This is a work of fiction in the genre of parody. Parody means: 1) a pair of d's; 2) a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule; 3) a feeble or ridiculous imitation. Personally, we're shooting for number two.
This means several things: 1) CBS can't sue us for copyright infringement as parody is clearly within the exception rule. Nah nah nah nah nah. 2) Obviously, this is a lampoon of "Survivor", the ridiculous stunt series of the summer. But, hey, it's beating 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' in the ratings, thank the gods above! 3) Big note: We are not going to be politically correct in this series. If you like PC humor, don't read this. If you still read this and don't like it, don't write us about it. We plan on bashing stereotypes (hey, they exist for a reason, folks) and exaggerating about as many people and places as possible. It's all in the name of humor. If it ain't your cup of tea, swim on, matey, this here is our island.
Now, just because CBS can't sue us for copyright infringement, we can and will sue you. This is an original work of fiction. Fanatic and Advocate own the copyright. (See below for the complete copyright statement.) Think about our pseudonyms, folks. Fanatic - insane, crazy, obsessed; Advocate - another name for an attorney. Add to the mix the fact that Fanatic is also an attorney …and you don't want to screw with us on this issue. Enough said.
This work of fiction is intended for mature audiences only. There are adult themes and language, nudity, sensuality, sexuality, alternative lifestyles (including depictions of homosexuality), and the like. We believe that most parents would consider these elements to be too strong (for viewing by persons less than 18 years of age). If we were a film, we would have an "R" or an "NC-17" rating.
Episode 1: Sold My Soul To the Devil
Gulls cried overhead, swooping playfully back and forth in front of two women slowly making their way down a secluded sandy beach. They strolled arm-in-arm at the edge of the salty surf. The taller woman's long dark hair blew gently in the afternoon breeze, her face the very picture of contentment. Her younger, fair-haired companion laughed heartily at something the taller woman said, giving her a little shove and causing a long finger to waggle affectionately at the smaller woman's antics.
Their faded blue jeans were rolled up to their knees, the occasional spray of seawater dotting the denim. They splashed along happily, sharing wholesome looks of devotion and basking in mutual admiration.
A few more steps and the younger, shorter woman stopped her companion with a gentle tug of her arm.
"Can I ask you something?" she questioned earnestly, looking up into sparkling eyes, her heart on her sleeve for all the world to see.
"Always," the other woman replied seriously, squeezing the younger woman's shoulder with reassuring tenderness, instilling confidence with a look in her eyes that screamed, 'you can always ask me anything!'
"Do you ever get that 'not so fresh feeling?'"
"SWEET JESUS! GODDAMMIT!!!" Clint Bender roared, slapping his open palm down hard on the long oval table. The room's occupants flinched, snatching up their coffee cups so as not to lose a precious drop of the aromatic elixir.
The tape stopped mid-frame, the brunette's mouth frozen open, her answer unheard, the sound of the sea birds replaced by the boom of Bender's hand that still echoed off the wood-paneled walls. The big man straightened indignantly, tugging up his large silver belt buckle with thick fingers.
Six sets of eyes immediately trained themselves on the polished wooden table as their owners mentally braced for the pending explosion that was sure to make Hiroshima look tame. Someone would pay for this horrendous oversight, and each of them mentally thanked their deity of choice that it wouldn't be them. Not today. At least, not for this.
"I thought I told you to cut out or at least fast forward over that feminine shit!" Bender complained bitterly, his voice filled with equal parts anger and genuine disgust. He pointed in horror to the large flat screen mounted on the boardroom wall, as though he had been forced to sit through John Tesh in concert. Twice. "You know I hate that crap! Goddammit! Now I've gone and lost my appetite!" he whined, his words taking on a slightly piteous edge.
"I... I... I'm so sorry, Mr. Bender," the projectionist sputtered, his suddenly sweaty finger nearly slipping off the 'pause' button on the remote control. "We just got the season finale tape a few minutes ago, I didn't have time to edit..."
"Shut up boy! I don't want excuses," the network owner reprimanded, his dark eyes filling with righteous indignation as he pushed off from the table and stepped closer to his perspiring employee. "If God had meant for me to know about those nasty female problems, he wouldn't have blessed me with a pecker, now, would he?" He cocked his grizzled head. And waited.
