Thursday, February 4, 2016

Reality Show Switch Up (Fiction)

Here's a little story to highlight the idea of being united.

Reality Show Switch Up

Fred, Susan, Laurel, Alan, and David were all dealing with sweaty palms as the cameras started to roll on “Find That Treasure,” a popular reality show by live stream which pitted five contestants against each other in a competition to find a hidden treasure of $500,000.
The host explained that each would be given a clue and that the first one to bring the gilt box containing it back to the studio would claim the prize. And so the hunt began.

Fred was given a coded message, Susan was given a photo, Laurel was given a list, Alan was given a printout of an internet page, and David was given a set of keys labeled in German.

The contestants were to be filmed confronting their challenge over a month.  They would be housed in a dorm, filmed as they tackled the challenged and watched for rule violations. Each set out on his or her own and began the hunt.  Fred labored over deciphering the coded message; Susan tried to figure out the significance of her picture, while Laurel and Alan tried to make sense of their clues as well.  And David puzzled over the German labels.  But with contest rules prohibiting any research on the Internet (in fact, no internet nor cell phones were allowed them), they each got nowhere.  Days wore on and sometimes they even tried to sabotage each other’s efforts.  Laurel would blare her radio at Fred as he tried to break the code, And Alan almost got his hands on David’s keys, but David was too fast. Alan just got wrist-slapped.  Two days were left to complete the challenge and the contestants were beginning to see that the time had just been wasted.

Susan passed a message in secret on to each of the others:  “Tired of wasting time? Maybe if we can ditch the cameras, we could work together?  Anyone interested, meet me for coffee right after dinner.”

Susan sat after dinner and poured herself a cup of coffee and waited.  She was having doubts about them actually agreeing to work together, but one by one, each of the other competitors came to sit with her at the table.  The camera crew had to sleep sometime and the plan was whispered that they would then all take off to somewhere secluded and indeed, work together.

They knew that after evading cameras (not easy but possible), they would have to get past the motion detectors in the hallway outside their dorm.  Alan came up with the plan for them to crawl very, very slowly covered in bed sheets.  To their amazement, they were able to get out.
Finally out of the range of ears and cameras, Fred started.  “I have a coded message and just have not been able to decode it.” 

“Let me see that,” said Alan.  “I have a decent background in programming and coding.  Alan set to work and before long, had an answer. “It says the treasure will be found in Granville.”
Susan nodded. “Ok, that helps. At least we know the exact town now.  But this picture doesn’t help at all, does it? It’s just a picture of a tree!” 

“Tree?”  asked David. “Maybe I can help, being an amateur gardener.  It might tell us something.”  David recognized it as a type of tree which is not common, but that he thought might be found on some of the wealthier estates.

“That gets us a bit closer,” said Susan, “What do you have, Laurel?”

“A list,” she replied:  “Secretary of State; Secretary of the Treasury; Secretary of Defense; Attorney General; Secretary of the Interior.”  But beyond everyone agreeing these were all titles of U. S. Cabinet members, they were all stumped.

David broke the silence.  “What about your clue, Alan?”

“I just have a page from a cat website about Maine Coon cats.  And I’m not even a cat person!”

“Come on, guys,” interjected Laurel.  “I’m a real kitty lover and don’t you folks know old lady Redington - who lived in Granville - left her estate in trust for her cat ---- a Maine Coon.  When the feline died, the estate got turned into a museum!”

They all almost whooped, but were careful not to make much noise.

“Ok, but back to business”, David reminded them.  “We’re close, but not quite there yet.  What about these keys?  They’re labeled in German and I have no idea.”

“I think I can help with that,” said Fred. I’ve learned a bit of German through my business.”  Fred looked at the set of nearly identical keys and read the labels. “Well, one says first, another second, another third, another fourth, and another, fifth.”

“Now my clue is starting to make sense,” said Laurel.  There’s a cabinet on her porch; I’ve seen a picture of it.”

And David thought of something else. “That’s a partial list of Cabinet members in the line of presidential succession.  What if we have to open the locks in a certain order to get the treasure?”

“Great!” Susan exclaimed, “but how can we get to it without setting off an alarm?  We really need to get back to the dorm before the museum opens.”

Fred then noticed something on the other side of the key labeled with German for ‘first.’  “How about this – 3792?  I’ll bet it’s the code to access the alarm.”

At that they all decided to hurry over to the Redington museum, and rushed to find a cab.  Fortune was being kind, and there was an alarm box at the front gate and the code did give them access.  They trooped onto the porch and unlocked the cabinet, top down using the keys in labeled order and in the bottom draw found a guilt box they had been seeking.  They rushed back to the dorm and unceremoniously woke up the camera crew, who were not amused at being told they needed to follow the group to the studio ASAP.

The groggy host and producers were aghast to find them all bearing the treasure box, and telling the story of how they cooperated.  The contestants added that they hoped they could indeed split the treasure.  “After all, we all worked together and that should count for something, shouldn’t it?”

The producers started in that they were disqualified and should have known better than violate any of the rules they’d agreed to.  But they had barely finished their diatribe when the phones and the show’s social media lit up.  Some were against the group sharing, but the vast majority said: “LET THEM SHARE!!!”  Sometimes overwhelming support can make a difference.  Each contestant ended up $100,000 richer.  And the producers were left both steaming and scratching their heads. 

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