Funny Science Fiction Romance

In the not-so-distant future, America’s society crumbles and deteriorates further, bringing to your home TV screens the world’s greatest reality show, Hardcore Dating Arena! Grab your assorted snacks, bubbly drinks, and scented tissues, as we join our live audience in evaluating and judging 100 contestants, 50 men, and 50 women, all competing to win a staggering prize of one million dollars!

Who will win? Who is the sexiest of them all? See what will triumph - love for another person, or lust for a bag of cash - in the Hardcore Dating Arena!

DISCLAIMER: AllPeopleInTheArenaAreConvictedCriminalsChargedWithDeathSentence. BroughtToYouByFoxNewsAndEntertainment,SponsoredByCocaColla.


Every Thursday at 7 P.M. millions of Americans, and many more millions of people from other parts of the world, tune in to watch the world’s newest and already favorite form of entertainment, Hardcore Dating Arena. A show that is said to have brought the TV back from the dead, a show that has won over people young and old, swaying them from social media and YouTube to watch the live broadcast each week for four hours straight.

Statistics show that there is a significant decrease in traffic, internet browsing, water, food, and electricity consumption, in the period from 7 P.M. to 11 P.M., the show’s normal airing time.

The show is actually good for the environment. 

People from all over the world gather in front of their TV’s to join in a global event that has humanity united in a single purpose more than any other event or crisis in history.

And how could it not?

In a world filled with environmental collapse, corrupt governments, mass poverty, and unemployment, pandemics raging wild, people need and crave something to bring them out of their everyday misery. Ancient Rome had the Gladiator Games. The first half of the 21st century had Tinder. 

Today, in the year 2101, combining the modern with the ancient, we have the Hardcore Dating Arena.

In this metropolitan pinnacle of modern entertainment, men and women with no sense of self-respect or decency, enroll in a gruesome and oftentimes downright brutal activity that has the highest risk-to-reward ratio of all reality shows and reality itself. And that can have you legitimately killed, should you fail. No valid lawsuits attached. The views are just too high.

100 people meet face to face at a set of fifty tables, dubbed the battlegrounds, where they face off in a war of the words, testing their opponent, prodding for their weakness, setting up carefully constructed traps to seduce them. What normal people would consider a casual date to get to know the other person better, here in the Arena, that is a matter of life and death. Literally.

All contestants are on cameras and the audience, both live and at home, vote for either the man or the woman, depending on whom they think performed better. The criteria include; looks, sex appeal, eye-contact, percentage of teeth shown, wittiness, flirtatiousness, and awkward moments, just to list a few. The Dating Arena team has scientists, analysts, and dating experts to crunch the numbers and criteria in the backroom, during commercial breaks.

To avoid sexism bias, each gender can only vote for their gender opposite. So, men can only vote for how women performed, and women can only vote for how men performed. Homosexuals usually don’t watch the show. They say it’s discriminating against them.

They may be the only sensible people left in the world.

The battlegrounds dates occur in 4 cycles; each one sees 20 contestants lose - 10 men and 10 women, while the others proceed to the next round to be matched up against someone else. The ones who are voted by the people as nopes or left-swipes - meaning they were the least attractive and did not get the date - are released from the battlegrounds and can make a run for their lives from the Arena center, to the exit doors. As they run, robotic hounds chase them down, firing at them with mounted Gatling guns or burning them with flamethrowers, using blades and saws for camera close-ups or bark profanities and shameful insults at them, regarding how useless they are for not being able to secure a date. So far, none of the losers had managed to reach the door.

In the finale, 20 of the best men and women get to face off in a dating showdown of such heat and intensity that many spectators require medical assistance due to strokes and a kind of dating euphoria. 

Oftentimes, the conversations between two people on the dating battlegrounds can be far more brutal than the slaughter of the losers that ensues…


The crowds roared in their seats around the Arena. The air was filled with tension, lights, and cameras. 

Hardcore Dating Arena spring break finale. The whole world was watching as the last contestants displayed their seductive prowess. 

