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Wilfred emerged from the bedroom a moment later, brandishing an antique rifle. The pair made their way down the stairs and as they reached the bottom they teetered forward slightly as they peered into Susan and Brad’s living quarters.
Wilfred gasped as they entered what looked like a war zone.
“What the...?” was all he managed.
“Furniture smashed. Glass everywhere, fabrics ripped,” Helena appraised the situation. “Pictures and frames destroyed. Food thrown at walls. Coffee stains on carpets. Carving knife stuck in wall.”
They moved towards the centre of the room and stared incredulously at a motionless Brad and Susan sprawled on the floor. Brad was on the carpet, frozen like a statue with one arm covering his face as if to ward off an attack. Susan was sitting on top of his chest and was holding a heavy metal lamp above her and was poised to strike a deadly blow to Brad’s head. Each of them had their free arm outstretched with the index finger wedged hard into the other’s ear. This horrific and bizarre tableau was completely still except for the plug from the lamp swaying slowly to and fro like a pendulous axe from an ancient horror movie.
Helena backed away and sat on the only clean part of the sofa.
“They must both have triggered the emergency shut-down sequence at the same time,” she concluded.
“Well, thank God. Utterly disgraceful behaviour,” harrumphed Wilfred. “What the heck were they fighting about?”
“I think you may be missing the bigger picture here.”
“And what is that exactly?”
“It doesn’t really matter what this was all about — what matters is that Mr and Mrs Cavendish are entertaining tomorrow evening. The business dinner, remember?”
“Their boss is coming over to discuss a promotion for them both. I would imagine that Mr and Mrs Cavendish would very much like to impress their CEO.”
“I should say so. Marvellous.”
Helena made a silent Ta-Dahhhh gesture towards the tangled mess of Susan and Brad which also encompassed what was once a living room and entrance hall.
“Oh good God, yes! I see. What are we going to do?”
Helena sighed. “These two will be rebooting for at least twelve hours. We'll throw them in a cupboard then clean the heck out of this place, that’s what.”
“Now steady on — I haven’t cleaned anything for years. I’m a gentleman’s gentleman now.”
“No Wilfred, you are an older Series 8 Callipygian and I have been programmed to co-habit with you and to at least like you which I do most fondly, but I will cheerfully strangle you then re-programme myself the instant I am forced to lose my position in this household. Do I make myself clear?”
Wilfred nodded enthusiastically.
He crouched down and stared quizzically at Brad and Susan while Helena tied her hair in a bun and strode meaningfully into the kitchen.
“I’ll get the curtains down — you start on the carpets,” she told him. “We’ll need detergent, soap, ion foamer, polish, cleaning cloths, freshener, maybe some spare batteries for the Porto Vac.”
“Good grief — he’s got a stone pushed down his throat!”
“I don’t believe it!” wailed Helena.
“Come see for yourself...”
Helena stormed back into the living area. “Unbelievable! There is not so much as a cloth in any of the cupboards — no cleaning equipment of any kind! No buckets. No detergent. Nothing!”
“What the devil are we going to do?”
Helena stormed past Wilfred and headed up the stairs. “I don’t think we’ve got much cleaner upstairs — I’ll look anyway. Drag those two idiots into that cupboard by the door, that’s a good start anyway.”
Wilfred dragged Brad and Susan over to the cupboard and pushed the tangled mess inside with his foot then locked the cupboard.
The doorbell rang.
Wilfred opened the door to a brightly lit rotating head.
“Good evening sir. My name is George. May I ask, are you the owner of the house?”
“Er, no old boy, that would be Mr and Mrs Cavendish.”
“Would it be possible to speak to them?”
“Er, not really. They’re in the cupboard.”
“Well, perhaps you could be of assistance, sir. I wondered if any of these cleansing items would be of use for your household chores.”
Silently and majestically, George’s wooden tray assembled itself and dozens of cleaning items appeared and arranged themselves into a gleaming display.
“My goodness!” Wilfred beamed. “You had better come in, George.”