It was another repetitive day. All jobs are repetitive, or become repetitive when one applies to themselves to the task day after day. Percy worked as a cashier at the local supermarket. He would stand behind the cash register and scan items of a miscellaneous nature. People would come through with toilet rolls, bottles of milk and other things. There was some form of intimacy with members of the community as they checked in their items at the counter. For instance, he would know who was sexually active or who was getting any by the fact that they purchased condoms. He would know if people existed above or below the poverty line with the nature of the brands of food that they bought. There was an intimacy a cashier had with local members of the community. They would all disregard his existence through the transaction, but his existence was there and on some subconscious level all of this information was registering. It was not the level of intimacy that one had with their local doctor or anything like that. But there was some form of private arrangement of secrecy with every member of the community that remained unspoken, something left unsaid if they were to run into each other outside of work.
Percy was coming into the thirty-second year of his life. He had been working the same job ever since he had left high school. He had never really consigned himself to any further vocation apart from that of a cashier of a supermarket. He would read books at home and for this he decided not to pursue a higher course of study. He was content in his life. He never wanted for anything. He had found himself in several relationships through the course of his life. Nothing had ever worked out in the long run. All of the women Percy had lain with had chastised him because he lacked ambition. But for every argument that they had put forth that he had no ambition, he always countered with ideas of safety and assurance within his own vocation.
He had begun the job when he was sixteen years old. It started off as a job that he picked up when he was in high school. After that he had transferred to full time hours and ever since then everything had blended into a regular routine. He hadn’t noticed as co-workers of his same age had slipped away. Moving away from the coast into the bigger cities with more opportunities. There had been a bunch of them that had been employed at the start. The supermarket was taking in more employees to keep up with the demand of the holiday rush, where tourists would visit the coastal town. But after that, all of those initial employees left the supermarket and the coastal town in pursuit of higher goals. Yet, Percy remained.
Only recently, over the past year, had he begun to notice that the other employees of the supermarket were all younger or a decade older than he. Apart from the management group, there wasn’t another employee among the thirty to forty year age group. He didn’t quite know what to make of that fact. But it was a fact and for that fact, he felt at odds within his own work role. There weren’t any other employees that he could relate to. They had all grown up in a different period of time than he, so whenever he attempted to make conversation with those around him there was a barrier of understanding that could not be penetrated. The last relationship that he had found himself in had ended a couple of years ago. And now he was stuck in some sort of transitory realm of being.
Every day he would wake up at six in the morning and step into the shower. It was cold of late, entering the winter months. He would turn the heat up in the shower and let the steam rise from the shower cubicle. He would apply soap to his face, armpits, body and arsehole. Then he would remain stationary as the hot water massaged and flowed over his body. From there he would race back to his bed of his single bedroom apartment. He would dry himself with a towel while sitting on the edge of his bed and get changed into his work uniform. A white shirt and black pants. He put on a hooded jumper over the uniform, not forgetting to attach his name tag that read, ‘Percy’. Then he would fix himself breakfast and watch the early morning news. There was always some persistent underground activity of criminals, or young men drinking at the wheel that ended in a fatality, always something on the news to remind him that people out there were living a lifestyle more dangerous than he and he was safe in relevant comfort. After eating breakfast and watching the morning news, he would walk to the supermarket. The supermarket was perhaps a twenty minute hike and he would be sure to arrive at work at least half an hour early. After waiting in the staffroom with a mug of coffee for half an hour, he would commence his shift. He would stand in a supermarket checkout for a period of eight hours. Doing this and stocking items in the shelves as per the requirements of the supermarket. Then his shift would end and he would walk back home. He would pick up a six pack of beers on his way back. Then drink one or two that evening, leaving the rest for subsequent days. He would watch the latest stream of television from NetFlix or some other online source. The narrative of the television shows was the only change in his routine, apart from that, everything else was fairly standard.
The isolation that he felt in those moments before he fell asleep each night. He was part of the community, yet he felt a complete and utter disconnection from it all. He felt as if he had lost his place or rather that fate had somehow misplaced him from where he was meant to be. Each night, thoughts of worry and distress would burrow themselves in amongst his emotions and come crawling into his heart. Then he would feel this pain there, in his chest. It was a great and solemn feeling. As if the great emptiness of outer space had crawled into his being and decided to burrow in at the centre of his heart. The feelings would play on his mind, which would then be interrupted by the need to grab a glass of water from the kitchen. Or the clockwork of the body, forcing Percy to visit the bathroom to take a dump. He would sit on the toilet and view himself through the mirrors aligned up along the bathroom walls. Wondering, what, exactly, it was that his life was missing.
He would continue on with his routine. And over time his dismal state of being began to take effect upon his co-workers. Even when he attempted to communicate amongst them, he would be branded as negative or toxic by those around him. He couldn’t really do anything to change the minds of others around him. They had formed their opinion of him in their small groups of cohesion, talking amongst themselves after work in amongst drinks they shared. It wasn’t that he was overtly negative or toxic, perhaps he had made one or two statements that could be seen that way. But in a liberal society which was past racial judgments and past judgments on sexual orientation. A party always had to act as the other for the group. An unknown party that would pick up all of the negative and toxic connotations of society for all of the stress and worry that each individual endured. And as it happened, Percy was the one left to play that role. The youths despised him for his wisdom in which he cast his judgment upon them. His elders despised him to appease the voices of the youths. And slowly the disparaging remarks laid upon his shoulders, for his burden to bare, began to weigh down upon him.
