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, December 22, 2013

Decked in the Halls

"Come on, everybody, it's time to deck the halls!" chirped Giuliana Sunstream, handing out garlands made from plastic soda bottles which had been cut into long spirals by a device she had purchased for $9.99 on QVC.

"We paid $200 to get into this party, and she's making us do the decorating?" protested John Constantine, a D.C. coroner dragged to the "Lifestyle-in-Style!" holiday party by his girlfriend, Ann Bishis.

"It's totally worth it!" said Bishis, the Chief of Staff for Congressman John Herrmark.  "Look!  I think that's the niece of Antonin Scalia!"

"Who cares?!"

"Let's ask her for tape."

Far from Susntream's trendy NoMa neighborhood loft, Glenn Michael Beckmann was roiled by the competition from new lifestyle blogger Giuliana Sunstream, often forgetting that his own lifestyle blog had started out as a complete disguise so that his political posts would not be monitored by the National Security Agency.  (The N.S.A., in fact, was onto him--but they had not yet cracked his code.  This was due to no shortcoming of their own but, rather, the fact that Beckmann sometimes forgot it was all a code and wrote actual sentences about lifestyle.  Thus, yesterday, when attempting to write a rant about the anniversary of the Federal Reserve Board and how it was responsible for stealing credit card numbers from Target shoppers, he found himself lost in his own code, and quickly going off about the dangers of bringing actual pine cones into the home--recommending, instead, that people deck their halls with empty cereal boxes--which are "as colorful and festive as store-bought ornaments, and unlikely to carry hoof and mouth disease, like pine cones".)

Beckmann was particularly outraged that Sunstream was new to D.C., but had the audacity to charge people $100/head to attend her holiday party and learn her partying ways.  Therefore, today he was blogging about how true Washingtonians throw holiday parties--and for his confused readers that knew the encryption code, his blog appeared to be criticizing Congressman John Boehner for scheming with Raul Castro to sell nuclear-armed Predator Drones to Somali pirates.  (For the N.S.A. team deciphering today's blog post, it appeared to have something to do with Hugh Jackman's using his holiday concert hosting gig at the National Building Museum as a cover for smuggling...well, for smuggling kangaroo tails from Australia to use for bribing Supreme Court justices...which is why they were continuing to tweak their faulty code-breaker.)  "Damned tooth fairies are ruining Christmas!" Beckmann concluded.  (This was, in fact, an indictment against his insurance company, which had told him he had maxed out on pharmaceutical benefits for 2013, and would not reimburse again until 2014.)  "Only sugar plum fairies allowed!"  (His confused readers thought this last bit was about how Santa Claus is white; the N.S.A. believed it was about firearms.  Mostly it was about his lack of anti-psychotic medication for the past six days.)

Back at the trendy loft in NoMa, Chloe Cleavage was preparing to bob for apples--except that the apples had been replaced by vanilla-caramel-coated pomegranates, and the bobbing would be done in a crystal bowl filled with champagne--because "alcohol kills germs, and tastes better!"  Several men were jockeying for position as Chloe's assets were bent over and spilled into view.  The men sighed in disappointment as she emerged all too quickly with a gooey pomegranate stuck in her teeth...and makeup dripping off her chin.  "Next!" chirped Sunstream, who had not foreseen that a woman could be stupid enough to dunk drugstore-bought makeup into a bowl of champagne.

Several miles to the west, the Heurich Society was enjoying makeup-free champagne punch (and other goodies) at its annual holiday party at the Brewmaster's Castle.  "2013 was a disappointing year in many respects," conceded Chair Henrietta Samuelson, "but I am confident we will rebound in 2014."

"What makes you say that?" said a former N.S.A. analyst.  "The War on Error was a complete failure.  Do you have a new plan?"

"It was a bit feckless," crackled Condoleezza Rice over the speakerphone, "but I would not call it a complete failure.  We did secure several landfills for rare-metal recovery."

"What?" asked a surprised Samuelson.  (Everyone was silent.)  "Was there some project I didn't know about?"

"It was a subcommittee project," said a former CIA operative, finally.

"We don't have subcommittees!" protested Samuelson.

"My mistake," crackled Rice over the speakerphone.  "The important thing is that we purchased these locations at garbage dump prices, and our rare-metal recovery rate is already 300% of what was forecast."

"I didn't see any new revenue in the bank accounts!" exclaimed Samuelson.

