Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta cleaning. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta cleaning. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 17 de marzo de 2017

Joanna's zoo

   Joanna was the person in charge while the zoo was closed. She wasn’t the girl who fed fish to the dolphins while they were doing their show, or the one that joined the visitors in each stop in order to tell them everything about the animal they were watching. She was just the girl that fed the animal after hours, when everything was quiet and most creatures were sleeping or, on the contrary, just waking up from their slumber. She preferred like that as she had never been a person of the spotlight.

 What she loved more than anything was joining the scientists, the men and women that worked hard in laboratories trying to discover a cure for the many animal diseases that most humans knew nothing about. Just like them, she felt that by learning about those diseases and destroying them, they could all be able to make the human race more resistant and the whole world would see a surge in numbers for many species that had been threatened for years without a reason.

 However, Joanna had only been in school for two years. She hadn’t even completed the first half of her education. She couldn’t be allowed yet to a laboratory or anything like that. If she had a job there being so young, it was because she had almost begged for it. She needed that job to help out at home, where her mother was too fragile to work in anything and her sister Julie was still in school, so she couldn’t be able to help. It was her obligation to bring money to home.

 Of course, taking care of the animals didn’t pay as much as one would think, but it didn’t pay as badly as other jobs such as waitress ones and so on. The thing was she was in charge of feeding them and cleaning their habitats, which could be really disgusting sometimes. The animals didn’t mind doing their business anywhere they wanted, so her work was sometimes a little bit of a challenge because of many factors. And she also had to do some security work, for a couple of hours.

 Joanna actually liked her job. It wasn’t prestigious or different every day, but she did learn a lot of stuff about the animals by just watching them. Besides, the zoo was normally very quiet at night, so she could wander around just thinking about her stuff, her life. It wasn’t that she loved to do that, but everyone needs a place where they can stop for a while and just think about how life is going for them and if they want something more out of it. Of course, the conclusion was, every time, that she would like to have an easier life than the one she had.

 Her shift began when the doors of the zoo closed, at five in the afternoon. She had to stay there for five hours, until the security team hired by the zoo’s administration would come in to do their rounds. They stayed until opening time, at nine o’clock the following morning. So she didn’t have to stay that long but it was a lot of work packed in just a few hours. She had to clean everything and make it look as if it was new in that time, which was hard but she always made it.

 The only times she was afraid of anything was when she had to clean and then feed the creatures in the Komodo dragon habitat. There were five dragons, all adults with a very bad mood. She had to put the food in a special space for them to run towards it and then she could trap them in that place for a while, as she cleaned the habitat as fast as she could. This could only last for a while, as Komodo dragons eat extremely fast and they don’t care about small spaces at all.

 It was scary but entertaining to see all those majestic creatures during the night. Joanna felt she had a private glimpse into the lives of the animals that people rarely saw. She felt annoyed when she thought about all the people that visited the zoo and never learned anything about any of the animals. It was supposed to be a place for education but most people just used it as a park that you pay to go in. Some couldn’t care less about the animals, they just wanted a place to chill with their kids.

 She would often think about how the world could be changed by just ending the whole zoo system. Of course, she was one of its employees but the truth was that, as a student on the subject, she thought that zoos were not really the best way to get to know an animal’s ay of doing things, his way of life. That’s what science needed to know but by standing in front of a cage watching a bird, you don’t really learn a lot about it except that it needs a bigger space to fly and be comfortable.

 One of her ideas for the future was to create some sort of tour agency that would be specialized in getting people in and around ecosystems that have a lot to teach to humans. She would only take adults in those trips and only the ones that proof that they want to be there to learn and not only to take a nice little stroll around the jungle. They don’t have to be scientists or anything related, just interested in animals, like she was. She even had a three at home and her parents had never being against it because she actually did a great job taking care of them.

