"YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?" Courtney screamed into the rushing wind.
Yeah, if I thought Chris was completely insane before, it's definitely official now. The door of this rickety pile of crap is open, wind is slapping at my face like a whip, roaring in my ears. I can't blame Courtney for the look of utter fear and indignation on her face.
Today's challenge: we're supposed to sky dive out over the Amazon rain forest, and Chris won't tell us anymore than that. I'm scared out of my mind-not that I'd actually tell anyone that-but that self-satisfied, condescending smirk on Chris's face is enough to make me want to win this challenge. So many times I've wanted to smack "our gracious host" upside the head.
"Okay, kiddies!" Chris says, rubbing his hands with glee. "Time to jump to your certain deaths! Did everybody sign the waivers?"
"Are you okay, Cody?" Sierra asks. As usual, she's cuddling the guy as if he's a giant stuffed animal. Cody's squirming in her arms, trying to escape, his eyes deer-in-headlight eyes.
Geez, I hope I never run into these people outside of the game. Sierra's batshit obsessed and crazy, Courtney's a Type A bitch, and Cody...I actually feel kinda sorry for him because of Sierra.
"WAAAA-HOOOOO!" Just like I predicted, Izzy's the first to go. That's when I just snap: Alejandro follows right in her wake, jumping with professional skill and grace. He notices me staring and winks at me just as he pulls the release cord and his parachute pops out.
My insides are burning. It's on, Mr. Perfect!
"Come on, you losers!" I scream over my shoulder as I jump out. "The other team's getting ahead!"
I'm filled with dread as soon as I realize what I've just done. Air is rushing past me and it feels like my hair's being yanked back and upwards. It took me so long to grow it back to where it is right now. Feebly, I fumble around for my own release cord. I can't seem to find it; the thing keeps zipping up and down, right at the edge of my vision.
If I can't grasp it, I'm going to fall to my death...
Not the first time in my life, I'm scared out of my mind. Everything feels so unreal: I can hear screaming. Is that me? My life's actually flashing in front of my eyes...Oh, God...
Lindsay, Beth, Leshawana....You guys are my best friends in the entire world! If I die...If I die...oh, there's something I always wanted to tell-
That's when I see fingers grasp the release cord. Tears are blurring my vision, but I swear I'm seeing something. A force pulls me and my parachute billows out behind me. The gentle tug, the lessening of force. I'm alive...I'M ALIVE!
I hug myself, look at my hands, flex my fingers, my legs. I can't believe it. Yeah, there's been times when I've been close to death on this show before, but never that close. I'm just so relieved that I'm actually still alive...Did I grab that release cord or was it an angel...?
That's when he appears in front of me, his brown hair flying around his face and a smug look on his face. Alejandro. That's when I come rocketing back to reality. I'm filled with rage. This guy has got quite a lot of nerve.
"I'm glad that you're alright," he says, smiling softly.
I just narrow my eyes at him. He may be able to charm and seduce all of the other girls for his own manipulative reasons, but I can see right through his facade. You're not gonna win, Alejandro. I'm too smart to fall for your stupid tricks.
"Oh, stow it!"
"No really," he says, trying to look like the good guy. "I truly am glad. I was the one that pulled the release cord, señorita."
I can't help myself as I gasp and my eyes widen. This guy...just saved my life? I'm speechless, absolutely nothing to say. Looking at his green eyes, my brain shuts down, but my stomach clenches and the hairs on my neck stand up.
"I'll being seeing you in the Amazon," he says, reaching out, taking my hand and kissing it.
Before I can pull my hand away from him, he lets go and pulls on the strings of his parachute, shooting away through the air in the opposite direction.
I just hope that he can't see me blushing.
I expertly land in the upper boughs of a tree. Just like I expected, I've successfully touched down in the Amazon rain forest. Good thing I took those skydiving and parachuting lessons when I was nine years old. Now I need to find my team and I'm guessing our objective is to locate the Amazon River.
It would make sense going off of the fact that Chris made quite a few obvious allusions to rivers today: his fancy breakfast-that he kept showboating to us contestants-was a literal river of gravy surrounded by biscuits, then he asked what the world's second longest river was and so on and so forth. It's incredible that I'm surrounded by so many idiots in this game...Is nobody else an honor roll student and logical thinker like I am?
Oh well, I need to get to work. I just hope that I don't end up running into Owen first. His nickname for me, Al. It's so...annoying. Why can't he just say my actual name? It's not that hard to pronounce.
Okay, so most of my team was in a close proximity to me when we first exited the plane, so they shouldn't be too difficult to locate. Following logic, I remember that Izzy was a few degrees north from me when we were falling so I head northwest, carefully pushing back the rain forest's flora and fauna and remembering how she'd turned a little bit westward in her descent towards the forest's canopy.
According to some quick calculations in my head, a few feet from where I was, I should probably find Izzy hanging upside down from a tree or buried in some of the plants. As I come to the location I figure out I was correct, but all I find is the parachute, the "chute" part tangled in the uppermost branches of a tree.
I should have known. Izzy's not the type to sit around and wait. Knowing her sporadic and spontaneous personality, she probably ran after something or some other strange activity. She's such an unpredictable variable that I probably won't be able to locate her without help. Izzy had a cupcake in one of her pockets, so once I find Owen, he'll be able to track Izzy with his nose.
Quickly, I plot out the directions and locations of where the others would have landed and go about looking for them. Apparently, this challenge was so unpredictable, that it's even stumping me. At each location, I find an empty parachute. Even the location where I would have found Owen was empty. I even went as far as searching the adjacent and outlying areas around where each of my teammates landed, but...I've found absolutely nothing.
