Friday, November 17, 2017

When You Hear Music, Run

44.

"This will be my sixth time up in them woods, on my previous five trips, I only found one person, and that one was," Gilbert paused for a moment, "Well he came back wrong best I can say it, he's still alive last I heard, and his parents are doing their best, but what's in them woods isn't a normal creature, it takes things from you." The two exterminators were on a ferry at the moment, the sun was going down. Gilbert had informed Clarissa they wouldn't be going into the woods till the morning, he didn't dare start out at night.

"Is it some kind of ancient spirit, like something native american?" Gilbert smiled.

"You went the same place I did on my first trip up there, I checked a local reservation figuring someone had cursed the place, maybe I could get it removed? They knew the place, knew the evil there, but it was there before their people had ever come from wherever they came from. They put me in touch with the only person to ever come back from them woods. He was old, up over the age of 98, didn't speak, when I ran across him he'd moved to just outside of the woods, lived in a small cabin his grand daughter helped maintain. She told me he hadn't talked to anyone in over five years, spent most of his time sitting on the porch in a rocking chair just staring into the woods. I asked my questions, he didn't say anything, I was about to leave when I told him I was going into those woods, and that's when he snatched my arm strength like a taught cable, he stared me right in the eyes and said 'When you hear music, run.'" Gilbert fell silent for a bit. Clarissa felt a chill run up her spine at the story, she could tell Gilbert was bothered by it. He himself was staring at the mountains, she could tell he was probably going back to those woods in his mind.

"For my first trip I wasn't alone, authorities hadn't learned to avoid the woods, we had search and rescue, sheriffs, even some fire fighters had joined the effort. I was just hired at the time because I'd worked for the sheriff once to kill a werewolf, so he knew that the woods could harbor things normal people didn't believe in. We had no idea what we were walking into. Lost five people in two days, never found a trace of them, they were just up and gone, including the sheriff who hired me. The second time out it was just me and Charlie, no one else would go. Charlie saw something in the woods I didn't, he wouldn't tell me what it was, but he never went back to them. Hell he didn't come back to the peninsula for any regular job, I never blamed him, I don't take jobs in wyoming either." Gilbert didn't say anything again. Clarissa was beginning to regret coming on this job.

"That third job though, it was just me, so I was already high strung. Those woods are deep and you start seeing things, hearing things, and you know you're hearing things, because those woods are quiet like the grave. Its the first thing you notice about when you get deep in, past the normal woods areas, past the birds, and squirrels and other shit, when you get in deep it gets quiet, real quiet," Gilbert considered his next words carefully, Clarissa had goose bumps all over her arm, "When I heard it at first I thought I was just hearing more shit, I swear I'd heard my mothers voice earlier in the day, but that music was unmistakeable, faint at first, just drifting on the wind and then it was all around me. You know carnival music? Loud and bombastic? It's what I heard, my father used to take me to carnivals as a young man, I loved it, loved seeing clowns and high wire acts, it was a grand ole time. This music put the chill into my spine. I'd forgotten about the old native american's warning up till then, and then it came flooding back and I was chilled to my core." A bird made a loud cawing sound from somewhere on the sound and both Clarissa and Gilbert got startled and laughed at the situation.

"Out of nowhere amidst this music was a carnival barker. He even had a little booth, I couldn't believe my eyes at first. I was dumb then, just a stupid fool who didn't run when he should have. 'Step right up, step right up, we have rides, we have thrills, we have stuff you ain't never seen, step right up sir' I was paralyzed, unable to move, unable to talk, and that barker had a look to him, something was off, I mean obviously because it was a carnival barker in the middle of the woods, but there was something else, something insidious about how he was looking at me. While I was staring at him his outfit changed, started small, fabric getting frayed, skin looking off. Soon enough his clothes were made from skin and bone, his own body that of a corpse. And I was being strangely drawn to him, I could feel my desire to go with him," Gilbert shuddered again and gathered his thoughts, "I probably would have gone with him if not for Tyler Smith, the young boy I was out there to find, he screamed at me no and I woke up like from a dream, I snatched him up and ran, I could hear the barker behind me making demented requests cursing my family but I paid him no mind. I just ran."

