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, September 30, 2007

Think Pink

Angela de la Paz stared out the window at the bright blue sky, wishing she could go back to the Friendship Garden. "You're not gonna finish your homework that way!" admonished her cousin from the other side of the kitchen table. Her cousin should know, after being told last May that he had missed too many classes to graduate: it took him all summer to convince Cardozo High School to let him re-take two classes this fall in order to get his diploma this coming January. Angela smiled wanly at her cousin and turned her gaze back to the science textbook, but her thoughts were quickly wandering again, this time back to her grandmother. Everything had changed so abruptly. If her cousin hadn't moved in to take care of her, she would be in foster care. She could still end up in foster care if the school or the social workers found out. Her cousin wasn't even 18 yet, but at least he had a job, and they could pay the bills...sort of. The city had not checked on them or taken care of them all this time; Angela did not yet know the meaning of the word "ironic" but she knew how cruel it would be for the city to check on abuela now. Angela sneaked another peek out the window and saw her pink warblers, and she felt a little better.

Several miles away from Adams Morgan, Dr. Khalid Mohammad was also staring out a window at the blue sky, wishing he were somewhere else. He sipped his coffee without looking at it. His thoughts turned to the failed kidney transplant and he put the coffee down, wondering what the shape of his own kidneys would be in a few decades. "Dr. Mohammad!" It was John Doe, who cheerily sat down to join Dr. Mohammad for a coffee break. John Doe was going to be here forever because his family had the money to keep paying, even though there was nothing more the hospital could do for him--the hospital which had used a little old lady on welfare as a kidney transplant practice surgery for a couple of interns. He didn't know that for sure--Dr. Mohammad tried to shake the thought off, and asked Doe how he was doing. "I had three seizures yesterday," Doe said, with a grave look on his face. Everybody knew that Doe actually liked having seizures, and as soon as he was on a medication that reduced them, he would start complaining of unbearable side effects. "I had a dream about a dragon breathing fire over Washington, and then a great beast reached up from the Potomac River and pulled it into the water!" Doe was the happiest temporal lobe epileptic in the world, and refused to believe the incontrovertible proof provided by his embarassed family that he had been an important Washington attorney before a thug's baseball bat made him forget everything. "Then I dreamed there were pink dolphins in the Potomac--PINK!" Dr. Mohammad raised his eyebrows the appropriate half-inch. Now Doe leaned across the table and lowered his voice substantially: "I also saw ghosts. There are ghosts in this hospital!" Now this I can believe, thought Dr. Mohammad, as a couple of The Shackled hovered in the Intensive Care Unit above the bed of a True Believer.

A mile away, some other Shackled were hovering above Lynnette Wong as she did tai chi next to the Potomac. The Shackled had seen a lot over the centuries, but they were simply amazed at the pink dolphins and how much Ardua detested them--though it remained unclear what they might actually do to Ardua. The Myanmar violence was weighing heavily on Lynnette's heart. She had hoped desperately that China would intervene in Burma, but China did nothing. Charles Wu had told her a long time ago that her family had been gone a long time from Asia and didn't understand it anymore. He had also said that optimism was the political creed of the blind, though he did not know she had overheard that remark. She stretched out her leg with determination, fighting to keep her balance as Ardua reacted to the shock wave emanating from Lynnette. He's right, she thought to herself. I don't know Asia, and maybe that half-breed is more Chinese than I am, but I know I can do something about this. She glared at Ardua, who had killed her father years before. I will take you out if it's the last thing I do! She had to figure out what the pink dolphins meant...but they came from China, and she didn't know China anymore.

Over at the State Department, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness was typing up a memo-to-file on the failed Saffron Revolution as his girlfriend wailed on the speakerphone about how the State Department never speaks up for human rights. He paused to assure her that the Secretary of State was doing all she could behind the scenes. "Which means she's doing nothing! Suddenly she starts talking about global warming--NOW??!! Is that supposed to be a joke? We should fight global warming the way we fight terrorists??!! We're LOSING the war on terror!!!! And when is she going to speak up about Myanmar--twenty years from now??!!" Got that right, thought "C. Coe Phant" as he walked past the open door, trying not to laugh out loud at the rant coming over the speakerphone. Buddhist monks were not on the Bloodsucker's A-list and were not going to the Heurich Society ball.

