This story is rated PG-13.
There is some language or violence that may not be appropriate for people under thirteen years of age.
FYE Promo Pic

After the original three seasons of Total Drama went off the air, the show had become a cult hit, and fans were demanding another season. Five years of begging finally got the fans what they wanted, and another season was put into development with a new theme of basing challenges off of popular culture. With twenty-two new castmates, twenty new challenges, dozens of rabid reporters, one familiar sadistic host, and, most importantly, one million dollars in cash up for grabs, Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment was born.

Created, written, and illustrated by: Freefalling Lilacs


For Your Entertainment was a project four years in the making that unfortunately will not be completely finished. However, I posted in a blog post episode summaries of the chapters that never had a chance to be written so the readers are not left in limbo. I plan to update the character pages so that they reflect the characters' final performances in the competition and add the episode summaries onto this page so that the competition can at least sort of be complete. Thank you again to everyone who has supported this story.



Chris McLean
Chef Hatchet
Rachel Claire

The Oscars

Allison: The Daredevil
Angel: The Pyromaniac
Avery: The Drama Queen
Camille: The Ditz
Cara: The Nature Lover
Eric: The Braggart
Irina: The Model
Isaac: The Slacker
Josh: The Shy Hunk
Paul: The Boy Scout
Robert: The Daydreamer

The Emmys

Donna: The Smart Aleck
Elena: The Socialite
Gabe: The Rich Jerk
Minerva: The Loudmouth
Monique: The Trendsetter
Ophelia: The Artist
Risty: The Athlete
Sebastian: The Gambler
Victor: The Romeo
Wes: The Musician
Zack: The Technophile

For some supporting characters, see Freefalling Lilacs's Minor Characters.


Episode One: How To Survive Your Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Chapter One: Lights... Camera... Pilot!

Updated: May 29, 2014

“Chris McLean! Chris McLean! Chris McLean!”

A swarm of people stood in front of an ornate black and gold gate, the chorus of their voices chanting a name that dominated the recent media. Many members of the crowd jumped or waved their arms to the rhythm of the chant, while others held signs over their heads that presented phrases such as “Bring back the drama!” or “We wanna be famous!”

“Move it, move it, out of my way!”

The sea of fans was forcibly parted when a woman with a head of voluminous, dirty blonde curls shoved her way towards the gate. She paid no mind to the several people that she pushed to the ground, stepping over or occasionally on top of them with her gold heels. When she reached the gate, she smoothed out her mini-dress and pulled a microphone from behind her back. When a man with a video camera elbowed his way to the front of the crowd, she gave him a billboard-ready grin.

“Are we rolling?” She hissed through perfect teeth. The cameraman nodded, and the blonde began to speak in the overly dramatic voice of a woman who could only be a television personality. “This is Rachel Claire of RealityGossip coming to you live from outside of the newly opened McLean Studios. In just a few moments, the highly anticipated new season of Total Drama is going to begin! The hit reality show is finally back after five years of waiting, and fans from all over the world have gathered in front of McLean Studios to try to get a glimpse of the cast and the infamous host. However, only RealityGossip will be able to get an inside look on the season, so-”

Rachel Claire’s speech was interrupted when the gates behind her started to slowly creak open. She turned around just as a spotlight flicked on from inside the film lot. A figure stood directly in front of the light, his long shadow cast over the flock of fans.

“Looks like the drama is already starting!” Rachel Claire hollered, though her voice was swallowed by the roar of the crowd. The volume of the cheering only increased as the silhouetted man approached the mob. Once he passed through the opened gate, the spotlight shut off to reveal the handsome face of Chris McLean.

“Welcome to Major City!” He shouted, a clipped-on microphone amplifying his voice well over the deafening volume of the crowd. “Man, have we got a show planned for you! Who’s ready for a whole new season of danger?!”

The cheering somehow grew even louder, and Chris’s wicked smile widened.

“How about some crazy challenges?!”

A pack of rowdy teenage boys in the front row began pumping their fists and howling.

“Some comedy?!”

A woman a few rows back passed out in excitement.

“Maybe a bit of romance?!”

A group of young women shouted a marriage proposal to the host.

“Most importantly …” Chris took his trademarked dramatic pause. “Are you ready for some drama?!”

Rachel Claire was trampled by the fans that were scrambling to get closer to the host, and Chris McLean let out his infamous cackle.

“Then welcome to Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

The host stepped aside and the horde of fans charged onto the film lot as a familiar tune began to play.

(Theme Song)

“Hey, hands off the merchandise, bra!” The camera focused on Chris, who was prying a rabid fan off of his arm. “It takes time and money to look this good, so I can’t have you messing up my hair!” When he finally dislodged the admirer from his body, he tossed her over the red velvet ropes that were retaining the rest of the mob. Chris wiped off his hands before looking back at the camera. “Now that that’s taken care of, welcome to McLean Studios! This wonderful film lot, named after and partially owned by the handsomest actor of the twenty-first century, is where the majority of the season will take place. I’d give you a tour of the place, but I’m lazy and we’re short on time, so you’ll just have to figure it out after a few episodes. Our twenty-two contestants will be arriving shortly via our high quality transportation services.”

As if on cue, a junky bus pulled up at the curb and spit a murky gray cloud of smoke from its tailpipe. It had “Major City Public Transportation” plastered to its side, though somebody had painted “Sh” over the “C” in “City,” along with an extra “t.”

“We blew a lot of the transportation budget on covering airfare, so they had to settle for riding in these death traps.” One of the bus’s tires started deflating with a hiss, and Chris snickered. “If only the producers had gone with my idea of swimming to the island for the first challenge.”

“I think I’d have preferred that over the tin can that you forced us to ride in.” The camera zoomed in on the first contestant to exit the bus, a boy with a head of brown curls and a sneer on his lips. From his white button-down shirt tucked into his black slacks to the tie knotted around his neck, he looked as though he was ready to go to a semi-formal dance. “Is this how you treat all people with more money than you? If you do, then you must have some dirt poor friends.”

“Who needs friends when you can have fans?” Chris’s smirk had managed to stay plastered to his face through the teen’s complaining. “Everybody, meet our first contestant, Gabe!”

“Gabriel James Patterson the Fourth.” The curly-haired teen corrected.

The host raised an eyebrow. “Dude, I’m either gonna call you ‘Gabe’ or ‘dude.’ It’s your choice.”

The wealthy boy rolled his eyes. “Gabe it is, then.”

“That’s what I thought.” When Gabe walked past the fans, he stuck up his nose and pushed away any hands that reached for him. That was when Chris noticed that the rich kid was missing something. “I’m probably going to regret asking this, but where’s your luggage?”

“Did you really think I would put my designer suitcase on that bus’s gum-covered floor?” Gabe clapped his hands twice and a sleek, black car pulled up behind the bus. A middle-aged man in a suit exited the vehicle with a suitcase covered in travel stickers in one hand. Gabe pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and traded it with the man for the luggage. “Thank you, Wilton.”

“My pleasure, sir.” The man climbed back into the car and drove off as fast as he had arrived, leaving the observing fans baffled.

Predictably enough, Gabe seemed used to the attention and casually crossed his arms. “So, when are the other losers getting off the bus?”

“Well, excuse you.” A tall, dark-skinned girl spoke from the doorway of the bus, her voice carrying a hint of a Boston twang. “We’ll see who the loser is once I win the million dollars.”

“Welcome to McLean Studios, Risty.” Chris greeted as the newcomer slung a large duffle bag over her shoulder and gracefully hopped off of the bus. Risty’s red and white letterman jacket and the soccer ball tucked under her arm hinted that she was an athlete, though the most notable feature about her was definitely her hair. The natural, dark brown mane fell in tight curls both downward and outward, creating a cloud-like shape around her that bounced with every step she took.

You’re the one that called me a loser?” Risty asked Gabe, a playful grin tugging at her lips despite the frustration in her words. “This game isn’t made for pretty boys.”

Gabe rolled his eyes. “I didn’t know my uncle’s poodle was on the show.”

“You’re lucky I’m not meaner, because I don’t know how well that bushy hair’d protect your head from my soccer ball.” Risty held the white and black sphere in front of her, and Gabe self-consciously adjusted his hair.

“As much as I love drama, could you maybe save this for later?” Chris suggested. “I still have twenty contestants to introduce.”

“Make that nineteen.” Another girl exited the bus, though she seemed to be Risty’s polar opposite. The new arrival’s pale skin sharply contrasted the dark hair that hung around her face, and she was covered up in many layers of muted blue and gray clothing. Even with the extra layers of fabric, she was petite enough that she could probably fit inside the large suitcase that she rolled behind her.

“Meet Belladonna.” Chris introduced.

“It’s just Donna.” The brunette stated, passing by the host and the other contestants with neither eye contact nor a smile.

“Huh. Okay then.” Chris shrugged and turned back to the bus. “Hey, Camille!”

“Hello there, Mr. McLean.” A girl with curled black hair and Asian features exited the bus, a suitcase in one hand and a red purse in the other. She had impeccable posture as she approached Chris, her long, black and red gown skimming the pavement with her steps. “Wow, so this is what a bus stop looks like!”

“ … A bus stop?” Gabe repeated.

“Of course!” Camille examined the sets around her with a look of pure wonder. “Where else would a bus drop me off?”

“Um, actually, this is a film set.” Chris spoke slowly as if he was talking to a child, though his words still didn’t seem to get through to Camille. “You know, where we’re shooting the show?” No response. “Where you’ll be staying for the next however many weeks you’re in the competition?” The raven-haired girl cocked her head slightly, and Chris waved a hand at her. “I give up. It’s a bus stop.”

“I knew it! This is my first time riding a bus, but I know how this works.” Camille turned to the other three contestants and gave them a perfect "elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist" princess wave. “Hello, my name is Camille Lin. It is a pleasure meeting all of you, as I’ve never met real life poor people before.”

“I am anything but poor!” Gabe stuck up his nose at the comment. Donna shrugged in a manner that suggested she’d heard worse, and Risty put a hand on Camille’s shoulder.

“Girl, you have a lot to learn.”

“Yeah, she doesn’t get out much.” Chris glanced back at the bus and gave a laugh. “Speaking of socially awkward, here’s Paul!”

A boy wearing a forest green polo shirt emerged from the bus with a bright smile on his face. Though his dark hair and features suggested that he had some Asian blood, his eyes were as green as his shirt, which hinted at a mixed heritage.

“'Socially awkward?'” Paul repeated, slinging a giant pack onto his back. “What makes you say that?”

“I don’t know, man, maybe the whole Boy Scout thing?” Chris said with a laugh.

“Hey, that is nothing to be ashamed of!” Paul straightened out his posture and put his right hand up in a three fingered salute. “I’ve been scouting since I was a kid, and it’s turned me into an honest, mature man.”

“I don’t think it’s called the Man Scouts.” Risty giggled.

Paul’s smile barely faltered. “You just wait. I’ll prove to you that scouting isn’t just for kids and it definitely doesn’t make me socially awk-”

A gasp interrupted the do-gooder’s speech. “Oh, it smells much better out here than on that bus!”

Paul turned around to the sound of the Russian-accented voice only for his jaw to drop at the golden-haired goddess stepping off of the bus. This vision in black and pink was as slender as a Hollywood starlet with legs that went on for miles. She had a strong jaw and a sharp, clearly Eastern European nose, though these features were balanced out by plush lips and hooded blue eyes.

The blonde walked up to Paul and extended a hand. “Hello, my name is Irina.”

Paul stumbled over his words as he reached a wobbling hand out to shake Irina’s. “P-P-Paul. I’m Paul.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Irina gave him a smile, and Paul’s eyes practically turned into hearts.

“Irina is the younger sister of Renata Rostropovich, the Russian supermodel infamous for throwing phones, ripping out weaves, and drinking any man under the table.” Chris explained. “It looks like the bombshell gene runs in the family.”

“That is definitely not the introduction that I wanted, but thank you I guess.” Irina headed to stand beside the other contestants, Paul regaining his composure and joining her a minute later.

“Please welcome contestant number seven, Zack!” Chris McLean and the six arrived contestants stared at the bus door, which remained empty. “I said … Zack!” Chris increased the volume of his voice, though nobody emerged from the vehicle. The host huffed and peeked in through the door. “Zack, where are- HEY!

Chris fell to the ground as a little yellow and orange helicopter zoomed over his head. The vehicle did a few loops in the air, the spectating fans breaking into cheers at the miniature air show. When Chris got back on his feet, the vehicle flew at his face, sending him back onto the ground with a girlish squeal. The helicopter circled once around the host before landing in the palm of the small boy standing on the bus steps. The boy had an adorable freckled face, which contrasted with his shock of bleached hair and stretched ears. His shirt and shoes were a blinding shade of neon green, and the logo printed across his chest bore the name of a science fiction program.

“What the hell was that?!” Chris screamed, still curled into a partial fetal position.

Zack pulled a remote with a long antenna out from behind his back. “It’s just my remote control helicopter that I built on the bus ride over. Neat, isn’t it?”

The narcissist glared. “You could have messed up my hair! Or maybe even killed me!”

“Hey, it was just a joke.” The inventor offered the host a hand, but Chris pushed it away and got up on his own. Seeing the host’s annoyance, Zack joined the other contestants and shot a toothy grin at Irina.

“Nice try, kid.” Irina said. “Try again when you’re older.”

“Hey, I’m seventeen!” Zack insisted.

“Then try again when you’re taller.” The model let out a good-natured laugh, and the vertically-challenge inventor pulled a pen from one of his bags and began to scribble a design for a pair of stilts on his inner arm.

With a popping noise, the bus started its engine up again and pulled away from the studio, hopefully heading to an auto body shop to repair its flat tire. A second equally trashed bus drove in behind it, its front bumper coming loose and hitting the ground with a clank when it shifted into park. Its doors opened with a hiss, and a boy in a crooked orange baseball cap leaped out. The dark-skinned teen weaved between the other seven contestants while dribbling a basketball, his jeans sagging low enough to reveal his checkered boxers.

“Yeaaaaah buddy!” He exclaimed, miming the motions for a lay-up and tossing the ball in the air. “Eric Stoneleigh makes another basket! He’ll be this year’s first draft pick for sure!”

“He’s doing good, right?” Camille asked, politely clapping for the jock despite her confusion. The other contestants just stared at the newcomer as he accepted an imaginary trophy.

“I really don’t think Eric needs more of an introduction than that.” Chris stated. When Eric resumed running in circles with his basketball, the host grabbed him by the sweatshirt hood and pulled him to a stop. “Chill, man. You’re making me dizzy.”

“Being around this much swag can do that to you.” Eric said, making several hand gestures to the camera. Though he probably meant to be making gang signs, he was just alternating between the “hang loose” gesture and “I love you” in sign language.

“Um, Your Swaginess, you forgot your luggage.” A skinny girl with light brown skin struggled to drag a large suitcase to the top of the bus steps. “What’s in here, anyway? Rocks?”

She pushed the suitcase with all of her strength, causing it to topple down the stairs. It hit the pavement at an awkward angle and popped open to reveal that, other than a few items of clothing, it actually was filled to the top with rocks. Eric received a number of blank stares, but he chose to ignore them as he walked over to retrieve his luggage.

“Don’t hate on my rock collection!” He snarled.

“Oh, I wasn’t ‘hating on’ anything!” The new girl skipped down the stairs with her own luggage in tow, giving the camera a better view of her. Her entire color palette seemed to be composed of different shades of tan and brown, with dark eyes peeking out from beneath deep brown bangs. She reached into Eric’s suitcase and pulled out a speckled rock. “In fact, these rocks are wonderful! I’m guessing from the amount of Manhattan schist in here that you’re from New York City?”

“Born and raised.” Eric replied before snatching the stone from her hand. “Now give that back!” The New Yorker gently placed the rock on top of the pile and zipped the bag up, marching rather proudly back towards the other contestants.

“Everyone, this is Cara, this season’s nature lover.” Chris introduced the grinning girl.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you all.” Cara greeted her fellow contestants when she joined the group. “I’m sure we’ll have a great time on the show.”

Back at the bus, a handsome young man with golden blond hair poked his head through the doors, examining the area with wide brown eyes. He then slowly crept down the steps, his teeth clamped down on his lower lip and his eyes shifting back and forth nervously. He had a well-built frame beneath his t-shirt and overalls, though the frightened look on his face didn’t match his sculpted biceps.

“What’s wrong with you?” asked the ever so tactful Gabe.

The blond looked suspiciously from side to side once more before whispering in a thick Southern drawl, “I’m looking for the cameras.”

“Why don’t we give Josh an extreme close up to welcome him to McLean Studios?” Chris waved the cameras closer with a cruel smirk.

Unable to refuse the host’s demands, the cameramen stepped closer to Josh and zoomed their shots in on his face. The Southerner’s eyes grew to the size of dinner plates, and he let out a strangled yelp. His stance turned rigid until he became completely frozen in front of the cameras, not even breathing until it was completely necessary. Eventually, Chris walked over and clapped him on the back, which knocked him off balance.

“Oh, you’re going to be so fun to mess with this season.” The host said with a giddy smile before pushing Josh to join the other contestants.

As the Southerner tried to hide in the back of the group, another competitor stepped off of the bus. The new girl had a pair of gold plated sunglasses hiding her eyes, though her slightly hooked nose, pointed chin, and beautiful tan skin were in clear view. Her highlighted brown hair cascaded over her shoulders in gorgeous curls, and she sported a blue and tan outfit with golden accent pieces. She arched a well-sculpted brow at Josh.

“What has tall, buff, and handsome so scared?” She asked.

Josh was still too frightened to answer, so Paul spoke for him. “It’s the cameras.”

The newcomer let out a short laugh and brushed her hair over her shoulder. “What kind of an idiot is camera shy and enters a reality show?”

“Hey, there’s no need to be mean to the poor guy!” Risty defended the startled hunk.

“Beautiful, confident people can afford to be mean sometimes,” The sharp-featured but beautiful girl stated, “and Elena Harks is not changing her attitude for anybody.”

“Would that be Harks as in Harks Hotels?” Irina questioned.

“Why of course.” When Elena turned towards Irina, her haughty expression faded, and she pulled her sunglasses on top of her head to get a better look at the model. “Are you Irina Rostropovich?”

“Why of course.” The blonde mimicked the hotel heiress’s earlier response. “Nice sunglasses, by the way.”

Elena frantically plucked the accessory from atop her head and thrust it into Irina’s hands. “You can have them, I can afford another pair. I am, like, your sister’s number one fan! Ever since I saw her in LA Fashion Week, I’ve been following all of the news on her. I even bought the entire season of The Helen D’Angelo Show just to see the episode where she threw water in Helen’s face!”

“You can have these back then.” Irina returned the sunglasses to Elena with a grimace on her face. “The less I associate with Renata the better.”

Elena's jaw dropped in disbelief. "But why?"

“Well, she’s kind of a bi-”

“Ladies, ladies,” A tanned young man in a plum-colored button up stepped in between the two beauties. He had floppy brown hair and sweet brown eyes, with an elegantly sloped nose and a thin frame. “There’s no reason to fight on our first day here.”

Elena raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “And who exactly are you?”

“Does my name really matter? What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The newcomer received a blank look from Elena and Irina, as well as most of the other contestants.

It was Donna who finally spoke up to break the silence. “Does nobody else recognize the tacky Shakespeare quote?”

“That was Shakespeare?” Elena asked.

Donna nodded. “Straight from Romeo and Juliet. He was pretty much flirting with you in the cheesiest way possible.”

Elena and Irina both gave the supposed gentleman a dirty look, though he just shrugged. “It’s true. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to speak to a pair of beautiful ladies such as yourselves.”

“Yo, Victor, cut the cheese!” Chris ordered. “It’s leaving a gross taste in my mouth.”

“Oh my gosh, Chris McLean!” Another contestant rushed off of the bus in a blur of orange. She stopped less than a foot away from Chris, a huge smile stretched across her face. “I had no idea if you’d be introducing us or not, but I was praying and praying that you’d be the host this season! Can I hug you?”

“Ha. No.” Chris took a few steps away from the girl, who seemed as quirky as her outfit. Her wavy hair was pulled into a crooked ginger ponytail, and the sneakers and midriff-baring shirt that she wore were an even more intense shade of orange. As if the color choice didn’t stand out enough, she had accessorized with a yellow scarf tied around her waist, bracelets piled on each wrist, and several piercings in each ear. “Everyone, this is Minerva, clearly our new Sierra.”

“Oh, no way am I like Sierra!” Minerva protested. “I might love the show, but I don’t think it’s, like, humanly possible to get that obsessed. I’ve checked out some of that girl’s blogs, and man she is just on a whole ‘nother level. The other day, she posted this picture of a pair of underwear that she’d stolen from Cody while she was on Total Drama World Tour and has kept since then. That means she’s had them for five years! I don’t think I’ve ever seen-”

“Okay, okay, shut up.” Chris shoved the chatterbox off-screen. “How’s about we move on to our next contestant? Come on out, Robert!”

The young man that exited the bus overtook every other contestant in both height and overall size, with broad shoulders and muscled arms that looked as though he could easily crush some of the smaller contestants with one hand. He wore a football jersey over his well-built frame, the number seventeen printed on his chest. He had close-cropped hair and, despite his intimidating size, a wide, friendly smile on his face.

“Robert’s a bit of a gentle giant, aren’t you?” The muscular teen didn’t seem to hear Chris and was looking up at the sky. “Um … Robert?” The athlete still didn’t notice the host until he snapped his fingers several times directly in front of his face. “Earth to Robert!”

“Oh, hey Chris!” Robert greeted him. “When’d you get here?”

“Just a minute ago. Now go stand with your competition, we’re running on a tight schedule.” Chris had to suppress a sigh as he shooed the footballer away, though Robert obeyed without question. When the daydreamer was out of earshot, the host leaned in to the camera with a surprisingly human look on his face. “Just so you guys at home know, Robert has some problems with his short-term memory and attention span. Dude had a bad hit to the head with a football and suddenly he was never the same. Even I feel bad for the guy, and I’m … well, me.”

“Conspiring with the cameramen already, Chris?” A new voice spoke up. “It’s a bit early in the competition for that, don’t you think?”

The camera zoomed out to show that a dark-skinned girl with a side-swept pixie cut was standing beside the host. She had a round face with big, dark eyes, and she was easily the shortest contestant so far even with her heels on. Her violet shirt was embellished with rhinestone studs, which perfectly matched her monogrammed luggage set.

“Oh, when did you get off the-” Chris looked over his shoulder to see that the bus had already left, having run over its own bumper in the process. “Never mind. This is Monique, this season’s fashionista.”

“When my designs go international, I’m not going to need an introduction.” Monique proclaimed as she joined the other contestants.

“She’s got a huge ego for somebody so little.” Chris muttered as the third and final bus arrived at the curb. Its doors creaked open to reveal an attractive girl striking a dramatic pose behind them. “Of course, here comes Diva Number Two.”

The young woman had an hourglass body shape that was straight out of every man’s fantasies, her short skirt and low-cut shirt showcasing her legs and another pair of shapely assets. Her brown hair was cut into medium-length layers that were lightly feathered around her face, and her makeup was perfectly applied on her upturned eyes and high cheekbones.

After holding her pose for a set amount of time, the stunner stepped down onto the pavement and let out a sigh of relief. “I swear that something must have died in there.” Her voice had a hint of a Jersey accent. “I’m pretty sure that bus has the worst stench that I’ve ever smelled.”

“That’s the lovely scent of public transportation, Avery.” Chris let out a dry laugh. “At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never actually had the joy of dealing with strange scents on buses since I’m a celebrity and all.”

“Well, enjoy your fame while you can, Chris, because after I’m on the show it’ll be my face on the magazine covers.” Avery replied. “I already rule over my school, so I don’t think I’ll have any trouble becoming the queen of the tabloids.”

“Ugh. Barf.” A girl with dyed scarlet hair left the bus making the “gag me with a spoon” opened mouth and hand gesture. She had dark, round eyes and thick brows, and her black, red, and plaid punk-inspired ensemble coordinated well with the shade of her hair. Unlike the other girls, she had a stocky build that only looked stockier with the chunky, knee-high combat boots that she wore.

“What’s the matter,” Avery sneered, “did you get a chance to look at your outfit in the mirror? It’s definitely making me gag.”

“Sorry, I don’t take fashion advice from someone whose cleavage outshines her personality.”

“Ugh, please don’t put me on the same team as her.” Avery picked up her bags and strutted towards the other contestants.

“Meet Allison, the daredevil who apparently knows how to make an entrance.” Chris introduced. The scarlet-haired girl mock-bowed for the camera before joining her fellow contestants, notably standing on the opposite side of the group from Avery.

Another contestant stepped off the bus and quickly noticed the tension in the air judging by the devious expression on his face. “Whoa, did I miss a chick fight or something?”

“If you did then it was the lamest one I’ve ever seen.” Zack replied, his arms crossed in disappointment.

“Damn.” The newcomer adjusted a grimy gray backpack on his shoulder before he stepped off the bus. He was a bit short but handsome in a grungy, devil may care type of way, with shaggy, dirty blond hair and a square jaw. He was dressed rather carelessly in a gray sweatshirt and ripped jeans, though this matched his overall demeanor. “Fingers crossed that by the end of the season we’ll end up seeing a fight between her and her.” He pointed at Irina and then Avery. “Preferably it’ll be mud wrestling. Clothing optional.”

“I think you might’ve just earned the show hundreds of male viewers, Isaac.” Chris commented, giving him a pat on the back when he passed by.

“Pleasure doing business with you, Chris.” Isaac replied with a smug smirk on his face. Irina rolled her eyes when he walked past her, and Avery opened her mouth to snap at him, but she was interrupted by a yelp and some crashing from inside the bus.

“Dude, what do you think you’re doing?”

“I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out.”

“Get your lighter away from my guitar!”

“Come on, man! I just wanted to see if it was flammable!”

All eyes (well, almost all, as Robert was distracted by a plane flying overhead) were on the bus, where a lanky boy darted down the steps. He was so distracted with looking over his shoulder that he ran straight past Chris and into the distracted Robert. The footballer was set off balance and bumped into Minerva, who knocked into Victor, which started a domino effect of stumbling contestants.

“Nice job, Stretch!” Allison laughed when seeing all the contestants on the ground with her. The newcomer nervously ran a hand through his overgrown light brown bangs. “Stretch” was a nickname that definitely fit his appearance, as he matched Robert in height but had a skinny, gangly build. He was a musician judging by the broken record printed on his shirt and the guitar slung over his shoulder, though his awkwardness had created a rather off-key entrance.

“I see you’ve all met Wes.” Chris cackled.

“I’m so sorry, guys.” Wes apologized as the other competitors got to their feet. “I guess I was a little distracted. There’s a crazy guy with a lighter on the bus who-”

“Hey, whoa, watch the language. I think you meant ‘a guy with a lighter and a great personality.’” Another boy stepped off the bus and tossed a red cigarette lighter around in the air. He had angular cheekbones with a skin tone that suggested Latino blood, and his black hair was spiked up in a shape that resembled a cartoonish flame.

“Just keep your lighter away from my guitar.” Wes demanded. “Fire and wood don’t exactly mix well, and there’s no way I can afford a new one.”

The newcomer put up both his hands in a motion of surrender. “Chill, man, I won’t light it if it means that much to you.”

“Meet Angel!” Chris introduced. “He’s our Puerto Rican pyromaniac, but he oddly enough isn’t our craziest contestant.”

“Hey, watch where you’re throwing that word around.” Angel repeated his earlier statement. “I just have an unusual hobby, that’s all.”

“Who could be crazier than a pyro?” Elena asked.

“Oh my god, oh my god!” Minerva rocked back and forth excitedly. “It’s Izzy, isn’t it?”

Chris snickered. “Not exactly-”

“Hellooooooooo everybody!” A dreamy voice rang out in a sing-song tone. Standing on the bus steps was a pale girl with white-blonde hair. She had a round face and green doe eyes, and her lips were parted in a blissed out grin. She wore a pink shirt with the shoulders cut out of it, and she had two bags of luggage in tow that had various art supplies hanging from them.

The pale-haired girl pranced down the steps and did a twirl when she reached the pavement. “It’s so beautiful here! I bet when the sun sets, it’ll cast a lovely array of colors!”

“That’d be from pollution.” Chris commented dryly.

“It doesn’t matter how the color got there, just that it is there.” The girl started to hum and dance in circles.

“If it wasn’t obvious enough, Ophelia is an artist who just flew in from Looney Land.” Chris explained as she pirouetted past him.

“I’ve never heard of Looney Land. I’m actually from Wisconsin!” Ophelia made a circle with one of her arms, which accidentally sent a tube of paint flying out of her bag and through the air. The artistic projectile was headed straight towards the final contestant that was stepping off the bus. Ophelia gasped in fright as the paint neared his face, but the newcomer reached a hand up and snatched the tube out of the air when it was barely an inch from his nose.

“I believe this is yours.” The newcomer was slightly bowlegged but walked with a near inhuman grace when he approached Ophelia. He had dark skin, close-cut brown hair, and a strong jaw, though his light gray eyes were almost femininely beautiful. He had strong shoulders beneath his black shirt, and he was pulling a black suitcase that was printed with the symbols of the four standard card suits.

“Oh, thank you.” Ophelia gingerly took the paint from his hand. “I didn’t mean to throw it at you.”

“Oh, I know you didn’t.” Though his words seemed genuine, there was something calculating behind the new arrival’s lovely eyes.

“Last but not least, we have Sebastian!” Chris gestured towards the newcomer as the bus started up again. The vehicle left a thick cloud of smoke behind as it pulled away from the film lot, leaving the host and the contestants choking and coughing. When he managed to wave most of the smoke away, Chris leaned off-camera and whispered, “You’re going to edit that out, right?” to a cameraman before turning to the rest of the cast.

“Welcome to McLean Studios, your home for the next few weeks! If you’ll all just follow me, I’ll give you a mini-tour.” Chris headed deeper into the film studios, and the contestants gathered their belongings and trailed after him, some immediately regretting that they had brought so many pieces of luggage. When the fans tried to tag along, the host turned sharply on his heel to glare at them. “Not you guys. I know you’re all the grand winners of a million different ‘exclusive’ sweepstakes to see the filming of the pilot episode, but your journey of a lifetime ends here.”

The fans groaned in unison, though the sadistic host relished in the disappointment. A group of burly security guards walked out from behind a nearby set and forced the spectators back. A few contestants looked on in sympathy, but they soon had to keep moving to avoid losing the rest of the group.

“McLean Studios is filled with movie sets that were used in past productions.” Chris narrated as they walked through a perfect replica of the Roman Coliseum before it started to crumble. “This lot used to be owned by a pretty major production company, so you might recognize a few places from your favorite flicks. We’ve got every set you can dream of-”

“Is there a space set?” Zack interrupted.

Chris scowled at him. “Yes, but don’t inter-”

“What about a high school?” Risty questioned.

The host sighed. “Yes, but it’s my turn to ta-”

“Oooh, is there a castle?” Minerva asked. “Or a prison or a swamp or a stage or a-”

Chris turned around and clamped a hand over the redhead’s mouth. “Yes, but for God’s sake, shut up.”

Minerva started to talk again, but Chris kept his hand in place to block out the sound. Eventually, the loudmouth stopped babbling and gave the host a nod to indicate that she’d caught on.

“Much better.” Chris retracted his hand and continued along with his tour. He eventually guided the contestants past a set of stairs that led down to what looked like an amphitheater. “You might think it looks pretty, but this is a location that will be filled with shocks, betrayals, and heartfelt goodbyes. This is the site where your elimination ceremonies, the Team’s Choice Awards, will take place, so it’s where all but one of you will be sent packing.”

A few contestants exchanged nervous looks at the thought of being sent home, though they were unable to linger long because the host had continued on his merry way towards another set. Chris was reciting a spiel that was probably pre-written judging by his lack of enthusiasm, though nobody was listening anyway, instead being distracted by the beautiful sets around them. The host seemed to have been true to his word when he said that they had every set imaginable.

The tour finally stopped near the center of the film set. In front of the group stood a three-story tall building with red double doors marking its entrance. This structure was unique from the other more standard buildings they had passed because the entire front wall of its second and third floors was made of glass windows. Chris held his arms out with pride. “Welcome to your new home!”

The pack immediately burst into cheers, as most of them had expected something similar to the run-down cabins or the jumbo jet from previous seasons. Only Gabe and Elena seemed unimpressed, both giving the building an uninterested eye roll.

“This is nothing.” Gabe sneered. “My summer cottage is bigger than this.”

“Okay, then how about the other contestants live here and you go try to sleep in a back alley in Major City?” Chris suggested.

The rich kid’s snobby expression quickly changed to a forced smile. “No, no, this is good!”

Holding his head high in satisfaction, Chris led the contestants through the front doors. “We’ll be calling this building The Hotel because its purpose is the same as a hotel’s: provide a room for you until you’re forced to leave. Here we have the lobby.”

The group filed into the first room of the building, which had high ceilings and a fountain in the center of the tiled floor. There were several armchairs, couches, and coffee tables along both sides of the room, with a fireplace against the left wall. A desk covered in papers and folders was placed in the middle of the back wall of the room, a sign reading “CLOSED” propped on top of it, and hallways to the left and right of the desk led deeper into the building.

“Whoever manages this lobby needs to be fired.” Elena commented, placing her hands on her hips. “There isn’t even a receptionist at the front desk. Harks Hotels would never leave a guest without service.”

“That’s because it’s not for you, bra.” Chris said. “It’s an info desk for the cameramen and other crew because they keep getting lost on this huge lot. You’ll never have to use it.” Elena didn’t seem satisfied with the answer, but the host didn’t seem to care as he walked down the right passageway. “The doors in these two hallways lead to a ton of other rooms, but you can explore those on your own time. One thing that is important, though ...” Chris opened up a door on his right. “There’s a confessional here!”

The contestants took turns peeking into the little room. “Um, isn’t this a janitor’s closet?” Angel asked.

“Not anymore it isn’t.” Chris laughed.

Confession Cam

Isaac: “So far I’ve gotten a nice place to live, a few hot girls to admire, and a chance at a million bucks.” The slacker leaned back and propped his arms behind his head. “I’d say this is a pretty sweet deal.”

Gabe: “Okay, what the hell is this?” He glanced around the room with his face scrunched up in displeasure. “How dare they force me to sit in this dump to express my opinion? Do they know who I am?”

Ophelia: “This film lot is lovely! So many of the sets are just begging to be painted!” The pale girl took a good whiff of the air around her. “Oh, and this closet smells like lemon-scented cleaning products. How delightful!”

Josh: The golden-haired hunk sat with wide eyes and a dropped jaw. After remaining frozen in this position for a minute, he finally whispered, “There’s a camera in here too?”

“Both the left and right hallways,” Chris continued his speech, “lead to the cafeteria and kitchen, where we’re going now.”

The host opened the double doors in front of him to reveal a room that was much nicer and cleaner than the Mess Hall back at Camp Wawanakwa, though the basic set-up was still the same. There were two long rectangular tables on either side of the room, each with about a dozen chairs around them. A few smaller tables were set up in front of the large windows that spanned the back wall, the view looking out on the sets behind The Hotel. To the right was a counter to serve food at, with the swinging door beside it bearing a label that indicated that it was the kitchen.

“So a nice cafeteria means nice food, right?” Wes assumed. “No camp food or airline peanuts?”

Chris clicked his tongue twice. “See, that’s one of the catches to living in The Hotel. The food isn’t exactly my department, so I think I’ll direct you to a seasoned professional. Come on out, Chef!”

The kitchen door slammed open to reveal the familiar hulking form of Chef Hatchet. His nostrils were flared and his single eyebrow was furrowed in a glare as he stomped into the cafeteria.

“Maggots!” He bellowed. “I won’t be cookin’ your food this season.” The contestants began to cheer in their taste buds’ honor. “ … You will.” The cheering immediately ceased. “I’ve come back to the show not to be your cook, but to be a supervisor and medic. I ain’t cookin’ nothin’ for you. I’ll just be keepin’ an eye on you to make sure you don’t accidentally kill anyone.”

Chef pulled a paper from his apron and handed it over to Chris. “Another catch that I’ll mention while we’re on the subject is that you’re kind of on lockdown.” The host explained. “You’re free to wander through any set that isn’t blocked off during the day, but you can’t leave The Hotel at night unless you manage to sneak past the security guards that’ll be planted in front of the door and patrolling the sets. We had to up the security because of the rabid fans and paparazzi that might be lurking about. Some hack from a gossip magazine did some snooping and upped the show’s media profile, so those guys will do anything to get a piece of you.”

A few of the contestants had expressions of horror at the thought of being literally ripped apart by fan girls, though Elena smiled in joy. Josh’s face turned ghostly white and he rushed to cower behind the nearest contestant. That contestant was unfortunately Zack, who was a full head shorter than him and left the Texan exposed.

“Is there anything good about staying in The Hotel, or is it all one big catch?” Zack asked, ignoring the cowardly farmer that was hiding behind him.

“No, it’s actually a pretty nice place, I swear!” Chris promised. “There’re plenty more tricks coming up in the competition to make up for it, though. Like this one: leave your bags here, because you’re heading off to your first challenge!”

Confession Cam

Zack: “I guess we should’ve figured that we’d be thrown right into a challenge, but dang, he couldn’t have given us some time to scope the place out? I’m not really sure that some of my inventions can stay cooped up in my luggage for much longer!”

Chris had led the now luggage-less contestants through the doors of a rather nondescript gray building, which led straight into a backstage area. Bright lights shone from beneath the heavy red curtain at the back of the area, the sound of hushed voices carrying from behind it. There were a few members of the camera crew and sound team milling about, but otherwise the host and twenty-two contestants were the only people in the cluttered space.

“In true reality show fashion, I’ll be separating you into two teams. I’d recommend you try not to be a Heather and make them all hate you, because otherwise you’re not going to last very long if you're sent to elimination.” Chris pulled out the paper that Chef had handed him earlier and started reading off of it. “First we’ll have The Oscars: Paul, Cara, Josh, Avery, Angel, Robert, Camille, Isaac, Irina, Eric, and … Allison.”

The eleven contestants gathered to the host’s left and gave each other a once over.

“This is going to be so much fun!” Cara exclaimed.

“Yeah, fun.” Isaac tried to slip his arms around the waists of Irina and Avery, though both beauties jerked away in disgust.

“The other team will be The Emmys!” The handsome host announced. “If you haven’t figured it out yet, that’ll be the rest of you: Risty, Monique, Ophelia, Elena, Zack, Sebastian, Minerva, Gabe, Victor, Donna, and Wes.”

“I really think you should have put the most important people first.” Elena protested.

“He did. That’s why I was first.” Risty joked.

“You’ll be eating those words.” The hotel heiress threatened the athlete.

“You might want to wait a sec before you pounce.” Chris suggested. “Save the drama for when you’re on stage!” At the host’s words, the red curtain opened to reveal a cheering studio audience sitting in front of a stage, where four people sat with their backs facing the contestants. “Your first challenge is going to be surviving your fifteen minutes of fame … literally. All you have to do is keep the audience entertained through a fifteen minute interview. If fifteen minutes pass and you’re still on stage, you earn a point for your team, but if the audience gets bored with you …”

The audience members all pressed a button on the arm of their chairs and the sound of a buzzer rang through the air.

“Um, I think the cowboy just fainted.” Angel remarked as Josh collapsed onto the ground beside him.

Avery pushed the pyromaniac aside and stepped over the farmer’s unconscious body to get to the front of the group. “This will be easy. Who wouldn’t want to listen to me talk for fifteen minutes?” Behind her, Allison confidently raised her hand in the air, though the drama queen didn’t notice.

“Easy? Oh, I must not have mentioned the very special guests who will be interviewing you.” Chris smirked as a spotlight shone down on the first chair. “Our first interviewer is a supermodel and a business woman. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s also the hostess of America’s Future Beauty Queen and a bit of a nut ball. Please welcome … Tina Blanks!”

The chair spun around to reveal a very beautiful and very familiar face. Tina Blanks’ caramel colored hair fell in perfect waves around her strong cheekbones, and she complimented her mocha skin with a vermillion dress. “Some of you are looking totally ferocious today!” Her face lit up when she shouted her signature catchphrase, though her expression darkened a split second later. “But some of you could definitely use a makeover.”

“Our next host,” Chris started as the spotlight shifted to the chair beside Tina, “is a stand-up comedienne whose jokes are only outshone by her sweet dance moves! She’s the host of The Helen D’Angelo Show, please welcome … Helen D’Angelo!”

“Hey, everybody!” Helen let out a nasally laugh and spun her chair around, letting it twirl in circles before stopping to look at the contestants. “Jeez, judging by the looks on your faces I’d think you saw a monster … or Chris McLean.” The comedienne with the boy-short blonde hair shrugged. “Oh wait, they’re the same thing!”

“Terrible joke, move along!” Chris ordered the spotlight to shine away from Helen and onto the next chair. “It’s hard to find words that can properly describe our next guest, so let’s just say she makes a ridiculous amount of money and could rule the world if she wanted to. Please welcome … Opal Winfrey!”

The chair turned around to show a face that nobody failed to recognize, and Opal gave a bright smile to the contestants. She reached down into the bag that was sitting at her feet and pulled out a much smaller bag, tossing it to Chris. “Everyone who gets interviewed by me gets a bag of my favorite things!”

“Ooh, I get one too?!” Chris exclaimed when he caught the goodie bag.

“Of course!” Opal spun her chair back around to face the audience. “In fact, everyone gets a gift!”

The audience broke into cheers as the spotlight shifted to the final chair. “Our last hostess is best known for her gig on a national talk show every weekday.” Chris introduced as he dug through his gift bag. “Please welcome-”

“Not so fast!” The studio doors slammed open and a familiar curly-haired reporter descended the stairs that led through the audience. “I will be the final hostess.”

“Who’re you?” Chris pondered.

“Who am I?” The blonde stepped onto the stage. “I am Rachel Claire, head of RealityGossip Magazine, and you have granted me inside coverage on this show.”

“Oh, right, you.” The host waved his hand in a pish-posh manner before digging it back into Opal’s bag of treats.

“I was supposed to get the first interviews with the contestants when they got off the bus, but I didn’t even make it that far!” Rachel Claire shouted. “Instead, I was trampled by rabid fans before I could get one foot onto the film lot! I think you owe me!”

“You can’t do that!” The unrevealed hostess in the final chair protested.

“Um, actually she can.” Chris grimaced. “We have a contract, and I’m not getting into any lawsuits. So she’s the final host and you’re toast.”

What?!” A trap door opened beneath the chair and the mystery hostess fell through the floor with a scream. An intern walked onstage with a new chair, and Rachel Claire took the seat.

“With this unexpected twist, we have our first challenge!” Chris looked directly at the camera. “Who will be able to take on the terrible talk show hostesses and who will cave under the pressure? Who will be the competition’s first loser? What is in my gift bag from Opal? Find out when we return from the commercial break on Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

Chapter Two: Trash TV Talk

Updated: May 29, 2014

“Oh, I got a pair of socks! And here’re some chocolates, and a candle, and a cookbook, and a sweater!” Chris pulled item after item from the gift bag that Opal Winfrey had given him, a look of amazement on his face. Failing to notice that the camera was on him, he stuck his head in the little bag. “Is there a black hole in here or something? How much stuff did she give me?” He flipped the bag over and another dozen trinkets fell out.

A cameraman cleared his throat. “Um, Mr. McLean? We’re rolling.”

The host looked up at the camera and then hid the bag behind his back. “Welcome back to Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment!” He exclaimed as several of the goodies fell on the ground behind him. “During the break, the twenty-two contestants were randomly assigned to one of our four horrible hostesses. We’re supposed to be starting with an interview with Monique, but Tina Blanks ran to the bathroom twenty minutes ago to try to glue an extension back to her head and hasn’t been seen since.”

“Ooh, she is going to be ticked if she finds out you told the world that happened.” Monique commented from the other side of the curtain.

The camera angle switched from the backstage area to the main stage, where Monique was drumming her fingers against her thigh. Two of the hostess’s spinning chairs had been pushed aside, and the pair that remained was set up in the center of the stage, the left one containing the bored Monique and the right one empty. There was a coffee table between the chairs, and the elevated television monitor that was set up behind it displayed an animated logo of Tina Blanks’ name.

“How is she not back yet?” Monique whined. “Can somebody go check to make sure she didn’t flush herself down the toilet?”

“Hold your horses, beauty like this takes time!” Tina Blanks emerged from behind the curtain and positioned herself into Ferocious Pose Number One-Thirty-Six from her endless posing repertoire. When the audience clapped for her, Tina strutted over to take a seat in the empty chair and picked up a set of notecards from the table. “Let’s put fifteen minutes on the clock.”

“It’s about time.” Monique adjusted her position to something more professional. The image on the screen behind the two ladies changed to a timer, and a high-pitched beep signaled the start of the interview.

“Hello, ladies and gentleman, I’m Tina Blanks.” The supermodel narrowed her eyes at the camera and arched her brows, resulting in a catlike look. “Today I’ll be chatting with Monique Darling, one of the contestants on the new season of Total Drama. Now, Monique, can I just say that you’re looking absolutely ferocious right now?”

“Thanks, Tina.” Monique replied, angling her body a bit more towards the audience to give them a full view of her clothing. “I actually designed and constructed every part this outfit myself. The only things that I bought were the shoes, but I set the rhinestones in them by hand to make them one of a kind.”

“Well, I’m definitely a fan.” Tina complimented. “So, all that the audience knows about you so far is that you’ve made it on the show and are competing for The Emmys team. Why don’t you tell them a little bit more about yourself?”

“I’d love to, Tina.” Monique replied, her tone suggesting that this was one of her favorite subjects. “I live in Manhattan and have always been obsessed with fashion, whether it was on the street or in a display window. After trying on countless outfits, I realized that I wanted something better. I sketched out my own designs, and my parents bought me a sewing machine so I could bring my fashions to life. After getting featured on some prominent fashion blogs for my street style, I started to sell my custom fashions online on The Darling Collection website.”

“It’s nice to have new faces in the fashion world.” Tina stated, though her expression said otherwise.

“Well, thank you, I-” Monique stopped talking when she saw Tina Blanks yawn, and the designer’s professional grin was replaced with a scowl. “Do you have a problem with me?”

“Oh, it’s just a small thing.” A smirk crawled across Tina’s lips. “Don’t you think you’re a little short to be in the fashion industry?”

“I don’t think you heard me correctly. I want to be a designer, not a model.”

Tina crossed her arms over her chest. “My point still stands.”

“I don’t see what my height has to do with anything.”

“Honey, I know you’re just an amateur, but tall girls are confident girls, and confidence equals success.” Tina preached. “You’re going to make it nowhere in this industry if you’re under five foot nine. The only thing that’s worse than being short is if you were plus-sized.”

“Excuse me?” Monique got to her feet, though she was still at eye level with the sitting Tina. “You better take that back, because if there’s one thing that I am it’s confident! My height doesn’t mean crap!”

“Why do you wear heels then?”

“Because they look good!”

“No, I think it’s because they make you look taller.” Tina flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Trust me, honey, I know. I help girls get in touch with their flaws on every season of America’s Future Beauty Queen. And while we’re on the topic of image, I think you could use a makeover.”

Monique had been preparing to lunge at the supermodel but froze in place. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“I can see it now: I’ll bleach your brows, dye your hair red, and get some frizzy weave tracks in there. Now that’s high fashion.” Tina snapped her fingers over her head. “Come on in, boys!”

A few men stepped onstage wielding scissors and hairspray, and Monique backed away from them. “No, no, no!” She hit the edge of her chair and fell back into it. “Don’t touch me!”

Realizing that the makeover men had cornered her in her seat, Monique protectively put her hands over her eyes and hair. As soon as her face was covered, she heard the sound of a buzzer split through the air. The designer peeked through her fingers to see that the makeover men had retreated and Tina Blanks was laughing.

Monique uncovered her face to point an accusing finger at the supermodel. “You knew that would scare me! You were just trying to get the audience to eliminate me.”

Tina casually examined her nails. “Well, that and I wanted to knock you down a few pegs and show how confident you really are.”

“I hate you Hollywood types.” Monique huffed.

“Wait until you see how shallow most designers are!” Tina called after the fashionista as she stomped offstage. When Monique reached the circle of contestants waiting backstage, some of her teammates tried to console her, though she marched right past them.

Confession Cam

Monique: “I should’ve known she was kidding, but Tina does give out terrible makeovers to teach the girls on her show a lesson!” The designer crossed her arms over her chest. “I was so confident going out there, but that bitch completely blindsided me. It was just the first challenge, though. Now that I have a feel for the competition, I’ll show you that big attitudes come in small packages … well, after I make sure my interview didn’t put me up for elimination.”

“So … what exactly are you wearing?”

“I could ask you the same thing. That scrap of fabric that you have on leaves nothing to the imagination.”

Tina Blanks glanced up at the timer and sighed. “Do I really have to sit with this fashion disaster for five more minutes?”

Allison gave a satisfied smirk from her position in the other chair. After seeing Tina Blanks tear Monique apart, the scarlet-haired girl knew what to expect and was able to handle the first two-thirds of her interview with ease. Rather than let the supermodel’s insults affect her, the clever daredevil turned them around and shot them right back at Tina. This had frustrated the hostess, but the audience was entertained by the back-and-forth rally.

“I don’t know if you got the memo,” Tina Blanks attempted to start another insult, though defeat was evident in her voice, “but when most people dye their hair, they want it to look natural. Fire truck red with bad roots isn’t exactly making the cut.”

“At least my hair is real.” Allison snapped back. “How many cats did you have to shave to make that weave?”

“How many permanent markers did you go through while applying your makeup?”

“How many ribs did you break trying to get into that dress?”

Tina’s jaw dropped. “Oh no you didn’t! You can say whatever you want about my hair, my style, and my show, but by picking on my weight you’ve crossed the line!” The scandalized supermodel self-consciously tugged at her dress. “Now I’m only going to eat three apple slices for dinner instead of four!”

Allison shrugged. “I’m sure that’ll be better than whatever gruel my teammates cook up.”

“I can tell by your thunder thighs that you have no concern for your look, but do you know how much work I put in to keep my model’s physique?! It takes constant scheduling, constant monitoring, constant self-awareness …” Tina Blanks continued listing the features of her daily routine, Allison occasionally nodding to make the supermodel think that she was listening. Eventually, the timer went down to zero and a bell chimed.

“Was that the sound of my heart breaking over Tina’s sob story?” Allison remarked dryly.

“Not even close!” Chris McLean replied over a loudspeaker. “That bell signaled the end of the fifteen minute period and a point for The Oscars!”

What?!” Tina Blanks shrieked.

The audience applauded Allison as she stood up and took a dramatic bow, and the timer on the screen behind her switched over to display the score, one to zero in favor of The Oscars. The daredevil exited stage right, and Victor stole the spotlight by dramatic pushing through the curtain. The actor held his head high and gave the audience a flourished wave, playing up the dramatics for his potential fans.

“Thank you, thank you!” Victor blew a kiss to the front row before sitting down in his chair, starting the timer. “I am nothing without a captivated audience!”

“Right now they look a lot more ‘held captive’ than captivated.” Tina Blanks remarked with a roll of her eyes.

“Oh, Tina, I’m a seasoned professional and could entertain an audience with both hands tied behind my back.” Victor bragged. “By the end of this interview, they’ll want fifteen more minutes with me.”

Tina already looked ready to kick the actor off the stage, but she had a job to do and picked up her index cards. “Okay, so you are-”

“Victor Phae, experienced actor and hopeless romantic, at your service.” The brunet introduced himself.

“And you’re playing for The Emmys.” Tina Blanks’ eye twitched at being interrupted and upstaged. “So, Mister ‘Hopeless Romantic,’ I’m sure some your ‘captivated audience’ would like to know what type of girl catches your eye.”

Victor made a humming noise in his throat as he scanned the audience, putting his finger to his chin in thought. After a minute of this, Tina Blanks loudly cleared her throat and glanced at the timer. Eventually, Victor got to his feet and hopped off the stage, finger pointed upwards in a drama “Eureka!” pose. The supermodel watched as the actor walked up the center aisle, giving no mind to any member of the audience until he reached the second to last row and outstretched his hand to an attractive blonde sitting in the third seat from the aisle.

“Would you care to join me on the stage?” Victor offered. The girl giggled and took his hand, and the romantic guided her towards Tina. When they reached the stage, he motioned for her to sit in his chair and then knelt in front of her. “Beautiful golden hair, wonderful eyes, flawless skin … you have all the traits that I want in a girl, so you must be an angel sent to this earth just for me.”

“How did you even see her back there past all these lights?” Tina Blanks asked, squinting and attempting to look out into the audience.

Victor smiled triumphantly. “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.

Confession Cam

Victor: “After that little stunt, the audience was eating out of the palm of my hand. Everybody loves a bit of romance, so it would have been impossible for me not to get that point.” The Romeo brushed away a bit of hair that fell into his eyes. “I’m not saying that the girl I staged the connection with wasn’t my type, but I could just tell that she wasn’t The One.”

Allison and Victor had each displayed their own brand of entertainment through their interviews, so the audience was eager to see what the next contestant had to offer. After finally being awakened from his unconscious state via a bucket of ice water, Josh lasted only ten seconds with Tina Blanks before he was overwhelmed by the cameras, the audience’s gaze, and the model’s presence and passed out again. The audience’s buzzers sounded when the farmer failed to get up, and two interns carried him offstage.

The complete opposite situation occurred when it was Irina’s turn to sit in the chair. The moment the beautiful blonde stepped onstage, it was Tina who leapt from her seat in fright.

“A Rostropovich!” She yelped.

Irina gave her a confused look. “I’m sorry, have we met before?”

“No, but I’ve met your succubus of a sister!” Tina Blanks clutched the ends of her hair. “She came onto my show and ripped out my weave, and then she stole my man! Please don’t hurt me, I’m not young enough to steal editorial jobs anymore!”

The Russian was displeased with being associated with her sister’s antics again, but she put on a soothing voice and reached out to try to comfort the supermodel. “It’s okay, Renata and I are nothing alike. Just because she’s my sister doesn’t mean-”

When the blonde’s hand touched Tina’s shoulder, the supermodel frantically jerked away. This action caused her chair to flip backwards, and the hostess lay sprawled on the floor in shock for a minute before curling up to hide herself from the younger model.

“Please, just let me be! I’m too pretty to die!”

Realizing that comforting Tina was a lost cause, Irina introduced herself and then conversed with the members of the audience for the duration of the fifteen minutes. Once the bell signaling the end of her time rang, Irina gave one last worried glance to Tina before leaving the stage. A minute later, Tina Blanks peeked over her chair to make sure that the blonde had left before she crawled behind the curtain.

“Hello, everybody!” The audience members got to their feet when Opal Winfrey emerged from backstage, one girl in the front row looking ready to faint in the powerful woman’s presence. Used to the attention, Opal shot the fans a smile before sitting in her chair. “Now that Tina's turn is over, I'll be running the show for a bit. I’m so excited to meet these wonderful young contestants! Let’s see who’s first.”

A spotlight pointed at Wes when he walked onto the stage. The musician gave the audience a friendly wave before sitting in his chair to start the clock.

“Welcome, Wes.” Opal greeted, outstretching her right hand.

“Thank you.” The gangly teen shook Opal’s hand, his foot rhythmically tapping against the floor with nerves. “I just can’t believe I’m actually sharing a stage with Opal Winfrey. I know Chris was trying to get some star power this season, but you’re an icon.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say I’m that important.” Opal waved a casual hand. “Besides, this interview is about you, not me, so why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience?”

“Oh, sure!” Wes turned towards the nearest camera. “I’m Wes, and I’m this season’s token musician. My mom moves around to find work, so I’ve been moving from place to place ever since I was a kid. I’ve lived all over the United States … oh, and I spent a few months in a motel in Ontario before we had our papers checked and got booted out. I’ve kind of lived a weird life, but my music keeps me sane. I was a big fan of the first few seasons of the show, so when applications for another season opened I just had to get on it and win the million dollars.”

“Wes, you seem like such a sweetheart.” Opal remarked. “With that and the musician thing, wouldn’t you say you’re a bit of a Trent 2.0?”

“Not unless we’re talking about first season Trent.” Wes replied. “He was a pretty decent guy in Island even though he kind of just filled space, but he just wasn’t the same after that season. Selling out to the Drama Brothers and then breaking up with a girl by text are just not cool in my book. You don’t have to be a monster for money.”

Opal had an almost motherly grin on her face. “If you were to win the money, what would you do with it?”

“Buy my mom a house so she’ll stop moving around, and then use some to get my brother out of … well, let’s just say he’s not exactly in the best place right now. I’m not used to having a lot, so I don’t really know what I’d do with the rest. Maybe save it?”

“Not a lot of young people today are so unselfish, so I applaud you for that.” Opal gave Wes a golf clap, a few members of the audience joining in shortly after. “I’m glad the show casted a boy who doesn’t want to blow the money on clubbing like many young adults today. I had figured that since you’re a musician you’d want to spend it for promotional reasons, but you put others before yourself, which is an admirable trait that a lot of people today seem to be lacking. I shouldn’t be surprised, though, since it seems to run in the family.”

“Oh thank-” Wes paused when he processed the hostess’s final statement. “-Wait, what was that last part?”

“You’re Wesley Winfrey.” Opal stated. “A last name like that isn’t a common one, and the fact that we’re both remarkable individuals just proves that we must be family.”

“Um, I really doubt that.” The musician said. “I think somebody would’ve mentioned if I were related to you, or at the very least one of my uncles would’ve tried to con some cash from you.”

Opal laughed. “Nonsense! Don’t you see the resemblance?”

Wes gave a confused look to the plus-sized, dark-skinned, dark-haired hostess before glancing down at his own lanky and fair appearance. “Um … not really.”

Confession Cam

Wes: “I tried to change the topic, but Opal just kept going on and on and on about us being related. I guess it was technically a good thing since it wasted most of the time and got me a point, but does she really think that she could be related to some skinny white boy? Everyone with the last name Jones or Smith isn’t related, so why would Winfrey be any different?”

The next contestant to sit with Opal was Cara, though her interview didn’t fare any better than Wes’s. The nature lover shared her favorite hobbies, volunteering with environmental protection agencies and caring for her pets, and Opal broke out into an impassioned speech about the teenage generation needing role models like her. She ranted on that Cara would be a positive influence on young viewers, leaving the tree hugger sitting in silence as the hostess wasted the remainder of the fifteen minutes.

Risty was the next to take the stage, though her hair made a bigger impression on Opal than her personality. The athlete began to tell the audience her backstory, but Opal interrupted her by getting up to tug at her curls. Risty’s mane was then used as an example of results that came from using Opal’s favorite brand of shampoo for ethnic hair, even though the look on the athlete’s face said that she definitely didn’t use the product. Risty sat with her arms crossed and her lips pursed, clearly uncomfortable that she had been used for product placement, and when Opal finally gave her a chance to talk about herself, the bell chimed to signal the end of the interview.

Ophelia had brought a set of paintings to display for the audience. Each piece depicted a fantastical human-plant hybrid, creating a series of people with flowers for faces, petals sprouting from their limbs, and vines wrapped around their legs. Opal was fascinated by the paintings, but their discussion inevitably led to the hostess proclaiming that artists like Ophelia were a rarity because schools were cutting the funding to their art programs. Unlike the other contestants, Ophelia didn’t stay quiet and instead joined in on the rant, which continued through the fifteen minutes.

By the time Avery strutted onstage, it seemed as though the audience was too intimidated by Opal’s presence to end one of her guests’ interviews prematurely. The hazel-eyed Jersey girl, however, didn’t seem affected by the star power on the stage and sat with her legs crossed, her hands folded, and a confident smile on her face.

“Welcome onto the show.” Opal greeted, scanning her index cards. “Why don’t you introduce yourself to the audience?”

“My pleasure, Opal.” Avery dramatically flipped her hair, an action that had been perfected through plenty of practice. “My name is Avery Dellcourte, and I’m a high school senior from New Jersey. One day I’ll be famous, which will hopefully be kick started when I win this show. I’m already a star at my school, as I’m the class president and head of the prom committee, yearbook staff, spirit squad, debate club-”

“Oh, so you’re very involved with your school’s extracurricular activities?” Opal gave an approving nod. “It’s always great when somebody wants to be a part of an organization.”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a ‘part of’ these organizations.” The drama queen corrected. “I’d say it’s more like I’m the only one that does anything for them. I only want what’s best for everyone, but I have a bit of a take charge personality, so when I see that a club needs improvement I step in and fix it. It’s just embarrassing to see a lackluster cheer squad or a disorganized pep rally committee, so I show up to meetings and make everything right.”

Opal’s proud expression turned into a glare. “Don’t you think that’s a bit intrusive and selfish?”

“If it were somebody else doing it then maybe.” Avery shrugged. “But it’s me, so it’s okay.”

“Everybody, this is exactly what I have been talking about.” Opal turned to look at the audience. “This young woman is the perfect example of somebody who is in need of a good role model. She doesn’t realize that she is stealing positions from her classmates and is so blinded by a false sense of entitlement that she does not understand how selfish she is. If only Avery had an influence like Cara to replace her behavior with good deeds.”

Avery’s jaw dropped. “I am doing good deeds!”

“Faithful audience,” Opal continued, ignoring the brunette’s outburst, “I encourage you to press your buttons. An attitude like this does not deserve a point.”

“Who gave you the authority to-” Avery’s protesting was interrupted by a loud buzz. “Really?! Your opinions were swayed that ea – hey, get your hands off of me!” An intern had stepped onstage and grabbed Avery by the shoulders, escorting her off the stage despite how much the Jersey girl fought back.

Confession Cam

Avery: The olive-skinned brunette sneered as she did her best impression of Opal Winfrey. “’You’re such a bad influence. Maybe you should spend your day rolling in granola like Cara.’” She rolled her eyes. “It’ll be a cold day in Hell when that happens.”

Back on the stage, Opal dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief as Robert shared the story of his injury. Many of the fans had broken into tears, and a box of tissues was being passed around the audience, though the absentminded footballer remained calm as he relayed his tale.

“I can barely remember it happening. One minute I’m being called out onto the field, and the next I’m waking up and a doctor is telling me I’ve been unconscious for five days.” Robert explained. “Somebody caught a video of the football hitting me in the head on their phone, but I can’t remember it happening even after watching it. I just remember opening my eyes and having my parents and my brothers and sisters and my girlfriend all waiting for me in that hospital room. It was a miracle they were all there, like they somehow knew I’d wake up right that moment.”

Opal’s tears were now falling freely at the muscular teen’s words, but Robert continued his story. “They told me I had memory loss. I could remember most of my childhood, but every once in a while there’ll be a blank spot where I can’t remember anything. It’s my short-term memory that really got hurt. I was scouted for my dream university and was given a full scholarship, but my memory problems made my grades slip so low that I lost it. It really sucks knowing I’d missed out on my dream because of an accident, but I won’t give up hope.”

“You’re so brave, Robert.” Opal Winfrey sniffled, placing a comforting hand on his arm. “I haven’t heard a story like that from somebody so young in a long time.”

“Thank you, Miss … um …” The fifteen minute bell rang before Robert could recall the hostess’s name. “Oh, that means I get a point, right?”

“That’s right, Robbie!” The somber mood was broken when Helen D’Angelo danced onto the stage. “Move over, Opes, it’s my turn to show my stuff to the audience.” As an upbeat tune started to play, Opal gave the comedienne a disappointed shake of her head before walking offstage with Robert. Helen perched in the chair that Opal cleared out, pulling her own set of index cards from her pocket. “If these handy dandy cards can be trusted, then I have got a great show lined up for you guys! I’ll be meeting with a Boy Scout, a hotel heiress, a couch potato, a blabbermouth, and a boy genius!” The audience cheered, their moods instantly brightened by Helen’s presence. “Let’s get our Boy Scout out here! Come on over, Paul!”

Another lively track started playing as Paul headed onstage. The do-gooder walked rather seriously over to Helen, though with the hostess’s encouragement he did an awkward jig before plopping in his chair.

“That’s not at all what I thought my first impression for the audience would be like.” Paul commented.

“Be glad you got to dance with me. You could be stuck with preachy Opal or Tina Blanks, who I’d say is one fry short of a value meal if you know what I mean.” The audience laughed at the joke, and Helen gave them a wink before pointing to her notecard. “Says here you’re Paul Adams, you’ve got black hair, green eyes, and you practically bleed red, white, and blue. Fun facts include that your first word was ‘America’ and you have a strange birthmark on your lower back in the shape of-”

“I don’t think the audience wants to hear that!” Paul interjected. “How’s about we talk politics, or the outdoors, or something else that I know a lot about?”

“Whoa!” Helen pointed at a line on her card. “It says here that you’ve been a Boy Scout for eleven years? Is that even possible?!"

“I’m proud to say yes.” Paul gave her the Scouts’ three-fingered salute. “I’ll be finished up at the end of this year, though.”

“Wanna hear some Boy Scout jokes?” Helen asked. Though Paul shook his head no, the audience overpowered him with a harmonized yes. “Okay, so there’s a Scout hiking in the park and he gets chased by a grizzly bear. He runs and runs and finally makes it to safety at the ranger’s station, but when he gets there is arrested. Why? It’s illegal to run through the park with a bear behind.”

The audience erupted into laughter, but Paul grimaced. “That was kind of inappropriate.”

“Not one for some PG-rated humor, are you?” The short haired hostess thought for a second. “How’s about this one: two Scouts are out camping. They set up their tent and fall asleep, and they wake up a few hours later. The first guy says, ‘Look at the sky and tell me what you see.’ The other guy says, ‘Stars,’ so the first asks, ‘What does that tell you?’ The second guy goes off on this long rant about astrology and astronomy and meteorology, but the other guy just smacks him on the back of the head. ‘You moron,’ he says, ‘it means somebody’s stolen our tent!’”

The audience cracked up once again, but Paul just raised an eyebrow. “You have to realize how serious a situation like that can be. Depending on where you’re camping, the temperature at night can drop massively, and without a tent to protect you from the wind chill you could freeze. Plus, one time our tent was ripped apart by an animal while we were off fishing. We hunted all night for our belongings that were scattered across the forest.”

Helen sighed. “Okay, okay, this one’s bound to make you laugh: what’s brown and sticky?” Paul sneered at what he predicted to be a vulgar punchline. “… A stick!”

The audience waited in silence for the Boy Scout to react. To their surprise, Paul threw his head back in laughter.

Confession Cam

Paul: “Was the joke lame? Yeah, but it was the only one I thought was funny because it didn’t remind me of any traumatic camping adventures. When you’ve been scouting as long as I have, you’ve seen it all out in the woods.” He shuddered at a memory. "There are some things I wish I hadn't seen."

When Paul’s interview ended, Elena took the stage. She shot daggers at Helen with her dark eyes, though the comedienne remained oblivious as she read the hotel heiress’s basic information from her card. The short-haired hostess asked about being a member of the Harks family, but Elena’s snappish answers eventually convinced her to question what her deal was.

“It’s hard focusing on your questions when you’re so clearly checking me out.” The socialite sneered.

Helen D’Angelo let out an awkward laugh. “What are you talking about?”

Elena crossed her arms. “Don’t play dumb with me. I know which team you play for and it’s absolutely disgusting.”

The normally perky hostess’s expression turned to confusion. “What I do in my personal life has nothing to do with her our interview. I’m just-”

“How am I supposed to ignore something that’s right in front of me?!” Elena shouted. “Remember when you had Renata Rostropovich on your show and she splashed her water on you? Well, if I had a glass right now I’d throw it in your rug-munching face!”

Before the heiress could insult the comedienne any farther, the audience hit their buzzers. A pair of bulky interns seized Elena by the arms and carried her offstage, the socialite shouting a series of censored insults at the hostess.

“Thank goodness.” Helen let out a sigh of relief as she switched notecards. “Hopefully another interview will lighten the mood. Please welcome Isaac to the stage!”

Helen D’Angelo had predicted wrongly, as Isaac only dampened the already foul atmosphere. The square-jawed slacker had no interest in Helen’s questions and responded to them all with a half-hearted “Yup,” “Nope,” or “I don’t know.” Realizing after a minute that this wasn’t just a game, the audience buzzed Isaac off the stage, and he left with a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders.

Minerva was up next, and she and Helen D’Angelo were a match made in platonic heaven. When the up-tempo entrance music began to play, the redhead broke into an excited dance routine, which the hostess joined in on despite not knowing any of the steps. When the pair finally sat down, they found many things in common and chatted avidly. The only obstacle that they ran into was that both females shared the trait of never shutting up, so they spent the entirety of the fifteen minute interview trying to talk over each other. Even after the bell chimed, Minerva and Helen babbled on until Chris was forced to get on the loudspeaker and interrupt their conversation. When Minerva finally left, Zack pushed through the curtain and walked onstage with a shoebox under his arm.

“Oh, I’m so jealous if that’s your natural hair color.” The hostess commented, running a hand through her boy-short blonde hair.

“You have nothing to worry about unless you consider bleach natural.” Zack replied, a mischievous smirk on his freckled face.

“So you’re Zack Hill, amateur hacker and inventor?”

The short boy shook his head in denial. “I wouldn’t use the word ‘amateur.’ I’m actually pretty handy with my tools.” He patted the lid of his shoe box. “I’ve brought along one of my inventions to show you.”

With Helen’s permission, Zack placed the box on the ground and slid the lid off of it, removing what looked like an old video game remote from inside of it. He pressed a sequence of buttons and a blue light on the controller lit up, and a second later a green and black object launched itself from the shoe box. Helen shrieked as the contraption clamped onto an overhead light.

“What is that?!” The hostess screeched as Zack moved a joystick to direct his creation to hop onto the television monitor behind her.

“This is the Frogclaw 3.0, which I made from some scraps I found in my garage.” Zack pressed another button and the gizmo released itself from the screen, landing on the ground to allow Helen to get a closer look. The device seemed like it had at one point been a remote control car, though its wheels had been replaced with four long pieces of metal with hook-like appendages at the end. Protruding from the bottom of the gadget was a coiled spring with a flat piece attached to it, and a bold letter "Z" was painted on its side.

“So, what does it do?” Helen asked. “Other than scare the crap out of people, I mean.”

“Well, as you can see, I’m a bit on the vertically challenged side. With this in mind, I created the Frogclaw to retrieve objects from heights well beyond even a taller person’s reach. The first two prototypes had a few … um, dangerous flaws, but this one works perfectly. For example, let’s just say I wanted to pull that rope that’s dangling from the rafters.” Zack pointed at a location directly above them and then began to play with his controller, maneuvering his gizmo until it was in line with the rope. “With some adjustments I get it lined up with its target, and then … it leaps!”

The Frogclaw 3.0 sprung from the floor towards the ceiling, one of its hooked legs grabbing onto the rope that Zack was aiming for. The contraption dangled in the air, its grip tight on its target.

“If that was a kite in a tree or some shoes thrown over a power line, it’d be down by now.” Zack insisted. “That rope seems to be tied to something else, so it’s not budging.”

“Can you grab something else?” Helen asked with an excited smile.

“Sure!” Zack fiddled with his remote and then pointed at a spotlight hanging from the opposite end of the stage. “I’m targeting that light now.”

With a press of a button, the gadget leapt through the air and snagged onto its target. The audience cheered as Zack’s device hopped from location to location, the technophile basking in the applause until, in true Total Drama fashion, something went completely wrong.

The Frogclaw 3.0 grabbed onto a rope that, unbeknownst to Zack, was attached to the curtain hanging above the stage. He had aimed the gizmo there thinking that it’d be a stable location, though the second it latched on the rope was pulled downward and ripped away from the curtain. Zack and Helen D’Angelo screeched as the heavy fabric collapsed on top of them, exposing the backstage area behind it. Before the audience could press their buttons in disapproval, the point bell rang. One of the lumps beneath the curtain shuffled around until it found an opening, and a pair of freckled arms burst from underneath their fabric prison to shoot two thumbs up at the audience.

Confession Cam

Zack: “That … was … awesome!” The inventor exclaimed. “That was completely unplanned but resulted in the best possible outcome! Not only did I make an impression, but I earned a point while doing it!”

Chris McLean: The host sighed. “We’re not even done shooting the first episode and the set’s already falling apart. What happened to that increased budget we bragged about?”

When the stage was deemed presentable enough for the remaining interviews, Rachel Claire emerged with a cup of coffee in her hands. She glanced up at the quick repair job and shook her head in disappointment. The red drape had been stapled to the wall and hung crookedly above her, pieces of the destroyed Frogclaw 3.0 tangled in it.

“Seriously?” The curly-haired hostess groaned as she plopped into her chair. “I thought I was working on a well-funded reality show, not some elementary school talent contest.” She pulled a stack of index cards from between her breasts and gave them a quick once over. “Bring out my first contestant!”

Angel strolled onstage and hopped into the seat across from the reporter to start the clock. Rachel Claire gave him one look before shuffling through her cards again, pursing her lips in frustration when she couldn’t find the right one.

“Need some help?” Angel joked when the reporter looked down the front of her dress to see if she’d left a card in the makeshift pocket.

“Nope, I’ve got it.” Rachel Claire plucked one more notecard from her dress. “Angel Dominguez, right? Skipping the lame bio, list three things you hate.”

“Um, okay …” The Puerto Rican teen gave her a confused glance, but followed through anyway. “I can’t stand liars, my stepfather, and my stepsiblings.”

“Ooh, Daddy issues, huh?”

“I said stepfather.” Angel repeated. "I'm definitely not blood related to that man.”

“Let me guess, you’re bitter that your stepsiblings get more attention than you?” Rachel Claire suggested.

“Well, I used to be, but now I’ve found a hobby to keep myself busy.”

“And that’d be?”

Angel pulled his lighter from his pocket. “Burning things!”

Rachel Claire yelped. “Oh god, who let an arsonist on this show?!”

“It’s not arson!” The Latino protested. “It’s an art form. If you wouldn’t mind handing me one of your cards, I’ll show you-”

“No way! I’ve seen how easily this stage can fall apart! One little spark and we’re all up in flames!” Rachel Claire waved a frantic arm at the audience. “Press your buttons already, will you?!”

The audience was quick to obey, and Angel was buzzed off the stage before he could show off his “talent.” After Rachel Claire composed herself, Gabe was sent onstage, and the hostess and rich kid found a common interest in complaining about the show. They whined back and forth over Chris McLean’s selfishness, the overbearing fans, and the other obnoxious contestants, and though it was meant to be more of a venting session than a source of entertainment, the fans were amused by the pair’s witty remarks and let Gabe stay his whole fifteen minutes.

Next up was Eric, who rambled on and on about himself and his accomplishments, most of which were probably imaginary. Whenever Rachel Claire asked him a question, the braggart dodged an answer and instead responded with an anecdote about his “swag.” The audience had heard enough when he claimed that he had “impressed all three of the Kartrashian sisters with his rock collection and got them to go to prom with him” and buzzed the jock offstage.

Donna sat in the chair next and was completely disinterested with the interview. Rachel Claire was immediately thrown off by the small girl’s sharp tongue, as she easily threw any question that she didn’t want to answer right back at the hostess. The audience, on the other hand, was enjoying the verbal battle.

“It says here that you didn’t even want to be on the show?”

“Not at all. My parents sent in the application.” Donna explained. “I thought I’d intercepted my audition before it reached the producers, but apparently they made copies. Now that I’m here, I figure I’ll just play along.”

“Sounds like you’ve got some issues with your family, but they must have an even bigger problem with you if they named you Belladonna.” The reporter retorted. “Do they want you to grow up to be a stripper or something?”

“Actually, the name’s much more common with porn stars.” Donna rolled her eyes. “My parents are a pair of hippies who wanted to name me after a pretty sounding plant. They might as well have named me Poison Ivy.”

Rachel Claire glared when the audience chuckled at the brunette’s retort. “Your most embarrassing moment?”

“Sitting for an interview on a falling apart stage with some D-list has-been.”

“Any deep dark secrets?”

“I was born a male.”

“Worst lie you’ve ever told?”

“That I was born a male.”

The hostess was desperate to get her to crack, though dry-witted Donna amused the audience right up to the fifteen minute mark. Next on the stage was Camille, whose cluelessness upon her arrival had definitely not been an act. When Rachel Claire asked her a question, she pondered over every word before giving an answer that was so lacking in substance that it might as well have come from a seven-year-old. The reporter was quickly annoyed by the aristocrat’s vague responses, though the audience found her too adorable to kick off the stage.

Confession Cam

Camille: “I think I did well in the challenge today! I made it through my interview, and the audience seemed to like me! Miss Rachel didn’t seem too happy, though … or is it Miss Claire?”

Rachel Claire: The hostess had to resist the urge to bang her head against the wall. “They don’t pay me enough to deal with these losers.”

“It’s been a long day, everybody.” Rachel Claire said to the audience. “A long, long day … but you’ve made it to the last contestant. So just give one last round of applause to Sebastian!”

The biracial contestant stepped onto the stage and casually sat in the chair, the clever grin on his face suggesting that he was ready to get the interview over with.

“You’re my last guest, so could you just make it quick?” The blonde hostess requested, picking up an index card. “Here’s a little break down for the fans: you’re Sebastian Luse and you’re from Reno. You like girls, card games, and winning, and you claim that you never lose.” She placed her card back into the pile and gave Sebastian an accusing look. “Sounds to me like you’re a cheater.”

“Ha. Like I need to cheat.” The dark-haired teen rolled his gray eyes.

“Then how do you win so often?”

“I have luck and strategy on my side.” Sebastian pulled a deck of cards from seemingly out of nowhere and fanned them out. “Allow me to show you. As cheesy as it sounds, pick a card, any card.” The hostess was unamused but played along just to get the interview over with. When she pulled a card from the deck, Sebastian did a dramatic card trick in the air to shuffle the deck again. “Now, pick another card.” Rachel did so. “Now show your cards to the camera, but don’t let me see them.”

The reporter held up an ace of spades and an eight of diamonds for the camera. “I don’t really see what good this does.”

“It wastes some time.” Sebastian responded, holding the deck out to her. “Now, slide your cards back into the deck one at a time.” When the hostess did as she was instructed, the charmer shuffled the deck once again, throwing a few tricks in to keep the audience interested. When he was satisfied, he drew the top two cards from the deck and displayed them to Rachel Claire. “Are these your cards?”

The hostess stared at the ace of spades and the eight of diamonds. “What the – do that again!”

Sebastian did as requested and started the trick over, the curly-haired reporter analyzing each of his movements. This time, he showboated even more while he shuffled the cards, which served both to confuse Rachel Claire and to waste more time. The hostess watched the deck intently as he shuffled it with one hand, failing to notice when Sebastian snatched her stack of notecards from the table. He tucked the index cards in his pocket before drawing a pair of playing cards from the deck.

“Are these your cards?”

Rachel Claire snapped her fingers. “Damn it! How did you do it?!”

“Luck and strategy.” Sebastian repeated his earlier mantra as the bell rang.

“Ugh, finally.” Rachel Claire grabbed her coffee and trudged offstage. “I don’t think I could take any more of these freaks.”

Sebastian gave a wink to the audience before the red curtain dropped, putting his hand in his pocket to make sure that the stolen notecards were still there.

Confession Cam

Sebastian: “These cards are a goldmine of information on not only my teammates, but also my competition.” He flipped through the stack, skimming each of them. “It turns out the hostesses had information on not only the guests that they were interviewing, but all twenty-two contestants. To get far in this game, I’m going to need to establish a few connections with my teammates. These cards will make it easy to find weak links and potential alliance members so that when the competition gets serious, I’ll already be set up to win.”

Twenty minutes later, the audience had exited the building and the equipment from the stage was put away. Tina Blanks, Helen D’Angelo, and Opal Winfrey each had a limousine pick them up, while Rachel Claire had headed in the direction of The Hotel. The twenty-two contestants had gathered in a circle to wait for the challenge results, using boxes, makeup chairs, and other props as seats. Zack was struggling to repair his Frogclaw with a roll of duct tape he’d snagged during the curtain repair. Josh had finally regained consciousness and was conversing with Paul, who was trying to distract him from the constantly observing cameras. Eventually, Chris stepped into the center of their circle.

“Congrats on making it through your first challenge! Well, some of you made it. Now that the crazies are gone, we can tally up the points.” The host pulled a scrap of paper from his pocket. “First off, The Oscars. Allison, Irina, Cara, Robert, Paul, and Camille all survived their interviews and earned your team a total of six out of eleven possible points.”

“Woo-hoo! That’s over half!” Cara reached out to give Irina a high five.

“As for The Emmys,” Chris continued, “you scored points from Victor, Wes, Risty, Ophelia, Minerva, Zack, Gabe, Donna, and Sebastian, which adds up to … nine points! You’re the clear winners!” The Emmys broke into cheers (except for Elena, who looked as displeased as always.) “You can head back to The Hotel, where Grand Master Chef will be waiting with your rooming assignments.”

The eleven winning contestants headed out the back door, leaving the losers behind. Chris gave them a menacing smirk. “Guess who I’ll be seeing at the elimination ceremony!”

The Oscars collectively groaned.

By the time The Oscars filed into the elimination amphitheater, the sun had set and the stars were out. When they had viewed the area on the tour of the studios, none of them had imagined that they would be seated on those very bleachers that night. Chris stood behind a podium in a spotlight on the stage in front of them, a white sheet draped over the front of it. He adjusted the microphone and looked down at the eleven contestants with a solemn expression.

“Welcome, Oscars, to the first Team’s Choice Awards.” He said. “I’m sure you’re eager to find out which one of you will be leaving the competition tonight … or better yet, how they’ll leave.” The host broke his serious façade with an eyebrow waggle. “We’ve already used some of our more creative ideas in the past seasons, and unfortunately the marshmallows or the Jumbo Jet won’t be making cameo appearances. Instead, we have something completely new for you guys.”

Chris snapped his fingers and two interns rushed over to remove the white sheet, revealing twenty-two gold stars nailed to the front of the stage. Each star had a contestant’s name printed on it in either red for The Emmys or black for The Oscars.

“Your star will stay on this stage as long as you’re in the game. If you’re voted off … well…” Chris pulled a sledgehammer out from under the podium. “Your star is shattered into a million tiny pieces and you have to walk down the Red Carpet of Shame.

"Waiting at the end of the carpet will be a surprise that will change with the episode. This week’s surprise: a limo shared with Tina Blanks!” On cue, a limousine with an advertisement for America’s Future Beauty Queen printed on its side pulled up at the curb. “Just to warn you, she’s a bit angry because the interviews ran longer than planned. She had an emergency hair appointment scheduled to fix her extensions, but since we took so long she won’t be able to get into her salon for another couple months. Oops.”

The contestants gasped as the door to the limo burst open and one of the model’s assistants bolted out of the car. He had scratches on his face, undoubtedly given to him by a set of perfectly manicured nails. From inside the limo, Tina Blanks let out an animalistic squeal. She slammed the door shut again, the sound loud enough to scare the birds out of the nearby trees.

“So, are you ready to learn who’ll be stuck with that monster?” Chris chuckled. “You’ve already cast your votes by video in the confessional. If you receive a silver star,” He held up a small metal star that easily fit into the palm of his hand, “you’re safe. I’ll start off by calling out the people who won your team’s six points: Allison, Camille, Cara, Irina, Paul, and Robert, you’re all sticking around.”

The host tossed a silver star to the six safe contestants. Five caught the symbols of safety, though Camille’s nailed her in the side of the head.

“Next, we’ll have Angel,” The pyromaniac caught his star with ease. “Eric,” The jock tried to simulate a touchdown with his star, though one of its points ended up getting stuck in the bleacher. “And Avery.” The drama queen caught her star and then turned up her nose, offended that she was called so late in the pecking order. “That just leaves Josh and Isaac.”

The pair of blond young men couldn’t be more opposite as they were faced with the risk of being sent home. Josh was wide-eyed and had his teeth clamped down on his lower lip, wringing his fingers in a nervous gesture. Isaac was slouched with his arms crossed, his expression as casual as it always was, clearly unbothered with the prospect of elimination.

“You had two of the worst interviews of the night.” Chris said. “You each received quite a few votes from your teammates …”

Confession Cam

Irina: “I really hate to force someone to go home first, but Isaac didn’t even try. At least Josh has his stage fright as an excuse. What can Isaac blame? His laziness?”

Angel: “No offense to Josh, but what are we going to do with a guy who’s camera shy on a reality show? We’re literally monitored twenty-four/seven, so working with him in any challenge will be a pain. He has to get my vote.”

“The last silver star of the night goes to …”


The slacker caught his symbol of safety with a crooked smirk, causing the frightened farmer to hang his head. Josh eventually got enough courage to get up to walk the Red Carpet of Shame.

“We were rooting for you, Josh!” Paul called after him.

“If she comes at you with her nails, make sure you cover your eyes!” Allison advised.

“There goes some of my eye candy …” Avery muttered.

When the Texan eventually reached the door of the limousine, the window rolled down just enough to reveal Tina Blanks’ catlike eyes. “What do you want?” Josh opened his mouth to respond, but an approaching cameraman caused him to snap his jaw closed. “Ooh, silent and beautiful? Come on in!”

The limo door opened, and Tina grabbed Josh by the straps of his overalls and yanked him inside. As the vehicle pulled away, the faint sound of the Southerner’s screams echoed through the air.

“Death by supermodel.” Isaac mockingly saluted the departing limousine. “An honorable way to go.”

“You said it, man.” Chris agreed, mimicking the troublemaker’s gesture before turning to the camera. “One down, twenty more eliminations to go before we have our winner. Trust me, guys, you haven’t seen anything yet. Will Josh ever be seen again? Will Rachel Claire hopefully give up on gossip mongering and leave the show alone? And what exciting challenge will the contestants face next? Find out next time on Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

Episode Two: The Bachelor Isn't Interested

Chapter Three: An Arrow Straight to My Heart

Updated: June 5, 2014

“Last time on Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment, the mob of fans was crazy, but the new contestants were even crazier!” The camera switched from a shot of Chris standing in front of the fountain in The Hotel’s lobby to a montage of clips from the previous episode. “Our premiere had it all, from strange flying machines to imaginary basketball games, guitars almost set aflame to butlers delivering designer luggage, a hyperactive redhead to one bodacious blonde!”

Chris whistled in appreciation as a shot panning up Irina’s body played on the screen. “The players were separated into two teams right before facing their first challenge: surviving fifteen minutes with a famous hostess without boring the audience. We saw the best and the worst from some of our competitors, as Avery received a verbal lashing from Opal Winfrey, Robert got the waterworks flowing with the tale of his injury, Zack destroyed the entire set, and Sebastian stole one hostess’s information on the other contestants with a devious plan in mind. In the end, The Oscars were sent to elimination, and camera shy country boy Josh was the first competitor sent packing.”

Chris pulled a rose out of his pocket and held it up to his nose, taking a whiff of its scent. “Will our contestants be able to earn their teammates’ love, or will we see a lot of broken hearts? Find out on this exciting episode of Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!” The host tossed the flower at the camera as the theme song began to play.

“Hey, man, can I move your alarm clock over a little?”

“Not a problem.” Paul glanced away from the shirts he was folding to where Eric stood in front of the nightstand. “What are you going to put there inst-” The Boy Scout flinched when the jock knocked his alarm clock to the floor, the device shattering and sending its pieces flying in all directions. Eric dumped an armful of stones into the vacated spot on the nightstand, carefully sorting them based on criteria that only he seemed to know. “Oh … more rocks?”

“Yeah, more rocks.” Eric whipped his head around to glare at his teammate. “You got a problem with that?”

“No, no, not at all!” Paul turned away from his roommate, though he really had nowhere else to look. Two-thirds of the room was already covered in other pieces of the rockhound’s extensive collection.

Confession Cam

Paul: “When we got back from the elimination, The Emmys had already eaten and gotten settled, but whoever had cooked was gracious enough to leave us some leftovers. Chef cut our dinner short to assign rooms, telling us that The Emmys were on the second floor with Chris, so we were stuck on the third floor with him.” The do-gooder gave the camera a grimace. “Chef’s in the suite at the end of the hall, so luckily I’m way on the other side with Eric in Room 308. I don’t know if all the rooms are this nice, but ours has two beds separated by a nightstand, the ugliest armchair I’ve ever seen, and a set of drawers with a broken television on top. I’d say it’s pretty good for Total Drama standards, but my real issue is my roommate. I mean, Eric seems nice, but …”

Paul glanced to both sides before lowering his voice to a whisper. “His rock collection is huge and he won’t keep any of them in his bag. He’s literally covered seventy five percent of the room with them. There’re rocks on the floor, rocks in the drawers, rocks on the nightstand, heck, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he’d snuck some into my bed. Now, maybe I could deal with that, but then …”

“So, um …” Paul fished for a topic of conversation, though everywhere he looked all he could see were stones. “You really like rocks, don’t you?”

“Yeah, son.” Eric crossed his arms triumphantly. “Started it when I was a kid and kept with it even when I got really good at everything else.”

“That’s cool, I guess.” Paul tried to hide his confusion at being called “son” and pulled a bag of toiletries from his suitcase. “I’m going to go put my toothbrush in the bathroom.”

“Whatever you want.” Eric focused back on arranging his rocks as Paul opened the bathroom door. His attention was immediately pulled back when his roommate screeched and slammed the door shut. “What the hell, man?!”

“There’s a girl changing in our bathroom!” Paul yelped.

“Oh, no way!” Eric enthusiastically leapt over the bed, opening the bathroom door with an excited grin. His face fell, however, when he saw a fully clothed and very annoyed Avery standing behind it. “Yo, what’re you doing in our bathroom?”

“I should be asking you the same question.” Avery opened the door behind her, revealing that the restroom was connected to a room that was nearly identical to Paul and Eric’s. “This is my bathroom, too.”

Confession Cam

Paul: “… And that’s how we figured out that every pair of rooms shares a bathroom.” The green-eyed teen leaned his chin on his hands as he continued his earlier interview. “Not only am I sharing my space with Eric and his rock collection, but with Avery and Allison, who haven’t gotten along since they stepped off the bus.” He furrowed his brow. “I’ve never lived with a girl other than my mom, so I really have no idea what to expect. Considering the fact that I’ve already walked in on Avery changing, I don’t think I’m off to a good start.”

“So then Paola was like, ‘No seas pendejo, Angel, and just tell me where my Chemistry final is!’ So I just pointed to the pile of ash again and she flipped!”

“And you didn’t get suspended or anything?”

“Nah, man, what goes on at home stays at home. The teacher can’t call me out for burning my stepsister’s term paper if he didn’t see it.”

Isaac gaped at Angel from across the gap between their beds. “Dude, I got in-school suspension just for leaving the building to get a burger for lunch.”

The pyromaniac shrugged nonchalantly. “They used to try that crap, but it got hard to believe the ‘my stepbrother burned it’ excuse every time those brats forgot their homework, so I’m usually off the hook.”

Isaac laughed. “I can’t believe it. You accidentally found a way to cheat the system.”

“Hey, don’t question it if it works.” Angel chuckled along with his new roommate.

When their laughter died down, a crooked smirk spread across Isaac’s face. “I think this is the start of an amazing friendship.”

“You’ve got that right.” Angel agreed.

The pair of Oscars leaned across the space separating their beds and bumped fists, wordlessly sealing their newfound bond.

“Since I know nobody wants to have to deal with any bathroom drama, I made this shower schedule for us.” Monique taped a piece of paper with a neat table on it to the bathroom mirror. “If you could all look at it and voice any complaints now, that’d be – hey! Don’t touch that!” The fashionista shot daggers at Zack’s reflection, and the inventor froze in the middle of unscrewing the shower head.

“Sorry, sorry!” He backed out of the bathroom with his hands behind his back as Elena entered from the other door to examine Monique’s schedule.

“This isn’t going to work.” The hotel heiress complained, her stink eye vastly overtaking the one that Monique had given Zack. “I need at least twenty minutes after I shower to do my hair.”

“We all have equal time.” Monique explained. “Every morning, we all get forty-five minutes in here to themselves to do their business.”

“But that’s not enough! I need twenty minutes for my hair.”

“And you have forty-five! I don’t know how crappy you are at math, but that’s twice the amount of time you need!”

“Yeah, but I take forty-five minute showers!” Elena ran a hand through her curls. “I know you don’t get this, but it takes time to look this beautiful. It's a long process to get my hair this luscious, and if I’m not given enough time to do every step then we’re going to have a problem.”

“Oh, we’ll have a problem –” Monique gritted her teeth to stop herself from completely snapping. She took a deep breath before speaking through a clenched jaw, “You know what? Fine. I’ll … I’ll work it out somehow.”

“You’d better ‘work it out’ or else you’ll be getting the boot at the next elimination.” The socialite remarked over her shoulder as she left the room. Monique ripped her schedule from the mirror and started to scribble all over it, severely ticked off by her new roommate’s actions.

“She can have some of my time.” Sebastian said from where he leaned against the doorframe. “I’m not going to need it all.”

Anything to let Miss Priss have her way.” Monique rolled her eyes and hastily rewrote the schedule. She stuck it back to the mirror and then turned to Sebastian, who was studying a notecard. “Thank you for that.”

“It was an easy fix.” He shrugged. “Judging by the look on your face, you might’ve murdered Elena if I hadn’t intervened.”

“I definitely wanted to.”

“So why did you let her get her way?”

“I don’t need to be making enemies just yet. I’m saving the murder for at least Day Two.” Monique grinned, looking down at the index card in the gambler’s hand. “What’s that?”

“A playing card.” Sebastian lied, tucking the stolen goods into his pocket. “Just trying out a new trick, that’s all.”

“Can I see?”

“No.” Sebastian stepped back into his room and shut the door on Monique. The designer rolled her eyes.

“Whatever, freak.”

All twenty-one contestants had survived any roommate skirmishes and were sleeping soundly when McLean Studios was illuminated by the early morning sun. Most of the teenagers were not the type to awaken at the crack of dawn, however, and were instead summoned several hours later when the scent of fresh bacon and eggs wafted through the air. Cara sat up straight in her bed at the smell of bacon, her dreams interrupted by images of fried animals. She reached over to wake Camille, but her roommate was missing from her bed.

“Camille?” Cara yawned, getting to her feet and scrunching her nose at the thick scent of pork in the air. She heard the faucet running in the bathroom and knocked on the door. “Are you in there?” When she didn’t receive a response, Cara rapped on the door again and it immediately swung open, putting her face-to-face with Isaac. “You’re not Camille …”

“Probably the exact opposite, actually.” The blond said, turning back towards the sink to continue brushing his teeth. Cara followed him into the bathroom, slipping an arm in between her teammate and the sink to shut the running water off. Isaac raised a confused eyebrow, and the brunette smiled back.

“Waste not, want not.” She advised, grabbing her hairbrush from beside the sink and heading back into her room.

