It was coming up to three in the morning, and despite the floodlights stretching around the perimeter of the trailer park, it was still dark. It wasn’t the kind of trailer park people lived in. It was the kind where Simone, and very few other people, worked. She hated how dark it was, not that light would have made the job any less unpleasant.
With a well-practiced heave, Simone slammed the doors of a trailer shut. That’s one more done, she thought. In the dim light, various dried fluids shone both glossy and matt against her vulcanised rubber gloves. She slid the bolt through the lock and hooked in the padlock before snapping it shut with a push. She had to take a break before sorting the next trailer, she desperately needed to. But there was no time, there never was. She wretched at the foetid air churning sourly in her lungs.
“You alright, Sim? asked Nye as he locked up a trailer the next row along. He’d been doing this for longer than her and, to her great distaste, actually enjoyed it somehow.
“That’s one more down,” he announced cheerily. “
Simone nodded and didn’t say anything. She never spoke much when she had to work long shifts. It was something to endure and hope to never go through again. Of course, that would never happen. Of that she was certain.
She retched again as she approached the next trailer. Her supervisor said this one was particularly bad. The whole thing had been badly damaged in the incident meaning that everything inside needed to be sorted and resealed. The corners of the trailer had been rounded by multiple impacts and a couple of cracks and splits on the side oozed a thick shiny sludge. The trailer doors opened with a low scraping sound. She gagged at the smell.
“It’s okay Sim. They can’t hurt you,” Nye said smiling behind his mask.
“I bloody hope not,” she said half joking half not. “Why couldn’t they have just burned it down or something? I mean, look at this shit!”
“I heard there’s more coming too. The company’s taken on another contract, some ritzy private clinic.”
“Great,” said Simone, “now the rich buggers want to dump their shit here too.”
“Yep, moving up.”
“I feel classier already,” Sim laughed but her jollity was short lived. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take Nye. How do you do it?”
Nye shrugged. “I just can’t afford to care anymore,” he gave Simone a serious look, “and neither can you.”
Simone smiled at this and turned up her headlight, revealing the trailer’s innards. Racks lining the walls had come loose, so too had the containers attached to them.
She grabbed a stiff bristle brush from her cart and stepped into the trailer, the floor was soft, spongey, and very wet. She felt a fist close around her gut as the smell of rot dissolved into the membranes of her nose and throat. She swept aside a large cloying pile of the wet glutinous substance that had coated every surface and inspected the state of the racks. The whole thing will have to be sent to engineering.
A blackened length of something hung from a rack above her, dangling inches from her face. It was about two feet long, ending in a rounded mass attached longer but also quite rounded stumps. Fingers, must be an arm, she thought. The thing was a splotchy grey black save for the gelatinous white fluid forcing itself through the already over stretched skin. Manoeuvring awkwardly between fallen racks, she stepped on something hard, not metal hard but hard enough. It burst beneath her feet.
How was it, she wondered, that people like Nye could just get on with this? What does he know that she doesn’t? Was he taking something, did he know a special meditation technique that made him immune to all this ugliness. That was unlikely. The only person Nye ever spoke to, apart from Simone, was Doug, their supervisor. And Doug, though not naïve, was far too straight for drugs and too old fashioned for meditation.
The three of them were close, the kind of close that grew from their lifelong three way rally of saving each other’s skin. None of them remember who saved who first, only that it was something they did now; part of the job.
It was an activist group that had turned the trailer park into such a mess. They called themselves Reco-warriors, self proclaimed divine agents who rescued the desecrated according to Doug’s knowledge.
“They didn’t do a very good job this time,” Simone called to Nye.
“Do they ever?” Nye poked his head out from a hole in the side of his trailer. “I mean look at all this,” he threw out a leaking bag of orange brown slop, it smelled off rotten eggs and old fish.
“Watch it idiot! Don’t throw that stuff around!”
“Sim calm down. With all the mandatory vaccines we get from the company, I can drink a pint of this and not get sick.”
Sim knew this was true, she wasn’t unreasonable, she just didn’t want Nye throwing bags of rotten blood everywhere. “Vaccinations don’t fight toxins genius. Now cut it out.”
They continued working in silence for several hours until a loud pop behind them broke their gory monotony. Cautious but not alarmed, they stepped out of their trailers. There was the sound of someone struggling a few trailers down. Another noise, louder than before, something heavy hitting metal. It came again, and again and again.
Simone and Nye walked towards each other into the path between their trailers. They looked in the direction of all the noise. Shadows twisted and jittered before them. A figure appeared.
It didn’t take them long to realise what was happening. They knew this was coming. It always did, they just never knew when.
The figure drew nearer, its features clarifying beneath the floodlights. It was a young man, shotgun cradled in his arm. Simone knew him and so did Nye. Justin, or at least that’s the name they knew him by. A dangerous man, a fact he proved every time he visited. It was from this man and all his kind that Simone, Nye and Doug had continued to save each others skin.
“Morning Simone, Nye,” he said.
Simone and Nye nodded.
“Sorry to call so early. You’re up anyway I suppose,” Justin said laughing. “Just another job for you guys really isn’t it?”
They nodded again.
“It’s funny isn’t it. I mean, here we are, living and working in perfect harmony,” Justin closed his eyes and twirled his fingers above his head. “Jobs for us equals jobs for you, my job feeds your job and your job, done correctly, keeps me in my job,” he clapped his hands and laughed hysterically. Simone and Nye did not join in.
Justin straightened himself and brought his hands to his mouth, dabbing his fingertips on his lips. “Could you guys come... help us with this one?”
Simone and Nye followed Justin to where they’d heard the noise. The trailer had been defaced and a large crucifix had been painted on its side. At the base of it lay the remains of a man. Thin wisps of steam drifted from the bottom half of his head while the top half lay all around him in wet shiny clumps.
“Just pop him in with the others if you can please, thank you,” said Justin.
Simone and Nye bent down to pick up the body and hauled the body towards the trailer Simone had been inspecting. Justin followed them, until the stench forced him to stay back. Simone and Nye put the body down, their hands were shaking.
“You two are so kind,” Justin smiled coldly at them. “You want to speak to him?”
Simone nodded, Nye didn’t move.
“Here you go,” Justin handed her his phone. It was already calling.
“Hello?” a voice rasped.
She knew the voice, “Hey Doug,” she said trembling, “you alright?”
“Fine, just sick of this shit.” A sharp crack sounded and Doug said no more. Justin snatched the phone back before Doug could reply.
“Alright, you know the drill,” said Justin adjusting his grip on the shotgun, “you’ve got a week to clear it out, someone will come, do a sweep, make sure we’re clean, we let Doug go and we’re dandy, yes?”
Simone and Nye nodded.
“Great,” Justin smiled. “I can’t remember who’s collateral next time,” Justin tapped his lip with a finger, “well, it doesn’t matter. We’ll sort it out when it comes,” he waved them goodbye, turned and walked away.
It didn’t matter to anyone else but them who was taken next. And so long as they always did what Justin said, it didn’t matter to them either.
They waited until Justin left the trailer park. Once they were sure he was gone, they trudged back to the trailer they put the body and closed it, carefully.
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