I Kill Monsters - Chapter 1
It's a dirty job. It's sloppy, brutal, bloody, and messy. You come home covered in dirt, caked in mud, and splattered with blood; if you're lucky, the blood isn't yours. You're bruised, beaten, bitten, and cut. You limp home, hoping for a quiet night home with whiskey and antibiotics. Few people know you do it, even fewer would thank you for it, and most would think you insane.
What do I do? I kill monsters.
And it's the one damn thing in my life that I love.
Someone might say that slaying the creatures that go bump in the night would be glamorous. Someone would suggest that stopping carnivorous beasts before they kill people would be respected. Someone might even say we're lauded as heroes.
Whoever told you that was lying.
There's no respect in this work. There's no fame and barely any money. You do this job out of a grim determination to do what must be done and hopefully some sort of an enjoyment of giving and receiving pain. You also need to be brave, reckless, and probably somewhat stupid.
I fit all three.
Thankfully, I don't do this alone. My older brother also hunts monsters with me. He's Mikkel and I'm Szandor. We're the Nowak Brothers. We kill monsters - and guess what? We're actually pretty damn good at it.
We're based in the American city of New Avalon. We got our foreign-sounding names from a deadbeat father I can't even remember seeing, but otherwise we're lifelong residents of the east side of Avalon - South Egan, to be exact. I'm twenty and Mikkel's twenty-two. It's been suggested that we're a little young for this violent life, but we can't help where we ended up and we're doing the best with what little we have to work with.
We don't work for a shadowy government agency with deep pockets and even deeper secrets. We're not associated with a weirdness-friendly police department. We don't have a security clearance. We're not backed by a major corporation with an interest in hidden creatures. We're not millionaire playboys with a dark need for justice. We don't have super powers, we're not from a family lineage of monster hunters, and we haven't been bestowed with any supernatural gifts... that we know of. We're just two guys who grew up on the poor side of town that run a website for people who need help.
When we're lucky, we actually even get paid for killing monsters. Those are my favorite jobs. They're also the rarest. Most of what we do is what Mikkel calls pro-bono, as if we're fancy lawyers and not two dudes carrying homemade weapons. You'd think that if you bashed enough zombie skulls, there'd be a paycheck at the end of it. Sadly, most of the time we risk our lives and spend our time for nothing but concerned looks and knowing that we saved a life. Other times... well, everybody fucks up sometimes, right?
I could sit here and tell you about how we faced down death, betrayal, an army of monsters, and everything going wrong - and I will. But I don't want you to get the illusion that our life is that dramatic and interesting on a regular basis. Instead, let me tell you about something more typical. Something more awkward and thankless. Let me tell you about the time Gertrude Ferguson sent us a message on our website.
Mrs. Ferguson was experiencing a problem with some kind of a serpent in her bathroom. She didn't know who to turn to and was afraid to take a bath for fear it would attack her or her cats. She needed help and didn't know who to call. She emailed us and we decided to step up.
I'll admit we did so reluctantly.
Even though we were well-versed in all the nuances and vague reports of monster investigation so that a "serpent" shouldn't have sounded fake to us, we had concerns with what we were being told. We knew Mrs. Ferguson from the old neighborhood - our mom used to talk with her when we walked by - so we didn't think she was a liar or pulling a prank. Still, we had questions. First off, she was like 80 million years old, so what the hell was she doing on the internet? Frankly, I was impressed that her emails weren't written in ALL CAPS. Second, a serpent in her apartment? How was she finding time to read our website? Why wasn't she, say, running in terror or just dead? I'm not going to just relax and hangout when there's a hostile reptile lurking in the sheets. If the monster ruled the bathroom, how was she pooping?
Ultimately, we half-assed this one. We didn't go in guns blazing or even taking it seriously. I went to check on Mrs. Ferguson alone. It ended up me because I was the unlucky one. Mikkel tried to tap out first by claiming he had plans with Vanessa. While I didn't have a hot date of my own to counter it, that's not how we work. I demanded a coin toss for who was going. I still lost. So while Mikkel romanced his flavor of the month, I was stuck visiting the Widow Ferguson.
