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Author's Chapter Notes:
Tag: May I Ride With You.

 

The three detectives were annoyed, but Pregis Philbon refused to relinquish control over his top rated show. He glanced at the younger man, the one that had saved his life earlier. "Look, Officer…?"

"Caine, Detective Peter Caine," the young man answered, and then introduced himself and then the officers standing beside him. "This is Detective Jody Powell and Detective Kermit Griffin."

"Kermit?" Pregis snorted. "Does Miss Piggy know you here?"

"Another crack about my name and you'll be seeing stars, and I don't mean the rich ones that gather at award shows either," the man in green glasses threatened. "Now, for the last time, are you going to allow us to place…"

"But I keep telling you," the game show host argued, "If we have the police sitting with the audience, it's going to ruin the show. The news media will have a field day, especially at my expense."

"And how many times do we have to tell you that some of the contestants on tonight's show is dangerous?" Jody countered.

"Just because I'm a well known celebrity doesn't mean I can't defend myself." Pregis grinned, trying to convince the detectives. "I have you know that I…."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Kermit interrupted. "You have forty-five black belts, and your hands are registered with the FBI as lethal weapons."

"Kermit," Peter said, placing a hand on the detective's shoulder. "Let me try this, okay?"

"Whatever," the detective muttered and left the small dressing room.

"I'll talk to him," Jody offered, following Kermit out the door.

"Mr. Philbon," Peter began, "Would you consider allowing the police to be present if they appeared to be members of your audience? I promise, neither the network nor the audience will know they're there."

"Undercover?" Pregis asked and pondered the suggestion. The networks were in the middle of rating sweeps and ABC wanted a big win in the timeslot 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' occupied. The game show was usually a ratings bonanza and considering the mindless reality shows the networks kept putting on the air, the viewing public would at least have the opportunity to think for a change. "Okay, officer, you have a deal, but please keep the number down to a minimal. Perhaps you, the lovely lady, and Mr. Sunshine would be enough?"

"More than enough," Peter replied and exited the room, leaving the game show host to think about the upcoming telecast.

--------------------------------------------------------

Hours Later

Pregis leaned back in the chair while the make-up assistant continued to apply the powder puff against his face.

"I'm surprised the network agreed to a live broadcast from Chinatown," the woman said. She put the puff down on the table and turned the chair around to face the mirror. "Our ratings are great, why rock the boat?"

"Why not?" He asked, smiling at himself in the mirror. "If the ratings are great in Chinatown, who knows where our next location might be?" 

Someone knocked on the dressing room door.

"Mr. Philbon," a young man called and stuck his head inside the door. "The contestants have been seated."

"Thanks George," he replied, getting to his feet. He adjusted his tie and left the small room, taking his time as he walked down the long corridor.

The noise of a large audience grew louder as he approached the set. A stagehand handed him two index cards containing notes on the ten guests waiting to start the game.

"It looks like we have some real characters tonight, Mr. Philbon," the man said.

As usual, Pregis walked out onto the set to a standing ovation. To show his gratitude, he took time to shake a few hands, sign some autographs, and answer a couple of questions from the audience.

Five minutes later, he walked across the studio and addressed the ten contestants. "We've got ten minutes before air time. We can spend that time getting to know one another, and hopefully loosen everyone up." He touched his chest and smiled. "Everyone knows who I am, so there's no need to introduce myself."

"Well, I have a question," a young oriental man with a ponytail snickered as he accepted two women's telephone numbers. "Who does your hair? Roto Rotor?"

Pregis gaped at the rude man whose toothy grin reminded him of Erik Estrada. He started to reply but one of the women cut him off. 

"Owwwh Jack," she cooed, playing with the ponytail. "You're adorable."

"Tell me something I don't know, baby," Jack replied, kissing her hand before turning to his other admirer. His eyes moved up and down her body. "I've got my eye on you."

"Like what you see?" she asked suggestively while running her long fingernail across his lips. "You've got my number, call me anytime."

