This story was featured in the March edition of the Spark, Pine View’s middle school publication.
By Jiayi Zhu
This episode, six contestants are being nominated today to attempt survival in the frightening, deserted, bare… Westfield Mall. Yes, you heard that right. The mall we haven’t heard about since 2016 and the only reason for its presence in current days is because of the AMC and Costco. Scary, I know. On top of that, two contestants are eliminated each round as they must complete survival challenges. First, let’s introduce our contestants.
First up, mandarin teacher Margaret Higgins, who’s the OG of the OGs of Python Survivor, being a Pine View graduate herself. She’s planning to Tiktok dance her way to victory! Next, math teacher Stephen Folts. He’s one of the most famous people in the mall, as he runs a YouTube channel with a whopping 200 subscribers. He’s going to be switching up the content a little from baking to vlogging as he tries his best to survive. Most importantly, he has a dog named Higgins who he has brought along.
Speaking of animals, you could say our next contestant is a little bit of a “Crazy Cat Lady” (in a good way): Science teacher Hali Flahavan here loves cats, tea, minions, and science!
Our next contestant, science teacher Dylan Bell, is probably in a secret science cult with Flahavan (don’t take our word for that). In this competition, he hopes to escape his students who have been avidly stalking him on Instagram. For a little bit of much needed pop of color in the barren Westfield Mall, we have art teacher Haley Brown, who loves art and is honestly just happy to be here despite the dire circumstances
Next, science teacher David Yotsuda is someone who you’d want on your side. He takes his love for life science and applies it to inhaling food.
Now, on with the first challenge… Six contestants will enter. Only four will leave. The challenge?
We’ll start off easy. There are four major components of survival – shelter, water, fire, and food. But this is no typical survival environment.
However, there is one thing that any sane and functional person would need and want – food. Now, I know not all the contestants here today are sane and functional, but the camera crew is getting hungry. Let it begin!
The six contestants scatter out throughout the mall. Their options are limited, but no one said the food was good. Folts runs straight to the Auntie Anne’s, holding up his vlog camera as Higgins follows right behind him. Stale moldy pretzel secured! On the opposite side of the mall, the other Higgins raided the Dippin’ Dots machine. It was like three months expired but that’s impressive considering that the mall itself expired a year ago. Bell headed to the food court and grabbed about 20 boxes of chicken nuggets as Flahavan went to the AMC, acquiring 3 boxes of sour patch kids. Speaking of candy, Brown ransacked the candy shop. Yotsuda headed over to the conveyor belt sushi restaurant and picked up 50 pieces of sushi. Next, everybody had to meet up at the kid’s playground with the food. As everyone gradually got to their destination, Yotsuda was the only one not holding food in his hand.
“Wait, guys. Was I not supposed to eat the food? All the walking made me super hungry!” he said.
Nope. The food was obviously for the camera crew.
Well, that answers our first elimination. The question is to how Yotsuda ate fifty pieces of sushi in his five-minute walk here is a mystery we may never answer.
Suddenly, Brown walked in with a somber expression.
“Guys. Guys. You won’t believe this but… I just had a bag of candy in my hands and now it’s gone! And I have no idea how! I swear.”
Sure… like we’re going to believe that.
Goodbye Brown and Yotsuda. You both had a good run.
Now that our camera crew is well fed, these contestants all have one thing in common – they’re teachers. What do teachers have to deal with? No, not the rats that have been infesting the school, but you’re close.
Ding ding ding! If you guessed students, you’d be correct! We started the contestants off nice and easy – but now it’s time to do some real eliminating. Each teacher will be faced with their biggest classroom nightmare.
Speaking of classroom nightmares, here comes an army of kids dragging roller backpacks with the handle up… running straight towards Flahavan!
A horde of kids with blank notebooks and blank faces scrambled towards Folts.
“This is a high school course. A high school course! How have none of you been taking notes?!” he screams.
Suddenly, an army of about 200 kids ran towards Bell.
“DR. BELL YOU’RE MY IDOL! PLEASE, CAN I HAVE AN AUTOGRAPH?” They scream.
“This isn’t even a classroom nightmare, Bell is straight up a celebrity right now,” whispered Flahavan, while chiding the other naughty children she was faced with.
