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, October 26, 2008

The Reptilian Brain

Sebastian L'Arche was at Eastern Market helping out with a pet adopt-a-thon.  One of his colleagues had given him a "dog whisperer" t-shirt to wear, which he had reluctantly put on.  He didn't like people asking him how he had gotten so good with animals.  First, he had stopped talking to his platoon-mates.  Then he had started whispering to the scorpions to kill all the cockroaches.  Then he had started using mental telepathy to drive away the flies.  Then he had trained a couple snakes to eat the rats.  Then he had started taking care of Iraqis in cages.  "This is a Jack Russell terrier," he told the pony-tailed legislative correspondent who might or might not be out of a job in a month.  "He's pretty stupid, but all you have to do to make him happy is take him outside and throw a ball straight up in the air about 20 times a day."  He demonstrated this for her, and she smiled as the dog gleefully jumped up and down.  The Iraqis had trusted him because he understood their needs without speaking a word of Arabic, and because every time he was on duty, he retrained the guard dogs to understand that their job was to protect the prisoners.  If you put an animal in a cage, the animal's life was in your hands--and there was no greater duty.  "This snake is defanged.  She's the ideal pet for a basement apartment because she'll eat mice and roaches.  Also, she'll always look for damp spots, so you'll have an early warning system for leaks."  Sometimes he could still see the faces of the Iraqi prisoners, and the worst part about leaving Iraq was not knowing what happened to them.  "This is a Siamese cat.  She's completely self-centered and the perfect pet if you travel a lot because she won't care.  But if you want her to cuddle with you, you just need to keep your home cool, and she'll come to you for the warmth.  He fur color blends in with any decor."  He could still barely remember the day he had been discharged for cutting a tattoo out of his hand with a knife because he was tired of it staring at him.  That was still a little bit early in the war--if he had done that later in the war, they would have medicated him into a zombie and kept him in Iraq.  That is a homeless Iraqi war veteran curled up on a subway ventilation grate for warmth.  In a little while, he'll wake up and go look for food.  You can't adopt him because he's a human being and cannot be caged against his will unless he's a danger to himself or others.  Sleeping in his own excrement does not count as danger, but if you adopt a pet here today and let it sleep in its own excrement, we will repossess that pet.  "This is a puggle:  it's a cross between a pug and a beagle."  The newlyweds were oohing and ahhing appropriately at its cuteness.  "He's a little hyper, but he's smaller than a beagle and won't need as much exercise.  He'll probably only grow another few inches."  He left the nesting couple to play with the half-grown puppy, stepped around the homeless veteran, and went over to take the chimpanzee out of her cage to meet her bespectacled admirer from the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.

Several miles to the west, Dubious McGinty was sunbathing outside the watchman's quarters on the drawbridge.  He had lined up all his plates and silverware on a towel beside him to sunbathe too because Perry Winkle had told him that sunshine was the best disinfectant.  He was in a bad mood.  First Ardua had killed that boy during the drowning rescue drill, then he had seen that ABC News report that 12% of the soldiers serving in Iraq were being psychiatrically medicated by the military doctors to keep them functional.  In his day, you medicated yourself--cigs, weed, LSD, booze--whatever you could get.  Except opium and heroin, because those would kill you...unless that's what you wanted.  Sure, soldiers got crazy in Vietnam, but the crazier they were, the more the brass seemed to like it.  Another helicopter flew over his head, and he instinctively gave it the finger.  Nobody gave us a bottle full of happy pills or sleeping pills--they wanted us tense and awake.  He reached for his jar of vodka tomato sauce and took another swig.  What am I gonna do about Ardua?

A few miles north, two-hundred feet below any glimmer of sunlight, the Freaks of Dupont Down Under were having a meeting to discuss the upcoming election.  "Who's gonna protect us?" was the constant refrain.  The decade-long legal morass which had kept their tunnels safe from encroachment was in danger of imminent resolution.  The yoga women were afraid of the masculine energy that would arrive if the space went to Washington Sports Club, the homophobes were afraid of the Velvet Foundation's aspirations, and the communists did not want to see the Dupont Circle Citizens Association spew forth bourgeois propaganda in the guise of a "cultural space".  The Elders were having trouble explaining to their brethren that any of these groups would evict them.  "Our only hope is to vote in the D.C. Statehood Green Party--they'll slow down everything.  If that doesn't happen, we may have to find a new home"  This was met with stony silence until a Desert Storm veteran said quietly, "We need to draw a line in the sand."  Nobody knew what that meant, but loud cheers erupted anyway.

Three-hundred feet above the unwashed masses, Heurich Society members were arriving at the Brewmaster's Castle to discuss contingency plans for the national election, under the close scrutiny of a larger than normal troop from the Shackled.  For the Shackled, the best thing about being a ghost was, of course, you no longer had a fear of death.  The members of the Heurich Society measured their own importance by the number of people in the world who wanted or had ever wanted to kill them--or who would want to kill them if they knew what those members were up to.  Kill or be killed.  It was a simple enough motto that it never had to be stated in the Heurich Society.  How could the Shackled ever do anything about a group so terrified of death?  A flock of starlings arrived to settle in on the window ledges, their beady eyes trained on The Heurich as the donuts and conversation began to flow.

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