FANDOM


After the big success of Ridonculous Race, Chris is back on Pahkitew Island with an all new cast. This season Chris has a plan and that plan is to create a cast that is torn down the middle in terms of popularity. Sure, it's cliché but it just might bring in more viewers. With the help of Chef and two interesting interns, Chris is determined to put RR to shame. The high school atmosphere may seem overwhelming to some of the contestants, but they know it's not really high school. It's a summer camp. A summer camp with a prize of one million dollars!

Ctd logo

Characters

Staff

Chris McLean - Host

Chef - Co-Host

Digit - Intern

Brad - Intern

Contestants

Ally - The Darling

Bree - The Flirt

Britney - The Blonde

Casey - The Journalist

Clifford - The Jock

Dominic - The Jokester

Floyd - The Bad Boy

Garret - The Shy Twin

Gavin - The Social Twin

Jared - The Poetic Soul

Jesse - The Boy Next Door

Lyla - The Songwriter

Natalia - The Queen Bee

Peter - The Actor

Quinn - The Handicapped Cynic

Ramona - The Fairy Godmother

Veronica - The Snitch

Violet - The Thug

Wendy - The Clutz

Will - The Cheetah

Chapters

Chapter 1: Our Very First Episode

It was a bright and sunny day on Pahkitew Island. Chris McLean stood on the dock with his co-host Chef and two interns. The interns looked like they were in their twenties. One intern was a boy and the other was a girl.

“Hello viewers!” Chris said while looking at the camera. “It’s me, Chris McLean and I’m here to welcome you to our newest, most dramatic season of Total Drama yet.”

“Don’t you say that about every season?” Chef asked.

“Probably.” Chris answered. “This season we’re back at Pahkitew Island with 20 new campers. Hopefully none of them try to blow the island up this time.”

“Hopefully.” Chef agreed.

“This season the teams are also being made a little different.” Chris said. “The teams have already been predetermined and based on the contestants’ levels of popularity. One team will consist of the tip of the social pyramid and the other will consist of the rock bottom.”

“Don’t you think that’s a little cliche?” The girl asked.

“What does cliche mean?” The boy asked.

“Shut up, Brad.” The girl said.

“You shut up, Digit!” Brad snapped back.

“You’re both lucky the network is only giving me two interns this season.” Chris said. “Or I’d put both of you on shark feeding duty.”

“That’s a duty?” Brad asked.

“I’ll make it a duty.” Chris threatened.

Brad and Digit’s eyes both widened.

“That’s better.” Chris said. “Oh look, here comes our contestants now.”

Chris was looking at a boat that was stopping at a nearby dock on the island. He walked over to the boat, followed by his sidekick and his interns.

“Is that one of the contestants?” Brad asked as a figure emerged from the boat.

“No, Brad. That’s the President.” Digit said sarcastically.

“Really?” Brad asked in awe.

“Can we please put him on shark feeding duty?” Digit asked.

“Not yet.” Chef said.

“That is our first contestant.” Chris said. “Lady and gentlemen, give it up for… Ally!”

Ally’s pink dress and curly hair bounced as she skipped off the boat.

“Hi!” Ally waved. Her smile practically radiated positive energy.

“She doesn’t look like the President.” Brad whispered to Digit. “But she does look real pretty.”

Digit rolled her eyes.

“I’m really excited to be here.” Ally said.

“We’re excited to have you here, Ally.” Chris said.

“Really?” Ally asked.

“Yeah, sure.” Chris shrugged.

“Wow. That sounded sincere.” Digit said sarcastically.

“I will put you on shark feeding duty.” Chris threatened. “I will do it.”

“Is that another contestant?” Brad asked as another figure exited the boat.

“That is our second contestant… Bree!” Chris said.

Bree stepped off of the boat and scanned her surroundings. She then tightened her ponytail and adjusted the skirt on her blue cheerleading uniform.

“Where are all the others?” Bree asked.

“In the boat you just exited.” Chris said. “Oh, and right here.” He pointed at Ally.

Bree took a good look at Ally. Ally fidgeted uncomfortably under the cheerleader’s gaze.

“So far, so good.” Bree said with a smirk upon finishing her examination.

Ally’s cheeks turned red and she started to giggle as Bree continued walking down the dock.

“And here’s our next contestant…” Chris said as someone else stepped off the boat. “Jesse!”

Jesse walked off the boat with his hands in his pockets and a smile on his face. There seemed to be a certain calmness to him.

“Hey,” Jesse waved to the two girls.

Bree smiled and waved back, but yawned once Jesse wasn’t looking at her anymore.

Ally, on the other hand, happily greeted the newcomer. “Hello! I’m so sorry, but I think I missed your name.”

“Jesse.” He said with a friendly smile.

“Don’t miss our next contestant…” Chris said. “Lyla!”

Lyla swung a guitar case over her shoulder before walking off the boat. Her gray cardigan blew gently in the breeze.

“Cute sweater.” Bree said.

“Thanks.” Lyla said.

“Technically, it’s a cardigan.” Ally said.

“Cardigan is still a form of sweater.” Bree said.

“That is true.” Ally said. “But…”

“So, you play guitar?” Jesse asked Lyla, as the other two girls continued their debate of various sweaters.

“No.” Lyla slung her guitar case over her other shoulder. “This is just for decoration.”

“It’s a nice decoration.” Jesse said. “You really had me fooled.”

“Thanks.” Lyla gave Jesse a half-smile.

“Here comes our next contestant…” Chris said. “Britney!”

Britney spun around in circles while exiting the boat, trying to look at the whole island at once. She stopped in front of the contestants and brushed her blonde hair out of her face.

“Now we’re talking.” Bree smirked.

“Is this Paul-kite-chew Island?” Britney asked.

“Never mind.” Bree said.

“Close enough, Britney.” Chris said.

“Wasn’t there already a dumb blonde on this show?” Digit asked.

“She was a fan favorite.” Chris said.

“So, you got another one?” Digit asked.

“If you have a problem with the cast then you can go chill with the sharks.” Brad said.

“Thank you, Brad.” Chris said.

Brad smirked while Digit glared at him.

“Kiss up.” Digit muttered.

“And here’s our next contestant…” Chris said. “Peter!”

Peter stepped off the boat. He wore a t-shirt that read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

“Shakespeare?” Ally asked, pointing to his shirt.

“Yeah.” Peter said.

“Who’s shaking a spear?” Britney asked.

“This is going to be a long summer.” Lyla muttered while Bree laughed.

“Alright, blondie,” Bree said. “You can’t seriously be that dumb.”

“Who?” Britney asked. “Me?”

“Yes, you.” Bree said. “You know what, just stick with me. I’ll make sure you don’t get yourself killed or something.”

“Okay.” Britney said while absentmindedly braiding her hair.

“The cheerleader and the pretty blonde.” Lyla whispered to Jesse. “Surprise, surprise.”

“What do you mean?” Jesse whispered back.

“Well…” Lyla began. “Never mind. You seem smart, you’ll figure it out later.”

“Here comes our next contestant…” Chris said. “Jared!”

Jared walked off the boat and scanned the other contestants.

“Shakespeare?” Jared asked, pointing at Peter’s shirt.

“Yeah.” Peter said again.

Bree raised an eyebrow. “You read Shakespeare?”

Jared looked down. “No.”

“I’m not trying to be mean, you just don’t look like the type of guy that reads Shakespeare.” Bree said.

“It is a popular play.” Peter said, trying to help.

“I’ve never heard of it.” Britney said.

“It’s not the greatest play Shakespeare wrote.” Ally added.

“It’s not phenomenal, but it’s still good.” Peter said. “There’s a happy ending.”

“The ending was awful.” Jared said.

“Awful, yet happy.” Peter said.

“For someone who claims they don’t read Shakespeare, you seem to know a lot about Shakespeare.” Lyla said.

“No, I don’t.” Jared said.

“Whatever you say.” Lyla shrugged.

“And here comes our next contestant…” Chris said. “Ramona!”

Ramona smiled as she stepped off the bus. She absentmindedly ran her thumb over a faded tattoo of a fairy on her arm.

“Wow, you’re cute.” Bree gushed. She quickly shook her head. “I mean that’s a cute tattoo.”

“Thanks.” Ramona said. “My little sister gave it to me before I left for good luck. Of course, it’s only temporary.”

“That’s sweet.” Bree blushed.

“Update,” Lyla whispered to Jesse. “I may have been wrong about the cheerleader and the blonde.”

“Update,” Jesse whispered back. “I still don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You will.” Lyla said.

“Here’s our next contestants…” Chris said. “Garret and Gavin!”

“Wow, we’re doubling up on introductions already?” Digit asked sarcastically.

“They’re twins.” Chris said.

“That’s original.” Digit said sarcastically.

“Are you trying to be put on shark feeding duty?” Brad asked.

“Why do you care?” Digit asked.

Someone cleared their throat. Chris and the interns turned around and saw the twins. They looked the same but dressed very differently.

“Sorry, are we interrupting something?” Gavin, the one who had cleared his throat, asked. Garret stood behind Gavin and scanned the group of contestants nervously.

“Not much, just your own introduction.” Digit said.

“And now someone else’s.” Chris said. “Here’s our next contestant… Will!”

“Seriously?” Gavin asked.

“I’m okay with it.” Garret said. He was still hiding behind his brother.

Will ran off the boat and skidded to a stop on the dock.

Gavin looked at Will and raised an eyebrow. “I think I’m okay with it too.” He whispered to Garret.

“Calm down, it’s the first day.” Garret whispered back.

Will didn’t notice the two of them as he scanned the other contestants.

“Why are you in such a rush?” Jared asked.

“No reason, I just like running.” Will said. “Is this everyone?”

“You wish.”

Will turned and saw a girl standing next to him. She put her arm on his shoulder.

“Who are you?” Will asked.

“That is our next contestant…” Chris said. “Natalia!”

There was a glimmer of mischief in Natalia’s emerald green eyes. Will happened to be staring directly at them.

“I didn’t catch your name.” Natalia said as she raised an eyebrow at Will.

“I didn’t throw it.” Will said before shrugging her arm off his shoulder and walking away.

Natalia smiled to herself as she moved towards some of the other girls.

“His name is Will.” Bree whispered to Natalia.

“I thought it was Wayne.” Britney said.

“Wasn’t that a movie or something?” Ramona asked.

Ramona and Bree gasped and at the same time they shouted “Wayne’s World!”

“Party time! Excellent!” A boy sang as he walked off the boat. “Sorry, was I not supposed to walk out yet? I heard my name.”

“Your name is Wayne?” Ally asked.

“Sometimes I wish it was, but I’m just joking around.” The boy said with a smile.

“This contestant’s name is not Wayne, it’s…” Chris said. “Dominic!”

Dominic moved next to Ally and smiled at her.

“Don’t you think Wayne would sound cooler though?” Dominic asked.

“I think your name is just fine.” Ally said.

“I personally think that name is stupid.” A girl said from the doorway of the boat.

“Wayne or Dominic?” Dominic asked the new arrival.

The girl shrugged. “Both.”

“Ouch.” Dominic muttered.

“Here’s our next contestant…” Chris said. “Veronica!”

Veronica’s face was devoid of emotion as she walked off the boat and onto the dock.

“That wasn’t very nice.” Ally said.

“Oops.” Veronica shrugged.

“You and I are definitely going to be friends.” Natalia said.

“Are you sure about that?” Veronica asked as she walked over to Natalia.

“Very.” Natalia smiled.

“And here comes our next contestant…” Chris said. “Violet!”

Violet ran off the boat holding a notebook.

“Hey!” A voice from inside the boat shouted. “Give that back!”

“Finders keepers.” Violet smirked.

“You didn’t find it!” The voice shouted. A boy with bright red hair appeared in the doorway. “You stole it from me.”

“Same difference.” Violet said nonchalantly.

“Here’s another contestant…” Chris said. “Casey!”

Casey stomped off the boat and snatched his notebook out of Violet’s hands.

“Whatever.” Violet said before strolling away.

“Of all the things in the world you could take,” Lyla said. “Why take a notebook?”

“Because I can.” Violet shrugged.

“But that’s not very nice.” Ally said.

“Well aren’t you adorable.” Violet said. “You’re gonna learn pretty quickly that my morals are nonexistent.”

“Well aren’t you a ray of sunshine.” Casey said sarcastically.

“I didn’t have to give you your notebook back.” Violet said. “Why are you carrying around a notebook anyway?”

“For your information,” Casey said. “I’m a journalist.”

“Those are still a thing?” Britney asked.

“And here comes our next contestant…” Chris said. “Wendy!”

Wendy ran to the doorway of the boat when she heard her name…

But tripped and landed face first onto the dock.

Most of the contestants laughed.

“Guys, stop it!” Ally said.

“She’s right.” Natalia said while still laughing. “We’re not being very nice.”

This caused everyone to laugh even more.

“Are you okay?” Jared held a hand out for Wendy.

Wendy looked up and immediately blushed. She took Jared’s hand and stood back up.

“I’m fine.” Wendy said quietly while fixing her glasses. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” Jared smiled.

“And here’s our next contestant…” Chris said. “Clifford!”

“Like the dog?” Britney asked excitedly.

“For some odd reason, I feel like they didn’t get Clifford the Big Red Dog to compete on Total Drama.” Natalia said.

“But they could have.” Britney said.

“We didn’t.” Chris said.

Clifford walked off the boat. To Britney’s disappointment, he was a boy, not a dog.

“Hey guys,” Clifford waved. “My name is Clifford.”

“We heard.” Gavin said.

“What a contronym.” Britney whispered.

Garret looked at Britney with a mix of astonishment and fear. He appeared to be the only one who had heard her.

“You didn’t hear anything.” Britney whispered to Garret.

Garret nodded before stepping away from the blonde.

“What sports do you play?” Ramona asked Clifford, referring to the varsity jacket he wore.

“Oh, I play football.” Clifford said.

“That’s original.” Veronica said sarcastically.

“Here comes our next contestant…” Chris said. “Floyd!”

Floyd walked off the boat. He looked like a male love interest that had just walked out of a cliché teen romance novel. Floyd looked around at the other contestants. His eyes stopped on Violet.

“Hello.” Floyd flashed a cocky grin.

Violet yawned. “Try it on someone who’s interested.”

Floyd’s grin vanished. “That hurt.”

“Good.” Violet said.

“And here comes our final contestant…” Chris said as a ramp emerged from the boat, connecting it to the dock.

“How come they get a special ramp?” Dominic asked.

“I’m not sure.” A voice said from inside the boat. “I think I could’ve made the jump.” A girl sitting in a wheelchair appeared in the doorway.

“We don’t entirely doubt that.” Digit said. “But we would’ve had to fill out a lot of paperwork if you didn’t.” She paused and looked at Chris, Chef, and Brad. “And by we, I mean me.”

“Quinn!” Chris said, somehow keeping his voice at a cheerful tone while glaring at Digit.

“That’s fair.” Quinn shrugged before wheeling herself down the ramp.

“Now that everyone is accounted for, it’s time to get this game started.” Chris said. “I hope none of you became too close because now we’re splitting you all up!”

“We were kind of expecting that.” Lyla said.

“Isn’t that the whole point of this show?” Peter asked.

“Anyway,” Chris said, clearly annoyed. “Everyone meet at the mess hall in ten minutes so we can assign teams before your first challenge. If anyone gets lost, just ask our two sub-par interns for help.”

“First day and we’re already sub-par?” Brad asked. “Ouch.”

“I can’t believe this actually surprises you.” Digit shook her head.

“Will you two knock it-” Chris was stopped mid-sentence by the sound of his phone ringing in his pocket. “I have to go.” Chris took his phone out of his pocket and began speed walking away. “Mess hall! Ten minutes!”

“That was strange.” Digit said.

“Do you know what’s up, Chef?” Brad asked. There was no response. “Chef?” Brad looked around and saw that Chef had vanished.

“That was stranger.” Digit said.

“Do either one of you actually know what you’re doing?” Violet asked.

“Brad doesn’t, but I do.” Digit said.

“Hey!” Brad protested. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Really?” Digit asked. “Then lead the way to the mess hall.”

“Alright, everyone follow me.” Brad walked off the dock and onto the ground. He looked to his left and then to his right before turning back to the dock. “Which way is it again?”

Digit sighed as she shoved past Brad.

“Alright, everyone follow her.” Brad said, making sure that all of the contestants were following Digit before taking up the rear of the group.

Garret kept his distance from the others as he walked in the back of the cluster.

“So, what brings you here?”

Garret looked down and saw Quinn rolling beside him.

“What?” Garret asked.

“Everyone’s here for a reason.” Quinn said. “Why are you here?”

“My brother.” Garret said.

“Care to elaborate?” Quinn asked.

“He made me sign up with him.” Garret said. “He said that since we were twins we were more likely to get on the show.”

“Hasn’t there already been twins on this show before?” Quinn asked.

“That’s what I said.” Garret said. “But hey, it worked.”

“Fair enough.” Quinn said.

“So why are you here?” Garret asked.

“Not sure.” Quinn said.

“But you said everyone was here for a reason.” Garret said.

“And I’m here for a reason.” Quinn said. “I’m just not sure what it is yet. None of us really do.”

“Oh, so you were talking about fate.” Garret said. “Not why we’re literally here.”

“I guess so.” Quinn said.

“That’s cool.” Garret said. “I guess…”

Meanwhile, Britney and Natalia were walking in the front of the group.

“So, where are you from?” Natalia asked.

“My mom told me not to tell strangers where I live.” Britney said.

“Okay, whatever.” Natalia said. “Have any hobbies?”

“Yeah.” Britney said.

Natalia waited for Britney to elaborate. Britney twirled her hair around her finger absentmindedly and walked ahead of Natalia.

“Nice talking to you, I guess…” Natalia said.

“Look at you, making friends.” Will said sarcastically as he appeared next to Natalia.

“You were walking in the back.” Natalia said. “How did you get up here so fast?”

“I’m fast.” Will said.

“Wow, you’re almost as specific as Britney.” Natalia smirked.

“Huh?” Britney stopped twirling her hair and turned around.

“Nothing, Brit.” Natalia said.

Britney shrugged and continued walking.

“I’m on my school’s track team.” Will said.

“Alright, now we’re getting somewhere.” Natalia said.

“What about you?” Will asked.

“I’m certainly not on my school’s track team, if that’s what you’re asking.” Natalia said.

Will chuckled. “Do you do anything else?”

“I’m my school’s student council president.” Natalia said.

“Really?” Will raised an eyebrow.

“Why so surprised?” Natalia asked as she put her hands on her hips. “Is it because I’m a woman?”

“No, no, not at all.” Will stuttered.

“Good.” Natalia said.

“I just didn’t peg you as the type to be interested in student council.” Will said.

“Those elections are just popularity contestants, which I always win.” Natalia said. “Besides, my fundraisers were amazing.”

“I’m sure they were.” Will smiled.

“If you’re lucky enough to be put on my team,” Natalia said. “I could tell you all about them.”

“I’m already looking forward to it.” Will said as he turned his head.

Will’s eyes met Natalia’s green ones again. She smiled, but there was still a glimmer of trouble in her eyes.

After a brief walk, everyone had reached the mess hall. Brad made his way to the front of the group and joined Digit at the entrance.

“Alright campers, this is the mess hall!” Brad said while excitedly motioning to building behind him.

“I think they figured that out, Brad.” Digit said.

“Anyway,” Brad said while casting a sideways glare at Digit. “This is where you’ll be eating and…” Brad turned to Digit and whispered “What else happens in the mess hall?”

Digit sighed and addressed the contestants herself. “The mess hall is where you’ll be eating, as Brad was surprisingly able to figure out. In the event of some emergency or special circumstances, we may call you to the mess hall for a meeting. To the left of the mess hall you’ll find the bathrooms and the interns’ quarters, which is home to any and all personal files we have of you.”

“And us!” Brad added.

“Yeah, Chris squeezed two beds in there for us in between all the filing cabinets.” Digit said. “Also, to the right of the mess hall you’ll find the confessional. The confessional is an old and smelly porta-potty with a camera taped to the door.”

“You can confess stuff in there!” Brad added.

“That too.” Digit said. “Does anyone have any questions?”

“Where do we sleep?” Veronica asked.

“Funny story actually,” Digit chuckled nervously. “We have no idea.”

The group of campers erupted in protest.

“Everyone please settle down!” Brad shouted. “I’m sure Chris has somewhere nice for you all to sleep.”

“I’m not so sure about that.” Digit whispered to Brad.

“I’m not either, but they were all freaking out.” Brad whispered back.

Suddenly the doors to the mess hall swung open, nearly hitting the two interns, and Chris McLean was standing in the doorway.

“Looks like you all made it.” Chris said. “Everyone inside! Now! Quickly!”

“Something about him seems a little off.” Lyla whispered to Jesse.

“Let’s just do what he says for now.” Jesse replied. “It’s the first day, what’s the worst that could happen?”

***

“What’s the worst that could happen?” Lyla said in the confessional. “Now that he said that, literally anything. He’s so earnest, it’s painful.” She paused as a hint of blush appeared on her cheeks. “But I guess it’s kinda cute.”

***

“I’ve seen enough movies to know,” Jesse now sat in the confessional. “That I really shouldn’t have said that. Especially to the super cool and pretty girl I just met.” He stared off for a moment, but his eyes widened and quickly darted back to the camera. “Not that I like her. I mean, we just met and… Oh no, mom warned me about this.”

***

All of the contestants were sitting at tables in the mess halls. Chris stood in the front with his two interns and Chef was close-by behind the counter.

“Alright, campers!” Chris was talking in a rushed tone with a nervous expression on his face. “I’m hoping my interns have briefed you about everything. Now it’s time to give you teams!”

“Where do we sleep?” Veronica asked again.

“We’ll get to that later!” Chris shouted. He took a deep breath and continued. “As I was saying, teams. If I call your name, stand on the left side of the room with Digit.”

Digit, who was holding a green flag, waved from the left side of the room.

“Ally, Casey, Dominic, Garret, Jesse, Lyla, Peter, Quinn, Violet, and Wendy.” Chris said as the ten contestants got up and walked to the left side of the room. “You will hereby be known as… The Confused Freaks!”

“Why?” Violet asked.

“Because you’re the freaks.” Chris said.

“Great.” Quinn rolled her eyes.

***

“Not again…” Ally muttered in the confessional.

***

“Now if I call your name, stand on the right side of the room with Brad.” Chris said as Brad waved his red flag. “Bree, Britney, Clifford, Floyd, Gavin, Jared, Natalia, Ramona, Veronica, and Will. You will now be known as… The Popular Salmon!”

The remaining ten campers walked to the right side of the room. Floyd and Clifford high-fived. Britney and Will both stayed close to Natalia.

***

“It’s pretty clear that a few of them are already following me.” Natalia sat with her legs crossed and her arms folded in the confessional. “The rest will be following me too by the end of today. And anyone who doesn’t? Well…” Natalia paused to brush a strand of hair out of her face. “They won’t be here tomorrow.”

***

“Your first challenge will also be today.” Chris said.

“You told us the first challenge was tomorrow.” Digit said.

“Well, there’s been a change of plans.” Chris said through clenched teeth. “Meet me outside in five.” Chris ignored everyone’s confused faces and walked out of the mess hall.

“What’s his deal, Chef?” Brad asked.

There was no response.

Brad turned around and saw that Chef had once again disappeared.

“First day and I’m already tired of this BS.” Digit said.

“You and me both.” Violet agreed.

“Oh, come on, guys.” Ally stood in front of the Confused Bears. “This is exciting! We’re a team now!”

Ally was met with uncertain and bored expressions from her teammates. A few of the Popular Salmon laughed at her from the other side of the room.

“Ally’s right.” Dominic smiled at Ally. “We’re a team now.” He looked around at his teammates. “Am I right, Garret?”

The shy twin gave a slight nod.

***

“I’m kinda nervous about being on a different team than Gavin.” Garret said in the confessional. “He’s the only reason I even signed up. Besides, I’m not that good at talking to people.”

***

“What about you, Peter?” Dominic asked.

“I mean, I guess it’s cool that we’re a team.” Peter shrugged. “But the other team is making fun of us right now.”

“The other team can go to hell.” Violet said.

“That’s the spirit!” Ally cheered.

“What do you think…” Dominic trailed off when his eyes landed on Wendy. “Girl who fell?”

“It’s Wendy.” Wendy’s cheeks turned red in embarrassment.

“I’m so sorry.” Dominic said.

“You almost got the team pumped.” Jesse said.

“We still can.” Ally said. “We still have the whole summer to be a team.”

“But we’re not a team.”

The Confused Freaks all turned to look at Quinn.

“A team is more than just a label.” Quinn said. “We have to actually work together. We also don’t have the whole summer to be a team because most of us won’t be here by the end of summer. Haven’t you ever seen one of these shows before?”

“Well, aren’t you a ray of sunshine.” Casey said sarcastically.

“If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t seen one of these shows before.” Ally said. “But I’m still confident that we can make this work.”

“Whatever.” Quinn rolled her eyes and slumped in her wheelchair.

Meanwhile, the Popular Salmon eyed the other team from their corner.

“This summer is gonna be easier than I thought.” Natalia said. “Those losers clearly don’t know what they’re doing.”

“And we do?” Floyd asked.

I know what I’m doing.” Natalia put her hands on her hips. “Stick with me, and you will too.”

“How do we know we can trust you?” Veronica asked.

“Well, Veronica,” A slight smile crept onto Natalia’s lips. “You really don’t. That’s the fun part.”

“So, you’re suggesting that we blindly follow you all summer,” Gavin said. “And hope that you don’t get rid of us.”

“That doesn’t sound fun.” Clifford said.

“Oh, it isn’t fun for you.” Natalia said. “But it’s fun for me.”

Bree and Veronica both raised an eyebrow.

***

“I’m not sure I’m buying what Natalia’s trying to sell, and I know I’m not the only one.” Bree said as she looked down at her nails. “It’s obvious that she’s just going to use us, but I guess I’ll just keep quiet and go along with it.” She paused and looked up at the camera. “For now.”

***

Jared and Will stood towards the back of the group.

“What do you think about this?” Jared whispered to Will.

“I don’t know.” Will replied. “Maybe letting her lead us won’t be such a bad thing.”

***

“Okay, I know letting Natalia lead us could be a very bad thing.” Will said. “I can almost tell she means no good just by looking at her!” Will paused to calm himself down. “If the rest of the team is alright with Natalia taking over, I guess I am too. It’s not like we have anyone better to lead us.”

***

“Most of you seem hesitant, so I’ll make you a deal.” Natalia said.

“How kind.” Gavin said sarcastically.

Natalia ignored him and continued. “After today’s challenge, you guys can decide who you want to lead this team. It’s most likely going to be me, but you all look like you need the extra persuasion.”

“What if we don’t want you to make yourself queen bee on the first day?” Veronica moved so she was standing face to face with Natalia.

“Then try to vote me off.” Natalia crossed her arms and glared at Veronica. “We’ll see how well that works out for you.”

***

“Who does she think she is?” Veronica had her arms cross and was clearly annoyed in the confessional. “She can’t tell me what to do. No one can.” She uncrossed her arms and then glared at the camera. “Not anymore.”

***

Britney and Ramona stood back in the corner of the room.

“Whose side are you on?” Ramona asked Britney.

“What do you mean?” Britney’s head tilted in confusion.

“Well, it’s clear that either Natalia or Veronica are gonna end up being in charge.” Ramona said. “Which one do you want it to be?”

“Can I be in charge?” Britney asked, eyes wide with hope.

Ramona smiled at the blonde, but then cautiously glanced at her other teammates. “Maybe next time, Brit.”

“Then I guess I’ll pick Natalia.” Britney shrugged.

“How come?” Ramona asked as she eyed Natalia suspiciously.

“Well, Natalia clearly wants to lead us because she feels that she has the needed leadership skills to do so.” Britney said all of this faster than Ramona could even comprehend. “Veronica, on the other hand, seems to be challenging Natalia just for the sake of challenging her. If we were to choose Veronica, we would most certainly become something similar to the likes of the Titanic. However, if we choose Natalia, we just might be able to formulate winning gameplay strategies and come out on top.”

Ramona’s jaw was practically on the floor.

“I mean, I guess either one.” Britney nervously twirled one of her blonde locks around her finger. “I don’t know.”

***

“That was a close one.” Britney said while twiddling her thumbs. “I’ll definitely have to be more careful next time. Luckily, I don’t think Ramona noticed anything peculiar about my behavior.”

***

“What. Was. That.” Ramona sat in the confessional with her mouth still agape.

***

Brad and Digit both left their respective sides of the room and met in the middle.

“Things are looking pretty tense.” Brad said.

“They are?” Digit said. “The Confused Freaks are all about sunshine and friendship.”

“Oh, well, the Popular Salmon are already threatening each other.” Brad said. “No physical injuries yet, though.”

“I guess that’s a plus.” Digit said. “Should we tell them to get outside?”

“I guess so.” Brad said.

“Alright then.” Digit grabbed a bullhorn off of a nearby table. “Hey, Freaks! You too, Populars! Get outside!”

“Is Populars a real word?” Clifford asked.

“Now!” Digit shouted into the bullhorn.

The contestants took the hint and made their way outside.

Chris McLean was waiting on the other side of the mess hall doors. Chef stood close behind at a table with lots of paper on it.

“Well, now that introductions are finally over,” Chris said with a wicked grin on his face. “It’s time to get to the interesting stuff. Welcome to your first challenge.”

The contestants’ reactions ranged from excitement to horror.

“Which you will all be able to see in the next episode of our two-part pilot special!” Chris said directly to the camera.

“Since when do we have a two-part special?” Digit asked.

“I’ll see you next time on…” Chris began his famous outro.

“Don’t ignore me, McLean.” Digit glared at him.

“Camp…”

“Seriously dude, we want some answers.” Brad added.

“Total…”

“Chris!” Both the interns shouted.

“Drama!”

Chapter 2: Our Very First Challenge

“Welcome back to Camp Total Drama!” Chris said to the camera. “Normally I’d do a recap of the previous episode, but all of the contestants are standing right in front of me.”

“And interns!” Digit shouted.

“Ah, yes, how could I forget my two interns?” Chris said.

“I mean, you already forgot to tell us about the two-part special.” Brad said.

“That’s-”

“And today’s challenge.” Digit added.

“That’s right, today’s challenge!” Chris exclaimed. “Today’s challenge will be a scavenger hunt!”

A few contestants groaned.

***

“I’m not the best at scavenger hunts.” Wendy said in the confessional. “When I was in elementary school, we had a school-wide scavenger hunt. After the first ten minutes, I got lost, panicked, and then…” Wendy’s face turned red with embarrassment. “I fell into a dumpster by the cafeteria. Don’t ask me how. I was trapped in there all day until a group of first graders found me. The lunch ladies didn’t even notice me when they were throwing the old food out!”

***

“Each of you will be given a list of items that are symbolic to previous seasons.” Chris said. “Whichever team finds the most items will win. The team that loses will have to face the first elimination ceremony.”

“Excuse me,” Ally raised her hand politely. “Where exactly are we supposed to look for these items?”

“All of the items should be hidden in the forest.” Chris said.

All the contestants turned to look at the forest. Thunder and lightning crashed in the distance.

“I’ve got another question for you.” Quinn turned back around. “Is this island still robotic?”

“Yes, this island is 100% unnatural.” Chris said with a smile.

“So, there’s still a bunch of robotic animals running around too?” Natalia asked.

“Of course!” Chris said. “And I can program them to attack you!”

“Great.” Violet said sarcastically.

“Don’t worry, I have a special surprise for all of you after this challenge.” Chris said.

***

“A special surprise? From Chris?” Jared said in the confessional. “That can’t be a good thing.”

***

“Do you have any special surprises for the interns?” Digit asked. “Like an explanation about what’s going on?”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, Darla.” Chris said as Digit glared at him. “Now the rest of you can grab a list from Chef and start looking starting… Now!”

The two teams eyed Chris and the table behind him cautiously.

“I said, now!” Chris shouted.

The teams ran to the table and started grabbing lists. Once everyone had a list, the group broke off into separate team huddles.

“If we split up, we’ll cover more ground.” Natalia said the Popular Salmon. “But the smaller the groups are, the more danger we’re in with the robotic animals.”

“Hey, you’re not in charge yet!” Veronica snapped. “No one has to listen to you.”

“You’re right, they don’t.” Natalia said. “But we need some sort of a plan.”

“We could all look together.” Veronica suggested.

“We would never find enough items. The forest is too big.” Natalia said “Listen to me, we have to split up.”

The Confused Freaks were having a similar conversation.

“Alright, team,” Ally said. “Anyone have any ideas?”

“We can follow the other team around and steal their stuff.” Violet suggested.

“That sounds a little risky.” Jesse said.

“That’s exactly why we should do it.” Violet said. “It’s time to ride on the wild side.”

“That sounds like a corny slogan for some gang.” Quinn said.

***

Violet held her leather jacket close to her chest. “So what if it is?” There was a design on the back of her jacket. It appeared to a pretty flower… engulfed in flames.

***

“Splitting up is probably the easiest way to find more items.” Casey said.

“What about the robots?” Wendy asked.

“If you see one, just act like you’re dead.” Peter said. “I’ve tried it, it works.”

“You’ve encountered a robot before?” Garret asked.

“We could split up into bigger groups.” Ally said. “Just in case we see any of those scary robots.”

“That sounds like a rad plan.” Dominic said.

“Are you gonna talk like you’re in a 70’s movie all summer?” Violet asked.

“I’m considering it.” Dominic said.

“We should probably start heading into the forest.” Ally said. “The other team already left.”

The Confused Freaks all stared at the forest with worried expressions on their faces. None of them were particularly eager to enter the forest.

“You’ve been standing here for five whole minutes.” Chris said. “Get into the forest!”

The Freaks split up and ran into the forest with their lists in hand.

“They were having a moment.” Brad said.

“Now they-” Chris was cut off by his phone ringing.

“Who keeps calling you?” Digit asked.

“That’s classified.” Chris pulled out his phone and walked away.

“Maybe Chef knows what’s up.” Brad said. “Chef? Chef!”

Chef appeared to have suddenly vanished.

“Why does he always do that?” Brad asked.

Meanwhile, Quinn, Casey, Garret, and Peter were searching the forest together.

“What are some of the things on the list?” Quinn asked.

“Don’t you have your own list?” Casey asked.

“Yes, but I’m a little busy wheeling myself through this forest to look at it right now.” Quinn rolled her eyes.

“Right, sorry.” Casey said.

He started to grab the list from his pocket, but Peter had already starting reading off items.

“Here are a few of my personal favorites,” Peter said, holding his list with both hands. “A chicken hat, a Gemmie Award, a pole, a seagull machine gun, and, ooh, an immunity idol!”

“A pole?” Quinn asked. “Is it in the ground or something?”

“It just says a pole.” Garret said.

“Maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll just be lying on the ground.” Casey said.

“I doubt it.” Quinn muttered. Just after she said this, her wheelchair stopped in its tracks. Quinn tried to push her wheels, but they appeared to be stuck.

“Quinn, you just found one of the items!” Casey exclaimed.

“I did?” Quinn asked as she continued to struggle with her wheels.

“You did!” Casey lifted Quinn’s wheelchair from behind while Peter and Garret grabbed the item that was beneath her.

“Can you please warn me the next time you’re gonna pick me up?” Quinn asked as Casey gently placed her wheelchair back onto the ground.

“Yeah, sure, but look!” Casey excitedly pointed at Peter and Garret.

“We found the pole!” Peter swung the pole around, almost hitting a terrified Garret in the face.

“Great.” Quinn said. “Now can you stop swinging it, you’re gonna hit-”

Garret groaned and doubled over after being hit in the stomach with the pole.

Quinn sighed. “Peter, give Garret the pole.”

“Sorry, buddy.” Peter said to Garret as he handed him the pole. Garret immediately grabbed the pole and used it to steady himself.

“One down, a lot more to go.” Casey said as he began pushing Quinn’s wheelchair through the forest.

“Aren’t journalists supposed to be a bit more specific?” Quinn teased.

***

“As a whole, I think my group is pretty good.” Casey said in the confessional. “Sure, Quinn is a bit of a stick in the mud, Peter’s loud and unpredictable, and Garret doesn’t even talk, but as a whole, they’re nice.” He paused and scribbled a few notes into his journal before looking back at the camera. “I’m a journalist. I observe everything.”

***

Ally, Dominic, and Violet were walking together in another part of the forest.

“Isn’t this exciting?” Ally said.

“This is boring.” Violet said.

“What were you expecting?” Dominic asked.

“Explosions, toxic waste, things that are actually dangerous.” Violet said. “Not a scavenger hunt.”

“Toxic waste barrel is an item on the list.” Ally said.

“How thrilling.” Violet rolled her eyes.

Dominic stopped walking and looked at something behind a tree. The two girls kept walking.

“And a chainsaw!” Ally’s eyes widened.

“Is it a working chainsaw?” Violet asked.

“I’m not sure-”

“Hey, Violet!” Dominic called. “Is this dangerous enough for you?”

Dominic slowly backed away from the tree he was standing behind. Ally and Violet walked over and stood at either side of him. The three of them stared at the bear that was crouched over a bush. Its back was to them.

“It’s just a bear.” Violet shrugged.

The bear’s head spun around at an ungodly speed. Its eyes turned bright red.

“What do we do?” Ally whispered.

“I could tell it some jokes.” Dominic suggested.

“That’s a good idea.” Violet said.

“Really?” Dominic asked.

“Yeah, try it.” Violet said.

“Alright,” Dominic took a step forward. “Hey, Mr. Bear, would you like to hear a joke?”

The bear slowly approached Dominic.

“What did the ocean say to the sand?” Dominic asked the bear.

The bear roared in Dominic’s face.

“Come on.” Violet grabbed Ally’s hand and ran off.

***

“Nothing, it just waved.” Dominic sadly finished his joke in the confessional.

***

“What about Dominic?” Ally asked.

“It’s too late for him.” Violet said.

“But-” Ally tripped over a mysterious object.

Violet stopped in her tracks. “Is that what I think it is?”

“It is.” Ally picked up the item with a look of determination on her face.

In another part of the forest, Lyla, Jesse, and Wendy were walking together.

“So, you play the guitar.” Jesse said to Lyla.

“That I do.” Lyla nodded.

“I thought I saw you holding a guitar case!” Wendy exclaimed. “I wasn’t sure at first because my head was still spinning after falling.”

“I almost forgot you fell.” Lyla said.

“I never did get the chance to ask if you were okay.” Jesse said.

“Oh, don’t worry about me.” Wendy said. “I fall a lot.”

“That’s kind of sad.” Lyla said.

“I get lost pretty easily too.” Wendy continued.

“Good thing you got us here to make sure you don’t get lost.” Jesse said.

“I once got lost on a field trip to the zoo and fell into one of the cages.” Wendy said.

“That’s just,” Lyla was at a lost for words. “Wow.”

“Well, there’s probably no animal cages here.” Jesse said.

“What cage did you fall into?” Lyla asked.

“I can’t remember.” Wendy said. “I passed out right after I fell.”

“I guess you pass out easily too?” Jesse asked.

“Only when I hit my head.” Wendy said. “Or get really scared. Sometimes both.”

Jesse, Lyla, and Wendy continued walking in silence for a few minutes. Soon, Wendy spotted something in the distance. She carefully turned and started to walk in the opposite direction. Jesse and Lyla didn’t seem to notice she had left. After a little more walking, Wendy was staring at one of the items hidden in a tree.

“Guys, look!” Wendy turned around and saw that her teammates were gone. “Oh, no…”

A creature of some sort roared in the distance. Wendy also heard the faint sound of machinery starting up.

“Robots!” Wendy shrieked. She tried to run, but tripped over a fallen tree branch…

And tumbled down a steep hill…

And hit her head, knocking herself unconscious.

Jesse and Lyla were still walking together, now much farther away from Wendy.

“Jesse, remember when you said ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’” Lyla asked.

“Yes.” Jesse said. “But so far nothing really bad has happened, so that’s good.”

“Oh yeah? Does that mean you know where Wendy is?” Lyla asked.

Jesse stopped in his tracks.

“Wasn’t she just here?” Jesse asked, his normally calm demeanor replaced with panic.

“She was.” Lyla said. “She must’ve wandered off while we were walking. I didn’t even notice she was gone until now.”

“Okay, this is probably the worst thing that could happen.” Jesse said.

“Don’t freak out.” Lyla gently placed her hand on Jesse’s shoulder. “We’ll just put the scavenger hunt on hold for a bit and find Wendy. We’re gonna find Wendy.”

“What if the robots find her first?” Jesse asked.

“I’m sure Wendy will be fine.” Lyla said. “Chris probably made up all that stuff he said about the robots.”

“Okay, you’re probably right.” Jesse began to calm down. “Thank you.”

“My pleasure, you’re kinda cute when you panic.” Lyla grabbed Jesse’s hand and started leading him back in the direction they came, while Jesse blushed.

Meanwhile, Bree and Ramona were walking through the forest together.

“Do you really think the robots are dangerous?” Ramona asked.

“Honestly, not really.” Bree said. “They’re probably just here to scare us.”

“I hope so.” Ramona said. “What do you think about this whole leader fiasco?”

“I don’t really like either of them.” Bree said. “But if I had to choose one, I think I’d go with Natalia.”

“How come?” Ramona asked.

“She seems like the more stable pick, I guess.” Bree said. “Veronica is too unpredictable.”

“I think they both deserve a fair chance to try.” Ramona said.

“That would be nice, but we’d be at risk of losing way too many challenges.” Bree said.

“I guess you’re right.” Ramona said.

“Forget about all that, what are some things you do at home?” Bree asked.

“Well, I play soccer.” Ramona said. “I would ask what you do, but it seems pretty obvious.”

“Really?” Bree twirled around, showing off her cheerleading uniform. “I thought I was being subtle.”

***

“It’s really nice talking to Bree.” Ramona said in the confessional. “Most of the cheerleaders at my school are pretty stuck-up, but Bree is super easy-going. I really hope neither of us get caught in the cross-fire of this leader war. I’d like some more time to get to know her.”

***

“Get off of me!”

Bree and Ramona both looked at each other and then in the direction that the voice was coming from.

“I don’t know if I want to look.” Bree said.

“We have to at least try to help.” Ramona grabbed Bree’s hand and walked in the direction of the voice.

***

“Ramona is really sweet.” Bree said in the confessional. “I really like talking to her and I want to hang out with her more, but… What if I’m not a good enough person for her? She’s so selfless and nice, and I’m just… me.”

***

Ramona and Bree turned a corner and found Veronica wrestling a squirrel with what appeared to be an old soda bottle. Veronica also appeared to be losing the fight.

“What do we do?” Bree asked.

“Help!” Veronica shouted. “Please!”

The squirrel scratched the bottle out of Veronica’s hands and was now aiming its claws at her face.

“I’ll save you!” Ramona charged at the squirrel and kicked it off of Veronica. The squirrel sailed across the sky.

“Thank you.” Veronica sat up gasping for air.

“Told you I played soccer.” Ramona turned around and winked at Bree.

“I never had any doubts.” Bree smiled at Ramona, then walked over, grabbed Veronica’s arms, and pulled her to her feet. “Are you okay?”

“I think so.” Veronica said.

“I think you found one of the items!” Ramona exclaimed as she knelt down and picked the old soda bottle up.

“I did?” Veronica asked at the same time Bree said “She did?”

In another part of the forest, Will, Jared, Floyd, Clifford, and Gavin were all walking together.

“So, what are some of your guys’ hobbies?” Will asked the group while they searched the forest.

“Burning stuff.” Floyd said as he leaned his back against a tree.

“How original.” Gavin said sarcastically.

“Oh yeah, what’s your hobby?” Floyd retorted. “Is it… Um…”

Gavin turned his attention away from searching to raise an eyebrow at Floyd.

“You alright, buddy?” Clifford asked Floyd. “You look confused.”

“I got it!” Floyd exclaimed. “Wearing pink.”

“It took you that long to point out the color of my shirt?” Gavin asked.

“I wouldn’t call wearing pink a hobby.” Will said.

“Whatever.” Floyd rolled his eyes and went back to pretending to look.

Will and Clifford both shrugged and went back to looking as well.

“There’s nothing wrong with wearing pink.” Jared said to Gavin.

“Yeah, I know.” Gavin said. “There’s nothing wrong with liking Shakespeare either.”

Jared nervously looked at the others before lowering his voice to a whisper. “You weren’t even here yet when I mentioned Shakespeare.”

“I hear things.” Gavin shrugged.

“Can you at least try and keep whatever you think about me a secret?” Jared asked.

“There’s only about 20 of us here now, and that number is gonna get smaller.” Gavin said. “Even if I do agree to keeping that a secret, secrets won’t stay secrets very long.”

“Fair enough.” Jared said.

“If it makes you feel any better, from what I heard, people were mostly talking about you and that girl who fell.” Gavin said. “It was nice, what you did.”

“She fell off a boat, I wasn’t just gonna leave her there.” Jared said.

“Most of the people on our team would’ve.” Gavin said. “But you know that already, don’t you?” Gavin moved forward to catch up with the rest of the group. “Hey, maybe check the area one last time just in case we missed something.” He called back to Jared.

Jared stood still in his place. He scanned the area one last time to make sure they hadn’t missed any items. Something in the distance did catch his eye. He ran in the opposite direction of his team to further investigate.

***

“I’m not really sure what Jared’s deal is.” Gavin said in the confessional. “But he’s clearly hiding things about himself. He seems like a nice guy though. I can’t say the same for some of my other teammates.”

***

Meanwhile, Will, Floyd, and Clifford were still walking together. Will walked ahead of the other two at a faster pace.

“Um, Will?” Clifford asked.

Will stopped and turned around. He blinked a few times before asking “Where are the others?”

“I was hoping you knew that.” Clifford said.

“I didn’t even notice they left.” Floyd said.

“Shocking.” Will said sarcastically. “They must’ve fallen behind. I’ll go look for them.”

“Are you sure you want to go alone?” Clifford asked. “You know, with all the…” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “Robots?”

Floyd burst out laughing. “You’re scared of those stupid things? Dude, you’re huge!”

“Well, yeah, but I’m not made of metal.” Clifford said.

“I’ll be alright.” Will said. “Besides, if any of us were to not survive a robot attack, it would be Floyd.”

“Hey!” Floyd interjected. “I could take a robot.”

“Really?” Will raised an eyebrow. “Here comes one now.”

Floyd shrieked and jumped behind Clifford. Clifford raised his fists and assumed a fighting stance. Will laughed at both of them as no robot approached.

“See what I mean?” Will said. “I’ll catch up with you two later.” Will turned and started running down the path they came from.

“I knew there wasn’t really a robot.” Floyd said.

“I’m sure you did.” Clifford patted Floyd on the back. “Come on, let’s keep looking.”

***

“I don’t really think Floyd is a bad person.” Clifford tried to keep a straight face, but then sighed. “I just think he’s a little... Misguided? No, that’s not the word I’m looking for… It’s on the tip of my tongue, I swear.”

***

Natalia and Britney were searching together nearby.

“So, Britney, are you finally going to tell me what you do back home?” Natalia asked.

“Oh, when I’m home I usually play games on my phone.” Britney said. “Or sleep.”

“Hobbies.” Natalia stated impatiently. “What kind of hobbies do you have?”

“Oh!” Britney exclaimed. “I’m in my school’s astronomy club.”

“Astronomy?” Natalia raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, my dads are super smart, so they wanted me to sign up for at least one academic club.” Britney explained. “I joined astronomy because the stars are pretty.”

“That’s not terrible reasoning.” Natalia said. “Wait, did you say dads, like, more than one?”

“Yep.” Britney nodded. “Double the dad jokes for me.”

“Nice.” Natalia said. “I’d happily take that any day over-”

“Look!” Britney stopped in her tracks and pointed up at the tops of the trees.

“What am I looking at?” Natalia asked.

“I think I see something.” Britney ran to the nearest tree and began climbing.

“Okay.” Natalia raised an eyebrow as she watched Britney climb. “You have fun with that.”

Soon Britney disappeared into the leaves of the tree.

“What are you doing out here alone?”

Natalia turned around and saw Will walking towards her.

“I’m not alone.” Natalia said. “Britney’s up there.” She pointed to the tree above their heads.

“Hi!” Britney’s head popped out of the foliage and waved.

“Oh, hey.” Will waved back before Britney disappeared into the trees again. “She can climb trees?” He asked Natalia.

“Apparently.” Natalia shrugged. “So, what are you doing out here alone?”

“Looking for some of the others.” Will said.

“Don’t tell me your group already lost people.” Natalia said.

“I wouldn’t call it ‘lost’, I’d say it’s more of a…” Will trailed off searching for a better choice of words. “Divide and conquer?”

Natalia sighed. “Who did you lose?”

“Jared and Gavin.” Will said.

“And you left Floyd and Clifford by themselves?” Natalia asked.

“Well, I wasn’t gonna let one of them go off alone searching for the other two.” Will said.

“Fair enough.” Natalia said. “I still don’t trust the two of them though.”

“Hey, I know Floyd is annoying, but Clifford is a good guy.” Will said.

“That doesn’t make him a smart guy.” Natalia said.

“Whatever.” Will rolled his eyes.

“I found something!” Britney shouted from the top of a tree.

“Great!” Natalia shouted back.

“There’s just one problem!” Britney continued to shout.

“What?” Will asked.

“What?!” Britney shouted. “I can’t hear you!”

“What’s the problem, Britney?!” Will shouted.

“I don’t know how to get down!” Britney cried.

Natalia and Will nervously glanced at each other and then up to the tree branch Britney was perched on.

“Just jump!” Natalia shouted. “I’ll catch you!”

“Are you sure?” Will whispered to Natalia.

“Britney probably weighs 100 pounds at most.” Natalia whispered back. “You think I can’t catch her?”

“Is it because she’s a woman?!” Britney shouted at Will.

“No!” Will shouted back. “And I thought you couldn’t hear!”

“That’s the miracle of life.” Britney said before spreading her arms and falling from the tree.

Natalia caught Britney and swung her over her shoulder with ease. Natalia wore a triumphant grin on her face and Britney wore a chicken hat on her head.

“Okay, I’ll admit it.” Will said. “That was impressive.”

“Damn right, it was.” Natalia gently placed Britney back on the ground.

“Let’s keep looking!” Britney exclaimed as she grabbed Natalia and Will’s hands.

“Please don’t climb anymore trees.” Will pleaded as Britney dragged them further into the forest.

Back to the Freaks, Dominic was backed against a tree with the bear closing in on him.

“A comedian being taken down by something with no understanding of humor.” Dominic said to himself. “How cruelly ironic.”

Dominic flinched as the bear raised its claws.

“Hey!”

Dominic and the bear both looked and saw that Ally and Violet had returned. Ally was holding a chainsaw in her hands.

“Listen, Mr. Bear,” Ally said sternly. “I have a chainsaw and I am deathly afraid of using it, so I kindly suggest that you leave my friend alone!”

The bear eyed Ally curiously.

“Um, Ally?” Violet said. “You might want to turn it on.”

Violet reached over and hit the power button. Ally jumped as the chainsaw revved up. The bear jumped too and ran off as soon as the chainsaw roared to life. Dominic was frozen in place, staring at Ally in awe.

“That was…” Dominic trailed off.

“Aggressive, I know.” Ally rambled as she cautiously turned off the chainsaw. “But the bear was going to hurt you and I couldn’t think of anything else-”

“Awesome!” Dominic finally exclaimed.

“Wait, really?” Ally asked.

“Yeah!” Dominic said. “For a second, I thought you guys just left me for dead, but that was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“I was gonna leave you for dead.” Violet said. “I only came back to watch Ally swing a chainsaw around.”

“Fair enough.” Dominic said. “It was pretty amazing.”

“Oh, stop it.” Ally blushed.

***

“Wow, it’s only the first day,” Violet said in the confessional. “And I already want to barf.”

***

“Can we go back to looking for things now?” Violet asked impatiently.

“We sure can!” Ally said as she swung the chainsaw over her shoulder.

Meanwhile, Casey, Quinn, Peter, and Garret were still looking together. Quinn had a pile of items sitting on her lap.

“Do you think the rest of our team is finding items too?” Garret asked.

“They better be.” Casey said.

“The real question is, did they find anything as cool as the pole?” Peter continued to swing the pole around.

“Who gave you the pole back?” Quinn asked after almost being hit in the face.

“No one.” Peter said. “I took it!”

“I’m sorry.” Garret sighed.

“It’s okay, Garret.” Quinn said. “I don’t think there’s much that could’ve stopped him.”

“Yeah!” Peter triumphantly raised the pole to the sky.

“Peter, you’re practically begging the robots to come and eat us.” Casey said.

“The robots are no match for my pole.” Peter twirled the pole in circles, threw it in the air, and caught it with one hand.

“Okay, that was impressive.” Casey said.

“Yeah, considering he’s hit Garret with the pole five times already.” Quinn added.

“I was a spoon in my school’s production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’.” Peter explained.

“Were you the big spoon or the little spoon?” An unknown voice nearby asked.

“Robots!” Peter held the pole like a baseball bat, ready to strike.

“That’s not a robot.” Garret sighed. “That’s my brother.”

Gavin stepped out from behind a tree with his arms raised in surrender. “I was just kidding.”

“Where’s your team?” Garret asked.

“I don’t know.” Gavin shrugged.

“Really?” Quinn raised an eyebrow. “Because I wouldn’t be surprised if your team was hunting down unsuspecting groups and stealing their items.”

“Sorry about her.” Peter placed a hand on Quinn’s shoulder. “She’s not exactly a people person.”

“It’s fine, I wouldn’t be surprised either.” Gavin said. “That’s why I ditched my team a while ago.”

***

“It is a little grim to immediately assume that your teammate’s brother was already plotting sabotage on the first day.” Casey said in the confessional. “Personally, I think Quinn is just the type of person who naturally assumes the worst.” Casey paused for a moment and then sighed. “Which will most likely lead to trust issues within our own team.”

***

“So, you’re just wandering the forest by yourself?” Garret asked.

“Pretty much, but I’m glad you’re making friends.” Gavin ruffled his brother’s hair.

“Yeah, yeah.” Garret swatted his hand away. “Have fun getting eaten by robots.”

“Oh, I will.” Gavin said as he started to walk away. “It was nice meeting you all.”

“Nice to meet you too!” Garret called to him as he walked away.

“Shut up!” Gavin said without turning around.

“He seems nice.” Peter said once Gavin was gone.

“Yeah, he’s a good guy.” Garret said.

“Does it bother you at all that he’s on the popular team?” Casey asked.

“Not really.” Garret shrugged. “He’s always been way better at talking to people than I am.”

“How so?” Casey asked.

“Well, you know how in cheesy teen movies there’s always that scene in the cafeteria where the main characters give you insight on all of the different cliques, table by table?” Garret asked.

“I’m assuming your brother would be placed at the table with all of the cool people that coincidentally bully the protagonists.” Quinn said.

“No, actually.” Garret said. “Gavin floats around to almost every table. He likes talking to people.”

“And you?” Casey asked.

“I’d rather die than have conversations with that many people.” Garret said.

“Then what table do you sit at in the cafeteria?” Quinn asked.

“The library.” Garret stated.

“I’m pretty sure our whole team eats lunch in the library.” Casey chuckled.

“I don’t, you losers.” Peter objected.

“Ah yes, who could forget about the beloved ‘drama geeks’ table?” Quinn asked sarcastically.

“Laugh all you want, but it’s a lot more fun than the library.” Peter said.

The four of them continued talking and laughing as they searched the forest for items.

Meanwhile, Lyla and Jesse were still searching for Wendy. The contestants had been in the forest for so long that it was nearly nighttime.

“What if something bad happened to her?” Jesse asked frantically.

“I’m sure if something really bad happened, we would have seen something by now.” Lyla said.

“Attention all campers!” Digit’s voice rang through the forest via various intercoms. “In case you couldn’t tell by the stars in the sky, night fall is upon us.”

“What is this, Lord of the Rings?” Brad’s voice joked in the background.

“Shut up, Brad!” Digit shouted. “Anyway, start heading back to the mess hall with all of the items you’ve acquired.”

“What if Wendy can’t find her way back?” Jesse asked.

“I will now begin reading Chef Hatchet’s bestseller ‘A Dummies’ Guide to Stars and Navigation’ until you’re all accounted for.” Brad said while Digit groaned in the background.

“That should help her find the way.” Lyla shrugged.

“Train your eyes onto the north star.” Brad said.

“You really think they know what the north star is?” Digit asked.

Jesse still looked worried.

“This forest isn’t that big.” Lyla said. “She couldn’t have gone this long without bumping into someone.”

“Or something.” Jesse added.

“True, but all of the somethings in this forest are robots that Chris programmed. I’m pretty sure that Chris doesn’t actually want anyone getting severely hurt.” Lyla said. “At least not on the first day.”

Jesse considered this for a minute and then sighed. “I guess you have a point.”

“You know what this reminds me of?” Brad asked Digit.

“What?” Digit asked with a complete lack of interest.

“That line from Peter Pan.” Brad said. “Follow the second star to the left-”

“It was the second star to the right, you idiot!” Digit interjected.

“Thank goodness they’re not in charge.” Lyla shook her head.

“Yeah.” Jesse agreed. “But that would definitely make things more interesting.”

“I think I’ve had just enough interesting for one day.” Lyla said.

In a nearby part of the forest, Jared had come across something rather interesting. More specifically, someone.

***

“Okay, when Gavin told me to check the area one last time, I didn’t think I’d find much.” Jared said in the confessional. “I definitely wasn’t expecting to find someone unconscious at the bottom of a ditch.”

***

“What happened?” Wendy asked, slowly sitting up and rubbing her head.

“I’m gonna be honest with you, I have no idea.” Jared said, offering his hand to help her up. “I just found you here. What’s the last thing you remember?”

“Well, I was looking for things with Lyla and Jesse.” Wendy grabbed Jared’s hand and pulled herself to her feet. “Then I thought I saw an item and accidentally lost them. Then I thought I heard a robot and got scared. Then I… Well, I guess I tripped and fell.”

“How long were you unconscious?” Jared asked.

“I’m not sure.” Wendy said. “But the sun was still out when I fell, so I’m guessing a while.”

“Are you sure you don’t have a concussion?” Jared asked. “The sun went down a while ago.”

“I’m sure I’m fine, I pass out all the time.” Wendy said nonchalantly. “Sometimes it’s because I fall, sometimes it’s because I’m scared. I guess today was a mix of both.”

“Okay, seriously, are you okay?” Jared asked again. “Does your head hurt?”

“Oh, my head never hurts.” Wendy said. “My mom tells me I have a metal plate in there.” She knocked on her head a few times.

“I thought those were only in cheesy alien movies.” Jared said.

“You watch alien movies?” Wendy asked.

“Um…”

“I love alien movies!” Wendy exclaimed.

“Oh, cool!” Jared smiled. “Look, I don’t know if you heard, but they’re calling everyone back to the mess hall. If we happen to find any more items on the way, we’ll split them.”

“Deal.” Wendy and Jared shook hands before continuing through the forest.

Meanwhile, Bree, Ramona, and Veronica were making their way back to the mess hall.

“Well, we’ve been in the forest all day and we found a grand total of one item.” Bree said. “Our team is definitely going to kill us.”

“Maybe the rest of our team found so many items that they won’t notice we found nothing.” Ramona said.

“Your optimism is adorable, but I really doubt that.” Bree said.

“Do you think they’ll at least be a little sympathetic to the fact that a squirrel almost killed me?” Veronica asked.

“Oh, not at all.” Bree said. “In fact, I really think they would just make fun of you.”

“Gee, thanks.” Veronica said sarcastically.

“Especially after you challenged Natalia this morning.” Bree continued.

Veronica rolled her eyes and ignored Bree.

“Hey, Veronica,” Bree continued. “Why did you pick a fight with Natalia, anyway?”

“Why do you care?” Veronica asked.

“I’m just curious.” Bree said.

“Curiosity killed the cat.” Veronica said without even turning to face Bree. She continued walking and didn’t look back.

“What the hell?” Bree whispered to Ramona.

“So, she has a mysterious problem with authoritative figures, so what?” Ramona whispered back while nervously chuckling.

“Why is she talking to me about cats?” Bree said. “Last time I checked, the squirrel almost killed her.”

Ramona did her best to stifle a laugh. “Hey, she’s not that bad.”

“Yeah, if you can look past her gigantic ego.” Bree said. “I think the only reason she challenged Natalia was her own pride.”

“I don’t know, I think it’s a little deeper than that.” Ramona said. “Come on, we gotta go before we lose her.”

“Oh no, we don’t want that.” Bree said sarcastically.

Ramona laughed again and grabbed Bree’s hand, dragging her through the forest.

Meanwhile, Clifford and Floyd were still searching for items. Clifford was also looking up at the stars.

“Brad said to find the north star.” Clifford said. “I think that’s it.” He pointed upwards. “Or is it that one?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Floyd said. “We’ll make it back eventually, this chapter can only go on for so long.”

“What?” Clifford asked.

“Nothin-” Floyd cut himself off with a yell as he tripped and fell to the ground.

“Dude! Are you okay?” Clifford asked.

“I think-”

“Wait a second, you found one of the items!” Clifford exclaimed as he picked up the item that Floyd tripped on.

“I did?” Floyd asked as he sat up.

“You did!” Clifford held up an immunity idol from the previous seasons.

“That’s an immunity idol!” Floyd said as he stood back up.

“Yeah, man.” Clifford said. “And it’s on the list! Right after ‘Seagull Machine Gun’.”

“We can use that!”

“Yeah! To win the scavenger hunt!”

“No!” Floyd shook his head. “To save ourselves from elimination! Have you ever watched this show before?”

“Well, yeah.” Clifford said. “But I still think we should hand it in for the challenge.”

“Oh, come on, we already found a ton of items. I’m sure the rest of our team has too.” Floyd said. “What they don’t know won’t hurt ‘em.”

Clifford looked down at the immunity idol and sighed. “Alright, fine.”

***

“Stupid! That’s the word I was thinking of before!” Clifford said in the confessional. “But I’m not the sharpest banana in the shed either, so I guess I’ll listen to Floyd.”

***

About a half an hour later, Natalia, Britney, and Will were approaching the mess hall with all of their items.

“Do you think they’ll let me keep this chicken hat?” Britney wondered aloud.

“Only if they let me keep this sword.” Natalia said, wielding the Sword of Victory.

“I think that might be a bit of a stretch.” Will said as he held open the door to the mess hall for his teammates.

“Well aren’t you a gentleman.” Natalia teased as the three entered the mess hall to find that all of the other contestants were already there.

“Finally!” Digit exclaimed. “Now give us your stuff.”

“So we can count them.” Brad added.

“And get this challenge over with.” Digit scowled.

Natalia, Britney, and Will dropped their items on the table in the back where Digit and Brad were seated, then joined the rest of their team at a nearby table.

“Okay, how much did everyone find?” Natalia asked.

“Nice to see you too.” Floyd said sarcastically.

“Floyd, I swear, if you didn’t find anything-”

“We found stuff!” Clifford interjected.

“They actually did.” Gavin nodded.

“Alright,” Natalia scanned the table before glaring at a now familiar face. “Veronica, how many items did you find?”

“Well…” Veronica’s gaze fell to the floor.

“Well?” Natalia raised an eyebrow.

“I only found one.” Veronica muttered.

“What?!” Natalia said.

“She said she only found one.” Britney repeated.

“Oh, that’s bad.” Will said.

“Didn’t Ramona find that item?” Bree asked.

Shhh” Ramona gently nudged Bree, but Bree only shrugged.

***

“Okay, I told myself I wasn’t gonna take sides in this Natalia v.s. Veronica thing,” Jared said in the confessional. “But one item. I found more than her and I split all my items with Wendy!”

***

Meanwhile, the Confused Freaks were sitting and talking at their own table.

“I think we did a great job today, team!” Ally exclaimed.

“Whoopee.” Violet said unenthusiastically.

“That’s the spirit!” Ally said.

“I’m sorry we lost you before.” Jesse said to Wendy. Lyla nodded in agreement.

“Oh, don’t worry about it, I got distracted. Totally not your fault.” Wendy said. “Besides, we found way more items by accidentally splitting up!”

“I wonder how much stuff the other team found.” Ally said.

“We may never know, since it’s taking Digit and Brad over an hour to count all the items.” Quinn said.

“You guys got here first, right?” Dominic asked Quinn, Casey, Garret, and Peter. “How much did it look like they got?”

“That’s kind of hard to tell.” Garret said.

“Yeah, some groups walked in with armfuls of stuff.” Casey said. “While others walked in with almost nothing.”

“How did they find nothing?” Peter said. “They were barely hidden.”

“This challenge was supposed to be tomorrow!” Digit shouted from the back.

“And now it’s time to announce a winner!” Chris said as he waltzed in the door.

“Dude, where have you been?” Brad asked.

“That’s for me to know, and you to not know.” Chris said as Digit rolled her eyes.

“Who won?” Chef asked as he suddenly appeared behind Digit and Brad. The two interns jumped.

Chris walked to the back table and looked at Digit and Brad’s calculations.

“The winner of our first challenge is…” Chris announced. “The Confused Freaks!”

The Confused Freaks all cheered.

“And they won by one item!” Brad added.

Natalia shot a deadly glare at Veronica.

“It looks like one of the items that wasn’t found was the completely powerless immunity idol.” Digit added.

Clifford and Floyd looked at each other with wide eyes.

***

“Is it bad that I’m extremely surprised that we won?” Lyla asked.

***

“The Freaks are all safe tonight.” Chris continued. “The Populars will be joining me tonight at our first campfire ceremony to vote off one of their new friends.”

“Or enemies.” Digit added.

“Now you’re getting the hang of it.” Chris said. “And I have that surprise I promised all of you! It’s waiting outside.”

The two teams hesitantly left their tables to investigate. They exited the mess hall to find two shabby, run down cabins in the previously empty clearing. The cabins were nearly identical to the cabins of the first season, the only noticeable difference was that each cabin had a ramp leading inside alongside the steps.

“Thanks?” Ally said.

“You’re welcome!” Chris said before his phone rang again. “Populars, I’ll see you tonight.” He began walking away.

“Wait just a minute!” Digit shouted after him. “When are you gonna fill us in on what’s going on?”

“This a grown-up matter.” Chris said. “Don’t worry about it, kid.” He soon disappeared while talking on his phone.

“Who’s he calling a kid?” Digit angrily muttered. “I’m old enough to drink alcohol!”

“I don’t even think I wanna know what’s going on.” Brad said.

“Um, what do we do now?” Ramona asked.

“Oh, um,” Brad looked at all the very confused contestants. “Go check out your new cabins, I guess.”

“Freaks have the cabin on the left, Populars have the one on the right.” Digit said. “Girls on the left side of each cabin, guys on the right side.”

The contestants all shrugged and dispersed.

“I can’t believe we won our first challenge!” Ally cheered as she jumped onto one of the top bunks in the Freaks’ cabin.

“That makes two of us.” Lyla said in complete seriousness as she claimed the bed underneath Ally.

“I think we make a pretty goo-” Wendy tripped and fell onto one of the bottom bunks.

“Well said.” Violet said sarcastically as she climbed onto the bed on top of Wendy’s. “Why the long face, wheels?” She turned her attention to Quinn. “Did you want the top bunk?”

“No, thanks.” Quinn glared at Violet as she put her stuff on the bottom bunk closest to the door.

“How did you even get around the forest, anyway?” Violet asked. “Seems like it would be pretty hard for you considering-”

“I got around just fine.” Quinn snapped.

“I fell in a ditch.” Wendy said while laughing nervously as an attempt to diffuse the tension in the room.

“Really?” Ally asked, happy to change the subject. “What happened?”

***

“And so, the inevitable begins.” Quinn said in the confessional. “It was stupid to think I would at least make it through the first day without someone saying something about my chair.”

***

Meanwhile, on the other side of the cabin, the boys had already claimed their bunks.

“Who wants to hear a joke?” Dominic asked, but gained little response. “Garret, you wanna hear a joke?”

“What?” Garret turned his attention to Dominic. “Oh, um, sure?”

“What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?” Dominic asked.

“R.” Garret responded.

“AAAAARR!” Dominic shouted while squinting one of his eyes shut and holding up one of his fingers in the shape of a hook.

The boys all laughed at Dominic’s overdramatic joke-telling.

“You tell a lot of jokes, don’t you?” Jesse asked.

“Oh yeah, tried telling a joke to a bear today.” Dominic said. “What about you?”

“Oh, I don’t really tell jokes, especially not to bears.” Jesse said.

“Nah, man, what do you do for fun?” Dominic asked.

“Not much.” Jesse shrugged.

“You don’t do anything at school?” Casey asked.

“I’m homeschooled.” Jesse said.

“So, you’ve never left your house before this?” Peter joked and everyone, including Jesse, laughed.

***

“I know the guys were just joking around, but I really haven’t left my house all that much before coming here.” Jesse admitted. “My mom thinks I’ll be safer that way.”

***

In the opposite cabin, the Populars had already claimed their bunks and began to wander the camp grounds. Natalia, Britney, Ramona, and Bree all sat in the field in front of the cabins.

“The cabins may be a little crappy, but it’s so nice out here.” Ramona lied down on the grass.

“Yeah, it really is.” Bree stared at Ramona as the sun began to set.

“Let’s hope we’re all still here tomorrow.” Natalia said.

“Way to kill the mood, Natalia.” Bree said.

“We’re totally gonna be here tomorrow.” Britney said as she played with a few stray flowers. “And the next day, and the next day, and the next.”

“That’s the spirit, Brit.” Ramona said.

“Since we’re on the topic, who are we voting for?” Bree asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Natalia replied.

“No.” Britney shook her head.

Natalia sighed. “The only girl not here.”

“Ally?” Britney asked. “I don’t want to vote her off, she’s nice.”

“She’s not on our team, Brit.” Ramona said.

“Bree?” Britney guessed.

“I’m right here, Brit.” Bree said.

“Veronica.” Natalia stated. “We’re voting for Veronica.”

“Ooooh.” Britney picked a flower from the grass. “That makes sense.”

“Do we have to?” Ramona asked. “I feel bad.”

“Ramona, we have to vote someone off.” Natalia said. “Might as well be someone who doesn’t contribute much to the team.”

“I guess you’re right.” Ramona sadly stared off into the sky.

“I should probably go tell the guys that too.” Natalia got up and Britney followed her off.

“You okay?” Bree asked Ramona once they were alone.

“I don’t know, I just feel really bad.” Ramona said. “We were with Veronica all day! It doesn’t feel right to send her home so soon. I wish there was something I could do to help…”

“It’s not your job to help her.” Bree said. “She did this to herself.”

“What do you mean?” Ramona asked.

“Natalia may be a little harsh, but she’s here to win.” Bree said. “Veronica got in her way.”

“And now Natalia is getting rid of her.” Ramona said.

“Yep.” Bree nodded.

“But she likes us, right?” Ramona asked.

“She does.” Bree lied down next to Ramona. “We just have to keep it that way.”

Meanwhile, Natalia and Britney were talking to the guys in their side of the cabin.

“It already smells like guy in here.” Britney muttered to herself as she scrunched her nose.

“So, we’re voting for Veronica?” Will asked.

“Yes. Unless any of you have any objections.” Natalia said. None of the boys voiced any concern. “That’s what I thought. Come on, Brit.”

“Gladly.” Britney pinched her nose shut as she followed Natalia out of the cabin.

“It doesn’t even smell that bad in here.” Gavin muttered.

“It smells great knowing we’re not in the middle of that drama.” Jared said.

“Yeah, for now.” Will added.

Gavin, Jared, and Will continued to talk as Clifford and Floyd stepped outside.

“I feel really bad about this, man.” Clifford said.

“Why?” Floyd asked.

“Because it’s our fault we lost!” Clifford exclaimed.

“Keep your voice down!” Floyd said. “Neither of us knew we were gonna lose by one point. Besides, we found other stuff. Veronica didn’t.”

“I guess that’s true.” Clifford said.

“And we didn’t decide to make enemies with the alpha female of our team.” Floyd added.

“Well, you did kinda make enemies with some of the other guys-”

“That’s different.” Floyd said. “Just don’t say anything about the idol and we’ll be fine. Got it?”

“Got it.” Clifford nodded.

“Now if you’ll excuse me,” Floyd showed the idol peeking out from one of his pockets. “I have to go dispose of the evidence.”

“Alright, man.” Clifford patted Floyd on the back. “Good luck.”

Floyd didn’t get far before bumping into one of his teammates. Veronica sat leaning against the back of the cabin. She was sadly picking at the grass and tearing the leaves apart. Floyd stopped and sighed.

***

“A good person would probably go and comfort her or something. But I’m no good person!” Floyd said, but paused and hesitated for a moment. “Okay, maybe I feel a little bad for her. I guess there’s no harm in talking to her for a bit.”

***

“Hey, Veronica.” Floyd said as he approached the girl. “Why the long face?”

“Why do you think?” Veronica lifted her head to reveal a single tear rolling down the side of her face.

“Aw come on,” Floyd wiped the tear away and sat next to Veronica. “What’s wrong, V?”

“Everyone hates me.” Veronica choked out.

“That’s not true!” Floyd said. “I don’t hate you.”

“Everyone else does.” Veronica said.

“Nah, only Natalia hates you.” Floyd said.

Veronica glared at him.

“What? That’s not everyone!” Floyd said.

Veronica’s glare intensified.

“Alright, fine.” Floyd sighed. “You think you’re a screw up? I have a story that’ll make you feel better.” He slowly pulled the powerless immunity idol from his pocket.

Veronica gasped.

Later, the sun had finally set on Pahkitew Island. A fire was blazing a short distance from the cabins.

“Attention Populars!” Digit’s voice rang over the loudspeaker. “Please start heading to the campfire to cast your votes!”

All of the girls, minus Veronica, sat in their cabin.

“Ready, ladies?” Natalia asked as she stood up. The other three girls nodded.

Suddenly, the door to the cabin swung open and Veronica stormed in.

“Campfire is the other way, V.” Natalia taunted.

“I want to make a truce.” Veronica said.

“Well, you have certainly have bad timing.” Natalia said.

“Wait, let’s hear her out.” Ramona said.

“Attention Populars!” Digit’s voice once again said. “Can you hurry up? I want to go to sleep!”

Natalia paused and considered for a moment.

“Alright, fine.” Natalia rolled her eyes. “But you better make this quick.”

When all of the Populars were walking to the campfire, Bree ran over to Gavin and whispered something in his ear.

“Really?” Gavin asked.

Bree nodded.

“No way.” Gavin said.

“Way.” Bree nodded.

“Okay.” Gavin shrugged.

Will and Jared watched from the back of the pack.

“I have a bad feeling about this.” Will muttered.

“Hello, Popular… Salmon? Is that what I named your team?” Chris said once all the Populars were sitting around the campfire. “Whatever. Cast your votes in the confessional. Whoever gets the most votes must leave the island and never return.”

“Until it’s convenient for ratings.” Digit added.

“Hush, Daphne.” Chris said as Digit rolled her eyes. “Now go vote!”

***

“I wish I could say it was nice meeting you, but it really wasn’t.” Natalia said as she cast her vote.

***

“Man, I hope Floyd hid that idol good.” Clifford said as he cast his vote.

***

“God, I hope this works.” Veronica said as she cast her vote.

***

“Alright, campers,” Chris spoke to the campfire of contestants. “The votes are in. The following campers are safe. Ramona.”

Brad handed Ramona the first marshmallow of the season.

“Will, Britney, and Jared.”

The three received marshmallows from Brad.

“Bree, Gavin, and Natalia.”

Clifford, Floyd, and Veronica all stared at the remaining two marshmallows with wide eyes.

“Clifford.”

Clifford let out a sigh of relief as Brad handed him his marshmallow.

“And the first person eliminated from Camp Total Drama is…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“Floyd.” Chris announced. “Say your goodbyes.”

Floyd stood up, shocked, as Brad handed Veronica the final marshmallow. Clifford was the first one to get up and gave Floyd a hug.

“I’m sorry, man.” Clifford whispered.

“Don’t be. It was my stupid idea.” Floyd replied. “I buried the idol about ten feet behind the cabin if you want something to remember me by.”

Clifford stepped back and Veronica pulled Floyd into a hug.

“You little snitch.” Floyd muttered angrily in her ear.

“Oh, Floyd, you were right about one thing.” Veronica whispered back in his ear. “That story did make me feel a lot better.” Veronica took a step back and smirked.

“When the hell did everyone switch votes?” Will asked, clearly not pleased.

“Well, Floyd,” Chris said. “It’s time for you to take the Canoe of Catastrophe-”

“The what?”

“The Canoe of Catastrophe to the Island of Losers.” Chris continued.

At the end of the dock, a small canoe with a loan paddle waded in the water.

“It was nice meeting you guys.” Floyd waved his final goodbye and the others waved back as he entered the canoe.

“Bye, Flynn!” Britney waved cheerfully.

“Um, how am I supposed to use this?” Floyd asked.

“You’ll figure it out.” Chris said as Chef pushed the canoe off the dock and into the ocean.

“Where am I even going?!” Floyd shouted.

“Alright, Populars, you can all head back to mess hall for some extra special first day pudding!” Chris exclaimed.

The Populars all cheered.

“I want pudding!” Floyd shouted as he became a small dot in the ocean from the campfire.

“Fun fact: the ‘special first day pudding’ was here before Chris even had ownership of this island.” Digit said.

The Populars all groaned, but still went to the mess hall.

“Well, I guess I learned a very important lesson.” Floyd said to himself as he continued to drift to sea. He looked up at the night sky and smiled.

His smile quickly turned into a grimace as he muttered “Snitches get stitches.”

The Confused Freaks were all waiting in the mess hall to see who the Populars eliminated.

“I bet it was that girl in green.” Violet said.

“No way, it’s definitely the cheerleader.” Dominic said.

“What about that football player?” Jesse suggested.

“Come on, it has to be that chick in red.” Peter said.

The Populars all entered the mess hall.

“What’s up, Freaks.” Natalia said. “Where’s the pudding?”

“Decomposing in the back.” Quinn said. “Where’s that tenth teammate of yours?”

“Oh, Floyd?” Natalia said. “A canoe in the middle of the ocean.”

The Populars all made their way to the back room of the mess hall to inspect the pudding.

“Well, that was a twist.” Garret said.

“You know what this means?” Casey asked.

“Those primadonnas and meatheads might be smarter than we thought.” Quinn said.

“But, none of us are athletic or ridiculously pretty.” Ally said. “If we’re not smarter than them, then what are we?”

“Roadkill.” Lyla deadpanned.

“I was roadkill for Halloween once!” Wendy added.

“That pudding looks an awful lot like mud.” Will said to Jared, but Jared didn’t seem to notice.

Jared was staring at the bubbly red head as she went on about her eclectic Halloween costumes.

Gavin noticed this and smiled to himself.

***

“I knew exactly what I was doing when I sent Jared the other way during the challenge.” Gavin said in the confessional. “I don’t necessarily believe in love at first sight, but I do believe in crush at first sight, and that’s what Jared and Wendy have. Of course, this will blow up in their faces if their teams find out, but, hey, I’m not gonna tell anyone.”

***

The campers were all interrupted in their conversations and pudding investigations by the loud sounds of a helicopter whirring overhead.

“Put your hands where we can see them, McClean!” A voice boomed from outside.

Loud sirens started going off as the campers all ran outside. Digit and Brad stood by the door of the mess hall, looking confused as ever. A helicopter was flying just above the mess hall with a flock of officers inside.

“You’ll never get me alive!” Chris shouted as the field in front of the cabins opened up.

Another helicopter rose from the ground. Chef Hatchet waved from the pilot’s seat. Chris narrowly avoided the tasers of the officers as he ran into his own helicopter.

“Why didn’t we bring actual guns!” One of the officers cried.

“There are children watching this show!” Another officer responded while slapping the first officer.

Chris’s helicopter departed, but not before dropping a smoke bomb that obstructed the vision of both the officers and the campers.

Once the smoke cleared, Chris, Chef, and their helicopter were nowhere to be found.

“Gosh darn it, we lost him!” One of the officers shouted.

“Excuse me?” Digit called from ground level. “What the hell is going on?”

“Your buddy Christopher McClean is a criminal.” The officer said. “And we’re not gonna rest until we find him.”

“We’re not?” One of the officers asked sadly as their helicopter flew away.

Digit, Brad, and the other campers stood in stunned silence.

“So, what now?” Ally finally asked.

“Go to your cabins, I guess.” Digit shrugged.

“We’ll figure something out.” Brad added.

The campers all silently made their way to their respective cabins. Digit and Brad looked at each other.

“What should we do first?” Brad asked.

“Well, we should probably end the episode.” Digit said.

“Right.” Brad nodded and turned to face the camera. “We’ll see you next time on Camp…”

“Total…”

“Drama!” Digit and Brad both announced with tears in their eyes.

Chapter 3: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Digit

Only a few hours had passed since the first bonfire ceremony and Chris’s unexpected departure. The moon still shined over the camp. Digit sat alone in the back of the mess hall, scribbling furiously in her notebook. She blinked a few times after noticing the camera.

“Oh, um, hi?” Digit said. “Welcome back to Camp Total Drama, I guess. I’m supposed to tell you what happened last time, right?” She paused and then sighed. “Last time on Camp Total Drama, our contestants competed in their first challenge, a scavenger hunt. Very original.” She added sarcastically. “Anyway, the Populars lost and after a last-minute truce between former rivals, Natalia and Veronica, the ladies decided to send Floyd home.”

Digit went back to scribbling in her notebook. “Am I forgetting something?” She muttered to herself. “Oh yeah!” Her head snapped back up. “Apparently Chris is currently evading the authorities, so, as of right now, we have no host and Brad and I have no idea what we’re going to do.” Digit flashed a strained smile at the camera. “And that’s what you missed on Camp Total Drama.”

“Digit!” Brad ran into the mess hall. He waved a large folder in his hand. “I think I found something that could help!”

Meanwhile, Ramona was wandering the clearing by the cabins when she noticed that the lights were on in the girls’ washroom. Her curiosity got the better of her and she went to investigate.

The inside of the washroom had a row of shower stalls on one side and a row of toilet stalls on the other side. The center of the room was lined with sinks and mirrors.

Ramona found Bree standing in front of the last sink doing her makeup.

“Isn’t it a little early to be doing your makeup?” Ramona asked. “The sun isn’t even up yet.”

“Well then, what are you doing up this early?” Bree smiled at Ramona.

“I couldn’t sleep.” Ramona shrugged.

“How come?” Bree asked.

“I don’t know.” Ramona started walking down the center aisle, moving closer to Bree. “I guess I just needed time to process everything. Yesterday was a lot.”

“You still managed to save Veronica.” Bree added.

“It wasn’t just me.” Ramona smiled softly and rolled her eyes.

“Do you really think Natalia would’ve even listened to Veronica’s truce if you weren’t there?” Bree raised an eyebrow.

“I guess you’re right.” Ramona said. “I still can’t believe Floyd threw the challenge.”

“I can.” Bree said. “He was a self-proclaimed loner, all he cared about was himself. And that’s exactly why he took that immunity idol for himself instead of turning it in for the challenge.”

Ramona stood in front of the sink next to Bree and stared at her reflection. She then glanced at Bree in the mirror.

“You still never answered my question.” Ramona pointed out.

“What question?” Bree asked as she packed up her makeup and began to walk out of the washroom.

Ramona sighed and followed her out.

The sun was slowly beginning to rise and Jared watched from the dock.

“Fancy seeing you here!”

Jared turned around and saw Wendy giggling as she made her way down the dock.

“I never did get the chance to properly-”

Wendy cut herself off by tripping over a stray plank and almost toppling over the edge of the dock. Jared ran over and caught her before she could hit the water. Wendy’s arms instinctively wrapped around Jared’s neck while his hands grabbed her waist.

“Thank you.” Wendy blushed. “For this and for yesterday.”

“No problem.” Jared was blushing too as him and Wendy awkwardly let go of each other.

“So, what do you think today’s challenge is gonna be?” Wendy asked.

“I’ll be surprised if we even have a challenge after what went down last night.” Jared said.

