge on her opponent, both in number and value of rings.
Then came the moment when the players dove for the same ring at the same time. Jenny clapped her hands around it, while Sofia hooked in her arm. At first, each failed to realize the other had staked a claim, but then they started yanking, heaving to and fro. The battle was on.
“DON’T LET HER GET IT!!” shouted Eve, while Yulia yelled, “HOLD ON TO IT!!” The ring was only bronze, but neither party was prepared to concede.
The tug of war wore on, until the ring slipped from their slimy hands, flying away like a frisbee. Neither Jenny nor Sofia knew this, so when they lunged, they found themselves grappling in hand to hand combat, trying to steal each other’s rings.
“FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!” The audience were loving it.
“Sort it, Tricia!” ordered Shawna.
Unenthusiastically, Tricia strode into the foam jets, carrying a pair of custard pies. She shoved one into each girl’s surprised face and pushed them apart.
“Twenty seconds!” called Shawna, reveling in the spectacle.
“GET BACK!!” Eve and Yulia called in unison.
Clutching her two rings, Sofia scrambled over pews towards Eve’s dunk tank; by now she had a good sense of her bearings. Jenny tried likewise, but tumbled over a pew. Her sole ring slipped over her head and rolled away.
“COME ON!” Eve was at her wit’s end. “YOU’RE RUNNING OUT OF—glub!”
Sofia silenced Eve by depositing her rings, condemning her to another two dunks.
“FIVE! FOUR!…” The audience counted down. Jenny wasn’t going to make it. “…THREE!! TWO!! ONE!!”
The klaxon blared. The foam jets and slime downpours ceased, leaving Jenny and Sofia to wipe themselves down. Tricia came over and removed each’s blindfold.
“What a round that was!” Shawna gushed. “And I reckon we’ve some high scores to go with it. Tricia, please tot up the bling!”
Tricia unlocked the compartments beside each dunk tank and rifled through the rings. “The blues have three bronze, two silver and two gold – a score of 130 points, which brings their total to 320. But the reds have three bronze, three silver and four golds. That earns them an awesome 210, enough to leap-frog into the lead with 350!
Sofia bounded over to Yulia and reached up to deliver a double-high-five. Jenny looked glum, and Eve slapped her sodden dress in fury. The segment went to commercials with replays of the dunks and the messy fight action.
Round 4: Wedding Belles
“You screwed that right up,” Eve grumbled to Jenny as they hung around (literally) waiting for the next round to commence.
“I did my best,” Jenny defended herself. “You should’ve collected the rings if you thought you could do better.”
“And have you direct me?” Eve snorted. “You don’t know your left from your right!”
Nearby, Sofia smirked to Yulia. “We’re ahead now. You can thank me whenever you’re ready.”
“I think you’ll find it was my excellent skills in guiding you,” Yulia flashed back.
The camera swept the studio, catching Hannah and Bethany in the audience, who were greatly entertained by the messy escapades of their friends.
“Welcome back!” Shawna stood by a pool of pink and purple gunge, above which the contestants were suspended on harnesses. They’d showered clean and exchanged their trashed frocks for sparkly gold costumes with narrow bodices and brimming skirts, designed to look like bells.
Shawna peered up at the suspended girls and winked. “I’m sure the guys envy this view! Ladies, I’m gonna ask quiz questions; you must chime in to answer.” (Each player had a button strapped to her abdomen.)
“If you’re right, you’ll win twenty points and you can choose an opponent to lose a life. If you’re wrong, it’s 20 points to them and your team-mate will lose a life!” Shawna licked her lips. “You each have three lives; can you guess what happens when you lose them all?”
The girls peered apprehensively at the gunge and nodded.
“When one team is eliminated, the victors will score 30 points for each remaining life. Reds, you have the lead, so you choose the subject for our first question.”
Shawna gestured to Tricia, standing at a table. She too had cleaned up and changed – into a slinky black number. Three stacks of cards stood upright on the table. At the front of the stacks were cards marked ‘music’, ‘science and nature’ and ‘arts and literature’.
The reds conferred. “Arts and literature,” Yulia requested. Tricia handed the card to Shawna.
