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."

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sylvia Plath, Not the Poet

13.

"There are things I saw in there that will haunt me." Clarissa removed the ear plugs Gilbert had given her upon entering. It felt like hours had gone by, but based on where the sun was in the sky it was at best mid afternoon.

"Ghosts are like that, especially Mortensen satan spit on his awful soul."

"I made a perfect pun joke set up and you just let it fall to the floor."

"No I got it, I just chose not to engage." Clarissa stuck her tongue out at Gilbert and he laughed. They needed some levity after sending Mortensen and his band of awful spirits to wherever they would go in the afterlife, both hoped hell or some place stronger. Neither person noticed the BMW coupe parked next to Gilbert's van. It wasn't until the driver said something they were shaken from their revelry.

"Not even a hello Gil?" Gilbert looked at her for a moment and cursed and spit into the dust.

"Sylvia I heard you were in town, but I hoped much like a lot of bad rumors it was false."

"You cut me deep Gil, is that anyway to talk to your sister in law?" Sylvia was in her 40's by Clarissa's estimation, she had raven black hair and a scar that ran underneath her right eye from the bridge of her nose to the back of her face where Clarissa lost track of it. She was dressed in a loosely hanging suit and looked like a lawyer if not for the facial scar.

"I liked your Cadillac, crash it into a tree while texting?"

"You ever hunt a yeti?"

"Aren't they in the Himalayas? You drove your car over there?"

"Not all of them are, this was in Mexico of all places, damn thing ripped my car in two before I shot it down."

"Hi I'm Clarissa its nice to meet someone from Gilbert's family." Clarissa didn't like being ignored, she had her hand out for a shake and Sylvia pulled her in for a hug.

"It's always nice to meet Gilbert's coworkers they are nicer than he is."

"I'm plenty nice to people who aren't you Sylvia, what are you even doing here?"

"Sylvia Plath nice to meet you Clarissa."

"Like the poet?"

"Exactly like the poet, did you know that when I met Gilbert he didn't even notice that? He's not a man of letters."

"What are you doing here Sylvia?" Sylvia stopped the hug and smiled at Gilbert.

"Your friend Roy..."

"He's not my friend."

"Well your whatever Roy sent me."

"He better have sent you with an ax and an explanation or I'm going to be very upset at that illusionist."

"It was st..."

"God damn it Roy."

"olen by some rich guy you know? Apparently Roy was able to discern that the ax." But Gilbert was already getting in his van.

"Get in we're leaving Clarissa." Clarissa ran to her side of the van, she didn't want to be left behind at the creepy mansion even if they got rid of the ghosts.

"I'll follow you!"

"The hell you will Sylvia."

"You'll need me Gilbert, you'll see."

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Mortensen Place

12.

It was only nine in the morning, but the heat was already coming up. Clarissa felt stifled despite wearing shorts under her jump suit. Eastern washington was a bitch in the summer, but it felt like a really mean one on this particular july day. Her and Gilbert were outside of the dreaded "Mortensen" place.

Once upon a time Vincent Mortensen had been a ruthless merchant. Someone who got rich when times were lean and built his empire on misery. The jewel of the empire was his house which sat on a bluff outside of Ellensburgh. At one point in the past it was surrounded by a lush garden and lawn, but all Clarissa saw was the bones of that, just like she saw the bones of the house. A twisted warped old mansion that looked frightening to be near, let along having to go into. Gilbert seemed to of the same mind as he sat there staring in the heat, and made no move to go inside. He hadn't even been that talkative when they left his house in the morning, just a brief meal of eggs and coffee and away they went.

"So proton packs?"

"Nah ever since that shit in new york they don't let you run around with an unlicensed nuclear accelerator."

"Ghost Busters was real?" Gilbert smiled.

"No I was just having some fun with you."

"Cruel Gilbert, mean and cruel."

"No that's what inside, I don't recall exactly why Mortensen is in there, but I do know from stories he's a right bastard now, and his cruelty has attracted other things. If you didn't want to go in there I'd understand."

"No way, the chance to actually bust some ghosts is not something I pass up."

"I hope you keep that optimism with what we'll see in there."

