Guide Damned Inheritance (Bard Crispin stories)

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Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected. She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes. Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life.

Amara has no idea. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious. All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive--and discover the truth about their connection. Speculative fiction is the literature of questions, of challenges and imagination, and what better to question than the ways in which gender and sexuality have been rigidly defined, partitioned off, put in little boxes?

These seventeen stories explore the ways in which identity can go beyond binary from space colonies to small college towns, from angels to androids, and from a magical past to other worlds entirely, the authors in this collection have brought to life wonderful tales starring people who proudly define and redefine their own genders, sexualities, identities, and so much else in between. In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself. Bi and poly-normative cultures with several systems of multiple genders. For three centuries a divine prophecy and a line of warrior queens protected Skala. In a land ruled by the oppressive theocracy known as the Dominion of Divinity, being gay is a capital offense, adultery is punished with the lash, women are forbidden to work, and forced marriages are common.

Fifteen-year-old Emily La Rouche faces an impossible choice. On her sixteenth birthday, she will be forced to marry Jonathan Marsh, the son of her landlord. If she refuses, her family will lose everything. If she takes his hand, it is certain that her life will end by a hangman's noose in front of an angry mob. All because Emily has been hiding an enormous secret for years-she was born a boy. As the wedding approaches, Emily's parents realize the only way that she will be safe is if she is to escape the Dominion. With her brother Aaron at her side, Emily flees across post-apocalyptic America in search for a new home.

With vile bounty hunters on her trail, only time will tell if Emily will ever find a place where she can live and breathe free as the person she was always meant to be. Five human sexual identities are spread throughout the galaxy, and humanity has adjusted to this new culture. Except on Hara--there everyone must choose to be a man or a woman and that decision is final. Warreven, a Haran man, could have married the son of the ruler of the planet--if he had chosen to be a woman.

The result of the conflict is one of the most bizarre identity crises in science fiction. Future culture with five genders, use of nb pronouns, other cultures and systems of gender. In a story as exciting as any science fiction adventure written, Samuel R. Delany's SF novel, originally published as Triton, takes us on a tour of a utopian society at war with. High wit in this future comedy of manners allows Delany to question gender roles and sexual expectations at a level that, 20 years after it was written, still make it a coruscating portrait of "the happily reasonable man," Bron Helstrom -- an immigrant to the embattled world of Triton, whose troubles become more and more complex, till there is nothing left for him to do but become a woman.

Against a background of high adventure, this minuet of a novel dances from the farthest limits of the solar system to Earth's own Outer Mongolia. Alternately funny and moving, it is a wide-ranging tale in which character after character turns out not to be what he -- or she -- seems. The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble.

The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends. The world of speculative fiction is expansive; it covers more than one country, one continent, one culture. Collected here are sixteen stories penned by authors from Thailand, the Philippines, China, Israel, Pakistan, Serbia, Croatia, Malaysia, and other countries across the globe.

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Each one tells a tale breathtakingly vast and varied, whether caught in the ghosts of the past or entangled in a postmodern age. Among the spirits, technology, and deep recesses of the human mind, stories abound. Kites sail to the stars, technology transcends physics, and wheels cry out in the night. Memories come and go like fading echoes and a train carries its passengers through more than simple space and time. Dark and bright, beautiful and haunting, the stories herein represent speculative fiction from a sampling of the finest authors from around the world. This debut anthology features short fiction, novel excerpts, and essays that have won the James Tiptree, Jr.

When a prostitute dies carrying a royal signet, Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and agent of the Crown, is called to investigate. Her search leads to desecrated tombs below the palace, and the lightless vaults of the vampiric vrykoloi deep beneath the city. As a sorcerous plague sweeps the city and demons stalk the streets, Isyllt must decide who she's prepared to betray, before the city built on bones falls into blood and fire.

That Adamo will not allow. Adamo has been put out to pasture, given a professorship at the University. But sometimes help comes where you least expect it. Gay characters, character with prosthetic hands, genderqueer characters. Filipinos and Chinese have a rich, vibrant literature when it comes to speculative fiction. But what about the fiction of the Filipino-Chinese, who draw their roots from both cultures? This is what this anthology attempts to answer. Featuring stories that deal with voyeur ghosts, taboo lovers, a town that cannot sleep, the Chinese zodiac, and an exile that finally comes home, Lauriat: A Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction Anthology covers a diverse selection of narratives from fresh, Southeast Asian voices.

In these pages, gathered from the best short fiction of the last ten years, twenty authors prove that their heritage is alive and well - in the spaces between stars that an alphabet can bridge, folklore come to life and histories become stories, and all the places where old worlds and new collide and change. Hustler, some call me. I work the Night Fair circuit, buying and selling pre-nuke videos from the world before. I know how to get a high price, especially on Big Bang collectibles.

The Horsemen are coming. Fledgling, Octavia Butler's new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted--and still wants--to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of "otherness" and questions what it means to be truly human.

Her life by the sea in ruins, Pen has lost everything in the Earth Shaker that all but destroyed the city of Los Angeles. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead. On her voyage, Pen learns to tell stories that reflect her strange visions, while she and her fellow survivors navigate the dangers that lie in wait. In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely.

