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 ....

Friday, March 16, 2007

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

It was done: the exorcism on Theresa had been successful. Social worker Hue Nguyen watched as Theresa sat in the corner of the living room knitting. Hue had never thought she was capable of turning her back on modern psychiatry and diagnosing a patient with a real, live demon, but she had been right. Theresa was still mentally challenged, but her soul was free. The other residents of the group home bickered good-naturedly about their game of Monopoly while Theresa was content to sit off by herself a little. She felt peaceful for the first time in a long time.
Across the Potomac, the priest stared out his window at the late-winter sleet. He had procrastinated long enough: tomorrow he would have to go to his confessor and reveal the unauthorized exorcism. So now he knew that these things were really walking the Earth. Was he just supposed to go back to his books now, his students? He leaned his forehead against the cold pane, feeling his vocation being ripped away and replaced by something else.

"Are you all insane?" Eva Brown ignored the question, her forehead pressed against the cold window pane of her apartment near American University. "Nobody does exorcisms anymore! Haven't you ever heard of a little thing called schizophrenia?" Eva turned away from the sleet and looked at her boyfriend, the State Department's Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness. She had a distant memory of a time when he always said the right thing. She was tired of explaining to him all the things that had led to her roommate's being given a Jewish exorcism. She realized now that telling him did not make her feel better. She had a distant memory of a time when telling him things made her feel better. "You need to move out of here." He swallowed hard. "Why don't you move in with me?" She dug her nails into the arms of her chair and closed her eyes.

Several miles away, in Chinatown, Lynnette Wong dug her nails into the arms of her chair and closed her eyes. Her neighbor was pleading with her to go back into the other room to finish the exorcism. "This is not the right way!" cried Lynnette. "Yes," he said, "it is working!" Lynnette's father had taught her to be patient with demons, to use herbs and water and light to make the soul become a place the demon no longer wanted to inhabit. How had she been talked into this torture of a human being? She got up and returned to the other room. She lit the incense and approached the frightened and screaming little girl. Five minutes later, it was done. They untied the girl, who cried with joy and leapt into her parents' embrace. Lynnette packed up her herbs and walked home. This did not feel like a victory: it felt like the start of a brand new and long, long, long war.

A few miles south, Golden Fawn cursed the sleet as she made her way into the National Museum of the American Indian for the first time in a week. She headed straight down to the basement storage rooms, to the collection of "maybes"--the abundance of tribal donations that had not yet been approved for display. She headed straight to the Cree shelves, then changed her mind and sat down for a minute to fight the wave of nausea. She fingered her lumpectomy scar as she always did during the waves of nausea, and slowly pulled her winter hat off her bald head. She revisited her mental image of the three objects she needed for the exorcism, waited for the nausea to pass, then stood up to retrieve them. She couldn't wait until she felt better--that was what Ardua wanted. She was going to be strong and do it.

A couple of miles west, Bridge was sitting in the White House gardening office hours after his workweek was over. He was listening to the voices, which had increased of late. What he didn't know was that he was listening to a couple of the Shackled. Somebody in the White House was possessed, but it was not yet clear to Bridge who it was. He suspected it might be Fergie, but that didn't seem possible with his being so tight with Reggie. A hundred feet above him, President Bush leaned his forehead against the cold window pane and prayed for deliverance from incompetent morons that kept embarassing him. The Shackled who were watching him left to go meet with the others. They didn't know what to do about the White House.