"Guaranteed, so how do you bust some ghosts." Gilbert sighed and opened the van door, he rummaged around for a bit and withdrew some bags of dust.

"Magic dust? You fight ghosts with magic dust."

"Sort of, its a hoodoo powder."

"You mean voodoo?"

"No hoodoo completely separate, and just as a tip never confuse the two or you'll have some very upset people, just trust me on that as I made the same mistake once upon a time." Gilbert, having said that, went back to the van and pulled out some papers, they almost looked like certificates.

"Is that to certify its ghost free?" Gilbert laughed.

"No no, you hit them with the hoodoo powder and then give them one of these well that's what you do with bad ghosts, the dangerous ones, this is an incantation that sends them where they need to go. With reasonable ghosts you can usually talk them into taking it, they are only a ghost because they are afraid of what comes after, you talk them down, get them to accept they are dead and need to move on one way or another."

"That sounds actually pretty decent, doing it to the nice ones I mean."

"Well if they don't take the damn thing I still hit them with the powder and give them the incantation, ghosts are wrong and need to go either way its the only way we get paid." Gilbert started walking toward the front porch and stopped. He could see Mortensen waiting for him. The old ghost almost looked like a normal person, if you didn't know he was dead you'd almost think he was a lost old man. Gilbert could see it though, the maliciousness behind his eyes. The creature Mortensen had become in death was worse than he was when he was alive and he was a monster when he was alive.

"He's a looker isn't he?" Clarissa startled Gilbert.

"Yeah Mortensen, the last couple to own this place was found skinned alive hanging from the porch."

"Gruesome, you think he's going to just keep standing there so we can get him judged and on to the afterlife." The old man had dissappeared.

"Nope, and the thing you have to understand," Gilbert came up the steps and opened the door inside, "The house is bigger on the inside." With the door open Clarissa could see what looked like some kind of horrific carnival going on inside.

"Well that's terrifying to start."

"Also Mortensen isn't the only ghost here." As Gilbert said that a headless clown came walking by the front of the door.

"This is going to suck right?"

"Majorly."

Friday, April 7, 2017

Crazy Roy's Magic

11.

The ax was a mystery. It looked like a well worn fire ax. Nothing jumped out as special to Gilbert or Clarissa. Clarissa even tried to bathe the ax in fire thinking it was like Lord of the Rings and some secret writing would show up. Nothing looked out of place with it, and Gilbert was getting frustrated at looking. It was nearly midnight when he gave up and called his magic guy Roy.

"Sorry for calling so late."

"Gil my shop opens at 5pm, do you think I keep normal hours?" Roy sounded fairly young to Clarissa, even younger than her.

"Well I have this ax..."

"Right took it off that Paul creature right?"

"How did you?"

"I'm a magician Gilbert, I've told you that several times and every time you seem shocked I know things."

"You mean you're a bullshitter, the only magic you seem capable of is taking money and turning it into useless junk."

"That hurts Gil."

"Roy I need you to look at the ax not do your Kreskin act, so are you going to do it or not?" Gilbert's patience had run thin.

"Sure sure no need to bite my head off, I'll make sure to have some coffee on for when you get here." Gilbert looked at Clarissa with a shrug. He almost did a double take, since she had chosen one of Shirley's old jean dresses for a brief moment in the light she looked like her.

"Got to go by Roy's shop, shouldn't take too long, then maybe get a decent night of sleep, see Doris, that sort of thing."

"Fine by me, is he a real magician?"

"No, Roy O'grady is many things, but having actual magic is beyond him. At best he's an illusionist, makes you think you see one thing when you are in fact seeing something else. Most of the time it means you think you are seeing someone competent, when you are in fact seeing someone making shit up. But he's the best at dealing with magical objects, which is a statement on the sorry state of magical research." Clarissa didn't have anything to add to that so into Gilbert's van they went.

Crazy Roy's Magic Shop was near downtown. It was in what had once been the town movie theater. The shops next to it were not occupied, some commercial rental signs sat dustily hanging. Clarissa remembered from her college days, which seemed like years ago despite having literally been days ago, seeing the magic shop with its odd hours and seemingly empty businesses next door wondering how such a hokey place kept in business. Roy himself played the part of the cheap magician. He was wearing a three piece suit like a carnival ring leader, with a large curled up mustache and overly large top hat. Roy looked almost impossibly thin as well, but Clarissa worried if that was an illusion as Gilbert had warned.