At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated. Diverse and queer cast, bisexual, lesbian, and trans protagonists. With this groundbreaking novel, Maureen F. McHugh established herself as one of the decade's best science fiction writers. In its pages, we enter a postrevolution America, moving from the hyperurbanized eastern seaboard to the Arctic bleakness of Baffin Island; from the new Imperial City to an agricultural commune on Mars.

The overlapping lives of cyberkite fliers, lonely colonists, illicit neural-pressball players, and organic engineers blend into a powerful, taut story of a young man's journey of discovery. This is a macroscopic world of microscopic intensity, one of the most brilliant visions of modern SF. In this first-ever anthology of Indigenous science fiction Grace Dillon collects some of the finest examples of the craft with contributions by Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal Australian, and New Zealand Maori authors.

The collection includes seminal authors such as Gerald Vizenor, historically important contributions often categorized as "magical realism" by authors like Leslie Marmon Silko and Sherman Alexie, and authors more recognizable to science fiction fans like William Sanders and Stephen Graham Jones. Dillon's engaging introduction situates the pieces in the larger context of science fiction and its conventions.

Organized by sub-genre, the book starts with Native slipstream, stories infused with time travel, alternate realities and alternative history like Vizenor's "Custer on the Slipstream. Dillon includes stories that highlight Indigenous science like a piece from Archie Weller's Land of the Golden Clouds, asserting that one of the roles of Native science fiction is to disentangle that science from notions of "primitive" knowledge and myth.

The anthology closes with examples of biskaabiiyang, or "returning to ourselves," bringing together stories like Eden Robinson's "Terminal Avenue" and a piece from Robert Sullivan's Star Waka. An essential book for readers and students of both Native literature and science fiction, Walking the Clouds is an invaluable collection.

It brings together not only great examples of Native science fiction from an internationally-known cast of authors, but Dillon's insightful scholarship sheds new light on the traditions of imagining an Indigenous future. A breathtaking tale of passion and adventure in the untamed skies! This mistake will endanger his life. As our hero battles dreadful kraken above Prosperity. As the miracles of clockwork engineering allow a dead man to wreak his vengeance upon the living.

At the aerial escapades of the aethership, Shadowless. The licentious and unchristian example set by the opium-addled navigatress, Miss Grey. Disapprove Strongly! Of the utter moral iniquity of the dastardly crime prince, Milord. At the dashing skycaptain, Byron Kae. Swoon Again! At the tormented clergyman, Ruben Crowe. The 11th and final boy was, for want of a better description, a god among men.

He had a ripped physique—not the exaggerated muscle definitions of a bodybuilder, but perfectly toned and proportioned manliness—that rippled under his tight T-shirt. He also wore old, nondescript blue jeans and sneakers, but none of the girls noticed those until later. His shortish hair was straight, glossy and raven-black. In short, every girl present desired him on sight.

Nobody was concerned that the newcomer might easily recruit girls into alliances, but that was only because everyone still thought that the coming competition would be a talent contest, rather than an elimination game. Chris introduced Justin, for that was the name of this unearthly vision, and conversed briefly with him, but none of the girls noticed anything more than his name.

As Justin concluded his business with the host and moved to join the other contestants, it quickly became clear that he was aware for how could he not be? As he passed the girls, Sadie fainted dead away, and more than one other looked ready to follow suit. Could he be The One? Could she be The One? Just make sure we can see everyone. The shorter contestants mostly girls, naturally sat in the front row, in a variety of poses. Owen and D.

With everyone packed in together, the decrepit old dock was sagging alarmingly, especially around the titans in the back.

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  4. As Chris took up a position in the foreground, intending that the cast shot should include a headshot of him, the contestants were listening nervously to the noises issuing from beneath them. The cameraman took his sweet time preparing. When he was finally ready, he called to everyone to smile.

    Most of the teens managed smiles, despite their misgivings. The cameraman called for a second picture, then a third. By this time, most of the contestants were convinced that the dock would fail at any moment, but the ancient timbers were apparently stronger than they looked. Or felt. Or sounded. When the cameraman was finally finished, the teens gratefully and hurriedly quit the dock for the safety of solid ground.

    As the yacht left the dock for the last time, Chris led the contestants through a short stretch of woodland to a clearing dominated by a large campfire pit. There were 11 tree-stump seats to one side of the fire pit, and the host invited his charges to take seats if they wished.

    It was all Heather could do to stop herself grinning from ear to ear. While she was confident that she would have done well in the talent contest that everyone had been expecting, she was even more confident now, for she was an aficionado of elimination game shows. They might as well write me the check now, she thought with elation.

    Living in this lame summer camp is going to be worth it. After pausing briefly to let his revelation sink in, Chris continued. Every three days, your teams will compete against each other in various types of challenges. The winning team will get a reward, and the losing team will have to decide which of its members to send home. Eliminations will be by plurality vote. In the event of a tie vote, I'll decide how to handle it.

    why are we still together Manual

    There is no set tie-breaking procedure. You just need more than anyone else has. The first day will usually be downtime, so you can just be yourselves for the cameras. Today is an exception, because you have to get oriented and settled in. The challenge will be on the second day, with the voting and elimination ceremony on the third day. The ample homegirl, the brainless blonde beauty, and the bookworm took their places with their new teammates. How can we help our teams like that? A sudden thought seemed to strike the butterball, and she regarded the host with narrowed eyes.

