Friday, August 18, 2017

Time to get Kraken

30.

The sun was high in the sky, but all Clarissa could feel was cold. The ship they were on was some kind of coast guard transport, it moved fast, but it also made the already chilly sound in the morning even more cold. There was a man up front fighting to be heard over the sound of the ship, some CDC dude who introduced himself as a doctor of something, but Clarissa couldn't listen to what he was saying the cold and noise made it hard to pay attention. Between herself and the doctor was a group of CDC scientists she assumed, they all seemed to be paying more attention than she was.

"Should I be listening to this guy?" Gilbert was next to her, one duffle bag slung over his shoulder another one at his feet. She thought he packed heavy, he told her wasn't taking chances.

"Nah he's just talking to be heard, what he's got to say ain't got shit on why we're here."

"Why are we here?" Gilbert hadn't even really told her where they were going when he got her up and told her there was a job that needed doing. She assumed it was going to be in eastern Washington and had dressed accordingly, the shorts she was wearing under the jumpsuit weren't doing much to keep her warm.

"Well we kill monsters, so that."

"So helpful Gilbert." He smiled.

"How's the shoulder by the way?"

"Fine like the other six times you asked me today."

"Good might need you to carry this other bag my shoulder is starting to hurt." She punched him in his none carrying arm and he feigned being hurt. The CDC man finished talking up front and Clarissa went to mingle with the science team to get more info than Gilbert was giving her.

****
"She's nice, new trainee?" Colonel Janice Mortimer was a trim lady in her late 40's she had long graying hair, but Gilbert remembered when it was was very blonde.

"Janice, its nice to see you."

"Glad you took my calls, the General was worried you wouldn't."

"Half thought I wasn't going to." Gilbert could see Clarissa mingling with the other younger people, he had been telling her she needed to get out more prior to her being attacked.

"Was it curiosity or a sense of duty that made you change your mind."

"Bit of both." Janice laughed.

"Well I'm glad you decided to come along, this looks like a real problem." Gilbert shrugged.

"Honestly I don't even know what we're dealing with do you have a description."

"Step into my office Gilbert, let me show you the video we got." Janice's office was a cramped cabin on the ship, but it was warmer and less noisy than outside. There was a small bed and a laptop on an attached desk, the laptop was secured with straps.

"You heard about the missing ferry right?"

"Nope." Janice frowned.

"It was like a top news item for three days Gilbert."

"You know my stance on reading the news Janice." Janice sighed.

"Ok so a ferry went missing last week, Bremerton to Seattle, over a hundred people on board, just gone. It showed up near the strait of Juan De Fuca on Monday." Janice pulled up a video on her lap top and it was of what Gilbert assumed was the ferry. The shot was at an angle showing the ship wasn't sitting properly and the light was from the camera with only small flickers from the ship lights. There was no one, no bodies, no blood, just nothing.

"No bodies?"

"Nothing, they did find this though." Janice forwarded the video to what looked like a lounge of sorts covered in yellow slime. Gilbert sucked in his breath.

"Well now I know why General Joe called."

"He thinks its the same one."

"Course he does, you know I bought him a copy of Moby Dick I never thought he'd take the lesson Ahab was the good guy." Janice was about to say something in return when Clarissa came inside very red in the face.

"Some fucking asshole just said maybe if I finished my degree I'd be wearing a CDC logo instead of one for pest inspection." Gilbert and Janice both laughed.

"Pleasure to meet you." Janice held out her hand, Clarissa shook it while looking confused.

"This is Colonel Mortimer, she's with the Army Special Eliminations Division."

"Meaning she's a monster killer like we are."

"Yes and Janice is fine, its nice to meet you Clarissa." Clarissa looked at the laptop and looked confused.

"What the hell is all that?"

"The army thinks its a left over from a Kraken." Gilbert's tone implied he wasn't so sure.

"What's a Kraken?" Janice and Gilbert both sighed.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bad Idea from the latin Badus Ideaus

29.

"So just the lizards?" Gilbert was sweaty,tired and slightly pissed off, the van's air conditioning had been going out and the temperature on the drive was well over a hundred degrees. The Geologist looking at him was sweating himself.