The projectionist, who also happened to be the Vice President of Programming for the fledgling network BTBC (Bender Television Broadcasting Channel), glanced helplessly at his colleagues, hoping one of them would jump in and save him from trying to answer what he had assumed was a rhetorical question. The other executives refused to meet his needy stare, instead concentrating on their doodle-filled legal pads, or warm coffee cups, or bright enamel nail polish, anything but him. In this business it was sink or swim, and not a single soul in that room was willing to let go of their own life preserver to lend him a hand. Especially not when the biggest shark of them all was nipping at their heels.
Bender glared at his employee for several seconds before it became clear that the flustered young man wasn't going to respond to his question. "Get your ass outta here 'fore I decide to fire ya right here and now! And take that Goddamn worthless tape with you!"
The programming VP nodded vigorously on his way out of the room, careful to press eject before disengaging his cramped finger from the 'pause' button. He walked away on slightly shaky legs, thankful to be going to his office instead the Unemployment Office. It was more than he expected going into this meeting.
Four years after its inception, and a year after its purchase by Bender, the network was still floundering in last place in every major market and time slot. In response, Clint Bender decided to take a very personal interest in his investment.
"Oh, and just so you know," Bender suddenly continued, his deep voice halting the rapidly fleeing man just as he was about to open the door, "I'll be stoppin' by your office later."
There was a moment of stunned silence before the Director of Marketing coughed "Flotsam," under his breath, his curled fist only barely muffling the word. A round of sniggers went round the room.
The Programming VP's face paled and his loud gulp heralded his final descent to the bottom.
* * *
Shannon Muldoon stood impatiently in the private waiting room next to the boardroom. Leaning her shoulder against the wall, she smoothed her russet colored linen skirt with a restless hand, wishing she had bothered to eat breakfast that morning. Her stomach growled furiously. Who knew the meeting would take this long? Her boss was already more than 45 minutes late. When is Rita not late, Shannon? You certainly know every time her little visitor is late because you're the one who gets sent to the drugstore to buy another box of Clear Blue Easy. 'Easy' was one of many four letter words that described Rita.
A large window, coffee colored vertical blinds partially open, divided the private waiting room and the boardroom, allowing the young woman a view of the posh room. Its plush red carpet, black walnut furnishings, and expensive, if slightly gaudy artwork, were all meant to impress potential advertisers. Green eyes with more than a hint of blue rolled at the stuffy atmosphere and its equally unimaginative occupants.
Shannon snorted loudly. Look at the drones. If one of the reps from Nike or Pepsi asked any one of them for a kidney, that fucker Bender would sharpen the scalpel himself, then offer a lung to boot. She winced internally. God, I'm almost one of them. She figured she earned that charitable 'almost' because she knew she was pathetic but still remained hopeful for a better life.
Glancing at her watch, Shannon gave her boss another 5 minutes before she had to leave for her appointment with a publisher. Today she was taking her first step toward that 'better life.' Nothing was worth this.
Though her job title was Administrative Assistant to the President of Programming, she was more than that and everyone knew it. She was Rita's right hand, a junior executive of sorts. But without the big office. Or fancy car. Or money for nothing and chicks for free. Oh yeah. She especially missed that part.
She was tired of the endless bullshit, late hours and missed appointments. She couldn't remember how many times she'd been paged during class or a date. Her beeper had gone off, sending her scurrying like the slave that she was, during her college graduation ceremony and her Uncle Patrick's wake. She'd been called away in the middle of a root canal, and even while she was being happily seduced by her roommate's sister.
And, unbelievably, her boss's timing had on several recent occasions been even worse. Every single time I get close... Shannon closed her eyes and shook her head in dismay, biting her lower lip as the wicked, prophetic words rang out in her head… taunting her with their cruelty. "I don't give a flying fuck if you're in the middle of the biggest 'rock my world,' 'the eagle has landed,' orgasm in the history of mankind. Strap-On-Sally can just go slinking back home, 'cause when I page you, I expect you to drop everything and come running!" Shannon's mind mimicked the words perfectly, causing a shiver to chase its way down her spine. How could anyone relax under those circumstances?!
