Love Sinks: A February/Valentines Dating Show Experience [Wretched & Alone]
It’s Valentine’s month and, as I often do around holidays and other events, I will be playing a themed game to commemorate the event.  This time I will be playing Love Sinks, a Wretched & Alone game. While I am playing this in honor of Valentine’s Day, it certainly will not be completed before that time. If you are unfamiliar with Wretched & Alone, check out the introduction to my playthrough of the game The Buried for an explanation of how the game is played and the specific tools I personally use to run the game. 

Love Sinks is a reality television dating show where I will compete against several other eligible bachelors to win the affection of the youngest heir of the Atlantean royal family. No, not Atlanta, Georgia. Atlantis, as in the lost continent. In this reality, the Atlantean society has been living underwater for centuries and has recently reconnected with the surface world. For reasons not yet explained in the game’s introduction, the royal family has agreed to let their young Princess appear on this dating show.

At the start of the game, we only know a few things about the Atlanteans. First, they appear as human but with very fish-like features, the result of technology they developed to alter their bodies, allowing them to live underwater. Next, they can live for long periods of time on the land, providing they regularly submerge themselves in water. And finally, they have a royal family. Anything else about Atlantean culture will be discovered throughout the course of the game.

Each turn will represent one week on the show. I will draw a random number of playing cards and then write a confessional based on the prompts referenced by the cards. (While producing videos of each confessional does sound fun, I'm not that ambitious this time around. Once again, for reference, see The Buried.) The game uses all four card suits and the two jokers. Heart cards represent things that happen on dates; Diamonds, my body’s transformation; Spades, things about my past; Clubs, information about the show; and Jokers, the elimination of a contestant.  Instead of a Jenga tower, Love Sinks starts the contestant off with 43 balloons that are popped as viewers determine who they want to vote off the show. During the game, some cards will instruct the player to “pop” a number of balloons.  If all the balloons are popped, the character is voted off the show.

One last thing, starting with daily pills, my character will be subject to the Atlantean transformation technology, preparing him for a life underwater should the princess choose him at the end of the show.
Any oracle rolls, description prompts, etc. will be generated using the tools at unless otherwise noted.


(I am seated in the confessional room. Behind me are nautical-themed items and wall decoration.)

. . . So, you just want me to talk about myself? . . . Okay. Well, hello. I’m Darin Noble. Heh, appropriate name. Sorry, I’ll start again. Hello, I’m Darin Noble and I am the perfect match for Nadreall, the heir of Atlantis. I am a graphic novel writer from Orlando, Florida and  I decided to come on Love Sinks because, well, obviously I want to meet the Princess, but also to represent our race in a respectable manner. I believe I’m well suited for this. I’m a loyal and trusted companion. If I make a promise or agree to something, I go out of my way to keep my word. All my friends say, “If you need something done, ask Darin.” Unfortunately, that probably contributes to my greatest flaw. I tend to be a little paranoid. It’s not that I think everyone is out to get me, but that I’m afraid I’m always falling short somewhere and people are disappointed in me, like they can’t trust me . . . What do I like most about the princess? I think that would be her inquisitiveness. I think we both share that. She’s curious about us. I’m curious about the Atlantean culture. We can learn a lot from each other. And if I’m being honest, that aquamarine skin is a bit of a turn-on. You don’t see that every day . . . No, I don’t think there’s any more responsibility dating Nadreall than any other woman. Yes, she’s royalty, but she has something like, what is it,  six or seven older siblings? . . . Twenty-seven? Wow! But that just reinforces my point. I have no delusions of ever ruling over the Atlanteans. It’s not like Nadreall will ever be the queen with that many brothers and sisters ahead of her. Now, I suspect some of the other guys might be after the title, but that’s not me . . . Of course, I’m nervous about the transformation. Who wouldn’t be? But I look at it this way, these Atlanteans appear to have perfected this technology. They’ve lived this way for probably hundreds of years. They know what they are doing. Right?

