I had about a mile left to swim. It'd been tough - I certainly wasn't prepared for the whole ordeal, but beyond the exhaustion, beyond the aches, I knew I could do it.
There were about a half-dozen of us still swimming - the chase boats had picked up about a full dozen. The shore was in sight. I could do it. I could push through.
It'd been a hell of a month. While everything had started out normally, it quickly progressed to some crazy tasks. I'd run a half-marathon, I'd touched Big Ben (the actual bell), I'd climbed cliffs, parachuted, and built a computer from scratch. All of it to win.
Maybe a thousand of us had showed up to the first gathering, numbers dwindling with every task. You never had more than a day to complete them - except for the first day, most of the time there were only one or two tasks assigned. It was grueling, but we all wanted a shot at the million, and I was so close.
I wasn't too far now - I just needed to push through this little bit, then I could rest on a ferry or on the chunnel train back. I pushed, I strained, I crawled up on the beach feeling like a balloon animal full of water.
Exhausted, panting, I lay in the sand, figuring I might as well wait for the others. Only five showed. We headed back together. Naps, meals, and camaraderie were the order of the day - despite the competition, we were a friendly sort. Sure there had been people in the beginning who got ahead through sabotage, but they got left behind when they needed help with a task. Now it was us brave six headed back to the stadium for the next task.
We arrived and were greeted by the sight of another fifteen or so folks who hadn't done the swim. Confused, I took my place nonetheless.
The lights dimmed. The announcer walked up to the podium. He cleared his throat. He named the six swimmers.
"I'm sorry to inform you that you've been eliminated - I never said 'Simon says'."