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Two jet black Harley Davidson motorcycles tore down the highway, their engines roaring as the drivers wove in and out of the sparse traffic. Here in the heartland of the United States there was very little reason to be cautious about speed; to them there was only the stretch of road ahead and the three months they had left to travel it. It had been two months since they had started their journey but they were determined to make the most of every moment.
Today their agenda included a small town off the highway and a very strange alcohol challenge, Chuck's Chilli Chuckout, which conveniently took place at Chuck's Chilli Shack. It involved downing a very large quantity of a specially brewed house beverage, Chilli beer, a challenge which according to their research had yet to be completed. Until today. It had been said that to complete it would render one either seriously ill or dead, something which didn't worry you too much when you only had three months to live due to terminal cancer anyway.
As they passed the last bit of traffic and the highway cleared up ahead of them, the two riders pulled up alongside each other. "Wilson, can we pull over soon, my leg is killing me!"
"We've only got about ten minutes left, can't you wait for your next fix? Besides, it’s not as if you haven't devised some clever way of taking pills while driving!"
"Of course I have, but it doesn't work when the pills are in my backpack!"
Wilson sighed, "House, we have spent the past 20 or so years of our friendship doing what you want. Now we do what I want, and we aren't stopping till we get there!"
"Shut it, or I'll stop prescribing the pills for you!"
House was uncharacteristically quiet after that, usually he could push Wilson's buttons for ages. After all, Wilson needed to be needed, but then, usually he didn't have malignant cancer. That was one thing in life that House had learned: dying changes everything. Take Wilson for example. Usually he was a boy scout; helping others across the road; loaning out five grand for motorbikes. But since he had found out he was terminally ill he had bought a brand new car and had self indulged in every way possible. He still helped old ladies cross the road though, he hadn't changed completely.
The next ten minutes passed with nothing said between them, the roar of the engines the only noise as they rushed to their destination, both determined to beat the Chuckout.
Arriving in towns like this one was always strange, they always turned out to be the same. A small, out of the way place, not much bigger than a village, that tried to get themselves on the map somehow. This place, Trentville, was no different. It was small, quiet, and most of all boring. The only exciting thing that seemed to happen here was the Chuckout. Not that House or Wilson cared, they were only here to get drunk and become the world's first pair to beat the stupid challenge.
Despite the heat there were quite a lot of people out and about in the center of town, strange for such a small place. Then again, with the only pubs and shops for miles around, downtown Trentville was probably one of the only places you could go on a day like this. Beautiful and sunny, not a day you’d want to be cooped up indoors, not without a big tall and frosty in your hand.
As they parked their bikes in two free spaces, they began to walk to Chuck's, the pub which had signs posted all over this area. On their way they passed two elderly woman sitting on a bench who paused their gossiping to giggle at the two of them as they passed.
"Look, Cindy, another two young folk who think they can take on the Chuckout."
"Hehe, they have no chance. I mean, look at them! They're so skinny I doubt they can even hold their liquor. And besides, no one who wants to see another day could drink that much."
House, never one to refuse a challenge, quickly replied. "Good thing we're already dead. Well, I am legally and my friend here will be joining me soon."
"House, I don't think telling everyone about you tricking the police is going to do us any favours."
"What, these 'lovely' ladies? They’re as likely as to call the police as MJ is to let go of Peter Parker, and I ain't talking about spiderman here."
"Excuse me, did you just insult us?" asked Cindy.
"No no, of course not, excuse my friend here, ladies, he's a little on the childish side," stammered Wilson, desperate to not cause any trouble.
"Well, we'll let your friend off the hook this time, but only because he's so gorgeous," said the other woman with a swoon.
At this remark House smiled brightly, but before he could say anything Wilson dragged him off.
"Good day ladies." The women chuckled.
"What a strange couple."
"I know, must not be getting enough action in bed."
"What's the matter with you, can't you hold your tongue for just one minute? And, then again, look who I'm talking to. The world’s biggest ten year old."
"What's the big deal, not as if they understood the metaphor!"
"That's not the point, the deal is you can't even wait until you're drunk to start a fight like any normal person."
"Normal's boring, normal people accept prison sentences and don't fake their own death to spend five months with their only friend. Is that what you would of wanted?"
"See, no problem."
"Of course there's a problem, you wouldn't even need to fake your own death if it wasn't for some childish prank against the hospital!" Wilson held his head in his hands.
"Look, can you please, just for now, act a little more civil? I promise you can act as childish as you want when you’re completely intoxicated." Wilson looked at House, expecting some sort of comeback, but instead House just turned and entered the bar.
