‘I hate doing the vacuuming Mum!’
‘Well it’s about your turn. Anyway, you’ll love it this time. Have you seen the new vacuum Dad bought us? You hardly have to do a thing. It’s great.’
‘Nice try Mum.’
‘Stop moaning and do your bit. My horrible boss arrives for dinner in half an hour, and the floors are a tip.’
Poor Mum. Her boss really was awful. I don’t know why she even has to have him for dinner. She says that everyone in the company has a visit at some point. Apparantly he likes to get to know his staff. I think he wants to snoop around and find things to blackmail them with in the office. Needless to say, Mum was really nervous and Dad was dreading the evening.
I went to the cupboard for the vacuum. Wow! It was really flash. Dad had splashed out. The last vacuum was no better than a broom on the carpets. You could push it back and forth for days and still it looked as though tiny dust fairies were camping out all over the floors. I plugged it into the wall, and it beeped into life. Lights were flashing and buttons were glowing. I half expected it to greet me in some sort of robotic language. It had all these settings on it. Not that I cared–being a boring old vacuum cleaner and all. I quickly pushed it around the house and soon found Mum was right. It was like walking a very tame dog. I pushed–it sucked. We were a great team.
The doorbell soon rang, and I quickly stuffed the vacuum back into the cupboard. That would have to do.
‘Good evening Judith.’ Mum’s boss Mr. Sutherland had arrived. ‘Well, aren’t you going to invite me in? I didn’t drive all this way out into the suburbs just to stand on the doorstep like a toilet brush salesman. Come on woman.’
Ech. He was awful. I could see Dad roll his eyes as he folded away his newspaper.
‘Welcome Mr. Sutherland. I trust you found it okay? Come in please,’ Mum replied with the utmost of self-control.
‘Yes, well. I do wish my employees would move into the city. Much more appealing to our clients’.
Mum had heard this a million times before, which means we’d heard it two million. Which is how much Mr. Sutherland would have to pay Mum so we could afford to move into the city–and that was never going to happen.
Mum re-introduced us all before ushering him into the lounge room.
Oh no! I suddenly realized that I’d neglected to vacuum in there. Not only that, but I’d been making Christmas cards using loads of glitter. It had gone everywhere.
‘Aaah, Mum, wouldn’t it be nicer for us all to sit around the table? You know… get to know each other?’
She looked at me funny.
‘Do you always let this child have a say in your entertaining Judith? Isn’t there a room she could be in whilst us grown ups have a civil evening?’
‘Maxine, why don’t you show Mr. Sutherland the way to the lounge room, whilst I fix us some drinks. Then maybe you could go upstairs to watch a DVD or something.’ I can’t believe Mum was trying to get rid of me.
‘Actually Judith, wasn’t Maxine supposed to be serving us this evening? You know, give the night a touch of class?’ Good old Dad, didn’t want it to be just the three of them, aye?
‘Oh, yes, what a lovely idea. Into the lounge room everyone.’ Mum replied.
With a gulp, I pushed open the door. As predicted, the floor was covered in red and green glittery sparkles.
‘Max, didn’t I ask you to vacuum?’
‘What a tip! I hope this isn’t how you expect to impress me Judith! A guest coming and you haven’t even bothered to clean the floors? What’s next? Microwave dinners?’ Mr. Sutherland was quick to look for faults.
‘Now hang on a minute…’ Dad intervened.
‘No, it’s okay Bill. Sorry about that Mr. Sutherland, Max was supposed to vacuum earlier.’ A sideways ‘I’ll talk to you later’ look at me. ‘Please, just ignore the glitter and relax in Bill’s recliner.’
‘Yes, well, if you trust children to do anything you will always be disappointed. That’s what we have girls homes for. Teach them a thing or two about good honest hard work’.
I was feeling pretty wound up as Mum and I left to get the drinks and nibbles from the kitchen. Mum had made her mini salmon and cream cheese pikelets. I love them. These should impress the socks off of her boss. I carried the pikelets, whilst Mum picked up a tray of baby gherkins, dips and all sorts of fancy nibbles. We headed back toward the lounge.
There was a strange whirring noise coming from behind the door, as well as a few over-excited voices. Mum hurried through. ‘What on earth–whoops!’ Startled, she abrubtly dropped the plate of baby gherkins all over the back of the couch.
I pushed past her to see what was going on. The new vacuum was racing around the room sucking up all the glitter off the floor…unplugged.
‘It just came from nowhere…’ spluttered Dad.
‘Marvelous Judith! Where did you come up with the design?’ shouted Mr. Sutherland.
‘Wha…?’ Mum was completely frozen to the spot. Not from the sight of the vacuum racing around on it’s own, but from the shock of Mr. Sutherland smiling and offering praise.
