I think we can all agree that Mondays are the worst.
Doesn’t matter where you work or what you do, the start of a new week always sucks. It sucks especially hard if you’re crawling through a freaking sewer tunnel at eight in the morning.
No, I’m not part of a sewage cleaning crew. Sometimes, I wish I was because it would be way less trouble.
Instead, I’m working as an exterminator and not the kind you’d expect. What I take care of aren’t rodents or strays, not even people.
No, I take care of, for simplicity’s sake, monsters.
Tell you the truth, this morning I wasn’t in the mood for work. Zero fucking percent. That’s not how the job goes, though. First, you can’t laze around with those… things. Give them a few unattended hours and you might look at a few dead people, and that’s the best-case-scenario. Second, there’s headquarters. If you ignore them, you wish you’d crawled the freaking sewers.
After a particularly rough patch on Saturday, I decided to use Sunday to unwind. Which meant shitty food, shitty movies and shitty bourbon, lots of shitty bourbon. Don’t judge, in my line of work, you can really use the occasional blackout.
So, yeah, I wasn’t happy when my phone rang at six in the fucking morning. Not at all.
“Jesus, what the hell’s going on?” I cursed as I scrambled for my phone.
“Yeah?” I asked, still tired and still very much drunk.
“Exterminator 7D11087, we’ve found a new signature in your vicinity,” the computerized voice of headquarters erupted from the speaker.
“We’re transferring the location of the signature to you as we speak. Our data shows that it’s most likely a D-Class, vermin type. Immediate termination is required for the incident not to spread.”
With that, the voice cut out, and a moment later my phone notified me that the signature data had been transferred.
I lay on the couch, rubbing my temples while I cursed to myself.
“Fucking hell, two incidents within three days?”
For another minute I didn’t move before I heaved myself off the couch, cringing at my splitting headache. A quick look at my desk told me it hadn’t been just a single bottle of bourbon who’d kept me company yesterday. For a moment the second bottle, still containing a good third, looked a little too tempting. I forced myself to ignore it and made my way to the storage room.
This thing would be a witch’s wet dream. Strange liquids, weird objects, old books, and god knows what else lined the shelves. It was all the stuff I’d gathered over the years or had been sent by headquarters to help me on the job. I rummaged through the contents before I found what I’d been looking for, one of headquarters alchemic contraptions. I’ve no clue what the stuff’s made from. It’s usually used to treating mental damage after encountering creatures with mental powers. Works like a charm against hangovers as well, though. I popped a vial, downed it, and soon the stinging pain in my head became nothing but a slight throbbing.
Ten minutes later, I was on my way. It was supposed to be a D-Class incident, so I opted for a single gun, some protective armor, and few gadgets that could make life a tad bit easier. I also got my hands on a couple of flash grenades, but I probably wouldn’t need those. Still, it never hurt to be prepared.
The area the signature originated from was near the outskirts of town, near an old abandoned industrial complex.
“Now isn’t that great, can’t wait to get there.”
Really, I couldn’t imagine anything more fun than spending my Monday morning hunting down vermin on steroids in old warehouses or factory halls.
Turns out I didn’t have to. No, the reality was much, much worse. It was a literal shitshow. As I got closer to my destination, I could already see the sewer entrance.
“You’ve got to be freaking kidding me,” I cursed in frustration.
I rechecked the data, but the moment I got closer to the tunnel, I knew I was at the right place. The mutilated remains of some poor schmuck didn’t leave any doubts. When I checked the body, I saw that half his face was gone, gnawed away down to the bone. From the dirty clothes, I could tell he was most likely homeless and had made his home out here.
“Shit man, why didn’t you go to any of the shelters,” I said before I stapled the corpse with a little microchip.
It’s standard procedure. The moment you find a corpse, or well, what remains of it, you’ve got to mark it so headquarters’ clean-up crews can take care of it. Leaving behind any evidence is a big no-no.
For a moment I stared down into the tunnel and listened, but I couldn’t see or hear a damn thing. Rechecking the signature data again told me that there were three of the things down there, whatever they were.
I got my gun ready, stared at the disgusting sewer water for a moment, and plunged inside. The stink was unbearable. It smelled like feces, chemicals, and rot.
I was barely a few meters in when I learned where the rotten smell was from. I also learned that the homeless dude outside wasn’t the only victim. The remains of at least two, hell, maybe three people were down here. It was hard to tell.
I pushed myself past them but wondered what I was up against. D-Class was usually nothing serious, creatures the size of rats or maybe dogs. Sure, dangerous, but no problem for an exterminator like me. Those corpses, though…
With each step, the tunnel grew darker. I felt my skin crawling. I was almost blind down here. Even worse, the tunnel was old and deteriorated. Small crevices and holes lined the sides and whenever I passed one of them, I was expecting something would jump me.
All right, I’m not walking around blind anymore, I told myself.
“May there be light,” I whispered in a joking voice as I took out a small beacon, the size of a tennis ball. I activated it and threw it down the tunnel ahead of me. It glimmered slightly before it flooded the tunnel with light.
For a moment I noticed several strange symbols on the wall to my right. Got no time for freaking graffiti, I told myself as I went on.
After a few more steps, I stopped. About a dozen meters ahead of me, the tunnel was covered and encrusted by a disgusting, slimy web.