"They aren't just lizards sir, there are dozens of them, they are like the size of small children." Gilbert held up his hand.

"Killed things like this before, trust me in a cave your not seeing things properly, there are only maybe three or four of them total. Hell I'd been in this cave before you were born killing something similar don't worry about it." The geologist wanted to say something, but Gilbert was already walking back to the van to gather some poison.

"There's a lot fucking more than four in there dude!" The geologist shouted it after him, but Gilbert wasn't listening anymore, he just wanted to get back to work and get the job done.

****

They were hunting him. He had underestimated their numbers and they had cut off his exit. There were dozens of the creatures. Gilbert knew he'd made a mistake, hadn't brought enough with him into the cave, hadn't been prepared and now it was about to bite him several times in the ass. Gilbert did a mental check of his weaponry, the revolver with a couple reloads, and a his knife dipped in a poison that had proved completely ineffective. He knew he would have to fight them, and he knew he was probably screwed, but he recalled once a conversation about how he'd want to go out, on his feet or on his knees and he had chosen feet every time. He came out from behind the rock he'd been hiding behind to the sight of dozens of the things, he had the pistol in his right hand and his knife in the other.

"GILBERT!" Gilbert thought for a moment he was losing his mind, he heard Clarissa shout after him, but he could see in the low light of the cave she was ahead of the creatures her bow with an arrow already notched.

"What are you doing here Clarrisa?"

"MAKING IT RAIN!" She fired the arrow which had some kind of whistling canister attached to it, when it was over the lizards it exploded in a burst of yellow fluid that burned the creatures like napalm. Clarissa came down a smile on her face, Gilbert couldn't help but share.

"Making it rain?"

"Best I could come up with." Gilbert looked over at what remained of the creatures, the smell was overwhelming.

"What is that?"

"Werechicken blood mixed with some kind of pixie dust? Larry said it would deal with these little bastards pretty good, and it has, I killed a couple out front that had attacked some poor geologist almost took the guys eyes out."

"I hope he didn't charge you too much for it, neither pixie dust, or werechicken blood are very hard to..."

"Gilbert."

"I'm just saying Larry likes to overcharge and you have to be ready for."

"You're welcome Gilbert."

"So Doris sent you I take it."

"She was worried you didn't fully read the description of the job, and just worried in general."

"I'll have to think about giving her a raise. I hope you brought more of that were brew, this group was the smaller of the three I'd run across." Clarissa handed over a back pack full of containers.

"Larry also said he'd heard reports the caves were infested, a lot of people like Gilbert."

"So I'm finding out, how's your shoulder?"

"Sore, but I'll deal." There was sound from behind Gilbert. The lizards were coming, sounded like an entire army of the little buggers.

"Good, because we got some exterminating to do."

"And you complain about my catchphrases."

****

Many hours later Gilbert and Clarissa emerged from the cave. Both were coated in lizard entrails, but they were victorious. The sun was setting over the horizon, the cool air felt like it had come from god himself to cool them down. Clarissa just sat down breathing none burning lizard air for a moment.

"I'm half tempted to just ride home with you, the Van's ac is shot." Clarissa laughed.

"Yeah my jeep's ac doesn't work either, I swear I was losing my mind driving down here in the weather." Gilbert joined her on the ground.

"Probably should get that looked into."

"Yeah do you know a guy?"

"Several, though I admit it's been years might be dead."

"As we all might be soon enough." Gilbert looked at the sun going down and pulled his pipe out.

"Some of us sooner than others."

Friday, August 4, 2017

What She Needs She Can't Have

28.

Clarissa was in the yard firing her bow. Gilbert watched from the kitchen window as she'd fire a shot, curse and then go push the hay bale further away. Since Gilbert had been watching her, she had the target at least fifty yards from her firing spot. Gilbert drank his coffee and sighed.

"She wants you to come out and say something." Shirley was there, Gilbert knew she wasn't actually there. She was a manifestation of his old age and conscience, but he admitted it made his heart feel better to see her.