"Putting on the ritz for me Roy?"

"Not for you, your new assistant, nice to meet you Clarissa, the name is Roy O'Grady and I'm every bit the scoundrel your boss holds me out as." Gilbert sighed, but Clarissa appreciated the attention even if Roy looked to be at least twenty years her senior.

"Now I know someone told you, had to be Santinni, he's the only one who knew of the ax and Clarissa." Roy frowned.

"Guilty Gilbert, he swung by earlier giving me his usual spiel about not paying for illegally obtained items, making sure things are on the up and up and no creature enslavement, I swear he thinks the worst of me."

"Because he knows you. Now about this Ax." Gilbert put it on the counter, it looked somehow more menacing in the shops light versus Gilbert's living room.

"Mortensen place." Gilbert looked at Roy with a glare.

"Excuse me."

"You want me to look over the ax, I need you to clear out the Mortensen place, you scratch my back, I scratch yours."

"It's a god damned ghost house Roy."

"Yeah and I want to run people through it, but not when there are actives ghosts in it Gil."

"Isn't that what you are selling them on? Seeing ghosts?"

"Not the homicidal kind that rip flesh from your face, the idiot kind like you see on tv where things creak and bump and oh no did you hear a whisper. But that's the deal, you clear the Mortensen place, I'll look over your murder ax, deal?" Roy held his hand out and Gilbert reluctantly shook it. Gilbert hated ghosts, but he wanted to know about the ax, and so he agreed against his better judgement to exterminate some ghosts.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Aftermath

10.

"What is Santinni?" Clarissa went with the more obvious question to start off.

"He's a game warden of sorts, demon, though there are angels. Most of the creatures we end up needing to destroy escaped from one place or the other Santinni is here to make sure much like any game warden, that they are destroyed and not kept like some kind of pet or experiment." Clarissa was just so baffled, yesterday she had been a hard A atheist and now not only were monsters real, but heaven and hell? Like she'd fallen down the crazy hole, she almost worried this was a mental break and Gilbert was just a nice orderly trying to talk her down.

"I'm so lost."

"The more important thing is getting you licensed, I didn't bring it up before because I didn't know if you wanted to stick around, but much like any other trade we don't just let anyone out here to exterminate creatures, and there is a cost to be paid."

"You say cost in a way I'm not comfortable with."

"You're not going to like it."

"Hit me Gilbert, I can take it."

"You're soul." Clarissa laughed, she just didn't know what else to do.

"My what?"

"You're soul, you have to put it in a kind of pawn like situation with the eternal powers, that way if you break the covenants they take a price that no human would ever want to pay."

"So Santinni is a demon game warden who wants my soul so I can kill monsters for a living."

"Yes this is the long and short of what I'm saying."

"Man my world is so fucked up right now." Gilbert didn't say anything in response he just drove, and Clarissa her one pressing question answered went to sleep. The rest of the drive was uneventful.

****

Clarissa woke up with a start. She was in a bed that she didn't remember falling asleep in. She was still the clothes she was wearing when she went to sleep in the work van. She could tell it was dark out, but had no idea where she was. She got out of bed and saw her shoes were placed at the end of it. She looked to be in someones guest room, there were no pictures on the walls, and only a bed and small night stand with a lamp on it. Beyond the room she could hear talking and one of the voices sounded like Gilberts.

"I'm just saying you said temporary and this has been going on for six months, you have a weird definition of temporary." Gilbert had some anger in his voice. Clarissa was in a small hallway off a kitchen, she could see yellow light and a range in front of her.

"This is how you treat family? Especially after Dad died I thought you'd..."

"Don't you throw that shit at me Joseph, don't you dare try and act like he just died, he died five years ago, and it has nothing to do with your dumb bullshit."

"You're an asshole." There was a door slam and Joseph was gone, Gilbert showed up at the end of the hallway and spotted Clarissa.

"I hope we didn't wake you."

"Nah I had gotten up, I'm at your house?"

