It is the end of day one in the Little Big Play Cousin house, and I am sitting here in the Head Houseguest In Charge bedroom wondering how I became the first HHIC. My head hurts and I have to sit here with all of these people, these STRANGERS, gathered around me laughing and smiling and acting like I am the most fascinating person they ever did lay eyes on. If I squint hard enough, I can even see the fear dancing behind their eyes and thought bubbles popping up over their heads saying, “Please don’t put me on the block! I don’t want to be the first one to go home!” Well, hell, I don’t even want to be the first HHIC, but here I am! Here I fucking am! How the hell did this happen??
Mama always did say that I had a strong stomach and a hard head. Maybe that is why I won. At first, I was leery as hell of that competition because we had to hang upside down by our ankles for a really long time. The way it worked was that, as we passed out from the blood rushing to our heads, we were eliminated. I know what you are thinking. “That sounds really fucking dangerous!” Well, obviously, they got the go ahead from medical professionals. I mean, what do I know? I am PhD-less. Besides, with all this money on the line, it will be worth it in the end! Not to mention, being on Little Big Play Cousin will make me a household name!!!
Hanging upside down wasn’t so bad, anyway. Well, at least not at first. After about six of us had passed out, and had been lowered to the ground by cranes, they started shooting mud pies at us! After the mud pies, came the honey. THICK streams of honey, raining down on us from above. The mud and honey was topped off with squirts of a foamy whipped cream-like substance. I felt like I weighed as much as an elephant after awhile, but still I was not about to pass out! No ma’am! I mean, I knew I could not be the first person down, but I think I remember thinking that I wanted to show people that I wasn’t some girlie-wimpy type of chick, neither! So I hanged there, swaying from side to side until eventually, I was the last one swinging! At least, I think I was swinging and swaying. I guess it is possible that I was just dizzy and teetering on the edges of consciousness. It was not until my head stopped swimming that I realized that I should have just pretended to pass out. Damnit!
Anyway, the most fascinating thing about watching unconscious people being lowered to the ground, looking like dead pigs at a slaughterhouse, came after their bodies hit the mat. Medics would run up to the passed out houseguest with oxygen masks and smelling salts. They would put the salt up under their noses and their eyes would pop open like they had just be shocked by electricity. Then they put the oxygen masks on and gave them orange juice to drink.
Is that fascinating, or is it just me? I guess when your brain is drenched in blood and is all muddled up, any and everything seems fascinating. I just want to know what the hell orange juice had to do with anything? Does hanging upside down lower your blood sugar? I guess that doesn’t matter right now. Right now, what matters is that I, Sherradonatella D. Mugganflapper from little old Lula, Georgia, just won the first HHIC competition and now I have to figure out who to nominate for eviction without pissing anyone off. Damnit!
“You should, like, totally put up the guy with the, like, big muscles and that girl who is, like, already clinging to him! I mean, what a skank, right?” A blonde girl, with way too much makeup on, corners me in the HHIC bathroom. I do not want to ask her name again because she seems like the type to take offense to people not just remembering who she is.
“Can I just wash my hands first,” I ask her and giggle nervously.
Blonde Girl snarls and moved from in front of the sink. Or, at least I THINK she snarled. She may or may not have had some work done on her face immediately before entering the house. Either way it is hard to get a read on what she may be thinking because her face seems unnaturally stiff. Also, her over-arched eyebrows make it look like she is in a constant state of shock.
I giggle again as I turn on the faucet and soap up my hands. “OMG, get it together, Sherra!” I chastise myself. “Stop giggling so damn much!” I giggle, again.
“No, really. That guy with the big fucking muscles is, like, such a big threat. I can tell he is going to, like, win like… EVERY HHIC and Veto of Doom competition that he possibly can! We need to, like, get him out because you know he, like, already has an alliance!” Blonde Girl leans forward, towards the bathroom mirror, and fluffs her thick mane of golden hair extensions.
I giggle and ask, “Which guy with muscles? There are, like, four of them.”
Blonde Girl sighs and rolls her eyes, “Nevermind.”
I giggle again as she abruptly walks away from me and rejoins the mob.
What just happened? There are literally four guys here with abnormally big muscles. “How am I to know which one she meant?”
Altogether, we are a group of 16 houseguests, eight guys and eight gals, all vying for a chance at capturing the Little Big Play Cousin throne and all the money and fame that comes with it! It won’t be an easy road. People are cutthroats in this game and will sell their mama and eat their first born baby if it meant that they would reign supreme at the end of the day.
I dry my hands and grab the bottle of lotion from the counter. My eyes dart around. I am searching for anything that will delay my inevitable return to the HHIC bedroom. MY HHIC bedroom. How did this happen?? I look up from the counter just in time to see one of the muscle-bound guys walking up to me. I yelp.
“Did you just yelp, bro ?” Muscles asks.
I giggle, DAMNIT. I giggle, again. “It is just.. Uh, the hiccups,” I say lamely.
Muscles smiles, revealing dimpled cheeks. “You know who you are putting up on the block yet?”
I sigh and fling my arms around, “OMG I like literally just won! I don’t even know you guyses names yet!”
“Woah, chill bro! I was just wondering! My name is Linkin by the way. After Linkin Park. You know, like the band? My parents are cool like that.”
“No way! They aren’t old enough to have been out when you were conceived. How old are you??”
“I just turned eighteen!” Muscles beamed as if managing to live to the ripe old age of eighteen was some kind of accomplishment.
“Wow!”I make a mental note to curb lusty thoughts.
“So, like we should so totally be in an alliance together. I think your sage wisdom will be invaluable to me in this game.”
“Sage? Just how old do you think I am??”
“Um, like 37.”
I feel my left eye start to twitch, “Wow! You are only off by ten years!”
“WOAH! You are 47? You look focking AWESOME for your age, bro!”
“What the fuck!? I AM 27!!”
“Woah… ,” Linkin says softly. He walks closer to me and puts his right hand on my shoulder. What the hell is he doing? “No way, bro…,” he whispers, shaking his bald head. “No one is going to buy that, bro. Look, you can’t start out this game lying about small shit like that, bro. People will not trust you and we need people to be able to trust you if we are going to be in an alliance together, bro.”
I put a finger up to my eye to stop it from twitching. If this is the muscle-bound guy that Blonde Girl was talking about, he is SO going on the block!
Muscles gives me a compassionate smile and steps back, “But, yea, bro just think about the offer, OK? And don’t be embarrassed by your real age. Like, I am sure that there are some other people here old like you. ”
I clench my fists and grit my teeth at Linkin’s back as he leaves the bathroom.
This is going to be a long night.
I woke up this morning with a thick fog, a Final Five deal, two Final Four deals, and three Final Three deals floating around my throbbing head. Shit… I might be in trouble.
Before the panic could fully set in, I hear a knock at the door and a beefy, yet toned, leg kicks it open. It’s Linkin. Yay…
He is topless, wearing tight, Nick Hat blue short shorts. Is that baby oil on his skin? Woah, that’s a big bulge.
“I made you some coffee and a bagel,” Linkin says.
“Oh! That was nice of you!” Maybe a little caffeine will help with this headache.
Linkin slowly walks over to the bed, I mean like really slowly, but he still manages to slosh coffee all over the place. How does that happen? Sadly, the “coffee” was mostly milk and sugar and the bagel felt like it had gone straight from fridge to plate. I smile and take the coffee. Fuck the bagel. I put that on the nightstand.
Linkin flops down on the bed. Hard. Geesh! If there had been more coffee in my cup, I would have gotten it all over this nice, plushy down comforter from The Stone!
“Right, so are we good on that Final Two deal, bro?” Linkin looks me in the eyes. His gaze is intense.
Huh? What Final Two deal? Did I get drunk last night and black out? THESE PEOPLE ARE KILLING ME!
“Um… How many seasons of Little Big Play Cousin have you seen?” I ask him.
“ALL OF THEM! I am totes a Super Fan, bro!”
“Riiight… So… Do you think that making a Final Two deal so early in the game is a good idea?”
Linkin frowns and pulls back, “Woah, bro, you are really being majorly sketchy, right now. You are really sketching me out, majorly, bro.”
I am nervous now, so I giggle and say, “No, no! I don’t mean to uh… ‘sketch you out,’ er, bro. I am just saying that we still have a lot of game to play and I don’t know if right now is the best time to make final anything deals with anyone. Besides, I already have like five or six other deals that I am pretty sure doesn’t even include you.” OK, I only say last part in my head.
