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Picture the scene; It's late one night, around 1am, pitch black darkness with the only company being the sound of speeding cars on the motorway above. Two men stand below it, one covered head to toe to hide his identity, one a failed TV presenter looking for a second chance. The two met on Craigslist, as he was browsing for anything that could bring back the revival of his career. On the verge of giving up on everything, ready to take his own life, he found an ad that piqued his interest.
"What would you give for fame?"
When he clicked the ad all he saw was the name of a motorway and time. He knew it was probably just a joke, a silly little ad that a few teens put up there to make a fool out of people, but yet he felt drawn to it, compelled to go there and see what it truly was. So he went and that is where our story starts.
The two men exchanged glares until the motorway above was silent. "Are you ready?" said the mystery man, in a deep, emotionless voice. The staring continued. "Edmonds, I asked, are you ready?" Edmonds stared, the cold night wind blowing his hair. He slowly nodded as the man proceeded a slip of paper, a contract with no words written upon it, only a dotted line to be signed. Edmonds wanted to put a fake signature, just incase this was some elaborate scam, but once again he found himself to be too trusting. He signed it with his usual 'N.Edmonds' and then blacked out.
He woke several hours later, refreshed and smiling. He scratched the back of his neck while trying to remember his whereabout, peeling a plaster off of his neck. He assumed when he blacked out that he'd fallen on it and thought nothing more of it. He set off home and went back to his day to day life, assuming that it'd just been a dream or a side effect of all the medication he was taking to deal with his depression. Then he became aware of the fact he wasn't depressed. Not anymore, he wasn't angry, happy, upset or depressed. He felt empty, like something had been taken from him. After a few days of feeling like this, he'd grown used to it and had forgotten all about the events of that old night.
He sat at home, eating cereal and watching TV when the phone rang. It was rare for him to get a call, he didn't have many people left in his life that would call him, let alone anyone at 3 in the afternoon. It was an executive producer from Channel 4, telling him news of a game show that they want him to host. Edmonds accepted and within the week filming had begun.
The premise of the game show was simple. 22 boxes with various sums of money in them ranging from one pence to £250,000. There would be 23 contestants, 22 with the boxes and one chosen to play. But on the first day of filming, Edmonds demanded a change. He requested only 22 contestants, one would bring their box to the table. He also asked for a third person to be in the spotlight. An unseen friend of his. He called him 'The Banker', a mysterious, unknown voice on the other end of a telephone. The Banker resembled the new Edmonds. Cold, heartless, uncaring, with eyes only focused on money and materialism.
As the game show became more and more popular, The Banker would become crueller and more desensitized to the contestants feelings. People that were in dire need of his money would be offered much less for the contents of their box, being taunted by his maniacal laugh as Edmonds stared at them, urging them to go on with the game.
He knew The Banker's secret. He knew that when the person dealt, they gave their life away. The only way to keep your humanity was to play until the end. Edmonds didn't want them to deal. He didn't want them to suffer the same as he did. He didn't want them to sign the contract.
He gave his soul for fame, he became empty. But The Banker wanted more from him. Edmonds fame was the doorway for people to sell their soul for a small fortune.
Their life, like his, was decided by one simple phrase.
"Deal or no deal."