After yesterday’s shitshow I was depressed, uneasy and restless. It wasn’t just the withdrawals from the alcohol and the damned pills. Neither was it, I have to admit, the knowledge that all those people had died.
No, what really fucked me over big time, was the knowledge that headquarters had sent someone to assist me. Well, strike that out, they’d sent me a damned watch dog. I knew what they’d said, and I knew how they’d worded it, but I damn well knew how they’d meant it.
I couldn’t sit still all morning. As much as I tried to calm down, I paced my shithole of an apartment. God, I hated the entire thing already.
Minutes turned to hours. When my phone rang, I hoped it was another incident for the first time in, well, forever.
Of course it wasn’t. The monotone computer voice informed me that my new friend had just landed and was on the way to my humble base of operations.
For a moment I considered to just downing another bottle of booze and getting wasted before whatever asshole they’d sent would get here. Then I grew nervous, itchy even, and put the bottle back. If I did that, headquarters would most likely be informed about it and it would be added to my ever-growing list of digressions.
Instead, I forced myself to wait patiently. It wasn’t long before I cleaned up the trash all around me, but I gave up as quickly as I’d started. Not like it was any use, I thought, sighing.
When the doorbell rang, I cringed at the sound. My head was still throbbing, and I wasn’t in the mood to be goody-two-shoes with anyone.
As quietly as I could, I inched towards the front door and took a glance through the spyglass. When I noticed a woman with long, black hair standing outside, I felt myself relaxing.
All right, calm down, be friendly. She’s probably a new neighbor who wants to introduce herself. And I had to admit, she wasn’t bad looking at all.
I took a deep breath, combed through my hair and straightened my shirt before I opened the door.
“Hey there,” I said in my smoothest voice and gave her a little wink. “Can I help you with something?”
She stared at me, squinting her eyes. A frown showed on her face and she took out her phone as if to check something.
All the while I stood there, leaning slightly against the doorframe, the smile on my face not wavering for a moment.
When she finally spoke up, it vanished instantly.
“Exterminator 7D11087, I presume?”
I heard the words, but failed to understand them. There was no freaking way, was there. My eyes wandered from her face, down to her feet and back up again. By now, her face had changed to a mixture of annoyance and disappointment.
“Eh, ehm, are you,” I broke up and instead took a step aside to let her past me.
Shit, so much for first impressions. How the hell was I able to fuck up every single thing these days?
“I’m exterminator 4B98344, Sandra Petrova. As you’re aware, headquarters sent me here to assist you in your exterminations and observe your general attitude and diligence on the job.”
I listened, but I could only focus on her code-number, 4B98344.
Here’s the thing, those aren’t chosen at random, no, they are chosen by rank. The lower the letter at the second position, the higher the rank. This chick here was a B, meaning she was way above me in rank.
“N-nice to meet you,” I pressed out and reached out a hand to greet her.
Her eyes wandered from my face to the outstretched hand before they returned to my face. No other part of her body moved. My hand dangled there, in the air, for a while longer before I let it drop.
“So, I assume this is your… base of operations,” she continued and I saw her scanning the room. Once more her disappointment was visible as she took in the general chaos that was my apartment. Her eyes came to rest on the empty bottles of booze and she sighed.
“We need to make a few arrangements. For now, though, I’d like to have a look at the status of your equipment.”
“Sure thing, it’s right over here.”
With that, I led her to my small storage room.
“Open Sesame,” I joked as I pushed the door open for her. She took in the chaotic state of the room with an exasperated look on her face.
I heard her mumble an unintelligible curse.
“Well, you know what Einstein said,” I began, “order’s for idiots, but only a genius-“
“I’m well aware of the quote, exterminator 7D11087. However,” she trailed on, eying me once more, “someone like you definitely needs order.”
All right, this chick was a freaking bitch.
“You know, maybe I like it that way? Maybe that’s the way I run shit around here.”
