Why I retired from Pest Control!
I was an exterminator, and my last job has driven me to early retirement, that pretty much sums up this story.
Have you ever seen those shows, where they send in people in hazmat suits to clean up the crap piled mountains of hoarded garbage, yeah well that was me.
On top of deep cleaning homes, I had the lovely job of exterminating the swarms of pests that thrive in those conditions.
I’ve seen things you wouldn’t imagine, bathtubs filled with roaches, living and dead layered on top of each other like a crunchy crawling lasagna.
Oh and there was this one time, where me and my partner Phil, went into a house with, and I quote a small rat problem; let me tell you there was nothing small about them. They were like rats on roids, Phil even joked, he swore he saw one with a tear drop tattoo and a switch blade.
I digress, the reason I’m telling you all this, is so that you understand. So you can tell that I’m just an average Joe (literally my name is Joe) and I’m a sane, straight shooting working class bloke.
That’s important you see, for what I’m about to tell you, will make you question the validity of my writing, but I swear to you, that it is the honest truth.
About a week ago, we got a call for a job just outside of Kansas. It was a little farmstead, with the owner complaining about a vermin problem.
Rats no problem, I thought when Phil told me. I mean having dealt with cat sized roid rats, I was sure that I could handle what ever pests were running amok on a farm. Besides Phil had assured me this was going to be an easy job.
I had no reason to think he'd be wrong.
So we went out, to the home of the woman who called, a Mrs Keddlewell.
Across the arid wastes we drove, and upon driving up the dirt road I could see it.
A little farm, with a crooked, crudely crafted windmill spinning slowly beside it.
The place was quaint, like a dream of yester years, that never were.
It was the sort of place one would imagine as the backdrop to a black and white western, where troubles melted like lemon drops and twisters delivered you to far off and strange new worlds.
However there was also something off about the place.
From it’s fields of dried yellow grass and baron soil, to the enormous barn; it’s red paint faded and it’s interior empty of animals.
The cogs began to spin in my head and I found myself wondering what kind of a farm is this, if it doesn’t have any animals or crops.
Still maybe they used to run it as a farm, but have retired it since, I told myself. Yeah that seemed logical to me. Maybe they ran it and had since gotten too old and let it slip into disrepair. It happens.
When we parked the van up, I looked at the home ahead. It was a teetering two floored structure. A gnarled, crudely constructed wooden homestead, made of uneven planks and entirely stripped of it's exterior painting; probably from a lifetime of battering by the harsh sand filled winds.
“You’re not one of them sales men or with those who keep trying to take my home.” a shrewd elderly voice squawked from the shadows of her porch.
“No madame, we’re from Squeaky Clean, the pest control and house cleaning service.” Phil said, stepping his portly body up onto the porch, his large workmen boots causing it to squeak as he did.
“Oh of course you are, and may I say you seem like a sweet young man. Are you here to deal with the vermin?” the shrivelled old lady asked, her toothless wrinkled mouth grinning at Phil.
I followed in Phil’s wake and looked at the shrewd little old woman, all wrinkled up and wrapped in layers of knitted fabric.
“Yes that’s right, we came because of the rodent problem you’ve been having.” I assured her.
Looking at her with her small black glasses pressed into her face like goggles and the layers of knitted shrouds wrapped around her, I wondered if she was all there.
“Oh there seems to be no end to them. They are everywhere these days. But lately, they’ve been scampering in and out of my house as if they own it. They’re always coming on my property, touching my things, squeaking away. I’ve put down traps, but still they keep coming. Trying to force me out.” Mrs Keddlewell exclaimed, her strange rambling words, bringing a smile to both mine and Phil’s face.
We were accustomed to the normal dementia dented declarations of our more senile clientele, but the idea of some of Rat Conspiracy was a new one.
“You couldn’t do me a favour could you, young man. Could you also check on the flies.” Mrs Keddlewell asked, her voice interrupting my daydreams of William Wallace styled rat rebellions.
