Ybella’s death hit everyone like a tonne of bricks, but not quite like that because then they would all be dead and the show would be over.
Banji in particular was heartbroken. After all the doors were unlocked, he went into her hut to pay his respects.
“Oh, Ybella!” he cried. “I can still smell your perfume!”
Unfortunately, he was an idiot and had wandered into Porge’s hut by mistake.
Others were not in mourning for long.
“Eh, we didn’t know her that well anyway,” said Squonky to Toto. “How’s about you and me go get a drink?”
There was not exactly a ready supply of alcohol on the premises, because even the creep in charge of this had some boundaries. There was, however, a newly delivered pizza getting cold on the table.
“Did somebody order a pizza?” said Toto. When no one owned up, she exclaimed: “Finders keepers!”
“I’m not sure I would eat that if I were you,” said Zerflumpagus. “Think about it. That mysterious voice just made us compete in a cook-off that killed Ybella, and they didn’t seem too upset about it. For all we know, they were the one who put the pizza here. The crust is probably laced with arsenic.”
“Oh, give it a rest and have some pizza!” said Banji, who must have cried away his grief.
“Except don’t,” said Toto, “as it’s mine.”
Soon, the unwilling roomies ran into another problem.
“Alright there, Porge?” Melba inquired.
“I have t’pee,” he whined, “but the bathroom has glass walls, too!”
Indeed it did. To make matters worse, there was only one to share between eight— sorry, seven people. The whole thing made everyone very confused.
“Go ahead, man, I won’t look,” said Banji.
“Get out,” said Lunk.
They were so caught up in their squabble that they didn’t even notice Toto spying through the wall.
Until she decided to make her presence very loudly known.
“Helloooo, boys!” she called.
Squonky slept peacefully through the whole affair. He also slept peacefully while a hooded figure sneaked in and shaved his head.
It was no wonder Porge was wary about emptying his bladder.
“You can do it,” said Melba. “I believe in you.”
Unfortunately, he read into this a little too much.
“I believe in you too,” said Porge in his most sultry voice. “I believe in you and me, baby.”
“Oh, god,” said Melba. “Why are all guys the same?”
“You’re a pig,” she told him. “I hope you pee your pants.” And she stormed off to pop a squat in the bushes.
Zerflumpagus was starving, but she still didn’t trust the pizza. Granted, Toto had eaten six whole pieces before announcing “You boys can have the rest, I’m watching my waistline.” But what if the poison’s effects were delayed?
“And what if Toto is still getting by on bitch’s luck?” she wondered.
It was a valid point. The world loves handing good things to bad people.
However, it was possible Toto wasn’t the bitch she made herself out to be. Late that night, she slipped into the bathroom to mourn Ybella in private…
…sadly forgetting that the bathroom was not private at all.
The next morning, Zerflumpagus was the first to rise. In fact, she hadn’t slept at all. Banji found her standing on the spot where Ybella’s hut had been. The whole site had been bulldozed overnight, but Ybella’s ashes remained.
“Are you okay?” asked Banji.
“Not really,” said Zerflumpagus. “It’s so messed up, you know? Yesterday she was walking around, and now she’s just a lump on the ground. Plus, I forgot my pyjamas at home.”
“Most of us did,” said Banji.
“We should lay her to rest properly,” he suggested. “Let’s do it together.”
“Thanks, Banji,” said Zerflumpagus. “You might just be the only decent person here.”
Unbeknownst to Zerflumpagus, Banji went to dispose of the ashes in a trash can. When he couldn’t find one, he just dropped Ybella on the ground, where she turned into a pile of twigs and leaves. This is probably what she would have wanted, he thought solemnly to himself.
The trick to glass houses is that outsiders can see in, but insiders can also see out. That’s not a proverb, but it should be.
“Guys, look!” said Squonky. “Banji and Zerflumpagus are outside consorting in their underwear!”
“They totally are!” said Toto. She was actually looking the wrong way, but she wanted desperately to get close to Squonky. (Who, by the way, still hadn’t noticed his haircut.)
Porge volunteered himself to go investigate.
“Having fun, you two?” he said suggestively, but he was quickly distracted. “SWIMMING POOL!” he exclaimed with glee.
Melba came tearing out the door. “Did somebody say ‘swimming pool’?”
“Oh dear,” said Porge, hiding his face. “I can’t face her. Not after yesterday.”
It had begun to rain. Some contestants were none too pleased, but Zerflumpagus was feeling much better and decided to embrace the day of watery fun.
“Well, I won’t interrupt your little lovebirds’ water fight,” said Toto, even though she was doing just that.
After a while, once they were all good and soaked from the rain, the gang decided to take the plunge. Zerflumpagus had a brief moment of worry, wondering if this was another elaborate setup.
As per usual, no one else seemed concerned.
“COWABUNGA!” said Banji.
Even Zerflumpagus had to admit there wasn’t much that could go wrong here. She’d had an aunt who’d drowned, but that was in a time when ladders dissolved in chlorine and no one knew how to climb out without one.
She was a little concerned when Porge’s diving board started creaking and groaning.
“Careful!” she told him. “It might break!”
But he surprised them all by executing a perfect pike triple backflip.
Zerflumpagus was so shocked that she flopped inelegantly, face first, into the water.
“Wait a second,” she said once she’d recovered. “Where did the diving boards go? …And how did we get fenced in?”
Once again, this was where having an aerial view might’ve helped.
“Nobody panic,” said Banji. “I’ll bet there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation.