Isaac let out an amused snort before turning the sink back on again, cupping his hands beneath the faucet and slurping some water into his mouth. He gargled loudly and then spit it into the sink before calling out, “For the record, I heard your roommate in the shower at like four in the morning.”

“Really?” Cara propped herself against the bathroom doorway, now out of her pajamas and into her daily wear. “Why would she do that?”

“Do I look like I care?”

“Where’s your roommate?”

“I think his bacon senses were tingling. He ran downstairs before I could even smell anything.” Isaac leaned an arm against the door out of his room. “Now that I mention it, I’d really like to get to the cafeteria before all the food’s gone.”

“You’re going down to breakfast like that?” Cara gestured towards the gray sweatpants that were slung loosely around Isaac’s hips, the slacker’s only visible article of clothing.

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t know there was a dress code for breakfast. Let me go find my tux.” Cara shook her head at the troublemaker’s deadpanned comment, though she had a smile on her face when she slipped into the hall. Isaac joined her in the hallway when she paused to lock her door, still wearing only his ratty sweatpants.

The slacker and tree hugger made their way downstairs and into the cafeteria, where most of the other contestants had already gathered. Robert passed by the pair with a plate in hand and greeted his teammates.

“See, he’s not following your dress code.” Isaac remarked, pointing to the brick house, who’d come to breakfast dressed in only his boxer shorts.

“Did I have to get dressed before I left my room?” Robert asked, looking at the other players scattered around the cafeteria. “A few other people were in their pajamas, so I thought-”

“Nah, you’re good, big guy.” Isaac clapped the footballer on the shoulder and then took a whiff of the food on his plate. “Is that real bacon and eggs?”

“Yeah, just like my mom makes.” The footballer nodded.

The slacker inspected the food. “Does the bacon taste like it’s actually made from pig, or did Chef fry up some squirrels or something?”

“Ugh, I think I’m going to be sick!” Cara gagged, holding a hand over her mouth.

Risty made it, so I think you’re safe.” Robert gestured towards the serving window, where Risty and Minerva were passing out bacon and eggs from a set of silver trays. Isaac rushed in their direction, bumping several people out of line in order to get to the food before them.

“You okay?” Robert asked, putting a comforting hand on Cara’s back.

The environmentalist smiled up at the athlete, though her face was still a bit green. “I’ll be fine.” When she saw the plate in Robert’s hand, she gently pushed it away. “Just please keep that bacon away from me.”

“Here, let’s get you over to the table.” Robert guided Cara over to the long table that their Oscar teammates occupied. He claimed a spot and then sat the brunette in the empty chair between Irina and himself.

“Vegetarian?” Irina guessed when seeing her teammate’s disgusted face.

Cara nodded. “How’d you know?”

“Just a good guess.” Though she had barely anything on her tray, the model took an apple off her plate and handed it to Cara. “Here.”

“They have fruit up there?” Cara accepted the apple, glancing over towards the kitchen.

“I don’t know. Camille gave it to me from her purse.” Irina tilted her chin towards the dark-haired ditz sitting across from her. She was rummaging through the aforementioned handbag, unaware that she’d become the topic of conversation.

Cara perked up at the sight of her roommate, whose presence she had only just noticed now that the bacon was off her mind. “Oh, hey there!”

“Good morning.” Camille greeted.

“I couldn’t find you this morning. Isaac said he heard you in the shower really early.” Camille only nodded in response. “Oh. Do you usually do that?” She nodded again, and Cara’s smile became a bit uncertain. “Oh … okay then.”

As Cara tried to strike up a conversation with the rest of her teammates, Sebastian entered the room, looking ready for business. Ignoring the breakfast line, he scanned The Emmys’ table to find that the person he was looking for was already seated.

Confession Cam

Sebastian: “Last night, I went through these cards and learned all about my new teammates.” He held up Rachel Claire’s index cards for the camera to see. “Unfortunately, I found that most of them are really stupid, useless, or both. Three of them are spoiled rich kids, two are too innocent for their own good, and one of them never shuts up. If I want to make it far in this game, I’m going to need at least one ally with a brain. So, with an easy process of elimination,” He dropped all but one notecard to the ground, “I’ve found the one person that I need to convince to trust me.” He flipped the single remaining card over to reveal the name written across it. “Belladonna Surmaine.”

“Is this seat taken?”

“Not yet.”

Donna didn’t look up from the thick book resting on her lap as Sebastian sat in the chair beside her. She tried to ignore him as he picked at a piece of toast that he’d snagged from somebody’s plate on the way over, though she caught him sneaking glances at her from the corner of her eye. After an awkward minute of this, she snapped her book shut.

“What do you want?”

“Why would you think that I want something from you?” Sebastian asked, casually leaning an elbow on the table. “Did you ever consider that maybe I just want to talk to my teammate?”

Donna narrowed her eyes at him. “Then start talking.”

“What are you reading?”

The Quintessential Guide to Getting Disqualified from a Reality Show.

“Come on, I’m serious.”

“I’m not reading anything at this moment,” She held up the hardback in her hands. “You wouldn’t stop bothering me, so I had to shut my book, remember?”

“Okay, then who are you rooming with?”


The gambler frowned in sympathy. “Tough luck getting the crazy one.”

The smart aleck shook her head in disagreement. “She’s scatterbrained but really sweet, and I’d much rather room with her than with that vain hotel heiress.”

”Good point. I share a bathroom with her and she’s already pitched a fit.” Sebastian expected Donna to continue the conversation as he bit into his toast, though he only received a dark blue glare. “What?”

“Now that we’ve ‘just talked,’ what do you want?”

“Okay, okay, you’ve got me.” Sebastian held up his hands. “I just heard something about you and wanted to know if it was true.”

“You must have heard that I'm a bitch, right? Well, get this …” Donna gestured for the dark-skinned teen to lean closer, lowering her voice to a whisper. “It’s not just a rumor. It’s totally true.”

“That might be true, but that’s not what I’m talking about.” The card player didn’t bite at her attempt to lure him away. “I’ve heard that you’re a bit of a genius.”

The brunette scowled, awkwardly breaking eye contact with her teammate to push her eggs around with a fork. “Who told you that?”

“I’m too honest of a man to reveal my sources.”

“Ha. I’m sure.” The smart aleck rolled her eyes. “You shouldn’t believe everything you hear. Rumors can tell some nasty lies.” After a moment, she added, “This rumor, however, may or may not be true.”

“If you haven’t noticed, our team isn’t exactly made up of Major City’s finest.”

Sebastian waved his hand in the direction of the other Emmys sitting farther down the table. Donna’s eyes followed the gesture just in time to see Victor accidentally fling a forkful of eggs into Monique’s hair. The designer snapped at the actor and swiped the food away, her hand smacking Gabe in the face in the process. The rich kid screamed something at her and then scrambled to look at his reflection in a spoon, knocking over his glass of juice with his elbow. Wes and Ophelia leapt from their chairs before the liquid could spill on them, the musician struggling to hold back a laugh at his teammates’ predicament but the artist cracking up immediately.

“Okay, I can agree with you on that.” Donna admitted.

“When surrounded with idiots, we sane people have to stick together, right?”

“Are you suggesting-?”

“An alliance?” Sebastian finished the sentence with a charming grin. “Yes.”

Donna didn’t answer for a minute, her lips pursed in contemplation. “No.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not going to trust somebody that I barely know, and I’m definitely not handing over my vote at elimination.” The pale girl opened her book again. “If I have to be stuck on this show, I’m not giving up the only thing I have a little control over.”

The gambler frowned. “But will you consider it?”

“I’ll consider it more than if, say, Gabe had asked me.”

“What if I-” Sebastian was interrupted by a scream echoing through the cafeteria. All eyes turned to the entrance to see Elena stomp in, her hair hanging in limp tendrils around her.

“WHO IS THE JERK WHO RUINED MY SHOWER?!” The socialite bellowed, marching over to The Emmys’ table to eye her teammates in suspicion. “I was shampooing my hair when all of a sudden the damn shower head fell apart and hit me in the face! I spent like twenty minutes trying to fix the thing until I realized that the screws were missing and that somebody’d taped it together! I blew so much time trying to fix the piece of crap that I couldn’t do my hair if I wanted breakfast!” She flared her nostrils at her team. “So, which one of you little turds did it?!”

Elena was so focused on giving the other Emmys a death glare that she didn’t notice when a cackling Zack slipped into the room. The spiky-haired geek stepped up to the serving counter with a tray, his laughter never stopping. Risty took one look at him and had to smile.

“What’re you so happy about?” She asked, scooping some food onto his plate.

Zack snickered again as he rummaged through his shorts pocket, pulling out something that was concealed in his fist. “I’ll trade you this for some extra bacon.”

The curly-haired athlete eyed the unknown object in his closed hand, her curiosity getting the best of her. “Okay, it’s a deal.”

She scraped a pile of bacon onto his tray, and he dropped the items into her hand. They were four screws, probably too small for one of the technophile’s inventions, though they were just about the right size to fit in …

“The shower head.” Risty laughed as Zack walked away. “I like your style, kid!” The inventor jokingly shot a finger gun and a wink at her from over his shoulder as he took a seat at the table.

After breakfast, the twenty-one contestants were instructed to get dressed and meet Chef Hatchet in the lobby. Sporting his trademarked furious scowl, the gruff man only grunted before heading for the exit. The players eventually realized that this was a signal to follow and trailed after the cook. Chef led the group deeper into McLean Studios until nearing one of the edges of its property, where a small mansion stood. The exterior of the building seemed to be based on a classic Gilded Age manor, though Chef Hatchet took little care when rapping the metal doorknocker against the expensive wooden door. After a moment, the door creaked open, and Chef propped himself against it to prevent it from swinging shut.

“Your challenge is in there.” He said as they filed into the building.

“You’re not coming?” Minerva asked.

“I ain’t gettin’ involved with this one.” The cook rolled his eyes and shoved Minerva into the mansion.

“All I did was ask a question!” Minerva exclaimed as the door was slammed behind her.

As the competitors moved as a group into what must have been a foyer, they noticed that the interior of the mansion matched its grand exterior. The floor was covered in dark marble tiles, and the room was lit mainly by a chandelier hanging from the sloped ceiling. The furniture was a deep red velvet, and perfect knock-offs of famous paintings covered the walls.

While some of the other players stared in awe, Gabe just snorted. “This is smaller than my summer home.”

“Ladies and dudes!” Chris McLean emerged from behind a door to the contestants’ left, wearing a suit despite the fact that he’d already shattered the image with his greeting. “Welcome to La Mansión Malvada.”

“The evil mansion?” Angel translated.

“Oh, that’s what it means?” Chris questioned, sitting on top of what was probably a priceless antique desk. “I thought it meant marvelous mansion. Guess that’s why I failed high school Spanish. Whatever, either way, this is the site of your second challenge!” He dramatically held his hands in the air, though he didn’t receive a reaction. “Um, you’re supposed to be shocked.”

“Chef already said that the challenge was in here.” Allison explained.

“Ugh, really?! Just because he thinks this is stupid doesn’t mean he has to ruin my fun.” The host pouted. “Let me guess, he already spoiled the theme for you?” When the contestants shook their heads in denial, Chris perked up again. “Oh, sweet! Now, I’m sure you’ve all seen a promo of a handsome man in a tux during the commercial break of your favorite shows. It doesn’t matter what lame dating show he’s promoting, because they’re all the same: one guy gets a bunch of hot girls who try to rock his world, and he chooses his favorite as the winner.

“Well, today’s challenge is dating show themed, except I’m going to be the bachelor, and you are going to impress me. The winning team unfortunately doesn’t get a date or a husband out of the deal … but they do win safety from elimination! Any questions?”

“Do we have the option to impress a girl instead?” Victor asked.

“Nope! You’re stuck with me, bra!” Chris gave the actor a wink, and Victor stuck out his tongue in disgust.

“Ooh, ooh! I have a question!” Minerva raised her hand as though she was in a classroom. Chris rolled his eyes and then pointed at her. “What does the winning team get?”

“Try listening next time because I already said that.” The narcissist looked around the room. “Anyone else?” Minerva’s hand went up again, but he ignored it. “No? Good. Follow me out back.”

“Whoa, I didn’t think this was that kind of romance show.” Isaac backed away from the host.

“It’s not. You’ll have to earn your chance to impress me.”

Chris opened a set of double doors and led the players out to a large covered porch. On the table in the center of the area were seven bows and two piles of arrows. The arrows all had pink heads, though one stack had red fletching while the others had yellow.

The host boosted himself up onto the back railing of the porch. “They say that love is blind.” Ophelia swooned in aspiration of a sappy love story. “However, we all know the truth: love is actually caused by Cupid. Cupid is this little bro in a diaper who flies around shooting arrows at people to make them fall in love. Today, you guys get to play Cupid.”

Chris pointed over his shoulder to the expanse of green grass that made up the mansion’s sprawling backyard. “If you squint a little you might see that there are seven heart-shaped targets set up … oh, about seventy feet away. Going seven at a time, you each have one shot to hit a target with your arrow. Everyone has to shoot, which means no cheating and giving the jock all the arrows. Obviously you’re going to want to aim for the heart in front of you, but if you want to get creative we’ve got the arrows color-coded for you: red feathers for The Emmys, yellow for The Oscars. Each hit is a chance for your team to try to impress me.”

Confession Cam

Eric: “Chris, man, you’re slipping. The second challenge in season one was the Awake-a-thon, which was brutal. This is cake, son!” The jock made another one of his “gangsta” hand gestures, though this one was a symbol straight out of sci-fi rather than the streets. “He did call out my idea of letting me shoot all the arrows, but impressing him will be easy. ‘Impress’ is my middle name!” He pounded on his chest in pride, but then paused. “Actually, my middle name’s Lamont, but close enough!”

In a few minutes, Minerva, Zack, Irina, Paul, Gabe, Avery, and Cara had lined up in front of the railing, while Chris had commandeered a motor scooter from an intern running errands and was trekking his way out to the targets. Paul easily snapped his arrow onto the bowstring, realizing when he saw the other six fiddling with their bows that he must be the only person in the line with archery experience. Beside him, Irina thought she had the arrow lined up, but when she shifted her hands it clattered to the ground.

“Need some help?” Paul tried to keep cool as he said it, though he could feel his heart speed up when the beautiful girl’s blue eyes locked onto his.

“Yes, please.” Irina handed the bow over to her teammate, though it almost slipped to the ground because his palms were now lightly dampened with sweat.

“The arrows have this little notch on the back that you can use to line it up on the bowstring, see?” The Boy Scout tried to keep a suave smile on his face, though he was so distracted by the model that he missed the string the first few times that he tried to line up the nock. When it finally clicked into place, he passed the bow back to Irina. “There you go!”

“Thank you very much.” Irina took what she thought was an archer’s stance, experimentally pulling the string back.

“Um, I think you’d have a better chance if you pulled it back a little farther.” Paul advised.

“How did you become Mr. Archery?” Irina asked. Paul thought she was mocking him at first, though when he saw her adjust her arm in response to his tip he recognized that she was genuinely curious.

“Archery’s kind of a big deal at Scout Camp.” The do-gooder said. “I’ve gone every summer that I can remember, so it’s become so natural to me that this is easy.”

“Then at least we know we have one chance at getting a bull’s eye.” The blonde replied, her body locked in the stance Paul had suggested.

“You don’t need a bull’s eye.” The black-haired teen pointed out. “You just need to get your arrow somewhere on the target.”

“Okay, everyone!” Chris’s voice crackled from a hidden loudspeaker. “You can let ‘em rip!”

“Only an absolute professional can turn archery into a fart joke.” Zack sniggered, the first to raise his bow and release his shot. Halfway to its target, the red-tailed arrow veered slightly to the left before burrowing itself into the ground.

Following Zack’s lead, the other five contestants raised their bows in unison, as Irina’s was already up. Looking down the line of arrowheads, only Paul’s and Irina’s seemed to be lined up properly. Minerva was even holding her bow backwards, though everybody’s reluctance to believe she was really that clueless kept them from mentioning it to her. They let their arrows fly, with Minerva’s predictably shooting through one of the windows behind her. Cara’s stopped short, and Avery’s went way too far, though the other three were still on route to their targets when they faded from view.

After a minute, Chris announced, “And two yellow arrows have hit the targets! The red one stopped a bit short.”

“This must be rigged.” Gabe scowled when Paul and Irina high-fived beside him. The seven shooters handed their bows over to Monique, Angel, Isaac, Wes, Victor, Eric, and Ophelia, who took their positions in front of the railing.

Eric looked at the pale-haired artist studying her bow beside him and let out a laugh. “I’d figure you’d be used to bow and arrow in whatever weird elfy world you came from.”

Ophelia looked up at the jock in confusion. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“You look like you have no idea what you’re doing.” The jock taunted. “Chris should’ve just given you a rubber band and a ball of paper to shoot to make more room for the big guns.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t see any ‘big guns’ around here.” Victor quipped from Eric’s other side, putting mocking air quotes around the jock’s phrase. “I consider her beauty to be exquisite, but you can think what you want, though I doubt she cares about someone who doesn’t even know how to work a belt.”

“Why I oughta-” Eric pulled up his saggy pants and then turned to aim his bow at Victor. The actor reflected the battle position as the braggart’s jeans drooped to expose his boxers again.

“Um, guys?” Wes peeked over Victor’s head. “Can I suggest you don’t kill each other on TV? The whole world’s watching, remember?”

Eric glowered at Victor for another minute before lowering his weapon. “Whatever, but I could take you any day, fruitcake.” He glanced up at Wes. “You too, scarecrow.”

Chris cleared his throat over the loudspeaker. “Any day now, guys.”

With a huff, Eric launched his arrow, the other six contestants following suit shortly after. Monique and Angel’s arrows were crooked in the air and flew way off course, while Victor’s hit the ground at about the halfway point. Having been thrown off by the argument, Eric’s arrow was shot nearly vertically and landed an embarrassing five feet in front of him.

“We’ve got three arrows on the targets!” Chris declared. “Two reds and a yellow. Who didn’t see theirs go down?”

Isaac and Wes both raised their hands, and eventually Ophelia squealed in delight.

“Oh my god, that’s me!” She put her hands over her heart in excitement. Eric swore under his breath and stomped back over to his waiting teammates, giving the artist a clear view of Victor. Ophelia gave him a grateful thumbs up, which he returned.

The remaining seven contestants, Risty, Camille, Robert, Elena, Sebastian, Donna, and Allison, received the bows and took their spots by the railing. As soon as Chris gave the signal, an arrow whizzed by him, just missing his ear by mere centimeters. When the rogue shot dug into the center of the target, the competitors looked down the line to find its shooter, only to stare in confusion that Camille’s bow was the only one that was empty.

“Holy crap.” Risty gaped. Oblivious to the attention she was receiving, Camille leaned her bow against the railing and picked her purse off the ground before rejoining her teammates.

Once the awe faded, Robert was the next to release, his arrow embedding itself in the upper right side of his target. Seeing the two Oscars’ success, Risty, Elena, Sebastian, and Allison all took their shots, and all but Elena’s managed to hit the target.

Chris’s jaw dropped. “What?!” He dismounted his scooter and crossed the line of fire, turning around to examine the targets just as Donna shot her arrow. “These things must’ve been moved closer or somethi- YOOOOOWWWCH!” The smart aleck’s projectile had made it the correct distance, though her aim was completely off, and instead of hitting her target she had shot Chris in the backside. Though all they could see in the distance was the host’s scrambling silhouette, the screech of pain told everyone exactly where the arrow had landed. Donna stood on the porch with her hands over her mouth and her eyes wide.

“Smooth move!” Allison cackled despite Donna’s mortification. The brunette soon realized that none of the other contestants at the railing seemed affected by what was bound to be an arrowhead-shaped dent in their host’s behind. Robert was trying to get a spider hanging from a nearby web to crawl onto his finger, Elena was fiddling with her hair, and Risty looked almost satisfied by the scene. Sebastian gave Donna a cocky grin and raised an eyebrow.

“You seem like you were distracted.” He commented, not even flinching when Chris yowled at the arrow’s removal. “Maybe you were thinking about the offer I’d made you earlier?”

Donna snapped out of her daze now that the arrow had been removed, her worried face converting back to her usual unenthused frown. “Not a chance.”

“Well, you should’ve been.” Sebastian strolled back over to rejoin the other Emmys, unaware that Elena had been listening to the exchange with a curious expression.

Confession Cam

Elena: “I watch shows like this all the time, so I know an alliance when I see one.” The dark-haired girl crossed her arms. “If Sebastian is looking for alliance members, I want in! If I have to be working with somebody on my team, it has to be him. He seems smart, charming, and like he has a plan … not to mention he’s easy on the eyes.”

Allison: The scarlet-haired teen was clutching her sides in laughter. “I can’t believe she hit him in the ass!” She tried to catch her breath, though she ended up breaking into another giggle fit. “Oh, I love this show.”

Chris had ridden his motor scooter back across the lawn, one hand holding the arrows that had hit their targets while the other clutched his rear. “The Oscars have earned six tries, The Emmys have earned four, and I’m sure that butt shot earned me a headline in the magazines, so I need to talk to my PR manager and get an ice pack. In the meantime, you guys have to figure out how to impress me.”

He turned to the camera, wincing as his injury shifted on the seat. “Will anybody be able to impress a man who already has everything? Will I be able to hunt down who shot that arrow and give their team a disadvantage? Most importantly: will my butt ever be the same? Find out when we come back on Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

Chapter Four: Impress for Success

Updated: June 5, 2014

“Okay, team, we have six tries to impress Chris-”

“Unlike the last challenge, which we totally bombed.”

“Shut up, Allison!” Avery snarled at her teammate. “As I was saying, we have six tries to impress Chris, so I’d say we’re in pretty good shape.”

The Oscars had gathered in one of the upstairs rooms of La Mansión Malvada, which seemed to be a personal library judging by the bookcases surrounding them. Nine of the teammates sat on furniture around the room, while Avery paced back and forth in the center.

“First thing’s first,” Avery stopped and put her hands behind her back, “who thinks they’re talented?” All but Isaac’s and Robert’s hands went up, Isaac because he’d fallen asleep on the couch and Robert because he was focused on reading a book that he’d taken off a shelf.

“Hey, raise your hand.” Angel nudged Robert in the side, though he didn’t respond until the pyromaniac took the book from him.

“Oh, thanks.” Robert’s hand joined his teammates’ in the air. Angel gave him a look of concern, as the book the jock had been so enthralled with was actually a prop that was filled with lorem ipsum text.

Avery nodded in approval at Robert and then glared at Isaac. “Somebody wake him up.” The eight other Oscars immediately scooted as far from the sleeping blond as possible, nobody wanting to be the one to do the job. Avery huffed. “Fine. I’ll do it.”

The team’s self-appointed leader marched up to the slumbering nuisance, her heels clicking on the tiled floor with every step. She approached where his head was resting on the arm of the couch, leaning down until her face was just inches from his. The rest of the team observed in curious silence as she took a deep breath.


It wasn’t obvious if Isaac had woken up or not until he stretched his arms, propping them behind his head. “Five more minutes, okay?”

“No, not five more minutes!” Avery stomped her foot. “We are a team and we’re not going to let you sit back and do nothing!”

Isaac opened his eyes halfway and smirked at the sight of the fuming girl leaning over him. “I wasn’t ‘doing nothing.’ I was hard at work having a dream about you and me.”

The brunette clenched her jaw. “Get. Up.

“Who made you queen?”

She slapped him across the face, and he instantly sat up. She crossed her arms triumphantly with a satisfied smile. “I did.” Isaac sneered as The Queen resumed her position in front of her team. “So, all but one of us thinks they’re talented, which was to be expected since the untalented loser should’ve been voted off at the last elimination-”

“You say I ‘should’ve,’ but I wasn’t.” Isaac interrupted. “I’m still here, so deal with it.”

The Jersey girl ignored the slacker. “How many of you believe that your talent can actually impress Chris?” Camille’s and Robert’s hands went down. Avery counted the hands still in the air. “That’s seven counting me. Angel, what do you do?”

“Burn things,” was the Puerto Rican’s curt reply.

The Queen raised an eyebrow. “No, I meant for your talent.”

“Burn things.” Angel repeated.

Avery sighed and moved on to the next contestant. “What do you do, Eric?”

“The better question is what don’t I do. I’m a jack of all trades.” The athlete got up from the floor to stand next to Avery in the center of the room. “I will crush anybody at any sport, unless it’s something lame like gymnastics, ‘cause I’m not wearing some stupid leotard. I am the king of swag and can take down any man in my neighborhood. All the girls want me, and all the guys want to be me. I have the world’s best rock collection. I-”

“Okay, we get it, sit down.” Avery pushed Eric out of her space and onto the couch. She skimmed her eyes to the next contestant, Irina, though she skipped right over her and pointed at Cara. “Granola Girl, what’s your talent?”

“Well, I-”

“Hey, wait a minute!” Irina interjected. “Why did you skip me?”

“Your talent’s going to be looking sexy.” Isaac explained for Avery. “We already know that … though if you have some other not safe for work talents, you can meet me in Room 304 tonight and show them off.”

Irina’s jaw dropped in offense. “First of all, I am way out of your league, and second, you shouldn’t underestimate me just because I’m attractive. I’m intelligent and very literate, so I could write Chris a poem!”

“Is English even your first language?” Eric asked.

The model was quiet for a moment. “Well, no, but that’s not the point.”

“Let’s just get back to the real matter at hand, please.” Avery spoke over her teammates’ chatter. “Now, Cara, what do you do?”

Confession Cam

Irina: “As usual, I’m treated like some stupid piece of eye candy.” The words rolled roughly from the blonde’s mouth, her accent thickening with her annoyance. “Beauty and personality aren’t an either/or situation. I work in an industry based off of appearance, but that’s just my job. I knew I could make money for it, so I would be a fool to turn it down. Not every attractive blonde is as dumb as Lindsay, and I just want to be taken seriously for once!”

On the other side of the mansion, The Emmys were having a much easier time deciding who would use their four chances to impress Chris. Monique, Donna, Minerva, Risty, and Sebastian decided that their individual talents weren’t anything that the host would be interested in, taking their names out of the race. From that point, they established that Chris was only interested in three things: money, fame, and himself … but mostly himself.

“Well, I’m out.” Zack announced. “My talents all revolve around electronics, so he won’t care unless I build a robot replica of him.”

“You know, that’s actually a pretty good idea.” Wes laughed. “I’m sure he’d love a chance to finally be able to make out with himself.”

“Ew, I really didn’t need that mental picture.” Monique whined, sticking out her tongue as Zack burst into cackles.

“Wes, you’re totally right!” Zack struggled to contain his laughter. “If it were possible with the time constraints, I’d definitely try it, but I’m going to back out on this one.”

“I’m not interested anymore either.” Elena agreed. “I don’t cater to others.”

“Well, that just leaves Ophelia, Wes, Gabe, and Victor.” Risty said. “Do all four of you think you’re up to the challenge?”

“I’ll paint him a beautiful portrait!” Ophelia sung.

“It’s nowhere near as cool as a robot, but maybe I could write him a song?” Wes proposed. “He seemed into music in World Tour.”

“What about you two?” Monique questioned Gabe and Victor. “You seem like you’d rather one-up him than amaze him.”

“I’ll just give him money.” Gabe shrugged. “I have plenty to spare.”

“And I have no idea what to do.” Victor confessed. “I just ended up being one of the only four people not to back out.”

“You’re an actor, so I’m sure you have tons of skills.” Ophelia said.

“I doubt he wants to hear a monologue.”

“Yes, but he’d probably like to hear a poem.” Donna suggested. “You can finally put your mental index of cheesy Shakespeare quotes to good use.”

Victor scowled. “Contrary to the theater actor stereotype, I don’t do romantic stuff for guys.”

Donna rolled her eyes. “So pretend he’s a girl. If it helps, Chris is a unisex nickname.”

Though he was still reluctant, Victor eventually sighed in defeat. “Fine. Somebody find me a piece of paper.”

Confession Cam

Victor: “I’m not exactly the best with poetry, but I guess I’ll find a way to make it work. I don’t want them to think I’m giving up or something. The thing is, I’m an actor, not an author. I belong on the stage, not behind the curtain.”

“Let’s see … where on this film lot is an area that a) has enough sun for plants to grow and b) isn’t destroyed and paved over to benefit big industries?”

“Maybe we’ll stumble upon a secret garden!”

Cara furrowed her brow at Camille. “I really doubt it.”

In an attempt to appeal to the host’s vanity, Cara had decided to give him a bouquet of flowers that represented his sparkling personality. The problem was that she was confined to the artificial sets of McLean Studios, which was within the mostly industrialized Major City, so she had no idea where to find plants that were not made of plastic. Though a few decorative trees were planted between the sets, Cara couldn’t exactly lug a whole birch back to the mansion and expect Chris to love it. Unwilling to give up just yet, Cara had set off on a trek to find some flowers, with Camille agreeing to accompany her on the impossible journey.

“I can’t believe this!” Cara exclaimed as they walked the perimeter of a castle set. “This is exactly why we need to be more environmentally conscious. If we don’t pay attention, more and more areas will turn out like this!”

“It’s not that bad.” Camille patted a hand against the stone wall of the castle. “This set’s kind of pretty.”

“I’d bet it looked a lot prettier before all of this was built on top of it.”

“Well, I’m sure at least some of it was worth it!” The ditz tried to cheer her roommate up as they moved on to search around the edges of a rather nondescript building. “The diner we saw back there was really cute … a bit dirty for my taste, but still cute! And there’s that coliseum we saw on the first day. I thought that was magnificent!”

“But the rest of the studio is just a concrete wasteland.” Cara groaned as they approached a small wooden shed. As she took a lap around it, Camille pressed her face against the small window beside the front door. Cara was looking behind the shed when she heard her roommate shriek and rushed back to her. “What’s wrong?!”

Camille had backed away from the shed and held her purse close to her chest, her body shivering in fear. “The shack is filled with guns!”

“What?!” Cara cupped her hands around her eyes and peered in through the dusty glass. Many of the items in the shed were covered with a white sheet, though several opened cardboard boxes on the floor were filled with packs of paintballs. A gun rack leaned against the back wall of the shed, with sixteen large paintball guns stored on it. “Ugh, this place just keeps getting worse!”

“Is Chris trying to kill us?” Camille whimpered.

“No, I don’t think so.” Cara stepped away from the window, brushing the dust from her face. “They’re just paintball guns, which are still atrociously violent but probably can’t kill you.”

“Are you sure?” The black-haired girl gripped the handle of her purse tightly. “What if it was Chef shooting them?”

“Don’t give him any ideas!” The nature lover gave the camera a cautious glance before gently grabbing her teammate by the wrist. “Before you screamed, I saw something that I think will cheer you up. Come on.”

Camille allowed herself to be pulled behind the shed, where Cara held out her arms proudly at the sight in front of them. Though from a distance it look like there were several wooden backdrops that were painted to look like a forest had been set up to block the back of the film lot, from close up it was clear that the beautiful woods was actually real. Deep green trees of all sizes covered a large portion of land, the cement-covered ground immediately transitioning to the dirt and winding roots of a forest floor.

“It’s a real forest!” Cara pointed out the obvious, excitedly running towards the trees. Camille followed at a much less enthusiastic pace, her hesitant expression contrasting the bright grin on the environmentalist’s face. “We’re going in!”

“Um, I’m sorry, but this dress is dry clean only.” The ditz shook her head. “I’m not getting dirty if I don’t have to. You can go in, but I’m going back with the rest of the team.”

Cara was disappointed at the answer, though her mood improved quickly now that she was near living flora. “Suit yourself, but you can come find me if you change your mind.”

“Be careful!” Camille called after her roommate, though the tree hugger had already disappeared behind the trees.

“Oh, make its teeth shine so bright that they work as lasers.”

Zack nodded at Wes, scribbling something onto the paper in front of him. “You know, this went from an awful joke to an all-out project.”

Wes’s expression turned apologetic. “Oh, sorry, I just thought-”

“I didn’t mean it as a bad thing. I really like where this is going.”

The technophile and the guitarist snickered as they added more ridiculous features to their sketch of the robot version of their host, which they had nicknamed the Chris Bot. Their unorthodox way of killing time had annoyed many of their teammates, and the less tolerant Emmys had relocated to the other side of the room. Risty and Minerva were entertained enough to stay by Zack and Wes and occasionally made their own contributions from where they sat on the couch. Ophelia had tried to adjust their design flaws, though she took the joke too seriously and was disappointed when they refused to streamline the robot’s silhouette. She eventually went outside to paint her masterpiece for Chris, Donna accompanying her with a book under her arm.

Risty leaned over Zack’s shoulder to look at his rudimentary blueprints. “I think it’s missing something.”

“Like what?” The technophile glanced at the athlete, and she snatched the paper from under his nose. “Hey!

“Hmmm, let’s see.” Risty scanned the paper with a smirk. “What do we have here, Minerva?” When Zack reached up to take his diagram back, the curly-haired girl slid out of his reach onto the cushion beside Minerva.

“Oh, wow, this actually looks a lot better than I thought it would.” Minerva took the paper from Risty, who was using both hands to hold Zack off. “Oh, I know what it’s missing!”

“Well, why don’t you draw it on?” Risty plucked the pen from Zack’s pocket and tossed it to the redhead.

“Hey, give that back!” Zack tried to defend himself, though his act was broken by a fit of laughter as Risty held him back with only her foot. “Wes, could you give me some backup here?”

“I’m not getting in on that.” Wes replied with a chuckle.

“Zack, you just didn’t emphasize the hair enough.” Minerva started drawing luscious locks onto the sketch, failing to notice that Risty and Zack had suddenly stopped squabbling. “Like, I know it’s a robot and everything, but if you want the Chris Bot to be realistic he’s got to have the signature McLean Mane-”

Minerva’s babbling was interrupted by somebody loudly clearing their throat. The loudmouth looked up to find Elena standing in front of her with her arms crossed.

“Instead of acting like four year olds that need special education, why don’t you guys try to do something useful?” Elena sneered at the foursome.

“Why don’t you mind your own business and go buy yourself a better attitude, princess?” Risty snapped back.

“Risty, don’t!” Minerva cautioned the athlete, her hand still rapidly scribbling hair onto the Chris Bot.

‘Risty, doooooon’t!’” Elena mocked in a whiny, high-pitched voice. When she saw that the poor impression had frightened Minerva, she turned towards Risty. “As for my flat-chested and frizzy-haired teammate, at least I could change my attitude if I wanted to. I doubt you have enough money to afford to buy yourself a replacement for that ratchet face of yours.”

“Do you want your extensions ripped out?” Risty glared at the socialite. “Because I’d be happy to-”

“Guys, why don’t we all just chill out?” Wes got up from the floor and got in between Elena and Risty. “Elena, if you’d just given us a chance to explain before you had a fit, we could’ve said that we were being productive.”

Really?” Elena put a hand on her hip, her cold scowl directed towards Minerva instead of the musician. “How?”

“We wrote the lyrics to my song for Chris on the back of the pa-” Wes’s sentence was cut off by a loud ripping noise. The lanky teen’s eye twitched a bit. “Please tell me that wasn’t the Chris Bot paper.”

“Oops.” Minerva guiltily held what remained of the plans out to the guitarist. She had continued sketching hair onto the Chris Bot, but Elena had drawn her attention away, and she had somehow ended up scribbling heavily across both sides of the page. To make matters worse, Minerva had also managed to tear the paper right down the middle.

“You were saying?” Elena raised an eyebrow in Wes’s direction, though he had no response.

“Here, why don’t we make ourselves useful and head back to The Hotel?” Zack suggested. “We can get Wes’s guitar and then rewrite the song in peace and quiet.”

“That sounds great.” Risty said as she, Zack, and Wes all rushed for the door.

“Guys, wait for me!” Minerva called after them.

“Um, I think maybe it’d be better if you stayed here.” Zack’s eyes not-so-subtly glanced at the destroyed first draft of the song before he shut the door behind him.

“Well, that was a nice show.” Monique stood up from where she was sitting on the opposite side of the room. “Now that the drama is over: does anybody know where I can find a bathroom around here?”

“Oh, I think I saw one on our tour on the first day!” Minerva leapt to her feet. “I’ll take you there!”

Monique walked over to the door and held it open. “Lead the way then.”

With one more nervous look at Elena, Minerva scurried out of the room. Monique rolled her eyes before following her out the door.

On the other end of the mansion, many of The Oscars had also found a way to escape the room that their team was holed up in. Eric, Avery, and Paul had returned to The Hotel to gather supplies for their talents. Isaac had tagged along with the trio because he knew that he would fall asleep again if left in the library, and he more than anyone dreaded reliving The Slap any time soon.

With Cara and Camille still out on their flower run, only Allison, Robert, Angel, and Irina remained. Allison sat on the floor with a pair of scissors and a pile of needles, thread, and felt, and Robert looked on in wonder as she stitched something together. Angel stood on the back of a couch in order to reach the top of the curtain that was draped over the room’s only window, Irina watching in confusion.

“What exactly are you doing?” The blonde finally asked when Angel nearly lost his balance for the umpteenth time.

“Trying to take down these drapes.” Angel explained, pulling at the curtain rod.


“Avery gave me the last spot, and I just thought of the perfect idea to impress Chris.”

Irina’s eyes went wide. “Please don’t tell me you’re using that curtain to make a bonfire.”

“You all said nothing fire-related, remember? It’s something completely different.” The pyromaniac tugged on the curtain again, though the fabric didn’t budge. “Of course, I won’t have an act at all if I can’t get this damn thing down!”

Allison sighed from her position on the floor. “Yo, genius, heads up.” Angel turned around, and she tossed her scissors at him. Irina and Robert gasped in unison as they flew through the air, but he thankfully caught them without an accident.

“I should’ve thought of this before.” Angel tossed the scissors into the air and caught them in his other hand, making Robert scramble with nerves. The pyromaniac then snipped a long line across the top of the curtain, the fabric collapsing into a pile on the ground. Angel hopped down from the couch and handed the scissors back to Allison. “Thanks for that.”

“Not a problem.” Allison replied, resuming her craft.

“You know, you could poke an eye out throwing scissors.” Robert warned.

The punk stifled a laugh. “I’ve done worse.”

Irina sat up straighter on the couch, her attention grabbed. “They didn’t cast another juvenile delinquent, did they?”

“Not exactly.” Allison grinned. “I’m just a bit reckless.”

“What do you-”

Irina was interrupted by the door slamming open and Isaac literally falling into the room, clutching his sides in laughter. Angel, Robert, and Irina watched him in confusion, though Allison ignored him and went back to sewing. Avery and Eric entered the room and stepped over Isaac, their faces suggesting that he’d been cackling like this for a while. Avery sat on the couch beside Irina and started going through a makeup bag, while Eric plopped down onto the floor beside Allison. After a minute, Paul appeared in the doorway and sighed when he saw Isaac on the floor.

“It’s not that funny.”

“Yeah, it is!” Isaac struggled to reply through his laughter.

“It’s really not!”

“It is!”

“What’s going on?” Robert asked Eric.

“Isaac thinks Paul’s talent is ridiculous.” Eric answered. “Which it is, but you don’t see me making myself look like an idiot on TV like he is.”

“Considering the show we’re on, you’ll look like an idiot soon enough.” Allison remarked.

“Nah, girl, I can take anything!” The jock boasted.

The daredevil gave him a challenging smirk. “You’re on, then.”

“What kind of talent does Paul have that’s that funny?” Angel questioned.

“Knitting!” Isaac exclaimed, crawling up onto the couch beside his roommate. “Grandma Paul’s going to knit us all some sweaters!”

“First of all, it’s not knitting, it’s crocheting.” The Boy Scout corrected. “And it’s not just for elderly women! I learned it at camp.”

“Oh, I didn’t know there was a senior citizens’ camp, my bad.” The dirty blond teen snickered, turning to look at Angel. “This kid is just gold, Angel.”

Paul just took a seat in a plush chair and pulled out a ball of yarn. “You won’t be laughing like that when Chris sees what I’m making him.”

Isaac snorted. “You’re right, because I’ll be laughing harder!”

Confession Cam

Angel: The Puerto Rican teen had cracked up in the confessional. Between chuckles, he managed to get out, “Hey, at least I didn’t laugh at him to his face!”

“What words rhyme with blue?”

“Um … do? True? Shoe? You?”

“Oh, that works!”

Victor scrawled something onto the piece of paper in front of him, not telling Sebastian which of his suggestions he’d gone with. The seven Emmys that had escaped due to the Chris Bot fiasco had yet to return, leaving just four of their teammates in the mansion. Victor had been struggling with his lack of poetic talent and had elected Sebastian to assist him, though the gambler wasn’t any better at it than he was. Gabe was just outside the door complaining to his butler on a cell phone that he had smuggled onto the show. Elena had been keeping an eye on Ophelia and Donna from the room’s only window, but she quickly became disinterested in them and was adjusting her hair in a mirror hanging on the wall.

“What sounds better?” Victor asked Sebastian. “‘I want to buy your shampoo’ or ‘I want to buy your gel?’”


“Don’t question it, just which one sounds better?”

“Neither,” Sebastian answered, “so just go with the first one you said.”

“Shampoo it is!”

Victor wrote another line on his paper, and the card player began drumming his fingers on the arm of the couch. Hearing the idle noise, Elena broke the staring contest that she was having with her own reflection to see that Victor was distracted by his poem. The socialite slinked across the room and slid onto the couch beside Sebastian, sitting a bit too close for comfort. She watched him tapping his fingers until he looked over with a raised eyebrow.


“Oh, nothing.” Elena crossed one leg over the other. “Just wanted to see what you were doing.”

“You can see that I’m not doing anything right now.”

“Aw, you figured me out already.” She snapped her fingers in false frustration. “What I really wanted was to ask you a question.”

“And that question would be …?”

“Well, I saw you talking to Donna earlier.” The socialite walked two of her fingers up the gambler’s arm. “And I heard what you said to her about an offer.” She paused for Sebastian to respond, but he waited for her to continue. “I know that the offer you were making her is an alliance.”

“Why would you ever think that?” Sebastian asked, his expression remaining bored.

“Well, I-”

“Quick, what rhymes with ‘all?’”

Elena glowered at Victor, obviously displeased with being interrupted. “How’s about small? You know, like the size of your brain?”

“Very funny.” The actor rolled his eyes. “I’m using it anyway.”

“As I was saying,” Her attention turned back to Sebastian, the hand that had crawled up the gambler’s arm now resting on his shoulder. “I watch these shows a lot, and you weren’t exactly discreet about asking her.”

“I really have no idea what you’re talking about.” Sebastian said. “Why would I need an alliance this early in the game?”

“Oh, Sebastian,” Elena’s voice switched from sweet to sinister. “Don’t play dumb.” She put a hand on Sebastian’s face and turned it towards her. “Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? I want in.”

“Define ‘in-’”

“Hey, what rhymes with ‘star?’”

Sebastian looked over at Victor, and Elena’s face turned red with anger. “How about car?” Sebastian suggested. “Or far?”

“Far will work.” Victor wrote something down, ignoring the daggers being shot at him from Elena’s eyes.

“Darling, you could do so much better than that dead-looking little pessimist.” Elena insisted, leaning against Sebastian’s arm. “Forget about Donna. Take me for your alliance instead.”

“I still don’t know what you’re talking about.” The broad-shouldered teen got off the couch and walked towards the door, causing Elena to fall onto the cushion. “I don’t have an alliance, and I don’t plan on starting one.”

“Then what did you offer Donna?” The wealthy girl inquired.

“I don’t have to tell you.” Sebastian opened the door, causing Gabe, who had been leaning against it while making his phone call, to stumble into the room. “For all you know, I was asking her on a date.” Before Elena could protest, he pushed Gabe aside and shut the door behind himself.

“She’s not even your type!” The brunette shouted after her teammate, though her cry was disregarded. "I'm your type!" She growled in frustration and smothered her face into the couch cushion. Victor stared down at her.

“I take it this isn’t a good time to ask you what rhymes with ‘reign?’”

Elena snapped her head up and snarled at the actor. “How’s about pain? As in you’re a pain in my ass!”

“Is it just me, or is my makeup heavier on one eye than the other?” Monique inspected her face in the bathroom mirror before showing it to Minerva.

“Um …” The redhead studied her teammate’s eyes. “Maybe the left eye could use a bit more?”

“I knew it!” After a dab of eye shadow and a swipe of mascara, the trendsetter turned back to the motor mouth. “Better, right?”

“Definitely.” Minerva nodded. “That means we’re good to go now?”

“Yeah, but I don’t see what your rush is.” Monique pushed open the bathroom and walked into an alleyway between two warehouses. “I’m not in any hurry to get back to that snob’s whining.”

“I just don’t want to miss our team impressing Chris.” The quirky girl followed her stylish teammate in the direction of the mansion.

“I’m sure it’s not going to be that interesting, but whatev- AH!” Minerva yanked Monique behind a nearby building by the wrist. The designer ripped her arm away and shook her hand out. “What’s the big idea?! That hurt!”

“Shh! Look!”

The loudmouth and the fashionista peeked around the corner of the building to see Camille rustling through the leaves of a small tree. The girl in the gown thoroughly examined each branch that was in her reach, her eyes narrowed and her lips pursed in concentration. When she had thoroughly studied the entire tree, she disappeared behind a set.

“What was she looking for?” Minerva whispered.

“I don’t know, and I don’t really want to know.” Monique came out from their hiding spot and headed back towards the mansion.

The redhead took a few long strides to quickly catch up to the shorter girl. “But don’t you think it’s a little suspicious?”

“Yeah, but it’s none of our business. It’s not like she’s doing something illegal.”

“We don’t know that!”

“We can assume it.” The trendsetter stated. “She seems more innocent than anybody else here. It’s not like she has anything to hide-”

“Oh, hello there.” Monique and Minerva screeched in unison when they heard a new voice in their ears. They turned around to find Camille standing directly behind them, her head tilted to the side. “You didn’t happen to see a tube of lipstick around here, did you? It seems to have fallen out of my purse while I was helping my friend find flowers.”

Monique gave Minerva an ‘I told you so’ look. “We haven’t. Sorry about that.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. I’ve been looking for a while.” Camille’s shoulders sagged. “Would you mind if I went back to the mansion with you? I want to get back to my team before the challenge starts.”

Minerva opened her mouth to speak, but Monique beat her to it. "Of course we don't mind."

The three girls began to walk back to La Mansión Malvada, Camille completely unaware that Minerva was still on edge because of her presence.

“Gather around, everyone!” Chris waved the contestants over to where he sat in a large red armchair in the middle of the foyer. The sun was setting when the host had finally called the contestants downstairs, and he seemed eager to see what they had prepared for him. “I’ve given you more than enough time to find some way to impress me, so let’s get this started, shall we? I won’t tell you until the end who impressed me the most, but I will cut you off if you’re boring. Simple, right? Right. Oscars, since you have a few extra tries you can go first.”

A murmur ran through The Oscars as they tried to decide who they would send up first. Eventually, Allison approached the host with her hands behind her back. “I made you this.”

She brought forward her hands to reveal that she was holding a small doll in her palm. It was made of felt and had a pair of black button eyes, with a mop of dark yarn hair on its head. Dressed in a familiar blue shirt and tan pants, the doll easily resembled Chris.

“A doll of me?” The narcissist wondered, taking his mini-me from her.

“Yeah, but it gets better.” As the host inspected the doll, Allison put her hand in her pocket and pulled out some pins. “It’s a voodoo doll.”

Chris looked up at her with a white face. “Ex-excuse me?”

“It’s a voodoo doll. I don’t actually think I can do real voodoo, but I wanted to try it out.” She outstretched a pin towards Chris. “Now let’s see what happens when I put a pin in it!”

“No!” Chris yelped, tossing his doll across the room. Instead of landing in a safe place, it bounced off the side of Robert’s head and onto one of the candles resting on the bureau beside him. The host rushed over to pluck his miniature likeness from the fire, shaking the flames off of it and then cradling it to his chest. “I’m sorry, little beautiful person. I would never mean to make you burn! Nobody’s going to hurt you now.”

Confession Cam

Allison: “I don’t know why Chris flipped. I told him I don’t actually know voodoo.” The scarlet-haired punk leaned back on the bench. “I took a dare to make a voodoo doll out of my teacher once, and that did nothing, so why would this one? Plus, if I actually knew how to make it work, don't you think I'd have used it on Avery by now?”

Speaking of Avery, she was now presenting her talent to Chris in the form of a manicure and a pedicure. She picked at the host’s cuticles with a small metal tool and filed his nails to perfection, which the host seemed to enjoy but wasn’t visibly in awe of. When she was done pampering him, he looked down at his hands.

“They look really good,” Chris admitted, “but, bra, I’m a celebrity. I could get a manicure any time.”

“One of this quality?” Avery questioned.

Chris smirked. “For the big bucks, you can get anything.”

A disappointed Avery retreated back to her team, and a guitar-clad Wes took her place. He sang a short, upbeat song that complimented the host, his teammates clapping their hands and tapping their feet to the beat. Though the tune sounded just like something that could have appeared on Total Drama World Tour, Chris’s unimpressed facial expression implied that he thought something was missing.

“It didn’t rhyme.” He stated once the song was over.

“Songs don’t have to rhyme.” Wes countered.

“The more something rhymes, the catchier it is.” Chris said, tenting his fingers as though he was providing wise advice. “The catchier it is, the more likely it is to be able to be sold off as a jingle.”

Wes furrowed his brow. “I didn’t write it as a jingle.”

The host pointed at him. “That’s your problem.”

Realizing that winning this battle was impossible, Wes returned to sit with his team. Zack and Risty, his assistants in writing, encouraged him that the host was wrong as Angel took the floor, holding the dismantled curtain in front of him like a magician’s cape.

“Ladies and gentlemen, be prepared to witness a sight unlike any other. It’s the one, the only … Irina Rostropovich!” Angel pulled the curtain aside to reveal Irina crouching behind it. Giving her best seductive eyes, she prowled towards the host and sat on his lap, running a hand through his hair.

“If you let The Oscars win the challenge,” She whispered into his ear, “I have connections to many swimsuit models that I have worked with who would just love to get their hands on you.”

Chris’s eyes went wide. “Is this legal?”

“That’s the best part!” Angel announced. “Irina is eighteen and most of her model friends are twenty-one ... and they love to party.” After running her fingers lightly along the host’s jawline, the model got off of his lap and strutted away from him. Chris stared after her, but Angel covered her up with the curtain again. “This deal can only be yours if you let our team win.”

“Oh, we’ll definitely win after I show him what I’ve got!” Eric bumped Angel and Irina out of his spotlight, Chris’s glazed over expression immediately fading. “He’s gonna be so impressed with me that he won’t even bother letting everyone else go up. He’ll give me the win right here.”

“Less talking, more showing.” Chris demanded, impatiently waving his hand.

“The best part of the show has to have a great intro, doesn’t it?” He placed a bag at his feet. “Eric Stoneleigh, the world’s next top athlete and the best baller in the Bronx, is not only amazing when it comes to sports. He’s also the best at something else!” He leaned over to pull something out of the bag, and Paul’s face fell.

“Oh no.” He muttered.

“What’s wrong?” Robert asked.

“Last night, Eric told me that other than sports, he only had one passion.”

“What is it?”

“Rock collecting!” Eric exclaimed. His arms emerged with a bounty of rocks of all shapes, colors, and sizes. “I use the time when I’m not playing sports to hunt down new additions for my collection. It’s taken me years to collect this many rocks, and they’re all very special. Take this one, for example.”

The jock picked up a sparkling violet rock. “I got this from my basketball teammate after he went on vacation. He thinks it’s amethyst, like the stuff they use in jewelry. Pretty sweet, huh?” He pointed out another rock in the pile. “This one’s topaz, and this one’s quartz, and I don’t know what this one is, but it’s pretty cool, right?”

Eric glanced up at the host expecting to see that he shared his enjoyment, but instead he was met with a sneer. “Next!”

The rockhound furrowed his brow. “What did you just say?”

“I said ‘next.’” Chris repeated. “As in, you’re boring me.”

Eric stared at Chris, his face a mixture of shock and anger. “Whatever, man. You just don’t get it.”

“I don’t think I want to get it.” The host retorted. “Somebody bring the hot model back!”

Confession Cam

Irina: “I know that I said I want people to appreciate me for something other than my looks, but when it comes to dealing with pathetic men, looking good is usually the easiest way to get your way.”

Avery: “I should’ve known that Eric would show off his rocks if I gave him one of our six spots. I didn’t think he’d actually be dumb enough to think they were cool.” The drama queen put her forehead in her palm. “Unless the whole Irina thing works, I really hope Paul or Cara has a trick up their sleeve, or we’re doomed.”

“Chris, you and I are the same type of person. We’re handsome, we’re wealthy, we love ourselves, and we want one thing and one thing only.”

“Money?” Chris guessed.

“Yes.” Gabe smiled. “Money.” The curly haired teen pulled a wad of cash from his pocket and tossed it to the host. “Count this for me, would you?”

Chris took the elastic band off of the stack of bills and ran his finger through them, counting under his breath. “This is a thousand dollars.”

“Yes, it is. And it’s for you.” Gabe winked at the host. “Since you’re a smart man, I think you know that there’s plenty more where that came from. If you want a share, though, you need to give me something in return. Maybe … oh, how about a challenge win?”

The vain man nodded, tucking the money into his shirt pocket. “We’ll see.”

“Excellent.” Gabe took a seat with his team, earning a high five from Zack. Meanwhile, Cara stepped in front of Chris with a colorful bouquet of flowers in her hand.

“I spent hours hunting around the film set for the perfect flowers, and eventually I was able to find them. I knew that I needed some truly special flowers to represent somebody as magnificent as you are.” Cara explained, pulling a group of small, midnight blue flowers from the bundle. “These are statice, which represent success. We all know you’re a very successful man, Chris, so I knew I had to include them.”

“I can agree with that.” Chris smirked.

“As do we all,” The brunette smiled, pulling a big red flower from the bunch. “This is an amaryllis flower. It represents beauty and pride. You’re obviously a very handsome man, and you should be proud of it!” Her smile didn’t leave her face as she showed him a large pink and yellow flower. “This is an alstroemeria. It represents wealth, fortune, and prosperity, which are things that you’re well on your way to having with such a successful career!”

“You’re such a good little suck up.” Chris complimented, though the smile on his face was more conspiratorial than proud. “Where did you say you got those flowers?”

“Well, I’d checked the woods, but there weren’t any there. I had completely given up when I made it back to the sets, but then the weirdest thing happened!” The nature lover moved her hands as she told her story. “Hiding behind a dinky trailer, I found a gated off area with dozens of beautiful flowers in it. There were so many that I figured it couldn’t hurt if I took a few!”

Chris guffawed. “That’s what I thought you would say.”

Cara’s smile fell. “Are these covered in pesticides or something?”

“Oh, no, it’s much better. Listen.” Chris cupped a hand around his ear, and the room went silent. The cast could hear a faint thumping, but as it quickly got closer and closer they realized it was footsteps. Once the sound got so loud that they feared that whatever was heading towards them would trample right over the mansion, the front door slammed open and Chef Hatchet stormed in.

“Who went through my garden?!” Cara’s face paled and she tried to hide the bouquet behind her back. However, the eagle-eyed Chef easily noticed and pointed a finger at her. “You.”

Cara squealed and began to run, Chef bounding right after her. Chris laughed as the chase continued in circles around the room, most of the contestants figuring it was smarter to move out of the way than to interfere with the angry cook. When Chef eventually chased Cara up the stairs, the host summoned the next presenter.

Ophelia leaned out of the front door that Chef had thrown open and pulled a large, covered object over to Chris. “Mr. McLean, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to capture your beauty in a single painting. Then, I was hit with an inspiration: pop art. I give you, McLean Frenzy.”

The artist removed the sheet, revealing the object to be four rectangular canvases taped together. Each one displayed the same portrait of Chris McLean’s face, with each piece rendered in different, complimentary neon colors.

“It’s not quite my style,” Chris admitted, getting a closer look at the portraits, “but I can’t say anything bad about my own handsome face, can I? You’re really outdone yourself – not one but four pictures of me!”

Ophelia beamed as she pushed the painting to the side, making room for Paul to approach the host.

“I made this for you by hand. It’s not exactly as grand as Ophelia’s portrait, but I still put a lot of effort into it.” The Boy Scout reached into his pocket and pulled out a bundle of fabric. He unrolled it to display that it was a crocheted beanie. The crocheting was very well done, but the design was a bit … gaudy, to say the least. The hat was solid blue except for the front, where Paul had constructed an image of the host’s grinning face from different shades of yarn. “Do you like it?”

When Paul handed over the accessory, Chris took a long look at it. After a moment, he smiled. “While even I’ll admit the design’s a little scary, crochet is supposed to be in this upcoming winter! Now I can be stylish and still showcase my vanity at the same time.” He gave the Oscar a thumbs up. “Good thinking, man.”

Paul smiled at the narcissist, though when he turned around he made a rude face at Isaac, who shot an equally ugly face back. Meanwhile, Elena, Risty, and Zack had set themselves up in front of Chris. When Wes, Risty, and Zack had returned to The Hotel, apparently they had been feeling crafty, as Risty had a makeshift cardboard rain stick in her hand and Zack had a tambourine made out of plates. Elena cleared her throat.

“A poem by Victor Phae, as read by Elena Harks.” She said, speaking in a tone that was much more serene than her usual speaking voice.

“Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
This show would be nothing
If it wasn’t for you.”

At the end of the verse, Risty turned her rain stick and Zack shook his tambourine.

“When I see your hair,
I want to buy your shampoo,
Because it looks so shiny,
What brand do you use?”

The instruments sounded again, giving Elena’s words a soothing backing track.

“A smile so great
That in the sunlight it shines,
The sparkle from your teeth
Almost hurts my eyes.
And your acting is definitely
Not amateur at all,
I want to see all your movies,
On the big screen or small.
Total Drama is just the start,
I know you’ll be a star,
With a face like that
I know you’ll go far.
You’re practically a king,
Nobody threatens your reign,
You’re the wonderful, handsome,
All powerful Chris McLean.”

The rain stick and tambourine were played one more time before The Emmys broke into applause. Chris’s face was completely blank, as though he was still taking the time to absorb the verses. He remained silent as Elena, Risty, and Zack sat back with their team, the latter two taking bows before rejoining the group. As the deliberation continued, Cara stumbled down the stairs with her bouquet shoved into her mouth. Before anybody could comfort her, Chris stood up from his chair.

“I have made my decision.” He declared. “I think most of you know me very, very well … which you should, because I’m famous. The Oscars offered me fashion statements and girls, while The Emmys offered me money and a few odes to myself. At first, I was totally going to go for the babes … but then I heard that magnificent poem.”

"No way." Victor's jaw dropped. When the host took a pause to gaze dramatically in the distance, the actor confusedly looked around at his teammates. "Is he serious?"

“Yes, I'm serious." Chris said. "It was a terribly written mess, but it was a terribly written mess about me! It’s not about how you say it, it’s about what you’re saying, and those were some awful verses that told everyone exactly how great I am. And it rhymed! That is the exact kind of thing that I’d force a bunch of teenagers to sing while in a dangerous situation in a foreign country on international television. As sweet as hot chicks are, this poem and the fact that the voodoo doll and rock collection scared the crap out of me are why I chose The Emmys to win this challenge!”

The Emmys erupted into cheers, and The Oscars hung their heads.

“Try not sucking so bad next time, Oscars. I’ll see you at the elimination.” Chris gave the teams a wink before leaving the mansion. After a moment, he poked his head back in. “Oh, and Paul? I’m keeping the hat.”

“Well, that was a total crap fest.” Isaac flopped onto his bed, kicking off his shoes in the process.

“Hey, I thought my idea would work!” Angel defended himself from the other side of the room.

Isaac shook his head. “No, not you. Your plan was awesome, and Chris is definitely going to regret thinking with the right head.”

“Good, then I shouldn’t see my name come up at elimination.” Angel leaned back on the wall beside his bed. "Voting someone off's going to be tough.”

“Eh, I’m not worried about it. I’d just like to finally take my power nap.” Just as Isaac closed his eyes, there was a knocking on the door. The slacker groaned and rolled over, while Angel got up to see who their visitors were. He cracked the door open to find Cara, Camille, and Robert standing in the hallway.

“Can we come in?”

Angel pulled the door all the way open and held an arm out. “Go right ahead.”

As Cara, Camille, and Robert got situated, Isaac sat up and shook out his hair. “What’s up with you guys?”

“We weren’t really sure what to do about the elimination.” Robert explained.

“It’ll be nothing to worry about.” Isaac repeated his earlier statement.

“It is, though.” Camille said, placing her ever-present purse by her feet. “I don’t want to see any of our friends go.”

“It was a lot easier to choose last time.” Cara rested her chin on the heel of her hand. “Nobody wants to be the first to go home, but at least we knew that we couldn’t really use Josh, so it didn’t feel as bad.”

“Speaking of last time, I think it’s hard to believe we’ve already lost two challenges to The Emmys.” Angel followed up. “Compared to us, they should be weak as hell! They have those two spoiled rich kids, that hyperactive redhead, the whacked out artist, and whatever Victor is. We all get along pretty good, we’re well-rounded, and we have Robert, who’s a beast!”

“Why thank you!” Robert said with a bashful grin.

“So we just have to pick out the weakest link.” Isaac suggested.

“But it’s so hard.” Cara protested. “Who would we even choose?”

As if answering her question, a deep bass rumbled through the floorboards. This was soon followed up by a man spitting out rap lyrics, a heavy beat and the bass continuing to pound in the background.

“ERIC, TURN THAT DOWN!” Avery shrieked from down the hall.

“IF IT’S TOO LOUD, YOU’RE TOO OLD!” Eric bellowed over his music before rapping along with the lyrics.

“OH, IT’S ON!” The five Oscars in Room 304 heard Allison laugh. Eric’s rap music was soon drowned out by Allison blasting death metal at an even higher volume.

“YOU CAN’T BEAT THIS!” Eric pumped his music even louder. Allison countered this by turning her volume up even more, and the walls actually started to vibrate as Eric blasted his music at its maximum level.

“ERIC, YOUR ROCKS ARE FALLING!” Paul screeched, and the five Oscars could hear the sound of dozens of objects collapsing down the hallway. This was followed by the sound of plastic breaking, and the rap music immediately cut off.

“MY CD PLAYER!” Eric hollered. Realizing she’d won the contest, Allison turned her music down lower and then began to play a somber funeral march in honor of Eric’s destroyed device.

“Well, I think that narrows down some weak links for us.” Isaac remarked. Robert, Camille, Cara, and Angel all exchanged glances before nodding in agreement.

A couple of hours later, The Oscars sat on the bleachers at the Team’s Choice Awards ceremony for the second time. The stars that were nailed to the front of the stage had changed: each of the remaining Oscars’ stars now had another smaller star engraved onto it, representing that they had survived an elimination ceremony. Josh’s star had been smashed to the point that his name was barely legible.

Chris took the stage and adjusted the microphone on his podium. “Welcome, Oscars, to your second elimination ceremony. One of you is going to be voted off tonight and will never return to McLean Studios – never ever. As I said at the last Team’s Choice Awards, the method of leaving the studios changes with the episode. Today, it’s again by limo.”

He pointed at the Red Carpet of Shame, where a limousine was waiting at the curb. “To get to it, you’re going to have to avoid getting hit by the arrows being shot at you. It’s just like the archery challenge, except you’re the target, and these archers never miss.” He snapped his fingers, and the archers revealed themselves to be burly men with bows in their hands. Several of The Oscars gasped, and Chris cackled. “Chef called in some favors from his army buddies.”

“I’ll never make it past them!” Camille whimpered.

“You’ve all cast your votes in the confessional, so let’s find out who tonight’s loser is.” The host held a star in the air. “The first silver star of safety goes to …” He took his trademarked dramatic pause. “Paul.”

“Thank you!” The do-gooder showed his gratitude as he caught his star.

“You deserve it for that hat you made me, kid. The next two stars go to Angel and Irina, for their awesome attempt to distract me with the temptation of beautiful women.” The fire starter and blonde bombshell caught their respective stars.

“Next are Robert, Camille, and Cara,” This time, Robert and Camille were actually paying attention long enough to catch their stars, “Isaac,” The troublemaker fist bumped with Angel, “and Avery.” The drama queen sighed in relief as she caught her star. “That just leaves Allison and Eric.”

Allison fidgeted with the bracelets on her wrists, completely surprised that she was in the bottom and reluctant to go home. Eric had reacted in confusion rather than shock, his expression turning intense as he tried to figure out what he had done wrong.

“Your team gave you both a chance to impress me, but it just led to two epic failures.” Chris shook his head in disappointment. “Voodoo dolls and rock collections? Seriously? You guys deserve to be here tonight. The final star goes to…”


“Oh, thank goodness!” The daredevil caught her star with a sigh of relief.

What?!” Eric got to his feet and glared at his teammates. “I can't believe y’all voted me off! I thought you liked me! You should like me, I'm the best member of this whole team!” He jutted a finger at Chris. “This is crap, McLean! You rigged the votes! You just didn’t like my rocks! How could you?!”

“Hey, don’t yell at me. I’m not the one who voted you off.” Chris pointed out.

A security guard walked out from behind the stage to restrain the ranting Eric, but the jock realized that his arguing was of no use and hung his head in disappointment. When the security guard retreated because he was unneeded, Allison put a hand on Eric’s arm.

“It was fun while it lasted.” The daredevil said with a sad smile.

“Yeah, it was.” Eric returned her grin. “You know, once you get voted off, I’ll be waiting at the Losers’ Resort so I can finally show you up.”

“You say that like I’m not going to win.”

“You just wait until I come back!”

“Could we speed this up?” Chris asked. Finally listening, Eric made his way to the Red Carpet of Shame. He gave his team one last exaggerated series of hand gestures before the arrows began to shoot. The jock rushed to the safety of the limousine, several arrows hitting him along the way.

“Now that he's gone, you guys are already down to nine players while the other team still has all eleven.” Chris pointed out when the limo drove away. “You'd better start winning or this’ll be Team Victory all over again.”

As their competition was facing elimination, The Emmys were celebrating in the cafeteria of The Hotel. The team sat at their table with smiles on their faces, pasta on their plates, and glasses of soda in their hands.

“To Victor!” Ophelia raised her glass for a toast. Eight other glasses clinked against hers in agreement, and they began to eat, glad that they had evaded elimination for another night.

On the end of the table, the mood was much less cheerful as Elena angrily stabbed at her pasta, completely isolated from her overjoyed teammates. “I can’t believe stupid Sebastian!” She hissed to the camera. “He has the guts to lie to my face? Well, I’ll show him! I’ll find somebody stupid enough to do whatever I say and I’ll make my own alliance!”

She speared a pile of pasta onto her fork, chomping down on it as though she was biting someone’s head off. “They’re cheering now, but they’ll see. I’ll take over this team, and Sebastian will come begging to be in my alliance. The beautiful and wealthy people will come out on top … I will come on top!”

“… I’d toast to that.”

Elena turned to see Gabe sitting across from her, swirling his soda in his glass.

“What did you just say?” She questioned.

“I would love for the beautiful and wealthy people to come out on top.” Gabe stated. “We never get our way.”

Elena stared at Gabe for a moment before an ominous smile spread across her face. “Then how’s about we make a toast of our own?” She raised her glass in the air and said quietly, “To the beautiful and the rich.”

“Perfect.” Gabe touched his glass to hers, and they drank, the smile never leaving Elena’s face.

“So, Gabe … how would you feel about starting an alliance?”

Episode Three: Video Killed the Reality Star

Chapter Five: I Need a Director

“Last time on Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment, the contestants were fast to make friends and enemies. Isaac and Angel bonded over their troublemaking habits, Donna coldly rejected Sebastian’s alliance offer, and Zack pulled an anonymous prank on Elena.” Chris cupped his hand to the side of his mouth like he was telling a secret. “Word of advice, man: if you’re going to annoy someone, try to avoid it being the whiniest member of your team.

“Our romance-themed challenge started with the cast getting a chance to play Cupid to earn chances to impress me. I gave them some time to prepare, during which Cara accidentally stole some flowers from Chef’s garden, Elena tried (and failed) to get in on Sebastian’s alliance, and Avery bestowed Isaac’s face with The Slap Heard Around the World. It’s pretty hard to impress somebody who already has everything, but they gave it a pretty good try. I appreciated the offers of fashion and hot girls, but it was Victor’s ode to me that earned The Emmys the win.

“Sick of Eric’s bragging and general obnoxiousness, The Oscars took his crappy challenge performance as an excuse to send the jock home.” Chris shrugged. “I didn’t think he was that bad. I talk about myself all the time and nobody’s ever said anything about it. Whose actions will win over their team, and who’ll embarrass themselves on international television? Find out this time on Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

“- So it will be easy to get some of those idiots to vote with us. At this point, everyone just wants to play nice, so they have no reason to turn us down, right?”

“Oh yeah.”

“It’s practically impossible to win three challenges in a row on a show like this, so unless some freaking miracle happens it’ll be us at the Team Choice Awards next.”

“Uh huh.”

“There’s no way anybody’s going to fight to keep her here. You’d have to be deaf to want to keep around somebody who babbles nonstop in that annoying little voice.”


Elena banged her hand on the table in front of Gabe. “Are you even listening to me?!”

“Of course,” Gabe responded, though he didn’t look up from the cell phone he was playing with on his lap.

“What are you doing that’s more important than talking about our alliance?” Elena lunged over the table and snatched the device from her teammate. Looking at its screen, she raised an eyebrow. “Why are you looking up pictures of boats?”

“That’s my boat.” The bushy haired teen corrected her, snatching his gadget from her. “My father bought me another yacht to add to my collection.”

“Where did you even get that?” The socialite asked as Gabe tucked his phone into his pocket. “I thought Chris stole your phone after the last challenge.”

The rich kid snorted. “You think I only have one phone?”

Elena rolled her eyes. “Let’s just get back to the important stuff: our target for elimination.”

“Could you remind me one more time of who that is?”

Minerva.” The hotel heiress groaned. “You really didn't hear a word I said?”

“I heard some of it. You said we’re bound to go to elimination next, you think we can get the majority vote, I get the idea.” Elena gave him a satisfied grin. “Could you maybe just explain why you want to eliminate her one more time?”

The other Emmy rolled her dark eyes, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “After the first challenge, I had a chat with Minerva that I know she hasn’t forgotten. We can use that to our advantage and hang it over her head, and she’ll probably break down during the – HEY! Eyes over here!”

Gabe quickly turned his head. “I’m paying attention!”

“I saw you staring at your reflection in the window!”

“Well, sorry.” The wealthy jerk sneered. “We’re being filmed twenty-four/seven, you know, so I was just making sure I look camera ready. I don’t want to look poor or something.”

“You’re going to look a lot worse than poor if you don’t get your head out of your ass and listen to me.” Elena threatened.

“Hey, don’t get pissed at me. Take out your anger on Minerva. What’d you even say to her that’ll throw her off so badly?”

“Oh, just that – what the hell is that?!”

A blur of orange and green zoomed across the table between the two Emmys, falling off the other end. With a high pitched whirring sound, the foreign object drove in circles around them. The pair yelped in unison and leapt from their seats, Gabe hiding underneath the table while Elena stood on top of it. The intruder’s rings were getting smaller and smaller until it finally zipped under the table. Startled, Gabe kicked it away, sending it rolling across the room.

“Did it stop?” Elena questioned. When the object didn’t budge, the pair of rich kids moved to examine it. Lying on its back was a bright green remote controlled truck, its four wheels spinning rapidly in the air.

Gabe picked it up for a closer look. “A toy truck? Where’d this even come from?” Disembodied snickers drifted through the air, and he dropped the truck with a shriek, the little vehicle zooming away. It hadn't evaded trouble, however, as Elena had seen all that she needed to.

“I know exactly where this came from!” She stomped towards the food window and reached her arm over the counter, plucking somebody from behind it. She dragged the body across the counter and onto the floor. “It’s the rat I share a bathroom with!”

Zack gave her a nervous grin and a finger wave. “Hey there.”

“You really screw yourself over when you paint a ‘Z’ on all your stupid toys.” Elena crossed her arms. “Now I want to hear you beg for mercy or I’ll make sure it’s your head on the chopping block next.”

Before Zack could say anything, a chuckling Risty leapt over the food window with a controller in her hands. “Oh man, you guys should’ve seen your faces! We scared the crap out of you!”

“What’s she doing here?” Gabe asked, joining Elena in glowering at them.

“We’re partners in crime now.” Zack stated as Risty pulled him to his feet. “Turns out she loves pulling pranks as much as I do.”

“Forget this, I’m not wasting my time talking to a gremlin and a frizz ball.” Elena headed for the exit, towing Gabe by the arm behind her. “Come on, I’ll kick Monique out of my room and we can finish talking there.” She shot one more glare over her shoulder before slamming the door behind her.

Risty exchanged a mischievous look with Zack. “You’re her neighbor, aren’t you?” The technophile nodded. “Then let’s get another one of your inventions and crash their party again!”

Confession Cam

Zack: “I know what you’re probably thinking: how’d that dorky little guy make friends with that Amazon? Well, Risty and I are physical opposites, but we have a lot more in common than I thought. Pulling pranks isn’t any fun if you have nobody to laugh with, and she’s got a killer sense of humor, so I guess we just clicked.”


Allison, get out of there!”


“Either you get out or you let me in!”


“Allisoooooon! I’m going to get Robert to break down this door!”

The aforementioned punk smirked as she wiped her makeup off in the mirror. The door between her room and the bathroom was locked tight, and Avery had been unsuccessfully trying to barge her way in for the last thirty minutes.


“Fine, you know what? I’ll break the door down myself!”

Allison paused in the middle of smearing her eye shadow when she heard a massive thump against the door. When she heard Avery whine in pain, she let out a cackle and resumed cleaning her face, her roommate soon going right back to pounding on the door. The door on the other side of the bathroom opened up, and Paul leaned in.

“What’s wrong with her?” Paul had to practically shout to be heard over the racket.

“What isn’t wrong with her?” Allison remarked.

“Does she realize she can get into the bathroom from my room too?”

“I really doubt it.” The crimson-haired girl narrowed her eyes at her teammate. “You’re not going to tell her that, are you?”

“I’ll let her figure it out for herself.” Paul shrugged.

Allison turned back to the mirror with a smile. “I knew I liked you.”

“Seriously, though, I’d let her in soon. You can hear her all the way on the first floor.” Paul flinched when he heard Avery ram against the door a second time, though Allison didn’t even pause in washing off her lipstick. “I’m pretty sure that means Chef can hear her too since he’s only at the end of the hall.”

“Then hopefully he’ll use her face to break down the door.” The daredevil said with a giggle. “She can wait until I’m done. Sharing is caring, after all.”

“It’s your funeral.” Paul muttered, cupping his hands over his ears to block out the noise as he returned to his room.

The Emmys in the room below Avery’s had been attempting to do the same thing as Paul for the last half an hour, though it seemed easier to pray that the drama queen would stop than to tune her out. Wes was sitting on the floor with a pair of headphones on, trying to drown out the pounding with an electric guitar solo. Victor was on his bed with a pillow wrapped around his head, his eyes wide and his jaw clenched. After another minute of the banging, he threw the pillow onto the floor in frustration.

“Dear God, it’s me, Victor Phae.” The actor folded his hands and looked up at the ceiling. “It’s been a while since we talked, but could you please just grant me some peace and quiet?!” After another loud thump, it was suddenly quiet upstairs, and a smile spread across Victor’s face. However, the rhythmic knocking continued once again, and he collapsed onto his back. “Damn it! I said please!”

Wes popped one of his ear buds out and looked up at his roommate. “No offense, but screaming only adds to the noise.”

“Am I the only one who was expecting to be allowed some sleep tonight?” Victor whined, pushing his face into the mattress. “I’m pretty sure tomorrow’s challenge day, and I don’t want to lose because I’m in dire need of a nap!”

“If anything, it’ll be The Oscars who lose. They’re the ones that’ll have to deal with the aftermath of whatever’s going on up there.” The musician said. “We haven’t lost a challenge yet, and you totally rocked the last one.”

“It was freak luck.” The Romeo admitted. “My poem sucked.”

“It wasn’t that bad …”

“Wes, don’t try to lie. It was a total piece of crap.”

The lanky teen got to his feet, tossing his music player onto his bed before leaning over to dig through his suitcase. “Okay, so it sucked, but it still got us the win.” Suddenly, a crash much louder than the previous racket sounded from above, and the guitarist bumped his head on the top of his luggage. Victor stared up at the ceiling as the howls and screeches of two animals fighting traveled into their room.

“Hey! It’s still my turn!” Allison’s muffled voice yelled.

“You’ve been in here long enough!” Avery snarled back. “You wouldn’t get out, so I’m forcing you out!”

When the sounds of their physical and verbal fight continued to leak through the ceiling, Victor pounded his fists into his mattress.

“Just vote me off now to spare me from hearing this every night!”

Confession Cam

Wes: “After a few more minutes of Avery and Allison fighting, I’m pretty sure I saw Victor try to suffocate himself with a pillow case.” The musician frowned. “Even when they stopped, he just kept complaining and whining until he fell asleep. He seems like a nice guy, but, if you ask me, he’s a bigger drama queen than Avery.”

Avery: “After our bathroom debacle, I went to Chris and politely requested a rooming change. I told him that I was reduced to breaking down the door and tackling Allison, but he still said no because ‘it’s good for ratings.’” Avery crossed her arms. “Ha. Like I won’t already be drawing in ratings. I voted for Allison at the last elimination ceremony, and I plan on voting for her the next time we lose. I. Want. Her. Gone.”

“Have a good breakfast!” Robert waved to Camille as she headed to The Oscars’ table with a full plate. The footballer used a spatula to slide the remaining pieces of French toast to the front of his tray. “Who’s next?” When nobody responded to his call, Robert leaned out of the food window and spotted Monique slumped at the front of the line. “Good morning, Monique!”

When hearing her name, the designer rubbed her eyes and lethargically dragged herself to the food window. “Sorry about that, guess I’m just a bit exhaus-” Monique cut off her own sentence with a yawn.

“I’d say you’re more than ‘a bit’ exhausted.” Robert chuckled, plopping two pieces of French toast onto the New Yorker’s plate. “Why does everyone look so down this morning?”

“Elena and Gabe were having a meeting in my room last night, so Princess Harks threw me out without my key. I was stuck in the hall reading the same magazine over and over for hours before she let me back in.” Monique explained, taking a pair of sugar packets from the container on the counter. “I could probably recite every ad in that magazine word for word for you.”

“Well, that’s not too bad.” The athlete commented.

“Oh, no, that’s not the end of it. As annoying as she is, Elena couldn’t keep all of us from sleeping.” The designer continued, pouring one of the sugar packets on top of her toast. “As soon as I got back to my room, World War III started upstairs. Allison and Avery kept me and probably the whole hotel up all night.”

“Well, that was yesterday. Today’s a new day, and I’m sure it’ll be a lot better than last night.” Robert took a quick look around before scooping another piece of French toast onto Monique’s plate. “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m giving you an extra piece of toast to cheer you up.”

The trendsetter smiled, though she raised a perplexed eyebrow. “I’m in the farthest room possible from Allison and Avery’s, but they still kept me up. You’re on the same floor, so you must’ve heard them, right?”

“Yeah, but I’m not going to let something as little as that throw me off. There’s no reason to let the bad things hold you back.” Robert gave her his brightest grin, and Monique couldn’t help but smile back.

“I’ll stop holding your line up. Thanks for the pep talk … and the food.” When the designer walked away, Robert turned around to see if Paul had made any more French toast. Once his tray was filled up, the daydreamer turned around to find that Minerva had appeared in front of the counter. Her eyes shifted around the room nervously, and her glass of orange juice was shaking in her unsteady hands.

“You okay?” Robert asked, and Minerva jumped at the sound of his voice. “Whoa, sorry! I didn’t mean to freak you out.”

“It’s okay, I’m fine.” The redhead rolled her tense shoulders. “I’m just a little on edge, that’s all.”

“That doesn’t sound good. You’re usually as happy as I am.” The footballer pointed out, plopping two pieces of French toast onto her plate. “Did the catfight last night keep you up too?”

“No, no - well, yes actually, but it’s not that.” The loudmouth shook her head. “It’s just … okay, I know this is going to sound totally crazy, but I think there’re some people on my team who are out to get me.”

“I’m sure they’re not-”

“No, really, they are.” She persisted. “I’ve heard some of them talking, and they want to-”

“Hello there, Minerva.” The blabbermouth’s blue eyes widened as Elena and Gabe scooted in to stand on either side of her. Elena gave her a smile, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “Nice morning, isn’t it? What were you guys talking about?”

“Oh, just normal stuff like … the weather!” Elena and Gabe both gave her disbelieving looks, and Minerva swallowed a lump in her throat. “No, I meant the show! We were talking about Total Drama – no, wait, it was our zodiac signs. I’m a Gemini and Robert’s a …” Minerva’s eyes drifted to the athlete’s for assistance, but he was clueless to astrology and could only offer her a shrug. The motor mouth sighed under her teammates’ cold stares. “We were talking about nothing. Absolutely nothing. I literally just met this guy.”

“Oh, yeah, since we’re on different teams we never ran into each other before.” Robert agreed, scooping French toast onto Elena’s and Gabe’s plates. “We really weren’t talking about anything important, just the weather and how she’s a Jemima-”

“Gemini.” Minerva corrected.

“Sorry to interrupt your chat, but we’d love it if you’d come sit with us today, Minerva.” Gabe started walking towards The Emmys’ table, stopping after a few steps to wait for Minerva to follow him. The redhead tried to bolt in the complete opposite direction, but Elena darted in front of her.

“What he meant to say is you are sitting with us.” The socialite redirected the other Californian with a shove. After the chatterbox staggered a couple of steps, Elena and Gabe returned to their positions as bookends on either side of her. They led her a few more steps before Minerva tripped over nothing, her French toast sliding off the plate and splatting onto the floor.

“Whoops!” The redhead giggled, her voice taking on a breathy, clueless tone that had been absent when she’d spoken to Robert. “Silly me, I dropped my food! I’d better get a new one-”

“You can have mine.” Gabe traded plates with the loudmouth as he and Elena forced her to continue walking with them. Minerva gave Robert one final worried look over her shoulder before she was ordered to sit in a chair between the two wealthy teens.

Confession Cam

Robert: “I try to see the good in everyone, but right now I can’t find anything positive about Elena and Gabe. Minerva was right about there being something fishy going on with her team, and I just want to help her! I could just tell them that … um …” His brow furrowed. “I could get them away by saying … uh … forget it, I’ll tell you my plan later. It’s slipped my mind right now, but I know it was a good idea!”

Once breakfast was finished, the twenty competitors were directed towards a block of four identical gray warehouses. The only thing that distinguished one building from the other was the large numbers painted above their only entrances, though the cast knew not to underestimate what could be waiting for them inside. The building for their first challenge had been equally as bland, but it contained an entire stage and audience.

The group entered Warehouse One to find that it had a rather odd layout. The left and right halves of the open room were symmetrical, each containing four sets laid out with various props and backdrops. Scattered around the room were professional grade video cameras, lighting equipment, and lit vanities. Surrounded in boxes and racks of clothing in the center of the room was a familiar face, though it wasn’t Chris McLean.

“Hello everybody, Rachel Claire here.” The gossip introduced herself as though she was conducting a news report. “The producers thought I’d be a better fit to chaperone this challenge since I have a lot more connections in the industry than Chris does … which is totally true if he tries to tell you otherwise. So, welcome to the set of your new music videos!” She received a puzzled look from the twenty teens in front of her. “Oh, come on, you couldn’t fake a little bit of enthusiasm?”

“We have a grand total of one musician here.” Angel stated. “The rest of us have no reason to be thrilled.”

Wes raised his hand from where he stood towards the back of the group. “For the record, I’m psyched.”

“Well, at least there’s one of you.” Rachel Claire rolled her eyes. “Anyway, today’s challenge is sponsored by several independent music groups who are just dying to catch their big break. And what better way is there for a band to get big than to make a unique music video? Instead of having to pay actors, we figured it’d be a lot easier if you guys were the stars. Each team needs to pick three members to take the positions of the crew. There’s the director, who is your team leader for this challenge and runs the camera; the wardrobe specialist, who will be handling costuming, makeup, and hair; and the backstage crew, who’s in charge of lighting and placing props. These three won’t be showing up in the video, since they’ll have their hands full without having to add acting to the job.

“The director will randomly pick one of four CDs, which will determine which song you are assigned. I’ll give you a packet that has all you’ll need to know about the music video, including the music genre, a basic plot, roles, and song lyrics. Don’t freak, because there doesn’t have to be any singing during this challenge, just some lip synching. The team members that were not assigned to the crew will be actors and will blindly pull colored pieces of paper from a hat to decide their role in the video. Everybody with a slip of paper has to appear in the video, even if that just means they’re a background prop. The part that each color corresponds with is different depending on which script you get, though gray slips always represent an extra.

“Each team has the same four sets to work with: a street, a bedroom, a small restaurant, and a plain room with instruments in it. You’ve been provided with equipment to film and edit your video and you have access to any of the props in this room. You have six hours to plan, film, and edit your video. We’ll then play them up on the big screen, and whoever’s is the least humiliating wins!” Rachel Claire put a hand on her hip at the blank looks her rapid fire challenge rundown received. “What’re you waiting for? Huddle up and pick your crew members so we can start the clock.”

Choosing the three roles was quick and relatively easy for both teams. For The Emmys, Monique and Risty volunteered to work wardrobe and backstage respectively, and Zack was elected to be the director due to his extensive knowledge of computers. He told his teammates that he had experience with high quality video editing software that he’d ripped from the internet, so he would easily be able to add special effects to their video. Irina and Paul volunteered for the wardrobe and lighting roles on The Oscars and, after a few minutes of squabbling, Avery claimed the directing position.

Rachel Claire fanned four CD cases out in front of her and called the two directors forth. “The only things that the four songs here share in common are that they’re all only a little over two minutes long and that they’re very … well, I’ll just say unique. Since The Emmys won the last challenge, they’ll get to pick their poison first.”

Zack pursed his lips before choosing the leftmost CD. He opened the case and slipped the CD out to read its title. “It says ‘Obsession.’”

“Ooh, that’s the creepy one.” Rachel Claire commented. “It’s by gothic rock band Mother Murder.”

Zack narrowed his eyes. “Mother what?”

“Mother Murder. It’s awful, I know, but I didn’t name them. They’re a bunch of lurching long-haired guys in eyeliner with a girl who dresses in weird outfits for a lead singer.” She stuck her tongue out in disgust as she handed Zack a pile of papers. “But wait, it gets worse: the song’s about stalking someone.”

Zack skimmed the lyrics sheet with a puckered brow as he returned to his team. Rachel Claire held the three remaining CDs out for Avery, and she plucked one from the middle. She opened the case and read aloud, “We have ‘Idolized.’”

Rachel Claire let out a snort of laughter. “For real?”

“Yes, for real.” Avery turned the CD around to show the reporter the title.

“Oh god, I was hoping somebody would get this one.” Rachel Claire sniggered as she handed a stack of papers to Avery. “It’s by a group called Gangsta Rhymes. They’re four white guys who try to rap, but it comes out as some awful hip-hop/punk hybrid.”

When Rachel Claire cracked up again, Avery gave her a look as though she wanted to strangle her. “You’re joking, right?”

“Read the lyrics.” The curly-haired hostess pointed to the top sheet in Avery’s pile.

The brunette skimmed the words in front of her, her expression darkening as she got further down the page. “Got my bling on, so you know that I’m a balla’. Car bouncin’ up and down, know I got more dough than all ya … this can’t be real.” Avery looked up at Rachel Claire to find that the reporter still had a smile pinned to her face. The Jersey girl groaned and rejoined her team, who looked equally as disappointed.

“Each team can claim one side of the room to work on. I’ll see you in six hours for the war between the Goths and the Gangstas.” Rachel Claire pulled a phone from her pocket and started typing away on it. “Ooh, ‘Goths vs. Gangstas’ would make a good headline. I’m writing that one down.”

“This is ridiculous!”

Angel dropped the lyrics sheet onto the table in front of him before leaning his head on top of it. The Oscars were sitting at their restaurant set passing around the information for their song. The teammates that weren’t on the crew had drawn colors from a hat off camera, and Angel, Cara, Robert, and Isaac were the unfortunate recipients of the four rapper roles. After playing “Idolized” and hearing the verses they needed to pretend to rap, the quartet immediately came up with two massive problems.

“I like hip-hop music, but this is just terrible.” Angel grumbled into the script. “The lyrics are awful, and they’re not even catchy.”

“They’re also freakishly fast. That’s a ton of stuff to memorize in a couple hours.” Isaac pulled the paper out from under his roommate’s face and skimmed it again. “I think I have like sixteen lines … Robert’s got more.”

“Guys, come on, it’s not that bad.” Robert insisted.

“Did you hear the voice of the guy I’m supposed to be?” Cara asked. “It was deep and definitely a man. Nobody’s going to believe that that voice came from me. I know I’m really skinny, but even with styling there’s no way you can hide that I’m definitely a girl.”

“If you can even call it 'styling'.” Irina remarked. “I was expecting it’d be high fashion with a twist, something Madame Gogo-esque, not street trash. I could throw you guys in t-shirts and sweats and call it done.”

“I wish we hadn’t voted off Eric.” Camille whimpered. “He loved rap music, so he would probably know all about this.”

“Guys, no need to be negative!” Robert interrupted the pity parade. “We can deal with it.”

“Easy for you to say.” Avery rested her chin in her hand. “You don’t have to direct this crap fest. Rachel Claire said this packet would give us guidelines, but it told me squat. The only plot we have is that you four go to a party and have a great time.”

“That’s all we need!” Robert exclaimed. “Look, we can use this restaurant set as the site of the party. With the right lighting, I think it could pass as a bar! And the street set could be … um …”

“The band on the way to a party.” Angel pitched in. “We could dim the lights so it looks like nighttime and get our two extras dressed as our party girl arm candy.”

“What about the line about the ‘car bouncing?’” Isaac questioned.

“I guess we’re broke rappers.” The pyromaniac smirked. “Based on these lyrics, we blew all our royalty checks on booze and women.”

“A noble cause.” Isaac and Angel bumped fists over the table.

“Okay, okay, this could work.” Avery scribbled notes in the margins of her papers. “The problem is, if it’s just you four, Allison, and Camille on the set it’s going to look more like an awkward birthday party than a rager.”

“We can worry about that later.” Paul slid off of his chair and glanced up at the equipment hanging from the high ceiling. “I’m going to try to find a way to get up to those suspended lights.”

“And I’ll start looking through the costumes to find some clothes for you guys.” Irina got up, and Camille hopped to her side.

“I’ll come with you!” The ditz followed the model towards the center of the room.

“Wait, don’t you need our sizes?” Cara called after them.

“I work in fashion, so I can take a good guess.” Irina replied. “You’re only getting freakishly baggy clothes anyway, so don’t worry about it.”

“You ‘rappers’ should circle around the table and start trying to memorize your lines.” Avery pushed the lyrics sheet to the center of the table before turning towards Allison. “I really hate you, but you’re going to have to help me plot out the scenes.”

“If it’ll help us win the challenge, I’ll do it.” The daredevil agreed. “We can’t lose three challenges in a row, but it’ll take all the help we can get to avoid making a total suckumentary.”

On the other side of the room, The Emmys had been provided with a summary and lyrics that illustrated a much clearer plot.

“Okay, so Victor, you’re just a regular Joe with no involvement whatsoever with the band.” Zack paraphrased from his papers. “You’re being stalked by Ophelia, who is madly in love with you. She's also the main character of the video and the singer of the band. She follows you everywhere, and you’re kind of freaked.”

“I wouldn’t run from somebody with a face like that.” Victor complimented Ophelia. “I can think of many worse people to-”

“Victor, we don’t have time for this.” Zack interjected. “Sebastian, Gabe, and Donna, you’re assigned as the bassist, guitarist, and drummer. I don’t know if we’ll use you in the storyline of the video, but I figure we can get some sweet scenes of you rocking out to splice between the plot-heavy scenes. Elena, Wes, and Minerva are left as the extras. Everyone got it?”

“Damn it.” Wes muttered under his breath, though Zack caught the outburst.

“What is it?”

“Oh, it’s just I really wanted a part.” The musician rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. “I know it’s stupid, but I was the only one who was really excited for this and now I’m stuck as an extra.”

As his teammate spoke, Gabe heard somebody hiss his name. He looked up to see Elena glowering at him from where she sat on top of a few boxes. He mouthed a confused “what?” to her, and she gestured between herself and Minerva. When Gabe failed to understand her sign language, the socialite rolled her eyes and held up the gray extra card she’d drawn from the hat. The rich kid still didn't get the message and gave her a shrug, and Elena sighed.

“Wes, I don’t think it’d be hard to get somebody to trade with you.” She gestured towards Gabe, who nodded his head.

“Oh, yeah, I’m really not into this alternative rock stuff.” Gabe held his yellow card up to Wes. “If footage of me grunged up and playing the guitar gets out, people might think I’m middle class or something.”

Wes’s face lit up. “Really?”

“Yes, really.” Gabe put on a phony smile. “You’ll just have to do me a little favor later … just a teeny tiny one.”

“It’s a deal.” The guitarist traded cards with the wealthy boy. “Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.”

“It’s my pleasure.” Gabe’s words oozed sarcasm as he raised his eyebrows at Elena, receiving a nod of approval in return.

“Now that we have that settled, let’s get back to the important things.” Zack scanned over his notes. “I think this’ll turn out the best if we film Ophelia following Victor around until he becomes paranoid. Obviously she’s obsessed, but maybe he starts to crack too? I have a bunch of ideas, but I’ll sort them out later. Monique, we’ll need an all-out costume for Ophelia, something dark for the band, and clothes for Victor and the extras too. You think you can do all that?”

“Of course I can.” Monique claimed with a proud grin. “I could put together outfits in my sleep.”

“You can work on that alone then. I don’t want to rush you, but we can’t shoot until everyone’s in costume, so you just have to make sure you have them ready in time.” The bleached blond boy instructed. “Risty, I want you to help me plan out some scenes. Ophelia, I need you to stay here and learn your lyrics. Victor, you can stay with her since we’ll need you guys in the same place whenever Monique’s ready for makeup. If the rest of you could go search for cool props, that’d be awesome.”

“Who switched you into bossy mode, robot boy?” Elena sneered.

“We all agreed that Zack is our best choice for director.” Risty defended her friend. “He’s in charge, so he calls the shots.”

“Oh, sorry,” The hotel heiress brushed her hair over her shoulder, “I didn’t know our team was captained by a dwarf.”

“He’s a little guy with a big brain, unlike you with a little brain and big ego.”

