Rhonda, Jenny and Toby return to their second season with a new eccentric group of teens. These new contestants believe they’re staying at a luxury resort in Brazil...until they’re stranded in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. Who will survive the conditions, the predators, and their fellow explorers to win two million dollars? Will anyone?
Chapter 1 Welcome to the Jungle
The sound of rainfall echoed.
It beat down on everyone and everything, drumming its secret rhythm. Even in the densest part of the jungle, the rain was everywhere.
A large shadow ran by in the distance. The roar of a jaguar was heard seconds later. Little green tree frogs hopped from branch to branch. One tree frog nearly jumped on a dangling sloth.
The sloth barely reacted. Slowly it stirred. It reached for another leave, then returned to its living sleep. It remained undeterred at other noises; howls, croaks, growls, cries, and caws, contributing their own part to the rainstorm orchestra.
The cameraman moved slowly. So distracted, he almost tripped on an overgrown root. He tried to grab a vine to steady himself...but it wasn’t a vine. The emerald anaconda hissed. She and her twenty-foot long body retracted up to the treetops. A glimpse of the still digesting prey in the anaconda’s body was caught, a bulge the size of a human head. The bulge stirred slightly before the snake slithered out of sight.
Cautiously, the cameraman stepped back before turning away. He ran out of the jungle. The sound of rain started to be drowned out by rushing water. It was the world’s largest river; The Amazon.
There was a squeaking. A humongous rodent stopped nibbling on plants growing from the bank’s edge and wobbled off back into the jungle. At the other end, miles across the way, a tapir took a drink from the river. But it was too close to the edge, falling in. In minutes piranhas tore into its body, but left as a black caiman surfaced. Taking the carcass into his jaws, he submerged back into the water slowly.
The cameraman turned; behind him a bush was being chopped apart by a machete. A woman stepped out. She smiled. She was dressed like an old-time adventurer, wearing tan garments and a vest with plenty of pockets. Her brunette hair was done in a ponytail, with a pith helmet or safari hat on her head. Binoculars hung around her neck.
She held out her hand, pointing across the river to a canoe. A young blonde man dressed like an aviator rowed the boat. Beside him, a short redhead dressed in a wide-brimmed fedora and a leather jacket sat idly.
The boat reached the shore and the woman stepped at the helm. She smiled at the camera once more.
“Are you ready for an adventure?”
The cameraman hesitated, before joining her in the canoe. He sat across from her as she winked. Together they rowed down the river, deeper into the jungle. The rain continued to pour.
“I’m your hostess Rhonda,” she explained. “Joining me are my two co-hosts Jenny and Toby. Last time, twenty-two teens battled it out for two million dollars in America’s capital. But now…”
She held out her arms, as if presenting the entire jungle.
“We decided to go someplace a little different,” Rhonda said, pinching her fingers a bit. “Welcome to the largest rainforest in the world! Welcome to... Total Drama: Lost in the Amazon.”
In Brazil, where the outskirts of the Amazon meets the outskirts of the nearest city, there was a remote airport. It was reserved for smaller planes, most days only transporting cargo. That day was different.
A handful of travelers had already arrived on various flights, waiting for others. A little red plane docked, transporting chickens. Stepping onto the runway was it’s only human passenger.
She was a young, Hispanic woman, with caramel eyes and brunette hair in a single braid. She wore an orange dress, looking part evening wear and part flapper costume, that showed off her long legs.
The young woman pushed her way to the front of airport, which was just a raised garage door. She opened her arms as wide as possible while sighing.
“Oh! I’m here!” she exclaimed. “I made it safe and sound. But...where...oh where am I?”
She raised her hand to her forehead and swooned. The worker behind her tapped his foot. She forced a smile before strutting inside.
Fold-out chairs were set out for the passengers. A bearded janitor mopped the floor, though there wasn’t a spill.
The new arrival sighed, scanning the area until she found it. In the back right corner, next to the water cooler, was a little table with a coffee pot and paper cups. She sashayed over and poured herself a cup, adding three sugars.
As she drank, she stared out the window at the airfield. The jungle was close, but seemed distant from across the concrete.
“I don’t believe I’m in New York anymore,” she said. “Where am I? Where did I go when I decided to pack up my bags and leave! Where, oh where-”
The woman turned to see a young man of Indian descent sitting there, looking out the window as well. The young man, like the hosts he had yet to meet, was dressed in adventurer garb; his beige shirt open and exposing his chest. His only luggage was a maroon backpack over one shoulder.
He was knitting a scarf while sipping on black coffee. He stood, taking off his fedora and held out his hand. The woman smiled and shook it.
“Montana,” he replied. “I didn’t mean to interrupt your conversation with yourself.”
“It’s called monologuing,” Cecilia retorted. “Are you sure we’re in Brazil, Mr...Montana?”
The man nodded. “I should know; I flew myself here. I have my own biplane”
“My, my,” Cecilia cooed. “Perhaps I should have flown with you, you mysterious yet intimate man. Are you here for the show as well?”
Montana nodded, returning to his needlework. He patted the seat next to him, which Cecilia took.
“That was the plan,” Montana stated. “but I haven’t heard anything more than ‘wait for more instructions’ since I got here. That was two hours ago. Just sitting around being bored...till a tall drink like you walked in.”
Cecilia laughed. “I bet you say that to all the above average height, perspiring girls you meet.”
“Maybe,” Montana added with a wink.
He turned back to the window, his knee bouncing. “I’m debating about just hoping in my plane and taking off.”
“I don’t like wasting my time,” Montana said. “I could be in Bangladesh or Madeira or Kokomo by now. Doing something.”
Montana turned to her again. He smirked. “You know I could fit two to a seat in my plane. Care to come with?”
“Tempting…” Cecilia replied, “...but I have my reasons for being here.”
“Oh yeah? What?”
Cecilia didn’t respond. She sipped her coffee, staring out the window once again.
In the far left corner, a short blonde boy sat tucked away reading Shakespeare’s Tempest. He wore a sweater vest with a preparatory school uniform, black and green colors. He seemed to be reaching the end of the book.
“Hey, um pardon me…”
The boy looked up to see a brunette girl in blue smiling at him. She pushed up the oval glasses on her freckled face. “I hope you don’t mind, but the airfield is kind of noisy. I was hoping to sit somewhere quieter, and I noticed you were reading here comfortably. Do you mind if I join you?”
The boy shrugged. “Help yourself.”
The girl beamed and unfolded a chair next to him. Taking a copy of Harry Potter out of her bag, she sighed and started reading. The blonde boy turned back to his book…
“I’m Plath by the way.”
Plath pulled out a mason jar from a duffel bag. She held it out and shook it in front of Brantley. “Sweet tea? I promise it’s fresh; brewed it this morning.”
“...I’ll pass,” Brantley replied.
Plath nodded. She took a swig and sighed in relief. Brantley rolled his eyes and turned the opposite direction. They both started to read their books...for a moment.
“It’s crazy to be here, you know?” Plath said. “On a whole other continent? The most exotic place I’ve been to is the Coke Museum in Atlanta. And we’re on TV too! I still can’t believe I signed up for-”
“-Didn’t you move here for the quiet?” Brantley asked.
Brantley forced a smile. “Forgive me. I just recently got a headache. Very recently.”
“Ha ha, I guess I’m just kind of nervous,” Plath said with forced laugh. “Really nervous.”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
“Like I said, this is totally out of my norm,” Plath continued. “I just have to remind myself that everyone is equally nervous. I’m sure you’re nervous too.”
“Not in the slightest,” Brantley replied.
Emerging from the newest plane was a tall, spray-tanned guy in black leather pants. He swaggered in, flashing a smile as he removed his airpods. The first thing he did was throw off his white tank top.
“That’s right! The Circumstance has arrived! Whose ready?”
After a minute, Brantley yawned.
The new arrival frowned. “I’ll come back after you compose yourself.”
Grabbing his luggage, but leaving his shirt, he slunk off to the side. Sitting nearby was a brunette man, dressed a little too warmly for the weather. He was of First Nation descent and wore a maple red shirt that read ‘Tim Hortons’.
“Guess everybody’s got jet lag, huh?”
The Jersey boy snapped his fingers. “I’m talking to you Einstein. Anyone home?”
“Sorry, eh. I was spacing out. I don’t think we’ve met. I’m-”
“-Giovanni,” the spray tan man said. “Jersey represent! I also go by my Soundcloud DJ name, Rocket Power Hour. Totally should hit it up for some killer remixes man.”
“...Norris. Nice to meet ya.”
“So what’s the deal dude?” Giovanni asked. “Why does everybody suck so far?”
“I take it that not enough people are here, eh,” Norris replied. “Not much mingling. A few folks went outside too. We’re all just waiting in a queue.”
“Dude, what’s with the accent?”
Norris blushed. “Was it that obvious? I was trying to play it down, eh.”
“There’s no playing down that, eh,” Giovanni laughed. “What are you, North Mexican?”
“I’m Canuck,” Norris stated. “So what?”
“Canuck! Oh my god that’s classic…”
Norris grabbed Giovanni by his gold necklace and hoisted him up. “I’m not afraid of having a donnybrook ya know. Us Canucks aren’t always as friendly as ya might think…”
“Woah,” Giovanni said. “You lift?”
Norris pouted. “Seriously? Not even a little intimidated.”
“You got a baby face man. But I could use a squatter when we get to this hotel’s gym. What’s your ab count?”
Outside, a lanky teen napped against a shady tree. He didn’t stir in his sleep, but his large, brunette afro occasionally shook.
The boy slowly opened his eyes...to see a large, hairy Asian guy standing over him, watching him intently. The hairy guy dressed in a Bohemian style, with the silhouette of a sea-turtle on his bright green shirt.
The observer placed a finger over the other boy’s lips. The afro started to shimmy and shake until finally…
From inside the afro came newborn chirping. A red-orange bellied bird descended from the tree and flew into the fro.
“Not again,” the lanky teen sighed.
“Again?” The birdwatcher asked. He spoke with a slight Cuban accent. “How often does this happen?”
“There’s a reason I don’t usually go outside...well this and how easily I burn. Also, who are you?”
“Luis,” the gentle giant whispered.
“Zane. So, how long have you been watching me sle-”
The birds began chirping a sweet melody from inside Zane’s fro.
“I thought so,” Luis sighed. “Rufous-bellied thrush.”
From his back pocket, Luis pulled a pamphlet; A Guide To Birdwatching In Brazil. “I’ve always wanted to go birdwatching! I bought this off a worker for twenty bucks and while I was skimming it I saw them, weaving your curls into roost.”
“Seriously, how long have you-”
“They’re Brazil’s national birds,” Luis continued. “Rufous-bellied thrushes. Songbirds too! I can’t believe I’m actually seeing one, can you?”
“I’m not really seeing it,” Zane teased. “Listen, I hate to rain on your parade, but they can’t stay.”
Luis’ face dropped. “Why not?”
“Um...because it’s my head?” Zane replied. “I’m kind of using it.”
“But they just made a new home,” Luis said. “For that baby chick, it’s their only home! You’re not using your hair that much. I bet bird poop would be a great conditioner if you tried it or…”
“Yeah no,” Zane said. “Listen, Luis right? Are you on Total Drama too?”
“Have you ever seen it?”
“A few episodes of last season before I left,” Luis replied.
“I’ve seen every episode,” Zane replied. “More than once...don’t ask me why. Point is, it’s tough. It’s very physical. These birds aren’t going to be safe living in my hair.”
“That makes sense,” Luis admitted with a sigh.
Zane stretched and stood up. Standing on his tippy-toes, he leaned into the tree’s branches and began shaking his head like a shaggy dog. The red-bellied thrushs, along with eggshell remains, twigs, leaves, grass, mushrooms, some spare change, and a slim jim, fell out. The mother thrush responded by flipping him off.
“Did that bird give me the bird?” Zane asked.
Luis watched as the thrushes started to make another nest. Lowering his shirt’s neckline, he tore off some of his chest hair and nestled it against the birds. “There you go; nice and cozy.”
Zane raised an eyebrow and started to back away slowly.
“Olhe para fora!” a worker cried.
Zane turned to see a tree falling right towards him. He tried to run away, but tripped on an egg shell. For a moment, he blacked out...
Zane opened his to find himself bridal-style in a bulging, muscular arm.
“Watch out little man! You were almost deader than disco! R.I.P. BEE GEES!”
“Little? I’m six foot…Humna, humna, humna…”
Looking up at his savior, Zane was left speechless. She was a musclebound giantess, even taller than Luis, wearing blood red tights and a giant gold belt. Her wild mane of reddish-brown hair flowed in the wind. Using one hand, she effortlessly held up the falling tree.
To most, she would seem intimidating. But in Zane’s eyes, little cupids with little afros surrounded her.
“You..you’re so...smell like meat...wait, I mean-”
The giantess gave a hearty laugh. She pushed the tree aside like a house of cards. “HECK YEAH I DO! THAT’S THE HAM’S NATURAL MUSK!”
Luis, finally looking away from the trushes, scratched his head. “The Ham?”
“That’s what they call me...IN THE RING!” the wrestler shouted. “OH YEAH!”
“Why do they call you that?” Luis asked.
“Because my victories are just as savory,” The Ham replied. “And also go amazing with brown sugar!”
“Your muscles...pretty…” Zane mumbled.
“Yeah, and you have great nesting hair,” Luis added.
“THE HAM GETS THAT A LOT,” she yelled. “Now you two kiddos need to be careful, before another tree murders you...to death! Then you wouldn’t get to compete.”
“Tree?” Luis asked. “What tree are you-oh my gosh there’s a chopped down tree! Did you guys see that?”
“I guess it’d be good luck if we got out, huh?” Zane joked.
The Ham did not laugh. “It would be terrible. I want to win, but not like that. The Ham wants a fight.”
With that, the wrestler plopped her new lanky admirer on the ground and waved the boys goodbye.
Zane sighed to himself. “The Ham...isn’t that just the most beautiful name you’ve ever heard?”
Luis shrugged. “If you like thinking of sandwiches or dead pigs. Seriously though, when did that tree fall?”
“Done,” Path sighed as she closed her book.
“Finished already?” Brantley asked.
“I was almost done anyway,” Plath admitted. “And I’ve read the series about a hundred times.”
“Only a hundred?”
“Maybe a little more,” Plath giggled. “Harry Potter’s been my favorite book series since I was a kid. Of course I am a Ravenclaw! Although I was a point away from being a Hufflepuff. So I guess I’m a Ravenpuff?”
“Am I...supposed to know what that means?” Brantley asked.
Plath gasped. “You mean, you haven’t read Harry Potter?”
“I’ve been busy,” Brantley stated.
“But you give off such Slytherin vibes!” Plath said. “I thought for sure…”
“I don’t know what that means and I don’t think I want to,” Brantley replied. “To be frank, I tried to read the first installment before but the author’s style was…less than adequate.”
“I particularly detested her use of adverbs with the past participles in her dialogue,” Brantley stated bluntly. “Simply using ‘said’ is enough.”
“I don’t know if I can argue against that,” Plath admitted. “But I think the story and characters are strong enough. I’d love to read what you suggest though. Maybe we can trade books during the show.”
“If we make it that far,” Brantley said.
Plath forced a laugh. “Yeah...I guess-”
Plath was interrupted by hollering. Seven girls, all wearing navy cheerleaders uniforms that had the letter F embolden in a heart, ran into the airport.
“They didn’t actually cast a cheer squad did they?” Plath asked.
“Must be trying to compete with Sunday night football,” Brantley remarked. “Sex sells after all.”
“All right girls, let’s hit!”
The cheerleaders started waving their pom-poms and chanting. “2, 4, 6, 8, Flynn is really great! Flynn for the win!”
“Cooler than ice!”
“Dresses so nice!”
“Oh so handsome!”
“Worth a king’s ransom!”
“F-L-Y-N-N! Flynn for the win!”
As the cheerleaders raved, the newest contestant strolled in. With jet black hair and an expensive, sleeveless navy blue hoodie, he gave a soft smile. As his pep squad finished their routine, they struck a pose and pointed all their pom-poms at him.
“What a show-off,” Giovanni muttered.
Flynn winked at a tall girl leaning against a pole, her face buried in a newspaper. She didn’t respond. He pouted, but strolled over to Plath and Brantley while his cheerleaders carried his luggage.
“S’up, I’m Flynn.”
“Never would have guessed,” Brantley stated, not looking up from his book.
“Are you all contestants?” Plath asked.
“Nah, just me,” Flynn said. “This is my fan club.”
“You brought your fan club?”
“They just kind of...tagged along.”
“We had to support our boo!” one cheerleader cried.
“Especially before he becomes world famous!” another added.
“I promised I wouldn’t forget about you Stacey,” Flynn said.
Flynn shrugged. “Whatever. Point is you know I won’t forget you ladies. Especially after that routine; it was totally cool, right?”
“If you find superficial narcissism ‘cool’,” Brantley replied.
“Do you...not?” Flynn asked. “I guess it was kind of lame...oh god, I hope they cut it out of the final episode.”
“Sorry Flynn,” one of the cheerleaders pouted. The others hung their heads in shame.
“Wait, are you all dating him?” Plath asked.
“Of course!” a cheerleader replied. “Any member of the Flynn Fanclub mutually dates Flynn...as long as they pay their dues and complete club activities. And are pretty, obviously.”
“We’re going to form a national chapter after Flynn gets famous,” another said. “Maybe an international one. Viewers and contestants can totally join. Only girls though. Sorry blonde guy.”
“There go my hopes,” Brantley replied.
“And you ladies are all okay with this arrangement?” Plath asked.
“Duh! It’s really fun to do this with the others.”
“I never really liked other women,” a cheerleader admitted. “I only joined the club to date Flynn. But I actually bonded a lot with the other gals!”
“Same,” another girl said. “With this club I have a group of strong, supportive women as best friends! All because of one guy!”
The cheerleaders joined in a hug. “Thanks Flynn!”
“You’re welcome,” he replied.
“How feminist,” Plath muttered.
Near the entrance, as another airplane arrived, Norris slammed Giovanni’s arm down in an arm wrestling match.
“****!” Giovanni swore. “Alright, best 11 out of 13!”
“Really, eh?” Norris asked. “I don’t know what you’re trying to prove. You’re clearly strong en-”
“-If you don’t do it, then you forfeit and I win,” Giovanni stated.
“Then I forfeit,” Norris said.
“YES!” Giovanni stated. “Still the undefeated champ of arm wrestling!”
Suddenly, the door was thrown open. An entourage of young men pushed a luggage cart through. Laying on top of it was a beautiful woman, eyes closed, cooling herself with an old-fashioned, purple, silk folding fan.
Her attendants stopped. She clapped once, and waited as they lifted her up onto her feet. She was a well tanned girl, of some kind of Latino origin. Her light brunette hair was flowing and luxurious. The strangest thing was that she wore nothing but a cyan bikini; the better to highlight her buxom figure.
“Woah,” Norris stated.
“Uh, yeah woah,” Giovanni added.
She shooed away the staff. Opening her hazel eyes, she noticed the two boys and smirked, strutting over to them. “Olá. Você parece ser um homem perfeito.”
“I don’t speak Spanish,” Giovanni replied.
“Just a common greeting in my native tongue,” she replied. “Portuguese. I’m hoping you hunks are here for Total Drama?”
Giovanni clicked his tongue and shot her a finger gun. “Duh babe. I’m the token hot guy; I’m guessing you're the token hot chick.”
“There’s no guessing,” she replied. “It's pretty obvious.”
“So you’re Portugullian, huh?” Giovanni asked.
“I’m Brazil born o tolo,” she replied.
“Nice to know I’m not the only foreigner, eh?” Norris stated.
The Brazilian beauty gritted her teeth. “I was under the impression I was going to be the only foreigner on the show.”
“Uh...sorry?” Norris replied.
She forced a smile, batting her eyelashes. “I’ll guess I’ll forgive you since you're so hunky.”
“Hehe,” Norris laughed, wiping his forehead. “We didn’t, uh, catch your name.”
“ Abi-Maria Geralda Sandra Kristie Inês Regina,” she announced.
“That’s...your entire name?” Norris asked.
She nodded. “My fathers wanted to name me after a queen, but couldn’t pick between those names. Since I am the queen to end all queens, they named me after all of them. You can call me by my stage name; Mana Somebody.”
“Stage name?” Giovanni asked. “What like a singer or somethin’?
“Shauhsuahsauhshua!” she laughed. “I’m an internationally famous bikini model.”
Norris gulped. “Ya uh...ya certainly look like you’d be good at it.”
Mana Somebody smirked. “Glad to know you aren’t blind. To tell you the truth, I have so many from my shoots that I practically wear only bikinis! All the time!”
Norris had to physically close his own jaw.
Flynn waited as his cheerleaders brought over a seat, one of the few with cushions. They sighed as Flynn winked at them. He sat down...and the cushion made a squishing, crunching noise. He immediately jumped up. He threw up the cushion to find the seat was crawling with snails.
“What did you do Stacey?”
“Not cool!” Flynn shouted. “This could’ve ruined my designer hoodie. Who's responsible for this lame joke?”
From behind her newspaper, the tall girl snickered. She tiptoed away, tossing aside her paper cover. She was African American, with curly black hair hidden under a beanie and sported a jean jacket and red-violet leggings.
“I just can’t help myself,” she laughed. She spoke with some kind of island accent.
She took a seat in a fold-out chair at the opposite side, her luggage already in place like she had been sitting there the whole time.
“Snails in the chair,” she laughed to herself. “What a classic.”
“Did you know a snail breathes through its foot?”
The tall girl jumped. She turned to see a short blonde girl sitting behind her. She was a mis-matched mess; one ponytail and one braid, lavender overalls over an 80s sweater, and knee high socks with her croc sandals. The short girl stared off into space while twirling a loose strand of hair around her finger.
“How long have you been here?”
The shorter girl shrugged. “I don’t remember.”
The taller teen narrowed her eyes. “You didn’t see anything, understand?”
“I saw lots of stuff,” the blonde girl replied. “I saw that guy enter and that girl. I saw a tree almost maim someone. I saw that creepy janitor who keeps taking photos of us when they think we aren’t looking. They’re doing it right now.”
The two girls looked up to see the janitor snapshotting a photo with a pink cellphone. He forced a smile as he ran away with his mop bucket. Off-camera there was a sound of a crash.
“I saw Rio De Janeiro on my flight over,” she added. “Did you know that Rio has a 98 foot statue that’s struck by lightning several times a year?”
“You talking about Christ The Redeemer?”
“No idea,” the short girl replied. “Didn’t recognize the guy they sculpted.”
“Really?” the tall girl asked. “Who are you anyway?”
“In A Gadda Da Vida,” she stated.
“That’s your name?”
In A Gadda Da Vida nodded. “Mmmhmm. My parents used to be hippies, so they named after this song they really liked on the radio. It played while they were waiting for the bathroom at a truck stop.”
“What do you go by?” the prankster asked.
“In A Gadda Da Vida.”
“So everyone calls you that?”
“They usually use Vida for short,” the girl replied. “Other people can too if they want I guess.”
The taller girl snickered. “I understand the struggle of having weird names.”
“What’s your name?”
“My name is uh...Octasia,” she answered.
“What a weird name,” Vida said. “Weird people usually have weird names.”
“Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black,” Octasia replied.
“Did you know pot roast is the national food of Germany?" In A Gadda Da Vida asked. “Specifically Sauerbraten.”
Octasia slowly began scooting her chair away as Vida spaced out again.
“So there I was, in Idina Menzel’s dressing room,” Cecilia said, in the middle of a story. “Side note: She’s much shorter in person. I was wearing a scullery maid costume and a tube sock. Idina understood, the aloof but personal sweetheart. She was flossing...”
Montana took a long sip of his coffee. “I pegged you as an actress as soon as you walked in.”
Cecilia shifted uncomfortably. “I was.”
“Was?” Montana asked. “Why not anymore?”
Cecilia shrugged. “What can I say, the stage has gotten...boring. I’ve always been big, but the roles have gotten small.”
Montana shook his head. “You sure have a lot of fond memories of it.”
“What about you?” Cecilia asked. “Who is Montana? Why are you sitting here?”
He smirked. “Enjoying the company of course.”
Cecilia laughed. “Of course. But why a reality show?”
“I was also under the impression it was exciting,” Montana said. “Rumors online said we’d live somewhere wild.”
“I hate to disappoint, but I know that’s not true,” Cecilia replied. “I spoke to a producer myself; we had tea at the Silk Road Cafe at 3 am. He assured me we’d be staying at a five-star hotel.”
“Really?” Montana sighed.
Cecilia nodded. “Better to promote some hotel chain or something. I hate to say it, but it might be better if you...dropped out.”
Montana shrugged. “At this point I wish could...but I suppose I have my own reasons for staying.”
Montana smirked. “You tell me and I’ll tell you.”
“Touche,” Cecilia replied. “Well, I hope you don’t die of boredom first.”
“I might,” Montana sighed. “I just wish something exciting or strange would happen already.”
A boy crashed through the airport’s skylight and smashed into a table. His parachute deployed moments after.
Montana shrugged. “I’ll take it.”
Norris was the first to run up to him, trying to check the pulse. “Oh crap! I think he’s hurt! Is there a doctor?”
Cecilia leapt up and shoved Norris aside. “Let me see him!”
“You’re a doctor?” Norris asked.
“Well I’ve played a doctor before,” Cecilia admitted.
She punched him in the pec. “Hmm, his heart should be in this chest cavity. I believe that’s where your spit is also stored…”
Norris looked around the room. “Is there anyone else? Anyone?”
Suddenly, the boy sprung up to his feet. He started dusting himself off as if nothing happened. “That...was...RADICAL! I still can’t feel my face. Or legs!”
Mana pouted. “I was under the impression I’d have the most dramatic entrance.”
“Are sure you’re alright dear?” Cecilia asked.
The African-American boy smiled, revealing his gap tooth. He wore a U.S.A. flag jumpsuit, with a matching helmet. “I’ve never felt better! I can’t feel anything actually.”
“What’s your name?” Norris asked.
“If we need it for your headstone,” Brantley whispered.
“Eddie,” the daredevil greeted. “Friends call me Dead Ed though, so you can call me that too.”
“I was being facetious…”
Eddie walked away, picking glass shards from his hair. “Lucky there was a skylight. Much easier to crash through than a roof…”
“Didn’t you check before you jumped?” Norris asked.
Eddie shrugged. “Nah bruh, takes too much time.”
“We could get some first aid for you,” Cecilia called out.
“Thanks and all,” Eddie replied, “but I saw one of those super tall trees nearby. I want to go climb it, maybe jump off before the party really gets started. Anyone want to join?”
Montana smirked, leaping up. “Sounds like an adventure to me.”
“He should clean his ears,” Brantley said. “It’s a bad idea.”
“I don’t know,” Plath admitted. “It...it kind of sounds fun.”
“I mean we are somewhere new,” Plath said. “For new experiences. When else would we? ...Hey, wait up! I’m coming too!”
“RADICAL!” Eddie said. “Race you dudes there!”
The three ran off out the door.
“Try not to break your necks if you’re on my team,” Mana stated.
Outside, a teenage girl with reddish blonde hair and droopy amber eyes had her back against the wall, her hands stuffed in her dark yellow jacket.
She didn’t react as obnoxious hip-hop music started getting louder. A diminutive boy with his pants sagging and cyan hair under his backwards cap strutted over to her. He walked with one arm lower than the other, and his foot draggin. A boombox he was clearly struggling to hold up was blaring music. He heaved as he dropped it.
“S’up girl; name’s Quinton,” he stated. “My crew calls me Swaggy Q though. Yo fine self can call me anytime.”
The girl didn’t turn to look at him.
“Is you bustin space pants girl?” Quinton asked. “Cause yo' butt is outta dis world!”
The girl still didn’t move.
“Yo, you gots a bandage, girl?” Quinton tried again. “Cause I scraped my knee fallin fo' you!”
After a moment he added, “I did actually scrap my knee. I mean it was cause my shoes are untied, but baby that’s hip-hop!”
He lifted his dropping pants, revealing a kitty bandage over his knee.
The girl still didn’t react.
“Seriously?” Quinton asked. “Those are some of my best lines! It took me weeks to come up with them.”
She yawned and stretched. Looking to her left, she almost fell over at realizing Quinton was there. “What the heck? Is that a gremlin?”
“Yo!” Quinton yelled. “What’s wrong? You deaf or something?”
The girl pulled out a hearing aid from her pocket. “I forgot I left this out during the plane ride. Were you saying something kid?”
“Uhh… I just wanted to know your name,” Quinton replied.
“Savannah,” she replied.
“Ooh, smooth Savannah,” Quinton said, holding out the S-sound. “Can I call you Savvy?”
“No,” Savannah stated. “Not ever.”
“I go by Swaggy Q.”
“You shouldn't,” Savannah replied.
“I just wanted to know if you’re a book,” Quinton said. “Because you got fine print written all over you!”
“...And I’m taking out my hearing aid again,” Savannah stated, walking away.
Quinton shook his head. “Some people just can’t handle the thug life.”
He confidently strode away...only to trip and fall. “Oww I tripped on my shoelaces and scraped my knee again!”
Another plane arrived.
