Friday, September 15, 2017

Sick Day

34.

"Stay home Gilbert." Gilbert was dressed in his usual work outfit, despite the doctor warning him he needed at least a week of bed rest. Clarissa was not happy.

"I make my own decisions."

"Clearly like risking pneumonia, now get out of those clothes, and into bed or at least the couch watch tv or something, STAY HOME!" There was a honk outside and Gilbert saw Sylvia's BMW with a waving Sylvia inside.

"No No this will not do."

"See you later tonight Gilbert I've got a work thing to do!" Clarissa was gone before Gilbert could even chase after her. Aided by a coughing fit. He mumbled to himself about how he'll definitely talk to her tonight about palling around with Sylvia.

"My.... dolllllllla, sir." Santinni announced his presence in his usual show up style.

"This isn't like a fake out and what I'm giving you is more than just a dollar right?"

"Just the dollar, rules must beeeeeeee followed." Santinni punctuated followed with a smile. He was dressed like he'd come off the African Savannah, Gilbert found himself wondering what the demon did all day.

"Just a second let me get my wallet."

"Not feeeelllllllling well?"

"You can see that with some freaky demon vision?"

"No its written on your face, the seeeeaaaa is a harsh mistress I would know." Gilbert handed Santinni his dollar and turned to head into the living room.

"Was going to write you a check, just to see what you'd endorse it as." When he turned around Santinni was gone and Gilbert was all by himself "Now I'm resigned to day time tv, a fate worse than death." Gilbert coughed so hard his vision was marred by little black spots for a bit, deciding that was a sign he just went to go lay in bed catch up on sleep like he'd say he'd do for the last few years.

****

"I'm so glad you took me up on my offer." Sylvia was not dressed in a jump suit like Clarissa was, she instead was dressed up more like Lara Croft in tomb raider with short shorts and a tight t shirt.

"I just didn't want to be stuck at home with Gilbert, he won't take care of himself, but he likes to complain about how he's not getting better."

"Same old Gilbert, Shirley used to complain about him all the time with regards to that."

"She still does." Sylvia smiled at that, Clarissa had told her of her sisters ghost if only to let her know she was still around, Shirley was ok with her sister knowing as long she promised to not do anything to her.

"I hope you're good with that bow, what we're after are obnoxious from a distance but a nightmare up close."

"What are we after again?"

"Were chickens."

"You're joking?"

"You'll find out when we get there."

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sympathy for Poor Queequeg

33.

"So we're running?" Janice was the only one qualified to pilot the ship. Gilbert and Clarissa were on the deck watching the Kraken slowly gaining on them.

"Well not so much running as hoping to run as you can very much see damned thing is gaining on us." Gilbert had went over his cache of weapons and found them all coming up underwhelming in the face of how big the Kraken looked.

"I was thinking."

"About how to kill the Kraken?"

"No I figure we're going to die horribly to that."

"You're far too young to be cynical like that, probably correct, but far too young." Gilbert always enjoyed these kind of conversations on a job, in the face of death that someone could just casually talk was heartening.

"Anyway, if Janice is Starbuck, and General Joe is Ahab, wouldn't that make you Queequeg?"

"I never took you for a racist." Clarissa laughed.

"Why is that racist?"

"The one minority on that ship and you think thats me."

"Well he was an islander, not black Gilbert, also the aged hunter doomed to go down hunting the beast, well that does fit you Gilbert." Now Gilbert laughed.

"I'm just glad you read the book."

"Watched the movie."

"Gregory Peck?"

"Who? Patrick Stewart." Gilbert looked back at the Kraken it had gotten closer now, the tentacles almost enough to grab the ship.

"Not talking to you anymore." Gilbert turned his back on Clarissa. It was mostly so he could try and come up with literally anything to harm the Kraken, but he also couldn't believe she didn't even know who Gregory Peck was. Gilbert was mad at himself for not packing better, but to be fair he had no idea what to do against something so large.

"So we're screwed?" Janice had come up, apparently she had just put the boat in cruise control.

"Completely, best I've got is this stuff." Gilbert held up a small tin, both Clarissa and Janice were confused. The tin read "Red Jim's laughing powder" and had a horrifically racist american Indian characture on the package.

"You're going to give him laughing powder?" Gilbert laughed.

"Nah the tin is enchanted, what's inside is well its best left to creature like Santinni to fully explain, all I know is when I was given it, it was told to me 'never open it, unless you have to'."

"Ominous." Clarissa was terrified of what was in the tin, something innocuous with such a scary description.

"So what do you want me to do Gilbert?"

"Kill the engine, lets let the creature grab us and then I'll throw this at it."

"Sure why delay the death anymore." Janice killed the engine and the ship slowed to a stop. The Kraken hadn't anticipated that and shot past the boat, causing the three of them to laugh. It course corrected and flung its tentacles on the deck ready to melt them into organic nothingness. Gilbert hurled the tin at the Kraken and at first it did nothing. The Kraken's tentacles rose up, and then stopped, they twitched at first, and then shot beneath the deck, the fog horn noise reverberated in the air as the creature thrashed wildly next to the coast guard ship, for a moment Gilbert worried it would drag them to their deaths. And then the sea went calm, the large creature was just gone, and the tin of Red Jim's Laughing Powder was in the hand of Santinni who has appeared out of no where much to everyone's surprise.

"Mr. Dunkley the use of hell mites is strictly regulated."

"Is that what those things are? Glad I never opened that before." Santinni didn't even respond, he just disappeared and in his place was a scroll of sorts. Gilbert opened it up and read part and started laughing.

"What?" Janice had never dealt with the demon warden before, but she knew of him, it was rather strange he arrived and then disappeared, Gilbert always said he was a lot more verbose.

"He's fining me for unauthorized use of dangerous hell organisms."

"How much is he fining you for?"

"One dollar." That caused all of them to laugh in relief more than anything else.

"So uhh do you guys want to know the bad news?" Janice had waited till the laughter had died down before talking again.

"How could their possibly be bad news after what just happened?"

"I don't think the boat has enough fuel to get back to harbor and the radio got damaged in the fight."

"Shit." Both Clarissa and Gilbert said it in unison, they couldn't even see the shore from where they were. Gilbert reached into his pack and withdrew a deck of cards.

"Least the weather is nice, poker?"

Friday, September 1, 2017

Aunt Mable's Slapdash Stu

32.

"Could have sworn I packed better." Gunfire was erupting behind him. Janice and the small group of coast guard people on the ship were fighting the undead, but the battle was not going great. Gilbert had his duffle bag out and he was looking for the right ingredients for a ritual to do something about it, but he had none of the stuff he needed.

"Gilbert its kind of going badly here." Gilbert could hear the shots, but he was trying to not listen to them, he was trying to work out what he needed from the bag.

"Its like when Aunt Mable would want to cook something, she didn't have okra so she'd use broccolli, didn't have sausage went with chicken, just trying to use what I got to make this stew right."

"What? Are you cooking?"