"When I got Tyler back home to his family he wasn't speaking, his hair was all white, all the boy would say is 'when you hear music, run' I heard that's all he does say now, though he hardly speaks. Just sits on the porch looking back to the woods, his family moved away, but he knows which direction to look, knows where to stare." Gilbert looked to the woods again, shivered and walked back to the van, the ferry ride was almost over.

"So what's the plan?"

"I booked some hotel rooms, we will set out in the morning, check in with the sheriff just to let her know we're going up there, she'll probably give me a song and dance like Doris did, and then we'll find Ms Hansen, or not, either way we will leave those woods by night time, but remember what I did not."

"When you hear music run."

"When you hear music run, good Clarissa you may outlive me yet." Clarissa didn't feel that, and couldn't help shake the feeling Gilbert had mentioned he'd been up there five times but only told her of three of them.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Into the Woods

43.

The front doors bell toned and Gilbert looked up from the exterminator catalog. He was all by himself. Doris and Clarissa had taken a personal day together to do something Gilbert didn't care to hear about and he'd been the one to hold down the fort. He had been flipping through the catalog for a few hours, deciding if he really wanted to order anything or just look.

"Excuse me?" The man had thick dark rimmed glasses, he was wearing a wrinkled suit the type you throw on for an unexpected funeral.

"Help you? We're running a discount on goblins and lesser demons, only lesser demons though, full blown exorcisms are still full price, hands are tied on that one catholic church rates, you understand." Gilbert didn't even really look up, he'd already been pestered by a couple people looking for a regular exterminator and he was tired of it already.

"Seriously?"

"Yeah catholic exorcisms are a damned racket, though I haven't found anything that works better, lesser demons I can get rid of easily enough, sanctify burn the little bastards with some holy water, but full blown demon stuff needs the big guns and big guns aren't cheap." Gilbert had tried to get Father Clarence to do an exorcism, but he said it wasn't his area of expertise.

"I'm not, I'm not here for an exorcism sir." Gilbert looked up from his catalog and gave the man a more serious appraisal. He looked sad more than anything, and that told Gilbert it wasn't a normal job he was calling about.

"How long have they been missing?" The man seemed taken back.

"What?"

"Had to have been the Jefferson County Sheriffs who told you to come to me, your suit looks like a long drive without a change of clothes and your face is red from crying, so someone is missing in the Olympic forest." The man didn't know how Gilbert had guessed all that but he felt a sense of relief.

"I just didn't know what an exterminator in eastern Washington could do, my sister, she went missing yesterday we were supposed to have dinner last night, I fear the worse."

"Hiking?"

"Ornithology its..."

"Study of birds I know, though no one studies birds in those woods, no one studies nothing."

"She thought people were just being superstitious." The man started to cry, and Gilbert came over and hugged him, he'd been in this position before, and everytime it broke his heart.

"Ain't no superstition about those woods, but I understand, and I can help you, but I want you to know I've been up there five times, I've only ever gotten one person out and even then there were changes."

"Anything you can do, anything." The man started deeply sobbing and Gilbert let him. It was a good hour before he left. He made sure to give Gilbert a picture of his sister even though Gilbert knew in his heart he wouldn't need one, he knew the woman was dead and he was wasting his time.

****

"No Gilbert you stubborn old man you will not go into the woods." Doris had never liked Gilbert going into the olympics, in the past she couched it in just a bad feeling, now with her elf heritage out she spoke from a position of the fae, it was an evil place.

"Got a job to do Doris, and its a job that needs done end of discussion."

"You are a fool Gilbert, a damned fool, that wood almost killed you a couple times and here you are. Do you even have a picture of this dead woman? You know she's dead, they all have to be." Gilbert showed her a picture Kathy Henson was written on the back.

"We all have jobs in life Doris, this one is mine."