    He had shown irritation a few times before; but now, for the first time, he looked genuinely angry. Realizing that Sadie had provoked the host to the point where he might do something rash, the clones said no more, but looked sadly at each other, resigned for the nonce to one or both of them being early outs. Besides, you can be tough without being mean. Chris turned to the newly constituted team. An intern planted a battle standard in front of the Eagles: a red banner with a silhouette of an eagle, wings back and talons outstretched as if to grab some terminally unlucky gopher.

    Chris turned back to face the remaining 11 teenagers, some of whom had now claimed seats recently vacated by members of the Eagles. The fauxhawk-crested delinquent, the dour musclegirl, and the homeschooled farm boy did as they had seen their new teammates do. The butterball and the jock of all trades joined their new teammates, Sadie with a dejected look across the way to Katie. The fish, not the weapon? They can get as big as a man, sometimes. Bye, little fishie! The teams assigned, Chris led the campers to the camp proper. As they walked, Duncan sidled over to Courtney. Boys have the one on the left, and girls have the one on the right.

    They might be stuck on opposite teams, with the likelihood of being early outs, but at least they could still do what BFFs do between challenges.

    Table of contents

    Will there be a chaperone in this facility? Chris did not acknowledge the Bobbsey Twins directly. A mouse! For a moment, the campers were stunned into inaction. Recovering their wits, the teens ran for the cabin. Chris shrugged his shoulders and headed for the main lodge. In the morning, after they had breakfasted, Brett went to school whilst his mother, who had neither spouse nor partner, went to earn their daily bread.

    That evening, after they had dined and Brett had attended to his homework for that was the price his mother had set for continuing her tale , Brett asked his mother to tell him more about her experience on Total Drama Island. The rescue force arrived at the threshold, as ready as they would ever be to face whatever awaited them. Heather had taken refuge on an upper bunk. At the far end of the cabin, Lindsay stood cowering on a chair, and her manner suggested that it was she who had uttered that terrible scream. Standing in front of the chair was an enormous black… something, rearing menacingly and displaying its gigantic mandibles.

    It was a large male stag beetle—harmless, but looking like something straight out of Hell. It was probably more afraid of Lindsay than she was of it, if such a thing was even possible. Taking one look at the beetle, he turned to flee. Finding the door blocked by people who had arrived after him, the apparently fainthearted brickhouse wedged himself into a corner and tried to appear as inconspicuous as possible. Most of the would-be rescuers seemed unsure of what to do. The beetle looked too large to easily crush underfoot, especially with so many of the teens wearing only sandals or other light footwear.

    Duncan presently broke the glass on a box containing a fire axe. Apparently, he proposed to cleave the insect with it. He never got the chance. As Duncan moved to fetch the axe, Harold reached into his pocket and pulled out a soft pleather case. Opening it, he withdrew a shuriken.

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    As the beetle spread it wings to take flight and Duncan began to approach with his axe, Harold nonchalantly flicked his wrist and sent his spiked messenger on its errand. The shuriken skipped off the floor several centimeters behind its target, caught the beetle on the upswing, and transfixed it to the chair leg.

    The beetle struggled briefly, and then was still. There may be more to him than meets the eye. Lindsay was suitably impressed. Hopping down from her chair, she embraced her knight in shining T-shirt. He meant it, too. Releasing her rescuer, Lindsay turned, crouched down—not bending over, for her skirt was very short—and curiously inspected the late beetle.

    Her face took on the look of childlike confusion that the other teens would come to know so well. Harold looked at Lindsay, possibly for the first time since he began answering her question, and seemed to deflate. Her embrace and kiss had been clearly platonic, expressing gratitude rather than affection, but it had been an embrace and a kiss nonetheless.

    For a steady girlfriend, not so much. Courtney, too. She seems like the kind of chick who might appreciate a dude with a lot upstairs. This seemed to Harold a most fruitful line of discussion. Although he loved to play the professor, he could also be an attentive student. She is hot, though. Leave her to dudes who can take some punishment. You saw how she tried to guilt the Chrismeister into giving her what she wanted. And she is on the rebound, sort of. Not like Eva. Most of the boys had claimed their beds and were unpacking, making small talk as they made themselves at home.

    The cabin had 12 bunk beds, so questions regarding the berthing arrangements had focused mainly on who would have upper bunks and who would have lower. Presently, Owen and Tyler heard the call of nature and went looking for a restroom, for the cabin had no toilets. Even without the Beetle Incident cutting short their scouting time, one bed was much like the next and none had a view that was in any way remarkable, so there was little to choose.

    As a result, the main berthing question was who should bunk with whom. You just met the guy. After the girls had finished unpacking, most left the cabin. Others went looking for Chris, to see what might be next on the agenda. Gwen was one of those who had remained in the cabin. She had one of the lower bunks, and now sat on the edge of her bed, brooding. Although meeting that guitar player had been nice, the day had thus far been mostly a string of disappointments. Perhaps the worst of these was finding herself in an elimination game.

    Gwen sighed. So much for becoming famous, she thought bitterly. Recovering her wits, and embarrassed at her reaction, the Goth glared at the skinny little geek who had startled her. No, not Noah, he had bronze skin. Cody, that was it. Thanks, Eva. Despite her suggestion that she was inclined to throw Cody bodily out of the cabin, she lowered him to the ground and allowed him to leave under his own slightly unsteady power.

