Authors: Tyler Whitesides
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All characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Whitesides, Tyler, author.
Strike of the Sweepers / Tyler Whitesides pages cm. — (Janitors ; book 4)
Summary: Spencer, Daisy, and their team witness a Sweeper warlock eat Professor DeFleur whole and they must once again launch into a fight against evil.
ISBN 978-1-60907-907-9 (hardbound : alk. paper)
[1. Monsters—Fiction. 2. School custodians—Fiction. 3. Schools—Fiction. 4. Friendship—Fiction. 5. Magic--Fiction.] I. Title. II. Series: Whitesides, Tyler. Janitors ; bk. 4.
Printed in the United States of America
R. R. Donnelley, Harrisonburg, VA
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
For readers who like to build their imagination—
And for Aubrey and Lance, who helped build mine.
“Pink is not stealthy.”
It was raining. And cold. The parking lot of Welcher Elementary School was a giant puddle, with light from the nearby streetlamps glinting white against the slick blacktop.
“April showers bring May flowers,” Alan Zumbro whispered, a poor attempt to lighten the mood.
Spencer scanned the empty parking lot, but there was still no sign of Walter’s janitorial van. He turned to Daisy, whose teeth were chattering so loudly it sounded like a machine gun.
“We should get somewhere out of the rain,” Spencer said. “We’ll be soaked and frozen by the time we get inside.”
Daisy’s shaking hand reached into a pouch on her janitorial belt. “I have this,” she said, withdrawing something and handing it to Spencer.
“You had an umbrella?” Spencer said. “Why didn’t you use it?”
“It’s pink,” answered Daisy, tugging at her sopping black beanie. “Walter said we should wear dark clothes so we could be stealthy.”
“Good point,” Spencer said. A hot pink umbrella against the dark wall of the school would be like a lighthouse to anyone watching. He handed the umbrella back. “Pink is not stealthy.”
The thought of shelter from the rain vanished as headlights flashed across the wet parking lot. Walter’s janitorial van careened into view, stopping a few feet from the school’s rear doors.
The old warlock stepped out of the vehicle, his bald head instantly shiny from the rain. Alan led Spencer and Daisy from their hiding place against the wall. The four of them ran the short distance to the school doors, and Walter fumbled with some keys. A moment later, they were inside.
“Where’s Penny?” Spencer asked. He found it strange she wasn’t there, since the warlock rarely went anywhere without his janitor gymnast niece.
“That’s Nicole to you,” Walter said with a wink. Spencer would never get used to calling his friends by false names. But it was important now. Two weeks ago, Walter Jamison had been rehired as head janitor at Welcher Elementary School. Of course, he was going under his old alias of John Campbell. And Penny was his new assistant janitor, Nicole Jones.
It was by far the best thing that had happened to Spencer and Daisy since Walter had been fired earlier that year. The kids had spent the last several months working around Mr. Joe, a simple custodian who didn’t even know Toxites existed. Now Walter was back at Welcher full-time, hunting the brainwave-sucking creatures and protecting Spencer and Daisy.
“Penny’s not coming tonight,” Walter said. “This is a matter for the four of us.”
Spencer knew there was only one thing that Walter would keep a secret from Penny. It was something that had happened at the Aurans’ hidden landfill after Penny and Bernard Weizmann had left. Walter hadn’t been there either, but Alan, Spencer, and Daisy had quietly brought him into the secret.
“This is about the
” Walter said, striding off toward the janitorial closet, the Rebels’ secret base.
Spencer felt his breath catch in his chest. If the
was the reason for their late-night gathering, then big things were on the horizon. The book had been a gift from the Dark Auran boys. Its pages held a secret that would change everything in the war against the BEM. The
would tell them how to find the Founding Witches and bring them back. Spencer had given the first edition
to Walter almost two months ago. It was written in a foreign language, so the warlock had set out immediately to find a trusted translator. Then came the long, anxious weeks of waiting.
Now, at last, something was happening.
Spencer’s wet footsteps left little puddles in the hallway. Walter led them down the stairs and into the cluttered janitorial storage area. Spencer almost slipped on the stairs, but he didn’t grab the handrail. There was no telling what kind of germs clung to a public handrail.
Walter grabbed a stack of boxes and slid them aside to reveal a secret door. On the other side, a bare lightbulb flickered on, and the four Rebels moved into the hidden room.
“I received word from our translator last night,” Walter said. “Professor DeFleur has finished.”
Spencer shared an excited look with his dad. If the translation was complete, then they were one step closer to finding the Founding Witches.
“Such important information cannot be trusted in the mail,” Walter said, “so Professor DeFleur arranged to give us the translated manuscript in person.”
“He’s coming here?” Daisy asked, a residual shiver shaking her voice a bit.
Walter shook his head. “We’re going to him.”
The old warlock lifted a long-handled squeegee from a rack on the wall. Spencer had seen people use them to clean windows, but he’d never encountered one that was Glopified.
“My latest invention.” Walter held the squeegee out for examination. It looked ordinary enough.
“You plan on cleaning some windows?” Daisy asked.
Walter shook his head. “It’s for traveling,” he said. “Remember the Glopified garbage trucks that the Aurans drive? The backs of their trucks are portals to the dumpsters at the landfill.”
Spencer remembered perfectly. They’d escaped from the hidden landfill by jumping into a dumpster. As they had fallen through, they had come out in the back of Rho’s garbage truck. The Dark Aurans had destroyed the dumpster behind the Rebels so nobody could follow. Last thing Spencer had heard, Bernard had adopted Rho’s garbage truck and was driving it around.
“I was able to figure out a Glop formula that was similar to the garbage truck portal,” Walter explained. “I used it on this squeegee.”
“We’re supposed to jump into a squeegee?” Daisy raised an eyebrow.
“Not exactly,” said Walter. “There’s a set of two Glopified squeegees. When I run mine across a piece of glass, it creates a magical opening. When the other squeegee is used on a different piece of glass, it creates a portal between the two. We step through our squeegeed glass, and we come out wherever the other squeegee was used.”
Alan clapped his hands together, a smile across his bearded face. “Brilliant!” he said. “Why didn’t we try something like this sooner?”
“I needed to use the garbage truck as a model to get the right Glop formula,” Walter said.
“I could have helped,” Spencer said, suddenly feeling left out.
More than two months had passed since he’d discovered his full powers as an Auran. He could Glopify anything with his right hand and de-Glopify with his left. It was as simple as spitting. Literally.
When Spencer became an Auran, Glop was introduced into his bodily systems. Rubbing spit between his hands would activate the Glop and access his powers. It was gross, yes. But Spencer wanted to experiment with it. Walter had forbidden him, talking about a bunch of unknown dangers. Spencer’s only experience had been to de-Glopify the Aurans’ pump house. And that had left him drained.
“So, who has the second squeegee?” Alan asked.
“Professor Dustin DeFleur,” answered Walter.
“A professor dusting the floor?” Daisy said.
Walter looked puzzled. “What? No. Why would he be dusting the floor?”