Jack and Stan~ Paranormal Cleaners chapter 32

     Jack worked primarily as a cleaner. Between the words “Paranormal” and “Cleaner” he considered the word Cleaner to be the far more important. Paranormal wasn’t inherently a line of work, as their current job demonstrated amply. On top of being a cleaner, however, Jack had to function as an electrician, a therapist, and now a glorified wild lide expert. Being an old hand at dealing with wild creatures, Jack felt more than sure this job would be a breeze. Goblins were, by nature, impatient and feisty. If they were feral then they would also be thin and spindly creatures barely intelligent enough to fashion rags into clothes. The only potential difficulty lay in figuring out how many were on the property. Feral goblins were like cockroaches and if you saw some during the day, that meant they were breeding like jack rabbits and removing them would become quite challenging if you waited too long. It wasn’t because they were tough, but it was simply by virtue of being unable to keep up with the population boom.

     Before they left to begin their hunt, Jack loaded Stan down with every trap they had lining the walls of their van. Jack never worked overtime if he didn’t have to, and trapping the goblins before tossing them into the endless void of the Bag would save his clothes and their collective energy a great deal of grief. Snatching that mysterious Bag from his own supplies and tucking it into his belt, they got started.

     It didn’t take Jack long to find the first signs that they had been there. The second cabin along the path had been opened up and the contents spilled all over the front porch. Half eaten apples, an opened bag of chips spilled all around with other pieces of half eaten food and smashed up furniture strewn out from the door. Ripped up clothes hung from the top of the cabin. It seemed things were worse than he had thought. Stepping into the cabin, Jack scanned the living room. The minimalist furniture had been smashed to pieces and the walls bore weak claw marks from the floor to the ceiling. Curiously, besides the food, nothing else seemed to be missing at first glance. Outside, Stan placed a few traps and baited them with leftover food and some soap which smelled like peaches. Feral goblins liked fruit and were often not discriminating about consuming soap that smelled like it.

     The next two cabins bore out that same routine. Jack inspected the completely destroyed cabin while Stan set some traps and they moved on.  In the third cabin from where the trail of destruction began, they hit the jackpot. In the front yard outside the cabin four goblins sat around in a drunken stupor. It suddenly occurred to Jack exactly what the goblins had been taking; everything alcoholic beverage in every cabin. An image flashed through Jack’s mind of attempting to cram vomiting goblins into his mystical Bag. He almost got sick himself.

     For these four, however, the bender was over. It took only an instant and all four of them were in the Bag. In the distance, Jack heard loud chittering and smashing. It seem their luck had held if the goblins hadn’t caught their scent yet. If they were still so close with all the noise Stan made when walking down a path, they were really trashed and given the sounds they were making, he could already tell there was more than forty of them. When sounds of breaking glass emanated from even further down the path, Jack knew he had been licked. Time to regroup, laying traps as they went back to the main building, and consider another option. Goblins aren’t very brave, clever or strong but when they get into a mob Jack often noticed something strange happen. He liked to call it the, “Yeah, what he said” mentality. It was sort of like watching dogs get each other riled up into barking at strangers until their owner comes back and yells at them, only in this case there was no owner and all the dogs were hammered.

     Stan shambled back down the path, placing traps at about knee height for himself, hanging them from branches and nailing them to trees on either side of the path. Jack waited until he could barely see him before he started following. It seemed unlikely to him that many goblins would have been caught by the time he passed, but there was no point in wasting a trip. As Jack had suspected, however, the traps were all empty and hanging loosely where Stan had left them on his trail back to the main office. Jack had often wondered whether or not feral goblins were capable of communication. There were some members of his family, most notably Julian, who thought it could be true. Julian insisted that the only way feral goblins could be capable of such rampant destruction is if they were somehow organized enough to at least let other goblins in their murder know when they were under threat. The scene that unfolded before him reminded Jack why he had never thought that theory held much credence. If goblins were capable of communication, then even drunk goblins should have been trying to communicate with the other goblins to warn them. At first glance, you might think they were organized and moved together in unison. In reality, it was far more likely that a pack of feral goblins simply moved on instinct, with each goblin looking out for number one. When the herd thinned out enough that’s when  survival instincts took over and the rest of them would break and run off on their own. That’s why they needed one big trap that would lure all the goblins into one place, so they would do all the work while Jack and Stan collected the paycheck for cleaning them up.

