Short Stories

"The Finer Points of Pest Control"

Sam sat in his car outside of Rid-A-Pest Extermination and cursed his parents for making him get a summer job.  All of his friends were spending their summer at the beach, while he was forced to learn “the finer points of pest control.”  He waited in his car as long as possible before slumping his way to the main entrance.

The receptionist who sat behind the glass partition filing her nails jumped a little when Sam approached.

“Oh, hi ‘ya, honey.  What can I do for you?” she asked, smacking her gum.

“I’m the new exterminator assistant…” he replied grimly.

“Right-o.  Let me buzz you back,” she said as she reached for the button hidden under her desk.  As Sam pushed open the metal door, he heard her call after him, “Good luck, hon’!”
 The door sealed shut behind him, and the temperature dropped twenty degrees as Sam walked down the corridor to the equipment room.

“You’re late, mister.  You can’t be late,” Ray, the Chief Extermination Technician, growled as Sam wandered in.  “There’s your locker.  Get suited up.  And make it quick--we gotta roll.” 

Sam kicked off his sneakers and tugged on the protective suit.  The duty-belt clanked loudly as he clasped it around his waist.  The regulation boots made walking difficult, but Ray said they were mandatory because of the powerful chemicals they had to use in their line of work.
Sam ambled awkwardly after Ray as he headed for the truck. 

Safety First or First Aid Later, the sign over the exit dock reminded them.

Once inside the truck, Ray seemed to settle into his role as mentor.

“The thing is, son, you gotta think like they do.  You gotta outwit them.  You can’t let your guard down for a minute or the whole thing’ll go south before you know it.  And you can’t jack around with the chemicals, boy.  These compounds are some serious business…they’’ll burn your face off if you aren’t minding your Ps and Qs.”

Sam nodded his head and looked out the window.

“Now today, you just gotta watch and learn.  No one expects you to pick it all up in one day.  There is an art to this.  Do you hear me?  It’s a freakin’ art, son.  No question about it.  There are those who actually do the dirty work, and those who pay us to do it.  That’s how the world works.”

Sam nodded again.  “They seem to be getting thicker,” he said, nodding out the window.

Ray pulled over to the side of the road and sighed in agreement.  “Blasted vermin!  Where there’s one--a hundred more are hiding.” 

Sam cursed his parents again.  Stupid summer job! 

He watched as they kept coming, their unseeing eyes open, their faces blank, their mouths agape.  They poured out of the neighborhood and into the streets…surrounding their truck.
Ray smiled.  “Saddle up, son,” he said, turning off the engine.  “You’re in for a treat.  Imagine…freakin’ zombies your first day out!”