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I'm a janitor. Excuse me, a "Custodial Engineer."

By AtomGray All Rights Reserved ©


Custodial Engineer

It's not the easiest job being a janitor.

Excuse me, I'm supposed to call myself a "Custodial Engineer" now.

You might think that it's just brainless, rote work, but you end up finding yourself thinking a lot about whether you really want to do the things you're about to do.

Why am I scraping this gum off the floor? It's just going to be there again tomorrow.

I just had to put that bag of garbage down because the smell was too much. Do I want to pick that up again?

Do I really want to scoop ten pounds of human waste out of this toilet right now?

Getting into these kinds of dirty situations isn't natural, in the biological sense. Some strong, primal segment of your mind is telling you not to go there. Not to subject yourself to that. That it's not safe.

I found the entrance to the basement two days ago. Not the basement, there are separate basements under each section of the school; the gym has a storm shelter under it; the band room stores their old and broken instruments in theirs; under the lunch room, there are props and costumes for things like football games, homecoming and prom. The basement I found is under the auto shop.

It was midnight, and despite clear, starry skies, the power went out while I was mopping down the History and English hallway. To turn on the lights, I had to turn on the auxiliary power generator, located in an enclosure off of the auto shop.
Excuse me, it's a "Vocational Training Lab" now.

Anyway, I go past the auto shop, into the enclosure, turn on my flashlight and... there's a door. And for some reason I've never seen it before, or I saw it and didn't realize that it was a door. From the outside, it's just a little square with a hinge. It could be a vent, or an access panel for wiring, but this night, for whatever reason, I realize that it's a door and that the bottom half is buried in the gravel that rings the cement pad that the generator sits on. I dig a little and find a handle.

As soon as I touched the handle, I could hear voices from the other side. At first I thought there were two people arguing, but now I'm sure that it's just one. And Jesus, the things that it's said... 

About me, about the other students and teachers. About my friends and family. Things that no one knows. He told me which of my neighbors beat their kids. Which of my friends cheat on their spouses. He told me about the time the old Economics teacher, Mr. Parker was in high school and accidentally hit someone with his car and got away with it. About what Principal Taylor and his frat buddies did to someone's little girl...

It's been down there a long time, watching, listening. I sat and listened all night.

I haven't slept.

I can't close my eyes because if that thing with the whispering voice like a mix of sandpaper and an angry snake's hiss were there at the foot of my bed when I opened them... I'd just rather die than live that moment.

I dug away the gravel. Today, I'm going to open the door.
I got a sharp piece of metal from the auto shop, and wrapped the bottom of it like a spear. Do you think that'll work?

As a janitor, you find yourself asking yourself a lot of times if you really want to do the thing you're about to do, and I definitely don't want to go through that door, but I have to.

Because there's something in there. Something unclean.

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