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Episode 28: "Trapped in a Reality TV Show: Battle of the Senshi"

Julie blinked in the glaring sunlight. She and the other senshi and ex-band members were standing at one end of an enormous circular outdoor arena. Thousands of roaring fans surrounded them, the stadium seats stretching high into the cloudless blue sky above.

“Wow,” Mallory breathed in surprise, clearly acknowledging the largest crowd she had ever seen since the infamous Loyola University football team won the game that left them undefeated since 1932. “I didn’t know we were still this popular.”

“They’re not here for you,” I said, brushing a strand of hair from his eyes and waving smugly to the crowd. “These are Nutzi Tunz fans. Sailor Moon-er-MOO was so 1990s.”

“Yeah, you guys went out with Pokémon cards and the Spice Girls,” You said as he grabbed Key Key and spun her around, ending in a full dip, much to the crowd’s delight. They were eating it up, rooting for more shenanigans from the oh-so-sexy band members.

“And pogs,” Valerie added. “Remember pogs? Man, I sucked at that game. And I only had like three holographic ones.”

Julie glared at her. “Way to be supportive. Why don’t you at least try to woo the crowd by dancing with Bob?”

“I’m sure they’d much rather see me beat her over the head with a stick.”

“Bat?” Niki offered Valerie, holding up a conveniently located baseball bat.

“Why thank you,” Valerie said as she grabbed the bat and began advancing towards Bob, a crazed look in her eyes.

“I honestly don’t know how we haven’t managed to destroy you losers yet,” a cool voice said from behind them. The earth senshi turned to see Sailor Cranberry and the rest of the outer space gang standing in formation a few yards away, arms crossed over their chests. “As leader of the opposition, I am truly ashamed.”

“I would be ashamed if I were you too,” Julie said, sauntering up to Cranberry and standing nose to nose with her. It was more like nose to chest since Julie was so short, but she hoped the taller girl was at least a little intimidated. Julie took a deep breath, casually, to show she wasn’t scared. Mmm, she smells like grape jelly.

“I don’t really know what’s going on here, but when we face off for this sailor senshi battle, or whatever …” Cranberry pursed her lips, looking down her nose at the moo-spotted girl. “You better bring it.”

“Don’t worry,” Julie replied with equal disdain. “It’s already been brought-en.”

“Oh good, a dialogue has already started between the opposing teams, this makes my job easier,” the Architect said as he approached, now in a white lab coat, the name tags bouncing in a line against his chest. He signaled to the two bulky cameramen who followed him. “Make sure you get all of this.” The two men nodded and kept walking, circling back around the senshi and hefting the HD cameras up to their shoulders, ready and waiting.

The awkward silence that followed was more pronounced as the sounds of the crowd had long since diminished to a dull roar. All twenty (or so) of the senshi and ex-band members stared at the Architect, waiting patiently for their cues to attack or flee or hit each other with baseball bats.

“Oh, I’ve forgotten to explain the game, haven’t I?” The Architect cleared his throat and began talking in tongues again. “As I was saying, I stumbled upon a solution whereby nearly ninety-nine percent of the tests subjects accepted the program provided they were given a choice – even if they were only aware of it at a near-unconscious level. While this solution worked, it was fundamentally flawed, creating the otherwise contradictory systemic anomaly, that, if left unchecked, might threaten the reality show itself.”

“I can’t take any more of his blabbering,” Bob cried dramatically. “I think I’m gonna just rip my ears out now and end the suffering.”

“Please do. It would be very Van Gogh of you. They are strangely shaped anyway,” Valerie pointed out.

“At least he’s not disembodied any more,” a bitter Eva muttered. “This means he should be easier to kill.”

The Architect didn’t seem to notice – or care – as he continued his incomprehensible string of larger-than-average words. “Ergo, those who refused the program, while a minority, would constitute –”

“Just give it to us straight, man!” Julie interrupted, flustered, and grabbing the Architect by the collar of his coat.

The Architect rolled his eyes and held up a top hat (one that looked suspiciously like Tuxedo Dego’s except it was ACTUALLY Italian-made and not a Wal-Mart knockoff). “Just pick some names out of the hat.”

Reluctantly, Julie reached in, half expecting to pull out a bunny. Instead she drew three names and read them out loud. “Special K … Lisa … Vanessa ...” She frowned up at the Architect. “What does this mean?”