"Hey! Hey! Hey!" Pregis shouted, interrupting the trio. "This is Who Wants to be a Millionaire not the Dating Game." He snapped his fingers and pointed towards the audience. "Would you two please take your seats?"

The two women huffed, but did as he requested. They took their time returning to their seats, delighting in the catcalls and whistles from the crowd. Jack Wong laughed, obviously enjoying the attention he and the women were getting.

Deciding the man had taken enough of his time, Pregis moved to the far end of the contestants’ row, leaving Jack to begin a conversation with another group of female admirers.

A beautiful blond woman occupying the first chair caught Pregis' attention. As he approached, she gave him a glare that would have frozen an erupting volcano. He cleared his throat and searched the audience, hoping to find a friendly face. He spotted the three detectives sitting in the front row. An 'I told you so' expression crossed Jody Powell's face, but she remained silent and turned her attention to the audience.

Philbon moved back to the contestants, silently praying this episode would tape without incident. A blond, curly-haired man with piercing blue eyes sat next to the woman glaring at him. Both individuals were dressed in black and both gave him the creeps. Why hadn't the producers screened these people before allowing them on the show?

He took a deep breath, realizing he couldn't exclude them and approached the young woman again. "Care to share your life story with the audience?" he asked, lowering the microphone. Her lips curled into a sexy smile.

Perhaps he had misjudged her. She was beautiful, but he had to admit he was curious as to why she was wearing a cape. He moved closer and read her nametag. "How do you pronounce your name? It's unusual."

The woman laughed and wiggled her finger, beckoning him closer. "Xia," she answered, her sexy voice turning husky and evil. He pulled back, surprised by the echoing in her vocals. "I'd love to rip out your heart and feed it to pigeons."

Pregis pulled back, unnerved by the way her voice echoed. "Moving right along," he muttered, and went to the next contestant. The man in black chuckled, amused by the woman's malevolent attitude.

Leave it to his crew to find wackos in a small city like Chinatown. Pregis studied the man, positive he had seen him somewhere. He snapped his fingers. "Didn't you play on Cagney and Lacey?" He started laughing. "Those two women really made you look like an idiot." 

"Your insult will not go unpunished," the man thundered. Fog appeared behind the man and within seconds, engulfed him. Deep, sinister laughter echoed throughout the smoke.

"Where's Siegfried and Roy when you need them?" Philbon quipped, coughing and waving his hands in front of his face. Someone was going to pay for this. Mistakes were one thing, but deliberately playing practical jokes just before show time was a whole other category. He'd have someone's job before this night was over.

Pregis turned, relieved to discover the fog was clearing only to run into something. He looked up and found the man in black standing in front of him.

"I am the Chi' Ru Master," the man declared. He returned to his seat but not before issuing one last threat. "We will meet again very soon, and it will be the last time."

"Well, Chill Dude Mas..."

"CHI' RU!" the blond haired man shouted.

"Sorry, simple mistake."

"I've killed people for less."

"And after this episode my career's going to be dead," Pregis predicted. He quickly moved to the next contestant, and let out a sigh of relief. He recognized the contestant as the young cop's father. "Good to see a friendly face," he said, shaking the man's hand. "I never got your name."

"Caine," the man answered in a soft voice. Applause broke out as soon as he said his name.

"You seem very popular, Caine," Pregis replied, looking into the cheering audience.

"Come to Chinatown, ask for Caine..."

"AND HE WILL HELP YOU!!!" the crowd shouted in unison, drowning out Caine's words.

Pregis glanced down at the index card and noticed something peculiar. "I understand that you originally didn't call in on our phone lines. How about explaining what happened."

"Yeah, tell 'em, Pop," an angry voice yelled from the audience.

Caine turned to the audience and addressed the young man sitting in the front row. "Peter, please, it was not my fault," the priest pleaded. "It was you who told me to listen into the phone. How was I to know someone would ask for my name the exact moment you were in the...."

"Never mind," the young man shouted, turning a deep shade of red before sliding down into the seat.  

The audience started laughing.

"When you gotta go," Pregis joked, thankful he had control over the situation again, "you gotta go."

