Work Header

The Quarantine

Work Text:

COLD OPEN - Open Office

Michael is hurrying the team into the conference room and they’re all dragging. Stanley’s already got his nose in the crossword puzzle and Angela and Oscar look particularly annoyed. Dwight stands in the doorway with a clipboard. Phyllis is still seated at her desk trying to finish up a call. Michael moves to hover over her.

MICHAEL: Come on, Phyllis. Don’t be tardy.

DWIGHT: Tardiness will not be tolerated.

We shift to a talking head in the conference room

PAM: Two months ago Michael read an article about agile team management so since then we’ve been having twenty-four full staff meetings a week. Every morning there’s a daily stand-up…

The talking heads begin to cut quickly from person to person, interspersed with clips of each kind of meeting starting with everyone standing up in the conference room (Angela in the back and can’t see).

JIM: The daily wind-down…

KELLY: Bi-weekly round-up…

OSCAR: Show and tell...

Cut to Phyllis knitting while everyone watches

DWIGHT: Elevensies...

ANGELA, horrified: Mandatory one minute dance party...

The camera cuts to a shot of the conference room. The door is closed and colored strobe lights leak out from between the blinds.

CREED: Human sacrifice...

Creed at the back of a meeting eating a strawberry fruit roll-up like he’s tearing into raw meat.

KEVIN: Movie Mondays…

Switch to a talking head in Michael's office.

MICHAEL: No, Toby’s not invited to any of it.


SCENE 1 - Conference room

It's a conference room meeting. Michael sulks while Toby reads a message from corporate to the gathered employees. 

TOBY: And lastly, corporate’s provided some guidelines on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Always cover your coughs with a tissue or cough into your elbow. Maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people.

The camera cuts to the full room, twenty people sitting shoulder to shoulder. Angela is wearing a face mask, Stanley is doing a crossword puzzle, and Kelly is clinging to Ryan’s arm. 

TOBY, droning on: Wash your hands often. Before and after eating, after touching any shared surfaces, before and after touching your face, after going to the bathroom --”

MICHAEL, interrupting: What? I touch my face fifty times a day. That’s a thousand times a day. I don’t have time to wash my hands that often. This is a business. I am a businessman - we are businessmen - we are busy.

DARRYL, from the back: You busy today, Mike? Didn’t I see you trying to juggle rocks in the parking lot earlier?

MICHAEL: That was to impress clients.

Toby tries to get control of the meeting again. 

TOBY: Corporate wants to emphasize that with these precautions in place, everything else should be business as usual. That’s it.

OSCAR: That is so typically corporate, prioritizing profits during a global pandemic. We should have been working from home weeks ago.

PAM: Yeah, they’re starting to close schools.

ANGELA, from behind her face mask: As Safety Officer, I insist we order more hand sanitizer. We had a whole case, but it’s almost gone. I think someone here is hoarding it.

The camera breaks away from the scene to show a shot of Meredith at her desk, taken from across the room. She’s squirting Purell into her hand and licking it off. 

Back in the meeting, Michael gets to his feet and brushes Toby out of the way.

MICHAEL: Let’s not get hysterical. Okay? ‘Business as usual.’ We are completely safe. Completely safe. No one is going to get sick, alright? The only way to catch it is from Asians and thankfully we don’t have any, so -

The conference room erupts in groans and protests.

PAM: Michael…

OSCAR: That's misinformation. And racist.

Jim winces at the camera, Toby moves to object. 

MICHAEL, holding up his hands: No. No, no! I just mean that there’s no possible way that any of us is going to catch a stupid little flu virus. Business as usual. No. No, business beyond usual.”


SCENE 2 - Michael’s office

MICHAEL: There’s nothing to worry about. This is the cleanest - safest - Okay. Here’s what I mean. Once Kevin thought he caught leprosy. Leprosy. There was this... lesion on the bottom of his foot and we got out the first aid kit and it turned out to be a raisin. He stepped on a raisin and it stuck to his foot. All that fuss and now we’re out of gauze. Honestly, everyone in this office is a ‘hypnochondriac’.


