The sign on my door reads Solomon Murphy and Company Paranormal General Contracting. Whether it’s as mundane as “What’s that strange light?” or as urgent as “Holy God, what just jumped out of the toilet and ate Fluffy!?” give us a call. Monsters mashed, idols trashed, curses lifted, apparitions evicted. No magic too black, weird science a specialty. We’ll deal with your personal magical mystery emergency at a reasonable rate.

As usual, I’m in the middle of the crossword when the phone rings. “Gwen!” I shout at the lobby of my office.

“Piss off!”

If I didn’t love that woman, I’d stop paying her to be my receptionist. I answer the stupid thing myself. “Sol Murphy here.”

A man’s panicked voice answers me. “Are you the monster exterminator?”

“Paranormal General Contractor. But yes. What’s the problem?”

“It’s in my pool and it won’t leave. It’s green and scaly and it has tentacles coming out of its face.”

“Hmm. Sounds like one of the Old Ones. Maybe even the big cheese Cthulhu himself. This could be serious. I’ll be right over.”

I jump in the van and burn rubber. All my gear is in the back. Holy water, crosses, stakes, garlic, silver bullets, my trusty magic wand — I’m worried it’s not going to be enough. These Elder Demons mean business and they aren’t easy to get rid of. On the plus side, they don’t usually show up unannounced unless there’s something specific they’re after. Or if the apocalypse is about to go down. I’m pulling for option A.

I get to the address in question and the client leads me to his backyard. I take one look and know I’m in trouble. “Yup. That’s definitely the big C-man. You been messing around with any ancient spellbooks lately? Maybe having some weird dreams?”

He gives me a dumbfounded look. “No, honestly, I just got home from work and there it was. Look, my wife’s going to be back with the kids soon. Can’t you do anything?”

I think about it. It is pretty odd that the Dark Lord of R’lyeh and the Elder Demons is just sitting in this poor guy’s pool. Might be worth trying to talk to it before I bust out the arsenal from the back of the van. I walk over to the edge of the pool and take a seat. “Hey buddy!”

It turns to me and gets a real angry look in its beady black eyes. It starts to shout at me in a slimy voice through its tentacled mouth. “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”

It may be yelling but it isn’t trying to eat me. Yet. This is a good sign. I try to be nonchalant. “Yeah, yeah, spare me. I’ve heard that nonsense from you guys before. Look pal, you know the rules. You and your kind get one full scale invasion of the universe every few million years when the stars are right. You can’t just pop up in some poor bastard’s pool whenever you feel like it.”

It stops yelling. Its face shifts and it looks almost sad. It speaks English this time. “Even eldritch monstrosities need a vacation sometimes.”

Thank the good and fuzzy lord. This I can handle. “Is that all? Look man, I got a pool at my place. Why don’t you come with me and we’ll have a swim and a couple beers? Leave this guy alone, huh?” I gesture toward my client. He gives a nervous wave.

It gets a quizzical look on its face. “Your proposal is acceptable, human.”

Nothing like a job well done. I give the client my bill and we get on out of there. Once we get to my place I’m all too happy to kick back with my new friend.

“Thank you, Mr. Murphy.”

“Sol, please. Any time.”

“You have no idea how boring it gets. Waiting all those aeons for the stars to align so that we may once again feast upon the souls of your people.”

I have a flash of inspiration. These guys are bad mojo and I may be able to stave ’em off. “You ever consider just relaxing on the whole soul devouring thing?”

It stops for a moment, scratching its head. Its facial tentacles quiver. “What else would I do to keep busy?”

Big moment Sol. “Well if you get bored you could just come hang with me. This is nice, right?”

“Indeed. I find your offer agreeable, Solomon.”

“Cool. So instead of leading your army of monsters to Earth in a million years, you’d be cool with say, playing golf next weekend?”

It doesn’t have eyebrows, but it tries to raise them anyway. “What is this…golf?”

“It’s a game. You’ll like it. It has more weird rules and customs in it than the Necronomicon.”

“That would be pleasant. Thank you.”

I really gotta figure out a way to bill someone for this. I think I may have just saved the whole human race from a demon apocalypse. Not bad for an afternoon by the pool.

“Hey, big C, one thing I gotta ask.”

“Very well.”

“Did you know H.P. Lovecraft?”

“Of course.”

“What was he like?”

“Insane. And racist.”

“Ya don’t say.”

James A. Conan is a Toronto-based writer and sous-chef. He has published several short stories over the past two years, focusing mainly on sci-fi, but recently on more literary and upmarket fiction. He is also a first reader at Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, an online magazine of speculative fiction of all types. He draws on this experience to write his blog “Notes From the Slush Pile” which offers advice to other writers looking to hone their craft and see their work published. He can be found online, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.