Short Story: Tuft the Janitor – Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Hollow Oak University’s campus amongst the hollowed out trees in the forest known as the Universistas Forest and centered on an old hollow oak is quiet during the nighttime. There is the occasional scream of delight from the fraternity and sorority branch of the campus. Those small woodland creatures (or at least, what we, dear audience, would consider small and woodland, to them, they are simply Dirigibles) like to learn above all else, but that does not mean they do not like to occasionally celebrate. But not every night owl, er, night Dirigible is partying when the sun sets.

An unseen Dirigible shuffles into the darkened lab. He flips on the lights and his beige jumpsuit, with the Hollow Oak University logo and nametag, is damp, with maybe his sweat or maybe the bucket of water he is pushing for his mop. He sighs deeply and speaks to himself. “Tuft, old boy, this job just ain’t cut out for people at our age. Especially when we are cleaning up after the tall one and the chubby one. I swear they’re messes routinely require a level 3 disinfectant.”

Tuft pushes his mop and bucket further into the lab. He spies the shattered beaker Chester blew up earlier in the day. He sighs again and bends over to pick up a piece. He lets out a sharp increase of breath when the piece cuts his finger. Tuft quickly wraps his finger in one the paper towels on his cart. “Have to be more careful. My daddy used to say sharp people leave sharp corners. Finest janitor in the land, he was.” The bleeding stops quickly and Tuft throws the towel into his wastebasket.

Tuft pulls out his broom and dustpan and sweeps up the pieces of the beaker. He tosses the pieces into his lined wastebasket and continues around the lab. He wipes down table tops, his bones creaking as he extends his arm. He approaches Berkeley’s side of the lab, whistling a whistling ditty. As he goes to wipe down Berkeley’s workbench, he notices an open Petri dish. It is filled with weird looking bacteria and other microscopic beings. Tuft looks down into the dish. “Ah, look at this dirty dish. No point in washing it, better just through it in the trash.” Tuft drops the dish into the plastic trash bag, along with the bloody towel and beaker pieces.

Tuft does his best to clean up the lab. He knows which stains are worth battling and which are better left as wall, ceiling, and floor decorations. Years of practicing and studying under his father has served him well at Hollow Oak University. As he prepares to leave the lab for the night, he notices that the cleaning fluid he has been using for the night is way past its expiration date. Wearily, he thinks “Science may be growing by leaps and bounds, but a disinfectant that expires? That’s a bit too far for my taste.” He drops the bottle into his trash and pushes his cart out the door.

Across the hall is the bathroom, the last stop for Tuft in his nightshift. He wanders over to the door and knocks, not really thinking anyone will be using the facilities this late at night. As he pushes the door open and goes inside, a rumble comes from his wastebasket. Just as the door swings close and Tuft is out of sight, the plastic trash bag billows out from the basket. It almost appears that a miniature hot air balloon has landed on the pushcart, with the wastebasket acting as, well, the basket of the balloon. The ballooning plastic bag contorts itself into different shapes. Suddenly, two glass pieces pierce the balloon from the inside, but surprisingly, the balloon does not deflate. The pieces move, seemingly on their own, to form eyes. The balloon continues to twist around into different shapes until the eyes are facing a reflection of itself in a door window. The balloon settles down for a moment into one final shape: that of Tuft. Who is just emerging from the bathroom…

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2 Responses to “Short Story: Tuft the Janitor – Cleanliness is Next to Godliness”

  1. Comic: Hollow Oak University – #7 – Better Than Last Week « Creative Bender Says:

    […] Creative Bender Where the creative rubber meets the public road « Short Story: Tuft the Janitor – Cleanliness is Next to Godliness […]

  2. Tweets that mention Short Story: Tuft the Janitor – Cleanliness is Next to Godliness « Creative Bender -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by The Baffling One and Sean Nixon, The Baffling One. The Baffling One said: And theres a special companion 2 comic this week: the 1st part of short story set in the #HollowOakUniversity universe: […]

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