SCENE 3 - Kitchen

Angela is sitting at the kitchen table, and scrutinizes Kevin as he walks from the bathroom to the refrigerator. Kevin catches Angela staring.

KEVIN: I washed my hands.

ANGELA: And then you wiped them on your pants.


SCENE 4 - Talking head, conference room 

Angela is still wearing a light blue face mask

ANGELA: As Safety Officer, I’ve seen this coming for months. This office is completely unsanitary.

We see a background montage of her fellow employees being unsanitary. Kevin clipping his toenails at the break room table, Phyllis licking her finger to turn the page on her report, Michael digging around in the reception candy dish.

ANGELA: It’s basically a Hooters. No one washes their hands, and everyone smells like ham.


SCENE 5 - Talking head, conference room

PAM: I don’t know. It feels a little ominous? With everything on the news? My cousin Jocelyn lives in Seattle and she says they’re closing schools. Maybe they’ll close down Dunder Mifflin. Maybe then I’d have time to paint.


SCENE 6 - Jim and Dwight’s desk clump

Dwight is typing away. Jim finishes a phone call and  turns his attention to Dwight.

JIM: So, are you worried?

DWIGHT: Never. About what?

JIM: The coronavirus. Don’t you know this? It started in an open air beet market.

DWIGHT: What? Of course not. Where did you hear that? Slander! Take it back.

JIM: It’s true. It’s all over beet Reddit.

DWIGHT: Now I know you’re lying. You’re not on beet Reddit! You’d be banned immediately. For stupidity!

JIM: Can’t be banned. I’m the admin.

DWIGHT: What? How? No you’re not. You don’t know anything. Get back to work.

Jim shrugs and slowly turns back to his computer, a look of pitying concern on his face. There’s a pause and then Dwight leans in. 

DWIGHT, whispering: Which beet market?


SCENE 7 - Talking head, conference room

DWIGHT: Am I prepared? I’m always prepared. I basically treat everyone I meet as if they’re carrying a fatal virus. Patient Zero? Try … Patient Hero.


SCENE 8 - Later that day, open office

The day moves on and the office is about as quiet as usual. We see Angela at her desk wearing a face mask and vigorously applying hand sanitizer. Creed is slurping soup. Everyone else is working.The quiet is broken when Michael bursts out from his office.

MICHAEL:We are in quarantine!

PAM, unalarmed: What happened, Michael?

MICHAEL: I declare this office to be in quarantine!

JIM: That’s a rather extreme reaction.

MICHAEL: Tom Hanks is infected. He’s infected! Is that extreme enough for you, Jim? Do you want Mr. Rogers to die, Jim? If Tom Hanks isn’t safe, we’re not safe. No one is safe! The virus is coming for us and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Except quarantine .

Michael looks panicked and is breathing hard.

PAM: How do you know?

MICHAEL: It was on the news, Pam. Educate yourself! Honestly, Pam! We are in a crisis. This is a trajesty!

Michael’s outburst has caught the attention of the other employees. Dwight has risen to his feet, Oscar has turned in his chair, and Angela nods along in vindication.

JIM: Are you sure you’re not over-reacting? Earlier today you said there was nothing to worry about.

MICHAEL: I - no, I - that was ages ago. This is now. Time has no meaning. Are we willing to just sit by and let germs kill Tom Hanks? Who’s next? Steve Martin?

Kelly, Toby, and Ryan have arrived from the annex.

KELLY: Are we talking about Tom Hanks? Oh my god, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson totally got the coronavirus in Australia. It’s soooo sad! But if I was going to get coronavirus, I’d want it to be in Australia, it’s summer right now and the weather is sooo nice and I’d like probably  meet Chris Hemsworth, and fall in love and -

MICHAEL, frantically cutting her off: Sh-sh-sh, nobody cares! Quarantine! Starting now! 

