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, June 07, 2008


Liv Cigemeier bobbed her key fob and opened the office building door so that her husband could carry in the ficus tree destined for her cubicle. He had never been to International Development Machine before, and she was suddenly feeling a little embarassed about how shabby and cramped he would find it. Her office was less than a mile away from his swank offices at Prince and Prowling, but hers was a hundred years older than his and a thousand times less capitalized. She had been to a few receptions in his building, but nothing ever happened in hers. They rode up in the small elevator and got out on the fourth floor, where she again bobbed her fob, and they continued on their way until she showed him where to set down the ficus tree in her 10x6 cubicle. He looked around obligingly after she said, "This is it!" He had actually expected something even smaller and shabbier, but he didn't tell her that. He did, however, ask about the strawberry smell. "Momzilla must have left her fan on." Liv walked over to Momzilla's empty cube and turned off the oscillating fan draped with an artificially scented air freshener normally found in taxi cabs. "She claims her pregnancy is giving her extreme sensitivity to offensive odors, but that stupid strawberry thing is what makes me sick." Her husband had heard plenty about Momzilla and should have known better than to ask Liv why a pregnant woman would choose to blast artificial chemicals at herself instead of bringing in a decent air cleaner, but he asked anyway. "Why does she do anything?", Liv replied. "Why does she drink a latte every two hours and still act like she's too exhausted to do any work? Is all the caffeine being hogged by the baby?" Liv was irritable with PMS, and her husband knew it, so he dropped the subject; what he didn't know was that every month Liv got another reminder that they hadn't had a baby yet, or how much she wanted one. He changed the subject to the colorful posters and maps on her walls, asking about the conferences and programs they came from. Then she showed him into the meeting room, where materials were laid out on the large conference table in a semi-organized state signifying the launch of their newest contract--microenterprise loans in Afghanistan. He doubted that egg-laying hens, dairy cows, or carpentry training would pull a lot of people out of the poppy business (or the Taliban, for that matter), but he nodded encouragingly. He loved her for her optimism and had no idea how fleeting it really was.

Several miles north, Charles Wu was eavesdropping on Condoleezza Rice's Watergate apartment. He thought he had heard some interesting conversation for a minute, but now it was a Pink Floyd song. When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse...out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but it was gone. I cannot put my finger on it now: the child is grown, the dream is gone. I-I-I have become comfortably numb. He frowned in irritation. The music faded as Pippin leapt down from the entertainment center because he thought Rice was putting out food for him in the kitchen, but she was just squatting on the kitchen floor picking at a stubborn piece of dried smoothie stuck to the tile. Wu listened to several clattering noises as Rice made herself a pineapple/vinegar/pea/hemp/cherry smoothie and muttered something about the Heurich Society and the scarcity of stevia imports. Then she said something about the price of oil and laughed as she hand-fed Pippin some leftover knish. A minute later, Wu heard the fade-in of Pink Floyd again, then silence, then Andrea Bocelli started singing. Wu pulled off his headphones and left the device to continue recording. He picked up the telephone to check with his contacts inside the Hong Kong government on the state of the resurgent bird flu in the market there, and they assured him it was under control. He knew his mother would never leave Hong Kong unless it was piled up with corpses...either that or he would have to provide her some motivation in the way of a grandchild. He drummed his fingers on the table, thinking about women he had recently dated, but he knew she would hate all of them. Maybe I could adopt a kid from the mainland that looked enough like me to fool her.... Then he realized what he was saying to himself--that he was thinking of trying to get her to come to the U.S.! It was absurd. He had only planned to be here a few years, then back to Hong Kong. She would never agree to go to mainland China. Would she go with him if he returned to England? This, of course, got him back to thinking about his father, and then he could not stop the absurd image of the three of them reunited in England. He got up to poor himself some scotch and shake off this line of thought...and start thinking about money again.

A few miles south, Laura Moreno was dragging in her groceries, drenched in sweat. She put away the perishables, then rifled through the mail. Superior Court?! She opened up the envelope and was amazed to see that her pro bono case had finally been docketed for a hearing! How long had it been? She read to the bottom and saw a name she didn't recognize--"Judge Sowell Ame". What happened to the other guy? Is that why this took so long? Is he gone? She sat down at the computer to type a letter to her client, pausing for a moment to rub at her painful tendonitis. She had performed 500 mouse clicks and 300 keystrokes the day before, and yet she was the one that got yelled at for too many non-billable hours (two hours/week!)--not Chloe Cleavage with her three documents-per-hour-coding rate and her six hours of goofing off billed straight to the client, nor Bridezilla with her twenty wedding-planning phone calls per day and the manicure/pedicure spa visit she had been given after her recent trial ended (in defeat for Prince and Prowling's client!). She took a deep breath and tried to tell herself that it was all worth it if she could occasionally be a lawyer that actually accomplished something worthwhile in this world. She closed her eyes trying to muster the enthusiasm and ambition she had once known, but the vision was fleeting. She opened her eyes and began to type up the letter, already starting to worry about whether her client would be able to stay out of the hospital long enough to make it to the July hearing.

A couple of miles to the west, Dubious McGinty was worried, too. He was sitting on the banks of the Potomac, dangling his hot feet into the water. He wasn't worried about Ardua biting him--no, he'd cram his leg down her throat if he had the chance. He was worried because somebody had said hello to him the day before, and he couldn't remember who it was. The man had said they had grown up together and told Dubious all kinds of things about their childhood, but Dubious couldn't remember any of it. He could scarcely remember a thing before Vietnam or after it. He was starting to worry that Ardua had already snatched some of his brain, and there was no way he could get it back. He leaned over to splash water on his perspiring face, wondering what the rest of his life had been and where it had gone.


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