[Image: nigetcBFdwTigeEzlisQsu7jvo2JJxWQZrdfxzfn...NNmA=w2400]
Nadreall Benbani, Princess of Atlantis


We finally met Nadreall the other night, and wow, is she attractive! I mean, I’ve seen pictures and watched her on the news, but in person is something else. You just don’t realize the detail of her scales. They’re beautiful, the way they shimmer. I thought they might be pointy or sharp, but when we hugged they were surprisingly smooth and soft . . . Oh yeah, that was a bit awkward. I wanted to hold her hand while I spoke to her at the cocktail party. I like to entwine my fingers with the other person’s hand, but when I tried that with Nadre I couldn’t get them in there because of her webbing. Thankfully, she took it gracefully and found the humor in the situation . . . What do I think of the other guys?  They seem okay. So far I have no issues. I do wonder about their expectations. James, for instance. He told me that he quit his job, has his house up for sale, and has begun to say farewell to his family and friends. I mean, he’s pretty sure he’s going to be moving to Atlantis. He says it’s because he is “all in” and wants the Princess to know he’s really here for her, that he has nothing tying him to the surface. On the one hand, I get it, but you have to be realistic. There’s a large group of men here. Most of us are going home. Is it really smart to give up everything? And what if it turns out he’s not that interested in her?  Then what? Hey, I’m as big a sucker for those clear, blue eyes as the next guy (I pause and smile thinking about Nadre’s eyes.), but you need to be sure there is a mutual attraction before you uproot your entire life. Am I wrong?

The Rolls:

Draw: 1 card - okay, slow start.

Four of Spades - Another contestant admits they've cut off all ties from their past life for this. Are you jealous or judgmental of their commitment?


(I hold up a folded piece of paper.) I was unpacking and look what I found. Stuffed in a pant pocket was a letter from my brother, Hunter. <Reading> “Hey little bro, you are going to do great! Think about it, you’re about to live out the fantasies we’ve only written about.  I’m a little jealous.” Hunter and I work together on graphic novels. Fantasy heroes and all that kind of stuff. He’s right. The Atlanteans are, in a way, the fantastic people that till now have only existed in comics and movies. It’s encouraging to know he’s rooting for me. I was afraid he might think I was leaving him high and dry. Of course, that’s silly. I can write no matter where I am, but if things go well that might be my only regret, not seeing Hunter all the time.

. . . The transformation? Now that was unpleasant. I thought those bitter-tasting pills were bad enough. I guess they condition our cells to be receptive to the transformation tech? I least that’s what I understand. Anyway, Nadre met all us bachelors in the clinic this week. Apparently, it was “leg day.” Each of us entered this chamber and a bright light shone on our legs. It was warm, uncomfortable. But when it was done we had webbing between our toes and small fins began to sprout from the back of our legs. Creepy. You wouldn’t think some webbing would be that noticeable but I did have trouble walking after leaving the clinic. I even tripped once. That was embarrassing. But we all felt it. Have you ever have something suddenly grow out of your skin? I guess not. Well, it’s rather painful. Stretching skin feels like a million hairs being pulled out all at once. No one could do much except lay in bed for the rest of the night. I hope this gets easier.

But then we had the group date. Nadre met us at the shore where she was ready for us to try out our new feet and fins. It was a swimming challenge. We all had to swim out to a buoy and back and the winner received extra time with the Princess. To be honest, I didn’t expect to win as I’m not much of a speed swimmer, but some of those guys were really going for it. A bit too aggressive, if you ask me.  Freddy especially. He pushed my head under as he swam past. I swallowed a bunch of water and had to stop.  If I wasn’t doing great to begin with, that certainly ended my chances.  Nadreall asked me about it during the evening portion of the date. For our alone time, she took me to an underwater reef just offshore. First of all, breathing and talking underwater, what a trip! Another effect of the pills, I’m assuming. Anyway, she expressed concern over my having to drop out of the race, so I told her about being dunked. She was sympathetic but quick to defend Freddy, suggesting that he was just passionate about trying to impress her. “After all,” she said, “You want your future boyfriend to be someone who fights for you.” True, but there’s a point where a gentleman’s challenge turns into an obnoxious fight.

. . . Oh this? (I hold up a gold colored shell) Nadreall gave it to me.  It was just lying there in the sand where we were sitting in the reef. <What does it mean when you find a golden shell? Passion/Joy> She said that in her culture, finding a gold shell means you are about to find increased joy in the things you are passionate about. Of course, I immediately thought about our potential relationship, but she asked about my hobbies. I told her I love to play tabletop role-playing games. Ha. I’m such a nerd. Can you believe she had no idea what a role-playing game is? That really brought home to me just how isolated from the rest of the world Atlantis has been . . . Oh, yes. Nadre was fascinated at the thought of pretending to be someone else and living another life. In fact, she made me promise to teach her how to play. That’s when she gave me the golden shell, for good luck in my games and to remind me to teach her . . . Did we kiss? I wanted to, but no. We just kept it friendly.

