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, October 12, 2008

Into the Wall

Atticus Hawk was slipping away from his Justice Department desk, little by little.  He tried to grab hold of the edge of his desk, but the suction force grew stronger and stronger.  Like a dust bunny yanked by a vacuum nozzle, he flew away from the desk, landing on his back against the stark white wall, flanked by his ebony-framed diplomas.  He tried to plant his feet on the floor, but the wall was eating him.  He was surprised at how painless it was--getting sucked into the wall--but he was a little apprehensive anyway.  He looked wildly around, trying to think of a way to escape, then disappeared completely into the wall.

The phone rang, and he awoke with a jerk.  Owww.  He grabbed hold of the crick in his neck with one hand and picked up the phone with the other.  He listened for a minute, said "OK", and hung up.  He shoved aside his National Security Agency pile and pulled forward his Guantanamo papers again.  It had been like this for days, except for a few times he had unplugged the phone and curled up under his desk to sleep with his briefcase for a pillow.  What is the rush on this?  The U.S. Court of Appeals had given the Justice Department until October 16th to file a new brief blocking the transfer of the 17 Chinese-born Moslems from Guantanamo.  Even though they had been un-labeled as enemy combatants, there was nowhere for them to go:  Afghanistan was not going to take them, they were afraid to return to China, and they would cause an international scandal if given asylum in the U.S.  Discretion of Department of Homeland Security to refuse entry of foreign nationals....He had told his boss repeatedly that this was not really the issue, but he kept getting sent back to that legal issue anyway, and his research was going in circles.  The problem is that we captured them, and then some moron labeled them political refugees from China.  The problem was that every time Hawk tried to tell his boss that, it was like talking to a brick wall.  He highlighted a few more holdings in orange, then began pulling up case citations on his computer, but before he had read even one of them, his phone rang again with another urgent research request from the N.S.A. concerning their little whistleblower problem.  He rolled his chair away from the computer and reached out for the N.S.A documents on the two military linguists' allegations to ABC News that the government had been routinely eavesdropping on American aid workers and U.S. military personnel living overseas.  "Yes, General....Well, the brief is not finished yet....Yes, we take the Senate Select Intelligence Committee seriously.  (No we don't!)  It's just two whistleblowers, sir--all your processes were in place (with a nod and a wink)....I believe, ahem, we believe that the salaciousness of the alleged eavesdropping details paints the whistleblowers in a bad light....Yes, well, no.... No, witness credibility is only part of our analysis....A few more hours, sir....Yes, sir."  He hung up the phone, bent over his wastepaper basket, and vomited up the coffee and pizza leftovers from the hour before.

A few miles to the south, Marcos Vasquez was peeling out of the Southwest Plaza parking lot, running after an ambulance at full throttle.  It turned the corner, and Vasquez cut across the yellow grass.  There was too much traffic on the road, he was almost on top of them--BAM!  The ambulance had jumped across the center line and knocked a sedan over.  Now drivers were taking off in all  directions as the ambulance clipped a few more cars before getting away.  Vasquez pulled up, caught his breath, and surveyed the automobile accidents in front of him.  Nothing on fire, nobody thrown from a vehicle--he heard a woman crying for help for her baby and ran in the direction of the voice.  Back at Southwest Plaza, Golden Fawn had watched the whole thing unfold while holding the hand of the black and blue woman on the stretcher beside her.  She heard the EMT on the phone reporting the ambulance theft and requesting another ambulance for Southwest Plaza.  Golden Fawn looked down at the unconscious woman, then turned to the EMT who was not on the phone to ask him why somebody would steal an ambulance.  "Drugs, needles, bandages, oxygen tanks."  He recited the list unemotionally, as if this was a daily occurrence.  "Or it could have been a joyrider."  A raven perched on a nearby flower pot began squawking at her, but Golden Fawn already knew it was the demon living below Southwest Plaza--one of Ardua's disciples.

