Renata opened the door to the toilet and pushed her cart inside. The motion detector noticed her and the toilet was suddenly filled in a white light. She sighted, it was almost the end of her shift. She only had this toilet and two offices left before she could go home to her son. She was sure he already ate, he always did. She daily cooks a meal in the afternoon, before she goes to work and het son heats it up in the microwave once he gets home from school. He is usually still up when she gets home, just gaming or chatting with friends. That half hour before her son goes to bed is theirs. They chat or play card games. It is always the best highlight of her day.
Her son is a smart boy and gets high grates in school. If he keeps it up, there will be scholarships waiting for him. It will be the only way he is able to go to the university. In the few years that he has left in high school, Renata could never save up enough money to pay for his tuition.
She opened one of the stalls in the toilet and got inside. She sprayed the disinfectant all over the seat and the bowl. She took her cloth and wiped the liquid from the seat. She opened the seat and cleaned the underside, at last she cleaned the bowl itself. She closed the lit and looked satisfied at the shiny white bowl in front of her. She smiled. Just three more to go. She closed her eyes for a second and saw the face of her son in front of her. In less than half an hour she would be home. Renata repeated the cleaning ritual twice more and mopped the entire floor of the toilet. She closed the door behind her knowing the light would automatically turn of in a couple of minutes.
She turned right and stood in front of the closed door of an office. She held her access pass to the scanner and with a bleep and a click she gained access to the formally locked office. She flipped the light switch and stepped inside. By the sight of it was this one of the very few offices that are used this time of year. Most of the people who formally occupied the other offices now worked from home.
She did her standard round of cleaning. She dusted the surfaces, remover fingerprints from desks and doors, emptied the bin and started vacuum cleaning. While the sound of the vacuum cleaner buzzed loudly in her ears she taught about her son again.
Since his fathers passing he had never been the same. He had always been a papa’s boy. They did everything together. When he died her son closed himself off from the world. He spend more and more time in his room and closed himself off from almost all his friends. He used to have lots of them, now there were only two left. Even them, he saw less and less. Renata’s husband had walked to the city centre to find the perfect gift for his sons tenth birthday. On his way back, he got hit by a drunk driver and was killed immediately. After that day everything changed. Her husband had always been the main breadwinner in their household. Renata started as a cleaning lady. It didn’t pay much, but it was enough to pay her mortgage and to feed her son. That was everything she needed.
Renate bumped to a table while walking backwards, vacuum cleaning. She felt the table move and turned off the vacuum cleaner immediately. She looked at the table. A map was laid on the entire surface, different coloured pawns were laying on top. They were standing before but the bump to the table had caused them to fall. Two of them had even rolled to the ground. Renata held her breath for a second. She taught about what she had to do next. She knew there were no cameras in the offices themselves, but there were in the hallways. So they could see her going in when the would look at the footage. Renata decided to just put the pawn back where they were before and pretend nothing had happened. She flipped them to a standing position and picked up the two that laid on the floor. She couldn’t remember where they were before, so she just guessed and hoped for the best. Quickly she left the office and finished her work. The sooner she was home the better.
Marcos held his access pass to the scanner and with a bleep and a click he gained access to his own office. He put his jacket on a chair and his cup of coffee on his desk. He leaned with his hands on his desk and sighted. He had been puzzling with the strategy to save the hostages for more than a day now. These kidnappers were professionals. They had thought about everything. He was at the point to say to his employer: “just give them the money”. He didn’t know if the hostages would be released, but they could at least try. There was no way in. He took a sip from his coffee and took the telephone from his desk in his hand. He swallowed, trying to moisten his dry throat. He decided to look at the map one last time before he called. Marcos put the phone back on the holder and walked over to the table. He noticed something had changed. Someone had been in here. The pawns weren’t on the same spots he had left them the evening before. He looked at their positions. This current strategy wasn’t looked into yet. He played the scenario in his head. It could work. He sat down behind his desk and checked some spots on the map of the museum they had to get into. He double and triple checked the strategy. It would absolutely work.
Marcos called his supervisor and explained the strategy. He gave Marcos permission to take further actions. That afternoon the hostages were rescued and nobody was severely hurt. Marcos was praised for his amazing strategy.
About a week after the rescuing action Marcos’s conscious started to nibble on him. He didn’t think it was right that he got all the fame while the person who came up with the strategy wasn’t even known. He made his journey to the basement of the office building, this is where the security was settled. He explained the situation and the guard showed him the footage of the hallway that evening. The only one who got into his office after him was the cleaning lady. Marcos figured she was the one with the strategy.
Renata was cooking for her son who would eat later that day. She was dressed in some old clothes and an apron. Her hair was tight up on her head in a messy bun. She hummed with the music that was coming from the radio. Suddenly the doorbell rang. She turned off the stove and walked over to the front door. She opened the door and jumped at the sight in front of her. There were four news reporters, several vans and all the people who lived in het street. One of the reporters, a woman, asked her the first question. ‘Gina, caring news live for 2.4 million viewers. Renata, tell us. How did you do it?’ Renata was overwhelmed. She didn’t do anything, at least nothing that she didn’t do any other day.
‘Did what?’ Renata asked confused. ‘Come up with the strategy to safe all those hostages.’ An other reporter, one of the men, said. Renata remembered that the pawns on the map on the table she bumped a few days ago could look like a strategy. At leased if you used all of your imagination.
‘I.’ She startled. ‘I just bumped the table.’