“Leverage,” he replied, snapping his fingers. At his command, Special K, Lisa, and Vanessa rose up into the air, suspended against their will. They struggled, but it was futile.

“Bob, my love, save me!” Lisa cried, reaching out for the gravity-held blonde girl who grimaced and backed further away, looking shifty.

“Please do, Bob. You can take my place,” Special K said. “I’m not loving the heights.”

“If only my Malcomy-walcomy was here,” Vanessa moaned pitifully. “He can’t jump this high, but he could scratch the hell out of Matt. Hew.”

“Leverage against what?” Julie cried, grabbing the Architect by the collar once more. “Just give it to me straight, man!”

“To ensure that you play the game,” he replied, shrugging her off. “If you don’t, Earth will be destroyed AND they’ll die too. Besides, there were far too many of you. We just don’t have enough reality programs in production right now since FOX rejected the premise for Who Wants to Be a Porn Star? Really surprising, considering their current primetime lineup.”

“Reality TV will destroy us all,” Valerie sobbed. “But so long as Bob goes first, I’ll live with it. If only briefly.”

“Here are contracts for you to sign with the usual legal mumbo-jumbo,” the Architect said as he passed around a dozen clipboards bulging with very tiny-worded documents. “Ignore the fine print, it’s too small for you to read anyway.”

Sailor Cranberry held a stack of the clipboards and looked at them suspiciously. “Are we supposed to sign these too?”

“Yes of course,” the Architect replied. “This show cannot be held legally responsible for any accidental injury, damage of property, loss of sanity, or death that may result from participation in the Battle of the Sensi™.”

Cranberry cast a sidelong glance at Sailor Tange and PerkyFluffyBunny where were lying side by side on the ground, staring up into the sky with their mouths open as audience members dropped what she could only hope were skittles into their mouths from the stadium above. At least there’s no sanity left to be lost, Cranberry reassured herself as she signed with a flourish.

The Architect smiled a slightly disturbing smile that could only be attributed to having seen what happens on the other side of the drive-through window while working in fast food. “Excellent. Let the games begin!”

Julie and Cranberry walked warily side by side, following the Architect down a long, echoing corridor. Apparently the games would each be held in different rooms and then broadcast live to the screaming fans in the arena. As the leaders of the senshi, Julie and Cranberry would oversee the reality programs from a comfortable distance while their subordinates clawed, kicked, and killed their way to (hopeful) victory.

Should the competition miraculously end in a tie, then it would be up to Julie and Cranberry to determine who wins in an epic showdown. Julie could only hope that said showdown wouldn’t be height-related.

They made it to the end of the corridor which opened up into a rather plush television lounge where three reclining chairs faced six wide-screen television screens stacked two high and three wide. The screens were blank save for colorful title cards announcing which programs were about to begin.

Fear Factor: Extreme

Who Wants to Marry a Prince?

Are You Smarter Than a Second Grader?

Senshi Idol

Survivor: Senshi Island

Dancing With the Sailors

Julie scanned through the titles … “Marry a prince, eh?” she muttered to herself. “Been there, done that, it’s not really anything to brag about. Smarter than a second grader? I really don’t think any of the ex-ex-freshmen qualify there … DANCING with the sailors? With their inability to spin around in the air without bumping into each other?” Her hands flew to her face. “Holy crap, we’re doomed!”

Sailor Cranberry only smiled. This is going to be too easy

Extreme Fear Factor

Mallory looked around nervously, feeling as helpless as one of Vanessa’s animal transformations. She and Elfyn were standing on a soundstage, being circled by several cameramen, predators waiting to pounce. The smiling host of the show was standing before them, saying something, but she couldn’t make out any of the words, and she only barely registered the reaction of the audience around her.

She hated being the center of attention. Hated it, hated it, HATED IT.

“What’s going on?” Elfyn said, inching closer to Mallory, as though for protection. His twitching ears further betrayed his nervousness. “How did we get here? Last thing I remember we were standing in that huge arena, signing autographs for adoring Nutzi Tunz fans.”

“Those weren’t autographs, they were legal documents. Once we signed, I suppose the game officially began …” Mallory grimaced at the camera operator who inched his way closer, trying to act inconspicuous. It had to be my bad side, huh? “I think we’re inside it now.”