"Oh, yeah!"

"Shut up, Kermit,"

The laughter died down, and Pregis turned his attention back to Caine. He nodded in Xia and the Chi' Ru Master's direction. "Friends of yours?"

"They are not!" Caine admitted, staring at the two of them.

"I shall avenge my father, priest," Xia hissed.

"And your fate will be as his if you continue to follow his path," Caine replied solemnly.

"Is that a threat, priest?" Xia stood and shoved her cape behind her back. "Prepare yourself."

"SIT DOWN!!!" a voice boomed from the audience. Pregis turned and saw Kermit standing with a weapon pointed at the two rude contestants. What was the detective hunting with that thing? dinosaurs?

Several in the crowd started screaming, others ran, some ducked for cover, and the host of the hottest game show on network television dropped to the floor.

"Not you, idiot!" Kermit yelled, using the gun to direct reluctant audience members back to their seats. "I'm a cop," Griffin revealed, when some tried to leave through the exit doors. "Nobody's leaving. You paid, you stay."

"But I…I gotta go," a timid man protested as he nervously jumped up and down.

"Sit on it," Kermit ordered, ignoring the man's obvious discomfort.

Calm returned to the studio, but the hostilities remained between the contestant and the detective.

"I'll remember your face, cop," Xia vowed.

"I'll make you a print out, Batgirl," Kermit countered. She took a step in the officer's direction. "Uh huh," Griffin threatened, keeping the weapon pointed at the aggressive woman. "One more threat, one little sarcastic remark, and you and your fog making friend are out of here."

The audience started cheering.

Xia gave the audience a long, threatening glare before she returned to her seat and mumbled something about revenge.

"Mr. Philbon?"

Pregis turned to the woman sitting next to Caine, glanced at her nametag, and quickly peeped at his index card to learn about Janet Morgan. "Hello, Janet," he said, shaking her hand. "It says here that you're a detective."

"That's right," Janet answered, batting her eyelashes at him. "You look sexier in person," she purred seductively. "Television doesn't do you justice."

"Oh pleeeeeaasssse," another woman remarked sarcastically and then rolled her eyes.

"Should I be insulted?" Pregis asked, taking another peep at the same index card before he approached the second woman. He was surprised to discover she was also a detective, and working in the same precinct as Detective Morgan.

"Oh no offense, Pregis," Mary Margaret laughed, looking him up and down, "but you're no Johnny Depp."

"Well, Johnny Depp is no Pregis Philbon." Pregis remarked, turning to the audience as he made a joke. "You won't see my bare butt on the big screen."

"Who'd want to see it?" someone from the audience shouted.

"Ripley's Believe It or Not," added another.

"I would," Morgan replied in a seductive voice. "Have you found a replacement for Kathy Lee? If not, I'd like to offer my services."

"Do you have kids?" Pregis asked, playing along with the woman's charade. It was obvious Janet hadn't seen the show in years.

"I don't have kids."

"But she never shuts up either," Mary Margaret stated, glaring at Morgan. "What's the matter, Morgan, upset because you're over qualified to be a contestant on the Bachelor? Why don't you audition for Temptation Island? I'm sure you won't have a problem getting on that program."

"Skalany, I'm warning you," Morgan said, narrowing her eyes. "If anyone's a bimbo around here it's…"

"Have your agent call my agent," Pregis said, finally tiring of the game. He hoped the next time he made a suggestion about relocating show someone would kick him in the butt.

"In other words, Janet," Mary Margaret leaned over, and grinned wide, "don't call us, we'll call you."

"Why you...." Morgan sneered, getting to her feet.

"Ladies, please..." he interrupted, stepping between the two women, "fight over me later."

"Bloody marvelous!" an old man replied. "I have the same problem."

"Lo Si?" Pregis asked, unsure if he had pronounced the name on the nametag correctly. The old man nodded, and gave a friendly smile as the game show host approached. "Glad you could make it to the show," he said, concerned over the elderly man's health. "If you need anything just tell us, and..."

