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 ....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Secret Government

The freaks of Dupont Down Under were discussing the news that the decades-long legal battle about their home turf was finally on the road to settlement. Some of the younger freaks had not even been around when the food court had shut down and the older freaks had moved in, but even the older ones had long ago stopped worrying about The Man's coming back. It was Sebastian L'Arche who had brought this news down to them, knowing there was more than one military vet down there, but he had already returned to the surface, with no takers on his offer of assistance to anybody looking for a new home. "Where will we live?" "We kept the Secret Government out of our tunnels--why can't we stop these new people?" "Why does Jim Graham want to put a men's strip club down here? It's too drafty in these tunnels!" The Elder jumped up onto a crate and hollered for everybody to shut up. "This is our HOME," he said. "NOBODY's gonna take us outta here!"

A few miles to the south, former Senator Evermore Breadman was burning the midnight oil at Prince and Prowling, working on the counter-proposal for the quiet title-action on Dupont Down Under. He normally avoided municipal matters, but he could not resist such a valuable chunk of real estate up for grabs. He paused to take some Metamucil (orange-flavored) and looked at his calendar to see when Charles Wu would be back in town to discuss Asia--which was making his ignorant clients nervous no matter how often he told them that he could make money for them no matter what was going on politically. He waved away the cleaning lady and turned back to his counter-proposal, but in the back of his mind, he was trying to remember the name of the Christmas song she was humming. It would come to him later in a dream: "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".

A couples miles to the west, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Anti-Fecklessness was also burning the midnight oil, with the higher-ups all out on vacation. The White House had already condemned Bhutto's assassination in Pakistan, but the diplomatic dispatches were flying in from all over the world urging the State Department to make a stronger statement about regional security in Asia. The problem was...it did not appear that Condoleezza Rice actually wanted to make a stronger statement. Where was she? How could she not return to Washington at a time like this? The Assistant Deputy Administrator began wondering if he was on The List in the event that a nuclear catastrophe necessitated the Secret Government be relocated to a safe bunker. And if he was, would he be allowed to take Eva Brown with him?

Not too far away, Henry Samuelson was driving back into Washington after a visit with Cedric at the Arlington group home for the mentally challenged. Cedric had told Samuelson about Rice's secret visit there a couple of months earlier--that was not a surprise, but the conversation she had held with Cedric was. Then again, could he rely on Cedric to remember anything that happened after 2001? Samuelson was uneasy as he crossed the bridge above the frigid Potomac, wondering if World War III was going to play out the way the Heurich Society was expecting, and wondering if Rice's agenda was really aligned with the Society's. Down in the depths of the water, Ardua began stirring, sensing that the holidays were coming to a close.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Good Will Towards Men

Charles Wu looked out on the cold Potomac River as his taxi to the airport crossed overhead. It had been on odd week in the news, with the U.S.E.P.A. under a hail of criticism by Governor Terminator for blocking emissions regulations while federal officials returned from a visit to China's newly aggressive and praised environmental protection agency. Former Senator Evermore Breadman wanted to know whether China was going to start leaning on his clients' Chinese factories, and whether China's criticism of the U.S. posture at the recent climate change meeting was for real. Wu wanted to know these things himself. He pulled out the last letter his mother in Hong Kong had written him, asking him to visit for the holidays if his highly demanding international banking job would allow it. He sighed and felt uncomfortable. He would have only four nights in Hong Kong, and then on to Beijing. He folded her letter back up, feeling a little regret about the information he had recently passed to his British contact. He knew how it would be: in Hong Kong, he would feel pro-Chinese, and in Beijing, he would feel pro-British. And so it went. And he missed his mother! And that made him the most uncomfortable of all. Deep in the cold water, Ardua remained baffled about Charles Wu, who often spread evil and yet remained unconnected to Ardua.