“The flies?” I shivered, having having gotten flash backs to this awful squat that we had to clean a couple years back.
“No problem Mrs Keddlewell. We’ll swat those flies and round up those rodents for you, and have your home sparkling in no time.” Phil chuckled, in a charming corporate way.
“I’m to long in the tooth for you to patronise young man!” she snapped, her calm and gentile manner slipping for a moment.
Phil and I gave each other the, she’s a spanner short of a toolbox, look, as we cautiously planned our next phrases and replies.
“Anyway, I’ll leave you boys to it. I’ll be going into town, to run some errands, but feel free to help yourself to what’s in the pantry.” the little woman said as she shuffled her way towards a dusty, beat up old banger parked on her dirt road drive. “Oh and one more thing, my son is sleeping in his room, he is not to be disturbed.”
“Okay Mrs Keddlewell.” I chimed back, as we began our journey up into the house.
“That means don’t enter his room, he gets very crossed when that happens.” she insisted her words serious and stern, like a teacher chastising a pupil.
“We promise.” Phil replied, trying his best not to annoy the feisty little woman any more.
Then in a hail of poisonous gas, the woman drove off.
We could still hear the cracks of her cars engine splutter in the distance as we clad ourselves in gear and masked up.
Then we did it, we peeled back the screen door and entered into the old woman’s parlour.
It was as bad as you can imagine.
Cobwebs didn’t just hang from the ceiling, they were practically part of it. The white strands were strewn across the room, knitting themselves together with the old wooden furniture and the rat bitten couch.
The dust heavy air was scented with the smell of stale winds and total neglect, but the kitchen was far worse.
Upon stepping into the wretched room, we saw a wide breach, in the floor; a plunge into the dark basement below.
The counters were caked in layers of grime and the fridge, my god that fridge.
We opened it and out fell the Niagara falls of maggots and other worming white things, wriggling in unison and undulating into the cracks between the floorboards.
“And you thought this job was going to be easy.” I sniggered, giving Phil a playful nudge.
“Yeah, don’t you just love our job.” Phil laughed.
Suddenly our laughter was startled by the sound of hurried feet, scuttling through the wood above us.
The pitter patter of tiny feet, was something we were familiar with, having been in plenty of rat infested hovels.
“I’ll deal with our furry footed friends upstairs and you can handle... all this.” I said, as I turned to leave.
“Oh you’re so kind.” Phil said shaking his head.
Exiting the kitchen, I began, climbing up the termite chewed steps; trying my best not to put to much weight on them. Lest I fall straight through and end up in some god forsaken rat’s nest.
Tap, Tap, Tap Tap Tap, drummed the verminous sounds, around the house; their rhythmic tones a little off from the usual bouncy bounding of rats.
However rats were the least of my concerns, once I placed my foot down upon the top step. As I did, it hit me, the noxious odour.
Earthy, yet sour, like soil from a field watered with curdled milk.
It was the putrid perfume of death, I knew it well.
When you’ve cleaned up as many scenes of death and murder, you get accustomed to the bitter rot that spills from the dead. Yet, you never get over the dread.
I feared what might be waiting upstairs for me, knowing what that smell meant.
With slow and cautious steps, I followed it, until I came to a room at the far end of a creaky, crumbling hallway.
I was sure this was where the smell was coming from and solidifying this assumption, was the sound buzzing behind the wooden membrane.
The door before me vibrated with the wing beat of an infinitesimal swarm.
Now with the smell and flies, my mind was quick to race towards the idea that I was about to step into a crime scene. I mean that lady wasn’t all there to begin with, maybe she snapped and killed her son or maybe he died of natural causes and she just couldn’t bare to part with his body.
That theory filled me with revolution and despair.
I was used to cleaning up after the dead, but seeing one, especially a child, that thought chilled me to my bones.
Still I had a job to do, and Phil would love for me to chicken out, so he can joke and howl at my expense.
Readying my spray in hand, and mustering up the courage to enter, I rushed in, slamming the door shut behind me.
