Hello, my friend! So nice to see you again. I trust you’ve been well. That’s sort of a joke, actually. I knew a month ago that this past week was going to be good to you. It was all I could do to prevent myself from congratulating you in advance when you left last week. Ah, yes. You’ve noticed my bandages. Well, the week hasn’t been as kind to me, I’m afraid. Yes, just as the fabulous magician Roy was injured in the line of duty last week in Las Vegas, so, too, did I suffer work-related trauma. I was conducting a reading of my Tarot cards for a long-time customer. I was employing a well-worn deck, one with which I was very well acquainted. My customer asked me a challenging question which required all of my abilities, my dedicated attention to the unseen and inscrutable. And it was during the course of this mysterious communion that I squeezed the cards in my hand too tightly, causing them to fly out of my hands like a pack of frightened miniature doves. I awoke from my trance to see my customer’s back as she dashed from the room, screaming “They’re attacking him! They’re attacking him!” Looking down, I saw blood all over my hands from a series of ferocious paper cuts. And so I sit before you now with my hands heavily wrapped in gauze, a testament to the unknown dangers of my profession. Fortunately for both of us, I don’t require my hands to divine the future of the next Survivor episode using my cracked crystal ball. Well, I do have to wave them in the air and so forth, but the bandages don’t interfere with that. In fact, let me demonstrate. I’m sure you’re more than ready to hear about what will happen in this week’s episode. Ah, the images are beginning to take shape in the murky recesses of the cracked crystal ball. I see the title of the episode now. It’s
Kick The Hats This Way...And Be Fast, OK?
It’s a dark and windy evening, the ninth night of the Survivors’ odyssey in the Pearl Islands. The five members of the Morgan tribe are leaning over the sides of their boat, paddling quietly with their hands after yet another visit to Tribal Council. It’s been almost an hour since Lill was sent home. “All right,” Andrew commands. “Everybody up. Let’s rest our arms for a few minutes before the big push to the finish. We’ll all need our strength.” Osten sniffs noisily in agreement, wiping his nose with the back of his hand.
Darrah sits up and stretches her arms over her head. “Thass a guh deyedee, Aiyandroo. Ah wuz sahyo tarred.”
Andrew’s head snaps around, his eyes wide open in shock. “Darrah?!” he gasps. “Wh-what are you doing here?”
Ryan’s face is white. “Oh, my god, Andrew. We forgot to vote her out!”
Andrew’s mouth opens and closes wordlessly. Then he says, “She was so quiet. I-I didn’t realize she was still sitting there.”
Tijuana raises a hand to her open mouth as she draws in her breath sharply. “But that means - ”
“Lill!” Osten chokes. “Oh, no! Lill!”
Everyone except Darrah leans out of the boat and begins paddling furiously. The boat quickly spins around as the Morgan tribe prepares to return to the Tribal Council area. In about half the time it took them to paddle out, they make it back. Andrew grabs Darrah and tosses her over his shoulder, then joins the others as they scramble out of the boat. The group dashes onto the Tribal Council set and calls out for Jeff or Lill. An elderly janitor sweeping the area shouts in surprise and spins around to goggle at the new arrivals. He backs quickly away and trips over one of the stumps in the seating area, falling awkwardly onto his back. “What in the name of J. Edgar Hoover are you dingbats doin’ here at this hour?” he finally asks when he’s caught his breath.
Andrew strides up to the old man and glares at him imperiously. “We must see Jeff Probst immediately,” he says. “There’s been a terrible mistake.”
“Ever’body left here over an hour ago. They’re all back at camp by now.”
Osten leans down and grasps the old man by his shirt collar. “Where is camp? Where are they?” He coughs for effect.
The frightened custodian raises a quivering hand and points at a narrow trail leading off through the trees. In a flash, the Survivors run to the trail and disappear into the trees. The old man struggles to his feet and dusts himself off as he stares after them. “Idiots,” he grumbles before turning to pick up his broom and continue sweeping.