"Then you do it alone, leave Clarissa here, she can continue the business when whatever is up there kills you."

"I can make my own decisions." Doris looked at Clarissa with anger, and then pulled out a photo album from underneath the counter. She flipped through pictures that looked as old as civil war photography to more recent modern day shots.

"Over a hundred people that we know of have gone into those woods and never came back Clarissa, what's there is not meant to be disturbed, its not meant to be bothered, it just is, leave it where it is."

"You make your own choices Clarissa, I'm going, you don't have to." Clarissa looked over the pictures, most of them were adults, but some were children young looking children at that.

"I'm going."

"Screw both of you, I will not mourn you." Doris slammed the album shut and stomped back into the office.

"Let her go Clarissa, we got a long drive ahead of us."

"Don't we need to get gear or anything?"

"We'll get some warm coats from the house, everything else ain't worth a damn in them woods."

Friday, November 3, 2017

Courting Disaster

42.

"I think we're done here." It had been hours, Gilbert was tired, the man in the suit was tired, and they were getting no where.

"Is that to say I can leave?" The man stared for a minute and then the door opened.

"Free man, but do please try and avoid future wars with the god damn fae courts." Gilbert stood up his legs creaking from sitting.

"No promises." Outside the door Clarissa was waiting, she had there stuff from when they'd been arrested. Gilbert didn't say anything though clearly Clarissa wanted to talk, he waited until they'd gotten into the van and were down the road from the military base before he said anything.

"So you want to know what happened?"

"Yeah I'm so confused, I mean I told them everything I know and I don't know anything, how did we start a war with the autumn court?"

"Well we didn't, summer and autumn are already at war, as are winter and spring, we just kind of stepped in one through deception."

"Who deceived us?"

"Pretty sure it was god damn everyone on this one."

****

Arrows were stuck near the ground. The autumn ambush had been almost picture perfect, most of the escort was dead, Gilbert, Rolo, and Clarissa were crouched behind the shields of the fallen hoping to survive. Rolo was more than a little upset.

"YOU SET THIS UP!"

"Yes Rolo I arranged for you to carry us through this specific passage in the fae on the way to my office so I could die to your enemies, it was my brilliant plan to die to the court of autumn." The arrows stopped, that scared Gilbert more than anything, when your enemies aren't showing you where they are, they become unpredictable.

"Man, you can leave, we only want Rolo." It was some kind of gutteral creature, the word barely intelligible.

"Nice knowing you Rolo." Rolo grabbed Gilbert by the arm his eyes desperate.

"You can't leave me here, you don't know what they'll do to me."

"Kill you probably, but I don't know what you want me to do about it, I'm unarmed, Clarissa is unarmed, and we aren't anywhere near the office, we're in the fae."

"I can rip us out of the fae, I don't know where we'll be, but it'll be a far sight better than here." Gilbert smiled, he figured Rolo had a way out he wasn't using.

"Do it."

****

"And so as you know we wound up in a military base and may have inadvertently caused a minor scuffle with the court of autumn and the US government."

"No I got that, I'm still confused how Doris fits into this."

"We're about to find out."

It took Gilbert a few hours to drive from the military base back to his office. All told they'd been gone over a day and a half from when they were supposed to be back in a few hours. Gilbert was expecting to find his office in disarray or at the very least Doris upset. He was mildly perturbed when he came in to find her watching tv at her desk.

"Oh Janice you can do so much better than Jerome."

"Doris! We've been gone over a god damned day and this is where I find you just watching tv at your desk which I told you to specifically not to do." Doris just rolled her eyes.

"You guys are always over due or late, I swear Gilbert I'm not going to get the national guard every time you get lost in the woods." Gilbert was beyond angry but Clarissa couldn't help but laugh.

"Doris we were kidnapped by elves of the summer court who told me quite a tale about you! Are you an elf?"

"Yeah? I listed other on race when I submitted my job application, you never asked I figured you knew."

"This whole time?"

