There was a huge press conference, organized by Mr. Lamb.  The group found themselves media darlings, as everyone found it remarkable that they were even alive.  They had disappeared for two months, and everyone had given up hope.  Their miraculous return made for what used to be called a “seven day wonder” but the interest lasted longer in the press.  Newspaper readers and television viewers wanted to know the story of their amazing survival.

            At the first news conference, held in the gardens of Mr. Lamb’s estate, it was decided that Neal would speak for the group, but later all of them had their turns on camera.  First Neal offered thanks to the search parties who had combed the mountains for the group, and to Mr. Lamb for his generosity.  Next came the reporters’ questions.

            “Mr. Osborne, the whole world wants to know, where have you been for the past two months?”  A reporter for a Vancouver paper asked.

            “Well, we’ve been in a cave,” Neal said with a grin.  “So we’re pretty much as curious about what’s happened in the world lately as the world is with us.”

            Neal’s poise and friendly manner earned some laughter and smiles from the reporters, and more than a few appreciative nods.  Lamb grinned, glad that he had chosen Neal to represent the others during this conference.  He was a publicist’s dream:  confident, calm, and easygoing.  Lamb saw potential in many of the others as well, and already his mind was planning for their future, and its potential profitability.

            “How did you survive those conditions?”  Came the next question.

            “Well, there was an underground lake, and we had some boxes of dried cereal.  When you’re hungry, Rice Krispies is like gourmet food.”

            Neal earned more grins, and Lamb’s enterprising mind thought Endorsements, commercials

            “Is there anything you want to say to anyone out in the world?  Your mother, your family?”  A journalist asked.

            “Unfortunately, I have no mother.  She died a few years ago.  I would like to say hi to my father, however, and tell him that I’m okay, and so are my cousins.  To the families of the rest of us, we all send our love, and we’ll be contacting you soon.”

            Lamb thought to himself Orphan.  That will make him a media sensation – Lamb could see the headlines now, “Orphan survives plane crash, leads friends to safety.”  It received sympathy from the reporters, who were generally cynical professionals, so it was bound to sell to ordinary people.

            “If you don’t mind the question, what happened to your mother?”  A reporter from CBC asked.

            Neal paused, and seemed to gather strength to talk of something painful.  Real pain or feigned for the cameras, it mattered little to Lamb.  He saw the young man’s handsome, expressive face and thought of the photos in the newspapers and the pictorials on television.  He could make this boy and his friends stars!

            “Tragically, my mother and the parents of my cousins, Jason and Alex, were killed in a car accident.  My father raised us on his own during high school, along with my sister Zoë.”

            Lamb stepped up to Neal’s side and took his place in front of the microphone.

            “Now everyone, thank you for coming, but that will be all.  These young people are tired and need to call their families.”

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