“Well, that’s unfortunate, exterminator 7D11087, but headquarters has put me in charge of this whole operation here. So from now on, we’re running SHIT my way.”
With that she pushed an official document my way that stated exactly what she’d just said, only in more professional words. Before I could so much as retort anything, she continued on talking.
“In my briefing, I was informed about the cryptic writings and symbols discovered during your last extermination. To analyze the general situation, I’d like to assess all the data of the recent incidents and take a detailed look at all the areas in which signatures occurred.”
She took out her phone, pressed a few buttons and went through a list of my latest misadventures.
“I think it’s best we visit all those places in order to see if there’s any other hints of symbols or writings, starting with the abandoned sewers on the-“
“Yeah, that’s all nice and fine, but there’s no way we’ll find anything in those sewers, or even the sewers.”
She gave me an inquiring look. I answered it with a shrug.
“The sewers are pretty much gone. Took care of the whole damned infestation with a few of those beauties over there.”
With that, I pointed at the stack of standard issue grenades I’d used to blow up the whole fucking thing after I was forced to go back there.
She stared at me. Her mouth opened, the disbelief visible on her face.
“You… blew them up?”
“Believe me, sweetheart, the fuckers had it coming.”
At the word sweetheart, her face grew visibly angry. I couldn’t help but smile a little when I saw it. Oh, this was going to be a fantastic partnership, I could already tell.
In the end, there wasn’t much we could do. The apartment complex where I’d encountered the humanoid type was still closed off because of an ongoing police investigation. The park area I’d fought the swarm type in had been torched to the ground. As for the urban development area, she’d already been provided with a visual analysis of the cryptic writings and symbols.
While Sandra was busy arranging a few things with headquarters, I went back to the couch to waste away. As I sat there, I could hear her stern, anger-filled voice as she cursed at headquarters for sending her here. The entire call lasted almost half-an-hour.
“We’re going to relocate to a new location within the next days,” she spat at when she returned. “This place here is too small and too much in a state of disarray for anyone to work at any level of efficiency.”
“All right, lady, how about you talk like a normal fucking person for once? What’s it you’re trying to tell me?”
“We’re going to move to a different apartment. This one here’s too small, and it’s a dump!”
I took one look around the apartment, stared at the dirty dishes, the trash bags and the empty bottles of booze. To be honest, she had a point, the place was a dump, but it was my dump. I liked the place.
“And where’s that new place going to,” I started but was cut off by Sandra’s phone going off.
“Shit, what now?”
She gave me another angry stare before she picked up and listened. After not even half a minute, the call ended, and I knew what was going on.
“Let me guess, we’ve got work to do, right?”
This time she only nodded. “Get your equipment ready, we’re moving out ASAP. It’s only a D-class, so we should be able to finish things quickly and efficiently.”
“Sure thing, boss,” I said as I suited up.
I put on my protective armor, got a hold of my trusty gun, the combat knife and a handful of grenades. As I filled my pockets, Sandra couldn’t help but stare at me.
“Exterminator 7D11087, as I mentioned, it’s only a D-class incident, I believe there’s no need-“
“You know what, you might be in command now, lady, so I’m doing whatever you fucking tell me to. But listen, if I’m going to go out there, I’m going prepared. You got a problem with that, you can fuck right off.”
Sandra gave me a frustrated look before she mumbled a ‘whatever’ and we went on our way.
“So, what kind of horror are we up against today? Vermin? Beast? Humanoids?”
“D-class, presumably a parasite type.”
Fucking fantastic, if there was anything I hated more than any of the other fuckers out there, it was parasites. I always had, but after the shitshow at the daycare, I always hated handling them.
“The signature’s about two kilometers away from here, within the city zoo. The place is put under lockdown as we speak and all personal is under order of evacuation.”
“Lockdown? Evacuation? You said it’s a D-class-“
“It’s under article F.17b of the codex that we’re to evacuate any public areas in which an incident occurs.”
