Long before the time of humans, the cities of earth were built and ruled by tiny creatures now commonly known as “bugs.”
Like the bugs of today, the old bugs thrived wherever they found heat, water, earth, and decay. But there was a difference. The old bugs were at the top of the food chain. They had no fear of extermination, because they were a lot bigger than their amoebic neighbors.
Then something very bad happened. The bugs became hooked on sports like “bugsaball,” which fooled the bugs into believing that their mass city swarms were alive; like the city itself had an identity.
As it goes, “They faked it, until they made it…” and after millions of years the fiction of these living cities finally sprang to life like Pinocchio.
And multi-cellular organisms were born.
The old bugs were OK with controllable city creatures like lizards, fish, and chickens, but they were horrified their cities began to form humans.
Humans labeled as “pests,” because they were too big and too smart to be controlled. In an act of desperation, the old bugs developed a warrior class dedicated to the hunting and killing of humans.
We now call those blood-sucking warriors “bedbugs.”
For thousands of years (before humans gained the power of memory) these blood-sucking warriors exterminated humans by the millions. Our bodies still remember the carnage the bedbugs inflicted on us. That fear is now embodied in the character of the vampire.
In spite of their size, the bedbugs of old were able to hunt and kill humans for one reason. They had a special weapon. They used a magic spell, which translates roughly as “EEOeueTUtu8” when spoken aloud. When the spell was cast, the bedbug warriors were made “invisible” to humans. There is no better word to describe it really. The spell cloaked the bedbugs from the perception of humans.
Of course, we now this spell simply as “sleeping,” but that was a long time ago and “sleeping” was more mysterious then.
Bedbugs would have ruled the earth forever if it weren’t for a brave woman warrior (with a strange love for the bugs) who discovered how to track and hunt the bugs that were made to hunt her.
Her name was unpronounceable in English. The sound translates roughly as “4.9.” And she was a badass.
She tracked the old human hunters by:
(1) checking her bedding for spotting, little black dots in a cluster
(2) looking for moltings, or the skins the bugs shed five times (one after every full meal) as they moved in life from egg to adulthood.
(3) using her stupid brother’s fire stick to check her bedding.
And most importantly, Badass 4.9 learned to harness her imagination to see beyond the spell. She could feel them when they were close, and she learned to overturn the rocks and dig behind the roots near her bed.
Once the humans realized that the bedbugs didn’t vanish into some other dimension and become invisible when they hid, crawling out of sight and mind during the active daytime hours, the bugs didn’t have a chance.
The humans began to hunt and destroy the bugs that hunted them, and the byproduct of the hunt was the strange, reflective experience we know call “consciousness.”
And that’s how it happened. If it weren’t for the first exterminator, Badass 4.9, the bugs would still be sucking us dry.
My name is Jake. I’m a bedbug destroyer, and I’m telling this story today for a specific reason. A woman called me to inspect her home for the Old Human Hunters the other day. As I inspected, I discovered that she was an artist and a real deal “unicorn” local. She knew a lot about the city and had interesting stories to share, but the conversation I enjoyed the most was our nice, long chat about bedbugs.
She really knew her stuff. She had a bed with almost no cracks, and the cracks that her bed did have were either taped or sealed. Her box spring and mattress had covers and she was using the same brand of climb ups I use in the field. And she’d done her homework. She knew our old enemy the bedbug well. Overall I felt like I was talking shop with a pro.
I didn’t find any signs of bedbug activity that day, but I did find something very special. I found a new talent, a fellow human with the potential to be a great Bug Hunter and Destroyer someday.
I could be wrong…but I don’t think I am. Someday, when humans finally emerge from the dark age of shame and fear based pest control, we will celebrate the efforts of hunters like Cynthia.
After all, the only thing the blood suckers need to rise to power again is for good people to fall asleep…and pretend the threat isn’t real. There are tiny monsters that bite under our bed, and humans need to remain vigilant and fight them. The fate of the world depends on it.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SERVICE STORY (Reviewed on Thumbtack) –
“I cannot say enough great things about Jake. Extremely professional and personal. He got right to work identifying the pest (rats). He identified where they were most likely getting in, set traps, and when he came back a week later it was total success (got’m!). He reset the traps again and let them sit for another week to make sure there were no more and after that, sealed up the entry points so we’re all good going forward.”