"What she wants me to say is that she can come back to work, but she needs time to heal she got hurt bad, and I don't want her to get hurt in the field, bruises heal eventually."


"Gilbert."

"I don't need you to tell me what to do, I was there once, I was her, she just need to be patient."

"You weren't."

"And I have a scar that runs the length of my back as an example of what not being patient gets you, I got work I got to put this shit out of my head." Gilbert put his coffee down and Shirley was gone. He worried for his mental state, he knew age was creeping on him, felt it in his arms and legs, but his mind was now going too and he worried what that would mean for the future. The work needed doing though, he knew that too, and he was behind in his duties. He zipped up his work jumpsuit and grabbed his keys; today he exterminated.

****

"He's not listening to me anymore." Shirley the ghost had come to Clarissa her first official night at Gilberts. She hadn't wanted to scare her, but she had frightened her all the same. Now they were more like friends, just in secret because Gilbert was not ready for any truth of his dead wife.

"He believes you're a figment of his imagination."

"I don't dispel that in him, I know he'd be rid of me if he accepted I was actually there, but he still needs me, you both do." Clarissa smiled at the ghost. Her target was a publicity photo of her father, Gilbert had told her of his demand for her to stop being an exterminator and she was so angry shooting the pictures was all she could do to stop from wanting to harm the real thing.

"Why don't you move on? Are you afraid of the afterlife."

"No, I'm afraid of what Gilbert would do. You didn't see him when I passed, I waited for a few days at first, just to make sure he was all right. He wasn't, he used to come home and cry. Just take off his clothes, cook his food, and sit and wail to the night. It went like that for months. He doesn't have friends, he has work acquaintances, but no one to be there for him. So I waited and helped as I could, just being on the edge of his vision something to help the tears, eventually I talked he mistook me for his sadness, but he talked to me all the same, and now you are here and I see you are lost too in your own way. So I stay for now, I'll go when you both don't need me."

"Fair enough." Clarissa had pushed the target another few yards away, she felt like it was almost a football field now, hitting her father's face from that distance was getting harder.

"You're going to hurt yourself Clarissa."

"I already hurt, I just need to do this, I need to get better." Shirley sighed, she had a lot of work to do with both Gilbert and Clarissa, but in time, in time they wouldn't need her. Eventually.

****

"Didn't you say you don't do jobs by yourself anymore?" Gilbert had come into the office busier than Doris had seen him in a while. Like he was worried there weren't enough hours in the day.

"Clarissa's still hurt and jobs need to get done, what am I looking at?"

"Some kind of Lizards creatures in the mammoth cave..."

"Perfect lizards, got it, easy job I'll be back before sundown." Gilbert grabbed the paper out of her hand and was out of the office before she could even finish.

Friday, July 28, 2017

You're Just Hearing the Shot

27.

The van was hot. Reed didn't know why Eddie had attacked that woman, didn't know why he'd stolen the van, but he knew that they couldn't get rid of it. Not right away, Reed had been on the phone since they'd beaten the woman up and taken her van and no one would chop it. No one even wanted to see it. The word was out, whoever GD was he had pull. Reed didn't even know what to do, they had the van in his parents garage, but they couldn't leave it there, there was even a news report about the assault. Reed had watched it hoping to see who "GD" was, but they didn't show him, he didn't comment on the report. Eddie and Blake told him to calm down and if they had to they'd sell the van piece by piece themselves Reed wasn't calm though, he was worried, because he knew GD was out there and he wanted his fan back. When the doorbell rang he almost jumped out of his skin. Reed, Eddie, and Blake, huddled near the door to see who had rung it, all afraid it was the police. They were completely confused when it looked like a priest.

"The fuck do you want?" Eddie spoke for the group. The priest just smiled, he had all his teeth and they were very bright.

"Moment of your time gentleman, especially if the three of your are living in sin, you need what I'm selling." They looked at each other completely mystified by this bible salesman arriving in the middle of the night and calling them gay.

"Fuck off." Eddie went to slam the door, but the priest had jammed his bible into it and shockingly was strong. He flung the door open and sent Eddie sprawling in the entry way.