"Why do you think I wear my hair like I do? have to cover my ears, people always making jokes, it gets very tiresome." Gilbert had to sit down in one of the chairs in the lobby, he was just so overwhelmed by the situation in general.

"I think it's cool you're an elf Doris," Clarissa spoke up while Gilbert collected his thoughts.

"Thank you dear, so what did the Summer Court want anyway?"

"They accused you of being a traitor, that you sold them out to the autumn court." Clarissa had stepped up while Gilbert just held his head in his hands.

"Probably Queen Lustria right? She's the real traitor, probably arranged the whole thing to kill Rolo my half brother."

"Yeah he almost got killed in an ambush!"

"Well there you go, need to talk to Rolo, guy always was a headstrong fool, well I'm glad you guys are ok, well mostly Gilbert looks a little green under the gills, might want to take him home."

"That's an excellent idea, I need to rest, take some time, stop watching god damn tv though Doris I mean it." Doris rolled her eyes again, waited till Gilbert and Clarissa had gotten back into the van and then went back to her program.

"Janice! Don't you tell me you are having Jeromes baby!"

Friday, October 27, 2017

Prison of Summer Court

41.

"What is the prison of the Summer Court like?" Gilbert inhaled deeply, he hated debriefs, hated them even more when he was potentially facing charges by the government. He knew Clarissa was talking, told her it would be fine to do so, but it meant the government man probably knew more than Gilbert would like them to know. Especially about Doris and her royal connections.

"Summer Court doesn't believe in prison ordinarily, so it wasn't like bars and stuff."

"How progressive."

"They ordinarily torture and then execute people." The government man frowned.

"Decidedly less progressive, so they tortured you."

"Extensively." The man noted something on his pad.

"You don't look like you were physically assaulted?"

"Mental torture is what the elves excell at."

"Loud music? Games with your food? Help me out here Mr. Dunkley."

"Mostly they talk at you until you want to kill yourself."

****

"We can probably just visit the office and get him there." Rolo had followed Clarissa and Gilbert to their "Cell" a very nice looking sitting room. If not for the guards with weapons Gilbert felt it would be pretty comfortable. They had been talking for hours, Gilbert's voice felt hoarse from all the talking, Rolo invigorated by it

"Her she goes by Doris now and I'd appreciate you recognizing that." Rolo sneered.

"Humans are so temperamental, still what's to stop us from going there right now?"

"What's stopping you? Probably fear, you know how long I been doing what I do, you know the kind of things I'd put to keep you out to keep myself safe, yeah you could just walk right in there, but you wouldn't be walking right back out and you know that." Rolo smiled now.

"Or your bluffing us now."

"One way to find out."

"And that would be?"

"Take us to the office." Clarissa didn't want to interrupt, she could sense the tension in the air.

"So then you can spring your trap instead of us just walking into it." Gilbert leaned back and threw his hands up.

"Or don't man, leave us here annoyed for all eternity."

****

"So you negotiated your release with the summer court to set up an ambush with the fall court?"

"No."

"Than your secretary Doris set up the ambush with the autumn court?"

"No."

"Well how did the ambush happen?"

"Mistakes were made."

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Court of Summer

40.

Gilbert and Clarissa were lead through fire and into a room of glass. Clarissa hesitated at the portal of flame, but the sharp end of a spear from their captors pushed her through. The court of Summer was so beautiful it defied description. The glass was alive it seemed, pulsing with an inner flame. There were all sorts of creatures that Clarissa didn't have names for, noted among them were the elves though, they seemed to be in charge based on clothing and position relative to others. They were lead from the opening area to a throne room, seated at the front was a large elven lady. She was oppulently lounging her rolls of fat on open display. Almost naked aside from strategic clothing.

"My Liege I present to you Gilbert Dunkley and hmm don't think I got your name miss."

"Clarissa Shipley my liege." When she said my liege Rolo choked on a laugh. the Queen herself smiled at her stammering reply.

"So eager to serve Ms Shipley? In due time, in due time, but for now you can call me Queen Lustria." Gilbert said something under his breath and got a sharp rebuke from the spearman behind him.