Skipping down the steps was a short African-American girl, the shortest contestant this season, dressed in all pink rain gear. She hopped over to workers unloading cargo, including her pink luggage. But she wasn’t alone.
Exiting the plane behind her was a mild-mannered man. The Hispanic young man was muscular and broad-shouldered, so much that his gray suit was tight on him; with his matching hat he looked like a reporter from the forties or fifties. He carried a briefcase. He pushed up his thick glasses as he marched down the steps.
“Pardon me miss,” he said. “Did you lose your parents?”
The first arrival didn’t turn around. “No; did you lose yours?”
The man stepped back. “Um...no. Where are your folks then?”
“At home,” she replied. “Probably watching Hot In Cleveland reruns or something.”
“Aren’t you a little young to be on your own?” he asked.
“I’m sixteen,” she stated.
“Oh. My apologies miss, I didn’t mean to offend-”
“You weren’t,” she replied, “just annoying me.”
“What’s your name?”
“I’m Tim Tennison.”
“I didn’t ask.”
Dolly turned to look at him. “What’s in the briefcase?”
“Oh nothing,” Tim replied. “Not a single thing. Nothing at all.”
Dolly raised an eyebrow. “Then why are you carrying it?”
“Oh,” Tim replied. “I mean, it has clothes, my toothbrush. That kind of normal, average stuff.”
“That’s all your luggage?” Dolly asked.
“I had...other cargo,” Tim said. “It was transported separately. Must have gotten misplaced or something. No idea where it is.”
Dolly raised an eyebrow. “Sounds fake, but okay.”
“Suit, tie, briefcase...that’s got to be some kind of government agent!”
From nearby bushes, a stranger watched the newest arrivals. He was a tall, dark-skinned guy wearing a trench coat over his otherwise all black clothing and a tinfoil fedora. Huge bags hung under his eyes, a clear sign of lacking sleep. He was taking notes in a sketchpad.
“A teen government spy,” he whispered to himself. “They’re recruiting younger...or they raised him as an agent. He was probably born from a business baby test tube! Gave him baby stationary and everything. Who knows what genes they used; I can see some Nixon and Taft for sure. Of course the government would create human child farms...is there no end to their evil!”
He started jotting down more notes, including a crude sketch of a test tube baby in a tie.
“But what does he want with the girl?” he asked himself, flipping through his notes. “She’s probably some kind of Fae; that’s why she’s so short and looks young. She must be representing the Jolly Green Giant’s fairy army; the pink is just to throw us off. Or she’s a prepubescent Mothman...a Slug Caterpillar Teen. This show is even more connected to the Conspiracy than you thought Welker…”
As Welker continued to spy on Dolly and Tim, he remained unaware that the janitor was spying on him…
Inside, most everyone was chatting with someone, wondering when they’d be leaving.
“I can’t believe it,” Octasia gasped. “Aren’t you the WTH championship winner?”
“READ THE HAM’S CHAMPIONSHIP BELT!” The Ham growled. “I ripped it from the Mortician’s cold, dead, pelvis after I choke-holded him with my THUNDEROUS THIGHS.”
“I saw!” Octasia exclaimed. “What a match. I can’t believe the show actually got someone as famous as the Mayor of Slam City.”
“Or that broad from broadway,” Giovanni added.
Mana Somebody crossed her arms. “I was under the impression I was going to be the most famous person on this show.”
“I didn’t realize you were famous,” Octasia teased. “You should have told us...what was again? Mary something?”
At that time, the last plane arrived. Unlike the others, it was a sleek silver jet. Workers came, filling three luggage carts with identical black suitcases. Only one person exited the plane.
She strutted up to the entrance in sandal pumps. The girl, named Rubella, was a young, Asian-American woman with her black hair in Cleopatra bob cut. She wore fashionable, silver and black clothing. Everyone went silent as she approached.
She stood staring them down through her designer shades, their uncomfortable faces reflected in the glaring lenses.
Lifting up her shades, Rubella stepped forward. “Hmph. This is my competition?”
She smirked. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m R-”
Her heel snapped. She fell backwards, tumbling out the door. “Ahhhhhh!”
She kept tumbling and tumbling, till she fell face first into a trash can that then started rolling away. “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!”
“...So anyway, what were we talking about?” Octasia asked.
“Me and how famous I am,” Mana Somebody stated.
“Who are you again?” In A Gadda Da Vida asked.
Savannah strolled over to the grass near the airport. On the lawn, was Tim, Dolly and another girl. She was a stringbean girl, biracial, tall, and skinny. She wore a shirt showing five different colored dragon heads. Occasionally, elf-like ears would peak out of her curly brunette hair. When she smiled you could see her braces.
All three were on their hands and knees on the ground.
“Somebody lose a contact?” Savannah asked. “Probably not you Glasses.”
“Is she referring to me?” Tim asked, pointing at himself.
“Are you the only one wearing glasses?” Dolly asked.
The stringbean girl blushed. “I um...I lost my twenty sided dice.”
“Ooh,” Savannah said. “You’re a nerd.”
“Well, I guess…”
“That’s cool,” Savannah replied.
“You think being a nerd is cool?” she asked.
“Doing what you like and being proud of it is cool,” Savannah asked. “Plus, tabletop games aren’t the worst thing you could be doing.”
“Yeah,” Dolly agreed. “I mean at least you’re not writing fanfiction for a cartoon from the mid 2000s.”
“That’s oddly specific,” the stringbean said.
“It was the saddest thing I could think of,” Dolly replied.
Tim shuddered. “That’s the kind of thing that would lead to a life of crime.”
“What’s your name?” Savannah asked.
“Arwen,” the elf-eared girl replied with a smile. “You?”
“Savannah,” she replied. “So how did you lose it anyway?”
“I’ve been carrying it in my pocket,” Arwen admitted. “I’ve had some bad roles recently; carrying it on you is supposed to bring good luck.”
“Losing it is the opposite of good luck,” Savannah stated.
“Tell me about it,” Arwen said. “I was just enjoying a walk when this pink soccer ball nails me in the face. And now I can’t find it.”
“We decided to help her find it,” Dolly stated. “Purely of the goodness of our hearts.”
“Actually,” Tim said, “we were playing-”
“-It was truly a strange and unexplainable accident,” Dolly sighed.
“It’s not that big a deal,” Arwen laughed. “I mean I did want to start a campaign at the hotel if there was enough interest, but it’s not like dice are that expensive.”
“I’m usually here for a new game,” Dolly said, “but doesn’t that involve a lot of math?”
“I mean kind of?” Arwen replied. “There’s your stats and calculating roles, but it isn’t hard.”
Dolly pouted. “That’s a yes. I don’t do math when I’m not at school.”
“If you change your mind let me know,” Arwen said. “I know a lot of campaigns. I can do science-fiction, murder mystery, gothic punk...”
“I took you as a fantasy nerd,” Savannah stated.
Arwen blushed. “Fantasy is my favorite. Before I left I was actually in this cool L.A.R.P.ing campaign where-”
“-Okay, L.A.R.P.ing is super nerdy,” Savannah admitted. “Still better than the fanfiction thing, but…”
Arwen shrugged. “I guess, but it’s super fun!”
“What is L.A.R.P.ing?” Dolly asked.
“Live Action Role-Playing,” Tim answered.
“Do you L.A.R.P.?” Arwen asked.
“Oh no,” Tim replied. “I’ve certainly never been accused of it either… I just mean I’m not at all the type to do something like that.”
“Like what?” Arwen asked.
“You know,” Tim said, “Take on another identity, jump around in a colorful costume, make pretend weapons...I’m just a fellow, average citizen.”
Dolly raised an eyebrow. “Do you always say suspicious things? Or is this something you decided to do for the show?”
The others turned to see Savannah holding a bright green dice in her palm. “Hopefully it brings more luck now.”
“Thanks,” Arwen replied. “I owe you one.”
“If we’re on the same team I’ll remember that,” Savannah said.
The others raised their eyebrows. “Are you serious?”
Savannah shrugged. “I’m joking. Mostly. Just putting it out there. This is a game and it’s started. People are playing it right now.”
“I’m not,” Tim said.
“Maybe not intentionally,” Savannah replied, “But even now you’re making a first impression. What you’re doing now, people may base a decision off of it.”
“She has a point,” Dolly admitted.
“Hopefully the real exciting stuff starts soon,” Savannah said with a yawn. “Faffing around an airport is so boring.”
“If you guys are really bored,” Arwen said, “we could start a campaign now that I found my twenty-sided…”
Arwen looked up to see everyone had disappeared. “I would have taken a no.”
The mysterious janitor tip-toed away into the supply closet. Locking the door behind them, they connected their pink cellphone to a laptop and began uploading footage. “That was too easy. I’ve got the inside scoop and no one suspects a thing!”
The janitor tore off their beard and let down their just shoulder length black hair. She unzipped her gray jumpsuit, revealing her plum dress and knee-high socks.
“My followers are going to get the full exclusive on Total Drama’s newest competitors before it even starts,” she gloated to herself. “I’m such a genius!”
The self-proclaimed genius, Cassidy, adjusted her glasses as she cackled to herself. “My blog is going to triple in followers with photos of videos straight from the set. All I had to do was find the meeting place, arrive a day early, spend the night sleeping in the vents, and impersonate a janitor. Talk about easy.”
Cassidy rapidly typed away at her computer. “Now to add some spice to this news stew. Hmm...Tim and Dolly hooking up? Giovanni and Norris already competing to be the alpha male? Ooh! Let’s add that Eddie, Virginia, and Plath are already forming an alliance, while Plath flirts with both. I can see the headline now; ‘Final Three or Love Triangle?’ Sounds like berries to me…”
The airport’s loudspeaker went off. “All contestants for Total Drama please meet out front immediately.”
“Horsefeathers!” Cassidy sighed. “Oh well, the real fun is about to start…”
Sneaking out through the vents, Cassidy slipped into the crowd with the others. Octasia turned to her.
“I haven’t seen you around,” Octasia stated.
“The name’s Cassidy,” she replied. “I just arrived actually.”
Luis frowned. “Really? I didn’t see a plane.”
Cassidy forced a smile. “I was dropped off at the wrong airport. I had to take a truck here.”
Octasia stared her down. “How strange…”
“You’re kind of lucky,” Luis said. “You missed the creepy janitor watching us.”
“Creepy janitor?” Cassidy asked.
“Oh yeah,” Luis added. “Real creepy! Taking all these obvious photos.”
“Maybe they’re not really creepy,” Cassidy replied. “Maybe they’re just misunderstood, and are actually super intelligent and really, really, cute.”
“Hmm,” Luis said. “Nah, they were creepy.”
“That was amazing!” Plath sighed, picking leaves out of her hair. “I’ve lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains my whole life, but I think that’s my first time actually climbing a tree!”
“Should we tell her she was only five feet off the ground?” Eddie whispered. Montana shook his head.
“Thanks for letting me tag along Eddie,” Plath said.
“I told you to call me Dead Ed,” Eddie said. “All my friends do.”
“I don’t know if I feel comfortable doing that,” Plath admitted.
“Don’t sweat it brah,” Eddie replied. “Life is too short to make enemies. I’d rather make friends.”
“It’s not that,” Plath said. “I don’t like the ‘Dead’ part. Especially if something happens on the show...”
Eddie shrugged. “If I haven’t died yet riding motorcycles over sharks, nothing’s going to kill me.”
Montana smirked and whispered. “A man after my own heart…”
The twenty-two teens stood at the airport’s entrance. A large, dented bus was parked outside. Toby stood by it. “Everybody get on. Two to seat.”
Rubella threw a banana peel off her shoulder. “Ugh, how far away is our hotel? I need to charge my phone.”
Dolly pinched her nose, whispering, “And take a shower…”
Toby shrugged. “Get on or pay for your own ticket out of Brazil.”
The teens started loading up on the bus. Toby held out his hand as the cheerleaders approached. “Contestants only.”
“We’re like with Flynn.”
“Contestants only,” Toby repeated.
“Listen, we know we’re not competing,” one said. “We just want to cheer him on.”
“We’ll sign waivers!” another added.
“We have enough characters to keep track of as it is,” Toby stated. “We don’t need a bunch of one-dimensional comic relief.”
Quinton walked into the bus while trying to beatbox, accidentally spitting on Rubella’s face.
“Well...more one-dimensional comic relief,” Toby said. “Beat it, or I won’t let your boy toy on either.”
Flynn stopped in the bus’ doorway. “It’s alright ladies. I’ll feel your support the whole time.”
“We’ll miss you Flynn!” they cried.
He blew a kiss at them, before leaving.
One cheerleader ran up and ‘caught’ the kiss in her hands. “Eeeeee! Flynn’s goodbye kiss is mine!”
“Oh my gosh!” one cried. “You got Flynn’s last air kiss.”
“It was my turn!” another added.
“Nobody cares Sasha!”
The cheer squad started tackling and slapping each other as they fought over something that wasn’t even real.
“So much for their female friendship,” Plath said, rolling her eyes.
The last person to step on the bus was a tall, indigenous teenage boy. He had several piercings; a stick through his nose and two sticks through his lips, while blue feathers pierced in each ear. Red face paint zigzagged across his face. He only wore a dark purple loincloth. He forced a smile while waving at the others, before taking a seat at the front.
“Who is that?” Giovanni asked.
“Must be someone from one of the tribes that live in the Amazon,” Montana said. “The show could be doing some kind of opening ceremony with him.”
The boy turned around and pointed at himself. “Kaobawa.”
“Cowabunga?” Eddie asked. “Dude, you go surfing?”
He raised an eyebrow and shrugged. “Yequmamo.”
“Gazuntite,” Giovanni stated.
“He said Yequmamo,” In A Gadda Da Vida said. ““The Yequmamo are one of the many indigenous tribes that have lived in the Amazon rainforest for years; due to deforestation and human development, their numbers are actually under five hundred.”
“How do you know that?” Giovanni asked.
“I read about them,” Vida replied. “I thought I should read a lot about Brazil and the Amazon before coming here; didn’t all of you?”
Many of the contestants blushed.
Toby sighed as the bus drove away. In a few minutes the airport had disappeared from view.
“Isn’t this exciting?” Cecilia asked. “A group of strangers all headed to the same place for their own reasons. It’s like an Agatha Christie novel without the murder. Presumably.”
The bus traveled down a dirt road, kicking up dust as the trees started to grow taller and more abundant. Eventually, the path became bumpier and bumpier as the road became less defined and roots grew through the ground. Finally, the bus halted to a stop.
The contestants rushed out of their seats, grabbing their luggage, talking all at once, asking what they thought it was going to be like or cheering in delight. Shoving, shuffling, pushing, jumping out of that old bus, the teens headed out to see their destination.
In front of them was the outskirts of the jungle; no five star resort, no hotel, no civilization anywhere.
“Where is it?” Rubella sneered.
“Is this a trap?” Welker asked.
“Maybe it's in the jungle,” Arwen suggested.
“It is the jungle.”
The teens turned to face their hostess. Toby walked out and stood behind her with Jenny.
“This season you’re going to be living in the Amazon,” Rhonda stated.
“Aca-scuse me?” Rubella asked. “I was promised a room in a five-star hotel!”
From one of her vest pockets, Rhonda pulled out a contract and read, “Contestants will be staying at a luxury, five-star resort...or an alternate venue chosen at the production team’s discretion.”
Rubella gasped. “But, but, but…”
“Sorry,” Rhonda said smiling. “Truth is, we were going to stay at a five-star resort. However, thanks to some generous donations we were able to change our plans last minute and actually afford the staff and equipment to film in the Amazon!”
“That’s not what my father meant when he gave you money,” Rubella muttered to herself.
“So you mean we’re actually living in there?” Giovanni asked. “With trees and animals and rain and stuff?”
“Yeah,” Rhonda replied. “That’s what a rainforest is.”
They all eyed the Amazon once more; they stood on the last remains of the dirt road, with the jungle merely a few steps away. The jungle seemed to get bigger and bigger in the distance, consuming the area and covering the sky the further and further it went. Bird cries, insect screeches and the occasional growl echoed out of the forest.
“RADICAL!” Eddie shouted.
“Glad to know someone’s excited,” Rhonda replied. “Now then, let’s get to our next surprise. Bring her in.”
From the opposite end, a red-shirted intern drove a jeep from behind a grove of trees. Everyone went silent. All eyes were on the passenger seat, where a young woman sat…
…but everyone could feel this was no ordinary young woman. It wasn’t just the way her dark blond hair caught the radiance of shining sunbeams, elevated by her rose gold ombré. Nor was it her casual, but fashionable, light purple top and blue jeans. Or her dream-catcher necklace. Or even the glimmers in her eyes that were the color of blooming violets. It was just something about her.In the actual episode, the editors added Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz of Flowers” at this moment. The audience heard harp strings when they first saw her, followed by the song welcoming spring as represented by this young woman. The editors claimed it was what they heard every time she entered their field of vision.
She parade waved at the contestants as the jeep approached, now taking the form of Apollo’s golden Chariot of the Sun in their hearts and minds.
“She’s…she’s like an angel,” Zane said. “No…not an angel. That word feels too limiting.”
“Is she even human?” Welker asked.
“Holy Aphrodite!” Tim said. “I feel like I’ve seen her before.”
“Wait a minute…isn’t she that famous film director?” Octasia asked.
“I thought she took gold at the Olympics for bobsledding,” Eddie said.
“Nah,” Quinton said. “I’m pretty sure she’s a world champion gamer.”
“She’s all those things,” Rhonda said. “But so much more. She’s…Jessica Crystal.”
Jessica Crystal stepped out elegantly, like a duo of doves dancing a joyous pas de deux together in perfect harmony.
You might be asking yourself dear reader, “Are these descriptions really necessary?” In your heart, and all your other many organs, you know the answer; yes. For though no conceivable language could capture the feeling of this moment, we must try.
“Hello,” Jessica Crystal said. “I’m Jessica Crystal. I hope we all become good friends.”
“With that, we now have all our contestants,” Rhonda said.
“You mean we have to compete against her?” Savannah asked.
“I was under the impression I was going to be the only hot girl on the show,” Mana Somebody whined. She didn’t notice the many glares she was getting.
“Are there only going to be twenty-three of us?” Welker asked. “There must be an impostor. One of Bigfoot’s spies no doubt.”
“Jessica Crystal makes twenty four,” Rhonda clarified.
“You mean someone is invisible?” Welker asked. “Jokes on them, I have heat-reading goggles.”
“I think she means the tall guy from the Amazon,” Dolly added. “Kaobawa was it?”
Kaobawa smiled softly and nodded.
“Since this is season two,” Rhonda said, “we decided to add two extra contestants as a twist! We just wanted to save the best for last.”
Rubella scoffed, but was drowned out by everyone sighing in awe as Jessica Crystal sneezed.
“I hope she sneezes on my face,” Luis whispered.
Norris nodded. “It would be like being baptized.”
“Please don’t stop the show on my small account,” Jessica Crystal said.
Rhonda sighed, sniffling. “I’m sorry…I just…I just get choked up thinking what your appearance on this show will do for our ratings. Thank you for being here, really.”
“My pleasure,” Jessica Crystal replied. “I’ve never done a reality show before. I’m looking forward to it.”
Most everyone clapped at her words as she joined her fellow competitors.
Rhonda cleared her throat. “Now that we have everyone, allow me to welcome you to... Total Drama: Lost In The Amazon! This season you twenty-four explorers are going on an adventure unlike anything on television! You’ll be living in the Amazon, competing for the grand prize of two million dollars!”
The newly christened explorers cheered and roared.
Rhonda smirked. “So let’s get down to brass tax.”
From the treetops a net full of large, coconut-like fruit fell. It swung and hit Rhonda in the back of the head before dropping beside her.
“Oww... Now, in this bag there are twenty four Brazil nuts,” Rhonda groaned. “Everyone grab one and crack it open.”
Giovanni ran up, grabbing the first nut. He grunted as he tried to rip it apart…and failed.
“It’s harder than it looks,” Giovanni said.
“What?” Dolly asked. “Thinking?”
The Jersey jock rolled his eyes. “Let’s see you do it daffodil.”
Dolly smirked. With a cry of “Ha-cha!” she chopped one in half, spraying herself and the ground with green paint. Giovanni’s jaw dropped…along with the Brazil nut on his toe. The nut broke on impact, splattering Giovanni in orange paint. The others crowded around the pile, taking one.
From the back, Cassidy had secured a Brazil nut in each hand. She scanned everyone. “Hmm…”
“OOH YEAH!” The Ham growled, squashing the nut flat in her bare hands. She doused herself in orange paint.
Jessica Crystal grabbed a Brazil nut and opened it into two perfect halves, each with an equal amount of green paint.
Rubella grinded her teeth. She threw her Brazil nut to the ground...where it bounced back and hit her in the face. It splattered green paint on her dress.
Quinton tried to bite into his nut, but ended up lodging a gold tooth inside it. “Aww man, my cap! I’m going to have real beef with my dentist now.”
He tried to pull it out, only for it to crack. The nut cracked as well, revealing green paint.
Mana Somebody tossed hers against a tree, revealing orange paint. She winked at Norris as he opened his to the same color.
“If your Brazil nut has orange paint you’ll stand to my left,” Rhonda said. “If it has green paint, stand to my right.”
Cassidy studied the two crowds forming. Eventually, she dropped the Brazil nut in her left hand, squashing it with her foot and revealing orange paint. She tossed the other one aside.
Eddie picked it up. He banged it against his forehead, which made a metallic noise in response. He cracked the Brazil nut with his skull, revealing green paint.
“My good ol’ metal plate,” he chuckled, banging his forehead as the others raised their eyebrows.
Rhonda smiled as twelve explorers stood on each side of her. “Get comfortable everyone …because these are your teams!”
She turned to the left. “On the orange team we have Octasia, Cecilia, Giovanni, Savannah, In A Gadda Da Vida, Welker, Heloise, Cassidy, Plath, Zane, Mana Somebody, and Norris. Together you are…The Gregarious Capybaras!”
“A Gregory who?” Giovanni asked.
“Capybaras are the world’s largest living rodents,” In A Gadda Da Vida stated. “They live all over South America in groups, near the water.”
“Oh,” Giovanni said. “Uh, I knew that.”
“Did you know that they’re also called nature’s ottomans because other animals love to sit on their fluffy, barrel shaped bodies?” Vida asked.
Norris scratched his head. “Wait, whose Heloise?”
“The Ham goes by many names,” The Ham answered. “The Ham, Mayor of Slam City, The Shamoness of Smackdowns, The Human Sharknado, The Killer Queen, The Heavy Metal Hurricane of Pain… Heloise is just another. Call me whatever you're comfortable with.”
“They're all so beautiful,” Zane sighed.
Rhonda tossed the team an orange banner with their emblem, depicting a capybara wearing sunglasses.
“Now then,” the hostess continued. “To my right on the green team we have Eddie, Dolly, Luis, Kaobawa, Arwen, Quinton, Montana, Brantley, Rubella, Flynn, Tim…and the Jessica Crystal. You are…The Bootylicious Anacondas!”
Arwen raised an eyebrow. “Who came up with these names?”
Rhonda pouted. “I liked them.”
She tossed them a green banner with their own emblem, depicting a large snake shaking its hindquarters to some kind of beat.
“I’d rather be a ottoman than the butt team,” Octasia teased.
“You’re forgetting we’re the anacondas,” Brantley replied. “You know, the world’s heaviest snake. Known for eating several animals…including capybaras.”
“They also practice cannibalism,” In A Gadda Da Vida said. “But it’s easier to name animals that don’t. In a way its weird humans don’t…”
“Are these teams for real though?” Giovanni asked. “Cause we got 8 girls and 4 guys. Not that I mind. I’m sure the ladies don’t.”
He winked at Cassidy; she moved to the opposite end of the line-up.
“…It just seems a little unfair for voting and stuff, you know?”
“It was a random draw,” Rhonda said. “If it’s not even, it’s not even. That’s just the breaks. All teams are officially final. So maybe don’t let all the girls know they can vote you off, okay?”
The explorers turned as they heard the sound of honking. Jenny and Toby each pulled up in a jeep, color-coordinated and sporting one of the team’s emblems.
“Jenny and Toby will take you to where you’ll be staying,” Rhonda announced. “You can take the time to get to know each other more and rest-up for your first challenge tomorrow. We’ll have your luggage there when you arrive.”
The Gregarious Capybaras loaded up into the back of Jenny’s jeep, while The Bootylicious Anacondas packed in the back of Toby’s.
Everyone was silent as the jeeps drove away, Toby following behind Jenny’s. Eventually they came to a fork in the road and took separate paths. The Capybaras were driven up a long, narrow pathway as The Anacondas went down a winding incline.
Toby turned up the music in the Anacondas’ jeep.
Welcome to the jungle
it gets worse here every day
Ya learn to live like an animal
in the jungle where we play
If you hunger for what you see
you'll take it eventually
You can have everything you want
but you better not take it from me“How subtle,” Brantley stated.
In the Capybaras’ jeep, Jenny blasted the same song.
“Do you think you could turn it down?” Plath asked, as most of them covered their ears.
Savannah closed her eyes, turning off her hearing aid. “Wake me when we get there.”
Jenny turned to face her passengers, grinning ear to ear. “Good luck Capybaras. You’re going to need it.”
“What does that-”
Jenny pulled a lever under her chair; her seat shot off like a rocket. A parachute opened; Jenny waved, floating away.
“What the ****?” Octasia asked.
In the Anaconda’s jeep, Luis pointed up to the sky. “Look at that. That’s not a bird, is it?”
“It looks like Jen-”
“-Try not to die,” Toby said. “ Or do.”
Toby pulled a lever and his chair fired off, before his parachute opened and he hovered away.
“Rude,” Rubella said. “Who’s going to get my bags?”
“I think we have more pressing issues,” Dolly stated. “Like whose driving?”
The Anacondas all looked up front. Their jeep didn’t slow down. It sped up.
Tim threw off his seat belt immediately. Jumping into the front seat, he grabbed the steering wheel. It snapped off. “Uh oh...”
In the Capybaras’ jeep, Heloise discovered the same problem. She tossed the wheel aside, slamming on the brakes. The jeep went faster.
“I knew it was a trap!” Welker cried.
“We’re going to die!” Plath screamed. “We’re actually going to die!”
“I’m too hot to die,” Mana Somebody stated. “Somebody save my life now!”
“I haven’t even kissed anyone yet,” Norris admitted.
Their jeep turned, spinning out of control. They fell off the road and slid down the side of the jungle.
“Everyone stay behind me!” Heloise yelled. She tried to grab all her teammates and shield them behind her body. “It’s going to be a bumpy ride down.”
The jeep spiraled faster, driving further into the Amazon…
Tim wasn’t having an easier time. He pumped the brakes. Nothing.
“This is not cool!” Flynn cried out.
“Are you kidding?” Eddie asked. “This is awesome! EXTREME!”
He laughed and threw up his hands as the others screamed.
Tim sighed, nodding before jumping out of the jeep.
“We lost Tim!” Arwen yelled.
“I think he lucked out,” Brantley gulped.
The jeep sped up faster, headed straight towards a cliff...
You know where you are?
You're down in the jungle baby,
you're gonna die
in the jungle.
Welcome to the jungle.
Chapter 2 Arts and Rafts
Arwen slowly uncovered her eyes. The Anacondas’ jeep dangled over the cliff’s edge...a couple feet off the ground. Right above a deep lake.
Looking over the jeep, she could see everyone’s eyes were closed or covered. Only three people weren’t cowering; Montana seemed calm, Eddie was grinning from ear to ear while jittering in place, and Jessica Crystal sat stoic but well poised.
The jeep jerked backwards. Arwen turned to see a 60s style white convertible towing them. A grappling hook from the convertible’s fender was connected to the jeep’s bumper. Arwen tilted her head; on the side-doors of the car was a logo. A red and a blue M.
She peered at the unusual car, but couldn’t make out the driver. The convertible towed the jeep on stable land, rescinding the chain. It sped off into the jungle.
“Am I dead yet?” Rubella asked.
“We were saved.”
Everyone’s eyes shot open.
Montana jumped out of the jeep. Overlooking the cliff, he shook his head. “I’m guessing we weren’t in any danger at all.”
Eddie sighed. “What a fake-out!”
“Yeah,” Brantley said. “Such a shame we lived.”
“I know dude!”
“Who saved our whack selves?” Quinton asked.
Arwen shrugged. “I couldn’t tell. The car said MM…”
“The important thing is we’re all safe,” Luis stated.
“Hate to burst your bubble but we’re down a teammate,” Dolly said. “Tim; big shoulders, bad fashion. He got thrown out.”
Rubella rolled her eyes. “He should’ve stayed and almost died like the rest of us.”
The Gregarious Capybaras’ jeep wasn’t so lucky, crashing straight into a lake.
Heloise let out a battle cry as she surfaced. The others slowly followed. Heloise scooped out Ina Gadda Da Vida and Zane, throwing them over her shoulders. Dropping them off at the shore, she dove back in to find others.
Soon most of the Capybaras dried themselves off on the shore.
“Ugh,” Cecilia said, ringing her hair. “What a damply dreary mess.”
Norris shook water out of boots. “Beats what I thought was going to happen, eh?”
“Norris is right,” Giovanni said. “I thought you guys were done for.”
“What about you?” Octasia asked.