"I may be ancient," Lo Si politely interrupted, "but I'm not dead."

"O..kaaaaaay."  Pregis pursed his lips into a whistling pose, hoping he hadn't offended the elderly gentleman.  The last thing he needed was hate mail, accusing him of age discrimination, but the smile Lo Si flashed back at him convinced him otherwise.

Satisfied, he moved to his next contestant, a bald man, whose eyes were closed and who possessed a look of sincere peace. Pregis used the moment to glance at the index card to read the last three contestants' names and their occupations.  The last name caught his attention.  Someone must have mistakenly written down the name wrong.  Nobody had that weird of a name.  Maybe a joke or two was in order.

"Khan, welcome to our show," the game show host greeted the next contestant.

Khan nodded but remained silent.

"You don't say much, do you?"

"Only when needed," Khan replied, and, with a mischief gleam in his eyes, added, "others could take lessons."

Pregis took the hint and moved to the next contestant, a young oriental man with a proud smile. "Sing-Ling, welcome to the show. "

"Thank you, Mr. Philbon," the young man replied, shaking the game show host's hand.  "I've been a fan of yours for a long time.  I loved watching your syndicated show over the years..."

"Years, what did you do, tape the show while you were in school?"

"Oh no," Sing-Ling answered.  "I never attended school.  I have been kept secluded from the public because of who I am."

"You never attended school?" Pregis laughed. "What are you, a professional ballplayer?"

"No." The young man got to his feet and announced to the crowd. "I'm the Emperor of China."

The crowd started laughing.  One woman laughed so hard she fell out of her seat.

"Take your seat," Philbon demanded, moving to the last and final contestant.  An oriental man dressed in an expensive suit looked up at him and smiled wickedly.

Remembering the name on the card, Pregis joked, "Bon Bon Hai?  Isn't that a name for a high calorie desert?"

The smile disappeared.  "Are you mocking the appointed one of the Dark Warrior?"  Bon Bon Hai asked in a threatening tone.

Evidentially the nut balls must have chosen his show as their convention location.

"Dark Warrior?  Is he related to Xena, the warrior princess?"

"Fool!" the man shouted.

The lights went out and evil laughter echoed in the darkness.

"Did Disney pull the plug on ABC again?" Pregis joked nervously, trying to decipher where the laughter was coming from. It wasn't coming from the audience or any of the contestants.

The lights returned and Bon Bon Hai sat smiling at him.

Pregis backed away, wondering if he had entered the Twilight Zone upon leaving the make-up table.

"Mr. Philbon, five minutes before broadcast."

----------------

The theme music finished playing and Pregis Philbon, as instructed by the cameraperson started the show.

"This is the first broadcast of 'Who Wants to be a Super Millionaire' not broadcast from New York City." He turned to the crowd. "Tonight we are taping from Chinatown. All contestants from tonight's show will also be from Chinatown or the surrounding community."

The audience cheered and gave themselves a standing ovation, except for the three detectives, who remained in their seats and warily watched their surroundings.

"Now, for the first fast question of the evening," Philbon said after he had introduced the players. "Put the following evil rulers in order of their reign, beginning with the earliest to the present. A. Adolph Hitler. B. Osma Bin Laden. C. Ivan the Terrible. D. Caligula.”

A moment later, and the game host revealed the answers. "The correct order was….Caligula, Ivan the Terrible, Adolph Hitler, and Osma Bin Laden.  Let's see who answered correctly and the fastest."

Four of the ten contestants answered correctly, but only one answered in 2.89 seconds.

"Congratulations Bon Bon Hai, you have won," Pregis said, and turned towards the camera. "And after this commercial break, we will see if Bon Bon Hai can win a million dollars."

-------------------------

Commercial: #1

"China is destroyed," a voice declared. "Details after the movie."

 

Commercial #2

"I am here," the wizard announced, entering the small home of his long time friend. "I was half-way across lower earth when I received your message. What is the urgency?"

"I have great news," the hobbit grinned. The small creature reached into his pocket and pulled out a small object. He lifted it into the air and displayed a gold ring.