“I really don’t think I should trust your judgment. After all, out of all the people here you decided to become besties with this gremlin. Not to mention your choice of fashion – last I checked, varsity jackets were for quarterbacks. There’s no such thing as butch chic.”

“Oh, keep your bitterness to yourself.” Risty snarled. “You’re only running your mouth because we pulled a prank on you. I’m sure the viewers love the footage of you screaming your ass off over a toy truck.”

“At least I-”

“Stop it!” Zack butted in between his bickering teammates. “Look, we only have six hours for this, and I’m probably going to need to reserve at least one of them for editing the video. Subtract the time for setting up and Monique working her makeup magic and we’re probably only left with three hours or so to film this thing. The clock is ticking, so we don’t have time for fighting.”

Elena shot daggers at the technophile. “Fine. Whatever. But it’s not for you, it’s for the team.”

Confession Cam

Elena: “If Risty and Zack think this is over, it’s not. If I wasn’t set up to eliminate Minerva, I’d be kicking the partners in crime to the curb. I'll listen to that little rat just this once, but it's only because I can’t have him screw this up and make my team want to eliminate him first.” The socialite held up a finger. “I have my priorities, and getting Minerva out of here is number one.”

“So, what exactly are we looking for?”

Irina pushed the hanging clothes aside to find Camille staring innocently at her from the other side of the rack. “So far I have a few heavy sweatshirts and hats.” The model held up the items slung over her arm. “It’d be nice if we could get some ugly t-shirts or gold chains.”

“Wouldn’t gold make them look a bit too sophisticated?” The ditz pondered, tilting her head to the side.

“We don’t want elegant necklaces. We want big, obnoxious ones.” Irina held her hands out to show the size she was picturing. “I’m talking about fake gold with big dollar signs hanging off of it.”

“Oh, okay.” Camille nodded in understanding before she began to sort through a box on the floor. It had been ten minutes since they had started to search, and so far most of the clothing looked like something out of a high school drama club’s costume stash. The black-haired Oscar grimaced as she pulled some cheap costume jewelry and a prisoner's outfit from a box, looking up when she saw a few of The Emmys approaching. “Hello there!”

“Oh, hello.” Donna gave the airheaded aristocrat an awkward smile as she opened up the box beside her. Sebastian and Minerva scavenged through the clothing racks by Irina, while Wes stood off to the side holding an armful of various items that they’d collected on their way over.

Irina moved from the clothing rack to a clear plastic storage tin, tossing a prop shotgun to the ground so she could reach the clothing stuffed beneath it. “What are you guys looking for?” Irina asked the opposing team, giving a questioning glance to Gabe and Elena, who were observing from a few feet away.

“We really have no idea.” Sebastian admitted. “Zack kind of blindly sent us out here, so we’re just bringing back whatever looks good.”

“Hey, should I bring him these craft supplies?” Minerva pulled a stack of construction paper and a box of markers from where they were wedged beneath the wheel of a clothes rack. “Maybe he can write on the bedroom walls to make them look creepy?”

“Throw them in the pile.” Wes encouraged. Instead of handing the markers to her teammate, Minerva tossed the box totally off course, hitting Donna on the head.

“Oh, sorry!” The redhead rushed over to pick the box up and chuck it again. Her aim was a little better this time, but they still whacked Wes in the face, the musician unable to catch them because his hands were full. Minerva let out an airy giggle, her eyes flicking over to where Elena and Gabe lurked. “I guess my aim’s just off! I don’t know what you guys expected after seeing how bad I was in the archery challenge.”

“It’s fine.” Wes gave Minerva an uncertain look before following her gaze over towards the two upper class teens. Before he could question it any longer, Sebastian drew his attention back to the search.

“Hey, what do you think of these?”

Wes yelped when he saw the hockey goalie masks that Sebastian was holding up. “Um, those might be too creepy. I think we’re going more for psychological horror than slasher flick.”

The four Emmys migrated to a different pile of props a few feet away, leaving Irina and Camille to finish picking through the stack. When they’d accumulated a few good items, they returned to the restaurant, where they found the four “rappers” circled around a table with matching expressions of frustration.

“Oh no, what’s wrong?” Irina asked, dumping the clothing from her arms into an empty chair.

“There’s no way I can memorize all these lines.” Robert confessed. “Even without my memory problems, I think I’d still be having trouble.”

“You’ve got that right.” Angel agreed, leaning his face on the table again. “There isn’t even a good flow to the words and the song has an awful beat, which makes the lyrics ten times harder to remember.”

“Well, what if we make cue cards?” Irina proposed.

“There were only a few pieces of paper over there, and The Emmys took them all.” Camille reported.

“I’m still hung up over how we'll make me look like a man.” Cara added. “I could lip sync perfectly but nobody would believe my performance because I’m not a guy.”

“Aw, I like you just the way you are, gender and all.” Camille cooed to her roommate.

“I’ll stuff your hair under a hat and layer your clothes to make you look bulkier.” Irina held up one of the grungy sweatshirts that she’d found. “You’ll drown in these extra-large shirts, but at least it’ll hide your tininess.”

“I don’t exactly have masculine features, though.” The nature lover gestured to her face. “No matter how much makeup you put on me, I’m either going to look like a girl or a little boy.”

“We could cover it up.” Isaac pitched in. “Did you two by some freak chance see a funeral veil over there?”

Irina gasped in surprise, her face lighting up as an extravagant idea popped into her mind. “Wait, I have something better!”

“Did something I said get lost in translation?” Isaac questioned as the Russian jogged away. “Because I sure didn’t say anything useful.”

A minute later, the blonde returned with something hidden behind her back. “I have the answer to all of our problems.”

Her teammates’ expressions of misunderstanding didn’t change when she held the objects she had collected up to them: the hockey masks.

“Ooh, what could Irina have planned for those?” The camera switched over to Rachel Claire, who was sitting in a makeup chair getting her face powdered. “She’s from Russia, so I can only imagine what weird, totally European idea she has. But more importantly, how will The Oscars handle playing party boys? Will letting nice guy Zack take charge screw The Emmys over? And what the heck is up with Minerva?” She took a sip from the Styrofoam coffee cup in front of her. “Find out after this word from our sponsors on Total … Drama –” Rachel Claire suddenly spit the coffee out over the side of the chair, glaring off to the side. “I said I wanted decaf!”

The reporter pushed the makeup artist away and marched off screen, presumably to give an unsuspecting intern the talking to of his life.

Chapter Six: Secrets, Lies, and Rock 'n' Roll

Risty, you must have superpowers or something.”

“I’m actually an alien. I hide my antennae under my hair.”

“This is just … incredible.” Zack shook his head in amazement at what had once been the blank wall of the bedroom set. The inventor had tasked Risty with making it look like the room of a madwoman, and she had exceeded his expectations. The wall was now completely covered in frantic writing and doodles, courtesy of Risty, some markers, and an incredible amount of patience.

“It wasn’t that much work. I had some fun with it.” Risty tapped onto a poor drawing of a devil-like monster on the wall. “Look, I even drew an accurate portrait of Elena.”

“I know I told you to make it look ‘crazy,’ but are you sure you’re not crazy?” Zack asked, backing up to see the wall in its full glory. “You got a crap load of writing done in record time. It’s not even like you just drew scribbles either – you actually made it look real.”

“You asked me to do it, so I did it.” The curly-haired girl shrugged. “I do some crazy things for my friends.” An excited shriek sounded from behind them, and Risty and Zack turned to look at its source. “Speaking of crazy …”

“My friends, do you see this?” A beaming Ophelia scurried up to them. “I look like a piece of art!”

“You definitely look like a piece of something.” Zack retorted, though Ophelia didn’t seem to catch the negative connotation. The artist was dressed in a long white gown, which had already been dirty when her teammates found it in a box but was now completely destroyed. Lipstick stains and black smears covered the dress, matching the artist’s smudged black eye shadow and cracked crimson lips. Her pale hair stood on end, as though she had just stuck a fork into an electrical outlet, and the overall image made the oddball’s excited smile seem a bit more sinister.

Monique did a good job, don’t you think?” Ophelia asked, swaying so that her dress rippled around her bare feet.

“You could definitely pass for a stalker, so I think she succeeded.” Risty remarked, watching in confusion as the artist began to spin in circles. In the background, she spotted Victor getting out of Monique’s makeup chair and gave him a wave. “Ophelia, look, it’s Victor! Why don’t you see how he feels about your beautiful costume? He’s the guy you’re trying to impress, so his opinion’s important.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea!” The blonde skipped over to the actor, leaving Risty and Zack to snicker once she was out of earshot.

“Why’d you scare the little whacko away?” Zack questioned with a smirk.

“I didn’t think I could keep pretending I liked her outfit, so I figured I’d get her out of here before my tongue slipped.” Risty explained. “She might be a little whacko, but she’s an innocent little whacko who doesn’t need to hear anything bad.”

“That’s a pretty respectful thing to do, Miss Cooper. I’m impressed.” The technophile gestured over to Victor. “Unfortunately, I think you just sent her into the belly of the overly dramatic beast. He’ll probably pass out when he sees her.”

The pair observed as Ophelia began talking with Victor, her arms waving around rapidly as she told him a story. Unlike Zack had predicted, the actor listened to her and patiently waited for her to finish. When she was done, he gave her a smile and slid an arm around her shoulders, shooting a sneer at Zack and Risty before guiding her towards the restaurant set.

“Well, there’s a surprise.” Risty commented. “The drama king has a soft spot.”

“She probably looks like something out of one of his weird Shakespearean fantasies.” Zack walked towards the street set, motioning for Risty to follow. “Come on, I need your help with positioning spotlights.”

“I look stupid.”

“You don’t.”

“I can see the mirror, Irina. I look ridiculous.” Isaac pointed to his reflection in the vanity. “This is never going to work. Our video’s gonna be crap.”

“It will be if you keep up that attitude.” Irina teasingly pulled the hood of Isaac’s sweatshirt over his head. “Now stay put while I find more paint.”

When the model jogged away, the slacker slouched in his flimsy makeup chair and glowered at his reflection. He was dressed in a pair of jeans that sagged low enough to reveal his underwear, a pair of slightly too small bright orange sneakers, and a matching orange trucker cap with dollar signs printed on it. The sweatshirt he wore, which was too faded for him to be sure if it was originally blue or violet, hung open to reveal a white tank top and three chunky gold chains hanging around his neck. However, these gaudy items of clothing were nothing compared to the hockey mask that covered his face. The plastic had black and white vertical stripes painted onto it, which were far from straight and dripped a bit because of Irina’s surprisingly heavy hand.

“Um … Isaac? That’s you, right?”

The blond broke the glaring contest he was having with his reflection and lifted his mask to get a better look at the skinny figure approaching him. “Are you Angel or Cara?”

“Clearly Angel, amigo.” The other Oscar responded in a vaguely Hispanic accent.

Isaac let out a short laugh. “Nice try, Cara, but Angel doesn’t really have an accent.”

“Do I look like a rapper yet?” Cara pulled her hockey mask on top of her head and plopped down into the chair beside Isaac. She imitated some of the hand gestures that she’d seen Eric use, and Isaac attempted to contain his cackles, though they slipped out anyway. After feigning offense, the nature lover joined his laughter. “That’s what I thought!”

The environmentalist’s thin frame had been covered up with layers of clothing to make her appear bulkier, though the overall image looked more like she had yet to grow into her hand-me-downs. Hanging from her body were a wrinkled white t-shirt, a scarlet bubble vest, a variety of gold chains, and camouflage pants with a pair of boxers poking out of the waistband. Her hair had been stuffed under a dirty bandana, though a few brown curls were sneaking out of the sides, and her green and blue hockey mask had been painted just as sloppily as Isaac’s.

“Whose boxers did you borrow?” Isaac pointed at the plaid fabric.

Camille found them in one of the prop boxes, so I really don’t want to know.” Cara stuck out her tongue in disgust, and Isaac caught a metallic glint from inside of her mouth.

“Okay, guys, continuity error.” The troublemaker looked straight into the camera. “She definitely didn’t have braces before.”

“They’re not braces.” Cara pulled the crinkled silver material out of her mouth and held them up for Isaac. “They’re tin foil grills.”

Isaac raised a brow. “If you have a mask to cover your face, why would-”

“Hey, don’t ask me!” The brunette dropped the saliva-covered aluminum foil onto the makeup table in front of her. “It was Irina’s idea, not mine. I think she said something about close-ups?”

The slacker shook his head in disappointment, though he had his usual lopsided smirk on. “I think Irina’s lost it.”

“At least she’s trying to get us to win the challenge.”

“Yeah, but if we don’t win I’m afraid she’ll sic a Soviet bear on us.”

“ … You do realize that Irina lives in America, right?”

“Fine, then.” Isaac waved his hand dismissively. “If we don’t win she’ll sic an American bear on us.”

“Then I guess we just have to win.”

“We have no chance.”

Cara crossed her arms. “Don’t say that!”

“You know it as well as I do.” Isaac insisted. “The Emmys have this in the bag. I saw their ‘band’ walk by a few minutes ago. They're only background characters, but the three of them look ten times better than we do!”

The brown-eyed girl sighed. “Okay, you’re right, but we can at least try not to make total fools of ourselves. I even memorized some of my lines.” She cleared her throat and took a deep breath. “You’re jealous when you see me, ‘cause I’m wearin’ all the best brands, and if you gon’ insult me, you better talk to my pimp hand. All the girls are comin’ my way, all their guys wanna fight, ‘cause they know that if she leaves with me I’ll make her night.

“Wow, your lines are even worse than mine.” Isaac applauded as she struck a ridiculous pose. Irina returned with a can of paint and pulled Isaac’s mask back over his face to retouch his stripes.

“With rapping like that we’re bound to win.” The model told Cara, her tone dripping with sarcasm.

“Yeah, I know.” Cara popped her tin foil grills back in to flash her a silver-accented smile. “You’re just jealous ‘cause I’m so fly.”

Confession Cam

Isaac: “At first I thought Cara was your typical stick-up-your-butt goody two shoes … you know, like Paul. Turns out she’s kind of hilarious when she’s not ranting about saving the environment. Yeah, she a dork, but in a good way.”

Cara: She curled her upper lip up in a sneer and crossed her arms. “Word, yo.” After holding her position for a few seconds, she burst out laughing.

Back on The Emmys’ side of the room, the team was almost ready to begin shooting their video. Monique only had the extras left to dress, and she was currently scolding Gabe for refusing to wear casual clothes because they would make him look, in his words, “middle class.” Perched up on a ladder adjusting the hanging spotlights was Risty, with Zack directing her from the ground. Minerva was moving extra chairs out of the restaurant set, Elena sitting at one of the tables monitoring her every move. Sitting on the bed in the madwoman's room, Ophelia was reading over the thorough notes that Zack had provided her, while Victor had left to find a prop guitar for the “band” to play. The fake band, Wes, Sebastian, and Donna, was sitting against the wall of the blank set waiting to film.

“This is something every little musician kid dreams about.” Wes commented.

“Watching your teammate practically fall from a ladder?” Donna questioned, wincing as Risty almost lost her footing.

“No, being on the set of a music video.” The guitarist clarified. “I’ve wanted to do this since I was like five.”

“That’s cute.” One side of Donna’s mouth curled into a smile. “I used to dream about reforming the American government or flooding my neighbor’s basement.”

“I’m guessing you went through a serious teenage rebellion phase?” Wes sniggered.

“No, my neighbor was a bully and I’ve probably disapproved of organized politics since I was like seven.” When Wes’s jaw dropped, Donna let out a dry laugh. “I had a magical childhood.” She watched as Victor returned, tossing the prop guitar onto the bed beside Ophelia. “I guess this would be pretty cool for a musician. It’s as close to the real thing as you can get.”

“That’s what I figure.” The lanky teen replied. “I hope I’ll be able to make a real video someday, but this is still pretty great.”

“You do realize that this is a fake music video, right?” Sebastian asked. “As in, we’re all amateurs and it’s probably going to be awful in the end?”

“Wow, I didn’t know you were such a buzz kill.” Donna sneered.

“Hey, I’m just stating the obvious. With you two talking about your childhood dreams, one of us has to stay grounded.”

“Maybe the obvious didn’t need to be stated. You probably just crushed all of this poor boy’s hopes and aspirations.” As Donna deadpanned, Wes played along and acted out expressions of mock pain. “How will he ever pick up his guitar again now that you’ve put the idea of failure into his head?”

Sebastian rolled his eyes when Wes sighed dramatically. “You act like it’s crazy that I’m keeping my mind on the game.”

“If you’re so ‘in the game,’ why don’t you explain what’s up with Minerva?” Donna gestured in the direction of the redhead, who was speaking to Monique but stopped midsentence when Elena gave her a stern look.

“Easy.” The gambler confidently crossed his arms. “Elena’s started a poor excuse for an alliance with Gabe, probably because he’s an idiot-”

“How do you know that?” Wes interrupted.

“They had a meeting in Elena’s room last night. Her room is next door to mine, and she screams like a banshee when she’s angry.” Sebastian explained. “The two of them have a problem with Minerva and did something to make that known to her. I have no idea what that something is, but it’s effective enough that she’s freaked out. Granted, anything would freak her out.”

“But why would they have a problem with Minerva?” Wes asked. “She seems nice enough.”

His teammate shrugged. “I don’t have all the answers.”

The trio watched as Elena hissed something to Minerva. The loudmouth’s expression turned to pure fear at the socialite’s words, and even when Elena eventually turned away, Minerva was still scared stiff.

“A little to the left!”

“ … How's this?”

“A little more!”

“ … How about now?”

“That’s actually too much. Go back to the right a bit.”

Paul resisted his urge to sigh as he lightly tapped the spotlight beneath him to the right. “Is this good?”

From the ground below, Allison nodded. “Perfect! I’ll grab the ladder from Risty so you can get down.”

Allison and Avery had managed to last over a minute without threatening to kill each other and had planned out a rough outline of The Oscars’ music video. While Avery had rushed off to run various errands, Allison was left with the duty of arranging the sets to perfection. This wasn’t much of a hassle for her … for Paul, though, it was exactly the opposite.

There was only one ladder in the warehouse tall enough to reach the spotlights dangling from the ceiling, and both Paul and Risty happened to need it at the same time. Avery and Allison had indicated certain locations to be illuminated, and somehow this led to Paul scaling across long metal beams hanging stories high with one of his teammates being the only object that could cushion his fall if he stumbled. As Allison hunted down the ladder, the Boy Scout was left crouched with shaky legs and wide eyes as the lighting track swayed back and forth.

“Hey, how’s the weather up there?”

Paul jumped when he heard a voice calling up to him, but he clamped his arms around the girder before he could topple to the ground. Angel was standing below him, looking up with an amused expression.

“It’s not so great!” The do-gooder called down. “I’d much rather be down there.”

“I can tell.” Angel responded.

“Shouldn’t you be learning lines or something?”

“Nah.” The pyromaniac pointed to the hockey mask on his head. “With this thing, I don’t have to remember any of the words. Irina’s a genius.”

“Yeah, she’s definitely something.” Paul dazedly looked over to where the model was pulling a ratty gray beanie onto Robert’s head. Robert noticed him watching and gave him a very obvious wave, even when Paul signaled for him to stop. Oblivious, the footballer tapped Irina on the shoulder and pointed in their teammate’s direction. The bombshell turned and smiled at the Boy Scout, and he gave her an awkward wave before looking away in an attempt to hide his flushed face. From the ground, Angel laughed.

“I can see that blush from here, man!” He called up to his teammate. “There’s no way she missed it!”

“Maybe she’d won't notice if you didn’t announce it to the whole warehouse!” Paul hissed.

“She'd have to be blind to have not seen it.”

The all-American boy was about to come up with a reply to that, but something in the corner of the room caught his eye. He squinted in an attempt to see it clearer, but whatever was happening was too far away. He leaned down to whisper to a still cackling Angel, “Stop talking for a minute, please. Something weird is going on over there, and I don't want to attract attention.”

The Puerto Rican teen gave Paul a nod of understanding and made a motion as though he was zipping his lips. Putting his arms out to keep his balance, Paul slowly stood up on the beam. It swung back and forth in the air, but he carefully began to creep across it, trying to keep his movements precise to avoid making it sway even more. Once he was at the end of the girder, he grabbed onto the cable suspending it from the ceiling and checked out the strange sight he’d seen earlier.

There was a figure shrouded by shadows in the corner, though a hint of dark hair and a red dress led Paul to the conclusion that it was Camille. The ditz was digging through her purse while speaking into something that was pressed to her ear. Paul was too far away to be able to tell what she was saying, so he instead focused on figuring out what she was searching for in her bag. When the aristocrat pulled her hand out, an object in her palm sparkled when she brought it into the light, but before the Boy Scout could identify it the beam began to swing wildly through the air, knocking him onto his chest. He quickly wrapped his arms around the girder to brace himself as he was rocked back and forth.

“Sorry about that, Paulie!”

The beam suddenly stopped moving, and the do-gooder looked over his shoulder to see the top of the ladder leaning against it, Allison holding it steady from its base. Paul glanced downward at Angel, who was waiting for an explanation. The Boy Scout checked out the suspicious scene in the corner again, but Camille had disappeared.

“Do you need some help?” Allison shouted up to him, breaking his confused stupor.

Paul held his arms out to tell Angel he had no clue what he’d seen before getting back to his feet. “I should be good, Allison. Just hold the ladder still!”

Rachel Claire exhaled a relaxed breath and leaned back in the lawn chair that an intern had dug out of the pile of props. “Ah, this is the life.” She raised her coffee cup to her lips and slurped up the freshly made decaffeinated brew. “They pay Chris way too much for this job. This is a walk in the park.” She relished in the feeling of the warm liquid dripping down her throat, basking in her comfort … until somebody loudly cleared their throat. The reporter bolted into a sitting position, pushing her hair out of her eyes to catch her intruder.

“I can see you’re working hard.” Avery retorted, putting her hands on her hips.

“We aren’t watching the videos for another few hours.” Rachel Claire tried to wave the brunette away. “I’m not making an exception even if you’re running early, so just walk away-”

“I’m not here for that.” The drama queen interjected.

“Then why are you bothering me?!”

Avery began to walk a slow circle around the hostess’s chair, holding eye contact for as long as she could. “Rachel Claire, I understand that you’re a hardworking woman who takes pride in what she does. You are a gossip queen in finest form, and I know that you will stop at nothing to promote Real Talk-”

“RealityGossip.” The blonde corrected.

“Whatever. I know that you would do anything for your magazine readers, and you know that the reboot of the Total Drama franchise is this season’s hottest topic. You and I have both seen the crowds assembled outside of the studio to witness the program’s resurrection. Why don’t you show them some gratitude by offering these loyal gatherers an opportunity that will only show up once in a fan girl’s lifetime?”

Rachel Claire arched a well-sculpted brow. “Where are you going with this?”

“I knew you would be interested.” Avery stopped pacing directly in front of the reporter’s chair. “I need to ask a favor of you, and I knew you would only accept if it was also beneficial to you. My team’s music video calls for a party, and we don’t have nearly enough people to make it convincing. I need you to go into the crowd surrounding McLean Studios and find some girls that look like they’d fit in perfectly at a trashy party. It’ll help my team, but you can also play it off as RealityGossip doing a generous act for the fans. They’ll see you as the patron saint of cheap gossip. What do you say?”

Rachel Claire contemplated the suggestion, placing her chin in her hand. “How many people would you need?”

“About twelve.”

The hostess continued pondering for a minute before nodding. “Okay.”

“Gabe, could you turn your chair around? You’re kind of glaringly obvious.”

“That was my goal.”

“I don’t really think you understand what your job is – you’re supposed to be an extra. That means you’re a bonus part of the shot and you never have the spotlight. You’re pretty much conscious scenery.”

The rich boy scoffed. “Excuse me? If you say something like that again, I’m going to call my team of lawyers and they will sue you for humiliating me on international television.”

“Just shut up and listen to Zack, stupid.” Elena ordered.

Gabe casually tilted his chair back, balancing on its rear legs. “I know you think that just because your parents own a hotel chain you’re above all these middle-classers, but you are not above me. I am a Patterson. We own shares in businesses in every country in the world, minus the Czech Republic because of some weird insider trading business, and-”

Elena stretched her foot out and kicked at one of the still planted legs of Gabe’s chair, causing him to topple over backwards. “Well, would you look at that? You’re at rock bottom and I’m suddenly above you.” She fluttered her eyelashes down at him. “What’s the matter? Did you scuff up your shoes because you wouldn’t get into costume?”

The wealthy jerk stood back up and propped his chair back up. “Gabriel James Patterson, IV will not dress in rags!” He snarled, though he ended up turning his chair around and sitting in the position that the director had requested in the first place.

Zack was behind the camera in the center of the restaurant set, having positioned his actors all in one area to fill its small frame of vision and make the visible area of the restaurant seem full. Gabe and Elena were placed at a table in one corner of the screen with empty mugs and plates in front of them. On the other side of the frame, Minerva pretended to read a newspaper that was made from pieces of scribbled on paper that Risty had taped together. At a table alone in the center of the frame, Victor tapped his foot impatiently at Zack, as the interruptions were disturbing his “acting process.” Ophelia was perched on a chair too close behind him, her tolerance to the many disturbances the exact opposite of Victor’s. Risty, Monique, and the fake band were observing the filming from off set, Monique with a CD player on her lap.

“Everybody's in their places now?” Zack’s question was met with four nods and an exasperated groan from Victor. “Okay … action!”

Monique pressed play on the CD player and a long guitar note rang out. Victor pretended to read a menu in front of him, and Ophelia leaned over the back of the chair until her lips were just centimeters from Victor’s ear, beginning to lip sync just as the lyrics began.

It’s funny you think that we’re done, but it’s not over ‘til I say, and that’s why even when you run, I will always stay.” Just as he was instructed to do, Victor put the menu down and looked at Ophelia, though he didn’t push her away. “I don’t see why you’re suspicious, when I follow you home, you know we are forever, and I will always show.

Victor whipped his chair around so that he was facing Ophelia, and Zack clapped his hands together. “Alright, cut!” As Monique rewound the CD, Victor turned his chair back to his original position, and Ophelia exited the set.

“What’re you doing?” Donna asked when the artist sat beside her.

“What Zack told me to.” Ophelia responded. Looking back at the set, she must have been correct to move off camera, as neither Zack nor Victor questioned her absence.

“Second verse, same as the first.” Zack repositioned himself behind the camera. “Action!”

The music started up again, and Victor made the same movements as the last take, turning around to find that this time there was nobody there.

“Oh, I get it!” Wes whispered from where he sat beside Risty. “Zack’s going to put the two clips together to make Ophelia disappear whenever Victor looks for her.”

“Good job using your context clues.” Risty patted him on the shoulder. “I don’t know how he’s going to do it, but Zack said it’d be a cool effect.”

Their freckle-faced director called cut again and gave his actors two thumbs up. “That was really good! I don’t even think we’ll need a second take of that, so on to the next set!”

Confession Cam

Victor: “If you think what we’re doing out there is confusing, you should see the notes Zack wrote for Ophelia and I.” The actor held a paper up to the camera. The lyrics to "Obsession" were printed down the center of the sheet, while the margins were cluttered with dozens of notes written in tiny letters. “Each scene I’m in is filmed at least twice, and they’re out of sequence. He has every single movement blocked, and a lot of them are me interacting with someone who isn’t actually there.” The drama king mimed putting a gun to his head and shooting it. “He was so obsessed with this thing that I’m surprised he didn’t block out when I’m supposed to inhale and exhale for optimum breathing. He’s lucky I’m an actor, or he’d have just made one of his teammates quit.”

“I see that Irina trashed you up very nicely.” Avery had returned to the militaristic pacing back and forth that she’d been so fond of while leading the previous challenge. “Let’s get down to business: on this set, there are only two rules to follow.”

The fans that Rachel Claire had gathered stood in a straight line in front of the street set. The dozen girls were dressed in the minimal amount of shabby clothing, complete with raccoon eye makeup and overly styled hair. They excitedly whispered to one another, and Avery stopped pacing at the center of the group and stomped her heel down to call their attention.

“Rule number one: do not make eye contact with the camera. Only the ‘rappers’ can do that. You’re just accessories, and acknowledging the camera’s presence will both put you in the spotlight and break the fourth wall.” Avery marched down the line of fans, giving each one a stern look in the eye. “Rule number two: when you’re at the party, dance as if your life depends on it. I don’t want to see any of you wiggling your fingers and pretending to make an effort. I want to see you sweating, grinding, and dropping it like it’s hot! Am I clear?”

“Yes ma’am!” The twelve fans chorused, and Avery released half of them onto the street set. Angel, Isaac, Robert, and Cara were already lined up on the faux sidewalk with their masks pulled over their faces, and the girls crowded in around them. Avery got behind the camera, and Paul helped her align her shot. Meanwhile, Irina approached the actors with a friendly smile.

“I think most of you know what’s going on, but here’s a refresher in case you don’t.” The bombshell spoke. “The song starts off with Robert’s verse, which is going to be rapped completely on this set. Avery’s going to shoot that scene along with a few extra takes, and then we’re going to move on since we’re kind of short on time.”

“We’re ready, Irina!” Avery called to her teammate.

The model gave the four “rappers” a wink. “Good luck.”

Irina rushed off set and sat beside the CD player, and Avery called action. The music began playing and the group made its way down the sidewalk, walking much slower than they normally would to avoid running out of set. The girls bounced up and down and clung to the four Oscars, batting their lashes and pouting their lips into flirty faces. Robert led the pack, ready for his verse.

I’m the king of the street, the one they all obey, and you’ll be sorry if you get in my way. I’m the baddest guy out here, the bitches all know my name, and you can’t kick me out, 'cause I come here every day.” Though Robert didn’t know the words, his mask kept his confusion from showing. Instead, he moved his hands around in gestures that slightly matched the lyrics and flow of the music. “When I get to the party, I want a girl in my lap, no one disrespects me, nobody dares to talk crap. I’m a rich playa’, I got money in my hands, and no one’s got a problem 'cause they’re all my fans.

“Okay, cut!” Avery hollered, and the offstage Oscars clapped. The drama queen joined the applause, though with less enthusiasm. “Robert, that was good! We just need a few more shots here, so get back to your places."

Confession Cam

Robert: The jock had a huge grin spread across his face. “I’m so glad that I did well in the challenge! I thought my memory might screw me up, but the mask really helped. I guess my random hand movements were convincing enough!” He reenacted one of the aforementioned gestures, which looked a lot like a sped up Hand Jive.

The Emmys had finished filming scenes of Ophelia singing alone in the crazy bedroom set and were now onto taping shots of the band performing. Wes and Sebastian were armed with a guitar and a bass, both of which were very out of tune and missing a string or two. Donna was behind the drum set on an elevated platform in the back of the room, while Ophelia was front and center with a microphone stand. Zack pressed a few buttons on the camera and then held his hand up. “Okay, action!”

Monique started the CD, and the band pretended to play the song. Ophelia and Wes were completely into the scene, jumping around and banging their heads to the beat, while Sebastian and Donna moved as though they were playing along but had completely stoic faces on. As Zack directed the band, the non-performing members of the team sat in chairs near the vanities. Risty, Monique, and Victor were watching the filming, though Minerva was distracted with braiding her hair. When she looked up, she noticed that Elena and Gabe were staring her down and yelped.

“What’s the matter?” Elena purred, raising her voice so that her nearby teammates could hear her over the music. “Afraid they’ll find out?”

Minerva furrowed her brow. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Gabe snorted. “You’re a terrible liar – oh wait, no you aren’t. After all, you’ve been successfully lying to everyone since you got here.”

“Guys, come on.” The redhead curled up in her chair as Monique, Risty, and Victor turned to look at her. “Please just stop.”

“Stop what?” Elena taunted. “Telling the truth? I know you don’t know anything about it, but it’s not hard to be honest!”

“When you think about it, who could ever be that stupid?” Gabe insulted.

“I don’t know, maybe they just thought they’d started inviting retarded kids onto the show.” The other Emmys glared in disgust at Elena’s insult. “Just stop all this bullshit and tell them you’re a liar!”

“A fake.”

“A phony.”

“A fraud.”


“STOP IT!” Minerva shrieked so loudly that even the performing Emmys turned to look at her. Monique paused the CD, seemingly muting every noise but Minerva’s nervous breathing and the distant racket from The Oscars.

“Well, Minerva,” Elena gave her a sickly sweet smirk. “Now that you have everyone’s attention, isn’t there something you want to say?”

“Fine! I’m done with this!” The quirky redhead stood up on her chair. “I’ve been lying to you all. I’m not as stupid as I’ve been pretending to be.” The Emmys gasped, but Minerva continued with a quavering voice. “I’ve been faking it this whole time. Shooting my arrow backwards, asking stupid questions, pretending not to listen … I thought you guys would be able to tell, but it was just an act.”

“Oh, but why would you ever do that?” Gabe asked in mock shock.

The chatterbox sighed, her eyes filling with tears. She struggled to find her words for a moment, though when Elena muttered something to her the confession poured from her mouth in a jumbled stream. “It’s because I have no other notable personality traits for the fans to notice. We’re all here to be famous and nobody wants to go on a show and have nobody remember you, or to be there for a long time and never do anything interesting. I didn’t want to be the loser, I didn’t want to be … the Sadie, so I pretended to be stupid so that you guys and the fans would like me. Everyone loves the ditzy, innocent girl.” Her shoulders slumped as she hopped off of her chair, darting away from her team. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to!”

The Emmys looked after their teammate with mixed expressions. Elena and Gabe had matching satisfied smirks, while most of the others’ faces were contorted into expressions of anger or shock. Only one watched with genuine sympathy, and when they continued filming, Risty snuck away to find her roommate.

Minerva looked into the bathroom mirror and wanted to punch the pathetic reflection that she saw. Puffy reddened eyes, a runny nose, and a quivering lip returned her glare, and she looked away from this broken version of herself to avoid bursting into tears again. She unrolled some toilet paper from one of the stalls, using it to dab at her tears.

A knock on the door left her frozen mid-motion.

“Get out of here, Elena!” The loudmouth screeched, her voice breaking mid-sentence. The door opened anyway, and she tried to hide in the stall as somebody walked in.

“I’m not Elena.” Minerva peered around the corner of the stall to see Risty standing in the doorway.

“What are you doing here?” The redhead questioned. “You should be filming with the others instead of wasting your time ripping me apart. You can’t hurt me if my self-esteem has already been crushed.”

“Just relax, I’m not here for that. I don’t know about everyone else, but I saw Gabe and Elena making faces and following you all day.” Risty explained, opening the bathroom door again. “I know they forced you to say what you did. If you want to tell me what’s really going on, I’ll be waiting out here, okay?”

Risty left the room, letting the door swing shut behind her. Minerva looked at her reflection again for a long minute before she gathered enough courage to toughen up, wipe her nose one more time, and exit the bathroom. Risty was perched on top of a box waiting for her, and the chatterbox leaned on the wall beside her, sliding down to a sitting position.

“So?” Risty prompted.

Minerva fidgeted with the ends of her hair before she finally got the guts to speak. “It was the first day we were on the show, after the first challenge. Chef had brought us to The Hotel and assigned our rooms while The Oscars were at elimination, and we had to bring our luggage to our floor. Everybody else had gone upstairs already, but my bag had come unzipped. While I was picking my stuff off the ground, Elena returned to the lobby and cornered me. At first she didn’t say much, just said that it looked like I’d enjoyed talking to Helen D’Angelo. I told her that I did, and she said that we seemed like we had a lot in common.

“It was like flipping a switch. The moment I said that I had similarities with Helen, she turned from a curious teammate into a raging monster.” Minerva continued, staring at the ground as she talked to avoid seeing Risty’s reaction. “She’s shorter than me, but she was able to pin me against the wall, and I can just remember how cold her eyes were when she asked me if I was a lesbian. When I told her I was and that I wasn’t ashamed of it, she completely lost it. She called me … she called me a dyke, a rug muncher, a kitty licker – she called me things I’ve never even heard before. Who even says kitty licker?!”

The blabbermouth let out a near-hysterical laugh. “She said my roommate would be too afraid to sleep in a room with me because she’d think I was coming onto her, she said that America would hate me. She kept calling me names and shoved me, saying she thought I was disgusting and that if she was voted off before me she would make me pay when I got to the Losers’ Resort. If I even mentioned being gay on the show, she would eliminate me in the worst, most degrading way possible. She told me to be somebody else, because if I showed my true self she would get me booted off and I’d lose my chance at winning the money for my dad. She kept pushing that her family had power, so even if they seemed like empty threats, she’d be able to follow through on every single one. I don’t know how true anything she said is, but she seemed like she meant it and I was terrified, so I believed her.

“She lied, though. She found Gabe and began to plan how to eliminate me even though I’d hidden myself just like she’d asked. She was holding the fact that I’m a lesbian over my head, and I panicked. I tried to get you guys to like me so that she couldn’t get me eliminated, but I wasn’t allowed to be me and the only idea I could come up with was pretending to be dumb. Every reality show has its ditz, so I thought if I fit the stereotype you guys would keep me around, but she’d planned to eliminate me no matter what I did. I was so afraid, and even though I did exactly what she said, she still humiliated me and made me lie to all of you again.” Minerva put her face in her hands. “I’m sorry. I’m really, truly, genuinely sorry, but now I’m probably going to get eliminated without telling everybody else what really happened.”

Risty was quiet as Minerva choked out her sobs. When the redhead finally caught her breath, Risty surprised her by hopping off of the boxes and crouching in front of her. “Okay, first off, I’d never be afraid to room with you. Elena’s an idiot, because you’re a great person.”

Minerva sniffled, wiping her nose on her hand. “Th-thank you.”

“Second, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Zack’s going to make our video amazing, and we’re going to win this challenge.” The athlete put a gentle hand on her roommate’s shoulder. “You won’t have to worry about elimination, and then you can tell everyone the truth. I’m sure they’ll all believe you and forgive you.”

“You really think so?” Minerva asked.

“Definitely. There’s no way we can lose.” Risty stood up straight, smiling when Minerva got up from the floor. “Oh, and third: that stuck-up little bitch can go screw herself, because nobody deserves to be treated like that.”

Despite the tears still dripping down her face, Minerva couldn’t help but smile at that.

The time reserved for filming the videos flew by, and soon only an hour remained until Rachel Claire’s set deadline. On The Emmys’ side of the room, Zack sat alone at a table in the restaurant with the provided laptop in front of him. Claiming that he would be able to edit the video on his own, most of his teammates either went to change out of their costumes or returned to The Hotel to hunt down something to eat, though Risty had chosen to stay behind to keep her friend company.

For The Oscars, editing was much more of a group effort because none of them were particularly savvy with an editing program. Angel, Robert, and Irina had joined The Emmys in going back to The Hotel, and Camille was waiting for Cara to change out of (and hopefully destroy) her disgusting costume in the bathroom. This left Avery, Paul, Isaac, and Allison huddled around a laptop with the impossible task of making their video look a bit less horrendous. While Zack was off stealing professional editing software online to make his video a masterpiece, The Oscars had spent a good ten minutes trying to figure out how to connect the camera to the computer.

“We’re pathetic.” Allison stated.

“Hey, try to think positive.” Paul encouraged, moving the mouse around to rearrange a clip. “For all we know, this might turn out better than we expected.”

“You mean it’ll look a little more like horse crap instead of elephant crap?”

“ … If that’s your definition of ‘better,’ then yes.” The Boy Scout started to drag another clip into their video, but Isaac swatted his hand away.

“Whoa, not that one!” The blond moved the clip towards the trash can. “Let’s just delete this from the face of the earth-”

Paul shoved the troublemaker over and took command of the mouse again. “I don’t see what’s wrong with it.”

Allison and Avery gathered closer as he played to offending clip, while Isaac pouted off to the side. In the background of a scene of Angel rapping, a large-nosed fan in an ill-fitting tank top pulled Isaac aside. He danced with her for a moment before she pulled his mask up and planted a big, slobbery kiss on his mouth. They could practically hear the smack of the girl’s lips as Isaac pushed her away, and Paul, Allison, and Avery burst into cackles.

“There, you saw it, now let’s just delete that-”

Isaac tried to take control of the mouse, but Avery elbowed him away. “No way, this is the best shot we have of Angel’s part. You’re the one who decided to fraternize with somebody who drools like a dog.”

“You saw the clip! She kissed me!”

“You deserve to look ridiculous in this video after being a jerk in the last challenge.”

Isaac scowled. “Oh, I'm a jerk because I didn’t want to follow your stupid orders?”

“No, you were being a lazy ass and weren’t going to pull your weight!” The drama queen countered.

“Now you’re preaching about team spirit? At least I’m not the one who elected herself queen of the team!”

“I didn’t see you trying to lead us! Hell, I didn’t even see you do anything!”

“And how well does everything go when you’re in charge? Oh, that’s right, we haven’t won a challenge yet and we’re probably going to bomb this one too. And who’s in charge? Oh yeah, you again.”

“I … I’m not even going to waste my time responding to that because I know it’s going to get censored anyway!” Avery got up and marched away in a huff. “Come find me when you’re ready to treat me like a human being!”

When the diva stomped out of view, Isaac looked between Paul and Allison. “Do either of you want her back here?”


“Not a chance.”

“Good.” Isaac leaned back in his chair. “Maybe she’ll go off and perform a miracle so we can win.”

“Zack, you know how earlier you were saying I must have superpowers?”


“Now I can say the same thing about you. This video is amazing.” Risty watched intently as the music video ended with Ophelia vanishing from the scene. When it faded to black, she clapped despite having nobody around to join her. “I’ve literally seen high budget movies with special effects that aren’t even half as good as yours.”

“Oh, you’re just exaggerating.” Zack insisted, pressing the “Burn to DVD” button in the corner of the screen. “It’s not that good. I’ve made better.”

Risty’s jaw dropped in disbelief. “Then your ‘better’ videos must be in Academy Award territory.”

“They’re really not that great. I just have experience with this kind of thing, that’s all.” The technophile sheepishly ran a hand through his hair. “I think Rachel Claire’s going to have us present our video pretty soon, so could you go get everyone back from The Hotel while I finish this?”

The athlete gave him a grin and a salute. “Roger that!” She rushed off the set and through the warehouse's only exit.

Zack leaned his elbow on the table as he waited for his disc to finish burning, only to realize a minute later that he’d put his arm right into something wet and sticky. He examined the bottom of his arm to find a red stain on his shirt. “Ugh, who got paint on the table?” He tried to wipe it off, but it had already dried and was barely flaking off. The inventor waited for the DVD to finish before ejecting it from the computer, leaving it on the table as went to wash the paint off in the bathroom.

You’re late, and you’re late, and you’re late.” Rachel Claire put a hand on her hip. “Seriously, who told you that you were allowed to sit back to The Hotel?”

“Rachel Claire, sit down.” Chris ordered. “I take back all hosting duties when I’m here, so only I get to boss them around.”

“Whatever.” The reporter stuck her nose up as she sat in her folding metal chair. There were two rows of six chairs set up behind her for the contestants, with the ones filing in last forced to sit on the floor. Once it seemed like everybody was back in the warehouse, Chef Hatchet rolled a projector in and pointed it at the wall.

“Okay, so here’s the deal.” Chris faced the contestants. “We’re going to play each of your music videos, and then Rachel Claire and I will decide which one was better. If you lose, you’re going to elimination. If you win, however, there’s a special reward in it for you!” Chris waggled his eyebrows, though only Camille and Ophelia seemed excited, the other competitors aware of the poor prizes that had been given out in past seasons. “Oscars, I’ve just randomly decided that you’re going first.”

Paul hid his nervous expression as he approached the projector, handing his team’s DVD to Chef. By the time he sat down, the lights were flicked off and the video had already begun playing on the back wall.

An instrumental introduction was accompanied by slow motion shots of the four “rappers” putting on their masks from a back view. When the lyrics started up, the scene roughly cut to the group walking along the street. Robert rapped his verse with clips of the fans kissing him on the cheek and wrapping their arms around him scattered in between. Once Robert’s verse was done, the scene shifted to the dimly lit restaurant set, which was filled with dancing girls. Angel sat on a chair in the middle of the room rapping his verse, with Allison and Camille, who were dressed in a slightly more conservative version of the fans’ partygoer outfits, sitting on either side of him. Behind him, the fans and the other three rappers danced to the music, and Paul and Allison cracked up when they spotted the girl assaulting Isaac with her tongue in the background.

When the chorus started, the four rappers stood on the non-themed set with microphones pressed to their masks, bobbing up and down to the music as they pretended to rap the chorus in harmony. Once that was done, it switched over to Cara’s verse. She stood on a table in the party set, looking down at the camera that was angled below her. Many of the female fans were grabbing at the ends of her camouflage pants as she rapped and pretended to kick them away. She lifted her mask just enough to flash her tin foil grills before the scene changed to Isaac pretending to make out with two of the fans on the bed in the bedroom set. He rapped his verses whenever the girls weren’t all over him, much less disgusted with the kisses now that his hockey mask shielded his face from a gallon of saliva. The song finished with one more repetition of the chorus that just reused earlier footage, and then the music video faded to black.

Cara, Angel, and Isaac’s faces expressed pure mortification, though Robert was smiling and clapping his hands. Rachel Claire and Chris could only gape at the now blank screen.

“I …” Rachel Claire fished for words, but came up empty. “I really don’t know what to say.”

“Emmys, please tell me you have something better.” Chris begged. The Emmys looked around until they realized that Zack had never sat down with them. A minute later, they heard frantic footsteps heading in their direction.

“Guys, we have a problem!” The little technophile stood in between the projector and the wall, the light shining on his face to show that his eyes were wide as dinner plates. “The DVD is gone!”

“You showed me the video, so I know you have it.” Risty accused.

“No, you don’t understand!” Zack pleaded. “I left the table for less than a minute, and when I got back it was missing!”

“You lost our video?!” Elena exclaimed.

“I didn’t lose it, it just … disappeared …” Zack’s voice trailed off at the end. Even he knew how ridiculous he sounded.

“Well, since The Emmys don’t have a video to show, I guess that means The Oscars’ horrific, borderline inappropriate … whatever that was wins.” Chris announced. “I’ll show you your prize when you get back to The Hotel.”

The Oscars began to applaud, their cheers laced with complete disbelief, while The Emmys all glared at Zack.

Confession Cam

Zack: “It was on camera, you guys saw the footage! I didn’t lose the video! Somebody must’ve taken it while I wasn’t there. I just … I don’t even know who to suspect. There wasn’t anybody else around …”

“I can’t believe we lost!”

“Victor, shut up.”

“Such an amazing performance of mine, and now it’s gone to waste.”

“Victor, it doesn’t matter. It’s not like you’re going to get voted off.” Sebastian put his head in his hands, desperately wondering how his judgment had been so clouded when choosing his temporary alliance members. He had discreetly asked Victor and Monique to gather with him in the lobby, but the actor had started whining from the moment he’d arrived. Monique had to bite her tongue to keep from snapping at him, choosing instead to focus all of her attention on the fashion magazine that she’d brought with her. “We already have it figured out. We’re voting off Zack, right?”

“I told Minerva to vote with me against him.” Monique said, not taking her eyes off the magazine as she flipped the page. “She agreed to vote for anyone as long as it wasn’t her.”

“Ophelia said she wanted to vote for the same person that I did, so she’s against Zack too.” Victor hit his fist against his knee. “He’ll pay for losing my performance!”

“Five votes isn’t the majority, Sebastian.” Monique pointed out. “We need one more to get him eliminated.”

“Well, who’s left? Gabe and Elena are obviously voting for Minerva.” Sebastian started counting off their teammates on his fingers. “I asked around, and Wes told agreed to vote for Minerva to thank Gabe for switching parts with him. And Zack clearly won’t be voting for himself.”

“What about Donna?”

“She said she didn’t think it was Zack’s fault, so she refuses to eliminate him.”

Monique arched a brow. “So she’s going to vote with Elena just to tick you off?”

“Pretty much.”

“What about Risty?” Victor suggested.

Sebastian leaned on the arm of his chair. “I tried to talk to her, but she didn’t want to even think about the elimination …”

“It had to be Zack. It couldn’t have been anybody else.” Risty mumbled to herself, her voice echoing through the otherwise empty stairwell. “I don’t want to vote for Minerva because I know she doesn’t deserve it, but the only person who really screwed up today is Zack, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to stand myself if I vote for my best friend here!”

“Sounds like you’re having some trouble.” Risty turned around to see Gabe holding the door open at the top of the flight of stairs. The door swung shut behind him as stepped out onto the landing. “This could all be made easy for you.”

“Oh yeah? How?” The athlete questioned as he walked down the stairs. “By believing Elena’s lies?”

“Just vote for Minerva.” Gabe sat beside her. “Don’t think of it as listening to Elena. Think of it as voting off a liability.”

“Gabe, she told me what you guys did to her. Why should I listen to anything you say?”

“Whoa, whoa, stop right there.” The wealthy teen put his hands up. “I might not exactly be the good guy here, but I wasn’t the one who tormented Minerva. Sure, I might’ve glared at her a few times, but that was all Elena’s doing.”

“Elena manipulated her. She threatened her into doing what she wanted.” Risty reiterated. “She was tricked, so how does that make her deserve to go home?”

“Because this proves how easily she’s manipulated. From day one, she let somebody tell her what to do and was too afraid to stand up for herself. If she stays and tells everyone what happened, she’s going to be everyone’s first target if they want to use somebody.” Gabe explained. “I couldn’t care less about who she’s attracted to, but I do care that she’ll just go on to be somebody else’s puppet later in the game.”

The dark-skinned girl narrowed her eyes. “If you don’t care that she’s a lesbian and don’t want to use people, then why are you working with Elena?”

“It … it doesn’t matter, okay? What does matter is the amount of guilt you’ll spare yourself from if you vote for Minerva.”

“What do you mean?”

“Zack’s your best friend, your 'partner in crime.' Minerva’s just a gullible girl who you happen to share a room with. You can’t say it’s not going to hurt you and Zack if you choose to eliminate him over her.”

“But … Minerva doesn’t deserve it.” Risty protested. “Zack actually messed up, but Elena scared Minerva into doing what she did.”

“Yeah, and here’s a secret: Elena said that if you don’t vote with her tonight, she’s going to treat you just as badly.” Gabe got up and headed back up the stairs. “This isn’t me doing business for our alliance. This is me trying to help you avoid screwing yourself over.” He opened the hallway door and leaned his back against it. “Think about it, Risty. Hopefully you’ll make the right choice.”

The rich kid exited the stairwell and shut the door, leaving Risty alone again. She dropped her face into her hands and let out a frustrated grunt.

“Welcome, Emmys, to your first elimination ceremony!” Chris stood behind his podium on the Team’s Choice Awards stage, a pile of silver stars in one of his hands. “I’ve explained the rules, and you’ve already voted. You guys really picked a great night to be here, because the elimination method is a fun one. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the former music video queen turned basket case turned queen of pop, Miss Whitney Steers?”

“Heard of her? I’ve met her.” Elena bragged.

“Well, the ‘Smack Me Honey a Few More Times’ and ‘If U Want Amy’ songstress is here with us tonight!” Squealing its tires, an SUV skidded over the curb at the end of the Red Carpet of Shame and lurched into park, its passenger side door swinging open. From the driver’s seat, Whitney Steers gave everyone a wave before taking a swig of what the contestants hoped was soda out of a wine glass. “You all remember that scandal she was involved with a few years ago? No, I’m not talking about the hysterical head shaving. I mean the time she was caught driving with her unrestrained baby on her lap? Well, whoever gets voted off will be taking the place of the baby.”

A gasp ran through The Emmys, and Whitney Steers giggled. “Oh, don’t y’all worry! He turned out just fine!”

Sure he did.” Chris let out a dry laugh as he held up one of the stars in his hand. “The first silver star of the night goes to … Ophelia.” He tossed the star to the artist, who caught it with an excited squeal. “The next one’s for Victor.”

The actor caught his star and then held it out in front of him. “I would cheer, but I am still in mourning over the loss of my performance.”

“Dude, just because your DVD is gone doesn’t mean the cameramen didn’t tape it.” Chris rolled his eyes. “Risty and Monique, you’re safe too.” The designer caught her star with ease, though the talented athlete was distracted and missed hers. “The next ones are for Wes, Sebastian, and Donna … and Elena and Gabe, which just leaves you two.”

Predictably, it was Minerva and Zack who were left without stars. They both were shaking in fear, clearly unsure which of them deserved to be eliminated more. “The final star tonight goes to …


Minerva’s jaw dropped in shock when the star was thrown to her. The redhead stared at her token of safety for a moment before getting up to give Zack a hug. “I’m sorry it had to be you. You were really cool!”

“It’s okay.” The technophile patted the motor mouth on the back. “I only voted for you to try to save myself. I wasn’t mad at you for lying at all, and you were a lot of fun.” When Minerva finally released Zack, he walked to the edge of the Red Carpet of Shame with his head held high. He turned around to look at his team one last time. “I know you probably won’t believe me, but our music video was stolen. I hope you come to your senses and try to find out who the thief was.” He walked to the end of the carpet, pausing in front of the open SUV door to glance one more time at Risty. He gave her a bright smile, but she looked away, knocking the happiness from his expression.

“Come here you!” Whitney Steers reached for Zack, and the inventor left all of his dignity behind to climb into the car with her. Whitney slid her chair back to make room for him, yanking him over the center console to force him to sit on her lap. Without even shutting the door, she stepped on the gas pedal and the car zoomed off.

“Damn it, this thing only gets like ten channels!”

“It’s better than nothing. Pass the popcorn?”

As promised, when The Oscars returned to The Hotel they were given their reward: the door at the end of the third floor had been unlocked to reveal a lounge. The room had a small television and a couch against its side wall, with a kitchenette taking up the other half of the room. The kitchenette was complete with a couple cabinets, a microwave, and a mini fridge that was fully stocked with snacks. The Oscars had shoved as many people as they could onto the couch, while the rest sat on the floor or in chairs that they’d dragged in from their rooms.

“Even if it was by mistake, I’m so glad we won!” Robert exclaimed from his spot in the center of the couch. His teammates cheered around him, Camille accidentally knocking a bowl of chips onto the floor with her elbow.

“Oops, I’ll refill it!” The dark-haired girl dislodged herself from the packed couch and scraped the fallen chips into her arms. She skipped over to the kitchenette and dumped the dirty food into the trash. When she reached over to open another bag of chips, something on the counter caught her eye. “Hey, did somebody lose a CD?”

Camille returned to her teammates and showed them the CD case she had found. Nobody claimed it, so she handed it over to Cara to examine. The nature lover popped the CD out of the case to find that its cover was blank except for two hand-written words. “It says ‘Play Me.’”

The environmentalist inserted the disc into the slot on the bottom of the television. The commercial airing immediately changed to show a restaurant scene, with a pair of familiar faces in the center of the screen.

“Is that … Victor and Ophelia?”

It wasn’t until the song started to play that The Oscars realized what they had in front of them.

It was The Emmys’ music video.

Zack had been framed.

Episode Four: Safest Catch

Chapter Seven: Don't Rock the Boat
Episode 4 Title Card

Updated: June 20, 2014

“Last time on Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment, the drama level was cranked up to eleven for our music video themed challenge.” Chris jumped as thunder crackled outside. “Risty and Zack became partners in crime, Allison and Avery ticked off the entire hotel, and Elena and Gabe ‘strategized’ for their alliance … that is, if relentlessly mocking their teammate counts as a strategy.

“For the challenge, The Emmys went Goth for their music video, while The Oscars went … um, I guess you could call it white trash? Irina was thinking quickly when she covered her actors’ faces with masks, sparing them from memorizing their lyrics. Speaking of Irina, when Paul was admiring her from afar, he spotted Camille doing something suspicious in the corner of the room. Meanwhile, Gabe and Elena pestered Minerva into telling her team that she'd been faking her cluelessness to get the fans to like her. Risty smelled something fishy and hunted Minerva down for an explanation.

“When it was time to present the videos, The Oscars made everybody very uncomfortable with their hip-hop monstrosity, but they won by default when Zack revealed that he’d lost the disc with The Emmys’ video on it. The team was split between sending home Zack or Minerva, and it was Zack’s best buddy Risty who cast the surprise swing vote to send the little guy home. Back at The Hotel, The Oscars found The Emmys’ lost video in their lounge, proving a few minutes too late that this season’s first shocker elimination had been a mistake.” Lightning flashed outside of the windows behind Chris, and the host smirked as thunder boomed. “Well, looks like our competitors will be getting drenched in today’s challenge. With one fan favorite gone already, can the eliminations get any more dramatic? You’ll have to see on this episode of Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

“You’re probably wondering why I asked you two to come down here.”

“Are you trying to make an alliance?”

“No way. Those things never hold up at this point in the game.” Allison rolled her eyes and opened a notebook on her lap. “I wanted to talk to you guys about the stolen music video.”

A pajama-clad Allison, Paul, and Angel sat on the floor in the lobby of The Hotel. At dinner, the daredevil had asked the do-gooder and pyromaniac to meet with her in private, and the lobby had been her best idea for a discreet location. The fountain in the center of the room shut off after nine o’clock, so the room was silent enough that they would be able to hear the echo of footsteps if another player were to try to listen in. The pouring rain had brought a sudden chill to McLean Studios, so if anybody questioned what the three Oscars were doing, they could claim that they were just using the fireplace to get warm.

“What’s there to talk about?” Angel asked. “We all agreed that night that it was obvious Elena planted the DVD in our room. The issue’s dropped.”

“But we can’t drop it yet! If you think about it, that makes absolutely zero sense.” Allison countered. “I don’t think Elena’s smart enough to figure out how to steal the video without being seen. She’s even louder than Avery, so I doubt she’d be able to sneak it into our lounge.”

“Maybe she’s smarter than we think.” Paul suggested. “We don’t know her that well. For all we know, she’s a genius.”

“Okay, but even if she is a genius, she didn’t know about our team winning the lounge, did she?” The scarlet-haired girl pointed out. “The Emmys weren’t there when the door was unlocked, so Elena didn’t even know at the time that the lounge existed.”

Angel and Paul exchanged a look of surprise. “If it wasn’t her, then who did it?”

“Let me lay out the facts for you guys.” Allison turned her notebook towards them to reveal that she had written down the names of all of the competitors still left in the game, separated by team into two columns. Paul’s, Isaac’s, and her names had been crossed out. “Zack was on one of The Emmys’ sets when the video was stolen. Angel, you went back to The Hotel to get food. Who’d you go with?”

“Irina and Robert.” The pyromaniac stated.

Allison crossed Angel’s, Irina’s, and Robert’s names off of the list. “And who else do you remember seeing in the cafeteria?”

Angel pursed his lips in thought for a moment. “The Emmys’ table was pretty much full, so I think they were all there except for Zack … oh, and Risty! She came in later to get all of us.”

“You’re sure? Even Elena was there?”

“Now that you mention it, I’m positive she was there because she and Gabe had started an argument with Monique.” The Puerto Rican confirmed.

Allison scratched the names of nine of The Emmys from her page, leaving only Risty’s remaining in the column. “That means that they all have an alibi. They were all at The Hotel, and Zack never left the warehouse. I had a clear view of the warehouse’s only door from where I was sitting, so if somebody tried to sneak their way in I would’ve saw them. The only person I saw leave in that hour was Risty, and I think we can all agree that it wasn’t her.”

“Then there’s no way it could’ve been Elena!” Angel exclaimed.

“But if it wasn’t her, then it must’ve been somebody from our team.” Paul furrowed his brow. “I really don’t think any of us would do that. Why would they randomly eliminate Zack?”

“First we need the who, and then we can get the why.” The punk declared. “You and I were editing the video with Isaac on our side of the warehouse. The three of us sat at that table for the whole hour, so we would’ve noticed if one of us slipped away. Avery, however, stomped off and wasn’t seen again until we showed our videos, so she’s still a possible suspect.” She circled the drama queen’s name several times. “The only others left unaccounted for are Cara and Camille, but I’m pretty sure they were in the bathroom the whole time trashing Cara’s costume.” Allison pointed the end of her pen at Avery’s name. “The facts are all there, boys.”

Paul still looked uncertain, his eyes scanning over the page of names again. “We’re supposed to believe you’re blaming Avery because she was left over after using process of elimination … and not because you completely hate her?”

“The evidence is right here, Paulie.” The daredevil tapped the notebook several times. “She’s the only real suspect!”

“She’s right, man.” Angel agreed. “Unless we have some way to prove one of The Emmys wasn’t in The Hotel, all signs point to Avery.”

Paul sighed. “Listen, I know you don’t like her, but it just doesn’t make sense. Why would she want to set up Zack?”

“So we would win a challenge that she was in charge of.” Allison explained. “You saw how pissed she got when Isaac said she was a bad leader. She just wanted The Emmys to lose and didn’t care who she had to throw under the bus to make it happen.”

“What are we supposed to do about this?” Angel asked when Paul crossed his arms instead of answering. “Should we tell everyone and get her voted off the next time we lose?”

The scarlet-haired girl could practically feel the waves of uncertainty radiating from Paul. “I know Paul would feel a lot better if we had more evidence against her, and I’m sure there’re other people on the team who would feel the same. We’ll have to keep an eye on Avery so we can catch her doing something like this before it happens, and then we can take it to the team.” Allison glanced over at Paul, whose stiff posture visibly relaxed. “All that matters now is that we know the truth: we can’t trust Avery.”

It was pitch black in Room 206 when Minerva pushed open the door, save for the dim glow of the digital clock on the nightstand. The redhead had a smile on her face as she flicked the light switch on, but her jaw dropped in surprise when she noticed that she wasn’t alone. Risty was sprawled on her bed silently staring up at the ceiling, her hair splayed out like a dark halo around her. Even though she seemed completely unaware that Minerva had even arrived, the loudmouth gave her roommate a weak smile.

“Oh, um, hey Risty.” She awkwardly greeted, stepping over a pile of clothing that had been left on the ground. “I had no idea you were still in here. Monique and I were actually just looking for you.”

“Oh.” Risty droned, her mind clearly somewhere else. Minerva sat on her own bed, frowning at her dejected roommate.

“You’ve been moping around like this for two or three days now.” She commented. “This is because of Zack, isn’t it?” Risty refused to answer, covering her face with her forearms as she groaned in frustration. “You voted for him, didn’t you? And now you feel guilty?”

From beneath her arms, the athlete nodded her head. “How’d you guess?”

“Monique and I were actually just talking about it – not that we were talking about you behind your back or anything! We just were trying to figure out how I wasn’t eliminated and thought you might’ve been the deciding vote.” Risty nodded again, and her roommate rested her chin on the heel of her hand. “Why’d you vote for him if you knew you’d feel this bad about it?”

“Because I’d probably feel ten times worse if I voted for you.” The jock anxiously ran her hands through her hair. “Even though you barely know me, you totally spilled your guts to me during the challenge. I’d have to be heartless to eliminate you after I heard why you acted the way you did, so I couldn’t, even if it meant that the only person who deserved a vote was Zack.”

“Well, I’m really grateful that you gave me a chance and kept me around, but you could’ve just voted for somebody totally different and left it up to a tiebreaker.”

“I’m not going to waste my vote.” Risty declared. “I only vote for the people who deserve it just in case Chris has a twist planned for the elimination. I don’t want to be responsible for sending someone home because of some cheap trick.”

“Oh, that’s smart.” Risty continued gazing up at the ceiling, and Minerva swung her legs back and forth as she pondered how to get her to cheer up. “You know what’ll totally lighten your mood? Girl talk.”

“Ugh, I think you’ve got the wrong girl for this.” The athlete moaned, rolling over to face away from her teammate.

“No, I’ve got something that’ll keep you interested!” The chatterbox placed her hands on her knees, excitedly leaning towards the other contestant. “I think Zack totally had a crush on you!”

Risty didn’t respond for a moment, her expression concealed from Minerva’s view because she had turned over. After a minute, the jock peered over her shoulder. “ … What makes you say that?”

“Oh my god, it was so obvious! He’s clung to you since the minute you were put on the same team, and he practically had hearts in his eyes when you stole the Chris Bot paper from him! Seriously, when you chose to hang out with him, I’m surprised he didn’t propose to you!”

“I really didn’t see any of that.” Risty turned to face Minerva again. “He was just a friend.”

“That’s what they all say.”

“No, for real, it was nothing like that.”

“Then how about anyone else here?”

The athlete smirked as she sat up, shaking her hair out even though lying down had barely flattened it. “You think you can find a good contender for me?”

“Oh, I totally can!” Minerva excitedly knocked her heels together. “Boys only?”

Risty chuckled. “Boys only.”

“Um … how about Wes?”

“He’s too sweet and seems kind of naïve, and that’s not really my type.”

“Oh, so you want somebody super macho then?” The blabbermouth pretended to flex her arms on the word ‘macho.’ “How about Sebastian?”

“He seems nice enough, but there’s something about him that’s just a little … I don’t know, off. It’s like he’s always planning something, so he’s really suspicious.”

“Okay, um … how about Victor?”

Risty cocked a brow. “Didn’t you say you were thinking of someone macho?” She and Minerva burst into giggles at that. “His Shakespeare quotes make me flashback to my lame ninth grade English class. It’s a total turnoff. Plus, I think Ophelia has a claim on him.”

“Too afraid she’s actually as wacky as Chris said?” Minerva asked.

“Pretty much.” The dark-skinned girl made a beckoning gesture with her hand. “Come on, keep ‘em coming.”

“Um …” The redhead drummed her fingers against her knee in thought. “ … Gabe?”

Risty gave her an offended stare before she and Minerva burst into cackles. When the athlete doubled over with laughter, Minerva’s smile grew, knowing that she’d succeeded in getting her mind off of the elimination.

Confession Cam

Minerva: “As bad as I feel that Risty had to eliminate Zack, I’m just so glad it wasn’t me. It feels like my team gave me a second chance, and the longer they have me around, the more they’ll realize that I’m a really good friend. I won’t be faking anything now, no matter what Elena or anybody says! This time, I’m one hundred percent Minerva.”

The thunderstorm raged on through the night, and when morning came the sun was obscured by the dark clouds. Rain pounded on the roof of The Hotel, and if anybody dared to draw back their curtains they were greeted with a waterfall running down the windowpane.

“If Chris makes us do a challenge today, I’m kicking my soccer ball right into his face.” Risty groaned as thunder crackled overhead.

“You know he’s going to.” Minerva replied with a grin, obviously much more of a morning person than her roommate. “Actually, he was probably waiting for it to rain just so we’d suffer more.”

“I have no idea how you just said that with a smile.”

“It’s a hidden talent I have.”

Risty gave her roommate a curt laugh as she held open the door to the cafeteria, Minerva perkily trotting through it. The pair had been awoken early when the harsh wind had blown a stray clapboard against their window, so they had decided to go down to make breakfast for their fellow contestants. To their surprise, when they entered the cafeteria they could hear pans cluttering around in the kitchen and Camille’s voice asking a dozen questions drifting from the food window. Having been relieved of their duties, the two girls walked over to wait at The Emmys’ table only to find that two of their teammates were already there.

Minerva and Risty stared in confusion at Wes and Donna. They were fast asleep in chairs beside each other, the smart aleck with her face on the table and the musician with his head tilted back and his mouth wide open. Even when the two girls noisily pulled chairs out and sat down, neither player even stirred.

“Um, hello? Earth to Donna and Wes?” Minerva waved her arm in front of her teammates. “Heeeellloooo? Can you hear me?” The redhead turned to Risty with wide eyes. “I think they’re dead!”

“Watch and learn, Minerva.” Risty rapidly banged her fist on the table just inches from Donna’s face. The brunette screeched and sat up immediately, looking frantically around the room even though her hair covered her face.

“What’s going on?!” She pushed her hair back, revealing dark rings shadowing her blue eyes. “What just happened?”

“You were asleep.” Risty gestured towards Wes. “He still is.”

Donna stared at her for a few seconds, blinking several times as her drowsy mind struggled to comprehend what her teammate had just said. Eventually, she was able to process the information and leaned over to shake Wes’s shoulder. “Hey, wake up.” The guitarist didn’t respond, his head rolling slightly to the side, so she shook his shoulder a bit harder. “Wake up!”

“Huh, what?” Wes slowly picked his head up, stretching his arms and groggily looking around the room. When he realized he was in the cafeteria, he turned to Donna. “I thought you said you weren’t going to let me fall asleep.”

You let me fall asleep.” The brunette argued.

“No, I-” Wes interrupted his own sentence with a yawn, which Donna soon copied.

“Okay, sleeping beauties, it doesn’t matter who let who fall asleep.” Risty looked between her two exhausted teammates. “Why were you napping here in the first place?”

“Because there’s no way anybody could sleep in either of our rooms.” Donna snapped. “There’s this disgusting noise keeping me awake through the walls. The second I close my eyes, all I can hear is this hideous scraping and slobbering.”

Risty grimaced. “I’m probably going to regret saying this, but could you maybe go into a little more detail?”

“I’m surprised you can’t hear it from your room.” The pale-skinned girl said. “I’d compare it to a chainsaw, except ten times louder and probably trying to cut through cement.”

When Risty and Minerva clearly didn’t catch on, Wes sighed. “Victor snores. Loudly.”

“‘Loudly’ is a massive understatement.” Donna continued. “It’s not just the typical sawing logs. It’s snorting and slurping and growling, like he’s try to eat his own face or something.”

“Try sleeping in the same room as him. As if it couldn’t get any worse, he sings in the shower late at night too.” Wes whined. “For some reason, he just refuses to take a shower at a normal time. No, it gets to like midnight and suddenly it’s impossible to sleep because he’s belting ‘Let’s do the time warp again!’ at the top of his lungs.”

“What about Ophelia?” Minerva asked. “She’s your roommate, right? She has to hear it too?”

“Ophelia has a crush on Victor, so she thinks it’s cute.” Donna rolled her eyes. “As nice as she is, that girl would probably think road kill was cute. I think she just-”

“Good morning, everybody!” The four Emmys turned towards the entrance of the cafeteria, where Victor and Ophelia stood with their arms linked. Looking much more refreshed and alive than their roommates, they pranced over to sit on either side of Donna and Wes. Victor gave them a look of disgust. “You two don’t look so good.”

“I wonder why.” Wes groaned, and Donna dropped her head back down onto the table.

Confession Cam

Wes: “If you thought the cafeteria was bad, you should see where else I’ve tried. The first time Victor started, I slept in the lobby, but a few cameramen showed up at the info desk and kicked me out. Then I tried the stairwell, which was a really stupid move on my part. My room’s the last one in the hall, so I could still hear him snoring.” The guitarist paused to yawn, leaning against the wall beside him. “The next night, I tried to sneak out to sleep on one of the sets, but security guards caught me as soon as I left The Hotel. Then, I asked Sebastian if I could use Zack’s empty bed, but he just laughed and closed the door on me.”

He rested his head on the wall and tried to stretch his long legs out, though he ran out of room and had to prop them up on the opposite wall. “Eventually, I found Donna sitting in the hall with the same problem, so we figured two heads are better than one in the hunt for a Victor-free place to sleep. I think Victor and I could be considered friends, but I don’t think he realizes that the things he does affect other people too … actually, maybe he knows it and is too self-absorbed to care. Either is possible.” Wes shrugged and then closed his eyes. After a minute, his breathing became heavier and his head fell to rest his chin against his chest.

The video fast-forwarded, though the only sign of movement in the confessional was Wes adjusting in his sleep. When the tape played at normal speed again, somebody was pounding on the door.

“Hey, who’s in there?!” The banging continued. “Come on, whoever you are, you’ve been in there forever! Let someone else use the confessional, camera hog!” The door handle jiggled, and Wes finally stirred awake. He pushed his bangs out of his face and eyed the door in confusion. “If somebody’s making out in there, put it back in your pants and take your country matters elsewhere!”

Recognizing the voice, Wes sighed and looked up at the camera. “I hate to say ‘I told you so,’ but …” He reached over and unlocked the door, and Victor barged into the confessional.

“Oh, it’s just you.” The actor pointed at the door. “Get out, it’s my turn.”

Victor: When his roommate shuffled out of the confessional, Victor kicked the door shut behind him. “I can’t even imagine what someone as boring as him could’ve been ranting about in here for so long. While we’re on the topic, can we talk about the fact that he disappears every night? I’m guessing he’s an insomniac or something, though I have no idea how. I don’t know about him, but my mattress is so soft that I’ve probably slept better in this last week than I have in years!”

As the cafeteria filled up, Cara and Camille had finally made enough food to start serving waffles to the other competitors. The rain continued beating against the windows, and the storm caused the power to flicker a few times, though it always managed to flash back on a few minutes later.

“Hello, Camille.” Sebastian greeted the aristocrat when he reached the front of the breakfast line.

“Oh, good morning, Sebastian.” She replied, pleased that somebody had greeted her rather than just held out their plate.

“I’m not sure ‘good’ is the right word for the weather right now.” Sebastian gestured towards the window just as a bolt of lightning flashed, thunder crashing a few seconds later.

“I’m just happy that we’re in here instead of out there.” The dark-haired girl commented. “My family actually has a maid whose designated job is to hold my umbrella when I go outside, but Chris told me I couldn’t bring her on the show.”

“Aw, that’s too bad.” Sebastian gave her a sympathetic grin that was faker than Rachel Claire’s veneers. When Camille scooped waffles onto his plate, he cut a piece off of one with the side of his fork and examined it. “These are a little dark. Don’t you have some that aren’t burned?”

“Oh, they’re not burned, they’re whole wheat. Cara says they’re better for you.”

“I see.” The gambler dissected the waffle a bit more. “And what exactly are the greenish spots?”

The dark-haired girl shrugged. “I didn’t ask. I’m pretty sure it’s something vegetarian. Maybe kale or quinoa?”

“Aren’t waffles already vegetarian?”

She tilted her head in confusion. “Wait … what are waffles made of?”

“Never mind.” Sebastian peered over the counter at the fridge and then gave Camille a charmer’s smile. “Why is a girl like you trapped back there? You grew up in the lap of luxury, didn’t you? You don’t belong slaving away in the kitchen.”

“I told Cara I’d help her out.” Camille looked over at her friend, who was making another batch of waffles. “I want to feel more like other teenagers, and she said cooking would be a good learning experience for me.”

“Well, she didn’t even tell you what’s in the waffles, so how much have you actually learned?” When the wealthy girl was unable to answer, the card-player shook his head. “Just as I suspected. Cara’s too busy cooking to be able to teach you anything.”

“Well, she’s doing a lot of work.” The ditz bit her lipstick-coated lower lip. “I really just want to do a good job.”

“Here, I’ll give you a tip.” Sebastian motioned for her to lean closer. “If anybody asks about the green specks, don’t say it’s quinoa or kale. Nobody wants to eat any of that rabbit food, we want something real, so say it’s green apple or strawberry.”

“But strawberries aren’t green.”

Ripe strawberries aren’t green, but we middle class people can’t afford the best. Sometimes we have to eat the green ones because the red ones are too expensive.”

Camille’s dark eyes widened with excitement. “Really? I didn’t know that!”

“See? Now you’re learning.” The gambler grinned. “Oh, and one more thing before I leave: if somebody that you think deserves something special comes up here, you should give them a bonus to make their food even better. Like I know there’re some blueberries or even some real strawberries in the refrigerator that would taste great on top of waffles.”

“Okay, but …” The aristocrat lowered her voice. “How do I choose who deserves the real fruit?”

“Well, there isn’t enough in there for everyone, so choose wisely. Only give it to people who are really good and have done something nice for you.”

“Oh, I understand. Thank you.” Camille gasped in realization and then held up a finger. “Wait here for a moment!” She scurried over to the refrigerator, and Sebastian leaned against the counter with a smirk of satisfaction. The ditz returned with the box of strawberries and dumped a few on top of Sebastian’s waffles. “This is for taking the time to give me advice.”

“Oh, for me? I’m flattered.” The broad-shouldered teen picked up his plate and gave her a grateful grin. “Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome!” Sebastian slid over to pour himself some juice, and Gabe approached the counter. Camille greeted him with a friendly smile as she placed two waffles on his plate. “Good morning, Gabe.”

The bushy-haired boy looked between his plate and Sebastian’s. “I’d like some strawberries on mine.”

“Oh, sorry, we don’t have enough left.” Camille hid the strawberry box under the counter. “But if you look in your waffle, you’ll see there’re some already in it. I don’t know if you know this since you’re rich too, but poor people actually eat green strawberries …”

Sebastian sniggered to himself as he strolled over to claim a seat at The Emmys’ table, passing by a grumpy Avery in the process. The drama queen was fluffing her hair in her reflection in a fork, grunting when it failed to hold any volume.

“Ugh, I hate rainy days.” The olive-skinned girl whined, collapsing into the open chair beside Irina. “The humidity always makes my hair go flat.”

“Looks the same to me.” Isaac remarked through a mouthful of waffle.

Avery glared across the table at him. “I’m still waiting for an apology from you.”

“For what?”

“Oh, don’t play dumb.” The Jersey girl rolled her eyes, though Isaac genuinely looked like he had no idea what she was talking about. “I know you remember what you said to me when we were editing the video. I was very offended.”

“Really? I couldn’t tell.” Isaac deadpanned.

“Why else would I have stomped away? I was emotionally hurt. I thought one of you would come after me, but nobody cared enough to get me.”

“Can you blame us?” The slacker shoved another piece of food into his mouth, though he couldn’t ignore Avery’s burning stare. He sighed in defeat. “Fine. I’m sorry.”

The diva continued to glower for a minute, though it was soon replaced with a content smile. “Thank you.”

“Great. Now that that’s taken care of, I’m going to see if they have soda in the kitchen.” Isaac left the table with his glass, and Avery plucked the uneaten waffle from his plate.

“I don’t understand why you care what he says.” Irina commented once the troublemaker was out of earshot. “He’s been a jerk to you the whole time we’ve been here.”

“I’ve made this point before and I’ll keep making it.” The brunette declared. “Nobody gets away with ignoring or disrespecting me, not even meaningless slackers.”

Irina gave her a sly grin. “You’re sure you don’t just like him?”

Avery snorted. “Oh, no way! I’ll admit he’s attractive for a guy who probably hasn’t changed his jeans in years, but there’s no way I could have feelings for someone who treats me like that.”

“Hey, I was just double checking.” The Russian shrugged. “Situations like that are really common on this show.”

“Well, it’s not going to happen here.” The drama queen took an assertive bite of her stolen waffle. “He can trick some other sap into falling in love with him.”

Back at the food counter, the line had drastically shortened. Camille was placing a waffle on Wes’s plate when Isaac bumped the lanky boy aside and held his empty glass out to her.

“Hit me up with something carbonated, will you?”

“Are waffles carbonated?” Camille glanced down at where Wes had fallen on the ground, only to find that he lacked the energy to get back up and had made himself comfortable on the floor.

“No, but soda is.” Isaac shook his glass at her.

The confusion was obvious in the puckering of her scarlet lips. “What does that have to do with waffles?”

The slacker groaned. “I’m looking for soda. Do you have some back there?”

Camille giggled. “Oh, I’m sorry, but we’re only giving out breakfast drinks right now. You know: orange juice, milk, water?”

“I know what you’re giving out, but that’s not what I’m looking for.”

“Soda’s bad for you, and I don’t think it’d taste very good with waffles.”

The ditz gave the underachiever a beautiful smile, which he returned with a sigh. “Can I just talk to Cara, please?”

Camille called her roommate over from where she was washing a spatula. The tree hugger dried her hands and took the aristocrat’s spot at the counter, beaming at Isaac. “What’s up?”

“I’m looking for some soda, and your airheaded roomie won’t give me any.”

“She’s not airhe-” Cara glanced over her shoulder at Camille, who was squirting dish soap onto the already clean dishes, and chose not to finish her sentence. “You want soda with your waffles?”

“Yes, I want soda with my waffles.” Isaac repeated. “Camille already gave me the bad for my health speech, so don’t bothering going there.”

“Well … maybe I can find you some.” The environmentalist confiscated the dish soap from a bubble-covered Camille before she leaned over to dig through the refrigerator. Some items fell off of the door when she opened it, and she picked up a two liter soda bottle before it could roll across the kitchen.

When Cara hoisted it up onto the counter, Isaac pointed at the layer of fizz gathering on top of the liquid. “Um, you’re sure you want to open that one?”

“Oh, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Cara unscrewed the cap, and the bottle emitted a loud hiss before bursting into a geyser of fizz. They tried to jump back from the stream, but the nature lover and underachiever were showered with soda. The entire cafeteria went silent, all eyes on the pair of Oscars. When the bottle eventually emptied itself, it rolled off the counter, rudely awakening Wes by landing on his head. Isaac and Cara met eyes before erupting with laughter.

“Told you so!” Isaac teased, lifting his glass to her. He had managed to catch a bit of the soda spray, and he downed the liquid like a shot. He put the empty glass on the counter and gave the tree hugger a smirk. "That was worth it.”

Cara’s amused tittering was cut short by the cafeteria door slamming open. Chris McLean entered the room dressed in a bright yellow rain slicker and galoshes.

“What time is it?!” He bellowed.

“About ten o’clock.” Paul responded.

“Wrong! It’s challenge time!” Chris cracked up at the chorus of whines he received. “Wait, I didn’t get to the best part – you’ll need your bathing suits for this one!” The complaints only grew louder.

Twenty minutes later, the contestants had changed into their swimsuits and were gathered in the lobby. A couple had brought umbrellas to protect them from the rain, though most had chosen to brave the storm unprotected … Paul, however, was another story.

“I don’t know if you realize this, but there’s a trash bag trying to eat you.” Robert commented.

“It’s not a trash bag, it’s a poncho.” The Boy Scout crossed his arms over the slick, grayish green material that covered him from his head to his knees. “The Boy Scout motto is ‘be prepared,’ so I packed a survival kit in my luggage. This was in it.”

“You’re sure it wasn’t supposed to be a fire safety blanket?” Robert joked.

“No, it’s definitely a poncho.” Paul insisted. “I left the fire safety blanket up in my room.”

“Hey, look at the walking/talking tent.” Isaac cackled when he and Angel passed by.

Angel good-naturedly elbowed Paul in the side. “Chris said to change into your bathing suit, not your sleeping bag.”

“That tarp might really help us cover the floor in our ‘paint Chef’s garage’ challenge!” Isaac clapped a hand on Paul’s back. “Good thinking, man!”

“It’s not a tarp, it’s a poncho!” Paul shouted as they sauntered away. “You guys won’t be laughing when you’re soaking wet!”

“Aren’t bathing suits supposed to get wet?” Robert muttered.

Paul shushed his teammate. “Don’t ruin my argument.”

“Shut up, dudes, it’s the important person’s turn to talk!” Chris climbed up on one of the armchairs and waited for the room to quiet down. When the chatter lowered to a dull roar, he opened up a bright orange umbrella in front of him.

“What are you doing?!” Ophelia shrieked. “Opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck!”

“If bad luck wants me, it’ll have to go through my agent first.” The host chucked. “Anyway, we’re going to have to walk a while to get to your challenge site, but the rain’s pretty brutal out there. If by some chance you can’t find me, look out for this.” He pressed a button on the umbrella’s handle and a small light beamed out from its center.

“And why did we need to be in our bathing suits for this?” Monique asked.

“You’ll find out soon enough.” Chris hopped down from the chair and pulled his jacket’s hood up, carefully maneuvering it so that it wouldn’t mess up his hair. Holding his umbrella safely over his head, he pushed open the double doors. “Let’s move out!”

Confession Cam

Monique: “You see, when normal people tell me to get in my bikini, it’s because we’re going in the pool or they just want to sneak a peek at my body, which I don’t mind because I’ve got it going on.” The trendsetter ran her hands down her hips. “When Chris McLean tells me to get in my bikini, apparently that means he wants me in the least clothing possible to go on a death march in the freezing rain. Normally I wouldn’t do it, but if somebody’s waving a million dollars in front of me I guess I can shiver my ass off for a few minutes.”

Paul: “They’re all probably complaining about being wet, right? Well, guess who has a secret weapon?” He pointed at his poncho. “This guy!”

“I can see that you’re all totally drenched.” The completely dry Chris smiled at the soaked, shivering contestants. “It all just gets worse from here. Welcome to the docks, where you’ll start your next challenge!”

After being guided down a path at the edge of the forest, the grass merged with sand, and the nineteen contestants had found themselves on a shore. The sand dipped down to a small beach, with a long wooden dock above it stretching out as a path to the thrashing ocean. Two midsize boats were tied to posts on opposite sides of the deck, each equipped with a large sail and a pile of ropes and nets. A couple of the players stopped shaking long enough to awe at the ships, though most dreaded whatever challenge awaited them.

“I know you’ve all seen those shows where they send a shipload of guys into the freezing water to catch the ingredients of a fresh fish ‘n’ chips special.” Chris hollered over the rain. “Well, today’s challenge is based off of those. Each team will be sent out on a boat and will sail on opposite sides of Ocean Island-”

“Wait, we’re going out in that?” Wes grimaced, his knees knocking together from something other than the cold as a wave crashed over the edge of one of the boats.

“What’s the matter, scared of water?” Monique asked with an arched brow.

“Swimming is not my thing.”

“Then you have nothing to worry about because you’ll be safe and sound on your boat.” Chris gestured towards the vessels, which were being battered around by the rain. “If worse comes to worst, I’m sure there’re a couple of life jackets on there somewhere-”

“ … A couple?” Irina repeated.

“Is there an echo out here?” Chris rolled his eyes. “Yes, a couple. You’re a team. Teams share.”

“Can you just get on with it?” Elena whined. “I’m freezing my tits off here, and I’d prefer not to be in the tabloids for a botched boob job.”

“I would’ve already been done by now if you all didn’t interrupt me!” The host huffed. “As I was saying, each team has to collect six crates underwater, which will each be marked by a buoy and a red flag tied to it. Figuring out how to get the crates out of the water will take some brainpower, but I will warn you that they’re too heavy for somebody to just dive under and grab. Your boat has a few tools on it to get you started. If you’re hit by a wave or your captain sucks and the supplies accidentally gets thrown overboard? All I can say is bummer, man.

“When you have all six of your crates, come back to the dock. If it keeps raining like this, just look for the light on top of my umbrella to figure out which direction to go. As much as I’d like the ratings boost that’d happen if half of you were lost at sea, we have a twenty episode quota to meet and people get bored with non-eliminations, so you’re all here to stay. When you’re back at the beach, use whatever you find inside your crates to assemble something. I can’t tell you what that something is, but the first to finish making it wins! Any questions?”

Camille shyly raised her hand. “How do you drive a boat?”

The sadistic host only chuckled. “I have no idea. I figure you can learn through experience. The challenge begins when I untie your ships from the dock, with or without you on them.”

When Chris stepped in the direction of the ropes, the nineteen competitors scurried past him and onto the fishing boats. Both teams were completely stumped on how to handle the challenge, and they were still scrambling around on deck when Chris untied them from the dock, sending them out to sea.

“Do you have any idea what you’re doing?”

“No, but how hard can it be?”

Irina braced herself against a railing as Allison turned their boat sharply to the right. The daredevil was positioned behind a large wooden steering wheel that looked as though it could have come off of a pirate ship, which, judging by the fact that it looked ten times older than anything else on the boat, was only placed there for aesthetic reasons. The wheel was on an elevated platform at the back of the boat, with Irina crouching on the stairs leading up to it, the rest of the Oscars slipping and sliding on the deck in front of it.

“I thought you’d said you’ve been driving boats since you were twelve?!” Irina shouted to Allison.

“No, I said I’ve been driving since I was twelve. As in cars.” The punk corrected. “You think I’m rich enough to own a boat?”

“Watch out, there’s a rock coming up on the right!” Cara cautioned from where she was perched at the bow of the boat.

“Hold onto your bikini top, Irina, because I’m putting my driving skills to the test.” Allison rapidly spun the wheel in the opposite direction, sending her unprepared teammates flinging across the deck. Even though she’d had a tight grip on the railing, Irina was sent toppling down the stairs, landing roughly on her backside on the lower deck.

“A little smoother next time, please!” Camille called, swinging her purse in an attempt to escape the tangle of nets she had landed in. “There’re a lot of loose objects down here!”

“I’m doing the best I can!” Allison replied.

“Well, could you at least warn us before you do that?” Irina requested, climbing back up to sit at the top of the stairs.

“Hey, I gave you a warning.” The scarlet-haired girl pointed out. “You just listened too well and held onto your bikini top tighter than the railing.”

Irina let out a curt laugh. “Why don’t you try a real warning next time?”

Allison gave her a thumbs up. “Aye-aye, matey.”

Down on the deck, Robert was leaning over the right side of the boat, his hands cupped around his eyes to shield them from the rain. Angel propped his elbows up on the railing beside him. “See anything good?”

Robert shook his head in denial. “I can’t see anything at all.”

“Yeah, the rain’s coming down pretty hard.” Angel lowered his voice. “Kind of makes me wish I had Paul’s poncho.”

“What was that?” Paul chirped from across the deck.

“Nothing, nothing!”

“I’m pretty sure that was a compliment on my poncho!”

“Trust me, it wasn’t!” Angel rested his forehead on his arms and shook his head in disappointment, Robert chortling at his side. Something caught the footballer’s eye, and he cut off his laughter to squint through the gray of the rain. Angel picked his head up when he realized his teammate had gone quiet. “What’s going on?”

“Do you see that?” Robert pointed into the distance, where a hint of crimson peeked through the pouring rain. “Is that another boat?”

“No, I think that’s a buoy!” The pyromaniac turned around and waved his arms at Allison. “We’ve got booty on the right side, captain!”

“Thanks!” Allison grinned with excitement. “Everyone brace yourselves because we’re going on a booty call!”

“I really think you should reword th-” Irina was cut off by Allison roughly twirling the wheel to the right, sending the model stumbling down the stairs. As their boat lurched, The Oscars scrambled to find the sturdiest object on deck for support. Eventually, they realized that object was Robert, so they all grabbed onto a part of the jock before they could be thrown across the boat.

In the center of the dog pile, Robert put his arms around his two nearest teammates. “Aw, guys, I love you too.”

When the boat straightened itself out again, the seven Oscars unlatched themselves from Robert and lined up against the side railing. Allison had pulled them up right next to the buoy, and a crate was just visible beneath the rippling water.

“Okay, that’s not as deep as I thought it was.” Paul leaned farther over the rail. “Somebody want to hand me something to pull it out?”

“Bad news, Poncho Villa. All we’ve got are fishing nets, a crap load of rope, and some scrap metal.” Isaac pulled at a coil of rope, which was snarled together with a net. “You want to use your Boy Scout skills to MacGyver something out of this?”

“If we can bend some of the scrap metal, we can make a fishhook.” Avery suggested.

“I’m sorry, I said Boy Scout skills, not Bitch Scout.” Isaac snarled at the drama queen. “That’s a stupid idea anyway.”

“Oh, I’ve got it!” Camille gasped. “We can tie ropes to each corner of a net, and then attach the metal to it so it’ll sink. Then, we can pull the ropes to drag the box onto the boat.”

Eight pairs of surprised eyes turned to the aristocrat. Cara wrapped an arm around her friend’s shoulders. “Camille, that’s a great idea! I didn’t know you had it in you.”

“Thank you.” The black-haired girl shrugged. “I guess it just came to me.”

“Oh, come on.” Avery groaned. “You have more faith in the airhead’s idea than mine?”

The drama queen’s complaint didn’t receive a response, as her teammates’ attention was focused on Camille instead.

“Doesn’t he look absolutely beautiful?”

Ophelia swooned at the sight of Victor behind the captain’s wheel. The actor’s soaked hair was blowing in the breeze, and his face was screwed up with a look of concentration as he tried to see through the sheets of rain that obscured his view of the ocean ahead. The artist released a dreamy sigh and clasped her hands over her heart.

“A magnificent sight, isn’t it Donna?” When her roommate failed to answer, the blonde postponed her admiration and looked around in confusion. “Donna? Where’d you go?”

Even though she was shielding her eyes from the rain, it still was near impossible for Ophelia to distinguish who was who on the deck. She took a few steps closer to see if she could pick Donna’s silhouette from the pack, only to trip over something and topple to the ground. Instead of hitting the wood, she landed on something a bit softer, and the artist’s face lit up when she realized that the obstacle she’d failed to dodge was her sleeping roommate. She removed the net that Donna was using as a blanket and tugged on her arm.

“What are you doing?” The smart aleck blearily rubbed the sleep from her eyes with her free hand.

“You fell asleep, silly!” Ophelia pulled her friend to her feet, brushing the dirt from her shoulders. “I was trying to talk to you! I thought you ran away.”

“Sorry, I’m just a little tired.” The smaller girl slicked her wet hair back away from her face. “What were you saying?”

“That Victor is a wonderful captain!” Ophelia gazed up at the actor with a breathy sigh of admiration. “He’s like something straight off of the cover of a pirate romance novel! He’s so majestic, so heroic, so noble!”

On the upper deck, Victor was screaming at a seagull that was flying dangerously close to their boat because of the rain. When the bird dropped a bomb in the form of a white blob from its rear end, the drama king barely dodged it. He began to threaten and shake his fist at the seagull, and Donna raised an eyebrow. “Yes, I can sense the magnificence from here.”

Ophelia shook with excitement. “I thought I was the only one who could feel it! It gives me goose bumps!”

“Hey, Victor, you’re getting dangerously close to taking out the left side of the boat!” Sebastian called from where he was positioned at the bow of the boat.

Victor stopped patronizing the seagull long enough to spot a rock coming up on the ship’s left. “Oh, right, right!” He whirled the wheel in the opposite direction, sending the ship and its passengers sharply jerking to the right.

Donna and Ophelia collapsed into the pile of nets, the artist letting out a giggle as her roommate started disentangling them. “Remind me again how he was elected captain?”

“He said he was in a play once. Pirates of Penthouse?”

“It’s Penzance.” The brunette corrected, though her usual blank, unenthused expression was momentarily replaced by a sympathetic glance towards her friend. “Just … be careful with Victor, okay? I know you have a crush on him, but that doesn’t mean he necessarily feels the same about you.”

“Oh, I know that.” Ophelia replied. “He says a lot of pretty things to me, though, so I think-”

“He borrows those ‘pretty things’ from Shakespeare, and I’m sure he says them to a lot of pretty girls.” Having found a gap in the fishing net prison, Donna reached a hand out to help Ophelia up. “I’m not saying Victor’s not a good guy. We hardly know him, but whenever he actually comes up with an original thought that wasn’t ripped from sixteenth century literature it’s always about himself. He’s an actor, so don’t let him fool you into thinking he cares about you too.”

“I just think he came off the wrong way to you, that’s all.” The artist put her hands on the smart aleck’s shoulders. “If you saw him like I do, you’d know he’s so much more than all of that. I like being around him.”

Donna plucked the other girl’s hands off of her. “And I’m not saying you should stay away. I’m just telling you to … to just watch out, okay?”