"You mentioned you didn't have a place to stay, and you were pretty tired when I pulled up, figure better in our guest room than in the van." Clarissa walked the rest of the way into the kitchen and saw it was a fairly large and older in design, something from the sixties by her guess.

"So that was your nephew?"

"Yeah Joseph, I didn't mind him being here at first, but now the little shit is setting up shop. And I'm not a halfway house for his failures. He uses my brothers death like a club against me at any and all opportunity." Gilbert looked tired to Clarissa, she wondered if he had slept at all. Before she could ask him there was a ring of a doorbell.

"You're nephew?"

"Has a key, and he never rang the bell." There was worry in Gilbert's voice, Clarissa recalled Santinni saying he had a week, but maybe the demon got impatient.

"Creatures?" Gilbert chuckled and the doorbell rang two more times insistent.

"They don't ring doorbells, but you'll learn that in time, no come on lets not leave Francis Dufton on my door step." Clarissa wondered how he knew who it was, but she figured with experience came expectation.

"Mr. Dufton this is my residence this is not how we do things in this industry." Dufton was a thin tall man, pale white skin and really black hair. He was dressed in a black suit and a had a couple of large looking men in suits with him.

"You have something for me Mr. Dunkley."

"A bill at my office which you're welcome to come get in the morning." Gilbert went to close the door and Dufton stopped it with his hand and came inside unasked, his men remained outside. Clarissa could see this upset Gilbert.

"The ax Dunkley, I'm here for the ax."

"I knew you double booked on me."

"Vasilly told me you had the game warden run him off, now as your employer..."

"You should know all my contracts say I keep what I kill, if you wanted the ax you should have specified."

"Don't fuck with me Dunkley."

"Don't fuck with me Dufton, you are an uninvited guest in my house and if you think those two outside scare me you obviously don't know what I do for a living. Keep this up and I'll add an asshole charge to your bill." Both men stood staring at each other looking for an opening. Dufton eventually put his hands up and went toward the door.

"This isn't over."

"Not until you pay my bill." Clarissa looked at Gilbert who was breathing kind of heavy.

"That was kind of scary."

"Yeah, more than a little bit."

"Is every job like this?" Gilbert smiled.

"Gods no, just the shitty ones. And this one is seeing more and more like the worst of the worst. I'm going to have get that axe in here and give it a once over, something ain't right."

"Can I take a shower first I smell awful." Gilbert laughed.

"Yeah please do, might even have a change of clothes if you don't mind wearing some of my wifes." The tension seemed more defused, still Clarissa was as interested in the Ax as Gilbert was. She figured something was wrong, and the sooner they figured that out, the sooner this whole thing would go away.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Not a Game I'm Playing

9.

"Not even if god him self comes down do I want to be disturbed! I've been up for over a day, I've been coated in blood three time and I'm just so tired Gil, so tired." It had been four hours since they killed the other creature, Clarissa and Gilbert both were caked in dust, blood, and general forest trappings. Clarissa felt drained in every way a person could be.

"I hear ya, grab some sleep, I'll wake you when we get home." Gilbert wasn't tired at all himself, he always found killing creature exhilarating, though he was hungry. He knew he'd stop at a fast food place on the way home.

"Don't even do that, just leave me in the van, I'll just sleep a day in here." Gilbert had only just gotten the van going when he slammed on the breaks and Clarissa looked at him sourly.

"What did I say Gil?"

"Armed men in the road say differently Clarissa."

"I knew it we're going to prison forever."

"They aren't the authorities, stay in the van." Clarissa could see two jeeps and a pick up truck, all told it looked like eight men with rifles and dressed like soldiers. The man in front was not armed, he looked more like an accountant with a ring of hair and a skeezy looking mustache.

"Gilbert fucking Dunkley, my man." His accent was some form of eastern european to Clarissa's ears.

"Vasilly, double booked?"

Vasilly licked his lips and looked away like he was trying to find the words, "Nah Dunkley, I'm here for the ax, give it over."

"You know the rules, this isn't them."

"My men say it is them, rules are for people playing games Dunkley I ain't playing a game, the ax." Gilbert looked pained, Clarissa remembered him taking the ax, but she didn't ask at the time why, now it appears it was a deliberate thing.

