|Summary:||Not a typical day in the life of two Postal agents.|
|Published:||February 25, 2012.|
|Rating:||PG/K+ - Misanthropic language.|
Durotar was not comfortable with this new assignment. It wasn’t what he expected to be given, since his average day involved riding a desk in the Postal Department. He walked down the hall with his partner Kur’nak at his side. They were going to make a delivery, but they didn’t have one of the familiar carts that they usually relied on. Durotar looked at the list in his hands. That was usual enough, at least. It had a column for RCs and another column listing the name of the intended recipients. There was a third column as well, but the mini preferred not to think about that one too much.
Kur’nak was waving to the people they passed. He got quite a few strange looks from agents that were not familiar with him. It was understandable, really. He was over six and a half feet tall and built like a wall. It was unsettling having something that big flash a tusked smile at you. The skipping didn’t do much to help matters, either.
The mini Wrathguard looked back to the list. The first stop was at RC 2985, but there was a note after the number, which said “good luck.” He sighed. Why couldn’t anything be easy? He looked at the numbers on the doors they were passing. 1986, 73, 16202535, 314, 1986. He was about to give up on 2985 when he looked directly at a curtain, tie-dyed in a number of Suvian colors, and had to stop to rub his eyes.
“Who in their right mind would put that up?” the mini inquired of the multiverse. “There has to be some law against things like that. Kur’nak, come with me. I’m gonna give the person responsible a piece of my mind.” His muscular tail twitched with irritation. He managed to find the door frame with his eyes closed and knocked as best he could with his tiny clawed hand. He waited for a reply and, after a moment, a light flicked on behind the horrendous eye-sore of a curtain.
“Whadaya want?” said a groggy voice from inside the RC. A few seconds later, a mass of fluffy hair emerged from behind the curtain. A hand followed and brushed away some of the hair, revealing a bespectacled agent’s face. She looked to the most obvious person, who was standing in front of her door, for answers. “Well, Hulk? What do you want?”
Kur’nak was taken aback by being directly addressed by someone he didn’t know, and fell back on his stock answer in such situations. “Not s’pposed to talk to strangers.” He tried to hide behind Durotar as best he could.
“He is Kur’nak, not Hulk,” said the mini, drawing himself up to his full two-and-a-half feet. “I would like to have a word with you concerning the monstrosity that is currently serving as your door. You could put someone’s eye out with that thing.”
The agent at the door looked down at the mini for a moment. “Listen. It is the middle of the night. I just got back from a particularly horrendous Pokémon mission and I want to sleep. Can we do this some other time?”
Another voice called out from the recesses of the RC. “July? Who is it?”
“Some tiny guy wants us to take down the curtain.”
Something in the exchange registered with the mini and he checked his list again. “Wait, are you Agent July Flame of RC 2985?”
“Yeah, that’s me,” she said, sounding a little worried that Durotar knew her name. She started reaching back into the RC for her sledgehammer, just in case.
“Thank the Light,” exclaimed the mini. “I’ve been looking for you. I was sent to tell you that the viral clip of your singing has been so popular that the Postal Department has decided to start up a singing telegram service. As our way of saying thank you for providing the inspiration for it, we decided to deliver the first one to you.”
Mention of the infamous clip brought a look of almost terror to July’s face. She was at a loss for words.
Durotar cleared his throat and announced to the hallway, “Agent July Flame, this song was sent to you from your friends in the Postal Department.” He took a breath and launched into the song.
You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain
Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will, oh what a thrill
Goodness gracious great balls of fire
Durotar’s smooth baritone was highlighted by Kur’nak, who had mysteriously acquired a case of the hiccups when the song started. Several agents passing by stopped to see what was going on. The larger the crowd grew, the more brilliant the shade of red July turned.