“I see something red on the left!” The aforementioned actor announced.

Ophelia’s gaze lingered on her crush for a moment before turning to nod at her roommate. “Okay, I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you for looking out for me.”

“It’s … it’s what friends are for, right?” Donna gave her a tentative grin, which the blonde returned much more enthusiastically.

“Of course. Now let’s see if we can help!” She grabbed the smaller girl by the wrist and led her to where their teammates had gathered against the left railing of the boat. Eager to get a closer view of the buoy, Ophelia bumped a few of her teammates aside to clear a space at the rail, sending Elena stumbling into Gabe.

“Watch where you’re going, stupid!” Elena shrieked, regaining her balance and shoving Gabe in the arm.

“Hey, you ran into me!” He countered. “Do you really think I’d make contact with you voluntarily?”

“Oh, please. You’d need permission to put your hands on this celebrity, so you don’t have to worry your empty little head about that.” The socialite jabbed her finger into his chest. “And next time you try to lecture me about something, remember you’re the dumbass who wore a shirt and tie in the rain.”

“How many times do I have to say it?” Gabe threw his hands in the air. “I want to look good on television! I have money and I want to show it!”

“You’d think you’d use some of that money to buy a bathing suit then.”

The rich jerk glanced down at the now soaking wet button up and slacks that he was wearing before staring at Elena in disbelief. “I own a bathing suit. I just chose not to wear it because the viewing audience isn’t worthy of seeing me semi-nude.”

Elena snorted. “I think it’d just blind them.”

“You’re just jealous you didn’t get to see.” Gabe crossed his arms.

“Ew, ew, ew!” The hotel heiress stuck out her tongue. “If you’re so self-confident now, why didn’t you volunteer to drive the boat instead of Captain Camera Whore up there? Didn’t you say you have a yacht collection?”

The bushy-haired teen guffawed at the idea. “You think I drive my own yachts?”

“Will you two just shut up?” Sebastian snapped in the spoiled teens’ direction, sending Risty over to serve as a barrier between them. With the athlete separating them, Elena and Gabe miraculously stayed quiet, and Sebastian turned back to address his teammates. “As I was trying to say before these idiots talked over me, I’ve already thought of a plan to retrieve the crates. If we hit one of the pieces of scrap metal against the side of the boat, we can bend it into a fishhook. We tie our longest rope to one end of it and throw it into the water, leaving the other end on the boat for us to pull. Then, we tie another piece of rope around the crate so there is something for the hook to grab onto, and then we reel it in. The only problem is that we’ll need somebody to dive into the most likely ice cold water to tie it on.”

“That’s a great plan, Sebastian.” Elena commented through her teeth, winding a bundle of rope around her arm. “I even know someone who’d be perfect to send into the ocean.”

“Wow, you’re actually going to volunteer?” Gabe asked in genuine awe.

“Nope. You are.” The socialite slammed the bundle of rope into Gabe’s chest, throwing him off balance. The rich kid and the rope tumbled over the railing, splashing down in the water below with a frantic yelp. The Emmys peered over the rail to try to locate their teammate. A head of brown curls bobbed above the surface a few feet away from the boat, and a pair of arms covered in a soaked dress shirt flailed around it.

“It’s freezing!” Gabe calmed his chattering teeth long enough to spit a stream of water through his mouth.

“Aw, darn, I was hoping you wouldn’t come up for air.” Elena remarked.

“Good try, but I’m a fantastic swimmer.” He did a backstroke to demonstrate, though his kicking was weighed down by his soggy pant legs and shoes. He reached over to unlace his black dress shoes. “You couldn’t have at least let me take my shoes off first?”

“You’re the loser who came fully dressed to a water challenge!” Elena ducked when Gabe tossed his shoes up onto the boat, “accidentally” aiming them for her head.

“Stop fooling around and just get it over with!” Monique barked. “The faster you tie that rope, the faster you’re out of there!”

Gabe groaned but took a deep breath and dove underwater. He was under for a minute before his head broke the surface again. “All done. Somebody want to pull me up?”

As Wes helped Gabe back onto the ship, Sebastian and Risty threw the newly constructed fishhook over the side. With some careful maneuvering, they were able to snag the hook onto the rope tied around the crate and then started to yank it towards them.

“We could use a little help here!” Risty grunted, and though she and Sebastian were probably the strongest members of the team, some of the other Emmys grabbed onto the rope as well to support them. With the assistance, the box was reeled in, and Monique untied the rope and used a piece of scrap metal to crack it open.

“What the hell?” The designer struggled to pick up a smooth piece of stone from inside the box. A couple of the other Emmys crowded around her and removed several more stones from the box, each piece a different shape but all sharing a smooth surface and speckled coloration. “Does anybody have an idea of what we can make from these?”

“What can they make from those?” The scene cut to a shot of Chris sitting on the end of the dock in a beach chair, his lit umbrella above his head. “Who’ll be able to survive the seven seas, and who will be thrown overboard? Was it really Avery that framed Zack? How can Gabe swim in dress clothes? Maybe you’ll find out after this commercial break!”

Chapter Eight: Screaming in the Rain

“Come on, it’s so close! We almost have it!”

“It’s not going to work.”

“Maybe if you move it a little to the left? Here, pull it your way.”

“I keep telling you, this isn’t going to work.”

“Can you shut your mouth for even a minute?!” Angel spat over his shoulder.

“I’m trying to help since apparently none of you see that this strategy isn’t working.” Avery put one hand on her cocked hip, the other holding up an umbrella that she had thought rolled off the side of the boat on another one of Allison’s sharp turns. “Not only is this unnecessarily complicated, it’s also taking way too long. By the time we get this one box, the other team will already have all of them.”

“Nobody asked you!” Isaac growled, not taking his eyes off of the water. He and Angel were leaning over the edge of their ship trying to wedge their net underneath the crate. This was easier said than done, however, and even though they each held the ropes connected to either side of the net, the crate seemed like it wouldn’t budge no matter how perfectly they positioned it.

“I’m just saying that this would be a lot easier if we tried something else!” Avery reiterated.

“And we’re saying that you need to shut your trap!” Isaac whipped his head around to glare at the drama queen. “If you’re just trying to annoy the crap out of us, then you’ve hit that ball out of the park. But do you really think that standing there and whining is going to help?! No! You’re just running your mouth and pissing the people who are actually doing something off!”

The brunette stared at him with wide eyes, her lips pursing into an “o” shape. She turned up her nose and made a huffing noise. “Fine.” She turned swiftly on her heel, trying to hide that her voice had broken. “Whatever. I don’t need this.”

The drama queen marched away from her team, sitting atop a roll of rope on the other side of the boat. She put her chin in her palm and refused to meet any of her teammates’ eyes, choosing instead to inspect the grain of the wooden floor. Eventually, a pair of long legs crossed her line of sight, and Irina crouched down on the deck beside her. Avery turned away from the model, but she stubbornly stayed put.

“Do you want to talk or something?” The blonde asked, her calm voice contrasting the pounding of the rain. “Believe it or not, I’m here to listen.”

“Go away.” Avery sneered, though her teammate couldn’t see it. “Shouldn’t you be helping the others?”

“There’s nothing I can do right now. Angel and Isaac think they have it under control.” Irina grimaced when she saw Isaac lose his grip on a rope, practically sending Angel flying overboard. “A lot of emphasis on the ‘think.’ They’re making progress, though.”

“All they're doing is making it worse.”

The model pushed back a loose strand of hair, tucking it into her ponytail. “By ‘it’ I’m guessing you aren’t just talking about the challenge.” When Avery didn’t respond, she assumed that her inference was correct. “Isaac yells at you all the time. You just yell back, and it all works out. What set you off?”

“It’s not just Isaac, it was Angel too.” Avery pointed out. “Actually, it’s all of them. Everyone seems to get along except for me. I just feel like everyone on this team treats me like I’m nobody. I mean, yeah, I guess I can be a bit assertive but I mean well. It’s hard to take it when I’m being given lip all day from Isaac, Angel, Allison, and sometimes even Paul or Cara.”

“They don’t mean it.” Irina claimed.

“Yes, they do.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Well, you don’t know that they don’t!”

THUMP! Irina and Avery glanced over to find that Isaac and Angel had somehow managed to reel the crate in and were now double high-fiving each other. “Aw yeah!”

“Looks like the dynamic duo could use some help opening that box.” Irina got to her feet, though Avery stayed seated. The model stood in front of the other girl, her gentle smile fading into something more serious. “I meant what I said: they don’t mean it. They probably have no idea that they’re hurting you. I know what it feels like when somebody thinks you’re nothing but a pretty face.” She paused, and a smirk crawled its way onto her lips. “And even if they did mean it, you’d still have me.”

Irina joined the others without another word. Despite the encouragement, Avery kept her distance, observing from afar as her teammates pried open the crate.

Confession Cam

Avery: “I know that Irina was trying to help, but she can’t change how everyone is acting towards me. It just really sucks to be putting in your all but have nobody understand that all you want is for your team to win.” The brunette furrowed her brow. “Irina’s the only person that tried to reach out to me, and I guess I wouldn’t mind being friends with her. It’s just that there’s something off about what she said about being nothing but a pretty face. Maybe the good girl model isn’t as low drama as we thought.”

“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me!” Robert sang as he trotted around the mast. The Oscars had examined the pieces in the crate and were clueless as to what they could make. The team set sail again, with Avery relocating her sulking to on top of the crate to make sure it didn’t slide overboard on one of Allison’s reckless turns. The pummeling rain and the fact that they seemed to be the only thing floating in the water around them had frustrated some of the Oscars, but they couldn’t keep a smile from slipping onto their faces at Robert’s cheerfulness.

“You’re like a ray of sunshine in the rain.” Cara remarked as the jock made another circle around the mast.

“I’ve always been good at cheering people up.” He replied, giving her a wide grin. “This one time, my coach was down because we’d lost a game, so my teammates and I planned to … um …” His face screwed up in concentration. “We … hmmm … forget I even started that story. I’m pretty sure it was a good one, though.” When he saw the sympathetic expression on Cara’s face, Robert resumed his duty of turning frowns upside down and stood on the tip of the boat’s bow. He held his arms straight out at his sides and let the wind and rain blow against his face. “I’m king of the world!”

When he looked back over his shoulder, the tree hugger had cracked up. “You’re way too much fun, Robert.”

“What does he mean king of the world?” Camille tilted her head in confusion. “Are you royalty in a little known country?”

“He was just kidding. It’s from a movie.” Cara explained.

“Oh!” The aristocrat burst into giggles. “You’re funny!” “Here, come on over.” Robert moved aside, leaving enough space for Camille to stand next to him on the bow. The dark-haired girl was cautious, but when he held out a hand she let him pull her up. “It’s ten times more fun if you hold your arms out.”

“Um, okay.” Camille slowly raised her arms, her knees beginning to wobble. “This is kind of scary!”

“You’re just psyching yourself out because you’re not holding onto anything.” The jock answered. “It feels really awesome, right? It's like you have nothing to hide, nobody to impress. You can let all your worries go for a minute.”

“I … I see what you mean.” Camille’s face curled into a harder expression, her dark eyes gazing out at the shifting water in front of her. After a moment, she brushed a soggy strand of hair from her face, reverting back to her typical state of childish wonder. “This would be a lot prettier if it wasn’t raining so hard.”

“Yeah, but we have to take what we can get.” Robert shrugged. “I guess it’d be nice if we could actually see the buoys before we ran into them.”

“Not to mention if we did hit something, this boat would probably crack in half!” Shuddering at the thought, Camille moved back to stand safely beside Cara. In the process, she stumbled over a lose board, its other end jolting into the air because it wasn’t nailed down properly.

“I think you just proved your point.” Cara used her foot to nudge the board back in place. “I just hope Allison gets better at steering this thing so we can avoid a shipwreck. Chris said there were some lifejackets, but I know not to trust him.”

“There’s a buoy coming up on our starboard side!” Allison announced from her perch behind the captain’s wheel.

“Which side is starboard?” Cara called up to her.

“I have no idea, it just sounded cool.” The daredevil shrugged. “What I meant to say was everybody grab hold of something because we’re turning right!”

Aware of his job, Robert moved towards the center of the deck so that his teammates could latch on to him. Allison spun the wheel and the ship jerked to the side, but the footballer’s sturdy build kept the other Oscars from sliding across the boat, Avery still sitting atop the crate to prevent it from going very far.

“Sorry about this.” Paul apologized when it was safe to break free from Robert.

“I don’t mind.” The jock beamed. “I’m just glad I can help.”

Soon, a buoy bobbing on the surface of the water was visible over the railing, and Angel and Isaac barged past their teammates with the net. Their team gathered around to watch the arduous task of maneuvering the net to pick up the box.

“This is going to take forever.” Avery remarked from across the boat.

“Stop being so negative.” Cara demanded. “We found this one really quick, so we’re making up time. I’ll bet we’re way ahead of the other team!”

On the other side of the island, The Emmys were leaning against the railing on one side of their boat waiting for Gabe to resurface. Cara’s prediction had been completely wrong, as The Emmys’ method of retrieval was taking much less time than The Oscars’. The wealthy teen was actually tying the rope around their third crate.

“Is it wrong to find it hilarious that we actually got him to go underwater again?” Minerva muttered to Monique.

The designer clicked her tongue. “Well, he is our teammate … but he’s also a total jerk, so no.”

Gabe’s head broke the surface of the water, his dripping wet curls slithering into his eyes. “It’s ready to go!” As Sebastian and Wes began to maneuver their fishhook into the correct spot, Gabe swam to the side of the boat and waited for somebody to give him a hand. “Um, hello?! I’m submerged in a pool of ice here!”

Minerva and Monique glanced down at their chilly teammate and then looked at each other. Monique arched a brow, and then they shrugged in unison before walking away from the ship’s edge.

“Hey! Get back here!” Gabe screeched. “I need help! You can’t just abandon your teammate like this!”

He continued wailing without response for another minute, and eventually Risty leaned over the railing. “Why should I help you?”

“Because I am wonderful.” The Floridian stated.

The athlete started backing up from the rail. “Wrong answer.”

“Wait, wait!” Gabe yelped. “If I freeze, you’ll have to force someone else to swim through the ice cold water. Not to mention you’d probably lose the challenge if you return with one less teammate than you started with.”

The Bostonian rolled her eyes. “That’s a little better, but try again. Why should I help you?”

The wealthy teen scowled. “How about because I tried to give you a head’s up the other night when you decided to vote off Zack?”

Risty narrowed her eyes. “What do you mean?”

“Nuh-uh, I gave you a better reason, so first you help me up.” The dark-skinned girl hesitated, though she eventually stretched her arm down to the water. She pulled Gabe onto the boat just as their teammates reeled in the crate. As the other Emmys went to see what was in this box, the spoiled jerk shook his hair out.

“Hey, do you have a mirror or something?” The brunet questioned, straightening his tie.

“I’m waiting for an explanation.” Risty crossed her arms.

“I helped you out on the stairs, you didn’t listen. What more of an explanation do you need?”

Elena didn’t force you into that?”

“Why would Elena try to get me to do something nice?” Gabe curled his upper lip. “That’d be like Satan donating to the homeless shelter.”

“I thought she sent you to convince me to vote with you guys.”

“She doesn’t trust me.” He snorted. “If she wanted to recruit you, she’d have done it herself.”

“I’m gonna steal your comparison and say that’d be Satan sending herself in to do a good deed.” Risty’s eyebrows raised in surprise when Gabe snickered at the comment.

“She didn’t send me, I swear. She still doesn’t even know that I talked to you about it.”

“Then why’d you do it?” The curly-haired girl questioned.

“Do I really need a reason? If I were Monique or Ophelia or Wes I don’t think you’d second guess me.”

“But you’re not them, you’re Gabe. You’re selfish and spoiled and will do anything Elena tells you to.”

“Did you ever consider that maybe I’m not only what my stereotype says?” Gabe scoffed, immediately shutting Risty up. “It was my choice to try to help you, and everything I said wasn’t some trick to get you to vote with us. Believe it or not, I’m not the complete monster you think I am. If Elena knew that I’d said anything to you, she’d probably be ticked. I wasn’t kidding when I said she’d target you just like she did with Minerva. She’s watching you like a hawk.”

Risty stared at him, trying to decipher what exactly was going on inside that hot air-filled head. “So why are you helping Elena?”

“Like I said before, it doesn’t matter.” Before the athlete could speak another word, Gabe slipped away to join their team in examining the contents of the crate, taking his rightful place by Elena’s side.

Confession Cam

Risty: “I just don’t get it. If he wants us to believe he’s a good guy, then why would he be in an alliance with Elena? Why would he act like such a jerk to everyone? Why would he do any of the stupid crap that he’s been doing since he got here?” She shook her head. “Actually, let me get to a better question: why is it that it’s only the fourth episode but everyone’s already going on about their personal drama? Don’t we usually wait until later in the game for that?”

“I hate to jinx us, but I think the rain is actually slowing down … knock on wood.” Paul rapped on the side of the ship’s wheel, and Allison smacked his hand away. “Hey!”

“Only the captain touches the wheel.” The punk grinned.

“Well, you could’ve just said so!”

“Aw, you don’t have something in your emergency kit to take care of that? Or did the poncho take up too much room?”

Paul glared. “Not funny.”

“Says you.” Allison sniggered. “But, onto a better subject, I know Chris has had to think of a lot of challenges over the years, but this idea was pretty crappy.”

“I’m pretty sure the producers probably pay somebody to think of challenges, so don’t blame him for that.” Paul held up his index finger. “Actually, I'll bet Chris adds in the ridiculous, torturous parts, but the actual challenges probably aren’t up to him.”

“Well, whoever’s fault it is, this one totally sucks.”

“Why? I thought the theme was pretty cool other than the violent rain.”

“Yeah, the theme is cool. When are pirates not cool? He really should have just saved this for later in the show. Other than me, you guys are doing jack squat until we find another box.”

Allison was actually right. It had taken fifteen minutes to haul in the last crate, and when the ship was finally able to start moving again there weren’t any buoys in sight. While the daredevil steered their vessel, the other Oscars lingered around the deck trying to find ways to occupy themselves or stay dry.

“Maybe it’ll take more people to get the next box.” Paul suggested. “Angel and Isaac said the last one was heavier than the first. Maybe they’ll get increasingly bigger.”

“Let’s hope so. I’m tired of seeing you all casually pretending you’re not pacing in boredom.” The scarlet-haired girl leaned on the wheel. “Unless the poop deck’s more interesting than it looks from up here?”

“Okay, first of all, it’s not a poop deck.” The green-eyed young man corrected. “And it’s as boring down there as it looks. Robert’s trying to entertain everyone, but we’re all soaking wet and miserable so even he can’t lighten the mood. Avery’s moping because everyone’s mad at her.”

“Oh, is that why she’s been sulking on top of the crate?”

“Yeah, I think she put herself in time out or something.” Paul chuckled. “I really hate to take sides, but she kind of deserves it. She’s been complaining and putting us all down since she stepped on the boat.”

“She also deserves it because she stole the music video.”

The Boy Scout exhaled with frustration. “As much as it makes sense, you still need proof that she actually did that.”

“We’ll probably get it eventually!” Allison insisted. “I still don’t see any other suspects!”

“What if Rachel Claire did it just to heat up the drama?”

“Why are you defending Avery? You don’t even like her!”

“I don’t like her, but I think it’s wrong to blame someone for something that might not be their fault.”

The punk gaped at the do-gooder for a moment, and he held his head high, though his attempt at looking high and mighty was ruined by the poncho. “Wow, your morals are so much better than mine.”

“Not necessarily better. Just different.” Paul amended, pointing into the distance. “I’m pretty sure I see a buoy on our left.”

An excited smile spread across Allison’s face. “Finally! Hang onto your poncho, because we’re going for a ride!”

“You know, you’re going to regret not taking me into your alliance.”

“ … What alliance?”

Elena stomped her foot. “Would you stop that?! I know you have one! I’m not stupid!”

“I never said you were stupid.” Sebastian stated.

“But you’re implying it! How big of a dumbass would I have to be to not realize you have an alliance? How else would Zack have gotten voted off the other day?”

“How does anybody get voted off of this show?” He asked. “They make a mistake.”

“But I had people lined up to vote for Minerva.”

“Did you ever think that maybe the people who said they’d vote with you didn’t?”

“Stupid answer.” Elena huffed. “You should still reconsider not taking me into your ‘nonexistent’ alliance.”

Sebastian cocked a brow. “Give me one good reason why.”

“I was clever enough to manipulate and then almost eliminate Minerva after the last challenge.” The socialite put her hands on her hips, a confident smile on her face.

The gambler clapped sarcastically. “Great job, but was she eliminated?”

Elena’s proud stance fell. “Well … no. But I was pretty damn close!”

“There’s a buoy over here, Victor!” Wes called from the right side of the ship.

“Talk to me when you actually do something useful, okay?” Sebastian strode away from Elena to where a couple of his teammates were trying to get Gabe to dive into the water again. When Gabe seemed reluctant, the card-player said something to him that was inaudible to Elena before hopping into the water in his place.

Elena groaned, running a hand through her hair. “What is his problem?!”

“What’s your problem?” Gabe sauntered up to stand at her side now that he was relieved of diving duty.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Why do you care about anything he says? You have an alliance, and we just need to plan our moves correctly to get people to agree with us.”

The hotel heiress glared. “Yeah, but I don’t want to get stuck working with you for too long.”

“Well, duh. At this rate, we’re going to kill each other by Episode Six. But why do you care?”

She gritted her teeth, her sharp jaw clenching. “Because I’m not going to end up looking like an idiot on television. I need to look good, but if we lose again I doubt our alliance will do anything. Sebastian seems like the kind of guy who could pull some strings and get anybody he wants eliminated. I just need to win him over to make sure that that’s not me.”

“If you keep bothering him, he’s more likely to want to give your annoying ass the boot.” Gabe pointed out.

“I’m not ‘bothering’ him. I’m just reminding him that I’m here in case he changes his mind.”

“It’s tied up!” Sebastian declared from in the water. Gabe and Elena watched as Wes and Risty lowered the fishhook over the railing and down to the ocean.

“If you really want to convince him, then maybe we should make ourselves useful and at least pretend to help.” Gabe proposed. Elena agreed with him for once and joined the other Emmys, grabbing onto the end of the rope to show the observing Sebastian that she was a valuable asset.

Another hour of seafaring passed, and The Oscars had located and collected their fourth crate, unaware of how much progress their opposition had made. The rain had slowed to a light sprinkle, which became convenient because, as Paul predicted, the crates were increasing in weight and more teammates were required to reel in each one.

As they pulled up their fifth crate, Angel, Isaac, and Paul were overcome by the tension on the rope and were almost yanked completely over the side of the boat. The three guys collapsed into a pile against the railing, with Robert catching the end of the rope before it fell into the ocean.

Cara rushed over to the heap, pulling Isaac to his feet. “What’s wrong?”

“This one’s like double, maybe even triple the size of the last one.” The slacker groaned. “We’re going to need some help.”

“Are you guys okay?” The nature lover leaned over to help Paul and Angel up. Paul took her hand, though Angel refused, making a pained hissing noise.

As an explanation, the pyromaniac held up his palms to reveal that they were scraped raw and red. “Rope burn.”

“No need to fear, Allison is here.” The daredevil bounded from her platform, landing at her teammate’s side. “You take the wheel, and I’ll help pull.”

“You sure?” Angel asked.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. They’ll probably appreciate having me help instead of having to deal with your stick figure physique.” She wryly bumped shoulders with him. “Just don’t rip your hands open on the steering wheel.”

“I think it’s a little too late for that.” The Puerto Rican teen let out a short laugh and marched up to man the wheel. With Camille taking a supervising role, the remaining seven Oscars on deck lined up with their hands on the rope.

“Okay, guys, on three!” Isaac, who was at the head of the line, bellowed.

“We really don’t need all of us.” Avery commented. “This will just cause a pile up.”

“Shut up, Avery!” Isaac ordered.

“I’m just saying that we have Robert on the end and he’s stronger than Irina, Cara, and I combined.”

“Shut up, Avery!” The entire team chorused. The drama queen pouted her lips but held back a snappy retort.

“Okay, now that Big Mouth has shut up: one … two …” The Oscars tightened their grips on the rope. “Three!”

The Oscars dug their feet into the wooden planks below them as they yanked the crate in, though, just as Avery had said, Robert was pretty much dragging the other six teens across the deck. As the footballer reeled the rope in, Cara and Irina lost their grip and fell to the ground. They could see the crate dangling off the railing, just inches away from being pulled to safety, when –


Out for a glide now that the rain had calmed, a seagull flew over the boat, and Robert’s head snapped right up to gaze at it. Distracted by the bird, he loosened his grasp on the rope, a smile spreading across his face when the bird squawked again. The rest of the team was caught off guard by the sudden loss of their powerhouse and the rope slid through their fingers, falling underwater with the crate and their net. They burst into a chorus of groans, catching Robert’s attention as the seagull flew away. When he realized the consequence of his action, he furrowed his brow.

“Oh no, I’m so sorry!” He put his hands up to his face but yelped when he felt the sting of rope burn on his palms. “I didn’t mean to, I didn’t even realize what I was doing, I’m sorry!”

“It’s … it’s fine.” Paul looked over the side of the boat. “We’ll get it back somehow. You just go sit up with Angel, and we’ll … figure something out.”

The rest of the team joined Paul in inspecting the sunken crate, no one volunteering to be the unlucky soul who would have to dive in to retrieve the rope. Robert sulked over to the stairs leading to the captain’s wheel, unaware that one of his teammates had followed him. When he felt a harsh hand on his shoulder, he jumped.

“This is your fault!”

The jock turned around to see a pair of beautiful hazel eyes narrowed at him. “Oh, um, hey Avery -”

“Don’t ‘hey Avery’ me!” The drama queen snarled. “I was already sick and tired of all the crap this team's been giving me, but this was our second to last box and now it’s gone! Not only are we forced to start all over again, but we’ve lost our rope! We had one tool and now we have nothing, and do you know whose fault it is? Yours!”

The footballer opened his mouth to speak, but she slapped a hand over it. “I don’t want to hear any of your ‘cheer up, nothing’s wrong’ crap, because something is wrong! This isn’t some after school special where all of your mistakes will be forgiven! Everyone else will probably feel bad for you because of your attention problems, but you know what? We’re not all as nice as the rest of them! If we lose this challenge, I am personally putting all of the blame on you. You’re the biggest guy on this team, hell, the biggest guy in the competition, but you couldn’t handle one simple strength task! You should be our secret weapon, but instead you’re our biggest weakness!”

Avery glanced over her shoulder to check that the rest of the team was distracted before continuing, her hand still clamped over Robert’s mouth. “You’re not going to say a word about this to the rest of them, got it? I am way too mad to deal with all of them right now.” The jock tried to speak, but she refused to move her hand. “What did I just say?”

Robert pointed his finger over Avery’s shoulder, and she turned around to find that Angel was no longer handling the wheel. Instead, he stood right behind her, a scowl on his face. Avery removed her hand from Robert’s mouth and shooed the muscular teen away, redirecting all of her anger onto Angel.

“What do you want?”

“Why the hell did you just do that?!” Angel screamed. “You tore him apart over one little mistake!”

“It wasn’t one little mistake, it was huge! If we had any chance of winning this challenge, he just sent that down the drain. He completely screwed us over!”

“You don’t know that! For all we know, The Emmys crashed and are floating somewhere out there in a life raft!”

“Everything I said to him is true!”

“No, you’re just mad and need to take it out on someone else! Robert was in the wrong place at the wrong time and didn’t deserve any of that!”

Avery tossed her wet hair back. “Whatever. Like I care.” She marched back to join the rest of the team, leaving Angel slack jawed and disgusted behind her.

Confession Cam

Angel: “I thought my stepsiblings were bad, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a worse person than Avery. She’s selfish, she’s cruel, she’s a total bitch, and she probably just traumatized poor Robert for life! It’s not his fault he’s easily distracted, so he didn’t deserve any of that.” The pyromaniac curled his upper lip. “I don’t give a crap that Paul wanted to give her a chance. This is the only reason I need to send her home.”

“I’m pretty sure this has part of a face on it.”

“Oh, yes, yes! Perfect!”

The Emmys had already collected six crates and docked their boat. Forming an assembly line from their ship to the shore, they were moving items piece by piece down to the beach, where Donna and Ophelia were assembling the final product.

“Does this one go here?” Ophelia questioned.

“No, put it in the pile over there.” Donna directed. “We can’t get those ones on until we finish the base.” Turning to look at her teammates, the pessimist cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted to the boat, “We’re going to need more of those ridged pieces!”

“We’re looking, we’re looking!” Victor and Monique dug through the pile of stone fragments on the deck. Eventually, they sent a few similar looking pieces down the assembly line, and Ophelia and Donna pieced them together into a seashell shape. They then compared it to the other random pieces they had already fit together, and Ophelia gasped in excitement.

“I know what it is!” She started to fumble with one of the pieces at her feet. “Oh my gosh, this goes here! And these fit here!”

“Wait, what?” Ophelia whispered something into Donna’s ear, and her jaw dropped in shock. She waved to their team to speed up the assembly line. “She’s figured it out, guys! Keep them coming!”

“Yes, this is a knee! And if we turn this one to the side, it’s a hand!” Ophelia frantically stacked pieces on top of each other, Donna handing her part after part as the line struggled to keep up with the artist.

At the end of the line, Minerva tried to see the object, though Ophelia blocked most of it from view. “What is it?”

Ophelia stood on her toes to connect the final piece before stepping back to reveal her creation to her teammates. “It’s The Birth of Venus, Chris McLean style!”

“I can see land, we’re almost there!”

The Oscars pushed their boxes to the edge of the boat, ready to move onto the beach as soon as Allison steered them close enough.

“Here, Robert, could you lift this one?” Irina asked her teammate, who was sitting with his knees pulled up to his chest in a corner. “Robert? Are you okay?”

“Watch out, coming through.” Avery tried to drag a crate past Irina, but the model put out an arm to stop her. “Excuse me.”

“You seem better.” The blonde observed.

“Not really, but I released some tension and now all I want is to win.” The brunette glanced between Irina and Robert. The jock flinched at the sight of her, pushing himself to his feet and slinging the crate Irina had designated over his shoulder.

“Do you have something to do with Robert being upset?” Irina asked with a lowered voice as the footballer shuffled away.

“Not at all. What reason would I have to hurt him?” Avery moved one hand from the box to her cocked hip. “I might be selfish, but I’m not heartless.”

The model stepped aside and let the drama queen through, trying to hide the uncertainty on her face. Eventually, the boat hit the dock, and Paul scrambled over the railing to tie it up. The Oscars each grabbed some of the crates’ contents and started to unload them, though the cheering coming from the shore stopped them dead in their tracks.

The Emmys were gathered around a grand, white marble statue that was marred with several thin cracks through it where it had been pieced together. It was a replica of Chris McLean, clad in only a swimsuit and standing in a seashell, his hair flowing in the imaginary breeze. Despite the subject matter of the piece, it was actually very beautiful from a distance … and the weather seemed to agree. It was like a scene from a movie: the rain stopped, the clouds parted, and a single ray of sunlight illuminated the shore around the statue.

“This. Is. Beautiful!” Chris wiped a tear from his eye from where he sat in his chair on the dock. Leaving his umbrella behind, he cautiously approached the statue, looking up at it in admiration. “I’m so gorgeous! The Emmys win!” The victors cheered, and The Oscars dropped the stone fragments in their arms to the ground. “Oscars, you were a little too slow … eh, who am I kidding? You were so slow that I was starting to think you were captured by real pirates. I was going to send someone out to look for you guys, but then I remembered that I don’t care. I’ll see you at the Team’s Choice Awards tonight!” The host then turned to a nearby cameraman. “Can someone get a wheelbarrow and bring this masterpiece to my room?”

As the day came to its end, the clouds finally cleared, giving a perfect view of the sun lowering behind the horizon. Room 306 was lit only by the orange light that the setting sun cast through the open window. Robert pulled his jersey on over his head, his broad figure silhouetted against the window. Even though the skies were clear, the jock’s mouth was set in an uncharacteristic straight line, and his eyes were missing their usual spark.

His flower-print swim shorts had been thrown carelessly on the ground, soaking a wet circle into the carpet. Robert used his foot to pick the trunks up by the waistband and fling them towards his dirty laundry bag. However, the star athlete’s aim had suffered because of his mood, and the bathing suit flew towards the nightstand, knocking over a picture frame.

“Oh no!”

Robert rushed over to pick the frame from the ground, gently propping it back on the nightstand. It was a picture of him with his arms slung around the shoulders of a willowy, dark-skinned girl with beautiful curls. She had a bright grin on her face, though it was completely outshone by Robert’s huge smile, the same one that his teammates had grown to know and love. The footballer sat on his bed and leaned his elbows on his knees, staring at the photo with a wistful gaze.

“Hey, Imani. I really wish you were here with me right now.” He mumbled. “I know you’re waiting for me at home, but … I’m having a tough time. This has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. For the first time in a long time, I’m having trouble keeping my head up. I always try to not let my memory problems affect me, but …” The jock started scuffing his feet back and forth on the carpet. “Just because I’ve gotten past them doesn’t mean that anybody else can. I’m friends with all of my teammates, I really am, but I feel like they treat me like they’re walking on eggshells sometimes. Even if I do something wrong, they won’t say it. They’d feel too bad for calling me out because of my forgetfulness. I just want to be treated like a normal team member, not like some-”

A muffled knock on the door interrupted Robert’s thinking out loud. He got up and opened the door, only to find that there was nobody there. He heard the knocking again and realized that it was coming from his neighbor’s room. Through the bathroom separating the rooms, Robert heard Irina jog towards her door.

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” The door opened with a creak. “You don’t have to be so impatient.”

“Sorry, I just need to get inside. The firebug’s glaring at me from down the hall.”

Robert’s eyes widened at the sound of the new voice. Avery. Grabbing his room key and tucking it into his shorts pocket, the athlete was so frantic to leave his room that he practically burst down his door. Even though they were separated by a bathroom and a wall, Avery was still too close. He wasn’t ready to see or hear her yet.

“Hey, are you okay?” Robert jumped at the new voice. “Hey, man, calm down. It’s just me.”

Robert’s heart started again when he saw Angel sitting against the wall at the end of the hall. “Sorry, I just thought …”

“That I could’ve been Avery?” Angel finished. “Yeah, I figured. I just stared her down until she hid in Irina’s room.”

“I know. I heard.” The footballer walked down to where his teammate was sitting. “Why’re you out here?”

“Water and fire don’t exactly mix.” The pyromaniac smirked, gesturing to the wall of windows in front of him. “There’s a perfect view of the sunset from here, so I guess you could say I’m drying off before the elimination?”

Robert bit his lip at the mention of the Team’s Choice Awards ceremony. “Right. I almost forgot we have to vote someone off.”

“Well, I don’t think it’s going to be too hard of a choice. Isaac has a bunch of Oscars meeting in the lounge in a few minutes if you want to join us. The people are going to overthrow The Queen, if you know what I mean.”

The jock completely understood what the fire starter was implying, though his memory of The Queen demanding a vow of silence made him hesitate. When he saw the genuine look of concern on Angel’s face, he forced a smile. “I guess I could sit in with you.”

“I hate it when we have to vote somebody off.” Cara rested her chin in her hands and pursed her lips. “I feel like we’re breaking someone’s heart.”

“It’s not that bad if they deserve it.” Isaac answered. “For example, if we vote off Avery, I don’t think any of us could possibly feel bad.”

“I second that motion.” Allison raised her hand.

“Third.” Angel agreed.

Cara, Isaac, Allison, Angel, Paul, and Robert had gathered in the lounge to make sure that they would be making the right decision later that night. Irina had been invited but refused to come, instead spending her time with Avery, while Camille had put coming to the meeting second on her list of priorities, right behind her current task of using a hairdryer on her wet purse.

“Does she really deserve it?” Cara asked. “I know she’s been pretty annoying, but I don’t want to be unfair to her."

“Well, who else deserves to be sent home in her place?” Allison said. “It’s obviously none of us, so that leaves Camille? Irina?”

“They’ve done nothing wrong!” The environmentalist protested.

“Exactly. Avery was a total burden in the challenge today, and she hasn’t really done anything else for us except lead us to losing.”

“You guys didn’t even hear what she said to Robert.” Angel mentioned, elbowing the jock gently in the arm. “Go on, tell them.”

Robert didn’t react to his teammate nudging him. He remained slumped over and silent, his eyes staring into dead space.

“Are you okay?” Paul put a hand on Robert’s shoulder. “You seemed fine on the boat.”

“That was before Avery got to him.” Angel said. “Is it fine if I tell them what happened?”

Robert barely shook his head. “No, thank you.”

“Oh.” The Puerto Rican teen furrowed his eyebrows. “Sorry for bringing it up. Even without repeating what she said, I think the way Robert’s acting proves just how bad it was. Avery needs to be voted off.”

“All in favor?” Allison asked, raising her hand once again. Isaac and Angel immediately joined her, with Paul and Cara hesitating before putting their arms up as well. Robert only sighed, and his teammates all giving him looks of pity.

“Well, that’s the majority.” Isaac declared with a solemn tone to his voice. “Sorry, Robert. Unless you have somebody to suggest, you were outvoted.”

The jock just shook his head slowly in denial. The other five Oscars were unsure of how to react.

“Welcome, Oscars, to the Team’s Choice Awards … again. You’ve all cast your votes … again, and one of you will be leaving the competition … again. But, hey, at least Mother Nature was feeling nice and stopped the rain, right?” Chris laughed at his own attempt at optimism, though the contestants sitting on the bleachers below him were not amused. “Seriously, guys, you’ve lost three out of four challenges, and I’m really not sure why. You were the physically stronger team. Maybe this year’s just not the guys’ season to win?”

“Could you just skip the vaguely misogynistic crap and cut to the chase?” Avery requested.

Chris glared. “Impatient much?” He reached behind the podium and pulled out a stack of silver stars. “Oh, I almost forgot. The surprise at the end of the Red Carpet of Shame tonight is a fun one. Instead of a limo, this episode’s loser gets to ride in an amphibious car!” A bright yellow, bulbously shaped car parked at the end of the red carpet, Chef Hatchet’s head poking from its open top. “That’s right! This car can travel on both land and sea, and Chef and the loser will be taking the scenic route … meaning through the ocean.”

Chris cackled at the thought of the amphibious car, though nobody else shared his amusement. “Gee, you’re a bunch of party poopers tonight, aren’t you? Well, you’ve all submitted your votes in the confessional …”

Confession Cam

Allison: “No question here. Avery’s going down.”

Irina: “I know the others are putting the blame on Avery, but I feel bad for her. I think she’s really misunderstood. Instead, I’m voting for Isaac, because he’s the one who keeps egging her on until she cracks.”

Robert: The jock sighed. “I’m probably going to be criticized for this, but I know I’m making the right decision. I’ve thought about this a lot, and I’m voting for …”

“The first silver star of the night goes to Allison for her terrible yet oddly effective captaining.” Chris announced, tossing the daredevil her star. “Next is Angel for staying chill despite some nasty rope burn, and Irina for looking good in a bikini.”

Seriously?” Irina complained when she caught her star. “You had to say that?”

“Yes. Yes I did.” The host smirked. “Next are Paul, Camille, Robert, and Cara, who were pretty good deckhands … and that just leaves you two.”

Isaac threw his hands in the air and looked over at Avery. “I’m in the bottom two again? Do you guys hate me that much?”

“You act like you’re here alone.” Avery curled her upper lip in disgust at him.

“I might as well be. It’s obvious which one of us is going ho-”

“Hey! Don’t spoil the surprise!” Chris interjected, holding the last star up in front of him. “The final silver star of safety of the night goes to …”


The camera turned to Robert, who had stepped off of the bleachers. He approached the stage, and Chris gave him a speculative glance. “Why are you ruining my drama?”

“I’m not ruining it.” Robert insisted. “I’m making something right. And I know you saw that I voted for myself in the confessional and decided to ignore it.”

The Oscars gasped. “You did what?”

“I’ll just step aside.” Chris gave them an awkward smile and shuffled off stage.

“I voted for myself.” The football player restated. “Somebody today made me really think after the challenge. They yelled at me and proved their point in the worst way possible, but they actually made me consider why I was on the show. I entered this competition to try to earn money for college, not to become a TV sob story. As nice as you’ve all been to me, I’m not here to skate through the game because everyone feels bad for me. As much as it sucks, my memory loss is a part of me, and I don’t want to be treated differently for it. Today, this person finally said the truth: I’m the strongest player on the team, but I never showed it, and even though it’s pretty much my fault that we got back to the docks so late, none of you were going to point it out because you feel bad for me.”

Robert turned to face Chris McLean again. “And because I don’t feel like I’m making it through this game fairly, I want to vote myself off today. Can I please have the hammer you use to smash the gold stars?”

Chris's mouth opened and closed as he struggled to find his words, but eventually he grabbed his mallet from the podium. The jock exchanged the silver star he had been given for the hammer.

“Robert, don’t!” Cara cried out.

“You don’t have to leave!” Paul agreed. “It really wasn’t your fault!”

“Guys, I’m doing this by choice. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed the competition much after today anyway. I don’t think I could bear seeing any of you go home.” Robert gave The Oscars a genuine smile before he raised the mallet. It smashed down on his gold star, sending pieces of it falling to the ground. His teammates stared with wide eyes as he walked to the Red Carpet of Shame. “I really loved meeting all of you, and I’ll be waiting to hang out with you all at the … um … you know, the place where the losers stay?”

“The resort?” Chris filled in.

“Yeah, that’s it. Thanks.” Robert nodded at the host before giving his team one final look. “Don’t feel bad about this. It’s not your faults, and this is for the best ... and I’d better see one of you win!” With one last contagious grin, the footballer made his way down the Red Carpet of Shame with his head held high, proud of his controversial choice. He began a conversation with Chef as soon as he entered the amphibious car, and as the vehicle drove down the road, he waved goodbye to his teammates through the open top.

The Team’s Choice Awards amphitheater was silent for a few minutes. Eventually, Chris spoke up. “So … that was a surprise. I actually liked that guy. I guess Avery and Isaac are both safe.”

Neither the drama queen nor the slacker celebrated.

“I can’t believe that just happened. Robert was so nice!”

Cara sat on her bed combing the tangles from her hair with a brush. Her voice was just loud enough that her roommate could hear her from the bathroom, though she tried to keep it down so that she didn’t wake anybody that may have fallen asleep in the surrounding rooms. The kindhearted brunette wasn’t going to sleep easy that night knowing that the wrong person had gone home, though she hoped that her teammates would have fewer difficulties.

“I never saw it coming. He seemed so happy.” Cara absentmindedly twisted one of her curls around her finger. “I wish he’d said something first. Maybe we could’ve talked him out of it, or at least we could've all given him a real last goodbye.”

“Me too.” Camille replied quietly from the bathroom.

“I guess it’s better this way, though.” The tree hugger continued. “If he was really that uncomfortable in the competition, I wouldn’t want him to feel obligated to stay around.”

“I agree.” Her roommate stated, though her voice sounded distant.

“It’s still really sad that he had to go. I thought for sure Robert would make it to the merge, maybe even the finale. Other than his memory issues, he seemed like the complete package.” With one final stroke through her hair, Cara chucked her hairbrush into her bag. “Maybe he’ll have a better time at the losers’ resort. He can make friends with Josh or Eric or maybe even Zack, and if one of us gets voted off, he’ll be waiting … right, Camille?” The ditz didn’t respond. “Camille?”

As Cara repeated her roommate’s name, the camera moved closer to the bathroom. It peeked in through the door to catch a glimpse of Camille standing in front of the mirror holding something shiny in her hand. She was examining the object closely, though when she caught the camera’s reflection in the mirror she shoved it back in her purse.

“Get out!” She hissed, charging at the camera. “Get out, get out!” The cameraman backed out of the bathroom, and Camille emerged moments later, having regained her innocent composure. Cara stared at her with wide brown eyes.

“ … Everything okay?”

Camille nodded. “Yes, I’m sorry. That was rude of me. I just didn’t want them to have me on film wiping off my makeup. I might scare any small children who watch the show.”

Glad that it had been a misunderstanding, Cara laughed at her friend’s comment. “Aw, you look perfectly fine, Camille. I’m going to try to get some sleep, okay?”

Camille agreed with the suggestion and walked over to her bed on the far side of the room. Cara shut off the light and then curled underneath her own sheets. The aristocrat placed her purse on the ground and gave the camera one last glance before lying down. When she closed her eyes, the camera zoomed in on her opened purse, where something inside sparkled from beneath a small piece of paper. Just as the cameraman got in for a closer look, a pillow fell on top of the handbag and obstructed his view.

The camera zoomed out to show Camille shuffling around on her bed, though she didn’t seem to be in any rush to pick up the pillow. Her back was facing Cara, and though her movements would look like she was just adjusting her position if the nature lover were to watch, her black eyes were wide open.

“Oops.” She whispered, but then added under her breath for the cameraman, “… Now don’t try that again.”

Episode Five: Sing Your Heart Out

Chapter Nine: Striking a Sour Note

Episode 5 Title Card
Updated: July 3, 2014

“Last time on Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment, the contestants were soaked to the bone, which apparently makes them ten times more irritable.” Chris leaned against the door to an unfamiliar dark building, the bright sun overhead heavily contrasting the previous episode’s weather. “Allison recruited a couple teammates to her anti-Avery non-alliance, Victor kept some of his teammates awake with his obnoxious nature, and Isaac and Cara chatted each other up over breakfast. The day quickly took a turn for the worst when I forced the cast to change into their bathing suits and go sailing in the middle of a thunderstorm.” The host let out a cackle. “I couldn’t let a perfectly good storm go to waste, could I?

“On the ships, Allison was an awful captain, Elena was rejected by Sebastian again, and Gabe was sentenced to diving in the ice cold ocean, though when Risty helped him back onto the boat he revealed that he might be less shallow than he seems. The Oscars rejected Avery’s many attempts to improve their strategy, so she totally flipped out and took her rage out on innocent Robert. The team planned to vote the drama queen off that night, but Robert threw them an unexpected curveball by quitting the competition.”

Chris grimaced. “We're four eliminations in and all eleven of our ladies are still remaining. Will the men be able to rock this upcoming challenge? Find out on this shocking episode of Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”


“What did the plates ever do to you?”

“It’s not the plates.”


“Then why are you stacking them so violently?”

“I’m pretending they’re on fire and I’m piling them on top of your face.”

Sebastian didn’t even flinch at the remark. “And when exactly did you start hating me?


“I don’t hate you.” Donna replied, now out of plates to torture. “I just extremely dislike you, though that has the potential to evolve into hatred.”

“Okay, when did you start ‘extremely disliking’ me?”

“Day one.” The sharp-tongued brunette stated. “Actually, that’s a lie because I avoided talking to anyone I didn’t have to on the first day. I started disliking you the first time you offered me an alliance. What was that, day three or four?”

“Why? It’s not like I pulled a Heather and expected you to obey me.” Sebastian handed her another plate. “I wasn’t expecting a dictatorship, I wanted a partnership.”

Donna wiped the dish with a ratty towel. “I knew what you meant, but the answer was still no.” Once the plate was dry, she practically chucked it into the pile of clean dishes. “Now can you wash any faster? I have better things to do than be trapped in the kitchen with you all night.”

Dinner used to be a time to relax and bond with teammates, but there had been a huge presence missing since the last elimination … both figuratively and literally. Even though the two teams tended to stay separated, Robert used to interact with everybody as though they were his best friend. He had been the glue that kept his team together and a ray of sunlight to brighten a mundane supper. When The Oscars returned to The Hotel without him, dinner was practically silent, The Emmys also feeling the impact of the unexpected loss. When the meal came to an end, the contestants were hit with the realization that Robert was no longer there to jovially volunteer to clean up when nobody else would. Despite the elimination having occurred two nights ago, the cafeteria cleared out immediately after every meal, The Oscars trying to escape the elephant in the room and The Emmys preferring not to get involved.

It became an unspoken rule that the last two people lingering in the cafeteria were stuck with dish duty, which could be rather disgusting depending on the quality of the meal. Towards the end of dinner, Donna had left the cafeteria to retrieve a book that she had left in the confessional, only to return to find that Sebastian was the only contestant that taken the opportunity to flee. Though she normally would have taken a passive stance and completed the chore just to get it over with, she was suffering from another sleepless night thanks to Victor’s snoring and singing, and Sebastian’s presence only worsened her already foul mood.

After a few more minutes of scraping the remains of a goopy pasta sauce of questionable flavor from the dishes, Sebastian broke the silence that had overcome the kitchen. “You know, the alliance offer still stands.”

Aware that arguing would only prolong the dishwashing, Donna placed a dry glass on the counter and bit back her snappish reply, settling for the much milder, “Why don’t you tell that to Elena?”

“Because I can’t stand her.”

The smart aleck rolled her eyes. “Oh, and because everybody else finds her so charming.”

The card shark snorted. “She’s as charming as a bad case of pneumonia.”

“I think I’d rather have pneumonia than have to spend an hour with Elena.” Donna smirked. “But her sparkling personality isn’t a good enough reason for you not to want her in your alliance. You did want me in it, after all.”

“Believe it or not, I don’t think you’re awful.” The gambler gave her a million dollar grin as he handed her another glass. “Elena, however, is even vainer than Gabe, never stops talking, somehow has managed to make everyone hate her, and has a rather obvious thing for me. Not to mention she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing.”

“You mean she has no idea how to work an alliance?”

“No, I mean that she has no idea how to do anything.”

“I’m sure she’s good at something … other than running her mouth, that is.”

“I wouldn’t exactly consider hair brushing or being overtly forward to be useful skills.”

“So the rich girl has a crush on a guy that Daddy didn’t buy for her. Welcome to one of the overused plotlines of reality television.” Donna shrugged nonchalantly. “Is her attraction to you really a bad thing? I thought that was the reputation you were going for?”

Sebastian curled his upper lip and handed her a pan. “I’m not interested in a girl like her.”

“So vote her off. You obviously have the power to make that happen.”

“You could help me with that-”

“Don’t waste your time.” The smart mouth snapped. “I’m not getting recruited into your Asshole Army no matter how much you sweet talk me.”

The strategist chuckled. “I think you’re underestimating me by calling it ‘sweet talking.’ I could persuade the cross off a catholic school teacher.”

“I’m sure you could, Judas.” The brunette cocked a brow. “Why don’t you go use those special skills of yours and win the million dollars instead of wasting your time trying to convince a cipher of a contestant to take your side?”

“You’re not a cipher.” Sebastian argued.

“What have I done so far? Nothing. I’m as interchangeable as it gets. I don’t even want to be here.”

“Then why’re you still here?”

“Oh, you didn’t see the latest book I’m reading?” Donna patted her hand on the novel resting on the counter beside her. “It’s The Quintessential Guide to Taking Down a Reality Program from the Inside.

“Everybody else might believe your bad attitude, but I know better than that. Do you think I just picked you out of random from our whole team? I knew you and I had some things in common and that, unlike the rest of the idiots we’re stuck working with, you seemed smart, sane, and like you could get even the most lovable person kicked off the show just because they said something you didn’t like. I like that.” Sebastian flashed her another one of his perfected charmer’s smiles, but Donna only narrowed her eyes in response.

“The answer is still no.” She tossed the towel at him, grabbed her book, and stomped out of the kitchen.

- She wore a beautiful off-the-shoulder number that accentuated her-

- Fifty percent chance of rain on Thursday, though the sun should come out-

- Of your closet! Literally every piece you have here is going in the trash. The ‘80s called, they want their style back!

Angel sighed as he flipped to the next channel on The Oscars’ television. He sat between an equally as bored Isaac and Allison on the couch in their lounge, Cara and Paul lying on the floor below them sharing a bag of potato chips.

“Well, this is lame.” Isaac remarked.

“Pretty much.” Angel changed the channel again, only to grunt in frustration. “Oh look, we’re back to the first channel again.”

“Why don’t we shut it off if there’s nothing to watch?” Cara suggested. “It’ll conserve power.”

“What’re we supposed to do without the TV on?” Isaac questioned.

Cara gave him a confused glance. “We could just talk.” Isaac and Angel exchanged a look, their identical expressions saying that their teammate had gone mad. “What? Talking isn’t a bad thing!”

“Cara, they don’t understand because they aren’t girls.” Allison explained.

“If men don’t get it, then why isn’t Paul freaking out?” Cara gestured to the Boy Scout.

Isaac snickered. “It’s ‘cause he’s not a real man. He never earned his merit badge for growing a pai-”

“Don’t finish that sentence.” Paul glared up at his teammate.

“Why, you gonna strangle me with a square knot?”

“I wouldn’t use a square knot, I’d use – actually, I’m not even going to bother trying to explain.” The dark-haired teen took out his annoyance on a potato chip. “To answer your question, Cara, I’m not complaining because I hate this show.” He pointed to the television, where a girl in a miniskirt was belting out a ‘70s classic. “These singing contests are awful. They’re rigged to push people through based on their stories instead of their talent, and the hottest person always wins.”

“Luckily this show’s pretty much the exact opposite, otherwise I’d be doomed.” Allison joked, leaning down to steal the bag of chips from between Paul and Cara. As she poured out a handful, Isaac and Angel muttered under their breath to each other. “Still trying to figure out that whole ‘just talking’ thing, boys?”

“None of your business.” Isaac gave her an exaggerated sneer before whispering something to Angel. The pyromaniac cracked up at his roommate’s comment.

“They’re giggling like third grade girls.” Cara observed.

“Why don’t you share your secret with the class?” Allison put a hand on Angel’s shoulder, but the fire starter stayed mum. “Oh, it’s a private thing? Well, I’m sorry we don’t have the special bond that you two do. I mean, seriously, if anybody starts dating by the end of the show it’ll be you two. Forget Victor and Ophelia, or Irina and Paul-”

“It’s not like that!” Paul interjected.

“You keep telling yourself that.” The daredevil smirked in the Boy Scout’s direction. “Either way, Angel and Isaac have you beat.”

“Ha. You’re funny.” Angel deadpanned. “Just because your best attempt at being friendly is not yelling at Avery for an hour doesn’t mean other people aren’t allowed to get along.”

“I have my own definition of friendly.” Allison gave the pyromaniac a playful grin and then handed the bag of chips back to Cara. “But speaking about roommates, where’s Miss Manners?”

“You mean Camille?” Cara frowned. “That’s actually a really good ques-”

“Ugh, pathetic!” A new voice screeched from the kitchenette. Five heads turned to see Rachel Claire crawl out from a cupboard. She got to her feet and brushed off her dress, pausing the tape recorder in her hand.

“You were spying on us!” Paul accused.

“Duh. It’s my job.” Rachel Claire put a hand on her hip. “But you guys are so damn boring! Where’s all the drama?”

“With Avery.”

“The readers will start getting sick of Avery if I don’t get a new story soon. She’s the only member of your team who’s exciting anymore!” The reporter trudged across the room and opened the door. “I swear, you guys are being boring on purpose. You’re going to put me out of business if you keep it up!” She slammed the door behind her, rattling the bowls in the cabinets. The five Oscars shared looks of confusion, trying to ignore the sounds of Rachel Claire’s ranting drifting through the thin walls.

“I screwed up.”

“I think that’s pretty obvious.”

“No, I mean I really screwed up. This whole thing is my fault.”

“Yes, but you’ll get over it.”

“Everybody’s going to hate me even more now, but it was an accident.” Avery slumped against her headboard. “They all kept pushing my buttons, and it all built up until I had to let it all out on the nearest person. Angel was right, Robert was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now I convinced him to quit the competition.” She scrubbed her hands down her face. “I feel like I accidentally kicked a puppy, and then the puppy decided to run away forever.”

“Everybody makes mistakes.” Irina comforted. “Some are just a little worse than others.”

“I don’t think this is a mistake that I can ever recover from. There’s still a target on my back, so I might as well just pack my bags now.”

“It’s only been two days, Avery.” The blonde pointed out. “Give them some time to get over it.”

In the short period since Robert had eliminated himself, Avery's guilt had caused her to melodramatically break down a total of twenty-seven times. Her teammates ignored her, and some were even glad that she was beating herself up, but Irina was there to help her through every incident. The drama queen wasn’t quite sure why the Russian had decided to befriend her, though she appreciated having her by her side.

“This really shouldn’t be anything new. A lot of people hate me … probably more people than I can name.” Avery explained. “But these people actually matter. They’re supposed to be my route to a million dollars, but if I keep this up they’ll just be my roadblock.”

“But this isn’t permanent. You can go around a roadblock. You just have to prove them wrong.” Irina instructed. “Do something amazing and win us a challenge.”

“That’s what I’ve been doing all along! I’ve been trying to lead us to win, but nobody wants my help anymore!” The Jersey girl whined.

“So wait until we do something you’re good at, then you can really show them.”

“But who knows when that will be? We’re probably going to get another B.S. boating challenge and I’ll have no idea what to do. By the time we get to a challenge I actually like, they’ll already have voted me off.”

The blonde put a reassuring hand on her teammate’s shoulder. “You’re tough, and I know you can stick it out until you find the right opportunity. But if you really want to show them that you’ve learned from your mistake, you could start by saying you’re sorry.”

Avery clutched a hand to her chest in offense. “That’s kind of against my personality.”

“Sometimes you have to make sacrifices if you want people to like you.” The model gave her a forced smile, and Avery arched a brow.

“Irina, why are you helping me?”

The bombshell’s fake grin softened into something much more genuine. “I have a lot more in common with you than any of the other girls here, and I think you’re very misunderstood. We’d be good for each other if we were friends.”

“We are friends.” Avery corrected, her pouty lips curling into a smile. “We pretty girls have to stick together, don’t we?” They giggled in unison, giving each other a dainty high five.

Confession Cam

Avery: “When you’re as generally hated as I am, it’s rare that you actually enjoy being around someone. At first I thought it was weird that Irina was treating me like a sister and maybe she was using me for something. Now I’m just glad that I’m not alone in all this.” Her eyes narrowed and darted from side to side. “Nobody needs to know that though. I don’t want to look too vulnerable.”

And Romeo told Juliet, ‘You haven’t seen anything yet, we’ll run away just you and I, our only limit is the sky …’

Ophelia was perched on the eyesore of an armchair in Room 209, swaying back and forth as she sang. Victor sat on the bed in front of her, observing with curiosity. They had been discussing a movie when a particular word had caught Ophelia’s attention, causing her to break into a passionate song. When she came to what must have been an instrumental break, he spoke over the melody that she hummed.

“Did you write that yourself?”

Ophelia chuckled and shook her head. “Nope. My dad used to sing it all the time. I guess I just picked it up after a while.”

“I like it.”

Ophelia’s smile spread further across her face, pale pink staining her cheeks. “I thought you would.”

“You thought right.” Victor replied. “How couldn’t I love Shakespeare references from a beautif-”

“Hey, Victor?”

The actor’s jaw snapped shut at the interruption. He whipped his head to the side to shoot a death glare at Wes, who was leaning out of the bathroom with a cellphone in his hand.

“What do you want?” The drama king hissed.

“I left a notepad on the shelf below the sink with some important stuff written on it.” Wes said, using his palm to cover the speaker on the phone. “Do you know where it is?”

“I threw it away.”

The musician’s eyes widened. “You threw it away?

“I didn’t know you were such a copycat. Polly wants a cracker?” Victor rolled his eyes. “Yes, I threw it away. I had to make room for my shampoo, and it looked like junk, so I trashed it.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Why would you leave important things a couple feet away from the throne in which I do my business?”

Ophelia laughed from her spot in the chair, but Wes stuck out his tongue in disgust. “Too much information, Victor.”

“It taught you a lesson, didn’t it?” The actor triumphantly crossed his arms.

“That notebook was filled with important reminders that I had to give to my mom!” Wes cried. “I put it in the bathroom so I wouldn’t forget where it was!”

“Can your mommy problems wait? I’m kind of in the middle of a conversation.” Victor gestured to Ophelia, who was watching them intently, following their conversation back and forth with her eyes.

“Actually, this can’t wait!” He held the cellphone out in front of him, pointing to the label on the side that read "Property of McLean Studios." “She’s on the line right now, and my phone time’s up in a couple minutes. If I can’t tell her everything on that list, she’ll probably forget to pay the water bill or skimp out on rent and get evicted again.”

“ … Again?”

“It’s happened more than a couple times.”

“Well, that’s your problem, not mine. Go pick through the trash to find your notes. I’m busy.” Victor waved a dismissive hand at his roommate, and Wes shot him a scowl before retreating into the bathroom. When the door clicked shut, the Romeo turned back to Ophelia. “Where were we?”

“Just talking.” Ophelia said, pulling her legs up onto the chair.

“Oh, right.” Victor leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. “About how you’re an amazing sin-”

“I hope you’re happy!” If eyes could throw knives, Victor’s would have impaled Wes by now. The musician stomped out of the bathroom and glared at his roommate. “My own mother hung up on me!”

“Forget about your stupid mom!” The actor screeched. “I don’t care about your train wreck of a family, I’m talking to Ophelia!” Wes gaped at his teammate’s words. When Victor turned to look at Ophelia, she was staring with wide eyes. He sighed. “Okay, fine. Making fun of your family was too far, but you have to learn when you’re not welcome.”

“It’s … it’s fine.” Despite his words, the guitarist nervously rubbed his hand up and down his skinny arm and refused to make eye contact.

“I think you’re welcome, Wes. Why don’t you sit with us?” Ophelia suggested, giving her teammate a sugary sweet smile. “I’m sure you have plenty to say.”

Wes glanced from Ophelia to Victor. “Um, if you guys wouldn’t mind?”

“Oh, no, we wouldn’t mind. Hey, you know what we could talk about while we’re on the subject of music?” Victor gave a sinister leer to his roommate. The musician leaned against the wall beside Ophelia and swallowed anxiously, the actor’s expression clearly broadcasting his desire for revenge. “That song you were writing the other night.”

“Ooh, you’re writing a song?” Ophelia’s exclaimed. “What’s it about?”

“Nothing special.”

“Oh, don’t lie to her, Wes.” Victor smirked, looking over at Ophelia. “Don’t let him fool you. It’s about a girl who is certainly something special to him.”

Ophelia’s face immediately lit up. “You never told me you had a crush! Is she somebody here?”

The songwriter bit his lip. “Um, I don’t-”

“Yes.” His roommate stated for him.

Wes glared at Victor, who returned the expression with an evil grin. The songbird casually shrugged his skinny shoulders at Ophelia. “It’s no big deal. Everyone has feelings for someone else on these shows. It probably won’t work out anyway.”

“Don’t say that!” The artist held up her hands. “My friend, I may not be a matchmaker, but I know that everybody deserves a chance at love, especially people as good as you are! I’ll help you enchant your muse, but first you have to give me her name.”

A gentle rap on the door spared Wes from finishing the awkward conversation. Desperate to escape the hole that he’d been forced into, the guitarist nearly flew over to swing the door open. On the other side, Donna was waiting with a book under her arm.

“Oh, hey there.” Wes gave her a grateful smile. “You don’t even know how glad I am to see you.”

Donna raised an eyebrow. “I don’t hear that very often.”

“You have great timing. I was saved by the bell … or, um, the knock.”

“I’m glad I could be of assistance.” The petite pessimist leaned over to peer past the musician. “If Ophelia is in there causing your trouble, can you please tell her that I’m back?”

“Donna!” Ophelia sprung from her chair and met her roommate at the door. She looked over her shoulder and gave Victor a finger wave. “Thanks for letting me hang out in here, Victor. I’ll see you tomorrow!” She turned to give Wes a wink. “I’ll help you find your muse soon.”

“Oh, it’s fine. I’m sure you have way better things to worry about.” Wes’s attempt at discouragement seemed to have been unheard, as the blonde’s conspiratorial expression stayed put as she shut the door. As she and Donna walked to their room next door, Ophelia linked her arm through the smaller girl’s.

“How were the dishes?”

“The dishes were fine.” Donna shrugged her roommate’s arm away as she dug for her key in her pockets. “The company, however, wasn’t.”

“Who were you stuck with?”

The smart mouth smirked as she fit the key into the lock. “Sebasshole.”

Ophelia guffawed at the insult, stumbling into the room and collapsing onto her bed. Donna sniggered lightly as she shut the door behind her, and Ophelia calmed her giggles enough to sit up and glance over at her. “Does he know you call him that?”

“He’s really into that whole omnipresent, ‘I see all’ thing, so I’m sure he knows. He probably thinks it’s a compliment.” The brunette placed her book on the nightstand and sat on her own bed. “How are Wes and Victor?”

“Excellent! Wes was a little annoyed about some family stuff, but after that he was nice as always. And Victor …” Ophelia sighed her teammate’s name and fell backwards onto the mattress, bursting into her incomplete song. “We’ll run away just you and I, and I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine, we’ll go away and finally be free … and … um…” The artist pouted her lips when the lyrics escaped her memory.

Nothing will matter except you and me.

Ophelia sat up to gape at Donna, who had just finished the verse on perfect pitch. “You know this song?”

The smart aleck nodded. “My mom listens to that CD all the time.”

“Your voice is so pretty! I never knew you had that in you!” The artist cooed. “Why aren’t you into music?”

Donna just released a stale laugh. “Been there, done that, not going to try it again.”

Ophelia furrowed her brow in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“It’s a boring story. You won’t want to hear it.” The smart aleck shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. “Now a story that I do want to hear is where you learned that song.”

Confession Cam

Ophelia: “When I first met her, I thought Donna was sour and mean, but the more I get to know her the more I realize she’s just different. She’s not exactly very enthusiastic or friendly, but when you get to know her she’s a lot more than what she wants you to think she is. She makes us see her as a crab, but I think she’s more like an oyster with a pearl inside.”

Victor: “Karma’s a bitch, Wes. If I’m flirting with a girl, you don’t butt in and screw it up. You mess with me, I’ll mess with you, and now Ophelia knows all about your song and probably won’t stop asking about it until you fess up.” The actor smirked. “Revenge is still sweet even if it’s on your friend.”

Breakfast the next morning had been rather uneventful for a hotel that was full of easily angered young adults. Nobody was outwardly feuding yet, there was not a cloud in the sky to hide the sun, and the pancakes that Monique and Minerva had attempted to make were horrendously overcooked but still semi-edible if one wanted to risk losing their front teeth by biting into them. Remarkably, the competitors – yes, even Elena – were using their inside voices, and the normally noisy cafeteria was filled with only the sound of calm chatter when Avery put her plate down on The Oscars’ table. One of her pancakes slid off the dish and onto the floor, cracking the tile it landed on.

“Everybody, I have something to say.”

“When don’t you have something to say?” Allison retorted.

“She’s being serious this time.” Irina explained. “Just let her talk.”

“Thank you very much.” Avery gave her friend a nod. “I just want to admit that my actions towards Robert in the last challenge were inexcusable. There were just a lot of people treating me badly, which only added to the stress from the awful setting. I was already aggravated, and you guys snapping at me just overwhelmed me and consequentially provoked me to reach my breaking point. I’m sorry for what I did to Robert. He really didn’t deserve it, and I had no idea that he would take what I said so seriously and quit.”

Though this seemed like the correct place to end her speech, the Jersey girl continued on in true drama queen fashion. “I’m also sorry for all of the stupid drama I’ve caused on our team. You guys have to understand that I just want the best for us and I hate to lose, especially if it seemed like we were winning the whole time. I’ll try to be a little nicer from now on, and hopefully we’ll get a few wins under our belt. To prove that I’m a team player and not just the selfish brat you think I am, I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can in the next challenge. We can beat The Emmys, with or without Robert.”

The other Oscars waited to see if she was just taking another theatrical pause, but Avery sat down to signal to them that it was safe to comment. A few teammates exchanged doubtful looks or rolled their eyes, but the diva chose to ignore them and instead concentrated on sawing through her rock hard pancakes.

Except for a few wails of pain when a player failed to pierce their pancake, breakfast continued without any more outbursts. Because it had already been a couple of days since they were sent out to sea, the contestants were anticipating a challenge to be introduced in the form of Chris bursting into the cafeteria in a crazy costume. That, however, was not how the message would be delivered today.

“Hello? Anybody here?” All heads turned at the sound of the unfamiliar voice calling from just outside the cafeteria. Somebody walked past the open doorway, though he backtracked when he realized that he’d found his destination. “Oh, there you guys are. Chris said you’d be in here.”

“Who is that?” Camille attempted to mutter to Cara, though it came out much louder than she had hoped.

The dark-haired stranger laughed. “I figured I’d get that. It’s hard to believe it’s been five whole years since I humiliated myself on international television.”

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!” Minerva launched out of her seat and scurried up to the man. “How can you not recognize him? It’s Trent!” As the other seventeen competitors murmured in apology, Minerva stared at Trent in awe. “What are you doing here?”

“Chris asked me to come back and help out with the challenge.” Trent replied. “I wasn’t exactly cool with seeing people get tortured, but he explained the challenge to me and it’s not that bad … with the bonus that I’m not at any risk of dying since I won’t actually be competing in it.”

“I wouldn’t doubt him. Chris could somehow make a cotton ball dangerous.” Risty commented.

“Well, I think this one should be pretty tame.” Trent waved a beckoning hand. “Follow me!”

Trent led the group towards the front of the film set, where a dark blue, windowless building stood near the golden entrance gates. As the eighteen contestants filed into the building, they found themselves in a spacious auditorium. The room was much larger than the talk show set that had been used for the first challenge, with high ceilings and a tiered seating arrangement. The players had entered at the far back of the audience, and as they made their way down the aisle more and more dim blue lights turned on to illuminate their path. In the front of the room was a massive stage, a single spotlight shining on a microphone stand at its center. The edges of the stage had small but bright lights set into them, and rounded pieces on each side jutted into the audience. A large video screen framed with lights was set against the back wall, with two doors below it that probably led to a backstage area. Immediately in front of the stage was a rickety table and four folding chairs, a strange contrast to the fine decor throughout the rest of the room.

“Ugh, I know what this is!” Paul groaned. “It’s one of those singing contests!”

“That’s right, dorkus!” The spotlight shifted to Chris, who stepped onto the stage through one of the back doors. “Welcome to your fifth challenge: Sing Your Heart Out! Because of the success of shows like high school drama Joy and the shark-jumping revamp of American Icon, we decided that we couldn’t let the singing aspect die with Total Drama World Tour and brought it back!” When Chris walked towards the center of the stage, Trent had the contestants sit in the first and second row of the audience. “This challenge is exactly what its title sounds like: a glorified karaoke contest. As great as the new budget has been, we weren’t going to splurge and get the rights to popular songs, so you’re stuck singing Total Drama World Tour classics.

“The competition will last three rounds. In the first, your entire team has to sing a group number, which you have to participate even if your voice sounds like the cries of a beached whale. In round two, each team will choose its three best singers to go head to head with one of the opposing team’s singers in a duet. The final round will be solos to let the same chosen six show their stuff. I know that some of the words that the World Tour contestants thought up on the spot are a bit crappy, so the performers are free to completely change around the lyrics in any song. We also have a local garage band here to help you help you change the arrangement of the song – just keep it vaguely recognizable, ‘kay? In the end, the judges will decide whose performance was the best in each round. Whichever team has the most victories is the winner!

“To keep this thing from turning into a lame talent show, I’ve stocked your judging panel with a bunch of psychos!” The host smirked as a second spotlight lit up in front of the stage, where four people were crammed shoulder to shoulder behind the folding table. “This set didn’t come with a judging table, so we just grabbed the cheapest one from Wally-Mart for them. Can’t blow the budget on practical things when we can have celebrity cameos, now can we? You guys probably already guessed that your first judge is going to be Total Drama alumnus Trent.” The green-eyed guitarist looked over his shoulder to wave at the contestants. “Next to him is the lovable blonde pop sensation with questionable taste in men and even more questionable amount of common sense, Miss Whitney Steers!”

The bottle blonde singer tilted her head in confusion. “I thought y’all said we were going to a Madame Gogo concert?”

“This is a Madame Gogo concert.” Chris lied.

“Ohhhh, okay then!” Whitney nodded excitedly, singing out, “I need all of your cheers, your cheers, your cheers!

“How are you a millionaire?” Trent shook his head in disappointment from beside the pop princess.

“Our next judge is a former VJ, DJ, and rap artist … among some other less legal careers. It’s our very own Chef Hatchet!” Chef gave the camera an eerie gap-toothed grin. “And beside him we have the comedy queen herself, Helen D’Angelo!

“Why is she here?” Chef asked.

Helen shrugged. “Don’t ask me.” She let out her signature nasally laugh, and Chef covered his ears.

“Yeah, I don’t really know where she came from either.” Chris agreed. “I’ll give your teams a few minutes to find your best singers. Good luck, and please don’t deafen me with your voices. These ears aren’t insured yet.”

“This song is ridiculous. It’s definitely not something worth wasting my musical prowess on.”

“Stop talking, Gabe.”

“I’m not going to sing this cheap jingle on television if I’m not being paid for it.”

“Gabe, you can’t even sing.”

“You don’t know that!” The bushy haired Emmy crossed his arms. “I have the voice of a god!”

“You just sang when we were choosing our representatives, dumbass.” Elena reminded her alliance-mate. “It sounded more like a gagging goose than a god. Long story short: you suck.”

Gabe turned up his nose. “I was just saving my voice for when it counts.”

“Oh, just like you’re saving your intelligence for when it counts?” The socialite snapped.

The wealthy boy’s jaw dropped. “I don’t know who you’re trying to kid because you’re even dumber than I am. At least I have a bad attitude because I’m better than everyone else. You think you’re high and mighty, but you’re really just a dumb bi-”

“Okay, it’s rehearsal time, shut up.” Risty stepped in between her feuding teammates. “Just chill, will you?”

Gabe and Elena’s didn’t break their glaring contest but remained silent. Monique handed them each a paper with a part of “Eine Kleine” highlighted on it. “These are your lines. Sing them on your cue and don’t screw up.”

Gabe scoffed at his sheet. “Why do I only have one line?!”

“Most of us do.” Monique stated.

The spoiled jerk held the paper in front of the designer’s face and pointed at the highlighted line. “This is my entire line? ‘Shhhh?’ That’s not even a word!”

“I hate to say it, but Elena was right.” The trendsetter pushed his page aside. “You really can’t sing.”

“Ha-ha.” Elena stuck her tongue out at Gabe, who flipped her the bird. Monique pressed play on the CD player and a jaunty Mozart melody began to play.

“Keep it down so I can win the loot.” Sebastian sang over the music.

“Try, I will, but I still got to fart – no, toot!” Minerva followed. There was a pause as the music continued and Monique abruptly stopped the CD, all eyes turning to Gabe.

“What?” He held up his hands in innocence.

“That was your cue, idiot!” Elena elbowed him in the arm.

“Oh, um.” Gabe cleared his throat. “Sorry, I was still warming up my vocal chords.”

Monique rolled her eyes and restarted the CD. “Let’s just try this again.”

“Keep it down so I can win the loot.”

“Try, I will, but I still got to fart – no, toot!”

Gabe sucked a deep breath in and, with as much dramatics as he could possibly muster, released his, “Shhhhhhhhhh!”

“GABE!” Monique stopped the music again.

“I was making sure I had enough air so I didn’t go flat!”

“Why was it so loud?”

“I was projecting my voice! You don’t understand theater!”

Elena grumbled and pushed back her hair. “Do we have to give him a line?”

“The paper actually says ‘All contestants – even the tone deaf ones – must sing unless they are pardoned for an excusable circumstance.'”

“I think his stupidity is an excusable circumstance!” The socialite stomped her foot. “He’s bringing us down!”

As Elena fumed, Victor leaned over and pointed at Gabe’s paper. “You see this line here? That’s Minerva’s. And this one word after it? That’s your part. That’d be why it’s highlighted, are you following me?”

Gabe scowled. “I’m not an idiot.”

“Mm-hmm, you just keep telling yourself that.” Victor gestured towards Minerva. “See the girl with the big red hair over there? That’s Minerva, in case you didn’t know. The second she’s done saying ‘toot,’ you say, ‘Shhhh.’ You can’t hold it for more than about a second, and you have to do it right away, got it? And if you don’t get it right, I will personally push you off the stage for ruining my performance.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” Gabe challenged.

“He totally would.” Wes warned. “Trust me.”

“Take it from the top!” Victor ordered, and the music started again.

“Keep it down so I can win the loot.”

“Try, I will, but I still got to fart – no, toot!”

“Shhhh!” This time, the line was perfectly timed and brief.

Monique continued the song with a pleased smile. “Toot on, but you’re still out of luck. You suck the lemon chuck.”

“Excuse me?!” Elena snarled. “You think you’re so sly, but I can tell that was directed at me!”


“If that’s the best you’ve got, then you’d better go get some ointment because I’m going to burn you so bad-”

“It’s the lyrics, Elena!” Monique shook her paper at her. “Look, it’s written on the page right in front of you! It’s what the damn song says!”

Elena examined the paper. “Oh. Carry on then.”

Confession Cam

Monique: The New Yorker sighed. “I’m surrounded by idiots. Sure, I can’t even make pancakes without burning them, but that doesn’t make me even half as pathetic as some of my teammates are. If we lose this challenge, I don’t even know if I’ll vote out Gabe or Elena. Can’t we just make it a double elimination and get rid of them both?”

When Avery Dellcourte makes a promise, she keeps it. So when she told her team that she would work hard to assure their win in the challenge, she definitely was not going to let them down. Fortunately, this challenge was right up her alley, as she had plenty of experience with singing after taking over her elementary school choir. She immediately volunteered to be one of The Oscars’ singers for the duets and solo, but she knew that this would not be enough – she had to go above and beyond.

There were a total of eight Oscars left in the competition, and they had drawn “Come Fly With Us” for the group round, which had a huge cast. Avery was singing for Courtney, Harold, Ezekiel, and Izzy. All four parts had solos, and some even sang together. It was an impossible feat, but she was willing to take the challenge to show her teammates that she had meant everything she said in her apology. The rest of the team was glad to watch her make a fool of herself to prove it.

“My singing voice sounds like a cross between a constipated dog and a dying cat.” Isaac painted a heinous mental picture for his teammates, who had gathered backstage. “I really think I can only handle a speaking part.”

“You’re playing Duncan and Chef.” Irina said. “You literally only have to sing ‘this sucks’ at the end.”

“I really should be singing ‘I suck,’ because I’m beyond awful.”

“I’m a bad singer too.” Camille admitted.

“If you mess up, everybody with think it’s cute.” Irina pointed out. “You’re so innocent that I think even Chef will let a mistake slide. It’s hard to dislike you.”

“Aw, thank you, but I really don’t think he’ll be able to ignore my voice.” Camille grimaced.

“You know, you guys are fussing over little things when we have a much bigger problem.” Allison spoke up. “I think we have to deal with the solos and duets before we try to figure out the group song.”

“You don’t think you’ll do a good job?” Paul questioned.

“I think I’ll do fine, but that might not be good enough when you compare it to what The Emmys can do. For our team, we have me singing ‘Sisters,’ Angel on ‘Her Real Name Isn’t Blaineley,’ and Avery with ‘I’m Sorry.’ Even though I hate her, we all know Avery probably has the best voice and drew the best song out of the three of us, but Angel and I are just decent singers and landed crappy songs. I’m going to see if I can work with the band and change up ‘Sisters,’ but even with that I’m not going to be amazing.”

“She kind of has a point.” Angel said. “I have a pretty good voice, but I’ve never done anything like this, and ‘Her Real Name Isn’t Blaineley’ is kind of a song that’s doomed for failure.”

“And then we have to consider what The Emmys have.” Allison continued. “They've got Wes, the token musician, and we all heard him perform for Chris in the second challenge – he’s a dang songbird! Victor’s a professional actor who’s probably been starring in musicals since he could walk, and Ophelia has the same thing going for her that Camille does. Even if she screwed up, the judges probably wouldn’t mind because she’s adorable.”

“So what if they have slightly better singers? You guys can still beat them.” Paul encouraged.

“Okay, even if they don’t turn out to have much more skill than we do, think about which World Tour songs are left for the solo round. The only ones I can think of are ‘Boyfriend Kisser,’ ‘Paris in the Springtime,’ and ‘Oh My Izzy.’ You know if Wes gets ‘Paris’ or ‘Oh Izzy’ he’ll go up there and croon it with his guitar. It would be romantic, it would be fabulous, Whitney Steers would probably melt, and the other judges would love it. There’s no way we can beat that.”

“We don’t know that he has one of those songs, though.” Cara pointed out. “We still have a chance!”

“That’d be where I come in and let all your hopes down.” Rachel Claire popped out from behind a vanity, her trusty tape recorder in hand. “Unfortunately for you, Allison was on the right track. Wes has ‘Oh My Izzy’ and he’s already fooling around with his guitar.”

“Why’re you telling us this?” Irina asked, ignoring Allison’s ‘told you so’ expression.

“I’m just stirring up the drama. You should appreciate my help.” The reporter said, sinking back behind the vanity. “Just pretend I’m not here and go on with your conversation.”

“You know, there is a way we could definitely beat them.” Isaac mentioned once Rachel Claire was hidden again. When his teammates all glanced at him, a lopsided smirk crawled across his face. “Cheat.”

A collective gasp ran through the team.

“We can’t do that!” Cara cried. “It’s wrong!”

“Hey, I’m not saying we’re gonna kill somebody.” The slacker defended his suggestion. “We’ve just got to … temporarily hinder them in a completely nonviolent way.”

Cara bit her lower lip with uncertainty. “Well, I guess when you put it that way …”

“But how could we cheat?” Camille questioned.

“We don’t have a lot of time, so we need to find something that can make someone lose their voice instantly.” The troublemaker explained. “Any ideas?”

The Oscars were silent. After a few minutes, Angel snapped his fingers.

“Of course!” The fire starter exclaimed. “I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but mi mamá is known around my hometown for making the best and hottest meals around. She’s won cook-offs because she uses her secret sauce in all of her recipes. Even I don’t know what’s in it, but she won the award for hottest dish in one competition because the judges actually got sore throats because from the little bit of secret sauce she put in her cuajitos en salsa. Back when she was still figuring out the recipe, our neighbor lost his voice from a batch of cuajitos with too much sauce in it!”

“Great, but it won’t be much help if you don’t know how to make it.” Avery stated.

Angel grinned. “No, but it can help us if I just happened to have put a bottle in my luggage in case we had to do a cooking challenge!”

“What are you waiting for, man?” Isaac hopped to his feet. “You and I can go back to The Hotel and get it. While everyone else practices, we can think of a plan to make this work.”

As the two young men rushed off, Cara’s fingers fidgeted with the ends of her shirt. “This doesn’t feel wrong to any of you?”

“Sometimes good people do bad things.” Camille murmured from her spot beside her. Cara gave her roommate a wide-eyed look of confusion, though Camille just opened her purse and pulled out a tube of lipstick. Cara tried to sneak a peek into the bag, but it was snapped closed before she could even begin to see what was inside.

“I loved Paris in the springtime, je t’aime Paris in the fall! She was the girl I loved in the summer-”

“Wait, ‘she?’ I thought Paris was a city?”

Victor turned to Ophelia, making a gesture to the band to cut them off. “Yes, Paris is a city, but this Paris is a person.”

Ophelia puckered her lips in a mix of puzzlement and annoyance. “Who is this Paris?”

“Paris is a classmate of mine … and my ex-girlfriend.”

The artist’s doe eyes narrowed and her lips clenched in a tight line, her expression a perfect image of jealousy. “Was this Paris pretty?”

“She was very pretty.” The actor replied, and Ophelia’s eyes gained a glossy sheen as tears threatened to spill down her cheeks. “But Paris was also very mean. I took her to homecoming after we were dating for a couple of months and I found her making out in the janitor’s closet with another guy.”

“Why would you date her then?”

“I didn’t know she'd do something like that to me.”

“Oh.” The blonde looked anywhere but at her teammate, trying to hide that she was still upset.

“I used to think that Paris was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met in real life …” Victor placed a gentle hand on her arm. “But that was before I met you. You’re much prettier than she ever was, and you have a sparkling personality to match. She was just a stupid girl, but you’re so much better than she was.”

Ophelia finally met his eye, her green eyes huge. “Then why are you singing about Paris and not me?”

Victor laughed. “Is that why you’re so upset?” The pale-haired girl nodded. “I’m singing a song about Paris tearing my heart apart, not about how much I like her.”

“… Really?”

“Yes, really.” The Romeo smiled at the oddball. “Maybe if you listened to the lyrics, you’d know that you don’t have to worry. Did you think I was singing a love song?”

Ophelia nodded, her envious expression replaced with her much more natural excited one. “I’m just so glad you’re not.”

“Here, why don’t you listen to the words this time?” Victor had the band start the song again and gave Ophelia a smile before he began to sing.

Confession Cam

Ophelia: “Victor had me worried for a minute, but I’m just relieved he’s not singing to some girl. I was so afraid that I was reading everything wrong and he had a girlfriend or something, but it was just a misunderstanding. I’m going to make the best out of an awkward situation, since now I can keep Paris in mind when I’m singing ‘Boyfriend Kisser!’” The painter paused, her pale face flushing pink. “Um, not that Victor’s my boyfriend or anything. He’s just a guy that I like … really like … a lot.”

“Paul, you’re a good person, right?”

The Boy Scout turned to look at Cara, who sat beside him on the edge of the stage. Angel and Isaac were still at The Hotel formulating their master plan, Allison, Avery, and Irina had gone off to work with the band, and the team had somehow misplaced Camille, so Paul and Cara had been left waiting for their teammates to regroup. Neither was pleased that they were unable to be of more assistance in the challenge, but musical talent wasn’t exactly something that they could find hidden in a box backstage, so they had to settle for being The Oscars’ support system.

“I like to think I’m a good person.” Paul agreed.

“Are you okay with Isaac cheating?” Cara asked.

Paul opened his mouth to give her an automatic response, but he shut it before he could get a word out, his face curling into a pondering expression. “Honestly, I’m not okay with it, but I know that anything I say won’t stop him. Isaac might seem like a pretty terrible person, but he’s got charisma, so our teammates listen to him even though they probably shouldn’t.”

“He’s … he’s not a terrible person.”

“Not to you, he isn’t.” The all-American boy countered. “But think about the way he treats me or Avery, or how he acts like Irina’s just a piece of meat. Isaac’s a total jerk, even if he fakes being a nice guy to you.”

“He’s not faking it.” The tree hugger denied. “What good would that do him?”

“We’re in the middle of an elimination game, so you have to think that everybody has a strategy and something up their sleeve. He probably just wants you on his side because he’s been on the bottom so many times.”

“Or maybe he just genuinely likes me.”

“Or he could just be flirting with you. If there’s one thing Isaac’s shown us from day one, it’s that he’s a complete horn dog.”

“I think he wants to be my friend.”

“And I think he probably just wants to get in your pants.” Before Cara could protest any further, Paul held up his hand. “Look, I’m not saying he’s not a bad guy with a heart of gold. For all I know, he is. I’m just telling you to be cautious because he might not be the knight in shining armor that you think he is.”

“We're baaaaaaaack!” The door at the back of the audience slammed open, and Isaac and Angel entered the room with a tray of sandwiches. Isaac banged on the side of the tray to get the attention of the contestants that were backstage. “Why don’t you all take a break and eat some lunch? Angel and I were gracious enough to make it!”

Cara twirled the ends of her hair, her lips pressed tightly together. “I … I guess I’ll keep what you said in mind.”

“I hope I could help you out. You’re too nice to be hurt by someone like him.” Paul got to his feet and offered her a hand. The environmentalist gladly accepted the help, and they walked down the steps and into the audience. The other contestants herded out from backstage, gathering around the tray of sandwiches that Isaac and Angel had placed on the judging table. When the Boy Scout and nature lover approached the table, Isaac indicated a sandwich that was set aside from the rest.

“I know you’re a vegetarian, so I made this one without meat for you.”

Cara gave him a shy smile. “Thank you.” She wiggled her sandwich teasingly in front of Paul as she located Camille in the audience. “Told you so.”

“Hang on.” The Boy Scout subtly gestured towards the table, where Wes stepped to the front of the group. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

When Wes reached to pick up a sandwich, Isaac snatched it from his hand. “Whoa, dude, not that one! I was saving that one for myself!” He picked up another sandwich and held it out to the lanky songbird. “Take this one.”

Wes narrowed his eyes at the offering. “Did you spit on this one or something?”

“It’s just a sandwich, Stretch. It’s probably more afraid of you than you are of it.” Angel teased. “Do we look like the kind of guys to sabotage your food?”

Wes looked between Angel and Isaac a few times before shrugging his shoulders. “I guess not. Sorry about that.”

“Not a problem.” Isaac shot him a finger gun. “Enjoy it.”

When the musician headed over to sit with his team, Isaac and Angel exchanged a fist bump, and Paul raised an eyebrow at Cara. Cara collapsed into the seat beside Camille, her gaze following Wes's every move.

As lunch continued, Cara was not the only one who was keeping an inconspicuous eye on Wes and his sabotaged sandwich. However, the musician had been distracted by a conversation with Risty, and the sandwich rested uneaten on his denim-covered leg. Whenever an Emmy noticed an Oscar staring, they tried to act casually, though the entire team was getting anxious to see if Isaac and Angel’s plan would be a success. When the guitarist finally brought the sandwich to his mouth, all eight of the Oscars’ stares were locked onto him. Wes took a bite and chewed, and his competition was left on the edges of their seats.

“Huh. This is really good.” Wes lifted the top bun of the sandwich. “Where’d you guys get the-”

It only took a moment for the spice to kick in and cut him off midsentence. The guitarist’s face turned bright crimson and his eyes began to water, the other Emmys circling around him in distress. Eventually, Wes opened his mouth to let out an ear-splitting scream. He burst from his chair, his hands shooting up to cover his mouth as he frantically ran around to search for water. This movement sent the hot sauce-laced sandwich flying straight towards The Oscars. Most of the team ducked to dodge the rogue sandwich, but it ended up hitting Camille square in the face. The aristocrat let out a squeal when the hot sauce got into her eyes and joined Wes in the hysterical hunt for water.

The auditorium was filled with pure chaos, some of The Emmys screaming at The Oscars while other players chased after Wes and Camille to attempt to help them. In the middle of it all, Cara stared with wide brown eyes as Isaac gave Angel a congratulatory high five.

Confession Cam

Cara: “I don’t even want to think about it, but what if Paul’s right? Maybe Isaac’s not a Duncan, maybe he’s more of a … an Alejandro.”

The Emmys were assembled in front of Chef Hatchet’s medical trailer, anxiously waiting to find out what had happened to Wes. Their gangly teammate had been inside for ten minutes now, but they couldn’t hear anything that was going on through the trailer's thin metal walls.

“Do you think he’ll be okay?” Minerva wondered.

“He’d better be.” Risty replied. “The Oscars must’ve put something in his food, so if he’s hurt I think we should throw a lawsuit at them.”

“My family has plenty lawyers to choose from.” Gabe pitched in.

“He’ll be fine.” Victor waved his hand dismissively. “Wes would do anything to help the team, so there’s no way he’ll let something like this set him back.”

As if on cue, the trailer door opened and Wes stepped outside. He looked good as new, his face back to its usual shade, though his expression was a distressing mix of worry and discomfort.

“Well?” Monique asked.

Wes opened his mouth to answer, but nothing came out.

“What was that?” Sebastian asked. “I couldn’t hear you.”

Wes’s jaw fell open and closed, but again there was only silence.

“What’s going on?!” Victor yelped. Behind Wes, Chef Hatchet stepped out of the trailer with a solemn look on his face.

“I don’t know what the hell they put in that sandwich, but they really screwed up his throat.” Chef explicated. “The boy ain’t gon’ be able to talk for at least twenty-four hours, maybe more.”

The Emmys swarmed around Chef, throwing panicked exclamations at him. “We only have an hour left before the challenge!” Monique yelled. “How’re we supposed to find a replacement in time?”

“Oh, I know!” Ophelia raised her hand.

“Replacin’ him’s not my problem.” Chef answered the designer, ignoring Ophelia’s squirming. “I might be able to pull some strings and get you an extra hour to practice, but that’s all.”

“Can’t The Oscars get disqualified for this?!” Elena shrieked. “They cheated!”

“Guys, over here!” Ophelia waved her arms over her head. “I have an idea!”

“Elena’s right, they should lose the challenge automatically!” For once, Minerva shared an opinion with the socialite.

Ophelia cupped her hands around her mouth to achieve maximum volume. “Guys! I know what to do!” Her teammates turned to look at the eccentric artist. “Donna can do it!”

The Emmys backed away from to reveal Donna sitting on the ground against the side of the trailer, attempting to avoid the drama. She stared wide-eyed up at Ophelia. “Me?

“I heard her sing last night and she’s really good!” Ophelia preached to her teammates. “She won’t admit it, but she probably sings just as well as Wes does … or, um, did. Wes can guide her through what he had planned for all the songs, and I’m sure the judges would like the unexpected underdog thing. We could still have a fighting chance at not sending someone home!”

Risty looked down at Donna. “Would you be willing to do that?”

“I’m really not good with situations like this.” The smart aleck confessed.

“Don’t let her trick you. She’s a natural at singing.” Ophelia argued, crouching down to speak to her roommate. “You sing better than I do, and the judges won’t care that you’re not a people person. It’s a singing competition, not a popularity contest, and I think you can do it. And this is my only idea, so if you don’t do it we don’t have a Plan C.”

“Will you do it? Please?” Minerva begged.

Donna’s eyes darted between the nine expectant faces staring down at her. Eventually, she sighed. “Okay.”

“Well, this is an unexpected turn of events.” The camera switched over to Chris, who was standing on the stage. “Now, before I forget, it’s product placement time! Today’s background band is Optimal Beta, who are based right here in Major City!” The host held up a CD case. “You can buy their music online or on their website at www dot … actually, you know what, just look them up.”

He tossed the CD over his shoulder, the case clattering on the wooden stage. “Will Donna be able to help her team earn the victory, or will The Oscars’ cheating pay off? Will Avery finally be able to prove herself to her teammates? Will Paul’s assumptions about Isaac be correct? Hopefully we can find out when we return to Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

Chapter Ten: The Great Reveal of Miss Camille

Updated: July 3, 2014

“Shouldn’t have mocked you for having to dig, help me out and I’ll be your human drill-rig.”

Avery rocked back and forth on the tips of her high heels while the band played the instrumental for Alejandro’s lyrics. As she swayed her hips, she caught somebody moving in her peripheral vision. In one swift motion, she cut off the band and swung around to find that Isaac had sat down in the chair behind her. He clapped slowly for her, and she arched a brow.

“Like what you see?”

“You could say that.” Isaac leaned back in the chair. “Who knew that somebody who whines so much could have such a smoky singing voice?”