Christmas music continued playing on the taxi driver's radio. The Pakistani driver remained silent. When they got on I-66, Wu came out of his reverie and began quizzing the driver about Pakistan. He was going to have excellent information to give the Chinese...and the British in Hong Kong. If he had bothered counting it, Wu would know that he had already made $5 million dollars this year, most of that not declared as part of his official consulting business. When the Pakistani had told him all he knew for the moment, Wu thought about whether he should visit his mother more often. When the driver let him out at Dulles and said "Merry Christmas!", Wu, thought of a song he had learned as a child about peace and good will towards men. He collected his bag and looked at the faces around him, all distressed just at the thought of entering a post-9/11 Washington airport on a busy flying day. Wu wondered where they were all going that was important enough to draw them through this painful process. They all had somebody somewhere.

Back in the Potomac, Ardua settled low on the bottom. She hated this time of year, and was planning to doze until 2008...when the ambitious of Washington would be ready to pull out their claws and sharpen their teeth again....

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bali High

Condoleezza Rice sank back into her red leather recliner, tired from an afternoon of mixing with the riffraff at Tysons Corner to finish buying Christmas gifts and ship them off. She sipped her coconut water/anise/cocoa/turmeric/prune/couscous/beet smoothie and stared out for a moment at the darkening sky above her and the frigid Potomac waters stirring below. She took a deep breath, feeling a little better. She picked up the afternoon's faxes in her lap and started leafing through them them, pausing at the third--"BALI, Indonesia (CNN) -- In a dramatic reversal Saturday, the United States rejected and then accepted a compromise to set the stage for intense negotiations in the next two years aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions worldwide." She giggled, remembering how she had instructed her Undersecretary to perform this drama two weeks ago. She then read a couple of State Department faxes about the climate change conference, and looked out at the river when she had finished. It was unfortunate, but a necessary game to play at this point in history. That's how she had explained it to Bush--you will be out of office long before any of this gets real, and somebody else will have to raise the taxes to deal with it. Of course, she knew that this strategy was not acceptable to Dick, but Lynn would be taking care of him right now, making sure he did not get overexcited about anything. And Bush knew that Condi did not ask him to go against Dick's wishes very often, so he knew it was important when she did ask. She resumed flipping through the faxes, pausing to read the latest update on the baseball steroids report; she giggled again at the part about Bush's instructions to the public to withhold judgment--she knew the shenanigans that had occurred in the Texas Rangers clubhouse under the Bush regency. She also knew that Bush had just granted twenty-nine presidential pardons on Tuesday--some of them to drug dealers and a moonshiner. She shook her head, glad she did not have to explain the Bush domestic agenda. The final fax was about the international response to Perez Musharraf's end to emergency rule in Pakistan, including the muted U.S. comment. She put the faxes in a neat pile on the end table, and her empty lap was all the invitation that Pippin needed to jump up. Rice giggled again, stroking the Persian, and gazed out into the darkness. For a moment, she wondered how climate change would really play out in the next two-hundred years...then Ardua of the Potomac brought Rice back to the present with a firm embrace.

Several miles north, Charles Wu was nursing a gin and tonic in a black leather recliner, rolling his eyes at the parade of giggles coming through the bug implanted in Pippin. These were not the giggles of a drunken woman, nor even the giggles of a flirtatious woman--these were the driest giggles he had ever heard, giggles of no ascertainable origin. He listened until he had finished his drink, then removed his earphones and headed out to the Bali Room of the Pineapple Cafe on Capitol Hill--where his new Turkish contact would be meeting him in an hour to spill drunken secrets while gay men acted out their S&M fantasies to the karaoke croonings of perplexed, blushing Japanese tourists.

Several miles south, Sebastian L'Arche checked his mailbox on the way out to his first veteran's support group: it was another Bali bra. He looked suspiciously across the street to the home of the woman he believed responsible for the parade of lingerie left in his mailbox since Thanksgiving. He knew she was also an Iraqi war vet, although she did not know that he knew that. He decided to knock on her door anyway. She opened the door quickly and smiled at him. "I'm going to an Iraqi veterans' support group tonight. Do you want to go?" Her smile straightened out, and she tried to mumble something. "It's my first one. I don't even know if I'll like it, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to check it out. I can wait while you get your coat and umbrella." She acquiesced and went to get them. After a few minutes, they headed out into the nasty December weather, both thankful and fearful. The slave ghost in the woman's house was furious, but there was a member of the Shackled there to talk him down.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dirty Laundry

