Jack and Stan~ Paranormal Cleaners chapter 4

     Every cleaning company like his needed one Bag. The tragedy was he had the only one in existence, or the only one that he knew of. The material was canvas, though most of it was various patches from over the years. A large part of them had come from before Jack had been given the bag by his father and he had told Jack he possessed no recollection of how long he had owned the bag either. Wherever it came from, the bag was a cleaner’s best friend. No matter how many things you put into it, the bag never seemed to get any fuller or even possess any mass at all. Jack could only assume that the things he put in there went somewhere, though most of the time Jack didn’t really care where they ended up. As long as it didn’t impede his job, it was no longer his problem.

     The carnivorous stairwell lay just off the right side of the foyer, next to the hallway that led to the kitchen. It was situated to be easily accessible to the guests. Most new visitors preferred to use the elevator, but that had its own problems, so long time guests often used the stairwell instead. The door itself looked like any other door at the Colonial Inn. A bit pretentious, perhaps, but nothing to indicate the deadly nature of the entrance. For that, there was only the occasional scream. The stairwell itself was poorly lit and slightly claustrophobia inducing at the best of times and led from the ground floor up to the fourth floor. When Stan had just finished beating the spooks into submission. Arriving to the lobby before Stan, Jack tapped his foot impatiently and eyed the door.

     Stan lumbered in from the direction of the front door with the Bag drooping limply from one hand. This was going to be either very easy or very hard. They crossed the foyer together and stood on either side of the door. Jack held up a hand with three fingers, counting down to one. On one he made a fist and Stan ripped the door open, almost pulling it off its hinges. Despite the restoration of all the lights, the stairwell remained an inky void of darkness.

     Jack grunted in annoyance. “We’re doing this the hard way, then.” He reached into the darkness and groped around till he found a body part, in this case an arm. Pulling as hard as he could, he managed to pull out a young-looking waitress with blonde hair. She was as pale as death. Jack pulled a small mirror out from his vest pocket and checked her breathing. No such luck. The only thing left to do was make the problem vanish. Everything was going smoothly. That is, until Jack started to slide her into the bag and then she woke up about halfway through.

     “Oh dear,” Jack pulled his pocket watch out and grimaced, “We’re going to be at this for a while, aren’t we?”

     Stan contemplated the bag for a brief moment before turning to Jack, “Are we just gonna dump them bodies in the bag?”

     Jack nodded, “If they read the contract, they knew what they were getting into. On site death means the body has to vanish. This is why you should always read contracts before you sign them.”

     “Why do them idiots keep goin’ in there when none of them comes back?”

     Jack gave him a long-suffering glance before reaching in again, “I think it’s kind of a climbing the mountain because it’s there sort of deal. My sister tried to explain it to me once, but I think she was drunk.”

     Stan held the bag ready just in case, “Ain’t that kinda like jumpin’ offa’ mountain cause it’s there?”

      Jack pulled out the body of a much-disheveled looking sous chef who had become his own last short order. He vanished in quick order into the bag.

     “Probably, but I told you I don’t get it. This is not the staircase I would die on, I’ll tell you that much.” It took them an hour to clear the remnants of the staff from the staircase. Eventually Stan lost his patience and attempted to punch the darkness spilling out of the stairwell, which caused the whole inn to shiver and the darkness to vanish, leaving nothing but a simple stairwell.

     “I see you’ve fixed the problem,” proclaimed a voice from behind them. Jack nearly jumped out of his skin, somehow in their efforts to retrieve and save what staff they could neither one of them had noticed the sweaty tomato in the cheap suit watching them.

     “I wouldn’t say we solved the problem. We tried solving the problem a few years ago, when my family came over and that didn’t turn out so well. I did, however, make this Inn appear as though multiple grisly murders didn’t take place here every year.”

     The manager rubbed his hands together with delight, “That’s good enough for me!”

     Jack coughed politely, “We have some more cleaning to do but the bulk of its done. The rest of it can be done by normal staff and…”

     “Then I’m going to have to ask you to leave. When the clients see you around they get very nervous, most nervous indeed.” The manager started off at a trot for his office, only getting stopped short by Stan’s massive hand descending from the heights above him and holding him in place.

     “Ain’t you gonna pay us?”

     “Oh yes…uh, payment.” A check was produced which Jack quickly snatched away.

      Jack slipped the check into his vest pocket and started rolling down his sleeves. “Let’s go, Stanley, before we become part of the property or our employer thinks better of the current arrangement.” Stan needed no encouragement and followed his boss towards the back at a slow and steady pace.

     “Oh! I do have one last thing I wanted you to look at. There’s a wardrobe on the second floor that…has some strange issues. It needs to be cleaned right away.” Jack looked back at the door longingly before sighing and letting the manager march them up to the second floor. With the manager leading the way, they managed to make good time and only got lost once or twice. The room itself was quite normal looking, but the manager simply refused to go in at all. Jack waited until Stan had caught up before unlocking the door and pushing it open. Stan reached into his bag of tricks and took out a croquet mallet.

     The manager’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head and his skin went a shade redder, “Wh…why do you need a croquet mallet to clean a closet?” Taking a tentative step into the room, Jack licked his finger and stuck it into the air to feel for drafts.

     Jack looked over his shoulder at his stalwart companion. “I was just going to ask the same question. This is what your paychecks go towards, Stan?”

     Stan took a few practice swings with the mallet, nodding in satisfaction at the weight, “Everybody needs one o’ thems hobbies to keep occupied with.”

     Jack shrugged and nodded, stepping close enough to touch the door of the wardrobe with his fingers. “I suppose you do have a point. But really, a croquet mallet?”

     Jack adjusted his tie and Stan hefted his mallet over his head, taking a deep breath. Slowly, Jack pulled open the door only to be greeted by a forest with a light snow coming down. Walking through the woods with an umbrella was a half man-goat creature. Once he noticed Jack and Stan he froze in place, looking very much like a deer caught in the headlights. Slowly, hesitantly it made its way over, raising a hand in greeting before Jack slammed the wardrobe door in its face. “Yeah, no. We’re not doing that song and dance again.”

     Stan nodded emphatically as they both turned towards the door, “Thems people have more snow than we could remove in a year. It’s like there’s a whole country in there.” The trip down to the van was without incident and for once, the manager didn’t complain about all the cleaning not being done by two specialist cleaners. The sun had dipped completely behind the mountains by now and a beautiful, calming darkness had fallen over the landscape. The hotel shone like a beacon of hope in the darkness, drawing its employees back to another summer of work. The mountain winds blew down from beyond the rises of the distant peaks, sending shivers down Jack’s spine as Stan drove past the line of cars heading in towards the hotel staff parking lot. The trip back was going to be sweet, and the whole summer lay ahead of them. Jack had rarely felt so alive.

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