“A helicopter came out of the ground!” Wendy exclaimed as she jumped around with excitement.

“Careful!” Jared said as she hopped dangerously close to the edge of the dock.

Wendy giggled as she stopped her jumping. “I hope we have a space themed challenge soon.”

Jared raised an eyebrow at the girl.

“What?” Wendy asked. “They’ve done it before!”

“On seasons that didn’t take place in a crappy summer camp.” Jared said.

“But this is a crappy robotic summer camp.” Wendy said.

“Touché.” Jared smiled.

Later on, the sun was finally shining over the camp. Jesse was the first to leave the guys’ side of the cabin and began to make his way to the mess hall. He stopped, however, when he heard faint music coming from the direction of the forest. After walking past the cabins and a little further into the forest, he found Lyla sitting in a small clearing, playing her guitar.

“What are you doing all the way out here?” Jesse asked.

Lyla looked up from her guitar and blushed. “I didn’t think anyone would hear me.”

“How long have you been playing the guitar?” Jesse asked.

“Like out here or just in general?” Lyla asked.

“Just in general.” Jesse said as he sat down across from Lyla.

“Well, I started playing the guitar in fifth grade, so… 6 years?” Lyla said. “Yeah, 6 years.”

“That’s really cool.” Jesse said.

“Thanks.” Lyla mindlessly played a few stray chords. “I used to play the violin too.”

“Really?” Jesse asked.

“Yeah, my music teacher practically begged me to join the school band in middle school.” Lyla said. “I quit once I started high school, though.”

“How come?” Jesse asked.

“I don’t know.” Lyla shrugged. “I guess it just wasn’t my thing.”

“You prefer playing the guitar?” Jesse asked.

“Definitely.” Lyla smiled. “So, what about you? What do you do?”

“Oh, well, um…” Jesse blushed. “Not much.”

“How come?” Lyla asked.

“I’m homeschooled.” Jesse said.

***

“I guess that explains why he thinks I’m so cool.” Lyla said in the confessional.

***

Jesse stared at the ground and picked at some stray blades of grass.

“Hey,” Lyla reached her hand out and lifted Jesse’s head until their eyes met. “There’s nothing wrong with that. I can even teach you how to play guitar sometime, if you want.”

Jesse smiled. “I would like that.”

“Good.” Lyla returned his smile as she let her hand fall from his face.

A little while later, both teams were eating breakfast in the mess hall. The Confused Freaks sat at the table closest to the entrance while the Popular Salmon sat at the table in the back.

“Who even made breakfast?” Quinn wondered aloud.

“I did!” Brad shouted, appearing behind the counter in the back of the mess hall. He was waving a spatula and wearing an apron.

“So, are you gonna tell us what’s going on now?” Natalia asked.

“Um…” Brad slowly ducked back behind the counter.

“Yes, we are.” Digit announced as she entered the mess hall.

“Finally.” Veronica muttered.

“Are Chris and Chef okay?” Ally asked.

“Don’t know, don’t care.” Digit shrugged. “But we do know that Chris is on the run from the authorities so, that’s fun.”

“So, are we going home?” Casey asked.

“I wish.” Digit said. “Legally, the only person who can send us all home is Chris and he’s, you know, a little busy.”

“So who’s gonna host? You two?” Violet laughed.

“Yes!” Brad exclaimed, reappearing behind the counter, this time without the spatula and apron.

“Sadly.” Digit added.

“Really?” Will asked. “You guys can do that?”

“Well, someone has to.” Digit said.

“And we have a plan!” Brad slid over the counter with the large folder from before in his hand.

“Within that folder is a detailed description of every challenge that has ever happened on Total Drama.” Digit said. “Ever.”

“Where did you even find that?” Gavin asked.

“The interns’ quarters, among any and all of your personal files!” Brad said.

A few contestants’ eyes widened at the mention of the cabin filled to the brim with filing cabinets.

“That we should really stop mentioning.” Digit glared at Brad.

“Anyway, I guess that brings us to our challenge of the day.” Brad continued. “Everyone meet in the clearing! But like, not in the center of the clearing.”

Brad walked out, leaving the contestants confused by his last statement.

“Just wait outside the doors to the mess hall.” Digit added as she followed Brad out.

The contestants all sat in stunned silence.

“What just happened?” Britney asked, breaking the silence.

“Digit and Brad are taking over.” Natalia shrugged as she got up and started walking out of the mess hall. The rest of the Populars followed her out.

“I give them a week before everything starts to crash and burn.” Quinn said.

“Oh, come on.” Casey said.

“Yeah, have some faith in them.” Ally added.

“This isn’t gonna last a day.” Casey finished.

Quinn, Casey, and a few of the other Freaks laughed while Ally sighed. They all walked outside shortly after.

Digit and Brad stood waiting at the edge of the clearing.

“Today we decided to bring back a classic challenge.” Brad said. “Dodgeball!”

“Um, where are we supposed to play dodgeball?” Bree asked, staring at the empty clearing.

“Well, as some of you may know, this island is completely robotic.” Digit said. “Which apparently means we have this in the ground.” She pressed a button and a dodgeball court identical to the one from the first season rose from the ground.

Digit, Brad, and all of the contestants filed into the dodgeball court.

“Alright, I’m assuming you all know the rules of dodgeball.” Brad said. “We’re gonna play 9 on 9, so Freaks have to sit one person out per round. There are five rounds total. Best 3 out of 5 wins.”

“Are you sure 9 on 9 is safe?” Digit whispered to Brad. “That’s a lot of people throwing balls.”

“They’re high schoolers, they’re practically indestructible.” Brad said. He started to look for something near the referee chair.

“Alright kids, just remember the five D’s of dodgeball.” Digit said to the contestants. “Dodge, duck, dip, dive, and…”

“Digit!” Brad called.

“I don’t remember that last one from the movie.” Jared said.

“I can’t find the whistle!” Brad said.

“You seriously don’t know how to whistle?” Digit asked.

“Hey, lots of people don’t know how to whistle.” Brad began to argue.

“Ahem.” Natalia coughed. “Are we gonna start anytime soon?”

“Oh, we’re starting.” Digit said. “As soon as you all put on your uniforms for the day.”

Uniforms?!” The cast exclaimed.

“Yes, uniforms.” Digit rolled her eyes. “It’s impractical to make you all play dodgeball in some of the getups you weirdos have.”

The teams begrudgingly took their respective uniforms from their benches and left to get changed. A few minutes later, the Confused Freaks returned to the dodgeball court wearing yellow t-shirts with red athletic shorts. The Popular Salmon returned wearing purple t-shirts and black athletic shorts.

“How many more references to the movie Dodgeball are we planning on throwing into this challenge?” Digit whispered to Brad.

“So many.” Brad smiled. He rolled a few balls to each side of the court. “Alright, teams! Line up at your end of the court! Freaks, who are you sitting out?”

“I think that’s pretty obvious.” Violet said as she pushed Quinn’s wheelchair into their team’s bleachers.

“Try taking your anger out on the other team.” Peter glared at Violet.

“Oh, don’t worry.” Violet said as she picked up a ball. “I have plenty of anger to spare.”

“Pssst,” Jesse knelt down next to Quinn while their team huddled in the center of the court. “Do you know how to play dodgeball?”

“If you get hit by a ball, you’re out.” Quinn explained. “If you catch a ball, the person who threw it is out and one of your teammates gets to come back in.”

“Oh, that seems simple enough.” Jesse shrugged. “Are you okay?”

“Don’t worry about me.” Quinn said. “Worry about yourself.”

“So, do we have any plan?” Will asked Natalia as the Populars huddled on the other side of the court.

“Yeah.” Natalia said as she picked up a ball. “Don’t get hit.”

“What happens if we get hit?” Britney asked with wide eyes.

“Go! Dodge!” Brad shouted as Digit whistled, signaling the start of the challenge.

Violet immediately threw her ball at Britney, who fell backwards upon impact.

“Brit, you’re out!” Brad shouted.

“I don’t like this game.” Britney muttered as she sat on her team’s bleachers.

Natalia was the next to throw, aiming her ball at Wendy. Wendy screamed and tripped, causing her to fall to the floor and allow the ball to sail over her head.

“Damn it.” Natalia muttered.

Bree and Ramona each picked up a ball and simultaneously threw them at Casey and Peter. Peter was able to block the throw with a ball already in his hand, but Casey was hit in the arm.

“This challenge is going to be a blood bath.” Casey muttered as he sat on the bleachers next to Quinn.

“You’re telling me,” Quinn said. “This is like watching a group of baby ducklings get wiped out by a tsunami.”

Garret, Jesse, and Lyla shortly joined their team on the bleachers. All of the Populars, except for Britney, remained in the game.

“At least not everyone on our team completely sucks.” Quinn noted as Peter threw a ball at Jared, hitting him in the leg.

“Who would’ve thought musical theater would make a guy good at dodgeball.” Casey said.

“I think the fact that he’s the tallest guy here might help a bit too.” Quinn added.

Violet managed to hit Veronica in the stomach, but while she was snickering at Veronica doubled over in pain, she was caught off guard by a throw from Will. Violet and Veronica both stormed off to their team’s bleachers.

“Ally has a pretty good throw.” Casey noted as a ball thrown by Ally bounced off the back wall so hard that the walls surrounding the court shook.

“Yeah, but she has terrible aim.” Quinn said as Natalia dodged one of Ally’s throws with ease and threw her own ball at Ally’s leg.

***

“I’m not really used to talking to someone who’s as observant as me.” Casey said in the confessional. He shrugged and smiled a little. “It’s actually kind of nice.”

***

Ally’s leg that was hit buckled and she fell to the floor. Dominic, whose ball was just caught by Clifford, ran over.

“Are you okay?” Dominic asked as he helped Ally up.

“Oh, yes, I’m alright.” Ally said as she dusted herself off and walked to the bleachers. “But it looks like our team might be in trouble.” She frowned to herself.

Peter and Wendy were the only ones left for the Freaks. Natalia, Will, Clifford, Gavin, Ramona, and Bree were all still standing on the Populars side, and Britney was now reentering the game. All seven of them grabbed a ball.

“What do we d-” Wendy tripped before she could finish her question.

Peter caught Wendy just before she hit the floor, but not before all of the Populars fired their balls at the two. Peter and Wendy fell to the ground as Brad blew the whistle.

“Populars win the first round!” Digit announced.

“I’m sorry.” Wendy sighed as she sat up.

“Don’t worry about it.” Peter said. “It was two against seven, but we’ll get them next time.” Peter helped Wendy up and the two joined their team on the bleachers.

“Okay team, I think we did pretty good for our first round.” Ally said.

“Pretty good?” Violet said. “We lost.”

“And we only got two people out.” Lyla added.

“Technically we got three people out.” Garret quietly interjected. He instinctively blushed a little when his team turned their attention to him. “Britney was out before, she just got to reenter the game at the end.”

“Bottom line, we still lost.” Violet said. “And most of us suck at dodgeball.”

“That doesn’t mean we can’t win!” Ally said.

“Sorry, Ally, but it kinda does.” Violet said.

“Well, we still have to try.” Ally said firmly.

“Alright kids,” Brad said. “Who’s ready for round two?”

The Populars cheered while the Freaks groaned.

“Don’t worry, there’s no dodgeball in college.” Digit said.

“There is if you want there to be.” Brad added with a smile.

“Anyway,” Digit rolled her eyes. “Get back on the court.”

The two teams returned to their respective sides of the court, while Quinn remained sitting in her wheelchair to the side of the Freaks’ bleachers.

“I still don’t get this game.” Britney said.

“It’s really not hard, Brit.” Gavin said. “Just don’t get-”

Digit whistled and Violet immediately threw her ball at Gavin.

“Hit.” Gavin muttered before going to the bleachers.

“Is your only strategy really just hitting whoever is the most distracted as soon as the whistle blows?” Natalia taunted while bouncing a ball between her hands.

“So what if it is.” Violet picked up another ball and glared at Natalia.

Everyone else on the court paused and eyed the two girls nervously.

“Just the fact that it won’t help you much now.” Natalia reeled back her arm in preparation to throw and Violet did the same…

But before either of them could throw their balls, Britney had thrown a stray ball directly at one of the Freaks’ faces.

“Is that how you play?” Britney asked innocently.

“Hey, Britney, maybe don’t kill my brother!” Gavin shouted from the bleachers.

Garret rubbed his cheek where Britney had hit him and blushed when all of his teammates asked if he was okay.

“Your brother?” Britney asked with wide eyes. “You have a brother?”

“Brit, we’re twins.” Gavin said. “How did you miss that?”

“No way!” Britney walked to the other side of the court, grabbed Garret by the hand, and dragged him to the Populars’ bleachers.

“She was almost focused for more than two seconds.” Bree sighed as gameplay resumed.

“Brit, you know you’re out now, right?” Gavin asked as Britney carefully examined the twins while they were sitting next to each other.

“I am?” Britney asked. “But I didn’t get hit.”

“Well, you did just walk off the court.” Garret said. He winced when Britney grabbed one of his cheeks.

“Oh, sorry about that.” Britney blushed and pulled her hand back.

“Have you confirmed that we’re indeed twins yet?” Gavin asked.

“I guess.” Britney shrugged. “But I’ve got my eye on you!” She pointed directly at Garret.

“Run while you still can.” Gavin whispered to Garret.

Garret immediately retreated to his team’s bleachers. Dominic and Lyla had been sent back to the bleachers since Garret had been dragged away.

“Are you okay?” Quinn asked Garret.

“I’m alright. A little scared.” Garret cast a nervous glance at Britney. “But alright.”

The two watched as Clifford threw a ball at Jesse, hitting him in the leg.

“I hate dodgeball.” Garret muttered.

“I actually kinda liked playing dodgeball when I was little.” Quinn’s eyes shifted to the ground. “Back when I could actually play it.”

Garret’s eyes nervously shifted between his obviously upset teammate and his own fidgeting hands. The two sat in an awkward silence.

“There’s no reason you can’t play now.” Garret finally stammered out. “I’m sure Digit and Brad wouldn’t care.”

“Yeah, but people on our team would.” Quinn said.

“Like who?” Garret asked.

Quinn looked back up to watch Violet throw a ball at Natalia, hitting her in the arm.

“Not so tough anymore!” Violet shouted as Natalia promptly flipped her off.

“Other than her.” Garret said.

Peter threw a ball and hit Bree in the leg.

“Oh my god, it’s actually even!” Dominic exclaimed.

“Don’t jinx it.” Lyla warned.

Almost as if on cue, Will and Ramona threw their respective balls at Casey and Peter, hitting both of them.

“And you jinxed it.” Lyla sighed.

“Okay team, we can still do this.” Ally said to Wendy and Violet, the only remaining members of the Freaks.

“Yes, we ca-!” Wendy tripped and landed on top of Quinn, outside of the court.

“Are you okay?” Quinn asked Wendy, who was practically sitting in her lap.

“Oh yeah, I’m fine.” Wendy said with a smile.

“Okay, can you get off of me?” Quinn asked a little impatiently.

Ally and Violet each grabbed a ball and scanned the other side of the court. Will and Veronica were both holding balls. Ramona and Clifford were empty-handed, but ready to dodge. Jared was holding a ball as well, but he seemed distracted…

“Jared, look out!” Will shouted as Violet’s arm reeled back.

Jared snapped into focus when Violet’s ball knocked his out of his hands and hit him in the stomach. Veronica tried to throw her ball at Violet, but she dodged it.

Ally was the next to throw, but her ball nearly hit Violet in the back of the head before falling harmlessly on the other side of the court.

“Jeez, Ally,” Violet said. “You trying to take me out?”

“Oh heavens no.” Ally said. “This is scary enough.”

“Well, it’s about to get scarier.” Violet said as each of the remaining Populars grabbed a ball.

“Not again.” Peter sighed as Ally and Violet tried, and failed, to dodge the four balls that were simultaneously thrown at them.

“Populars win again!” Brad announced as Digit whistled.

“And if the Populars win the next round, it’s game over.” Digit added. “Remember, this is best 3 out of 5.”

The two teams huddled on their respective sides to regroup. Natalia stood in the center of her team’s huddle.

“Alright team, just because we won the last two rounds doesn’t mean we can start getting lazy.” Natalia said.

“I don’t think any of the Freaks are miraculously gonna stop being terrible at dodgeball within the next five minutes.” Veronica said.

“Don’t jinx it!” Bree and Ramona shouted.

“Have you ever even watched a cheesy sports movie?” Will asked Veronica.

“Guys, focus.” Natalia said. “Especially you.” She pointed at Jared. “Seriously, what happened?”

“I don’t know.” Jared shook his head. “I’m sorry.”

“Whatever.” Natalia shrugged. “Brit, could you do me a favor and try to stay on the court this round?”

“Okay!” Britney nodded excitedly.

“Any final words of wisdom?” Veronica asked sarcastically.

“Yes, actually.” Natalia glared at Veronica. “The only Freaks that are kinda good at dodgeball are Violet and Peter, try and get them out first. That’s it.”

“Go team!” Britney giggled, filling the silence.

The Populars dispersed before the next round started. Jared sighed and sat on the bleachers.

“You know you’re not even being a little subtle, right?” Jared turned and saw Gavin sitting next to him.

“What are you talking about?” Jared asked.

“You’ve been staring at Wendy all day.” Gavin said with a smirk.

Jared’s face turned red. “Did you know she was in that clearing when you told me to look there?”

“Dude, she has bright orange hair. She’s pretty hard to miss.” Gavin said. “Yes, I knew she was there. And I had a sneaking suspicion that you might potentially like her.”

“Well, you were right.” Jared sighed. “But now I have no idea what to do.”

“Keep doing what you’ve been doing.” Gavin patted Jared on the back. “Just try and stay focused during the challenges.”

“Okay teams,” Brad announced. “Time for round three!”

The teams returned to the court and Quinn remained in the bleachers. Digit whistled and everyone scrambled to grab a ball.

Natalia immediately threw her ball at Violet, who cursed under her breath as she stalked off the court.

“Someone else get Peter out!” Natalia said as she dodged multiple throws from the Freaks.

“Did she just say ‘someone else get Peter out’, or was that just my imagination?” Peter whispered to Casey.

“Oh, she definitely just said ‘someone else get Peter out’.” Casey nodded.

“Run, man, run!” Dominic appeared between the two, holding two balls. He handed one to Peter. “We’ll cover you!”

Peter moved behind Dominic and Casey as the Populars prepared to throw.

“Dominic, I don’t have a ball.” Casey stated with wide eyes.

“Then brace yourself!” Dominic shouted.

Jared, Ramona, Bree, and Gavin all simultaneously threw their balls at the pair, aiming for the person behind them.

Dominic was able to deflect one ball, but Casey was hit by the other three. On his way to the bleachers, another ball almost hit Casey in the head.

“Hey, I’m already out!” Casey shouted.

“Well, walk faster!” Veronica, who had thrown the ball, responded. “Do you want to get hit in the head or something?”

Peter moved out from behind Dominic and hit Will in the leg. Will joined Natalia and Britney on his team’s bleachers.

“I don’t like how this round is going.” Natalia said.

“I said it before, this is just like a cheesy sports movie.” Will groaned. “The underdogs found a new sense of determination and now we’re gonna lose.”

“Wait, that doesn’t sound right.” Britney said.

“What do you mean, Brit?” Natalia asked.

“Well, if we lost yesterday’s challenge,” Britney said. “Doesn’t that make us the underdogs?”

“Brit, you’re a genius!” Will exclaimed.

Britney simply giggled and twirled her blonde hair around her finger.

***

“Well, we were never going to win with that attitude anyway.” Britney explained in the confessional. “No one ever wins a ‘cheesy sports movie’ with a negative perspective and poor demeanor. Besides, basing our odds of winning entirely on a movie genre is a pretty stupid plan.”

***

“Sorry, Gar.” Gavin said as he threw his ball at Garret.

“Oh, thank god.” Garret sighed as he retreated to the Freaks’ bleachers.

Bree threw her ball at Wendy, but Wendy slipped, allowing the ball to sail past her, and causing her to fall on her face. Her nearby teammates gasped and a few of the Populars even looked concerned.

***

“I don’t want to say Wendy’s good at dodging,” Quinn said in the confessional. “But her movements are so… sporadic that she’s nearly impossible to hit!”

***

Before Wendy could pick herself up, Veronica had thrown her ball at her, hitting Wendy in the butt.

“Owie.” Wendy muttered as Jesse and Lyla helped her up.

“What’d you do that for?” Jared yelled.

“To get her out?” Veronica responded. “Duh.”

“She was on the ground. She could’ve been hurt!” Jared argued, completely forgetting the game of dodgeball happening around him.

“Guys, not the time!” Gavin shouted.

“Why would you even care about that?” Veronica raised an eyebrow at Jared.

“Because he’s not a terrible person.” Bree muttered as she threw her ball at Ally, but missed.

Peter and Dominic each threw their balls at Jared and Veronica while they were distracted, hitting both of them, as Lyla and Jesse safely escorted Wendy to their team’s bleachers.

“Are you okay?” Quinn asked Wendy.

“Oh yeah, I’m fine.” Wendy tried to shrug it off, but winced as she moved her arm.

“You may have to actually play.” Casey whispered to Quinn.

“Don’t even go there.” Quinn warned.

“Really, I’m fine!” Wendy insisted. She began to stretch her body, only wincing slightly at the movement.

“I don’t know.” Violet said. “You slammed into that floor pretty hard.”

“I fall all the time though.” Wendy said. She shrugged again, this time with no wince of pain. “See? Totally fine!”

“Well, I guess there’s only one way to find out.” Violet said calmly, before reeling her own arm back and clenching her fist.

“What are you doing?!” Casey quickly interjected.

“I’m checking to see if she’s really hurt.” Violet explained, her fist still in the air.

“Ooh, good idea!” Wendy said, having just noticed Violet was preparing to punch her.

“No! Bad idea!” Casey argued.

“You’re no fun.” Violet rolled her eyes. “What do you think, wheels?”

“Please don’t punch Wendy.” Quinn sighed.

“Whatever.” Violet shrugged and lowered her fist.

“I still think I’m fine.” Wendy bounced happily in her seat.

“Good thing, because we don’t really have a plan B.” Violet said. She glanced over and smirked as she watched Quinn roll her eyes.

Back on the court, the Populars continued trying, and failing, to hit the Freaks.

“Is it just me, or did the Freaks just magically get kinda good at dodgeball?” Ramona asked Clifford.

“Like fairy magic?” Clifford said with wide eyes.

“Um, sure?” Ramona responded.

“Then you must have had something to do with it.” Clifford pointed at the faded fairy tattoo on Ramona’s arm.

“Oh, Cliff, that’s not real.” Ramona explained. “My little sister-”

“Here!” Clifford threw a spare ball to Ramona. “Use your fairy powers!”

“Okay…” Ramona threw her ball at Jesse, hitting him in the leg.

“I knew it!” Clifford cheered.

Peter threw a ball at Clifford while he was distracted.

“It’s okay, Cliff.” Ramona patted Clifford’s back as he went to the bleachers.

“Did he genuinely think she has magical powers?” Bree whispered to Gavin.

“I’m afraid so.” Gavin said.

“Oh my god!” Dominic started to cheer. “We’re actually in the-”

“Don’t jinx it!” The Freaks all shouted.

Ramona, Bree, and Gavin all grabbed a ball. Ally, Peter, Dominic, and Lyla did the same on their side of the court.

“Do we have a plan?” Ramona asked.

“We never have a plan.” Bree sighed.

“I guess we just all throw at once?” Gavin suggested. “And then keep going until they’re all out.”

“Good idea!” Peter said from the other side of the court.

“Dammit.” Gavin muttered as everyone on the court prepared to throw.

A flurry of dodgeballs sailed across the court from both sides. Even the contestants in the bleachers took cover as the people on the court went down one by one. Digit whistled when only one person was still standing on the court.

“Congrats, Freaks!” Brad said, motioning to Ally standing in the center of her team’s side of the court. The others were lying on the floor, holding their respective body parts that were hit.

“We did it, team!” Ally cheered.

“We still have to do it two more times.” Lyla groaned as she limped off the court.

“And I believe we can!” Ally said.

“Alright teams, that round ran a little long.” Digit said. “Let’s start round four.”

“Why are there so many rounds?” Lyla groaned as she limped back onto the court.

“Because Digit and I are terrible at time management.” Brad explained. “Now start dodging!” Digit whistled, signaling the start of the round.

The fourth round went similarly to how the three before it went. The Freaks, minus Quinn, struggled to hold their own against the more athletic Populars.

At one point, Ally had gone to the back corner of the court to grab a ball that had rolled out of bounds.

“Here.” Quinn, who had been sitting near the back corner for most of the challenge, said as she handed Ally the stray ball.

“Thanks, Quinn.” Ally smiled. “How do you think we’re doing this round?”

“Honestly, not as bad as the first few rounds.” Quinn said.

Peter, Jesse, Lyla, and Garret were already out, but the Populars had the same amount of people on the court.

“Great!” Ally began to reel her arm back, preparing to throw from the back of the court.

“Um, Ally,” Quinn said. “Maybe you should move a little further up-”

Quinn was cut off by the sound of Ally’s ball smacking into the back of someone’s head.

“Casey!” Quinn shouted as Casey fell to the ground.

“And I thought Wendy hit the floor hard.” Violet said. “Holy sh*t, Ally!”

“I didn’t mean to!” Ally’s eyes were wide as she took a step back.

“Is he moving?” Brad whispered to Digit.

“I swear, if our first casualty is because of dodgeball…” Digit muttered.

“I feel like we should pause gameplay.” Brad said.

“Do you see anyone still throwing dodgeballs?” Digit asked.

Brad looked around and saw that everyone had stopped what they were doing. “Fair point. Follow up question, do we have a first aid kit?”

“There’s most likely one in the mess hall.” Digit said. “Probably.”

“That didn’t sound very confident.” Will said from the court while rolling his eyes.

Peter crouched down beside Casey and gently turned his head to the side.

“Hey, Casey,” Peter said gently. “Please don’t be dead.”

Casey’s eyes slowly blinked open.

“He’s not dead!” Peter exclaimed.

Everyone, including Digit and Brad, cheered.

“What happened?” Casey asked.

Peter turned and saw Dominic trying to calm down Ally, who was on the verge of hyperventilating. “I’ll tell you later.”

“Are you okay?” Natalia stood over the two with an eyebrow raised.

“Just peachy.” Casey muttered as he sat up. He rubbed the back of his head and winced.

“You should probably go try and find that first aid kit.” Wendy said. “Trust me, I know injuries better than anyone.”

“Thanks, Wendy.” Casey said sarcastically.

“You’re welcome.” Wendy smiled genuinely.

Peter helped Casey stand up and not fall back over.

“Uh, Quinn.” Garret leaned over towards the girl in the wheelchair.

“Don’t.” Quinn stated.

“Quinn, I think you have to play.” Garret said.

“Well, we had a good run, guys.” Violet sighed.

“You shut up.” Casey groggily pointed at Violet.

“He’s still surprisingly with it for someone who might have a concussion.” Peter said, patting Casey’s back.

“If he doesn’t have one now, he’s going to in about three seconds.” Violet warned.

“Order in the court!” Digit shouted. “Get it, because we’re in a dodgeball court?”

No one laughed.

“Geez, tough crowd.” Digit muttered. “Anyway! You!” She pointed at Peter. “You’re already out. Go with Brad and find the first aid kit. The rest of you-” Digit stopped upon realizing Peter and Brad were already walking out, without Casey. “Um, guys!” She caught Casey just as he was about to collapse on the floor again. “Take him with you!”

“That makes a lot more sense.” Peter grabbed Casey and slung him over his shoulder. “Let’s go, buddy!” Casey groaned in pain as they followed Brad out.

“Okay, the rest of you.” Digit continued. “Just to recap, the only ones on the court for the Freaks were Ally, Wendy, Dominic, Violet, and Casey. The only ones left for the Populars were Natalia, Will, Gavin, Bree, and Veronica. Since the Freaks have one extra player, Quinn will substitute for Casey and gameplay will resume. Problem solved!”

“We still don’t know if Casey has a concussion or not, though.” Wendy pointed out.

“That is an entirely separate problem.” Digit stated. “Now get back on the court! Or just on the court for Quinn, I guess.”

“Thanks.” Quinn rolled her eyes as she wheeled her way onto the court.

***

“At least now when we lose, we’ll have Wheels’ inevitable epic fail to laugh about.” Violet said in the confessional. “And, more importantly, someone to vote off.”

***

“Don’t worry, Quinn. We got your back.” Ally said. “Well, I have your front. I should definitely stay in the front now.” She moved up until she was almost touching the center line.

“That’s probably a good call.” Natalia taunted from the other side.

“And…” Digit got ready to whistle. “Dodge!”

Natalia and Violet both simultaneously threw balls at each other. Violet was able to dodge, but Natalia was hit in the arm.

Veronica tried throwing a ball at Wendy, but Wendy tripped and fell before the ball could reach her.

“Might want to try some new tricks next time.” Veronica said as she grabbed another ball she had waiting nearby.

“Oh, that wasn’t a trick.” Wendy began to ramble as she stood up. “I just fall-” Veronica’s ball hit her in the leg, making her slip again. “A lot…”

Bree threw a ball at Dominic, hitting him as he tried to help Wendy off the court.

“These guys are ruthless.” Dominic muttered as he sat on the bleachers.

“Unless one of you has some master plan,” Violet said to Ally and Quinn. “I think we’re going down. Again.”

Ally was still standing towards the front of the court, directly in front of Quinn in an attempt to shield her. Violet was cautiously eyeing the four remaining Populars on the other side.

Will threw a ball in Ally’s direction. Violet grabbed Ally’s arm and pulled her out of the way, giving the ball a path to sail directly at Quinn…

“Sorry, Wheels.” Violet muttered.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Quinn caught the ball.

“Yay, Quinn!” Ally ran over and gave the girl a high-five as Will went to his team’s bleachers.

“Um, that means Freaks get to bring someone back, right?” Digit said with uncertainty.

The Freaks on the bleachers all looked at each other with wide eyes, none of them actually wanting to go back in.

“You!” Violet pointed at the entrance of the court where Peter was now standing. “You’re back in!”

“I am?” Peter asked. The three girls on the court nodded eagerly while the rest of the Freaks cheered.

“Hey, just out of curiosity, does your friend have a concussion?” Digit asked Peter as he was walking past.

“Not sure.” Peter shrugged.

“Great.” Digit said sarcastically. “Well, keep going, I guess. Am I supposed to whistle again? Why do you all keep stopping?”

“Dramatic effect.” Bree suggested.

Violet threw a ball at Bree while she was distracted. Bree rolled her eyes as she stomped off the court.

Peter and Gavin each threw their balls at the same time. Gavin’s ball missed, while Peter was able to hit Gavin in the leg.

Veronica was the only one left on the Populars’ side, but only one ball remained on the Freaks’ side, and it was still in Quinn’s hands.

“What are you gonna do?” Veronica began to taunt Quinn. “Hit me?”

Quinn wordlessly threw the ball at Veronica, hitting her in the stomach so hard that she doubled over.

“I’ve been pushing myself around in this chair for years.” Quinn said. “I’d like to think I have some upper body strength.”

The Freaks all cheered as Digit whistled, signaling the end of the fourth round.

“You guys just had to be tied after four rounds, didn’t you?” Digit said. “Fine, I guess we have to do round five. There’s supposed to be a twist for round five, but I have no idea where Brad put the paper that we wrote the twist on.”

“So, no twist?” Ramona asked hopefully.

“No!” Digit said. “I’m gonna find the twist!”

“What if you tell us the twist and then we decide if we want to do the twist or not?” Dominic suggested.

“This is not a democracy!” Digit said. “If I find the twist, we’re doing the twist! Now go mingle amongst yourselves!”

The teams dispersed on their respective sides of the court. Veronica was sitting in the back of her team’s bleachers.

“Hey, Veronica.” Clifford said as he took a seat next to the girl.

“What do you want?” Veronica sighed.

“Well, I know Floyd told you about the thing from the scavenger hunt.” Clifford said.

“And?” Veronica raised an eyebrow.

“Is that why he got voted off?” Clifford asked.

“Yeah, it is.” Veronica said. “And it could’ve very easily been you in his place instead.”

“What do you mean?” Clifford asked.

“I mean, I could’ve twisted that story any way I wanted to get rid of you instead.” Veronica said.

“Oh.” Clifford said. “That’s not very nice.”

Veronica rolled her eyes.

“I think this conversation is going worse than I thought it was.” Clifford continued.

“You thought this conversation was gonna go well?” Veronica asked.

“My mom always says I’m optimistic.” Clifford shrugged.

“That’s nice.” Veronica rolled her eyes again. “You can go now.”

“Okay.” Clifford stood up. “But I don’t think you’re really that bad. I mean, Floyd had faith in you.” Clifford turned around and smiled at Veronica before walking away.

“Well, that’s gonna be a problem.” Veronica muttered.

Meanwhile, Natalia and Will were sitting on the court and talking.

“Why did you all switch votes yesterday?” Will asked. “I thought everyone was voting for Veronica.”

“We were.” Natalia said. “But Veronica and I made a truce. I told you that already.”

“Yeah, and I still don’t believe you.” Will said.

“Veronica may have been useless, but Floyd practically threw the challenge.” Natalia rolled her eyes. “And don’t act like you actually liked him because I know you didn’t.”

“A bit of a warning still would’ve been nice.” Will said.

“Oh, I’m so terribly sorry.” Natalia said sarcastically. “I’ll be sure to fax you my vote two to three business days in advance.”

“Whatever, forget it.” Will rolled his eyes. “What’s our plan for the last round?”

“Well, that all depends on what kind of twist Digit and Brad pull out of their asses.” Natalia said.

“I found the twist!” Digit exclaimed as she pulled a piece of paper out of her back pocket.

The contestants groaned.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s not that bad.” Digit said before beginning to read the paper. “The fifth round will be a four against four match. Each team must send out two boys and two girls to compete. The loser of this match will have to eliminate one of their teammates tonight.”

“That’s not so bad.” Will stood up. “What’s the plan?” He offered a hand to Natalia.

“I can name a few people who definitely aren’t going back in.” Natalia took Will’s hand and stood up. “Britney, Veronica, Jared-”

“Jared?” Will asked.

“I don’t know what’s up with him, but he’s way too distracted.” Natalia said.

“I don’t think you should go back in.” Will said.

“Why not?” Natalia asked.

“The Freaks have been targeting you every round.” Will said. “Besides, we don’t need any more surprises.” He started to walk back to the bleachers, where the rest of the Populars were waiting.

“Well, that’s gonna be a problem.” Natalia muttered.

Meanwhile, the Freaks were making their plan for the final round.

“Okay team, who are we sending in?” Ally asked.

“Peter.” The whole team, except Peter, said in unison.

“Sure.” Peter shrugged and smiled.

“You’re a saint, Peter.” Ally said. “And I think I’m speaking on behalf of everybody when I say I probably shouldn’t go back in.”

“Hey, there’s less people for you to accidentally knock out.” Violet joked. “But I’ll go back in.”

“Great!” Ally said, although a few of the Freaks looked wary. “Anyone else?”

Jesse and Garret both looked at Dominic.

“Me?” Dominic asked. “Why me?”

“I’m not good at dodgeball.” Garret stated.

“I don’t even know how to play dodgeball!” Jesse added.

“We need another guy.” Violet said, glaring at the three remaining boys.

“You know what, maybe Casey wants to give it another go.” Dominic said as he stood up. “I’ll go get him now.”

Dominic tried to run as the rest of the Freaks began to argue. Ally grabbed Dominic’s arm before he could get away.

“Dom, please.” Ally looked at him with wide eyes.

Dominic sighed as a faint blush creeped up his cheeks. “Okay.”

“Yay!” Ally hugged him.

“Yeah, whoopee!” Violet sarcastically cheered. “We still need another girl.”

“I’ll go!” Wendy stood up. “I think we’d make a great team!”

The Freaks all looked at Wendy and noted the multiple bruises she already had from the previous rounds.

“I don’t know, Wendy.” Peter said. “We really don’t want anyone else getting hurt.”

“Ooh, then I probably shouldn’t go.” Wendy sat back down.

“Well, come on down, Lyla.” Violet said sarcastically. “It’s your lucky day.”

“No.” Lyla stated, not moving from her seat.

“I think Quinn should play.” Peter said.

“I second that!” Ally agreed.

“Really?” Quinn asked.

“Really. On one condition,” Ally turned to Violet. “You play nice.”

Violet raised her hands in mock innocence. “Whatever you say.”

“Alright teams, get back on the court.” Digit said.

Peter, Violet, Dominic, and Quinn reentered the court and found Will, Ramona, Clifford, and Bree staring back at them.

“On your mark, get set,” Digit said. “Dodge!” She whistled.

“Just out of curiosity, do we have a plan?” Quinn asked.

“Ooh, I have a good one!” Dominic said.

Dominic walked to the center of the court and cleared his throat. The other team eyed him suspiciously.

“Gee, there sure are a lot of balls out here!” Dominic joked, slapping his own knee.

The court was silent. Some of his own teammates even booed him from the bleachers.

“I don’t get it.” Jesse whispered to Lyla.

“Good.” Lyla replied.

This didn’t stop Clifford from bursting out laughing, though. Peter took advantage of the distraction and threw a ball at Clifford.

“Really, Clifford?” Natalia said as he walked to the bleachers, still laughing. “A balls joke?”

“It wasn’t even funny!” Veronica added.

“Yeah! Let’s go te-” Dominic was cut off by a ball hitting him in the stomach. “I’m okay.” He said weakly as he started to walk off the court.

Bree threw a ball at Quinn, but Quinn caught it.

“Alright!” Dominic cheered. “I’m back-” Dominic was hit in the stomach again. “Never mind…” He stumbled back off the court.

Violet threw a ball at Ramona, but Ramona deflected it with her own. Will took the opportunity to throw his ball at Violet, hitting her in the leg.

“Do we have a plan?” Ramona asked Will.

“Yeah, grab a ball.” Will said.

“Peter,” Quinn nervously looked at her only remaining teammate.

“Don’t worry, we’re gonna be okay.” Peter said. He was standing further up from Quinn, holding a ball defensively.

“Go!”

Will and Ramona simultaneously threw their balls at Peter. Quinn threw her ball at Ramona in retaliation. Peter and Ramona both gave their respective teammates a reassuring pat on the back before walking off the court.

Will grabbed a nearby ball from off the court. Quinn looked around and saw that there were no balls on her side.

“Are you ready for this?” Will asked, only partially tauntingly.

Quinn gripped the sides of her wheelchair, her eyes brimming with determination. “Bring it.”

The Freaks all cheered from their bleachers.

***

“It was that moment I realized something.” Will said in the confessional. He sighed. “We weren’t the underdogs in this cheesy sports movie.”

***

Will threw his ball at Quinn.

“The Freaks win!” Digit announced.

Quinn held the ball that was just thrown at her in her hands and smiled.

“Okay Populars, you know the drill. Campfire, tonight. One of you will be eliminated.” Digit said. “And Freaks, go see if your teammate has a concussion or not.”

The Freaks all set off in the direction of the mess hall while the Populars scattered near the cabins.

The Freaks entered the mess hall and found Casey sitting at one of the tables, holding an ice pack to his head. Brad was standing near the entrance, facing Casey, but with his back to the door.

“Okay, man,” Brad said. “How many fingers am I holding up?” He held three fingers in the air.

“I really don’t think this is going to give any indication on whether or not I’m concussed.” Casey said.

“Humor me.” Brad said.

“Three.” Casey sighed.

“Yay!” Ally cheered.

Brad jumped and turned, finally noticing the Freaks were all standing in the entrance. Ally ran past Brad and pulled Casey into a bear hug.

“I’m sorry I maybe almost gave you a concussion!” Ally squeezed Casey tight.

“It’s okay, Ally.” Casey choked out while awkwardly patting her back.

“Try not to suffocate him on the same day, Ally.” Violet said.

“Oops!” Ally let go of Casey. “Sorry, again.”

“It’s okay.” Casey took in a deep breath. “Again.”

“Good news, buddy!” Peter led the rest of the team over to Casey. “We won!”

“Either I hit my head a lot harder than I thought,” Casey said. “Or you just said we won.”

“Probably both.” Quinn said. “But we really did win.”

“Figures.” Brad said. “The underdogs always win in the cheesy sports movies. Especially the movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story-

“Can you please stop referencing that stupid movie?” Lyla asked. “We’re still in the uniforms and everything.” She motioned to her yellow shirt and bright red shorts.

“Fine, go get changed.” Brad said. “I feel like it would be dramatic to say that I’ll see you all at the campfire ceremony, but I won’t, so… Bye?” He walked out.

The Freaks collectively shrugged and continued talking. Meanwhile, the Populars were in their respective sides of their cabin discussing the upcoming elimination.

“So, who are we voting for?” Britney asked on the girls’ side of the cabin, twirling her hair around her finger.

“Clifford.” Veronica said, at the same time that Natalia said “Will.”

“Here we go again.” Bree groaned.

“Wait, we can talk through this.” Ramona said. “Veronica, why do you want to vote off Clifford?”

“He’s stupid.” Veronica shrugged.

“Oh, that’s not very nice.” Ramona sighed. “Natalia, why do you want to vote off Will?”

“He’s nosy.” Natalia said.

“Okay, so neither of you have very good reasoning.” Ramona said.

“Great.” Bree rolled her eyes.

“Just because Clifford isn’t smart, doesn’t mean he won’t be useful in future challenges.” Natalia said.

“He lost us the challenge over a balls joke!” Veronica argued. “I know Will ended up losing the challenge to a crip in the end but-”

“Woah! Can we not use that word?” Ramona cut Veronica off. “Like it or not, Quinn kicked our asses in today’s challenge. Try and show a little respect.”

“She’s not even on our team.” Veronica said.

“And?” Ramona said. “She’s still a person.”

“Who the hell are we voting for?” Bree asked, clearly annoyed.

The girls continued to argue while the guys talked on the other side of the cabin.

“Can you hear anything?” Will asked.

“Not much.” Jared said with his ear to the wall of the cabin. “But it doesn’t sound like they’re agreeing on anything.”

“Well that’s good. We might actually be able to vote one of them off.” Will said. “As long as someone doesn’t switch votes at the last second.” He glared at Gavin.

“Do some basic math before you try and insult me next time.” Gavin said. “It’s 5 against 4, the girls don’t need my vote.”

“Suddenly I miss Floyd.” Jared said as he sat down.

“I miss Floyd too.” Clifford sadly sat next to Jared.

“I know, buddy.” Jared patted Clifford’s back.

“He’s in a better place now.” Gavin joked.

“Floyd died??” Clifford exclaimed.

“No!” Jared said. “Floyd is alive and well.”

“Assuming that canoe got him to god-knows-where they’re sending us.” Will added.

“Anyway, who are we voting for?” Gavin asked.

“Can we vote for Veronica?” Jared asked.

“I think I second that.” Clifford said.

“I don’t know.” Will said.

“Well, we all know who you want to vote off.” Gavin said.

“Oh yeah?” Will asked. “Who?”

“Natalia.” The other three guys said simultaneously.

***

“I was actually gonna say Britney.” Will said in the confessional. “I mean, yeah, Natalia is a bit of a loose cannon, but as of right now, she’s our leader. Britney’s just confused all the time. I’m worried she’s gonna hurt herself. But whatever.” He shrugged. “I’ll let the guys think what they want. Besides, I doubt Natalia’s going anywhere anytime soon.”

***

“Whatever.” Will said. “We have time to figure this out.”

“Attention, Populars!” Digit’s voice said over the loudspeaker. “I hope you all know who you’re voting for because you’ve run out of time to figure it out! Please come to the campfire immediately!”

“Never mind.” Will sighed as his team began to trudge to the campfire.

“Okay, Popular Salmon.” Digit said once they were all gathered around the campfire. “You know the drill, go vote.”

The Populars all started making their way to the confessional.

“Who thought of these team names?” Brad whispered to Digit. “What even is the other team’s name?”

“Someone and something stupid, I’m sure.” Digit replied.

***

“I’m pretty sure this is who we all agreed on voting for.” Britney shrugged as she cast her vote.

***

“Here’s to hoping the girls didn’t agree on who they’re voting for.” Jared said as he cast his vote.

***

“You know, I think I might’ve actually learned something today…” Natalia cast her vote.

***

“The votes are in.” Brad said. “And the following people are safe.”

“Gavin, Bree, and Jared.” Digit said.

Brad tossed them marshmallows.

“Ramona and Natalia.” Digit said.

Brad tossed them marshmallows as well.

“Britney.” Digit said. She paused before adding, “And Will.”

Brad tossed the two marshmallows.

***

“…I can’t let my own personal agenda affect the team.” Natalia sighed. “So I guess Will can live another day. For now.”

***

“Welcome back to the bottom two, Veronica.” Digit smirked.

Veronica rolled her eyes while Clifford looked around nervously.

“And the last marshmallow goes to…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“Veronica.” Digit said as Brad tossed her the last marshmallow. “Sorry, Clifford.”

“That’s okay.” Clifford stood up and sighed. “It was fun while it lasted.”

The guys, and Ramona, all gave Clifford a hug before he started making his way to the dock.

“Alright, buddy.” Brad joined Clifford on the dock. “Have you ever ridden a canoe before?”

“Nope.” Clifford said, but he was still smiling.

“Bless your soul.” Brad put a hand on his heart before abruptly shoving a canoe paddle into Clifford’s hands. “Good luck! Who knows, you might find Floyd along the way.”

“You still don’t know if Floyd made it to… wherever the losers go?” Natalia asked.

“We’re pretty sure he made it.” Digit shrugged.

“I’m coming, buddy!” Clifford exclaimed as he jumped into the Canoe of Catastrophe. “Bye, guys!” He waved as the canoe began to drift away.

The rest of the Populars all waved back.

***

“Crisis averted.” Veronica sighed. “I almost feel bad. He seemed like a nice guy. But, then again, every guy seems like a nice guy… until they’re not.”

***

Meanwhile, Quinn and Casey were sitting outside their cabin.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Quinn asked.

“Yeah, I should be fine by tomorrow.” Casey said. He was still holding an icepack to his head, but he seemed to be in less pain than before. “Maybe it’s for the best, I heard you kicked some serious ass after I left.”

“No, I didn’t.” Quinn blushed.

“Oh, really?” Casey asked. “Because that’s all Peter and Garret were talking about.”

“What about Peter and Garret?” Peter jokingly asked as him and Garret walked out of the guys’ side of the cabin. “I would pat your head, but I don’t want to kill you.”

Casey rolled his eyes, but smiled. Quinn and Garret both softly laughed to themselves.

***

“I’m really happy with my little group of friends.” Peter said in the confessional. “I know the three of them aren’t the most social people in the world, but they’re starting to come out of their shells!” He smiled warmly before leaving the confessional.

***

“There goes Wendy.” Casey observed as he watched the clutz wander in the direction of the dock.

“I don’t know if I trust that girl by the dock by herself.” Peter said. “Hey, Wen-!”

“Wait.” Quinn put a hand on Peter’s arm. “I don’t think she’s alone.”

The four of them watched as Jared met Wendy by the dock.

“It’s like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet!” Peter gasped.

“Don’t Romeo and Juliet both die in the end?” Garret asked quietly.

“Okay, bad example.” Peter said.

“After today’s challenge, I almost forgot you were such a theater nerd.” Casey said.

The three boys continued to talk while Quinn continued to watch the two opposing contestants by the dock.

***

“Perhaps,” Quinn carefully adjusted her glasses in the confessional. “I’m not the most expendable one on my team anymore.”

***

Digit and Brad had returned to the mess hall to recover from their first challenge run by their lonesome.

“I guess one of us has to close the episode.” Brad said.

“I opened the episode.” Digit was laying across one of the tables with an icepack of her own resting over her eyes. “You do it.”

“Fine.” Brad sighed before turning to the camera. “Will the Freaks continue their winning streak? Will the Populars ever be able to get along for more than five seconds and win a challenge for once? Will anything ever happen between Wendy and Jared and how will their teams react?”

“Nice.” Digit said.

“Thank you.” Brad said to Digit. He turned back to the camera. “Find out next time on…”

“Camp Total Drama.” Digit said dryly without looking up.

“Yeah.” Brad sighed. “What she said.”

Chapter 4: What's New Piggy-Cat?

“Welcome back to Camp Total Drama!”

Brad and Digit were sitting in the mess hall, waiting for the contestants.

“Can I tell them what happened last time?” Brad asked.

“Sure.” Digit rolled her eyes.

“Alright, last time on Camp Total Drama,” Brad said. “Our contestants played everyone’s favorite game: dodgeball!”

“Yeah, I’m gonna stop you right there.” Digit said. “Dodgeball is the worst and one of our contestants might have a concussion because of it.”

“Okay, whatever, can I tell them the rest?” Brad asked.

“Fine.”

“After Casey left the game due to injury, Quinn led the Freaks to their second win.” Brad continued. “The Populars were faced with their second elimination and everyone’s favorite dumb jock, Clifford, was eliminated.”

“Don’t forget about what happened after Clifford’s elimination.” Digit said.

“What happened after Clifford’s elimination?” Brad asked.

Digit sighed. “A certain group of Freaks stumbled upon Wendy and Jared’s budding forbidden romance.”

“Oh yeah!” Brad said. “Who was that again?”

Quinn, Casey, Garret, and Peter were talking near the front of the mess hall, close to where they were gathered the night before.

“How long do you think that’s been going on?” Peter asked, the four still being hung up on what they discovered the night before.

“Considering we’ve been here for less than a week,” Quinn said. “Not long, I’d assume.”

“Jared already appeared to have an attachment to Wendy during the dodgeball challenge.” Casey said.

“How would you know? You were unconscious for most of the challenge!” Peter said jokingly.

“I was conscious when Wendy got hurt!” Casey interjected.

“Wendy gets hurt a lot.” Quinn pointed out. “You’re gonna have to be a little more specific.”

“You know what I mean!” Casey threw his hands up in exasperation. “When she fell and then that other girl hit her and Jared started yelling-”

“I know what you mean.” Quinn giggled.

“Maybe we’re just overthinking this.” Garret said, his quiet voice turning the attention of the other three. “I mean, I overthink things all the time.”

“What do you mean, Gar?” Peter asked.

“Well, what if Wendy and Jared just bumped into each other by accident last night?” Garret shrugged. “What if there’s nothing going on between them?”

“Bless your kind, naive soul.” Quinn put a hand over her heart.

“Yeah, something tells me they’re not just bumping into each other by accident.” Casey pointed in the direction of the dock, where you could see the clutz and the jock meeting again.

“Oh.” Garret paused. “In that case, I know exactly who to ask if we really want to know what’s going on.”

By the dock, Wendy and Jared were talking.

“I think today’s the day we finally have a space challenge.” Wendy was walking back and forth across the dock with her arms spread in an attempt to keep herself balanced.

“Oh really?” Jared asked from the post he was sitting on. “What makes you say that?”

“I don’t know.” Wendy shrugged. “I just have a good feeling about today, you know?”

“Yeah, I know.” Jared smiled. “Whatever today’s challenge is, it can’t be worse than yesterday’s.”

Wendy stopped walking and tilted her head. “What was so bad about dodgeball?”

“You mean other than your teammate getting a concussion?” Jared joked.

“Casey’s fine!” Wendy said. “I checked his pupils to make sure they were the same size and everything!”

Now Jared was tilting his head at Wendy.

“My sixth-grade health teacher told us if someone’s pupils were different sizes, they had a concussion.” Wendy explained. “Or maybe it was something else, I don’t really remember. But he’s fine!”

“I believe you.” Jared nodded. “I just don’t like dodgeball.”

“How come?” Wendy asked.

Jared paused for a moment as his cheeks turned red. “I don’t like hurting other people. Even in sports. It’s stupid, I know.”

“That’s not stupid at all.” Wendy shook her head and then smiled. “It’s actually really sweet.”

***

“I really don’t know how I’m supposed to be feeling right now. I’m pretty clumsy with feelings too.” Wendy blushed in the confessional. “I really like talking to Jared and I’ve never really had friends that I’ve talked to as much as him.” She brushed a stray strand of hair out of her face as the blush faded from her cheeks and her shy smile turned more to a grimace. “I’ve also known the guy for less than a week, so I’m probably overreacting. Besides, why would he like me? No one’s ever liked me before…”

***

Meanwhile, Garret had found his informant sitting in the mess hall.

“Hello, Gavin.” Garret spoke in a deep voice and sat across from his twin, folding his hands over the table in mock seriousness.

“What’s up, Gar?” Gavin lightly rolled his eyes.

“What do you know about a certain… forbidden romance happening on the island?” Garret asked.

“Well, that depends.” Gavin said. “What do you know?”

“I asked you first.” Garret said.

“Fine, well-”

Gavin was interrupted by a thump coming from the entrance of the mess hall. Peter, Casey, and Quinn were huddled in the doorway, leaning in to listen on the conversation. Gavin couldn’t see them because his back was to the entrance, but Garret’s eyes widened at their sudden noise.

“Sorry.” Casey whispered to Quinn after accidentally knocking her wheelchair into the wall.

Gavin slowly began to turn around, but the three had managed to disappear before being spotted.

Gavin turned back around and smirked. “Look at you, making friends.”

“Shut up.” Garret blushed, dropping his serious façade.

“I don’t think he saw us.” Peter (loudly) whispered from outside.

Quinn and Casey shushing Peter could also be heard from inside the mess hall.

“You were saying.” Garret folded his hands again. “You know, uh, about the… the thing?”

“Ah yes, Jared and Wendy.” Gavin said. “They started talking during the first challenge after yours truly sent Jared to go make sure she wasn’t dead.”

“How did I know you had to be directly involved in this?” Garret asked.

“Because I’m me.” Gavin said. “Now I don’t know about Wendy, but Jared’s been a bit… unfocused ever since.”

“Well, I don’t think Wendy’s ever really that focused.” Garret said. “But none of us really thought anything was off until me and… some others-”

Peter, Casey, and Quinn slowly crept their way back into the entrance.

“-saw the two of them talking by the docks last night.” Garret finished.

“I told you all I know.” Gavin said. “Tell your Scooby Doo gang you guys cracked the case.”

“Can I be Daphne?” Peter asked excitedly.

This time Casey and Quinn loudly shushed Peter while pushing him out of the doorway.

“Are we interrupting something?”

Peter, Casey, and Quinn turned around to see that the Populars, save for Gavin and Jared, were standing behind them, waiting to get into the mess hall. Natalia, the one who had spoken, was tapping her foot impatiently. Peter grabbed Quinn’s wheelchair and the three of them fled the scene. The Populars all shrugged and entered the mess hall just as Garret was leaving.

Britney gasped and ran over to Garret, grabbing his face with both her hands. “How’s your face?” She looked at him with wide eyes, remembering how she’d smacked him in the face with a dodgeball at the last challenge.

“What?” Garret stammered. “Oh, yeah, that. It’s fine.”

“Good!” Britney ruffled Garret’s hair before releasing him.

“I think you’re scaring him, Brit.” Natalia whispered to the blonde as Garret ran from the mess hall as fast as his friends before did.

“Don’t worry about him.” Gavin turned around in his seat. “He’s just a little shy.”

After breakfast, Digit and Brad had gathered all of the contestants in the clearing for their next challenge.

“Okay kids, today we’re doing something a little different.” Digit said. “Today’s challenge will be an obstacle course!”

“The notes said it’s an Oof-stacle Course!” Brad interjected.

“I was trying to maintain any shred of dignity we still had, but thank you, Brad.” Digit said through gritted teeth. “The obstacle-”

“Oof-stacle!”

“-course is comprised of five parts.” Digit continued, ignoring her co-host. “A walk over a grease covered log slide, a trip over a very steep cliff on a grease covered zip-line, going through a grease filled set of pipes, a jump over grease covered tires, and a climb up a rope wall.”

“Is the rope wall also covered in grease?” Casey asked.

“Very observant.” Digit said. “And yes, yes it is.”

“This whole challenge sounds a little…” Britney paused to find the right word. “Greasy.”

“And Digit left out the best part!” Brad said. “Instead of using batons like a normal relay, you’ll be using pigs!”

“Pigs?!?” The cast exclaimed.

“Yes, you really didn’t notice the two pigs sitting behind us.” Digit said, stepping to the side, revealing two pigs wearing leashes.

“That can’t be humane.” Ally shook her head.

“They look happy to be here.” Dominic said.

The two stared at the pigs. One was rolling around aimlessly on the ground and the other was gnawing at its leash.

“…Or maybe not.” Dominic shrugged.

Ally was still frowning while looking at the pigs.

“Hey,” Dominic nudged Ally’s shoulder. “What do you call when a pig gets hurt?”

“What?”

“A ham-bulance!” Dominic exclaimed, immediately making Ally smile.

“Anyway,” Digit continued. “Since there are five events, you will be sending in teams of two for each one. Populars, since you’re already two people short, two of you will be flying solo. Got it?”

The contestants all nodded and split off into their respective teams to start planning.

“Alright team, let’s get the hard part out of the way first.” Natalia said to the Populars. “Who wants to go alone?”

“I’ll do it.” Will raised his hand.

“Our hero.” Natalia teased.

Will rolled his eyes in response.

“You should do an event by yourself.” Bree said to Ramona.

“Really?” Ramona asked.

“Yeah!” Bree said. “Of course, I’d love to do one with you, but you’re probably the most athletic one on our team.”

“I don’t know.” Ramona’s cheeks were red.

“Bree’s right.” Natalia cut in. “We’ll start strong and finish strong with Will and Ramona. Everyone else, pair up.”

Britney immediately latched onto Natalia’s arm.

Bree grabbed Gavin before he could approach Jared. “Sorry, but I really don’t want to get stuck with Veronica.” She whispered.

Veronica and Jared both glared at each other.

“You know what? This is great.” Will said. “You two can learn to work together.”

Natalia pulled Will aside. “That’s the stupidest plan I’ve ever heard.”

“Well, would you rather be Veronica’s partner?” Will asked. “Because it doesn’t look like Bree and Gavin are splitting up.”

“I thought we were partners!” Britney said, still gripping Natalia’s arm.

“We are, Brit.” Natalia pat the blonde’s head.

“Can’t we just send her alone?” Britney asked.

“No, Brit.” Will said.

“Why not?” Britney asked.

“Because we’ll lose if we send her alone.” Natalia sighed.

“But we always lose!” Britney threw her free hand into the air.

“But we’d like to win.” Will said. “For once.”

“Fine.” Natalia turned back to the rest of the team. “You two go sing kumbaya and work together.” She said to Jared and Veronica. “Preferably in the pipes.”

“You’re gonna send me into the pipes with him!” Veronica cried as Jared recoiled.

“You can’t get much closer than that.” Britney giggled, twirling her hair around her finger.

“Exactly.” Natalia said before turning to Bree and Gavin. “Do you two want the zip-line or the tires? Please say zip-line.”

Britney gasped. “Can we do the zip-line?” She was bouncing and gripping Natalia’s arm even tighter.

“Never mind.” Natalia rolled her eyes. “Let’s go, team.” She added dryly.

Most of the Freaks had already paired off with little complications.

“Hey, Wheels!” Violet approached Quinn. “You wanna be my partner?”

Quinn stared back at Violet with her eyes wide in fear. “Why?”

Violet shrugged. “Maybe so we can actually finish the chall-”

“Actually!” Ally cut in and grabbed Violet’s shoulders. “I was hoping you’d be my partner, Violet. Just like the scavenger hunt!”

“Whatever.” Violet rolled her eyes.

“Great!” Ally smiled before dragging Violet away from Quinn.

“You okay?” Casey asked Quinn.

“You’re my partner.” Quinn put her hand on Casey’s arm.

“Okay.” Casey shrugged.

“I guess that leaves us, Wendy.” Dominic said, watching Lyla and Jesse and Peter and Garret pair up.

“Can we do the zip-line?” Wendy asked, beaming.

“Yeah!” Dominic agreed.

“Yay!” Wendy high-fived Dominic before setting off to the zip-line…

And before tripping and falling on her way there.

“I’m okay!” Wendy yelled back to Dominic.

“Good!” Dominic called back.

***

“Maybe Wendy and I doing the zip-line over a cliff isn’t the best idea…” Dominic said in the confessional.

***

“I hope you’ve all decided who’s doing what,” Brad said. “Because it’s time to start the challenge!”

Ally and Britney cheered while the rest of their respective teams groaned. Britney skipped over to Ally and gave her a high-five.

“Come on, Brit!” Natalia called as everyone else got into their starting positions.

“Bye, Britney!” Ally waved as Violet dragged her off to their event.

“Here’s your pigs.” Digit said as she dropped a pig into Quinn’s lap.

“On your marks…” Brad handed the other pig to Will.

“Get set…”

“Go!” The two co-hosts shouted in unison.

The pig on Quinn’s lap squealed in her face and then tried to run away.

“Not so fast!” Casey grabbed the pig’s leash and held it in the air.

Will tightly held onto his pig and carefully started to walk across the log slide.

“Any words of advice?” Casey turned to Digit and Brad, still holding his team’s now very angry pig in the air.

“Don’t hit your head again.” Digit joked before the two left.

“She is right.” Quinn said, watching Will slip and almost fall on his log. “You probably shouldn’t go across the log.”

“I’m fine.” Casey insisted.

“I know.” Quinn said. “But I have a plan.”

“You do?” Casey asked.

“Yeah.” Quinn nodded. “Push my wheelchair across the log.”

“That’s even less safe!” Casey argued.

“The worst that could happen is I tip over and fall,” Quinn said. “And there’s only one person from the other team here to make fun of me if I do.”

“I’ll cover my eyes if you fall.” Will cut in, currently being halfway across his log.

“Give me the pig.” Quinn held her arms out.

“Fine.” Casey sighed and handed Quinn the pig. “Just… be careful.”

Will had nearly made it across his log when Quinn was vaulted across her own. Quinn’s wheelchair tipped forward as she landed, sending their pig flying…

Directly into the hands of Dominic, one half of the next pair for the Freaks.

“Nice!” Dominic said while Wendy clapped.

“Are you okay?” Will asked Quinn, who was lying on the ground next to her now grease covered wheelchair.

“Yeah, I’m good.” Quinn gave a sideways thumbs up as Will’s pig started licking Quinn’s face.

“No! Bad pig!” Will said, dragging the pig away by its leash. “Didn’t anyone ever teach you to respect women on the farm!”

Natalia and Britney started audibly laughing behind Will.

“Take the stupid pig.” He sighed as he handed the pig to Natalia.

“You’re something else.” Natalia said, still giggling.

“Yeah, yeah.” Will turned and saw that Casey had ran over and helped Quinn back up. “You two better hurry up, the Freaks are on a roll.” He said to Natalia and Britney.

Dominic and Wendy were trying to figure out how to get the two of them and the pig across the cliff nearby.

“Okay, I’ll go to the other side.” Dominic said. “And then you send the pig over on the zip-line.”

“Got it.” Wendy nodded. “Do I go across the zip-line after?”

“Um…” Dominic peered over the very steep cliff and into the rough waters far below. “Maybe you should just wait here.”

“Okay!” Wendy happily grabbed the pig.

While Dominic was getting ready to go across the zip-line, Natalia was preparing to send Britney across with the pig in her hands.

“Are you sure this harness can hold us?” Britney asked, hugging the pig to her chest.

“Yes, Brit.” Natalia tightened the harness around the blonde. “You’ll be fine.”

“Okay…” Something caught Britney’s eye seconds before Natalia sent her across the zip-line. “Is the leash supposed to be around your arm-”

The two girls screamed as they were both sent flying across the zip-line, Natalia only dangling from the pig’s leash. Natalia and the pig crashed to the ground on the other side while Britney landed safely, thanks to the harness.

“No, the leash was not supposed to be around my arm.” Natalia groaned, still lying on the ground.

“Well, you were right!” Britney added with a smile. “The harness did hold us. All of us!”

“Yay.” Natalia muttered sarcastically.

Dominic had made it to the other side shortly after.

“You ready, Wendy?” Dominic shouted across the cliff.

“Yep!” Wendy gave a thumbs up.

“Okay,” Dominic prepared himself to catch the pig. “Just be careful!”

Wendy giggled to herself as she strapped the pig into the harness and sent it across. Dominic kept his eyes on Wendy until the pig was so close that he couldn’t see her anymore. Dominic grabbed the pig once it made it to the other side and unstrapped it.

“Nice!” Dominic said.

When he looked back up, however, he noticed that Wendy was no longer standing on the other side of the cliff.

Dominic sighed and slowly looked down over the edge of the cliff.

“I’m okay!” Wendy shouted from on top of a rock at the bottom of the cliff.

Dominic turned to the pig, completely baffled. “How does she do it?”

The pig, equally confused, shrugged in response.

At the start of the pipes, Veronica and Jared were still trying to get their pig to go in the pipes while Lyla and Jesse waited for their teammates.

“One of us is gonna have to carry the pig through.” Jared said.

“Well, it’s not gonna be me.” Veronica scoffed.

Jared rolled his eyes in response.

Before their argument could continue, Dominic ran over with his team’s pig.

“What took so long?” Lyla asked, grabbing the pig.

“Oh, nothing much.” Dominic said nonchalantly. “I just have to go make sure Wendy isn’t severely injured at the bottom of the cliff.”

“What?!” Lyla and Jesse exclaimed.

What?!” Jared echoed.

“Why do you even care?” Veronica glared at Jared.

“See you guys later!” Dominic darted off.

Veronica’s glare slowly turned to a look of understanding mixed with a hint of mischief. “Oh, I think I know why you care so much.” A smirk formed across her face.

In a moment of panic, Jared shoved the pig into Veronica, sending both of them into the pipes. What Jared didn’t realize was that the leash was still wrapped around his arm, causing him to be dragged through too.

“I guess we should get going too.” Lyla stared into the pipe, pig in hand.

“Yeah.” Jesse nodded. “Ladies first? Or is that considered rude in a situation like this?”

“Come on.” Lyla smiled and grabbed Jesse’s hand before dragging him into the pipes with her.

Lyla and Jesse somehow made it out of the pipes before Veronica and Jared.

“Where are they?” Gavin wondered aloud while Ally and Violet (mostly Ally) cheered.

***

“I had a feeling partnering Veronica and Jared was a horrible idea.” Bree said in the confessional. “But, once again, I wasn’t about to partner up with Veronica.”

***

The six contestants all turned their attention back to the pipes when they heard noises coming from inside the Populars’ pipe.

“Are they still arguing?” Jesse said.

“Whose bright idea was putting those two together again?” Bree asked Gavin.

“Will’s.” Gavin said. “But technically it was our fault for partnering up with each other.”

“Let’s just ignore that part.” Bree waved a hand, dismissing it.

“You have a crush on her!” Veronica shouted as her and Jared fell out of the pipes.

What?!” The surrounding contestants, minus Gavin, exclaimed.

All Gavin did was mutter “Oh no…”

“You have a big crush on Wendy!” Veronica continued as Jared’s cheeks turned red. “One of the Freaks!”

The group fell into an awkward silence.

“Well, we’ll be taking this.” Bree tip-toed over and grabbed the pig from Jared. “Sorry, buddy.” She gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder before grabbing Gavin and dashing off.

Ally and Violet followed close behind.

Meanwhile, Digit and Brad were watching everything unfold from a screen of different monitors at the end of the obstacle course.

“I think we need something to make this challenge a little more…” Brad paused. “Interesting.”

“I’d love to hear what you think would make this more interesting.” Digit said sarcastically.

Brad pulled an old looking speaker out from behind the screen. “Check this out.” He pressed a few buttons and Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual started playing over the loudspeakers scattered throughout the course. Digit rolled her eyes.

“Why?” Violet asked herself back by the tires.

“I love this song!” Ally said.

Violet sighed. “Alright, Ally. Do you remember our plan?”

“Yes!” Ally nodded. “But… tell me again. So I know you remember.”

Violet rolled her eyes. “I’m gonna go across some of the tires while you wait here with the pig. When I’m done moving, you’re gonna throw the pig to me. Then, you’re gonna go farther across the tires, and then I’ll throw the pig back to you.”

“And we keep doing that until we’re across!” Ally finished.

“Yes.” Violet said. “At least you got the important part.”

Bree and Gavin were both walking across the greasy tires together while Gavin held the pig.

“Did you know about Jared and Wendy?” Bree asked.

“No.” Gavin lied.

“You totally knew.” Bree said.

“If you’re so sure, then why’d you ask?” Gavin said.

“You know, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.” Bree said.

“Oh really?” Gavin raised an eyebrow. “You’re not the first cheerleader who’s said that to me.”

Bree opened her mouth to speak, but she interrupted herself with a shriek as the Freaks’ pig flew over her head. The two Populars looked and saw that Ally and Violet were already ahead of them with their strategy.

“They have a plan?” Bree asked, clearly annoyed. “What the hell!”

“We have to distract them.” Gavin said. “We’ll lose if we don’t.”

Bree looked to her side and saw Ally holding her pig close to her chest while gently stroking its head. “Say no more.” Bree smirked before making her way over.

“Hush little piggy, don’t you cry,” Ally hummed quietly. “Ally’s gonna sing you a-”

“Hey, Ally!” Bree smiled at her competitor.

“Oh, hello, Bree.” Ally returned the smile while still cradling the pig in her arms. “What are you doing here?”

“No reason, I just wanted to chat.” Bree said. “So, what do you think about what just went down?”

“You mean the thing with Jared and Wendy?” Ally said. “Well, I’m a little surprised, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”

“Really?” A playful smile was plastered on Bree’s face.

“Yeah, I mean it shouldn’t matter what team you’re on.” Ally continued.

Bree nodded along before asking “Are you dating anyone back home?”

“What?” Ally’s cheeks immediately turned red. “No.”

“I don’t believe you.” Bree’s Chesire Cat smile intensified. “You’re way too much of a catch.”

“No, I’m not dating anyone back home.” Ally shook her head, still blushing furiously.

“Well, you have to have your eyes on someone here.” Bree insisted. “Or someone has their eye on you…” She added with a wink.

“Oh, well, I-” Ally stammered.

“Ally!” Violet was waving her arms from across the tires. “What are you doing?!”

Gavin had already successfully made it to the end of the tires with the pig.

“Sorry, Violet!” Ally tossed the pig to her partner as quickly as possible. “Goodbye, Bree.” She gave a shy wave before awkwardly shuffling away through the tires.

Violet ran the pig the rest of the way across the tires and handed it off to Peter and Garret in front of the rope wall, but Ramona was already halfway up the rope with her pig in hand.

“Come on, Gar.” Peter grabbed the pig. “We can still do this!”

“And the Populars win!” Brad announced from the end of the course as Ramona hit the ground on the other side of the rope wall.

“For once.” Digit added.

“Never mind.” Peter sighed and released the pig.

“So, let me get this straight,” Gavin said to Bree once she made it out of the tires. “Your master plan to distract them was to flirt with one of them?”

“Yep.” Bree smiled confidently as she tightened her ponytail. “And it worked.”

“Maybe this is the start of a beautiful friendship.” Gavin said as him and Bree shared a smile.

Most of the contestants had gathered at the end of the obstacle course.

“Freaks, we’ll be seeing you at tonight’s campfire ceremony.” Digit said.

Dominic and Wendy joined the group, both of them soaking wet.

“We lost?” Wendy asked. “What else did I miss?”

“Um…” Lyla and Jesse shared a look. “We’ll tell you later.”

“We didn’t lose!” Britney pulled Natalia and Will into a group hug.

“Alright, you’re all dismissed and we’ll see you at the mess hall tonight.” Brad said, holding one of the pigs. “We’re having pork for dinner.”

A few contestants booed him. Ally, in particular, looked like she might cry.

“I’m kidding!” Brad held his hands up in surrender. “These things are all metal anyway.”

“So, what is for dinner?” Ramona asked.

“I don’t know.” Brad shrugged. “Starve.”

Now all the contestants were booing Brad.

“We’ll figure something out!” Digit cut in. “Just get lost for now.”

The teams all dispersed around the cabins as the Freaks discussed their first elimination. Quinn, Casey, Garret, and Peter were gathered behind the cabins.

“So, who are we voting for?” Casey asked.

“I think that’s pretty obvious.” Quinn said.

“Well, well, well,” The four turned and saw Violet walking towards them. “If it isn’t the loser bunch.”

“We’re all losers, Violet.” Peter said. “That’s kinda the point of our team.”

“Whatever.” Violet said. “I just came to bid farewell to Wheels. You had an okay run.”

“What are you talking about?” Casey asked as Quinn’s gaze dropped to the ground.

“Oh, please.” Violet rolled her eyes. “Who else do you think people are gonna vote for?”

“You.” A quiet voice spoke up.

“What did you say?” Violet glared daggers at Garret.

“You and Ally are the reason we fell behind.” Garret continued. “And Ally’s actually nice, so-”

“And no one else on our team was really watching that other than you and your buddy.” Violet cut him off, jabbing a finger towards Peter. “I’m also one of the only athletic people on our team. Good luck trying to get rid of me.”

“Why do you hate me so much?” Quinn finally asked.

“Oh, I don’t hate you.” Violet said. “I just want to win.” With that, she turned and walked away, leaving the four with even more questions then answers.

“What are we gonna do?” Peter asked.

“Put someone else up for elimination.” Casey said. “Someone other than Violet.”

“But there’s no reason to vote off anyone else.” Garret said.

Quinn gasped. “Yes, there is!”

***

“I’m not really used to having friends who care about me.” Quinn said in the confessional. “I don’t want to lose that. Not yet. So, maybe I have to throw someone else under the bus who doesn’t deserve it.” She sighed. “It’ll all be okay in the end. I can prove Violet wrong. I can prove them all wrong.”

***

Meanwhile, Lyla, Jesse, and Wendy were sitting in the girls’ side of the Freaks’ cabin.

“Wait, what?!” Wendy exclaimed after hearing what had happened during the challenge.

“Yeah, Veronica basically confirmed that Jared has a crush on you.” Jesse said.

“Wendy, how come you never mentioned this?” Lyla asked.

“I thought we were just friends!” Wendy said. “I didn’t think he actually liked me!”

“Well, congrats!” Jesse held his hand out for a high five, but Wendy was too stressed out to process this.

Lyla lowered Jesse’s hand. “Bad time.” She whispered.

“Sorry.” Jesse whispered back.

“What do I do now?” Wendy asked. “Do I talk to him? Do I ignore him? Can I just ignore him?”

“Maybe don’t completely ignore him.” Lyla said. “But take some time to think about it.”

“And don’t forget about elimination tonight.” Jesse added.

Lyla and Wendy both gave him a look.

“Bad time?” Jesse asked.

The two girls nodded.

“Sorry.” Jesse muttered.

“Well, thanks guys.” Wendy said as she stood up. “I think I’m gonna go for a walk to clear my head. I’ll see you at the campfire.” She turned, opened the door, tripped over the doorframe, and then left.

“So, who are we voting for?” Jesse asked.

“Quinn.” Lyla said.

“Seriously?” Jesse asked. “We’re listening to Violet?”

“I don’t want to, but there’s only one other option.” Lyla said, motioning to the now empty space in the room where their friend was just sitting.

“Oh.” Jesse frowned. “Okay, I guess.”

“Look on the bright side.” Lyla said. “If Quinn goes home tonight, she doesn’t have to deal with Violet anymore.”

“You’re right.” Jesse cracked a small smile.

Ally and Dominic were seated on the steps outside the cabin.

“This doesn’t feel right.” Ally said.

“What doesn’t?” Dominic asked.

“Voting for Quinn.” Ally said. “She did nothing wrong.”

“No one did.” Dominic said.

I did.” Ally said. “I got distracted and cost us the challenge.”

“Don’t say that.” Dominic put a hand on her shoulder. “It was a close race. No one deserves to go home because of it.”

“Yeah.” Ally nodded sadly. “But… there are people who have other stuff going on that might hurt our team.”

The two stared out and watched Wendy and Violet wander through the clearing by themselves.

“I take back what I said.” Dominic said. “Violet kinda does deserve to go home.”

“But we need her for challenges.” Ally said. “Her and Peter are the only ones who are… I don’t know, fit?”

“Not complete couch potatoes.” Dominic suggested. “Actually leave their houses once in a while. Do physical activity for…” He shuddered. “…fun.”

Ally giggled. “Yeah.”

“So, that leaves our very clumsy Juliet.” Dominic said.

“I know.” Ally sighed. “But that doesn’t feel right either.”

“Well, whatever you decide on, I’m with you.” Dominic said.

“Thanks, Dom.” Ally smiled. “You really are a sweetheart.”

Dominic blushed. “Not as much as you are.”

Ally pulled the jokester into a hug before skipping off. Dominic sighed as he watched her skip away.

Some time later, the Freaks had all regathered around the campfire.

“Wow, I didn’t even have to make an announcement to get you all here.” Digit said. “I would say you guys know the drill, but you don’t, so here’s the drill. Go into the confessional, vote for who you want gone, and whoever has the most votes gets to take a ride on the Canoe of Catastrophe.”

“A ride on the what?” Jesse asked.

“You’ll see.” Digit said. “Now go vote.”

***

“That’s what you get for being a bully.” Wendy said as she proudly showed that she had cast her vote for Violet.

***

“This still doesn’t feel right.” Ally sighed as she cast her vote.

***

“I’m really sorry about this,” Quinn said in the confessional. “But it was either you or me.”

***

“Okay, Freaks, when I call your name, Brad will throw you a marshmallow, which means you’re safe.” Digit said. “The first marshmallows go to Jesse and Dominic.”

The two boys high fived as they caught their marshmallows.

“Garret, Lyla, and Peter.”

The three caught their marshmallows.

“Ally and Casey.”

Casey cast a nervous glance towards Quinn as he caught his marshmallow.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Violet, you’re safe.”

Violet smirked as she caught her marshmallow. Wendy and Quinn both looked at each other with wide eyes.

“The final marshmallow of the night goes to…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“Quinn.” Digit said. “Sorry, Wendy, but your time here is up.”

“That’s alright.” Wendy sighed as she stood up. “I still had fun.” She turned to Lyla and Jesse. “And made some pretty great friends.”

Lyla and Jesse both stood up and pulled the clutz into a hug.

“Is there any message you’d like us to deliver to Jared?” Lyla asked.

“Wait, this is perfect!” Wendy gasped. “Now I don’t have to deal with that!”

“That’s the spirit, Wendy!” Dominic laughed.

“Before you go, you have to answer the big question.” Peter said. “Do you like him back?”

“Where’s that canoe you were talking about before?” Wendy hurriedly asked Digit.

“Right at the end of the dock.” Digit said.

“Awesome!” Wendy started to run down the dock, but then tripped and fell into the canoe.

The canoe started drifting away and all the Freaks ran to the dock to see if Wendy was alright.

“I’m okay!” Wendy gave a thumbs up from the canoe.

The Freaks all cheered and waved as the canoe drifted farther and farther away.

“Do you think she noticed she forgot the paddles?” Brad whispered to Digit.

“She’ll figure it out eventually.” Digit responded.

“What do we do now?” Ally asked the two cohosts.

“I don’t know.” Digit shrugged. “Go away?”

“I heard the Populars were having a little pool party by the lake if you guys want to crash that.” Brad said.

“Seriously?” Digit asked. “Don’t the Populars all hate each other?”

“This is the first time they’ve won, I think that calls for celebration.” Brad said. “Right, guys?” He turned and saw that the Freaks had all already vanished.

Meanwhile, Bree and Ramona were talking near the lake. Bree was lounging in a bikini while Ramona still had her athletic shorts on over her swim bottoms. The rest of their team was far enough away that they couldn’t hear the two.

“You destroyed that rock wall challenge.” Bree said, making the soccer player blush.

“It was nothing, really.” Ramona said. “We only won because of you anyway.”

“I think we would’ve been fine either way.” Bree said. “The Freaks could’ve been halfway up the rope and you still would’ve dominated.”

“Thank you for what you said before the challenge.” Ramona said, smiling at the ground and blushing even harder. “For believing in me.”

“My pleasure.” Bree smiled. “So, who do you think the Freaks booted?”

Ramona paused, seeing something approaching them from the clearing.

“Why don’t you ask them?” Ramona said. “Here they come now.”

“Well, this pool party just got a lot more interesting.” Bree stood up and started walking towards the Freaks.

“Hello again, Bree!” Ally waved.

“Hey!” Bree smiled. “We were just coming to get you guys.”

“We were?” Ramona mouthed to Bree when she turned around.

Bree shrugged at Ramona before turning her attention back to the Freaks. “So, who got the boot?”

“Way to be subtle.” Ramona whispered in Bree’s ear, having gotten up to join her.

“Wendy, sadly.” Ally responded, not thinking anything of the two girls’ whispering.

“Wait, really?!” Bree said, her smile suddenly dropping.

“Yeah,” Ally continued. “None of us wanted to see her go-”

“Hold that thought.” Bree said. “I’ll be right back.” She gave a courteous wave goodbye before practically sprinting towards the lake.

“Don’t worry about her.” Ramona addressed the now very confused Confused Freaks. “And welcome to the party!”

Bree found Gavin sitting at the edge of the lake. She casually sat next to him.

“So,” Bree started calmly. “Do you want to tell Jared his girl just got voted off, probably because of him, or should I?”

“They voted Wendy off?!” Gavin exclaimed.

“Well, in their defense, if you were screwing around with a girl on the other team, I’d probably vote you off too.” Bree said.

“Trust me, the last thing you need to worry about is me screwing around with a girl on the other team.” Gavin said. “But that’s besides the point! Who’s gonna tell Jared?”

“I’m sure he’ll figure it out himself once all the Freaks get here.” Bree said. “Oh look! They’re all here.”

Ramona waved to the pair from the entrance of the clearing, the rest of the Freaks filing in behind her. Bree smiled and waved back, while Gavin groaned and put his head in his hands.

“This is gonna get ugly fast.” Gavin muttered.

“Oh no! How come?”

Gavin’s head snapped up and saw that Garret was now sitting on the other side of him.

“My favorite brother!” Gavin breathed a sigh of relief and pulled Garret into a hug.

“I’m your only brother.” Garret stated.

“Unimportant.” Gavin grabbed Garret’s shoulders. “Who voted for Wendy?”

“Um, me?” Garret said hesitantly.

“What?” Gavin asked. “Why?”

“Well, it was actually kinda complicated.” Garret said. “Violet was trying to get rid of Quinn and Wendy’s always hurting herself and then, you know, that other thing happened-”

“Your bro’s got a point.” Bree cut in.

“Oh, hi.” Garret shyly waved to Bree.

“Don’t worry about her, Gar.” Gavin said. “She’s harmless.”

“Excuse you.” Bree crossed her arms defiantly. “I am a force to be reckoned with.”

“Sure you are.” Gavin said sarcastically.

“Speaking of Wendy,” Garret said. “Where’s that guy from your team? Jared?”

“Oh no…” Gavin and Bree both muttered upon seeing Jared was nowhere in sight.

Meanwhile, Digit and Brad were lounging on their own beach chairs by the dock.

“What other teen shenanigans will ensue at arguably the worst pool party ever?” Digit asked into the camera.

“Will the new bonds that were formed in today’s challenge last?” Brad asked.

“Probably not.” Digit stated.

“And where did Jared go??” Brad asked.

“Find out next time on Camp…”

“Total…”

“Drama!”

Chapter 5: Blue-Bury Pie

“Welcome back to Camp Total Drama!” Brad said from the intern quarters. Digit was frantically rummaging through the many filing cabinets behind him. “Last time our teams had to compete through a grease-covered obstacle course complete with pigs! Veronica also revealed that Jared has a crush on Wendy to everyone about thirty seconds after finding out, leaving our star-crossed lovers in a bit of an awkward situation.”

“And then the Freaks voted Wendy off.” Digit said without turning around.

“So, good for her, I guess?” Brad continued. “But pretty bad for Jared considering he went missing from the increasingly awkward pool party all of our contestants attended after the elimination ceremony.”

“I found something!” Digit pulled a file out and waved it in the air triumphantly.

“Sweet!” Brad turned back to Digit. “What do we need?”

“I can handle everything, but…” Digit paused. “Can you bake?”

