It was a big task to take on, Spock had to admit. Trying to encapsulate the entirety of knowledge on earth was not an easy feat. However, when it was initially proposed to him, he couldn’t refuse. He would be happy to share his knowledge in any way he could. And that’s how he ended up living in a house with 7 others, each with their own niche to fill on the research team.
They all got along well enough. Most of them were bachelors, with the exception of Nyota Uhura and Janice Rand, who were the only women on the research team and Ben Sulu, who was married. However, his husband was gone most of the time. Hikaru was a captain, after all. There was a wide range of ages in the group, with Pavel Chekov as the youngest of the group, and Montgomery Scott as the eldest. They each did their job, and they did it well. Over the span of 9 years, the eight of them had managed to cover every topic from A to S. Everything was going steadily, until the day that Spock realized he had made an error.
The day had started out the same as any other. In the morning, the researchers went on their daily walk, going through their usual path throughout the park. They were about to begin the route around the park one more time when Spock spoke out.
“Gentlemen, ladies.” He said, trying to get their attention. “Professors, it is 8:46.”
“Oh Spock, just once more around the park.” Said Professor Rand.
“The weather is so nice today.”
“Yes, I saw a scarlet tanager that must have flown all the way from Florida, just to enjoy it.” Ben stated.
“1500 miles.” Added Professor James Kirk, the geographer.
“Our constitutional has taken too much time already. I must remind you, we are working under pressure. Three more years and we finish our encyclopedia. We must not let ourselves stop in the middle of the letter S. Now I, for one, will be going back to work.”
With that, Spock turned and headed in the direction of the house, the other professors following suit.
The house itself was relatively large. The room where the Professor’s worked being the biggest room in the house. Shelves lined the walls, filled to the brim with many books on various topics. Each professor had their own desk with their current work, along with whichever research materials they were using at the time. As the professors walked in, the housekeeper, Ms. Bragg, was there to greet them. Many salutations of, “good morning,” echoed throughout the room as they went to their respective work stations.
“Professors, before you begin your work, I have something I need to say. One of you took off with the jar of strawberry jam from my pantry last night. I located the empty jar on the shelf, behind a book on the rise and fall of the Roman empire. That seems to indicate our historian, Professor Rand.” She said, looking pointedly around the room.
“I did no such thing, Ms. Bragg.” Janice stated, sitting in her chair.
“I’m not accusing anybody, however, until we’ve cleared this up, I think we’ll dispense of jam with breakfast.”
Protests were heard throughout the room, but they were quickly silenced as Ben spoke up, “Ms. Bragg.”
“Yes, Professor Sulu?”
“It was me,” He admitted, “I was studying strawberries last night when I suddenly got a horrible craving.”
“A crime confessed is half atoned.” She said, nodding as she began to head out of the room, stopping when she heard Professor Rand calling her.
“Ms. Bragg, Ms. Bragg! I had some material here, what happened to it?”
“What happened? I blushed for my duster when I did your desk,” She answered, a slight blush forming on her cheeks as she spoke. “You’ll find all the materials in the middle drawer. Faced down.”
“I’m just beginning my article on sex, Ms. Bragg. Any objections?”
She rolled her eyes, “No, I trust you have more self control than Professor Sulu.”
Janice, almost laughing, turned to Professor Sulu who had focused back on his work, looking affronted. Ms. Bragg was about to leave, again, when she noticed something.
“Professor Chekov, your window shade again. It’s a crime to carelessly expose this good carpet.”
“You just committed a more serious crime, Ms. Bragg.” Spock spoke up. “You have split an infinitive. Never to “carelessly expose”, always to “expose carelessly.”
She sighed. “I’m not here to juggle words, it’s my job to conscientiously see that this house-”
“You just split another one, Ms. Bragg.”
She looked at him as if she was about to say something but Professor M’Benga, the physiologist, spoke up from his position near the window. “Oh! Here’s whachamacallit.”
Everyone looked towards him. “Who?”
“The lawyer from the foundation and Miss Chapel’s with him.”
“And this place is looking like a flicker’s nest.” Ms. Bragg sighed and hurried out of the room.
M’Benga came down towards Spock’s desk, “Yes, we’re in for our semi-annual wigging, I suppose. Spock, you better put your coat on.”
Spock looked at him and raised an eyebrow, “Why? What…” He trailed off as Chekov walked over to his desk as well.
“Better fix your tie.” Chekov muttered, as he and two other Professors began to fuss with his hair and clothing; their words overlapping.
“Fix your tie.”
“Fix your hair.”
“What is all this nonsense?”
“This nonsense is Miss Chapel.”
“And will you please smile at her?”
“This is all very undignified. And Vulcans do not-” Spock was cut off by the other professors shushing him as Miss Chapel walked into the room.
“Please, sit here Miss Chapel.” Said Professor Rand, gesturing to one of the cushioned chairs in the room.