Produced for Evan E of Beaverton, Oregon on Sept. 9, 16, and 24th 2019
I am Wilderness Security Guide, the Environmental Control Operator for Storysold: Pest Control, and this service is my story –
Dear Evan, after a nice long read of your home territory I decided that the easy answer was the easy answer. Here’s the entry hole where the rat was getting through >
Near the entry hole I found a few “snack spot” piles of droppings leading towards the heater adjacent to the garage, where you reported the activity >
The top of the heater duct has a lot more droppings, because this is where the rat sat and ate his dog food after he raided your garage.
I would describe the entry point from
the top of the duct into the garage as a “Tom-and-Jerry hole.” It’s clearly the
Based on my powers of deduction and the signs I found, the scratching in your wall was the sounds of a rat nesting in insulation. The inaccessible parts of your crawlspace, which I can see (but not crawl into) have been targeted because rats like insulation to nest in.
The little voice in Jake’s head said, “Don’t worry. You can outrun them.”
The fact that the rats are active in
the insulation could mean we’re dealing with a family of rats. Not sure yet.
Time will tell.
In any case, my action plan is pretty
straightforward. I believe I should do my trapping service roughly every week,
until we know the rats have left your home…and then I’ll fix the vent and the
hole in the garage.
And that’s that. I’m excited to see
how it plays out. I definitely feel like we have a good beginning…now all we
need is for the rats to fall in my traps and sacrifice themselves for the good
of your home.
CHAPTER 2: The First Follow Up Service
After a few words of hello, I suited
up and popped down into your crawl to check my traps. As always, I was filled
with a mixture of dread mixed with a little hope, but not too much. I’m not
superstitious—not really—but I do believe too much hope and optimism can be
contagious, and I’d hate for the rats to catch it…and fail to fall hopelessly
into my traps.
The traps next to the bandit hole in
the garage were both tripped, and the dog food was missing. “Shit!” the
bastard’s figured my traps. “Now I have to go back up there and tell Evan we
lost this round…”
I turned around on my belly and low
crawled to the traps I set in front of the insulation with signs of nesting.
The rat had either (a) died in my trap and dragged it into the part of the
crawlspace I couldn’t go, or (b) pushed it over the ledge because I failed to
secure it properly. In any case, I still was not finding dead rats in traps.
“Alack!” I cried inside. “I better
start thinking of good excuses…”
Then I crawled to the main entry
point, the dryer vent, and saw that the rat had torn my bag block/marker to
“Great,” I sighed. “He breezed
through my traps and escaped footloose and fancy free into the moonlight!”
Then I turned around, faced the traps
I set between the hole and the dog food supply, and made eyes with one, very
I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help
it. I was glad I got him. There’s nothing more wild and natural than engaging
in the age-old dance of predator and prey. On that day, I was the hunter and
that guy was my prey.
CHAPTER 3: The Textbook 3 Service Finale
know if there were more, so I reset my traps, added a few, and put a nice
rat-sized pile of dog food next to my food supply trap.
Then I returned
a week later after many pest control adventures.
This time, I was even a little
hopeful. Nor did I feel dread. For some reason, I just knew it was a one rat
job. In the crawl, all my traps were untouched, the marker was unmoved, and the
pile of dog food was uneaten. Rats are sneaky, but not that sneaky. Evan’s home
My reward (the real gravy) was the
privilege of popping back down into the crawl to redraw The Magic Territorial Line around Evan’s home with a sign of
strength the rodents of Beaverton understand >
“Scratch all you like rat!” it says. “I hope you like the feel of cold steel!”
The photo doesn’t show it, but I experienced a 41 year old first that day. I wrapped that dryer duct with duct tape after I fitted it securely to its end that had been hanging by a wire.
“Eureka! I get it!” I smiled as I
worked to wall off the garage hole behind the hot water heater with more steel
and foam. “It’s not ‘duck’ tape. It’s ‘duct’ tape, because HVAC guys use it to
fit ducts together!”