“Get ready with those buzzers.” Shawna read from the card: “Who wrote the novel ‘The Three Musketeers’?”
A bell chimed and a spotlight shone down on Jenny. “Alexandre Dumas?” she ventured.
“Is correct!” said Shawna. Jenny and Eve grinned at each other. “Choose a red to lose a life.”
The blues conferred. “We reckon Sofia.”
Scowling, the redhead was lowered. She yelped as a deluge of cool whip coated her hair.
“Oh, I forgot to mention, there’s a forfeit when you lose a life!” Shawna chuckled. “Blues, choose the next category.”
‘Music’ and ‘science and nature’ remained on offer. Where the ‘literature’ card had been, ‘food and drink’ now showed. Jenny suggested science but Eve, overruling, requested ‘music’.
“Who sang the duet ‘Love the Way You Lie’?”
Several hands moved to buzzers, but Yulia pipped it by a whisker. A different chime sounded as a spotlight fixed her. “Rihanna and Jay Z?”
“No, Rihanna and Eminem!” returned Shawna, with much of the audience answering along with her. “Sofia, you lose another life!”
Yulia cursed her mistake, though didn’t rue it as much as her sister. Sofia descended again, until her feet dipped into the gunge. A thick, green substance splattered down, providing a second coating over the cool whip.
“Ah, the guacamole!” laughed Shawna. “Sofia, you’re on your last life. Blues, choose another topic.”
‘Sport’ had replaced ‘music’ and Eve wanted to go for it. But this time Jenny was insistent on science.
“What chemical has the formula H2O2?”
Yulia again chimed first. “Hydrogen peroxide.” Sofia looked relieved.
“Is correct!” Shawna revealed “Choose a blue to goo!”
“Eve! Definitely Eve!” the sisters laughed together. A grumpy Eve was lowered, receiving a shower of baked beans as she went.
“Can’t think why you chose Eve,” smirked Shawna. “Choose a subject.”
Another ‘music’ card had been uncovered. The sisters steered clear of it after Yulia’s blooper and went for ‘food and drink’.
“What type of animal is a Bombay Duck?”
Yulia buzzed in again, more from habit than intention. “Oh, er, I don’t know. A goose?”
“Nope, it’s a fish!” grinned Shawna.
“Yulia!” groaned Sofia.
“Speaking of fishes, it’s time for Sofia to join them. Goodbye!”
Expecting to be lowered, Sofia screamed when instead her harness released. Her skirt billowed as she dropped, giving a few frames of panty-shot to anyone who bothered to freeze-frame. She submerged into the gunge and bobbed up seconds later, her face coated blue and her hair bright pink.
“So sorry Sofia!” called her still-clean sister. Sofia only spat as she swam front-crawl to the pool’s edge.
Shawna had other ideas. “Uh-uh, Sofia – you can wallow in there till the end of the game! Blues, choose a category.”
Joining ‘sport’ and ‘music’ was ‘places’. “Sport,” Eve snapped, wringing beans from her hair.
“I’ll allow you to be one above or below here: how many silver medals did USA win in this year’s Olympics?”
Eve slapped her buzzer. “37.”
“You know your stats, Eve.” said Shawna. “37 is dead on. Yulia, down you go!”
A cringing Yulia was lowered. When no slop rained on her, she looked up in relieved surprise… and got a faceful of yellow curry.
“Oh, they fall for it every time,” Shawna grinned, shaking her head. “Blues, please pick.”
The new category was ‘TV and movies’. Eve and Jenny decided to go for ‘music’.
“The highest-pitched string on a standard guitar is—?”
Yulia hit her button before Shawna could finish. “E,” she spluttered from her yellow-stained face.
“I was gonna ask what’s the string made of!” said Shawna. Yulia’s face fell. “Naw, only kidding – the question was ‘what note’, and E is indeed the answer. Which blue would you like to punish?”
“Eve again,” replied Yulia. Eve scowled as flour heaped upon her, sticking to the bean juice. She dangled with her feet in the gunge.
‘History and people’ had replaced ‘music’, and Yulia plumped for it.
“Salvador Allende was president which country from 1970 until a military coup ended his rule and his life in 1973?”
Again Yulia. “Chile.”
