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Sole Survivor

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This was all Verity’s fault. She had convinced him that this would be fun, a great idea. He should have just made her do it. But no, she had convinced him to apply to be on Survivor of all things and now here he was trudging along with fifteen other people. They were being led along a path somewhere in the middle of the Amazon and had not been separated by tribe yet. The production assistant leading them along like ducklings was explaining that they were to take seats on the logs once called for, men on the right and women on the left, then the game would begin. The production assistant stopped them and told them to wait. The castaways were mostly quiet while they waited, with only two or three talking amongst themselves.

Ross took the opportunity to check out some of the other competitors, the production team having kept them mostly separated until this point. Standing closest to him was a slim girl with fiery red hair. She noticed him looking at her and grinned, lightly freckled nose crinkling at him and blue eyes sparkling. Ross was struck by how lovely she was.

The redhead turned away from him and he saw her eyes wander appreciatively over the form of another castaway, wearing a pink bikini under her tank top and her hair tied back in a long dark braid. Ross chuckled and looked over the others. There were a couple of older ladies grouped together, quietly murmuring to each other though they were quickly silenced by one of the assistants. Two younger ladies were standing near to them. Ross caught the gaze of the brunette, offering a half smile as his eyes continued to roam over the other contestants.

Ross had just caught a glimpse of golden blond hair when the production assistant called for them to move up towards the logs where the game would begin. Grabbing his rucksack, Ross fell in line behind the redhead. They hadn’t made it fifty feet before the voice of their host, Robert Fotherby, rang out. Cameras were officially rolling.

“Hey everyone, take a seat. Men on the right, ladies on the left.” Robert waited as they settled themselves in, setting their bags to the side. Ross nodded to the man next to him, a dark haired man who settled awkwardly onto the log, before nodding back.

“Welcome everyone to Survivor.” Robert stated. “We’re going to start this off a little differently. This will be your first opportunity to talk with each other and learn more about the people you’ll be playing the game with. I want everyone to say your name, how old you are and your occupation. We’ll start at the far left, front row.”

Ross leaned forward enough so that he could see from his spot in the back row.

“Hello everyone, I’m Ruth, I’m twenty, and I am a university student.” The small blonde girl smiled and gave a small wave as she finished. This process continued, with the three older ladies, Grace, the fifty-three year old housewife; Rachel, the forty-two year old schoolteacher, Mary, the sixty-one year old dog breeder, and the younger brunette Elizabeth,twenty-five year old professional organizer, introducing themselves. Ross paid particular attention when the redhead started to speak.

“Hi there! I’m Demelza, I’m twenty-four, and I’m a nurse.” She flashed a smile, eyes twinkling at the pretty brunette next to her. Ross bit back a chuckle when he realized that that was the brunette that Demelza had been eyeing as they waited to be called. The brunette smiled back before turning to the group.

“Anne, I’m twenty-seven and a fitness instructor.” She gave a quick wave. The last girl to talk was a pretty blonde.

“Caroline, twenty-two, I’m a volunteer coordinator.” She beamed at the group.

“Thank you ladies.” Robert said, plastic television grin in place. “Gentlemen?”

The process repeated as the group heard from George, the twenty-seven year old investment banker; Billy, the forty-five year old professor of geology; and Flint, the sixty year old archaeologist.

“I’m Dwight, I’m a twenty-five year old medical student.” the tall brunet said, giving a wave.

“Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m a twenty-nine year old marine biologist.” Ross caught his breath and said a prayer that this man ended up in the same tribe as him as he caught sight of cerulean eyes and blond curls. The man, Jim, smiled showing off a killer pair of dimples and Ross knew he was in trouble. He barely heard as John, the fifty-six year old retired naval officer spoke. It was until the man directly next to him started speaking that he started fully paying attention again.

“I’m Andrew, I’m thirty-five and I’m a construction foreman.” the dark haired man said, before looking to Ross.

“I’m Ross, I’m twenty-eight and I’m a photographer.”