The Morgans dash along the trail for a couple of minutes before emerging into a wide clearing filled with tents. The largest tent in the compound is brightly lit from the inside, and the Survivors can hear loud talking and the occasional cheer coming from within as the production crew watches a baseball game on satellite. The aroma of barbecued meat fills the air, and Ryan points to a pig slow-roasting on a spit. For the moment, all thoughts of Jeff and Lill vanish as the hungry tribe stares at the decadent spectacle.
Wordlessly, the group approaches the pig. “Just a little taste,” Osten whispers, his hands outstretched. Not watching his feet, Osten kicks a small stack of pots and pans. The stack collapses with a loud clatter of metal upon metal, and Osten crumples to the ground, holding his toes. Many faces pop out of some nearby tents. Jeff himself takes a peek out of his own tent before barreling out to confront the Survivors.
“What are you doing here?!” he shouts. He’s wearing a long dressing gown, comfortable slippers, and a floppy night cap whose pointed top hangs down to about his waist. “You aren’t allowed back here.”
Andrew holds out one hand and raises his index finger. “Wait till you’ve heard what we have to say, Jeff,” he pleads. “This is very, very important.” He turns to the others and whispers urgently, “Who were we going to vote out?”
Tijuana points wordlessly to the woman on Andrew’s shoulder.
“Oh! Right! Thanks, T,” he mutters. Whirling back, he quickly deposits Darrah on the ground at Jeff’s feet. “We’d like to vote her out instead.”
“What?!” Jeff cries. “You’re insane. You guys already voted Lill out. It was unanimous. Now get out of here.” He turns and heads back to his tent.
Andrew takes a couple steps and grabs Jeff’s shoulder. “No, no, no. Wait! Hear us out. See, what happened is we forgot to vote out Darrah. That’s who we meant to get rid of from the beginning, but she just slipped our minds at the critical moment.”
Jeff rotates very slowly on his heel and glares icily at Andrew’s hand, which still rests on his shoulder. Andrew quickly withdraws his hand as if it had been resting on a hot stove. “Not. A. Chance,” he says. “Lill’s probably unconscious right now, anyway. And she’s undoubtedly moments away from regurgitating all the pizza and root beer she wolfed down. You can’t have her.”
Ryan speaks up. “But-but her torch didn’t go out the first time. Doesn’t that mean she gets to stay in? There must be some special rule or something.”
“The only special rule I’m thinking of right now is the one in my contract which prevents me from beating you over the head with one of these pans. If the five of you don’t disappear by the time I count to three, I’m going to snuff all of your torches. Tonight! And then the beatings can begin. One...”
Realizing the futility of further arguing, the group takes off running. Osten scrambles to his feet and chases after the others, limping along like Quasimodo at a track meet. Jeff shakes his head angrily, then tosses the tip of his night cap over his shoulder and heads back to bed.
The Morgans thunder out of the forest and across the Tribal Council set, causing the old janitor, who’d already forgotten about them, to yell and dive behind Jeff’s podium. They run all the way down to the boat and leap inside, paddling as rapidly as possible with their hands. They arrive back at Morgan Beach around three in the morning and immediately crawl into their hut. There, they collapse in exhaustion, little heeding the uncomfortable hardness of the bamboo flooring. Just before drifting off to sleep, Andrew mutters, “Tomorrow morning, we fix this floor.”
Early the next morning, the eight members of the Drake tribe awaken and prepare for another day of domination. Burton heads over to the wood hutch and retrieves several split logs for the morning fire. Sandra and Christa begin to sort yesterday’s haul of fish into piles: breakfast, lunch, dinner, midafternoon snack, and midnight munchies. Rupert resumes clear-cutting the surrounding area by pushing down the trees for firewood. In short, everyone’s busy and productive, a vital cog in a smoothly-running machine.
