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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Outrunning the Storm

by Michele Dutcher
Against a Diamond

by Michele Dutcher
A Fisherman's Guide to Bottomdwellers

by Michele Dutcher
Louisville's Silent Guardians

by Michele Dutcher

What Great Service by Nate Kailhofer

by Michele Dutcher

He paused a long time, the phone pressed to his ear. “You have what you need removed? Uh, right... What’s your address?”

That's a bad neighborhood. Bad people.

“I’m in the middle of another service call,” Roddy lied, “but I’ll be there as soon as I can. Ok, I’ll see you then.”

He could really have been there in ten minutes, but that was as fast as he wanted to move for a call to that part of town.

“Don’t care if them bastards come after me. I ain’t rushing to help one of them ‘cause they got a critter in the house. Maybe if they’d gone with a regular builder instead of cheapin’ everythin’, they wouldn’t have this problem.”


Roddy stepped down from the cab of his dented, light-blue pickup and began to survey the scene. Older two story house, white painted fence, overgrown trees and a lot of wild-looking shrubbery. Plenty of room for pests to hide out. Roddy didn’t have a yard, just a hallway outside his apartment, but he convinced himself that was to keep from having a place for varmints to take residence.

The whole family was outside, waiting for him. Mousy-looking lady with the sour look had to be the mom. Dude with the scratched face was the Dad. Must have tried by himself first—the cheap way. Little girl in pigtails crying had to be the one who found it.

Mousy Mom barked, “I called over three hours ago.”

I guess I know who the cheap one is. There’s always one in this neighborhood.

Roddy stopped dead in his tracks and challenged, “There are other exterminators in the book. Maybe one of them would take care of your issue faster.”

Scratched Face jumped in the way, “No, no. The others all said this was a job for you. We’re glad you’re here.”

None of them others will take on one of these.

“Where’s it at?”

Scratched Face spoke up right away. “Upstairs. End of the hall on the left.”

Pigtails added, “It’s under my bed!”

They usually don’t make it upstairs. Must be a hole in the vinyl siding near one of them trees. Great ‘maintenance-free exterior’ numb-nuts.

The screen door whispered slightly as his thick, green work overalls and steel-toed boots slid past the welcome mat. It paid to have extra layers for this kind of work. He held the tight-mesh cage in his right hand.

The damnable reek of those plug-in room fresheners almost made him gag as his footfalls padded gently up the deep-pile steps. Photos of Scratched Face, Mousy Mom, and Pigtails in exotic locations angled past him on his left. At the top his steel-toed boots against the hardwood hallway gave away his location, but there was little Roddy could do about that. It would have figured out he was near soon enough.

‘Kaylee’ was the name in rainbow colors on the door. It creaked open, an unfriendly warning, giving him a view of the carnage. Princess sheets and bedding lay shredded on the floor. Kids books were torn in hunks and tossed all over. Pieces of chewed Barbie dolls and accessories littered the bed. A fetid reek of burned hair curled his nostrils.

Only one critter smelled like that.

“It’s Roddy,” he announced. “I’ve come for you.”

A strange hissing came from under the bed. Roddy pulled a small flashlight from a pocket and bent a knee to the floor just as he spotted the faint flashing from the wall.

Great. A camera in the kids room. Constantly monitoring Pigtails, finding everything she does that’s wrong and nailing her on it. A kid’s room should be private. Now if I screw up they can play it back over and again or make me a laughingstock on YouTube.

He pointed the light under the bed. Something moved, but the ripped sheets hid it. He pulled a thick pair of leather work gloves from another pocket and said, “Okay, critter. Let’s do this.”


Roddy’s coveralls were torn in several places when he came back out the front door of the house. In the back of his bare left hand were a few short quills. His right gloved hand held the lurching cage which Roddy had covered with a section of torn quilt from Pigtails’ room.

“It’s all right,” he declared. “I got him.”

“My quilt!” Pigtails protested.

Roddy scolded her. “They don’t like sunlight.”

Mousy Mom said, “Her grandma made the quilt. We need that back.”

Roddy frowned at her. “Fine.”

He pulled off the quilt. A dark brown creature like a cross between a porcupine and a baboon screeched and flailed in the cage, chewing and tearing at Roddy’s other glove in its mouth. Its burned scent filled the air immediately and he put the cage on the seat in his pickup.

Scratched Face asked, “What is it?”

“Something out of nightmare mythology, a nixie. That’ll be $500.”

It took some coaxing but Mousy Mom finally gritted her teeth and handed him the check.

“Make sure you keep an eye out,” Roddy told them. “With these things, there’s always a nest somewhere else in the neighborhood. There’s always one or two more.”

As he drove off, Roddy could see how pale Scratched Face was. It made him chuckle.


As soon as he reached the first stop sign, Roddy turned to the creature. “I owe you for the heads up on the NannyCam so I’m going to open the cage.”

The nixie growled, “Camera bad.”

Roddy opened the cage door. The diminutive nightmare clambered out of the cage and calmly buckled himself in the seatbelt next to Roddy.

Roddy smiled. “Next, Walter, we do the neighbors. Didya see the size of that swimming pool? They gotta be loaded, and after they see the footage Scratched Face will show them from the NannyCam, this neighborhood will start paying out... big time.”

Walter grinned, showing a disturbing number of teeth. “Ok, Boss.”

2012-10-21 01:30:17
ooooohhhh .... bravo . well creafted story!

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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Outrunning the Storm

by Michele Dutcher
Against a Diamond

by Michele Dutcher
A Fisherman's Guide to Bottomdwellers

by Michele Dutcher
Louisville's Silent Guardians

by Michele Dutcher

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