Whatever it Takes

Whatever it Takes

A Story by Kaliope

Karen stood absolutely still, arms spread wide, head held high and her eyes closed, as the bitter wind blustered against her body. She wouldn't even allow the elements to sway her. Push back. Whatever it takes.

Exactly one year ago, she had attempted to kill a man by pushing him off a roof. He hadn't died; it had all been a huge scam, a prime time TV show, she'd willingly signed up for as a contestant, without knowing what it would entail. In the end it was jolly good fun really, eliciting a hearty laugh from the audience when her supposed victim was dangling from the ropes, instead of falling to his death. The man had dropped only a few meters until gravity had pushed him against the soft padding on the house wall.

Nevertheless, Karen had been willing to end his life. Not because she'd hated the man, not because she had any real quarrel with him, but because she'd been pushed into doing it. Renowned actors, ingenious special effects artists and a manipulative show master, pulling strings in the background, had made her overstep a threshold she'd thought she'd be unable to cross. They'd woven a tight mesh of lies and incriminating situations to persuade her that committing murder was her only option. And she had pushed. Whatever it takes.

"It's all over," the show master had proclaimed afterwards, a beaming smile on his face and his arms wide open to welcome the shaken, gullible sheep back to reality. "Breathe, Karen," he'd laughed, "it's alright, nothing happened!"

Nothing at all. She'd submissively fallen into his arms, sobbing and choking on her tears. She was crying over nothing.
 
"Aren't you relieved, Karen? No one was hurt; it was all just a show!"

She'd nodded obediently. She couldn't believe her luck; she was innocent. A push without consequences. A murder without a victim.

Don't be an accomplice, push back! Make the world a better place - whatever it takes! - That had been the moral of the evening, the takeaway message for the people at home and the lesson she was supposed to learn along with the audience.

Karen had taken it to heart. Now, she didn't even allow the wind to push her, as she was standing on the very roof that had shown her - and the world - what she was capable of. Whatever it takes!

Naturally, her psychological debriefing had been thorough and very professional. She'd learned that three out of four candidates had let themselves be manipulated into killing. Karen was in the majority, that was some consolation at least. It could happen to anyone, the counselor had assured her. Except it hadn't. It had only happened to three out of four.

Whatever it takes!

After the show had aired, it had been difficult for Karen, a formerly successful freelance designer, to get hired. Potential customers had recognized her face and although no one ever mentioned the show, Karen could see in their eyes that they remembered. They were appalled and disgusted by what she'd done. Thankfully, time had quickly dissipated her dubious fame. People easily forgot the lessons they'd been taught. Karen, however, would never forget.

Make the world a better place!

Friends and colleagues had shown her a lot of sympathy and were quick to admit they would have - probably - done the same. Karen's family had been very supportive as well. Her parents had been adamant that it wasn't her fault, nor theirs for that matter, and that she was a good person at heart, driven to do a terrible thing. The nightmares, however, didn't stop. In her dreams she was pushing over and over again, loved ones and strangers alike. Though reality brought them all back to life, it failed to provide reassurance that she'd be incapable of murder. She'd been proven otherwise.

Push back!

She stepped closer to the edge. The wind whispered deceitful messages, trying to persuade her that she had done nothing wrong. With all its force, it attempted to push her back to safety, yet Karen knew she wasn't in danger; she was the threat.

Make the world a better place!

There were no more cameras on the roof, no professional pranksters, no show master and no audience to witness her victory over pressure. No rope would break her fall; no padding would soften her impact.

Karen pushed herself on.

Whatever it takes!

© 2016 Kaliope



Author's Note

Kaliope
So… this is all fiction, right? Sadly, not quite. While the specific character, the consequences and the ending are my own fictional addition, the show itself happened. It was aired two days ago, in the UK under the title "Derren Brown: Pushed to the Edge". Needless to say how I felt about said show and the generally positive reception. Out of about a hundred live tweets no more than three pointed out how unethical this was. Most people considered it thrilling and the best thing ever on television. The makers pointed out that they wanted to demonstrate how susceptible we all are to social pressure and how easily we can be coerced to do terrible things, but this has been common knowledge since the Milgram experiments in the sixties. The show proved nothing new, all it accomplished was putting four people through psychological torture and airing their ordeal to an audience of millions.
There's still a tiny spark of hope in my mind though, that the four candidates might have been in on the 'joke' from the start and were just acting. I sincerely hope that's the case, because I just can't believe that even the entertainment industry would act so irresponsibly. Unfortunately, there's pretty good evidence that it was real, so I had to spin this tale further to - hopefully - get my point across.
Nevertheless, while I'd naturally be interested in your opinion on the subject, I'd also love to hear what you think about the story. Does it work as a narrative? Any suggestions on how to improve it? All comments welcome!

My Review

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Featured Review

I completely follow your story & the lessons involved. I felt your storytelling was imaginative, with the italicized repetition thru-out, & the creative use of dialogue, & weaving in supporting characters. The only problem is that I did not FEEL sufficient intensity from the scene in the show, as described, to justify remorse to the point of feeling suicidal over it. It might be better to begin the story with that first regretful shove, except to draw it out to maximum dramatic intensity, sharing vividly all the things going thru the mind of the shover at that moment in time (instead of referring back to it, later, which waters down the effect). CONVINCE me this situation is worthy of making a person feel suicidal.

The main thing I found distracting in your writing: You use passive verbs constantly. This would be a verb with "has" or "have" in front (including "she'd" do this & "she'd" do that). Passive voice takes all the power out of your writing. When you use active verbs, your writing comes alive, especially with an action scene.

