Daily Prompt #27: Dirty Jobs

“That’s it,” he yelled, “I quit, I’m done — no more.” My friend had just gotten home from work,  red and steaming at the ears, his uniform covered in dirt.

“What’s up,” I asked.

“My boss is a dick and I left. End of story.” He took a seat on the couch and huffed.

“It could always be worse,” I said.

“Here we go, just what I need is another story,” he said, tossing his hand up, letting them drop back down on his lap.

“I’m serious man. Sometimes you need to look at the silver lining of things, like the story of my third shift crew fighting off a hoard of mutant creatures because our boss had neglected to tell us about,” I said.

“Ye—wait what,” he choked.

“Yeah,” I said, “I was one of the guys who fought them off. It was nothing really.”

“Do tell,” he said, distrust in his voice.

“Yeah—well, OH! late September. Yeah, that’s when things went crazy man. It all started one dark and stormy night, you know because it was the third shift and we never saw the light of day…”

“I had just clocked in for my shift when I overheard Randell O’Grady, our maintenance guy, snarling about how the place was falling to pieces. ‘Weird noises all over this place, and they want me to fix it? Not on my pay, no sir,’ he had said.

“I had just graduated high school in the spring and decide to go straight into the workforce, and by the workforce, I mean I found the most hellish looking pit and signed up immediately. Turns out that pit was a stainless steel mill on the outskirts of town.

“This place had everything you’d dislike about a job. Apart from the incidents that happened that night, safety hazards were everywhere, no dust filters to keep the metal particles out of the air (the ones that gives you cancer and nosebleeds), only one break a night, and all the men that had worked there for years made fun of you because you’re the new guy. And, well, I was only eighteen, too.”

“This sounds awful,” my friend moaned, biting his nails with a fearful hue on his face.

“Oh, it gets much better,” I said, looking like a sinister magician with a nasty trick.

“This place was damp, especially when the rain was starting to hit heavily. I had to ride my bike there most days, five miles; luckily, I had a ride that night. All the trouble started when Randall stopped answering his radio.

“It was one o’clock in the morning, just two hours into our shift, and our lead man took charge and rounded us up to go out and search for him, starting with the maintenance bay area. He said he would check the offices for any signs. We never heard from our lead man again that night.”

“Dude, get to the good parts,” he said.

“Patience, I’m getting there,” I said.

“We were scrutinizing the layout of the maintenance area, searching for any signs of the guy, when one of us, an old Vietnam veteran named Mike, noticed the hatch to the bay’s cellar area for the tools was open. I actually watched as he made his descent and didn’t think anything of it. When he came back up, it was a different story entirely.

“His eyes were as wide as oranges, a look of fear plastered on his face as he ran past us, not spouting a word about what he saw, you know, like an asshole. I only call him that because the next thing we know, thousands of these spiny, grayish-black crustaceans seemed to pour out of the cellars single open door in troves of double dozens.

“What the hell–,” my friend said looking confused, but still interested. “What did you do?”

“Well, we knew they were hurt by fire when one of them, crawling over Randell’s desk, touched his mug warmer and started spazzing out. We made good use of the fifty-five-gallon drums of flammable machine lubricant;  it had a pressure sprayer for large milling heads.

“Most of us had always joked how it would make a good flamethrower. I never knew it would have worked that well.”

“Damn man, my boss only made me clean out the back storage room,” he said.

“Well, the guys all agreed to let it go and asked for an exterminator. Needless to say, I had a new job within the month, but not before the roaches attacked the plant,” I said.

My friend looked at me with a blank expression. “Explain,” he said curiously.

“Let’s save that for another time.”

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