He started to sleep in and turned up to his shifts late. In a steady decline the situation became worse and worse until management stepped in and terminated his contract. Percy was taken off of the checkout line midway through his shift and taken up to the offices that acted as a second storey, separated from the supermarket aisles. There they took him into a room and addressed the issues of his tardiness in relation to his work. When they asked if he had a response or an excuse to these issues he simply answered, ‘No’, and he was let go from the supermarket chain and paid one month’s worth of wages as a final payment.
That night he bought a bottle of scotch whiskey and a couple of bottles of soda water to act as a mixer. He went on and put on some music. He played the song, ‘Everyday is exactly the same’, by the Nine Inch Nails on repeat. Drinking a steady line of whiskey and sodas. He had even bought himself a small metal container of Wee Willem cigars. He blew cigar smoke up into the air and watched the television that was adjusted so that there was no volume coming out of the thing. There was imagery of infomercials selling personal training equipment endorsed by some B-rate celebrity. The song was on repeat and drink by drink, he became more intoxicated. Percy picked up a butcher knife from his kitchen drawers and sat down on the couch, smoking a cigar and turning the blade around in his hand. For a while he envisioned the action of taking the knife and slitting his own throat. The thoughts came as a natural occurrence at the loss of his job. He didn’t take action on the thought, but the thought was still there. Playing on his mind like a little devil spinning a wheel of threads to produce a demonic pattern that emerged as a vision of his own demise. After a while, he grew bored with such thoughts and placed the knife back down on the coffee table. Then channel surfed through different shows while it remained on mute. He kept on drinking whiskey and sodas until he passed out on the couch.
He woke up with a dry mouth and a feeling of nausea. That feeling of nausea soon tightened its grip and he made the mad rush to the bathroom where he hurled in the toilet. He lay there sweating profusely, attempting to catch his breath between vomiting into the porcelain throne. From there he progressed back to the couch and kept on drinking glasses of water poured from the tap. He turned the television on, and it was around midday. There was a midday movie, some family movie from the nineties that presented traditional values. His head was on fire and pulsed in a steady rhythm of pain. He kept on having to make return trips to the bathroom in order to vomit. Soon, he was vomiting the glasses of water that he had just drunk.
After a while the feeling of nausea passed and he fell asleep on the couch once more. He slept off the hangover for the next two days, waking only to cook himself simple meals and to take a crap. The next week was uneventful. He was at a loss of what to do with himself. After a week of being glued to the television, watching nighttime and daytime programming, his sleeping cycle was thrown out of whack. He had a sensation of numbness across his whole body in which he was half asleep and half awake. Never really one or another. There was nobody coming to visit him and that’s when he heard the inner commandments of his own mind, telling him that if he didn’t do anything, he would simply waste away.
The next day he applied himself to looking for work. Eager to experience something different and equipped with the money to do so, he applied for overseas positions amongst the advertised jobs. Of the jobs advertised was the position of ‘contestant’ in a Japanese game show. It was unclear from the description of the advertisement, what exactly the position detailed. They were asking for Australian contestants to commit to a three month period where they would be asked to partake in unknown tasks and assignments. However unclear the description was, nevertheless, he applied.
None of the other jobs that he applied for contacted him back. They all sent back the usual emails that stated that he had been unsuccessful on this occasion, but urged him to continue on with his job search and wished him well in his future endeavours. The only job that sent him a confirmed email that he had been accepted into their process, was for the application of the Japanese game show. The email detailed that they had overlooked his resume and he was accepted to participate as a contestant within the Japanese game show.
He was sent details where he would be put up in a hotel along the northern coast of Australia, in which all of his expenses would be paid. They listed some items that he should pack for his journey. The items that they listed were just essential things: two pairs of pants; passport; two pairs of shorts; underwear and socks; shoes; four shirts; two jackets suited for cold weather; toothbrush and other toiletries; and a towel.
They had booked him an airplane ticket to Darwin for the next day. He packed his items and caught a bus to the airport, catching the flight and not knowing what to expect. The flight was four hours from Melbourne airport. He passed the time by reading the inflight magazine and listening to radio programming. He ordered himself a beer and let the music wash over him. It was calm and peaceful, like oceans breaking onto the shore. The flight felt little turbulence and for about half an hour he drifted off to sleep. It was never a comfortable thing to do, to fall asleep mid-flight. The seats were usually cramped so that they could fit in as many travellers as possible and he was flying economy. But somehow he managed to drift off for a while.
When he arrived at Darwin’s airport, he prepared himself for the tropical wave of heat. Inside the airport it was air conditioned, but looking around at the apparel of the other attendees of the airport that it was not going to be a bout of mild weather. He exited the plane and followed the flow of passengers, collecting his luggage at the turnstile and proceeding through customs. Afterwards, he was greeted by a Japanese limo driver wearing a black suit and a flat cap hat. You could tell by the sweat beneath his brow that he was not comfortable with his formal wear. He held up a sign that read Percy’s name. Percy approached him and confirmed his identity.