Back at the hospital, a troubled soul broke free from its broken body and began navigating between the calls of Ardua and The Shackled as the soul debated whether to stay in Washington or move on.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Endless Wars

C. Coe Phant directed the Pakistani cab driver to pull over as soon as he spotted Charles Wu at the predetermined exchange point two blocks south of Eastern Market. He handed the driver a fifty and stepped silently out of the taxi. Wu smiled politely at him without speaking, then entered the taxi and greeted the cab driver. "National Arboretum," he said, plucking some errant crumpet crumbs from his bermuda shorts and flinging them out the window. He picked up the envelope left behind for him, read what was in it, stared out the window for a couple of minutes, drummed his fingers on his knees, then began questioning the driver about the Taliban's declaration of war on Musharraf. He pulled a Cross pen out of his polo shirt pocket, jotted down a few notes on the back of the envelope, then slipped the envelope into his cargo pocket. Never get bogged down in a land war in Asia. He smiled to himself, remembering where he had heard that line, but he wasn't really happy. Britian was losing its relevancy in Asia, America was in over its head, and China's economic engine was getting jammed by American recalls. The ascendancy of heroin-financed tribal warlords was not a direction that he wanted to see Asia go any more than his clients did. He knew from Pippin that the Bloodsucker was placing her bets on India's nuclear program, but he wasn't. Wu directed the driver to take him to the Asian collection, where he was going to settle in for a few hours of deciphering encrypted messages amidst the camellias.

Dr. Devi Rajatala walked past the taxi, shepherding a few tweens on their way back from volunteering in the Friendship Garden. She was worried about Angela de la Paz, whom she hadn't seen or heard from in weeks. She suspected that the grandmother had died, and Angela was laying low, afraid of being placed in foster care. Maybe the older sister could take care of her, or maybe her father had been able to sneak back into the country, or maybe she had run away to try to find her mentally ill mother. Dr. Raj didn't know what to do. She was getting tired of not being able to solve things, and of caring about troubled kids that came and went from the Friendship Garden. The whole point of the Friendship Garden was to teach these kids the joy of growth and creation, instead of death and destruction, but what lesson was she learning?

Several miles west, Lynnette Wong was sitting under a broad-rimmed hat, relaxing after her tai chi at the side of the Potomac River. She watched the pink dolphins and pondered her next step. Her tote bag was full of new plant samples she had taken, but she was worried that she could not go much further in this quest--she still wasn't sure exactly what she was up against here, and it was getting frustrating. She still didn't know why the pink dolphins were there, though she was fairly certain that she was the only one who could see them.

A canoe floated quietly by her. The occupant was not rowing, but, rather, staring intently at a strange electronic device in his hands. It was a physics professor from Georgetown University, and this was his fifth round of ion analysis in two weeks. The negative ions that moments before were numbering less than 100 per cubic centimeter had just shot up to over 100,000-the equivalent of leaving a smog-covered freeway and approaching a waterfall in a pine forest. Another minute passed, and the reading dropped back down to almost nothing. He was on his third machine, and they were all showing the same wild fluctuations--not on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis, but seemingly by the minute. He had stumbled across the most unstable energy system he had ever seen in his career, and he had no idea why.

Golden Fawn looked curiously at the man's hand-held device as Marcos Vasquez paddled their canoe to Roosevelt Island. He had a plan for hiding the smoke, and he was going to help her do her mojo, even though she herself was pessimistic about her chances against Ardua. Deep in the water, Ardua braced herself for another assault and gathered her allies. A few hundred feet away, a rental truck began crossing the Teddy Roosevelt bridge into Washington. Ardua looked up in surprise and delight at the bundle of wickedness arriving unannounced, and breathed it in: it was a newly appointed judge for the Superior Court, and his name was Sowell Ame. Golden Fawn shivered, the professor watched another swing in the ions, Lynnette Fong got a headache, and a dozen ducklings followed their confused parents out of the river in a dazed march toward the canal. Even the Shackled circled the air in bewilderment, wondering why this war seemed endless.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Where are the important people?

