Carol shushed Derrick with a wave of her hand, pointing, with her eyes, at the small, robotic cleaner sweeping through the room, towing its cart along behind. Round, plastic framed glasses hung from a silver chain around her neck, bouncing awkwardly against her large chest. The blue button up she wore with its abundance of pink flowers did nothing to distract the eye from the obvious.
Looking very much like a rotund, mechanical spider riding an automated vacuum disk, the multi-limbed machine stopped at a narrow panel set into the office wall. It was marked by a sign that read Janitor. The panel slid to the right, vanishing into the wall as a good pocket door should, and the Janitor began gathering supplies.
Lips compressed to a thin, judgemental line, Carol watched until it had filled its cleaning cart and moved on.
“I’m certain that thing records everything we say and plays it back for Mr. Colson.” She pushed a stray piece of rust colored hair behind her ear where it curled obediently below her lobe.
“That seems kind of petty.” Derrick looked blandly at her. His own glasses, gold framed and styled for a much older man perched securely on his nose. “Why bother with us? We’re nearly the ground floor?”
“That’s exactly why.” Carol leaned back in her chair to look down the walkway. The janitor was no longer visible. “If the ground floor of the business becomes unstable it will affect everything above it.” She had kept her voice low but the last few words were nearly a whisper.
“I think Shock is just a cleaner. Quit picking on him. “ Derrick frowned at her. “You spend too much time thinking everything is a conspiracy.”
“Shock?” Carol gaped at him. “You have a name for him?” She looked like she tasted something bitter.
“No, he has a name for himself. It’s programmed into him.”
“It’s creepy that you call it a him.” Crossing her legs at the ankles, she settled into her chair and picked up a pen, twirling it thoughtfully through her fingers. “Does he talk to you?”
“Actually, yeah. He can hold a decent conversation while he works.” Turning back to his computer, Derrick chuckled. “Too bad he’s a Cubs fan.”
“Shush, here he comes again.” Snapping her chair around to face her desk, Carol grabbed her mouse and started clicking at various files on her screen.
“Come on Eileen, oh I swear what he means.”
The rhythmic, metallic voice took her by surprise and she froze.
“What the hell?”
Derrick snorted laughter.
“He heard it in the kitchen the other day. Shane was playing the radio while he microwaved his lunch and decided to serenade Shock.” Rolling out into the walkway, Derrick gave the Janitor an encouraging thumbs up. “Chances are he’ll recite the wrong lyrics. Shane isn’t known for his excellent hearing.”
Carol’s eyes flashed with victory and she jumped on the point.
“So he does record things!”
Derrick sighed heavily.
“Of course he does. He also records the number of supplies he needs and provides Mr. Colson with a printout. You might want to cut back on your paper consumption.”
Carol’s jaw dropped open as Shock wheeled by.
“Too-ra-loo-ra, too-ra-loo-rye, aye.”