Linkin’s frown deepens, “Listen bro, if you don’t want to work with me, that is perrrrfectly fine, bro. I mean, I was going to keep you protected for AT LEAST the next five weeks, bro. But, I guess if you don’t want that protection I,” he thumbs his chest, “can offer it up to someone else, bro. Just remember this conversation when you are up on the block next week, bro, because I have warned you, bro!”
Yikes! Maybe he is part of one of the alliance deals I made last night! He has to be because there is no way he thinks he can protect me all by himself. Damnit! Why can’t I remember??? Maybe I should go into the Journal Room and ask the medic if brain damage and memory loss is associated with prolonged hanging upside-downedness. But, I will have to deal with that later, right now, I need to try to think fast!
I giggle and throw my arms in the air. “Yaaaay! You passed the test!”
Linkin looks confused for a few seconds before giving a slow chuckle, and then a bellowing laugh. “Oooooh, I see what you were doing, bro. You are a sly fox. A foxy old lady, bro.”
I growl under my breath.
“Woah, eat your bagel,” Linkin picks the saucer up from the nightstand and hands it to me. “I can practically hear your belly, like, rumbling, bro.”
I slap the bagel off the plate. “Oops! I am SO clumsy!”
Linkin throws his head back and laughs. I giggle.
“It’s OK, bro. Clumsy older ladies are, like, WAY hot, bro. You are kind of like Sandra Bullock, in every movie she has ever done, in that way, bro.”
Hey! I am hotter, and MUCH younger! And, what is this sunny California surfer dude swag he has going on? He was born and raised in Omaha!! Mysteries… Or… I guess it is just as likely that I am getting his birthplace mixed up with someone else’s. I need an aspirin.
“So, we are good then, bro?”
“Yes, Final Two, me and you… Bro! Meanwhile, we should… Uh… meet with the rest of our alliance to make a game plan,” I hold my breath and watch as Linkin’s face falls into a confused frown. Eep, nope! I should not have said that!
Linkin furrowed his eyebrows. He is thinking really hard. “How do you mean, bro?”
I giggle. “I mean, obviously it cannot just be me and you… We need to find… I mean, we need to recruit some soldiers, to er… Do our dirty work for us! To, uh, keep the blood off of our hands and fry the bigger fish. I, uh… I thought we were on the same page with this.”
Linkin nods knowingly… At least, he is pretending to know. “Right, bro. We need strong soldiers to fortify our army, bro. Take out the big fish.”
I clap and giggle through a tight grin, “Yes! That is… what we need!”
A knock sounds on the door. Oh, thank goodness! Save me!
Blonde Girl walks in. Aw, shit!
Linkin perks up and rearranges his bulging package. How can his boys even breathe in there? “Hey Maisy,” he says, “What’s cooking, bro?”
Maisy! I snap my fingers. Maisy and Linkin look at me. I giggle.
Maisy swings her head towards Linkin. There was heat glaring behind those baby blues.
“Don’t ever call me bro! I am not a bro! I am a lady, a woman, not a bro, not a brother. A girl, a sister or a sis! I am thin and pretty, not smelly and rough. I am soft, I smell GOOD! I pay a lot of money to smell, look and taste good. Do not call me bro! Ever! Got it?”
Linkin stares at Maisy until she breaks his trance by flicking her wrist, dismissing him with a single wave.
Linkin gets up and leaves. Holy shit! I need to learn her magics!
I watch wide-eyed as Maisy takes Linkin’s spot on the bed next to me. She gets right to business.
“Listen, you need to, like, put up Maura and Meagan. They are coming after you next week. They told me. Plus, they are, like, already calling themselves M & M. They have got to go!”
Maisy speaks rapidly and sometimes it takes me a second to fully process her words. So, while waiting on my possibly brain-damaged brain to do that, I say this: “Meagan, Maura and Maisy. M & M & M.” And, of course, I say it with a giggle.
Maisy wrinkles her nose as if something foul had just passed up under it. “Did you hear me? Those girls want you OUT OF THE HOUSE next week! You need to put them on the block!”
“They are coming after me? But, why? I haven’t done anything to them…” Plus, I am pretty sure that I am in an alliance with both of them. Two different alliances, but allied nonetheless. Shouldn’t I be safe?
“Oh my GAWD! I am, like, giving you good intel here! Wake up! Are you going to put them up or not? I need to know, like, right now.”
Shit… Should I put them up? Won’t I be backstabbing two alliances if I do that? Oh, yea… That would not be a good idea. I need to convince Maisy that there is a better way! “I have not decided who to put up on the block, yet…” I throw my hands up in a shrug.
Maisy glared. “Maura said that your boob job sucks and, like, your right tit’s bigger than your left tit.”
I stare blankly at Maisy for a minute. Is she serious with this shit? If my boobs are two different sizes, it is because God made them that way! A boob job? “Er… It was probably just a joke,” I tell her flatly. Then, I smile. Hey, no giggle that time. Being accused of having work done by the Plastics Queen must have been sobering.
Maisy scoffs, “Oh, they laughed alright. Listen, if you don’t put them on the block, they will, like, come for you next week and I won’t be able to protect you because there is, like, NOTHING I can do with someone who isn’t willing to accept my friendly advice when it is, like, literally handed to them on a silver platter!”
I am not allied with Maisy. I can so totally put her on the block. I am going to tell her that she is going up right now!
Maisy softens her tone, her shoulders slack a bit. Ha! She knows she was about to be in trouble! “Listen Sherra,” she says, “our alliance really needs you to, like, do this. It is what is best for our alliance, if we want to go far. You should really just put them up. ”
Huh? Wait… What? Could she not have led with that whole, we are allies, thing? Oh, I know what I can say! I shake my head and shrug, “I just really don’t want to put two girls up on the block the first week. Maybe I… We… Our alliance should go after that muscly guy you were telling me about before… I will make him my target and, uh, put him up next to a pawn!” That’s the ticket!
“What the fuck is a muscly??” Bitch-Maisy is back. That was fast.
I shake my head and flail my arms about.
Maisy rudely cringes at my awkwardness. “Listen,” she says, “I need for you to, like, really understand this. Pawns DO go home! Besides, if you put Daniel,” the muscle-bound guy, “on the block, all of the strong guys will go after you! If you put two girls on the block, it will show them that you aren’t all into that vagina loyalty bullshit and they will work with you and protect you!”
“But… I am into that vagina loyalty bullshit.”
“Ugh!” Now she looks as if she has tasted something foul, “I am going to, like, pretend that you did NOT just say that!” Maisy flips her weave, “Ugh,” she says again. I heard you the first time, bitch. “Listen, don’t come crying to me next week about this! If you don’t put up Meagan and Maura, you are, like, FOR SURE going home next because our alliance will be livid!”
“I can always win the Veto of Doom…”
Maisy throws her weave around and laughs, “Oh my GAWD! Do you, like, hear yourself?!”
I give a quick shrug, but before I could think of a suitable remark to that condescending question, someone knocks on the door and opens it. A short auburn-haired girl poked her head into the room. Her name is Lana. I think. If nothing else, I know she is in one of my alliances. I think.
“We are talking right now, get out!” Maisy snaps. My eyes widen. What the fuck?
Lana laughs but her face reads, “Excuse me?” She ignores Maisy’s orders and turns to me, “Can we talk alone?” Oh. I guess Maisy’s powers don’t work on everyone. I am relieved, yet a little disappointed.
I look up at Maisy. I am scared, but I force myself to say, “Ifff you don’t mind…” I move my arm in a sweepingly stiff Vanna White-like motion towards the door.
Legit flames are raging in Maisy’s eyes now. Eep! “Of course I mind! But, whatever, it’s your funeral.”
Lana, with an open mouthed smirk, and I, with a strained, fear-laden smile, watch as Maisy gets up and flounces out of the room. Thank God that is over!
Lana moved to take Maisy’s spot. These people, and their bums, are going to wear a hole in this fabulous comforter from The Stone!
“What in the hell was that about?” Lana wants to know. “Doesn’t she know that she can’t just talk to people like that?”
I shrug. And, I giggle. “She wants me to put Maura and Maisy on the block.”
Lana looks confused, “But… she is Maisy.”
I giggle. “I mean, she wants me to put Maura and… Megan on the block.”
“Yes! Meagan!” Jesus.