"You found the one true ring," the wizard smiled with delight. He rubbed his hands together, moving closer in an attempt to steal the ring. "The one ring to rule them all."

"No, not that ring," the hobbit laughed and slipped the ring on his finger. Nothing happened. The small creature explained. "This is my wedding ring."

"What?" The wizard glared, furious his long journey had been in vain. He debated which spell to cast on the hobbit but first he demanded an answer for the visit. "You said you have great news."

"I do," the hobbit declared jumping up and down. "I just saved a lot of money by switching my insurance to Geico."

"And you shall be their mascot," the wizard declared, raising his hand in the air.

Poof

A frog starts croaking.

-------------------

He took his seat across from Bon Bon Hai, turned, and looked into the camera. "Let's play Who Wants to be a Millionaire."

The intro music stopped and Pregis turned to the man sitting in the hot seat. "Let me remind you of your three lifelines. They are: phone a friend, 50/50, and ask the audience. Are you ready to play Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

"Why am I sitting here if I wasn't," the contestant sarcastically answered.

Pregis looked into his monitor and read the question. "Question number one, and for $100.00, what is the correct change for a U.S. nickel? A.  Two dimes. B. Ten quarters. C. Six dollars. D. Five pennies."

"D. Five pennies."

"Is that your final answer?"

"Yes."

"That is correct, you have won $100.00." Pregis waited until the audience stopped clapping before he read the next question. "Question number two, and for $200.00, how is a Popsicle usually served? A. Cone. B.  Stick. C. Bowl. D. On a bun."

"What idiot questions are these?" Bon Bon Hai asked, clearly irritated. He motioned towards the audience. "Even these morons could answer this question. It's B, a stick."

The audience started booing, and some yelled insults at the contestant.

"This is a first," the game host declared. "We've never, in the history of our show, had a contestant booed by the audience."

The audience continued to boo.

Pregis waited a moment, giving the audience time to get quiet before he turned his attention back to the nonchalant contestant. The audience had no effect on Bon Bon Hai.

"Correct, you have won $200.00," Pregis continued. He read the next question from the monitor. "Question number three, and for $300.00, which of the following are clouds? A. Water Vapors. B. Cotton. C. Bathroom tissue. D.  Smoke rings."

"A. Water vapors," the contestant answered with a bored sigh.

"Correct, you have won $300.00," Pregis said, wondering why if Mr. Bad Attitude thought the show was beneath him, why did he try out for the game in the first place. Another glance into the monitor, and he read the next question. "We're going for $500.00, are you ready?"

Bon Bon Hai answered with a hostile glare.

"Question number four," Pregis said completely ignoring the man's aggression. "For $500.00, what part of the body are you likely to stub? A. Nose. B. Teeth. C. Ear. D. Toe."

"D. Toe."

"Is that your final answer?"

The contestant nodded.

"Correct, you have won $500.00."

The crowd clapped sparingly, almost as if they were being forced to congratulate the contestant. If the audience's lackluster participation bothered Bon Bon Hai, he didn't display any emotion. The man remained calm, waiting for the next question.

Six questions later, the contestant had successfully answered nine questions without using a single lifeline.

"Question number ten," Pregis began, explaining the rule for the second milestone question. "If you answer this question correctly, you will win $32,000, and be guaranteed to leave the studio with no less than that dollar amount. Are you ready?"

"Proceed."

"For $32,000, what is generally acknowledged as the most romantic day of the year in the United States?" he said, reading off the question on the monitor. "A. December 25th. B. February 14. C.  October 31. D. July 4th."

"Another worthless excuse to toss money away," the contestant replied. Bon Bon Hai folded his arms and answered. "B. February 14."

"You are right," Pregis answered, trying to sound ecstatic. This episode would test the patience of an anointed saint. "Congratulations, you have won $32,000."

Only a few clapped their hands in the audience. Some still booed.

"You still have all three of your lifelines," Pregis reminded the contestant, and read the next question from the monitor. "Question number eleven, and for $64,000, who was not a disciple of Jesus? A. Matthew. B. Luke. C. John. D. Urkel."