The pub was packed near bursting as they entered. It looked like people regularly tried the Chuckout and others made a sport of knocking back a safer drink while watching. Wading their way through the crowd of pleasant and not quite so pleasant, they found a small table at the far end away from the door.
"Another round of applause please to, Paul, the 1031st person to fail the Chuckout!" A large round of applause filled the air, followed by the sound of retching.
"Nice..." said Wilson rather sarcastically. "Tell me again why I wanted to do this?"
"Don't chicken out on me now Wilson, just think about it, in three months time you'll be gone but your name shall live on forever on a grimy pub wall as one the first people to finish the Chuckout."
"One of the first?"
"I'm going to complete it as well, naturally."
Before Wilson could ask him how, as an already perpetually high person, he could survive the intoxication, a bar maid walked over to their table.
"Howdy, how can Chuck's Chilli Shack be of service to you today?" For a second House looked at Wilson expectantly, however when it became clear Wilson was afraid to speak, it was up to him to order.
"We would both like to try the Chuckout please," he said rather politely. "And before you ask, yes we have a death wish, and yes we know it costs $300 each unless we finish."
The waitress stood silent, shocked by the minor verbal assault. Momentarily she came to her senses enough to speak.
"Right then." She turned towards the bar, "Roy, rack ‘em up, we've got another couple of people here for the Chuckout!"
A rather large ox of a man, most likely Roy, stood up in front of a large, sturdy wooden table.
"Alright ladies and gentlemen, it seems we have some more entertainment already, and a twofer at that! Would the two people attempting the Chuckout please come up to the table here? That way we can all get a look at you during the challenge."
House and Wilson stood up from their table to a large round of applause, it looked like whole pub was behind them. Either these folks were some of the jolliest people around, or they really wanted to see the record beat. Or, what seemed more likely to House's mind, they just really wanted to see people get drunk off their face and throw up. Not that it mattered much, cheering was cheering and if it made sure Wilson was willing to compete, all the better.
When they got to the table, Roy motioned for them to sit in two chairs, one either side of him. He placed his hands on their shoulders, one on each of them, and asked them loudly so the crowd could hear. "So what are your names then?"
House was the first to respond, "House," he said in a cheery voice.
"Alright then, on the left here we have House, and on the right?"
"Wilson," Wilson answered, far more nervously.
"Right, Wilson, and, House. The rules are simple, you have 20 minutes to drink 10 pints of beer. Now before you say it's simple or that you could do it in your sleep, let me warn you, this is no ordinary beer. This is Chuck's Chilli Shack's very own Chilli Chuckout Brew, it's specially brewed with a mixture of spices and chilli to be the bitterest and hottest beer you have ever drunk. So are you ready?!"
As he asked both House and Wilson nodded, the first pint mugs were placed in front of each of them and Roy smiled. "Let the games begin!"
The next twenty minutes were spent in a mixture of agony as they gagged down as many pints of the stuff they could, and elation as they soaked in the applause and support from the crowd. By minute fifteen House was defeated, he had managed to get 7 pints down, but with the high from his Viconin he was stating to see spots and his vision and speech were both being seriously affected. Wilson on the other hand, was still in a drinking frenzy, his eighth pint raised to his lips. He was slowly pouring it into his mouth; this task was completed with difficulty because the alcohol was now making it harder and harder to hold the glass straight.
As minute nineteen approached, Wilson was on his last glass, glass nine had just been finished and with a minute to go it looked like he might just succeed. "Go on, Wilshon!!" cried House, giving as much support as he could. With two trembling hands, Wilson gripped the mug and without restraint raised it to his mouth, pouring the liquid down his throat as fast as he could. In between stopping to breath and gagging, he reached ten seconds left with only a small amount of liquid left in the mug.
"Ten, Nine, Eight..." The crowd started counting and Wilson looked around nervously, he was so close yet he couldn't bring himself to do it. He felt a hand clutch his shoulder and could smell the beer on House's breath as he leaned in close.
"Don' gif up noi Wilshon, Eu can do eet!" That was all he needed, the warming, if slurred, support of his best friend. With a mammoth effort he raised the glass to his lips one final time, almost inhaling the liquid as he poured it into his mouth. Just as the crowd shouted “one”, he slammed the glass down on the table, the room filled up with a roar of applause and cheering. He had done it, he was the first person ever to complete the Chuckout challenge. He gazed over at House, his best friend who had supported him even after his own attempt had failed. It was times like these he appreciated his company, that made all his taunting and pranks worth it.
Wilson gave House a smile, a warm drunken smile in gratitude for his efforts as a friend, and then promptly vomited all over him.