The sun began to set between the glorious pyramids. The production van, swarming with technicians, gaffers, and managers, detailed the last actions before the worldwide release of the new Electro/ABP reality tv show. The Technical Director, a veteran of thousand live deliveries, popped another anxiolytic—the fourth in two hours—into his mouth and washed it down with a gulp of Vitaminwater, one of the main sponsors. Of course, the production team knew this was one hell of a job to have, but money was good and they were professionals.
The Director signaled the main Aston to roll the title sequence. Main Aston put the first part of the video, A1 had done her part and the jingle of the show sounded in perfect harmony. The whole crew watched the pyramids, the labyrinths, and the dogs, as they had seen it approximately three thousand times today. Second Aston put the blinking 'live' in the corner of the screen so the not-so-wise audience could be one hundred percent sure they were not been sold a complete mirage.
Camera Three was waiting for the signal with bated breath, wondering if he could ever tell Perky Lead how glorious she was on his little screen. Perky Lead was being given the last touches in her wonderful mane of golden hair and a gofer was hiding the mike battery behind their star’s back. Camera Three considered that gofer the luckiest mortal on Earth.
“Vicky, you go live in five, four…” A2 announced when Graphic Coordinator started to roll the video with the dog fake bios.
Perky Lead smiled a blinding smile, with the confidence of a teeth model, which coincidentally was her breakthrough role before Noted Television Producer decided to make her a star and a precious commodity at the same time.
“Welcome everyone!” greeted Perky Lead in-cue, as she was being trained to do. A1 added a canned applause, “Here we are. Ready to see Nichole, Pat, and Fletcher our first participants in our new, thrilling challenge: Dogs Lost In A Maze That Is Also In Egypt!”
Dutifully, A2 added the echo track, composed from the other one hundred seventy-four times she wasn’t able to do it right. The sound was slightly altered to mimic the voice of one hundred seventy-four different people. Main Aston had the canned audience roll. Vision Mixer did an excellent job intercutting Perky Lead with their fake audience echoing the name of the show in Perky Lead’s voice.
“I remember you people at home, we are broadcasting from Egypt where we made this wonderful maze,” Perky Lead started walking in the opposite direction of the maze entrance, pointing out with a lovely arm the walls of piled rocks. “And inside it are our volunteers.”
The gofers raised the cues with red arrows and put them in her visual range - Perky Lead did a complete turn, showing the battery of her mike to the whole world. The production team let out a long-suffering sigh. Technical Director popped another pill.
“Our fluffy volunteers who will face some challenges to cross this door...”
Camera Two presented the only exit of the maze in a forced perspective to make it look even more daunting. Second Aston put the blinking legend ‘Only Exit’ front and center.
“... and meet their owners,” Perky Lead made the grandiose gesture to signal the three models selected to play the owner parts. None of the original owners registered well in front of the camera. “The first one to cross will get two life supplies of ‘Power Bark’...”
First Aston let the ribbon with the slogan of ‘Power Bark’ roll in the bottom part of the screen. Second Aston sang the jingle with gusto until she noticed the judging looks of the rest of the crew.
“... and a million dollar for their non-furry-papa or mama!”
A2 added canned applause. Dolly grip made a sweeping take as that Vision Mixer fused with the prerecorded dashing take of the inside of the maze and then changed to Camera One, at the center of the maze. Nichole the pug, Pat the bulldog, and Fletcher the Irish Setter sat there looking up and whining softly.
“Come on, stupid beasts, do something!” Technical Director grumbled after two complete minutes of quietude. “Roll the Puppy Bios!”
“Master?” whined Nichole, her wide sad eyes trained up.
“Master?” gruffed Pat, scratching the many folds of his side. He was equally interested in the tall figure in front of them.
“Buddy?” Fletcher finally barked, demanding a reply of the tall dog in front of him.
Anubis looked at those strange jackals with an amused expression. They all were missing their hunting partners and they were here among the disturbed ruins of a graveyard.
“Guidance?” Anubis offered because he was on his way to make the life of those who turned the stones of eternal rest a lot more harder.
“Walkies!” Fletcher caught the concept first, sauntering in a wide circle.
Nichole wagged her tail and Pat let a low growl and licked his chops. Anubis smiled with benevolence over them and started to walk through the more direct path out of that labyrinth.
“We have movement!” Announced Camera One, ready to follow the dogs through the narrow corridors.
“This is why I don’t work with non-humans…” moaned Technical Director. Another pill was tempting him.
“And there they go!” exclaimed Perky Lead with her toothpaste smile.
Anubis crossed the narrow bridge over the false river, the hieroglyphics with his name shone with bright light in the walls, and they stayed lit when the funny jackals followed his lead and crossed too.
“I want the one who installed the lights fired!” Technical Director grumbled, cringing internally at the asymmetry.
The path was clear for a God, but not too much for a pup. Pat almost got lost in a cross because production staff had put some tasty morsels in the labyrinth to make the run last longer. Anubis had to crack the flay to make him heel. A2 added a canned ‘aww’ sound when Pat followed Fletcher’s lead with his tail tucked.
“They are clearing the labyrinth too fast!” Stunt Coordinator complained, wringing his hands. “Faster than the gofers who did it the first time!”
“I always said the gofers were not precisely brilliant,” Technical Director said, passing his hand over his lips.
Production staff, in general, was worried. The broadcasting company had cleared three hours of time and the dogs were destroying the show with their speed. No one could find the technician who set the lights, but the path was clearly visible in their bird's-eye view.
There was no trap too complex, no obstacle too impossible for those dogs to the desperation of Stun Coordinator. Nichole breezed over jumps too wide for her short legs; Pat wriggled through pillars too narrow for his chubby butt; Fletcher ducked masterfully throw low passages like he was a chihuahua.
On the plus side, the show’s audience had doubled in the last ten minutes. Everyone connected to their network was in love with those rare specimens of canine brilliance. #Wonderpups was trending on Twitter but no one remembered the show was named Dogs Lost In A Maze That Is Also In Egypt! Because it was clearly a misnomer by now.
“If those dogs are lost, I’m Jamaican!” exclaimed Noted Television Producer in his tick Heartland accent.
The last obstacle was a trap, a grill that one of the dogs had to open by pulling a toy bone, letting the other two reach the exit, but it was impassable for the one opening the grill. Nichole pulled the bone, jumping and wiggling her tail. Pat didn’t wait until the grill was open, he shimmied under it. A picture of his furry butt became an instant meme.
Before Fletcher crossed the open grill he sat—‘very polite, much properly,’ said the internet— and offered his paw to shake. In minutes, there was a desktop available in the Network site with his image and the line ‘Manners first!’ available to download for all the subscribers.
Fletcher bolted through the open passage and Nichole let go the toy bone. In cue, A2 repeated the canned ‘aww’ sound but the grill didn’t fall. A clip of Nichole sauntering happily to the passage, the canned sound and the legend ‘FAIL’ at the end appeared on Youtube in five minutes and reaped more than a million views in twelve hours.
Camera Two captured the moment when the Wonderpups crossed the gate of the labyrinth, yapping and barking, running to their proper masters and snubbing the paid models. Pat’s elderly mama meet him half ways; Nichole’s papa scooped her in his big sailor arms; Fletcher jumped to the only arm of their buddy. No one could ever be sure, because those sixty pounds of the hairy dog were very effective to block the vision.
The Wonderpups In A Maze That Is Also In Egypt cleared all obstacles in half an hour, but it was the most memorable half an hour of the year.
Sadly, when the production crew—from Noted Television Producer to the most humble gofer—met its early demise under the curse of Anubis, no one remembered them.