"Gent le men, pl e ase, remain civl," Everyone's attention switched focus from Gilbert and Vasilly to the new voice, a man in a bowler hat three piece suit and a cane with a crystal on top of it. Clarissa was mystified where this guy came from, he seemingly showed up from no where.

"This has nothing to do with you warden." The Bowler hatted man leaned his head back, Clarissa noticed his eyes were red, not the iris, the entire eye with just a blackness for his pupils.

"Vas sssssiii llly," Bowler smiled, it was an off putting thing to Clarissa, "Ev ery thing, interests," he paused again Clarissa felt like who ever Bowler was, he was deliberately dragging out his sentences, "Me."

"What I did was legal, Vasilly and I are just having a disagreement, that's all."

"Ahhh," Bowler looked at Gilbert, looked at Vasilly and then back at Gilbert and then smiled again, "Find yourself disagreeing with guns often Gil BERT?"

"Sometimes." Gilbert acted like he was talking to a parent who caught him sneaking a cookie.

"Vas illlllly you may go, Gil BERT you have to stay after class, we have," Bowler paused again chewing on the words, "Business."

"I'm not leavin..."

"If you will not go I will make you go, do you wish for me to do that Mr. Koblechev? I will do it." The words were fast and irritated Bowler hat no longer seemed interested in dragging out the encounter.

"This isn't over Dunkley." Vasilly spun his finger around and his men turned their jeeps around and left, with Vasilly getting into the pick up and flipping Gilbert off before he took his seat. The man in the bowler waited for them to leave, rocking back and forth on his dress shoes.

"Clarissa Shipley, please exit the vehicle." It was alarming to Clarissa the man in the hat knew her name, even more so the way he said it. She did as she was told, her previous tiredness discarded in the face of the red eyed Bowler man.

"Santinni I can explain."

"Ex plain? Unlicensed exterminators are very much not allowed. There can be pen al ties Gilbert."

"This job just came up Santinni I was just trying to."

"The smell of goblin blood on you," Santinni looked from Gilbert to Clarissa, "Milk run? Right Gilbert?" Santinni laughed and Clarissa did not like the sound. "One week, either licensed or penalties, ok? We're done here you may go."

"Thank you." But Santinni was already gone, he disappeared the same way he had arrived.

"I have so many questions."

"Thought you wanted to sleep?"

"Well not now."

Friday, March 17, 2017

Grave Digging

8.

"Why again are we dragging the body of a creature through the woods?" Clarissa and Gilbert had cleaned themselves up the best they could using an outdoor faucet. Neither one felt brave enough to venture into a cabin even with the killer dead outside.

"Got to bury these things, or they'll come back."

"But didn't he already come back, aren't we just like not actually stopping anything by doing this?" Clarissa knew Gilbert was already doing most of the dragging even with him holding two shovels, but her arms still burned from the exertion, and she was tired. It had been almost a full day since she last slept and that was catching up to her as the sun started to crest on the horizon.

"Just because the raccoons got into your garbage once doesn't mean its a bad idea to put it in the can."

"That doesn't answer anything."

"I believe it does, less talking more carrying." They eventually got to a small clearing that Gilbert felt was hidden enough and began digging. It took a couple more hours, and by the time they were done the morning sun was fully up in the sky. Clarissa threw her shovel down and just sat on the ground not wanting to move.

"So is Canada going to think we are serial killers since we came up here and killed the real killer as it were?"

"No they know what killed those people, like I said everyone knows who needs to know."

"I don't know what scares me more, monsters or the fact my government has been hiding them from me so private contractors can kill them." Gilbert smiled, and took out his pipe again, Clarissa found the smoke oddly comforting, she half believed it was some magic smoke that made things better.

"Personally the monsters scare me more, government is just something I pay my taxes to and get my pension from." Clarissa leaned back and then screamed. She hadn't looked up before, and now saw the impaled body of Frank. From his position it looked like Paul had literally tossed him on to a branch. Clarissa would have found it weird they didn't see him in the tree if not how tired they had been and how dark it was.

"How do we get him down?" Clarissa was not looking forward to what Gilbert would suggest.

"I guess cut the tree branch, I mean I'm glad I brought Paul's ax, but that feels kind of wrong to do to Fr..." Gilbert stopped mid sentence and Clarissa couldn't figure out why at first and then she felt the presence behind her.

