prompt fill

Jun. 1st, 2016 04:11 pm
hwango: (hermit crab)
[personal profile] hwango
TITLE: none
AUTHOR: hwango
PROMPT: What are you doing here / Hunting elephants
WORD COUNT: 538 words
SUMMARY: big-box stores have big pest control problems.

Carl considered himself to be an honest person. Probably too honest. In fact, he was so honest that if pressed on the subject he would be forced to admit that he was probably too honest. He had no inclination or talent for subterfuge, and so this clandestine midnight meeting made him profoundly uncomfortable. Alas, when you're running a business there are certain realities that you just have to face, and one of them is that you don't want your customers to see pest control visiting.

Carl managed the local big-box store, one of those places where you could buy a TV, a lawnmower, and a 20-gallon drum of salad dressing all in one trip. He took great pride in his store's neatness, efficiency, profitability, and total lack of any serious problems, which is why recent events were so upsetting.

The gentleman from pest control (Carl didn't like to think of him as an "exterminator") seemed a little bemused by their secret rendezvous under the cloak of night, but not entirely surprised. He was more accustomed to simply parking in back of the building after hours, but this wouldn't be the first time a client had been extra sensitive about their situation.

"I'm Hector," he said. He did not offer up his hand for a handshake. No one ever wanted to shake hands with the exterminator.

"Carl," Carl replied. He started to extend his hand, then seemed to think better of it. "Sorry," he said, "I just..."

"It's fine," Hector said. "So, what seems to be the problem?"

"Oh, you're not the man I spoke to on the phone?"

"No, Tim runs the phones and I do the grunt work," Hector explained.

"Ah. Well, we're not really sure. We had some damage and...unpleasant substances...and I was thinking maybe raccoons or something, but then we found another one of the late-shift stock boys trampled to death."

There was a moment of awkward silence.

"I'm sorry, did you say 'trampled to death?'" Hector asked. "Wait, did you say another?!"

"I'm afraid so. Naturally everyone's first thought was they were accidents and something had fallen on them - high shelves and heavy merchandise, even though with safety precautions that sort of thing is almost impossible. But this time there weren't even any high shelves nearby, and what with all the tracks through the er, blood and such..."

Hector took a moment to process this. "Can I see these tracks?" he asked.

"Of course."

The tracks, it turned out, were enormous.

"You realize these are too big to be from raccoons, right?" Hector said.

"I thought so, yes."

"I'm pretty sure these are elephant tracks. You have an elephant loose in your store."

Carl's already harried expression became even more stricken.

"Is that a problem you can handle?"

"Well, I am an exterminator, so of course I have an elephant gun in my van."

Carl's relief was nearly tangible.

"But...I mean...endangered species," Hector said, clearly flustered, "and how did it even get here? I mean, it's just impossible! There can't be an elephant loose in your store! There just can't!"

And indeed, there wasn't. But with all of Hector's shouting neither of them heard the approach of the mammoth until it was too late.

January 2017

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