"Boys you are messing with a power you do not understand." He swung the bible like a club smashing it into Reed's nose and hitting Blake in the throat. "You see me as a shepard and not the wolf who keeps the sheep fearful." Eddie tried to run, the bullet hit him in the knee, the Priest had some kind of old time pistol that was loud and left a large puff of smoke in its wake. Eddie's leg was almost blown clean off. Eddie was crying, Blake and Reed just put their hands up.

"What do you want?" Reed couldn't hide the fear in his voice.

"To sit you boys down and let you know what's what."

****

"The pistol is pretty old, my daddy used it in the war, the civil war mind you, despite my backwoods accent my daddy was an officer for the union, even took part in the sacking of Atlanta, I remember he told me 'Son sometimes you just have to show people how far you're willing to go' that stuck with me. I myself did not join the military I found the lord's calling more to my liking, so I became a priest. And since I believed in the lord so strongly I believed that you should not restrict by race, so I found a congregation of colored folks in Texas to shepard into the lords light. It wasn't long before my church was burnt down by the local chapter of the KKK fully endorsed by the mayor mind you. He told me personally that next time I'd be inside it along with anyone dumb enough to follow my teachings. So I killed him with this pistol. It took them a day to get me to hang, and I don't know if you understand how a lynch mob works, but they aren't exactly good at that whole lynching thing. I believe, and I say believe because I did not have a watch, it took me about three hours to reach my final destination, or at least what I thought was my final destination. I had to dig myself out, thankfully good ole boy murderers didn't dig too deep. I was confused at first, why the lord had spared my life when so many of my followers had died, and I never have gotten that instruction from up high, so I have carved my own path." Reed, Blake, and Eddie were tied up on a couch, the priest Clarence had the pistol on them while he recounted his story.

"I tell you boys this to try and explain myself to you, I don't need to really, its not the job, but I wanted you to know that I'd been doing this for a long long time and if you thought you could have stopped me you were mistaken. Right now you're just hearing the shot, you don't realize in your lizard brain way I already killed you long before that sound caught up." They tried to move against the bindings, Eddie with his severely injured leg screamed when his friends moved against him.

"Now I apologize advance for this next part, but like god's laws, mine require a certain example to be made, violence is not something I keep in my heart, but it is something my hands do quite well." To anyone walking by it sounded like someone punching a steak, just a wet meat on meat sound. The room itself when Clarence was finished went from an off green to a dried rust red. The three young men barely recognizeable. Clarence cleaned himself up and waited outside in his van, enjoying a cigarette one of the few things he did that was strictly not for the lord.

****

"So I imagine the police will release the van in a day or so after the investigation is over."

"And you aren't worried about them suspecting you?"

"A bible salesman? No I'm not worried at all. Gilbert it's been a pleasure, I do hope you walk in the light, but I want to warn you, before one of the gentleman passed into his next trial he confided in me someone had paid him to take your van, and if you were the one currently driving it you were to be killed." Gilbert sighed.

"I figured as much."

"Well do watch yourself brother Gilbert." Clarence hung up and Gilbert sat alone in his office, contemplating on who would want to kill him, or what.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bad Day Off

26.

"Are you some kind of pest inspector?" Gilbert had loaned Clarissa the van to take with her shopping, he said nothing pressing would probably come up, and if it did he would call her. The clerk had been very rude the entire time she'd been clothes shopping, and from the tone of the question she felt unwanted.

"Something like that."

"Well we have an issue with ants in our break room, how much do you guys charge?"

"You know I have no idea." Clarissa collected her things before the clerk could follow up. She did make note to ask Gilbert what they did charge, he paid her a decent enough first check, more than generous to make her wonder exactly how much he gets for killing monsters. Most of her shopping was just to feel normal again, clothes and junk food. The junk food was super important, Gilbert was apparently a machine and ran only on eggs, beef, and pork sausage, otherwise his cabinet was bare.

