Pest Control, Part 3

Pest Control, Part 3

I don’t know how far down the line I am right now, so I gotta stop and check myself. I have this LED flashlight thing and it’s plenty bright, but I always get a little nervous when I turn it on, y’know? Like, I’m not sure what I’ll see. I ain’t ever had nothin’ jump out at me, or be waiting in the dark for the right moment, but it always makes me nervous.

So I turn on the light and there’s nothing there. It’s just a narrow little tunnel that goes up over my head in a dome shape, like round tunnels do, and there’s a bunch of crap-water in the bottom. I don’t look at it – not if I can help it. And there’s probably rats down here somewhere too, but they won’t be around the skeeters. Skeeters drive most things off. Since I don’t see any rats or whatever, and I don’t wanna see the bumpy brown fish, I just keep my eyes on my gear.

The light’s just so I can get my map on. It’s like one of those things you read books on, ‘cept I can use it in the dark. It’s got a map of the tunnels and if I’m careful and pay attention, I can follow ‘em pretty well with it. I get my bearings and then turn it back off, and make sure the light’s in reach. I don’t know why. I always like to have it in reach though.

Back in the day, when there weren’t as many of ‘em around, killin’ skeeters was done by people like the CDC. They’d send some goobers out with their white anti-viral suits and stuff, and they’d go muckin’ around in the shit water ‘til they find the nest. Always big fun when a news crew found out about it, too, ‘cause they’d want to go into the tunnels too. At first it was funny to see how their faces get so weird when they realize what’s up down here. But then, some chick bought it on camera when the skeeters went nuts and they don’t let ‘em down here anymore. Matter of fact, they started hiring guys like us ‘cause we can be “discreet.” You know, nobody pays attention to some schlub like me. But some hard-body bottle-blond with silicone tits and botox lips gets ripped up, well…time to shut off the TV, know what I mean?

So here I am and I’m close. If the intell’s right, I mean. Sometimes we don’t get good info on where we’re s’posed to go to find ‘em and then it’s a turd hunt. But I don’t want to take any chances, so I’m grabbing my FLIR and turn it on. It takes a couple of minutes, but when it’s warmed up it’s a big help findin’ skeeters in the tubes.

See, like I toldja before, this is a virus thing. And like most viruses – least, that’s what the CDC says – it causes fever. So even after the host is pretty much gone and there’s only the virus trying to spread itself, the body it’s usin’ is toasty warm and shows up nice on the FLIR.

That’s another reason the creepy-ass suckers come down here. It’s cool, but not cold, and they get out of the light. There’s something called “photosensitivity” they get as part of the virus, and their eyes are real sensitive to sunshine and whatnot. Bright lights make ‘em nuts. So one way to keep skeeters off ya is to blind ‘em with bright lights and move away. Mostly it works.

Mostly.

Problem is, lots of times they panic when you blaze ‘em. When the charges go off, they wake up. By then, ‘course, it’s too late, but sometimes – and not often, but every once in a while now – they wake up while you’re plantin’ the charges. The charges are little fire-bomb things that you direct at the nest. Then you gotta go under or around the nest to the other side and make sure there’s enough charges on both sides. Otherwise, they get away. Just one skeeter gettin’ away can cause a new infestation somewhere else, so you have to get ‘em all.

I ain’t never had a nest wake up on me, but my buddy Turk did. Turk – everybody knew Turk after he started exterminating, but I knew him all my life. We went to school together, got high together, got drunk together, even lost our cherries the same night on a double date. We were tight, man. And he worked for the CDC back when the shit first started, but when it started gettin’ outta hand, he went private. But he kept his CDC suit.

One day Turk was chargin’ a nest over in Dunston. Got everything all set, but when he tried to get back to the front side of the nest – you know, where he came in, so he could go out the same way he got in? – one of the skeeters woke up. Musta smelled him or something. It went nuts down there and woke up a whole bunch more of ‘em.

Turk tried runnin’ but they tore a hole in his suit, and ‘fore long he was just buried. I heard when they found ‘im there wasn’t much left. They had to burn his corpse real quick though, so he didn’t turn. The infection can spread even if you died after exposure. I guess they didn’t want to take a chance, so they cremated him same day.

I never did get to say good-bye to him.

And then that TV reporter chick. That wasn’t pretty, I heard.

I try not to think about stuff like that ‘cause it can give ya the yips, y’know? This is sorta all I have going for me right now in life, so I can’t get the yips.

Anyway, I’m startin’ to pick something up on the FLIR now. Just a brighter spot on the screen, but I’ve seen it before. I know what it is.

Showtime, I guess.

Pest Control, Part 2

Think of me as the Orkin man for bloodsuckers. We don’t call ‘em bloodsuckers, though. They ain’t that dignified, not when you see ‘em like I do. We call ‘em fleas, or skeeters. They’re like that, kinda. Like fleas or mosquitoes. Or maybe spiders. Yeah, you can think of ‘em as spiders.

I’m in a pipe now. It took a long time to get the damned grate off, ‘course. That’s why the friggin’ things do this in the first place. It’s hard to spot ‘em down here. They get dark all the time, they can hear ya comin’, and with the grates and stuff it’s hard to find ‘em. Miles of tunnel, too, so it’s easy to get lost.

‘Course, they can get lost too, and sometimes do. They die if they don’t eat a little every night, so if they get lost it’s either come up or starve. They ain’t too bright though, so mostly they die.

I can’t remember who figured out the sewers. Might’ve been an accident. You know, some poor bastard stumbled on ‘em, maybe. I don’t know, it’s been a while.

The goo in the bottom of the tube ain’t nice. I had to start puttin’ menthol crap under my nose to keep from gaggin’ over the smells. You get used to it, I guess, but I sure can’t figure how the fleas live in it all the time.

My hip waders almost always keep the stuff in the bottom of the tube off me. I don’t know what to call it. But I’m in a sewer, so you can guess what it is.

Municipalities and such hire us when they get hit. I don’t know why they always wait until they get hit, but hey, a paycheck’s a paycheck, right? I don’t ask questions. But they always wait. Nobody hires us to go in and check before somebody gets killed, or it’s a damned infestation like roaches. Then it’s an emergency. Too bad for the victims, but bonus for us. We get paid emergency rates, and that’s why I keep doin’ this shit.

It’s stinky, shitty work and someone’s gotta do it. I ain’t squeamish and like I said, I don’t mind the tunnels, so I put on my waders and mask, my gloves and slicker, and hi-ho, hi-ho, shit diving I do go.

Lucky frickin’ me, right?