“Absolutely right! The choice is yours, Yulia: spoil Jenny’s clean sheet or finish Eve off?”
Yulia pretended to ponder, before announcing with a smile: “Finish Eve off.”
Eve put her hands on her hips – a position she maintained as she dropped into the slop. She re-emerged completely coated, and swam to join Sofia in the corner of the pool.
The available cards were now ‘places’, ‘TV and movies’ and ‘pot luck’. Yulia went for ‘places’.
“Which city is the capital of New Zealand?”
Jenny chimed in. “Auckland.”
“No – it’s Wellington!” revealed Shawna. “Since Eve’s been eliminated, you lose a life yourself!”
Jenny gawped as ranch dressing umbrella’d off her head.
“Two lives apiece!” said Shawna.
Another ‘history and people’ card stood in place of ‘places’. Yulia chose it.
“Who was president in 1900?”
Silence fell as both girls dredged up their school-day recitals. “Come on, I’ll have to hurry you!” warned Shawna.
Jenny chimed. “William McKinley?” she attempted, cringing.
“Don’t look so worried. It’s right!” Shawna revealed.
Yulia puffed as she was lowered to just above the gunge. Another torrent of yellow decorated her – this time custard.
The new topic was another ‘science and nature’. Unsurprisingly, Jenny selected it.
“Kepler’s laws describe the motion of what?”
Both Jenny and Yulia pounced, but Jenny proved a fraction faster. “The planets!” she answered breathlessly.
“You’re confident and rightly so.” said Shawna. “Yulia, farewell!”
Jenny performed a victory dance in mid-air. Yulia groaned and held her nose as her harness gave way. She sank like a stone, then leaped up again, recolored in pink and blue.
“It’s all over!” announced Shawna. “Blues, you get sixty bonus points for Jenny’s two lives. Tricia, please update us on the scores.”
Tricia obliged. “The reds have netted 80 points, bringing them up to 430, but the blues gain a thumping 180, which puts them back ahead with 500!”
Jenny cheered again, and even Eve looked pleased as she bobbed in the goo.
“With just one round left, can the reds pull it back?” asked Shawna. “Join us after the break for the final battle!”
Yulia, Sofia and Eve hauled themselves from the pool. Slow-mo replays of their plunges followed, in all their up-skirt glory.
Round 5: Wedding Breakfast
All six women stood in front of the Train of Terror. Shawna and Tricia remained in their dresses, while the contestants’ attire consisted of a raunchy, feminine spin on tops and tails. The top hats were strapped under their chins and had large, transparent bowls on top.
“It’s the final round! In a few precious minutes we’ll know which duo will be jetting off to Rio, and which will be changing into one of these” – Shawna held up a LOSER bikini – “to sit on this.” She patted the train seat. “Eve and Jenny, you’re 70 points ahead. You must be bullish of avoiding repeat humiliation.”
“We’re gonna stay focused,” Eve said firmly. “And not screw up, right Jenny?”
Jenny nodded, looking very nervous.
Shawna turned to Yulia and Sofia. “Sweating it, reds?”
“The lead’s gone back and forth,” Yulia replied, trying to look calm but betraying her nerves. “We can fight it back.”
“We trounced the blues in the last physical round,” added Sofia, “and we’ll do it again.”
“Don’t get too cocky, cos this round’s gonna test brains as well as brawn.” Shawna led the girls to the start of an assault course. “It’s a messy word-search.”
She gestured a board that listed a good twenty wedding-related words. Supersize waffles stood upright either side – one red, one blue – forming grids of letters.
“Our players must locate the words in their waffle, and stick letters onto them. “Tricia, would you kindly demonstrate how they get the letters…”
That word. Tricia’s smile sank. “Not this dress as well!”
“Come on, you know what’s expected.”
Sighing, Tricia approached a ridge of humongous pancakes, which had maple syrup flowing down them. “First our contestants must traverse the pancake mountain.” Grabbing a rope, she tried to haul herself up. She soon discovered stiletto heels weren’t the ideal footwear and ditched them, wincing as the syrup soaked into her tights.
The next task was to get down the other side. Tricia tried to gingerly clamber from the ridge, but with a squeal slipped and slid down on her posterior.
