Lead, follow, or get out of the way!
Han Li walked out and she helped herself to the sweet potato pie, spraying it with a healthy dose of whipped cream. The Pope's visit to Washington had made her realize what true influence actually was--what it meant to have people genuinely listening to, believing in, and following a leader. The Heurich Society members--in their own twisted way--had a religious fervor about their beliefs and view of the world that she simply did not share. And the Pope's visit made her realize she scarcely believed in anything anymore, but one thing she did believe in was that this Society had to find a better reason to exist.
So today they would change the mission statement of the Heurich Society or she would resign and keep an eye on them from a distance. She chewed resolutely, waiting for the first member to arrive.
A few miles to the east, the secret meeting of the Bicameral Anti-Zombie Caucus had already begun on Capitol Hill.
"I used to love this time of year," said Rand Paul, "but learning there are real zombies in the world makes Halloween seem a lot more menacing."
"Oh," laughed Congressman Herrmark, "I thought you were referring to the misery of campaign season!"
"Well, my campaign might be over before Halloween," said Senator Paul, forcing a fake laugh. "How's the anti-zombie neutron bomb research going?"
"Not ready for field testing yet," said Ann Bishis, Herrmark's Chief of Staff. "Why don't we talk about Congressman Herrmark's run for Speaker of the House?"
"I agree!" said the member from Florida. "That jackass Kevin McCarthy thinks he should be leading the House and he can't even keep secret that the Benghazi hearings were designed to destroy the Hillary Clinton campaign?!"
"It wasn't really a secret!" said the member from Minnesota.
"That's not the point!" said the member from Florida. "It's like everybody knows the War on Terror is not working and its only purpose is to keep up spending for the military-industrial complex, but you can't say it out loud because then the media goes nuts! I mean, there are so few buildings left standing in Afghanistan that we had to bomb a hospital last week just to let the bomber pilots get their practice in--but you can't say that sort of thing out loud!"
"The point is," said Bishis, frowning, "Congressman Herrmark has a real shot at this now. McCarthy is vulnerable!"
"I don't know," said the member from Arizona. "We're still a small group, and Herrmark is not that popular in his other groups--no offense."
"Well, I didn't come to Washington to be popular!" said Congressman Herrmark.
"No, but you have to be popular to be Speaker of the House," said Rand Paul. "No offense."
"My idea," said Bishis, "is to run Herrmark as the dark horse candidate, focusing on his other strengths." (Her boss perked up, looking forward to finding out what his strengths were.)
Over at the White House, the ghosts were still chatting about the recent visit of Pope Francis. Some of them had been spiritually healed, and crossed over, but Ghost Dennis was more confused than ever. Having a mixed-faith marriage had not helped, nor getting murdered, nor seeing his adult daughters' almost overwhelmed by possession. He had as many questions as answers, but one thing he had definitely decided was he really liked the sound of "Viva El Papa"! Therefore he had decided to adopt Regina and Ferguson (the ghost pre-schoolers) and give them the education they had never received.
"Aw, papa!" exclaimed Reggie. The rest of what she said was about wanting to throw pumpkins off the roof, but she said it in their secret twin language, and Ghost Dennis could not understand it. (His own triplets had been born after he died, so he had never developed an expertise for secret pre-schooler languages.)
"You are going to learn the alphabet song if it kills me!" exclaimed Ghost Dennis.
"Papa dead!" laughed Fergie, and Reggie was also soon rolling on the floor in giggles.
"Yeah, yeah, very funny. If I can teach Sasha her times tables, I'm sure I can at least teach you two the alphabet song!"
It was a nice break from his usual Sunday evening of rearranging President Obama's to-do box in the Oval Office, and Ghost Dennis felt good.
Back at the Brewmaster's Castle, Button Samuelson had polished off her second piece of pie and reached for her water bottle to wash it down. Then she didn't feel so well. A few minutes later, Dick Cheney was looming over her. "That cheap habit of refilling your bottle with tap water has finally done you in--the Brewmaster's Castle has recently developed a serious problem with arsenic in the pipes, you see." He watched in pleasure as she writhed in agony until she finally slumped over, dead. He sat down next to her, picked up her notes to amuse himself, then announced to the first Heurich Society member to arrive: "Button has died of arsenic poisoning. I'm in charge now." One-by-one, they filed in to receive this shocking news, until the last member had arrived and Condoleezza Rice was on the speaker phone. "It's been a long time, boys, Condie. Let's get to work."
Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac finally started feeling a little better.
COMING UP: The road to revenge begins! (And birthday cake!)