OH, THERE IS! said the loudspeaker. BY NOW YOU WILL HAVE NOTICED THAT YOU ARE IN A LARGE POOL. SWIM, MY TASTY TUNAFISH! SWIM YOUR LITTLE HEARTS OUT! GOOD RIDDANCE, AND I WILL SEE YOU ON THE SIX…
“Why didn’t you warn us?” said Lunk as he angrily splashed water in Zerflumpagus’ face.
Zerflumpagus said nothing. She was speechless at the stupidity of her peers.
Meanwhile, nobody had any concern for poor, hydrophobic Squonky. While the situation was distressing for everyone, this was literally the worst day of Squonky’s life. He’d only gotten into the pool because he’d tripped while trying to outrun the rain.
“So this is how I die,” he said.
He couldn’t believe that others were actually playing games in this deadly basin of darkness. Toto and Melba were having a breath competition as if conserving oxygen were a thing of the past.
So were Banji and Porge, though some suspected theirs was a thinly-veiled game of underwater footsies.
“Shit, we’ve been discovered!” said Porge. “Act normal, act normal!”
“I feel great!” said Toto. “Who wants to take on the champ!”
“Not I,” said Squonky, who would never dream of putting his head underwater.
However, Toto managed to coerce him with things we cannot speak about on daytime television.
He lost, naturally. He also vowed to become celibate if this was what it took to get some.
One minute, Zerflumpagus was in the pool, wishing she were somewhere far away. The next minute, she WAS somewhere far away… or far enough.
“Am I a wizard?” she gasped as she popped out of the tiles onto her feet. She felt quite giddy and half expected Hagrid to come knocking down the front door.
Meanwhile, Toto was finding plenty of new opponents for her breath-holding game. Everyone was a little fatigued by now, but it was good fun.
“I’m not sure we should keep doing this,” said Banji. “It doesn’t look like we’re getting out of here anytime soon. We should probably just tread water for a while.”
“You’re only saying that because you lost,” said Toto.
In fact, she was pretty tired herself — but she wasn’t about to admit it.
Squonky was even closer to going under.
And it was Melba, once again, who seemed most likely to perish.
That was until Banji began struggling to keep his head up.
“Everyone stay calm,” he said. “I’m fine. There is nothing to worry about.”
But there was. There definitely was.
Melba, seconds away from drowning herself, heard Banji’s last air bubbles break the surface.
“Did something just happen behind me?” said said.
“How observant,” said the Grim Reaper, who’d just materialized on the middle platform. “But not really, because your friend just died behind you and you probably can’t even tell me his name.”
“Wasn’t it Ralph?” said Melba.
“No,” said Grim.
Banji’s ghost floated up from the depths. “It’s okay, guys,” he said. “Names are hard to remember.”
A few moments later, he was gone.
“Nice work, guys! We made it through another one!” said Toto. “And I think we can assume I won again, since I held my breath better than all of you.”
Actually Zerflumpagus was getting a phone call right that moment that suggested otherwise.
ZERFLUMPAGUS, I HAVE TO CONGRATULATE YOU, said the person on the line. I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU DID WHAT YOU DID, BUT I HAVE TO NAME YOU THE WINNER OF THIS CHALLENGE.
“Thank you,” said Zerflumpagus. “Have a nice day.”
“A nice day” seemed a little out of reach at present.
At last, the other contestants were let out of the pool. Zerflumpagus asked Lunk how the rest of their swim had gone.
“Yeah, Banji died,” he said casually. “What, weren’t you there?”
“Banji?” Zerflumpagus couldn’t believe her ears. It seemed like just this morning they’d been throwing water balloons at each other. Probably because it WAS this morning.
“So that’s who called me earlier,” she said. “That numskull from the loudspeaker.” Apparently, she’d been too high on her alleged magical powers to realize this before.
“No one had better be flirting with my man,” said Toto loudly to no one in particular.
Melba had had enough. “Jesus, woman, you can’t lay claim on all the guys! Leave some for the rest of us, would you? They’re dying like flies around here.”
“Speaking of flies, look out!” Squonky pointed in alarm at Toto’s plate of turkey. “You’re eating rotten food! You could get botulism!””
“A little botulism never killed anyone,” said Toto. Actually, it had.
Even so, the contestants were starving and the day-old buffet was their only source of food. Soon, they were all digging into stinky meat and bluish potatoes.
“Better we all die like this than in the next violent activity, am I right?” said Melba. Clearly the words of someone who had never had botulism.
They were getting up for seconds when all of a sudden, the room turned eerily red.
GREETINGS, VEGETABLES. TONIGHT, WE MOURN THE LOSS OF ANOTHER COMPETITOR: BANJI KAPALAPALAS TOOK HIS FINAL BREATH AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SWIMMING POOL. IT WAS A BREATH OF WATER, IN CASE THAT WASN’T CLEAR. WE ALSO MOURN THE PIZZA DELIVERY GUY WHO DIED EN ROUTE TO YOUR ABODE. DON’T EAT THE BUFFET FOOD; IT MIGHT KILL YOU. REST UP, AND I’LL SEE YOU ON THE SIX…
“Boo, you suck!” said Lunk. “I hope you die, loudspeaker person!”
DITTO, said the loudspeaker.
With two gravestones on the checkerboard, things weren’t looking good for the six inhabitants of the glass house. But they were, hopefully, starting to catch on to the rules of this cruel game. Maybe tomorrow, they wouldn’t be outsmarted so easily…