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 ....

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sit Down

Alberto Gonzales sat down on the couch and kicked off his shoes. He couldn't believe students had heckled him at the Harvard Law School. What kind of world was this? The truth was he had hated law school. Why did he even bother going to his 25th reunion? Why did he think that would be a refreshing change from being heckled by Congress? Wasn't he the most important lawyer in Washington? Where was the respect? Outside his house, a car cruised by with the radio blasting, "If I swallow anything evil, put your finger down my throat!"

Several miles away, former Senator Evermore Breadman tried to get up, but his expensive doctor gently pushed him back down, and pleaded with him to get the surgery. "Nobody's cutting me!" shouted Breadman. He had no time for surgery. Wasn't he the most important lawyer in Washington? No time! "You can pour Liquid Plumber into my guts if you have to, but nobody's cutting me!" Breadman's guts were full of Chinese herbs fighting the evil spirits festering inside him, and it was a painful battle. The specialist groaned, wondering why he had agreed to see Breadman on a Sunday anyway.

Two blocks away, Dr. Khalid Mohammad was working the George Washington University Hospital emergency room, doing vaso vagal tests on a man who had fainted after standing at a party for 90 minutes arguing about Alberto Gonzales. "Sometimes you just have to sit down, and if you don't, your brain will run out of blood and your body will make you sit down." The man grumbled in annoyance. He had practiced law in this town for four decades! He had worked in the Department of Justice! How the heck was he supposed to sit down in the middle of an argument about Alberto Gonzales! Dr. Mohammad groaned, and turned supplicatively to the worried wife, who agreed she would make sure the man sat down at least once an hour.

Three floors above them, John Doe's sister sat down to try to talk him into going home with her. The amnesiac's identity had been established months ago, but he still refused to believe anything they told him about his previous life. A lawyer! Hell, no, he wasn't going to be a lawyer. He was having visions of God and angels almost every day! That was more important. "As long as you keep telling the doctors these things, they aren't going to let you leave. Don't you understand that? Those are just hallucinations from the temporal lobe epilepsy. You have to tell the doctors that you understand that so that you can come home." But John Doe would never tell a lie--only truth could come from his lips now. Why did they want to give him medicine to stop these seizures anyway? He loved his TLE seizures. As his sister again started telling him about the extremely important law practice he had and how vital it was to work on getting better, the synapses speeded up the electrical impulses in his temporal lobe until he blacked out and entered deep inside himself. His eyes went vacant, and he rocked himself slowly. His sister stopped talking in mid-sentence, interrupted again by God. She looked out the window at the Watergate a couple of blocks away and waited.

Over at the Watergate, Condoleezza Rice sat down in her red leather recliner. She sipped her celery/quince/rutabaga/lemon/soya/horseradish/cherry smoothie and stared out the window. First the cowboys, and now the lawyers--they were all pissing her off. She dug her nails into the chair arms, thinking about George Tenet's book and his appearance on "60 Minutes". Why couldn't she work with people like Kissinger? Lawyers were ruining Washington. People should lead, follow, or get out of the way, and there were too many lawyers standing in her way. And now Congress was going to hold hearings on why they didn't let a bunch of foreigners come streaming into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina under the guise of bringing aid? Puhlease, the State Department had more important things to do--they didn't have time to screen visas and cargo for New Orleans charity relief! Too many people in this town kept losing sight of the big picture. After a few more sips, she calmed down and felt ready for the week to come. Down in the Potomac, Ardua looked up at Rice and smiled.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day

Dr. Devi Rajatala watched the sun set over the Friendship Garden at the National Arboretum, where the high school kids had spent three hours pruning, mulching, and planting for Earth Day. It was so good to see winter over and spring on its way. She finished locking up the supplies and headed out, still thinking about the quiet kids, wondering if they were secretly building up an emotional rampage of death and destruction. She was especially thinking about Angela de la Paz, who had not talked much to her since Dr. Raj had told Angela that there is no such thing as the pink warblers Angela had insisted she had seen. Dr. Rajatala was thinking she should have let Angela tell her more about the pink warblers. A vivid imagination used to be considered a good thing. Dr. Rajatala resolved to get the kids to talk about themselves more, but she really didn't know how--she was just a botanist. Sometimes this place was serenely beautiful but nobody was really seeing it.

Angela de la Paz was already on the bus home, thinking about the used walker that had been donated for her grandmother. Her grandmother was in pain all the time, and she didn't know why. The last time abuela was in the hospital, Angela had tried to tell her about the pink warblers because Angela was thinking maybe they were angels, but abuela had not understood.