“Do you think I’d have been so eager to volunteer if I didn’t know I could sing?”

“I think you’ll make the men at home a little more than eager if you sound anything like that on camera.”

Avery wasn’t sure if she was complimented or offended by the comment, so she pursed her lips in a neutral expression. “Who let you back here?”

Her troublemaking teammate only shrugged. “Nobody stopped me.”

The drama queen rolled her eyes and dismissed the band for a coffee break. When the musicians left the room, she hoisted herself up to sit atop the piano. “I don’t see why you’re wasting time back here. Shouldn’t you be celebrating your prank victory with Angel?”

“He’s with Allison.”


“She’s annoying as hell.” Isaac sneered.

“You’re preaching to the choir.” Avery remarked.

The slacker shot her his signature smirk. “I’m not just saying that to impress you, you know. You and I just happen to hate the same person.”

“Hate’s a strong word.”

“Well I sure don’t love her, so I don’t know what else I could say.”

The beautiful brunette gestured towards herself. “I hate her. You just don’t like her because she stole Angel from you.”

“Eh, she can have him for now. I’ve had a little too much manly bonding time and figured talking to you would be a nice change of pace.” Isaac claimed.

“There’re plenty of other Oscars you could bother. You don’t have to sit around with someone you hate.”

“Hate’s a strong word.” He fired the drama queen’s phrase right back at her.

Avery just crossed her arms. “Considering how you’ve treated me for the past four episodes, I’d say it’s the right one to use.”

“Nah, you’re growing on me a bit.” The underachiever admitted. “I was the first to call you out when you apologized for the Robert thing, but you’re doing just what you said and trying to help us win. You’re a lot more honest than I thought you’d be.”

“I live up to my word. I’m not exactly the ruthless queen bee you think I am. If you guys stopped underestimating me, maybe you’d see I’m much better than that.”

“See, you make me want to hate you again when you say things like that.” Avery chuckled at Isaac’s comment, but she immediately stopped when she noticed that he had a straight face on. “That wasn’t a joke.”

“What I said wasn’t a joke either, but if you don’t like me I’m not going to pretend to be somebody else for you.” Avery curled her upper lip. “You can either have me as I am or not have me at all.”

“We’ll see how that works out.” Isaac and Avery glared at each other for a long moment before she broke the cold silence.

“Did you come back here to try to fix things or to make them worse?”

Isaac gave her a sly smirk. “Your choice.”

Confession Cam

Avery: The olive-skinned girl leaned against the side of the confessional, her eyes narrowed and her lips pressed in a tight line. “What is his problem? At first I thought he was just trying to tick me off, but then it kind of seemed like he was flirting with me.” She rolled her eyes. “If that’s the case, then what did Cara do to make him tired of her already?”

“We tried to hunt down some props to help you out, but all we could find are these.” Minerva pushed a notebook, a pen, and a bell hanging from a string towards Wes. The temporarily mute musician examined the items and then furrowed his brow in confusion. “I know they’re not the best, but we just wanted to help you in any way we could.”

Wes picked up the pen and paper and nodded at them. Then, he held up the bell and shrugged his shoulders. Minerva nodded at him, though her blank expression revealed her lack of understanding.

“I think he wants to know what the bell is for.” Victor translated.

“Oh!” Minerva slapped her palm to her forehead. “Duh! It’s so you can get our attention if you want to say something … or, well, I guess you can’t really say anything, but you can write it!”

The guitarist furrowed his brow, and the loudmouth smiled awkwardly back. He held up the bell and pointed to the string with a puzzled look.

“It’s a string.” The redhead stated. Wes shook his head in disappointment, and Risty sighed from behind Minerva.

“She wanted you to wear the bell around your neck so you wouldn’t lose it-”

“And for easy access!” Minerva added.

Risty rolled her eyes. “And for easy access. I told her it was a dumb and mildly degrading idea, but she thought it’d be cute.”

Wes refused to look at Minerva, instead taking one long stare at the bell before tucking it into his pocket. He then gave the chatterbox a thumbs up and a weak smile.

Minerva grinned to herself as she plopped down beside Monique atop a costume chest. “I knew he’d like it.”

“Wes, Chef said he could only get you an extra hour to practice,” Monique reminded her teammate, “So you need to get a move on with those songs.”

Wes nodded at Monique and then scribbled a message in the notebook. Where’s Donna?

Monique and Wes scanned the backstage area that their team was gathered in for anything sign of the smart mouth. Eventually, Monique spotted a bit of brown hair peeking out from behind Ophelia and a rack of costumes. The diminutive diva marched over and slid Ophelia and the rack aside to reveal Donna sitting on the floor. She smiled uncomfortably.

“Wow, you found me!” Donna deadpanned, wiggling her fingers with false enthusiasm. “Now it’s your turn to hide.”

“If you were trying to hide, you’ll have to do a much better job than that.” Monique said.

“I’ll keep that in mind for next time.”

“Good.” Monique stepped out of Donna’s way and motioned for her to stand. “Now get up, this isn’t a game.”

Donna reluctantly got to her feet and walked over to where Wes was slinging his guitar over his shoulder. “Where exactly will we be practicing? I don’t want to be in the way.”

The guitarist gesticulated wildly, though Donna and the other Emmys didn’t seem to follow. Ophelia pointed to a door across the backstage area. “Why don’t you go ask the band? I think they’re practicing with one of The Oscars right now, but I’m sure they can unlock something for you.”

Wes stood up and gave Donna a smile, though Donna’s expression remained neutral as she followed him towards the door.

“I hope she’s at least a little sympathetic since he can’t talk.” Sebastian commented.

“What do you mean?” Minerva asked.

“I mean that she’ll probably tear the kid apart.”

While many of the singers had chosen to make the most of their extra hour by practicing backstage, Allison and Angel had camped out in the third row of the audience to await Camille’s return. Cara, Paul, and Irina had followed the injured aristocrat to Chef Hatchet’s medical trailer, though over half an hour had passed and they still hadn’t returned.

“Do you think it’s really serious?” Allison asked, keeping her eyes on the exit.

“No way.” Angel replied, glancing over to the chair that Camille had left her purse on. “The sauce isn’t that strong … or at least I don’t think it is. Nobody was ever clumsy enough to get it in their eye before.”

“If she’s legally blind, would she sue you or the show?”

“Don’t say that!” The pyromaniac cried. “As if this wasn’t bad enough, your worrying is making it worse!”

“I’m just saying, I’m pretty sure Chris had us all sign an agreement that we wouldn’t sue him before we got on the show. I know how it feels to be responsible for an accident, and it really sucks to get stuck with all the blame.”

“Do I even want to know what happened?”

Allison waved a casual hand. “Nothing special, just a freak canoeing accident.”

Angel opened his mouth to question her, but thought it’d probably be better not to. “I just don’t want to think about it ‘til I have to.”

“Hey, it might turn out fine.” The scarlet-haired girl leaned back in her chair. “For all we know, she has eye drops in her purse.”

Angel immediately perked up at his friend’s words. “I know the perfect distraction!”

“Is this something fire-related?”

“No.” Angel pointed at Camille’s handbag. “I want to know what’s in there.”

Allison gaped. “No way! She guards that thing with her life! If she caught you looking in there, who knows what she’d do?”

“So you don’t think she’s as innocent as she seems?”

The punk’s dark eyes darted around the room, and she lowered her voice until it was just above a whisper. “Okay, no, I don’t believe her, she’s suspicious as hell. At first it was just little things – she could shoot a bow and arrow like a pro, she literally tells us nothing about her. But then Paul saw her doing something weird in the corner during the music video challenge, and now Cara’s been talking about her disappearing all the time.”

“Then don’t you want to figure out what’s up with her?” Angel asked. “You’re obviously curious, and the answer might be in that bag.”

“What if we’re wrong?”

“Then she’ll never know we looked.”

“What if there’s something in there we don’t want to know about?”

“Like what?”

Allison started counting items on her fingers. “A bomb. Whatever’s left of Blaineley’s dead career. Secret terrorist documents plotting the destruction of Ocean Island and everything within an eighty mile radius. A freshly decapitated human head.”

“I thought you’d think seeing a human head would be cool?”

“Not if it’s fresh!”

Angel’s lips curled into a clever grin. “… What if I dared you to look in there?”

Allison’s eyes bugged. “… I, um …”

“You never turn down a dare, right?” The spiky-haired teen repeated his teammate’s own words. “You said you’re not afraid of anything.”

The daredevil did a quick overview of the room, keeping her teeth clamped onto her lower lip. When she concluded that they were the only people on the outside of the stage, she reached for the handbag. “Fine. Challenge accepted.”

Allison moved over to the seat beside the purse, hunching over it to make sure any intruders were unable to see what she was doing. She slowly unclasped the bag and reached her hand inside to shuffle through its contents. Glad that she hadn’t run into the fresh human head that she’d anticipated, she began to dig deeper into the bag. She removed several girlish items before reaching the bottom, her eyes widening as her fist clenched around something completely unexpected.

“What is it?” Angel asked, leaning in to look.

“It’s … a big-ass diamond!” Though Allison hadn't exactly made the most sophisticated choice of adjective, the gem that she removed from the purse was massive. It was at least the size of her fist and sparkled intensely in the dim overhead lighting. Allison and Angel were almost positive that they had a very real and undoubtedly very pricey diamond in front of them. There was a thin rope tied around it with an aged piece of paper on the end of it. The daredevil turned the paper over and read aloud, “Search for the birch with initials A.B., the next piece lies six feet deep.”

“Huh. I guess Camille’s into emo poetry.” Angel snorted. “What the hell is it supposed to mean?”

“It means that you two rats need to mind your own business!” Angel and Allison turned towards the doors with matching expressions of fear. There stood Camille, her dark eyes narrowed and bloodshot from the hot sauce. Her deep red lips were curled into a snarl as she spoke in a darker, much more mature voice. “I’m going to give you three seconds to give me the diamond and get out of here. You will never speak of this again – not now, not when I get both of you eliminated, not ever.”

“Fat chance!” Angel retorted. “What is this, a secret code?”

“One …” The black-haired girl gritted her teeth. “Two …

“We’re not leaving until you tell us what’s going on, Camille … if that’s even your real name!” Allison argued. “What are you hiding?”

“Give me the damn diamond or I’m not going to wait for the elimination ceremony to get rid of you two.” Camille threatened.

“Tell us what’s going on first!” Allison shouted.

“I said give it to me, you little freak!”

Camille grabbed two fistfuls of Allison’s hair and began to pull with all of her might. The punk yowled in pain but kept the diamond clutched tightly to her chest as the aristocrat dug her long nails into her scalp. Panicked, Angel scrambled to find something to help her and ended up smacking Camille in the face with her own purse. The blow made Camille release Allison, and Angel grabbed the daredevil’s arm and pulled her into the aisle, chucking the handbag at their pursuer in an attempt to slow her down. The thrill seeker and fire starter rushed towards the stage, but Camille was quick to recover and bounded after them. Allison and Angel were halfway up the stairs leading to the stage when the punk heard something whiz past her ear. It was Camille’s shoe, which hit Angel in the shoulder at full speed. Unprepared for the attack, he tripped on the stairs, his elbow accidentally bumping into Allison as he fell to his knees. The diamond was knocked from her hands and started to topple down the stairs.

“Get it!” Allison shrieked when Camille dove across the few feet separating her from the stairs, reaching for the diamond in midair. At an advantage because he was already on the ground, Angel snatched the gem before she could. Allison tugged him to his feet as Camille face-planted onto the stair. The daredevil and pyromaniac hurried across the stage, Angel clutching the diamond tightly between his hands. Once they reached the nearest backstage door, Allison fumbled with the knob. It was locked. They began rapidly pounding against it.

“HELP US! PLEASE!” They could hear Camille getting up behind them. “UNLOCK IT! LET US IN!”

The moment the door started to open, Allison and Angel charged in and slammed it behind them. Paul, Cara, and Irina could only stare.

“Are you okay?” Irina wondered.

“No, we’re not okay!” Angel barked, locking the door and then leaning his body against it. “We need to put up a barrier or something!”

“Grab anything you can!” Allison started shoving all objects within reach in front of the door, Angel joining her a moment later.

“What’s going on?” Paul asked as the pile started to accumulate. “What’s out there?”

Angel struggled to explain what they had seen. “It’s … it’s Camille, but it’s not Camille!”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Cara looked offended in her roommate’s honor, though Allison didn’t seem to care when she picked her up and inserted her into the barricade.

“Cara, you don’t understand. She’s turned into a monster!” Allison explained. “She tried to rip out my hair and was threatening to ‘get rid of’ us!”

“Then she threw her shoe at me!” Angel pulled his sleeve up to show the welt that had formed on his upper arm. “She was chasing us, and we barely got away.”

“I have no idea what you guys are on, but there’s no way that’s possible.” Paul said, pushing a few items away from the door to free Cara from the barrier. “We were just with Camille a couple minutes ago. Chef helped reduce the redness and then sent her back to The Hotel to continue washing out her eyes.”

“And she would never do anything like that.” Cara insisted.

“We know it sounds crazy, but you have to believe us.” Angel pleaded, interlacing his fingers. “She was trying to kill us!”

Irina pointed to the diamond clutched between the terrified teen’s hands. “What’s that?”


“Who is it?” Cara called despite Angel and Allison’s desperate signals for her not to.

“It’s Camille!” Allison and Angel exchanged a look of terror.

“Here, there’s some stuff blocking the door. Just give us a minute to move it.” Paul reached out to push a trunk out of the way, but Allison smacked his hands away.

“Please don’t!” The daredevil begged. “You have to believe us, Paul. We’re your friends!”

“Can I please come in?” The voice that was muffled by the door held Camille’s typical childish tone, but Angel and Allison knew what they had seen. “I just got back from The Hotel and I want to practice with you guys, but I’m locked out.”

Paul and Irina had cleared the barrier from the door, so Cara reached for the lock. Angel desperately pressed his body against the wood to keep it shut. “She’s lying. I don’t think she even went back to The Hotel. She was in there chasing us the whole time, I swear!”

“Is everything okay in there?” Camille pondered from outside the door. “You guys don’t sound like you’re having a very good time.”

“See? It’s just Camille.” Cara shoved Angel out of the way and unlocked the door. Allison and Angel skittered to hide as Camille stepped inside, her head tilted in confusion. Her dress didn’t bare any evidence of her fall on the stairs and both her shoes seemed to be on, though her eyes were still beat red when she widened them in Angel and Allison’s direction.

“Are you okay? You two look like you saw a ghost!”

“More like a demon.” Allison muttered, crouching down in an attempt to disappear behind Irina. Angel was doing the same behind Paul, the diamond held securely in his fist.

“I’m so sorry that I held up our practicing because of my eye. That sandwich just came out of nowhere.” Camille told Cara. “It feels a lot better now. We should run through our song one more time now that we’re all back together.”

“I think that sounds like a great idea.” Cara grinned, patting her friend on the shoulder.

“We still don’t have Avery and Isaac.” Irina pointed out. “I’m pretty sure they’re with the band. I’ll go grab them.”

“I’ll come too.” Paul followed her across the backstage area, purposefully exposing Allison and Angel. Cara began to chat with Camille, unaware that the girl in the gown was glaring at the pair over her roommate’s shoulder. She focused her eyes on the diamond and gave them a menacing smirk, and the firebug and adrenaline junkie rushed after Paul and Irina.

“Wait up!”

“We’re coming too!”

Confession Cam

Allison and Angel: The pair was squished shoulder to shoulder on the short bench in the confessional, their faces displaying matching expressions of terror. Angel still held the diamond between his hands, his grip so tight around it that his knuckles had turned white.

“Nobody believed us, but what happened out there was on film.” Allison said. “Camille turned into a monster, and it’s all because of this stupid diamond.”

“I’m pretty sure that as long as we have this thing she’ll be out for us, but we can’t just give it back.” Angel continued. “We don’t know why, but it’s really important to her. I’d be fine returning it if it was some kind of family memento, but it seems like something a lot bigger than that. She threatened to ‘get rid of’ us even if we gave it back, which I hope meant eliminate us from the show and not kill. Either way, she’s not getting it back if she keeps acting like a psychopath.”

“That unfortunately means we’re number one on her hit list.” His scarlet-haired teammate added with a grimace. “Irina and Paul think we’ve gone crazy and abandoned us, so we’re just going to hide out in here until the performances start. Our team doesn’t really need us now, right?”

“Right.” Angel nodded, rolling the diamond from one palm to the other. After sending it back and forth a few times, he spoke up again. “You know, I have ‘Her Real Name Isn’t Blaineley.’ With a few tweaks to the words, we could make it about Camille. Maybe that’d tick her off again and get her to freak out in front of everybody.”

“Oh my god, that’s genius!” Allison exclaimed. “Then they’ll have to believe us!”

“We just have one problem, though.” Angel pointed his chin towards the door. “There’s no way I’m going out there.”

“We don’t need the band, then.” The punk waved her hand in a pish-posh manner. “We can rewrite the song right here in the safety of the confessional …”

“Well, let’s see it.” Donna held out her hand and Wes placed his notebook in it.

The lanky musician watched as the petite pessimist skimmed over the descriptions that he had quickly written up for her, her eyes occasionally squinting as she struggled to decipher his messy handwriting. He had tried to go into as much detail as possible about what he’d been planning to do with “Greek Mix” and “Oh My Izzy,” though the arrangements would have to be changed a bit to fit the new voice. It would have been a lot easier for him to show her, but his temporary inability to speak made that impossible, so he had to try his best to write it out in plain terms for her. After a minute, she returned the notebook with a curt nod of her head.

“Okay.” Wes raised an eyebrow as if to say, “Just okay?” Donna was fortunately able to catch on to what he signaling much faster than Minerva had. “I’ll have to hear the music before I can say much more.”

The momentarily mute musician flipped to the next blank page of the notebook and scrawled something out, holding it up to her once he was done. You don’t want to do this, do you?

“I might have been a little more willing if I had more time.” The brunette admitted. “I’m not a performer, so I need to prepare for something like this. Ophelia put me on the spot.”

Wes crossed off his last note and wrote another beneath it, showing it to her with a mischievous grin. Just picture the audience in their underwear.

The corner of Donna’s mouth quirked upwards. “Imagining Chef in his underwear would make me want to get out of there even faster. I’d jump off the stage if that was the only choice.”

The songbird attempted to laugh, though his injured throat caused it to come out as a dry scraping noise. Any sign of a smile on Donna’s face instantly disappeared, and her eyes drifted down to stare at her shuffling feet.

“The Oscars were smart to take you out. With you on the team, we had a sure win. Now they’re expecting an underdog victory, while I’m just hoping tonight’s surprise on the Red Carpet of Shame isn’t too bad for me. I’d like to leave with at least a scrap of my dignity.”

Wes scribbled another message for her. I think you can do it.

Donna pushed the notebook away. “Nice try, but you don’t even know what I sound like. Now stop trying to be the stereotypical nice guy and get down to business.”

He held up one long finger and moved his guitar onto his lap, grabbing a pick from the pocket of his jeans. He played her a few chords, slow and simple but altogether a pleasant melody. Donna furrowed her brow in confusion until he pointed down at the lyric sheet to “Oh My Izzy” that was tucked into the side of the notebook.

The smart mouth’s brows jolted up towards her hairline. “You turned that cutesy reggae monstrosity into that?” Wes nodded proudly and her jaw actually dropped. “The Oscars really screwed us over. You have talent.”

The guitarist slid another note over to her. Thank you. Now you sing it and kick The Oscars’ asses.

She stifled a laugh. “Your expectations of me are much too high.” Wes began to rapidly write another message, but Donna reached over and slipped the pen from his hand. She twirled it between her fingers when he looked up at her through his bangs. “I have a proposition for you. When you get your voice back, we can continue this conversation. Right now, I desperately need to practice.”

Wes nodded in agreement and shuffled the lyric sheet over to her. He then began to strum the opening chords to “Oh My Izzy” again, gesturing to her on her cue.

“I miss the way Izzy said hello …”

“Oh my god, this is going to be awful.”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

Monique and Risty could only sit off to the side and spectate as Elena and Gabe flung insults back and forth. With a missing vocalist, The Emmys had to reassign the parts for “Eine Kleine,” which meant grudgingly handing a lyric other than “Shhhh!” over to Gabe. Elena was somehow personally offended by that, but, then again, she was personally offended by everything.

“Your voice sounds like a cat being run over!” Elena yelled.

“Your face looks like a cat that was run over!” Gabe snapped back.

“Oh, we’re talking about looks now? Where should I start, your ass crack of a chin or the rat’s nest on your head?!”

“Hey, guess what? We all know why you spend so long in the shower. Two words,” The old money jerk got in the new money socialite’s face, “Hair. Extensions.

“Why don’t you shut up and give that hole in your face a chance to heal?”

“How many things have you gotten that hook nose caught on, Princess?”

Monique rolled her eyes. “They’re not even good insults.”

“I kind of liked that last one.” Risty admitted.

The trendsetter snorted. “I could eat alphabet soup and puke up a better comeback than that.”

“Why are they even fighting? Weren’t they kind of friends for a while?” The athlete wondered. “I know they totally hate each other, but I thought they were at the point where they could tolerate each other for the sake of their cause.”

“I don’t think they even have a cause.” Monique remarked. “My guess is they finally realized that their ‘alliance’ hasn’t and probably never will do anything.”

“They’re still trying. Supposedly they’re after me now.”

“That just proves they’re a pair of idiots. If we lose this challenge, what’ve they got against you?” The designer questioned. “Nothing. I literally can’t think of one reason to vote you off. If anything, they should be going after Wes or Donna, but they’re too stupid to think of that.”

“You’d think one of them would realize their alliance is going nowhere.” Risty commented.

“I think if they actually put their heads together they wouldn’t even have half of a brain.”

“My parents have more money than yours!” Elena shrieked. “I’m practically royalty!”

“Okay, one, that’s a lie.” Gabe held up a finger and then raised a second one. “And two, we all know you’re adopted! Your family purchased you. Even if you were royalty, it wouldn’t matter because you’re not related by blood!”

The socialite was now fuming. “You do not insult my family! At least we have a reputation! We run a successful business and we work for our fortune! Did your family just pull their money out of their asses? I don’t know, because I’ve never heard somebody talk about the Pattersons!”

“Don’t give me that new money crap - you don’t work for your money, your father did! You just invite yourself to every event in Los Angeles and piss off the paparazzi for attention!”

“Believe it or not, I’m actually at all those parties because I have friends. Do you know what those are? You probably don’t even have any!” When Gabe opened his mouth to respond, Elena held up her hand. “Nuh-uh, butlers and maids don’t count! They’re being paid to spend time with you!”

“I’d rather have no friends than have all my ‘friends’ hate me!” Elena’s jaw snapped closed at the unexpected retort, though Gabe wasn’t letting that force him to bottle up his anger. “I see how you treat everybody here! I’m sure you think that all your ‘friends’ like you, but really all they want is the popularity and money that comes with hanging around you! They don’t give a crap about your ‘friendship,’ they just invite you to their parties and get caught around town with you so they can end up on a magazine cover! If the attitude you have on the show is the same one you have in real life, then we all know exactly what’s going on. You emotionally abuse your friends, but they stick through it because they’re just using you!”

For once, Elena didn’t have a reply. Even Monique and Risty in the Peanut Gallery found it too cruel to comment. The hotel heiress’s normally haughty expression had melted into something a bit more human, revealing to every onlooker that everything Gabe had said was true.

Eventually, Elena straightened her posture and sucked in a sharp breath through her teeth. She turned to her teammates and, in her most professional, emotionless tone, said, “We need some more practice with ‘Eine Kleine.’ Everybody take your places.”

And as much as they hated her, The Emmys did as they were told, all choosing not to address the fact that Gabe had found a chip in Elena’s Miss Popular façade.

“Random unpaid studio audience, welcome to Sing Your Heart Out!” Chris beamed at the applause he received. The extra hour had passed in what felt like no time, and the host stood in the middle of the stage to begin the showcase. “Our two teams were challenged to take on the music of Total Drama World Tour and probably humiliate themselves in the process. The first round is the group numbers, where every member of the teams is forced to sing … well, except Wes. Long story short, he was the butt of somebody’s joke and can’t talk. I told him he had to be on stage even though he can’t sing, so expect to see him playing the cowbell or interpretive dancing or something.

“With all of the chances to miss a cue, run into each other, or go slightly sharp and screw up the whole team’s harmony, I can almost guarantee you that somebody will screw up … and it’ll be hilarious. The Oscars lost the backstage coin toss, so they’re up first with their attempt at ‘Come Fly With Us.’ Why don’t you give them a hand?”

The crowd clapped, and Chris shuffled offstage as the lights shut off. The Oscars rushed in from backstage, bumping into each other in the dark as they took their places.

When lining up in his spot, Paul noticed a gap beside him. He squinted through the darkness to find that there was no telltale shine from a certain daredevil’s metallic accessories across the stage. “Where’re Angel and Allison?”

“Right here, man.” Angel popped up beside Paul from somewhere in the wings. “We’re back.”

“Just in time.” Angel froze when he heard Camille’s voice right beside him. Before he had a chance to run, the instrumental started, and spotlights began to light up one by one as the four girls on the opposite side of the stage began singing “Up!” in harmony. The same thing happened on Angel’s side of the stage, but the pyromaniac darted away from Camille the moment the spotlight was off of him.

However, the fire starter’s running wasn’t nearly as distracting to the audience as Avery’s was. As the song went on, the determined drama queen ran back and forth and around the stage to sing all of her parts. Within a few seconds, she would escape into the wings only to jump out on the complete other side of the stage. Though the result looked rather ridiculous, the Jersey girl persevered through the song without missing any of her four roles’ cues, which was a feat that her team would eventually have to respect. The Emmys waiting backstage watched the scene on a monitor and laughed at her scampering, though The Oscars were rewarded with great applause at the song's end. Chris walked onstage again and took a bow, obviously thinking the cheers were for him.

“Oscars, the judges won’t give their feedback until the end of the challenge, so feel free to exit stage left … or right. It really doesn’t matter. Emmys, you’re up with ‘Eine Kleine!’”

The teams quickly switched positions, the music beginning to play when The Emmys seemed to be in the correct places. The first few lines actually went without error, but when it was Elena’s turn to sing she decided to deviate from the plan. Rather than project her line to the audience, she stomped over to Gabe and shoved him by the shoulders.

“Wait ‘til you’re voted out for being such a lout!” Her lyrics were more screamed than sung. Gabe stumbled from the push but retaliated quickly by wrapping some of her hair around his hand.

“I’ll dance a jig when Chris shoves you out the plane!” He yanked her hair with full force, thrusting the socialite forward. Instead of falling to the ground, Elena maneuvered herself so that she would land on top of her alliance-mate. The crowd gasped as the pair of rich kids began clawing and tugging at each other, and Victor smoothly slid in to block the audience’s view of the brawl.

“When you don’t hold back and lead the back, truly there is nothing stopping you, you, you!”

Risty joined him in obscuring the audience’s view of the fight as she sang her lyrics. “Swimming in your eyes, it’s butterflies, and-” Gabe’s arm swung out and caught on the jock’s leg, sending her tumbling to the floor. The athlete growled with anger. “Alright, I am done with you spoiled brats!” She leapt into the fight and began to pry the pair apart. Victor dodged the scene with his hands held up to protect his precious face.

At the front of the stage, Ophelia seemed completely unaware of the clash occurring behind her. She did a ballerina twirl as she blissfully sang Lindsay’s lines over the screaming and snarling behind her. Donna was distracted by the scuffle and missed her cue for Tyler’s lines, so Wes stood beside Ophelia at center stage and rang his bell in an attempt to distract the audience. Even when the song ended, the crowd could only watch in horror as Elena, Gabe, and Risty continued to try to tear one another limb from limb. The lights were hastily turned off to shroud the chaos, and The Emmys were ushered offstage.

Confession Cam

Elena: Her normally pristine hair was a mess of tangles, her makeup was smudged, and there was a nasty bruise blossoming on her chin. “I hate that spoiled bastard.”

Gabe: His thick hair was sticking out at every angle, his tie was missing, and there were scratches from Elena’s nails on his neck. “I hate that spoiled bitch.”

Risty: The big-haired athlete crossed her arms triumphantly. She was equally as dirtied as her teammates were, though she didn’t seem to mind. “For the record, I’m pretty sure I won that catfight.”

To clear the audience’s mind of the disaster they had just witnessed, the duet round began immediately with Angel and Ophelia battling it out over “Save This Show.” Spectating in the wings, Allison’s eyes darted back and forth in search of her suspicious teammate. When she found that Camille was nowhere in sight, she let out a breath of air that she had been holding as if it was her last.

“You seem relieved about something. You really shouldn’t be.”

The daredevil’s eyes went wide when she heard Camille’s voice purring over her shoulder. She refused to turn around, glancing at each of her teammates for help only to find that they were distracted by Angel and Ophelia’s performance. Realizing that she was alone in this battle, Allison straightened out her posture before turning around to face her lying teammate.

“What do you want?” She spat out, mustering all of her courage to assure that her voice didn’t crack.

“Like you don’t know.” Camille rolled her eyes and held out her hand. “Give me the diamond.”

“I don’t have it.” The crimson-haired punk confessed.

“But I’m sure you know where it is. If you were smart and wanted to get off this show in one piece, you’d go get it for me.”

Allison snickered nervously. “I’m not exactly known for my common sense.”

“I can tell.” Camille’s upper lip curled into a scowl. “You have no idea who I am or what I’m capable of. It would be so easy for me to make you disappear with no questions. By the time they find you in the ditch I’ll leave you in, I’ll be long gone.”

“Yeah, and you do know who I am, so you should know that I don’t back away from a challenge that easily.”

“Very well. I warned you.”

Camille reached into her handbag for what must have been a weapon just as the audience broke into applause. Allison peeked onstage to see Angel and Ophelia taking bows.

“Oh, too bad, that’s my cue!” She dashed out to center stage, catching Angel by the shoulder as he exited and whispering in his ear, “Don’t let her get you alone.”

“Got it.” Angel mumbled back, finding a comfortable place offstage between Isaac and Irina. When he shot her a pleased thumbs up, Allison turned to find that her duet opponent was Donna.

You’re Wes’s replacement?”

“Unfortunately.” The pessimist replied, her stance stiff because of the dozens of eyes staring at her. When the music for “Greek Mix” started up, though, her awkward disposition completely vanished, and she belted out a strong, “I know what you’re thinking, I’m thinking it too!”

Allison was barely fazed by the other girl’s confidence, following up with her lyric. “I’m not sure what you’re thinking, so maybe that’s true.”

The song went on with neither singer taking a clear lead, and the audience and players watched intently for one of the girls to slip up. At the song’s end, they were still unsure as to which performer the judges would favor. The audience cheered for the duet as Allison lingered to take several dramatic bows, though Donna had skittered off the stage the second the music stopped. When Chris introduced the next act, Allison immediately cleared the stage out of sheer amusement. Victor and Avery were going to be competing against each other.

The moment the diva and over-the-top actor locked eyes, they knew that this would be an all-out musical war. They shoved and bumped each other in a battle to stand at center stage, though when the music started they both feigned civility before striking dramatic poses.

“I left Bridgette stuck to a pole, robbed Leshawna of her fabulous soul,” With every line, Victor inched farther in front of Avery. “Made even Courtney lose control, and now I’m gonna leave you wedged up in a hole!” He flung his arms in the air as a flourish, “accidentally” smacking Avery in the face with his hand. As he sang the chorus, the brunette bombshell fluffed her hair back to its original glory. Once it was her turn to sing, she bumped into his side, sending his arms flailing to catch his balance as his feet remained steady.

“Shouldn’t have mocked you for having to dig, help me out and I’ll be your human drill rig.” With every syllable of “human drill rig,” she jutted her elbow back to dig into Victor’s cheek. He flung an arm out and smacked her in the ribs.

“You think I’m gonna fall for that?! This ain’t a tea party, it’s combat!” He swept his leg to kick out her ankle, and she leaned over to clutch her foot as he sang the chorus. When it came time for her next verse, Avery sang it with angered passion, though she remained still and calm beside him. It wasn’t until she got to the last lines that she suddenly launched her foot out and kicked him in the groin. “Offer me my dignity, I haven’t got a stitch!”

The audience winced as Victor hunched over in pain. The actor groaned in agony for a good part of the chorus, though he managed to recover in enough time to sing the last few lines. He elbowed Avery in the chin just as she kneed him in the side, and they held this position when the spotlight shone down on them and the last note of the song faded out. The audience hesitated before clapping, and the drama king and queen narrowed their eyes at each other as they walked off opposite sides of the stage.

“You did great!” Ophelia congratulated Victor, putting a hand on the red spot on his face where he’d been elbowed. “This looks like it hurt.”

“Not as much as that last kick did.” The actor moaned, practically collapsing onto Ophelia’s shoulder with a hand over his nether regions. “When am I up again?”

“After Avery’s solo, but Allison and I have our songs first.” As if on cue, the music for what must have been a hard rock remix of “Sisters” began to blast through the auditorium and Allison headed onstage. Victor let out a sigh of relief as Ophelia sat him down atop a costume trunk.

Confession Cam

Victor: “She thinks she can beat me at my own game, humiliate me on international television, and then kick me in the one place that you never kick a man? Oh, Avery, you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into. The next time I see you, you’re going down.”

The audience and judges were slightly appalled by Allison’s heavy metal version of “Sisters,” charmed by Ophelia’s upbeat rendition of “Boyfriend Kisser,” seduced by Avery’s husky tone transforming “I’m Sorry” into something a bit scandalous, and amused by Victor’s angry but always theatrical “Paris.” Angel was now at the center of the stage with a sheet of paper in his hands. As the gaudy music for “Her Real Name Isn’t Blaineley” started to play, he sang the lyrics to a very different song from his paper.

“Here’s an open letter to a lying little girl.”

“CAMILLE!” Allison shouted with him from where she hid in the wings.

“Whose innocence we thought went down to every single curl,
But she’s a nasty thieving liar, who calls herself a ditz!
But she’s been hiding a huge secret; she’s just a psycho bit-”

“HEY!” Camille interrupted.

“She carries ‘round her bright red purse, holding tight with both her hands.
But try to take a look inside and she’ll smack you ‘cause you can’t!
Inside’s a big old diamond, with a note tied to the end.
No doubt she stole it from this film set, though I’m not sure when.
She’s not the girl you think she is, so let me tell you for real.
She’s a violent, conniving little fake, who claims her name’s Camille!
She tried to kill me with a shoe, threatened me with bloodshot eyes,
If she says she’s good, sweet Camille, she’s probably plotting your demise!”

The audience was silent as Angel gave them a quick wave before exiting the stage. Most of the other competitors either stared at him in disbelief or shot suspecting looks at Camille, though Allison gave him a high five when he passed her. Camille made a motion of slitting her throat in Angel’s direction, but before the pyromaniac had a chance to run he was distracted by a deafening squeak. All eyes turned to the stage, where Donna was gracelessly lowering the microphone stand.

“Um, sorry about that.” She grimaced to the audience. Wes emerged from the backstage door with his guitar, dragging two stools out to center stage. They each took a seat, and after a quick adjustment of his guitar the momentarily mute musician began to play a simple melody. The audience didn’t recognize the tune at first, though when Donna started to sing it became very obvious.

“I miss the way Izzy said hello, and the way she danced so freely.
I miss the daytime, when Izzy moved so slow, ‘cause other times she’d forget me.”

Just as Wes had planned, the song had been completely transformed from a cute reggae love song to what sounded more like a heartfelt ballad. Donna had a better voice than Owen’s, which complimented the slowed down music to create something unlike any of the previous performances on the stage.

“Oh Izzy, oh Izzy. I, I miss you so.
Oh my Izzy, little Izzy. Why’d I ever let you go?
I miss her smile, and her eyes that shined so bright,
I loved that she always ran towards danger,
Oh, I miss the way she’d always say goodnight,
She was never more beautiful or stranger.
Oh Izzy, oh Izzy. I, I miss you so.
Oh my Izzy, my little Izzy. Why’d I ever let you go?”

Donna repeated the chorus one more time before the song ended on a lingering guitar chord. The audience was quiet for a moment before bursting into a rapid applause. The spectators in the front row got to their feet, and even Wes joined in the clapping. Donna nervously thanked them before leaving the stage, Wes following right on her tail.

Chris entered and readjusted the microphone back to his height. “With that, all of the performances are finished. I’m gonna give the judges a few minutes to deliberate, so, contestants, you can take five.”

“Yeah, man!” Allison clapped Angel on the back. “You killed it out there!”

“There’s no way they won’t believe us now!” Angel agreed.

“… Are you two really dumb enough to be sitting alone right now?” The pair’s celebration was cut short by Camille slipping out from the shadows. They didn’t speak a word in reply, so she marched up and grabbed them by the front of their shirts. She yanked them to their feet, slamming the pair against the wall in front of her. “I am sick and tired of you two playing games! Give me back my diamond, or I swear I will make sure that you both end up in ‘accidents’ that’ll leave you pushed off this show in body casts!”

“Been there, done that, wheelchairs aren’t fun.” Allison rolled her eyes.

“And for the record, no,” Angel added, “We’re not dumb enough to be sitting here alone.”

“Don’t be a wiseass with me!” Camille’s hand moved up from her teammates’ shirts to their throats. Before she could begin to squeeze, her grip was broken as her arms were pulled behind her back. The girl in the gown was pushed to the ground as a livid Chef Hatchet knotted her wrists together with a piece of rope.

“Well, I think that’s all the proof we need that what Angel and Allison said was true.” Tying one more knot in the rope, Chef yanked her to her feet, the dark-haired girl screeching in protest. The ruckus brought the rest of the contestants to the scene, all either shocked or confused at what was playing out in front of them. “So, what’s your real story?”

“Why would I tell you?” Camille snarled.

“What’s your story?” Chef repeated, tugging her binding ropes even tighter. Camille spat in his face. “Oh, you’re gon’ regret doin’ that, girl. Come on in!”

The backstage doors were kicked down and a small squad of police officers filed in. One uniformed man stepped to the front of the group and took Camille from Chef, snapping a pair of handcuffs around her bound wrists.

“We did a fingerprint check and found a match. Her entire backstory was false. Her name is actually Veronique Chevalier, and she’s twenty-one.” The man jerked away to dodge Camille’s jabbing shoulder as she thrashed back and forth. “The Chevaliers are an international clan of thieves. They keep themselves well-hidden, but every few years a large robbery pops up that is traced back to them, along with the many smaller-scale thefts that they were only suspected in.”

“What does she want from the show?” Chef Hatchet questioned.

“We’re not exactly sure.” The policeman admitted.

“We have an idea.” Angel emerged from the crowd, Allison at his side. “We found a diamond in her purse with something attached to it. She attacked us to try to get it back, so it must be important to her.”

“The note on it looked like it might be a clue.” Allison explained. “Maybe she’s on a treasure hunt?”

“This is where you fill in the blanks, Miss Chevalier.” When the convict formerly known as Camille didn’t react, the policeman jerked her handcuffs.

“It’s not like you can stop me now.” Veronique rolled her eyes. “I’ve been hunting and have found many of the things that I needed.”

“‘Hunting?’ Is that what you were doing when Minerva and I caught you snooping around outside?” Monique accused.

“I told you I was looking for something, didn’t I?” The criminal remarked.

“What about when I saw you talking on the phone during the music video challenge?” Paul asked.

“Reporting to my contact.”

“Wait.” Risty’s eyes widened as the pieces of the puzzle fell together in her head. “So if you’ve been sneaking around without anybody noticing … you were the one who sabotaged Zack!”

Veronique snorted. “Took you long enough to figure it out.”

“But – but I was with you the whole time!” Cara whimpered.

“Think again, roomie. I went with you when you changed out of your costume. While you were talking to me from inside the bathroom stall, I slipped out of the room and hid in The Emmys’ restaurant set. While Zack was distracted with burning the DVD, I streaked some lipstick on the table. He left to wash it off, and I stole the CD and was back before you even knew I was gone.”

“Why would you do that?! He did nothing to you!” Risty yelled.

“You’re right, he didn’t, but I needed to make sure there was no way that we could lose that challenge. Losing another player would mean I’d be closer to a possible elimination. Zack just happened to be easy to fool. Just to confuse you all, I planted the music video in our team’s room. It definitely threw you idiots off.”

“Has all of this been fake?” Tears welled up in Cara’s eyes. “You were just pretending to be my friend all along? I was just your … your alibi?”

“Wow, I’m surprised that little brain of yours figured that out.” Veronique glared at her. “You were my pawn, and you fell perfectly for all of my tricks. As if everybody already didn’t think poor, innocent ‘Camille’ was capable of anything bad, add on the fact that she was friends with little miss perfect and she’s golden.”

“I think it’s time to take you away. You’ve already done enough damage.” Veronique began to laugh as the policemen dragged her out the door. A few officers stayed to talk to Angel and Allison, though they were having trouble explaining what had happened because Cara had broken into tears beside them.

“Okay, faithful audience, sorry for the wait. Some major drama was a-brewing backstage, but you’ll have to wait to see the finished episode to find out what it is!” Chris McLean winked at the crowd. “The judges’ scores are in, but before I reveal the winner of the challenge, why don’t we hear from our trusty panel? Trent?”

A spotlight lit up above the Total Drama veteran’s chair. “Well, the performances were a rollercoaster of good and bad. The Emmys were very unprofessional in the first round, but they made up with it with their great solos, and ‘Oh My Izzy’ was the icing on the cake. On the other hand, The Oscars worked very well as a team, and their first round performance was way less embarrassing to watch than their opponents’, but their solos were tactless and messy.”

When Trent was finished with his critique, the spotlight shifted over to Whitney Steers. A large smile spread across the pop princess’s face. “If I’m elected Miss Pop Sensation, I would definitely give a lot more attention to kids because babies are too dumb to think for themselves. I can relate to that, so I feel a deep connection with them.”

Chris stared at her in disbelief. “Um … okay then. Grand Master Chef?”

“Trent covered it for me.” Chef stated. “The group round started well but turned into a mess, the solos were up and down, and the duets were just borin’. Still, I think we have an obvious winner.”

The spotlight moved over to Helen D’Angelo’s chair. “Why do seagulls fly over the ocean instead of a bay?” Despite the fact that Chris had not given her an answer, his palm loudly smacking his forehead, Helen finished her joke anyway. “Because that’d make them bay-gulls! Get it? Bagels?”

“Well, that’s two out of four that were sane enough to answer, so I’m going to call that a successful commentary! Let’s get to the results then.” Chris pulled an envelope from behind his back and unfolded a letter from inside. “It was a unanimous decision that The Oscars slayed the group round and The Emmys rocked the solos. The duets were a little more unclear. The winners of Sing Your Heart Out are …” The studio band began a drum roll. “The Oscars … minus Camille!” The crowd applauded, but the victors did not, still recovering from the shock of their missing teammate’s true motive. “Emmys, I’ll see you at the Team’s Choice Awards tonight. Can somebody make sure Whitney Steers doesn’t get lost on her way out of here?”

Confession Cam

Angel: “Am I glad that we won the challenge? Yeah. Am I glad that Camille’s out of here? Hell yeah. Still, it’s a really bittersweet victory. It really hurts to know that somebody on our own team was manipulating us from behind our backs.” The Puerto Rican leaned his chin in his hand. “Cara’s feeling way worse than the rest of us. I don’t think she’s stopped crying since we’ve left the auditorium. Cami – I mean Veronique really screwed with our heads.”

“Emmys, you’re here for only the second time.” It was a few hours later, and Chris stood before the losing team with a stack of stars. “Although you barely lost the challenge, a loss is still a loss. And, dudes, what even was that first round? Fighting onstage is not cool. It embarrasses your whole team, and, more importantly, it embarrasses me … but especially me, because I’m more important.”

The Emmys rolled their eyes at the host’s vanity, though Chris didn’t seem to care. “You’ve all casted your votes, so let’s find out who tonight’s loser is. The first star goes to Donna for a good effort in saving your team in the last round.” Most of The Emmys looked content with the first star’s recipient, though the smart aleck’s jaw dropped in shock. “Next is Wes for being a trooper through the whole hot sauce thing, and Victor and Ophelia for putting up a good fight in the duets. Also safe are Monique, Sebastian, Minerva, and Risty, who really didn’t do much during the challenge. Good job being background characters, guys!” Chris gave them a sarcastic wink as he tossed them the stars, leaving only two contestants unsafe. “That, of course, leaves Elena and Gabe. Literally nobody is surprised that you guys received the highest number of votes from your teammates …”

Confession Cam

Risty: “It was a hard choice over which of them I disliked more, but eventually I just decided to go with Elena. I could maybe tolerate another few days of Gabe, but Princess Harks has to go.”

Wes: He held up a piece of paper with several names scribbled out on it. His final choice was written in all capital letters and circled several times at the bottom of the paper. GABE.

Whitney Steers: “Oh my god, I am so glad to be back in my limo! Carlos, could you maybe stop at a McConnell’s drive thru? I could really use a burger and fries.” The blonde superstar leaned on the wall behind her. After a moment, her eyes widened when she noticed the camera. “Wait a minute … this isn’t my limo!”

“The next person voted off of Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment is …

“Neither of you!”

“What?!” Elena screamed.

“No way!” Gabe exclaimed.

“Damn it.” Risty grumbled.

“That’s right! You’re both staying for another episode!” Chris grinned. “Since Camille was forced to exit the competition, we don’t need anybody to go home tonight, so you’re both safe!”

Elena and Gabe stared slack jawed and wide eyed first at the host and then at each other. Their teammates were even more surprised, though the shock was quickly being overtaken by annoyance. Chris just let out a satisfied laugh.

“Looks like The Emmys aren’t enjoying the good news. Will the next episode’s drama be able to beat Camille’s reveal? I don’t know! Find out next week on Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

Episode Six: We All Fall Down

Chapter Eleven: Falling For It

Updated: July 18, 2014

“Last time on Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment, the challenge was lame but the drama was insane!” Chris waggled his hands in the air to express exactly how extreme it had been. “At the beginning of the episode, Rachel Claire got really ticked off, Victor was a jerk at Wes’s expense, and Avery gave her team a questionably sincere apology for her totally harsh actions in the last episode. Trent, Whitney Steers, and Helen D’Angelo returned to judge the singing challenge, totally unaware of just how big of a catastrophe they would be watching.

“When The Oscars realized they were at a disadvantage, they exposed of The Emmys’ secret weapon by sabotaging Wes’s voice, leaving them with a very reluctant Donna to take his place. Meanwhile, Gabe and Elena’s alliance finally fell apart, and Allison and Angel found a diamond hidden in Camille’s purse. When Camille found out, she revealed that she was less of a ditz and more of a bloodthirsty murderess, which really isn’t a great thing to be if you’re being filmed twenty-four/seven, but whatever.

“The actual challenge was predictably awful, but who cares about that with all this Camille drama going on? Allison and Angel called in the police, who revealed that the airhead was actually an international jewel thief searching for … um … something here in Major City. The Oscars won the challenge by a hair, and Elena and Gabe were unsurprisingly put into the bottom two, but those lucky ducks were saved by Camille’s sudden departure in the back of a cop car.” The host cackled at his own commentary. “I really doubt this episode’s drama can beat the last one, but anything’s possible this week on Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

“Oh, crap, would you mind grabbing that for me?”

Paul intercepted a bottle of body spray as it rolled across the carpet and placed it on the bed beside Irina, who was struggling to cram a pile of clothing into her suitcase. When it seemed like she had successfully packed the clothes in, she slammed the top of the luggage shut and attempted to zip it up.

“How did you manage to fit everything in there before you got on the show?” Paul asked with a smirk.

“Time, patience, and good old Russian willpower.” Irina responded, leaping on top of the suitcase to compress it. As she fought to move the zipper, she gestured towards a matching pink and black shoulder bag on the floor. “You feel like grabbing everything off the sink and shoving it in there?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Paul gave her a salute and picked up the bag, holding back a laugh as Irina pounded on her still unzipped luggage.

The pair of Oscars had managed to clear out Irina’s room within about an hour, messily shoving all of her belongings into her suitcase. The job wasn’t exactly neat, but it didn’t have to be since the bags were only traveling two doors down, where they had left Cara curled up in a ball of misery.

After arresting Camille, or Veronique Chevalier to be more accurate, the police raided Room 305 and disposed of any trace of the pseudo-ditz ever living there. When Cara was finally able to return to her room, all of Camille’s belongings were gone, from her clothing to her toothpaste to even the show-provided pillows and sheets that she had slept on. The tree hugger was already upset about the situation, but having to sleep next to the eerily bare side of the room was a constant reminder of what had happened, driving her to near hysterics. With a limited number of sympathetic teammates available, Irina resumed her role of a shoulder to lean on and was there to comfort Cara just as she had with Avery.

“You’re sure you’re not going to miss all of this privacy?” Paul hollered to Irina when he entered her bathroom, his voice echoing off the walls.

"I actually think I’ll like having someone to share a room with.” Irina replied as she yanked the zipper a little farther around her suitcase. “It was great when Robert was here, but now it gets a little lonely.”

“But it must be nice to come back from an elimination and not have to race for shower rights.”

“You’re just pouting because you have to share with two of the highest maintenance girls on the team.”

“I’m not pouting!” Paul argued, wiping the contradictory scowl from his face.

“Yes, you are.”

“I’m not!”

“You are.”

“ … Okay, yeah, Avery and Allison can get on my nerves sometimes.”

The model chuckled. “Told you so.” She threw all her weight into one final pounce onto her suitcase, miraculously pulling the zipper closed. “Yes! I did it!”

As Irina did a victory dance on her bed, Paul opened up the other piece of luggage and swept the many creams, soaps, and beauty supplies from the sink and into the bag. Once the sink was clear, he reached up to check the medicine cabinet, only to have something out of the ordinary catch his eye. The mirror was covered in multicolored sticky notes, each with a different message printed on them. The notes were arranged neatly in columns, though Paul was unable to decode the pattern because the text was written using the Cyrillic alphabet. With a quick glance, all he could make out were a few numbers and times, but the rest was a complete mystery.

“Um, Irina?” Paul called. “I don’t know what these notes are, but do you need them?”

“Oh, don’t touch those!” The blonde rushed into the bathroom and started removing the sticky notes one by one.

“I don’t want to sound like a snoop, but what are these?” He uncomfortably rubbed the back of his neck. “I’d normally not ask, but with the whole Camille thing just happening I can’t help but wonder …”

“It’s nothing to worry about.” Irina turned around to give him a smile. “I just like to have a schedule and figured that the bathroom would be the perfect place to lay it out since I'm the only one using it. It’s nothing bad, I promise.”

One look into those beautiful blue eyes dissolved all of Paul’s worries, and he grinned back. “Sorry, I was just a little worried.”

“It’s fine. I understand.” Irina took the bag from Paul and slung it over her shoulder. “Now, come on. We can’t leave Cara waiting much longer.”

The all-American boy volunteered to take both bags, and they headed into the hallway, the Russian locking the door for the final time behind them. Irina left the key in the lock and started sorting through the pile of sticky notes in her hand.

“I don’t mean to sound rude,” Paul spoke up, “but now that you’re sharing a bathroom, I’d find a different place to put your schedule.”

“I’m sure Cara won’t mind.” Irina answered.

“I wasn’t talking about her, I’m talking about your new neighbor.”


Isaac.” The dark-haired teen specified with a sneer. “He just sees you as something he wants to get his hands on.”

“He’s going to have to learn that I’m not a toy.” The blonde said. “And if he doesn’t, I can fend for myself.”

“I really doubt that he’ll learn his lesson.”

“Why are you so hung up over this? It’s not like he’s trying to hit on you.”

“Because I’ve seen how he acts with Avery. She’s a gorgeous girl, and he treats her like crap because of it.” Paul explained. “Avery might deserve it, but you definitely don’t.”

When they reached Cara’s door, Irina smiled. “You’re cute when you’re jealous.”

Paul’s jaw snapped closed, his face flushing to a bright scarlet as Irina knocked on the door. Cara didn’t verbally respond, but they heard the lock click and caught the nature lover retreating to her bed when they opened the door. The room was completely dark other than the stream of light coming in from the cracked door.

Cara held an arm over her eyes as she crawled under her blanket. “Can you please shut the door? It’s really bright.”

Paul pushed the door closed as Irina perched on the end of the bare bed that had once belonged to Camille.

“Are you feeling any better?” Irina asked when Cara poked her head out from under her comforter.

“I don’t know.” Cara replied. “I’m just … really confused.”

“That’s understandable. It’ll just take time for you to adjust.” The bombshell comforted.

The nature lover shook her head. “It doesn’t feel like I’ll ever adjust.”

Paul stepped out from where he had been examining the bathroom and leaned against the wall beside Cara’s bed. “There aren’t any extra sheets in here, so I was going to go down to the lobby and see if I can find some. Cara, could I get you anything? Maybe some soup or ice cream?”

The brunette visibly perked up at the offer. “Actually, ice cream would be great.”

“I’ll try to find some.” Paul slipped out the door to escape the awkward situation, leaving Irina to fidget uncomfortably. Cara stayed quiet and didn’t look as though she had any intentions of speaking up, so the model laid back and made herself comfortable.

“Whenever you’re ready to talk, I’m here.”

“Oh, so sorry.”

Victor stared at the cards in his hand and then at the flush that Sebastian had fanned out on the table. The actor had lost. Badly.

“Again.” Victor ordered, failing to detect the false sympathy in Sebastian’s tone.

“If you say so.” The card shark gathered the deck and performed a few of his signature showy shuffles. In one smooth motion, he dealt hands for himself and Victor and put the remaining cards in a neat pile between them. Victor began to scrutinize his hand, but Sebastian had yet to turn his cards over. “So, you and Ophelia, huh?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” The thespian questioned, sliding a card face down onto the table.

“I mean that she’s crazy in love with you.” Sebastian flicked a card at his teammate, mumbling under his breath, “Along with several other types of crazy …”

“She’s not crazy!”

“Then is she high? If so, why isn’t she sharing?”

The Romeo’s jaw dropped. “Why would you ever-?”

“It’s a joke. Ha-ha.” The gambler rolled his eyes. “That’s the only reason I can think of as to how she manages to be so perky through every god-awful challenge.”

Victor leaned in, an excited look spreading across his face. “Oh my god, do you think we could actually get her to share?”

Sebastian stared blankly, one of his brows eventually creeping upward. “Again, that was a joke.”

“Right, right.” The actor sat back in his seat, awkwardly going through his cards. “Why did we even start talking about Ophelia? She’s just a girl with a crush. She doesn’t mean anything to me.”

“You really don’t see the golden opportunity you have in front of you, do you?” When the drama king didn’t seem to understand, the card player shook his head. “The fact that you have an admirer but don’t reciprocate her feelings is the perfect situation. She loves you, so you can get her to blindly do whatever you want.”

“Why would I waste my time with that? I already have practically everything I want.”

Sebastian sighed. “Let me break this down for you: we’re in a competition that is based on both our performance in challenges and our ability to play the other contestants. The only way to make it to the finals is to be a naturally likeable person who hasn’t done anything that’s warranted their elimination or to be a manipulator … you, unfortunately, aren’t the former.”

“Hey! I'm naturally likeable!” Victor protested, slamming a few more cards onto the table.

“You threatened to push Gabe off of the stage for ruining our group song.”

“That’s Gabe. He doesn’t count.”

“You told Wes that if you found one more item of his clothing on the ground you would strangle him with a tube sock.”

The drama king glared. “Who told you that?”

“I have my sources.” The strategist smirked, placing another card down. “As I was saying, if you want to have an advantage in this game, you’re going to have to use people. It might be hard for your fragile conscience to take, but that’s what separates the person who earns first place from the one who comes in twenty-first.

“Is that what Monique and I are to you?” Victor snapped, throwing a final card down. “Just people you’re using?”

“No, no, of course not. You’re my alliance. That’s a completely different category.” The gambler turned his cards face-up on the table, and Victor groaned in defeat. “And even when you think you’ve played a good game, oh look, you still lose in the end.”

The cafeteria doors opened up and a new voice joined the conversation. “It doesn’t sound like you’re playing very fair.”

“I haven’t seen you in a while.” Sebastian leered in Donna’s direction when she passed their table. “We would love it if you joined our game-”

“No, we wouldn’t.” Victor interjected.

“- So you can see firsthand just how fairly I play.”

“I can’t tell if that was an attempt at sarcasm or not.” Donna pushed through the swinging kitchen door. “Either way, the answer is no.” When she was hidden in the kitchen, Sebastian swept the cards up and began to angrily shuffle them.

“Would it kill her to say yes to just one thing that I ask?” He grumbled, and Victor sniggered.

“You got to interrogate me, so now it’s my turn: what’s going on between you and Debbie Downer?” The thespian pondered over the racket of clanking dishes. “If you were just trying to use her, I don’t think she’d get you so pissed off.”

“No, it’s something completely different.”

Victor smirked. “Huh. I would’ve never guessed that you like your girls small, pale, and bitchy.”

Sebastian curled his upper lip. “Trust me, I don’t.”

“You do realize that I can hear you, right?” Donna shouted from the kitchen.

“Of course I do!” Sebastian called back as something clattered to the ground.

“What are you doing in there?” Victor asked.

“Trying to take over the world.” The petite pessimist retorted.


“I am serious. If I had handed in a proper application, my stereotype would’ve been ‘The Megalomaniacal Schemer.’”

“No, I’d say ‘The Wiseass’ fits you just fine.” Sebastian remarked.

“Thanks, I try.” Donna placed something on the stove and leaned against the counter at the food window. “If you really must know, I’m making hot chocolate.”

Victor furrowed his brow. “Why?”

“Oh, are we playing Twenty Questions? If so, then you have to reword your request, because I can only respond with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.” The thespian groaned, and the smart aleck grinned in satisfaction. “I’m making it for your roommate.”

“But I talked to Wes this morning and he seemed better.”

“He can speak now, but he’s not fully recovered.” Donna explained. “He sounds like he smokes a pack of menthols hourly, so I figured I could help him out.”

“Hmm, is the ice queen breaking out of her shell?” Sebastian questioned. “Do you have a thing for naïve musicians?”

“No, but I like them much more than suspicious men with gambling problems.” The smart mouth smirked, and Victor snickered at Sebastian. “Besides, even if he does get the wrong impression, there’s nothing to worry about since he’s head over heels for Ophelia.”

Victor’s laughter stopped abruptly. “What?”

“Don’t act like you don’t know. She told me all about his love song and how he hid who it was about. What other reason could he have for being so secretive other than if it was written about her?” Donna retreated back into the kitchen and emerged with two steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Victor put his face in his hands, his palms muffling the strange noise that was exiting his mouth. The smart aleck frowned at him. “I’d feel sympathy for your tears, but I still haven't forgiven you for the whole snoring debacle.”

When Donna left the room, Sebastian looked over at Victor. “You’re not crying, are you?”

The actor removed his hands to reveal that he was actually caught in a fit of laughter. “No way.”

Confession Cam

Victor: The actor clutched his sides as he continued to hysterically cackle. “She thinks the song’s about Ophelia? Donna thinks she’s so brilliant, but she’s an idiot! I’ll give you a hint about why Wes is having so much trouble with his songwriting: there aren’t a lot of words that rhyme with ‘Donna.’” He twittered with laughter for another minute before pausing. “Yes, I think it’s hilarious that Wes’s relationships are totally screwed. My ability to laugh at my friends is one of my natural likeable qualities."

Sebastian: “I was truly honest with the advice I gave Victor. Based on how well I understand the game, I’m sure I’m going to win. As for Victor, I can see him reaching maybe fifteenth place … if he’s lucky.”

“I brought you a present.”

Wes feigned a look of surprise. “But it’s not even my birthday.”

“It’s out of the goodness of my nonexistent heart.”

“Oh, then it must be special.” Wes accepted the mug that Donna jutted out at him and took a sip without a second glance. He grinned. “Hot chocolate?”

“That’s what the package said.” She took a seat beside him against the wall of the second floor hallway. In his search for an escape from Victor’s snoring, Wes had scouted out this spot for its perfect view through The Hotel’s glass side. Sitting there, they could comfortably scope out the entire expanse of the film set. The view was a rare example of beauty on the bizarre show, the image only disturbed by the paparazzi swarming around Chris at the studios’ entrance. “I had to get past a few trolls in the kitchen, but I somehow survived.”

“Don’t make fun of Elena and Gabe like that.” Wes joked, his voice crackly and hoarse but definitely there.

“For once, it actually wasn’t them.” The smart mouth took a sip from her mug. “They’re supposedly done with each other, remember?”

“Give them another day and they’ll be crawling right back to each other.” The songbird rolled his eyes. “If they weren’t the trolls, then who were?”

“Victor and Sebastian.” Donna said with a grimace. “As if they weren’t bad enough individually, they’ve apparently joined forces in their dickishness.”


“It’s a very technical term.”

“I’m sure it is.” The guitarist laughed. “You know, they probably wouldn’t bother you as much if you had your trusty sidekick with you.”

“I think you have it reversed: I’m pretty sure that I’m the sidekick.” The wisecracker corrected. “She’s busy anyway. She was hit with a random burst of artistic passion and decided to paint a mural on our wall.”

“I’m sure she would’ve come with you.”

“I don’t think she even noticed when I left.” The pale-skinned girl shrugged. “But that’s enough about her. Now that you can talk, you have some explaining to do. We started a conversation in the last challenge that I intend on finishing.”

Wes hid his lower face behind his mug. “Refresh my memory on what we were talking about?”

“Your bizarre trust in my singing capabil-”

“And here we have the hallway! Oooooh, ahhhhh!” Donna was interrupted by Minerva bursting from her room with a video camera in hand. When she noticed that she was not alone in the hallway, she pointed her camera straight at her teammates. “Oh my god, here’re two of the other awesome Emmys, Wesley Winfrey-”

“Just Wes.” The guitarist amended.

“-and Belladonna Surmaine!”

“Donna, please.” The smart aleck requested.

“Wave to the audience, guys!” Minerva instructed.

Donna shot the camera a cold glare, but Wes fulfilled her request and gave it a small wave. “What are you doing?”

“You’ll find out soon enough!” The motor mouth beamed. “But first, I have so many questions that I want to ask you guys! Like do you think an Emmy could win the whole game? Oh, or do you think you could come out on top? Do you like it here, do you a crush on anybody, do you have a crush on each other, do you think Chris is being nicer this season, do you like the fans, do you think you did well in the last challenge, how do feel about fruit and yogurt parfaits?”

Wes gaped at Minerva's babbling. “… What?

Donna, on the other hand, was able to keep up. “In that order: why not, no way in Hell, definitely not, wouldn’t you like to know, not at the moment, significantly, not at all, yes, and, though I have no idea why it is in any way relevant, I greatly enjoy them.”

“Thank you so much!” Minerva skipped down the hallway, disappearing into the stairwell just as quickly as she had appeared.

Now Wes was gawking at Donna. “ … What?

The smart mouth shrugged and casually took a sip of her hot chocolate. “I have a good memory.”

Confession Cam

Rachel Claire: “Long story short, the contestants weren’t as open and receptive to me as I had hoped … probably because they’re intimidated by my presence.” The reporter struck a glamorous pose, her tight curls bouncing with the motion. “RealityGossip needs more than what the players were providing me, so I had to find a way to get to the real scoop. I then realized that the best plan would be to have somebody working for me on the inside, so I asked Minerva if she'd like to run a video blog on our site. All she has to do is journal about her time on the show and film interviews with her competition, which she agreed to do in exchange for absolutely nothing. I thought I’d have to offer her something in return, but she’s glad to have an excuse to interact with the fans and get in everybody’s business. She doesn’t even realize I only offered her the blog for my benefit.” She chuckled. “Oh, I just love stupid people and free labor.”

Minerva: She had her video camera pointed directly at the confessional camera. “This is like a paradox or something. Since my camera’s taping your camera, it’s a video within a video, which is going to become a show within a show within a series within a channel of shows!” The redhead gasped. “Inception!”

Irina and Paul tried to find something to do other than intently watch Cara eat her ice cream, but they found it hard to find something to distract them in the silent, half empty room. Their goal of not gawking became ten times more difficult to achieve when it became apparent that the ice cream was the first thing that the environmentalist had eaten in over twenty-four hours, so she was practically shoveling it into her mouth. The bombshell and the Boy Scout forced their eyes to wander around the room, focusing for a few seconds on a crack in the ceiling or a stain on the carpet before they inevitably flicked back to Cara.

“So, um, how’s Avery?” Paul whispered to Irina in an attempt at casual conversation.

“She’s good, I think.” Irina frowned. “Well, I hope she’s good. I haven’t talked to her in a while since I’ve been spending my time helping Cara out.”

“Can she make it without you?” The do-gooder asked. “She won’t go commando and pitch a fit?”

“I’m pretty sure Robert was a one-time thing.” The blonde stated. “This is more important, anyway.”

“You don’t think she’s with Isaac, do you?” Cara spoke up, immediately stealing her teammates’ attention.

“No!” Paul and Irina denied in unison, though the nature lover quickly caught their lie.

“I’m not an idiot, you guys.” The brunette rested her chin on the heel of her hand. “Believe it or not, I know what sexual tension looks like.”

“What’re you talking about?” Irina narrowed her eyes. “Isaac hates Avery.”

Cara curled her upper lip. “I might look innocent and virginal, but I know what an ‘I want to tap that’ face looks like.”

“Isaac is horrible to Avery, and he’s always the one to set her off.” The Russian argued. “If he cared about her, he’d stop torturing her.”

“That’s not what I said.” Cara’s voice was barely above a whimper when she pulled the blanket up to cover all but her eyes. Irina stared in confusion, though Paul was swift to catch on.

“She never said that Isaac cared about Avery.” The all-American boy explained. “And I agree with her that he doesn’t.”

“That’s because he has Cara.” Irina claimed, turning to smile at the tree hugger. “Avery might be nice to look at, but you’re the only girl he needs.”

“Good guys only like one girl.” The environmentalist mumbled. “I don’t think Isaac’s the good guy I thought he was.”

Irina’s face curled into an odd mix of sympathy and puzzlement. Looking over to see if Paul understood their teammate any better, she was shocked to find an expression of guilt staining his face.

Confession Cam

Paul: “I was just trying to be a good friend when I’d warned Cara about Isaac. I didn’t want to see her get hurt, but now it seems like I’m the one that’s doing the hurting.” He put his head in his hands. “I obviously didn’t see the Camille thing coming, so I had no idea she’d spiral into depression and take what I said as fact. All I wanted to do is help, but now I’m the bad guy!”

“Um, what the hell is that supposed to be?”

Monique watched in horror as Allison tried to scoop a spoonful of yellow-gray goop onto her plate … with heavy emphasis on the ‘tried.’ The goop refused to cooperate, stubbornly clinging to the spoon by long strings of cheese no matter how furiously the daredevil tried to shake it off. Monique’s brows climbed further and further under her side swept fringe as Allison fought with what was supposed to be lunch. The battle climaxed when the punk grabbed a fork from the counter behind her and forcibly scraped the goop onto Monique’s plate.

“I think it’s throbbing.” The designer commented, sticking out her tongue in repulsion.

“It’s crying because I just kicked its ass.” Allison proclaimed.

Monique’s widened eyes narrowed into a glare. “I’ve seen more appetizing food in a dog bowl. Where’s my real lunch?”

“This is all we’ve got.” The scarlet-haired teen gestured to the pot of slimy gush beside her.

“Cream of loogie soup?”

“It’s macaroni and cheese.”

“Macaroni usually doesn’t beg me to kill it to put it out of its misery.” The trendsetter stabbed at the blob with her fork, immediately halting its pulsating. “What really is this abomination?”

“I don’t really know what it is now, but it was macaroni and cheese.” Allison insisted. “I just made the mistake of leaving Angel to supervise it, and he turned the burner up a little too high.”

“‘A little?’” The diminutive diva repeated.

“Okay, there might’ve been a fire extinguisher involved, but I forced Angel to try it and he hasn’t dropped dead yet, so I think we’re good.”

Monique sighed and picked her tray off of the counter, immediately making a bee line for the trash can and disposing of the plate with the pasta monster attached to it. She wiped a bit of goopy residue from her hands as she headed for The Emmys’ table. When she noticed a trio of her teammates sitting in a group off to the side, she bumped Risty’s chair with her hip.

“Enjoying yourself?” She smirked.

“Immensely.” Risty rolled her eyes. When Monique walked away, the athlete sighed and looked up at the chair across from her. There sat Gabe, his arms crossed and his face set in an unimpressed glare. Beside Risty, Minerva was quivering at the rich boy’s presence, her video camera clenched tightly between her shaking hands. “Okay, guys, could we move this along? We're getting nowhere.”

Gabe arched an eyebrow. “Maybe this would move a little faster if one of you would just tell me why I’m here.”

Risty turned to her roommate. “Well, Minerva?”

“Um …” The redhead took a nervous gulp before she started to jabber at rapid speed. “I wanted to ask you if you'd help me with something, but when I saw you I kind of sort of freaked – actually, no, that doesn’t cover it, I totally panicked and now I’m just sitting here shaking like a total chicken and all I wanted was an interview for my blog but I’m kind of terrified that you’ll verbally tear me limb from limb since you hate me and-”

“Don’t be afraid of me.” Gabe interrupted. “I don’t hate you.”

“You don’t?” When he shook his head in denial, Minerva’s chatter screeched to a stop. “… But what about when you ganged up on me with-”

“Let’s not ruin this conversation by mentioning She Who Shall Not Be Named.” The bushy-haired Emmy suggested. “That was all based on her prejudice and was completely her plan. I just followed along, but now I’m not going to waste any of my precious time on her anymore.”

The chatterbox blinked twice as she absorbed his words. “So … you don’t hate me?”

“Nope. Sure, you can be obnoxious, but I never really hated you. I really couldn't care less that you’re gay."

A blinding smile spread across Minerva’s face as she held up her video camera. “Oh my god, this is amazing! Now, would you mind doing an interview?”

When the wealthy teen started to question her, Risty butted in. “Here, let me spare you from twenty minutes of Minerva's explanatory word vomit. Rachel Claire gave her a blog on her magazine’s website for behind the scenes interviews with the other contestants. Minerva thought the fans would be interested in what you have to say after the whole fallout with Elena.”

“Oh, then of course I’ll do it.” Gabe shrugged. “Why wouldn’t they be interested in me? I’m fascinating!”

“Yay!” Minerva fiddled with the buttons on the side of her camera. “Just look right here, and when the little light turns on-”

She was interrupted by the cafeteria door slamming open. As the contestants had learned to expect, Chris McLean entered with an excited grin on his face.

“It’s challenge time!”

“How did you find the time to build this?”

“Ha. I didn’t lift a finger. That’s what Chef and the expendable employees are for.”

Chris laughed to himself as the contestants gaped at the obstacle course looming before them. It began at the docks and was raised over the water by several wooden posts, the changing color scheme dividing the course into three distinct parts. Several contraptions were moving around and, unlike most other shows, none of the obstacles seemed to be padded with foam for safety.

“Welcome to your sixth challenge, which is obviously an obstacle course!” Chris announced. “We figured you guys had it easy in the last few challenges, so we decided to bring back some good old Total Drama pain and humiliation. The course will be split into three rounds that will push you to your physical breaking point, with thirteen people being eliminated from the first two courses. The final five will move on to the third course, which will go until only one team is left standing.” The host pointed over to the first, largest set of obstacles, which were painted in bright red and white. “This beast is round one!

“Three of you will compete at once, and the last to reach the end in each group is eliminated. Let’s get the ever-so-handy Scribble Chef out here to demonstrate for the viewers at home!” The camera zoomed in to the start of the course, where a crude stick figure that vaguely resembled Chef Hatchet was drawn into the shot. “You’ll start way up on these pedestals, where you have to zip-line down to those itty bitty platforms floating in the water. If you’re lucky enough to land on the float, there’ll be an oar waiting for you so you can row yourself to the next obstacle. If you don’t …” Chris cackled as Scribble Chef splashed down into the water. “You’re going to have to pick up your oar anyway and swim with it to the Tennis Targets.”

The camera moved to the next obstacle, a platform that slanted upwards, though most of it was blocked by a door that didn't have a handle. “Use your oar to pull a bucket of tennis balls down from on top of the door. You’ll need to chuck the balls at your target waaaaaay over there.” The camera turned to show a tiny target mounted on a thin pole emerging from the water about twenty feet away. “When you hit the target, the door'll open for about ten seconds, so if you’re fast enough you might be able to sneak through someone else’s door if you’re behind. This’ll lead you to the next obstacle: the Barrel Roll!” The red door slid open to reveal the rest of the sloped platform, and Scribble Chef was knocked over by a barrage of bright red barrels. “It’s just like Donkey Pong, except in real life! Unless you want to end up like Scribble Chef, you’ll probably want to jump.”

The camera moved on to the next obstacle: three sets of towers. Each row consisted of six towers constructed out of misshapen blocks stacked atop one another. “If you can conquer the Barrel Roll, you’ll find yourself at the Toppling Towers. The second you step on one of these towers, it’ll start to fall, so you’d better hurry if you want to make it out dry. If you splash down, you have to swim over to and climb up the ladder to the Trampoline Jump, where you’ll use the tiny tramp to leap onto that swinging platform. If you manage not to totally miss, you then have to jump from the swinging platform to the stable one where your final obstacle awaits. If you fall in the water at any time, you have a hell of a ladder climb ahead of you, followed by this baby.” The camera zoomed in on the last obstacle, a jagged rock wall. “To finish this course, you need to get to the top of the Rock Wall of Shame and press the big red button. Last person to press the button gets put on the bench for the next round. Got it?”

“Not at all.” Ophelia shook her head.

“Good!” Chris smirked. “Let’s get the ball rolling with Donna, Isaac, and Minerva.”

“Lucky number one.” Isaac groaned.

When the three very different competitors were situated at the top of the first platform, Chris pulled out a bullhorn and held it up to his mouth. “On your marks … get set …” Instead of shouting “Go!” as was expected, the host pressed a button on the device's handle, causing it to emit a shrieking wail.

The contestants spectating on the dock covered their ears, though the three on the platforms recovered quickly and began to descend their zip-lines. In an instance of freak luck, Donna had released at the correct time and landed on her floating platform. As she began to row, Isaac zoomed past her, letting go of his zip-line when he was right above his platform. However, the momentum he had built up on the ride sent him skidding off the edge of the float and into the water. Minerva chickened out at the last moment and rode her line way too far, splashing down just in front of the next obstacle. She surfaced and spit a long stream of water from her mouth.

The loudmouth looked up at the obstacle ahead of her with a grin. “Sweet! My screw-up put me into first place.”

“Not exactly!” Monique hollered from the dock. “You need your oar, remember?”

“Dang it!” Minerva began to breaststroke back to her platform just as Donna’s float bumped the edge of Tennis Targets. The wisecracker approached the door and used her oar to try to retrieve a bucket of tennis balls. Her small stature forced her to take several tries to reach the bucket, and the minute she spent struggling gave Isaac enough time to swim up to the edge of the platform. As he retrieved his bucket, Donna began tossing tennis balls at the target. Unfortunately, her lack of athletic prowess had chosen this as its time to shine, and every one of her attempts missed. When Isaac had successfully collected his bucket, it only took him two shots to hit the target, causing the door to swing open. After watching Isaac move onto the Barrel Roll, Donna dropped her bucket and slipped through the open door before it had a chance to close. Minerva finally scampered out of the water and attempted to follow, though the door closed right on her face.

“Oh, come on!”

Realizing that she didn’t even need the oar that she had gone to such painstaking lengths to collect, Minerva gathered the tennis balls that Donna had left behind and flung them all in one lob. One tapped the edge of the target, and the door swung open. When she approached the Barrel Roll, Minerva could see Isaac easily hurdling barrels towards the end of the sloped platform. Donna’s height had betrayed her once again and made it much more difficult to jump over the barrels, so she was stuck near the beginning of the obstacle being bombarded with barrels. Minerva bounded over the incoming barrel and tugged Donna on the arm.

“Let’s go!” She pulled her to her feet and over the next barrel.

“What are you doing?” Donna questioned, trying to break free of the chatterbox’s hold.

“Saving your butt.”

“Yes, I understand that my butt was in desperate need of saving, but why?”

“We’re against each other for this one round, but we’re still a team. We have to stick together! Now jump!”

Thanks to Minerva’s guidance, the two Emmys were able to hop their way to the end of the Barrel Roll. As they stepped on the platform for the next obstacle, they watched Isaac attempt the middle set of Toppling Towers. The blocks began to fall apart beneath his feet, sending him into the water at the third tower.

“Thank you for helping me, but we’re on our own for this one. Good luck.” Donna stepped onto the farthest set of towers, sprawling her arms out in an attempt to keep her balance. Once she seemed slightly stable, she hopped to the next one. The towers began to tip beneath her, so she picked up the pace, reaching the fifth tower before plummeting into the ocean below. After seeing her two competitors fail at the challenge, Minerva decided to just wing the obstacle and rushed across the towers at full speed. With bounding strides, she was able to outrun the quickly crumbling towers … only to forget to apply the brakes when she arrived at the Trampoline Jump and accidentally dash off of the edge of the platform.

Meanwhile, a dripping wet Isaac clawed his way up the ladder and pulled himself up to the platform. He shook out his hair before bounding for the trampoline, getting a good leap out of the springy surface. The slacker’s timing had been spot on and he landed perfectly, albeit painfully, on the swinging platform.

“What is this thing made out of?” He moaned, clutching his ribs. As he wallowed in his pain, he heard Donna spring from the trampoline behind him and hurtle straight into the water.

Chris chuckled into his bullhorn. “Cement!”

“I shouldn’t have asked.” The underachiever rolled his eyes and slowly rose to his feet on the moving platform. Taking a minute to find the perfect timing, he jumped safely to the final obstacle. He mounted the Rock Wall of Shame just as Minerva reached the top rung of the ladder.

“Hey, wait up!” The motor mouth called, following him up the wall.

“No way!” Isaac shouted back. As the troublemaker and blabbermouth raced up the wall, they heard Donna drag herself onto the platform below them. Because the smart aleck was so far behind, it became a race for bragging rights only, so Minerva slowed down. This gave Isaac the opportunity to haul himself up to the top of the wall and press the button, doing an uncoordinated victory dance.

A minute later, Minerva pulled herself over the ledge and pressed the button as well. “Nice job!”

Isaac was surprised at the encouraging words from an opposing player, but a corner of his mouth quirked up anyway. “Thanks. You too, I guess.”

“And we have our qualifiers!” Chris’s voice echoed. “Donna, you’re out!”

“I’m pretty sure we already knew that!” The pessimist, who had taken a seat on the platform at the bottom of the Rock Wall of Shame, yelled back. “How am I supposed to get back to the dock?”

“Swim, of course!” The host cackled.

“Whoa, whoa, hold up.” Isaac held up a hand. “That means that even if I’d been flawless on the course, I’d still have to get drenched?”

“Bingo!” Chris shot him a finger gun. Isaac, Minerva, and Donna let out a chorused grunt and reluctantly hopped into the water.

The next trio to run the course was Wes, Paul, and Allison. While Wes didn’t seem to know to swim, his speed on the obstacles and long, bounding steps were able to make up for all the time he wasted flailing around in the water. The race was tight until the players reached the Toppling Towers, where Allison made a fatal mistake and tumbled off the second one. This gave Paul and Wes a sizable time advantage over her, so they both easily beat the daredevil to the buzzer. When the course was reset, Monique, Irina, and Risty were called to compete. Being the shortest overall competitor, Monique had a much harder time jumping the distances in each obstacle, allowing the two tall girls to beat her by a long shot.

Next to take on the challenge were Cara, Victor, and Ophelia. The nature lover’s usual enthusiasm seemed to have vanished, and she shuffled through the obstacles as though she wore cement shoes. Victor and Ophelia had turned the individual challenge into a team effort and helped each other through the obstacles, eventually beating the uncharacteristically sluggish Cara up to the button. Sebastian and Angel followed their run, and the two young men seemed neck and neck all the way through the Trampoline Jump. When they were scaling the Rock Wall of Shame, however, several rocks in Angel’s path just happened to come loose, and Sebastian was able to beat him to the top and secure his spot in the second round.

When Chris announced the names of the only three contestants yet to attempt the challenge, the other players knew that their races had only been an appetizer to the feast of entertainment the final run would provide. This stunt was sure to become a viral sensation … Gabe, Elena, and Avery had to compete against each other.

“Um, I’m not supposed to get this skirt wet.” Avery whined. “Or this shirt … or this bra … actually, I’m just not supposed to get wet at all. I’m dry clean only.”

“Who cares about you when there’s something way more important in danger: my hair!” Elena screeched. “Do you know how long it takes me to do this?!”

“We’ve heard it before, and we don’t want to hear it again.” Gabe snarled.

“You do not want to start with me, douche nozzle!” Elena stomped her foot. “I am sick of your crap! I don’t know what I was thinking when I started an alliance with an idiot like you!”

“Oh, the feeling is mutual.”

As Gabe and Elena quarreled, Avery glanced between them with an unimpressed glare. “Do I really have to compete against them? It’s obvious that I’m going to win.”

“Excuse me?!” Gabe and Elena shrieked in unison.

The drama queen sighed. “Can we get this over with?” The only response was Chris honking the bullhorn. “Thank you!” Avery grabbed onto the zip-line and threw herself from the platform, speeding down the wire and miraculously landing on her float. Gabe and Elena stopped their spat long enough to spot her rowing towards the next obstacle.

“Now look what you did!” Elena shoved Gabe aside before grabbing onto her zip-line and falling right into the water below. When her head broke the surface, Gabe flew by on his wire, shooting her a censored finger gesture. He dropped safely onto his platform and began rowing after Avery, not noticing that Elena was right on his tail. The socialite grabbed onto the back of his float and clawed her way up to him.

“Get your own boat, you mooch!” Gabe kicked at her with both feet, though Elena refused to return to the water empty handed. She grabbed Gabe by the tie and yanked him into the ocean with her. All that could be seen above the water was the splashing of thrashing limbs, but eventually Elena emerged victorious and crawled onto the platform.

“You snooze you lose, sucker!” She blew a raspberry at the rich kid as she rowed to the Tennis Targets. She pulled a bucket of tennis balls down with her stolen oar and rapidly chucked them at the target.

“Get back here, bitch!” Gabe burst from the water and scrambled up onto the platform just as Elena hit the target. The hotel heiress rushed through the door as it opened, bounding over the incoming barrels. Gabe chased her up the slope and seized Elena by the foot, pulling her down to the ground. She was pummeled by barrels before she could get back to her feet, handing Gabe the lead.

The old money teen reached the Toppling Towers just in time to see a squawking Avery tumble into the water. Gabe took a running start before trying his hand at the obstacle, though he splashed down almost immediately. Elena cackled at the sight when she finally escaped the barrels before skittering across the unstable towers. When the fourth tower began to lean, the socialite leapt the rest of the length, landing hard on her stomach on the next platform.

“Out of my way!” Avery pulled herself up from the ladder. She kicked Elena to the side, sending her cannonballing into the ocean as Avery sprung to the swinging platform. As the drama queen curled over in pain, Gabe thumped down next to her.

“I saw you push Elena into the water.” He grinned as they both climbed to their feet. “Very nice work.”

“She had it coming.” Avery shrugged one shoulder before hopping safely to the Rock Wall of Shame. Gabe attempted to follow but jumped just short, landing right on top of Elena in the ocean. They began to squabble again as Avery scaled the rock wall and hit the buzzer.

“Newsflash, Dumb and Dumber!” Chris called out. “There’s only room for one of you idiots in the next round!”

Gabe shoved Elena’s head under the water and climbed up the ladder. When the hotel heiress burst from the sea, she snatched the end of Gabe’s pant leg and plucked him off of the ladder. Elena rushed to the top of the platform, though Gabe was hot on her trail as she began to ascend the rock wall. As she neared the top, he grabbed a handful of her hair.

“You wouldn’t!” Elena challenged.

Gabe nodded. “I would.” He yanked her hair as hard as he could. Elena screeched and fell backwards, plunging into the ocean. A cocky laugh escaped Gabe's mouth as he pulled himself on top of the wall and pressed the button.

“And we have our two qualifiers!” Chris cheered. “Elena, you’re out!”

Confession Cam

Gabe: He sat with his arms crossed and an eyebrow raised triumphantly. “Elena should’ve learned by now: you don’t mess with a Patterson.”

Chris smirked at the camera. “One round and five contestants down, two more exciting challenges to go! Who will survive our brutal obstacle course? Who will-”

Argh!” Elena squealed as she pulled herself out of the water and onto the dock. When the camera tried to focus on her, she waved it away. “Back off, man! You’re not getting any wet t-shirt contest footage from me!”

Chris sniggered. “As I was saying, who will be left soaking wet? Will Cara be back to her old happy self? Will Elena be able to get back at Gabe for-”

“Of course I will!” Elena exclaimed. “You just wait! That little turd is going down!”

“Okay then, I guess she will. Why did I even ask?” The host rolled his eyes. “Stick through the commercials to see the conclusion of this hilarious challenge on Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

Chapter Twelve: Just a Hop, Trip, and Fall Away

Updated: July 18, 2014

“This is possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”

Isaac leered at Avery. “You must have a fantastic sex life, then. I have done people much worse.”

The drama queen rolled her eyes, though she was too distracted by the challenge in front of her to think of a snappy comeback. Each of the eleven competitors that remained in the challenge was standing on their own plate-sized platform that was elevated high above the ocean. They were arranged in a circle, with many scattered, smaller platforms leading in the direction of the large, x-shaped object in the center.

“Okay, I give up, Chris.” Risty shouted to the host. “What is that?”

“That, my lovely soon to be soaking wet contestants, is round two!” Chris had a comic book villain grin on his face, excitedly dancing in place. “Seriously, dudes, these challenges are why I signed on to the show. I live to see you guys get hurt!”

“I’m suddenly very glad that I’m not in this round.” Angel remarked from where he and the other five losers sat on the dock.

“Ditto.” Allison agreed.

“I’m not okay with this!” Elena shrieked. “I should be up there instead of that vain pretty boy!”

“Hey!” Victor exclaimed.

The socialite rolled her eyes. “Not you! I meant Gabe!”

“Elena, if I’m stuck sitting on the sidelines with you, you’re going to have to shut your trap.” Monique ordered, clamping her hands over her ears.

“Well, Gabe’s just a waste of space!” Elena whined. “That mental midget can’t do jack, and he’s so concerned with looking good on camera that he won’t even try to be useful!”

“I love that you’re ignoring the fact that the same thing could be said about you.” Donna deadpanned.

“In part two of the obstacle course,” Chris yelled into his bullhorn to be heard over the squabbling losers, “you’re going to have to make it to the center of that lovely blue thing in front of you, which will start spinning on my cue. If you get hit by one of the arms and aren’t left paralyzed with pain, you can go back to your original platform and try again.” The camera zoomed in on the spinner, where two long ropes dangled from a higher platform. “If you somehow make it to the middle, you have to climb up one of these ropes to reach one of the two identical upper courses. There, you’ll be faced with four gaps, which you have to cross using a rope swing, monkey bars, a tire swing, and a balance beam. Once you’re off the balance beam, press the button. The first five competitors to ring in get to move on to the next round … the rest of you will have done all this work for nothing!”

“Why do you make these rounds so unnecessarily complicated?” Victor complained.

Chris shrugged. “No clue. I do just about as much challenge designing as you do.” His bullhorn let out a screech. “Let’s get this thing a-spinning, shall we?” The x-shaped obstacle in the center of the course whirred to life, and its four short arms extended into much longer ones. It began to rotate at a crawl but was quickly accelerating, and Chris honked the horn again. “Go, dudes, go!”

The spinner had picked up speed and was heading directly for the contestants. Minerva, Wes, Risty, and Sebastian dodged the first arm with ease and began to hop across the platforms, though it managed to knock Gabe from his perch.

“Told you so!” Elena hollered from the dock.

“Nobody asked for your input, Elena!” Sebastian growled back, hopping over the swiftly approaching second arm.

Irina, Paul, and Isaac cleared the second arm when it came their way, though it grazed Avery’s heel, knocking the shoe off of her foot.

NOOOOOOOO!” The diva’s eyes were as wide as vinyl records as one of her priceless pumps hurtled into the water. She dropped to her knees in defeat, longingly reaching out for her shoe. “My baby …”

“Aw, that’s too bad!” Ophelia cooed as she skipped over an arm, her hair forming a pale halo around her face. “Those shoes were nice!”

“Nice? Nice?!” Avery repeated. “They were way more than nice-“

“Incoming, Ave!” Irina cautioned her friend. Avery looked up just in time to see an arm heading straight for her. She curled up in a ball, the spinner skimming her back but passing right over her. “Leave the shoe behind!”

Avery glared at Irina. “These are two hundred dollar Timmy Lous!”

“Well, genius, I guess you shouldn’t have brought something so expensive on the show.” Victor retorted as he stepped onto the platform beside the drama queen. “You knew how messy this game could get, but you still brought your favorite shoes.”

“They’re all my favorite shoes!” She gazed wistfully down at the spot where her heel had sunk into the ocean.

“And now it’s probably a fish’s home.” The actor remarked. “Look at that, you’re helping nature!”

“Excuse me, was I talking to you?” The Jersey girl snapped over the sound of Irina falling into the water.

“I can’t help but comment on something stupid.”

With a snort, Avery ducked under the approaching arm and bolted after Victor on the smaller platforms. When she caught up, she used her bare foot to kick him off-balance. The Romeo flailed his arms and then let out a melodramatic sigh before toppling into the ocean.

“Oh, sorry, I can’t help but try to get rid of something stupid.” Avery mocked in a sing-song, sticking her tongue out at Victor. In her bragging, the drama queen had momentarily forgotten that the spinner had four arms. She was smacked in the back and sent tumbling into the water right after the actor. When she resurfaced, she let out an angry yelp. “Oh, come on!”

Next thing she knew, something pelted her in the forehead. She grabbed the weapon before it could sink into the water, only to grit her teeth when she realized what it was.

She’d been hit by her own shoe.

“Take that!” Victor crowed.

Confession Cam

Victor: “That was revenge for the kick to the 'nads during our duet! You don’t get away with humiliating me in front of an audience! No matter how small the crime,” He narrowed his eyes, “I forget nothing.”

“Look out!” Minerva called out, springing over an arm as it passed by her. On the platform beside her, Risty heeded her warning and leapt immediately after her. While she had easily cleared the height on the first few rotations, the athlete was surprised to find that this time the arm had brushed the toe of her sneaker.

“Is it just me, or is it getting higher?” Risty asked, flinching when she heard Ophelia scream as she hit the water.

“Oh, yeah, right.” Chris grinned sheepishly. “Did I forget to mention that?”

“I could’ve used a little warning!” The jock said, bounding to the next platform.

The narcissist laughed. “Too late for that now.”

At the center platform, Paul climbed onto the base of the spinner and snagged the end of one of the ropes. Being an experienced climber from his many summers at camp, he shimmied up towards the higher obstacles, wrapping the rope around his foot as he ascended in order to keep his arms from tiring out. Wes grabbed onto the second rope and used his long reach to quickly make his way up. When he was halfway up the rope, somebody grabbed onto his ankle and ripped him off of the rope. The musician fell hard on his back onto the base of the spinner. He looked up to see who his attacker was, shocked to see Sebastian hanging onto the end of the rope.

“What the hell, man?” Wes groaned. “I’m on your team!”

“My mistake.” The gambler’s tone lacked sympathy as he pulled himself upwards.

The songbird got up and began to climb the end of Paul’s rope. “What’s your deal? I’ve done nothing to you!”

“Nice guys always finish last, Wes.” Sebastian sped towards the upper platforms without a second glance at his teammate. The annoyed guitarist rolled his eyes before putting all of his focus back on scaling the rope.

Meanwhile, Paul had crossed the first of the upper level obstacles, the rope swing. He shook out his cramped hands before grabbing on to the monkey bars. Using the hand-over-hand method, he kept a firm pace until reaching the other side of the gap. Landing on the next platform, he examined the tire swing.

“Thank you, Camp Yellow Creek!” The Boy Scout fearlessly lunged for the familiar obstacle, putting his right foot through the hole in the tire and leaning his weight towards the next platform. He landed smoothly on the end of the balance beam and steadily walked across it. When he reached the end, he slammed his fist onto the button.

“Yeah, Paulie!” Allison cheered from the dock.

“Holy cow! Believe it or not, we already have our first finalist!” Chris clapped for the do-gooder. “Y’all still stuck in the spinner need to get your butts into gear.”

“Come on, Emmys! If you had me out there, you’d be done by now!” Elena howled. “We need to win!”

“Why don’t you come out here and win, then?” Gabe fired back. “Oh yeah, because you lost in the first round, loooooserrrr!”

“Hey, watch who you’re insulting!” Monique protested. “Not all of us who lost are actually losers!”

“Jeez, sorry, I’ll rethink my wording next ti-”


Gabe was cut off by a falling Minerva sailing past his head. He stared wide-eyed as she landed in the ocean, the resulting splash hitting Gabe in the face. “Are you okay?!”

“Move over, good looking people coming through!” Avery bumped Gabe aside as she made her way to the center platform. Irina followed, giving Gabe an apologetic glance when she passed. As the rich boy got back onto his feet, the buzzer rang above him.

“And Sebastian’s in round three!” Chris announced, lightly adding, “No surprise there.”

“Figures the cheater would make it in.” Wes grumbled under his breath, his frustration momentarily distracting him and sending him flying off the tire swing. The musician yelped and plugged his nose as he hurtled head-first into the ocean. He broke the surface in a clutter of thrashing limbs and rapid breaths. “Somebody get me out of here!”

Ophelia turned around at the sound of her friend’s screaming. “Just do the doggie paddle!”

Wes’s gangly arms arched through the water in an action that look nothing like a doggie paddle, his body barely staying afloat. “It’s not working!”

“I’ll save you!” Ophelia hopped over to the platform nearest Wes and dove into the sea. Despite the fact that the guitarist was much taller than she was, the artist threw his arms around her neck and guided him to the safety of one of the starting platforms.

Unaware of the valiant rescue occurring below her, Risty calmly crossed the balance beam and smacked the button waiting for her.

“Looks like we have a representative for the ladies in the final round!” Chris said.

“Good work.” Sebastian complimented Risty from where he waited by the button.

“You too.” She answered with a thumbs up.

On the other set of platforms, Isaac was moving on to his second try at the monkey bars. Aware that this had never been his favorite thing to do in elementary school recess, he decided to focus on his technique, moving slowly and steadily across the bars. He safely dropped down to the next platform and was about to start the tire swing when a very familiar voice spoke up behind him.

“I just knew I’d run into you up here.”

