You Can Escape, but Only If the Price is Right…
Written By Nicholas Licalsi
It’s 2007, and you watched your first live taping of “If The Price is Right.” You saw some of the luckiest things happen to the seemingly unluckiest people. An old lady came up to the stage after only barely guessing the right number on the presented motor scooter. She rolled the big wheel and landed right on the $1,000 jackpot. You didn't even think she could get it to rotate around once. She got to spin it again, and it landed on the jackpot AGAIN! Was it the luck of the draw or was Mr. Barker helping her out for the ratings? Surely the world's most beloved game show host wouldn't be helping contestants cheat. That's not his nature. He wouldn't upset a fly, let alone the Nielsen families.
You saw some poor excuses for players too. It’s like some people come and haven’t even seen the show before. How unimaginable! Who doesn't tune into the most exciting hour of television, daily?
You’re walking down a busy passageway. On the wall are posters of other game shows that this studio has tapped. Security guards are lining the passage and making sure that everyone is safely finding their way out into the busy Las Angeles streets before their closing time.
Suddenly you hear a shattering sound. Some women seem to be arguing over who’s fault it is that the prize broke. You remember the young lady who won the crystal figurine, she was off by almost a grand, but everyone else was guessing under $500, for the fifteen hundred dollar item. You remember scoffing "Amateurs" under your voice as they guessed their lowball prices.
All the guards lining the corridor quickly migrated towards the commotion. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a door open.
A man pokes his head out, all you can see poke out from the door is a thick fur hat, inappropriate for the moderate Los Angeles winter, and an unreasonably large pair of horned rim glasses. He back and forth scanning the crowd before he slinks out from behind the door.
You read two things before jumping into action. The first is the man’s shirt “I’m Exploding with excitement to meet Mr. Barker.” The word 'Exploding' is in sharp red letters while the rest are smooth white letters. Most fans today were wearing shirts with writing on them, but this shirt is a step above.
The second thing you read, the one that pushes you into action, is a sign that says “Games Room.” You catch the door right before it closes and you slide behind it.
Normally, there would be guards ensuring that passionate fans like you couldn’t get behind here and enjoy the fun of the games after hours. Fortunately, since you took advantage of the distractions, life has presented you with the opportunity of a lifetime.
Only a few incandescent emergency lights are turned on. They put out enough light to show you what fills the room. Your eyes widen as you see dozens of games most were played today.
You start to spin wheels and guess prices of various items that are on display. The dim room lights up with the greens, purples, and reds. As you hit the jackpot on your favorite game, it lights up in full spectacle.
The excited yellow light, from the now blinking game, is thrown across the concrete floor of the backstage room. A small piece of paper catches your eye.
Unfortunately, there isn't a real jackpot for you, so you walk up to the mysterious object. Lying, uncared for you find a small note. Scrawled on it, in a sharp methodic cursive is a malicious sentiment.
“My Dear Mr. Barker,” It reads. “It is unfortunate that we have not been able to come to an agreement regarding the endangered Russian Desmans, my motherland’s largest mole. While your appearance in our country last month was charming, you are starting to get on the Russian fur industry’s last nerve. As you are aware the fur of the Desman is quite precious, and your constant lobbying has been corrupting our bottom line. Unfortunately for you Mr. Barker, we need to be ‘disposing’ of you, to keep our profits up. If you are reading this, then you have no doubt found the bomb located in your dressing room. Farewell, Comrade Klimov”
Scrawled below the note is the Russian signature with its characteristic backward letters. You look around, not completely sure of what this means yet. However, you know you must notify someone. You rush back to the door, gripping the note.
As you are about to reach the door, you hear a man say, “Everyone’s out and we are all locked up. Mr. Barker will be back in an hour, but he wants everything secure for the night.” You hear a loud click from the door as you reach for the handle. Heavy footsteps head away from the door. You try the handle. It refuses to move.
The room around you is filled with games. On the other side of the room is a door labeled “Mr. Barker’s Dressing Room.”
You’re the only one who knows about this threat to the beloved game show host’s life. He will return in an hour, and you have to find the bomb and defuse it within this time! Otherwise, America will no longer have its most exciting hour of television.