“Which reality show do you think we have to play? I hope it’s Who Wants to Marry a Cracker.” Elfyn looked hopeful. Mallory doubted it would be that easy.

“And now, give a round of applause to the opposing team!” The host cried, drawing Mallory’s attention. The host gestured to the door on his left and the door opened. One of the senshi from outer space walked onto the sound stage, the scary girl Mallory thought might be named ChibiS, but she couldn’t be sure. She suppressed a shiver. And then a familiar(ly terrible) face made her gasp out loud.

“C-c-Caroline St. Ramen?!” Mallory stuttered in fear and revulsion as the former club president followed ChibiS to the stage, a gleam in her cold, dark eyes. “But you’re supposed to be dead!”

Caroline turned to Mallory with a smile. “Am I? It’s funny how things work in the Matrix of Time. Time as we know it doesn’t really exist here. I’m not dead because you haven’t defeated me.”

“Yet, right? We haven’t defeated you YET.”

Caroline’s smile grew broader. “I suppose there’s a slim chance you will defeat me today. But if you don’t … well, it will be as though you never defeated me at all. Time will reverse and all of the “good” that you and your pathetic little friends have done in the past few years will unravel.”

Mallory frowned. “That’s not fair at all!”

“Welcome to show business.”

If Mallory thought that defeating Caroline St. Ramen would be as easy the second time around as it had been the first, she was sadly mistaken. She didn’t really watch much television, but she had heard about the gross-out show Fear Factor and the many ways the show tormented its contestants. In its newest incarnation, Fear Factor: Extreme, it was much, much worse.

Mallory looked down at the cow’s brains and pig intestines that the host of the show had placed before her, mixed together in a bowl with cream cheese on top. She had exactly five minutes to eat everything or she would be knocked out of the competition and team “Good Guys” would lose.

She was sure she’d rather die.

“It’s really not that bad,” Elfyn said as he took a big bite out of the cow’s brains.

“Does it taste like chicken?” Mallory asked, poking the wobbly red mass with her plastic fork.

“Oh I have no idea what chicken tastes like. I’ve never eaten chicken before. Alien, remember?” Elfyn slurped up the last bit of pig intestines. “I also don’t have any taste buds.”

“WHAT?!” Mallory cried. Life’s not fair! Life’s not fair!

“Oh yeah, I was born without taste buds. It’s a mutation that runs genetically in Keebler elves who make crackers by day and are crackers by night. It’s so we aren’t tempted to become cannibals . . . Again. But that’s a whole other story.”

Mallory was so engrossed in Elfyn’s (creepy) life story that she didn’t even realize she had forked some brains and raised it to her mouth until … “EWWWW!” She screamed, gagging, and throwing the offensive utensil across the room. “I can’t do it! I can’t do it! Please, just kill me!”

“After we win the game, my dear, after we win the game,” Caroline said from the next table over as she happily knifed and ate her last bit of intestines.

“I am really looking forward to destroying you and your little friends when all of this is over,” ChibiS said. “Caroline says it should be much easier, second time around.” She licked the blade of her bloody knife clean. “Mmm, tastes like victory.”


Time was up. F%#k!

The host walked up to Mallory and Elfyn’s table, shaking his head, but still flashing his 100 watt smile in the direction of the cameras. “Only half done, eh? It’s not looking good for the good guys.” He walked over to the table where Carolyn and ChibiS proudly displayed their empty bowls. “Well, this seems pretty clear to me. The winner is –”

At that moment, a very wonderful thing happened. The most wonderful thing to happen since a cow, thrown by angry French people, had landed on Bob several months ago. Caroline St. Ramen keeled over, knocking her empty bowl off the table as she fell to the ground. Dead. Well, not dead, but clearly in a comatose state, which was close enough.

ChibiS’s eyes widened and she drew her knife up and pointed it at Mallory. “Poisoned! You’re a cheater!”

“No, it wasn’t poison,” the host proclaimed. He had his hand up over the headset attached to his ear and he nodded along to whatever the electronic voice was saying to him. “Oh, it seems that our friend here was lactose intolerant. The cream cheese must have done her in.”

Mallory breathed a sigh of relief. There is still hope and truth and justice in this world. Thank god.

The host nodded once more to the voices in his head and then turned to the cameras. “Well, the rules very clearly state that BOTH team members must be fully conscious in order to participate in Fear Factor: Extreme, so we seem to have a winner. By default.”

