The Janitor

Member for

4 years 5 months
Submitted by SuperSayu on Fri, 02/05/2016 - 17:16

One of the few random bits that goes through my head that is not remotely attached to the DSP canon, "The Janitor" is a fictional superhero in a world of superheroes. But he serves a particular niche in my imagination: an underdog among heroes, a person content to do a 9-5 job in spite of being capable of so much.

For The Janitor, the imaginary Issue #1 in my imagination isn't his origin story, which is in fact as dull as the title suggests. The issue starts with a montage of superheroes being rude to a nondescript janitor in a very polished building; it's revealed that it's a superhero apartment complex (with the additional meeting rooms, situation rooms, storage, and other accouterments of a superhero facility--plus of course a McDonald's etc). All along, The Janitor narrates, bit by bit, sounding a bit like any other janitor would--underpaid, overworked, bitter, but eh, it's a living.

"You'd think that you gather enough special people together, and some idiot will storm the building, try and knock it down. First time it happened, I was sure that everything would fall apart. Big bomb, lots of damage. I was pretty scared, in spite of myself. But no, you threaten a building where a wizard lives, and he will make sure it doesn't break quite that easily. Couple that with more than a few pissy, self-involved telekinetics, and things get cobbled back together faster than you'd think, and then you just need real contractors to come in and do repairs later.

"The real danger is people who aren't out to do anything obvious. Sneak in, do something stupid like steal the Amazonian woman's panties, get out. Normally the reception desk can weed them out. Other times?" Cut to a sneak-thief slipping on a wet floor in spite of the sign. "...the well-trained staff takes them out. Real special-forces types, those guys. But there are still times when little ol' me, wandering around, are the first one to notice. So I've got a walkie talkie. Keep the staff informed.

At this point, the telling of the story could go a couple ways; the first time I envisioned it, someone was trying to seduce the Janitor in a bar into switching sides, but it can also jump to scene two, below; in this first version, a woman in a black dress is talking cheaply about how he's undervalued and poking to see if he is going to give. The Janitor, looking very tired, keeps an even face but says "Go on." As dates and bar patrons change, she keeps coming back, teasing but never quite promising anything, until finally, at the end of Scene 1, she asks him to let some thugs in for a substantial bribe, and he totally sells her out.

"The reason I have this job," he says quietly as she and her sneak-crew are caught by the back door, "is because it's really, really hard to find someone trustworthy to take this job. They didn't give it to just anyone. In short," he gives her a haughty look, "I'm here to deal with the trash. Take 'em away."

But through none of Scene 1 is there really a sense of the Janitor's power or even that he has any. More interesting is Scene two:

The Janitor is mopping in the lobby when a small army of men with guns break in, killing the reception and security before an alarm can be raised. The Janitor dives behind a desk, but the mercs fill him with holes, kick away his walkie-talkie, check to make sure he's dying and unarmed, and move on. Once they've secured the lower floor, two figures enter--one wizard-like hovering over the ground, all adorned in flowing robes and magical amulets, and his sidekick, a bitchy pinup in villain-punk dress with her own telekinetic powers. They move forward and take the staircase up, guards ahead and behind, another group securing the ground floor.

The Janitor clutches a small gear-amulet on his chest, still full of holes, still dying, still sitting behind the desk. The Janitor, sitting on a bench in the Janitor's closet, has a sudden start. He grabs the walkie-talkie and speaks: "Intruders on the ground floor. Twelve gunmen, two psychics. Taking the stairs, unknown target." Six other Janitors on six other floors swivel to look at their walkie-talkies; in some frames, other Superheroes are visible. Two other frames show a security room with a dead guard, and a middle-aged businesswoman with a very stern look on her face in a pretty decent office with a hell of a view. The woman hits an alarm, sounding klaxons and making red lights spin all over the place, and commands into a walkie-talkie in return: "Find out what they're after."

The Janitors scatter--not counting the one in the closet, who seems content to just sit there quietly, holding his amulet in one hand. The Janitor on the second floor casually opens the staircase and is immediately gunned down. The gunmen and wizards continue onwards, almost without noticing. Only the last one does a double take, saying, "I could swear I've seen that guy before" before pulling him into the stairwell and shutting the door.