“I mean I’d have gotten scraped up a bit, but I’d walk it off.”
Giovanni flexed, wiggling his eyebrows at Octasia. She frowned and walked off.
Mana Somebody sprawled out on a rock, starting to sunbath. “Glad I was dressed for a dip.”
Heloise marched up, carrying the last Capybara. She set Savannah down, then shook her mane like a wet dog.
Mana Somebody scowled. “Watch it meathead.”
Savannah yawned, turning on her hearing aid. “Are we there yet?”
“HAHAHAHAHA,” The Ham cackled. “Oh yeah, we’re here. IN THE HEART OF THE JUNGLE! The Ham’s element!”
The Capybaras were drowned out by a roaring sound. A red helicopter appeared, driven by Jenny. She winked as the soaking explorers glared at her.
From speakers outside the copters, Rhonda laughed. “How was your afternoon swim explorers?”
Far away, Toby flew a similar helicopter over the Anacondas and delivered the same message.
“Pretty dry,” Brantley replied.
“Why didn’t you land in the lake?” Toby asked.
“You mean you didn’t save us?” Arwen replied.
“If someone saved you, they’re not staff,” Toby said.
Just airlift us out of here already,” Rubella said.
“I would,” Toby said, “but I don’t want to.”
“You should have seen your faces,” Rhonda teased. “I mean come on, I can’t believe you actually thought you were in danger!”
The Capybaras groaned.
“That’s actually genius,” Octasia whispered.
“I mean did you watch the show before coming out here?” she asked. “We weren’t gonna kill you...that quickly.”
“How reassuring,” Savannah said.
“Just in case it wasn’t clear, your first challenge starts now!”
The Anacondas sighed.
“Not cool,” Flynn said.
“Today’s challenge is a race. You’ll need to pick up three crates hidden deep in the rainforest. Once you’ve found the last crate you’ll race to the finish line. Easy enough for you newbies to test the waters.”
“Finally,” Montana said, “some adventure!”
He looked to the others for cheers. Quinton coughed up a leaf instead.
“We can’t just start a challenge after that!” Plath said. She was clutching her chest, still trying to catch her breath.
“Yeah,” Mana Somebody agreed. “I haven’t even given my first confessional! The public demands it!”
“I don’t have to be there to know some of you aren’t as enthused,” Rhonda said. “You want two million dollars? You have to earn it. This is your journey, so let’s start this game! The first crate, and directions to the others, are in the bottom of the lake you just crashed in. First team to cross the finish line with all its members wins invincibility. Not to mention a great prize.”
Zane raised an eyebrow.
“Losers will wish they had enjoyed their adventure while they could...because one of you will go home tonight.”
Luis gulped. He clutched Brantley, accidentally putting him in a chokehold.
“Oh,” Rhonda said, “and any of you want to give a confessional? You should see a hut nearby.”
The Anacondas looked over the edge; a wood hut with a roof of thatched leaves sat next to the lake.
The Capybaras looked over to their right; there was an identical hut.
“That’s the confessional cam!”
“I wondered why that was there,” Octasia admitted.
Mana Somebody knocked her down as she ran to it’s door. “MINE!”
“You’ll find them throughout the rainforest,” Rhonda said. “These huts are a place to share with the audience what you really feel and think, or just a place to vent. Don’t let appearances fool you; they’re soundproof. What’s said in the confessional, stays in the confessional. ”
“See you at the finish line explorers...if you make it there alive.”
The inside of the hut confessional was a small space, with a natural, wooden-looking interior. Weavings of animals in the Amazon hung on the walls. A bench was built into the wall just wide enough for the biggest explorers to sit comfortably.
Mana Somebody sat legs crossed, waving her fingers at the camera. “I just wanted to thank my two daddies for supporting me! Obrigado pais!”
She blew a kiss. “I plan on making you proud...by dominating this little game. My plan is simple, but effective; flirting. I’m going to seduce all the men, and any interested women, till they’re my little lap dogs. Then I’ll control all the votes. I have the right assets for it after all.”
The Brazilian bombshell readjusted her top as she winked at the cameras.
“I’m ashamed to admit I fell for that runaway jeep gag,” Brantley sighed. “My father taught me to forecast stock markets when I was seven, so I pride myself on my ability to accurately predict. Clearly I underestimated this show’s budget and scope. Now I get to live with severe humidity, constant rainfall, disease carrying insects, deadly predators and a charming group of individuals. I guess I didn’t join this show to have fun…”
“I joined this show to have fun,” Luis said. “I actually saw rumors online we would be in the Amazon! Who wouldn’t want to go to the rainforest? I can’t believe I’m so lucky! I mean I’ll be sleeping with sloths and seeing rare butterflies. Smelling flowers and hearing sounds people will never experience in their life. Everyone seems so friendly and positive too. How could you not be excited?”
“So we’re living in the jungle?” Giovanni asked. “So what? I’m from the concrete jungles of Jersey. What, they gotta bunch of trees here? They can’t even move! There are some big animals or some ****? Newsflash; I’m a beast. They’ll have to learn I’m the new king of the food chain.
He leaned back, putting his feet up at the other end of the seat. “This ain’t a half bad vacation; I’m taking off for school, I’m on a team of babes, plus some cool bros, and I’ll get paid two million for it!”
“Speaking of huts, Jabba the Hutt is a hermaphrodite,” In A Gadda Da Vida stated. “Mmhmm, all the Hutts are. I’ve never actually seen Star Wars. I just read a book on it once. I guess I’m super excited we’re in the Amazon, because I know a lot about animals. Like, did you know that female hyenas have so much testosterone that their hoohas are inside out?”
“You already know me,” Rubella stated. “I’m pretty famous on the Internet. Before this show really starts, let me make one thing clear; I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to win. And those losers? Ha…one by one they’re all going down. Ha ha ha ha ha-ahhhhhhhhhh…”
Rubella swallowed a fly and started choking. She fell to the ground with a thud, hacking up the fly on the camera lens.
“What are we waiting for?” Montana asked the other Anacondas. “Let’s do this!”
“Just one problem,” Brantley said. “According to our esteemed hostess, we need all our team members.”
“You mean without Tim we’re doomed,” Dolly said.
“We’ll have to scour the rainforest for him,” Flynn said. “It could take hours, if we don’t get lost ourselves. He might already be lost and-”
Tim sprinted up to his team. “Golly, is everyone okay?”
“...Nevermind,” Flynn said.
“We’re fine,” Arwen said. “Are you?”
Tim nodded. “I got lucky and landed in a big pile of leaves.”
“Yo, how did you find us so quick?” Quinton asked.
“I uh...followed the sound of a helicopter,” Tim replied. “I'm guessing that's Toby in the distance.”
“Now that we’re all here,” Montana said, “let’s do this!”
The Anacondas rallied a cheer.
The discussion quickly changed to who would retrieve the first crate. Eddie and Montana were eager to volunteer, but Jessica Crystal stepped up to the edge of the cliff first.
Before anyone could speak, she did a swan-dive off the cliff. Three watching macaws held up score cards; each a ten. A perfect score.
In seconds a crate floated to the top of the lake. Jessica Crystal emerged right after, throwing her hair back like a mermaid. All the Anacondas burst into applause... except Rubella. The explorers ran down to meet their teammate.
“That was so cool,” Flynn said. “You did like an expert dive.”
“I was going to be on the U.S. Olympic diving team,” J.C. said. “But I couldn’t compete.”
Rubella smirked. “Didn’t have the nerves?”
“I was actually asked to coach the equestrian and taekwondo team instead,” J.C. replied. “I’ve won gold medals in those same events, so it just made sense.”
The other Anacondas swooned as Rubella stared at J.C. in disgust.
At the Capybaras’ lake, Heloise rose from the water and hauled the crate to the shore. “OH YEAH!”
Attached to the top of the crate was a sealed, waterproof bag containing a map and campus. Norris opened the bag and started to study the map.
“There are three Xs on the map eh,” Norris said. “It looks like we’re here, so we need to head east.”
“Smart,” Octasia said. “How did you learn to read maps?”
Norris blushed. “My dad was a mountie and my mom’s a lumberjack. They taught me how when we’d go camping.”
“Mounties are real?” Savannah asked. “I thought that was just a cartoon thing.”
Norris blushed more.
“We should hurry,” Zane said, “Rhonda mentioned a reward…”
“So?” Savannah asked.
“The way she phrased it,” Zane said, “I hope I’m wrong, but it could be a huge advantage over the team. We can’t risk losing.”
“Good call ‘fro,” Savannah said.
Zane blushed. “Hehehe, she noticed my afro…”
“How do you not?” Welker asked.
“I’m not sure if being one of four guys on a team of hot girls is a dream or a nightmare,” Zane admitted. “I have a bad tendency to crush really fast and really hard. I get really flustered and say stupid things. I hate it…”
He sighed, holding his face in his hands. “But I love talking to them.”
The Bootylicious Anacondas followed Jessica Crystal closely as they traveled through the Amazon. She and Montana went back and forth with the map and campus. Tim followed up the rear, carrying the first crate.
“We’re so lucky to have you on our team Jessica Crystal,” Luis said.
She laughed. “You can all call me J.C. if you want.”
“I’m not worthy,” Luis whispered.
“I can’t believe someone like you is even on a reality show,” Dolly admitted.
“You must really be desperate for cash,” Rubella said, smirking.
“Not really,” J.C. said. “I already made over two million dollars last quarter from my successful business outlets and stock market investments. I’m just here for the experience.”
“She’s like so humble,” Eddie swooned, as the others nodded.
Rubella gritted her teeth.
“I’m known for a lot of things,” Jessica Crystal admitted. “I’m the youngest person to swim the English Channel, the designer and model for most successful sneakers and the first child to go into space. I designed the rocket myself; shiny, glittery, and entirely fuel efficient!”
She giggled, showing her symmetrical dimples. “One thing I haven’t done? Reality television. Someone suggested I try...I can’t remember who though. I’m always wanting to try new things. I want something to really challenge me.”
She sighed, turning her head away while showing her symmetrical dimples. “This doesn’t seem like a challenge. Everyone already likes me. I guess I shouldn’t worry.”
“That Jessica Crystal should worry,” Rubella stated. “Because I, do not like her. She thinks she’s ‘super cool’ just because she has ‘talent’ and ‘skill’. Bleh! Unfortunately for her there’s someone even more talented here. Moi; Rrrrrrubella!”
“I take it this isn’t your first expedition,” Montana said.
“No,” J.C. replied. “I’ve traveled the world. I’ve actually been to the Amazon before.”
“You’re kidding?” Luis asked.
J.C. shook her nod. “I’m not kidding, although I do kidd. That’s why I won a Grammy for best comedy album. I’ve been to the Amazon three times before.”
Eddie hooted and threw up his hands. “Radical! Our team has two people who know the Amazon! Those Capybaras are toast like a poptart.”
Kaobawa blushed as Eddie slapped his back.
Arwen stopped, letting the others pass until she was walking next to Tim. “Hey Arwen. Everything alright?”
“You’re the one carrying an entire crate by yourself.”
Tim shrugged. “Just making myself useful.”
Arwen nodded. “I wanted to ask...do you know who saved us?”
Tim almost dropped the crate, before forcing a smile. “I..uh...no. Why would I?”
“I thought maybe you saw them leaving. Or maybe they helped you.”
“Afraid not,” Tim said, “I didn’t even see a convertible.”
Arwen smiled. “I never mentioned a convertible.”
Tim tried to open his mouth, but Arwen chuckled. “If you do know who saved us...tell them I said thanks.”
Tim stopped and stared as Arwen walked ahead. He shook his head for a moment, but only a moment before heading on.
The Capybaras followed along one of the tributaries of the Amazon River. Plath gasped as a ginormous scaled fish surfaced and started to breathe.
“Are you guys seeing this?” Plath asked.
Ina Gadda Da Vida tilted her head. “I think that’s an arapaima. One of the largest freshwater fish. They actually breathe oxygen.”
Plath knelt down and smiled at it. “And I thought the catfish back home were big.”
Mana Somebody stopped and sniffed. “It’s rather ugly.”
“I think he’s cute,” Plath replied.
“If we’re lucky we’ll see a river dolphin,” Mana Somebody said.
“A what?” Vida asked.
“There are actually dolphins that live in the river,” Plath said.
“...What’s a dolphin?”
All the Capybaras stopped to look at her.
“You know, the mammal-like fish,” Norris said. “With a blowhole.”
“It’s the skinny bitch version of a whale,” Octasia added.
“Never heard of it.”
“You know what that garbage fish is, but not a dolphin?” Mana asked. “How?”
Vida shrugged. “I guess it never came up.”
“Forget the fish,” Giovanni said. “We got a challenge and I want that reward.”
“We can be tourists later,” Octasia said. “We live here now.”
The Capybaras nodded and started walking again at a faster pace.
“Do we really live here, eh?” Norris asked.
“What that old lady said,” Savannah replied.
“Yeah, her,” Savannah said. “She’s lied to us already though.”
“Man, do you think wherever we're living will have bathrooms and stuff?” Giovanni asked.
“I’m praying it has a shower,” Zane replied, picking more leaves out of his fro.
Cecilia tensed. “They have to give us a shower...don’t they? I mean, they would want us to look nice and cute on national television. Sex sells after all.”
“Heck yeah it does,” Giovanni replied, checking out Mana. She winked back at him.
Everyone turned; Welker patrolled the back of the line, shaking his head.
You’re worried about something as trivial as indoor plumbing?”
“We’re in the Amazon,” Welker said. “You should be worried about the Mapinguari.”
“The who?” Cassidy asked.
“The Mapinguari,” Welker replied. “The Amazonian Bigfoot.”
“Please,” Mana said. “There’s no such thing as Bigfoot.”
Welker shook his head. “That’s what the Bigfoots have convinced you. The Mapinguari is the most dangerous sasquatch of them all. A nine foot monster, bigger than a bear, that reeks like garlic. With backwards feet, a single giant eyeball and a huge toothed mouth for a stomach. Perfect for eating it’s favorite food; human flesh.”
“Uh huh,” Giovanni said, “Does it ever split a meal with The Loch Ness Monster?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Welker replied, “The Loch Ness Monster lives in Scotland. It’d never be in the Amazon.”
The Capybaras started walking again.
Welker scoffed. “Fine, don’t believe me. Doesn’t matter. The Mapinguari is hunting us regardless.”
“Why would it do that?” Norris asked.
“Don’t encourage him,” Heloise stated.
“Other sasquatches run and hide,” Welker said. “Not the Mapinguari. You don’t hunt it; it hunts you. It preys on anyone who trespasses in the jungle...and we’re all trespassing.”
He gave a look behind the camera, directly at the cameraman.
Suddenly, the bushes started to shake. Plath gulped. Giovanni grabbed Norris’ arm. Heloise growled and stepped forward…
...as a red squirrel peaked its head out. The Capybaras sighed in relief.
“We got worked up over nothing eh,” Norris said. “No Bigfoot...not that I believe there is one.”
“Save your scary stories for the campfire,” Savannah added.
A few of the other Capybaras shot Welker a look, before they continued marching. He sulked back to the rear, but didn’t stop looking over his shoulder.
“I know the Mapinguari is coming,” Welker said. “Still, I have to take the risk. I…”
He paused, scrunching his nose as he stared at the camera. “...I have my reasons for being here.”
The Bootylicious Anacondas stopped at a river leading into a lake deep on the edge of the forest.
“Woah!” Luis gasped. “These trees are enormous!”
“According to the map,” Montana said, “our next crate should be in this area.”
Dolly waved at the others. She stood next to a boulder, where a crate was wrapped and locked in chains around the rock.
“Dang,” Eddie said. “You think that crate’s for us?”
Dolly raised an eyebrow, pointing at the Anaconda ensinga on the green crate.
“How are we supposed to move it?” Flynn asked.
‘Yo, just roll this rock dawgs,” Quinton stated, trying to push the boulder.
He slipped and fell, “I’m scraped my elbow and got wet grass down my pants!”
“Maybe if you pulled them up,” Dolly sighed. “Anyone have any good ideas?”
Montana rubbed his chin, studying the chains. “I’ve picked a lock or two, but each lock is different. It could take me awhile to figure them out, even with the right materials.”
Kaobawa cleared his throat. When the Anacondas looked at him, he pointed to the trees. Hanging from a rope, about 80 feet off the ground was a key ring.
“Good eye Kaobawa,” Dolly stated.
Kaobawa smiled and shrugged.
“How are we going to-”
Montana tossed a grappling hook, landing on a branch. With a nod of his hat, he started scaling the tree.
“Radical!” Eddie chuckled. “Dibs on next!”
He tried to grab the line, only for it to snap in half. The Anacondas gasped. Montana shrugged. He grabbed a branch, swinging on it to vault himself on a higher branch. He flung himself from limb to limb, till he grabbed the other half of the rope.
Swinging on it like Tarzan, he landed on a lower branch. Freeing the key ring, he flipped off the tree and landed in front of teammates.
He smirked, holding the keys in the air as his teammates cheered.
“That was mad whack!” Quinton said.
“It was nothing,” Montana said. “You should see what I can do with a paperclip and some scotch tape.”
Before he lowered his arm, the key ring was snatched from Montana’s hand. “Huh?”
“Ooh ooh, eek eek!”
“Monkeys!” Luis cheered.
A small troop of black and brownish grey monkeys chattered in the treetops. One swung the key ring around its tail. The monkey with the keys stood upright, jingling them as the rest of the troop jumped and clapped.
“Are those howler monkeys?” Dolly asked.
“I think they’re Capuchin monkeys,” Luis replied. “Howler-”
“-Who cares?” Rubella said. “Those chimps stole our keys!”
“Actually, chimps and monkeys are differ-”
Rubella groaned. She strutted up to the monkeys. “Listen you filthy apes, if you give me the keys then maybe I’ll give you a bana-”
The lead monkey threw something at her. Rubella barely dodged it.
“Oh, that better have been mud,” Rubella growled.
She grabbed the monkey by its tail and yanked it down. Grabbing the keys, she started to walk off...only for the monkey to jump on her back and start pulling her ear rings. She tossed the monkey aside, but it jumped up and grabbed onto the keys.
“Ahhhhh!” she screamed. “Get off of me!”
“Oohhhhh! Eek, eek, eek, ehh!”
The monkey tried to steal the key ring, but Rubella pulled back.
“Give those to me!” she said. “I’m your superior! The higher life form! You have to listen to me. Charles Dickens said so!”
“You mean Charles Darwin?” Brantley asked.
“Who cares?” Rubella cried. “They’re both dead.”
Rubella and the monkey tugged back and forth on the keys.
“I said give it to me!”
The monkey smirked, grabbing the keys and tossing them over the side into the lake. The whole troop laughed as he scurried back up the trees.
Rubella glared at the monkeys. “This is why you’re unevovled.”
Luis raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think that’s how evolution-”
“Save the Charles Barkley crap,” Rubella replied. “I’m getting those keys!”
She stood over the edge, taking a diving pose. She jumped...and bellyflopped into the water.
“Oooohhhhh,” the Anacondas cringed.
The Capybaras stopped in the middle of the forest.
“According to the map,” Norris said. “This should be the place, eh?”
Zane scratched his head. “I don’t see anything. You’d think it’d be around a landmark.”
“Just the same trees we’ve been seeing,” Savannah added.
Norris pouted, but Octasia patted his back.
Cassidy scanned the area, and immediately grinned. “There.”
She pointed to the tree in front of Norris. It’s bark was slightly darker than all the other trees.
“Is it buried?” Giovanni asked. “You got x-ray vision?”
Cassidy sighed, grabbing the jock’s head and tilting it back. About fifty feet off the ground, the orange crate was tied to a tree branch.
“So, how are we supposed to get it down?” Zane asked.
“Dude that’s easy,” Giovanni said, “We climb it!”
Giovanni ran up at the tree and started scaling...only to slide back down. He ran up again...only to slide down again.
“Okay, so I may have never climbed a tree before,” Giovanni stated. “I’m a city kid! I climb pool ladders and the occasional rock wall at the gym. Maybe trees are a bigger deal than I thought.”
Octasia rolled her eyes. “Anyone else?”
Heloise frowned as she approached the tree. She sniffed the bark before licking it. “It’s not his fault...totally. This tree has been greased!”
“Greased?” Welker asked.
Heloise licked the bark again. “NASTY! It’s been sprayed with some cheap body spray.”
Giovanni sniffed the tree. “Hey, I think I use the same brand.”
“So the spray makes the bark slicker, but not obvious enough we’d notice it,” Plath said. “Like if they used butter or something.”
“Those hosts are more clever than I thought they’d be,” Octasia admitted.
Zane swooned. “Heloise is so smart. And did you see the way she licked that bark? What a girl!”
Welker raised an eyebrow and took a few steps back.
“Zane?” Welker asked. “A serious case of brain slugs. Parasites that hide in cheese and burrow in your brain, slowly dissolving it until they grow outside of your head. That’s why his afro is so big; to hide it. The bigger the hair, the more secrets a person has.”
“Climbing is out,” Mana said. “Anyone have any good ideas?”
“Maybe there’s a ladder backstage,” Cecilia suggested.
Mana glared at the actress who forced a laugh.
“Actually,” Octasia said. “A ladder isn’t such a bad idea.”
“I knew it,” Cecilia replied, smirking.
“A human ladder,” Octasia said. “Me and my sisters make them all the time to climb into our school’s vents.”
“Why?” Norris asked.
“Not important,” Octasia replied. “Point is, if we all get on each other’s shoulders the top person we might just be tall enough to reach! I mean, there are a lot of tall people on this team!”
“OH YEAH!” Heloise replied. “CAPYBARAS, LADDER UP!”
Heloise formed the base, given her height and her muscles making it easier to balance the weight. She hoisted Welker on her shoulders, ignoring his protests, as Giovanni climbed on him. Then Norris, then Zane.
Zane blushed as Octasia smirked and sat on his shoulders, followed by Savannah. Cecilia hummed as she scaled onto Savannah. Cassidy followed, then Mana Somebody. Plath gulped as the tower grew closer and closer to the branch.
“Just take your time up here dear,” Cecilia encouraged.
“Yeah and be quick about it,” Mana added.
Plath groaned, but eventually sat on Mana’s shoulders.
Finally, Ina Gadda Da Vida climbed up. Standing on Plath’s shoulders, she just reached the rope.
“YEAHHHHHH!” Ham bellowed.
“Woooo!” Zane cheered.
“Heck yeah,” Savannah said.
“Alright!” Norris cheered. “Brilliant thinking Octasia.”
The tall girl chuckled. “Aww, it was. Finish this up Vida!”
Vida stared at the ropes. “Yeah...how do I undo a knot?”
Her team stared blankly at her.
“Are. You. Serious?” Octasia asked.
“What do you do for your shoelaces?” Cassidy questioned.
“I’ve never worn shoes with laces,” Vida replied.
Her team stared blankly again.
“How?” Savannah questioned. “How have you never worn shoes with laces?”
“I refuse. I don’t believe in shoelaces.”
Her team couldn’t stare more blankly at her if they were loose-leaf notebook paper.
“I’m going to regret asking,” Mana sighed.
“I’m not,” Cassidy said. “Vida, I have to know. Why don’t you believe in shoelaces?”
“They’re a waste of time. Who has time for tying shoes?”
“Please don’t ask her any more questions,” Octasia groaned. “My brain can only take so much stupid at once.”
“Pull me up Ina Gadda Da Vida,” Plath suggested. “I can help undo the knots and show you!”
Vida smiled, grabbing Plath’s hands and just hoisting her up. The human ladder began to wobble and teeter.
“Oh no,” Savannah said. “No, no, no, no-”
The tower collapsed, the Capybaras forming a dogpile on top of each other.
Minutes later, Rubella washed up on the surface.
“Well?” Dolly asked. “Where are the keys?”
Rubella hacked, choking. She coughed and spat up the key ring before face planting on the ground.
Montana smirked, using his grabbing hook to snag the keys and pulling them up. Racing over to the boulder, he started tossing locks aside.
“Finally,” Flynn said. “We’re back in the race.”
Kaobawa shook his head. “Keys...no…”
“He’s right,” Montana groaned. “We’re missing three keys.”
“She swallowed them?” Flynn asked. “Not cool.”
Dolly snickered. “They have to come out, one way or another. Anyone got any lax-”
“Wait,” Luis said. “Look at the monkeys!”
In the treetops, one of the monkeys flopped onto it’s bellies. It coughed up a few keys.
“I think we’re going about this wrong,” Luis stated. “Maybe we shouldn’t fight the monkeys.”
Rubella groaned. “What, you want to educate them?”
“They’ve been copying us,” Luis said. “You know, monkey see and monkey do. I think they actually like us. They’re just playing!”
“Awww,” Dolly cooed.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Flynn added.
“I like it when people mimic my style,” Flynn said. “Lots of people at my school do whatever I do. I don’t mind. I mean, as long as everyone knows I did it first. And nobody does it better.”
To test his theory, Luis and Dolly started playing patty cake. Just as he expected, the monkey’s started doing it too.
Looking around, Luis snapped a fallen branch into three pieces. He started juggling them. The head monkey started juggling the keys.
“Now let’s see if they join in,” Luis stated.
Tossing a branch to the troop, a monkey caught it while Luis continued juggling. The lead monkey tossed a key to Brantley.
Luis tossed the next two pieces, causing the monkey to do the same. Jessica Crystal got the first, while the second key hit Rubella in the eye. In less than a minute, Montana had freed their crate.
“Woo!” Eddie cheered. “We got it!”
“Clever,” Brantley said. “Nice monkeying around Luis, so to speak.”
“It was nothing,” the nature lover replied.
Luis waved goodbye to the monkey troop as the Anacondas headed out.
Plath had done as she promised, teaching Vida how to undo knots. The crate came crashing down, but Heloise caught it. As she carried one, Giovanni and Welker carried the other.
Ina Gadda Da Vida and Plath were chatting in front of them.
“I just don’t see the point in the laces,” Vida said. “Maybe if the aglets were still aglet babies. Did you know that aglets used to be highly ornamental and decorative, even little figures?”
“I did know that!” Plath exclaimed.
Plath nodded. “Shakespeare used the term, I think in Taming of the Shrew.”
As the two girls talked, Norris continued leading the Capybaras. They reached an area near another shoreline, leading into a deep part of the Amazon River. “The map says it should be aboot here.”
A few of the Capybaras snickered. Norris rubbed the back of his head.
Octasia rolled her eyes. “Let’s spread out and see if we can find it.”
The Capybaras started rummaging. They often looked up to the treetops, but didn’t notice anything that seemed unlike a rainforest. After five minutes, nothing turned up.
Savannah looked at the water. She debated wadding into to look for the crate, but immediately backed away when something rose in the water.
“Oh crap, crocodiles,” Savannah said, slowly backing away. Everyone turned. The reptile opened one eye, studying the teens before submerging back into the water.
“I think that was a black caiman,” Vida stated.
“What’s the difference?” Savannah asked.
“Caimans are part of the same family as crocodiles and alligators, but they’re distinct. Usually caimans are small or medium sized. The black caiman is the exception.”
“Of course it is.”
“Whatever it is, I have no interest in being eaten,” Mana Somebody said. “At least literally. We must be in the wrong area. Someone read the map wrong.”
“I doubt it,” Octasia replied. “Especially since he’s the only one to step up and read the map.”
She glared at the bikini model, who returned it.
“Let’s not fight,” Plath said. “I’m sure Norris is right and it has to be here.”
Octasia scratched her chin. “There’s a trick to it. Just like the last crate. If I were Rhonda, what would I do?”
“Desperately wish to be somebody else?” Savannah said.
“I mean obviously, but with the crates. She wants to fool us. Unless she’s lazy, she’s not going to hide it up high again. However, we’re looking up there because it was hidden there before. So the best place to put it would be the opposite.”
“Like on the ground?” Giovanni asked.
“Too obvious. The last crate was over us...so this one should be under us!”
“It’s buried!” Norris gasped.
“Bingo bongo,” Octasia replied. “Let’s start looking for something that looks moved…”
Cassidy cleared her throat. “I think I found it.”
Everyone turned to her. She stepped aside, revealing two crossed branches on the shoreline. “X marks the spot for buried treasure.”
“Nice eye!” Heloise hollered. “LET’S TEAR IT UP CAPYBARAS!”
The Ham charged, tossing aside the branches and tunneling. Zane and Welker joined in and the three hoisted up the chest. There was just one problem.
“It’s covered in chains and locks,” Welker groaned.
“Every lock has a key,” Norris said.
“But where are ours?” Savannah asked. “Any ideas Jean Jacket?”
Octasisa shrugged. “Maybe it’s still underground.”
“Dear companions,” Cecilia said. “I have uplifting yet harrowing news. I spy a key ring…”
“It’s somewhere totally inconvenient, isn’t it?” Savannah asked.
Cecilia nodded, swooning as she pointed to the water. The black caiman was watching the teens, joined by a few friends. Around his tooth was the key ring.
“Crap in a handbasket,” Octasia said.
“Not it for getting the keys,” Savannah added.
“Heh, heh, heh…”
The Capybaras parted as Heloise marched to the shoreline.
“The Ham fears no animal, especially some crocodile’s baby cousins.”
She popped her knuckles. Then her neck. Then her chin.