Example: "she had attempted to kill a man by pushing him off a roof. He hadn't died; it had all been a huge scam, a prime time TV show, she'd willingly signed up for"

Now, in active voice: "she attempted to kill a man by pushing him off a roof. He didn't die; it was all a huge scam, a prime time TV show she willingly signed up for"

Hopefully this is helpful. Once you get rid of passive voice, you'll never want to write any other way but using active voice.

If you pruned out about 50 "had" "have" & "she'd" from this piece, it would read so much better.

Posted 1 Year Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much for taking the time and reviewing this story. I appreciate your honesty and I'll c.. read more
barleygirl

1 Year Ago

This isn't about how it feels or what you call it. It's an industry-accepted principle that past per.. read more



Reviews

very true my dear it took me awhile to read this yet I understand the meaning of this I have personal experience with suicide I love how you are so imaginative with this story of moral lessons and that sadly this is not fiction In our world my dear great work as always

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you very much :-)
Raylene

1 Year Ago

Anytime my friend
I thoroughly enjoy when a story can say so much, using such an economy of words and a single, retroactive point of view! I do find it disturbing that you did not have to imagine this situation, in which to place Karen, but simply borrow it from the real world! Before reading your comment I thought you had created a truly satirical take on reality television.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you very much for your kind words, I too wish it was just satire.
Another very well-written piece. It rose and fell nicely as I read, and I found myself riding her emotional rollercoaster.

Also, WHAT?!?! This makes a great topic for fiction, because fiction isn't real. It seems extremely unethical in real life.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Yup, that show really happened. I still don't understand how it could ever get aired, but I guess ra.. read more
Jeremiah Gerstner

1 Year Ago

I slept on it and came back to read it with fresh eyes. The ending is strong, Karen's place physical.. read more
Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much. Time is a rare commodity so I really appreciate that you took the time and answer.. read more
I completely follow your story & the lessons involved. I felt your storytelling was imaginative, with the italicized repetition thru-out, & the creative use of dialogue, & weaving in supporting characters. The only problem is that I did not FEEL sufficient intensity from the scene in the show, as described, to justify remorse to the point of feeling suicidal over it. It might be better to begin the story with that first regretful shove, except to draw it out to maximum dramatic intensity, sharing vividly all the things going thru the mind of the shover at that moment in time (instead of referring back to it, later, which waters down the effect). CONVINCE me this situation is worthy of making a person feel suicidal.

The main thing I found distracting in your writing: You use passive verbs constantly. This would be a verb with "has" or "have" in front (including "she'd" do this & "she'd" do that). Passive voice takes all the power out of your writing. When you use active verbs, your writing comes alive, especially with an action scene.

Example: "she had attempted to kill a man by pushing him off a roof. He hadn't died; it had all been a huge scam, a prime time TV show, she'd willingly signed up for"

Now, in active voice: "she attempted to kill a man by pushing him off a roof. He didn't die; it was all a huge scam, a prime time TV show she willingly signed up for"

Hopefully this is helpful. Once you get rid of passive voice, you'll never want to write any other way but using active voice.

If you pruned out about 50 "had" "have" & "she'd" from this piece, it would read so much better.

Posted 1 Year Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you so much for taking the time and reviewing this story. I appreciate your honesty and I'll c.. read more
barleygirl

1 Year Ago

This isn't about how it feels or what you call it. It's an industry-accepted principle that past per.. read more
This is a pretty cool story-the narrative works and the moral is quite vivid.
You see most jokes we make-even ones with morals-don't end when the last guy stops laughing. It lives on within the subject, eating up the person-a little bite after another little- and then he/she "pushes off" and we claim ignorance_ "how were we to know?"

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you very much. Indeed, we never know what kind of scars we inflict with our cruelties, thus a .. read more
This is a pretty cool story-the narrative works and the moral is quite vivid.
You see most jokes we make-even ones with morals-don't end when the last guy stops laughing. It lives on within the subject, eating up the person-a little bite after another little- and then he/she "pushes off" and we claim ignorance_ "how were we to know?"

Posted 1 Year Ago


This is a pretty cool story-the narrative works and the moral is quite vivid.
You see most jokes we make-even ones with morals-don't end when the last guy stops laughing. It lives on within the subject, eating up the person-a little bite after another little- and then he/she "pushes off" and we claim ignorance_ "how were we to know?"

Posted 1 Year Ago


BRRR. to be frank, it gave me the creeps. I didn't know about this show and, I like you, think it's irresponsible and cruel. to what lengths they would go to gain the attention of the audience?
nugh said. I like the way you weaved it into a semi-fiction. it certainly has a lesson to learn and can work as a wake-up call (hopefully) for the 21st's dehumanized Man. am I making sense?


Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

You sure are making and thank you once again for your kind words. Just once I'd like to see a show t.. read more
Thoroughly enjoyed it! It does definitely work as a narrative. I love the meta cognition aspect throughout. All the while I was thinking it was such a unique idea for a story. Never dreaming it was based off of something real. How disturbing! I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Reality TV has proved time and time again that it will do anything for ratings. It is the people who agree to be ON the show that I most worry about, however. Why on earth would you ever agree to such a thing? Maybe for the money? Perhaps, these people always believe they will be the one that "wins" whatever competition may be involved in the show. I don't know. The story was great, though! I think you could actually take it even further. It does do something pretty awesome for the reader to keep it short; however, I think you could add a little in terms of the torture she experienced prior to her suicide.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

Thank you very much for your insightful review. I guess it's not about money for the participants. A.. read more
What a crazy experience that must have been!

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Kaliope

1 Year Ago

It certainly was. Thank you very much!

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Added on January 14, 2016
Last Updated on January 14, 2016

Author

Kaliope
Kaliope

Vienna, Austria



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Hi, I'm a nerdy IT specialist in my forties, writing for fun and to keep my sanity. Feel free to friend me and to send me reading requests. I'll give you honest feedback and appreciate honesty in re.. more..

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