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, March 04, 2008

Rapid Response

Perry Winkle was falling off the drawbridge into the Potomac. This had never happened before, and he had visited Dubious McGinty several times now. His first thought was, "I wonder how cold the water is?" His second thought was, "I'm gonna die!" What he didn't know was that it hurts a lot when you hit water from a height, and he was crying in pain as he sunk into the river, thereby swallowing water. He immediately forgot which part of his body had hit the water first, and began swimming down instead of up. He suddenly remembered that you're supposed to exhale and then watch for the direction the air bubbles rise, but it was dark, and he could see nothing. Up in the abandoned watchman's quarters, Dubious was watching early primary results on one of the fancy news programs he could now watch since Winkle had brought him the satellite dish; he didn't know that Winkle had been on the bridge. Not too far away, Marcos Vasquez and his Coast Guard partner had been patrolling up and down the semi-balmy tourist coast all day, and were speeding towards Winkle's splash wake.

Several miles east, the Department of Homeland Security was having an emergency of its own at an unmarked annex building for the Capitol Police--not the kind of emergency for flashing lights and blaring sirens, but the kind where their discreet (barely marked) black van pulls up and the DHS officers quietly exit the van and walk (do not run) to the nearest entrance. Unfortunately, although the Capitol Police were outranked by the DHS badges, this did not stop them from initiating their own police response. Soon the hazmat response team, fire department, mounted police, sniffer dogs, and riot squad were crawling all over the building...because the DHS officers had refused to tell the Capitol Police what was happening. This, in turn, resulted in an exit stampede of illegal aliens who had been laying navy blue carpeting on the third floor, and the DHS officers were nearly trampled to death in the stairwell. Angry, they got on their walkie-talkie and broadcast in the secure frequency that the Capitol Police needed to lock down the building. As the DHS officers made their way to the target, another exit stampede erupted of workers who had seen the fire trucks and hazmat team. Cursing vehemently, the DHS officers finally reached the target telephone line, which was still registering a live connection to an intercepted person of interest. A curly-haired boy of about three years was holding the phone to his ear and mumbling toddler Arabic words to the confused professor on the other end. He smiled warmly at the DHS officers as his mother returned from the photocopy room and screamed at the sight of drawn guns pointed at her son. They turned the guns on her instead, and five minutes later, she and the boy were in the discreet black van, not to be heard from for a very long time.

Not too far away, Judge Sowell Ame was looking at the clock and yawning, wishing desperately to find an interesting case to bring to trial. He had accepted this gig expecting a host of exciting cases ripped from the headlines of the world's most powerful city, but all he seemed to get were tenant complaints, personal injury lawsuits, and real estate disputes. Laura Moreno again? He frowned at the motion for a hearing, having been warned in advance not to rule against that defendant ever. He set it aside for his law clerk to examine for procedural errors. Ermann Esse? Where have I heard that name? He Googled the name, perused the results for a few minutes, wrote a note for the patient's tort to be dismissed, then added it to the law clerk's pile so that the supporting citations could be gathered. Boat club? After several minutes of reading, Ame groaned heavily, realizing he had inherited a takings case that had been stalled in Superior Court for almost ten years because the previous judge had never ruled on the motion for summary judgment. What the Hell...? Believing his predecessor must have harbored a serious aversion to constitutional rulings, he started digging through the files to see why the judge had not punted the case to federal court. Several minutes later, Ame found a pile of notes, a folder of newspaper clippings, and an envelope of photographs. He thumbed through the materials, frowning several times along the way. Could it be? He took a closer look at the notes, some of which seemed to be in code or shorthand. He exhaled deeply and put the file down, now believing that his predecessor had been collecting records on Potomac drowning deaths near the boat club out of a fear that they were not accidental. That's nuts. He took another deep breath and decided to take the oral arguments in the case. As if some boat club's gonna rub me out!

Several miles northwest, the Heurich Society was just getting started, and Henry Samuelson was again annoyed that Condoleezza Rice was not there. "I mean, how many times does this woman have to go to the Middle East? What's the point?" He was reminded that she was in full support of the Moon Township Plan, and would defer to their decisions at this meeting. "I don't buy it!" Samuelson muttered. "I think she's got her own agenda!" He was then reminded that she is, after all, Secretary of State, and sometimes had to serve other people's agendas. "Hogwash! She's a smart lady! She does what she wants." A few eyes were rolling, but not all of them. The Chair changed the subject, announcing that they needed to discuss the Presidential primaries and the Society's next phase of election work. Samuelson sat back in his chair, expecting the world to look very different by the time November rolled around.

Back in the Potomac, Marcos Vasquez's partner was pulling up Perry Winkle from the depths; Vasquez breathed two sighs of relief--one that the victim had been saved, and the other that there was no sign of Ardua. Vasquez helped them onboard and began CPR on the victim as the rescue swimmer caught his breath. A minute later, Winkle came to and began spitting out water. Vasquez gave him the standard Coast Guard reassurance speech, but Winkle had scarcely begun breathing before he was asking them if they had seen the dolphins. The Coast Guard officers shook their heads, and Winkle was incredulous. "They saved my life! My foot was stuck in something, then these dolphins came and started pulling me out. That's the last thing I remember." The officers explained how the rescue swimmer had pulled Winkle up, but he was insistent: "My foot was caught in something--like tentacles, or teeth! It was horrible! I think it was Ardua! I couldn't move, and then these dolphins came, and they were squeaking and clacking, and then they were ramming something, and then my foot was free and they started pushing me, but then I couldn't breathe anymore." Vasquez said nothing as his partner calmed the man down and encouraged him to take slow, deep breaths. Vasquez checked Winkle's pulse and blood pressure, thinking the man looked vaguely familiar, pondering what had really happened down there, and wondering how Winkle knew the name Ardua.

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