 Her cat was called Tigress, as she looked like a small tiger. Her dog’s name was Sherlock, as he was very good at finding stuff, although he had been much better when younger. He was now a little bit slow when looking for anything, yet he still was able to find things all around the house. The last member of her animal group was Ranger, a big hamster she had received as a gift from her ex-boyfriend. She had wanted to get rid of it after they had broken up, but the creature was so adorable she decided to keep it.

 When she wasn’t taking care of the animals in the zoo, she took care of the animals at home. And she also had to help her mother and sister, so her work was never really done, only on Sundays when she was given the chance of sleeping late and just enjoy herself by doing things that most girls her age enjoyed like going out to the mall or watching movies and television shows. She rarely did any of that though, as she preferred resting at home with all of her pets.

 Joanna’s story is not one that’s fun and interesting, as many others. She’s just an average person, struggling to come out alive of a situation in her life that seems to go on forever. But she knows, she trusts, that one change it will all change. She will finish college and her mother will get better. Her sister will grow older and will be able to help her around the house more and she may realize all of her dream, the ones she thinks about when she walks around the zoo at night.

 She’s not dreaming too much, she doesn’t think so. Joanna is just an average person, a normal person hoping for something to progress in her life. And she knows it happened because of the animal, because even them are not always the same every single day. They might not be people but they do have temperaments and attitudes. They do change their minds and customs. So, if they change, why not her? Besides, she had way to many plans not to make them a reality.


 Meanwhile, she cleans their shit and gives them meat or corn or whatever it is that she has to give them as food. And she has learned to enjoy it because she’s at peace with them, more than when she shares the room with another person,  fellow human.

lunes, 13 de marzo de 2017

The space around

   Space has always been the same: cold, unwelcoming and largely boring to watch. That is because, despite how big it is and how many natural phenomenon happen all around, some parts, most parts, are just empty space surrounded by that black veil tinted with stars. People who decide to work there are either adventurers or simply the ones that never got what they wanted and now have decided its time to sacrifice body and mind for the greater good of humanity.

 Every “day” it’s the same thing: waking up to realize you are in space, alone and bored. Then you have some breakfast, normally one of those dehydrated foods that need some water drops to transform into something a little bit tastier. Then, it’s time for hygiene and cleaning of the facility. Most of the time, it’s all about mopping and sweeping all around, nothing interesting like discovering asteroids or observing one of the many wonders of the universe. That’s for others to do.

 Stevenson had been assigned to that quadrant and to that station almost one year ago. He was really looking forward the year to be completed because he would be eligible to be replaced and send to some other planet or station, hopefully one where boredom is not a cause of death. Inexperienced people, as he was at the start, normally get to monitor the boring areas of the universe. The ones that people know about and admire, those are normally assigned to more popular areas of the territories.

 As he sweeps and mops, Stevenson likes to put on some music and dance to it while he does his chores. Many days, not caring much about the security cameras and the visual diary he must keep, he takes off all his clothes and walks around naked, doing everything he normally does only that with not one fabric over his body. Is not really a statement or something funny to do, but just the fact that people get bored really fast and easy when nothing happens around them.

 One of those naked days, Stevenson was preparing dinner. It had been another uneventful day for him and he was looking forward to his weird sleep. For dinner, he made a sandwich, which he had to create in the microwave. When he was eating, one of the emergency sirens started. It was a very loud noise and he had never heard it. Actually there were many things he didn’t really know about the station and he normally learned on the way. He went to the command center but it wasn’t clear what had happened. The siren was turned off and no reason was found for its activation.

 However, the onboard computer declared that the siren had been activated through movement in a forbidden area but it couldn’t really tell what actually moved. Stevenson thought it was a moving cable that wasn't working anymore or maybe it was something worse. He had heard of parasites bigger than fists infesting stations all over the place. Of course, they weren’t creatures that lived in space, but they attached themselves when stations were built or launched into their positions.

