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 08, 2014

The Unknown Unknowns

Charles Wu was just arriving at home after a night of mild debauchery, a morning espionage rendez-vous two blocks from the Chinese embassy, and brunch with C. Coe Phant three blocks from the State Department.  Mrs. Prudence Higgety-Cheshire was feeding little Delia her Sunday lunch:  boiled new potatoes, boiled celery, boiled carrots, and hard-boiled eggs.  If she ate all of that, she would get a baked apple for dessert.  The governess (as she preferred to be called by everyone except Delia) would not countenance her charge eating anything raw, and would not even allow her to eat bread unless it was toasted first.  Heat was the only disinfectant she truly trusted.

Though loathe to eat her food, Charles Wu was thrilled to have a genuine English nanny for his daughter, Buffy Cordelia.  Mrs. H-C was a young widow at 57, with two grown children already out of the house and close to finishing their studies at Wu's alma mater, Oxford. She had been informed that English nannies could live very comfortably in Washington, D.C., and after various steps and inquiries, had found her current position.  After a week of nanny-cam surveillance and Angela de la Paz's semi-telepathic inquiries, Wu was thoroughly satisfied that Mrs. H-C was as stable and wholesome as her background investigation had indicated.  He sat down to feed the delighted Delia, as Mrs. H-C held her tongue.  (She disapproved of all attempts to turn eating into a game, and found flying spoons' standing in for airplanes particularly annoying.)

"How are my lovely ladies today?" asked Wu.

Mrs. H-C saw no need to be included in such an address, but, again, held her tongue.  She had learned a long time ago to let the little things go.  "Just splendid, Mr. Wu."  She found it odd to address a man with so much British breeding by that name, but she did not think it proper to call him "Charles".  She made him a cup of tea and sat down to relax with the newspaper.  The work hours were constantly variable, but they had already reached a very comfortable co-existence.  On the rare occasions she wished time away (such as Anglican services this morning), Wu or Angela or somebody else would watch Delia.  But Mrs. H-C was perfectly content most days to putter in the garden all day while Delia played in the yard, knit in the evening while she watched a "cozy mystery" on the telly, and read a bit at bedtime.

"I forgot to tell you, we do have a small pool for Delia to splash in when it gets hot, " said Wu.

"It's already hot," replied Mrs. H-C.

"It's large enough for you to sit in, if you like."  (Mrs. H-C looked up at him in alarm.)  "Or not.  If it gets too hot for you, feel free to stay indoors.  I can hire somebody for the garden."

"It's important for children to have fresh air.  I'll take her out in the mornings, and perhaps stay indoors in the afternoon."

"Excellent," said Wu, making a particularly ridiculous aerial maneuver with the spoon, sending Delia into a spasm of giggles.

Mrs. H-C held her tongue, returned to the newspaper, and had no idea that her late husband's life as a British double-agent spy was soon to catch up with her.

Next door, Angela had just finished breast-feeding baby Lucas in the Cigemeier nursery, and was lying on her bed in the guest room after putting him down for his nap.  She was determined to find Wu's former nanny, suicide victim Mia, in the Dreamtime today.  She willed herself to focus hard, avoiding the easy pathways to her mother and abuela, and called out to Mia with extreme intensity.  And then something happened which had never happened before--a great beast of shifting darkness and fire, claws and fangs, wings and hairy feathers, reared up in front of her to block her path.  Angela was an expert at dealing with demons, but she had always thought that the Dreamtime was a safe place.  She woke up with a silent scream, jumped out of bed, then sank to the floor in confusion.

Several miles away, Atticus Hawk--oblivious to all the charms a warm June day in Washington might have to offer--was entering the Justice Department to start work on his new assignment.  He was back on NSA damage-control duty, under the looming threat by Glenn Greenwald that the most sensational Snowden leaks were set for imminent publication, and the more immediate unpleasantness of the already published Anna Stolley Persky article in Washington Lawyer--"Cover Blown".  While Greenwald's past and future Guardian articles would be roiling the political world for years to come, and Snowden's recent television interview on NBC had infuriated the Secretary of State, Persky's article had its own potency:  it just so happened to be meticulously researched, dangerously unbiased, and encyclopedia-caliber in its unflinchingly calm expose' of what the National Security Agency is really doing.  With the CIA making a late-game Twitter gamble on establishing itself as the "cool" spy agency, NSA was in danger of sinking into its own hubris of paranoia, unpopularity, and martyr complex.  Hawk's task now was to write the point-by-point legal rebuttal to the Persky article, and convince Greenwald that what he now wanted to publish was far too dangerous to national security to see the light of day.  Hawk unlocked his office, dropped his CVS bag of snacks on the desk, logged onto his computer, and changed his password to "Valkyrie14!"

Meanwhile, up in Petworth, Golden Fawn and Marcos Vazquez were house-hunting with realtor Henrietta ("Button") Samuelson.  It had been hard enough to take on the mortgage for their current, small (!) condo, but with an adopted 6-year-old at home now, they really wanted a place with a yard.  So far they had seen bizarrely renovated attic crawl spaces, windowless basements, yards comprised of 200 square feet of concrete and 10 square feet of weeds, houses full of tenant trash, and musty-smelling antique furnishings housed in museums with only a token nod to indoor plumbing:  and those were in houses listed for over half a million dollars in marginal neighborhoods!  Could they really afford to go up to a million?

"I know you're reluctant to go out into the suburbs because of your job," Samuelson said to Vazquez, a Coast Guard office often on call, "but perhaps just across the border in Arlington?"

Vazquez knew Arlington had become very expensive, itself.  He looked pensively at his wife.

"Do you have any haunted houses?" asked Golden Fawn.  "We wouldn't mind that."

Samuelson did, in fact, know a couple houses that were plagued with rumors depressing their value.  She looked carefully from Golden Fawn to Vazquez, then back to Golden Fawn.  "There are some old houses in upper Georgetown in foreclosure."

"Yes!" shouted Golden Fawn, whose limited abilities to fight evil now felt huge and brave in her heart since she had taken on the protection of the young boy.

"Histories of suicide," said Samuelson, looking back at Vazquez, who was looking intently at his wife.

"We can handle that," said Golden Fawn, confident in her ability to cleanse a house of evil spirits like that--or, maybe she could call on the help of that girl, Angela de la Paz.

"Alright, I will set up the appointments," said Samuelson.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac was taking this all in (with a little help from her many informants), and contemplating with particular pleasure the growing effect the Cursed Rolex was now having on its current owner.  On top of all the usual ugliness in Washington politics, and the shootings and stabbings, it had been a superb week for creek and river drownings.  She sighed in contentment--after all, like many of D.C.'s oldest monuments, she loved the tourist season.

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COMING UP:  The adventures of Petro Pig!

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