“It’s a very nice morning Miss Chapel.” Professor Sulu added; as the rest of the professors gathered around her.
The lawyer looked at her. “Would you like to speak today Miss Chapel, or shall I?”
“You please, Mr. Larson.” She said, looking around the room at the professors.
Mr. Larson grabbed his briefcase and pulled out a small pile of papers. “I'll make this as brief as possible, ladies and gentlemen. To date, 283,000 credits have been expended in the writing of this encyclopedia. You all realize that Miss Chapel's father, the late Daniel S. Chapel,” He gestured to a portrait of the man, which was hanging on the wall behind him. “Left only a quarter of a million credits for this project. Every additional credit will have to come from Miss Chapel's own pocket. We are simply here to ask for a brief estimate of how much longer this will take.”
“Oh, I would say around 3 years, don’t you think?” Asked Professor Uhura.
“Perhaps 4.” Added Professor Montgomery Scott, contemplating.
The lawyer shook his head. “No, I’m sorry. It cannot be, it just cannot.” He sighed. “All we ask is that you bring this to a close somehow. Slap it together, get on with it, that sort of thing.”
Spock stepped forward at that moment. He knew that if they wanted to continue their research, it was Miss Chapel that had to be convinced, not the lawyer. He was also aware of the fact that Miss Chapel harboured a particular affection for him. “Mr. Larson, may I have a word?” The man nodded.
“Hello Professor Spock.” Miss Chapel said, bashfully, turning to him.
“Hello Miss Chapel.” He said, nodding at her. After a brief moment, Spock turned his attention towards the lawyer, “Mr. Larson, you have requested that we ‘slap it together.’” The air quotes were audible. “However, I must inform you, we are not the ‘slapping together’ kind. We have endeavoured to finish this project and we aim to be as thorough as possible. If the work goes slowly, it is simply because of the rapid pace in which things change in the world. For example, Professor Kirk, our geographer. He is required to rewrite 63.4% of his articles. Then there is Professor M’Benga-”
“I’m not interested.” He said, cutting Spock off mid sentence. Miss Chapel looked at him accusingly. “Don’t interrupt Mr. Larson.” She turned towards Spock, the affection plain across her face as she looked up at him. “Go on, Professor Spock.”
He looked towards her, a plan forming in his mind. “I am certain that it is your wish that this monument your father has begun be finished as nobly as it begun, Miss Chapel. I am…” He paused for a moment, contemplating his words. “I am… appealing to you, Miss Chapel. To your vision and to your love for your father. Perhaps I am a little inarticulate, but I have always regarded you as…” He trailed off, the tips of his ears turning a light shade of green. It wasn’t often that Spock was out of his area of expertise, but this was certainly one of those times. Miss Chapel turned towards him.
He continued. “Always regarded you as-” Spock let out a noise as Kirk subtly ran a hand along his spine.
“Oh Professor!” Miss Chapel look at him, happily surprised, if not slightly embarrassed. Spock’s own blush had grown, his cheeks turning a darker shade of green with embarrassment. He tried to tamp it down.
“I… You know what I mean, Miss Chapel.”
She smiled and looked away. “Yes.”
Mr. Larson spoke up then. “But Miss Chapel, 4 more years with this, and-”
“Yes, well, it was father’s wish, after all.” She replied. She stood up and looked pointedly at him before turning to the Professors in the room, “But Professors, please. Try to finish this up soon, will you?” Choruses of confirmations echoed around the room, and with that, they said their goodbyes and she left. As soon as she was gone, the professors gathered together, laughing and making small comments of how well the meeting went. Spock turned towards Professor Kirk.
“That maneuver down my spine was unnecessary, Professor.”
Jim chuckled, “Was it? It worked.”
“Hi.” The group turned toward the door as a man walked in. “I hope you don’t mind. I came through the kitchen.” He said, gesturing behind him.
The professors looked at him curiously, “But who are you?”
The man walked further into the room. “I’m the garbage man. I had a question about Cleopatra.” He wrung his gloves in his hands, “This is some kind of a library, or a school, innit?” He asked, looking around the room at the men. They shook their heads.
“Neither, we are writing an encyclopedia.” Answered Professor Rand.
Spock stepped forward, “An encyclopedia. A work that endeavours to compile and catalog all of earth’s knowledge.” The man grinned.
“Say, that’s just what I need!”
“Young man, did you come through my kitchen?” An annoyed voice said from the doorway.
“That’s right, sister.”
“I’m not your sister. And get out.” She told him, gesturing with her duster. Protests from the professors were heard around the room. Spock walked towards her. “Please Ms. Bragg, we find him very interesting.”
“Fine, but you can’t tell me he’s not infested with germs.” She said haughtily, leaving the room.
“Please, go on. Won’t you take a seat?” Scotty asked, motioning to the chair Miss Chapel had recently vacated.