“So what’s the show all about then?” Percy asked.
“I cannot explain. I am just the driver.” The limo driver answered.
Percy nodded his head in recognition at the statement. He trailed after the driver, exiting the airport into the onslaught of hot and humid weather. He was not comfortable with the fact that he was wearing pants, but when he glanced at the limousine driver, he relinquished the thought of making any complaint.
He rode in the backseat of the limousine and made casual conversation with the driver. “The limousine’s a nice touch. I suppose they want to make up for the fact that they made me fly economy.” At this observation, the driver did not comment. “It’s odd that we’re having this meeting in Darwin, don’t you think? Considering what happened with the Japanese and Australians during the Second World War.”
“The game show will hopefully help with that sort of thing. We hope it will assist with international relations with the Australians. We do things like this from time to time.”
“What about yourself?” Percy asked, “How are you finding your stay here in Australia?”
“For the most part people don’t notice me. A couple of generations have passed. But every so often someone gives me a sideways glance.”
The rest of the journey was made in silence. Percy stared outside the window and saw the tropical trees that lined the highway. It was quite a different landscape and environment to that of Victoria. Different climates provided different terrain and Darwin was in a unique location in consideration of the rest of the world.
The limousine pulled into the Hilton hotel and the driver held the door open for Percy. Percy exited the limousine and was greeted by a young Japanese woman. There was a camera crew on site that was filming his arrival. The Japanese woman was extremely attractive, she wore a fluorescent pink miniskirt that was made up of synthetic plastic and a white tank-top featuring a caricature of a crocodile. She greeted Percy.
“Ah… Mr. Percy? Mr. Percy!”
Percy was holding his suitcase packed with his clothes, he went up and greeted the Japanese woman, “G’day!”
“Tell me Mr. Percy, ‘do you know what sort of competition this will be?’”
“I have no idea… All I know is that there will be some sort of payment involved.”
The Japanese beauty chuckled and tilted her head to the side, “Tell me Mr. Percy, are you prepared for whatever may come, may come?”
“You betcha!” Percy gave a thumbs up to the camera. After that the young Japanese woman gave instructions in Japanese to the cameraman. Percy didn’t understand what she said, but as the cameraman relaxed the camera on his shoulders, he guessed that it was her signal to stop filming.
The young Japanese woman then started speaking to Percy without any theatrical presence, “Thank you so much for coming. Other contestants will be arriving shortly. There’s six of you altogether. Here’s the keys to your room. We’ve already checked you all in.” The Japanese beauty handed over a set of keys to Percy, “It’s best that you rest up. It’ll be a big day tomorrow. We’ll debrief you on everything that you need to know and then the journey begins.”
“Gee… Thanks. What’s the name of the show?”
“Whatever may come, may come.” She said with a smile.
“And your name?”
“Suzy Yu.” Suzy stated with a smile. She pulled out a packet of Marlboro cigarettes that were tucked behind her miniskirt. The cameraman presented a lighter and lit her cigarette. The cameraman also took a cigarette from the packet. Suzy offered a cigarette to Percy, “Cigarette?”
“No thanks, I don’t smoke.” She nodded in acknowledgement to him and then turned around to the cameraman and started talking in Japanese to him. Percy took that as his signal to leave and go to his hotel room. So that’s what he did, with suitcase in hand, he entered the hotel. He saw that his room was on the tenth floor. He went to the elevator and pressed the button. The elevator arrived and finding it empty, he entered.
As the elevator made its slow ascent to the tenth floor, he contemplated the meaning of the name of the game show. ‘Whatever may come, may come,’ he knew that Japanese game shows worked off the element of surprise and so prepared himself as the title of the show suggested. Just as he was doing so, a steady stream of red balloons descended from the ceiling of the elevator, down upon him. They came at a steady rate and before he knew it the entire elevator was full of red balloons. He didn’t know where the camera was, but it was obvious that they were filming him. So he attempted not to act shocked or surprised, taking it all in step.
The elevator arrived at the tenth floor and the doors opened. As the doors opened, the red balloons flew out of the elevator doors. There was a camera crew filming his exit and behind them a man holding a sign that read, ‘Proceed to your room.’ Following the sign’s instructions and ignoring the balloons, he walked down the hallways to find his room. The key read that it was room eight on the tenth floor and guided by signs set up within the hotel, he found his room. He entered the room with a camera crew trailing after him and closed the door to find his own mode of privacy.
The room was made up and there were no more surprises to be found within. Just your ordinary, run of the mill, hotel room with ensuite bathroom. He looked through the mini-fridge and finding it stocked with Asahi beers and a small note that read, ‘Please help yourself, on the house’. And so he grabbed one of the beers and popped the lid on a nearby bench. He sat on the edge of the bed and took slow sips at it. The cool and crisp taste was refreshing. He looked around, the room had a window and so he went over to the window to overlook the nearby scenery. There were lights lighting up the different roads, lined up like stars in the sky. He opened up the window and felt the breeze come in. The change in temperature, it was still warm, slightly cooler, but not cool enough to bring on a chill. About a week ago, he was at a loss of options. Without a job, friends or prospects. Now, he was in Darwin, ready to embark upon an adventure into the great unknown. It was perplexingly wonderful how life had such surprises woven within.