"C. Coe Phant" was sitting in the furthest corner of the auditorium for the 6:30 p.m. showing of "Atonement" at the E Street Cinema, small bags of dirty laundry on the seat beside him and in front of him to discourage unwanted neighbors from showing up. Right on time, Charles Wu walked in, made a beeline for the far corner, rolled his eyes as he removed the dirty laundry from the seat in front of Phant, and sat down with his popcorn and beer. "I am Beowulf!" whispered Phant in his throatiest voice, just in case there was any doubt in Wu's mind about Phant's disguise. Wu rolled his eyes again and shoved the laundry bag inbetween the seats. Phant passed a few photocopies to Wu inbetween the seatbacks and sat back to wait for the reaction. Wu read the first couple of memos on the U.S. intelligence indicating the end of Iran's nuclear weapons program in 2003, and it became apparent who in the Administration had buried it--the ones who wanted to start World War III. Wu removed his coat and turned back towards Phant as he smoothed out the coat on his seatback and asked why the Administration had released the information now. "Rogue leak," was the answer. Wu took a swallow of beer and moved to the next set of memos concerning the CIA's destruction of 2005 videotaped recordings of torture conducted in a CIA secret prison, and it became apparent who in the Administration had ordered it--the ones who did not want to start World War III. Wu turned his head slightly to ask if this had also been a leak. "The CIA has more enemies in this government than in Al Qaeda," whispered Phant huskily. Wu munched his popcorn for a few minutes, wondering if the bloodsucker's plans were even more complex than he had thought. Phant grew weary of Wu's silence and whispered more quietly the name of the leaker, with the caveat of "I'm pretty sure." Wu rolled his eyes again and took another swallow of beer as he turned to the final document, a fairly routine analysis of the recent elections in Russia...until the final paragraph, which drew a low whistle out of his mouth, followed by a question on authorship. "Heurich Society," was Phant's answer. The seats were now filling up with moviegoers--mostly couples on dates. Wu munched his popcorn contemplatively, looking forward to the Keira Knightley eye candy to come--the only reason he had agreed to this absurd meeting place.

Several miles west, the Heurich Society was coming to order in the top floor of the Castle. Henry Samuelson had the same grumpy expression on his face he had worn for days since the leak about the CIA torture tapes. "All these young bucks with their damned video cameras!" he was muttering to the fellow next to him. "Why can't they store things in their brains like we did?!" He tapped his right temple to emphasize the point. "Because they're morons! All trained like soldiers in kung fu, but where are their brains?" Condoleezza Rice rapped her knuckles impatiently on the table and verbally outlined the meeting agenda. A half-hour later, they were congratulating her on the electoral setback for Hugo Chavez, and had reached a consensus on almost everything on the table. Samuelson cleared his throat: "What about Putin? He's dangerous."

Condoleezza Rice drained the last of her chicken broth/tarragon/buttermilk/ginseng/tomato smoothie, except for the red drops that always got trapped in the crease of her lips. "Russia," she intoned solemnly, "has always chosen our side when a world war was on the line." She was a Russia expert, and nobody could argue with that, but Samuelson thought it damn foolish to think two actions constitute a predictable pattern, and he started to wonder if she was bluffing.

A couple of miles south, Laura Moreno walked tentatively into the Prince and Prowling holiday party--a party she was only at because a friendly paralegal had sympathetically RSVPed her as his own guest. She checked her coat and walked into the hotel ballroom, searching for friendly faces and hoping she had chosen an appropriate dress. She moved self-consciously through the crowd of couples, knowing her own "date" was going to arrive very late and would not be escorting her around as a "date" in any case. She breathed a sigh of relief when she found Bridezilla's secretary, who introduced her husband to Laura. They moved over to the food buffet, which was paid for by the money that the Prince and Prowling partners saved by not giving people like her health insurance and paid leave time. She started piling up a plate of "benefits" for herself, turned the corner of the table, and found herself next to a partner--who introduced her politely to his wife, as if Laura were actually a real human being working as an attorney at their firm. Maybe I will get the face time I need here! She tried to converse with wit and intelligence, but an abrupt "excuse me" indicated that the partner needed to move on and impress his wife by demonstrating chumminess with former Senator Evermore Breadman. As they moved away from her, Laura caught sight of Bridezilla in a strapless gold-sequined evening gown--apparently chosen as an excuse for Bridezilla to keep her white fox fur coat on all evening. But SHE was on law review, so SHE fits in. Laura was greeted by the truly friendly faces of a couple of staff attorneys as she started digging into her over-priced and not-actually-that-good food.