All was black, even the light from outside was eclipsed by the black bodies buzzing upon the panes of glass.
My visors were completely coated in them, and so with no eyes to see, I unleashed the noxious spray into the air, sending the swarm into a futile frenzied flight.
On I sprayed, until their numbers began to die down. It didn’t take long before they fell still and though there were still a lot struggling on, I could finally wipe my visors clean and see the room.
To my surprise, there was nothing out of place.
I mean it was an empty room. No clutter or hoard. No expired food or rotten corpse as I had imagined.
Relief washed over me, but then I heard it, the scuttling.
This time the taping ran up, the wall to the right, drumming an arachnid beat as it did.
A shiver ran up my spine, upon hearing the sound.
No amount of experience in this kind of job, can ever cure you of the fear of spiders.
I mean, they’re spiders. Creepy, eight legged hairy things that crawl into every tiny crevice or hole available, that idea freaks me out more than the thought of coming upon the body of a dead kid.
“I dread to see how big the spiders are in here. I mean they’ve got no shortage of food.” I joked to myself.
I often found that talking to myself helped me forget the fear of the little critters, but it didn’t this time, as the heavy thumps of eight feet clattered back down the wall.
With trembling hands, I tried to just get on with my job.
I laid down fly paper, practically wallpapering the room with it, to get any surviving flies, and as I was placing one sheet down, my eyes caught glimpse of a strange stain.
Trailing down the wall was a browning leak of something. It was behind a torn piece of wallpaper and it was clear the stain was larger that what I could see.
I realised I had missed it, upon my first glance, because most of it was hidden behind the wallpaper of pink flowers, which adorned the room.
Something in me told me to peel the paper back, I know I shouldn’t have, but once I began, I couldn’t stop.
With one final tear, the paper fell and before my eyes, inches from my face, was a large circular blob of browning splatter.
I touched the wall; it was moist, so moist my fingers almost spilled through it.
Then it struck me again, a gust of foul festering fumes.
There was certainly something rotting.
Perhaps there was a body, and I was simply in the wrong room, I thought.
Despite my instincts telling me something was off, I elected to enter the room next door.
Once I left the swarming spare room, I walked towards the adjacent room and upon the door, there was the phrase Henry’s Room, engraved into the wood.
My mind returned to Mrs Keddlewell's only request and though a part of me should have been concern with keeping it, I was more worried that her request was made so we would not discover the corpse of her son.
With a deep breath, I turned the handle and let the door swing open.
To my utter shock, what lay before me, was the room of a small boy. Drawings adorned the walls, and there were boxes of action men and a ceiling dotted with glow in the dark stars. However there was one problem, one irregularity to sight.
Every inch, every shelf and wooden furnishing was tied together, knotted in a cascaded of greenish brown webbing.
This web was unlike any spider’s I had ever seen.
It wasn’t even like the cobwebs from downstairs.
It was thick, mucus like and it clung to everything, forming strange slime structures and weird worming nets.
Entering, I began yanking some of the sticky stuff down, but it was pulling plaster from the ceiling and walls. So I stopped and prepared to use my spray. Maybe that would loose the threads, I though.
It was around this time, that I noticed, that sat atop a set of drawers, were a series of photographs.
Looking to the black and white pictures, I saw Mrs Keddlewell, still old and wrinkled, but with her was a small curly haired boy. He looked no older than eleven in every picture, and was always cuddled up to her, shrouded in throws and sheets.
They were odd pictures, something about the way every part of the boy was wrapped up in a quilt, in every photo frame, it just struck me as peculiar.
But then again, looking around the chamber of gangrenous webs, those photos were the least strange thing about the house.
The penny dropped, and the most obvious, the most striking thing imaginable finally dawned upon me.
Mrs Keddlewell was adamant, that this room contained her son, and though he was held in the picture frames, I saw no sign of the boy, among the repulsive entanglement of slime threads.