. . . Ah, the balloon ceremony. Don’t remind me. That was tense. It’s pressure enough trying to impress the Princess. Having to win over the viewers also is just nerve-racking. Seven balloons! I think that was one of the largest number popped. And I thought I was doing well. Wait! Its not just us watching. Atlantis is watching also. Right? . . . I wonder if they’re who want me voted off. I failed at swimming. I barely handled the transformation. Maybe they think the Princess can do better. Wow. This is awful. I’m doomed!

The Rolls:

Draw: 5 cards

Ace of Spades: You receive an encouraging letter from someone close. It gives you the strength to persevere. Set this card aside. On any subsequent roll for Balloons of your choosing, you may discard this card instead.

Five of Diamonds: The Heir brings you to a clinic where they shine a strange light all over your legs. Later, you develop webbing between your toes and small fins along your legs. Your legs hurt for the day and you lose your balance several times. How do you react to this? Roll (1d6) for balloons. Lose 6 balloons

Four of Clubs: Another contestant has become very obnoxious and competitive, but the Heir tells you later that they appreciate the passion. How does that make you feel? Are you intimidated or are you just as competitive?

Ten of Hearts: You introduce the Heir to your favorite hobby, something they have no experience with. How does it bring you closer together?

Ace of Hearts: The Heir has brought you to a beautiful underwater grove. They give you a token of their affection. What is it and why is it special?

Roll for balloons. Lose 1 balloon.  Set this card aside and place 10 tokens on it. At the end of every episode, roll a six-sided dice. If you roll a six, remove a token from this card. This represents another token being gifted to you. After all 10 tokens have been removed, the Heir has selected you as the winner of Love Sinks. You can record a final confession about your triumph.

Token Roll: 5    Tokens remaining: 10
I thinks this wins the "Most Unique" genre award.

By the way, your voice acting in The Buried was great! Bravo!
Thanks, Mark. One of the things I enjoyed most about editing the Buried was finding and working with the different sound effects used. I thought it turned out well for the quick amount of time I put into it.


. . . Huh? Oh, my legs are feeling much better. Thanks for asking. I was expecting we would have undergone more of the transformation by now. But either bodies need to recover before they continue the process, or they are just being nice to us. I’m not sure which . . . I like Charleston a lot. I have visited the city several times in the past. I like touring the historic sites and the people are very friendly. However, I’ve always stayed in the city. But this is the first time I’ve been on the beaches. I’m not much of a beach person. I know, that must sound weird for someone dating a woman who lives in the ocean, but I feel that Atlantis probably isn’t much different from home, just underwater. Is there such thing as an underwater beach? I don’t think so. What would that even be? Shallow water before you reach dry sand?

[Image: 5q_U3KdZA4kb0KRfZ84XfY_J48hWDMy2XbDxUAlY...RNww=w2400]
Charleston, SC 

Anyway, it’s been an up and down week. I received some really discouraging news just after the last week’s balloon ceremony. One of the incentives of being on the show is that we could invite a friend to visit the set and watch a day of filming. I could have asked Hunter, but one of my best friends growing up was Martin.  He’s really into this whole reality tv thing, so I thought he’d love to come. Unfortunately, I received word from the producers that he refused. He said he couldn’t condone my choice to abandon my family and friends and didn’t understand why I would want to date a ‘sea girl’ when there are plenty of good women back home . . . No, I don’t think he’s prejudiced, at least he’s never seemed that way in the past. But then again, finding out about the Atlanteans, learning about their society and the reasons why they’ve kept their distance for so long, it’s new and we are all trying to figure out how to deal with it. Still, I think Martin is just missing the good old days.  In college, we used to bar-hop together to pick up girls. Double-date. All that sort of thing. I think he’s just upset at losing his wingman. Also, he might be a little jealous that I might actually be settling down soon. Hopefully, I can talk to him directly in the next few days.