Mallory couldn’t help but smile as the host came between her and Elfyn, hugging them both and beaming at the cameras. “One point to team Good Guys!”

Back in the TV lounge, Julie pumped her fist in the air. Yes! The temporary leader finally proves her worth to me! One down, five to go.

She turned to the second television screen, just as the Who Wants to Maryr a Prince? title card vanished and the screen was filled with four “bachelorettes” (so to speak), lined up in a row, dressed in their senior prom best. Julie saw the pink haired sailor, Sailor Pink first. Then she realized who the other three contestants were.

“WHAT the %$#%&*?!!” she cried in horror. What the hell are my smelly sister, my half-man daughter, and You - who hardly qualifies as a man but isn’t exactly a woman either – doing as contestants of this show? What kind of sick reality program is this?”

The Architect smiled from his reclining chair, sipping thoughtfully on a root beer from the mini fridge he was using as a footrest. “You’ll just have to watch and see.”

Who Wants to Marry a Prince?

You smiled at Alexia and held out his hand. “Hi, I’m You. You may recognize me as lead singer of Nutzi Tunz, the overnight boy band sensation. We’ve already gone platinum.” He straightened the rose in the breast pocket of his tuxedo. “Normally I look slightly cooler and less pretentious, but since this is, like, a date, I thought I’d spruce up a bit.”

“Hi, I’m Alexia,” Alexia replied. “I’m half man.”

You raised an eyebrow and gave a sly smile. “You know, I find that strangely attractive.”

Alexia blushed, her bizarre infatuation with Jeff, Evil, Evil, Jeff momentarily forgotten. “I’m not actually supposed to be in this episode. Some disembodied voice was bugging the hell out of me while I was trying to do homework in the future and I was forced to teleport through time to come here. This isn’t the first time it’s happened either, and my teachers really aren’t buying the “well I had to travel back in time to help my teenage mother save the world” excuse anymore. They told me I should just kill off my grandma next time.”

You obviously wasn’t paying attention, he was too busy inching closer and trying to sniff her hair. “Are you … seeing anyone?”

Alexia looked thoughtful. “I suppose that would depend on which time zone we’re in. In the past, I’m available, but I’m a man. In the future, well … it gets more complicated – and would you believe it – significantly more awkward.”

“And how about now?” You asked with a wink.

“Well, I suppose right now I am seeing you,” Alexia smiled back.

You laughed, grabbing Alexia by the shoulders and gently steering her away from the stage and towards the back exit. “Why don’t we get out of here, hop in the back of Lauren’s car and … you know …” he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. Alexia’s smile broadened as she allowed herself to be escorted away.

“You can’t just leave, you know!” Candicism said shrilly from the left of Sailor Pink who was busy applying eye shadow with the help of a Moon Prism Power! Makeup compact.

Pink wrinkled her nose as she (unintentionally) took a big whiff of Candicism’s favorite perfume, d’eau mayonasé. She (intentionally) kicked the smelly girl in the shin. “Shut up, will you? If they leave, that’s less competition for us.”

“Fair enough,” said Candicism. Even she could see that she stood a better chance if You left. ‘Cause it was likely the prince would choose a man over mayonnaise. Mayonnaise just didn’t go well with peanuts.

Alexia and You slipped off the soundstage just as the announcer called out over the loudspeaker – “And now, presenting a royal bachelor of exquisite good taste in both cummerbunds and women – he enjoys coke, peanuts, and long walks through trans-dimensional time warps, just don’t ask him to goat-sit for you – the one, the only –”

The (largely female and blind) audience broke into wild applause as the Prince Who Likes Cole and Peanuts made his entrance, flashing a dazzling Crest-white smile and an even more dazzlingly cheap Walmart-brand get-up. It wasn’t until the cheers died down that the Prince seemed to notice that half of the bachelorettes were missing. He frowned with disappointment.

“My only choices are a pink-haired enemy of my ex-wife and my ex-wife’s smelly sister?”

“That’s right,” the announcer said with false cheeriness. “Better make the choice fast too because our funding has just been cut and in five minutes we will be replaced with another night of American Idol Coca-Cola commercials.”

“Awwww,” the audience moaned on cue as a production assistant replaced the “Applaud” card with the “Sound Sad” card.