Golden Fawn leaned on Marcos Vazquez's arm as they approached the anti-war protesters gathering in Lafayette Park. Marcos was nervous about it, and wondered if anybody he knew would see him there, but he knew she wanted to be there and he wanted to be with her. They found an empty park bench away from the mainstage and sat down. Her ribcage and upper arm were still stiff and raw from the radiation, but she was starting to regain control and agility. The chemotherapy was finished, her appetite was returning, and her hair was growing again under her sunhat. She got out the sandwiches as they settled in to listen to the speakers, neither in a hurry to get up and start marching.

Dr. Devi Rajatala walked past the bench, fascinated by the array of messages displayed on signs, t-shirts, hats, buttons. Santa Claus was walking around on stilts with a message calling for the troops to be home by Christmas. Hillary Rodham Clinton was a giant puppet with swastikas on her sleeve. There were pink ladies, orange people, a large sign saying "make cupcakes, not war", then a completely different person actually eating a cupcake by seeming coincidence, and it was all a little confusing. Dr. Rajatala stopped to look at the permanent peace tent facing the White House, then noticed two dragonflies buzzing confusedly above a small fenced-in patch of grass. She moved closer to the dragonflies to analyze their behavior. Outside the patch of grass was a sea of human beings. The dragonflies must have taken refuge in the only patch of nature not convulsing with human activity. They flew from edge to edge of their invisible wall, like buzzing little Marcel Marceaus pantomining a box. No, that didn't make sense. They could fly above the people if they wanted to get away. Maybe they th0ught the people were a riot of flowers. No, that made even less sense. It must be the noise overwhelming them, or--

As Dr. Rajatala slipped momentarily away from political action back to her customary mode of scientific curiosity, Laura Moreno also stopped at the permanent peace tent and surveyed her options. Nearby, somebody started yelling through a megaphone about how 9/11 was an inside job. She moved a little west, only to discovered an evangelical preacher in the midst of a never-ending sermon having something to do with war and the prophet Jeremiah. Laura looked back and realized she had inadvertently chosen the corner of the park furthest from the main speakers, whom she could not hear at all and whom were now separated from her by too many other people. She resigned herself to listening to the preacher and hoping she would be able to meet up with her friends. The sun began baking her unprotected arms into a deep red as she escaped the Prince and Prowling dungeon for a weekend, synthesized natural vitamin D for the first time in months, and wondered if she could change the world more by being at this rally or sending out more resumes. She knew she was in the right place when she saw a guy walk by with a t-shirt depicting Dick Cheney and George W. Bush pointing at each other: the cartoon bubbles indicated that Cheney was saying "I'm with stupid" while Bush was saying "I'm with Satan".

Dr. Khalid Mohammad was also near the preacher for a few minutes, then walked over to listen to a man explaining how servicemen were being implanted with electronic tracking devices--like dogs. The man had x-ray pictures showing the devices implanted in the web of the hand between the thumb and forefinger, and Dr. Mohammad examined the photos carefully, wishing he could see the original x-rays. This was not a secret, the soldiers were knowingly doing it, but it was still unnerving to Dr. Mohammad to look at the photos. Like dogs.... He pondered all the legitimate reasons to do such extreme dog tags, but it was still unnerving to him. Like dogs....

Dr. Mohammad looked up and saw Sebastian L'Arche approaching with several dogs on a leash. Since the owners were out of town, he had decided to take an extra long walk today. Sebastian paused momentarily to see the display about implants, impulsively checked to make sure his own had really been removed, then continued walking towards the main stage to find the Iraqi veterans planning to get arrested. A girl tugged one of his leashes to stop him, "Where are the important people?" He looked at her incomprehendingly. "The VIPs! I want to hear the important people speak!" Sebastian told her he was heading over to the Iraqi veterans group now. "No, like, celebrities? Important people?" He smiled mischiefly and told her that he was, in fact, walking Anthony Scalia's dogs. "Who's that?" Sebastian stopped smiling and pointed to the main stage, which could barely be seen or heard from the White House side of the park where they stood. "Thanks!" She headed off to push her way to the front of the crowd. He scratched his head. Where are the important people? Maybe this would work better if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were here....

