Nia drove slowly, squinting as she tried to read the house numbers. It seemed like a nice neighborhood. The road was lined with tall trees. Kids were playing on the street, their fathers nearby mowing lawns, or blowing leaves.

There it is.

The large, white-weatherboard house looked like the ideal setting to raise a family. It seemed well maintained, the paint fresh and the garden obviously tended with pride.

The only small detracting point was the yellow police tape draped across the front door.

Nia parked in the driveway.

As soon as she stepped out of the van, an outstretched hand was thrust towards her.

“Misty Simmons. Family Home Realty,” said the old, bespectacled lady attached to the hand.

“My name is Nia. The agency sent me.”

“Yes, Officer Rogan handed me your card,” Misty produced said item; a silver card with bold, black lettering:

Your Trauma Cleaning and Bio-Hazard Removal Specialists

“That’s us.”

“I must admit, I didn’t think they would send me such a pretty little thing. How did you fall into this kind of job?”

Nia winced. She got asked that a lot.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I was told that this is a rather large job and the sooner I get started the sooner I can finish,” Nia said.

“Oh, of course! Sorry about that. I do go on sometimes. Follow me.”

She led Nia to the front door, grabbing the yellow tape and ripping it down.

“Won’t be needing this anymore.” She looked down at Nia’s jeans and sneakers. “Are you going to be working in that?”

“My safety gear is in the van. Is there a clean room I can get changed in?”

“The entry is fine. All the bedrooms are, how you say, contaminated.”

They entered the house, a bright and cheery place, but even from the entry Nia could see the dark crimson spatter of blood in the hallway.

“Oh, yeah! And the bathroom! You’ll need to clean that, too. She must have washed up afterwards.”


“The oldest daughter. Tanya. She disappeared after… well, this mess. I was told she stabbed them while they slept and then just walked out the front door. Didn’t even pack. Five souls now with Jesus. The youngest only three years old. Horrible. Just horrible.”

Nia cleared her throat. “So, uh, I have to ask. What kind of excretions am I dealing with?”

“Just expect them all, sweety,” Misty answered without hesitation. “The furniture has been removed, so you have free reign to work. Call me when you’re done, or if you run into any snags.”


Nia stood up and sighed, stretching. She could feel sweat running down her back, inside the Tyvek suit. She was exhausted. The street lights had awoken outside. She touched her watch, which glowed through her suit. She had been there for over ten hours. She took off her face mask and contamination suit, dumping them in a hazardous waste bag. It felt good to be free of them.

Still wearing her gloves and shoe covers she turned the lights off, picked up the long UV lamp and put on her tinted goggles for one last sweep of the house.

She felt like she’d done well.

Her home-made enzyme cleaner had removed most of the carpet stains, except for those in the little girl’s bedroom, where the juices had soaked into the unsealed floor boards. It would need to be sanded and recarpeted. The spatter on the walls and ceilings had come off easily. The smell of faeces was gone too, after hours of thermal-fogging and deodorising. Even the mystery solids had been easy to dispose of.

The ground floor was clean.

Holding the light above her head she headed upstairs. The white walls reflected brightly as she ascended. She frowned. A black line hung in her vision at the top of the stairs. She reached out and pulled it.

The ceiling opened up and something fell towards her.

She screamed.

In front of her was the ladder to the attic. Embarrassed, Nia doubled over and laughed.

She climbed the ladder and shone the UV light around in the ceiling. Nothing reflected the blacklight, making any contrast difficult to see. She carefully turned around on the ladder until she saw something reflective, a white square. The light switch. She flicked it on and turned back around.

A long, wide crimson streak travelled the length of the floor into the gloom.

Nia cursed to herself.

More work.

She climbed up into the attic, carefully avoiding the blood, and she put down the UV lamp, switching it off. Removing her gloves, she threw them into the corner with frustration. Pulling out her phone, she called Misty.

“I’m sorry, I am not available right now…” the message began.

Nia cursed again. The message beeped.

“Yeah. Hi. This is Nia from Recovery. It seems you neglected to mention the contaminated area in the attic. Unfortunately, this is a variation from our original quote. I’ll need to return another day, or organise someone else, as I am fully booked tomorrow. I’ll send you a revised copy of the invoice as soon as I can. Can you call me back when you get this?”

Nia returned the phone to her pocket.

I need a new job.

Crouching, she walked alongside the blood, curious to see the extent of the mess. The cramped space reeked of mildew and sweat. The streak ended at a large cardboard box. Her eyes adjusted to the dark and then opened wide. Long black hair hung over the edge of the box, draped across a pale, slender arm wearing what looked like a friendship bracelet around the wrist.


Holding her breath, Nia took a step back and almost slipped.

The blood was still wet. The body was fresh.

The light went out and the attic suddenly felt cold.

She heard the hatch shut behind her.