He begins backing towards his office. 

MICHAEL: Conference room, five minutes!

PAM: Shouldn’t we -

MICHAEL: Five minutes!

He slams his door and snaps the blinds closed.


SCENE 9 - Talking head, conference room

PAM: This is bad. I don’t want to cause undue concern, but I haven’t seen Michael this upset since the Toys R Us closed. Normally, an unusual animal friends video would be enough to distract him, or ice cream, but this is going to take a group effort to calm him down. We’re all in this together.


SCENE 10 - Conference room

The upstairs employees are set up in the conference room. Some have attempted to scoot their chairs as far away from each other as the space will allow: Angela, Dwight, Andy, and Phyllis. Angela is still wearing her mask and has donned plastic food service gloves. Dwight is wearing his yellow hazmat suit. Behind Michael is a classic Michael collage where he’s printed out pictures from the internet and taped them to the wall. Included among them are a picture of a small capuchin monkey, and Tom Hanks and Robert Logia dancing on the big piano from the movie Big.

Michael is wearing a paper mask he made from paperclips and rubber bands. He's also wearing winter gloves and a hoodie cinched tight around his face. He tries to speak, but the mask makes it impossible and he takes it off.

MICHAEL: This is a quarantine. Who knows what that means? I'll tell you. No one goes in or out of this office until the virus has been eradicated. I don’t care how long it takes. We are going to fight this thing. We are going to survive no matter what.

STANLEY: You can’t keep us here, Michael.

PHYLLIS: Some of us have families.

ANGELA: Some of us have cats.

MICHAEL: I can and I will because I care about this office. No one is going to protect us. The government is falling apart, Scranton is-is-is a mess and corporate - corporate is weaksauce! This is for the long haul, people. Get ready. Get ready for the Hunger Games. This is the Thunderdome.

TOBY: We should really wait for more guidance from corporate.

DWIGHT, his voice muffled from inside the hazmat suit: Michael is right. For all we know, corporate has succumbed to the virus and New York City has fallen. By now, David Wallace could have been taken hostage by virus rebels and is being milked of his seed for eventual global repopulation. There’d be no way of knowing.

JIM: You sure? We could text him.

OSCAR: Michael, you’re being irrational. Being crowded in here is the opposite of what we need. We should all be home. We can work remotely. Email. Video conferencing. 

MEREDITH: I’ve got a webcam.

MICHAEL: If you leave this office, you will become inflicted. Afflicted. Infected.

JIM: How do you know one of us isn’t already inflicted?

PAM: That’s true. I saw on Facebook that you can be a carrier and not show any symptoms.

MICHAEL: No - nobody here has it.

PHYLLIS: Why is there a monkey on the wall?

MICHAEL: Good, yes thank you. Thank you, Phyllis. That’s the virus monkey. We must all be on the lookout for the virus monkey because he will bite you and you will die.

PAM: That’s from Outbreak.

MICHAEL: What, no? It’s from the - New York … Times.

KELLY: No, Pam’s right. That’s from the movie Outbreak with Morgan Freeman. Patrick Dempsey from Grey’s Anatomy is in it and he gets scratched by the monkey and gets super sweaty and gross. It’s not a good look.

DWIGHT: The only way to identify the infected is to get tested by an official nasal swab test kit.

OSCAR: But they’re not available to everyone. Michael, we need to just go home and self-isolate.

CREED, who is ignored as usual: I’ve got tests in my car. Loads of them.


SCENE 11 - Talking head, conference room

CREED: I just got back from China. These puppies are going to sell like hot cakes.


SCENE 12 - Conference room cont’d

Back in the meeting, Dwight is getting to his feet to cowboy the meeting. 

DWIGHT: Here’s what’s going to happen. The office will be divided into zones. The weakest will be quarantined to the annex: Creed, Phyllis, Stanley, and Andy.

