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 ....

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Pretty Good Place

Angela de la Paz had saved many lives, partially from her training as a super spy but mostly because of her supernatural gifts.  But this was her first time ever guarding the children of the President and First Lady.

"There are a lot of nut jobs out there," said Dr. Devi Rajatala.  "I told you about that massacre out in Maryland."

"Don't worry!" said Angela.

"I know this isn't your normal thing, but with all the budget cuts, I just really needed the extra help."

"After all you did for me as a kid!?  I'm happy to do this, Dr. Raj!"

"But the weather is so awful, right when they're so vulnerable.  It's going to complicate everything."

"I'll hear any screams from your office, and I'll be out there in a flash.  Nobody's getting near that bald eagle nest!"

Dr. Raj sighed and smiled.  "You always were a good kid!"

"Is this where the 'you should go to college lecture' starts?" said Angela.

"A lot of good it's done me!" said the National Arboretum tree specialist.  "How many years have I dedicated myself to tending these woods on a smaller and smaller budget, and all anybody cares about are chicks hatching out of their eggs on a live camera feed.  Trees grow too slowly to watch on camera!  Maybe I should do an Internet camera for diseased trees' getting chain-sawed."

"Or an Internet contest for who gets to chop them down!" said Angela.

"Are you serious?" asked Dr. Rajatala.  "Honestly, I don't know anymore.  If Trump becomes President, he'll probably turn this into a golf course."

"If that's the price we have to pay to see angry bald eagles attack Trump, it might be worth it!" said Angela sadly.

Out on the Potomac, Marcos Vazquez was breaking Coast Guard protocol by having his wife, Golden Fawn, riding on the patrol boat, but since the weather made it extremely unlikely they would encounter any problems out on the river, his coworkers didn't complain.  Vazquez's wife was known for doing mysterious ceremonies on Roosevelt Island, and they had no doubt she was trying to communicate with the ravens nesting for the first time in a hundred years on a Potomac River bridge.  What they didn't know was that she was succeeding.

"They actually knew about Ardua?" whispered Marcos, referring to the demon that had recently been banished from the river.

"They did," reiterated Golden Fawn.  (They had just completed their third pass under the bridge.)

"So, they think the river is safe now?"

"It's safe, and what they eat isn't poisonous anymore."

"What are they eating?" asked Marcos.

"Rats and fish right now.  In a few weeks they'll probably be going after turtles and frogs."  Golden Fawn was smiling, in spite of the cold rain falling on her slicker.

"But Angela said it's not over yet," said Marcos.

Golden Fawn continued smiling.  "There's still plenty of evil in this town, but that's all the more reason to celebrate every victory we get!"

A few miles to the east, newly medicated Washington Post "Metro" reporter Perry Winkle was returning to his gritty city investigative reporting habits with his first Urban Guerrilla Field Trip in years.  The late-season blast of winter misery had scuttled his original plan, but he had a dozen middle-schoolers retracing his steps through Union Station to hear about the research he had done on how many people were living at Union Station.

"Well, it's a pretty good place to be homeless," said one girl.

"Do you think they're homeless?" asked Winkle.  "Because I think this is their home."

"They're just squatting!" exclaimed one of the boys.  "They're not paying rent or a mortgage or anything."

"Do you pay rent or a mortgage?" asked Winkle.  The kids all laughed.  "You think you have homes even though you're not paying anything.  What if you start fighting with you father in a few years?  What if he dies, your mother gets a new boyfriend, he beats you, and you run away?"  The kids were silent, crossing their arms and shuffling their feet nervously.  "People don't just become homeless because they don't have money--they don't have family to rely on."

"Well, they probably got kicked out for doing drugs or shit like that!" exclaimed one girl.

"Maybe.  Maybe they were doing drugs because they were mentally ill or abuse victims, and trying to feel better.  There are a lot of people who can't pay rent or mortgages.  Sometimes it's because they're children.  Sometimes it's because they're too messed up to work."

"Sometimes they mess themselves up," said one boy.

"You're right.  And when they do that, their family and friends might not be inclined to give them another chance.  So what should the city do with those people?  Do we really want them living in the rail yards and station crawl spaces, or on top of the subway grates?"

"You can't lock them up unless they're dangerous," said the oldest girl there.  (She had a schizophrenic uncle living at Urine Park, but she wouldn't tell anybody about him.)  "I think there should be social workers who go around and check on all these people.  The government shouldn't wait until they flip out."

"The government," said Winkle, making a sweeping gesture to encompass all his listeners, "is of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Every generation before you has failed to end homelessness; every government before this one has failed to end homelessness.  What will your generation and your government do?"

"But it's better in other places!" protested one of the girls.  "They don't have so many homeless in other countries!  And our city is one of the worst!"

"Some of those countries do lock them up, I'm afraid.  But you're right--in some places it's better.  The governments spend more on alcohol and drug rehab, watch over children in foster homes better, and run better homeless shelters so that people don't think it's better to live on the streets.  I hope you will all read my article and think hard about the places you saw people living here--all of them were 12 or 13 years old once, just like you."

And so ended the first Urban Guerrilla Field Trip of 2016, but Perry Winkle could not get those words out of his head:  "our city is one of the worst!"  And then the voice in his head which answered:  "you know why!"  He rushed home to do the meditation that helped hold at bay the hallucinations of evil threatening to return to his mind...but he was taking more pills since returning to Washington.

A couple miles away, Laura Moreno was packing her suitcase to accompany former Senator Evermore Breadman and Prince and Prowling's triumphant Cuba Practices Group across the Florida straits with President Obama.  The law firm had never paid for her to go anywhere--not even a single taxi ride or restaurant excursion.  She kept waiting for somebody to telephone and say it was a mistake, they had reconsidered, she was back on document review while Bridezilla would accompany the high-level delegation--i.e., that Bridezilla's scandalous photos from her last Cuba trip had been forgiven and forgotten.  But here she was, still packing.

Then the anonymous phone call came from an unlisted number:  "Watch out for Breadman after he hits the rum.  If he doesn't find a Cuban hottie--"  Laura hung up before hearing the rest.

"I can handle myself," she said angrily to the now silent phone.  Outside her window, the howl of the cold rain picked up.  She shivered, finding it hard to believe she would be on a tropical island the next day.

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