 He decided to check everything before going to sleep. He spent several hours on the computer, checking everything on the corresponding monitor and holding the station’s manual on one hand to verify he was doing all he standard procedures correctly.  It took hours but at the end of it all he didn’t find any actual proof something had moved anywhere around the ship. He also found out there were no parasites. The ship was in perfect shape, working like a well-tuned clock.

 As he walked to his room, he thought about the possibility of something actually exciting happening there. He had been alone for long, so bored too, that he had been excited because of the siren. It was scary at first, but it made him feel alive and useful, instead of useless, which was what he felt every single day of his life. As he covered himself with the bed sheets, he looked one last time to his window and wondered if he would ever feel like more than just some lost guy.

 Stevenson had a nightmare: it was about him running all around the station. He was running away from something but he never saw in the dream what it was. But it had to be something really scary because he could feel on his body when it came too close. It was a very tense situation. He would scream sometimes and run. He would also get into areas of the stations that didn’t actually existed. Then, whatever was after him finally caught up with him and jumped and it was then when he woke up.

 Not only the scare woke him up, but also the fact he had fallen from his bed, covered in sweat. He took all his clothes, what he used as a pajama, and threw it on the bin that was actually a washing machine. He had never experienced that kind of nightmare. It had really been scary. He even realized his face was covered in tears when he removed his t-shirt. He decided to get into the shower, as even cold water would help getting his ideas in order and all of the bad thoughts out of his mind, at least for while. He needed to feel calm once again. But that didn’t last very long.

 As he walked out of the shower, the alarm was activated again. This time the computer was able to tell him way with one word: asteroid. He ran still naked and wet to the command center, holding a towel on one hand. Stevenson put the towel on the chair and sat on it and then pushed some buttons and wrote some words in a keyboard. He was chatting with the computer. On a screen, he got an image of whatever it was that had activated the alarm. He had to enhance the quality because it was very small.

 Indeed, it was an asteroid. It had a very classical shape and was travelling slower than most asteroids did. But that wasn’t the reason the alarm had been activated. In the last few months, he had encountered other rocks like that one. The difference this time was that all the instruments onboard the ship had detected life on the rock. Some form of life was around or inside that asteroid and he had to be able to get it for himself as that would be his ticket to a much better life.

 The station couldn’t really move but he did have a vehicle for outside exploration. He ran to the hangar, put on some piloting clothes and hopped into the small vehicle, which was shaped as a tennis ball. The idea was to grab the rock and carry it back to the station with the mechanical arms the vehicle had. It shouldn’t be hard as the rock was not that big and he only needed some pieces. So he went out inside the ball and navigated bravely towards the floating rock.

 An incredible velocity pushed it though space but it was too slow for asteroid standards. So breaking it a little bit shouldn’t be hard at all. He started doing so when a powerful sound almost made him deaf. It was coming from the station, another alarm. He had to complete his work fast with the asteroid first, so he decided to use a laser to extract a good chunk of it. His operation on the rock was successful and he was able to take a very good part back to the station, where the sound seemed to get stronger.


 Apparently, it was an urgent message and that piercing noise was the way to get it through. He was surprised to see it was not only a short written message that said, “Stand by”. He didn’t really understand. Besides, his mind was with the rock he had just brought back. But then, the alarm ended and a screen that had never worked had been turned on. There was a face there, it was his boss. He was pale and looked very skinny and tired. He declared they had encountered something and that, whatever it was, it had attacked them. He failed to explain it further. But his next phrase was the one who made Stevenson feel heavier: “The Earth has been destroyed. Don’t come back”.

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

State visit

   Everyone at the airport was ready. The staff had put on their best clothes and every single corner of the small terminal building had been cleaned to the last millimeter. From very early in the morning, people had arrived to help organize every single part of this impromptu visit. After all, it was the president of the most powerful country in the world. And theirs was one of the poorest and most isolated ones on the whole planet. However, the presidential plane had to refuel somewhere, so the small nation had received the honor of hosting the president for a few hours.

