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, May 18, 2008

Taken In

Charles Wu was sipping his Ceylon tea at the Silver Spring Panera, looking out on the Chinese Film Festival patrons traipsing back to the Metro station. It was a little embarassing to meet a contact at such a shameless imitation of a European cafe, but it certainly qualified as under the radar, and the gray threat of drizzle lent a serious tone to the afternoon's rendez-vous. In truth, Wu usually did not get much useful information from this man, but even the solid steel veneer of the Chinese government could not avoid suffering a few stress fractures of its own after the recent earthquake in China, and interesting tidbits of intelligence were bound to have leaked out as far as this man. Wu lowered the tea to the table and joined his fingertips in the intellectual deep-thinking position he had picked up at Cambridge all those years ago. He was thinking about the films he had seen at the American Film Institute cinema over the weekend, especially that one love story....It reminded him of the unhappy history of his aunt, who had found a lover almost as star-crossed as Wu's own father had been. And then a funny thing happened: for the first time in his life, it suddenly occurred to Wu that his mother might have lied to him about his father. What was the real story? The man had seen Wu a half-dozen times perhaps, had provided for him, had sent him to university in England (where Wu had sworn off his English relatives after the uneasy--and only--Christmas holiday he had spent with them in Yorkshire). What was the real story? Suddenly, it bothered him tremendously to think that he might not really know it. His father was dead (or was he?), and Wu had already asked his mother for more information than she had been willing to give. (Just being born a bastard, you learn early on that you've already caused enough trouble for one mother's lifetime.) The food shortages in Asia, the death toll in Myanmar, the people buried alive in China--somehow, he kept all those thoughts at bay and pondered, instead, the meaning of his own birth in Hong Kong, and the meaning of the Chinese love story he had seen this weekend. He didn't know what his contact would tell him today, but it couldn't possibly be of more interest to him than what he needed to ask his mother.

Several miles south, Sebastian L'Arche was dog-walking across Lafayette Park, thankful that the rain was holding off, when a bomb-sniffing canine started barking loudly at him and pulling her master's leash in L'Arche's direction. L'Arche tensed with apprehension, uncertain of what was coming next but certain it was not going to be good. He heeled his three charges abruptly and froze in place well before the White House security officers arrived to yell at him. He looked down suspiciously at his newest charge--the Labradoodle owned by a French businessman who was going to be out of town a lot for his new employer--and wondered what exactly it was that the French businessman did. "Sir! Put your hands in the air!" L'Arche complied in silence, knowing his V.A. insurance card was placed in the wallet to be the first thing any arresting officer would see after frisking him. However, the frisk never happened because the bomb-sniffing canine abruptly lay down in front of the old Korean woman's German shepherd and began rolling around playfully because it was her mother. As the two dogs affectionately nipped at each other, the officers looked around in embarassment as a large number of teenage girls from Wisconsin began taking camera pictures and emitting a large number of oohs and ahs.

In an alley two blocks away, a former White House security officer lay down some fresh newspaper on the wet concrete porch he called home. He took off his shoes and socks and started slapping at the imaginary ants crawling all over his feet. He did that for a few minutes, then picked up the bags of half-eaten hot dogs and pretzels discarded by a bunch of teenage girls from Wisconsin. He chewed methodically, but stopped several times to swat away imaginary beetles that were crawling on his face. He had not had a bath in a very long time, but this was not what was making him itch. He yelled out "shut up!" several times, finished the food, then lay down under a blanket to sleep for a couple of hours next to an emergency fire exit door that had not been opened in three years. Tomorrow the noisy Shred-it truck would return to the alley to pick up the legal refuse of the office building, window-washers and electricians would park their cars and trucks alongside the building, and a catbird would try again to whisper Ardua's bidding into his ear--but the ghost that lived inside of him had been a crazy denizen of the White House staff long before she even became a ghost herself, and the battle for control of this man was far from over. As he drifted off to sleep, the sun peeked out of the clouds, but he was too deep in the alley's shadows to feel it. Soon an angel dressed like a scarecrow was telling him he was covered with lice and would have to be shaved. A few minutes later, he was as pink as a shorn sheep and breathed deeply for several minutes until the scarecrow came back for a second pass to shave his arm and leg hairs down to the follicle roots, causing small blood vessels to erupt all over his limbs until, at last, he was covered in blood, and woke up screaming. A hundred feet above him, an attorney taking a break from her computer screen watched this from her office window and wondered how bad the mentally ill had to get in this town before the city would take them in.

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