    It does have hot water, sort of, but I pity anyone who happens to be taking a shower when someone turns on a faucet. If that happens to involve some over the top drama, then so much the better. The washroom does, for those of you who use powered beauty aids. If you try to keep any contraband and we find out later—and with cameras recording your every move, we will find out—that will mean instant elimination, forfeiture of any prize money you may have earned, and a lawsuit.

    So, does anyone want to take advantage of this amnesty offer? Anyone like, for instance… Courtney? I forgot all about it! You should have seen the look on your face. It was priceless. There was a pause, and then Katie hesitantly raised her hand. Even without this reminder, the clones knew that they were on thin ice with the host, so they said nothing and just stood there, looking apologetic.

    It looked and sounded like he might be sobbing, but in truth he was trying to stifle laughter. As soon as Chris trusted himself to speak normally, he instructed Courtney, Noah and the Bobbsey Twins to fetch their forbidden electronics. After they had done so and surrendered these items to an intern, Chris led the campers to an outhouse that had a general appearance of advanced decay. Leshawna opened the outhouse door in the wistful hope that the interior would look more inviting than the exterior.

    You can go in there to record your innermost thoughts, or just to get something off your chest. The next stop was a large tent that housed two cots and a variety of medical supplies and equipment. This is where you can come to get fixed up if one of the daily hazards of camp life gets you.

    Totally routine stuff, really. Moreover, the blond behemoth was very knowledgeable about animals that are good to eat, which it so happens that lampreys are. Maybe the ones they have here are different. Chris then led the campers to a nondescript building that was larger than the washroom but smaller than the cabins. You can get all sorts of stuff here to make your lives a little easier. Chris led the campers away from the campsite proper, a little ways up the shore to a small building with a secondary dock.

    Gwen opened the door to see what sort of gear the boathouse held, and recoiled. Most of the other campers were looking on with varying degrees of curiosity and concern. Chris noticed this byplay and found it good. Finally, Chris led his young celebrities-in-the-making to what proved to be their final stop. The largest building in the camp, this could only be the main lodge.

    Inside the lodge were two long tables with bench seating. At one end was a large, rough-hewn stone fireplace with an enormous set of moose antlers displayed above. A long counter was affixed to the far wall, just below the cutout area. There was a double door to the kitchen, a swinging door for when the kitchen was in use and a lockable door for when it was not.

    The cutout shutters slid aside, and several pairs of eyes widened at the sight of the camp chef. He also sported a deeply cleft chin and an All-Pro spitting gap in his teeth. Although Courtney was well bred and polite, she did have a bit of a temper. She was also very bright, and highly intelligent people tend to regard sarcasm as a virtual birthright, so her first instinct was to respond caustically.

    As she opened her mouth to fling a barb, though, she caught herself. Courtney resolved to avoid conversing with Lindsay whenever she could do so without giving offense. That means he can do the work of 20 people, but we only have to pay him one salary. The campers dutifully queued up, grabbed their buns and other peripherals, and filed passed Hatchet as he doled out the sloppy Joe filling and the sides, olive drab beans and something that probably used to be potato salad. Give me your plate. Hatchet apparently intended that the skinny campers should bulk up, for he also gave extra portions to Cody and Harold in due course.

    Nor was this treatment limited to boys, for Hatchet likewise gave larger portions to Heather and Katie, probably because he suspected them of being anorexic. As the queue moved along, several of the campers got the feeling that something was not quite right with the filling. Proper sloppy Joe filling consists of ground beef in enough sauce to give it a slushy texture. How could it be worse?

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    It was surely nothing more than a trick of the light, but…. Mine just moved, too! As the campers sat, warily regarded their dinners, Geoff elected to tempt the gods. Can we order some pizza? There was a metallic glint in the air, and Geoff suddenly felt a breeze where he was not used to feeling one. The campers, looking disconcerted, looked toward the doorway. Next to the door, a butcher knife yet quivered slightly, its point embedded in the wall. Hatchet had extensively practiced that backhand, no-look knife throw, for he was a summer camp veteran and well knew how to impress the younger generation.

    The campers, though, would learn none of this until much later. Conversation flowed freely as the campers got to know their teammates better and speculated on what lay ahead. The consensus was that the campers would probably be eased into the game, since none of them had really wanted or expected to be in an elimination game in the first place. By the time the teens began to return to their cabins, night had fallen. As she did so, she noticed Eva approaching, looking sullen as usual.

    That was all that the finished episode showed. In truth, though, this is what happened next:. I was lost in thought. Eva sighed. At least you had a decent reason for going after Noah on the dock. It would be a convenient excuse, but I had anger management problems before I was working out. Fact is, I started working out because I was hoping to channel that anger into something more productive. It would just be a distraction. A few hours later, the boys were in their cabin, changing into their sleepwear after an evening bull session. As Duncan removed his shirt, D. With D. In those days, I was still using my first name.

    I started going by my middle name when I entered college, and that was before you were old enough to have permanent memories. Thinking about it, Brett now recalled that this long-unused name did, indeed, match one of the contestants. Besides, I think it makes a better story this way. Just humor me, okay? The next morning, their first at Camp Wawanakwa, the campers awoke to the end of the world.

    Likewise, a harsh wakeup call makes people feel less rested, other things being equal. Not long after, the campers, some still wide-eyed and twitchy from their apocalyptic wakeup call, filed into the lodge for breakfast. Chris was at the door to greet his young charges, his carefully practiced bland smile concealing his glee as he looked on his handiwork and saw that it was good. Breakfast consisted of eggs runnyside up, with delicately carbonized bacon and heavy bread toasted golden-black.