"There's something behind me isn't there."

"Yep."

"There were two of these killers in the woods and you didn't figure on that."

"You're two for two."

"We're going to die aren't we?"

"MOVE!" Gil charged forward with the ax, Clarissa side stepped herself right into the tree with Frank's body in it. The jostling was enough to dislodge Frank's corpse right on top of her. He smelled of pine and decay. Clarissa looked up to see that the new creature and Gil we're fighting over the ax, she was surprised by how strong Gilbert was. He had to be in his fifties at the earliest and yet he was able to keep the creature tied up though he was losing. Clarissa slipped out from underneath Frank's body and she noticed clutched in his hand was one of the bones like Gilbert had used earlier. She took it up hoping that it too was laced with the virgin semen and charged herself at the monster. He had almost gotten the ax away from Gilbert when she plunged the bone into his back where she hoped his heart would be. The flesh gave way a lot easier than she expected or she was stronger than she gave herself credit for. Either way the monster relinquished its grip on the ax and Gilbert took it up and chopped its head off causing a blood geyser to erupt on to Clarissa.

"I just don't even how, how does this keep happening."

"That's not what's going to really upset you."

"We have to dig another god damn hole don't we."

"Yep, two more, have to bury Frank too."

"I hate this job."

Friday, March 10, 2017

Gilbert Vs Paul

7.

The Canadian boarder didn't really look that imposing to Clarissa. Just a couple booths with signage indicating you were leaving america. She didn't know what she expected, but something more grander than what she got. They were the only car in line to cross at just under one in the morning. Gilbert didn't even take out any kind of passport or paperwork, just drove right up to one of the booths and waited for the boarder guard.

"Evening sir." The guard's name tag read Saunders, he looked really young, younger than even Clarissa. She figured graveyard was probably where they stuck the rookies.

"Same to you young man, Gilbert Dunkley and I'm here on business." Saunders had an old fashioned clip board with actual paper on it, Clarissa thought it strange she figured everyone just used tablets now.

"And the young woman?"

"My new assistant."

"Right, destination?"

"Geode Creek, Saunders, I new a Pat Saunders once, you related?"

The young man smiled at Gilbert, "He was my father sir, he spoke highly of you."

"You say spoke which means."

"Yeah he passed a few years back, drunk driver plowed into him."

"I'm sorry to hear that Mr. Saunders."

"Before you go I have a question, how do you kill a wendigo?"

Gilbert produced a card from seemingly thin air and handed it over to the young boarder guard, "You call me Mr. Saunders, you call me." The young man smiled and waved them on. Gilbert wasted no time beyond the boarder, he once again was not concerned by traffic laws.

"Thought you were in a hurry, why not be demanding to the young man?"

"In a hurry doesn't mean you have to be rude Clarissa, I knew of Saunders daddy dying, but I never got to say my condolences." Clarissa was confused by the whole thing, but Gilbert wasn't and that would have to be enough. They made good time with it being so late at night and Gilbert seemingly knowing the way despite claiming not to, in short order they were pulling up alongside a sign that proclaimed "Geode Creek" camp site.

"Why are we parking way down here, there is still road?" Gilbert had already gone to the back of the van and was busy pulling out his tools.

"Killed something like this before, we park up there the damned thing is more likely to rip the engine out of the van and I'm not going to get that repaired again, don't have the time or the money." Gilbert had the bone of the repentant sinner and had applied what Clarissa could only assume was the virgin semen, she hoped it didn't have to be fresh for it to work. She also saw he had a shoulder holster on along with large revolver of some type that he was checking the load of.

"Thought you said all you need is the bone and some loser jizz?"

"Virgin jizz, not loser, losers can have sex as my brother continued to prove up until his untimely demise." Clarissa had gotten out of the van now though she didn't know what she'd do against whatever Paul was supposed to be.

"I'm sorry to hear that about your brother, was he killed by a monster and that's what brought you into the business." Gilbert laughed.

"Ha no, damn fool drank and drove and crashed into a telephone pole."

"That's horrible."

