The Contest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
How Billy became the Ultimate Supreme Archon.

Submitted: September 23, 2016

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Submitted: September 23, 2016

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The Contest

 

“ Five minutes,” Beau shouted, holding up five fingers. Billy nodded. ‘Thank heaven for the air blasting in the side door.’ It felt like it came from an oven, but it was the only thing keeping him from puking. He did not want to puke on himself, and he definitely did not want to puke on the horse, this huge, white horse he was sitting on.

Closing his eyes and leaning forward, Billy rested his head on the horse’s neck. ‘ What am I doing?  Sitting on a horse, flying around in a helicopter?’  Billy thought, and then, ‘This is the biggest horse I’ve ever seen.’ With his costume, and the harness, and all the straps, Billy was sweating like a pig. ‘Do pigs really sweat?’ he wondered. He remembered reading that horses sweat twice as much as people Looking at the puddles beneath the horse, he could believe that. He really didn’t know about pigs.

He straightened up and the horse looked around. Billy had never been this close to a horse before. With its own harness and straps, plus a huge diaper, he knew the horse was suffering too. Looking into the horse’s eyes, he tried to tell; was it angry? drugged maybe? He couldn’t tell. With a dismissive snort, the horse swung its head around to face the open door. Leaning back down, Billy gave the horse a pat, ‘ I know how you feel. I know just how you feel. It’s gonna be okay.’ They were in this together. All they could do was circle the stadium, and wait.

Beau came over, touched him on the shoulder and boomed into his ear, “ Three minutes, Billy.” ‘Billy,’ that’s what everyone called him when he was young. His father was ‘ Bill.’ He was ‘ Billy.’ That changed when he started practicing, and decided ‘ William ‘ sounded more mature, more professional.‘ William ’  was elected councilman, and then mayor. It was ‘ William’ who became Governor. ‘ William ‘ had done all that, not ‘ Billy.’

“ Billy.” Rex had called him ‘ Billy,’ earlier in the year, and then gave one of his typical apologies the next day. ” I did? Look, his friends call him ‘ Billy’... Right? ‘ Billy,‘ perfectly good name. Had a friend in sixth grade named ‘ Billy,  ‘Billy ‘Sherman. Looked just like the kid from that kids’ magazine... The kid with the stupid grin and the big, I mean really big, ears. If people want to call him ‘ Billy,’ that’s OK with me. It’s a perfectly good name...Yep, ‘ Billy’ Sherman ... had huge ears... really, really huge ears.,...huge.”

Rex wasn’t here tonight. Earlier today, Rex had been late for rehearsal. When he finally got to the stadium, Harry Billy - the actual alligator wrestler - had been sitting on the ‘gator’s back for almost an hour. Harry had pinned the ‘gator down and secured its snout with duct tape.

The plan was, once Rex and the horse had landed on the stage, the horse would go down on its front legs and Rex would dismount. He would stride across the stage ( acknowledging the crowd’s cheers the whole way ), and sit down behind Harry on the gator. Instead, Rex  - who was almost twice Harry’s size - bulldozed his way in front of Harry, and plopped himself down, right behind the gator’s head.

Trying to keep from falling off the alligator, Harry wrapped his arms around Rex. Suddenly, WHOOOSH!, a burst of air made Rex’s hair start to float skyward. Rex took both hands to grab it. The gator whipped its head to the right. Rex and Harry teetered to the left. The gator flung its head to the other side. Rex and Harry swung back to the right. The gator jerked its head back to the left. Harry lost his grip on Rex and fell backwards. Rex fell forward. The duct tape fell off. The gator snapped its head around, opened wide its jaws, and slammed them shut, right on Rex’s head.

With Rex’s head in its mouth, the gator instinctively went into a death roll. Rex’s body stayed with his head for the first roll but, the second time around, it just couldn’t keep up. According to one of the crew, it sounded just like ‘ when you pop the cork on a bottle of warm champagne... really warm champagne.’  Harry Billy slipped and slid and up to the gator, and put a bullet between its eyes. Lying there with the new trophy in its mouth, Harry said it looked like ‘  that gator was grinnin’, just grinnin’ sumthin’ fierce.’

So, Rex wasn’t here tonight; because some assistant ( who moved to Australia after getting death threats accusing her of working for the other contestant ) had bought cheap duct tape. You just never know.

