This week's story is based on the line:
"I will not wear the same dress as my pregnant ex-girlfriend."
Which some how led to exterminators and abandoned subways.
“I will not wear the same dress as my pregnant ex-girlfriend,” he hissed.
Reece rolled her eyes and yanked him hard by the shoulder as he poked his head beyond the stretch of wall they’d staked out.
His yell was cut off by a blast of flame that shot out from the blind corridor, going a good six feet past them. It was so hot Reece felt sweat running down her back under her jumpsuit. “Just sit. We have to wait for it to go to sleep,” she said in his ear.
When she released him Harvey had the decency to look embarrassed. “Sorry.”
She shrugged and sat back against the wet brick. The cold seeping through her jumpsuit made her shiver. She hated these old buildings. “It’s fine, I shouldn’t have brought it up.”
Harvey sighed and started unscrewing the tip of his launcher. He inspected the first ring and pulled out a napkin with a green logo on the back. “My fault, I agreed to do it,” he said, carefully wiping the inner edge of the ring with the napkin.
“You even suggested you guys go as a girl group,” she couldn’t help but remind him as she kept an ear toward the corridor. She could hear it breathing, too fast to be asleep.
Harvey set the tip of the launcher carefully on his leg and unscrewed the barrel, looking down the thin tube. “Yeah well, Diana Ross got to wear a different dress,” he muttered, turning the tube toward her like a telescope.
She could just see his brown eye at the far end. In the darkness it was a pinpoint reflection of the green glow stick they’d cracked when they arrived. “You could always pull out. The other three will-”
“I wouldn’t do that. It’s for charity,” he whispered loudly, whipping around to face her.
Reece caught the tip of his launcher as it rolled across the floor and handed it back to him. “So what’s the problem? Her new guy?”
Harvey wiped the tip again and screwed the barrel back onto the squared off body of the launcher. “Please, I look better in any dress than that slob.”
She laughed. She surprised herself so much she didn’t even try to muffle it.
A thin hand that smelled like gun oil clamped over her mouth but it was already too late. Another jet of flame shot out from the corridor, illuminating the length of the wine cellar. Heavy rhythmic breathing followed the flames.
“Can we wait it out?” Harvey asked, screwing the tip back on his launcher with a shaking hand.
She held up a hand for quiet and strained her ears in the darkness. She blinked hard, forcing her eyes to adjust after the burst of light. She could just see a glowing shape along the wall the flame had touched. It took her a moment to realize that it was a red-hot mass of melted wine bottles. She grimaced. That much heat wasn’t something they could wait out. “It’ll bring the place down on us if it keeps breathing on the supports.”
He took a deep breath and nodded, tightening the tip on his launcher with a final jerk. “Ready when you are.”
She pulled out her mirror and straightened the handle on it. “Switch,” she said, motioning him to her spot.
Harvey shuffled past her in a crouch, staying as low and close to the wall as possible.
Reece wanted to tease him for ducking when the thing down the other end of the cellar couldn’t see them, but stayed silent and carefully edged her mirror around the corner. Huge yellow eyes filled the reflection. She jerked it back, her heart beating hard against her ribs. She folded the mirror’s handle and tucked it back in her pocket. There was no danger of laughing now. “It’s creeping up and it’s a male,” she said against Harvey’s ear.
He made a low choked sound in the back of his throat and quickly threw both hands over his mouth.
They waited, hardly breathing, but nothing came from the corridor.
Harvey lowered his hands slowly, eyes wide. He leaned forward until his mouth was at her ear. “Game plan?”
She tucked her head in closer to his. “Decoys.”
He tensed but didn’t groan this time. “Do we have to?” he asked.
She couldn’t help smirking. “You volunteering?”
He sighed against her neck and shook his head enough that she could feel it. “I’ll get them.”
They pulled apart and Reece listened hard for the long indrawn breath that would mean more fire. Her eyes stayed on Harvey as he pulled the large black bag along the wall toward him. He pulled the zipper slowly, more out of reluctance than a desire to keep quiet. With a silent sigh that she could see lifting his shoulders he put his hands in the bag and drew out two white shapes. “I think you secretly like this part,” he whispered, handing them over.
She kept her hands wrapped around their wings and watched Harvey until he had risen to a crouch, his launcher armed and held ready in both hands. “Not as much as I’m going to like seeing you in that dress,” she whispered back, tossing the doves around the corner.