“OK, well you are not going to do that, right? Obvi. I mean, Meagan and Maura are in our alliance. She is stupid if she thinks you are going to do that!”
Huh? Wait… I am confused. I giggle. “Well, she doesn’t know that we are, all four, working together…” Hell, even I didn’t know. So, is this one of my Final Four deals or is this the Final Five deal?
“OK, so since you obvi cant put up M & M, who will you put up? I mean, if you ask me, I think you should put up Linkin. He is already getting on everyone’s nerves! He keeps telling M & M that he wants them to melt in his mouth. He is, like, so obvi a creep. ”
“Obvi…” When did we get too lazy to say three syllable words?
“So, who are you putting up next to Linkin? ”
“Um, Daniel?” I will make Linkin my pawn and blindside Daniel!
“What? Why would you put up your own alliance member? Are you a Rachelle?”
Shit! I resist grabbing my heart. I giggle. “Uh, well, you know… I mean, what better way to throw people off of our trail? They, uh… They won’t EVER suspect that we are working together if I put him on the block! Right?”
Lana just stares at me.
“Or, you know… I can, like, not put him up at all…”
“Yea. That may be a better plan. So, who will you put up next to Linkin?”
I feel dizzy. “Well, obvi I will put up someone who is not in our alliance, silly goose!”
Lana nods and say, “OK, well… Think about it. Me, you and the others will meet up late tonight when it is safe to get together. Plan?”
I give a tight smile, “Plan,” I squeak.
After Lana exited my HHIC room, the rest of the day did not get any easier, but I managed to mostly figure out all of my alliances. One Final Two deal, one Final Five deal, two Final Four deals, and then three Final Three deals which had spun off from the Final Five and Final Four deals. Shit. Crap. Fuck.
The good thing about having deals with 11 out of 16 people in the house is that it only leaves me with a few options of who to put on the block. The bad thing about having deals with 11 out of 16 people in the house is that I have deals with 11 out of 16 people in the house! Fuck! Crap! Shit!
“I have nominated you, Stacy and you Phil, for eviction.”
“My name is Casey,” the girl totally not named Stacy said.
“Yea. And, mine is Bill,” the guy totally not named Phil said.
Oops! “Hehe,” I giggle.
Well, hell, this isn’t all my fault. I hardly got any sleep last night. Nerves were part of it, alright, but Maura and Meagan barging into my room at 3:00 in the morning didn’t help, none.
“Maisy just told us you are putting us both on the block!” Maura shouted.
I shot upright in my bed and stayed that way for the next three hours as I tried to convince M & M that they weren’t going up, and as they tried to browbeat me into putting up Maisy. I ain’t going to lie. I am extremely scared of her! Plus, the cool kids seem to really like her. I can’t get blood on my hands this early in the game!
I finally got the duo to leave when I told them about my probably brain-damaged brain and how much it needed to rest before the Veto of Doom Nomination Ceremony this morning. I blame them for my current memory lapse.
I look at the producer, and whisper, “Should I start over?” I get the go ahead.
I take a deep breath and square my shoulders. This looks so much easier on the T.V. “I have nominated you, Casey, and you Bill for eviction,” I stiffly sweep my arm between the seated duo.
“Casey, I have nominated you because, you are, uh… like totally a big threat in this game.” Casey arches an eyebrow. I ramble on, “I mean, you seem nice and everything, but, uh…” Well, hell, you aren’t in any of my alliances!! I giggle.
“Yea. So, that’s why. And, you, Bill,” my eyes dart nervously around Bill’s face. I can’t seem to look him in the eyes. “You are up there just because, uh, it would be totally best for me, and the game I am trying to play, if you, er… If you are just not here anymore.” Bill sneers at me. Ack! “But, if you do stay, no hard feelings, OK?”
I turn back to Casey, “You, too, Casey. Please don’t be mad at me! It is uh, not personal. It is just all game. It is just a game move. Um, so this concludes the Little Big Play Cousin Veto of Doom Nomination Ceremony. Please-don’t- be-mad-at-me. Thank you!”
I wipe away the sweat pouring from my forehead and crumble into my seat. Is that snickering I hear? I wasn’t that bad was I?
“We totally need a name for our Final Two alliance, bro” Linkin says to me. He and I had climbed into the hammock out back; it was vacant for once. Sitting here now, under the early afternoon sun, I can kind of see why.
“Uh, sure,” I say. An alliance name will make this deal a lot more official than I want it to be.
Linkin crosses his arms, with a satisfied smirk on his face, and says, “I was thinking ‘Fortifiers United!’”
Yikes! I shook my head no, but said, “Um, OK, sure… But… Why?”
“Because we are united in fortifying this shit, bro! Once we fortify our army, our minions, our focking servants, we will OWN this game, bro! Plus, here is the best part, bro,” I brace myself, “Our initials will be F-focking-U! It can’t get much better than that, bro!” Linkin rubs his hands together and laughs. He is obviously extremely proud of himself.
I blink. I stare for a second. I plaster a smile on my face. “Sure… The F.U’s it is!” I attempt to feign excitement by clenching my fists and shaking them in an excited-like fashion.
‘Fortifiers United?’ Ugh. Fuck it. I am not going to waste time coming up with a good alliance name for an alliance that I don’t even remember agreeing to in the first place.
“This is awesome, bro!” Linkin leans in and whispers, “So, I was thinking that we should, like, totally recruit Casey into our army, bro.”
Um. “But, I just nominated her for eviction.” Look at me. I am stating the obvious.
“That’s why it’s perfect, bro, no one will ever see it coming! We will make a deal with her, okay bro? We will tell her that we will save her from eviction as long as she joins us in kicking some serious focking ass, bro.”
“How do you propose we swing that? The saving her from eviction part, I mean.”
Linkin throws his arms up and shrugs. “I don’t know, bro. We’ll make up some lies about Bill, or something, bro. We will wing it. We got this, bro! Look,” Linkin points towards the door, “there she is now!”
I look up to see Casey walking out of the house. She is a relatively average looking girl. Long, straight black hair, tanned, blue eyes. Big tits, small ass. Pretty teeth. She looks around my age which, in Linkin years, would mean that I look almost old enough to be her mother.
Before I can do anything to stop him, Linkin waves her over. I shake my head frantically, waving my arms about. “Abort! Abort,” I hiss at him.
Linkin totally ignores me, and shouts, “Hey Casey, bro, we have a proposition for you!” Shit! I look around in a panic. The backyard was empty for once. Jesus!
As Casey closes in on us, in a misguided effort to stand up, I swing my right leg over the side of the hammock and promptly flip over, falling flat on my face. Ooof!
I lie there, unmoving. I mean, what’s the point in getting up? I am already down here and the grass is nice and warm, and also oddly super plush and soft. It feels good down here. I feel safe down here.
“Woah, bro! Are you OK, bro?” Linkin gets up and jogs around the hammock and pulls me to my feet. Bye-bye fuzzy, warm feeling.
I giggle as I awkwardly steady myself against Linkin. At least he has pants on today. Maybe tomorrow he will work his way up to both pants and a shirt. “Yea, sure I am OK,” I say, “But, uh…” Mmm, maybe now is the perfect time to wiggle out of this situation. “Listen, can you help me up to my room? I think I should, uh, lie down. I do feel a little, uh, dizzy.”
“Sure thing, bro!” Yes! “Follow us, Casey.” No!
I shake my head at Linkin, as subtly as I can. I blink one eye at him, then the other, then both eyes. Rapidly. “I- Eh- Uh-… Nnnnn, Nnnnnnn!!” I say.
“Woah… What’s happening, bro?” Linkin steps back and squints at me with his mouth agape. Is that his “I am concerned,” face?
I catch Casey out of the corner my eye. Her mouth is also open; slightly. She looks incredulous. And, bemused. And, amused. And, also, some not-so-nice words that I can’t think of right now. “Well, fuck you bitch,” I say to her in my head.
“Bro,” Linkin says, “you have some kind of funky tick kind of thing going on.” He puts his hand on my shoulder. “Maybe you should go see the medic, bro. I can handle this talk with Casey alone, bro.”
I sigh and flop to the ground. “No. It’s OK. I am fine.” I gesture towards the Hammock of Death. “You two take the hammock.” I give up, but there is no way I am about to let Linkin have this talk without me.
Casey moves to climb onto the hammock. She moves gradually, as if she is scared that any sudden movements will send me into another neurotic spasm.
Linkin’ still looks worried. “Are you sure, bro?”
