Luana took pride in her maid service, but something unexpected always happened whenever she cleaned the old wizard’s house. Most of the art was spooky, from weird places like Africa, Mongolia, and Philadelphia. Master Spriggs was a good client, though, and he tipped well.
Spriggs was not a traditional wizard confining his craft to the basement sanctum sanctorum where unfinished experiments and unfathomable ingredients in canisters, boxes, and My Little Pony lunch boxes (he insisted the stories were quite good) cluttered the shelves. There was evidence of his magic activities throughout the house. Luana waded through toppled cauldrons, glowing bones, and burn marks to set up her cleaning gear by the kitchen table.
The house was shadowy as usual, but there was a strange flicker and a reddish mist, making it appear that things were moving around. Luana pulled out gloves, sponges, and cleaners to start her process. First the kitchen, then the sanctum sanctorum, then the bathrooms, then everything else. Picking up the clutter was easy, as was most of the clean up, but she had a hard time scrubbing the burn marks. She’d just finished the bathrooms and started the dusting when she heard something like a raspy growl.
“Dios mio,” she said.
Luana stood holding the dust rag in front of her face for nearly ten minutes, too afraid to move, but she didn’t hear it again. Finally, she dashed from surface to surface dusting with an efficiency she didn’t know she had.
Vacuuming is a fairly precarious activity in a wizard’s home. Normally Luana would change the bag multiple times for two main reasons. First, there was always a widely diverse mix of magic materials that had fallen to the floor, and mixing them together into a compact dust can be unpredictable. Second, the density of the magic power can reach pretty high levels if it is allowed to build up.
Luana was too frazzled to change the bags that day. About every two minutes she would turn it off and listen, then turn it back on to keep vacuuming. She was about half way through when coruscations burst from the bag and sprouted mushrooms wherever they landed. Luana picked up the ones that were too big, but vacuumed over the ones she thought were small enough.
As the vacuum sucked the mushrooms in, it popped and hissed, sending waffles flying out the beater bar. “Ay, caray!” She scooped up the waffles and put them in the trash, eliciting the sound of harps playing. Luana was just thinking she better change the bag after all when the entire vacuum cleaner jolted about and turned into a hyena, the cord becoming a leash.
She grabbed the leash, and the hyena pulled her through the house, jumping on tables, counters, and furniture, breaking dishes, picture frames, a window, and the bannister. She pulled hard, trying to slow it down to no avail. As the hyena dragged her toward the wizard’s elliptical, she hopped through the middle and wrapped the leash around the front beam, halting the beast. It struggled against the collar until it grew tired and lay down.
Luana let out a breath. “Bad doggy.” The hyena stared at her, tongue lolling and panting. She felt sorry for it and brought it a bowl of water, which it lapped up. As Luana picked up the broken dishes, the hyena got up and started to heave with a forced rhythm until it coughed up a giant dustball and turned back into a vacuum cleaner.
Luana sighed and unwrapped the cord from the elliptical. Spriggs wandered in the front door carrying a tennis racket, a coconut, and a rubber ducky pool tube. “Oh, hi, Luana. How are you?”
“Just getting started, Mister Spriggs.”