Several miles south, another tenant was being evicted at Southwest Plaza, their meager belongings strewn mercielessly on the street by a landlord that did not think that mice, roaches, mold, and a lack of heat were sufficient excuses for the tenant not to pay rent. The tenant had tried for two months to get pro bono legal assistance, but most of the law firms in town were too busy planning their holiday parties and the glamorous, high-profile cases that would give their firms the best shot at making it to the Supreme Court. The former tenant's cousin came by in an old sedan to stuff a few things into the trunk and take him home to sleep on their couch. Up on her balcony, Golden Fawn looked down sadly on the scene until Marcos Vasquez took her by the elbow and told her to come back inside. She glanced back at the raven on her railing, wishing he had not again reminded her that she needed to turn up the heat on Ardua.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

First Snow

Atticus Hawk and Bridezilla entered the VIP section for the White House Christmas tree lighting. It was bitter cold out, but Bridezilla was OK because she was wearing an early Christmas present--a white fox fur coat, a consolation prize for not being able to wear that other white thing yet. She had been hoping for diamonds and sapphires, but this was pretty good. She was very proud of Atticus today, knowing that his research had played a big part in the Supreme Court arguments yesterday about the 305 scumbags still held at Guantanamo Bay--who would have been executed in secret if any other nation had captured them! They stared in puzzlement at the sight of Clio, Regina, and Ferguson--who really looked out of place in the VIP section. Ferguson winked at Bridezilla, while Regina stuck out her tongue. "How did they get in?" Bridezilla asked Atticus.

"Reggie! What is wrong with you?! Fergie, come on." Clio planted a hand on each child's neck and steered them away from the ritzy young couple, moving closer to the front where one of the guards could get them a better view. Regina looked up expectantly at the still darkened tree, but Ferguson was looking around at the crowd. He had seen many of these people before and remembered them, especially former Senator Evermore Breadman--who was also disconcerted by an incomprehensible wink from the creepy child. Breadman resolved that this would be his last year at the event--it was too damned cold for this nonsense.

Not too far away, Laura Moreno was entering Bridezilla's empty Prince and Prowling office to drop off some more flagged documents. Laura noticed the quart-sized crystal jar of candy canes and chocolates that had been left on the desk in the same sweep of corporate gift-giving that had netted Laura and the other lowlies a small Prince and Prowling mug full of jelly beans. Laura walked back to her workroom, only to discover that her mug had just disappeared. She rolled her eyes and packed up her things to leave. On the way out, she saw a facilities runner who called out an apology to her--"we had to take back the mug because it's for support staff, not attorneys!" Laura muttered a no problem comment, then hit the down button.

A couple miles away, Perry Winkle hit the down button to the central coroner's office. A few minutes later, he was poring over the autopsy report on Jai Alai's daughter--beaten to death last weekend. There were spatula-shaped marks on her. There were welts on her, probably from a belt. Both her arms had fractures. There were over fifty abrasions and contusions ranging in age from one day before death to nine weeks before death, but the girl had died of a massive cerebral hematoma consistent with having her head slammed into a wall. Winkle looked up at the nearby staff members, who were humming as they filed paperwork. They were the happiest people in D.C. because they came to work every day glad to be alive.

