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, August 10, 2008

Cuts Like a Knife

Dr. Khalid Mohammad checked the vital signs as Nurse Consuela Arroyo recited how the patient had fared in the last hour. The pulse was still much lower than Dr. Mohammad would have preferred, but the fact that he had made it through the night seemed a miracle--one he was not entirely certain had occurred without the intervention of Arroyo's prayers. It was the second beheading attempt in three days, though the police had requested that the ambulance and George Washington University Hospital E.R. logs be slightly altered so that the media would have no reason to report a copycat murderer on the loose. Just a stabber. Dr. Mohammad opened the man's eyelids and shone a light into each of the man's eyes, but he proffered no comment for Arroyo to add to the patient's chart. No point in speculating so early about brain damage. Dr. Mohammad stood motionless for a few minutes, still in disbelief that "John Doe" was back in intensive care--had been the victim of two random and brutal attacks within two years. The first had left him with frontal lobe epilepsy and a radically altered (but strangely happier) personality; Dr. Mohammad was loathe to imagine the effect of the second. "Doctor?" said Nurse Arroyo softly, baffled by his trance-like manner. Dr. Mohammad simply turned to look at her, nodded, and headed for the door, calling out almost as an afterthought to maintain the current treatment. Nurse Arroyo pulled out her rosary and stole a few more minutes out of her schedule to pray for him, convinced that the atheistic nurse's lack of prayer was the reason that the other victim lay partially decapitated downstairs in the morgue awaiting transfer to the Chief Medical Examiner's Office for an official homicide autopsy.

A couple of miles north, Sebastian L'Arche was sitting on a bench in Dupont Circle, four tethered dogs frollicking on the grass behind him and an old friend from Iraq seated on the edge of the seat beside him. L'Arche generally tried to spend time in the Circle at least a couple of times a week, but he rarely saw the vet come up from Dupont Down Under. It was quieter these days, with the bigwigs out of town for summer vacation and the return of college students still to come. The vet was scratching his head, sure there was something important he wanted to tell L'Arche--something about some weirdos he had met this week--but he couldn't remember what it was. "You could come stay with me for awhile." L'Arche said this every time, but the vet felt more comfortable with the Freaks below ground. "Just for one day?" L'Arche longed to get the guy bathed and into clean clothes--his stench was worse than that cat lady's house he had been paid to clean out on Tuesday. The vet didn't like to go anywhere without his machete, and he knew L'Arche wouldn't let him take it with him, so he nodded no again. "OK. I need to take Gipper to de-rat the Brewmaster Castle at one." L'Arche walked away as the vet bit his lip, uncertain whether he should tell L'Arche he had seen more Iraqis and it was dangerous out there...but L'Arche always told him it was just the vet's imagination. The vet walked over to the trash can and fished out a Washington Post to read about that anthrax guy.

"It was the ducks," Dubious McGinty explained to Perry Winkle as they sat at the base of the drawbridge dangling their feet in the cool Potomac water. Dubious was rather relaxed these days, knowing that Ardua was weak and hungry with so many of her apostates out of town for their August vacations. "The first beheading was at Urine Park--Dizzy told me about that one. The second one was next to the Canal, and I saw that one myself. This guy was talking to the ducks, telling them that an angel was coming to help them. Well, the sun had barely come up, and I think they were mad because he wasn't feeding them." Winkle put down his pen, already resigned to the fact that he would have to replay the cassette multiple times to understand all this. "Then this other guy walked up behind him, yelled something about Sadr City, grabbed the guy's hair with his left hand and took a swing at the guy's neck with his right hand. Well, the ducks--they didn't care; I mean, they're sick, right?" Winkle nodded. "The ducks are still thinking that food is supposed to be coming, they crowd closer until blood spurts out on one of them, then the guy with the knife lets go of the other guy and starts kicking the ducks with his feet. They all squawk and take off. Now the guy sees me, and he runs off in the other direction. So I went and tied my shirt around the guy's neck, but I didn't wanna be arrested for it, so when I saw some joggers comin', I just took off." Dizzy was finished, and felt he had given Winkle enough to write a Metro article. Since this matched most of the joggers' testimony in the police report, Winkle decided to accept Dizzy's account...but the duck part would go in the book he was writing on the side.

A few miles to the east, a lobbyist sat at the piano in the lower level of the Grand Hyatt, casting lily petals into the shimmering blue fountain water flowing around the little island under the piano. Every few minutes she put down the lilies and played the opening bars of "Fur Elise"; then she would stop playing and strew some more lily petals. This had been going on since she had exited the sports bar at 12:10, after downing three cosmopolitans. She was perspiring in the full-length black knit dress and absent-mindedly hiked up her skirt above her knees. She had started "Fur Elise" for the fourth time when she saw the security guards approaching her. She picked up the lilies and walked away in the opposite direction, forgetting she was on the island and promptly falling into the fountain. Instead of getting up, she just sat in the water, wishing the tears would come, wishing she could tell somebody that she had been with that married man when he got decapitated in Urine Park, but she had run away in horror and fear and shame, and there was nobody to tell now. She was glad before that she didn't love him, but now she wished she had. She didn't pay any attention to the words the security guards were saying to her, but she stood up unsteadily and allowed them to hoist her out of the clear blue water back to solid ground. She kicked off her high heels and started crying for herself.

A few blocks away, Lynnette Wong was in her little apartment replaying the video from the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing--the whole history of China compressed into an over-the-top production that somehow skipped the exact hundred years which had ruined her family's lives. She fast-forwarded through the thousand identical mechanical drummers which just reinforced for her how dispensable the individual Chinese man was to the regime. She got chills watching the soldiers inexplicably goose-stepping while carrying the Olympic flag. And the women! There were no women except for little girls and dancing fairy-like creatures. Even the female athletes marched into the stadium behind the male athletes! It made her sick. Female cheerleaders dressed up like something out of the Dallas Cowboys stadium. She switched her screen back to the chat group discussing the Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong teams, almost thankful that her father had not lived to see the mainland government host the Olympics. It wasn't even communist anymore--it was like a fascist dictatorship. The chat group suddenly veered onto the topic of the bizarre stabbing murder of an American tourist by a deranged Chinese man, and Lynnette wondered if that bothered President Bush more than all the Tibetan murders combined, more than all this Beijing residents forcibly evicted and left homeless to make space for the Olympic structures, more than the men and women in prison for criticizing the government for worshipping in an unapproved church. Sometimes she wondered how it was that people could look at China so differently, then she thought about Charles Wu--who had promised to bring her back some choice herbs for her shop when he returned from China. He loved China and hated it at the same time; sometimes she wondered which of the two was harder to live with.


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