ANDY: Why me?

DWIGHT: Creed and Phyllis, old. Stanley, diabetes. Andy, weak salesman.

ANDY: Hey…

DWIGHT: Conference room will be the command center. Then I will form an away team to venture out of the office for provisions.


SCENE 12 - Talking head, Dwight

DWIGHT: I have maintained several caches of food, weapons, and comfort items around the Scranton area for exactly this scenario. 

As Dwight speaks we get a couple shots of Dwight with his arm down a storm drain, emerging from a Starbucks bathroom, and coming up from a pond wearing a snorkel.


SCENE 13 - Conference room, cont’d

MICHAEL: I’ll go.

DWIGHT: No! Can’t risk losing the branch manager. Jim, Ryan, suit up.

Camera pans to Jim who pats his shirt - he has nothing to suit up.

KELLY: Can I be quarantined with Ryan?

Ryan slowly shakes his head.

PHYLLIS: Bob and I love quarantine. It’s one of our favorite scenarios in the bedroom.


There is some crosstalk and then it’s broken by a loud sneeze from Kevin. Everyone jumps up.

ANGELA: Kevin! Gross!

KEVIN: It’s allergies!

STANLEY, hustling out of the room: Goooood-bye.

MICHAEL: Stanley! Someone get Stanley back.


SCENE 14 - Talking head, elevators

STANLEY: I am not going to be stuck in that office with those fools. I’ve got three weeks of time-off banked and I’m going to Florida.


SCENE 15 - Break room

Kelly, Oscar, and Ryan are sitting together in the break room. Oscar is reading the news on a laptop, Ryan is scrolling his phone, and Kelly’s looking over Ryan’s shoulder. Kevin is putting quarter after quarter into the vending machine.

KELLY: I’m too distracted to work. I can’t believe we’re in quarantine.

OSCAR: It’s not really a quarantine. Michael can’t actually keep us here.

KELLY: But what if he’s right, what if we leave and we get bitten by the Outbreak monkey?

RYAN: Young people aren’t getting it. This virus is cleaning house.

SCENE 16 - Talking head, conference room

RYAN, smug: Humans are the virus and COVID-19 is the cure. Just think about it. Climate change is ramping out of control and out of nowhere, nature’s perfect solution.


SCENE 17 - Break room, cont’d

Oscar looks at Ryan in disgust. 

OSCAR: That’s deranged. We have weeks if not days until this is a full-blown global disaster. The only responsible course is social distancing.

KELLY: You’re still here.

The sound of Kevin’s quarters is becoming annoying. We see he’s accumulated a stack of sodas and snacks on the table.

OSCAR: Kevin, what are you doing?

KEVIN: Dwight says we need to stockpile food to last at least three months.

OSCAR: Just leave it in the vending machine.

Ryan stands and takes a Coke from the table.

RYAN, on his way out: When the stock market crashes, Funions will be the only currency. Stock up, Kev.


SCENE 18 - Reception

JIM: Day one of quarantine. Are you feeling the pressure yet?

PAM: Yes, it’s getting grim. My yogurt supply is low.

JIM: That’s not good.

PAM: No, it isn’t. Soon we’ll have to resort to cannibalism.

JIM: That escalated quickly.

PAM: These are trying times.

JIM: If you were in quarantine and...

He checks her computer monitor

JIM: And the virus killed FreeCell, what would you do?

PAM: I got some jigsaw puzzles for Christmas.

JIM: Wow, Beesly. Wild. That’s wild.

PAM: One’s a castle …

JIM: Riveting.

PAM: And one’s an old barn…

JIM: Movies.

PAM: What?

JIM: Oh, I thought you were done talking about puzzles and asked me what I’d do in a quarantine. I’d watch movies. Like a normal person.

PAM: Let me guess. Frozen.

JIM: Frozen II, actually.

