Fiction Suspense Inspirational

I see them walking by, ignoring me. And the ones that do notice me? They either rush by scared or look at me with unadulterated disgust. They only see that I’m different. I don't have fancy shoes or clothes. My home isn't as big as theirs, but I work hard on it and am proud of it. But I stay and do my best despite their fear or disgust.

I don't use pesticides or other chemicals to perform my duties. I prefer a more natural trapping system. It's safer for the environment, and you don't have to worry about other animals being affected. It is also more discreet. People don't like to see their pest control.

This has been a humid summer preceded by a wet spring. As a result, there have been a lot of gnats and mosquitos buzzing around. People hate when the bugs from the hot outside come into their precious airconditioned inside, so I work outside. That's ok. I like it hot.

"Oh gross," one passerby comments as he soaks his collar with sweat. "Look at all those bugs caught in there."

Several other onlookers make comments as well. It is time to empty the trap.

The summer has been very demanding and successful. But then complaints start about gnats and other pests entering the office building.

"Some of them are enormous!" the sweaty one commented. "I thought the swamp was outside, not in there." His joke got some pity chuckles.

Some of my colleagues have a more active approach inside, but things have gotten out of hand. So it was time to set up inside.

The only time I’m allowed to come in to set up a trap is after the building is closed for the night. Otherwise, everyone is in the way. I wander through the hallways in the cavernous building. The ceiling is so high you could fall over looking at it. Gnats don't go that high. They stay with the people.

Most of the secluded corners were near air conditioner vents, which was not ideal for catching gnats. They like it warm.

Then I find a great spot. It’s low enough, a little public, but covered. The door is marked ‘Manager’. It takes most of the night to get the lines rigged and the trap set perfectly. There’s still time to admire my work before the workers trickle in for the day.

The Manager is the sweaty man. He totally ignores me as he walks into his office. But he'll have a lot fewer gnats to worry about.

A day goes by, and I already have to empty the trap.

"Did we call that exterminator already?" the sweaty man asks. "All the bugs are gone."

Things were going well. The manager seems happy. The trap is working great. I was a little chilly since I was used to being outside, but that was OK. There was an awkward moment when a competitor came flitting in. He tried to say that traps were less effective than actively chasing the bugs. I showed him the beauty and the intricacies of the trap up close. After that, he couldn't argue its merit anymore.

Summer began to chill into autumn. Gnats became fewer. Mosquitoes became less bothersome. The trap needed emptying less and less. So, it may finally be time to take things back outside.

"EEEEEK!" a squeal peels out from the cubicle area.

"What's going on?" the sweaty manager comes rushing out of his office. Head whipping around frantically.

"There's a yellow Jacket!" a woman cries out, running from the cubicles.

A bright yellow hexapod crawls on a doughnut in the woman's cubicle. Then, it takes off and starts a lazy circuit around the office. People leap and dodge from its path. The more movement and noise the workers make, the louder the wasp’s angry buzz becomes.

The golden intruder continues to hover from one workstation to the next, partaking in any sweet or savory snacks it finds. The employees gather by the manager's door in the back of the work area. Every time the wasp leaves a cubicle, it makes an aggressive bobbing and weaving pattern in the air, with a tremendous buzz emanating from its wings.

As everyone gathers, I try to adjust the trap, extending it, trying to aim it, hopefully making it more effective.

The wasp makes it to the last cubicle, where no snack is available. The buzz that rises up from the last workstation vibrates the walls. The workers cower. One woman screams.

"Calm down, Katie," a companion tells her. "It's just a bug."

"Then why are you behind her?" Another worker quips.

"I, Uh-"

"AAAAH!" a scream shatters the air as the wasp drifts toward the group.

I will the little beasty higher so he’ll be on track with the trap. He’s too low.

He kept buzzing, weaving side to side, a malicious look on his face.

Higher, it needs to fly higher.

Someone swats at the harrying assailant, and it zips back away from the group, buzzing menacingly. Its side-to-side motions become sharper and faster. It darts in and out as someone else swats blindly at it. Each exchange produces a grating scream and a disjointed wave from the small crowd. All of them crammed against the wall, away from the yellow jacket.

Changing tactics, the angry insect shoots up toward the ceiling, then dives at the crowd. The stinger is in position to strike any bit of flesh in its path. They can’t swat as effectively up since they’re all squished like that.

The furious wasp dropped like a missile. Into my trap

It hit with so much force that the entire thing bowed and swung, but it held. I spring into action, sprinting along the spoke, rushing toward the thrashing and buzzing beast I had just caught.

I sink my fangs deep into the yellow jacket to deliver the venom that will slow it down. Then I place the beginning thread to wrap it up tightly.

"What the hell?" someone calls from below me.

"It got caught in a spider web," someone else provides.

"He got him!" Someone else cheers.

"Look at how many gnats are in that web, too," the sweaty man chimes in.

"Ew," one lady whines. "Kill it!"

"Really?" The sweaty man asks. "Look at all those bugs that he caught, including the wasp you were just squealing about." He looks up at my web with sparkling eyes. "Arnie stays."

“Arnie?” The lady asks

“Araneae is the biological order for spiders,” the sweaty manager explains. “That’s a mouthful, so, Arnie.” He gestures to my web.

As days went by, people would pass and greet me. I would get waves and smiles and nods. The sweaty man would look at me every morning and greet me by the name he gave me. "Good morning, Arnie," and say goodbye every night. "See you tomorrow, Arnie."

I would wave to him as I patched my web.

Autumn slid into Winter, which marched into Spring. My legs began to ache. Only one of my eyes worked, and my spinnerets could tell me when it was going to rain.

One day the sweaty man looks at me, "You're looking pretty old, my friend." He stretches with cracks and pops. "I'm feeling old, too," he laughs. "This is my last day. I’m retiring. I appreciate your help this last year."

"Chuck," Someone calls from somewhere. I couldn't see anymore. "You're talking to the spider. Maybe you should have retired sooner."

"Fuck off," the sweaty man says. He looks at the rest of the workstations and breathes in deeply. "Goodbye." Too quiet for anyone to hear.


April 29, 2023 02:49

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