Several miles west, Condoleezza Rice awoke with a start, and for a minute she did not understand where she was or what she was doing. She had fallen asleep in her red leather recliner, watching the sun set over the Potomac. She reached for the glass to finish off her wheat grass/acai/soya/papaya/tumeric/raspberry smoothie. She looked at the reddish drops at the bottom of the glass and vaguely remembered a dream about pink birds. She didn't know that Ardua of the Potomac had woken her up to make the dream stop. She wiped the red drops from her mouth and got up to do something--anything--because she couldn't become an old woman going to sleep this early in the evening. She logged on and started Googling various spellings of her name because one of her hobbies was sending people anonymous emails correcting the spelling of her name.

Several miles northeast, Charles Wu was reading Korean emails about nukes heading south and wheat heading north. There was a lot of chatter about the weakening U.S. position in Afghanistan, the instability in Pakistan, and the Chinese threat. "Why is the Miss Condoleezza Rice here not?" was the typical question from Asia. C. Coe Phant posted an email about how the Bloodsucker was playing an elaborate chess game to maneuver the world into World War III. C. Coe Phant had started calling her that after he had accidentally mispelled her name on a State Department memo and gotten demoted. That's also when he had decided he would only get a raise by taking his knowledge outside the State Department. Wu continued reading until one of the Koreans changed the subject to talk about the shame of the Korean killer in Virginia, followed by a condemnation of the moral cesspool of the United States. Wu did not like reading about non-political crime, so he switched over to a lengthy Iranian email dialogue about oil prices and the "election" chaos in Nigeria.

A few miles to the southeast, President Bush was rereading the jokes he had not gotten to deliver at the Gridiron Dinner, because people had told him it was too soon after the massacre to tell jokes. But plenty of other people had told jokes! It wasn't fair! He chuckled to himself at the jokes and stuck them in a drawer for later. One of them was about nappy heads, but it was funny, and not in bad taste at all.

A few floors below him, Clio was braiding Reggie's hair while Fergie rubbed his hands disappointedly over the buzzcut he had just received. Clio could hardly finish the braids, she was so tired. Clio didn't know she had HIV because she had never been tested. Clio didn't know she should be tested because she didn't know that her ex-husband had cheated on her before the twins were born. The twins knew she had HIV because sometimes the Shackled ones talked about it--for some reason, the Shackled kept saying it was very important for Clio to keep working at the White House, and the Shackled were worried about the HIV. Reggie wanted to leave the White House, but Fergie liked it there--they argued about that a lot in their secret twin language. Clio put them to bed and smiled at their innocent baby faces as the White House ghosts settled in for the night.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Living

Laura Moreno was washing her dinner plates and staring out the kitchen window at the return of the police van to the stakeout position, wondering what they were doing. The day's torrential rain had knocked the pollen out of the air, but her throat was scratchy anyway, so she knew she was locked in battle with a virus hitchhiker from the legal sweatshop she had inhabited all week--a cesspool of coughing mucusites gasping for oxygen. Six straight days of sweatshop work, and now Sunday was quickly dissipating like a blown dandelion. Six straight days of sweatshop work coming up, and one day of rest was not enough to make the swelling go down in her hands. There had to be a better way to make a living.

Down in the police van, the rookie was thinking the same thing. He could not believe this stupid assignment had come up again. "Why do they take this seriously? It's never gonna happen!" His partner did not reply. His partner loved this assignment because it gave him time to sit and think, two things the rookie was not interested in doing. The rookie turned around to look at what was in the back of the van. He did this every five minutes because his partner wouldn't explain it to him.

Several miles to the south, Sebastian L'Arche was approaching home after finishing his last pet courier run--500 miles of rainy driving, then the brutal drop-off in Alexandria, where the dogs had gone berserk as soon as they neared the Potomac River. There had to be an easier way to make a living. He detoured around the police barricade blocking off the scene of another shooting, and cursed to himself.

L'Arche's car splashed Perry Winkle as the car turned the corner. Winkle didn't notice because he had been getting soaked by cold rain for two hours already. This kind of monotonous crime was not the reason he had come to D.C. to be a Washington Post reporter. Winkle was thinking there had to be a better way to make a living. A hundred feet away, a mother continued to sob for her son, whose slaying seemed anything but monotonous to her.

