Infestation

Lighthouse Horror Narration: https://youtu.be/Kv0j7Ubfc-A

I work for my local council as an exterminator. Mainly I get called out to abandoned properties with no owner around to control for pests, needless to say I see some pretty wild infestations and to be honest, after 7 years on the job, not much really gets to me. The job I’m going to tell you about made the worst thing I’d seen until that day look like cobwebs in your grandma’s attic.

The place is in a sleepy suburb well outside of town, took about a half hour to drive there from Control. Nice neighbourhood, trees, sidewalks, porches with swings. When I arrive I get out of my truck and prepare to inspect the site. Neighbours called it in a few days before but it’s summer and we’re getting outbreaks popping up all over town. Business is good so to speak. The concerned elderly couple next door mentioned to Control that a guy had been living in the place for the past year or so but they hadn’t seen him for a while and figured he must have moved back to wherever he came from. I thought nothing of it. Job’s a job.

Soon as I see the house I can tell something ain’t right, place looks like it’s been abandoned for decades. The porch is covered in webs, so thick I can barely see the front door. What strikes me as particularly strange are the windows, all boarded up from the inside. ‘Now why would someone board their windows up from the inside?’ I think as I walk up, ‘surely the point is to stop the glass getting broke.’

I set to work on the webs, cutting them back with my crowbar, but they’re damn strong, tough as fishing wire. Nearly brained myself on the first swipe, expecting to go straight through but instead my ‘bar bounces off like rubber. So I go back to the truck and get out the shears (sometimes we have to do a little garden work to get to the outdoorsy bug hives so I always have my landscaping tools handy) and set to work hacking my way to the door. When I finally get through the webs the door won’t budge. I smash my way through with the ‘bar and as I breach into the hall all I smell is death. Old death. Smelled it a few times before, usually a family pet thought to have run off or some kind of wild animal that crept in to die somewhere private. Never smelled anything like this. The place was thick with it. I gag as I get a nose-full of it and almost get myself caught in the damn web outside as I recoil from the stench. Gas mask is gonna have to come out early on this job.

The mask does a little to help my nose but it ain’t helping my eyes. Can’t see shit in this place. The broad daylight outside does nothing to cut through the maze of webs beyond the gaping door. There’s this kind of dust that floats in the air too, like cave silt kicked up by a diver, it’s so dense my flashlight can barely penetrate it. I go in anyway, fool I am. Shoulda called it there and just had the place torched and been done with it thinking back. Hindsight and all.

So I’m making my way down this dank hallway, ducking under the webs where I can and snipping them away where they’re too thick to pass. Whole time I can only see about 3 feet in front of me through this weird dust. Now I’m trying to locate the source of the infestation, the hive, but I don’t even see any bugs. I figure they were probably scared off by me bashing down their door but they don’t usually stay hid for too long. Not this long. I press on anyway, ignoring instinct to run. Start to feel like a rookie on his first bug hunt. Ain’t felt like this for years.

Every step I take more of the smell gets through my mask, my eyes are watering now too which makes the visibility even worse. I just want to finish the job and get out at this point, and I’ve only been in the damned place less than 10 minutes! I’m reaching out to steady myself when my hand finds a doorknob. The smell is so strong here. I turn the doorknob and go in. This must be it, I figure, smell’s so strong it’s gotta be in here. As I take a step inside I go tumbling head over heels down the stairs behind the door. Found the basement. By some miracle my mask stays on my face. Pretty sure if it had fallen off I’d’ve suffocated down there. 

So I’m laying at the bottom of the stairs on the concrete, trying to get my bearings. It’s pitch black down here. I shine my light around me but it’s like shining your high beams in thick fog, all it does is create a light bloom around my face, failing to illuminate my surroundings at all. Ain’t gonna lie, my heart’s beating fast now and my shoulder’s busted up pretty bad. Then I hear it. The scuttling. It’s like tiny needles plinking on the concrete around me. It starts soft, just a few feeling the air out, sensing the intruder, but suddenly the room whirls to life around me and I hear the swarm, they’re not even on me but it’s like I can I feel them squirming out of the dark. A cacophony of legs racing towards me. I lose it, scramble back up the stairs bashing into the wall and crying out in pain. I got no idea the kind of bug that’ll defend their territory so aggressively as this but I don’t wanna wait around to find out what they are. I bolt through the door and slam it behind me. The open front door has cleared the dust a little and I hobble towards the rectangle of light that feels like my salvation. I hear the swarm swirling behind the basement door. They don’t come under it, just press against it in their mass like a being with one mind. I hear them clicking, smelling me.

I burst through the front door and hurl myself over the porch and onto the front lawn. My mask finally goes flying and I get a lungful of that dust, it coats my throat and sends me into a coughing fit. I don’t know if you ever been sprayed by a CO2 fire extinguisher, but it feels like that. A chemical dreck making its way through my breathing ways, sticking to the walls of my insides, making it impossible to breathe. I gasp and wretch, crawl to my vehicle for my water bottle, certain I’m gonna pass out and choke to death. I make it just in time and down the whole thing. Then I just sit there for a while, gulping air, staring at the house.

