Karen woke to the unusual sound of silence. There was the white noise present in any motel room—the hum of the bar fridge, sounds of plumbing from other rooms, the incessant drip from the shower—but there wasn't the sound of her robot vacuum. There wasn't the sound of its engine going into overdrive to get itself out of some tight spot, nor the sound of the mechanical warning system declaring it was stuck, upside down, or out of power.
There was simply nothing.
The afternoon light peppered the dust with a golden hue. It’s something she'd never seen before.
Karen sat up in bed and pondered why she never noticed it before.
She always knocked off by 2pm and the sun was still high in the sky.
Fuck, she thought, still desperately piecing together the disparate pieces of information. Golden hues and silence, and motel rooms and knock-off times.
She'd been cleaning room 27, set the robot down to do its thing, and had thought she'd lie down for five minutes. There were only so many days she could go on no sleep. And now it was half past four.
The room was still in disarray, and there were over a dozen other rooms to clean.
The first question was, where was the robot? Second, why hadn't someone woken her by anyone looking for her, and third, why hadn't she been fired?
Karen carefully opened the door and peered through the crack. The car park was quiet. There were some guests in the pool and the sound of kids splashing water.
Karen closed the door and did the only thing she could do.
Jane sat behind the front desk and simply pointed to Bobby's office the moment she saw Karen sheepishly walk in.
Bobby peered up over his oversized glasses and wordlessly pointed to a box in the corner by her feet.
They had packed her bag and other items from her locker in over the robot vacuum along with a white envelope with her name written in pen.
"Hope you slept well," Bobby said.
"Listen, Bobby." Karen said.
He turned his chair back to his computer and typed one-figuredly.
"Why didn't anyone wake me?"
He turned in his chair.
"Christ, Karen. This isn't kindergarten. We don't have nap time. And how long have you had a robot vacuum do your job?"
"I was saving time," she pleaded.
"Listen, you're too clever for this place," Bobby said with some pride.