• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 06

Unnamed Reality TV Show

They started a garden in the backyard, ripped up the fake grass around the stained red basketball court. They found some seeds in a cupboard and planted lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro. One of the participants was a struggling YouTube chef and showed them how to cure the remaining meat. They were tired, skinny and malnourished and had long since finished off the hot dogs and alcohol.

The producers told them about the pandemic two years ago. They had the night to think about if they wanted to stay or go home to their families. Arrangements would be made in the morning. There were no wrong decisions. When no one came back, Joe, the man with two daughters, who wore grey sweatpants and did chin ups in the living room, jumped the backyard fence to find himself in a larger complex, one with locked doors that needed security cards. Defeated, he returned with bags of chocolate and 30 year old scotch.

The cameras pointed at them every day, their little red lights blinking. They went in for daily testimonials, first to ask for help, for someone get them out of there, then to just stare vacantly at the wall. It was their only appointment. It helped them keep time.

There was a pregnancy, a death. A wedding, a cheating scandal, a divorce. Lots of birthdays and unlikely friendships. They all hated each other and loved each other and divulged their deepest darkest secrets because what else were they going to do. They couldn't play poker because they knew each other's tells like they knew their own faces.

One morning the house shuddered to a stop. The empty, industrial sized fridge powered down. Everyone woke up to an eerie stillness they couldn't quite place until they realized the lights in the windowless testimonial room wouldn't turn on.


Unnamed Reality TV Show

Joe hopped the fence again, slower this time. Opened all the doors to find stores of food slowly thawing, expensive filming equipment covered in dust, a door under an exit sign that creaked open, that he had to push with the whole weight of his frail body.

A crowd cheered. His daughters threw their arms around him. He had done it. He had made them so much money.