Abyss Island: S1E12 – A Good Day To Cry Hard
And so it comes down to this. Day 36 and only three days to go. I figured my next challenge was going to be for a brand new car! Okay, so I was only slightly off on that score.
With the end of the tunnel now in sight, Survivors have to remain cognizant that challenge difficulty is going to be ramped up. This is where the best of the best truly shine and the people like me go home empty handed.
Tree mail, like always, sounded the just right ominous tone:
At first you won’t be able to see
You won’t think it’s fair, but it is to me
Next you will find it puzzling to see
But the picture will be clear to me
Get it together for all to see
If you lose you will have to submit to me
Oh, great. A blindfold challenge and a puzzle. All the best elements of Survivor. Not. This does not bode well for me. Am I mistaken or does the word “submit” ring out just like the creep duh-duh music from the movie Jaws?
To top it off my wife spent all day taunting me. “Are you practicing, Tom? Big challenge tonight.” Practicing what? Being blindfolded? And how does one practice for a freaking puzzle, smart ass?
First, a quick fishing update. I caught three oysters, or as I described them, smelly rocks. Opening them turned out to be quite the chore. Early in this experience I learned to open a coconut with a hammer. I also cooked the first lobster tail of my life. Then cutting my own fish fillets and breaking down a pineapple. Now this. Oysters in the shell. After much swearing I finally carefully got out the precious meat inside. A little salt, pepper, fresh garlic and hot sauce, then under the broiler they went. They were, I’m not kidding, probably the most delicious oysters of my entire life. My belly sated, I turned my mind to other pressing matters.
Around my neck hung the hidden immunity idol I had so recently discovered. Theoretically tonight would be my last chance to play the idol. The official rules stated it could not be played on Day 39 at the final tribal council. So I should have been feeling pretty smug and secure. But this is my wife we’re talking about. She’s been gunning for me for some time now and who knew what kind of curve ball would be coming my way?
I walked into the challenge area with my orange “Outback” Survivor buff coiled around my wrist, the hidden immunity idol hanging around my neck, and I was carrying the ZeitGuru tribe flag and the immunity idol, which she promptly snatched out of my hands. “Once again,” she announced, “immunity is back up for grabs!”
She explained the challenge: Around the dining room table were three chairs. Tied to each chair was a bag of the most oft-heard phrase in Survivor history: “puzzle pieces.” Curse you, Jeff Probst! With five minutes and thirty seconds on the clock, while blindfolded, I would have to make my way from the kitchen to the table, untie the knots and retrieve one bag at a time. Once all three bags were retrieved I could remove the blindfold, open the bags and solve the puzzle.
I was not shown the completed puzzle but I was handed a sample piece to study. My wife stated wisely, “You should have more than enough time to complete this challenge.” Yeah, right. “If you win you get to keep the immunity idol. If you lose I get to dole out your demise and your torch will be snuffed.”
With that it was go time. I quickly found the first bag and went to work on the knots. Damn, this was hard and slow going. The time ticket away as I struggled to get that bag. Finally, I made it back, dropped of the bag and was out looking for bag #2.
I carefully felt my way out to where my brain remembered the chair should be. It wasn’t there. What the hell? I had failed to notice that my wife had subtlety repositioned only three chairs around the table so they were not in their standard positions.
Holy hell! I just lost a toe. Damn, that hurt! I found the second bag and got the knots untied a little bit quicker, but it still took too long. Then I was back out for the third and final bag. By the time I got back with that last bag I had already consumed 2-1/2 minutes from the clock. There were only three minutes remaining.
Each bag had been screwed with so they wouldn’t easily open. You had to mess with the drawstrings first. More time lost. Finally I had all the puzzle pieces out and turned right-side up. There was only 90 seconds left.
This was when I uttered this season’s trademark catch phrase. “This is bullshit.” I knew the challenge was already over but I still gave it my best shot. To go through the act of failing when it has already been predetermined is my unique destiny.
The puzzle was a 5×5 grid of puzzle pieces just like the sample I had been shown. 25 pieces of which I was able to complete 18 by the time the clock ran out. There would be no photofinish this time.
Lamely I spent 15 more minutes with the pressure off trying to complete the damn thing. Fail. Finally I gave up in disgust.
With a little too much glee my wife was only too happy to point out the flaw in my efforts. Four pieces were each labeled: Shouts, from, the, Abyss. In my haste I had put the four pieces in a row forming the phrase “Shouts from the Abyss.” But they actually went on the four corners of the design. Once I had assumed the wrong order, the challenge had been lost with no hope of recovery.
My wife told me to grab my torch and get fire which represented my life in the game. This was my first tribal council. I wasn’t exactly sure what was about to go down. I was about to live the ritual of tribal council.
My wife sat me down in a small chair and produced the voting urn and the snuffer. Taking a piece of parchment, she cast her vote, folded it in half, and placed it in the urn. “I’ll go tally the votes,” she said.
“If anyone has the hidden immunity idol and you want to play it, now’s the time to do so.”
Coyly I glanced left. Coyly I glanced to the right. I paused just the right amount of time for dramatic effect. Then I stood up. I was delighted to see I had surprised and shocked the rest of my tribe. “I do,” I said, pulling the thing over my head and handing it to my wife.
“This is a hidden immunity idol. Any votes cast for Tom will not count.”
“I’ll read the votes.”
She reached into the urn, unfolded the parchment, turned it to face me and said, “One hour of chores.”
“Tom, bring me your torch.”
“But I played the …”
“Shut up. This is my game.” Then she snuffed me out! Abyss Island does vary in some ways from the real thing. She was not to be denied the symbolism of this act.
“You can go back to camp.”
That’s it until next time. This Tuesday, on the 39th day of Abyss Island, Tom will face his final challenge and final tribal council. Will a crab pinch his toe? Can Tom eat an entire stick of butter in a single bite? Will he be successful in his quest to, what the hell is the point of this again? Will his wife exact her final revenge or will Tom emerge naked and victorious? Will there be any bacon? These and hopefully other mysteries will soon be revealed.