Meanwhile, Perry Winkle was stationed several blocks away, waiting impatiently to write a predictable Washington Post article about how the counter-protesters would be trading verbal missiles with the passing marchers. He thought the Park Police with pepper spray goggles on their horses were a bit much, but what did he know? He noticed an unusual sign and walked over to interview the woman who had penned "My politics are too complex to fit on a placard!" It was Bridezilla, who was baffled when Winkle asked her if she had a website which explained her complex politics. When asked to give an explanation of her complex politics, she rolled her eyes and pointed to the sign. Winkle tried to point out that it could be an hour or more before the protesters got to this block, and he was offering her an opportunity to explain her complex politics in the The Washington Post. Wince stretched his arm out to pull Bridezilla back. "We're not interested in being misquoted in that paper. Our views are already publicized."

"OK," said Winkle. "You fellows look to be about 25 years old. Did you already serve in Iraq?" This time it was Atticus Hawk who stepped forward, forehead arteries pulsing, to scream that they were serving, and their missions were too top-secret to discuss. "OK then!" Winkle backed away politely, subconsciously moving closer to the mounted police. This was going to be interesting.

Hours later, they could finally see the marchers round the corner and start streaming down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. A sea of signs, videorecorders, cameras and cellphones were raised up to document the march, and as the full throng of marchers fanned out on Pennsylvania Avenue, it became clear that the number was ten times the forecast of 10,000 people. Winkle turned on his tape recorder as the first marchers began sideswiping the counter-protesters. Close to the barricades separating the ideologies (or realities), a woman with an impeachbush.org hat was leading a train of protesters holding up hundreds of feet of stringed up photocards for soldiers killed in Iraq. The site of the parade of the dead inflamed the counter-protesters like nothing else, and a man started screaming, "How dare you!?! Traitors! Traitors!", which was immediately met by protesters screaming back that the other side were the traitors, and the exchanges quickly deteriorated from there. The woman who had made the stringed tribute was startled by a man who ran up to her, pointed to a picture, and hollered that he had known the man while they were students at Virginia Military Institute. She told him she was sorry and continued marching.

Slowly, hours behind schedule, the people poured onto the grounds of the Capitol. The Capitol Police--clearly having expected a far smaller crowd--scrambled to mobilize additional units. City police cars began blocking off city streets and joining the Park Police in perimeter control as the protesters mobbed at the steps of Congress to seek impeachment. The Iraqi war veterans marched to the front and began peacefully climbing over the police barricade to elicit arrest, but more agitated protesters surged forward violently, and the police let the tear gas fly. Anthony Scalia's corgi whimpered in pain, slithered out of its collar, and ran away as Sebastian L'Arche hesitated between dog-walking duty and the call of honor. Then John McLaughlin's Great Dane knocked L'Arche down protectively and pinned him to the ground. When the smoke finally lifted, 200 people had been arrested. The corgi, having narrowly missed being trampled by Santa Claus on stilts, ran back to Sebastian L'Arche and began licking his face.

Overhead, the circling starlings departed to report back to Ardua, while the Shackled lingered at the scene. A couple miles away, Clio was watching the protest on the White House closed-circuit TV, straight from the security monitors. The twins ran into the room for a minute, stared at the screen, giggled in a little too high of a pitch, then ran back to their Barbie Dream House. Clio sighed, knowing it would take a lot more than an impeachment rally to get rid of the evil in this place. Maybe if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had gotten arrested....

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Britney Spears at the Watergate!!!

