Prompt Day #171: The plumber discovers something while unclogging a drain. Something he’s seen before. Something he doesn’t want to tell the homeowners about. What is it?
The Last Job
The snake refused to go through the clog. Sam sighed. He was hoping for a quick and easy job today before the start of his official retirement. But now he would have to tear the pipes apart. He should have known when the curly red-head answered the door. That hair is bound to be sitting in there like a red Brillo pad blocking everything. He eased himself onto the floor and tried to ignore the creaks and groans from his joints. After thirty years in the business, they were ready to be put up on a lounge chair in Hawaii for a couple weeks; he and his wife’s first real vacation.
Shining the pen light into the trap, Sam cursed. Now he wished it was a big slimy ball of red hair. This was far worse. Sam saw this once before but even then it was not this bad. The mutations were getting bigger. He looked at the mass of creatures squirming up and down the pipe servicing their queen. It was the queen that clogged the drain. The thing had the head of a naked mole rat and was the size of one, the rest of her body tapered away with antennae and appendages jutting out the sides like a silverfish. Her back end was bulbous and pulsated as behind her, Sam was sure, she was birthing pupa. The nurse or soldier creatures were much smaller of course, but their miniature rat faces on wormy insect bodies were almost more disturbing than the fat, throbbing queen.
The last time he dealt with these things, the queen was the size of a field mouse and they had just made it up out of the septic tank and into the main drain. The pipe then was wide enough and he used a suction pump to pull the whole lot of them out before having the septic drained. Sam had figured it had been some freak incident but now, here he was four years later staring at what the worst of evolution could do.
One of the service silver-rats as Sam was calling them in his head, had made it to the rim of the now separated swan neck. Sam shook the loose pipe and watched it slide back down. He shivered.
“Hi, Uh, Sam, was it? I was just wondering if you had an idea how much longer it’s going to take.” The ginger haired house wife was knocking on the door to the master bath where Sam had just discovered a concerning infestation. He didn’t want to tell her. He could only imagine the questions. Questions he wouldn’t have answers to, and promises he couldn’t make about clearing the problem. He wasn’t a damn exterminator. He turned to answer, to project his voice better, when the little bugger he’d flicked down the pipe scrambled back up and bit his thumb.
“Jesus Fuck!” He screamed. The red head screamed and opened the door.
“What happened?” she asked angrily and then softer “are you alright?”
Sam shifted enough that she couldn’t see the guts of the now very squashed and very dead creature he held in his fist. A creature which, even dead, held Sam’s thumb pad in its teeth.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Ma’am. I was having some trouble getting these pipes apart and I sliced my thumb.” He said through gritted teeth. Just make her go, just whatever it takes to get her out of the room. His thumb was throbbing and the creature’s needle-teeth drove ice pick spikes of pain into his wrist. “I’m patching it up and will be finished here in, uh, maybe thirty minutes. Tough clog” he said.
“Well, try to keep it down, please. And no more profanity” She said motherly and walked back out of the room.
As soon as she was gone, he opened his hand and shook the guts off. He grabbed the head and pulled. He felt a large chunk of skin trying to go with the head. He worked a screwdriver between the thing’s teeth and pried it off his thumb. Viscous, black fluid spilled out of the puncture wounds. He milked more out until he could no longer stand the pain.
That’s when he felt the stab on his ankle. Sam slapped at it with his right hand—his good one. He saw the pipe, now laying on its side, spill its living contents onto the floor. Shit. He’d dropped the pipe when the first one bit him and the instant necrosis of his thumb had further taken his attention off the hoard of insect rodents now squirming all over the bathroom floor at his feet. One of them was headed towards the door and a quick estimate on size revealed that it will slip under the door of the bathroom and into the rest of the house. He threw himself in its direction in an attempt to keep his little problem contained. He caught it in his fist and squeezed it dead before the thing had a chance to bite him.
“Little fucker” he whispered, remembering Ginger’s admonishment. But when the silver rats started running up his work pants, he forgot to stay silent. He screamed. He screamed when the first one reached his balls and tore into them. He cried out for mercy when a second tried to burrow into his ass. He felt another pop beneath him when he rolled over onto his back. He started to work on his belt, trying to get his pants off, concentrating on his sphincter tone all the while.
He no longer had an opposable thumb on his left hand. The bone, tendons, muscles had all dissolved. It was a useless water balloon filled with black jelly. He could feel his balls swelling and imagined that they too would soon be useless sacs of clot. He had a feeling he wasn’t going to be sitting on a beach in Hawaii anytime soon. He called out to the housewife, this was over his head.
He heard her stomping down the hallway. The door swung open.
“What?” She yelled, then she screamed as the mass of silver-rats wriggled their way across the floor some stopping to bite at her feet and others heading past her and out into the rest of the house. She began stomping and prancing. Shock and panic stole away Sam’s only chance at getting out of this somewhat intact. He watched her hyperventilating and began to sob. He felt the rat thing squeeze into his ass, his own personal plumbing as it were and start to gnaw its way through. Ginger-hair was kicking wildly now and one connected perfectly with Sam’s head. He had a split second to think ‘Thank God’ before he retired from plumbing forever.