“So yeah, I live and work in a harem,” Pam tells the documentary crew. “I know that probably has certain connotations, but it’s not so bad. They usually let us do what we want during the day, so I have plenty of time to work on my art.”
She proudly holds aloft one of her latest watercolors, an illustration of a beautiful garden in the harem’s patio.
“Plus, I share a bedroom with my three best friends in the whole word: Karen, Kelly, and Katy. We have a lot of fun: plenty of gossip and girl-talk, that sort of thing. It’s basically just like a slumber party…except that we’re 30, not 12. And instead of one night, it’s forever.”
As this sinks in, Pam’s bright smile turns into a crestfallen frown. But she quickly puts on a brave face, convincing the documentary crew - and herself - that things are going well. At this point in her life, Pam has perfected the art of self-deception.
“Even the eunuchs who guard the place aren’t so bad,” she continues. “Dwight is annoying and weird, but mostly harmless. And Oscar is really cool.”
“For the record,” Oscar huffs. “I don’t know why they had to castrate me. I think it’s pretty clear I don’t pose any threat to these nubile young women. It just seemed like overkill.”
Karen contemplates the question. What is the best thing about being part of a harem?
“I’m not sure. Kelly would probably say the outfits and jewelry, and I know Pam loves her art. I’m don’t know what Katy would say. She is kind of the ‘queen bee’ of our little group, though. She seems to enjoy that.”
The rest of the interview goes well. They ask her about her hobbies and daily life inside the harem, and they can’t believe it when she tells them how dull it actually is. The women get up around 7; breakfast is in the dining hall at 8:30. The mid-morning is usually spent in classes, where the women learn about literature, poetry, and the fine arts (although lately this time has been spent watching episodes of “Entourage”). The hour after lunch is reserved for something called “Manners and Ladylike Behaviour”, a sort-of charm school that Kelly loves and Karen hates. After this ends, the women are free to pursue their own interests. In the normal course of events, Katy socializes, Kelly gossips, Pam draws, and Karen causes mischief.
On weekdays, dinner is very informal, and Karen and her roommates usually eat in their room. The time between dinner and lights-out is Karen’s favorite time of day, and she suspects Pam would agree.
“It’s really fun to gather around and watch our favorite TV shows. This is also the time when we have our famous girl talks”, Karen says, smiling slyly. “Which usually consists of Kelly going on and on about Ryan. But sometimes, the rest of us do manage to get a word in.
“We’re supposed to be asleep by 10:30,” she continues. “But we usually end up talking in our beds for at least an hour. A few times, we have actually managed to stay up all night. The next day is always rough when we do that, let me tell you! We never seem to learn our lesson, though.”
She pauses for awhile, and lets out a gentle laugh, reminiscing.
“We have two bunk beds in our room. Katy and Kelly share one, and Pam and I have the other. Every once in awhile - and this doesn’t happen too often - Pam will get really sad about her life here. Pam is very shy, very inward-thinking, and she really is a gentle soul. It’s not that she’s weak, it’s just that she needs a pick-me-up every now and then. So whenever she’s feeling down, I crawl down into her bunk and give her a little pep talk. She’ll cry, and I’ll tell her everything will be alright, and then she’ll smile and thank me. It’s nice. We usually wake up very refreshed the next morning.”
Karen pauses, no doubt recalling past events.
“You know what? Come to think of it, that’s my favorite thing about this place. The friendships.”
“That’s probably the main reason I stopped trying to escape every week.”
“Karen Fillipelli is a menace,” Dwight exclaims, his eyes wide and unblinking. “She has tried to escape fifteen times. Five times by tunneling under the wall, four times by jumping the fence, three times by hiding in the garbage, twice by tricking Michael into thinking she’d been released, and once by dressing up as one of the eunuchs. Luckily, I’ve managed to thwart her feeble attempts every time. That’s why I’ve been awarded ‘Eunuch of the Year’ three times in a row.”
He holds his plaques aloft. If it’s possible, he’s even prouder of them than Pam is of her art.
“We Schrutes have been eunuchs in this harem for many generations. My father was a eunuch, his father was a eunuch, and his father was a eunuch. And my son will be a eunuch too.”
When the documentary crew presses Dwight as to how this is possible, he deflects the question, saying only that it is “complicated”.
Michael’s desk is cluttered with various toys, trinkets, and frankincense. Resting at the edge is a coffee mug that says “World’s Best Sultan”.
“Being a sultan is the greatest thing in the world,” he boasts. “Dunder-Mifflin said to me, ‘You know what, Michael? You’re a great guy. People love you. And since people love you so much, we’re going to give you a harem with hundreds of young women…and they can all be your friend!’. Isn’t that great? I probably have more friends than anyone else in the whole world. Every girl here loves me! We hang out all the time.”