After drinking the beer, Percy placed the empty bottle in the trash. He then lay down on the bed, preparing himself for sleep. He blinked once, twice and then he was asleep. It had been a long day.
He was awoken by a knock at the door. He checked the time on a nearby digital clock that read the time of, ‘3:33’. He didn’t know who would be knocking on the door given the time of early morning. But then he remembered that he was now part of a Japanese game show. So, expecting anything, he went to answer the door. When he opened the door, he was greeted by a mime who was making as if he was trapped inside a glass box. It was really amazing stuff, but still half asleep, he was not able to appreciate it properly. He stood there for a few moments, staring at the mime, before closing the door and returning back to bed.
The rest of the night went by without further interference and he slept soundly. He was woken up at eight in the morning by a wake-up call that informed him he had an hour to be ready and that a staple breakfast would be brought to his room. He had a shower in the ensuite bathroom and then got dressed. Dressing for the tropical weather he wore a shirt and shorts. Breakfast arrived without any further surprises and he ate his meal in silence. It was a standard serving of bacon and scrambled eggs, with the option of corn flakes, and milk and coffee.
After eating the meal, the phone rang once again. He was informed to meet at the reception of the hotel in fifteen minutes where he would be taken to a conference room for debriefing. Not wanting to wait to see who else had signed themselves up to this crazy adventure, Percy went downstairs to meet the others in the reception area of the hotel.
He went down to the reception dressed in his shorts and shirt. Possessing a positive bounce with every step that he took. He found the others waiting in the reception. Among their number were three females and two other males. There was a brief round of introductions where they all shook one another’s hand and introduced themselves by name.
“Hi, I’m Percy,” Percy said, shaking his hand with a tall, lanky man.
And onto the next, “Hi, I’m Percy.” Percy said, shaking hands with a well built man of average height.
“My name’s Ian.”
And then the females, “Hi, I’m Percy.” He said, shaking hands with a plump woman with mousy brown hair.
“My name’s Samantha.”
“Hi, I’m Percy.” This time he introduced himself to the beauty of the three, a blonde skinny woman with pout lips.
“Hi, I’m Percy.” The final woman was tall with broad shoulders.
“Natalie.” She introduced herself briefly.
Suzy Yu then came downstairs dressed in a crazy looking outfit. It was like a ballroom dress made up in a rainbow of different fluorescent colours. Above her head was an umbrella that was attached to the back of her dress that remained firmly above her. There was a camera crew trailing after her, filming her entrance.
“Welcome all,” Suzy Yu announced, “We all got to know you a little bit last night. Welcome to, ‘Whatever may come, may come.’” There was a small round of applause from among the contestants. “If you’d like to follow me…” The camera crew relaxed itself and ceased filming. Then Suzy Yu continued talking in a non-theatrical voice. “We’re all going to get you debriefed. Get you to sign some things and make sure you’re all comfortable with the arrangement.”
Then another woman, dressed like an executive entered the hotel’s reception and introduced herself, “My name is Miss Nunnagga. This part won’t be on camera so you can all relax. There will be tea and biscuits served as we take care of all business matters before continuing on with the show. If you’d like to follow me.”
And so Percy and the other five trailed after Miss Nunnagga as they went to a debriefing room set up in one of the hotel’s conference rooms. They all entered the conference room and took a seat on a set of tables that all held a stack of paperwork on each table placement.
Miss Nunnagga gave a brief presentation on the television program’s history and played a couple of segments of footage on a projector. She told them all that they would all be paid handsomely for their experience and their participation, but the winner would walk away with ten million Australian dollars. She advised them all that they wouldn’t know what to expect and it was difficult to determine exactly what the preconditions of winning the competition would be, but she made to emphasize the point, “Under no circumstances are you to hurt or harm any of the other contestants, producers or film crew of the show. Remember, this is all non-violent fun that we’re having.”
After the induction and signing of all necessary paperwork. The group was split up and interviewed on camera separately where they would give a brief introduction of themselves and an overview of their life experiences. This was all done on camera and the host Suzy Yu conducted the interview. Afterwards, they were driven down to the docklands of Darwin. They were all told that as part of the show they would be travelling by boat to Japan. Once there, the real games would begin. There would be some surprises along the voyage there, they were told, and it wasn’t going to be luxurious.
Suzy Yu stood on the docks with the contestants of the show lined up before her. She was dressed in her flamboyant outfit and the cameras were rolling. She was giving a speech in Japanese to the cameras, which none of the contestants could understand.
Christian turned to his side and commented to Percy, “Makes you wish you’d learned Japanese now, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Percy muttered non-descript.
Then Suzy Yu turned around to the contestants and gave her speech to them, “You will all be travelling by sea to the shores of Japan.”
There was a luxury boat in sight, to which one of the female contestants, Samantha, pointed to the luxury sea vessel and asked, “That one?”