"Something to add Gilbert?" Rolo had a smile on his face.

"Yeah I said bullshit, I'll call no elven lady from the summer court or any court my queen." This brought another strike from the spearman behind him, but the queen held up her hand.

"So proud Gilbert, so proud and strong, you worked for us once now you hold us with such contempt?"

"Not contempt, I bow for no one, honor no royalty."

"And isn't very polite either." Rolo added with a smirk.

"Brave strong Gilbert Dunkley last of his line, you do not have to kneel to me, or honor me," Lustria rose up off her thrown, her gluttonous body gleamed in the fire glass. "But you will respect me in my court or I'll have you flayed alive for my amusement, now to your association with a traitor to this court." Gilbert looked to Clarissa and Clarissa back at him.

"We just took a job from the dragon to kill a troll it wasn't like a long term association." Clarissa assumed it had to be the dragon that had offended the queen, but instead she laughed, she just laughed and laughed.

"Dragon? On my court? That would be the day, no my dear not your association with one of the low creatures of earth that is a dragon, I'm talking of Gilbert continuing to employ Prince Ilon."

"Doris? You are telling me Doris is a prince of your court?"

"Not just a prince, but a traitor to this court!" Gilbert steeled himself, Clarissa saw him stand straight and stare at the Queen.

"I hope your fires are hot, I'm not turning on Doris."

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fairly Warfare

39.

"Did you knowingly or unknowingly start a war with the court of autumn?" The man was in a suit, he had a piece of paper in front of him that had all sorts of scary words about treason and aiding the enemy of the united states. Gilbert just sighed, he'd been in this room before, been in this kind of interview before, he'd been on both sides of the table, but now seeing the man in his suit and the military MP's behind him with rifles he felt very old and tired.

"Well with unknowingly in there I can't really answer that now can I?" Now it was the man in the suits turn to sigh.

***

"I don't know, I didn't know then, and I don't know now, am I being detained?" For Clarissa this was all new, the man in the suit, the men with guns. She didn't know what to feel, ever since they'd been marched out of Gilbert's office in shackles with armed guards she'd felt things had taken a decided turn for the worse.

"Ms. Shipley do you understand the kind of trouble you're in?"

"I have no idea."

"Ok, lets just take it from the top, you said you and Gilbert were being chased by a 'Gravoboom' is that correct?"

"Well that's what Gilbert called it, I really don't know if that's correct or not." The man sighed again.

"Ok why don't you just take it back to the encounter with the fire creature..."

****
"I'm just confused."

"Yeah me too I thought Lord of the Rings was just a movie." The Gravoboom had pursued them through most of the forest, never attacking, just menacing and seemingly pushing them away from the van and deeper into the charred forest. They were currently hiding out in a small grove of trees that had managed to avoid being burnt down.

"No not that, only time I've run across one of these when I did some work for the court of summer, and it was just a kept creature not something out and about."

"Court of summer?" Clarissa felt more confused than normal.

"One of the Courts in the fae, they are broken up by season, made up of elves, fairies the whole bit."

"Its like all the things I dreamed about as a little girl come to life."

"Except you don't want anything to do with the courts, believe me the one time I dealt with the court of summer it was.... shit." Gilbert turned around and noticed they had been surrounded. It was mainly an elven force, armed with spears and bows.

"You don't write, you don't call, Gilbert I'm beginning to think you don't like us very much." The lead elf who spoke looked like a fashion model to Clarissa, like he'd been plucked straight from a romance cover.

"Forgive me Rolo, I thought we were more of a fling." Clarissa was even more lost than usual, and that only got worse when they entered the Fae realms.

****

"So Gilbert willingly admitted to knowing the summer court and even worked for them?" The man in the suit seemed very excited by this Clarissa didn't think it was hidden knowledge.

"We work for anyone who pays is what I always assumed."

"Noted, now please continue and tell us about your time in the fae."

"Ok well see it was like the care bears..."

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Importance of Being Right

38.