Of course you're wondering why we were bothering - excuse me, why I was bothering. There were a few reasons. We've known Mrs. Ferguson since we were kids, so we weren't about to blow her off. We take all reports from the old neighborhood seriously - that's our main place for pro-bono work. But beyond sheer neighborhood loyalty, we had been getting odd reports from her block. Nothing huge, but a bunch of little things. A husband had gotten bitten in his kitchen by something no one had a good look at, an indoor cat was missing from a locked apartment, strange sounds were heard in the walls, and my personal favorite, dogs were growling at the trash bins in the alley. Individually, it all sounded like crap, but put them together and it seemed a little suspicious. We had actually gone to check out her building once already, but we had found nothing conclusive and we discovered nobody had gotten a look at whatever it was. We had kept the investigation open (i.e. we shrugged but didn't throw out an envelope we had scribbled a few notes on), but had no new leads before Mrs. Ferguson.
I showed up at the Widow Ferguson's apartment dressed for hunting. I was wearing combat boots, jeans, and a canvas jacket. I didn't bring my entire kit. I didn't think she needed me showing up with my full arsenal until there was a problem. I'd probably just scare her or she'd lecture me on how a proper young man should act. I carried only a sheathed machete on my belt and a short length of heavy metal pipe I liked to hit things with. I wanted to be respectful to Mrs. Ferguson - I had even cleaned most of the dirt off my boots before showing up.
When she opened the door, I expected her to launch into some sort of old person nostalgia banter like, "Oh, look at you, Szandor Nowak! I remember when you were so small that your mother needed to carry you up stairs, and look at you now, gutting malicious creatures with a machete and curb stomping zombie brains!" But there was none of that. This wasn't the same woman I had seen in happier circumstances. Her eyes were haunted and her jaw was tight. She was afraid. It's the type of look that makes you start taking everything very seriously.
The only comment she made was that I smelled like cigarettes. I ignored it and stepped inside.
The apartment was the size of a postage stamp, and not like a fancy Forever Stamp or the commemorative ones, I mean the old tiny ones with the frayed edges. I had grown up in a small apartment, but this one was somehow tinier due to all the furniture stuffed into it, probably collected over many years. Or maybe not that many years, since the way it was decorated it seemed like it was in a stasis bubble. Somehow this apartment had frozen in the 1970s and had never progressed. The shag carpet, the corduroy couch, and the peeling avocado green wallpaper all gave me a sense of vertigo, like déjà vu for a decade I wasn't even alive for.
She half-heartedly suggested making me tea, but I shook my head. Business first, tea never. "Mrs. Ferguson, just tell me about the serpent." Serpent was the word she had used. I doubted it was actually a serpent, but I wanted her to open up, not feel like I was telling her she was wrong. She was already probably having second thoughts.
Sighing heavily, Mrs. Ferguson practically collapsed into an armchair. A gray longhair cat instantly materialized and jumped into her lap, rubbing up against her hand.
"I don't know what to do," she began, starting a speech I had heard too many times. "It's a crazy thing. I mean, who would have believed that there actually are-" If I didn't stop her, she'd go on with this. People feel uncomfortable admitting they think they encountered a creature science doesn't acknowledge. So they have a long preamble of how they're not crazy or delusional, how they're not the sort of people to believe in these things, and that they've always been upright, logical, tax-paying citizens up until this moment, but they did see something. As much as I had some affection for this little old woman, listening to this tired speech again after she contacted us on our very explicit Yes Monsters Exist website would dull my mind and make my blood pressure spike.
"Mrs. Ferguson," I began firmly, "with all due respect, I've seen monsters before - you knew that already. You don't need to convince me. You don't need to justify to me that you're not crazy, nor do you need to convince yourself. You clearly believe it enough to have contacted me."
She sighed again, but nodded her head. I think a weight lifted from her, though she stared off at the walls, not at me.
"So what did it look like?" I prompted.
"It was scaly." Then she trailed off.
"Okay, what else?" I reached into my pocket to pull out a torn piece of paper and a pen. I clicked the pen open.
"That's all I remember. It was so quick. I was turned the other way but I heard a hiss behind me. The cats sometimes fight, so I didn't think much of it. But then Gypsum ran into the room and I heard her make a growl that she doesn't usually make." She tried to make the awkward cat growl herself, but I motioned for her to continue. "I thought there was a problem, so I turned my head. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dark flash of something. I remember scales. And that it was a serpent. For some reason I remember that."
"So you barely saw it at all?" I clicked the pen closed, trying very poorly to hide the dismay in my voice.
"Right. Gypsum saw it, though," she replied, nodding to the cat in her lap. "I don't think Shecky did."
"And that's the only time you saw it?"
I scratched the back of my head. There wasn't really a lot here. I came out here for this?
"Have you had any strange occurrences before or since then?" I asked, trying to cover the bases. "Weird sounds? Strange marks? Anything unusual?"