“Are you kidding? I’m the best at baking!” Brad said.

“Perfect!” Digit passed Brad the file and patted him on the back. “I’ll see you later.” She exited the intern quarters.

“Oh. Oh.” Brad muttered as he read through the file. “Blueberry pie it is.” He closed the file and followed Digit out.

Meanwhile, the contestants’ pool party was still in full swing. And a certain member of the Populars was still absent.

“Well, boys,” Bree slung her arms around Garret and Gavin. “Time to do some searching.”

“What do we do when we find him?” Garret asked as Bree continued to drag the twins away from the lake and into the forest.

“Make Gavin talk to him.” Bree stated.

“Gee, thanks.” Gavin rolled his eyes.

“What? Aren’t you guys, like, friends?” Bree asked.

“Yeah, but I don’t know the guy well enough to handle an emotional breakdown!” Gavin said.

“That’s very unfortunate,” Bree nodded her head in mock sincerity. “Because I think we just found him.”

Bree stopped walking, making the twins stop in their tracks too. Jared was sitting on a lone tree stump in a clearing with his back turned to the three.

“Wait here.” Gavin sighed before pushing Bree’s arm off of him and approaching Jared.

Bree and Garret watched Gavin sit down next to Jared.

“Well,” Bree still had her arm around Garret. “I think it’s time for us to go.” She turned herself and Garret around and started walking back towards the lake.

“B-but Gavin said to wait.” Garret said, his voice barely above a whisper.

“They’ll be okay.” Bree said. “But right now, we should probably leave them alone.”

***

“I’ve gone through more messy breakups than I can count.” Bree said in the confessional. “I know this isn’t really the same thing, but whenever I’m down about a girl, I don’t like being bombarded by people. One good friend is all you need.”

***

Back at the lake, Casey was sitting against a tree, writing away in his journal.

“What’cha writing?”

Casey looked up and saw Quinn in front of him.

“Just some observations.” Casey said.

“Like?” Quinn asked.

“Who’s talking to who, everyone’s different mannerisms, what might be happening in the inner workings of their minds.” Casey rambled casually.

He stopped when he saw Quinn’s head was tilted slightly to the side and her brow was furrowed.

“In the least creepy way possible, of course.” Casey quickly added.

“Of course.” Quinn nodded.

“Where’d Garret go?” Casey asked, changing the subject.

“Don’t know.” Quinn shrugged. “Last I saw him, he was talking to his brother.”

Their conversation was interrupted by a splash of water hitting them from the lake. Casey sighed and closed his now soggy journal while Quinn turned herself around to see who had splashed them.

A cascade of blonde curls popped out of the water with a giggle.

“Hi!” Britney waved.

Casey and Quinn half-heartedly waved back.

Britney giggled one last time before disappearing into the water again, the only thing visible being the top of her blonde hair as she swam away.

Casey and Quinn sat in a moment of stunned silence.

“You gonna write that down?” Quinn finally asked.

“Oh yeah.” Casey reopened his journal.

Britney continued to float down the lake until she was near some of her own teammates. She giggled as she resurfaced, splashing Natalia and Veronica in the process.

“Hey, Brit.” Natalia sighed.

“Why are you like this?” Veronica asked as she squeezed water out of her hair.

“Like what?” Britney tilted her head to the side, still smiling.

“Ignore her, Brit.” Natalia said.

“Okay!” Britney said cheerfully as Veronica rolled her eyes.

“Why-”

“Hi, Ally!” Britney gave a big wave to the Freak that was standing behind Natalia and Veronica.

“Oh!” Ally looked surprised. “Hello, Britney!” She waved back.

Natalia and Veronica shared a mischievous look.

“Hey, Ally.” Natalia gave more of a smirk than a smile.

“What are you doing by yourself?” Veronica asked.

“I was just looking around, appreciating nature.” Ally said.

“Isn’t everything here fake?” Veronica asked.

Natalia elbowed Veronica in the gut. “Come and sit with us, Ally.”

“I don’t know.” Ally looked hesitant.

“Oh, come on.” Veronica said.

“Please!” Britney jumped in the water, splashing Natalia and Veronica again.

“Well, okay.” Ally sat in between Natalia and Veronica as they both glared at Britney, but Britney was still giggling.

***

“Veronica and I are holding true to our truce.” Natalia said in the confessional. “For now, at least. She may be completely useless in challenges, but you’d have to be blind to miss what she can do after them. So, for now, it’s better to have her with me than against me. It’s like they always say,” A wicked gleam appeared in her eyes. “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”

***

On the other side of the lake, Bree was sitting on the edge of the grass with Ramona.

“So, you have anyone special back home?” Bree asked.

“No.” Ramona shook her head.

“Seriously?” Bree put on a look of shock to hide her excitement. “But you’re so pretty!”

“Okay, enough about me.” Ramona giggled and blushed. “What about you?”

“I used to.” Bree said, staring out into the lake.

“What happened?” Ramona asked.

“I got dumped.” Bree let out a forced chuckle.

“Seriously?” Ramona was genuinely shocked.

“It’s kinda a long story-”

Bree was cut off by someone pushing her into the lake.

“What’s up, Ramona?” Gavin casually smiled as he sat in Bree’s spot.

“What the hell, Gavin?!” Bree glared at the twin as she resurfaced.

“You ditched me.” Gavin said.

“Oh please, you were fine.” Bree rolled her eyes. “You’re so lucky I’m wearing waterproof makeup.”

“Why are you even wearing makeup?” Gavin asked. “We’re at a lake!”

“Okay, everyone calm down.” Ramona said. “What happened, Gav?”

“Well, we went to go make sure Jared was okay.” Gavin said. “And then when I was talking to Jared, somebody disappeared and took my brother with her.”

“And you were fine.” Bree said, lightly rolling her eyes, but still smiling. “Your brother’s adorable, by the way.”

“Oh, thank you.” Gavin said sarcastically.

“He’s like a little teddy bear.” Bree continued. “Like when you play one of those games at the carnival and you don’t knock down any of the bottles, but the worker appreciates your enthusiasm, so they still give you a little teddy bear.”

“Did you just compare my brother to a pity prize at a carnival booth?” Gavin asked.

“Seriously, he could turn me.” Bree said.

“Remind me to never take you to a carnival.” Gavin rolled his eyes while Ramona laughed.

“So, how is our Romeo holding up?” Bree asked.

“He’s alright.” Gavin said.

The three watched as Jared sat next to Will at the other end of the lake.

“That’s it?” Bree said. “All you got is that he’s alright?”

“Well, the rest isn’t really my business to spread.” Gavin said. “If you care so much, maybe you should’ve stuck around.”

Bree stuck her tongue out and splashed water at Gavin. The three laughed as the sun began to set on the horizon.

Back on the other side of the lake, Ally was still talking to the trio of Populars. A few of her other teammates were starting to move back towards the cabins.

“It’s getting late.” Ally said, standing up. “I should head back to the cabins before it gets too dark, but thank you again for inviting me to join you!”

“Anytime, Ally.” Natalia said with a smirk.

“Yeah, what she said.” Veronica agreed.

Britney splashed out of the water again.

“Bye, Ally!” Britney waved.

Ally smiled and waved back before walking away.

“We should get going too, Brit.” Natalia said.

“And dry off before coming into the cabin, you’re soaked.” Veronica added.

Britney flopped out of the lake and shook her head like a dog, getting Natalia and Veronica wet in the process.

“And now we all have to dry off.” Veronica sighed.

“I like Ally.” Britney said as the three got up. “She’s nice.”

“She is nice.” Natalia nodded. “Almost too nice.”

“What do you mean?” Britney’s head tilted.

“You think she’s hiding something.” A smirk began to form on Veronica’s face.

“Everyone on the Freaks has something that makes them a freak.” Natalia said.

“But Ally seems pretty normal.” Britney said.

“Exactly.” Natalia and Veronica said simultaneously.

When the three arrived back at the cabins, they found that each cabin had a table set up in front, complete with a traditional red checkered tablecloth. The contestants were all gathered around their respective tables, inspecting the contents. On each table sat a row of pies.

“I think it’s blueberry.” Will said.

A few contestants had already begun to dig in.

“Well, only one way to find out.” Natalia said, grabbing a fork from the table.

And then everything went dark…

The next morning, all was calm on the island. In fact, it appeared that no one was even there.

The sea, however, was rocky.

And the two rafts of sleeping teenagers didn’t help much either.

“Good morning, campers!” Brad’s voice came from a speaker that was situated on each raft. “In case you didn’t notice, you’re in the middle of the ocean!”

Quinn was the first one to snap out of their sleep induced haze. She was also the first one to scream.

***

“I’m not the biggest fan of large bodies of water.” Quinn said in the confessional. “It’s sink or swim out there! And I can’t really swim, for obvious reasons.” She motioned to her wheelchair. “Maybe signing up for a reality show on an island wasn’t my best idea…”

***

“Hey, we’re okay.” Ally grabbed Quinn’s hands and knelt down to her level. “Take a deep breath, everything’s gonna be okay.”

Quinn took a deep breath and started to calm down.

“Yeah, everything’s gonna be okay.” Brad said. “Assuming you all make it back to shore.”

Quinn resumed her panicking.

“That wasn’t very nice!” Ally yelled at the disembodied voice.

“This challenge is a two-parter.” Digit’s voice replaced Brad’s over the speaker. “The first part is getting your team’s raft back to shore.”

“How did we even get out here in the first place?” Jared asked.

“I don’t even remember anything that happened after we got back from the lake.” Ramona said.

Will and Natalia both gasped. “The pie!”

“Brad’s quite the baker, isn’t he?” Digit said. “We might’ve put a little something in the pie to knock you all out.”

“I take back every bad thing I said about the dodgeball challenge.” Jared said.

“I don’t.” Casey said, rubbing the back of his head.

“Oh, and I didn’t even tell you about the second part of the challenge.” Digit said. “Once your team gets back to shore, you’re going on a treasure hunt!”

“What treasure are we hunting for?” Violet glared in the direction of the speaker.

“Well, I’ll let you all do a little head-count first.” Digit said.

Quinn’s eyes went wide upon hearing Digit’s comment.

“Guys,” Quinn said, visibly shaking. “Where’s Garret?”

Jared had made a similar realization on the Populars’ raft.

“They took Gavin!” Jared exclaimed.

“The twins are safe and sound.” Digit said. “In a chest. Underground.”

“You kidnapped the twins and buried them alive?” Violet said. “That’s messed up, even for me.”

“They’ll be fine.” Digit insisted. “Because once you get back to shore, you’ll get a map that tells you exactly where to find them.”

“But the team that gets back to shore last gets a bit of a disadvantage for part two.” Brad added.

“Good luck!” Digit said before the speaker crackled out.

The contestants sat on their rafts in stunned silence.

“Don’t worry, guys.” Dominic stood up. “The comic relief is here!”

“I vote we feed Dominic to the sharks first.” Violet said.

“Oh yeah, they wouldn’t like you because you’re too salty.” Dominic snapped back.

“That doesn’t even make sense!”

“No!” Ally yelled over Dominic and Violet’s bickering. “No one is feeding anyone to any sharks! We’re gonna make it to shore.”

“How?” Lyla asked.

“I didn’t think that far ahead.” Ally let out a nervous chuckle.

“Everyone split up and start paddling.” Peter suggested. “We have a teammate to save.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself.” Ally said as the Freaks got into position to paddle. “Literally.”

“Sure you could’ve.” Peter smiled and patted Ally on the back. “Now come on!”

As per usual, things were going… not as smoothly on the Populars’ raft.

“What are we gonna do?!”

“The Freaks are already on the move!”

“How far are we from shore?”

“Am I the comic relief of our team?” Britney asked to no one in particular, sitting in the middle of the chaos.

“Everyone shut up!” Natalia shouted. She pet a wide-eyed Britney on the head before continuing. “We’re never gonna make it to shore if we can’t stop yelling at each other. Now, does anyone have any ideas?”

The whole raft was silent.

Britney slowly raised her hand.

“Yes, Brit?” Natalia said.

Britney pointed at Will. “Take off your shirt.”

“Wow Brit, I didn’t think I was your type-”

“So you can push the raft from the water!” Britney added with her cheeks red.

“Now that would’ve been a good thing to start with.” Will said. “But I’ll do it.”

“Not bad, Brit.” Natalia said. “Any other takers?”

“I’ll do it.” Ramona said. “But I’m keeping my shirt on.” She smirked at Britney.

“And the rest of us can paddle from the sides.” Natalia said. She clapped her hands twice. “Everyone get to work!”

When the shore was finally in sight, the two teams were neck and neck. The Populars were slowly, but surely, gaining on the Freaks with their extra support in the back.

Violet took note of this as she dismounted the flimsy speaker from the raft. She made sure no one on her team was watching before throwing the speaker at Ramona’s head.

“Ow!” Ramona was knocked off the back of the raft and fell underwater.

“Hey!” Will stopped paddling, grabbed Ramona, and pulled her back up. “That’s a foul!”

Violet whistled innocently.

“Two can play at that game, Violet!” Natalia stood up and grabbed the speaker from her own raft.

“I didn’t do anything!” Violet threw up her hands in surrender.

“Oh and who did?” Natalia asked. “Jesse?”

“What?” Jesse, who had been blissfully unaware of the conflict ensuing, asked.

Natalia rolled her eyes and threw the speaker in the direction of Violet. Violet dodged the speaker, but her team’s progress had slowed.

“Land ahoy!” Britney exclaimed, seated in the center of her team’s raft, giggling happily to herself.

The distracted contestants all braced themselves upon finding that the shore was mere inches away from them now. Digit and Brad stood in the center of the beach. The rafts crashed into the sand and the contestants ran onto the shore, some more wet than others.

“Congrats on finishing part one of the challenge!” Brad said.

“And welcome to part two.” Digit added.

“Upon closer inspection-”

“Closer inspection of what?” Veronica questioned.

“The Populars won the first part of the challenge.” Brad finished.

“Never mind.” Veronica said.

A few of the Freaks glared at Violet.

“We were losing anyway.” Violet muttered.

“Populars, here is your map.” Digit tossed a rolled-up map to Natalia.

“And Freaks, here are you handcuffs.” Brad patted a box that sat beside him.

“Ooh, kinky.” Natalia teased as the Freaks groaned.

“Is that why Digit and Brad won’t let us near the interns’ quarters?” Will whispered to Natalia.

Natalia covered her mouth to stop herself from bursting out laughing.

***

“I knew there was a reason I wanted to keep him around.” Natalia said in the confessional.

***

“Like we said before, you guys get a disadvantage.” Digit said. “And that disadvantage is being handcuffed to one other member of your team.”

“And you don’t even get to pick who.” Brad added as he began handcuffing the Freaks to whichever teammate they were standing the closest to.

“You know what?” Ally said as she was handcuffed to Jesse. “I think this could be a great team bonding exercise.”

“I don’t think anyone on this team exercises all that much.” Lyla said as she was handcuffed to Quinn.

Casey and Dominic were the next pair to be handcuffed. Violet was already glaring at Peter, the only remaining member of the team.

“We’re not even handcuffed yet!” Peter threw up his hands in exasperation.

Brad grabbed one of Peter’s hands and cuffed it to Violet’s.

“Well, now we’re handcuffed.” Peter sighed as Violet’s glare intensified.

The Populars were all still on the beach, laughing at the Freaks as they were being handcuffed.

“Freaks, you guys still get a map too.” Digit handed a map to Ally. “Now get going! Your teammates are counting on you…”

The two teams quickly looked over their maps before dashing into the forest. The two teams went separate ways. After running past a flurry of trees, the teams found themselves standing in front of a swamp.

“I don’t think that was there last night.” Ramona said cautiously.

“No biggie.” Will said. “There has to be some way through it.”

The swamp was covered in sharp branches and wet, slippery patches of moss. The murky water seemed to go fairly deep as well and what lurked underneath was still unknown.

“Right.” Natalia sighed, unconvinced. “No biggie. Let’s split up and look for a way through.”

The Populars dispersed, but still stayed within the same area of each other.

“Are you okay?” Britney appeared next to Jared. “You look kinda sick.”

“I’m not sick.” Jared said. “Just worried.”

“About what?” Britney asked.

“Brit, one of our teammates got buried alive!” Jared said.

“Oh yeah.” Britney shrugged. “What else?”

“What do you mean what else?” Jared asked.

“Well, everyone’s kinda worried about that.” Britney said. “But you look extra worried.”

“Don’t worry about it, Brit.” Jared turned to walk away.

“Is it about Wendy?” Britney asked.

Jared slowly began to turn back around.

“I heard some rumors about that.” Britney continued. “I didn’t really get the big deal though.”

“We’re on different teams, Brit.” Jared said. “Well, we were.”

“Then why’d you like her?” Britney’s head was tilted to the side and her eyes were wide with curiosity.

“Brit, I’m not saying this to be mean, but why do you care?”

Britney simply shrugged.

“I felt like I could be myself around her.” Jared finally said.

“Why can’t you be yourself around us?”

“Look around and see for yourself.” Jared turned again and walked away, leaving the blonde alone in her state of quizzical wonder.

Nearby, Veronica had gone along with Bree and Ramona to search.

“This is just like the scavenger hunt!” Ramona said in an effort to lighten the mood.

“Yeah.” Bree said through gritted teeth, casting a glare at Veronica.

Veronica stuck her tongue out at Bree in response. Ramona, walking slightly ahead of the two, didn’t see any of this.

“Aw, Bree, don’t worry.” Ramona slung her arm around Bree and pulled her closer. “We’re gonna find Gavin.”

“Oh, um, yeah.” Bree stammered, her cheeks turning slightly red.

“I know you guys are good friends.” Ramona continued.

Veronica moved next to Bree with a smirk. “Just friends, huh?”

“Okay, I’m gonna stop you right there.” Bree glared at Veronica. “First of all-”

Bree stopped her sentence after Veronica had fallen face first into a pit of the swamp. Ramona quickly went to help her up while Bree silently laughed at her.

Suddenly, Ramona gasped, dropping Veronica back into the swamp.

“Veronica, you found a path!” Ramona exclaimed.

Just ahead of where Veronica fell was a clear enough path through the swamp.

“Just like the scavenger hunt.” Bree chuckled.

“Does that mean we’re not gonna find anything else?” Veronica asked, picking her own head up.

“No, it just means you’re not gonna find anything else.” Bree patted the top of Veronica’s now mud-covered head.

“If we win this challenge,” Veronica said. “I can live with that.”

“That’s the spirit!” Ramona said. “Now let’s get the others!”

The Freaks, with their added disadvantage, were having a harder time getting through the swamp. Lyla and Quinn, in particular, were struggling to find balance with Quinn pulling Lyla’s rather lanky body down every time she went to turn the wheels on her wheelchair.

“Sorry!” Quinn said for the umpteenth time since the second part of the challenge had started.

“It’s okay.” Lyla said, her body now tilted with her handcuffed side leaning down towards Quinn. “Would it be easier if I just pushed your chair?”

“I guess so.” Quinn shrugged.

It was still an awkward arrangement. Quinn’s handcuffed arm had to cross over her chest to meet Lyla’s hand on the back of her chair.

“Is this okay?” Lyla asked before beginning to push Quinn.

“It’s the best we’re gonna get.” Quinn sighed. “It would be even better if we weren’t in a swamp.” She added as her wheels got stuck in another mud patch.

“You know what? This is actually kinda nice.” Lyla said, leaning over Quinn and looking down at her face. “You and I never really talked before.”

“And you’ve been talking to Ally too much.” Quinn cracked a slight smile.

“Oh god, you’re right.” Lyla’s face lifted in a look of disgust. “I’m never optimistic.”

“Maybe homeschool’s starting to rub off on you too.” Quinn added with a smirk.

“Jesse?” Lyla asked, stealing a glance at the boy in question as Ally pulled him out of a mud pit nearby. “What do you mean?”

“You’re always hanging out with him!” Quinn said. “I’m usually not one for… romance.” She shuddered in disgust at the word. “But that’s just a fact.”

“Oh yeah?” Lyla chuckled a little. “I’ve never seen you away from the other guys on our team.”

“That’s different.” Quinn said.

“How so?”

“Because we’re just friends.” Quinn said. “You definitely have a thing for Jesse. Admit it.”

“Only after you admit which one of the guys you have a thing for.” Lyla said. “It could be any of them!”

“First of all, one of them is gay, so-”

“Which one?”

“That’s not my business to tell.” Quinn attempted to cross her arms, but failed to due to the handcuffs.

Peter, who had been listening to their entire conversation from a few feet ahead, turned around and mouthed “It’s me.” before winking at the two girls.

***

“For the record, the saying ‘all theater kids are gay’ is utterly false. I would know.” Peter said in the confessional. “It’s just where all the gays go! It’s a weird kind of safe haven. I mean, it’s kinda hard to pick on someone for being gay when you’re all wearing sequined fish onesies and performing a rendition of ‘Under the Sea’.” He paused for a moment. “Okay, so maybe my experiences aren’t universal, but you get my point!”

***

“Are you two done failing the Bechdel test?” Violet, who had also been listening to their whole conversation, turned around and snapped. “Friendly reminder that one of the guys you’re gossiping about is buried alive.”

Quinn’s eyes went wide and she froze in her place.

“Like you actually care.” Lyla snapped back.

Violet rolled her eyes and stomped away, dragging Peter with her. The sight was almost comical given that Peter was almost a full foot taller than Violet.

“You okay?” Lyla asked, slightly nudging Quinn.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Quinn sighed.

“You know this conversation isn’t over.” Lyla said with a smirk.

“Yes, it is.” Quinn said. “I don’t want a boyfriend. I don’t need a boyfriend.”

“No one needs a boyfriend.” Lyla laughed. “But don’t think it’s so impossible.”

“Why do you do that?” Peter asked Violet as they trekked deeper into the swamp.

“Do what?” Violet asked, uninterested.

“Snap.” Peter said. “Make people feel bad for no reason.”

“No reason?” Violet said. “This is literally a life or death matter and they’re-”

“Trying their best in a bad situation.” Peter cut her off. “We all are.”

The two continued on in silence for a moment before Peter gathered the courage to say what else was on his mind.

“This also isn’t the first time it’s happened.”

Violet turned her head to look at him for the first time since they had started talking and raised an eyebrow.

“You snap a lot, Violet.” Peter continued. “And it’s hurting people. It’s hurting our team.”

“Our team?” Violet scoffed. “You really think us being a team on some shallow reality show is gonna mean anything a year or two down the line?”

“It could.” Peter said. “If you let it.”

“Sorry, but you’re all a little too optimistic for me.” Violet said.

“Look, all I’m trying to say is, people who hurt other people usually do it because they’ve been hurt too.” Peter said. “And you seem like you got a lot of anger built up inside you and I don’t want-”

Violet stopped walking and turned her whole body to face Peter.

“That might be how things are in your stupid plays or whatever you do, but that’s not how things work in the real world.” Violet glared at him. “People suck.”

“Prove it.” Peter challenged.

All of the anger that was once there seemed to wash over Violet and was replaced by a more sad, hurt expression.

“Just stay out of my business.” Violet muttered before turning away from Peter and continuing to trudge through the swamp.

Some distance from the Freaks, the Populars had run into a new problem along their path through the swamp.

“What is that thing?” Britney whispered, huddling herself between Natalia and Will.

“I think it’s a crocodile.” Natalia replied.

“It could be an alligator.” Will said.

“Same thing.” Natalia shrugged.

The unknown, but large reptilian creature was lying across the clear path that the Populars had sought out. The whole team was hiding behind a tree and watching the creature cautiously.

“I think it’s sleeping.” Jared said.

“That’s good.” Ramona said. “Maybe we can just sneak past it?”

“Maybe.” Natalia said. “But we can’t go all at once.”

“So, who’s going first?” Britney asked.

“I volunteer Veronica.” Bree said.

“What?” Veronica jumped, her voice going slightly above the whispers everyone else was using.

The whole group shushed her. Veronica folded her arms and scowled in response.

“Ladies first?” Will eyed Natalia.

“Hell no.” Natalia glared at him.

“It was worth a shot.” Will sighed. “Jared?”

“Right behind you.” Jared nodded.

Will and Jared, currently the only two guys of the Populars, crept out from behind the tree and slowly started making their way towards the gator.

“Please, take your time.” Natalia’s voice, even as a whisper, still dripped with sarcasm. “Gavin’s only probably running out of oxygen.”

The two picked up their pace ever-so slightly.

Veronica and Bree shared a look before they both quietly started making fake choking noises. Ramona frowned, but Natalia and Britney had to stop themselves from laughing.

“Guys, that’s not funny.” Ramona swatted Bree’s arm.

Bree immediately stopped, but Veronica got in a few final coughs before Will turned around and flipped her off.

Jared took the lead, ignoring the girls behind him and focusing only on the animal in front of him. He started to move around the front of the gator, careful not to slip or make any noise.

“Wait a second.” Britney said. “If all of the animals here are robotic, then wouldn’t that mean…”

Jared was now directly in front of the head of the animal with Will trailing a few feet behind him. Jared looked at the still sleeping gator head and breathed a sigh of relief.

The gator’s eyes suddenly snapped open revealing glowing red eyes that did not look happy.

“Oh!” Jared stepped back, startled. “Um… good morning?”

The gator snarled, showing its many sharp teeth. It started to lean back, looking like it was ready to pounce.

“Jared, look out!” Will shouted.

Jared managed to roll out of the way just as the gator lunged at him.

“Motion sensors!” Britney exclaimed. “Robots don’t need sleep, they just rest until something sets off their motion sensors!”

“That’s good to know.” Natalia said. “Would’ve been better to know five minutes ago, but good to know.”

“Um, guys.” Jared said as the gator turned towards him again. “A little help please?”

“Hit it on the nose!” Bree yelled.

“That’s sharks!” Jared yelled back.

“Same thing!” Bree said.

Will yanked a sturdy looking branch off of a nearby tree and charged at the gator from behind. Standing directly over its tail, Will swung the branch down onto the gator’s nose.

The gator froze for only a second before slamming its tail into Will’s legs, sending him falling to the ground. Will screamed as the gator jumped on top of him, opening its jaw to take a bite. Will jammed the branch into the gator’s mouth the best he could, but it wouldn’t hold for very long.

“Jared, duck!” Ramona shouted.

Jared, who was standing directly to the side of Will and the gator, dropped to the ground and covered his head with his hands.

Ramona ran towards the gator and kicked it in the stomach as hard as she could. The gator flipped off of Will, over Jared, and landed with its belly side up. Its tiny legs tried, and failed, to get itself upright and just flailed in the air hopelessly. While the gator was airborne, it had coughed up a key.

“Is there anything you can’t do?” Will asked Ramona, still dazed on the ground.

“Well sure, there’s lots of things I can’t do.” Ramona blushed a little. “But I guess I’m pretty good at soccer.”

“Pretty good?” Jared lifted his head. “You just punted an alligator!”

“Or a crocodile.” Bree added, picking up the key that the gator had spit out.

“Whatever it is, everyone keep an eye out. We won’t be much help to Gavin if we’re all gator food.” Natalia said. “And hold on to that key. We’ll probably need it later.”

“Are we staying together for the rest of the challenge?” Veronica asked. “Or are we splitting up again.”

Natalia turned to face her and almost had a moment of déjà vu from the day they first met.

“For this challenge,” Natalia said. “We’re staying together.”

At this point, some pairs of the Freaks were starting to make it to the end of the swamp.

“I got you!” Ally said as she pulled Jesse free from the final mud pit of the swamp.

“Thanks.” Jesse blushed slightly. “Never really seen a swamp in person.”

“That’s alright. Most people haven’t.” Ally waved a hand and continued walking. “I only knew how to maneuver it because I went on a duck tour once!”

“A duck tour?” Jesse asked.

“Yeah!” Ally said. “You just walk around a marsh for a couple hours and look at ducks. They even gave us little kazoos in the shape of duck bills at the end!”

“That sounds awesome!” Jesse said.

“It was!” Ally said. “I’ll definitely take you on one someday.”

“Already looking forward to it.” Jesse smiled. “So, how do you think the rest of our team is doing?”

Almost as if on cue, the two heard a familiar voice coming up behind them.

“Ooh, I got a good one!” Dominic said. “What do you call an alligator in a vest?”

“An investigator.” Casey, whose sanity appeared to be draining with each joke, sighed.

“That’s it!” Dominic said. “You’re good.”

“You already told that joke thirty minutes ago.” Casey stated.

“Hey, it’s my favorite Ally-gator!” Dominic exclaimed as him and Casey joined the other pair on the outskirts of the swamp.

Ally blushed while Casey visibly cringed at Dominic’s one-liner.

“It’s a good thing we made it out because I think I’m fresh out of swamp jokes.” Dominic said.

“But they were so good.” Casey said unenthusiastically.

“Do you guys know where any of the others are?” Jesse asked.

“They’re a little further back, but they should make it here soon with no trouble.” Casey said.

“We should probably keep going then.” Ally said.

The four continued down the brief clearing before finding a tangled forest of thorns before them.

“Shoot.” Dominic muttered. “Now I gotta think of some thorn jokes.”

“Like how you’re a thorn in my side?” Casey offered.

“Hey!” Dominic almost looked offended, but instead his face turned to a smile. “That was a good one!”

Casey winced as Dominic slapped him on the back.

“How do we get through here?” Jesse asked.

“There has to be some sort of opening somewhere.” Ally said.

“Or we could just push on through.” Dominic suggested.

“Great idea, Dom.” Casey said sarcastically. “Lead the way.”

“Okay!” Dominic started to pull Casey through into the thorn forest, directly through a cluster of thorny branches.

A couple of winces of pain left Dominic and a fountain of muttered curse words left Casey as they entered the thorn forest, being poked and prodded on all sides.

“Um…” Ally watched the two struggle past the first few branches and eventually disappear into the thicket. “Good luck with that, but I think we’re gonna go look for a clearer path!”

Jesse aggressively nodded in agreement before the two set off in another direction.

“You think they’ll be okay?” Jesse asked.

“I’m sure they’ll be fine.” Ally smiled.

A loud “ow!” came from the thorn bush.

“I’m sure they’ll be… mostly fine.” Ally chuckled nervously.

The two continued on and eventually found a relatively clear path.

“Hey, Ally?” Jesse asked. “What’s high school like?”

“High school is… a lot.” Ally sighed. “I know that probably sounds silly to you.”

“No, I believe you.” Jesse said. “I’ve heard some nasty stories from just about everyone on our team. I kinda thought out of everyone on our team though, you would’ve had a more positive experience.”

“Well, there are positive things about high school.” Ally smiled, but even Jesse could tell it was slightly forced. “You get to make friends and learn a lot. There are tons of clubs to join too! You know, I used to play the clarinet. I was pretty good at it too.” At this point Ally was just rambling.

“Right.” Jesse nodded.

“And I changed the subject. Sorry.” Ally sighed again. “Can I tell you a secret? Because I think it’ll make you feel better.”

“Of course!” Jesse said.

“I was almost homeschooled too.” Ally said.

“How come?” Jesse asked.

“My mom thought it would be a good idea after we moved instead of sending me into a new school with new people.” Ally said. “I almost agreed, but that seemed like taking the easy way out.”

“Easy way out of what?”

“Oh, just regular high school stuff.” Ally waved a hand and giggled, but her body tensed up.

“Well, thank you.” Jesse said. “That did make me feel a little more… normal.”

“Jesse, none of us are normal. That’s why we’re all here together.” Ally wrapped her arm around Jesse and pulled him into a side hug. “And that’s why you’ll always belong here.”

“Thanks, Ally.” Jesse smiled. “You’re the best!”

“Right.” Ally’s gaze dropped to the ground. “Anytime.”

Meanwhile, Natalia had stayed true to her word and the Populars had continued their search together.

“All I’m saying is it literally always happens.” Veronica said.

“No, it doesn’t.” Jared said.

The two were having a light argument in the back of the group.

“It’s inevitable!” Veronica said.

“What’s inevitable?” Natalia asked from the front of the pack.

“The twin fight.” Veronica said.

“Can you please tell her she’s being ridiculous?” Jared asked.

“Twin fight?” Ramona turned and raised an eyebrow.

The twin fight.” Veronica said. “Every time a reality show has a pair of twins, they always get into a huge fight.”

“Okay, that doesn’t mean our twins are fighting right now.” Jared said.

“Why not?” Veronica said. “They’re buried alive! I’d be a little more irritable than usual if I was buried alive.”

“Twin fights do usually happen around this time in other shows too.” Britney added.

“You’re on her side, Brit?” Jared asked.

Britney shrugged and began twirling her hair around her finger.

“I don’t know.” Ramona said. “They don’t seem like the type to get into fights.”

“Which brings us to the other golden rule of reality tv,” Natalia said. “Always expect the unexpected.”

“And beware the nice ones.” Veronica added.

“Don’t be so dramatic.” Bree rolled her eyes. “The twins are gonna be fine.”

“Assuming we find them in time.” Will said.

“Well then, enough with the chit chat.” Natalia said. “Let’s keep moving.”

Eventually, Dominic and Casey finally broke through the end of the thick thorn forest and fell into another clearing.

“That was fun.” Dominic said, smiling.

The two were covered in scratches and their clothes now had tiny holes torn across them.

“Yeah, tons of fun.” Casey said sarcastically as he dusted himself off.

“Hey, why was the thorn kicked out of the rose?” Dominic asked.

“Okay, I’ll bite.” Casey sighed. “Why?”

“Because it was being a prick!” Dominic said.

“Eh, not your best.” Casey admitted.

“I’m working with what I got.” Dominic shrugged.

“Dom, those thorns scratched your face up pretty bad.” Casey said after getting a better look at his friend.

A fairly long scratch went across Dominic’s cheek and was starting to bleed.

“Oh no, not my face!” Dominic said jokingly.

Casey lightly chuckled and pulled a band-aid out of his pocket. “I stole a few of these from the first aid kit after the dodgeball challenge. Figured they’d come in handy eventually.”

Casey wiped the blood off as best as he could with his sleeve and gently started putting the band-aid over the scratch.

“Dude, are we having a moment?” Dominic said.

“Just shut up and let me put a band-aid on you.” Casey responded.

“I was just joking.” Dominic said as Casey finished pressing the band-aid over the scratch.

“What made you want to be a comedian anyway?” Casey asked, crumpling the band-aid wrapper shoving it into his pocket.

“I like making people smile!” Dominic said.

“No wonder you and Ally get along so well. She’s always smiling.” Casey said. “Well, I guess the twins are buried somewhere around here.”

“Oh yeah! Almost forgot about that.” Dominic said. “Garret! Garret, where are you?!”

Dominic cupped his hands over his mouth as he continued to yell, dragging Casey around the clearing with him. A few feet away from them, Casey noticed a faint banging noise coming from underground.

“Casey, look!” Dominic pointed at a marked X in the ground a few feet away from them in the opposite direction of the banging.

“I don’t know.” Casey said. “I heard something the other way.”

“We could split up?” Dominic suggested.

“No, we can’t.” Casey said, holding up their handcuffed arms.

“Right.” Dominic nodded.

“And we don’t really have time to wait around for the others.” Casey continued.

“That’s true.” Dominic said. “Well, your call.”

Casey nervously looked between the X on the ground and the spot the mysterious noises came from before sighing and dragging Dominic to one of the spots.

As soon as Casey and Dominic began to dig, they heard more voices coming from the thorn forest. The Populars emerged, some complaining about their various scratches more than others.

“They’re here already?” Dominic said.

“I’m more surprised that they’re all together.” Casey said.

The Populars did a quick scan of the area and ignored the two Freaks that were already digging, choosing the other possible location in the opposite direction.

“We beat the Freaks here!” Britney cheered.

“We didn’t win yet.” Natalia said. “Now start digging!”

All seven of the Populars began to dig, moving at a much faster pace than Casey and Dominic on the other end of the clearing.

“Where are the others?” Casey asked.

Almost as if on cue, Ally and Jesse emerged from the thorns, followed closely by Violet and Peter.

“Hey, how come the other team is digging somewhere completely different?” Violet asked as soon as all of the present Freaks had gathered around Casey and Dominic.

“I’m telling you, I heard them.” Casey said.

Casey’s statement was punctuated by a loud bang coming from directly underneath him.

“Alright, Casey!” Peter gave his friend a high five.

“We didn’t win yet.” Ally said as she started to dig.

The teams were now moving at an even pace, but only one team had found a hard chest while digging.

“How deep does this hole go?” Britney asked, wiping sweat off her brow.

Britney looked down into the hole her team had dug and saw that, while the hole was fairly deep, it was empty.

“Anyone feel like checking in on the Freaks?” Natalia asked.

“I’ll go.” Bree dusted off her hands and snaked through a few stray thorn bushes towards where the Freaks were digging.

On the other end of the clearing, Peter and Violet pulled a wooden chest out of their hole as quietly as possible, using the stray thorn bushes to block the other team’s line of sight.

“Great work, guys!” Ally went to open the chest, but the top would not budge.

“It’s locked!” Violet kicked the side of the chest.

A faint yell could be heard from inside the chest.

“Sorry!” Ally whisper-shouted into the chest.

At this point, Bree had made it to the other side of the clearing unnoticed. She smirked as she looked down at the key in her hand she still had from the gator.

But her smile faded when she saw the final pair of Freaks emerge from the thorn forest.

“Looking for this?” Lyla held another key with one hand and pushed Quinn’s wheelchair with the other.

Bree looked back in the direction of her team and sighed, seeing that they were still obliviously digging their hole to nowhere.

Ally unlocked the chest and swung the lid open. The rest of the Freaks gathered around the chest.

“Draw four.”

“Screw you!”

The twins were sitting in the rather roomy chest playing a game of Uno.

“Garret!” Peter grabbed Garret, pulled him out of the chest, and into a bear hug.

“What happened?” Garret asked, once he was back on ground level.

“Digit and Brad drugged us.” Casey said.

“With pie!” Dominic added.

“Why are you all handcuffed?” Garret asked.

“Long story!” The Freaks all responded.

Seeing that the Freaks were all preoccupied, Bree abandoned her hiding spot and leaned her head into the chest.

“Congrats on not being dead.” Bree smiled.

“Eh, Garret still murdered me in Uno.” Gavin smiled back.

Bree grabbed Gavin’s hands and pulled him out of the chest.

“And where is our team of geniuses?” Gavin asked sarcastically.

“Digging a hole about 50 feet in the wrong direction.” Bree said.

“My heroes.” Gavin rolled his eyes.

“Hey, we fought an alligator to get to you.” Bree said.

“You mean Ramona fought an alligator?” Gavin said.

“How’d you know?” Bree asked.

“I’m just that good.” Gavin smirked.

At this point, the Populars had noticed the commotion at the other end of the clearing. They all watched Bree approach the group with a dirt-covered Gavin.

“Damn it!” Natalia yelled.

“I missed you too, Nat.” Gavin said.

Natalia sighed and pulled Gavin into a hug.

“I’m still pissed we lost.” Natalia muttered.

“I know.” Gavin patted her back.

“Group hug!” Britney exclaimed, glomping the two in an even bigger hug.

The rest of the Populars, although disappointed about their loss, still joined the group hug.

***

“I must have lost an unhealthy amount of air in that chest,” Gavin said in the confessional. “Because it actually seems like my team doesn’t completely hate each other. It’s a miracle! I should get buried alive more often.”

***

“I hate to break up this touching moment, but Populars, you lose.” Digit said as her and Brad joined the two teams in the clearing. “Again.”

“Hey!” Will interjected. “We won last time!”

Digit looked unimpressed. “I’ll see you at the campfire ceremony tonight.”

“I’ll bring the leftover pie!” Brad added.

The surrounding contestants booed him. Brad laughed as the two co-hosts began to walk away.

“I’m afraid our host and hostess might have lost their minds.” Ally said.

Quinn shrugged. “Can’t lose what you never had.”

“I told you they wouldn’t last a week.” Casey added.

“I heard that!” Digit shouted over her shoulder.

“Hey! What are we supposed to do about the handcuffs?” Violet yelled, waving her arm that was still chained to Peter.

“Figure it out yourselves!” Digit said.

“The key to the chest unlocks those too!” Brad said as Digit harshly nudged him in the ribs.

The Freaks started unlocking each other’s handcuffs as the Populars started heading back to the cabins to discuss their impending elimination ceremony.

Bree, Ramona, and Gavin gathered on the steps of their cabin while the rest of their teammates went into their respective sides.

“So, how was being buried alive?” Ramona asked.

“I wouldn’t recommend it.” Gavin said. “I heard you beat up an alligator?”

“Oh, that was nothing.” Ramona blushed.

“Nothing?” Bree gently shoved her shoulder. “That was awesome!”

Ramona blushed even harder.

“So,” Bree clapped her hands together. “Who are we voting off?”

“Do you think the others are gonna vote me off?” Gavin asked. “You know, for getting buried alive.”

“I doubt it.” Bree said. “We may be terrible people, but we’re not that terrible.”

“I actually thought we all did a good job getting along today.” Ramona smiled.

“Correction, everyone except Ramona is a terrible person.” Bree said.

“You guys aren’t terrible.” Ramona said, wrapping her arms around the two. “I think you guys are great!”

“And this is just another reason why Ramona is the best.” Gavin said.

“Oh, stop it.” Ramona somehow blushed even harder.

The three sat together, enjoying the uncommon calmness. Eventually though, Bree noticed something in the distance and sighed.

“What is he doing?” Bree said, breaking the silence.

In the distance, the three saw Jared walking by himself on the dock.

“He’s still a little bummed about Wendy.” Gavin said.

“What got him so obsessed with Wendy in the first place?” Bree asked.

“That’s private.” Gavin said.

“Well, no one can help if we don’t know what’s wrong!” Bree said, her voice rising.

“Guys!” Ramona removed her arms from their shoulders and put her hands up in between Bree and Gavin. “Fighting doesn’t fix anything.”

“You’re right.” Gavin leaned back and sighed. “Sorry, I’m still a little on edge after being buried alive-

“I’m sorry too!” Bree cut him off. “I just don’t want to see the guy get the boot. He has been extra distracted lately.”

“I thought he did good today!” Ramona said.

“He almost got eaten by an alligator.” Bree said.

“Ouch.” Gavin winced.

“That wasn’t his fault.” Ramona crossed her arms.

“Look, we’re clearly not gonna agree on anything,” Bree said. “So, for tonight’s elimination, let’s just let the chips fall where they may.”

“Friendly reminder that I’m probably up for elimination.” Gavin said.

“Well, obviously we aren’t gonna vote for you.” Bree said.

“Yeah!” Ramona agreed.

Gavin sighed and stood up. “Fine.”

“Where are you going?” Ramona asked.

“The docks.”

Bree and Ramona watched Gavin walk off towards the docks. Bree leaned back and sighed once he was out of earshot.

“Are you worried about Gavin?” Ramona asked.

“No.” Bree shook her head. “Why would I be?”

“Well, I know you guys have been talking a lot lately-”

“Ramona, you do know he’s gay, right?” Bree asked.

“Oh!” Ramona’s face showed that she clearly did not know. “Wait, does Gavin like Jared?”

“I doubt it.” Bree could barely stifle her laugh. “I don’t think Jared’s really his type. I think Gavin’s just trying to be his wingman. And failing miserably.”

“I don’t think he’s doing that bad.” Ramona said. “I mean, it’s not Gavin’s fault Wendy got eliminated.”

“True,” Bree said. “But stuff like that’s inevitable on shows like this.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Ramona nodded. “Should we check and see if they’re okay?”

Bree shook her head. “Give them some space and they’ll be fine. Gavin’s the only one who really knows what’s going on in that guy’s head anyway.”

“I never really pegged Jared as the type to have a lot of secrets.” Ramona said.

“Everyone has secrets.” Bree said. “Even you and me.”

The two sat in silence for a moment, watching the sunset.

“What are your secrets?” Ramona finally asked.

“Ask me in a week or two and maybe I’ll tell you.” Bree smiled. “But I’d rather die than ever tell the rest of our teammates my secrets, so take that as a compliment.”

“Okay, I will.” Ramona was smiling too.

“Wanna go for a walk?”

“What about the elimination ceremony?”

“We can worry about that later.”

Bree stood up and held out a hand for Ramona. Ramona took her hand and they set off towards the perimeter of the clearing.

***

“I don’t even know why I didn’t tell Ramona I was gay.” Bree sighed and hugged her knees close to her chest. “I’m not even keeping it a secret! I’m being really obvious about it, actually.” She started to bury her face into her knees. “It’s just, I’ve flirted with a lot of girls. I’ve dated, broken hearts, even thought I fell in love at some point or another.” Bree’s cheek turned red with blush. “But no girl has ever been like Ramona…”

***

As soon as Bree and Ramona had departed from the front steps of the Populars’ cabin, Natalia and Will exited the doors of their respective sides. They both stopped in the doorway and looked at each other.

“Who are the guys voting for?” Natalia asked.

“No clue.” Will said. “I was the only guy in the cabin.”

The two looked out in the distance and could just make out two figures sitting by the dock.

“I guess that’s where Jared and Gavin went.” Will said.

“Or that’s where Bree and Ramona went.” Natalia said. “I don’t know where they are either, but wherever it is, I’m sure they’re together.”

“Do you and the other girls know who you’re voting for?” Will asked.

“Yeah.” Natalia said. “But you’re not gonna like it.”

“If you’re thinking what I think you are,” Will sighed, looking out at the docks. “Then I’d actually have to agree with you.”

“Oh,” Natalia said with a look of surprise. “Great!” She turned around to go back into her cabin.

“Wait!” Will said, stopping Natalia. “Can you just, like, whisper who you’re voting for in my ear? So I know?”

“Oh, Will,” A smirk formed on Natalia’s lips. “You’re gonna have to buy me dinner first if you want me to whisper sweet nothings in your ear-”

“Not what I meant!” Will said. “No wonder you and Britney get along so well.”

Natalia playfully rolled her eyes and leaned over, whispering into Will’s ear. Once she was done, she lightly grabbed his arm to steady herself. Will winced at the contact.

“What happened to you?” Natalia asked, grabbing Will’s arm from the wrist to get a better look. “Will!”

Natalia used her free hand to lightly smack Will’s good arm. Will’s other arm had been covered in long, bloody scratches.

“Was that from the gator?” Natalia asked. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“I didn’t even notice at first.” Will shrugged her off. “It’s probably only bloody because of the thorn bush. Besides, we had more important things to worry about-”

“Yeah, like digging a hole in the ground.” Natalia said. “Which means you probably got dirt and god-knows-what-else in your cuts.”

“I’m fine!” Will insisted.

“This,” Natalia held up his arm again. “Is how you get an infection.”

“I’ll clean it up with the first aid kit after the elimination ceremony.” Will said.

“You better.” Natalia warned. “We need you, Will.” She turned and went back into her cabin.

Will leaned against the wall of the cabin and sighed.

Meanwhile, the Freaks had all eventually gathered in the girls’ side of their cabin.

“Where’d you guys find the key?” Jesse asked Lyla and Quinn with wide eyes.

“Well, it wasn’t easy.” Quinn recounted.

“We were surrounded by a gang of angry alligators.” Lyla said.

“And the swamp was slowly sucking us in.” Quinn added.

“But Quinn took out the gators.” Lyla said, making punches at the air.

“And Lyla pulled us to safety after grabbing the key from the final gator’s jaws.” Quinn finished with a smirk.

“Really?” Jesse asked incredulously.

“Really?” Casey echoed, sounding less impressed and more skeptical.

Shortly after their altercation with Violet, Lyla and Quinn found themselves on the border of the swamp and the thorn forest.

“How are we supposed to get through there?” Lyla asked, peering into the thick branches filled with thorns.

She carefully reached her hand out towards the thicket, but quickly pulled away, wincing with pain, after pricking her finger.

“Nice.” Quinn said sarcastically.

“Shut up!” In her frustration, Lyla kicked the base of a nearby tree. She also winced with pain afterwards, clutching her now injured foot with her hands.

Before Quinn could throw another sarcastic jab, something fell from the tree and landed on her head.

“Nice!” Quinn said genuinely, now holding a key.

“Really.” Lyla and Quinn high-fived.

Lyla held back another wince after using the hand she had pricked on the thorns while Quinn suppressed a giggle.

“Attention all Populars!” Brad’s voice rang out over the intercoms. “Please begin making your way to the campfire for your elimination ceremony!”

Now Lyla was the one giggling, along with a few of her other teammates.

“Don’t laugh.” Peter gently nudged Lyla’s shoulder while the others began talking amongst themselves. “That could be us tomorrow.”

“But it’s not us tonight.” Lyla said with a smile.

“Well, look at you, being optimistic.” Peter smiled too and the Freaks continued to enjoy their night of peace.

The Populars, however, were not as fortunate. They all eventually met on the same path to take them to the campfire.

Along the way, Britney grabbed Ramona and started to babble about whatever nonsense she could conjure from her mind. While Ramona was distracted, Natalia grabbed Bree and whispered something in her ear. All Bree did was nod in response.

“Welcome back, Populars!” Digit said as the Populars took their usual seats around the campfire. “You guys know the drill by now, go vote.”

“And take some leftover pie!” Brad added, holding two blueberry pies.

“No!” The Populars all shouted.

“Tough crowd.” Brad muttered before tossing the pies into the fire.

“Was that necessary?” Digit asked.

“What else was I supposed to do with them?” Brad argued.

While the co-hosts bickered, the Populars went into the confessional booth to vote.

***

“This still doesn’t feel right,” Will said as he cast his vote. “But I don’t know what else to do.”

***

“I feel like I haven’t talked a lot today.” Britney said as she doodled on the piece of paper she was supposed to be casting her vote on. “Look! I drew my pet gerbil!” She held up the paper to reveal a cartoonish drawing of a gerbil and the name of one of her teammates written in big bubble letters.

***

“I’m sorry.” Bree sighed as she cast her vote.

***

“The votes are in.” Brad said, now holding all the papers. “And thank you, Britney, for your lovely drawing of a… gerbil?”

“His name is Sprinkles!” Britney exclaimed.

“Of course it is.” Digit said. “And for her artistic skills alone, Britney gets the first marshmallow of the night.”

Britney giggled as Brad tossed her a marshmallow.

“The rest of the ladies are safe tonight too.” Digit said.

Natalia, Veronica, Bree, and Ramona all caught their marshmallows. The three remaining boys looked at each other nervously.

“Gavin,” Digit began. “You’re safe.”

Gavin let out a sigh of relief after catching his marshmallow.

“We were actually gonna give you immunity after the whole burying you alive thing.” Brad said. “But then we forgot to.”

“Thanks?” Gavin responded.

“And our final marshmallow goes to…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“Will.” Digit said. “Are you shocked, Jared?”

“Not really.” Jared shrugged. “But this was fun while it lasted. I’ll miss you guys. Even Veronica.”

“Hey!” Veronica crossed her arms and pouted.

“I’m sorry, man.” Will tossed his marshmallow aside and pulled Jared into a hug.

“It’s alright, I get it.” Jared said. “Just make sure you keep the rest of them safe from any more gators.”

Gavin was the next to pull Jared into a hug. “I’m sorry too.”

“Don’t be.” Jared said. “You’re one of the best friends I ever had.”

“Hey, Jared,” Natalia started. “Can you please go ask that girl out now?”

The rest of the Populars all cheered in agreement as Jared began walking down the dock.

“Alright!” Jared said as he stepped into the canoe. “I’ll do it!”

The Populars’ cheering increased as Jared rowed away. Once he was out of sight, the team began making their way back to the cabins.

“You okay?” Bree walked next to Gavin down the trail. They were at the end of the group.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Gavin said. “I just wish there was more I could’ve done.”

“You didn’t like like him, right?” Bree asked.

“Bree, if I did like him,” Gavin said. “I would not have spent the last week trying to set him up with Wendy.”

“I figured, but I thought I’d make sure.” Bree said. “So, what was his mysterious deal anyway? Why risk it all for a girl on the other team?”

“You know how much our team focuses on image, reputation.” Gavin said. “He felt like he didn’t have to hide anything about himself when he was with Wendy.”

“That’s it?” Bree asked. “He blew a million dollars for that?”

“Everyone has secrets.” Gavin said. “And everyone needs someone to trust with those secrets.”

Bree stopped in her tracks.

“Are you okay?” Gavin asked.

“Yeah.” Bree lied. “I think I’m gonna go for a walk.”

“Bree!” Gavin called as Bree set off in the opposite direction, but she did not turn back.

Gavin did notice out of the corner of his eye that Ramona, who had been listening to Britney babble again, had turned and watched Bree walk off, her eyes wide with concern.

A smile that looked to be half a smirk appeared on Gavin’s face.

***

“I may have messed up supremely with Jared and Wendy,” Gavin said in the confessional. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t stop the same thing from happening to Bree and Ramona!”

***

On their way back to their cabin, the Populars walked past the Freaks’ cabin. The Freaks had been anxiously waiting outside to see who had gotten eliminated.

Garret leaned over the railing and grabbed Gavin by the shirt, pulling him over to the Freaks.

“You’re missing two.” Casey observed. “Why are you missing two?”

“Jared got eliminated.” Gavin explained. “Bree’s having a moment.”

“Thank you.” Garret smiled and released his brother.

Gavin rolled his eyes, but smiled before going back into his cabin.

“They killed Romeo!” Peter cried.

“To be fair, we killed Juliet first.” Casey said.

“We’re no better than the Capulets and Montagues!” Peter dramatically swooned into the wall of the cabin.

While the others talked amongst themselves, Lyla approached Quinn, who was staring out over the railing and into the distance.

“This is why I told you I wasn’t interested in dating.” Quinn said. “This is what happens when you let yourself get distracted on shows like this.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Lyla sighed, stealing a glance at Jesse.

Casey, tuning out all of the surrounding conversations, was hurriedly scribbling something in his journal.

“Romeo and Juliet served as a symbol to the rival families that their fighting was futile and that love conquers all.” Casey wrote. “Let Wendy and Jared serve as a warning. This is no age-old blood battle. The fighting has just begun. It is clear now to everyone that to become distracted by love guarantees elimination.”

When Casey was finally done writing, he looked up and saw that most of his team had gone back into their cabin. Only Quinn remained, still staring out at the sky.

“What are you thinking about?” Casey asked.

“Romeo and Juliet.” Quinn responded without turning around.

“Me too.” Casey closed his journal and joined Quinn at the railing.

While most of the Populars had gone straight to their cabin, Will had taken a detour to the mess hall. Staying true to his word, he grabbed the first aid kit and started tending to his wounds.

“You know, watching you charge an alligator with a tree branch was the bravest, dumbest thing I have ever seen.”

“What are you doing here?” Will asked Natalia as she joined him at one of the tables.

“Someone has to make sure you don’t bleed out.” Natalia joked.

“It stopped bleeding a while ago.” Will said. “It’s just a little sore.”

“And what was going through your head when you thought it would be a good idea to fight a robot with a tree branch?” Natalia asked.

“Not much.” Will admitted. “I just didn’t want Jared to get his face bitten off.”

“At least now he doesn’t have to worry about a gator biting his face off.” Natalia said.

Will wore a guilty expression on his face.

“I never said you had to vote for him.” Natalia said.

“Yeah, but you were right.” Will said. “His mind was somewhere else. He needed to sort things out with Wendy. Besides, they’re always making new seasons of this show. He’ll have another shot someday.”

“If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to vote him off either.” Natalia said. “He was a good guy. Better than most of us.”

“Yeah.” Will nodded. “Better than most of us.”

Digit and Brad sat by the fire, toasting the leftover marshmallows.

“Will any new couples dare to arise after the death of everyone’s favorite Romeo and Juliet?” Digit said.

“What challenge will our campers have to face next?” Brad said.

“And why are teenagers so dramatic?!” Digit said. “Seriously, you throw in one star-crossed lovers trope and everyone loses their minds! It’s not that deep!”

“I’m sure something worse will happen and they’ll all forget about this by tomorrow.” Brad said.

“Find out next time on Camp…”

“Total…

“Drama!”

Chapter 6: Camp Total Drama: The Musical: The Series

“Welcome back to Camp Total Drama!” Brad said, smiling at the camera.

Brad was currently flipping pancakes in the kitchen of the mess hall while Digit paced back and forth behind him while talking on her phone.

“Last time, our campers got the chance to test out their sea legs,” Brad continued. “And their treasure hunting skills! After going through swamps, thorns, and gator brawls, the Freaks found the buried treasure first and won the challenge!”

“The buried treasure was the twins.” Digit added, holding the phone away from her face. “We buried them alive.”

“Yes, we did!” Brad continued. “And after our challenge, some of our favorite friendships on the Populars butted heads over who to vote for. In the end, our lovesick Romeo, Jared, was eliminated.”

“A lot of contestants also officially came out last time.” Digit added. “So, good for them.”

“Hey, Dig, are you gay?” Brad asked as he flipped a pancake.

“I’m on the phone!” Digit responded while glaring at her co-host.

“I was just asking.” Brad held up his oven-mitted hands in surrender.

Digit held up a finger, signaling Brad to be quiet.

“Okay? That’s a little cryptic…” Digit said into the phone. “But thanks?” She sighed and hung up.

“Who was it?” Brad asked.

“You’ll see.” Digit said. “And to answer your first question, I’d be open to dating anyone, as long as they’re not you.”

Digit bumped Brad’s hip with her own before walking out of the kitchen and into the common area.

“Don’t you hip bump me!” Brad waved his spatula.

Digit sarcastically blew him a kiss before exiting the mess hall.

Meanwhile, most of the campers were starting to wake up. Jesse was the first of the guys to leave his cabin. He smiled as he heard the faint sound of a guitar being played in the forest.

The Only Exception - Paramore

The Only Exception - Paramore

When I was younger

I saw my daddy cry

And curse at the wind

Lyla was sitting in the middle of a distant clearing, strumming her guitar and singing lightly to herself.

He broke his own heart

And I watched

As he tried to reassemble it

Jesse followed the sound of her voice and leaned against a nearby tree.

And my momma swore

That she would never let herself forget

And that was the day that I promised

I'd never sing of love

If it does not exist

“Oh!” Lyla jumped once she noticed Jesse.

“Sorry!” Jesse said, blushing immediately. “I just, I never heard you sing before.”

“You’re not missing much.” Lyla said, her cheeks red as she mindlessly plucked out a chord on her guitar.

“I think you have a beautiful voice.” Jesse sat down across from Lyla.

Lyla continued strumming her guitar, bashfully shaking her head.

“Do you write your own songs too?” Jesse asked.

“I have.” Lyla said. “Not any good ones, though.”

“Oh, come on.” Jesse said. “What’s the last song you wrote? I’m sure it’s great!”

“I haven’t really fully written anything in a while.” Lyla said. “Writer’s block, I guess."

“Well, then I’m gonna help you write a song.” Jesse said.

“You’re gonna help me write a song?” Lyla raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah!” Jesse smiled. “And it’s gonna be great!”

“Okay, we’ll write a song together.” Lyla agreed.

“What’s the first song you ever wrote?” Jesse asked.

“A song for my fish’s funeral.” Lyla said. “I was 10.”

“You had a fish?” Jesse said. “What was its name?”

“Bubbles, and I cried when my mom flushed him down the toilet.” Lyla said. “I wanted a dog when I was little, but fish were the only animals allowed in our apartment.”

“I live in an apartment with my mom too.” Jesse said. “We could be neighbors!”

“And I’d never know because you’ve never left your apartment until now.” Lyla joked.

“Maybe you should write a song full of all your homeschool jokes.” Jesse laughed.

The two continued sharing friendly jabs while Lyla strummed away on her guitar and the sun rose overhead.

Back at the cabins, Gavin was sitting on the steps of his team’s cabin. The door to the girls’ side suddenly flew open and bickering echoed through the clearing. Ramona calmly walked outside and sat next to Gavin before sighing and putting her head in her hands.

“What happened now?” Gavin asked.

“Britney can’t find her scrunchie.” Ramona explained. “She thinks Veronica took it.”

“Naturally.” Gavin chuckled.

“I tried telling her she probably dropped it during the last challenge.” Ramona said.

“I know you stole it!”

“Why would I steal your stupid scrunchie?!”

Britney and Veronica’s bickering moved to the outside of the cabin.

“Hey, Brit,” Gavin said. “What color scrunchie should we be looking for?”

Britney looked down at her yellow shoes and matching yellow tube top while twirling her golden-yellow hair around her finger before saying “Yellow.”

“You never wear your hair up.” Veronica said. “Why do you even need it?”

“I like to accessorize!” Britney snapped.

Natalia appeared in the doorway with a tired expression.

“Brit, if I give you one of my scrunchies for the day, will you stop yelling?” Natalia asked.

Britney gasped and her eyes went wide, immediately forgetting about Veronica. Natalia sighed and threw a red scrunchie at her.

“No one wake me up until breakfast.” Natalia went back into the cabin.

“She must be a morning person.” Gavin said.

“I’ll bury you alive again!” Natalia threatened before disappearing from view.

Veronica rolled her eyes at Britney one last time before going back into the cabin as well. Britney perched herself on the railing of cabin and smiled to herself before absentmindedly fiddling with the red scrunchie in her hair.

“I didn’t see Bree in… whatever that was.” Gavin said.

“Bree always gets up super early.” Ramona said.

“Why?” Gavin asked.

Ramona cast a cautious glance at Britney. She saw that Britney was giggling to herself while tying her blonde hair into a bow, seemingly oblivious to the world around her.

“She gets up early to do her makeup in the bathroom before anyone else wakes up.” Ramona said. “I tried asking her why, but she kinda left without answering.”

“Ramona, look!” Britney exclaimed.

Ramona looked and saw that Britney had a section of her hair tied up with the red scrunchie. Britney was smiling triumphantly.

“Looking good, Brit.” Ramona smiled.

When Ramona turned back, she saw that Gavin had gotten up and started walking away.

“Where are you going?” Ramona yelled after him.

“The bathroom!” Gavin replied.

“She’s in the girls’ bathroom!” Ramona said.

“And?” Gavin winked at Ramona before leaving.

“Brit,” Ramona turned back to the blonde. “If a guy ever comes into a girls’ bathroom looking for you, punch him. Got it?”

“Got it!” Britney said before going back into the cabin.

While doing one last scan of the room for her scrunchie, Britney noticed that Bree’s drawer was still open. She also noticed an empty spot in her drawer that had a faint outline of makeup powder…

“Oh, Bree!” Gavin said in a singsongy voice as he waltzed into the bathroom.

“Dude, this is the girls’ bathroom.” Bree said, closing her makeup bag.

“Yeah, yeah, Ramona already shamed me.” Gavin said.

“What do you want?” Bree rolled her eyes.

“To make sure you’re all right.” Gavin said. “You were a little out of it last night.”

“I’m fine.” Bree said, staring straight into the mirror in front of her.

“In that case, time for my follow up question.” Gavin said. “Did you vote for Jared?”

“Everyone else was!” Bree exasperatedly threw her hands up.

“That’s terrible reasoning.” Gavin said.

“Well, it’s my reasoning.” Bree said.

“What if everyone was voting for me?” Gavin asked. “What if everyone was voting for Ramona-

“Don’t even-”

“You know I could help you with that.”

“You’re offering me relationship advice now?” Bree asked “Weren’t you just criticizing me?”

“Only a little.” Gavin said with a smirk.

“Well, no thank you.” Bree rolled her eyes. “I can screw up my love life just fine all by myself.”

“Ouch.” Gavin held his chest in mock pain.

“Bye, Gavin.” Bree shoved past Gavin and walked out of the bathroom.

Gavin sighed and walked out of the bathroom as well. His twin brother, who had been walking to the boys’ bathroom, was staring back at him as he left the girls’ bathroom with a confused expression on his face.

“Don’t ask.” Gavin ruffled Garret’s hair as he walked past him. “You don’t want to know.”

Garret turned just in time to see Bree stomp back into her cabin.

“I believe you.” Garret nodded.

“Breakfast! Breakfast!” Brad announced over the intercom. “I made pancakes!!”

All of the contestants eventually filed into the mess hall and got their pancakes. The teams talked amongst themselves at their separate tables.

“Good morning, campers!” Digit said as she entered the mess hall. “Who’s ready for today’s challenge?”

The contestants all groaned.

“Oh, relax, we’re not drugging anyone this time.” Digit said. “It’s actually pretty easy as long as you all don’t suck.”

“Goodie, another scavenger hunt.” Violet said sarcastically.

“Nope, but you’d probably prefer that to this.” Digit said. “Today’s challenge is-”

“A talent show!” Brad appeared in the back of the mess hall, still clad in his apron and waving his spatula.

Most of the contestants groaned again.

“Each team must scrounge together three semi-decent acts by the end of the day.” Digit said. “Tonight, your acts will perform in front of our special guest judge who will decide today’s winner.”

“Who’s the guest judge?” Ally asked.

“Well, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we told you, now would it?” Digit said.

“But you didn’t say it was a surprise before.” Ally said.

“Oh,” Digit said. “Well, I meant to. It’s a surprise.”

“Okay?” Ally said while other contestants raised an eyebrow.

“Good luck!” Brad hopped over the counter and left through the front door with Digit.

“Alright, team,” Ally and the rest of the Freaks leaned their heads together, forming a makeshift huddle around the table. “Who’s got an act?”

“I do!” Dominic’s hand shot up. “I can do a comedy skit.”

“Oh, great.” Casey said sarcastically.

“That is great, Dom!” Ally said genuinely.

Casey rolled his eyes while Dominic blushed.

“Lyla, you can play a song on your guitar.” Jesse suggested.

“No, I can’t.” Lyla shook her head.

“Oh, come on, Lyla,” Ally said. “We’ve all heard you play before.”

“You have?”

“You play your guitar every morning as soon as you wake up.” Quinn said.

“But I go into the woods when I play my guitar!”

“Yeah, like ten feet from our cabin.” Violet rolled her eyes.

“Not that we’re complaining.” Garret added. “I think it’s soothing.”

The rest of the Freaks, even Violet, nodded in agreement.

“Alright, fine.” Lyla grumbled. “I’ll see if I can put something together, but no promises!”

The rest of the Freaks cheered.

“Okay, we still need one more act.” Ally said.

The others paused and looked around their huddle.

“I can throw knives.” Violet said, breaking the silence.

“At… what?” Ally reluctantly asked.

“Things.” Violet shrugged.

“Okay…” Ally let out a nervous chuckle. “Let’s leave that one on the back burner for now.”

“Ooh! I got something!” Peter said. “We can put on a play!”

“Who’s ‘we’?” Quinn reluctantly asked.

“The four of us!” Peter pulled Quinn, Casey, and Garret into a hug. “Of course!”

“Perfect!” Ally said.

“Yay.” Casey said unenthusiastically while Garret looked around with wide eyes.

***

“This probably isn’t a shocker,” Garret said in the confessional. “But I have a little stage fright… A lot of stage fright.” He sighed. “This isn’t gonna go well.”

***

At the Populars’ table, things were… not going as smoothly.

“So, who has an act?” Natalia asked.

“I can do a cheer routine.” Bree said, confidently tightening her ponytail.

“Okay, that good.” Natalia said. “Anyone else?”

The table turned silent.

“Guys, we need three acts.” Natalia said.

The table remained silent.

Natalia sighed. “Well, we have to have something to put on that stage.”

Britney slowly raised her hand.

“Yes, Brit?”

“I can do something.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know.” Britney twirled a strand of her blonde hair around her finger.

“Sounds great, Brit.” Veronica said sarcastically.

“Alright, this isn’t going anywhere.” Natalia said. “But someone better pull an act out of their ass before tonight.”

The two teams left the mess hall and dispersed to work on their respective acts (or lack thereof). Most of the Freaks had gathered outside their cabin, the different groups talking amongst themselves.

“I got it!” Dominic, the only Freak who hadn’t already been present, announced as he left the cabin. “I have perfected my comedy skit!”

“Can we see it?” Ally asked, looking up at him with wide eyes while the rest of her teammates groaned.

“Anything for you, Ally-gator.” Dominic blushed.

A few of the Freaks groaned again at the cheesy nickname.

“Okay, are you guys ready?” Dominic asked.

“Ready as I’ll ever be.” Violet said sarcastically.

“Alright, hello ladies and gentleman,” Dominic stood before his teammates. “You already know I’m here to blow your minds, but… I’m also here to read your mind!!” He quickly pulled out a toy drum set and played a cymbal crash.

“Well, this will get us a solid two points from the judges.” Casey said.

“I’m going to need a volunteer from the audience.” Dominic said. “You!” He pointed at Violet. “Random audience member I have never met, how would you like to be my volunteer?”

“I’d rather die.” Violet said.

“Great! Come on down!” Dominic said. “What is your name, random audience member that I definitely didn’t choose on purpose?”

“Violet.” Violet said, glaring at Dominic as she joined him in front of their teammates.

“Correct!” Dominic played another cymbal crash. “Violet, I’m gonna need you to pick a number between one and… Someone else pick another number.”

“Six hundred fifty-two thousand three hundred eighty-one!” Quinn shouted.

“Someone else pick another number.” Dominic repeated.

“No, I like that number.” Violet said.

“Fine, it’ll just be more impressive when I get it right.” Dominic said. “Violet, pick a number between one and six hundred fifty-two thousand three hundred eighty-one.”

“Whatever.” Violet said.

“Okay, have you picked a number?”

“Sure.”

“Now I’m going to pull that number from your brain!!” Dominic played a cymbal crash. “But first, I need you to let the audience know what your number is. That way they’ll all know when I get it right!”

Violet rolled her eyes.

“Don’t worry, Violet.” Dominic said. “I’m gonna close my eyes, so I can’t hear you.” Dominic closed his eyes.

“Wait a second.” Violet raised an eyebrow.

“Violet, did you tell the audience your number?” Dominic asked, his eyes still closed.

“No-”

“VIOLET, DID YOU TELL THE AUDIENCE YOUR NUMBER?” Dominic yelled with his eyes shut tight.

“Five! My number’s five!” Violet said, growing more agitated.

VIOLET, DID YOU TELL THE AUDIENCE YOUR NUMBER?!?!” Dominic was screaming directly in Violet’s face at this point.

“YES, I DID!” Violet grabbed Dominic’s shoulders and started shaking him.

Dominic’s eyes shot open. “Violet, did you tell the audience your number?” He asked very calmly.

“Yes!” Violet shouted.

“Sorry I couldn’t hear you before, my eyes were closed.” Dominic played another cymbal crash.

“I’m gonna kill you.” Violet said.

“Oh, don’t worry, it gets worse.” Dominic smirked. “Now I’m gonna need you to make little antennas with your fingers and put them on your head.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Violet said.

“I think you heard me.” Dominic said. “…Because your eyes were open!” He played another cymbal crash.

A few of the Freaks started to snicker as Violet begrudgingly put her fingers on her head to mimic antennas.

“Great!” Dominic said. “Now you need to repeat the telepathetic phrase.”

“I don’t think that’s the word you were looking for, buddy.” Peter said.

“The phrase is,” Dominic continued. “ooOOGLEY BOOGLEY BOOGLEY WOooo wooo wOO.”

“Oh no.” Violet shook her head.

“I don’t hear the telepathetic phrase.” Dominic teased.

“Telepathic! The word is telepathic!” Violet said.

“Still doesn’t sound like the phrase.” Dominic said.

Violet sighed. “Oogley boogley boogley woo woo woo.” Her face was completely devoid of emotion.

“Hmm, I don’t know if that was enthusiastic enough-”

“I swear, you won’t be alive long enough to do this at the talent show-”

“I mean, great! That was great!” Dominic said. “I’m receiving your mind rays right now!”

“My what?”

“Was your number…” Dominic dramatically held his head in thought. “Five?”

“Wow, how ever did you know?” Violet asked sarcastically.

“Yeah, I got it right!” Dominic cheered. “We did it!” He offered Violet a high five.

Violet glared at Dominic one last time before stomping back to her seat.

“Well,” Dominic turned to his teammates. “What did you guys think?”

“It could have been worse.” Quinn shrugged.

“Thank you!” Dominic smiled.

“The real question is,” Casey said. “Which one of the Populars are you gonna use as a volunteer?”

“I dare you to pick Natalia.” Lyla said.

“Oh, she’d actually kill you!” Violet laughed. “Do it.”

“Just don’t look her in the eyes.” Garret said. “You might turn to stone.”

“Come on, guys.” Ally said. “She’s not that bad.”

On the stairs of the Populars’ cabin across the clearing, Natalia, Britney, and Veronica were watching the Freaks talk and laugh.

“I still think she’s hiding something.” Natalia said.

“Who?” Britney asked.

“Ally.” Veronica said. “Right?”

“Right.” Natalia nodded. “I think it’s time to do some snooping.”

“But what about the talent show?” Britney asked.

Almost as if on cue, Will walked out of the guys’ side of the cabin.

“Hey, Will.” Natalia said with a mischievous smirk.

“Hey, Natalia.” Will sighed, noticing her smirk. “What do you want?”

“You’re in charge of putting together two more acts for the talent show.”

“What?” Will asked. “Why?”

“Because I trust you.”

“No, you don’t.”

“Yes, I do!”

Will raised an eyebrow.

“Just do it.” Natalia said. “Please.”

“Well, since you asked so nicely.” Will said sarcastically.

“She did say please.” Britney said.

“That means you have to do it.” Veronica added.

“And what are the three of you doing?” Will asked.

“I could tell you.” Natalia said. “But you wouldn’t like it.”

“Forget it, I don’t want to know.” Will said. “I’ll find some more acts.”

“Thank you.” The three girls said in unison.

“That was creepy.” Will said as he walked away.

***

“Whether or not Natalia really does trust me is up for debate.” Will said in the confessional. “But at least after the last challenge I know she cares about me.” He paused and scratched the back of his head. “Well, I hope she does.”

***

“So, what are we gonna do?” Veronica asked.

“If I’m being honest, I didn’t think that far ahead.” Natalia said. “But there has to be something with her darkest secrets somewhere on this island.”

“Like her diary?” Veronica suggested.

“Too cliché.” Natalia said. “What is this, season one?”

“Sorry.” Veronica mumbled.

“The interns’ quarters!” Britney said.

“What about them?” Natalia asked.

“The files!” Veronica gasped. “Digit and Brad are always talking about how our personal files are in the interns’ quarters.”

“Brit, you’re the smartest idiot I’ve ever met.” Natalia said.

“Thanks!” Britney giggled and twirled her blonde hair around her finger.

Will had found the rest of his team gathered near the mess hall. Bree was stretching and practicing various cheer moves while Ramona and Gavin sat and watched.

Will sat down directly in between Ramona and Gavin.

“What do you want?” Gavin asked.

“Acts for the talent show.” Will said.

“Did Natalia put you in charge or something?”

“Ignoring you.” Will said before turning to Ramona. “What about you? You do cool things all the time!”

“Exactly.” Ramona said. “I’ve earned myself a break from doing cool things all the time.”

“That’s fair.” Will said. “What do you got, Gavin?”

“Um, nothing?”

“Well, we need something.”

“Well, why can’t you do something?”

“Maybe you guys should do something together.” Ramona joked.

“I second that!” Bree said, joining the group and sitting next to Ramona.

“It’s settled, we’re singing a duet.” Will patted Gavin’s shoulder.

“No, we’re not.” Gavin said, pushing Will’s hand away.

“I’ll even let you pick the song!” Will said as he got up and started to walk away.

Gavin groaned while Ramona and Bree laughed.

“Hey, what happened to being humble, Ms. ‘I do cool things all the time’?” Gavin nudged Ramona.

“I really don’t.” Ramona said. “But I needed some excuse not to do the talent show.”

“You totally do cool things all the time.” Bree said, making Ramona blush.

“Well,” Gavin got up, smirking at Bree. “I’m gonna go and leave you two alone.”

“Yeah, you gotta go warm up your vocal cords.” Bree teased.

Gavin glared at Bree while her and Ramona laughed.

Back at the Freaks’ cabin, Peter was hard at work on his play.

“In light of recent events,” Peter said. “I think we should perform Romeo and Juliet.”

“The whole thing?” Garret asked.

“No! That would be ridiculous.” Peter said. “Only the good parts. I call it ‘Romeo and Juliet: Condensed’!”

“You might want to workshop that title a little.” Casey said.

“I think it’s great.” Quinn said.

“One of the most important scenes we have to do is the balcony scene.” Peter said. “We already have our Juliet,” He patted Quinn’s head. “We just need to pick a Romeo.”

“Not it.” Casey and Garret said simultaneously.

“I’m hurt.” Quinn said jokingly.

“Guys,” Peter said.

“How am I gonna be on a balcony?” Quinn asked.

“Garret and I could lift her up.” Casey said.

“You two are scrawny.” Peter said. “Absolutely not.”

“That’s fair.” Garret said

“You could pick her up.” Casey said.

“Oh, so you’re gonna play Romeo?” Peter smirked.

“Absolutely not.” Casey shook his head.

“But you’re perfect for the part.”

“Nope.”

“You’re both stubborn.”

Casey shook his head.

“Oh, come on.” Peter said. “You’re hurting Quinn’s feelings.”

Quinn put on a mock pout.

Casey looked down at Quinn, then back up at Peter.

“Fine.” Casey sighed. “But it’s not gonna be good.”

“Does this mean I don’t have to be anything?” Garret asked hopefully.

“Nope!” Peter put a hand on Garret’s shoulder. “That means you get to be everything.”

“Oh god!” Garret said.

“You and I will split all the secondary characters.” Peter explained. “It’ll be great!”

“I feel like I should warn you now,” Garret said. “The last time I was ever on stage was for my fifth-grade recital and as soon as the curtain opened, I immediately passed out.”

“That’s okay!” Peter said. “We’re all here to catch you.”

“If Garret passes out, can we all pass out?” Quinn asked.

“I second that.” Casey said.

“Sure.” Peter sighed.

“Guys,” Garret said. “You don’t have to do tha-”

“We go down together, Gar.” Quinn said with Casey nodding behind her.

“That I can agree with.” Peter said.

“Okay.” Garret said, his cheeks red and a smile on his face.

Not too far from them, Lyla was strumming her guitar on the steps of the Freaks’ cabin with Jesse sitting beside her.

“I don’t think we’re gonna be able to write a song good enough to win the challenge in only a few hours.” Lyla said.

“Then just sing something you know.” Jesse said. “Whatever you do, it’s gonna be great.”

“Why do you believe in me so much?” Lyla asked.

“I don’t have a reason to not believe in you.” Jesse shrugged.

“Yeah, but why me?” Lyla said. “I’m not exactly the smartest, toughest, or most charming girl here.”

“Well, I don’t really know a lot of girls outside of here. Or, any girls outside of here.” Jesse laughed. “I don’t exactly have standards.”

“But you’re such a nice guy.” Lyla said. “You should have standards.”

***

“And those standards should be higher than me…” Lyla said in the confessional.

***

“Okay, even if I did, I still think you’re great!” Jesse said. “I just wish you thought you were great too..."

Lyla sighed and continued strumming a melancholy tune on her guitar.

Meanwhile, Natalia, Veronica, and Britney were huddled against one of the outside walls of the interns’ quarters.

“This is just like a spy movie!” Britney whispered excitedly.

“What kind of spy movies do you watch?” Veronica asked.

Natalia shushed the two and motioned to the front door as Brad walked out.

“I should go help Digit get ready for the talent show.” Brad said, rather loudly, to himself as he searched for something in his pockets. “Oh no, I lost my keys! I better leave the door unlocked. I sure hope none of the kids try to break in!”

Brad chuckled to himself as he walked off.

“If he were a few years younger, I’d say he was made for you, Brit.” Natalia said.

“I’m not against dating a college guy.” Britney shrugged.

“Not the time!” Veronica said. “And you really should be.”

Natalia slowly crept up to the door while Britney and Veronica continued to bicker.

“How come?” Britney asked. “I’m 18.”

“Yeah, but you’re also really du-” Veronica stopped herself. “…Naïve.”

“Oh,” Britney frowned. “Is that why you stole my scrunchie?”

“Really? We’re doing this again?”

“Guys, not the time.” Natalia said, holding open the door. “Let’s go.”

The interns’ quarters was not a very large space. Between the mess of papers spilling out of the many filing cabinets and the two beds that had been jammed in each corner of the room, there was barely enough room for the three girls to stand without being on top of each other. The only source of light, other than the lone lightbulb hanging from the ceiling, was a window in the back of the room.

“How do they live like this?” Veronica wondered aloud.

“Forget that, how are we gonna find anything in this mess?” Natalia asked.

“I’ll be the lookout!” Britney said, squinting one eye shut and pressing the other to a small circular window in the front door.

“I hope these files are labeled…” Veronica muttered as she walked to the nearest filing cabinet.

Veronica pulled open a drawer and was immediately hit in the face with a piece of paper. She pulled the paper off her face and saw it read “Cast Files”.

“Oh!” Veronica said, looking past the paper in her hand and down into the drawer. “I think I found it.”

Natalia joined her and started thumbing through the different files.

“And look who’s first.” Natalia said with a smirk, holding up a file labeled “Ally”.

“We’re the best spies ever!” Britney exclaimed.

“Brit, you’re the lookout, remember?” Veronica said.

“Oh, right!” Britney pressed her face back against the glass.

Natalia opened the file and started skimming the papers inside. “Ally Noncanonlastname. Just turned 18, that’s cute. Moved halfway across the country in the middle of her sophomore year… That’s a strange time to change schools, don’t you think?”

Veronica nodded, peaking over Natalia’s shoulder.

“I bet it was something to do with her parents. Everyone’s tragic backstory is about their parents-” Natalia paused when she flipped to the next page in Ally’s file. “Oh…”

“Oh!” Veronica echoed behind Natalia, having read the same thing.

“No.” Natalia shook her head and closed the file. “That’s too personal.”

“Too personal?” Veronica questioned. “You wanted information we could use against her. That’s perfect!”

“No, that’s too personal.” Natalia repeated as she put the file back and closed the drawer. “We can’t say anything.” She pointed a finger at Veronica. “You need to promise you won’t say anything.”

Veronica raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms.

“Um, guys?” Britney said. “We should probably go.”

Promise.” Natalia said, holding out her pinkie.

“Why?” Veronica asked.

“Guys, we should really go.” Britney said, her eyes going wide.

“If you promise to keep your mouth shut,” Natalia said. “I’ll promise to keep Britney from flirting with any college guys.”

This did earn a light chuckle from Veronica.

“I was just kidding about that!” Britney threw up her arms in exasperation. “And we have to go! They’re coming back!”

“Fine.” Veronica linked pinkies with Natalia. “I promise.”

“Okay, great! Now what?!” Britney said.

Natalia ran to the back of the room and pushed open the window. The opening was small, but big enough for them to squeeze through one at a time.

“After you.” Natalia gestured for Veronica to go first.

“Gee, thanks.” Veronica said sarcastically as she climbed out of the window head first… and fell on the other side.

“Brit?”

The girl in question was still watching out of the small window in the front of the room.

“Go, go!” Britney motioned for Natalia to go ahead.

“Alright,” Natalia put her legs through the window first. “Just make sure you close the window behind you.”

Once Natalia was safely out, Britney dashed to the other side of the room, almost tripping on stray papers along the way. She fumbled her legs through the opening, but once the top half of her body was almost out, she felt her wrist get caught to something inside.

Britney leaned over the windowsill and looked back inside to see that the red scrunchie on her wrist had gotten caught on a piece of stray wood jutting out of the wall. Britney looked at the scrunchie, up at the door, and back down to the scrunchie before sighing and quickly sliding it off her wrist.

Once Britney’s feet hit the ground, she reached up and slammed the window shut just before the front door of the small building had opened. Veronica and Natalia each grabbed one of her arms and pulled her down.

“Mission success?” Britney asked with a big smile on her face.

“I guess.” Veronica shrugged before carefully crouching around the window and walking away.

“So, what was the big secret?” Britney asked Natalia as soon as they were alone. “Was it about her parents? Oh my god, are they dead??”

“No, Brit, it wasn’t about her parents.” Natalia said. “Just, don’t worry about it.”

“Okay.” Britney pouted.

“Oh, don’t give me that face.” Natalia said. “Now come on, we still have a challenge.”

“Oh yeah!” Britney said as her and Natalia left the scene of the crime. “I think I do have something for the talent show.”