"Nah trying to hodge podge some stuff together, it's not exactly an exact science you know." Janice's gun jammed. She saw two of the coast guard people, and looked back at Gilbert in a panic.

"NOW OR NEVER GILBERT!"

"Lets hope Uncle Gilbert brought the heat then." Gilbert hurled the cannister he'd been working on at the horde of the undead and prayed to whatever god would listen that it worked.

****
"We have to save assholes Clarissa, yeah easy for you to say". Whatever the undead were doing was rocking the ferry. Clarissa was struggling to stay on her feet as she made her way towards the CDC people. She could tell things had gone poorly, there were screams and shouts, and she'd already come across some of the undead eating some of the scientists. Maddingly they were running from her and not too her, so she was having to continue to pursue deeper into the ferry instead of away from it. The water was now up to her calves and she was worried in the murky water there were things lurking.

The arrows were working at least. She was pulling them out of the things she killed, and so far they hadn't come back to get her, so she assumed that was ok. Though she was worried if numbers over whelmed her, she only had 6 arrows, and in the tight spaces the potential for one getting damaged was high. Clarissa also worried that by the time she got to the CDC people they'd all be dead anyway. She had almost convinced herself to leave the CDC to die in down in the depths when the person who had been a rude dick to her came running at her screaming.

"Help me!" He ran full on into her knocking her to the ground and causing the arrow she had notched to shoot into the ceiling where it splintered.

"Get off me you asshole." Clarissa was soaked now and her quiver had gotten wet as well which probably meant the arrows would be damaged much to her dismay. She got to her feet in time to shoot the two undead that had been pursuing the CDC man.

"We have to get out of here."

"Who's left?"

"Come on the water's rising and there are more of those things!"

"Who's left you selfish prick?"

"They are all dead, we have to go." Clarissa shook her head and went where the CDC guy had come from, he yelled something after her, but she hoped she'd missed an undead and he's get eaten too. Up the corridor was some kind of engine compartment that the scientists had holed up in and it had gone badly. The remains of the team were in the process of being eaten by the undead. Clarissa didn't waste any arrows or even disturb the creatures, she just backed slowly out of the room. Clarissa wanted to close the door, but seeing the water depth she knew it would prove difficult. Clarissa was barely up the corridor from the scene when she heard the CDC man scream.

"You know asshole the undead have ea... oh good lord." The CDC person had been "digested", there was a long sucker like tentacle that had sprayed him with that orange goo she'd seen in janice's videos. He was still screaming of course, but Clarissa knew he was as good as dead, and if she didn't act quickly she would be sharing his fate. She slotted the fire poison arrow Gilbert had given her and hoped that the water hadn't screwed with it. When she let it fly the tentacle reacted immediately swinging her way like a sentient creature, then it burst into flame. Clarissa heard a sound like that of a fog horn and the ferry shook viciously. Clarissa was thrown off her feet and once again into the water. She dredged her way back to her feet and managed to get away from the gurgling death of the CDC man, unable to put him down herself. The shaking of the ferry was getting stronger. Clarissa feared she hadn't wounded the Kraken, and only pissed it off. She ran as best she could to the coast guard ship and got there just as Gilbert was throwing some kind of green goo on to a group of undead.

"No dice on the CDC guys?" It looked like only Gilbert and Janice had survived the undead.

"We got problems Gilbert." Clarissa was panting running in water had tired her out.

"Nah I took care of the undead, though that damned ferry is sure rocking a lot."

"That's the problem! The fucking Kraken is here!" Tentacles burst free from the ship and Gilbert looked on in horror.

"Well ain't that just ruin my day."

Friday, August 25, 2017

Full Ahead, The White Whale Nears

31.

"1982, we lost a destroyer between Hawaii and Bremerton." Janice had pulled up an older video on her laptop. This one while clearly lower quality than the recent ferry video, had a lot of similarities. "At the time the pentagon believed it was the russians, General Joe Hollings, at the time he was a colonel, believed differently."

"Yeah Joe's always had this thing about Krakens, I don't rightly know what it is, but anytime there is some kind of water event he suspects Krakens, never have proved they exist." Gilbert had seen the footage, he was there when they shot it. Janice forwarded the video to the same yellow goo, except this time there was a least a couple living sailors struggling in it. Clarissa let out a yelp when she saw someone on camera shoot the men dead.

"They were already dead, they looked alive, but believe me that was a mercy."

"You guys were there?"

"Yeah it was Janice's first op with Special Eliminations, my, god I don't know, several hundred."

"Thousand probably."

"Yes Janice I'm old thank you."

"Either way, we weren't exactly thought of as highly as we are today, so us putting forward a theory that a gigantic octupus like creature had killed those men and left that goo behind wasn't met with much acceptance. Even less so when we couldn't prove anything and so until now the encounter sat in a file under the 'unknown category'," Janice closed her laptop.

"So now you and the General want us to kill a Kraken, even though we still don't know if that's what this is, and only have its most recent meal."

"What is a Kraken again?" Clarissa was confused, she felt like she was only hearing part of a conversation. Gilbert reached into his bag and produced an old well worn leather book and flipped to a marked page that showed drawings of a huge octopus attacking some kind of old ship.

"Big octopus basically, supposedly they spit that goo shit on to things to eat them. Melts you down and then they suck it back up."

"That's disgusting."

"Either way Gilbert, the General wants you here, and so you're here, no more questions." Gilbert smiled.

"Aye aye Starbuck, anything for the captain."

****
The ferry was partially in the water and not. It looked wrong to Clarissa when they saw it along side the beach. She'd seen ferry's before, but never partially out of the water and it looked enormous. Clarissa felt a chill go up her spine at the thought of a creature big enough to harm the boat, let alone to wedge it along the shore like that. The coast guard ship had pulled up toward what looked like the front of the ship, it was still bobbing slightly with the waves.

The cdc folks had already disembarked by the time Gilbert and Clarissa left the ship. Janice had stayed behind to "coordinate" but Gilbert knew that mainly meant not be in the line of fire. Janice hadn't exactly been the get her hands dirty type when he knew her in the past. Gilbert had brought some stuff he had read could work against a Kraken, but seeing as they weren't really a well known entity it was all guesswork. He didn't tell Clarissa this, if only not to scare her, on top of that, he suspected the Kraken was long gone and all he'd be doing is what he did in the past, nothing.

"So what is this stuff again?" Gilbert had attached to a couple of Clarissa's arrows some poison, she had an arrow notched as they walked around the ship, Gilbert didn't tell her how ridiculous it looked.

"Fire poison, I've used it on the past with some monster fish, fairly effective, you put it into the creature, and then it uses their blood to ignite."

"Good god why are there so many different kinds of poison?"

"Lots of things need killing Clarissa, lots of things, you want to know about a lot of lethal things let me go through all the various explosives I've used over the years you'd lose your mind."

"So what are we looking for again?"