 From the moment they had been warned about the impending arrival of the plane, hundreds of people were put to work. Not only those in the airport, people who only really worked on weekdays and even then only in certain time frames, but also every single operator and technician available. They wanted not only the people to feel welcomed but also to make the best work possible with the plane. They got fuel from the city’s reserves, as the amount they had on the airport was not enough to refill a plane the size of the one they were going to see in a few hours.

 The process required almost every person in the capital, a city of about a thousand people, to wake up and also help by cleaning the streets of the city and the authorities enabling the movement of fuel reserves from where they stored it to the airport, which was fairly close to the city. People took to the streets with brooms and mops and every single cleaning help they could get, but the truth was no one really knew if the president was going to land and stay on the plane or walk around a little bit. Many people were curious like that.

 The president of the tiny nation was the one that was moving all over his house, calling the right people and asking everything from food to more cleaning products. He wanted to send a message through TV but the people of the studios were helping around so he decided to send it through the radio. It was much simpler and more effective; as it was the medium of communication that people listened to while they were preparing the city for the big arrival. Every single person in the country heard it and everyone understood the importance of the visit.

 To the eyes of the world, it was practically a miracle that their country actually existed. To be honest, it had been a thing of luck and one of those strange coincidences that happen out of nowhere. They were too isolated and unimportant. Practically everything they had came from their neighbor to the east. So they had known starvation and real poverty because when that neighbor didn’t have enough for themselves, they suffered too. But the world in general never really knew anything because they weren’t watching, until now.

 The country had no army but its people did behave like one once the president’s message had reached every single person. They knew they had around six hours to have everything ready. With luck, the weather up in the clouds would delay the plane a bit more to give them more time but they constantly checked with the aircraft and that didn’t seem to be the case. Everyone had to do their best in the time given. Only an hour after the president’s announcement, everything was coming up nicely and all citizens were helping, even elders and children.

 A huge amount of people arrived at the terminal in order to use the old kitchens that some rundown businesses had not used in several years. The idea was to cook a good amount of their national food for the people arriving, as well as other dishes that they might like. It wasn’t crazy to think that they would be very hungry, even at that early hour of the day. After all, this was all going on in the darkness of the night. The president was scheduled to arrive around eight o’clock in the morning, so they had to wake up or not even sleep.

 The cooking team was led by the nation president’s chef, his own wife. It wasn’t like in other countries were the president has everything and the people below him have nothing. In that nation, everyone was basically the same. People hadn’t starved in some years but they weren’t rich or even close to that. So the president’s wife decided it was best if someone close to the government like her supervised the food. It was the best way to guarantee that it would be perfect for someone with such a high profile as the ruler of the richest country in the world.

 They acknowledge that all those people in that plane, around two hundred according to the information they had shared with them, had been and eaten in places much better than their small country. That was obvious and they didn’t feel bad about it. But they wanted them to leave knowing a little bit more of their culture and about what they loved to eat and drink in those lands. The menu had been defined by the president’s wife and she was very confident that it was going to be one of the best feasts in the recorded history of their nation.

 It consisted of a special recipe for meatballs using a kind of cheese that was made from goat milk, which also happened to be used in their national beverage, which was kind of like a milkshake but less thick and richer in flavor. They also cooked the goats in various ways and were very proud about their vegetables and mushrooms, of which they had a very large variety. Various dishes were cooked with all those ingredients and some spices too.

 The small country’s president arrived in the airport only two hours before the arrival of the plane, to check everything out. The terminal had been painted in record time by volunteers and the control tower was bursting with life when, in normal days, it would only have one person and not even all day. He thanked everyone there and then went to the terminal’s commercial area where his wife and helpers were giving the final touches to the food. The smell had flooded the building and it was very delicious, so much that many stomachs growled loudly.

 Then, he went outside and did a walk around the tarmac and the runway. There wasn’t a single spec of dust anywhere, which he thought was absolutely magnificent, especially for such a windy part of the country. It seemed as if the weather was also helping them achieve their goal. The red carpet in the tarmac was the same one that the president had stepped on when he was inaugurated for his term, more than three years ago. A president’s term was five years and he couldn’t be reelected, which he personally thought was a good idea.

