Hello! Nice to see you again so soon after your last visit. Did you have any luck hauling that infernal genie out of his lamp? Ah, that’s too bad. Well, keep at it. I was assured by the sinister-looking man who sold it to me that it was absolutely authentic and that the genie would indeed appear under the right circumstances. Of course, he wanted another thousand bucks to tell me exactly what those circumstances were. Sure, buddy. I’m not stupid. I can recognize a scam when I see one. I taught him a lesson in bargaining by forking over just the first grand, grabbing my lamp, and storming out of there. I never even turned around. Incidentally, if you do get that genie to appear, I’d sure appreciate it if you thought kindly on me when you make one of those three wishes. Thanks. And now, you are probably interested in hearing about the thrilling conclusion to this greatest of all Survivor series, aren’t you? Well, I’ve managed to pack everything away except the most important piece of equipment I own. Let’s sit cross-legged on the floor and gaze into the cracked crystal ball for the final time this season. There! You see it? The episode of this week’s episode is floating in the ether of the ball’s interior. It’s

...A Hen Terror War

It’s daybreak on Day 37. Rob, Matthew, and Jenna are huddled together in the remodeled shelter. The repeated clangs of Butch’s machete can be heard from deep in the forest, however, which means that none of the three appears to actually be sleeping. In fact, they seem to be spending most of their time shivering and yawning. As Butch lugs the next batch of sufficiently dry branches into camp, Rob suddenly sits up and rolls out of the shelter. “Butch!” he yells. “Could you stop clear-cutting the Amazon for just a few minutes? Please? The rest of us froze all night and would like to get a few minutes of sleep.”

Butch pushes the bill of his hat up with the blade of the machete. “Sorry, guys! I thought the best way to warm everyone up would be to build a roaring fire.”

“No!” the other three cry in unison.

Butch recoils as if bitten by a snake. “I don’t understand it! We all agreed that the fire wasn’t any one person’s fault. Heck, for all we know, The Chain started the fire.”

“Chain?” Jenna asks.

Matthew darts out of the shelter like a shot. He towers over Butch, eyes literally glowing. “You were warned not to speak of The Chain!” he intones. “I pray you have not angered The Chain. The consequences for crossing The Chain can be dire indeed!”

Butch is distraught. “I’m sorry!” he squeaks. “I was just so excited that I was spared last night after apparently setting our camp on fire. I wanted to give due praise to The Chain and its mysterious workings. I would never intentionally dishonor The Chain.”

Rob is puzzled. “What are you guys talking about? What is The Chain?”

Before Matthew can answer, a phone begins to ring. Gazing in the direction of the surprising sound, Jenna spots a pay phone mounted on a tree. “Was that there before?” she asks.

Rob doesn’t answer but trots over to answer the phone. “Hello?”

It’s Jeff. “Quit bickering and get over to Challenge Beach now! It’s time for your next Immunity Challenge.”

Rob holds the phone away from his head and stares at it for a second, then brings the receiver back to his ear. “But - ” he begins.

“We didn’t have time for Tree Mail,” Jeff interrupts. “Nobody could figure out how to write a poem that was up to our normal high standards. Just hang up the phone and get over here, all right?”

“How’d you know we were bickering?” Rob asks suspiciously.

“When aren’t you bickering? Hang. Up. NOW!”

Rob slams the receiver in the cradle and turns to tell the others it’s time to go. As they head off, Jeff steps out from behind the tree and removes the pay phone, which was hanging on a nail. Extending out of the back of the phone is a string with a tin can on the end. He trots off into the jungle, dragging the phone behind him, and arrives at Challenge Beach well before the weary Survivors.

“Come on in, guys!” Jeff shouts, tossing the phone behind a nearby bush. “Well, guys, you’ve been here 37 days. And you know what that means, don’t you?” The four Survivors stare at him dumbly. “It means three of you will have suffered for almost the maximal amount of time and will still leave this place as losers. Kinda stings, doesn’t it?” He grins wryly and makes eye contact with each Survivor, locking eyes until the other person crumbles and looks meekly at the ground. Doesn’t work on Matthew, of course, but Jeff gets credit for even trying, even if the lengthy silence is kind of uncomfortable for everyone else. “All right,” Jeff finally says. “Today’s Immunity Challenge is a new spin on a Survivor classic. How many of you have invested some of your mental resources remembering every minute detail about your fellow contestants?”

