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NEVER CLEAN A WIZARD'S CLUTTER

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A nearly white faced, Nicce Nash, tore out of the small basement apartment followed closely by Trish Suhr, Matt Isseman and Mark Brunetz. The occupant of the apartment trailed after them looking a little worried but relieved.

"I swear, I've never given up on helping other people clear their clutter but that.....that....is not normal for anybody and there's far too much weirdness going on.  I refuse to step one foot back in there. Mr. Dresden will have to take care of that problem himself!" Nicce shouted excitedly, almost beside herself with fear, as she spoke to her producer.

The producer looked completely bewildered. Nothing had ever shook Nicce up this badly before. He wondered what on earth could have happened.

He looked over at the tall lean, dark man they had come to help. Harry Dresden was trying to look friendly but couldn't really pull off the 'nice' fellow award. Something about the guy made chills race up his spine and he couldn't for the life of him understand why.......the man had been unfailingly polite.

The whole thing started with a request from a police sergeant by the name of Murphy. She claimed to be a very good friend of Harry Dresden and thought Clean House could help the man get a handle on his clutter that had nearly overtaken his very tiny studio apartment.

However, things went weird from the very moment they entered the strange apartment. Before the cameras went completely haywire, they captured a room decorated in the oddest fashion.

The walls were covered with dozens of rugs, blankets, and tapestries and the tiny living room floor looked like a rug store nightmare of miscellaneous carpet samples. The furniture was obviously from various second hand stores and there were no TV, radio or game machines for entertainment though there were shelves of books.

Looking around Matt and Trish could find no form of electricity being used,  only candles on nearly every surface providing light.  There were two windows, one in the kitchen and one in the living area, but the living area one was covered by a heavy blanket.

Brunetz peeked behind it and found bars over the window, a quick peek over to the tiny kitchen showed bars over that window too though it was uncovered to allow what sun could come in, through it.  Apparently no furnace or hot water tank was being used much to their confusion.  Instead a huge fireplace provided heat and the man apparently took ice cold showers.  The stove  in the kitchen was an honest to goodness old wood style one and the fridge was a real ice box.....as in using blocks of ice to keep things cold.

The tiny bedroom contained a full size bed covered with....surprisingly.....clean sheets and bedding but the floor and closet seemed to have vomited clothes everywhere, except for the small dresser which was cluttered with the oddest of stuff.

That odd stuff was seen all over the apartment, skulls, bits of fur, and various other apparently magical paraphernalia. Book shelves were filled with very old dusty books on the supernatural, magic, and similar subjects. In the tiny kitchen an herb garden of some normal and some not so normal looking plants were growing in a small nursery on the window ledge.

The Clean House crew were beginning to get very creeped out. It was nothing they could put a finger on but the longer they were in the apartment the more nervous they became.

They had been briefed that Mr. Harry Dresden considered himself a real, honest to goodness wizard for hire. He even had an ad in the phone book but none of the crew truly believed it. They had felt he was a little eccentric nothing more.

However, many of them were seriously beginning to revise that assumption after being in Mr. Dresden's home for only ten minutes.  The uneasiness started when the cameras began failing.  Oddly enough, that only occurred when Mr. Dresden was close  to them. When he moved further away, they began to work again.....sort of. Then there was the unexplainable bit of nonsense that had done in Nicce.

When Nicce stepped into this apartment, chills swept down her spine but she firmly set aside her nervousness and got down to business. She thought they could help Harry by replacing the carpets, putting dry wall on the walls, replacing the appliances, finding out why the electricity wasn't working so the hot water tank could be used (the man didn't have access to hot water...for goodness sake), and cleaning out the odd debris.  That was the fairly easy part, the hard part was the man simply didn't have anything worth selling in the yard sale.  It was possible some of his books might have some value, they did seem rare and unusual as did some of his rather odd paraphernalia.

She was thinking of asking her crew what they thought when things went truly freaky.  Without a trace of wind, all the candles went out at the same time, the cameras sparked and shutdown, the boom mike gave a nasty squeal of protest, and all the camera lights exploded.

They were immediately dropped into gloomy darkness, relieved only by the kitchen window and the still open front door. For just a few moments there was chaos, shouts, and cries of dismay then everyone went silent and looked around warily. The room smelled of burnt wiring, wood smoke, mustiness and drying herbs.

From somewhere near the bedroom doorway, Harry's voice drifted out but he, himself wasn't visible.

"I'm sorry, modern technology doesn't like me much. That's sorta why I don't have any modern conveniences in here in the first place," he explained rather apologetically.

"That's an understatement," Mike muttered, staring around nervously.

"Truly, I do appreciate you wanting to help me fix up my place but I'm happy with the way it is because it works for me," Harry said, trying to convince these people to leave.

"Where the heck are you? I can't see you at all!" Nicce broke in, beginning to get seriously unnerved.

"I'm right here," Harry said helpfully, suddenly seeming to appear from no where, standing nonchalantly in the door of the kitchen. 

Everyone jerked reflexively.  No way had Mr. Dresden been in the kitchen.  He would have had to pass by Matt and Mark who were standing to one side of the kitchen door but there was no denying the man was indeed standing there. 

Shakily Nicce, stared at Dresden then looked back to the bedroom then back to the kitchen and screamed because Dresden was no longer there.  Her scream had been echoed by Trish while Matt and Mark could only blink in shock, mouths open.

"Is something wrong?" Dresden asked innocently, standing next to his bedroom door.  

That did it for Nicce!  With another scream, she turned around and bolted out of the place followed quickly by everyone else.  Dresden followed more slowly,  a small smirk on his lips which vanished when he stepped outside to stare at his unwanted visitors.

After her little fit with the producer, Nicce calmed herself and turned around. There stood Harry trying to look harmless. She hated to admit it but she was beginning to believe he truly was a wizard and her mind just didn't want to go there because then she would have to believe many of the make believe creatures of her childhood were real as well.

She cautiously walked up to Harry but didn't get too close. "Mr. Dresden, I do believe you are right. I really can't help you. You seem to be a really nice guy but there's something down right creepy about you.....no offense!"

"None taken," he murmured, giving her a lopsided and understanding smile.

"Then we'll just take our foolishness away and not be bothering you further. Thank you for your time and best of luck with that....uh....wizarding stuff of yours," Nicce said politely, ready to make a hasty retreat.

"You're welcome. Sorry to have upset you. You people do a really great thing helping others. Keep up the good work," Harry told them sincerely.

"Why thank you. Good bye!" Nicce said then turned and hurried off. Matt, Trish, and Mark not hesitating a second to follow her to their van the rest of the crew not far behind. The producer trailed behind them reluctantly, glancing in confusion behind him at Harry once more before shrugging his shoulders and getting in the van himself.

Harry watched them pack up their gear and roar off down the road. He had no doubt they would be making a hasty retreat from Chicago.

Shaking his head, he turned away from the street and whistled for Mouse and Mister. He had them stay away while the visitors were there.

Mouse bounded up from the back yard where he'd probably been napping and Mister followed him, his tail twitching.

He opened the door to the apartment to let them in while he muttered to himself, "Why the heck Murphy thought they could clean my house is beyond me. Even if she doesn't completely believe, she's been around me long enough to know my effect on electronic things. Oh well, glad that's over with.....sorry I had to scare them off that way but I've got work to do and mortals just get in the way." That said, he stepped into his cave of an apartment and closed the heavy steel door behind him.