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, June 06, 2010

Project Cinderella

"What is this crap?"

Butler Han Li explained he was serving Red Velvet cupcakes and TangySweet frozen yogurt.

"Who told you to buy this crap? We always have donuts!"

Li apologized profusely to the Chairman of the Heurich Society and told him he would run out to Krispy Kreme right away.

"It's too late for that! Just get the coffee ready."

Li retreated obsequiously to the basement of the Brewmaster Castle to finish preparations for the meeting. He was bored with his job--grateful for it, but bored. He used to find eavesdropping on their conversations fascinating, but as his English improved, he realized that a lot of times when he thought they must be discussing extremely important world events in code, they actually WERE simply gossiping about nonsense. And they argued too much amongst themselves to ever dominate the world--it was delusional, really. So he was bored, and decided to try some different refreshments--it was either that or become an agent for communist China, but he decided he wasn't bored enough yet to attempt that. (He did set himself up a Chinese double agent in Second Life to explore how it felt, but it was just a computer program, and didn't feel like anything.) He sighed, then set out the cream and sugar packets on the black lacquer serving tray.

A few blocks away, Bridezilla was telling psychiatrist Ermann Esse about her recurrent nightmare that a black death was creeping towards America. "Do you mean the oil spill in the Gulf?" She shook her head no. "The bubonic plague, so to speak? Perhaps swine flu, hantavirus, or ebola?" She shook her head no again. "Killer bees?" (No.) "A swarm of locusts?" (No.) "Terrorism?"

"No!" she cried out impatiently. It was clear she was going to have to figure this out herself--the man had no clue! "It's like...a threat, and it's already on our shores, and most people are ignoring it, and birds are dying, and--" she interrupted herself, grasping at the light bulb flickering in her brain. She started thinking about something that guy in her building had said to her at the apartment swimming pool: "Almost didn't recognize you without the wedding gown--[wink]--whoever he is, you can do better". It was the cheesiest, most transparent pick-up line she had heard since college, but it had made her so weak in the knees that she had to abandon her plans to do fifty back dives, and ended up spending hours just lying limply in the sun. "It's like losing discipline...and order," she said quietly to Dr. Esse. "It's like your goals don't matter because something else is...." She trailed off again, uncertain.

"Do you feel you are losing control of your life?" Dr. Esse asked.

"My life?" She pondered this for a moment. "Everybody's lives! America!"

"You feel you are losing control of everybody's lives in America?"

"I was destined for more," she said softly. Dr. Esse was fairly certain she was destined for a completely average life in every way. (He had quite a lot of patients in Washington whom he had to guide gently out of their delusions of grandeur and into the enjoyment of everyday living.) "I mean, he's a software programmer! How mundane is that?" Dr. Esse did not know who she was talking about, but was finally clued in that this was a rebound guy situation. Someday she would realize that rebound guy was the wealthiest software developer in northern Virginia, but for now, she was simply embarrassed to be attracted to him--a guy who obviously spent too much time at the gym to compensate for his mundane life. If she ever talked to him for more than thirty seconds, he would probably tell her some boring story about how he liked to go mountainbiking in the Blue Ridge Montains or train for triathlons. He probably read comic books instead of biographies. And--ahem. Dr. Esse was clearing his throat and looking at her expectantly. Apparently he had been saying something, but she didn't hear it. Dr. Esse had a soothing voice, and sometimes it just washed over her. That guy's voice was different--it was deep and confident and--ahem. Bridezilla blushed and reached for her glass of water.

Several miles away in Silver Spring, Laura Moreno reached for her water bottle, fairly certain her third bout of vomiting was the last. She looked at herself in the ladiesroom mirror and told herself to stop being a wuss. Then she marched back into the contract attorney office space she was supervising for Prince and Prowlling, where the attorneys were on strike until the dead mouse in the kitchenette mousetrap was removed. She couldn't wait for the building maintenance crew to return on Monday: she needed people working NOW. Why did you have to die with your eyes open? The dark brown eye stared up at her accusingly, and she shivered. She placed a piece of newspaper next to the executioner scene, steeled herself, then gently kicked the laden mousetrap toward the piece of newspaper. Her kick was too soft and missed the mark, so she kicked again, but this time her kick was too strong, and the pile of bleeding gray/brown hair bounced across the newspaper onto the floor. Her stomach heaved, and she quickly turned toward the garbage can; this time no food came up, just a spurt of stomach acid. This is ridiculous! She focused her eyes on the very edge of the mouse, planned her kick, then executed it perfectly. She steeled herself again, squatted down, carefully picked up both edges of the newspaper, hoisted the victim into the air, then dropped the pile into the kitchenette trash can. She quickly closed the bag and headed for the exit to deposit it somewhere in the basement or outside. She looked in disgust at the dozen men she passed on the way out, none of whom had stepped up to do this, all of whom believed erroneously that she was getting paid more than them and should be stuck doing it. You would think unchivalrous men and dead mice would help a girl get over her Cinderella complex, but it didn't work like that.

Back at the Brewmaster's Castle, the Heurich Society meeting was underway. Henry Samuelson was making a face after tasting the TangySweet frozen yogurt, and decided to abandon it in favor of a cupcake. (He would have found cupcakes too prissy in his younger years, but old age really liberated a man in many ways.) The military liaison was reporting on how U.S. Special Operations forces had expanded from 60 countries to 75 in the past year--a real triumph for Project Eliminati. The Chair then announced he had made an executive decision and authorized Samuelson to begin Project Cinderella three days earlier. Gasps erupted around the table, and Samuelson was glad that Condoleezza Rice was not connected via conference call. Samuelson swallowed his cupcake bite without chewing, and addressed his peers. "It's true," he said. "The opportunity presented itself unexpectedly, and we took the girl. She's 15, almost no family, emotionally malleable, coming off several traumas." He looked around triumphantly. "And fluent in Spanish." (Arabic or Chinese would have been better, of course, but bilingual fluency meant a mind receptive to additional linguistic training.) There were several oohs and ahs around the table. ("Where is she now?" someone asked.) "Kansas," said Samuelson, with a smile on his lips.

A few miles to the west, the Warrior sat on the Virginia shore of the river and wiped the perspiration off his forehead with his sleeve. It was time to leave this place--and this demon--behind. "I'll be back," he whispered menacingly to Ardua of the Potomac, but she just laughed. The Warrior had not been to Kansas in fifty years, but it was time. He turned and began the long trek. I should have gotten her involved, he thought to himself, pondering Golden Fawn, but this was her time in life to be happy, and he knew it. "I will save this girl if it's the last thing I do." The Warrior was over 400 years old and had made similar utterances several times, but this time he wondered if it would really ring true.

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