I readied my spray and began unleashing it’s toxic torrent into the room.
Pouring forth, the spray cut through the threads, causing them to sizzle and fall; spilling into puddles of puke coloured gunk.
Scuttling suddenly ricochetted across the room; a frightened scampering I thought, from a spider that was soon to snuff it.
In my naivety and arrogance, I continued my fumigation, chasing the rattling vermin as it raced away from the bug repellent chemicals.
Spraying beneath the boys bed, I struck whatever it was, causing the thing to unleash a screech.
Never in my worst or weirdest nightmares have I ever heard a sound like it.
A bitter, biting wail of sound that roared like a cougar and hissed like a diamond back.
Stunned by the noise, I stopped spraying, giving the creature the opportunity it needed.
Scrambling behind the wardrobe, it’s legs skittered up the wood, knocking the wardrobe down as it rambled up it’s back.
Fractured rotten strands and a cloud of dust, filled the room, but when the debris cleared, I saw that behind the wardrobe was a great gaping hole.
What kind of spider was that, I fretted.
It had to be a rat, surely I told myself.
Only something big could have knocked that wardrobe over, but then if it wasn’t a spider; what had created the vile vines of sickly silk, which infested the room.
“Come on, you’ve got a job to do. It’s just a bug, you’ve bugs before.” I said, trying to psych myself up, but it wasn’t working.
Trembling I picked up my spray and stepped through the man sized cavity in the wall, carrying in with me the heavy cannister.
Cautiously I walked through the dizzily twisted interior of the walls, trying not to slip or miss a sheer drop down.
Like Henry’s room, the space between was thick with an otherworldly, grotesque gossamer.
Slowly I trudged, weaving between the sticky strands, until that smell, that fetid, disgusting reek hit me once more.
It was stronger, in here. It was all I could smell.
Every breathe I took, was a lung full of pestilent perfume.
I had time to worry about choking on the stench, for something had caught my eyes.
In the webs a head, I found something out of place.
A card, from a realtor.
Beside it hung another card, this time for a law firm, and next to that a card for another real estate agent.
Looking around these cards littered the place. Not just law firms or real estate agents either, plumbers, baby sitters, even pest control.
Strange that there should be so many, stranger still that they would be held between the walls.
Then I saw them.
Clinging to sickly strands, entombed and partially cocooned in greenish brown, were bodies.
Dozens of them.
A horrified gasp left my mouth.
Realtors, salesmen and lawyer types still wearing their fancy suits, they were strung up like parcels of gloop.
They were rotten, dissolving in a soup of themselves, dripping and seeping into every fibre and splinter.
They were the smell, the brown stuff on the wall. That was them, melting away, rotting between the crooked panels and thin drywall.
I let out a howl, bellowing out for Phil, but the moment I did, I heard it.
The cracking of joints, the movement of many legs.
To my horror, my eyes caught glimpse of something.
Atop one of the maggot crawling corpses, appeared a shape.
Lunging forth, the ghastly spider, slashed through the air with biting fangs and clawing legs.
I ducked and ran, swiftly swerving through the webbing. Evading each clawing sweep from the spiders arms.
Listening as I ran, all I could hear, was the urgent and hungry, scampering of the spider legs bounding from wall to wall, closing in on me with each step.
In the darkness, it was hard to see, but I knew that thing, was far to large to be a normal spider, it was something else, something monstrous.
Those ethereal webs were spun from other worldly materials, and the murderous hunger that drove that thing had to come from some eldritch realm, far from our famished thoughts. I dared not dream from whence it crawled, only focusing on the path ahead as I sprinted on.
Pounding out from the murk of the wall cavity, I stumbled back and watched as leg by leg it emerged from the hole.
With a sinister slowness, it crept out from the shadows. Each leg was as long as a metre, murky green, the colour of rot. Every limb was armour plated in a segmented foul carapace, spiked and thorned with long black spiny hairs.
However the spidery limbs were not the worse reveal.