To which Suzy Yu shook her head signalling that that was not the vessel. The luxury sea vessel pulled out of the dock, revealing behind it a seventeenth century barque. An antique ship made to reflect the time period, with three masts holding the sails. It was quite a sight to see. A fully functional seventeenth century sailing ship. And at its appearance, Suzy Yu proclaimed, “That one!”
The females were distraught by the sight of the sailing ship, but Ian amongst their number simply proclaimed, “Awesome!” He picked up his luggage and started walking towards the vessel. Both Christian and Percy followed his lead and then the females trailed behind, already showing their discomfort at the proposition. Along the helm of the barque were the words written both in Japanese and English, ‘Whatever may come, may come’.
They boarded the barque to find that there were cameras set-up in different positions throughout the vessel. The barque was crewed by Japanese sailors, none of whom spoke any English, but who all wore shirts that had the name of the show printed in both Japanese and English. One of the crew members guided the contestants to their rooms within the vessel. The rooms were simple quarters with hammocks made out of fishing nets designed as a place for rest. After they had all settled into their quarters and grown accustomed to what they would be living in. They were then taken to the dining area which housed a large digital television.
When they had all gathered in the dining room, an image of Suzy Yu came onto the television. This time she was dressed in a peach-apricot miniskirt and plastic tank-top of the same colour. She delivered instructions to the contestants, “You didn’t think I would be travelling with you, did you?” None of the contestants answered. Suzy Yu let out a little schoolgirl like giggle, she held a cocktail glass containing a peach-apricot mixture in her hands and toasted towards the television, “Have a great and grand journey!” It was then revealed by the camera on Suzy Yu zooming out, that she was on-board the luxury sea vessel that they had all witnessed earlier.
The barque had now set its sails and left the Darwin docks and was now riding the ocean towards its destination. Percy went to the deck of the vessel and went to the stern of the ship. As the sailing crew all did what they had to do to guide and steer the vessel, Percy sat and watched the land slowly disappear as the ship travelled.
He sat with his legs dangling off the side of the stern. There was a large wooden fence that made sure that he would not fall from his place. This area seemed to be designed for doing just what he was doing right then, he looked around and saw that a camera was recording his actions. He ignored the camera and watched the land slowly become distant.
As he sat there, he once more took it all in. Travelling aboard a seventeenth century barque, headed out into the great unknown. He paid a silent respect to the sailors who had travelled upon vessels like this in times past. He breathed in the sea air and could taste the sea salt on his taste buds. This is what it must have been like, for some people, back in the day.
To the right of the stern Percy could see a pod of dolphins, diving in and out of the water. The sight eased his mind as he relaxed and embraced the philosophy of the show. He watched the pod until the sun set and darkness descended upon the sea. After a while, he felt the chill of night and then went back below deck to see what they were serving for dinner.
In the dining area it was a simple meal of stewed cabbage with sausages and other boiled vegetables. He had grown hungry through the day and ate the meal ravenously. The other contestants of the show all talked amongst themselves. It would seem, as he had gone to the stern to watch the land disappear, that they had all formed bonds with one another. Something now, that he was exclusively not a part of. It seemed that his actions had pre-destined him as the loner of the group and now he had to live with that fact. After finishing his meal, all the others went off somewhere else and he retired to his quarters to get some rest. He lay in the fishnet hammock and closed his eyes and before he knew it, he fell asleep.
He was woken up by one of the ship’s crew members who was shaking him in the hammock. He woke up with a rush of adrenaline and the sudden change in state made him flay around, so much so that he fell out of the hammock. The Japanese sailor attempted to communicate with him, but could not speak any English. Somehow, Percy gathered the information to follow him and so that’s what he did. He followed the sailor outside to the dining area. All of the others were already there, waiting for him. On the television screen was Suzy Yu. This time dressed up like a pirate in a black dress with a captain’s hat and an eye-patch covering her left eye.
“Ah… Mr. Percy. So glad you could join us.” The other contestants chuckled as Percy wiped the sleep from his eyes. It had seemed that events had been ongoing while Percy was undertaking his nap. And now, Suzy Yu introduced the next event, “You are all landlubbers!” She announced, “The next task is to test your own personal boundaries as you all scrub the deck overnight!” The Japanese sailing crew all came out with metal buckets full of warm soapy water and hand brushes. The hand brushes had a wooden handle and the bristles were thick and strong. Percy was handed his bucket and brush, as were the others.
And then Ian, who had taken the lead role as the alpha male of the pack began singing, “Oh, ho… It’s the pirate’s life for me! The pirate’s life for me!”
All of the others took up the song except for Percy, who stood there lost with his brush and bucket. ‘What the hell was going on?’ he thought. He did not voice out his concerns, but trailed after the others. Not singing a word as they all sung the jolly tune, up to the deck.
Once on deck they all began brushing the wooden deck of the ship with their buckets of warm soapy water. Every so often they would have their buckets refilled by various members of the crew. All of the other contestants were singing songs and talking amongst themselves as they went about their work. All except for Percy, who began conducing thoughts of contempt for his situation, and for the game show, ‘Why does this always bloody well happen to me!?’ He thought, ‘Every single farkin’ time!’