“That’s great.” Natalia said. “Between you and me, I kinda doubt Will shook any good acts out of the rest of our team.”

“Oh, he definitely didn’t.” Britney giggled.

“Brit, you’re breaking my heart!” Will was leaning against the wall of the Populars’ cabin. “Now can either of you tell me why Veronica just stormed into the cabin?”

“Ignore her.” Natalia said. “She’s just being Veronica.”

“So, what acts did you find?” Britney asked.

“Well, Gavin and I got something great in the works-”

“No, we don’t!” Gavin yelled from inside the cabin.

“It’s gonna be a real showstopper.” Will said.

“I can’t wait.” Natalia smiled.

Eventually the sun set and night fell over the island.

“You guys ready for this?” Dominic offered a high five to Lyla and Peter.

The contestants were all still congregated around the cabins.

“You know it!” Peter slapped Dominic’s hand.

“I’m about to throw up.” Lyla said as she gently accepted the high five.

“That’s alright.” Peter said. “Garret’s about to pass out.”

Peter motioned to the rest of his group nearby, with Garret literally shaking in the middle.

“Is he alright?” Dominic asked.

“Yeah, he’ll be fine.” Peter said. “It’s just nerves.”

“Attention campers,” Digit said over the intercom. “Everyone please report to the stage. It’s time for the talent show.”

“We have a stage?” Peter asked.

“We do now.” Digit said as the clearing in front of the cabins began to open, similar to how it had for the dodgeball challenge.

A small stage identical to the stage from the original challenge rose from the ground, complete with stands for the audience and a judge’s table.

“It’s go time!” Peter grabbed the rest of his group as everyone made their way into the stands. “You guys remember the plan?”

“Hold the script in my hand.” Casey said. “Read everything from the script.”

“Sure.” Peter sighed. “Just look up occasionally, okay?”

Casey nodded.

“Gar, you’re sure you’re good for the fight scene?” Peter asked.

“Well, probably not.” Garret said. “But I’ll do it anyway.”

“That’s the spirit!” Peter said. “Quinn?”

“Let’s go poorly reenact some Shakespeare.” Quinn said with a smile.

“Maybe not poorly, but-”

“Hello, campers!” Brad stood center-stage wearing a t-shirt with a design that resembled a tuxedo. “My name’s Brad and I’ll be your host tonight.”

Digit booed him from the back of the stands.

“Thank you!” Brad said. “Not only is your host very special, we also have a special guest judge!”

“Is it Digit?” Violet asked.

“No, actually.” Digit said.

“Our special judge is none other than…” Brad said. “Chef Hatchet!”

When the contestants turned their heads from Brad and looked down at the judge’s table, Chef Hatchet was sitting there.

“Aren’t you a convicted felon?” Violet asked.

“Aren’t we all?” Chef responded.

“Okay…” Violet, and the rest of the contestants, held back the rest of their many questions.

“Chef will be scoring each on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest, and 1 meaning you’re the worst.” Brad said. “Whichever team has the most points at the end wins! Now will the first act from both teams please join me backstage? Since the Freaks won the last challenge, they will be starting us off.”

“We’re up first?” Garret’s face turned pale.

“We’re up first!” Peter wrapped an arm around Garret and gave him a reassuring squeeze.

“That means we can get this over with even sooner.” Casey whispered to Garret.

“Heard that.” Peter said, using his free hand to poke Casey’s nose with his script.

“Come on.” Quinn led the way to backstage.

“Good luck, Bree!” Ramona said to Bree as she also got up from the stands.

“Thanks.” Bree blushed slightly. When walking past Natalia, she paused. “Just out of curiosity, do we have a second and third act?”

“We might.” Natalia said.

“Awesome.” Bree said sarcastically.

“Yeah, just make sure you’re good.” Natalia said.

“Alright, but when we lose this challenge, no one better think about voting for me.” Bree said, tightening her high ponytail and smoothing her cheer skirt one last time before heading backstage.

“For our first act from the Freaks,” Brad announced. “We have Peter, Quinn, Casey, and Garret doing…?”

The four walked, and wheeled, onstage. Gavin cheered obnoxiously loud for his brother, turning Garret’s face red.

“We have put together a short reenactment of the classic story, Romeo and Juliet.” Peter said. “Complete with all of the most pivotal scenes-”

“Oh, that’s nice.” Digit said from the stands. “You got a minute and a half!”

“What?!” Peter exclaimed.

“She said you have a minute and a half.” Brad repeated before walking offstage.

The four quickly shuffled backstage and formed a huddle.

“What about our plan?” Garret asked.

“We’re throwing the plan out the window.” Peter said.

“Oh god!” Garret said.

“Should we just skip to the part where everyone dies?” Quinn asked.

“It is the best part.” Casey added.

“Alright, your time to shine, Gar.” Peter patted his shoulder. “I’ll handle the props!”

“Props?” Garret asked. “I don’t even remember props in the first plan!”

Peter shoved a toy sword into Garret's hand before lifting Quinn out of her wheelchair and carrying her bridal style across the stage. He carefully laid her down on the stage and placed her script next to her.

“Yeah!” Violet sarcastically cheered. “Break a leg, Wheels!”

Quinn opened her eyes to glare at Violet before closing them again. Casey awkwardly shuffled back onstage, script in hand.

“Our scene begins in a cemetery where supposed deceased body of Juliet lies!” Peter said at a rapid pace. “Romeo has come to see his love one last time before also perishing, but Paris, the man whom Juliet was to marry, has come to stop him!”

The audience stared back at him blankly.

“And…” Peter slowly backed off the stage. “Action!”

Garret ran onstage, the toy sword shaking in his hand. “Stop thy unhallowed toil, vile Montague! Can vengeance be pursued further than death?”

Peter silently clapped from backstage.

“Obey and go with me,” Garret continued. “For thou must die!”

“I must indeed,” Casey said, standing in front of Quinn. “And therefore came I hither.”

Bree moved to stand with Peter backstage as the play continued.

“You know, I can’t understand a word they’re saying, but this isn’t as painful to watch as I thought it’d be.” Bree said.

“Thanks!” Peter said.

“Wilt thou provoke me?” Casey yelled onstage. “Then have at thee, boy!”

“That’s my cue.” Peter whispered to Bree before throwing another toy sword at Casey, nearly hitting him in the head.

Miraculously, Casey caught the sword with his one free hand, the other still holding the script. Garret and Casey began wildly swinging the toy swords at each other, piquing the interest of even the more bored audience members.

In the midst of their play fight, Garret’s sword accidentally struck Casey’s hand that was holding the script. The script flew offstage and nearly hit an audience member in the face.

Casey and Garret stopped and looked at each other with wide eyes.

“On second thought,” Bree said. “This is kinda painful to watch.”

“I guarantee you he didn’t read a word of that script before walking onstage.” Peter muttered.

“Well,” Casey said awkwardly. “It was knife to meet you!” He drove his sword in between Garret’s arm and chest, making it look like he was stabbed.

“Good one!” Dominic clapped while other audience members groaned.

“Oh no!” Garret said before collapsing onto the stage.

***

“I know it looked like I was acting,” Garret said in the confessional. “But I actually did pass out onstage.”

***

“Juliet,” Casey knelt down beside Quinn and took her hand. “I feel like I’m supposed to be saying something about death, but I can’t live without you.”

“He’s actually doing a pretty good job adlibbing.” Peter said.

“What’s he supposed to be saying?” Bree asked.

“This.” Peter opened his script and pointed at a paragraph of dialogue that was so long it filled the entire page.

“Oh,” Bree said. “Well, close enough.”

“Poison!” Casey said, looking to Peter.

“I guess that’s my cue.” Peter said, throwing a small vile of a purplish liquid at Casey.

Casey managed to catch the vile just before it landed on Quinn’s face.

“Here’s to my love.” Casey opened the vile and drank the contents, coughing a little before collapsing onto the stage.

Quinn, both confused and amused by everything that had just happened around her, used her arms to sit up and survey the situation. She grabbed her script, which had been a few mere inches from Casey, and continued on with the show.

“What’s here? A cup, closed in my true love’s hand?” Quinn said, holding Casey’s hand that held the vile. “Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end.”

“Lead, boy!” Peter, now voicing a watchman from offstage, shouted. “Which way?”

Quinn looked in the direction of the voice and down to the stray toy sword, acting it out as if she were truly in peril.

“O happy dagger, this is thy sheath.” Quinn grabbed toy sword. “There rust and let me die!”

Quinn jabbed herself in the gut with the toy sword and collapsed onto the stage.

The audience looked around expectantly.

“And…” Peter walked back onstage, stepping over Quinn and Casey. “Scene.”

There was some scattered applause from the audience, most of them unsure of what exactly they had just watched.

“You went over a minute and a half.” Digit said.

“You can’t put a limit on theater.” Peter said dramatically.

This earned a few more scattered applauses.

“Thank you.” Peter took a bow while Casey stood up and got Quinn’s wheelchair from backstage.

“Alright folks,” Brad returned to the stage, also stepping over Quinn. “I think we all need a short break after that, but first… Chef? What’s their score?”

Chef wordlessly held up a sign with a large 7 painted on it.

The Freaks all erupted into cheers. Once the attention was away from the stage, Casey carefully lifted Quinn up and placed her back in her wheelchair.

“Not bad.” Quinn said. “But you do know my script was right next to you, right?”

“Shut up.” Casey muttered while Quinn laughed.

“Garret, we did it!” Peter ran over to Garret, who was still laying on the stage. “Garret?” Peter poked him a few times and he still didn’t budge. “Garret!” Peter finally grabbed Garret’s shoulders and started shaking him.

“Ah!” Garret’s eyes shot open. “Is it over?”

“It is.” Peter said. “And you did great!”

“Yay.” Garret pumped his fist in the air as he woozily stumbled offstage with the rest of his friends.

“Casey, I never knew you had a knack for improv.” Peter teased.

“I am never doing that again.” Casey said.

“Fair enough.” Peter said. “And Quinn! You’re a natural!”

Quinn blushed while Casey and Garret moved further up from the group, Casey catching Garret and ensuring he didn’t pass out again.

“I used to do theater.” Quinn said quietly once it was just her and Peter.

“Really?” Peter asked, beaming. “No wonder we were such fast friends!”

“Right.” Quinn chuckled.

“Why’d you stop?” Peter asked.

Quinn wordlessly motioned to her wheelchair.

“Oh, come on,” Peter said. “That hasn’t stopped you before. That didn’t stop you now.”

“Well, this was just a bad reenactment of one scene of a play.” Quinn said. “Like a really bad reenactment, I was expecting a 2 at most.”

“Hey, I don’t want to force you to do anything you don’t want to do,” Peter said. “But if you want to give theater another shot, go for it! I know you’ll be great.”

“Maybe.” Quinn said. “Probably not.”

“But maybe?”

“Yeah, maybe.”

The two joined the rest of their team in the stands just before the next act started.

“Next up, from the Populars we have Bree!” Brad announced. “Doing everyone’s favorite kinda-sport, cheerleading!”

“Cheerleading is a sport!” Bree yelled from offstage.

“Sure, it is.” Brad said as he walked offstage.

Bree strutted onstage and stood in position at the center.

“Um,” Brad started. “Do you need, like, pom-poms or somethin-?”

“Just start the music.” Bree snapped.

Brad jumped back and hit play on an old cd-player. The music started and so did Bree’s routine. It started simple, with a few standard cheer moves and poses.

“We’re doomed.” Natalia muttered.

“Oh, you didn’t watch her practicing.” Will whispered back.

The music started to pick up speed, and so did Bree’s routine. The moves also increased in difficulty as the song progressed, most involving lifting one her legs until it was practically touching her ear. The routine ended with her doing a series of jumps and flips across the stage, finally landing centerstage in a perfect split.

The Populars exploded into applause once the music ended and even the Freaks respectfully clapped.

“Wow.” Brad said as he stood next to Bree, who was still in a split. “I guess cheerleading really is a sport.”

“You’re damn right it is.” Bree said as she stood up and tightened her ponytail. “I won a regional championship with that solo.”

This earned her some more applause from the audience.

“Chef?” Brad asked. “Her score?”

Chef held up the same 7 as before.

“What?!” Bree exclaimed. “I got the same score as their terrible play?!”

“Hey, it wasn’t terrible.” Peter said.

“It kinda was.” Quinn said.

Bree stomped off the stage and returned to the stands.

“I thought you were great.” Ramona nudged Bree, making her smile again.

“Alright, will both teams’ second act please come backstage?” Brad said.

Lyla slung her guitar over her shoulder and started to head towards the stage. Jesse reached out and grabbed her hand before she left.

“Good luck!” Jesse said.

“Thanks.” Lyla blushed.

All of the Freaks sitting behind Jesse, even Violet, gave Lyla a knowing smirk.

“Shut up.” Lyla said to the others as Jesse looked around, confused.

As Lyla went backstage, the Populars all looked around at each other.

“So, who’s our second act?” Natalia asked.

Without saying anything, Britney stood up and started walking backstage.

“Um…?” Bree raised an eyebrow at the blonde as she disappeared into the curtains.

“She said she had an act.” Natalia shrugged.

“Did she say what it was?” Bree asked.

“Nope.” Natalia shook her head.

“Do I even want to know about our third act?” Bree asked.

“Well,” Will leaned over. “Gavin and I are doing a duet-”

“No, we’re not!” Gavin argued.

“What song are we doing, Gav?” Will asked.

“None!”

“Fine.” Will said. “Hey Ramona, pick a song.”

“You should probably do one everyone knows.” Ramona said.

“Don’t encourage him.” Gavin said.

“Hmm,” Natalia paused in mock contemplation. “Ooh, what about Sweet Caroline?”

“That’s perfect!” Ramona gasped.

“You hear that, Gavin?” Will asked. “That’s perfect.”

“Oh god, this is actually happening, isn’t it?” Gavin said.

“Is this seriously the only act you could put together?” Natalia whispered to Will.

“Yep.” Will nodded.

“Alright,” Brad said. “Next up for the Freaks, we have Lyla!”

Lyla walked onstage, guitar in hand, and stood awkwardly in the center as Brad began walking off.

“Hey, Brad!” Digit called. “Maybe give her a stool or something?”

“Oh sh*t, you’re right!” Brad said, reappearing onstage with a stool in hand. “Oh, I mean shoot, sorry kids.”

“I’m sure they’ve heard worse.” Digit said, most of the contestants nodding in agreement.

“Wait! I got a microphone back here too!” Brad disappeared backstage again and returned with a microphone and a stand, placing it in front of Lyla. “It’s not connected to anything, but it’s the thought that counts.”

“Right…” Lyla said as she rearranged the mic stand so it wasn’t in her way and positioned her guitar in her lap.

“Psst,” Brad loudly whispered from backstage. “Tell them what you’re doing.”

“Oh, right.” Lyla’s face turned red. “Um, I’m singing a song.”

“Is it an original song?” Brad asked, trying to prompt something out of Lyla.

“No.” Lyla shook her head. “Sorry, I couldn’t really think of anything that didn’t suck in time. So yeah, I’m just gonna start playing now.”

The Freaks clapped while some of the Populars started quietly laughing amongst themselves.

Lyla started playing her guitar, at first nervous, but soon the rhythm of the music drowned out the world around her.

Love At First Sight - The Brobecks

Love At First Sight - The Brobecks

Could this be love at first sight, or should I walk by again?

You're photogenically dressed

The conversation begins

Oh God, now what did I say?

Let me start over again

Jesse watched Lyla play in awe, completely entranced by the music.

Could this be love at first sight-- oh wait, I said that before

I need a place for the night

Happy to sleep on the floor

But don't go out of your way

And I won't talk anymore

“She’s really good.” Ally whispered to Dominic.

“Yeah.” Dominic agreed, smiling to himself while watching Ally sway back and forth to the music.

Turn the lights off, I'm in love

Wouldn't you like to, wouldn't you like to kiss her?

Wouldn't you like to, wouldn't you like to dance with her?

A light blush crept up Bree’s cheeks as she caught her eyes wandering to the girl sitting next to her. She quickly snapped her attention back to the stage and put back on a neutral expression, but not before Gavin noticed her staring at Ramona.

Darkened nights and violent things

Vaudevillian girls and violin strings

All of these are the prettiest things when I'm in love

Lyla played a few more chords on her guitar before the song came to close. The whole audience applauded her.

“Chef?” Brad asked as he walked back onstage. “What’s her score?”

Chef sniffled a little before holding up a sign with a 9 painted on it.

The Freaks continued to cheer even louder than before, while the Populars slowly stopped clapping. Lyla swung her guitar back over her shoulder before rejoining her team.

“You were amazing!” Ally exclaimed, pulling Lyla into a hug.

“That was way better than their stupid play.” Violet said, motioning to Peter.

“Normally I’d be offended, but honestly, she’s right.” Peter said.

“I liked your play.” Lyla said. “I didn’t really understand what was happening, but it was funny!”

“Everyone died.” Garret said.

“Oh, is that what happened?” Lyla asked.

Quinn and Casey practically burst out laughing.

“I told you the scene where everybody dies was the way to go.” Quinn said to Peter.

“Yeah, yeah.” Peter rolled his eyes, still smiling.

With the team’s attention drawn elsewhere, Lyla sat back in her seat next to Jesse.

“You really were amazing.” Jesse said.

“Thanks.” Lyla’s cheeks turned bright red.

***

“You know, if you had told me a month before this show that I’d fall for the homeschooled kid, I would’ve laughed, and laughed… and laughed.” Lyla said in the confessional. “But, oh my god, it’s happening and I want to vomit.” She put her head in her hands. “But I also kinda want to kiss him.” She paused. “Not after vomiting, though. That’d just be gross.”

***

“Next up for the Populars, we have Britney!” Brad announced.

Britney smiled and walked centerstage.

“And what will you be doing, Brit?” Brad asked.

“I will be reciting pi to the hundredth digit.” Britney said.

“You’ll… what?” Brad and the rest of the audience looked on with confused expressions.

“I will be reciting pi to the hundredth digit.” Britney repeated.

“If you can do that, then you win.” Chef chuckled.

Britney’s smile was replaced with a more mischievous smirk.

“I’ll check her.” Digit said, pulling what looked like a calculator out of her pocket. “Make sure she’s not just making it up.”

“Do you just carry around a calculator?” Brad asked. “Nerd.”

“Shut up!” Digit said.

“Okay, Britney,” Brad began backing off stage. “Take it away.”

Britney twirled a strand of blonde hair around her finger.

The audience all leaned in expectantly.

“3.141592653589793238462643383279”

A look of awe and horror appeared on Digit’s face as she saw that every number Britney was saying was correct.

“5028841971693993751058209749445923078164”

“Oh my god…” Natalia’s jaw, and many others, were practically on the floor.

“062862089986280348253421170679”

Britney smiled as soon as she finished.

Brad started slowly clapping as he came back onstage. The audience, still very confused, joined in.

“Well, Chef?” Brad asked. “What’s her scor-”

“I win, right?” Britney asked.

“What?” Brad raised an eyebrow.

“He said if I can do it, I win.” Britney said. “I did it, so I win.”

The Populars, although still confused, all beamed at the blonde. The Freaks, on the other hand, were starting to look nervous.

“Well,” Chef said. “I guess she wins.”

The Populars all cheered while the Freaks’ faces fell.

***

“That’s gonna be a little harder to talk my way out of,” Britney said in the confessional. “But we couldn’t afford to lose another challenge. I couldn’t afford to lose another challenge.”

***

“But there’s still more acts.” Brad said.

“Were any of them gonna be good, though?” Digit asked.

“Hey!” Dominic crossed his arms.

“Okay, can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Populars win!” Brad said. “Freaks, I’ll see you all at the campfire tonight.”

The Freaks all frowned.

“Oh, don’t worry, it gets worse.” Digit said. “Chef, didn’t you say you had a twist for tonight’s elimination?”

“A twist?” The Freaks exclaimed.

“Came from the man in charge himself.” Chef said, pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket.

“Speaking of Chris, are you gonna tell us why he’s on the run from the cops?” Brad asked. “Maybe just where he is?”

“Nope.” Chef said.

“Awesome.” Digit said sarcastically.

Chef turned back to the Freaks. “You can only vote off one of your acts.”

“Wait, what?” Ally asked.

“Hold up, I was supposed to go on.” Dominic said. “Does that mean they can vote for me too?”

“Dom, don’t.” Ally said.

“No, you’re safe. You never actually went on.” Digit said. “The only ones up for elimination are Lyla and…” She looked over at Quinn, Casey, Garret, and Peter.

“The play was my idea.” Peter stepped forward. “It was my act. Put me up for elimination, not them.”

“What are you doing?” Quinn whispered behind him.

“Alright, Lyla and Peter, you guys are up for elimination.” Digit said. “Freaks, I’ll see you all at the campfire tonight.”

The Freaks all stood in stunned silence. Even some of the Populars looked shocked.

“Well,” Ally finally broke the silence. “I guess we should go… figure this out.”

“I guess so.” Quinn nodded.

The Freaks silently walked back towards the cabins, eventually breaking off once they reached the front of the cabin.

The Populars watched from the stands with varying expressions. Some looked sympathetic, while some looked amused.

“Hey, Brit?” Natalia asked, turning to the blonde.

“Yeah.” Britney smiled.

What the hell was that?” Natalia raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, just something my dads taught me.” Britney giggled and brushed a curly strand of hair out of her face.

“Right…”

“You have two dads?” Gavin asked.

“Not really the point.” Bree leaned over and whispered to him.

“Yeah!” Britney said. “One of them’s an astronomer and the other is a neuroscientist.”

“Well, I guess that kinda explains it.” Will shrugged.

“Whatever.” Natalia said. “Let’s just be glad we didn’t lose this one.”

“Agreed.” Veronica nodded.

“But me and Gavin never got to sing our duet.” Will said.

“And we never will!” Gavin said.

“Oh, come on,” Will said. “One time for the team?”

Gavin shook his head.

“We’ll all sing along!” Ramona grabbed Gavin’s shoulders and smiled.

Gavin sighed. “Fine.”

Cheering and off-key singing echoed from the stands as the stage lights turned off.

Sweet Caroline

Ba-ba-ba

Good times never seemed so good

Back at the cabins, Peter was mumbling along to the song. “So good, so good, so good-”

“Peter!” Quinn said. “When I said we go down together, that included you!”

“I know.” Peter sighed. “But it’s okay. Whatever happens, happens.”

Quinn, Casey, Garret, and Peter were gathered in the boys’ side of their cabin.

“There has to be some kind of loophole.” Casey said.

“I don’t think so, bud.” Peter put his hand on Casey’s shoulder. “I think we just have to let the chips fall where they may.”

“Well, we have to vote for Lyla.” Garret said. “We can’t vote for you.”

“This sucks.” Peter said. “Lyla’s super nice.”

“So are you.” Quinn said. “But yeah, this sucks.”

On the other side of the cabin, Ally, Dominic, Jesse, and Lyla were talking. Lyla clutched her guitar to her chest while Ally paced back and forth across the room.

“There has to be some kind of loophole!” Ally said.

“I doubt it.” Lyla frowned.

“Then I guess we have to vote for Peter.” Jesse said. “We’re not voting for you.”

“But Peter’s more useful than me.” Lyla said.

“That’s not true!” Ally said. “You both have your own unique strengths.”

“Yeah, and this was the only challenge mine would be useful in.” Lyla said.

“You did find that key last challenge.” Dominic pointed out.

“You did!” Jesse said.

Lyla held her guitar closer to her chest.

“Okay,” Ally began. “It’s the four of us-”

“-Versus the four of them.” Quinn finished in the other side of the cabin.

“That leaves one wildcard.” Casey said.

The Freaks on both sides of the cabin all collectively sighed upon realizing who was left.

“I’ll talk to her.” Ally said.

“I don’t want to talk to her.” Quinn said.

“Thanks, Ally.” Lyla smiled a little.

“You don’t have to, Quinn.” Peter said.

At the same time, Ally and Quinn emerged from the two sides of the cabin.

“Oh!” Ally said. “Hey, Quinn.”

“Hey, Ally.” Quinn waved a little.

The two awkwardly looked at each other and then out into the distance where their final teammate was.

“So, are you gonna-”

“Could you please, oh sorry I cut you off.”

“No, it’s alright.”

“I just,” Quinn stammered. “Need to get to the ramp.”

“Oh!” Ally stepped back and pressed her body against the wall, making a path for Quinn. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Quinn wheeled past Ally and down the ramp.

While Quinn went down the ramp, Ally climbed down the steps.

“So,” Ally started again. “Are you going to talk to-?”

“Sadly.” Quinn said.

“Do you want to go first?” Ally asked.

“No, no.” Quinn said. “I insist.”

Ally sighed. “Alright.”

Ally walked across the clearing and towards the dock where Violet was sitting.

“Hey, Violet.” Ally sat down next to Violet.

“Who do you want me to vote for?” Violet asked.

“You know, I was at least gonna try and make small talk first.” Ally said.

“Well, skip the small talk.” Violet said.

“Okay, well, you can vote for whoever you want to.” Ally said. “But Dom, Jesse, Lyla, and I are voting for Peter.”

“Which means the other four are voting for Lyla.” Violet said.

“Most likely.” Ally nodded. “But, again, totally up to you.”

“You can say that again.” Violet let out a laugh.

“Vi, can I ask you something?”

“Shoot.”

“What’s that symbol on your jacket?” Ally asked.

Violet took off her jacket and looked at the design on the back. A pretty flower, engulfed in flames.

“It’s a family thing.” Violet said.

“Aw, did someone in your family design it?” Ally asked. “Like your mom or your dad?”

“Not that kind of family.” Violet said.

“Oh.” Ally looked down. “Sorry.”

“It’s alright.” Violet shrugged. “I lived.”

“This is nice.” Ally said. “We’ve never really talked like this.”

“Yeah, I don’t really talk to a lot of people about it.” Violet said.

“How come?”

“No one really asks.”

“Does that mean I can ask you more?” Ally asked excitedly.

“No.” Violet said. “Too much information in one night.”

“Aw.” Ally frowned.

“Hey, I gotta keep up my mysterious element somehow.” Violet said.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Ally said. “Just one more question?”

Violet sighed. “Fine.”

“What kind of family did you mean?” Ally asked.

“A gang.” Violet said.

Oh,”

“Explains a lot, I know.” Violet said.

“No! I didn’t mean it like that.” Ally said.

“Yeah, this was enough backstory for me for one night.” Violet said. “You want me to vote for Peter?”

“I would appreciate it.” Ally said.

“Cool.” Violet said. “Wanna act like this conversation never happened?”

“If you want to, then sure.” Ally said.

“Alright, well, I’ll see you later.” Violet said.

“Bye, bye!” Ally got up and waved as she walked off.

***

“That was… a lot.” Ally said. “And somehow I have even more questions than I did before, but I guess it’s nice Violet’s finally starting to open up.”

***

“How’d it go?” Quinn asked Ally as she walked past.

“Pretty good, actually.” Ally said. “Except we didn’t really talk about the elimination.”

“Oh?” Quinn said. “So what did you talk about?”

“Mostly personal stuff.” Ally said. “It was a little unexpected.”

“Yeah…” Quinn nodded. “Well, I better go talk to her.”

“Good luck!” Ally said before skipping off.

***

“Oh Ally, bless her kind and innocent soul,” Quinn said in the confessional. “But her mind is not made for strategy.”

***

“Hey, Violet.” Quinn said as she rolled down the dock.

“Where’s the rest of your posse, Wheels?” Violet asked.

“I came alone.” Quinn said.

“Shocking.”

“Look, I know you don’t like me.” Quinn said. “And I know you don’t like Peter, but don’t vote him off.”

“Why not?” Violet asked.

“Because you’re smarter than that.”

“Go on.” Violet raised an eyebrow.

Quinn rolled her eyes. “Peter’s more useful in challenges. Lyla’s a great person, but she’s not the strongest person. And we need strength if we want to beat the super jocks on the other team.”

“Didn’t they vote off most of their super jocks?” Violet said.

“They still have enough.” Quinn said. “They have Ramona, and Will, and did you see Bree’s cheer routine?”

“You know what, Wheels?” Violet said. “You’re absolutely right.”

“About what?” Quinn asked, slightly surprised.

“Peter is more useful in challenges.” Violet stood up and began walking back across the dock. She stopped and leaned down as she passed Quinn. “That doesn’t mean he’s safe.”

Violet continued walking, leaving Quinn alone on the dock.

Meanwhile, Lyla had gone to her usual spot behind the cabins with her guitar to clear her head.

“You know, you really were great at the talent show.”

Lyla jumped at the sudden voice and jumped again when she realized the person was much taller than her usual company.

“Peter?” Lyla asked.

“Seriously,” Peter continued. “Have you ever considered doing a musical?”

“What are you doing here?” Lyla asked.

“Casey and Garret keep looking at me like I’m dying or something.” Peter said. “And it’s stressing me out!”

“Same.” Lyla sighed. “Well, minus the Casey and Garret part.”

“Yeah, you got your own man worried about you.” Peter teased.

“Jesse’s not my man.” Lyla rolled her eyes.

“Right.” Peter said. “You just happen to be singing a bunch of love songs.”

“Love songs are popular!” Lyla argued. “It was a choice made strictly for the challenge.”

“Mmhm.” Peter nodded, but didn’t look convinced.

“How do you even know if I like him?”

“Um, I have eyes.” Peter said. “And ears. You and Quinn were literally talking about it last challenge.”

Lyla leaned back against a tree and groaned. Peter laughed as he sat down next to her.

“Oh, come on. Everyone knows you like him, everyone knows he likes you.” Peter said. “What’s stopping you from making a move?”

“I don’t know.”

“I mean, Jesse’s never left his house before this summer, so he’s definitely not gonna make the first move.” Peter continued. “Probably doesn’t even know how.”

“Do you really think he likes me?” Lyla asked.

“Why wouldn’t he?” Peter looked genuinely shocked.

“Because I’m not special.” Lyla said. “Ally’s so nice and caring, Quinn’s super smart, and even Violet’s really strong. I don’t get what he sees in me.”

“Wanna hear a secret?” Peter whispered.

“Sure…” Lyla raised an eyebrow.

“You’re all those things too.” Peter said. “Just in your own unique way. And that’s why Jesse likes you, because you’re not like Ally or Quinn. I think he extremely likes the fact that you’re nothing like Violet either.”

“Thanks, Peter.” Lyla blushed.

“I’m serious, you’re a total catch.” Peter said. “If I wasn’t gay, I’d probably have a crush on you too!”

This made Lyla burst out laughing.

“You know, I’ve actually kissed a girl before.” Peter said. “I didn’t like it, but I did it.”

“Stage kisses don’t count.” Lyla said.

“It wasn’t a stage kiss.” Peter said. “It was a game of spin the bottle my freshman year.”

“Spin the bottle doesn’t count either!” Lyla said.

“Well, then I’ve never kissed anyone and that just makes me a loser.” Peter joked.

“Um, Peter?” Lyla said. “You already are. That’s kinda the whole point of our team.”

“You’re damn right it is.” Peter pulled Lyla into a hug. “Now let’s get back to the cabins before Casey and Garret start thinking I actually died.”

Lyla laughed as Peter helped her up and the two made their way back.

Back at the cabins, Quinn had eventually rejoined Casey and Garret.

“How’d it go with Violet?” Casey asked.

“Not great.” Quinn admitted. “But on the bright side, I’m pretty sure Ally didn’t even really talk to her about the elimination.”

“Then what did they talk about?” Garret asked.

“I don’t know.” Quinn shrugged. “Their feelings or something.”

“Gross.” Casey said.

Quinn nodded in agreement.

“So we still have no clue who Violet’s voting for?” Garret asked.

“Nope.” Quinn said. “She may vote for Lyla so we don’t lose an asset in challenges. She may vote for Peter just to piss me off.”

“Attention, Freaks!” Digits voice echoed over the loudspeakers. “Please report to the campfire for the elimination ceremony.”

“Where is Peter?” Garret asked.

Almost as if on cue, Peter reentered the cabin.

“Where were you?” Quinn asked.

“I was talking to Lyla.” Peter said. “How’d your talk with Violet go?”

“About as good as you’d expect.” Quinn said.

“Ah, so not good.” Peter shrugged. “Oh well.”

“We still don’t know for sure what she’s gonna do.” Garret said hopefully.

“Don’t worry about me, buddy.” Peter ruffled Garret’s hair. “You guys go ahead, I’ll meet you at the campfire in a minute.”

“Alright,” Quinn, Casey, and Garret made their way out of the cabin and started heading towards the campfire.

Peter stood alone in the center of the room, looking around. His eyes stopped on Casey’s journal, left lying on his bed, closed. Peter sighed.

Lyla also rejoined her friends as they made their way to the campfire.

“Lyla!” Ally pulled Lyla into a hug.

“Relax, Ally.” Lyla laughed. “I’m not gone yet.”

“And you’re not leaving!” Jesse said.

“Jess,” Lyla began.

“Hey, Dom, I think we should go ahead.” Ally grabbed Dominic while not-so subtly looking between Lyla and Jesse.

“What?” Dominic asked as he was dragged away.

“Jess,” Lyla started again once it was just the two of them. “Just in case I do go home tonight-”

“You’re not-”

“Just in case,” Lyla said. “I wanted to say thank you. I never had a lot of friends and you’re a really great one.”

“So are you.” Jesse nudged Lyla as they walked.

“Am I gonna be able to see you outside of your house when this is all over?” Lyla asked.

“Definitely.” Jesse smiled.

Eventually all of the Freaks made their way to the campfire.

“Alright, Freaks,” Brad said. “You know the drill, go vote.”

***

“If this actually works,” Lyla said as she cast her vote. “I’m gonna feel so guilty.”

***

Peter didn’t say anything as he cast his vote. He only sighed when putting it in the ballot box.

***

Violet was the last one to go into the confessional.

“I’d like it to be on record,” Violet said as she scrawled her vote. “That I’m actually doing something nice for Wheels.” She placed her vote in the box. “For once.”

***

“So, Freaks,” Brad addressed the group once they had all voted. “How do you feel about tonight elimination?”

The Freaks simply looked around at each other, not knowing what to say.

“You know what? I’m gonna say it.” Dominic broke the silence. “We are putting way too much faith in Violet right now.”

“Oh, but you were fine putting faith in me for your little magic act!” Violet snapped back.

Digit threw a marshmallow at both of them. “You’re both safe, now stop talking.”

“Ally, Quinn, Jesse, Casey, and Garret,” Brad threw marshmallows to them as well. “You guys are also safe. Duh.”

“And the final marshmallow goes to…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“…Lyla.” Digit threw the last marshmallow to the songwriter. “Sorry, Peter.”

Quinn, Casey, and even Garret glared daggers at Violet. Violet just looked confused.

“Well,” Peter stood up and sighed. “I had a good run.”

“This isn’t right.” Quinn shook her head.

“Lots of things aren’t. You know that.” Peter knelt down and gave Quinn a hug. “Don’t forget about the things that are.”

Garret got up and was the next to give Peter a hug.

“Gar!” Peter ruffled his hair one last time. “You don’t have to be so scared all the time, buddy. You got a whole team that has your back.”

Casey shuffled awkwardly next to them.

“Yeah, you’re getting a hug too.” Peter grabbed Casey and pulled him into a hug. “Don’t be afraid to let other people see how much you care.”

At this point, the rest of the Freaks had gotten up as well. Peter pulled Ally, Dominic, Jesse, and Lyla into a big group hug.

“I’m sorry.” Lyla said.

“Don’t be.” Peter smiled. “And don’t forget what we talked about.”

There was only one Freak that had yet to be hugged.

“Come on, Vi,” Peter held out his arms. “I’m not leaving until you give me a hug.”

“Fine.” Violet rolled her eyes and let Peter hug her.

“I knew you wouldn’t vote for me.” Peter whispered to Violet.

“How?” Violet whispered back. “Why?”

“There’s a lot of people here with a lot of good in them.” Peter let go of Violet. “You’re one of them.”

“Alright, theater kid,” Digit said. “Stop milking it and get in the canoe.”

“Let him talk!” Brad wiped a tear from his eye. “I’m moved!”

“Bye, guys!” Peter waved as he got in the Canoe of Catastrophe and began to float away. “Keep taking care of each other!”

The rest of the Freaks waved until Peter was out of sight and then began returning to the cabins.

Ally, Lyla, Jesse, and Dominic went back into the cabin, but Quinn, Casey, and Garret blocked the stairs so Violet couldn’t get past.

“Look,” Violet said. “I don’t know what happened-”

“Yes, you do.” Quinn glared at her. “You voted for Peter. That’s what happened.”

“No, I didn’t!” Violet argued.

“And why should we believe you?” Casey asked.

“Um, Casey?” The door to the boys’ side of the cabin opened and Dominic stepped out. “There’s something in here you should look at.”

Casey went into the cabin and saw his journal lying on his bed, open. He grabbed it and saw that the page it was open to was written in a handwriting that wasn’t his.

“Casey?” Quinn and Garret appeared in the doorway. “What is it?”

“A letter from Peter.” Casey didn’t even look up. “He voted for himself.”

Meanwhile, in the Populars’ cabin, the girls were getting ready for bed.

“Brit, you seriously saved our asses today.” Natalia said.

“Yeah.” Ramona nodded. “I feel bad for the Freaks. Tonight’s elimination must’ve been awful.”

“Who do you think got the boot?” Veronica asked.

“I don’t know!” Ramona said. “But it’s just so sad.”

“Brit, I still have no idea where that even came from.” Bree said.

“Oh, you know,” Britney giggled. “Just something my dads taught me.”

“Right.” Bree laughed. “You’re sure you’re not secretly a genius or something?”

The girls all laughed, although Britney looked particularly uncomfortable.

Once the lights were turned off and all the girls had gone to sleep, Britney sat crisscross on her bed, awake. She was staring at the drawer that a certain cheerleader kept their makeup bag in…

Once the conflict had cleared in front of the Freaks’ cabin and most of them had gone to sleep, Ally, Lyla, and Jesse were talking on the porch.

“Well, Lyla,” Ally pulled Lyla into another hug. “I’m really glad you’re still here, but I’m also really exhausted, so I’m gonna go to sleep.”

“Okay.” Lyla giggled. “Goodnight, Ally.”

Ally gave Jesse a little hug too before quietly going into the cabin, careful not to wake any of her teammates. Before climbing into her own bed, Ally looked at the sleeping Quinn in the bunk underneath hers.

“I’m sorry, Quinn.” Ally gave Quinn a soft kiss on her forehead.

***

“I feel awful.” Ally said in the confessional. “Dominic told me about the letter and I can’t even imagine how Quinn and the others must be feeling right now. Tomorrow’s gonna be interesting…”

***

Lyla and Jesse were still talking outside.

“I’m really glad you’re still here too.” Jesse said.

“I am too.” Lyla smiled. “I’m not sure I would’ve said that a couple days ago.”

“Now we can start writing that song together!”

“Yeah,”

The two stayed in comfortable silence for a moment.

“Jesse?” Lyla said.

“Yeah.” Jesse said.

“Have you ever kissed anyone?” Lyla asked.

“No.” Jesse blushed.

“Do you want to?”

Jesse’s face turned completely red before he smiled and said “Yeah…”

Lyla cupped Jesse’s cheeks in her hands and gently kissed him. Even though this was a new experience for Jesse, he still managed to kiss her back.

“Ooh, romance alert!” Brad said inside the mess hall.

"Had cut back to us to keep this show PG!" Digit said sarcastically. "Gotta think of the kids."

"Dig, the kids here curse all the time." Brad said. "We curse all the time."

“And they’re already doing better than our first couple of the season!” Digit added. “Too soon?”

“Just a little.” Brad said.

Digit shrugged. “Just close the show, I’m tired.”

“Alright,” Brad turned to face the camera. “Will Quinn, Casey, and Garret crumble without Peter?”

“Probably.” Digit said.

“Will Lyla actually follow Peter’s advice?” Brad said. “Will anyone follow Peter’s advice??”

“Probably not.” Digit said.

“That dude dropped some serious wisdom on his way out.” Brad said. “I’m still not over it.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Digit said. “We have more tissues in the interns’ quarters.”

“Ooh! That reminds me,” Brad said. “What information did Natalia, Veronica, and Britney find out about Ally?”

“Stuff they shouldn’t have been sticking their noses in!” Digit said angrily.

“And speaking of Britney, what is up with her??”

“God only knows.”

“But you might find out next time on…”

“Camp…”

“Total…”

“Drama!”

Chapter 7: Mines Over Matter

“Last time on Camp Total Drama,” Digit was sitting in the mess hall while Brad cooked breakfast in the back. “Our teams showed off their talent! Well, lack of talent.”

“They weren’t that bad.” Brad interjected.

“Whatever.” Digit shrugged. “Anyway, the Freaks lost after Britney revealed she actually has a brain under all that blonde hair. Our special guest judge, Chef, gave a twist to the elimination ceremony, forcing the Freaks to vote for one of their two acts that went on. In the end, Peter decided to take the fall for his team and vote himself off. Kinda stupid, in my opinion.”

“Don’t forget about the other thing!” Brad said.

“Oh yeah!” Digit said. “A trio from the Populars broke into the interns’ quarters! They even left evidence!” She pulled a red scrunchie from her pocket and waved it.

“And while they were there, they found some serious dirt on the face of the Freaks,” Brad added. “Ally.”

“Will the Freaks bounce back,” Digit said. “Or will they crack under the pressure?”

“Don’t we usually do the questions at the end of the episode?” Brad asked.

“And will Brad remember to lock the door to the interns’ quarters?” Digit glared at him.

“That was a low blow.” Brad said.

“Don’t care.” Digit smiled while Brad glared back.

In the early hours of the morning, just as the sun was beginning to rise, Bree had just woken up to start her daily morning routine.

“Where is it?” Bree muttered while rummaging through her drawer.

Bree frustratedly closed her drawer, breaking the peaceful silence of the room.

“Sh*t,” Bree whispered.

“Bree?” Ramona groggily rubbed eyes.

Sh*t,” Bree looked around to see if anyone else was waking up.

“Bree, what’s wrong?” Ramona asked, sitting up.

“Nothing,” Bree turned her face back to the drawers. “I can’t find my makeup bag.”

“Bree, are you okay? You’re shaking.” Ramona reached out and grabbed Bree’s arm. “Come on, let’s go outside.”

“Wait, no-”

“Come on, it’s okay.” Ramona took Bree’s hand and led her outside, careful not to wake any of the others.

“Ramona-”

Oh,”

Once they were outside, Ramona could see in the faint sunlight that Bree’s face was covered in freckles.

“Yeah…” Bree’s face turned red with embarrassment.

“Is that why you always get up so early to do your makeup?” Ramona asked. “You didn’t want us to know you have freckles?”

“Yes.” Bree said.

“Why?” Ramona asked. “I still think you look really pretty.”

“It’s not just that.” Bree sighed. “It’s kinda complicated.”

“You can tell me.” Ramona still held Bree’s hand. “If you want.”

“Well, it’s kinda because of my mom.” Bree said. “Not intentionally, but… My dad left when my mom got pregnant with me.”

“Oh,” Ramona frowned. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine, I never really knew him.” Bree shrugged. “When I was growing up, my mom would always say I got my freckles from my dad. My mom’s great, but when I got older, I could tell it made her sad. So I never really liked my freckles growing up.”

“And the makeup?”

“Yeah, that started around when I started high school.” Bree said. “I already knew how to do my makeup because of cheer and I started doing it more and more until it just became an everyday thing.”

Bree and Ramona leaned against the railing together, still holding hands, not sure what to say next.

“I’m sorry, that was a lot.” Bree said.

“No, don’t apologize.” Ramona said. “I’m glad you told me. And I’m gonna help you find your makeup bag.”

“Once everyone else is up it won’t really matter.” Bree shrugged.

“I know you don’t like your freckles, but,” Ramona turned her head to look at her. “Bree, you’re beautiful.”

“Thanks.” Bree blushed and a smile appeared across her face. “So are you.”

“Come here,” Ramona pulled Bree into a hug.

The door to their cabin suddenly opened.

“Oh!” Britney’s face appeared in the doorway. “Hey, guys.”

“Hey, Brit.” Ramona sighed.

“Hey, Bree, you look kinda different.” Britney said.

“Yeah.” Bree said through gritted teeth. “Bye, Brit.”

“Oh, okay.” Britney slowly closed the door again.

“I think someone stole my makeup bag.” Bree said once Britney was gone.

Bree,” Ramona giggled.

“I’m serious.” Bree said. “It’s always in my drawer and it wasn’t there. Someone stole it.”

Ramona held Bree tighter. “Then we’ll find out who stole it.”

“Yeah.” Bree nodded. “You really are the best.”

“So are you.” Ramona smiled.

***

“I never really thought much about dating back home. I was usually too busy with soccer anyway.” Ramona said in the confessional. “But when I’m with Bree things just feel… different. I don’t know, I’m probably looking too deeply into things. I mean, Bree flirts with everyone, not just me.”

***

Meanwhile, in the Freaks’ cabin, Lyla and Ally had just woken up.

“Are you alright after last night?” Ally asked quietly.

“What?” Lyla responded, a little startled.

“The elimination ceremony?” Ally said. “You kinda almost went home.”

“Oh,” Lyla nodded. “Yeah, that.”

“Did something else happen last night?” Ally asked with a smirk.

“Maybe.” Lyla blushed.

“Ooh!”

“Shhh,” Lyla held a finger up to her mouth. “Don’t wake up the others.”

“Oh, sorry.” Ally whispered. “What happened last night?”

“Me and Jesse kissed.”

Finally.”

Ally and Lyla looked down and saw that Quinn was wide awake in her bed.

“Sorry, Quinn!” Ally whispered. “Did I wake you up?”

“Yeah, but it’s fine.” Quinn said. “I’d be more worried about waking our other roommate.”

The three girls all looked over at Violet’s bunk where she lay curled up and still asleep.

“She almost looks peaceful.” Ally smiled.

“Maybe we should continue this conversation somewhere else.” Lyla said.

The other two nodded in agreement.

As the sun continued to rise, the contestants eventually started making their way to the mess hall for breakfast. In the Freaks’ cabin, the only people remaining on the boys’ side were Dominic and Casey.

“Hey,” Dominic grabbed Casey before he could leave the cabin. “You okay?”

“I’m fine.” Casey said, his face unreadable. “Why?”

“Well, you seemed kinda upset last night.” Dominic said.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that.” Casey said. “It’s just-”

“Don’t be sorry, man. I get why you were upset.” Dominic said. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay. It’s still bugging you, isn’t it?”

“It shouldn’t have been Peter.”

“Hey, there’s no need to go get mad at Lyla-”

“It shouldn’t have been Lyla either.”

“And who should it have been?” Dominic asked. “You?”

Casey didn’t respond.

“I was the act that never went on, maybe it should’ve been me.” Dominic continued. “If I had gone first instead of Peter, it probably would’ve been me.”

“Don’t say that.” Casey said.

“Then don’t say that about you.” Dominic said. “Peter made his choice. You can’t blame yourself for it.”

“Thanks, Dom.” Casey smiled slightly. “You know, that’s the most intelligent thing I’ve heard come out of your mouth.”

“I’m a man of many talents.” Dominic winked. “Now let’s go get some breakfast.”

Dominic swung his arm around Casey’s shoulders and the two walked to the mess hall together.

The contestants all gathered in the mess hall for breakfast, each team sitting at their usual tables.

“You have freckles?” Gavin asked Bree. “That’s your big, angsty secret? Freckles?”

Bree glared at him.

“What?” Gavin said. “You still look fine.”

“Gee, thanks.” Bree rolled her eyes.

“Bree, I’m gay.” Gavin said. “That’s the closest you’re gonna get to me calling you attractive.”

“You’re the worst.” Bree laughed.

“Good morning, kiddos.” Digit said dryly as she walked into the mess hall. “Are you excited for today’s challenge?”

The contestants groaned in response.

“Good answer.” Digit said. “Today’s challenge is, as Brad likes to call it, a double-wham-”

“A double-whammy!” Brad jumped over the back counter of the mess hall, joining Digit in front of the contestants. “It’s two challenges in one!”

“Why?” Quinn asked.

“Oh please, yesterday’s challenge was so easy.” Digit said. “It’s not our fault you guys have no talent.”

“Hey, some of the acts were kinda good.” Brad said.

“Fine.” Digit said. “Limited talent.”

“One half of today’s challenge is happening underground in the mines!” Brad said.

“The other half of the challenge is happening on the beach.” Digit added. “And includes shooting mines.”

“Each team must pick three people to send into the mines to retrieve a Guilded Chris Award.” Brad said. “Whichever team comes out with the statue first, wins that half of the challenge.”

“Why only three people?” Veronica asked.

“Well, we can’t afford to lose all of you in the mines.” Digit said nonchalantly.

“I kinda regret asking now.” Veronica said.

“Yeah, you should.” Digit nodded.

“The rest of each team will head down to the beach,” Brad continued. “For the obligatory swimsuit challenge! Teams can divide themselves however they see fit between two speedboats, each equipped with a seagull machine gun.”

“Are they living seagulls?” Ally asked, horrified.

“Probably not.” Brad shrugged.

“Attached to buoys scattered throughout the water, you’ll find highly explosive mines.” Digit continued. “Whichever team sets off the most, wins.”

“What if one team wins one challenge and the other team wins the other?” Casey asked.

“Shut up.” Digit and Brad said simultaneously.

“So there’s no tiebreaker?” Natalia asked.

“Not yet.” Digit said. “Maybe you’ll both be voting people off, I don’t know!”

“Yeah, we’re not doing that.” Brad put a hand on Digit’s shoulder to calm her down. “But you don’t need to worry about that right now! Start figuring out who you want to send where. You got, like, five minutes.”

The contestants could faintly hear Digit say “This was a terrible idea!” as Brad shoved her into the back room of the mess hall.

“So, what are we doing?” Will asked his team.

“I’ll go to the mines.” Natalia said.

“You’re offering to go into the mines?Will raised an eyebrow.

“Well, was anyone else dying to go?” Natalia asked, to no response. She turned to Veronica and Britney. “Do you two wanna come?”

“I wanted to go to the beach.” Britney pouted.

“We’ll take good care of her.” Gavin wrapped an arm around Britney while Bree and Ramona appeared behind them, smiling.

“Fine.” Natalia sighed. “Ramona, you’re in charge.”

“Got it!” Ramona saluted her.

“I guess that means we’re going to the mines?” Will said to Natalia and Veronica.

“I guess so.” Veronica shrugged.

The Freaks were having a similar discussion at their table.

“I don’t like the water.” Quinn said, eyes wide. “I’m not going in the water.”

“It’s okay, Quinn. You can go to the mines.” Ally put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Anyone else want to join-”

“I’ll go to the mines.”

All of the Freaks slowly turned to Violet, who had her hand raised.

“I hate the beach.” Violet added.

“Okay?” Ally said hesitantly. “Who else wants to go to the mines? We need one more.”

Casey and Garret looked at each other, then to Quinn, then back at each other. The two nodded, seemingly coming to an agreement.

“I’ll go.” Casey sighed.

“Great!” Ally clapped her hands together. “The rest of us are going to the beach!”

“Oh my god, Violet’s gonna kill Quinn.” Lyla whispered.

“What?” Jesse asked.

“Huh?” Lyla jumped.

***

“It just occurred to me that Jesse and I haven’t talked about last night yet, and that that talk is gonna happen on a speed boat while one of us mans a seagull machine gun.” Lyla said in the confessional. “Also that Jesse has never dated anyone in his life. So that’s fun, I guess.”

***

“Alright,” Digit reentered the mess hall. “Everyone going to the beach, get changed into your swimsuits and meet Brad there in ten. Everyone going to the mines, follow me.”

The trios from each team followed Digit out of the mess hall and into the surrounding forest.

“Since when do we have mines?” Veronica asked.

“Since this morning.” Digit said. “Technology really is amazing, kids.”

“You know you’re not that much older than us, right?” Quinn asked.

“Yeah, but I’m wise beyond my years.” Digit shrugged.

Digit walked ahead of the group to lead the way. The three Populars stayed clumped together, but Casey and Quinn kept a cautious distance from Violet.

“On a scale of 1-10, how badly do you think this is gonna go?” Quinn asked Casey.

“Oh, not that bad.” Casey said sarcastically. “Only an 11.”

Eventually, they found themselves at the entrance of a mine identical to the mine on Camp Wawanawkwa, post-radioactive exposure.

“Here’s a flashlight for each of you.” Digit threw a set of three flashlights to each team. “This mine may look just like the one from season four, but you won’t find anything radioactive down there. You’re welcome, I guess.”

“So, all we have to do is find that statue?” Natalia asked.

“Yep, and there’s one in there for each team.” Digit said. “Oh, by the way,”

Digit took the red scrunchie out of her pocket and shot it like a rubber band at Natalia. It fell into Natalia’s hands after hitting her in the face.

“Have fun underground.” Digit said, glaring straight at Natalia.

“What did you do?” Will whispered to Natalia.

“I’ll tell you later.” Natalia replied. “Maybe.”

Will rolled his eyes as both groups walked into the mines.

Meanwhile, the rest of the teams, now clad in swim suits, had boarded their respective speed boats on the beach.

“You sure you got the seagull shooting covered, Ally?” Dominic asked.

“Positive.” Ally nodded determinedly. “I can’t let my sympathy for robotic animals get in the way of challenges. Right, Garret?”

Garret, the extra third teammate in the boat, smiled and nodded, but once Ally had turned her attention away, he leaned over to Dominic and whispered “Doesn’t she not have the best aim? Remember the dodgeball challenge?”

“Yeah, you’re our backup shooter.” Dominic whispered, but continued talking at a normal volume. “And our backup driver. You never know, one of those Populars might try and take me out.”

“Wow, it’s like you’re reading my mind.”

Bree!”

Bree laughed almost maniacally behind her boat’s seagull gun while Ramona lightly rolled her eyes and continued slowly driving past the Freaks.

“You know, I was gonna do that at the talent show,” Dominic said. “But-”

Another speed boat rode by at a faster speed, sending a stream of water directly at Dominic.

“Never mind.” Dominic sighed while Garret, perfectly dry, held back a laugh.

“Sorry!” Jesse shouted from behind the wheel of his and Lyla’s boat.

“All good, Jess!” Ally, also still dry, gave him a thumbs up.

The fourth and final speed boat pulled up beside their boat. Gavin beeped the horn while Britney waved from behind the seagull gun.

“You ready, Brit?” Gavin asked.

“Yes!” Britney jumped excitedly.

“Alright, beach bums,” Brad’s voice echoed out into the water from the mega horn in his hand. “Your challenge is to shoot the most mines. You all have extra robo-seagulls if you need to reload. On your mark, get set… Go!”

The four boats sped off into the water and the seagull shooting commenced.

Back in the mines, the six contestants walked down the entrance tunnel. At the end was a single elevator.

“Ladies first,” Violet sarcastically gestured for the Populars to go first.

“Oh, and how are you gonna get down?” Natalia shot back. “Jump?”

“You know we might not be able to send the elevator back up.” Veronica added, feigning innocence.

“Then I guess we’re all going together.” Quinn said.

The six awkwardly squished into the small elevator.

“Everyone in?” Will asked, his hand holding the lever.

“No.” Casey glared at him.

Will rolled his eyes and pulled the lever. Everyone screamed as the elevator started free falling, coming to a screeching halt mere inches from hitting the ground.

“Well, this is off to a great start.” Casey said as everyone stumbled out of the elevator.

Will turned on his flashlight and looked around. “It could be worse.”

There were three tunnels leading out of the main chamber they were currently in.

“You probably shouldn’t have said that.” Natalia said.

Suddenly, the whole cavern started shaking.

“Cave in!” Casey shouted over the deafening rumbling. “Run!”

The six split up and dashed off as rocks started falling from the ceiling, a pair of two heading into each of the three tunnels.

“Holy crap,” Once the rumbling stopped, Natalia turned around and saw that the entrance to the tunnel she had ran into was now completely sealed with rocks.

“I hope Veronica made it out okay.” Will said.

“Yeah,” Natalia nodded, still staring at the blocked entryway. “She’s probably fine.”

“I guess now you have the time to explain what the two of you did yesterday?” Will said.

“Fine, but you’re not gonna like it.” Natalia said. “And for the record, it was Britney’s idea.”

In another tunnel, Quinn had just crashed into the wall after someone had pushed her in for safety.

“Casey?” Quinn asked.

“Guess again.”

Quinn turned her wheelchair around and saw Violet looking back at her.

“Oh, great.” Quinn said sarcastically.

“You think I’m thrilled about this?” Violet said. “You’re welcome for making sure a rock didn’t fall on your head, by the way.”

“I can do things myself.” Quinn said.

“Sure, you can.” Violet rolled her eyes. “Now come on.”

“What about Casey?” Quinn asked.

“Do you want to climb your way out of here?” Violet motioned to the entrance of the tunnel, that was also completely sealed by rocks.

The pair in the third tunnel were in a similar situation.

“What the hell are we gonna do now?” Veronica folded her arms.

“I don’t know.” Casey shrugged.

The two stood in awkward silence for a moment.

“Um, I’m Casey, by the way-”

“I know your name.” Veronica said. “We’ve been here for, like, two weeks.”

“Alright, just checking.” Casey said. “We should probably start moving.”

“Yeah, probably.” Veronica nodded.

The two just stared at each other.

“Temporary truce?” Casey asked. “You know, so we don’t die down here.”

“Fine.” Veronica started walking down the tunnel.

Casey sighed and followed.

Back at the beach…

“Fire in the hole!” Britney fired a seagull and a nearby mine exploded. “Bullseye!”

“I think you’re enjoying this a little too much.” Gavin said.

“Reload!” Britney threw open the crate in the back of the boat and started loading more seagulls into the gun.

“You don’t have to narrate everything, you know.” Gavin said.

“Incoming conflict on the starboard side!” Britney shouted, pointing to the right.

What?!” Gavin looked just in time to see Lyla and Jesse’s boat speeding in their direction.

Jesse swerved his boat around the backside of Gavin and Britney’s while Lyla fired at another nearby mine.

“Damn it,” Lyla muttered after missing by a few inches.

“You almost had it.” Jesse said. “I’ll circle back around.”

The mine that Lyla had just taken a shot at suddenly exploded.

“Yes!” Britney cheered from her boat.

“Never mind,” Jesse sighed.

“It’s alright, turn a little to the left.” Lyla said.

Jesse turned the wheel left and Lyla fired again, exploding another nearby mine.

“Alright!” Jesse cheered.

“Hey, Brit,” Gavin said as he steered their boat away from the others. “How come you know so many nautical terms?”

“Oh, I watch a lot of… pirate movies?” Britney said hesitantly.

“Right…” Gavin said.

“Reload!” Britney turned away from Gavin and back to the crate.

“Brit, your gun’s already loaded-”

Gavin was cut off by the beeping of a horn. He looked and saw Ramona waving to him from her and Bree’s boat.

“How many have you guys hit?” Ramona shouted over.

“I haven’t been keeping track,” Gavin looked back at Britney wildly firing a slew of seagulls and hitting even more mines. “But probably a lot.”

“Save some for the rest of us, Brit!” Bree yelled from behind her own seagull gun.

“Sorry!” Britney giggled.

Their boats split up again and Bree and Ramona headed further into the water.

“How do you think Digit and Brad even set up all these mines?” Ramona asked.

“I don’t think I want to know.” Bree said, taking a shot at a nearby mine.

“Nice!” Ramona said as the mine exploded.

“This challenge is oddly therapeutic.” Bree said.

“Speaking of therapeutic, are you feeling any better after this morning?” Ramona asked.

“Yeah, I guess.” Bree looked down at her freckle covered arms. “Thanks again for that.”

“Of course-”

Ramona stopped midsentence to dodge an incoming seagull that just missed her head.

“Sorry!” Ally shouted from her boat, while Garret watched her with wide eyes.

“Jesus! They put her in charge of seagull shooting?!” Bree exclaimed. “She’s gonna kill someone!”

“Oh, Ally’s harmless.” Ramona said. “Accidents happen.”

“She literally took out one of her own teammates during the dodgeball challenge.” Bree said. “And not just out of the game, out of consciousness.”

“I thought you liked Ally.” Ramona raised an eyebrow.

Bree froze behind the seagull gun.

***

“I did flirt with Ally during that other challenge, didn’t I?” Bree said in the confessional. “Well, at least I’m getting all my karma in one day.”

***

“Everything alright back there?” Dominic carefully steered their boat away from the other competitors.

“Um, yeah!” Ally answered nervously. “Everything’s fine! Right, Garret?”

“Oh, yep,” Garret nodded.

“You don’t think he saw me almost hit Ramona, do you?” Ally whispered to Garret.

“No, I think you’re okay.” Garret whispered back. “Are you sure you want to stay on seagull shooting duty?”

“Yeah, I think so.” Ally said. “I mean, the only way to get better is practice.”

“Okay…” Garret said, eyes still wide.

“Do you guys see any more mines around here?” Dominic asked.

Garret leaned against the side of boat and looked out. Ally looked around on the other side, bringing the seagull gun with her.

“I think I see something.” Garret said.

“Where?” Ally, who had her back to Garret, whipped herself and the seagull gun around…

… and hit Garret, sending him flying over the side of the boat.

“Garret!” Ally shouted, abandoning the seagull gun and running to the spot where Garret was standing. She leaned over the edge, looking for any sign of her teammate in the water, even though their boat was still moving.

Dominic turned around and, after noticing their lack of teammate, shouted “Man overboard!”

“What do we do?” Ramona asked Bree.

The two had seen what just happened, but their boat was already driving in the opposite direction.

“Um,” Bree looked around and made eye contact with one of her teammates in another boat. “Gavin!”

Gavin, who had also just watched his brother fall overboard, turned his boat around and started speeding towards where Garret had fallen.

“Brit!” Gavin yelled to his oblivious teammate. “Take the wheel!”

“Okay!” Britney grabbed the wheel as Gavin leaned over the side of the boat, his arm outstretched.

“What just happened?” Jesse asked Lyla.

“Remember when I said Violet was gonna kill Quinn in the mines?” Lyla asked.

“No?” Jesse responded.

“Well, I think Ally just killed Garret.”

In the mines, Natalia had just finished explaining what happened in the interns’ quarters the day before to Will.

“You broke into the interns’ quarters?!” Will asked. “Why?”

“I literally just told you.” Natalia said. “To find dirt on the other team.”

“And what did you find?” Will asked.

“Nothing.” Natalia shrugged nonchalantly. “It was a bust.”

“And you got caught.” Will said.

“I told you, Britney left the scrunchie in there, not me.” Natalia said.

“And this whole grand scheme was Britney’s idea too?” Will asked, unconvinced.

“Well, not the whole thing.” Natalia said. “But the breaking and entering part was all her.”

“You were right.” Will shook his head. “I don’t like it.”

“I tried to warn you.” Natalia said. “When is this tunnel gonna end? I feel like we’ve been walking forever.”

“Um,” Will turned a corner. “I think we just found the answer to that.”

The two were faced with another opening that was now sealed shut because of a cave in.

“Oh, great!” Natalia leaned against the wall of rocks and slid down. “Now what?”

Will slumped down next to her. “I have no idea.”

“Well then, it looks like we’re gonna be here for a while.” Natalia sighed.

In another tunnel, Casey and Veronica were still walking in awkward silence. Casey pulled out his journal and started taking notes on the various things he observed inside the tunnel.

“What are you writing?” Veronica asked.

“Notes.” Casey stated.

“About what?”

“Um, the tunnel.”

Veronica rolled her eyes. “Why?”

“Just in case.” Casey shrugged.

Veronica looked more closely at Casey’s journal and saw that he was writing on a page closer to the end. All of the pages before showed signs of being written in and looked back at a dozen times already.

“What else do you have written in there?” Veronica asked.

“Nothing.” Casey said.

“Oh, really? It’s just a journal full of rocks?” Veronica raised an eyebrow.

“Well, technically it would be notes about rocks.” Casey said. “Putting actual rocks in a journal would just be stupid-”

“What else do you have written in there?” Veronica repeated, this time sounding more like a threat.

“Everything.” Casey blurted out. “Notes about the different challenges, eliminations, contestants-”

“Can I see?” A mischievous smile appeared on Veronica’s face.

“No.” Casey defensively put his journal back into his pocket.

“Why not?” Veronica asked.

“Why should I trust you?”

“What if I made a deal with you?” Veronica offered.

“Like what?” Casey asked.

“Well, you know things that I don’t know,” Veronica said. “And I know something about one of your teammates that you don’t know.”

“Who? How?” Casey asked.

Veronica held out her hand expectantly. Casey stared at her hand for a moment and weighed his options.

“No.” Casey shook his head. “Forget it. I don’t want to know.”

“Sure, you don’t.” Veronica crossed her arms and continued walking ahead of Casey.

Casey looked down at his journal and sighed before he continued walking as well.

Violet and Quinn were still traveling through their tunnel together in a similar awkward silence.

“How do you think the others are doing at the beach?” Quinn asked.

“Better than us, I hope.” Violet said.

The two fell back into silence.

“Last night Ally mentioned to me that you two were talking about some… stuff.” Quinn said.

“What kind of stuff?” Violet raised an eyebrow.

“Personal stuff.” Quinn said.

“Yeah, and?” Violet asked.

“Well, I was a little surprised that you were opening up about that kind of stuff.” Quinn said. “You’re not the most approachable person in the world, you know.”

“Believe me, I know.” Violet said. “And I’d like to keep it that way.”

“Why?” Quinn asked.

“Oh, no.” Violet shook her head. “Just because we’re trapped in a mine together does not mean I’m gonna spill my guts to you, Wheels-”

“Can you stop calling me that?” Quinn snapped. “I have a name.”

“Sorry, Quinn.” Violet said, almost mockingly. “Force of habit.”

“Oh, so you bully other disabled people back home too?” Quinn asked.

“No, Quinn, you’re the first I’ve met, actually.” Violet said.

“Really?” Quinn said. “I’m almost grateful for that.”

“Oh, haha,” Violet rolled her eyes.

“Why do you hate me so much?” Quinn asked.

“I already told you.” Violet said. “I don’t hate you.”

“Well, you sure act like you do.” Quinn said.

“Believe it or not, I actually do know a few things about teamwork. If we’re all forced to work together, we’re only as strong as our weakest link.” Violet said. “You’re our weakest link.”

“No,” Quinn spun her chair around so she was facing Violet and blocking her path. “I have proved in so many challenges that that’s not true.”

“Then who is our weakest link?” Violet asked.

“No one?” Quinn said. “Why does it even matter? Why are you so obsessed with strength?”

“Because where I’m from, if you’re not strong, you don’t survive.” Violet said.

“You don’t have to be strong to survive!”

“Yes, you do!”

Violet pushed Quinn back to get her out of her way. Almost as if the cavern felt the tension in the air, the walls started rumbling again and the ground began to crack under their feet.

Quinn screamed as the ground beneath her gave way and she plummeted down a dark hole.

“Oh, sh*t!” Violet ran over and peered down into the hole, shining her flashlight inside. She saw no end and couldn’t see any signs of Quinn either.

***

“Well, if I didn’t already ruin any chances I had of being a ‘good person’ after that conversation,” Violet said in the confessional. “I definitely have now.”

***

Back at the beach, a confused Garret just resurfaced in the ocean, moments after being thrown overboard.

“Garret!”

Garret instinctually screamed as a hand grabbed his arm and pulled him into a boat.

“I didn’t know you liked swimming.” Gavin stood over Garret.

“I don’t.” Garret coughed out some water and stayed laying on the floor of the boat. “Won’t your team get mad at you for helping the enemy?”

“Okay, first of all, you’re my brother. None of them are that messed up.” Gavin said. “Secondly, you’re my brother. I don’t really care if they get mad at me for not letting you drown.”

“Aw!” Britney put a hand over her heart as she watched the twins.

“Brit, you’re supposed to be steering!” Gavin grabbed the wheel and swerved out of the way of another mine just before they hit it.

“Oops!” Britney said. “Sorry. I’ll go back to seagull shooting now.”

“You do that, Brit.” Gavin chuckled. “She’s really good at it, you know.” He said to Garret.

Garret picked himself up and watched Britney shoot the mine they had just almost hit in one shot.

“Woah,” Garret whispered.

“Garret!” Ally and Dominic’s boat zoomed by. “Are you okay?!”

“I’m okay!” Garret gave Ally a thumbs up.

“Oh, thank goodness!” Ally sat down on the seagull crate and let out a sigh of relief.

“Ally,” Dominic said gently. “I think you should drive now.”

“Yeah,” Ally nodded sadly. “That’s a good idea.”

“Hey, I bet you’re the best speed boat driver out there!” Dominic said in an attempt to cheer her up.

“Thanks, Dom,” Ally smiled a little as she took the wheel.

Bree and Ramona sped past them, Bree firing wildly at any nearby mines. After firing her last seagull, she opened the crate to reload.

“Um, Ramona,” Bree said. “We’re out of seagulls.”

“What?” Ramona slowed the boat and turned around. “How are we out of seagulls? We didn’t even hit that many mines.”

“Well, I’m flattered that you think I hit all those mines in one shot, but I didn’t.” Bree said. “And now we’re out of seagulls.”

“Wait, if we’re already out, then how is Britney still going?” Ramona asked.

A nearby mine exploded, courtesy of a giddy and giggling Britney.

“That’s the scary part.” Bree said. “I think she is hitting them all in one shot.”

“It’s alright.” Ramona put her hand on Bree’s shoulder. “I guess we should start heading back to shore.”

“I guess so.” Bree agreed.

Ramona went back to the wheel and started driving them back to shore.

“About the Ally thing,” Bree said. “I was only flirting for the challenge-”

“No, I know, forget I said anything.” Ramona’s cheeks turned red. “I’m sorry I brought it up, your day’s been crummy enough.”

“Well, it was a pretty crummy day.” Bree smirked. “Until I got to shoot robotic seagulls on a boat with you.”

Ramona smiled to herself the rest of the way back to shore.

Lyla and Jesse were having a similar problem in their boat.

“We’re all out of seagulls.” Lyla sighed as she closed the empty crate.

“So, back to the beach?” Jesse asked.

“Back to the beach.” Lyla nodded. “Hey, Ally!” She yelled to her other teammates’ boat. “It’s up to you two!”

“It is?” Ally’s eyes went wide as she drove past Lyla and Jesse. “What do you mean it’s just up to us-”

Ally’s voice faded as she continued driving her boat in the opposite direction.

“Good luck!” Lyla yelled.

“Do you think they can pull this one out of the water?” Jesse chuckled to himself. “Literally.”

Lyla smiled despite herself. “If Dominic’s been holding out on us and he’s secretly a sharp shooter, then maybe. But if not…” She frowned. “Well, I hope things are going better in the mines.”

“Why’s everyone heading back to shore?” Britney wondered aloud, watching Bree and Ramona’s boat and now Lyla and Jesse’s boat slowly riding back towards the beach.

“I think they ran out of seagulls.” Garret quietly suggested.

“Really?” Britney opened her own crate to check their seagull supply.

“Brit, how many seagulls do we have left?” Gavin asked.

Britney looked and saw that their crate was still half full. “Enough.” She shrugged.

Britney turned back to her seagull gun and fired at a rapid pace, exploding three more nearby mines.

“You’re really good at this.” Garret said, in awe.

“Yeah,” Gavin said without turning around. “It’s kinda terrifying.”

“Thanks!” Britney giggled and turned to face Garret. “You’re good at swimming.”

“Thanks?” Garret said.

“Brit, stop making fun of my brother.” Gavin said.

“I’m serious!” Britney said. “If I went overboard, you’d probably have to jump in and save me.”

“Right,” Gavin rolled his eyes.

“Where are your other friends?” Britney asked Garret. "The ones you did that play with."

“Well, one of them just got eliminated.” Garret frowned. “And the others are in a mine. I hope they’re okay…”

“My friends are in the mine too!” Britney sat down criss-cross across from Garret. “And Veronica.”

Gavin held back a chuckle from the front of the boat.

“I wasn’t really friends with anyone who got eliminated, so I guess all my other friends are here.” Britney continued. “Like Gavin and Bree and Ramona… And you!”

“Me?” Garret asked.

“Yes, you, silly.” Britney giggled. “Remember the dodgeball challenge?”

“You mean when you hit me in the face?” Garret asked.

“Oh no, I meant when we talked after.” Britney said. “I kinda forgot about that part, sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Garret said. “It only hurt a lot for a little bit.”

“Great!” Britney said.

“Hey, Brit, you said we still have seagulls, right?” Gavin asked.

“Yep!” Britney stood up.

“Maybe go and shoot some.” Gavin said.

“On it!” Britney returned to the seagull gun and quickly shot down three more mines.

“Woah…” Garret watched with a smile.

Back in the mines, Will and Natalia were mid-conversation, still stuck in the dead end.

“You have a sister?” Natalia asked.

“Yeah,” Will said. “She’s 14 and awful.”

“Sounds great.” Natalia laughed.

“What about you?” Will asked.

“No siblings.” Natalia said. “Just my mom, which is close enough to living with a 14 year old.”

“Damn,” Will said. “Any particular reason why?”

“Let’s not get into that right now.” Natalia said.

“I mean, we’re trapped in an underground mine.” Will said. “What else are we gonna do?”

The walls of the tunnel started shaking and the ground started to rumble.

“Again?” Natalia said, backing into the corner of the tunnel.

Will ran to the same corner and covered Natalia as a few more stray rocks fell from the ceiling.

“Um, thanks,” Natalia said once the rumbling stopped, currently pinned between Will and the wall.

“Oh, yeah, no problem,” Will stammered as he backed up to the opposite corner.

A rock in the center of the wall that blocked their way fell out. A stream of water followed.

“Oh, no, no, no,” Natalia started to back up from the wall.

“Wait, this is great!” Will said, starting to pull more rocks from the wall. “If there’s water behind here, then that means we can swim out.”

“Funny story, actually,” Natalia continued backing away from the wall as the floor of the tunnel began to fill with water.

“What’s wrong?” Will asked.

“I can’t swim.”

“Well, then,” The hole in the wall was just big enough to fit the two of them through. “Hold on!”

Will grabbed Natalia and went through the hole, into the water.

Veronica and Casey were still traveling through their tunnel in painfully awkward silence.

“Do you hear that?” Casey asked.

“Hear what?” Veronica asked.

A collection of squeaking noises grew louder and louder as a swarm of bats made their way down the tunnel. Veronica screamed as they only seemed to swarm around her.

Casey stifled a laugh before poking his flashlight into the cluster, causing a few of the bats to scatter. A clump of bats still flew precariously over Veronica’s head.

“I would say thank you,” Veronica put her hands over her head and ducked under the remaining bats. “But you’re laughing at me.” She glared at Casey.

As a response, Casey burst out laughing.

“How come none of the bats are bothering you?” Veronica’s glare intensified.

“More importantly,” Casey said. “Where did the bats come from?”

“The end of the tunnel.” Veronica said. “Duh.”

“So we may be close to the end of the tunnel.” Casey started to walk at a faster pace.

“Hey, wait up!” Veronica swatted at the bats as a few continued to follow her down the tunnel.

Distracted by the bats, Veronica walked into Casey, who had stopped in the middle of the path. The tunnel they were traveling now split into two.

“Which way should we go?” Veronica asked.

“Why don’t you ask the bats,” Casey said sarcastically.

“Well, then,” Veronica swat wildly at the bats surrounding her. “Lead the way!”

The bats scattered and flew down the tunnel to their right.

“I guess we’ll go that wa-”

Casey was cut off by someone else screaming down the tunnel the bats flew into.

“Um, hello?” Casey took a step forward and shined his flashlight into the tunnel.

An annoyed and somewhat frantic Violet became visible. She swatted away the last of the bats and walked to where Casey and Veronica were standing.

“Which way did you come from?” Violet asked upon seeing the split in the tunnel.

“That way.” Casey pointed to the way they came. “Where’s Quinn?”

“Ah,” Violet nervously chuckled. “Funny story actually-”

“Violet, where’s Quinn?” Casey glared at her.

“Hey, look!” Violet pointed down the tunnel. “More bats!”

Once Veronica and Casey turned around, Violet ran in the opposite direction.

“I can’t believe I fell for that.” Casey ran after Violet. “I don’t even hear any squeaking!”

“Me neither.” Veronica continued walking at a casual pace, watching the light from Casey’s flashlight disappear deeper into the tunnel.

The squeaking sounds started to grow louder around Veronica again.

“Oh, screw this challenge!” Veronica ran down the tunnel, being pursued by another swarm of bats.

In another cavern of the mines, there was a fairly large pool of water. The water lay peaceful and undisturbed…

That is, until Will and Natalia emerged from it, splashing and coughing.

Will swam the two of them to the rocky shore of the water and collapsed onto the ground. Natalia laid next to him and did the same.

“You seriously don’t know how to swim?” Will turned his head towards Natalia.

“Why do you think I didn’t want to go to the beach?” Natalia said. “And you’re freakishly good at swimming.”

“It’s because of track, probably.” Will shrugged.

“Oh yeah, I forgot you were a track star.” Natalia said, only slightly mockingly.

“Yeah, it would be nice if it was literally ever useful in challenges.” Will said. “But it’s usually not.”

“Hey, you could’ve ran a lap around the island for the talent show.” Natalia said. “Probably would’ve topped whatever you and Gavin were planning.”

“I was banking on that being so comically bad that it was good, actually.” Will said.

“Well,” Natalia coughed up some water and sat up. “We should probably keep going.”

“Where?” Will asked.

Somewhere in the distance, they heard a faint scream followed by a dozen little squeaks.

“I’d know that whiny voice anywhere.” Natalia said. “That was Veronica.”

“At least we know she’s safe.” Will said.

“She was screaming.”

“At least we know she’s alive.” Will stood up and held out a hand for Natalia.

“Always a gentleman.” Natalia took his hand and rolled her eyes.

“Hey, if we make it out of this cave alive, I’m teaching you how to swim.” Will said.

“No way.” Natalia laughed.

“I’m serious.” Will said. “We’re on an island! We’re, like, constantly surrounded by water.”

“Thanks, mom.” Natalia said.

“We’re talking about that eventually too, you know.” Will said.

“I think I’d rather take the swimming classes.” Natalia started walking towards the tunnel nearest to where they were. “Now come on!”

Natalia and Will exited the cavern and followed the distant sounds of their teammate (and the various bats that followed her).

Casey eventually caught up to Violet at the end of the tunnel they had been running through. Violet was crouched behind a tall rock and peering into a nearly pitch-black cavern.

“What happened to Quinn?” Casey crouched down beside Violet and whispered.

“The ground started shaking again and she fell through a hole.” Violet explained.

What?”

“Shhh!” Violet clamped a hand over Casey’s mouth.

From inside the cavern came a high-pitched squealing noise, different from the squeaking noise of the bats. Violet and Casey both peeked out from behind the rock, Casey shining his flashlight into the cavern.

There was no sign of the source of the noise, but Casey could faintly see the outline of a lone wheelchair in the cavern.

“I’m going in.” Casey began to carefully creep his way into the cavern.

“Casey, that is definitely a trap!” Violet whispered behind him. “Don’t ignore me, you know I’m right!”

Casey continued to ignore her and walked into the chamber. He shined his flashlight around and spotted Quinn lying on the ground a few feet from where her chair had landed.

“Quinn!” Casey was still whispering, but now he ran to his friend’s side.

“Casey,” Quinn said weakly, her eyes fluttering open. “Casey, I… I can’t feel my legs.”

“Shut up,” Casey rolled his eyes while Quinn quietly laughed.

“But seriously, I’ve been playing dead for the last 15 minutes.” Quinn said.

“Why?” Casey asked.

The squealing noises grew louder… and multiplied.

“I don’t think we’re alone.” Quinn whispered.

Back at the beach, Lyla and Jesse had just docked their boat.

“That… could’ve gone better.” Lyla sighed.

“Hey, we still did alright.” Jesse said.

The two of them sat on their now-empty seagull crate and watched the final two boats continue to race around.

“Are you nervous about the elimination ceremony if we lose?” Jesse asked.

“Yeah, a little.” Lyla nodded. “It’s not fun being in the bottom two.”

“It didn’t look fun.” Jesse said. “But you’re still here! And I think the two of us did pretty good this challenge.”

“At least neither of us went overboard.” Lyla chuckled.

“Maybe things are going better in the mines.” Jesse said.

“Maybe.” Lyla agreed.

The two watched another mine explode in the water.

“Lyla, can we talk about…”

“Last night?” Lyla asked.

“Yeah,” Jesse’s blushed. “Not to sound like every teen drama in the world, but what are we?”

“I guess I could’ve been a little clearer.” Lyla giggled.

“No, you were very clear.” Jesse’s cheeks turned even more red. “I just don’t have a lot of… any experience with stuff like this.”

“I know, it’s okay.” Lyla said. “Most of my experience comes from not-so-good experiences anyway.”

“Am I at least a slightly better than usual experience?” Jesse asked.

“Definitely.” Lyla smiled. “And to answer your question, if you want to, I’d like to say we’re dating.”

“Really?” Jesse beamed.

“Really.” Lyla leaned her head on his shoulder.

Ramona watched the two from her boat, and then turned to look at Bree. Bree was still watching the other boats drive around, shooting seagulls at any remaining mines.

“How much longer do you think this challenge is gonna last?” Bree asked.

“I’m not sure.” Ramona shrugged.

“I am.” Brad said as he appeared on the beach right next to their boat, causing both girls to jump.

“Where did you even come from?” Bree asked.

“Um, I’ve been here the whole time.” Brad said. “You thought I was just gonna leave a bunch of teenagers with weaponized seagulls unsupervised?”

“Honestly, yes.” Ramona said.

“Fair.” Brad said before pulling out a mega horn and pointing it towards the water. “Attention beach bums! Challenge is over!”

“You guys are just getting more and more official every day.” Bree said sarcastically.

“Shut up!” Brad said, still using the mega horn.

Bree and Ramona both covered their ears.

“Oh, sorry!” Brad put the mega horn down. “I said shut up.”

“I heard you!” Bree said.

“Alright, just checking.” Brad said.

The last two boats pulled up to the shore and all the contestants gathered on the beach. Most of the Freaks had gathered in their own cluster, while Garret exited the boat with Gavin and Britney.

“Garret!” Ally ran over gave Garret a tight hug. “I’m sorry I hit you with the seagull gun and that you went overboard and almost drowned-”

“Ally, it’s okay.” Garret, fairly flustered, pat her back to try and calm her down. “I’m okay.”

“Okay!” Ally gave him one last tight squeeze before letting go and rejoining the rest of their team.

“Hey, Gar,” Garret turned around the saw Gavin leaning against the boat with his arms crossed. “Do me a favor and be careful, okay?”

“I know.” Garret said. “Thanks, Gav.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Gavin smiled. “Now go back to your team.”

As Garret walked away, Britney joined Gavin against the boat.

“Psst, Gavin,” Britney whispered.

“Psst,” Gavin mimicked her whispering. “What?”

“Is your brother single?”

“Why?” Gavin asked suspiciously.

“He’s kinda cute.” Britney shrugged.

***

“Look, Brit’s great. A little nutty at times, but usually just friendly and funny.” Gavin said in the confessional. “That does not mean I’m about to let her try and date my brother!”

***

“Congratulations, Populars,” Brad said. “You guys win challenge one!”

“Sorry, guys.” Ally frowned.

“Don’t worry about it.” Dominic placed a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sure things are going way better in the mines!”

In the mines…

“What was that?” Casey whispered.

“I don’t know.” Quinn, who was still prone on the ground, whispered back.

Casey shined his flashlight and revealed a herd of giant mutant rodents closing in on them. As soon as the light hit their eyes, they all started loudly shrieking and scattering wildly. One of them was headed straight for Quinn and Casey.

“No!”

Violet ran in, grabbed the stray wheelchair, and lifted it from the ground. She slammed the chair into the side of the giant rodent, making it flinch and run away. The shrieking got even louder.

“Do either of you geniuses have a plan?” Violet stood defensively in front of Quinn and Casey.

“You pushed me!” Quinn used her arms to prop herself up.