A couple miles to the west, in her Watergate apartment,, Condoleezza Rice leaned back in her red leather recliner, trying to figure out what to do about the White House. She sipped her flax/guava/cucumber/radish/almond/maraschino smoothie and stared out at the sleet falling on Ardua's river. Condoleezza was tired of working with so many idiots--she needed to be in charge of EVERYTHING! She chuckled to herself, thinking about the ImpeachBush march scheduled to take place tomorrow. Too ironic. She chuckled again, the red juice dribbling out of the corner of her lip. She didn't need the White House--but it desperately needed her. Down in the depths of the frigid waters, Ardua focused on the Secretary of State and took comfort in the belief that Ardua was spreading through Washington faster than Washington could fight back.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Whiff of Spring

Laura Moreno was looking out her kitchen window at the alley behind her building, where the police car had now been replaced for the second night in a row by a police van. Yesterday the lights were on, but tonight the lights were off. What were they doing? Were they expecting a terrorist strike on the postal distribution facility? Drug deliveries? Mail fraud? Fifty feet above her, a flock of starlings was sitting on the roof, also watching the police van.

A mile south, a different flock of starlings was sitting on the hospital roof, looking in the window of the intensive care unit. Angela de la Paz sat next to the hospital bed, reading aloud to her grandmother, who lay moaning softly, uncertain why she was still alive fifteen years after her kidneys had died. Dr. Khalid Mohammad stepped in for the evening check, and Angela stopped reading. "It's OK--you can keep reading." He didn't need to talk to the patient--it was better for her to hear her granddaughter's voice. He checked her vital signs and IV connections, made some notes on the chart, and wondered why she was still alive fifteen years after her kidneys had died. The starlings knew why--it was the girl. The flock flew off to settle in for the night. Angela looked out the window and felt better.

A few miles west, social worker Hue Nguyen hung up the phone, looked out the window, and felt better: her friend the priest had agreed to do an exorcism on Theresa. It would have to be top secret, but the priest had agreed with Hue that it was urgent and necessary.

A couple miles east, the priest hung up the phone. He looked at his diplomas on the wall of his Georgetown University office and could not believe he had really agreed to this. There was no time to go through the proper channels. He had already waited a day, and tomorrow they would have to do it. He did something he had not done in a long time--lit a candle and began praying the rosary.

Nearby, one of the Shackled watched the priest for a few more minutes, then departed to talk to the other Shackled. The snow had melted, the crocus and hyacinth were blooming, and exorcisms were being scheduled all over town.

Deep in the Potomac, Ardua was seething. She hated everything about spring.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Gulls and Ghosts

The freaks of Dupont Down Under were discussing the arrival of gulls to Dupont Circle. Though some thought it a bad omen, others believed that the gulls were fanning out over the city to fight evil. "Fight evil?" snorted one of the newer citizens of Dupont Down Under. "They're scavengers looking for easy meals, that's all." "You understand nothing," said one of the elders, who still had snow clinging to his shoes from his recent foray above ground. "The gulls know about Ardua of the Potomac-that is why they are spreading into the city." "They know about garbage," the young man retorted, "and less food in a wintry river". "You understand nothing," repeated the elder, more quietly.

Two-hundred feet above the freaks, gulls flew overlapping circles in the sky, while the sparrows clung to their safe domains in the smaller trees and bushes, and the pigeon doves waddled around the frigid grass. Perry Winkle hurried around the fountain and sprinted for a taxi, having just received a phone call about another shooting. An irritated catbird squealed siren noises, causing Perry to pause and look up at the sky before getting into the nearest taxi. Were those gulls up there? Funny, he had never noticed those before.

On the other side of the Circle, a police car turned up New Hampshire Avenue, then headed over to Ward Court to resume the stake-out across from the postal distribution facility. The officers turned off the car engine and huddled in the quickening cold, irritated about this assignment. They sipped coffee in silence, staring straight ahead. "What was that?" asked the younger officer. "A gull," replied the older officer. "A sea gull?" "A gull," repeated the older officer. "They're not just at sea--they can be at rivers." "We're not at the river," commented the younger officer, who had just witnessed the gull divebomb a river rat. "We're within the Potomac watershed," stated the older officer, whose wife was always watching The Nature Channel. "But don't the water and stuff flow towards the river, instead of from it?" The older officer shivered and didn't answer--some days he felt like the whole city was underwater.

