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 06, 2015

The New Climate

Dr. Khalid Mohammad was returning home from his shift at George Washington University Hospital.  For the past few weeks, he was never sure whether he would find Yasmin with a full veil, a head scarf, or nothing on her head.  She was confused about her identity and what it meant to be a good Muslim woman, and months of kindness from Khalid had not done much to rescue her emotionally from the effects on her of the fanatical radicalization and violence of her father.  She rarely left the apartment, did not want to make new friends, and only reluctantly took online community college courses because of Khalid's urging--otherwise she would just be doing housework and praying.  He could not get the guilt trip out of her head.

He could smell dinner cooking on the stove as he hung up his coat.  She greeted him with the full veil on, and he could see no smile in her eyes.  "It smells delicious," he said.

"How was your shift?" she asked.

"Good," he said.  "A little quieter than usual.  Every day without a mass shooting is a good day, anyway."  He had tried to talk to her several times about the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, but she never wanted to talk about it.

"Why won't you marry me?" she suddenly asked.  "How can I be a good Muslim woman like this?"

"We're just roommates and friends!" exclaimed Khalid.  "We're not doing anything wrong."

"Well, it feels wrong," she said, returning to the kitchen to take the food off the stove.

"Well, maybe it feels wrong to you because you keep trying to act like a Saudi housewife.  You can go to school, get a job, join clubs, visit places."  She handed him the water glasses without a comment.  "You can do whatever you want to with your life now, and if you don't know what that is, that's okay!  You can take your time, explore new things."

"What's wrong with me?  Why won't you marry me?" she repeated, sitting down at the table.  Then she said a prayer over the meal before he could reply.

"What's wrong with you?" Khalid repeated.  "You were traumatized with brain damage from your father slamming your head into a wall, that's what's wrong with you!  You're in no condition to marry anybody!  You're still healing physically and mentally."

"That's no excuse for me not to lead a good Muslim life!  Other people are serving Allah, but what am I doing?"

"Other people?" Khalid asked.  "What about me?"

"You won't marry me," she replied.

"It would be unethical," he said.  "You're in no condition to make major decisions like that, and we're still getting to know each other."

"You won't marry me because of the veil!" she exclaimed.  "You think you're better than me because you don't believe in veils!"

"Tell me one good thing that a veil ever did for anybody?!" he retorted.  "You think wearing that proves something to Allah or the world?  It's brainwashing!  It doesn't make you holier, and shooting people with a veil on is delusional!"

"So now you think I'm delusional and planning to shoot people?" she cried.

"I don't know what you're planning," he said, throwing his hands up in the air.  "If you feel guilty living with me, I told you, you can move in with one of my coworkers.  But nobody's going to want you wearing the damned veil in their home!"

"You are not a good Muslim!" she declared.

"I study medicine and help the sick and injured," Khalid said calmly.  "You're alive because of our hospital.  Can't you see that the most important thing is helping other people?"

She said nothing, unsure about everything.

Over at the White House, President Obama was taking another look at his speech before sitting down to dinner with his family.  The speech was supposed to assure the American people about what the government was doing to keep them safe.  This was supposed to to be a week of triumphant announcement concerning unprecedented international cooperation to mitigate climate change.  Instead, he was again trying to mop up the blood from mass-murdering rampages.  He sighed deeply, examining notes jotted down from dozens of conversations--and the notes jotted down from the whispers he told nobody about except Bo and Sunny, who always perked up their ears when the whispers began.  (They knew where the whispers came from--the Shackled, Ghost Dennis, the twins, and other White House spirits--but President Obama still did not understand.)  "It won't work," he said to himself, looking at the speech, but he dared not say out loud the thought that came next.  There's no hope.  The world's just going to get bloodier and warmer until we see massive waves of death unseen since the Bubonic Plague.  We're literally offering bandages and tilting at windmills.  Bo stood up to nuzzle his master.

Across the street, Bridezilla was not thinking about any of that, having barely comprehended a single piece of news in the world outside of her own.  She was in her Prince and Prowling office, wearing yoga pants and an old sorority sweatshirt as she finished packing up her personal things.  She was not the sort of person to go on a murderous rampage of coworkers, but she had just poured bleach into the potted plants of all the senior partners who had voted to force her out--for love!  She was still deluding herself that her career had imploded because of the shocking revelation of her secret, epic, romantic, "Gattaca"-like love for Paul, shunned as a lowly contract attorney by the snobby powers that be.  It would be some time before she recognized her own hypocrisy in keeping her relationship secret, her own stupidity in filing bogus billing reports about their time together, and her own blindness in not learning enough about Paul to find out he was a bisexual who sometimes performed in drag as "Paulette" at Level One.

No, today, she was still a victim of tragic love in her own mind.  She placed the last of her personal things in the second rolling suitcase, poured ketchup all over the carpeting, bent the horizontal blinds, then rolled her sad self out of there.  Tomorrow, if she could rouse herself to do it, she would be allowed to return to Prince and Prowling as a contract attorney in SOTA-Bunk.  She was not desperate for the money, but too much in a state of shock not to grasp at the straw.

Downstairs, staff attorney Laura Morena was in her own office, trying to finish reading the 25 emails, five PowerPoints, and twelve reports sent to her by former Senator Evermore Breadman--who had abruptly put her in charge of the Cuba Practices Group after hearing her singing a Jon Secada song in the kitchen.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac was starting to feel the squeeze from the coalition recently formed to destroy the demon, but she was not going to go down without a fight.

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COMING UP:  The New Prophecy.

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