The three men raise their hands. Jenna squints in confusion, then slowly raises her hand, too.

Jeff laughs. “Don’t worry, Jenna. This time, it doesn’t matter at all that you ignored everyone around you. We’re going to play a little game called Falling Comrades. Take a look at the mighty Amazon out there.” Everyone looks out to the river, where four tall diving towers are visible. There are two on each side of the river spaced about thirty yards apart. At the base of each tower is a cluster of three previously-booted Survivors. “Each of you will step up and draw three tiles from this bag.” He carelessly waves a little bag around. “Each tile will have the name of one of your fallen comrades. Your job is to catch each of your comrades in your canoe when they jump off the dive tower. Each of them has been assigned a tower, but the jump order is completely random. The one of you that catches the most Survivors in your canoe wins Immunity, can’t be voted out, and – just to drive this home for you, Jenna – has a one-in-three chance at a million dollars.”

Matthew is staring out at the river. “Why are there only three canoes, Jeff?” he asks.

“Oh, there are four,” Jeff assures him. “Yours happens to have a giant hole in it so it’s on the bottom of the river. I didn’t think you’d mind.”

“Not at all,” Matt says placidly. “Thanks.”

Jeff’s lips compress tightly, and he makes fists with both hands. “All right,” he growls. “Let’s draw names.” Everyone grabs tiles and hops in their canoes. Only Matthew’s head is visible above the surface of the water as he sits in his submerged canoe. “Survivors ready? Go!”

Immediately, Matthew’s canoe arches out of the water, powered by the furious paddling of his oar. His arms are pumping as fast as a hummingbird’s wings. He paddles to the center of the river and sets his canoe into a spin so he can monitor all four dive towers. The spiral wake generated by his canoe nearly capsizes the other Survivors’ boats. Then the booted Survivors begin jumping off the towers. First comes Roger, who nobody bothers to even try to catch. “Jenna, that was yours!” Jeff shouts from shore. Jenna shrugs.

Next comes Dave, who’s wearing a plain black T-shirt which reads, “Pay no attention to that rocket science behind the fabric of the universe.” He picks Rob’s nearby canoe and aims for it on his jump. “Wait, Dave, no!” Butch yells, waving his tile around. Too late, Dave lands safely in Rob’s boat.

“No!” Jeff yells. “Wrong canoe, Dave. No point for Butch!”

Dave points at Roger, who is yelling and swatting at clinging piranha as he swims desperately to shore, and shrugs. “Do you think I care how many points Butch gets?”

The contest continues. Matthew easily catches Daniel in his boat, but Alex jumps almost simultaneously from the other side of the river. Even paddling in full reverse at freeway speeds, Matthew is only able to arrive in time to clock Alex in the head with the stern of his boat. He then pauses to drag the unconscious Alex into the canoe and dump him on the floor. This delay causes him to miss Janet, as well. “Matthew finishes with one!” Jeff yells, punctuating his exclamation with a little giggle at the end. “This is your chance, people!”

Jenna winds up with zero as she decides not to paddle out to get anyone if she’s just going to get voted out, anyway. Butch catches Jeanne and Christy, who had the good fortune of leaping from the same tower. None of Rob’s Survivors have actually jumped yet. And, unfortunately for him, they’re spread out all around the river. As Ryan and Joanna prepare to jump almost simultaneously from opposite sides of the river, Rob raises his hands in surrender. “It’s impossible!” he whines. Suddenly, his boat soars out of the water and flies directly underneath Joanna, who steps in. The boat then banks hard to the right and zips across the river to catch Ryan. Deena was about to jump, but the wild antics of Rob’s canoe holds her attention. “Jump!” Jeff screams. “Jump!” Deena steps off the platform and speeds towards the water. Rob’s boat again executes a sharp right turn, then dives at an incredible speed toward Deena’s tower. Rob and his passengers scream in terror and cover their eyes. They don’t see Deena’s feet catch the bow of the boat, sending her toppling backwards into Rob’s lap. “Immunity to Rob!” Jeff shouts. “Somehow.” He glances at Matthew, whose boat has sunk again in all the excitement. Matthew is pale and covered with sweat. He opens his eyes and flashes his teeth at Jeff, who screams and throws the Immunity Necklace at Rob before high-tailing it back into the jungle.