Everyone, that is, except Jon. He’s wandering around camp, hands in pockets, trying to engage his tribemates in conversation or, worse, trying to tell them a joke. The others are assiduously ignoring him. With an impotent stomp of his foot on the soft sand, he decides to head off and look for Tree Mail.
Within moments, he returns, clutching a small red price tag with gold trim. “Tree Mail!” he blares, raising one arm and waving his hand toward himself to gather the others around him. When everyone arrives, he clears his throat to begin reading.
Sandra snatches the price tag out of his hand and reads it silently. “It’s time to go,” she says. “The Reward Challenge is about to start.”
Over at Snap Shark Challenge Duck Beacheroo Bay, the Morgans are already waiting. There is no sign of Jeff, however. The Survivors mill around on their mats, anxious to get started with the big Challenge. Finally, a familiar theme song fills the air from hidden speakers high in the trees. Then Jeff emerges. He’s sporting a Botany 500 suit and carrying a long, thin microphone. He’s also wearing a pure white wig. Like the music, he looks very familiar, but none of the Survivors can place the resemblance.
“Welcome to today’s Reward Challenge,” Jeff says into the microphone. He looks self-conscious about his appearance.
“Um, Jeff,” Andrew asks. “What’s with the outfit?”
Jeff scowls at him. “It’s a little idea I had. I thought it would be fun to get back to our game show roots. Fun, huh?” The Survivors say nothing. Jeff sighs deeply and rubs the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “All right, let’s get this over with. Wanna know what you’re playing for?” Taken off guard by the abruptness of the question, the Survivors simply stare without answering. “Good!” Jeff cries. “Tell ‘em what they’ll win, Rod Roddy!”
A portly, bespectacled man in a garishly-colored striped sport coat and red sequined bowtie cartwheels out of the forest. He smiles in exaggerated fashion at the Survivors before bellowing out the day’s prize list. “A handsome collection of flatware, an enchanting dinette set, and a revealing portion of the treasure map!” As he speaks, previously unseen platforms rotate in place to reveal the prizes mentioned, along with attractive young female models who enhance the display of the product with elegant, sweeping hand gestures and dazzling smiles.
Rupert gawks at Jeff in disbelief. “But that’s a bunch of crap!” he protests. “We already have a dinette set.”
“Hey!” Jeff snaps. “Do you want me to just hand the prizes to Morgan? Is that what you want? Huh? Do you? I didn’t think so. What if you lose your current dinette set in a pirate raid, Hotshot? Or, worse, what if they come over and take your spoon?” Andrew strokes his chin thoughtfully. “Now you’ve got protection. Er, I mean, you will if you win this Challenge.”
Rupert doesn’t appear to be convinced, but he doesn’t push the issue. “All right,” he says. “So how do we win this stuff?”
“That’s the spirit!” Jeff says brightly. “Drake, you’ll need to sit out Jon and two other people. The remaining players on both teams will square off in a series of five head-to-head pricing duels. We’ll wave some overpriced junk in your face that you normally wouldn’t buy. Whoever bids closest to the actual retail price of the product – without going over, by God! – wins a chip. Once all five chips have been awarded, the chip winners will join me in a final game of...” He pauses to build suspense, his eyes twinkling in excitement. “Plinko! The tribe that accumulates the most money in the Plinko game wins Reward. Everyone got it?”
“Got it, Bob!” Jon crows. Then he squawks delightedly and scans the stony faces of his tribemates eagerly. “Don’t you get it?” he asks. “He’s supposed to be Bob Barker! Jonny Fairplay is funny!”
Jeff rolls his eyes up and shakes his head sadly. “Somebody go sit him down and shut him up.”
Burton and Rupert each take one of Jon’s arms and escort him to a row of nearby stumps. “It’s The Price Is Right,” Jon giggles. “That was the theme song we heard. Get it?” Once they’re seated, Rupert puts Jon in a headlock and settles in to watch the action.