“So,” Fabian said with his velvet voice, his perfect black hair reflecting the arena lights like tiny diamonds, “are you always this stormy or just in April?”

The crowd went wild. Fabian smiled, pleased with himself, sitting confidently on the chair at the battlegrounds, regarding his opponent. A gorgeous blonde with dark blue eyes, by the name of April.

“I’m like that only under one of two conditions,” April shrugged, keeping her legs crossed, the short skirt tightening against her skin. “One, I’m having my period - which you can see by my skirt, is not the case today. Or two, I’m talking to an idiot.”

A roar of laughter came from the crowd. Fabian’s cocky smile shattered like a stone falling through ice. April regarded him with her deep eyes, face unreadable.

“Ah,” he said, brushing a nonexistent speck of dust from his trousers, “so you don’t talk to yourself that much, I presume?”

The crowd laughed again, music to Fabian’s ears and his smile came back in fullest.

April stared at him with an intensity that could burn steel. “On the contrary,” she said, “I often find my own company delightful.” She leaned forward, her blouse barely concealing the treasure underneath. “You know, especially, when I’m all alone,” she whispered.

Fabian struggled to remain cool. The crowd could sense it was a sneaky blow and they waited with anticipation for the reply.

Fabian decided to switch tactics too. “Alone, you say? I don’t believe it. Such a dazzling specimen of the feminine as yourself would have a hard time being alone.” This time, he leaned close. “I know I wouldn’t be so foolish, as to have you talking to yourself.”

April smiled, acknowledging her opponent's wit and skill. Of the other ten pairs competing for the finals, they were the last pair still sitting. The last two alive to win one million dollars.

April leaned back, sighing. “You’d be surprised, then,” she said longingly. “It seems life doesn’t want me to be in good company; the men I find out there, I wouldn’t recommend even to the mosquitos in my backyard. Even they deserve better.”

“Seems like we have something in common, then,” Fabian said, masterfully turning her words against her. “As I myself am also disappointed with the selection of women so far in this Arena. You’d think they wouldn’t let such people sign up for a show like this.”

“Well,” April said, bringing her eyes down to meet with Fabian’s, “they let you in.”

The crowd erupted in thunderous laughter. The tension was getting cold and April sensed what she had to do - Fabian leaned back, caught off guard.

“But don’t worry,” April continued, “maybe the robot dogs will find your corpse somewhat attractive. Perhaps they’ll gnaw on a bone of yours?” She looked down at his pants.

The crowd snickered and whistled. Fabian sensed that the votes were slipping from his grasp fast. He had to do something or he’d be out.

Then, he saw a rescue rope, thrown to him by April’s very attempt at presenting her attractive figure better.

“Is it just me or is that dress too tight for you?”

April’s mouth, which was almost smiling, formed a thin line. The Arena fell silent.

Fabian nodded with his head at April’s skirt. “Looks kinda tight.”

“Are you calling me fat?” The words were so sharp they could cut air.

“Hey, your words, not mine.”

In a moment of weakness, April cocked her head and shot a lightning glance at Fabian. “Are you saying I look fat in this dress? On a date?”

“Not at all,” Fabian said, raising his arms in defense. “The dress looks fine.”

April raised an eyebrow. The audience leaned forward in their seats. Fabian paused for effect.

Then, he gambled.

“It’s that stomach that makes you fat.”

April’s jaw nearly dropped, her blue eyes threatening to pop and spill out an ocean. A gasp of pure shock traveled in the crowd like a wave at a football game. Fabian crossed his fingers and hoped for the best.

April stood up. Nobody ever stood up. In all the dates that had been held in the Arena, not a single person stood up before a winner was announced. Fabian and the crowd watched in a daze what would happen.

April strolled the short distance past the table to where Fabian was sitting and with a smile, she caressed the man’s cheek.

Fabian smiled back.

April gently ran her hand across his face.

The crowd held in their breath.

Then, April smacked the bejeezus out of the man, making him fall out of his chair and land flat on his back. She bent down and with fists clenched in knots of rage, she screamed, spitting; “Never call a girl fat on a first date, you asshole!

