My story Last Man Standing, which is being currently out in Dark Eclipse, Issue #30, is the third in a series of stories that I wrote about extreme reality television shows where things go horribly wrong. My first story How Far Will You Go, featured seven contestants who did ultra-extreme challenges for the chance at a big prize. The contest ended with several of the contestants dying. The second in the series was a story called Secret, which also had seven contestants. In this case, each of the contestants had terrible secrets in their past that they had to agree to be revealed on national television in order to progress to get the massive cash prize. In this case, contestants also wound up dead after things got out of control.
The host of each of these series was Brad Billington, a former star college football player, who is desperate for attention and success. He returns as the host of Last Man Standing, and is ostensibly the main character of the story. Brad is ruthless and shallow, and will do anything to get back on top after the wildly successful runs of his first two shows. Because this new series is so extreme, the producers of the show abandoned the use of network or cable television and went straight to internet and television pay per view. In this story, there are sixteen contestants who are set up in a deserted island. Each of the contestants is a prisoner of the absolute worst variety. The goal of the show is simple. They have to be the sole survivor—literally. The contestants have to kill each other.
I am a fan of the show Survivor, and have watched every season of the show. I patterned many of the things that happen in my story after the show. The contestants form alliances, generally with prisoners of similar backgrounds, they have to find food and shelter, and of course they have to kill each other, which is where it varies differently from the show.
With so many characters and a word count of about 6000 words, one of the big challenges was giving the characters unique personalities so that the reader would remember who they are and that it wouldn’t become a jumbled mess. There were factions in the show- drug dealers, neo-Nazis, and international terrorists as well as a couple of stragglers like a child molester and a cannibal so scary that even the hardened prisoners fear him– but I tried to give each character at least one very distinguishable feature about themselves.
This story is very violent and not for the faint of heart. I tried to make each of the deaths as gruesome and visceral as possible because I think that would be the way it would go down. They had to use either hand-made weapons or kill each other with their bare hands. The only way that sort of thing would happen would be for the killings to be brutal and violent.
This is a story that I really enjoyed writing and hope that readers will also enjoy.