June wandered from her bedroom to investigate the noise.
Cat calls and fox whistles heralded June when she reached the laundry room.
Three sharply dressed men were in the laundry room. They were inspecting the washer and dryer, taking measurements of the walls and ceiling, inspecting every corner. The men had embroidered on their sleeves a letter S in yellowish green thread.
“Hey there, Pajama Mama!” said one of the men. He was a particularly slick young man in a grey silk business suit. “This is a nice place ya got,” he said as he eyed June.
June was not amused.
“Um, can I help you?” June said finally.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said smiling and offered his hand. It had many rings. “Name’s Ray. Here’s my card.”
The card read: Rayford Dusk; Pest Control Investigator.
“Hello, Ray,” said June, “Please tell me why you’re here?”
“Yeah, we’re lookin’ for someone,” said Ray, “Ya know, it’s been all over the news? About new bug peoples? ‘Enzecto-whatevas.'”
The other men laughed.
“Yeah… We’re here to catch it. Our sensors say it was sent though this here portal generator.”
June’s first thought was to yell at the men to return from whence they came. Then she noticed the suits looked the exact same. Like a dress code. Her heart told her they would not leave so easily.
“I’m sorry, boys. My house only has regular bugs,” said June.
“That so? We heard you are related to the Enzecto we’re tracking. She’s especially dangerous and may return here.”
A light suddenly turned on in June’s mind. These men were authorized to hunt Enzectozoids. June remembered the news talking about that new bill addressing the new Enzectozoid threat. She needed to get them away from the portal generator.
June tried to stay calm.
“Can I offer you any coffee?”
Ray looked at his men, who were still calculating on their devices.
“Yeah. That, uh, sounds nice.”
Fresh brewed coffee was served in June’s kitchen. The three men sat at the table drinking their coffee and eating cookies June had made two days ago.
Ray finished his coffee, took out a comb and casually slicked his hair back.
“Last week we got a call from a…uh,”
He wiped the comb down with a napkin, and returned it to a pocket inside his dress coat. Then from the same pocket he pulled out a piece of paper.
“Mr. Swanson,” he read from the paper, “Yeah, Jorge Swanson. He said his wife turned into a five-foot-two, humanoid, preying mantis. With razor sharp. Lightening fast. Retractable blades on each hand and forearm.”
Ray folded up the paper.
“He said after his wife’s transformation she tried to kill him.”
June folded her arms. She remembered Jorge. Why Victoria loved him was beyond her. June could have predicted that Jorge would sell out his own wife.
“Is Victoria the only one you’re after?” asked June.
Ray gave her a funny look.
“Yeah, Victoria Swanson is the only one we’re tracking from your house,” said Ray slowly. “We’ve been busy with other reports of killer bug people.”
Ray signaled to his men and they got up from the table. June sighed relief and cursed under her breath at the same time. Had she just turned the portal generator back to Channel 5, Victoria would not have been hunted. But they had not been able to track Whartleburg.
“One more thing, and we’ll go,” said Ray, “I admit we’ve seen a lotta things on the job. A teleportation device isn’t something we see everyday. We already know your sister escaped through it, but I doubt she’s the one who built it. I don’t think she’s the tech type. I suspect you didn’t build it. Which makes me suspicious as who did.”
June was silent.
“Jorge Swanson contacted us because the police would not believe him. Not even after showing the deep gash on his left forearm. It cost him six stitches,” said Ray. “You see, these Enzecto-things cannot be negotiated with. You can’t make peace with them.”
“My sister. Would never intentionally hurt her husband,” June managed to say, “And she loves her only nephew.”
“Victoria Swanson is no longer your sister,” said Ray. “She’s an assassin bug. In the end, she will kill you and your son. Believe me, I don’t want that. Tell us where she is, and we’ll leave you alone.”
Something in the back made a loud noise. Ray and his men turned their heads toward the direction of the laundry room.
“Did you leave the portal generator still on Channel 3?” asked Ray to one of his men.
“Uh, oops,” said the first man.
“The lady offered coffee,” said the second man, “Who can refuse coffee?”
“Holy Basil,” said Ray, “Something creeped in.”
It was their job to investigate scary situations. Ray made June promise she would stay in the kitchen. He then left with his men to investigate the noise in the laundry room.
Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?