Fuck the codes, I thought, but didn’t say it.
“Yeah, but don’t you think this is a little,” I began, but my voice trailed off. There was no way I could discuss anything with this stuck-up bitch. As I stared at her now, I saw she wasn’t wearing any armor and carrying no weapons, nothing at all.
“Yo, lady, you sure you want to go out there like that?”
She eyed me curiously. “What are you talking about?”
“No armor, no weapons, you got a death wish?”
Sandra gave me a condescending smile. “I can handle myself, exterminator 7D11087. Anyway, today I’m only here to observe how you handle the situation.”
“Great, so I’ve got to do all the dirty work while you sit back and enjoy the show?”
Her answer was another sigh.
While we made our way into the park, Sandra took out her phone again.
“Visitors have been evacuated, staff is informed that there’s an emergency and has been accounted for, except one person.”
“Shit,” I cursed. “You know anything more about that?”
Sandra shook her head. I cursed again. So we most likely had some sort of infected freak causing havoc around the park.
As we made our way through the park, I took out the short-range scanner. The thing was acting weird. There was more than one signal and I knew what it meant instantly, sub-hosts. The fucker must’ve already infected some animals and had created a cluster. That’s the real danger of a parasite type. Once those fuckers have found a suitable host and taken over its body, they infect other life forms around, creating extensions of themselves, all under control of the host-body.
My eyes were glued to the moving positions on the scanner as I walked on when Sandra stopped me. I looked up and saw her pointing at something ahead of us.
Right in front of us were the battered remains of an animal. I couldn’t even tell what type it had once been. Sandra went to check on it, but I stormed right past her.
“Exterminator 7D11087, we don’t even know what-“
“It’s Dylan, by the way, and we got no time for that shit! That thing’s out there, creating a cluster!”
With that, I hurried on, my eyes on the scanner. There were three, no four signals, but there was no guarantee that was all of them. I heard Sandra curse behind me before she came after me.
“We do not know what we’re up against, how can you just-“
“Doesn’t matter what we’re up against, does it? We’ve got to take the fucker and its cluster down.”
As I ran on, I noticed more animal carcasses around us.
For a moment I caught something ahead, a shadow up in a tree, but it was gone before I could even see what it was. Guess it already knows we’re here, shit.
A minute later, I realized how wrong I’d been. I’d thought the host was the missing staff worker, but his battered remains were right in front of us. The only thing showing that he’d once been a human was the now bloodied shirt with the zoo logo on it.
Ahead of him, I saw what we were really up against. The bent open bars of the empty monkey enclosure left no doubt.
“Fucking hell. All right, where are you, you fuckers?”
I hit the scanner once more, but before I could even have a look at it, I heard them. The twisted, screeching yelps of monkeys.
There were three, four, five, shit way too fucking many of them.
In a moment the gun was in my right hand, ready to blow them all away when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.
One creature was right above Sandra. The fingers of his hand had turned into nasty little claws, and its mouth was right open, revealing a row of twisted little teeth.
When I saw it descending on her, I moved almost by instinct. Sure, she was a bitch, but damn, I wouldn’t let those fuckers kill another person.
My body collided with hers, throwing her out of the monkey’s path.
The creature was right upon me. His feet got a hold of my arm and I barely avoided it as it tried scratching my eyes out. It screeched as it sunk its teeth deep into the protective armor, but its jaws weren’t strong enough to penetrate it.
With a little grin, I got a hold of it and smashed it into the ground in front of me. One shot of the gun was enough to finish the beast off.
Behind me Sandra got back to her feet, cursing heavily. Yet, I didn’t turn around. The rest of the monkeys stared first at me, then at her again. I grinned, those fuckers knew I was covering her.
“Exterminator 7D11087, what are you doing?” she asked as I stepped in front of her.
“Shut up, you got no armor and no weapons, they’ll tear you up in seconds! Just stay back and enjoy the show!”