Jim took a moment to look over the owner of the rich baritone that had caught his attention. Dark eyes caught his before a blinding smile overtook the handsome face. Jim quickly thought that maybe he would have the good fortune of ending up on the same tribe as the man with that brilliant smile.

“Thank you everyone.” Robert said, as Ross finished speaking. “Now. If each of you would be so kind as to look under your feet, dig in the sand a bit.” There was a bit of confused digging before, Grace raised a small cloth and twine wrapped bundle into the air, quickly followed by Ross.

“Grace, Ross would you please open those?” Robert asked, waiting patiently as the two tore into the odd little packages. Ross tore into his first and raised a handful of red buffs in the air.

“Ross you are now the first member of Kano. Which means Grace...” Robert turned and saw the handful of green buffs waving in the air. “You are the first member of the Akusu tribe. Congratulations you two. If you would join me up here, just come and stand on your tribe’s mat.” Ross and Grace made their way to the front, waiting quietly for him to explain what was happening.

“Now some of you may be thinking be thinking that we have a tribe of men and a tribe of women, based on the way you’re seated. That assumption would be incorrect. Ross, Grace, you will be selecting the members of your tribes.” Ross and Grace looked stunned and the rest of the castaways shifted uncomfortably at the revelation.

“Here’s how this will work, Ross, Grace, you will alternate your choices between men and women and you must begin by choosing a member of the opposite sex.” Robert said. Ross shifted uncomfortably as a cameraman came a bit closer to him. “So ladies first, Grace who will you choose first?”

“The lovely young man who helped me carry my bags, Jim was it?” Jim shoved down the feeling of disappointment and went to join Grace accepting the green buff and wrapping it around his neck. He peeked over at the dark haired man on the other mat, noting the slight frown resting at the corner of the lovely mouth.

“Ross, which lady will be the first to join Kano.” Robert asked.

“Red, Demelza right?” Ross replied pointing at her. She popped up off her log and made her way to the mat accepting the red buff. The selection process went quickly, with Dwight, Caroline, Andrew, Elizabeth, George, and Ruth joining Kano and Anne, John, Mary, Flint, Rachel, and Billy joining Akusu. Robert led the tribes down to the water at the edge of the clearing.

“Now that the tribes have been chosen you all will need to head to your new homes. In the boats here there are supplies, very basic. For food, there is a small bag of beans, not enough to last 39 days. You will need to become resourceful during your time here.” Robert said, gesturing grandly towards the boats. “As you head down the river you will come across a fork, Kano you will go to the right, Akusu to the left. Seek out your tribe’s flag and you will have found your homes.” Robert waved as the two tribes packed themselves into the boats and pushed off, boats full of production crew following.

John immediately took charge in the Akusu boat, guiding the others as they found a steady rhythm to paddle. They led the Kano tribe up the river. John calling the rhythm from the front as they went. It was about an before they got the the fork in the river. John guided them to the left and they began chatting amongst themselves as they rowed. Jim looked at the young woman sitting next to him and grinned. She smiled back.

“I’m Anne.” she said.

“Jim, nice to meet you.”

“Isn’t this crazy?” Anne commented, pausing in her paddling to scan the riverbanks.

“I’m excited. This is going to be fun.” Jim replied. He paused hearing their tribe mates in front of them laughing and chattering away. “What do you think our beach is going to look like?” He wondered, scanning the riverbank.

“Not sure but I hope that our options for shelter are decent.” Anne replied.

“Come on everyone! Stroke!” John called from the front. The two grinned at each other and picked up the pace.

It was about an hour later when the green flag became visible on the left bank. Everyone cheered and frantically paddled towards shore. Jim jumped out and helped John drag the boat up to be secured. Anne followed and helped Mary and Grace climb down before accepting supplies to carry up the beach. Camera crew following right behind.

“We’re home!” Grace shouted happily. Jim exchanged a look with Anne before faking some enthusiasm for the cameraman nearby. Mary walked up to the tribal flag and untied a scroll.

“Hey everyone!” She called out. “It’s a map.”