It went on for about two hours before all of the other contestants were released from their duties. Percy went to follow them back to the cabins, beneath the ship, but was interrupted by one of the Japanese crew who spoke in broken English, “No, not you. You stay. You stay and work.”
He was being punished for his nap, it would seem. And so he continued scrubbing the deck. All night long with the wooden brush and soapy water. The whole time his thoughts growing in their bitter distress, ‘Why does this always happen to me? Why do I always get left out?! It’s not my fault that nobody told me what was going on! They should have bloody woken me up! They should have talked to me, those cunts!’ The whole time brushing with the wooden brush with stiff bristles, right up until the sun started to rise, thinking, ‘Those cunts! Those cunts! Those cunts!’ He grew blisters on his hands, he scrubbed that hard.
At the sight of the sun, the same crew member who had spoken to him in broken English came up to him and said, “Go. Now. You finished.”
Percy handed over the wooden scrubbing brush and the bucket of soapy water. He went downstairs to the dining area to see that the others were all awake, eating breakfast. Suzy Yu was once more on the television, this time wearing a set of pajamas. She gave instructions to them all as they ate their breakfast which was a simple serving of cereal, complete with orange juice. “We will let Mr. Percy rest for four hours as he catches up on his rest. The rest of you have free time to do with it what you will.”
Percy listened to the announcement and did not say a word to the others as he retired to his quarters. He fell asleep almost instantaneously when he found his place in the fishnet hammock. His muscles were weary and they were relieved that they could finally rest.
Percy woke up four hours later. His muscles stiff from all of the hard labour of the previous night. The same Japanese crew member who spoke broken English woke him. Percy changed his clothes into a fresh set. His muscles were stiff and the act of changing clothes brought about a degree of pain. He then went to the dining area. There on the television, was Suzy Yu. Once again, all the others were already gathered there and they were talking amongst themselves discretely.
Suzy Yu was dressed up in militant styled clothing. She gave the instructions of the next assignment, “We are coming into Indonesian waters. The next assignment is a mysterious one. You will all be given a brief note of instructions written in English. You will then be given time to think about these instructions in your quarters. Remember, there can only be one winner.” Suzy Yu brought her hand to her mouth and snickered behind it.
All of the contestants were given a letter and escorted to their quarters. Percy went to his cabin and opened his letter which read, ‘You are all about to be let loose on a deserted island. You must find the others and listen to what they have to say.’ Percy sat down on the wooden floorboards of his quarters and thought about the note. Were the other contestants receiving the same instructions? If so, what was the point of this exercise? Perhaps finding each other on the island was the task… Percy thought about it for quite some time.
After an hour, one of the Japanese crew members came to retrieve him from his room. They didn’t say anything, but Percy followed them. They attached a small pin with a flower on it to his shirt. They told him, “Camera, camera.” To which Percy took note of the small camera now attached to his shirt. They took him out to the deck of the ship where they boarded a smaller wooden dingy. They were lowered into the sea by other crew members.
Looking at the island, it looked like it was sometime in the afternoon as the sun hung above, giving light to the whole thing. It was a wondrous sight to see as two Japanese sailors rowed to the shoreline of the island with him in the smaller vessel. There were seagulls and tropical birds flying overhead. The water itself was filled with tropical fish and rocks that made up a colourful reef. The island was filled with trees that he could not name and the island reached up in a tall hill that was covered with vegetation.
When they were close enough to shore, the sailors let him out. Being waist high in the water, he walked on and waded up to the island’s sandy shore.
Percy had worn pants and as he stepped out onto the shore, his wet pants and shoes gathered up sand. He didn’t want to sit down, for fear of sitting down would gather up too much of the residue on the shore. As he walked, his shoes pressing down into the sand, his shoes became lathered in sand. As did the hem of his pants. He looked towards the centre of the island, determining which was the best path to take to find the others. If he ventured off to the centre of the island, he would probably become lost in the maze of its vegetation. It was unknown what sort of fauna he would find within its depths. Perhaps snakes and other creatures, the thought frightened him. But if he stuck to the outskirts of the island, perhaps he would find some of the others. And if they had the same thoughts as him about the potential threats at the centre of the island, then… Well, that settled it. He would circle the island until he ran into one of the others.
So that’s what Percy did. He began trekking around the outskirts of the island. There were some rock formations that he had to navigate around. But for the most part he was walking on sand. Every step that he took would leave an imprint. The sun baring down upon him slowly dried his pants and apart from the chaff between his legs, the walk was comfortable.
He came to a turn in the island’s terrain and up ahead he could see one of the other contestants. It was another man and he sat, seated on the island’s shoreline, with his head in his hands, talking to himself in what appeared to be some form of panic. As Percy closed in on the distance he could make out that it was Christian. He was wearing shorts, a shirt and a jacket. As Percy approached, Christian did not seem to notice him. Percy could hear him muttering to himself, “What the fark am I going to do? What the fark am I going to do?”
The closer Percy came, the realization came upon him that Christian was quite distressed and in tears. Percy called out to him, “Christian! I found you, why the long face?”