The nest in your tree was started by a single queen who overwintered with her workers, until mid-May when The Action began…
nest takes shape, and soon the workers emerge in mid-July. Even though they’re
helpful predators that feed on flies, catepillars, and spiders, the hornet
(which is actually a species of yellow jacket wasp) are not good neighbors.
They defend their queen and colony like a band of insane ninja warriors:
stinging invaders repeatedly and launching their secret weapon…shooting venom
in the eyes of any vertebrates who dare wander too close to their lair.
where Jake from Storysold: Pest Control entered the scene. Using a ladder, a
bucket, pruners, and his bee suit, Jake lopped the nest from the tree—and
quickly contained it in the bucket.
what?” Jake thought to himself. “What do you do with a bucket full of hundreds
of bald faced hornets?”
liked the idea of releasing them upon one of his unsuspecting enemies, but he
didn’t have any that he knew of…so he tried something novel…
still water created by Jake’s neighbor the beaver made for spiders everywhere.
It may be a bad trade in The End, but
he released the nest of hornets in the natural area that bordered his home.
The little voice in Jake’s head said, “Don’t worry. You can
Not so. Those suckers are fast! And Jake cried, “Ah _____!”
all the way home.
I’ve never known any operators who’ve tried this. Who knows how the relocated nest will take to their new spot? It’s an experiment for sure.
“We had an awesome experience with Story Sold! Jake was just amazing to work with. He is knowledgeable, professional, kind and quite funny! We had a challenging project and he found creative solutions to seal up our garage. It’s been about a month and our garage has clear of rodents thus far! I would highly recommend him.”
Produced on Oct. 17, 24, 29, 31, and Nov 1, 7 2019
by the Flynn family: Brendan, Megan, Kieran, and Riley
Chapter 1: The Ratonauts of Flynn
Somewhere in Portland a rat made its home in a pile of branches. After a few months of suffering its leaky roofs and uninvited house guests—“Darn those Antsis!”—the rat began to dream of a better life.
It stared at the openings in the quiet, uninhabited space beside the human home for months before it worked up the nerve to scamper across the open grass and explore the new territory.
It’s burrow buddies laughed and said, “Timmy Rat was an explorer too. He lit off for new territory last week…and you know what? We haven’t seen Timmy around the pile since!”
“I don’t care,” the rat shot back. “I’m going to find a better home!”
“You can go to the moon for all we care…but don’t say we didn’t warn you!”
And so goes the plight of all astronauts, missionaries, and explorers. If no one is laughing at you, then you’re not on the right track.
A month later that rat was dead—bagged and rotting with Timmy in the bottom of the humans’ green garbage can. Its burrow buddies were right to issue the warning. The natives living in the new territory were not friendly natives. They were hostile, very hostile. In fact, they formed The Garage Liberation Front to deal with the Ratonauts and explorers, any rodent who would seek to make pink insular love nests in their territory.
My name is Jake. I joined The Garage Liberation Front today. It’s led by a fierce homemaker named Brendan. He hired me to be his sidekick.
No, I’m not the explosives expert, nerdy tech guy, or the bumbling comic relief (at least I hope not): I’m the Rat Exclusion Specialist.
And I have a five-step plan of action to liberate Brendan’s garage from the ratonauts and their dreams of insular domesticity:
(1) clear out the attic space, make a pile in front of garage, vacuum and sweep it out, and prep it for disinfection.
(2) exclude the door: gap under sill, gap on top, and give it a proper sweep.
(3) fix L-shaped metal flashing around the interior to exclude and prevent future rat entries. The flashing will be screwed to studs. This includes the sides of the garage door as well.
(4) unearth the foundation along side with a hoe, slide a large piece of metal flashing under siding (without fixing it to concrete or siding with screws or nails), and then cover it back up again with soil. This will prevent them from making holes like this…
(5) exclude all gaps and holes along roofline using metal flashing, foam, and or hardware cloth, especially the one next to the tree in front.
(6) exclude any gaps or holes under siding in back along patio with metal flashing, foam, and or hardware cloth.
(7) replace seal along bottom of garage door, or find something stronger to replace only the ends ** this is a systemic problem with garage doors, and I want to find some way to replace ends with something stronger. We’ll see if inspiration hits before my exclusion day.