“Yes, I am sure. SIT,” I tell him.
Casey speaks for the first time as she tries to get settled in the hammock, “OK, so that was really weird.”
“No, bitch, YOU are really weird,” I snap, in my head. Though I am feeling loads of entirely irrational rage, I manage to give Casey a tight smile.
Linkin hops on the hammock and gets right to business. “Look, bro. Your ass is really in the line of fire this week.”
Casey looks at me and asks pointedly, “I wonder how that could be?”
I ignore her. Like seriously, fuck you.
Linkin continues, “You need me and Sherra to save you or else you will be the first out the door! And we aaaaaall,” Linkin makes a sweeping arch motion, “know you don’t want that, bro!”
Casey is still looking at me, but she is addressing Linkin. “She wants to help me, too?”
I give Casey an even tighter smile. Of course, I don’t want to help you! You are the target for at least two of my alliances, bitch! “I will help,” I tell her as I mentally cross all my fingers and toes. My eyes, arms and legs, too.
“OK, here is the plan, bro,” Linkin leans in and whispers, “we are going to go around and tell everyone that Bill has been totally badmouthing them, bro. Like, he has been saying all kinds of nasty shit about their families and shit. Stuff like that, bro.”
I blink. Holy shit. He can’t be serious.
“You think that can work?” Casey wants to know. Wait. Is that a serious question? No, idiot. That will never work!
I jump in. “We probably need to uh, employ a more subtle method.”
“Stealth mission! I dig it, bro!” Linkin says. He stares at me for a half a minute before I realize he is waiting for me to continue. Wait, this has to be my plan now? The fuck?
Casey cuts in before I can think of what to say next, “No. I like Linkin’s plan!” You do? “I’m in. Let’s do it!”
“Awesome! So, what should we call this Final Three alliance, bros?”
Oh, fuck me.
“It was, like, one of the biggest betrayals of my life. I had so many people against me! It taught me a lot about, like, how you cannot trust anyone. No one has your back in this world! It is, like, all up to me. Myself. And I. No one else. No one else.”
Maisy is holding court in my HHIC room. Again. We are on lockdown, waiting for the crew to finish setting up the Veto of Doom competition. Fifteen people are strewn across the room; a few on the bed, some of on the floor, others on the sofas. Lana is the missing sixteenth houseguest. She is hosting the VOD comp and is off somewhere getting ready. I stand awkwardly by the entrance to the bathroom. If need be, I can run in there to escape.
A little while ago, a couple of the squirrels, who help run things around here, came in with trays of tiny cups containing two big pink pills each. You know the kind of cups we see in every movie that is set in a mental institution? That’s what they looked like. They told us to take the pills and left. It was kind of weird, now that I think about it. What did we even take? Someone probably should have asked. Probably.
The competition is athletic today, so the VOD players are dressed in pastel colored sneakers with t-shirts and shorts. I think Maisy ordered her clothes about five sizes too small, because there is spillage, like, everywhere. The non-VOD players were given pajamas to wear.
I scratch my head and focus back in on Maisy standing tall in the middle of the room. Well, at least as tall as she can at 5’2. I think her overpowering perfume is beginning to make me feel a bit woozy. I slump against the doorframe.
Maisy swipes at her bone dry cheeks and sniffles. “Anytime any of my friends, like, need me,” she pauses and draws in a sharp, shaky breath, “I am right there for them!” her words shoot out in a trail of squeaks. “But when I needed them,” she presses her hand to her spilt bosoms, “when I, like, really needed them… So many of them, like, turned their backs on me! It was so fucking unreal!” she wails.
Half of the room sits… enthralled? I think. They sit looking like semi-zoned out zombies and hold on to Maisy’s every word as if they are dipped in meth-laced honey and hold the key to curing cancer. Everyone else is a mix of amused, annoyed, and bored; and they all look sleepy. Once I manage to figure out how the hell I feel, I will let you know.
I let out a muffled yawn. Shit! I hope Maisy did not hear that. My eyes zip back towards her. She is clutching her chest, now, kneeling to ground. What is this? Performance art? Where the fuck is this story even going?
“It was, like, such a simple request! I was not asking for much. I like, never ask for much! I am, like, such a super- low-maintenance kind of gal, I know you all can tell that!” Maisy tries to look melancholy, but her face stops her from accomplishing that feat. She continues in a dramatic whisper. I lean forward.
“I shared a picture on my Facebook wall…”
What? I stick a finger in my right ear and wiggle it around. Is my brain-damaged brain making me lose my hearing? Did she say, ‘Facebook?’ I lean forward some more.
“The picture was a close-up of a face… I mean, it was a little graphic, but not like, that bad or anything! It was important to show because, like, people have to, like walk around in the world looking and living like that every day and it is so hard!”
Ack. She’s talking louder now. I don’t like it.
“The picture, like, talked about the perils of something that so many people suffer from,” Maisy lets out a sigh and continues, “Chronic Ingrown Hairs Syndrome, or like, you know, CIHS for short.”
Right. Like, who didn’t know that? Wait… What? What do ingrown hairs have to do with the price of yams in Africa?
“All I asked is for them to, like, share the picture,” Maisy starts to tremble. “’Share this if you love me,’ I said. ‘I am a sufferer of CIHS and people need to, like, hear about this!’”
One of the enthralled masses, a guy, slowly reaches out and rubs Maisy’s arm, comforting her. He looks groggy and like he is pained at the same time. Are those tears I see in his eyes? I squint and lean forward just a little bit more. Yep. Tears.
Maisy presses her glossy lips together and says, “I have 5000 friends. Only, like, 50 of them cared enough to share.” Her voice wavers, “That is when I realized who really loved me!”
Suddenly, a loud honk blares across the room, shaking some of the boreds and zombies out of their half-slumber. Everyone’s head snaps towards me. Maisy is glaring poisoned daggers through my eyeballs.
Huh? What the fuck are they looking at?
“Bro,” Linkin says to me slowly. Or, as slowly as one can say, ‘Bro.’ “Did you just… honk?”
I giggle. What? I most certainly did not honk! I shake my head from side to side rapidly and giggle some more. “What?” I ask aloud, this time, as I simultaneously attempt to make a quick turn so that I can escape through the bathroom door.
That shit should have been as easy as slipping a bill in a stripper’s g-string, but leave it to me to fuck up an otherwise simple maneuver. I, instead, fall forward to the ground as gracefully as a newborn fawn that has yet to figure out the general, overall purpose of having legs. My face slams against the hardwood floor, causing my brain to rattle about in my skull. Not quite the plush landing that the grass in the backyard provided.
Laughter trickles in through the ringing in my ears. Are these fuckers laughing at me? But I am HHIC! You cannot laugh at the HHIC in their HHIC room! Isn’t that, like, an unspoken fucking rule? If it is not, it should be!
Linkin had made his way over to me and is now reaching out a hand to lift me up, “Don’t worry Fortifier, I got you, bro” he says loud enough for everyone to hear. If I had it in me, I would groan right now.
I reach for his hand and try to stand up. W to the T and F? My legs feel like jelly! Standing? Yea, that is not happening right now.
I flop back to the ground as the door to the HHIC room swings open and Lana walks in dressed as a giant pink and white pill bottle. She runs to the middle of the room, shoving Maisy out of the way she says, “Get on your feet, Veto of Doom Players! It is time to play Been-A-Drilled!”
This cannot be good.
“She is, like, totally dead, bro-skis.” Linkin said.
My body feels light… Am I suspended in the air? It feels as if nothing can touch me up here. Wherever “here” is, I am safe and it feels so good. Heavenly, even. It is as if I have been wrapped up in the warmth of a thousand baby alpacas. You know the ones, those soft fluffy little critters. They remind me of my uncle’s farm back in Georgia. I sigh happily and hug myself.
Oh, alpacas, I think want to ally with you! You are the only true friends I have in this game. I will take you all to the Final Two with me!
Suddenly, out of no-fricking-where, I feel a meaty hand slap across my face and my eyelids flutter open.
Eep! No, I want to go back…
My eyes flit across the skies above and I wince as my corneas are viciously assaulted by what can only be described as a cheerfully psychedelic hellscape. A barrage of lights and bright colors joyfully bounce off of one another, taunting me with their colorful, uh, colorfulness.
And, there are clouds. There are clouds, just, everywhere. Pink ones, blue ones, green ones, yellow ones, purple ones, white ones, nine silly gray ones, I bounce my head from side to side, humming the Cloud Song to myself.
