Those weren't raccoons, Mrs. Thompson
People still give me that look when I show up at their door telling them I’m the pest control technician. I suppose it’s because I look a lot younger than most of the other folks in my field of work. I thought this was going to be a temporary gig, you know, for the first year or two after I’d dropped out of high school. Well, it’s been five years.
Insects and rodents never bugged me much (sorry about the pun), and I never really figured why people were so afraid of them. I mean, just look at how BIG we are compared to how small they are. Then again I suppose it’s easy to get desensitized when you work in this field. A friend of mine who works in the meat shop says the same thing about his job. It’s true. We could probably dig our hands into a human carcass and not even flinch.
I’ve dealt with bed bugs, roaches, beehives, rats… you name it. It’s not very often that I run into something that I don’t want to deal with. This story is one of those rare occasions where I threw my hands up and said “Sorry, call someone else.”
I’d been to Mrs. Thompson’s place before. She’d spotted mouse droppings around the house so she called us in to get rid of the rodents. It was an enormous house, way too big for one person to live in. Even her cat had a bigger room than I did. My first visit only lasted about fifteen minutes. I laid down some snap traps around the house and let them work their magic. Two weeks later, I dropped by again to check on the traps: Six mice caught and no sign of any other. It would be six months before we got another call from Mrs. Thompson.
This time, it was something else. Her cat Bingo had gone missing and she was damn sure raccoons had something to do with it. She told us she could hear them at night, creeping in and around the house, only to scurry away every time she went looking for them.
Now I mentioned before that bugs don’t bother me much. Raccoons on the other hand pose a very real threat. Many of them are rabid, and aren’t afraid to attack humans if they feel threatened. I’ve been taught to deal with them using non-confrontational methods, such as placing a bright lamp or loud radio in their suspected hiding places. It usually works—on raccoons—but those things living in her walls were no raccoons.
When I entered Mrs. Thompson’s house this time, I immediately noticed a subtle but persistent odor. It smelled like rot. Something seemed off about her otherwise beautiful Victorian home. Upon closer inspection, I noticed a rusty, red substance seeping from the corners of her ceiling—only small amounts of it, but enough to leave a light brownish stain.
I followed the smell to an air vent in her den, one barely large enough to shove a baby through. Peering inside, I saw a few locks of fur—presumably Bingo’s. The stench was foul beyond words.
When I tried to remove the cover, I realized that whatever critter lurked in Mrs. Thompson’s house must have had the manual dexterity of a skilled carpenter. That, or very sharp claws. In the end I had to pry it open with a knife.
Lying flat on my stomach, I reached into the opening and felt around. That was when I grabbed onto what I thought was a tennis ball and took it out of the hole. Turned out, it was Bingo. Well, actually, just her head.
I deal with dead animals all the time, but I’d be lying if I said that didn’t frighten me a little. Parts of her spine were still clinging onto it, as if the head was yanked off after a violent struggle. Its eyes were missing, too. The way the nerves dangled out of the sockets made it look like something had sucked her eyeballs out.
Then I heard the thing.
Its shriek echoed down the duct, a bizarre sound I’d never heard before. I was lying on my back now, sliding my head further into the hole with a small flashlight clasped between my lips, trying to get a glimpse of the culprit.
And then I saw it. The creature was staring back at me, its eyes glazed and jet black. Behind it, dozens of eggs were burrowed into the side of the walls. Some were empty pods while others were still throbbing with life.
I was locked in a staring contest with the heinous creature. I imagine it might’ve been thinking the same thing about me. It hissed and shrieked, this time louder than the first. Whatever that thing was, it did not belong in our world.
Its slimy grey body was dripping with a red, gooey fluid which I first mistook for sweat or saliva. Then some of it dropped into my mouth, and I tasted the blood-like rustiness of it.
I pulled myself out of there as fast as I could and spat out whatever it was that went into my mouth. I gathered my things and darted from the place, not taking one look back as I ran to my car.
I felt bad for leaving Mrs. Thompson’s cat on the floor like that. I realized she must've been very unsettled by the sight of her decapitated pet. I kind of expected her to call up the company to file a complaint about me, but she never did.
Three days ago, I was dispatched to deal with an infestation at a house not too far from Mrs. Thompson’s. I drove by her block and slowed down when I approached her lot. To my surprise, the old house had already been torn down, as well as the houses behind and adjacent to it. I noticed that many of the houses in the area had gone up for sale. There seemed to be nobody in any of the houses in the area.
When I drove away from where the house used to be, I heard a shriek coming from behind, echoing in the distance. Just as I was about to turn onto the main road, I saw a whole pack of those slimy grey things in my rear view mirror, crawling across the street towards their next habitat.