Lance has survived a potential elimination after a shaky round. Will his game improve now that Alyssa has gone and only seven remain?
The Hostess wasted no time in getting down to business. "Round three. You've managed to bank a disappointing six thousand, eight hundred and fifty pounds from a possible ten thousand."
That doesn't sound at all disappointing to me.
"We're down to seven players and we're taking ten seconds off your time, but not to worry, you still have Casey, the absolutely essential novelist who believes she has a wealth of knowledge, and Grace, Britain's brightest and youngest know-it-all. We'll start with the strongest link from the last round, and that is you again, Jamie. Let's play The Weakest Link! Start the clock. Jamie, in the animal kingdom, what 'C' is a lizard with the ability to change its skin colour in response to its environment?"
Lance nearly laughed out loud. Iguana did not start with a 'C!' He tried not to enjoy his rival's mistake too much, but it was satisfying to see that stupid showoff Jamie wasn't perfect after all.
Welcome to the club of wrong answers, bellend.
"Nathan, in human anatomy, index, middle, ring and little are the common names for which part of the human body?"
Nathan took a few moments to think of an answer, though Lance would have been able to answer it immediately. It was obvious. "Fingers."
"Correct. Casey, in maths, what is the larger quantity: one third or three-eighths?"
Casey answered quickly. "One third."
As the Hostess turned to Eliza, Casey looked so baffled that Lance half expected her to argue. He was sick of her giving the wrong answers and costing the team money and precious time.
"Eliza, in history, fresh fruit and vegetables were given to sailors on long voyages to prevent which disease?"
"Scurvy," the clever actress gave the answer before the Hostess had finished asking the question.
"Correct. Cian, in geography, Hanoi is the capital city of which country?"
Cian didn't even bother to take some time to think it over. "Pass."
The poor athlete had no idea. Nor did Lance, and it was a relief that he managed to dodge that question. The questions sounded easy when he watched the show at home on the telly, or at least, Dad insisted they were, but it was entirely different in the studio. With real consequences for mistakes, the other contestants relying on you and the Hostess' formidable presence, it was very different. It was impossible to have approximate general knowledge in every area - unless one happened to be Grace or Eliza, apparently. They were like jukeboxes playing the correct answers to everything to Hostess asked them.
They must have weaknesses. Right?
"Grace, in the nursery rhyme, what was the name of the piper's son who stole a pig and ran away?"
How the heck does she do it?
"Correct. Lance, in nature, elephant tusks are made of which substance?"
He knew this! "Ivory!"
"Correct. Jamie, which Shakespeare character gives the 'to be or not to be' soliloquy?"
Jamie paused and half-turned to the audience. "Hamlet?" He didn't sound sure this time. Lance knew what it was like to have an incorrect answer shake you up.
Five hundred pounds in the kitty... I think?
"In biology, the epidermis is the outer layer of which part of the body?"
Nathan reached back to scratch the back of his head. "Skin."
"Correct. Casey, from which country did the poetic form of the Haiku emerge in the sixteenth century?"
"Japan," she said without thinking.
"Correct. Eliza, in fashion, by what nickname was Gabrielle Chanel better known?
Eliza's eyes fell to her podium, and she spent a couple of seconds thinking about the answer. "Coco?"
Oh! I didn't know that.
"Correct. Cian, which word can mean the tone for a musical note or a device used to lock and unlock doors?"
"Ahhh, a key."
"Correct! Grace, in which US state is the newspaper 'The Miami Herald' published?"
It was a treat to know the answer to a cursed geography question, even if it wasn't his own! Lance had long been eager to visit or possibly move overseas to Miami or Jacksonville one day. Somewhere on the beach! Where it was always warm. Not like miserable, overcast south London.
"Florida," Grace, of course, knew it too.
The dancer's question would have been the sixth in the chain, worth two thousand, two hundred and fifty pounds. He did not want to risk losing so much money, so he was content to bank one thousand, five hundred pounds instead. He received votes from Jamie and Casey in the last round after losing a hundred pounds on his stupid oceans question. He wasn't going to gamble with a much higher amount.
"What nuts are typically used to make marzipan?"
Peanuts? Almonds? Cashews? Marzipan... hmm.
