Jake Jacobs smiled at the camera lens with those so-white-they-say-salt-is-spicy teeth of his. “Annnnnnddddd welcome back to Second Chances! The game show where we pick three lucky contestants to complete to win a chance to use our time machine…” He pointed over at a big, bulky, glowing-green pod in the corner, “to give them a second chance at one of their life’s tragic events. I’m your host: Jake Jacobs! Now let’s meet our contestants!”
Strolling over to a young, plump lady with a face full of freckles, Jake Jacobs said, “And what’s your name pretty lady?”
She blushed and said, “Cady McClain.”
“Well, Cady, what—or should I say when—“ A fake audience laugh track played. “Do you hope to go back to?”
“Oh, ah, golly, I would have to say my Advanced Electromagnetic Theory class’s final. I ran out before the test even started and I can’t graduate this year without that class. My professor is a real piece of work so fingers crossed I can win tonight and redo it.” She crossed her fingers and beamed into the camera.
“Well, isn’t that just lovely? Let’s give her some encouragement, folks!”
A bland clap track played. “Alright then,” Jake Jacobs said, “Moving on to contestant two.”
He pulled up beside a scrawny teenage boy with a crooked nose and a broken leg. “What’s your name, sport, and why are you here playing with us tonight?”
“Hello world! I’m Jamal Jackson!” He squealed with excitement oozing out of every word. “I’m just so excited to be here! Well, ah, Jake—can I call you Jake!”
Through clenched teeth in a low enough volume that the mike couldn’t hear him, but Jamal could, he said, “Absolutely the fuck not.”
Jamal ignored him. “I’m here to go back in time and prevent this!” He pointed at his leg cast. “I got hit by a car!” Jamal said, happily. “It was terrible!”
“Why do you sound so happy about it?” Cady asked.
“The painkillers I’m on won’t allow me to feel anything else but happiness! Help me!” Jamal said.
“Alrightly,” Jack Jacobs said as he walked over to contestant three. “Let’s meet our final contestant.”
Jack Jacobs stopped at a bulky man that had more beef on his bones than a cow did. “What’s your name and why are you here?”
Leaning too close into the microphone, he introduced himself in a low, rumbling voice. “My name is Fred Davids. I’m here to go back to my sister’s murder.”
Putting a hand over his heart and fake tears in his eyes, Jake Jacobs cried out, “Wow, that’s amazing. You want to save your murdered sister. Can you get a round of applause, folks?”
This time, the real audience applauded him along with the clap track. Jake Jacobs wiped a fake tear from his eye. “Amazing, truly amazing.”
“You misunderstand,” Fred said, “I’m not going to save my sister, I want to murder her a second time. You know, for the fun of it.”
Jake Jacobs blinked twice fast then took a huge step away from Fred. “Moving on from that…” He started walking towards the multicolored wheel pinned to the stage’s back wall. As soon as he got far enough from Fred, he whispered into his suit’s microphone, “Can someone call the cops on his guy before I get murdered. I’m too shiny to die.”
And indeed, Jake Jacobs was too shiny to die. Even when he accidentally fell off that thirty story building. He survived when his shiny white teeth reflected off the sun and into the Grim Reaper’s eyes, long enough for the paramedics to revive him. Boy, the Grim Reaper was probably rubbing his hands together maliciously right now. Jake Jacobs gulped, hoping he was still too shiny to die.
“Let’s give the contestants a quick refresher on how this works. I spin the wheel and it picks the round’s challenge. First person to win three rounds wins the game! Time to spin for Round One’s challenge!” Jake Jacobs eagerly said, pushing the thought of death from his mind. He launched the wheel into motion, listening to the tic tic tic slow down. Finally, the wheel landed on a picture of two broken hearts. “Looks like this round’s challenge is Rekindling!”
Three purple doors rose from beneath the stage. Pacing in front of them, Jake Jacobs explained. “Now contestants, in the spirit of second chances, we’d thought we’d give you a second chance at… love.” He clapped his hands and the three doors opened in sync. Two women walked out of the doors and onto the stage. A third woman with a broken leg and arm quickly came out after them. “As you can see, we’ve invited your ex-girlfriends here. The first couple to rekindle and agree to a date wins the round. Begin!”
Cady’s jaw dropped as her ex-girlfriend walked up to her. Nervously, she fiddled with the sleeve of her shirt. “K—Katie. I wasn’t expecting you.”
“And I wasn’t expecting the first time I’d be on TV would to be to talk to my ex.” Katie reapplied a thick layer of pink lipgloss and popped her lips. “But c’est la vie, you do what you can to make it on the big screen.” Holding up a glossy headshot to the camera, Katie reintroduced herself. “Name’s Katie Kesher. I’m an aspiring actress and you’re…” She pointed at the lens with a wide smile, “best option for a leading role. You can reach my agent at—“
“Katie,” Cady interrupted, what are you doing?”
As she rolled her eyes, Katie said, “Well, duh, I’m prioritizing my acting career like you always prioritized your… Umm.. science-y career over me.”
“So I missed a few dates, I had to get that scholarship.”
“Yeah, last time it was the scholarship. Before that, it was ‘I had to win the science fair’.” Katie mocked with a perfect Cady impression. She really was a good actress. “It’s always something with you. That’s why we broke up.”
Cady’s fists balled at her sides. “Why can’t you just be happy for me?!”
“Woah,” Jake Jacobs said as he redirected the camera away from the quarreling couple. “Let’s see how well the other lovebirds are flying.”