"I couldn't tell you what was in it, tasted all right going down, burned like a fire coming out, but oddly enough it worked. When I came out of the bathroom I was a changed man." Gilbert and Clarissa were walking through the remains of a burnt forest. They were wearing respirators because the wild fire was close enough a bad change of the winds would potentially be dangerous with the smoke, but Gilbert had been assured by the fireman that was a rare possibility.

"So did you thank the good reverend for curing you?"

"Oh god no I threatened to kill him the next time he showed up at home."

"That's not very nice."

"Trust me after what he put me threw, killing him would have been a mercy, how did your time with Sylvia play out?"

"It was fineish, we killed some werechickens and then a gargoyle." They were picking through the embers looking for fire sprites, when Gilbert had told Clarissa about the job she kept laughing at the idea of fire sprites despite him telling her they weren't a laughing matter.

"Gargoyle? So did you use stone poison."

"Nope."

"Heart of a harpy?"

"No."

"Crush it in a car crusher? Did that once it was horrific and yet oddly satisfying." Clarissa sighed.

"No, I shot it through the eyes and then the mouth, Sylvia had basically left me to die beforehand."

"Ahh so that's why you were so quiet about it, see you assumed my dislike of Sylvia was related to her reminding me of my wife or just general orneriness and you wouldn't be wrong to an extent, but its also that woman only look out for herself, always has, always will."

"So you told me so."

"If you want to hear it that way, yes I told you so." Clarissa stomped off and Gilbert didn't follow, he knew she couldn't get into too much trouble against fire sprites, and she eventually would calm down. Gilbert started to wonder if the fire jumpers who had reported the sprites were merely suffering from smoke induced hallucinations. He hadn't seen any of the normal indicators of the little buggers, and the longer he stayed in the charred forest he worried about what he was breathing in even with the mask.

"GILBERT!"

"Yeah?"

"What do Fire Sprites look like?"

"Small like a keebler elf."

"So not the size of a tree and bathed in flame?" Gilbert felt the hairs stand up the back of his neck.

"No that's not a fire sprite."

"Then I think we should run Gilbert."

"I like that plan, I like that plan a lot." And so the exterminators fled in the charred forest, and the Gravoboom followed shortly thereafter.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Gargirls

37.

"You must repent brother Gilbert repent and your sins will be clean." Gilbert's insides felt like they were being torn up by razor blades, the soup had been delicious, the aftermath agony. Made worse by Reverend Clarence taking his moments on the toilet to preach at him.

"You're lucky I didn't bring a gun in here with me Clarence I'd shoot you."

****

"Ok so this looks bad, and it is bad." Clarissa and Sylvia were trapped in a barn, the Gargoyle was outside, it hadn't crossed into the barn yet, but Sylvia knew it was only a matter of time.

"So what's the solution? How do we kill a gargoyle." Clarissa was beginning to see what the issue Gilbert had with Sylvia.

"Sunlight is mostly the way you kill one."

"The sun just went down!"

"Yeah that's why we are in this barn for the time being." There was a breaking of boards from the roof, the gargoyle was finding out a way in. Which would be all of smashing its way into the barn, but it was struggling to figure that out for some reason.

"Can't we just shoot it a lot?" Sylvia laughed, and another board broke.

"Bullets won't do much to a gargoyle, your arrows even less. Their skins is hard as rock." Another board smashed through and the gargoyle did too. The creature which Clarissa hadn't seen much before they'd ran, it was easily over nine feet tall with large leathery wings that it had fully extended to make it look even more massive. Sylvia had already ran, Clarissa heard her say something behind her and fled. Clarissa was just in awe of the creature, even as it flexed its muscles and roared at her. Clarissa slotted two of her arrows and let them fly. They found their mark right in the creatures blood red eyes. Suddenly it went from roaring in defiance to wildly smashing around in pain. Clarissa knew the barn was not long for this world and she made a hasty retreat as the thrashing creature brought the barn down on itself.

"What did you do?" Sylvia was outside she had been running prior to Clarissa just emerging unscathed.