The slaying was a little monotonous to Ardua of the Potomac, but every little bit of evil helped her cause. Ardua looked up at Atticus Hawk, who was traveling the bridge to Virginia after a long Sunday at the office. Atticus Hawk had spent the first two years of his Justice Department career writing endless briefs on Guantanamo, but had recently been sucked into the wagon circle for Alberto Gonzales. It was so stupid! All the crap that Gonzales had pulled, and people were up in arms about some political firings? That was nothing--like Al Capone getting arrested for tax evasion. For a split second, Hawk thought that maybe there could be a better way to make a living, but Ardua reached up and patted him on the back. By the time Hawk finished crossing the Potomac, he was already feeling pretty good about himself again. He was in the wagon circle! He was in the elite!

A few miles to the east, White House butler Clio was putting her twins to bed. Then she started packing up the Easter decorations for next year, except for the photo of Reggie and Fergie at the White House Easter Egg Roll. She put that photo up on the refrigerator, hoping it would remind her that there really was no better way to make a living than slaving away here. She took her medicine, then turned out the lights and went to bed early, exhausted before the week even began.

A few floors above her, a few of the Shackled were hovering on a White House balcony. They didn't feel the rain or the cold wind: they were discussing how to deal with the stubborn and vicious ghosts haunting the East Wing. Nothing they had tried was working. There had to be another way to save the living.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Bunny

Angela de la Paz helped her grandmother into bed. Abuela could hardly walk anymore, but her last visit to a misguided emergency room staff had yielded nothing but a negative x-ray for fractures and a dose of Tylenol. The diabetes was inching closer to taking abuela's legs. Angela wished her grandmother a final "Happy Easter!", then returned to the kitchen to clean up. She looked at the pile of dirty dishes and pans, and paused to bite the head off her one chocolate bunny. She didn't know that her grandmother was already planning to return to the store Monday morning to buy Angela a real pile of candy after the prices got slashed. Abuela was praying for God to let her continue to walk, but His will be done. Abuela wasn't afraid of dying, and she wasn't even afraid of not walking, but who would take care of Angela? Abuela didn't even realize that it was already Angela who was taking care of her.

Several miles west, Hue Nguyen was merrily handing out chocolate bunnies to the residents of the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged. "Hey, watch this," said Buckner. He picked up two marshmallow chicks, inserted toothpicks into their sides as lances, then placed them face-to-face in the microwave. As the heat caused the chicks to swell up, the illusion arose that they were marching towards each other with lances poised to stab. Wham! It was no illusion! Chick #1, pierced mortally by Chick #2's lance, exploded all over the microwave. Everybody burst into hysterical laughter, even Hue. For a few moments, their home was the happiest place on Earth, and Ardua seemed very far away.

A few miles east, Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice was sitting back in her red leather recliner for the first time in weeks, gazing out at the Potomac. She was methodically chewing through her imported chocolate bunny laced with French orange liquer while listening to a Bach CD. She was sick of the Middle East--too many men that won't listen to a woman, even when she's the smartest person in the room. Her jaw opened wider, and her bunny bites grew larger. And those British fools! Boy, did they get played by Iran. World War III was not being executed properly, and she was starting to get very annoyed about it. Now her mouth was full of bunny. And Pelosi! Boy, would she like to smack her.

A few hundred feet below her, Ardua had been sulking at the bottom of the Potomac, disturbed by the Easter spirit, but now perked up. Condi was back! Ardua had missed Condi.

A few miles south on the Potomac, Marcos Vazquez was in his Southwest Plaza apartment chewing on the chocolate bunny sent by his mother from Puerto Rico. He was watching the continued efforts of two idiotic pigeon doves to build a nest inside the utility room inadvertently left open by sloppy workmen on Vazquez's balcony. Two little eggs rolled around on the wind-swept balcony floor. Occasionally their mother would stop to reexamine them, then rejoin her mate in stuffing twigs into the control panel. Talk about poor family planning! What he didn't know was that they had, in fact, built a nest before laying those two little eggs, but a catbird had kicked out the eggs and laid her own in that nest. They knew their babies were probably dead, but they didn't quite want to give up on them, even as they built their new nest to lay new eggs. Pigeon doves never give up hope.

A few miles north, the White House butler pulled the chocolate bunnies out of her protesting twins' mouths and sent them to brush their teeth and get their jammies on. Clio wrapped the bunnies in tin foil and put them in the refrigerator, next to the urine sample she would be taking to the lab first thing in the morning. She shut the refrigerator door, poured out a glass of water, and took her prescription bottles out of the cabinet to dose herself before tucking the twins in. They had been strangely quiet today, almost serene. What Clio didn't know was that the White House ghosts were confused into silence by Easter, and had stopped bothering the twins. Reggie and Fergie climbed into bed and awaited their mother's arrival to read The Velveteen Rabbit. Clio walked in and smiled because she lived for moments like this.