"Oh my God," Shannon moaned, her mouth dropping open in a moment of clarity. "That bitch has made me impotent!"
The boardroom was soundproofed but she could tell something unpleasant was happening by the look on everyone's faces. Which, she contemplated, was pretty amazing considering she had never seen a more stressed-out bunch of people to begin with. Shitting bricks didn't begin to cover it. These people were the Chihuahuas of the human race. A harsh scolding from the big boss and they just might piddle on the rug.
* * *
"Goddamn, people!" Bender boomed, shaking his head back and forth. He watched the credits roll by for what was supposed to be their answer to the current game show craze and that 'Real Life' primetime show. "No wonder we're dead ass last! What's this show supposed to be about again, Rita? And who is that ugly woman?"
Rita, the President of Programming, clicked her long red nails together nervously. Jesus! Was Bender going to make them justify each of the characters on their new series? "Ahem," she cleared her throat nervously. "It's called 'Castaway.' They aren't actors; they're real people we're going to maroon on an island. We start out with 16 castaways, broken down into two teams, and they have to 'survive' with no modern conveniences. Every few days they vote to lose a member. The last person left wins a million dollars. They leave on Monday for Paradise Island."
Bender's eyes widened perceptibly when he heard the amount.
"The castaways go through a series of challenges and compete with each other. And we film it all."
The big man scratched his jaw. If presented correctly, this could have potential. "So it's a 'Lord of the Flies' eat-or-be-eaten show?"
"They hunt each other with tranquilizer darts or taser guns to thin the weak from the herd?"
"Umm... No." Rita's eyes lit up. But that's not a bad idea.
Bender blew out a disgusted breath. So much for potential. "And people want to see this because…?"
They don't, asshole. That's why we're in last place! Rita stilled her nervous fingers, wishing she had a cigarette. "We expect conflict and excitement." She glanced down at her note pad, knowing there was nothing written on it that would help her. "Our market research told us the ugly girl would appeal to overweight teenagers with acne, insecure single women ages 18-28, and nearsighted male computer geeks ages 30-40." She drew her eyes up to meet Bender's and felt her pulse begin to increase. Oh no! He's going to say he'll see me in my office later, too!
Bender took a calming breath and was about to speak when the Director of Network Research stepped in to defend his work. "Mr. Bender, our test groups were meticulously…"
"Boy, you couldn't find your own buttocks with both hands. Shut up and sit down!"
Properly spanked, the Director of Research gladly took his seat. "Yes, Mr. Bender," he mumbled.
Bender turned and pinned Rita with an intense stare. "I'm going to tell you how we can fix this damn show. I want a whole new group of people on that island."
Rita nearly fainted. It had been hell picking these sixteen out as it was. "Mr. Bender, with all due respect, it will set us back at least three months with all the background checks and psych profiles … And we have the crew on the island already. We're ready to go."
The stare she received from Bender reminded her of the dead-eyed fish on ice at the local Chinese market. "There's no Goddamn way we're not shooting this starting Monday. Do you have any idea what it would cost to delay the rollout? My God, Rita! I expect you to recast it over the weekend and get them on the plane to be there by Monday. And the first person I want you to find is a lesbian. Some men find that… appealing."
Rita resisted the nearly staggering impulse to roll her eyes. "No. Really?"
"Don't play dumb." Bender straightened his tie, proud of his hipness, despite his age. "I know what's hot, dammit! And I want you to find me a big old 'I'm going straight to hell but I'm gonna have me some tits along the way' lesbian. And I want her to be good-looking, too." He started gesturing wildly. He was on a roll. "I don't give a shit how much zit cream advertising we'll lose. I want her to appeal to red-blooded American men." With that proclamation he puffed his chest out so that it extended out just a hair beyond his belly.
"But our audience is primarily f…"
"Who the hell is that?" Bender suddenly pointed toward Shannon, who was doing her best to hide behind the partially closed blinds. Caught, Shannon began squirming under the weight of their stares, ruffling her bangs with a nervous hand.
Rita rolled her eyes. Shannon was always getting into some sort of trouble! "That's my assistant, Shannon Muldoon. She's probably looking for me. We were…"
Bender scratched his jaw speculatively and motioned toward Shannon with his chin. "Have her come out from behind those blinds so I can see her better."
