Day 37 – The X Factor

My parents were watching the X Factor when I was with them last night and, along with the help of my Dad, wondered where the show might be in thirty years time if it was this bad already. I’m sort of semi-proud of this one.


Word count: 969



They stood in a row, four metres apart and hands by their sides. As the lights descended, they were splashed with a waterfall of red, white and blue. Above them the ominous white light circled like a vulture. This was Jeremy’s fourth week in the live shows. The tension was ever mounting for he never expected to get this far through the competition.

At first he surpassed his wild volitions by coasting through the auditions; now every week he was performing for the public at large. Every week he had to out do himself – and the others. Every week he must better himself. Every week he must achieve beyond the impossible. Jeremy’s entire life depended on it. He couldn’t fail – he couldn’t give up or give an ordinary performance. Everything had to be spectacular, amazing.

There was no low they could not stoop to. There were no rules of cheating, no guidelines on what part of their lives they could and couldn’t sell to the media. It was every man for himself and everyone had a fair running providing that they were fast paced, unpredictable, edgy, borderline legal and always straying off the garden path. There was no room for second rate contestants. They were purged in the first few stages. The live shows were for the ones who were worth it: and no one but the winner could escape the white predatory light above.

Jeremy clenched his teeth and glued his lids down, praying with all his might that it would not be him this week. Sweat was pouring down from his forehead not from the heat of the studio but from the sheer intensity of the pressure, the worry, the stress, the exhaustion. Jeremy had given all he could give, he thought. He’d sung his heart out, he’d pounced through the right hoops and bent to all his mentor’s desires. It couldn’t possibly be his turn this week. He could be eliminated. He just couldn’t.

The Music played before falling silent. It was always the same music each week. Three and a half seconds that sent a shiver down Jeremy’s spine every time. He glanced to his left and saw Francesca. Her face was plastered with inches of make up and silicone. It wasn’t the same girl he met on the third day. To his right was Simon. He was overcome with sadness when he saw his pathetic costume. From the side of the stage he knew that his performance hadn’t been good enough. The audience hadn’t reacted well. Jeremy gagged with sadness as he realised that this might be the end for Simon. Simon returned the same look: their thoughts were identical.

The presenter waltzed up and down the stage in front of them, slurring indiscernible drivel into the microphone while the eight remaining contestants quivered on the knife edge. The judges sat at their table, reigning their power like kings and queens. In the thirty years that this had been running, only one thing had remained static. It was still Us against Them. Jeremy eyed them up and quietly judged them, as he had done so every week so far. The two men were dressed in suits sharper than an F sharp. Meanwhile the glamour puss girls grinned like the cats that got the cream in their million pound dresses, solid platinum jewellery and shoes hand crafted by the finest cobblers in Italy. Their perfect skin radiated with plastic surgery.

The Music played again. Jeremy glanced to the right. The ray of light had fallen on Simon as he had expected. Though, despite the wave of sadness and sympathy that came over him, Jeremy still could not fully bite back the second tide of relief that – at least for this week – he was safe.

Simon, contrary, was in tears. It was as if a dam burst and there was nothing that could be done to hold them back now. The presenter hugged Simon and tended to his tears. Jeremy and the others watched on in utter bemusement. It was the same every week. No one could quite believe what was happening and no one could really comprehend that they were playing this game. It was twenty-thirty-seven: what had the world come to?

The presenter took Simon to the centre stage and the others, including Jeremy, shuffled out of the last of the limelight that Simon would receive. From through the darkness of the audience, Jeremy could see Simon’s family – utterly distraught. Jeremy caught Francesca’s eyes as she turned away. Jeremy noticed that despite her appearance, her persona and the mask she adorned for her loving fans, she was the only one who looked away every time. Jeremy continued to look onwards. Soon it would be his time and he needed to learn to look at the final curtain until the end. He would not suffer shame in his final moments of fame.

As usual the lights went dark save for the beam of white light around Simon and, though Jeremy could not currently see, he knew that a red X had appeared presently in the centre of Simon’s forehead. It was now only a matter of seconds. The presenter stood back and the judges fanned themselves in impatience. From the corner of his eye he could see Francesca wincing in preparation. Jeremy’s heart morphed into stone as it usually did; the shot was fired from the blackness and the bullet hurtled through the air and pierced through Simon’s skull, splattering grey matter everywhere. Jeremy could see the live slow motion replay in his head. This would be one to remember. Simon’s warm body fell to the ground; just another victim to the amusement of the chimpanzees that swung down from the trees and learned to light fire to keep the darkness at bay.

~ by S.G. Mark on November 13, 2011.

2 Responses to “Day 37 – The X Factor”

  1. Brutal!

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