Christian got up in an instant and throwing sand up and entering a cautionary pose yelled back at him, “You stay away from me! You stay the hell away from me, ya’ hear!”
Percy threw his hands up in the air, “What’s going on Christian? What did your set of instructions say?”
“You know what they bloody well said! We all got the same instructions!”
“I don’t think that’s the case Christian, mine said to find the others and listen to what they had to say. Now, what did yours’ say?”
Christian looked at him sideways, attempting to ascertain if Percy was telling the truth or not. Instead of replying he scrunched up the piece of paper that he had taken with him and threw it in Percy’s direction. Then he called out, “Now, you give me yours’!” So Percy scrunched up his instructions and threw them towards Christian. Then went to pick up Christian’s instructions. Percy unwrapped the ball of scrunched up paper and read the instructions to himself, they read, ‘Have you ever seen that Japanese film ‘Battle Royale’? Be prepared for your own version as you and the other contestants face it off in a deathmatch styled competition.’ As Percy read Christian’s instructions, Christian read his. Percy broke a sweat of the prospect of being involved in such a situation. He wiped sweat from his brow and ran his hand through his hair. Christian was the one who broke the silence between them, “How do I know you didn’t just write this down to act as some sort of trick?”
“You don’t…” Percy muttered.
“Then why the fark would I trust you!?” Christian called out. Christian raised his fists, preparing to attack Percy.
At seeing this Percy called out, “Hold on now. Maybe, before we set about killing one another we should find one of the others to see what their instructions say.”
“Okay, okay…” Christian calmed himself, lowering his fists.
“Maybe, if your set of instructions are telling the truth… Then maybe, maybe we should team up.”
“Team up?” Christian looked at him sideways.
“Yeah, team up. That Ian guy looks pretty fit. I don’t think either one of us would be able to take him on single handedly. But together…”
“Together…” Christian continued the stream of thought in his own head.
Percy waited for a moment to let the idea settle in Christian’s mind before he continued, “Are you with me?”
Christian looked up and met Percy’s eyes, “Yeah, I’m with you.”
They decided to stay away from the shoreline where they would be easily sighted and enter into the vegetation of the island. There was a small path that had been cut out from where they stood. The island was deserted, but by the look of the path it hadn’t always been that way. Christian refused to walk in the lead, saying that he wanted to make sure he kept an eye on Percy at all times. Percy was going to give up complaint, but he remembered something he had once read somewhere. That if they were in a predatory situation, a predator is more likely to pick off animals at the back of the pack rather than the front. That is, that the attack if it occurred, would go unnoticed if one was picked off at the back rather than the front. Christian obviously didn’t have access to this information and so, without informing Christian of the facts, Percy submitted to his proposal.
The two of them began walking through the path cut out in the island’s jungle, with Percy in the lead and Christian trailing behind. Christian would keep his distance, still somewhat undecided upon Percy’s motivations. There was definitely a level of paranoia that was at play in the situation. And as the two of them trekked through the island, Percy would throw his head back to keep an eye on Christian every so often. But for the most part Percy’s mind wandered, trying to make sense of the confusing situation. ‘Why would they give us different instructions? Why would they even pretend to make out as if this were a life and death scenario?’ It was confusing, it was a mind-fuck and there was nothing Percy could do to resolve the situation without having full access to the facts. He looked around in the high grass as they walked. Every so often there would be a rustling, movement from some smaller creature native to the island. He would catch a glimpse of the small creatures every so often. Sometimes a small bird, sometimes a mouse or other squirrel-like creature. With such creatures, there was sure to be snakes amongst the inhabitants of the island. He took careful note to avoid any such rendezvous, making sure the path ahead was clear.
They stuck to the path and the sun grew heavy, making Percy sweat and tire. Every so often Percy would swerve his head back in the direction of Christian, calling out, “You still there?”
Christian would always be clear in his vision, about fifteen meters back, and call out, “Yeah, I’m here.”
The path twisted and turned in all different directions. As the two continued walking, Percy’s thoughts avoided clarity and were propelled furthermore into the way of confusion and paranoid thinking. He thought about how the organisers of the show had all made him stay away, scrubbing the deck of the barque until the sun rose. His hands still bore the blisters of that event. The organisers of the show were arseholes. They hadn’t treated him kindly… Perhaps this had been their plan all along. To give him a set of instructions different from the others, to make him easy prey. With the heat, making his mind warp a little, he let out a little laugh and muttered to himself, “Motherfuckers! Those motherfuckers!”
Up ahead there was a small creek that ran through the path. Percy licked his lips, perhaps he would be able to take a small reprieve from it. Not to quench his thirst, but to wash his face to beat away the heat. It had become so dry with the sun shining the way it did. He quickened his pace and raced up ahead to its waters.
By the creek he found a tree that had fallen nearby, he sat down and the waters within reach. He took a moment to wash his face and then he looked around. Christian was nowhere to be seen. Where the hell was Christian? This gave birth to Percy’s heightened sensitivities as he looked around panicked.
In the other direction came a sweaty and dishevelled Ian. The two met one another’s stare without knowing what to say to the other. “Where’s Christian?” Percy called out.