"The super hasn't fixed anything in a long time," she said apologetically and I nodded. In South Egan, your superintendant was neglectful at best, in worst cases he was criminally negligent. "The pipes rumble when anyone else turns on the water, and the oven makes a pinging noise when it's on. But nothing new."
I paused and thought for a moment what might be useful, but came up with nothing. "What color were the scales?"
"Green? Gray? Something like that." She frowned. "I'm sorry I can't remember more. I'm not sure why I remember scales."
On these cold investigations, this is always a problem. Sometimes people have good information. Other times they have bad information - sometimes so bad it could be dangerous. I didn't think she was lying, but sometimes people think they saw something, then fixate on that fact so much that it becomes even more true in their minds. If she barely saw a dark shape and can't remember the color, how could she have seen enough detail to see scales? How did she know it was a serpent? It was possible, but I was beginning to wonder if maybe she just saw her cats up to strange antics or maybe there was a rat in the apartment.
I stood up and poked around the tiny apartment, looking behind furniture and keeping my ears open for out of the ordinary sounds. But besides an orange cat paw poking at my boot from under the couch, I didn't notice anything. Of course, she had so many little knickknacks and statuettes on everything, I didn't want to try moving anything for fear they'd fall off and break. I had never known my grandmothers, but I imagine their homes would have looked exactly like this.
"What room did you see it in?"
Mrs. Ferguson nodded to a closed door with one of those long pieces of stuffed fabric people use to block drafts at the bottom. "The bathroom," she said ominously. A light bulb went off in my head. This explained why she was sitting out here semi-relaxed and not sitting in the corner brandishing a frying pan. She kept the bathroom locked up tight.
"I guess I should check it out."
"Be careful," she said ominously again.
I moved toward the door slowly. I drew my machete and held it in front of me, in case something burst out at me. Okay, maybe her tone was starting to get to me. Then I had a sudden thought. "Are the cats accounted for?" The last thing I wanted was to go in there and mistake a cat defending its territory for a ravenous beast, leading to a bloody and tragic accident. I mean, I was holding a machete.
"No, they're out here." She was holding one cat in her lap and gazing at a long haired tabby that was eyeing me from under the coffee table.
I nodded. Alright, it was show time. With a quick step forward, I pushed the door open, machete held at the ready in my other hand.
The bathroom was empty of monsters.
Well, that wasn't the first thing I thought. The first thing I thought was, This is the pinkest bathroom known to man. Despite her color choices in the rest of the apartment, Mrs. Ferguson had let out her inner thirteen year old girl when decorating the bathroom. Pink shower curtain, pink rugs, pink wallpaper. It was a welcome relief from the Pepto-Bismol colored vertigo to see that the bathroom tiles that poked out from behind the closed shower curtain were an average white porcelain.
Looking left and right, I spotted nothing threatening. I stepped away from the door and it swung shut behind me. I opened the cabinet under the sink, but found mostly towels. Next I tactfully poked at the laundry basket, not wanting to see Mrs. Ferguson's unmentionables even accidentally. I checked the corners behind the toilet, but found nothing. The toilet was a generic white, though it had a furry seat cover that was pink.
Since those all seemed fine, that left just our old friend the mysteriously closed shower curtain. I'm not sure about you, but the only time I ever have the shower curtain closed is when I'm actually taking a shower. I'm sure some people like to put on good appearances for guests and close it when they exit, but it always makes me suspicious. Like, if I were just some average joe, I'd wonder if someone was hiding behind it or if there was a dead body in the tub. But in my line of work, I instead usually wonder if there is some horrible man-eating beast waiting to claw my eyes out as soon as I sit down on the toilet.
Some part of me considered just hacking away at the shower curtain with the machete. If there was a ravenous beast in here, the only place left for it was behind the shower curtain. I'd be a fool to not try and get the jump on it. But no, instead of hacking up Mrs. Ferguson's nauseatingly pink shower curtain, I slowly reached out. With two fingers, I delicately grabbed the edge of the curtain and with one quick motion I threw it open...
...and there was nothing hiding behind it. Despite all my worry, all I had done was reveal that Mrs. Ferguson really enjoyed scented bath products, that she didn't use a mesh filter to stop hair from going down the drain, and that one of the cats had dropped a dookie in the tub.
I let out the breath I was holding. Well, this was a waste of time. I sat down on the closed toilet and reflected on my evening. What I had I achieved? Nothing. I had found nothing at all. I guess I should have suspected this from the "serpent" report, but I had really hoped there was some real work here. Something to give a point to me coming here and meeting with Mrs. Ferguson. Instead, this was all just a waste. I pulled out my phone and called Mikkel.