If Billy had opened his eyes, he could have seen the 100,000 people in the stadium, exactly 50,000 on each side. Separated by the new, higher wall, which divided the stadium -and the parking lot -they had filed into the stadium through separate entrances. Only after they had settled into their own side, could the two groups see each other for the first time. On the heavily guarded field between them were two identical stages, each facing its own side of the stadium.

Like Billy and the horse, everyone in the stadium was dripping sweat. Hot as it was, no rain was in the forecast.  All the representatives on both sides were wearing their government-issued, beige smocks. (The no-clothes thing hadn’t really worked out.) The‘ No permanent alterations‘ restriction as to the smocks had been gotten around by using chalk. One side had used black chalk to put on their smocks the designs and slogans expressing what they stood for, and what they stood against. The other side had thrown colored chalk dust all over each other, and looked like they had just come from a ‘ color run.’

As different as the sides looked on the outside, they were surprisingly similar on the inside. Each was united by two things; a fierce, burning, rabid-like belief in their own contestant, and a complete and absolute hatred of the other side; a hatred so strong you could feel it in the air. If you tried hard enough, you could almost see it, rising like steam from a pile of fresh cow dung.

Everyone in the stadium was here tonight because they each had a unique way to make noise. Simulations had convinced advisors that it wasn’t a lot of people making the same noise that got the highest acoustic emission sensor reading. No, they were certain you got the highest reading from a blending of many different sounds. All those different sounds together were supposed to move the needle the most, and moving the needle is what mattered.

Every participant had been selected for the ability to produce a special sound. There were screamers, belchers ( real and fake), farters (  real and fake), crying babies,( real), rebel-yellers, whistlers, hand clappers, opera singers, rock and rollers, foot stompers ( size 15 and above), yodelers, chanters, funeral wailers, chest slappers, hog callers, football fans, ( pro and college), cheerleaders ( high school only), plus many, many more, all with the ability to produce their own, unique sound. All noise you made had to come from you and your body alone. Nothing mechanical or electronic was allowed. If you tried to bring anything in through the scanners to help you, you were escorted away; as a penalty, so was the person behind you

There were only two contestants tonight; all the others had been eliminated. Surprisingly, many supporters of those who had been eliminated had joined the very same group which had eliminated their own favorite. If you asked them why, their answer was simple, ‘Anyone from our side is better than anyone from the other.’

The rules were simple. Each contestant had sixty seconds in which to make their presentation. When they were finished, their supporters had sixty seconds to make as much noise as possible. The acoustic emissions sensor would register the highest level reached. That reading was their contestant’s final score. After a brief media break, the other side would repeat the process. Whichever contestant registered the highest reading became the new “ Ultimate Supreme Archon,” otherwise known as “ The Grand Poobah.”

Down in the stadium, the first contestant ( who had drawn the short straw ) leaped out of her helicopter ( painted in camouflage colors, except for her name in reflective paint on the sides ) just as it touched down on the stage. Dressed in full combat gear, she hit the floor, did a complete body roll, and came up blazing away with rubber bullets at the black clad figures at the end of the stage. Fake blood splattered everywhere!  There were only two errant rounds. (One of them struck a black figure in the crotch. The other hit an opera singer sitting in the third row in the head. Both lawsuits were settled out of court.) Not bad for someone who had only said she “liked to shoot,” not that she was any good at it.

She threw the still smoking weapon aside ( later sold at auction for $300K ), and ripped off her uniform.  Underneath was a sequined, red, white and blue, one piece jump suit. Moving to her X on the stage floor, she stood still and raised her arms away from her sides. The drone flew in and fastened her to itself. Together, they rose above the stage.

They flew in a slow motion circuit, showering the people below with gold coins and candy. Twice she swooped down closer to the stage to pat the heads of children. There was only one small glitch, when the drone pilot in Albuquerque sneezed violently, and she accidentally knocked over one of the kids in a wheel chair. The drone set her down on a second, elevated stage, released her and left. She stepped in front of a full, tuxedoed orchestra, flanked on both sides by singers in sparkling, red, white, and blue robes.