Ian was out of breath, the sun had taken its effect upon him and he looked around confused, “Christian?” He looked around confused.
Percy found a rock the size of his palm from the creek bed and hid it behind his back. “Yeah, the guy that was following me.”
“Look… Percy…” Ian was out of breath, it was clear that he had spent his time running around the island, “I know about the deathmatch…”
Before Ian could get in another word, Percy charged towards him with rock in hand. It was a matter of a short distance between the two. Ian raised his hands to defend himself, but it was no good. Percy came down upon him with primal energy. Hammering the rock into his skull over and over and over again. The hammering of Percy’s arm, encrusted with a sharp rock enclosed in his fist split open Ian’s skull. Ian let out one last wail before he submitted himself to the great darkness of the unknown. Even after Ian’s body slumped onto the ground, Percy would not stop hammering the rock into Ian’s skull. It was an act of pure bestial motivations, fuelled by paranoia and heightened by fear.
After the primal attack, Percy lay there. Out of breath and searching the area for any other would-be assailants. Ian’s skull had been split in and blood pooled down onto the ground, mixing with the dirt that made up the pathway through the island.
After a moment, from the path behind him, came Christian. Racing to catch up. He turned around the corner and bore witness to the aftermath of the event. He looked on at Ian’s body, with it’s beaten in skull. Christian’s face turned pale and he turned to his side and threw up.
“Where the fark were you?” Percy asked of the absentee Christian.
“I was…” Christian regathered his senses, “Christ! You really did it, didn’t you? You really did it!”
“I did what needed to be done.” Percy stated, wiping snot away from his nose.
“I was taking a crap in the jungle. I didn’t want to alert you because you might attack me. I’m… I’m sorry.”
They remained silent there for some time. They were both taking it in… The reality of what they were both involved in now. Some primal competition where there could only be one winner. After a while, Percy regained his breath and senses. He noticed a white piece of paper sticking out of the body’s pants pocket. Ian’s instructions.
Percy pulled the instructions out and read it to himself, they read, ‘One of the male contestants thinks this is a deathmatch competition. The other male doesn’t know what is going on. Your task is to find the others and talk sense into them. There is no deathmatch. Then, meet with the other contestants in the centre of the island. Remember: no violence!’
After reading the instructions, Percy looked up at the sky and called out, “Faarrrrk!!!”
After that, the authorities of the show intervened. They ceased filming immediately. Christian read the instructions too, he was appalled at what had happened. Both Christian and Percy were furious with the show’s creators. But they were aptly reminded that when they signed on to the show that it was going to be a non-violent series of events. Christian and Percy were separated. Christian was taken somewhere else to be counseled on the traumatic event that he had just witnessed. Meanwhile, Percy was taken into custody by Indonesian authorities.
It would seem that the only one that was on his side during all of these events was the show’s host, ‘Suzy Yu’. She was seen screaming and arguing with the show’s producers, “I told you bastards it was too much! You can’t do this to people! You can’t do it!”
Percy was taken by the Indonesian authorities and put under armed guard. First the Indonesian coastguard came and picked him up from the island. Taking him into custody where he would be transported to the Javanese mainland. As Percy sat in custody, he felt numb as his mind rolled on exactly what had happened.
They had set him up… Or set them up. In a way so that they could deflect the blame of the events onto the contestants. That’s why the show’s executive, Miss Nunnagga, had been so persistent about the fact that the show was supposed to be ‘completely non-violent fun’.
It was true, the show’s producers couldn’t rely on an actual situation like this breaking out. But the first filming of a murder, on a national television show. Those bastards could only hope for a worst case scenario like this to boost their ratings. The event would make world news, a tragedy such as this one. The filming of events leading up to the action. There was no denying the fact that Percy had acted with malice and committed murder. They had it all on camera. The only argument that he could offer was that he was under mental duress when the events occurred. But arguing that in front of an Indonesian court system would be a difficult case to make.
And Ian… The guy that he had beaten in his skull with a rock. His family and friends would be vehement that justice was served.
There was no arguing it. It would have been written down somewhere in the contract that they had all signed. Acts of violence were strictly prohibited towards other contestants, film crew and producers of the show. They had all been made aware of this fact.
Indonesian law still carried with it the death penalty. As Percy sat in his Javanese prison cell, with blue cobblestone walls, he sat there and took it all in. What had happened. What was going to happen. The searing waves of torment that blistered at his soul and crunched his mind into an inner state of fiery purgatory. He pulled at the strands of his hair and could not stop himself from cursing, “Fark! Fark! Fark!”
He began pacing back and forth in the empty prison cell, awaiting for the bureaucracy and the justice system to begin processing his case.
There was a metal bucket in the cell, as he was pacing back and forth he paused before it. In anguish and rage he kicked at the bucket that contained faecal matter from the previous inhabitants of the cell. Shit sprayed up against the blue cobblestone walls. And as he ran his fingers over the walls, painting a series of lines with his fingers that were covered in shit. He called out, to no one in particular, “Are you still filming yar’ cunts!? Are you still filming!?!” Before collapsing to his knees in a fit of tears.