* * *
The chili cook-off was bigger than ever -- it took the whole convention center this time.
[Footnote -- the Seacouver Convention Center is one of those unexplained phenomenon that defies all logic. Technically, it is a fifty-acre complex that supposedly sits in one place, and yet it is seen in the background of television shoots that supposedly take place in such distant locations as California and Washington D.C. Nobody as yet can explain this, but when they can, scientists hope that it might explain some puzzling questions in quantum physics.]
Methos sighed, taking in the smells. "Mmmm . . . beer . . . "
Duncan was impatient. "Yes, yes -- we'll get beer soon enough." His eyes widened. "Oh! Look! It's the booth with 'Martha's Red Light Chili!'"
"Doesn't the pile of dead bodies suggest anything?"
"They're a bunch of sissies who can't stand anything hotter than mild tomato sauce?"
That's when they both felt the presence of a new immortal who quickly stuck his face in their own faces. A snotty brat. No . . . that was just the 'Wild Bill Buffalo Shot' doing its work. That meant he was just a brat. He wiped the sweat out of his eyes and sneered, "I'm Quint, and you're stepping on my turf -- I'm going to chop your heads off!"
Duncan shook his head. "You're making a big mistake."
"Oh yeah? Wait till I cram this sword up your ass!"
"You do that and I'll -- !"
Methos intervened. "Hold it, you two. I have the perfect way to settle this!"
They both looked at him. "Huh?"
"You want to prove your manhood? Walk the gauntlet!"
"What are you talking about?"
Methos smiled wickedly as he grandly gestured at the narrow row of booths marked by a trail of moaning and smoldering bodies and corpses. Hell's Gateway.
Their faces paled.
* * *
Duncan was swearing in Esperanto while Methos sat him down. "What were you thinking? Just a little sword fight and I'm on my way. Instead, you have to get me into this!"
"What's the matter? I thought you liked chili?"
"This isn't chili! It's death in a red sauce!"
"Come on, you pansy! What am I going to tell Amanda?"
Duncan's face paled. "You do that and I'll never hear the end of it!"
Just then the announcer yelled out, "In this corner, wearing the fake leather trenchcoat -- "
Duncan snarled. "I'll show you fake leather!"
Methos shushed him.
The announcer continued, " -- is Duncan MacLeod!" The crowd laughed their asses off. "In the other corner is our undisputed champion and the sole-surviving discoverer of 'Ass Blasting Rocket Sauce' . . . Iron Gut Quint!" The crowd roared.
Duncan muttered, "Thanks folks."
Methos snickered. "Just wait."
The announcer brought out the bowls from the first booth. "In our first round, from Gilbert, Arizona . . . 'John's Intestine Wanker!'"
Quint took an experimental bite, then another larger one. "Mmm . . . A sharp hint of jalapeno mixed with the right balance of tomatoes and salt."
Duncan took a bite and nearly spit it out as the burn took him. Fighting to keep his face blamk, but unable to stop the waterfall flooding out of his skin, he managed to croak weakly, "Not bad."
* * *
[Three booths later -- thirty to go]
Methos was whispering weakly in Duncan's ear. "Tag me, for the love of God! You can't go on like this!"
Duncan was red-faced, breathing heavily to cool the fire on his tongue, and had nearly collapsed in a pool of his own spilled beer. It was only by his loss of motor control that his hand fell on the table, making a large slap.
The announcer yelled in excitement, "It looks like Duncan's tagged his teammate in while he's leaving the ring and going straight to the infirmary!"
The crowd laughed their asses off once more (many were turning blue and collapsing from the continual oxygen deprivation) but became deathly silent as Methos spoke. "I call flea market!"
The death screams of a mute man could have been heard; then the announcer spoke. "Methos has called the flea market round. What are his choices . . . Donna!"
Donna (a tattooed biker) held up two bottles of hot sauce. "We have two sauces -- both made in Arizona and heavily sold in a Flagstaff bar called Porky's -- 'Go To Hell' and 'Spontaneous Combustion.'"
Several ladies in the crowd fainted.
The brat's face paled (even more than it had in the last half-hour) as Methos made his choice. "Spontaneous Combustion."
Several bald deer hunters screamed and knocked over people as they fled from the mere mention of the name (two of the people being the harmonica player who was doing the minor key background music and his neighbor who was doing the whistling).
"Sure," Quint stuttered.
The announcer described to the audience exactly what these two men would be doing to themselves. "Spontaneous Combustion is the flea market sauce of flea market sauces. Made almost exclusively of habanero and capiscum extract, with a token hint of other assorted chilis and salt. Why, it even has a warning label: do not use in food products for any reason!"
It was the moment of truth. Methos and Quint both put a drop of this stuff on their fingers, then applied it directly to their tongues. Several ladies screamed, averting their eyes.
Both Methos and Quint stared at each other, their eyes bulging and a red blush creeping over their faces. They were sweating enough to give someone else a shower and their breathing could have powered the whole Riverside County wind power array.
Finally Quint shrieked, "It's too much!" He reached for the milk, which supposedly cured all spice overindulgence.
Everyone screamed, mobbing Methos as he was declared the new winner.
Quint's scream overpowered even the collective voice of the mob. "Who the hell gave me fat-free milk?!!" One might have pitied the brat as he tried in vain to find something other than beer.
Methos' smile was evil. "Got 2 percent?"
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