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Vanitocracy

The news is all doom and gloom: a certain individual is being blamed for the actions of a certain terrorist group thousands of miles away, the Earth is half on fire and half underwater, and a “vegetarian” dog chose dog meat over salad live on camera. Now, there’s plenty of inspiration there for any writer, but I was looking for something a little more light-hearted to cheer us all up. Light-hearted triggered light entertainment, and this is what came out.
Steve Dean's Short Story Vanitocracy

The news is all doom and gloom: a certain individual is being blamed for the actions of a certain terrorist group thousands of miles away, the Earth is half on fire and half underwater, and a “vegetarian” dog chose dog meat over salad live on camera. Now, there’s plenty of inspiration there for any writer, but I was looking for something a little more light-hearted to cheer us all up. Light-hearted triggered light entertainment, and this is what came out.

*          *          *

Dramatic music swells and then fades as the ad break ends. The presenter, dressed in a floor-length sequined dress bounces onto the stage, a wide smile on her perfectly made-up face.

“This is it. In the next few minutes we’ll find out which of the finalists the judges, and you at home, have chosen.” Serious look to camera. “The phone lines are now closed, but please be aware you might still be charged if you call in, but your vote won’t be counted.”

Ironic smile, “It’s been a long road filled with drama, tears, set-backs and ultimate triumph. All of our contestants have literally been to hell and back, and sadly, some of them didn’t make it home. Before we reveal our winner, let’s take a look at some of those who didn’t make it.” The presenter looks into the camera with a fake sad look.

A deep male voice narrates as a montage of the show’s past highlights are shown to viewers.

“From the first day, the contestants were keen and eager, filled with hope and optimism.”

Three people sitting in makeup chairs applying lipstick and eye-shadow over their already immaculate lipstick and eye-shadow. “We’re ready, we’re totally ready. Bring it on.” The three whoop and high-five each other.

Jump cut to five people in evening wear holding hands and smiling. “We’re ready for anything, any challenge, bring it on!” More whooping and high-fives and fist bumps.

Jump cut to the contestants wearing swimsuits and fake tan riding gold electric scooters through a storm of foam sea-creatures thrown at them by the stage crew.

Jump cut to contestants wearing evening wear and singing, or playing piano, or telling jokes, while the stage is swung in a random fashion like a bucking bronco.

Jump cut to contestants wearing tailored overalls emblazoned with the sponsor’s logo trying to climb up a greasy slope while holding several inflatable farm animals and while buckets of slime are thrown at them by the stage crew.

Deep, very serious, voice-over. “But there have been tragedies along the way. Tears…”

Close up on crying man, his mascara artfully smeared around his eyes. “I never thought it would end like this.” Tears make tracks in his makeup as the camera goes into extreme close up and shows a spot on the contestant’s nose.

“Trickery…”

A contestant losing their hair extensions while being pelted with slime shown on a loop over and over again from several angles.

“Tantrums…”

“I am literally, like, emotional right now. How come she’s gone through and I’m going home? It’s like, not fair is it? Why would anyone vote for a BEEP like her when I’m much prettier and smarterer and more nicer. She’s a BEEP and a BEEP BEEP and everyone knows it. You know what, I’m done with this stupid BEEP programme.” The contestant stands up and storms out.

“Tragedy…”

Sombre music plays as the immaculately dressed host interviews an immaculately dressed contestant. “I never thought it would happen like this. My mum’s hairdresser’s neighbour fell off a ladder and twisted his ankle. I can’t go on with that on my mind. So, I’ve made the decision to pull out. It’s been a journey, but I’ll be back next year.” A single tear runs down the contestant’s cheek, showing a hint of the black eye underneath the makeup. 

Fade to black, then back to the live show.

“As you saw then, it hasn’t been an easy ride for any of our amazing contestants. But they’ve battled through and now here they are, our three finalists!”

Wild applause as the three remaining contestants glide onto the stage wearing enough sequins and makeup to cover the entire audience. They stand, holding hands and grinning broadly while trying to present their best sides to the cameras.

The music fades into the background, the host holds up a golden envelope with the sponsor’s logo on it. “Here it is, the result we’ve all been waiting for. In the end the telephone vote was so close we had to go to the judges for a final decision.” The host opens the envelope and pulls out a card, emblazoned with the sponsor’s logo.

“The winner, and 2034’s new Prime Minister is…”

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