Mum made marzipan on occasion. He'd even helped her with the recipe! So where was the damn answer? It was there somewhere. Wary of the time passing and feeling safe with the fact that he'd banked before the question, he took an educated guess.
He leaned his head back and took in a well-earned gulp of air. That could have been awkward. Mum's obsession with overly fattening or sugar meals and snacks had saved his hide twice now! Never again would he criticise her cooking!
"Jamie, in medicine, cardiology is the study of which organ in the human body?"
"Correct. Nathan, in nature, what 'B' describes an undeveloped shoot on a plant?"
The chubby Irishman closed his eyes in frustration and, possibly thinking of the clock, gave a quick answer. "Mmm... bark?"
"No, a bud. Casey, in nature, do queen bees have a sting?"
"Yes." Casey shrugged.
She guessed again.
"Correct. Eliza, in education, what do the letters GCSE stand for?"
"General Certificate... of Education-- General Certificate of Secondary Education!" She quickly corrected herself.
"I must accept your first answer. The correct answer is General Certificate of Secondary Education," the Hostess moved on, and Eliza's frown told of how disappointed she was with herself.
"Cian, which motorcycle stuntman born in 1938 was known as the King of the Daredevils?"
"Evel Knievel!" Cian shouted, desperate to make it in time.
"Bank!" Grace shouted before the Hostess called her name.
"Grace, in recent histo--" She was cut off by the tones of defeat that rang throughout the studio. "Time is up, and I can't complete the question. Team, what happened? You've gone backwards! Out of the five thousand pound target, you've managed to scrape together two thousand, one hundred pounds. Dear me! Well, that money will go through to the next round, but the same can't be said for one of you! Who is proving a disappointment? Who keeps breaking the chain? It's time for you to vote off the weakest link."
Freddy brought the team brand new boards and a marker, and when he was out of the shot, the fanfare rang and the lights turned red. Lance took that time to think about the round. He'd done well - he knew he had. Much better than last time, at least. He got both his questions right and banked most of the money. Who got their questions wrong? Eliza did, but she'd been doing so well that he was happy to overlook it - Jamie too. Lance would be glad to see the back of the actor, singer, model, dancer extraordinaire, but to Jamie's credit, he'd been the strongest link twice in a row. There was no reason to eliminate him yet. Nathan got one wrong. He was an option. What about-- ugh, Casey! Suddenly, she was the obvious choice. Everyone who wasn't Britain's Brightest Star made at least one mistake by now, but the novelist had a habit of doing it every round. She wasn't going to get away with it a third time. Not on his watch.
"Okay, voting over, pens down. It's time to reveal who you think is the weakest link."
"Nathan," Cian flipped his board over.
"Casey," Grace revealed her terrible handwriting.
"Casey," Lance hopefully flipped his board over.
"Cian," Jamie shot daggers out of his eyes at his victim.
"Cian," Nathan, though, always looked at the target of his vote like a disobedient puppy begging his master for forgiveness. It was sweet.
"Cian," Casey cast her vote in a flippant sing-song voice that did nothing to elevate Lance's opinion of her.
"Nathan," Eliza flipped her board over, and the audience rumbled behind them with a chorus of boos.
Lance looked at Cian, whose silly grin never wavered. He agreed with the audience. It seemed stupid to send Cian home! There was only one viable choice this round, and she was over there. He peered at Casey, looking smug - and why not? She scraped through by the skin of her teeth again, and the dancer struggled to hide his disappointment. Did they all forget how poorly she played in the first round? Was everyone truly so short-sighted? She'd gotten at least four of her answers wrong! Cian, by Lance's count, had only messed up twice.
The Hostess turned to Nathan, who she hadn't yet interrogated. "Nathan Saunders. What turned you into a teenage triumph?"
Nathan spoke softly. He looked intimidated. "I... founded my own charity. All About Autism."
"Tell me about your charity," the Hostess even relaxed her frown and uncrossed her arms to put a hand on her hip. "How did you get started?"