The underachiever turned around to see Avery standing at the opposite end of the monkey bars. He flashed her a crooked smirk. “I’m surprised you were willing to break a sweat.”

“I’m sweating?!” Avery raised her hands to her face in fear, though they came back dry. “You liar!”

“I just wanted to see your reaction.” Isaac snickered, reaching out to pull the tire swing closer to him.

“You know, you’re a lot more competitive without Cara around.” The drama queen taunted the slacker. “Normally you wouldn’t have ever attempted the first obstacle. Seems to me that the skinny sack of granola’s holding you back.”

“Don’t talk about her like that!” He demanded. “I’d much rather have her around than a stuck-up bitch like you!”

“Oh, don’t be so harsh, Isaac.” Avery purred. “Save up all your emotions for when Cara gets eliminated after this challenge.”

“That's total bull! I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but nobody’s stupid enough to vote for her over you!”

“That’s what you think.”

“What’ve you done to show us you deserve to be here? Mourn the loss of your shoe?”

The Jersey girl cocked her hip. “It’s not about what I’ve done, it’s what Cara hasn’t. She threw the first round because she was so sad that her roommate was a liar. If you ask me, she should’ve known what she was getting into and been prepared for this. Friends betray friends on every episode of this show.”

A buzzer rang out from the other set of platforms. Avery and Isaac glanced over to see that, surprisingly enough, Victor had joined Sebastian and Risty at the end of the course.

“Okay, just when I thought Victor disappeared off the face of the earth, he’s back! And … in the final round?” The doubt in Chris’s voice was obvious even through the megaphone. “Seriously, guys, how did this happen?”

“Don’t doubt me!” Victor hollered down to the host, pushing back his wet hair.

“Lady Luck is apparently feeling nice today, but I’m not!” The host said. “There’s still only one spot left in the finals!”

“A spot that will be mine.” Isaac jumped onto the tire swing as Avery began to cross the monkey bars. As he landed on the balance beam, he looked over his shoulder in time to catch Avery diving to grab the tire swing. She managed to get a strong hold on the rope, but her foot hooked around the tire, causing her jump to become more of a flop forward. The diva wrapped her arms around the balance beam to save herself, her feet dangling freely below her and the tire swinging away from her. She struggled to pull herself up, finding that her grip just wasn’t strong enough.

“I’m stuck!” She whimpered.

“Good riddance.” Isaac scowled.

“Isaac, please!” The drama queen looked down at the obstacles waiting many, many feet beneath her. “I need help!”

“You’ll land in the water.”

“You don’t know that! I could hit the spinner or a platform or another contestant!” Avery scraped at the balance beam, desperate to catch her grip. “Whatever I hit is going to hurt. Please don’t let me fall!”

Isaac froze when he saw the genuinely panicked look in Avery’s upturned eyes. He watched with wide eyes as her hands began slipping from the beam, her body coming closer and closer to a hard collision with the ocean. Avery squeezed her eyes shut when she completely lost her grip, only to be startled by a warm hand around her wrist. She opened her eyes to find Isaac dragging her up onto the balance beam.

“Happy now?” He asked, his grip still tight around her wrist.

“Actually, yes.” Avery positioned herself so she was in a well-balanced crouch before looking Isaac in the eye, her expression soft. “Thank you.”

Isaac released her wrist, his lips clenched into a tight line. “Don’t expect it to happen again.” He finished the balance beam and stepped onto the final platform, hitting the button to end the round in a burst of rage.

Confession Cam

Avery: “First he hates me, then he helps me? Ugh, I can’t deal with Isaac’s crap! He’s all over that goody-goody hippie Cara, but he still totally flirts with me!” The drama queen gritted her teeth. “He’s pretty hot, but he’s going nowhere in this game if he keeps up the bipolarity. Eventually, he’ll piss off somebody other than me and we’ll send his dirty ass packing.”

“How could that cheater Sebastian get into the next round and I didn’t?” Wes plopped down on the bench at a picnic table. “It’s the swimming that really screwed me over. What was the deal with that? We already had our obligated one water challenge.”

Monique clapped a questionably sympathetic hand on his back. “There, there. You’ll get over it.”

The teams had taken a break for what was supposed to be an early dinner, though it was more of a late lunch for most of them thanks to the vaguely sentient, totally inedible macaroni and cheese that they’d been served earlier in the day. Chris had led them to a pair of picnic tables on the edge of the woods, where they had a beautiful view of the trees on one side and the metal death trap that was their challenge on the other. Chef delivered a tray of grinders that probably wouldn’t even meet the standards of an underfunded school lunch before he and Chris left to go out for some real food.

“I really think we should get a reward for having more people qualify for the final round.” Victor said to his team. “Maybe a cash prize?”

“Ha.” Donna scoffed.

The Romeo scowled at her over the top of Ophelia’s head. “What’s your problem?”

“Chris would never fork up extra cash to us. He wants to keep his pockets full of change and his contestants full of anguish.” As her best friend and her crush tossed retorts back and forth, Ophelia was left sandwiched between them, following their conversation with her eyes.

“With the upped budget, he should share the wealth with the stars of the show … stars like me.” The actor pointed at his chest proudly.

The smart aleck just shook her head. “Don’t get your hopes up, drama queen.”

“Hey, it was worth a shot.” Ophelia defended Victor, breaking her neutrality. She picked up her half of a grinder and took a bite of it, almost all of the fixings falling out the opposite end and onto the table. The pale-haired girl gave the dismembered sandwich a defeated look. “Darn it, I was actually going to eat that.”

The artist found herself bombarded with plates as all of her teammates pushed their grinders towards her. “You can have mine.”

At the other picnic table, The Oscars had also given up on their grinders and had piled them all on one plate. A bored Allison had relieved the sandwiches of their bread and was feeding the seagulls from the shore, so now a plate of soggy deli meats was rotting at the end of the table.

“You’re going to win this challenge for us, right man?” Angel asked Isaac from his perpetual seat at his side.

“Of course.” The shaggy haired teen gave a nonchalant tilt of his head towards Paul. “And if I don’t, Mr. Stick-Up-His-Butt will win his merit badge in challenge slaughtering.”

Paul lifted a dark eyebrow. “I’d complain about the rude nickname if not for the fact that you’ve suddenly developed some confidence in me.”

“What can I say?” Isaac gave his teammate a lopsided smile. “You kind of slay at physical challenges.”

“I have to credit the scouting experience that you love to make fun of for that.” The do-gooder proclaimed.

“Or it could just be freak luck.” Angel pitched in. He and Isaac chortled in unison, but Paul refused to let them crush his spirits.

“As crappy as the world can be, we good people can usually find a way to come out on top.” The Boy Scout lightly nudged Cara, who was slouched on the bench beside him. “Right, Cara?”

Cara let out a sigh and a noise that was a strange cross between a grunt and a “meh.”

“Hey, check this out!” Paul, Angel, Avery, and Irina turned to look at Allison, who had somehow lured a flock of seagulls in to perch on her arms.

“Allison, put those birds down!” Paul rushed down to the beach, frantically shooing away the gathering gulls.

Instead of letting the incident distract him, Isaac leaned his head on the table to make his line of sight even with Cara’s. “Still down about the whole Camille thing, huh?” The tree hugger didn’t respond, her eyes breaking their contact to stare at the wood grain of the table.

“She’ll be fine, Isaac.” Irina insisted, placing a comforting hand on the other girl’s arm. “Just give her some time.”

“She might not have much left on the show …” Avery added in an ominous mutter, her hazel eyes sparkling mischievously at Isaac.

“Round three! The final round! The big shebang! The widow maker!” When the contestants groaned at his final term, Chris paused in uncertainty. “That last one was a bit much, wasn’t it? Well, scratch the widow maker thing, but the rest is true! This is the all or nothing round. You fall, and you’re down for good!”

“I really think we should take the fact that he’s nearly peeing himself with excitement as a warning.” Risty commented from where she and the other four qualifiers stood.

“Agreed.” Sebastian nodded curtly.

Chris pulled his bullhorn up to his mouth, letting out a crackle of static as he took a breath. “Shut up, you guys! You don’t even know how hard it’s been to go through so many challenges without mindless violence!” The host began dancing in place. “But that’ll all be made up for right now!”

The camera shifted to a shot of the final obstacle, a long, elevated platform with several smaller perches lined up along each of its sides. The main platform was yellow along the edges, but its center was covered in a deep black, slick fabric with several hurdles nailed to it. The thick black strip wrapped around and continued onto the underside of the platform, with a few more hurdles emerging from the bottom. The five qualifiers stared at the contraption around them in mixed confusion and terror.

Chris was practically glowing with giddiness. “You five lucky finalists are going to be running on this giant treadmill side by side. When you encounter a hurdle, you have to jump over it. If you somehow go under it, you’re out, because that’s totally lame. The treadmill will get gradually faster to make it more difficult for you and more entertaining for me. While you try to keep up, the losing competitors will be chucking sports balls at you from the surrounding platforms, making it even more difficult and entertaining! Like I said, if you fall off of the treadmill, you’re done. No second chances, no restarts, and definitely no begging and groveling. You hit the water and you’re out. The last person or teammates standing win the challenge and immunity for their team.”

“We’ve got this, guys.” Risty held her hands out for a double high five from Victor and Sebastian. She didn’t even receive one, as Sebastian was already in his competitive mindset while Victor was terrified by the thought of receiving a hit to the face.

Once the five challengers seemed situated in the center of the treadmill, Chris pulled a remote from his breast pocket. He turned the big red dial on it, and the treadmill hummed as it started up.

“Your challenge starts now!” The black mat beneath the contenders’ feet began moving, and the five began walking along at a leisurely pace. When they came to the first hurdle, they had no difficulty stepping right over it. Their crawling speed allowed them to deflect or dodge all of the balls that were launched in their directions. Chris shook his head in disappointment and examined the remote. “This won’t do. Let’s see what happens if I crank the dial up from one … to eleven!”

As soon as he changed the speed, the five qualifiers stumbled into a sprint. Unable to keep up, Victor crashed into the next hurdle and flew off the back of the treadmill.

“One down!” Sebastian announced.

“He’s on our team.” Risty pointed out.

“Yeah, but he’s Victor.”

As Risty sniggered at Sebastian’s joke, Paul turned to Isaac. “You know, this isn’t as hard as I thought it’d be.”

The underachiever grimaced. “Dude, you just jinxed yourself.”

“I’m sure I didn’t – good lord!” Paul’s statement was cut off by a basketball to the head. He tumbled to the floor and sailed towards the edge of the platform. At the last second, he was able to climb to his feet and catch up with Isaac again. “I lied, you were right.”

“I always am.” Isaac hopped over another hurdle. Beside him, Risty practically glided over it, her long, leanly muscled body built for track and field events. Isaac backtracked a few steps to match Paul's pace. “If we want to win this, we need to get her out.”

“What about Sebastian?” Paul questioned. As if on cue, Sebastian was pummeled by a fleet of sports balls and thrown off the side of the treadmill. Paul and Isaac looked over to see Allison and Angel high fiving each other.

“We’ve got your backs!” Angel hollered.

“Thank – OOF!” In the process of giving the pyromaniac a salute, Paul received a hurdle to the stomach. The wind was knocked out of him and he crumpled to the ground, eventually rolling off the back of the treadmill.

“Ooh, tough hit.” Risty commented, matching her bounding strides with Isaac’s shorter steps. “Guess it’s down to just us two, huh?”

“Guess so.” Isaac replied, trying to seem casual as he took a nervous gulp.

Confession Cam

Isaac: “I know what you’re thinking: what’s up with the slacker actually caring about a challenge? Well, I’ve been in the bottom two twice, and at our other elimination I received one of the last stars. When I was sitting there without a star, it hit me: I’m not ready to go home just yet. This final obstacle course was my chance to do something right for once.”

As the minutes went on, Risty showed no sign of exhaustion, though Isaac’s legs began to ache from the nonstop running and jumping. The underachiever’s earlier fears were just being confirmed: he could never outlast the athlete in a physical challenge. Fortunately, Isaac was an expert at finding ways around his issues.

“Hey, Elena!” The grungy blond called out, his eyes set on the hurdles in front of him. “Where’d you steal your style from, Kooki from The Shore?”

“Are you implying that I’m trash?” Elena sneered.

“No, I’m implying that you’re just a fake little attention whore who’s living out her fifteen minutes of fame.”

“See, I’ve met Kooki, and she’s not as bad as she seems. She’s someone who knows how to plan a publicity stunt to make people interested in her again … something that I grew up doing.” She placed a hand on her chest. “They don’t call me the socialite for nothing.”

“I think I saw your hair at a Halloween store.” Isaac continued. “It’s that all-natural stuff, right? Shaved right from the cow’s ass?”

“This is all real.” The hotel heiress ran a hand through her perfect waves.

Gabe snorted from a few platforms down. “Real as my-”

“Whoa, I don’t think you want to get into this.” Minerva cautioned the rich boy.

“You know, sometimes I see your sister on the front of the supermarket tabloids. She’s a real catch, all long legs and perfect skin and great butt.” The troublemaker taunted. “I’d really love to check into her honeymoon suite, if you know what I mean.”

Elena huffed. “Go right ahead and try. She’s easy.”

“Must run in the family.”

“Good try, but I’m adopted.”

“I’m sure your birth parents don’t regret their decision. After all, if my kid popped out as ugly and annoying as you are, I’d give her away too.”

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Elena grabbed an entire bucket of balls and flung them at Isaac. Just as the projectiles were about to hit his face, the slacker ducked, leaving Risty wide open to receive the fire. The jock was buried in the sports balls, unable to move before she flew off the end of the treadmill.

Chris’s jaw dropped. “Did … did Isaac just win?”

“Yeah, baby!” Isaac pumped his fist as the treadmill slowed to a stop.

“Wow. I really didn’t see that coming.” Chris let out a laugh. “Emmys, I guess I’ll be seeing you tonight at the Team’s Choice Awards.”

As Isaac victory danced across the treadmill, he blew a kiss in Elena’s direction. “Thanks for handing me the win, Elena!” When the socialite scoffed at him, the underachiever just chuckled and dove into the water below.

“The little light’s on, right?”

“Yes, Minerva.”

“Then why is the picture not showing?”

“Maybe it’d help if you removed the lens cap?”

“Right, right …” Minerva giggled nervously as she plucked the cap from her video camera, Gabe’s image immediately coming into view. “Okay, it’s interview time!”

The former enemies sat on opposite sides of a booth in the ‘50s Diner set. Gabe had promised Minerva an interview, and even though their team lost and they should probably be discussing the elimination, she was going to make sure he lived up to his word.

Minerva spun the camera around to film her own face, a wide smile on her lips. “Hello there, wonderful watchers, Minerva here with another installment of the RealityGossip Behind the Scenes Video Blog … oh, wow, that’s a mouthful! I’ll think of a better name later. Maybe I can just abbreviate it?”

“Even RGBSVB is a bit long.” Gabe remarked.

“Yeah, it kind of is. Oh, say hi to Gabe!” She turned the camera to face the spoiled boy. He gave it a quick wave before she twisted it back around to face herself again. “I’m not terrified of him anymore! Turns out he’s actually a pretty good guy who doesn’t really hate me … that was mostly Elena.”

All Elena.” Gabe corrected.

“Any-who, we’ve just come back from another challenge, which was something that would’ve fit right into TD season one! I can’t tell you what it’s about, but I can say I have quite a few bruises from it. It seemed to be going well, but – spoiler alert! – we lost. Again. But it was close!” Minerva whipped the camera around to face Gabe again. “What do you think about our unexpected loss?”

“It’s all Elena’s fault.” The bushy-haired teen stated. “And I’m not just saying that because I hate her. Yes, I think she’s a feral little bitch who doesn’t deserve one cent of her daddy’s money, but this actually was her fault. We’d have won if it weren’t for her stupid move. This’ll probably sound like the pot calling the kettle black, but she was thinking with her ego instead of her brain, and now the whole team has to suffer.”

“Do you think the other Emmys agree?” The chatterbox asked.

“Definitely. Unless we have another Robert or Camille incident on our hands, that prissy little brat will be voted off tonight.”

“It’s amazing how quickly your opinion on her changed. You wouldn’t have said that about her two challenges ago.”

“Actually, yes I would have. I’ve hated her since the beginning.”

Minerva furrowed her eyebrows. “But why did you work for her for so long? She treated you like you were her slave, and you didn’t get anything out of it.”

The question hit a nerve with Gabe, his sarcastic face falling to something a bit more vulnerable. “It doesn’t matter.”

“It does matter. Risty said you wouldn’t tell her either, but she knew something was up.” Minerva softly bumped Gabe’s knee with hers under the table. “I don’t care that you started off on the wrong foot with all of us. You’re still a person, and a very good one at that, so you can’t keep everything bottled up inside.”

The upper class teen stared down at the table. “I told you, it doesn’t matter. It’ll sound stupid.”

“Yeah, and half the things I say sound stupid, but that hasn’t gotten me to shut my mouth yet. You can tell me anything and I won’t judge.”

Gabe looked up at her begging blue eyes and then down at the camera. Eventually, he sighed. “Shut that off and I’ll explain.”

“Yes, sir!” Minerva held the camera up to film her face. “Sorry, guys, as much as I love to provide the gossip, I have to keep this one private. Talk to you later!” She shut the device off and placed it on the seat next to her. “Go ahead and let it all out.”

Gabe fidgeted with the knot in his tie for a few minutes before gathering the courage to speak. “My family is rich, as you should already know, and I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My parents got me anything I wanted and more, and I’ve always excelled in school, so I’ve never really had to try for anything. My parents or a butler were always at my side, and the only time I’ve ever really been out on my own is at my private academy … but even then my parents have the in with the school, so the faculty are keeping an eye on me.” He ran his hand through his hair, threading his fingers through the curls. “When I auditioned for this show, I didn't even think that this would be my first time experiencing real independence. If something went wrong, I couldn’t just call my dad in to pay off a guy and fix it. The first night that we got here, I was sitting in my room and realized that I was actually alone … and that scared the crap out of me.

“I’ve never had to interact with ‘normal’ teenagers, so I wasn’t really sure what to say to you guys to try to get to know you. I don’t know what you do with your free time, so I felt like I couldn’t really relate. Instead of accepting that I was an outsider looking in, I made myself think that I just didn’t understand you all because you were beneath me. After the romance challenge, I heard Elena ranting about her wealth and knew that she was somebody that I’d actually have something in common with. I joined her alliance in the hopes that I’d have an ally in this game instead of having to suffer through it alone. I definitely didn’t expect that she'd be the cause of the suffering.

“Elena pushed me around and degraded me and never let me get a word in, but I knew that I’d already pushed you guys away and lost my chances of making a friend. When I ran into Risty after the music videos, I tried to be nice, but I’d already convinced you all that I was nothing but a cocky snob. I didn’t think I could fend for myself, so I kept coming back to Elena, no matter how harsh she got. I hated her, but, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I depended on her.”

“If you told somebody what was going on, we would’ve taken you in!” Minerva insisted. “Risty or I would’ve helped you out. We just didn’t know …”

“I know you didn’t know. I’d already made you think that I was a shallow jerk, so you hated me at the time.” The rich boy said. “You probably would’ve thought I was making up this story to manipulate you.”

“I didn’t hate you!” The motor mouth protested. “I was just scared of you, which is totally different. And Risty didn’t hate you, you just ignored her. You guys'd probably get along if you acted like yourself around her.”

“How was I supposed to know that? It looked a lot like hate to me.”

“Well, just think: this is all behind you. This challenge has been your new beginning, and you can leave all your social stigmas, fears, and awful alliances behind.” Minerva comforted. “And when Elena gets the boot at the elimination tonight, you and I are going to celebrate!”

“We’re all in agreement that we’re going to push everyone to vote for Elena tonight, right?”

Victor nodded at Sebastian. “Right.”

“I really don’t think we’ll have to push them.” Monique pointed out. “I’m sure they’re all voting for her anyway.”

“You might be sure, but we need to be absolutely positive that they’re all on the same page as us.” Sebastian clarified. “One stray vote and it could be one of us going home.”

Monique rolled her eyes. “You have nothing to worry about. If they're not on the same page, I’ll force them to change their mind.”

“You know, for somebody so tiny, you have a major attitude problem.” Victor observed.

“You know, for somebody so ugly, you have a major ego problem.” The designer mocked.

The actor stuck up his nose. “Say what you want, but there’s a reason this beautiful face was cast as both Romeo and Juliet.”

“Because they weren’t sure which gender you were?”

“No – well, maybe, but also because I’m gorgeous-”

Sebastian stepped in between his alliance-mates. “Let’s get back to talking about the important matters. Like kicking Elena off.”

“Oh my god!” The stairwell door burst open and Elena rushed into the lobby with her hands over her face.

“Speak of the devil.” Sebastian muttered.

Elena collapsed to the ground and withdrew her hands, revealing a bright red face that was streaked with black from her running mascara. “Oh no, no, no, it’s awful!”

“We don’t think it looks that great either.” Victor grimaced. “You really don’t pull of the clown look.”

The hotel heiress let out a sob. “Of course I look like I fell out of the ugly tree. I’m crying! Pretty people like me aren’t meant to cry!”

“Dare I ask what’s wrong?” Monique questioned with a roll of her eyes.

“It’s … it’s just …” The socialite released a pathetic whimper. “It’s Gabe!”

The trendsetter sighed, kicking her feet up onto the arm of her chair. “I should’ve known.”

“No, no, it’s not any of the usual crap. This is different, this is serious!” Elena sniffled. “That bastard went too far!”

“Did he ruin your extensions?”

“No, and they’re not extensions. You don’t understand the weight of what he did, Monique. I wanted to go to the confessional but I misplaced my key-”

“It’s in the medicine cabinet next to the toothpaste.” The New Yorker interjected.

“That would’ve been nice to know a few minutes ago! I left the door cracked so I didn’t lock myself out while I made my short confession, but Gabe broke in while I was gone! He ransacked the room and tore open one of my bags to steal my most prized possession!”

“Your bag of fake nails?” Monique asked.

Elena sighed dramatically. “No!”

“Your hairdryer?” questioned Sebastian.


“Your eyebrow wax?” Victor suggested.

“No, and how did you know that I wax my – actually, you know what, it doesn’t matter. What really matters is that he stole something that actually means something to me!” The waterworks started up again, flooding Elena’s eyes with tears. “It was a photo of me and m-my … my birth parents.”

The bored looks were wiped from Victor and Monique’s faces, though Sebastian remained hesitant.

“I-it’s the only image I have of them, and now it’s gone! Who knows what he did to it? It could be in flames as I s-s-speak! He must’ve been reminded that I was adopted when I said it to Isaac in the challenge and knew it’d be the p-perfect ammo to use against me.”

“Where’s Gabe now?” Sebastian asked, still not fully convinced.

“He's with Minerva, spinning the story to make him seem like the good guy.” Elena wiped her eyes, smearing her eyeliner even further. “I know I’ve been horrible, but this is just sinking too low! I would n-n-never do something like this to him, not over some stupid grudge! This … this is probably the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. Worse than when I got my hair stuck in a fan at Lindley Logan’s birthday bash! If I’m voted off tonight without that picture, I don’t know what I’ll do.” She stared up at them with deep brown puppy dog eyes. “Please, will you help me just this once? I might be mean, but I’m human too.”

Victor and Monique turned to Sebastian with pleading expressions. The card shark just raised an eyebrow at Elena.

“We’ll see.”

“Welcome, Emmys, to your third Team Choice Awards!” Chris stood beneath the spotlight on the elimination stage. “It was a close call, but you ended up losing the challenge by a hair … and to the slacker, too!”

“Don’t talk about it.” Risty grumbled.

“Oh, I’m talking about it.” The host smiled. “I take it you’re not feeling great about what happened?”

“Of course I’m not.” The big-haired jock responded. “I lost us the challenge!”

“I don’t think you're the one we're blaming.” Gabe hissed, eyes shifting over to glare at Elena.

“Well, let me add some more fuel to keep your pain train going, Risty!” Chris gestured to the gold stars lined up on the front of the stage. Five of them were shattered to pieces, their names barely legible. “As you can see, you guys have lucked out and had only had one team member voted out. That ends today.” He tapped on the only broken star with red text on it. “Will Risty be the next Emmy to join Zack in Loserville, or will it be another one of you taking the Red Carpet of Shame? You’ve all cast your votes …”

Confession Cam

Minerva: “Elena. Duh. Did you really think I wouldn’t vote for her?”

Victor: “I hate to say it, but Elena’s sob story seemed legit, so I’m going to have to vote for Gabe. That move was so heartless that even I wouldn’t have done it.”

Gabe: “Elena, Elena, Elena!” He gave the camera a wave. “Say hi to the devil when you get back to where you came from, succubus!”

“The first silver star,” Chris held up the symbol of safety, “goes to Risty. You were the only player without a Y chromosome to make it to the final round, but you represented the ladies very well!”

The athlete caught her star, a relieved smile spreading across her face. “Thank you so much for keeping me around, guys.”

“Did you really think we’d vote you off for something as little as that?” Sebastian asked.

“Um, yeah, I kind of did.” The athlete frowned. “I fell for Isaac’s stupid trick.”

“Happens to the best of us.” Wes said with a laugh.

“Enough with the mushy stuff, I have some eliminating to do!” Chris shouted. “The next stars are for Sebastian and Victor, the other round three qualifiers. Wes, Minerva, and Ophelia are also safe for making it to round two, and Donna and Monique managed to stick around even though they totally bombed round one.”

“Physical challenges are not my strong suit.” Donna stated.

“Yeah, we can tell.” Chris snickered. “And that just leaves Elena and Gabe. This feels a lot like a case of déjà vu, doesn’t it? If Camille hadn’t been a wanted criminal, one of you would already be out.”

“Yeah, we get it. Thank god for escaped fugitives.” Elena snapped. “Can you just hurry up?”

“Why, you got a hot date you’re late for?” Gabe retorted.

“Dudes, seriously, just shut up already.” Chris huffed. “I am so glad one of you is actually going home. The final star goes too …


“What?!” Gabe yelped.

“What?!” Minerva screeched.

Elena caught her star and waggled it at Gabe. “Sayonara, loser!”

“What ... I … I don’t understand! What happened?” Gabe stood up and faced his team. “Why'd you vote me off? She’s the one that cost us the challenge!”

“We know what you did.” Monique explained. “That was a dick move, Gabe, even for you.”

“ … What are you talking about?” The spoiled teen asked. “I didn’t do anything!”

“Time to go, bra.” Chris waved him off. Gabe let out an angry grunt before trudging over to the Red Carpet of Shame. Once he stepped onto it, the carpet began to move beneath his feet.

“Sweet baby Jesus!” Gabe cried as the carpet accelerated, launching him into the open limo door. Chef Hatchet slammed the door behind him before climbing into the driver’s seat and pulling away.

The Emmys stared after him, many beginning to doubt if voting off the rich kid had been the right decision.

Confession Cam

Elena: The gossip’s face was curled into a pain-stricken frown. “Oh no, it was so awful! How could he do this?!” Her expression transformed into a mischievous grin. “Oh, I’m sorry. Did I completely make up that story about Gabe and my photo? Yes, yes I did.” The dark-haired girl let out a sinister laugh before crossing her legs elegantly. “Sebastian’s alliance had no idea that I was faking it, and now I have them twisted around my little finger like I’ve wanted since the beginning. You just wait. I might’ve fallen my knees today, but that’s a onetime deal. Next time, they’ll be begging to me.”

A pajama-clad Irina stepped into her new room, pulling the towel off of her head and shaking out her wet hair. As she began to run a comb through the long, blonde strands, she heard mattress springs creak from behind her.

“ … Irina?”

The blonde bombshell turned to look at Cara, who was sitting on the end of her bed. “Finally ready to talk?”

“I think so.” Cara said. “But it’s not about Camille – I mean Veronique. I don’t want to think about her ever again.”

“Oh?” Irina sat beside her. “Then what’s this about?”


A small smile crept onto the model’s face. “Of course.”

Cara let out a nervous giggle, a pink tint rising to her tanned cheeks. “You don’t have to say it like that.”

“Like what?” The Russian teased in a sing-song.

“Like that!” The environmentalist said, her voice squeaking nervously. “What is this? Truth or dare on the playground?”

“In Russia, the only option was dare.”

Cara’s eyes widened. “Oh god, that sounds awful.”

Irina cracked up. “I’m just kidding. Didn’t want you to be nervous when you tell me all about your crush.”

“It sounds so lame when you call it a crush. I just … he was so different in the challenge today, but, like, a good kind of different!” The nature lover excitedly explained. “Like, before he seemed like he didn’t care about anything or anybody, but today he actually tried. Not only that, but he won for us. Paul had me questioning his honesty when he messed with Wes’s voice, but today … seeing him try so hard for us … I don’t know, something just clicked!”

“That little heart shaped light bulb in your head flicked on?” Irina asked with a sly grin.

Cara nodded her head. “Something like that. It’s just seeing him care about something made me think that maybe … he could possibly care about me?”

“There’s the Cara I know.” The beautiful blonde laced her fingers on her lap. “So, what're you going to do with this new revelation?”

Cara’s face lit up with a bright red blush. “I … um …” She was lost in thought for a moment before letting out a nervous squeal. “Ah, I’m not good with this stuff!”

“I think you can figure it out if you think really hard.” Irina casually got off the bed and returned to combing her hair. "I have a good feeling that he’ll definitely say yes.”

The cafeteria was shrouded in darkness until the refrigerator door swung open, the fridge light cutting through the black. Isaac leaned over and rustled through its contents, pushing aside the fresh vegetables and fruit at the front of the shelf to dig for something with a bit more substance. Actually putting an effort into a challenge burned out a lot of energy, which when combined with the disgusting lunch and dinner left him absolutely starving.

He immediately halted his desperate hunt, however, when he heard the cafeteria doors creak open. Somebody’s shoes clicked on the tile floor with their every step, and Isaac slowly shut the fridge, hoping that the intruder hadn’t noticed that he was in the kitchen. Grabbing a nearby frying pan to defend himself, he crept towards the door, completely silent except for his breathing. On the count of three, he burst through the swinging door, wielding the frying pan like a baseball bat.

“You’re not gonna get me tonight, Escaped Psycho Killer with a Chainsaw and a Hook!”

Avery was leaning against the wall, her arms crossed over her chest and her legs crossed at the ankles, a smug expression on her face.

“Getting a midnight snack? More soda and waffles?”

Isaac’s tense shoulders relaxed, his hand that was holding the frying pan flopping to his side. “Oh, it’s you.”

“You don’t have to sound so disgusted.”

“I think I’d prefer it if you were the psycho killer.” She didn’t even seem offended by the remark. Isaac turned around and placed his frying pan on the counter. “For your information, I’m not looking for waffles this time. I’m not going near anything I have to cook, ‘cause that challenge tired me out.”

Avery smirked. “Sounds like you need to improve your stamina. Nobody likes a guy who doesn’t last very long.”

One side of Isaac’s mouth curled upward. “Look at you with the innuendos. I figured you’d think that was above you.”

“I’m a lot more laidback than you think.” The drama queen claimed. “A bad attitude gets you nowhere.”

The underachiever rolled his eyes. “Says the girl whose main role in this competition has been bossing her teammates around.”

“I didn’t see anybody else stepping up to the leadership role, so I took it. And you’re one to talk. All you’ve done on the show is bully your teammates and hit on Cara.”

“You see, there’s a difference between you and me.” Isaac stepped closer so he could keep his voice down, wary of the patrolling security guards that could step in at any minute. “People like me for what I do. You … well, for you it’s the exact opposite.”

Avery pointed at him with a well-manicured nail. “You like me.”

Isaac snorted. “Yeah, sure.”

“You can’t lie to me.” The diva’s brow curved into a perfect arch. “You think I don’t have experience dealing with stupid boys like you?”

“Who’s lying?” The troublemaker held his hands out. “Last time I checked, I completely hate you.”

“It’s not that simple.” Avery’s half-lidded eyes looked like those of a predator. “Hate is a passionate emotion, Isaac, and I think you might have your feelings confused. You want to hate me, but you can’t fight the intense attraction.”

“Why would you-”

“I’m just speaking from experience. We’re two sides of the same coin.” She admitted. “I want to hate you, but I can’t. I want to vote you off and never have to see your face again, but I won’t. Everything you do annoys me, but it’s because I want a different kind of attention from you. You don’t make sense to me, but for some reason that just makes me want you more and more.”

Neither was aware of how it had happened, but at some point Isaac had moved much closer to Avery. They were eye-to-eye now, their faces just inches apart. Avery lifted a hand to rest on his chest, and Isaac let out a sigh. “I … um …”

“You annoy the hell out of me,” The drama queen purred, her voice barely above a whisper, “but I can't stop thinking of how much I need you to be mine.”

Isaac licked his lower lip. “I don’t know if I want to hit you or kiss you right now.”

Avery gave him a seductive smile. “I know which one I want to do.”

Isaac pushed her back against the wall and thrust his head forward to meet her lips, his brain interpreting her words as an invitation. Avery opened her mouth with a light gasp, tangling her fingers in his overgrown hair as their tongues met. One messy kissed turned to two, then three, then many, many more as lips began to roam. In a split second of awareness, Isaac pulled away from Avery’s neck, though he stayed close enough that they were still practically sharing breaths.

“But … Cara …”

Avery placed her palm on top of his hand, smoothly guiding it down to rest on her hip, right on top of the cold metal zipper of her skirt. “Forget her.”

And when he wrenched her closer and crushed their lips back together, Isaac convinced himself that, in that moment, forgetting about Cara was the best thing to do.

Episode Seven: Fire Insults at Will

Chapter Thirteen: This Means War
Episode 7 Title Card

Updated: August 1, 2014

“Last time on Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment, I finally got to enjoy the mindless violence that this show used to be centered around.” A war paint streaked Chris paused to look off into the distance, his face giddy at the memory. “Cara was feeling sour about the whole ‘Camille is a heartless criminal’ thing, so Irina moved in with her to cheer her up. Sebastian explained his cold strategy to Victor, and Minerva premiered her new behind the scenes contestant-stalking blog.

“The challenge was full of falling, flailing, and failing as the three-round obstacle course eliminated player after player. Elena and Gabe were at each other’s throats, while Isaac and Avery seemed to be after each other’s hearts with Cara distracted by crippling angst. Eventually, slacker Isaac managed to beat power player Risty to win the challenge by doing the one thing he knows best – cheating.

“After the challenge, Minerva patched things up with Gabe, who explained that he just worked with Elena because he was lonely and pathetic. Meanwhile, Elena convinced Sebastian’s alliance that Gabe had stolen a personal item of hers, leading up to The Emmys voting off the rich boy that night. After the elimination, Cara told Irina that she had feelings for Isaac, unaware that said troublemaker was currently locking lips with a certain curvaceous drama queen.” The host wiggled his eyebrows. “Ooooh, scandalous! What will be the aftermath of this new love triangle? Will The Oscars be able to maintain their winning streak? Better yet, will there ever be a girl eliminated who isn’t a jewel thief? Watch everyone battle it out on this thrilling episode of Total … Drama … Island: For Your Entertainment!”

By the time midnight struck, The Hotel was finally left in a peaceful silence, as the bickering roommates and fooling around friends succumbed to their challenge-worn bodies’ desperate pleas for sleep. The main lobby was chillingly quiet, the silence only broken by the chirp of crickets outside the window, until two sets of footsteps descended down one of the staircases. Though the noise would not be a problem at any other time of day, the otherwise hushed hotel caused the footsteps to sound as loud as gunshots.

“Can’t you walk any quieter?” One of the night owls hissed under his breath.

“Not in these boots.”

The stairwell door creaked open, and Angel and Allison emerged and immediately pressed themselves against a shadowed wall. After scanning the room for security, they both let out a sigh of relief and relaxed their postures.

“I told you the coast would be clear.” Allison said, giving Angel a good-natured jab with her elbow.

“It’s safe in here, but look.” The fire starter gestured towards one of the front windows, where a security guard’s shoulder peeked out from where he was monitoring the door. “Do you have a plan to get past these guards, Agent Bond?”

“Of course I do.” The adrenaline junkie reached into her boot and pulled out a digital watch, the face reading 12:04 in bright green numbers. She tossed the accessory at her friend. “I’ve done my research, Angel.”

The pyromaniac snatched the watch from the air, giving it a once over. “I apparently haven’t, because I have no idea what the time has to do with anything.”

“Over the last few days, I’ve been watching the two on door duty through the wall of windows. At the exact same time every day, they leave their posts.”

“Where do they go?” Angel asked.

Allison shrugged. “I don’t know, probably a poop break or something. Wherever they go, they’re always gone for a good twenty minutes, and nobody covers for them. That should give us plenty of time to get out and in without anybody noticing.”

The Puerto Rican held up the watch. “What time'll they be gone?”

“Right abouutttttt …” The daredevil held out the word until the four flicked to a five. “Now!” The pair turned around just in time to see the guard’s shoulder disappear, two pairs of heavy footsteps trudging away from the door. “And we’re good to go!”

“And what if they heard you loudly announcing the plan and are waiting right around the corner for us?” Angel questioned.

“Then we’re totally screwed.” The scarlet-haired girl stated. “They’ll probably think we’re trying to sneak a peek at an upcoming challenge to cheat. Hopefully the punishment isn’t disqualification.”

Angel had been reaching for the door, though his hand dropped at the mention of disqualification. “And you don’t care that you might be losing your chance at a million bucks because you want to explore?”

“I do care, but what’s the chance that they’re actually going to catch us? I’m willing to take the risk.” Looking up at her friend’s conflicted expression, Allison could practically see the gears turning in his head. “If you don’t want to do this, we can just forget about the whole thing. It wouldn’t be fun if I went alone.”

“It’s … it’s fine. I need to get out of this stupid hotel anyway.” Angel stood up straight and confidently pushed the door open. He and Allison poked their heads out of the crack, and, after a full examination of the surrounding area, deemed it safe to continue. They took a cautious step outside, bracing themselves for the sound of an alarm, though the warning never came. Angel gently closed the door behind them, careful not to let it make a sound as it shut. “Do you have a key to get back in?”

“No, but I have a bobby pin.” Allison reached into her arm warmer and pulled out at least a dozen pins. “Make that a crap-load of bobby pins. I may have over prepared.”

“You know how to pick a lock?” The fire starter questioned.

The thrill seeker grinned. “No, but I bet you do!”

Angel rolled his eyes. “You just think I know how to do typical criminal things because I like setting things on fire, right? Talk about stereotyping.”

Allison’s smile didn’t fade. “I didn’t hear you deny it …”

The Latino began to walk away, though after a few steps he turned around. “Okay, yes, I can pick a lock. Now where are we going?”

“Well, first of all, quiet down. Now that we’re on the grounds, we’re in unsafe territory.”

“I’m not the one with the lead feet.” The pyromaniac whispered.

“I’m sorry that I apply my driving style to real life. I’ll try to be quieter.” The daredevil stepped ahead of him, her feet still clunking on the pavement. “I think we should head to the amphitheater and see whose star is crushed.”

The pair of Oscars crept across the film lot, slipping in between sets to stay in the shadows. Contrary to the warning that Chris had given on the first day, the area wasn’t flooded with guards, and the only sounds that they heard were the rustling of animals completing their nighttime routines and the clomping of Allison’s boots. After a few minutes of walking, they finally spotted the staircase leading down to the Team’s Choice Awards amphitheater. As Allison rushed ahead, Angel followed with less enthusiasm, keeping a cautious eye out for security.

“Allison, get down!” The pyromaniac hissed, pressing himself against a shadowed wall and reaching out a hand to force her to do the same. A beam of light illuminated the spot where they had just been standing.

“Hey, did you hear that?” A gruff voice pondered.

A second beam appeared a few feet away from the first, lighting up the face of a stout man in a uniform. Angel and Allison held their breath as the two guards inspected the area, though the flashlights never reached the concealed corner where they hid.

“It must’ve just been the wind.” The second guard replied. “Working for McLean’s got you hallucinating.”

The two flashlight beams turned to face the other direction, and the pair of guards retreated towards another set. Allison and Angel scurried to the amphitheater, slipping underneath the chain slung across the entrance and descending the stairs.

“Check Elena’s first.” Angel instructed, walking alongside the stars mounted against the front of the stage. When he reached Elena’s, he was shocked to find that it remained intact, though the star to its immediate right was freshly destroyed. He leaned over to pick up one of the shattered pieces that had fallen to the ground, turning it over to read the name etched into it. “Why Gabe?”

“Eh, good riddance.” Allison scoffed, hoisting herself up to sit on the edge of the stage. “I didn’t really like that guy anyway.”

“Agreed.” Her friend nodded, leaning against Elena’s star. His casual posture immediately stiffened when he heard an odd sound. “Did you say something?”

“What? No, why?”

“I think I just heard something.”

The daredevil arched a thick brow. “I guess getting stuck in The Hotel really has made you a little stir crazy.”

Tee hee hee.

Angel’s eyes widened. “Please tell me you heard that.”

Tee hee hee.

“What the hell is it?” Allison shrieked.

Tee hee hee.

Hahaha hee hee.

“I think it’s coming closer!” Angel yelped.

“And it’s multiplying!” The giggles grew louder and fuller as more of the mystery creatures began to join in with the strange twitter. Allison dropped down to stand beside Angel, frantically looking around for the source of the sound. “Look!”

Angel followed her gaze to the bleachers, where many pairs of eyes were peeking between the slats. “Who’s there?”

“Allison … Angel … Angel … Allison …”

The pair of teens exchanged a terrified expression as their names were chanted in a chorus of differently pitched voices.

“I’m too young to die!” Allison squeaked, clamping onto Angel’s arm. “There’re so many things I haven’t done yet!”

“Allison … Angel … sign our shirts …”

“Oh god.” Angel’s heart dropped.

“What?!” The thrill seeker squeezed his arm even tighter. “Is it ghosts or something? Because all that voodoo crap I did in the second challenge was a joke, I didn’t mean to summon angry spirits!”

“No.” The Latino shook his head slowly. “It’s worse.”




“Even worse.”

“Angel … Allison … can we get a selfie?”

“Ghost werewolves that drink blood like vampires?”

“No.” Angel grimaced. “It’s the diehard fans.”

Suddenly, the fans started creeping out from beneath the bleachers. Most of them were wide-eyed teenage girls, though there were several young boys and lonely men strewn throughout the pack.

“What are they doing here?” Allison whispered. “How did they even get in here?”

“I don’t know, but I really don’t want to find out.” Angel grabbed her by the arm and began to run. “Let’s get out of here!”

They scrambled up the stairs, the hardcore fans right on their tail as they ducked under the chain. They raced as quietly as they could across the film lot, though the fans were less aware and were squealing in excitement as they reach out for the reality stars, their numbers only growing as more and more fans emerged from inside sets.

Confession Cam

Allison: “If this whole Total Drama thing doesn’t work out, Angel and I are going to star in a spin-off: Unlikely Chase Sequences That Actually Happened.” She declared this with a serious face. “Seriously, first the Veronique thing, and now this? Just add in a cute animal sidekick and a hot girl and you have a television classic.”

When the two frantic Oscars realized that there was no way they could reach the safety of The Hotel before the fans caught up to them, they decided to take an alternate escape route while they still had a slight lead over them. Allison yanked Angel around a corner and began to climb up the bricks that jutted out from the side of the old-time jailhouse set. They scaled the building and pulled themselves up onto the roof, where they sat in unmoving silence as they heard the fans enter the alley below them.

“Where’d they go?” One admirer asked.

“I think they went this way!” Another proclaimed, leading the flock away from the jailhouse. After a few seconds, Angel and Allison saw two flashlight beams rushing after them.

“Who’s out here?!” One of the security guards shouted. “Get back here!”

Once the security guards were out of their vicinity, Angel let out a sigh of relief and Allison laid down on the roof with a laugh.

“If anybody ever wonders how this show stays in business, they need to see those whackos!” The adrenaline junkie managed to get out through her cackling. “I guess that explains a lot, right?” She cut off her laughter when she didn’t hear a response. “Angel?”

“You know, when your hair spreads out like that it kind of looks like a flame.”

The daredevil narrowed her eyes at the pyromaniac. “Okay, I guess it sort of doe-”

“And the way the moon’s shining down right now, it gives everything, like, this fiery glow.” Angel continued, his face in a daze. “It’s like somebody was holding a lighter up to everything. It all looks so warm.”

“Angel, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” He insisted. “Totally cool … chilly, even. Just anything but hot, because I’m definitely not that. Did it just get cold all of a sudden or is it just me?”

Allison stared at her babbling friend with terrified confusion. “Angel, you need to breathe!”

“What’re you talking about, I am breathing!” The fire starter began rapidly breathing in and out. “See? I’m one step away from hyperventilating!”

The horror didn’t leave the normally fearless girl’s expression. “Are you going through some kind of fire withdrawal?”

“Ha-ha, me? Nah, no way!” Angel laughed awkwardly, slowly shaking his head. Eventually, he collapsed onto his back beside Allison. “Okay, yes, but don’t tell anybody.”

“I won’t, but it won’t stay a secret too long if you keep talking like this. You’re more out of it than Ophelia.” The Latino let out a curt laugh, and the crimson-haired girl grinned. “This is good. I’m here to help, and I think the first thing we need to try to do is get your mind off of it.”

“I’ve been trying!” He claimed. “And I was doing so well for a while, but eventually I remember that I’m not thinking about it because I don’t want to burn things, it’s that I can’t. My contract says I can’t burn anything valuable while I’m on the show, but that just makes me want to more! The other day I locked myself in the bathroom and burned tissues. Goddamn tissues!”

“You’re just out of it, that’s all.” Allison said. “Being locked up on this film set with cameras watching our every move is driving us all crazy. We need to get out of here. Sneak out one day, go wherever we want, have a night all to ourselves.”

“Yeah, that sounds nice.” Angel closed his eyes, letting out a deep breath.

“It can be just you and me, or we can bring Isaac or Paulie if he’s in a good mood, and we’ll party or chill or whatever. Just get away from it all for a few hours, and we can be back by morning.”

“I … I’d really like that.”

“I knew you would.” Allison sat up and shook out her hair. “Now that we have this planned, we need to get back.”

Angel propped himself up on his elbows. “You don’t want to stay out a little longer?”

She plucked the digital watch from her boot again. “We only had twenty minutes, remember?”

“Right, right.” The pyromaniac nodded. “Wouldn’t want to get mauled for an autograph by those crazies, right?”

“One of these days, maybe she’ll remember to open the shade before she leaves.”

Ophelia lifted the blinds up from her window, letting in rays of sun to light up her dark bedroom. Her roommate was nowhere to be found, though the artist had learned to expect this. Donna was missing nine mornings out of ten, disappearing off to God knows where but usually regrouping with Ophelia at breakfast. The blonde made Donna’s bed for her, humming to herself as she folded her blanket over. When she turned around to fluff her hair in the mirror, she heard a knock on the other side of the bathroom door.

“Helloooooo?” She called in a sing-song.

“A little birdie told me the most beautiful blonde in the building is right behind this door.” A familiar voice purred from the bathroom.

Ophelia tilted her head in confusion. “No, Irina’s room is upstairs.”

A sigh. “Ophelia, I’m talking about you.”

“Oh!” The oddball rushed to unlock the door, swinging it open to find Victor on the other side. “You’re too sweet.”

“I only tell the truth, Ophelia. No legacy is so rich as honesty.” The thespian smiled. “Can I come in?”

“Of course!” She stepped aside and took a dramatic bow. “Welcome to my room. Watch out for the various items of clothing on the ground, and make sure you don’t step on any of my stuff.”

Victor stepped inside the artist’s room to find a huge mural painted on the far wall. It was a strange cross between a beautiful floral landscape and psychedelic patterns, and, though it was unusual and a bit garish, it perfectly matched Ophelia’s personality. “You made that?”

“I did!” The painter grinned.

“It’s extraordinary.” When Victor saw Ophelia blush in reaction, he changed the topic, satisfied by the response. “Oh, you know why I think the room seems so nice? It’s missing an obnoxious cynic.”

“Oh, yeah, Donna disappears all the time, but I’m not really sure where she goes.”

“Fortunately for you, I have the answers to all your problems.” Victor plucked a sticky note from his pocket. “My roommate is not a cold-hearted b-word and was courteous enough to leave a note.”

Ophelia gasped. “Donna’s not a-” Her outburst was cut short when the actor pressed the note to her forehead. She giggled girlishly and removed the sticky note, squinting her eyes as she struggled to decode the unnecessarily tiny scrawl on it.

“Victor,” She read aloud, “Since you decided to again entertain the whole building at one in the morning by screaming show tunes in the shower, I had to leave. Thanks a lot. You’re a great friend. Donna and I are supposed to cook breakfast today, so we’ll be in the cafeteria when you wake up from your full, uninterrupted sleep, because you don’t have anybody keeping you awake with the song of their melodramatic people. Your sleepless roommate, Wes.” The pale-haired girl looked up at Victor. “He’s a bit blunt, isn’t he?”

“For a guy who writes music, he really doesn’t have a way with words.” Victor agreed. “I think they’re making up the whole keeping them awake thing just to annoy me. You’re the same distance from the shower as them, but you never wake up!”

“That’s because I think you sing like an angel.” Ophelia cooed, giving Victor a look of admiration. Even when they locked eyes, her wonder didn’t fade, and the thespian found himself lost for words. His token flirty responses escaped him, and his face flushed a light pink. A smile spread across Ophelia’s lips, and Victor blinked to snap himself out of it and slung an arm around her shoulders.

“And I would say the same thing about you.” He drawled. “How’s about breakfast?”

Isaac jutted his plate out. “Pancake me.”

Donna refused to comply. “Excuse me?”

“Pancake.” The underachiever shook his plate a little, but she just gave him a disgusted look.

“Do you really think that speaking like a Neanderthal will convince me that you deserve food?”

Isaac glared. “I’m not in the mood to joke around!”

“And I’m not in the mood to deal with an unwashed pig whose mother never taught him to say ‘please,’ but look where I am.”

“Just give me my damn breakfast!” Isaac snarled, catching the attention of everybody in the cafeteria.

Despite all of the eyes on her, Donna, against all of her common sense, remained stubborn. “No.

The troublemaker lunged over the counter, reaching out for the wisecracker’s throat. “You little bitch!”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Wes rushed over and stepped in front of Donna, grabbing Isaac by the wrists and pushing him back. “What's your problem?”

“All I want is my freaking breakfast, but she won’t give it to me!” The slacker growled.

Wes glanced back at Donna, who stood behind him with her arms crossed. “Really?

She moved her shoulder in what could barely be called a shrug. “Yes.”

Wes slapped a pancake onto a plate and slid it to Isaac. “Here. Take it and get out of here.” Satisfied that he had gotten what he wanted, the troublemaker stomped over to pour himself some orange juice. Wes looked down at Donna. “You know that little voice that people have in the back of their heads that tells them to quit doing something before they get killed?”

“You mean a conscience?” Donna suggested.

“I don’t think you have one.”

When Wes turned back to the tray of pancakes, but Donna wouldn’t let the comment slide, slipping in between him and the counter. “Yes, I do! I probably have the most common sense of everyone here.”

“You should start using it.” Wes leaned over Donna to scoop food onto Risty’s plate, hiding his grin at the petite pessimist’s huff of frustration.

Putting the juice container down, Isaac rolled his eyes at the pair of Emmys, muttering expletives under his breath at them as he collapsed into the chair beside Angel. The other Oscars watched in scared silence as he sunk his teeth into his pancake and ripped a piece from it.

“Are you okay, man?” Angel asked as the rest of the team started up other conversations, desperate to pretend that Isaac and Donna’s skirmish hadn’t happened.

“Not at all.” Isaac said through his teeth. “I hope the challenge today is violent so I can beat the crap out of something.”

“Don’t let Donna get to you.” The pyromaniac advised. “I’m pretty sure she’s like that with everyone.”

“I was pissed before I got here. She just made it worse.”

“Made what worse? Dude, what’s going on?”

“Yes, I wonder what could possibly be wrong.” Avery hummed from a few seats down, her pouty lips curled into a grin. “Whatever could it be that’s making you feel so bad?”

“Nobody asked you to open your mouth, Avery!” The slacker sneered, his fork clanking down onto his plate.

“Hmmm, sounds like you don’t want to me to mention something.” The drama queen gave a mock expression of confusion, tapping her finger against her chin. “But what could I know that nobody else does?”

“Just shut up!”

The table was silent once again as Isaac attempted to cool down, Allison, Irina, and Paul scooting their chairs away from him in fear. When he resumed eating, Angel started talking to his teammates in an attempt to summon them back to the table. While everybody else was distracted, a warm hand slid across the table to rest on top of Isaac’s. He looked up to find a pair of big, sympathetic brown eyes watching him.

“You know,” Cara spoke, her voice calm and gentle, “if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here.”

Isaac gave her a bitter grin. “Thank you … but this really isn’t something you need to be involved with.”

Confession Cam

Isaac: He sighed and put his face in his hands. “I … I really screwed up. Messing around with Avery the other night might be the worst thing I’ve ever done. Yeah, she’s hot, but that’s nothing. If Cara finds out …” He slammed his fist onto the bench he was sitting on. “I’ll have ruined everything with her! If I try to keep it from her, though, she’ll have to find out eventually.” He looked up at the camera, his fingers running down his face and stretching the skin of his cheeks. “I let stupid hormones get in the way of common sense, and now Avery has me in the worst position possible … and I have no idea how to fix it.”

“Dude, did you see that?” Risty sat down beside Sebastian at The Emmys’ table. “Donna almost got herself slaughtered!

“Luckily she had a six foot-something skeleton to protect her.” Sebastian responded, not sharing Risty’s enthusiasm.

“Come on, that had me on the edge of my seat!” The athlete took an excited bite of her pancake. “You had to have at least been a little worried what would happen?”

“I knew she’d get out of it somehow. Donna doesn’t like getting her hands dirty.”

“Oh, I’m sorry for being left in suspense.” Risty put on a mocking tone. “We can’t all be as omnipresent as you are, Bas.”

“Of course you can’t be.” Sebastian smiled. “It wouldn’t be a very good trick if everyone could do it. And don’t call me that.”

“You don’t like nicknames?”

“Nicknames remind me of my stepsister, who is an idiot, so I prefer to stay away from them.”

The big-haired Emmy snickered. “I have a wimpy twin brother, so I can relate to the idiot sibling thing.”

Stepsibling.” The card shark corrected.

Suddenly, a chair was shoved between Sebastian and Risty, and Elena plopped down in it. “What are you two chatting about?”

“Speaking of idiots ...” Sebastian mumbled.

“Oh, stop with the compliments, darling.” Elena chuckled, placing a hand on Sebastian’s shoulder, which he promptly removed. “So, what were we talking about?”

Risty fidgeted in her seat, sticking her elbows out to make room. “I don’t think there’s room in this area for three of us.”

“That’s right, so get out.” The socialite shoved the athlete away, causing her chair to go skidding across the room. Elena leaned on the table, a hand crawling its way up Sebastian’s arm. “So, where were we?”

Risty’s chair stopped skidding when she bumped into Victor at the other end of the table. The thespian pushed her out of his personal space, sending her sliding right back into Elena’s side.

“Hey, haven’t seen you in a while.” Sebastian waved at Risty, giving Elena a cocky smirk.

“Ugh, didn’t I tell you to get out of here?! I’m trying to have a private talk!” The hotel heiress reached out to push the jock again, but Risty stretched a leg out and kicked her away before she could touch her. “Hey, what are you doing?!”

Before Elena could hit Sebastian, he scooched back, and she went sliding past him and flying onto the floor. Sebastian and Risty cracked up into laughter, the other contestants soon joining them. Elena leapt to her feet and got ready to have the last word, but she was interrupted by somebody clearing their throat from the doorway. The competitors looked over to see a nervous young intern standing in the doorway.

“Um, hey guys.” He waved a pair of folded papers to them. “Chris sent me to get you for a challenge.”

The sixteen remaining players gathered around the intern, who handed papers to Elena and Angel. They unfolded them to find a map of McLean Studios, a big red X marked on the edge of the forest.

“I take it we’re going to the X?” Angel guessed.

“You got it.” The intern chuckled nervously. “You guys head out, I’ll clean up here.”

The two teams migrated outside of The Hotel, where Angel took a good look at his map and gave his team a smile. “I actually think I might know where we’re going.”

As the Oscars set on their trek, Elena rotated her map in confusion. “Which way do you hold this stupid thing?”

Monique snatched it away from her. “There’s a compass in the corner for a reason, you know.”

“Screw you and your compass, I can figure it out!” Elena ripped the map from the designer’s hands.

“No, you obviously can’t!” The trendsetter pulled at the other end of the map, though Elena didn’t release her hold.

“I have a chauffeur!” Elena whined. “Who needs a stupid map?!”

“Um, maybe an explorer?” Ophelia suggested, watching as the socialite and fashionista tugged the map back and forth. “Or somebody who’s lost?”


Elena and Monique stared at the shredded map, dropping it to the ground between them.

“Oh crap.” The New Yorker stared at the map’s remains before scurrying after The Oscars. “Follow them!”

The other eight Emmys chased Monique and The Oscars across the entire film set, eventually reaching the outskirts of the woods and, as Angel had predicted, the jailhouse set. As soon as they approached it, the door slammed open to reveal Chef Hatchet dressed in full military officer’s garb.

“Attention, maggots!” He barked, slapping a nightstick against his palm. The sixteen contestants got into a straight line and adjusted their posture, keeping their backs rigid, their arms at their sides, and their feet together. “I am Colonel Hatchet, and I will be your jailer today. Chris is gettin’ your weapons for the challenge, so I’m here to explain what’s goin’ on.”

“Did you just say weapons?” Cara whimpered.

Chef pointed his nightstick at her. “Did I say you could speak, Private Barnes?!”

“Wait, you’re a colonel now?” Avery asked. “What war were you even in?”

“Shut your mouth, Private Dellcourte!” Chef prodded Avery with his nightstick, though she was unfazed.

“Did you actually memorize all of our last names just so you could sound more intimidating?”

“Do you want to get Dishonorable Discharge?!”

“I’m not even in the army!” The diva exclaimed. “How am I going to be discharged from something I was never in?”

Avery and Chef glared at each other for a minute, though he eventually retracted his nightstick and began to pace up and down the line of competitors. “Today’s challenge is based off of popular first-person shooter videogames. You’re all goin’ to war. Armed with only a paintball gun, you’ll be sent into these woods here,” He pointed his nightstick at the forest behind him, “for a firefight. Your goal is to win the battle by ‘capturing’ all of the members of the other team. To capture somebody, you shoot them with a paintball.

“You can use any strategies you want to win, but there’s no playing dirty. You ain’t bein’ provided with pads or helmets, meaning all shots must be below the neck.” Chef marched to stand in front of Victor, making fierce eye contact with him. “That means that hits here,” Chef whacked Victor in the chest with his nightstick, “Here,” The actor yelped in pain as he was hit in the knees, “Or here,” Victor squeaked out a cry as Chef’s nightstick hit him in the groin, collapsing to the ground in agony, “are all fair shots. Anythin’ that hits the face will lead to immediate disqualification and probably a lawsuit.”

“I think I’m dying.” Victor moaned from where he was curled up in the grass, reaching a desperate hand out. “I’m coming for you, Great-Grandma Jean!”

“Stop your whinin’, Private Fruitcake!” Chef whacked Victor in the hand, making him shriek in anguish. “When you’re captured, you’ll come back here to the jail, where you will promptly have a mug shot taken and be locked in the cell. This set was from a Wild West movie, so this is a one-cell jailhouse and you’re all stuck together. If somebody has the balls to attempt an escape mission, then they can release up to four of their teammates, but they’ll be a movin’ target for anyone smart enough to camp by the edge of the woods. Trust me, though, once you’re in those woods, you ain’t comin’ out on your own terms. Last team standin’ wins-”

“I’m here!” Dressed in an army uniform, Chris hurried into the area, pulling a cart with a gun rack and a set of boxes tied onto it. He ripped open the boxes and stepped back from the cart. “Everybody grab a gun and a pack of paintballs while I explain the challenge.”

When the players obeyed his orders by rushing the gun rack, Chef stepped to Chris’s side. “Already done.”

“What?! Why?!”

“You took too long.”

The pretty boy stamped his foot. “Come on, Chef! That’s my job!”

The large man swung his nightstick out to hit Chris in the hip, the host squealing in pain. “That’s Colonel to you, maggot.”

When Chris recovered from the blow, the competitors had lined up with their guns and ammo. Some seemed comfortable and confident holding a weapon, while others were holding it at an arm’s length as if they feared it would bite them. Cara was quivering in fear even though she had dropped her gun on the ground several feet away, while beside her Avery was aiming her firearm in Allison’s direction.

“You’ll be given ten minutes of safe time to go out into the forest, where if you shoot for any reason, you’re automatically out. When you hear my trusty bullhorn,” Chris pulled the familiar device from where it was slung through his belt and held it up, “it’s time for war! You ten minutes start … now!”

The contestants quickly grouped up and sprinted into the woods, some packs breaking off into even smaller cliques once they reached the tree line. Only Isaac stayed behind, casually throwing his gun over his shoulder. When Chris gave him a scowl, the troublemaker pointed at the stack of boxes that were tied onto the cart. “You going to use these ropes?”

“You can have them, I guess.” Chris answered.

Isaac gathered an armful of ropes and headed into the woods. “Excellent.”

“Okay, team, I know you’re not very good at following orders, but here’s the plan.” The Emmys were caught up in their own conversations as they followed Sebastian through the woods. The gambler rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to try to get their attention, but Risty held up a finger.

“I’ve got this.” She cupped her hands around her mouth and bellowed, “HEEEEY!”

“Great job blowing our cover already. Now we’re going to get captured.” Victor retorted, though the shout had been successful in summoning him and the other Emmys.

“We have time, and Sebastian wants to talk.” Risty jerked a thumb at her broad-shouldered teammate. “Take it away, Bas.”

“Thank you, and don’t call me that.” Sebastian broke a branch off of a nearby tree and crouched down, drawing a diagram in the dirt. “Clearly, there’s only one way to approach this situation. We know that The Oscars really don’t get along with each other, so they most likely have broken into small groups of one to three people. We need to stay in two squads and surround these groups.” He grabbed a pebble and a leaf and placed them on opposite edges of the diagram before looking up at his teammates. “Squad One will be Risty, Elena, Wes, Moni-” He abruptly stopped his sentence and wildly looked around. “Where are Wes and Monique?”

“Oh, they’re long gone.” Victor said with a casual wave of his hand. “I’m pretty sure they left back when we passed that big rock.”

“That was five minutes ago!” Sebastian exclaimed.

“Like I said, long gone.”

The strategist sighed, looking back down at his diagram. “Okay, change of plans, Squad One is Risty, Elena, Minerva, and Ophelia. I’ll take Victor and Donna in Squad Two. Each group walks opposite sides of the perimeter, keeping an eye out for the smaller Oscar packs. If one of your squad-mates is hit, you avenge them with a passion, but that won’t happen if you stick to the plan. They can’t hit all of us if we circle them, and if we stay quiet they will never see us coming. We will bombard each group, and this challenge will be done within the hour. Everybody got it?”

Sebastian looked up to discover that only Risty, Minerva, and Elena remained standing around him.

“Um, I’m still not clear if I’m the rock or the leaf.” Minerva admitted. “Could you go over that again?”

“Where did they go?!” The card shark shouted.

“I’m pretty sure they left right after you went back to drawing your picture.” Elena explained.

“Ugh, I had it all planned out!” Sebastian threw his hands up in anger, scraping his foot to sweep away his diagram. “Now we’re going to lose! Why can’t they just listen?”

“Hey, you still have us.” Risty pointed out. “I liked your plan.”

“And I’ll stick with you if Risty does.” Minerva agreed.

“And I’ve just recruited you, Captain Sex-on-a-Stick, to be my personal protector.” Elena gave him a predatory grin.

Though Sebastian wasn’t quite satisfied by the outcome, he gave the three girls a nod. “I can work with this.” He pointed a finger Elena. “But it’s General Sex-on-a-Stick.”

Confession Cam

Sebastian: “I had it all figured out, but they all left and ruined my plan. Now look who I’m left with: a desperate skank who’s falsely convinced herself that she’s in control of this game, the big mouthed redhead who’s terrified to be within five feet of the skank, and Risty.” He shook his head in disappointment. “I’m going to try to work with this situation, but if we lose this challenge, nobody can say it’s my fault. I had a step-by-step strategy to win, but they left before they could hear it.”

Elena: “Sebastian still doesn’t know that I totally played his alliance at the last elimination. Getting rid of Gabe was the first step of my master plan, and getting control of Sebastian’s alliance was the second. And now, this challenge is working out perfectly. Since Victor and Monique ran away with their own groups and Donna’s not around to distract Sebastian, I can finally talk him into working with me. He’ll think I’m just reaching out for somebody now that Gabe’s gone, but I’ll really just have him falling right into the palm of my hand!”

“I’m really not comfortable with this challenge.”

“We’re in the same boat.” Irina made a face at her paintball gun. “I don’t even know how to work this thing.”

“I know, right?” Cara blew her bangs out of her face. “You’d think Chris would’ve at least told us how to turn off the safety.”

Irina furrowed her brow. “What exactly is a safety?”

Cara slumped her shoulders. “We’re doomed.”

Cara and Irina trudged through the forest, their guns dragging behind them and drawing a curvy line in the dirt. The two girls were undoubtedly the most nonviolent members of The Oscars, so shooting people was out of the question, even if they were only armed with paintballs. They both planned on running if they heard gunshots, aware that they were better at avoiding a messy situation than confronting it head-on.

“We should’ve partnered up with Allison or Isaac.” Irina suggested. “They seemed like they knew what they were doing, but we just ran off like chickens before we could even think to group up with them.”

“Well, they say hindsight’s always twenty-twenty.” Cara commented. “I honestly didn’t even see Isaac go into the woods.”

The model let out a dry laugh. “Probably because you were blinded with terror.”

“Huh. Maybe.” The tree hugger bit her lower lip. “With how weirdly he was acting this morning, I don’t even know if I’d trust him with a gun.”

“Afraid he’ll go on a rampage?”

“Yes, actually.”

“I’m sure he’s fine.” Irina pushed through a bush, holding the branches back to let Cara through behind her. “He’s always had trouble with anger management. You just need to give him a chance to flip out and then he’ll be good.”

“I don’t know.” The nature lover squeezed through the gap in the shrub much easier than the taller girl. “I just wanted to talk to him, but it seems like he’s avoiding me.”

“He probably has a lot on his mind. He doesn’t want to accidentally let all his anger out on you.”

“Well, I have a lot on my mind, too. I wanted to work everything out with him, talk about … you know, us, but I can’t even get a word in when he’s like this. He’s practically unresponsive when I talk to him, and today he said it ‘wasn’t something I needed to be involved with.’ What does that even me – oh, don’t touch that! Poison oak!”

Irina jumped back from the branch that she had just reached out to move aside. “Oh, thanks! I had no idea.” She went around the bush, her gun still dragging along behind her. “Believe it or not, everyone goes through romance trouble. It’s just a rough patch, but it’ll get better for you. You deserve it to get better.”

Cara gave her friend a soft grin. “You think so?”

“I know so.” The screech of a bullhorn pierced the air, and a flock of birds scattered above the two Oscars’ heads. “We should keep going into the woods. The deeper we are, the harder we’ll be to find.”

In another part of the forest, Angel, Allison, and Paul had settled into a dense thicket of shrubs as they waited for the echo of the signal horn to die off.

“It’s show time, boys.” Allison smirked, leaning back in her crouch. “Now we just wait for someone to come find us. We look like sitting ducks, and then right when they’re not expecting it – BAM! – we shoot!”

“Do you really think that will work?” The ever-doubtful Paul asked, his eyes uncertainly scanning their surroundings.

“We’ll be fine.” Angel agreed with Allison. “We’ve got the dream team here. You’re the wilderness master, Allison’s reckless and impulsive and will fire at any random sound, and I’m the common sense. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen?”

The trio went silent when they heard a twig snap nearby. Paul immediately lifted his paintball gun up, steadily aiming it in the direction of the noise. Angel and Allison had slower reaction times, though they too pointed their weapons at the concealed culprit. Eventually, a bush rustled and a chipmunk hopped out from it.

“Oh, thank god.” Allison let out a relieved sigh and lowered her gun. “We were scared of a little squirrel!”

“I’m pretty sure it’s a chipmunk, but that’s ever lamer.” Angel released a laugh. “And to think we were so worried about it being the Em – AGH!”

“ANGEL!” Allison and Paul could only watch as a paintball seemed to come out of nowhere and hit Angel in the side. The Puerto Rican teen looked around for his attacker, but leaves started crunching all around him to conceal the shooter’s location. His ears perked up when he heard somebody kick a rock on his right side.

“Over here!” He pointed for his teammates, and Allison and Paul shot a barrage of paintballs at the indicated spot. They paused to see if they had hit their target, but the forest quickly returned to its former stillness. Suddenly, a flurry of multicolored shots came out from behind a bush.

“Duck!” Paul pulled Allison to the ground, managing to just dodge the incoming attack. Angel huddled behind a tree to avoid being hit a second time, and, after another fleet of paintballs skimmed just past the daredevil and do-gooder, they scrambled to join him.

“Here, take these.” Angel took his bag of paintballs from his pocket and handed them to Allison. “You need to get out of here.”

“But what about you?” Paul asked.

“They don’t need to waste their time with me. I’m already out.” As if on cue, paintballs began pounding on the other side of the tree. “They’ll get you if you keep sitting around! Go while you have a chance!”

Allison and Paul darted away from him, heading in separate directions when another round of shots flew right between them. Back at the tree, Angel watched as Sebastian and Risty hopped out from a bush.

“Follow them!” Sebastian commanded, and he and Risty chased after their opponents. A few seconds later, Minerva skittered out of the hedge.

“Wait for meeeeeeee!”

Another minute passed before Elena stomped out of the bush. “You’re really gonna leave a soldier behind?! You’re supposed to be protecting me!”

Angel observed in confusion as the strange foursome retreated deeper into the woods. He took a long look at the red paint stain on his shirt before groaning in frustration and moving in what he thought was the direction of the jailhouse. With the massive expanse of trees to hide in, he hadn’t expected to run into anybody along the way, but, surely enough, he ran into Isaac … quite literally, since the pyromaniac tripped over the crouching slacker.

Angel narrowed his eyes in confusion at his roommate. “Dude, what’re you doing?”

“Shhh, don’t draw attention.” Isaac hushed without looking up from the ropes he was knotting together. “I don’t want anybody to find out about my secret plan.”

The fire starter raised a brow. “Your secret plan is making a noose?”

“It’s not a noose. It’s way better than that.” Isaac slung part of his rope over a nearby tree branch and tied it to a rock on the ground. He then stepped back to give Angel a full view of the contraption he had assembled. “I’m making traps!”

“ … Why do you know how to do this?”

“Why don’t you know how to do this?” The underachiever countered. “Seriously, man, making traps is an essential life skill. I’ll teach you some day.”

“Is this even allowed?”

“Does it matter?”

Angel took one more look at Isaac’s apparatus before shrugging. “Nah. Go for it.”

“Sucks that you got hit, by the way.” The troublemaker gestured to the paint blot on his friend’s shirt, gathering his remaining ropes. “It must feel pretty crappy to be the first one out.”

“Tell me about it.” The pyromaniac rolled his eyes. “At least I’ll have the comfort of a nice jail cell.”

“Yeah, until you get company.” Isaac smirked. “One-cell jailhouse, remember?”

“Don’t remind me.” Angel chuckled wryly. When his roommate escaped farther into the forest, he shouted after him, “Good luck not getting caught.”

“I don’t need luck. I have my traps!”

“Stupid mud, stupid trees, stupid leaves, stupid nature!”

Avery chanted this mantra as she slogged through the forest, proving with every recitation that she was definitely not an outdoorswoman. She and nature had never quite cooperated, and she had managed to get her heels stuck in random holes at least twelve times in the past five minutes. Something in these woods made her nose itch and her hair get frizzy, so Avery’s hatred for nature only grew with every step.

“I swear, Chris comes up with these challenge just to tick me off.” She awkwardly adjusted her weapon beneath her arm. “What kind of self-respecting woman plays paintball? Definitely not this one.”

Despite her annoyance, Avery trekked on through the woods, unaware that she was walking straight into a trap. The drama queen’s monologue had attracted the attention of Sebastian, Risty and a finally caught up Minerva while they were pursuing Allison. Preferring to go for the easier target, they each crouched behind a different cluster of branches, ready to take Avery out when she crossed their paths.

“Right after this challenge, I’m going right back to my room and taking a bubble bath. I don’t care if Allison needs the bathroom, I don’t even know where I’ll get the bubbles, but I just need to exfoliate. This fresh air is killing me!” Avery curled her upper lip as she unwittingly stepped into the firing zone. The Emmys waited for her to take a few more paces before pulling the trigger, as she was inches away from a perfect bull’s eye.

“HOW DARE YOU LEAVE ME BEHIND?!” Their cover was blown by Elena bursting through the bushes and pointing an accusatory finger at Sebastian’s squad. “Which one of you assholes decided to ditch me?! I trusted you to protect me, General Sex-on-a-Stick, and this is what I get?! What if I’d gotten lost?! What if I stepped in a bear pie?! I stayed loyal to you and stuck with your stupid plan, but this is how you treat me?!”

“She's getting away!” Risty yelled. At the sound of Elena’s voice, Avery had hopped a shrub and fled the scene. The athlete began to chase after her, shooting several paintballs as she ran, but Avery slipped in a mud puddle and fell to the ground right before they could hit her. She rolled off to the side and hid under a bush, and Risty ran right past her, unaware that she had taken cover.

“Ugh.” Avery scraped the mud from her top, flinging it to the ground. “Here’s another outfit ruined.”

Sebastian’s squadron had stopped chasing Allison long ago, but she failed to notice that she could stop running until she paused to catch her breath. She was on her toes as she took a glance around, ready for somebody to pounce out at her at any minute. She had planned to stick out this challenge with Angel and Paul, but Sebastian and Risty had caught her completely off of her guard and destroyed her idea. She was now alone and had no idea just how far she had sprinted into the woods, and an enemy could be lurking around any tree. Once her heart rate had finally lowered to a normal rate, the adrenaline junkie continued on through the woods, stopping instantly when she heard voices.

“I used to play paintball with some friends when I lived in Florida. It’s kind of fun if you can stand the bruises and welts.”

“Bruising is not my style. We don’t exactly do paintball in the city … or at least I don’t.”

Allison slowly crept towards the noise, once again ungrateful for her clunky boots.

“I think we’re pretty safe here. We haven’t run into any of our own teammates, let alone any of The Oscars.”

“I’m sure we’ll run into Colonel Ass-Hat and his crew eventually. I have no clue why Risty and Minerva decided to stay with him.”

“Well, they’re probably not coming around for a while, so maybe I could take a power nap? Just a few minutes against this tree, that’s all.”

Allison ducked into a shrub, peering through the leaves to see Wes and Monique sitting in a clearing. Wes was slumped back against a tree, his gun in his lap, while Monique was perched atop a stump with her weapon on the ground.

“Victor and Donna were planning on leaving too, so they probably took Ophelia with them … but I bet Sebastian has Elena with him.” Wes snickered. “She’s alone without Gabe, so I’m sure she’s clingier than ever. That jerk is the perfect person to have to deal with her.”

“Ugh, don’t even mention Princess Harks.” Monique shuddered. “I’m hoping she falls in a gopher hole or something.”

“Maybe she’ll get stuck in quicksand.” The musician enthusiastically pitched in.

The trendsetter arched an eyebrow. “Have you ever seen quicksand in real life?”

“Well, um, no.” Wes bit the inside of his cheek. “With how often it comes up in cartoons, you’d think it’d be a major problem.”

That was when Allison took her shot. She had been aiming for Wes’s chest, though the lanky guitarist had moved aside at the last moment, causing it to skim past his arm and hit the tree behind him. The two Emmys hopped to their feet as Allison rapidly fired more paint. Wes and Monique zipped through the trees, but the punk was right on their tails.

“Wait, my gun!” Realizing that she had left her weapon on the ground, Monique made a U-turn, though Wes didn’t notice and sprinted on. The fashionista attempted to take cover behind a tree, but Allison was too quick and hit her in the thigh with a paintball. The designer yelped at the close shot. “Hey, that hurt!”

“Nobody said it wouldn’t.” Allison shrugged.

Monique glared. “If this leaves a bruise, you’ll never hear the end of it!”

“Just be glad it won’t show up in your mug shot.” The thrill seeker shot her a cocky grin before jogging in the direction that Wes had disappeared. Monique just rolled her eyes.

“‘At least it won’t show up in your mug shot,’” She mocked in a whiny voice. “She’d better hope her face doesn’t show up in her mug shot if I can get a piece of her.”

“Isn’t this kind of wrong?”

“Think of The Oscars as monsters that we need to eliminate.” Victor said.

Ophelia frowned. “But not all monsters are bad. They might just be misunderstood. We’re conditioned from an early age to think that ugliness correlates with evilness.”

“These are monsters that we know are bad.” Donna amended. “They’re demons who’ve escaped from Hell to claim innocent souls. We’re just hunting them down to save the people that they’re after.”

The pale-haired girl digested the statement for a minute, but eventually nodded. “I can accept that.”

In their exploration of the forest, the trio had managed to stumble upon a pair of long lines in the dirt that wound through the trees. When they realized that the mark was about the width of the barrel of a paintball gun, they chose to follow it to what would hopefully be two unsuspecting Oscars. They all knew that they weren’t stealthy enough to catch somebody off guard, but this breadcrumb trail seemed to be Lady Luck’s message that she was on their side.

“How many people do you think are already stuffed into that jail cell?” Victor pondered.

“I hope all of our friends are in there.” Ophelia whimpered.

The actor furrowed his eyebrows. “Don’t you want our teammates to still be in?”

The oddball shook her head in denial. “I have a bad feeling about this challenge.”

“It’ll be okay, Ophelia. These aren’t real guns.” Donna lifted her own weapon as if to prove it. “What damage can be done other than a sore spot in the morning?”

“Danger is always lurking around the corner on this show.” Ophelia’s voice quickly faded off when she saw that the trails ended up ahead. The three Emmys scanned the area for the creators of the path, and Victor pointed to a flash of golden hair and the outline of a tall, slender figure behind a scant shrub.

“We’ve got Irina.” The actor whispered. “Either of you want to take the first shot?”

“I’ll try.” Donna raised her gun and closed one eye, aiming for the blonde. She fired six paintballs in a row in the model’s direction, excitedly pushing through the bush at the sound of Irina’s yelp. “Oh, no way.”

Irina stood completely clean in the clearing, a circle of paintballs around her. Donna had missed every shot. At the sight of the smart aleck, the bombshell hurried in the opposite direction. “CARAAAA!”

The trio chased her down, Victor leading the pack and firing a series of paintballs at her. Cara popped out from behind a shrub and intercepted the path between Irina and the shots, taking several blows to the side. Irina turned around and gaped at the environmentalist.

“Cara!” She squeaked. “Sorry, I didn’t know you were back there!”

Victor aimed to fire at the model again, only to have his target obstructed when Ophelia ran into his line of sight. “I’m so sorry, he didn’t mean it, we really didn’t want to hurt you!” After crouching down to examine her opponent’s injuries, the artist attacked Cara with a bear hug. “Are you okay? You’re not hurt, are you? Is there anything I can do? I’m really sorry, and he’s really sorry, and Donna’s really sorry!”

“I’m fine, thank you.” Cara awkwardly pried herself away from Ophelia. “You just caught me off-guard, that’s all.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful news! I really didn’t want you to be in pain because of us.” Ophelia turned back towards her friends. “Now we can get Irina.”

“You’re a few minutes too late.” Donna said. “She escaped while you were apologizing.”

“Oh.” The blonde uncomfortably looked anywhere but at her teammates. “Oops.”

“Mooooonique? Mooooniiiiique!”

Wes wandered through the forest in search of his lost teammate, unaware that Allison had eliminated her when he had made his escape. There was safety in numbers, and, despite how tiny his walking partner was, he would feel much safer about his standing in the challenge if he could just find her.

“Monique? Come on, I know you were following me before!” As he journeyed through the woods, he failed to notice the landscape around him changing, the shrubs being replaced by tall, thick trees with snaking limbs. “Allison’s not that fast, so she couldn’t have gotten you already!”

Distracted by his hunt for his teammate, the musician didn’t spot the ropes wrapped around the trees surrounding him. He only noticed that he had stepped into a snare when a loop tightened around his ankle. In a series of intricate snaps and winding, one of Isaac’s traps came to life and yanked the gangly guitarist off of his feet. He was pulled into the air and flipped around by a set of well-tied ropes, hitting his head on the branches as he was thrown side to side. When the trap was finally done moving, Wes found himself dangling upside down from one of the strongest, tallest trees in the area. He tried to reach the rope that was twisted around his ankle, but his long arms could barely reach and there must have been a dozen knots in it. He dropped his arms to his sides, gravity pulling them downward to hang beside his head.

While most people faced the debacle of fight or flight, Wes’s first instinct in this situation was to cup his hands around his mouth and scream, “HEEEEEELLLPPPP!!!”

“Ooh, looks like Wes has got himself in a sticky situation, huh?” The camera switched over to Chris, who was sitting on the steps of the jailhouse. “Will Sebastian manage to show up his sucky teammates and win this challenge? Will Elena stop blowing her group’s cover? Will Isaac’s traps pay off, or will somebody come to save Wes before all of his blood rushes to his head?” The host chuckled. “I’m really hoping it’ll be the first option when we return on TDI: For Your Entertainment!”

Chapter Fourteen: Misfire

Updated: August 1, 2014

“Okay, Avery, just stay calm. They can’t trick you twice.”

Avery ambled slowly through the woods, her paintball gun raised and her finger resting on the trigger. Sebastian and his troop had already surprised her once, and there was no way that she would let them get the jump on her once again. She may have made up for one major mistake, but her team was still ready to vote her off at any moment. If she were eliminated early from the war, she might as well be ready to write a farewell note, as that small blunder would be enough for her team to send her packing. She had to prove herself in every challenge, which currently meant shooting before she could think, as one wasted second could be the difference between safety and elimination.

“You are strong. You are powerful. You are hot. You can beat them all.” The drama queen encouraged herself aloud, though she immediately regretted not controlling the volume of her voice when she heard the crunch of leaves to her left. She fumbled with her gun before whipping her body around to target the area in which the sound had originated. “Come out with your hands up, whoever you are! I’ll shoot if I have to!” When nobody answered, Avery took another step closer. “I’m not kidding around! This thing’s loaded, and my finger’s twitching on the trigger!”

A familiar contagious laugh rang out in response, and Allison stepped out from behind a tree. “You really think you can stop somebody from shooting you by yelling at them?”

The drama queen glared at the punk, refusing to break from her ready position. “It wasn’t yelling, it was threatening. I find it very intimidating.”

“Newsflash: it’s not.” The daredevil gestured to the diva’s drawn weapon. “You can put the gun away, you know. We’re on the same team, remember?”

“Oh, if only we weren’t.” With one last cautious look around, Avery lowered her paintball gun, though the scowl remained on her face. “Do you know how many people are out?”

Angel was shot right after the signal, and then I got Monique.” The daredevil recapped. “Other than them, I have no idea who could be lurking in these woods.”

“I was just chased down by Sebastian. He and a few of the Emmy girls are playing dirty. They’re sneaking around and ambushing people.”

“Oh, I know. They eliminated Angel, and they just missed catching me and Paul. They’re really sticking to the ‘safety in numbers’ tactic.”

“As far as I can tell, it’s working.” Avery glanced down at the dirt streaked across her clothing. “I’m starting to think they have the right idea. I’ve been out here alone this whole time, and all I’ve gotten is a ruined outfit.”

The crimson-haired girl raised a brow. “Are you suggesting that we work together?”

“You said it, not me.” Avery turned sharply on her heel, stumbling over a hole in the dirt as she walked away. “I wouldn’t protest if you chose to follow me, but I won’t refrain from using you as a human shield if the opportunity comes.”

Allison snickered and followed her teammate, casually leaning the barrel of her gun on her shoulder. “I’d want nothing more than to see you get smothered in paintballs.”

“I’d say I hope you’re shot in the head, but the paint could only improve that cake-face of yours."

“This is kind of the pot calling the kettle black, don’t you think?” The thrill seeker retorted. “Unless you’re willing to show us what you really look like under all your makeup?”

“Sorry, not going to happen. Cameras make me look awful in natural lighting.” The diva smirked. “While we’re on the topic of makeup, I think you need to be introduced to a little trick called highlighting and contouring …”

Irina panted as she rushed through the forest, frantically ducking under low-hanging branches and vaulting over fallen trees. She held her paintball gun tightly against her chest as she quickly peeked over her shoulder to check just how much distance she had on her pursuers. In the distance, three figures were swiftly approaching, driving her to sprint even faster through the foliage. When the model turned to look forwards again, she crashed into somebody who had stepped into her path. Her arms flailed outwards and her gun clattered to the ground as she lost her balance, though a pair of arms wrapped around her shoulders before she could fall to the dirt.

“Irina? Are you okay? You don’t need to run, it’s just me.”

The blonde pushed her hair away from her eyes to see Paul staring at her with wide green eyes. When they made eye contact, he immediately removed his hands from her and took a few large steps backward. Remembering that her trackers were rapidly approaching, Irina snatched her gun from the ground. “I’m fine, but we need to get out of here. They’re coming.”

“Who’s coming?”

Victor, Ophelia, and Donna. I know they’re not scary, but they outnumber us and they’ve already gotten Cara, so we have to go.” Irina grabbed Paul by the wrist and started to run.

“Look out!” Before the bombshell could set off, the Boy Scout pulled her back towards him. He wrapped his arms around her and yanked her to the ground just as a storm of paintballs passed overhead. Irina lifted her face from the grass to find Victor, Ophelia, and Donna standing only feet away, their weapons pointed straight at her.

“Sorry.” Ophelia whimpered as she pulled the trigger.

Irina was left frozen with fear as another swarm of paintballs rocketed towards her; Paul, however, had the exact opposite reaction. He picked his gun off of the ground and held it sideways in front of him, rapidly moving it from location to location to block the incoming paintballs. In a smooth motion, he flipped the gun around and shot at Victor and Ophelia, hitting them both with two clean shots to the chest. Donna immediately dropped her gun and held her hands up in surrender, gaping at the scene before her as Paul held her teammates at gunpoint.

“What are you waiting for?” He asked. “Start heading towards the jail.” The actor and artist hurriedly apologized to Donna before disappearing into the trees, leaving her behind as a prisoner of war. Paul stood up and used one hand to keep his paintball gun trained on the smart aleck, extending the other towards Irina. “Need a hand?”

The model’s jaw fell open in shock. “You … you saved me!”

“I guess so.” Paul shrugged.

Her amazed expression didn’t falter. “How did you do that?”

“What can I say? I’m a good shot.”

“That is the understatement of the year, Rambo.” Irina picked up her gun and took his hand, and he pulled her to her feet. Donna watched silently as the bombshell brushed the leaves from her legs, fully aware of the firearm pointed at her. Once Irina seemed to be situated, Paul surprised the other two players by lowering his gun. He picked Donna’s gun off of the ground and handed it over to her, the brunette accepting the odd gift with a dumbfounded expression on her face.

“You’re welcome.” Paul said when Donna seemed to be at a loss for words. “I’ll give you a ten second head start before I shoot.”

“Ten might be a little generous.” Irina objected. “She did try to shoot me several times.”

“None of my shots were even close to you.” Donna defended. “I probably couldn’t even hit you if I pulled the trigger from this close. My aim is atrocious.”

“That’s why I didn’t shoot you immediately. Well, actually, your shots were so far off that I thought you were just pretending to shoot us so Victor wouldn’t flip out … I was wrong, but you’re still here and you now only have a five second head start.” The smart mouth began to protest, but Paul jerked his gun towards her. “Starting now.”

Donna bolted into the forest faster than a frightened rabbit, running quicker than she ever had before. After the designated five seconds, Paul fired several paintballs at her. When the perfect shots were only inches from her back, the panicked smart aleck caught her foot on a root and fell to the ground, the paintballs whizzing over her. She had unintentionally saved herself from Paul, though she found herself in a whole new world of trouble as she tumbled down a steep hill. Paul and Irina watched in horror as the brunette hit a stump, bouncing off of it only to ricochet off of a rock and then roll through a thorny shrub. Like a human game of pinball, Donna bumped into each and every obstacle in her path before landing in a thick bush at the bottom of the slope.

“Do you think she’s alright?” Paul asked.

At the end of the hill, Donna sat up inside of the bush. Her hair was a mess and she had leaves and branches stuck in her clothing, but other than that she seemed only frazzled instead of hurt by the fall.

Irina watched as Donna shook her hair out. “I think she’ll be fine … that is, if you’re kind enough to let her go.”

“Of course I'll let her go!” Paul exclaimed. “I just don’t want it to be my fault if she was hurt.”

“I think she’s as good as new.” The model had to hold back a snigger when she saw Donna pull a clump of dirt from her shirt. Eager to change the tense subject, Irina stepped away from the hill. “Thank you so much for saving me.”

The do-gooder gave her a sheepish grin. “You don’t need to thank me! I’d save you from danger a thousand more times if I had to. Heck, if I’d have known that you’d be out in the woods alone, I would’ve volunteered to protect you through the whole challenge.”

Irina’s smile grew. “Well, if I want to make it through this challenge alive, I could really use a bodyguard.”

The Boy Scout excitedly gestured to himself. “I think you’ve found the man for the job!”

The pair of Oscars left the hill with high spirits, though the same could not be said about the scene at the bottom of the slope. Donna groaned as she pulled a long, twisted branch from her sleeve and threw it over her shoulder. She slowly moved each of her limbs to detangle them from the tree, listening closely for one of her joints to snap.

“At least nothing’s broken.” She assured herself, though when she searched for her weapon she realized that she’d spoken too soon. Her gun had been wrecked in the fall and was lying around her in three separate pieces, her paintballs splattered in a perfect path up the hill. With one last ounce of hope, the wisecracker attempted to piece two of the gun fragments back together. They separated the second she retracted her hand, causing her to scream in frustration.

“Hello?! Is there somebody out there?!”

Donna jumped at the voice that suddenly drifted between the trees.

“Helloooo?! I just heard you screaming, so I know you’re there if you’re hiding! Please, I’m not trying to shoot you, I just need help!”

The voice was familiar, though Donna was too rattled to be able to place who it was. Donna crawled out of the bush and headed in the direction of the distressed howls.

“Please don’t leave! I’m trapped here, and I just need someone to help me out!”

Donna eventually entered an area where the thick bushes were joined by well-sized trees, their branches forming a lush canopy over her head. In the middle of the path, Wes dangled upside down from one of the trees, helplessly swaying back and forth. When he saw the pessimist in front of him, his terrified expression changed to embarrassment.

“Oh, um, hey there.” He gave her a grin, though it couldn’t hide the shame that was practically radiating from him.

“Hello yourself.” Donna stared unsurely at the rope that was wrapped around Wes’s ankle, binding him to the tree. “I don’t quite understand what’s going on here.”

The songbird let out a huff, buzzing his lips. “Join the club.”

“How did this even …?”

“I have no idea. I was walking when all of a sudden-” He made an exaggerated hand gesture, accompanied by a whooshing sound effect. “-I get pulled into the air and am stuck hanging from this tree like an apple just begging to get picked.”

“But you haven’t been picked off yet.” The smart mouth pointed out.

“You’re the first person to wander through here … wherever here is.” Wes pointed up towards the branch he was suspended from. “Do you think you can get me down?”

Donna walked over to the tree trunk and wrapped her arms around it, clawing into the bark in an attempt to get a grip. When her hands slipped free, she tried a second plan of attack and jumped for the lowest hanging branch, though she was nowhere near touching it. “Unless I get a few feet taller or learn to fly, I don’t think this is happening.”

The musician sighed, his long limbs swaying back and forth. “That figures.”

The sharp-tongued girl surveyed the surrounding area, searching for any way that she could rescue her teammate. “Hey, where’s your gun?”

“I literally have no idea. Maybe a squirrel stole it or something. Where’s yours?”

The petite pessimist plopped herself down in defeat at the base of Wes’s tree. “In three pieces at the bottom of a hill.”

“You’re still in one piece, right?”

“All my limbs have been accounted for.”

“You know, staying here is practically a death wish.” The gangly guitarist advised. “Whoever set this trap will be back eventually, and there’s no need for both of us to get eliminated because I was stupid.”

“Walking into a gunfight without a weapon won’t exactly do me much good either.” Donna attempted to get comfortable on the ground, leaning back against the tree trunk so she could look up at Wes. “Besides, I think you could use some company.”

“You know, Sebastian just brought you along with us as bait.”

Minerva glared. “That’s not true.”

Elena smirked. “How do you know?”

The socialite and loudmouth were still tagging along with Sebastian and Risty, but as the challenge went on it became more obvious that, while the gambler and athlete were the perfect assassins as they slipped through the forest, Elena and Minerva combined were more like a bull running through a china shop … if the bull had air horns strapped to his feet and a dozen bells around his neck, that is. Sebastian had instructed the two girls to ‘cover his back,’ which was a polite way of forcing them to keep a following distance of at least twenty feet.

“This wasn’t some trick, I chose to go with you guys.” Minerva clarified. “I could’ve left with Monique and Wes, but I didn’t. If you ask me, Sebastian seemed like he appreciated that I liked his plan and chose to stay.”

“Did he appreciate that you stayed with us, or was he just happy that you fell right into your place in the grand scheme of things?” Elena countered. “We all have our roles in Sebastian’s game … your role just happens to be as a disposable shield to protect the important players.”

“If that’s true, then I think you’re around for the same reason.”

The hotel heiress laughed. “Oh, you surprise me with just how stupid you are, Minerva Muff Diver.”

“What? It’s true.”

“He thinks he’s got me trapped under his finger, but I’m the one who’s in control.” Elena bragged. “I’m just pretending that I’m going along with his plans, and he has no idea that I have a step up on his alliance.”

Minerva furrowed her brow. “What’re you talking about?”

“Oh, he has an alliance with Monique and Vic -”

“No, I know about that.”

Elena blinked with confusion. “How do you know?”

The motor mouth rolled her eyes. “Duh, it’s so obvious. I thought everybody knew about their ‘secret’ alliance. I just don’t get why you think you have some special advantage.”

“I guess the idiot act that I had you play wasn’t too far off, huh?” When the chatterbox looked away at the mention of her gullibility, Elena’s sinister smile grew. “If you haven’t noticed, Sebastian’s pulling the strings around here, and he has Monique and the ham to help him get what he wants. It doesn’t matter how impossible the thing is – he will find a way to do it.”

