You Can't Run From Us

You Can't Run From Us

A Story by Krisen Lison

He was just a janitor. A man cleaning up after those that came here before him. But somethings just can't be wiped clean.


“Hi, I’m the new Janitor.” He stuck out his hand to the prissy librarian in front of him. She wore her glasses high on her nose, a cord running from both ends of them to keep them around her neck if she were to take them off. Her pencil skirt was long, just below her knees, and she wore a lacey top that was buttoned all the way up to her neck.

            She looked him up and down, taking in the disheveled hair and tattooed arms. “Hmmm, you look just as deadbeat as the last one.” She sneered, sticking up her beak shaped nose.

            He tried his best not to shoot her in insult. He’s searched for months to get a job, but not many would hire a man fresh out of prison. Even if he was let out for being wrongly convicted. “I’ll do the best I can ma’am, I assure you I’m a hard worker.” He pulled back his hand, giving up on her taking it.

            “Well get to it then, all the cleaning supplies are in the back closest of the staff lounge.” She hissed, turning back to the stack of books on the counter, marking each of them for shelving. He frowned as he turned and headed toward the back of the massive building. The library was already closed for the night. He had taken the afterhours position so he could spend the day with his four year old daughter. She deserved to have her father around after a year of separation.

            The cart of supplies was right where she’d said it’d be and he rolled it out of the closet slowly. There were crumbs and coffee stains all over the carpet and the counter. He sighed and set to work on the counters first. Half a bottle of bleach later it sparkled in a way he was sure it never had before. He smiled at his work and dropped to his knees on the carpet, working his way around the floor from stain to stain.

            By the time he was done the carpet looked brand new. The library itself was relatively clean beside the Starbucks cups and food wrappers left behind by the college students that studied here. He emptied all twenty waste bins in the dumpster and dusted every book shelf just out of disgust at their condition. He scrubbed streaks off the tile floors left by chairs being scooted back and sneakers that dragged.

            The head librarian left her desk to inspect, seeing her library as if it were a whole new place. She found him in the women’s bathroom on the fourth floor, running a brush over the floor to remove the dark stains in the grout. “What did you do to the place.” She gaped down at him, glancing around at the perfectly white paint on the walls.

            He chuckled at her, shaking his head. “I cleaned it ma’am, that is my job right?” he didn’t even bother to look up, too focused on the work.

            “Yes but, it’s never looked like this before.” She ran a finger over the lip under the mirror and smiled when she discovered the lack of dust.

            “Well that’s because you didn’t have me around.” he smirked, rising as he finished the floor. “I need a chisel.”

            “What on earth do you need a chisel for?” She stared at him over those glasses, her eyes wide.

            “There’s a ton of gum under all those chairs and desks out there. I can’t get it without a chisel.” He went over to his cart and dropped the brush and bleach onto it. He gripped the handles, pushing the cart out of the small room.

            She smiled, the first one he’d seen from her. It was almost enough to remove her stuck up appearance. Almost, but not quite. “I’ll make sure to pick one up before your shift tomorrow.” She replied softly, her voice temporarily losing its bird like shrillness. “Do you think you could make it down to the basement? No one’s been there in years and I’d really like to open it back up again.”

            “I’ll see what I can do, if it’s been empty it’ll be a several day project.” He started moving toward the elevator to carry out the task.

            “Take as long as you need, you’ll need to use the service elevator back behind the stairs.” She walked with him. Her movements were stiff and seemed to be perfectly planned out. Each stride took her exactly one tile away from the last. “You’ll need a card key so I’ll get you down right now and I’ll get you a card of your own later this week.”

            She led him to the elevator and scanner her card. When it arrived she waved him inside and backed away, heading back for the desk. He pushed his hand into the door to keep it open and peeked around the corner to her. “How am I supposed to get back up?” he questioned, keeping one hand on the cart.

            “Leave the cart down there and take the stairs.” It was an order, not a suggestion. Or at least, that’s how it came off.

