Flash Fiction: “The Cleaner”

The supervisor got into the elevator without a word, leaving Megan slack-jawed on the fifth-floor landing, the mop slowly sliding from her grasp.
Surrounded by glass walls, the eyes of all the self-obsessed ants sitting at their desks in the open plan office beyond were on her, crawling all over her like even smaller, hungrier insects, desperate to know what had been said. As if seeing her gorilla of a supervisor pointing his finger in her face for the last five minutes with his other hand on his considerable hips, as if he were her father scolding her, didn’t give them enough of an idea.
It was partly her own fault this had happened.
But mostly theirs.

Megan allowed herself to look through the window and saw them smiling at each other, imitating the shapes and gesticulations of her supervisor only moments ago, hushing each other when one of them realized she was watching.
How hard could cleaning offices be, she asked herself three months ago, when she put herself back on the job market after a long, injury-induced layoff. Granted, it was something of a monumental stepdown in the type of work she had been doing, but this was less likely to get her killed.
However this had been the third dressing down in as many months.
Because she apparently was not doing her job properly.
The irony.
One of the most thorough cleaners in the underworld being accused of not being very good at cleaning in the first world.
These people were pigs, either ignorant or fully aware of the fact that it was they who were creating and maintaining the sty they rolled about in every day, with a unique collective gift for being able to refill wastepaper baskets to overflowing and restore clean desk surfaces to mosaics of coffee cup rings within seconds of Megan having just swept through.

Megan was only here for a couple of hours each evening.
Even if she could clone herself and shadow each one of the these grown children all day from 8am to 6pm, it would be impossible to keep the place as clean as her supervisor insisted it should be.
The only way that was going to become a reality was if these assholes weren’t here at all.

Decision made, Megan pushed through onto the studio floor, wheeling the mop and bucket in front of her.
Nine dicks on this floor.
She had to restrain herself from snapping the mop handle over her knee. She reckoned she could take three of them out before any of the others even realized what was happening. Blind the big one who looked like a linebacker temporarily with the blackened water and detergent from the bucket, then smash the faces of the remainder in with the bucket itself. She’d come up with a way to finish Big Boy during. She liked to think on her feet like that. Kept things interesting.
But not today.
No sense making that kind of mess. Was only going to fall to her to clean it up, and she wasn’t able to claim the overtime.
So to hell with that.
Plus there were the other two floors to consider, and the twenty-odd extra people to be dispensed with. Megan was good. But it was going to be hard to blow through almost thirty people without picking up a defensive injury of one kind or another.
She knew nothing about these idiots, apart from their unbelievable inability to clean up after themselves. It was prudent to do research on a mark first. For all she knew, one of this lot could have decent martial arts training. It was the in thing, these days. Nothing up to her standards, she could safely assume. But with her not being match-fit, it wasn’t something she savored.
No, this was going to have be tackled in a much cleaner way.

She emerged out into the kitchen on the far end of the floor to find two of the younger women whispering excitedly and removing a large chocolate cake from the refrigerator.
“Oh, whose birthday is it?” Megan enquired.
One of them laughed as if to say what’s it to you, while the other plain blanked her. They positioned the cake on the countertop. ‘Brian’ was written in white across it. One said something about going to round everyone up, while the other ducked around the corner, saying she was going to keep Brian at his desk.
“Take your time,” Megan said under her breath. She unscrewed the locket from the chain around her neck. A keepsake, for want of a better word, from her mentor, its contents were intended for her use only, and only in the event of her being in a situation where there was no chance of escape, only the chance of a fate worse than proverbial death.
She sprinkled the fine crystals evenly across the icing, watching them dissolve and absorb. This much would kill an adult instantaneously if ingested in a single go. But spread thinly like this, between thirty, it would take hours to do its job, slowly and more uncomfortably.
Which was very acceptable.
As Megan fixed her locket back into position, the two girls returned to light the candles.

The supervisor said he was going to be back in two days to check on her progress, and that things better have improved.
For her sake.
She was sure he was going to be impressed by what he found.
She really hoped he would be.
For his sake.

4 Replies to “Flash Fiction: “The Cleaner””

  1. Excellent story! I love the idea of the magical sequestered in the mundane. It makes me wonder why Megan is here with us, and what hold our world has on her. Well done, sir.

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