Jeff nods in satisfaction. “All right. Survivors ready? Go!” The first pair of bidders, Michelle and Tijuana, glance at each other in confusion. Jeff sighs in exasperation. “Come down here to Contestants’ Row and get ready to bid!” He points at a hidden trench with two giant digital displays on the ground in front of it. The two women climb down into the trench and await the arrival of the first prize.
Rod Roddy re-appears, this time wearing a ruffled tuxedo shirt under bib overalls and pedaling a unicycle. One of the models walks beside him, lugging the first item up for bids. “It’s a stunning mounted alligator’s head!” Rod Roddy exclaims. The model holds up the large head and runs a perfectly-manicured hand along the stuffed alligator’s snout. She highlights the teeth with her index finger. “Perfect for home or office, this attractive conversation piece will fool your friends back home into thinking you faced grave dangers during your time in the Pearl Islands.”
“I need a bid,” Jeff says, pointing at Michelle.
She turns to her team and shrugs. They yell random, unintelligible numbers at her. Finally, she leans into her microphone and says, “I’ll bid $1300 dollars, Bob.” Jon snorts in amusement from his position under Rupert’s armpit. “I mean...Jeff.”
Jeff swivels quickly and points at Tijuana. “Bid!” he cries.
“One dollar, uh, Jeff.”
Before Jeff opens the envelope with the actual retail price inside, he pauses. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!” he says. “One dollar? Don’t you want any shot at all of reaching into my pocket for the hundred-dollar bill? You do realize you can win $100 if you nail the price perfectly, right?” Tijuana nods slowly. Jeff waits for her to change her bid, but she is silent. “All right,” he sighs. “Whatever. Do what you want. Actual retail price is...” He opens the envelope and pulls the price tag out. “Seven dollars. It was on sale. Tijuana, here’s your Plinko chip.”
Four more rounds of prizes take place in that fashion. In the end, Morgan winds up with four chips to Drake’s one. Jeff nods sagely, then throws his head back and yells, “Bring forth the Plinko board!”
Rod Roddy emerges once more from the jungle. This time, he’s wearing just a giant diaper. He’s juggling three flaming torches and singing the Price Is Right theme at the top of his lungs. Behind him, the three models sweat and strain as they drag the enormous Plinko board through the sand to Jeff. When they finally arrive, they bend over and grab their knees to catch their breath, their plastic smiles still fixed pleasantly on their faces. “All right,” Jeff says. “Get on up there, Andrew. Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Andrew mounts the stairs beside the large peg board and takes his position at the very top. Below the rows and rows of pegs are several slots labeled with dollar values ranging from $0 to $1000 with one brightly-colored $10,000 slot in the dead center. Andrew positions his chip above the big money slot and releases it. The chip bounces wildly between the pegs, apparently heading directly for the $10,000 slot, then veers off at the last minute and clunks into the $0 slot. The Morgans groan while Jeff laughs. “You guys are truly pathetic,” he chuckles. “OK, Ryan, you’re up.” Ryan and Andrew pass each other on the stairs. Ryan lines up the $10,000 slot and releases the chip. Instantly, it bounces to the outside of the board and skitters all the way down to the $100 slot. Tijuana scores a $500, giving the Morgans $600 total when Christa climbs the stairs to release Drake’s lone chip.
“Oh, I’m so nervous! Oh, I’m so nervous!” she says. “I’m the only hope for my tribe, the only hope for my tribe.” She releases the chip and watches it carom crazily to the bottom. “You don’t line it up over the $10,000. Not over the $10,000,” she comments. It lands in the $1000 slot, giving the lead to Drake. “Definitely one thousand dollars!” she exclaims, nodding enthusiastically. “Definitely one thousand dollars!”
Jeff looks at the last remaining Morgan member with a chip in his hand and immediately starts laughing. “Oh, boy, how did this happen again? All right, Osten. It’s all up to you, my man. Best of luck. Don’t choke.”