“I’m the worst, I know.” Violet said. “But can we talk about this when we’re not surrounded by giant… whatever these things are.”

“Giant mutant rodents. Probably reconstructed as robots now. They were in the fourth season.” Casey said. “And you said she fell!”

“I kinda lied!” Violet said. “If it helps, probably not, I didn’t think she’d fall through a hole!”

Another giant rodent turned its attention towards them and started to charge. Violet brought the wheelchair back up and used it as a shield. The rodent started to chew on one of the wheels as Violet fought to hold it back.

“Hey, I kinda need that.” Quinn said.

“Working on it.” Violet said through gritted teeth.

Out of the corner of his eye, Casey saw a dot of light fly across the room and hit the giant rodent in the back of the head. The rodent released the chair and fled. Once the object hit the floor, Casey saw that it was a flashlight.

“What the hell is going on here?!” Natalia said as her and Will entered from a tunnel on the opposite side of the cavern.

“Don’t ask,” Casey slid Natalia’s flashlight back to her across the cavern floor. “Just run.”

Violet put Quinn’s slightly mangled wheelchair back on the ground and Casey helped Quinn back into it. The giant rodents were still running amuck in the chamber.

“They all seem a little… disoriented.” Violet said.

“Well, they were blind and relied heavily on smell and sound.” Casey said. “I guess since they’re robots now, they don’t have a sense of smell.”

“And it must be hard to hear any of us over all the shrieking.” Quinn said.

Natalia and Will joined the other three in the center of the chamber, dodging past a few rodents to get there.

“Quick question,” Will said. “Where’s Veronica?”

“Um…” Casey looked back towards the tunnel he and Veronica had been traveling.

Another sound suddenly joined the shrieking of the rodents. A familiar squeaking filled the chamber as a swarm of bats exited the tunnel.

“Oh, I think she just got here.” Casey said.

Veronica appeared in the entrance, looked at the chaos ensuing around her, and quickly walked back into the tunnel.

“I don’t blame her, but that’s also gonna be a problem.” Casey said.

“How do we get out of here?” Violet asked.

“I’m gonna guess that super big tunnel over there.” Natalia pointed her flashlight towards a large opening at the end of the chamber.

“Wow, how did all of us miss that?” Quinn said.

“To be fair, you guys were a little preoccupied.” Will said.

“Well, everyone grab your tunnel buddy.” Natalia grabbed Will’s shoulder.

Violet grabbed the back of Quinn’s wheelchair. Casey looked back at the tunnel and sighed.

“She’s your teammate.” Casey said to Natalia.

“She’s your tunnel buddy.” Natalia smirked.

“Fine, I’ll grab her.” Casey rolled his eyes.

“Scatter!”

Natalia grabbed Will and ran in one direction while Quinn and Violet went another. Casey dodged a few more giant rodents and made his way back to the tunnel.

“Veronica,” Casey whispered. “We gotta go.”

Casey noticed a few bats flying just above a rock.

“I can see the bats.”

“What are those things?” Veronica peeked her head out from behind the rock.

“Giant robotic mutant rodents.” Casey stated. “Now let’s go.”

“Oh, is that all?” Veronica asked sarcastically.

“Well, no. There’s the bats too.” Casey said. “Come on, we’ll be fine.”

“Fine.” Veronica rolled her eyes and followed Casey back out of the tunnel.

***

“I don’t really like Veronica and I definitely don’t trust Veronica.” Casey said in the confessional. “But I do feel kinda bad that her own teammates didn’t want to help her…”

***

After dodging and weaving through the disoriented rodents and bats, the six contestants all made it to the larger tunnel. In the distance, they could faintly see light from the outside.

“Finally!” Natalia said. “God, I hate this challenge.”

“Why are you two soaked?” Veronica asked.

“Long story.” Will said. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Wait, what about the statues?” Violet asked.

“I didn’t see any statues in there.” Casey said. “Or anywhere, really.”

“Forget the statues.” Quinn said. “There could be another cave in any minute.”

“But without the statue, we can’t win.” Violet said.

“And if neither of us get the statue,” Quinn said. “Neither of us win.”

“Agreed.” Natalia said. “It’s not worth it.”

Before Violet could argue, the ground started rumbling again. Little rocks started to fall from the ceiling.

“Truce?” Natalia held out her hand to Quinn.

“Truce.” Quinn shook her hand.

“Guys,” Will pointed back into the chamber. “Incoming!”

The giant rodents were all starting to charge towards the exit tunnel they were standing in.

“Run!”

The six contestants ran (and wheeled) as fast as they could to the end of the tunnel as rocks continued to fall around them.

Digit stood outside the exit, waiting for the contestants.

“What’s taking them so long?” Digit muttered to herself as she checked her watch.

A single bat flew out of the tunnel.

“Huh,” Digit watched the bat fly away.

The quiet of the outside was interrupted by screaming as the six contestants emerged from the tunnel.

“Are you all scared of the dark or something?” Digit said. “It’s just a tunnel-”

“Giant mutant rodents!” All of the contestants continued to scream as they pointed back into the tunnel.

Digit pulled a remote control out of her pocket and pressed a button seconds before the giant rodents also emerged. The rodents suddenly stopped running and powered down just as the final cave in stopped, trapping them inside.

You’ve been controlling all the animals and the cave ins?” Natalia asked.

“Well, yeah.” Digit said. “Brad’s not smart enough for that.”

“There were, like, five mini earthquakes!” Will said.

“And?” Digit said. “I could’ve let the giant mutant rodents eat you for lunch.”

“That… is true.” Casey sighed.

“Still a little messed up, though.” Quinn said.

“Yeah, that’s sadistic, even by my standards.” Violet said.

“And where are the statues?” Digit asked.

“You tell us.” Veronica said. “We couldn’t find them.”

“Oh,” Digit said. “Then I guess neither of you win this half of the challenge.”

“So who wins the whole challenge?” Natalia asked.

“Whoever won the first half of the challenge.” Digit said.

“Which was…?”

“The Populars.” Digit said. “I’ll see you at the campfire tonight, Freaks. Again.”

Digit and the contestants eventually made their way back to the cabins and mess hall, joining everyone else.

Quinn and Casey found Garret in front of their cabin, still soaking wet.

“What happened to you?” Casey asked.

“I kinda fell overboard.” Garret said. “What about you guys?”

“You fell overboard?” Quinn asked. “Are you okay?”

“Oh, I’m fine, it’s really not a big deal.” Garret blushed. “How were the mines?”

“Violet pushed Quinn down a hole.” Casey said.

What?” Garret’s eyes went wide.

“Technically she didn’t push me down the hole.” Quinn said. “She pushed me, and then I happened to fall into a hole.”

“Still pushed you.” Casey said.

“Yeah.” Quinn nodded. “And those 15 minutes surrounded by giant mutant rodents were the most terrifying 15 minutes of my life.”

“Giant what?” Garret said. “Are you okay?”

“I am miraculously fine.” Quinn said. “I mean, I could’ve hurt my leg, but as long as there’s no bones sticking out, I should be fine. There’s no bones sticking out of my leg, right?”

Casey and Garret both quickly scanned her legs.

“No bones.” Casey said. “I think you’re good.”

“So, is this a good enough reason to finally get rid of Violet?” Garret asked.

“Absolutely.” Casey said.

Quinn solemnly nodded in agreement.

“You didn’t almost die today too, right?” Garret asked Casey.

“No, but I did get stuck with Veronica all day.” Casey said.

“Oh, come on.” Quinn said. “I don’t think she’s that bad.”

“She could be a lot worse, but she tried to talk me into giving her my journal.” Casey said.

“Your journal?” Garret asked. “Why?”

“Because she’s nosy.” Casey shrugged. “Maybe she thought it would give her an edge in the competition, I don’t know.”

“Either way, that’s a little strange.” Quinn said.

“You wanna know the strangest part?” Casey said. “She said she knew a secret about someone on our team. Something we don’t know.”

“About who?” Garret asked.

“No clue.” Casey said.

“Well, if I had to guess who on our team was keeping secrets…” Quinn’s gaze turned towards the docks where Ally sat. “She’s always seemed just a little too perfect.”

“She is pretty perfect.” Casey nodded in agreement.

“Not necessarily.” Garret said. “I mean, she did accidentally knock me overboard.”

“You said you fell.” Casey said.

“I said I kinda fell.” Garret said. “But it was an accident! She didn’t mean to, I wasn’t paying attention and-”

“Just like the dodgeball challenge.” Casey muttered, rubbing the back of his head.

“Oh my god!” Quinn gasped. “What if she’s trying to take us all out?”

“She’s way too nice for that.” Garret said

“Or so we think.” Casey said. “Her real name may not even be Ally.”

“Guys, what would Peter say if he were here right now?” Garret asked.

“That we’re being ridiculous.” Quinn sighed.

“I still don’t even know if Ally was the one Veronica was talking about.” Casey said. “It’s all just a hunch.”

“Yeah,” Quinn nodded. “A strong hunch.”

Meanwhile, Ally was sitting on the dock-

“Wait, guys,” Garret said. “You did tell the rest of our team about what happened with Violet, right?”

“Oh no, we didn’t!” Quinn said.

“Elimination’s in, like,” Garret looked down at his wrist, expecting to see a watch, but then remembered he was still in a swim suit. “Soon, it’s soon.”

“We should probably go do that.” Casey said. “Like, now.”

Quinn and Casey hurried off, but Garret stayed on the steps of the cabin.

“Peter, please come back,” Garret sighed before going into the cabin to dry off.

After Quinn and Casey had filled their teammates in on what happened in the mines, Ally was still sitting on the dock, staring out into the ocean.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

Ally turned her head and saw Dominic standing on the dock, smiling.

“Did Quinn and Casey tell you what happened too?” Ally asked. “In the mines?”

“Yeah,” Dominic sat down next to Ally. “Like, they just told me. I think they almost forgot to tell everyone.”

“Yeah,” Ally giggled a little. “Maybe.”

Ally’s smile wavered as she turned her gaze back out to the ocean.

“What’s wrong?” Dominic asked.

“Well,” Ally sighed. “I still feel really bad about what happened with Garret.”

“It was an accident, Al.” Dominic said. “We all know you didn’t mean to.”

“But I’m also the one who let Violet go into the mines with Quinn.” Ally continued. “And I really wanted to believe she was turning over a new leaf, but I should’ve known better, I should’ve… It’s all my fault.” Ally put her head in her hands.

“Hey,” Dominic wrapped an arm around her shoulders and tried to find her eyes beneath her hands. “None of this is your fault. We all knew Violet was a wild card and we all made the choice to keep her around, not just you.”

“Quinn probably hates me now.” Ally muttered.

“I doubt that. I don’t think anyone could hate you.” Dominic said. “And if you really feel bad, you can always apologize.”

Ally picked her head up from her hands and smiled a little. “Thanks, Dom.”

“Anytime,” Dominic held her tighter. “Will some jokes make you feel better? I thought of a lot of sea related puns while we were on the boat.”

“Sure,” Ally giggled and smiled a real smile.

Meanwhile, Lyla was tuning her guitar and sitting against the wall of her cabin. Ramona watched from nearby, perched on the railing of her own cabin.

“Lyla!”

Lyla stopped fiddling with her guitar once Jesse ran over.

“What’s up, Jess?” Lyla asked.

“I just thought of the weirdest thing.” Jesse sat down across from her.

“Which is?” Lyla raised an eyebrow.

“Well, you know how I’ve never left my house before this summer?” Jesse said. “How crazy would it be if no one could leave their houses?!”

“Pretty crazy.” Lyla laughed. “But I don’t think that’d ever actually happen.”

“Yeah, but we don’t know that.” Jesse continued. “What if a terrible disease was sweeping the globe, like in the movies!”

“You do know most of those movies are fictional, right?” Lyla asked.

“Fiction could become reality.” Jesse said. “What’s that one saying? ‘Life imitates art’?”

“Okay, you have a point.” Lyla chuckled. “But I think we have more important things to worry about right now. Like tonight’s elimination?”

“Why should we be worried?” Jesse asked. “Everyone’s voting for Violet, right?”

“Oh yeah, she crossed a line today.” Lyla nodded. “Did Quinn and Casey talk to you too?”

“Um, no?” Jesse said. “I just kinda assumed everyone was voting for Violet. Did something happen?”

“Yeah, but you should probably ask them about it.” Lyla said. “I don’t really know all the details.”

“I think I saw Garret going into the cabin before. He probably knows.” Jesse said. “I’ll see you tonight!”

Jesse waved as he got up and started heading into the cabin. Lyla smiled and waved back.

Once Jesse was gone, Ramona left her perch on the railing and approached Lyla.

“Lyla?”

Lyla looked back up from her guitar and tilted her head, curiously eyeing the Popular standing in front of her.

“Can I ask you something?” Ramona continued. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but… I don’t know, I’ve just been feeling weird lately.”

“Shoot.” Lyla said.

“Well, you and Jesse are dating right?” Ramona asked.

“For a little less than a day.” Lyla said. “But yeah.”

Ramona took note of how Lyla seemed far more guarded now than when she was talking to Jesse.

“How did you know you liked him?” Ramona asked.

“I mean, it was never really about knowing I liked him.” Lyla said. “I just liked him. Acting on it was the hard part, but I’ve dated people before.”

“You have?”

“Yeah.” Lyla said. “No one too spectacular, but yeah.”

Ramona awkwardly shuffled in place, looking at the ground.

“What else did you want to ask?” Lyla asked. “You look like you still got some questions.”

“No, never mind.” Ramona shook her head.

“Ramona,” Lyla started, but then paused. “Your name is Ramona, right?”

“Um, yeah.” Ramona said.

“Oh, thank god.” Lyla let out a breath of relief. “Sorry, your whole team kinda blends together in my head sometimes.”

“That’s fair, I guess.” Ramona said.

“So, what else did you want to ask?”

Ramona paused for a moment and then sighed. “Have ever dated a girl before?”

“Yeah, I have.” Lyla’s face immediately softened and she patted the ground beside her. “Sit down.”

Ramona sat down next to Lyla and watched her pluck at some of the strings on her guitar.

“What’s the difference between dating guys and girls?” Ramona asked.

“To me? Not much.” Lyla said. “But everyone’s different. Have you ever dated anyone before?”

“No.” Ramona’s cheeks turned red.

“That’s okay.” Lyla said. “And it’s okay if you don’t know what you like yet.”

“How do I know if I know?” Ramona asked.

“You’ll just know.” Lyla said. “Trust me.”

“Thanks, Lyla.” Ramona smiled.

“No problem.” Lyla said and then let out a laugh. “You know, I never saw myself as someone other people went to for relationship advice.”

“Well, you’re really good at it.” Ramona said.

“What goes around comes around, I guess.” Lyla continued to strum her guitar as the sun began to set.

In the Populars cabin, Natalia, Veronica, and Britney were reconvening after the day’s challenge. Natalia was still squeezing water out of her hair.

“Nat, if you were in the mines all day,” Britney said. “How come you’re all wet?”

“I don’t know, Brit.” Natalia rolled her eyes. “If I gave you my scrunchie yesterday, how come Digit handed it back to me today?”

“Oh,” Britney’s eyes went wide. “I don’t know?”

Natalia glared at the blonde.

“It got caught on the windowsill when we were escaping the interns’ quarters!” Britney said. “Am I in trouble?”

You’re not.” Natalia said. “They already traced it back to me.”

“How did they even trace it back to you?” Veronica said. “It’s just a scrunchie.”

“It’s a red scrunchie.” Natalia said, as if that made everything clear. “Red’s kinda my signature color.”

“Signature color?” Veronica raised an eyebrow.

“Um, yeah.” Natalia motioned to her outfit, most of the items being a stylish red.

“Mine’s yellow!” Britney added cheerfully.

Veronica looked over Britney, starting at her golden blonde hair, then to her bright yellow tube top, and finally down to her matching yellow shoes.

“Do I have a color?” Veronica asked.

“Green.” Natalia and Britney said simultaneously and without hesitation.

“Oh,” Veronica looked down at her own outfit, most of which was a dark forest green. “Yeah…”

“Attention, Freaks!” Digit’s voice rang out over the loudspeaker. “Report to the campfire, like, now. It’s time for your elimination ceremony.”

“I am so glad we finally broke our losing streak.” Natalia sighed in relief.

“Only because of a few technicalities.” Veronica said.

“Do you always have to be such a buzzkill?” Natalia asked.

“Someone has to balance out Britney.” Veronica said.

Britney was currently sitting cross-legged on her bed, absentmindedly playing with her hair, and seemingly not paying attention to the current conversation.

“Huh?” Britney’s head perked up after hearing her name.

“Nothing, Brit.” Natalia said. “You can keep playing with your hair.”

“Okay!” Britney giggled and started to braid a few stray strands.

***

Britney sat in the confessional, now with a much more serious demeanor. “I just won two challenges in a row for my team and they all still think I’m an idiot.” Her stoic expression broke into a smile. “This is perfect!”

Finally, she sighed. “I guess I can give this back now…” Britney held up Bree’s makeup bag. “She seemed suspicious! Besides, I saw her and Ramona this morning. She should be thanking me.”

***

The Freaks all gathered around the campfire. Violet was the last to arrive and this was the first time most of her teammates saw her since the end of the challenge. She avoided any eye contact and sat on a lone stump furthest from the group.

“Alright, Freaks,” Brad said. “You guys know the drill. Go vote.”

***

“We should’ve done this weeks ago.” Casey said as he cast his vote. “Well, better late than never.”

***

“I still don’t know what your deal is, and maybe I never will.” Ally said as she cast her vote. “I want to believe there’s still good in you, but I can’t stand by and let you hurt my friends.”

***

Violet didn’t say anything as she placed a blank ballot in the voting box.

***

“That was quick.” Digit said once all the Freaks were back from voting. “For future reference, you all have to actually vote. Not that that would’ve changed much tonight…”

“Lyla, Jesse, and Dominic,” Brad threw marshmallows to the three of them. “You guys are safe.”

“So are Quinn and Casey.” Digit tossed them their marshmallows.

Quinn and Casey both nervously looked at Garret, who was practically shaking in his seat.

“Yeah, he’s safe too.” Digit threw another marshmallow to Garret.

“And the final marshmallow goes to…” Brad looked between Ally and Violet.

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“Ally.” Brad tossed her the last marshmallow. “Sorry, Violet, it’s time for you to head out.”

“Yeah,” Violet stood up and sighed. “It is.”

The rest of the Freaks silently watched as Violet started to walk towards the dock. Violet made it to the end of the dock before she stopped and turned around.

“Um,” Digit said as Violet began to stomp back towards the campfire. “The canoe’s the other way-”

“I’m sorry.” Violet said, looking straight at Quinn. “Like, actually sorry. For everything.”

“Oh,” Quinn said, her face a mix of surprise and confusion. “I don’t really know what to say.”

“You know what, don’t say anything.” Violet said. “I’m just gonna go.”

Violet turned back around and started heading for the dock again.

“Bye, Violet!”

Violet turned her head and saw Ally smiling and waving goodbye.

“Bye, Ally.” Violet returned the wave and gave half a smile.

The rest of the Freaks wordlessly watched Violet get into the canoe and start sailing off. Group by group, the Freaks all eventually started leaving the campfire until no one was left but the two interns turned co-hosts.

“Well, that was anticlimactic.” Digit said.

“She didn’t follow any of Peter’s advice.” Brad frowned.

“Are you still going on about that?”

“That dude was profound!”

Violet could faintly hear their bickering, fading as she rowed the canoe deeper into the ocean.

“Maybe I could’ve turned it around.” Violet sighed. “Maybe…”

Ally was the last of the Freaks to return from the campfire. Most of the others were gathered in their own groups in front their cabin. The first group Ally approached was Casey, Garret, and Quinn.

“Quinn?” Ally asked.

“Yeah?” Quinn broke off from her friends and started to roll towards Ally.

Ally wordlessly bent down and pulled Quinn into a hug.

“Oh!” Quinn jumped a little at first, but returned the hug.

“I’m sorry.” Ally whispered. "We should have voted her off as soon as she started bullying you."

“Ally, it’s okay. I'm used to it.” Quinn said. “It’s not your fault.”

Ally pulled away and turned her gaze to the ground.

“Hey, are you okay?” Quinn asked.

“Yeah,” Ally wiped at her face. “I’ll be right back, I’m just gonna… go for a walk.”

Ally hurried off and the rest of her team watched her go in varying degrees of confusion.

“What just happened?” Quinn asked aloud.

“Not sure.” Dominic walked down the steps of the cabin and looked in the direction Ally went. “But I better go talk to her.”

On the steps of the Populars cabin, Gavin was sitting and watching the Freaks disperse. Once most of them had gone back into the cabin, Gavin started quietly whistling to get his brother’s attention.

Garret stopped just before entering his cabin and looked around, unaware of where the noise had come from.

Gavin sighed. “Garret!”

“Oh,” Garret saw Gavin and walked over. “What’s up?”

“I heard what happened with your buddies in the mines.” Gavin said.

“How?” Garret frowned.

“Word travels fast on this island.” Gavin said. “My question is, why did no one stop Violet from going into the mines in the first place?”

“Because she’s Violet!” Garret said. “Who could’ve stopped her?”

Gavin raised an eyebrow and smirked.

“Me?” Garret asked. “You think I could’ve stopped her?!”

“I’m just saying!” Gavin put up his hands in surrender. “You gotta speak up, man. If not for yourself, then for your friends.”

“I know.” Garret sighed.

“It’s alright.” Gavin pat his back. “I know it’s tough for you.”

“Yeah, but you’re right.” Garret said. “Thanks.”

“It’s my favorite twin!” Bree smiled as she exited the cabin. “And Gavin.”

Bit-

“How are you, Garret, my favorite twin?” Bree cut Gavin off.

“I’m okay.” Garret blushed.

“Hey, guess what I found?” Bree sat down next to Gavin and held up her makeup bag.

“So, it wasn’t stolen and you were just overreacting the whole time?” Gavin asked.

“Nope!” Bree said. “I walked into the cabin and it was sitting on my bed.”

“So, someone wanted you to know they stole it?” Garret asked.

“Thank you, favorite twin.” Bree said. “Take notes, Gav.”

Gavin rolled her eyes. “And who do you think stole it?”

“The only person I could see stealing stuff on my team just got eliminated.” Garret said.

“Yep, plus you and Ramona are obviously out.” Bree said. “And Will doesn’t really strike me as the type of guy who's into makeup.”

“That leaves everyone’s favorite morally ambiguous trio.” Gavin said. “Veronica, Britney, and Natalia.”

“What if it was all three of them?” Bree gasped.

“Eh, you’re not that special.” Gavin said.

“Bit-”

“I think I better head back to my cabin.” Garret said. "It's getting late."

“Night, bro.” Gavin ruffled Garret’s hair.

“Goodnight, favorite twin!” Bree said.

“Goodnight.” Garret blushed again and shuffled off.

“He’s adorable.” Bree said once Garret was gone. “Like, seriously adorable.”

“Yeah,” Gavin said. “Speaking of Britney, you’re not the only one who’s made that revelation.”

Britney?!” Bree gasped. “No way!”

“She asked me if he was single.” Garret said.

“Aw,” Bree gushed. “That’s great!”

“Um, not really.” Gavin said. “Brit’s nice and all, but she’s kinda nuts.”

“Ooh, I forgot about that.” Bree said. “I was just thinking about how hot she is. Seriously, good for Garret.”

“Thank you so much for your input, Bree.” Gavin said sarcastically.

“Okay, so there’s a 50/50 chance Brit would break his heart.” Bree said. “Who would you rather he date? Or do you just want him to be a hermit for the rest of his life?”

“Well, that girl he’s always hanging out with seems pretty cool.” Gavin said. “And sane.”

“Quinn?” Bree asked. “Didn’t she just get, like, assaulted or something? I don’t think she’s in the mood for your matchmaking.”

“I am a great matchmaker, excuse you.” Gavin said.

“I don’t know.” Bree said in a sing-songy voice. “Right now you’re 0 for 2.”

“Wendy and Jared don’t count!” Gavin said. “And you and Ramona are practically already a couple.”

“Not exactly.” Bree sighed.

“Aw,” Gavin pat her shoulder. “Tell me all about it tomorrow. It’s too late tonight.”

“You know, this is gonna be the first time in a while that I haven’t gotten up before dawn to do my makeup.”

“Good for you.” Gavin smiled.

Meanwhile, Dominic had followed Ally all the way to the mess hall.

“Ally?” Dominic carefully opened the door and peaked in.

Dominic walked into the mess hall and found Ally crying in the corner.

“Ally!” Dominic ran over and knelt beside her. “What’s wrong?”

“If I tell you a secret,” Ally choked out. “Can you promise you won’t tell the others?”

“I promise.”

Back on the beach, Digit and Brad were taking turns skipping stones into the water.

“Well, that was one hell of a cliff-hanger!” Brad said. “What is Ally’s big secret?”

“What’s going on with the Populars?” Digit said. “Like, just in general.”

“Always a good question.” Brad said. “And finally, what were these statues for again?”

Brad pulled two Guilded Chris statues out from his back pocket.

“Brad!” Digit yelled. “You were supposed to hide those in the mines!”

Oh.” Brad’s face fell.

Digit grabbed one statue and chucked it into the water. Brad did the same with the other.

“No one will ever know.” Digit said ominously. “Next time on Camp…”

“Total…”

“Drama!”

Chapter 8: Flirty Little Secrets

“Welcome back!” Brad said, looking into the camera. He and Digit were in the interns’ quarters, Digit rummaging through one of the many filing cabinets. “Last time our teams split up on some mine-ful challenges. Get it? Mine-ful, mindful-”

“Mindful doesn’t even make sense in that context-”

“Anyway!” Brad continued. “At the beach, it was all fun and games until Ally threw Garret overboard. Thankfully, he was saved by his brother and a certain flirty blonde. Said flirty blonde also led the Populars to victory in that half of the challenge.”

“In the mines,” Digit turned away from the filing cabinet and joined Brad by the camera. “Some unlikely pairings were forged while some unresolved tensions furthered. After a heated argument, Violet pushed Quinn down the rabbit hole and into a cavern surrounded by giant mutant rodents. The two teams formed a truce to save their skin, meaning neither of them won the other half of the challenge.”

“Ultimately the Populars won and the Freaks joined us at the campfire again.” Brad said. “And a practically unanimous vote sent Violet packing. Let that be a lesson, kids, don’t push around people in wheelchairs.”

“And that’s what you missed on Camp Total Drama!” Digit pulled out a file and showed it to Brad. “I think I found the perfect challenge for tomorrow…”

Shortly after the Freaks’ elimination ceremony, Dominic had found Ally alone in the corner of the mess hall.

“Woah,” Dominic said once Ally had finished telling her secret. “That sucks.”

“Yeah,” Ally’s crying had subsided, but she couldn’t hold back the occasional sniffle.

“I’m sorry, Ally.” Dominic wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. “Why don’t you want the others to know? I won’t tell them, but you know we’d never judge you, right?”

“I know that, I do.” Ally nodded while wiping her face. “It’s just… I came here to try and forget my past, to make new memories to replace the bad ones. But the whole thing with Quinn and Violet just…”

“Brought back some bad memories?” Dominic asked.

“Yeah.” Ally sighed. “I guess it was stupid to think I could run from it.”

“You’re not stupid.” Dominic said. “And you’re not your past either. I mean, look at you now, you’re super awesome!”

“Thanks, Dom.” Ally blushed.

“Of course.” Dominic said. “And for the record, I’m sure you were pretty awesome back then too.”

“You’re pretty awesome too.” Ally giggled. “You always make me smile.”

“It’s what I do best.” Dominic said with a wink. “Now come on, you need some sleep.”

Dominic got up and held out a hand for Ally, helping her back to her feet. He didn’t let go of her hand until they reached the now quiet cabin.

The next day, tensions seemed to have eased among the Freaks as they were all scattered outside, talking amongst themselves.

“Psst, Casey,”

Casey, lost in his journal, instinctively looked down, expecting to see Quinn in front of him. Instead he had to tilt his head up to meet Lyla’s gaze.

“Yes?” Casey asked, a little confused.

“You’re pretty observant, right?” Lyla said.

“I’d like to think so.” Casey replied.

“Well,” Lyla began. “I’ve been paying zero attention to the other team…”

Casey sighed. “What do you need to know?”

“What’s Ramona’s deal?” Lyla asked.

“You mean other than the fact that she’s fallen head over heels for Bree?” Casey said.

“No, that’s definitely it.” Lyla said. “But…”

“But?”

“Which one is Bree?”

“Lyla!”

“I haven’t been paying attention to them!” Lyla argued. “Is she the blonde one?”

“No!” Casey said. “That’s Britney!”

Out of the corner of his eye, Casey saw the blonde perk up in the distance after faintly hearing her name before returning to braiding her hair.

“Oh!” Lyla gasped. “Bree’s the cheerleader!”

“Yeah,” Casey said. “And she’s a total flirt.”

“Aw, poor Ramona.” Lyla frowned.

“That’s what someone who hasn’t been paying attention would say.” Casey smirked.

“Wait, Bree likes her too?” Lyla asked.

“I think there’s a chance.” Casey said. “I’m not God, Lyla. I don’t know all.”

“Then what do you keep writing in that journal?” Lyla asked.

“Nothing you need to worry about.” Casey said.

“Boo.” Lyla frowned again. “What would it take for you to let someone else read it? Just for curiosity’s sake?”

“Well, that depends,” Casey thought about it for a moment before his smirk returned. “How many embarrassing love songs has this someone written about another certain someone at camp?”

“Damn, you are good.” Lyla said. “How much for one embarrassing love song?”

“Notes on any one contestant.” Casey said. “It could be you, it could be your boyfriend. I don’t care.”

“Why are you interested in my songs anyway?” Lyla asked.

“Oh, so I could make fun of you.”

“Hey!”

“Do we have a deal?” Casey asked.

“Tell you what, we’ll let fate make the deal for us.” Lyla said. “If we break our losing streak today-”

“Then we have a reading party tonight.” Casey smiled.

“Nerd.” Lyla teased.

The two shook hands before going their separate ways.

***

“Okay, I know I was pretty protective of my journal around Veronica, but she’s also Veronica. She feeds off of secrets like a leech.” Casey said in the confessional. “Lyla’s harmless. So sure, I’ll let her read a page or two about her and Jesse. There’s nothing too interesting there anyway.”

***

Eventually all of the contestants had gathered in the mess hall for breakfast.

“Good morning, campers!” Brad said as he and Digit entered through the back.

“Who’s ready for today’s challenge?” Digit asked.

The contestants all groaned in response.

“Yeah, yeah,” Digit rolled her eyes. “The collective groaning is starting to get old.”

“But this challenge isn’t getting old!” Brad said. “Actually, it is an old challenge. Every challenge we’ve done is just a variation of an old challenge, but-”

“But today’s challenge is going to test just how well you know your enemy.” Digit said.

“Our enemy?” Will asked.

“Yep.” Digit said. “Each team will be asked questions about their fellow competitors on the opposing side. We’ll explain more once we get there.”

“Where’s there?” Quinn asked.

“The beach.” Digit said. “In the middle of the water, to be precise.”

Quinn’s eyes went wide.

“No one’s going in the water.” Brad said. “It’s just for ambiance.”

“Do you even know what that word means?” Digit asked.

“Maybe.” Brad shrugged.

“Well, we don’t have all day.” Digit said. “Everyone to the beach, pronto.”

Digit and Brad left the mess hall and the contestants started funneling out behind them. Gavin grabbed Garret and pulled him towards the back of the group.

“You heard what our challenge is, right?” Gavin asked.

“Yeah.” Garret said. “Answering questions about people on the other team. I wonder if they mean personal questions?”

“They definitely mean personal questions.” Gavin said. “Anything about you that you’d rather be left unanswered if it comes up?”

“Not really.” Garret shrugged. “I don’t really have secrets.”

“What about the thing?” Gavin asked.

“What thing?”

“You know, the thing.”

“Oh!” Garret said. “That thing. It isn’t really a secret.”

“I know, but still,” Gavin said. “Would you be okay if that got broadcasted to everyone here?”

“I guess so.” Garret said. “What about you?”

“I am an open book.” Gavin chuckled. “I just wanted to check in with you first.”

***

“I get why Gavin’s worried about me for this challenge.” Garret said in the confessional. “But honestly? I don’t think it’s gonna come up. I mean, why would it come up in a challenge full of secrets?”

***

“It’s definitely gonna come up.” Gavin said in the confessional. “I mean, why wouldn’t it come up in a challenge full of secrets? But, Garret said he’d be okay. Bree had a point, I can’t meddle with his life too much.”

***

On the beach were two metal boxes complete with seats, one for each team. In front of each seat was a buzzer. Once both the teams were seated on their respective sides, Digit pressed a button and the boxes moved out, hovering just above the water.

“In the original challenge, when a team answered a question wrong, they were dropped into the water for a little swim.” Digit said.

Quinn nearly started hyperventilating.

“But,” Digit said as her and Brad’s hosting station moved in between the two teams. “In the original challenge, they were also answering questions about their own teammates.”

“That’s, like, a lot easier than answering questions about people who aren’t on your team.” Brad said.

“Translation, we’re expecting you all to suck.” Digit said. “So no deep sea diving today.”

Now Quinn let out a breath of relief.

“How this challenge works is simple. Well, not really.” Brad said. “One team will be asked a question about the opposing team. If they guess the right person, they get a point. Or two. Or three.”

“The questions are split into three tiers: easy, medium, and hard.” Digit continued. “One set of questions are worth one point, another set are worth two, and another are worth three. The catch is that you won’t know which type of question you’re answering and we won’t be telling you your scores as you go.”

“So how do we know who’s winning?” Veronica asked.

“That’s the fun part.” Digit said. “You don’t.”

“Not until the very end when we run out of question.” Brad added.

“Or until we get bored.” Digit said. “Whichever happens first.”

“On that note, let’s get started with the first question.” Brad said, pulling a note card out from his pocket. He held back a chuckle after reading it. “Oh, this is a good one. And it’s for the Populars.”

The Populars all leaned forward in their seats expectantly.

“Which one of the Freaks’ mom still calls them ‘Gar-Bear’?”

Garret’s face turned bright red.

Bree gasped, her face lighting up as she leaned over Gavin, hitting his buzzer instead of her own.

“Yes, Bree?”

“Garret?” Bree asked with a big smile.

“Correct!”

Garret sank down in his seat as his surrounding teammates all let out a collective “Aw!”

***

“That wasn’t the thing Gavin and I were talking about before.” Garret said, his cheeks still red. “But after that, I think I may be a little worried about what comes up next…”

***

“Freaks, next question is for you.” Digit said. “Which one of the Populars wears makeup to hide their freckles? Well, wore.”

Casey pressed his buzzer. “Bree?”

“Correct!” Digit said.

Bree simply shrugged in response.

***

“Now that all of my secrets are out in the open,” Bree said in the confessional. “I can just sit back and watch this insanity unravel. And trust me, it’s gonna turn into insanity real fast.” She chuckled to herself a little before leaving.

***

“Populars, which one of the Freaks has never left their house before this summer?” Brad asked.

The Populars all looked at each other blankly.

“Seriously? This is one of the easy questions!” Brad said. “It’s so easy that I’m even telling you it’s easy!”

“I told you they’d all crash and burn.” Digit said.

Natalia hesitantly pressed her buzzer. “Jesse?”

“Woah!” Jesse gasped. “How’d you know that?”

“I don’t know, you look like you’ve never left your house before.” Natalia shrugged.

“Thanks!” Jesse smiled.

“Alright, Freaks,” Digit said. “Which one of the Populars has a pet gerbil named Sprinkles?”

Britney smiled and visibly started bouncing in her seat.

“Is it Britney?” Garret asked after pressing his buzzer, his cheeks still a little red.

“That’s right, Gar-Bear!” Britney winked.

Garret’s face turned completely red again as he sank as far down into his seat as he could.

“Back to the Populars,” Brad said. “Which one of the Freaks has never performed in front of an audience before this summer?”

Veronica pressed her buzzer. “Quinn?”

“Wrong!” Brad said. “And this question actually had more than one right answer.”

“Damn it.” Veronica muttered.

Casey raised an eyebrow at Quinn.

“What?” Quinn asked.

“No, nothing.” Casey shook his head, smiling a little to himself.

“Okay Freaks,” Digit said. “Which one of the Populars has taken ballet lessons?”

Jesse pressed his buzzer. “Bree?”

“Wrong!”

“Aw, is it because I’m so graceful?” Bree asked.

“Well, aren’t dancing and cheerleading the same thing?” Jesse asked.

“No!” Bree shouted as Gavin and Ramona leaned over and restrained her in her seat.

“Sorry…” Jesse mumbled.

“More importantly,” Natalia said. “Who didn’t mention that when we couldn’t even find a decent third act for the talent show?”

“I was only six.” Veronica muttered. “All I remember is the plie.”

Digit and Brad continued reading out questions in rapid succession.

“Which one of the Freaks knows how to play more than three instruments?”

“Lyla?”

“Correct!”

“Who on the Populars is fluent in Spanish?”

“Gavin!” Garret answered once his face had returned to its normal color.

“Correct!”

“Which of the Freaks is terrified of water?”

“Definitely Quinn.”

“Definitely correct!”

***

“I don’t like the water! We’ve gone over this!” Quinn said in the confessional. “I’d rather get lost in the mines with Violet a thousand times than go in the water once.”

***

“Which one of the Populars is their school’s student council president?”

“Natalia?”

“Correct!”

***

“It’s not exactly a secret that I like to run things.” Natalia flipped her hair over her shoulder.

***

Some of the questions were a little challenging…

“Which one of the Freaks knows how to play the piccolo?”

“It’s not Lyla.” Natalia whispered. “They wouldn’t have two of her questions just be about instruments.”

“Well, if it’s not her,” Will said. “Then who is it?”

Britney gently pressed her buzzer. “Ally?”

“Correct!”

“How’d you know that, Brit?” Will asked.

“Lucky guess.” Britney shrugged.

…but most of the questions were pretty straight forward.

“Which one of the Populars was voted ‘Most Helpful’ by their class?”

“Ramona!” Ally answered confidently.

“Correct!”

***

“What?” Ramona blushed in the confessional. “I like helping people! My mom always tells me I care about other people too much, but I don’t think that’s true.”

***

“I think they’re starting to get cocky.” Digit said. “What do you think Brad?”

“I think it’s time to bring out some of the harder questions.” Brad said. “Populars, which member of the Freaks has an older sister who’s already a successful lawyer?”

The Populars all looked around blankly.

“Got any more lucky guesses, Brit?” Will asked.

“Um,” Britney hesitantly pressed her buzzer. “Casey?”

“Wrong!”

“Freaks,” Digit began. “Who on the Populars is gay?”

“Gavin!” Garret pressed his buzzer without a moment of hesitation.

“Correct!”

“Um, Garret?” Quinn leaned over and whispered. “Did you just out your brother?”

“What?” Garret exclaimed. “No!”

“It wasn’t a secret!” The twins both said simultaneously.

A few of the Freaks let out a breath of relief.

“Okay, Populars,” Brad said. “Which one of the Freaks is the only lonely member of their club at school?”

“What club?” Natalia asked.

“Oh, that would make this question way too easy.” Brad said.

Natalia hesitantly pressed her buzzer. “Jesse?”

“Wrong!” Brad said. “He doesn’t even go to a real school, come on.”

“Exactly!” Natalia argued. “That would make him the only member of every club!”

“Clubs aren’t really a thing when you’re homeschooled.” Jesse said. “But being in a club all by yourself does sound pretty sad.”

Casey slumped down in his seat.

“Freaks, which one of the Populars is at the top of their class?” Digit asked.

“Aren’t all of them?” Lyla asked. “Isn’t that the whole point?”

“Oh, we don’t mean popularity.” Digit said with a smirk. “We mean academically.”

Now the Freaks all looked at each other blankly.

“Veronica?” Dominic guessed.

“Wrong!”

“Um, thanks?” Veronica said.

“No problem,” Dominic said. “You seemed uptight enough.”

“Never mind.” Veronica glared at him.

“Populars,” Brad began. “Who on the Freaks is bisexual?”

Ramona’s hand hovered over her own buzzer for a moment before she pulled her hand away.

“It’s 2020, that could be any of them!” Gavin said.

“It could be all of them!” Bree added.

“Well, it’s not, if that helps.” Brad said.

Natalia pressed her buzzer. “It’s definitely the guy with the blue hair.” She pointed right at Dominic.

“I’m not giving you the point if you don’t know his name.” Brad said.

“Damn it.” Natalia muttered.

“Really, Nat?” Will asked.

“Give me a second.” Natalia said, glaring intently at the boy in question.

Meanwhile, Dominic was trying his best not to burst out laughing.

“…Dominic?” Natalia finally said uncertainly.

“Correct!”

***

“I know Lyla was probably an answer for that question too.” Ramona said in the confessional. “But it didn’t feel right taking everything she told me yesterday and using it to win a challenge. Maybe I do care about other people too much…”

***

“Alright, Freaks,” Digit said. “Which one of the Populars was dumped by their last girlfriend… over text?”

A few of the contestants on both sides winced at the thought. Bree looked particularly sick to her stomach…

“Bree?” Casey said after pressing his buzzer.

“Correct!”

“How the hell did you know that?” Bree asked, not angry, but clearly annoyed.

“You have a bad poker face.” Casey shrugged.

“Oh, sure,” Bree said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. “That’s not creepy at all.”

***

“You know, sometimes I think to myself ‘Hey, the Freaks aren’t so bad’,” Bree said in the confessional. “Then one of them says something like that.”

***

“Since that was so impressive, how about we hit the Freaks with another question?” Brad said. “Which one of the Populars’ mother struggles with alcoholism?”

Both teams went completely silent.

“Any takers?”

The Freaks all shook their heads. Casey didn’t even look up to glance at the other team.

“Okay, back to the Populars,” Digit said. “Which one of the Freaks was in a severe car crash when they were only nine?”

The Populars all looked around at each other before Natalia finally sighed and pressed her buzzer. “I feel bad for even answering, but Quinn?”

“Nope!” Quinn said.

“Seriously?” Natalia raised an eyebrow.

“No, it was me.” Quinn sighed. “That was a joke.”

Dominic put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Let me handle the jokes.”

“Freaks,” Brad said. “Which one of the Populars was pushed to audition by their younger sibling just so they could make fun of them, thinking they’d get rejected?”

“That one’s not so bad…” Casey mumbled as he scanned the Populars. His eyes stopped at one face and his head tilted curiously. “Will?”

“Preteens are the worst, man.” Will sighed.

“Correct!” Digit said. “The answer and sentiment about preteens.”

“Populars,” Brad said. “Which one of the Freaks regularly needs to take medication for their anxiety?”

Gavin’s hand hovered above his buzzer for a moment before he closed his hand into a fist and pulled it away. He looked up at his brother, who smiled at him.

***

“I knew it was gonna come up. I told myself when it did, I would be able to answer.” Gavin said in the confessional. “But I knew that was a lie. Thank god the rest of my team is always too caught up in their own drama to notice how much I look out for Garret because if they weren’t, I would’ve been eliminated already…”

***

“Freaks,” Digit began. “Which one of the Populars has a little sister who uses a prosthetic leg?”

The Freaks all shrugged.

“Not even a guess?” Digit asked.

“That’s kinda an awkward question to guess on.” Dominic said, a few of the others nodding in agreement.

“Fine, we’ll bring it back to the Populars.” Brad said. “Which one of the Freaks’ father doesn’t support their career path?”

Now the Populars took their turn to shrug.

“You’re all no fun.” Digit said. “Freaks, which one of the Populars has been in an abusive relationship?”

Out of the corner of his eye, Casey noticed one of the Populars tense up, but didn’t move his hand towards the buzzer.

“Nothing?” Brad asked. “Alright, Populars, last question.”

“Last chance to pull ahead.” Digit added with a smirk.

A few of the Populars leaned forward in their seats.

“Populars,” Brad said. “Which one of the Freaks was bullied so badly at their old school that they had to move across the country?”

Veronica’s hand hovered over her buzzer, but stopped when she saw Natalia glaring at her.

“How about we double the point value for this one and add another fun fact?” Digit said. “This person also had to take antidepressants for a whole year after.”

“Veronica, don’t-

“Ally!”

Veronica’s hand that wasn’t on the buzzer went over her mouth immediately after she answered.

“You, b*tch!” Natalia was glaring daggers at her.

“That’s what her secret was?” Britney gasped.

“You said you didn’t find anything in the interns’ quarters.” Will raised an eyebrow at Natalia.

“Back up,” Ramona said. “How many of you knew about this?!”

Across from them, in the center of the Freaks, Ally sat there stunned with her eyes wide and filling with tears.

“Well, on that note…” Brad said, awkwardly trying to change the subject. “The Populars lose. By one point, so that was really unnecessary-”

“How’d we lose?” Veronica asked. “We answered more hard questions and the last one was worth double the points!”

“Which would’ve been great for you if the hard questions were worth the most points.” Digit said.

“The hard questions were worth the least amount of points.” Casey realized. “Because they were all questions that no one” He glared at Veronica. “should’ve known the answers to. You only asked them to start drama!”

“Hate to break it to you, kid,” Digit said. “But this show’s called Total Drama.”

Camp Total Drama.” Brad added with a smile. “To be exact.”

“Populars, we’ll see you at the campfire tonight.” Digit pressed a button and returned all the contestants to the beach. “You’re all free to go.”

Ally wordlessly left her seat and started walking back towards the cabins.

“Are you gonna go after her?” Jesse asked Dominic.

“I want to,” Dominic sighed. “But I think right now she needs some space.”

Both teams went back to their cabins, not having much to say to each other on the way. Once the Freaks were outside their cabin, they all stopped before going in.

“Well, that was a lot.” Dominic said.

“Hey,” Casey started to walk towards Dominic. “I got a question for you-”

“Yes I have flirted with you before.” Dominic said without hesitation.

“That’s…” Casey stopped in his tracks and his cheeks turned red. “Not what I was going to ask.”

“Oh,” Dominic said. “Never mind.”

“Dom, you really are at your funniest when you’re not trying to be.” Lyla said, holding back a giggle.

“Did you know all that stuff about Ally?” Jesse asked.

That,” Casey said. “Is what I was going to ask.”

“Dude, she just told me last night.” Dominic said. “Like, after the elimination last night. But yeah, she told me everything.”

“I’m less worried about that,” Quinn said. “And more worried about how half of the other team knew before any of us.”

“Yeah, I’d like to know that too.” Dominic said with a hint of anger.

While the others continued talking, Garret slipped past them and into the girls’ side of the cabin. Ally was sitting on her bed with her knees pulled up to her chest.

“Hey, Ally,” Garret sat down next to her.

“Hey,” Ally sniffled. “Where are the others?”

“Outside.” Garret said.

“Then why are you here?”

“To check on you.” Garret said.

“Why?” Ally asked.

“Because I’ve gone through some of the same stuff as you.” Garret said. “Not so much the bullying part, but… that question about the anxiety medication was about me.”

“It was?” Ally picked her head up slightly.

“Yeah, I wasn’t really trying to keep it a secret.” Garret said. “But sometimes it still feels weird to talk about, even though I know it’s not a bad thing.”

“Yeah,” Ally sighed. “It’s just something I would’ve rather kept in the past.”

“I get that.” Garret nodded. “But you don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed about it.”

“Wait,” Ally said. “If that question was about you… Does your brother not know?”

“No, he knows.” Garret said. “I don’t know why he didn’t answer it though.”

“Because he looks out for you.” Ally smiled a little.

“Yeah, he does.” Garret smiled too. “Do you have any siblings at home?”

“No.” Ally said. “I think that was the worst part about everything that happened. I felt so alone.”

“Well, you’re not alone now.” Garret said.

“Thanks, Gar,” Ally pulled him into a hug. “Sorry again for throwing you overboard.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that.” Garret laughed. “Water under the bridge, literally!”

“You’re worse than Dominic.” Ally giggled.

Meanwhile, Bree, Gavin, and Ramona had gathered in the mess hall to talk.

“So…” Gavin said. “That happened.”

“Does this mean we’re finally getting rid of Veronica?” Bree asked.

“How did she even know?” Ramona asked.

In the back room, something clattered to the ground.

“What was that?” Gavin asked.

“Probably Digit or Brad.” Bree shrugged. “Or something.”

“I still don’t like what happened at the end of today’s challenge.” Ramona said, shaking her head.

“Yeah, I figured those three were up to something.” Gavin said. “But I didn’t think it was anything that bad.”

“And Will was in on it too!” Ramona said.

“I don’t know if he was fully in on it.” Bree said. “He looked just as surprised when Veronica answered that question as the rest of us. Same with Britney, Gavin’s just biased.”

“Why’s Gavin biased?” Ramona asked.

“No reason that you need to worry about, Ramona.” Gavin said. “And there’s something suspicious about her!”

“Is there really?” Bree teased. “Or do you just not like the fact that she’s crushing on your brother?”

“Both.” Gavin crossed his arms.

“Aw!” Ramona gushed.

“That’s what I said!” Bree said. “Plus, she’s super hot.”

“I don’t see it.” Gavin said.

“Well, obviously you don’t see it.” Bree laughed.

Ramona laughed too, but her attention noticeably drifted down to the table.

“For the record, Britney’s really not my type-”

Gavin put a hand on Bree’s shoulder to get her to stop talking. “What’s up, Ramona?”

“Well, it’s just…” Ramona stumbled for the right words. “How did you guys know you were gay?”

“Oh!” Gavin said, a smile instantly coming across his face. “Well, for me I watched Titanic with my abuelita a few too many times before I realized I was just watching for Leonardo DiCaprio.”

“And I discovered there was more than one reason I liked cheer so much around the time I started high school.” Bree said. “Lots of girls in tight skirts.”

“You’re terrible.” Gavin laughed.

“I’m being honest!” Bree said.

“Ignore her.” Gavin said to Ramona. “Not every experience is universal. And most importantly, you’re not alone.”

“Thanks, guys,” Ramona pulled both of them into a hug. “Now I don’t know about either of you, but I’m gonna go try and get to the bottom of what went down today.”

“We’ll catch up with you later.” Gavin said.

“Go get ‘em, Wonder-Girl.” Bree winked.

Ramona blushed and headed out of the mess hall. As soon as she was gone, Gavin started excitedly hitting Bree’s arm.

“I know, I know, ow!” Bree said. “Stop hitting me!”

“I’m sorry!” Gavin said. “I’m excited!”

“That doesn’t mean she likes me too.” Bree said, her cheeks red.

“Sure, but it means she could.” Gavin smirked.

“That was very touching.” The door to the back room of the mess hall slowly creaked open.

“What are you doing here?” Bree asked.

“Well, I was trying to lay low.” Veronica awkwardly stepped out of the back room. “But then I heard the three of you coming to the mess hall.”

“So you hid in the back room like a creep?” Gavin asked.

“I thought there’d be an exit back there!” Veronica said. “There’s not…”

“And what are you doing back in the front of the mess hall?” Bree asked.

“For starters, trying to exit the mess hall.” Veronica said. “But I might as well try and save my skin while I’m here.”

“Everyone’s voting for you, Veronica.” Gavin said. “You exposed a girl’s deepest traumas for literally no reason.”

“I thought it would win us the challenge!” Veronica argued.

“Humor me, why should we not vote you off tonight?” Bree asked.

“Because I just heard a pretty interesting secret about your friend.”

Bree and Gavin’s eye both went wide.

“You wouldn’t.” Gavin said.

“In case you couldn’t tell from today’s challenge,” Veronica said. “I would.”

“Are you seriously blackmailing us right now?” Bree asked.

“Well, I don’t exactly have a lot of other options.” Veronica said. “If I do still get voted off tonight, it sure would suck if I had to tell the rest of our team about Ramona’s little… revelation before I go.”

“You suck.” Bree glared at her.

“Hate me all you want.” Veronica shrugged. “I’m just being resourceful.”

“Can you go be resourceful somewhere else now?” Gavin asked, also glaring at her.

“Sure.” Veronica rolled her eyes and walked out the door.

“What the hell are we gonna do now?” Bree asked once Veronica was gone.

“Um, tell Ramona what’s going on?” Gavin said.

“We can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because she’s Ramona!” Bree said. “Because she wants to see the best in everyone. This will crush her.”

“You’re right.” Gavin sighed. “On the bright side, if there even is a bright side to this, we only need one more vote. I mean, I’m assuming Veronica’s voting with us if we go through with this.”

“It’s not like she has much of a choice.” Bree said. “And right now, we don’t either.”

“Good thing most of team doesn’t really like each other.” Gavin said. “It shouldn’t be too hard to tell Will to vote for Britney.”

“Or to tell Britney to vote for Will.” Bree said. “Natalia’s gonna be suspicious either way, but Britney is the least likely to ask questions…”

“But I don’t want her flirting with my brother.” Gavin pouted.

“There’s bigger things at stake right now, Gav!” Bree said.

“Fine, we’ll figure something out.” Gavin said. “But there is an even easier way to fix this.”

“How?”

“Tell Ramona you like her!”

“Oh, sure.” Bree said sarcastically. “So that when the truth about what Veronica did comes out, she’ll think I didn’t mean it.”

“Fair point.” Gavin sighed. “Well, let’s go commit treason, or something.”

The two begrudgedly got up and started heading for the door.

Behind the Populars’ cabin, Will had found Natalia sitting by herself.

“Hey,” Will sat down next to her. “You alright?”

“I’m fine.” Natalia said. “Just thinking.”

“About what happened with Veronica?” Will asked.

“Oh, yeah, that.” Natalia said.

“No, not that.” Will said. “What were you thinking about?”

Natalia stared off into the distance.

“Was one of the more serious questions about you?” Will asked.

“Yeah.” Natalia nodded.

“Was it about your mom?”

“Yeah…”

“I’m sorry, Nat.” Will gently placed his hand over hers. “Honestly, I’m a little surprised you’re willingly talking to me about it.”

Natalia shrugged. “I trust you.”

“Is that why you never learned how to swim?” Will asked.

“Why are you so hung up on that?” Natalia let out a laugh.

“Because we’re on an island!” Will said. “We’re constantly surrounded by water!”

“Well, are you gonna be there to save me if I start drowning, or something?” Natalia asked.

“Always.”

Natalia looked into Will’s eyes for a moment before saying “I’m in a weird mood.”

Without warning, Natalia leaned in and kissed Will. After pulling away, Natalia stood up and started walking off.

“Where are you going?” Will, flustered and very confused, asked.

“To go do something nice.” Natalia said. “I’m in a really weird mood.”

As Natalia walked off, all Will could do was smile, lean back, and say “Yeah…”

***

“I’ve never really known anyone quite like Will before.” Natalia said in the confessional. “I don’t know exactly how I feel about him, but…” She sighed. “It’s nice to feel like someone actually cares about me.”

***

Back at the Freaks’ cabin, the group of them were still talking outside.

“I think you should go in first.”

“I think she likes you more.”

“Not true!”

Lyla and Quinn started to settle their argument with a game of rock-paper-scissors.

“Hey, where’s Garret?” Casey wondered aloud.

“Ha! I win.” Quinn said triumphantly.

“Best two out of three?” Lyla asked.

“Garret has been gone for a while.” Dominic said.

“Oh, he went in the cabin a while ago.” Jesse said.

Dominic opened the door to the guys’ side of the cabin and peeked inside. “He’s not in here, Jess.”

“That’s because he went in the girls’ side.” Jesse said nonchalantly. “Where Ally is.”

“When?” Casey asked.

“And why didn’t you say anything??” Dominic added.

“He looked like he was being sneaky about it.” Jesse said. “Well, trying to be sneaky. I saw him, so he probably wasn’t doing that great of a job.”

“Aw,”

The others looked and saw Garret exiting the cabin.

“Look at you, taking initiative.” Dominic swung an arm around Garret’s shoulders. “Proud of you.”

“Thanks.” Garret blushed.

Ally was the next to walk out, carefully stepping past Garret. The others all turned their attention to her.

“Hey, Ally,” Quinn said. “Are you alright?”

“I’m okay.” Ally nodded. “I’m sorry I never mentioned anything sooner.”

“You don’t have to be sorry.” Lyla said. “That was some heavy stuff.”

“Wait!” Jesse gasped. “You did mention that to me a little before! When we were in the swamp and I asked you what high school was like! Garret was buried alive!”

“Ooh, that’s a memory I didn’t want to relive.” Garret shuddered.

“Dude, you are on a roll today!” Dominic reached out his free hand and gave Jesse a high five.

“Oh, I almost forgot about that.” Ally said. “Jess, I mean this in the nicest way possible, I kinda figured it would’ve gone over your head.”

“That is completely fair.” Jesse smiled.

“You’re not the only one with secrets, Ally.” Casey said.

The Freaks all looked around at each other.

“I’ve never performed in front of an audience before this summer.” Lyla admitted. “I didn’t mention it during the talent show because I was embarrassed.”

“My older sister’s a lawyer!” Dominic said. “And she loves to rub it in my face.”

“I used to do theater when I was little, before… you know.” Quinn motioned to her wheelchair.

“I have to take medication for my anxiety every day.” Garret said. “I’m a little surprised you never noticed.” He turned to Casey.

“I did notice.” Casey said quietly. “It felt a little rude to ask though.”

“And what about you, Mr. ‘You’re not the only one with secrets’?” Quinn raised an eyebrow.

“Well, I didn’t think we were gonna start playing full disclosure.” Casey sighed. “…I’m the only member of my school’s journalism club.”

“When I said that was sad before,” Jesse began. “I didn’t mean it as an insul-”

“Hey, Jesse, what are your secrets?” Casey asked.

“Oh, I don’t have any.” Jesse said. “That one question about me never leaving my house was it. At least I think it was…”

“Don’t strain yourself.” Casey muttered.

Quinn, the only one who had heard him, lightly slapped Casey’s arm.

“Thanks, guys,” Ally said. “This really means a lot.”

“Of course.” Quinn said. “You are kinda our leader.”

I am?” Ally asked.

“That would explain why the other team’s trying to destroy you.” Casey said.

A few of the others gave Casey a look.

“What?” Casey said. “I’m not wrong.”

“Well, it would be an honor to lead all of you.” Ally smiled. “Or it is an honor? I didn’t realize I was in charge.”

“Me neither.”

The Freaks all turned and saw Natalia walking towards them.

“What do you want?” Lyla and the rest of the Freaks all formed a defensive wall around Ally.

“I wanted to apologize.” Natalia said, raising her hands in surrender.

“To who?” Ally asked.

“Um, to you?” Natalia said.

“Oh,” Ally said. “You’re not the one who exposed my deepest darkest secrets, though.”

“Yeah, but it’s partially my fault she even knew them in the first place.” Natalia said. “Mostly my fault, actually.”

“You gonna elaborate on that or not?” Casey asked.

“Relax, I’m getting to it.” Natalia said. “It was my idea to find dirt on you. I didn’t think it’d be that bad and I’m sorry for snooping into your personal business in the first place.”

“And where exactly did you find this information?” Quinn asked.

Natalia sighed. “We might’ve snuck into the interns’ quarters…”

“Who’s we?!” Quinn asked.

“And what else did you find?” Casey added.

“Nothing else!” Natalia said. “And it was just me and Veronica.”

“Why should we believe you?” Dominic asked.

“Oh, you shouldn’t.” Natalia said. “But I am telling the truth.”

“Well, thank you for the apology.” Ally said. “But you should probably go now.”

“Yeah, I know how to read a room.” Natalia said. “I’ll see you all later.”

Natalia turned and walked off back towards the Populars’ cabin.

“That was a little comforting.” Ally said. “But it mostly made me want to throw up.”

“Don’t worry, Ally.” Dominic wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “We got your back.”

The Freaks started to disperse. Once Garret was alone on the steps of the cabin, he felt a small rock hit his shoe.

“What was that?” Garret asked, looking in the exact opposite direction of where the rock had come from.

Gavin came out from behind the cabin and face-palmed.

“Over here, Gar.” Gavin said.

“Oh!” Garret turned and smiled. “Your whole team is visiting today.”

“Yeah, I noticed that.” Gavin sat down beside Garret. “If you don’t mind me asking, what was Natalia doing here?”

“Oh, it was crazy! You’ll never believe what happened…”

Once the sun had set for the day, Bree and Gavin had regrouped in front of their cabin.

“So, what are we doing?” Bree asked.

“Attention Populars!” Digit’s voice rang out over the loudspeaker. “You have five minutes before tonight’s elimination! If you have to make any last-minute strategic decisions, I suggest you do it now.”

“Gee, thanks.” Bree rolled her eyes.

“I have a plan.” Gavin said and then whispered something in Bree’s ear.

“Seriously?!” Bree said. “Gav, we can’t pull that off.”

“Just make sure Veronica knows who to vote for.” Gavin said. “I’ll handle the rest.”

“Okay…” Bree went off to find Veronica.

There was only one person left Gavin needed to talk to…

Eventually, all of the Populars gathered at the campfire.

“Aw, I almost missed seeing all your smiling faces around the campfire.” Brad said.

The Populars all glared at him in response.

“Jeez, tough crowd.” Brad muttered.

“You guys know the drill.” Digit said. “Go vote, I doubt it’ll take you all very long tonight.”

***

“Gav, I don’t know what you did,” Bree said as she cast her vote. “But it better work.”

***

“You were useful while you lasted.” Natalia shrugged as she cast her vote.

***

“I don’t know what you did, or why you did it,” Ramona showed that her ballot had Veronica’s name written on it. “But it wasn’t right, and I will get to the bottom of it.”

***

“Alright, Populars,” Digit began once the team had returned to the campfire. “The first marshmallow goes to Ramona, because who would ever vote for Ramona?”

Ramona blushed as Brad tossed her a marshmallow and the rest of her team nodded in agreement with Digit’s statement.

“Bree and Gavin,” Digit tossed them marshmallows. “You guys are safe.”

The two didn’t pause to celebrate, instead they continued to nervously look around at the rest of their teammates.

“Britney,” Brad tossed her a marshmallow. “You’re safe too.”

“Tonight’s elimination was surprisingly close.” Digit said, looking at the three remaining Populars. “One of you received no votes, but we gotta keep the people in suspense somehow.”

Veronica and Natalia glared at each other. Will’s gaze was glued to the ground.

“The last two marshmallows go to…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“Will…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“… and Veronica.” Digit threw her the last marshmallow. “Sorry, Natalia. It appears your reign has come to an end.”

Natalia wordlessly stood up from her seat and tried her best to keep her head held high.

What?!” Ramona exclaimed. “But why? After everything that happened-”

Ramona trailed off once she noticed Bree and Gavin’s guilty expressions.

“You guys… knew?” Ramona asked.

“Ramona,” Bree put her hand on her shoulder. “I can explain-”

Ramona shrugged Bree’s hand off. “Why couldn’t you explain before?”

Britney got up and pulled Natalia into a hug.

“Please tell me this is just part of one of your plans and you’re not actually leaving.” Britney said.

“I’ve got no tricks up my sleeve this time, Brit.” Natalia sighed. “Take care of yourself. I know you can.”

The two shared a knowing nod before Natalia turned her attention to Will. He still refused to look up from the ground. Natalia rolled her eyes and turned to Veronica next.

“I don’t know what you did,” Natalia said, her glare intensifying with every word. “But I promise I will make you regret it.”

“I find that hard to believe now.” Veronica smirked.

Ramona was the next to get up. “Natalia, I’m so sorr-”

“Save your apologies and do me a favor instead.” Natalia said almost threateningly. “Be careful who you call your friends.”

With that, Natalia turned and walked towards the dock. The others watched, some in shock, some in excitement, and some in horror, as Natalia got into a canoe and started paddling away.

***

“I asked Bree and Gavin to get rid of someone other than me and they got rid of the biggest threat in the game?” Veronica said in the confessional. “I should blackmail people more often!”

***

As the Populars started to disperse, Bree grabbed Gavin’s arm and pulled him aside.

“Gav, what did you do?” Bree asked.

“Told someone the truth.” Gavin sighed as he looked over at Will, who was still staring at the ground.

"Are we going into a flashback sequence right now?" Bree asked.

"Yeah." Gavin said. "Let's look up and tilt our heads in thought as we do."

Moments before the elimination ceremony, Gavin found Will sitting behind the Populars’ cabin.

“Hey, Will,” Gavin said, trying to be as casual as possible. “Who’re you voting for?”

“Veronica.”

“Oh.” Gavin said. “Don’t.”

“Why not?” Will asked.

“Because you’re being played.” Gavin said.

“By who?” Will asked as he stood up.

“At the end of today’s challenge, I heard you mention the interns’ quarters.” Gavin said. “What exactly did Natalia tell you happened there?”

“That she snuck in there to find dirt on the other team,” Will said. “But didn’t find anything.”

“And you still believe her?”

“Get to the point, Gavin.”

“She just told the Freaks that it was her idea to sneak in and find dirt on Ally. Just Ally.” Gavin said. “And that that’s where her and Veronica found out about her… unfortunate past.”

“No,” Will shook his head. “She told me it was Britney’s idea to sneak in.”

“Again, you still believe her?” Gavin said. “Because she just told the Freaks that Britney wasn’t even involved.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” Will asked.

“Because she’s using you!” Gavin said.

“No, no,” Will kept shaking his head. “She said she trusted me.”

“She lied!” Gavin said. “It’s what she does. If you want to keep trusting her, fine, but it’s your funeral.”

As Gavin left, Will leaned back against the wall and all he could say was “Yeah…”

“You really believe all that’s true?” Bree asked Gavin once he finished recounting what had happened.

“I believe enough of it’s true.” Gavin said. “Bottom line, she lied to him and the rest of us. Besides, you said it yourself, she was the most likely to ask questions about what we did.”

Back in the Populars’ cabin, Veronica picked up one of her former teammate’s things from on top of the drawers.

“Hey, that’s Natalia’s scrunchie.” Britney said as Veronica tied the red scrunchie into her hair. “Now you kinda look like a Christmas tree.” Britney giggled, taking in the mix of red and green.

Ramona walked in and leaned against the doorframe, watching.

“If you put my yellow scrunchie that you stole on top of your head, it can be the star!” Britney continued giggling, but stopped once Veronica glared at her.

“Say I stole your scrunchie one more time and you’re the next one going home.” Veronica threatened before turning her back on the other two.

“Ramona,” Britney jumped into the athlete’s arms. “I’m scared.”

“Me too, Brit.” Ramona gently pat her head. “Me too…”

***

“Leave it to Veronica to mess up all my plans.” Britney said in the confessional. “I know my smartest move is to ally myself with the next biggest competitor in the game, but right now that’s…” She shuddered and gagged a little. “Veronica…”

“But!” Britney smiled again. “I do have one, much more appealing, option. I mean, Digit said it herself, who would ever vote for Ramona?”

***

Bree and Gavin both stopped outside their cabin before going in. Gavin put a comforting hand on Bree’s shoulder.

“Sometimes the right thing to do,” Gavin said. “Isn’t always the easiest thing to do.”

“I don’t think we did the right thing.” Bree said. “Plus, Ramona probably hates us now.”

“Well, whatever we did, it sure as hell wasn’t easy.” Gavin said.

Will walked past the two and into the cabin, not even glancing at them as he went.

“Gav, I think you broke him.” Bree said.

“Yeah, if you don’t see me at breakfast tomorrow, assume Will killed me in my sleep.” Gavin said. “And tell Garret I love him. And tell Ramona you love her-”

“She hates me right now.” Bree said. “Let’s not throw around the L word.”

“She does not hate you.” Gavin said.

Bree raised an eyebrow.

“Okay, so she might hate both of us a little right now.” Gavin said. “But she’ll get over it. Apologizing wouldn’t hurt either.”

“You’re right.” Bree sighed. “Now I’m gonna go into the cabin and not talk to anyone before going to sleep.”

“Same.” Gavin said. “And the only roomie I have is Will.”

“Good luck with that.” Bree laughed. “It’s weird, I know what we did was kinda sh*tty, but for some reason I feel kinda badass too.”

“Yeah, that’s because we just got rid of the biggest threat in the game.” Gavin said. “And Veronica’s next.”

The two fist-bumped before going their separate ways.

Back outside the Freaks’ cabin, Quinn and Casey were talking.

“Who do you think the Populars voted off?” Quinn asked.

“Veronica.” Casey stated. “Who else would they vote for?”

“I don’t know, it almost seems too obvious.” Quinn said. “Hey, Casey?”

“Yeah?”

“Were any other questions from today’s challenge about you?” Quinn asked. “I’m only asking because most people had more than one question.”

“Nope.” Casey shook his head.

“Promise?”

“...Promise.” Casey lied.

“Alright,” Quinn said. “I think I’m gonna go by the water for a bit.”

“But you hate the water.” Casey said.

“I’m not going in the water.” Quinn said. “And maybe I want to conquer my fear.”

“Need some company?” Casey asked. “Or moral support?”

“Thanks,” Quinn smiled. “But I think I’m good.”

“Alright, I’ll see you tomorrow.” Casey said. “Scream if you start drowning.”

“Shut up!” Quinn laughed as she started to wheel away.

Casey started heading up the steps of the cabin. As he reached for the door, it swung open, nearly hitting him in the face.

“I believe you and I had a deal.”

“Lyla?” Casey looked at the songwriter in front of him who was clutching her songbook to her chest. “What were you doing in the guys’ side of the cabin?”

“Goodnight, Lyla!” Jesse’s voice traveled outside.

“Night, Jess!” Lyla looked back over her shoulder, smiling.

“Oh, ew, were you two making out or something?” Casey asked in disgust.

“No!” Lyla said. “Garret’s in there too!”

“Hi,” Garret peeked his head into the doorframe and waved before disappearing back inside.

Lyla closed the door behind her as she stepped outside. “I bookmarked the most embarrassing ones.” She said as she handed Casey her songbook. “And they’re not finished yet, so you’re not allowed to make fun of the quality of them.”

“I don’t know anything about music, I couldn’t make fun of the quality even if I wanted to.” Casey said. “And here.” He somewhat begrudgedly handed her his journal.

“And I can read your notes on any one person here, right?” Lyla asked.

“Right.” Casey nodded as they both opened their respective books and started reading.

Meanwhile, Quinn had just made her way to the docks.

“Dominic?” Quinn asked, seeing the blue-haired jokester sitting by himself.

“Hey, Q!” Dominic turned around and smiled. “I thought you hated the water?”

“I’m trying to get over it, okay?” Quinn sighed.

“Good for you.” Dominic said.

“What are you doing here by yourself?” Quinn asked.

“I don’t know.” Dominic shrugged. “Just thinking.”

“Dom, can I ask you something?” Quinn said.

“Shoot.” Dominic nodded.

“Do you ever feel like even though you’re starting to trust someone,” Quinn said. “You don’t really know them at all?”

“That’s a pretty loaded question.” Dominic said. “I thought you were gonna ask me what my favorite color is or something.”

“Sorry, what is your favorite color, Dom?” Quinn asked.

“Blue!” Dominic said. “And to answer your first question, yeah, I think I get what you mean. People are a little funny sometimes.”

“You’d know that better than anyone.” Quinn joked.

“That was a good joke!” Dominic said. “Now I got a question for you.”

“Go ahead.” Quinn said.

“Which one of the guys do you think is keeping secrets from you?” Dominic asked.

“The one who didn’t have any questions about him answered in today’s challenge.” Quinn said.

“Ah, Casey.” Dominic said. “Yeah, he’s definitely keeping secrets.”

“Gee, thanks.” Quinn rolled her eyes.

“What? He’s a secretive guy!” Dominic said. “I mean, Ally’s one of the most trusting people I know, and how long has she been keeping secrets from us?”

“Fair point.” Quinn sighed.

“Hey, whatever he’s keeping from you, he’s not doing it to hurt you.” Dominic said. “Some people just like to keep things private. Keep your chin up, he’ll come around.”

“Thanks, Dom.” Quinn said. “You know, you’re really smart sometimes.”

“I’ve been getting that a lot lately.” Dominic said. “Remind me to do something funny and stupid tomorrow, I gotta balance out all this advice-giving I’ve been doing. I’ve got a reputation to uphold!”

Quinn laughed. “I’ll let you know first thing tomorrow.”

“Will Quinn actually let him know first thing tomorrow?!”

Quinn and Dominic both screamed as Digit and Brad appeared right next to them on the docks, Dominic being so startled that he fell into the water.

“Dude!” Dominic yelled as he resurfaced, coughing up water. “Not cool!”

“Hey, that was funny and kinda stupid.” Quinn offered him a smile.

“You’re right!” Dominic cheered. “One down!”

“How many more secrets are the Freaks keeping from each other?” Digit asked to the camera.

“And will the Populars be able to recover after voting off their leader Natalia?” Brad added.

“Wait, they voted off Natalia?!” Quinn asked. “Instead of Veronica?!”

“Oh, Ally’s gonna be pissed…” Dominic began to chuckle.

“See that next time on Camp…

“Total…”

“Drama!”

“…Do you guys do that at the end of every episode or-”

Shhh!”

Chapter 9: Behind the Screams

“Last time on Camp Total Drama,” Digit began while Brad pulled something out of the oven behind her. “Our contestants tested just how well they knew, not their friends, but their enemies. Some people’s guessing skills sucked, while others did so well, it was almost creepy.”

Brad began dramatically coughing, and in between two coughs he muttered “Casey.”

“Yeah, but he wasn’t the worst of them last challenge.” Digit said. “After both teams dodged some tough, personal questions, the Populars were offered a last-ditch attempt to win it all. Veronica, always eager to spill secrets, revealed Ally’s big one that she was bullied out of her old school, among other sad things.”

“And, you know, I guess they could’ve won after that.” Brad set down a pie on the counter next to Digit. “Except they didn’t. So Veronica organized another last-ditch attempt to save her own behind at the elimination ceremony.”

“After blackmailing Bree and Gavin with her knowledge of one of Ramona’s secrets,” Digit continued. “Veronica successfully avoided elimination and sent home the biggest player in the game, Natalia, in a total blindside.”

“And by total blindside, she means that Will voted for Natalia too, even after they kissed!” Brad exclaimed.

“Gavin got some new information from his brother about just what schemes Natalia was pulling,” Digit said. “And, in an effort to protect his friends, he took this information to Will and convinced him to send Natalia packing.”

“Did the Freaks do anything significant last episode?” Brad asked. “So much drama happened with the Populars, I honestly can’t remember.”

“They bonded over how they’re all freaks.” Digit shrugged. “The usual.”

“Aw, at least they’re keeping this show wholesome. The Populars are just backstab central.” Brad said. “You know, next season we really should mix up the competitors a little more when we put them on teams-”

“Next season?” Digit raised an eyebrow at him. “You think we’re gonna have a next season? Brad, our host is missing! And on the run from the authorities!”

“Oh yeah.” Brad started to cut his pie into slices.

“Um, there’s no drugs in the pie this time, right?” Digit asked.

“Nah, I just felt like making pie.” Brad said as he put a slice for himself on a plate. He slid a plate over to Digit too.

“Fine.” Digit sat down and took a piece of pie. “But we have to work on the next challenge after this!”

“Yes, ma’am!” Brad said with his mouth full of pie.

Digit rolled her eyes and continued eating her pie in a much more civilized manner.

Meanwhile, Lyla and Casey were still seated on the steps of their cabin, reading each other’s respective books.

“This is so sappy, I think I’m gonna vomit.” Casey chuckled to himself as he continued scanning Lyla’s songbook.

“Do you have a thesaurus implanted in your brain or something?” Lyla asked as she squinted at the writing in Casey’s journal. “Seriously, this is starting to make my head hurt.”

“Some of these lines don’t even rhyme.” Casey pointed out.

“Hey! They’re not done yet.” Lyla said.

“Can’t make fun of the quality.” Casey nodded. “Right, sorry.”

As they were talking, Quinn and Dominic also found their way back to the front steps of the cabin. Dominic was still soaking wet.

“What happened to you?” Casey asked Dominic.

“Well-”

“On second thought, I don’t think I want to know.” Casey said.

“Good call, dude!” Dominic ruffled Casey’s hair as he walked by, getting Casey wet as well.

“Don’t get everyone else’s stuff wet!” Casey yelled after Dominic as he started to head into the cabin.

“Casey,” Dominic whispered uncharacteristically sternly. “There are people sleeping.”

The other three exchanged confused glances as Dominic closed the door to the cabin behind him.

A few moments passed before they all heard a series of comically loud crashes from inside the cabin and screams from the guys inside that had been asleep before.

“He did say he wanted to do more funny and stupid stuff.” Quinn said.

“I don’t know about funny,” Casey said. “But he’s got stupid covered.”

“Be nice.” Quinn rolled her eyes as she went up the ramp leading to the door of the cabin.

“Fine, he’s kinda funny sometimes.” Casey said. “But never tell him I said that.”

“My lips are sealed.” Quinn giggled. “Goodnight, guys!”

Once Quinn entered the girls’ side of the cabin, she saw a very confused and groggy Ally sitting up in her bed.

“Did you hear screaming too?” Ally asked. “Or was I just having a nightmare?”

“No, there was a little screaming.” Quinn said. “But everyone’s fine. How are you holding up?”

“Honestly, a little better knowing the Populars probably voted off Veronica.” Ally said.

Quinn winced a little. “About that…”

“Yeah?”

“The Populars didn’t vote off Veronica.” Quinn said.

“What?” Ally asked, sitting up a little straighter.

“They voted off Natalia…”

What?!” Ally exclaimed.

The two could very faintly hear Casey say “Who’s screaming now?!” from outside.

“Why would they vote her off?” Ally said. “At least she had the decency to apologize!”

“Yeah, I have a funny feeling that may be why she got voted off.” Quinn said.

“She said she was gonna see us later.” Ally frowned.

“Most people don’t really expect to get eliminated, especially on that team, I’m sure.” Quinn said. “But don’t lose any sleep over it. Just because she apologized doesn’t mean she actually cared about any of us. And we’ll get back at Veronica too, together.”

“Thanks, Quinn.” Ally smiled sadly. “You know, I’ve never really been the revenge type, but I won’t lie, it’s a pretty tempting thought right now…”

A grin appeared on Quinn’s face.

***

“Okay, I know I shouldn’t be encouraging Ally to go on a revenge spree,” Quinn said in the confessional. “But angry Ally is a step up from sad, crying Ally.”

***

Back outside, Casey had just closed Lyla’s songbook.

“Well, Lyla, that was so sweet, I think I have diabetes now.” Casey said as he tossed the book back to her.

Lyla caught the book with her free hand while still reading the journal that was held in her other. “You have some pretty sweet stuff in here too.”

Casey’s head tilted in confusion.

“Would you like to hear an excerpt?” Lyla asked with a smirk. “‘Every day she surprises me’-”

“I never wrote that about you.” Casey’s eyes went wide.

“You said I could read your notes on any contestant.” Lyla got up and handed Casey his journal. “Relax, I won’t tell anyone, but maybe you should tell her a few of the things you have written in there.”

Casey took back his journal and saw that the placeholder ribbon was left in the middle of his notes on Quinn. His cheeks quickly turned bright red.

“Goodnight, Casey,” Lyla winked at him before going into the cabin.

***

“I didn’t know Casey had feelings!” Lyla said in the confessional. “Seriously, it was like a totally different guy wrote all that stuff! Oh, and for the record, he totally has a crush on Quinn.” She crossed her arms confidently…

… before beginning to stammer again. “Well, it didn’t say in there exactly that he likes her, but like, I know how to read between the lines. You can’t just write like seven journal entries about someone and not have a crush on them! God, I really am starting to sound like Peter, aren’t I?”

***

“I have made the executive decision that I was wrong, Lyla is not harmless.” Casey said in the confessional as he stuffed his journal back into his pocket, his cheeks still red. “And that I am never letting anyone on this island touch my journal again.”

***

“He’ll get over it.” Lyla said. “Eventually…”

***

The next morning, all of the contestants were gathered in the mess hall eating breakfast. The Populars’ table was filled with more tension than usual and all six of them sat in awkward silence.

“So, guys, how’s… um,” Britney tried to break the silence, but then sighed. “Yeah, I don’t even have a funny one-liner in me.”

Will glared at Gavin from the opposite end of the table.

“Oh,” Britney observed. “That’s new.”

“Why is he glaring at me?” Gavin leaned over and whispered to Bree, who was seated right next to him.

“Well, you are the one who told him Natalia was using him.” Bree whispered back. “And Natalia’s not exactly here for him to get mad at, sooo…”

“So he hates me now?” Gavin asked. “What do I do? Do I run??”

“Absolutely not.” Bree shook her head. “You can’t outrun him, he runs track.”

“Damn it, you’re right.” Gavin muttered.

Ramona watched the two whisper to each other from across the table.

“Hey, Ramona,”

Ramona felt a nudge to her side and turned to look at Veronica.

“Could you pass me the salt?” Veronica asked at a normal volume.

“Oh, sure.” Ramona grabbed the salt shaker and slid it over to her.

“You know staring makes it even more obvious, right?” Veronica whispered to Ramona as she grabbed the salt and halfheartedly sprinkled it onto her burnt eggs.

“Makes what obvious?” Ramona whispered back.

***

“Honestly? I have no idea.” Veronica admitted in the confessional. “Probably that she has a crush on Bree, but that’s already obvious.” She shrugged. “Whatever, I’ll let Ramona’s imagination fill in the blanks.”

***

“Good morning, campers!” Digit’s voice echoed over the intercom. “I hope you all got a good night’s sleep because for today’s challenge-”

“For today’s challenge,” Brad cut Digit off and spoke in an overly dramatic voice. “You will be facing your deepest and darkest fears!”

Brad started to laugh manically, but was cut off by the faint sound of Digit hitting him.

Ow!”

“We’ll explain more once you’re all outside.” Digit said. “If you could all spend the next ten or so minutes conveniently going around the room and confessing your biggest fears, that would be great.”

The intercom crackled out.

“This is so stupid.” Veronica complained. “Who’s honestly going to-”

“Frogs!”

Everyone in the mess hall turned to look at Dominic.

“I’m afraid of frogs.” Dominic continued.

“Why?” Casey asked.

Dominic grabbed both of Casey’s shoulders. “Because they’re evil!” He suddenly yelled in Casey’s face as he shook him back and forth.

Dominic let go of Casey and calmly asked him “So, what are you afraid of?”

“Sudden. Loud. Noises.” Casey said through gritted teeth.

“Oh!” Dominic exclaimed, earning another glare from Casey. “Oh,” He now whispered. “Sorry.”

“Well, you guys already know I’m terrified of water.” Quinn said. “Which means I’ll probably have to go in the water and- oh god I have to go in the water-

“Hey, it’s okay!” Ally grabbed Quinn and pulled her into a hug as she started hyperventilating. “You know what scares me? That mask from that movie.”

Quinn stopped hyperventilating. “What movie?”

Scream.” Ally shuddered. “You know, the white mask with the face like this?” Ally opened her mouth in a comical shocked expression.

“Wow, that’s spot on.” Quinn laughed.

“Thanks!” Ally said. “What about you, Lyla?”

“Oh, I’m afraid of the…” The rest of Lyla’s sentence was mumbling that none of the others could make out.

“I’m sorry, one more time?” Ally asked.

“The dark!” Lyla crossed her arms. “I’m afraid of the dark!”

“Aw, do you have to sleep with a night light?” Quinn teased.

“Don’t make me get a spray bottle full of water.” Lyla threatened.

“Hey, break it up!” Ally said. “Jesse, what about you?”

“I don’t really know what my biggest fear is.” Jesse shrugged. “I mean, I haven’t really seen a lot and-” His expression suddenly turned serious. “Clowns.”

“Clowns?” Lyla asked. “You’re afraid of clowns?”

“Not just any clowns.” Jesse said.

“Oh, so scary clowns?” Ally said. “Like in that other movie!”

“No, no.” Jesse shook his head. “It’s the nice ones you have to watch out for.”

“You’re afraid of… nice clowns?” Lyla asked.

“They’re plotting something with those tiny cars and balloon animals…” Jesse said, as if nice clowns had slain his entire family.

“Okay…” Ally said. “Um, Garret?”

“We may be here awhile if we go through all the things I’m afraid of.” Garret said.

From across the room, Gavin muttered “Fortune tellers!” in between fake coughs.