"Skin is rock hard, eyes aren't, and he's got nice and big ones."

"You know that its not dead right?" Just as Sylvia said that the Gargoyle emerged smashing from the ruins. The arrows partially broken were still lodged in its eyes. Clarissa was unphased, the garoyle roared again and this time Clarissa fired arrows right into its open mouth, three shots in the Gargoyle slumped to the ground dying. Clarissa took up one more arrow and shot it through its eye again and the creature stopped moving.

"I just thought of in jaws where Roy Schneider shot the air tank, I figured mouth/throat couldn't be armored." Sylvia had no words, she'd never seen someone just stare a creature down like that. Sinaa itself was impressed.

"You've got ice water in your veins."

"Can we just go home now, I think I've had enough of were chickens and gargoyles."

"Fair enough Clarissa, fair enough."

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Were Chicken Issue

35.

"Oh no Candice don't let Ray do that to you have some respect girl." Gilbert was three hours in to watching day time TV. He could already feel his sanity fading. He imagined this was how people wound up in homes, just watching garbage tv until the men in white jackets picked you up and carry you off to where people went to die. He was saved from his fate by a knock at the door. Gilbert was surprised to see Clarence there waiting for him with a bowl in his hands.

"Brother Gilbert you're looking mighty under the weather."

"I knew I was bad off, I didn't know I was see a priest bad off."

"Not at all good brother not at all, not here for god business, I'm here to get you better!" Timms invited himself in and put the bowl down on the kitchen table.

"You have some kind of make people feel better ability?"

"Soup, not just any soup, spicy chicken soup, this is the stuff of legend Gilbert, I've seen this stuff put such a fire in someone as to almost wake the dead." Gilbert looked at the soup skeptically.

"Ok well I do like spicy things." A statement Gilbert would come to regret many hours later.

****

"When you said were chickens I guess I was confused as to what they actually were." It was getting toward dusk, the farm they had traveled to was out near the Canadian boarder north of Spokane. Mostly just arid farmland with the occaisional cow. What Clarissa saw on top of a hill looked like ostriches with fangs.

"What did you expect? Small chickens that look like wolves?"

"Kind of." Sylvia laughed.

"Yeah were just means weird, people just thought it meant some kind of lycanthrophy because people are idiots, just like a la mode really meant the fashion at the time, not specifically ice cream on top of pie."

"Is that true?"

"Sure." Sylvia racked her rifle and took aim at the first were chicken, she had been told there were at least three, but could only see the one.

"So what's the plan here again?"

"I shoot the lead one here, when the other two show up we kill them too, go for body shots, the head is too small to hit with an arrow especially if they are moving."

"And the silver will work?"

"It better god damn work I paid a pretty penny for it." Clarissa didn't have Sylvia's confidence in the silver tipped arrow, but she figured if Sylvia god powered or not had managed to live as long as she had, she probably knew what she was doing. The first shot did indeed bring the other were chickens, there were four of them on top of the dead one, which seemed like the farmer had either miscounted or did not know the full amount. It didn't ultimately matter, the ground and weaponry won the day for Sylvia and Clarissa.

"Should we drain the bodies? Were chicken blood is useful."

"It is? I have just always let them rot in the di..." There was an awful screech that stopped Sylvia dead in her tracks.

"Were chicken?"

"Nope that's a gargoyle, and we're a little far from the car."

"That's bad?"

"Real bad."

"Shit."

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sick Day

34.

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

"I make my own decisions."

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

"No No this will not do."

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

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

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

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

"Just a second let me get my wallet."

"Not feeeelllllllling well?"

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

"What are we after again?"

"Were chickens."

"You're joking?"

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sympathy for Poor Queequeg

33.

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

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

"I was thinking."

"About how to kill the Kraken?"

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

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

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

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

"Why is that racist?"

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

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

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

"Watched the movie."

"Gregory Peck?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How much is he fining you for?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Least the weather is nice, poker?"