Back at Southwest Plaza, Golden Fawn chewed on her chocolate bunny in defiance of the chemotherapy nausea. She closed her eyes and thought about Ardua and thought about the breast cancer. She stuffed the rest of her bunny into her mouth delightedly. Golden Fawn had made up her mind to win.

Monday, April 02, 2007

D.C. Sweatshop

Laura Moreno was sitting in the ladies room at Prince and Prowling. The ladies room was her happy place, but she couldn't hide in there forever. She got up and made her way back to the Sweatshop, where they had brought in a 100 additional contract attorneys to speed through a billion pages of discovery documents in one week. She sat down at her temporary work station, massaged her achy hands with lotion, patted them dry, then pulled on her SmartGloves. She pulled up the next document on the computer screen: it was a Norwegian-language user's agreement for I-Tunes. She clicked the non-responsive tag, then clicked to the next document. It was a Portuguese-language user's agreement for I-Tunes. She clicked the non-responsive tag, then clicked to the next document, and the next, and the next--hundreds of pages of I-Tunes files. Then she got hundreds of pages of computer crap downloaded straight from a hard drive root directory. Her thumbs shrieked in pain from the clicking, even though she kept switching hands left/right and putting the idle hand on ice. She pulled out her therapeutic magnets and jammed them into her gloves.

Sitting across from Laura was Alan, an older gentleman who had recently served on a Mayor's commission; he listened to Gospel music CDs all day long. Next to Laura was Ali, an immigrant from Sudan; he did immigration law, but the clients rarely paid him, so he had to do this work occasionally. Ali told her that Darfur was in "southern Sudan" and had nothing to do with where he came from in the North. Ali also told her that it was the Somalis who were the most violent people in Africa. Next to Ali was Ruthie, an evangelical Christian from California who had only come to D.C. for a couple of years to get an "East Coast experience". Next to Ruthie was a girl that goofed off all day sending text messages to her friends, and spent her breaks in the back room sitting on a particular boy's lap; the boy was actually a divorced man in his late 20s, but chatting him up was more important than actually doing any work to earn her paycheck.

At the next table was a harried mother of two, desperate to earn money but sad that she could barely see her kids more than a half-hour before bedtime. Next to her was a former Capitol Hill staffer who couldn't find better work after his Member of Congress got indicted; he passed his days listening to intellectual Podcasts and occasionally looking at documents. Across from him was an attorney who had spent twenty years at NPR before being downsized; she was thinking about opening a flower shop. Next to her was a guy who had recently moved to D.C. and was waiting confidently on a federal job application he had put through last month; there were dozens of people just like him in the room. There were also dozens who had put through those job applications last year, or the year before, and were now facing the reality that they were trapped in a law firm sweatshop.

Bridezilla stepped into the room and immediately started fanning herself against the oppressive heat of 100 bodies trapped in a small place full of computer equipment. "We've been reviewing some of the work, and there are a few problems." A hundred defeated faces stared up at her blankly. Bridezilla didn't care which were the people causing the problems: she was going to give the lecture to all of them, together, because it was important to treat them all identically, like robots, or the clone army in "Star Wars". She didn't know that three of them had actually gotten married in the church of her upcoming wedding, or that five of them lived within two square miles of her, or that four of them had the same car she had, or that two of them had gone to the same college as she had, or that thirty of them currently had treatable diseases which had not yet been diagnosed because of their lack of health insurance, or that nineteen of them had billed more hours than she had last year but had not received a single paid holiday or day of vacation. The lack of oxygen was giving her a headache, so she wrapped up her comments quickly and left the room. Deep down she really didn't care how they coded the documents because two of her bridesmaids had just told her they couldn't afford to be in her wedding, and she had to find two new friends, so a hundred highly-educated brains went back to doing monkey work for peanuts, while D.C.'s greatest problems remained unsolved.