Bridezilla and Wince were shopping at the Watergate Hotel liquidation sale. Bridezilla thought it would be so cool and so Washingtonian to get a piece of Watergate history for their very own dreamhouse--wherever that was going to be. "We just have to get an armoire," she was telling him. She pronounced "armoire" in the exaggerated version of the Lyons accent she had picked up during her junior year abroad. "C'est formidable!" Wince had his doubts whether the French still used that expression, but he kept his doubts to himself. His cellphone rang, and he rejoiced to see that his law school roommate had finally showed up. After a quick consultation, Wince told her he would go fetch Atticus Hawk from downstairs and be back in a jiffy. He kissed her on the cheek, because she didn't like her lipstick getting messed up in public, and hurried off.

Downstairs, Atticus was in the lounge staring apathetically at the barstools; he was still depressed about the departure of Alberto Gonzales, or, to be more accurate, anxious about his own choice of allegiances inside the Justice Department. But surely things would not change much? Just because he had been inside the DOJ circled wagons would not doom him, right? Ever since the announcement, Atticus had started having nightmares about the Guantanamo detainees who had committed suicide. In each nightmare, he would have a moment where he thought he was awakening from the nightmare, only to find a Guantanamo ghost in his bedroom; the ghost would point a finger at Atticus, mouth the words "your memo, your memo, your memo," then Atticus would scream and really wake up. "They have monuments to liberty. And freedom of opinion, which is well and good. But I explained to them that Architecture is not justice." Somebody tapped him on the shoulder, and he jumped. Wince was giving Atticus a puzzled stare, and Atticus realized he had just been mumbling aloud some words from a poem written by a Guantanamo detainee. "Hey!" Atticus sqeezed Wince's shoulder, summoning back his mask of cheer. "Let's do this!" Atticus didn't give a rat's ass about finding a souvenir from the Watergate Hotel, but he knew finding something for his boss would be a legitimate excuse for not being in the office today. They headed upstairs, leaving behind Sami al Haj's poem "Humiliated in the Shackles" to be contemplated by the nodding Dubious McGinty, who had been sitting on the barstool closest to Atticus.

Six floors above them, Charles Wu had found and entered the Watergate Hotel room he had been seeking--a large room (almost a suite) with a fine view of the Potomac River. An auction house employee was leading a McLean power couple over to the bed to discuss with them the majestic oil painting on the wall above it. Wu opened up his portfolio and pretended to jot down notes about the dinette set he was circling, then nonchalantly approached the regal writing desk against the side wall. He sat down at the desk, then slowly opened each drawer to run his fingers across the grain like a fuddy duddy antique stalker. There! He found the false back in the right middle drawer, triggered the three necessary release buttons, gave a passing swipe with his longest finger, detected the paper, then nonchalantly removed his hand and closed all the drawers again. He scribbled the Cantonese symbol for "yes!" on his notepad, then closed it to wait for the saleswoman to come assist him with his purchase. He ran his hand across the polished mahogany, finally noticing the beauty of the desk itself, never giving a thought to the swath of Amazonian rainforest destroyed to provide its wood. Nor did he give more than a passing thought to the cat and mouse spies who had perished since regularly communicating with each other in this room in recent years. Wu was the only one who knew! He could hardly contain his glee. Wu did not notice that Henry Samuelson was watching this display of glee from a hand-held mirror in the hallway.

In the high-rise next door, Condoleezza Rice had already put on display her souvenir purchase from the Watergate Hotel--a Tiffany piano lamp. She sat down to work on her anonymous blog, whose readership had fallen off precipitously since she had gotten too busy to write more than once a week. "ZAK EFRON IS DREAMIE!" she typed. "BRITNEY SPEARS! PARIS HILTON! NICOLE RITCHIE! LINDSAY LOHAN" she added. There had to be a more dignified way to lure people to her blog?! She yawned, too tired to read the tedious emails she kept getting about how to expand readership of her blog. She got up to go make a smoothie. Deep down she knew the blog was really just for herself, but, every now and then, she wished it could reach more people. She sat back in her red leather recliner, and Pippin jumped into her lap. She stroked the cat and smiled. One by one, she was getting rid of all the cowboys standing in her way. The Heurich Society had relaunched with far more success than she had even imagined. And now there were neo-Nazis in Israel! World War III was shaping up to be even wilder than she had originally planned. She finished her smoothie and got up to continue writing in her blog, always feeling inspired after a few minutes of staring at the river. Hundreds of feet below her, Ardua was smiling, too.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Alberto's Up in Smoke