From her tiny condo kitchen, Laura Moreno looked down in bewilderment at the stake-out car in the alley behind her building. The police car was making its fifth appearance in three weeks. It wasn't even hidden, really, but it had to be a stake-out, right? Surely they wouldn't sit there taking a dinner break in the dark, would they? Or do something nefarious, right there, scarcely hidden at all? She turned on the microwave, thankful to get home to an early dinner. She was tired of hearing people talk about money all day. She wished she hadn't met the retired NASA attorney who was desperate to replenish his lost retirement savings, slaving away for over three years without a paid day off. Her days at Prince and Prowling seemed to be stretching to infinity, like purgatory, and she couldn't remember what she had done to land there.

Laura looked back out the window and saw the recently dining gull take off to the east. It was heading to Urine Park, to scout for river rats near Prince and Prowling, where former Senator Evermore Breadman was just hopping out of a taxi to go to the office after a long day of meetings. The Libby thing was going to have to be handled delicately, to be sure, and he would make a lot of money just talking out of both sides of his mouth on the pardon question. The Walter Reed thing was going to be even trickier, and he was sensing a lot of Administration division over what to do about the Army--meaning consultation fees up the wazoo for him. Still, his colon had been extremely bothersome lately, which was really infringing on his professional enjoyment. He knocked on the suite door impatiently, since Laura wasn't there to open the door for him. He knocked again, his colon in flames, then pulled out his cell phone to call his assistant to le him in. By the time his assistant was cracking a lame joke about the fired astronaut, Breadman was reaching for his Chinatown herb bag in the bottom drawer--the herb bag that was barely keeping him from complete possession by Ardua.

Nearby, at the White House, the gardener Bridge was shivering in the tool shed, listening to ghost voices he wished he couldn't hear. One of the Shackled was watching over Reggie and Fergie, worried. After a few minutes, he left to meet with the other Shackled to talk about what the ghosts of Washington were doing for Ardua.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Flush

Laura Moreno was washing her hands in the ladies' room before departing Prince and Prowling for the week. Bridezilla rushed in to do her business, still talking on the cell phone appliance strapped to her head. Laura dried her hands, then heard a flush accompanied by, "Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, noooooooooooooo!" Laura asked if Bridezilla was OK, but Bridezilla ignored her and shouted to the person on the phone call, "I dropped my engagement ring in the toilet again!" It's a sign from God, thought Laura. Actually, it was Ardua.

Over at Southwest Plaza, Marcos Vasquez was just getting home as two fire trucks were slowly backing out of the parking lot. "Not again," he thought. "The real arsonist or the crazy fire alarm-puller?" He looked up at the destroyed 4th floor balcony, then overheard somebody explaining it had been a kitchen fire. Eighth fire since he had moved to this crazy building. Marcos bypassed the long line for the one working elevator and climbed the smoky stairs to his apartment. The front door was unlocked. He walked in cautiously, examining the dirty boot prints on the floor. Were the firefighters in here? He looked around, saw no soot or water, and headed to the bathroom, where he found a gleaming new water-saver toilet had been installed in his absence. "Damn," he thought. "That's the fifth time they've come in here without notification or permission, and the third time they left the door unlocked." He went to his desk, tapped his answering machine, then...wait? Where was his laptop? He jumped up and started scurrying around the apartment. "Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, nooooo!" The TV and stereo were also gone. Just another day at Ardua's favorite Washington apartment building.

Laura Moreno, refugee from Southwest Plaza, was at the hardware store showing the clerk her toilet handle that kept falling off. "It's broken," he explained helpfully. "Do I need to glue it back on?" she asked ignorantly. "You need a new one, he answered." He showed her what to buy, and she headed home to do maintenance on her condo.

