Let me reiterate how I ended my last part. Fuck this bitch.
With bitch, I mean Sandra, obviously.
After we’d made our way back and she’d finally had enough of belittling me, she got right back in contact with headquarters. And wouldn’t you know it, she told them all about my ‘reckless and less than stellar’ performance. Her words, not mine. Once that was done, she started on the preparations for the move to our new home.
I’ve got no idea how she could score this place so fast, but I guess money isn’t an objective for headquarters. Or at least it isn’t one when higher ranking personal is involved.
This new place is massive compared to the cramped little shithole I used to live in. Still, I’ll miss the place.
The move was exhaustive, though. Not only because Sandra arranged the entire thing in her usual manner, meaning acting like a massive bitch. No, she made me do all the heavy lifting because of a simple fucking joke, calling the place our little ‘lovers’ nest.’
Tell you what, I’m done for the day.
Sandra’s still busy talking to headquarters and setting up all that fancy new computer and infrastructure shit she said she needed. I couldn’t give a single shit about any of it, but at least she wasn’t getting on my nerves, at least for a while.
As I mentioned yesterday, I hate parasite types. Yesterday, we were lucky enough, and the fucker only infested animals. When they infest humans though, things can get real ugly real fast, especially when kids are involved.
I don’t like to talk about that day two years ago, but after yesterday, the memory’s fresh and it’s eating away at me. I guess writing it all out might help.
To say things got out of hand would be an understatement. It’s been the worst fucking day I ever had on the job. Hell, things got so bad, I’m lucky my employment wasn’t terminated then and there. And I guess you can imagine what a termination means.
The day started off as business as usual. I got a call, the signature data was transferred, and I was informed it was a parasite type.
As I mentioned, parasites create clusters. While the number of sub-hosts one entity can create is limited, every sub-host means one more dead person.
Here’s the worst thing about parasite-types though. The change to the host isn’t often visible right away. A person might look entirely normal while their brain is being consumed and the inside of their body is transformed.
At the zoo, we were lucky enough for the parasite to attack us right away. Guess that fucker wasn’t one of the smart ones. Those often hide their presence, trying their best to infect as many sub-hosts as possible while staying undetected.
That’s why parasite-signatures often involve the usage of specialized equipment such as scanners or alchemic contraptions to reveal and end an infestation.
The moment I saw that the signature was located at the center of a residential area, I cursed to myself. If I was lucky, it might be nothing but a pet. If I wasn’t, I might look at a whole damn family.
I went out with my usual equipment. A gun, protection, a handful of grenades that I hopefully wouldn’t need and a few gadgets and contraptions to help me identify any and all hosts I stumbled upon.
When I reached the signature, I knew I was in a lot of fucking shit. I rechecked the signature twice, hit the close-range scanner, but there was no doubt. It originated from a fucking daycare right in front of me.
I called up headquarters right away and asked for confirmation on the signal. It didn’t take them more than a minute to give me a positive.
I told them what was up, but they were as cold as usual. The location only meant there were lots of potential hosts in one place, and I had to hurry before the infestation could spread further than it might already have.
“Take care of the signature ASAP, exterminator 7D11087, we’ll handle the rest.”
After the connection had been cut, I stood there, not even sure how to go about this. It’s fucking kids, I told myself, goddammit.
Finally, I went to the front door and rang the bell. The woman who appeared eyes me suspiciously right away. I guess I didn’t look like a parent, but someone who was up to questionable things.
In as few words as possible, I rambled on that I was here to check the isolations in the boiler room. There was some trouble with the general heating system, and I’d been sent to have a look at it and assess the damage.
She listened, but the frown on her forehead became deeper and deeper the longer I rambled on. Shit, this wasn’t going well at all. I wasn’t even wearing a fucking overall, and I didn’t have a toolbox or anything. Good going, you fucking idiot.
In a few words, she stated she had to first make sure my information checked out. With that, she tore out her phone and slowly pushed the door back into my face. From the way she held onto the phone, from the way she stared at me, I knew right away she wasn’t calling her boss. No, I was pretty damn sure she was about to hit up the cops.
I cursed and without another thing, I forced the door back open, pushed her aside and got a hold of the phone.
She didn’t like this one bit. She screamed at me, telling me the cops were already notified. If I didn’t want any trouble, I’d get the hell out of here.
Shit. Sure, she hadn’t spoken to anyone, but who knows, maybe all it took was a single button of her damned phone to notify the cops.
