Cleanliness is Next to Godliness (6-16-18)

[WP] You wake up at a supposedly haunted and abandoned asylum closed for its atrocities. Its walls and floors, previously covered with white tiles, were now turned green with mold and black with scum. You are a cleaning obsessed janitor. [Link to post.]

“HELLO??!” Carl Pinney woke on a cold metal table. He sat up and searched the dark room he woke up in for any sign of someone else. He glanced upward and noticed the lights were on, despite the darkness of the room. Black grime soiled the ceiling lights, and the walls seemed to be covered with variations of the same black scum dotted with dark green spots. He swung his legs off the table to stand, but the slippery floor made it difficult to find his footing. He did not realize he was barefoot, and the lack of footwear prompted him to check the rest of his clothing. He patted down the white hospital gown. It felt unfamiliar, but he failed to recall anything before he woke up in the room. 

“Damn floor needs a scrubbin'” Carl mumbled to himself as he took cautious steps towards the only exit in the windowless room. He reached the door, then stepped out into a long hallway illuminated as poorly as the room he left. Carl noticed brighter light to his right and turned to see the Information Desk illuminated under bright fluorescent lights. He walked towards the desk and felt the floor under his feet become smoother as he walked. The grime and slime faded away at every step. The floor around the Information Desk gleamed clean white. The brilliant floor distracted him so much he nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a male voice.

“Hello, Carl. Glad to see you up and about.” Carl discovered a pale man in a dark suit with a chestnut crewcut sitting in an office chair behind the Information Desk.

“What’s going on, where am I?” Carl asked the stranger. “And why is everything so dirty?”

“I’ll start with the last question because I know that’s what’s really bothering you.” The man stood from the chair silently and turned to walk around the desk. “Let’s take a walk.” He led Carl back down the hall he came from; however, when he stepped into the dark corridor the lights grew brighter to illuminate the black, dirty hallway. Carl appraised the dirt caked walls and floors, working out in the back of his mind what cleaners he would use to get the job done.

“Recently management has changed hands. As you can see, they didn’t seem too concerned with the upkeep,” the stranger said while they walked. He took a left turn when they reached an intersection, and Carl followed.

“Is this a job interview?” Carl asked. He smoothed the wrinkles out of his hospital gown, hoping to make a better impression.

“More of an orientation at this point. The boss knows your work history, it’s your job if you want it.” The stranger stopped at a door and opened it. The clean smell of chemicals made Carl smile; he’d recognize a janitor’s closet anywhere. “Assuming you accept the position, this’ll be your closet. Although, this is just a starting position. You won’t need to worry about ordering supplies or anything like that. The only thing you have to do is clean.” Carl eyed the shelves full of cleaners with a goofy half-smile pulling up one side of his mouth.

“I gotta tell you, that sounds pretty nice. 20 years of haggling with suppliers is more than enough of that life. I miss being able to show up and just work, you know? There’s something relaxing about putting a shine on things again,” Carl said, then followed up with a question. “What about the rest of the crew?” The stranger stepped into the dim closet. He reached into a box, then handed a bundle of clothing to Carl.

“This’ll be your uniform. There’s no one else.” Carl took the clothes but stared at the stranger through big eyes.

“No other cleaning crew? How big is this place?” Carl took a step back and looked to his left and right to gauge the size.

“It’s quite large, but honestly the boss doesn’t trust anyone else with this particular task. He knows it’s a big job, so you’re authorized to take all the time you need. We won’t open for business until you finish. Another perk is you get to make your own schedule. Start when you want, take a break when you want,” the stranger shrugged. “It’s kind of a freeform thing as long as it gets done.”

“You mean…” Carl stroked his grey beard. “…I get to clean this whole place…” he glanced up and down the halls again. “… and no one’s gonna bother me? And I can take all the time I need?”

“You won’t see another soul until you’re done,” the stranger said with a friendly smile.

“Mr. I’ll take the job, where do I sign?” Carl said with faint glee. The man in the dark suit nodded at Carl, then stepped out of the Janitor’s closet and closed the door. Carl noticed something on new on the door that wasn’t there the first time. A golden plaque with his name, “Carl Pinney” engraved in it.

“All you needed to do was accept.” The stranger pulled a dark navy hat from the air and placed it on his head with a slight nod at Carl. “I’ll leave you to it then.” He turned to walk away, but Carl tapped his shoulder.

“Hey, you never told me where I am. What’s the name of this place?” He asked.

“Oh, I apologize. You’d know this place as the Belle Institute of Mental Health.” He tipped his hat, then turn and walked away.

“The loony bin? Hey, isn’t this place haunted?” Carl yelled at the man as he approached a corner. The stranger waved his hand dismissively and disappeared around the bend. Carl heard the faint answer in the distance.

“It is now.”


Thank you for reading! I’m responding to prompts every day in 2018, this is #166. You can find them collected on my blog.

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