There's a nap for that!
Ann Bishis felt a little silly entering the Rayburn House Office Building in a disguise, but she had finally acceded to her coroner boyfriend's request that they do a thorough examination of Congressional offices for signs of zombie or demonic activity. She hauled John Constantine through security stuffed into an Ikea shelving box on top of a dolly, and did not cut open the box until they were inside her Chief of Staff office in Congressman Herrmark's suite. (She hadn't felt this reckless since she was a lesser staff member supplementing her paltry income by letting tourists pay to have sex on his desk.)
"Ugh!" Constantine exclaimed upon his emergence from the box, but his face was flushed with exhilaration. He cracked his back, shook out his arms, then turned to the task of gathering up their surveillance equipment.
"Are you sure we can pick locks without setting off alarms?" she asked. (They had chosen this time because of the large number of Congressional employees off on the reelection campaign trail.)
"Of course!" he said. "I lifted this device from a deceased State Department employee."
"State Department?" asked Bishis.
"He was CIA," answered Constantine.
"I'm still not sure exactly what we're looking for," said Bishis, who had tried hard to repress her past association with a zombie chief of staff--particularly the gruesome decapitation at the end.
"Neither am I, but I'll know it when I see it," said Constantine, a third-generation coroner. "There are natural ways to die, and unnatural ways to die. And now we know there are also unnatural ways to live."
"Second step: find a quiet place...."
Prince and Prowling's managing partner checked the SOTA-BUNK (state-of-the-art review bunker) closed circuit television monitor to make sure the full team was still in place. He shook his head at the sight of people sleeping at their desks, playing cards, reading books, and watching an old TV/VCR combo in the corner, but this is what the client wanted--to keep paying 50 contract attorneys on stand-by just in case they needed them again shortly. Must be nice to have that kind of spare cash, thought the managing partner--who could not believe the audacity of those lazy temps to ask for Internet access and use of personal devices during this down time. He had personally screened every non-electronic form of entertainment allowed into SOTA-BUNK, and had only agreed to the TV and old VCR tapes after three different technology experts had signed off on them. Must be nice to get a one-week paid vacation! he grunted, as if his own six weeks a year had nothing to do with anything.
Staff attorney Laura Moreno had still not received a paid vacation day yet, so she was also a little resentful to see what was happening--she had never been so lucky in her temp days! She entered SOTA-BUNK with a Prince and Prowling technician on hand to make software upgrades while the network was down and the computers idle, but they were astonished to find that the contract attorneys were all at their computers working.
"What are you doing?" asked Moreno to the first temp in the first row.
"The new case that Chloe Cleavage briefed us on last Wednesday."
"What case?" Moreno listened to the details while examining the database the temp was in.
"I don't understand," said the technician.
At that moment, Chloe walked in, and her face went white. "What are you guys doing here?" she asked. She reflexively smiled coquettishly at the technician, but he was gay and immune to her implants.
"What are you doing here?" asked Moreno, accusingly.
Chloe Cleavage was, in fact, using the idle temps to do a completely different project for a secret client, and pocketing all the income from it herself. It was a short project she had thought she could push through without detection, re-running security tapes over and over again though the supposed live feed from SOTA-BUNK.
"What do you mean?" asked Cleavage, disingenuously. She had enough blackmail on Prince and Prowling partners to have escaped being fired many times before, but she had never pulled a stunt like this before.
"Stop what you're doing," Moreno said loudly, addressing the room, "and turn off your computers." I've got you now, Chloe!
"Third step: get comfortable...."
Across the street at the White House, Bridge was exhausted from harvesting the bumper crop growing in the First Lady's garden. "Another week of damned kale salad every day!" he joked with the kitchen sous-chef upon making the vegetable delivery, then he headed to his tiny groundskeeper office to take a nap before heading back out to water the mums. He put in his Brahms lullaby CD, put his shoeless feet up on the desk, leaned back in his office chair, loosely folded his hands across his chest, and shut his eyes. He knew he was getting too old for this job, and had to sleep through every lunch hour to get through the day, but how could he quit? Who else could deal with all this? He took a deep breath, drifting off to escape for a little while the murmur of ghosts flitting through the East Wing.
"Fourth step: go to the quiet place in your mind...."
A few miles to the west, Angela de la Paz was also settling in for a nap of sorts, but her purpose was the opposite: to learn more about the violent ghosts that resisted her overtures in the conscious world. She stretched out on the roof of the upper Georgetown row house, and relaxed deeply into the warm sunshine. Her body became very still, and she departed the world for the Dreamtime. She found abuela first, as she usually did, then her mother, then Roddy. She paused for a few moments to cuddle with their son, Lucas, who had not passed over but could live in more than one world (like his mother). Then she searched for the ghosts of the people who had died in the house now occupied by Golden Fawn's family. I need to know how it all began, she said simply, but she would find there was no simple answer even to that question--it was like the house had been cursed from the very start.
"Fifth step: return gently...."
Wince had fallen asleep at his desk, exhausted from preparing Justice Prissy Face for the imminent Supreme Court term. It had been difficult to keep his engagement to Bridezilla secret, but he feared he would lose his job if his boss found out. And what was difficult for Wince was excruciatingly hard for Bridezilla--as she constantly reminded him. She had suggested several new jobs and career paths, but how could he ever do anything exciting as this? He wrote most of his office's opinions himself! (Bridezilla liked to call him the Secret Beatle.) But the strain was getting to him now that the first October oral argument was nigh, and he could not sleep without constant nightmares about Clarence Thomas lecturing him. The Justice who never spoke publicly had a whole lot to say to Wince in his dreams! Hey, pretty boy, why you hiding that beautiful bride of yours? Why don't you be a real man and get a real job? You'll never be one of us! The nightmares always ended the same way: maggots would start crawling out of the Justice's ears, his eyes would turn red, and then zombie Thomas would lunge towards Wince and take a bite out of his arm.
"No!" screamed Wince, jumping up from his chair. Then he sank back into it. Anybody in his right mind would give this up to marry Bridezilla, wouldn't they? But what if I've been chosen to--? No, that's crazy! I need to stop obsessing about Clarence Thomas! There are bigger threats to democracy!
COMING UP: The story of Delia's mother.