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Dish Washer

The Dishwasher

(c) Linda Hutchison March 2019

The rumbling started around 10:00am in the morning. At first I thought it was a truck in a nearby street. The sky was clear, ruling out thunder, and I wasn’t using the washing machine. It was about 30 minutes later when walking past the kitchen that I realised the noise was coming from the dishwasher.
“Great,” I said out loud. “Now it’s sprung a leak.”
There had been a series of problems with our new house, like a dead oven and the lack of towel rails and flyscreens, so the problem with another appliance wasn’t surprising. The dishwasher hadn’t been started for a couple of days, so my initial thoughts were that it wasn’t to do with the motor. But in looking closer, I realised the noise was mechanical and there weren’t any signs of leakage. The floor was dry and so was inside the cupboard under the sink where the inlet and outlet pipes were connected to the plumbing. The rumbling had a rhythmic flow to it, and the lights on the front of the dishwasher were flashing in a strange pattern. Then again, with all the weird things we’d found here, perhaps this was its idea of normal.
I opened the dishwasher door and peered in at the breakfast bowls, mugs and spoons. The rumbling was definitely louder with the door open, but it all looked pretty normal. Thinking that it might be to do with blocked drainage, I pulled the racks out the dishwasher to get to the filter. It was then that I noticed a light shining from under the filter. I pulled it out to reveal a handle of sorts, with the light seeping from around its circumference. Lifting the handle, with the thought that it was some sort of handy servicing light, I went to pull on it when the phone rang. I let it go, along with a swear word or two as I bumped my head on the way back out of the dishwasher to get to my mobile.
Thirty minutes later when I had reassured my elderly mother than the lettering in her Word document hadn’t suddenly blown up to 120 points, I made myself a cup of tea. She’d been typing notes for her retirement village Chaplaincy Support Group when she accidentally zoomed in. Naturally she tried shutting everything down, but this was one setting that the standard Windows rescue move didn’t fix. Luckily, she hadn’t lost anything and her computing self-confidence was somewhat restored with minimum effort. As I sipped my perfectly scalding tea and contemplated my yet-to-be-developed garden, the rumbling emerged from the plethora of daily noises and aroused my curiosity again. I set aside my cup and went back to the dishwasher to investigate further.
Placing a towel on the floor in case of spills, I knelt down and lent in towards the service handle. Funnily enough, while there was still a rumbling coming from the machine, I couldn’t detect any vibration. The hairs on the back of my neck started to stand on end, but I was hardly going to be put off by the sight of grubby wiring or a long-dead mouse. With decades of cat ownership behind me, I’d become desensitized to expired rodents and their scattered internals. I pulled upwards on the handle but nothing happened. I tried pulling harder, but the only thing that gave was my grumbling right shoulder. Then I thought perhaps I’d need to twist it and started turning it anticlockwise. After a couple of good tugs, it started to turn and the rumbling grew louder and the light brighter. For a moment or two I was dazzled by the light. The entire bottom panel of the dishwasher seemed to be lifting in my hand, so I moved backwards to pull it out. Leaning it up against the cupboard door, I peered back in. Behind the light was a large vacant space. I was sure our house was built on a concrete slab, so this was seriously perplexing. I took a deep breath to ground myself and looked closer.
Peering into the darkness past the light, I spotted a switch. Flicking it on, I was stunned to see a series of lights spring into action revealing a cavernous room below the house. I could now see a ladder than led from the dishwasher downwards. By now my heart was doing high-impact aerobics in my chest. It was time to call in backup, in the form of my neighbour, Kelly. Fortunately she was home and came over while I sat on the floor dreaming up all sorts of horrible purposes for this newly-discovered space. After all, the previous owner had had a medical background. She rang the doorbell then came straight in as we tended to do.
“Too much peppermint tea, Linda?”
“No, there is definitely a room under our house. Hidden in the dishwasher. And yes, I realise that sounds crazy.”
Kelly came over and peered into the space with me.
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“My thoughts exactly. You’re smaller than me,” I whined pitifully, hoping she’d volunteer.
“Come on, don’t be a chicken. We’re entitled to a few adventures.”
I groaned and grabbed my phone from the bench above me. Descending into the space, I realised that the air in the underground room was surprisingly fresh and cool. Looking around, I noticed a pump that must be responsible for the fresh air. That’s where the rumbling noise was coming from, much more noticeable down in the room. Kelly followed me down the ladder. We were surrounded by drawers of various sizes, all white and pristine and carefully labelled with dates and words. All of the text was in a foreign script that looked vaguely Russian. We slowly reached for each other’s arms and shivered.
“At what point do we stop?” I asked faintly.
Being a Kiwi, Kelly was more adventurous than me and shook off her misgivings. She reached for the nearest drawer and slid it open. We both gasped and stood staring at the contents. We opened a few more drawers and saw more of the same.
“Not what I expected.”
“No – very unusual. It takes all types I guess.”
We finally left the room via the ladder and closed everything back up. My kitchen would never feel normal again.
Wandering out to the street, we stood talking, both of us still with slightly ashen faces. Our neighbour across the street came over and looked at us both.
“So you found it.”
“What?” We tried to look innocent.
“The room, under the dishwasher.”
“Oh, yes. It, ah, wasn’t included in the sales description.”
“No – funny about that.” She just nodded knowingly at us. “Now you know why they sold it.”
“Hmmm, yes.” I mused. “I think we need to order several truckloads of concrete…”

The Dishwasher: Work
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