At Tribal Council that night, Butch is voted out 3-1. He looks incredibly sad as his torch is extinguished. Before leaving, he turns to Matthew and nods his head sorrowfully. “I had it coming, Matt. And you warned me. I should have known better than to taunt The Chain.” He looks at the others and waves his hand in farewell. “Safety first, everyone. Sheathe those machetes.”

Bright and early the next morning, Jeff creeps into camp with a pair of cymbals. He quietly ascends to the top of the shelter, being careful not to wake the three sleeping Survivors within. Then, with wide eyes and his mouth partially open, he commences rapidly smashing the cymbals together. He looks like a wind-up monkey toy.

Rob and Jenna yell in fear as they jerk awake. Matthew stands up and jams his hand through the roof of the shelter. He grabs Jeff by the ankle and hauls Jeff down through the ceiling. “Whuff!” Jeff exclaims as he lands on his back in the bottom of the shelter. The cymbals smash to the ground with a loud clatter.

Matthew climbs onto Jeff’s stomach, using his knees to pin the host’s arms to the ground. “I warned you against waking us like that,” he says. Then he proceeds to pound on Jeff’s exposed chest with the fingers on both hands.

“No! Noooo!” Jeff cries, writhing desperately and kicking his legs. “Not The Typewriter! Noooo!” Matthew tortures Jeff for several more minutes. Cries of mingled despair and laughter fill the forest. Finally, Matthew stands and allows Jeff to rise.

Wiping tears from his eyes and rubbing his chest, Jeff stares at Matthew sullenly. “Just to clarify, we always wake the Survivors up early for the last endurance Challenge, you psycho. I should just throw you out of this game right now, but I won’t. I’m taking the high road. I’m a nicer guy than you. Remember that.” He coughs and wipes his nose. “All right, everyone. Let’s go.”

He leads them past a row of torches with everyone’s name on it. “There are those guys you saw yesterday,” he says blandly. “Their torches, anyway. Remember them for a second, if you feel like it.” Then he leads them past a group of Amazon tribespeople. “Now think about the culture of this strange and exotic place,” he reads monotonously from a 3x5 index card. He points quickly at the tribespeople and keeps walking. They walk to a pile of feathers. “Put one of these in your hair. It’s a symbol of how much you’ve changed in your 38 days here.” He walks off before everyone’s had a chance to pick out a feather. As they rush to keep up with him, Jeff waves his hand at the trees and the river, visible in the distance. “And, finally, your environment. Remember that? What a time you have had. Soon, you will return to your boring existences and all of this will seem like a dream. I, on the other hand, will be back next season to torment the sixteen people who will have taken your place.” He takes a deep breath. “But I’m getting ahead of myself. Today, we’re still talking about you. This final Immunity Challenge will test how much you want it. It’s the standard Hands on the Immunity Idol thing we like to do when we’re down to three contestants. All you have to do is keep your hands on the Immunity Idol longer than everyone else. If you do that, you win Immunity and get to pick who joins you in front of the jury.” He claps his hands. “Bring forth the Immunity Idol!” he yells.

Mark Burnett dashes out of the trees with a small cage, which he places at Jeff’s feet. He waves wildly at the Survivors before sprinting back into the forest. Jeff kneels to open the cage. “It’s time for...Hands on the Immunity Chicken!” he cries as he stands and holds a fat hen over his head. The chicken is wearing the Immunity Necklace.

“Curse you!” Matthew exclaims. “You knew I fear chickens!”