Several miles to the east, Jai Alai sat numbly at the girl's wake, a small bandaged boy leaning silently against her. A small Christmas tree glowed in the corner, which she stared at unblinkingly as family and friends filed past them. Outside the funeral home, a flock of starlings landed precariously on a snow-covered ash tree to peck at the seeds hanging at the very edges of each branch--with snow covering the ground, they had to take what they could get up in the air. Out of the corner of her eye, Jai Alai detected the dark tree shaking outside the window, but she didn't know why.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mortal Injuries

Jai Alai sat numbly next to her son's hospital bed. She stared unblinkingly at his bandages and bruises. Every minute or so, her chest would heave and then subside, as if she kept forgetting and then remembering to breathe. Dr. Khalid Mohammad returned to the room to see how Jai Alai was doing, and she looked up at him, expressionless. He spoke to her for a few minutes, then told her he was going home and which doctor would be doing rounds later. A few minutes later, he walked out of George Washington University Hospital and headed down into the Metro tunnel. He knew the boy would be alright if the woman's boyfriend stayed in jail, but it was too late for the girl. He glanced up at the message board to see his wait time, then walked to the end of the platform to sit down on the far bench. He buried his head in his hands. As long as he lived, he would never forget the sight of those kids coming in from the ambulance--how could two small children generate that much blood? And he wondered about the resident who had worked on the girl--Mohammad was sure he had overheard the nurses saying that they had paged him out of a nearby bar. By the time Mohamad had finished stitching up and stabilizing the boy, the girl had already been pronounced dead on the other side of the E.R. curtain. Did she ever have a chance?

Several miles north, Vice President Cheney was lying in bed, watching football on TV. He hadn't even bothered getting dressed today. Lynn had been clucking around him for days, checking his pulse and heartbeat as if he were some old, old, old man. But when they had taken him in to fix the irregular heartbeat, it wasn't Lynn that had flashed before his eyes, and it wasn't his life--it was that woman gang-raped in Saudi Arabia who was to be flogged and imprisoned for having been out alone with a male. He knew what he would do if somebody gang-raped his daughter, then told her it was her own fault. That judge would be DEAD. He clenched the remote control. What the hell was wrong with those people? He used to like those Saudis. He used to like Vladmir Putin. He used to like Saddam Hussein. He used to like Manuel Noriega. I hate everybody. Lynn came in again and handed him a bowl of green Jello. "You have to eat," she said, though it was not a very necessary statement. He tried to remember what they used to talk about. When was the last time we talked about anything besides politics and his heart? Lynn reminded him that their daughter was coming over later. I guess I'll get out of my pajamas.

A few miles west, Judge Sowell Lame opened the door of his newly acquired townhome in upper Georgetown. He was still in his pajamas, though he had what appeared to be tall rain galoshes on his feet. "Come on in. Let's start in the basement." Sebastian L'Arche entered the house, a very tense rat terrier leashed at his feet. The duo followed Lame down the narrow staircase into the dank cellar. This was Gipper's first moonlighting gig as a rat exterminator, and L'Arche was perplexed and nervous about the dog's uncharacteristic jitters. There couldn't be THAT many rats here, could there? L'Arche unleashed Gipper, and Gipper ran over to a pile of boxes and started barking at them. "Couldn't he stalk them better if he stayed quiet?" L'Arche agreed, called the dog back, and pulled it up by it forelegs, and whispered "rat" three times in Gipper's ear. L'Arche let the dog back down, the dog turned and looked back at the boxes wistfully, then took off into the back of the cellar to start killing rats. "What was that all about?" asked Lame, but L'Arche just shook his head. L'Arche had a bad feeling about this place. A half-hour later, Gipper had deposited six mortally injured rats at their feet, and eaten six doggie treats. "Excellent!" declared Lame. "Can you clean that up? I'll meet you upstairs in the kitchen." L'Arche bagged the rats to bring home for his neighbor's pet python, releashed Congressman Dorkley's rat terrier, and started up the stairs. Gipper looked back one more time at the ghosts watching them from behind the boxes, and wondered why the humans were more concerned about the rats. Gipper then bagged three rats in the pantry and one in the upstairs guest bedroom. L'Arche explained that there were probably more behind the walls, but Lame would have to cut out a hole large enough for Gipper to enter, which Lame did not want to do. "Let's just see how things are this week--I'd rather call you back than cut up my walls." A few minutes later, L'Arche happily got out of the gloomy house with a fat check in his back pocket, wondering if he should discuss Gipper's lucrative talent with the Congressman or just keep the paycheck for himself. The dyamic duo got into the ratmobile and drove away, their secret rat-fighting identities safe for the timebeing.