The foreman, John Walls, surprises everyone, including himself, by swearing at the carpenters. The youngest one flips him off before returning to the framing. The kid isn’t to blame; John has been a bastard to work for lately. But instead of retaliating, he sighs and rubs the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand.
So far, nothing has gone right on this house. It’s two months behind and slipping more every day. He won’t be surprised if the general contractor fires him and puts in someone who can handle it. That thought brings on a fresh bout of heartburn and he pops two more Tums, jaws grinding as he slowly chews. Jesus, here I am, forty-two, and already can’t handle a chili dog. I’ll be on oatmeal and Egg Beaters before you know it.
“John,” declares the senior electrician “we got big problems.”
“What now?” John snaps, grateful for a distraction, but dreading another crisis.
“There’s water in the basement and it’s shorting out the wiring.”
“Damn,” John swears and shoves the man aside. He grabs a flashlight before stomping down the stairs into the basement. Everyone else remains upstairs, not wanting to cross him when he’s on edge. Lately, he’s always on edge, with his twin daughters in college and his wife wanting a hot tub, a Lexis, vacations in Hawaii, whatever. He’s just a foreman for god’s sake, not the frigging contractor.
He swings the light around and surveys the damage. His indigestion burns, making him wish he’d chosen oatmeal instead of the Chicago Special. Or at least skipped the jalapeños. As the light breaks up the gloom, an inky shape flicks out of sight around a corner. John frowns while creeping towards the movement, praying that it isn’t a rat.
“That’s all I need,” he mutters. Nothing screws up a job site faster than rats. He pushes some trash aside and reveals the crimson glow of multiple eyes. Focused on him. Bearing down on him. His last thought before the creatures fly at him, all glistening fangs and outstretched claws, is that it isn’t heartburn after all. He clutches his chest and crumples beneath the onset.