“Fortune tellers?” Casey and Quinn both raised an eyebrow.

“It’s a long story,” Garret sighed. “…That my brother will explain.”

“Thank you!” Gavin suddenly appeared next to Garret. “My team’s really not in the talky mood this morning and if I don’t socialize with people, I may die.”

“Just tell them the story.” Garret lightly rolled his eyes.

“Okay, so we were on some boardwalk and we were, like, twelve.” Gavin said. “Little Garret wandered off and stumbled into a tiny fortune teller’s shop.”

“Was the shop tiny or was the fortune teller tiny?” Dominic asked.

“Both.” Garret shuddered.

“The fortune teller, bored from a day of no customers, offered little Garret a free palm reading…” Gavin continued. “And told him he only had 24 hours to live!”

“Jesus Christ!” Quinn exclaimed.

“Yeah, clearly she was a little off.” Gavin said. “But Garret was still freaked about it for the next year.”

“It was really scary!” Garret said.

“I’m sure it was,” Gavin turned and started walking back to his table.

“Hey, why don’t you tell everyone why we can’t get a dog?”

Every head in the room turned to look at Gavin as he stopped in the center of the mess hall.

“Because,” Gavin began. “Abuelita is allergic to fur and it’s not my fault!”

“Hypoallergenic dogs exist!” Garret argued.

“You’re afraid of dogs?” Bree asked. “Are you even human?”

“Afraid is a strong word.” Gavin said. “I just prefer to stay far away from them.”

“Do you at least have some kind of tragic backstory to explain it?” Bree asked. “Like, were you attacked as a child or something?”

“Not necessarily.” Gavin said.

Bree turned and looked Garret in the eyes. “I always trusted you more.”

“That’s not fair!” Gavin said. “What are you afraid of?”

“Oh, just normal things,” Bree said nonchalantly. “Getting lost, dying alone, being dropped from extreme heights-”

“Can you repeat that last one?” Gavin asked.

“Dying alone?”

“No, the one after that.”

“Ah, being dropped from extreme heights.” Bree said.

“Isn’t that kinda an important part of cheerleading?” Gavin asked.

“Yeah, I think that’s where it stems from, actually.” Bree said before gripping Gavin’s shoulder as her expression turned serious. “If you can’t do a basket catch, you don’t belong in cheer camp.”

“Right…” Gavin gently removed Bree’s hand from his shoulder.

“Well, since we’re going around our table now,” Britney giggled. “My deepest, darkest fear is… split ends.”

The other contestants all stared at her blankly. Britney simply shrugged and continued braiding her blonde hair.

“I’m afraid of elevators.” Will finally said.

“Elevators?!” The rest of his team all raised an eyebrow.

“What? You could get stuck in one!” Will said. “And then it could fall!”

“I feel like that’s kinda unlikely though.” Veronica said.

“Oh yeah? What are you afraid of then?” Will asked.

“Not telling.” Veronica folded her arms. “It’s obvious they’re using this weed our fears out of us so they don’t have to do it themselves.”

Will, among others, rolled his eyes in response.

“What about you, Ramona?” Britney asked the only person who hadn’t confessed yet.

“Well,” Ramona said. “I guess my biggest fear is being unable to help the people I care about the most.”

“Woah,” Britney said as all the other contestants looked at Ramona with wide eyes. “That’s deep.”

“Also clowns.” Ramona added. “But someone else said that already.”

“See?” Jesse said triumphantly. “They’re evil!”

“I’m really just scared of the scary ones though.” Ramona whispered so that only her teammates could hear.

The door to the mess hall swung open.

“Are you guys done yet?” Brad asked impatiently.

“Yeah, yeah, we’re coming out now.” Quinn said as the others got up.

The contestants all filed outside and met Digit and Brad in the clearing.

“Today each of you will be facing your worst fear.” Digit explained. “It’s fairly simple. If you complete your task, you get a point for your team! If you fail to complete your task, you don’t get a point and we all probably laugh at you.”

“Digit’s in charge of the Populars’ fears,” Brad said. “And I got the Freaks!”

Each team looked between the two co-hosts, unsure whether to be relieved or worried by who was in charge of their team for the day.

“So, who’s going first?” Dominic asked.

“Are you offering?” Brad replied as he pulled a frog out from behind his back.

Dominic screamed and hid behind Ally.

“Before we start,” Digit said to the Populars. “Could the two of you do me a favor?” She pointed at Gavin and Will.

“Sure.” Will shrugged.

“Could you guys go back in the mess hall and grab something I left in there?” Digit asked. “It should be on the back counter. You’ll know it when you see it.”

“Why can’t you just tell us what it is?” Gavin asked.

“I don’t want to spoil any challenges.” Digit said. “And I don’t think either of you want to start this challenge with your team’s points in the negatives.”

“Woah, okay,” Gavin raised his hands in surrender. “We’re getting the thing in the mess hall.”

“Thank you.” Digit smiled uncharacteristically sweetly.

“That was creepy…” Will muttered as him and Gavin walked back to the mess hall.

Once they entered the mess hall doors, they found themselves in a small, square-shaped box. The doors slammed shut behind them.

“When did this even get here?” Gavin wondered aloud.

Will screamed as a sign above the doors lit up. The sign read… “Elevator”.

“Are you serious?” Gavin said. “The mess hall is only one story! It’s not like we’re going anywhere!”

Almost as if on cue, the tiny metal box that they were now trapped in started to move across the floor. Will screamed again and backed into the corner of the box.

“We can’t have you blocking the door to the mess hall all day!” Digit explained from outside. “Will, if you can survive ten minutes in this ‘elevator’, you get a point. If you can’t, there’s an emergency button on the wall that will open the doors… Probably.”

“And why am I stuck in here with him?” Gavin asked.

A metal grate on the top of the box slid open and something dropped to the floor. A small dog sat with its tongue sticking out and its tail wagging.

“Gavin, if you can survive ten minutes with this puppy, then you get a point too.” Digit said. “Might as well kill two birds with one stone.”

Now Gavin screamed and backed into the opposite corner.

“Dude, it’s a chihuahua.” Will said.

“Says the guy afraid of elevators!” Gavin shot back.

“Have fun!” Digit laughed as she left the mess hall.

“Okay,” Gavin was still pressed against the wall of the box. “This could be worse.”

The chihuahua tilted its head at Gavin and let out a small yip.

Gavin jumped. “Why is it looking at me?!”

“Because it’s a dog.” Will said, also still pressed against the opposite wall of the box. “A chihuahua. It’s literally harmless.”

Suddenly, the chihuahua’s eyes turned red and it moved into a predatory stance, growling at the two.

Both the boys screamed and grabbed onto each other as the chihuahua pounced.

Back outside, Brad was still trying to get Dominic to complete his task.

“Dude, you just gotta touch it.” Brad said, still holding the frog.

“I don’t know, man.” Dominic said, still hiding behind Ally.

“Dom, it’s so little.” Ally said gently. “It won’t hurt you.”

Dominic peeked his head out from behind Ally’s shoulder. “All I have to do is touch it?”

“Yeah, man, I’m not asking you to kiss it like you’re in a Disney movie or anything.” Brad said.

“Can you kiss it like you’re in a Disney movie?” Jesse asked, laughing.

“Please don’t do that.” Lyla said. “You will definitely get salmonella.”

“Dude, I dare you to kiss it like you’re in a Disney movie!” Brad laughed.

Quinn, and most of the other Freaks, sighed. “Why did you have to say that?”

“Well, now I have to do it!” Dominic said as he stepped out from behind Ally and approached the frog. “Mr. Froggy, if I may,” He leaned down and kissed the frog, like he was in a Disney movie.

The Freaks all recoiled in disgust. All except Jesse, who gave Dominic a high-five when he was done.

“Wow, that was gross!” Brad said, smiling. “One point for the Freaks!”

“Who’s up next?” Quinn asked.

“I’m glad you asked.” Brad said as he tossed the frog aside and pulled an inflatable duck-shaped floatie out from behind his back. “Are you in the mood for a swim?”

Quinn screamed and hid behind Ally, except most of her wheelchair was still visible from behind the tall, but thin girl in front of her.

“I’d tell you to change into your swimsuit, but I’m assuming you didn’t pack one.” Brad said.

“No, I did.” Quinn sighed. “I hoped I wouldn’t have had to use it, but I packed it.”

“Smart girl.” Brad said. “Now go get changed!”

“Anything to prolong the inevitable…” Quinn muttered as she wheeled off towards the cabin.

“Oh, and before I forget.” Brad tossed the duck floatie aside and discretely pulled out an airhorn. He walked up behind Casey and blasted the airhorn in his ear.

Casey screamed and jumped, nearly crashing into Ally. Ally, also stunned by the airhorn, instinctually wrapped a protective arm around Casey.

“That would scare anyone!” Ally said.

“Yeah, but it extra scares him.” Brad pointed at Casey, who was started to hyperventilate.

“Casey, look at me.” Ally put both her hands on Casey’s shoulder’s and looked him in the eyes. “The airhorn can’t hurt you.”

“Eh, it probably could damage his ear drums.” Brad said before blasting the airhorn again.

“You stop that!” Ally shouted as she pulled the now shaking Casey into a tight hug.

“Fine, I’ll stop. For now.” Brad put the airhorn back in his pocket. “Casey, I’ll be checking in on you with my new little friend a couple more times today. If you can make it to the end of the challenge without going insane, which doesn’t look very likely right now, you get a point.”

“When will you be sneaking up on me and blasting an airhorn in my ear next?” Casey asked.

“It wouldn’t be a sudden loud noise if I handed you a schedule, dude.” Brad said.

The rest of the surrounding Freaks all rubbed their ears as Brad started walking off to prepare other challenges.

“Um, Ally?” Casey asked. “Can you let go of me now?”

“Oh!” Ally quickly released Casey. “Sorry!”

Casey winced a little at her volume. “It’s fine.”

Meanwhile, Digit was taking Bree on a walk across the clearing.

“So, what are you gonna make me do?” Bree asked. “Jump off a cliff?”

“Oh, no, this is way more fun.” Digit said. “You’re going… bungee jumping!”

Digit motioned with both her arms to a bungee jumping contraption set up on top of an extremely high platform. A single rickety wooden ladder was the only way to the top.

“Oh, cool.” Bree said. “So, I’m gonna die today?”

“Maybe.” Digit shrugged. “We didn’t really have time to test it first.”

“Can I just do one thing real quick before I probably die?” Bree asked.

“What?”

“I just really need to talk to someone first.”

“If you’re talking about Ramona, make it quick because she’s on her way here now.” Digit motioned behind her to Ramona and Britney walking towards them.

“How kind.” Bree rolled her eyes at Digit before making her way to her other two teammates.

“Hey, Bree!” Britney waved as Bree joined them. “What’s your challenge?”

“That.” Bree pointed up at the bungee jump platform without even turning around.

Oh.” Both girls looked up at it with wide eyes.

“Hey, Brit, do you mind if I talk to Ramona for a second?” Bree asked. “Alone.”

“Oh! Got it!” Britney cupped her hands over her ears, squeezed her eyes shut, and started lightly humming to herself.

Bree rolled her eyes again.

“I’m sure you’ll be alright.” Ramona tried to find a bright side to the situation. “I mean, they have to test stuff like that, don’t they-”

Bree cupped Ramona’s face in her hands, leaned in, and kissed her.

Britney’s eyes shot wide open and her face shifted to a look of surprise and glee (although her hands were still over her ears).

“If I don’t die, I promise I will explain everything later.” Bree still held Ramona’s face in her hands. “If I do die, make sure Gavin doesn’t cry too much at my funeral.”

“O-okay,” Ramona stuttered out.

Bree let go and turned to walk back towards the bungee jump platform. Digit gave her a high-five as she walked past.

Ramona watched Bree climb the ladder from a distance, still stunned in the same place.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone!” Britney said to Ramona, who looked like she was only half-listening. “Who am I, Veronica?”

“Britney, what do I do?” Ramona turned to the blonde and asked.

“Well, do you like her?” Britney asked.

“I don’t know!” Ramona said. “She lied to me!”

“Did she lie to you?” Britney asked. “Or did she just withhold the truth?”

“Those are both bad!”

“Yeah, but they’re different.” For the next moment, Britney almost appeared wise. “Withholding the truth can be fixed overtime through trust. Plus, she could’ve been doing it to protect you... Lies tend to spiral into more lies. So, did she lie to you? Or was she trying to protect you?”

Ramona just stared at Britney, her jaw practically on the ground.

Before Ramona could even respond, Digit came over and pushed her into a chair.

“Um, Brit?” Ramona asked as Digit started wrapping rope around her. “A little help?”

“I would.” Britney said. “But I think this might be your challenge too…”

“That’s correct.” Digit said as she finished tying Ramona tightly to the wooden chair she was sitting in. “For your challenge, you get a front row seat to your new girlfriend going bungee jumping! If you can stay here and watch, without helping her, you get a point.”

“That’s just cruel.” Britney shook her head.

“What? I didn’t know they were gonna make out first!” Digit argued.

Ramona watched with wide eyes as Bree finished strapping herself into the bungee gear and jumped off the platform…

Most of the Freaks were now gathered on the beach near the dock. The only two missing were Dominic and Casey. Quinn had just rejoined the group at the beach, now clad in her swimsuit.

“Where’s Casey and Dom?” Quinn asked Ally.

“Well, Dom’s in the bathroom washing the frog off his lips,” Ally explained. “So he hopefully doesn’t get salmonella.”

“And Casey’s hiding for his life.” Garret added.

“Why?” Quinn asked.

“Brad’s following him around with an airhorn all day.” Garret explained.

“Ooh, that sucks.” Quinn said.

“Quinn!” Brad appeared on the dock with the yellow duck floatie in hand. “Are you ready to take a swim?”

“You’re just gonna send me adrift in the ocean?” Quinn asked. “That can’t be legal.”

“You’re right, it’s not.” Brad said. “Which is why we’ll be tying this duck floatie to the dock to make sure you don’t sail away!” He grabbed a rope off a nearby pile of various nets and other boating equipment and began to tie it around the neck of the duck floatie.

“You got this, Quinn!” Jesse cheered.

“Thanks.” Quinn said unenthusiastically.

“Freaks, who would like the honor of strapping her in and sending her off?” Brad asked as he tossed the now-secured duck floatie towards the Freaks.

Ally caught the floatie and gave a gentle look to Quinn. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah.” Quinn sighed. “Strap me in.”

“Well, there aren’t actually any straps.” Brad said. “It’s just an inner tube with a duck head.”

“Even better.” Quinn rolled her eyes.

Ally helped Quinn into the floatie, picked her up, and gently placed her into the water close to the shore. Quinn wrapped her arms so tightly around the neck of duck, she practically had it in a chokehold.

“See? You’re doing great!” Jesse said.

“Yeah…” Quinn chuckled nervously as the duck started drifting out further.

“Quinn, we’re gonna be right here the whole time.” Ally said.

“No, you’re not.” Brad interjected. “You all still have to do your own challenges! Quinn, we’ll see you in ten minutes. Or sooner, if you do chicken out.”

Brad walked off the dock and started heading back to the clearing. The rest of the Freaks all turned to Quinn.

“It’s fine.” Quinn gripped the neck of the duck even tighter. “Just go.”

“Sorry, Quinn,” Ally frowned as her, Lyla, and Jesse started to make their way back to the clearing as well.

“Garret, you have to go too.” Quinn said.

“I know,” Garret sighed. “But good luck!” He tried to give an encouraging thumbs up.

“Thanks.” Quinn did her best to smile in return.

Garret turned and left to join the others.

“I guess it’s just me and my duck floatie now,” Quinn said to herself. “All alone…”

Psst,”

Quinn looked up at the dock and saw a familiar face peek out from underneath the pile of nets.

“Casey?”

“Is he gone?”

“Yes, Brad’s gone.” Quinn chuckled a little.

“Good.” Casey let out a breath of relief as he climbed out from underneath the pile of nets and sat on the dock.

“What are you doing here?” Quinn asked.

“For now, moral support.” Casey shrugged. “But I’m gonna have to find a new hiding place soon.”

Quinn laughed as Casey paranoidly whipped his head back and forth, making sure there were no signs of Brad and his airhorn.

In the clearing, Garret had just rejoined the others. They were all standing and staring at a makeshift curtain that had been set up in the center.

“Garret! You’re just in time!” Brad said as he emerged from the curtain wearing a turban.

“That’s probably offensive.” Lyla said.

“You, me,” Brad pulled out a deck of cards. “And your future!”

Garret screamed.

Back in the metal box inside the mess hall, Gavin and Will were still screaming as the robotic chihuahua continued to mercilessly attack them.

“Why do you have to be afraid of dogs?!” Will yelled at Gavin as he pulled the chihuahua off his arm.

“Why do you have to be afraid of elevators?!” Gavin shot back as the chihuahua pinned him against the wall.

Suddenly, contemporary elevator music started playing, making Will scream again.

“Are you serious?!” Gavin shouted over the music.

“You’re the reason this is ten times worse!” Will said as he kicked the chihuahua away, making it even angrier.

“Since we’re gonna get mauled to death by a chihuahua in about 30 seconds, I might as well ask you this now,” Gavin said. “Why are you so mad at me today?!”

“Because it’s your fault Natalia got voted off!”

“My fault?!” Gavin said. “You know, Will, I would’ve accepted that blame from literally anyone other than you.”

The chihuahua jumped up and tried to bite Gavin, but he swatted it away.

“If Britney walked up to me and said it was my fault,” Gavin said. “Hell, if Bree walked up to me and said it was my fault, I’d say ‘Yeah, you’re right, and I do feel really bad about it’, but you’re just as much at fault as I am!”

Will just glared at him, not even paying attention to the chihuahua latched back onto his arm.

“Now if you’ll excuse me,” Gavin angrily pushed the emergency button and the doors slid open. “I’m done here.”

Gavin stormed out of the mess hall and the robotic chihuahua jumped off of Will’s arm, trying to follow. Will stepped out of the box, grabbed the dog, and tossed it back inside.

Stay.” Will said sternly as the doors to the box slid closed again.

Back outside in the clearing, Dominic had just spotted most of his team after leaving the bathroom. Ally, Lyla, and Jesse, were all trying to calm down a very panicked Garret a bit of a distance from Brad.

“Hey, guys!” Dominic said happily as he rejoined the group. “What’s up? I don’t think I have salmonella. Why’s Garret hyperventilating? And why are you,” He stopped next to Brad’s makeshift fortune teller booth. “Wearing a turban? That’s probably offensive.”

“Fine, alright!” Brad took off the turban and hid it under the table. “Garret, if you can sit down and let me give you a fortune, you get a point.”

“Do I have to go over there?” Garret asked quietly.

“I’m assuming you just asked if you had to come over here, but you’re so far away and quiet that I didn’t hear anything.” Brad said. “So yeah, you have to come over here.”

Brad motioned to the chair placed in front of his booth before going back to shuffling his cards.

“Come on, man, he took off the turban.” Jesse said. “You got this now!”

“I don’t think that’s how it works.” Garret said.

“Sure, it is.” Jesse said. “Have you ever seen a fortune teller on tv that didn’t wear some kind of accessory on their head?”

“That’s actually a really good point.” Lyla smiled. “You’re not really talking to a fortune teller, you’re talking to Brad.”

“Who still looks very much looks like Brad.” Ally nodded in understanding.

“And not a fortune teller!” Dominic added, leaning against the booth.

Brad fanned his cards out across the table. “Well?”

Garret sighed…

And then walked to the fortune teller booth, taking his seat. The rest of the Freaks cheered.

“Hey, since you’re here too,” Brad said to Dominic. “Do me a favor and hold this.” He handed Dominic a large crystal ball. “Under the tablecloth this is just a flimsy folding table and Digit may kill me if that breaks.”

The crystal ball was so heavy that Dominic nearly dropped it.

“Anyway!” Brad said. “It’s fortune time! Now watch as I move these cards in front of your face in grand and elaborate motions!”

Garret did watch as Brad clumsily moved the cards around in his hands, occasionally dropping some on the table by accident, but no card’s face was ever revealed.

“Pick a card!” Brad had divided the cards into two separate decks and held one in front of Garret.

Garret cautiously grabbed a card and started to flip it over.

“Don’t look yet!” Brad suddenly yelled.

Even more suddenly came a scream from underneath the table. Everyone jumped back as someone peeked out from under the tablecloth with Brad’s turban haphazardly placed on their head.

“Casey?” Garret asked. “When did you get here?”

“Don’t worry about it.” Casey said. “You’re doing great by the way.”

“Thanks.” Garret blushed.

“Quinn’s killing it too.” Casey continued as he crawled out from under the table and stood up. “And by it, I mean the duck she’s currently strangling.” He placed the turban back on Brad’s head before running away. “Bye now!”

“Oh, I’ll get you later!” Brad shouted after Casey.

Garret gently placed his first card back on the table, face down, as the rest of the Freaks exchanged confused and somewhat bewildered glances.

“Okay,” Brad sighed, picking up the second deck. “Pick another card.”

Garret picked his second card and placed it next to his first. Brad clapped his hands and started rubbing them together over the two cards.

“I will now tell you what your future holds!” Brad said dramatically as he flipped over the first card.

The card was a six of hearts.

“Are you seriously just using normal playing cards?” Lyla asked. “Wouldn’t it make more sense to use tarot cards or something?”

“Well, Digit thought she had tarot cards.” Brad explained. “But she didn’t. So, we’re working with what we got. Which isn’t really much.”

“The crystal ball is a nice touch.” Dominic said, still struggling to hold on to it.

“Thanks!” Brad said. “And now, I will flip over your second card!”

The second card was a nine of spades.

“Haha, nice.” Dominic chuckled after looking at the two numbers together, almost dropping the crystal ball in the process.

“Is one card supposed to represent his past and the other his future?” Jesse asked.

“Or is one a positive path his life could go and the other a negative one?” Ally added.

“Hold on!” Brad dramatically put his hands over his head and squinted at the two cards. “Let me think!”

“He’s totally making this up as he goes.” Lyla whispered to Garret.

“I kinda figured once I saw he was just using regular playing cards.” Garret whispered back.

“This card!” Brad held up the red six of hearts. “Means that you will fall in love!”

“That’s way better than dying!” Jesse pat Garret on the back.

“But!” Brad held up the black nine of spades. “It will come to a sour end…”

“Eh, still better than dying.” Jesse said.

Suddenly, a scream rang out from the direction of the beach.

“Quinn!” Garret gasped.

He got up from his seat and started running towards the beach, Lyla and Jesse following close behind.

“Wow, I was actually right.” Brad leaned back in his chair as he started putting cards away.

“You think Garret’s in love with Quinn?” Ally asked.

“I won’t lie, I definitely don’t pay as much attention to you kids as I should.” Brad said. “But I’ve seen those two together and that was a pretty big response-”

“No, no, no,” Dominic set the crystal ball down on the empty chair with a thud. “You got it all wrong.”

“I was just kidding around, but now I’m curious.” Brad said. “Why am I wrong?”

“Do you have eyes?”

“Um, yeah!” Brad pointed at one of his eyes to prove it.

“Um, guys,” Ally said. “Quinn-”

“Have you ever dated anyone, Brad?” Dominic asked.

“Oh, boy…” Ally sighed.

Brad stood up from his seat and walked right in front of Dominic, practically towering over the shorter teen.

“Dude, I’m 22 and I played varsity baseball all through high school and college.” Brad said. “I think I might’ve dated a couple more girls than you have.”

“I… think you have too.” Dominic took a cautious step back. “But that doesn’t mean you know anything about love!”

“So, are we gonna make sure Quinn’s not drowning or what?!” Ally stepped in between the two.

“Oh sh*t!” Brad said. “I forgot about that!”

The three took off running towards the beach.

At the beach, Garret had just reached a now sinking Quinn. The duck floatie had popped and was slowly losing more and more air.

Lyla and Jesse went to the dock and pulled the rope the duck floatie was still attached to, bringing Quinn closer to the shore. Once she was within reach, Garret scooped up Quinn and gently placed her safely back into her wheelchair.

“Thanks, Gar,” Quinn blushed as she pushed her wet hair out of her face.

“You’re welcome, Quinn!” Lyla said teasingly from the dock.

Quinn lightly rolled her eyes and looked behind her to the dock. “Thank you, Lyla and Jesse!”

“You’re welcome!” Jesse smiled.

“Are you okay?” Garret asked Quinn.

“I’m fine.” Quinn said. “A little embarrassed, but fine.”

“Don’t be embarrassed.” Garret said. “It’s not your fault the floatie popped.”

“Actually, it kinda is.” Quinn said. “I think I squeezed Duckie a little too hard…”

“I’m sorry, we shouldn’t have left you here alone.” Garret said.

“It’s okay, Casey was actually here for a little bit.” Quinn shrugged. “But he’s still running for his life.”

“Is everyone alive?” Brad asked as him, Dominic, and Ally arrived at the beach.

“Yes.” Quinn said, ringing the water out of her hair.

“Great.” Brad said. “My work here is done.”

“But you didn’t do anything.” Lyla said.

“Hey, Lyla, do you know what time it is?” Brad asked.

“Um, no?”

“I do.” Brad said with a smirk. “It’s time to lock Lyla in a dark box for ten minutes.”

“Oh no, not that time!” Lyla held onto Jesse and squeezed her eyes shut.

Bree had her eyes squeezed shut too as she was free falling from an extreme height. Inches before Bree hit the ground head first, the bungee cord sprung her back up.

Ramona watched with her eyes wide open, still tied to the chair. Britney had a comforting hand on Ramona’s shoulder while Digit just watched it all unfold.

“See? She did it!” Britney said.

Once Bree had been launched back to the top, however, she quickly began to plummet again.

“Wait,” Britney turned to Digit. “If no one else is up there to grab her, then how is Bree gonna stop bungee jumping?”

“She’ll lose momentum eventually.” Digit shrugged. “After ten, maybe even twenty minutes…”

“That feels like an exaggeration.”

“Brit, I have to help her.” Ramona, who had been listening to their whole exchange, said as she started to fight against her bindings.

Britney looked down at Ramona, then up to Bree, and then sighed.

“Go help her.” Britney took her hand off of Ramona’s shoulder.

In seconds, Ramona had broken the entire chair she had been sitting in, leaving only a few stray pieces of rope she could easily pull off.

“Damn,” Digit said. “I brought a knife to cut you free if you couldn’t do it, you know.”

“No time.” Ramona said before taking off running towards the bungee jumping platform.

“That’s probably for the best,” Digit said as she pulled out an incredibly small pocket knife. “I don’t think this would’ve done much.”

“That really was brutal.” Britney said.

“Not my fault she got philosophical on her application sheet.” Digit shrugged.

“Application sheet?”

“Yeah, you do know we have all your actual fears on file, right?” Digit said. “We only asked you to talk about them this morning so the audience knew what was going on.”

“Right…” Britney began chuckling nervously.

Ramona climbed the ladder as fast as she could while Bree continued to scream as she was launched up and down.

“Bree!” Once Ramona had reached the top of the platform, she waited until Bree came back up and then grabbed her.

Ramona pulled Bree back onto the platform and into a hug.

“Ramona?” Bree asked as she slowly opened her eyes.

“You’re okay.” Ramona held her even tighter.

“Yeah, I’m okay.” Bree returned the hug. “Look, I know I’m kinda the worst-”

“No, you’re not.” Ramona said. “Whatever you and Gavin did, I know you didn’t tell me to protect me.”

“Yeah,” Bree nodded. “But I didn’t die today, so I will explain everything tonight. Everything.”

“Okay,” Ramona smiled.

“So, what are you doing up here anyway?” Bree asked.

“Oh, um,” Ramona’s cheeks turned red. “My challenge was to watch you do yours without helping. I don’t think I got a point.”

“Does that mean you care about me the most?” Bree asked with a smirk.

“Maybe…”

“Gavin will be crushed.” Bree joked.

“I know you flirt with most girls, but-”

“Ramona, I haven’t even wanted to flirt with anyone other than you for awhile now.” Bree said.

“Really?” Ramona asked.

“Really.” Bree said. “You’re the sweetest, most badass person I’ve ever met.”

“Gavin will be crushed.” Ramona said.

“I think he’ll get over it.” Bree laughed.

“We should probably head back down now.”

“Yeah, but first…”

Bree gently kissed Ramona again.

“I really like you.” Ramona blurted out.

“I really like you too.” Bree giggled. “And secondly,”

Bree took off the bungee jumping gear and grabbed a bucket that was placed near the edge of the platform. She turned around and threw up in the bucket.

“That was because of the bungee jumping.” Bree said as she put the bucket back down. “Not because of you.”

“I know.” Ramona smiled.

Eventually the two made their way back to ground level and by Digit and Britney.

“Congrats, Bree, you get a point.” Digit said. “And Ramona, you do not, but that was very chivalrous.”

Britney beamed at the two girls from behind Digit.

***

“Okay, I know it’s bad Ramona didn’t do her challenge, especially considering we have less people than the Freaks,” Britney said in the confessional. “But they’re so cute together! It wasn’t even the dumb blonde act talking when I told Ramona to go help her. Plus, I guess I kinda owe Bree after going overboard and stealing her makeup…”

She paused for a moment before her expression turned serious. “Of course, this makes both of them threats now. But I am in desperate need of new allies, preferably ones whose names don’t start with V and end in ronica, so they can keep being cute. For now.”

***

“Hey, Britney, it’s time for your challenge.” Digit said.

“Are you gonna show her your split ends?” Bree asked.

“Very funny, but no.” Digit said, unamused.

Digit pulled a remote control from her pocket and pushed a button. Suddenly, a black hole appeared just a few feet from Britney.

Britney screamed and ran away in terror.

“Is that a black hole?” Ramona asked.

“A hologram of a black hole.” Digit explained. “Which she would’ve realized if she had reached out and touched it.”

Digit reached out and her hand passed through the hologram.

Bree sighed. “Let’s hope the guys are having better luck…”

The Freaks (minus Casey) and Brad were all gathered in the now-empty mess hall. The metal box was still in the corner. Brad pushed a button and the doors slid open.

“Aw, is that a chihuahua?” Garret asked as he peeked inside.

The chihuahua’s eyes snapped open, glowing a bright red. It growled before trying to pounce at Garret.

“The dog thinks you’re your brother!” Brad said as he grabbed the chihuahua and started wrestling with it. “Run while you still can!”

“Oh!” Garret started backing up towards the door. “Um, sorry, guys-”

“Go!” The Freaks all shouted.

Garret ran out of the mess hall.

“Someone grab my walkie talkie,” Brad said, still wrestling with the chihuahua. “And tell Digit to turn off the demon dog!”

Ally grabbed the walkie talkie from a nearby table. “Hi, Digit!”

“Um, hi?” Digit said. “Where’s Brad?”

“Getting mauled by a chihuahua.” Ally said. “Could you please turn that off, by the way?”

“Well, since you asked so nicely.” There was a pause on Digit’s end before the chihuahua powered off.

Brad put the sleeping chihuahua on the table and glared at it. “Bad dog.”

“Here’s your walkie talkie.” Ally handed it to Brad.

“Thank you.” Brad grabbed it and started talking into it. “Digit, I thought you were setting that thing to mild.”

“It is set to mild!” Digit said.

Everyone in the mess hall looked down at the chihuahua and shuddered.

“Alright,” Brad put down the walkie talkie and turned to Lyla. “Now that the puppy’s asleep, it’s time for you to get in that metal box. I’m gonna turn all the lights off and if you can last ten minutes, you get a point.”

“What if I can’t?” Lyla asked.

“There’s an emergency button in there.” Brad said. “Now hop in!”

“Okay,” Lyla said, but she did not move.

“You can do it!” Jesse held her hand.

“Thanks, Jess,” Lyla squeezed his hand before entering the metal box.

“Okay!” Brad pressed a button, the lights turned off, and the doors slid shut. Lyla screamed from inside. “Who hasn’t gone yet?”

“I haven’t.” Ally raised her hand.

“Oh, I know you haven’t gone yet.” Brad chuckled.

Ally’s eyes went wide.

“I didn’t go either.” Jesse said.

“That’s right,” Brad said. “I’ll be right back!”

Brad left the mess hall.

“Casey?” Ally knocked on a nearby cabinet. “Do you have any more room in there?”

Casey peeked his head out of the cabinet. “Why?”

“Because my fear is from a horror movie and Brad’s saving me for last!” Ally said.

“Fair.” Casey opened the cabinet door and scooted over. “Get in.”

“Thank you!” Ally squeezed into the cabinet and pulled the door closed.

“How are you doing, Ly?” Jesse leaned against the door of the box.

“It’s really dark in here!” Lyla said.

“It’s okay, Ly, I’ll be right here the whole time.” Jesse said.

“You do know when Brad comes back, he’s gonna be dressed like a clown, right?” Lyla asked.

“What?!” Jesse jumped.

After running out of the mess hall, eventually Garret found himself back by the cabins. Just as he was about to walk around the side of the cabin, someone else appeared and ran right into him.

“Sorry!” Britney said, trying to catch her breath.

“It’s fine,” Garret rubbed his head. “Are you okay?”

“What?” Britney was panickily looking around. “You haven’t happened to see any black holes around, have you?”

“Can’t say I have.” Garret said.

“Good.” Britney let out a breath of relief. “So, how’d your challenge go?”

“Pretty good, actually.” Garret smiled. “How about yours?”

“Pretty bad.” Britney said.

“Aw, I’m sorry.” Garret said.

“It’s okay!” Britney giggled. “My team can still turn it around.”

“Oh, so a lot of your teammates complete their challenges?” Garret asked.

“Well, no.” Britney said. “But they probably won’t vote me off if we lose.”

“That’s good.” Garret said. “I hope you don’t get voted off.”

“Thanks, Gar!” Britney ruffled his hair and winked at him.

Garret blushed as he watched her walk off.

Meanwhile, Digit was walking towards the interns’ quarters to grab some more supplies. As soon as she opened the door, she burst out laughing.

“What?” Brad, dressed in a full clown suit complete with face paint, asked.

“How many-” Digit couldn’t even finish her sentence before bursting out laughing again.

“I only have two more challenges left.” Brad said. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” He picked up his balloon animal and started marching towards the door with his comically large clown shoes.

“Are you gonna ride a tiny car back to the mess hall?” Digit asked.

“Do we have one?” Brad asked excitedly.

Digit just started laughing again.

Eventually Brad did make his way back to the mess hall. As soon as he opened the doors, he was met with screams and three brooms being pointed in his face.

Jesse, Dominic, and Quinn each held a broom as if it was a sword.

“Begone evil clown!” Jesse shouted.

“Wait a sec,” Brad started counting them. “One, two, three… Lyla’s in the box, Casey’s hiding from me, Garret’s hiding from a chihuahua…” He took one last look around the room. “Where’d Ally go?”

Quinn said “Bathroom” at the same time Dominic said “Cabin”

Brad raised an eyebrow.

“She had to stop in the cabin to get some ‘lady stuff’ before going to the bathroom.” Quinn explained.

“Second question,” Brad said. “Where’d you get so many brooms?”

The three shrugged.

“Fair enough.” Brad said. “Jesse, I’m a little impressed by this display, but you don’t get your point yet. I’m gonna go back outside and if you can come alone and take this nice balloon animal from me, then you get a point. And your girlfriend should be done in her dark box by the time you get back.”

“Thank god!” Lyla exclaimed from inside the box.

Brad walked back outside and closed the doors behind him.

“You can do it, Jess!” Lyla’s voice cheered.

Jesse took a deep breath, dropped his broom, and followed clown Brad outside…

And returned a few moments later, holding a balloon animal and smiling.

“Alright, dude!” Dominic gave Jesse a high-five.

“Is he back already?” Lyla asked. “Did he do it?”

A timer dinged and the doors to the metal box suddenly slid open.

“Ah! My eyes!” Lyla cried as the light hit her eyes after ten minutes in total darkness.

“Lyla!” Jesse ran over and handed her the balloon animal. “Here! Brad said it’s a giraffe.”

“Thanks,” Lyla smiled as she took in the mildly disfigured giraffe.

The doors to the mess hall opened and Brad once again walked in, now in normal clothes and no clown makeup.

“Alright, miscellaneous Freaks, you guys are done for the day.” Brad said. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

“Honestly,” Quinn said. “I imagine it would’ve been worse if Digit had been in charge of our team.”

“How come?” Brad asked.

“You are much nicer to us.” Ally’s voice came from inside the cabinet.

“Aw, thanks,” Brad smiled a little.

“So nice that you really don’t have to keep following Casey around with an airhorn.” Casey’s voice added.

Brad put the airhorn right against the side of the cabinet and blew it. Casey and Ally both screamed and tumbled out onto the floor.

“How long were you in there?” Brad asked Casey.

“Since before you got attacked by the chihuahua.” Casey said.

“Nice!” Brad offered him a high-five.

Casey begrudgedly accepted.

“Ally, you still have to do your challenge.” Brad started to chuckle.

“Why do you keep chuckling?” Ally asked.

“Oh, no reason.” Brad said. “I’ll see you soon…”

Brad walked back out the doors.

“By the way,” Brad peeked his head back in. “She kinda has to be alone, so if you guys could disperse, that’d be great.”

“Off to your next hiding place?” Quinn asked Casey.

“I guess so.” Casey sighed. “Wanna come?”

“Sure.” Quinn shrugged. “Good luck, Ally!”

Quinn and Casey made their way out of the mess hall.

“I guess we should go too.” Lyla said to Jesse.

“Yeah,” Jesse said. “Hey, Ally! Jeffrey wishes you good luck!”

“Is Jeffrey the balloon giraffe?” Ally asked.

“Yeah!”

Lyla and Jesse were the next to leave.

Ally was still laying on the floor after falling out of the cabinet. Dominic stood over her.

“Well, I’m not leaving you.” Dominic said.

“Thanks, Dom.” Ally said. “Hey, can I ask you something before horror movie Brad walks through the door?”

“Shoot.”

“Before when you were talking to Brad about dating and love and stuff,” Ally said. “How many people have you dated before?”

“One.” Dominic said. “And it only lasted a day.”

“Aw, how come?” Ally asked.

“They thought I was joking.” Dominic shrugged.

“That stinks.” Ally said. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, it was pretty funny.” Dominic said. “Besides, I think I’m over it now.”

“Good.” Ally smiled. “So, where does all your vast knowledge of love come from?”

“Honestly, I don’t know a lot.” Dominic blushed. “But I’m still pretty confident I know more than Brad.”

Ally giggled as Dominic helped her back up.

“So, are you ready to be the sole-survivor protagonist of a horror movie?” Dominic asked.

“Probably not.” Ally said. “But I guess I’ll do it anyway.”

“That’s the spirit!”

Dominic opened the door to the mess hall and walked out, but the door slammed shut before Ally could join him.

“Dom?” Ally tried opening the door, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Ally, don’t freak-”

Dominic was cut off by a cloaked figure who grabbed him and dragged him around to the back of the mess hall. All of the Freaks, including Garret, were there too. The figure released Dominic and the rest of his teammates held him back.

“Brad said if we help Ally, she won’t get the point.” Lyla explained and handed Dominic Jeffrey for comfort.

Brad, the cloaked figure also donning the Scream mask, shot finger guns at the teens before heading back to the front of the mess hall.

“What does she even have to do?” Dominic asked.

They all heard a high-pitched scream from inside the mess hall.

“Whatever it is,” Quinn said. “It’s starting now.”

They heard another scream, but this one was different. It was less a scream of fear and more of a battle cry.

The Freaks all exchanged confused looks and split up to circle back around the mess hall.

“Please don’t kill me, Mr. Ghostface!” Ally yelled as she was now attacking Brad with the plastic knife he had most likely been using for a prop. “I wanna be in the sequel!”

Ally had actually managed to push Brad out of the mess hall and wrestle him to the ground, still attacking him with the plastic knife. Dominic ran over, wrapped an arm around Ally’s waist, and pulled her off of him.

“It’s okay, Ally!” Dominic said. “That’s not the real Ghostface.”

“Does she still get the point?” The rest of the Freaks simultaneously asked.

“Yes, she gets the point!” Brad pulled the mask off his face and tossed it aside. “Ow!”

“Sorry,” Ally dropped the plastic knife. “I’ve had a rough week.”

“Well, Freaks,” Brad groaned in pain as he stood up. “You guys finish the challenge with six points. And I think I’m being very generous giving Casey his point.”

Casey and Garret high-fived.

“So, I’m the only one who couldn’t do their challenge?” Quinn frowned.

“To be fair, you did start sinking.” Garret said.

“Sinking?” Brad asked. “What happened to the duck floatie?”

“It popped!” Quinn said.

“Oh, that sucks.” Brad said. “Well, better luck next time. I’m gonna go get some ice because, wow, Ally can hit hard.”

Brad stumbled off and Ally happily skipped over to Quinn.

“Don’t worry,” Ally gave Quinn a hug. “When all this is over, we’ll get you a new and much more durable duck floatie and we can have a big pool party!”

Ally leaned closer and whispered so that the next part could only be heard by Quinn. “Oh, and forget what I said about revenge last night. That was more than enough rage for me. Thank you again, though, for offering.”

“Anytime.” Quinn smiled.

***

“As intriguing as angry Ally was,” Quinn said in the confessional. “Happy Ally is still the best Ally.”

***

Digit soon joined all of the Freaks outside. She was wearing a comically large doctor’s coat.

“Aren’t you supposed to be watching the Populars?” Lyla asked.

“Yep.” Digit said as she pulled out a megahorn. “Populars! Assemble!”

Most of the Populars all entered the clearing from various directions, Will and Gavin still looking a little worse for wear after their encounter with the robo-chihuahua.

“Where’s Veronica?” Digit asked.

“I think she’s in the cabin.” Britney said.

“I’ll go get her.” Bree happily offered.

A few of the others raised an eyebrow, but didn’t object as Bree went off to the cabin. Bree opened the door and found Veronica sitting on her bed.

“Digit needs you outside.” Bree said.

“Why?” Veronica asked. “I never confessed my fear.”

“They have files on us, genius.” Bree said. “You’d know that better than anyone.”

Veronica tensed up slightly, but quickly brushed it off. She got up and started walking out the door.

“For the record,” Bree grabbed Veronica’s arm before she could leave. “I talked to Ramona and you have nothing to hang over our heads anymore.”

“Aw, did you two finally get together?” Veronica asked mockingly.

“Yes.” Bree said, squeezing Veronica’s arm painfully tight. “And after tonight, she’ll know exactly what you did.”

“Interesting.” Veronica shoved Bree’s hand off of her. “Let’s hope you’re still around long enough to tell her.”

Bree rolled her eyes and the two walked back to the group in silence.

“Alright, it looks like everyone’s here.” Digit said, addressing all of the contestants. “In case you all haven’t been keeping up, the Freaks have a total of six points. The Populars have one.”

The Populars all groaned while the Freaks cheered.

“But!” Digit said. “The Populars still have one challenge left. Veronica?”

“What?” Veronica hesitantly stepped forward.

“If you can complete your challenge, your team wins.”

The Freaks erupted into various shouts of protest.

“Hey, what’s all the commotion?” Brad asked as he hobbled out of the mess hall, holding an ice pack against his chest.

“Digit said that if Veronica can do the last challenge, the Populars win.” Quinn explained to Brad. “But they only got one point total.”

“Oh,” Brad looked at Digit, who gave him a subtle nod. “Don’t freak yet.” He whispered so that only the Freaks could hear.

The Freaks all exchanged confused glances as Brad joined Digit in front of the contestants.

“Veronica, today you’ll be facing your fear of…” Digit pulled reached into her pocket. “Needles!”

Digit pulled out a ridiculously large needle with a mysterious liquid inside. Veronica screamed.

“What’s even in that?” Will asked.

Digit shrugged.

“Okay, I know none of us would miss her that much,” Gavin said. “But there’s a 50/50 shot that could kill her.”

Veronica glared at him.

“Oh, sorry,” Gavin said. “Chance.”

“What do you do when you need to get vaccines for school?” Britney asked.

“The needles aren’t that big when I need vaccines for school!” Veronica said.

“I think the liquid is bubbling.” Ramona whispered to Bree.

“Veronica, I can’t believe I’m saying this,” Bree sighed. “But I don’t think it’s worth it.”

***

“She’ll probably be the one going home if we lose anyway.” Bree shrugged.

***

“I’m not doing it.” Veronica shook her head.

“Fine.” Digit tossed the large needle aside. “You guys would’ve lost either way.”

“Then why even have me do the challenge?!” Veronica asked.

“Drama.” Digit shrugged. “I can’t believe you almost fell for that twice.”

“This challenge was rigged against us to begin with.” Britney said. “The Freaks have an extra person, so they had an extra chance to get a point.”

“Ah, but so did you.” Digit said with a smirk.

What?!” The Populars exclaimed.

“Remember when the two of you,” Digit turned to Will and Gavin. “Repeatedly asked why you had to do your challenge together?”

“I don’t like where you’re going with this.” Gavin said.

“Oh, you really shouldn’t.” Digit said. “Because if both of you had survived your challenges and each other, your team would’ve gotten an extra point to balance out the Freaks’ advantage.”

“Why didn’t you tell us that before?” Will asked. “Drama?”

“Yes,” Digit said. “And because it would’ve been an unfair advantage if I had told you. No one else had any extra incentive to finish their challenge.”

“That’s…” Ramona said. “Actually kinda genius.”

“Well, I’m not on the honor roll for nothing.” Digit said. “Populars, I’ll see you at the campfire tonight. Again.”

The Populars, and Digit, dispersed.

“So, Digit was playing mind games with them all day?” Ally asked Brad.

“Oh, yeah.” Brad said. “And you guys were right, you totally would’ve been screwed if she was in charge of your team. But don’t tell her I said that.”

“Our lips are sealed.” Ally made a zipper motion over her mouth and smiled.

Outside of the Populars’ cabin, Bree had found Gavin sitting on the steps.

“What’s up?” Bree sat down next to him.

“You seem pretty happy for someone who went bungee jumping for no reason today.” Gavin said.

“You seem pretty sad for someone who only had to deal with a puppy today.” Bree said.

“A puppy and Will.” Gavin rolled his eyes.

“Oh, what did he do now?” Bree asked.

“He said Natalia’s elimination was my fault.” Gavin sighed. “And he’s not completely wrong-”

“Gav, we both voted her off, not just you.” Bree said. “And did he just magically forget that he voted for her too?”

“That’s the thing,” Gavin said. “I don’t think that’s really what he’s mad about.”

“Who cares?” Bree said. “Seriously, you’re worse than Ramona sometimes.”

Gavin raised an eyebrow.

“You care about other people way too much.” Bree said. “If Will wants to be a prick, let him be a prick. We can vote him off tonight.”

“What about Veronica?” Gavin asked.

“No one here likes her.” Bree shrugged. “She shouldn’t be hard to get rid of later.”

“Speaking of Ramona…” Gavin smirked.

“Okay, so I might’ve kissed her.” Bree blushed.

“You kissed her?!” Gavin exclaimed.

“Twice.”

“You sly dog!”

“I thought you hated dogs.” Bree said.

“Eh, you’re alright.” Gavin joked. “In my defense, now I have been viciously attacked by a dog.”

“A chihuahua!” Bree laughed.

“But seriously,” Gavin said. “I’m really happy for you guys.”

“I know.” Bree gave Gavin a hug. “Oh, by the way, Britney lied about her biggest fear this morning.”

“I knew she was suspicious!” Gavin said.

“Well then, maybe keep your voice down.” Bree said. “We’ll worry about what her deal is tomorrow.”

“What even was her actual fear?” Gavin asked.

“Black holes.” Bree said.

“That’s… strange.”

Meanwhile, in the girls’ side of the Populars’ cabin, Veronica had cornered Britney.

“Who are you voting for tonight, Brit?” Veronica asked.

“Whoever everyone else is voting for.” Britney shrugged. “So probably you.”

Veronica rolled her eyes. “Have you not heard the news about our team’s newest power couple?”

“You mean Bree and Ramona?” Britney said. “They’re so cute together!”

“Yeah, cute.” Veronica rolled her eyes again. “But if you want a chance at making merge, those two have to be split up.”

“How come?” Britney asked, even though she knew exactly why.

“After tonight our team is gonna be down to five.” Veronica explained. “If we lose another challenge, obviously Bree and Ramona are gonna be voting together and they have Gavin’s vote too.”

“Three against two…” Britney muttered.

“But don’t worry,” Veronica said. “I have a plan!”

Veronica leaned over and whispered something in Britney’s ear. Britney nodded.

***

“Yeah, Veronica has a plan.” Britney said in the confessional. “And it’s stupid! So, I guess I’m coming up with my own plan.”

***

“I’m gonna go talk to Will about it now.” Veronica said.

“Wait!” Britney grabbed her arm to stop her. “I could talk to him.”

“Why do you want to talk to him so bad?” Veronica asked.

“I don’t know.” Britney shrugged. “But he likes me more than you.”

“Fine.” Veronica sighed. “Just don’t screw it up.”

“Got it!” Britney mock saluted her.

***

“And for the record,” Britney said. “I don’t appreciate being talked down to. Natalia may have thought I was a dumb blonde most of the time too, but at least she treated me with basic respect.”

***

Later, all of the Populars were gathered around the campfire.

“Wow, you guys are so used to this, we didn’t even have to call you.” Digit said.

The Populars just glared at her.

“Alright, jeez,” Digit said. “Just go vote.”

As people started getting up to vote, Britney grabbed Veronica and whispered something in her ear. Veronica glared at the blonde, who simply shrugged in response.

***

“I hope you and Natalia work things out,” Bree said as she cast her vote. “Because you’ll be joining her soon. No one makes Gavin sad. That’s like kicking a puppy. Well, maybe not a puppy… I still can’t believe he doesn’t like dogs.”

***

“Veronica, if you know what’s good you,” Britney said as she cast her vote. “Don’t screw this up. Or else neither of us are making merge.”

***

Will said nothing as he cast his vote, only paused for a moment before placing it in the box.

***

“Alright, the votes are in.” Brad said. “First marshmallow goes to Bree for being the only one to actually do their challenge.”

Bree winked at Veronica as she caught her marshmallow. Veronica rolled her eyes.

“Ramona and Britney,” Digit threw them their marshmallows. “You guys are safe too.”

“Hey, Veronica,” Brad said as he tossed her a marshmallow. “How does it feel to not be in the bottom two for once?”

“Delightful.” Veronica said sarcastically.

“Gavin and Will,” Digit looked between the two boys. “One of you is going home tonight…”

*

*

*

*

*

“We just don’t know which one yet.” Digit said.

“What?” The two said simultaneously before glaring at each other.

“Yeah, tonight’s vote was a tie.” Digit said. “Believe me, we’re annoyed too.”

“So, what happens when there’s a tie?” Gavin asked.

“Well,” Brad said, stepping in front of Digit. “The plan that we made in the event of a tie,” Brad was speaking at an incredibly slow pace while Digit was deep in thought behind him. “Which occurs when two people have the same amount of votes, which is Gavin and Will tonight, is that I, Brad, would stall all of you for one full and complete minute while Digit, my co-host, thought of a tiebreaker, which is what occurs to break a tie-”

“Got it!” Digit said.

“Oh, thank god.” Brad sighed.

“And that was exactly a minute too.”

Digit and Brad fist-bumped.

“Your tiebreaker will be…” Digit said. “A race around camp!”

“How is that even fair?!” Bree asked angrily.

“Will runs track.” Brad whispered to Digit.

“I forgot about that.” Digit nervously whispered back.

“How could you forget that?” Brad asked. “That’s, like, his only personality trait!”

“I’m sitting right here, you know.” Will said.

“Hey, just because he runs track, doesn’t mean he’s gonna automatically win.” Digit said. “Remember when you guys lost the dodgeball challenge?”

“You also don’t have to do the tiebreaker if one of you would rather just drop out.” Brad offered.

“Oh no, I’m doing it.” Gavin said as he stood up.

“Gav…” Bree said.

“If I crash and burn in this race, so be it.” Gavin said. “But I’m not quitting.”

Will nodded as he stood up. “I respect that.”

“You can do this!” Ramona grabbed Gavin’s shoulders. “Remember to pace yourself. If it’s close, don’t push yourself to get past him. Save your energy so you can sprint right at the very end.”

“Ramona, I’m sorry about everything.” Gavin said.

“Gav, I was never mad at you.” Ramona sadly smiled. “And stop talking like you’re going home! You can do this!”

“Racers, please join me at this starting and finish line that we just made, like, ten seconds ago,” Brad said, motioning to a single piece of string stretched across the grass. “You guys are starting here, running around the mess hall and cabins, and then past the campfire back here.”

Gavin and Will nodded to each other as they got into position at the starting line.

“On your marks, get set…” Brad blew the airhorn. “Go!”

The two ran off, Will already taking the lead. Soon they both disappeared from view.

Ramona reached over and held Bree’s hand. Veronica looked mildly intrigued by the turn of events. Britney looked around and made sure no one was watching her before darting off on her own.

Shortly after, the two boys came back into view. Gavin was surprisingly still keeping up with Will.

“And our winner is…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“Will!” Digit said as both of the boys stopped at the finish line, panting. “Sorry, Gavin, you had a good run. Get it? Run.”

Gavin glared at her.

“Alright, jeez, the canoe’s at the end of the dock.” Digit said.

“Good game.” Will held out his hand.

“Thanks.” Gavin accepted the handshake, but raised an eyebrow at him. “I still don’t like you.”

“Yeah,” Will solemnly nodded. “That’s fair.”

Ramona pulled Gavin into a hug.

“Ramona,” Gavin said. “Never change. You’re too awesome to change.”

“You are too, Gav.” Ramona said as she let go of him.

“You,” Gavin turned to Veronica. “Change a lot. Seriously, you’re terrible.”

“Gee, thanks.” Veronica rolled her eyes.

“Where’d Britney go?” Gavin asked.

“She must’ve slipped out during the race.” Ramona shrugged.

“Oh well,” Gavin said before turning to his final teammate. “Bree, are you crying?”

“No,” Bree said, blinking back tears.

“Come here,” Gavin pulled Bree into a tight hug. “You know, I’ve known a lot of cheerleaders that have wanted to be my friend because I’m gay.”

“Gav, what-”

“I’m going somewhere with this!” Gavin said. “You’re the first who’s actually been like me, and I know this is gonna sound corny because we’ve only known each other for a couple weeks, but you’re one of the greatest friends I’ve ever had.”

“Gav,” Bree wiped a stray tear from her face.

“Can you tell my brother I said goodbye?”

“Actually,” Ramona squinted at something approaching the campfire. “I think you can tell him yourself.”

Britney ran back to the campfire, dragging Garret behind her. Garret was initially confused, but once he stopped and looked around, his eyes went wide.

“Gavin?”

“Gar,” Gavin walked over and gave his brother a hug. “You’re gonna be okay.”

“No, you can’t leave,” Garret said. “It was your idea to sign up for this show.”

“I know.” Gavin said. “And you’re gonna do great without me. Can I tell you a secret?”

“What?” Garret asked.

“I wanted you to sign up so that you could make friends.” Gavin said. “And you did! That’s all I really wanted.”

Garret smiled as Gavin let go. Britney looked to Gavin and mouthed “I’m sorry”.

On his way to the dock, Gavin grabbed Bree one last time and whispered. “Make sure she doesn’t break his heart.”

“I’ll try.” Bree nodded.

Ramona held Bree as they all watched Gavin get into his canoe and start sailing away.

***

“Veronica’s plan was to vote off Bree.” Britney said in the confessional. “Veronica’s plan also hinged entirely on Will’s vote. Bree is the only one who actually did the challenge today. Will’s not an idiot… but he was pissed at Gavin. Why? I don’t know. Veronica’s reasoning wasn’t terrible, but Bree and Ramona didn’t need to be split up as long as we got rid of their guaranteed third vote. So, I told Will we were voting for Gavin and didn't tell Veronica until we were at the campfire, so she couldn't pull any surprises.”

Britney paused for a moment, almost looking guilty. “I do feel bad though. I may have been safe this time, but I just couldn’t risk them voting me off next time we lose. And trust me, there will be a next time. Sorry, Garret… Gavin! I meant Gavin!”

***

Will was the last one left at the campfire, staring out to the sea.

“Hey,”

Will turned and saw Veronica walking back towards him.

“That race was pretty close, huh?” Veronica said.

“He put up a good fight.” Will shrugged.

“Really?” Veronica said. “Because I think you were going easy on him.”

“So what if I was.” Will turned away from her.

“I’m just saying,” Veronica folded her arms. “Maybe he wasn’t the guy you were mad at after all.”

Will said nothing as Veronica left, just kept staring out into the distance.

Garret walked back to his cabin alone, still stunned. Quinn and Casey had been waiting outside since Britney had come and dragged him away. The doors to both sides of the cabin were open and most of the Freaks were watching and waiting for him to come back as well.

“Gar,” Quinn said as Garret slumped up the steps. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright.” Garret said halfheartedly. “I think.”

“You still have us.” Ally peeked her head out of the doorway and offered a smile.

“Yeah,” Garret nodded. “I do.”

“Come on,” Casey placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Let’s get some sleep.”

Garret nodded and followed Casey back into the cabin.

“Is he gonna be alright?” Ally asked Quinn once the door to the guys’ side was closed.

“I have no idea.” Quinn admitted.

Inside the guys’ room, Dominic and Jesse sat together and watch Garret numbly sit down on his own bed. Casey cast a worried glance in his direction.

“Psst,” Jesse whispered to Dominic. “Can you make him not sad?”

“I can certainly try.” Dominic replied.

Even Casey nodded in agreement from the other side of the room.

“Hey, Gar,” Dominic said as he got up and sat next to Garret. “You know what my sister said to me when she was leaving for law school? She said ‘Dominic, for the love of god, do your homework’.”

“Dom-” Casey began.

“I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.” Dominic said. “You know why that’s all she said to me? Because she knew she was gonna see me again.”

“Aw, that was good!” Jesse said.

Garret did smile a little.

“See?” Dominic turned to Casey. “Jesse has faith in me. How come you don’t?”

“Because you’re you.” Casey chuckled.

“Well, whatever,” Dominic said before turning back to Garret. “Get some sleep, Gar. We all love you.”

“Thanks, guys.” Garret said as his cheeks turned red.

On the steps of the Populars cabin, Bree was in a similar state, still trying to process what had just happened. Ramona sat next to her, holding her hand.

“I don’t know what happened.” Ramona said. “Veronica and Will didn’t surprise me, but Britney? I don’t know why she’d want Gavin gone.”

“Probably because she has the hots for his brother.” Bree said. “Gavin was starting to get suspicious of her.”

“Still, I can’t believe it.” Ramona said.

“I still have to tell you what happened with Natalia’s elimination.” Bree said.

“You don’t have to tell me tonight.” Ramona said. “Tonight was already a lot.”

“Yeah,” Bree said. “But there’s one thing I’ll be damned if I don’t ask you, especially now that Gavin’s gone.”

“What is it?” Ramona asked.

“Ramona,” Bree squeezed her hand tight. “I know you’re still trying to figure yourself out, so you can say no if you want to, but... will you be my girlfriend?”

“Yes.” Ramona smiled.

“Really?” Bree was smiling now too.

“I’m still not sure about a lot of things,” Ramona said. “But I am sure about you.”

The two kissed before going into their cabin for the night.

“Romance alert, part two!” Brad said in the mess hall, sweeping a broom and trying to clean up after the day’s shenanigans. “Will they last now that their wingman is gone?”

“Will Garret last now that his brother is gone?” Digit asked.

“And will the contestants continue to be terrified of Digit?” Brad added with a smirk.

“Well, they have to be afraid of one of us, or else we’d lose any authority we have over them.” Digit said. “And you’re too nice!”

“Aw, Digit,” Brad put a hand over his heart. “You think I’m nice?”

“I also think you’re stupid.” Digit said.

“Right.” Brad said, unconvinced.

“Hey, Brad, did you know they have our fears on file too?” Digit asked.

“Oh, cool-”

Digit pressed a button on her remote control and a loud crack of thunder echoed across the island. Brad screamed and jumped into Digit’s arms.

“We’ll see you next time,” Digit said, struggling to hold Brad. “On Camp…

“Total…”

Aah!”

Digit and Brad tumbled onto the ground, landing on top of each other.

“…Drama!”

Chapter 10: Alien Eggs-travaganza

“Welcome back to Camp Total Drama!” Brad said, standing in the center of the interns’ quarters. Behind him, Digit was doing her daily morning ritual of finding a challenge for the contestants only an hour before they had to do it. “Last time, our contestants faced their deepest, darkest fears!”

“Well, some faced their fears,” Digit added. “Others fled.”

“The Freaks dominated, having all but one complete their challenge.” Brad continued. “While the Populars flopped, having only one person complete their challenge. On the bright side, though, Bree and Ramona confessed their feelings for each other and kissed! Like, a lot!”

“After the Populars lost,” Digit said. “Veronica and Britney started scheming and Will continued to make bad decisions, all of them eventually deciding to send Gavin home, some more begrudgedly than others.”

“Why did they vote him off again?” Brad asked. “He was so nice!”

“Will was mad at Gavin, or at least thought he was mad at Gavin, because he still wasn’t over Natalia’s elimination.” Digit explained. “Britney worried that Bree and Ramona’s new couple status would make them a threat, but didn’t want to split them up just yet. And Veronica actually wanted to vote off Bree, but Britney’s quick thinking forced her to change her plans at the last second.”

“Oh yeah, I guess that makes sense.” Brad said. “Anyway! After a suspenseful tiebreaker between Gavin and Will-”

“It wasn’t really that suspenseful.” Digit said. “It was a race, Will runs track-”

“Well, whose idea was it for the tiebreaker to be a race?” Brad raised an eyebrow.

Digit stuck her tongue out at him.

“So, after Gavin lost the tiebreaker,” Brad continued. “He said his goodbyes to his teammates and his brother, Garret, after Britney dragged him to the campfire, knowing Gavin’s chances of winning were slim.”

“The Freaks tried to comfort Garret after his brother’s elimination,” Digit said. “But, honestly, I don’t think that guy’s gonna last very long now.”

“Don’t be mean!” Brad said.

“Got it!”

“…Are you actually agreeing with me?” Brad asked.

“No,” Digit said, handing him a paper from one of the filing cabinets. “I got today’s challenge.”

“Huh,” Brad scanned the paper. “One problem, we have nowhere to do this.”

“Don’t we?” Digit said, pressing a button on her remote control.

Suddenly, the forest behind the interns’ quarters and cabins started shifting and rumbling…

Meanwhile, Will was sitting by himself in the guys’ side of the Populars’ cabin. All the beds of his former roommates and teammates lay empty and untouched.

***

“I messed up big time.” Will said in the confessional. “Veronica was right, I wasn’t really mad at Gavin over Natalia’s elimination, I was mad at myself. Mad at myself for trusting her or for voting her off, I don’t know, but… None of that was Gav’s fault.”

Will sighed before continuing. “Now at least half my team definitely hates me, rightfully so. I don’t know if any of the choices I’ve made the past couple days have been the right ones, but if I hadn’t voted for Natalia, then Veronica would’ve gone home…”

“And she did actually try to help me last night.” Will smiled a little. “Or at least I think she was trying to help. So, maybe there is some good in her after all. Maybe she just needs a chance to show it. And maybe I should’ve given Natalia that chance too…”

***

The rest of the contestants were startled awake by the sudden rumbling of the island. Jesse was the first to rush out of the cabins to investigate.

“The trees are gone!” Jesse exclaimed.

He ran into the girls’ side of the Freaks’ cabin in a panic.

“Lyla, the trees are gone!” Jesse yelled into the first bed he saw. “Oh, you’re not Lyla.”

A confused and groggy Quinn nodded in response.

“Sorry, Quinn!” Jesse said, grabbing the edge of the bunk bed above Quinn and hoisting himself up just enough so his head was peering in. “Lyla, the trees are gone!”

“Jesse,” An equally confused and tired Ally replied as she sat up in her bed. “What are you talking about?”

“Oh, still not Lyla.” Jesse said. “Sorry, Ally!”

“Jess,” Lyla, who had been standing next to her own bunk bed the whole time, said. “I’m right here.”

“Lyla!” Jesse jumped off of Quinn’s bed and ran over, grabbing his girlfriend’s shoulders. “The trees are gone!”

“What do you mean the trees are gone?” Lyla asked.

“Come look!” Jesse took her hand and ran back outside.

Most of the other contestants had started filing outside as well. The forest behind the cabins had been replaced with a large, warehouse-like building. Digit and Brad stood before the contestants, wearing matching lime green hats.

“What’s with…” Veronica loosely motioned to everything in front of them. “All of this?”

“Raise your hand if you like alien movies.” Digit addressed the group.

Jesse’s hand shot straight up while a few others partially, somewhat halfheartedly, raised their hands.

“Well, this challenge is gonna suck for anyone not raising their hand.” Digit said.

“It’s probably still gonna suck, even if you are raising your hand.” Brad added.

“What is it?” Dominic asked.

“Take a guess.” Digit said.

“It’s an alien movie themed challenge.” Casey stated.

“How observant.” Digit said. “Today you’ll all be going into this alien movie set and searching for alien eggs-”

“Are they actually gonna be there this time?” Veronica asked.

“Excuse me?”

“The mine challenge.” Veronica raised an eyebrow.

“I told you they’d figure out we forgot to hide those statues!” Brad said.

“You forgot to hide the statues?” Quinn asked.

He,” Digit pointed at Brad. “Forgot to hide the statues. And yes, the alien eggs are actually in that building.”

“And while you’re collecting eggs,” Brad pulled a green paintball gun out from behind his back. “Digit and I will be hunting you like aliens in an alien movie!”

“Well, that explains the headgear.” Bree chuckled.

“If Brad or I successfully shoot you with a paintball, you’re out and can no longer collect any eggs for your team.” Digit said. “If you do manage to make it to the finish line unscathed, any eggs you bring with you will go towards your team’s final count. Whichever team collects the most eggs wins.”

“So, yesterday you tortured us with our darkest fears,” Ramona said. “And today you’re hunting us with paintball guns?”

“Don’t forget when they revealed our deepest secrets and traumas the day before.” Casey added.

“Hey, you signed up for this.” Digit pointed out. “We didn’t.”

“Facts.” Brad nodded. “By the way, you guys get a ten-minute head start, which starts…” Brad glanced down at his watch. “Now!”

Both teams looked around at each other, startled, before taking off running into the building. The teams split into their own respective huddles once they were inside.

“Okay, team,” Ally said. “Ooh, we haven’t had to team huddle plan in a while. This is fun!”

“Digit and Brad are gonna be here in ten-minutes to mercilessly shoot us with paintballs.” Casey stated bluntly.

“Well, that’s not fun.” Ally said. “I think our best chance at avoiding them is splitting up.”

“Definitely.” Quinn nodded. “Plus, we’ll find more eggs that way too.”

“Just like the scavenger hunt!” Dominic smiled.

“So, same groups as the scavenger hunt?” Lyla asked, placing a hand on Jesse’s shoulder.

“Sounds good to me.” Ally said. “Unless anyone has any objections?”

“Nope,” Dominic swung an arm around Ally’s shoulder. “Looks like it’s you and me, Ally-gator.”

Most of the others groaned and rolled their eyes, while Ally blushed. Garret didn’t react, instead he stared blankly at the ground.

“Gar?” Ally asked. “Are you okay?”

“Huh?” Garret blinked. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine.”

***

“No, I’m not.” Garret sighed in the confessional. “Gavin was the only reason I even signed up for this show. I was worried in the beginning when we got put on different teams, but he told me everything was gonna be okay… And now he’s gone! I just don’t know what to do now.”

***

“We got him.” Quinn mouthed to the others as Casey grabbed the distracted Garret.

“Okay, great!” Ally said. “Move out, team. And good luck!”

The Freaks all dispersed. Ally and Dominic went down one hallway, Lyla and Jesse down another, and Quinn, Casey, and Garret down a third.

The Populars were huddled together too, although their huddle was smaller than the Freaks’.

“Okay, what are we gonna do?” Veronica asked.

“You mean you don’t have a plan?” Britney said.

“Well, do you?” Veronica shot back.

“The best plan is to split up.” Will said. “We’ll find more eggs and have a better chance at getting more people across the finish line.”

“And who put you in charge?” Bree raised an eyebrow.

“No one.” Will solemnly nodded.

“Hey, it is a good plan.” Ramona said.

“Thank you.” Will smiled a little.

“Fine.” Bree shot one last glare at Will before wrapping her arm around Ramona. “And you’re my partner?”

“Of course.” Ramona giggled.

“You know, in the original challenge, the couple were the ones eliminated in the end.” Veronica said with a smirk.

“Wow, how funny.” Bree said, glaring at Veronica.

“Can we all please try and get along?” Ramona asked. “Just so we can win this challenge?”

“We seriously need to start winning challenges.” Britney agreed.

“I guess you’re with me, Veronica.” Will said.

“I am?” Veronica asked.

“Well, you’re not going alone.” Will said. He leaned closer and whispered “And I don’t think you’re going with them either.”

“Fine.” Veronica rolled her eyes.

“What about you, Brit?” Ramona asked.

“Oh,” Britney looked between the two pairs. “I think I’ll go alone.”

“No way.” Ramona shook her head as the rest of the team, even Veronica, began to protest.

“Brit, we are not sending you in a creepy alien warehouse while being hunted by yourself!” Veronica said.

“I don’t want to third wheel!” Britney said, motioning to Bree and Ramona. “And…” She trailed off, looking at Will and Veronica, before finally just shrugging.

“Brit, just come with us.” Bree said while Ramona nodded. “It’s okay.”

“But the more split up we are,” Britney said. “The higher our chances of winning!”

“Then I’ll go alone.” Will offered.

“No, that’s alright.” Britney said, casting a nervous glance in Veronica’s direction. “I’ll be okay, I promise!”

“Okay…” Will begrudgedly nodded.

“I still don’t like this.” Ramona said.

“I’ll be careful,” Britney gave Ramona a quick hug. “Don’t worry. Now let’s go, before Digit and Brad get here!”

The Populars all eventually dispersed. Bree and Ramona went down one hallway, Veronica and Will down another, and Britney skipped happily down a third by herself.

***

“I know Gavin didn’t trust Britney,” Bree said in the confessional. “But what does she stand to gain by going at the challenge alone? You know, other than the fact that she doesn’t have to deal with Veronica and Will all day.”

***

“I meant what I said before.” Britney said in the confessional. “We seriously need to start winning challenges. And I’m seriously starting to doubt the rest of my teammates’ abilities. So, it’s time to see what I can with no one else around. Plus, if I do end up sucking at this challenge and we lose because of me, it’s not like any of the others would know.”

***

Dominic and Ally were searching for eggs closer to the entrance of the building.

“What kind of eggs are we even looking for?” Ally wondered. “Like, are they big eggs or little tiny eggs?”

“Well, this is an alien movie challenge.” Dominic said. “I’m guessing big.”

“When do you think Digit and Brad are gonna start looking for us?” Ally asked.

Almost as if on cue, the faint sound of the co-hosts bickering echoed down the hallway Ally and Dominic were standing in.

“I think our ten-minute head start is up.” Dominic said. “And I think they’re headed this way!”

“What was that?” Brad’s voice echoed down the hall.

“Here!” Ally hurriedly whispered.

Ally grabbed Dominic’s hand and opened a door on the wall of the hallway, pulling both of them inside. She gently closed the door, careful not to make any noise, plunging them into almost total darkness.

“Hold on,” Dominic whispered. “I got just the thing.”

Dominic shuffled through his pockets and eventually pulled something out. After a snapping noise, a faint green glow came from Dominic’s hand.

“Is that a glowstick?” Ally asked.

“You never know when prop comedy duties may call.” Dominic said with a wink.

The two were pressed extremely close together and the faint light of the glowstick showed that whatever closet they had stumbled into was very small and tight.

“I kinda thought the door would lead to another room or something.” Ally blushed.

“It’s alright,” Dominic said. “We’ll just wait it out until they leave.”

“The matching hats are good.” Brad’s voice passed by outside. “But I really think full alien costumes would’ve been the best.”

“And where would we have gotten matching alien costumes?” Digit asked.

“I don’t know.” Brad said. “Maybe the same place we found a clown costume.”

“You made that decision all by yourself!” Digit laughed.

The two’s banter slowly faded down the hallway.

“Alright, I think we’re good.” Dominic said, reaching for the door. “Um… Ally?”

“Yeah?”

“There’s no door handle.” Dominic shined the glowstick over the door and confirmed that it was completely flat.

“Why would there only be a handle on one side?” Ally said. “That completely ruins the purpose of doors!”

“Man, we are having no luck with doors lately.” Dominic sighed.

“Do you think if we scream, Digit and Brad will come back and let us out?” Ally asked.

“The challenge just started,” Dominic said. “We can’t quit yet!”

“Then how are we gonna get out of here?”

Dominic used his glowstick to look around, stopping at a vent bolted to the ceiling.

“Okay, that could work.” Ally nodded. “Give me a boost.”

It was an awkward arrangement, given how tight the closet was, but Dominic did manage to lift Ally high enough to remove the vent from the ceiling.

“Ladies first?” Dominic offered Ally the glowstick.

“Um, Dom,” Ally blushed. “I’m kinda wearing a skirt…”

“Right!” Dominic’s cheeks turned red as he put Ally down. “Sorry, I’ll go first.”

Ally giggled as Dominic awkwardly hoisted himself up into the air vent and she quickly followed.

***

“Dom’s always been super sweet to me.” Ally said in the confessional. “He makes me laugh and he was always there for me when things from my past came up. Now that that’s over and done with, maybe I could like as a little more than a friend…”

***

Nearby, Quinn, Casey, and Garret were searching for eggs in a large room. The door they had entered from led back into the hallway, while the exit door led out onto a steel walkway.

“There’s a lot of buttons in here.” Casey observed, almost stepping on one on the floor near the opening to the walkway.

“If only there were eggs.” Quinn said as she peered behind a metal structure and found nothing.

“Don’t speak too soon.” Casey said, opening a latch on the same metal structure and revealing one large egg inside.

“Nice!” Quinn said as she grabbed the egg and placed it in her lap.

Garret stared blankly at a similar structure on the other side of the room.

“Gar?”

“Huh?” Garret jumped and turned around.

“Are you okay?” Casey asked.

“Oh, yeah,” Garret said. “I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?” Quinn asked.

“No…” Garret sighed.

“Aw, Gar, I know you’re sad about your brother’s elimination,” Quinn said. “But maybe there’s a bright side to all this!”

“Yeah,” Casey agreed. “Don’t you ever get tired of living in your brother’s shadow?”

“No,” Garret shook his head. “I liked it there! No one payed attention to me there unless they had to.”

“Hey, we pay attention to you.” Quinn said.

“Yeah, but you guys are different.” Garret said. “Plus, we were put on the same team, you kinda had to. At least in the beginning.”

“He’s got a point.” Casey whispered to Quinn.

“Not helping.” Quinn whispered back before continuing to talk at a normal volume. “Well, don’t you want to find out who on the other team voted him off? Maybe avenge him or something?”

“Revenge.” Casey nodded. “Nice.”

“I don’t think I’m cut out for revenge.” Garret frowned.

“Man, I’m 0 for 2 with my revenge suggestions lately.” Quinn muttered.

“0 for 2?” Casey raised an eyebrow. “Who was the first?”

“All you need to know is that I almost had her convinced,” Quinn said. “And that you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Well, Gar, even if you don’t think you’re cut out for revenge,” Casey said. “Clearly Quinn thinks she is-”

“And Casey would totally help too.” Quinn lightly elbowed him in the side.

“Thanks, guys,” Garret blushed. “Really, it means a lot.”

“Aw, how sweet.”

The three turned and saw Digit standing in the doorway, holding a hand over her heart. The other hand held a paintball gun.

“Run!” Casey shouted.

Garret and Quinn hurried through the other doorway and onto the steel walkway. The walkway was too narrow for people to stand side by side, but just wide enough to hold Quinn’s wheelchair. Casey stood in front of the doorway in the room, blocking Digit’s line of sight of the others.

“You can’t get them if you can’t get past me.” Casey said, glaring at Digit.

“And I thought chivalry was dead,” Digit chuckled as she raised her paintball gun. “But you can’t stop me by yourself.”

“Yeah,” Casey sighed. “But apparently I’m stupid enough to try.”

“Casey!” Quinn called out from the walkway.

Casey stepped on the button on the floor and both doors slammed shut.

“Should we wait for him?” Garret asked Quinn once they made it to the end of the walkway.

“Something tells me the next time we see him, he’s gonna be covered in paint.” Quinn said, casting a final glance at the door. “Come on.”

The two continued on as fast as they could, Quinn still holding their one egg in her lap.

Meanwhile, Britney had also noticed the various buttons throughout the building. She was currently inspecting a panel of three buttons right next to another opening. She pressed the top one and the lights in the room turned off. She pressed it again and the lights turned back on.

“Good to know.” Britney muttered to herself.

Britney pressed the second button and seemingly nothing happened.

“That’s strange…”

Suddenly, she heard screaming in the air vents above her. She quickly pressed the button again.

“Sorry!” Britney called out.

“It’s okay!” Ally’s voice responded.

Britney’s face furrowed in confusion as she listened to the sounds of people crawling through the air ducts slowly fade.

“I don’t even want to know.” Britney shrugged.

Finally, she pressed the last button on the panel. The door right in front of her slammed shut.

“That could be useful.” Britney smiled to herself.

Britney pressed the third button again and screamed once the door reopened, seeing two figures now standing on the other side.

“Relax, Brit,” Will said. “It’s just us.”

“Oh,” Britney let out a breath of relief as Will and Veronica entered the room. “Hey, guys! Did you find any eggs?”

“Not yet.” Veronica sighed. “Did you?”

“Yeah!” Britney pointed to the corner of the room. “I found two!”

“Nice work, Brit!” Will gave her a high-five.

Veronica rolled her eyes. “Where did you even find those?”

“Um, this building.” Britney said. “They’re hidden everywhere here, that’s kinda the point.”

Britney walked over to the corner and lifted her two large eggs, cradling each one in her arms.

“Have you run into Digit or Brad yet?” Will asked.

“Not yet.” Britney said.

“I hear voices!”

“Well, never mind.” Britney sighed.

Brad’s footsteps echoed down the hall as he ran towards the room the group was in.

“Here.” Britney tossed both her eggs to Veronica, who almost dropped them. “Get behind me.”

“Brit, are you sure?” Will asked.

“Trust me.” Britney winked.

“Aha!” Brad appeared in the far doorway of the room.

“Hit me with your best shot!” Britney taunted as Will and Veronica ducked behind the opposite doorway.

“Okay.” Brad shrugged and raised his paintball gun.

Almost in slow-motion, Britney received an onslaught of paintballs to the chest.

“You’re out.” Brad chuckled a little as he lowered his gun.

“Is that all you got?” Britney glared at the co-host, clutching her paint covered chest.

“Oh,” Brad raised his paintball gun again. “I guess not.”

“What is she doing?” Will whispered to Veronica.

Another slow-motion firing of paintballs struck Britney, each one making her recoil in pain as if she were in an action movie.

“She’s trying to get Brad to waste all his ammo.” Veronica gasped, a smile coming to her face. “Not bad, Brit.”

Finally, the paintballs stopped. Brad pulled the trigger again, but all that came was a clicking sound.

“Oh, I guess I gotta reload.” Brad shrugged. “Later, Britney!”

Brad waved before turning around and casually leaving the way he came.

“Dumb blonde…” Britney muttered to herself before stumbling backwards.

“Brit!” Will ran over and caught Britney just as she started to collapse.

“Will,” Britney said weakly, still holding her paint covered chest. “Tell the others… I love them…” She let out weak cough. “Except Veronica…”

“It’s paint, Britney.” Veronica rolled her eyes. “You’re not dying.”

“Well, getting shot by a paintball gun multiple times at close range still hurts a lot, Veronica!” Britney glared at her.

“Are you gonna be okay?” Will asked as he gently placed Britney on the ground and leaned her against the wall.

“Yeah, I’ll hobble out of here eventually.” Britney sighed and looked down at her now lime green shirt. “I really hope this doesn’t stain…”

“Didn’t you pack, like, seven yellow tube tops?” Veronica asked.

“Yeah,” Britney frowned. “And now I’m down to six.”

“We’ll get you a new yellow tube top when this is all over.” Will said.

“We will?” Veronica raised an eyebrow.

“Come on,” Will took one of the eggs from Veronica and the two continued on.

Britney sat alone in the room, still looking down at her shirt.

“This is totally gonna stain…”

Will and Veronica kept walking down another hallway, each of them now holding an egg.

“How did she even find these so fast?” Veronica wondered aloud.

“Maybe she found a nest.” Will shrugged.

“There’s something off about her.” Veronica said.

“Maybe, but she did just save our asses.” Will said. “And you didn’t have to try and stop her from going off alone.”

“What are you getting at?” Veronica asked.

“That you’re nicer than you let on.” Will said.

“I didn’t want Britney to go alone because she’s a liability at best.” Veronica rolled her eyes. “Name one other time I’ve been nice.”

“Last night.” Will said. “To me after Gavin’s elimination.”

“Well, you clearly needed the help.” Veronica said, avoiding his gaze.

“Sure,” Will chuckled a little. “I just wanted to tell you I appreciate it.”

“Whatever.” Veronica held her egg even tighter.

***

“For the record, I was not trying to help Will because I was being nice.” Veronica said in the confessional. “I was just… He’s one of the only useful ones left! If he loses it, we’re done.” She paused and then sighed. “I may also be a little curious about why he voted off Natalia instead of me…”

***

In another part of the building, Lyla and Jesse were searching for eggs in a more precarious room. They were carefully maneuvering their way over a series of thin walkways that hung over a gaping hole in the floor.

“This is just like a real alien movie set!” Jesse said as he skipped from one walkway to another.

“Yeah,” Lyla chuckled nervously as she peered down into the dark hole beneath them. “This is great.”

“Don’t worry, we’re almost at the end.” Jesse pointed at a much more stable walkway nearby.

“Good.” Lyla said, carefully stepping onto another ledge and holding her arms out to balance herself.

Jesse made it safely to the wide walkway at the end. Lyla grabbed a stray wire hanging from the ceiling to steady herself as she made the final leap…

And screamed as the wire broke and she started to slip off the platform.

“Ly!”

Jesse reached out and grabbed Lyla before she could fall and pulled her onto the safe walkway.

“Thanks,” Lyla blushed.

“The wires always break in alien movies.” Jesse shrugged.

“I didn’t know you knew so much about alien movies.” Lyla said.

“Well, I don’t usually have anything better to do than to watch movies.” Jesse blushed now too. “Besides, I couldn’t just let you fall.”

“My hero,” Lyla leaned in and kissed him.

Their kiss was cut short by a flurry of paintballs being shot at them from across the room. Brad stood on the other end of the gaping hole in the floor, holding his paintball gun and smiling.

“Dude!” Lyla yelled as her and Jesse pulled apart, looking down at her now lime green shirt. “What the hell?!”

“I thought you said you liked alien movies!” Brad called to Jesse. “Kissing couples always get caught by the aliens!”

“He’s right.” Jesse frowned.

“It’s okay, Jess.” Lyla glared at Brad before leading Jesse out of the room.

Brad shrugged and peered into the hole below.

“Man, how did they even get across?” Brad wondered aloud.

Above him, Brad suddenly heard the faint sound of giggling coming from the air vents.

“Um,” Brad banged his paintball gun against the vent above him. “Hello?”

The giggling abruptly stopped.

“Sorry!” A high-pitched voice that was very clearly still Dominic responded. “Nobody’s home!”

“Oh, my mistake.” Brad said. “Hey, wait a second!”

Before Brad could further investigate, the sounds of people crawling through the vents moved over the large hole in the floor.

“That was strange…” Brad muttered to himself. “Oh well.” He shrugged and walked back out of the room.

Bree and Ramona watched Brad leave the way he came from their hiding spot in an alcove of the hallway.

“Idiot.” Bree rolled her eyes once he was gone.

Ramona giggled as she helped Bree up.

