Clean Up. Short Story.

Hope everyone’s week is going well! Mines ok, got flu vaccinations yesterday, so my arm is kinda sore. It was given to me in my left arm so it was slightly difficult to fall asleep as I sleep on my left, didn’t even occur to me at the time to ask for it to be done on my other arm. Oh well. I’ll try to remember next time.

Damn righties, screwing everything up for everyone.

Beyond that it’s been a pretty uneventful week, I’ve been a little sick since monday, still a little off but getting better at least! I’ve finally finished The Night Circus. I don’t know how to feel about the ending at all. It was really good, but a different ending would have evoked a stronger emotional response from me. I mean I’m glad it ended how it ended, but it would have been a bit better if it had of gone down a different road. Am I being vague enough for you? Still, the book as a whole is really good, I would recommend it to anyone. Now I’ve to find another book to read. I have some on my shelves that are unread, but it’s a case of figuring out what I’m in the mood for and what book seems most interesting and all that. It’s surprisingly difficult to choose sometimes. I may go into town and go to a book shop, see if I stumble across anything. that can be fun too.
On with the show!

———————————————————————————————–

Clean Up.

He looked at the puddle of blood, it was strange, the way the light gleamed on it. It almost appeared oily. God it was everywhere. What a mess, a mess that he had no interest in cleaning. Still, it was his job and he’d do it and do it well. The smell was strong, but it didn’t bother him. He was well used to it by now. Just one of those annoying things that you have to deal with. He sometimes considered getting a mask, maybe putting some oils on it to filter the smell, but it seemed like too much hassle. He took the mop from the bucket and started to wipe at the blood. It was longer this way, much faster to use a cloth and get up the bulk first, but he was in no real rush. There was plenty of time for this job and once it was over he was done for the day. Quickly the water became pink, then a dark brown. Probably from the filth on the floor. Who knew when it had been last cleaned, there would be a mark where he had cleaned everything up when he was done. A single clean spot. Ah well. The mopping was repetitive and surprisingly relaxing. He changed the water when it became too dirty and continued on. The constant rhythm, dip, squeeze, wipe, dip, squeeze wipe. Before he knew it the floor was clean and, as he predicted, there was now a spot of green on the otherwise grey floor. He emptied the bucket then filled it again, donning gloves and finding the rag, he began to work on the walls. Christ. They were always so messy. How hard is it to keep everything contained. At least there was nothing on the ceiling this time. That was a plus. The walls were white, he had thought they were cream. Oh well. He emptied the water one final time and put everything away, walking down to the van. At least this place had running water, no lugging a heavy bucket around. He went back up to the room and looked over it carefully. There was no remnant of blood, the mix in the water would ensure nothing would show up anywhere. Scentless chemicals, added to the water, they left no trace and after a few moments they were undetectable. He had carried another bucket up with him, he took a filthy rag from his back pocket then got down on hands and knees and began to scrub. Soon the clean spot was gone, not even noticeable. He stood, then did the spots on the wall, when he was finished, it looked as though they room hadn’t even been entered. Good. Just the way it was supposed to be. With everything packed and ready to go he left the room, heading for the dank, dungy stairs. It was always the same, creepy, out of the way places. Never anywhere bright or pretty.

He hated this part. They always seemed to know when you finished. He walked down the stairs slowly, carefully. They were dirty and potentially slippery, he knew he couldn’t fall. Too dangerous. He reached the end of the stairs and went into the lobby, through the dirty and stained glass doors, into the weak sunshine. He breathed deeply. Maybe they weren’t here this time. No. There. Someone was leaning against the wall, watching him. He could never look at them directly, only through peripheral vision. Even then it could be spotty. He knew they were people, just like him, men and women, but there was something off about them. Their faces were all messed up. Elongated mouths or noses, wide, staring eyes, it varied from each one. They watched him walk to the van, waited until he had put everything inside, then it stood up and went into the building. Checking on his work. He shook his head in disgust. He was professional, he always did a good job, never a complaint against him. Not that there were ever really complaints. Everyone knew the penalty for doing a bad job was instant firing, then you were fair game. Oh the company claimed you were safe, after signing a few unbreakable contracts that would prevent you from speaking about the job in all but the vaguest terms of “I was a cleaner” but so many of the ex employees disappeared. There was a theory that there was some kind of suicide order in the contract, that you’d off yourself after X amount of time, though there was nothing to substantiate the claim. He had seen one of the contracts before, it was all in complicated legal speak and there was no way you would be allowed have a lawyer look it over for you. You just had to muddle through it as best as you could before signing. The company was open to a surprising amount of negotiation, though the company did have good incentive to keep all employees sweet. All in all it wasn’t a bad place to work. He’d been doing it for almost eight years now. Melissa had no idea what he did, not really. He lied to her about it, as far as she was concerned he was just a general cleaner that was hired out by the company. Still he was paid well. She had wondered about that for a while, until he explained that it was usually dangerous stuff he was cleaning, spilled chemicals in schools and the like. They paid extra for the potential damage that could be done. She had believed him thankfully, it was made abundantly clear of the penalties you would face if you revealed the nature of the job. The employment contracts had to allow you to speak about it and it was an all or nothing sort of deal. Occasionally he’d run into one of the other workers who would be unable to talk about the job they were going to, it became very frustrating very quickly. Still, the job was ok and it paid very well, there were worse jobs out there. He didn’t know what the people did, he didn’t want to know, it was none of his business. He had been assured that the people deserved what happened to them, but as long as it didn’t happen to him, he didn’t care. Maybe that was a dangerous line of thinking, but he didn’t know how else he’d be able to get through the day. He did wonder what exactly the company did sometimes, after all he was just the cleanup crew. He didn’t know how the people were chosen, or if they were some kind of criminal, maybe the company were just guns for hire and they’d off someone if you had enough money. The company never told him and he didn’t ask. It seemed safer not to know. He was just the help. He had no control over what they did, he was just doing his job.

He turned on the engine and after a few seconds, saw that they were leaving the building, it was easier to catch glimpses of them in reflective surfaces. They nodded and he felt relief surge through his body. It could still be nerve wrecking. He pulled out of the spot and drove the old van with the faded maintenance decal out of the parking lot. No one looked at the van too closely, why would they? There would be no report of a crime here, no body to speak of, no evidence that anything at all had happened. It was all on the level. As he drove he considered taking Melissa out for dinner, just because. They hadn’t had a night out in a while, and it would be nice, go to a fancy restaurant, go home, have a few glasses of wine, maybe watch a movie. He decided that they’d go out. He’d see where she wanted to eat, it was a weekday so they probably wouldn’t need reservations anywhere. He’d surprise her with the idea. Maybe pick up some flowers on the way back too. He glanced at the clock in the dash, Melissa would still be in work, would be for another few hours. His phone buzzed, he reached over and pulled it out, as he stopped at traffic lights he flicked it open. He sighed. Emergency job. He read the address then plugged it into the sat nav. Thank god for those things. He wouldn’t know where half the places were otherwise. He wondered what had happened. Something big no doubt, last time he had gotten an emergency call he’d pulled up to the place, twelve other guys were already there, there was still bits of body clinging to the walls, the ceilings, blood dripping on them. It was nasty. He probably wouldn’t be eating dinner tonight. He sent Melissa a quick text, telling her he’d be late home. As he drove he wondered how bad it would be, his imagination conjuring up hundreds of scenarios, each one worst than the last.

 

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
This entry was posted in Horror, Short Stories, Suspense, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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