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The Cleaner

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It's a quiet normal-looking suburban neighbourhood. I hate it when my work brings me places that remind me of my own home. It doesn't make what I do easy, then again this job isn't meant to be easy. I park my van in front of the house, a decent cookie cutter two story, nothing special. I look down at my watch, it's 0530, I'm right on time. I take a sip of my coffee, I need to be alert, there can't be any mistakes. I glance in my rear views to make sure no one's wandering the streets, I was made once, it got really messy, but I was a rookie then I've gotten good at this.

Once I'm sure the coast is clear I step out of my van carrying a large duffel. I stop for a second to check my reflection in the window, I straighten my tie and brush some dust off my shoulders. Professionalism is key, professionalism is the cornerstone of success. That's what they drilled into me during my training for this job. I approach the front door, there's no need to knock, no one will answer. I take a lock picking device from my duffel and easily open the door and push it open.

The smell immediately hits me, it's not a strange smell, I'm quite used to it by now. The iron-like stench of blood mixed with a scent akin to rotted meat. It's not pleasant but it no longer bothers me. There are two bodies in the living room, teenage girls, probably sixteen or seventeen. Mangled and disfigured, one is draped grotesquely over the couch her mouth open in a silent scream, one eye is popped the other staring blankly upward, there is a stab wound in her stomach.

The attacker had pulled the knife downward spilling her entrails across the couch and floor. The other girl is tangled in her bloodied sleeping bag, there are multiple puncture wounds across her body and face. I take out my camera and snap a quick picture before shutting and locking the door behind me.

There's another body on the stairs, male, late thirties, brown hair. He must have been on his way down to investigate the screams, whatever killed him didn't take its time, his throat was slashed, a fallen baseball bat lay at the bottom of the stairs. I pick it up examining it, he tried to protect his family, but against something he didn't even believe existed until it killed him.

I feel a brief ping of admiration for the poor man, most would be frozen by fear by what they saw, at least he put up a display of resistance futile as it was. I snap another photo and cross into the dining room leaving the upstairs for last. The final teenager was displayed on the table spreadeagle, her head had been sliced off and placed on her naked stomach. Her hands and feet were also removed, the eyes had been popped out and replaced with small gold coins. I shook my head, why was ignorance so harshly punished?

I snap a few photos before I head upstairs. I check the master bedroom first. One body, female, mid to late thirties, she was in the closet obviously hiding, like the adult male she'd been killed quickly by three puncture wounds, two in the stomach final in the temple. I take another photo before continuing into the bathroom. I'm surprised by the lack of evidence, normally that's where everything started, then I figure there must be something I missed in the living room.

I head back down to do an additional sweep of the living room, being careful not to step on the bodies. Behind the couch was an additional bathroom, with a large ornate mirror. Candles had been set up around it as well as a Ouija board. I roll my eyes, why don't these kids ever learn?

It's sad really, no one deserves this. I decide to change in here for the clean up. I shut the door, stripping out of my suit and tie and pulling on a hazmat suit and gasmask. Along with the hazmat suit I also grab a large variety of cleaning chemicals and finally a silenced pistol. I've only had to draw three times, fired it once. I hate arriving early to a scene, the first time I did I saw one of them.

The monsters I clean up after, he was crouched over the bed of his victim having just finished his role. It turned to me with its vicious smile. I drew my weapon and pointed it at its head. Maybe I could've killed him, or maybe he would've killed me, either way a monster would've died. But neither of us did anything as much as we despised each other's roles, he recognized my necessity and I followed my orders. "Do not engage the entity."

I get to work cleaning, it's difficult and painstaking. Scrubbing blood out of carpets, bagging the bodies, removing all traces of whatever happened. Collecting and labeling evidence, most days I question why I do this. Is it so we can learn about these things before we eventually and hopefully kill them? Or is it simply to keep certain events out of the public eye? The mantra is "don't know, don't care."

But it's hard to follow when I look at the fresh-faced girl as I zip the body bag shut. What kind of person was she? What kind of person would she have become? Surely no one deserves this, I close her eyes, it's against protocol to touch the bodies but it seems the least I can do.

There is a sudden knock at the door and I freeze. I slowly approach it weapon drawn praying that it's not the police. The only time I discharged my weapon was on a police officer, I hadn't secured the scene properly, it was my fault I had to kill him. I'm relieved when the voice is that of an elderly woman, likely a neighbour, she won't attempt to kick down the door. She knocks one more time before leaving. I holster my weapon relieved and return to my grim never-ending task. Finally it's done. The bodies are laid out on the living room floor in air tight bags, the rest of the house looks like it could be from a picture in a home sale magazine.

It's pristine, maybe I should become a realtor if I end up getting to retire. I strip off my hazmat gear and back into my suit. I adjust the tie in the mirror. Professionalism is key. I check my watch, it's only just turned noon, I carefully pack everything back into my duffel and exit out the back making sure all the doors and windows are locked.

Every day I have to wonder to myself if I'm any better than the monsters that make the messes I clean up after, no I don't kill innocent people but I cover up their deaths. In a about an hour an additional team will arrive and take the bodies to an undisclosed location to do god knows what with them.

Ever wonder why certain crimes, especially relating the paranormal, never make headlines? That's because of me and one hundred and thirty others like me. It's a dark and lonely life, I've never met any of my colleagues so I have no support group no one I can relate to. Interacting at a social event is painful because every time I go to a bar, or a party, or on a date, or just have a beer with a friend I can't stop thinking. What if they're next...

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