PAM: Of course.

Michael appears still in his hoodie, but he’s lost his mask and gloves. He’s dragging one of the bigger chairs.

MICHAEL: Are you two flirting? Would you cool it? Pam, I need you to change the outgoing message, alright? Here, write this down: If you are hearing this message Dunder Mifflin Scranton is in full quarantine and we will not be coming out. We will withstand your worst armies.

JIM: Are we hostages now?

MICHAEL: No, Jim, a quarantine. You don’t understand. This is serious. This whole class clown thing you have with the sexy hair, it’s not going to help you in the apocalypse. Make yourself useful and help me barricade the door. Get that end.

He motions for Jim to take the other end of the couch.

PAM: Michael, you can’t block the exits. There could be a fire.

MICHAEL: Jim, Jim, just take it.

JIM: I can’t, my knee. Old hockey injury. Doctor said I shouldn’t move couches for at least two weeks.

Michael straightens up. 

MICHAEL: You never told me you played hockey.

JIM, beginning to mosey away: Didn’t I?

And that’s when Dwight re-enters the office, easily over -stepping the couch, hauling a World War II-style trunk, sweaty and out of breath in his hazmat suit. 

DWIGHT: This is a terrible barricade.


SCENE 19 - Michael’s office

Michael is in his office on speaker phone with David Wallace.

DAVID: Michael, what’s this I hear about you not letting anyone leave?

MICHAEL: It’s a quarantine. I have everything under control.

DAVID: Michael, you are not authorized to do this. Just follow the corporate guidelines.

MICHAEL: The guidelines are a joke. Handwashing? Come on, when has a little soap and water saved anyone’s life? Oh, I’m sorry, Japan, if you’d only washed your hands, Godzilla wouldn’t have destroyed everything. Is handwashing going to stop an earthquake? No. No! 

DAVID: I really need you to stay calm, Michael. Your employees are counting on you to stay calm and provide cautious but practical leadership. Alright?

MICHAEL: That’s easy for you to say in your skyscraper fortress and your family and yacht while we’re down here in the mud mines. If I don’t protect these people, no one will.

DAVID: This is all going to blow over in a couple of weeks. Let the experts handle it.

MICHAEL: And what if the experts are infected? What if the virus has - has - has burrowed into their brains and everything they’re saying is all a trick? All a trick to trick us into leaving our families and dying!

There’s silence on David’s end of the phone. After a moment, he sighs.

DAVID: If would help, we can authorize time-off for anyone who's concerned.

MICHAEL: Go home? And let the virus win? No. No. No. We are bigger than that. Maybe corporate is giving up but we’re not giving up. People need paper now more than ever.

David is silent again.

MICHAEL, to the camera with gravitas: They can take our brains but they can’t take our paper.


SCENE 20 - Kitchen

Dwight, in his hazmat suit, is holding the refrigerator door open. Angela is washing her hands, humming Little Drummer Boy. They don’t look at each other.

DWIGHT: So it’s the end of the world, Monkey. Who knows how this will turn out.

Angela doesn’t look up from washing her hands for a long moment. She turns off the tap, and as she dries her hands, she finally answers.

ANGELA: The usual spot, ten minutes.

Dwight, from behind his plastic hood, smiles. Angela starts to leave the kitchen and just before she exists to the bullpen she pauses. 

ANGELA, not looking at Dwight: Don’t take off the suit.


SCENE 21 - Hallway

Jim is on his cell phone in the hallway. 

JIM: Okay, call you later. Let me know if you need anything. Alright. Bye.

Talking head, conference room

JIM: My brother lives in New York. His, uh, wife’s an EMT.


SCENE 22 - Open office

Out in the bullpen, Dwight is attempting to get the other employees to cooperate. The room is in disarray. Furniture is spread apart and computer cords are stretched to their limit. Everyone is standing around. 

DWIGHT: Desks need to be six feet apart exactly. Inches matter, people.