Over at Walter Reed Hospital Annex 5, two illegal aliens were discussing the moldy walls they had been instructed to paint over. One of them was afraid they would get in trouble for doing it when the mold grew through the new coat of paint, but the other one said their boss would fire them if they didn't do it, and they needed to get it done today. They didn't know that their boss was working for a guy who was working for a woman who was working for a guy who was working for another guy who was working for the General that had just gotten fired for leaving recuperating Iraq war veterans in moldy, rat-infested assisted-living apartments. Next door, the plumbing crew had finally ripped enough pipe out of the wall to find the source of the jam--two flushed rats. Ardua was biding her time--she would send more rats out to Walter Reed later. There was a lot of fertile ground there for her to work with--a lot of damaged, frightened, angry people just waiting for encouragement and direction in their life.

Several miles west, Laura was reading her instructions to install the new toilet handle. After twenty minutes of examining the old mechanism and reading the instructions for the new one, she finally understood that the first thing to do was to remove the old one. The instructions said to loosen the screw. She tried her wrench. She tried her needle-nosed pliers. She tried her rubber gripper. She read the instructions again, which informed her that if the screw were corroded, she should simply saw through it with a hacksaw. Gee, she had forgotten to pick up a hacksaw while at the hardware store. She tried pruning clippers from the landscaping committee. She tried the letter opener. She tried a kitchen knife. She pondered whether she should hire somebody with a hacksaw, but her screw wasn't even corroded metal--it was plastic. She was extremely tired, and she had a brilliant idea, but, then again, sometimes when she was extremely tired, her brilliant ideas weren't too brilliant, but she decided to go with it before her second thoughts kicked in. She retrieved a long chimney match from the kitchen, lit it, and slowly began to melt the screw off. She was a genius!

But, much to her surprise, the plastic did not start melting like a gooey candle--it caught on fire! Now, somewhere in her exhausted brain, memories from her former life as an environmentalist who did not work at Prince and Prowling killing brain cells everyday--memories were percolating up about this. It's BAD!--VERY BAD!-- to burn plastic! She was incinerating hazardous waste in her bathroom. Should she put out the fire? If it were only half-melted and burned, she might never get the old handle mechanism off! Why were there hundreds of embers flying up into the air? She turned on the bathroom exhaust fan, rushed to the kitchen to get a face allergen mask, rushed back to make sure the flame had not leapt out of the toilet tank onto something flammable, then watched in amazement as the plastic screw holding the flush mechanism in place burned, and burned, and burned, and burned. Why was it taking so long? She couldn't believe the amount of ash in the air! Is this a PVC incinerator? This is really, really, really bad. At last, she could not stand it anymore, splashed tank water on the fire, and it was done.

A few miles west, Dubious McGinty was drinking himself into a frenzy, furious that the Secretary of Army would get sacked for mold and rats at Walter Reed, even though nobody had sacked him for a single goddammed thing that had happened in Iraq! Dubious urinated off the side of the bridge into the Potomac. Why didn't anything make sense to him!? He was tired of nothing making sense.

At the Watergate nearby, the Bloodsucker was sipping her tomato-EKCG-broccoli-honey-oat-aspirin smoothie and looking out at the Potomac serenely. What a GREAT excuse to get rid of the Secretary of the Army! It's not often that things like that were dropped into their laps. They had loose-cannon John Bolton out there, sowing the seeds for Iran regime-change, they had diplomats warning of the coming descent into general warfare in Eastern Africa, they had stock markets coming unglued from China to New York. They were going to win--it was just going to take longer than expected. She took another sip and smiled again. World War III would eventually be her grandest accomplishment.

A few miles east, Laura was using a hammer and nail to try to knock out the hardened plastic glob remaining wedged to the tank. Why wasn't it soft? She had only let it cool a few minutes. Whack! She finally knocked it out. Still wearing the allergen mask, she installed the new toilet handle one minute later. There were ashes all over her entire bathroom--on the towels, the cabinet, the sink, the toiletries, the shower, the bathtub. Her work in the bathroom had just begun. She tested the flush, and it worked. Just another day that Ardua had kept her at bay, too tired, too tired to do anything that mattered.