On Higgins’ side of the mall, she was faced with a mob of students making exaggerated sign post legs, and rude remarks about BTS. In defense she attempted to throw paper towels at them, but the students remained unfazed. This time even her unique Tik Tok dancing skills couldn’t save her. So next thing you knew, she was going off on a rant about how she would give them all D’s in her class if they wouldn’t “shoo”. Simply stated, they bolted out of there.
A few minutes later…
“Higgins???? Higgins???? Please Higgins, where are you???” Folts pleaded.
“Guys guys, I know I’m super important and amazing, but I’m right here! Don’t worry!” Higgins said.
“It’s my dog. Higgins.”
“Oh. Okay that is super confusing you can’t blame me for that.” Higgins said.
“I can’t do this without him. I forfeit,” Folts said.
What? No, you can’t do that! Okay anyways it looks like Folts is eliminated. Who else will be eliminated?? Hmm…
“I forfeit, too,” a male voice declared.
Okay, what in the world is going on? Who just said that? Bell stood up with a crowd of fans behind him.
“I’ve realized that I’ve been running away from an opportunity of success this whole time. I don’t need to be here. I’m a celebrity! Look at all my fans. I’ll see you guys in Hollywood,” Bell said.
Well. That was dramatic. That leaves two contestants! Flahavan and Higgins. Who will win? That’ll be decided in our next challenge. For the big finale, we’ll end it with a big bang. So, what’s the challenge you ask? Well, as you know, the number of stores available in the Westfield Mall has been steadily decreasing. Being the kind, amazing, giving, selfless, talented people that we are, we’re asking that the contestants make use of these empty spaces. They’re faced with the challenge of making their very own store! We’re not saying that the fate of these stores will end any differently than the past ones, but it’s worth a shot, right?
A few hours later and the stores were complete.
Next to Flahavan was a complete cat haven mimicking a UF school shop: Gator shirts hung from all over the place, screaming “GO GATORS!” on them, and in small font writing “We don’t accept Seminole fans, so please change your clothing apparel.” It could work as a dream land for all Gator fans.
Meanwhile, Higgins had a store filled with shiny, rainbow coffee cups that had her chinese name, 金老师 written on them. Hyper-realistic BTS cutouts were spread all around, along with Tik Tok videos and Animal Crossing walkthroughs playing left and right, it was the perfect emulation of Higgins.
But suddenly, a tall man wearing a neon pink Justice tutu skirt with the letter L on it and a Packers shirt emerged. Only one person in this mall would dare dress like this – journalism teacher Chris Lenerz.
“Wait, what about my store?” he said.
“And don’t dare ask me why I’m wearing this, you two! First off it’s Friday, second, we all know that the Packers are the best team,” he added.
Flahavan shook her head and muttered sarcastically and mockingly, “The Packers are the best team, blah, blah, blah, I teach journalism.”
Flahavan then suddenly came to a shocking realization, “Wait, how did you get here, Lenerz?”
Lenerz looked at her in utter shock “Woah! Woah! Woah! You mean you guys don’t live here? I’ve been living here for years!”
Spontaneously, Higgins waved at Lenerz, “Oh, look,” she said to Flahavan, “My old buddy Lenerz just popped up!”
“Yeah, it’s me!” said Lenerz ecstatically.
“Great,” said Higgins, “You know what, I forfeit!”
“Why?” asked Flahavan.
“I think that I am unique enough as it is, and I don’t need some random contest to prove I’m the best, like who in here knows more than two languages?”
No one raised their hands.
Well, that means that the winner is Flahavan, but surprisingly she doesn’t seem too happy about this either.
“I don’t like this competition,” Flahavan said, “It has brought us all apart in different ways, even Bell and I, and we are the closest.”
“Yeah,” everyone agreed in unison, and a few days later the group decided to have a social-distanced small gathering at Bern’s Steakhouse, where they got to know each other more and bond about their lives, except Lenerz, who remained at “home.”
This ending was definitely unexpected, but the film crew didn’t want to interrupt on the group’s sentimental happy ending. Instead, the crew was able to get some free steak, except the vegan crew member, Harry, and bond themselves, too.