"Those metals are too precious to sell," scoffed a member of the National Chamber of Commerce.  "We're stockpiling them!  Someday we might be the only people on Earth able to build cellphones, MRI machines, and smart bullets."

"Huh," said Samuelson.  "And what's the objective of that?"

"World domination," said Angela de la Paz, entering the upper floor meeting room.  "It's always world domination."  The visibly pregnant Angela walked past the champagne punch and began piling mini-quiches and Christmas cookies on her plate.  "It's a waste of time," she added, sitting down next to Samuelson.  "I think our mission in 2014 should be 'world damnation.'"  ("What?!")  "'World damnation.'  There's a lot of evil in the world, and we could fight it."

"That's a very noble sentiment at this time of year," crackled Rice over the speakerphone, "and your thoughts are understandably turning to gentler pursuits these days--"

"No, it's not gentle at all," said Angela.  "When demons are in the flesh, killing them is a very gory business.  And when human beings are under the influence of demons, it's a fairly fierce fight for their souls.  Like that guy," she said, pointing at a very pale investment banker several feet away.  "I can try to pull the demon out of him, but if Roger doesn't cooperate, it will be tough."  With that, she put another walnut-cocoa ball in her mouth, stood up, and stretched both hands out towards Roger--who suddenly sailed out of his seat and began twitching violently in mid-air.

"Put him down!"

"What's happening?" crackled Rice.

"Come on, Roger, work with me on this," cooed Angela after she had swallowed the cookie.  "I can't do it alone!"  With that, Roger clutched his neck as if he were choking, then abruptly went limp and sank back into his chair.  Angela smiled, sat down, and put another cookie in her mouth.

Back at the NoMa holiday party, Giuliana Sunstream was explaining the trendiest holiday cookies.  "These are sunflower seed, agave, and sorghum.  This tray is chia seed, coconut milk, and millet.  And these are my favorite:  wild rice, organic bananas, and cruelty-free cocoa.  And they're all gluten-free!"

Luciano Talaverdi frowned in horror, his stomach growing queasier by the minute.  This was, without doubt, the worst holiday party he had ever attended in his life!  And worse, he was starting to be suspicious as to whether this Sunstream woman (if that was even her real name!) was actually going to give 25% of the proceeds to charity.  He longed for his Italian mother's almond biscotti and apricot shortbread...but dreaded her looming Christmas Eve interrogation about his latest failed romance.  The Federal Reserve Board was celebrating a hundred years, and the Italian economist had been forced to hire a paid escort for that party.  He knew his chance of advancement was doomed if he could not find a better half to raise his social status in Washington.  He wandered listlessly around the loft, searching for the one.  Then he stepped out on the balcony for a breath of fresh air (without the peppermint aromatherapy candles), only to find a beautiful young woman in a red silk dress hyperventilating into her purse and muttering how ugly holiday sweaters gave her panic attacks.  He pulled the purse away from her face, kissed her on the lips, told her to look at the birds in a nearby tree, and returned to the party.

At that moment, an ardent follower of Glenn Michael Beckmann's political blog (disguised as a lifestyle blog), understandably riled up about recent mis-coded rants on Giuliana Sunstream and tooth fairies, crashed the Sunstream party and began spraying shaving cream all over the walls and the guests, crying, "This is un-American!  Go back to Target, which has all your holiday needs!"

Out on the balcony, a flock of starlings surrounded the vulnerable young woman until she collapsed, overcome with fear and hatred.  Far out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac vowed to double her army of demonic foot soldiers, and make 2014 the darkest year in Washington history.

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COMING UP:
Washington Water Woman is taking a short trip out of town, but hopes to return to blogging around the New Year.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rumor Has It

"I heard she threatened to hit Cigemeier."

"You mean hit on Cigemeier?"

"No, hit him!"

"I think you're thinking of the woman who got fired from Lye, Cheit, and Steele."

"No, that was a guy, and he actually did go outside with an associate and punch him."

"Cigemeier is a partner now."

"What does that have to do with it?"

"I heard she used to work at a federal agency, and got fired there for threatening to bring in a gun."

"No, that was a guy--you can Google that because he sued the agency.  But that was almost ten years ago."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well, you're either a lawyer in good standing or you're not.  Why should you be fired--"

"--escorted out by police officers!"

"--fired for something you did ten years ago?"