For as it pulled itself forth from the shadows, all colour left my skin and all my bravery with it.
Thundering my heart almost tore itself from my chest as fear turned my bones and muscles to stone.
Before me was not a spider.
It had the legs of one, but its body was no arachnid; it was a head. The head of a boy. Specifically, the boy from all Mrs Keddlewell's photographs. This monstrosity was Henry.
Though it appeared like a severed head, the grinning child's aberrant appearance had no neck, and out of it’s head grew the hideous spider legs upon which it scuttled. Their was order to their positioning, some bore out from his crown, others out of his ears or the back of his head.
With wicked delight, his pale face spoke not a word from his dirty blackened mouth. Instead it’s poisoned smile opened it’s jaws wide and revealed hundreds of curved grey fanged teeth.
In a flash it snapped forward, jumping clean across the room, and when I went to run towards the door, it jump right in front of me.
Fumbling away, I slipped on a puddle of slime and it scuttle with such swiftness that I damn neared died from fright.
In that moment, something took over, and I suddenly remembered I had my bug spray.
Squeezing the trigger, I cast forth a geyser of pesticidal liquid, drenching the thing in it.
Henry cursed with screeching and screaming sounds, as he struggled, stumbled and recoiled from me.
For a moment I thought I had beat him, but after slinking beneath the bed, that abominable child, shook the fluid off himself and prepared to attack me once more.
Standing up, I raised my spray gun, but this time, strings of green gunk spewed out from his eyes and mouth. These pestilent rivers of blighted web, netted up my spray and canister, sweeping them far up onto the wall beside me.
I found myself disarmed, and at Henry's mercy, as the spidery child crawled out from beneath his bed.
Gingerly, he stepped, foot by foot, inch by inch, easing himself towards me, like a lion ready to pounce upon some hapless antelope.
This time, as he charged forward, mouth chomping with feverish fangs, I jumped aside, and he hit wall instead of me.
Seizing the chance, I ran, ran faster than ever before.
Clearing the few metres between myself and the door, I escaped the room and slammed the wooden barrier shut on his face.
Bounding down the stairs, with no concern their termite chewed condition, I began calling out for Phil, but he didn’t answer.
“Phil, Come on man we have to go. We have to go now!” I cried out, with panicked sweat running down my head.
“I told you, not to go into his room.” an all to familiar, shrewd voice croaked from the corner of the room.
Turning my anxious eyes, towards the solitary chair in the corner of the living room, I saw, Mrs Keddlewell; shrouded in webs and in cloth, her fingers plated in a yellowish carapace.
“You’re just like the rest of the vermin, always coming in here. Trying to move me out or steal my land. Upsetting my dear darling Henry.” Mrs Keddlewell sneered, her greenish grey fangs suddenly on display.
Emerging from a hole in the wall beside her, came the hideous eight legged head of Henry.
“At least with the others, Henry wouldn’t go hungry. But you denied him even that, choosing to hurt my dear Henry, and that wont do.” she chirped, her voice wobbling into a crickety tone.
“Are you going to kill me.” I stammered.
“Deary me, no, you’ll live. You have to, you have to tell the rest of the pests out there, not to step foot on my property again. That’s why I called you, you’re to be my messenger. Of course don’t go telling everyone, to stay away, Henry and I still get hungry from time to time.” She grinned, as she ran her spidery fingers through her sons curly hair.
“What about Phil?” I asked, my feet already edging towards the door.
“Oh I’m sorry, I was a little peckish after a long day of shopping. He really was a sweet, young man.” Mrs Keddlewell smiled, her lips salivating and wide.
Without any further words between us, I sprinted, and noped straight out of that place. I’m sorry Phil, sorry I left you there, to be another stain on the wall, or a bad smell that just wont go away. But I had to get out of there, I had to tell people if you get the call to go to that house, or if you cross paths with anyone called Mrs Keddlewell, don’t be fooled by her kind old lady act.
She is a monster, and to her, we are vermin.
submitted by conorb_93