Then there was the one-on-one date. I was shocked to see my name on that card. I know I don’t necessarily stand out among the rest of the guys. Nadre and I went to a fancy restaurant where we and some of her friends had an early dinner.  The chef prepared many dishes that featured Atlanean cuisine: various types of seaweed, kelp, ocean lettuce, sea cucumber . . . Oh yeah, I know sea cucumbers are animals, not plants. All that Disney stuff you see about fish and lobsters and mermaids all living together as friends. That’s all bunk. A load of carp. <I chuckle at my sea humor.> Underwater animals are just that to the Atlanteans, animals. Just as we on the surface we eat beef and chicken, they eat fish and mollusks . . . Yeah,  apparently I’m not that well versed in Atlantean etiquette, or maybe just royal etiquette. I’m not sure which. I took a sip of my wine before the Princess had even been served. Then I had started to nibble on my appetizer before I noticed the rest of the table staring at me, shocked. Did you know it was inappropriate to eat or drink before the Princess? I had no clue. All my dates in the past have typically been burger and fries nights and it’s normal to dig in when the food arrives . . . Well, I apologized, but then said the only thing I could think of. I plead ignorance. In fact, I think I made some lame attempt at humor by suggesting I was protecting her. You know, tasting the food first to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. Nadre’s friends did not seem amused, but the Princess did give me a reassuring smile. I was afraid the incident would doom me at the balloon ceremony, but I only lost two balloons, so I guess I recovered well enough.

Eventually, things got a little more normal. We continued the meal, which was excellent by the way, and the conversation eventually flowed to Nadreall’s childhood. I learned some interesting things from Rinah, Nadreall’s best friend . . . No, she’s not royalty. She’s just a normal person -- or Atlantean. Uh, I’m not sure exactly sure what the correct term is. But she told me that when Nadre was a young teen she would leave the castle to explore the city. Her parents hated that. Not because they thought it was improper to mingle with the city folk, but because they never knew where Nadreall was. She would just leave without telling them. That must have been frustrating, but I admire her willingness to get to know the people she ruled over. She wasn’t afraid to explore her world. That was how she and Rinah met. Rinah didn’t even know she was a Princess till after they became good friends.  Y’know, people often think of royal families as out of touch with the real world, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this experience.  Royal family. A society much different from ours. But stories like these just make me want to know more about Nadre. I really think I could fall in love with her.

. . . Charlie!  What can I say? Who could have guessed he was still in a relationship?  Nadreall just walked into the house and pulled him aside.  None of us knew what was going on.  Then, without any warning, he was sent him home. She told us later that she received a text from another woman claiming to be in a relationship with him. I still don’t know if he ever admitted to anything or if the woman was just that convincing. Regardless, he’s gone. I’m shocked -- I’m just shocked. He seemed like an honest dude. I guess that just goes to show that you never really know a person. Every day’s a surprise around here.

The Rolls:

Draw: 5 Cards

King of Spades: You were allowed to invite one close friend to come visit you on set. That friend re-fused you, saying they were hurt by how willing you are to abandon your old life for someone you just met. How do you cope with this?

Do not discard this card. Set it aside. If this is the last King drawn of the four Kings, your past pulls you back from this relationship and you quit, realizing you're still too tied to your old life. The game is over.

Joker (Black): Here is a good place to explain Jokers. Drawing a Joker means a contestant has been eliminated from the show. The previous card drawn informs the reason behind the elimination (per a chart in the rules). If the Joker is the first card drawn in a round, then the next regular card is used to determine the reason. If only Jokers are drawn, then the player is eliminated, which makes rounds where only one or two cards are drawn particularly dangerous. After the round is done, the Jokers are shuffled back into the deck that remains undrawn.

(Based on King of Spades) - The Heir eliminated a contestant after discovering they were still in a close relationship with someone else.

Queen of Hearts: The Heir introduces you to Atlantean cuisine and fine dining. You make several etiquette blunders that leaves everyone at the restaurant glaring at you. How do you recover? Roll for balloons. 2  Down to 34

Six of Spades: The contest is in a big city on the coast. Do you live nearby? Do you feel at home here or like an outsider?

Six of Hearts: The Heir introduces you to their closest friend. They share old stories with you about the Heir. What do you learn that gives you greater appreciation for the Heir as a person?

Token Roll: 2



I was just doing some reading when -- knock, knock, knock -- the film crew was at my door to take some shots of my room. Was totally unprepared, but after three weeks you think I would be ready for the unexpected . . . Embarrassed? Well, that’s putting it a bit mildly . . . Oh, the sketch? That wasn’t horrible. My brother’s the real artist of the family--he does most of the artwork for our graphic novels--but I’ve picked up a few things here and there. I was just practicing. <I hold the sketch up to show it to the producer.> It’s supposed to be Nadreall, if you couldn’t tell. That's a starfish. 