The man began to explain. “I seen all the books through the window, and I figured, maybe you could help me.” He looked around the room at all the curious looks and continued. “You see, they got a quizzola on the radio.”
“What is this ‘quizzola’?” Spock asked, tilting his head in confusion.
“Korn Krunchies Quiz-Quiz.” He explained. “You send in 100 box covers and you stand to make a little dough. And I figured, with my opportunities, I got like 3,000 box covers together. But some of the answers you gotta send in to the questions. Like true or false, that type of thing.”
“You have these questions here?”
“Oh yeah.” He pulled a piece of folded paper and a pencil from his pocket. “Question 1. How did Cleopatra die? A. From swallowing a needle. B. From a snake bite, or C. From hiccups.”
Professor Rand stepped forward. “That’s history! That would be my province.” She chuckled. “The correct answer, is B. Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, daughter of Ptolemy Xlll, born 69 BC, killed herself on the 29th day of August, 30 BC, by placing an asp to her bosom.”
“A small snake.” Professor Sulu explained.
“Oh, what’s next?” Asked Uhura excitedly.
“Well, patch my pantywaist.” The man scribbled the previous answer onto his paper. “Which way would you say it; two and two is five, two and two are five, or two and two makes five.”
“Well, Professor Spock covers English.” Professor Kirk said, waving in Spock’s direction. “Did you hear the question Spock?”
“I did. As the verb is always governed by the subject, the correct answer is, ‘two and two are five’.” He stated. Light chuckles could be heard around the room.
“Oh no, Spock.” Jim shook his head. “Correct for a grammarian perhaps, but not for a mathematician.” He smiled, “Two and two, are four.”
“Hey! That’s a good one. Nobody’s gonna get that.” The man stood after he finished writing, preparing to leave. “Well, I certainly am obliged. I could use a bundle of scratch right now on account of I met me a mouse last week.”
“A mouse?” Spock looked at him curiously.
“What a pair of gams. A little in, a little out n’ a little more out.” He chuckled.
“I apologize. I am still completely mystified.”
“Well, with this dish on me hands and them giving away 25 smackaroos on that quizzola.”
“Smackaroos?” Spock pulled a notebook out of his pocket and flipped to an empty page. “No such word exists.”
“Oh?” The man turned towards Spock. “It don’t, huh? Well, a smackaroo is a dolla’ pal.”
Spock raised an eyebrow. “The accepted vulgarism for a dollar is a ‘buck’.”
The man looked at him, stating matter-of-factly, “The accepted vulgarism for a smackaroo is a dollar. That goes for a banger, a fish, a buck or a rug.”
“And what of the mouse?”
“The mouse is the dish.” He explained. “That’s what I need the moolah for.”
“Yeah, the dough! We’ll be stepping, me and this smooch.. I mean, the dish. I mean, the mouse! You know, hit the jiggles for a little rum boogie. Brother, we’re gonna have some hoytoytoy.” By this time, the man was gesturing wildly and Spock was furiously trying to write down what the man said.
“Please, not so fast.”
“Hoytoytoy?” Jim and Janice both repeated after the man, looking at one another.
“Yeah, and if you want that one explained, you go ask your papas.” The man turned to the window as a horn honked outside. “That would be Archie. His water’s gettin’ hot. Well, thanks again ladies and gents.” He said as he began to head the same way he had entered. “And hey, if you ever need to enter a contest sometime, you can call on me. You may have the brains, but I got the box tops.” The man left, the professors calling farewells out after him as he retreated. The professors faced each other again.
“Well he seems like a breezy fellow doesn’t he?” Asked Scotty, murmurs of agreement passed through the room. “Seems like a very likeable fellow.”
“Indeed.” Spock paused. “Gentlemen, ladies, it appears I have made an error.” He said, looking down at his notebook.
“What? What error?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
Spock began to pack up his things. “I had recently completed my article on slang. 26.3 pages long, written using 14 different reference books. From the illogical use of the word ‘absotively’ to the pejorative use of ‘zigzag’; 832 examples and it is incorrect.” He called to Ms. Bragg to bring him his coat and to put his lunch in the pocket. “I have written the entire article on outdated information. I have made an inexcusable error, and now, I must correct it. You heard the way the man spoke. ‘Dish’, ‘smooch’, none of which is in my article.” He headed towards the doorway, the other professors following behind.
“But vhere are you going?” Asked Professor Chekov. Spock took his coat and hat from Ms. Bragg.
“Out to collect new data. If the encyclopedia is to be correct, the information must be accurate. Now, I must depart and make up for lost time.” He put on his coat and headed to the door. “Leave the key under the mat, I will not be home before 9 o’clock.” And with that, he was gone.
Jim rolled his eyes. “I’m writing about the planet Saturn, but do I insist on going to the planet Saturn?”
“Maybe my article on sex is a little outdated as well.” Janice said, laughing. The professors then moved to their desks and finally, got back to work.