Enduring and Survivingby Bookguy
"Terrance Butler," it says at the top of my resume, but I always go by Terry.
I couldn't have been more excited. I got my first big break as a cameraman - working on a new reality show. From what the assistant producer who had interviewed me had said, it was a reality show for kids, and this season it was boys only. The boys would have different kinds of contests and then somehow, one of them would be kicked off every three days.
When I arrived at the island for the beginning of crew orientation, I was impressed. The set builders had been there for weeks and had set up a "Lord of the Flies" meets "Gilligan's Island" sort of set up. There was one big hut for the kids that were to be filmed while the crew would be staying on the other side of the island.
Some of the stunt coordinators were working on practicing some of the challenges that the boys would be put through later in the competition while wardrobe was putting away the boys' clothes. Each one of the boys would wear only one color and they had even matched each boy's color to the first letter of their first name.
The host, some grown up kid from a sitcom in the 90's,
wouldn't arrive until later on today and the boys would be
arriving tomorrow. Since I was low man on the totem pole,
I was kind of back up second unit cameraman and would only be
needed every so often, so I hadn't had to get there any earlier.
After dinner, the producer and host greeted everyone and went over a few last minute details. As I was heading out to my bunk, my supervisor called me over to where she and the producer were standing.
"Terry, this is Mr. Molloy," said Samantha. I shook hands with whom I knew was my boss's boss's boss's boss.
"Terry, a pleasure. I'm sure the boys will appreciate having a younger man around. I like to have at least one person near their age on crew. Sometimes it helps with the communication and just makes for a better atmosphere overall for the boys."
Well, if 9 years was close - the boys were all just over, right on, or just under 13. I was 22, but looking around, I could see that most of the crew was well into their 30's. In fact the only other people even close to my age were the host who had disappeared already, and a couple of the grips.
"Terry," Mr Malloy went on, "I was wondering if you'd like to help us out with a special project." Wow! On my first day! What an honor!
"Of course, sir," I answered, hopefully hitting the right tone of eager to help, but not overly fawning.
"Well, head to the tech tent at 9 tomorrow and see Dr. Rose," he said and walked off with Samantha. I could hear him say that she "had been right about me". Cool!
It took me a while to fall asleep and I hadn't even thought about asking what the project was. Too bad for me.
The next morning, I swam for about a half an hour, had some fruit for breakfast and headed to the Tech tent. The inside was like nothing I expected to see on a reality show or even on the set of a TV show. It was like an entire science department had been plunked down in the middle of the ocean.
Holding a clip board and checking over a monitor was Dr. Rose. He didn't look like a typical scientist - if I had had to guess, I would have said a coach or manager, he had that air about him.
"Ah, Terry. Just on time," Dr. Rose said, "Mr. Molloy told you about our special project?"
"Well, sir, he asked me if I'd participate, but he didn't elaborate," I answered truthfully.
"Well, let me fill you in," he said, "On these reality shows, there's a great deal of pressure for the camera people to be present, but invisible, so the competitiors will act naturally. Now this works up to a point, and those confessionals help, but we'd still like to get some more footage of the kids, you know, candid." I didn't know what he was asking me. He wanted me to film the boys when...
"You don't want me to..." I started.
"Oh, no. Nothing illegal or anything, just we'd like to see what they talk about when they think the cameras aren't on." Whew. I was about to quit on the spot if they were asking me to be part of some smut film.
"Go on," I said.
"We'd like to set you up in a special camera nest at the hut."
"But how would it be candid? Wouldn't they see the camera?"
"No," he said and picked up something off the table. In his hand was the smallest film camera I had ever seen. It couldn't have been more than 1/2 an inch.
"So you want me to wear it as some kind of hidden camera?," I asked.
"No, you'll operate it normally," Dr. Rose said.
"How?" I asked.
"You will be....sized appropriately for it." he said and injected me with something.
I held onto the site where I had been jabbed and started backing away. I only made about three steps before I fell.
When I came to, I saw that I was in a small square room. There was a cot and a dresser and a sink, refridgerator, chair and table. I got up, looking for the door. There was no way I was going to stay in this mad house, but try as I might, I could not find a door!
After a few minutes of banging on the walls, I was about to give up hope when I heard a noise and a panel on the wall slid open. I was about to cross over and look out when I saw what was out there and backed away.
Looking into my small room were two huge eyes.
"HI THERE," a loud voice said, "YOU'RE TERRY AREN'T YOU?" I nodded.
"I'M MARK, REMEMBER WE MET YESTERDAY." I did remember a Mark. He was one of the grips, the youngest of the crew, next to me, maybe 24 or so.
I nodded again. I wanted to scream, to get away from those huge eyes, becuase if they were real, then I was very, very small.
"R. ROSE WANTED ME TO TELL YOU THAT EVERYTHING WILL BE OK. TO TRY TO GET THOSE CANDID SHOTS THAT MR. MALLOY WANTS, HE CAME UP WITH A SHRINKING POTION. WE'RE GONNA PUT THIS CAMERA NEST OF YOURS IN THE CABIN SO YOU CAN GET THOSE SHOTS FOR US."
He what! They're going to what! I'm going to have to be in the same room with 10 adolescent boys at 3 inches tall.
"Mark!" I screamed, "You've got to get me out of here." I assumed Mark smiled when I saw the edges of his eyes crease.
"It'll be fine," he said as his eyes retreated. "I'm going to install this now. The camera's already in there and you've got food and water to last you the whole month." Was this whole company crazy? You couldn't shrink someone against their will.
I was about to yell back to Mark when the whole room shook as Mark picked it up. I had a very weird view as Mark carried my room through the camp. I saw lots of people, none of whom reacted at all to this. They had probably all been told and thought it was a great idea. Well if they thought I'd do what they said, they had another thing coming.
When we reached the boys' hut, Mark stood on one of the bunks. My room was going to be put about 7' off the ground. It did have a pretty good view of the entire space - all five bunk beds, an area with some chairs.
Mark's huge eyes came back. "GOOD LUCK," he said and walked away before I could again plead with him to release me. He slid the panel back before leaving and I saw light coming through three openings. They had a weird kind of material on them which didn't impede my view, but probably couldn't be seen from the other side.
I sat and pouted for another hour until I heard voices. Young voices. And then they were here.
Ten thirteen year olds entered the cabin, full of life and energy and looking so huge I thought I'd wet myself. One of them had the top bunk nearest to my room and I had a much closer view than I'd like as he climbed up into his bunk and called down to the others. Right in front of my room I saw a huge hand and realized how small I really was.
to be continued