I end up heading back to my original location. Maybe one of my other teammates found my parachute. I doubt any of them thought of heading towards the Amazon River though, so that counts out possibly heading there and finding them on the way...Wait a minute. Maybe I shouldn't cross out that possibility. The best way to win these challenges is to map out every possible solution in my head and map out plans to go about winning them...
That's when I hear loud rustling. Turning around, I'm prepared for anything, even to luchar, even though the most likely scenario is that the figure coming out of the plant life is most likely a teammate.
Then she comes out, rubbing at her head and looking like a frightened child. It's Heather. Out of everyone in this game, I have to admit that she's probably my biggest threat towards winning, but not by much. Unlike me, her technique is amateur at best. If she was a bit more deceitful, as in having charisma and being able to act instead of outright showing her spite and evil plans, she might just be on my level.
Her performance in pretending to be Sierra's "friend" is pitiful at best. I guess she doesn't realize that Sierra can see right through it and is pretending to fall for her tricks.
"You," she growls, gritting her teeth and snarling at me.
Of course, me saving her life hasn't changed any of her hostility towards me. Smart girl. I just give her my angelic smile and wave. "Hello Heather. Pleasure meeting up with you here."
As expected, she shoves me out of her way while saying, "Get out of my way!"
Out of all of the girls on this show, I personally get the biggest thrill out of rattling Heather's cage. Her facial expressions are hilarious. I don't dare laugh, though. Because I know that beneath her tough, witchy exterior, she has a soft side. And I know that I can bring that out and make her fall for me.
I growl playfully at her. "I like girls with an attitude," I say, making her stop. "Out here in the rain forest, you look extremely beautiful. None of the plants here, even the most vibrant flowers, can compare with you."
Flowery lines like that are quite easy for me to come up with for me. I've seen it make girls' hearts flutter and make their cheeks burn with a blush, but I know it probably won't work on Heather. It's all part of my grand master plan, really. I'm always three or four steps ahead of everyone, even Heather, no matter how superior she believes that she is.
She's turning around, gives me an irritated glare. Then she starts walking off, her fists clenched at her sides. When she's far enough away, I start following her like a stealthy ninja. This much is apparent to me: she can't find her teammates either. I suspect that she won't be able to fend for herself in the Amazon rain forest, so that's when I step up and make my next move.
I have a feeling our teams are somewhere around here and if my suspicions are correct, I'll run into them soon enough. My objective for now is to pursue Heather.
Now it's just a matter of being diligent, patient, and clever.
I can't believe it. I can't find any of my stupid team, plus I'm lost in the Amazon rain forest.
I'm supposed to be on top of everything. I should be bossing my team around right now, making Sierra and Cody look for firewood, make Mrs. "I-was-a-CIT" look for edible food, and I'd be making beds, I guess. Actually, I'd get one of the others to do that, too.
Right now, I'm so angry, but I'm also really frustrated and scared. I don't wanna be alone...I can't be alone...I hate this feeling of helplessness...
The only other person I've run into is Alejandro. He keeps popping up everywhere. I know exactly what he's up to and he's not gonna get away with it!
I can't tell if it's day or night, but my feet are killing me, I'm hungry. As much as I hate it, I'm gonna need to stop and set up a camp by myself. Today's been so crappy.
Luckily, I find a clearing in the rain forest and a great big, leafy plant is nearby. I tug one of the leaves off, slap it onto the ground. Looking around, I start scrabbling, looking for stuff to use to make a fire. I have a pile of twigs, leaves, and other crap. I seriously wish Duncan or Izzy were here...Duncan has a lighter and Izzy's so crazy she'd be able to find a way to make fire out of thin air if she wanted to.
This sucks. Don't you have to have two pieces of flint or something to make a fire from scratch?
Feebly, I just start rubbing two dinky little sticks together. I keep rubbing and rubbing. Nothing. Getting angry, I start rubbing them together harder and harder, then I have to leap back as a tendril of smoke pops up, some sparks, and then a small fire.
It's so tiny, but looking at it, I realize that I'm the one who made it. Not Mrs. CIT, not Sierra, not anybody else. Me. I don't need my stupid team. I don't need anybody.
But there's no way I'm gonna try hunting some little animal or eating something from the Amazon...That's when I remember that I stole a candy bar from Owen's secret stash the other day.
Eagerly, I fish it out of my pocket...
I'm staring into the yellow eyes of a great big, orange and speckled cat. It opens it's mouth and there's rows and rows of sharp teeth. This thing's looking at me like I'm it's dinner.
"It's not funny, Izzy. I know it's-"
The big cat roars at me and it's saliva sprays all over me. When it's done roaring, it licks its lips hungrily. The cat takes a step forward, flicking its tail. Yeah, it thinks it's so menacing, so ferocious. After that stupid bear in the first season, I'm sick of animals looking at me like I'm a prime rib, like I'm their prey. I fought a stupid crocodile in the first season.
Angrily, I take off my sandal and chuck it right at the cat. It hits it right between the eyes. Twice the cat blinks and then it flares its nostrils, growls at me. Then it leaps up and pounces. My eyes widen and, then it lands right on me, knocks all of the air outta my lungs. This thing's as heavy as Owen and it's got Owen's hungry look in its eyes.
Now I'm scared. I can't move at all and I'm about to be this cat's dinner.
Before I close my eyes against the inevitable, the cat's pulled away from me and I can breathe again. I sit up and...
Alejandro's go the cat knocked on it's back, wrestling with it. For several minutes there's a struggle and then he brings out some kind of rope and uses it to tie up the cat's paws. Then he uses the rope to tug the cat towards the forest. Roughly, he releases the cat from it's rope bonds and all he has to do is glare to send the cat running off, mewing like a frightened kitten.
"Looks like I've saved your life twice now, preciosa," he says, smirking and smacking the rope against his palm. "I believe I deserve a reward..."