"Don't tell me you're in trouble," said Mikkel in a hushed voice, probably walking away from the table his date sat at. "I'm this close to getting Vanessa home and I really don't want to bail because my brother can't handle a serpent. I would really rather have this date finish at home and serpent-free." Ladies and gentlemen, my brother.
"But frustration is the key to victory. Last time you fought with blue balls, you kicked ass. You were in the zone."
"That's because I was angry and frustrated," he replied, "not because I was in the zone."
"Maybe you need to be in the blue balls zone more often," I teased.
"Maybe you need to fuck off more often, Szandor."
"Are you sure the date is going well? You sound frustrated already."
"Do you need help?" snapped Mikkel, and I knew I had pushed my normally level-headed brother a little too far. "Because otherwise I have this beautiful girl here who I plan to regale with stories of me killing zombies and other manly acts."
"No." I didn't bother to hide the disappointment in my voice. "I think this trip is a bust. Mrs. Ferguson doesn't have a lot to tell me. I'm sitting here in the pinkest bathroom in the whole universe but I'm really not seeing any evidence of anything here."
"So no sea serpent in the tub?"
I turned my head to look at the tub and the cat poop therein. "No sea serpent there." I rubbed my eyes and wondered why I wasn't the one out with a hot girl. Instead I was sitting in a pink bathroom, a phone to my ear, and a machete across my lap.
"Eh, we knew it was a long shot," replied my brother, "but we gotta keep the neighborhood clean. We still don't know what's biting things."
If I hadn't been listening to Mikkel, I might have heard the faint scraping noise in the tub.
"You mean I gotta keep the neighborhood clean, your ass is trying to get laid," I hissed.
"Really, we're going to do this? I win the coin toss and now I'm suddenly not doing my fair share?"
"What about the zombies out in the Husks deli?" I snapped venomously, my fashionably punk haircut blocking peripheral vision of the thing that was in the tub.
"You're bringing that one up?" he replied incredulously. "I had been down in the tunnels, and I said I'd come help if you waited a bit. You decided to check it out on your own before I could get back. And It was like three zombies, that's nothing. Even if I had known, I would have figured you could handle three zombies."
"You forget I got bitten that time," I hissed, getting a little angry.
"Yeah, because you're never careful."
"Yeah, well, fuck you! And fuck -" and then I was suddenly interrupted by a very loud hiss. One that was definitely not a cat.
My head turned to look at the tub.
It wasn't exactly a sea serpent, but I could see how you might use that name for it. My first name for it would be Big Fucking Snake, but in the throes of panic is really not the best time to name a new species. It had a long thin snake body that rose five feet out of the tub drain. Its yellow eyes were staring right at me. It had gray-green scales and there was a foul stink in the air. A gaping mouth let out a prolonged hiss. The teeth were sharp, but the snake lacked the fangs that typically indicate a venomous snake. Now realizing that I had tangled with one of its kind in the past, I knew it didn't need venom to be dangerous.
Previous experience did not make up for my slow reaction time. With lightning speed, the snake lashed out at me. The creature's goal wasn't to bite me. As I sprung to my feet, it quickly wrapped itself around me. In a moment I felt coils tightening around my arms, trying to crush me.
Then it bit me.
Luckily for me, it was not familiar with human fashion. The snake had tried to sink its teeth into my shoulder, rather than my neck. My jacket took the brunt of the bite. It felt more bruising than piercing, so I knew the bite was shallow. Of course, the creature was still trying to crush me to death.
The machete had fallen to the floor, but even if I had been holding it, it wouldn't have mattered because my arms were pinned. The goddamn snake kept hissing in my ear too, as if trying to taunt me in a snake language I didn't understand.
Other men might have given into their fear. Other men might have given up. Other men might have said, "Welp, I've had a good life, nothing to be done." Other men might have tried to call out for help -expecting, what, 80+ year old Mrs. Ferguson to come in and do some kungfu? I was not any of those men.
I happened to be a reckless idiot who often chooses to get himself hurt.
Since I was still on my feet, I threw my body at the tile wall behind the tub, giving myself a jump to hopefully clear the lip of the tub. I didn't. I crunched into the tile wall with great force, just lower than I had hoped, breaking some of the tiles and wrenching my ankle. It all hurt like hell, but the important part was that I had also rammed a bunch of the snake's coils against those tiles. By hurting myself, I had also hurt it. That's how these things work, right? I had picked tile because I figured the regular drywall wouldn't harm it as much. I wanted maximum pain and of course maximum bruises for when I crawled into bed and regretted my life choices that night.