"Yeah I hear the power was down for a few hours, I felt so bad for those people." Clarissa didn't need to hear more to assume Gilbert and his dead brother were not friends. They moved on from the sign through the woods, avoiding the road. Gilbert once again seemed to know where he was going, where Clarissa just kept running into every tree branch possible. Clarissa had never been a fan of the woods, and skulking around them with Gilbert she felt even less happy to be there.

"How do you know where you're going?"

"I've been here before, Frank and I used to go up fishing here, I never put two and two together until on the drive. I screwed up Clarissa, I thought he just liked fishing in canada, I never put it together he was looking for this Paul thing and brought me along as back up. I bet if you look into it you could find one of Paul's victim's is a young woman named Charlene. Frank had a daughter used to talk about her a bunch when were coming up together. He stopped a few years back and I figured it was out of respect for me since my wife and I never had a child, never got around to it. I didn't think that she got killed up here and Frank was looking for her killer."

"You don't know that, you assume you can't kn..." They had broken through the forest and into the camp area. Clarissa lost the words, there were 6 cabins in a half circle. She didn't see bodies, but she saw violence. Three vans of audio visual equipment most like for the ghost show were all trashed, the camera equipment distributed near by. The Cabins themselves also looked in equal destruction. Whatever "Paul" was, he was very powerful.

"Quiet, use your ears, damned things like this sneak up on you, and stay close, we don't want to split up, that's what it wants." Clarissa felt like a little girl with her dad creeping up on the camp. She didn't even know what Gilbert expected her to do, but she felt assured he knew what to do. They approached the cabin closest to them and Gilbert went to look inside. Clarissa stayed outside but in his visual range. It was too dark for her to see anything but Gilbert.

"Oh god I think I see some blood out here Gil, definitely looks too much to just be like a cut." Inside the cabin after his eyes adjusted Gilbert saw corpses, a lot of corpses. Seven people who looked like they had been brutally hacked to death and strung up from their own entrails.

"Yeah uhh keep calm Clarissa, and don't come in here."

"Why what's in there?"

"A lot more than just blood." Gilbert backed out of the cabin. He had instinctively already pulled the bone up like a vampire hunter in an old Hammer film. Clarissa found herself backing up with him and that took her over the side of the small railing and into the dirt with a thwomp. Her butt hurt, but mostly her pride was the real injury.

"You ok?"

"Yeah just landed on my ass, you sure Paul is around here?"

"It's around, these things tend to stick around waiting for more victims, which is what we are."

"Great Gil, glad I signed on to work for you."

"It's not all goblins, you think this is bad, dragons are worse."

"Gil what would Paul look like?"

"I dunno probably big and scary looking, with something obscuring his face and some kind of bladed weapon from what I saw in there."

"Like a dude in a welders mask with a fire ax."

"That's oddly specific," Gilbert sighed, "He's right behind me isn't he."

"Yep just standing there staring at me, or at least I think he's staring at me hard to tell with the mask." Gilbert sighed again. Paul just stood there ax clasped in his hands looking at his next two victims.

"This is going to be messy Clarissa, be careful." Gilbert reached up for his revolver and made a guess on where Paul was standing and pulled the trigger. The bullet surprised Paul and he stumbled backwards. Clarissa panicked and went to run, Paul seeing his victim running away threw his fire ax at her, the handle wrapped itself in her legs and she came crashing to the dirt, the wind knocked out of her. Paul stalked towards her with Gilbert giving chase though the creature was faster than he was. Paul had already snatched Clarissa up from the ground and was preparing to give her his version of a haircut when Gilbert impaled him with the bone. Clarissa got the brunt of the blood gushing out of Paul's chest, it coated her entire face and chest. The creatures grip of her was relinquished, it collapsed on the ground and she hit her feet roughly.

"This shit never ends does it." Clarissa wiped the blood from her face and walked away from Paul's body.

"Nope not really, reminds me of the time," Gilbert took out his pipe and lit up a smoke, "I was after a Gonju." Clarissa watched on in horror behind Gilbert, Paul had started to move.

"Uhh Gil."

"Gonju are nasty little suckers, breed like rabbits, eat fucking everything."

"Gil!" Paul had almost gotten to his feet and had gotten his axe back.

"It's rude to interrupt Clarissa."