Jeff nods smugly. “Not only that, but we happen to know from the Survivor psychologist that all other living creatures make Jenna uncomfortable and that Rob is terrified of chicks, too. You’re all going to be rather put off by this Challenge. This is going to be a war! A hen terror war.” He grins cornily into the camera. “Should be very interesting.” He places the chicken on top of the cage. “All right, everyone. Lean in nice and close and touch the Immunity Chicken.” With heads turned in disgust, all three Survivors place a hand on the IC. “No grabbing on now!” Jeff warns. “Just lay your hand there. Good.” The chicken looks curiously at each of the Survivors now touching its back. It clucks questioningly. Matthew grits his teeth. Beads of sweat are forming on his forehead. “Survivors ready?” Jeff asks. He reaches behind a large rock and retrieves the slightly-dented cymbals from the morning wakeup call.

“No! NO!” Matthew exclaims.

“Ooooh, yeah!” Jeff laughs. “Go!” He simultaneously smashes the cymbals together. The Immunity Chicken squawks and leaps into the air. Amazingly, all three Survivors manage to keep at least one finger laying on the chicken during this maneuver. Then the Immunity Chicken lands on the cage and leaps to the ground, away from Rob. He loses contact. “Rob is out!” Jeff shouts. Matthew leaps over the cage and lands in a crouch on the other side. The chicken heads into the forest at a dead run, with Jenna and Matthew stooped over and loping along beside it. Right before reaching the tree line, however, the chicken veers wildly away from Matthew. Digging his feet into the sand, he propels himself horizontally in pursuit of the chicken. He runs on his knees for a while after he lands. The Immunity Chicken suddenly stops and flaps its wings. Jenna shrieks and pulls her hand away. “Immunity to Matthew!” Jeff yells. “Go ahead and grab that Necklace from the chicken.” His face twisted in revulsion, Matthew secures the Necklace and sprints away from the Immunity Chicken.

At Tribal Council that evening, Matthew surprises everyone by stabbing Rob in the back. He also casts his vote for Rob, which eliminates him from the game. “Why, Matt, why?” Rob whines as he bends his arms around awkwardly to try to remove the knife. “I taught you everything about this game!”

“That’s it exactly,” Matthew says with a shrug. Defeated, Rob shuffles off, the knife still protruding from his back.

Matthew and Jenna return to camp for the final evening at Jacare. Unfortunately, they don’t get to partake in the Survivor tradition of burning the camp to the ground. Butch already deprived them of that singular joy. The two just sit there quietly until morning.

At last, the final Tribal Council is here. Jeff welcomes the jury members with a hearty bear hug, then affixes a giant strip of duct tape to their mouths. Once they’re all seated, Jeff addresses the jury. “OK, here’s the thing. You guys typically ask such horrible questions that we decided you can’t ask questions anymore. I mean, how many times do we have to hear people crying about being stabbed in the back? It’s not going to change your mind, is it? If Jenna apologizes for stabbing you in the back, Christy, will you suddenly decide to vote for her?” Christy shakes her head. “Of course not! It’s all just a sham! You guys have made up your minds already, haven’t you?” Everyone looks at each other and nods. “That’s what I thought. So let’s just dispense with the charade and let you guys go make your votes right now.” As each jury member stands to make their vote, Jeff grabs an end of the duct tape and rips it swiftly off their face. “Just in case you want to make a comment in the voting booth,” he says, grinning as they yelp and rub their cheeks.

When Jeff tallies the votes, it’s yet another 4-3 squeaker. And the winner is Matthew. He leaps off of his stump in excitement and holds his fists over his head. He looks to the heavens and suddenly begins to glow a bright orange color. A beam of pure white light shoots from his raised hands into the skies overhead and explodes in a beautiful display of fireworks. The other Survivors ooh and aah, applauding wildly at the show. Even Jeff expresses his delight by jumping up and down and clapping. Matthew converts into pure energy and sweeps around the room, lifting each jury member into the air and settling them gently back on their stump. He does the same to Jenna and Jeff. Then he reconstitutes in the center of the Tribal Council area and lets out a whoop of excitement. “Woo-hoo!” he yells. “The folks back on the mother ship are never gonna believe this one!”

And the visions are gone. Wow, it’s been an amazing season. Thank you so much for visiting my humble shop every week. Your support was truly appreciated. I’ve enjoyed sharing the future with you. Let’s do it again for Survivor 7, shall we? See you then!

Your comments are welcome. E-mail paulie@fansofrealitytv.com.

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