Are those snickers I hear trying to find their way through the fog in my brain-damaged brain? I cannot quite identify the sound… Fuck it, what do I care? I am lying here, suspended in air, floating amongst bright, colorful clouds, wrapped in the warmth of a million baby alpacas. Nobody can touch me here. Nobody!
I sigh. Again. Happily. I have a smile on my face. I am just going to float here in peace and see if I can figure out which of these lights I am supposed to walk into. No, not walk; float!
I start to hum again, I am a floater, I float here, I float there, I float every-fucking-where. IIIIIIIIIIIII’M A FLOATER — Wait… What? Holy shit. I’m a floater?
“I AM A FLOATER,” I scream.
Now those definitely are not snickers. Those are full on belly laughs. I hear them clear as day, now. Well, fuck all of you haters! I AM IN THE CLOUDS! You can’t touch me!
A pasty white face abruptly moves into my field of view. What the…?
The face belongs to a man; a man with a smile so wide that it reaches up to his ears. Is It the Joker? No, his lips are not red enough… Wait, how did he get up here? These are my clouds, my baby alpacas! BACK OFF!
“Get out,” I spit, angrily, through clenched teeth.
The Joker laughs. Ugh. So. Fucking. Predictable. “Can you sit up for me, Sherra?” he asks.
Is he nuts? You don’t sit up on clouds, you float on clouds.
“Do you have a magic carpet?” I ask in response.
“Then, how the hell am I supposed to sit up?” I snap. I swear, people never think!
“Just give me your hand,” the Joker grabs my hand and pulls me up. “See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Again, the Joker laughs.
I look around. Crap! How did we get to the ground so fast? And, where are my baby alpacas? All I see are pillows! My eyes dart back to The Joker. Does he know magics? I wonder if he will teach them to me…
I look around again. More color, everywhere. Color, color, color. I feel queasy.
“It looks like the Carebears had an orgy with the My Little Ponies and a box of 100 count crayons out here,” I blurt out before hurling in The Joker’s lap.
It took a little while, but lying here, atop my bed in the Head Houseguest in Charge room, I have been able to piece a few things back together. Turns out, The Joker’s real name is Tommy and he is one of the medics on staff. Oh, and I have a concussion! But, enough about that…
Today, we played the Veto of Doom competition!
The players were me, Casey, Bill, Maisy, Maura and a guy named Kale. The game was Been-A-Drilled. The objective? To survive as nine of our fellow houseguests tried to take us out by launching dodge balls from cannons. We were to be drilled by dodge balls. Last man standing, wins! Now, if I could only figure out who won? That part is still a bit fuzzy… Maybe if I go back over everything again.
From the top:
I remember everyone sleepily shuffling out into the backyard. By that time, we had all mostly figured out that we had been given some kind of sleep-aid. Based on the name of the competition, I am guessing they were some kind of allergy pills. Is that shit even legal?
Maisy was the only one who was unfazed by the pills. “They would have to give me ten of those things to take me out,” she proclaimed later.
“Um, but they were at least double the normal dose,” I said.
Somehow, that explained a lot. But, I digress.
Been-a-Drilled’s theme was some kind of twisted, celestial slumber party. Besides clouds, clouds and more clouds, there was what looked like hundreds of colorful pillows strewn across the middle of the backyard. Nine rainbow painted cannons had been arranged in a semi-circle around said pillows. That’s right, not only did we have to dodge those stupid cannon-launched balls, while drugged, we had to maneuver around mounds of fluffy pillows! Oh well, at least they were not baby alpacas.
The first casualty ended up being Maura. That ball came out of nowhere and snapped her head back hard enough for me to hear something pop. I watched in horror as she crashed to the ground and massaged her cranium. Were those stars I saw circling her dome? I gulped. Maura crawled out of the line of fire.
“Bro, watch out!” Linkin yelled, ever so obviously, to me.
My head swung around in time to see three balls headed my way. I fell to the ground and watched as Bill, who was standing behind me, took a ball to his face, his chest and his, uh, nether region. He looked stunned, and did not move for a few seconds. Maisy stood back, pointed at Bill and let out a witchy cackle. I glowered. No one was even targeting her! What the fuck?!
Bill clumsily walked off the field.
“Don’t worry, I like got you, bro,” Linkin slurred, sleepily, as he tried to get his cannon aimed at Maisy. Maisy glared at Linkin and he froze.
Ugh! What fucking use are you, Linkin???
I shook my head and scrambled to my feet. I refused to let that bitch get away with this! I stumbled over the pillows, and got in front of Maisy. I planned to use the same move on her that I unintentionally used on Bill.
Maisy pushed me! That bitch pushed me!! “Stay away from me,” she yelled.
Before I could shove Maisy back, two more balls were headed my way. I caught one ball and hit the second ball with it, causing it to ricochet and hit Kale.
“Kale, you are out!” yelled Lana.
“Er… Oops?” I said to a fuming Kale as he tried to stalk off the field. The fact that he kept falling over the pillows somewhat ruined the fiery exit he was trying to execute.
I crouched down, I was in the zone, still holding on to the ball as a shield. Casey and Maisy picked up a ball, thus stealing my fricking strategy! I growled.
I looked over at Linkin’s cannon and he was nowhere to be seen. Where the hell was my backup? I looked down to the base of the cannon. I found him; passed out! I growled again.
“Go for Casey!” Meagan shouted and five cannons were aimed towards Casey.
“Wait!” Casey cried, but it was too late. The balls fired out and she was shot down. I tried to swallow, but my throat was dry. Casey just laid there with her hands over her eyes.
“Poor thing is so embarrassed,” I thought. I looked closer. Nope. She was just sleeping. I sighed. Now I have to maneuver around the pillows AND Casey’s body. Just fricking great.
I looked back towards the cannons. We were missing two more people. Only six cannons remained manned. “I just need to wait until all of these idiots to pass out,” I thought, “Then I will takes the precious and it will alls be mine! MINE!!”
Reality slammed into me and I stood up straight, “Do I even want to win the VOD?” Noooo, I don’t! I DON’T WANT IT!
I looked to my left; Maisy was standing there examining her nails. She was the only other person remaining! I looked back to the cannons. Only two people were standing, one of which was draped across the cannon. Fuck, she is sleep too! Where the hell did the other four people go? Wait is that Linkin who is back up? When the hell did he wake back up??
Linkin signaled to me with his hands, pointing at Maisy then at himself. He smiled. I shook my head and pointed at myself. “Hit me,” I mouthed, “HIT ME!” Linkin gave me the thumbs up sign and aimed his cannon at Maisy. “Nooooooo,” I whispered. Too late. It was all too late. Linkin launched his ball and hit Maisy right in the ankle. Maisy yelped and grabbed her foot.
I won. I fucking won. I sighed and plopped down on the pillows.
“Yes!” Linkin exclaimed, startling the sleeping girl draped across the cannon. The girl’s hand swung back and she accidentally launched a ball right towards me. I would have missed it all, but, as luck would have it, I turned around just in time to see the ball slamming into my face.
I sigh and lean back in the HHIC bed. My face wrinkles up and I start to cry. “Why do I keep winning everything?” I whine.
I hear a knock on the door and Linkin crashes in.
“You forgot this downstairs, bro,” Linkin walks up to me and puts the Veto of Doom Crown atop my head.
“Bro, you are a competitions’ beast!”
I cry harder.
I am often afraid of the thoughts that come to me in the silence of night. I never know which seeds of my past will take root in dark recesses of my mind; seeds nourished only by the abject fear and anxiety that haunts my present; seeds that only serve to plant more anxiety, more fear, and doubt. I have grown to know myself quite deeply and what I know about myself is this: I fear fear, I fear darkness, and I fear silence.
What the hell am I even talking about? I am not quite sure, tbh. All I know is that silence has never been friend, nor ally; so, as I lie here, smothered by a beefy muscle-bound arm, trapped in my own HHIC bed, a very teeny tiny small part of me feels… Grateful. Yes, I am almost grateful.
“But why, Sherradonatella? WHY would you ever be grateful for such a thing?” I hear you all asking me in my brain-damaged brain.
The answer is quite simple really. You see, that beefy well-defined, muscly arm belongs to one Linkin P. Bash, and as long as the reverberation of a dozen freight trains sounds from his flaring nostrils, there is no way that silence will win this night. Silence, you are a loser!