“The water source?” Flint asked, taking it from her. The group gathered round and checked over the map.

“Where should we start guys?” Anne asked, taking the map to examine for herself.

“Fire, water, shelter?” Jim suggested.

“Should we split up tasks or one at a time?” Rachel asked.

“We can’t really make a fire until we’ve at least decided where to put a shelter.” Billy pointed out.

“Some of us should look for a place to make shelter and some should start on fire, then we can worry about the water source.” John stated. “We can’t drink the water without the fire.” Jim sat back and watched as the others fell in line with what John was saying. Anne stepped around Billy and joined Jim on the edge of the group.

“Interesting.” She murmured, giving him a look. “Shall we?” She asked quietly. Jim nodded.

“Jim and I will go scope out some places for shelter.” Anne volunteered. The rest of the group agreed waving them off. Jim followed Anne into the trees.

“Have you realized it?” she asked, kicking at branches as she walked. Jim trailed behind her. He cast a sparing glance at the cameramen walking with them. He had a feeling he knew where she was going with this but wanted her to say it.

“Realized what?” he asked. She paused and looked at him.

“We’re the youngest here by at least a decade.” she said plainly. “I think we need to stick together.” Jim grinned. Anne surely doesn’t waste any time.

“Oh really?”

“We can out do pretty much all of the oldies in the physical challenges. They would be wise to get rid of us before the merge.” she stated, facing him fully.

“You’re not wrong.” he replied. “I would imagine that thought has already gone through at least one or two minds over there. John seems like he would have figured it out at least.”

“What do you think then?” Jim thought about it, scanning the trees. He paused, walking further up the hill as he squinted at a large tree.

“I think I may have found a shelter.” he said, “And deal.” Anne beamed at him before turning and seeing what he was talking about.

“Whoa, that thing is massive.” she said, eyes wide.

“Look at the roots. Ready made shelter, just needs some renovations.” Jim replied.

“Should we go share the good news?” Anne inquired, turning to head back towards the riverbank.

“Let’s.” The two grinned at each other before walking off.

*

Over in Kano, Ross was already royally irritated. He and Demelza were standing off to the side watching the others run around looking for the water source, starting a fire, and unloading the boat in absolute mayhem. Elizabeth and Ruth had wandered off saying something about finding a bathroom area. Dwight and Andrew were contemplating where to start a fire, George listening in avidly and doing a remarkable impression of a bobblehead. Caroline was sifting through the supplies trying to figure out exactly what they were given.

“Do you want to go find a place for a shelter?” Demelza asked.

“Sure.” Ross followed Demelza into the trees. Both of them fully aware of the cameramen following them.

“So interesting bunch you’ve picked out.” Demelza remarked, as she scanned the area.

“Yeah they are.” Ross said casually, watching Demelza.

“So did you pick a bunch of chuckleheads on purpose or are you just oblivious?” Ross burst out laughing.

“Figured me out then have you?” he replied.

“There’s only two or three besides me here that are worth their salt. All the others... yikes.” she said, “What about this space up here?” Ross followed her into the clearing. They turned back towards the beach and judged the distance.

“Seems promising.” Ross said, “We’ll have to get the others’ opinions of course.”

“Sure sure.”

“So why ask me about my choices?”

“Easy, I want an alliance, and I’m not going to wait around to get one. I want one starting today. I won’t vote for you, you don’t vote for me simple as that for today. We can figure out more details later.” Demelza stated, sticking a hand on her hip as she spoke. Waving a finger in his face, she continued, “You were smart enough to pick a tribe full of strong expendable people. The end game being getting you to final two. I’m going to be the other half of that two. Deal?” She stuck her hand out to shake. Ross considered her for a moment. Fiercely determined, she glared at him. He cracked a smile.

“Deal.” He took her hand, surprised at how firm her grip was.

“Well glad that’s taken care of.” she said, “Let’s go tell the others we found a spot for the shelter.”

“On our way back, why don’t you tell me just what you think about the pretty brunette in Akusu.” Ross teased.

“Jesus. I regret this already.”