"I don't rightly know." Clarissa chuckled, Gilbert felt honesty was the best policy, he didn't know what they expected to find, certainly not the Kraken. They weren't very far into the ship when he first heard the banging, at first he thought it was some CDC people doing a test or something, or maybe even a passenger that had managed to survive the slaughter. Eventually Gilbert figured it out that it was gun fire, he felt stupid for not thinking of that at first, and even dumber when he realized he had his walkie talkie turned off.

"Where the fuck are you Gilbert?" Gilbert could barely hear Janice over the sounds of gunfire.

"Middle of the ship, what's going on? What are you shooting at?"

"The undead! Didn't you hear my previous messages?"

"Nope had it turned off, we have undead?"

"Yeah look like passengers, lots of them, and hungry, did you bring any Yanya root?"

"Probably in my damn bag which I don't have."

"Iron's keeping them down, but I'll need something more permanent get up here." The walkie went silent and Gilbert looked to Clarissa who looked startled.

"Undead?"

"Yeah."

"So that's probably what got the ship right?"

"No, if anything according to lore we're more on target than ever, Kraken's don't just kill you they turn you, supposedly, shit, you've got some iron headed arrows, you'll need them to kill the undead, I have to go top side help out."

"Wait where am I going?" Gilbert pointed deeper in.

"CDC guys won't have brought weapons Clarissa."

"But they are assholes Gilbert."

"We save assholes, its what we do." Clarissa nodded and swapped the poison arrow for a more traditional iron headed one.

"So I save the CDC dicks proving the power of the common man and then meet you up top to get out of here right?"

"Sure that's the plan."

"You don't sound convinced."

"I'm not, lore says the undead show up and then..."

"The Kraken."

"Stay safe, the undead can't spread to you like a zombie film, but their bite can give you a nasty infection."

"Got it."

"Oh and Clarissa hows your shoulder?" Clarissa flipped Gilbert off and went deeper into the ship, Gilbert looked back towards the way they had come and sighed. It was going to be a long day.

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.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Chief Don'tCare

23.

"Camping near an Ursa, brave even for someone like you Gilbert." Ted Brightwater was a short slightly overweight guy with short blonde hair. The hair threw Clarissa she didn't know native americans to have blonde hair. His clothing was like a middle manager at an office, just a button up shirt and some khakis. Behind him was who she assumed was the chief, a polar opposite to Ted. He was very tall, with long black hair and his clothing was more what people traditionally thought of as native american, leather vest over button up shirt and some kind of hide pants. He looked very old to Clarissa, despite his size she was surprised he was still mobile.

"Was hoping it would swing in for a cook out, Chief you look well." The chief just nodded and said something in a language Clarissa didn't understand to Ted.

"Didn't know you had a new white person."

"Well I don't collect them Ted I employ them." The Chief said something else and Ted frowned.

"Chief said he'll talk when she's not around." Gilbert looked at Clarissa, looked back at Ted and then shook his head.

"Well it was nice seeing you two, I guess I'll do this shit on my own." Ted looked shocked by Gilbert's statement, Clarissa was too, she figured it was more important to kill the Ursa than spare her feelings.

"You didn't have an issue when it was Charlie."

"I did have an issue, racism is racism Ted, and I don't need the old man's help if this is the cost."

"You're firm on this."

"I'm firm on this Ted, sorry to waste your time." The Chief laughed, he had a deep rumbling laugh.

"It's ok Ted I was just seeing if I could fuck with him, the girl is fine."

"You're screwing with me old man with an ursa running around?"

"Lots of nasty things going around Mr. Dunkley, but I'm old and almost done with my time here, let me have my fun." Gilbert was visibly upset, but it didn't seem to bother the Chief. Ted just shrugged, a symptom of having dealt with his dying fathers eccentricities for years.

"So this ursa."

"It's a spirit of the woods, not normally harmful unless its disturbed, probably what's happening here, some assholes putting up a housing complex in a place they should leave alone."

"What can I do to stop it?" The Chief leaned back, chewed on his lip, and then smiled.

"Nothing, it can't be stopped if its upset, it'll do what it'll do Mr. Dunkley, just leave." It was not the answer Gilbert wanted.

"Why come out here to tell me you can do nothing to help?"

"Always wanted to see an Ursa, figured this would be my chance." Gilbert got up to leave. He already felt stupid for having called Brightwater, now more so.

"Well thanks for the no assistance."

"Good luck on not getting eaten." Ted went to say something to Gilbert as he was leaving, but he was having none of it. Clarissa barely got in the van before Gilbert drove away.

"That was fucking useless, god damn old man wasting my time."

"What do we do Gilbert?"

"Plan B."

"Which is?"

"Try and talk to the damn thing, and if it won't talk, well then I've got some shit that can kill most things, we try that." Clarissa didn't say anything, clearly Gilbert was upset and she knew it was best to just let him be angry. Still talking to the huge creature they'd seen wasn't very reassuring. Especially not with Chief's insistence they could do nothing against the creature.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Unhappy Camper

22.

"I hate camping." Clarissa heard the branch before it smacked her in the face. Gilbert for all his ability to kill monsters was a terrible path finder, he kept going through paths and leaving the branches to hit Clarissa. She knew she already had some welts near her eyes and at least one scratch.

"It's not camping it's work, don't you enjoy the wilderness?"

"Nope, I like the city, I like buildings and lights, I hate nature."

"I just don't understand you young people."

"It's not a young people thing, its a me thing, don't generalize."

"Well you picked a bad industry to join if you hate the wilderness."

"I'm beginning to suspect that." Gilbert hadn't found anything yet. He kept looking for bear signs, but was coming up empty. Clarissa figured a bear would leave a fairly large trail to follow, but according to Gilbert they were fairly good at covering their tracks. Gilbert hadn't brought a lot of gear with him, just some bear spray and his revolver. Clarissa had her bow though she suspected against bears or bigfoot it wouldn't do that good.

"Why are we out here looking for this bear? Shouldn't we let Vasilly and his idiots handle it?"

"No, those morons are more likely to hurt someone than they are to stop either bear or bigfoot, we're out here to make sure everyone goes home."

"I just feel silly we aren't being paid, we don't even have..."

"Quiet!" Gilbert grabbed Clarissa by the mouth and pulled her close to a tree. The creature that they almost ran into looked far too big to be a bear, and also not human enough to be a bigfoot. Like some kind of combination of both. It seemed to be unaware of Gilbert and Clarissa, its mind occupied by some other task. Gilbert visibly relaxed as it moved further away from them.

"What is that?"

"An Ursa."

"Isn't that just another way of saying bear." Gilbert looked at Clarissa with a glare.

"Or its not."

"We'll need some help here, I didn't bring anything that can take down that, and I doubt Vasilly did either." They ran to the van. Gilbert had it started before Clarissa could even ask what could take down such a monster. Soon as they weren't near the woods Gilbert parked and took his phone out.

"Ted Brightwater."

"Brightwater? What happened to Ted Salmon?"