Nathan tapped his fingers on his board. "Well, my little brother and sister are both on the autism spectrum, so growing up with them, I've always seen first-hand how challenging the world can be for neurodivergent people. For a long time, I've wanted to do something to try and, you know, bridge the gap. I, heh, used to buy sweets from the corner shop and sell them to my neighbours so I could try and help Mum pay for a special needs tutor. I guess, as I got older, I wanted to do more. Not just for my brother and sister, but for other autistic kids, especially those who are struggling, undiagnosed or don't have much support."
The poignant speech threatened to draw tears to Lance's eyes. He was one of the first to clap for Nathan's hard work and dedication, but the studio was quickly alive with applause. It was incredibly sweet.
"Are your brother and sister here in the audience tonight?" The Hostess was smiling warmly, a rare sight, and Nathan nodded.
"Yeah. Mum, too. She's my superhero," the Irishman admitted, turning around to wave.
Lance turned to look, and indeed, a middle-aged woman far from his own parents sat between two younger kids, and all three were waving back at him. One of them was wearing noise-cancelling earphones, and both looked very much like their older brother. The same fiery-red hair and a face covered in freckles.
"Congratulations! I think you're all fantastic," the Hostess shifted her weight and folded her arms. "It's a shame they couldn't find you a good hairdresser."
"My Mum cut my hair!" Nathan exclaimed, reaching up to comb it with his fingers.
"Did she? You seem like a good boy; I wonder what you did to upset her so much."
It was Nathan's mother in the audience who laughed loudest of all. "I'm sorry!" She called out from her place in the stands.
"You don't need to be sorry, I'm sure he deserved it!" The Hostess shouted back to her. As the chuckling died down, the Irishman beamed as the Hostess pulled the show back onto the tracks. "How did Cian upset you?"
"Oh, well, he got a question wrong in the last round and another one wrong in this round."
"So did you! Did you forget?"
"I never forget," Nathan replied. Lance's mouth twitched.
Oh, you done messed up, cutie.
"Actually, we've just established that you do forget! Twice, you've forgotten the answers to your questions!" The Hostess reminded him.
Nathan grew a little flustered. "I can't vote for myself, so I'm voting for Cian."
The Hostess nodded, then turned to the Scottish actor, who brushed a rebellious lock of dark hair from his pretty face. "Jamie. So, you think that 'iguana' begins with the letter 'C?' What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I couldn't think of chameleon at the time, and I wasn't about to pass!" His accent was so thick that sometimes Lance didn't hear everything he said. It would be better if he just spoke like Corey, with a much softer inflection. The dancer might forget how much he didn't like him. "It's the first question I've answered wrong all game."
"So, there's no loyalty among Scotsmen then?"
"Cian could have guessed, but he passed instead."
"Could it have been a worse guess than 'iguana?""
Jamie shrugged with a small grin. "Probably not, but 'iguana' was a better guess than passing on the question."
"If you say so," she remarked snidely before turning to the girl with the resplendent hair. "Casey. I thought I'd save the most important for last."
"Cheers," said the pink and blue-haired girl.
"He got a question wrong," she shrugged.
"Did you think he was the statistically the worst player?"
"He was not! Can you guess who was?"
Ha. Imagine that.
"Me?" The writer didn't seem to care.
"Correct! Since the first round, despite your wealth of knowledge, you've given the most incorrect answers out of anyone."
"Alright, but it's the votes that count," the girl pointed out. "Bye, Cian."
"No, that's my job!" The Hostess spun around to face the muscular teenager in the first position. "Cian! You missed your targets with Lady Gaga and Hanoi, so the team had decided to 'nock' you down a peg and 'loose' you from the competition. With three votes, you are the weakest link. Goodbye!"
The studio went dark as the walk of shame sequence began, but the massive athlete didn't let it dampen his spirits. He'd spent the vast majority of the game looking like he was at his own birthday party, and that didn't change now. He placed his board down and waved to the rest of the contestants as he walked by the Hostess, audience applauding their home-town hero.
"Thanks for having me! Good luck, guys!"
The dancer had been indifferent or even pleased to see both Paul and Alyssa off, but he was sorry to watch Cian exit through the stage door. He might not have been a genius, but his positive attitude and naturally sweet disposition lightened up the room... not to mention he was total eye candy.
Oh well. Three down.
Thank you for reading! ❤️ I hope the story continues to entertain!