    As the teens ate, Chris called for attention, and announced that they were to assemble in front of the lodge in one hour, to begin the first challenge. Chris paused a few moments for dramatic effect, and then dropped the other shoe. Your first challenge will be one of the most dangerous of all. At the appointed time, the swimsuit-clad campers assembled in front of the main lodge.

    Most of the girls wore bikinis, some more revealing than others. Leshawna, Beth, and Eva, though, wore one-piece swimsuits, and Bridgette sported a short-sleeved wetsuit designed for cold-water surfing. The boys all wore standard, discreet swim trunks in various color schemes. Justin had originally appeared in a barely-there male bikini; but the sight of The Incredible Hunk wearing nothing but bikini briefs had left the distaff side of the camera crews and the intern corps not to mention the female campers unable to function, so Chris had ordered Justin to change into something less revealing.

    One of the interns, a strapping Latino lad named Alejandro, happened to wear the same size of trunks as Justin and had a pair on hand, so Justin borrowed that. Another intern, recognizable as such by the bright red pullover shirt that all interns wore, presently appeared driving a two-seat ATV. Alejandro and company will show you the way. Not quite an hour later, the campers and the surviving interns escorting them arrived at the place where their host awaited them. Most of the campers were out of breath, for they had been running for their lives over the last meters or so after one of the interns became bear bait.

    Only Tyler and Eva seemed none the worse for their terrifying sprint, for the former was a star sprinter at his school and the latter had the constitution of Wolverine. On the other extreme was Owen, who, being badly out of shape, had been severely overtaxed to the point that he dropped to all fours and yielded up his breakfast.

    Simple, right? The campers nodded or murmured in agreement. While diving from the cliff might be scary, depending on how high the cliff turned out to be, it seemed very simple and straightforward. Seuss routine. If anybody does meet their maker here, the viewing audience will expect a spectacle—blood in the water, floating body parts, blood-curdling screams, desperate hopeless flailing, slo-mo instant replay, the works. If they have, well, then I guess I told you a story.

    Chris ignored the homegirl and continued. One crate per diver means that, if too many of you chicken out or get eaten, your team runs the risk of not having enough supplies to complete the challenge. The losing team will have to haul their crates to camp using nothing but good, old-fashioned muscle power. Tomorrow night, the team with the suckiest hot tub will be sending someone home. The campers peered over the cliff to see what they were up against, and were taken aback when they saw that the diving cliff was a good meters high.

    The waters outside the safe zone seemed thick with them, ranging from nasty-looking little buggers no bigger than a man to leviathans that looked like they could down a fully loaded canoe at a gulp. Not surprisingly, none of the Muskies seemed particularly eager to take the lead. Finally, Eva volunteered Bridgette. Bridgette backed up a few steps, held her arms out, took a deep breath, and stood still for a moment to mentally prepare herself. Dropping her arms, Bridgette ran forward and launched herself off the cliff in good form, splashing down gracefully in the middle of the safe zone.

    Nice work, Bridgette! After Geoff and Eva made their dives without incident, Izzy took the plunge, and became the first to miss the safe zone. When she splashed down, the sharks quickly swarmed through the area. Izzy did not resurface. With the three Muskies on the boat fearing the worst, a shark breached the surface, leaping like a salmon, with Izzy astride its back like a daughter of Poseidon.

    Izzy and her reluctant steed splashed down and disappeared, only to breach again moments later, then disappeared and breached yet again. After a good two minutes of this aquatic rodeo, the shark finally breached close enough to the boat for Izzy to vault safely aboard. Chris next summoned Ezekiel. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Next up was Duncan. With a shrug of his shoulders, the delinquent jogged to the cliff edge without protest and launched himself as casually as he might.

    He splashed down feet first in the safe zone—a little too close to the near edge for comfort, but in the safe zone nonetheless. Have been since I was a little kid. Besides, if I jumped and missed the safe zone, I might have to defend myself against the sharks. Alejandro waited patiently at the trailhead, for Chris had stationed him there on the assumption that at least one camper would refuse to dive.

    Later in the season, when the campers better knew the lay of the land, Chris would become more inclined to leave them to their own devices in such situations. Courtney took a deep breath, ran a few steps, and arced gracefully off the cliff. Her form proved to be better than her eye, though, and she missed the safe zone, splashing down to the right and a little short. Strangely, the sharks seemed to take no notice, even though one happened to be fairly close. They continued to ignore Courtney as she swam placidly to the boat. Returning to the business at hand, Chris called on Tyler to jump.

    With an enthusiastic shout, the jock of all trades took a long running start and launched himself into the air. Tyler had very strong legs, more enthusiasm than skill, and had made little effort to learn from those who had gone before. As a result, he badly overshot the safe zone. As he entered the second stage of his descent, he could see just how badly he had misjudged the distance; for below him lay, not the safe zone, but the boat, its deck crowded with terrified Muskies. He and his teammates would have taken cover, but there was nowhere for them to go.

    Courtney abandoned ship, but she was the only one who could do so safely. The other Muskies could do nothing but await destiny. He gunned the engines, but the overloaded boat responded sluggishly. Depending on where Tyler landed, there was a real possibility that he might have an unfortunate encounter with the propellers, but that was a chance that Hatchet would simply have to take.

