Washington Horror Blog

SEMI-FICTIONAL CHRONICLE of the EVIL THAT INFECTS WASHINGTON, D.C. To read Prologue and Character Guide, please see www.washingtonhorrorblog.com, updated 6/6//2017. Follow Washington Water Woman on Twitter @HorrorDC ....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cold Enough Now?

Devi Rajatala took one last walk through the Friendship Garden at the National Arboretum to look over the work done by the students on their day off from school yesterday. Turning her face away from the cold wind whipping winter back to Washington, Dr. Raj figured she might not see the students again for months. The mulch was spread, the daffodils would finally go dormant again, and the Friendship Garden would quiet down. Few volunteers or visitors would be here again until March. Winter was when she really had time to be an arborist. Tomorrow she would start with a reinspection of the problem areas in the Asian collection, where a flock of starlings was crowding out the native birds that should be thriving there. If this kept up, it would alter the insect population, and that would alter the undergrowth, and then the entire forest would evolve into something else. Yesterday she had asked Angela de la Paz if it were the shimmery, multi-colored starlings on her mind when she said she was seeing pink warblers, but she had said no, those starlings were evil--her pink warblers were gentle, sang sweetly, and gleamed like pink roses. Dr. Raj didn't even know what to say to that. She was a little relieved to get a break from those troubled kids, but she would miss Angela.

The National Arboretum Gift Shop manager had just started her car engine when Dr. Raj walked past her in the parking lot. Jai Alai had taken over the Gift Shop in November and was enjoying the slow-down after the holidays. Jai Alai had a lot on her mind. She hated Dr. Raj, even though she had only met her once, and she didn't know why she hated Dr. Raj. Maybe it was because Dr. Raj loved trees, and Alai hated trees. She didn't know why she hated trees. She glared at Dr. Raj, wishing her dead. A catbird perched on a branch above Alai's car was imitating hawk cries, and Alai looked up, fascinated. Alai didn't want to go home and get beaten again. Maybe it would be a good night. She would pick up the kids from the sitter and get some pizza. Pizza and hot chocolate on a cold night. Alai watched Dr. Raj pull out, then pulled out behind her and followed her for miles before finally turning off to head home.

Over at Prince and Prowling, the post-holiday litigation season was swinging into full gear, and it would be hours before attorneys Laura Moreno or Chloe Cleavage could head home from their dead-end, bottom-of-the-barrel jobs. Laura pulled out a peanut butter sandwich to munch on while starting in on the next pile of papers, and Chloe stood up from the chair beside Laura and abruptly began spraying Lysol all over the table. "What the hell are you doing?" shouted Laura, as she jumped up and away from the Lysol fog. "I don't like the smell of peanut butter," answered Chloe calmly. Laura looked over to associate Bridezilla to see if she would intervene, but Bridezilla pretended not to notice. Bridezilla was a law review goddess engaged to a law clerk god, and she could barely tolerate even being put in the same room as these dregs of humanity too stupid to get better jobs. Laura moved to another table and resumed reviewing documents as Bridezilla continued text messaging her fiance Wince.

Over at the Justice Department, Wince's law school roommate was reading another text message from his boss. His boss always wrote in weird codes so that if the text messages were ever retrieved forensically under subpoena, nobody would ever be able to prove what they said. Law school star Atticus Hawk puzzled over the message, which said that Hillary Clinton was asking for something for the Armed Services Committee--either (he cocked his head to the left) information or (he cocked his head back to the right) insulation. Hmmm. Insulation, immunity, inspection, interrogation, investigation? He text-messaged back, "Huh?" This was a good thing to do because then if he ever had to testify under oath, he could demonstrate how he had not understood any of it. This was also a good thing because it would force his boss to call him.

Atticus leaned back in his chair and polished off the end of his Coke can. He couldn't believe there were still hundreds of prisoners at Guantanamo. He couldn't believe the entire first year of his legal career had been writing memos on the prisoners at Guantanamo. Sometimes when it was really, really late at night, he would think about the guys who had killed themselves there. They were the same age as he was. They were ruining his life, and he was ruining theirs. Perfect symmetry, yin and yang. The old-model DOJ desk phone rang loudly, and Atticus jumped up to get it.

Over at the Mayflower Hotel, former Senator Evermore Breadman jumped up to answer the door. It was Donald Rumsfeld, right on time. Breadman had forgotten how short Rumsfeld was, or maybe he was shrinking--he was kind of old now. Who would have thought that Cheney and the ticking time bomb in his chest would have outlasted Rumsfeld in this Administration? Breadman ushered him in and introduced him to his first set of corporate suitors--let the bidding begin! Rumsfeld had reorganized the military and prepared it for modern warfare: that was his story, and they were sticking to it! And he had Cheney's home number, of course, and that's what the bidding was really about. By the time Breadman was through with Rumsfeld, Rummy would realize how lucky he was to bail out early.

Several miles west, Coast Guard officer Marcos Vasquez was frantically bailing water out of his dinghy. "Marcos! MARCOS!" Vasquez looked up at his partner, confused. "There's like one inch of water in here, max: what is your problem?!" Vasquez stopped bailing water. He was still panting from surfacing so quickly and vaulting into the boat. "What is the matter with you?" Vasquez was afraid the dinghy would capsize, and he didn't want to go back in the water. Vasquez stared at his partner with wide eyes and continued to pant. "Just relax, OK? Let's bring the boat in. That cold water must have put you in shock or something."

It had been Vasquez's idea to stage a cold water rescue drill for the newbies. They had charted the area and brought weighted mannikins to plant in the Potomac. Vasquez had forgotten all this now: all he could remember was huge orange eyes staring at him...everywhere...hundreds of eyes that quickly began moving toward him...then tentacles snatching at his feet as he had kicked maniacally for the surface. Vasquez had finally met Ardua of the Potomac, and she didn't like him.

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