When the orchestra and back-up singers launched into the unofficial national anthem, she flipped on her microphone and stepped into the spotlight. She could actually sing a little bit, ( better than she could shoot, anyway ), and the sound mixer, plus the auto tune, made her sound absolutely wonderful. When she got to the big finish, fireworks and lasers illuminated the sky above the stadium. She spread her arms wide and bowed her head. Her presentation had taken exactly 58 seconds. On cue, her supporters leaped to their feet and let loose with all the noise they could muster. Standing in the spotlight, with outstretched hands, she lifted her head, smiled, and thought, ‘ I’m too old for this.’

Billy heard the crowd, and knew his opponent was getting a tremendous reading. Now, it was his turn. His helicopter was white. On both sides were huge national flag decals, hastily plastered over the gold letters of Rex’s name. Descending into the stadium, with spotlights bouncing off it, the chopper began spewing red, white and blue smoke. Exactly thirty feet above the stage, it stopped its descent.

The spotlights focused on Billy in the open door, wearing his sequined white costume and sitting on the huge white horse.  Beau stuck Rex’s size 8, pearlescent 10 gal hat on his head, yelled “ Good luck, Billy!”, and slapped the horse on the rear. Startled, the horse hurled itself out the door. The sudden jolt of 2,000 pounds made Billy’s harness come loose.

Down they went, lopsided, slowly spinning.The wind came up and blew the over-sized hat off Billy’s head, and he watched it float away. The horse turned his head and gave him a ‘ What the hell is going on?’ look. Like a circus monkey, Billy leaned forward and clung to the horse’s sweaty neck.The spotlights followed them all the way down. Billy slowly slipped around until he was hanging upside down, his back pointed toward the stage. When they were just above the stage, the horse lowered his head, and Billy slid off. He lay there on his back until he realized he wasn’t even hurt. ‘ Thank you, Lord.’ he said to himself, and then, out loud, ” Thank you, horse.”

Billy rolled over. He was getting to his knees when the horse suddenly swung around. The diaper came loose, and its contents hit the stage with a loud splash. On the next spin around, the horse bumped into Billy and knocked him down. He fell, face first, right into the pile of fresh manure. While Billy was lying face down, the chopper eased the horse down beside Billy, released it, and flew away.

The stadium was silent. The horse lowered his head and gave Billy a nudge. Billy didn’t move. Silence.The horse nudged him again, as if to say ‘ You’re okay. Come on. Get up. Come on. You’re okay.’ Trying to stand, Billy slipped and fell again into the steaming pile of manure. Unable to open his eyes, he gripped onto the horse’s mane and pulled himself up. He stood there motionless, head down, facing the wrong way. The whole stadium was silent. Then, there were a few isolated snickers, then more snickers, and still more. The snickers turned to laughs. Soon, one whole side was laughing uncontrollably. 

Realizing what was happening, Billy’s team leaders turned to their frozen representatives and gave them the signal. Instantly, all that laughter was joined by 50,000 belching, farting, stomping, hog-calling, rebel-yelling, whistling, chest slapping Billy supporters. The meter’s needle went to maximum and stayed there.

With the spotlight still on him, Billy slowly raised his head. There was one deafening roll of thunder and it started to rain. Billy turned his head upward. The rain got harder. He smiled, and then he laughed. He leaned his head back even further, and stretched out his arms, palms up. The rain came down even harder. Sensing his cue, the horse bowed down, and Billy leaned over and gave him a hug. Laughing, he turned to face his own side of the stadium. His people got louder. The cheerleaders on the other side screamed at their people,“ Shut up! Stop it! All of you! Stop it right now!” 

His side stopped making their different noises and began chanting,“ WILLIAM! WILLIAM! WILLIAM!,” and then, ”BILLY! BILLY! BILLY!”  The other side joined in. The whole stadium was screaming his name.

Billy brought his hands back down, threw his chest out, bent his arms at the elbow, and held out his hands, palms up. This was one of Rex’s favorite gestures, and Billy felt he should be embarrassed by doing it, but somehow he wasn’t. He did another slow turnaround, pausing to acknowledge both sides of the stadium. The chant got even louder. People swore the stadium moved, but engineers said that was impossible.

It was over, and would soon be official, ‘ Billy’ Wilson was the new Ultimate Supreme Archon, aka the ‘ Grand Poobah.’ You really just never know.

 

 

 


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