 He decided to check the band that had been practicing for hour in the cold and congratulated them for the amount of love they were showing the country. He stayed a bit to hear them play and, to be fair, they were not as prepared as he would have like, but there was no way of getting better musicians with only an hour to go. They would have to do. What made them special, at the end of the day, was that they played their instruments with real passion and the idea of making their country proud. And that was more than enough.

 The president decided to wait for the plane in the control tower. There, he would be able to know every detail about the upcoming visit. When he stepped in, the plane had crossed into their airspace. It would be only thirty minutes until they touched down in the runway. The atmosphere was really special. Every single person in the tower, in the terminal, in the tarmac and even in the city was ecstatic. This was, by far, the most exciting thing to ever happen in their country. And they had all worked together to make it the best day possible.


 The plane came out of the clouds and landed, in a very soft and elegant manner. Everyone applauded and greeted the people inside through the radio. The president ran outside, getting ready with all others. Many people from the city had come out of curiosity and they had been allowed to stay a bit further away. The plane parked exactly where they had determined it should go. For some minutes, nothing happened. Then, the door opened and everyone stopped breathing for a second. Their moment had come.

lunes, 24 de agosto de 2015

The ring

   Linda Fox loved to imagine what had happened in the places she cleaned up in the mornings. She usually did ball rooms and other big places but sometimes even big country houses or big rooms in huge apartments. She had learned pretty soon that some people have too much money and also too much time on their hands. She was never there once the music was playing or the guests were arriving but she could picture everything with only cleaning the places. She had learned through her senses the differences between an expensive wine and a cheap wine and between a good perfume and a bad one. Of course, she was no definitive professional on the matter but she felt she kind of knew the people that had been there by only staying in a room for a while.

 She had stumbled into that job after looking for many months. She had been laid off as a secretary on a big firm and, since then, no one would hire her. Linda knew this was because of her age. Not many companies wanted to hire women over forty and she was really lucky to have found that cleaning job. At least she didn’t have to do it on the street or every single day in a house where they would probably not even look at her. In this job, she was called two or three times a week, never more than that and it would always be to clean up places were the rich and famous went. No frat parties or middle class parties with alcohol all over the floor. No, this people were the elite but the elite had no idea how to clean a place up and that’s when they came in.

 Linda would come in with two other women, also aged over forty. And they would just start to clean up: first they would pick up the garbage from the floor, they would put away tables, cutlery and other things might slow down the mopping of the floors. Depending on the surface, they would clean it again with products that left everything smelling just perfect. Normally, they would spend at least three hours there. The three women were very thorough and checked every corner until the venue was even cleaner than before the party or event had taken place. No one would congratulate or anything after that. Their boss would pay them cash and that was it.

 It wasn’t the best job in the world but Linda knew it was the only job she could have gotten at her age. And even young people had trouble getting work so she had to be grateful. Besides, it paid well to service all those rich people. She never saw one of them but she knew they would pay through the nose just for someone to do something they would never do. When cleaning. Linda always loved to imagine she was one of the guests. Of course none of them would have to pick up the trash or mop the floors but her imagination was not going to limit itself because of that. The other women, she knew, did the same thing. After all, they knew they would never have something like that.

 One day, when cleaning a beautiful room in a country house about an hour away from the city, Linda found something very special. It was a ring and it had fell beneath the floorboards. She could see it there, shining beneath her feet as she picked up several papers and plastic plates. She looked at the other too, who were cleaning other points of the room, and tried to imagine a way to get the ring out. There was a small whole on one of the boards and she supposed the small object had fallen through there. She looked around to see if someone was looking at her and then pulled the small board, which was loose. She saw the beautiful shine of the ring and then took it. She looked at it as she had been hypnotized by it.