The moment I saw it, I knew what I was up against: freaking spider rats. I knew headquarters had a specific name from them in their freaking compendium, but I could remember none of that shit, and frankly, I didn’t care. What I knew, though, was that the things were usually the size of dogs, the premature ones that is. If they were fully grown though…
Shit, this was no simple D-Class incident. I might be in serious trouble.
As if to prove me right, two of the fuckers popped up right ahead of me. There was a smaller one, about the size of a cat, dangling from the ceiling, its eight legs twitching as it saw me. The other was one nasty fucker. It filled out half the tunnel and was easily the same size as me.
I held up the gun, ready to unload on the beasts before they could attack me. Right at that moment, though, I realized that I’d fucked up. There had been three signals, not two, and when I felt a sharp piercing pain from my right leg, I knew where the third one was. Right below me, gnawing at my fucking leg.
I screamed up in pain, lost my balance, but shook the fucker off. A second later, the eight-legged, furry beast propelled itself back at me. For a moment I stared at its wide-open mouth, the clawed feet, and its disgusting bloated body.
Two shots of the gun evaporated the thing in midair, painting the tunnel and me in disgusting, spider-rat goo.
“Fuck,” I cursed up, raised the gun again, but the smaller of the two other creatures was right upon me. Screeching, it jumped from the wall of the sewer and latched onto my shoulder. Its long spidery legs closed around my arm, restraining it. It was about to sink its fangs into my neck, but a second before it could, I pushed the gun down its throat and pulled the trigger.
The sound of the gunshot made me wince. A sharp pain cut through my ear, leaving me half-dizzy and half-deaf. Fuck, way to be careless, you goddamn idiot!
There was no time. I shook my head, trying to steady myself again, but right at this moment, the third beast crashed into my body. I was thrown backward, pushed underwater, and swallowed a mouthful of the disgusting sewage water. I fought myself back up, coughing and screaming, but the thing was right on top of me now. There was a loud screech as it closed its jaws around my right arm.
Pain shot through my arm and the gun clattered from my hand. Once more I was pushed underwater. The thing’s clawed feet scratched over my body, tearing at the protective armor I was wearing, and I knew it wouldn’t last much longer. In desperation, I punched the thing’s head, once, twice, but it didn’t do a damn thing. All it did was to make the thing angrier. Its jaws tightened, grinding against the bone as it tore at my arm. I screamed again as I felt muscles tear and tendons tighten. If not for the protective armor, I’d have lost my arm then and there and would soon, anyway.
The flash grenade erupted right above us. Thankfully, I knew it was coming and covered my eyes. The creature, though, had no clue what hit it.
The tunnel was drowned in blazing white light. An ear-piercing scream cut through the tunnel as the thing let go of my arm. It retreated backward, its giant body beating the water and the walls in search of me.
Shit, the gun! Where’s the freaking gun!
I went down on my knees, my left hand scratching over the floor of the tunnel. Shit, shit, shit, come on! Then, my hand closed around cold, hard steel. Just as the light of the grenade waned, and the thing came back to its senses, I unloaded the entire magazine into its body. It screeched once more before it convulsed and crashed down in the water in front of me.
“Fucking piece of shit,” I screamed at the thing. I kicked the body again and again before I couldn’t go on anymore.
I stood there, panting. Then I checked my arm and saw the deep gashing wound. It was bad, all right, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. I checked the radar again, pinged the area, but there was no sign of any other creatures nearby. Well, there didn’t need to, three had been more than enough.
I kicked the thing in front of me again to prove it was really dead before I walked to the slimy web. I sprayed it with a chemical solution and lit it. Within moments, the thing went up in flames.
“Well, that’s that,” I told myself. “Another job well done,” I joked as I limped from the tunnel. For a moment I considered checking out the holes and crevices I’d noticed before. There hadn’t been any more signals though, so fuck it. I pressed a few buttons on the phone to inform headquarters the job was done. Time to send in the clean-up crews.
Once I was out, I applied some bandages to my arm and leg. Hopefully, it would be enough until I made it home and could put some of headquarters magical pixie dust on it. Well, it’s not really pixie dust, it’s some sort of healing contraption, but it gets the job done. Got a flesh wound on your arm or leg? In a day or two, you’re as good as new. God knows what the stuff is, but hell, I’ll take it.
The moment I was home, I took off everything and went straight under the shower to wash off the stink of the sewers and the damn spider rats. God, that was enough sewer crawling for a long, long while.
I’d slumped down the couch, happy to get back to sleep when my phone rang again.
I stared at it. There was no freaking way. Another signature in one fucking day?
You know, I never knew a computerized voice could sound anything but monotonous, definitely not angry or frustrated, but I swear, that’s exactly what it sounded like.
“Exterminator 7D11087, the clearance you gave us could not be confirmed. Our re-scan of the area proved that there are still organisms there. Please return to the area immediately and make sure you not only destroy all organisms but also the nest. The creatures are multiplying as we speak. We like to remind you that this job is of the utmost importance and requires due diligence. We also like to remind you that none of our contraptions are for personal usage. Please find a different way to handle your alcohol problems or there will be repercussions.”
With that, the call ended. When the new data had been transferred, I could see at least half a dozen new signals. By the time I got there, I was sure there’d be even more.
“Fucking shit, I forget the fucking nest! Those fucking holes and crevices!” I cursed and threw the now empty second bottle of bourbon against the wall.
Fuck Monsters and fuck Mondays!