“That’s generally the quickest way down!” laughed Shawna.
Frowning at the stickiness, Tricia came to a giant bowl of porridge, with an equally giant spoon perched across. The balance beam had been her favorite apparatus at gym class, and she hoped to benefit from those skills here. It proved harder than she’d anticipated – the spoon twisted under her weight – but she made it across, and hopped onto dry ground sporting a beatific smile.
This smile faded as she arrived at the final station – a pool filled with orange slime and sponge letters, to resemble alphabetti-spaghetti. There were also some fried-egg- and sausage-shaped floats. Grimacing, Tricia jumped in, landing up to her waist. “And it’s here the players collect their letters. M and W are interchangeable, as are N and Z. You can take as many as you like, but you must carry them in the bowl on the top of your hats.” She clambered out, looking relieved. “And that’s about it.”
“You haven’t demonstrated the route back,” Shawna remarked pointedly.
“If I must,” Tricia sighed, stepping back onto the spoon. She edged along, determined not to fall into the cold oatmeal. She nearly achieved that goal, but misjudged her balance towards the end, tumbling face-first with a splut. She stood up in the goo, her face and front caked, her black dress turned white, soaking up the cheers and laughter. Cursing, she heaved herself back over the pancakes and returned to the waffles, finishing with a resentful bow.
Shawna took over. “Then stick your letters to the grid. Every spelled-out word gets you ten points per letter, but watch out – you get nothing for incomplete words, and misplaced letters incur a ten-point penalty. Three minutes on the clock; it’s up to you how you organize yourselves. READY! GO!!!”
The contestants sprang into action. Eve and Sofia cleared the pancake wall with little effort, while Yulia and especially Jenny struggled. Eve was first to the porridge bowl and began edging along the spoon. Though fit and sporty, she wasn’t particularly graceful, and moved falteringly.
Yulia stepped onto the spoon, which twisted, causing Eve to lose her balance. She fell backwards with arms outstretched and went under, leaving a snow-angel indent in the porridge.
Eve snarled as she stood up, dripping with porridge. “Whoops! How careless of me,” chuckled Sofia, making breezy progress on the spoon. Eve reached out and twisted the spoon, causing a screaming Sofia to totter and splat in the porridge herself. Ladylike niceties were out the window; this was war.
Eve hauled herself out of the bowl and jumped into the spaghetti. Glancing back at the list of words, she tried to pick out some letters that fitted, but soon gave up and simply bundled as many as possible into her bowl. She didn’t mind how messy she got; she cared only for victory.
Yulia helped Sofia get up from the porridge, and the pair of them plunged into the pool. Jenny was flagging; she stood repeatedly putting one foot on the spoon, but not daring to make a step.
With letters tumbling from her bowl, Eve plowed through the porridge (Shawna hadn’t stipulated that traversing the spoon was mandatory) and met Jenny. Acknowledging her team-mate’s struggles, she proposed a division of labor; she would run the course, while Jenny would concentrate on spotting the words on the grid and placing the letters.
Jenny agreed and carried back the letters in her bowl. She felt sauce dribble down her neck and realized the thing was leaky. As she approached the waffle, gunge started shooting out of random holes, catching her chest and face. Discovering she had the necessary letters for “RING”, she stuck them on.
Eve meanwhile was back in the pool, while Yulia and Sofia traversed the spoon on their return journey. This time Yulia toppled, but managed to land upright, saving her upper half from the porridge. The two sisters vaulted over the pancakes and arrived at the waffles. They’d been conscientious in their selection of letters, and were able to spell out “GROOMSMEN”. They considered splitting their work like the blues, but decided they were better staying together.
The game continued to and fro, acrimony simmering as the players bustled in their lexical quest. Then the tension overspilled when Yulia and Eve simultaneously lunged for a contested letter. Yulia grabbed it first by a split-second, but Eve wasn’t going to let it lie. She snatched the letter and pushed Yulia, who fell backwards and submerged in the orange goo.
“HEY!! Don’t treat my sister like that!” Sofia grabbed a sausage float and bopped Eve around the head, causing letters to spill from the bowl on her hat. Furious, Eve fought back with a fried egg. Yulia, spluttering as she resurfaced, joined the fray, splashing slime, ostensibly trying to get Eve but in practice catching her sister just as much.