    Hatchet quickly cut the engines back and began to bring the boat about. The boat was close enough that, with Courtney pushing and others pulling, the Muskies were able to get Tyler aboard almost before the sharks realized what had happened. Out of the frying pan and into the fire , he thought, and decided that his best course of action was to play dumb. Suitably chastened, Tyler hung his head. At the top of the cliff, Chris had beheld the spectacle and found it good. Harold misjudged his dive and missed the safe zone by a fair margin. The sharks swarmed, and then all was still.

    There was no sign of blood or struggle, but neither was there any sign of Harold. The next morning, after they had breakfasted, Brett went to school whilst his mother went to earn their daily bread. That evening, after they had dined and Brett had attended to his homework, Brett asked his mother to tell him more about her experience on Total Drama Island. When Mr. No one tried to stop her, for they had seen that the sharks would not harm her.

    The water was clear, so visibility was good. After a brief eternity, Courtney resurfaced a little way off, took a few deep breaths, and sounded. She repeated this cycle several times, hopscotching about the area. Finally, Courtney surfaced next to the boat. She said nothing, but slowly shook her head. Her expression was bleak. Eva looked like she was going to be ill. Bridgette, who had seen this sort of thing before, closed her eyes for a moment, lowering her head slightly in silent tribute. Ninja get out of this!

    Tyler seemed to be at a loss for how to react. Izzy actually looked bored, as if she saw people eaten by sharks six nights a week and twice on Sundays. Ezekiel closed his eyes and crossed himself, muttering a brief prayer. Only Geoff spoke distinctly enough for the microphones to pick up. The party king was not known for eloquence, but at this moment his simple pronouncement somehow said it all:. From his vantage point high above, Chris clearly saw what had befallen Harold. None of the teens on the cliff spoke, sensing that it would do no good. Whether Chris was truly that uncaring, or was baiting them again, seemed beside the point.

    When Courtney finally returned to the boat, Chris turned to Sadie. The butterball peered over the cliff to gauge the distance. Sadie turned away from the precipice and walked up to Chris. Sadie exploded. When people believe they have nothing to lose, though, they become capable of any outrage because the connection between cause and effect is lost. Katie, meanwhile, straddled his hips. Unable to get any leverage to buck the girls off, and with his arms pinned at his sides, the host was helpless.

    Not my hair! Dudettes, please! As Katie began tickling Chris on his ribs to stop him trying to mount a defense, Sadie began running her fingers through his hair. Katie, seeing no sign that Chris might be about to relent, leaned forward and quickly slipped her arms under his belly. Katie was stronger than she looked, but she was no match for Chris.

    Scarcely had he sensed his chance when Sadie came heavily down upon him once more. If that happened, Chris would have to get a real job. Katie and Sadie stopped their tickle torture, but kept him pinned for the nonce. The girls then hugged and squealed in delight. With an effort, she had managed to suppress laughter, but her eyes were dancing. There was a delay of a few minutes whilst Chris regained his composure after the attack of the clones and a valet team restyled his hair. The finished episode spliced in a confessional spot at this point. Gwen masterminding a grand alliance?

    Lindsay unleashing a third brain cell? Oh, well, all the more drama! On the diving cliff, Chris was once more camera-ready. Katie and Sadie started to protest, but Justin silenced them with a wink. Heather also understood what Justin was up to. As it was, though, Beth had to face the onslaught alone. It was awesome! He treats us like supplies instead of people. The first few times we dived, we all hit the safe zone, or came down close enough that we could get into it or to the boat before the sharks got us.

    McLean kept making the safe zone smaller and smaller, a little bit at a time, and a couple of times he added more sharks. All McLean said was that the challenge was good to go. So believe me, I know exactly how you feel. It was like everyone was expecting me to get eaten. I get that they were probably just messing with me so they could win the challenge, but how could they be that callous? We also had to dive into shark-infested waters, but the sharks were really just for show. Our cliff was only about 20 meters high—I think the one here is something like —so the safe zone was easy to hit.

    This show is called Total Drama Island. The show I was on was called Camp TV. Which one would you rather watch? Alejandro grinned broadly and chuckled at the memory. And I do mean when , not if. The time will come. I heard that none of you were expecting to be in an elimination game in the first place.

    Watch that Heather chick, though. They really have the potential to blindside people, not to mention that they can get deep into the game just by flying under the radar. Beth shook her head as if to clear it. But, no, I had it down to a science. Do you know the difference between being witty and being charming? Beth was still grinning like an idiot. In addition to being the most socially adept player, I was also very strong in the challenges. All things considered, I was so dominant that if Camp TV had been a fictional narrative instead of a reality show, people would have called me an unrealistic Gary Stu.

    Well, probably a Villain Stu. A shame that so few people saw it. A painful thought suddenly seemed to strike Alejandro, and he sighed. It gets boring pretty quickly. The camper and the intern walked in silence for a time, with Alejandro now looking as dejected as Beth had been mere minutes before. The hunky intern finally broke the silence. From what you said before, it sounds like my summer is diminished for not having seen it. Beth then told her escort about how the clones had bent Chris to their will, but nothing would be gained by repeating it here.