"Ted Salmon didn't get as many rich white ladies paying him to do a ceremonial smudging of their houses." Gilbert sighed.

"Ted isn't that the shit I found you doing last time that almost got you killed."

"It's cool Gilbert I know if I run into a real ghost to call in a pro."

"So speaking of real trouble."

"I knew this day would come! I'll be right over with my tea and herbs!" Gilbert sighed.

"No Ted I need the old man." There was silence on the phone for a bit, Clarissa didn't hear anything and almost thought Ted had hung up.

"The chief? What would you need him for?" Ted sounded now upset.

"Ursa." More silence.

"Where?"

"Montana just outside of Great Falls."

"I'll see what I can do, do not go near the Ursa." Ted hung up and Gilbert looked at Clarissa and shrugged.

"Ordinarily I'd say we camp, but you said you hate camping, but I don't know of any hotels around here that I'd..."

"Fine fine we'll go to a campground." Clarissa was upset, what was supposed to be a day trip had now turned into a multi day affair, with camping the one thing she didn't want.

"Don't worry I'll tell ghost stories, we'll have smores it'll be a fun time."

"And we'll hope to avoid getting eaten by the Ursa."

"If he shows up we'll offer him a smore."

"Will that do anything?"

"Let me tell you about the time I killed a Garul with a cocktail weenie..."

Friday, June 16, 2017

Montana Squatching

21.

"Sasquatch?" Despite it being three in the morning Doris was wide awake and ready to supply a job.

"That's what the customer said, he assumed big foot, but you know he didn't exactly see it, they are illusive, like on finding bigfoot..."

"Doris don't talk to me about those fake shows you enjoy, I've told you they are bullshit and the people on them know to avoid real bigfoots." Gilbert's look told Clarissa this was a constant argument between the two.

"Ok Mr. Sasquatch Expert, the client's name is Bill O'Grady, he lives north of Helena, I'll text you the full address."

"Doris how many sasquatch jobs have I taken?"

"By my count two hundred and forty seven."

"And how many have turned out to be sasquatchs?"

"Twenty four."

"I rest my case, text me the address, and can you get me an address for a hunting shop around here, regular not monster, I'm going to need bullets that can kill a bear."

"It's a sqautch Gilbert."

"The address Doris!" Gilbert hung up and sighed.

"You think its a bear?"

"I don't think I know its a god damn bear, it's always a bear, sasquatch are normal loving creatures that don't bother people let alone rise to a nuisance, O'Grady has a damn bear, probably black, might be brown, We'll try and spook it and get it going somewhere else, if not we'll put it down. It's a monster in its own right if its approaching people's houses, just not the normal type I hunt."

"And if its a squatch?"

"Then we'll talk to it and get it to know it should be moving on."

"You can talk to them?"

"Yeah they speak English for the most part, picked it up over the years, hell some squatchs that don't have much hair even join society, they are not the creatures most people think of them." Clarissa didn't know what to think. She just thought big foot was something idiots believed in.

"Well I hope its not a bear, bears scare me."

"Coming from the woman who just killed a troll I'd say bears are the least of things that should scare you."

****

Gilbert and Clarissa had to wait for the hunting store to open up. Gilbert went and bought coffee and donuts while they waited. The hunting store was pretty normal, the kind of place neither Gilbert nor Clarissa felt comfortable in. The store owner who went by "Rick" also didn't seem the comfortable with them, and the sooner they left, the sooner everyone moved on with their lives.

"That was awkward."

"Always is, I tell you hardest part about doing this job is all the rural people who give me the side eye. I'm sure you'll get it just as bad being a woman."

"Good too know Gilbert, equal opportunity life suckage."

"You can always quit, though I imagine much like I did back in the day, you've got the taste for it, you see how we're needed and you see how being useful is a reward even if everyone gives you shit about it."

"Well that and I sold my soul to get here."

"Not sold put it up for pawn really."

"You have the nicest ways of explaining stuff."

"Doris said the same thing after I explained to her why her raise wasn't as good as that of a friend."

The clients house was north of Helena, way north almost in Canada which Gilbert groused about, grumbling other towns in Montana she could have mentioned it was near. By the time they arrived it wasn't even morning it was late afternoon and Gilbert was already upset. He got more upset when he saw Vasilly and his band of mercenaries blocking the clients house.

"What is This happy horse shit?" Clarissa could hear the anger in Gilbert's voice. He parked the van and stomped up toward the truck already fuming all the way, Clarissa struggled to keep up.

"Private property exterminator man."

"Yeah I know that son, what's you name? Jones? Jones get me Vasilly now."

"And why would I do that?"

"Otherwise I'm getting back in my van and ram your stupid truck out of the way." Jones seemed to think this over for a bit and then got on the radio. Vasilly was summoned from the house and came walking up with a smirk. He seemed to be taking his time which only upset Gilbert more.

"GD Exterminators, saw on the news how that whole ax thing worked out, glad I wasn't involved in it."

"Why are you at my clients place?"

"My client, you didn't want Mr. O'Grady's business so he went to someone who did."

"It's a brown bear Vasilly you know this."

"It's a bigfoot Dunkley, and you're in my hunting so I'd be glad if you'd move your dumb van and go back to Ellensburgh like a good boy." Gilbert flinched at boy, but he still went back to his van. Vasilly waved at him as he backed up to turn around.

"So we're going home?"

"Nope, we're going out in those woods and showing those idiots its just a damn black bear." Gilbert gunned the van and made sure to dump a bunch of smoking tires in Vasilly and his mens face. It was petulant and childish, but he did feel suddenly like a boy again.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Rough Introduction

20.

"You remember a whole lot of these things that happened a long time ago."

"You don't meet a dragon every day."

"We literally just me one."

"The second I've run into in forty freaking years, will you just let me continue with my story?"

"Right right continue."

****

"A dragon? What the hell did I drink last night?"

"You like most of the humans in this world like to believe monsters are things of legends, something people made up, but that is not the case. We exist, we hunt, we kill, and in turn we are killed Mr. Dunkley as you did to poor Janzu." Del returned to her old woman form, clearly being a dragon was to impress upon me she wasn't real. Though instead of rags she was wearing a golden robe of jewels.

"What do you want from me?" She sighed, I could tell I was testing her patience.

"For you to listen Mr. Dunkley, for you to listen and know the world is not the small place you see it as, but a big expanded world of horror and happiness. But more importantly, I need you to kill for me." She smiled when she said kill and I knew even then, that being killed by the Janzu was probably the easy way out of what I'd just stepped into.

"Why would a dragon need a man to kill something?"

"Because you owe me Mr. Dunkley, I saved your life even though you did not know it, and now you must pay that cost."

****

"Your first extermination job was for a dragon?" Idaho's roads felt like they went on forever to Gilbert, he figured he'd be finished driving before getting to this part of the story, but he was still in Idaho as if they were trapped in an old Twilight Zone episode.

"I guess so, never thought of it like that."

"So what happened with that job?"

