Ann Bishis, Chief of Staff for Congressman Herrmark, was supposed to be combing through the bill to see if, by some miracle, he had finally gotten funding to clean up his parents' vacation home (destroyed by fire in a fracking explosion). Herrmark had played nice with all kinds of people all year long--including the Holier Than Thou Caucus, the "House of Cards" Caucus, the "Game of Thrones" Caucus, the Karaoke Caucus, the Millionaire's Club, the Cartwheel Caucus, the Wonder Woman Caucus, and John Boehner's Cincinnati-strip poker club. And even though Congressman Herrmark had played Boehner down to his tighty-whiteys many times, Herrmark had still pledged the Speaker of the House his support for this "must-pass" bill with the somewhat strong belief he would be rewarded...somewhere in there. But the only thing Bishis had verified so far was that Boehner had found the money to fund construction of the New Dominion Boat Club (her own pet project)--under the CIA drone program. Her boss was already off on a two-week fundraising cruise from Baltimore to the Lesser Antilles, but she wasn't supposed to leave town until she had found the "earmark"...or verified its non-existence.
"I just don't think this is a good idea, John," she said again. "There are very powerful forces at work here."
"And they might be unnatural--maybe demonic!" he countered again. This time they had smuggled in a dog notorious on Capitol Hill for unusual olfactory abilities: a rat terrier/bloodhound mix named "The Gopper" (sired by famous rat terrier "The Gipper), wearing a fake seeing-eye-dog vest. (Constantine had entered the Capitol as a blind man.) "If there's something fishy going on, The Gopper might be able to find it."
They were down in the Congressional train tunnels, sniffing for signs of life that might be found behind a hidden door. Though Bishis had seen considerable proof of zombies before--including the maggots crawling out of her predecessor's neck after decapitation--she still preferred to shy away from death and scary mysteries. She was not steeled to the darker side of life, like her coroner boyfriend. Nor was she certain she really wanted to find out the darkest truths about Congress.
And then The Gopper stopped and began pawing at a wall. "He smells something!" cried Constantine. "Look for a mechanism to open the door!"
"Maybe he just smells urine," said Bishis, looking around anxiously. "There are rats down here. Maybe he just smells rats in the walls." (She was not helping to look for a mechanism.)
Constantine stood back and shone his flashlight up and down over The Gopper's growling head until he saw it. "There!" He lined up three fingers in the shape of a triangle and pushed on three dark circles--then a panel in the wall started opening inward. "Aha!"
"Shh!" warned Bishis, and Constantine nodded.
The Gopper strained at his leash and pulled them forward for several minutes until they saw another door, but this one had a keypad entry. Constantine tried several combinations until he finally succeeded with "123Z". They slowly entered a quiet hallway, walked past a few small offices, and then stopped in front of a set of double-doors marked "Oz". They could hear voices, and The Gopper was silently baring his teeth.
"I'm scared," whispered Bishis. "Don't open those doors."
But it was too late: somebody on the inside opened the door to come out. "You're Mitch McConnell's Legislative Director," said Bishis in surprise, and the man screamed in pain as The Gopper locked onto his ankle.
Then all the zombies feasting on a couple of dead interns lying on the conference table looked up sharply. "Get them!" screamed John Cornyn's Legislative Director.
"Run!" screamed Constantine, pushing his girlfriend behind him. "Run!" He pushed her again until she actually started running, thinking he was close behind her, but zombie teeth were already sinking into his arm. "They're real!" he gasped. The Gopper gave it all he had, but he was no match for the Zombie Caucus, and only Ann Bishis got out alive.
A mile to the east, the woman responsible for pharmaceutically, accidentally creating most of Washington's zombies (with a little help from Ardua of the Potomac), Barbara Hellmeister, was just leaving work at her underground bunker, a quarter-mile beneath the Washington Times building. The scientist formerly known as Basia Karbusky, and still on the FBI Most Wanted List (though now down to 8,942), had risen to second-in-charge at the CIA's secret interrogation chamber. The granddaughter of a Nazi scientist, she was now going by "Barbie Bucephalus", though her colleagues called her The Stork because of her long legs and her ability to deliver. She compulsively reached into her bag again to make sure her grandfather's journal was tucked safely into it, then got into the elevator that would take her up to the newspaper offices, where she could then exit to the parking lot with her Washington Times ID badge still hanging around her neck. After over a year of success with the CIA, she had been hoping that her techniques could advance her further in the scientific community, but she now had to face the fact that the Senate Torture Report (and the CIA's failure to stop it!) would keep her underground for the conceivable future. She missed owning a farm, she missed Mega Moo, she missed being her own boss, and she missed having a boyfriend. Maybe it's time to make a change, she thought, getting into her car.
Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac disagreed. I've gotten really fond of this wicked town!
COMING UP: Mistletoe Misgivings