    Soon after, these newly minted friends reached the lakeshore. With nothing better to do for the nonce, the former reality show star sat down on a fallen tree to watch the remaining Eagles dive. As Beth and Alejandro began their hike to the lakeshore, Chris totted up the numbers on his clipboard. I have to look my best. Leshawna said no more, but advanced on the dragon girl with grim determination. Heather instinctively gave ground, realizing that she was physically no match for Leshawna and fearing that the powerful-looking homegirl might throw her bodily off the cliff.

    Step by step, Leshawna advanced and Heather retreated. So concerned were these adversaries with each other, that they lost track of their position. Heather and Leshawna did not hear their teammates, so intent were they on each other. Moments later, Heather stepped back onto… nothing. She had reached the edge of the cliff. Thrown off balance, with only her toes on solid ground, the dragon girl fell over backwards and plummeted, screaming, to the lake far below. Instead, her trajectory carried her slightly away from the cliff face.

    She still landed well short of the safe zone, in dangerously shallow water, but she was unhurt. Cursing under her breath, Heather scrambled ashore before the sharks could close. Heather had not technically been forced to dive, and that was apparently good enough for Lindsay. After taking a few moments to steel herself, the blonde bombshell dove gracefully from the cliff.

    Gracefully at first, that is. Abandoning her diving posture, she began frantically flailing her limbs in a desperate and not particularly effective attempt to control her orientation. Screaming the while, she completed her descent, ending with an utterly graceless splashdown. Lindsay was unhurt and in the safe zone, and that was what mattered. Leshawna followed. After a short running start, she hurtled off the cliff and assumed a cannonball position.

    Although not obese, Leshawna was not a slim girl, and the others would learn in due course that her weight was sometimes a sensitive issue with her. This was not one of those times, though, for she had thought of a way to put her bulk to good use. From this height, and with the cannonball posture, the homegirl looked to make a truly mighty splash. This precaution proved useful, but not for the reason Leshawna had anticipated.

    The dusky daughter hit one of the floats marking the far edge of the safe zone, but her protected position made the impact a good deal less painful that it might otherwise have been. Trent, Gwen and Cody followed. Trent made his dive without incident, but Gwen and Cody both missed the safe zone. Gwen, seeing that she was much closer to the safe zone than to the boat, quickly scrambled over the boundary.

    Cody was not so lucky, and nearly lost a couple of toes as his teammates hauled him onto the boat, snatching him from the jaws of the piscine predators. Katie and Sadie were next to get the call. Having won the concession of competing on the same team, they actually made their dives together. Although Katie and Sadie had their physical differences, psychologically they were virtually the same person—a fact that would become painfully obvious in due course. The clones splashed down, seemingly without incident, into the safe zone.

    After a few moments, though, the water around the safe zone suddenly began to boil with activity. The sharks seemed to be in frenzy, enough so to complicate retrieval of the divers. But anyway, I am… if you must know. Are you happy now? The clones realized with a qualm that, had they missed the safe zone, they would surely have met the same fate as Harold, and far more messily into the bargain. Atop the cliff, Justin now answered the call with a beautiful swan dive that had everyone oohing and ahhing. Unfortunately, he, like Courtney before him, had better form than aim. The sharks swarmed around Justin, but instead of attacking, they playfully butted him and gamboled about him, as dolphins might.

    Justin smiled knowingly, as if he had been expecting this reaction, as he continued his leisurely swim to the boat. His attitude changed abruptly, however, when a shark brushed affectionately against him, as an attention-seeking cat might. No longer calm, The Embodiment of Manly Beauty swam to the boat as if the devil himself were at his heels. If you deprive your team of the 11 th crate, and that crate contains something important, it could cost your team the challenge.

    How smart can he be? Besides, there has to be some redundancy in the supplies. In the finished episode, a spliced-in confessional spot would reveal that the host had decided at this moment to make an example of Noah. Owen, like Noah, might have chickened out with 10 crates in hand. With Noah having already balked, though, Owen decided that leaving two crates on the table would be leaving too much to chance. He would have to take one for the team. Steeling himself, Owen ran to the edge of the cliff and launched himself. Being bigger and fatter than the homegirl, though, Owen decided that he could do better than a cannonball.

    As he plummeted, and realized that he was probably going to miss the safe zone, Owen spread himself out and prepared for a belly flop. It would be painful, he knew, but he thought it was for the best. Owen missed the safe zone by perhaps five meters, but he hit the water with the force of an exploding depth charge.

    His splash was not especially large—certainly not the skyscraping plume that everyone was expecting—but the water around him went white. Most of the sharks fled in terror, but those closest to the man-mountain did not, because they could not. Stunned, they drifted insensible into the depths. Noah was still on the cliff top, and saw his chance. Chris considered for a moment, and passed judgment. After all, there still has to be some risk. Noah eyed Chris warily, waiting for the host to drop the other shoe, and Chris did not disappoint. The bookworm thought that he had gotten the better end of the deal, and was willing to admit that Chris had a point.

    Chris looked disappointed when Noah splashed down in the safe zone to give the Eagles a perfect record of successful dives and a win for dives into the safe zone. After Noah had swum to shore, for Hatchet was under orders to not pick him up, the campers cooled their heels for a few minutes until Chris and his chauffeur arrived. Chris led the campers a short way along the lakeshore, until they came to two piles of wooden crates.

