Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

The exterminator wipes his brow, pockets his grease-stained handkerchief, and checks his tablet again.

“Yeah. We don’t see a lot of these. If I’m honest, they told us about these in class, but I swore the instructor was pulling our legs. Pranking us. You know? That it was a joke to see which of us was naïve enough to believe the story.”

He pauses, pulls the handkerchief, and wipes his sweaty brow again. I wonder idly if he has some hormone regulation problem with all the sweating.

“You have a wormhole, my friend.”

I hate it when service workers call me ‘friend.’ I feel like a scam is forthcoming once they transition to folksy mode.

Also, I don’t have worms. I’ve never heard of anyone having worms in their house.

“I think you’re mistaken. I don’t have worms. It sure as hell wasn’t a worm that bit Rex and did that,” I say, jabbing a thumb over my shoulder to point to my poor rottweiler. His belly is so distended from the bite that he can barely walk.

“I didn’t say you had worms; I said you have a wormhole.”

He pauses and looks for some sign of understanding in my eyes. Whatever distinction he is alluding to, is lost on me.

“You don’t have worms. You have a wormhole. That’s what physicists call them. These bugs aren’t local fellows. They ain’t from these parts.”

This man has lost his mind.

“Wormholes? Like rips in spacetime?”

Why am I bothering with any of this? I should kick this guy to the curb and call an exterminator who isn’t crazy.

“More like a tunnel. One from a distant galaxy usually. They usually aren’t very stable and will collapse inward upon themselves shortly after forming. But this one seems to be stable. And from the bug scat, we found in the attic, it’s been stable for some time now. Frankly, I’m a little surprised that you didn’t see one of these critters before now.”

I want to break this man. To crush him with my superior intellect. But something is bugging me.

“How long?”

He looks at me blankly.

“How long, would you say…, if you had to guess. How long has my wormhole been here?”

The two-syllable word sits like a dead fish in my mouth.

“Well, this is all theoretical, you understand?”

I nod. The realization that I just signed up for a whole course in crazy crosses my mind. It’s too late to kick him out now.

“Of course,” I sigh. As if I could sue him for breach of contract over some unprovable claim about the lifespan of stable wormholes.

“I would say…,”

He hesitates again.

“Please, tell me already. I’ve got things to do.”

“Okay. Well, from the looks of things in the attic and outside, I’d…,” 

“Wait. Outside? What do you mean outside?”

“For this type of infestation, I had to check the surroundings outside your house. To see if they had spread.”

He pauses and wipes his brow again, and I want to scream at him.


“That little strand of woods across the back of your property line? They seem to have made it that far, but I have to report this to the authorities.”

I grimace. He’s really selling this shakedown. And his demeanor is so disarming.

“To answer your earlier question, I’d say this wormhole has been here for centuries, possibly longer.”

Yep, crazier than an outhouse rat.

“But the house is only thirty years old.”

“As far as you’re concerned, that wormhole was always here.” 

I sigh again. I don’t have the energy for this today.

“Your contractor just built your house around it. Another crazy coincidence. I can’t imagine how much danger they were in the whole time they were building this,” he says, looking appreciatively at my kitchen ceiling.

“Okay, how much?”

I want to be done with this. I don’t have time to look for the scam here. I’ll just pay him and then put this craziness behind me.

He looks confused.

“To fix this. To make this wormhole go away? How much?”

He studies the ceiling again. I guess that is where the spacetime door is in my house. Then it dawns on me: he’s not studying my kitchen, he’s afraid.

“How much? To fix a wormhole? Oh, I get it. You think I’m scamming you. Don’t you?”

I raise my eyebrows. This is the only confirmation he needs. 

“Screw this. I’m out of here. I didn’t believe in them either…, before. Before this,” he says, gesturing around my kitchen.

What if he’s not scamming me and this is real?