"Well long story short, I killed the creature, was recruited by the US government to kill monsters for them, retired from that, and went into business for myself and that's how I got here."

"I still fail to see how Del was anything but a helper for you." Clarissa actually liked the description Gilbert had said of Del, then again as a child she always loved the idea of dragons, hearing they were real was amazing to her.

"She tried to kill me several times after I did her job."

"Well why not lead with that story?"

"Because its just a story without history, it would just 'oh that one time a dragon arranged to have me killed' without knowing she saved me when I was weakest, it just comes across like any other monster story I'd tell you."

"I guess." They drove in silence for a bit, Clarissa herself felt like they had been driving forever. It came as a bit of a surprise as they turned a corner and saw "Welcome to Montana." Gilbert didn't say anything at first, he just kept driving.

"Oh I forgot to tell you we have a job in Montana."

"Forgot to tell me in that I didn't pack an overnight bag and wasn't aware there were additional jobs."

"Yep."

"Just tell me you got lost and now you want to find work in Montana instead of admitting you got lost."

"Nope, just let me make a call to Doris to get the proper address."

"GILBERT!" But he wasn't listening anymore, he was invested in the lie, and so Clarissa let it go, she always wanted to see Montana.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Dragon Lady

19.

"She was a dragon?" They were on the road, Gilbert kept it five under the speed limit not wanting to be arrested again.

"Yeah didn't know at first, probably wouldn't have taken the job if I did, but she was showing it to me at the end, not even hiding it. The gem was a big hint, breathing smoke the other." Clarissa was just stunned, she just thought Miss Parker was a nice old woman.

"I thought you said dragons are dangerous."

"They are, but they are also unknowable, which is the real danger. Like that troll was no issue for her, literally could have plucked it from this world and eaten it, but what she wanted to see was us and how we would handle the creature."

"But why?"

"It's a good and terrifying question. Dragon's at their nature are secretive, in the past they were hunted, now because of how society has forgotten them, they have become the hunters to an extent, putting us in conflict with each other so they can remain." Clarissa was quiet, this felt almost like more of Gilbert's distrust of government anything, but there was something else there, something she wanted to know.

"When was the first time you encountered a dragon?" Gilbert knew the question was coming and sighed all the same.

"1973, I was twenty and a dragon saved my life."

"So are you going to tell the story or?"

"I was getting to that trying to arrange my thoughts damn woman you're worse than my wife." They both laughed at that, it was a way to break the tension.

****
Japan was a nice place in the summer, I remember that more than anything else. I was in the air force back then, off on a vacation with some other serviceman who's names I don't remember. I remember their faces though, mostly what they looked like when the creature got them. It was a Janzu demon, at the time I had no idea monsters were real, all I knew is that the nice japanese lady that had lead us to a "sacred forest" had turned into some lizard thing that spit venom and had killed my friends.

My eyes were burning from the shit she spit on me, I don't know how I found my way to this small shrine with a fountain, but I did. Looking back on it I probably desecrated the hell out of that shrine just trying to wash the venom from my eyes. I could hear the Janzu coming, the dying scream of my last companion told me she was on the way. She sang a song while she came, I don't know what the lyrics meant, but I assumed it was some kind of dirge about eating me.

I could see more now, and saw the shrine had some kind of bladed pole weapon alongside the little fountain I'd used. The weapon is called a Naginata, this one looked more ceremonial with a blade made out of jade, but I figured if I was going to go down, I'd go down swinging. The creature arrived with me standing there half blind holding this bladed staff and it laughed. It laughed and laughed. I think that just pissed me off more than anything. To be facing death and your killer is laughing at you. I was so angry I just swung that big pole at the creature. Ordinarily I would have come up short, just slammed that big blade into the ground and then been feed for the creature, but that wasn't an ordinary weapon. It must have taken my rage and turned it into an extension of the weapon, because instead of missing I sliced the Janzu in half. Its stunned expression permanently frozen on both sides of its face.

"Janzu I told you to leave the americans alone, and yet you just couldn't help but go for a bite." The old woman had come from thin air. She was dressed like a beggar would, and her hair was stringy and a dirty grey. What was strange to me is she appeared black, I hadn't seen another black person who wasn't a fellow american, let alone an old woman who wouldn't have been in the service. I was immediately fearful since she knew the creature I'd just killed. I turned with the blade holding it in front of me like a ward.

"Stay back."

"Hush child I mean you no harm." With a wave of her hand the weapon was out of my hand and back in the shrine, its blade already cleaned of the creatures blood.

I fell to my knees, "Please don't kill me I just want to go home, I never wanted to come here." I truly was afraid, I admit I probably pissed myself.

"I told you I mean you no harm and you should know when someone like me makes a statement we mean it." I was just crying at this point, and she came up like my mother and calmed me. Her touch was warm almost to the point of feeling like she had a fever. "Hush child, you're safe, you're safe." I eventually calmed down enough to speak again, I feel like a damn fool now, but back then my life almost taken I was so very afraid.

"I just want to go home m'am whatever you need I'll provide what little I have." Now she laughed, I imagine at the thought of someone with very little yen and nothing of any material wealth trying to barter with a dragon is hilarious.

"Dunkley is it? Wow unfortunate last name young Mr. Dunkley, what you have I do not want, I came here to see what had disturbed my shrine and now seeing you I feel very sorry for you. You don't even know what's going on here."

"What is going on here?" The old woman smiled.

"The world just got a lot bigger for you Mr. Dunkley, my name is Del, and I'm a dragon." The woman who had been an old woman in rags suddenly became a huge green dragon and I damn near passed out again.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Troll Hunters

18.
Gilbert had been right about the smell. Clarissa figured he wasn't lying, but she could definitely smell the creature before she saw it. Almost like a scent line from a cartoon of old. She couldn't see it yet, but she knew it was there. Clarissa couldn't also see Gilbert, but too knew he was out there somewhere. They were in the Idaho wilderness outside of a woman's ranch. The troll had apparently been eating her Llamas and she wanted it gone. Gone of course meant dead, Gilbert didn't do monster catch and release.

The plan was to catch the troll between the two of them. Clarissa didn't entirely understand because she figured them being apart meant it would be easy for the troll to take one of them down and thus defeat the planned attack, but Gilbert seemed confident in his plan. Clarissa did find herself clutching the bow pretty tight with an arrow notched at the ready.

"He's coming your way, pretty pissed off too!" Gilbert shouted, though Clarissa could hear the Troll smashing through the woods toward her. She readied the arrow, Gilbert had told her repeatedly aim for the center, he'd attached some "greek fire" some kind of air fire that would explode on impact and ignite, though as the sounds came crashing at her she trusted her weaponry less and less.

The troll burst through into a clearing in front of her. Clarissa felt like time stood still, the creature looked at her, its large tree trunk sized body glistening in sweat and it's own blood from whatever Gilbert had done to it. It must have known it had gotten caught in a trap, because it roared at Clarissa and charged her. She drew the bow tight and fired, the arrow found its mark dead in the creatures chest, piercing and setting it a flame. Momentum carried it forward toward Clarissa, a flaming screaming creature, she stepped back in time for it to die just shy of her feet.

