- Jul 14, 2005
I picked up a small paperback from my school library around 1980. The story dealt with a teenage boy who volunteered (against his parents wishes) for a great walking competition. The grand prize was a huge amount of money and a wish.It was a nationally televised event run by an infamous army colonel who was legally bound to grant the wish. Once the race got under way, the walkers were followed by the colonel in a tank and a squad of soldiers. Any participant not keeping the pace would be shot dead. The teenager's main competition came from another boy who turned out to be the bastard son of the colonel. The bastard's greatest wish in life was for the colonel to acknowledge his paternity. The main teenager made friends and watched as they all succumbed, one by one, to the exhausting pace, lack of food, the need to defecate, and the inexorable bullets. The teen and the bastard were the final two left. And while the teen wanted the bastard to get his wish, he found his desire to survive was greater than his affinity for his new friend. When the bastard could go no further and he asked his father for mercy, the colonel shot him. The teen won, but lost his sanity.