[Image: QUvp_3aiiD7Xu0RyHK5c4AoYcsVUunNIQyIoimM6...fESQ=w2400]

Sure, if I knew my privacy was going to be “invaded” <I use finger quotes to indicate I’m being tongue-in-cheek> I probably would have put it away. But there are worse things to find . . . Yes, like the pamphlet. That was more than embarrassing. That was mortifying. Every day there seems to be at least one group of Anti-Atlantis protestors demonstrating near the shoot. While we were being escorted back to the hotel, a young woman broke through security and ran up to me. She just shoved that pamphlet in my hand and I instinctively took it. I intended to throw it away, but must have just laid it down on the dresser and forgot about it. Obviously, I don’t believe any of that junk, or I wouldn’t be here, potentially leaving my home to live with the Princess. I really hope you guys don’t air that. While I want to believe that people are willing to give a person the benefit of the doubt, unfortunately, the reality is that people like to believe the worst.

The pool party, on the other hand, was a blast. When Blaine first stepped into the room and told us the cocktail party was canceled, you could literally feel the pall that fell over the group. But all that changed the second Nadre stepped in wearing that sexy two-piece  <whistle> and announced we were having a pool party. There was beer and champagne. Burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Some time alone with the Princess. It was a great afternoon. At least until Freddy got a chip on his shoulder. The pool had one of those little floating hoops and a ball and someone suggested we play a game of water basketball. I was on a team with Wayne and Cedric. We were playing against Eddie, Matt R., and Freddy. Most of us were just having a little fun, but Freddy once again took it way too serious. Pulling down trunks. Dunking heads to get the ball. Be very loud every time he scored a basket, and not in a celebratory way, but in a way intended to insult and demean us. “Another point, losers! C’mon, if you want to live with the Atlanteans you gotta stop swimming like tadpoles.” Yeah. They won. And Freddy made sure Nadreall knew it, yelling “We all know who the Big Fish is now!”  What a jerk. I think we’re all hoping he goes home soon.

The Rolls:

Draw: 2 Cards

Two of Clubs: The Heir takes everyone out swimming and some contestants launch a swimming competition. Do you participate? Did you win?

Seven of Clubs: The film crew asked for a tour of your contestant room. What embarrassing things were you forced to talk about? <C.Q. Carelessness/Art  Intolerance/Information>  Roll for balloons.  5 Down to 29

Token Roll: 3



We had some really good one-on-one time. I would have liked it to be longer but I did get a chance to tell the Princess a little bit about what I do for a living . . . You don’t? Well, I’d be happy to tell you. My brother Hunter and I produce the graphic novel series Golems. Hunter is the artist of the family. Growing up he was always doodling something: monsters, dragons, knights, great buildings. I would stare at his drawings for hours and imagine what the story behind the image was and occasionally would write down my thoughts.

One day, Hunter found some of my stories and had this idea that we should create a comic together. My stories. His art. I must have been like sixteen or seventeen at the time. We brainstormed this tale of four teens who discovered ancient artifacts that let them summon large elemental giants, or golems. Earth, Fire, Water, and Air . . . What’s an air golem? We imagined it as a creature made from clouds. I know the physics don’t totally make sense, but it’s a superhero comic. Anything goes, right? 

We did a few single-page stories and posted them online. By chance, we caught the eye of an editor at a small comic book publisher, N.D. comics . . . It stands for Next Decade. They contracted with us for a one-shot issue. It did well and they contracted us for five more. Up until that point, N.D. was only dealing in single issues but really wanted to break into the mainstream with graphic novels. Golems was their biggest seller, so Hunter and I got the call.

We have two books published and just finished work on a third. We even brought my cousin Samantha onto the team as an additional colourist . . . I don’t think so. I can certainly write anywhere. In fact, while Hunter and I are in Orlando, Sam is in Cincinnati, Ohio, so we already collaborate from a distance. Also, imagine the storylines that might be inspired from living in an underwater city . . . Once again, Nadreall was amazed. The way she describes her home they have a lot of what I would call “high art:” paintings, sculptures, orchestral music, stage plays of an intellectual nature. But they don’t have a lot of the more common entertainment, things to just have fun while passing the time. She’s very eager to hear all about what she calls “Fun Things.”