“Time’s ticking girls!” Shawna called.
The clock was indeed low. “TEN! NINE!…” the audience shouted, while the scuffling and splashing continued. “…THREE!! TWO!! ONE!!”
The klaxon honked.
“STOP!!” shouted Shawna. Down in the pool, the three feuding women seemed unaware the game was over. “Stop, I said! STOP!!”
Eventually the girls calmed down.
“As breakfasts go that was pretty heated,” Shawna winked at the camera. “Tricia, how did they do?”
Tricia perused each waffle in turn. “Blues have got ‘RING’, ‘TOAST’, and ‘GARTER’; you didn’t finish ‘RECEPTION’ so I’m afraid it doesn’t count. Reds have done nicely with ‘VOWS’, ‘VEIL’, ‘GROOMSMEN’ and ‘BOUQUET’ – singular – that stray ‘S’ at the end costs you 10 points.”
Yulia and Sofia didn’t mind this finicky catch-out; they were doing the math and they liked it. Jenny, conversely, paled as she totted up the figures. Eve was in denial.
“The blues score 150 points, leaving them on a 650-point finish,” Tricia continued. “But the reds score a stupendous 230, clinching victory with an overall 660!”
The sisters cheered, hugged and jumped up and down in the orange slime. Eve groaned and sank to her neck. Jenny whimpered.
“Congratulations Yulia and Sofia; that Rio vacation is yours!” Shawna beamed. “But at look at the faces of Eve and Jenny! They know from experience what happens to losers on this show, and they’re set to face it all over again! Stay with us for everyone’s favorite part of the show – the Train of Terror!”
The camera zoomed out, showing the red’s ongoing celebrations, and the blue’s shellshock.
The Train of Terror
Champagne flutes clinked. The two sisters – bride and bridesmaid, brunette and redhead – grinned as they reclined in easy-chairs, dressed smart-casual and as clean as when they’d arrived.
“Congratulations again ladies,” said Shawna. “A stunning comeback for sure.”
“Meh, we never doubted it,” lied Yulia.
“The flights are booked, hotel suites are waiting, and the $2,000 is yours to spend.” Shawna presented them with a wad. “Don’t go doing anything I wouldn’t do. Have you enjoyed yourselves?”
“I’ll enjoy the prize,” said Yulia circumspectly. “I’ll try not to think about my wedding dress while I’m away.”
“Oh, ignore her whining,” Sofia chipped in. “We’ve had a great time, thanks.”
“Well, to help get you into the Rio spirit, we’ve a carnival spectacle,” smiled Shawna. She looked over her shoulder. “Bring out those chumps!”
Tricia (in her original fuchsia dress, post-laundry) escorted an unwilling blue team through the archway. They too had cleaned and dried their hair, and their skin was spotless – plenty of it on show! Pale blue bikinis clung tightly to Eve’s generous curves and Jenny’s petite figure alike, “LOSER” flashing from each segment of fabric. They squirmed at the mixture of snickers and wolf-whistles from the audience.
“Déjà vu, déjà vu!” Shawna smugly sauntered over. “Blues, talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”
“Uh, any chance of a third try?” asked Jenny sheepishly. The audience laughed. Eve just huffed.
“I reckon it’s time you gave up,” laughed Shawna. “No dream vacation for you yet again – instead another ride on the Train of Terror! All aboard!”
Tricia strapped the losers into the rudimentary wedding car, while Shawna invited the victors to a podium beset with a giant button.
“Reds, do the honors…”
“Enjoy your trip!” The sisters grinned as they hammered the button. The car jerked into action with a shower of sparks, carting away a fuming Eve and a petrified Jenny.
The first port of call was a garden decorated with wedding garlands. Water sprayed from sprinklers, soaking and – evidently from their screams – chilling the girls. Their hair became lank and their bodies glistened. A giant fan blew rose petals, which stuck to their wet forms, but far worse was to come. Eve screeched as a batch of creamed corn fell, turning her brunette hair yellow, while Jenny underwent the opposite transformation, gravy dropping on her fair locks.