"He's," Gilbert turned around lightning fast and fired another shot into Paul, this one through where the bone had gone.

"Not fully dead yet, yeah I got that, ninety percent of the time the bone will do, but sometimes, sometimes you have to help them along the way." Gilbert popped the revolvers cylinder out and withdrew the two spent casings. He then reached up underneath Paul's mask and made a sour face as he fumbled around eventually finishing what he was doing, he pulled his hand out which was now covered in some kind of slime.

"What did you just do?"

"Put the casings in his mouth, helps complete the curse that was etched on the bullets. Now if you excuse me I have to find something to wash my hand because I don't even know what's on my hand, and I want it gone." Clarissa agreed she too would like to find a sink to rid herself of Paul. And so the exterminators washed themselves of the monster.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Proper Research

6.

"Get my laptop in the back, need to do some research." Gilbert was stopped at a light just shy of midnight. Clarissa thought it was stupid to stop at a light with no one around in the middle of nowhere, but Gilbert was the type that obeyed rules when no one was watching and she felt it was a waste of an argument.

"You're driving?"

"Yes which is why I told you to get my laptop so that you can do the research." Clarissa felt kind of dumb, but blamed it on how long they'd been up. The laptop was sitting on top of a green box that had one hand written sign on it "Do Not Open", it was a fairly large box that Clarissa had missed when she'd previously looked in the back of the van.

"What's in the box back there?"

"Don't you worry about it, now look up Geode Creek, something isn't sitting right with me here." Clarissa didn't like how he dismissed her question about the green box, but figured like everything else, she'd get to it in time.

"This is a real nice laptop." Clarissa had opened it up and was amazed at how modern and expensive it was.

"Don't say it like that, that's the way the salesman said it when I picked it out, you're implying its too nice for a dumb old man like me to have or want. I'll have you know I choose my tools carefully Clarissa, and that laptop like any other item in my kit has saved me, and just like those items I take care of it."

"I'm sorry Gil I didn't mean to imply you're old or out of touch."

"Well I'm both of those things, but I can at least figure out technology." Gilbert smiled to release the tension and Clarissa went to work on researching Geode Creek. Her initial search turned up basic information about the recent slayings. No real information on who the killer was or where they found the victims. Clarissa thought it a bit odd that information was missing, especially from the media which always tended to make killings front page stuff.

"Gilbert I'm confused."

"The media is in on it, no I'm not a psychic, you're wondering why nine people getting killed wasn't a story you heard about, why its not a bigger story in general, because what killed those people wasn't a person, or wasn't a person any longer, you'll have to go beyond the press here, crank websites and the like, I know it sounds stupid, but its how we do this job, relying on hearsay as truth and ignoring truths because those are just clever lies."

"Prior to killing some goblins with you Gil, I'd have thought you were pretty crazy with that."

"Prior to me killing monsters of my own, I'd be right along with you."

"Ok ignoring real media, there is this guy 'The real Truth of Geode Creek', he says that the nine deaths are just more in a pattern of death up there dating back to 1959. He said it started with the death of some maintenance worker in a prank gone wrong, all told forty eight people have been supposedly killed by a creature named 'Paul'."

"Paul doesn't sound threatening at all, I knew a Paul once nice guy bit of a drinker though."

"Focus Gil, reading here it sounds like Paul is."

"Some kind of resurrected vengeful corpse monster out to overly punish people who didn't actually wrong him, yeah that's a thing. I have a bone of a repentant sinner and some semen from a virgin in the truck, pierce his heart and that's all she wrote most of the time, starting to worry about where they are getting the semen though, I mean you kids these days so sexually liberated, virgins are harde"

"Gil."

"I don't think its like sexual assault, I just think it has to be some kind of false pretenses"

"Gil!"

"What? Sorry got lost in my thoughts again."

"What was the name of that guy you were looking for? Your exterminator friend?"

"Frank Murphy."

"Because it says that the guy who runs the real truth hired a supposed monster exterminator to show him the real story on Geode Creek, and he's got a picture here of a guy in workman stuff with a 'Frank' name tag." Gilbert put his foot on the gas, he didn't have to see the picture to know it was Frank.

"Aren't you worried about the speed limit?"

"Not anymore, got a creature to kill and a friend to save."