The constricting motion of the snake's coils faltered for a moment, but quickly resumed their near bone-breaking tightness. My enthusiasm for staying alive not fazed by the extreme pain, there was only one thing left to do. I threw myself into another wall of the shower. Tiles broke against my shoulder and I winced in acute pain. I was fairly certain I hadn't actually broken anything, but it still hurt like I might have.
However, this time the snake's grip on my body partially released. The coils loosened and I found I could move my arms. The first order of business was taking a deep breath and then getting armed. I bent forward, straining at the pull of the snake. With a grunt I reached out and grabbed at the machete that had fallen on the pink rug just outside the tub.
I'm not sure if the snake knew the significance of the machete or just didn't like losing control of the situation, but we started a desperate tug of war where I kept leaning forward to grab the machete and the creature kept pulling me backwards. Again and again, I reached forward, almost grabbing the machete handle, then the fucking snake pulled me back. Then I would again lunge, fingertips grazing the handle before I was yanked into the tub again.
Finally in what must have been herculean feat of strength if I do say so myself, I finally leaned forward and ripped myself from the snake's grip, all that resistance falling away. I scooped up the machete with my right hand and let out a triumphant roar.
The fight now switched gears. Rather than attacking, the snake was trying to beat a hasty retreat. I noticed its length shortening as it was slithering back down the drain.
"Oh no you don't!" I shouted. There was no way I was letting this one get away. I had paid for this kill in my own pain and also a decent amount of broken tile.
With my left hand I grabbed at the part of snake's body that was disappearing into the tub drain. Most learned people would tell you that snakes aren't slippery like some expect; snakes aren't slimy. They're actually more leathery. But when a snake has been travelling through the drainage system in a low income apartment building for weeks, it gets slippery to the touch and frankly pretty gross. So even with my hand around it, the snake was slipping through my grasp down the drain. All I was doing was slowing it down and getting my hand dirty.
It was time for a split second decision. Do I drop the machete so I could use both hands to try to pull the snake back up out of the drain, or do I hack wildly at the still visible part of the snake, hoping to actually hit its writhing body and do some serious damage? It was an easy decision. After the tug of war, I wasn't sure I was strong enough to pull it back up and that was even if it wasn't super slimy. Besides, I wasn't going to miss the chance to be proactive about hacking something to death.
Cursing, I slashed my machete at any part of the snake I could see, following it up with more swings whether I hit something or not. What followed was a succession of loud hits in the tub and against the tiles. Many of the tiles not already broken by my previous thrashing were now shattered. But I did hit the damn snake, resulting in blood splattering all over my face. I kept hacking. Blood gushed all over as I cleaved the machete down on any inch of snake I could, faltering only to keep from hitting myself.
Finally the creature stopped moving.
I was left in silence. My lungs heaved as I gasped for breath, pulling in the acrid odor of the blood that covered the tub and myself. I was crouched in the tub, one fist still tight around the snake and the other holding a machete that dripped with blood and pieces of snakeflesh. I noticed there was cat poop sticking out from under one of my boots. I kept breathing, trying to power through the adrenaline and shock.
I heard a small voice from across the room. "Szandor! Are you there?"
I looked around and then realized the source. I pulled my body forward and reached a dripping arm towards my phone which had fallen on the rug. Staining the pink rug with blood, I gently grabbed my phone. I discovered that Mikkel hadn't hung up when this all started.
"I'm here," I gasped, still out of breath.
"Good! After all that, I wasn't sure if you were going to answer or the monster was."
"Then you'd have to learn how to speak snake language and go hunting with it," I mused breathlessly.
"Barely breathing but still managing to be snarky. That's my brother. And it's called Parseltongue. So it was a snake?"
"Plumber's Snake." I reached in my jacket pocket for my cigarettes. I had finally gotten to breathing semi-normally so of course it was time to feed the addiction. I paused for a second wondering if I could smoke in Mrs. Ferguson's bathroom. Then I looked around at the broken tiles, the tub covered in blood, and the snake carcass at my feet and figured it wouldn't matter anymore. I lit up.
"Plumber's Snake? Shit, it's been a while since we saw one of those," Mikkel was saying.
