A Typical Day - Epilogue by Manchester
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters and also any and all characters from whatever media presented here are the property of their original owners.
Mark Brainerd courteously hid his grin, even though he was now walking away from the utility room, with his back turned to the clatter of DH getting ready the trash cart in order to clear out the bureaucrat’s vegetable-crammed cubicle. Even though he genuinely liked the other man, it still struck him as pretty funny, having someone from a Star Wars movie parody wind up being forced to serve his contempt of court sentence by working as a janitor for the ISWC. Exactly how that precise form of employment had come about in the first place was steadfastly glossed over by his new pal also stubbornly refusing throughout this man’s daily cleaning duties to discontinue wearing a cherished oversize chapeau.
The trainee Watcher could’ve just asked around Personnel as to the specific reasons why Lord Dark Helmet had finally been assigned here. However, Mark had the feeling he already knew, based on his own bureaucratic experiences. It’d probably been due to a series of ancillary ISWC paper-pushers forwarding along to this organization’s other departments both a problem and the accompanying absurdly-clad nuisance until they stopped hearing complaints about it and him. One good feature about the entire affair was that for once, Mark hadn’t been involved in any way over this unlike his many other recent encounters with the weirdest possible people.
In fact, after yet another messy consequence in his cubicle from successfully enlisting Gloop and Gleep from the Herculoids which ended with the floor throughout there covered in whitish goop, Mark had tiredly called Building Maintenance, put in a ticket for an additional vacuuming chore at his workplace, and he went off to lunch with squishing shoes. Coming back an hour later, Mark had expected anything but how spotless his cubicle now appeared. It even smelled fresh and minty clean.
His mother had raised him properly, so Mark went off to find and thank whomever had done such a fine job. Though, he definitely hadn’t expected the outcome of his search to finish with meeting a nefarious master of the Schwartz currently sulking in a janitor’s closet. In turn, a near-powerless Lord Dark Helmet was both astonished and touched that for the first time in ages, someone was actually being nice
Their ensuing lengthy chat about just how DH had found himself here and why Mark’s cubicle needed such an extensive scrubbing soon producing a beginning camaraderie among the pair. Partly, because each came to feel rather sorry for the other person. It wasn’t like they normally met anybody with what seemed to be an even worse career path than theirs, so the bureaurcrat and the new janitor started sympathizing with their latest acquintance. It eventually turned into real friendship, which Mark was decidedly grateful for, considering how many other ISWC personnel were treating him like an old-style leper. In those bastard’s recent attitudes, Mark really should be carrying a continuously-rung handbell accompanied by his warning cries of “Unclean! Unclean!”
Morosely kicking aside a few sugar beets lying on the corridor floor while passing by his jam-packed cubicle (also observing with some concern how the walls of this office enclosure were definitely bulging outwards), the trainee Watcher felt his stomach rumble with real hunger. Distracted from his sudden bad mood over how unfairly he was being treated, Mark decided it was well past time for lunch, and the man picked up his pace to head for the building cafeteria. Mark wasn’t sure yet what he’d order there and then go off to eat this meal in his usual lonely spot at the far end of the dining room seated solely by himself at a table. Almost certainly, though, it wouldn’t be the vegetable soup.
An exhausted Mark finished typing an e-mail response on his computer, read the whole thing once more to make sure this memo was reasonably coherent, and with a few more keystrokes, he sent it off to the message’s bothersome recipient. Slumping back in his chair, the bureaucrat groaned under his breath at the digital numbers displayed on the taskbar at the bottom of his monitor screen. Just like the last couple of days, he’d had to work tonight well past his usual quitting time. All because of a certain Homeworld Security general who insisted nobody but good ol’ Mark Brainerd could answer his never-ending inquiries. How many was it now…?
Opening his work e-mail in-box, Mark counted in there and he found out for both this morning at home and also today’s whole shift, he’d had to undertake exactly fourteen additional tasks allocated to him by General O’Neill. Moreover, this needed to be done while in turn having to busily enlist those bizarre applicants from whatever strange dimensions they’d come from to fight in Code Ragnarok. And
in the entire latter process, usually enduring some wacky side-effect of those interviews upon his health, sanity, and working conditions.
At that point a very disdainful look by Mark was sent around his cubicle at the long, colorful peacock feathers sprouting from every few inches throughout the walls. These new avian wall decorations vertically affixed there reached downwards for their tips to brush against the office floor.
Oh, the hell with it. That could wait for tomorrow. But, first--
Turning off his computer, Mark next opened his top desk drawer all the way out. He removed from the very back of this storage compartment his newest stress reliever. It was a soft, plastic Bart Simpson doll in all that little troublemaker’s yellow-skinned glory. However, there was a significant difference for this children’s toy from any other Matt Groening merchandise.
Glued onto the impudent face of Bart was an identically-sized newspaper photograph from General Jonathan J. “Jack” O’Neill’s first press conference when the news of Code Ragnarok was finally revealed to the public at large. One last minor detail were the painstakingly-removed eyeholes of this Air Force officer’s picture, allowing the doll’s original orbs of sight to blankly stare past the thin, covering paper.
Holding up at his chest level the Bart doll with both hands loosely wrapped around the small figurine’s neck, Mark’s own face now bore a most disquieting evil smile. A second later, the bureaucrat’s fingers forcefully clenched together with impressive quickness and strength, squashing the flexible plastic hard enough to result in the doll’s eyes popping out on slender stalks.
Continuing to viciously strangle the fetish-like representation of a very infuriating military man, Mark allowed a loud, guttural “UUUURRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!” to escape from his lips.
Only when his scrunched fingers started hurting did Mark let go of the doll’s neck, which caused its eyes to pop back in while slowly regaining its original shape. When the pain from his hands subsided a bit, Mark then absently muttered to himself, “Right, that’s one
Outside the row of mostly-deserted cubicles, things had abruptly stopped in mid-work among a good part of the night shift elsewhere in the Personnel department. Besides the couple of Slayers there, a few more individuals (human and otherwise) had sufficiently keen hearing to listen at exactly what was coming from a certain spot:
Wary glances were then traded with others out of the corners of their eyes, and thoughtful expressions showed inward calculations of their chances regarding an inter-departmental transfer from out of here to anywhere else as soon as possible.
Maybe even faster, if they resorted to actual bribery.
Well on his way to the desired number of doing this fourteen times in total, an unaware trainee Watcher made a further contribution to his growing legend.
Mark Brainerd woke up in his bed at precisely that time, and he then screamed at the top of his lungs for also exactly twenty-seven seconds. No more, no less…