Wide-eyed, Osten trudges up the stairs and prepares to drop his chip. Heeding Christa’s suggestions, he lines up over the $0 slot, in hopes that the chip will drop into the middle and add $10,000 to the tribe’s total. He releases the chip and watches anxiously as it skips and hops among the pegs. It reaches the last row of pegs and balances perfectly between the $10,000 slot and the $0 one. For several seconds, it is absolutely motionless. The Survivors can barely breathe. Finally, Osten slams his fist atop the Plinko board. “Come on, man! Fall!” he yells. The vibrations sent through the structure cause the chip to wobble slightly before it finally falls into a slot.
“Drake wins Reward!” Jeff yells, pointing at Osten’s chip in the $0 slot. Rupert unleashes a powerful, lip-rippling yell as his tribe gathers their loot. Michelle dances joyfully with the silverware while the men load the dinette set onto Rupert’s back. Sandra grabs the last third of the map, and the tribe heads back to their beach.
As the Morgans prepare to leave, Tijuana suddenly turns to Jeff. “Hey,” she says. “Do I get to keep the alligator head?”
Jeff smiles and shakes his head. “Sorry, no. We weren’t really giving that stuff away. The alligator is mine, you know. I bought it in the Amazon.” He puts his arms around two of the models and heads off into the trees.
Back at Drake Beach, the tribe is excitedly digging up their treasure. The fully-assembled map reveals the position exactly, as maps are supposed to do. Within minutes of digging into the soft sand, Burton hits wood with his shovel. The rest of the tribe immediately lends a hand by hauling sand out of the hole with their bare hands. Before long, enough of the chest has been revealed that Rupert can lean in and lift it out. He grunts in pain as he struggles to remove the large chest from its hole. “It’s really heavy,” he gasps joyfully, his eyes darting back and forth at his tribemates. He places the chest on the ground next to the hole and pauses for a moment before popping the latch.
Immediately, the lid springs open and an enormous person shoots into a standing position like a real-life jack-in-the-box. The Survivors yell and jump away from the chest in surprise. Shawn whimpers and runs very far away. Then Trish gets a good look at the standing man, who is now waving at everyone with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. “Richard Hatch?!” she exclaims. “What are you doing here?”
“Hello, there,” Richard says smugly. “I’m just here to remind everyone that the greatest Survivor player in the world is still out there, and I’m fully prepared to defend my title in the next series. Are you listening, Burnett? By the way, that was some excellent food. Thank you!”
“There’s food in there?” Sandra asks excitedly.
“There was,” he grins. A tranquilizer dart hisses out of the trees and catches Richard squarely in the flank. He squeaks and falls backwards out of the treasure chest. The Drakes surround the chest and discover a deep mat of empty food wrappers, as well as several rows of empty bottles.
“No!!” Rupert roars. He grabs the unconscious Richard and hurls him into the ocean. A submarine surfaces, and Mark Burnett pokes his head out. He scoops Richard into a giant fishing net and brings him inside the sub, which promptly disappears beneath the waves again. “I can’t wait for the next Challenge,” Rupert growls. “I need to take out some aggression.”
He gets his chance the next day when the tribes convene at Ducksnap Shark Challenge Bay Beach. Jeff is waiting for them. On either side of him are two hat racks, each bearing hats of all different types. “Welcome, everyone,” Jeff begins. “As you all know, pirates have a rich history of wearing hats. Today’s Immunity Challenge will force you to be like a pirate and wear hats, too. Morgan, if you guys lose this one, the show will become painfully predictable and annoying down the stretch so could you please try to win for a change?” He makes eye contact with each member of the Morgan tribe in turn and waits for a half-hearted nod or some other sign of agreement from each one. “All right then. Here’s how it works. As usual, Drake will sit out three people. The remaining five will participate in a relay race with the Morgans. One by one, you run down to me and grab a hat off the rack. You have to put the hat on and wear it all the way back to your mat. Once both your feet touch the mat, the next person can take off. First team with all five tribe members assembled on your mat, each wearing a hat, wins Immunity. Drake, which two people will be joining Jon on the sidelines?” Michelle and Sandra raise their hands. “OK, Survivors ready? Go!”