"Is it dead?" Gilbert arrived a few seconds after Clarissa had killed the troll. He fired two shots from his relover into its head.

"Is now, well mostly. If you have time you really want to chop all the arms and legs off and burn them separately trolls have a tendency to regenerate otherwise."

"Do we have ti..." Gilbert had his machete out handle first to Clarissa.

"Welcome to the business, now remember when de limbing a troll..."

****

"I'd make the obvious star wars joke, but I smell so bad I probably am the star wars joke." It had taken Clarissa more swings than she wanted to count to cut up the Troll, but she got the job done. Gilbert made sure the pieces burned properly which only helped augment the smell.

"What's star wars?" Clarissa looked at Gilbert with a bit of shock.

"Seriously?"

"No not seriously, you should have seen you face, it was amazing looking."

"You said you didn't joke on the job!"

"About the job, not on the job." Clarissa scowled and didn't say anything else, the sun was coming down and she wanted to ask the Rancher if she could use her shower. They left the woods and got the ranchers house just as the sun was going down. Ms. Parker the eldery Llama rancher was sitting on her porch a shotgun across her lap.

"The triumphant exterminators return, smelled you before I could see you." Parker looked to be in her early sixties to Gilbert, though something was off about her he couldn't put a finger on. Her house was large, as was her far, but Gilbert in his limited time there had seen no evidence of help or workers, or even a spouse of some kind. Parker herself looked to be Egyptian though her last name wouldn't have suggested that. She could have married into it, but she made sure to mention she was a Miss Parker and not missus.

"Can I use your shower Miss Parker? I'm so sorry about the smell."

"Don't be honey go on ahead while I settle up with your boss here third door on the right use whatever towel you prefer." Clarissa went into the house, Miss Parker smiled at Gilbert and rocked on the chair. Gilbert took out his pipe and started to smoke it was his ritual.

"Forgot to ask if it would bother you."

"Nah smoke doesn't bother me at all, made the girl cut up the troll? She new or something."

"Fresh on the job, she's a wizard with that bow though, best I've seen in a while."

"Shame if we had more time I'd love to have seen her shoot, but its dark and I'm sure you folks want to get back on the road, avoid that asshole sheriff." Parker wasn't surprised that Gilbert had run a foul of the Sheriff, Gilbert assumed based on her skin color she had too.

"So payment."

"Don't have it in paper, but I do have this." Parker produced a ruby, it was blackish red and about the size of a marble.

"That's well north of what I normally charge."

"Well you were so thorough and friendly, and discreet exterminator, exceptionally discreet." When Miss Parker said discreet Gilbert noticed the smoke drifting out of and not into her nostrils.

"That we are Miss Parker, that we are."

"Appreciate it, maybe in the future I call upon you and your gal and you can do me another favor, something a bit more complicated than a troll killing my Llamas."

"Maybe we can."

"Well then that's that." Miss Parker got up from her seat and walked into the house. Gilbert let out the breath he didn't notice he'd been holding. Clarissa came out a few minutes later in clean clothes, she said Miss Parker had been kind enough to just give them over.

"She's a nice lady."

"She's a dragon, and we need to be going." Clarissa stood there in shock for a bit and then hurried to the van before Gilbert left her behind.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Idaho

17.

"I'm starting to think people just don't like me." Clarissa and Gilbert were lost in northern Idaho. They had stopped at several gas stations and Clarissa had volunteered to ask for directions, and every time the person there was a rude asshole. The most recent just spit on her and told her she wasn't welcome.

"You're a white woman driving around with a black man, we're lucky they haven't called the police." Gilbert went to back up the van and almost hit the sheriff. He cursed, he had tempted fate, and now fate was there to kick him in the ass. The Sheriff was a young guy, at least half of Gilbert's age, he had his gun drawn, a large revolver and he was shouting orders.

"GET OUT OF THE FUCKING VAN HANDS UP!"

"Now son hold on now." Gilbert had gotten out his hands up, Clarissa as well.

"GET ON THE GROUND!" Gilbert and Clarissa both complied.

"You know as much as I wanted to tell Doris I told you so, I didn't want to do it from a prison phone."

****

Boundry County jail wasn't very big, only four medium sized cells. Sheriff Hauser had locked Clarissa and Gilbert up in seperate cells across from each other. Gilbert figured it was because of racism, Clarissa thought it was because he figured they'd try and bust out if they were in the same cell.

"You know Sheriff we get a phone call." Gilbert and Clarissa had been locked up for three hours. Hauser had not said anything after he had arrested them on charges he wouldn't explain.

"You know you can shut the fuck up before I make you." Hauser appeared to be the only person at work that day, or maybe he was the only Sheriff period.

"Man's an asshole." Gilbert was laying on his cot, it wasn't his first time in a jail in a small town, but he kept hoping each time would be his last.

"Maybe if we asked nicely?" For Clarissa it was her first time in a cell, she was pacing back in forth.

"I don't think this guy does anything nicely."

"Will we be charged for anything in the van?" Clarissa was wispering and Gilbert smiled.

"No, well I don't think so, not like this dumb ass could get the van open, you need a lot more than just the keys." Gilbert heard the Sheriff slam down whatever he was reading and come stomping back.

"I told you to shut the f..." Before he finished his sentence the door the Sheriff's office opened and Santinni dressed all in red entered. Gilbert hadn't expected the demon warden, but he was happy to see him. "Who are you?"

He had a smile bigger than his face to Clarissa, "Sannnnnn tinni." The demon said as if that meant something to anyone.

"And?"

"And Mis ter Howwwwwwwwww zer, you've got my man in a cell." Santinni never just said anything, he had to over emphasize everything and then speed through the rest. To Gilbert it was just him mocking humanity more than anything else, to everyone it just made him come off as the worlds worst carnival barker.

"Sheriff Hauser asshole, and if this," Hauser paused he was about to use a racial slur and thought better of it, "Fella, is your man he's in a heap of trouble." Santinni had closed the gap between him and Hauser, Clarissa could smell ozone, she didn't like the implications.

"Soooommmmmeeee one, is in a heeeeaaapppp of trouble," Santinni licked his index finger and then snapped, conjured by thin air was a badge wallet with FBI and Santinni's picture as the agent.

"Cute trick, but if you think I respect the federal fucking government up here in my cou..."

"Shhhhhhhhhh you're ruining this for me Mister Hooooooooooowzzzzzzer, I'm not asking, I'm telling, release Mr. Dunkley and Ms Shipley."

"Or what Agent," The sheriff leaned in to read his badge, "Santinni? What kind of fucking name is that." Santinni didn't respond where Clarissa and Gilbert could hear him, he just leaned in close to the Sheriff's ear and spoke in fast whispers, as he talked the Hauser looked less and less well, by the time he was done Hauser hit the ground like a sack of potatoes. When he hit the ground the cell doors opened.

