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 15, 2015

Fat John's Lake

It was a mystical place that Glenn Michael Beckmann had seen in his dreams many times:  the lake from which his mother had risen to hand him Ex Calibur.  (In truth, Ex Calibur was the bloody axe he had lost in the Potomac to Ardua and then found later on Roosevelt Island, but he didn't remember it that way.)  It was a small, murky lake, covered in fog, with occasional shimmers of eerie green streaks of light.  It was the font of life for all of Washington, and it had chosen him.

And now he didn't know if he was awake or dreaming.

"It's a little slimy for swimming, on account of all the motor oil run-off and the river rats' pooping in it, but your skin do feel nice and soft afterwards," said the Fearless Leader of the Freaks of Dupont Down Under.  He pointed to a makeshift diving platform made out of a stack of three shopping carts.  "Louis likes to do back flips off of that.  Of course, there's not enough height for him to do a double."

Beckmann inhaled deeply of the subterranean humours and felt all tingly inside.  "How did you find it?"

"Well, between DC Water and the Secret Service, they've staked out almost every square mile under the city.  The Beaver built a dam to try to protect Dupont Down Under, and then after they dug out the final White House bunker, the dam collapsed and the water flowed into a huge sinkhole down here."

"What do you mean?" cried Beckmann.  "The lake was always here!  It's eternal!  It dates to the time of Robin Hood!  You said Little John found it!"

"No, it was Fat John," said Fearless Leader, pointing to a portly homeless man soaking his feet at the edge of the lake.  "He says it cures gout and Lyme disease.  We're getting totally overrun with sickly cripples visiting us now!  Can't keep 'em away. That's why we want to hire Beckmann's Bad Asses for crowd control.  We're charging $10 admission for a half-hour."

Beckmann knew in his heart that Fearless Leader was wrong:  this place was eternal, and meant only for valiant knights.  But he was also months behind in paying the rent.  "Alright," Beckmann said, sticking his hand out to shake on it.  The most important thing was to keep those government bureaucrats away!  And so the previous enemies, having completely forgotten their animosity from a few years earlier, struck a deal.

Two-hundred feet above Fat John's Lake, Felix Cigemeier was taking a break from Prince and Prowling for brunch with his wife and infant son at Scion.

"I really don't think International Development Machine has anything to worry about," the law partner said to his wife.  "They don't do any of the things that got International Relief and Development into trouble."

"How do we really know that?" asked Liv.

"Because you haven't been invited to boozy staff retreats at 5-star resorts!" Cigemeier exclaimed.

"But there are a lot of rumors about Augustus Bush," said Liv of IDM's president.  "Some say the orphanage we built in Afghanistan is just a front for a palatial mansion for opium kingpins, and that the leadership and educational programs in the U.S. Virgin Islands are just a front for teaching Afghans how to manage their drug business."

"Liv--"

"And there are rumors that the Board of Directors meetings supposedly held in Denver are actually held at the Playboy Mansion, and--"

"Liv!"  (Liv looked at her husband in surprise.)  "Just rumors!  There's no point in worrying about rumors!  And the most important part is that you are working on private grant money right now, so the government can't touch you!"  But Cigemeier was worried about the rumors.  And he was only slightly comforted by the fact that his wife was working on private grant money from the untrustworthy Charles Wu--for God only knew where that money came from!  Cigemeier was desperate to make more income so that his wife could quit work altogether to look after Lucas, but that was not yet an option.  "Just keep documenting what you do with your time and how the money is disbursed in the Philippines.  Don't pay the slightest attention to what anybody else is doing in any of the other programs:  they're not your problem."

Liv smiled in gratitude, unaccustomed to receiving legal advice from her husband, but sometimes she wondered if he even cared at all about her passion for international development work.  How could he tell her so cavalierly not to care whether millions of dollars of aid money were actually doing any good?

A mile away, Dr. Khalid Mohammad was in the George Washington University Hospital emergency room, examining another homeless patient with bleeding ulcers on his legs.  "Have you been doing anything unusual lately?" asked Dr. Mohammad, gingerly removing dead skin with a scalpel.

"I got baptized in Fat John's Lake!" exclaimed the Iraq War veteran.  "Reverend Magpie did it, and he said it would take away the night shakes and everything."

"Where is this lake?" asked Dr. Mohammad, who had been hearing about it for days, but he knew he would get the same answer.

"It's a secret!" exclaimed the patient.  "Only the chosen can go there!"

"What if the lake did this to your legs?  Don't you want to know?"

"It's worth it, to cleanse my soul and stop the night shakes!"

Dr. Mohammad looked up at Nurse Arroyo, who shook her head in frustration.  They couldn't breach patient confidentiality, but they feared a serious public health threat was growing in the homeless community.  Somebody needed to find this lake.

Back at Fat John's Lake, Washington Post "Metro" reporter Perry Winkle had just arrived after paying a source $20 to show him to the rumored underground water.  "Lake" was clearly a misnomer for the subterranean pond, but the descriptions of otherworldly smells and mysterious green lights were true.  He was panning his video camera slowly over the crowd of chattering bathers when he spotted a scuffle at the far end.  He heard somebody shout "Security!" and saw Beckmann--whom he immediately recognized from one of the most traumatic moments of his life--race over with a gun drawn.  It looked like...no!  It looked like a woman was trying to eat someone's arm!

"Let him go or I'll shoot you to Kingdom Come!" shouted Beckmann at the manic woman, who abruptly let go of her victim and dove for cover underwater.  The crowd screamed in panic, clambering out of the water and scrambling in all directions.  Winkle, loopy from the vapors, didn't even think to call 911; he simply continued watching the scene through his video camera as Beckmann waited for the assailant to come back to the surface.   But she didn't.

Several minutes went by, and Beckmann reholstered his gun.  "Fat John's Lake is closed until tomorrow!" he bellowed to the crowd.  "Everybody out!"

"No!" wailed Fearless Leader, lamenting all the lost Sunday afternoon income.

"I need to dredge the lake," said Beckmann, who had no idea how to do so but knew it involved getting a rowboat.

And then Winkle thought about calling 911, but he was starting to doubt himself.  Did the woman really try to eat that arm?  Was Beckmann the man he saw chop off that zombie's head a couple years ago?  He knew the vapors were affecting him, so he headed back to the surface to watch his videotape.

At the bottom of Fat John's Lake, the zombie woman had already disintegrated into hundreds of pieces, which the river rats were already eating.

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COMING UP:  Cuba libre!

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