I prayed headquarters had already gotten into contact with the authorities. Then, while the woman was still screaming at me, I took a deep breath, reached into my pocket and tore out the gun.
“All right, lady, no more talking. One wrong move and I shoot!”
She shrieked, started shaking, but was quiet instantly. In a moment I had the parasite-scanner in my other hand. I held it up to her and started the process. Within a few seconds, it informed me that there was no hint of an infestation.
“Anyone else working here today?” I asked her, but I had to repeat the question twice more before she could nod.
“Good, call them.”
“W-why, what are you-?”
“I told you, no more fucking talking! Get them here right fucking now!”
Once more she cringed back, but then she nodded and entered a room ahead of us. I heard her speak to someone in a quick, hectic voice. Oh, you’ve got to be… In an instant I was at the door, staring inside. Both women’s eyes grew wide, and they cringed back a step.
The moment I motioned for them to get out, the one I’d spoken to before led the other outside, whispering something to her. The second caretaker was visibly concerned, but the moment I closed the door and held up the gun in front of her, she understood the seriousness of whatever was going on.
Scanning her body revealed the same thing though, no infestation.
“You got any pets or animals here?”
Both shock their heads.
Oh god, it had to be one of the kids.
I learned that all the kids were right inside the room. The weather was terrible today, so they were playing inside. At least I knew where the damned thing was.
“Inside,” I grumbled at the woman. “Tell the kids I’m a doctor or something and we’re doing an examination.”
Neither said a word, but when I pointed the gun at them again, they nodded.
The kids looked up when they saw me. Most of them seemed confused, some even sacred. Well, I couldn’t blame them. I sure as hell didn’t give of a friendly impression.
“All right, everybody,” I started in the nicest voice I could muster. “We’re going to have a brief examination today. It’s not scary at all and it will be over in no time.”
“What are you-?” one of the caretakers asked, but a single glance at her shut her up again.
“Go over there, in the corner,” I whispered at them in a cold, hard voice. When they refused to move, my eyes wandered back to the gun I’d pocketed. When our eyes met again, they finally moved. I could see them shuffle around, saw them staring outside the window, most likely waiting for the cops to arrive any moment now.
I didn’t have time to worry about any of that. Instead, I took out the parasite-scanner again and scanned the kids one by one. The goal was easy enough. Find the infested kid, grab it, rush from the room and exterminate the parasite as quickly as possible. Once it was over, I’d hit up headquarters and get the hell out of here. All I hoped for was that the fucker hadn’t created a cluster yet, no I prayed it hadn’t.
The scanner felt heavy in my sweat-covered hands. I was on fucking edge the entire time and I could tell the workers were as well. They had no clue what I was doing, but they sure as hell didn’t like it.
Worst, however, were the kids. They might not understand what was going on, but they knew something was wrong and I could see how scared and confused they were.
Fuck, I couldn’t wait for this to be over.
Just when I was about to scan a little girl, one of the other kids started screaming up. His arms and legs started shaking, I saw muscles twitching and a second later I knew I’d found the host.
“My god, Marcus, what’s going on?” one of the woman screamed and rushed for the little boy.
Without another word, I pushed her aside, restrained the boy, got out the alchemic contraption and poured it down his throat. It would scramble up his insides, cook the damn thing up and make it abandon his host.
It wasn’t how I wanted things to go. No, this was nothing but nasty, but I didn’t have any other chance. The moment a parasite revealed itself, it knew it was in danger and it would do anything to infest as many potential hosts as possible.
As the contraption took effect, the boy’s body started shaking in my arms, froth formed on his mouth. I waited for the thing to crawl out of his body. My hands were closed around the gun in my pocket, but none of that happened. No parasite.
Shit, fucking goddamn shit!
One of the woman was right by my side, screaming at me, tearing at the boy’s body to get him away from me, but I didn’t give her any attention.
That little boy had been a sub-host, just another puppet the real parasite controlled.
By now the entire room was in a state of sheer and utter panic. The kids were screaming, retreating to the back of the room, huddling behind whatever object they could find.
All of them, all except the little girl from before. She showed almost no emotions at all. No, she went through her movements mechanically, following and copying the behavior she saw all around her.
In that moment, I knew I’d found the real host.
In an instant, the gun was out, and as I pointed it at her, her eyes met mine. They were cold, empty, inhuman eyes.
“What are you trying to do, mister?” the thing asked in its best imitation of the shaky voice of a five-year-old girl.