I cut my nails and I quiver my thumb
I’m real nervous ’cause it sure is fun
Come on baba, you drive me crazy
Goodness gracious great balls of fire
The song finished up with Kur’nak hiccuping a few more times. The gathered crowd clapped and catcalled before going back to whatever they’d been doing. July was frantically trying to pretend that that hadn’t just happened.
Durotar was awkwardly trying to figure out what he was supposed to do. They had not instructed him on what to do after the songs. He had to improvise. “Well,” he said. “Now that you’ve heard the plan . . . I’m gonna go and show the plan to . . . somebody else. Come on, Kur’nak.”
July went silently back into her RC. She was looking forward to getting back to sleep and forgetting about this.
“It was actually quite good,” said Library from her own bed.
“Go back to sleep,” grumbled July as she turned out the light.
Durotar and Kur’nak had found their way to the matte black hallway that was the home of the Department of Implausible Crossovers. They were on the lookout for RC 999, where they were to deliver a surprise to Agent Supernumerary.
When they came up to the door, Durotar remembered making a delivery there before. It was hard to mistake the Star Trek-style sliding door. He had Kur’nak knock. They didn’t wait long for a reply.
The door slid open to reveal a tall man with black hair and a hip flask. “Can I help you?” he said, dryly.
“Agent Supernumerary?” asked Durotar, as he double checked his list.
“That’s me.” Nume was looking at them in a way that brought to Durotar’s mind images of measuring tapes and calipers. “You’re from Postal? Put it in the corner and move on.” He motioned to an area inside the RC.
“You misunderstand, sir. It’s not that kind of delivery.”
Nume raised an eyebrow. “What sort of delivery is it, then?”
Durotar began to recite the lines that had been given to him. “Agent Supernumerary, we are here to deliver a singing telegram on behalf of Nurse Jennifer Robinson of the Department of Fictional Psychology. She would like us to sing ‘Memory’ from the musical Cats.”
“Like hell you are,” Nume exclaimed. “I’m not going to put up with Jenni’s perverse joke.”
Durotar was at a loss. He hadn’t been prepared for someone refusing to listen to a song. “Um . . . in that case, I will move on to the next song on the list. Nurse Mirrad has also requested that we sing ‘Memory’ from Cats.”
“What? I expected better than this from a Minbari. Skip it.”
“Next is from the Kudzu.”
“Oh, let me guess,” said Nume, the sarcasm dripping from his voice. “‘Memory’ from Cats, again?”
“Um . . . yes.”
“And just how many songs were you supposed to sing for me?”
“Right, well, let’s get this done quickly, then. If you have even one song on that list that isn’t from FicPsych, then I’ll listen. However, I doubt that’s the case, so I bid you a fond go the hell away.” Nume turned to go back into his RC.
“Actually, sir,” said the mini. “There is one request on the list that isn’t from FicPsych.”
“Oh, for the love of . . . I’m not listening to it.”
<But Nume,> said a voice in their heads, <you did say that if there was a song that wasn’t from FicPsych, that you would listen to it. It is only right that you should keep your word.> Durotar could just see a bladed blue tail in the RC.
“This doesn’t concern you, Ilraen. Ugh, fine. I’ll listen to this one song if it will make my partner shut up and you go away.”
“Excellent,” said Durotar. “This is from Agent Barid of the All-Purpose Department.”
“Oh, Jesus Christ!”
Durotar began to sing. “Memory, all alone in the moonlight—” It was at that point that Nume closed the door on them.
“Well . . . ” said Durotar, after a moment. “I . . . guess we go to the next stop on the list. Which is . . . ?” He consulted the list. “Looks like we’re headed for the kitchens, Kur’nak. Lyn, Jof, and Mohan get to hear you sing. You remember the song, right?”
“Yup!” exclaimed the smiling Orc. He sang as they walked down the black hallway.
It’s a piece of cake to bake a pretty cake
If the way is hazy,
You gotta do the cooking by the book
You know you can’t be lazy
Never use a messy recipe,
The cake will end up crazy
If you do the cooking by the book,
Then you’ll have a cake!
