Episode 45: Paper Trail

As Captain Clerk sat with Klaa’ck and Whatsisname, discussing the apparent total lack of paper on board the Secondprize, two calls came in at the same time. One was from Jed Jenkins, and the other was from Dr. Flüshaht. After flipping a coin, he answered Jenkins’ call.

“Yes, Jenkins. What’s going on?”

“Well, Cap’m, I’m done with the installation of all these paper facilities… but, uh, I’s wonderin’, where’s all a-this paper s’pposed ta come from?”

Please don’t use the word facilities ever again. “Well, I was wondering the same thing myself. We’re trying to figure that out at the moment–”

“Oh really? Who all’s there?”

“Don’t worry about it, Jed. Just make sure all the kiosks are installed and working properly. We’ll worry about the paper. Clerk out.”

That left the call from the doctor, which continued to assert itself, reminding the captain to renew his search for the instructions on how to change his ringtones.

Sigh. No getting out of this one. “Hello Doc. What’s up?”

The gruff voice of Dr. Boycenhart Flüshaht snapped back immediately. “The joke is ‘What’s Up, Doc?’, lamebrain! If you’re going to make a bad joke, you should at least have the decency to do it right.”

“Uh, I wasn’t making a joke. I was just–”

“Anyways, I’m calling to let you know you’re late for your annual check-up. So get down here pronto or–”

“Alright, alright. I’m on my way. Clerk out.”

“We’ll see what we can do about the situation, sir,” Whatsisname spoke up.

“Right. Go and see the Accounting Department while you’re at it. I’m sure we probably still have an item in the budget for paper supplies.”

“Yes sir.”


“See, Captain? That wasn’t so bad. It’s like you think I’m gonna poke you with needles or something. You really need to get over your phobia of medical exams. I mean, you’ve finally been scheduling appointments with Lt. Ethel, which I think is great, and–”

“No, it’s not that. Well, not this time. I’ve got a lot on my mind.”

“I suppose you’re gonna want to talk to–”

“There’s been this new regulation passed through Fleet Command, which involves more crew-to-captain communication–”

“But I really don’t have the time for–”

“And all-crew meetings where complaints and issues are brought up–”

“You know, I have other patients–”

“And as if that’s not enough, everything has to be submitted via hard copy, and we don’t even have any paper.”

“Look, Captain, I– wait, did you say we don’t have any paper?”

“Yeah. Klaa’ck checked the ship’s inventory. There’s none at all.”

“Ah, what does he know? We got tons of the stuff. You just have to know where to look.”

“Like where?”

“Deck -11. I’ll bet that’s why it didn’t show up in the inventory. Probably still doesn’t have the ‘new upper decks’ cataloged. The deck’s packed to the gills with the stuff. Can’t even open the door for all the paper that’s up there.”

“Oh yeah,” Clerk said, stroking his chin. “I remember that when I was doing the inspection with Admiral Nezbomb. We gave up at that point. We didn’t even go to the top floor.”

“You mean The Attic.”

“Yeah, that’s right. It was late in the day, and we were really tired. Never got back to those decks.”

“Well, if paper’s what you want, then that’s where you want to go.”

“The Attic?”

No!” shouted Flüshaht. “Deck -11!”

“Oh, right. But we’ll have to figure out how to get the door open.”

“Well, I’m sure you’ll think of something. Now get out of here so I can get my last couple of exams in.”


Clerk, Klaa’ck, and Whatsisname got into the elevator, ready to see what awaited them on Deck -11.

“Alright, let’s go up to the Paper Aisle,” said Clerk.

“The what?” the elevator asked.

“You know, the paper– oh, never mind. Deck -11, please. I forgot that elevators don’t have well-defined senses of humor.”

“I’ve got a sense of humor, alright. I just don’t like bad jokes.”

“You know, I can still–”

“Captain,” Whatsisname interrupted. “We really need to get going. There’s the you-know-what that’s due by the end of the week.”

Don’t remind me. “Just take us to -11, please.”

The elevator giggled as it began its ascent.

Sure enough, as soon as they got there, the doors wouldn’t open. It took all three of them pulling, but after about a half hour, they managed to pull them open far enough for several reams to fall into the elevator.

“Flüshaht was right,” Clerk said, out of breath. “It really is packed to the gills. Well, I guess we can start taking loads down to the Storage Area for processing…”

“Hey!” exclaimed the elevator. “I’m no dumbwaiter!”

“Well, you’re certainly not a waiter.”

“Why you–”

“Captain,” Klaa’ck interrupted. “The easier thing to do would be to use the transporters to beam the paper into the proper locations. I’ve got a list I wrote up just now of destinations, and a schedule of which transporters can be used at what time, for optimal distribution.”

“Good plan, Commander. How quickly can we get this distributed?”

“According to my calculations, about four hours.”

“Alright, let’s do this,” Clerk said, as he heard the elevator somehow breathe a sigh of relief.

With the paper being routed to its proper destinations, Clerk now had only one thing to worry about: the all-crew meeting.