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, February 22, 2009

Energy Line

"This is your energy line."  Charles Wu stroked the tip of his index finger from one end of Chloe Cleavage's palm to the other.  "It's enormous," he added, unsure if she got that.  (It also had a couple of interruptions--which meant she was lazy--but he didn't tell her that.)  "This is your wealth line:  it starts in the middle of your palm, which means your wealth will come to you later in life."  She bit her lip, wondering exactly how many more years it would take her to land a rich husband.  "And this is your health line--very robust."  There were a couple of other lines he could have told her about, but he didn't want to get into them--particularly the romance line.  (Now that he had a good look, he could tell her boobs were fake, and that was a real turn-off for him.)  "Another round here, please," he signaled the bartender.  They were seated at the oyster bar in the Starfish Cafe.  She was waiting for a blind date whom she feared was a no-show; he was waiting for a new contact from the residence of the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Chloe thought Charles was very hot, but he thought she was a big bore.  "Watch," he said, as he held up a spoon and bent it with his mind.  He had already decided a quarter-hour earlier that no interesting conversation could come out of her mouth.  He then held up a fork and bent one tine at a time.  People around the bar were starting to clap and laugh now, except for the skeptics who were leaning closer trying to figure out the trick, except that there was no trick--it was another one of Wu's abundance of talents from his excess chi.

At the end of the bar, Sebastian L'Arche was wolfing down his last hush puppy and digging out his wallet.  He remembered a platoon buddy in Iraq who had decided one day he had telekinetic powers:  instead of turning the jeep around during an ambush, he had lifted his hands in front of his face and tried to send the enemy flying through the air in the opposite direction.  L'Arche and the others were still trying to get him out of the driver's seat when the force of the explosion propelled their jeep into a roll of backward somersaults.  The cause of the casualties had been listed as an enemy attack, but it was really insanity.  L'Arche didn't have his own breakdown until a couple months after that.  He headed out the door, handed Lucky Charm some Po Boy scraps, apologized for leaving the Irish setter outside in the cold, then took the dog for a slow jog down past the Marine Barracks and towards the waterfront.  L'Arche had been working with the dog a couple of months, certain it was going to be a great helping dog someday, but somehow the dog just didn't seem enthusiastic about any of the trainings L'Arche had attempted.  Lucky could learn almost any helping task, but somehow it was clear that she wanted more.  Lucky Charm's destiny remained elusive, but L'Arche had figured out one thing:  Lucky Charm was the only dog he had ever seen who was unafraid of Ardua of the Potomac.  It wasn't that Lucky liked her or was seduced by her evil power:  the thing was, Lucky would growl and paw at the river bank as if she were ready to lunge at the demon if it ever raised its head out of the water.  In Iraq, L'Arche had learned there was a fine line between courage and stupidity, and he was still trying to figure out which side of the line Lucky was inhabiting.

Several miles north, Angela de la Paz ran the final steps up to the apartment, sick of the cold.  Sometimes she wondered what life would have been like if the war had not driven her family so far north.  She wondered what it would have been like to grow up in the warm green hills she had heard so many stories about--a land full of birds and trees and warm rain and no winter.  "I got the money," she called out to her grandmother, who had the gas stove on to warm the apartment.  "I'll pay the electric bill in the morning before I go to school."  She didn't know what would have happened if her cousin had not come through.  Abuela lit a couple more candles so that Angela could sit down at the kitchen table and finish her homework.  Each student in her class had been told to prepare an oral report to explain a section of the Stimulus Plan, and hers was the 19.9 billion dollars to increase food stamps.  If we could just get $100 more per month, it would make a huge difference in our life.  Angela could not even comprehend "19.9 billion".  She turned on her calculator to divide 19.9 billion by 1,200 but got an error message when she tried to enter all the zeros.  She pulled out a piece of scratch paper to do the long division:  it was sixteen and a half million.  Were sixteen and a half million people going to get $100/month more in food stamps this year?  Or were fewer people going to get more?  Or were more people going to get less?  I guess this is what my report is supposed to be on.  She flipped deeper into the pages her teacher had printed from the internet while her grandmother dished out some hot soup to warm up her granddaughter.

A few miles away, Henry Samuelson shivered slightly, feeling the draft from the very old window of the Brewmeister's Castle.  The Heurich Society was discussing how the Stimulus Plan would affect their Ming Dung Plan.  Samuelson's sweater was slightly threadbare in the back, but he never noticed those things, so he did not know why he was shivering.  It was always his wife who had noticed such things and quietly fixed them without his ever realizing it.  Sometimes he got tired of trying to master every piece of the machinery running the world, and even more tired of fools droning on about it; sometimes he just wanted to focus on little things, like how it felt to dunk his doughnut in the hot coffee and then bite into it.  If Charles Wu could see Samuelson's energy line, Wu would know that Samuelson's energy was running out; but it was Samuelson who had watched Wu these past years, and Samuelson was learning nothing.

Outside the window, a trio of starlings watched the secret meeting silently.  They knew that Ardua had more plans for Samuelson--she had a way of giving the weak unexpected energy.  Some people didn't know what to do with it; some people did.


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