     Every fifteen feet on the path back, Jack stopped to examine the bushes. Tracking had never been Jack’s strongest suit as a hunter, but with goblins one hardly had to track very hard. Paths into the woods lay on all sides.  Stan was already leaning against the van by the time Jack got back to the front office. The commotion mostly lay inside, but from Stan’s slightly tense posture Jack could tell that it would only be a moment before it spilled out into the driveway and became a pain in their job. In short order the spillage began, as Jack expected it would, with the Miller’s. They both had a weird way of walking that made it seem as though they were clumsily floating along the ground.

     Mr. Miller was the first to speak, “So, Jack…did you get rid of whatever those…things were?”

     “Feral goblins, and no. We’ve set traps all over the path, but that’s not going to work. They’re reproducing too quickly because you waited too long to get help. Because you waited, things will get a little difficult.

     “What?” the old man from earlier in the day came out of the front office, leading a trail of families and couples, “He said he can’t do it! We’ll never get our things back now.”

     “And thus, the prophet of doom appears.” It occurred to Jack that apparently the people who came to this resort were far more interested in getting their things back than they were in the existence of goblins. Well, except a few wide eyed little children who had certainly caught on and were very interested indeed in meeting a few.

     Raising his hands, Jack spoke louder in an attempt to calm everyone down, “We can catch all of them, we just need to set a trap that will lure all of them and fortunately for you, we do seem to know what the goblins want.”

     An elderly woman towards the back of the crowd, bedecked with jewelry, spoke up, “They want my jewels!”

     A man closer to the front took up the cry, “They want my suits!”

     Even the children, perhaps sensing a chance to mock their elder or perhaps in earnestness, took up the cry, “They want my Thomas the tank engine!”

     Jack decided he had played the guessing game long enough, “They want to get hammered. Every place they broke into, all they took was the booze. Everything else got trashed because they drank the booze.  Drunk goblins aren’t exactly known for their delicate nature. So if anybody is holding onto some high end hooch, now is the time to hand it over or we can do it the long way and that could take weeks.”

     It took Jack a few moments to realize that the crowd had redirected its gaze to Mr. Miller. All the crowd, that is, except his wife who had grown a sudden interest in the ceiling and was gazing heavenward, whistling in an entirely too suspicious manner.

     Mr. Miller blustered uselessly, “But…that’s my private stash! I can’t just…give my private store to those creatures.”

     The elderly woman in the back of the crowd spoke the one word on everyone’s mind, “Refund.”

     Mr. Miller caved immediately, “Oh, very well, but I get to choose the bottles you take and I get one last glass before they go.” Jack nodded his ascent and Mr. Miller vanished back into the front building to get into his so-called secret stash. A loud grinding of gears and a hollow sound of a staircase being lowered could be heard from inside the building.

     “Oh dear, he really did have a secret stash. I expected some mid-level hard liquor in his desk, but we may be giving a king’s ransom to feral goblins.”

     Stan cocked his head slightly, “Which king boss?”

     Jack sniffed the air and winced at the smell, “Several, it would appear.”

     Mr. Miller appeared at the entrance with several bottles of liquor that appeared to have been bottled during the Renaissance. He seemed to have sampled the contents himself, as he staggered towards Jack, keeping a tenuous grip on the bottles. “I’m excited to be a part of this. I always wanted to get out and see the world.”

     Jack snatched the bottles away from Mr. Miller and turned towards the beach, “Goblins aren’t really dangerous but you should still stay in the main building and keep quiet.” He gestured to Stan and headed down the path. Goblins are naturally agile little buggers so the best thing to do would be to get them all hammered and then toss them all in the Bag. We’ll need a bowl or a tub to put the booze in and then we’ll just need to wait. Stan parted ways and headed towards the cabins while Jack continued on towards the beach. Once he reached the ocean shore, Jack took the time to enjoy the ocean view spanning out ahead of him. Stan arrived shortly after with a giant metal wash bin perfect for their trap.

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