Clarissa didn't even notice the three men who had surrounded her before the first shot to her temple. It was a hard strike, made her eyes swim and brought her to the ground. She recalled reading once that the more people involved in a group attack the more likely you were to survive it. Clarissa knew of at least three separate attackers, by the time they were finished she didn't know if she'd survive the assault, but she definitely felt the quote about multiple attackers was bullshit. They took her keys and the van, she saw it speeding away from the one eye she could still see from.

"Do you have a phone I can use?" Clarissa could tell from the horrified gasp of the rude clerk that she probably didn't look too good, but she needed to call Gilbert more than she had to preserve her dignity.

****

Gilbert arrived looking ungilbertlike. Gone were the coveralls with his name on them, instead he was wearing a white shirt with jeans. He waited while the police took her statement. Clarissa couldn't tell if he was angry, she didn't want him to be angry, but she feared he would be. Clarissa had forgotten to lock her jeep once and someone had stolen her purse and her dad was so mad at her he spent an hour berating her for being so stupid. So she waited with dread in her guts as the officers asked over and over questions she didn't have good answers for, while the EMT did his best with her face. The EMT told her she should go to a hospital, but she didn't have money for one and she didn't want to admit that. Eventually they all withdrew and it was just Gilbert, a sad look in his face. The sun had mostly gone down, when she was attacked it felt like the afternoon, now Clarissa had no idea what time it was.

"Christ Clarissa." Gilbert almost looked to be in tears, and that did make Clarissa cry.

"I'm so sorry Gilbert, I'm so very sorry." He hugged her and kept her close and let her cry, occasionally rubbing her back and telling her it would be all right.

"Did they even give you a choice?"

"No they just hit me from behind and then started pounding on me, I don't remember much, just the pain." Gilbert lead her back to his car, it was an old well maintained lincoln,. Clarissa didn't remember it being parked at the house, but she never did look in the garage. Doris was in the back seat with some weird looking elixirs and bandages.

"She looks pretty bad Gilbert."

"Just do what you can do." Gilbert had his cell phone out and dialing, Clarissa reluctantly went into the back seat. Doris handed her something that tasted foul but did make her feel better almost immediately.

"You calling Clarence?"

"You know anyone else who does this kind of thing Doris? Yes I'm calling the good reverend." Clarissa felt lost, Gilbert hadn't mentioned a reverend Clarence before.

"Clarence how fast can you get to Yakima? That quick? Right around the corner? Well I have a couple strays that need to be returned to the flock." Gilbert hung up and looked in the back, seeing Clarissa all bruised and bloody hurt him to his soul. He tried not think of himself as a vengeful man, as one to give in to violent fantasy, but he wanted whoever had hurt her to know fear themselves the same he felt looking at her broken face.

****

The reverend Clarence Timms did not look like much to Clarissa. A thin partially balding white guy wearing a short black shirt with the white collar denoting his religion. He walked slow from his van that loudly broadcast bible sales. Clarissa was entirely confused why this was the guy Gilbert had called in.

"Gilbert, Doris, the young woman I do not know, but I can ascertain from her injuries she is the reason I'm here." He said the word Ascertain as Ass-er-tayne, dragging it out slow.

"She is reverend."

"How many sinners must the lord convert today?" Clarissa was confused what a bible salesman could do to the people who beat her up, but she let it play out mostly because whatever Doris had given her had really put her on her ass. She'd taken a lot of different types of pot, but nothing harder, but whatever was in Doris's magic vials had made her not feel anything, the drugs worked so good she figured she wouldn't feel pain for a year.

"At least three."

"At least?"

"I don't know how many are involved, I can come with you if you need."

"Won't be necessary the lord is my back up, do you have any information on where I might find these sinners." Gilbert handed a piece of paper on it to Clarence.

"Address of where my van is at."

"And you'd like the van back I take it."

"Intact if possible."

"All things are possible with god Brother Gilbert." Clarence went back towards his van when Gilbert called out to him.

"Clarence make sure that god has trouble recognizing them." This caused Clarence to smile.

"All part of the service Brother Gilbert, all part of the service." Clarence drove away. Gilbert waited a bit and then he too drove away back home.

"She'll be just fine Gilbert."

