‘Pest Control’ was written during one of Meg Pokrass’ wonderful workshops, ‘Surreal Flash Fiction’. It was published in March 2020, before the full reality of COVID-19 had dawned on the world; the reduction in air travel seemed a welcome, hopeful side-effect of the pandemic. As things became grimmer throughout 2020, the flippant tone of the story felt less appropriate. I’m still proud of it, though.
Dime Show Review stopped publishing new material in April 2020; so as well as the link to read ‘Pest Control’ on their site, the full story is pasted in below.
Always she sought a balance between strength, speed, and aesthetic appeal. She fine-tuned with a scientist’s single mindedness, an artist’s passion. The results were getting more and more satisfactory.
The new one melted her heart with its roly-polyness, charmed her eye with its red highlights, but beneath that it was tireless, responsive to her directions yet inventive and adaptable. It promised to be a contender, maybe a champion. Its efficacy in relation to the infestation of flying things was especially pleasing.
When choosing names, Gaia sometimes took inspiration from the airwaves, from radio or TV broadcasts. Some names annoyed her so much, she changed them immediately. Limber, tail-chasing Dorian was renamed Apocatequil, after the Inca god of thunder. Deep-eyed Wendy got an Egyptian makeover and became Hathor. Gaia couldn’t pronounce Eyjafjallajökull, but kept it anyway.
‘Covid-19’ just sounded ugly.
She called it Felix.