Several miles north, Charles Wu was eating saffron noodles in the upper room of Skewers, listening to Che Flaco and Che Gordo report to him on the recent G7 meeting in Washington, but there was little to report:  whatever the G7 had agreed upon, it was top secret, and nobody had leaked it.  The two Che's fell silent, digging their pita bread into the hummus.  Wu touched both corners of his lips with the linen napkin and took a long look at the Che boys.  The light was dim, the reds and golds and browns of the room more mystical than romantic.  The faint aroma of a recently snuffed hookah pipe wafted to them from behind a brocaded curtain.  Wu could barely see their eyes in this room, but he could tell from their voices that they were lying.  "Who bought it before me?" Wu asked.  The Che brothers exchanged glances and continued chewing.  "It doesn't matter," added Wu.  "It will all change again next week anyway, won't it?"  You know it's quite a week when one of the Axis of Evil countries gets taken off the Terrorist List and nobody even asks you about it--but what was North Korea's threat compared to the shutdown of the CREDIT way of life as we know it?  "Do you have someone in Paris?"  Wu took up another forkful of noodles, smiled encouragingly, and waited for their intelligence on the upcoming European Union meeting.  Wu had fifty-thousand dollars and thirty-thousand Euros stuffed into various pockets around his body, and he would not be paying the bill with a credit card.

A few miles further north, Liv Cigemeier and her husband were side-by-side at their Silver Spring home computers, reading online articles.  It was an incredibly boring Sunday ritual they had somehow fallen into, and Liv really didn't know what to do about it.  "It's a beautiful day--we should go hiking," she commented cheerfully without looking away from her monitor.  Her husband mumbled something that sounded like "later", and they continued reading.  Liv was reading a study released by a Deutsche Bank economist, which reported that the annual cost of global deforestation was between $2 and $5 trillion dollars--absolutely dwarfing the current banking crisis.  The European Union-commissioned study was a hot topic of discussion at the World Conservation Congress, illuminating the myriad functions that humanity is already having to supplement or replace as forests stop cleaning air, providing water, and sequestering carbon.  "You should read this," Liv said, and emailed her husband the link.  A few minutes later, she heard him say "hmmm", and they fell back into silence.  She frowned slightly, thinking he didn't want to tell her he disagreed with the article.  She then heard him abruptly get up from the computer and put his hands tenderly on her shoulders; he was having a panic attack, but all he said was that he was ready to go hiking.  Liv worried about everything, and her husband desperately wanted to fix it all, but didn't think it was fixable.

Many miles to the south, Regina and Ferguson were solemnly examining the two large pumpkins placed before them by Bridge, the White House gardener.  "You draw the faces any way you like with those markers, and then I'll carve them out for you."  There was no way he was giving the twins knives, and they knew it.  They discussed the business for a couple of minutes in their secret twin language, then picked up the markers as Bridge turned away to sort out some hyacinth and tulip bulbs.  Bridge could hear the White House ghosts whispering to the children, but Lord knows he could never understand a word of it.  Pale pink here, then the lilac, then the white and yellow, then the deep red over there--he was lost in his own thoughts.  He had worked here a long, long time, and he knew it when he saw it:  that President was broken down now.  Without that good woman by his side, Lord knows he would have been back on the bottle by now.  The twins had already seemed to lose interest in President Bush, and it made him nervous to think they were already preparing for the next President.  He finished his color arrangement and turned to see how the pumpkin faces were turning out.  Reggie's had three eyes, no nose, and a frowning mouth full of fangs.  Fergie's had granny glasses, but they had squiggly lines like they were cracked.  "What's that--hair?" Bridge pointed to the odd design on the top of Fergie's pumpkin, then realized he was looking at half of the jack-o-lantern's brain:  Fergie wanted his pumpkin to be scalped.  "Alright!  That's good!  Nice and scary."  He steered the twins over to a different table and gave them some unshelled peanuts to keep busy with while he did the carving.  These are gonna be damn creepy jacks.  Still, Bridge didn't like it when the twins were silent--he was glad to know what was going through their minds.  Lord knows their mother don't see it.  But she did--more than Bridge knew:  right now, she was lying on her couch (not 200 feet away from Bridge's workroom), too awake to sleep, too tired to do anything else.  The HIV coursing through her veins was happy, but nothing else inside her was.


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