For anke‘s prompt

Dragons Next Door has a landing page here.

Unusual calls were the norm in Steve’s line of work.

Ever since the non-human races had started moving into the cities in the mid-twenties, spurred by talk of prosperity and just in time for the Depression, the underbelly of the urban areas had been getting weirder and weirder.

Gone were the days when an exterminator could lay down some poison gas and call it good; gone were the days when cockroaches and rats were the biggest problems. Drets, tiny dragon-like insects, proliferated (and ate cockroaches, and sometimes started fires). Creels, about the size of a large mouse but armored like an armadillo, chewed through wires and ignored rat poison.

The family that called him Tuesday, however, thought they had a mundane infestation of termites. They’d heard scratching in the walls, and noticed some sawdust near an electrical outlet. Steve knew of seventeen things that could be, only two of which were more benign that termites, but if they wanted to insist they had small wood-eating insects, well, he’d come in and pretend he was looking for small wood-eating insects.

The wife hovered. He hated that sort, but what could he do? He set out his kit, ignored her worried fussing (“You won’t need any of that magical stuff. We just have bugs.”), and set to work finding out what was in their walls.

“Do you have to cut into the wall?”

“Yes, ma’am. This is where you said you had the problem?” He already knew it wasn’t termites, but he wasn’t sure exactly what it was.

“Right there, yes, all through this wall. That wallpaper was very expensive.”

“I’ll cut on a seam; it will be easier for the paperer to repair it that way.”

“You don’t…?”

“No, ma’am, that’s all in the contract you signed.” He sighed – they never read it – and went back to sawing into the supremely ugly wallpaper.

“Ey, ey! That’s my wall!” The tinny voice made Steve stop cutting; down by his toes, a tiny man – a Tiny man, to be specific, was shaking a fist at him. Steve grinned.

“Ma’am, I’ve found your problem, and it’s definitely out of my jurisdiction, but I can suggest a good co-habitation counselor.” He carefully picked up the Tiny man so that the client could see him. “You have Tinies.”

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14 thoughts on “Exterminator

  1. She’s going to love that, isn’t she? On the other hand, if you have Tinies do theyy deal with all the potential bug issues?

      • Maybe they don’t count inside the walls as part of the humans’ space? Sort of like moving into the vacant block beside someone else’s house?

          • On the other hand, whatever the morality, I expect they have an even more pressing need to help keep the pest population under control. At least in that part of the building. To you or me a roach is just an, “Eww, gross.” And possibly some germs spread. To a tiny it’s like an armadillo hided dog just barged into your home. Steve should leave the tiny a business card or two before leaving. 🙂

      • It is rather rude, especially making distracting noises in the walls. I think Aud said in another story that people used to call exterminators on Tinies (and I get the impression this woman would have rathered this one had poison-fogged the house). If it’s no longer considered legal or ethical to do that (and my casual impression here is that Steve would lose his license if he did, as well as disapproving himself), are there no comparable restrictions on what the Tinies can do or where they can move in?

  2. I tend to agree with dahob that it seems rude to move into someone else’s house without permission, but apparently (since Steve mentioned a co-habitation counselor) it’s permitted and even expected. And hearkening back to a previous story, did Steve get the Tiny man’s permission before picking him up?

  3. Steve is more informed than most humans, it seems. If Tinies can move into anyone’s house, you’d think more people would know a thing or two about them. Interesting.

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