“You act like he’s a god.” Minerva sneered.

“In this competition, he pretty much is. He’s the only one who has a strategy, and we’re just dangling puppets waiting for somebody to make us dance.” The dark-skinned girl examined her nails, a smug look on her face. “I’ve done something that has given me more power than Sebastian even knows. I’m already above his stupid alliance, so he’d better look out. There’s a new goddess in town.”

The quirky redhead narrowed her eyes at her enemy. “What would you even do if you were the one ‘pulling the strings?’”

“Well, first I’d vote off any useless dykes who have no place on this show – oh, wait, that’s you.”

Minerva’s jaw dropped. “You don’t have to be so-”

“I’m not done yet!” Elena snapped. “After I got the clit licker out of here, I’d get rid of her friends next. I think I’ll start with the hairball and then get Sebastian to ditch the itty bitty bitch, and then – oh, wait, there isn’t a then! They’re you’re only two friends!”

“At least I have-”

“Huh, do you like black girls, Red, or were Risty and Monique the only two people who could stand you?”

Minerva’s face held the expression of a person’s whose spirit had just been stomped on. After reaching for a response, opening and closing her mouth several times, all she could squeak out was, “You wouldn’t really hurt them just because you don’t like me, would you?”

Elena snorted. “Of course I would! In fact, I’ve already done with. Notice that as soon as you and Gabe became buddies-” The socialite snapped her fingers. “- Poof! He’s gone, because I sent his ass home!”

“How are you such a – a-”

“A what? Where were you going with that?” Minerva sputtered for words, and Elena scoffed. “Go ahead, say it, scissor sister!”

“A bitch!” The blabbermouth shrieked, causing Risty to look over her shoulder from twenty feet ahead. “A heartless bitch!”

The rich girl laughed, first lightly under her breath but then increasing to full volume. “You know how I can be such a heartless bitch? Because I hate you. I get more and more disgusted with every day you’re still on the show. The people watching this show don’t want to see losers like you, they want to see me. You’re just a worthless piece of sh-”

“Hey, guys, what’s up?” Risty slid in between her teammates, holding her arms out to keep them apart. “Here’s an idea: why don’t you,” She pointed at Elena, “go up with Sebastian, and I’ll stay back here?”

The socialite smirked. “That’s the best idea I’ve heard all day.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder and left in a huff.

Even though she was safe, Minerva was still breathing rapidly, her eyes wide. Risty put a hand on her shoulder. “Hey, you’ve got to be calm. Just slow down – in through your nose, out through your mouth.”

The redhead took a few deep breaths, clutching a hand to her chest as if to slow her beating heart. Once she had soothed herself, she looked up at Risty. “Thank you so much.”

“Nothing she says matters, Minerva.” The jock said. “You just can’t let her get to you.”

“I – I’ll try.”

Confession Cam

Minerva: She sighed. “Sometimes trying isn’t good enough …” She pressed her hands to her temples before slamming her palms into the bench. “I’m tired of this!”

At the front of the squad, Sebastian was still locked into his military mindset, his gun in the ready position as he scanned the forest for enemies. Elena slinked up beside him and tapped him on the shoulder, promptly receiving a gun barrel pressed to her collarbone. A split second before shooting, he looked up to realize who exactly his target was and lowered his weapon.

“Aw, you don’t have the heart to shoot little old me?” Elena teased.

“Didn’t I send you to the back?” He snapped.

“Yes, you did.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Risty wanted to trade places.” She gave him her best paparazzi-ready smile, but Sebastian just continued on into the woods. Elena dashed after him, sauntering up to his side. “Aw, come on, you and Risty are best pals. She probably thought sending me up here would be good for you.”

“I’m starting to question Risty’s judgment.” The card shark grumbled.

“Well, I’m not, because she just did us a good deed. After all, when we had the sailing challenge you told me to talk to you when I’d done something useful.”


Elena held her arms out to showcase herself. “The time has come. I’m here to suggest something useful.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. “Let me guess: you’re starting another alliance.”

“Sort of.” The socialite pressed herself against his arm as they walked, getting much too close for comfort. “See, I’m all alone, and you seem to be less than happy with the all-star lineup that you’re stuck with. Yes, you have the power you want, but you’re also giving some power to Monique and Victor, who don’t deserve it. Those underlings are gonna have to go sometime, and when the time comes, you need to be ready.”

The strategist raised a brow. “And you think that you’ll still be around when that happens?”

“Of course I will ... because you are not going to able to deny this proposition.”

“Can I deny it in advance?”

“Just hear me out.” Elena held up her hands in surrender. “You can keep your alliance with Victor and Monique – make them trust you, keep playing them, whatever … but on the side, you’ll be with me.”

Sebastian narrowed his eyes. “You have yet to give me even one reason why I would want to ever work with you.”

“If you knew what I have up my sleeve, you’d be convinced. I can’t reveal the details, but it’s something that puts me in a very good position.” Elena claimed. “But I’m willing to give that up. You can call the shots, I just want a say every once in a while. It’ll be nothing like the mess I had with Gabe.” She practically curled herself around his arm, looking up at him through her eyelashes. “Plus, wouldn’t you rather work with me than the bite-sized bitch and the drama queen?”

Sebastian didn’t wave her off, but he didn’t look her in the eye either. “We’ll see.”

“So, what was up with Isaac this morning?”

“Am I his keeper?”

“ … Kind of, yeah.”

Avery gave Allison a dirty look. “I don’t know.”

“You could’ve fooled me at breakfast will all your,” The daredevil put on a breathy purr, “‘Oh, I wonder what could be wrong?’”

“Haven’t you ever heard of antagonizing someone?” The drama queen pouted her lips and narrowed her eyes at her roommate, though when she turned her head away her fierce expression shifted to something unsure.

Allison just gave her a smug grin. “So did you guys smash?”

“No!” Avery screeched. “Why would you even suggest that?!”

“I don’t know, I just assumed you had, like, a Duncan and Courtney thing going on.”

“Well, you assumed wrong.”

“ … Did you want to smash?”


“Sorry, sorry, somebody needed to ask it.” Allison laughed. “We’re all just afraid that one day your sexual tension volcano will erupt.”

“You have nothing to worry about.” Avery insisted, though she still refused to make eye contact with her teammate. When the punk noticed this, her joking expression instantly softened.

“Hey, um, if you guys did happen to do the doink-”


“Bump uglies?”


“Horizontal bop?”

“You’re pushing it.”

“Get it on?”

A pause. “I can tolerate that one.”

“Okay, if you guys did get it on, I don’t think the rest of us would really judge.” The thrill seeker stated. “You two work well together in some weird yin-yang way. You whip him into shape, and he keeps your focus away from taking control of the team.”

“I can promise you, there was no ‘getting it on’ happening in our downtime.” Avery swore. Allison assumed that that meant the conversation was over, but a minute later she heard the olive-skinned girl mutter under her breath, “He has Cara.”

The adrenaline junkie watched in fascination as Avery fidgeted with her paintball gun a little, failing to hide the troubled expression on her beautiful face. “I’ll tell you a little secret.” The scarlet-haired girl scanned the area for onlookers before lowering her voice. “I’m not all that fond of Cara either.”

Before Avery could react, the sound of laughter erupted from within the trees. Both Oscars tightened their grips on their guns and moved so that they were back to back, giving them a full view of the surrounding area. Soon there was another laugh, followed by a voice shouting, “MINERVA!”

“Oh, no way.” Allison looked back to shoot Avery a smirk.

“They’re just asking for payback for trying to shoot me.” The Jersey girl said with a sneer.

“Hey, same here.” The daredevil raised her gun. “Let’s get ‘em.”

Rather than be concerned with stealth, Allison bolted in the direction of the voices. Avery shook her head in disappointment before chasing after her, desperately trying not to destroy her heels as she kicked them through the dirt. The girls leapt through the trees and barraged the quartet of Emmys with paintballs. Sebastian and Risty were quick enough to evade the shots, but Elena and Minerva were absolutely pummeled by them. The socialite and loudmouth let out screams of terror, and Avery and Allison high-fived in victory … that was, however, until Risty and Sebastian recovered from the sneak attack and shot at them. Their temporary friendship was immediately chucked out the window when Avery pushed Allison towards the gunfire, ducking behind her.

“Every girl for herself!” The diva screeched, covering her hair as paintballs pounded into Allison’s chest. Allison rolled her eyes at her roommate’s cowardice and took a step to the side, exposing Avery. Sebastian shot one paintball at her back, and the drama queen released a sorrowful wail.

“Who’s left?” Risty asked Sebastian.

“Depends.” The gambler turned to Allison, who was watching with amusement as Avery pretended to faint from the pain. “How many people have you guys eliminated?”

“Just Monique and these two.” Allison replied, pointing to Elena and Minerva. “As far as I know, Avery’s hit nobody.”

“I think I see the light!” The Jersey girl reached her hand into the air. “It’s so warm!"

“That means that Victor, Wes, Ophelia, and Donna could still be out there from our side.” Risty counted, completely ignoring Avery.

“Or it could just be the two of you.” Allison shrugged. “We haven’t seen anybody, not even our own teammates.”

“I’m coming closer!” Avery yowled as she scraped herself across the dirt. “You can take me now and spare me from this pain!”

“I can’t sit through another minute of this crap, so can we go now?” Elena asked, her arms crossed over her chest.

“Jesus, if you’re there, please give me a clean shirt in the afterlife!” Avery moaned.

Sebastian waved the eliminated players off. “I never needed you in the first place, so go ahead. Just please take her with you.”

Minerva stuck her tongue out at the hotel heiress. “Told you he didn’t want you here.” When Elena raised a hand as if to pull her hair, the blabbermouth yelped and scurried in what she thought was the direction of the jail. Allison grabbed Avery by the back of the shirt and disappeared into a different part of the woods, dragging the drama queen in the dirt behind her.

Confession Cam

Risty: “So we have no idea who it’s down to. It could be just Sebastian and I against four Oscars, it could be six of us against one Oscar. The possibilities are endless, which is what makes this so fun.” She smiled. “I’m a jock, I can’t help but be competitive. All I know is that however many Oscars are left out there, they’re all going down.”

“Special delivery!” Allison pushed open the door to the jailhouse, dropping Avery in the doorway.

“Aw, dang it!” Cara snapped her fingers in disappointment. “I was sure you’d win it for us.”

“Guess this wasn’t my challenge.” The daredevil shrugged. “I’ll get the next one.”

In the doorway, Avery let out a wail and began to reach towards “the light,” though she immediately stopped when a massive shadow loomed over her. Chef Hatchet stared down at her, hitting his nightstick on his palm.

“Is that whinin’ I hear, Prisoner Dellcourte?”

“Nope, no whining.” The drama queen leapt to her feet. “Oh look, my excruciating pain has faded!”

“Just get in the cell.” Chef pointed his nightstick towards the single cell in the room. The confined area was about the size of a parking space, with a single metal bench on one side and a small window looking out on the woods on the other. Monique and Cara were planted on the bench, the trendsetter with a single paint blot on her leg, though the environmentalist’s entire right side was coated with paint. Angel and Victor sat on the floor with grumpy expressions on their faces, while Ophelia had taken a permanent position in front of the window, keeping watch in case somebody dared to attempt to liberate the jailbirds.

“Have you guys been here a while?” Allison questioned, plopping on the ground beside Angel.

“No. Yes. Maybe.” The fire starter thumped his head back on the bars. “I have no idea. It feels like I’ve been locked up for years.”

“Haven’t attempted a jailbreak yet?”

“Victor tried to use his belt buckle as a shovel to dig a hole a couple hours ago.” Angel knocked his knuckles on the hard floor beneath him. “He’s now learned that concrete is very, very solid.”

“This free bird was not meant to be caged!” The actor proclaimed from where he was slouched in the opposite corner.

Angel began to thump the back of his head into the bars repeatedly. “I really need to get out of here.”

“I hope my cell has memory foam because my back is killing me!” Elena stepped into the doorway, followed shortly by Minerva.

The pyromaniac only began to thump his head harder. “I think I’m in Hell.”

“I’m here with you, man.” Allison patted him on the shoulder.

Elena and Minerva headed into the cell, and Chef Hatchet slammed the door behind them, snapping a giant padlock onto it.

“Move over, hippie chick.” Elena casually bumped Cara to the side, forcing her to slide off the side of the bench and land on the concrete floor.

“Hey, I was sitting there!” The nature lover protested.

“You can take my seat.” Monique got up to stand on the other side of the cell. “I’d prefer not to be within a few feet of her.”

“What happened to you anyway?” Elena gestured to Cara’s single paint-splattered side. “What kind of idiot only aims for one side of your body?”

“Yo.” Victor raised his hand to claim credit.

“Oh. That kind of idiot.” The hotel heiress leaned her elbows on her knees. “Is the challenge almost over? This is like all of us, right?”

“We’re still missing Isaac, Irina, and Paul.” Cara said.

“And we don’t have Sebastian, Risty, Wes, or Donna.” Monique recapped.

“They just better speed this thing up.” Elena began tapping her heel on the floor beneath her. “I have paint in my hair, and the longer it sits the harder it’ll be to get off.”

“Oh my gosh!” Ophelia cried from her spot at the window.

“Is it a savior?” Angel practically begged.

“No, it’s better!” Ophelia stepped aside to give her fellow competitors a clear view of the window. “A butterfly just landed on the glass!”

The other captured contestants sighed in unison.

As if it hadn’t been difficult enough finding other people in the forest, it became nearly impossible to locate anybody with only seven contestants left. Having shed the pair of weights that were riding on their coattails, Risty and Sebastian were now in full hunt mode, sneaking around the woods in a calculated silence. Paul and Irina casually strolled through the woods, confident that Paul’s surprise survival instincts would save them from danger.

On the opposite side of the boat was Isaac, who had not been fortunate enough to pair up with a teammate and was completely alone in roaming through the trees. The unintentional solitary confinement seemed to be getting to his head, leaving him convinced that he was the apex predator hunting for easy prey. He crept across the forest floor at a level that was even with the weeds, his mind’s eye believing that he was skulking through the jungle. He had shot one of his paintballs on the ground and streaked orange war paint across his face, telling any approaching hunters that he meant business.

The troublemaker hadn’t hit anybody, hadn’t even encountered another player since Angel, but he didn’t need to. He could let whoever was left pick one another off, while he just needed to survive to prove to himself that he was the king of the jungle. To Isaac, winning was not just a possibility, it was a necessity. This was the only way that he could make up for his outburst that morning. It wasn’t about needing the redemption to impress his team; rather, it was out of personal desire. Winning would allow him to lessen the burn from the mistake of getting involved with Avery. Though it wouldn’t get him out of the hole he had dug himself with Cara, it could at least give him a boost higher so that he had a fighting chance of pulling himself towards freedom.

“Oh crap!” The slacker had been distracted by his racing thoughts and snagged his foot on a protruding root. He dropped to the ground, hitting his knee on a sharp rock. Isaac screamed an expletive at the top of his lungs, his hands covering his mouth in shock once he realized what he had just done. “Oh double crap.”

It was like his scream had set off a signal flare, as immediately he could hear leaves shifting and footsteps hitting dirt in the distance. Ignoring his throbbing knee, Isaac climbed to his feet just before the paintballs started flying. He darted into the woods, taking a quick glance to see who he had attracted. Sebastian and Risty were right on his tail, looks of pure determination on their faces. He tried to fire behind him as he ran, though the blind shots flew in odd directions, completely missing his pursuers.

“Come on, think!” Isaac commanded himself, looking ahead to see if he could find a way out of this. Eventually, he spotted his escape route: a hill. If he slid down it fast enough and was able to duck under the bush waiting at the foot, Sebastian and Risty would have no idea where he went. It was a risky move, though he had reached the top of the hill before he could consider the flaws in his plan. The underachiever dropped to his knees, wearing the already torn knees of his jeans even further as he skidded down the slope. He dodged a few stones on the way down before flinging himself into the bush that was waiting at the bottom, pressing himself low to the ground and keeping perfectly still to not give himself away.

“Where did he go?” Risty and Sebastian eventually jogged down the hill, searching all around for their prey. Something was jabbing the side of Isaac’s leg, and he had to bite his lip to stop himself from releasing a fatal whine.

“He must’ve gotten away.” The pair of Emmys overlooked the bush and walked away, on the hunt for a new target. When they had finally left the area, Isaac burst from the leaves with a deep breath of relief.

“What the hell?” The troublemaker removed the object that was pressed into his leg, finding it to be a broken muzzle for a paintball gun. Tossing it off to the side, he got up, wincing at the pain in his bruised knee, and took in his surroundings. “This place …” He thought aloud, noting the thick tree trunks and naturally made canopy. “This is where I set my traps!”

He rushed over to the location of his rope masterpiece only to be shocked by the sight of somebody actually caught in it. He had to choke down his laughter, refusing to give away the element of surprise before figuring out the identity of his unfortunate victim. Even though their back was facing him, the gangling build and hair immediately told him that he’d captured Wes. The musician would have been a sitting duck if not for the fact that he was clearly having a conversation with somebody who was hiding behind the tree that he hung from. Unable to get a glimpse of the second player, Isaac decided to trust his ears to give him a clue as to who else he would be eliminating.

“- As if this wasn’t bad enough, all that paint on the hill that you mentioned is like a marker leading straight to me.” Wes was saying. “It’s like a sign saying, ‘Hey, look at that dumbass who’s stuck upside down, why don’t you shoot him?’”

Isaac’s lips curled into a clever smirk. Who else would know about the paint stains but the people who had just climbed down the slope? It must have been Risty or Sebastian, maybe even both hiding behind that tree, and conversing with Wes was a dire mistake. Eliminating them would probably finish the challenge and earn him the self-satisfaction that he wanted. Eliminating them would make him a winner. Maybe it was because of the paint on his face, but suddenly Isaac felt like a warrior.

The warrior ran at The Emmys, letting out a battle cry. He didn’t even look when he fired a paintball at the person behind the tree, aiming low so the close shot would end up hitting them in a less painful region. He then swung around and shot Wes in the chest. His dark eyes wild, Isaac pumped a fist in triumph.

“Yes! Score two for Isaac!” He cheered, turning to brag to Wes. “How do you like me now, big shot? You regret blocking me from getting my pancakes, don’t you?” Isaac’s excitement faded when he noticed that the expression on Wes’s face was not one of defeat, but of horror. “What? Are you okay?”

“I-I’m okay.” The gawky guitarist stammered, his eyes wide with dread as he stared straight at his assailant. “But … Donna …”

“… Donna?” That was when Isaac realized that his opponent wasn’t staring at him with that horrible expression. He was looking over his shoulder. The underachiever knew he made a mistake before even turning around, but something in his head forced him to survey the damage.

He had completely misinterpreted who had taken cover behind the tree. It was not Risty or Sebastian, but little Donna who Wes had been talking to, and she had been sitting down. The paintball that he had purposefully aimed low had hit her in the face, covering her left eye with a bright orange smear. The force from the close range shot was strong enough to fling her head back, the back of her skull bashing against the tree behind her.

The brunette’s wispy body was slumped over and her eyes were closed, one visibly swelling beneath the paint, and the hair on the back of her head was slowly getting soaked in red.

Confession Cam

Wes: “Hanging there helplessly as Isaac shot Donna was possibly one of the scariest experiences in my life. I didn’t see him coming, but suddenly Isaac had wreaked havoc on the entire challenge.” The musician’s eyes looked distraught, his hair sticking up at all angles. “I didn’t know what to do, there was nothing I could do but sit there and gape like an idiot. Donna was slumped over and bleeding, so I actually thought for a few minutes that Isaac had killed her … and I’m pretty sure he thought so too. I don’t know if something in his head just snapped, but he robotically turned his gun on himself and shot his shoulder. I think he was afraid to go anywhere near Donna, so he walked me through untying the knot around my ankle and made me do it. Thankfully, she was breathing, but we didn’t know what to do. She was knocked out cold! After standing around for a few minutes, we finally thought that maybe Chef could help …”

“I think it’s this way, come on!” Isaac held aside a few branches to let Wes through, an unconscious Donna flopped in his arms. Isaac hadn’t walked far from the starting area to set his traps, so he knew that the jailhouse must be close, but it felt as though it was miles and miles away. “I am so sorry about this. That was a total dick move, you don’t even know how bad I feel. It was an accident, I thought she was-”

“It’s not me that you should be apologizing to.” Wes answered. “Just wait until Chef fixes her up before you rant about your guilt.”

“What if she has to be removed from the competition due to injury like Izzy did?” Isaac spoke more to himself than Wes. “It’ll be all my fault! Everybody’s going to think I did it on purpose because of the fight we had at breakfast!”

“No, you really should fault and bring Izzy over for breakfast.”

Isaac and Wes yelped at the sound of the random babbling. Donna’s hands twitched a little before her uninjured eye flickered open, looking up at Wes without detecting even a hint of familiarity. She placed a hand over her black eye with a grimace, looking around at the forest rushing by her.

“Can’t see but okay. I guess this forest ride stranger.”

Wes narrowed his eyes in confusion at Donna. “That’s not even a sentence.”

Her undamaged eye was gazing up at the sky. “Sentence is scentless, a scentless apprentice, apprentice is senselessly sentences, it’s endless.”

“Oh god, it’s worse than we thought!” Her teammate cried.

“At least she’s conscious.” Isaac reassured, trying to stay positive as he pushed through more branches. They ran into a clearing, tripling their pace when they saw the jailhouse waiting for them in the middle of the open space. Donna was still jabbering away in broken English when Isaac threw open the set door. “This is an emergency!”

“Isaac?” Cara stood up, wrapping her hands around the cell bars. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“Yeah, but Donna’s not!”

When Wes stepped through his door with a limp Donna in hand, Chef Hatchet immediately sensed that something was wrong and hurried over to examine the smart aleck.

“Follow my finger.” Chef instructed, slowly moving his index finger side to side in front of Donna’s face. Her one functioning blue eye didn’t even seem to notice the finger, instead drifting over to look at the competitors locked in the cell. Ophelia waved at her, but the now irrational pessimist just tilted her head in confusion. Chef shook his head with worry and instructed Wes, “Put her down. I’ll take it from here.”

“But she just became conscious again, I don’t think-”

“Put her down.” The gruff man repeated with more force. Wes complied, and Donna stumbled but didn’t fall, exploring the room in what looked like a drunken stupor. Chef just shook his head. “I told Chris that someone would get killed without goggles, and now look what happened.”

“Attention contestants!” Chris’s voice crackled over the speakers hidden throughout the forest. “I’ve just received some news that one of you decided not to listen to me and went for an illegal hit, and now one of your teammates might have brain damage. Whoops. To try to avoid a lawsuit, this challenge needs to end. There’re only four of you out there, two from each team, so you guys are going to meet in front of the jailhouse and have one last shootout. Last team standing wins.”

“Oh, finally.” Irina gave a sigh of relief. “I’m sick of this.”

“We’re going to win this thing.” Paul assured her. “Who on the other team could out-shoot us?”

“I think you mean who could out-shoot you.” The blonde corrected.

“Well … yeah, kind of.”

The remaining Oscars eventually found their way to the jail set, where they naively stepped out of the woods expecting to be greeted by a fair fight from their mystery competition. Instead, they were faced with an empty clearing.

“Maybe they’re not here yet?” Irina suggested as Paul scanned the bushes that created a border around the clearing.

“No …” Paul raised his gun. “They’re here somewhere.”

Irina watched as Paul slowly turned around to get a full view of the area. When paintballs shot out from the edge of the forest, he quickly pulled Irina to the side, dodging the projectiles with ease. Paul fired shots of his own into the bushes where the attack had originated, but Irina caught a flash of movement in the corner of her eye. “Paul, on your right!”

“Oh!” The Boy Scout sent a paintball at the incoming attacker, but it was too late. His paintball had hit its mark … but so did his foe’s.

“Dang it!” Risty stomped her foot, wiping at the blob of red paint on her arm. “I’m always this close to winning!”

“Hey, losers!” Chris called from the steps of the jailhouse. “Since you’re out, you need to clear the battlefield for the epic showdown!”

Showdown?” Irina’s eyes bugged and she grabbed onto Paul’s arm before he could walk away. “You can’t leave me here!”

“I have to. I’m out.” He gestured to the blue splat on his shirt. “You’ve made it this far, so just take it all the way.”

“What am I supposed to do without you?”

“Win.” The all-American boy said. “I know you can.”

“You don’t know who’s out there!”

“Yeah, but does it matter? You keep saying that you’re more than just eye candy. I believe you, but here’s your chance to prove it to everyone else.” Paul removed the model from his arm and joined Chris at his observation point on the stairs. When Risty made her way over, he quietly asked her, “Who’s out there?”


The do-gooder refused to show how greatly his confidence faltered. “Okay.”

Irina stood in the small field between the jail and the forest, her gun trained on the trees. There was no way to escape without stepping out into the open, so her unknown enemy had to be in there somewhere. Just like Paul had done, the bombshell needed to force her worries to take a backseat to her instincts. She took slow, deep breaths, trying to clear her head in order to let her instincts speak before her common sense. When the paintballs began firing again, she somehow found herself running towards them.

The model wasn’t fast, but she was running on pure adrenaline, so she easily dodged the incoming paintballs. She continued charging into the woods, raising her gun as she neared the bushes that her attacker was hiding behind. In a few practically subconscious movements, she leaned over the shrub and hit Sebastian square in the chest with a bright green paintball. Her rush fading, Irina fell back into the grass and caught her breath, unsure whether to be proud or terrified of herself.

True to his personality, Chris McLean broke the silence. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Irina won the challenge!”

“Lucky shot.” Sebastian grumbled, trudging over to the jail to take his mug shot. When the realization that she had won finally kicked in, Irina eagerly hopped to her feet and skipped over to release her captured teammates from their cell.

Confession Cam

Irina: “I can’t believe it! I did it! I don’t know how, but I won!” The model did a victory dance. “I really need to thank Paul. When he said I wasn’t just a pretty girl, he told me what I’d wanted to hear all along, so it totally motivated me to just go for it. And look at this! I won!” The blonde clutched her heart with excitement. “After this and saving me, I think I should start taking that Boy Scout more seriously.”

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Donna rolled onto her side, trying to ignore the high-pitched noise piecing her dreams. When it didn’t stop, one of her eyes flicked open, the other stuck shut. It took a few minutes for her vision to focus, the blurry smudges around her transforming into clear shapes to reveal that she was in an unfamiliar room. The sheets that she was lying on were a stark white, and medical equipment surrounded her, the day’s last rays of sunlight sneaking in through the large window in front of her.

“Well, look who finally decided to return to the world of the living.”

If she hadn’t been lying down, Donna probably would have jumped at the sound of the smooth voice behind her. She turned over to find that Sebastian was sitting in a chair beside her bed. “Where am I?”

“A medical room in The Hotel.” He explained. “Do you remember what happened?”

“I remember sitting with Wes and hitting my head.” She stated. “Chef Hatchet tried to fill me in on the details the first time I woke up … or at least I thought it was the first time. He said I came to in a disoriented state right after I was hurt?”

“Apparently you had no idea where you were and were speaking in tongues.” Sebastian leaned forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees. “Or so I’ve heard. Chef had carted you away by the time I was done losing the challenge.”

“Who beat you?”

“Irina.” Sebastian glowered. “The bimbo has a wild side, I guess.”

“Wish I could’ve seen that.” Donna commented, absent-mindedly feeling at the bruised skin around her eye. It hurt even when she put minimal pressure on it, but she continued prodding it, trying to determine just how terribly she’d been hurt.

“Your eye doesn’t look that bad.” The card shark assured her. “It could’ve been much worse.”

Though he had meant every word he said, Donna glared at him with her good eye. “Why are you here?”

“You’ve been in here for hours, so Ophelia and Wes have been coming in and out whenever Chef lets them. I just asked to go in when they were both occupied. Wes is still sitting in the hall waiting for you to wake up.”

“You still haven’t answered my question,” The weakened wisecracker said. “Why are you here?”

“You don’t think that as your teammate I want to check on you?”

Donna started to roll her eyes, but winced in pain from moving the injured one. “Sebastian, I don’t think you understand just how well I have you figured out. I know you don’t do anything without an underlying motive.”

His lips curled into a small smile. “That’s true.” She continued to stare at him with a hard look in her eyes – or, um, eye – and he shifted in his seat. “It’s about the elimination …”

“If you think you’ll be able to manipulate me while I’m weak, then you have another thing coming. I’ve explained countless times why I am not helping y-”

“No, this is different. I’m here for your benefit.” He leaned in closer to where she sat on the flimsy bed, lowering his voice. “I normally wouldn’t do this, but for you I’ll make an exception.”

“Just tell me.”

Sebastian took a deep breath before saying, “The team wants to vote off Wes.”


“Shhh, I told you he’s right outside.” He covered her mouth with his hand, and, despite her anger, she didn’t push him away. Instead, she nodded for him to continue. “Look, most of our teammates are in the same boat as I am and only heard the story of what happened to you through word of mouth. The contents change from person to person, but what we all got from it is that he got caught in some kind of trap, you stayed with him, and he was with you when you were knocked out. People are filling in their own pieces of the puzzle and assume that what happened to you was his fault.”

“But it wasn’t!” The petite pessimist insisted, her voice muffled behind her teammate’s hand.

“I figured that, but you’ve been delirious, unconscious, and asleep, so you haven’t exactly been able to tell us, have you? Wes has been alone in pleading his case, and I think the others are hearing his explanations as excuses made by a guy who's desperate to save himself.”

Donna pushed his hand off of her mouth. “He did nothing. He can’t be eliminated because of me. I’m the one who should be eliminated, not somebody who actually deserves to win. It’s not his fault-”

“Donna,” Sebastian managed to get her to make eye contact with him. “I don’t like Wes, but I know that you do. If it’s what you want, I’ll find a way to keep him in the competition, but you need to vote with me tonight.”

“I can’t. Chef said that I’m not in a stable enough condition to go to the elimination ceremony. The only thing he said I should do is get some rest.”

“Your vote needs to be at elimination even if you don’t cast it.” The gambler pointed out. “If they won’t let you write it in, then somebody must be voting in your place.”

Donna looked to the side. “… I can’t tell you who.”

“Why not?”

“You do something for me, and I owe you. That’s how manipulators like you function.”

“This is different. I’ve already told you, this is an exception that I wouldn’t be making if anybody else were in your place.”

“Seriously, what’s the price?”

“For you?” He gave her a charmer’s grin. “There isn’t one.” Donna remained quiet, contemplating her options in her head to form her plan of action. Sebastian stood from his chair and began walking towards the door. “Well, I guess I’ll go tell lover boy you’re awake …”

“Wes is voting for me.” He stopped dead in his tracks, waiting for her to elaborate. “Since I can’t attend the elimination, my vote went to the last person I was with, and that was Wes.”

Sebastian put a hand on the doorknob, keeping his back towards Donna to hide his satisfied smirk. "I'll make it work for you."

“Sebastian?” The smart aleck spoke up as he opened the door. The strategist turned around to look at her, surprised to see a soft expression on her face. “Thank you.”

He smiled at her before stepping into the hallway, pushing the door closed behind him. Wes was waiting right outside the door. “I heard you talking to somebody in there. Is she awake?”

Sebastian shoved the musician’s bony shoulders, slamming his back into the wall beside the door. “Let’s talk, shall we?”

“Welcome, Emmys, to your third Team’s Choice Awards in a row!” Chris grinned as he stepped behind his podium. “Your team had a less-than-stellar time in the challenge today, and I’m sure you’ve all noticed that you’re still missing a member.”

“Donna’s not eliminated, is she?” Ophelia asked, frantically glancing around for her friend.

“Not unless you guys voted her off.” The host said. “Nurse Hatchet reported earlier that Donna’s okay, but he's not giving her the all clear to get back into the competition until tomorrow. That means that she’s stuck in the medical room tonight, so her vote automatically went to the last person she was with. Long story short, Wes got to vote twice.” The Emmys all turned to look at the songbird, who gave them a nervous grin. The camera then shifted to show the Red Carpet of Shame. “Whoever is leaving today will be getting into this lovely military jeep, which is probably a veteran of the First World War considering how beat up it is. On both sides of the road leading out of the studios, there will be soldiers firing paintballs at you. The jeep has no windows, doors, or roof.”

Several players gasped, and Chris took out a stack of papers. He hopped off the stage so that he could stand in front of the bleachers. “The elimination ceremony’s going to work a little differently tonight. In my hands, I have your mug shots from the challenge. When I reveal your photo, come over and take a star. Whoever doesn’t have a mug shot is eliminated.” The host turned over the picture and displayed it to the team. “The first person safe is Sebastian.”

The Emmys cackled at the picture of the furious gambler flipping the bird to the camera. “Oh, ha-ha.” Sebastian took his photo with a serious look on his face. “You can stop laughing now.”

“Next up we have Risty,” Her mug shot looked more like a school picture with the bright smile she had on her face, her hair taking up most of the frame. “Victor,” The actor’s photo showed him giving the camera his version of the Blue Steel. “Ophelia,” The artist looked terrified in her shot, seeming to think that she was actually arrest. “Monique,” The designer was unimpressed as always in the picture. “And Minerva.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” The quirky redhead literally leapt from her seat, taking her mug shot and star with a huge smile. Her picture had been taken when she was mid-sentence, her mouth wide open and her eyes half closed. Elena glared at her when she sat back on the bleachers.

“The last name before the bottom two is …” Chris held up the mug shot. “Donna. Looks like you guys were nice enough to not send home a wounded soldier.” The picture showed the brunette looking completely disoriented, her name plaque held upside down and paint splattered across her face. “And look who we have left: a bottom two veteran and a newcomer.” Wes seemed petrified that he didn’t have a star, while Elena just didn’t seem to care. “Wes, you spent most of the challenge hanging from a tree and didn’t react fast enough to save your teammate from almost dying. Elena, your teammates don’t like you. Heck, I don’t even like you.” The host curled up the upper corner of the mug shot, though the face was still concealed. “The person who is in this picture is …”


WHAT?!” Elena shrieked, whipping her body around to face her teammates. “YOU VOTED FOR ME?!”

“You screwed up literally every challenge.” Monique pointed out. “Did you really think we’d keep you over someone who messed up once?”

“I wasn’t asking you!” Elena pointed to the back row. “I was talking to that son of a bitch up there!”

Sebastian raised an eyebrow. “Me?”

“Yes, you! You lied to me! You said you lied to Donna and told them all to vote for Wes! I trusted you, and you tricked me!”

The card shark shrugged. “Shit happens.”

“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU!” Elena tried to claw at him, but Chef Hatchet emerged from behind the stage and grabbed her. She screamed at the top of her lungs as he dragged her to the jeep, strapping her into the passenger’s seat and slapping a football helmet onto her head.

“To protect your face.” He stated before throwing on a set of full-body armor and getting into the driver’s seat. Elena was still screeching and cursing as they drove away, though when the paintballs started firing her yells were replaced by howls of pain.

“Well, I honestly didn’t see that coming.” Chris admitted, handing Wes his mug shot. “You got lucky.”

Confession Cam

Sebastian: “Wes didn’t ‘get lucky.’ I didn’t choose to save him just for Donna’s sake …”

The shot then switched to a previously unaired scene, where Sebastian was unlocking his room, having just come from the challenge judging by his paint-stained shirt. He muttered something about losing under his breath, though his rant was cut short when somebody grabbed him by the arm.

“Sebastian!” He turned around to find Minerva, her eyes watery with tears that were ready to fall. “I need your help!”

“What do you want?”

“It’s just …” As always, the redhead’s emotions caused her to speak at rapid speed, “I really need Elena eliminated since I can’t tolerate her anymore, she’s not doing anything for our team but she always just keeps beating on me and I just can’t take it anymore! I tried to stand up for myself, but she just never backs down and kept ripping me apart, so I thought that maybe I could get her eliminated. She kept bragging about how she has a leg up on you and your alliance and how you control the game, so I knew you were the man for the job and I’m here asking you – no, begging you to help me get rid of her! Please, I’ll do anything!”

Her final words sparked Sebastian’s interest. “‘Anything,’ you say?”

The chatterbox nodded her head rapidly. “Yes, anything, just please get rid of her!”

The gambler smirked. “Fine. Consider it done. But if she is voted off tonight, you’re in debt to me. You owe me one huge favor, which I can claim at any time and you will complete no matter what it is that I ask you to do-”

“Except vote myself off.” Minerva interjected. “I just won’t do that.”

“Okay, you will do whatever I ask you to except vote yourself off. Deal?”

The motor mouth paused but eventually nodded her head. “I’m desperate, so deal!”

The scene changed back to the confessional, where Sebastian still sat. “Minerva is so gullible and afraid that there’s no way that she will back out on our agreement. I can get her to do whatever I want, and she doesn’t have the guts to stand up to me. I think this is almost better than an alliance.”

Isaac sat in the stairwell between the second and third floor, his gaze locked onto the wall. What happened in the challenge was all his fault. All he had wanted was to be able to make himself feel better about kissing Avery, to find a way to forget her, but now he had Donna’s blood on his hands because he just couldn’t control his emotions. How could his team ever forgive him? Even worse, how would Cara ever forgive him?


The slacker looked over his shoulder to spot none other than the nature lover standing at the top of the stairs. “Oh, hey.”

“What’re you doing?”


Cara descended the stairs to sit beside him on the landing. They were both quiet for a while, the only sound being the echo of other contestants moving around on their floors, but she eventually broke the silence. “You’re thinking about how you screwed up in the challenge, aren’t you?”

“Among other things, yes.” He muttered.

“We all screw up. You might’ve hurt Donna, but she’s okay. At least you weren’t dumb enough to trust a jewel thief.”

“You weren’t dumb. You had no idea – there was no way you could’ve known who she really was. I, on the other hand, just royally eff everything up.”

“You don’t, so please don’t say that.” The tree hugger argued. “We all make mistakes, but we do good things to balance them out.”

“What do I do that’s good? Nothing. I just piss everyone off.”

“Not everyone. You’re always nice to me. You’re more than nice to me, as a matter of fact.” She fiddled her thin, tan hands, wringing them nervously. “I don’t mind the mistakes that you’ve made because everything that you say makes me happy.”

“You don’t understand, Cara.” His eyes met her deep brown ones. “I’m a mess. You really don’t want to trust me, because I’ll just screw you over like I’ve done to everyone and everything else.”

That was when Cara leaned in and kissed him, just a soft peck on the mouth. When she came to her senses, she quickly pulled away, her face turning pink. “I don’t think you’re the bad guy that you want everybody else and even yourself to believe that you are. I know you think it’s stupid, but I … I trust you. And I really, really like you. And I think I hear Irina calling my name.” The tree hugger scurried back up the stairs, disappearing behind the stairwell door so she wouldn’t have to see his reaction.

Isaac wanted to follow her, but he couldn’t get his feet to move. He just put his face in his hands and let out a strangled groan.

Episode Eight: Teeth

Chapter Fifteen: Bite Me

“Last time on Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment, we had our second violent challenge in a row!” Chris McLean grinned excitedly. “The episode started with Allison and Angel sneaking out after dark. They thought I didn’t know…” He clicked his tongue. “I’m so ashamed of them. They should know by now that I see everything. Anyways, the next day at breakfast, Isaac caused a scene because he was ticked off about his make out session with Avery possibly ruining his relationship with Cara.

“During the challenge, I gave everybody a paintball gun and sent them into an all-out war! Sebastian attempted to organize his team like an army, but ended up with only two idiots and Risty following his orders. Meanwhile, Isaac secretly set up rope traps for his competitors, and Wes was dumb enough to wander into one. Paul let out his inner soldier in order to rescue Irina. He shot paintballs at Donna, but she managed to escape by… well, falling down a hill and breaking her gun. She found Wes dangling from a tree, and they decided to be weak and defenseless together.

“They weren’t together for much longer because Isaac came along and,” Chris made over exaggerated air quotes, “‘Accidentally’ knocked Donna unconscious with a paintball to the face. Eventually it came down to Irina versus Sebastian. Without knight in shining armor Paul to protect her, Irina panicked but somehow shot out Sebastian for the win. After the challenge ended, Donna woke up in the medical room to find Sebastian waiting to make her an offer. He agreed to save her friend Wes from elimination supposedly just because he liked her. Sounds suspicious, no?

“At the elimination, Sebastian lived up to his promise and Elena was finally eliminated over Wes. It was revealed that Minerva had actually made a deal with the devil- oh, I mean Sebastian- to get the socialite voted off. At the end of the episode, Cara revealed her feelings for Isaac in the stairwell. Totally unaware of what he had done with Avery, she kissed him and then ran away, leaving him with a huge choice to make.” Chris grinned as he took a seat on a set of stairs. “What will Isaac do about his romance situation? Will Minerva be able to escape the deal she made with Sebastian? Will these contestants be able to keep running from their problems, or will they get bitten in the butt? Find out right now on Total… Drama… Island… For Your Entertainment!”

The camera shifted, tilting on its side as a pair of hands struggled to get the lens to focus. When the picture was clear, Minerva backed away from it and plopped into a swivel chair.

“Hello faithful fans, and welcome to another installment of the RealityGossip Behind the Scenes Video Blog! As always, I’m your trusty host Minerva, and I couldn’t be happier right now because Elena’s finally gone!” Minerva spun her chair in a circle with a laugh. “Last episode was way dramatic, but I can’t tell you too much. All I can say is that I’m so glad the other member of the bottom two stayed since he definitely didn’t deserve to go.” Somebody cleared their throat off screen, and Minerva pouted in the direction of the sound. “I’m getting to you guys! Jeez, hold on.”

The blonde turned back to the camera and plastered on another grin. “This wouldn’t be a behind the scenes blog without some behind the scenes interviews, now would it? Today I have not one, but two special guests for you.” She zoomed out the camera to show her guests sitting in chairs beside her. “From my team, we have my wonderful, pretty, and fashionable friend Monique Darling!

“I take it you think the overdone introduction made up for making us wait?” Monique asked.

Minerva shrugged. “Did it?”


“Good! My second guest is from The Oscars team. Ooh, fraternizing with the enemy! I really couldn’t see this guy being anybody’s enemy, though. Here’s the sweet, loyal, and friendly Paul Adams!”

“Hey there.” Paul gave the camera a wave from his seat beside Monique.

“Paul and Monique are here to answer some questions I came up with about their teams, since I think they’re both pretty neutral towards most of their teammates.” Minerva explained, holding up an index card with several things written on it. “They’ve agreed to answer as honestly as possible. Unless I say otherwise, these questions only apply to the contestants left in the game. Ready?”

“You sound like Chris when you do that.” Monique commented.

“Oh yeah.” Paul agreed.

“Question one,” Minerva ignored them and read off of her card, “If your team had to choose a leader, who would it be?”

“Definitely Sebastian.” Monique answered. “He’s sketchy, but still would make us win.”

“Um…” Paul hesitated. “If it was a vote, then probably Allison. But if it was just whoever took over first, then Avery.”

“Okay, question two: who do you think does the least for your team?”

Paul made an indecisive hissing noise with his mouth. “Uh… Angel hasn’t been doing too hot in the last two challenges, but I think overall Cara does the least. Please don’t tell them I said that!”

“Only the fans get to know.” Minerva pointed to the camera. “That’s why it’s behind the scenes. Monique?”

Ophelia.” The dark-haired girl bluntly stated.

“Question three: who do you think is seen as the best looking person on your team?”

Monique gave Paul an all-knowing grin. “I think everybody knows your answer to this one.”

Paul gave her an embarrassed smile. “What can I say? Irina’s a model.”

“Well, I’m not so quick to decide.” The trendsetter said. “It depends on who you’re asking. The three guys we have left are all appealing in their own ways.”

“What about the girls?” Minerva asked.

Monique ran a hand through the longer side of her hair. “Well, obviously me.” Paul and Minerva laughed at her reaction, but Monique remained straight-faced. “I don’t see why you’re laughing.”

“Question four!” Minerva tried to push past the awkward moment. “If two contestants on your team were secretly hooking up, who do you think it would be?”

“Isaac and Avery.” Paul shuddered at the thought. “They’re both pretty much heartless and I wouldn’t put it past Isaac to break Cara’s heart.”

“You really think so?” The loudmouth asked.

“Of course.”

“And what about our team, Monique?” Minerva questioned her friend.

Monique thought about it for a moment. “I don’t know. Our team seems to be more filled with potentially hormonal teenagers than theirs.”

“Ha.” Paul snorted. “That’s a lie.”

“No, Minerva and I seem to be the only non-romantically inclined people on our team.” The fashionista claimed. “Ophelia and Victor have their thing going on. Wes and Sebastian are clearly competing for Donna without her even realizing it. If Zack was still around, he’d probably have been dating Risty by now, and who knows what Elena and Gabe did in their spare time-”

“Too much information!” Paul interrupted.

“Seriously.” Minerva stuck her tongue out.

“You asked me to answer as honestly as possible.” Monique repeated the blog host’s words. “I’m just doing what you asked.”

Confession Cam

Minerva: “Monique, I love you as a friend and all, but you’re not going to be on my show again if you keep answering questions like that!” The blonde crossed her arms. “The fans want to know what goes on behind the scenes, but not behind imaginary closed doors!”

Monique: “I say what I mean. If I didn’t, then who would?”

It was late when Angel crept down the third floor hallway brushing the ashes from his shirt. He had been in the empty cafeteria setting different food wrappers aflame, and now was hoping that nobody would realize he was gone. He unlocked the door to his room with soot covered hands and snuck into the darkness, slowly closing the door behind him. Assuming that Isaac was asleep, he tiptoed over to his bed and turned on the lamp on the nearby table.

He jumped back in horror when he found Isaac sitting up and staring at him.

¡Qué demonios!” Angel stumbled over some dirty clothes and fell to the floor. He quickly got to his feet and glared at Isaac. “Why didn’t you tell me you were awake?!”

“I didn’t think it mattered.” The troublemaker replied, his voice lacking its usual attitude. “What’s on your hands?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing.” Angel quickly brushed the soot from hands onto his jeans. “Why are you still up?”

“I need your help.”

The pyromaniac raised an eyebrow. “To sleep?”

“No! I just need to talk to you!” Isaac explained. “Man to man. Dude to dude. Bro to bro.”

“Okay, I get it.” Angel slouched into the armchair at the side of the room. “So, what?”

“I have been faced with… a dilemma.”

The dark-haired Oscar gave his roommate a questioning glance, leaning his chair on its back legs. “That’s pretty vague.”

Isaac sighed. “I screwed up a few days ago.”

Angel’s glance turned into a glare. “I can’t read your mind, dude. You need to elaborate.”

“I may have sort of, kind of, stupidly, accidentally made out with Avery.”

All four legs of Angel’s chair thumped onto the floor. “What?!

“It was an accident! I don’t know what happened!” Isaac screeched. “I was in the cafeteria and she was just there! Next thing I know she’s kissing me, telling me to forget Cara!”

His roommate sneered. “Oh god, now I’ll never be able to see the cafeteria the same. And I was just there!” He dug his hand into the sticking up part of his hair. “So what are you going to do about it?”

“…The story’s not over.” Angel groaned, and Isaac grimaced. “A couple of days ago Cara kissed me on the stairs.”

Angel raised an eyebrow. “And what did you do?”

“Nothing. She just ran away. We haven’t talked since.”

“Ugh, Isaac, Isaac, Isaac.” The pyromaniac shook his head. “What do you expect me to help you with?”

“Help me choose!” At that, Angel laughed. Isaac gaped at him, and when he didn’t stop he tossed a sneaker at him. “Shut up, man! This isn’t funny!”

“Yes, it is.” He replied, deflecting the shoe. “You really think you actually have to think about it?”

“…What do you mean?”

“I mean that Cara’s nice and innocent and is crazy enough to have a thing for you. And Avery… well, she probably has been trying to get you voted off. It’d have to be a freaking superhuman kiss to get you to choose her over Cara.”

“But Avery’s hot.”

“That’s all she has going for her, though.” Angel crossed his arms, and Isaac raised a speculative brow.

“You’re just still against her because of the Robert thing, aren’t you?”

“Even if I wasn’t, I’m speaking out of your best interest.” Angel leaned back in his chair and tapped a finger to his temple. “Use your head and pick Cara.”

Knock knock knock.


Knock knock knock.


The only response was violent snoring.

Wes rolled his eyes and put a pillow over his head, trying to ignore the voice at the door. Why was somebody knocking on their door this late?

Knock knock knock.


Knock knock knock.


Knock knock knock.


When his roommate still didn’t answer, Wes groaned and sat up. “Can’t you just come in through the bathroom, Ophelia?”

It took only a few seconds for Ophelia to burst through the connected bathroom door in her pajamas. “I need Victor.”

“I can tell.” Wes lied back down and pointed to the side. “Have fun waking him up.” The musician put the pillow back over his face, though he peeked out from underneath to secretly watch the show.

Ophelia approached the end of Victor’s bed and watched him sleep. He was sprawled out with his body sideways and half off the bed, and his mouth was wide open as he rapidly snored. The artist cocked her head and smiled. “So cute.”

And then she pounced on him.

Victor’s eyes instantly opened only to find Ophelia sitting on top of him, her expression like an excited puppy. He stared for a minute, seemingly processing what was happening, but eventually smiled. “Oh, hello there.”

“I was knocking on your door.” She stated.

“And now you’re here… on top of me…”

“Yes.” Ophelia stayed put, not noticing Wes’s muffled laughter in the background.

Victor’s smile turned more awkward. “So… um… can I ask why?”

“Oh, right!” The blonde hopped back to her feet, grabbing Victor’s hand. “Come with me!”

The drama king uncertainly followed her out the door. Ophelia led him downstairs to the lobby, and then down one of the halls that led to the cafeteria. She stopped in front of a closed door. “Where are we going?”

“You’ll see!” The artist replied in a sing-song voice. When she opened the door, they were faced with a wooden set of spiraling stairs. Before Victor could question her, she was already leading him up them. At the top was a door marked “Emergency Exit”. Clearly not understanding the meaning of the phrase, Ophelia pushed open the door and brought Victor through it.

They were now on the roof of The Hotel. Though it wasn’t the tallest building in McLean Studios, its placement allowed it to be the one with the best view. The buildings around them seemed to move aside so they could view the skyline of Major City. Behind the tall city buildings, the dark sky started to fade into violet.

“It’s…” For once, Victor was lost for words.

“Spectacular?” Ophelia suggested, a breeze blowing through her hair as she headed towards the edge of the building. “Glorious? Wonderful? Beautiful?”

“All of the above.” He watched as the purple on the skyline started fading into red. When he looked back to Ophelia, she had sat down on the ledge and was staring the direction of the city. He sat beside her. “How did you find this?”

“I was looking for Donna one day and found the door. It was daytime the first time, but I just knew it would look amazing at sunrise.” Ophelia pulled her knees to her chest, resting her chin on them. Instead of the sunrise, Victor was distracted by her curious demeanor. In the dim light, her skin appeared paper white with just as pale hair curling messily around her face. Her bright eyes watched the sunrise so intently that he wondered if somehow she saw something that he didn’t.

“Ophelia, why did you bring me here?”

It took her a notably long time to respond. “To see the sunrise, of course.”

“No, I mean why did you bring me here?” Victor restated his question. “Why not Donna or somebody else?”

Ophelia’s eyes trained onto his face. She tilted her head slightly before giving him a shy smile. “It had to be for you. I thought it was special… and you’re special to me. It seemed perfect just like you.”

It was uncharacteristic for him, but Victor gave a completely unselfish answer. “I’m not perfect.”

“Pretty close.”

“I act like I do for other people. You are just you, no matter what anybody thinks, but they still like you much better.”

The reds in the sunrise were starting to look pink, but Ophelia still looked at Victor. “People don’t like me. They think I’m weird, strange, dumb.” She paused, pursing her lips before continuing, “They always say I’m crazy.”

“Who says that?”

“Oh, plenty of people.”

“…Well, I don’t think you’re crazy at all.”

Ophelia leaned her head on his shoulder. “Right now, that’s all I need.”

He wound his arm around her waist and they stayed quiet as the sun rose, Ophelia captivated with the view but Victor caught in his own thoughts. Eventually Victor wrapped both of his arms around Ophelia, pulling her against him. They sat like that in total silence, even when the sun was up.

For Ophelia, that was all she needed.

Confession Cam

Victor: “She’s odd, but she’s beautiful. Ophelia’s unlike any girl I’ve ever met, and I don’t know why but I like that. A lot.” He had a strangely soft expression on his face, his emotions for once understated. “You can call me a sap, a hopeless romantic, whatever you want, but I think I might be falling in love on a reality show.”

“Guys, who unwrapped all the food in the fridge?!”

Angel sunk lower in his seat as Risty and Monique rummaged through the kitchen. He was just glad he was smart enough to wash the ash off the countertops.

“You okay?” Allison asked from across the table.

“Yeah, yeah, fine!” Angel replied with a forced grin.

Allison rolled her eyes. “I’m sure-”

“Hey, what did I miss?” Isaac interrupted, sitting in the seat beside Angel.

“We’re not going to get breakfast for a while.” Angel said. “Somebody trashed the kitchen.”

“That sucks.” The troublemaker sneered. “Have you guys seen Cara?”

The roommates then got into a conversation about… well, Allison wasn’t quite sure what. After a few minutes, she gave up on trying to participate in it and crossed her arms. Avery slid into the seat beside her with a cheeky grin.

“Looks like somebody’s jealous.”

Allison immediately stopped pouting. “What are you talking about?”

“Angel’s your supposed ‘partner in crime’, isn’t he?” Avery asked. “Looks like he has a new best friend.”

The Goth snorted. “Is that how everything works in your head? Everybody is jealous of each other?”

“I have eyes, Allison. I can see you shooting daggers at Isaac.”

“Mind your own business, would you?” The daredevil snarled, and the drama queen laughed.

At the other team’s table, the atmosphere was just as negative. Minerva was babbling to Donna about how much better her eye looked, not realizing she was simultaneously giving the smart aleck a headache and embarrassing her. Sebastian and Wes sat in seats near them.

“You’re lucky I let you stay over Elena.” The gambler said. “She would have been easy to get rid of any time. You’re different.”

“Are you saying you’re trying to vote me off?” Wes asked.

“No. I’m saying that even if I wanted to I couldn’t.” He restated. “You have too many people who wouldn’t vote for you.”

Wes gave him a nervous grin. “I’d consider that a good thing, right?”

“Good for you. When Donna’s done with you, though…” Sebastian made the motion of slitting his throat and Wes glared.

“So that’s why you don’t like me, huh?”

“No. I have plenty of other reasons.”

Before Wes could question his teammate, Victor and Ophelia joined the table. They sat arm in arm and looked practically enamored with each other. Minerva’s attention was immediately directed from Donna to the new pair.

“My gossip sense tells me something has changed here.” The loudmouth wiggled her eyebrows, and Ophelia looked away with a twitter of a laugh.

“Oh yes.” Victor replied with a proud grin.

“Seems a bit sudden…” Donna commented, looking unsurely at Ophelia.

Victor answered in the artist’s honor with, “O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou.” Donna rolled her eyes at his Shakespeare quote, but chose to bite back her words.

“Hey, Monique!” Minerva called into the kitchen. The trendsetter glanced out through the food window. “Guess you were right about that hormonal teenagers thing!”

“I always am!” The dark-haired girl hollered back. Risty stepped out from the kitchen beside her, hair pulled back into a cloud of a ponytail behind her head, and placed a tray on the counter in front of her.

“Breakfast is served!” The athlete banged a spoon on the tray, and the fashionista quickly went back into the kitchen to avoid having to serve anybody. As a line formed in front of Risty, Cara entered through the cafeteria doors.

“Oops.” She stopped in the doorway at the sight of the line. “Looks like I’m late.”

“I’d say you’re just on time.” The nature lover’s eyes widened at the sight of Isaac. It had been days since they’d last talked, and yet here he was acting like everything was perfectly fine. “What’s new?”

“Um… not much. I just used some of my phone time to call home.” Cara bit her lip as she walked to join the line, but Isaac held a plate out in front of her.

“No need to wait for breakfast. I’ve got it all covered.” She took the plate from him and examined it carefully. Two pieces of toast and an apple. “Risty made sausage and eggs, but I figured you were more of a hardcore vegetarian and wouldn’t want that.” Cara kept looking at the plate, and Isaac’s face fell. When she eventually looked up, though, she had a smile on her face.

“Thank you.” They began to walk back to the table, the awkwardness out the window.

As usual, after eating the teams attempted to disperse in a race to not be stuck with cleanup duty. However, any attempts to escape were thwarted by Rachel Claire waiting in the lobby. “Jeez, took you guys long enough.”

“What is your obsession with starting challenges right after we eat?” Avery questioned.

Rachel Claire held up a well-manicured finger. “Not my obsession. Chris’s. He just thinks it’s ideal challenge time.” She snickered at the groan she received. “Let’s just hope your breath smells good for this one.”

“Let me guess: Victorian romance?”

“Not quite.”


“Kind of.”


“Getting warmer.”

The cast and Rachel Claire stood in the front room of a Victorian castle set. The set was one of the tallest in the studio, and was made fully out of ancient-looking stones. The interior was decorated in a Gothic style, with a dark stone floor beneath the arched ceiling. Candelabras and chandeliers covered the room, and a set of stairs wound up to the top of the castle. There was only one large window behind the stairs, and it cast various colors from its washed out mosaic panes.

“Welcome, victims, to the supernatural set.” Chris McLean appeared at the top of the stairs wearing a long black cape. He slid down the banister and stood in front of the cast, giving them a fake blood stained smile. “I’m sure you know of the supernatural romances that are so popular today: The Bloodsucker Journals, Real Gore, Young Wolfman, and most importantly Daylight-”

“Team Jason!” Minerva burst out, pumping her fist.

“Oh no way, Team Edmund!” Avery argued. The two girls glared at each other, and Chris laughed.

“So I see you’ve heard of them.” He drew a pile of index cards from beneath his cape. “I have randomly assigned you roles for this two-part challenge. Angel, Avery, Monique, Paul, and Sebastian, you are the vampires. Allison, Cara, Ophelia, Victor, and Wes, you’re the werewolves. And Donna, Irina, Isaac, Minerva, and Risty are…”

“Witches?” Minerva suggested.

“Nope. You’re the prey.” Chris cackled. “The first part of the challenge is vampires vs. prey. Each vampire will be given a key with a colored tag on it that corresponds to a certain room in the castle. The rooms are hidden in secret locations, so your first task is not only to find the room but to somehow get to it. Once you unlock the door to the room, you’ll find a member of the prey inside from the opposite team. Your job is to get the prey to let you land ‘the bite’.”

Chris pulled out a pair of fake vampire teeth and clacked them together in his hands. Red paint dripped from the ends of each fang. “This is ‘the bite’. You have to leave the two red marks somewhere on them, preferably their necks. How that happens is your choice. You can be a romantic vampire, a cruel vampire, a sneaky vampire, whatever. If the prey manages to snatch the teeth from you, there’s no way you can plant the bite so you lose. The challenge is going to be judged on how good of a show you put on when planting the bite. You need to impress the judge. Any questions?”

“Who’s the judge?” Monique asked with a raise of her hand.

“I’m glad you asked.” A drumroll started from out of nowhere. “Let me introduce to you the star of the Daylight franchise and a total brooding romantic. He’s forever sixteen and forever a crazy method actor, it’s ‘real vampire’ Edmund Sullen!”

A pale man with messy brown hair stepped out from behind an arch. His face was absolutely expressionless as he looked at the cast. “I would be excited to see you if I had any emotions.”

“Oh noooo waaaaaay.” Minerva’s jaw dropped at the sight of the star.

“I thought you were Team Jason.” Avery pointed out with a scowl.

“I have no problem with switching if it means I can talk to Edmund Sullen.”

“I would be mildly flattered if I had the ability to be.” Edmund droned.

“Believe it or not, Edmund here likes to see some romance or fake violence.” Chris explained as he walked down the line of prey and handed them each a colored card. “He wants vamps with personality.”

He continued babbling as he handed the vampires their keys and fangs. After Sebastian received his, he heard somebody hiss from the prey group. He looked up to find Donna staring him down. She gestured towards his key. He had no idea why she wanted it, but he showed her the black tag attached to it. She then held up her green card and tapped it. He looked down the line and found the matching key, subtly gesturing towards Paul. She just gave him a nod and then looked away as though nothing had ever happened, leaving him completely confused.

Before he could question it, Rachel Claire stepped back in front of the crowd. “Prey, Chris and I will escort you to your rooms.” She did an elaborate hip wiggle when she passed by Edmund Sullen before heading up the stairs. The prey followed close behind, with Chris bringing up the rear.

In the middle of the group, Donna tripped on a stair and tried grabbing onto Irina to catch herself, though she only ended up pulling the model to the ground too. Irina quickly got to her feet, offering Donna a hand.

“Danger prone, aren’t you? First your eye, and now this?”

The smart aleck took her hand with an apologetic frown. “I am so sorry! I didn’t mean to! It’s early, and these stairs-”

“It’s fine, I was just joking.” Irina put up her hands as if to brush off the incident, accidentally flashing Donna her black card in the process. “It was totally understandable. People trip all the time.”

“But, look! You got dirt all over your knees. You’re going to have to go the whole challenge like that!”

“It’s okay, it was an accident.”

“No, I have to make it up to you somehow.”

“It’s fine, really.” Irina insisted. “I just want to make it through the challenge.”

“Why?” Donna asked. “Think you’ll have a hard time?”

“Exactly the opposite, actually. I work with male models all the time. It’s all about keeping a level head no matter what they’re pretending to do to you, whether it’s kiss you or kill you. Whatever the vampires do, I’ll be able to handle it and get their teeth before they can bite me.”

Donna looked down at the green card in her hand, and then at Irina’s black one. “You want to make this challenge a little more fun?”

“How so?”

“I’m paired up with Paul and I heard he helped you a lot in the last challenge, so why don’t we switch? That way you can make it up to him today. Plus, you’ll get an instant point for your team just by faking it rather than sitting bored all challenge.”

Irina furrowed her brow. “Is that allowed?”

“Chris said it was all about putting on a show, right?” Donna turned around to look at the host, who was a few stairs behind them. “You don’t care, do you?”

Chris shrugged. “As long as it looks good I can dig it, and I’m sure Edmund doesn’t care… or at least he won’t show it. I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re on the same team if it’s all about performance. Just try extra hard to make it interesting if you want to get a good score.”

“See? So do you want this?” Donna held out the green tag to Irina. She hesitated for a moment, but eventually traded with her.


“Oh, it was no problem. Really.”

Confession Cam

Donna: “Am I against cheating? Yes. Am I against finding a loophole? Of course not.” The intelligent brunette sat with her hair covering most of her still bruised eye. “Sebastian told me there were no consequences to saving Wes, but I know he was lying. He’ll hang it over my head until I make up for it, so I figured why not help him out with this challenge? Irina seemed like she’d be stubborn prey, but with me it’s just pretend to kill me and we’re done. I’ll even do a dramatic death scene if he wants. That’ll be a favor for a favor, and the unsaid debt will be repaid. I’m sure he’ll be so excited when he sees me in that room over anybody else, anyway.” She stuck her tongue out and shuddered in disgust.

“Vampires, are you ready?” A few minutes had passed, and Edmund now stood in front of the group with a bored expression.

“Ready as we’ll ever be.” Monique replied.

“Good. Go suck some blood.”

The vampires dashed up the stairs, eager to get this challenge over with. There was a poster on the wall that hadn’t been visible from the lower floor depicting colored arrows pointing in different directions. The vampires matched their keys up with their respective colors and headed the correct way.

It was Avery who saw her room first, a simple wooden door with a blue marker on it. The path to the door, however, was anything but simple. The door was on a wall without ladders or stairs leading to it. Avery stomped her foot at the sight of it.

“How the heck am I supposed to do that?!” She looked around the room for anything she could use to her advantage. When she saw the various small windows with narrow ledges, she sighed. “Of course. Make it hard on me.” She took off her heels and trudged over towards the windows. “Let’s get this climbing over with.”

As the drama queen struggled, another diva had found a small flight of stairs to climb. Monique wanted to just get the challenge over with, and she knew that her orange door must have been somewhere nearby. Eventually she realized that she was climbing the stairs of one of the castle’s towers. When she got to the top, she stepped out onto a balcony and looked down. The tower loomed over the film lot, and seeing how far away the ground was made her dizzy. She then noticed a small square of orange on a wooden door on the outside of the opposite tower…

But the only thing connecting the two towers was a narrow pole.

Monique looked down one more time, suddenly realizing that Chris was just cruel enough to do this to her. Somehow, she was going to have to cross the gap.

On the other side of the castle, Paul had found himself having to cross a completely different gap. He had to climb down a rickety ladder into the lower floors of the castle, where he easily found his green door. Unfortunately, it was blocked by a large gap in the stone floor. At the bottom of the gap was a pool of water. He had no idea what was in there, but there were air bubbles rising to the surface and he wasn’t willing to risk getting eaten.

It was time to improvise. He had learned from camping so many times that using your resources could get you out of a lot of tricky situations. He scanned the area to see if there were any objects he could use. The only thing he could find was the unsteady ladder, made of two long sticks sloppily connected with smaller pieces of wood. Paul laid the ladder down flat and tried to push it out over the gap, hoping maybe he could crawl across it. No luck.

He pulled it back in and began trying to break it apart. Some of the more rotted steps snapped easily, but that made him worry about the long sticks he was struggling to free. Could one of them support him without breaking in half? He snapped off the last step and picked up one of the long poles. It might have been dangerous, but it would have to do.

Paul had tried the high jump in gym class once. It had been an absolute catastrophe that led only to extreme embarrassment and a sprained ankle. He had nightmares about that incident that he had no desire to relive, but he needed to finish the challenge.

The Boy Scout gripped the pole in his hand so tight his knuckles turned white. He then backed up against the far wall and began to run at the gap. At what he hoped was the right time, he grabbed the stick with two hands and jabbed it into the ground, using it to throw his weight. Suddenly, he was flying.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion as Paul flew through the air. Below him, the water splashed and the creature snarled at him. The floor on the other side of the gap was so close, but so far away. He ended up missing the edge by a hair and plummeting towards the water below. He reached out for something, anything to save himself, and managed to grab onto a stone that was sticking out of the wall. The sound of an animal’s jaw snapping shut rose from below him, and he gripped onto that stone for dear life.

“Thank you so much for faulty castle construction.” The do-gooder muttered under his breath, looking up to see if he could manage to survive this.

Above him, another stone jutted out of the wall. The Boy Scout stretched his arm to grab onto it, and then managed to shift himself so he could use the lower stone as a foothold. It was just rock climbing back to the top. He was going to make it! It was a slow process, but eventually Paul crawled out of the gap and collapsed in a heap in front of the door. He took a moment to recover from that adrenaline-fueled journey, and then took out his key and fangs.

When he opened the door, he found Irina sitting on a window ledge on the other side. “It’s about time.”

Paul almost collapsed again. “…Am I in the wrong room?”


“Then why are you here?”

“I have connections.” The model gave him a wink, but Paul just continued to stare. She pointed to the fangs in his hand. “Well, you’re not going to be able to bite me acting like that.”

“Oh. Right.” Paul walked up to her and held up his fangs. In the least convincing voice possible he said, “Argh. I’m a vampire. Let me have your blood.”

Irina rolled her eyes and grabbed the collar of his shirt. “I think you’re going about this the wrong way.” She pulled him down closer until they were eye to eye. “I believe Chris’s instructions were to ‘put on a show’.”

Paul swallowed nervously. “So…?”

“So we’re going to put on a show.”


“By doing what they do in the Daylight movies.”

Paul shrugged. “I never saw them.”

Irina smirked. “I’ll give you a hint.” She pulled him even closer before she whispered, “They make out.”

Before Paul could react, Irina had him in a lip lock.

Confession Cam

Irina: “Paul would never fight me, so he couldn’t be a violent vampire. He’d already obliviously burst into the room, so not a sneaky one. Romance seemed to be the obvious choice. Let him be the good vampire. Plus, Donna did suggest I make it up to him.” She held back a laugh. “And what guy wouldn’t want the reward of an attractive girl kissing him?”

Monique: “Oh, what’s that? Is that the sound of teenagers with uncontrollable hormones?”

“Who convinced me that signing up for this show was the best way to make money?”

Angel stared at the yellow door in front of him. It seemed like it was so within reach… if not for the snake pit in front of it.

“Better yet, who designed this stupid castle?!” There was a ladder on either side of the pit, though if he climbed in there’d be no turning back. The snakes seemed harmless, so maybe if he just walked quietly enough he could manage to make it through.

Angel didn’t allow himself to think for very long about the idea. Rationalizing would lead to giving up on the snake pit. It wasn’t until he was all the way down the ladder that he realized how bad of a move it had been. As soon as he made contact with the ground, the snakes started to slither around his feet. They didn’t look particularly angry, maybe just curious, but he wasn’t going to take any chances. He moved slowly towards the ladder, making sure not to kick any snakes in the process. One particularly large serpent had wrapped itself around his legs, slowly squeezing them together. He was only feet from the ladder when he found himself unable to move any farther.

The pyromaniac sneered right at camera. “Well, now what?” He waited a moment to see if maybe somebody would come to his rescue, but no luck. He was going to have to fight the snakes.

A few floors higher, Sebastian stood at the end of a narrow hallway, the black door on the opposite side. He would have made a run for it if not for the fact that there were mysterious black dots scattered seemingly randomly across the walls. He had no idea what they were, but there was no way they could be good. He had decided to sacrifice his shoe to identify the danger. He chucked it down the hall, but it never hit the ground. Instead, it came in contact with a once-invisible red beam and was burnt to a crisp.

“Lasers?” Sebastian crossed his arms with a smirk. “I have this one figured out already.”

The laser the shoe had hit was in the space between two dots on opposite walls. He just needed to make sure he avoided any area where dots were directly opposite one another. He began army crawling on the ground, sliding under the lasers for a few feet. When he came to a pair of black dots, he slowly pushed himself up so he was on his hands and knees. He crawled over the next beam, then hopped over the next one. It only took a few more agile moves for him to reach the end of the hall. He unlocked his door with a satisfied grin, knowing that he had just passed what Chris probably thought would be an extremely difficult challenge. Now to get this vampire thing over with…

When he opened the door, Sebastian saw that Chris had managed to throw one more curveball at him in the form of one of his teammates.

“What are you doing here?”

“Not even a hello?” Donna rolled her eyes. “You really should have been expecting this.”

“How am I supposed to win if you’re on my team?” Sebastian questioned, clearly angrier at the idea of losing than the fact that she was here.

“No, the correct question is how are you supposed to lose?” He paused, trying to process what she was saying, and Donna snapped her fingers. “Let’s get going with the whole vampire thing.”

“Fine, fine.” Sebastian pulled the fangs from his pocket and approached where she sat on a wooden crate. He leaned over to try to plant the bite, but she had escaped before he knew it. “Donna, what are you doing?!”

“Did you really think I’d make this easy for you?” Donna asked.

Sebastian sighed and stomped over to where she stood. She tried to run again, but he grabbed her by the back of the jacket and yanked her back to him. When she yelped, he laughed. “Did you really think I’d make it easy for you?” He held his arm in front of her neck and popped the fangs into his mouth. When he leaned over to bite her, she leaned upwards.

“Hey, here’s a hint,” She whispered. “The camera’s on the left wall and can’t see me talking right now. Chris said to make it look good, so you’re not going to get any points if you bite me already.”

“What do you expect me to do?” He muttered through the fake teeth.

“Fake it.” Donna then squirmed out from his arm and rushed across the room. Confining them to such a small space was a terrible idea that assured horrible results, so she was going to have to make the best of it. She glared up at the camera in the corner of the room. “You know, this was really sucky challenge planning on your part, Chr-AH!”

Sebastian trapped her against the wall, eyes narrowed in fake rage. “Just stay still, would you?”

“Why should I?”

“Because I’m a vampire!”

Donna laughed in his face. “You have nothing on Edmund Sullen.”

“Oh, really?” Sebastian leaned in and kissed her harshly on the mouth, the fake fangs still in. Donna seemed frightened, even disgusted at the situation, but when she tried to push him away he wouldn’t move. She continued shoving him in the shoulders and the chest, but the gambler didn’t budge. She knew something like this was what Chris wanted, but did it really have to be so sickeningly aggressive? Eventually he pulled away with a sinister grin. “Who’s worse than Edmund Sullen now?”

Donna put her hand up to her mouth and wiped something red from her lip. “Still you.” She spit some more red onto the ground, and then jabbed her finger at him. “You had better hope this is paint from your teeth and not blood or something!”

He tightly grabbed the wrist of her pointing hand and moved closer toward her on the side opposite from the camera. It made it look like he was trying to bite her, when really all he did was ask, “Why are you helping me?”

“You would’ve lost the challenge otherwise.” She muttered as quietly as she could.

“Why really?”

“So I don’t owe you.” When she said that, he planted the bite, leaving the two red marks on the side of her neck. Donna gave a mock expression of surprise to the camera. “Oh no!” Sebastian just ripped the fangs out of his mouth, throwing them onto the floor. Donna simpered. “Do you have any emotions other than anger?”

“Not when you’re around.”

Confession Cam

Sebastian: “If Donna thinks she got the best of me during this challenge today, she is absolutely wrong. Sure, I didn’t expect her there, but that didn’t throw me off as much as she thought it did. Unlike everybody else, I can handle her stupid commentary.”

Monique: “Guys, seriously, hormonal teenagers.” The designer shrugged. “Just sayin’.”

The camera switched to a shot of Edmund Sullen. He was still in the lobby, his posture stiff and straight as a board. His pale features were sitting in a perfect poker face.

“How will the vampires hold out?” He asked in a robotic monotone. “What will the wolves’ challenge be? Will the romance and rivalries continue? Find out after the commercial break.”

When he finished speaking, he gave the camera a blank stare. He didn’t blink and barely breathed, and it was like his eyes were staring right through the audience. The cameraman thankfully cut to the commercial.

Chapter Sixteen: Howl

“This is absolutely humiliating. Why did I have to be wearing a skirt?”

The camera was zoomed in close to Monique’s face. Her expression was one of utter disgust, her eyebrows knotted and her lips snarled. The shot panned out to reveal that she had a death grip on a pole lying horizontally over one hundred feet in the air. She had her arms and legs wrapped around this stupid thing for such a long time, and now she was only a couple of yards away from her door.

Monique continued inching her way along the pole, fully aware of the fact that if she let go she would probably fall to her death. She knew that most shows would have included a safety net with the distance, but Total Drama was not exactly quality programming. This gave her the motivation to reach the other side of the gap. Finally, the trendsetter was able to crawl off of the rod and onto a solid stone surface jutting from the tower. Monique got to her feet, elbowing the cameraman aside so she could attempt to unlock her door.

“I am not in the mood for games, so whoever my prey is had better be cooperative!” The dark-skinned girl wasn’t sure if she was talking to herself or the cameraman as she slid her key into the lock. She then burst through the door, eager to be done with her part of the challenge.

Isaac sat on the floor against the far wall, his eyes closed. He stretched his arms out at his sides and yawned.

Monique gaped. “Were… were you sleeping?”

“I was until you barged in here.” The troublemaker got to his feet and cracked his neck. “Stone is not a very good substitute for a mattress.”

“You were sleeping during the challenge?”

“How many times do I have to say it? Yes.” Isaac repeated. “You took too long.”

The trendsetter sneered. “Do you even know how hard it was to get here?”

“By the look on your face I’m guessing extremely hard?”

Monique rolled her eyes at him and pulled her fangs out of a pocket. Isaac laughed as she popped them into her mouth, experimentally clamping her jaw a few times.

“What are you going to do with those?”

“Bite you, of course.”

“Now that’s not good entertainment.” Isaac gestured to the camera on the wall. “I think you should try something a little less boring.”

“What were you expecting?”

“I don’t know, a hot vampire? Isn’t it the point for vampires to be sexy?”

Monique stared blankly as Isaac made an odd circular hip motion. As he continued to pelvis thrust, her expression went from blank to irritated, then irritated to furious. In a few quick movements her hand smacked against his cheek with a sickening crack. The troublemaker yelped, his hand rising to clutch his cheek. The fashionista grabbed the hand and bit him right between his thumb and his wrist. Isaac cursed and shook out his hand but it was too late. Monique had actually left a bite mark.

“You little-” The blond began spouting a stream of expletives. The fashionista just yawned.

“It’s not anything I haven’t heard before.” A door audibly unlocked across the room. She gave the camera a mischievous wave before exiting the tower, thankful that there were stairs this time.

Confession Cam

Isaac: “Doesn’t she know she wasn’t supposed to actually draw blood?” The slacker removed a bag of ice from his hand and showed the camera the crescent-shaped bite mark. “I’ve heard of battle scars, but this is just ridiculous!”

The door swung open from the downstairs room of the castle. Irina stepped out with a casual grin on her face, a pair of red dots on her neck indicating that her vampire had been successful. She found that a ladder had been set up for her to return to the front room of the castle. As she began to climb the ladder, Paul stumbled from the room. His face was flushed red and his eyes seemed glassy. He fixed the collar of his shirt and then continued after her up the ladder.

They walked in silence through the halls of the castle, which was awkward for Paul but rather funny for Irina. They were stopped, however, by what seemed like a disembodied voice.

“What happened with you two?” The model and do-gooder looked around for the source of the sound but could not find it. “Up here, geniuses, and don’t look up my skirt.”

Above them, Avery was balancing between two window sills, one bare foot on each. She had her arms outstretched to try to keep herself from falling, a heel in each hand.

“What are you doing?” Paul asked.

“Trying to finish the challenge. My door’s over there.” Not willing to risk moving her hands, Avery nodded towards her door. There was only one window sill separating her and solid ground.

“Is there any way we can help?” Irina offered.

“Yeah. Take my shoes.” The wedges hurtled down from above. Paul and Irina each caught one and then watched as Avery took a leap to the next windowsill. She caught her balance and then looked down at her teammates. “Be careful with those! They’re expensive!”

“Is that all you need?” Irina called up to her friend.

“I really don’t see anything else you can do except tell somebody if I fall.”

At that, Avery stretched to step onto the next ledge. Irina and Paul flinched as she hopped towards her door, fearing she would plummet to her death. The drama queen had lucked out, though, landing on her knees on the platform in front of her door. Her teammates walked away when she shot them a thumbs up. The diva took out her key and unlocked the door. She strutted into the room, fully confident in the challenge. She had seduction mastered.

“Oh, hey there!”

Avery frowned. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m your prey!”

Avery’s confidence crumbled. She had been assigned to bite Minerva.

“B-but you’re a girl.”

“Yeah.” The blonde nodded rapidly. “Why, is that a problem?”

“Kind of.” Avery glared up at the camera in the corner of the room. “Avery Dellcourte does not do girl-on-girl.”

“Ooh, that was harsh.” Minerva stated. “Understandable, but harsh.”

Avery popped her fangs into her mouth. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?”

“Well, I guess if I have to.” Minerva stood in place as Avery approached her. When the drama queen was too near, the loudmouth rushed off in the other direction. Avery groaned and ran after her. She chased the Emmy in circles around the room, shouting insults at her the entire time. Eventually the diva became sick of the games and chose to tackle the quirky girl to the ground.

“Finally!” Avery knelt on top of Minerva’s back, holding her arms down with her hands. “Do you remember if it had to be on the neck?”

“I’m not telling you!” The blonde exclaimed.

Avery rolled her eyes and used one of her hands to smother Minerva’s face onto the dirty floor. “How about now?”

“Doesn’t have to be on the neck but it’d probably look better.”

“Wonderful.” The drama queen kept Minerva’s face pushed down and flicked her blonde ponytail to the side. She touched the tip of her fangs to her shoulder just light enough to leave the two red marks. Avery got up and headed for the door, dropping her fangs onto the floor and examining her nails in the process.

“Let. Me. Go.”

Fingernails scraped against the stone floor as Angel scrambled to get out of the pit. A large snake had wrapped around him and was trying to pull him down, but he refused to be trapped there. He had not done well in the last few challenges, so this was going to be the exception. Of course, nature and Angel just never seemed to agree.

“Get off of me!” He tried to kick his legs to make the snake unwind from him. This didn’t work, but he dragged himself farther out of the pit. Once his legs were at the edge, he lifted them up and slammed them hard on the ground. This caused the snake to uncoil, hissing in irritation but slithering back into the pit. The pyromaniac waited for feeling to return to his legs and then leapt to his feet. “Finally!”

He took his fangs out of his pocket and set them in his mouth. Angel was on his toes as he unlocked the door, remaining vigilant as he slowly stepped into the room. His prey could be anybody. When he saw Risty sitting casually on the other side of the room, he knew he had made the right choice.

“You’re my vampire?” The athlete questioned.

“Looks like it.” The pyromaniac replied.

Risty got to her feet and cracked a few knuckles. “Let’s make this a good fight then, okay?”

Confession Cam

Angel: “I really wasn’t expecting Risty as my prey, but I’m glad I was being paranoid. That girl is tough!” The pyromaniac’s voice was played over clips spliced together of him and Risty butting heads. “She wanted a fair fight, since she’s a good sport or whatever. And if it stayed that way she would have won… but, of course, I didn’t exactly let it stay that way.”

The footage on the screen showed a flurry of hands and feet as the pyromaniac and jock dodged each other’s attacks. When it seemed like Risty had the upper hand, Angel hooked his foot around the back of her knee and tripped her. Her arms flailed at an attempt for balance and she fell, though Angel caught one of her arms on the way down. He planted the bite on her wrist and then helped her back up.

The shot then switched back to Angel in the confessional, grinning proudly. “Risty is one of the strongest players in the game. I think beating her should really give me an advantage.”

“Welcome back my wonderful undead nightmares.” Chris chuckled at the five triumphant-looking vampires standing in a line in front of him. “…Oh, and you guys.” To his right stood the prey, all looking rather unimpressed with the results. “How was getting the blood sucked out of you?”

“Humiliating.” Isaac groaned.

“Painful.” Minerva whimpered.

“I thought it was fun.” Irina shrugged, earning glares from the other four victims.

“Hey, where’s Edmund?” Minerva asked.

“He’s watching the footage from each of your deaths.” Chris explained. “He’ll get back to us with the results, but right now I need to start the next challenge-”

“Um, don’t you mean I need to start the next challenge?” Rachel Claire entered the room with a coffee in hand.

“Oh. Right.” Chris rolled his eyes. “We couldn’t get the actor who plays Daylight's werewolf Jason Brown for this half of the challenge, so Rachel Claire’s in charge.”

“It’s about time I get treated properly around here.” The reported scoffed, taking a sip of her beverage. “It’s the werewolves’ turn to sink their teeth into the prey. This challenge is pretty much a giant game of hide-and-go-seek. The prey and the vampires will be hiding around the film set and the werewolves have to catch them. They cannot hide inside any buildings or in the woods. If a werewolf manages to chase down their victim, they need to officially capture them by sticking one of these to them.” Rachel Claire held up a roll of paw print shaped stickers, holding back her laugh at the contestants’ unimpressed reaction.

“Sounds easy, right? Well, there’s more. For one thing, this round is timed. The wolves will have forty minutes to catch as many people as possible. Any prey or vampire left standing after the time is up will earn two points for their team’s highest scoring player. Another catch is that the wolves can catch players from both teams. Prey caught from the other team is three points, vampires from the other team and prey from yours are each worth two points, and vampires from your team are worth one. Keep that in mind once time starts getting low. The player with the highest score wins. However, if somebody puts on a good show in the challenge I, the wonderful judge that I am, can award them with five bonus points.”

“What are you looking for as ‘a good show’?” Allison asked.

Rachel Claire smiled. “I kind of like it when people play dirty.” She tossed a roll of stickers to each of the werewolves and then snapped her fingers. “Well, prey? Vampires? What are you waiting for? Go hide! You have five minutes before we release the wolves.”

The vampires and prey took a good look at the werewolves. Other than Allison, they were a pretty unimposing group. The challenge would be a breeze.

“-and the floor was so dirty, but she just pushed my face into it. I’m surprised I don’t have a big black mark running up my cheek.”

“You look fine.”

Minerva and Monique had taken cover behind the building where the music videos had been shot. They sat on the pavement leaning against the building, unaware of how much time had passed since they left the castle.

“It was terrible!” The talkative blonde whined. “I think I was attacked-”

“Minerva, I don’t get why this bothers you so much.” Monique interrupted. “You said you get bullied all the time!”

Minerva’s mouth snapped shut. “Well… yeah, but-”

“But nothing. What do you do when somebody bullies you about your sexuality?”

“Um… usually I’ll ask them to stop.”

“And if they don’t?”

“I just kind of take it.”

Monique gave her friend a glare of disbelief. “So, let me get this straight. You want them to stop, but you don’t do anything to make them?”


The trendsetter sighed. “You can’t let people keep pushing you around! You need to learn to stand up for yourself!”

“I would, it’s just-”

“What are you going to do if somebody starts pushing you around here? Just let them?” Monique crossed her arms. “This is exactly what happened with you and Elena. Everybody can see that, and you’re just going to get used again.”

Minerva looked away in shame and was for once speechless. Monique had no idea how right she was.

“Are you two done here?”

The two Emmys gasped at the new voice and realized that Allison was standing just a few feet away. They tried to run but she grabbed them both by the backs of the shirts.

“So that’s two points for you,” The daredevil put a sticker on Monique’s arm and let her go. “And three points for you.” She did the same with Minerva, a grin on her face. “I’m willing to bet I’m already in the lead.”

Allison marched in the other direction and Monique stomped her foot.

“Ugh! One of these days I’ll actually do well in a challenge!”

“Is it okay that we’re here?”

“I don’t see anybody stopping us.”

Ophelia and Victor walked down the steps to the Team’s Choice Awards amphitheater arm in arm.

“You don’t think we should be doing the challenge?” Ophelia questioned.

“Nah.” Victor waved his hand. “Wes has it covered for the wolves. Plus, our teammates are pretty fast. I’m sure none of them have been caught yet.”

“You’re sure?”

“Positive.” The actor assured. He started to step onto the stage, but Ophelia stopped. “What’s wrong?”

“The broken stars don’t make you sad?” Ophelia detached herself from Victor and walked in front of the stage. She stared at the smashed stars of the eliminated contestants with a mixed expression. Victor went to stand near her.

“They were eliminated for reasons. You didn’t even like most of these people-”

“But what about Robert or Zack? They didn’t deserve it.”

“You voted for Zack.” Victor pointed out.

“Because you told me it was the right thing to do.” Ophelia insisted. “If I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t vote for anybody. I hate seeing people get voted off.”

“It’s part of the game, Ophelia. It has to happen. I’m sure only the person who deserves it will get voted off today.” He took her hands in his and stepped close to her. “And you have no reason to worry because it’s not going to be you.”

“It’s not me I’m worried about.” The artist’s voice was quiet, almost ashamed. “I just don’t want you to leave.”

That was when they heard somebody start running down the stairs. They didn’t break eye contact with each other, but heard the other person stop.

“What are you guys doing here?!” Sebastian rushed up to Ophelia and Victor. “You know you’re supposed to be doing the challenge, right?”

“See, you’re not going to have to worry about me leaving.” Victor said, giving Ophelia a smile. “I have Sebastian on my side.”

“You promise?” Ophelia asked.

“Of course I promise.”

“Oh, isn’t that sweet.” Sebastian rolled his eyes. “Now you guys need to get out there and catch some Oscars. We’ve lost three challenges in a row, and we can’t afford a fourth.”

“You don’t trust your performance as a vampire to hold up?” Victor asked.

“Just go and at least try to win.” Sebastian then ran to go find a hiding place.

“So what’s with the bite mark on your hand?”

“Long story.”

“That doesn’t look like an animal bite.”

“When I say ‘long story’, I mean I don’t want to talk about.”

“Have a little thing with Avery again?”

“Shut up.” Isaac shoved Angel, though he was laughing as he did it. “It was Monique.”

“A third girl?” Angel snickered. “You sure do get around-”

“In the vampire challenge. She thought the neck was too mainstream or something.” Isaac explained. “Where are we going anyway?”

"I know a good place to hide.”

Angel led his roommate through the sets knowing exactly where he was headed. They weaved through the buildings to keep out of sight in case one of the werewolves decided to actually try in the challenge.

“Wait.” Isaac stopped. “Do you hear that?”

They both stopped and backed up against the nearby building. They heard footsteps very close to them. They waited in silence until a familiar face ran in front of them breathing heavily. She stopped and caught her breath, and the pair of Oscars relaxed.


The nature lover looked over to see Angel and Isaac. “Oh, hey.”

“What are you running from?”

“I saw Edmund Sullen walking back towards the castle.” Cara lowered her voice. “Don’t tell anyone, but he really scares me. I kind of froze up and then ran from him.”

“Understandable.” Isaac agreed. “Do you need any help?”

“I think the only way you guys can help is by not getting caught.” Cara said. “I’m kind of on my own for this one.”

“Well, if you need us, we’ll be… um…” Isaac turned to Angel.

“On top of the jailhouse.” The pyromaniac finished.

"Okay then.” Cara headed off in the other direction, looking left and right for anybody. Isaac stared after her, and Angel laughed. Then the slacker noticed that his teammate’s paw print stickers were lying in the dirt. He grabbed the roll and rushed after her.

“Cara, wait!” She turned around and he held the roll out to her. “You dropped these.”

“Oh, thank you.” Cara took the stickers, but noticed Isaac’s hand in the process. She put the stickers in her pocket and then grabbed his hand with both of hers. “What happened?! What bit you?!”

“Monique.” Cara gave him a confused look and Isaac added, “In the challenge.”

“That looks like it hurt.” Cara ran her fingers on the red marks. “It kind of looked like an animal bite. I could’ve helped you if that was the case.”

“It’s too bad it isn’t.”

Cara released his hand and they stood in awkward silence. Eventually the nature lover started to continue walking. “I guess I’ll get going then.”

“Yeah. Sure. The challenge. Right.” He watched her retreat again and didn't stop staring until he heard another set of footsteps rushing in his direction. He looked to his right to see a figure running at him. “What…?” Isaac squinted to try and decipher who the figure was. They were coming close. “Is that…?” And they were fast. “Oh crap!” He turned sharply on his heel and ran towards Angel.

“What’s going on?” The Puerto Rican teen asked.

“Go, man, go!”

Isaac pointed in the opposite direction. His roommate didn’t question him, just started to run. After a minute, Angel looked over his shoulder to identify their pursuer. It was Wes.

“Nobody mentioned he was fast!” He shouted.

“Nobody’s ever seen him run like this!” It was only moments before Isaac had been grabbed by the hood. He fell to the ground, shouting for Angel to keep running. Wes stuck a paw print on the troublemaker’s shoulder.

“You were prey, right?” The musician asked.

“Unfortunately.” Isaac sighed. “You’re fast.”

“Thanks. I run track.”

“I don't think you were this fast when we were running towards Chef last challenge.”

“I was distracted.” Wes then set off after Angel, and Isaac knew that suddenly The Emmys had a chance at winning this challenge.

“Attention contestants!” Chris’s voice rang from a loudspeaker. “We’re fifteen minutes in, and already we have two werewolves with points. So prey and vampires, watch your backs!” The uncaught contestants shifted in their hiding spots. “Other wolves? You’re slacking!”

“Ooh, that’s us.” Ophelia grimaced at Victor.

“Let’s just hope one of the werewolves with points is Wes.” The drama king replied, leaning against a nearby building. “We don’t even know how many people are out here. We haven’t seen anybody!” He heard Ophelia suppressing a giggle. “What?”

She pointed at the top of the building. “Looks like somebody thinks we can’t see them.” A pair of olive skinned legs hung off the side of the wall. “Avery’s on the roof.”

Victor grinned. “How do we get up there?”

“It must be easy if she was able to do it.”

They circled the building looking for a potential path. Eventually they found a ladder attached to the side of the building a few feet above them, a knocked over trash can at the bottom. Ophelia and Victor put the trash can upright and then started to climb onto the roof. When they got to the top, they found Avery sprawled out on the opposite end trying to tan. She had her eyes closed and hadn’t noticed that they were there.

“Would you like to do the honors?” Victor whispered. Ophelia nodded and then crept up on the diva. She quietly took a sticker from the roll and put it on the drama queen’s leg. Avery immediately shrieked.

“Where did you come from?!”

“Surprise!” Ophelia burst into laughter, going over to hug Victor. “We got one!”

“I didn’t even hear you guys come up here!” Avery exclaimed, taking the sticker off of her leg and moving it onto her clothes. “You should never shock somebody while they're tanning. Some girls can get aggressive.” She sneered in Ophelia and Victor’s direction. “Of course, by your pastiness I can guess that neither of you has any idea what I’m talking about-”


Avery stopped talking and she, Victor, and Ophelia looked over the edge of the building to see Wes knock Angel to the ground. The musician put a sticker on the pyromaniac’s shirt, and Victor and Ophelia cheered. Wes looked up and gave them a wave before running off.

“Told you he’d do well.” Victor said to Ophelia. The actor and artist climbed down the ladder and walked away. Avery kept watching, though, as Allison rushed up to Angel from the opposite direction.

“What happened?” The daredevil asked, helping her friend to his feet.

“Wes. He’s fast.” Angel stated.

“I know. I couldn’t shoot him last challenge.” Allison stomped her foot. “He must be the other wolf with points! Who did he get?”

“So far, I think just me and Isaac. Who’d you catch?”

“Monique and Minerva.” Allison said. “Do you know if anybody else is caught?”

“Me!” Avery called down from the roof.

“What are you doing up there?” Angel asked.


The pyromaniac shook his head in her direction and turned back to Allison. “As far as I know, everyone else is still safe.”

“So other than the wolves, there’s just Paul, Irina, Risty, and Sebastian, right? Just like last challenge.”

“No, that’s not right.” Angel had counted on his fingers while Allison spoke. “There were ten people you could catch. Five of us were already caught, so you're missing one.”

The two tried to figure out who they were forgetting, trying to list off every member of The Emmys. This gave Avery time to climb down the ladder and meet up with her teammates. “It’s Donna.”

“Oh yeah!” Allison nodded. “I forgot about her.”

“How could you? She’s your key to getting the bonus points.”

“What are you talking about?” Angel questioned.

“It’s easy.” The drama queen put a hand on her hip. “Rachel Claire said she likes it when people play dirty. Allison’s biggest competition right now is Wes. If she finds Donna, she can use her as bait and make a scene that Rachel will like.”

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but that’s absolutely genius.” Angel admitted.

“It’s the tanning.” Avery insisted. “It fuels my brain.”

Then the challenge really began to heat up. Because there had never been a location specified for caught contestants to go, Angel and Avery stuck around to help Allison search for Donna. Meanwhile, Cara had managed to finally catch somebody when Risty ran into a dead end. Wes had found Irina and caught her as well, putting him in the lead and leaving only Paul left for The Oscars somewhere on the set. After some time had passed, the loudspeaker crackled to life.