The Freaks of Dupont Down Under had sent a delegation out of their tunnel world and up to P Street to see the street-level view of the damage: Alberto's Pizza was all burned up. So were Subway and DJHut, but the Freaks knew that the fire had started in Alberto's, and they knew why. A catbird sat in an underwatered and browning curbside tree and chirped out imitation firetruck siren noises. The Freak delegation went back underground to report on the extent of the damage. There was a lengthy argument about who was at fault--the Freaks or the Feds--and the final consensus was that it was the Feds. It was the Feds who had started the war for underground real estate, and the Freaks were only defending their home! But nobody was really sure what had happened.

In the tunnel next to them, the Feds were carefully putting a final seal on the opening they had used to get into Alberto's at 3 a.m. on Thursday. The evidence collected was already in a large black van marked "Homeland Security", miles away, on its way to Dick Cheney's undisclosed secret location. The operation had been a lot messier than usual, but the commander did not mind at all the final result. His lieutenant sure did, though--a big fan of those pizza slices with the sweet and tangy sauce, he had voiced his doubts about the Alberto intelligence to no avail.

A hundred feet above them, Charles Wu walked slowly past the boarded-up building. His source had already told him it was a DHS hit, and he was nervous that they had struck so close to his own source on P Street. But it was probably a total coincidence. He walked a little further. But what if it was a false hit? Then they would be back. He resolved to dump his P Street source just to be on the safe side. He turned the corner and walked quickly to the taxicab parked under a dying tree, where the Pakistani driver was waiting to give him a ride and tell him why Musharraf was stalling on power-sharing promises.

Several miles away, another Pakistani taxi driver dropped off former Senator Evermore Breadman at the Prince and Prowling building. Breadman grabbed the door as Laura Moreno walked out. He smiled politely at her, not really remembering who she was. "The water is off in the building," she informed him. He told her he knew that--didn't she see the All Office email about it? "No," she smiled wanly. "I don't get the All Office emails." He shrugged jovially and continued into the building: he only needed to pick up one file.

Laura headed home, aggravated she had wasted her day off going into an office with no running water and no functioning bathroom. But she needed to earn more money to take additional medical tests. She was starting to wonder if she was caught in some kind of vicious cycle where her job kept making her sick, but she had to keep working more hours to pay for the health care to deal with getting sick. She had just been told she had a Vitamin D deficiency, for crying out loud! She was in a windowless workroom so much that she wasn't even getting enough sunlight, and was on the verge of getting rickets. Rickets! And her entire system was INFLAMED. INFLAMMATION! It was like her body was screaming at her, screaming at something. The naturopath wanted her to spend $3,500 on a strange battery of tests that couldn't even be done locally: she was supposed to collect her own saliva and urine, and then mail them to a laboratory in Florida. This would determine if (a) she was allergic to 125 different substances and (b) her stress hormones were on overdrive. Would getting an answer to either of those questions be worth the money? She needed to get out of Prince and Prowling.

A couple of blocks away, President Bush was settling back into the White House. One by one, they were leaving him. Even Laura was annoyed with him because he had admitted to the reporters that he cries a lot. Laura didn't mind him crying a lot--she just didn't like Lynn Cheney making fun of it. Outside, Breadman was already walking towards the White House, a folder of Attorney General candidates in one hand and a designer bottle of water labeled "Prince and Prowling" in the other. A pancreatic cramp suddenly seized him, and he doubled over for a minute. "Are you alright, sir?" A White House security officer was already at his side, and a second was preparing to radio for assistance, but Breadman righted himself and told them he was alright. Days like this were his days to shine. Alberto Gonzales would rise like a phoenix from the ashes thanks to Breadman, and Breadman would make a lot of money, and Breadman would probably be able to pick the next Attorney General. Inside the White House, the ghosts watched as Breadman approached, a couple of Shackled trailing behind him. A flock of starlings flew overhead, on their way to report back to Ardua.