"I'm glad to hear it Doris, you as always do good work."

"So about a rai..."

"No."

"Worth a shot."

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Shipley Situation

25.

"I'm just confused Gilbert." Doris had stopped Gilbert at the door and had been rattling on about the not bigfoot ursa all morning.

"Old woman had called the ursa to help her people, it didn't and so she revoked its permission to be here, and so it went back to wherever they go."

"No I got that, but where was the bigfoot?" Gilbert sighed, this was Doris's usual routine. She'd think it was one kind of monster, it would turn out to be another type, and then she'd prattle on about what happened to the real monster.

"There wasn't a big foot, it was an Ursa, I told you this several times."

"Gilbert don't dismiss this, this is just like on Mountain Monsters when they..." Doris was cut off by an overweight sweating man in a suit barging in to the office. He looked to be barely over five feet tall and sweating more than the outside weather would suggest he'd need to sweat.

"Can I help you sir?" Gilbert tried to be polite, though the man's face betrayed he was not going to be met with kindness in return.

"Who own's this shit hole?" Gilbert was already perturbed, his office had its problems, but he did not view it as a shit hole.

"Shit hole? Are you insulting my place of business?"

"Get the boss I'm not talking to the hired help." Doris looked to Gilbert who she could tell was about to leap over the desk and attack the smaller man. Gilbert who had been slouching to speak with Doris now stood up to his full height and peered down at the sweaty man with a look that had frozen monsters to their core, he figured it would work on a sweaty asshole without issue.

"Hired help? Sir I own this establishment, its GD Exterminators, and I'm GD." The little man did not seem to be afraid at all.

"So you're the asshole who has kidnapped my daughter!" The little man approached and stabbed a finger into Gilbert's stomach.

"You call everyone who employs your daughter a kidnapper? And as I recall from when she came to me Mr. Shipley you and your wife cut her off from funding, she was broke and had no where to go." Gilbert tried to control the amount of anger he felt at Shipley, at the very least not to harm his relationship with Clarissa.

"You also have her living with you, probably in sin."

"Get out of my business, do not return."

"This is america Dunkley I can do..." Gilbert snatched the shorter man up like a parent dealing with a petulant toddler. He took Mr. Shipley outside and dumped him on the pavement. "I'm going to call the sheriff!"

"Do it, he and I will have a nice laugh at you." Gilbert went back in and locked the door behind him, he heard Shipley pounding on it for a time and then just the shouting after. Doris watched the door expecting Shipley to come bursting on through it.

"What about our legitimate customers?"

"How often do they walk in the front door? Besides it'll get hot today, he'll go somewhere else and stew while he waits for the sheriff."

"Where is Clarissa today anyway?"

"Looking at some apartments, buying some clothes, she gave me some shit about what happened in Montana so I gave her the day off to do some stuff."

"I never get days..."

"Doris you took three weeks off in January and nother two weeks in May, I got no patience for this argument." Doris looked down at her keyboard shamed by Gilbert's memory. "If anyone who doesn't get days off round here, its me, and that's fine I like working, last time I took time off was to attend a funeral I didn't want to be at."

"You think the Sheriff will give you any shit for dumping him on the sidewalk?"

"Can't imagine he will, but I didn't vote for him, maybe he'll hold that against me."

****

"Gilbert he's really upset." The sheriff took three hours to arrive, but did so in force with five deputies in tow.

"I'm upset that racist asshole assumed I was the help, and threatened me in my place of business." The deputies were waiting outside, Gilbert wouldn't let them inside. He liked the thought of them having to be in the heat and not currently bothering him.

"Just apologize to him, he's a big man in town Gilbert."

"Pruitt this is the exact reason I didn't vote for your ass, I'm not going to kiss his ass, and I'm not going to fire his daughter. If Shipley wants to talk he knows what he did now leave if you aren't charging me."

"You're such an asshole Dunkley." Sheriff Pruitt went outside and talked to an irate Shipley who screamed about pressing charges. Gilbert smiled at the Sheriff telling him he couldn't do it, eventually they left no one happy.