"Lady, Gennnnttlllllemmmmmman, time for you to get back on the road, Sheriff Hauser is going to need a sick day."

"Do I want to know what you told him?" Gilbert had let curiosity get the better of him. Santinni smiled wide again.

"You dooooonnnnn't want to know, keeeeeep on my good side, and you woooonnnn't." They left the station, Gilbert's van was parked in front despite Gilbert not driving it there he assumed that was Santinni.

"Claaaaaaaaarrrrissssa, my dear, I need my feeeeeee." She knew this was coming, Gilbert had mentioned the soul thing and despite her being leery of it, she knew it had to be done.

"Will it hurt?"

"Diiiiiidddd it?" Clarissa was confused.

"What do you mean?"

"It's done my deeeeeaaaar, you're liiiissssscennnssed, have a pleasant day." And with that Santinni disappeared as if he was not there.

"Gilbert I'm confused." They had gotten back in the van and were driving down the road.

"Don't be, its more about consent than an actual physical cost, you gave him permission, so it was done and done, now the hard part."

"Killing a troll?"

"Finding the god damn thing, we're still lost in Idaho."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Trolling

16.

"So let me guess just throw out everything I ever knew about Trolls?" Gilbert and Clarissa were on the way to the Double O. Clarissa figured he didn't just keep Troll killing stuff around.

"Nope, keep everything you ever heard its mostly true, big, stupid, super strong, super resilient, corrosive blood, weak to fire, iron, and fey wood."

"Fey wood?"

"Yeah wood from the fey, sometimes called purgatory, but its really a place between worlds, not heaven or hell, souls I don't believe ever wind up there, but I've personally never been."

"You can go there?" Clarissa remembered being a young child and loving fairies, she wondered what the real ones were like Gilbert's one off handed comment about them wasn't very encouraging though.

"Certain people can, holy people, shamans, that kind of thing, you have to basically be a plane walker of sorts, someone told me once about the preperation for the journey and it sounds like not something I'd ever want to do, and its dangerous over there, there is shit in the fey that should never leave it and when they do we all suffer, like dragons."

"DRAGONS ARE REAL?"

"Calm down Clarissa, trust me you never ever want to meet a real dragon, just trust me on that."

"No way, you can't just drop a bomb like that and just expect me to accept it." Gilbert rubbed his eyes, they had a bit of a way to go to the Double O and he just knew he was just starting a conversation that would take most of the morning.

"Ok, what do you want to know?"

****

"So they can transform, and they have literal gold for blood?" Gilbert was just pulling into the Double O's parking lot. Clarissa showed a real interest in Dragons, too much interest for Gilbert's liking. He knew a guy that was super into them too until he was burned alive by one, Gilbert didn't like the feeling Clarissa would go that route herself.

"They also eat people, remember that, they are dangerous, dangerous creatures, not to be screwed with on a good day, and like all Fey creatures, they are consummate liars." The Double O was empty for the time being. Larry was peering over some kind of magazine.

"The triumphant killers return! Clarissa here is taking to your tutelage well Gilbert."

"She's a fast study, Larry I'm after a troll."

"So just punch the keyboard commando in the face what are you doing here?" Larry chuckled and made his way to the back.

"Every god damn time people make that kind of joke, I swear to god."

"Ok so I got Iron swords, daggers. polearms, greek fire, and we did just get a shipment of fey wood arrows." Larry put up all the items on the counter as he rattled them off.

"You know what I want Larry."

"Wasn't talking to you Gilbert, I got your iron machete already on the order, I was talking to Clarissa."

"Do you have a bow with those arrows?" Larry smiled.

"Do I ever!" Larry rummaged around under his counter and procured a white wood bow with intricate carvings, "Top quality fey ironwood, with manticore string, great pull, made for a righty so I hope you're ok with that."

"Hold on, Clarissa can you even fire a bow?" Clarissa took up the bow like a musician with a guitar, feeling the finish and then running her finger down the bow string testing its tautness.

"I went through a hunger games phase a while back, shot amateur for a while, figured there'd be no use for it in regular biology and I hated hunting animals, which ha is kind of funny now that I think about it."

"Tell you what Clarissa, you put two bulls eyes in out of three and I'll give you the bow, arrows of course still a cost, got to make money somehow."

"Deal."

"Wait don't go making..." Larry was already off to another part of the Double O. Gilbert himself had never seen the archery range, but he'd heard it existed. It was done up like an old castle wall, with targets at medium range, right underneath the wall, and on top of it.

"Forgive the wall, was hosting the local ren fair group the other weekend." Clarissa had already taken up a couple arrows from a loose quiver.

"So was that two in a row?" She notched two arrows, "Or simultaneously?" As soon as she let go Gilbert was already shocked. Not only did she hit the bullseye with both up top an down below, she'd done it almost dead center.

"Jesus you said you shot amateur?" Larry wanted to sell the arrows, but figured he'd be able to talk her into a lower cost on the bow, not run across Robin Hood reborn.

"Well shot amateur, my trainer said I could probably go pro, but dad was dead set against had to have a college education."

"I got god damned hustled! She hustled me!"

"Deal's a deal Larry." Larry had a huge smile on his face.

"Ok ok, well you need the quiver to match the bow, and a carrying case!" Larry rushed back to his shop area to procure the other items, and was able to upsell Clarissa on additional items, Gilbert found himself proud of her for finding her place in the exterminator world. He'd always wanted someone who could shoot a bow for the versatility of it, but previous archers he'd run across were not down for hunting monsters.

"So trolls?" They were back on the road, Clarissa was lovingly holding the new bow.

"Well first off, have you ever been to Idaho?"

Friday, May 5, 2017

Work As Usual

15.

"... In other news work continues on what regulators are saying is the worst natural gas disaster in recent history..." The radio was on in Roy's shop, the news was covering up the Dufton massacre as a gas explosion. Gilbert had told Clarissa the media was in on it, she just never thought it would be so blatant.

"If you think this is bad, you'd probably really freak when you'd hear what really went down with the titanic." Gilbert seemed in a better mood even with Sylvia still hanging around.

"It's like everything Art Bell was talking about was real."

"Everything he was talking about was real, well the cryptozoological stuff, aliens are bullshit best of my knowledge."

"Aliens are real too." Sylvia smiled when she said it, Clarissa had almost forgotten she was there.

"Don't lie to the girl Sylvia."

"I'm not lying Gilbert, we have been visited by multiple species of aliens."

"Is that from something you know, or something he knows."

"Such an asshole Gilbert." The he that went unsaid was the god Sylvia was connected to.

"And the results are in." Their argument was interrupted by Roy's reemergence. He had the ax grasped between two thick fireman's gloves with weird runes scrolled on the back of each one.

"Don't keep me in suspense Roy."

"Nothing, all gone, not a trace of the spirit that I had seen before. It's just a shitty ax now." Roy handed it over to Gilbert.