Three floors above the Sweatshop, former Senator Evermore Breadman was trying to wrap his own addled brain around recent developments in the Mideast. That was one thing he missed about the Senate--having a couple dozen bright minds around him to read copiously and analytically, then tell him what the Leadership wanted and what he should do. His intestine groaned ominously. Since leaving the Senate, he had yet to see a situation in which he could not make money, but he was starting to have reservations about that Condaleeza Rice. What was she up to? Why did it seem that World War III was developing from the Horn of Africa to the Silk Road while she was playing a fiddle? Some of his clients were getting nervous about their investments, and he was having trouble assuring them that everything was under control.

The ringing telephone interrupted his thoughts. "No shit!" he exclaimed, having learned that the Supreme Court just handed down a 5-4 decision against the Administration on climate change. How did that happen? Kennedy swung? He hung up the phone, pulled out a fresh piece of paper, and began writing notes on how he could make money peddling carbon trading. Then he put that piece of paper in the drawer as a back-up, pulled out a fresh piece of paper, and began writing notes on how to revive tax subsidies for nuclear power plants. His intestine convulsed, but he made sure he finished writing his notes before pausing to take his Chinese herbs. Outside his window, the flock of starlings sitting on the ledge turned their gaze from Breadman (who had just stopped thinking about World War III) over to the White House.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Another Night at Southwest Plaza

Marcos Vasquez walked through the unlocked and broken gate at Southwest Plaza, past the schizophrenic muttering to himself and walking in circles in the parking lot, past the empty security guard desk, past the wheelchair-bound transvestite complaining via cellphone, and past all the broken elevators, then started climbing the stairs to his apartment. On the way up, he saw an older woman pausing to rest, her grimacing face reflecting the crippling arthritis inside. "May I help you, ma'am?" She opened her eyes warily, but her face softened at the sight of the Coast Guard uniform. He lifted her up firefighter-style, and carried her the remaining three flights up. Then he went back down a flight to pick up the syringes and condoms he had spotted in the stairwell. He was thirsty when he entered his apartment at last; he washed his hands, pulled a beer out of the fridge, then sat down in the dark to stare out the window. When he had signed up for the Coast Guard, he had never anticipated he would someday spend a day babysitting cherry blossom tourists in Washington, D.C. Letting his partner worry about the entire checklist of possible terrorist activities they were supposed to have been monitoring for the Department of Homeland Security, Vasqez had spent the day looking at the water itself as they motored into, out of, and around the Tidal Basin. The only threat out there was Ardua.

One floor above him, Golden Fawn was also sitting in the dark, meditating. She had performed three exorcisms in the past two weeks. She rubbed her knuckles over her bald head, trying to squeeze the pain and dizziness out. Who the hell was the sadist who invented chemotherapy? She couldn't talk to her grandmother about it because she didn't have the courage to perform any mojo on herself. Anyway, she wasn't possessed, no matter how her grandmother tried to link the breast cancer to Ardua. It was a different battle. She rolled over, remembering the deranged ducks and their bizarre, almost psychotic, mating rituals outside the National Museum of the American Indian. Most people didn't know enough about mallards to realize something was wrong with them, but Golden Fawn knew. They were better now...as were the others. She closed her eyes and started drifting off to sleep until the screams of a battered woman running past her door made her jump up. A wave of nausea knocked her back down, so Golden Fawn reached for the telephone to call the police.

Three floors below Golden Fawn, the police were already in the building. They had just discovered a decomposing body inside a smelly apartment. They believed he had died of natural causes and old age, but they were wrong. They were interviewing Neighbor #2 and taking notes.

The schizophrenic entered the floor from the staircase at the other end. He had to make a phone call, but his phone didn't work because water had leaked into the phone jack and the management hadn't fixed it yet. Mold and mildew carpeted his draperies. Plywood covered his balcony sliding door because management was doing something to his balcony; he had no other window, and he could not understand why he had no window. He forgot whom he was supposed to call. He forgot he was hungry. He went to bed, breathing deeply and inhaling the spores. He didn't know what the spores were, but he felt them every time he woke up and knew they had been burrowing around inside his body all night. He closed his eyes and started feeling as if he were rocking on a sailboat. It was very soothing. He didn't know why he felt this way because he had already forgotten about the boat ride his uncle had taken him on to see the cherry blossoms today. He liked the boat feeling in his bed--it was magic, like being rocked to sleep as a baby.

Four floors above him, the battered woman was running out of breath, tired of screaming, tired of seeing doors slammed shut instead of opening up to her. She saw a fire alarm and pulled it. Coincidentally, two floors below her and at the other end of the building, the serial arsonist had just dropped a torch down the trash chute again because the starlings had told him to.

It was a typical night at Southwest Plaza, a half mile from Ardua of the Potomac.