Six caimans had started rising to the shore. The lead caiman licked his lips.
Plath gulped. “Heloise, is this such a good-”
“Alrighty caimans. Who wants to get WRECKED?”
A caiman lunged at her, unhinging his jaw. Heloise scoffed, grabbing it by it’s open jaws and snapping them shut like closing a textbook. She tossed him aside.
The Ham jumped up and body-slammed into the head caiman.
Two tried to jump at her, but she punched each in the snout and down into the water. She gave a deep, guttural laugh as she jumped at both. One in each hand, she put them in a chokehold in each of her forearms.
“Her double bicep chokehold!” Giovanni gasped. “Which means she’s gonna do-”
“KNOCKIN NOGGINS!” The Ham cried, smashing them into each other’s heads repeatedly.
“Woo!” Octasia cheered.
“You reptiles have been around since the dinosaurs, but that’s over now! THE HAM IS A MASS EXTINCTION EVENT!”
The Ham turned to the last caiman. She smirked. He yelped, standing on two legs and running off into the swamp.
“The Ham better not see you later alligator! HECK YEAH!”
The Capybaras roared as The Ham motioned to them like they were the crowd. She reached for the keys...only for the lead caiman to surface and snap down on her hand.
The Capybaras gasped. A few looked concerned.
But it wasn’t for Heloise.
As fans of the Wrestling To Heck federation know, there’s a rule many wrestlers have learned when facing The Ham.
“Nobody. Bites. The Ham.”
The Ham slammed the caiman back into the water three times before it relented and let go. Before it could strike again, Heloise grabbed it by the tail.
“Because this Ham...ALWAYS BITES BACK!”
The Ham tore her teeth into his tail. He yelped, but The Ham only bit harder. She pulled away from the tail, tearing off a chunk of skin.
“Eww,” Cecilia groaned.
“Heh, nice,” Savannah chuckled.
The Ham grabbed the caiman under his arms, turning it opposite down, before jumping in the air and piledriving him into the ground. “ARGHHHHHHHHHHH!”
The caiman coughed, finally darting off into the water before it lost anymore. Heloise let out another battle cry as she wadded out of the water, jingling the keys.
“Are you sure caimans are related to crocodiles and not pussycats,” she chuckled.
“I was pretty sure,” Vida replied. “I mean, eventually they relate…”
The Capybaras cheered again.
Heloise shook her mane. “I don’t back down from fights or challenges. It’s just not me. Maybe it’ll kill me, but I don’t live with regrets. So any animals out there want to challenge The Ham for the title of King of the Jungle, then come on. The Ham is starving for a fight and banned from most buffets! DON’T SAY YOU’RE ‘ALL YOU CAN EAT’ IF YOU CAN’T FEED THE HAM!”
Savannah unchained the cage and turned to Heloise. Heloise nodded, ripping off the lid with her teeth.
“What treasures have we discovered?” Cecilia asked. “What valuables have we risked our lives for?”
Savannah reached into the crate and pulled out...a paddle. “Dope.”
Cecilia frowned. “How underwhelming.”
As they opened the remaining crates, they found tools including saws, axes, hammers, nails, a machete and a large amount of rope.
“There’s a paddle for each of us,” Plath counted. “I’m guessing we’re building a boat.”
The bookworm nearly fell over. Savannah pulled out a small radio from the last crate.
“Congrats Capybaras,” Rhonda’s voice said over the radio. “You’ve gathered all three crates, so now you move on to the second part of the challenge; the river rafting race!”
“We’re building a raft?” Octasia asked.
“I said you'd test the waters, didn't I?"
She snickered. "Using the tools you found, you need to gather supplies and build a raft. Then you’ll paddle through the river to the finish line. You should find a map in one of these crates. First team there wins. Which as a reminder, means winning a reward that-”
Savannah yawned loudly.
“Um, as I was saying, this reward-”
“Yeah, yeah,” Savannah replied. “We heard you before Rachel. Do we get any other stations?”
Savannah turned the dial, cutting off Rhonda. There was only static.
“Great, only talk radio.”
She chucked the radio aside.
“Does anyone know how to build a raft?” Zan asked.
“It’s just a wood rectangle,” Savannah said. “Although, we could add some flair.”
“Maybe we should focus on gathering supplies,” Norris said. “We have no idea if the Anacondas have even started…”
The Anacondas continued their trek through the forest. Luis and Montana carried the other crate alongside Tim. The team stopped at a muddy path. Tied to the end of a tree by rope was the last crate.
Brantley frowned. “This doesn’t feel right.”
Tim nodded. “This seems too easy. We need to be cautious-”
“Last one to the crate is a rotten egg!” Eddie stated.
“Yo, ain’t no way I’m a rotten egg,” Quinton whined. “I’m scrambled at worst.”
As most of the Anacondas surrounded the crate, Eddie undid the rope. He tried to pull out the crate, but it wouldn’t budge. Montana joined him, but the two couldn’t lift it.
“It doesn’t feel that heavy,” Montana sighed. “It must be attached to something…”
Digging through the mud under it, he pulled out a rubber buoy.
“Dude, why is it attached to a buoy?” Eddie asked.
Dolly gulped. “Guys, the mud is up to my torso.”
The camera panned out to reveal the Anacondas were sinking.
“Quicksand!” they screamed.
“Man,” Montana said, “Walking into quicksand. Again. With how many journeys I’ve been on, you think I’d learn to stop doing that. But if you stop to look out for quicksand with every step you take, you’ll get nowhere.”
Luis pulled up Dolly, throwing the short girl over his shoulders. Kaobawa did the same to Quinton, whose head was almost submerged.
“Not cool, not cool!” Flynn yelled.
“I’m going to drown in a giant mud bath,” Rubella cried. “I don’t even have any cucumber slices!”
Jessica Crystal hummed, pinching her fingers together like meditating. She didn’t sink any further.
“J.C. has the right idea,” Montana said. “If we remain calm, we won’t sink any further.”
“Then what?” Flynn asked.
Brantley sighed, standing to the side. “I tried to warn you. I guess we should save them. Any ideas Tim?”
The highbrow turned to the left, but Tim was gone.
“...And he’s disappeared again. Fine. It looks up like it’s up to me to save all their lives.”
Looking around, Brantley pulled down a group of vines. He began chaining them together. He tossed his makeshift rope towards his teammates.
“Wait, while I fasten this,” Brantley said. “Then you can-”
He was suddenly yanked by the rope into the quicksand.
“...Are you serious?”
“We thought you were going to pull us out,” Flynn said.
“You thought I was going to pull the ten of you out? By myself? Some of you being twice my size and weight? Really?”
Luis blushed. “Sorry, we panicked.”
Brantley glared at the two. “I was going to tie it to a tree, so you could pull yourselves out.”
“Oh! That would’ve been a good plan.”
“Yes, well now we all are going to die.”
“Yo, if we’re dead then our team loses the challenge!” Quinton said.
Brantley groaned, rubbing his temples. “I feel like I’m trapped in a Sartre play.”
“Have no fear good citizens! Help is here.”
Arwen gasped. “Look, up there!”
“It’s a bird!” Luis gasped. “Is that a puffbird?”
“Uh, no I meant over there.”
“It’s a plane!” Eddie stated.
“It’s clearly not a plane,” Flynn said. “It’s a person!”
On a large branch overlooking the quicksand, a man stood in the shadows.
“When there is danger, I will appear. For I am...Marvelous Man!”
Stepping out of the shadows, was...Tim. Like, clearly Tim. Now he was wearing a domino mask, red, blue and yellow tights, a cape and blonde wig. On his chest was the same double M logo on the convertible.
Tim whistled. Said convertible pulled up. Sitting at the wheel was a white German Shepherd, also wearing a mask and cape.
“Nice driving, Star, my Marvel-Hound. Everyone, grab on to the wench!”
“Hey, you don’t have to call us names,” Arwen said.
Tim pressed a button on his utility belt. From the back of the car, a wench shot out of the car and into the quicksand.
Arwen blushed. “Ooh, that kind of wench…”
“Attach it to your crate,” Tim commanded. “Then hold tight! We’ll pull you to safety!”
The Anacondas, most of the quicksand up to their waist, did so quickly. Tim jumped into the driver’s seat of the car and yanked the group to safety.
Tim petted his superhero pet, who jumped up and licked his face.
“We’re saved!” Luis cheered.
“Thank you Marvelous Man,” Arwen said.
“Who’d have thought there’d be a superhero in the middle of the Amazon?” Luis asked.
“You know that’s Tim, right?” Flynn asked.
“I’m afraid I’ve never heard of this Tim Tennison you speak of,” ‘Marvelous Man’ said.
“We didn’t mention a last name,” Brantley said.
“Yes...well, I inferred it was. Part of being a superhero is discovering clues and using your intuition to make the right conclusions.”
“Ooh, guess my name next!” Eddie said.
“I want to say...Eddie?”
Some of the Anacondas gasped. The rest looked at their teammates in confusion and or annoyance.
“He’s good,” Eddie whispered.
“I’m afraid crime doesn’t stay to chat, so neither can I! But if you are ever in danger again, know that like a good neighbor I will lend the sugar of justice and goodwill! Till then Anacondas!”
He swished his cape before driving off into the jungle.
Minutes later, Tim ran up to his team.
“Holy mudpies! You guys are okay? How?”
Flynn stared. “You’re kidding, right?”
“You just missed it!” Luis said. “We were saved by a superhero.”
“A superhero?” Tim asked. “I can’t believe I somehow missed it. But I did.”
“Guys, that was obviously Tim,” Flynn said. “I mean they have the same voice and body shape. His mask didn’t even hide his face.”
“Marvelous Man can’t be Tim,” Rubella said. “Tim doesn’t have blond hair. Duh!”
“Okay, then where did you disappear to Tim?” Brantley asked.
“I went looking for help,” Tim said. “I guess it happened to be at the same time Mr. Marvelous showed up. What a coincidence that we shouldn’t ask anymore questions about.”
“We can talk about this later,” Montana said. “Right now, we’re still in the middle of a challenge.”
The others agreed and started opening their crates. Flynn sighed, but shot a look at Tim.
The Anacondas found the exact same supplies in their crates as the Capybaras did. From another radio, Rhonda explained the river rafting race.
“I’ve never built a raft before,” Jessica Crystal admitted. “Though I have designed several houses, buildings and a best selling line of wicker furniture. I suppose I can lead us in building a raft.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Arwen said. “What do we need?”
“Focus on cutting down bamboo. As long as you can. It should be easy to use as a foundation and cut into uniform pieces.”
The Anacondas dispersed, splitting into groups as they harvested bamboo.
Dolly called out to Rubella. The diva was winking to herself in her compact mirror.
“You know there’s a-”
Rubella slammed her compact closed in front of Dolly’s face. “It’s Rrrrrrrrubella. You have to roll your Rs. Don’t forget it kid. It’s famous worldwide.”
“Sure it is,” Dolly replied.
“What’s with the get up Barbie? Your jammies were still in the wash?”
Dolly rolled her eyes. “Gee, I don’t know. I thought maybe I should dress for rain near a rainforest. I like your heels though. They’re super cool.”
“You really think so? Er, I mean of course they are.”
“Mhmm. You’ll die fashionable when you trip running from a hungry jaguar.”
Rubella glared. “You’re messing with me, aren’t you?”
“I would never,” Dolly stated. “By the way, there’s a big old spider on the back of your head.”
“I warned you.”
Rubella reopened compact and shrieked as a huge spider started scaling down her face. She ran forward, arms flailing and eyes closed, until one of her heels snapped and she faceplanted in the dirt.
The spider shrugged and crawled away.
Dolly, humming a Disney song, skipped over Rubella’s unconscious body.
“Being in a hotel would be nice,” Dolly admitted. “But I’m starting to like the idea of an Amazon adventure! Plus, I want two million dollars. Could you imagine what a person can do with that kind of money? If I win then I...could have my own pony!”
She squealed loudly. “I mean, I could pay for college and junk, but a pony? You’d be a fool not to buy a pony.”
In part of the forest, Flynn held bamboo in place as Tim hacked it. Flynn eyed Tim suspiciously.
“So Tim,” Flynn said. “Have any pets?”
“Just my dog Racecar,” Tim admitted. “He’s a good boy if there was ever a good boy.”
“He’s a white German Shepard...but he’s much smaller than Marvelous Man’s dog.”
“I never mentioned his dog.”
“Yeah, well Arwen told me. Earlier. When you weren’t there.”
Flynn groaned. “Just admit it dude, you’re obviously Marvelous Man. I mean the cameras probably saw you.”
“I'm real sorry Flynn, but I can’t be Marvelous Man. Just thinking of fighting crime gives me hives. I joined the show to be a little braver.”
“You’re even pretending to be meeker than you are!" the popular boy sighed. "That’s like number one in trying to protect your secret identity as a superhero.”
Flynn blushed and turned away. “I mean, not that I know. Just from the movies I see sometimes, but everyone sees superhero movies now.”
Tim raised his eyebrow. “Okay?”
Tim shifted in the confessional seat. “Going on a TV show I knew I would have certain things revealed about me. I don’t want my story to get twisted, so I’m coming forward with the truth. I, Tim Tennsion...am actually Mr. Marvelous.”
He paused for a long moment. “I know. It’s shocking. It may seem unwise to reveal my identity, but a hidden camera may have caught it. Not to mention certain...villains have revealed my identity on social media before. I feel it’s for the best I tell the audience.
"I can’t tell my team however. I feel bad lying, but don’t want them to target me for being a superhero or try to use my skills unfairly. I don’t think any of them noticed though.”
“Pass me another nail,” Savannah said.
“We ran out,” Zane replied.
“Then that means we’re done.”
She stood up, wiping her brow. The Capybaras looked over the raft. If you were being generous, you could say that it looked like a floating beaver dam made by blind elementary school children.
Savannah shrugged. “Good enough!”
She jumped onto the heap, sprawling out.
“All aboard the S.S. Capybara my dudes.”
Eventually, when all the Capybaras made it onto the raft, they started paddling.
“How far is the finish line?” Welker asked.
Norris looked at the map and frowned. He opened his mouth, but his voice was drowned out by the sound of a familiar chopper.
“I’m getting tired of waiting for you all to arrive,” Rhonda said over the speakers. “So I’ve decided to up the stakes. First team to reach the finish line wins an additional reward, along with the big one they would have already won.”
Octasia and Norris share a look.
“Of course, if the carrot isn’t enough motivation, then I’ll use the stick. If no one finishes the river rafting race by sundown then you both lose and will both go to elimination. Immediately. So get a move on! And remember...have fun.”
“Will we make it in time?” Plath asked.
Norris picked up his paddle. “If we give it everything we’ve got...probably not.”
“That’s not a no,” Heloise laughed. “So let’s start rowing!”
Jessica Crystal sighed in perfect pitch. “I suppose we can’t spend anymore time on this raft. We’ll have to use it as is.”
She stood up, overlooking a pristine and well-fashioned raft.
Luis and Tim moved the raft out to water and the Anacondas began riding the Amazon River.
“Dude I’ve never gone river rafting before,” Eddie said. “Is it hard?”
“Follow my lead,” Montana stated. “I’ve white water rafted the Victoria Falls. This will be like riding a bike.”
The Bootylicious Anacondas rafted like a well-oiled machine, while the Capybaras moved by pure force. They both closed a large gap, but during the final stretch…
“Finally,” Eddie cheered. “Rapids!”
The Anacondas screamed as the water surged against their raft.
“Keep paddling!” Montana stated. “We’re almost there. These rapids are just jets in a hot tub.”
Their raft surged left and right, even spinning in circles.
“I don’t think the rapids appreciated that,” Arwen stated.
“Capybaras,” Kaobawa stated.
To the left, the Gregarious Capybaras swerved into the rapids.
“It’s the Anacondas,” Mana hissed. “They’re catching up to us.”
“They’re not just catching up,” Cassidy said. “They’re coming straight for us!”
Both teams screamed as they crashed into each other.
The two rafts clashed side to side.
Rubella glared. “Today nature takes its course; the Anaconda finishes the Capybara.”
She stood up, raising her paddle and swinging at In A Gadda Da Vida. The odd duck closed her eyes, but was shielded by someone’s paddle.
“Stay behind me darling,” Cecilia said. “I’ll handle this lame Linda. You paddle.”
Vida nodded as Cecila swung her paddle. Rubella cried out, falling and losing her paddle into the waters.
Eddie spun his paddle around, knocking Brantley in the head. “Woohoo! Paddle fight!”
He smashed his paddle into the Capybaras’ raft, sending a chunk of wood falling off.
“Aw no,” Giovanni said. “Nobody brings a paddle to my raft.”
The Jersey shore wannabe swung his own paddle at Eddie, dinging the metal plate in his head. Eddie only laughed. Raising his paddle, and hitting Brantley again, he and Giovanni started dueling. Soon Mana, Heloise, Cecilia, Savannah and Octasia joined the fight while Montana, Dolly, Kaobawa, Tim and Flynn fought against them.
Cassidy cackled, filming the fight on her phone. “Better than paperview!”
The rest of their teammates tried to steer their rafts. The rapids only went faster, slamming the rafts against the edges of the river.
“The finish line!” Plath said.
At a dip after the rapids in a lake, Rhonda and her cohorts stood on a makeshift dock. A large piece of ribbon attached to two buoys was just in front of it.
“Keep paddling!” Jessica Crystal cried.
Giovanni slammed his paddle into the Anaconda’s rafts, the bamboo started to come loose. Tim grabbed the rope, trying to keep it together.
Dolly scowled, slapping her paddle against the Capybara’s wooden monstriousy. It made almost a groan as it started to fall apart.
“We’re sinking!” Cecilia swooned. “It’s like the poor people’s version of the Titanic! Someone play something as we go down with our ship!”
Savannah pulled out her phone and started playing Despactio.
“This wasn’t the ambiance I was wanting.”
The rafts went down a final bend, where the rapids pushed them away.
“PADDLE LEFT!” Heloise roared.
The Capybaras managed to veer left, splashing into the lake below.
The Anacondas tried, but lost too many paddles and veered off to the right. The rapids sent them spinning, right towards a…
“Waterfall!” Eddie cheered.
The Anacondas tried to steer away, but the rapids were too strong as they went over. “Ahhhhhhhhhh!”
The Capybaras furiously paddled, crossing the ribbon just as their raft sank.
“The Gregarious Capybaras win!” Rhonda announced.
Giovanni fist pumped above the water, before sinking back into the lake.
Both teams were soaking wet as they stood on the dock. Rain had started pouring, leaving the teens shivering. The explorers glared as Rhonda, Jenny and Toby stood on a stage, standing under umbrellas.
“Nice job Gregarious Capybaras,” Rhonda said. “You managed to win in spite of building a floating death trap.”
“So about those rewards,” Octasia stated.
“I haven’t forgotten. First, your bonus prize!”
Down the lake came a medium-sized river boat.
“A boathouse! The perfect place to stay while you’re living in the Amazon.”
“Live?” Zane asked.
Rhonda nodded. “You’ll be living in the jungle by yourselves. No beds, no meals, no amminties besides what you make or win.”
“The boat at least has a bathroom, right?” Cecilia asked.
“You already have the best bathroom; the outdoors!”
Cecilia fainted on top of Heloise.
“So what’s the main reward?” Welker asked.
Rhonda smirked. She motioned to the stage behind her. It was divided into three sections, each separated by three purple curtains.
“Rewards are going to work differently this season. As long as both teams try, they’ll each get a reward.”
For the first time since falling off the waterfall, the Anacondas perked up.
“After every challenge three different rewards will be up for grabs, ranging from survival gear, to luxuries to even the concessional advantage. However, they’ll be hidden behind these purple curtains.”
“So it’s basically a crapshoot?” Octasia asked.
“Not exactly. We’ll reveal what’s behind one curtain. The winning team can choose to claim it or pick another prize. The losers will choose between the remaining rewards. However, the winners get final say. They can choose to switch prizes with the losing team if they want.”
Welker shifted his eyes. “How do we know there’s really a reward behind each curtain?”
“Not all rewards will be equal. But you’re not going to be punished, like being forced to go to elimination or something.”
Rhonda turned to the curtains. “Let’s get to it. Jenny, Toby what reward is behind...hmm... curtain number two.”
The second curtain raised to reveal a kit of tents.
“A set of tents for camping,” Toby said. “Perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. Which you have to be now.”
Rhonda turned to the explorers. “So what will it be Capybaras? Will you take the tents or risk it on something else?”
The Capybaras huddled together.
“As if this is random,” Octasia said. “Rhonda wants to give that reward to the Anacondas, so they have some kind of shelter.”
Cassidy nodded. “The boat was planned as a reward all along.”
“So we take the tents and leave the snakes out in the rain?” Mana asked.
“Seems a bit harsh eh,” Norris said.
“I’m with Norris,” Plath said. “We don’t need them. Maybe there’s a nicer reward.”
The Capybaras went back and forth, but finally settled on a decision.
“We’ll take the reward behind curtain three,” Savannah said.
The third curtain raised, revealing an intern standing at a grill, smothering a large rack of ribs. The scent of freshly grilled food filled the air.
“Congratulations Capybaras, you’ve won a barbecue cookout!”
The Capybaras cheered.
“Now it’s your turn Anacondas. Which reward will you pick?”
It wasn’t much of a decision for the Anacondas.
“We pick curtain number two,” Jessica Crystal announced.
Toby handed the explorers the set of tents.
“While the Capybaras enjoy a dinner of ribs, burgers, hotdogs, vegetable kabobs and more, you can spend time setting up camp and deciding who you’ll send home first.”
“This couldn’t be more perfect!” Rubella cackled. “Yeah we lost, but losing has its perks. Who led us today? That uppity Jessica Crystal! Now everyone will blame her for costing us the challenge and I’ll be rid of her! Hahahaha!”
“Jessica Crystal?” Arwen asked. “Why would we vote for her? Sure we lost the challenge, but we would have done so much worse if she wasn’t leading us. Not to mention we need to keep our strong players if we don’t want to lose next time. I’m voting for our obvious weak link.”
The Bootylicious Anacondas spent a few hours that night trying to make a base camp, gathering firewood and putting up tents, but were more focused on having side conversations about the vote.
Kaobawa led a group into finding food for a meal, while the others worked on weaving together leaves to try and keep their tents dry. They didn’t eat a lot, mostly fruits they could find.
Kaobawa tilted his head, looking at the confessional camera. “I talk...not speak English...not…”
He paused, before shrugging. He then began to speak in his native tongue. The final episode aired with a translator speaking over him.
“This place is for sharing our thoughts,” Kaobawa said, “I want to, but I can’t do that in English. However...no one said I had to.”
He smirked. “I don’t understand everything about this game. We lost. So why must we make our tribe weaker by exiling a member? It makes more sense to work together, to make each stronger. I’m not complaining, I chose to leave the Yequmamo for this. It’s just confusing.”
He shrugged. “I was worried they'd exile me, but they look to me for survival. Not for voting though. Everyone wants to know how to find food, but no one wants to know who I feel like voting for. A few came up to me and told me names, gave me reasons. They spoke to me, not with me.”
Kaobawa paused. "Only one person asked me. We had similar ideas. That’s who I’ll vote with.”
By the time they had finished their makeshift dinner, two canoes had arrived. Interns paddled the team out onto the river. They were forbidden from speaking with each other during the boat ride; they had time to decide their vote. Hopefully they had used their time wisely.
The rain hadn’t let up since the reward. Now it was a downpour. The explorers had been given their luggage after the challenge, but most didn’t have heavy clothes. They shared what they could. The twelve teens sat silently shivering in those boats, waiting for their destination.
Finally, they arrived. Rows of skull-shaped torches gave the only light, revealing a path of ancient stone steps. They lead to the ruins of an Incan temple, weathered and eroded away by time. The middle of the stairs were actually half destroyed, cracked and fallen apart.
The explorers entered the temple through a gaping hole in the wall, passing through vines that overgrown it. Inside they sat on fallen columns or stones.
In front of them stood Rhonda at a stone podium. Jenny and Toby stood on opposite sides of her. All three were dressed like ancient Inca priests, wearing shiny tonics, gold jewelry and black face paint.
“Welcome Anacondas to your first elimination ceremony,” Rhonda greeted. “Tonight you’ll vote off one of your own, a sacrifice who will lay on the Slab of Shame and leave on the Fall of Losers.”
“Human sacrifice?” Brantley said. “Really? This is an Incan temple.”
“So?” Rubella asked.
“So Incas rarely practiced human sacrifice,” Brantley replied. “People often conflate Incas with the Aztecs and Mayans because they’re both pre-Columbian societies, but the Aztecs lived thousands of miles away.”
“True,” Rhonda said. “The Inca rarely practiced human sacrifice. There was an exception however; the Capacocha. To prevent disasters, the Inca would sacrifice children. You’re all youths, so you all fit the bill!”
Brantley scowled. “I appreciate you trying to actually teach something, even if it’s just from a Wikipedia article. It’s still clear you’re conflating them with Aztecs.
“Are you volunteering for sacrifice?”
Brantley crossed his arms but said nothing more.
“Yo, uh, we aren’t actually killing people, right?” Quinton asked. “Cause I have a doctor’s note about being murdered.”
“No one will actually die,” Rhonda replied, “except maybe of embarrassment at being the first boot. It’s just a ceremony. After your loss, a sacrifice must be paid. Hopefully, it’ll restore good omens and balance to your team. If you eliminate the right person.”
She motioned to Toby. “Take them to the voting confessional.”
He nodded. He pointed at Dolly and led her to the wall against the left side.
“So now wh-”
Toby lowered a torch on the wall like a lever. The wall spun, revolving Dolly into the other side.
Torches lit up to reveal a small room.
At a stone desk in front of her, Dolly saw a single piece of parchment and a quill pen. She approached, writing a name down and holding it up to the camera. She said her peace, and then pushed her vote down a slot on the desk.
Finding a torch against the wall, she lowered it. The wall spun again, returning her to the other side.
Montana cast his vote. “No lying, you’re hot. Totally my type, but like a few of my exes I can tell you and the elements don’t mix. I promise I’ll hate to see you go though.”
Rubella cast her vote for Jessica Crystal. “You’re overrated and ridiculous. Consider yourself lucky to the first victim of Rrrrr-”
Flynn cast his vote. “ I’ll sleep easier without you here...as easy as I can sleep in a jungle.”
Arwen cast her vote. “As much as I want to explore this temple, I don’t want to come back here. Sending you home should do that. Sorry.”
Brantley cast his vote. “I don’t like you, but it’s not personal. It’s to improve our team. We need all the improvements we can get.”
After the last vote was cast, Toby tallied the results. Handing Rhonda a piece of paper, she overlooked the results. Dolly leaned forward, squinting to see the outcome, but couldn’t read anything.
Rhonda folded the paper up and put it in her pocket. She gestured to Jenny who held out a plate of red-brownish fruit pods.
“These are cocoa pods, whose beans are the source of chocolate. Their latin name Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. Important to many cultures all over the world, their harvest has caused severe deforestation to the Amazon Rainforest. They’re one of the most valuable things in all the Amazon, especially here because they represent safety.
“If I call your name, you’ll receive a cocoa pod. Whoever does not receive a cocoa pod will be eliminated and sacrificed on the Slab of Shame and leave via the Fall of Losers.”
She raised her hands. From the ground rose a large stone slab. It seemed to have dried blood stains.
“The first cocoa pod goes to...Jessica Crystal!”
Rubella’s jaw dropped. The other Anacondas clapped and cheered as J.C. collected her pod.
“I mean obviously you’re not going home,” Rhonda said. “You did get a vote, but I’m sure someone just got confused and thought they were voting for who to stay.”
“Of course,” Jessica Crystal replied, taking her pod.
The two tallest boys eagerly collected their rewards.
The girly girl skipped up to receive her cocoa pod.
Kaobawa and Arwen helped Quinton up when he tripped on his untied shoelaces.
The highbrow didn’t react as he stood up. One final cocoa pod remained on the platter.
“The next cocoa pod goes to…”
“...Jessica Crystal again!”
Rhonda pulled out another cocoa pod from under her podium and handed it to J.C.
“You’re just so amazing, we had to give you another!”
“How kind,” Jessica Crystal replied as the others nodded. “I would like to know who is going home though.”
“Right. In a 5 to 6 vote, the final cocoa pod goes to…”
“...Rubella. It’s time to go Eddie.”
“What?” Montana asked. “No way.”
“Ha!” Rubella cackled. “Hahahahaha...uhhhhh.”
While she was laughing, Jenny threw her cocoa pod. it landed in Rubella’s throat. She fell to the ground choking. Again.
“Sadical!” Eddie said. “I don’t get it, why me dudes?”
Brantley glared, rubbing the back of his head. “It’s a real mystery.”
Rubella was still on the ground, convulsing as her face turned red.
Eddie sighed, lying down on the stone slab. “I’ll miss you Montana.”
Montana nodded. “Yeah. It’ll be less fun without you Dead Ed.”
“So, now what Rhondudette?”
The hosts smirked. All of the torches suddenly went out. The stone slab lifted Eddie over the edge of the temple and dumped him into the Amazon River.
“Woo!” he cheered. “So that’s the Fall of Losers?”
“No. That’s the Fall of Losers.”