"That's going to come back to bite us in the ass." Doris was eating her lunch while the whole play occurred in front of her.

"I should run for Sheriff, asshole like Pruitt don't deserve the badge."

"You're out of town too much to be sheriff."

"As if Pruitt actually does the job."

"Gilbert."

"Fine fine Doris I won't run for sheriff, just tell me when Clarissa gets here so that we can talk about her dad."

"Can I..."

"No." Gilbert walked back to his office and tried to think of a delicate way to deal with Mr. Shipley that didn't involve angering the young Ms Shipley.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Ursal Negotiations

24.

They heard the gunfire first. Little pops at first, like the beginning of a rain storm, and then a full on down pour of arms. Gilbert could make out the differences in sound and knew generally how badly Vasilly's men were doing with the Ursa. To Clarissa it just sounded loud, all sound and scaryness. She clutched the bow tight as they moved toward the gunfire which seemed like a bad idea. As they approached the gun fire the sound stopped, and it got eerily quiet. Gilbert held out a hand telling Clarissa to stop, she almost hoped he'd tell her to turn around and forget this whole thing, but he then waved her forward and they moved ever closer to where the sound had been coming from. They eventually came to what had become a clearing. The battle had cost several men their lives, their broken bodies were arranged in a rough half circle around the Ursa. It was standing in the middle of the clearing, one of the mercenaries bodies held loosely from its jaw. When Clarissa and Gilbert emerged it spit the man out and collapsed to all fours.

"We come in peace." Gilbert had his hands up, Clarissa kept her bow in her hands she was too afraid to let it go.

"You smell of dragon." The creature snarled, it kind of surprised Clarissa it spoke.

"I'd imagine I smell of a lot of things."

"The girl with her bow, she thinks it will protect her, it will not. I have killed many men today, why should I not kill you?"

"Because I don't want you to." The ursa laughed, the laugh shook the ground.

"And I should listen to you why?"

"Men will not allow a monster to live here, you know this, you know you have to leave, what you have killed today will not stop them, the man who leads these men has others, they are coming for you and eventually they will win and you will be dead."

"Maybe I want to be dead, maybe I want to kill as many of you disgusting creatures before coming to my death, a glorious death against you filth, rather than a slow one as you eliminate my home and choke my skys." Gilbert could see the sadness in the Ursa's eyes. He had run across monsters like this in the past, and they were some of the most dangerous.

"If death is what you want, I can bring you to that." This caused the creature to laugh again.

"One man and a scared woman? You see the destruction around you? Only a fraction of my power."

"We are exterminators by trade creature, and you are no more deadly than any other I have faced and slayed." Gilbert had taken out his pistol. Clarissa followed his lead and notched an arrow even though her hands were shaking and she doubted she'd be able to hit the Ursa despite its size. The ursa rose up on its hind legs and roared.

"ENOUGH!" The new voice was an older woman, Gilbert and Clarissa turned to look at her. Behind her was Chief and Ted Brightwater. "I revoke your invitation creature, back to whence you came."

"You have no power over me woman." But the creatures snarl was lowered, its ferocity subdued.

"I REVOKE YOUR INVITATION!" She punctuated it by slamming her foot in the ground and the Ursa was gone. Clarissa relaxed and then accidentally shot her arrow, which lead to a nervous laugh from everyone present. Chief Brightwater and the woman walked back from wherever they had come from. Ted remained looking smug with himself.

"So that debt I owe you is over right?" Gilbert had taken his pipe out.

"Nope, Ted saving me once does not wipe out all the times I saved your ass."

"That was an Ursa!"

"Yep big and scary, but still doesn't count for more than one Ted."

"Should have let it eat you Gilbert."

"Maybe you should have Ted, I'll be seeing you." Gilbert walked back to the van with Clarissa leading the way happy to be leaving Montana.

"Home please."

"I'm sure I can find another job here, one that actually..."

"HOME NOW."

"Ok ok I got it I got it." Gilbert smiled for the first time in what felt like a long time and Clarissa leaned her seat back hoping to wake up back in Washington and put this whole trek behind her.