Title: A Cautionary Tale

Author: Kazzoh

Rating: T

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended

Summary: What if Albert Eberts' love of order and neatness got out of control? And what if Fawkes and Hobbes pushed him over the edge?

Comments: A weird and warped little idea that bit and wouldn't let go until I gave it full rein! Inspired by Eberts' drug induced ramblings in Going Postal and shows what can happen when you push a man too far...

A Cautionary Tale

It had to be done, there was no other option: he'd tried everything to make them listen, to understand. All to no avail. Why had he even made the effort? They smiled their condescending little smiles, nodded their insincere agreements, but never intended to treat the essential tasks assigned to them with the reverence and gravity they deserved.

Eberts shuddered as his thoughts strayed to the atmosphere a typical day with the 'help' of Fawkes and Hobbes created; confusion, disharmony, frustration and despair reigned in a place where calm, order and satisfaction at a job well done should pervade.

"Hey Ebes, chill out man, it's only paper," Darien would assert confidently if censured about his clumsy inefficiency. How little he knew; Darien's character made him ill-suited to the rigours of administration. He was too spontaneous and careless, with too little regard for uniformity and rules.

But Hobbes? Hobbes should have been the type of person to understand the need for order. Sure, he was a man of action, but his background was in the military, where following commands without question was a way of life: spit and polish and beds so perfect you could bounce a dime on them. In the Forces a person could adopt the mindset and learn the skills necessary to become an administrative giant.

There was one perfect moment he could recall when he'd thought Robert might have grasped the inner beauty of his work. They'd bonded over injuries received in the field – gunshot wounds and paper cuts: seemingly worlds apart, yet both received in the line of duty. There were many ways to serve one's country. However, it had been a fleeting moment of synergy, as insubstantial as a dawn mist vaporised by the morning sun. Darien's influence was too strong, infecting his partner with his own prejudices and condemning them both to a life of chaos and disorder.

How dare the gung-ho types think they were the elite? Where would their missions and little wars be if it weren't for the accountants and logistics experts? Who would ensure they could afford their expensive toys? Who would make certain there were sufficient supplies to meet their needs?

Napoleon; now there was a man who understood the importance of details. His army was famous for its organisation and attention to logistical matters. The great man himself had observed "an army marches on its stomach" and who ensured the food was there to feed those stomachs? The pencil pushers and form fillers whose lives were spent liaising with producers and transport providers, that's who!

Eberts was unappreciated even by his own employer. The Official depended on him every single day in a thousand different ways, but still the Fat Man never acknowledged his worth. No one did. The Agency itself would have closed down years ago had it not been for his own inimitable ability to leech every single cent from a specified source. He could track down every avenue in search of funding, whether through convoluted paper trails or high-tech cyber searches.

When Eberts had tried to broach the subject of Fawkes and Hobbes' insubordinate attitude and sloppy behaviour, the Official had dismissed the seriousness of the situation.

"Deal with it Eberts, that's your job," he had barked. So, Eberts was dealing with it. Not in the manner the Official would envisage, but efficiently nonetheless.

Generals weren't the only ones capable of meticulous, precision planning. This operation had taken months to prepare for, with hundreds of man-hours devoted to the scheme. Every angle had been covered; every single file had been copied and stockpiled. All were essential in their own small way.

Just time for one last check to ensure there would be no problems. Opening the door to his beloved filing room, he stared in horror at the scene before him. It broke his heart to see the carnage wrought in this place. Folders tortured and twisted into unnatural shapes, papers torn and discarded with savage disregard and cabinet drawers left unclosed. Perfect symmetry destroyed for the sake of disinterest.

It was taking all his willpower to leave untouched the mutilated files strewn around by those two heathens. A voice in his head screamed for retribution and he intended to comply. Nodding in grim satisfaction he gently closed the door – everything was in place. There were always sacrifices to be made when resolving any conflict. He swiftly moved down the dimly lit corridor, eager to reach the sanctuary of his own perfectly ordered little world.

His office was a beacon of hope in the run-down and disorganised Agency. The room was spotlessly clean, with a place for everything and everything in its place: his mother had taught him well. Trying to bring order to chaos was a demanding job, but Eberts had pledged himself to the task and he would not be thwarted by a couple of miscreants.

"Morning Ebes," came Darien's voice as he appeared at the office door.

No! Not in this pristine haven. Look at the man! Even his appearance was an assault on the eyes. Day-glow orange shirt, rumpled brown pants, and the hair! It didn't just defy gravity, it proclaimed defiance of the natural order. In short, the whole dishevelled ensemble was an affront to decency.

Eberts rushed to the door to prevent Fawkes from entering and contaminating his inner sanctum.

"The Official wants you both in the filing room this morning," he blurted as he saw Hobbes standing just behind his partner. "There is a great deal of clearing up to be done."

"Why bother? It's just a waste of time and effort," Darien moaned unhappily. "Why can't we just dump all the junk into the cylindrical file I like to call the trash can?"

That statement sealed their fate. Eberts hid his look of horror and watched without expression as they ambled down the corridor. There was no turning back now. When Hobbes reached out a hand to open the filing room door, he re-entered his office, quietly counting down to zero.

BOOM! The detonation shook the whole building as the pressure of their footfalls triggered the explosives hidden beneath the mess of files on the floor. Problem dealt with!

Eberts took no particular pleasure in the outcome, but order had to be maintained. It was his reason for being, his credo. The new filing room was all ready to go on the second floor. Score one more for forward planning. Calmly picking up the phone he began dialling the number for the clean-up crew….

The End