The Decline of Scottish Sea Power

Adventure No. 14:

(Part 5)

"Are You Finding What You're Looking For Out Here?"

With Michael off sulking like Achilles in his tent, the mic had effectively been passed to Dwight. "I now believe that the Shark intends to wait us out. It will wait until we run out of food and then strike us at our weakest."

"That is one crafty Snark," Oscar snorted.

"Obviously none of us want this to degenerate to the point of cannibalism," Dwight paused dramatically. "...But if it does..."

A general wave of disgusted disbelief rolled through the crowd.

"...Please keep in mind that some of us are can more viable food sources..."

"Hey, Dwight," Oscar interrupted.

"...Capable of keeping the rest of us alive much longer," he finished.

"Dwight!"

"Yes, Oscar," Dwight snarled in annoyance, "I'm sure all of us would like to know what kind of homosexual emergency you are having that is somehow more important then the survival of the group."

"I just think," said Oscar, exasperated, "that we should be focusing on the food we do have right now and we should start working on getting back to the dock."

"We will get back to land when Michael commands it," Dwight replied with Sith-like cruelty, "and I already have two randomly chosen employees taking inventory in the galley."

----

At that very moment in the galley, Pam and Karen were treasuring an awkward moment.

"So..."

It was the kind of moment that was so very, very good at being awkward you could almost imagine a vast trophy-case back at its parents' house, full of awkwardness awards won early in life.

"So..."

And, now that it had grown and matured, it had not lost a step of the talent it had shown in youth.

"So, the other day," Karen began, just trying not to give in to the silence, "I turned the TV... just to have some noise, you know?"

"Right," Pam righted.

"And it was Star Trek II." She paused for a moment. "And it was never my thing, but my Dad and my Granddad loved the show."

"It must skip every other generation," Pam handled the joke like it was an itchy sweater.

"Yeah," Karen laughed even though it wasn't funny. "I left it on because it made me think of my Granddad... how I watched that show with him the day before he died."

Pam nodded, just trying to get anyone to say anything.

"But... the thing I kept thinking was... according to this movie, we were supposed to be conquered by genetic supermen like fifteen years ago." She looked Pam in the eyes. "Have you ever seen a genetic superman?"

Pam froze for a moment. "Other than Dwight, you mean?" she finally asked.

Karen laughed, largely out of obligation.

----

Kevin: I've been out to sea so long I've started to forget what life is like on shore. Like...

His jaw hangs open for a moment of intense concentration.

A very long moment.

Kevin, incredibly slowly: I've actually forgotten what Monica Keena looks like.

Pause.

Kevin: I keep trying to picture her in mind, but... I keep getting Hayden Panettiere.

----

"...So, when Jim left, we were disqualified from the contest," Kevin said with his usual dodder, as he shuffled the cards.

Lonny shook his head. "That's too bad, man."

Kevin shrugged. "Starting a Queen tribute band was a pretty stupid idea anyway," he admitted. "We're doing a lot better since we changed our sound."

"Yeah?" Lonny cocked his head.

Kevin nodded. "Now we're a Run-DMC tribute band."

Lonny nodded, genuinely impressed. "How's that working out for you?"

Kevin smiled with undiluted confidence "I'm the King of Rock."

On the other side of the room, Toby and Darryl were discovering a shared interest. "So," Toby related, "Michael comes on stage, but his stage-fright is so bad the only line he can remember is 'I am the Great and Powerful Oz...'"

Darryl smiled wide enough to swallow whole planets.

"So he keeps saying it..." Toby continued. "Over and over and over again."

Now Darryl couldn't help laugh. "You serious?" he asked between chuckles.

Toby smiled as much as he was capable of. "I'll send you a copy of the tape."

Darryl nodded, there was always something he liked about Toby.

At the moment, the door swung open and they all hurried to hide their distractions in a moment disturbing similar to memories they had all had from being thirteen and their respective moms coming into their rooms.

"Hey, guys, I..." Michael began..

"Sorry, Mike," Darryl cut quick, "it's not safe for you down here. There's, uh, radiation."

"But, you're all down here," Michael said in a rare moment of clarity.

"Yeah, but a ship like this needs to use a special kind of radiation to run," Darryl improvised with absolute conviction, "we were all injected with the cure back in the Navy, but..." he looked Michael dramatically dead in the eyes "...radiation can do terrible things to a man."

Michael turned a very specific shade of purple. "Say no more," he burbled and disappeared back through the door.

Darryl smiled, this boat trip wasn't turning out so bad after all.

-----

Darryl: In case my daughter's watching, I just want to say... it's never okay to lie.

He shakes his finger to emphasis the point.

Darryl: ...But it's also not okay to throw someone smaller than you off a boat.

He nods.

Darryl: And at some point, you'll have to choose the lesser of two evils.

----

Now Jim had a choice to make.

And he was never at his best when he had to come to a decision, as his present circumstances indicated.

With Michael fired, Jim was at least the Acting Regional Manager, which meant that he was within his rights to turn this ship back from the brink of insanity and bring everyone safely back to land. (Really, he supposed he could have done that at any time, but Michael was their boss and they tended to go along with him...)

Still, he really didn't like to hurt Michael and his former boss was currently as desperate as Jim had ever seen him.

This was definitely the type of situation that called for someone who was willing to put in a little effort in life.

"Hey, Tuna," Andy said, sidling up to him, "What the hazzizzaps?"

Jim gave a nod, he simply did not have the energy to deal with Andy right now.

"You know, I was thinking about what Dwight was saying before," Andy continued, "about having to resort to cannibalism."

Jim weighed in his head whether or not he was happier when Andy was talking about syphilis and came up blank.

"Tuna," he said seriously, "if it comes down to that, I want all of you to eat me."

No, this was definitely worse.

"After all," Andy expostulated, "the good of the many will always outweigh the good of the one."

Jim's eyes went wide. "Huh."

Andy stared at him, uncomprehending, but Jim just ran off, his stride marked by a new sense of purpose.

He had to find Karen.

-----

Jim: I can't believe I'm actually making an important decision based on something Andy said.

----

Andy: Yeah, I go to Trek for most problems in life...

Pause.

Andy: Well, the real tough ones sometimes call for Buffy or Firefly, but...

-----

"...so, I ask him if he wants coffee or tea and he says he 'could go either way,'" Karen said in her best 'Jim voice.' "And it was then that I realized Halpert's deepest secret... he's a bi-bivergal."

Pam had often thought that, were their circumstances different, she and Karen could have been much better friend. After all, they had had an immediate rapport, it's just there had been something that got in the way of that early on.

The door swung open and the two women came face-to-face with the source of their impasse.

Jim was instantly struck by an anxiety the reached out from inside his stomach and crippled him from within. He was about to open his mouth to show them how casual he was about the whole thing when Andy materialized behind him and slapped him on the back.

"Three-way!" Andy shouted, drawing out the words for what felt like aeons. "Awesome!"