The Prince mused aloud. “Well, going out with my ex-wife’s sister would really piss her off, but I really can’t tolerate things that grow extra hair when left out in the sun for too long.” He handed the rose in his lapel to Sailor Pink who clapped her hands excitedly.

“Oh boy!” Pink cried, accepting the rose and smiling with pleasure.

“Besides,” the Prince added, offering her his elbow, “I’ve always been intrigued by pink haired women. Sometimes I think that if I had a daughter who was really a daughter and not a man, she would look something like you … only she’d be an albino, hence the red eyes.”

“Maybe it’s not too late to have that daughter after all,” Pink said coyly as the Prince lead her off the stage, leaving a disappointed Candicism in the dust. Pink had always secretly had a thing for big, hairy, Italian men.

“F#%k!” Julie cried, slamming her fist down on the arm rest of her recliner, the force of which caused the footrest to pop out. F#%k my worthless, bastard ex-husband (who has failed to send regular alimony checks), and f#%k my man-whore of a daughter! They will never EVER play with my Platinum Nintendo 2064 EVER again!!

Julie turned to the next monitor and groaned. The show – Are You Smarter Than a Second Grader? was already in progress and with Bob and the non-existent Timm as the Team Good Guy contestants, she knew they didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.

Sailor Cranberry only smiled.

Are You Smarter Than a Second Grader?

Unlike its predecessor, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? this new reality game show was played more like Jeopardy. There were no kids on the show, just contestants like Bob, Timm, Sailor Tange, and the abominable Professor Smeezer who were all so poorly educated it was likely that the would fail second grade should they ever be forced to repeat it again. For the third time.

Timm and Tange were both knocked out of the competition in the first round, due to Timm’s non-existence and Tange’s anti-sugar crash that left her hospitalized and receiving replacement blood sugar by means of a Skittles IV drip. It was now the Final Jeopardy round, with one question left to determine the fate of the competition – and of Earth.

Bob looked down at her scoreboard and then over at Smeezer’s and tried to do the math. Bob was negative four hundred and fifty points and Smeezer was negative two hundred points which meant Bob was winning by …

“Actually, you’re losing,” Professor Smeezer sneered, breaking the blonde’s attempted train of thought.

“That’s impossible,” Bob sneered back, “I have the higher number.”

“Yes, but our numbers are both negative. In negative numbers, the smaller numbers are actually higher than the bigger numbers.”

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” Bob huffed. “Absurd. Completely illogical.”

“Well yes, but it’s true,” Smeezer said. “Trust me, I taught high school math. I think I should know the value of negative numbers.”

“I heard you didn’t teach high school math so much as run out of the classroom crying and having nervous breakdowns.”

Professor Smeezer narrowed her eyes. “So, what’s your point?”

Before the blonde could retort, the host Alex Beck (no relation) reappeared at the signal announcing the end of the commercial break and the beginning of the final round.

“Well well,” Alex Beck (no relation) said to the two contestants. “This has been quite a tight race with the fewest number of correct answers I’ve ever seen in my thirty five years of hosting televised game shows. We’ve also broken a record in the number of call-ins from viewers in the six to nine age range. All of these callers correctly answered the questions you missed. You should really be quite ashamed of yourselves.”

Bob turned a burgundy sort of color that clashed quite nicely with her orange – I mean purple – I mean orange skirt. “Yes, well, there are OTHER kinds of smarts, you know,” she told Alex. “I’m street smart.” And adding as an afterthought to prove her point: “Word.”

“I’m really good at math,” Smeezer reassured the host. “Really.”

“Well, you’re in luck,” Alex Beck (no relation) replied, “because our newest category is geography. Which kind of has to do with math if you think about it in terms of longitude and latitude and imaginary numbers.”

Alex Beck (no relation) raised the mic up and once again turned to the audience. “We’ve seen them fail to guess which color blue makes when combined with yellow (green). We’ve seen them incorrectly state the number of quarters that go into every dollar (four). And now for our Final question, the one worth 1000 points! Which country does the United States share its northern border with? Cue the annoying music and set it to loop indefinitely!”

Do-do do-do do do do …

Oh crap, Bob thought. I never took elementary geography on account of the fact that I just sort of appeared in this dimension one day two years ago, and even though I occasionally show up at the high school, I never actually bother to take any classes. Not that I would have learned anything …

Bzzzz!The music ended. What a lame indefinite loop.