"I heard she sued Goode Peepz for wrongful termination.  Maybe she'll sue Prince and Prowling, too?"

Outside the state-of-the-art review center, Bridezilla stood quietly near the doorway, eavesdropping.  Contract attorneys were a vicious lot, happy to seize on others' misfortunes--if not, actually cause them--believing they would get more work by getting other people fired.  Bridezilla couldn't wait to be done with the lot of them.

She returned to her office, scratching at the skin under her cursed Rolex.  She closed the door, inspected her handgun, then leaned back with her cup of coffee.  She deserved it.  She took the Rolex off to examine her skin.  Why do I keep getting rashes there?  She examined the Rolex--which she had already had appraised, and knew to be real.  She wiped it carefully with a tissue, then put it on her right hand.  No reason to distract from my ring finger, anyway!  She admired her engagement ring--she had expected something cheap from a literature professor, but Buddy Lee Trickham had surprised her with an antique ruby and diamond ring inherited on his mother's side.  It was the Braggart's inadvertent insult to post-Gothic, neo-Bellum writers (which, naturally, included Trickham) that had put Bridezilla over the edge--leading to her hiring the private investigator to dig up dirt and discover that the Braggart had once been arrested at a political protest in New York.  You can't trust people who hide their arrest record. She rummaged through her desk for an extra sugar packet because the coffee was way too bitter.  Her Chinese was terrible anyway--Charles Wu had said so.  She slid over to her computer and tried to focus.  I never suggested the Human Resources Director call the police--that part was not my fault.

"That part was not my fault," said Charles Wu to the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope over a cup of coffee at Kafè Leopold in Georgetown.

"Relations with China were supposed to improve after you shadowed Biden's trip to Asia. Kerry's over there right now trying to make hay out of a trip to Vietnam, for God's sake!"

"It's very complicated right now," said Wu.  "China is transitioning from rebellious teen to conservative landowner.  North Korea has become a liability for them now, and everything has to be framed in terms of sovereignty and self-defense."

"Nobody in their right mind can accept that China is worried about defending itself from Japan!  That's what we're talking about here!"

"It's about defining the perimeter--for everybody."

"Admit it, Charles!  China is showboating for domestic consumption and offshore resources."

"Then why should the U.S. be worried about it?"

"Whose side are you on?"

"I'm on the side of diplomacy," smiled the well-paid triple agent from Hong Kong.  "I should have thought that would be obvious by now!"

Several miles away, Congressman John Boehner was also drinking Belgian coffee--a gift from Belga Café which Solomon Kane had brought since he had so little else to offer.  "Let me get this straight," said the Speaker of the House, adding whiskey to the coffee.  "I've been paying you $50/hour to investigate who's blackmailing me, and all you've got is a rumor?"

"It's a fairly strong rumor," said Kane.  "I've seen thinner leads than this produce results."

"I can't believe after all this time you're just telling me a rumor!" exclaimed Boehner.

"This is the smartest blackmailer I've ever seen," said Kane.  "And the important part is that I've ruled out of lot of suspects, and I think I'm getting close--he's acting nervous."

"How can you say he's acting nervous if you don't know who it is?"

"You said he hasn't made any demands recently," said Kane.

"Maybe he was out of town!" retorted the exasperated Speaker of the House.  (This was actually the truth, since Charles Wu had been in Asia for weeks.)

"Good point," said Kane.  (The truth was, he wasn't in a hurry to find Boehner's enemy because he was afraid to learn whether Boehner would then put a hit out--Kane hadn't killed anybody since he met Angela, and he knew she would smell blood on him a mile away.)

A mile away, Angela de la Paz was smelling the aromatherapy herb sachet Lynnette Wong had given her to help her sleep better, now that the baby was starting to pinch a little on Angela's lower spine.  She put it under the pillow in Mia's old room, and lay down for a nap above the Chinatown herb shop.  Her mind quickly drifted off...then began floating away.  Angela opened her eyes as the cool outside air hit her face...but it was alright, not too bad.  She looked down, uncertain how she was moving, and saw Chinatown receding quickly as she floated west, into the wind.  She saw a flock of alarmed starlings try to race past her, but she motioned to them to land, and they did.  A catbird flew near her and started screeching car alarm sounds at her, but Angela motioned for the bird to be silent.  A raven whispered in her ear, and she understood perfectly.  Now she was floating over the White House, where Regina and Ferguson looked up in amazement from the roof.  Finally, she floated over Georgetown and stopped just above Ardua of the Potomac.  "The greatest lie of the year came from you," said Angela, pointing at Ardua, who hissed her reply.  "You have fooled many, Ardua, but not all."  The raven again whispered in Angela's ear.  "The Prophecy says I will destroy you one day."  The river demon laughed nervously--she had heard rumors of the Prophecy, but Angela wasn't strong enough to kill her.  "I am learning more each day," said Angela.