ANDY: Why don’t you just use a tape measure.

PHYLLIS: Michael broke it during the yo-yo seminar.

DWIGHT: I don’t need a tape measure. The human anatomy states that a man’s wingspan is roughly equal to his height. I am six feet two inches tall. I’ll be coming around to check your work.

Dwight opens his arms wide, his hazmat suit crinkling loudly.


SCENE 23 - Michael’s office

Michael is clicking away on his computer. 

MICHAEL: I just ordered Pay Per View for the whole office. This is going to be the best quarantine the world has ever seen. Bubonic plague won’t have “nuttin” on me.


SCENE 24 - Open office

It’s five o’clock and everyone is on their way out, gathering their things, putting on their coats. Oscar and Kevin dismantle the barricade while others chatter about the pandemic. We hear a few bits of conversation before Michael comes out of his office.

MICHAEL: Alright, everybody, who wants pizza? Quarantine pizza! Wait, where are you going?

OSCAR: We’re going home.

MICHAEL: No, you can’t. Don’t you - that’s what the virus wants. We have to stay together and fight this thing.

Michael moves to block the way. There are calls of protest.

DWIGHT: I have manure to spread. There’s a backlog.

MEREDITH: I’m not missing Top Chef. That Colicchio can get it.

KEVIN: I also have something to do.

MICHAEL: No, no, I won’t let you. By the power vested in me by the state of Pennsylvania I declare quarantine.

JIM: Michael, you have to let them go.

PAM: Don’t you have improv tonight? You never miss it.

MICHAEL: Improv is cancelled. There was too much touching last time.

Creed is the first to slip out.

CREED: There’s a run on the bank.

Others begin to follow Creed’s lead and Michael does nothing to stop them, eventually moving completely out of the way. He looks deflated. Soon, no one is left except Jim and Pam. We can see they want to get on their way, but Pam steps to Michael.

PAM: It’s going to be okay.

MICHAEL, starting to hold back tears: No, it isn’t. The virus is going to win and the world's going to fall apart.

Pam pauses before continuing.

PAM: Maybe you’re right. But we just have to keep going.

MICHAEL, muffled, rubbing his face: Like Dory.

JIM: Who?

MICHAEL: Dory from Finding Dory. Just keep swimming.

PAM: Right, like Dory. We’ll all just do our best. Keep on swimming.

She looks to Jim for confirmation.

JIM: Right. Just go home and relax. And we’ll see you tomorrow.


PAM: Yeah. We’ll see you tomorrow.


PAM: Business as usual.

MICHAEL, seeming calmer, but not quite believing it: Business as usual.


SCENE 25 - Michael’s office

MICHAEL: A wise man once said, ‘if you love something, let it go.’ I’ve never understood that. If you love something you have to hang on. Tight. And … never let it go. No matter if they try to run away, or how scared you are, or how hard things get -- that’s what she … said …

He begins to say, ‘that’s what she said, but he stops, swallows a lump in his throat, makes a hesitating smile and continues. 

MICHAEL: When things get bad, you have to stick together. Come hell or high water or downsizing or Outbreak monkeys ... in the end, it’s staying close.

As he talks we see the last of the office leaving for the day. Jim and Pam are sitting in the car looking at Jim’s phone. Phyllis is talking with Bob Vance (Vance Refrigeration) by his big truck. After a beat we see Creed trying and failing to act casual as he smuggles too many rolls of toilet paper under his coat. 

MICHAEL: And if you can’t be together, you just have to find another way to hang on.

We cut back to Michael at his desk, nodding to himself. 

MICHAEL: And it’ll all be okay.

The camera lingers a moment. Michael thinks he’s left the work day with something profound even if he hasn’t fully convinced himself. Then his phone starts chirping a notification. He checks it and turns it around for the camera. It shows a bouncing green button with the words ‘Video call from Jim’. Michael smiles.


The End