He ran. He puffed and panted, blackness encroaching on his vision, like a fuzzy binocular shot from an old television show. There clearly wasn't enough oxygen making the journey from the stale, hazy air in front of his maw, through an increasingly constricting trachea to the greying meat sacks he called his lungs. Unoxygenated blood pumping to capillaries in tingling fingers and toes, and robbing his brain of coherent thought.
His dimming vision filling with a collage of images; his mother, his fiancé, a bottle of gin, a pizza with a cheese stuffed crust.... fire! Boiling oil! Trees three feet across keeling from hacked trunks! His fiancé! a monolithic mudslide! Blood pouring from an artery! A strawberry milkshake!
Hoisting his hefty hock of a hoof six inches forward, repeating the process for its twin, each footfall telegraphing a crack of burning agony vertically to his knee. Loins aching on the inside, searing on the out. The skins of his thighs grating back and forth, over and over against one another, rubbing away flesh like so many lemon zesters, allowing salty perspiration free access to further, and further exposed nerves.
“This is certainly going to come down to the wire ladies and gentlemen!” the distorted voice boomed, audio clipping on output from the 60,000 watt P.A. “There is still time to place bets! The odds on favorite is contestant 41, but 18, 30, 15, and 66 are all still in it! Just punch your bet amount in dollars or euro, as well as favored contestant number into the SoF app on your mobile device! Remember to hit send before the on screen timer reaches zero!”
“41. 18. 30. 15. 66.” he thought to himself. “One of those numbers should mean something.” It took nearly half a minute for contestant number 18 to realize that this round of the contest was down to only five participants, and that he was one of them! Half of his brain was astonished that he hadn't been eliminated as of yet, the other couldn't believe that the round was not yet over. It felt like he had been trudging along for hours, if not days.
The track was sixteen lanes across, each lane roughly two meters in width to allow ample room for both the “runners” and the “rollers,” and half again long as it was wide. The relative short length of the course was augmented by the fact that each lane was in motion, working against the runners as would a treadmill. In addition, the entire course was gradually being raised by hydrolic lifts at the end opposite the start to an ever increasing incline.
Hot stage lights burned down upon all the contestants running the track, coaxing every available dribble of sweat from the pores of the ever fatiguing runners. In the case of runner number 18, much of the dwindling volume of perspiration was finding its way into his eyes, further blurring his already failing vision, drawing attention from chaffing thighs and armpits to the stinging orbs beneath his eyelids. He shut them tightly in a vain attempt to squeeze the unwanted liquid from his eyes.
“Alright all you folks watching at home, remote betting is now over!” the voice from the P.A. bellowed. “Studio audience, you know that means you only have thirty seconds remaining to add, or amend a wager on your favorite contestant. This is a reminder that runners 66, 15, and 41 have been eliminated! While you make your last second bets, we'll show you those eliminations once more on the Rockstar Energy Replay!”
He faintly heard the moans and cheers from the crowd of several thousand in studio. By default, runner 18 deduced that he had not been eliminated. He realized that this knowledge should evoke some kind of emotional response from his id, but couldn't remember what.
Each and every time he hurled his girth forth, desperately trying to inch closer to winning the competition, he was aware of the slapping caused by the violent contact between his substantial breasts, and massive gut. Runners were allowed only the minimum bodily coverings allowed by FCC regulations at this time slot, the reasoning was that spectators could more closely scrutinize the loose physiques of the runners, and adjust their bets accordingly. Following physical examination, knee braces were also allowed.
His breath felt hot and dry. His hands and feet were cold, or numb. When 18 ventured to take a glance at the track ahead, he could only approximate his position on the course before his moist, pink head succumbed to gravity, and flopped unattractively into the pillow of chins surrounding his neck. He was unsure, but felt that he had in fact lost some ground in his personal track lane, falling victim to the ever crawling conveyor beneath his 400 pound frame.
“All betting is now over! Contestant number 18 is still on his feet, all others have been eliminated! That means that we are now in the final bonus round we like to call, Have Your Cake--” the voice beckoned to the live audience, who responded “And Eat It Too!”
“Haha! Correct! That means that if contestant number 18 can cover another three meters of ground, any first prize betters get an additional 12 percent bonus, and the Rockstar Energy Prize Pack, valued at nearly $225!” It echoed obnoxiously everywhere in the arena, except in the ears of runner 18.
Like his vision, his hearing was also failing him. He struggled to remember a time in his life that didn't involve running on this steep track, in this moving course, in this sweltering arena, on this hazy peninsula. Brief images of laughing with a child he used to know were speckled with songs he had heard on the radio at his job. Nothing made much sense anymore. But he knew that he had to keep moving.
His numb fists hung like lead weights below his undulating lovehandles. His hairless legs quivered, and buckled as he now failed to place one flat foot more than two inches further than the other. Foreign images, looking strangely like topographical maps of varying colors flickered before his eyes. He vaguely thought that it was odd that people's teeth sometimes fall out. Then his world was total and utter blackness before his mountainous, fleshy frame slapped the ground.
“Oh, no! Sorry ladies and gentlemen, I really thought we had a trooper there! To all those who didn't win the bonus, and the Rockstar Energy Prize Pack, we say, Better luck next race!”
Contestant number 18, once named Jerry by a woman whose husband left soon after his birth, was unconscious as the last remaining roller on the track approached in his lane. He didn't feel the one ton mercury filled steel drum as it lazily compressed his calves and knees, was unaware as it lumbered up the knoll that was his body, didn't care as his vertebrae cracked, ribs splintered, testicles flattened, lungs collapsed, heart popped or throat prolapsed, and when his skull shattered, he was none the wiser.
“Lets hear it once again for all of our late contestants who put on another great race for us!... Yes, and can we get some love for the gentlemen driving the rollers also? They do such great work!... Thank you boys... get those things cleaned up! Unfortunately that's all the time we have tonight. We thank all of you here in the studio, and everyone tuned in across the nation! See us here next week, Eight PM eastern, on Survival: Of the Fattest!”