Max stared at the contraption he had built. The only sound that came from him was a metallic rustle as he adjusted his tinfoil hat. He saw it as a beautiful machine, built by skilled, determined hands.
Eddie, his only friend, had also been staring at it. Instead of a beautiful machine, however, he saw a mass of scrap metal, balsa wood, and probably a hundred rolls of duct tape cobbled together to form some strange satellite dish fixed to the roof of Max's house.
"So, what is it?" Eddie asked.
"It's a space beacon," Max answered without looking at Eddie, still staring at it.
"What does a space beacon do?"
"Nothing you need to know about. The less who know of it's existence, the better," Max replied.
"But if it's on your roof, wouldn't it be incredibly noticeable?" Eddie mused.
There was a pause. Then a sigh from Max.
"I'll go get the sledgehammer," he said dejectedly.
While all this was going on, the mailman had been slowly creeping up to Max’s mailbox. He opened the mailbox as fast as he could, stuffed the envelopes in, and slammed it shut. The sound of it alerted the two friends, who looked in his direction in time to see him running away as fast as he could.
“What’s that about?” Eddie asked.
“He might still be cautious since that time I electrified the mailbox,” Max replied.
“Well, let’s just put it this way : He isn’t a robot, and we know for sure now.”
Eddie sighed in exasperation.
Max sifted through his mail. Mostly advertisements for magazines with names like Conspiracy Monthly, Government Lies, Aliens : Fact Or Fiction?, and one for a book called Could Your Family Members Be Ghosts?
He stopped at one envelope. He opened it, and read the header.
Congratulations, Max Lee, you have been selected to compete in Killzone!
Eddie was looking over his shoulder. When he saw the letter, he was surprisingly calm.
“Do I even have to ask?” he said.
“It’s a theory I’m working on. This show is probably a government program to train assassins,” Max said.
Eddie was fed up. He left Max, shaking his head as he walked away.
“But why Killzone? Wasn’t Survivor enough?” John’s wife asked him.
“I’ve already said this, the money we earned from that isn’t going to last long. When I win Killzone, we’ll never have to work again for the rest of our lives!”
“If you win, that is,” she sniffed.
No argument came to mind, so John just sighed and continued surfing the net.
To tell the truth, he didn’t do it for the money, or the fame. He did it for the challenge.
When he won Survivor, he felt different. Good. He felt like he could take on the world.
And then the weeks passed, and they turned into months, which turned into years. The feeling was long gone, but it had awakened something inside him. He longed to get that feeling back.
He heard his wife starting to cry on the sofa behind him. He got up from his chair, joined his wife on the sofa, and tried to comfort her.
“Hey, hey, don’t cry. Look, I only applied for it. They probably won’t even choose me. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of applications there,” he said soothingly. “If they don’t choose me, then it’ll be fine, all right? But if they do, then I’ve got to go.”
His wife stopped crying and dried the tears in her eyes. Just then, the computer beeped. John had received an email.
“That could be anyone,” John said, seeing the look in his wife’s eyes.
She went to the computer and opened the email. John could hear her choke and suppress a sob.
She turned around slowly. John could see the tears on her face.
“Congratulations, John Grady, you have been selected to compete in Killzone,” She said.