What the heck was that? I ain’t never heard of that kind of shit. Needless to say I don’t go back inside. I call Control and recommend the area cordoned off. The house needs a deep fumigation and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna do it. They know me and know I don’t mess around with this kind of thing, don’t scare easy either. They take me seriously and send a team. I’m still there in my truck trying to catch my breath when they arrive to set up the tent. Trent comes over to give me a hard time but he sees my face and the grin dissolves from his. ‘You OK?’ He says. I nod. ‘What happened?’ He says. I tell him not to go inside, just put up the tent and get it over with. He sets to his work with Davis. 

Sun’s going down when they finish setting up the place. Gonna be a long burn they tell me, the place crawls. I’m starting to come to my senses when Trent comes over, he’s got something in his hand. A book. ‘Found this near the stairs to the basement,’ he tells me, handing me the book which I see is a diary of some kind. ‘Figured you might wanna read it and see what kinda bug that was.’ I tell him I don’t give a God damn and throw the book in the back of my truck. He shrugs and asks if I want a beer. I tell him I don’t feel too good. Maybe tomorrow.

When I get home I don’t feel much better, head’s pounding and I’m kinda dizzy. Before I get out of the truck I take the diary. Curiosity got the better of me on the road and by the time I pull up to my driveway, I know I gotta find out what that was. 

I make myself a cup of coffee, breaking my no caffeine past 1pm rule, and settle into my chair with the book. Now you thought this shit was weird before, wait until you hear what was written inside. Here’s a condensed version of what I read:

23/02/2020

            Moving day! This place feels like home already, lovely street, nice neighbours, trees, what more could I ask for? Noticed some cool areas for photography driving the U-Haul here, might be worth checking out a few when I’m settled, or if I start go crazy from unpacking! I think I’m going to really like it here, I get a good feeling about this place.

26/02/2020

            I finally had a chance to check out that old mine today, so cool! I got some great photos in there, the lighting is so atmospheric, especially with the creepy feel of it, all that broken glass and tools strewn around. It’s like the miners just cleared out one day mid-shift. Only bad thing is the dust down there set off my allergies, I couldn’t stop coughing when I got out of there. Haven’t had a reaction like that since I was a kid! I thought I was beyond it all to be honest, I don’t even have an inhaler anymore. Anyway it’s stopped now so whatever, I guess I managed to cough most of it up!

            Got the feeling these photographs could sell once I develop them, gonna have a look through tomorrow and choose my favourites to work on.

01/03/2020

            Been feeling lousy for days. The air in that mine has really done a number on me! Considered seeing the doctor here but I don’t want to be a bother and I still haven’t switched over from the other practice so it all just feels like too much hassle. Think I’ll apply the old ‘wait and see’ tactic. Usually works out… A few days of rest is all I need probably. I haven’t even touched those photos yet. Think I’ll have another nap.

03/03/2020

            Feeling really low. My cough is pretty bad now but I don’t feel like I can leave the house. Probably too much to call the ambulance, I’m definitely not that bad but man, I can’t believe my allergies are still this bad! Having some other symptoms too. I feel kind of itchy. Not really itchy though. It’s more like something is crawling on me but when I go to swat it away there’s nothing there. Such a weird feeling, it’s kind of gross. If this goes on much longer I’ll go to the doctor.

04/03/2020

            Kept waking up last night. The crawling is getting worse. It feels like there are things under my skin, under my scalp crawling across my skull. I’ve been going crazy itching myself. Torn some chunks out digging around. Coughing has stopped at least, guess I’m getting better.

07/03/2020

            Just woke up. Slept 36 hours. Feel groggy. Going back to sleep.

(No date)

            I hear them in me. Always moving. They talk. To me. I’m home. Their home. They want more. Can’t let them out.

(No date)

            Won’t let me out. Hurt me. I am theirs. They are me. Shut the doors. No way out. They grow. More. Holes in me. In out in out in out in out in out in out in out in out…  

(No date)

            Burn them. Me. Gone. Holes. Hive…

From this point the writing becomes a scrawl and then stops. I’m still not sure what to make of it all. Sounds like this guy went bonkers right? After all I went through last week then reading that I haven’t really been sleeping so good. The whole experience has creeped me out. Guess I felt writing it out for you might get it out of my head. I’m not feeling so hot myself to be honest. Even writing this has been a challenge. Probably one more day off work and I’ll be right as rain. Trent called couple days ago, said they had to burn the place infestation was so bad. Pretty crazy. Found bones in the basement, strewn about like he was pulled apart. He asked about the diary, I said it’s nothing. Not sure why, just didn’t feel right to tell him.

Anyway, I’m pretty tired, need a few more hours sleep and I’ll be right as rain. The wife’s worried but I keep telling her not to worry, bad for the baby. Think she’s caught a bit of it too mind. We’ll be quite the pair holed up here together. Time to go to sleep. I’ll feel better tomorrow. 

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