(8) use hardware cloth to block interior entry points and possible entry points along top of wall.
(9) Get them. Trap inside garage until we’re satisfied that no rats are left inside. Trap outside for purposes of determining where they live, or where they’re running on their nightly feeding routes.
(10) exclude entry points as needed. My mission is complete exclusion!
(11) Oh yeah, and put everything back in the garage in an orderly manor.
And I must say, it will be a pleasure to serve as your sidekick. I will work hard to make The Flynn Family Garage Liberation Front proud!
Chapter 2: Building The Front
Before I arrived that day I stood in my driveway like a warrior dawning his armor for battle. Hardware cloth, check. Foam and foam gun, check. Metal flashing (2 sizes), check. Leftover squash pizza, check.
Then I set my GPS coordinates to the Flynn family garage and hit the gas, wheeling with the long metal flashing on my roof rack piercing the road before me like a mighty javelin. No matter how great my fear of failure felt inside, there was no turning back now. I was on my way.
After a briefing with Brandon (and a few kind words of encouragement from my leader), I checked my traps not expecting much. It had only been a week, and The Liberation Front had already caught 3 Ratonauts.
No action from the bait I hung in the void. No action from the Volehalla box in the wood pile. No action from the traps on the sides of the door, but the traps in the attic caught 2, and the Volehalla box along the side of the garage caught one. All of them were juveniles, and one was eaten.
I decided to make my next move the attic, because pest control wouldn’t be pest control without a tip of the hat to cleanliness. After The Roman Empire fell, the church ruled Europe–and it took The Plague to convince the church that no, pestilence isn’t always sent by God as a loyalty test. Sometimes it’s just something that happens when we don’t wash our hands with soap.
My original plan was to declutter the attic and vacuum the droppings I found, but (like writing) the story sometimes takes on a life of its own. After I pulled everything down and piled it in the driveway, I looked at the layers of history in the attic and they said, “Clean me.”
So I fit my respirator to my face, hit play on my Oldies mix, and became one with The Attic. Two hours later I emerged feeling satisfied.
I should have took a before shot, but who cares what it looked like before I began? It’s ready for action now!
Next, I decided to tackle the most challenging of the exclusion points: The Wild Side of The Garage where the rats had dug under the half buried dry rotted siding up into the walls to nest in the insulation. I had a plan for it before I began, but (as usual) the well-made plan flew from my brain the moment The Action hit…
As I dug like the rats do, almost immediately I made a discovery that my storyline about the Ratonauts exploring from their home in the woodpile may be more fiction than theory. The dark spot shown in the photo below is a burrow that was leading directly up into the wall.
My solution to the burrowing-from-below problem was a subterranean wall built with hardware cloth and rocks. Lots of rocks.
The next step was to make sure the rocks and hardware cloth stayed firm in place, and then find some way of keeping insulation crazed Ratonauts from exploiting broken pieces of siding and chewing straight into the wall.
I love and hate foam like people love and hate nuclear power. It’s amazing and efficient, but also toxic to produce. Captain Planet wouldn’t approve. He would probably use the self-sustaining gum of the native Gum-Gum Tree or something like that. If only that made cents$.
“We had the first casualty of our conflict, sir,” I said to Brendan when he came out to check how The Front was progressing. “The rats sold all the old red bricks you had piled back here!”
By the time I liberated the side of the garage, I was experiencing what I like to call The Action. Long ago, in another world (back when I was writing and sustaining myself as a professional suds buster/dish master), I used to call it The Dish Zone. What that means is, while I’m in The Action my mind and body have become One Force of Nature 100% dedicated to The Mission. Not too unlike any super power, it comes with a price. My price is, while I’m fighting Ratonauts deep in The Action, I lose my social powers. If I stay too long in The Action, I reply to conversation with grunts.
“Huh?” I’ll grunt. “Can you say that again?”
The photo below shows the notorious corner where most of the rats are engaging their version of The Action. Pest control operators call this place a rat “runway,” but I sometimes like to call it The Rat’s Feng Shui.
