Author : Christopher Kueffner

The ocean swell was enough to induce the whisky to move back and forth in the glass, but just barely. This spectacle occupied the close attention of Arlen Tidmore, Systems Assurance Specialist II. The minutely swaying liquid in the glass was distilled on the other side of the world in the Orkney Islands, and some of it was already relaxing Tidmore’s brain. The door opened.

“Drinking your dirt-flavored paint thinner, I see,” boomed Tim Frampton, Navigation Specialist I.

“And it seems you just got out of asshole practice,” Tidmore replied. “It’s definitely working.”

Frampton chuckled and sat down at the table. He set a large beer bottle and a glass in front of himself. “The rain is starting to clear up. I thought I’d enjoy this change in weather, but it’s a drag.”


“We’ll probably make our turn tomorrow. That typhoon shoved the boundary of The Garbage Patch over a bit.” He poured the clear, golden beer into the glass.


“Three weeks ‘til the break.”

“Yep.” Tidmore leaned back in his chair and took a sip of his scotch. “I do believe I’m officially bored out of my damned mind.”

“It’s taken this long?”

“I don’t know how I’ve done these plastic reclamation tours for this long, but some switch has flipped. I need to find something else to do. The machines on this tub don’t break often enough to keep me focused.”

“That’s some people’s idea of a dream job,” Frampton said between gulps.

“How can you drink that piss?” Tidmore grimaced at Frampton’s beer bottle. “You can only bring so much crap out here on the plane, and you bring light beer? We’re surrounded by water that’s free.”

“It’s too salty and full of plastic, Your Highness. You should talk, with all your books and god-awful scotch.”

“Slowly filling the hold with carbon nodules isn’t enough to keep me entertained.”

“Let’s not forget the chlorine. That spices things up, doesn’t it? And what about the nitrogen?

“Nitrogen’s boring. And it’s too bad we use the hydrogen for fuel; we could fill a balloon with it and float out of here.”

“Quit whining,” Frampton droned. “When you applied for a job that consists of sailing back and forth in the middle of the Pacific, scooping up plastic, were you expecting big-city night life? The Horse Latitudes Symphony Goddamn Orchestra or something?”

“I knew what I was signing up for. I wanted the chance to get sick of something besides my relatives and neighbors. I got that. And I wanted to do something good. I’m cleaning up the ocean, and that’s cool, but this ship… I’m over it.”

“You’re cleaning the ocean and saving the world only because somebody invented a way to scoop up the plastic, separate it into its elements, and make money at it.”

“It wouldn’t be profitable without the government subsidies,” Tidmore pointed out.

“Same difference. Nothing big gets done unless it’s profitable or fashionable, preferably both.” He poured the rest of the beer from the bottle. “Funny that we don’t have anything on this ship that handles glass.”

“Hmm. Lemme have that.” Tidmore took the bottle and walked out the door. Several minutes later, he returned and picked up his glass from the table and headed back out the door. The bottle was corked.

“What are you doing?” Frampton got up and followed him. Up on deck, the sun had come out. Tidmore threw the bottle over the railing and took another sip of scotch. “What was in that bottle?”

“I wrote my resignation this morning. This way, it should take a couple of years for it to take effect.”

“You don’t like change, do you?”

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