"Cap'm! Cap'm!"

"Calm down, Jenkins. What happened?"

"You just wouldn't believe me if I told you, sir!" the Head of Maintenance said breathlessly.

"What, did you find an extra floor beneath the ship?"

"Oh, has somebody told you already?"

"Call it an educated guess," Clerk said with a sigh.

"Ennyways, Cap'm, it's cloggin' up the facilities!"

How is it that we can communicate with non-human lifeforms but can't translate from Country Bumpkin to English? the Captain thought as he attempted to gather his thoughts and figure out what in the universe Jed Jenkins had just uttered.

"What's clogging up what, now?"

"This new floor, Cap'm! It's all filled up! It's backin' up inta tha facilities!"

"The what?"

"The facilities!"

The toilets, maybe? "So, this floor is all filled up... with...?"

"It smells terrible bad down here, Cap'm."

Crap. "I'll be right down."

Clerk reluctantly stepped onto the elevator. It was going to give him trouble about this trip, for sure.

"Bottom deck, please."

"All the way to the bottom, sir?"

"Yes. The very last floor."

"Are you sure? I mean, it smells pretty bad down there."

Like you would know. "It smells bad all over the ship."

"Of course, Captain, but it's so much worse down there. Wouldn't you rather explore some of these new floors first? I hear they're pretty exciting!"

"Not now. I really need to get down there."



It's a strange thing to hear a computer sigh. Dejected, the elevator finally mumbled "Fine," and slowly began going down.

Some 15 or 500 or so minutes later, Captain Clerk arrived at Deck W, or, as it had become affectionately known, "The Port". Down here was the ship's waste disposal, which, until the last few days, had never been a problem. Waste got pumped down here, then emptied out into the vast void of space. Standard procedure. It stands to reason that if the whole system is getting clogged up and wreaking havoc on the whole ship, this would be the first place to look for a solution. So naturally, nobody did.

Clerk fought the gag reflex as he stepped off the elevator, hearing "told you so" faintly as the doors closed.

"Cap'm!" Jenkins yelled as he rushed over to the still-queasy Captain. "Over here! The facilities! The faci--"

"I got it, I got it," said Clerk. "Where is the problem?"

"Right here, Cap'm." Jenkins walked up to a large, bloated pipe. "It's the Port, sir. It ain't emptyin' out into the ether as we figured it was."

Covering his nose and mouth with his hand, Clerk walked up for a closer look.

"You see, Cap'm, normally it feeds through there--" he pointed through a window designed for an exterior view, "-- and on out into yon universe. But takey look at it."

Through the glass Captain Clerk could see what looked to be a typical observation deck -- and a rather lavishly furnished one at that -- filled at least halfway to the top with the, ahem, "output" of the tube.

"And nobody knew this extra floor was here?" Clerk asked.

"I reckon not, sir. Who'da put the Port a floor too early?"

No engineer I've ever seen with a passing grade. "Has anybody been working down here lately?"

"Are you kiddin' me? I can't even get redshirt ensigns to do any maintenance down here, let alone any real work."

Clerk couldn't argue with that. "Well... have we been able to figure anything out about it yet?"

"Sorry, Cap'm, but ain't none of us been able to stay down here long enough to study it rightly."

"Well, go grab some hazmat suits and get to the bottom of this. If this keeps up, we may not make it to the starbase in time."

"Will do, sir!"

Clerk turned toward the elevator, on his way to take a shower, lie down, and try to pretend this day never happened, when all of a sudden, a bottle of black nail polish fell from a hole in the ceiling...