© Copyright 2010 by Elizabeth Delayne
Jamie blinked and stared up at the blue sky, streaked with thin cloud cover. She winced as she moved slowly moved, carefully tested her knee and wrists, where she’d caught most of her weight before roling to her side. The golden blocks were scattered down the path. With a groan, she pushed slowly to her feet and brushed slightly at her bleeding knee.
“You okay?” the cameraman asked.
“Yeah,” she tested the movement, the gingerally put her weight on it. Nothing more than what a three year old went through in a tumble.
Of course, she was more that 25 years past three.
She looked at the cameraman as she straightened, rolled her shoulders against the dull ache. His arm was scrapped up, and dirt streaked his cargo shorts and t-shirt. He was still on his knees. “You?”
“Fine. Took much more hits working for network news.”
“You worked the news.”
“Had a couple of assignments overseas, on the war front.”
“And now you’re covering reality tv.”
“Pays better,” he grinned. “And its generally much safer.”
“For you or the contestants?”
When he laughed, Jamie held at a hand, helped him up.
“With everyone running around in all directions, things can always happen. Usually, I’m better on my feet,” he brushed himself off. “Speaking of which, this is a competition. You need to go.”
She waved a hand at her tower. “It’s busted.”
“My fault. It’s not allowed to be my fault.”
“Is that going matter?” Jamie asked.
“It’s up to the judges. Put it together, take it in and I'll explain. We both have ‘splainin’ to do,” as he mimicked Desi Arnez, he bent down carefully to get his camera. She didn’t miss it when he winced. She eyed his leg, watched his hand trembled, then eyed his back, how he was careful to bend.
She frowned recognizing the signs, there would be bruising around the knee, back pain.
Jamie crossed her arms, stared him down. “I’m not leaving you out here on your own.”
He looked up at her, held out his cell phone. “That’s what this is for. They’ll send someone for me. I’m more worried about my camera.”
“It busted? Damage the film?” she couldn’t help the hope in her voice. No film, no record.
He shook his head and grinned at the hope in her voice. “Its digital, baby. Nothing takes away the memory.”
She sighed. “Any chance you might accidentally have hit the delete button?”
He laughed at her, then carefully pushed himself back into a standing position. “One day, you’ll be glad to have it on tape. Besides, this might save your chances at staying qualified.”
“Can you at least tell me your name, so I can put it in my memory book of who took me out on the first challenge?”
“And so you can tell everyone else?” he shook his head and held out his hand. “It’s Carl.”
“Nice to finally run into you, Carl.”
Back at the base, Tyler noticed the fervor going on at the central command. He frowned, but didn’t head in that direction until a golf cart pulled away, then another, both headed in Jamie’s direction.
He found Jess, her hand to her ear as she listened to whatever was being said in her one eared headset. “What’s going on?”
“Accident up at the mesa,” she said, paying more attention to whatever was beging said in her ear.
“Nothing major. Cameraman went down, took out a player,” she looked at the hand Tyler had placed on her arm, then up at him. “Jeez, Ty. You would think you’re prepared for a war injury. They’re both okay.”
“I don’t know. We had both teams at the mesa. But she hasn’t come back, so it’s a 50/50 chance.” She glanced back at the tent, at the producers and then at him. “Be careful how much you give away, Ty. They’ll use it against you. I might use it against you.”
The touch of her hand on his arm reminded him of their friendship, her words, their positions. They both were in positions where they had to do what they had to do, and use whatever they could to do their jobs.
Tyler frowned, forced himself to step away, step mentally back. Great. Had the competition between players turned ugly? One of them gone down?
Jamie was a team player. She would compete best as a team, work hard.
They’d isolated her, and isolated one of her weaknesses.
Then he spotted Felicity come back into the circle.
Carrying her flags, but no piece of the tower.
Jamie was a third of the way back, limping, as she saw the golf carts in the distance. She kept moving, her fingers aching from the strain of holding her flags and the tower of jumbo lego blocks she’d put back together.
Her elbow ached. She was beginning to feel sore on her lower back, where she’d strained against the fall.
But it as her knee, that had taken the impact of her fall, that caused her breath to come out unsteady.
The first cart stopped. She recognized the intern in the driver’s seat, and the uniform of a medic in the back.
“Need a lift?”
“Am I disqualified?”
“Not at the moment.”
Jamie sighed, disappointed. They could always call it once she returned. “I’ll keep on going.”
She owed it to her team.
“Under the circumstances, we’ll take it into the account. Hop in.”
Relieved, Jamie climbed on board holding carefully to the blocks as the EMT came around from the back, began to check her out.
“I’m fine,” she leaned around the stack of blocks to watch him. “Nothing an aspirin, hot bath and rest won’t cure.”
He just shook his head. “Just let me do my job.”
“I’d like to get some footage of you walking. Not much, just enough to splice in,” the intern said. “If you turn out to be okay.”
“I’m okay,” Jamie adjusted her hands on the blocks.
“It’s his job to tell me that,” she said. “Any way, we got some as we drove up.”
She pointed to the electronic device hooked on the roof of the golf cart.
Jamie nodded, but there was little she could do but go along with it. “Great.”
When the EMT nodded his approval, the intern motioned Jamie out of the cart. “Let’s get some shots so we can get you back and taken care of. This totally rocks.”
“They just weren’t there,” Felicity said.
“Are you sure you went all the way to the end?” Cameron asked her. “Maybe you turned back too soon.”
“I brought back the flags,” she cast her hand out to point to where they had been returned.
“Everyone else came back on the other team with pieces,” Thessa said, pointing at the other team’s tower. All the players on Zeke’s team were back, including the one that had headed in Jamie’s direction. She’d returned with a three foot single block tower, without any marks to show she’d struggled to bring another player down.
“But not me.” Felicity defended herself. “Ask the camera man. He was there too.”
“We can’t ask. You know that.” Cameron spat.
“And we don’t have to,” Thessa lifted an eyebrow, the move was as accusing as her voice. “Whatever happened will come out when the show comes out in a little over a month.”
“Look,” Tyler interrupted—the tone that was being set in his team disturbed him. Felicity looked guilty—something had happened and she wasn’t willing to share. Not now—not this way.
And whatever had happened was obviously dividing them. It reeked of Zeke.
“The last thing we need to do is deal with this now. We’ve got a team player down. Could we cool it until we find out what happened to Jamie?”
They looked over to command center where the camera man had returned via golf cart only moments before. The truth was, quite possibly, that it was easier with everyone to turn on Felicity than to worry about Jamie. Tyler understood that—he wished he could get his mind off of Jamie in some way. Jess’s words had been a warning, but they were wise advice.
The producers would use whatever they had in whatever way they wanted.
And so would Zeke.
The camera man sat on a gurney as the EMTs did their thing, tested his reflexes, motion and whatever else they were supposed to do.
“Would they make her walk here?” Thessa asked. “If she’s hurt?”
“No ... not usually,” but he looked over at Zeke. But the rules were different this year.
“Maybe she’s okay, then,” George said. “If they didn’t bring her right back. With her cameraman here, they probably had to stay and film her return.”
“Nice of them to take a golf cart with them,” Cameron said, referring to the fact that the journey hadn’t been easy for all of them.
Just then, Tyler spotted the golf cart in the distance. He took two steps forward and stopped. It wouldn’t do for himself or Jamie if he made a big deal of it. Instead he turned to his team, pointed it out to them.
But as it came closer he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Jamie sitting up in the passenger seat holding onto her tower.
HEY! and don't forget to e-mail me if you have a comment!
Return to Unreal Table of Contents