The train climbed a gradient onto a raised section of track, and into a section decorated like a chapel. Directly under the track, Tricia sat at an organ playing the Wedding March. The organ’s pipes fired up a spectrum of gunge. Eve and Jenny shrieked as the jets blasted through the wire-mesh seating, painting their posteriors and shooting up between their legs and behind their backs.
The train proceeded through a hole in the wall and immediately adopted a steep descent. The girls’ eyes gaped as they plunged flume-style into a pool of semi-set blancmange. The waves subsided to reveal them completely pink. They wiped their eyes to discover they were in a mock-up of a wedding banquet. Waiting for them were not only Yulia and Sofia, but also Hannah and Bethany, armed with a veritable feast.
“Hey there Eve! Hey Jenny!” laughed the girls as they began launching their ammo. Yulia and Sofia lobbed the contents of great tureens – clam chowder and scotch broth were the soups du jour – while Hannah and Bethany upended a giant shrimp cocktail over the car. Eve fought back, chucking the food that was piling around her, while Jenny scrunched up and wrapped her arms around her head, not that she found much shelter.
After starter came the mains,with buckets of Texan barbecue and blue cheese sauce being doled out. The blues had become completely coated, neither hair nor bikinis visible. Then dessert time came. Eve’s head was sandwiched between two flans heaped with pastel frosting, while Jenny had a huge coconut pie smashed in her face.
The vehicle clacked onwards. Eve and Jenny cleared their eyes in time to see a heart-shaped entrance looming upon them, the words “Tunnel of Love” above it. A more accurate description would have been “Tunnel of Foam”, as that was what sprayed from the walls, smothering the girls as they passed through.
The car made one last ninety-degree turn and terminated under a heart-shaped archway strewn with white flowers, its passengers misshapen blobs. Shawna and Tricia stood by, and the other four women ran from the banquet room to join them.
Tricia handed hoses to the victorious reds. “OK ladies,” Shawna instructed, “finish them of.”
Eve and Jenny wiped their faces only to find themselves being doused with honey. Yulia and Sofia grinned as they swept the hoses over their defeated opponents, the sticky amber goo mixing with the foam.
“Honeymoon – geddit?” winked Shawna. “And a wedding wouldn’t be complete without confetti…”
The coup de grâce came in a massive torrent of said paper flecks, which stuck to Eve and Jenny, head to toe, giving them a fluffy appearance.
“Dear me, what a mess!” chortled Shawna. “Welcome back Hannah and Bethany, our previous winners. Ladies, did you enjoy the vacation in Cancún?”
“Loved it,” smiled Hannah.
“Poor old Eve and Jenny, second time unlucky!” giggled Bethany.
“Hmmm, you two have been too smug, I’d say,” said Shawna. “That’s why I’ve arranged a little gift for you.”
Crew members wheeled out a gunge tank. Shawna ushered the pair over to it, and opened the door.
“That’s very kind of you” said Bethany. “But the thing about gifts is…”
Hannah finished: “…it’s better to give than receive!”
With that Hannah and Bethany grabbed Shawna. Taking her unawares, they shoved her down onto the gunge tank seat and closed the door.
“HEY!! WHAT ARE YOU—” Shawna’s protests broke off with a scream as a torrent of blue gunge descended, burying her dark hair and saturating her exquisite dress. When the deluge finally abated, she slicked back her hair and looked up to see Tricia with her hand on the chain.
“There’s the something blue!” Tricia grinned, delighted at her revenge. “And that wraps up tonight’s Saturday Splatdown. Join us next week, when two more teams will play to win a vacation, and avoid ending up like this.” She gestured Eve and Jenny as yet more confetti fell on them. “GOOD NIGHT!”
Credits rolled, and Tricia showed Sofia and Yulia to their airport limo. Smirking ruefully, Shawna got out of the gunge tank, dripping blue goo, and chased after Hannah and Bethany.
Under the archway, the confetti monsters slowly stood up and attempted, fruitlessly, to shake themselves off. Eve’s eyes – the only part of her discernible – glared at the camera. Jenny, despite herself, wore a wry smile under the mess, accepting her fate with gracious, if reluctant, humor.