You know nothing! hissed Ardua, sending a desperate surge of vile energy towards Ardua's womb--only to see it intercepted and batted away by a pink dolphin leaping out of the water.

"I'll be back," said Angela, as some of the Shackled arrived to guide her away to a safe place to sleep.

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COMING UP:
Giuliana Sunstream charges $100/head for NoMa residents to attend her lifestyle-in-style holiday party, and gets an unexpected guest.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Police Escort

The Braggart was escorted out of Prince and Prowling by two of D.C.'s finest this week, and Washington Water Woman was really looking forward to telling that story, but she ran out of time this busy weekend!  

That and other Washington horror stories will be coming your way next weekend!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Over the River and Through the Woods

"This is a violation of my Constitutional rights!" shouted Glenn Michael Beckmann, throwing the I-9 form back at the woman behind the human resources desk.  "How dare you ask for my email address and phone number!?"

"It's not us, sir:  it's a change from the Federal Government."  She yawned, tired of this issue.  (Most people dealt with it by putting "biteme@gmail.com" and the notorious 1980s song lyric phone number, 867-5309.)

"I know who it is!" retorted Beckmann.  "You don't think I know you're all in it together, spying on everybody?!  I thought people would be more patriotic at the Pentagon City Mall!"

"Are you interested in being a mall Santa or not?" asked the woman, who had already hired two others who were older and fatter, anyway.

"A pox on your establishment!" exclaimed Beckmann, standing up.  "I bite my thumb at you!"  He threw the establishment's pen on the carpet and stomped it into pieces.  "And you will have no secret recordings of me!"

Over in Lynnette Wong's Chinatown establishment, Angela de la Paz was enjoying a far more cordial visit.

"I meant to come yesterday for Small Business Saturday, but--"

"That's alright!" said Wong.  "We did very well!"

"I'm glad," said Angela, sniffing at the herbal mix Wong had prepared for soaking her swelling feet.  "I don't know why this is happening so soon--I haven't gained that much weight yet."

"You're eating more, which means you are taking in more salt," said Wong.

"Oh," said Angela.  "I really need to read the pregnancy book Solomon got me."

"Things are getting serious with you two," commented Wong.

"Oh, no!" said Angela, who still thought a lot about the deceased father of her unborn child.  "I'm not really sure about him.  I think he's a different person when he's not around me."  (She had good reason to wonder if Solomon Kane was a stone-cold killer when she was not around.)  "He says I've changed him, but I don't think I'll really know until I see him on a mission."

"You're going on a mission with him?"

"Not any time soon," said Angela, who now had little thought for the calendar except in relation to her pregnancy.  "But I suppose I should earn some more money for the baby."

"And get a place of your own," said Wong, who knew Angela was still living out of suitcases.

"Button is looking for a townhouse with a separate English basement."

"Are you keeping the baby?" asked Wong, who did not believe sharing any kind of housing with Henrietta Samuelson was a step in the right direction.

Angela looked at her in surprise.  "Why wouldn't I?"

"I thought you were going to go back to school.," said Wong, sidestepping the bigger issues.

"You're starting to sound like Dr. Raj!  Anyway, I could keep the baby and go back to school."  Angela had no desire to go back to school, but hated to sound directionless.  She didn't want to work for the Heurich Society forever, but nothing else made more sense...yet.

Wong went off to help a customer, leaving Angela to wonder why some people treated her like she had a magical destiny, and others still treated her like a kid.  Or was it the same thing?

Out in Maryland, Calico Johnson was hosting another set of people infused with varying mixtures of destiny and childishness:  a post-Thanksgiving meeting of Sense of Entitlement Anonymous (D.C. Chapter).

"I didn't really appreciate my fiance' nagging me about Small Business Saturday!" said Bridezilla, looking in the opposite direction of Luciano Talaverdi (who had failed in his romantic rivalry).  "Just because he grew up in a small town in Mississippi is no reason for me to have to miss Black Friday at Lord and Taylor!"

