This story originally appeared on the Total Drama Island Fanfiction wiki, where it was the Featured Story for June 2010 and established me as one of that site's favorite "dark" writers. It is my first published fanfic. The idea for this story came to me whilst I was setting a verse for my 400+ page magnum opus, Total Drama Island, by Gilbert and Sullivan (link available on my profile page).
This is an alternate reality, or "what if" story, i.e. "what if something had happened differently than the way it was shown in the parent story?" It is also similar to the "plus one, minus one" genre, of which It's a Wonderful Life is perhaps the most famous example.
In action-oriented milieus, "what if" stories tend to be bloody because there are no continuity issues, and just because she's my favorite character doesn't mean that I have to be nice to her. You have been warned.
Rated T for mature subject matter and a brief scene of graphic violence. The wiki version (link available on my profile page) is the recommended one because it includes certain multimedia enhancements that this site does not support.
This story has a TV Tropes page (link available on my profile page) which also includes a link to the wiki version of the story.
A few seconds more or less can have profound and far-reaching effects.
In the "scary movie" scenario (Season 1, Episode #19, "Hook, Line and Screamer") Chris, Chef Hatchet and the "slain" campers burst into the lodge and warned Gwen that the "Escaped Psycho Killer With a Chainsaw and a Hook" was truly what he appeared to be, and was not merely an actor. Thus alerted, Gwen successfully defended herself and escaped unharmed.
What if the cavalry had come over the hill a few seconds later?
Chapter 1: A Chance Encounter
It was late morning as the aging red Lexus tooled along an unremarkable semirural road in the Muskoka district. Heather was returning with a load of groceries to her summer cabin.
She had been much delayed, and a good deal aggravated, by road construction on the trip out. Unwilling to deal with that again, she was returning home by another route.
Ahead, another road branched off to the left, and a road sign announced a "Point of Interest" in the vicinity. There were similar "points of interest" all over Canada. They were typically unusual natural features, scenic overlooks, or places where somebody had done something that someone in authority considered noteworthy. In this case, though, the description caught Heather's eye:
CAMP WAWANAKWA 10 km
Heather had gone years, at one point, without thinking about the camp or anything connected with it, although it had been on her mind in recent weeks. It so happened that none of her groceries needed refrigeration. The "point of interest" designation suggested that the camp was not currently operating, so nobody was likely to challenge unannounced visitors.
On a whim, Heather took the turnoff. She was not equipped for a substantial hike, but if the road went all the way to the camp, she would take a look around.
The road did indeed go all the way to the camp, terminating near the so-called "stadium" (seating all of 40 people) that had been the scene of what Heather still counted as the greatest moment of her life. It was here that, despite having 18 of the 19 spectators in the "Peanut Gallery of Failure" arrayed against her, she had upset the heavily favored Courtney to win the first Total Drama Island competition.
Take that, losers, she had thought at the time. She might even have said it aloud, not yet having had the maturity to win with grace. Looking back, her reaction that day wasn't something she was now proud of, but she dismissed it as part of growing up. Kids will be kids, she told herself.
After a difficult moment wriggling out from behind the wheel—she was almost eight months pregnant—Heather hauled herself out of her car, on which she had blown the better part of her prize money. She stood, stretched, and took a few moments to contemplate the scenery.
She wore a loose-fitting flannel shirt of her husband's, for she had discovered that wearing Jim's shirts was the easiest way to accommodate her growing bulk. While still as fashion-conscious as ever, she had long since learned that fashion isn't always functional, and functionality was what she wanted today. Her long pants combined fashion and function well enough, as did her trendy sunglasses.
Her short, raven-black hair was styled in a businesswoman's cut. Her belly was distended to accommodate her daughter-to-be; her breasts were engorged in preparation for their purpose; and her skin, beneath a hint of sunburn and a generous dose of skillfully applied makeup, was suffused in the characteristic glow of advanced pregnancy. All in all, while still a beautiful woman, she bore little resemblance to the teenaged "dragon lady" she had once been.
Heather strolled sedately through the camp. The cabins remained much as they had been, but the bunk beds had been removed. She tried the light switches, and found that they were not working.
As Heather moved to the outhouse that had served as a confessional booth, she heard a car door close. Another visitor, she assumed, and gave it no further thought.
The "confession can" was stocked with toilet paper, as was the toilet stall in the communal washroom, and she found that the washroom sinks had running water. The soap dispensers were also partly filled. Apparently, the camp had enough "point of interest" traffic to justify maintaining these facilities. Heather experimentally tried the shower faucets, and found that they were not working.
The washroom's light switch wasn't working, either. The camp evidently didn't have electricity anymore. This was no surprise, since portable generators had supplied the electric power during the competition.
The main lodge was still furnished with its long tables and benches, but the decorative trappings such as the moose head had been removed. One decoration, though, had been added. Someone had left a florist-issue vase, with a fresh bouquet of red roses, on one of the tables.
Heather had a fair idea why those flowers were there. As to who had placed them, she couldn't say, although she had her suspicions.
Trying to remember whether today's date might have more significance than she had realized, Heather strolled to the kitchen. The fixtures were still there; but, not surprisingly, everything that wasn't nailed down had been removed, lawfully or otherwise. The walk-in refrigerator was sealed.
As Heather reemerged from the kitchen into the common area, she was taken aback at the sight of a rough-looking man standing in the doorway. He was backlit, so she couldn't make out much detail at first; but when he entered the lodge, Heather's initial alarm gave way to recognition.
Duncan, for indeed it was he, cocked his head quizzically. This woman seemed vaguely familiar, somehow, but he couldn't place it. "Do I know you, ma'am?" he asked uncertainly.
"It's me, Heather. From the show."
Duncan brightened in belated recognition. "Heather? I would never have guessed," he admitted.
Heather could believe that, given the changes in her appearance. Duncan's choice of words could have been construed as something of an insult, but there was no sting in his tone.
As for Duncan, the years had been kind to him, despite what Heather assumed was a "live fast, die young" lifestyle. His body had filled out nicely in the transition from teenager to young adult. The fauxhawk was gone, replaced with a short crew cut, but otherwise he appeared little changed.
"What brings you here?" Duncan asked.
"My husband and I have a cabin not all that far from here. Muskoka is a major summer colony, you know." That had been one of the "fun facts" they had learned during their orientation session at the beginning of the competition. "I happened to see a road sign, and I followed it. I never thought I'd miss anything about this place, but I guess I was feeling nostalgic. Maybe because my life is about to change so radically."
Duncan did not inquire further on that point, as the size of Heather's belly gave him a fair idea what she meant. Apparently, this would be her first child.
"And you?" Heather prompted.
"I have a niece who watches TDI. She knows I was in the first season, so she keeps me well informed about the show, whether I want to be or not. Giving credit where it's due, though, she has a pretty good feel for what will interest me and what won't. Anyway, they announced an upcoming anniversary special. She thought I might be interested, so she told me about it."
"Anniversary special," Heather repeated, doing a quick mental calculation. "How long has it been? Ten years?"
Duncan misinterpreted the question. "Ten years ago today, may she rest in peace," he informed her.
Heather realized that Duncan had read more into the question than she intended. "That wasn't really what I meant, but…" She shook her head sadly. "But, yeah. Poor Gwen."
Neither spoke for long moments, each lost in memories of that terrible night.