Several hours earlier, the documentary crew asked Katy what she thought of Michael.
“Michael? Ugh. That guy is so weird.”
Michael’s interview is interrupted by his ringing telephone. He answers it, and puts it on speaker.
“Michael, it’s Ryan…”
“Ry-Ry! My young squire and protégé, now my boss.”
“Do you know why I’m calling, Michael?”
“Yes. You’re calling because you wanted to invite me to go take a spin on your magic carpet.”
“No, Michael. That‘s not it.”
Michael, ignoring Ryan’s last statement, begins to sing loudly.
“Well you don’t know what we can find…”
“Michael, this is serious…”
“Why don’t you come with me, Ryan Bailey Howard, on a magic carpet ride?”
“Michael, I don’t want to go on a ride with you, magic carpet or otherwise. The reason I called is to make sure you got the new shipment of K-Y jelly.”
“Yeah I did. I was wondering about that, though. What do we need jell-o for? We’re a harem, Ryan, not a candy store.”
“Not jell-o, Michael. Jelly. K-Y jelly.”
“You do know what K-Y jelly is, don’t you Michael?”
Ryan sighs loudly.
“I’ll be there in two hours.”
Just as Michael is about to hang up the phone, Jan enters.
“Oh wait,” Michael says. “Jan just got here. I’m sure she can help me with the kiwi jelly.”
“You’re probably right,” Ryan says. “But I want to see Kelly anyway. See you in a couple hours.”
Jan sits down at Michal‘s desk, and he asks her about the K-Y jelly. He regrets it almost immediately. She shows him how it is used.
In great detail.
It is night now, and the four girls are in their room. Karen, Katy, and Kelly are relaxing, while Pam is doing her final talking head of the day.
“Believe it or not, sex isn’t a big part of our lives at all. Michael is the regional manager of the harem, so he can have any girl in here…but all he ever wants to do is cuddle. And Ryan is his boss, but the only girl he seems interested in is Kelly. That just leaves Jan…and unfortunately, she always wants to do more than cuddle. And her assistant Hunter is always there, too. It’s pretty weird.”
As if on cue, Jan enters the room, with Hunter trailing meekly behind her. She carefully examines the women in the room, as if she’s shopping for shoes.
“Today, I feel like…Pam.”
Pam shrugs and gives the camera a forced smile. The other girls give her a look that seems to say ‘good luck, you’ll need it’. She stands up, and Jan leads her out of the room.
Pam gets back about an hour later.
“How was it?” Katy asks.
“Even more melodramatic that usual,” Pam replies. “You know, this may not be the best job in the world, but I take pride in my work. And having Jan cry while I’m going down on her is not the best way to inspire employee confidence! Plus, it’s just plain rude.”
“Don’t take it personally,” Kelly says. “Jan is, like, totally nuts.”
This is true, of course. Jan is totally nuts. Even by Kelly’s standards.
“Anyway,” Pam sighs. “I’m gonna go take a shower.”
The girls always take showers after an evening with Jan and Hunter.
Later that night, long after the camera crews have left, the four girls are lying in their beds. Kelly is chatting excitedly about her encounter with Ryan earlier in the day, and she and Katy are analyzing every detail over and over. Karen, content to merely listen to the conversation, relaxes on her top bunk.
Soon, however, she hears something coming from below her. It’s soft at first, but gradually grows louder. It’s Pam, and she’s crying. Karen makes her way out of bed and crawls down to Pam, who puts away the tissue she has been using to wipe away her tears. She tries to disguise the fact that she has been crying, but Karen isn’t fooled.
Pam scoots to her left, and Karen slips under the covers. Pam puts her head on Karen’s shoulder and opens up to her. It’s not long before she begins to cry again.
“It’s silly,” Pam says. “I shouldn’t be complaining. I mean, everything is taken care of for me. I live in this nice place, I have great friends, I can work on my art. And I’m crying because I’m not in love? I shouldn’t be so selfish. I mean, what am I expecting? Some tall, handsome stranger to ride in here, whisk me off my feet, and save me?”
Miles away, but at the exact same moment, a man riding a tall camel introduces himself to the documentary crew.
“My name is Jim Halpert, and I’m an adventurer, mercenary, and soldier of fortune. Which is even more boring than it sounds. Anyway, I’m on my way right now to a harem. I’m supposed to sneak in and rescue the girls who live there. So, you know, that should be fun.”
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended. For realsies.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Okay: this story takes place in the 11th century, yet features modern technology like telephones and video cameras. And it takes place somewhere on the Arabian Penninsula, yet everyone speaks English. It's best not to dwell too much on the internal logic of this story...