            He signed and backed into the elevator. “You got it.” The service elevator was old, and the way it creaked gave away how little it was used. The buttons were all worn so only a small bit of the numbers could be seen. The button for the basement didn’t even light up, but the elevator responded to it by going down so that was something. It lurched to a stop at the floor, the doors whining as they opened up.

            Stepping out he found a light switch right next to the door and he flipped it. Blinding florescent lights came on, the long tubes all about a foot and a half long and space two feet apart. Before him was a long hallway with wood plank walls. The white tiles were covered in rusty brown spots, the kind he’d only seen behind the prison walls. In those clean white halls they had been the remnants of blood left by fights. He hoped that these weren’t the same.

            An old radiator stood out on one wall, no longer connected to anything but itself. The pipes were rusted and falling apart, giving away that it would never work again. There were metal doors at regular intervals down the hall, all painted over with flaking blue paint. Wires sat haphazardly along the floors, connected into the walls but all with an end left exposed. There were holes about the size of outlets, but none actually contained one.

“Well, first things first.” He mumbled, dropping to his knees before the first of the rusty stains. He scrubbed until it was gone and moved on, making his way down the hall. When he reached the last one he stood up triumphantly. He turned to look at his work and his jaw fell. Every stain was exactly where it had been as if he’d just left them alone.

He ran down the hall back to his cart and dug around the lower shelf of it. There was a half full can of white paint most likely left from when they painted the bathrooms. He found a small brush and used it to cover the first spot with the paint. He turned the put the can back on the cart and when he looked back the paint was gone, the rust stain staring up at him like a cruel joke.

“Ok, we’ll save that for last.” He muttered, his stomach lurching slightly and the beat of his heart quickening. Within his head he convinced himself that it was a leak from up above causing the stains, even though there was no evidence of it on the ceiling.

The first door was just a few feet away and he went to it, running a rag over the top to remove any dust. He pulled it back and it was perfectly clean. He glanced at the door on the other side of the hall and performed the same motion. It produced a still clean rag. He glanced down the hallway, suddenly realized that there were no cobwebs anywhere in the corners. No dust had settled on the old radiator or the corners of the doors. Everything was perfectly clean except for the rusty stains. The last janitor must have been down here without telling anyone. And that was good, it made his job much easier.

He wandered back over to the first door, turning the knob and pushing it open. It moved smoothly, like it was brand new or recently oiled. He peered into the dark and looked for a switch. It sat on the wall next to the door and he flipped it up. The room was lit with the same fluorescents as the rest of the hall. And just like the hall it was bare of dust. It contained a single desk and a few chairs. A file cabinet laid on its side, papers spilling out of it.

The cart was left behind as he walked toward the cabinet. It moved easily with its contents absent. He pushed it into the corner, now upright as it should be. He knelt down and scooped up the papers, carefully setting them all in the same direction and putting them in the drawers of the cabinet. He’d let the librarian know about it and she could do the sorting.

He placed one of the chairs behind the desk, lining the other two up in front of it to make the place look like any other office. A chalk board on the back wall had an ancient grammar lesson written across it. He went over with his rag and wiped it clean, surprised at how easily it came off.

He turned to head for the door and the cabinet once again lay on its side, the papers spread just as they had been. “What the hell….” He turned to the board and there was the grammar lesson, written neatly in the same handwriting as before. He ran for the door and down the hall, searching for the stairs. The hall seemed to go on forever, with no end every in site no matter how long he ran. The doors began to bang open as he passed, each one set up like an office or a classroom.

He tripped over one of the exposed wires and went sprawling across the floor. Just in front of his face was a streak of red liquid. Before his eyes it began to change, twisting and winding around itself. The lights flashed painfully and the words remained imprinted in his blinded eyes, the only thing he could see.



© 2013 Krisen Lison

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Added on May 28, 2013
Last Updated on May 28, 2013


Krisen Lison
Krisen Lison

I'm a poet, erotic writer, novelist, and short story writer. My free time is filled with the written word, flowing both from my own pen and from the many books I read. I tend to keep to myself, but if.. more..

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