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 ....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Us and Them

Perry Winkle had never been inside a Catholic church in his entire life, so it seemed more than odd to be attending his first mass inside a baseball stadium. The Washington Post had eight press passes for the Papal mass, and Winkle had been surprised to be assigned one of them. He had already heard about ten different languages spoken, but the crowd had only cheered in English and Spanish. Winkle was thinking about the polygamous cult in Texas, and trying to figure out the difference between faith and brainwashing. There were over 40,000 people in the stands; Winkle surveyed the crowd, wondering how many of those people were evil. He already had a dozen up-close-and-personal interviews in the can for his upcoming "Metro" article about the worshippers, but somehow he could not put his finger on what this was all about--they all seeemd to have come for different reasons.

Several miles west, Ardua was aggravated that she still had not gotten a clear shot at the Pope, though several of her lackeys were still working on it. The starling report on the Pope's meeting with President Bush was inconclusive, but there would still be other opportunities, she hoped. She took some small comfort knowing that her Supreme Court justices had come through with a resounding endorsement of the death penalty this week. And then there was the federal budget analysis--what great news that was!

A couple of miles to the northeast, Liv Cigemeier was at her International Development Machine desk, examining the newly released federal budget analysis. $.42 of each dollar goes to military spending. She read it again. $.42 of each dollar goes to military spending. It was bad before the Iraq war, but now it was $2 billion per week just for Iraq alone. Almost half of her taxes--almost half of everybody's taxes--went to military spending. Everybody who wanted their taxes to go to a peaceful activity had to claw each other's eyes out to get their hands on any money at all. Their grant proposals had increased 200% since 2006 with scarcely a bump in their operating budget, their individual donations were down, their bookkeeper was constantly trolling the postings on Freecycle in a desperate attempt to reduce office expenses, and the president of IDM was frantic to win a large USAID contract--any large USAID contract. Everything Liv had studied in graduate school, all her research trips. her overseas work--none of it mattered anymore. International development was dead...or in a coma. A large peal of laughter interrupted her thoughts--it was Momzilla, telling another story about her gargantuan appetite on her way back from the downstairs coffeeshop. Liv turned back to the draft proposal on her computer screen.

A couple miles to the west, Condoleezza Rice was reading Foreign Service blogs discussing the State Department's recent announcement exhorting officers to serve in Iraq. More than a few bloggers had already declared that they had been "personally offended" that Rice had deemed herself "personally offended" the year before when Foreign Service officers had complained about being forced into a potential death sentence. She was tired of these whiny babies who felt a sense of entitlement to a glamorous jet-set life just because they had passed the Foreign Service Exam. Only one Foreign Service Officer had died in Iraq!!! What's the big deal??!! Sometimes she could not understand the cowardice of average people.

On the other side of the Potomac River, the top budget analyst at the Pentagon was reviewing the final budget memoranda from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. "We need more money!" "The enemy is everywhere!" "Our ports are vulnerable!" "Our silos are vulnerable!" "We're running out of time!" "The American way of life is in jeopardy!" "We need more intelligence!" The man exhaled deeply. His son had been killed a year ago in a college classroom by a mentally ill teenager with an assault rifle; if his son had graduated and finished ROTC, he would have been in Iraq or Afghanistan by now. Mental health services at the university had suffered budget cutbacks for three years in a row, but that was neither here nor there. The nation was at war. A mile away, the whine of helicopters signalled the start of the Pope's exit procession from the stadium, but the Pentagon's top budget analyst couldn't hear it because neither sound nor light could penetrate the rebuilt fortress walls around him.

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