I sigh and push my shoulder into Linkin in a futile attempt to roll him off of me. Literally, we are the only two people in this large, queen-sized HHIC bed, but I am still only an inch away from the edge of it! Why the hell is he all over me?
I should have known something was up when everyone else in the house decided that they would forgo sharing the HHIC bed once it was decided that Linkin would be sleeping here, as well. They would rather lie packed like sardines, four to a bed, than sleep up here with us.
I whimper and wonder if I can go squeeze in with one of the foursomes. I mean, I am not the thinnest slice of cake, but I am sure that if I just position myself, just so…
I look at Linkin, but first, I need to free myself!
And free myself, I tried, but the more I push Linkin away, the more he pulls me into his iron grip until, eventually, his face ends up nestled in the crook of my neck. I feel the heat of his breath against me and momentarily feel my entire body flush. Oh my god! Someone, please, help me!
Linkin only stops his snoring to start mumbling.
His first utterance startles me, “What is the ‘P’ for, ladies?”
I freeze. What ‘P’? What is he talking about? Do I want to know?
“Let me get a little taste, M&M,” Link mumbles on with a sly grin. I know it is sly because I can feel his right cheek plumping up against my neck. Oh god, please don’t let anything else plump up against me!
Linkin grabs me even tighter, he pulls himself up until his cheek is resting against my mouth, smashing my lips. I groan.
“That ‘P’ is for ‘pussy,’ broskis,” Linkin chuckles.
My eyes widen, oh baby Jesus, please command he to snore!
“Linkin ‘Pussy’ Bash,” he whispers and grins again.
Linkin P. Bash.
Ugh, he is so disgusting! I scowl and open my mouth; I prepare to bite Linkin’s grin clear off his face, but apparently the heat and moisture of my saliva is enough to finally snap him awake.
“Huh? What? Bro, what the fock?” Linkin pulls up to his knees and wipes his face.
Linkin rubs his eyes and blinks. Then, he fixed his mouth to sleepily say, “Listen, bro, you are hot and all but,” he shrugs, “like, I kind of only think of you like an aunt, bro. My much older, hot, aunt.”
I glare, harder. Is he fucking serious right now? My eyes flit around the dim HHIC room. There has got to be a sharp object somewhere around here! Maybe my stiletto pumps will work. I sit up and swing my legs over the side of the bed. I mean, I can hardly walk in them, but…
The door to the HHIC room flies open and Maisy flips on the lights. I freeze. Murderous rampage, averted.
You have got to be shitting me!
“Linkin,” she barks.
Linkin climbs out of bed wearing nothing but a pair of hot pink bikini briefs. “Yea, yea. I know, I know,” he grumbles as he exits the room.
You have got to be shitting me!
Maisy was not alone. Flanking each side of her, like a couple of doucherrific bodyguards, stand Kale and Bill.
“Judy’s out. Bill’s in. You better not be using that VOD tomorrow,” Maisy demandingly proclaims as she tosses her goldilocks inspired mane and crosses her arms.
My mind reels. I am sleepy. It is too late for this shit! I mean, what does she mean, “Judy is out?” As in she is a lesb… oh wait, no… Judy is in one of my alliances! This alliance, apparently. Er. Wait.
I shake my head. This makes no sense. “This makes no sense,” I say.
Why make me put Bill on the block if you don’t even want him evicted, I wanted to ask. I wanted to ask really, really badly. I also wanted to ask why I shouldn’t just use the VOD to take Bill off the block. But, as I said, I fear fear and fear’s name is Maisy right now. Besides, maybe she had not thought that far ahead. While she is as mean as a warthog with its ass hairs on fire, she isn’t necessarily the brightest firefly at the bonfire.
“What do you mean it makes no sense? It makes perfect sense,” Maisy hisses, hands on hips now.
I shrug my shoulders, realizing I don’t really give a fuck. Judy is out, Bill is in. So what? So fucking what? Oh wait, I guess that means that Kale is in this alliance, too! I guess that is cool, I mean… kale greens are delicious! I look Kale up and down. He glares. Eek!
“You have, like, a lot to prove to this alliance after, like, getting Kale out during the VOD and not just, like, letting me win!” Maisy walks closer to the bed, “Tell me you are not, like, using it. Tell me now!” Maisy demandingly orders.
My mouth is dry. I try to gulp, but I can’t. I cannot speak. Fear has got me in a tighter grip than Linkin did earlier. It is okay, though, because Maisy is not finished talking. Silence? Where are you, my dear friend?
“I know that you have been campaigning to keep, Casey,” Maisy snares, “Not on my watch!”
I panick. Did Maisy hear about the hammock meeting? But, how? My brain-damaged brain is swimming.
I lick my lips, open my mouth and, to my surprise, something comes out! “I, uh, have not been campaigning to keep Casey. I swear on my, uh, best friend Raul’s, heart.” I don’t know a Raul. “And, er… on my dog.” I don’t have a dog.
“Then, why were you and Perverstein all huddled up with her on the hammock earlier?” Maisy shoots a couple of arsenic dipped daggers at me with her eyes. I wince. She knows!
I giggle and spew forth a random array of words, “Casey, er… She just wanted to know why I had her, erm… Up the block. Like, and you know. And, I just let her know it wasn’t, you know… And, because…” My arms flail about and land in a shrug. I giggle again.
Maisy narrows her dagger shooters at me and studies my face. What is she looking for? Signs of deception? Is this what an interrogation feels like? Suddenly, false confessions make all the sense in the world to me.
Maisy continues to stare. I fight to keep my facial expression blank, but my eyes have other plans; they dart from side to side, from Bill, to Kale, to Bill, to Kale, to Bill again. Don’t look at Maisy, don’t look at Maisy, just DON’T look at Maisy!
“LOOK AT ME!” Maisy demandingly demands.
I look at her. Geesh. She is so demanding.
Maisy leans forward to hover over the bed; she drops her hands down and braces herself against them. Her face is now inches from mine. I fight the urge to lean forward and bite her nose off. Someone is getting bit tonight, if I have anything do with it! My mouth waters. Either that, or stilettos to the dagger shooters! I would die happy either way.
Maisy snarls, “You know what I want to hear,” she whispers to me with a coy smile. Forget Little Big Play Cousin, this bitch thinks we are the set of As All My Children of the World Turns!
“I will not use the VOD.,” I pushed through my clenched teeth.
Oh, I will be using the Veto of Doom, alright. And, I am going to use it hard.
“Welcome to the first Veto of Doom Ceremony,” I say sternly. I stand, in front of all of my fellow competitors, with a grim look on my face. I had managed to pull my tightly coiled hair back into as neat of a ponytail as I could muster; the Veto of Doom Crown rests on top. I am also sporting black-rimmed glasses that I am almost sure makes me look somewhat more intelligent than I actually am. With my brain-damaged brain, and hits after hits to the noggin, every little bit helps. I need everyone to know that today, I mean business!
“Bill, Casey, as the holder of the Veto of Doom Crown, I may bestow upon one of you immunity from the Little Big Play Cousin Gallows this week. Can each of you tell me why I should grant you the Veto of Doom Crown starting with you, Bill?”
So far things are going much better than the nomination ceremony. Maybe, I am getting the hang of this!
Bill stands up and clears his throat. “You already know what to do, so do it” he says and sits back down.
I glare, stopping myself mid-eye roll I look at Casey. “And, you, Casey?”
Casey stands up, fire in her eyes. Uh oh. “Listen,” she starts, “I really do not know why you put me on the block in the first place. Everyone knows how hard it is for girls to get ahead in this game and you, a supposed woman, decided to put me up on the block the first week against a guy that everyone in the house loves! I mean, this is 2015! Why are we women still one another’s biggest enemies?”
Casey was pointing her finger at me through the fiery glares but, suddenly, she winks. Is she just putting on a show, or what? I am so confused, now! And, my heart will not stop thudding about in my chest. If I had pearls, I would be clutching them. She is ruining everything!
“There is a cold place in hell for women who do not support other women!” Casey finishes with a flare. She turns on her heels and sits down.
Huh? Wouldn’t a cold place in hell be a good thing?
Last night, I had been so sure of what I would do today, but thanks to Casey, I now look like a traitor to vaginas the world over! How can I properly blow up my alliance with Maisy & Co., and get her up on the block, without looking like a Vaginal Defector… or whatever?
Momentarily forgetting myself, I slam myself in the forehead with the palm of my hand, knocking my crown askew. I grunt. Of course, laughter, from my fellow houseguests, follows.