The battered up chick with the broken bones had been Jamal’s girlfriend. “Lisa! It’s terrible to see you! I’d rather lose this TV show than date you!” Jamal said, gleefully.
Lisa crossed her arms—or tried to at least. “The feeling is mutual. After all, you’re the one who ran me and put me in these casts.”
Jamal slammed his hands on the microphone's table. “You ran over me first! You deserved it!”
This time Jake Jacobs physically moved the drama-loving lens around from the car crash couple. “Let’s see how our final couple is doing.”
From Fred’s end of the stage came… nothing. He and his ex didn’t argue at all. They didn’t even talk. They just… glared at each other like they were about to commit another murder. Jake Jacobs shivered.
Finally, Fred broke the silence. “If you agree to another date with me, and I win, when I go back in time, I’ll give your past self the winning lotto numbers.”
His ex stuck a hand out. “Deal.”
They shook. A buzzer blared meaning the first round was over. Fred and his creepy ex had won. All the exes left the stage and Jake Jacobs walked back over to the wheel. His sweaty palms made the wheel difficult to grab. And how could he not be nervous? What if a freaking murderer actually got the chance to travel back in time? Damn.
Clearing his throat, Jake Jacobs said, “And now, it’s time for Round Two! So let’s…”
“SPIN. THE. WHEEL!” The audience chanted.
The tic tic tic-ed before landing on a picture of a mother holding a baby. “Awwww folks, this one’s a real cutie!” Jake Jacobs reached out his arms and stage hand gave him a random baby swaddled in a blue blanket. Lowering his voice as to not wake the baby, Jake Jacobs said, “Now in the honor of second chances, we’re giving each of you a baby—because we all know the main reason parents have kids to live through them for a second chance at success. Speaking of kids, I’d like to take a moment to give a shout to my two wonderful daughters: Jamie and Jackie! Sweethearts, if you’re watching this, get back to studying to become a doctor. And remember, Daddy loves you~!—but only if you become a doctor.” Jake Jacobs held out the baby. Another stage hand swooped out and scooped the baby up. “So let’s begin Round Two’s challenge: Mother Knows Best! The goal of this challenge is to get your baby to cross the finish line first.”
From the shadows of offstage, a pair of stage hands rolled out a carpet race track. Then, three more stage hands materialized behind the contestants and each handed them a baby.
Jamal held his baby awkwardly, trying not to drop it. “Whose babies are these!”
In her arms, Cady’s baby started crying. “Where are their mothers?”
“Ready, set, race!” Jake Jacobs cheered.
Cautiously, Jamal and Cady set their babies on the START part of the race track. “You can do it, baby!” Jamal cheered behind his baby.
A lightbulb lit up over Cady’s head and she ran over to the finish line. “Come here, baby.” She cooed. “Come to Cady~.”
Her baby swerved to the right. “Gah—no. Come this way, baby. Straight to Cady.”
“Go, baby! Go!” Jamal chanted behind his baby.
Despite their coos and chants, neither one had managed to cross the halfway mark. However, they were still doing better than Fred’s baby. He hadn’t even moved from the start position. His baby just stared blankly at him. Fred stared back silently. Slowly, his lips curled into a scowl. “Move baby, move!!!” He screamed, waving his hands violently at the baby.
Crying, the baby crawled as fast away from him as he could—which was towards the finish line. Cady’s jaw dropped as the bawling baby passed her and the finish line. She picked up the baby and rocked it in her arms. “How could you scare a baby?!”
Fred shrugged. “The same way I killed my sister: without remorse.”
Jamal took a step away from Fred.
Behind Jake Jacobs, a stage hand popped up and physically closed his slightly open mouth. Then, she spun around him and picked up each of the babies.
The fake applause roared over the studio, startling Jake Jacobs to focus. After all, what could possibly be distracting except from the fact that he was about to send a murderer back in time.
But still, murder or no murder, the show must go on! After all, what’s the point of life without game shows?
Slowly, Jake Jacobs walked over to the wheel. Before spinning it, he said, “Remember Cady and Jamal, if one of you doesn't win this round, Fred will become the winner.”
They each gave him a grim nod.
“Alright then,” Jake Jacobs said and yanked down on the wheel.
Round and round it goes. Where it stops, only the guy behind the stage controlling it knows. Tic tic tic. Tic tic… Tic. And there it was. It landed on a picture of a tree. “Round Three’s challenge is—“
“No, it’s not. It’s Nature’s Love! And who the fRICK JUST INTERRUPTED ME?” Jake Jacobs shrieked.
Twenty men in bullet proof vest burst onto the stage. “The FBI!”
“OhmygodthankgodsomeonenfinallycalledthecopslikeIasked,” Jake Jacobs said in one relieved breath.
As the cops crept towards Fred, he threw the microphone table at them and bolted towards the back door. Four guys tackled and wrestled him to the ground.
“Man, a live arrest,” Jake Jacobs said. “Our ratings are gonna skyrocket!”
One of the FBI agents tapped on the time machine. “Hey, do you have a permit for one of these?”
Jake Jacobs paled. “Well that’s it for now, folks. Make sure to—“
“Sir, I’m afraid you're under arrest,” the FBI agent said.
“—Tune back in Second Chances next week. I’m your host—“
“Sir, stop the broadcast, immediately.”
“Jake Jacobs! And have a great w—“
Another FBI agent tackled Jake Jacobs when he wouldn’t stop moving around.
“Week,” Jake Jacobs groaned.
And the cameras finally clicked off.