"Fantastic."

"So about my house..." Gilbert sighed, he didn't even want to look Roy in the face.

"You lost my ax to a man who used it to murder an entire subdivision Roy."

"So that's a you didn't cleanse the house or?"

"It's done, but you owe me."

"Sure sure, now can your little entourage leave your disrupting my customers." Gilbert looked around the store and found no one else there other than Clarissa and Sylvia.

"Right all the customers." Gilbert took the ax and made note the next time he'd ask for Roy's help, it would be with something that was extremely gross/took a long time for the smell to leave your clothes, like a troll or a trash spider. Once outside the entire town felt dead. Gilbert didn't even say anything to Sylvia, just waved at her as she drove off, their time together finished and he was grateful for it. Gilbert and Clarissa didn't say much on the way home, just talked about the weather and how everyone was a shitty driver. They both went to sleep hoping that the next day was not as tiresome as the one before it.

****
"Doris where are we on the Dufton estate?" Gilbert had been in the office for less than five minutes, Doris sighed, she'd told him where they were the day before, and the day before that. Gilbert was like that, he wouldn't care about something until he did.

"They are still clearing the check, but we are getting paid, where are you with regards to that Troll in Idaho?" Doris couldn't see it, but she knew Gilbert had wrinkled his nose, he hated trolls, and hated Idaho.

"Don't see it as much of a problem, I mean what's one more troll in Idaho?"

"Bills to pay Gilbert."

"Somethings ain't worth the money Doris." Clarissa was not currently in the office, Gilbert had allowed her time to go buy some new clothes and toiletries, since she'd become his assistant he wanted her to look more professional much to her chagrin. The haircut he was assured would happen as well, having laid an ultimatum of lose the hair or find a new place to work.

"I'll make sure to tell the electric company that."

"Doris I swear..." Gilbert was interrupted by Clarissa coming into the office, she had her hair nicely trimmed and was wearing a short sleeve work shirt and cargo pants, she almost looked like a professional if not for the nose ring.

"Nose ring?"

"You said no dreads you didn't say no nose rings."

"Ok fine first thing that rips it out of your nose I am not not telling you I told you so."

"Double negative Gilbert."

"All correct, so you want to hunt a troll?"

"Like someone who's an asshole online?" Gilbert chuckled.

"Nah something that smells nicer than those guys." He had grabbed his jacket along with the piece of paper Doris was holding out.

"So where we going?"

"Northern Idaho."

"This job takes me to the nicest places."

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Once and Future Dufton

14.

"So that was awkward."

"I didn't tell you to hug her." Gilbert was driving fairly fast, Clarissa felt he was trying to lose Sylvia, but seeing as her car was a lot nicer than Gilbert's fan, she figured that wouldn't be a thing he'd be able to do.

"I'm talking about you two, what could she have possibly done to keep you so distant."

"Sold her soul to a south american god of the hunt to save herself." Clarissa sat there in silence for a bit.

"That would do it I guess."

"She actually the older sister, up near her eighties even, but she was on an expedition down south, followed some damn fool or another and one plane crash later things were looking pretty grim until she accepted that offer."

"Well its hard to judge..."

"I damn will judge her, you never accept a deal like that if offered, Clarissa you don't know Gods like I do, they never do anything for your benefit, what Sylvia did was accept a deal that will come due later and she'll be paying to the hilt for it trust me."

"You say this while telling me to give my soul over to a demon." Gilbert felt flushed in the face.

"That's different, we aren't doing anything for the heaven/hell dynamic, we are merely telling them we'll play by the rules giving the one piece of currency we have."

"So us giving our soul over is ok because we get a worse deal than Sylvia got." Gilbert felt flustered.

"It's completely different, but I'm not going to get into this argument with shiiiiii." Gilbert had turned a corner towards the Dufton estate when he almost slammed right into an overturned car. Sylvia almost hit the van as she stopped too. Gilbert could see smoke and fires beyond the car, he was already too late for Dufton.

"A little warning next time?" The three of them had exited their vehicles, Clarissa saw Sylvia had armed herself with some kind of old fashioned rifle, all wood side panels and the barrel looked to have some weird inscription in it.

"Oh hey Sylvia I'm going to suddenly stop when a car is just overturned near me."

"Asshole." Gilbert opened up the back of his van and futzed around, Clarissa thought for a moment he'd open the green box, but instead he took out the revolver and fluids.

"No bone this time?"

"Don't have one, and he's not a monster like Paul was, he's just a man bullets should work, or this stuff." Sylvia looked at the jar, it was a black goo with gold flecks in it.

"Troll blood? Why would you?"

"It's caustic, shit will burn through most things, I know my business Sylvia, besides I got you and that rifle in case it doesn't, Clarissa you stay with Sylvia, don't know what Dufton is up to, but I don't want you getting hurt."

"I took on Paul, I can handle..."

"Stay." Gilbert's tone told Clarissa the matter was settled. Clarissa looked to Sylvia who was standing near the end of the wrecked car, she shrugged.

"Fine, but if you get killed."

"I'm not getting killed." Gilbert moved to the front of the car, said something to Sylvia, and then Clarissa lost site of him. She moved up to Sylvia herself who had taken bullets out of a leather bandoleer and put them in her fist.

"It's to reload, the rifle only holds one shot."

"Is everyone a mind reader in this industry?" Sylvia chuckled.

"It was all over your face, and before you ask, I don't need a scope Sinaa gives me the sight." Clarissa felt her face go flush, she was glad that Sylvia was too focused on watching Gilbert run between cars as he approached the Dufton mansion.

The subdivision that Dufton lived on had become a war zone. At some point police had been called in and their bodies lay next to their cop car. In a past life the one before working with Gilbert, Clarissa might have been surprised by the carnage she could see, bodies splattered and decapitated, but after her visit to Geode Creek nothing was surprising. Gilbert was almost to the gate of the Dufton place when Dufton emerged covered in blood and wielding the ax.

Sylvia didn't wait, she fired, the booming echo almost hurt Clarissa's ears. Dufton didn't even react to it. It was far enough away Clarissa couldn't see if the round hit or not, but judging on Gilbert jumping back it had, but it just didn't do anything. Gilbert himself opened fire and had a similar non reaction. The slime didn't seem to do anything either.

"Never seen something like this, it's like he's possessed." Clarissa had an idea and ran back to the van. Sylvia didn't even notice she wasn't here as she fired extra shots hoping one of them would stop Dufton. Clarissa grabbed the dust and one of the ghost papers from earlier and ran towards Gilbert. She heard Sylvia call after her, but ignored it because she could see Dufton had knocked Gilbert around pretty badly. When she arrived the possessed man was about to cleave Gilbert in two.

"Hey asshole, read this!" She threw the dust on him and the paper, immediately Dufton seized up, the air smelled like sulfur briefly and then he collapsed, blood oozing from the multiple wounds he'd received.

"Read this?"

"Couldn't think of something good."