A rusted metal sign sits outside a small, secluded theatre buried deep within the desolate parts of Manhattan. Men and women elegantly garbed in expensive attire gather in front, their cheerful expressions hidden behind beautifully embellished masquerade masks. One by one, they load into the theatre, taking their seats in front of a massive stage cloaked behind black curtains. Boisterous laughter and aural conversions fill the room as an out of sight stage hand hastily draws the curtains. The room falls silent as it becomes shrouded in darkness, the lights flickering back to life moments later, unveiling a woman dressed in black.
A hushed reticence bowls over the crowd as the woman begins to speak, her words fervid and robust.
“Welcome again ladies and gentlemen to our bimonthly showcase. I hope you all enjoy the performances we have for you today, as each one promises to be more unique than the last. Five performers will be giving it their all today, and when the time comes, we will all vote for our favorites. Now, let the show begin!”
The theatre roars in thunderous applause as the woman takes her leave from the stage. A woman much younger than the first wanders onto the stage, carrying an onyx violin case.
She bows then fishes the violin from its case. Readying the bow she begins a tear-jerking, melodic song. The bow dances along the steel stings as warm tears leak down her face. The crowd watches on as her song grew more passionate. A clash of metals reverberate through tempestuous strokes, silk strands of alloy strip from their surface, floating to the ground like weightless strands of hair. A spotlight beams in her direction, reflecting off a makeshift razor cemented to the bow. Bloodied lacerations litter her face as the blade swipes across it. With one final stroke, the blade connects with her windpipe, slicing into her trachea like a slab of raw meat. With one final breath she collapses to the floor, her violin landing in a small pool of blood.
The theatre starred on in suffocating silence as the woman was dragged off stage, streaks of blood brightly decorating the hardwood floor. The curtains close then reopen after several minutes, revealing a middle-aged man dressed in the tattered rags of a jester, a wooden table seated close to him, painted with an arsenal of gadgets. He swipes his hand slowly over the collection, carefully handpicking his weapons of choice. He gathers them in his hands, two daggers in one and a knife in the other. He tosses them into the air, catching them with incredible accuracy. One by one the instruments of torture carried from one hand to the other, transforming into tiny acrobats fluttering through the air in a display of finesse and poise.
The jester soon finishes his first act, arching his body in the direction of the crowds’ idolatry praise. He quickly switches out the daggers, plucking three petrol-coated blades from the table and setting them ablaze. A flamboyant spectacle of pirouetting flames prance around in a twirling waltz, merging into a swirling frolic of heated coils. With a simple flick of the wrist, he tosses them into the air, the blades spinning to a fatal point as he bows towards the crowd. The glowing knives pierce his skull and neck sliding through muscle and cartilage, singeing 3rd degree burns into his flesh. He falls to the hardwood floor, his bloodshot eyes still fixed upon the mystified audience as he is dragged away.
The curtains drew to a close once more before revealing a young girl, no older than 16. Neon silk ribbons dangled from the ceiling, several feet above the ground. Her sequins dress glistened in the glowing illumination of the spotlight as she climbed about the woven threads, the cloth swaying slightly from her movements. She tangles the cloth around her body, lifting herself higher above the ground. Her fluid motions synchronized to the balletic melodies sounding in the background, her body contorting and bending into a voiceless narration of heart-wrenching despondence. In one swift movement, she loops the cloth around her throat and waist, twisting her body around the fabric and twirling expertly down the ribbon.
Her neck fractures under the stringent tug of the fabric,her body convulsing in spastic fails before calming to terrifying halt. As the curtains crept to a close, the woman in the black dress once again made her appearance onto the stage.
“I hope you are all enjoying are show tonight, after all it’s the least we can do since our performers are giving up so much. Our last performance of the night will be a duet, but the contestants will both be judged individually on their craft. After the performance those of you watching will be asked to cast your vote, I hope you all make the right choice. Now, let the show continue.”
She quickly walks off stage; the curtains opening moments later to reveal a man and a woman, their hands cupped together, wedding bands adorning their ring fingers.
An assortment of metal straps and horizontal bars hovered above them, high platforms stretched towards the netless beams. They run towards their opposite platforms, quickly climbing up the metal rungs and hoisting themselves onto the scaffolding. They untie the beams from their resting place and jump from the platforms, expertly lifting themselves onto the steel rods as they began swaying violently. They hook their legs onto the bar, their bodies dangling beneath its hold as they force its swing further, lessening the distance between them. With incredible timing, their outstretched hands meet, the husbands hands clutch tightly around his wife’s as she disentangles her legs from the crossbar.
She forces her body upwards grabbing hold of the bar, pulling herself up towards the metal ropes holding them in place. She fixes her feet atop the metal rod as her husband slides down, pinning his ankles against the gelid alloy. Almost synonymously, they begin a wondrous spectacle of aerial twists, shifting and contorting their bodies into aeronautical pinwheels, sawing through the air like a sharpened blade through tissue paper. A flawless display of agility and strength is halted with a passionate kiss, their hands clutching one another’s as they loosen their grip on the rod, falling to the unforgiving ground below.
Fragile cracks escape broken bones, transforming their bodies into flaccid dolls as they grew motionless, pools of blood escape their orifices and collect in mass around them. The curtains close for the last time as the woman in black steps onto the stage.
“I hope you all enjoyed our show for you today, we thank all of our performers for taking part in this historic production. I would like to ask all of those watching to now cast your vote for the most creative death, the one with the most votes will be used as our official sacrifice. Thank you for watching, see you next time”
The camera pans out, scanning over an applauding audience as credits scroll across the screen. Mouse clicks pollute the air as a pop-up takes its place, the voting tally climbing to almost 10,000.