Rhonda pointed to the end of the river. Eddie turned to see a giant waterfall, this one over a thousand feet tall.
“The Waterfall of Losers.”
Eddie laughed as he fell over the edge. “Sweeeeeettttttttt…”
The hosts turned to the explorers. Rubella was still on the floor violently choking.
“You’ve survived your first day in the Amazon. Here’s hoping you survive a second.”
“Rubella seems like the obvious choice,” Dolly said in the confessional, “but Eddie hindered us today too. Rubella at least tried at the challenge. Eddie just laughed while we almost died several times. If Rubella sucks, we vote her off next. Eddie might get us killed before we could do the same.”
Dolly smirked. “Well...that’s the bug I put in some of the others’ ears. Eddie is obviously nuts, but my real worry was the gender divide. Dude’s alliances are way too common on these shows. If we vote off Rubella first, the guys might ban together and target the rest of us girls. I want to keep Rubella around to avoid that.”
Chapter 3 Duel Intentions
Rubella’s face was purple, still choking.
Jessica Crystal slapped her on the back, and the diva hacked up her cocoa pod. She glared as the goddess towered over her.
“I think it’s time we return to camp,” J.C. said. “We need a good night’s sleep after today. We can talk about what happened tomorrow morning.”
The Anacondas nodded and followed J.C. out the temple. Rubella trailed behind in the back.
“This is great!” Rubella cackled. “I mean, technically I almost went home if it weren’t for one vote. But... I’m still here! I know exactly who lead the votes against me; Jessica Crystal. Now, it’s time for my Rrrrrrrubella Revenge™ !”
Returning to base camp, the Anacondas ran into a new problem.
“There are eleven of us but only five tents,” Luis said.
“You can fit two people to a tent,” Montana suggested.
“That still leaves an odd man out,” Arwen added.
Montana shook his head. “I’ll think I’ll sleep outside tonight.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Tim asked.
Montana winked. “Don’t worry about me. I’ve slept in more treetops than beds! There’s plenty of room, if anyone decides to join me.”
Before anyone could argue, he already climbed into a tree and passed out.
“Uh...okay then,” Arwen said.
Jessica Crystal held a handful of sticks in each hand.
“We’ll draw straws,” she proposed. “Whoever gets matching straws will share a tent. One set for the girls, one for the boys.”
The Anacondas agreed, each drawing a stick.
Arwen tried not to squeal as she and J.C. had matching sticks. Rubella and Dolly made faces at each other..
Flynn gave Tim a suspicious look as they matched straws. Luis glomped his new roommate Brantley, choking the shorter boy. Kaobawa forced a smile at Quinton, as the rapper tried to ‘raise the roof’ but pulled his wrist.
Everyone was too tired to argue over their roommate, so each pair took the closest tent and fell asleep.
The next morning, Cecilia yawned, stretching her arms out. She laid in one of a handful of hammocks that filled the Capybaras’ lower deck. She frowned as she oversaw her surroundings and tiptoed out of bed, almost all her teammates still sleeping.
Reaching the boathouse’s upper deck, Cecilia knelt before the river and took a drink. She scowled at her disheveled reflection.
“I specifically requested makeup and wardrobe if I were to do this show. Idiots…”
She looked up as In A Gadda Da Vida jumped on the ship.
“Morning dear. Where were you?”
“Um, nowhere,” Vida replied. “Or...over there. Somewhere.”
Cecilia raised an eyebrow. “I see. Well, wherever you went you shouldn’t go alone. There’s all sorts of danger out there.”
Vida nodded. “Thanks by the way.”
“You’re welcome! What I’m being thanked for?”
“Saving me during the river rafting challenge.”
“Oh! Of course, you unusual everyday girl. I was happy too.”
In A Gadda Da Vida smiled. She walked back down to the lower deck.
Cecilia beamed and started humming to herself.
At the Anacondas’ camp, Kaobawa was the first up. Leaving camp, he returned in about thirty minutes with cashews and a slain squirrel. Making a fire, he started roasting the nuts.
“Mmm, smells good K.”
Kaobawa looked up to see Montana tied to a tree. The adventurer yawned and nodded at his teammate.
Kaobwawa snickered and waved. “Glad to know someone else is a morning bird,” Montana said. “The earlier you’re up, the more fun you can fit in a day.”
He leapt down from the treetops, landing on his feet.
Kaobawa nodded. He stuck the squirrel on a makeshift skewer and started cooking it.
“Sorry Eddie go.”
Montana shrugged. “I’ll get over it. Why did you vote him off?”
“He kill us all.”
Montana started laughing. “You think? I’m sure he wouldn’t have.”
Kaobawa raised an eyebrow.
“Okay, maybe injured us or himself. You gotta admit, his deadliness was attractive.”
The smell of breakfast eventually woke up even the heaviest sleepers on the Anacondas. Thanking Kaobawa for his food, they scarfed it down in moments. “That was amazing Kaobawa,” Dolly sighed.
Her stomach started growling again. Kaobawa smirked.
“What?” Dolly asked. “Just cause it was good doesn’t mean I’m full.”
“I could go for second breakfast,” Arwen admitted.
Most of the other Anacondas nodded.
“I think you guys are going to have to adjust your appetites,” Montana laughed.
“Yo K-dawg, why don’t you take us hunting?” Quinton asked.
“Hunting?” Kaobawa asked.
“Yeah homie. We go bust a spear inside a jaguar or somethin’. Then we feast like kings!”
“No kill jaguar,” Kaobawa said. “Jaguar kill you.”
“Hunting does sound fun,” Arwen admitted. “I’d love to practice some tracking skills for when I’m L.A.R.P.ing as a ranger.”
Kaobawa scratched his head. “Uhhh…”
Quinton fell to the ground, grabbing Kaobawa’s foot. “Come on K-dawg! I wanna go hunting real, real, real, bad! Please! Please! Please!”
Kaobawa rolled his eyes. “We hunt.”
Quinton jumped up. “Oh yeah! Swaggy Q is going to kill a gorilla!”
Kaobawa sat in the confessional. He spoke, then translators repeated his message. “I’m not held accountable if anything happens to that small child.”
“Four people go,” Kaobawa stated. “Yemanquo hunt in fours.”
“No sweat G,” Quinton replied. “Luis, you want to go hunting?
“Me?” Luis asked.
“Yeah L-Money, you’re huge. You could snap a turtle in half with your bare hands.”
Luis shuddered. “I’ll pass. I’m not even hungry.”
“All you ate was cashews!”
“I’ll go!” Dolly volunteered. “Sounds interesting.”
Kaobawa smirked. “Gather bamboo. We make spears.”
The Chief led his new hunting party off into the forest.
“We might need more food,” Montana said. “I’ll go foraging in the woods.”
Luis immediately shot up. “I’ll come too!”
“It’s dangerous to go gallivanting in the Amazon by yourself,” Brantley said. “I’ll join you.”
“Sounds like a splendid idea,” J.C. said. “The rest of us should keep the fire going, maybe make a way to protect it if it starts raining again. I’ll design a fire pit. Rubella, Tim, and Flynn, could you gather firewood?”
“You’d like that wouldn’t you?” Rubella asked.
“I would, yes. Thank you for realizing that!”
Rubella scoffed, but went off with the boys to get to work.
At the Capybaras boat, everyone woke up eventually but found no breakfast waiting for them.
“Man, wish we had leftovers from that feast last night,” Giovanni said.
“Yeah, we could keep them in the fridge we don’t have,” Octasia replied.
“Maybe we should head out in groups and start looking for food,” Plath suggested.
“If we’re hunting we need weapons,” Savannah added. “We can’t just ask an animal nicely if we want to eat it.”
“We need firewood too,” Cecilia said. “Sleeping near water makes the nights terribly cold, but also humid.”
Heloise cleared her throat. “Let's split into three groups. The Ham can handle any animal, so I’ll lead the hunting group. Norris, you went camping. You know how to make fire?”
Norris shrugged. “My mom tried to teach me how without matches, but I wasn’t great.”
“Better than nothing. You’ll lead the wood gathering and firemaking. Anyone know anything about gathering plants?”
Welker shifted his eyes. “Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. Who’s asking?”
The Ham flared her nostrils. “Do you actually know how to identify plants, or are those more stories?”
“Stories are the things the government has Buzzfeed write,” Welker replied. “I’ve been on stake outs that last days in the woods while hunting hidebehinds and hodags. So yeah, I’ve picked up a few things.”
Heloise sighed. “It’ll have to do. You’re in charge of the foraging group. Each group should have four members. That way we can practice the buddy system.”
“Who died and made you head cheese?” Giovanni asked.
“Yeah, just because you can talk loudest doesn’t mean you should lead,” Mana Somebody said.
“I don’t care who leads,” Heloise said. “But if we spend all day talking, nothing gets done. THE HAM WANTS ACTION. So if you have a better plan, let’s hear it.”
“I was just saying,” Giovanni muttered.
“Whatever,” Mana added.
Eventually four groups were formed. Heloise, In A Gadda Da Vida, Giovanni and Zane would make weapons and go hunting. Welker, Savannah, Mana Somebody and Cecilia would go foraging. Finally, Norris, Plath, Cassidy and Octasia would gather firewood and make a fire.
At the Anaconda’s camp, J.C. tended to the fire.
“It would be nice if we had more to eat.”
A bird suddenly dived from the sky, impaling itself on her skewer. He gave a thumbs up to Jessica Crystal before dying.
“Hmm,” she said. “How courteous!”
Rubella stomped over, dropping a pile of sticks. She glared at her teammate, who waved at her.
“thAnks ruBelLA,” the diva mocked. “Really? Really? You’re going to act like that?”
“I know you tried to blindside me last night. I mean, smart of you to realize I am the biggest threat, but you totally failed!”
Jessica Crystal laughed. “Oh Rubella. I didn’t vote for you.”
“No. Eddie was clearly the bigger concern. He was much more risky and dangerous to keep around.”
Rubella crossed her arms, frowning and staring down J.C.
“You think everyone here likes you. They’ll do whatever you want because you asked. Not me.”
Jessica Crystal’s sparkling amethyst eyes widened. “What?”
“I don’t like you. You’re not all that.”
She gasped. “I...I can’t believe it.”
“No one has said something so nice before!”
“Well I….wait, what?”
Jessica Crystal jumped up and glomped Rubella.
“Oh thank you Rubella, thank you so much!”
“Don’t touch me!” Rubella screamed.
“I’m sorry,” J.C. replied. “You see, everyone immediately loves and worships me. I’m always being treated differently. Not like a real person.”
Rubella raised an eyebrow.
“People are constantly fawning over me,” J.C. explained. “Or doing special things for me without asking. Not to mention I’ve never had to try at anything before. Everything I do, I do it perfectly the first time. It’s just so hard having your entire life be easy.”
Jessica Crystal sighed, lying against Rubella. Rubella scoffed and pushed her away. “In reality, being this perfect...it’s a curse!”
Rubella rubbed her thumb and finger together. “I bet. I’m playing the world’s tiniest violin for you.”
“That’s very funny,” J.C. replied, “Although I do actually own the world’s tiniest violin. I built it along with all other tiniest instruments in the world.”
Jessica Crystal shed a single, glistening tear. “The truth is...I’m so amazing I killed my parents just by existing.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
Jessica Crystal shook her head. “The doctors say when I was born, my parents took one look at me and were so overcome with joy they had a heart attack. It was the fastest heart attack ever.”
Jessica Crystal put her hand on Rubella’s shoulder. “You’re the first person to actually treat me any different. That means so much to me. You’re such a sweetheart Rubella.”
Rubella just stared, jaw dropped at J.C.
“It’s very hard for me to admit my tragic backstory,” Jessica Crystal said. “I appreciate Rubella for listening. I’m glad to know there’s someone so nice and trustful on my team like her.”
“Oh I am so voting her off next,” Rubella stated. “But I’m going to need more than my vote to do it. My strategy is to get two other explorers in an alliance with me. I just need to find people who are desperate or dumb enough to do whatever I say.”
She smirked. “And I knew the perfect pair…”
Kaobawa had led his teammates to bamboo. Using rocks, he taught them to sharpen the wood into spears.
Dolly and Quinton were walking forward, as Arwen tried to ask Kaobawa questions about spear-making for possible future L.A.R.P.ing characters.
“By the way,” Dolly whispered. “I wanted to say I appreciate you voting for Eddie.”
Quinton shrugged. “Whatevah. I was just followin’ my home bois! They thought it was a good idea.”
Dolly rolled her eyes. “Glad to know you’re such an independent thinker.”
“Don’t forget it!”
Quinton suddenly stopped and shushed everyone. He pointed to the trees, at a series of leaves.
“I don’t see any-”
Suddenly, one of the leaves moved. It started chewing another.
“It’s a leaf-mimic katydid,” Quinton gasped.
“Cool,” Arwen whispered, stepping forward.
The katydid noticed the group. She froze and hid herself against the leaves.
“They’ve learned to mimic the leaves,” Quinton said. “To hide from monkeys.”
“Why does it look like there are holes in her body?” Dolly asked.
“To look like real leaves,” Quinton explained. They can look like dead leaves, new leaves, speckled leaves. Even chewed. No two of those katydids look alike.”
“How do you know so much about them?” Arwen asked.
“Yo, that’s cause...because insects are fascinating.”
Dolly snuck back to Kaobawa. He nodded at her.
“Thanks for voting for Eddie last night,” she whispered.
“Thank you,” he replied.
“You ask me.”
Dolly shrugged. “Of course. I wanted to know what you were thinking. Glad we thought the same.” “I… it means...yes”
Deep in the rainforest, Luis, Montana and Brantley were gathering their own food.
“We’re fortunate we have a wilderness expert on our team,” Brantley said.
“I wouldn’t say I’m an expert,” Montana said. “I certainly don’t know a lot about the Amazon. It’s as much a mystery to me as it is for you guys.”
“Still, you’ve foraged before,” Luis said. “Any tips?”
“Avoid shiny leaves, if it’s soapy or bitter spit it out, and most mushrooms are toxic so you’re just better off not dealing with them.”
Luis nodded, before gasping and pointing to a nearby tree. Growing on some vines were yellow to brownish fruits.
“Passion fruit!” Luis said.
“Nice eye Luis,” Montana said.
“Forgive me, but I thought passion fruits were red or purple,” Brantley said.
“Some kinds are,” Luis said, “but another kind is yellow. I go to my local market a lot, so I’ve seen them.”
Montana started scaling the tree. Talking out a large knife, he cut the fruits from the vine and tossed them to his teammates.
“It’s nice the Amazon is home to so many fruits,” Montana admitted. “Without a guide to edible plants, it’s harder to tell what is and isn’t safe to eat. Fruits are generally a good bet though. And most meats.”
Luis lowered his head.
“You don’t eat meat, do you?” Brantley asked.
“How did you-”
“You only ate nuts at breakfast,” Brantley said. “You didn’t want to go hunting but were eager to forage...I’m just inferring, but I take it I’m right?”
Luis nodded. “I’m vegan.”
“Yikes,” Montana said, “I hope us eating meat isn’t-”
“-I don’t mind,” Luis said. “I’m not opposed to the idea of eating meat. A lot of animals do. I became vegan because I wasn’t comfortable supporting the meat industry and its treatment of animals. Plus...I can’t help seeing a baby animal every time I try. But I would never force anyone to be vegan, especially when we’re starving in the jungle.”
“I don’t plan on telling anyone,” Brantley said. “I just wanted to confirm my theory. Although, if I figured it out I’m sure the others will...some of them...eventually.”
Luis smiled. “Thanks. I wanted to tell everyone, but I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I’ll forage extra hard, just to make sure I’m not taking too much food.”
“You’re fine,” Montana said. “Even if it’s harder to find edible plants, the Rainforest is a giant garden.”
“I’ll help you forage too,” Brantley added.
“You don’t have to,” Luis said.
Brantley shrugged. “I don’t see why not. We need all our strength up for challenges. Besides, meat spoils quicker. Hoarding plants is a smart option.”
Luis pulled Brantley into a hug, hoisting up the short highbrow and crushing him in a bear hug. “Thanks Brantley.”
Montana jumped down from the tree. He scratched the stubble on his face. “So I get why Luis wanted to forage...but is there another reason you wanted to come Brantley?”
“It was mostly for numbers,” Brantley said. “However, I was hoping to clarify my rationale for voting for Eddie.”
“Don’t sweat it,” Montana said. “Kaobawa explained it to me this morning.”
Brantley raised an eyebrow. “Really?”
“He was reckless and dangerous,” Montana replied. “I get it.”
“Still, I know you were upset and wanted to apologize,” Brantley said.
"Thanks. I know I just met the guy, but he was cool. I kind of had a crush on him.”
“You did?” Luis asked.
“What can I say?” Montana replied. “Dumb but sweet and excited guys are my type.”
“I got the impression you were interested in that actress,” Brantley said.
“Hehe, I do have a thing for actresses.”
“You said you were kind of into Rubella too,” Luis said.
Montana shrugged. “I am. I mean divas are very hot. It never ends well, but I can’t stop dating them. You know?”
Montana started marching forward as Luis and Brantley shared a look.
“I was a little nervous about admitting I was vegan,” Luis said. “I don’t want to feel like a burden to my team. I definitely don’t want to go home soon. Brantley and Montana were super cool about it though. It’s nice to be able to be yourself with people, especially in a game like this.”
“It sucks about Eddie, but I’ll get over it,” Montana said. “We weren’t even a thing. He probably didn’t notice. He was kind of an oblivious guy. That was his downfall, but also very attractive. Still, there are other people here. Luis and Brantley seem nice...plus they’re kind of cute too. I don’t know what is about hairy environmentalists and dapper rich boys but…”
While Octasia and Norris went to cut down bamboo, Cassidy and Plath split off to gather firewood.
Cassidy, looking bored, was barely gathering wood as Plath worked over with a large bundle.
“Hey Cassidy. Can I ask you something?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah sure. What’s up?”
Plath shrugged. “Well, I noticed you’ve been pretty quiet. Like during the last challenge or the barbecue. You mostly kept to yourself, just watching everyone and...I think I know what’s up.”
Cassidy gulped. “You do?”
“You’re really nervous about being on TV.”
Cassidy forced a smile. “Yes, yes that’s it. So nervous!”
“Me too!” Plath replied. “I mean it’s exciting, but so much is happening! Anyway, I wanted to say I feel you and I’m here if you need to talk. I want us girls to stick together.”
Cassidy raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“I just mean, we’re on a team of eight girls. We should be supporting each other.”
“Like an all girls’ alliance?”
Plath shrugged. “Not like that. I don’t want to vote off the boys for no reason. They seem really nice and cool. I just think us girls should hear each other out. Reality shows make all women seem petty and boy crazy. This show wants us to be catty and backstab each other, but that doesn’t mean we have to.”
“I completely agree!” Cassidy replied. “I just can’t stand watching girls like that.”
“Plath is already throwing your name out.”
Giovanni and Cassidy were alone on the boathouse’s deck. “Wait, for real?”
Cassidy nodded. “You didn’t hear it from me, but Plath is trying to form an all girls’ alliance.”
“Seriously?” Giovanni asked.
“I know, right?” Cassidy said. “I don’t think I’m the first girl she’s talked to either.”
Giovanni sighed. “Dang. I thought she was nice.”
“Yeah,” Cassidy sighed. “I told her I’d consider it, but really I wouldn’t. I mean that feminazi attitude makes all us women look bad.”
“Two can play that game,” Giovanni stated. “I’ll just have to get her out before she gets me. Thanks for the heads up Cassidy. You’re a real one.”
Cassidy smirked. “Of course. I just believe in being honest.”
“I’m not here for fame or fortune,” Cassidy admitted, typing away on her cellphone and not bothering to look up from her screen. “Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to win. I’ll put the 2 mill to good use. I plan on hosting Celebrity Manhunt soon. First they have to fire that current hag, probably as soon as she can’t hide she’s forty with slowtox and hair extensions.”
She looked up to the camera and smirked. “I’m here for one thing; dramaaaaaaaa! And if there isn’t any...then I’ll just make my own.”
By the end of the day, both teams had their issues.
The Bootylicious Anacondas hunt had been mostly a bust. All they caught was Quinton when he fell from a tree a squirrel chased him up. Even then, they dropped him after catching him.
The foraging was much more successful however, with guavas, passionfruit and some other edible plants. Jessica Crystal’s fire pit was naturally perfect. This was not surprising, as she was an award-winning artisanal fire pit maker.
The Gregarious Capybaras were successful in the hunt, slaying a whole boar. The foraging not so much. Welker’s party had managed to bring in a few fruits...but they didn’t know to avoid mushrooms. It was only after Cecilia, who picked and carried them, got a rash on her hands that they threw the fungus out.
It took several tries, but Norris started a fire...for about five minutes. No one could make a long lasting fire. Eventually, the Capybaras would start one fire and immediately start another, just to try and get their hog cooked. When it looked like their plan might actually work...the rain started.
Both teams found themselves going to bed hungry over the next two days.
“I’m proud I’ll be the first winner to ever have an OTTP edit in the history of this show,” Mana announced. “However, things have not been as positive these past few days. My plan was to seduce all the guys but…”
Mana Somebody strolled up to Giovanni. The Jersey jock raised an eyebrow as she ran two fingers up his abs.
Giovanni smirked. “S’up gorgeous?”
“I was just thinking how hungry I was, and then saw a giant beefcake.”
“Giant beefcake?” Giovanni asked. “Aw man, that would totally fill our team. Where did you see it?”
Mana stared. “I...I meant you.”
“Ohhh. That was flirty talk.”
“Yeah, so...why don’t you and I go off into the woods together and get our lips better acquainted.”
“Uhh...I think i hear Norris calling my name.”
“What? I don’t-”
“Yup, that was totally Norris. Can’t leave a bro hanging. Bye!”
Giovanni ran off in a random direction into the woods.
Mana Somebody sat on the ship’s deck sunbathing. She smirked as Norris walked by.
Norris stopped as she waved to him.
“Oh Mana. How are ya now?”
“Better now that you're here. Would you mind applying sunblock to my back.”
Norris rubbed the back of his head. “Well, I was actually doing something-”
“Will it take long?”
“I might need you to unfasten my top, just to make sure you get it all…”
“Oh look, it’s Vida. Vida, would you mind helping Mana sunblock her back?”
In A Gadda Da Vida shrugged. “Sure.”
“Wait,” Mana Somebody said. “I-”
“Nice talking to ya, but I got to scoot eh.”
Norris handed the sunblock bottle to Vida and dashed off. Vida squeezed a giant glob of sunblock on Mana’s back.
“Did you know that people have invented an ‘edible sunscreen’ in the form of pills and gummies?” Vida asked. “They supposedly block UV rays based off of similar abilities in plants and marine animals.”
Mana groaned and banged her head against the ship’s deck.
Welker was hiding in some nearby bushes, using binoculars to watch a sloth.
“Sloths,” he muttered, “The world’s most dangerous, and secretly fastest, animals…”
Mana Somebody strolled up. “Oh hey Welker.”
“Shhh, don’t let the sloth hear my actual fake name.”
“Right...listen, I wanted your opinion. I think I sat on some gum and it’s stuck on my butt.”
She turns around in front of Welker. “Do you see anything?”
Welker rubs his chin. “Gum? How did any gum get here?”
“Someone must have brought some.”
“That’s what the gum would want you to think. It’s probably the Mapinguari! It’s already playing mind games with us.”
“What about my butt?”
“I’ve got to prepare!”
Welker threw down a smoke bomb. Mana coughed violently as the smoke cleared...and Welker was still there.
"...I’m still working on that,” Welker admitted. He ran off, leaving an annoyed Mana.
“What a loon, how did-ahhhhh!”
Suddenly, the sloth quickly leapt from the tree and started attacking Mana.
Mana sat in the confessional, arms crossed. “These guys are ignoring all of my brilliant flirtation plans! Giovanni is all talk, but no bite. Norris is no talk, and Welker is messed up in the head. I don’t get it! Is...is it me?”
She sits quietly for a moment, staring at the floor...before bursting into laughter. “Seriously though, what is up?”
“Don’t get me wrong eh,” Norris said. “That Mana Somebody is a rocket alright, but it’s clear she has a personality of a goose. Which if you know anything about geese, you know they’re the dickens. Besides, there is someone else I’m kind of liking.”
Mana Somebody sat on the deck of the ship, looking dejected.
“Hey Mana. What’s wrong?”
Mana looked up to see Zane towering over her. “It’s nothing,” she replied.
“Are you sure?” Zane asked. “Maybe I can help? Even if it is just listening.”
Mana Somebody’s eyes widened. She suddenly got an idea. An awful idea. That Mana Somebody got a wonderful, awful idea.
She motioned Zane to sit next to her. As soon as he did, she laid down in his lap.
“Oh Zane, it’s so hard...adjusting to being out in the wilderness.”
“Tell me about it. I’m ashamed to admit how much time I spent on my computer.”
“It’s more than that. It’s the survival element. Even at night, I get so cold in my hammock.”
Zane nodded. Maybe we’ll win blankets. If you want to borrow an extra shirt you can. Probably wearing more than a bikini to sleep in wouldn’t hurt...no offense.”
Mana grimaced, before fake pouting. “You don’t like what I’m wearing?”
Zane gulped as she looked up at his face, caressing it with her hand. “I never said that...just...um…”
“I’m glad you like it. I just wish I could feel warmer at night...like I do know in your lap. Any ideas on how to help?”
“Errrrr...me no...you hot, I mean...me...keep warm…”
“You’d keep me warm!” Mana said in an obviously fake surprised tone. “You’d come snuggle with me in my hammock? I’m sure I’d be warmer with these big, noodly arms around me. Would you?”
Zane looked at Mana, little cupids with afros surrounding her. He opened his mouth and made a noise like a horse flapping it’s lips.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Mana Somebody flipped her hair. “I still got it! I may not be able to control all the guys...yet, but I can make a showmance with Zane and use that to gain some leverage over my team.”
“Okay, so I’ve probably developed a slight crush on most of the girls on my team,” Zane said. “But I think Mana is actually flirting with me. I mean, she kind of flirts with everyone including her own reflection...but I’m pretty sure that was different.
"I was really smitten with Heloise, but I feel like she’d only date a guy who could beat her in combat or something. Maybe I should give Mana a chance...”
“Would I only date someone who could beat me in combat?” The Ham asked. She chuckled heartily. “Of course not. BECAUSE NO ONE BEATS THE HAM. The Ham redefined undefeatable; that’s why The Ham is listed as one of the authors of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary! LOOK IT UP.”
Heloise crossed her arms. “I wouldn’t say I have high standards when it comes to dating, but if I’m going to take time away from my training...you better be worth it.”
In a secluded part of the forest, Rubella brought Dolly and Arwen with her.
“What did you need our help with exactly?” Arwen asked.
“I don’t,” Rubella said. “I just wanted to talk to you alone.”
“If this about elimination, I didn’t vote you off,” Dolly replied.
Arwen shifted her eyes. “Um, yeah. Me neither.”
“I know,” Rubella said. “I want to invite you two to join an alliance with me.”
Dolly and Arwen shared a look. “Really?”
Rubella nodded. “I think it’d be a great opportunity for all of us! We could take control of the game.”
“With three people on a team of eleven?” Arwen asked.
“If you don’t want to, I’ll just find someone else.”
Dolly giggled. “Oh yeah, like one of the five people who voted for you? It sounds like you need us.”
Rubella scoffed, but Dolly held her finger to the diva’s face. “I’m not against the idea of us forming an alliance though.”
“Really?” Arwen asked.
“Yeah, really?” Rubella said.
Dolly nodded. “Between us, I’m a little worried about the guys joining up. Especially closer to the merge if a bunch of girls come from the Capybaras.”
“So we should form a girls’ alliance?” Arwen said. “Isn’t that doing what you’re afraid the guys will do?”
“Maybe it’s hypocritical, but we may need to act before we regret it.”
Rubella smirked. “So you’re in?”
Arwen shrugged and nodded.
Suddenly, Jessica Crystal walked out. “Oh, hey girls. I was just out collecting some fruits.” “Perfect timing J.C.,” Dolly said, “as expected of you.”
“Yeah,” Arwen said, “We were just forming-”
Rubella coughed loudly. “Um, exsqueeze me ladies! Hold that thought.”
She yanked Dolly and Arwen to the side and formed a huddle. “You can’t seriously be thinking about including her in this alliance!”
“It’s a girls’ alliance,” Arwen said. “She’s the only other girl on the team. Why wouldn’t we?”
“As captain of this alliance-”
“Yeah, you’re not captain,” Dolly stated. “This is a democratically elected alliance.”
Rubella sighed and turned to Jessica Crystal. “They were wondering if you wanted to join my...our alliance.”
“A girls’ alliance?” Jessica Crystal asked. “That might be a smart idea, Rubella.”
Rubella flipped her hair. “It’s a genius idea from a genius.”
Dolly squealed and glomped the girls. J.C. smiled, Rubella glared at her and Arwen forced a smile.
“I’m not crazy about this alliance,” Arwen said. “Don’t get me wrong, all the other girls...two of the other girls seem nice and cool. But do girls’ alliances ever work in this show? It’s not like I could say no in front of them though.”
