Cleaning House. Short Story.


So tired. So very, very tired.

That is all.

On with the show!


Janet looked at the bodies grouped around the table. What a mess. Well, it certainly wasn’t her fault, it was theirs. Everything had been planned out, everything was so organised and now it was all so messy. She was slightly disappointed, who wouldn’t be? But there wasn’t anything she could do to change it. Not now anyway. She sighed, they hadn’t even gotten to the main course. She left the dining room and went to the kitchen, the chef was sitting on a chair, chest resting on the table. Well, at least there were no surprises waiting there, the chef had been killed before the guests even arrived and arranged to appear as though he was simply passed out should anyone come in. Janet didn’t expect anyone to do anything so gauche as to enter the kitchen, but such eventualities must be prepared for. Well, there was no point in letting all the food go to waste. She retrieved her plate from the oven where it was being kept warm, sat down beside the chef and began to eat. It really was quite delicious, she would have lauded the chefs triumph on any other night. Lamb chops, mint mashed potatoes and a lovely sauce which she couldn’t quite identify. The meat was so succulent, the mashed potatoes so light and fluffy. Once she finished, she dabbed her lips with a napkin and went back to the dining room. How to move all these bodies? Alone no less. She had already sent all the staff home for the evening. They would find everything once they returned, but she wanted to have things tidy for them. She liked most of her staff, she didn’t want them to be blamed or hurt. The chef on the other hand, well that was just the cherry on top. Janet had wanted to get rid of him for a long, long time now and when the opportunity presented itself, well, she couldn’t resist.

She picked up Jonathan first, dragging him by grabbing his wrists and pulling. It wasn’t dignified at all, but luckily there was no one around to see. She dragged him into the study and closed the door, locking the body inside. One down, now to on to the others.

Everyone had their own room, except for established couples of course, she didn’t want to separate them. It took her two hours to move them all and when she was done she was sweaty, exhausted and hungry. She returned to the kitchen and looked through the foods. None of them were particularly safe, after all, they had been poisoned, but the desserts were fine. She took her own dessert from the fridge and began to eat. She didn’t know what it was, but it was delicious, all cream and strawberry’s with some kind of jelly layers through. When she finished, she checked the grill and found a single plate left. One she had missed. Apparently, it was going to be the chefs dinner. She removed it from the grill and ate that too. It was equally delicious cold. She hadn’t thought he was going to eat here, usually he didn’t. Well, he told her he didn’t. Probably going to take it home with him. Obviously she should have kept a better eye on the kitchen expenditures. She kicked the shin of the chef, it might be petulant, but it felt good. There was a sudden bang from upstairs, though Janet didn’t jump. It was right on time.

The chef had been poisoned, but he hadn’t gotten the same poison as the others, no, his poison was just your everyday, run of the mill kind. She had put it in his wine, everyone knew he enjoyed drinking while cooking. She obviously misjudged the dose though, she hadn’t expected him to go quite so quickly. He had finished cooking dinner for everyone, so there was that. She herself had drank a glass of wine to help keep her calm, she thought it would be a stressful few hours, what with people panicking, but she managed to avoid all that. Every problem had its upsides really.

Janet went to the hallway and laid the envelope on the floor, it was large and white, it easily stood out from the dark, hardwood flooring. Someone would see that first thing in the morning and they would open it and they wouldn’t go any further into the house or that was her hope. It contained a warning, and then there was her confession. She didn’t want to leave lose ends. She had made sure to catalogue each and every one of her victims sins and transgressions. She had even made a page for herself. She had spent a good ten minutes trying to decide if she should add murder to that list. She decided not to in the end. It wasn’t really murder. She was doing a public service. There were several envelopes like this, some plain, some labelled, spread throughout the house. She didn’t want one of the servants to hide it or try and protect her dignity. Some of them were protected, she had no doubt they’d get to their intended targets.

Now there was just one thing left for her to do, and that was to dispose of herself. Something she hadn’t quite decided on yet. Yes, she was going to kill herself tonight, but she didn’t quite know how or where. She could use poison, after all she had two different kinds, or perhaps drowning, or overdose, there was also a gun in one of the safes upstairs. She could also hang herself. She crossed each one off her list until she decided she would take the same poison as the chef. She was tempted to take the other one, but that could make clean up a tad more difficult. The others were locked away, that would keep them safe, but not her. She would find a way to escape, she was sure of it. The banging upstairs began in earnest as they heard each other moving about. Janet was surprised it took them so long to animate but she was glad. She didn’t want to be torn apart. That was definitely an undignified way to go. She had watched the chef, seen how the poison affected him. It was neat, tidy. There was no convulsions, no vomiting. Really, it was the perfect choice for her. Janet had already decided that she would stay in her entertaining dress, she didn’t want to look slovenly in death.

She filled a glass with the wine, then downed it quickly. The wine was sweet, too sweet for her liking. Perhaps the chef didn’t have quite so impeccable taste after all. She drank a glass of water, discretely spitting the first mouthful into the sink to try and remove the taste. Once that was done, she went upstairs, ignoring the banging and moans, and went directly to her bedroom. There, she lay on the bed and closed her eyes. It wouldn’t be too much longer now, she was tired, and it hadn’t taken the chef too long to go.

Everyone was so much safer now, she had done her job, she could finally let go and relax.


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.
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