A short time after their delivery to the kitchens, Durotar and Kur’nak were finishing up a very special delivery. Durotar stood in the doorway to the Nursery as Kur’nak sang “The Happy Assassin Song” to the children. The big Orc loved the song, and it showed in the volume of his singing. Many of the adults in the room wore smiles, though the occasional wince gave them the lie. Some of the younger kids were singing along. A few of the older kids, who were obviously too cool to care about “The Happy Assassin Song,” were sitting in the corner playing the PPC Card Game. This last group included at least two of the Still Bellisario kids and Marsha, in her human disguise.
Making use of the distractions, Durotar pulled Teyala, the Asari that worked with the younger children, out into the hall to have a discussion.
“Kur’nak certainly is enjoying himself, isn’t he?” she asked.
“He is,” said Durotar, wringing his tiny, clawed hands.
Teyala knelt down to put herself at the mini-Wrathguard’s eye level. “Is there something you wanted to talk to me about?” She had obviously noticed his nervousness.
“I . . . well . . . “ Durotar was not exactly sure how to begin. “It’s like this. I’ve been taking care of Kur’nak for as long as either of us can remember. I just think it’s time to . . . make it official?”
“You’d like to adopt Kur’nak,” Teyala offered helpfully.
“Yes,” agreed Durotar. “I want to adopt him.”
“I think you’re already a wonderful father figure. I’ll be happy to help.” She smiled and stood up. “Now, we should get back in there. The song ended thirty seconds ago.”
In all of his nervousness, Durotar hadn’t noticed how quiet it had become. “Yeah, we need to get going. We’ve got more deliveries to make. I just hope he hasn’t started playing yet. You know how hard it can be to pull him away from the building blocks,” he said as they returned to the Nursery.
Kur’nak, having finished his grand solo for his friends in the Nursery, was now being used as a jungle gym by some of the younger children. He was sitting in the middle of a large group, carefully picking one child or another off of himself, and gently putting them down on the floor. The children quite enjoyed this game.
“Kur’nak,” called Durotar. “Say goodbye to your friends for now. We have more singing to do.”
The Orc looked over at Durotar for a moment before he gave a begrudging nod. He looked at the laughing children in his massive hands (one happened to be an upside-down Helen Still Bellisario, the other was Henry Robinson) and gently put them down on their backs.
“I’ll be back later,” he rumbled to the gathered kids. “Gotta go do ’mportant singin’ stuff.”
There was a collective “aww” as he stood up. Teyala expertly moved in before the crowd got restless. “Who wants to finger paint?” she asked. The children all seemed to think this was an excellent idea.
Once Durotar and Kur’nak were a fair distance down the hallway, the mini checked the list for their next delivery. He found that he had begun looking forward to these deliveries, now; they were quite fun. “Oh my,” he said. “I’m going to need your back-up on this one, big guy. We’re going to go sing to Agent Suicide and ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ just isn’t the same without the whistling. Have you been practicing?”
“Uh huh!” said Kur’nak. He put his lips together and blew a raspberry.
It would have to do.
The elevator doors opened and the Postal duo stepped out, into the alien gray corridors of Upstairs. In truth, the halls Upstairs (if it really was up) were exactly the same as the passages in the rest of Headquarters. They felt alien, though.
The agents walked down a long, doorless hallway. This was not unusual; the Flowers liked their privacy, and a seemingly endless, empty corridor was an excellent deterrent to anyone who wasn’t really fully committed to whatever issue they came to protest. It also gave the Flowers lots of time to be somewhere else, in case someone who was fully committed came along with a flamethrower.
It took a while for the doorway at the end of the hall to come into view, and even longer for it to get any closer. Eventually, the door seemed to decide that they weren’t going to go away, and the intervening distance shrank too quickly. It was a generic door; only the plaque setting it apart from an infinite number of other doors in Headquarters. The plaque read “Sunflower Official” in important-looking letters.