“Hello there, competitors,” droned Edmund Sullen’s familiar monotone. “I have come to inform you that you have reached the half hour mark of the challenge. There are only ten minutes left. Congratulations to those who have managed to hide this long.”

Cara was frightened by Edmund’s voice, but kept her composure when Allison ran towards her.

“Cara, we have a plan!” The daredevil reiterated Avery’s plot to her teammate.

“That’s downright evil.” Cara commented.

“It’s Avery. What did you expect?”

“Good point.” The brunette agreed. “So which part of the film set do you want me to try and cover?”

“Pick one.” Cara turned to face the right side of the set, but in the process something caught her eye.

“Wait a second…” She rushed over towards the narrow gap between two buildings where she caught a flash of something that just didn’t blend in. When Cara got closer, she realized her suspicion was confirmed. A pair of dark blue boots stuck out from behind an indent in the side of one building. She turned around to call over to Allison, “I fooooound her!”

Donna peeked around the corner of the wall. “Oh no!”

She started getting up to run, but since she had been sitting there for half of an hour her legs were stiff. Allison caught up to her and grabbed her by the arms, pulling her out of her hiding place.

“You are such a pain, do you know that?” Allison asked, putting a sticker on the smart aleck’s jacket.

“I get that a lot.” Donna deadpanned. “Now since you’ve put a sticker on me could you let me go?”

“No, we’re using you for something better.” Allison then took a deep breath. “OH WEEEEEES! I HAVE SOMETHING YOU MIGHT WANT!”

It only took a few seconds for Donna to realize what Allison was trying to do. “Wait! Wes, don’t! I’m fine!”


Cara joined in on the screaming. Avery came back from where she was searching for Donna to join her. Eventually Wes ran out from behind a building.

“Go away! They’re just trying to make a scene!” Donna screeched.

“What took you so long?” Allison asked.

“I was catching Paul.” Wes said. “I don’t think there are any Oscars left hiding.”

“Then you have time to watch.” Avery grabbed onto the ends of Donna’s hair and pulled.

The smart aleck yelped. “I have the worst luck!” The drama queen yanked again, and Donna screeched and squirmed. Wes started to move to help her, but Avery held up a hand.

“Oh, no. You stay there or I’ll rip her hair out.”

Donna tried to protest as her hair was yanked. “She doesn’t mean it- OW! Okay, maybe she does- AH!”

“Oh, please.” The drama queen rolled her eyes. “One time I pulled out a girl’s weave. The thing was sewn onto her head and I ripped it out. I have no problem with this- HEY!”

Avery was suddenly pushed to the ground from behind, letting go of Donna’s hair in the process. Somebody stronger than Allison tore her grip from Donna. The smart aleck ran away, and Allison turned to face her attacker. It was Sebastian.

“Crap, I forgot about you!”

“That was a mistake-”

Before he could do anything else, a loud ringing sounded from the loudspeaker above. The microphone crackled, and Rachel Claire’s familiar laugh echoed through the film set.

“Looks like the challenge is over, and I liked what I saw. Come back to the castle and we’ll find out who’s getting sent to the Team’s Choice Awards tonight!”

The two teams lined up in the front room of the castle. Chris stood in front of them, Rachel Claire and Edmund Sullen at his sides.

“Welcome back, contestants.” He had a serious tone to his voice. “It’s been a big day. Edmund has made his decision as to who the best vampire is. Edmund?”

The “real” vampire stepped forward. “I looked at all the tapes, and you all gave different approaches to a vampire. There were romantics, monsters, and a little bit of something in between. The best vampire had to show a passion for what they were doing and entertain me at the same time. That’s why I chose Avery as the winner of the first half of the challenge.”

The Oscars congratulated Avery, who was genuinely shocked for once. She had thought her performance had been ridiculous.

“The second half of the challenge, however, was a different story.” Edmund stepped back and Rachel Claire stepped forward. “We tallied up the scores and they were pretty pitiful. Cara, Ophelia, and Victor, your scores were the lowest of the bunch and didn't count for your team. You respectively got three, two, and zero points. Allison, you scored the highest for The Oscars. By catching one vampire and two prey, you earned a total of eight points.” A few of her teammates muttered nice words to Allison. “Wes, you scored the highest for The Emmys. By catching two vampires and two prey you earned ten points. Add to that the two points earned by Sebastian never being caught while being the hero, and you have a total score of twelve. So you win the second half of the challenge fair and square!”

The Emmys cheered for Wes, though they knew they weren’t safe yet.

“So what’s the tiebreaker?” Monique asked.

Rachel Claire clicked her tongue. “Not so fast. I never said this challenge was a fair one. As I mentioned earlier, I like it when people play dirty. Allison following through on Avery’s evil plan was a display of pure animalistic ruthlessness. Totally in character for a werewolf and totally entertaining. So as the guest judge, I am going to award Allison with the five bonus points. That puts her score at thirteen, meaning The Oscars win the challenge!”

The team burst into cheers for their fourth consecutive win. The Emmys sulked. They had to lose another teammate.

Confession Cam

Avery: “I’d say this was a pretty successful day for me. I won the first half of the challenge, and helped Allison win the second. I think my teammates will finally see why I think I’m the best… it’s because I am!”

It was dark when the losing team filed into the Team Choice Awards amphitheater. Chris stood onstage looking disappointed.

“Welcome, Emmys, to yet another elimination ceremony. You guys really need to start doing better at challenges. But, hey, look at it this way: at least nobody’s hurt this time.”

“Oh, ha ha.” Donna sneered. “That was a bad joke.”

“Yeah, I know.” Chris smirked as the camera focused on the Red Carpet of Shame. “Today’s loser will be leaving in true funeral style. They’ll be riding in a high class hearse driven by undead king Edmund Sullen.” The door to the hearse opened up and bats flew out. Edmund, sitting stiffly in the driver’s seat and listening to depressing organ music, didn’t even react.

Chris held up a silver star of safety. “First star goes to… Wes. From the bottom to the top. Funny how things work. Next stars go to Monique, our fabulous vampiress, and Minerva and Risty, who were pretty good prey.” The three friends caught their stars, and tensions began to rise at who was still without stars. “This star goes to Donna, our true damsel in distress and… Sebastian, who despite being a hero at the end of the day still managed to get a vote against him.”

“I wonder who that would be from…” Sebastian narrowed his eyes in Donna’s direction, though she wasn’t paying attention. She was too distracted by the bottom two.

Victor and Ophelia sat side by side and starless. Victor looked terrified, his hand clamped around Ophelia’s. No matter who went home, this would be terrible for him. Ophelia, however, was completely silent. She sat up straight and didn’t even seem to be breathing, her eyes blankly staring off at a random point in space.

“The final star goes to…


Chris threw her the star, but it landed at her feet. The artist didn’t even try to reach for it. She still sat stiff and in silence as tears began to leak from her wide eyes. The second he saw her crying, Victor’s mouth was on hers, their hands still interlocked. Ophelia barely responded to the kiss.

“I’m so sorry.” Victor wrapped his arms around her in an emotional embrace. “I promised and I lied. I didn’t think this would happen. I’m so, so sorry.” Tears rolled down Ophelia’s face and Victor tried to wipe them off. “Are you going to be alright?” Ophelia didn’t answer, more tears pouring down her face. “Ophelia, are you going to be okay?” Her eyes were on his face, but she was somewhere else. Victor moved his hands to her shoulders. “Are you okay? Ophelia? Please, just tell me you’ll be alright.” She didn’t respond. “Ophelia, please-”

“Time’s up, lover boy.” Chef Hatchet appeared from behind the stage and pulled Victor towards the Red Carpet of Shame.

“Please, no! I need to stay for just a little longer!” Victor didn’t look away from Ophelia. “Please don’t make me go!” Chef threw him into the hearse and he leaned out. “Parting is such sweet sorrow!” The large man slammed the door on the actor's face and the car drove off.

When the hearse was out of sight, Ophelia’s tears turned to absolute sobbing. She collapsed to her knees and put her face in her hands, making a horrible noise behind her palms. Her teammates could only watch in horror, some calling her name but never getting an answer.

“Hey, nice job today!” Angel clapped Allison on the shoulder and she grinned with pride.

“It was nothing. I couldn’t have done it without help.” The pair had just returned from doing the dishes and now stood outside the open door to Allison’s room.

“None from me, of course. All I did was lose again.” Angel said. “The last time I did well in the game was the singing challenge.”

“You’re just saying that. You’re doing fine.”

“No, really. I haven’t done well since we wrote that song about Camille.”

Allison gave him a lopsided grin. “What does that say about us as a team?”

Angel smiled back. “I’d say-”

“Hey, Angel!” Isaac leaned out from his door down the hall, catching the pyromaniac’s attention. “Can I talk to you?”

Angel looked back to Allison. “Looks like I’m needed.” He left her standing alone outside her room.

Allison glared at Isaac, though he didn’t notice. She stomped into her room and slammed the door. She then fell back onto her bed, gritting her teeth to bite back her frustration.

“You don’t like Isaac, do you?” Avery asked from where she sat on her own bed with a magazine on her lap.

Allison noticed her roommate there and turned away from her. “It’s not that I don’t like him, it’s just-”

“You don’t like that Angel likes him better. I get it.” Avery closed her tabloids nonchalantly. “You know, I don’t like Isaac either. And I think we worked together pretty well in the challenge today…”

There was a pause as Allison let the underlying meaning of what Avery was saying sink in. Eventually she turned to face her roommate. “…I’m listening.”

A smirk curled onto Avery’s lips. “Good….”

The Emmys had lingered at the Team’s Choice Awards amphitheater, frozen by Ophelia’s behavior. Ten minutes had passed, but the artist was still on the ground bawling. One by one they began to leave. First it was Chris, then Sebastian, then Monique, then Risty and Minerva. Wes said something to Donna, but ended up leaving as well.

This left only the smart aleck to watch as her roommate slowly fell even farther apart. She slid onto the ground beside Ophelia, sitting there for a few minutes. Ophelia was a pale, weeping piece of a girl beside her, her hair thrown over her face and her body shuddering with sobs. Donna eventually pulled her friend towards her in an awkward attempt at an embrace.

Ophelia didn’t feel it. Ophelia couldn’t feel anything because Ophelia wasn’t present anymore. She didn’t know where she was or why she was there. She had lost who she was. All she knew was that something was missing.

“It… it’ll be okay.” Donna soothed the mess that was once her roommate. “Everything will be okay.”

She always was a good liar.

Episode Nine: Flashing Lights

Chapter Seventeen: Camera Shy

“Last time on Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment,” Rachel Claire stood in front of the camera doing her best Chris McLean impression. “There was more drama, more celebrities, and more romance… insert creepy laugh here.” The reporter gave the camera an eye roll and a sneer before continuing.

“The episode started off with another peek into Minerva’s blog show, which Monique quickly ruined with her talk about hormonal teenagers. Then, Isaac tried to get Angel to decide between Avery and Cara for him, and Ophelia dragged Victor onto the roof for a rather romantic sunrise. At breakfast, Avery realized that Allison was jealous of Isaac and Angel’s friendship, and Cara and Isaac made up. But none of that is really important, because once they were done eating they met up with a real superstar: me!

“I brought them to their vampires vs. prey vs. werewolves challenge, judged by special guest Edmund Sullen. In the first part of the challenge, the vampires had to bite the prey. Some, like Irina and Paul, took the romantic vampire approach, while others… well, not so much.” Clips of Monique biting Isaac and Avery shoving Minerva’s face into the floor played side by side on the screen. “The next part of the challenge was a game of werewolf hide and seek. Allison was the only Oscar player with a fighting chance, though her attempts were completely crushed by Wes's unexpected speed. Avery came up with a plan to use Donna, queen of bad luck, to throw Wes off of his game and get the attention of the wonderful judge… me again!

"Edmund chose Avery as best vampire, and even though Wes technically won the werewolf part, I gave the victory to Allison for her participation in Avery’s scheme. In the end, it was Victor and Ophelia in the bottom two despite the actor’s promise that they’d both be safe. Victor was voted off and literally dragged off the set, leaving Ophelia in hysterics. But enough about them, this is the episode celebrating the beauty of me and my magazine!” Rachel Claire gave the camera a moneymaking grin. “Who’ll survive a celebrity’s lifestyle? Find out this time on Total… Drama… Island: For Your Entertainment!”

There was somebody grabbing her arms and telling her that she had to go home. But that was not home. There was something missing. As they pulled her out of the dirt, somebody started to scream. It might have been her. She wasn’t really sure.

She kicked and thrashed as they dragged her away from the ground that had become a grave. A lone pale figure hovered behind the group, eyes peeking out from a curtain of dark hair. It was someone that she used to know, a ghost of sorts. She snarled in the ghost’s direction. If she felt bad for her, why wasn’t she doing anything? Why would she try to get rid of him? Why wouldn’t she bring him back?

They entered a building and a room lined with figures. She was trapped, surrounded in eyes on both sides. Soft brown ones, frightened bright blue, cold gray. All trailed after her as one of the men dragging her picked her up to climb the stairs. There was a pair of eyes missing, though. Prince Charming wasn’t there.

It’s a dream. Just a dream.

One of them was the big bad wolf. He had been taken away from her by somebody, she just didn’t know who. Why? Why would somebody turn her fairytale into a nightmare? She put the heels of her hands over her eyes and pushed on them, trying to block out everything that was happening. If she didn’t believe it then it wasn’t real.

Eventually she felt her feet hit the floor, a pair of hands at her sides trying to steady her. She risked opening her eyes for a second only to find that she was still there. The second they let her go she collapsed to the ground, hands clamping back over her face and her entire body curling in on itself. Why should she stand? Why was she here? They didn’t want her here, she was next to be eaten alive, she just wanted to wake up.

She just barely heard the door behind her close, somebody moving it gently. Looking between her fingers she saw the ghost wander across the room, pale as the dead. She watched her sigh, her whole body falling in the motion.


It was a word she recognized but didn’t know the meaning of.

“Ophelia, please, it’s going to be alright.”

She clenched her teeth and covered her eyes again, trying to pull her limbs even closer to her body. Just a dream. Wake up.

“He’s gone…” The sound that escaped her mouth was something strangled, something that had the life ripped from it. The words burned her tongue. “He’s gone… he’s gone, he’s gone…”

“Not forever, though. You’ll see him again.”

“He’s gone… he promised he wouldn’t leave but he’s gone… Why did he leave?”

“He didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t his fault-”

“Why did you make him leave?!” Her head whipped up, glare cold as ice.

“I don’t know who did it, but it wasn’t me.”

“Why, why, why, WHY?!” She scrambled to her feet, stumbling around the room in a dazed stupor. It’s just a dream it’s all just a dream wakeupwakeupwakeup. “Why did you vote him off?!”

“You know I never would vote for Victor-”

“How should I know that?! I thought I knew he wouldn’t be gone, where is he now?!” Her hands curled around a lamp and ripped it from the wall, flinging it at the ghost with her full strength. The ghost ducked away, falling onto the floor as the lamp shattered on the wall behind her.

“Ophelia, please stop!”

Wake up wake up. She shuffled through the drawers, chucking objects at the other being in the room. The sickening sounds of impact didn’t throw her off. Wake up please wake up. When her hands hit the bottom of the drawer she knotted her fingers in her hair, letting out a wail. It was followed by a choked whimper slipping from her throat.


“No. Get out.”

“Please, I just-”

“Get out.” She found her way to the door, opening for it for the other entity. She still lingered. “Oph-”

“Get out. Get out, get out, GET OUT!” She grabbed the ghost, nails dragging along her arms, and pushed her through the door. She slammed it behind her and her hands fumbled with the locks. Get out stay out please stay away. Once the locks were secure she slid down to the ground again, pulling at her hair and scraping at her scalp.

It’s only a dream. Wake up. Please wake up.

“Welcome, welcome, welcome to the RealityGossip Behind the Scenes Video Blog: Late Night Edition.” Minerva grinned at her video camera. “This, as I hope you all know, is my room, and it’s where we’ll be shooting this extended blog post for as long as we can! It’s been almost an hour since the elimination ceremony and… well, let’s just say it’s not going so well for The Emmys. Our token drama king has left the building.”

“I love how you just skipped right over the whole Ophelia situation.”

Minerva glared towards the source of the new voice. “I was getting to that!” She turned back to the camera. “Since this is a special video, I have a few cohosts. My lovely roommate Risty,” She turned the camera to show the athlete sitting in the corner of the room eating from a box of crackers. “And then there’s Monique… again…” She turned the camera to show the trendsetter sitting on the floor in front of Minerva’s bed.

“To be honest, she sort of invited herself.” Risty pitched in. When Monique sneered at her, she shrugged. “Not that we don’t like you or anything.”

“Whatever.” Monique gave her a-talk-to-the-hand gesture.

“Okay, back to the show now.” Minerva interrupted. “Our first guest is actually our only teammate willing to come here tonight. He needs some time to kill since his room’s rather lonely without a roommate-”

“I never said that!”

“Please welcome Wes!” The camera turned to show the musician sitting awkwardly in the corner of the room. “So, our good guy got to go bad in the last challenge when he really got into the role of the werewolf. Why didn’t you ever mention that you were so fast?”

“I've ran before. I guess nobody ever noticed.” Wes replied with a grin.

“Can I just say I was impressed?” Risty commented. “I thought I was fast, but I got caught.”

“By Cara.” Monique added, promptly getting a handful of crackers thrown in her face. “What? I’m just making a point.”

“Just like you beat the dead horse with your ‘hormonal teenagers’ point last blog?” Risty countered.

“Oh! While we’re on the subject of stupid teenagers,” Minerva pointed towards Wes, who looked around the room as though she should be pointing at somebody else. “What did you think about Avery’s plot at the end of the challenge?”

“Please don’t bring that up.” Wes rolled his eyes. “I was stupid for falling for it, she was evil for coming up with it, they shouldn’t have won, and I’m leaving it at that.”

“How’d you think that made you look?”

“I just said it: stupid. Not as stupid as when I was hanging upside down from a tree, but I think it takes second place.”

“And what’s all this I’m hearing about Bas swooping in and trying to be the hero at the end?” Risty asked. “I wasn’t there, but I’m guessing it was a surprise?”

“Oh yeah, I was shocked. I’d actually completely forgotten about him.”

“How?” Monique sneered. “Sebastian’s everywhere! He can have nothing to do with something but somehow be involved. It’s kind of scary.”

“Wait, so what did he do?” Minerva questioned, trying to ignore her friend’s very true rant. “Come in and get rid of Avery and Allison for you?”

“Ha, no way.” Wes shook his head. “He wasn’t there to help me. Sebastian hates me.”

“I’m sure he doesn’t. You’re not easy to hate.” Monique crossed her arms, for once not verbally tearing a teammate to shreds.

“No, he does.” Risty stated. “He’s mentioned it a few times. I have no idea why-”

“Okay, next question.” Minerva struggled to steer the topic away from Sebastian. Just talking about him made her shudder in her seat. “What’s your reaction to Victor’s elimination?”

Wes frowned. “Surprised. Sad. A bit ticked. He might have kind of been a jerk, but he was still my closest friend here.”

“But you’ll finally be able to sleep.” Monique remarked.

The musician didn’t laugh. “I guess.”

“Did you see the elimination coming?”

“Not at all. Actually, I thought he had some kind of mini-alliance with Sebastian. Guess not.” Wes’s turned from the camera, instead looking over at Risty and Monique. “I actually have no idea how it happened. Donna and I voted for Sebastian, and Ophelia and Victor definitely didn’t-”

“WHY?! Why did you vote him off?!”

Wes’s jaw snapped shut in response to the screams echoing from the hallway.

“I thought I knew he wouldn’t be gone, where is he now?!” The sound of Ophelia’s voice was muffled, all four Emmys listening in silence as it was accompanied by the rattle of something breaking. There were several loud thumps and the sound of shattering before Ophelia’s wails were accompanied by another voice.

“Ophelia, please stop!” Donna was desperate, her voice cracking as they heard more crashing. Ophelia continued wailing until the shouts turned to sobs. It was quiet for a moment, and the four Emmys exchanged expressions of fear.

Minerva put the camera on the desk, her shaking hands unable to keep it steady. “I… I think she stopped.”


“Oh, gosh, no she didn’t!” Minerva jumped at her teammate’s screech, falling off her chair. When she landed on the carpet, she scooted over until she was beside Monique, suddenly too afraid to sit alone.

“GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!” Ophelia’s voice was at its full power, probably carrying across the entire film set. Donna made noises of protest, but all her teammates heard was a door slamming shut. Risty, Monique, Minerva, and Wes stared at the door to Minerva and Risty’s room, nobody daring to be the first to speak.

“Do you think she’s okay?” Wes asked after another minute of silence.

“Donna or Ophelia?” Monique questioned, ignoring the frightened Minerva that was latched to her arm.

“Donna. Clearly Ophelia isn’t.”

“Who cares?”

Knock knock.

“Oh my god, it’s Ophelia!” Minerva screeched, her iron grip on Monique getting even tighter.

“I don’t think it is.” Risty disagreed. “Ophelia wouldn’t have knocked." The curly haired girl got up and headed towards the door, Minerva protesting the entire time. The athlete opened the door a crack, poking just her head through it. Donna stood in the hallway looking frazzled and downright miserable. “Oh, hey, are you okay?”

“I take it you could hear what was going on?” The smart aleck’s voice was quiet, her tone lacking its usual bite.

“How could I not?” Risty answered. “So are you fine?”

“I’m okay. Most of her throws missed.”

“Good. Nobody wants to see you in first aid again.” It was meant to be a joke, but Donna remained stoic. “Are you going to go back in there?”

“I can’t. She locked the door.” Donna fidgeted, running her fingers through her hair. “Actually, I was here to ask if you wouldn’t mind me sleeping here tonight. It doesn’t seem like she’s going to be letting me in any time soon.”

“I’d say yes, but I don’t know if you would want to…” Instead of explaining further, Risty opened the door all the way. The brunette peeked around her to see three more of their teammates inside. While Minerva and Monique just stared at her, Wes got to his feet the second he saw Donna in the doorway.

“Are you okay?” The musician asked.

“I’m fine. I’m not that fragile.” Donna’s eyes shifted back to Risty. “What exactly are you guys doing in here?”

The athlete smirked. “We’re filming for Minerva’s blog.”

“The RealityGossip Behind the Scenes Video Blog: Late Night Edition!” Minerva corrected.

“Yeah, that. Me, Minerva, and Monique are going to be filming as long as possible. Wes was our first guest, but Ophelia freaking out kind of stopped the interview.”

“Is this going on the internet?” Donna asked, gesturing towards the camera.

“Live feed, actually.” Minerva stated as Monique pushed her away.

“Then I guess I’ll find somewhere else to stay.”

“Maybe you could use Monique’s room?” Risty offered, turning around to look at the trendsetter.

Monique made eye contact with Donna and curtly replied, “No.”

The smart aleck started to walk away, clearly offended by the refusal. “I guess I’ll just sleep in the confessional or something.”

“Wait!” Wes darted after her, putting a hand on her arm in an attempt to make her stop. “You can sleep with me!”

“Ooooooooh.” Minerva broke into a mocking sing-song from back inside the room, Monique snickering along beside her.

“Not like that!” Wes glared over his shoulder at them. “Victor’s side of the room is empty. It’s a free bed, at least until Ophelia calms down.”

“I’d rather sleep in the confessional.” Donna kept walking, Wes instantly following.

“What? Why?”

“You’re a close male friend, I seem vulnerable, and this place is crawling with cameras and paparazzi. Rumors can tell some nasty lies.”

“Yeah, so?” They retreated down the hall, Risty closing the door behind them. Inside the room, Minerva was picking up her camera.

“Um, I don’t know if I’m sorry you had to see that or happy we got it on film.” She gave the gadget an awkward grin. “Whoops.”

“Well, you look cheerful.”

Irina quirked an eyebrow as Avery collapsed into the seat across from her the next day. The drama queen gave the model a roll of her eyes and started to peel the banana she had snagged from the kitchen.

“You act like I’m usually a ray of sunshine.”

“Well, you usually don’t walk in here looking ready to kill somebody.” Irina paused, and then corrected herself, “Actually, I take that back.”

Avery bit into her banana like she was imagining she was biting somebody’s head off. “You’re telling me you didn’t hear Ophelia last night?”

“I happened to bring a pair of ear plugs for times like this.”

The drama queen sneered and put on a fake innocent look, speaking in a mockingly high pitched voice. “It was hours and hours of ‘baaaawww Victor! Waaaahhhh I’m sad and lonely and absolutely insane, baaawwww’!”

“Just be glad she decided not to show up for breakfast.” Irina scanned the room discreetly. “Actually, most of The Emmys didn’t.”

“Maybe they all quit.” Avery looked over her shoulder to see that only Sebastian, Monique, and Minerva sat at The Emmys’ table. “It’d be real nice to have Risty out of here before the merge.”

“I’m sure that won’t be for a while. World Tour didn’t merge until, like, the final seven.”

“I can only hope that happens. I have a lovely list of people who I want gone before they can try to send me home.”

“I don’t know if I should be frightened by that or totally unsurprised.” Irina grinned.

“Don’t worry. You’re definitely not one of them.”

That was when Cara slid into the seat beside Irina, Avery making a sour face at the nature lover’s presence. The usually perky girl was missing some of her spunk, though, and Irina gave her an awkward shrug.

“Sorry that I only had one pair of ear plugs.”

“It’s fine. It’s not your fault she’s upset.” Cara’s eyes wandered to the fruit Avery was eating. “Hey, where’d you get that?”

The drama queen gave her a sneer. “I pulled it out my a-”

“The kitchen!” Irina interrupted, quickly slapping a hand over Avery’s mouth. “She got it from the kitchen. Right?” She glared at Avery, who reluctantly nodded.

“Huh. I guess nobody was feeling up to making breakfast this morning.” Cara commented.

“It’s not much of a breakfast when nobody was up before noon.” The model replied, disregarding Avery snarling about Ophelia from behind her palm.

“Good point.” Cara left the table as quickly as she appeared, heading straight for the kitchen. When she was out of earshot, Avery pushed Irina’s hand away from her.

“What was that for?!”

“Honestly, you need to just leave some people alone.” Irina ordered. “Cara’s a nice girl. You don’t have to be like that towards her just because she got the guy you want.”

Avery snorted. “You really think I want Isaac? If I wanted him I could have him.”

“If that’s what you want to believe, I’m not stopping you.” The blonde rolled her eyes. “Just leave Cara alone. As if it wasn’t bad enough that you secretly made out with her almost-boyfriend.”

“Oh, don’t even start with me on that topic.” Avery jabbed a finger at Irina, a mischievous smile on her face. “Who was the one knocking teeth with Captain America last challenge?”

The model held up her hands defensively. “It was for the challenge. Paul-”

“Everybody knows you’re attractive, Irina. There’s no need to prove it.”

“It was for his good, not mine.” She insisted. “I swear. I was just doing it to thank him for helping me with the paintball war.”

Avery’s teasing grin never faded as she continued eating her breakfast. “You can’t tell me you didn’t have some fun with it though.”

“You’re right. I can’t tell you that.” A smirk crawled onto her face. “The Boy Scout’s a good kisser.” Avery dropped her banana on the table and Irina started laughing. After letting her friend’s words sink in for a minute, Avery eventually joined her.

Confession Cam

Avery: “So Irina’s not on my Boot Off Soon List, but here are a few people who are.” Surprisingly, Avery pulled out an actual list and began to read from it. “Cara, who is rather useless and no fun, Allison for acting rudely towards me and so I can have my own room, Isaac for… well, everything, Risty because she’s scary good at challenges, Sebastian because he’s also scary good at challenges and a bit intimidating, Ophelia because she’s a whack job, Monique because she seems like she could try and steal my spotlight…” The brunette looked up at the camera and narrowed her eyes. “That’s just a taste of it. It’s pretty much everybody.”

Knock knock.


Knock knock.

“Opheliaaaa?” Risty stood outside of Room 208 with a bowl of cereal in her hands. “Ophelia, I know you’re in there.”

There was no answer.

“We all know you’re upset, so you don’t have to hide in there all day.” When the only response was another awkward silence, Risty sighed. “Well, if you’re feeling hungry I brought you some cereal. I know it’s a little late for breakfast… well, a lot late actually, but I figured you’d want some. And if you need somebody to talk to, I’m available, or I’m sure Minerva wouldn’t mind.”

As Risty waited for Ophelia to respond, the door to the neighboring room opened with a creak. Donna silently walked into the hallway with uncombed hair, dark circles beneath her eyes, and the same wrinkled clothing as the previous day on. Risty gave her a sympathetic glance.

“I take it she didn’t let you back in your room?” Donna just shook her head, and Risty’s concerned look turned to a smirk. “I thought you said you’d rather sleep in the confessional than-”

“Snicker all you want, this is not what it looks like, we are just friends, it was my best option.” Donna recited the words like a chant as she trudged down the hallway. A minute later, Wes exited the room and sent Risty an awkward grin.

“What she said.” He gave her an equally as awkward half-wave before following Donna down the hall.

When they left, Risty turned back to knock on the door one more time. “I’m still here, Ophelia. I think we’re the last people on the floor actually.” She waited again for an answer, and when she didn’t receive one sat on the floor, the bowl of cereal in her lap. “I can’t even imagine how bad you feel right now, but I’m trying to. I know why you’re upset, but I think the eliminations have a bad effect on all of us. Remember seeing Cara after what happened with Camille?”

Risty paused to think, resting her chin on her hand. “We had only known each other for a few challenges, but when Zack left I was really upset. I felt so guilty because I had voted for him. It’s like maybe I could have done something to save him, but instead all I did was help him get voted off. I blamed myself. Sometimes I still wonder what would have happened if he hadn’t been eliminated. After only knowing each other for a few days, I had already felt like he and I were just meant to be friends. We had a connection. You and Victor were a lot closer than Zack and I, so I can’t imagine how upset I would be if I were in your shoes. I know a few people think that your whole relationship wasn’t real because it was so fast, and I’m sure you think that everybody thinks that you’re being crazy, but if it helps I definitely don’t think that.”

Risty sat straight up when she heard the lock on the door click. “…Ophelia?” The door swung open just a crack. Risty stood up and approached the door, tentatively putting a hand on it. “Is it okay if I come in? I brought cereal.”

When she didn’t answer, Risty took a leap of faith and stepped into the room.

After a few hours passed, interns ushered the cast mates from their various locations in the hotel to the lobby. Even Ophelia was forced from hiding, sitting quietly in the corner of the room with her knees to her chest and trying to ignore the cold glances in her direction. There they all waited for something to happen. Maybe Chris barging into the room adorned in a themed costume? Rachel Claire in a stereotypically grouchy mood with a coffee in hand? A celebrity cameo?

“Okay, what gives?” Monique remarked after several minutes of waiting.

“Maybe they forgot about us?” Paul suggested. “Or there’s a surprise that they’re working on?”

“I don’t know, but I’d prefer not to wait around forever.” Angel got up from his perch on the back of one of the armchairs and walked for the front door. “Anybody up for seeing if that milkshake machine works on the diner set?”

The pyromaniac pushed the double doors open only to be greeted with a flurry of flashes. A barrage of paparazzi had gathered at the front of the building and swarmed the Oscar.

“Angel! Over here, Angel!”

“Mr. Dominguez! Upper left, please!”

“Look, behind him! I think I see the others!”

As the paparazzi pushed to get into the building, Angel closed the door on them and turned around to face the others.

“I think I found our challenge.”

“Gee, you think?” Rachel Claire emerged from one of the hallways leading into the lobby with her usual coffee cup in hand. She shoved Angel aside and threw open the double doors despite the competitors’ protests. At the sight of her, the paparazzi shushed. “That’s better.”

The contestants gaped at the scene. “How did you-?”

“These people are my staff!” Rachel Claire announced, baring her teeth in a proud smile. “And they’re also a big part of the challenge you’ll be competing in tonight.” She casually took a sip of her coffee and then turned around, lifting her hands in the air. At the motion, the paparazzi started shifting. Soon the crowd split in half, the image appearing as though Rachel Claire had parted the seas. With a flip of her hair she gestured to the contestants. “Come with me!”

The group exchanged hesitant glances before choosing to do as she said. Some of the paparazzi reached out for them as they passed, but none dared to touch because Rachel Claire was in the lead. She let out a low laugh as she confidently marched through the crowd. “Oh, how I love being in charge.”

Rachel Claire led the cast to a large, rather nondescript building beside the warehouse used for the music video challenge. When she opened the door to lead them inside, they were faced with the sight of several odd looking people. Their array of wildly styled hair and frighteningly colored outfits made them look like an army of clowns. The group was fronted by a polished man in an all-black wardrobe with rather stylish facial hair. Rachel Claire joined the group, exchanging air kisses with the man and then facing the contestants.

“Your challenge for today is a RealityGossip red carpet appearance.” She explained. “You will walk the red carpet tonight and then will do a press conference to promote the show in front of Major City’s best celebrity stalkers and fans. The winning team will be determined both on looks and treatment of the reporters and their questions. I know some of you are probably thinking of blowing off the questions, but trust me, you’ll want to reconsider since there’s a twist: the bottom two and elimination tonight will be based half off of your votes and half off of the fans’.”

“Oh, darling, that’s so typical of you.” The leader of the strange looking group hung off of Rachel Claire’s shoulder, his movements flourished with a feminine hand wave. “But you didn’t mention us.”

“I’m getting there.” Rachel Claire sneered. “Everybody, this is Ramzi, RealityGossip’s resident style king. He’s in charge of the styling team who will be attempting to make you guys look attractive for tonight. I don’t think that’s possible for some of you, so hopefully you’ll look vaguely attractive when they’re done with you.”

“Oh, please, I don’t think I’d ever let somebody leave my chair looking unattractive.” Ramzi insisted. “We’ll make you all gorgeous. Don’t worry.” As he spoke, his crew began to step closer and closer towards the contestants. Rachel Claire stepped off to the side, exiting the room with a wave.

“Good luck!”

Once the door shut, the wardrobe crew attacked.

“Oh, honey, I know you’re into that earthy thing, but are you aware of the existence of moisturizer?”

Cara had found herself shoved into a chair by a skinny woman with baby pink hair. The woman had taken a sketch of somebody that looked like Cara in an orange dress from her pocket, taping it to the mirror in front of her.

“You would look so much better if you just wore some eyeliner.” The stylist took out a makeup brush and stared at it tentatively. “You have the most beautiful eyes.”

“Her image is all natural,” commented the older stylist who was playing with Angel’s hair in the chair beside Cara. “Everything you do to her has to be subtle.”

“Ugh, fine.” The pink-haired woman began to put powder on Cara’s face. The nature lover looked over to the other stylist and gave her a grateful smile.

“Thank you so much.”

“Don’t worry about it.” The smile she gave Cara was accented by her deep purple lipstick. “I know you don’t want Isaac to lose interest.”

“Oh, of course I don’t.” Cara turned away from her, a blush heating up her face. Beside her, Angel raised an eyebrow, trying to hide the fact that he was eavesdropping.

“Baby, don’t be embarrassed.” The pink-haired stylist put a gentle hand on Cara’s shoulder, distracting her as she jabbed at her with a stick of eyeliner. “I’ve been keeping up with the episodes. Your crush isn’t exactly a secret.”

“It stopped being a secret when you kissed him,” pitched in the older stylist.

“I probably shouldn’t have done that. We haven’t talked about it since.” Cara sighed. “Maybe he just doesn’t know what to say. He probably doesn’t want to completely deny me in front of the cameras.” The two stylists sighed along with her, the three females lost in a dreamy trance.

“Isaac doesn’t want to deny you.” Angel interrupted their stupor.

Cara stared at him. “…What?”

“Isaac hasn’t been avoiding you because he wants to deny you. He’s just had to work some things out.” Angel explained. “And now that he’s figured it all out, he’s not really sure how to approach this whole relationship thing.”

“Are you… are you sure?” Cara’s large eyes had gone even wider.


The nature lover beamed, dodging her stylist and leaning across the chairs to hug Angel. “You don’t even understand how much you’ve made my day right now! You really are an angel!”

“No problem.” Angel winced at the cheesy line. “Now please don’t ever say that again.”

Allison wandered through the warehouse of clothing racks searching for anything she liked in her size. Ramzi had picked out a dress for her, something tight, black, and one-sleeved, and it had only taken a few combat boot themed threats to convince him that she could pick out her own wardrobe. It turned out Rachel Claire’s style guru was reasonably afraid of getting footprints on his face.

After a few minutes, the daredevil began to hear skittering noises nearby. She glanced a few clothing aisles over to see Paul standing with his hands buried in the racks of fabric. She watched in silence as he fidgeted with the clothes, moving the hangers back and forth for no reason. From what she could see of his face, he looked dazed and completely unaware of what he was doing.

Allison approached her friend quietly, trying to stay calm when she asked, “Are you okay?” Paul literally leapt a foot off of the ground. “Hey, calm down! It’s just me.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Paul rubbed at his arm, not making eye contact with Allison. “I didn’t see you there. I’m perfectly fine. What’s up?”

“I should be asking you that.” The goth leaned against a clothing rack. “And don’t say you’re fine because you look like crap.”

“Ramzi wouldn’t like to hear you say that.” Paul tried to laugh, but it came out choked. Allison furrowed her brow and the Boy Scout slumped. “Okay, fine, I’m nervous for the challenge.”

“Why? It’s pretty much just a repeat of the first episode, isn’t it? We get asked questions by nosy reporters.”

“No, it’s different.” Paul spoke in a hushed voice, his eyes trained on the floor. “This time it’s not video cameras. It’s for a magazine, so there’ll be photographers.”

“Yeah, and?”

Allison watched in confusion as Paul crouched behind the clothing rack, looking up at her with frantic eyes. “I was hoping this wouldn’t come up, but I kind of have a phobia.”

“Of reporters?” Allison questioned when he paused.

“No, of flashing lights. Seriously, it says I have selaphobia on the papers I filled out for the show. Flashes of light make me panic.” Paul admitted, his voice quick and quiet. Allison gave him a compassionate smile.

“Well, that’s fine. I think everybody has an irrational fear. Like, everyone thinks I’m totally fearless, but I’m freakishly afraid of dogs.”

“It’s not irrational, though.” Paul corrected her. “My best… my ex-best friend had photosensitive epilepsy. A few years ago we received an award for Boy Scouts and we had to get our picture taken for a few newspapers.”

“I take it he had a bad reaction?” Allison asked.

“You could say that-”

“YOU GET BACK HERE!” Paul’s words were cut short by a holler from Ramzi that carried through the entire warehouse.

“Oh please, like I’m going to listen to you!” The do-gooder and daredevil looked up to see Avery stomp into the room wearing nothing but her bra and miniskirt.


“I think I know what I look good in, thank you very much!” She gave Ramzi the finger before she started to walk across the room. A smirk appeared on her face when she saw Allison and Paul. “Well, look who I found.” She pointed at Allison and gave her a knowing glare. “We need to talk.”

Paul’s attention was grabbed. “What is she talking about-?”

“Nothing. Give me a minute, Avery.” Allison kept her back to the half-naked drama queen, putting a hand on each of Paul’s arms. “Listen, your fear is totally normal. Everybody has that one thing that makes them panic. I know you don’t like to look weak if you don’t have to, but I think you should tell somebody else what’s going on in case something happens.”

“That’s kind of why I told you when you asked.”

“I mean somebody else.” Allison clarified. “I can’t tell you what’s going on yet, but I’ll probably have to stay with somebody else on the red carpet. You need to find another person who’ll help you out. Somebody you trust. Ask Irina maybe. She’s good with cameras.”

Paul brushed her hands off of him, his concerns clearly not for himself anymore as he glanced over her head at Avery. “What are you doing with Avery, Allison? Do you have an alliance with her or something?”

“You’ll find out eventually.”

“Does Angel know?”

“No. He doesn’t need to know anything about this.” Allison’s eyes were desperate. “Now please don’t say anything to anybody. You’re my friend, so you’ll find out what’s going on, just not yet.”

Paul hesitated a moment before giving her a trusting nod. “Okay.”

Confession Cam

Paul: “Allison was definitely right when she said I don’t like to look weak. I always know what I’m doing. I just happen to have one big weakness that hopefully I can overcome tonight. I told Irina what’s going on and she reacted as sympathetically as expected. She's fine with staying with me for the challenge. I feel kind of ridiculous asking her to do this, but it’s better than causing a scene.” The Boy Scout rested his chin on his hand. “I just wish I knew what was going on with Allison. She hates Avery, so I can’t imagine her having something private to talk about with her. And if she’s not telling Angel then it has to be something serious.”

“Welcome, everybody, to a RealityGossip red carpet event!”

A woman with a raspy voice stood in front of the camera. Her face looked frozen into a smile, and her blonde bob was hair sprayed to perfection. She was on the edge of the red carpet surrounded in other reporters and fans. Behind her, a girl was holding a sign above her head that read ‘Marry Me Isaac!’

“I’m Mona Brooks reporting live from the carpet. Today, you guys are in for a treat: the cast of Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment is here! Those screwballs are actually doing a challenge here tonight. That’s right, the cast will actually be attending a press conference tonight. You’ll see them interacting with a few stars, including me, sassy blogger Chavez Milton, fashion guru Ramzi, and more!” A limousine pulled up at the end of the carpet and Mona grinned. “Oh, here’s the queen of the night! Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Rachel Claire!”

Rachel Claire stepped out of the limo wearing sky high heels and a barely there gladiator-themed outfit. She walked the carpet like a true professional, pausing just long enough for photos but avoiding any interviews. She eventually ended up at Mona’s side and was handed another microphone.

“Hello, RealityGossip Editor-in-Chief Rachel Claire here and I think we have a lot in store for you tonight.” She grinned at the camera, her signature hair bouncing around her face. “We have the remaining fourteen For Your Entertainment contestants here for interviews, as well as host Chris McLean. That’s right, you’ll get to see all your favorites: from scheming Sebastian to iridescent Irina, mouthy Monique to compassionate Cara, they’re all here!”

Another limousine pulled up and Chris McLean stepped out of it. He looked absolutely ecstatic to be there, which Mona and Rachel Claire couldn’t help but notice.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Chris at an event like this.” Mona Brooks commented. “He doesn’t look a day over ninety four.”

Rachel Claire nodded. “He’s been taking a lot of time for his favorite person: himself. You can even tell that he doesn’t care that much this season. Seems all he wants is the money.”

“Really, though, what's that outfit choice?” Mona grimaced. “He couldn’t have at least cleaned up a little?”

Many of the fans leaned over the velvet ropes holding them back to grab at Chris or attempt to get an autograph. He stopped for one or two reporters but was off the carpet in a few minutes, exiting into the building.

“That was fast.” Mona commented.

“I think he has a lot to work on inside.” Rachel Claire stated. “Either that or he’s looking for a mirror.”

That was when another limousine pulled up at the curb, this one much longer than the first two. The crowd began to roar around the reporters, all aware of exactly who would be inside. Mona’s permanent smile grew impossibly larger. She tried to say something, but was drowned out by the screaming fans. The camera turned to show the door to the limo opening. Monique was the first to step in front of the crowd, looking as comfortable as could be with all the attention. She posed for a few pictures as Minerva exited the vehicle, walking past her and getting caught up by the first reporter, a man with deep blue hair and a nerdy sweater on.

“Looks like they’re already giving interviews!” Mona shouted over the crowd. “I guess we’ll be heading down there to try and chat! I’ll be seeing you later tonight!” She gave the camera a dramatic wave before she and Rachel Claire joined the other reporters waiting for the cast.

Confession Cam

Monique: “It was nice being the first on the red carpet and knowing nobody else would be in my pictures. I think the photographers loved my dress, a Monique Darling original with accessories and hair by Ramzi.” She winked at the camera as though she was giving an advertisement. “Just look me up to find my website, fans.”

Minerva: “I. Met. Chavez. Milton!” The blonde squealed. “Seriously, he’s like half the reason I accepted the video blog from Rachel Claire! He’s, like, my blogging idol! I like him possibly even more than I like Helen D’Angelo!”

“Hey, thanks for doing this.”

“It’s no problem. Really.”

The entire limousine had been emptied and the cast was swallowed by the crowd of reporters. Irina had linked her hand with Paul’s to keep him close by her side as they faced the flashing lights.

“I owe you big time.” Paul muttered to the model, smiling but subtly flinching as a few cameras took pictures of them. His heartbeat was racing and spots filled the corner of his eyes, but he was able to pretend he was fine. “Anything you want. Really.”

“It’s what a good friend would do.” Irina kept changing her facial expression and angle for the photographers, the model in her breaking out. Paul was only a prop as he stood stiff as a statue beside her, his smile unmoving but his hands shaking. “But if I think of something I’ll consider the offer.”

“Well, look who we have here!” A slim Asian reporter approached the beauty queen and Boy Scout, a camera following her. “Paul Adams and Irina Rostropovich, everybody! And my, my, you guys are looking fine tonight.”

Irina was quick to answer the reporter, Paul staying by her side with a smile on his face. He scanned the crowd, trying to ignore the lights and find Allison. He saw Risty and Sebastian giving an interview nearby, the young reporter speaking to them looking ready to faint because their presence. Isaac stood alone farther down the carpet, signing the chest of an enthusiastic female fan. Eventually he spotted the daredevil’s deep red hair showing just barely over a reporter’s shoulder. Allison seemed comfortable at Angel’s side as they posed for a few pictures, though Paul couldn’t help but remain suspicious. Earlier Allison had sounded like she was obligated to stay with somebody else on the red carpet.

“Paul? Hey, Paul?” Irina jarred him out of his thoughts with an elbow to the side. “She’s talking to you.”

“Oh, sorry.” He turned to look at the reporter. “Could you repeat the question?”

“Being one of the last guys in the game, do you feel threatened by the obvious gender imbalance?”

Paul definitely hadn’t expected that. “Not yet. Maybe when the merge comes, but right now I haven’t really noticed.”

“Well, of course you haven’t.” The reporter grinned. “You only seem to have eyes for Irina. You guys seem awfully close tonight, especially considering what happened during the vampire challenge.”

“I guess you’ll have to watch the rest of this episode to find out why.” Irina answered, her voice full of mystery. Paul laughed at her response, suddenly glad that it was her and not Allison handling the interviewers with him.

“Ophelia! Ophelia, look over here!”

“To your right, Ophelia! Miss Escher!”

“Ophelia Escher! Over here, please!”

The artist trudged slowly down the red carpet, her white dress flowing around her feet. Her green eyes were dead, looking straight ahead and ignoring all of the reporters around her. They had no idea what was going on, they had no idea how alone she felt in that crowd of people.

“Miss Escher!” One of the reporters put a hand on her arm, her pale pink skin clashing with his deep tan. She refused to look up at him as he and a woman commented about her outfit, about her hair, about the red rimming her eyes. “How do you feel about the results of the last elimination?”

It was then that her head snapped up, her eyes wide. She did nothing but stare at the two reporters, her gaze hauntingly blank. They did not seem to understand what was going on, the female laughing awkwardly into her microphone. “Aw, I guess she’s just camera shy.”

The man laughed along. “If Victor was here with her, she definitely wouldn’t be.”

It was as though somebody had flipped a switch, the silent, unresponsive figure in white instantly turning into a monster. Ophelia let out a wail and pounced on the male reporter, knocking him to the ground. She clawed at his suit, keeping her face close to his.

“Take it back!” She hissed, her tired eyes wide. “Why did you have to say his name? You shouldn’t talk about him! You’re not good enough to talk about him!”

“I-I’m sorry!” The reporter flinched away from her. “I didn’t mean to! Please let go of me!”

Ophelia didn’t let go of his shirt, wouldn’t break eye contact. “He didn’t deserve it! He should be here with me! He would be so good at this, and instead I’m here alone! He should be here!”

“Ophelia, please get off of me!”

Again, she didn’t recognize her own name. Instead, she continued to glare at this man, knowing that it should have been Victor’s eyes she was looking into. As the cameras flashed around her, she spiraled more and more out of control.

Chapter Eighteen: Tabloid Queen

“So, Belladonna, I’m surprised to see you wandering the red carpet alone.”

Donna narrowed her eyes at Chavez Milton. “What is that supposed to mean?”

The blogger held up an innocent hand. “Hey, I’m just saying that I figured you’d be with Ophelia after what happened-”


The reporter and smart aleck both turned in the direction of the wild screeching. Through the wall of photographers they could see Ophelia being torn away from a reporter.

“Well, speak of the devil.” Chavez commented, staring wide-eyed at the scene. He turned back to continue his interview only to find that Donna was gone. He spotted her darting into the crowd, elbowing anybody that got between her and her friend. “Don’t rip that dress! It’s a Ramzi original!”

“Ophelia!” As Donna neared Ophelia, the artist broke away from the security guard that was manhandling her and ran towards the press conference building. “Ophelia, wait!” The blonde didn’t turn around at the sound of her name, instead collapsing against the doors at the end of the red carpet. Donna stopped running when she saw her roommate put her face in her hands, choosing instead to approach her quietly. “What’s wrong?”

Ophelia looked up from her palms to reveal that she was crying again. She tilted her head and watched Donna with a curious expression. “…It’s the ghost.”

Donna stepped closer to her friend. “What are you talking ab-”

“Don’t come any closer!” Ophelia put her hands up. “Get away!”

Her roommate didn’t listen. “I don’t know wh-”

“Shut up! Stay away from me!”

The smart aleck paused for a moment. “Ophelia, I-”

RISTY! RIIISSSTYYYY! Please, I need your help!”

Donna instantly stiffened, the fact that her friend was calling for somebody else’s help hurting her much more than anything else. She gave up on her attempts to approach Ophelia, instead keeping close to herself. The mad artist noticed her change in posture and got to her feet, a crazed smile spreading across her tear-streaked face.

“That’s it, just stay away! RISTY!”

The smart aleck glared at her friend. “What do you need Risty for? I’m here trying to help you, but you’re just pushing me away.”


“Could you stop screaming? I don’t see why you won’t take my help!”

“What help are you giving me?!” Ophelia shouted. “I don’t see how you’re doing any good!”

“You won’t listen to a word I’m saying.”

“Because you’re not saying anything useful!”

“I’m trying the best I can!”

“Well, your best isn’t good enough!” Ophelia lunged towards Donna, who cowered away from her. The artist smiled again at the pessimist’s frightened behavior. “Good. Run away, little ghost-”

“Stop it!” Donna tried to fight back. “I’m not going to run away! And why do you keep calling me that?”

The blonde’s smile faded. “Hmmm, oh, I don’t know, maybe because you’re so cold it’s like you’re dead? Do you even have emotions? You’re so distant that you don’t feel anything.”

“…What are you talking about?”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. Heck, you’re doing it right now!” As if to prove it to her, Ophelia stepped closer again, Donna subconsciously leaning away. “Just like a ghost, you’re present most of the time but disappear when I need you. You tried to help me last night, but you let those men take me away!”

“But then I was with you in our room.” Donna insisted.

“You were just hovering again! I was in the way, just a problem that you needed to avoid! You don’t understand because you’re so detached, so you just tried to talk me out of it! Risty was there for me when you weren’t. She tried to relate, so I let her in. And where were you? Oh yeah, you ran away with Wes!”

Ophelia breathed heavily, ignoring the camera flashes surrounding her. She sneered at the fact that her usually smart-mouthed roommate had remained silent.

“You’re still doing it. I’m hurting you, so you’ve completely shut down. You block everybody out from really knowing you. That’s why you’re so harsh with Sebastian, why you pretend you don’t know that Wes is in love with you, it’s even why you avoid talking in the confessional! Don’t you see how cold you are? That’s probably why Sebastian likes you so much! He wants you to be his ice queen!”

“Ophelia, I’m here!” Risty pushed past a few photographers and ran up to her teammate. Ophelia’s furious expression softened at the sight of the athlete. “What’s wrong?”

“The reporters… and she…” At a loss for words, Ophelia looked where Donna had been standing only to find that she was already gone. This made her stop stammering. Instead, she clamped her hands over her own mouth and began shaking her head. Risty put her hands on her shoulders, but she could only watch in confusion as the artist had another meltdown.

Confession Cam

Risty: “Ophelia’s up and down. She’ll seem like she’s getting better, but then she’ll suddenly get so much worse. I’m trying the best I can to help her, but she doesn’t just miss Victor anymore. She’s just completely lost control over what she’s doing.”

“Ramzi doesn’t seem to have done much to you.”

Mona Brooks’ left eyebrow twitched at Isaac’s rather plain wardrobe, her best attempt at an unimpressed raised eyebrow due to the Botox.

The troublemaker held back a laugh. “Ramzi figured if he dressed me up nicely I’d ruin it within a few minutes. That’s an accurate thought, by the way.”

“Well, I guess I can’t argue with that logic.” Mona laughed. “I can’t help but notice there are quite a few girls screaming your name in the crowd.”

“Girls can’t resist a bad guy.” Isaac stated. “I wouldn’t consider myself a bad guy, but if that’s how they see it then I’m game.”

“You seem to already have plenty of luck with the girls, though.” Mona pointed out.

Isaac gave an unashamed shrug. “Yeah.”

“Now, you have to talk to me about this: you’re the only boy in the competition caught in the middle of a… dare I call it a love triangle?”

“You can call it whatever you want to.” Isaac sneered. “I’d call it a mess.”

“You can say that again.”

Isaac’s scowl grew at the new voice. From a horde of photographers emerged Avery, all long legs and high heels. As the drama queen strutted towards the troublemaker, Mona Brooks whistled at her outfit.

“Now there’s a look. I’d call that high class streetwalker chic.”

“You got the streetwalker part right.” Isaac muttered under his breath, not bothering to tear his eyes away from her curves.

“What was that?” Avery asked, her eyes glinting mischievously as she placed a hand on his arm.

“You heard me.”

“Ooh, sexual tension. I like.” Mona Brooks looked over at the fans trapped behind the velvet ropes. “You guys like it too, right?!”

She was answered by a roar of applause. Three tan girls with big hair and flashy outfits pushed to the front of crowd, shouting, “You go, Avery! Take that boy away from Cara!”

“There’re my Jersey girls!” Avery waved at the trio, who squealed in return.

“They bring us back to a good topic, though.” Mona’s permanent grin seemed to grow. “You know at the press conference they’ll be asking all about the love triangle.”

“Of course they will.” Avery examined her nails in a disinterested fashion. “What else would they ask about?”

“The world doesn’t revolve around you, you know.” Isaac glared at her as her grip on his arm tightened. “There’re plenty of other things going on.”

“I don’t know. I seem to be the tabloid queen.”

“You guys seem like you’re especially at each other’s throats tonight.” Mona spoke up before Isaac could counter Avery’s retort. “The last time the viewers saw you interact was the breakfast before the paintball challenge. Is that actually the last time you’ve talked?”

“Sounds about right.” Avery nodded.

“I’d prefer not to bring that challenge up.” Isaac admitted.

Avery pouted her lips and spoke in a taunting baby voice. “Aw, what’s the matter? Afraid to live up to the fact that you almost killed one of The Emmys?”

“Shut up, Avery.”

“I think you say that at least once every time we talk.”

“Yeah, and I’m saying it again. Shut up, Avery.”

As the slacker and drama queen bickered, Mona Brooks turned to the camera and laughed. “I’m sure their competitors would disagree, but I love seeing these two together, don’t you?”

“I have an important question for you.”

Monique smiled at Ramzi. “Well, I’d love to answer it.”

The trendsetter was in a particularly positive mood after talking about fashion with the stylist for ten minutes. She had finally found a RealityGossip employee that she liked, so she was ready for anything he had to throw at her.

“A lot of the fans say that they really just don’t know you, honey.” Ramzi said, the sentence accented with a diva’s attitude. “And Minerva claimed in her blog that you felt really neutral towards most of the other contestants. Is that true?”

“People actually watch those videos?”

“Did you not see the girl with the ‘Hormonal Teenagers’ t-shirt?”

“Not yet. But Minerva was wrong when she said I’m neutral to the others. I honestly just don’t care about a lot of them.” Monique explained. “So, like, I like Minerva, Risty, and Wes, and I tolerate Sebastian. I absolutely hated Elena, Gabe, and Victor. I haven’t talked to them much, but I would probably like Paul and Irina and hate Isaac and Allison. The rest I just really don’t care about.”

A grin spread across Ramzi’s face. “Seems like you have only the most important person on your mind at all times.”

“Of course. Myself.” The designer and stylist high fived daintily and started to cackle. Their laughing stopped when Minerva rushed up to them, tripping slightly over her heels. Ramzi and Monique gave her matching unimpressed looks, but the loudmouth just grinned.

“Monique, you will never believe this! I was just walking and posing for pictures and smiling to the fans when all of a sudden Chavez Milton called me over! Chavez. Milton!” Minerva put her hands in her hair. “Do you even understand how much I love Chavez Milton? I read his blog! He is an absolutely amazing person and…” The blonde’s face fell. “Why aren’t you guys excited?”

“I work with Chavez.” Ramzi stated.

“I’m above tactless tabloid reporters unless they have full interest in me.” Monique confessed.

Minerva stared wide-eyed at them. “Are you two even human?”

“More human than Mona Brooks is, that’s for sure.” Ramzi gestured to the newly arrived contestant and winked at the camera. “Minerva Patrikovis, everybody.”

“I still can’t believe you.” Minerva shook her head at Monique, who just rolled her eyes.

Ramzi ignored the teammates’ disagreement. “Speaking of bloggers, I think you’ll find out today that your blog is a hit.”

“Oh, well, I’m glad!” The chatterbox’s mood was once again positive. “I put a lot of work into the RealityGossip Behind the Scenes Video Blog, so I’m so happy everybody likes it.”

“It’s because of me.” Monique insisted. “You should upgrade me to official cohost.”

“You’ll just try and take it over.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how entertaining you are.”

Minerva narrowed her eyes at her friend, though she couldn’t hide her smile. “We’ll see.”

Confession Cam

Monique: “I’m just saying, I think Minerva would benefit from letting me cohost her show. I’m sure the fans love me, and I seem to bring the entertainment value.” The designer leaned over and picked up a bundle of fabric. She unfolded it to reveal that it was a violet t-shirt with “I Hate Hormonal Teenagers” written on the chest. “A fan gave this to me. I’m so proud.”

“So, apparently the fans are actually interested in talking to you guys.” Rachel Claire put a hand on her hip. “I can’t imagine why. They want an interview, though.”

“Aren’t they going to hear us during the press conference?” Angel asked.

“Yeah, but this is more private and looks good for my magazine.” The reporter stuck out her tongue at the pyromaniac. Neither Angel nor Allison seemed interested in talking to her, but she had managed to pull them in when they were avoiding a wild photographer. “Apparently you’re going through some fire withdrawal or something? Tell me about that.”

“Well, I’m contractually obligated not to burn anything valuable unless I’m given permission.” Angel began to explain.

“I don’t think that’s in my contract.” Allison commented.

“It’s not.” The Puerto Rican’s mouth was in a grim straight line. “It’s only been in two contestants’ contracts: mine and Izzy’s.”

“Ooh, rough.”

“There wasn’t anything special in yours?”

Allison shrugged one shoulder. “I tried to negotiate that if my roots started showing too badly they’d provide me with dye.”

Rachel Claire grimaced. “I take it you didn’t get that one to work out?”

“Of course not.” Allison pouted. “I have no idea how you got this whole gig to work out for you. Chris agrees to nothing.”

Rachel Claire laughed. “Oh, when you have the right connections, you can get anything. Speaking of connections, seems your relationship with Avery may have strengthened? I mean, first teaming up in Fire Insults at Will, and then you came up with that awesome plan last challenge. What’s the deal?”

“Well… I don’t really know…” Allison was surprisingly unconfident in her answer, and Angel gave her a confused glance. “I guess I-”

“Keep your enemies closer.” A new voice chimed in.

Allison released a sigh. “Yeah, that. Thanks…” She turned around to greet the newcomer, though her relieved expression quickly faded at the sight of him. “Oh, um…”

“Is there a problem?” Sebastian inquired.

“Why are you here?” Angel questioned.

“I can’t interact with the other team every once in a while?” Sebastian wasn’t even fazed by the negative treatment. “I’ll bet the merge is coming soon, so it wouldn’t be that bad of an idea.”

Rachel Claire glared at the gambler. “Don’t play dumb. I’m sure you’ve stolen somebody else’s information and found out exactly when the merge is coming.”

“Still holding a grudge from the first challenge?

For once, Angel was able to agree with his competitor. “Seems a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?”

As the male contestants insulted Rachel Claire, Allison scanned the crowd for Avery. She caught Paul’s eyes during her search and made an exaggerated expression when she saw Irina’s arm around him. When Paul laughed, the lights clearly not impacting him, she continued searching. Eventually she found the drama queen bickering with Isaac. Avery spotted her from over the troublemaker’s shoulder, and they exchanged a glance.

“Who are you looking at?”

Allison’s eyes flicked over to Sebastian. The ever-observant charmer had directed all attention to her again. “Oh, nothing. Isaac and Avery are fighting again, and I was just watching.”

“Huh. They haven’t done that in a while.” Angel looked over the crowd to watch the scene. “I figured he’d be avoiding her.”

“Avery seems to have her ways of getting attention.” Allison commented, pretending not to notice Sebastian watching her.

Confession Cam

Allison: “I have no idea how he does it, but somehow Sebastian knows everything! I’m pretty sure he knows exactly what’s going on with me and Avery, and he’s not even trying to hide it.” She put her palm to her face. “If I make the merge I’m not going to be ready to deal with that guy.”

“Welcome to the RealityGossip cash cow known as the Total Drama Island: For Your Entertainment Press Conference, sponsored by, that’s right, RealityGossip.” Rachel Claire gave the camera a fake smile and held up an issue of her magazine. “RealityGossip Magazine. If you like reading gossip about reality stars, then this is the magazine for you. Seriously, what you see is what you get.”

Eventually the crowd had migrated from the red carpet to the building. The audience was full of screaming fans, with the first few rows of seats reserved for reporters. On the stage in front of them, twelve of the fourteen contestants were seated behind a long table draped in a red cloth. Each had a microphone and a place marker with their name on it on the table in front of them. Rachel Claire sat in the corner of the stage on a tall stool.

“So, let me introduce your cast to you one more time for anybody who’s just started watching.” The camera turned from Rachel Claire to the left side of the table, focusing in on the first contestant’s face. “First off we have diva Avery Dellcourte,” Avery blew the camera a kiss as it slid over to show the next contestant’s face. “Beauty queen Irina Rostropovich, tree hugger Caroline Barnes, bad boy Isaac Orville, arsonist Angel Dominguez-”

“I’m not an arsonist!” Angel protested.

“Yeah, and I’m not a shallow reporter.” Rachel Claire put a hand up to her mouth. “Oh, wait. Yes, I am.”

“How do people find you likable enough to watch your interviews?” Isaac questioned.

“They ask that about every star in Hollywood.” The reporter snorted. “Moving on! After the mouthy arsonist there’s punk Allison Yale and patriot Paul Adams. They’ll all be making up The Oscars. Remember that, fans, because you’ll want to differentiate between the two teams when you’re filling out your post-conference survey. More about that later.” Paul saluted the camera as it moved on. “Starting The Emmys we have… an empty chair?”

A man with a headset on leaned in from the wings to whisper in Rachel Claire’s ear.

“Oh, okay, she’ll be here eventually. But that’s supposed to be whack job Ophelia Escher, bad luck magnet Belladonna Surmaine, sweetheart Wesley Winfrey, hipster Monique Darling, blabbermouth Minerva Patrikovis,… another empty seat?”

The man leaned back in from off screen and Rachel Claire rolled her eyes.

“Okay, apparently Risty Cooper will be here late, too. Jeez, rude much? Well, after her empty chair is suspicious Sebastian Luse, the last member of The Emmys. And that old guy on the end is your host Chris McLean.”

“I’m not old!” Chris exclaimed.

“Yeah, whatever, Gramps.” The camera focused on Rachel Claire again. “The conference works like this. The contestants are competing for your votes in the post-conference survey. You’ll be judging them both individually and by team based on their attitudes, looks, behavior, and answers. Chris is just along for the ride. The whole thing will be split up into a few parts. First, the contestants will be asked questions by the reporters. Then, we’ll have a few special themed segments where I ask them pre-written questions. Finally, we’ll have the part you’ve been waiting for: the fans get to talk to the contestants.”

The crowd erupted into cheers and whistles. Several of the contestants reacted, though Rachel Claire kept a straight face the entire time. “The fans can either ask questions or just compliment them. They’ll probably need some self-esteem boosting from the questions they’ll be asked.” She crossed her legs nonchalantly. “But let’s get this show on the road, shall we? First reporter?”

A balding man in a vest stepped up to the microphone. “This first question is for Minerva.”

“Ooh, yay!” The blonde clapped her hands.

“Do you think the RealityGossip blog has an impact on how the fans view certain contestants?”

“Good question.” Minerva thought for a moment. “I think if people watch the videos or read the blog enough, then definitely. The blog features Risty, Monique, and I a lot. I have no idea what’s been shown about us in the episodes, so that might change their opinions on us. And I think the interview I had with Gabe probably changed their opinions on him. Like, I know I stopped filming before he got into the deeper stuff, but after I posted that video there were so many comments about how they didn’t expect him to be so genuine.”

“Did you expect it to be so influential?”

“I wouldn’t call it influential. It only is if you keep up with it.”

The reporter thanked Minerva and sat back down, another taking his place. “I’ll get right to the elephant in the room: Veronique Chevalier.”

Several of the cast members sitting at the table groaned, Chris McLean the loudest of all. The host leaned on his hand and said, “It’s not an elephant until you mention it.”

“Well, I think it’s weird that nobody’s said anything about it. You’re not confused? Suspicious? Afraid?”

“All of the above, actually.” Chris sighed. “I promise, it’ll come up again later, but the contestants have been asked to avoid talking about it until then. Camille was carted off to jail, so we’re good.”

“Can I ask questions about it now?” The reporter questioned.

“Just a few, but then you’ll have to move on.”

“Okay, then. Cara, why did you let Camille use you so easily? Weren’t you suspicious?”

Cara had been hanging her head when the situation came up, though she looked up at the reporter when he addressed her. “I had no idea that she was using me. Yeah, she was doing weird things, but there was no way I could know that she was doing illegal things.”

“And Angel and Allison,” The reporter turned to the naturalist’s teammates, “how did you feel during your little chase sequence?”

The Goth and pyromaniac exchanged a glance before replying in unison, “Freaked out!”

That was classy.” Avery commented.

“How would you have felt?” Allison glared at her.

The drama queen shrugged. “Hey, I never said I wouldn’t have felt that way. You just didn’t have to answer like the Wonder Twins.”

As Avery complained, the reporters swapped positions. A male reporter dressed to impress stepped up to the microphone with a serious look on his face. “This is a question regarding screen time. First, I’m going to direct it at Monique. You have received little screen time in the finished episodes. Are you planning on changing your tactics to gain more?”

Monique gave the reporter a blank stare. “…I don’t have a lot of screen time?”

“Until last challenge, no.”

“Well, who’ve they been giving it to then?! Avery?!”


“Nice!” Avery exchanged a high five with Irina as Monique struggled to keep her cool.

“As disappointed as I am to hear that,” The designer cleared her throat. “I’m not going to change anything. I like the way I’ve been playing the game. The editors will warm up to me just like Minerva’s blog’s fans did.”

The reporter nodded at her answer. “Thank you. Now, the same question, but directed at Wes. Your screen time has mostly consisted of your interactions with Donna.”

The musician didn’t seem at all shocked by this. He gave the reporter a lazy grin. “I guess we know what the editors are interested in, then.” He glanced over at Donna, though she looked distracted.

“Okay, thank you very much.” The well-dressed reporter departed, and Ramzi took his place.

“Hello there, superstars.” He gave the entire group a large wave before focusing his attention on Monique. “Hey, girl.” They exchanged finger waves before he whipped out an index card. “So, Irina, how’d you come up with those outfits in Video Killed the Reality Star?”

The model laughed. “Are you talking about the rappers and the dancers?” When Ramzi nodded, she continued to giggle. “I had limited resources, a stereotype in mind, and some creativity. I did the best I could.”

“Well, those were definitely fashion don’ts.” Ramzi waggled a finger at her. “Next, Chris McLean, boxers or briefs?”

The host furrowed his brow. “Seriously?”

“I am only the voice of the style-concerned fans.”

“Boxer briefs.”

“Ooh, the best of both worlds! Paul-”

“I’m not answering any questions about my underwear, thank you very much.” The Boy Scout interjected.

“It’s not about your underwear. I promise.” Ramzi assured. “In the first episode, Helen D’Angelo started to mention that you have a strange birthmark on your lower back?”

Paul smiled at that. “Oh, right. If you look during the boating challenge I’m sure somebody saw it. It’s kind of in the shape of a duck.” The do-gooder was completely unaware that a projector was showing a picture of Paul shirtless on the wall behind him, the birthmark circled in red marker.

“That cleared things up.” Ramzi laughed into his hand. “Sebastian, is your hair naturally blond?”

The gambler scoffed at the question. “Of course. I’m mixed race, so it’s just an odd gene combination.”

“Okay, last question. Favorite challenge so far?”

“That question wasn’t about fashion.” Rachel Claire gaped at Ramzi.

Ramzi smiled. “I wanted to change it up a bit.”

“You guys can just go down the line with this one.” The curly haired reporter instructed the cast. “Before you start: Donna, where’s Ophelia?”

The smart aleck’s eyes flicked right up to Rachel Claire when she mentioned her name, though her movements were slow as she adjusted her microphone. “I think she and Risty are outside.”


“Risty is comforting her.”

The RealityGossip reporter raised an eyebrow. “Why aren’t you comforting her?”

“I…” Donna looked down, away from the audience and the reporters. “I don’t know.”

It was obvious that she was lying, but Rachel Claire didn’t seem to care. “Whatever.”

Ophelia sat crumpled against the door to the building at the end of the red carpet, Risty crouched at her side. The artist had been dragged inside, though she had broken away and ran back out to get her privacy.

“You know,” Risty began, “if we don’t participate in the challenge, chances are our team’s going to lose.”

Ophelia didn’t answer, just stared up at the sky.

“And you don’t want that to happen. That means somebody else will have to get voted off.” When she didn’t receive an answer, the athlete switched her position to something more comfortable.

Eventually, Ophelia found the energy to respond. “…That’s how Victor got eliminated.”

Risty turned to look at her. “What?”

“Victor was eliminated because we didn’t participate in the challenge. Sebastian warned us, but he still got eliminated.” Ophelia began to sit up, pushing her hair back from her face. “It’s my fault. I couldn’t stop it, so it’s my fault.”

“Now you’re sounding like me.” The corner of Risty’s mouth curled upward. “Trust me, blaming yourself for an elimination is not the way to go. It drags you down.”

“Is it really possible to get much lower than this?” For the first time, Ophelia made eye contact with Risty. Despite the fact that she was staring right at her, the artist seemed to be somewhere else.

Risty decided to take a risk and ask her, “What happened before I showed up on the red carpet?” Ophelia pulled her knees closer to her chest and didn’t answer. “Ophelia?” Risty waved her hand in front of the artist’s face. “Opheliaaa? Ophelia, what happened?”

“I yelled at Donna, okay?! I was so mean!” Ophelia’s voice wavered. “I called her cold, an ice queen. I told her she wasn’t helping me because she couldn’t understand.”

“She’s trying, though.”

“I know!” Ophelia put her head on her knees. “I know, I know, I really know she is, and I feel terrible for saying all of that. It’s like somebody else was in control of my mouth. I knew I said it, I just didn’t want to believe it.” She knotted her hands in her hair and began to pull. “I don’t want to believe any of this…”

Risty knew that trying to get her to stop hurting herself would only set her off again. Instead, she let her continue tugging on her hair until she realized the strands weren’t going anywhere. When the artist released her scalp, the athlete spoke again. “You can apologize to her when you’re feeling better.”

Ophelia looked up at Risty through her hair, green eyes shining through a curtain of white. “Who’s saying that I’m going to get better?”

“I know you are, Ophelia.”

The peeking eyes narrowed. “You’re making that up.”

“Ophelia,” Risty smiled at her, “you just responded to your name several times.”

Her glare disappeared, a wide-eyed face of shock moving into its place. “I… I did!” All of a sudden, Ophelia went from having a meltdown to having a giggling fit. “I did! You’re right!” She stood up, her balance wavering because she had been on the ground for so long. “We’re going to go in there.”

Risty got to her feet. “But what if they ask about Victor?” At the mention of his name, Ophelia’s happiness faded, her posture slumping a bit. Risty reached out to touch her shoulder. “No, no, don’t do that! He’s gone, but you need to prove yourself for him!”

Ophelia wouldn’t look at her. “Why?”

“Because it’s what he’d want. Victor was so self-confident that he’d never understand why you’re acting like this. You never let your problems force you down, so I’m sure that’s what he liked about you.”

They stood in silence for a moment, and Risty feared that she had said the wrong thing. Eventually, though, Ophelia’s lips began to move. Though no sound was coming out at first, when she pushed her hair away from her face her eyes were smiling.

And even if we separate, we’ll know that it’s not too late,” Next thing Risty knew, the artist had begun to mumble a song, “you’ll find me and I’ll find you, and we can finally say ‘I do’.” Ophelia was beaming when she turned to look at Risty, who saw a glimpse of her old teammate in that tear-streaked face. “I do. I do have to go in there!”

Rachel Claire had just finished a round of superlative-related questions, each of the contestants stating who they believed would be most likely to do or be something. She switched to her next index card and smirked.

“Okay, here’s the Losers’ Round. I’m going to select one of the eliminated contestants, and you’re free to call out your opinions on them. Easy enough, right?” When she received a positive murmur in reply, a picture of a familiar face in a ‘gangster’ pose projected on the wall behind the table. “Okay, first off, our not-so-lovable jock Eric Stoneleigh.”

Paul leaned into his microphone and commented, “Worst roommate ever. Those rocks were terrifying!”

“They were probably his only friends.” Avery retorted.

“Aw, that’s not nice!” Cara shouted. “I don’t think we had enough time to get to know Eric. He could be totally different than we expected.”

“Next up…” The picture swapped to a scowling ex-contestant. “Gabriel Patterson.”

“Speaking of different than I expected,” Minerva smiled at the picture of the spoiled teen. “When I started to get to know him, I actually liked him a lot.”

“Yeah, I’d have liked him a lot better if he wasn’t always with Elena.” Wes agreed. “He didn’t seem that bad.”

Sebastian sneered. “If I didn’t know he’d been gone by now anyway, maybe I would regret letting my alliance fall for Elena’s trick and vote for him.”

Several eyes looked in the strategist’s direction. “You have an alliance?”

“Yeah. Victor somehow got voted off, though, so not anymore.” He gave his teammates a half-shrug. As the other competitors started to comment about Josh, Monique glared at Sebastian from behind Minerva. The gambler only smirked at her, the trendsetter looking away in disgust.

“Okay, how about this little gremlin?” Rachel Claire asked as a picture of Zack appeared. Nobody commented, feeling as though they weren’t the ones who had the right to the first comment.

“He was a wonderful person who was voted off too early.” A familiar voice shouted from off screen. The audience applauded as Risty entered gracefully, Ophelia tagging along much more warily. The artist tugged on the back of Risty’s shirt when she saw the locations of the empty seats. Risty leaned down and whispered to Sebastian, “Would you mind switching seats with Ophelia?”

“Not a problem.” The tan teen moved to sit between Donna and Paul. The smart aleck surprisingly didn’t react to his presence, her eyes locked on Ophelia.

“As I was saying,” Risty continued when she took her seat, “If Zack hadn’t been in the wrong place at the wrong time, I’m sure he would’ve been here with us commenting on somebody else’s elimination.”

Nobody else dared to speak after that, so Rachel Claire signaled for the picture to change. A recognizable smile lit up the screen. “Another person who should probably have been here, Robert Eckeheart!”

“One of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.” Angel commented.

“He was really funny, and always knew how to brighten up a terrible situation.” Cara added.

“I don’t think we would’ve made it through the music video challenge without him.” When Avery received several dirty looks, she rolled her eyes. “What? I already apologized. If I had any idea he would quit, I wouldn’t have done it.”

“Moving on…” The picture changed, and even Rachel Claire stopped breathing. It seemed like all movement in the auditorium stopped at the sight of Victor Phae’s image, most of the people onstage freezing.

Eventually, one contestant shyly adjusted her microphone and cleared her throat. “I think this is the reaction he’d been hoping for all along.” A smile spread across Ophelia’s face as she finished her sentence, and the stoic atmosphere in the room completely dissipated. The crowd burst into laughter, the sound overwhelming Ophelia’s faint mumbling into the microphone, “We’ll run away just you and I, and I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine.” Donna, however, heard it loud and clear. “We’ll go far away, finally be free…

Nothing will matter except you and me.” The smart aleck mouthed the words along with the artist, and they made eye contact. Ophelia looked over and gave her a smile. It took all of Donna’s effort to give one to her in return.

Confession Cam

Ophelia: “I’m not better, I know I’m not. There are a lot of people I have to talk to, a lot of holes I need to patch up.” The artist’s facial expression didn’t match her negative words. She almost appeared to be excited. “I woke up, though, and realized the only safe thing to do is to try and keep going. I can’t make any promises that the clouds won’t come back, but I think next time I’ll have people willing to help me through it.”

After some rather brutal commentary about Elena and Camille, Rachel Claire chose to continue along the same route. “I think this would be a good time to bring up our next section: Haters! That’s right, I’ll be giving the contestants some of the most hateful commentary from our loyal watchers. Sounds fun, right?”

“Oh, yes.” Chris smirked, though he was greeted with a chorus of boos. “Oh, come on, you guys should be used to this by now!”

“He’s right, you know.” Rachel Claire pulled out a red-colored index card and skimmed the content. “Ooh, these are bad. Irina!”

“Of course.” The model grimaced.

“The fans are saying that they thought you would be a departure from the dumb blonde stereotype, but even though you think you’re something more that’s all you are. An airhead. A useless bombshell. An idiot.” Rachel Claire read directly from the card. “You comfort whoever needs it, use your sex appeal for terrible reasons, and think you’re a role model when really you’re not much better than Renata.” The crowd booed the host, who paused to let the comments sink in. “Hey, I’m just reading what’s on the card. Comments?”

Irina was surprisingly composed about the situation. “As much as I don’t appreciate that, the fans can say what they want. I’m used to having a public image, and if that’s how they want to interpret it, then so be it.”

“Nice answer.” Avery complimented her friend as the crowd applauded. “I’d have flipped out.”

“I know you would’ve.” Avery gave Irina a light slap for that comment, the blonde giving her a joking grin in return.

“Next victim,” Rachel Claire pulled out another blood red card. “Minerva!” The naïve blonde whimpered into the microphone as the reporter began to read. “Gay rights advocate? More like an embarrassment. You put yourself out there saying that you wanted to promote your sexuality, but instead let yourself get put down because of it. You’ve been used and pushed around- both figuratively and literally. Pride? More like a puppet.”

Minerva jaw dropped at Rachel Claire’s statement, her eyes wide as saucers. “I… um… I-I…” She stumbled over her words. “I guess… I… I don’t know if… if…”

“She just hasn’t had a chance to show herself yet.” Monique stepped in. “She’s a great person. You’re just seeing the worst-”

“No, wait. I need to do this for myself.” Minerva stopped her friend. “Thank you, but th-this is exactly what they’re talking about. Monique’s right. I’ve been so desperate for my team not to vote me off that I’ve been letting myself get controlled. I’m sorry to anybody who’s disappointed by that.”

The crowd clapped, a few boys in the back holding up a sign that had the loudmouth’s name written on it in rainbow letters. Rachel Claire picked another card.

“Next up is… Paul!” The Boy Scout swallowed a lump in his throat, the sound picking up on the microphone. “We’ve seen it all before. Nice guy with a crush way out of his league, an odd friendship, and a heart of gold.”

As Rachel Claire spoke, Paul became painfully aware of the cameras flashing from in front of the stage.

“You think you’re the best at everything, but you’re just another knock-off of the same stereotype. You’re not as good as you think you are.”

Paul began to tug at the collar of his shirt. The room was beginning to get hot, and his head was spinning. Allison was whispering something to him, but he didn’t comprehend her words. He could only hear Rachel Claire.

“Do you really think you’re the best at what you do? You’re so confident, but you’re really just pathetic. You-” Rachel Claire was interrupted by a loud thump. Paul had collapsed from his seat and was now lying unconscious on the stage. “…Paramedic!”

Confession Cam

Irina: “I’m sure it was written somewhere that Paul’s afraid of flashing lights. Instead, he was carried off to Major City Hospital. That entire segment was terrible and shouldn’t have been put in there. I don’t see any reason to completely tear us apart.”

“This should be a good one.” Rachel Claire smirked at the next card, continuing with the segment despite the previous events. “Donna! Some viewers have said that you’re the least entertaining person in the competition. The editors are trying to push you as this season’s Gwen or even a Total Drama World Tour-era Heather, but you just don’t fit the mold. People say you’re just unfit to be on a reality TV show. Comments?”

There was a pause as the audience reacted to this statement. Donna just folded her hands and looked straight at the camera, her mouth curling into an uncharacteristically bright grin. “Thank you!”

Rachel Claire stared blankly at the smart aleck, whose lack of offense seemed genuine. “…Okay, then. Next one’s ironically enough related. Wes!” The musician’s eyebrows furrowed at the mentioning of his name. “So far, you’ve been nothing but a useless love interest to a much stronger personality. You’re the Trent to Donna’s Gwen, and you know how that worked out. The viewers know nothing about you other than that you’re a musician and you’re pretty nice, and a lot of the things you say sound forced. If this was any other show, you probably would’ve been axed during Fire Insults at Will to keep Elena’s star power around.”

Wes fidgeted with the sleeves of his sweater as he tried to come up with an answer. “Well, I think this actually goes back to the screen time question earlier. The editors pick what scenes are shown, not me, so I don’t even know what you’ve seen. Maybe I haven’t shined so far, but I’m still here, aren’t I? There’s still a chance.”

As the audience applauded, Donna raised an eyebrow at her teammate. “You handled that ‘useless Trent’ part well.”

Wes shrugged. “I’ve heard worse.”

“Okay, next. Isaac!” Rachel Claire examined this card carefully. “Isaac, you’re not as great as you think you are. The show’s had bad boys before, but you seem to be the worst of them all. Some watchers just don’t see your appeal and find your attitude appalling. And, spoiler alert, what you did with Avery? Not cool.”

Isaac’s cocky face instantly fell as Cara’s eyes bugged beside him. The nature lover rotated in her chair to face the troublemaker. “What is she talking about?”

The blond sighed. Finally, it was coming out. “Avery and I made out.” Cara gasped, her face contorting into a horrified expression. Isaac put up his hands. “I know, I’m a terrible person. This is exactly why I didn’t want to tell you! I felt guilty and I didn’t want to hurt you!”

Cara’s expression softened a bit. “Is that why you avoided me for so long?”

“Of course, I was just being stupid. You deserved to know the truth, but I was too afraid of what was going to happen if I told you.”

Cara’s emotions were no longer clear. She stared at Isaac for a few minutes before saying, “Okay.”

“‘Okay’?” Isaac questioned. “What do you mean ‘okay’?”

In one swift motion, Cara crawled into his lap, her legs straddling his. “This whole time I’ve been questioning if you’re a good guy and if you actually liked me or not. That just proved that you really do care about me.” She placed her hands gently on his shoulders, looking at him with half-lidded eyes. “Promise me you won’t do anything like that ever again, and I’ll let the past stay in the past.”

A lazy smile crawled across Isaac’s face. “I promise. Never again. And of course I care about you. I always have.”

That was all that Cara needed. She leaned down and kissed him. This kiss was much more intimate than the quick peck in the stairwell, and the other contestants suddenly felt as though they had intruded on a very private moment. Some of the audience members cheered, though there was a very audible booing coming from a great number of them. Avery stopped glaring at the scene long enough to give the crowd a confused glance. Isaac and Cara broke apart and moved back to their own chairs, though they continued to give each other long, enamored stares.

“Hormonal teenagers…” Monique sang into her microphone.

“You’re just jealous because you want some action, too.” Risty remarked.

Monique laughed. “You know, maybe I am. Everyone got to kiss during the vampire challenge while all I got to do was bite. I want some action too! Where’s my kiss?”

“…I’d kiss you.”

Monique turned to Minerva, her mouth in a surprised ‘o’ shape. “Excuse me?”

“I said I’d kiss you.” Minerva repeated, her voice uncharacteristically calm.

Monique laughed again, though eventually she shrugged. “Why not?”

She craned her neck upwards and closed the distance between her and her friend. The audience hooted and hollered as Minerva returned the kiss, and even Rachel Claire was chuckling in good spirits for the purposefully exaggerated display of affection. When Monique and Minerva eventually broke apart, they both gave the audience dramatic poses and received applause in return.

“You guys said you wanted pride!” Minerva giggled.

“You’re lucky I didn’t bite you.” Monique snickered.

Confession Cam

Monique: “Maybe those hormonal teenagers have got the right idea.” The trendsetter gave the camera a dramatic wink before breaking out into a fit of laughter. “Seriously, though, that kiss is going to be all over the Internet. Fan sites here I come!”

“-And I love your hair, and did I mention that you’re the best television host I know? And your sense of style is killer, and your movies…”

The press conference was coming to an end, and the short fan questioning round began. As the post-conference surveys were being handed out, fans with questions lined up at the microphone waiting for their turn. Currently, a Chris McLean super fan was practically melting at the sight of the host.

“-And, seriously, where do you live? Because I want to-”

“Okay, okay, next!” Rachel Claire waved her hand at the obsessive fan and two security guards took her away. A gum-snapping fan with big hair and high heels on stepped up to the microphone.

“This question is for Allison. Why do you hate Avery the Queen so much?”

“My excuse is a natural personality clash.” Allison answered. “If you want the details just re-watch all of our interactions from episodes one through eight. I think it should be obvious.”

The Avery fan left the microphone and was replaced by a snickering teenage boy. “Sebastian, since you’re a gambling guy, who would you bet to win in a full-on catfight: Avery or Elena?”

“Avery, of course.” Sebastian answered curtly. “She’s a lot harsher than Elena ever was, and Elena is all talk. Avery takes action.”

“Thank you.” The drama queen batted her eyes at the Emmy from down the table. “It’s my bad attitude that gives me such a prominent feature in RealityGossip magazine.”

“Cara!” Another fan called out to the tree hugger. “Now that you’ve found out about Isaac and Avery’s little romp in the kitchen, what’s your opinion on her?”

Cara didn’t answer, and Irina had to elbow her to get her to stop making eyes at Isaac. “I’m sorry, what?”

“What do you think of Avery?”

“I’m not going to make myself look bad by saying anything too mean, but I think that she’s selfish and inconsiderate of others.” Cara admitted. “Despite this, she does care about her team and makes a good effort in most challenges.”

A new fan approached the microphone and adjusted his collar. “This is a question for everybody. What’s been the hardest elimination so far?”

The cast went down the line and listed off the most heartbreaking eliminations, though the results were rather predictable. Eventually, a bell rang, and Rachel Claire got to her feet.

“Well, that means we’re out of time! Your surveys will be collected and the votes for the winner will be counted on the way back to the film set. Contestants, to the limos!”

The contestants had piled into the limousines and arrived back at McLean Studios. Still dressed in their Ramzi apparel, the thirteen conscious contestants were brought down to the Team’s Choice Awards amphitheater. Each team was seated on a separate set of bleachers as Chris took the stage.

“So, first off: Paul’s in the hospital right now, but he’ll be moved to the medical room in The Hotel later tonight. He’s fine, he just had a panic attack and ended up fainting. Turns out his phobia was actually serious.” Chris grimaced. “Whoops.”

He straightened a stack of papers in front of him. “But anyways, there was a clear winner to the challenge… The Emmys! The fans were charmed by the many level-headed answers, Ophelia’s witty comment about Victor, and Minerva and Monique’s smooch. Congratulations on your first win in four challenges!”

The team cheered and left the amphitheater, leaving the remaining contestants disappointed.

“Oscars, sorry ‘bout it, but the fans thought that you had a few personalities in particular stand out over the others. The Emmys seemed to be more balanced. Odd, considering you guys seemed to be the fan favorites.

"This elimination ceremony is working a little differently, though. After you left the press conference, the surveys were tallied and you were determined as the losing team. The fans were then asked to vote for the contestant that impressed them the least on the team. Each hundred fan votes will weigh out to equal one contestant vote in this elimination. Keep that in mind when you cast your votes.”

The Oscars began to file out to wait in line to use the confessional. As they walked out, Avery grabbed Allison by the arm and pulled her aside.

She narrowed her eyes at the scarlet haired girl. “There’s been a change of plans.”

When The Oscars returned, Chris was set up for the Team’s Choice Awards ceremony with silver stars in hand. He looked serious as they sat back down.

“Welcome back, Oscars, to the Team’s Choice Awards ceremony. Tonight is a very special ceremony, so we have a very special ride for you at the end of the Red Carpet of Shame.” A stretch limo pulled up at the curb, though it had a hot tub in the back. There were several people crammed into it holding up drinks. “Today’s loser will get to join in this hot tub party of disgusting reporters. Guests include Mona Brooks, Chavez Milton, Ramzi, that guy whose eyes Ophelia almost clawed out, and more!”

“Who wants a mojito?!” Chavez called out, being joined by a chorus of shallow laughs.

“Fun, right?” Chris laughed. “Yeah, no. Anyway, Paul called in with a vote, so the entire team’s accounted for. The first silver star goes to… Avery! Unlike everybody else that you’ve ever met, the fans love that you’re such a drama queen!”

“Yes! Tabloid queen reigns supreme!” The New Jersey native caught her star and held it proudly above her head.

“Next star goes to…” Chris held the silver item of safety out. “Irina! You’re a natural with the male fans, and I think your smart answers really helped you today.” He tossed two stars to the model. “Take that one for Paul, too. He’s safe. Hurt, but safe.” The host took out the symbol of safety. “Next star goes to… Allison!”

“No witty comment for me?” The Goth asked, catching her star.

“Nah, I think you’ve gotten plenty.” The host smirked. “Last name before the bottom two is… Angel. Your teammates don’t seem to see you as a threat, and the fans didn’t really mention you when voting.”

“I guess that’s better than nothing.” The pyromaniac shrugged, though he scowled at the sight of the bottom two. “Man, this is so wrong!”

Isaac and Cara were left without stars. They exchanged confused glances, and Chris clicked his tongue at them. “Another couple in the bottom two. What gives?” He snickered. “Oh, yeah. I know exactly what happened. Cara, you were boring. Isaac, people expected differently of you. They wanted a bad boy, but they got a love struck fool. If you didn’t notice, your kiss didn’t react as well with the crowd as I would have thought. Turns out you guys were both seen as rather predictable. Minerva and Monique had taken the spotlight away from you two, and you left the fans disappointed.”

“That’s cheap.” Isaac glared.

“Keep in mind, though,” The host continued. “That your teammates’ votes are still considered. You’re not in the bottom two just based on fans’ votes. Looks like somebody has it against you guys.” The egomaniac held up the final star. “The last silver star goes to…


The troublemaker caught his star, an expression of disbelief forming on his face. “This can’t be right! Nobody has it out for Cara, but everybody’s been voting for me since day one!”

“The votes don’t lie, bra.” Chris shrugged.

“Isaac, it’s fine.” Cara put a hand on his arm. “I think the crowd had a big influence on this. And I’m fine. You’re better in challenges, anyway, so you actually have a chance of winning.”

“This shouldn’t be happening!” Isaac let out a few expletives and then wrapped his arms around Cara. “Why now?”

“I don’t know,” Cara returned the embrace just as tightly, leaning her head on his shoulder. “But you’re going to win for us both, right?”

Isaac smiled. “Of course I am.”

“Aw, how sweet. Now get in the hot tub!” Chris demanded, pointing to the Red Carpet of Shame. Isaac released Cara, and she ran over to give Irina a quick hug. Then, she made her way down the red carpet. As soon as she approached the limo, several of the reporters seized her by the wrists.

“Come join us!” Mona Brooks cackled, and they pulled Cara into the water. The limo drove off as the reporters toasted over her head.

“This elimination was crap.” Isaac crossed his arms. “I demand a recount!”

“Dude, you’re safe.” Chris rolled his eyes. “I don’t know how, but deal with it.”

Confession Cam

Isaac: “I can’t believe this. The second I solve my relationship problems, Cara gets voted off. I don’t even know if we’re technically dating or what. I didn’t even have time to ask her because we went right to the elimination.” He leaned on his hand. “I just wish I knew how this happened. How could the fans’ votes have had such an impact?”

Avery: "The press conference had completely changed my strategy. Allison and I had originally agreed to vote off Isaac at our next opportunity. Just one elimination working together, then our deal is over. She was supposed to stick with Angel through the challenge and keep him away from Isaac at all costs. Without his voice of reason, Isaac was bound to do something stupid.” The drama queen put up one finger. “Unfortunately, Isaac and Angel had assigned seats beside each other during the press conference, so that backfired. When Cara and Isaac kissed, though, I had a new plan.

“You heard the booing when they kissed. The crowd doesn’t like expected romance. You could see how many of my fans were there and how many Isaac fan girls there were. I didn’t see a Cara fan anywhere, though. When I realized that Isaac hadn’t done anything dumb enough to earn himself a vote, I decided that we’d instead go for a different angle: target Cara.

"I convinced Irina that Cara had done the worst in the challenge. Meanwhile, Allison claimed to Angel that voting for Cara was a safe bet because there was no way the audience would dislike her because of the kiss. Angel fell for it, and we had our majority vote. I have no idea who Paul voted for, but the audience seemed to have voted just as I’d hoped and Cara’s gone.”

She made a throat slitting motion. “Before you ask, this was just a way of hurting Isaac. I definitely didn’t want to keep him around if I didn’t have to, but when I figured out I couldn’t get him eliminated this challenge this was the next best thing.” Avery gave the camera a sinister grin. “This is why I’m the reigning tabloid queen, and they’re all just twelfth page news.”

Ophelia stared at her face in the bathroom mirror. Her eyes were red and puffy, and there was mascara staining her pale cheeks. She let out a laugh at how pathetic she looked, clutching her Ramzi dress to her pajama-clad chest.

She had managed to wake up. She wasn’t a princess, and she didn’t find who the big bad wolf was yet, but the haze had cleared from her head. Victor was still gone, but she could fight to stay in the game for him. She was in control again, and she was not looking forward to looking back at any of the past two days’ footage.

Donna walked into the bathroom humming, though she froze at the sight of her roommate. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were in here.”

“You don’t have to leave.” Ophelia turned away from the mirror to stop her friend