Friday, September 1, 2017

Aunt Mable's Slapdash Stu

32.

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

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

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

"What? Are you cooking?"

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

"NOW OR NEVER GILBERT!"

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

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

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

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

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

"We have to get out of here."

"Who's left?"

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

"Who's left you selfish prick?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

Full Ahead, The White Whale Nears

31.

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

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

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

"You guys were there?"

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

"Thousand probably."

"Yes Janice I'm old thank you."

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

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

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

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

"That's disgusting."

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

"Aye aye Starbuck, anything for the captain."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"So what are we looking for again?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Undead?"

"Yeah."

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

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

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

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

"But they are assholes Gilbert."

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

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

"Sure that's the plan."

"You don't sound convinced."

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

"The Kraken."

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

"Got it."

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Time to get Kraken

30.

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

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

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

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

"Well we kill monsters, so that."

"So helpful Gilbert." He smiled.

"How's the shoulder by the way?"

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

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

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

"Janice, its nice to see you."

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

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

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

"Bit of both." Janice laughed.

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

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

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

"You heard about the missing ferry right?"

"Nope." Janice frowned.

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

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

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

"No bodies?"

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

"Well now I know why General Joe called."

"He thinks its the same one."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What the hell is all that?"

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

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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bad Idea from the latin Badus Ideaus

29.

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

"What are you doing here Clarrisa?"

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

"Making it rain?"

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

"What is that?"

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

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

"Gilbert."

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

"You're welcome Gilbert."

"So Doris sent you I take it."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And you complain about my catchphrases."

****

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

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

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

"Probably should get that looked into."

"Yeah do you know a guy?"

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

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

"Some of us sooner than others."

Friday, August 4, 2017

What She Needs She Can't Have

28.

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

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

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


"Gilbert."

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

"You weren't."

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You're going to hurt yourself Clarissa."

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

****

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

You're Just Hearing the Shot

27.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

"I figured as much."

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bad Day Off

26.

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

"Something like that."

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

"Did they even give you a choice?"

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

"She looks pretty bad Gilbert."

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

"You calling Clarence?"

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

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

****

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

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

"She is reverend."

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

"At least three."

"At least?"

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

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

"Address of where my van is at."

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

"Intact if possible."

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

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

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

"She'll be just fine Gilbert."

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

"So about a rai..."

"No."

"Worth a shot."

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Shipley Situation

25.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What about our legitimate customers?"

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

"Where is Clarissa today anyway?"

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

"I never get days..."

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"As if Pruitt actually does the job."

"Gilbert."

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

"Can I..."

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

Friday, July 7, 2017

Ursal Negotiations

24.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And I should listen to you why?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That was an Ursa!"

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

"Should have let it eat you Gilbert."

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

"Home please."

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

"HOME NOW."

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

Friday, June 30, 2017

Chief Don'tCare

23.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You're firm on this."

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

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

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

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

"So this ursa."

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

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

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

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

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

"Well thanks for the no assistance."

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

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

"What do we do Gilbert?"

"Plan B."

"Which is?"

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

Friday, June 23, 2017

Unhappy Camper

22.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What is that?"

"An Ursa."

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

"Or its not."

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

"Ted Brightwater."

"Brightwater? What happened to Ted Salmon?"

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

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

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

"So speaking of real trouble."

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

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

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

"Ursa." More silence.

"Where?"

"Montana just outside of Great Falls."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Will that do anything?"

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

Montana Squatching

21.

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

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

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

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

"Doris how many sasquatch jobs have I taken?"

"By my count two hundred and forty seven."

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

"Twenty four."

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

"It's a sqautch Gilbert."

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

"You think its a bear?"

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

"And if its a squatch?"

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

"You can talk to them?"

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

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

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

****

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

"That was awkward."

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

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

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

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

"Not sold put it up for pawn really."

"You have the nicest ways of explaining stuff."

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

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

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

"Private property exterminator man."

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

"And why would I do that?"

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

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

"Why are you at my clients place?"

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

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

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

"So we're going home?"

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