Monday, 30 June 2008

The Mystery Of The Scallion

And so I'm sitting back, on a quiet nightshift, all alone... all alone? Hang on, what's happened to The Scallion?

Well, we'll have to wind back 18 hours.

It was about 5.40am yesterday when the first signs of a disturbance appeared. It had been an extremely quiet shift, I'd already been down for my "breakfast" at 5am, and there was little reason to hang around. Talisker would be taking over in 20 minutes, and I'd probably see him in the accommodation for what little handover was required. "Goodnight," I said to The Scallion.

"No. You'd better stay to handover to Talisker," The Scallion quickly said. I explained there really was no need, but The Scallion was having none of this. "No," he said, "I'd prefer if you wait here. I don't want you going down there and telling him anything."

Telling him anything? "What do you mean?" I asked.

"I think you know what I mean," The Scallion said, quite firmly and with a trace of simmering anger.

I searched for a moment. What could he mean? We'd just been sitting in a small unit together for almost six hours, playing online poker, with small conversational exchanges. Absolute normality, until now.

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"I'm not interested in your and Talisker's games," The Scallion curtly explained, but upon further queries would reveal no more, and just reiterated that he'd prefer if I stay until Talisker arrived, and then I'd understand. It was pretty clear that he believed I already understood, however: my games were continuing.

A few minutes of a pretty tense silence ensued before I launched into a further series of "What the hell are you on about?" These were all firmly deflected with a "Wait and see," except for a brief allusion to his computer screen. On it was an open folder with the contents of his memory stick. A little earlier he'd asked about some files on it. I'd taken a cursory look at them and just told him to delete them. The Scallion, over the past week, has displayed even less computer literacy than myself, and these files looked like junk: some .rar files, with an icon demonstrating Windows couldn't open them.

It appears these files may be the heart of the matter. Maybe. Because it seems that The Scallion interpreted my suggestion of deletion, followed by my leaving for bed, as an admission of guilt; evidently I was going to sneak down and tip Talisker off after having deleted the vital evidence. As I'd said before, "What?"

Anyway, after some more tense silence, Talisker arrived, I had a friendly exchange with him, and The Scallion then said I didn't have to hang around. I wish I had. But it was 6.15am, I was tired, and just presumed I'd query him about this strangeness the next day.

So, I got some sleep and woke to another day. I got up, stretched, took a shower, and watched a little tennis. I didn't have a coffee for the first time this hitch. I popped into the galley and exchanged a few words to Baracus, who seemed a little subdued. I went to the evening meeting, mercifully brief, then headed out to the unit, where Talisker was seeing in the end of his dayshift.

Just about the first thing he said to me was, "Oh well, that's The Scallion on the chopper..."

It seems whatever game The Scallion perceived myself and Talisker as playing, he wasn't willing to play along. Perhaps. The details are still vague, and Talisker only went so far as to explaining them. That wasn't to say he really knew what was going on either, but he definitely had information he wasn't willing to reveal. But by mutual agreement, it seems, it had been decided as best that The Scallion got the first possible chopper off this rig and back to Aberdeen.

Analysis could be spouted, and certainly was between myself and Baracus, as to what on earth had gone on, but I'll save it for here. All I can really come up with is that The Scallion was very unhappy with the offshore life. This was his first trip, after all. However, for me it's been just about the easiest job I've done - if he can't hack this, he's done for when he's dumped in Brazil for months, or has to fester in some West African snakepit. The accustion of playing "games" and a variety of other retrospective circumstantial evidence suggests there was some brewing of paranoia in The Scallion's mind. Some covert plotting between myself and Talisker? Doubting my good nature? But I'd given him a can of Irn Bru just hours earlier!

It's all a bit weird, anyway, and certainly sudden. The upshot of it is we're now down to three men just as we're about to start getting busy again, so the timing isn't ideal. But of significantly better timing is July 4th. American Independence Day and my own day of liberation as, barring bad weather (in the North Sea?) I'll be escaping this demonic metal asylum in the sea back to my beloved home and joyfully weeping friends and family.

But for now, alone in the unit suddenly, I'll just pump up the music and dance around like a caged retard.

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