“I feel bad for Lyla and Jesse,” Ramona said. “But at least now they can’t collect any eggs along the way.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think we’d end up tailing them for as long as we did.” Bree said. “I’m surprised Lyla didn’t notice us. Jesse, not so much.”

The two entered the next room and saw all of the narrow platforms scattered haphazardly throughout. They both leaned over the edge and looked down into the large hole.

“Damn, good thing they made it to the other side before getting caught.” Bree said. “I’d hate to fall all the way down there.” She shuddered a little at the thought.

“Wait, I think I see something down there.” Ramona knelt down and squinted into the hole below. “I think there’s an egg down there!”

“Of course, there is.” Bree sighed.

“We can make it down there together,” Ramona said. “And I promise I won’t let you fall.”

“My hero,” Bree blushed as Ramona started using the scattered platforms to climb down into the hole.

Meanwhile, Garret and Quinn were still traveling together down another hallway. Their one egg was placed on Quinn’s lap.

“Do you think Casey was able to hold Digit off for long?” Garret asked.

“I’m not sure.” Quinn said. “If it were Brad, I’d say yes, but Digit’s a little more…”

“Smart?”

“I was gonna say strategic, maybe even sadistic,” Quinn chuckled. “But I can’t call Brad smart either.”

“What do you think ever happened to Chris anyway?” Garret asked.

“My guess,” Quinn said. “He’s hiding out in some fancy bunker on some other garbage island he owns.”

“Quinn,” Garret said. “Why did you sign up for the show?”

“I wanted to prove something.” Quinn shrugged. “Only problem is I still don’t know what.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I thought I wanted to prove that I can do things despite the wheelchair,” Quinn said. “And I have, kinda. But it still doesn’t feel like… enough.”

“Oh,”

“Yeah,” Quinn nodded. “You’re not the only one missing your sense of direction.”

“Why do you think Casey signed up?” Garret asked.

“Some uniquely Casey reason,” Quinn shrugged. “That he won’t tell either of us, because he’s Casey.”

Garret chuckled a little. “He did save us from Digit.”

“He did.” Quinn smiled. “It just always feels like he’s hiding something about himself.”

“I always wonder how he does it.” Garret admitted. “I mean, I’m practically an open book.”

“Well, not everyone overshares quite as well as you and me.” Quinn laughed.

“Aw, how sweet. Again.”

Garret and Quinn turned around and saw Digit standing behind them at the entrance of the hallway.

“Run!” Quinn shouted.

Quinn and Garret turned a corner just as Digit began firing. They entered a room with a traditional door and Quinn slammed it shut.

“What do we do?” Garret panickily asked.

“We keeping running!” Quinn said. “Or rolling, in my case… Whatever, let’s go!”

The two continued on as fast as they could. Behind them, they heard the door slam open as Digit chased after them. After a series of twists and turns, Garret and Quinn found themselves in front of…

“Stairs?!” Quinn exclaimed. “Are you kidding me?”

“There has to be another way.” Garret said.

Digit’s footsteps echoed closer and closer in the distance.

“There’s not enough time.” Quinn handed Garret the egg. “Go, I’ll take care of Digit.”

“Are you sure?” Garret asked.

“Gar, you got this.” Quinn smiled at him before turning around and heading back the way they came. “Hey, Digit! You want me? Come and get me!”

Garret watched Quinn disappear around a corner before running up the stairs.

***

“And now I’m all alone.” Garret sighed in the confessional. “Great…”

***

Garret kept running until he literally bumped into someone, almost dropping his egg.

“Sorry!”

Garret stopped to catch his breath and saw Britney standing in front of him, covered in green paint.

“We really do keep bumping into each other, don’t we?” Britney giggled.

“Yeah,” Garret blushed. “How come you’re all by yourself?”

“I could ask you the same question.” Britney said. “But my team is kinda falling apart.”

“How come?” Garret asked.

“Well,” Britney sighed. “Veronica’s bad at everything. Ramona’s great at everything, but easily distracted when Bree’s around. Bree’s useful sometimes, but mostly distracting. Will’s so distracted he can’t decide if he wants to be a good guy or a bad guy. And… why am I telling you all of this?”

“Oh, I don’t know, but you seemed like you really needed to vent.” Garret said. “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna use it against you or anything. Quinn and Casey are the ones you’d have to worry about, but they’re not really the use-y type either.”

“Noted. Thanks, Gar.” Britney smiled. “And I’m really really sorry about your brother.”

“Oh,” Garret frowned. “It’s okay.”

The two eventually entered another room. Britney noted that there was a similar panel of three buttons on the wall.

“So, what were you running from?” Britney asked.

“Digit.” Garret said. “I should probably still be running from her, shouldn’t I?”

“Yep.”

Garret and Britney both turned around and saw Digit standing at the end of the hallway they were just in.

“You really thought I wouldn’t find you?” Digit asked, getting her paintball gun ready.

“Oh no!” Garret held his egg tightly to his chest.

Britney looked on, conflicted, before finally sighing.

“The panel on the wall will shut the door if you hit the bottom button.”

“What?”

Digit started to run towards the door. Garret ran to the panel on the wall and quickly pressed the bottom button, slamming the door shut before Digit could run through.

“How’d you know that?” Garret asked Britney with wide eyes.

“Lucky guess, I guess.” Britney shrugged. “But don’t tell my teammates I helped you. Also, we should probably keep going before she opens that door.”

“Yeah, probably.” Garret nodded.

The two ran further down the next series of hallways before finally finding a room off the direct path they were on.

“You should probably be safe here for a bit.” Britney said.

“Thank you for helping me.” Garret blushed.

“Of course.” Britney winked. “What are friends for?”

“Brit,” Garret said. “Before when you were talking about all your teammates,”

“Yeah?”

“What about you?” Garret asked.

“What about me?” Britney asked.

“Well, you seemed to have a pretty good idea about how all of them are.” Garret said. “What about you?”

“Oh,” Britney absentmindedly started twirling her blonde hair around her finger. “I’m the dumb one.”

“No, you’re not.” Garret shook his head.

“You don’t think I’m dumb because I knew about the panel on the wall?” Britney asked.

“I never thought you were dumb.” Garret said. “Some people just have different strengths and different ways of showing them. I’m still trying to figure out mine, if I even have any…”

“Well, you’re very sweet.” Britney blushed. “That’s a strength.”

***

“So, Garret doesn’t think I’m dumb.” Britney said in the confessional. “Normally, that’d be a bad thing, but for once? I actually don’t mind.”

***

Lyla and Jesse were still wandering aimlessly through the building.

“Where do you think the finish line is?” Jesse asked

“No clue,” Lyla said. “But it feels like we’ve been walking forever.”

“Ly, look!” Jesse said as they walked into another room.

On top of a ledge was a nest of three eggs.

“One problem.” Lyla said. “We’re already out.”

“Man, if only some of our teammates that weren’t out were here.” Jesse sighed.

Suddenly, a piece of the air duct above them fell from the ceiling and crashed to the ground.

“Ow!”

Lyla raised an eyebrow and grabbed a leg that was sticking out of the end of the duct.

“Lyla, I’m wearing a skirt!” Ally did her best to pull her skirt back down as Lyla pulled her out of the duct by her legs.

“Hey, I’m not looking.” Lyla put a hand over her eyes. “Jesse’s not looking.”

“Huh?” Jesse was about to look over, but was distracted by a faint green glow coming out of the other end of the duct.

“Here, take a glowstick.” Dominic said as he reached his hand out to Jesse.

“Cool!” Jesse took the glowstick and was immediately too distracted to help Dominic.

Ally and Dominic groaned as they finished crawling out of the duct and stood up, Ally with the help of Lyla.

“Do I even want to know?” Lyla asked.

“Well, we got locked in a closet.” Ally explained.

“You and I are having the worst luck with doors lately.” Dominic said.

“We really are.” Ally nodded. “But our only way of escape was through the air vents.”

“And Digit and Brad weren’t exactly looking in the air vents for people.” Dominic added.

“So, it actually worked in our favor.” Ally said. “The only problem is that we haven’t found any eggs.”

“Well, we have.” Jesse said, pointing to glowstick up at the nest he had spotted.

“But we’re already out.” Lyla said.

“Maybe if you guys bump into Digit and Brad, you can use us as shields!” Jesse suggested.

“No offense, but I’d rather not get covered in any more paint than I already am.” Lyla said.

“No shields needed, Jess.” Dominic reached up and started grabbing the eggs. He tossed one to Ally and held the other two. “We got this.”

“I hope Casey, Quinn, and Garret are okay.” Ally said.

“I doubt Casey or Quinn got caught.” Lyla said.

“Well, you’re probably half right.”

The four looked and saw Casey standing in the doorway, covered in lime green paint.

“I heard a loud crash and figured it was you guys.” Casey said.

“Casey!” Dominic balanced both of his eggs into one arm so he could wrap the other around Casey’s shoulders. “What happened?”

“Digit found us.” Casey stated. “I held her off so the others could get away.”

“Aw!” Ally gushed.

Casey rolled his eyes, but still blushed a little.

“Do you know how to get out of here?” Lyla asked Casey.

“Yeah, it’s just a little further from here.” Casey said.

“Are there any rules against people that are out helping their teammates?” Jesse asked.

“If there are,” Casey said. “They should’ve told us sooner.”

“This is Digit and Brad we’re talking about.” Lyla said. “There are no rules.”

The five Freaks continued on, careful not to make too much noise.

Meanwhile, Bree and Ramona had successfully climbed to the bottom of the dark hole. Ramona grabbed the egg, which gave off a faint glow in the dark.

“Shoot, you didn’t just spot one egg,” Bree walked over to where Ramona was standing. “You found a nest!”

Bree grabbed a second egg.

“And it looks like there’s a tunnel down here too.” Ramona pointed towards a dimly lit tunnel.

“Good thing,” Bree said. “Because carrying these eggs all the way back up there does not sound fun.”

The two walked through the tunnel and found an elevator at the end.

“If only Will was here.” Bree joked.

Ramona laughed as the two got into the elevator. The elevator took them up to a large room with many platforms and ledges throughout.

“Look!” Ramona pointed at the end. “There’s the finish line!”

“Look!” A voice mocked Ramona. “There’s two contestants that aren’t covered in paintballs yet!”

Digit glared at the two from the opposite end of the room.

“Split up!” Bree yelled.

The two ran in opposite directions as Digit began to fire. Ramona took cover behind a nearby ledge and Bree jumped up onto a platform.

“Isn’t waiting for us at the finish line kinda unfair?”

Veronica stood at the entrance of the room with her hands behind her back.

“Isn’t two versus twelve kinda unfair?” Digit shot back.

“Fair point.” Veronica ran behind a nearby ledge and Digit followed.

While Digit was distracted by Veronica, Will ran straight across the room, carrying both their eggs like they were footballs. Ramona gave Will a thumbs up from her hiding spot after he crossed the finish line.

Veronica ran back around the other side of the ledge and raised both her hands above her head in surrender, revealing that she never had an egg.

“Green may be my color,” Veronica said. “But paint really isn’t my thing.”

“Well played.” Digit smirked.

Overhead, Bree ran across the platform and leaped to the next one. Digit turned her attention to Bree and opened fire above her to the platforms.

In the entryway, Jesse, Lyla, and Casey appeared to be forming a protective shield around something.

“Human shield time!” Jesse cheered before Lyla and Casey both shushed him.

“Human shield?” Digit turned to the three of them. “You can’t do that, you’re already out!”

“You never said we can’t!” Lyla and Casey said simultaneously.

“Whatever,” Digit rolled her eyes. “Can’t believe I’m getting outsmarted by a bunch of teenagers.”

“In your defense,” Bree said from above her. “We’re a lot of teenagers. Plus, you’re still way smarter than Brad.”

“Aw, thanks.” Digit smiled before continuing to shoot at Bree again.

“Ah!” One paintball nearly hit Bree, causing her to trip onto the platform. Her egg fell out of her hands and started rolling towards the edge…

Satisfied, Digit turned her attention back to the human shield.

“Who’s even behind you?” Digit asked.

“Not Ally and Dominic!” Jesse said confidently.

Digit rolled her eyes and raised her paintball gun at them.

“Scatter!” Lyla shouted.

All five of them ran in different directions, Ally and Dominic heading towards the finish line.

“Hey, human shield,” Digit said. “Do any of you know where Brad is?”

“I’m here!” Brad exclaimed as he appeared in the doorway.

“Great!” Digit said sarcastically. “Can you help?!”

“Oh, right!” Brad chased after Dominic while Digit pursued Ally.

Garret and Britney were the next ones to appear in the doorway.

“What the hell?” Britney said, taking in the chaos.

“I don’t see Quinn anywhere…” Garret said worriedly.

“Woah!” Britney said once she saw Will at the finish line. “My team’s winning?!”

“Congrats,” Garret chuckled a little.

“I found both of those eggs, you know.” Britney said.

Dominic dodged another paintball and successfully ran across the finish line, still holding his two eggs.

“Now we’re tied.” Garret said.

“Well, if you get your butt over there, then you’ll be winning.” Britney said. “If you’ll excuse me, I kinda have to act like I wasn’t hanging out with you for the past half an hour now.”

“Oh, that’s fair.” Garret said as Britney skipped away.

Digit was still chasing Ally around the room, but Brad finally noticed Garret standing in the open and started to run over.

“Oh, crap!” Garret ran and hid behind a ledge near the elevator shaft.

“Dude, I know where you are,” Brad said from the other side. “I literally watched you run away!”

Garret squeezed his eyes shut and braced himself… But all he heard was the sound of metal hitting something and a thud of someone hitting the floor.

Quinn rolled out of the elevator as fast as she could and seized Brad’s paintball gun while he was still disoriented. There wasn’t a single drop of paint on her body.

“Quinn!” Garret smiled. “I was worried Digit caught you.”

“Digit wishes she could outsmart me.” Quinn smirked as she pointed the paintball gun at Brad. “You go ahead, I got this.”

“Now let’s just calm down, Quinn.” Brad raised both his hands in surrender.

Garret ran off, clutching his egg tight. Digit, still struggling to keep up with Ally as the rest of the Freaks distracted her, didn’t notice Garret as he ran across the finish line.

“Nice going, Gar!” Dominic gave him a high-five.

“Thanks,” Garret blushed.

Britney, who was now standing next to Will and Veronica, giggled and winked at Garret. Somehow, Garret blushed even harder.

Ally ran behind another ledge near the finish line and was startled to see Ramona crouched there as well.

“Digit’s chasing me,” Ally quickly explained as she ran past. “Sorry, Ramona!”

Ramona’s eyes went wide as Digit turned the corner and saw her. This was enough distraction for Ally to successfully cross the finish line with her egg.

“Drop the egg.” Digit glared at Ramona.

“Not a chance.” Ramona glared back.

Bree watched from the platform she was on as Digit began to raise her paintball gun. Bree’s egg was still rolling towards the edge of the platform on the opposite side.

“Oh, screw it.” Bree sighed.

Bree leaped off the platform, landing right in between Digit and Ramona. She tackled Ramona just as Digit opened fire, pushing both of them just over the finish line.

Ramona’s egg remained unscathed between them, but Bree’s fell off the platform and broke into a yoke-y mess as soon as it touched the floor.

“Thanks, Bree,” Ramona blushed as Bree got off of her.

“I owed you one after the bungee jumping catastrophe.” Bree said as she helped Ramona up. “Plus, every other time you’ve been awesome.”

“Is everyone accounted for?” Digit asked.

“Hey, would you quit pointing that at me?!”

Brad walked backwards towards the finish with his hands still raised in surrender. Casey pushed Quinn’s wheelchair, following him while Quinn kept the paintball gun pointed at him.

“Quinn,” Digit sighed, pointing her own paintball gun at her. “Game’s over, drop it.”

“And what if I don’t?” Quinn pointed the paintball gun at Digit.

“Light ‘em up, Quinn!” Dominic cheered.

“Shoot me if you want,” Digit smirked. “But I bet you ten bucks Brad’s out of ammo.”

Quinn pulled the trigger and all that came was a clicking noise.

“Seriously?” Quinn disappointedly tossed the gun back to Brad as her and Casey joined the rest of their team.

“Don’t be too disappointed,” Digit said. “Because Freaks, you guys won the challenge.”

“By one egg!” Brad added.

“Just like the scavenger hunt!” Jesse gasped.

“Populars, you came surprisingly close,” Digit continued. “But I’ll still be seeing you all at the campfire tonight.”

The Populars all groaned while the Freaks cheered.

“Hey,” Ramona nudged Veronica on their way out. “Thanks for distracting Digit before.”

“Oh,” Veronica blinked. “You’re welcome?”

***

“I wasn’t being nice!” Veronica said in the confessional. “I was gonna distract Digit so Will could run by anyway.” She folded her arms. “I wasn’t being nice!!”

***

Once everyone had returned to the cabin area, Digit pressed a button on her remote control and the large building disappeared into the ground. Rising in its place was the forest of trees that had always been there before.

“The trees are back!” Jesse cheered.

“Yeah, they are.” Lyla smiled at him.

The Freaks all went back to their cabin while the Populars scattered throughout the clearing. Bree and Ramona were laying in the grass together, Bree’s head resting on Ramona’s stomach.

“This kinda reminds me of our first day here.” Ramona said.

“Oh yeah,” Bree smiled at the memory. “How I wish I could go back to a time where I didn’t know just how nuts Britney was.”

Ramona laughed, but as another thought came, her laughter faded.

“What’s wrong?” Bree asked.

“Natalia was here with us too that first day.” Ramona said.

“Sh*t, I never told you what happened that night.” Bree said.

“It’s okay, Bree.” Ramona said. “It doesn’t really matter now.”

“Yes, it does.” Bree said. “Trust me, it does. Remind me to tell you all that after tonight’s elimination?”

“Sure.” Ramona nodded. “I just didn’t think I’d miss Nat as much as I do.”

“Yeah, she had her faults, but most of the time she was pretty bad ass.” Bree said. “Plus, at least we won some challenges when she was around.”

“We really do need to break our losing streak.” Ramona sighed.

“Well, soon enough we won’t even be a team anymore.” Bree said. “We’re gonna be down to four people after tonight. Merge has to be coming soon.”

“Can I tell you a secret?” Ramona asked.

“Of course.” Bree giggled.

“I never thought I’d make it to merge.” Ramona admitted.

“You’re joking, right?”

“No,” Ramona blushed. “I signed up for this show because I knew how to work with a team, like in soccer. I never really thought about what I’d do once I wasn’t on a team anymore.”

“Sorry you got stuck with such a sucky team.” Bree said.

“I think there were more good parts than bad.” Ramona said. “I mean, I met you and Gavin. Looking back, everyone we voted off was pretty nice in their own way too.”

“Even Floyd and Clifford?” Bree raised an eyebrow.

“Yes, even them!” Ramona said. “Clifford was a sweetheart and Floyd… Well, I’m sure he had some good in him deep down.”

“I would take either of them over Veronica right now.” Bree said.

“She kinda helped us during today’s challenge though.” Ramona said.

“Yeah, probably because winning would’ve helped herself.” Bree said. “Besides, she’s gonna try and stab one of us in the back tonight anyway.”

“Maybe,” Ramona shrugged.

A shadow fell over them as another figure approached.

“What do you want?” Bree glared up at Will.

“I just wanted to apologize.” Will said.

“Oh, really?”

“Bree,” Ramona said. “Let’s hear him out.”

“Fine.” Bree rolled her eyes.

“I’m sorry I voted off Gavin.” Will said. “I was out of line and he didn’t deserve to go.”

“Is that all you’re sorry about?” Bree sat up and glared at him.

“And I’m sorry I blamed him for Natalia’s elimination.” Will sighed. “The only person I have to blame for that is myself.”

“Damn right.” Bree said. “Now how are you gonna prove you’re really sorry?”

“Whoever you guys vote for tonight, I’ll vote for too.” Will said.

“And what if we were voting for you?” Bree asked.

“Then I guess I won’t stop you.” Will said.

Bree looked to Ramona.

“You guys kinda lost me halfway through all that,” Ramona said. “But he seems genuine.”

Bree looked back up at Will. “Vote for Veronica. Maybe we’ll vote for her instead of you.”

“Alright,” Will sighed.

Bree and Ramona both got up to head back to the cabins. Once Bree had started to walk off, Ramona turned back to Will.

“I don’t think we’re voting for you.” Ramona said. “At least I hope we’re not.”

“Thanks, Ramona.” Will smiled.

***

“I know Will voted off Gavin, but so did basically everyone else on our team.” Ramona said in the confessional. “And I know he had something to do with Natalia’s elimination, but I still don’t know what. So, until proven otherwise, I still think Will’s a good guy. A little misguided sometimes, but good.”

***

Meanwhile, Veronica and Britney were talking in their cabin.

“Britney, I know you and I haven’t always seen eye to eye.” Veronica said.

“Really?” Britney said sarcastically. “What makes you say that?”

“Whatever.” Veronica rolled her eyes. “Do you want to make it to merge or not?”

“Well, duh.” Britney said. “Didn’t we already have this conversation last time?”

“Yeah and we lost again.” Veronica said. “So we’re having it again.”

“What’s your bright idea this time?” Britney asked.

“Well, since you did such a good job listening to me last time,” Veronica said sarcastically. “I thought maybe you could take the lead.”

“And who are we trying to get rid of?” Britney asked.

“We’re gonna be severely outnumbered in challenges no matter who we vote off.” Veronica said. “There’s no point in voting off people who screwed up today’s challenge.”

“Plus, no one really messed up that badly.” Britney said. “Even you were useful for once.”

“Ignoring that.” Veronica said. “I think you and I can agree that the smartest move is to vote off the person who’d be the biggest threat come merge.”

“And that person is?”

“I think you know that already.” Veronica smirked. “Our only problem is that Will’s a wild card and Bree and Ramona would never split their votes.”

“That’s two problems.” Britney said. “And don’t be so sure… I can talk to Bree.”

“And who’s talking to Ramona?” Veronica asked.

“You.” Britney said. “Because for some reason she still believes you’re a good person, bless her soul.”

“And Will?”

“Let Will be a wild card.” Britney said. “If my talk with Bree goes well, then we won’t have to worry about him.”

“So, what am I telling Ramona?” Veronica asked.

“You’re telling her to vote for me.” Britney said. “And I’m asking Bree who Will’s voting for. If he’s voting for you, I’ll tell Bree to vote for him.”

“And if he’s voting for you?” Veronica raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think you’d want to be caught in a tiebreaker.”

“Then I’ll get creative.” Britney shrugged. “Beg Bree to change his mind, maybe beg Will to change his mind. I am a people person after all.”

“Britney, what is your deal?” Veronica asked. “When you got here, you barely knew your right from your left, and now you’re a strategic mastermind?”

“Oh, Veronica,” Britney giggled and twirled her blonde hair around her finger. “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I do still mix up my left and my right sometimes.” She held up both her hands in the shape of Ls to prove it.

“Whatever.” Veronica sighed. “This plan better work.”

Just as the two were about to leave, Bree and Ramona walked into the cabin.

“Bree!” Britney pulled Bree inside and then shoved Veronica outside with Ramona. “There’s something I really really need to talk to you about!”

“Hey, Ramona,” Veronica said awkwardly as she closed the door to the cabin. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

“Um, sure?” Bree and Ramona each said, one inside the cabin, and the other outside.

Later, once the sun had set on the island, a few of the Freaks were scattered outside their cabin. Garret stood by himself, leaning against the railing.

“Psst,” A voice said below him.

Garret looked up for the source.

“Down here, Gar,”

Garret looked down and saw Bree.

“Oh, hi,” Garret waved.

“Did you think I was just gonna stop talking to you now that Gavin’s gone?” Bree joked.

“Honestly, yeah.” Garret said.

“There’s actually something I wanted to talk to you about.” Bree said.

“What?” Garret asked.

“I saw you and Britney come into that last room together.” Bree said. “And I know you two have been talking before that.”

“Oh, it’s not like that.” Garret immediately blushed. “I just bumped into her by accident, it’s not-”

“Hey, you’re not in trouble.” Bree said. “I know you’re not going rogue or anything.”

“So what did you want to talk to me about?” Garret asked.

“I’m not saying I don’t trust your judgement,” Bree said. “But just so you know, Britney voted for your brother last night.”

“I know.” Garret frowned. “I figured you and Ramona didn’t vote for Gavin. Do you know why she voted for him?”

“No clue.” Bree said. “That girl’s been a mystery lately. She just finished roping me and Ramona into some kind of plan for tonight’s elimination.”

“And you trust her?” Garret asked.

“More or less.” Bree shrugged.

“Are you doing okay?” Garret asked. “I’m only asking because I was a bit of a wreck today and I know you and Gav were pretty close.”

“I’ll be alright,” Bree smiled. “Assuming I survive tonight’s elimination.”

“I hope you do.” Garret said.

“Thanks, Gar,” Bree said before walking towards the campfire.

Garret turned and saw Quinn and Casey coming up the ramp.

“Everything alright?” Quinn asked Garret.

“Yeah,” Garret said. “She was just checking in.”

“That’s nice.” Casey said.

“Bree’s cool,” Garret said. “She kinda reminds me of my brother.”

Quinn silently went “aw” as Garret went back inside the cabin. Casey lightly rolled his eyes at her, but still smiled.

Eventually the Populars had all gathered around the campfire.

“Welcome back, Populars,” Digit said. “You guys should be pros at this by now, so go and vote.”

***

“I really do think there’s more to you than you’re letting on,” Will said as he cast his vote. “But I need to make some amends first.”

***

“Consider this karma.” Bree said as she cast her vote.

***

“This feels wrong, but Veronica was right,” Ramona said as she cast her vote. “You’re hiding something.”

***

“Wow, that was quick!” Brad said once all of the Populars were back. “Probably because there’s only five of you.”

“Soon to be four.” Digit said. “How am I even supposed to build suspense? I say one name and then there’s practically no one left!”

“Just tell us!” The Populars all shouted.

“Alright, fine.” Digit said. “First marshmallow surprisingly goes to Veronica.”

Veronica smirked as she caught her marshmallow.

“Ramona, you’re safe too.” Brad tossed a marshmallow to her.

“And so is…” Digit held a long pause. The others leaned in expectantly. “Britney.”

Britney let out a silent breath of relief as she caught her marshmallow.

“Bree and Will,” Brad said. “Not exactly who I was expecting to be in the bottom two, but hey, when do your team’s votes ever make sense?”

“And the final marshmallow goes to…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“Will,” Digit tossed him the final marshmallow. “Sorry, Bree. Time to take your poms poms back home.”

“What?!” Ramona exclaimed.

“I thought you said to vote for Veronica?” Will said, equally shocked.

“I did.” Bree put her head in her hands. “Ramona, who did Veronica actually tell you to vote for?”

“Britney…” Ramona said.

Bree stood up and glared at the blonde. “Gavin was right about you, you lying b*tch.”

“Nothing personal?” Britney nervously laughed.

“You told me the plan was to vote for him.” Bree pointed at Will. “And that Veronica was telling Ramona the same thing.”

“Whoops,” Britney shrugged. “I guess I got a little confused.”

“I guess you did.” Bree glared at her again before turning to Ramona.

“This isn’t right.” Ramona shook her head, her eyes filling with tears.

“Hey,” Bree gently took Ramona’s face in her hands. “It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not.” Ramona said. “I can fix this.”

“You don’t have to.” Bree said. “Just promise me you’ll keep going?”

“Okay,” Ramona sniffled. “I promise.”

“Good.” Bree kissed her one last time before turning to Will.

“Bree, I’m sorry-”

“Save your apologies.” Bree said to Will. “Seriously, it’s getting annoying. You really want to start making things right?”

Will nodded.

“Make sure she gets to merge.” Bree motioned to Ramona.

“Well, Bree,” Brad said. “Your canoe is waiting.”

“I’ll tell Gavin you all said hi.” Bree joked as she walked down the dock. “I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.”

Bree blew a kiss to Ramona before getting into the canoe and rowing away.

***

“They almost make this too easy.” Britney said in the confessional. “Going into merge, Bree would’ve had Ramona’s vote guaranteed. Plus, she was already friendly with a few of the Freaks. Particularly the one I’m friendly with…”

***

“And if Ramona really does still trust me,” Veronica said in the confessional. “Then I don’t think Bree ever got the chance to tell her what I did the night Natalia got the boot. How unfortunate.” She said with a straight face. “See? I’m not nice!”

***

Quinn and Casey watched the Populars as they trudged back to their cabin.

“Can you tell who they voted off?” Quinn asked.

Casey squinted at the group, trying to make out their faces in the dark. Once he got a good look at them, his eyes went wide.

“What is it?” Quinn asked.

“Remember how Garret was saying he liked Bree because she reminded him of his brother?” Casey asked.

“Yeah.” Quinn said.

“Well…”

“Are you kidding me?!” Quinn said. “Poor Garret can’t catch a break.”

“Well, he might’ve caught one break.” Casey said. “A blonde break, to be specific.”

“Excuse me?”

Casey pointed to Britney, who was playing with her hair and avoiding eye contact with her teammates as she walked.

“You’re joking, right?” Quinn said.

“You haven’t noticed the two of them talking more and more?” Casey asked.

“Casey, I know I can keep up with you sometimes,” Quinn said. “But no one notices as much as you do.”

“Thanks,” Casey said. “I think.”

“You’re welcome.” Quinn smiled. “Now if you’ll excuse, I’m going to bed.”

“Does that mean I have to tell Garret his other friend got eliminated?” Casey asked.

“Good luck!” Quinn said before going back into the cabin.

Lyla and Jesse were the next to walk up the steps of the cabin.

“So,” Lyla stood next to Casey and nudged him a little. “What were you two talking about?”

“Nothing.” Casey rolled his eyes.

“Are you sure about that?” Lyla smirked.

“I’m confused.” Jesse said.

Casey couldn’t hold in his laugh.

“Don’t worry about it, Jess.” Lyla said.

“Okay!” Jesse said happily before going back into the cabin.

“You mean you didn’t immediately tell your boyfriend what you read in my journal after you read it?” Casey asked.

“No,” Lyla said. “That’s your private business. Besides, I don’t think you told him about any of my sappy love songs.”

“Not yet.” Casey said.

“Shut up,” Lyla lightly shoved him.

“Hey gang,” Dominic said as he hopped up onto the railing next to Casey. “What are we talking about?”

“Nothing.” Casey said.

“Ah, so we’re talking about your very obvious crush on Quinn?” Dominic said.

“You too?” Casey said. “Seriously?”

“Casey, I have eyes.” Dominic laughed.

“I do not have a crush on her.” Casey stated.

“Mmhhmm,” Dominic said, unconvinced.

“I don’t!” Casey said. “We’re just friends.”

“Just like me and Jesse were.” Lyla said with a smirk.

Casey rolled his eyes. “You’re one to talk.” He said to Dominic.

“You’re absolutely right.” Dominic said, suddenly very serious. “Casey… I’m in love with you-”

“Shut up!” Casey lightly shoved him, almost knocking Dominic off the railing.

“Woah!” Dominic steadied himself. “It was just a joke!”

“He does have a point though.” Lyla said. “When are you gonna tell Ally you like her?”

“I don’t know,” Dominic blushed. “She’s kinda gone through a lot lately! Every time just feels like a bad time…”

“I think asking her out while you were crawling through the air ducts together would’ve been a great time, actually.” Casey said.

“See?” Dominic lightly shoved him back. “You got a sense of humor in there.”

“I know we’ve been on a winning streak lately,” Lyla said. “But we’re not gonna be a team for much longer. Seriously, say what you want to say before one of you is gone.”

“When did you become the put together one?” Casey asked.

“I have no idea.” Lyla said. “Actually, yeah I do. Peter gave me advice and I listened.”

“Didn’t he tell you something about showing your feelings before he left?” Dominic nudged Casey.

“Yeah,” Casey sighed. “Something like that.”

***

“Don’t be afraid to let other people see how much you care.” Casey said in the confessional. “That’s what Peter told me, and I know he’s right, but… It’s easier said than done.” He held his journal close to his chest.

***

“Well, I’m going to bed.” Casey said.

“Goodnight, buddy,” Dominic reached a hand out and ruffled Casey’s hair as he walked into the cabin.

“Dom,” Lyla said. “You don’t actually have a crush on him, right?”

“Casey? Nah,” Dominic said. “He’s just really fun to mess with.”

“Yeah,” Lyla smiled and nodded.

In the mess hall, Digit and Brad were tossing their paintball guns in a supply closet.

“Man, I feel like we should be concerned Chef keeps those in the kitchen.” Brad said.

“I feel like he’s done far more concerning things.” Digit said.

“Fair point,” Brad shrugged. “Anyway! Will Ramona be able to recover after losing her girlfriend and her best friend back to back?”

“Ouch.” Digit winced. “Will the Freaks be able to keep their winning streak alive and dwindle the Populars down to a measly three?”

“And will both teams survive their last challenge as a team?” Brad said, waving his hands for extra dramatic effect.

“Find out next time on Camp…”

“Total…”

“Drama!”

Chapter 11: There's No I in Reward

“Last time on Camp Total Drama,” Digit said, sitting on one of the tables in the mess hall. “Our contestants lived out an alien movie, some more enthusiastically than others. After searching a warehouse building for alien eggs-”

“While being hunted by us!” Brad added. “With paintball guns!”

“The Freaks managed to win their third challenge in a row.” Digit continued. “And after the stupidest elimination ceremony yet-.”

“I thought Gavin’s elimination didn’t make sense,” Brad interrupted again. “But this one was a real doozy.”

“Somehow Veronica and Britney convinced all three of their other teammates to vote for different people.” Digit rolled her eyes. “So, with a grand total of two votes against her, Bree got sent home.”

“And Ramona was really sad!” Brad said.

“And Ramona was really sad.” Digit nodded. “But there’s also a few romances brewing within the Freaks and potentially a new forbidden romance between a certain twin and a certain blonde.”

“Well, it won’t be forbidden for long.” Brad said. “They’re only gonna be teams for a few more hours.”

“Yeah, but we take the star-crossed lovers trope when we can.” Digit said before looking down at her watch. “Shoot! I still need to find a challenge for today.”

“Actually,” Brad slid beside her, pulling a file out from behind his back. “I think I got that covered.”

“You do?” Digit took the file and quickly scanned it. “Brad, this isn’t really the most exciting challenge.”

“The challenge isn’t the exciting part.” Brad said before leaning in and whispering something into Digit’s ear.

“Oh,” Digit said. “Oh! Brad, that’s genius!”

“I know.” Brad smiled confidently.

“Alright, don’t get cocky.” Digit rolled her eyes. “I’ll work out the details with that and find some deeper meaning to explain to the contestants why the challenge is so weak.”

“It’s not that bad.” Brad said. “It’s a two-parter!”

“That’s true.” Digit nodded. “Not bad at all, Brad.”

***

“You know, everyone else gets to talk about their feelings in here,” Brad said in the confessional. “Maybe I want to talk about my feelings for a change.”

“Um, Brad?” Digit’s voice came from outside the confessional.

“Yes?”

“You know how we can watch the other contestants’ confessionals at any time?” Digit said. “That means I can also watch your confessionals too. At any given time.”

Brad turned to the camera. “There’s just no privacy on this island-”

“What were you even gonna talk about?” Digit asked.

“Well, Digit,” Brad said. “I was gonna talk about how I’m surprised at how well we work together.”

“Yeah, okay.” Digit said sarcastically, audibly laughing. “I’m gonna go work on the challenge now, you take your time.”

Brad waited for Digit’s laughter to fade before turning back to the camera. “That really is what I was gonna say though!”

***

In the early hours of the morning, Ramona was one of the first contestants to wake up. She glanced at Britney and Veronica, still asleep in their beds, before quietly going outside and perching on the railing of the cabin.

“You alright?” Will asked Ramona as he walked out of the guys’ side of the cabin.

“Yeah,” Ramona said.

“Really?” Will raised an eyebrow.

“No,” Ramona sighed. “I just feel so stupid.”

“Ramona, what happened isn’t your fault-”

“How is it not?” Ramona said. “I should’ve talked to Bree again before the elimination ceremony. I shouldn’t have trust Veronica.”

“Maybe so,” Will said. “But you’re not the one who voted Bree off. Veronica and Britney did.”

“Don’t even get me started on Britney.” Ramona rolled her eyes.

“I wanted to believe we could trust them too.” Will said. “And honestly, I still have no clue what either of their deals are. But I do know I trust you a heck of a lot more than I trust them.”

“Thanks, Will,” Ramona smiled a little. “I think you’re the only one left on our team I still trust.”

“Well, we are pretty slim pickings right now.” Will chuckled.

“I want to believe they’re still good people.” Ramona said. “I just don’t understand why they do the things that they do.”

“Sometimes I don’t even think they understand it.” Will said. “But that’s not your problem to worry about. Right now we have to worry about getting you to merge.”

“Will, you don’t have to seriously make sure I make it to merge.” Ramona laughed. “I can survive one more elimination ceremony.”

“Oh, we’re not going to any more elimination ceremonies.” Will said.

“We’re not?” Ramona raised an eyebrow.

“I got a bad feeling Veronica and Brit would pull something sneaky on one of us if we do.” Will said. “We’re winning today’s challenge. For once.”

“Normally I’m the optimistic one,” Ramona said. “But how are we going to win when there’s only four of us versus seven Freaks?”

“Well, you and I are still probably the most athletic ones here.” Will said. “And since our other two teammates love being so strategic when it’s time to vote, I’m sure they won’t mind contributing some of that brain power towards today’s challenge.”

“The Freaks do have a lot of brain power of their own, though.” Ramona said. “Quinn alone could wipe the floor with us in a game of wits.”

“Ah, but you’re not arguing that they’re athletic.” Will said with a smirk.

“Okay, maybe we have the upper-hand there.” Ramona giggled. “It’s still a long shot. We won’t win if we can’t manage to work together.”

“Oh, but you’re forgetting about our most important advantage.” Will said. “The underdog rule.”

“We’re not the underdogs.” Ramona said. “We established that all the way back in the dodgeball challenge.”

“But that was before it was four against seven.” Will said.

“I guess you have a point.” Ramona shrugged. “It would be nice to finally break our losing streak once and for all.”

Later that morning, eventually all of the contestants had gathered in the mess hall for breakfast. The Freaks were chatting at their table while the Populars sat in mostly awkward silence.

***

“I think it’s safe to say that Bree basically blew my cover last night to the rest of our team,” Britney said in the confessional. “But I do still feel bad about voting her off. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t next and Bree was a threat that Veronica already didn’t like. I have no idea what I’m gonna tell Garret though…”

***

Digit and Brad joined the contestants, entering through the back door of the mess hall.

“Alright, campers,” Brad said. “Who’s excited for their last team challenge?”

The Freaks all exchanged disappointed expressions, while most of the Populars cheered.

“Today’s challenge is fairly simple.” Digit said. “For the first part, you’ll be racing across a dock, grabbing a dueling stick, and bringing it back to your team. We’ll explain that more once we’re there.”

“You said we’re racing across a dock-”

“Yes, that means it’s over water, Quinn.” Digit said.

“You also said that’s the first part-”

“The second part’s a surprise, Veronica.” Brad said.

Quinn and Veronica both respectively folded their arms. Quinn looked nervous, while Veronica just looked annoyed.

“Now come on!” Brad said, waving a hand and motioning for the others to follow.

Digit and Brad led the teams to a lake with two docks going across it. The docks were close together, but there was still a gap of water between them.

“Each team will start on opposite sides of their respective dock.” Digit explained. “On the other side of your team’s dock, you’ll find dueling sticks. Once someone grabs a dueling stick, they have to run back and bring it to their team. But, someone from the other team may also be running in your direction with a dueling stick.”

“So, we can use the dueling sticks to stop the other team?” Britney asked.

“You can attempt to.” Digit said.

“But we don’t have to, right?” Ally said. “Both teams could just let the other go.”

“That could happen too.” Digit said. “Regardless, each team only needs to collect four dueling sticks, enough to make two X’s. So, Freaks, not all of you may need to participate. You can’t send someone more than once until everyone has gone, though, so Populars will need all hands on deck.”

“We’ve needed that for a while.” Will muttered to himself.

“Everyone got it?” Digit asked.

“Got it? That’s it?!” Dominic asked. “There’s no giant sea monster that’s gonna come out of that lake and try to kill us?”

“And you and Brad won’t be physically or emotionally harming us while we’re doing it?” Casey added.

“Today’s challenge is a test of each team overall. Specifically, each team’s biggest weaknesses.” Digit said. “So, no, Brad and I won’t be interfering.”

“Unless it’s to add witty commentary!” Brad said, shooting finger guns at the contestants.

The Freaks all gathered at the starting side of their dock, while the Populars gathered on their own at the opposite end of the lake.

“Alright, team,” Ally said. “Does anyone want to go first?”

“I don’t know,” Casey said. “I still have a bad feeling about this…”

Most of the other Freaks nodded in agreement.

“It feels like there has to be some kind of catch,” Quinn said. “But I can’t tell what. This challenge just feels too simple.”

“Well, there is a second challenge too.” Ally said. “If you guys are worried, I can go first.”

A similar conversation was happening on the Populars’ side.

“If the first part is this easy,” Britney said. “I don’t even want to know what the second part is.”

“It doesn’t seem like that strange of a challenge.” Ramona said. “I mean, there is only four of us. It kinda makes sense to make it simple.”

“I agree with you there,” Will said. “But I can’t help but be suspicious of us not having to attack the other team if we don’t want to. I mean, we’re collecting dueling sticks.”

“Digit did say they’re testing our biggest weaknesses…” Veronica said.

“Well, I’ll go first.” Will offered. “And if the Freaks don’t start swinging at me, I don’t plan on swinging at them.”

“That’s a smart bet for the first round.” Britney nodded.

Ally and Will got into position. Digit and Brad watched them from an exaggerated lifeguard tower.

“On your marks…” Digit said. “Get set….”

“Go!” Brad blew an airhorn.

Ally and Will ran past each other and grabbed a dueling stick from the end of their respective docks. They both quickly turned around and cautiously looked at each other.

Finally, Ally started running back with her dueling stick held harmlessly at her side. Will started running too once Ally was already halfway back, and made it to the end at the same time as her. Both of them placed their first dueling stick in its holder with no complications.

“Okay, yeah,” Ally said. “That was strange.”

“Who’s next?” Digit asked from the lifeguard tower.

“I’ll go!” Dominic volunteered, attempting to pose heroically next to Ally.

“Thanks, Dom.” Ally giggled and blushed. “Good luck!”

Most of the Freaks standing behind Ally smirked and lightly rolled their eyes at Dominic.

“Does it even matter which one of us goes?” Ramona asked on her team’s dock.

“Not really, we’ll all have to go anyway.” Britney said. “Besides, it’s not like the Freaks are gonna put up much of a fight.”

“That’s it!” Veronica exclaimed.

“What is?” Britney asked.

“Digit said these challenges are a test of each team’s biggest weakness.” Veronica said. “We don’t have to attack the other team, but it’s the easiest way to pull ahead.”

“So, the way to win is to play dirty?” Will asked.

Veronica nodded. “And the Freaks have never played dirty.”

“Did you… actually just say something smart?” Britney asked.

“You’re one to talk, ‘dumb blonde’.” Veronica said, using air quotes. “Is that even your natural hair color?”

“Yes!” Britney grabbed her blonde hair defensively. “Leave me and my hair alone.”

“So, Ramona,” Veronica turned to the soccer player. “Do you think you could knock off one of the Freaks?”

“Me?” Ramona asked.

“Well, you are our strongest.” Veronica said.

“She’s also our nicest.” Will pointed out.

“Shouldn’t you have some anger you want to let out?” Veronica asked. “Like, after everything that’s happened, aren’t you mad?”

“Yeah,” Ramona nodded, stepping up to Veronica. “At you.”

“Oh, right,” Veronica took a cautious step back. “Yeah, I’ll just go, no big deal.”

“You were almost smart for more than a minute.” Britney chuckled.

Veronica glared at Britney.

“Are you four ready yet?!” Digit asked from the lifeguard tower. “I know we said we weren’t gonna interfere, but the Freaks have been ready for the past five minutes!”

The Populars looked and saw Dominic doing comically exaggerated stretches at the end of his dock. Veronica rolled her eyes and stepped up to her end as well.

“And…” Brad said, holding the airhorn. “Go!”

Veronica and Dominic both ran to the end of their docks and grabbed a dueling stick. Dominic started running back, not making a move to attack. Veronica, on the other hand, swung her dueling stick low as Dominic ran past her…

Hitting Dominic in an… unsavory area and knocking him into the lake below. The Freaks, especially the guys, all winced.

Veronica made it back to the end of her dock with her dueling stick in hand, while Dominic floated face down back to his side. Jesse and Casey each grabbed one of his arms and pulled him up.

“Are you okay?” Jesse asked.

“Yeah,” Dominic coughed up some water. “I’m fine.”

“Aw, Dom, it’s okay.” Ally pulled Dominic into a hug, even though he was soaked.

The rest of the Freaks gave Dominic a reassuring thumbs-up from behind Ally. Dominic smiled weakly in return.

“Who’s going next?” Veronica asked as she placed their second dueling stick in its holder.

“I’ll go.” Britney sighed. “It’s smarter to save Ramona for last anyway.” She leaned in and whispered the next part in Veronica’s ear. “Plus, now she’s moping in the corner because of you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Veronica rolled her eyes.

Britney motioned to the far corner of the dock. Ramona stood there, moping, and not paying any attention. Will gently pat her shoulder.

“Okay,” Veronica said to Britney. “So maybe I shouldn’t have brought up the last few eliminations.”

“You think?” Britney said. “Veronica, we voted them off. In what world would that be encouraging to her?”

“I don’t know!” Veronica said. “I’m not good at encouragement.”

“Clearly.” Britney rolled her eyes and got into position.

“So,” Casey said on the Freaks’ side. “Who’s going next?”

All of the Freaks turned and stared at him.

“Why are you all looking at me?” Casey asked nervously.

“Well,” Ally said. “The Populars clearly aren’t afraid of playing rough.”

“So you want me to get hit in the kiwis next?” Casey asked.

“No!” Ally said. “If we want to even the score again, we need to knock one of them off though.”

“And I’m the best candidate for that because…?”

“The rest of us are pretty soft.” Jesse said. “Like, really soft.”

“You and Quinn are the only kinda cutthroat ones we have.” Lyla said.

“And Quinn’s afraid of water.” Garret added.

“Sorry, Case, but they’re right.” Quinn said. “If it helps, I really hope you don’t get hit in the kiwis.”

“I’m cutthroat?” Casey asked.

“Well, not really by yourself. You’re usually pretty quiet and kinda scrawny.” Dominic said. “But compared to the rest of us? Sure!”

“Good luck!” Ally started gently pushing Casey up to the dock.

“Hey, you were pretty cutthroat back in the dodgeball challenge.” Casey said to Ally, trying to break her grip on him.

“That was an accident!” Ally said. “And I already went, so ha!”

“Fine.” Casey rolled his eyes.

“On your marks… Get set… Go!”

Britney and Casey both ran to the end of their dock and grabbed a dueling stick. They turned around and glared at each other.

“Sorry, Garret’s friend,” Britney muttered to herself. “But I am not getting my hair wet today.”

“Sorry, Garret’s friend,” Casey muttered to himself. “But I am not getting hit in the kiwis today.”

They both started running back, each of them holding their dueling stick at the ready. Casey swung high and first, surprising Britney. The blonde ducked and rolled under the stick, unable to hit Casey as she passed, but able to stay on the platform.

Britney hurried back to the end of her dock, choosing to keep her dueling stick rather than to turn around and attempt to fight Casey for his. Casey also returned to his end of the dock and placed his dueling stick in its holder.

“Sorry.” Casey shrugged.

“Hey, you did better than me.” Dominic said, still visibly in pain.

“At least now we won’t fall behind too much.” Quinn said. “I’m guessing if the Populars do get their fourth stick this round, which they probably will, we’re still gonna have to stay and get our last stick while they go on to the second part of the challenge.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself.” Digit said. “Now, which one of you Freaks is going against super-athlete Ramona?”

Ramona, who had barely been paying attention, jumped at the mention of her name.

“On second thought,” Casey said. “I’m glad you guys forced me to go last round.”

“Well, I don’t think any of us can beat her in a fight.” Quinn said.

“I’ll go.” Lyla volunteered.

“Really?” Jesse asked. “Not that I think you’d do bad, I just really don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I’ll be okay, Jess.” Lyla said. “Trust me.”

***

“Ramona and I have talked before.” Lyla said in the confessional. “I think we’re friends. And if there’s anything I’ve gathered about her from then to now, it’s that she really cares about her friends. I can’t stop her from getting to the other side, but I can make sure my team doesn’t fall too far behind. Besides, I’ve been meaning to talk to Ramona again. I’m a little worried about her after the last few eliminations…”

***

“Okay, Ramona,” Veronica said. “Just knock her off the platform.”

“Like baseball!” Britney offered. “That is the sport you play, right?”

“I don’t think she’s listening to either of you.” Will said. “And she plays soccer, Brit.”

“Whoops.” Britney shrugged.

Ramona continued to tune out her teammates as she got into position at the end of her dock. When she locked eyes with Lyla from across the lake, her eyes widened.

***

“Any of the other Freaks, I probably could’ve handled knocking them in the water if I had to.” Ramona said in the confessional. “Well, maybe not Quinn, but that’s for obvious reasons. But Lyla helped me back when I really needed it and she didn’t have to, especially since we’re on different teams. So, I can’t just hit her with a dueling stick and knock her into a lake. I really do care too much, don’t I?”

***

“Go!”

Lyla and Ramona both ran across their dock, Ramona going just slightly faster. They both grabbed a dueling stick and turned around. Lyla stood still, waiting for Ramona to make the first move…

Ramona ran back to the end of her dock, her dueling stick slung harmlessly across her back. Lyla let out a breath of relief as she ran back to the end of hers, unharmed.

“Congrats, Populars,” Digit said. “You’ve collected all four of your dueling sticks. You can start following Brad to the second part of your challenge.”

The four Populars trudged off, following Brad deeper into the forest.

“Freaks,” Digit continued. “You still need to collect your last dueling stick.”

“So…” Ally said. “Do we just send someone to get it?”

“Yeah.” Digit shrugged.

“I’ll go!” Jesse volunteered.

“Be careful.” Lyla said.

Jesse cautiously walked to the end of the dock and gently picked up a dueling stick.

“This is so weird.” Quinn said.

Jesse looked both ways like he was at a crosswalk before starting to walk back across the dock.

“Have you ever crossed the street before, Jesse?” Digit asked.

“Hmm,” Jesse stopped halfway across the dock to think. “I’m sure I have, but I can’t think of any specific times-”

“Just keep walking, Jess.” Lyla said gently, while the rest of the Freaks were vigorously motioning to the dock to get his attention.

“Oh!” Jesse started walking again. “Right.”

Jesse made it back to his team and put their final dueling stick in its slot.

“So, what was the point of that?” Garret asked.

“Between you and me,” Digit said. “There was no real point to the first part of the challenge. Sure, the Populars are getting a bit of a head start right now, but that’s about it.”

“So, why is there even a first part if it’s pointless?” Quinn asked.

“Well, like I said before, the two challenges are testing each team’s biggest weakness. You guys failed your test, by the way.” Digit said. “And this challenge was actually Brad’s idea.”

“Oh, that explains everything!” Casey said.

“Don’t you worry, though.” Digit chuckled a little. “Because all the twists are coming from me.”

“Twists?” Dominic asked.

“You’ll see.” Digit said. “Now come on, before the Populars actually beat you for once.”

The Freaks all nervously followed Digit deeper into the forest.

The Populars eventually arrived at the second part of their challenge, a steep and somehow snow-capped mountain.

“So, what are we supposed to do?” Veronica asked.

“You’re supposed to get to the top.” Brad said.

“…With what?” Britney asked.

“There’s some harnesses.” Brad motioned to a pile of flimsy harnesses on the ground.

“Awesome.” Veronica said sarcastically.

“You also have the power of teamwork!” Brad said in a sing-songy voice.

“Well, this challenge must be our test.” Will sighed.

“And before I forget,” Brad said. “The first team to reach the top wins the challenge and a… special reward. But the first member of each team to reach the top also wins their own… special reward.”

“Why do you keep emphasizing the word special?” Ramona asked.

“You’ll see.” Brad winked before leaving the team.

Ramona walked over to the pile of harnesses and picked one up. “I feel like these would be more useful if they were actually connected to something.”

“I think they’re supposed to be.” Will said.

Will joined Ramona and picked up a harness of his own. He found a small cord with a clip at the end and clipped it to a loop on Ramona’s harness.

“Oh,” Ramona said. “I guess that’s what Brad meant when he said we needed teamwork.”

“Great.” Veronica said sarcastically. “So when one of us falls off the mountain, all of us do.”

“So when one of us falls, the others can catch them.” Will said.

“I don’t know,” Britney said. “It still seems pretty dangerous…”

“You have to trust us, Brit.” Ramona said. “Did you ever even trust any of us?”

“Yes.” Britney said. “Well, never you.” She said to Veronica. “But you two,” She turned back to Ramona and Will. “I did.”

“You did?” Ramona asked. “What changed?”

“Well, Will went rogue and voted off my best friend!” Britney said, earning a guilty expression from Will. “And Ramona, you were getting really close with your friends and… I got scared you guys were gonna vote me off next.”

“So that’s why you voted Bree and Gavin off?” Ramona said. “Brit, I thought you were my friend too.”

“Okay,” Will stood in the center of the group. “It’s clear that none of us really like each other, but once we get to the top of that mountain, we don’t have to deal with each other anymore. So, can we please just put our differences aside and finish this challenge?”

“Who died and put you in charge?” Veronica raised an eyebrow.

“What is your problem now?” Will asked, annoyed.

“I’m just saying, you were saying a lot of stuff you went back on yesterday too.” Veronica said.

“What?” Will just looked confused.

“Ooh, I have no clue what she’s talking about,” Ramona said to Will. “But you did kinda admit to voting for her last night.”

“Oh, like he’s the first person to ever vote for you.” Britney rolled her eyes.

“Shut up!” Veronica glared at her.

“Veronica, I meant what I said yesterday and I’m sorry I still voted for you. I had to start righting some of my wrongs.” Will said. “But you do realize what you did last night was way worse, right?”

“How come?” Veronica asked. “I was just trying to save myself.”

“Because they’re dating!” Will said before turning to Ramona. “You and Bree are dating, right?”

“Yeah.” Ramona nodded.

“Congrats, by the way.” Will said.

“Thanks.” Ramona frowned.

“And why do you even care?” Veronica asked.

“Because it sucks to lose someone you really care about like that.” Will said. “I know the feeling.”

The three girls all turned and raised an eyebrow at Will.

“What?” Will asked.

“You said you know the feeling.” Veronica said. “How do you know the feeling?”

“I… didn’t mean it like that?” Will said.

“There’s not a lot of other ways you could’ve meant it, Will.” Britney said.

“Oh my god,” Ramona gasped. “What really happened between you and Gavin in that elevator?!”

“No, no, no,” Will said as Britney and Veronica started to laugh. “Nothing happened in the elevator. I wasn’t talking about Gavin.”

“Then who were you talking about?” Britney asked.

“If you don’t tell us, we’re all gonna keep thinking something happened in that elevator.” Veronica said.

“Fine.” Will sighed and rolled his eyes. “After that challenge with all our secrets getting revealed-”

“The night Natalia got eliminated.” Britney said, already seething with anger at what she knew was coming next.

“Natalia and I kissed.”

“You kissed?!” Veronica exclaimed.

“You kissed her,” Britney was glaring daggers at Will. “And then you voted her off?!”

Before any of the others could process what was happening, Britney slapped Will across the face.

“Britney!” Ramona grabbed Britney and held her back.

“No, I deserved that.” Will sighed. “Sh*t, Brit, that hurt.” He rubbed his cheek.

“I would’ve rather you had a torrid love affair with Gavin!” Britney said.

“I… would not have.” Ramona said. “But that’s still pretty bad.”

“Hey, I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth right now,” Veronica said. “But the Freaks just got here, so maybe we should actually start the challenge?”

Will nodded and wordlessly started clipping their harnesses together.

“Brit,” Ramona said out of earshot of the others, still holding Britney. “Calm down.”

“I should’ve known something wasn’t right.” Britney said, still glaring at Will.

“It’s okay, Brit.” Ramona said. “You can’t change it now.”

Britney turned back to Ramona and all the anger in her eyes was replaced with sadness. “Ramona, I’m sorry. I never meant… I never wanted to hurt you.”

“I know. I think.” Ramona said. “I never really thought about how much Nat’s elimination hurt you either.”

“You’re not the one who voted her off though.” Britney said, turning back to their other two teammates.

“We’ll talk more later, okay?” Ramona said.

“Okay.” Britney smiled a little.

***

“I know I’d be an idiot to trust Britney again after everything that’s happened,” Ramona said in the confessional. “But she really has been on her own for a while. I can’t blame her for being scared she’d get voted off next. I just wish she had talked to me instead…”

***

The Freaks arrived at the base of the mountain at the tail-end of the Populars argument, but they had their own problems to worry about.

“We have to get to the top of… that mountain?” Quinn asked, eyes wide. She looked up at the peak of the steep mountain and then back down at her own wheelchair.

“Yep.” Brad nodded. “First team to the top wins immunity and a reward. First person from each team to the top gets another reward.”

“I can carry you!” Ally offered to Quinn.

Quinn was still staring at the top of the mountain with wide eyes. The rest of the Freaks all glared at Brad from behind her.

Brad raised his hands in surrender and lowered his voice to a whisper. “I never said you had to climb the mountain.”

“Oh?” Ally said. “So, there’s another way to the top?”

“Maybe, I don’t know!” Brad said as he started walking away. “And if I did, I’m definitely not supposed to tell you about it anyway!”

“Thanks, Brad!” Ally called after him.

“I’m not helping you!” Brad yelled back.

“You know, I think he’s secretly been rooting for us since the phobia challenge.” Dominic said.

“Well, there’s not much left to root for on the other team.” Lyla said, motioning to the Populars as they finally managed to get into their harnesses and start climbing.

“So, what are we gonna do?” Jesse asked.

“We’ll handle this the way we always do.” Ally said.

“Brute strength?” Dominic jokingly suggested, flexing his mostly nonexistent muscles.

“Almost dying?” Jesse asked.

“What? No!” Ally said. “By sticking together and never giving up.”

“We do tend to give up though.” Lyla said.

“And we have a habit of splitting up, usually at the worst times.” Garret said. “You know, that kinda sounds like something Casey or Quinn would say…” He looked around and saw his friends were missing. “Aaand they’re not here.”

Ally sighed.

Casey and Quinn were searching the base of the mountain for another way to the top.

“There has to be another way.” Quinn said as she frantically searched. “I can’t be the reason we lose our last team challenge.”

“Quinn-”

“I couldn’t do the first part because I’m afraid of water.”

Quinn-”

“I can’t do this part because of my stupid chair and now we’re gonna lose and it’s gonna be my fault-”

In her frustration, Quinn had accidentally slammed her wheelchair into a rock. The rock moved like a lever after being hit, opening a pathway into the mountain with a ramp leading up.

“You sure about that?” Casey raised an eyebrow.

“Shut up.” Quinn folded her arms.

“I’ll go get the others.” Casey said. “And for the record, you still singlehandedly won us the dodgeball challenge and nabbed Brad’s paintball gun from him just yesterday. That’s not even the half of it. Don’t sell yourself short, Quinn.”

Quinn watched Casey as he walked off and blushed.

Soon the rest of the Freaks made their way to the opening.

“Great job, Quinn!” Ally gave her a high-five.

“Thanks,” Quinn blushed again.

Casey looked on and smiled. The Freaks then went into the opening and started their trek up the mountain.

The Populars’ climb was steep and treacherous. At one point, Britney lost her footing and slipped. Ramona, whose harness was attached to Britney’s, grabbed her and pulled her back up before she could fall.

“You okay?” Ramona asked.

“Yeah,” Britney smiled. “Thanks, Ramona.”

The Freaks continued on through the dark tunnel and up the winding ramp. Once the light from the opening faded, Dominic pulled out another of his trusty glowsticks and handed it to Ally.

“Lead the way, Ally-gator.” Dominic said.

A few groans were heard in the dark.

“Thanks, Dom.” Ally blushed, although it wasn’t visible in the dim light.

Eventually, Digit and Brad made it to the top of the mountain, standing on a flat platform.

“How’d we get up here so fast again?” Brad asked.

“Plot convenience.” Digit said.

“Oh yeah.” Brad nodded.

Suddenly, a hand appeared over the edge of the mountain.

“One of the teams just made it!” Brad said.

“How convenient.” Digit added.

Will pulled himself up and onto the stable platform before extending a hand below him, pulling Veronica up next. They both grabbed Britney and hoisted her up. Ramona pulled herself up, but accepted Will’s hand to get onto the platform.

“Well, Populars,” Digit said. “The Freaks already beat you. I’ll see you at the campfire tonight.”

“Are you kidding me?!” Veronica exclaimed. “They’re not even here!”

“I was kidding!” Digit said. “You guys actually won! For once.”

“Which means you guys win the extra special reward tonight!” Brad said. “And you,” He put a hand on Will’s shoulder. “Were the first one to the top, which means you get the extra extra special reward.”

“The… what?” Will asked.

“Dude, I literally told you all about it, like, thirty minutes ago.” Brad said.

“A lot happened in the past thirty minutes.” Will said. “I kinda forgot about that.”

“Fair enough.” Brad shrugged.

“Where are the Freaks anyway?” Ramona wondered. “I didn’t see them at all when we were climbing.”

“What I want to know is how the hell they planned on getting Quinn to the top of the mountain.” Britney said.

Ramona gasped and then glared at Digit and Brad. “You guys are cruel!”

“So, we only won because the challenge was deliberately rigged in our favor?” Veronica asked.

“No!” Digit said. “There was more than one way to get to the top and the Freaks found another way! Just not quick enough…”

Almost as if on cue, a section of the platform floor rose up and revealed a tunnel with a ramp winding down. Ally led the Freaks onto the top of the mountain. Once they saw that the Populars were already there, they all frowned.

“We lost?” Ally asked.

“Only by a little.” Brad said. “But you won.”

“Huh?” Ally raised an eyebrow.

“Did all of you seriously forget?” Brad asked. “Ally, you were the first one from your team to reach the top. So, as your reward, you get immunity at tonight’s elimination!”

“I completely forgot about the reward.” Ally said to the rest of the Freaks with a guilty expression.

“It’s okay, Ally.” Quinn said. “If any of us deserve to make merge, it’s you.”

“Besides, it’s not like any of us would’ve voted for you anyway.” Dominic said.

“Oh, but you won’t be the ones voting tonight.” Digit said to the Freaks.

What?!” All the contestants exclaimed.

“The Populars won a reward too. Fitting, since this is the first challenge they’ve won in forever.” Brad said. “Their reward is the power to vote off any one of the Freaks at tonight’s elimination ceremony.”

“Except Ally.” Digit added, making Ally’s clear guilt increase tenfold.

“How come we always get stuck with the twist eliminations?” Lyla asked.

“There’s only four of us!” Veronica said, motioning to her much smaller team.

“That’s your own fault.” Dominic said.

“Maybe don’t make them angry right before they have to vote one of us off.” Casey whispered in his ear.

“Not that I really care,” Will said. “But didn’t you say I got a reward too?”

“Oh, you’ll find out more about that later.” Digit said. “And trust me, once you do, you’ll be glad it was kept a secret.”

“Okay!” Brad clapped his hands together. “Any more questions?”

“I have a question!” Jesse’s hand shot up.

“Yes, Jesse?”

“What was the deal with both the challenges being tests or whatever?” Jesse asked. “Like, was there any point at all?”

“Well, climbing the mountain was a test of the Populars’ ability to work together.” Brad explained. “They had a rocky start, but actually managed to pull it off and win. The first part of the challenge was a test of your team’s ability to play rough, because merge is every man and woman for themselves.”

“And it was a test to see if you could all get out of your own heads.” Digit said. “Seriously, you guys spent more time focusing on how weird the challenge was than doing the actual challenge.”

The Freaks solemnly nodded.

“So, how do we get down?” Lyla asked.

“Oh,” Digit said, before just shrugging.

Eventually, everyone managed to get back down the mountain one way or another. The Freaks were all gathered on the grass outside their cabin, sitting in a circle.

“Well,” Dominic was the first to break the silence. “This sucks.”

“Supremely.” Quinn agreed.

“I do feel bad that there’s only four of the Populars left, though.” Ally said.

“Exactly!” Dominic said. “It would’ve been so easy to pick one of them to vote off.”

“They’ve already voted off most of their good ones themselves anyway.” Lyla added.

“Yeah…” Garret sadly nodded.

Quinn and Casey both put a comforting hand on each of Garret’s shoulders.

“So, what do we do now?” Jesse asked. “Just wait for them to vote one of us off?”

“That’s all we can do.” Lyla sighed.

“Honestly, I’m kinda glad the other team’s picking for us.” Dominic said. “I wouldn’t want to vote any of you off.”

“I don’t want to see any of you go either…” Ally said, her guilt from before showing again.

Casey sighed. “Ally, no one is mad at you for getting immunity.”

“I’m mad at me!” Ally said. “I forgot about the stupid reward. It’s not fair that I’m safe and you guys aren’t.”

“She’s gonna blame herself no matter who gets eliminated.” Quinn leaned over and whispered to Casey. “Just leave her be.”

“Nothing about this is fair.” Lyla said. “Same as that bogus elimination from the talent show.”

“Wait,” Garret suddenly smiled. “Whoever gets eliminated tonight is gonna see Peter again!”

“Now I’m not as worried about tonight’s elimination.” Casey said.

“And Wendy!” Jesse added. “I miss Wendy, she was super nice.”

“And super clumsy.” Lyla said. “But her heart was always in the right place. I really hope she worked things out with that guy.”

“While we’re reminiscing,” Dominic said. “Let’s not forget our most valued team player-”

“Don’t even.” Quinn began to chuckle.

“Violet,” Dominic finished. “You know, sometimes I do wonder if she’s actually turning over a new leaf now.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it.” Quinn said.

“I like to think she is.” Ally said.

“Well, whoever gets the boot tonight has to report back.” Dominic said. “Can’t leave everyone else in suspense forever.”

The group all laughed before falling back into a comfortable silence.

“You know guys,” Ally began. “I never really had a lot of friends before this and-”

Casey sighed again. “Ally, do not start crying.”

“I’m not crying!” Ally said, visibly tearing up. “It’s just… allergies?”

“Everything on this island is synthetic.” Casey said.

“You mean this grass isn’t even real?” Ally asked, touching the grass they were sitting on.

“Considering we’ve seen this clearing open up and spit out a dodgeball court,” Casey said. “I’m assuming not.”

“You know, I never thought you and I would become such good friends.” Ally pulled a startled Casey into a hug. “Especially after I hit you in the head with that dodgeball.”

“Forget hit,” Quinn said. “You almost killed him with that dodgeball!”

“Accidentally!” Ally said. “Why does that keep getting brought up?”

“You brought it up!” Casey said.

“I could bring up the boat incident too…” Garret chuckled a little.

“Also an accident!” Ally said defensively.

“Maybe you were the clumsy one all along.” Lyla laughed.

“Maybe.” Ally folded her arms and pouted.

Dominic laughed and wrapped his arm around Ally’s shoulders, making her smile again.

“Hey, I didn’t have any friends before this summer either.” Jesse said. “Like, none at all. The only person I talked to was my mom.”

“Jess, I’ve been dying to ask you this all summer,” Dominic said. “How the heck did you convince your mom that’s never let you leave your house before to let you sign up for this show?”

“I’ve honestly been wondering that too.” Lyla said.

“Oh, well…” Jesse blushed a little. “I might’ve told her it was just a regular summer camp.”

“And she still signed all the application forms?” Quinn raised an eyebrow.

“And safety waivers?” Casey added.

“Well…”

“Jess?” Now even Lyla was raising an eyebrow. “Your mom did sign all the application papers, right?”

I signed all the application papers…” Jesse said.

“But you’re a minor.” Ally said. “I don’t think your signature would be valid.”

“Well, that’s why I signed with my mom’s name!” Jesse said.

“You forged your mom’s signature?!” Dominic exclaimed. “Dude, that’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done.”

Ally lightly slapped Dominic’s arm.

Meanwhile, Digit and Brad were watching from the interns’ quarters.

“He forged his mom’s signature?!” Digit said. “What is this, a high school field trip to the zoo?”

“He’s probably never been on a field trip.” Brad said. “Or to the zoo.”

“Hold on, I know what to do.” Digit said before pulling out an ancient looking computer and typing furiously.

On the screen was footage of the Freaks outside talking. Digit pressed a button and Jesse’s entire body became blurry. When he spoke, the audio was distorted and sounded comically deep.

“Dig,” Brad said gently.

“Good, right?”

“We’ve already aired, like, ten episodes with Jesse in them!” Brad said.

“I know that!” Digit said exasperatedly.

“Hey, technically we’re not in charge.” Brad said. “So, technically it’s not our problem.”

“Whatever.” Digit sighed. “This show deserves to get sued.”

Digit pressed another button to return the image to its normal state, but instead the screen was filled with bright neon strobe lights.

“Oh god, make it stop!” Brad cried.

Back outside with the Freaks, most of them were still in shock over their latest revelation.

“Jess, you lied to your mom?” Lyla asked.

“Only a little.” Jesse said. “I just wanted to get out of my house!”

“Why didn’t you look into actual summer camps then?” Casey asked.

“Because I’ve watched this show before,” Jesse said. “And I know people make friends here.”

“Jess, there’s other safer places to make friends.” Lyla said.

“Hey, it’s already too late for him to go back now.” Dominic said. “Besides, if he didn’t lie to his mom and forge her signature, he wouldn’t have met any of us!”

“I guess everything does happen for a reason.” Ally said. “My parents were a little hesitant to let me sign up after… you know, everything I went through before this.”

“Yeah, my parents didn’t love the idea either.” Quinn said. “But hey, I’m here.”

“My mom was actually pretty happy I was getting out of the house for once.” Garret said.

“So was mine.” Lyla nodded.

“I think my parents were pretty excited.” Dominic said. “My sister thought it would be a good way for me to ‘exert all my extra energy’, whatever that means.”

“She has a point.” Casey said.

“What about you, Casey?” Dominic asked.

“Well, I don’t have a sister.” Casey said.

“I know that.” Dominic chuckled. “What about your parents?”

“I guess my dad was excited.” Casey shrugged, avoiding any eye contact.

“What about your mom?” Ally asked.

“What about her?” Casey said, a little colder than he intended.

Quinn and Garret appeared behind Casey and start vigorously motioning for Ally to drop the topic.

“Oh!” Ally looked from Casey, to Quinn and Garret, then back down to Casey. “Never mind!”

***

“From what we’ve gotten out of Casey,” Quinn began.

***

“Which really isn’t a lot,” Garret continued.

***

“His mom isn’t very… present in his life.” Quinn said.

***

“And this might just be me overthinking things,” Garret said. “But I don’t think things are super great at home with his dad either.”

***

“The only reason Garret and I kinda know what’s up,” Quinn said. “Is because Peter asked him once. Casey was still pretty vague about everything, but it’s the most we’ve ever gotten.”

***

“And you don’t say no to Peter.” Garret said. “You just don’t.”

***

Meanwhile, the Populars were all gathered in the girls’ side of their cabin.

“So, which one of the Freaks are we voting off?” Will asked.

“Well, it’s pretty obvious.” Veronica said.

“Yeah,” Ramona nodded. “I feel bad voting for her, but Quinn’s their biggest challenge threat.”

“Oh, I don’t think so.” Veronica said.

“Oh boy…” Will muttered.

“Why?” Ramona snapped. “Because she’s in a wheelchair?”

“Why are you getting so defensive?”

“Why are you so insensitive?”

“Okay, break it up!” Will stepped in between the two girls. “Veronica, did you have a better idea?”

“Well, their biggest threat is Ally.” Veronica said.

“Ally has immunity.” Britney stated. “And I wouldn’t call her a threat either…”

“Whatever.” Veronica rolled her eyes. “We can’t vote her off obviously, but we can vote off someone close to her.”

“…Like Quinn?” Will raised an eyebrow.

“No, no,” Veronica said. “I have a better idea.”

“This should be good.” Britney chuckled.

“Dominic.” Veronica said.

“You’re joking, right?” Ramona said. “No offense to him, but, uh-”

“He’s pretty useless.” Britney said.

“Not to Ally.” Veronica said with a wink. “If you know what I mean.”

“Oh, okay, I see where you’re going with this.” Britney nodded.

“Yeah, and didn’t we just establish that voting people off for that reason is bad?” Will asked.

“Who cares? They’re not on our team.” Veronica said.

Ramona rolled her eyes and turned away, staring out the window.

“Plus, it’s effective.” Veronica added in a whisper, motioning to Ramona.

“Okay, no.” Will said. “I don’t like this plan.”

“Then think of a better one.” Veronica said. “Maybe your special reward can help.”

“I forgot about the reward!” Will said defensively.

“I did too, if I’m being honest.” Britney said.

“Oh, because you’re so honest.” Veronica said sarcastically.

“Look, clearly we’re not gonna agree on anything.” Ramona said. “I know who I’m voting for. You guys do whatever you want.”

Ramona calmly walked out of the cabin.

“Fine.” Veronica said. “I know who I’m voting for too.”

Veronica stormed out of the cabin, leaving just Will and Britney.

“So,” Will said. “What are you doing, Brit?”

“I’m still thinking about it.” Britney said. “What are you thinking?”

“That I don’t know any of the Freaks well enough to vote one off and not feel bad about it.” Will said.

“Well, you’re gonna have to get over that soon.” Britney said. “Because after today, they’re not gonna have much of a problem voting for you.”

“I know.” Will sighed. “Brit, I am sorry about-”

“Save it.” Britney said. “I’m not the one you should be apologizing to.”

“Who are you voting for, Brit?” Will asked.

Britney thought about it for a moment, then leaned over and whispered a name in Will’s ear.

“You can still pick the alternative, but if you do, you’re putting the Freaks through a tiebreaker on top of an elimination they can’t control.” Britney said. “And you should know first-hand how much tiebreakers suck.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Will nodded. “There’s no convincing you otherwise?”

“Attention all contestants!” Brad’s voice rang out over the intercom. “Please report to the campfire! Like, now!”

“You don’t have time to convince me otherwise.” Britney said before walking out.

Both teams eventually made their way to the campfire. The Freaks were seated closer to the fire and the dock, while the Populars were in their own corner in the back.

“I would say you guys know the drill,” Digit said. “But tonight, the drill is different. Populars, go vote for which of the Freaks you want sent home before merge starts.”

“And Freaks,” Brad said. “Just sit and wait, I guess.”

The Freaks sat anxiously awaiting the results as each of the Populars got up and cast their vote.

***

“You really have done some amazing things here,” Ramona said as she cast her vote. “And if this doesn’t work, I do hope we can be friends. But you’re also the only challenge threat! I don’t know why the others can’t see that. Well, yes I do...”

***

“We may not be able to cut the head off the totem pole tonight,” Veronica said as she cast her vote. “But we can take out some of the bottom. Which means it’ll fall over, or something. That seemed like a better analogy in my head…”

***

“I don’t particularly care which one of the Freaks goes home tonight, as long as it’s not… you know who.” Britney said as she cast her vote. “But only one plan came from a place of logic tonight.”

***

“That was quick.” Brad said as he tallied the vote. “Oh yeah, because there’s only four of you!”

“Please, rub it in some more.” Will said sarcastically.

“The following Freaks are safe,” Digit said, holding the plate of marshmallows. “Ally, duh.”

Ally frowned as she caught her marshmallow.

“Lyla and Jesse.” Brad tossed them marshmallows too. “Fitting to pair you two up.”

“Speaking of fitting pairings,” Digit said. “Casey and Garret, you guys are safe too.”

“Unfortunately, your third amigo is in the bottom two.” Brad said.

Quinn and Dominic cast a nervous glance at each other.

“And the final marshmallow goes to…”

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

“Quinn.” Digit tossed her the last marshmallow. “Sorry, Dominic. This is your final punchline.”

***

“Ramona’s plan was the more logical one. Quinn is the biggest challenge threat.” Britney said in the confessional, before sighing. “But she’s also one of Garret’s best friends. I already voted off his brother and his brother’s best friend, voting off Quinn would’ve been too much to explain away. So, after everything that happened today, I might’ve been thinking more with my heart than my head tonight…”

***

“Wow.” Dominic was stunned as he stood up. “This sucks.”

“No,” Ally shook her head. “This isn’t right. Can’t I give him my immunity or something?”

“Sorry, Ally.” Digit said. “Votes are final.”

“Hey, it’s okay.” Dominic took Ally’s hands and pulled her up. “I’m gonna get on that canoe and I’m gonna be fine.”

“I don’t want you to go, though.” Ally started to tear up.

“You know what, screw it, I’ve got nothing to lose now.” Dominic said. “Ally, you are the coolest girl I’ve ever met. No offense Lyla and Quinn.”

Lyla and Quinn, who were also starting to tear up as they watched, motioned for him to keep going.

“I’ve liked you ever since you saved me from that robo-bear with a chainsaw.” Dominic said.

This earned a few confused glances from the onlookers.

“It was during the scavenger hunt,” Dominic turned and explained to the others. “Violet kinda left me for dead. Why’d we keep her around so long? Anyway!” He turned back to Ally. “Before I go, Ally, will you please go on a date with me when this is all over? I’m not joking, by the wa-”

“Yes!”

The Freaks all cheered as Ally hugged Dominic. Ramona politely clapped from where the Populars were seated.

“What?” Ramona asked upon seeing that the rest of her team was staring at her. "I still didn't vote for him..."

“I’ll see you later,” Dominic gave Ally a light kiss on the cheek. “Keep being awesome.”

“Bye, Dom.” Ally reluctantly let go of him.

“Bye, guys!” Dominic went around and gave all his teammates hugs before making his way to the dock.

“One last joke before I go!” Dominic called as he approached the canoe. “What do you call a dictionary on drugs?”

“I swear, if you say addictionary,” Casey said. “I will shove you off that dock.”

“I was gonna say high definition,” Dominic said. “But yours is way better! I gotta tell the others that one when I see them!”

Dominic got into his canoe and start drifting away. The Freaks all waved until he disappeared into the sea.

The Populars were the first to leave the campfire, Ramona casting a sympathetic glance in Ally’s direction as she went. The Freaks eventually began to funnel out, but Ally still stood by the dock, not moving.

Lyla and Quinn sighed and started playing a round of rock-paper-scissors.

“Hey, here’s a novel concept,” Casey appeared between them. “Why don’t you both go and talk to her?”

“You are her roommates, after all.” Garret said.

“Yeah,” Jesse hesitantly added.

Lyla turned to Jesse. “I actually wanted to talk to you-”

“Don’t worry,” Casey swung an arm around Jesse’s shoulders. “Garret and I will teach him all about the importance of honesty… and legal documents, back in the cabin.”

“Yeah!” Jesse said with a nervous smile.

“Okay…” Lyla said.

The three boys began to walk off towards the cabin.

“Are we actually gonna do that?” Jesse asked Casey.

“Well, I was kidding.” Casey said. “But someone probably should teach you what a contract is.”

Lyla and Quinn turned and approached Ally.

“You okay?” Quinn asked.

“My first boyfriend is in a canoe in the middle of the ocean.” Ally frowned.

“He’ll make it to shore eventually.” Lyla said.

“Why’d they have to vote Dominic off?” Ally asked.

“You want the honest answer to that?” Quinn asked.

Ally nodded.

“They did it to break you!” Quinn exclaimed. “Don’t let them wi-”

“Okay!” Lyla cut in. “Maybe we should talk about something else!”

“Maybe we should.” Ally nodded and the three started walking back towards the cabin. “Hey, Lyla, are you alright after all that stuff Jesse confessed today?”

“Oh, yeah, I’m fine.” Lyla said unconvincingly. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well, I just thought you’d be a little worried about him is all.” Ally said.

“Or worried that his mom’s gonna hate you forever because he met you on a reality show that he lied to her and forged her signature to sign up for.” Quinn said.

“Thank you, Quinn, that’s exactly what I was worried about actually.” Lyla said, eyes wide.

“Oh, Lyla!” Ally pulled her into a hug. “She won’t hate you. If I were Jesse’s mom, I’d think you’re lovely!”

“But you’re not Jesse’s mom.” Lyla said. “You’re Ally, you think everyone’s lovely.”

“That’s not entirely true.” Ally said. “It’s mostly true, but not entirely.”

“If it helps, I think his mom has a lot of things to get way madder at him about.” Quinn said. “He may be grounded for the rest of his life after this.”

“He was practically grounded his whole life before this too.” Lyla sighed. “I do understand why he did what he did and I feel awful that he’s never gotten to see the world before this summer, but…”

“But you don’t want his mom to hate you forever.” Ally said as they arrived at the cabin. “That’s perfectly understandable. If you need someone that isn’t Jesse to talk to, you know we’re all here for you.”

Ally smiled and gave Lyla another hug before going into the cabin.

“You think she’s gonna be okay?” Lyla asked.

“As long as the rest of us keep having problems that need solving, she’s gonna be fine.” Quinn said. “Are you gonna be okay?”

“Not sure yet.” Lyla said.

“Well, take your time.” Quinn chuckled as the two of them went into the cabin as well.

At some point later, after Jesse had been taught what a legal contract was, Casey and Garret went outside for some fresh air.

“It’s quiet in the cabin without Dominic.” Garret said.

“Yeah, at first I thought that’d be a good thing, but…” Casey trailed off. “I don’t know, it feels weird.”

“You can say you miss him.” Garret gently nudged Casey. “I won’t tell the others.”

“Fine.” Casey lightly rolled his eyes. “I’m gonna miss Dominic. He was a good guy.”

“Yeah,” Garret nodded. “Me too.”

Garret looked out over the railing and spotted a certain blonde outside her own cabin.

“I’ll be right back.” Garret said to Casey. “I just, I’m gonna, I just have to-”

“Go ahead.” Casey sighed.

Garret walked down the steps and towards the other cabin. Casey watched him go, but started to wander in the same direction once he was gone.

“Hey, Britney,” Garret said as he approached the blonde.

“Oh!” Britney turned around, surprised. “Hi, Gar! What’s up?”

“Not much.” Garret blushed. “I actually wanted to ask you something…”

“Yes?” Britney smirked.

“About last night’s elimination.” Garret finished.

“Oh,” Britney said, sounding slightly disappointed.

“Why Bree?” Garret asked.

“Well, I didn’t vote for her.” Britney lied.

“Oh,” Garret said. “Well then, what happened?”

“Veronica and… Will tricked the rest of us,” Britney said. “Into voting for different people.”

“Oh my gosh!” Garret said. “That’s nuts, I’m sorry.”

“It’s really okay.” Britney forced a smile. “Don’t worry about it.”

“How could someone do something like that?” Garret wondered.

“I have no idea!” Britney said. “But I do know that I’m very tired. Goodnight, Gar!”

“Oh,” Garret waved as Britney dashed into her cabin. “Goodnight!”

***

“Okay, so I’m blatantly lying to him now.” Britney said in the confessional. “This is fine…”

***

Garret turned around and jumped when he saw Casey standing behind him.

“Sorry.” Casey said. “Didn’t mean to eavesdrop, force of habit.” He tucked his journal back into his pocket.

“It’s fine.” Garret said. “Could you just…?”

“Not mention it to the others?” Casey said. “It’s alright, Gar, I won’t tell.”

“You already knew, didn’t you?” Garret asked.

“Yeah.”

Garret squinted at him. “And you already mentioned it to Quinn, didn’t you?”

“…Yeah.” Casey sighed. “But I’ll make sure she doesn’t tell either.”

“Thanks,” Garret smiled. “It’s not that I don’t trust the others, it’s just… Her team’s pretty intense and I don’t want to cause any drama-”

“Yeah, I get it, Gar.” Casey said. “She seems nice.”

“Yeah…” Garret blushed.

