Virgil is forced to tackle a challenge greater than any rescue.

This story was written for the 2007 Tracy Island Writer's Forum Fish Out Of Water Challenge.

Day One

You know Dad would never admit it, but he's always looking for ways to knock us back down to size whenever we start getting too big for our haircuts. Well, what would you think if the one of the Investor Certification techs at Tracy Corp called in sick during an especially critical time and my father decided that one of us just had to fill in?

I mean, granted, things in the rescue business haven't exactly been booming lately, but really. How does he expect me to go from manning the cockpit of the world's most sophisticated transport plane to sitting in a cubicle, tied to a phone and calling out to county recorder's offices to obtain mortgage info for his real-estate division? I'd sooner have my fingernails pulled out one-at-a-time...have fire ants crawl over my naked body...uh, walk over hot coals barefoot...um...well, you get the idea. Not exactly my idea of a good time.

On top of the tediously routine duties I'm expected to perform this week, I'm also expected to attend any staff meetings that are called. And if that weren't enough to kick in my inherent humility, my productivity will be monitored as if I were any other full-time employee. Something here smells like last year's apple pie and I'm going to get to the bottom of it. Sigh. I think I'll start by grabbing a cup of coffee. Can somebody tell me where the break room is? I guess I missed the orientation.

Day Two

You know, I think I've decided that an advanced degree in engineering does not necessarily ensure one's ability to Right Fax, laser scan or operate a multi-conduit communications system. I mean, even my last duty shift in Thunderbird Five was... "Oh, hello, Bryan. Yes, I'm finding everything I need. You want me to what? Oh, I see. Yes, I'll get right on that." Sorry, "The Boss" just came by to check on me but I think it was more like check up. From his demeanor, I'm guessing Father told him the last name thing was just a coincidence.

Anyway, I could blame the equipment here for all my problems, or just go the route of every engineer from time immemorial. If you can't get the thing to do what you want it to...change it!

Of course, any enhancements I might care to add would probably not sit too well with the current management and I am trying to make a good impression here. Wait, did I just say that? Oh, god. If Scott could see me now, he'd have a field day. Two days down and, ugh, three to go...

Day Three

Okay, so it's hump day...and I'm still here. Aside from the fact that I'm cooped up in this god-forsaken building, where the environmental system makes the roof shake and sounds like an approaching freight train every time it kicks in, things are going well. Why, just this morning, the new guy that started the same day I did, jammed the document disintegrator. When I tried to go in and fix it, it grabbed my shirt and the next thing I knew, I was wearing a midriff. Damn, that was my lucky shirt too, or at least it used to be. The poor guy offered to buy me a new one but I told him to forget about it. Boy, Dad is going to owe me big time after this week and I'm not just talking about my wardrobe.

Great, it's lunch time. Now where did I put that sketchpad? Oh, there it is...right under the leftover cake and icing from my cubicle mate's birthday. Well, I didn't really feel like drawing anyway. Sigh.

If there is a lesson to be learned by working here, I couldn't begin to tell you what it is, except to say that I'm glad I never had to actually do this for a living. My brothers and I have been blessed, it's true. We've never really wanted for much. And the only thing I want right now is to sneak out the back door. Human beings just weren't meant to spend the majority of their days in a cubicle farm. It's not natural, never mind ergonomic. Gotta keep my chin up though. Just two more days to go...

Day Four

I've promised myself I'm going to start out this day on a better note. After all, I'm only here for five days while many of these people will be here for years. What have I got to complain about?

I know what Dad's trying to do and it's not going to work. I can handle this. It's small potatoes compared to some things I've endured. It's going to take more than a few degrading words from "The Boss," or a co-worker with his cubicle in such a state that you start wondering if he's incubating some new type of organism that might emerge to come and suck your brains out, to make me walk.

Ha! I mean, does he really think I'm that easily broken? Oh, and I almost forgot about the enthusiastic reception I received upon returning from lunch.

"...I-I'm sorry, what do you mean I can't get back in the building? Where's my what? Well, it's right...Well it was there a minute ago." Arrgghh! Where the $&( is my ID Badge?!

I swear, if Gordon ever becomes privy to any of this, he'll never let me live it down.

Day Five (a.k.a. Freedom is on the Horizon)

I've nearly done it, served my time I mean. Just a few more hours and I'll be a free man. God, I miss the island! Not since that incident with the World Navy have I longed to see it so. One thing you did accomplish, Father, was to give me a greater appreciation for the freedoms we have as a family, the freedoms you've given us. Rescues can be hell sometimes, but I've realized now that what keeps us going is knowing what it is we have to come home to.

I was becoming too complacent and that can be dangerous in our line of work. Being here, in this place, has given me a new appreciation for what we do and who we are. There is a fine line between those two and that's the way it needs to be.

I'm going to miss that guy with the funky cubicle though. He's as real as it gets.

Someone is tapping me on the shoulder. What, it's quitting time already? Oh, well. And so ends my administrative career.

Oh, and Dad, I've got some new ergonomic schematics for the office you might want to take a look at.

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