 It had a big diamond surrounded by smaller emeralds and rubies. They were all there; none had fallen to the ground when whoever had been wearing it had dropped it. One of the women asked Linda for the mop, and she almost dropped the ring to her surprise. She put it fast in her pants pocket and then behaved as normally as she could. Linda didn’t know why she had done that. She had found several other things in the past and had always given them to her boss in order for him to find its true owners. But this time, she wanted the ring for herself. She didn’t really know why, as he had no real chance to wear that ring anywhere and anyone that had any idea about her would know that she didn’t have the money to buy such a beautiful piece of jewelry.

 When work was over, the company sent a car to take them back to the city and she felt the trip lasted several hours but it was only one. She was the first one to exit the car when they arrived and to leave the place as soon as possible. Her work mates didn’t really think that was strange because she had always been like that, a little too private. They actually thought she was too good to even talk to them, or at least she thought that was the case. And both women had decided that they didn’t care about what she did. After all, they paid them when they all showed up for work and id what they had to do. That was it. They didn’t need more than that.

 Linda almost ran home. Once she was inside, she locked the door and closed her bedroom door behind her. She decided to change clothes first and then she would take the ring from her coat and watch it in all its glory. It was not as beautiful now as it had been before with the beautiful sunlight, but it was obvious the piece had an immense value, at least economically speaking. Linda then wondered who would drop such a beautiful ring to the ground and wouldn’t even mind to pick it up? Had it fallen from the finger of a very distracted or drunk woman? It was kind of fun to imagine all the stories behind the ring, as if it was a big adventure that she could imagining easily.

 She felt asleep wearing the ring and, at any moment, felt the urge to return it to the house where she had been cleaning or to her boss. The next day, she chose to take it to a professional jeweler to ask him how much he thought that ring was worth. He lied by telling him that she had just inherited from a dying aunt. The men checked it with various instruments for some time but finally stated that all the pieces were very high quality: the diamond was very clean and pure, probably African. The rubies and emeralds, although smaller, were also of a very high quality. Even the ring as such was made from very light titanium, which wasn’t used very frequently on rings. Linda left as soon as she knew more and also because she realized the man didn’t believe the story of her old aunt.

 Beside, she told her something she had not seen before. Inside the ring there was an inscription. It was a full name: John William Hammond. The men looked at Linda as if he wanted to know who that person was but she just lied again and said it was her aunt’s husband. Then she took the ring, gave the man some bills and left in haste. She returned home and looked at the inscription closer. It had to be looked in a certain way but there it was. The name of a man in woman’s ring. So maybe this was a ring someone had used to propose marriage. Linda couldn’t believe how romantic her story turned out to be.

 She decided to find out about every detail she could about the owners of the house she had cleaned that day. Apparently the family that owned it also owned several vineyards and other types of crops and plantations around the country. But their most well known product was wine. She also found out that the eldest daughter had recently married to a man that owned half of the biggest retail company in the city. She found a gossip magazine with every picture of the vent. Surprisingly, it had taken place very recently, only a couple of days after she had cleaned up the country house and found the ring. Then, she looked for the name that was inscribed in the ring but that proved to be a bit harder. She had to go through various gossip pages on the Internet to finally find the name.

 Once she did, however, she gasped. John William Hammond was not who she thought it was going to be. Linda was already making him a banker or a renowned tennis player or even a movie actor. But no. John William Hammond was nothing more than junior lawyer in a firm that had helped of the vineyards through a rough time. Apparently, it was his team that had stopped a very large company from securing that particular vineyard. Apparently there was a huge problem with the land. But the man was just a lawyer and they only mentioned him in one article of an economic journal.


 His name was on a ring and then, again, Linda invented a wonderful story about him been an underdog in love with the lady of society. She thought that maybe they had had an affair but she had finally effused him in favor of an even better position and money. She had been the one that had chosen the easier road. Linda slept thinking of them without ever finding out the truth, which was a lot sadder but more real. But sometimes reality is not as important as the realities we can invent with it, even more when things have already happened and no one can change them.