She protested, but I didn’t listen anymore. Instead, I focused on the beasts in front of me. They were fast, way too fucking fast. I hit one, then a second one, but the rest quickly retreated, waiting for another chance to attack. I tried to hit them from afar, but the fuckers were way too fast, jumping and tumbling around, easily avoiding all of my shots.
“Guess I’ve got to lure them in,” I said with a grin.
I put the gun away.
“Now then, why don’t you come and get me?” I called out, but they made no move.
I took out the combat knife. A damned parasite might control them, but I knew one thing, there was always a symbiosis, especially with animals. Their instincts always remained.
In one swift move I got a hold of a dead monkey, rammed the knife into it and started cutting it to pieces, right before their eyes. They didn’t like that one bit.
“Yeah, you like that, don’t you?”
A moment later they rushed me. They were fast, all right, faster than I’d expected. Shit, no time for the gun.
I threw the remains at the first beast, toppling it over, but another one was right upon me. I felt its claws getting a hold of me, but before it could do anything, I rammed the knife into its head.
By now, though, the rest had arrived as well. I made quick work of a second one that tried to come right for my face. The combat knife went through its body like through warm butter, covering me in monkey blood. For a moment I was blind, but I could feel one of them on my leg, its claws trying its best to make their way past the protective armor. Cursing, I shook my leg while I rubbed blood out of my eyes. Only to see another one jumping at me. Its claws tore over my cheek before I could finish it.
That’s three down, two more to go. The one on my leg went down quickly enough. Now where was the last one?
Shit, don’t tell me… but when I turned I found Sandra unharmed.
I dropped the knife, taking out the gun, and scanned the area.
“Where the fuck are you?”
That’s when I saw it. It had made its way to one of the other enclosures nearby and before I could so much as shoot it vanished inside.
“You’ve got to be freaking kidding me,” I cursed when I saw the monkey had made it to the animal inside, a freaking rhino of all things.
Even worse, it had wasted no time. Its claws had dug deep into the rhino’s head. A multitude of tendons had already pushed into the rhino’s body.
It was the freaking host, and it had just created another sub-host, I realized.
The glassy, bloodshot eyes of the rhino focused on me. I saw its body tremble, muscles twitched and pushed outward.
A moment later, an ear-piercing shriek cut through the air.
Sandra was near me, yelling, but I didn’t understand a damn word.
The gun was in my hand, but when I saw the rhino charging forward, I knew it wouldn’t do a damn thing. It crashed against the wall of the enclosure. Stone and concrete exploded outward.
“All right, not good, not good at all!” I screamed as I ran.
Shit, I didn’t have long! With each passing moment, it got closer. Finally, my hand closed around a small piece of metal. There you are, I thought before I threw the grenade behind me, right into the path of the symbiotic abomination behind me.
There was a thundering explosion. I was thrown off my feet, tumbled forward and came to a stop half a dozen meters ahead. When I turned around, I saw nothing but giant chunks of meat. The beast had been obliterated, and I knew the parasite with it.
“That’s what you get, that’s what you fucking get!” I screamed at the remains behind me.
I turned to look at Sandra, who stared at me in utter disbelief.
“Told you I’d get the job done,” I said with a wide grin on my face.
At that, the look on her face changed from disbelief to anger, to outright rage.
“You think that’s getting the job done? First, look at the destruction you caused, second that rhinoceros wouldn’t have been infected if you’d handled the extermination with proper diligence! Why didn’t you focus on the main host right from the start!?”
“What the hell? You’re yelling at me right after I saved your sorry ass? No thanks for fucking saving you? Nothing at all? That thing would’ve torn you to pieces if not for me!”
She didn’t like that. As she tore me a new one, screaming and belittling me as an utter idiot, my thoughts drifted away to a better time, a time when I was working on my own.
Fuck monsters and fuck this bitch!