    Each pile had eleven crates, all of the same size. Alejandro and a team of his fellow interns now wheeled some carts to one pile and removed three crates, apparently chosen at random, from the other. And Killer Muskies, good luck. With that, Chris departed and the teams began to inspect the crates. Any objections?

    The teams set to work. She and Eva had also been pulling a crate from the pile, and so had overheard. Who do you think? Heather rolled her eyes and bit her tongue. Courtney stepped in to try to defuse the situation before it got out of control. Boys have better eyes for distance, because back in the days of hunter-gatherer societies the men were the hunters and the women were the gatherers. We still are, really. Several campers were backing away nervously, looking for all the world like they expected the two Muskies to call for dueling pistols.

    Before Bridgette could respond, Eva stepped in. Her tone was mild and even, but her face was beet-red and her teeth were gritted—not from the strain of lifting Ezekiel, but from murderous fury only barely controlled. Despite her rage, the steel maiden had enough presence of mind to relax her grip to the point where her prey could at least breathe, but she still denied him the grace of feeling solid ground beneath his feet. Eva turned back to Ezekiel. Seeing that the Muskies were getting back to business, albeit with a more melancholy air than before, Heather called on the Eagles to do the same.

    Ownage over, nothing to see here. As the other campers turned their attention back to the challenge, Duncan pulled Ezekiel aside. Back home, people appreciate that, eh? Not that I actually think boys should go around beating up girls or anything. Otherwise, you might be setting yourself up to be the first one kicked off.

    Meanwhile, the Eagles were loading their crates onto the carts. What more do you want? Having recognized a fellow fashionista, Lindsay was sticking close to the dragon girl, as she had during most of their brief time on the island. Before Gwen could answer, Heather raised her voice to address the Eagles as a whole.

    Silence equals assent. Ugly clothes and ugly hair mean an ugly mind. I just lost track of how close we were to the edge. Apology accepted. Besides, it turned out for the best. You looked like you were ready to. If you can forgive and forget, then so can I. Their host and overlord was there to meet them. This conundrum had the Eagles stumped for a time, until inspiration came to Cody. The Science Guy told Owen about his idea, for the man-mountain was vital to the plan. Diplomacy aside, Owen was immensely strong despite his poor physical condition, and he could probably have put Cody in the hospital without breaking a sweat, were he so inclined.

    The whale and the shrimp talked for a few minutes, fine-tuning the plan. At last, Owen agreed to try it. The two boys then approached Heather, who likewise thought the plan a good one. The truth was that she had intended to take the credit for herself if she could, but her wording was ambiguous enough to give her a face-saving out if she was called on it. Heather gestured toward a large boulder protruding from the side of a small hill. This immense rock was perhaps three meters high, but easily scaleable from the buried side.

    Then Owen will jump on it, and the lid should pop right off. The other Eagles expressed varying degrees of optimism about this scheme, and Heather continued. More importantly, he might damage the contents. According to our science geek, the positioning is a little tricky. Indeed, the reason why Heather had chosen boys for this task was because the boys did not know which girl had which bed. By the time Heather and her porters returned to the crate-opening site, both Owen and the first crate were in position.

    Trent and Justin laid the mattress atop the crate and retired to a safe distance. Could be messy. He landed just where he wanted to, and the crate lid popped off like a champagne cork, breaking in two against a nearby tree trunk. Fortunately, no one had been in the line of fire. A few of the crates required a second or even third pounding before they opened, but the operation otherwise went off without a hitch. With tongue in cheek, Chris chastised the Muskies for their slowness and gleefully pointed out that the Eagles were far ahead of them.

    The host also informed the Fatal Fishies that they would have to open the crates without using their hands, assuring them that the Eagles had faced and overcome the same restriction. Naturally, Chris did not tell the Muskies how their rivals had done this.

    The Muskies pondered the question of how to open the crates, but did not have to ponder long before inspiration came to Courtney. The Muskies set a crate on its side, and D. With the crate squeezed between the opposing kicks, the lid popped neatly off and fell to the ground. Like Heather before her, Courtney set the boys to moving the remaining crates into position and the girls to taking inventory of the opened crates.

    The crate kickers would do nothing else during this phase, because Courtney wanted them to save their strength; for although they had dealt with the first crate easily enough, it might be a different story by the time they got to the eighth. After D. Uncertainly, they checked the list a second time, and then frantically checked it yet again. The boys, who had taken a breather after finishing with the crate hauling, rejoined their teammates and asked why the girls looked so uptight.

    Do you want to win this or not? We can just take it easy. Get a shower, take a nap, raid the kitchen and see if Hatchet keeps any actual food around…. All this talk is getting kind of boring. With that, the Muskies set to work, knowing that the odds were against them but determined to do their best.

    Neither D. This proved to be a mistake; for although Geoff meant well, he was very distractible and spent more time rambling about trivialities and admiring girls especially Bridgette than working. At the crack of dusk, everyone jumped as Chris blew an air horn amplified by a bullhorn. Everything appeared to be in order, and the craftsmanship looked good. The Eagles cheered, and several exchanged high fives. With characteristic exuberance, Owen picked up the rail-thin Katie and the model-thin Heather like rag dolls; and after initial protests, they now perched contentedly on his meter-wide shoulders.

    As the Killer Muskies stood nervously by, waiting for the axe to fall, the host inspected their tub. It, too, appeared to have been assembled competently, but Chris had noticed something.