Several in the crowd started snickering.

"Did I do that?" someone in the crowd asked, mimicking the famous nerd's voice.

Bon Bon Hai rolled his eyes, annoyed at the commotion around him. "I'll let the audience answer. I doubt the question would put too much strain on their limited brain cells."

The audience started booing again.  

"Audience, we need your help," Pregis said, hoping to calm the crowd down. He couldn't understand why the contestant persistently kept antagonizing the audience. Bon Bon Hai deliberately flaunted his intelligence over the crowd.

The audience reached for the remotes and made their selections. Thirty seconds later, the results were transmitted on the screen and the game show host read them aloud. "Twenty-eight percent say it's Matthew. Fifty percent believe it's Luke, and twenty-two percent think it is John." he added, doing his best to keep from laughing. The audience had deliberately given the contestant the wrong answer because nobody chose Urkel.

"The answer is D.," Bon Bon Hai paused, reluctant to speak the answer.  "Urkel."

"Is that your final answer?"

"Why do you insist on repeating that ridiculous question?"

"I take that as a yes, and you are correct. You have won, $64,000." Pregis glanced into the monitor and read the next question. "Question number twelve, and for $125,000, what is the capital city of Taiwan? A. Tokyo. B. Beijing. C. Taipei. D. Bangkok."

"C. Taipei," the man answered almost immediately.

"Is that your final…" Pregis cut the question short after receiving another glare from the contestant. "Congratulations, you have won $125,000."

One or two members in the audience clapped.

"Way to go, boss," someone shouted.

"Question number thirteen, and for a quarter of a million dollars, who was the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court? A. John Jay. B. John Marshall. C. John Kennedy. D. John Lennon."

"A. John Jay."

Pregis thought of teasing the man, but decided against the idea. Bon Bon Hai didn't strike him as an individual who had a sense of humor. "Correct," he revealed. "You have won $250,000."

Bon Bon Hai remained expressionless. 

"You are two questions away from a million dollars," the game show host announced. He looked into the camera. "Bon Bon Hai still has two lifelines. Will he win a million dollars? We'll find out after these messages."

-----------------

Commercial

Phixit and DunCuredit are the medical breakthrough treatments that everyone has been waiting to try. One pill a day and you can tell a difference in just twenty years.

Results vary from patient to patient. Phixit and DunCuredit have been shown to reduce weight, mend broken bones, grow hair, whiten teeth, reduce winkles, increase energy, and shed years off your life.

Side effects are usually mild, but in some test studies, hair on teeth has been documented.  Thirty percent of patients stated in unconfirmed reports that they found Satan in the mirror. Extreme rare incidences have been documented where patients have developed strong cravings of Limburger cheese and overwhelming desire to audition for reality television shows. 

-----------------

The theme music stopped and the camera returned to the contestant and game show host.

"Welcome back," Pregis said, looking into the camera. "I've just received a little note from the producers of our show during the commercial break. Bon Bon Hai has reached the $250,000 level faster than any contestant in the history of our show."

One person clapped.

"For the fourteenth question and half a million dollars, which of the following animals was not a rock group in the 1960's? A. The Monkees. B. The Beatles. C. The Turtles. D. The Elephants."

For the first time since the show began, Bon Bon Hai appeared stumped. He stared into the monitor, appearing completely dumfounded. The clock started ticking away, causing Pregis to warn the contestant. "You have only ten seconds to make a decision."

Seven seconds ticked away.

"I want to use the 50/50," Bon Bon Hai muttered.

"Computer take away two of the wrong answers," the game show host ordered. Two selections were removed, and two choices remained. He called out the two remaining choices. "C. Turtles or D. The Elephants."

Bon Bon Hai stared into the monitor and beads of sweat began forming across his brow.  He pulled out a handkerchief and blotted it on his forehead.

"You have fifteen seconds to make your selection," Philbon replied, secretly enjoying the rude contestant's discomfort. "You still have your one life line left, phone a friend," he reminded Mr. Hai, wondering if the man had a friend.