I didn’t intentionally set out to make your side door look like the bottom of a walk in restaurant cooler. Who knows, maybe that could be the next mission in The Garage Liberation Front? We could turn your garage into a fortified meat cooler to “put the rats on ice.”
I’ve been writing for a long time now. I used to describe writing to people that way, saying something like, “My memory is in my hands. I don’t think about what I’m going to write, not really. My mind just previews The Story for me after my hands do all the work.” That’s how being in The Dish Zone or The Action feels too. It’s like writing for real.
Then again, building by stream of consciousness (hammer swinging like a Beatnik) isn’t always the best construction model to follow. I often put the breaks on The Action. For example, I stopped to ask Brendan if it was ok to use metal flashing to exclude the gaps between the shingles and the foundation, because I knew it wasn’t a perfect plan. The length between the foundation and the edge of the shingles varied all the way across the back, so I had to cut the flashing…and do my best to keep it flush along the foundation. The way I was trained by my former employers to do this was roll and pack hardware cloth under the siding, and then let the foam fly. I was never was a big fan of that plan. It’s not pretty, especially with orange foam. And black isn’t much better.
After all that talk about social skills tanking in The Action, I must say I enjoyed my conversations with Kieran the Flynn family youth. He checked in every so often to watch the action on The Front.
“My dad said you’re the Rat Man,” he offered like a question.
I thought it was an excellent beginning, so I rolled with it. “You better he’s right about that,” I smiled as I messed with my drill. “I am the Rat Man. It’s what I do for a living.”
“But what’s your real name?”
In that moment I had to restrain myself from a long winded existential commentary about truth in fiction and the “supereconomic powers” that are triggered when we transform into our working characters.
“My name’s Jake,” I said instead.
He seemed satisfied with that answer, because he moved to the next topic of conversation, which I found equality as engaging.
“I’ve never been up in the attic.”
“Well it’s clean now,” I replied proudly. Then I tried to reposition the ladder in its place, so he could venture up there. The old ladder contraption was not as easy to operate as I thought, which turned out to be a good thing. It gave me a chance to think about what I was about to do.
“My dad says we’re going to check it out later.”
“Oh,” I said, setting the ladder down behind my proverbial back. “That will be a good adventure. I hope it passes inspection…I mean it’s clean, but it’s not kitchen clean. Know what I mean?”
We talked about the attic for a little while longer, then Kieran went inside and I moved my operation outside to work on the eve gap. It was there, just inside the eve gap, where I set my traps and caught the two teenage Ratonauts. My choice for building materials to exclude that gap was inspired by the many castle sieges I’d seen in The Movies.
“No way they’re going to breach that wall,” I thought…
Minutes later, when I realized I wasn’t going to have time to tackle the door seal, I met another leader of The Flynn Family Front. She had just finished a long day of work no doubt, so I tried to keep my conversation short. As my wife–Emily my Editor and Chief–often says about my writing, “Long is wrong.” So naturally, I skipped the pleasantries and got right to the heart of the matter. I was tired, dead brain, zombie eyed, and I had dirt smudged evenly across my face like some kind of theatrical version of a homeless man. All I was missing was the shopping cart and missing belt.
“The flashing in back is going to work,” I said as I showed her what I’d done that day. “But there’s still a slight gap between the foundation and the metal flashing along here, about three feet, which I filled with excluder cloth instead of foam because I didn’t want to goober all over your patio.”
Next I showed her the back. Instead of showcasing the great subterranean wall I’d built, I pointed to my blocking of the eve gap, and said, “It’s going to keep the rats out, but it’s ugly. I can fix it if it bothers you.”
Needless to say, I need to work on my showmanship. There’s no good reason to show my customers all the ugly things first. But, then again, that may be the fundamental difference between Ratonauts and humans. Only Ratonauts dream of perfect homes.
I like to think there’s nothing wrong with a little character.
Chapter 3: The Rat Harborage Removal Service
Recently, we helped our friends Arron and Aubrie throw a yard sale party to liberate their garage from some old things they’d had since college. For reasons I won’t go into now, I have a special place in my heart for the process of removing “junk” from my life.
It’s a complex subject. They say, “God don’t make no junk.”