We had tangled with Plumber's Snakes exactly twice before this. They were notably stealthy beasts, as you might guess from the fact this one was slithering through the drains. Plumber's Snake is obviously not its formal cryptozoological name. I'm not sure if it has one. I once asked Paulie about it, but other than the death worms of the Gobi, he hadn't heard anything remotely close to it. So we kept our initial off-the-cuff name of Plumber's Snake.
We named them that because they are very long, but unlike most snakes, they don't get thick when their length increases. So you might have a twenty foot snake that still has the diameter to slither through a narrow pipe, or in this case, aging apartment plumbing. I can't remember which one of us had the idea, but we noticed the similarity to the tool plumbers have, which is also a long cord used for removing blockages from drains. The name stuck and we haven't found anything better. Plumber's Snake.
"Well, it's dead now." I was enjoying the soothing feeling of my nicotine fix. "This bathroom is fucked and I'm covered in blood. It's half sticking out of the drain. I'm going to need that backup now."
"Shit, come on, man. Vanessa's..."
"You did just listen to my entire struggle with the fucking thing, didn't you?"
"So imagine the amount of blood and destruction for all of that. This place is a goddamn crime scene, and that's more than I can deal with. Get over here. We need the van."
* * *
Twenty minutes later Mikkel showed up with our cleanup bag and a change of clothes for me.
In the intervening time I had smoked a slow victory cigarette in silence and then had finally opened the door to explain to an agitated and bewildered Mrs. Ferguson what had happened. She was shocked, horrified, and finally angry at the state of her bathroom, but it's not like she could complain that I was a fraud. There was quite clearly a big and bloody snake carcass in her bathtub. It even had the green-gray scales she had described.
She shut her mouth in frustration and settled for yelling at me for smoking in her apartment. I conceded that point and put out what was left of the cigarette. She also demanded I get back in the tub until Mikkel showed up, so I wouldn't drip blood on anything. Anything else.
While she was clearly mad at me despite the life-or-death conflict I had in her pink bathroom on her behalf, she was quite friendly when Mikkel showed up. Of course the guy who cleans up is the hero, not the one who practically bathed in snake blood making her home safe for her and her cats.
Remember earlier when I said I wasn't at all interested in pulling the snake out of the drain? Turns out I ended up having to do that anyway. We needed to get the rest of its length out so Mrs. Ferguson could actually use the drain. And since I was already covered in snake blood, it made sense for me to stay in the tub and do it. I wasn't happy, since pulling a snake out of a drain isn't easy work. I didn't want to yank too hard for fear it might just sever at some point, leaving a length of snake in the pipes. So it required slow laborious pulling when my muscles already ached from a brutal struggle.
Once I had pulled out the entire snake, we stuffed it into a giant plastic bag we had on hand for this situation. We began hosing down all the blood in the tub, relying on the fact that we had a now-cleared drain. Finally Mikkel asked me to strip naked so he could hose me down. I gave him a withering look.
"Don't worry, I'm a doctor," he quipped.
"C'mon, I can shower at home," I said defensively.
"You c'mon! We need to not get blood anywhere else. You're showering here. I am your brother and I've seen you naked enough that I've suppressed my need to laugh."
"Fuck off." I reluctantly pulled off my clothes. "I can shower on my own, you can wait outside."
Mikkel shook his head as he grabbed the corded shower head. "I don't want to get the shower knobs and fixtures bloody. I'll wash you, Szandor, just like when we were kids and you were a helpless baby! Aww, wouldn't that be nice?"
Before I could lash out with a rebuttal that was suitably offended, he turned on the shower, the shower head pointed right at my crotch. It was ice cold.
"F-f-fuck you! Turn on the hot water!"
Mikkel laughed, but he turned the knob for hot water. I began to wonder what was so great about family.
Once I was properly hosed down, we performed the laborious work of scrubbing and bleaching all the blood we hadn't been able to wash down the drain. Even with masks, we were soon pretty high from bleach fumes. When that was all done, we stuffed all the cleaning supplies in black plastic bags. Then I could finally change into the clean clothes my brother had brought for me.
I carried the bags down to the van pretending it was trash while Mikkel stayed behind to debrief Mrs. Ferguson. I was too tired to care. I just wanted to get home and crawl into bed. Soon Mikkel came down to help. Together we carried the snake remains, the cleaning trash, and our gear into the van. My arms ached as we finally closed the van door. He patted me on the back, saying something supportive, inspirational, and tiredly clichéd. Once in the van, he drove while I practically dozed in the passenger seat, looking forward to sleep and waking up with some severe bruises.
We didn't get paid for that one.
Continued in I Kill Monsters - Available Now!