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, March 13, 2011

She Who Must Be Obeyed

Congressman Herrmark was up at dawn, something his Greek bodyguards had not expected the day the clocks lost an hour. It wasn't as if Herrmark expected them to be up, since they all relied on the burglar alarm system at night, but still they would have preferred to have made the coffee and microwave pancakes as soon as they heard him stirring. Instead, when they raced downstairs to see what the stirrings were so early this morning, they were shocked to find him reading the funny papers and eating a bowl of cereal and milk--shocked both because he had managed by himself to disarm the burglar alarm before opening the front door to get the newspaper and because he had mistaken a box of Fiddle Faddle for breakfast cereal. "Mornin', boys," he said without looking up from "Rhymes With Orange", which he always studied carefully for subliminal subversion. They greeted him, and Nick put on the coffee while Costas got out the microwave waffles (a Sunday tradition in the bachelor household). Herrmark was tapping his leather slipper nervously on the Italian marble floor, still shaken up about the nightmare he had in which the Islamist hearings on Capitol Hill had turned up proof that he was at that Muammar Gaddafi New Year's Eve party on St. Bart's with Mariah Carey. There were watchdogs everywhere (more than Joseph McCarthy could have imagined in his wildest dreams), and it had never been less pleasant to enjoy the perks of office. Here it was, March already, the clocks changing (!), and he had yet to attach a single earmark to any legislation, or plan his first Congressionsal research trip to a tropical island yet. Hell, I'd be lucky to put together a fact-finding mission to Italy or a troops visit to that U.S. warship in the Mediterranean Sea! Not until Congress authorized aid for refugees, anyway. Japan might be a pleasant visit at this time of year, but radioactive Japan? Nah, I'll leave that to somebody else. Tunisia is seaside, but it's fairly stable--the only fact-finding mission I could do there would be in a refugee camp, and to hell with that. He let out a big sigh, and Nick silently pushed a steaming cup of coffee in front of the Congressman's face. "Thanks, son." (He usually called them "son" because he could not tell the twins apart, but they were used to it since that's what their own parents called them.) He noticed a loose thread on his silk robe, and the thought occurred to him that it might be time to plan another fact-finding trip to the "garment factories" in the Marianas--none of the current watchdogs had that on their radar screen right now. "She's a bitch," he said out loud, without realizing he had done so. (He was referring to fiscal discipline, but the twin bodyguards just shrugged at each other and kept eating.) "If only I could find a warm, tropical island that had hydrofracking...."

Several miles away, the Heurich Society was meeting to discuss Project Prometheus and Project Cinderella. Oil prices had gone up dramatically, just as predicted, but revolutionary staying power in the Mideast was uncertain at best. Condoleezza Rice was again telling them over the speakerphone that they were putting too much reliance on young agent Angela de la Paz, but Henry Samuelson would hear none of it. "She's inside Project R.O.D.H.A.M.," he snarled, "and the Egyptian army calls her 'she who must be obeyed!'" The first part was true, though it might be argued that she had passed them more information than vice versa; the latter was something he has mistranslated from a recorded transmission, since what the Egyptian army actually called her was "she whose gaze must be avoided" because anybody that ripped her veil off reportedly did not live to identify her. Rice cackled over the speakerphone that there were too many variables and they needed more agents on the ground, but Samuelson countered that the whole point was that Angela de la Paz was going to be subverting Project R.O.D.H.A.M. to the Heurich Society purposes. Debate around the table became vigrous, and Samuelson fell silent, sullenly chewing his pecan coffeecake and taking notes about who at the table was with him and who was against him.

A few miles to the east, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton carefully examined an antique bunny flower vase as a possible Easter gift for Chelsea while Charles Wu looked on encouragingly. "It's the Year of the Rabbit," he offered. At first she thought this was a code for something, then she remembered he was talking about the Chinese zodiac. "Let me get it for you," Wu said, and he pulled his wallet out and gestured to the Eastern Market vendor manning the booth. (It was not a bribe, but rather a gesture to assist Clinton in remaining reticent behind her sunglasses and Chicago Cubs baseball cap.) The rabbit safely ensconced in bubble wrap and tucked under the arm of Wu, the two walked on. "You know the dangers inherent in your mission this week?" Clinton nodded. "Aside from your official security, we now have 43 Reserve Officers deployed in Tunisia and 311 in Egypt--mostly men, but a few women. One of the female agents in Egypt is a double-agent, but we know who she's working for, and we decided it better to keep her--"

"Are you out of your mind?!" Clinton interjected.