They also say you should hug your belongings and wait to see if the thing brings you joy. That’s how you know you should keep it.
I say, rats will burrow and nest under anything that sits anywhere on earth that’s quiet and free of human activity: like a garage. I think it’s essential to our struggle on The Garage Liberation Front to remove rat harborage, at least pick up your belongings once or twice a year to see that Ratonauts haven’t turn it into the home base of their new utopian moon colony.
With that said, I was honored when the Flynn family leaders accepted my offer to remove the unwanted rat harborage from their garage.
I had planned to make the harborage go away and exclude the seal on the garage door on the same day, but believe it or not! The last rat (who had somehow escaped my wrath) snuck into the Flynn family house in the middle of the night and hid the garage keys in Megan’s purse!
It was a bold, but ultimately evil plan. When I arrived on Tuesday morning I was fired up and ready to work. I can’t lie, I was bummed when Brendan discovered that the garage keys were with Megan (and Megan was at work), but I didn’t let it bother me long. I knew the rats were trying to ruin our moral, and I wasn’t about to let them win!
“Nice try rats,” I thought. “You can’t stop The Garage Liberation Front!”
The good news was, I had time to follow Captain Planet’s advice to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I moved two pickup loads of harborage from the Flynn family garage, and I was able to recycle roughly 3/4 of that. The trick of it was, Goodwill always says “no” to somethings, but they always say “yes” as well. Therefore, if you arrive with a load from one Goodwill full of “No” items, then the next Goodwill will say “yes” to some of them.
All in all, it was a successful day. Thanks to our leader’s inspiration, The Rat Harborage Removal Service was officially born. Hoorah 🙂
Chapter 4: Plan C Super Fortress
I arrived on Halloween expecting to christen the Flynn family’s new Front for keeping the rats out. Instead, I found another dead teenage rat caught just inside the garage door.
It was a great reminder. All my work would be pointless if I wasn’t able to find some way to exclude the gaps on either side of the garage door.
My Plan A was to install a new door seal with excluder cloth inserted on the ends to give the seal some form. So I did that:
That was a fun exercise, but it didn’t pass The Light Test. When I closed the door and turned off the light, I could still see a gap. Plan B was already on deck. I bought a rubber threshold made for garage doors. So I fit it under the door, and gave it The Light Test.
“Rats!” I cried and shook my fist at heaven. “I thought for sure that would do the trick…”
Then I did the thing I do when I’m stuck. I paced back and forth between my truck and the door–staring at The Monster Gap–waiting to find something to inspire Plan C.
“Use the flashing,” my Optimist said. “It will work fine.”
“No way!” my Pessimist replied. “You’re going to turn that door into one of your crazy art projects. Call someone for advice.”
“Like who?” the Optimist laughed. “Hello, my name is Jake…do you know how to exclude a garage door with gaps the size of The Grand Canyon properly? Do they have a universal fitting for that, or something?”
“Ha, ha…laugh it up chuckles.”
Before I knew it, I was cutting my supply of L-shaped metal–and fitting it on the bottom of the door. “Hum,” I thought as I continued to cut and shape the pieces. “This might work after all…I could use door sweeps to give it some form and keep it from looking too ugly.”
A half an hour later, I ran out of time and door sweeps. A nice man named Victor in Hillsboro needed “Jake the Rat Man,” or at least that’s what he said his co-workers were calling me. Weird coincidence, I know. I’m pretty sure there’s another Jake the Rat Man in town I don’t know…
Anyhow, I returned the next day with more door sweeps from Home Depot ready to put the final touch on my super fortress. An hour or so later, I took a step back and inspected my work…
“Oh wow,” I exclaimed, a little surprised. “That really worked!”
The End was growing nearer. All that was needed to officially slam the door on the Ratonauts and open The Garage Liberation Front was The Final Inspection from the Flynns. That, and at least a month of no activity in the traps I set inside to show that they’re really gone. I have to say, I was holding my breath. I was proud of this exclusion and I wanted it to work.
A month later, we found starter holes right over the hardware cloth and a few more dead Ratonauts near our Volehalla box, but The Garage Liberation Front was still holding strong. “Viva la revolucion!”