Alex Beck (no relation) stood next to Bob’s podium and, with a flourish, revealed her answer to the audience. “Contestant Bob said that the United States shares its northern border with … The Ukraine.” He gave her a strange look and was silent.

“So … did I win?” Bob said.

Alex Beck (no relation) shook his head sadly. “Contestant Bob, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

“Okay, a simple “wrong” would have done just fine,” Bob sniffed.

Alex Beck (no relation) moved on to Professor Smeezer’s podium where the evil math teacher smiled insipidly. He flipped over her answer card and read it out loud. “Canada!” The audience burst into applause. “Congratulations, Contestant Smeezer, you’ve won the –”

“This is impossible!” Bob cried, cutting him off. “She’s the dumbest teacher I’ve ever never had in my entire life. There’s no way she could have gotten the answer right unless she cheated!” Bob’s eyes widened and she snapped her head in Smeezer’s direction. “Oh my god – you’re Canadian, aren’t you??!!”

Professor Smeezer looked indigent. “I don’t know what you’re talking aboot!”

“Aboot? Aboot?” Bob screamed. “Ah ha! I knew it! She cheated!”

Alex Beck (no relation) shrugged. “There’s nothing I can do about it, Contestant Bob. The game is over. Point to Team Bad Guys.”

Julie seemed to be taking the most recent loss rather well. She would have been more surprised if Bob really did turn out to be smarter than a second grader. Sighing, she turned to the next screen. Ex-ex-freshmen, please don’t let me down …

Senshi Idol

“There’s nothing to be scared of,” I said, patting Niki on the shoulder reassuringly. “The fact that this is the most popular TV show of all time with 70 million viewers watching our every move at this very second is irrelevant. Just pretend like you’re singing alone in the shower. Or imagine all of the attractive people in the audience are in their underwear. Just don’t think about the ugly people that way …” he shivered. “It’s icky.”

“I don’t have stage fright,” Niki reassured him. “But I also don’t have a great voice, so …”

“No need to worry about that,” I said smugly. “There’s a reason why Nutsi Tunz is the greatest overnight “boy band” sensation of all time. We’re extremely talented.”

“You mean you’re able to harmonize well enough for your meager singing to satisfy the teany bopper generation,” Niki said. “Without Me, You, Elfyn, Timm, and Key, you’re flying solo.”

“Well yes,” I agreed, “but I’m gorgeous, therefore we will win.”

Of course they didn’t.

From her plush armchair in the screening lounge, Julie watched in horror as Niki took the stage and proceeded to sing “Lion Tamer” from The Magic Show by Stephen Schwartz. It’s a lovely song, but there’s absolutely no appreciation for classic Broadway lyricists anymore.

I'd like to be a lion tamer,

Sequins and tights and silk top hats.

I know I could be a lion tamer,

I've always gotten along with cats.

Niki had barely made it through the first verse when the audience began to boo, shouting profanities, and yelling at her to get off the stage. Being apathetic (but not deaf), she left willingly halfway through the song, shrugged at I on her way backstage, and promptly fell asleep once she was out of the view of the TV cameras.

I fared better on stage as there were plenty of Nutsi Tunz fans screaming loudly enough to drown out the thinness of his voice and the lack of synchronized dancing partners. But he did look hot enough for thumbs up from the judges. It’s not really about the singing anyway.

Julie was starting to feel hopeful until PerkyFluffyBunny took the stage with a sugar-hyped-up take on Fergie’s “My Humps, My Humps”. It is of, course, the trashiest song in the universe (really, the universe – PerkyFluffyBunny requested it specifically for this reason), but the audience loved it, thus lowering the average universal IQ by another one and a half points.

It was all over when the final (currently evil) competitor, Jeff, Evil, Evil, Jeff (dum dum dum) beatboxed his way to the top prize. He couldn’t sing, but he could make bizarre and unnatural sounds with his body, which is apparently all the talent one needs to become a reality Idol. Thus lowering the average universal IQ by another point.

Julie couldn’t stand to watch anymore. She turned from the screens, pulled out the communication device she always forgot she owned and called Valerie.

Dancing With the Sailors

Valerie was backstage waiting for her turn to dance when Julie called. She pulled the communication device from her cleavage – well where else was she supposed to put it? “Hello?”