“Ending this,” I spat, but the moment I was about to press the trigger, one of the two caretakers was upon me. The gun clattered from my hands as she tried her best to get on top of me.
“Don’t you dare, don’t you dare-!” she screamed.
It took me a single moment to restrain her, but that was all the time the thing in front of me had needed.
The girl’s arms were up in the air, her hands were spread apart, and I saw her muscles twitch as a net of tendons pushed from her hands.
The gun, where was the fucking gun!?
In a panic, my eyes darted through the room, only to find it in the hands of the other woman. She was clutching onto it, but her eyes were glued to the horrible abomination that had once been a little girl.
I rushed her, tried to tear the gun from her hands, but she was frozen in sheer and utter terror. Without a second thought I knocked her out. The hands holding the gun let go as she keeled over.
These few moments, however, had been enough. They had been more than e-fucking-nough, I realized.
By now the parasite had gotten a hold of half the kids in the room. Some were on the floor, shaking and convulsing, others were still being infested, thick, long tendons pushing their way down their throats. The rest was still hiding, shaking and rocking back and forth.
The woman I’d restrained before was out of it. She stumbled to the little girl.
“Franzisca, what’s going on, what are you-?” I heard her mumble.
“Get away from-“ I screamed, but there was nothing I could do.
More tendons burst from the body of the little girl, digging into and through the woman’s body. A second later she fell to the floor a bloodied mess. I knew what it was doing. It had no use for her. No, it wanted only the kids.
And right at that moment, in a state of complete rage, I pulled the trigger. I emptied the entire clip into the monstrosity in front of me until what remained crashed to the floor as a tattered mess.
The original host was down, but there were more kids that had been infested, more sub-hosts.
Even if you kill the original host, these minor parasites will still kill them, will still turn them into monsters themselves. The only difference was that they wouldn’t be able to spread the infestation any further. Still though, these were kids we were talking about. Yet, I could already see the first of them getting to their feet, their bodies bulging, changing, ready to come for me.
What I did next, I’ll never be comfortable sharing, never be comfortable thinking about. At times this job truly fucking sucks, at others, it’s nothing short of gut-wrenching.
Once I was done, I chased the remaining kids outside, pulled the unconscious caretaker from the room and threw a flamer inside. No other way, I had to make sure everything in this damned room was gone.
When I walked from the building, I was stunted and shaken. Tears were streaming from my face.
I could see the police nearby, could see screaming and protesting people and I could see headquarters agents in their dark inconspicuous suits.
They came for me the moment I exited the building. They told me a lot of things as they escorted me from the premise, but I don’t remember a single thing.
What happened that day was ruled as a gas leak. When a caretaker had lit a candle to show something, an entire room at the daycare went up in flames. The caretaker, and all the kids in the room, were killed. Overall, almost half the kids that were there that day didn’t make it.
The whole thing made big news, despite headquarters trying their best to handle the situation. There were a lot of questions, too many of them. Parents wondered about the supposed gas leak, others talked about the police being on their way even before the explosion happened, and yet others reported seeing suspicious people in the area. Headquarters had to handle a lot of paperwork, and I’m sure they had to pay off a lot of people to get it all covered up.
It was a mere two days later that I got confronted by an Adjudicator about the situation. They’d analyzed the entire incident and my procedure of handling it. There’d also be a thorough investigation of my abilities as well as my mental state. She admitted though that it was an unprecedented case.
In the end, I was pardoned. Headquarters admitted the situation wasn’t fit to be handled by what they referred to as a low-ranking exterminator all on his own. They should’ve evacuated the building, and the kids should’ve been isolated from one another before I even arrived at the premise.
They wrote an entire fucking protocol about the day, a record of my failure, and made it a textbook example how not to do things.
And that was it. There was no word about the kids, nothing at all. They became nothing more than a statistic, a number that was noted down and stored in headquarters’ vast archives.
For them, it was nothing but business as usual, even if things had gotten out of hand.
I don’t remember how long it took me to get over the incident. No, to be honest, I think I never did.
You see, ever since I started this line of work, no, ever since I was little, I don’t dream a lot. Most of my nights are nothing but dreamless sleep.
If I dream though, during the few nights I do, I’m right back there. Right back in that room, surrounded by screaming and dying kids, and I watch myself pulling the trigger again and again and again. Until there’s nothing left, nothing but deafening silence.
Fuck monsters and fuck the days you become one yourself.