***

“She’s also lying through her teeth.” Casey said in the confessional. “I don’t know how long she’s been stringing Garret along, but she won’t be for much longer.” He paused for a moment, then sighed. “Except I have no proof other than my own intuition... But until I do have proof, I got my eyes on her!”

***

Meanwhile, Will was getting ready for bed, alone in his side of the cabin. Suddenly, the door slammed open.

Will screamed as two figures entered the room.

“Stop screaming, it’s just us.” Digit said.

“Yeah, dude, people are trying to sleep.” Brad said as he flipped on the lights. “And why are you sitting in the dark?”

“I was about to go to sleep!” Will said.

“Oh yeah,” Brad chuckled.

“Why are you here?” Will asked.

“To tell you about your super special and super secret reward.” Digit said.

“It couldn’t wait until morning?” Will yawned.

“No, because tomorrow morning Brad and I won’t be here.” Digit said.

“Aftermath special, baby!” Brad exclaimed.

“Oh,” Will said. “I guess that makes sense.”

“And you need to make your decision tonight.” Digit said.

“Decision?” Will raised an eyebrow. “And what are the rest of us supposed to do while you guys are gone?”

“Well, while we’re interviewing all the losers,” Brad said. “You guys are going to be getting some video calls from home!”

“Oh, nice!” Will said.

“Yeah, your little sister’s thrilled.” Digit said with a smirk.

"Seriously?" Will groaned. “We don’t get to choose who we call?”

“It’s cute that you thought you would.” Digit said.

“So, tomorrow’s an aftermath special and the rest of us are getting awkward video calls.” Will said. “What does that have to do with my reward?”

“Will, you are familiar with all the losers chilling in loser-land right now, right?” Brad asked.

“Of course, I am.” Will said.

“Good.” Digit said. “Because you have the power to bring one of them back.”

“I… what?” Will’s jaw dropped.

“Surprise!” Brad said. “Aren’t you glad we didn’t tell you that in front of all the others?”

“Honestly, yeah.” Will said.

“Well,” Digit turned away from Will and towards the camera. “How are the losers faring at the Isle of Losers?”

“How many were lost at sea?” Brad waved his hands to make it seem spookier.

“And Will,” Digit turned back to him. “Who are you bringing back?”

“I have to tell you now?!”

“Well, yeah!” Digit said. “We’re leaving in the morning!”

“We were gonna tell you sooner,” Brad said. “But…”

“Let me guess.” Will said. “You forgot?”

Brad turned back to the camera. “Find out next time on…”

“Dude, really?”

“Camp…”

“Total…”

“Drama!”

Chapter 12: The Isle of the Losers

“Welcome back to Camp Total Drama!” Brad said as he steered a boat across the sea. “Last time, our teams competed in their last ever challenge as teams!”

“In tests of each team’s biggest weakness,” Digit peered out of a telescope onto the horizon. “The Populars actually managed to win, for once, also winning them the opportunity to vote off any Freak of their choice.”

“Except for their leader, Ally, after she was the first of her team to complete the final challenge.” Brad continued. “Ultimately, the Populars voted off Dominic in an attempt to weaken Ally’s spirit.”

“Instead of getting rid of an actual threat.” Digit added.

“Yeah, no offense to him, but he didn’t really do much.” Brad said. “Speaking of the Populars, they got into a very heated argument during the last challenge.”

“Britney admitted to backstabbing Ramona,” Digit recounted. “Veronica continued to just be the worst, and the most shocking revelation came when Will confessed that he and Natalia kissed right before he voted her off.”

“And Britney slapped him!” Brad said excitedly.

“The Freaks stirred up some new drama, in their own wholesome way, as well.” Digit said. “While they were sitting in a circle and talking about their feelings, Jesse confessed that he lied to his mother in order to sign up for this show and that he forged her signature on the application forms.”

“Casey also continued to dodge any questions about his personal life.” Brad said. “I wonder if any of the eliminated contestants would know some of his secrets?”

“Good segue way.” Digit said as their boat pulled onto the sandy shore of another island.

“Thanks!” Brad said. “Folks, welcome to the Isle of Losers!”

The beach was mostly plain, save for a few scattered beach chairs. Farther back though, past a few trees, was a large house, clearly made to fit many people.

“These kids are slobs.” Brad said as he picked up an empty bag of chips from the sand.

“Honestly, I was expecting much worse.” Digit said, kicking aside an empty soda can. “Let’s roll.”

Digit and Brad approached the large house, but the front doors burst open before they could even reach them.

“Long time, no see!”

“You’ve been here for less than twenty-four hours.” Digit rolled her eyes. “Less than twelve hours even.”

“I was joking.” Dominic said. “What is this place anyway?”

“The Isle of Losers!” Brad said.

“Yeah, everyone keeps telling me that,” Dominic said. “But no one’s telling me what that means.”

“It’s an isle,” Digit stated. “Where we send the losers to.”

“Isle means island.” Brad whispered.

“Oh!” Dominic said. “That makes sense now. How’s Ally? And the others, but mostly Ally.”

“Asleep, probably.” Digit said.

“Oh, right.” Dominic frowned.

“We’ll catch up more with you later, man.” Brad said. “Where are the others?”

“I think they’re all in the main room.” Dominic said.

“Perfect.” Digit said.

The three went into the house and down a long hallway, opening up into a large room. The room was filled with various multicolored couches and a TV screen stretched across most of the center wall. All of the other eliminated contestants were spread throughout the room, talking to each other. Dominic took a seat at one of the couches and immediately started talking to Peter.

“Hello, losers!” Brad said as he and Digit entered the room.

“Aw, did you two finally get eliminated?” Bree asked with mock pity.

“I wish.” Digit sighed. “We’re here to interview all of you.”

“Interview us?” Clifford’s head tilted in confusion.

“How come?” Floyd asked, tilting Clifford’s head back up straight.

“We needed a filler episode before merge starts.” Digit said. “And guess who’s the perfect filler?”

“Us?” Wendy asked excitedly, almost falling out of her seat. Jared caught her and steadied her back onto the couch.

“That’s right, dudette!” Brad said. “Now who wants to go first?”

“They don’t get to pick who goes first.” Digit said.

“Right!” Brad said. “Who’s going first?”

“The first person who got eliminated.” Digit said.

Everyone turned and stared at Floyd.

“Guilty as charged.” Floyd tried to pop his collar, but only one side popped up.

“Still pushing the cool guy act?” Digit asked.

Floyd scoffed. “What act?” His voice cracked midsentence.

“Okay,” Digit sighed. “Peanut gallery, please take your seats on the right side of the room.”

“And Floyd,” Brad pushed a loveseat and a single chair into the center of the room. “You can take a seat right here.” He patted the chair.

The eliminated contestants sprawled themselves out across various couches on the side of the room and watched as Floyd took a seat in the lone chair. Digit and Brad sat across from him on the loveseat.

“First question,” Digit said. “How does it feel being the first contestant eliminated?”

“It’s fine.” Floyd said nonchalantly. “No big deal.”

Digit and Brad both raised an eyebrow.

“Okay, it sucks.” Floyd sighed.

“Any regrets?” Brad asked. “Things you wish you didn’t do?”

“Like making vaguely homophobic comments to your teammates?” Gavin sarcastically suggested from the side.

Floyd flipped him off without even turning around.

“Ooh, I wouldn’t feel bad voting someone off the first day after that either.” Digit said.

“Yeah,” Floyd sighed. “But trusting Veronica’s probably my biggest regret.”

“I feel like that’s going to be a recurring theme today.” Digit said.

“What was it like being the first one at the Isle of Losers?” Brad asked.

“Well, actually-”

“He wasn’t!”

Clifford abandoned his seat to the side and joined Floyd, the large football player glomping the smaller “bad boy” into a tight hug.

“Hey, Cliff.” Floyd choked out.

“Hi, Floyd!” Clifford smiled.

“What do you mean he wasn’t?” Digit asked.

“Well, I was.” Clifford said.

“What do you mean you were??” Brad asked.

“When I got here, no one else was here!” Clifford explained. “It was really scary, so I made myself a fort out of canoes.”

“Naturally.” Digit said before turning back to Floyd. “You actually got lost at sea?”

“Yes!” Floyd said. “You didn’t give any directions!”

“He has a point.” Natalia said. “It’s a miracle only one person got lost on the way here.”

“And that it was someone as unimportant as Floyd.” Bree added, making Natalia and a few others laugh.

“Hey!” Floyd yelled.

“Order in the court!” Brad said. “I want to hear what happened next in Clifford’s fort of canoes.”

“Thanks!” Clifford said. “So, I waited in my canoe fort until the next canoe washed up on shore… And then I jumped out and said ‘Who are you?!’”

“And then I said,” Wendy piped in. “‘Aah!’ and fell into the ocean.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Brad said to Floyd. “You still didn’t make it by then?”

“And you,” Digit said to Clifford. “Stayed in your canoe fort for a full day?”

“It did smell a little like pee when I got there…” Wendy shuddered.

“What happened next?” Brad asked.

“Well, I helped Wendy out of the water,” Clifford continued. “And brought her into my canoe fort,”

“That kinda smelled like pee.” Wendy added.

“And we waited for any signs of Floyd.” Clifford said.

“About an hour after I got there, another canoe washed up onshore.” Wendy said. “And Floyd was in there, I think he was unconscious though.”

“I was not unconscio-”

“Don’t worry,” Clifford said. “I gave him mouth to mouth!”

“I don’t think he needed mouth to mouth.” Wendy giggled.

“I did not need mouth to mouth.” Floyd said, finally managing to wriggle free from the football player’s hug.

“Well…” Digit said. “That was quite the story. Sorry you were lost at sea for two days.”

“Whatever.” Floyd shrugged.

“Anyway,” Digit said. “Another thing we’re doing this episode is showing clips of the current contestants’ video calls to home. Any requests on whose you want to watch first, Floyd?”

Gavin and Bree started loudly fake coughing and in between each cough they yelled out “Ramona!”

“Sure, whatever.” Floyd said.

Bree and Gavin both glared at him.

“I mean, Ramona’s cool!” Floyd said defensively.

“Ramona’s super cool!” Clifford agreed.

“Careful.” Bree turned her glare to Clifford.

“Huh?” Clifford asked, genuinely confused.

“Don’t worry about it,” Floyd whispered to him. “Just don’t look her in the eyes.”

“Okay!” Clifford smiled and shrugged.

“Okay,” Digit sighed and pressed a button on her remote control.

The TV screen behind them flickered to life. Half of the screen was of Ramona sitting in the confessional, while the other half was just static. The static side crackled to life and a little girl that looked just like a younger Ramona stood there smiling.

“Ruby!” Ramona’s face lit up.

“Mona!” The little girl, Ruby, could barely contain her excitement.

Once Ruby’s camera focused, it could clearly be seen that she was using a prosthetic leg.

“How are things back home?” Ramona asked.

“Who cares?!” Ruby said. “You’re on a robotic island!”

“Okay, fair point.” Ramona laughed. “But seriously, how are you and mom?”

“We’re fine.” Ruby said. “Mom was a little surprised about, um…”

“Oh,” Ramona’s eyes went wide. “Good surprised or bad surprised?”

“Good surprised!” Ruby said.

Bree and Gavin let out a breath of relief while watching.

“You know you could’ve told us, right?” Ruby asked.

“I know,” Ramona nodded. “I just don’t think I really knew.”

Ruby looked confused.

“You’ll get it when you’re older.” Ramona said.

“Okay!” Ruby shrugged. “Mom really likes your friend, by the way.”

“Really?” Ramona asked.

“Really?!” Bree echoed.

“Really!” Ruby giggled.

“Hey, she said friend, not girlfriend.” Gavin said. “She could’ve been talking about me.”

“Shut up, she’s, like, eight.” Bree said.

Ramona and Ruby continued talking, Ramona repeatedly making sure everything was okay at home, while Ruby rambled on about things an eight-year-old would normally ramble about. Seeing there was nothing particularly interesting being said, Digit pressed a button and turned off the TV.

“Her mom likes me!” Bree cheered, excitedly hitting Gavin’s arm.

“I know!” Gavin swatted back at her. “I was right here when her sister said it!”

“Her little sister’s adorable.” Natalia said, everyone else nodding in agreement.

“Whose call are we watching next?” Clifford asked.

“We’ll see after the next interview.” Digit said.

“Who are you interviewing next?” Clifford asked.

“You!” Brad said. “Go ahead and switch seats with Floyd.”

“Have fun.” Floyd pat Clifford’s back as he got up from the lone chair.

Clifford sat down in the chair, already shaking with excitement.

“We already heard about your time here,” Digit said. “How about your time back at Camp? Any regrets?”

“No,” Clifford shook his head.

“Oh…” Digit said. “Any highlights?”

“Dodgeball was pretty fun.” Clifford said. “But so was the scavenger hunt.”

“Those were the only two challenges you were there for.” Digit stated.

“Yeah!” Clifford smiled.

“Do you have any more questions for him?” Digit turned to Brad. “Because I got nothing.”

“Hmm,” Brad thought about it for a moment. “If you had the opportunity to go back, what would you do?”

“Good one.” Digit said.

“Thank you.” Brad smiled.

“If I went back?” Clifford said. “I don’t really know. It sounds like things are getting a little intense.”

“Are you sad you were the second eliminated?” Digit asked.

“Not really.” Clifford shrugged. “Someone had to be. And everyone else here got voted off too, same as me. Doesn’t really matter when.”

“Wait, did you actually just have an intelligent thought?” Digit asked.

“Did I?” Clifford’s eyes went wide.

“Okay, Cliff,” Brad sighed. “Whose call home do you want to see?”

“I’m not really sure.” Clifford said. “Anyone have any requests?” He turned to the rest of the eliminated contestants.

They all looked around at each other.

“Well, if no one else is gonna say anything,” Dominic said. “Can I request Ally?”

“Aw,” Bree put one hand over her heart and the other on Dominic’s shoulder. “It only gets worse.”

“Aw,” Dominic frowned.

“Sure!” Clifford said. “Ally seems nice.”

“Did anyone ever fill you in on what happened with her?” Digit asked.

“No,” Clifford shook his head.

“Yes, we did, Cliff.” Natalia sighed.

“That was, like, a big detail in Nat’s elimination.” Jared added.

“Oh, yeah!” Clifford said. “That whole story was pretty confusing.”

“Everything’s confusing for you, Cliff.” Natalia rolled her eyes.

“Yeah,” Clifford smiled and nodded.

“Okay, I’m playing the clip now.” Brad said as he pressed a button on the remote.

Ally’s face appeared on screen and on the other side were a man and woman, looking like they were her parents.

“Hi mom and dad!” Ally’s face lit up as she waved excitedly at the camera.

“Hi, sweetie.” Ally’s mother smiled.

Ally’s parents had kind faces, but both of them were currently etched with worry.

“Is everything okay?” Ally asked.

“That’s actually what we wanted to ask you.” Ally’s father said.

“What do you mean?” Ally said. “I’m doing great!”

“Sweetheart,” Ally’s mother said gently. “We’ve been watching the show.”

“And we just want you to know that it’s okay if you’re not doing okay,” Ally’s father continued. “And that it’s okay if you want to come home…”

“What?” Ally gasped.

“What?!” All of the eliminated contestants echoed while watching.

“You guys want me to quit?” Ally asked.

“No, no, no,” Ally’s mother said. “Let’s not use the word quit.”

“You said it’s okay if I want to come home.” Ally said. “That’s quitting!”

“Ally, your mother and I are worried about you.” Ally’s father said. “We think this show may be a little too stressful for you with your… condition.”

“Depression, dad. Everyone here already knows about that.” Ally said. “Look, I know I’ve had some rough times, but I’ve had a lot of good ones too and I made so many great friends! I can’t leave now.”

Before her father could argue, Ally’s mother spoke up. “If you think you’ll be alright, then we won’t stand in your way. Right?” She shot a look at Ally’s father.

“Right.” Ally’s father sighed and nodded. “We love you, kiddo.”

“I love you guys too.” Ally said.

“We’re rooting for you, honey!” Ally’s mother smiled.

“Thanks.” Ally gave a halfhearted smile before the clip crackled out.

“Feel better now?” Digit asked Dominic.

“No!” Dominic said.

“Didn’t think so.” Digit said. “Don’t know why I asked.”

“And on that note!” Brad interjected. “It’s time for our next interview!”

“Wendy!” Digit said. “Come on down.”

“Yay!” Wendy jumped out of her seat and started walking over.

Clifford got up from the interviewee chair and gave Wendy a high-five as he walked past. Wendy returned the high-five…

And tripped immediately afterwards. A few of the other eliminated contestants covered their eyes. Despite the worry, Wendy did miraculously manage to tumble directly into the chair safely.

“Wendy,” Brad began. “You… are a force of nature.”

“Thanks!” Wendy smiled.

“Coming into Total Drama, were you nervous about how your clumsiness would affect your gameplay?” Digit asked.

“Not really.” Wendy shrugged. “I mean, I trip and fall no matter where I go. I might as well make it somewhere fun and exciting!”

“Also pretty dangerous.” Brad added.

“Well, that’s the exciting part!” Wendy said.

“This interview is already knocking Clifford and Floyd’s out of the park.” Digit said.

“Hey!” Floyd yelled while Clifford clapped for Wendy.

“Wendy, give us the answer to the question we’ve been dying to know,” Brad said. “You and Jared?” He winked a couple times.

Wendy giggled. “Yes, Jared and I started dating after we both got voted off.”

A few of the eliminated contestants playfully nudged Jared, who was smiling and lightly blushing.

“Yes!” Brad cheered and then held out a hand towards Digit.

“Stupid love-sick teenagers…” Digit muttered as she slapped a five-dollar bill into Brad’s hand.

“Thank you.” Brad smirked. “And Wendy! How’d it happen?”

“Well, I was feeling pretty conflicted when I first got here,” Wendy said. “So, after Clifford and I made sure Floyd wasn’t dead-”

“I was totally fine-!”

“They actually gave me a lot of advice!” Wendy finished.

“You took relationship advice… from Floyd and Clifford?” Digit asked.

“Yeah!” Wendy said.

Floyd and Clifford gave her a thumbs-up from the side.

“…We didn’t really work things out until Peter got here though.” Wendy admitted.

Peter gave Wendy a thumbs-up from his seat and smiled.

“That makes much more sense.” Brad said.

“We got one last question for you, Wendy.” Digit said. “Do you feel any sort of animosity towards your old teammates after being the first one voted off the Freaks?”

Wendy thought about it for a moment. “No,” She shook her head. “It’s like Clifford said, we all got eliminated, it doesn’t really matter when. And besides, now that I know who else was actually up for elimination that night, I can’t be mad.”

“Damn,” Brad said. “The rest of you better not be so chill about your eliminations.”

“Trust me, the second half of your interviewees aren’t.” Natalia said.

“Oh, that’s right!” Brad said. “Dig, we got nothing to worry about. These three are gonna bring all the drama we need.” He motioned to Natalia, Gavin, and Bree, all sitting together.

None of them looked particularly thrilled.

“Well, none of them are up yet.” Digit said. “So, Wendy, whose call home would you like to see?”

“Dom told us about everything that just happened with Jesse,” Wendy said. “So could we watch his? I’m a little worried about him.”

“As you should be.” Brad chuckled. “And I forgot you guys were friends!”

“Yeah!” Wendy said. “Me, Jesse, and Lyla were together that first day doing the scavenger hunt. Well, until I got lost, fell, and hit my head… But then I bumped into Jared! So, everything happens for a reason.”

“How touching.” Digit put a hand over her heart before pressing the play button on her remote.

Jesse appeared on one side of the screen and his mother, very similar in appearance, but with sharper features, appeared on the other.

“Hey, mom!” Jesse said nervously.

“Jesse,” Jesse’s mother had a stern expression on her face and her arms were folded.

“Oh, he’s a dead man.” Peter covered his eyes.

“Hey, mom…” Jesse repeated even more nervously.

“What were you thinking?!”

“Well, I-”

“You could’ve gotten hurt!” Jesse’s mother continued to lecture him. “You still could get hurt! It must have been all those action movies…”

“I don’t think that’s it-”

“I never should’ve let you leave! I just don’t understand why you’d lie and put yourself in danger-”

“It’s because I’ve never left the house before, mom!” Jesse finally interjected.

“Alright, Jess!” Dominic cheered. The others all shushed him.

“I know you want to keep me safe,” Jesse continued. “But there’s so much I didn’t know. I didn’t even know how to play dodgeball! Well, I still don’t really know how to play dodgeball. It’s a little confusing, but also kinda fun.”

“Yeah!” Clifford cheered.

“Cliff, you got eliminated after the dodgeball challenge.” Floyd said.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t like dodgeball.” Clifford shrugged.

Everyone shushed the two of them.

“Yes, I do remember that episode.” Jesse’s mother said, now much calmer. “I’ve been watching the show, you know?”

“I kinda figured you would be once you found out it was a show.” Jesse blushed.

“I may have deprived you of some real-world experiences. We’ll talk more about this when you’re back home.” Jesse’s mother said. “But you’re still in trouble for lying and forging my signature! That’s illegal, sweetie!”

“That’s another thing I know now!” Jesse said. “One of my new friends told me all about legal documents last night.”

“That’s… nice.” Jesse’s mother nodded.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Jesse said. “You’ve been watching the show?”

“Yes.”

“What do you think about Lyla?” Jesse asked with a hopeful smile.

All of the eliminated contestants leaned in expectantly.

“Lyla?” Jesse’s mother paused and thought for a moment. “She seems lovely.”

Jesse, and everyone watching, let out a breath of relief.

“We’ll talk more about that when you get home too.” Jesse’s mother said.

“Awesome!” Jesse said. “Love you, mom.”

“I love you too.” Jesse’s mother said. “Now be carefu-!”

The screen went dark again as Digit turned it off.

“That went way better than I was expecting!” Wendy said.

“Honestly, same here.” Brad said. “Now let’s see if our next interview is better than expected…”

“Oh, that was a terrible transition.” Digit shook her head.

“Yeah, I didn’t really hear how bad it was until it left my mouth.” Brad said. “Sorry, Jared!”

“It’s okay.” Jared said as he switched seats with Wendy. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before walking (and eventually tripping) back to her place with the others.

“So, Jared,” Digit said. “Did you even do anything other than have that forbidden romance with Wendy?”

“Not really.” Jared said.

“How riveting.” Digit said sarcastically. “Do you wish you did more?”

“I didn’t,” Jared said. “Until you pointed out how little I did.”

“Whoops.” Digit shrugged.

“Were you angry or hurt when your teammates voted you off?” Brad asked.

“A little, but I understood why.” Jared said. “I was distracted and not very useful… But then again, neither was Veronica.”

Jared turned to his three former teammates that were there that night.

“We were giving you a chance at love!” Bree said.

“You were so out of it.” Natalia said. “Didn’t Ramona have to save you from an alligator that same day?”

“And don’t look at me,” Gavin said. “I’m the only one who didn’t vote for you that night.”

“In retrospect,” Natalia said. “We totally should’ve booted Veronica’s ass.”

“Told you this was gonna be a recurring theme.” Digit nudged Brad.

“Well, Jared,” Brad said. “We have one last question for you.”

“If you had the chance to go back, what would you do?” Digit asked.

“I don’t even know if I’d want to go back.” Jared admitted. “Clifford actually had a point, things have gotten pretty intense. Part of me is almost glad I got out when I did.”

“Plus, you’d have to say goodbye to your Juliet all over again.” Brad teased.

“Hey, can I ask you guys a question?” Jared asked.

“Sure.” Digit raised an eyebrow.

“Is there a reason you keep asking people what they’d do if they went back?” Jared asked.

“You know, we figured someone would catch on eventually.” Brad said. “We just didn’t think it’d be the fourth interviewee!”

“Then I guess this interview did go better than expected.” Jared joked.

“Alright, Jared, you did one smart thing, you said one funny thing.” Brad said. “You’re done now, back to your seat.” He started shooing Jared away.

“Don’t I get to pick the next call home we watch?” Jared asked as he was shoved back into the peanut gallery.

“I think you already did.” Digit said as she pressed a button on her remote.

The screen crackled back on and Will appeared on one side.

“Sorry, Nat.” Jared pat her shoulder as he sat back down.

“Whatever.” Natalia rolled her eyes.

On the other side of the screen was a younger teenage girl.

“Who’s that?” Bree asked.

“His fourteen-year-old sister,” Natalia explained.

Megan.” Will and Natalia said simultaneously, despite being in two different places.

“Missed you too.” Megan smirked. “Congrats on actually winning a challenge. For once.”

“Did you just call to mock me?” Will asked. “Because I can hang up.”

“Wait, no!” Megan said, putting on her best set of puppy dog eyes. “You know I only tease you because I look up to you, right?”

Will eyed her suspiciously for a moment.

“No, you don’t!” Will said.

“Well, can you blame me?!” Megan dropped the act. “You’ve been making, like, the worst decisions. There are so many memes of you getting slapped all over the internet right now.”

“Great.” Will said sarcastically.

“Woah, woah, woah,” Gavin said. “He got slapped?!”

“And it wasn’t by Gavin?” Bree added.

“Yeah, it was his sister in-law.” Brad said. “Now, shhh!”

“You take that back!” Gavin yelled as Bree and Jared held him back. The others all shushed him.

“I’m trying to make things right.” Will said.

“Well, unless you can magically undo one of your mistakes and, just for example, bring back an eliminated contestant who you may have wronged, but not as severely as some other remaining contestants have,” Megan said. “Then I seriously doubt you will.”

“I can do exactly that, actually.” Will said.

All of the eliminated contestants gasped.

“Like, exactly that.” Will continued. “That was kinda freaky, if I’m being honest.”

“Wait, really?!” Megan gasped. “They put the ultimate reward of bringing back an eliminated contestant on the table… and gave it to you?!”

“Yeah, I’m hanging up now.”

“Wait!”

“What?” Will sighed.

“Just… don’t screw this up.” Megan said.

“Is that how you freshmen say good luck?” Will joked.

“Do you know who you’re gonna pick?” Megan asked.

“I already did pick.” Will said.

“Well?” Megan asked.

“Well??” The eliminated contestants echoed, all leaning in.

“Well,” Will sighed. “I picked…”

Digit pressed a button on her remote and the screen shut off. The eliminated contestants erupted into protest.

“You seriously thought we were gonna tell you who’s going back right now?” Digit said. “The sooner we finish these interviews, the sooner you’ll know.”

“Can you give us a hint?” Wendy asked.

“I’ll give you a hint.” Brad said. “It’s not you, Wendy.”

“Aw,” Wendy frowned.

“He could be using reverse psychology.” Dominic said.

“You’re right!” Wendy gasped. “I better start packing!”

“No one is packing yet.” Digit said. “Because, again, we have to finish these interviews!”

“Don’t worry, guys,” Brad said. “We’re almost halfway there!”

The eliminated contestants all groaned.

“Well, good thing our next interviewee is the perfect person to lighten the mood,” Digit said. “Peter, come on down!”

“Woo!” Brad started loudly clapping.

“You’re not allowed to have favorites, Brad!” Digit said.

“Oh, come on!” Brad said. “He was so good.”

“Thank you.” Peter blushed as he sat down.

“Peter, distract us from Brad’s blatant favoritism by answering this question,” Digit said. “How long have you been a theater kid?”

“Since my freshman year.” Peter said.

“I’m not playing favorites.” Brad said.

“We’re not talking about you anymore, Brad!” Digit said.

“You’re right, that was rude of me.” Brad said. “Please, go on.”

Digit rolled her eyes. “Peter, what were some highlights from your time on Camp?”

“Well, the talent show was really fun!” Peter said. “Until it wasn’t…”

“Speaking of the talent show,” Brad said. “Your elimination wasn’t exactly typical. What was going through your head that night?”

“I knew I didn’t want to vote Lyla off.” Peter said. “But I didn’t want to leave any of my other friends either.”

“Do you regret sacrificing yourself?” Digit asked.

“No way.” Peter smiled and shook his head. “Lyla and Jesse got together, like, right after I left. I don’t regret anything.”

“But do you ever worry about your trio that you left behind?” Brad asked.

“Of course, I do.” Peter said. “But they still have each other.”

“Yeah, unity in strength!” Brad pumped his fist in the air.

“You mean strength in unity?” Digit asked.

“Next question!” Brad said. “Which one of your friends are you the most worried about?”

“That’s tough. I have been gone for a while.” Peter said. “At first I was the most worried about Quinn for… reasons.”

Everyone turned and looked at Violet, who was sitting off to the side and keeping to herself.

“Whoops.” Violet folded her arms. “Well, you don’t have to stare! Keep going, Peter.”

“Manners.” Peter said.

Please keeping going, Peter.” Violet rolled her eyes.

“Thank you.” Peter smiled. “Of course I was worried about Garret too once Gavin got here, but after Dom filled us in on everything that’s happened with the team since I’ve left… I think I’m the most worried about Casey.”

Digit chuckled a little. “You should be.”

“Excuse me?”

Digit pressed a button on her remote and the screen lit up. Casey was seated at one side, but the other side was still static.

“Oh, don’t tell me no one answered on the other end.” Bree said. “That’s too cruel.”

“If that’s the case, then we’re fighting someone when all this is over.” Dominic said, raising a fist.

“Can I come?” Violet raised her hand.

Peter, and a few of the others, gave her a look.

“What?” Violet said. “You told me to use my violent tendencies for good!”

“That was a suggestion, not an order.” Peter said. “And also definitely not my exact wording.”

“Hey!” Digit said. “Shhh!”

The opposite side of the screen changed from static to a woman sitting at a desk covered in papers and various knickknacks, most notably a leather-bound journal placed at the corner. The woman had unmistakably orange hair, almost identical to Casey’s.

Casey looked very confused, as did most of the onlookers.

“Oh my god…” Peter whispered as he made a sudden realization.

“Casey?” The woman asked. “Can you hear me?”

Casey’s expression suddenly changed, but he still did not respond.

Dominic was the next to gasp. The rest of the onlookers were moving from confused to concerned.

“I know this probably isn’t the best time, but I didn’t know how else to find you.” The woman continued. “I’m your mom, Casey.”

“Woah, woah, woah,” Jared said. “What?!”

“And why are the two of you freaking out?” Natalia pointed to Peter and Dominic.

Digit sighed and pressed the pause button.

“How?” Peter asked Digit and Brad.

“She reached out to us.” Brad said.

“Now I’m really confused.” Clifford said.

“Me too, man.” Floyd said. “You!” He turned to Dominic. “What do you know?”

“Well, not much.” Dominic admitted. “But I do know that Casey practically shut down after Ally asked him about his mom the other night.”

“Yeah,” Peter solemnly nodded. “That’s because his mom left when he was a baby.”

“Oh, sh*t!” Violet said. “Sorry, does being a good person include not cursing?”

“I’d say this is an appropriate time for cursing.” Peter said.

“Okay, good.” Violet said. “Sh*t!”

“So that’s why he’s a little creepy.” Bree said.

“Bree!” Gavin exclaimed. “Not the time!”

“What? I’m speaking from experience!” Bree said. “I used to wake up at 3 am everyday to do my makeup because I didn’t want people to know I had freckles. Stuff like that can f*ck a person up!”

“Doing your makeup?” Clifford asked.

“No, Cliff,” Bree facepalmed. “Having a parent ditch you!”

“Oh,” Clifford nodded. “That’s makes more sense.”

“Do we have to watch the rest?” Peter asked.

“There’s not much left.” Digit frowned as she hit the play button.

Casey still sat on his side of the screen, unmoving. His mother continued to speak.

“I saw you on TV and I wanted to talk to you… I wanted to tell you why I-”

The screen suddenly returned fully to static.

“What happened?!” Wendy exclaimed, almost falling out of her seat again.

“He hung up.” Digit said before turning to the camera. “Well, folks, timing doesn’t get much sh*ttier than that.”

“Sh*t!” Violet repeated.

“Okay, Violet, we get it.” Brad said. “Why don’t you come on down and tell us something that isn’t a string of curse words.”

“I have to go after that?” Violet asked.

“Hey, Peter, what do you theater people say?” Brad asked.

“The show must go on.” Peter frowned, not even moving from his seat in front of the cohosts.

Violet walked over and leaned her elbow on Peter’s shoulder.

“Well, Peter, it seems this first question may pertain to you too.” Digit said. “Violet, have you been taking a path towards redemption since your nearly unanimous elimination?”

“I’ve been trying to turn over a new leaf.” Violet sighed and patted Peter on the back. “Peter’s been coaching me.”

“I’ve been helping too!” Wendy jumped up from her seat and ran over.

Violet caught Wendy as she slipped and almost faceplanted onto the floor.

“See?” Wendy said, still holding tightly onto Violet. “She’s making great progress.”

“Day one, I probably would’ve let you fall and then laughed about it.” Violet admitted.

“I know! I think you did, actually…” Wendy said. “But whatever!”

Wendy pulled out a piece of paper with a drawing of Violet’s silhouette in crayon. The drawing was colored in red from the bottom almost all the way up to Violet’s neck.

“This is Violet’s badness level.” Wendy explained. “It’s unusually high for someone her size.”

“I’m still taller than you.” Violet stuck her tongue out as she pulled Wendy off of her and steadied her back onto the ground.

“That’s not a huge achievement.” Wendy giggled.

“Peter, level with me,” Brad said. “Does Wendy actually help?”

“Yes!” Wendy said.

“Sometimes.” Peter said. “But sometimes she brings out just a little too much… chaos.”

“I think Wendy provides a great balance between niceness,” Violet said. “And chaos.”

“If I were any alignment,” Wendy said with a wink. “It would be chaotic good.”

“Man, I wish you made it farther in the game.” Brad said to Wendy.

“Can’t pick favorites.” Digit reminded Brad.

“Yeah, that’s not very nice.” Violet said with only mild sarcasm.

“Well, aren’t you just a model citizen now.” Brad said, fully sarcastic.

“Violet, what are some of your regrets from your time at Camp?” Digit asked. “Besides the obvious of you pushing Quinn down a hole.”

“I didn’t push her down a hole!” Violet said defensively.

Peter and Wendy both gave her a look.

“I pushed her,” Violet clarified. “And then she fell!”

“Okay,” Peter said. “That’s still bad!”

“I know that!” Violet sighed. “Obviously my biggest regret is being such a jerk, but if I had to pick another… I kinda wish I was nicer to Ally, or at least given her a chance. Other than Peter, she was really the only one who thought there was enough good in me to make it worth keeping me around.”

“Aw,” Peter and Wendy gushed.

“Shut up.” Violet muttered, folding her arms.

“So, would you say Ally’s your pick to win?” Digit asked.

“Nah, my money’s on Wheels.” Violet said.

Peter and Wendy gave her another look.

“Quinn!” Violet corrected herself. “Sh*t!”

“She’s a work in progress,” Peter pat Violet’s shoulder. “But at least she’s working on it.”

“Well, thank you for lifting our spirits after that major downer,” Brad said. “And for picking our next call home to watch.”

Digit pressed a button on her remote and Quinn appeared on one side of the screen.

“Hey, mom.” Quinn said to the woman on the other side of the screen.

“Quinn,” Her mother smiled. “How are you doing?”

“I’m good.” Quinn said. “Where’s dad?”

“He’s at work.” Quinn’s mother explained.

“Oh,” Quinn said. “Have you guys been watching?”

“We’ve been trying, but we haven’t been able to catch much with,” Quinn’s mother paused before sighing. “Work.”

“Oh,” Quinn frowned. “Right.”

A bark came from somewhere behind Quinn’s mother. Gavin jumped in his seat, much to amusement of those sitting near him.

Quinn’s frown disappeared instantly. “Copper!”

“Doggy?!” Wendy gasped as she excitedly grabbed on to Violet, who lightly rolled her eyes in response.

Quinn’s mother leaned down and grunted as she pulled a fidgeting beagle onto her lap. Copper, in addition to having a big happy smile and a wagging tail, also had a pair of wheels attached to his backside, each wheel resting next to one of his hind legs.

“Doggy wheelchair?!” Wendy gasped again. “I didn’t know that was a thing!”

“Oh, that’s precious.” Peter put a hand over his heart.

Now Violet gave a look to the two of them. “Her mom hasn’t been watching the show!”

“But the dog!” Wendy said.

“No, she’s right.” Peter sighed. “Good job, Vi.”

“You know she just doesn’t care about the cute puppy because it clashes with her edgy aesthetic, right?” Wendy said.

“Shut up!” Violet nudged Wendy off of her again.

“All three of you, shhh!” Brad said.

“I don’t know how you manage taking care of this little guy.” Quinn’s mother said, petting Copper as he excitedly licked her. “He can be quite the handful.”

“I take care of him the same way I take care of myself, I guess.” Quinn said. “Except I know how to pee inside.”

“Oh, so does he.” Quinn’s mother jokingly glared down at Copper, who licked her face again in response.

“Well, if you leave him alone all day because you’re busy with work,” Quinn said. “Then yeah, he’s gonna pee in the house.”

“Oh, Quinney,” Her mother chuckled a little. “I promise you we’re not neglecting your dog while you’re away.”

“Yeah, I have to go, actually... We have another challenge today.” Quinn lied.

“Oh,” Quinn’s mother nodded. “Well, good luck!”

Copper barked in agreement.

“Thanks.” Quinn forced a smile before hanging up.

The side of the screen Quinn’s mother was on returned to static, but Quinn remained in the confessional.

“Yeah, you’re not neglecting the dog,” Quinn muttered to herself. “Just me…”

The clip then ended and the screen shut off.

“Eh, workaholic parents still beat absentee parents.” Bree shrugged.

“Facts.” Gavin agreed.

“I’m sorry,” Natalia turned to Gavin. “Did you jump when the dog came out?”

“Oh, you haven’t heard?” Bree asked.

“Please don’t-”

“Gavin’s afraid of dogs!” Bree cut Gavin off.

“What?!” Natalia exclaimed.

“It is a perfectly rational fear!” Gavin said defensively.

“Yeah, when you’ve had a traumatic experience involving dogs.” Bree said. “You haven’t prior to a week ago.”

“And it was so traumatic that it justified a life of fear.” Gavin said.

“While this conversation is so riveting,” Digit said sarcastically. “We do have a show to finish. Peter and Co, please return to your seats.”

Peter, Violet, and Wendy, who had all been at the interviewee chair for some time, turned and started walking back to the rest of the group. Peter and Violet each caught one of Wendy’s arms as she tripped and placed her into her seat next to Jared before sitting back down.

“And now,” Brad began. “The moment you’ve all been waiting for.”

“The only reason most of you probably even tuned in for this filler episode.” Digit added.

“Natalia!” The cohosts both announced.

Natalia rolled her eyes as she trudged to the interviewee chair.

“Well, let’s start off with the obvious,” Digit said. “Your elimination was arguably the biggest blindside of the season so far. Did you have any idea you’d be going home that night?”

“I knew there was a possibility.” Natalia said. “I knew there was a possibility that I’d be the one going home every single time we went to the campfire. But… no, I didn’t think that would be the night. Veronica just seemed like such an easy pick.”

“Almost too easy.” Digit said.

“Clearly.” Natalia sighed.

“Do you regret trusting her?” Brad asked.

“I never trusted her.” Natalia said. “But I kept her around for my own gain. Fitting that that’s the reason I got voted off.”

“So, I take it our very talkative duo over in the peanut gallery filled you in on what really went down the night you were eliminated?” Digit asked.

“Hey, you’re just jealous because we provide way wittier banter than you and Brad.” Bree said, high-fiving Gavin.

“You take that back!” Brad stood up, but was immediately pulled back down by Digit.

“Yeah, Gavin told me everything as soon as he got here.” Natalia said.

“It was either that or let her beat me up with a canoe paddle.” Gavin added.

Natalia just smirked and shrugged.

“Were you angry at Bree and Gavin after finding out the truth?” Digit asked.

“After hearing Veronica blackmailed them and what she was blackmailing them with,” Natalia said. “I couldn’t be mad at them if I tried. Seriously, I tried.”

“And how are you feeling about the fourth person who turned their back on you?”

“…No comment.”

“Is the whole thing that happened between you two public knowledge?” Brad asked. “Or-”

“We didn’t know they kissed!” Gavin and Bree both cried.

“Well, now it is.” Natalia sighed.

“In my defense, I also kinda just got here.” Bree said. “Didn’t really realize that was a secret.”

“Hey, at least they didn’t say who it was.” Brad said.

“Everyone knows who it was!” Natalia put her head in her hands.

“I don’t.” Clifford whispered.

“Speaking of Will-” Digit began.

“Will?!” Clifford exclaimed. “Oh my gosh! Really?”

“Cliff, I’m pretty sure you were one of the ones who knew that already.” Jared said.

“Hold up, you guys told Clifford,” Floyd said. “And not me?!”

“Clifford happens to be an excellent listener,” Gavin said.

“And he forgets everything you say as soon as you say it!” Bree added.

“That’s true.” Clifford said. “What were we talking about again?”

“You’re also still the worst.” Gavin said to Floyd.

Floyd flipped him off and the two immediately began bickering while the rest of the crowd continuing to talk amongst themselves.

“Wow, I guess they really don’t want to know which one of them’s going back.” Brad (loudly) whispered to Digit.

All of the eliminated contestants stopped talking and sat back in their seats.

“Thank you.” Digit said. “Now Natalia, speaking of Will and of his reward, who do you think is the most likely to go back?”

“Well, he’s not gonna bring back any of the Freaks.” Natalia said. “He’s stupid, but not that stupid.”

“Tell us how you really feel.” Brad said jokingly.

Natalia rolled her eyes before continuing. “He’ll probably bring back either Bree or Gavin to try and smooth things out with Ramona. Plus, if Britney really has become as much of a problem as they claim she has-”

“She’s evil!” Gavin exclaimed.

“-Either of them would give him an edge there too.” Natalia continued. “Or…”

“Or?” Digit, and all of the others, leaned in.

“Jared.”

“Huh?” Digit asked.

“Huh??” Jared echoed.

“What? You guys were friends. Kind of.” Natalia shrugged. “You would be a good neutral party with all the drama that’s been going down.”

“Oh,” Jared said. “Thanks?”

“That’s it?” Digit asked. “You don’t have any other predictions?”

“No, I don’t think Will’s gonna bring me back.” Natalia glared at her.

“Hey, if I wasn’t taken,” Bree began.

“Oh no.” Gavin was already shaking his head.

“I’d totally fake date you to make Will jealous.” Bree said to Natalia.

“Thanks so much, Bree.” Natalia said sarcastically.

“You’re welcome.” Bree said with a wink.

“Alrighty then,” Brad said. “If you were in his shoes, who would you bring back?”

“Definitely either Bree or Gavin.” Natalia said. “Probably Bree, just for Ramona’s sake.”

“That’s fair.” Gavin nodded.

“And for Britney’s safety…” Natalia added.

“She’s evil!” Gavin repeated, Bree and Jared both holding him back again.

“After all these interviews though, I do think it would be funny to throw Wendy back in there too,” Natalia said. “Just to see what happens.”

“Yeah!” Wendy smiled.

“So, I take it you don’t share the same suspicions about Britney that some of the others do?” Digit asked.

“Oh, I’m not stupid. I know she was hiding things.” Natalia said. “But I still don’t think she was hiding anything with the intention of hurting people. Britney’s just a little… misguided.”

“Since we’re on the topic of everyone’s favorite blondie,” Digit said, pressing a button on her remote. “I think Britney’s call home may be the perfect clip to watch next.”

“What about me?” Brad pouted.

“What about you?” Digit asked, confused.

“I’m blonde too!” Brad said.

“Oh,” Digit said. “Right.”

“You forgot my hair color?” Brad asked, clearly offended.

“Well, it’s easy to forget when you and I don’t have character bios!”

“What??”

“Um,” Natalia cut in. “Are you gonna play the clip or not?”

“Hey, we’re the adults here.” Digit said. “Don’t rush us, we’re allowed to go on as many off topic tangents as we want.”

“Yeah!” Brad and Digit high-fived.

Natalia rolled her eyes and snatched the remote from Digit’s hand, pressing the play button herself. Britney appeared on one side of the screen and her two dads appeared on the other.

“At least she didn’t lie about having two dads.” Bree said to Gavin.

“They could be paid actors.” Gavin said.

“Okay, now you’re being ridiculous.” Natalia rolled her eyes.

“Hi, dads!” Britney smiled and waved from her side of the screen.

“Britney!” Her dads said in unison.

“How are you doing?” One of her dads asked.

“Are you making friends?” Her other dad followed.

“Yeah!” Britney said. “I’m making tons of friends!”

“And voting them off!” Gavin yelled from the audience.

“Last time I checked, Britney didn’t vote me off.” Natalia said, shooting a look at Gavin.

“Point taken.” Gavin said. “Shutting up now.”

“Good idea.” Natalia smiled at him before turning back to the screen.

“How’s Sprinkles?” Britney asked.

“Sprinkles is doing fine.” One of her dads said. “He’s a little lonely without you though.”

“So Sprinkles the gerbil wasn’t made up either.” Bree noted.

“Britney, we actually wanted to talk to you about something.” Her dad said.

“About what?” Britney asked, twirling a strand of blonde hair around her finger.

“Well,” Her dad said. “We’ve been watching the show.”

“Oh,” Britney said.

“We’re just a little worried about you, sweetie.” Britney’s other dad added.

“I… actually have to go! Busy day.” Britney lied. “But you don’t have to worry about me, I’m totally-”

“Sweetie, we’ve been watching the show.” Her dad repeated. “No, you don’t.”

“Right.” Britney winced a little. “I’m fine though. Really!”

“Okay,” Her other dad sighed. “But just remember, it’s okay to be yourself!”

“Right.” Britney said again, giving a weak smile. “Love you, dads.”

“Love you too, sweetheart.” Her dad said.

“Good luck!” Her other dad added.

The screen went to static and then shut off.

“Aw, her dads just want her to be herself.” Bree gushed.

“Poor thing doesn’t know who that is.” Natalia said.

“I still don’t trust her.” Gavin said. “In fact, I think I trust her even less after that.”

“Well, why don’t you tell us all about that in the interviewee chair, Gavin.” Digit said.

Natalia and Gavin both stood up and switched seats.

“Since we’ve already heard plenty of your thoughts on Britney,” Digit said. “Why don’t you tell us how you feel about another one of your former teammates? One that most of you have been avoiding.”

“Will,” Brad said. “Redeemable or not?”

“Well, we didn’t exactly part on the best of terms.” Gavin sighed. “But from what Bree told me happened after I left and everything else… I still don’t think he was completely mad at me.”

“Then what about your elimination?” Digit asked. “First tiebreaker of the season, by the way.”

“The more I think about it, especially after hearing how Bree got voted off,” Gavin said. “I think one of our more strategic teammates might’ve taken advantage of him after… Well, we already went over what happened the day before.”

“Oh, sure, blame it on Britney.” Natalia rolled her eyes.

“I never said what he did to you was okay!” Gavin said.

“And if you did know about him and Natalia,” Brad said. “Would you have still went to him to vote her off?”

“Definitely not.” Gavin said. “We probably would’ve just gone with our first plan and told him and Nat to vote for Brit.”

“Which we didn’t do because you,” Bree waved her finger at Natalia. “Would’ve asked way too many questions.”

“Fair point.” Natalia shrugged.

“On a lighter note,” Brad said. “How are you feeling about your brother’s chances?”

“Well, I’m super excited he made merge.” Gavin instantly smiled. “Not as excited as I am that he made some friends, though.”

“Do you think there’s a chance that Garret could win?” Digit asked.

“I mean, there’s a chance anyone that’s still there could win.” Gavin said. “But I don’t think Gar’s trying to win, at least to my knowledge. He’s just trying to survive.”

“Speaking of surviving,” Brad said. “Do you think he’ll be able to survive the atomic blonde-shell, also known as Britney?”

“I… still don’t think she has his best interest in mind.” Gavin said. “But he has friends who can help him and also totally vote her off if things go south. So yeah, I think he’ll be okay.”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night.” Digit shrugged.

“Thanks.” Gavin glared at her.

“Do you have anyone in mind that you’d rather see your brother falling for?” Brad asked.

Gavin turned around in his seat and looked at Bree. “I still wish you would’ve let me try and set him up with Quinn.”

“Gav,” Bree started to laugh. “You pitched that idea the same day Violet pushed Quinn… near a hole?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what happened.” Violet said. “Thank you.”

“Still bad!” Peter said.

“I know!” Violet replied.

“All I’m saying is that your timing was terrible.” Bree said to Gavin.

“Hey, I was leaning towards team Garret too during the phobia challenge.” Brad said.

“No, no, no,” Dominic cut in. “That’s not a thing. There are no teams!”

“Dude, you are very passionate about this.” Brad said.

“Well, Casey’s not gonna express his emotions anytime soon,” Dominic said. “So someone has to!”

“Oh, too soon, Dom.” Peter winced.

“Brad,” Digit put a hand to her head. “We’ve already established that you can’t pick favorites, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Then I would hope it goes without saying that you can’t ship the kids!” Digit exclaimed.

“Alright, how about we all take a chill pill.” Brad said. “There’s nothing wrong with some lighthearted, good-natured shipping and- oh my god, who am I?”

“What do you think?” Natalia nudged Peter.

“About what?” Peter asked.

“Well, you’re friends with all three of them.” Natalia pointed out. “Good friends.”

All of the eliminated contestants turned and looked at Peter.

“Okay, first of all, I’ve been gone for a while!” Peter said. “I didn’t realize my friend group became a love triangle.”

“They really didn’t.” Bree said. “Everyone here is just being dramatic.”

“Yeah, guys and girls can just be friends, ya know.” Wendy said while leaning her head on Jared’s shoulder.

Everyone raised an eyebrow at Wendy.

“Okay, bad example!” Wendy said, motioning to her and Jared. “But it’s still true.”

Bree nodded. “As much as Gavin would love to deny it, Garret totally has the hots for Britney.”

“And while I had absolutely no idea that was happening,” Dominic said. “I do know there’s… something going on between Quinn and Casey.”

“You know, if I’m being honest,” Peter said. “I had the same feeling when I was back at Camp.”

“I knew there was no way you ‘accidentally’ made them play Romeo and Juliet in your little play.” Bree smirked.

“Ha!” Dominic yelled, jumping from his seat. “Suck it, Brad!”

“Oh, you want to go?!” Brad stood up from his seat and glared at the much smaller boy.

“Dom, just sit down, buddy.” Peter said gently while Violet forcibly shoved Dominic back into his seat.

“Brad, please don’t hit a kid on live television.” Digit pleaded, pulling him back by the arm.

“Fine.” Brad said, calmly sitting back down. “But only because you said please.”

“Oh god, where were we?” Digit muttered. “Oh yeah! Gavin, whose call home do you want to watch?”

“Can I pick my brother’s?” Gavin asked.

“You certainly can.” Digit said, pulling a laptop out from behind her back and tossing it to Gavin.

“Nice!” Gavin opened the laptop.

“But!” Digit said. “You can’t tell him anything that will help him in the competition.”

“What about-”

Anything.” Digit said sternly.

“Jeez, alright.” Gavin held up his hands in surrender.

The laptop in Gavin’s hands turned on and Garret appeared on the screen, his image also being projected onto the tv screen.

“Hi, Gar!” Gavin waved.

“Gavin!” Garret’s face lit up.

“Garret!” Bree got up from her seat and squished herself beside Gavin.

“Hi, Bree!”

“Hey, Garret!” Peter waved from behind.

“Peter!”

The rest of the eliminated contestants also proceeded to crowd around Gavin to say hi.

“Oh!” Garret’s cheeks were bright red with blush. “Hi, everyone!”

“Do you miss me yet?” Dominic asked.

“It was a quiet night without you.” Garret said. “And Casey said he misses you, but don’t tell him I told you that.” Garret chuckled to himself.

The eliminated contestants all looked back at him with wide eyes at the mention of Casey.

Digit appeared behind the laptop and mouthed “You can’t tell him anything.”

“…Right!” Gavin chuckled nervously as the others began returning to their seats. “So, how are you doing?”

“I’m doing good!” Garret smiled. “I’m actually kind of excited for merge. I wish you were still here though. Or if there was a way for you to come back…”

“You can’t tell him anything!” Digit repeated in a harsh whisper.

“Was that Digit?” Garret asked.

“Yep, she says hi too.” Gavin said. “How much drama have I missed?”

“Not much out of the ordinary, except for Jesse admitting he forged his mom’s signature on his application, but I’m sure Dom’s mentioned that by now.” Garret said. “Ooh, I heard about how Bree got eliminated though!”

“You did?” Bree asked, walking back over.

“Yeah!” Garret said. “Britney told me.”

“Gar,” Gavin said calmly. “What exactly did Britney tell you?”

“That Veronica and Will tricked everyone into voting for different people!” Garret said. “That must’ve sucked, Bree, I’m sorr-”

“Gar, listen to me.” Gavin said, suddenly very serious. “She’s ly-”

The laptop shut off before Gavin could finish his sentence.

“Damn it!” Gavin put his head in his hands.

“I said you can’t tell him anything that would help him!” Digit said, holding a now unplugged wire in her hand. “Telling him Britney’s a liar would’ve helped him the most!”

“You still wanna defend her?” Bree asked Natalia as she pat Gavin’s back.

“Okay, even I have to admit,” Natalia sighed. “That’s bad.”

“Wait,” Gavin said. “Can I just tell him one last thing?”

“What?” Digit raised an eyebrow.

“It has nothing to do with the game.” Gavin said. “Please.”

Digit looked at Brad.

“He said please.” Brad said.

“I don’t know why I even asked for your opinion.” Digit rolled her eyes as she plugged the laptop back in.

Garret reappeared on the screen.

“Gavin!” Garret said. “I thought you left for a second.”

“Couldn’t leave without saying goodbye.” Gavin said.

“Aw!” The eliminated contestants, and Brad, gushed.

“Bye, Gav,” Garret said. “I miss you.”

“I miss you too, buddy.” Gavin said. “Good luck.”

“Thanks.”

“Sidenote,” Gavin said. “You might want to go check on your friends.”

“Why?” Garret asked.

“Well, Digit may murder me if I say,” Gavin said. “But just trust me.”

“Oh,” Garret said, now very confused. “Okay, thanks. Bye!”

The laptop shut off again.

“Nice touch.” Digit said.

“Thank you.” Gavin said as he handed the laptop back to her.

“And now we have our second to last interview,” Brad said. “Bree! Hey, our names start with the same letters!”

“You just noticed that?” Bree asked.

“We’ll be asking the questions, thank you very much.” Brad said. “Did you ever notice that?”

Digit rolled her eyes. “Bree, Natalia’s elimination may have been the biggest blindside, but yours was definitely the stupidest strategy move that somehow still worked. What are your thoughts on that?”

“I’m still beyond pissed about it.” Bree said. “And I wish I had talked to Ramona about the elimination one more time before voting.”

“What were you two doing before voting?” Brad asked. “Making out or something?”

“Maybe.” Bree winked.

“Gross.” Digit said.

“You got a problem with lesbians, Digit?” Bree said.

“No!” Digit said defensively. “I’d say gross if you were making out with a guy too!”

“I’d say gross if I was making out with a guy too.” Bree chuckled to herself.

“Bree, you were keeping a lot of things about yourself a secret at first.” Brad said. “But you’ve always been very open about your sexuality. Any reason why?”

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed,” Bree said. “But I kinda have a compulsive need to flirt with every girl I see.”

“Believe me, we’ve noticed.” Digit said.

“Hey, you miss all the shots you don’t take.” Brad said.

“Exactly.” Bree said. “And I’m not flirting with every girl I see anymore because now I have Ramona.”

“You just offered to fake date me, like, five minutes ago.” Natalia said.

If I wasn’t taken.” Bree said. “Which I am, so ha.”

“Speaking of Ramona,” Digit said. “On a scale of one to ten, how much do you miss her?”

“Eleven.” Bree pouted. “But she can still kick ass without me.”

“Are you worried about what might happen now that the only person left who knows Veronica blackmailed you,” Brad said. “Is Veronica?”

Bree’s eyes immediately went wide.

“Bree,” Gavin said. “You forgot to tell Ramona?!”

“I didn’t forget!” Bree said. “I was gonna tell her, but then you got eliminated… And then I was gonna tell her the next night, but… I got eliminated.”

“Wow, it’s almost like that’s why Veronica wanted you gone.” Digit said sarcastically.

“Shut up, Digit!” Bree glared at her.

“Hey, whoever goes back,” Gavin said. “Please tell Ramona that Veronica threatened to out her.”

“Hold on, I just got here.” Dominic said. “She was gonna what?!”

“Oh, it was wild.” Bree said. “I’ll tell you all about it later, Dom.”

“Speaking of that particularly icky threat,” Brad said. “Did you think she was being serious or just bluffing?”

“Looking back, she was probably just bluffing.” Bree sighed. “Even if she got eliminated, she’d gain literally nothing from spilling Ramona’s secrets. But at the time, it wasn’t a risk I was willing to make.”

“That’s fair.” Brad nodded. “But do you still think Ramona’s gonna be okay?”

“Yeah, I do.” Bree smiled. “She’s a big girl, she can take care of herself.”

“Well, on that sappy note, whose call home do you want to watch next?” Digit asked.

“Who’s even left?” Bree asked.

“Your good friend Veronica.” Brad said with a wink.

“Who else is left?” Bree asked.

“Lyla.”

“Ooh, pick Lyla!” Wendy exclaimed. “I miss Lyla.”

“I miss her too.” Peter agreed.

“Alright, Lyla it is.” Bree said.

Digit pressed a button on her remote and Lyla appeared on one side of the screen. On the other was a woman who looked to be her mother.

“Hey, kiddo,” Lyla’s mother seemed very laidback.

“Hi, mom!” Lyla instantly smiled. “How are things back home?”

“Quiet.” Lyla’s mother chuckled a little. “I guess I’m just used to hearing some kind of music coming from your room.”

“Well, don’t worry, I’m halfway done.” Lyla said.

“Really?” Lyla’s mother said. “I’ve been trying to keep up, but I think I’m a few episodes behind.”

“That’s alright,” Lyla said. “Not a lot of drama has revolved around me lately, thank god.”

Her mother laughed. “I guess that’s in comparison to the talent show episode.”

“Oh, you watched that one.” Lyla blushed.

“Of course, I watched that one!” Lyla’s mother said. “I think I even skipped a couple episodes to get to that one. I must say, that wooden stage suits you way better than your bedroom floor.”

“Hey, my stuffed animals love me.” Lyla said defensively.

“You’ve been playing them the same set for years!” Lyla’s mother said. “Your purple octopus is gonna start using those fuzzy tentacles to throw some tomatoes.”

“Mr. Octogon would never!” Lyla said. “And can we please stop talking about my stuffed animals on international television?”

“Fine, we can talk about your boyfriend instead.” Lyla’s mother smirked.

Lyla blushed even harder.

“He’s sweet.” Her mother said. “A little dumb, but sweet.”

“Mom!”

“What?” Lyla’s mother raised her hands in surrender. “I didn’t say that was a bad thing!”

“Have you watched enough to know who any of my friends are?” Lyla asked.

“I know you have friends, which is great.” Lyla’s mother said. “There’s that perky girl. Is she okay? She seemed pretty upset at the end of… some episode.”

“Oh, Ally. There isn’t really a simple answer to that question.” Lyla said. “Just watch the show, mom!”

“I’m trying!” Lyla’s mother said.

“I know.” Lyla giggled.

“Well, good luck, kiddo.” Lyla’s mother smiled. “Kick some ass.”

“Mom, do you not know how scrawny I am?”

“You don’t have to literally kick someone’s ass, you can do it figuratively-”

“Bye, mom!”

“Bye, kiddo. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

The screen crackled out before shutting off.

“Wow,” Brad put a hand over his heart. “That one was so wholesome, no one even had sh*tty commentary to offer.”

“Thank god for that.” Digit rolled her eyes.

“Which means we’re rolling right along to our final interview!” Brad said. “Get over here, Dom!”

“Woohoo!” Dominic cheered as he jogged over to the interviewee chair.

“Dominic, how does it feel to have been stripped of your comic relief role so suddenly?” Digit asked.

“You say that like I’ve been replaced.” Dominic winked.

“He’s got a point.” Brad said. “I really don’t know who’s gonna be the funny one now. Definitely not any of the Populars, they’re sob central.”

“Not important right now-”

“Jesse?” Brad offered. “But he’s dealing with his mommy issues right now!”

Please don’t call it that.” Digit said.

“But that’s what it is.” Dominic said. “He’s got issues with his mom-”

“Anyway!” Digit said. “Dom, are you worried about Ally?”

“Well, after watching that tape, now I kinda am.” Dominic said.

“How about before that?” Digit asked. “I mean, the main reason you got eliminated was to take her down a peg.”

“Yeah, and it won’t do the Populars any good.” Dominic said. “Sure, I was there for her, but she doesn’t need me. She’s strong enough to handle things on her own. I just hope she knows that too.”

“Aw, how touching.” Digit said unenthusiastically.

“Speaking of romance,” Brad said. “Ally’s not the only one you flirted with during your time at Camp.”

“Casey?” Dominic said. “Nah, man, I was just joking-”

“But you also alluded to not joking a couple times.” Digit pointed out. "And you knew exactly who we were talking about."

“Ooh, and I thought I was the only flirt.” Bree giggled.

“Do you have any idea how crazy people on Twitter went after it was confirmed you’re bi?” Digit asked. “People literally went insane.”

“Almost as crazy as they went after Ramona accidentally started a worldwide rumor that something scandalous happened between Will and Gavin in that elevator.” Brad added.

What?!” Gavin exclaimed in horror.

“Ramona, no!” Bree cried.

“Okay, fine!” Dominic said. “The line between me joking and me actually flirting with Casey was a thin one, but it was nothing serious. And I’m really happy with Ally.”

“Aw!” The eliminated contestants all gushed.

“Plus, Casey would’ve actually killed me if I tried asking him out in front of everybody like I did with Ally.” Dominic laughed.

“Oh, one hundred percent.” Peter agreed.

“People don’t get more different than Ally and Casey.” Brad said.

“He can’t even make a move on Quinn and they have everything in common!” Dominic continued. “Some things are meant to be, and some things just aren’t.”

“You know, no matter how many times you drop some wisdom,” Brad said. “I’m literally never expecting it.”

“I contain multitudes.” Dominic said, leaning back in his chair…

And accidentally tipping it over, tumbling onto the floor.

“Hey, comedic pratfall is my thing!” Wendy stood up from her chair abruptly...

And promptly fell on her face.

“Hey, stop it with the comedic pratfall!” Digit shouted. “We’re literally almost done!”

“I can’t control it.” Wendy said from the floor.

“Man, that kinda hurt.” Dominic said as he got up. “How do you live like this, Wendy?”

“I make it work.” Wendy dramatically swooned, still lying on the floor. Jared chuckled and helped her up.

“Dom, whose call home do you want to watch?” Digit asked.

“Isn’t there only one left?” Dominic asked.

“Oh yeah, you don’t get to have an opinion.” Digit said.

“Well, jeez, you didn’t have to word it like tha-”

“Brad!” Digit said. “Play Veronica’s clip!”

“What’s the rush?” Brad asked. “Also you have the remot-”

“We only have so much airtime, Brad!” Digit said as she pressed a button on her remote.

The screen turned back on. On one side was Veronica and on the other was a teenage boy.

“Who’s he?” Gavin asked.

“Calm down.” Bree giggled.

“Wasn’t asking for that reason, and you’re one to talk.” Gavin said. “Besides, with my luck he’s Veronica’s brother.” He gagged a little at the thought.

“Veronica doesn’t have any siblings.” Natalia said.

“Cousin?” Bree offered.

“How about everyone shuts up so we can watch the last tape!” Digit said.

“Next person to talk gets their interview cut from the episode!” Brad threatened before leaning over the Digit and whispering, “Can we do that?”

“This summer, we live in a temporal world where there are no rules.” Digit said. “We can do whatever we want. But right now I’m gonna hit the play button, so shut up, okay?”

“Okay,” Brad smiled and nodded.

“Hey, Ronnie,” The boy sneered.

“Chad.” Veronica glared at him.

Chad?!” The eliminated contestants all exclaimed.

“Okay, what I said before about cutting your interviews was a test,” Brad said. “And you all failed! That wasn’t even worth the group exclamation, it’s just his name!”

“If the dude’s name got that kind of response, just wait for what comes next.” Digit warned.

The eliminated contestants turned their attention back to the screen, now with piqued curiosity.

“Heard you were screwing things up pretty bad at that dump.” Chad said.

“I can’t be doing too bad if you’ve heard about me.” Veronica’s glare intensified. “Thought you were ‘too good’ for reality television.”

“I said I heard, not that I watched.” Chad rolled his eyes.

“Then why are you even calling me?” Veronica asked.

“What, you don’t miss your boyfriend?”

Boyfriend?!” The eliminated contestants exclaimed.

Ex-boyfriend.” Veronica snapped.

“Ex-boyfriend!” Brad gasped.

“Brad, you knew that already.” Digit said.

“Oh, yeah.” Brad said.

Right.” Chad said, unconvinced.

“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” Veronica folded her arms.

“Don’t kid yourself, Ronnie.” Chad said. “You need me.”

Boo!” The eliminated contestants erupted into angry protest.

“This is why I’m a lesbian!” Bree yelled.

“Bree, not the time!” Gavin yelled back.

“I don’t need you.” Veronica shook her head. “I don’t need anyone.”

“Whatever you say, Ronnie.” Chad said. “You’re still not good enough to make it to the en-”

The screen suddenly turned to static before shutting off.

“Well, that explains a lot.” Natalia said.

“Jerky ex must’ve missed the memo that these calls were getting played on international television.” Digit said.

“On that note,” Brad said. “We’re done with all your interviews!”

“Who’s going back?!” The eliminated contestants all asked.

“We’ll tell you that right after we close the show.” Digit said.

“Then close the show!” Dominic said.

“Well, I don’t want to close it on this note.” Brad sighed. “This would be a pretty sucky ending.”

“You know what else is a sucky ending?” Violet said. “Leaving people on the same cliffhanger for the second episode in a row.”

“Did anyone ask you, Violet?” Digit glared at her.

“So…” Clifford said. “Going away party on the beach?”

That’s why we like him more than you!” Gavin said to Floyd.

“You suck!” Floyd said.

“Me?” Clifford frowned.

“No, Cliff, you’re great.” Floyd reassuringly pat his back. “Let’s go party.”

The eliminated contestants all cheered and left the main room in various clusters. Digit and Brad hung back, Brad pushing chairs back to their original spots, while Digit finished fiddling with her remote.

“They took that… well?” Brad said.

“Eh, it is still Veronica.” Digit shrugged.

“Yeah, but,” Brad sighed. “I don’t know, I just thought at least some of them would care.”

“I think they all care.” Digit put her hand on Brad’s shoulder. “They just don’t want to admit it. They’re teenagers, they’re petty like that.”

“Like we weren’t their age a few years ago.” Brad chuckled.

“We’re still way smarter than them though.” Digit said, sarcastically laughing as she walked out of the room. Brad followed.

Outside on the beach, Floyd and Clifford’s make-shift party was in full swing. Wendy and Jared were sitting on the dock, similarly to how they had at Camp. Natalia, Bree, and Gavin were sitting off to the side talking, away from the others.

Clifford, at some point during his time on the Isle, had set up a makeshift beach bar out of the canoes that formerly formed his canoe fort. Violet and Dominic sat on flimsy wood stools, while Peter, Floyd, and Clifford stood around the canoe table.

“This is a weird group to end the episode on.” Dominic said.

“It’s because we’re the least likely to go back.” Violet said.

“Speak for yourself!” Floyd attempted to pop his collar again, this time the other side refused to pop up.

Violet gave him a look.

“Okay,” Floyd sighed and flipped his collar back down. “We’re the least likely to go back.”

“That’s okay,” Clifford said. “More party for us!”

“Yeah, woo.” Violet said unenthusiastically, staring out at the mostly empty beach.

“Are we seriously considering Wendy as a possibility to go back?” Peter asked. “I thought we were just joking before.”

“Hey, all I know is if I had to pick someone here to go back,” Dominic said.

“It would be Wendy.” Dominic, Violet, Clifford, and Floyd said simultaneously.

“Well, I can’t argue with that.” Peter shrugged. “Personally, I think Will’s bringing back Gavin.”

“No way, you’re just saying that because you want him to go back and save your twin friend.” Violet said. “Obviously he’s bringing back Natalia.”

“I don’t know, feels like that would bring way too much drama with it.” Dominic said. “Bree seems like a safe bet.”

“My money’s still on Wendy.” Floyd said.

“Am I supposed to say I think Jared’s going back now?” Clifford asked.

“Well, do you think Jared’s going back?” Floyd asked.

“No,” Clifford shook his head.

“Then who do you think is going back, Cliff?” Peter asked.

“Me!” Clifford smiled.

“That’s right, man,” Dominic laughed. “Speak it into existence!”

“Who’s actually returning to the competition?” Digit asked as she rose from behind the canoe bar. The eliminated contestants around her jumped back.

“Why is this party even sadder than that lake party you guys had a while back?” Brad asked.

“And is this really a bar with no drinks?” Digit asked, not to the camera, but to the contestants around her.

“You’re gonna comment on that, but not the fact that it’s made out of canoes?” Violet asked.

“No, I commend you on your resourcefulness.” Digit said. “But no drinks-?”

“Anyway!” Brad said. “Find out the answer to at least one of those questions next time on Camp…”

“Total…”

“Drama!”

Trivia

Chapter 1

  • The title “Our Very First Episode” is a reference to the first episode of Full

House titled “Our Very First Show”

  • This cast was originally created by me in fifth grade
    • Jesse, Dominic, Will, and Jared were the only four boys in the original cast
      • After deciding to resurrect this story, I realized that this was insane and changed a

lot of the characters

  • The original title of the story was Total Drama Newbies and was later changed to

Total Drama Revenge of Pahkitew Island, but finally changed to Camp Total Drama

  • Peter wears a t-shirt for the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” because that was the

play I was currently reading in Shakespeare club at my school

    • Peter is also named after a character from the same play
  • Chapters 1 and 2 were originally going to be only one chapter, but they were split up due to how lengthy Chapter 1 was
    • This is lamp shaded at the end of Chapter 1 when Digit and Brad are complaining about how they didn’t know they were having

a two-part special

Chapter 2

  • The title “Our Very First Challenge” is also a reference to the first episode of

Full House titled “Our Very First Show”

  • Chapters 1 and 2’s titles are both references to the same thing because the two chapters

are supposed to be a two-part special

  • The following is a list of all the scavenger hunt items mentioned and what seasons

of Total Drama they’re from

    • Chicken Hat (Season 1, cliff diving challenge)
    • Gemmie Award (Season 2, aftermath recap special)
    • A Pole (Season 3, specifically the one Bridgette got stuck to)
    • Seagull Machine Gun (Season 4)
    • Immunity Idol (Season 4, the one shaped like Chris’s head)
    • Toxic Waste Barrel (Season 4)
    • A Chainsaw (Season 1, from the horror movie challenge)
    • Freebies (Season 1, soda bottles from the final 3 challenge)
    • Sword of Victory (Season 5, finale)
  • It is implied that the noises Wendy gets frightened by are the bear attacking Dominic

and Ally reeving up the chainsaw

  • The main movie Garret is referencing when he starts talking about different cliques

sitting at specific lunch tables is Mean Girls

  • Floyd was originally planned to go farther, but after other character arcs changed,

his was unfortunately cut short

  • Floyd was also one of the later additions to the cast, filling in one of the last

open slots

  • After the elimination ceremony, when all the Freaks are wondering who got eliminated,

they don’t refer to any of the Populars by their actual names. “That girl in green” is Veronica, “the cheerleader” is Bree, “that football player” is Clifford, and “that chick in red” is Natalia.

  • Wendy being roadkill for Halloween once is a reference to a line from the musical 25th

Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

  • Chris’s almost arrest at the end of the chapter was inspired by the pilot episode of

the web-series Camp Camp

    • Digit and Brad were also partially inspired by the counselors in the same show

Chapter 3

  • The title “Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Digit” is a reference to a quote from the

movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story that describes “the five D’s of dodgeball”

    • The title is also a quote from the chapter. Digit begins to reference the five D’s

of dodgeball when Brad cuts her off and unintentionally adds her name to the quote.

  • The past space challenge that Wendy is referencing is the one from Season 2
  • The dodgeball challenge is taken from Season 1, Episode 4, Dodgebrawl
  • The uniforms both teams are forced to wear are also references to the movie Dodgeball:

A True Underdog Story

    • The Freaks wear the uniforms of the Average Joes to signify that they’re the

underdogs, while the much more athletic Populars wear the uniforms of the antagonists, the Purple Cobras

  • The characters actually acknowledge the movie references multiple times throughout the

chapter

  • Clifford is one of the characters that was considered to be the first out, but he was so

likeable that it wouldn’t make sense for him to go before his more obnoxious counterpart, Floyd

  • Clifford was another late addition to the cast
    • Clifford and Floyd were actually made to replace two girls from the drafting stage that

were supposed to be on the Populars named Aubrey and Phoebe, one of them being a control freak and the other being a cheerleader, two roles that were already filled on the Populars

Chapter 4

  • The title “What’s New Piggy-Cat?” is a reference to the song “What’s New Pussycat?”
    • The Salt and Pepper Diner

      The Salt and Pepper Diner

      The idea

of using “What’s New Pussycat?” actually came from a popular John Mulaney skit that is lightly referenced later in the chapter. In the skit, Mulaney has the song “What’s New Pussycat?” play on repeat on a diner jukebox, throwing one play of “It’s Not Unusual” in the middle. Brad starts playing “It’s Not Unusual” in the middle of the challenge.

  • The challenge is taken from Season 6, Episode 2, I Love You, Grease Pig!
    • The challenge is slightly altered, the original having an additional obstacle of

going through a pit of grease. The extra obstacle was cut to make dividing the teams easier.

    • Brad insisting that the obstacle course is an “oof-stacle course” is a callback to

what Chris repeatedly called the challenge

  • Wendy’s original name was going to be Willa, but that was changed due to Willa being incredibly

close to Will’s name

  • Wendy also wasn’t always going to be a clutz, she was originally going to be your

standard shy and nerdy girl, but I felt she needed something to set her apart from the rest of her team

Chapter 5

  • This chapter title "Blue-Bury Pie" isn't a reference to anything, just a play on blueberry pie
  • This challenge was taken from Season 4, Episode 8, The Treasure Island of Dr. McLean
    • In the original challenge, a veteran contestant and an eliminated contestant are buried rather than any actual competitors
  • Peter's confessional about theater being a safe-haven is based off of some of my own experiences
    • The line about wearing sequinned fish onesies while singing "Under the Sea" does not come from a show I have done, but one a lot of close friends of mine did before I started high school
  • Ally's story about her "duck tour" was inspired by a field trip my older sibling went on for school
  • Originally, Gavin was going to recieve individual immunity immediately after the challenge, but I didn't want Jared's elimination to feel too obvious
    • This is kinda lampshaded when Digit and Brad joke about how they were going to give Gavin immunity, but then forgot
  • Jared and Wendy were not originally intended to be early outs when I first made them, but unfortunately for them, not a lot of the other characters were made to be early outs either. I do wish I didn't have to squeeze their love story into so little chapters, but they did set a precedent for the other competitors, which I always thought was a very important element

Chapter 6

  • The title is a reference to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
    • I know I'm probably the only person who'd get that reference but it made me laugh
  • In the early planning stages, Wendy was going to make a guest appearance in the chapter immediately after Jared's elimination, for one final Romeo and Juliet reference
    • In the end of Romeo and Juliet, Romeo discovers that Juliet has died, and so he poisons himself... except Juliet wasn't actually dead. She wakes up, realizes that Romeo has died, and then stabs herself.
    • Wendy was going to come back for the chapter volunteering as an intern, having reconsidered her situation with Jared, and wanting to try and work things out with him. After realizing that he had just been eliminated, she would have left again at the next elimination ceremony
    • As much as I liked this concept, there were a lot of other important character moments going into this chapter, and I didn't want to distract from any of them
  • This challenge was taken from Season 1, Episode 5, Not Quite Famous
  • Both songs Lyla sings this chapter were inspired by a close friend of mine who played the guitar and sang both of these songs at my school's open mic night
  • Dominic's comedy skit comes from an audience interactive attraction at Disney World called Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Veronica suggesting they find Ally's diary is a direct reference to the original talent show challenge
  • Digit telling Peter he only has a minute and a half for his performance comes from a similar line from the Muppet-Vision 3D show (also in Disney World)
  • Originally, they were going to do more than once scene from Romeo and Juliet (one of those scenes being the balcony scene), but after seeing how long the one scene took, the others were cut
  • Out of all of the eliminations so far, writing Peter's probably hurt the most, but it was always planned to go down the way it did
    • Peter's role since the beginning was to bring the less social and more closed off members of his team together, and then sacrifice himself so they could all keep going
  • It feels appropriate to say now that Lyla and Jesse were one of the first couples made for this cast and they were lightly inspired by Gwen and Trent in season 1, because they were one of my first favorite ships <3

Chapter 7

  • The title "Mines Over Matter" is a play on the saying "Mind Over Matter"
  • Both challenges used in this chapter come from Season 4
    • The beach challenge is from Episode 5, Backstabbers Ahoy!
    • The underground mine challenge is from Episode 7, A Mine Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
  • The scene where Will and Natalia's tunnel begins to fill with water is lightly inspired by a similar scene in Tangled
  • Jesse having the random thought of how crazy it would if no one could leave their houses because of a global health issue is a direct reference to the COVID quarantine happening worldwide at the time of this chapter being posted
  • It's not explicitly stated in the chapter, but Lyla is canonically bisexual!
  • When Lyla says "What goes around comes around" after giving Ramona relationship advice, she is referencing how Peter gave her relationship advice in the previous chapter
  • Natalia, Veronica, and Britney's group dynamic is heavily based off of the 80s movie and later popular musical Heathers, which features a trio of extremely popular girls, all named Heather
    • Each of the Heathers have a "signature color" that each member of the Populars trio matches (and if you've seen the movie or the musical, you already know exactly who's who ;) )
  • Originally, Violet was never intended to be an antagonist. She was always going to be snarky and, at times, a little aggressive, but she was never going to go out of her way to harm people. But, once I started actually writing the story, I quickly realized that there was virtually no conflict within the Freaks. So, Violet's character changed and she became the antagonist to Quinn's protagonist.
    • Ally and Violet were originally genuinely going to become unlikely friends, and that's why Ally is the one Violet starts to open up to closer to the end of her run
    • In very, very early planning stages, Violet was actually going to make it pretty far into the competition
  • Violet was also part of the first batch of characters made for this story, along with Ally, Quinn, and others

Chapter 8

  • The title "Flirty Little Secrets" is a play on the All-American Rejects song "Dirty Little Secret"
    • Dirty little secret is also kinda a common phrase, but I mostly based the title off of the song
  • Whenever the co-hosts end a recap with "And that's what you missed on Camp Total Drama!", it's a reference to how all the recaps on Glee would end
  • The challenge used in this chapter is from Season 4 Episode 2, Truth or Laser Shark
    • I did take several of my own liberties with this challenge though
    • In the original challenge, contestants answered embarrassing questions about their own teammates, and this part of the challenge did not last very long. After only a few questions, the contestants collectively quit and had to do an obstacle course instead.
    • The questions also were not arranged into tiers in the original challenge
  • Originally, the hard questions were going to be worth the highest amount of points, but after I finished writing the challenge and tallied up each team's score, the Populars had actually won. So, instead of rewriting scenes from the challenge so the Populars got more questions wrong, I changed the rules so that the easier questions were worth more points.
  • I did do my research about various types of anxiety and depression medications for Garret and Ally's stories, but instead of basing everything off of what I found on Google, I reached out to a close friend of mine who has experience with both
    • In Garret's case, he still takes his anxiety medication daily
    • In Ally's case, she took antidepressants for a time, and then gradually stopped under the close monitoring of a professional
  • In earlier planning stages, Bree was going to be with Gavin when convincing Will to vote off Natalia. It also wasn't going to be told through a flashback sequence, instead it was just going to be a normal scene before the elimination ceremony. But, Natalia's elimination is supposed to come as a big shock, hence the reason why Bree and Gavin don't even consider voting her off when they're first concocting their scheme.
  • Remember in the trivia for the last chapter when I mentioned that Natalia, Veronica, and Britney's group dynamic was based off of the Heathers? Well, in the movie, after Heather Chandler (the leader, whose signature color was red) dies, there's a pivotal scene where Heather Duke (the minion typically looked down upon, whose signature color is green) takes Chandler's scrunchie from her locker and ties it into her own hair, signifying the new shift in power. The scene where Veronica takes Natalia's old scrunchie is modeled after this scene.
    • Heather McNamara (the oblivious blonde, whose signature color is yellow) is also the one to point out to Duke that the red scrunchie belonged to Chandler, similar to how Britney pointed out to Veronica that she had taken Natalia's scrunchie
  • Originally, the ending scenes with Casey and Lyla and Quinn and Dominic were going to get pushed to the start of the next chapter because I expected this chapter to be another that ran long. Surprisingly enough, it's still one of the shorter chapters, even with the extra scenes at the end.
    • For reference, this chapter was a little over 8k words. The talent show chapter was well over 12k.

Chapter 9

  • The title "Behind the Screams" is a play on the phrase "Behind the Scenes"
    • I partially chose this title because this chapter does give a little more background on Digit and Brad
  • This challenge is from Season 1 Episode 7, Phobia Factor
  • Dominic's fear of frogs comes from my own fear of frogs when I was little
  • Ally's fear of the mask from Scream also comes from my own dislike for horror movies
  • On the beach, when Brad says "My work here is done" and Lyla responds "But you didn't do anything", that is a reference to a popular quote from Sailor Moon
  • Ally saying "Please don't kill me, Mr. Ghostface! I wanna be in the sequel!" is a line from the movie Scream
  • Even in the earlier planning stages, when Bree was also going to be there to convince Will to vote off Natalia, Gavin was always going to be eliminated after losing a tiebreaker challenge to Will
  • Britney grabbing Garret and making sure he got to say goodbye was also always planned
  • Fun Fact!: Whenever one of the contestants calls Garret "Gar", they're pronouncing it like "care", but whenever Gavin calls him "Gar", he pronounces it like "scar"
    • There's no real deep reason why, it's just a fun brotherly thing that I liked
  • This chapter is the longest chapter so far, being the first to break 13k
    • Ironically enough, I was having so much fun writing all the scenes with everyone's fears that this chapter took me the shortest amount of time to write, being the first to take me less than a month

Chapter 10

  • The title "Alien Eggs-travaganza" is a play on alien extravaganza
  • This challenge is from Season 2 Episode 2, Alien Resurr-eggtion
  • When Veronica states that in the original challenge the couple was eliminated, she is referencing Bridgette and Geoff, who were voted off in a double elimination after spending the whole challenge making out
    • This is lightly referenced again after Lyla and Jesse are shot with paintballs while kissing
  • In very early planning stages, before Bree and Ramona were even going to be a couple, Bree was actually going to be the first one out
    • Bree was going to find herself in a situation where most of their team wanted to vote her off and Ramona was going to try and "fix it", but ultimately fail
    • This is lightly referenced when Ramona tells Bree she can fix this after she is eliminated
    • Bree's personality in general was originally also very different. Instead of being known as the flirt, Bree was the snitch, and Veronica had yet to be created

Chapter 11

  • The title "There's No I in Reward" is a play on the saying "There's no I in team"
    • Partially because there was a big emphasis on teamwork this chapter, and partially because of all the rewards given out this chapter
  • The first part of the challenge is from Season 6 Episode 5, A Blast From the Past
  • The second part of the challenge is from Season 4 Episode 3, Ice Ice Baby
  • The second part of the challenge and all the rewards were planned from the beginning, but the first part was a late addition to increase the length of the challenge
  • Dominic was one of the first characters made for this story
    • Him and Ally were also one of the first couples made for this story <3

Chapter 12

  • The title "The Isle of the Losers" is a play on "The Isle of the Lost" from the Descendants series
  • Wendy's sketch of Violet's "badness level" is based off a scene from Lilo and Stitch
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.