“Valerie? It’s Julie.” She sounded far away.

“What’s up?”

“Just wanted to let you know we really can’t afford to lose this one. Earth is depending on us. The fact that the planet will likely be destroyed in a few years by either a comet or global warming is beside the point. You do have a plan, right?”

Valerie nodded (pointlessly). “Well, I think we have a pretty good shot at winning. I took those west coast swing classes a few summers ago and in middle school, Me’s mom made him take cotillion, so –”

“Really not good enough,” Julie cut in. “You need to get sneaky. Devious. Kill, if you have to.”

“It’s not Tuesday.”

“Well, do whatever it takes,” Julie sighed, annoyed with Valerie’s twisted sense of morals. “Over and out.”

Valerie put the communication device back down her skimpy dress and crept towards the stage. Mr. Mister and Sailor Boris were already dancing before the audience. As the unusually tall couple waltzed, Mr. Mister’s long cloak billowed behind them, glistening darkly, and really looking rather attractive. The pair danced closer and closer to where Valerie was hiding behind the side curtain when the devious little sailor was struck with a brilliant plan.

As Light and Mr. Mister swept by, Valerie grabbed a hold of the end of the cloak and yanked hard. Obediently, the cloak billowed down to the ground, leaving Cajun Man exposed before the viewing audience – naked.

Cajun Man looked down at himself and groaned, covering his unmentionables with a conveniently located fig leaf. “Humiliation.”

Sailor Boris pointed an accusing finger at Valerie, furious. “SHE did this!”

Valerie shrugged innocently. “It snagged on the curtain pulley. There was nothing that I could do.”

“Deception,” Cajun Man scowled.

There was a brief moment where the judges consulted amongst themselves in a quiet huddle. Me stood to the side, waiting for the official call. When it was announced, he beamed. “They’re citing indecent exposure and knocking Mr. Mister and Boris from the competition!” he said gleefully to Valerie.

“That’s the best kind of winning,” she smiled back.

“Resignation,” Cajun Man sighed as he walked off the stage, cloakless and friendless.

“A happy ending at last,” Julie said. Cranberry scowled from her armchair. Only one more to go. She held up the communication device and dialed a new number. Eva-chan, don’t let me down …

Survivor: Senshi Island

Eva and KeyKey sat side-by-side on a small tropical island in front of a fire Key had somehow managed to build without the use of matches or a flamethrower. Across from them sat their competitors, Sailor Light and Madame Deatrich, French teacher tres mal.

Not actually having cable access in the misty Web of Time, Eva had never seen the original Survivor so she had no idea that the show was all about forming alliances, manipulation, betrayal, and eating rats. Julie would have informed her of these things had Eva been allowed to bring the communication device to the alliance.

As Eva and Key sat in silence, Light and Deatrich began arguing over whether or not the English translation of Les Miserables was better than the original French. Light thought the original French was the best, but Deatrich, being unable to read French, preferred the English translation. When Key mentioned that she thought the Broadway show was far superior to the over-long (aka: boring) book, the argument exploded.

Meanwhile, Eva sat in silence, watching with interest as the three women continued to yell and scream, running around the fire, and trying to push each other into the flames. Not actually having a library or theatre in the misty Web of Time, Eva had no opinion in the matter and thought it best if she just sit still and stay quiet. It’s always best not to attract the attention of rabid, wild beasts.

Half an hour later when it was time for the voting, Key voted Light off the island, Light voted Key off the island, and Madame Deatrich, misunderstanding the rules of the game (and not being terribly bright), voted herself off.

Which left Eva, and Team Good Guys as the winner.

Julie jumped up from her armchair so quickly it fell backwards, knocking the complimentary Red Bull and TAG body spray from their positions on top of the mini fridge. “Hooray for Eva-chan!” she yelled enthusiastically.

Sailor Cranberry scowled again. “You know you haven’t won, right? We both have three points. And you know what that means …”

“A tie,” the Architect said, a strange, slow smile spreading across his face. “Oh yes, a tie. How very, very intriguing.”


SMoo Randomness:
Mallory: No wonder she's so weird! Niki's odd and somewhat distant behavior must be due to the fact that back in seventh grade, she was forced to watch a singing pineapple man get chased around by a chef with a large knife!