As fast as her three-inch heels would allow, and anxious to save her own ass, Rita ran over to the window and tapped on the glass. She motioned wildly for Shannon to stop hiding and silently mouthed 'be nice and smile' to her scowling employee.
Bender moved a step closer and cocked his head, carefully studying Shannon who, though she felt very much like a chimp at the zoo, managed to plaster on an insincere smile. "Hmm... She's a pretty little thing." His eyes swept over Rita's assistant. "All fit, and sweet looking." His face creased into a broad smile. "She's like the perfect kid sister - that everyone still wants to fuck," he said with a grin. "Goddamn, she might even be a natural blonde!"
Rita's hands unconsciously moved to her platinum hair.
"I want her."
"For the show, Rita!"
"Oh." Rita began clicking her nails again. "I knew that. Whatever. She's available."
"You'll have to get her to agree, but still fire her. It wouldn't look right for one of our employees to be one of the 'castaways'."
"She's fired." Rita winced internally. Shannon was going to be hard to replace.
"How old is she?"
Rita bit the inside of her cheek, careful not to smudge her blood-red lipstick. "How old do you want her to be?" she asked carefully.
The President of Programming breathed a huge sigh of relief, glad she wouldn't have to get a fake birth certificate drawn up. Things like that were so time consuming. "She's 24 or 25, something like that."
"And you're sure she'll say yes?"
Rita snorted. "Oh, I'm sure. We own her."
He knew the type. Young. Ambitious. Unable to say no even when their boss was sucking out their last drop of life's blood. "Well now," he chuckled, plopping back down in his high-back leather chair. "That's a bird of a different feather."
The network owner glanced over his shoulder at his intern. "Go tell Ms. Muldoon to wait in Rita's office. This meeting is nearly over." Dark eyes danced with merriment as a simple idea formed in Clint Bender's brain. He focused on Rita. "With Shannon's help, we might just have a show after all. See, this casting shit is easy."
* * *
"I'm fired!" Shannon screeched, still not believing her piss poor luck. Not only had she missed her appointment with the publisher, but now she was out of a job too!
"It's the opportunity of a lifetime," Rita corrected with forced cheerfulness.
Shannon narrowed her eyes. "Oh, excuse me if I don't jump up and down for joy, Rita. I've seen the concept paper on the show. It sucks, by the way. And I don't have any survival skills. They'll vote me off first thing." But even as Shannon protested, her own idea began brewing.
The publisher whose appointment she had just missed was, at best, marginally interested in her novel. Hell, if she hadn't flirted with the poor man mercilessly she probably wouldn't have got an appointment at all. Maybe she just needed something more interesting to write about... like life as a castaway?
"I'll hire you back when you get the boot." There was no way this girl would last long enough to win any real money. "And you get severance pay for your unexpected termination. It's more than your original salary would have been," Rita pressed, certain her own job was on the line.
"And if I say no, do I still get the severance pay?"
A spray of diet Dr. Pepper hit Shannon squarely in the eye as Rita choked and sputtered. "What the hell do you think, darling?"
"Don't call me that. And I hate you," Shannon ground out forcefully. God! She didn't have a choice. Her student loan payments alone would cripple several South American nations.
Okay, Shannon girl. Time to salvage what you can out of the shit heap currently known as 'your life' and make the best of things. "Maybe you're right, Rita." Shannon took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Just say it! It's not like you really have to believe it! "It could be the opportunity of a lifetime."
As always, thanks to our wonderful editing team and our web designer. You guys make our lives easy and make us look good. We are indebted.
Visit the Castaway website at http://www.angelfire.com/art/atcreation/castaway/index.html
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Though this series is inspired by certain actual incidents, it is a work of fiction and references to real people and organizations are included only to lend a sense of authenticity. All of the characters, whether central or peripheral, are wholly the product of the authors' imagination, as are their actions, motivations, thoughts and conversations, and neither the characters nor the situations which were invented for them are intended to depict real people or real events. In particular, the depictions of CBS and the Survivor television series are not meant to portray the corporation, or any individual on that show, but are only used to lend a sense of authenticity to this work of fiction.