“That could’ve gone better,” Rubella admitted. “Still...I have an alliance. And maybe I can’t get rid of that annoying Jessica Crystal yet...but you keep your friends close and your enemies closer. I can keep an eye on her, use her and then betray her later!”
She rubbed her hands together, laughing. “Even when my schemes go wrong I still make brillant plans.”
At the next challenge, the explorers were told to wear their swimsuits. Despite already wearing a swimsuit, Mana Somebody changed into a yellow bikini patterned with little black polka dots.
Boats took each team to a calm bend in the river. Two sides of bleachers were suspended in the water. They sat in front of a fallen tree that was lodged in the pass.
Rhonda and her co-hosts sat nearby, in a hut-styled lifeguard tower.
“Hey explorers,” Rhonda greeted. “How are you enjoying the Amazon?”
Most of the teens glared.
“Geez, forget I asked. Let’s get ready for today’s challenge! It’s pretty simple. One member from each team will duel each on this log. First to knock their opponent into the river scores a point. Sound simple enough?”
“Very,” Octasia said. “So what’s the catch?”
“Aww, they’re learning,” Jenny laughed.
“I’ll guess you’ll just have to find out. Matches are randomly selected. Each of you has a pugil stick under your seat. First team to score six points wins. Now let’s get to our first match. For the Capybaras, Giovanni!”
The jersey jock jumped up, flexing his guns.
“For the Anacondas...Dolly!”
Dolly smirked, skipping onto the log.
“You’re kiddin me, right?” Giovanni asked. “I don’t want to beat up a toddler.”
Dolly sniffed the air. “Does anyone else smell that? Deep fried, breaded, eleven herbs and spices...smells like a...CHICKEN! Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk!”
Dolly crossed her eyes and clucked at Giovanni, flapping her arms and pretending to eat seed.
Giovanni glared. “Alright Cabbage Patch, you wanna fight? You got a Jersey fight!”
Both explorers grabbed their pugil stick. Dolly motioned Giovanni to come at her. He charged at her, swinging his weapon, but Dolly guarded.
“Hi-yah!” she cried. With a swift chop, she knocked Giovanni’s pugil stick out his hand. She jumped, kicking him in the head. Giovanni tried to grab her, but she pirouetted around him….before kicking him in the crotch.
Every guy groaned.
Dolly waved her fingers at the jock, before shoving him into the water.
“And in quick timing, the Bootylicious Anacondas take the lead!”
Dolly curtised and skipped back to her seat.
“I’m a black belt in karate,” Dolly explained. “The uniforms aren’t that fashionable, but I make it work. I know it’s only supposed to be for self-defense, but I was defending myself against stupidity.”
Giovanni jumped out the water. Small, red-bellied fish were biting into his skin.
“Get em off me, get em off me!” he yelled.
“Oops,” Rhonda said, “Did we forget to mention these waters are a breeding ground for red-bellied piranhas?”
The co-hosts snickered.
Giovanni scowled as Norris patted his back and removed a piranha.
“Did you know that the Mario enemies Piranha Plants are called Pakkun Flowers in Japan,” Ina Gadda Da Vida explained. “Pakkun means eating something whole and sounds like the Japanese onomatopoeia for flapping your mouth open and closed. That’s where Pac-Man gets his name.”
“Huh, I thought Pac-Man was a family name,” Zane said. “That’s why is wife is Ms. Pac-Man.”
“Let’s keep it going with the foreigner vs the local; Norris and Kaobawa!”
Norris raised an eyebrow. “Sure doesn’t sound random.”
Both boys grabbed their weapons and got their footing on the log.
The two opponents shared a look, then charged. Kaobawa was bigger, but Norris wasn’t giving any ground.
“Go Norris!” Octasia cheered.
“You got this N-man!” Giovanni shouted.
“Knock him down Flannel,” Savannah said.
Norris smirked and started pushing Kaobawa back.
“Man, Norris looks like a teddy bear but he’s actually kind of tough,” Giovanni admitted. “Like a real bear. Does North Mexico have bears? Probably polar bears cause it’s cold, right?”
“Norris swung quickly. Kaobawa glared, blocking. With a tackle, he sent the Canadian to the ground.
“Yes!” Dolly cheered. “Way to go Kaobawa.”
Kaobawa looked at her and blushed...before Norris uppercut him with a low blow. Kaobawa fell off.
“Don’t celly just yet dude.”
Octasia whistled as the rest of the Capybaras hollered.
“And we’re tied, a point each for the Gregarious Capybaras and the Bootylicious Anacondas!”
Kaobawa rose from the water. He looked up to see Dolly holding out her hand.
“Sorry. I think I distracted you.”
Kaobawa nodded...then shook his head...then shrugged.
He reached out for her hand...before a piranha jumped and bit down on his finger.
“Next up we have...Welker vs. Luis!”
The conspiracy theorist reluctantly made his way to the log. He stared down Luis. Rhonda blew her whistle. Both boys stood there, waiting for the other to move.
“Somebody do something already,” Cassidy sighed.
“You got this Luis!” Montana cheered.
“But...” Luis said. “But I don’t want us to fall on the piranhas and injure them!”
Brantley facepalmed. “I’d worry about the reverse.”
“I’m not going down there!” Welker cried. “He’s way too suspicious!”
“Me, suspicious?” Luis asked.
“I saw you talking to birds the first day. Everyone knows the government replaced all birds with tiny people in disguised flight suits.”
“I didn’t know that,” Vida whispered.
“You’re freakishly tall and hairy too,” Welker said. “Probably a mutant satyr.”
Luis blushed. “Aw, thanks!”
“I don’t think it was a compliment,” Arwen said.
“Why wouldn't it be? Satyrs are cool!”
“If somebody doesn’t attack I’ll take a point away from each team,” Rhonda said.
Luis sighed, charging forward at Welker. Welker guarded with his pugil stick, then starting repeatedly swatting at Luis. Luis seemed more annoyed than anything.
The nature lover grabbed Welker’s weapon out of his hand, tossing it to Montana.
“Crap,” Welker muttered.
He turned to run, but Luis grabbed him by his shirt neck. Even though Welker was a little taller, Luis lifted him up and gently set him in the water before immediately pulling him out.
“Uhh...I guess Luis wins.”
“Sorry Welker,” Luis said.
“I’m watching you,” Welker whispered.
“Our next competitors are going to be…Cecilia and Arwen!” Rhonda announced.
Cecilia leapt out onto the overturned tree, while Arwen tried to keep her balance on the log.
“Watch your step darling,” Cecilia teased.
“You should watch out,” Arwen replied, still trying to remain steady.
Cecilia mock laughed, before stomping a foot forward and startling the roleplayer. “I should warn you, I’m very graceful. Like the love child of a swan and a gazelle. A swanzelle, if you will.”
“Oh yeah,” Arwen said. “Well I’m like a mix between uh…uh…”
“A goat!” Montana shouted.
“Butterfly!” Dolly suggested.
“A goat butterfly mix,” Arwen yelled. “A goatbutter! Wait…”
Cecilia pounced forward, feigning to the left but then swinging to the right. Arwen stumbled backwards as the actress tiptoed forward, easily dodging her opponent’s erratic swings.
“Aim low and break her legs!” Dolly said.
Kaobawa raised an eyebrow.
“What?” Dolly asked. “She’s an actress, she’s used to it.”
Cecilia smacked Arwen playfully in the face, before swinging low and upper cutting her chin.
“I’ve been trained in stage combat since I was seven. I’ve played all four of the Three Musketeers in a one-woman show! Have you even lifted a sword?”
Arwen glared, trying and failing to swat her. “I’ve forged several of my own blades!”
Cecilia knocked Arwen’s weapon from her hands. “Cardboard doesn’t count.”
The actress pushed her back, as if she was going to have Arwen walk the plank.
“Just as in nature, the swanzelle has bested the goatbutter.”
Arwen sighed and lowered her head. “Okay, you got me. But before you send me overboard I just want to say...you have something stuck in your teeth.”
Cecilia gasped and gritted her teeth. “Where? Where?”
Arwen shoved her off the log into the water.
“And the Bootylicious Anacondas take the lead!”
Cecilia rose from the water and began clapping. “Bravo! Bravo! Your ingenious genius tactics have bested me. I must now eat my words, just as these piranhas eat into my flesh. Bravo I say!”
Cecilia continued clapping as even the piranhas joined in. Arwen blushed and bowed…tripping and falling into the water headfirst.
“Our next duel is Cassidy...vs. Jessica Crystal!”
The Capybaras gasped.
Cassidy seemed unphased however, not even looking up from her phone. “Yeah, I forfeit.”
“Jessica Crystal is a MMA champion,” Cassidy answered. “She runs a chain of award-winning dojos. She’s invented her own type of jiu-jitsu.”
“It’s true,” Jessica Crystal said. “My pupils nickname it JC-jitsu.”
“She’ll beat me easily. I’d rather not get up close and personal with piranhas. So I forfeit.”
“You could at least go out fighting,” Heloise said. “Knowing you tried. Quitting leaves you without any pride.”
“Hmm, guess I’ll just have to settle for having all my flesh,” Cassidy replied.
“Fine,” Rhonda said. “J.C. wins the match!”
The Anacondas clapped as Jessica Crystal shrugged.
“Then let’s move on to the next fight. Octasia vs Montana!”
Montana smiled and tipped his hat at the Capybara section.
“I don’t suppose you’d be chivalrous and forfeit this one?” Octasia asked.
“Tempting,” Montana replied. “I don’t want to be rude. I’d rather make a friend of you than an enemy...but then I’d be making ten enemies on my team.”
“Can’t blame a girl for asking. Just got gentle on me.”
“Of course. It’d be a crime to damage such a beautiful smile.”
She held out her hand and Montana grasped it, taking it and kissing it….only to be electrocuted.
Octasia giggled, slamming her pugil stick into his face and knocking him into the water. She held up her hand, revealing a joy buzzer.
“I just can’t help myself,” she laughed as her teammates cheered.
Montana’s hat floated to the top. He surfaced, grabbing it and slapping it on his head.
“Nice moves lover boy,” Brantley sighed.
“I know,” Montana sighed. “But I have a thing for girls with electrifying personalities.”
As if on cue, he was violently electrocuted. Montana jumped out, shaking an eel out of his pants.
“Did we forget to mention this was also a breeding ground for electric eels?”
The co-hosts laughed again.
“Now we have...Brantley and Savannah!”
Savannah shrugged as she stepped onto the log. Brantley grabbed his pugil stick and felt its weight in his hands.
“You got this Savannah,” Giovanni said. “He’s smaller than you.”
“Didn’t you get beat by the shortest person here?” Plath asked.
Giovanni glared at her.
“You ready Preppy?” Savannah asked.
Brantley nodded. He stepped forward, challenging Savannah to strike.
She ran forward, feigning left, but swinging her weapon from below. Brantley blocked it. He shoved her back, swinging his weapon to jab her slightly.
“Brantley’s actually a good fighter,” Arwen said.
Tim rubbed his chin. “Hmm, I suspect he’s a fencer.”
“How can you tell?”
“His movements and his stance are similar,” Tim explained. “I think he’s trying to downplay it, but each jab would be an out in fencing.”
“That’s really cool you can tell that.”
Tim blushed. “Well, I like to learn about different fighting styles. Watch videos on them and stuff. For fun. No other reason.”
Savannah kept swinging her weapon, but Brantley blocked each strike. With a hard swing, he knocked her towards the edge of the log.
Savannah glared, raising her pugil stick. “Screw this.”
She feigned swinging up, but threw the pugil stick at his head. Stepping back for a second, she ran forward and tried to pull the weapon from Brantley’s hands.
“Do you mind if I borrow this?” Savannah asked, tugging hard.
“I do actually,” Brantley said. “A cheap move throwing yours.”
“No rule against it. Just like there’s not a rule against this-”
She punched him in the gut. Winded, he let go of the weapon... giving Savannah the opportunity to smack him off.
‘Sorry Preppy, but I didn’t feel like losing.”
Brantley glared at her, ignoring the electric shocks he was receiving. Luis pulled the boy up from the river and sat him down on the seat next to him.
“Now, it’s the wrestling champ herself, Heloise!”
“OH YEAH!” Heloise roared. She jumped onto the log, splitting it in half.
Tim adjusted his glasses and made his way to the opposite end.
“Tim is our biggest guy,” Brantley said. “Maybe he has a chance against her.”
“Especially if he uses any superhero training,” Arwen whispered.
When both gladiators had their weapon, the match started. Heloise let out a battle cry, but before she took a step Tim fell into the river.
“THE HAM WILL...huh?”
Tim immediately surfaced. “Sorry everyone. I lost my footing.”
“Tough,” Rhonda said. “The Capybaras get the point.”
The Anacondas sighed.
“Hold on,” Heloise said, “The Ham does not accept the point!”
“Are you kidding?” Octasia asked. “We’re even now.”
“A victory without a fight is no victory. The Ham wants a re-match.”
“Yeah, we don’t have enough airtime for that,” Rhonda said. “If we need a tiebreaker, we’ll do a re-match. But the point stands.”
Heloise snarled. She marched down to the other end and hauled Tim out of the water.
“I know you threw the match,” Heloise whispered. “Don’t do that again.”
Tim gulped as Heloise sat him down and returned to her own bleachers.
Heloise growled. “In wrestling, a lot of people try to rig matches. I’ve fought opponents who I could tell were throwing matches...and been threatened to throw matches myself. It’s a disrespect against your opponent, wrestling and yourself to throw a match. I didn’t train to not try my hardest!”
“I had to throw the match,” Tim explained. “I’ve trained extensively in kung-fu, but if I used it against Heloise I’d risk exposing my secret identity to my team. More importantly, I swore to only use my training in the pursuit of justice.”
Who’s next? It’s In A Gadda Da Vida...vs Quinton!”
The second smallest girl and shortest boy made their way on the log.
“Aww yeah, it’s ya boy!” Quinton shouted. “Get ready shortie, I’ve never lost a duel!”
“Neither have I,” In A Gadda Da Vida admitted. “Mostly because I’ve never been in one.”
“...Me either. But that’s only cause everyone is too intimidated by Swaggy Q! You wanna throw down? Then we throw down gansta style!”
He hiked up his pants, only to sag them further. “Check it! Yo momma is so stupid, she got hit by a parked car.”
“When did you meet my mom?” Vida asked.
“Yo momma is so ugly, she tried to enter an ugly contest and they said no professionals!”
“Huh,” Vida said, “She never told me that before.”
“Holy second Sunday of May!” Tim exclaimed. “His insults are having no effect. It’s like she has a natural immunity to them.”
“Or they’re just bad and outdated,” Flynn said.
“My best comebacks aren’t enough for you?” Quinton asked. “You best watch out, cause I’m ima pop it, lock it, and polka dot it!”
Quinton started breakdancing really badly, like he was seizing from stomach cramps.
“What is he doing?” Dolly asked.
“I think he’s starting a dance off,” Luis said. “That or he has scurvy.”
“You want to dance?” Vida asked. “You could at least buy me dinner first.”
“Boys tend to fall in love with me,” In A Gadda Da Vida said. “It makes sense, I’m very pretty. I mean everywhere I go people stare at me. Sometimes even their jaws are wide open. I don’t even try, I’m just that attractive. It’s hard being hot honestly. Most people can’t relate.”
Quinton panted, sitting up. “What do you think about that?”
Vida smacked him the head with her pugil stick.
“Your mating dance was interesting,” she said. “But I’m not going to date someone from the opposite team. Ask me again at the merge if I’m still single. I’ll probably say no then too.”
She raised her pugil stick to knock him, but couldn’t balance the weight. She tipped over and fell into the water.
“I guess that means...Quinton technically wins.”
Quinton jumped out. “That’s what I’m talkin ‘bout. That’s hip-hop!”
He tripped on his untied shoes and also fell into the water.
“With that, the Anacondas lead 5 to 4. Now let’s get ready for Mana Somebody against Rubella.”
“Shauhsuahsauhshua,” Mana laughed. “I don’t know if the piranhas will want her.”
You’re the one in the ugly swimsuit,” Rubella said. “I thought you’d want to hide that tacky thing under a bunch of piranhas.”
Mana gasped. “Tacky? Like you can talk. The only good thing about those hoop earrings is they distract from your huge forehead.”
“My forehead is cute and proportional!” Rubella screamed. “Neither word could describe you.”
Both girls gritted their teeth and jumped down to the log. They immediately went at each other. They both lost their pugil sticks and resorted to slapping each other.
“I’m so gorg!” Rubella cried. “From my head to my toes.”
“If only your head didn’t look like your toes,” Mana shouted back.
“Now this is what I’m talking about,” Giovanni said.
Plath rolled her eyes. “This is what I was afraid of.”
Mana Somebody pulled on Rubella’s hair. “The 1920s called, they want their hair back.”
Rubella elbowed her in the face. “That’s it Hannah Nobody!”
The social media mogul jumped up. Glaring, she started charging at Mana...until she tripped on her own heels and fell in the river.
The Anacondas facepalmed.
Rubella surfaced a minute later, floating face down.
Flynn walked over and pulled her up from the water, only to reveal a foot long leech sucking on her left eye.
“Ewwwww!” he screamed, dropping her back in the water.
“Did we forget to mention this was also a breeding ground for giant Amazon leeches?”
The co-hosts laughed again.
Luis grabbed Rubella and yanked the leech off her eye.
“Cool,” he sighed, patting the leech’s head and gently placing it in the water.
“So gross,” Rubella groaned. “My eye is like messed up now!”
“Relax,” Dolly said, “I’m sure it’s not that-”
Dolly grimaced as Rubella’s eye swelled.
“With that, the point goes to the Capybaras!”
Mana laughed as Rubella glared at her with her good eye.
“We can’t all be queens dear,” Mana Somebody. “Someone has to bow down when I walk by.”
“We’re tied 5-5,” Rhonda announced. “Which means it’s time for our final match...Zane vs. Flynn!”
Flynn gulped as he looked at the water. Zane did the same.
“You got this Zane, eh,” Norris said.
“Just do your best!” Plath encouraged.
“Skin those snakes,” Giovanni added.
Zane forced a smile. “I’ll try...no promises…”
He stood up, but Mana Somebody grabbed his arm. Pulling him to her level, she said, “If you win this for us then…”
She whispered in his ear.
Zane’s whole face turned bright red. Steam seemed to blow from his ears as he ran down to log, jumping in place.
Zane sprang forward and started swinging at Flynn. Flynn tried to hit the romantic, but his pugil stick got stuck in Zane’s afro.
“Really?” Flynn asked.
“What did you tell him?” Plath asked.
Mana smirked. “I said if he won, he could watch me eat his food at dinner. Men love that.”
Plath stared at her. “But why would that...actually, I don’t want to know.”
Flynn tried to ram Zane, but instead Zane shook his head, knocking Flynn in the face with his own weapon.
“Not the face,” Flynn groaned.
Zane smacked Flynn into the water.
“And with that, the Gregarious Capybaras win their second challenge!”
The Capybaras cheered as the Anacondas groaned.
Flynn surfaced from the water, pulling a leech off his hoodie. “Not cool.”
Mana Somebody jumped down from the stands and ran to Zane.
“Nice moves menino da escada,” she sighed, rubbing against his chest.
Zane giggled. “Hehehe...err me mean me not want...I wanted to win for you…”
Mana Somebody purred. “What a gentleman, hurting that guy for little ol’ me. That deserves a reward…”
She pulled Zane in for a kiss. Zane’s eyes grew wide, before he popped his foot and started kissing her back. He tossed his pugil stick into the air, where it landed on the roof of the hosts’ tower.
“Watch it!” Jenny screamed.
The tower suddenly started to shake.
“Oh, no, no, no!”
The tower caved in, sending all three hosts into the water. Drawn by the loud crash, Piranhas, eels, and giant leeches swarmed them. “Ahhhhhhhhh!”
Rhonda frowned, standing on stage behind three purple curtains. She pulled a leech from her hair and tossed it aside.
“Congrats to the Capybaras for another win. You get your first pick at our three rewards today. Let’s give you a sneak peek at what you could choose.”
The first curtain lifted, revealing nets, spears, rods, cans of worms and small wooden cages.
“It’s fishing gear! All kinds of tools for catching all kinds of fish that live in the Amazon River. So what will it be Capybaras?”
“We do live on a boat,” Norris said. “It makes sense to get that.”
“Plus we suck at getting food right now,” Octasia admitted.
“We’ll take the fishing junk Rachel,” Savannah said.
Rhonda glared. “It’s Rhonda. Anacondas, pick your curtain.”
Both other prizes being random, the Anacondas chose the third curtain.
“Wonderful choice,” Rhonda said. “I’m sure many of you would love to take a nice long bath after today’s challenge. Your reward is perfect for that!”
“We won a bath?” Arwen asked.
“Omg, maybe it’s a deluxe shower we can keep,” Rubella cheered.
“With nice soaps and shampoos,” Flynn sighed.
“Or a spa day,” Dolly guessed.
“Even better!” Rhonda announced.
The third curtain raised, revealing...a basket full of water bottles. Rhonda tossed a bottle to Brantley, who frowned as he read the label.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” he sighed.
“What is it?” Montana asked.
“Gamer bath water.”
“WHAT?” Rubella cried.
“That’s right, gamer bath water!” Rhonda said. “Premium bath water previously used by gamer guys and gamer girls, bottled just for you! From professional Esports players to your favorite streamers, now enjoy water filled with their sweat and dirt floating in it.”
You can wash with it or drink it,” Jenny suggested.
Montana cracked open the bottle and sniffed it. He gagged.
The Capybaras grabbed their fishing gear as the Anacondas left their ‘reward’ and returned to camp.
“I can’t believe Mana Somebody kissed me,” Zane sighed. “Does this mean we're dating? It all happened so fast. I wasn’t sure how I felt about her yet, but she must be the one. I mean my foot popped. Foot pops don’t lie!”
Once again, the Anacondas found themselves at an Ancient Temple Elimination Ceremony.
“You should remember the drill,” Rhonda stated. “So cast your votes.”
Flynn approached the torch on the wall, lowering it to take him into the voting booth.
Flynn cast his vote. “Sorry dude, but you’re just so uncool it’s cringy. I mean rap and hip-hop? Nobody listens to that anymore. It’s all about EDM now!”
Luis cast his vote. “This is a once in a lifetime experience. It doesn’t feel fair that someone who doesn’t want to be here is.”
After the votes had been cast, Rhonda took out a tray of cocoa pods.
“When I call your name, come forward and collect your cocoa pod,” Rhonda said. “I only have ten cocoa pods. If I do not call your name, then you must leave via the Slab of Shame and take the Fall of Losers. The first cocoa pod goes to...Dolly.”
Dolly smirked and collected her pod.
The two, having won their duels, weren’t too surprised but sighed in relief anyway.
“Jessica Crystal, of course.”
She collected her pod with a perfect smile.
The two collected their pods.
Montana smirked, eagerly taking his cocoa pod from Rhonda.
Tim nodded, having accepted he was an option, but believing he wouldn't go.
“Quinton, Rubella. One of you is going home.”
Quinton nervously chewed his nails.
Rubella scowled, tapping her foot impatiently.
“The final cocoa pod goes to…
She smirked, strutting forward and snatching her pod from Rhonda’s hand.
“Fo real?” Quinton asked. “That is wiggity, wiggity whack y’all!”
“Eloquently put,” Rhonda said. “Now get out of here already! Go on, get!”
Quinton sighed, shuffling to the stone slab. It launched him into the air and sent him flying to the Fall of Losers.
“Ahh, my gold chains are weighing me down,” Quinton cried. “And I think I sat in some dirt and a bug flew in my ear and...can anyone hear me? ...Ahhhhhhh!”
The Anacondas shrugged and left the temple.
Dolly was in the voting booth. She cast a vote for Quinton. “You’re not strong and kind of annoying, so we convinced the guys to vote for you. You’ve made it clear you’ll follow whatever the other boys do, so it’s easiest to get rid of you now and keep our numbers.”
She left, but walked back to the booth’s camera. “And tie your shoes already!”
Brantley was in the voting booth, writing down a name. “It’s clear the girls have formed an alliance. I won’t be surprised if it collapses in on them, but I’ll need to get rid of one of them soon. For the moment though, I’ll bid my time.”
He revealed his vote, Quinton and cast it. “No harm in sacrificing a pawn. But the next Anaconda leaving will be one of those four girls.”
Chapter 4 Safari, So Good
Early the next morning, Dolly and Arwen made their way to the river. Wearing their pajamas and carrying their toiletries, they knelt at the water and started brushing their teeth.
“Bleh,” Dolly spat, “This water is not for brushing your teeth.”
“Yeah,” Arwen sighed.
Arwen shrugged. “I still feel a little bad about voting off Quinton last night. Don’t you?”
“We bonded a little after hunting. Sure, he was annoying-”
“-Very annoying,” Dolly added.
-but I still feel bad. Maybe he shouldn’t have gone.”
Dolly looked the L.A.R.P.er in the eye. “Who should have gone then? Everyone tried at the challenge, even the people who lost. In fact, the person who did the worst was Tim.”
“But Tim saved us from the quicksand,” Arwen added.
“Exactly. I didn’t want to vote for him. Quinton would be easily swayed by a guys’ alliance. It was our best option.”
Dolly took out floss and started cleaning her teeth. “Want a piece?”
“Sure,” Arwen replied. “Man, you’re really serious about your teeth.”
“Anything to avoid the dentist’s office,” Dolly admitted. “Arwen, I have to admit I’m kind of surprised.”
“You. How much trouble you’re having voting people off. I figured if anyone would get it, it’s you.”
“I knew I’d have to vote people off when I signed up,” Arwen replied. “It’s just harder when you actually are doing it.”
“It’s a game,” Dolly said. “It’s not personal; it should be fun. You play a lot of games, I thought you’d understand that.”
“I guess I’m looking at it from a tabletop perspective,” Arwen said. “I thought of our team as one big adventuring party.”
Arwen shook her head. “Your party usually works together. You’re trying to avoid losing party members. They don’t come back.”
“Don’t you start the mission over?” Dolly asked.
“It’s not a video game with save states,” Arwen replied. “When you die in a roleplaying game, your character is gone. You can make a new character, but the person you were is dead. There are consequences. When it’s over, it’s over...just like the people eliminated. But they don’t get new characters. Their adventure ends.”
Dolly pouted. “That’s depressing. Look, maybe this isn’t one of your L.A.R.P.s. Have you ever played Mafia?”
“Yeah,” Arwen admitted. “I love that game.”
“Me too!” Dolly replied. “See, it’s like Mafia. You, me, Rubella and J.C. are secretly the Mafia. We’re not really mafia hitmen and we’re not bad people for voting someone off. We’re trying to win the game, just like everyone else.”
Arwen smiled a little. “Thanks Dolly. I think I get it. I’ve got to get my head in the game.”
“Of course,” Dolly said, “We’re in this together now.”
The two girls high-fived.
Mana Somebody and Zane were snuggling on the boat’s deck. Norris and Giovanni walked by, sharing a look.
“A serious case of goo-goo eyes,” Norris whispered. “I’m a little jealous.”
“Eh,” Giovanni replied. “Just remember who Zane is making those eyes at.”
At the other end of the boat, Welker was using the fishing gear.
In A Gadda Da Vida approached him.
“Look, I know it’s seem like fishing for mermaids and barnacle men is a dangerous idea but-”
“Did you know that barnacles have the longest wangs in comparison to their body size of all animals?” Vida asked. “They grow a new one each year to mate with other barnacles.”
“Now I will never not know that,” Welker said. “Did you need something?”
“You know a lot of stuff,” Vida said. “I was curious if you’d tell me some of it. I like interesting facts.”
Welker shifted his eyes. “You don’t work for the government do you?”
“No,” In A Gadda Da Vida replied. “My brother says the government works for us, but my mom says it doesn’t work, period.”
“Your mom gets it,” Welker said. “Okay, what do you want to know?”
“What’s something not a lot of people know?”
Welker laughed, laughing until he wheezed and then immediately stopping. “What don’t they? Let me tell you about Mars and chickens…”
Norris was gathering bamboo shoots. He lifted his shirt, wiping the sweat from his forehead. He blushed as someone whistled. Smirking, Octasia strolled over.
“Where did you head off to eh?”
“I hate to bust the myth, but girls actually do poop.”
Norris blushed. “Sorry, didn’t mean-”
Octasia chuckled. “You get flustered too easily. It’s cute. What are you doing, besides living out my lumberjack fantasies?”
“I shoulda never told y’all about that.”
“Hey, I think it’s cool your mom was a lumberjack,” Octasia replied. “Your dad being a mountie too. My dad’s just a boring accountant.”
Norris rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, I just wish the others didn’t think it was so weird. I joined this show to fit in with Americans, not be laughed at by them.”
“Let me guess, you moved here from Canada.”
“I get it. I moved too. It wasn’t easy.”
“Oh yeah. See, I’m Gullah.”
Norris looked at her. She gave a laugh.
“We’re Creole people. I come from an island from the coast of South Carolina.”
“Wait, there’s more than one Carolina?” Norris asked.
Octasia raised an eyebrow.
“Hey, I lived in New York a few months ago. I asked where Old York was once and was laughed out of the cafeteria.”
“Okay, America has weirdly named things,” Octasia admitted. “Point is, I grew up in this kind of isolated island community...and then my dad decided to do finance and we moved to Ohio.”