This Janitor, af they move on, struggles to stand and follow, closing his eyes and trying hard to listen in spite of the pain and the dying. The scene follows him through agonizing stair climbs and dripping bullet wounds and bloody spit, still taking closeups of his ears and concentration-drawn face, trying to show he is listening, until:

"Are we there yet?" "Three more floors."

Suddenly, on floor 7, a Janitor opens the door to the staircase and looks up and down the central shaft. They are about two floors above him; someone shoots at him from above, straight through the head, and he tumbles down the stairs. "Somewhere around floor twelve," comes over the walkie-talkies. "Probably storage," is the reply. "Thank you."

Just shy of floor four, an exhausted Janitor slumps down, defeated. "Goddamn, woman," he says, "I better get a bonus for this." And then he dies.

Further up the stairwell, the last merc peers into the darkness. He was sure of it this time, and calls a halt. The wizard peers down at him. "What is it?" "I swear we've killed that guy twice already. They might know exactly where we are." "Fine. Hurry!"

A massive fight breaks out at the exit to Floor 13. Security and supers are more than enough for the mercenaries, but when the Wizard comes through, he quickly gains the upper hand. With the support of him and the second witch, the rest of the security team comes through, and they quickly begin to break into a vault labelled "Artifacts."

Quick cut to them breaking in. The witch is first in, getting her hands all up on some things that look pretty magical. Outside, the Wizard gets in a fight with another super, and is knocked back into the stairwell. Before he can get back up, a hand clenches on the amulet around his neck, choking him. It's the Janitor.

The Witch has become too powerful; she is destroying the building and the security forces that are still pouring in, while the Mercenaries support her. The Janitor emerges--with the stolen amulet. It's given him telekinetic abilities, not as strong as hers, but just enough to turn the tide. He looks furious; when she has a moment of weakness, he knocks her down and knocks the artifacts away from her. As she is being taken away she looks at him. "Who the hell do you think you are?"

And the Janitor just gives her a look, says "I think it should be obvious; I'm the Janitor. I clean up other people's messes." And he produces a mop from nowhere and starts cleaning.

...

It has high and low points, I know. But after that encounter, he makes off with one of the Wizard's amulets and practices with it in secret--his gear amulet duplicates his body, but also whatever he is holding, so each copy can practice cleaning with telekinesis when nobody is watching. In that way, his development is a bit accelerated, and he... has other interesting encounters after that.

There are other things to explore, but for a first summary, that is the Janitor, in some ways the least of all "Superheroes"--but still, he manages to save the day sometimes. And while he's eventually a fully-fledged hero, he still mops floors and deals with everyone's nonsense, because that's just life sometimes. It's not without benefits, either...

I'll leave you with one other exchange, from a bar. He is talking with someone he knows is actually a villain, who is angry that he won't turn and provide inside information:

(Warning: NSFW Language)

"Fine," says the Janitor. "You want to know about superheroes? They shit. Tight little hotties in spandex? They shit. Old wizards in flowing robes? They shit. Enormous behemoths twice the size of a human being? My GOD do they shit. You want a piece of advice," and here the Janitor leans forward conspiratorially. The woman, now a bit pale, leans forward, almost curious. "If you want to recruit people who are larger than normal people, you tell them you have a toilet that can take their shit. You tell them that you have a porcelain throne ten feet wide, if that's what they need, and that it flushes perfectly and it will never overflow and nobody will ever yell at them for making a mess of the bathroom. And you find a way to get one, no matter what it takes. A guy like that, he can crush a hundred people with a wave of his hand, and he never feels as helpless as he does when he's just eaten too many burritos. Everyone shits. Who we are when we shit shows us for who we are. If the Hulk needs to shit, and can't fit into the stall, you ain't got him as a team member. If you let him make a mess of the bathrooms, ain't nobody else in your organization happy. You try to tell him to go shit in the grass? You gotta be kidding me, ain't no way he's gonna die for you. No, a guy like that will turn allegiance to the first person who offers them a comfy commode. All sorts of organizations will say to them, you deal with your own stool, we ain't doing it for you. And it don't end well."