"I thought you were talking about Saturday," pointed out The Braggart, a new member.

"Black Friday doesn't end on Friday!" exclaimed Bridezilla, rolling her eyes at this mere contract attorney without a private office at Prince and Prowling, who had shown the audacity to join this meeting.

The Braggart replied in Chinese, with a haughty smile, then translated the folk saying loosely as:  "Only a fat cat needs cream."

"Could we get back to the topic of Thanksgiving?" asked Dick Cheney.  "Is it too much to ask that my adult daughters not embarrass us with public political arguments?"

"What does that have to do with Thanksgiving?" asked The Braggart.  "Liz threw Mary under the bus to get cash donations from your bigot wing--that's the Republican politics you raised them on."

"We couldn't have a nice holiday with everybody all together!" glowered Cheney, wondering who this extremely un-rich, un-powerful, and un-famous upstart was.

"Do you know how many gay couples can't have a nice holiday with everybody all together?!" retorted The Braggart.  "Everybody has a right to eat in peace."

"I don't want to take sides!" exclaimed Cheney.  "I'm retired from politics!"  (Everybody in the room burst out laughing.)  "No, I am!"

"I'm with the lesbian on this one," said Judge Sowell Ame.  "If you throw your sister under the bus, you're the one that deserves to be uninvited to Thanksgiving."

"I'm not a lesbian!" said The Braggart.  (Luciano Talaverdi perked up for a moment, but his heart wasn't in it.)

"I understand what Dick is saying," said Mayor Vincent Gray.  (Cheney bristled at hearing his first name called out by this local hooligan.)  "Thanksgiving should be politics-free.  For a politician, talking politics at Thanksgiving is like talking shop!"

"I think it's wrong to give your nanny Thanksgiving off," said one member of N.U.T.T.Y. in attendance (Nannies United To Take Y-chromosomes).  "When you love a man, er, I mean, your charge, you want to spend holidays with him, er, them."  (Luciano Talaverdi sighed at the lack of quality women in this group.)

"I think I retired too soon," said a former member of the F.I.S.A. Court.  "I thought there would be lucrative consulting opportunities with anti-secrecy zealots, but they're all just haters!  I interviewed with a Hollywood producer to consult on a film they're doing about the National Security Agency, and then she told me I should do it pro bono!  Those liberals are just as selfish as everybody else!"

"What does that have to do with Thanksgiving?" asked The Braggart.

"Not everything is about you!" exclaimed Bridezilla, desperate to vote her out of the group.

"She meant Thanksgiving," said Luciano Talaverdi, who could not help himself from defending Bridezilla.  "Not everything is about Thanksgiving."

"Why are you even here?" asked Cheney.  "Did you celebrate Thanksgiving?"

"Yes," said Talaverdi.  "Is there some law against foreigners' celebrating it?  Does your gay daughter have more rights than I have?"

"This is starting to sound like Thanksgiving at my sister's house," said Judge Sowell Ame.

"At least you got to be in a house!" cried the member of N.U.T.T.Y.  "I spent Thanksgiving with my nanny friends at a Chinese restaurant!"

"The food is better there, anyway," said The Braggart, "unless you know how to cook authentic Peking and Cantonese cuisine, like I do."

"Nothing beats Tidewater sweet potato pie!" exclaimed Bridezilla.

"Is tide water really an ingredient?" asked The Braggart.

"More wine, anyone?" asked host Calico Johnson.

Back in the city, Golden Fawn was finishing lunch with her husband (Marcos Vazquez) and mother-in-law from Puerto Rico.  "More wine, anyone?"  Her mother-in-law frowned, wondering why Golden Fawn was never pregnant.  "I'm so glad you're staying through Christmas!" said Golden Fawn, dutifully.

"Next week, I will start baking."

"No rush, mami--better pace yourself!" said Vazquez, who had never told his mother about Golden Fawn's second bout with breast cancer.

"What else am I going to do in this little condo?" she asked accusingly.

If only we could harness that anger in the fight against Ardua, thought Golden Fawn.

Out on the balcony, a pink warbler chased the demonic starlings away from the bird feeder, and let the sparrows eat in peace...for now.

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COMING UP:
The Braggart is kicked out of Sense of Entitlement Anonymous (D.C. Chapter) because she wrote her own Wikipedia page.