Shawn and Andrew race out to their respective hat racks. Shawn claps an Army helmet on his head and sprints back to the mat while Andrew tries to struggle into a blue bonnet. By the time Andrew hits the Morgan mat, Christa is already at the hat rack and slipping a fedora onto her head. The Morgans are unable to make up the distance throughout the entire remainder of the race. Rupert jumps onto the mat and throws his top hat into the air in celebration of another well-earned Immunity victory.
“No, no! It’s not over!” Jeff yells. “Now you have to, um, put the hats back on the racks. That’s right. And you have to kick them on the ground in front of you. Yes. Kick the hats this way...and be fast, OK?” He grins at the camera. “So keep going. Now! Move!”
Andrew takes advantage of the Drakes’ confusion to take an early lead in the second segment of the race. Shawn throws his helmet on the ground and takes off after him. Slowly, the Drakes continue to make up ground. By the time Christa touches the mat the second time, Trish is just a few inches behind Darrah. Kicking her derby along the ground in front of her, Trish overtakes Darrah, hangs up her hat, and sprints back to the mat to tag Burton.
Jeff produces an enormous electric fan and puts it in front of Drake’s hat rack. Sand kicks up viciously into Burton’s eyes, and the baseball cap he was kicking flies into the air back over the heads of his tribemates. “Can’t use your hands!” Jeff cries.
Burton sprints back and pins his hat to the ground with his foot. Then, covering his eyes with his forearm, he drags the hat along under his foot. He passes Darrah going the other way as she returns from hanging her general’s cap on the rack. Moments later, Burton manages to hang up the baseball cap and dash back to Rupert.
Osten is struggling with his hat. The breeze from the Drakes’ fan is having its effect on the lightweight beret he’d selected. Reluctantly, Jeff turns off the fan and yells encouragement to Osten. Rupert, meanwhile, delivers a powerful kick that sends his top hat right to the base of the rack. He rumbles over and quickly hangs it up before turning to run back to his mat.
Jeff leaps from his position between the two racks and tackles Rupert around the ankles. “Come on, Osten!” he roars. Rupert is dragging himself through the sand, leaving a giant furrow in the ground behind him as Jeff tries to dig his feet into the ground to halt Rupert’s progress. Finally, Jeff slips off the big man’s legs. Rupert scrambles to regain his feet as Osten runs by him. Rupert gets a running start and propels himself through the air in an awe-inspiring leap. He lands at the edge of his mat and curls into a ball, then leans forward and somersaults into position next to his tribemates just moments before Osten arrives at his own mat.
“Immunity to Morgan!” Jeff cries, holding his hands in the air.
“What?!” Andrew and Rupert cry.
“Hey, I call ‘em like I see ‘em,” Jeff says, his jaw set. “I’m sure the replays will prove me right. Morgan won fair and square. I’ll see you at Tribal Council tomorrow night, Drake.” Before anyone can say anything else, he turns and darts into the trees.
The Morgans tentatively pull the Immunity Idol out of the ground and stare at it in wonder. “I’d suggest you folks get out of here now before I decide to take that from you by force,” Rupert says, his face set in a dangerous-looking scowl. The Morgans stare at him for just a second, then race back to their boat, giggling nervously in unaccustomed triumph.
The next evening, Drake boots Jon in a surprising 8-1 vote. “I added my own vote...just in case,” Jeff says as he snuffs Jon’s torch.
And here the visions end. Come back next week to hear about the fifth episode of Survivor. The doctor says my bandages will be off by then. Bye!
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