With dread, Fabian realized his gamble had failed. He laid there, heart pounding, shame filling his face, waiting to hear the robot hounds running for him.

But no hounds came. The crowd roared with astonishment, fiddling with the voting devices in their hands. April stood above Fabian, all sexy and cool, a cocky smirk on her face. Around them lay the remains of previous contestants; bodies hacked, slashed, burned, shot, and insulted to death.

After a grueling minute, a decision seemed to have been made. A single robot hound had been released into the Arena and was now running toward the battlegrounds.

“For the record,” April said, glancing at Fabian, “you are actually kind of cute. But I need the money. Sorry.”

Fabian’s heart sank so deep it nearly dropped to the ground. He smiled, finding a little solace in this small victory. “You know, I think you’re a very cool person,” he said. “I like your sense of humor.”

April gave him another look and smiled - and he could tell it was genuine this time. Was that even a glance of regret in her eyes?

“Too bad,” she said. “Perhaps in another life?”

“Yeah,” Fabian said, watching the robot hound bolt at them. “Perhaps in another life.”

He closed his eyes, April’s silhouette against the giant reflector lights the last thing burned in his mind, and got ready to embrace death. He didn’t even want to run, the hound would get him anyway.

He got so close to winning though…

The sound of metal claws scratching on the ground came and somebody screamed in horrible pain. Fabian opened his eyes, surprised to see that he was not the one screaming.

It was April. The hound was butchering her on the ground, tearing her too-tight dress, revealing a not-at-all fat stomach underneath. The sight deepened Fabian’s guilt for resorting to such a low insult tactic and it raised a question in his mind.

Didn’t I lose?

Then, he noticed the scoreboard on the main screen above the Arena. The crowd had voted for April, but he got awarded bonus points for comedic timing and crowd entertainment. He had won, by a hair’s width, due to being stupid and falling on his ass.

Specks of hot blood sprayed over his cheek, raining on him like April rain, and Fabian felt a mixture of joy, as well as regret. 

He won. Yet it felt like he lost.

The robot hound emptied its flamethrower and Gatling gun on the poor remains of April just for good measure, before retreating to its pen. A sanitation crew came to brush away the ashes and blood, and a masking woman came to wipe Fabian’s face clear, so he could speak to the cameras that were pointed at him.

“So,” a commentator said, as he skidded over to Fabian, avoiding blood pools. “How does it feel to win one million dollars?” He stuck a microphone in Fabian’s face.

Fabian looked at him, then at the crowds roaring and applauding, then at his hands, and finally at the camera, saying what everyone knew, but didn’t want to admit.

“This country is profoundly messed up.”

November 12, 2020 12:02

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Pragya Rathore
14:14 Nov 12, 2020

Oh God! Poor April... Fabian is such a- This story was one of those where you find, after reading it, that it was exactly your type. Personally, I thought in the middle that they would both win and one of the robots would say, "You two deserve each other." Disappointed... I loved this line: "Then, April smacked the bejeezus out of the man..." So wonderfully satisfying! Lovely piece as usual. I guess you may soon have to categorise it as non-fiction ;)


Harken Void
21:47 Nov 12, 2020

I felt a bit bad about April at the end, but once I counted the votes and the bonus points, there was no going back. I'm glad that you enjoyed it! :) And I HOPE, with all my heart and soul, that this story remains in the fiction category, haha ;)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jace A. King👑
17:28 Jan 08, 2021

I- Man I don't have anything to say... That was not what I expected. I absolutely loved this story. I loved what you said about the gays. "may be the only sensible people left in the world." we really are lol XD jk. this story made me happy, sad, and laugh my ass off. Good job!


Harken Void
10:44 Jan 10, 2021

Haha, thanks Nicole xD I'm glad you enjoyed it!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Magdalene Lam
07:12 Nov 28, 2020

So this is a life and death contest?


Harken Void
09:03 Nov 30, 2020

Pretty much ;)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.