“Oh my gawd, she is so fucking weird!” Of course, that’s Maisy.
I growl under my breath.
“Bro, you have to eat more,” Linkin whispers, not so covertly.
Fuck this shit!!!
I take the crown off of my head.
Maisy leans forward, her eyes lighting up.
“Casey, Bill, I thank you both for your impassioned pleas to remain the game.” I begin. “Casey you have made a great argument, thus I have decided that I will be bestowing the Veto of Doom Crown to you.”
I feel a flash of heat from Maisy’s direction. Oh, here go, hell comes. I ignore the fear clawing at my soul and continue. “Casey, please stand up and kneel before me on the Sacred Red Velvet Kneeling Platform of Redemption so that I may pass this powerful crown on to you.”
Casey does as she is told, beaming the whole way. My hands shake as I place the crown onto her head. “Please, now take a seat with the others,” I say, sweeping my arm stiffly to the left. “But take your time,” I say under my breath, as Casey gleefully bounces to an empty seat.
I gulp. Here comes the hard part. I get a little dizzy. “I will not fall, I will not fall, I will NOT fall!” I chant inwardly. I clear my throat.
“Now that I have bestowed the Veto of Doom Crown to Casey, as the Head Houseguest in Charge, I must now name a replacement.” I look over at Linkin. He looks back and gives me two enthusiastic thumbs up. “I am sorry Linkin,” Casey gasps, but I ignore her. I am getting good at this ignoring thing! I continue, “but I must name you as the replacement nominee. This is not personal, but what I feel is best for my game.” I nod, seriously.
Linkin does not budge. He remains seated, with a smile on his face.
I wait a few more seconds and say, “Linkin, please take your seat on the chopping block.”
Linkin laughs and says, “Bro!” Sitting back, he crosses his leg.
What the fuck? You cannot just ignore my orders. I am HHIC!!!
I look around for help. Everyone is just fucking watching… Like this is some kind of spectacle to be enjoyed with popcorn and a fucking soda, or something. This is not a movie, damnit!!! How does one dare to defy me??? OFF WITH HIS HEAD!
I whimper and sigh. What am I even doing, here??? I scan the room. My eyes land on a guy named Tim.
Tim is a nice guy from a small town down south, just like me. He is a quiet little red-headed bloke who sticks to himself, more often than not. A kind, gentle soul, Tim spends his spare time finding homes for abused and abandoned animals and he once even saved a little girl from drowning! He also makes sure to donate, like, buckets and buckets of his own blood to the Red Cross every month. To top off his list of saintliness, he offered me the last slice of bread for breakfast this morning. The most important thing to know about Tim, however, is that he is not in any of my alliances.
“Tim,” I say, slowly. He gasps and his face turns red, matching his hair. I wince. “I am SO sorry. I think… I think I must have gotten you confused with Linkin,” I say lamely.
Maisy snorts, but I have her on ignore, so…
“These glasses are new,” I say to Tim, even more lamely. “I-I am sorry, but I must name you as the replacement nominee. This is not personal, but what I feel is best for my game,” I finish off, the lamest of all.
Tim sits there confused. He does not budge.
Oh-fucking-great! I hope he is not thinking that he will just do what Linkin did and get out of this! I fume.
My fists are clenched at my hips. “GET UP, TIM!” I snap at him, more out of panic than anger.
The poor boy jumps up, startled. He zips over to the vacant seat on the block and sits down with a defeated thud.
Phew! I take a moment to compose myself. The relief I feel is nearing orgasmic. I smile.
“And this concludes the Veto of Doom Ceremony,” I bow and exit stage left.
“Bro, do you remember when Sherra pretended like she was going to put me on the block? That was wild, bro!” Linkin was asking Casey. Casey chuckles. She knows that I was not pretending, but there did not seem to be much point in letting Linkin in on that tidbit of information.
I sit on the floor, in my HHIC room, massaging my temples. It had only been like 28,000 seconds since I had “pretended” that I was going to put Linkin up on the chopping block, but I am coming to realize that Linkin has his own way of telling time. 28,000 seconds might as well be 28,000 weeks. Ugh.
A soft knock sounds against my door. I fall over on the floor and fight back the tears. “No, no, no, no, no,no!” I say under my breath. I am breaking.
“Come in, Bro!” You know who, yells.
The door opens slowly, and closes softly.
I do not want to know who it is. I do not want to know what they want. I just want to sink into the ground, never to have existed.
“Hi,” a soft male voice says.
I whimper. It is Tim.
“I do not mean to bother you, I just have a quick question.”
I ignore him. I am good at ignoring people, now, right?
“Hi, Sherra?” He says, after a few moments. “Can we talk?”
I cry silently and sit up. “Can’t you see I was playing dead?” I wanted to ask. But instead I said, “Sure!”
“Should we leave?” Casey wants to know.
“No way, Bro. We are all in this together!” Linkin, again.
Looking at Linkin, I shake my head, plastering a look on my face that I hope properly conveys the question, ‘What the fuck, bro???’
“Um, okay,” Tim says nervously. He takes a deep breath and straightens his shoulders. “I just wanted to know if I had done something wrong. You said that me leaving was best for your game, and I mean… How is that? I gave you the last slice of bread and everything.”
“I do not want you to leave, you are just… the pawn,” I say flatly; lamely. I mean, what does he expect me to say? I really do want Bill to leave, it will cut into Wicked Maisy’s numbers, but the odds of that are pretty slim at this point. I sigh.
Tim points at Linkin, “but you had nominated him, first, why did you change it? I mean, I do not think we look very much alike, even with your glasses off.” Tim stands meekly at the door, his shoulders are slumped, now, and his feet are pressed closely together. He is even trembling slightly; probably not unlike a rescued puppy when it first arrives at his animal shelter. Oh geez, I am SO going to hell for this! Before I can say anything, Tim asks, “May I please sit down, Miss Sherra? My right leg has never been the same since I had to jump out of that burning tree that I rescued that pregnant cat from.” Yup, hell-bound, ‘tis I!
I nod, meekly.
Tim takes a seat on the couch.
“Listen, bro.” Linkin says. “It is nothing personal. I was NEVER going up on that block!” He stops and looks over at me, then at Casey; he gives us each a nod as if we had just silently agreed to something. This cannot be good. Before I can stop him, he says, “You should totally join our alliance bro, we will keep you safe, here in the fold of the alliance of the Soldiers of Fortitude.”
Tim brightens up, “Really? You guys can keep me safe, even though I am on the block, now?”
“Sure, we can! And, we can use a guy like you in our army, Tim. Welcome!” Casey says.
I, sit, frozen. What is life?
This is not real. It is not real. This, what is happening right now, is not really happening.
What is really happening is that I am in a coma in the hospital back in Lula, Ga. My family and friends have gathered around to say their last goodbyes, and I am just waiting for my great granny from Texas to make her way to the hospital to say goodbye to her favorite great granddaughter; and then I will ascend to the heavens where there are lots of clouds, baby alpacas and guys who look like Daniel Sunjata awaiting me, there to answer to my every beck and call as I eat sushi every night and have mind blowing sex every morning. That is what is real. That is what is true. That is what is happening. That is life.
I smile and nod; at peace with the universe; Zen is real. “Yes, welcome to our alliance, Tim. I am sure you will make a great soldier.”
Maisy storms out of the Journal Room with her golden mane flapping in the wind the way that a supermodel’s hair bounces as she stomps down a catwalk. She does not look like a supermodel, though. She looks much more like a rabid hyena thirsting for her next big, bloody kill; and I mean not to get in her way.
I turn to go in the opposite direction but my getaway is thwarted by Linkin; our bodies collide. I am learning that no matter where I go, Linkin will not be too far behind; quite literally. I resist the urge to sock him in the gut and glare, ineffectively, instead.
“Woah, bro! Is that smoke coming out of Maisy’s ears?” He wants to know.
Well, shit, how am I to know that without looking? I turn back around to find Maisy pacing back in forth in the living area. Her thigh-length, pleated, hot pink skirt swishes, side to side, as she turns on her heels to retrace her previous steps. Yup, that’s smoke alright. Most likely, it is emanating off of the self-containing sulfur that burns from the deep, dark pit where her soul should be.
“Yo….” Linkin says and then pauses a second to think; a surefire sign that he was about to say something that he probably should not. He cocks his head to the side, quizzically. “Has your CIHS flared up, bro?” he says loud enough for Maisy to hear. “Those ingrown hairs are a real bitch, bro,” he winces, remembering the last time he called Maisy ‘Bro’ “I mean ‘sis!’”
