Rough Waters: a short story


Staff Writer
“At this point, we just assume you’re wrong until you prove you’re right.”
The First Officer glared at me as he very politely uttered the statement. The Second Officer seemed to agree with the First Officer and very subtly nodded his head vigorously. The Third Officer couldn’t help but agree with the First and Second Officers. Just for personal reference, I happened to be the Third Officer.
“But you have to believe me this time,” I said persuasively. “I swear on my life.”
The Fourth Officer chimed in, “Yes, but that’s not worth much.”
The Fourth Officer was obnoxious and disliked, always trying too hard to be liked by everyone else.
“Don’t try to be clever, Fourth,” the Fifth Officer chimed in. “You’re obnoxious and disliked, you know.”
“Look, guys,” I tried to restate my case. “Can we chastise Fourth later? I think we have more pressing issues to discuss.”
“The pressing issue is the problem of your credibility,” the Second Officer said. “While I’m sure you had the best intentions at heart, it’s still something of an issue.”
The Second Officer had something of a point. My credibility was completely shot following a series of poorly-made decisions the previous week.
“Your credibility is completely shot, especially after that series of poorly-made decisions last week.” the First Officer, angrily tapping his foot, said.
“Especially after what happened last week.” the Fourth Officer echoed.
Second Officer frowned, “You’re obnoxious and disliked, Fourth. Don’t repeat what we already know.”
The Sixth Officer stumbled into the room, “What happened last week?”
No one had seen the Sixth Officer for some time. We all assumed he’d fallen overboard. Evidently, he hadn’t.
“Where have you been, Sixth?” the Fifth Officer asked.
He stared at us blankly. “In my room?”
“But before that?”
“Doing my job?”
“But we haven’t seen you around.”
“That means I’m actually getting work done, unlike the five of you, standing around talking for some reason.”
“It’s a good reason,” I argued. “And the only ones who get me are Fifth Officer and probably you.”
“Why me?” Sixth Officer asked reasonably.
“I dunno, you look like a reasonable person.”
He considered it and shrugged truthfully. “This is not untrue.”
“Thank you, Sixth.”
“Now, what’s the whole discussion about?”
First Officer piped up. “Well, Third here seems to think that we’ve hit an iceberg, and I don’t quite agree with that diagnosis.”
“You see, we would have entertained the thought of an iceberg – I myself have encountered a number of icebergs in my career,” Second Officer joined in, “but Third here is making a completely unsubstantiated claim.”
“I did feel a slight tremor when I was out on deck,” Fifth Officer recounted. “And there was a massive iceberg floating a few feet away from the ship. It wouldn’t be entirely improbable for the ship to have hit an iceberg.”
Sixth Officer looked around. “Has anyone noticed the room is at an angle?”
“Yes, it’s certainly slanted,” First Officer nodded. “We were going to discuss that after we sorted Third’s mess out.”
The door slammed open. It was the Captain. We stared at him dumbfounded.
“I am quite annoyed at the lot of you,” the Captain remarked, quite annoyed.
Though he was the captain, his attitude seemed wet behind the ears.
“What’s the matter?” We unintentionally recited the question in unison. Except for Fourth, who was a half-second behind.
“There I am, in my bed, feeling quite relaxed,” the Captain began to pace. “Then I feel a massive tremor that completely shakes the room. I think, ‘Those fellas could probably deal with it.’ So I head off to sleep. When I wake up, I’m completely drenched, the bed’s slid to the other side of the room and there’s water up to my waist sloshing around. Would anyone care to explain what’s happened?”
We all exchanged looks and decided on the only logical course of action.
“We’re not quite sure what’s happened,” First Officer answered. “But we are almost completely certain it’s Fourth Officer’s fault.”
Captain tapped his beard affirmingly. “Yes, he seems obnoxious and disliked.”
With the last tap of his beard, the ship sunk completely below the water. The only survivors were the officers. We all agreed it was a thoroughly unpleasant day.