A novel by Stephen King
under the pen name of Richard Bachman
100 teenage boys are taking part in a gameshow where they have to walk until only one remains. Each contestant must maintain a speed of 4 mph or they will get a warning. They are given one warning each time they fall below the required speed, but no more than one per minute. It takes one hour of walking at or above the required speed to have one warning written off. They are allowed three warnings, but if they lapse for a fourth time they are shot dead on the spot.
The story follows the boys as they progress on their journey, through day and night, across state lines and past significant landmarks. King examines what motivated each contestant to take part in such a trial that will leave 99 of them dead and in doing so he shows how friendships can form between competitors. He also demonstrates how the human mind can find humour in the utterly morbid as the boys make jokes along their way.
An interesting read for its premise, the book is also fascinating for the characters within. The main narrative is from the point of view of just one boy, but King also brings to life many of the other walkers before killing them off ruthlessly. Add to that the General who runs the show, the stone faced soldiers employed to do the dirty work and Crowd, the amalgam of spectators that blends in to one as the boys depart from reality.
Now seemed the time to write this node as it serves as an extreme example of the survival gameshow popular on TV today.
Where are we going?