“I don’t know what that is either eh. What’s in Ohio?”
“Nothing,” Octasia groaned. “It was rough. I was made fun of for being Southern, for my accent, for having never met an Amish person. If it weren’t for my sisters, I wouldn’t have made it.”
“How did you make yourself normal?”
“I didn’t. I never stopped being Gullah and you shouldn’t try to stop being Canadian. The others will realize you’re cool for it sooner or later. And if you need something to talk to, I got your back.”
Norris smiled. “Thanks Octasia.”
She winked and took the other end of the bamboo.
The morning of the challenge, both teams were led into the jungle. They met their hosts in a dirt clearing. A large circle was in the center.
“I hope you’re excited for today’s challenge,” Rhonda said. “I know I am.”
"That makes me less excited,” Flynn whispered.
“First things first, each team needs to elect a leader for the challenge. I’ll give you a few minutes.”
The Bootylicious Anacondas huddled together.
"It’s pretty obvious who should be our team leader,” Luis said.
“Yeah,” Flynn said. “Who is that again?”
Everyone nodded but Rubella.
“I appreciate it everyone,” Jessica Crystal said. “I am a leader in many of the fields I’ve worked in, from directing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to innovating cucurbitology, the science of pumpkins. However, I think Rubella should be our leader today.”
“Really?” Montana asked.
“Really?” Brantley asked.
“Really?” Rubella said. “I mean duh I should...but why do you think that again?”
“You have such a different way at looking at things,” J.C. admitted.
“That’s one of way of putting it,” Dolly whispered.
“I think that perspective could be useful.”
Montana scratched his chin. “Well, if J.C. is telling us we should...let’s make Rubella our leader.”
Rubella glared at him, before smirking and flipping her hair. “I guess I can do it.”
The Capybaras were a little more divided.
“It has to be for a challenge,” Plath said. “We should pick Heloise.”
Mana scowled. “It needs to be someone who is a leader. Not someone who’s strategy is to punch things till they work.”
“Heloise is good at making decisions,” Plath replied.
“Punching never fails!” Heloise added.
“I ain’t afraid to lead,” Giovanni said.
“I am if you’re leading,” Octasia said
“Plath should do it,” Vida stated. “She’s smart and cool.”
“I am?” Plath asked.
“What does being cool have to do with being a leader eh?” Norris asked.
“A leader represents us,” Vida said. “We need someone cool so we seem cool too.”
“I’m a lot of things,” Plath said. “But cool?”
“Only a cool person could quote all of The Lightning Thief like you can.”
Plath blushed. “I wouldn’t say all of it…”
Giovanni scowled. “I’m sure you’d like to be our leader, wouldn’t you Plath?”
Plath raised an eyebrow. “I mean if everyone wanted me to I would, but I don’t even lead discussions in my book club.”
“Both of you would be terrible,” Mana Somebody said. “She’s spineless and you’re brainless. We need someone smart, confident and above all...sexy. So obviously, it should be-”
“-Please don’t say yourself,” Savannah said.
“...Uh, I wasn’t,” Mana said. “I was talking about...Zane!”
“Wait, what?” Zane asked.
“Zane’s chill,” Gionvanni said. “I’ll vote for him.”
“You ready Capybaras?” Rhonda asked.
“Don’t make me look bad,” Mana said, shoving the stick boy forward.
"But I don’t want-”
“So we have Zane for the Capybaras and Rubella for the Anacondas,” Rhonda said. “Not the captains I would pick, but I’m sure it made sense to y’all.”
“It really doesn’t,” Zane whispered.
Rhonda handed each leader a hand shovel. Jenny and Toby walked over, carrying a giant hourglass of sand.
“In this closed-off area, we’ve buried tools for the challenge,” Rhonda explained. “You have till the timer runs out to get as many for your team as possible. Now...go!”
Zane ran forward, only to trip on Rubella’s outstretched leg. She cackled, only to trip on Zane.
Dolly facepalmed. “I regret everything.”
Zane and Rubella split up into different directions. After a few minutes, they each dug up something.
“Huh?” Rubella said as she pulled out a roll of film.
“A camera?” Zane asked.
He pulled out a disposable camera. Zane shrugged, storing it in his afro and racing off.
After a few minutes, Zane unburied five cameras and six film rolls. Rubella, not wanting to get herself dirty, only dug up three camera and four film rolls.
“Pick it up Rubella!” Dolly shouted. “The timer is half-empty.”
Rubella opened her mouth to reply, only for Zane to accidentally fling dirt down her throat. She coughed it up, spitting up a film roll.
“There you go!” Arwen cheered.
“Rubella couldn’t lead a fish to water,” Brantley said. “Naturally, I’m all for her being the team captain. She’ll screw up and it’ll paint the target even bigger on her back. I might even be able to turn this little alliance against each other.”
“Oops,” Zane said.
“Don’t worry, you’re still in the lead,” Plath cheered.
“Excuse me,” Mana said. “I’ll cheer for my boyfriend, thank you very much. Zane sweetie, stop helping the other team or so help me! Now, dig, dig, dig!”
Plath raised an eyebrow and stepped back.
“Making Zane the leader was perfect,” Mana Somebody stated. “Zane leads our team...and I lead Zane. He’ll be a huge shield for me to hide behind, but easy to get rid of whenever I need to get my flirting back on.”
Rubella shovel made a sound as it hit something. “Yessss! Let’s go for another….ahhhh!”
She screamed as a swarm of giant termites burst from the ground. They charged and started chasing her around the arena.
“Termites?” Zane asked as he backed away from his hole.
“Over 200 species of termites live in the Amazon,” Rhonda explained. “Many make their mounds underground, eating at night. Trust us, they don’t like being disturbed.”
Rubella waved her shovel at the growing swarm. “Stay back! I’m not afraid to squish you!”
The swarm snatched the shovel from her hand. They tossed it at her head, then lunged at the social media mogul.
Dolly smirked, before frowning as Luis covered her eyes.
Zane nervously smiled and backed away slowly as termites started bursting from the ground. He grabbed a stick and tossed it the opposite direction. “Fetch!”
The termites stared at him.
“They’re not dogs dude,” Savannah said.
Zane shrugged. “I thought termites ate wood.”
“Some do,” Rhonda admitted. “But most in the Amazon eat leaves at night...or stupid reality show contestants.”
Zane yelped and started running as the termites gave chase. He just jumped out of the ring.
“What are you doing?” Mana asked. “Get back in there, this is a challenge.”
“Tell that to the termites,” Zane replied.
The termites flung Rubella’s unconscious body into the hourglass timer. It fell to the ground and shattered.
“I guess that’s time,” Rhonda said. “How did you do?”
From his afro, Zane pulled out six cameras and seven rolls of film.
Rubella, covered in bug bites, groaned as she presented five cameras and five rolls of film.
“Nice work explorers,” Rhonda said. “You’ll be using these cameras in our main challenge; a selfie safari scavenger hunt!”
“Safari?” Luis asked, jumping up and down. “As in animals?”
“Selfie?” Rubella asked. “As in pictures of moi?”
Rhonda nodded, causing Luis and Rubella to cheer. “Using the cameras and film your team captain secured, your goal is to take a selfie with different animal species in the Amazon.”
Toby and Jenny handed each explorer a piece of paper.
“These are the species you’ll be looking for. Species are worth different points; the rarer the animal, the more points it’s worth. Whoever gets the most points by sunset wins the challenge.”
Luis gasped looking over the list of animals. “Panthers, armadillos and condors... oh my!”
“A few things to note,” Rhonda added. “Each animal counts once. The photo must show you and the animal in the picture. If for some reason you have a camera, or a phone that hasn’t died, it doesn’t count. Only the cameras and film from the challenge can be used. If you run out of pictures, too bad. Understand?”
The explorers nodded.
“Great! Have fun.”
Both teams split off and ventured into the Amazon.
“Okay,” Toby said. "I don't get it, why did they need captains in the first part?”
“They didn’t really,” Rhonda replied. “It just creates more drama.”
The Bootylicious Anacondas sighed as they looked over their cameras. Rubella was looking in her compact mirror, applying makeup to her bites.
“Ten of us and only five cameras,” Flynn sighed. “Not cool.”
“Rubella did the best she could,” Tim said. “Those terrible termites would have given anyone a problem.”
Rubella snapped her compact shut. “Relax. As your team captain, I actually have like a plan so we don’t go to elimination again.”
Arwen raised her hand. “I think the captain thing was only for that-”
Rubella glared until Arwen stopped talking.
“As I was saying, I have a plan. I’m going to divide the team into groups. Each group will have its own list of animals to hunt. If you finish your list, come to me and I’ll give you new animals to hunt. I’ll keep the last film roll too. That way we don’t waste all the film taking the same picture.”
“Brilliant,” Brantley said. “Such an original concept.”
“I know right?”
“We should travel in pairs,” Tim stated. “It’s safer. We have just the right number of cameras anyway.”
Rubella smirked. “You’re welcome. Now Brantley, you go with Luis.”
Luis glomped the short blonde, crushing him.
“Tim with Kaobawa, Flynn with Montana and Arwen with Dolly."
"So that means you're with Jessica Crystal?” Flynn asked.
Rubella’s eyes went wide. “Wait, hold on I am not-”
Jessica Crystal put her arm around the diva, who recoiled in horror and disgust.
“Rubella and I will do fantastic,” J.C. said. “We get along swimmingly, like the many records I have in swimming.”
“Ugh, fine,” Rubella replied, “But only to make sure you don’t screw it up.”
Rubella divided up the list of animals. She had J.C. get a head start and sent off each pair, until only her, Arwen and Dolly were left.
“So what animals are we tracking?” Arwen asked. “I hope it’s something cool.”
“I really hope a unicorn is on that list,” Dolly said.
“You’re not talking selfies,” Rubella stated.
Dolly shot her a look while Arwen was confused.
“We don’t need to get the most photos,” Rubella stated. “We just need to get more than the other team.”
“Isn’t that what 'most' means?” Dolly asked.
“God, I have to be the beauty and brains of this alliance,” Rubella groaned. “I want you two to sabotage the Capybaras in the challenge.”
“Shouldn’t we focus more energy on the safari?” Arwen asked. “Especially since we have less man-power and cameras?”
“That junk doesn’t matter if we ruin their chances,” Rubella replied. “Steal their cameras, catch them in traps, spit in their food...slow them down while we overtake them and I lead the team to the victory! #winner.”
“Sure,” Dolly said. “Sounds like a plan. Come on Arwen.”
Dolly winked at the taller girl and pulled her away.
“Are we really going to sabotage them?” Arwen asked.
Dolly shrugged. “Rubella actually had one good idea; steal their cameras. Plus, trying to sabotage them we’ll probably run into animals anyway.”
“Which we can take photos of!” Arwen said.
“Bingo! Also, doing a top secret mission sounds like fun.”
“Ooh! Like we’re secret agents; Agent A and Agent D!”
The two girls high-fived and ran off.
Off at the Gregarious Capybaras…
“Listen up everybody,” Mana said. “Our leader, and my new beau, Zane has a plan.”
“I do?” Zane asked.
“Yes, you do. The plan is-”
“-We should stick with the buddy system,” Heloise suggested.
Cecilia nodded. “We shouldn’t go into the jungle alone.”
“We only have seven cameras,” Savannah added. “We could split them between pairs.”
Octasia and Norris smiled at each other.
“Dibs on Norris.”
Giovanni grabbed Norris by the arm and ran off with him and a camera into the forest.
Octasia pouted as Savannah strolled up. “I’ll go with you Jean Jacket, but I won’t smooch you for free.”
“Fine,” Octasia laughed.
“Wait, Zane is-”
"I’m going with Welker!” Vida announced.
Welker raised his eyebrows. “You are? What’s your game?”
“I prefer checkers,” Vida replied. “But right now I want to hear more about the chickens and the Martians.”
Welker smirked. “I’d be happy to share the truth with you.”
Cecilia linked arms with Plath. “Shall we?”
“Me?” Plath asked.
Cecilia nodded. “I’ve been thinking we should spend some time getting to know each other.”
Heloise frowned. “Has anyone seen Cassidy?”
“She left on her own with a camera,” Vida said.
Heloise sighed. “Guess she’s my partner when I find her.”
“Come with us dear,” Cecilia said. “We can look for her together.”
Each group grabbed a camera and headed off, leaving Zane, Mana and the last camera.
“Good luck everyone!” Zane shouted. “I think that went well.”
Mana glared at him.
“...And that’s why Little Debbie is raising an army of E-girls and rockabilly singers,” Welker explained.
In A Gadda Da Vida enthusiastically nodded. “I had no idea about any of this. I mean the Trix Rabbit is also the Lucky Charms Leprechaun? Or that Lucky Charms is a cereal. Who knew?”
“I’m sure you’re wondering what it all means.”
“Not really. I just like knowing.”
Welker frowned. “Well...good. Because I wasn’t about to reveal the deep dark secrets of why this all happening.”
Vida shrugged. “You don’t have to.”
“I’m not. Not at all about how I’ve figured out the truth everyone has been afraid of.”
The two walked along silently for a minute.
“Okay fine, I’ll tell you! All these secrets are part of a greater conspiracy. I call it...The Conspiracy.”
“Simple. So how do you know it’s all connected?”
Welker shifted his eyes and leaned into Vida’s ear. “I’ve traveled the US, investigating mystery phenomena. I’ve seen the same person at each place.”
“Well, either I’ve seen them or someone has seen them. Or someone else knows someone who knows of someone that might have seen them. The truth behind The Conspiracy; The Watching Woman.”
Vida gasped in awe. “What does she want?”
“To keep it a secret,” Welker replied. “Which is why I’m here.”
“You mean The Watching Woman is involved with Total Drama?”
Welker nodded. “She’s obsessed with it. It must be part of The Conspiracy.”
“How do I spot her?”
“Um...it’s usually dark when I’ve seen her. But when I did, I saw she has two mismatched eyes.”
There was a noise. Both froze. Slowly they looked up...and saw a small rodent, an agouti, run by.
“Huh,” Vida said. “ Weren’t we supposed to be doing something?”
In A Gadda Vida looked around, but Welker was gone.
“Welker is totally in love with me,” In A Gadda Vida said. “It’s very obvious. I can’t blame him. I’m pretty great. I won’t lie...I’m kind of into him. I know what I want in a boyfriend. I need someone smart but also very hot. Welker is teaching me a lot. Plus, he’s kind of attractive. He’s like a hot swamp monster. Did you know that The Creature from the Black Lagoon’s appearance was inspired by the Academy Award trophy?”
“Vida?” Welker said. “She’s nice. A little out there and nutty though. You know what I mean?”
Tim and Kaobawa were strolling around by the river.
“Maybe we should’ve asked Rubella to assign animals you hunt,” Tim admitted.
Kaobawa shook his head. “Not big hunter. Small animals.”
“Oh? What do you do instead of hunting?”
“Gosh, you’re the chief?”
Kaobawa nodded. “New chief. Not hunt before chief. Who Tim?”
“I’m just a mild mannered average Joe,” Tim replied. “I don’t have a job, except delivering newspapers to my neighborhood.”
Kaobawa stared at Tim.
“...You don’t know what I mean, do you?”
Kaobawa shook his hand, as if to say ‘so-so’.
They stopped as a fin surfaced above the water.
“Holy Free Willy!” Tim whispered. “A dorsal fin, that must be a pink river dolphin! It’s on our list. Here you snap a photo while I sneak into the picture.”
Tim ran off before Kaobawa could say anything. He tiptoed to the edge and whistled...where a large bull shark emerged from the river.
The big snouted shark smirked and lunged at Tim. Tim didn’t run. He whipped something out his pocket, spraying the shark directly in the eyes. It hissed before diving back into the water.
Tim whistled and strolled back over to Kaobawa. “Did you snap a picture? Maybe we’ll get some points for it.”
“Oh, just my handy dandy shark repellent spray. Never leave home without it.”
Giovanni and Norris were busy looking in the forest.
“Finally glad I got a chance to get you alone bro,” Giovanni said.
“You are eh?” Norris asked.
“Duh. We’re bros.”
“I don’t call anyone bro if I don’t mean it.”
Norris crossed his arms and leaned against a tree. “I mean we do hang out sometimes and I think we’re buds, but you’re always beaking me aboot being from up North.”
Giovanni frowned. “I don’t fully understand what you just said. But I hope I haven’t offended you dude. I mean your accent is wicked silly.”
“But it’s also cool. I mean chicks dig accents. Besides, you and I have a lot in common.”
“We’re both super buff,” Giovanni said, flexing. “I mean you GTL right?”
“Dude, you’re freakin kidding me! Gym, tan and laundry!”
“Oh,” Norris replied. “I mean I do try to workout for hockey. The tan comes naturally. Course I do laundry everyday. Nothing beats a fresh T-shirt.”
“That’s what I’m talking about!” Giovanni shouted. “You gotta GTL everyday to be looking your best...except doing laundry here means wringing your clothes in gross river water.”
Giovanni shoved him, but smirked. “Don’t laugh!”
“It’s not like you wear a shirt anyway, eh.”
“Hehe, yeah. I gotta let the abs breathe. So, we cool bro?”
Norris held up his fist. Giovanni lit up and fist bumped him.
“Giovanni is an odd one,” Norris admitted. “But he does remind me of my old goalie. He was wild...mostly because of all the pucks he took to the face.”
Flynn was watching Montana silently jump from tree limb to tree limb.
“You find anything?” Flynn shouted.
A family of macaws flew out of a treetop. Montana sighed.
Montana did a few flips and jumped down to Flynn’s level. “Eh, we’ll see them again.”
“Montana, I got to ask something,” Flynn said.
Montana smirked. “I know what you’re going to ask, but I’m not interested in joining your fan club. Now, if it-”
“Huh? I was going to ask you know that Tim is actually Marvelous Man?”
“Oh. Are they?”
“Yes!” Flynn shouted. “I mean they look exactly alike.”
Montana paused. “Yeah, they do. I just thought you and a few of the others were being paranoid because they were never in the same place.”
Flynn stared at Montana.
“Guess I wasn’t paying enough attention.”
“How could you not?” Flynn asked. “It’s not everyday you’re saved by a superhero!”
“Just didn’t seem like a big deal,” Montana replied. “If someone wants to run around in spandex, I’m not going to stop them. Why does it matter now?”
“Because he’s pretending he’s not!”
“And...and...and it’s weird! It’s not normal!”
Montana shrugged and started walking. “I don’t believe in the idea of normal.”
Flynn followed after him. “What do you mean?”
“I mean what is normal? Look at this jungle. These plants, these animals, this weather; none of this is ordinary or normal to you is it?” “It isn’t but...that’s not the same thing.”
“There is no normal,” Montana said. “The world is humongous, filled with all kinds of different people. There is no model for everyone. I’m not spending my life meeting some arbitrary standard. I’ve lived a weird life. I’m glad I have.”
Flynn said nothing, but followed Montana deeper into the forest.
Arwen and Dolly stuck their heads out of a bush. They watched Giovanni and Norris closely.
“I don’t know,” Arwen said. “This is kind of mean.”
“Hey, are we secret agents or not?” Dolly replied.
Arwen hesitated, before shaking her head.
They disappeared back into the bush.
“Hold on,” Norris said. “Look at that!”
Clinging to a tree was a troop of tiny brownish-gold monkeys, no bigger than six inches.
“I think those are pygmy marmosets! Go and I’ll take your picture.”
“Marmoset?” Giovanni asked, shuddering. “Are those like...rats?”
“They’re not rodents, they’re baby monkeys,” Norris replied. “What’s it’s matter?”
“I just don’t care for rats okay?” Giovanni replied.
Norris smirked and grabbed Giovanni’s hand. He put his arm around him and turned the camera to them, snapping a photo with the pygmy marmosets. One marmoset flashed a peace sign.
“There, that wasn’t so bad was it?”
Giovanni blushed before laughing. “Thanks Norris.”
“What are bros for eh?”
The two turned to see Dolly face first on the ground.
Norris immediately ran over. He tried fanning her as she opened her eyes.
“It’s Dolly right?” Norris asked. “What happened?”
“I...I don’t know,” she replied. “My team left me alone in the forest. I was lost and this big nasty spider jumped out.”
“Spider?” Giovanni asked. “Where? It might be on the list!”
Norris shot him a look.
“Are you okay?”
Dolly batted her eyelashes. “Better now. A little faint.”
She forced a cough. “Do you have something I could drink?”
“You have your water bottle, right Giovanni?”
Giovanni gave Dolly a look, but gave her his water bottle. Arwen, wearing a bush, moved slowly closer to Norris’ pocket. Dolly watched, taking a long, long sip.
“You must have been thirsty,” Norris said.
“Next time get lost near the river,” Giovanni replied. He snatched back his bottle.
“Glad to know chivalry is still alive,” Dolly replied. “Could you...could you help me to my feet?”
Arwen held a thumbs up and ran off.
Dolly smirked as Norris helped her.
“I really appreciate it,” Dolly replied. “You’re a sweetheart Norris...though you could have better company.”
“Do you want us to help you find your team? We could-”
Dolly skipped off into the forest.
“Good riddance,” Giovanni replied.
“What’s your deal?” Norris asked. “She was in trouble!”
“You forget she kicked me in the cannolis last challenge? I’m not falling for her innocent little girl act anymore.”
“Come on, she was in trouble. She’s not…”
Norris patted down his pockets.
“...the camera is gone.”
“You were saying?” Giovanni asked.
Dolly and Arwen high-fived as they ran off into the jungle.
“I told you they’d be easy marks,” Dolly bragged.
Mana was following Zane down the river. Zane peered at the water.
“What are you looking for?” Mana asked.
“A pink river dolphin,” Zane replied. “I remembered you said you hoped to see them.”
“Ooh,” Mana gasped. “Or maybe we’ll see my namesake.”
“...Did you make your stage name after a manatee?”
“Obviously. What did you think Mana meant?”
Zane shrugged. “Like mana. You know, like magical energy.”
“What’s more magical than aquatic mammals?”
Zane opened his mouth, but Mana grabbed his jaw and closed it. “Nothing. Nothing is more magical.”
Suddenly, there was movement in the water. Zane got ready to take the photo while Mana adjusted her top.
A turtle’s head surfaced. Mana scoffed, kicking it back into the water.
“Zane, we need to focus.”
“On the challenge?” Zane asked.
“On our strategy. I mean who are we going to vote out?”
“If we win the challenge-”
“Focus! Who are people going to vote for.”
Zane turned to look at Mana. Behind the two, a pink river dolphin jumped up.
“If we lose it’ll probably be whoever does worst at the challenge,” Zane said. “You know, like us if we don’t get any photos.”
“Not a bad idea Zane,” Mana replied. “We could use that as an excuse to convince the others to vote off an easy target. I’d know who I’d like to vote off first, but you have to start small before going for the big kill.”
“I’ll give you a hint; it rhymes with sham.”
“Aww come on, Heloise is super cool and super useful.”
The river dolphin started doing flips in the background.
“If by cool you mean the thought of them leaves me so cold I have hypothermia, then I agree. She probably won’t do bad in the challenge though.”
“Why are we even talking about this?”
“What do you think the others are talking about? Cereal mascots? It’s the game.”
“But we haven’t lost yet.”
The river dolphin pulled out a hula hoop and started dancing, while juggling fruits.
“It’s called planning ahead,” Mana replied.
“Well can we plan ahead as we do the challenge,” Zane added. “Plus, you make it sound like you’re planning a murder.”
“Murder would be easier. I’d only have to rely on myself.”
The river dolphin pulled out a karaoke machine and began singing Donna Summer’s Last Dance. A chorus of manatees joined her as back-up singers. The dolphin bounced a disco ball like a beach ball and hung it from a tree.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Zane asked.
“It means...oh my god!”
The river mammals stop singing and waved.
“I can’t hear myself speak,” Mana said. “Let’s go somewhere else so I can explain to you what you’re doing wrong.”
Zane sighed but followed Mana Somebody away from the river.
The manatees and dolphin shared a look, before shrugging and submerging back into the water.
Zane crossed his arms. “I’ve been in a handful of relationships. A few of the girls have been more take than give, but none as much as Mana Somebody. If we aren’t talking about the things she likes, we aren’t talking. And she only likes strategy and herself. Maybe I jumped into this...but I want this relationship work. I mean I really like her...it's really interesting that she...the really nice thing about Mana Somebody is...um...can I get back to you?’
Loud screams drowned out any other noise. From a bush, Octasia and Savannah watched. In a tree were a troop of howler monkeys, living up to their name.
“Ugh,” Octasia groaned, covering her ears. “Rock paper scissors for who has to do the selfie?”
“Relax, I got this,” Savannah replied.
Turning off her hearing aid, she strolled up to the howler monkeys. They screamed and raised their arms at her, but Savannah simply held up a peace sign and took a selfie.
The howler monkeys glared at the rebel as she whistled and strolled off.
Ocastia and Savannah walked off.
“Clever,” Octasia said.
Savannah turned back on her hearing aid. “What were you saying.”
“Just admiring your plan.”
Savannah shrugged. “It wasn’t a plan. When I don’t like what I hear, I just kind of instinctively turn it off. Teachers, my parents, Mana when she’s laughing…”
Octasia snickered. “Must be nice...uh, no offense.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t pretend I don’t enjoy it. It’s still kind of weird to hear stuff sometimes.”
“When did you first get a hearing aid?”
“When I was ten. I was deaf before that.”
“Yeah, it’d be weird if you’ve spent most of your life hearing nothing.”
“I could hear a little,” Savannah admitted. “But I was super deaf. I mostly spoke through sign language. I still do it out of habit sometimes.”
“Ohh,” Octasia gasped. “That’s what that is! I thought you were throwing secret gang signs.”
Savannah chuckled. “As if. I just don’t sweat my hearing. If it bothers you, it’s your problem.”
Octasia opened her mouth, but stopped in front of her. She looked down where animal tracks were.
“Oh shoot,” Savannah said. “Another animal. That was easy.”
“Yeah,” Octasia said. “Too easy. Don’t these tracks look a little...round?”
Savannah nodded. “You think-”
Octasia grabbed her partner and walked to the side. They followed the tracks to a nearby tree.
“I guess the animal has to be in that tree,” Octasia said loudly, winking at Savannah.
Savannah smirked. “Let’s get a closer look!”
Octasia picked up a rock and tossed it at the tree. It activated a snare trap.
“Oh no,” Octasia ‘gasped’. “I have been caught. Savannah go get help!”
Savannah took very loud footsteps and dashed off to the side.
After a minute, Arwen popped up from the bush. “I told Dolly I could make a good snare.”
“Maybe, but you could make a better trap,” Octasia stated.
“Huh?” Arwen asked. “But aren’t you-”
Savannah grabbed the roleplayer from behind. “Cute Arwen. I’m actually kind of impressed.”
“Thanks!” Arwen replied. “I mean, this isn’t a trap. I mean it is, but for animals.”
“Then why did you make fake animal tracks?” Octasia asked.
“Uhh...in case the animal was lonely.”
“I hope you’re a better actor when you’re L.A.R.P.ing,” Savannah teased.
Octasia smirked, waving her camera. “I admit trying to sabotage us and take our camera is a smart idea, but you have to get up pretty early to get one over-”
Dolly swung by on a vine and snatched the camera from Octasia’s hands. The prankster’s eyes grew wide.
Dolly landed and blew a raspberry. “Thanks for the camera. Smell ya later losers!”
She giggled as she dashed off into the forest.
Savannah threw Arwen to the ground and started chasing after her. “It’s on now Pinky!”
“Savannah, wait for...and she’s gone.”
Arwen stood up and dusted herself off. She forced a smile. “So...no hard feelings right?”
Arwen sighed and crossed her arms. She hung upside from her own snare trap. “Okay, but this proves it was a good snare.”
Dolly panted as she ran through a river. She looked behind her. “Looks like I lost her.”
Savannah jumped out in front of Dolly and tackled her to the ground. She sat on the smaller girl and snagged her camera.
“Get off of me!” Dolly screamed.
“The sad thing is I’m not that heavy,” Savannah said. “You’re just that little.”
“That’s it! Hi-yah!”
She flipped Savannah over her. Both jumped up. They stared each other down, waiting for the other to make a move.
After a minute, Dolly sighed. “What are we doing?”
“Ooh! Wait, no! Look you have your camera, I lost. It was a bad plan.”
“Arwen’s snare was good.”
“It was! But you won. I say let’s call a truce; we go back to hunting animals instead of each other.”
Savannah nodded. “Let’s win the challenge fair and square, no dirty tricks.”
“Agreed. Good luck.”
“Right back at ya.”
The two nodded and walked off in separate directions.
“Sucker!” Dolly giggled. “Sure, she got her camera...but I pocketed the film roll in it already. Good luck taking pictures now.”
“Nice kid, especially since she let me ‘borrow’ this,” Savannah said, taking out a second camera. “When someone plays dirty, you should rise above it. I didn’t though. Oops.”
Luis and Brantley were strolling in a deep wooded area. Luis gasped and pointed. A giant anteater was invading an ant hill with it’s long, stretchy tongue.
“We found one,” Luis squealed.
Brantely nodded. “Here, I’ll take your picture before he gets away.”