The vacuum was beeping and blipping and whirring as though it had a life of it’s own. The glitter was completely gone, and it seemed to want other things to suck up. It sniffed out Mum’s gherkins and threw itself at them with great gusto.
‘Unplug it Bill!’ Mum yelled over the noise.
‘It appears to be unplugged already Jude,’ Dad answered, rather bemused.
Having sucked up the gherkins, the crazy vacuum cleaner started zooming around the room looking for other things to feed on. It raced over to the magazine rack.
Shhwwwoop, shwwooooooooop. Gone. That was incredible and slightly scary too.
‘Amazing, absolutely amazing. You’ll have to show me the designs Judith’. Mr. Sutherland could smell money.
‘I didn’t invent this one!’ insisted Mum.
‘Pity. That could’ve got you that promotion you’ve been begging me for. Never mind. A few more years…’ Suddenly the vacuum stopped.
‘Whew. That was strange. Put it away Max. Hurry up. This is all your fault,’ Mum ordered.
‘My fault? How is this my fault?’
‘Doesn’t matter. Just get it and put it away,’ she hissed through a tight smile.
‘See? Children. Should be kept out of sight, busily working for the greater good. I know just the place to send that one Judith,’ Mr Sutherland said.
‘Now see here…’ Mum began, her careful composure disappearing by the second. She didn’t have a chance to finish her sentence though, because suddenly the vacuum whirred to life again. The buttons glowed and the lights flashed. It started beeping rapidly, and I noticed the dial turn around to superhero suction. What was it going to do? We soon found out.
It raced toward Mr. Sutherland.
‘Marvelous. How do you control it?’ He asked.
The vacuum raised it’s trunk and started making some very strange beeping noises. The next thing we knew, it had sucked that horrible man’s horrible toupee right off his head!
‘Hey, that’s not on…’ he stammered.
Dad lunged towards the vacuum, but it zoomed away. Then it raised it’s trunk again. To Mum’s horror–but our amusement– the vacuum began to suck the suit right off of Mr. Sutherland’s back.
Shhhwwoooooop! Gone. I cracked up at the sight of Mr. Sutherland in his pink frilly boxer shorts and tatty white singlet.
‘M…m…my wife buys them for me…’ He was pale and in shock.
The vacuum didn’t appear to be done however.
‘Turn it off Bill!’ Mum yelled.
‘How?’ Dad lazily replied. He was enjoying this. Mr. Sutherland was looking ready to explode. Then the vacuum raised it’s trunk at him again.
‘Aaah! Stop it at once!’ He yelled. But it didn’t work.
Shhhwwoooooop! Gone. This time, I quickly shut my eyes. Mum gasped. The vacuum had sucked the underwear right off her boss.
‘Is that a tattoo of a fairy on your bottom Mr. Sutherland?’ I heard Dad ask. I’m sure I could hear Mum start to twitter. I daren’t look. I’d have nightmares for weeks.
‘This is outrageous. Get me my clothes. I’m going home. And if you tell anyone about this…..well, you can find yourself somewhere else to try and make it with your crazy inventions!’ I opened my eyes and looked for the vacuum which had stopped whirring. I pounced on it expecting it to zoom off again. Meanwhile out of the corner of my eye I could see Mum grab the throw rug off the couch and awkwardly hand it to Mr.Sutherland.
I opened up the back of the vacuum to retrieve his suit. But strangely, there was nothing in there. Nothing at all.
‘It appears to be empty Mum,’ I informed her.
‘Never mind,’ grumped Mr. Sutherland. ‘I’m not staying a second longer. Anyone who invents such a nasty machine, doesn’t deserve my company for dinner. I’m leaving!’
And he stomped down the hall and out the door, completely in the buff–apart from the throw rug wrapped around his shoulders.
With the door firmly closed behind him, Mum, Dad and I burst out laughing. We couldn’t stop. The laughter was contagious and went on for a full ten minutes. Eventually, we wiped our eyes and began to inspect the strange vacuum cleaner. It looked normal enough to us.
‘How did it do that?’ asked Mum. ‘We could use one around the office. That would keep him in his place. Where did you find it Bill?’
‘One of a kind the man told me. He said it would clear up any annoying guests we ever had. Of course, I thought he meant dust mites. Strange, very strange indeed. Question is…what to do with it now?’
Just as Dad spoke, the vacuum came to life and the three of us instinctively backed away. But, all it did was make a low beeping noise and flash one of it’s lights at us. Then it rolled away to the cupboard and tucked itself well inside.
I didn’t know whether to feel grateful or scared. I chose grateful, as did Mum and Dad. We called out, ‘thanks vacuum’, feeling rather silly. But hey, we didn’t want to get on the wrong side of a possessed vacuum cleaner with superhero sucking power–especially on cold winter evenings such as this.