"Forgive me, Madam Secretary, but we know precisely who she's working for--it's a secret society here in Washington. And so far she has not actually done anything counter to our interests."

"What society?"

"The Heurich Society," Wu said.

"That's a Condoleeza Rice operation--"

"Madam Secretary, I can assure you that Rice's influence in it has waned dramatically. Their interests in the Mideast are ultimately financial, but their operative's actions are useful to us right now. There's also a strong chance she can be turned altogether--some think she's barely 17. The Egyptian army is enthralled by her, and yet they are loathe to talk about her because she's a girl, so her actions have a lot of power. She won't be on your guard detail in Egypt--she'll be isolated at the margin during that time. She's fed us a lot of intelligence on the Egyptian military, and it's all been true."

The Secretary of State walked on slowly in silence for a few minutes. "Charles," she said at last, "do you really understand how much I have going against me on this trip, simply because I'm a woman?"

"I wouldn't be serving Project R.O.D.H.A.M. if I didn't, Madam Secrtary." This was a lie, but actually he did understand. Wu, who had adored his mother as much as any son could adore a mother, and worshipped women his whole life with the simple ardor of a young man repeatedly enthralled by the siren call of the fairer sex in its most fundamental essence, could never understand why any sensible men would construct societies in which beautiful faces were hidden behind veils and warm bodies were more a myth than a reality. This would have been enough! But then, as it turned out, there were actually women intelligent, insightful, and persistent--and endowed with a host of other qualities that entitled them and even impelled them to positions of leadership that he could not help but admire. Women like Hillary Rodham Clinton--whose will he had once obeyed as a means to an end, but now obeyed because he trusted it. "It's going to be a long, long engagement in the Mideast, and some of the dominos might fall in the wrong direction, but this is our best chance," Wu added. (By "our best chance", he realized he was talking about issues that seemed very remote from the Hong Kong issues that had started his espionage career so long ago, but even China was slowly coming to see that there are times you don't want to end up on the wrong side of history.)

A mile away, Dr. Devi Rajatala had received a surprise visit from her rich cousin, and he couldn't stop talking about his girlfriend, Bridezilla. Rajatala knew that several in their personal circle had already named the girl "she who must be obeyed", and Dr. Raj was debating whether she should admit this to him. "I poured M&Ms into a bowl Friday night for us to eat while watching the video," her cousin said, "and after I put my hand in the bowl, she took out a disinfectant wipe from the dispenser and rubbed some M&Ms on it before eating them."

Dr. Raj fought back a gag as she handed her cousin a weed whacker and tried to make him do something useful in her National Arboretum elm tree study area. "You know that is toxic?" she said, and he nodded. "Did you tell her?" He shook his head. "She cannot be the mother of your children!" exclaimed Dr. Raj, almost wincing at how old-fashioned her words sounded, but still certain they needed to be said. "She will make your children sick doing such things!" Dr. Raj also wanted to tell him that Bridezilla is crazy, but this seemed too cruel.

"But I can get a green card if I marry her!" he exclaimed. And this was true, but he said it because he was embarrassed to admit he was very hung up on the girl, and wildly nursing hopes she would get better someday.

"You have developed the most important virtual reality war games system the Pentagon has--you can get a green card without her!" said the arborist/biologist as she scraped some bark samples for the laboratory. She noticed he still had not pulled any weeds for her.

"That's not true!" he argued, although he was not entirely certain on the point. "Anyway, I already asked her to marry me, and she said yes." Dr. Raj dropped her container on the ground. "We're getting married in June. I'm calling Mom and Dad tonight so they can get a visa and book their tickets." Dr. Raj said nothing. "Of course, the wedding has to be here--she's scared of...Indian germs, I mean, tropical epidemics." Dr. Raj picked up her bark sample and stared at it more intently than she had ever stared at a container of bark before in her life.

A couple of miles away, Golden Fawn's grandmother was sitting silently in the canoe, staring down into the depths of the Potomac River as Marcos Vazquez paddled slowly past Theodore Roosevelt Island so that she could have her first look at she-who-must-be-obeyed. Ardua had cramps all over from the baby demon growing inside her, and groaned almost pitifully at the affront of this newest visitor. She reached up to knock over the canoe, but the grandmother rapidly lifted her hand and stopped the blow, which left only a small ripple at the stern. Vazquez looked at his wife, then kept on paddling.

COMING UP: Congressman Herrmark plans a junket, and International Development Machine "wins" a $5,000,000 grant from a mysterious donor.

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