The Rolls:

(Author’s note: I’ve broken my posts into “weeks” because that is how the game defines each round of card pulls. Now that I’ve played a few rounds, I wish I had just referred to each post as a “Confessional.” Turns that only contain one or two prompts don’t necessarily give enough information to describe all that would reasonably occur in a real-time week on one of these shows. This post, for instance, while still being its own confessional, could have easily occurred during the previous week’s events (for example, Nadre and Darin could have discussed this during one-on-one time at the pool party, or on a group date that wasn’t described as part of the previous week’s post.) But in the end, this is just a game and I am overthinking it.)

Draw: 1 Card

Three of Spades: Did you have a job before this? Did you abandon a lifelong career? Or leave a job you hated?

Token Roll: 1


This week started off with a promotional, on-location shoot for the show.  They went all out. High-priced suits. Professional styling. We even had make-up. That was a first for me.

While I was still in the stylist’s chair, Nadreall stopped by.  I could see Freddy and Geraldo showing off and heard Nardreall compliment them on their suits. I think she said they “cleaned up well.” <chuckle> If I wanted to be obnoxious I could have called out, “Hey, I’m over here. Come talk to me,” but that’s not me. Unfortunately, she left before the stylist was done and I didn’t get a chance to speak with her . . . Of course, I was disappointed. I would have liked it if she came over to see me. It really ticks me off that someone as vain as Freddy, who is really only here for himself, seems to get most of the Princess’ attention. Sometime’s I wonder what is she’s thinking. Surely she can see what the rest of us are seeing.

[Image: lpUlbL6lYfDoWscfPuxWF_gNcHi49C28fWrXe7i0...UZmQ=w2400]
Eddie, Geraldo, and Freddy at the shoot

. . . Yes, I did get another one-on-one date this week. Another meal date, if you can believe that. Y’know, I wonder it was a test to see if I learned anything from the first time. <laugh> So, we arrived at the restaurant and, surprise, my parents and brother were there. I was glad to see Hunter, but I was a bit nervous about my parents. I love them a lot, but they’re not the most socially graceful people you might meet, if you know what I mean. Turns out I was right to be concerned. Mom was very complimentary toward the Princess but rather clueless. “Your skin is an interesting shade of blue. Is that natural?” Or, “It must take you a long time to put on all those scales.” She thought they were some kind of body art . . . Why? Your guess is as good as mine. But she wasn’t anywhere near as embarrassing as my Dad. He wanted to assure Nadre that she would be accepted by the family. I know he meant well, but he used all the wrong words . . . Well, for starters, he kept saying “your kind.” “We’re very excited to meet you and learn all about your kind.” “I know there are a lot of people suspicious of your kind, but that’s not us. We love everyone.” . . . Oh, it got worse. They dragged me into it. “Darin has never been prejudiced. He had all kinds of friends growing up. Black. Jewish. Hispanic.” I wished he would just stop.

But then, at the risk of our parents thinking he was being rude, my brother stepped in. Hunter took over the conversation and started telling the Princess all these great things about me. He said it was my stories that gave his artwork meaning, that I inspired him to be more creative and expressive with his art. He gave me most of the credit for coming up with the idea for the comic, which was a lie. He had as much to do with creating Golems as I did. He couldn’t say enough about how generous and loving I was and that she would have a hard time finding another person as loyal as me. It was actually a bit funny. Anytime my parents said more than a sentence or two, Hunter would jump in before they had a chance to say something stupid. I think he was protecting all of us. Before they left I thanked him. In fact, he held Nadre’s attention for so much of the meal I joked that I hoped she didn’t start falling for him.

Afterward, Nadre and I shared a drink at the bar. Surprisingly, she was very understanding about the whole situation and was able to look past my parent's awkwardness. Actually, it’s not that surprising. She is a very forgiving person. I would’ve expected nothing less from her. We talked about this whole experience. What we’ve learned and what our hopes were going forward. I admitted that I had feelings for her and . . . and yes, we kissed. What at first looked like it might be a disaster turned into the best date so far.