“No way!” Luis replied. “You have to get in there too.”
Before Brantley could argue, Luis grabbed him like a cardboard standee and carried him to the anteater. The nature lover threw his arm around Brantley and snapped a picture.
The anteater’s eyes dilated as the camera flashed. It nearly choked on an ant, before running off.
Luis waved. “See ya later big guy. Isn’t this challenge awesome?”
“It’s nice,” Brantley said. “It beats dueling each other over piranha infested waters.”
“True. Those poor piranhas.”
Brantley shook his head. He looked down at his list. “Let’s keep going. Maybe we’ll win today’s challenge.”
Luis nodded and followed his teammate. The two were silent for a moment.
“Why did you sign up for Total Drama?”
Brantley’s eyes widened for a moment, before he shrugged. “I have my reasons. Why?”
“Well, you can probably guess why I joined-”
“For the experience.”
“Hehe yeah,” Luis admitted. “I heard it was near the Amazon. I had no idea we’d be in it. I thought maybe you joined for the same reason. I don’t think you need the money.”
“What makes you say that?”
“You wear nice clothes, all your luggage has your initials on it, you have a lot of big books and say smart words...either you go to a rich prep school or you want us to think you do. And if you did, you’d probably be more obnoxious.”
Brantley chuckled. “I’m flattered I’m not that obnoxious. I won’t deny I’m well-off. My father is head of the Vanderbey Trading Company.”
“Fancy,” Luis said with a faux British accent, before laughing.
“I don’t go bragging about it, but I don’t see the point in lying,” Brantley replied. “I’d hope no one would vote me off for it…”
Luis shook his head. “Nah, I think everyone likes you. I do. I was just curious. If you don’t need the money, why be here?”
“The truth is I only auditioned for my little sister,” Brantley said. “She loves Total Drama, but she’s ten. She begged me to audition, to live vicariously through I suppose. I wanted to make her happy...and then I got picked. I’m just here to try it.”
"I knew it!” Luis said.
“I knew you didn’t join the show for money. I figured maybe you were like me and you are. You came on this show to experience it too. ”
Brantley smiled. “I guess I did.”
“I did not join the show for the experience,” Brantley stated. “My father requested I join to test my skills at analyzing others, for when I join the family business. I plan on winning just to prove I can. Why else would I waste my time getting eaten by bugs and not bathing?”
“I was worried Brantley and I wouldn’t get along,” Luis admitted. “I admit it, I kind of thought he’d be a rich jerk. Sure, he’s sarcastic. But he’s been nothing but nice to me. He won’t say it, but I think he’s having more fun on this show than he thought.”
Ocatasia walked through the jungle. “Savannah! Savannah! You there?”
She groaned, muttering under her breath, “I have someone I need to see…”
She marched towards the river, where she saw someone kneeling in front of it. “Vida?”
In A Gadda Da Vida jumped. “I’m not suspicious!”
Octasia raised an eyebrow. “Where’s Welker?”
Vida shrugged. “He disappeared. Probably playing hard to get…”
“I lost my partner too,” Octasia. “Have you seen Savannah?”
“Nope. Haven’t seen anyone. Especially not anyone special.”
Octasia raised an eyebrow. “What’s going on?”
“Can you keep a secret?” Vida asked.
Octasia couldn’t contain her grin. “Of course I can. Especially dark, personal secrets.”
The odd duck motioned her taller friend to come closer. Still closer. Even closer. More closer. Close, but even closer. Almost, just a little closer.
“TOO CLOSE!” Vida yelled.
“You were too close.”
"Just spill the beans already!”
Vida pulled Octasia down by her ponytail, then whispered. “I saw my twin sister. She’s here; secretly on the show.”
Octasia’s eyes grew wide. “Wait…are you serious? You mean…here?”
In A Gadda Da Vida nodded.
“Identical or fraternal?”
Octasia looked out into the forest. “Is this a twist? Where is she?”
First she shifted her eyes to make sure no one was spying, then Vida pointed towards the water’s surface…at her own reflection.
“Maureen, what are you doing here!” she whispered in a hiss. “If the show finds out you stowed away I’ll be in serious trouble…Don’t make that face at me!”
Octasia stared dumbfounded as she watched her teammate argue with her own reflection.
“I don’t know who’s stupider,” Octasia admitted. “That flam…or me for actually believing her.”
“I’m sorry Maureen is being so impolite,” Vida sighed. “Don’t take it personally if she doesn’t talk to you; she’s extremely shy. She hardly talks to me and I’m her twin sister! Usually she only argees or mocks me.”
Octasia’s stare turned from dumbfounded to disgusted. “This is so dumb.”
“I know, but she won’t stop following me everywhere,” In A Gada Da Vida sighed.
Blocking her face from ‘Maureen’, the short girl whispered, “She’s always been the…’weird sister’. Just so awkward.”
“I can’t imagine,” Octasia replied flatly.
The taller girl stomped off, calling back, “Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone about Maureen.”
Under her breath adding, “I’d be too embarrassed…”
A tapir scurried out of the bushes. There was a growl, the sound of a giant animal stomping after.
“YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN’T OUTRUN THE HAM’S THIGHS!”
The Ham charged out of the same bushes. The tapir yelped, but The Ham scooped it in her arms and gave out a battle cry.
Plath and Cecilia, out of breath, ran up. They joined Heloise and took a selfie. Heloise kissed the tapir on the nose, then let it down gently. It ran off back into the forest.
"Another animal down,” Heloise growled.
“The first one in a while,” Plath sighed. “You think we’d see more animals.”
“Correction, we have seen plenty,” Cecilia said, “they just run away.”
Heloise rubbed the back of her head. “My bad ladies. I’m scaring them off.”
“It’s not your fault,” Plath said. “We couldn’t get most without you.”
“Exactly,” Cecilia added. “It’s fine, your oafishness is charming.”
“I just hope we don’t lose the challenge,” Plath admitted. “Everyone on the Capybaras has been trying so hard.”
Cecilia pursed her lips. “Mostly everyone.”
“You have someone in mind to vote off?” Heloise asked.
“I don’t want to throw names,” Cecilia said. “I’m not a gossipy Gertie. I’ve heard rumors that Patti LuPone thinks I’m one of the least noisiest people she’s met. I’m just concerned for our team. You know who’s a problem.”
“Yup,” Heloise said.
“Not really,” Plath said.
“Mana Somebody,” Cecilia replied. “She’s bossy, arrogant, conceited, and just not pleasant to be around.”
“She does avoid work like the plague,” Heloise admitted.
"No lie,” Plath said. “I feel bad for Zane. He’s such a nice guy and she steps all over him.”
“Eh, Zane strikes me as someone who is into that,” Heloise said. “Still, she takes it too far.”
“She’s clearly using him,” Cecilia said. “I’ve seen subtler seductresses when I auditioned for Salome. I suspect she has it out for The Ham too.”
“Why?” Plath asked.
“Because Heloise doesn’t take crap,” Cecilia said. “The Ham calls Mana out on her exhausting laziness.”
“She’s also jealous The Ham is so famous,” Cassidy added. “It’s why she wants to vote out Cecilia too.”
The Ham snapped her head. “CASSIDY?”
The others turned to see Cassidy standing there.
"When did you get here?” Cecilia asked.
“I sensed there was drama and came as fast as I could,” Cassidy replied. “I mean...I heard the Ham yelling and followed you.”
“We’ve been looking for you,” Heloise stated. “We have a buddy system. Where did you go?”
As Rubella explained her plan to Arwen and Dolly, Cassidy popped out of a tree and started writing in her notebook.
In A Gadda Da Vida motioned for Octasia to get closer. Cassidy, disguising herself as a macaw watched from far away with binoculars.
At the secret staff headquarters, Rhonda prepared to eat lunch. She held up a cupcake, undoing it’s wrapper. Cassidy snagged it from a bush before disappearing. Rhonda went to take a bite and bit her own hand.
“...Uhhhhhhhh, I went...to the confessional. I just had to vent; it’s hard being out here. I wish I could be as adjusted as you girls.”
Plath covered her heart, Cecilia nodded and even Heloise’s face softened.
“I told Giovanni. Didn’t he tell you guys?”
“He failed to mention it,” The Ham growled.
“You don’t think he was trying to get me in trouble, do you?” Cassidy asked. “Not to be mean, but is he smart enough to do that?” Cecilia asked. “Now, you just said that Mana was targeting me.”
Cassidy smirked, before forcing a frown. “Yeah. I heard her telling Zane she wants to be the most famous person here. And I mean who’s more famous than the pro-wrestler and a famous actress?”
“Former actress,” Cecilia replied. “I knew she was targeting me! Did Mana mention voting to anyone?"
“Zane did ask me about voting you or Heloise on her behalf,” Cassidy admitted. “I refused of course. You’re both so vital to the team.”
“She really is that petty huh?” Heloise asked. “If she wants to square up with The Ham, then let’s do it. THE HAM WILL SQUARE UP SO HARD, I’LL TRANSFORM INTO A CUBE! THREE DIMENSIONAL!”
“I’m more worried about Zane,” Cassidy admitted. “Who else has he asked? More people are likely to vote with them if Zane asks, he’s nicer. Savannah told me she thinks they’re a power couple.”
“Of course,” Cecilia replied. “That’s Mana’s plan! She’s using him.”
“Zane will be heartbroken,” Plath sighed. “What do we do?”
“We have to do something,” The Ham said.
Rubella paced back and forth. “Where is Dolly and Arwen? They should be back with those stolen cameras?”
Arwen yawned as she still hung from the tree.
Rubella groaned as Jessica Crystal popped up.
“Let me guess, you want some professional tips on how to take a good selfie,” Rubella said. “Makes sense. In your case, my first recommendation would be to call a plastic surgeon.”
“No silly,” Jessica Crystal. “I’m great at selfies. The first selfie I ever took has it’s own wing in the Louvre. I actually finished taking a bunch of photos and need another film roll.”
Rubella scowled and snatched the camera from J.C. She started looking through the photos. “Really?”
Jessica Crystal nodded her beautiful head. “It’s funny. The animals all formed a line, coming up to me one by one to get a photo.”
“Then you can stay here and wait for the others,” Rubella replied. “I’ll go taking the selfies. They won’t be able to tell you apart from the animals. We need the selfies to be beautiful. After all, Rrrrrrubella means beautiful!”
“Don’t tell her,” Jessica Crystal whispered. “But while Bella does mean beautiful in a lot of languages, Rubella means...well…”
“I’ll come with you,” J.C. said. “It’s not a good idea to travel alone in the jungle.”
Rubella flipped her hair. “Puh-lease, I’ll be fine.”
From the treetops, a brown butterfly floated down. As light from the treetops hit her wings, they seemed to change into a bright blue before the explorers’ eyes. The butterfly’s iridescent wings shined, with each flutter fading between the natural bland browns and bold blues. One of nature’s miracles.
“Ahhh killer bee!” Rubella cried. “Kill it, kill it!”
She took off her shoe and smacked the butterfly to the ground. She smashed it again and again.
“DIE, DIE, DIE!”
“Uh Rubella, that’s not a bee,” Jessica Crystal said. “It’s a butterfly. Specifically the blue morpho butterfly. An extremely rare butterfly that’s worth a lot of points on the safari.”
Rubella froze. “Oh.”
She looked down and the mostly smashed body. A leg still jittered.
“Let’s take a selfie while it’s still clinging to life,” Rubella said. “Maybe it’ll count!”
J.C. and Rubella leaned over the blue mashed pulp and smiled. Rubella turned the camera but frowned.
“Where are the filters?”
Savannah walked through the forest.
“Where did Jean Jacket get to?” Savannah asked. “I got the camera and no partner...alone looking for dangerous animals. Yo cameraman, you guys have to help if I get injured or something right?”
The camera shook no. Savannah glared.
“You won’t believe the stupidity-”
“-Save it, we don’t have enough time.”
“Sad thing, it might actually matter…”
“Octasia?” Savannah called out.
Suddenly, one of the howler monkeys jumped out. Savannah screamed as it jumped on her head and started attacking.
Octasia came running. She grabbed the primate by the tail and flung it into a tree trunk.
“Savannah?” Octasia asked. “How long have you been here? Did you-”
“Nothing. Are you okay?”
Savannah stood up and stared blankly.
“Where were you?” Savannah asked.
“I was alone, looking for you when-”
Savannah’s eyes grew wide. She took off her hearing aid; it was bent with wires sticking out. She placed it back in her ear and tapped it repeatedly.
“Crap,” Octasia said. “Is it broken?”
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Awren stirred, opening her eyes to see Kaobawa and Tim.
From his pocket Tim threw an M shaped projectile, like shuriken or boomerang. It sliced through the snare. Tim caught a falling Arwen.
“Thanks,” Arwen said, blushing.
“Happy to help,” Tim replied. “Uh, what happened?”
“It’s a long story.”
“I don’t know if we have time for it.”
Tim pointed to the sky. The sun was setting.
Both teams were waiting at the reward zone. Rhonda walked out from behind the purple curtains.
“Sorry for the delay,” she said, “we’re a little... understaffed. We’ve been reviewing your selfies. It’s not even close; the winners are the Bootylicious Anacondas!”
The Anacondas cheered, louder than even the Capybaras had before. Many of the Capybaras looked embarrassed and tried not to make eye contact with each other.
“Thanks to my great leadership skills,” Rubella stated, flipping her hair.
“Congrats on finally winning Anacondas...and I guess kudos on your first loss Capybaras. Now let’s get to today’s reward. What’s behind curtain number 3!”
The final curtain lifted, revealing Toby dressed like a pizza man. He stood next to a tower of pizza boxes, each printed with the season’s official logo.
“Somebody order pizza?” he asked in a monotone voice.
“A pizza party,” Rhonda announced. “With lots of choices; cheese, pepperoni, meat lover’s, Hawaiian, chicken Alfredo. Even a vegan pizza.”
“Everyone loves pizza,” Flynn said.
“We should totes treat ourselves after all our hard work,” Rubella added.
“Shouldn’t we focus on long term survival?” Tim asked.
“That’s so practical though,” Dolly sighed. “Boring!”
“We can steal the Capybaras’ reward if they get something better,” Arwen reminded.
“Then it’s official,” Rubella said. “We’ll take the pizza party!”
“We’ll have pizzas delivered to your camp as soon as you get back,” Rhonda announced. “Now Capybaras, what will you choose.”
“Zane is still our captain,” Mana reminded.
“I am?” Zane asked.
“He should choose.”
Norris shrugged. “It’s a fifty-fifty shot either way.”
“Okay,” Zane said, “then I’ll do this very carefully...eenie, meanie, minine, moe.”
Eventually his finger landed on the first curtain.
The curtain lifted to reveal Jenny dressed like Santa. She carried a giant sack. “Triple ho kids. I’ve got a special treat just for you. The Anacondas won't be the only ones eating tonight.”
From her sack, she threw a present. Octasia eagerly caught it, tearing away the wrapping paper to reveal…
“Yup!” Jenny replied. “A loaf for each of you! Enjoy.”
She threw the sack, crushing Octasia under it.
“God bless us everyone,” Rhonda sighed. “Especially the explorer you boot off first from your team Capybaras. I’ll see you tonight.”
Like the Anacondas, the Gregarious Capybaras were ferried to the ancient Incan temple. They took their seats at the entrance where Rhonda gave a similar spiel at the first elimination.
When it came time to vote, Jenny took Cecilia and led her against the wall. She dropped the torch, sending Cecilia into the voting booth.
“Oh my,” Cecilia gasped. “My admiration goes to the set designers and props managers.”
After everyone had voted, Rhonda took out a tray of cocoa pods.
“These are cocoa pods, whose beans are the source of chocolate. Their latin name Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’. Important to many cultures all over the world, their harvest has caused severe deforestation to the Amazon Rainforest. They’re one of the most valuable things in all the Amazon. Especially here, because they represent safety.
“If I call your name, you’ll receive a cocoa pod. Whoever does not receive a cocoa pod will be eliminated, sacrificed on the Slab of Shame, and leave via the Fall of Losers.”
She raised her hands.
She raised her hands again.
She scowled, raising her hands over and over again, until finally the stone slab lifted.
“Thank you. Now then, the first cocoa pod goes to...Plath.”
The bookworm didn’t suspect she’d be eliminated, but sighed in relief anyway as she collected her pod.
Octasia and Norris smiled at each other as they stood up.
“In A Gadda Da Vida…Heloise...Cecilia…”
Cecilia smiled as she followed the other two girls.
Giovanni sighed, before shooting a smirk at Plath. She raised her eyebrow.
Rhonda tossed the cocoa pod at Savannah. She flashed a peace sign and joined the others.
The conspiracy theorist cautiously took his cocoa pod, studying it for any tracking devices.
“I’ve got one cocoa pod left...and two lovebirds.”
Mana Somebody and Zane both raised the eyebrows.
“And the final cocoa pod goes to..."
Mana Somebody’s eyes flared as her ‘boyfriend’ collected the pod. He shot her a sheepish look.
“WHAT?” Mana screamed.
“Sorry Mana, looks like-”
“I DEMAND A RECOUNT!”
“Uhh, there’s not-”
“Recount! Recount! Recount!”
Jenny rolled her eyes. “I don’t need a recount to know your name was the only name to come up more than once.”
“How?” Mana asked. “Why would you vote for me?”
“Because you don’t help at camp,” Heloise said.
“Because you’re bossy...and a little scary,” Norris admitted.
“Because you’re obviously scheming all the time,” Octasia said.
Savannah shrugged. “I just don’t like you.”
“Plus you’re clearly using our boy Zane,” Giovanni said.
“She was?” Zane asked. “You mean the only reason she dated me was to control my vote?”
The Capybaras all gave him sheepish looks.
“YES!” Mana screamed. “Obviously, I had masterfully seduced you to further my own agenda. I never liked you. You were just a pawn.”
“Really?” Zane asked. “Oh...thank goodness.”
Zane sighed in relief. “That makes this so much easier. Mana, I think we should break up.”
“You’re breaking up...with ME?”
Zane enthusiastically nodded. “You’re the worst girlfriend I’ve ever had by a long shot. Like in a tier of your own. I mean sure that Delia girl went to prison, but compared to you it was like dating a saint.”
“You can’t break up with me,” Mana replied. “Our relationship wasn’t real!”
“Even better,” Zane said. “Let’s pretend that it never even happened.”
“As fun as this is,” Rhonda said, “you need to get lost already.”
Mana growled, taking her place on the stone slab. “You may have eliminated me, but=”
The slab dumped her over the wall and into the river below. She snarled. “As I was saying, you haven’t heard the last of Abi-Maria Geralda Sandra Kris-ahhhhhhhhhh!”
She screamed as she went over the waterfall.
“Let me guess,” Octasia said. “The Fall of Losers is actually a waterfall.”
Chapter 5 TBA
|In A Gadda||IN||WIN||WIN||SAFE|
- This contestant was on the Gregarious Capybaras.
- This contestant was on the Bootylicious Anacondas.
- Won the challenge, earning invincibility.
- There was no elimination ceremony this chapter, so they were in no danger.
- Did not win, but was safe at elimination.
- Was in the bottom two or three at elimination, but not eliminated.
- Was voted off the show.
Unusual Ceremony Status:
- Had immunity at elimination, which unlike invincibility, is earned by means other than winning the challenge.
- Was eliminated automatically through a challenge.
- Was eliminated as a result of a tie in the votes causing a tiebreaker.
- Was in danger due to a tie in the votes causing a tiebreaker, but was not eliminated.
- Was voted off due to a special voting procedure.
- Lost the final challenge, becoming the runner-up of Total Drama: Lost in the Amazon.
- Won the final challenge, becoming the winner of Total Drama: Lost in the Amazon.
- Though Lost in the Amazon is a sequel to Genesis, you don't have to have read Genesis to read this story. There maybe an occasional reference or allusion, but nothing that requires reading Genesis nor any spoilers of it if you haven't.
- I decided to do this fanfic after coming up with a few characters I really liked and wanted to explore in their own season. Developing the idea, I made more characters I liked and felt they'd make a great sequel to Genesis.
- Originally, when What The Heck? was going to be the first story in my canon, Genesis was the sequel story. I had no plans for a story in the Amazon nor any of this characters. There was a gap in my plans, that allowed story to happen.
- The setting of the Amazon Rainforest was chosen because I had seen it in a few other fics and I wanted to try and explore it and use setting more.
- I debated using characters from What The Heck in this story, introducing them to my canon this way. I decided against it because I developed too many new characters and felt they all couldn't share the spotlight.
- The title comes from the 1987 Guns N’ Roses song of the same name, which is used at the end of the chapter.
- I first wrote this chapter during Genesis’ final five; I wanted to get a feel for these new characters and make sure I liked them before I started revealing the cast.
- I made sure that the opening portrayed the two team mascots, an anaconda and a capybara (the large rodent being a capybara, as capybaras are the world’s largest rodents).
- Flynn and his cheer squad were inspired by Gary Oak in the Pokemon anime, who had two cheerleaders that often followed him around and supported him.
- The running gag of the cheerleader reminder the others her name is Molly is inspired from a joke from Sailor Moon: The Abridged Series.
- Cecilia’s line about "the parts got small" is a reference to one of the famous lines from the film Sunset Boulevard.
- Rubella’s entrance, particularly her sunglasses, is a direct reference to Heather’s introduction in Total Drama Island.
- The Yequmamo are a fictional tribe, based off actual indigenous people that live in the Amazon, mostly the Yanomami. The Yequmono’s name is derived from a mix of alternate ways to say the names of Ye’kuana and the Yanomami people’s names.
- Many of Heloise’s nicknames are based off pro-wrestler and Survivor contestant John Morrison’s nicknames, though a few I thought of myself.
- ‘Human Sharknado’ is of course a reference to the Sharknado movie series.
- I had originally planned to introduce the confessional this chapter, but the chapter was getting long so I postponed it.
- There were places where I would have added more jokes about Jessica Crystal being amazing or more purple prose for her, but to avoid running the joke to the ground (yet) and keep the story from going to long, I cut the jokes.
- One example was Plath wondering why Rhonda waited to introduce Jessica Crystal until after explaining they’d be living in the Amazon. Rhonda would brag that JC had deduced it before the show had begun and list her other world famous deductions.
- In Genesis, I also had the teams formed by random chance (in-story, as I planned the teams beforehand in both stories). In hindsight I was disappointed with how the teams didn’t seem as random, with pretty close gender divides. I intentionally created the teams this season to be much more uneven in gender.
- The ‘Bootylicious Anacondas’ is a reference to Nicki Minaj’s song Anaconda, which is about butts.
- Ironically, anacondas have sexual dimorphism; the male anacondas are much smaller than females and the females will often eat the males after breeding. Naturally the team with more males is the Bootylicious Anacondas.
- Capybaras are the preferred prey of anacondas. I didn’t realize this when I named the teams; I had decided on the Anacondas name and wanted an animal from the rainforest that had the same syllables.
- Capybaras are actually known to be gregarious animals, living in high numbers together. I didn’t choose to name the team knowing that. I had wanted a word that had the same syllables as ‘Bootylicious’. I decided gregarious because the word has become a bit of a joke in the Survivor community. Survivor contestants often have to describe themselves in three words and gregarious has been used repeatedly…even by people who fans suspect don’t know its meaning.
- The Guns and Roses song “Welcome To Jungle” was chosen because it was too fun of a cliche for me not to use it.
- The title is pun on 'arts and crafts'.
- A few confessionals and extended parts of scenes were cut as I was writing and when I finished. I felt they didn’t add enough or ruined the flow. A few scenes were moved to future chapters as well.
- Rubella confusing Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, with Charles Dickens, author of A Christmas Carol, is based on a similar mishap the author had in grade school.
- The monkeys stealing the keys was planned for a long time while writing Genesis. However, Luis figuring out how to get the final keys back was inspired by a similar situation in Total Drama: Pahkitew Island.
- Originally, Marvelous Man was going to have a fight scene where he rescued the trapped Anacondas from predators. I decided against it because Heloise had a fight scene.
- I also debated going into more origins about Marvelous Man, but waited due to not feeling like I could fit it in naturally.
- As Brantley points out, human sacrifice is more fitting of the Aztecs than the Incas, and the two cultures (along with the Mayas) get lumped together a lot. While the Capachoca was real, the human sacrifice element of the elimination ceremony was more inspired by pop culture depictions of Pre-Columbian cultures.
- I’m not really sure if the Incas would’ve had temples in the Amazon Rainforest. They lived in the Andes in what is now Peru. The Amazon River does originate in Peru, but the Andes and the Rainforest seem to be more defined as separate zones. Canon season Total Drama World Tour did have Machu Picchu, an Incan temple, connected to the Amazon Rainforest though. Since canon did it, I felt okay taking that creative liberty.
- The votes were:
- Eddie: Brantley, Dolly, Flynn, Jessica Crystal, Kaobawa, Quinton,
- Jessica Crystal: Rubella
- Rubella: Arwen, Eddie, Luis, Montana, Tim,
- Rubella was meant to seem like an obvious target, while reasons why Eddie would be a secondary target were hinted at throughout the challenge.
- Eddie’s nickname ‘Dead Ed’ was also foreshadowing he’d be the first boot.
- The title is a pun on Cruel Intentions, the title of a 1999 teen drama movie.
- Arwen mentions wanting second breakfast. This a reference to Peter Jackson's first film adaptation of Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, where Pippin asks, "what about second breakfast?"
- Cassidy's scene with Plath and Giovanni was originally in the last chapter, but I reworked it for this one to keep chapter two shorter.
- The new bikini Mana Somebody is wearing is a reference to the song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini” by Bryan Hyland. It’s not stated, but as you can guess from the title, Mana’s bikini is also itsy bitsy teenie weenie. It’s probably why she chose to wear it.
- Dolly's mention of eleven herbs and spices is the reference to KFC, who advertise their chicken is made with a secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices.
- Because the teams were uneven, one person from the Capybaras didn’t duel; Plath. I chose Plath because I wanted the Capybaras to win and anyone she could realistically beat I already had planned a match for. She’s not athletic and not prone to dirty tactics, so I felt she wouldn’t beat any of the remaining Anacondas.
- I wasn’t sure how Savannah was going to win her match against Brantley, given his fencing skills. I came up with the throwing her weapon angle, which felt in-character for her. I see it as her winning her own way.
- Similarly, I wasn’t sure how Zane might win his match with Flynn. On paper, Flynn is an athlete and more muscular. I thought of the afro gag, and wanting to develop his and Mana’s fliration more, came up with the romantic cartoon gag.
- The votes were:
- Quinton: Arwen, Brantley, Dolly, Flynn, Jessica Crystal, Kaobawa, Tim,
- Rubella: Luis, Montana, Quinton,
- I typically don’t like gangsta wannabe characters, but I loved Team Skull from Pokemon: Sun and Moon. Quinton was inspired by those characters and my attempt at trying to write my own version.
- The girls targeted Quinton to make sure a boy left and he seemed like the easiest target, along with believing he wouldn’t be someone they could vote with long term.
- Quinton was the second to last character created for the story. He was always planned to be the second out.
- The title is a pun based on the phrase, "so far, so good".
- Mafia is a type of game where a group of players 'The Mafia' are secretly trying to eliminate the other players.
- Welker fishing for barncle men is a reference to Barncle Boy from Spongebob Squarepants.
- The Gullah people are an actual ethnic group of people, often also called the Geechee. If you're the right age, you may have heard of Geechee culture from the show Gullah Gullah Island.
- Octasia was introduced as "speaking with some of kind of island accent", set-up to help establish her as Gullah.
- Luis saying, "Panthers, armadillos and condors... oh my!” is a reference to The Wizard of Oz.
- Arwen and Dolly calling themselves Agent A and Agent D is an allusion to Zania and Lexi from Total Drama Frozen, who did the same thing.
- Tim's shark repellent is based off an infamous scene from the Adam West Batman movie, where he uses "Bat Shark Repellent" to save himself.
- I hadn't realized it until recently, but I had made a similar joke in Total Drama Genesis.
- Brantley's lie about his sister is based off the backstory of Will from Camp Total Drama.
- In A Gadda Da Vida's 'twin' sister is based off Deb from Finding Nemo.
- The scene of Vida revealing her twin sister was the first scene I wrote for her and Octasia before I started the story.
- 'Flam' is a Gullah slang word for someone who says something, but doesn't do it.
- Rhonda saying, "God bless us everyone", is a refernece to The Christmas Carol.
- The votes were:
- Savannah: Mana Somebody,
- Mana Somebody: Cassidy, Cecilia, Giovanni, Heloise, In A Gadda Da Vida, Norris, Octasia, Plath, Savannah, Welker,
- Welker: Zane
- Mana Somebody is a reference/tribute to two users on the wiki, HerrMana and BrunoSomebody, who are both from Brazil. Her personality is a parody of the 'femme fatale' archetype seen on reality shows.
- Mana Somebody was always planned to be the first boot from the Capybaras and third boot overall.
- Mana Somebody was originally created years ago for a potential reboot of my old Total Drama What The Heck? The story had a mix of canon characters and OC characters, but the reboot would have replaced all the canon characters with new OCs. I decided it against and eventually started this series. I enjoyed Mana a lot however, and
- Ironically, Mana Somebody was planned to be the first boot and third boot overall in that series too.