Fourteen seconds ticked away before Bon Bon Hai replied in a panicked voice, "I want to use the last lifeline. I want to call my faithful servant."

"Your faithful servant?" Pregis asked, certain he had misunderstood. "Did you say servant?"

"I did."

"And what is the name of this servant?"

"Damon," the man answered with a conniving grin. "He will not fail me."

"He's intelligent?"

"No," Bon Bon Hai answered, his smile becoming broader.  "He fears me."

The answer somehow didn't surprise the game show host. "Let's get Damon on the phone," Pregis said, listening as the phone started ringing. A voice answered. "Damon?" he asked, wondering the individual's mental state. What bonehead would follow Bon Bon Hai? "This is Pregis Philbon from 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'. Bon Bon Hai is going for $500,000, and he needs your help. The next voice you hear will be Bon Bon Hai's."

"Damon, my faithful servant," Bon Bon Hai began, reading the question and the two remaining selections to the man on the phone. "Which group of animals was not a rock group in the 1960's? The Turtles or The Elephants."

The clock began ticking.

"You've won a quarter of a million dollars?"

"Yes, but that is not what I asked you, Damon," Bon Bon Hai snapped.  "Answer the question."

The clock continued to tick.

"I want half."

"You idiot," Bon Bon Hai shouted, "You will beg for your life if you do not answer the question."

"I'm the idiot? Who's the one on national television making a fool out of themselves?" Damon laughed evilly. "I want half, no negotiating."

The clocked ticked away.

"Damon," the leader of the Sing-Wah hissed, "How dare you disgrace me like this!"

"I can't hear you," Damon replied, imitating Sergeant Carter's voice.

"I will not bargain with you," Bon Bon Hai screamed. "You have just forfeited your life."

"Well then, I guess that makes you the weakest link," Damon laughed.  "Goodbye."

The phone line went dead.

"Damon! Damon, don't you dare hang up on your master."

"That was the first time that's happened," Pregis revealed, unable to hide his smirk. "Bon Bon, what is your final answer?"

The contestant stared down at the two selections and then closed his eyes. Seconds later, a winning smile returned to Bon Bon Hai's lips. He looked like the cat that had eaten the canary. "The answer is Elephants."

"You are correct," Pregis said, secretly speculating that Bon Bon Hai had cheated. Only a few moments ago, the man looked stumped, almost on the verge of defeat and now Mr. Hai had a victorious face. Something definitely wasn't right. After the taping, he would order an investigation to review the tapes to see if Bon Bon Hai had inside information. In the meantime, he was powerless to stop the show.

"You have won $500,000," he shouted excitedly. "You are only one question away from a million dollars."

"I will win," the contestant promised, growing more confident with each passing second.

"Question number fifteen, and for one million dollars," Pregis glanced one last time into the monitor and read the question. "What 19th century American author wrote The Scarlet Letter? A. Herman Melville. B. Nathaniel Hawthorne. C. Edgar Allan Poe. D. Ralph Waldo Emerson."

"The answer is B. Nathaniel Hawthorne." Bon Bon Hai grinned victoriously. "Final answer."

"You are correct, and you have just won one million dollars," Pregis stood up as silly string, balloons, and confetti fell from the ceiling. Several in the crowd were clapping, either as a show of appreciation of the contestant's ability or the fact the contestant was leaving.

A loud buzzer blasted, announcing the end of the show.

"It looks like that is all the time we have for tonight's show," Pregis announced. "Tune in tomorrow night to find out if we have another millionaire."

Bon Bon Hai slowly got to his feet. "The anointed one of the Dark Warrior can not be denied. There is nothing on this earth powerful enough to stop the Dark Warrior and his followers."

The evil being walked off the stage and two men dressed in black greeted him. They flashed their badges and Bon Bon Hai was escorted out of the building.

It didn't take an idiot to realize what had happened.

"No force powerful enough?" Philbon laughed aloud. "Apparently the Dark Warrior has never met the IRS."

The End!

 

 

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