Which made the Balloon Ceremony all that more confusing.  Fourteen balloons popped! That’s Crazy!  Are the viewers watching the same show? Especially when guys like Matt J, who hasn’t had a one-on-one, Wayne who seems bored with the entire process, and Freddy who is . . . well, Freddy each had less than five balloons popped? I’m not saying I’m the best man here, but I’m certainly better than those guys. Certainly Nadre can see that even if the viewers can’t. It would be nice to figure out why I'm being rated so low in case I can do something about it. Otherwise, I’m just wasting my time here . . . Sorry, I don’t mean to unload on you. It’s just . . . I’ve never been in a situation like this or had to prove myself against so many other guys. I'm sure you hear that a lot. It’s very tiring. I’m just hoping she seeing enough in me to override the audience, just in case they pop all my balloons.

The Show:

<A lot happened during the filming this week’s show and the director had plenty of footage to sort through. In the end, he chose to focus on many of the other contestants instead of Darin.  What does make it in the show, unfortunately, isn’t edited in Darin’s favor.>


The photo shoot:  All the men are shown trying on suits and getting prepped by the stylists for the shoot.  Darin is pretty much absent from the sequence until Nadreall appears on set. Then, we see shots of him in the stylist’s chair interspersed with video and audio of his confessional which went like this: “While I was still in the stylist’s chair, Nadreall stopped by . . . I would have liked it if she came over to see me . . . Hey, I’m over here. Come talk to me! . . . She left . . . It really ticks me off . . . What is she’s thinking?”

The dinner: Despite it being Darin’s one-on-one, the show spends significantly more time on Freddy’s storyline. While Darin is on his date, he is preparing a dessert of strawberries and cream to take to Nadreall’s room when she returns, hoping to sneak in some extra alone time. What little is shown of Darin’s date consists primarily of their drive to the restaurant, Darin being surprised by his family, and some of the safer conversations with the parents. The majority of the footage, however, is spent on Hunter’s conversation with the Princess along with Darin’s commentary: “Hunter took over the conversation and started telling the Princess all these great things . . . He had as much to do with creating Golems as I did . . . which was a lie . . . Anytime my parents said more than a sentence . . . Hunter would jump in . . . I wished he would just stop . . . he was being rude . . . he had Nadre’s attention for so much of the meal . . . I hoped she didn’t start falling for him.”

The Balloon Ceremony: As balloons are being popped we see Darin’s confessional and hear his voice-over: “Fourteen balloons popped! That’s Crazy!  Are the viewers watching the same show? . . .  I’m the best man here . . .  Better than those guys . . . Certainly, Nadre can see that . . . Otherwise, I’m just wasting my time here.”

<Author’s note: Yes, I know. I know. The time-space continuum has been broken several times, especially this week. One reason is simply the game rules. The popping of the balloons represents the opinions of the viewers and their ability to vote off bachelors they do not like. However, that assumes they are watching the show practically in real-time, complete with all the editing. This is obviously not how these shows work. They are aired weeks, possibly months, after their filming. So revealing the viewer's voting for that week's events at the end of each show simply doesn’t make sense.

The second breaking of the continuum is due to my interpretation of the prompts, in particular, this week’s prompt that indicated that my character was cast as the villain. I decided to represent that by showing the contrast between what actually happened and what was said with how that can be altered to tell a story that is less forgiving or the complete opposite of real events. This, of course, also included the Balloon Ceremony, the editing of which is supposed to have affected the votes that are being revealed at the same time. Impossible, I know. But it was fun to write and, at least in this game, fun trumps reality.>

The Rolls:

Draw: 4 cards

Eight of Clubs: You were brought in for a promo shoot with the remaining contestants. Everyone is given professional treatment to look their best. The Heir sees this and compliments several contestants, but now you. How do you feel about this?

Seven of Hearts: The Heir takes you out to a nice restaurant. When you arrive, you discover your immediate family was also invited. How does the rest of the meal go? Roll for balloons. 6 23 balloons left.

King of Clubs: This episode casts you as the villain. No matter what you did, it was portrayed poorly and the audience responded in kind.

Roll twice for balloons.  (5+2=7  16 balloons left)  Do not discard this card. Set it aside. If this is the final King drawn of the four Kings, the Network has stepped in to remove you as a contestant. The game is over.

Jack of Clubs: Unfortunately, the director thought other contestants were more entertaining this episode. You go largely unnoticed and make barely any appearances. Roll for balloons. 1  15 balloons left

Token Roll: 4


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