I sniffed the air and wrinkled my nose, rolling up my window. Farms were the worst place to work. Hated going to them, hated apple picking, hated everything about them except the food that eventually got to my mouth.
I took a look at the fence as I drove up the long driveway. It was broken right through the middle, lots of chunks splintered about. I smiled, already putting pieces together.
Janice, the proprietor of this establishment, came out to meet me as I pulled up and stepped out of my van into the fetid night air. Her white hair spoke one story, while her solid walk and physique told another. I knew Janice by acquaintance and had been referred to her for her current problem.
“How ah’ you this evening sir?” she drawled, wearing a cap despite there being no sun left. I swore to god if she spit tobacco, I would turn around and leave.
“Evening, Ms. Janice. I heard you had a problem with some pests,” I said to her in my most polite, yet ‘let’s hurry this along’ southern comfort that I could muster.
“Mmmhmmm,” she purred. She was dragging this out for sure. “Got someone breaking my fences, letting my animals out. Slaughtered one or two. It’s costing me plenty,” she said.
Oh great, the haggling had already started.
“Well,” I hitched my pants up in my most professional pose. “It looks like you’ve got a case of the goatman for sure. Splinters on the fence I saw on the way in, trampled dirt, murdered animals.”
Janice pondered over this for a moment, looking off and to the right.
“I can’t pay much you know, I’ve got feed to buy coming up soon,” she said.
“Well, you’re going to have less feed to buy if you don’t have a big stock of animals to sell,” I countered.
“You sure it’s a goatman? I haven’t heard of them in these parts for quite some time,” she said. I groaned inwardly.
“I can take a closer look, but you’ve got all the signs of it. If you want me to do a full inspection, that costs…” I said.
“No no,” she interrupted. “I’ll pay for the goatman removal, that’s fine. I trust your judgment in these matters,” she smiled.
“Well…,” I said, a bit stunned, “I’ll start tonight.”
I expected a bit of a fight from Janice, but perhaps my friend put in a good work for me. I pushed for quality over nickel and diming. It saved on haggling. If the person went too low in price, I just packed up. The price per arrangement was more than enough to hold me over and put a chunk into retirement. My specialty was both in demand and low in supply.
After writing the check and signing the usual non-disclosure forms, she huddled away into her house. I highly recommended customers didn’t sit around to watch the work: too many liabilities and a lot more paperwork. Honestly, here in the South, I think it’s the paperwork alone that keeps them indoors. Southerner’s are a curious folk.
I took another look at the fence before setting up the wires and traps. The fence was so goddamn old, I couldn’t make out all the marks, but the splinters around it said angry goatman to me. Not that there’s any other type besides an angry goatman.
A few short hours later, I was holed up in the barn, listening to the crickets sing their love, pounding my first energy drink of the night. It stank less in here, kept clean and half full of machinery. Expensive machinery. I could have charged double for this job.
The boredom ticked away at my sanity as I waited, screwing around on my phone with some offline games. No internet connection for me, despite the satellite dish and Janice’s wi-fi signal sitting right there. It was rude to ask for a password if they didn’t offer one.
The first sound I heard was the crunching at the door. The lights were dimmed, but I was ready to flick them on full blast once it was in. The door rattled and slowly opened. It slipped in, almost double my six-foot frame.
But where was its axe?
Shadows shivered back and forth, and I triggered the trap, the door shutting behind it and the lights going full blast.
A large hunched creature stood before me on all fours. Spines were coming out of its back, reaching for the arched ceiling of the farm house. It turned on me and wailed, its blood red eyes narrowed and locked onto me, but its empty and massive nasal passage really pointing the way.
Unholy Gods, a chupacabra.
It stepped in the second trap. I was almost too late in triggering it, fumbling with the switch and flicking it. The netting went up and around it, dragging it to the ceiling in one swoop, the spines scraping against the metal roofing.
“I am nothing if not prepared,” I said to the creature, although it was too dumb to understand. “Always use the double reinforced cable netting, even if you’re just catching a goatman.” I began assembling the cage below. Portability was the wonder of the future.
Scrabbling above me got my attention. The chupacabra was chewing through my very expensive wire netting, one strand at a time.
“What do they even feed you…oh,” the blocks falling into place. That’s why Janice hadn’t fought me on the inspection. A glance at the animals would have shown chupacabra activity, bodies drained of blood. And, of course, nearly triple the goddamn price.
It dropped from the ceiling, and I had only a second to roll out of the way. It fell heavily to the ground, nearly impaling me on its spikes. It began to trash in the remaining netting. I rushed to the switch, popped the locked door open again, and grabbed my emergency bag, dumping it on the ground and pushing things out of the way.
The creature screeched triumphantly.
“What the FUCK?”
Startled, I turned around, to find Janice in the doorway, her eyes wide. The chupacabra only a dozen feet away. It crouched down, its front low and it’s back high, pushing its spines out to the limit and wriggling its behind for a moment before springing into the air.
The front half of the creature was nothing but gore and my ears were ringing from the sound of the explosive shells finding their mark.
Janice dripped with chupacabra juices. Finally, something that smelled worse than her farm.
I picked up my supplies as Janice stood still, her mouth moving but no words coming out. Taking a last look around, I patted her arm.
“Nice equipment you have Janice, real high-quality stuff you have,” I said. “It’s double for all future contracts for not releasing pertinent details, read your contract.” I didn’t tell her how hard it was to get the smell out of her clothes.
“You have a nice night now, Janice,” I smiled to myself as I rolled away in my van.