“Wait. No, please. I’m sorry, I’m just upset about my dog, Rex. Please, help me. I’ll make it worth your while. How many of these wormholes have you eliminated?” I have no idea why I didn’t ask this earlier.

He looks around blankly.

“Please,” I say.

“Honestly, this is my first one. As I said, I thought they were fake.”

The thought returns. 

This guy must be scamming me. No doubt.

“Show me. Please. My end of this wormhole. Now, please.”

I’m not asking him to show me, I’m telling him. He’s shaking me down, playing on my fear of bugs. I’m about to kick him out of my house.

I breathe out, waiting for his inevitable excuse for not showing me something in my home.

“Sure. I’m happy to do that; I would love for someone else to see it. Just so I know I’ve not lost my mind.”

There it is again. That nagging sense of authentic fear. If there isn’t something awry in my attic, then this man is in the wrong occupation; he should have been an actor.


We make our way up the creaky ladder one at a time. He goes first, muttering his way up the wobbly wooden rungs.

When he steps into the cramped space, he falls silent immediately.

 “What is it?” 

I want to say his name, but it is gone from my mind.

He doesn’t answer. I see him stooping there, shaking, afraid. 

Okay, that’s enough of these theatrics. What the hell is wrong with me? I’m not a naïve man. I recognize when I’m being sold something false. 

I storm up the ladder, ready to end this once and for all.

He says something that I can’t hear. 

I stop halfway up the ladder.

“What did you say?” 

A little louder this time.

“Do. Not. Come. Up. Here.”

Yeah, he missed his calling. He should’ve been an actor.

I remember opening my front door earlier and seeing his name stitched with red thread on a white background. That was an hour ago, but it feels like years to me. Hank.

“Sorry, Hank. I’m coming up.”

“Please, don’t.”

Then I hear some scuttling. It’s probably a startled rat. Oddly, I’m not scared of rats. Bugs freak me out, but not rats.

My head breaks the plane of the attic floor. 

The first thing I see is Hank pissing his pants. I hear it first. Then I glance down at his shoes and see the urine running down his legs.

Then I see them. There are at least three of them. Each one is as large as a small dog.

No wonder Rex has been so anxious since the attack.

I guess you could call them bugs. They have at least sixteen thick, shiny black legs. Each look to have several mouths. One placed forward like a conventional mouth. But there are three more on the back carapace. A translucent set of wings which I pray are for show only lay motionless against their bodies.

Then I see it. The wormhole itself is a glowing column of light, pulsating, throbbing rhythmically, and emitting an unnatural orange light into my attic. This is my first trip up here because of how much I hate bugs. The aperture of the tunnel is slowly dilating and contracting, as though it were a breathing orifice. It swells between twelve and sixteen inches I estimate.

My legs begin to knock. The squeaking of the ladder sounds very loud to my ears. I’m in a precarious position here. The only thing between me and three of the scariest nightmare bugs ever is Hank.

My prayers regarding the wings are rejected outright when all three of the monster bugs alight and fly straight at Hank.

The jaws are filled with razor-sharp teeth. Everything about them is black. Ichor drips from their mouth. When the viscous drool hits the attic beams, the wood smolders.

Hank falls under the deluge of wormhole bugs. My bladder threatens to spill its contents when I see the mouths on the backs taking chunks out of my exterminator.

The man I was convinced was scamming me, falls to the floor. He’s either dead or passed out.

The three bugs, acting in concert, begin dragging his dying or dead body toward the wormhole. One of the bugs acts as a loading ramp to move Hank up the foot and half to the mouth of the thing. 

The aperture opens wider.

No way. No way. No way.

Hank’s foot, still dripping urine, slides into the hole with a wet plop. The tube begins sucking him in. I can hear the crushing of his bones as it swallows him whole like a boa constrictor swallowing a rabbit. 

I pray that Hank is dead. 

I reach up and lower the attic door. I scoot down the ladder as quickly and as quietly as I can.

I need to call Hank’s company. They’re going to need to know about this.

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