Sigh. I hate when I am right.
Maisy had stopped dead in her tracks. She whips her head around to look the foolish boy square in the face. Her blue eyes had been set to ‘Furious.’ The boyish imbecile yelps and wraps his right arm around my waist, pulling me close enough to feel his heart pounding against my back. “Can she still see me?” he asks, whispering in my ear.
Is he serious?
“I am not an invisibility shield, you freaking mor-,” I start off, yanking myself out of his grip, but Maisy interrupts me, in typical Maisy fashion; she starts to scream.
I press my lips together and shake my head once. I cannot take this, today. I refuse to take this! I only have one more day in my HHIC room, before our first eviction tomorrow night, and I will not entertain this drama queen’s shenanigans for one more second! I tear myself away from a trembling Linkin who had, once again, grabbed me in another futile attempt to hide.
I turn to ascend the staircase to my sanctuary just as Maisy falls to the floor, short skirt and all, and kicks off a full blown tantrum. I am getting the fuck out of here.
As I flee, houseguests stream in from every corner of the compound to see what on earth had just happened. Personally, I do not give rat’s patootie what had set this off. I know that it could not be nearly as earth shattering as this spectacle suggests. I stick my nose up in the air and continue to my trek up the winding staircase as Maisy’s Minions fawn all over her.
“Ohmygawd, Maisy! What’s wrong?” Judy wants to know, her voice stricken with sheer terror and panic. She must not realize that she is no longer in our alliance. I shrug, mentally.
“Maisy!” Kale yells, fright clinging to his every word, “What happened? Please, tell us!” He had ran to Maisy’s side and fallen to the floor behind her head. “Someone help me! Get her feet!” I look down just long enough to see Kale dragging Maisy up by the arms as Bill grabs at her flailing legs. Securing her in their hands, they prop her up on the sofa where she sprawls out, on her back, and wails some more. She covers her face, “It’s not fair!” she shrieks through sobs. “I cannot live like this!”
“What’s not fair, honey? Tell Bill, I will make it all better!” Bill pauses, and then adds, “PLEASE, Maisy! Stop crying… Or, I will start to cry, too!”
Huh? I cannot, even!
I reach the top of the staircase and take the few remaining steps to the HHIC door. I enter and shut the door, thus shutting out the commotion below. Yes!
My nice, quiet, perfect Head Houseguest in Charge room; it is all mine; mine, mine, mine! Well, at least for another 24 hours. I can finally make the best of all that the HHIC room has to offer because, as of right here and now, there is no one up my ass asking me for a single, solitary thing!
The nomination and renomination ceremonies? Over.
All of my snacks? Gone.
The HHIC bathroom? Filthy!
I no longer have anything that anyone wants; and it feels awesome!
I go to the middle of the room and sit down on the floor, crisscrossing my legs. I place the back of my hands on my knees, with my middle fingers and thumbs pressed together; you know, like the Buddhas do it!
I close my eyes and let my body relax. I am going find this Zen place if it kills me!
If only I had some candles! That would really set the mood. I mean, they would not have to be the real deal, or anything. Even if they were just some of those nifty flameless candles, it would be perfect. I am going to add that to my Wish List just in case I accidentally win HHIC again.
Now what? I wonder.
“Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,” I say softly, copying from Tina Turner in that ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It’ movie. I have no clue what it means, but it seems to have done the trick for her and I need all of the help that I can get if I am going to survive another day in this madhouse.
“Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,” I say again, and again and again, more loudly as I go.
“Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.”
“Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.”
“Namu Myoho Renge Kyo.”
I think it is working! I am getting a vision! Is that supposed to happen?
In this vision, I can see what can only be described as Paradise on Earth! All around me, there are beautiful things being enjoyed by beautiful people who are eating beautiful food and drinking beautiful drinks! There are white sandy beaches sprawled out for as far as the eye can see. The ocean is the bluest blue I have ever seen and the skies, where the ocean meets the horizon, are a luscious gold mingled with dazzling purples and seductive fuchsias!
To top it off, right smack-dab in the middle of the beach is the most glorious bonfire I ever did lay my eyes on! It lights up the sky like a gazillion fully charged fireflies on a mission to make this the most stunning hallucination vision I have ever experienced! And, look! There is something in the middle of the bonfire. It’s a large, maple tree! Huh? That makes no sense. My eyes travel the length of the tree until they reach its leafy top. There is someone in the tree; he is cradling something in his arms! Who is it?
I focus…. It’s Tim! Wha? But, why?
Tim lifts up his arms, presenting the object to me Simba-Style. He says, “It’s a puppy this time! Can you help me get down from here? There is a lot more fire than before, and I need to find a home for this little guy.” He smiles and hugs the puppy to his chest.
“Huh?” This can’t be right. I look around and paradise slowly starts to fade away. No, come back!
The sky is now a cold, ugly gray. The beautiful things, people, food and drinks have been replaced by clumps of wet sand and broken seashells… and the ocean is now running red with the blood of a gazillion fireflies. But the burning tree, puppy, and Tim? All still here.
“How are you asleep?” he asks.
I feel a wash towel slap against my face and my eyes pop open. The bright lights of the HHIC room invade my corneas. Nooo!
After my eyes adjust enough, I see that I am no longer alone in my sanctuary; the walls have been breached and Casey, Maura and Meagan are all standing in front of me, staring down at me like I am some kind of alien, or something.
Wait, was I just assaulted? I look down at everyone’s hands and realize that Casey is the culprit. “How were you asleep, sitting there like that?” she wants to know.
My eyes turn to slits. “I was visioning before you guys interrupted me!” I say in hopes of coming off as extremely pissed off.
The trio laughed.
My eyes get slittier!
“You were what?” Maura wants to know. She is smirking.
I am containing a silent growl within the walls of my belly. “OK, ‘visioning’ may not be what it is called, bitch, but… fuck you AND fuck that smirk!” Oh, the things that I wish I had the lady ‘nads to say! I force a smile, “How can I help you ladies?” I ask instead.
“Oh my god, you will never believe what Maisy is going on and on about down there. We had to escape.” Meagan says.
So go escape to your own fucking sanctuaries!
I say nothing and a few beats pass.
“Don’t you want to know what it was about?”
I don’t. “…Sure.”
“Sham-fucking-poo!” Maura says with a snorting laugh.
Right. “Shampoo?” I muster up enough energy to inquire.
Casey answers, this time. “Apparently she uses, like, this super expensive bottle of shampoo that she has to import from some village in Spain, or something. She says that ALL of her hair will fall out if she has to use the cheap shit they gave us; on account of some medical condition she claims to have. As if we do not all know that is a fricking weave! She was in J.R. arguing with those poor people for over an hour – ABOUT SHAMPOO!”
I blink. “Unbelievable,” I say flatly.
“Yea,” Casey laughs. “You SO should have put her up on the block as a replacement this week!” The other two laugh with her. “Backdoor her ass!”
I grit my teeth so hard that I nearly bite the tip of my tongue off. I relax my jaw just enough to speak. “What would Madeleine Albright have said to that?” I ask trying to be as nonchalant as possible given that the devil on my right shoulder was starting to win out over the angel on the left one; and the devil wants blood!
“Who?” Casey asks.
I smack myself in the head, but only mentally this time. I am learning! “The uh, ‘cold place in hell,’ comment?” I remind her.
“Ooooooh, you mean Taylor Swift!” Casey laughs, again.
I just stare at her.
“Who is Madeleine Albright? Is she new?”Maura wants to know. “I totes like her name! It sounds so old Hollywood, glam! Does she do, like, retro-like music?”
I slowly divert my eyes from Casey to Maura, so that I could stare silently at her, now.
As I study her clueless face, I suddenly have an epiphany! Closing my eyes, I start chanting softly, “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo!”
I have this all figured out, you see. Clearly, I am still visioning. If I simply redo the chants, I can break out of my current vision! It all makes perfect sense, now! “Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,” I say a few more times. When I finally open my eyes again, the trio had disappeared from my line of sight. It worked!
“Are you done?” I hear from behind me. It is Maura! I turn around to find the trio lounging on my bed. Casey was wearing the headphones; my headphones!
My shoulders slump, in defeat.
“Yea,” Meagan speaks up, “because we want to talk to you about a final four deal before it is too late.”