Durotar knocked this time, just to be safe, and they waited for a reply.
It came in the form of a mental voice, which said, I’m not here.
This was not unexpected. The Postal Department was used to all manner of lame excuses from Flowers and agents. “I’m sorry, sir,” said the mini. “But you are, quite obviously, here.”
No, I’m not.
“Sir, we’re from the Postal Department. We have a delivery to make.”
Leave it with the secretary.
“Sir, you know you don’t have a secretary.”
Then leave it on the floor. I’ll get it when I return from wherever I’ve gone.
“I can’t leave it on the floor, sir. It is a verbal message. There is nothing to physically leave.”
There isn’t? Well, why didn’t you say that in the first place?
The door opened of its own accord, admitting the Postal workers into the office. It was a spartan room. The walls, ceiling, and floor were the same generic gray as the hallway. The metallic desk in the middle of the room was the only furniture. The Sunflower didn’t have chairs. Chairs are for people who will be staying a while. The Flower was behind the desk in his well-tailored suit.
“Glad to see you’ve returned, sir,” said Durotar with a grin.
Yes, of course. It was a long journey, I’m sure. Now, deliver your message and be about your business. I don’t pay you to dawdle.
Durotar decided not to bring up the fact that the SO didn’t pay him for anything. Instead, he got down to business. “Sir, we were sent to deliver a singing telegram from one of your agents, who would like to remain anonymous, in the Department of Mary Sues.”
What. The Flower wilted a little and Durotar began to sing.
You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me crazy
When halls are grey.
You’ll never know, boss,
How much I loathe you.
Please just take the badfic away
The other night, boss,
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed you signed my request for leave.
When I awoke, boss,
I was mistaken
And I hung my head and cried.
The song went on for a bit, the SO looking more and more like he needed a stiff cocktail of water and Nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Eventually Durotar got to the final verse.
You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me crazy
When halls are grey.
You’ll never know, boss,
How much I loathe you.
Please just take the badfic away.
There was a moment of silence after the song was complete. Then Durotar heard a sound. It started in low. Then it started to grow. But the sound wasn’t glad. Why, this sound sounded mad. Every leaf on the SO, the big and the small, was shaking.
May I ask, projected the SO in a tight voice, whose idea was it to distribute these . . . singing telegrams, did you call them?
Durotar had a sudden urge to be anywhere but this office. “Um . . . that would be Otik, sir.”
I will have to have a talk with him. In the meantime . . . He flicked out a leaf to activate a switch on his desk. The switch didn’t seem to be connected to anything. There was a sound like feedback that echoed through the heads of everyone in HQ. Attention all staff of the Protectors of the Plot Continuum. There are to be no more singing telegrams from this time forward. Also, if I find out who sent one to me, they will be transferred to the Department of Fresh Fertilizer Acquisition for the rest of eternity. That is all.
The switch was flicked again and the SO turned back to Durotar and Kur’nak. Durotar was nervous and sweating. Kur’nak was picking his nose. Now, get out of my office and, when you get back to the Postal Department, tell Otik that I would like a word with him.
“Yes, sir!” said Durotar, a little too loudly. He hurried out of the office, dragging Kur’nak by the hand while the Orc waved over his shoulder at the SO. They found that the hallway outside the door was much shorter than it had been. The elevator was a mere five yards away.
The mini turned to the Orc once they were in the elevator. “I’m actually kind of glad we’re done. I wasn’t looking forward to singing ‘Daisy, Daisy’ to the Marquis de Sod.”
The doors closed.
So, that was the end result of the Viral Sound-clip Incident. I am sure the Durotar would like to forget that this ever happened.
Thanks to my beta, VM, without whom this would be less coherent.
More thanks go out to July, Neshomeh, VM, Tungsten Monk, and Miah for the use of their characters. I hope I have returned them in good condition.