Reece was adjusting her grip on her launcher when the first burst of flame rolled past them. Harvey held out one finger, then two, on three there was another jet of flame. As soon as it receded they both dashed around the corner and triggered their launchers. Reece felt her boot crunch down on a charred dove as the first blast of foam caught the dragon full in the mouth. “Legs!” she shouted over the choking and gagging coming from the dragon’s sharply tapered head.
Harvey shifted his stream first, catching a front leg in rapidly hardening foam. Reece kept up a stream to the head until she was sure its nostrils were covered too. It was struggling weakly by the time she added her stream to Harvey’s at the other front leg.
They kept a steady flow of foam coming until the dragon stopped moving and its white encrusted head sank onto the foam encasing its feet.
Reece turned her launcher off and slung it back over her shoulder. “I’ll check the reflex and then we can call the cleanup team.”
“Sounds good. We could-” Harvey’s words were cut off by a thump and a yell.
Reece spun on her heel, launcher back in her hands, eyes darting everywhere. “Asshole,” she said when she spotted Harvey on the floor.
“Slipped on a damn dove,” he grumbled, taking her hand and letting her help him to his feet.
“I thought you loved the birds,” she teased, dusting some of the ash off his sleeve and leaving a smear.
He scowled at her. “Just for that I’m going to tell Nate what you said.”
“What I said about what?” she asked, wiping her ash-covered hand on her jumpsuit.
“Wanting to see me in that dress,” he said waggling his eyebrows at her.
“Why don’t you go get the gear together and I’ll finish this up?” she said, giving him a light push toward the open end of the cellar where they’d been hiding.
Harvey smirked and gave his hips an extra wiggle as he went. He was never going to let her forget hitting on him while he was in that drag revue.
Reece watched him go with her head cocked to one side and shrugged. “Now if I could get Nate into a dress,” she muttered, pulling a probe out of her pocket and approaching the still dragon. It was staring. At least its yellow eyes were open and looked like they were staring. Small mercy they hadn’t covered them in foam. That would make testing the reflex a lot harder. She steadied one hand on the foam-covered jaw and touched the probe to the wet eye.
She glanced down at the indicator on the handle of the probe and it was green. She gave the eye another touch just to be safe. Green again. “We’re clear,” she called.
“Good thing,” Harvey huffed, the bag with the remaining birds and other equipment held in both hands. “Man,” he said, looking down the length of the dragon where it disappeared into darkness, “Got to be seventy feet. How did one that big get in a house?”
Reece tucked the probe back in her pocket and waved him ahead of her. “You didn’t look at the map? This place is less than a block from the old Circle Line.” Other than the squeak of their shoes the only sound in the cellar was the drip of wine from the melted bottles.
“I hate subways, they should’ve filled them all in with concrete,” Harvey muttered, heaving the bag onto his shoulder and leading the way upstairs.
“Yeah right. We’d be out of business without them,” she scoffed, straightening the collar of her jumpsuit and pulling the waist down from where it had ridden up her stomach.
“Shame we have to kill them, you know?” Harvey said thoughtfully as they opened the door at the top of the stairs and stepped out into the bright hallway.
Reece was blinking again, trying to get her eyes to adjust before she talked to the client. “You want to go back to working captures? If you want out of the dress that bad I’ll let you wear a suit.”
Harvey cleared his throat and Reece turned to see Mrs. Montgomery at the end of the hall, watching them. “I’ll just go get this in the truck,” he said, smoothing his filthy hand through his hair as he scurried off.
Reece blinked a few more times and pulled a pad out of another pocket before she turned to Mrs. Montgomery. “All set ma’am,” she said brightly.
The woman stepped hesitantly forward, a towel twisted between her thin fingers. She had been the one that found the dragon; her husband said she was going down to the cellar to pick wine for a dinner party. Reece couldn’t understand why the woman wanted to stay while they worked. The sound alone had probably scared the crap out of her.
“It’s dead?” Mrs. Montgomery asked after a hard swallow.
Reece nodded. “It’s dead,” she said firmly. “If you could just sign here?” she asked, holding out the pad.
Mrs. Montgomery nodded in a loose way that sent her head off to the left and the right. She clutched the pen as tightly as she had the towel. “It’s still down there?” she asked, not looking up from her slow slanting signature.
“We’ll have it out of your way in about three hours. Cleaning crew will be in after that and you would never know it was there,” Reece said, repeating the brochure almost line for line.
“You take it away?” the woman asked, looking profoundly relieved.
Reece nodded seriously though she desperately wanted to roll her eyes. What did the woman think they did? Leave dragon carcasses in people’s basements? “Edison Extermination is full service ma’am.”