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, May 10, 2009

The Calling

It was the most difficult urban guerrilla field trip yet:  getting the teens into the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital.  Reporter Perry Winkle and several secondary school teachers had pushed for months to get the permissions, and even so, it was not granted for Saturday night, which was what they had really wanted.  Their dream of showing the kids what happened at the other end of a Saturday night "senseless violence" ambulance trip was not to be, but the leaders still had some hopes for teachable moments.  For one thing, there was still a holdover from a 3 am shooting because he had already received three operations and was now on his fourth.  All the kids were permitted to see from a distance was a tight cluster of doctors and nurses hemmed in around the operating table.  "This is what it means to cherish life," said the oldest teacher, a 53-year-old woman who had grown up in the city.  "None of these people even know him, but they've been working non-stop to save his life."  Somebody muttered under his breath that they were "getting paid" to do it because it was their job.  "Getting paid to do it?!  Do you really think they're doing this for money?  You're crazy!  You go do boob jobs in Beverly Hills if you're doing this for the money!  These people are here to save lives!"  Winkle was silent, merely running a discreet tape recorder in his pocket and jotting down some supplementary notes on his steno pad for an article he was going to write for the "Metro" section of The Washington Post.  The hospital handler moved them along to the next patient:  a six-year-old gasping wildly for air in the midst of an acute asthma attack.  (This brush with death only merited one resident and one e.r. nurse.)  The next patient was a cyclist grimacing in pain, waiting for results from the x-rays taken after the red-light-runner ran her over on M Street.  (Nobody was attending to her at all, except her college roommate.)  

Finally, they saw a 37-year-old tripper from Dupont Down Under thrashing impotently against the straps binding him to the gurney.  "Where's the damned psycho?!" hollered Dr. Khalid Mohammad.  This translated as, "Why haven't you found the attending psychiatrist yet?", and one of the attending nurses ran back to the nurses' station to page her again.  The remaining nurse (Consuela Arroyo) handed the doctor another sedative-loaded syringe, and he plunged it into the patient's thigh.  Dr. Mohammad knew the psycho was going to chastise him for sedating the man before a thorough drug screening was done, but the pulse rate was way too high to wait.  Also, Dr. Mohammad had seen the man before and knew the hallucinations were a constant, no matter what drugs might or might not be in his system.  "The rats used to be on our side, but they turned against us!  Everybody turned against us!"  The patient fell silent after this last outburst, and his spasms moderated to mere twitches.  Dr. Mohammad took a deep breath and stood back; it was then he noticed Angela de la Paz and the other teens staring at him.  He rarely remembered patients' family members, but he remembered Angela--she always seemed to glow, even when she was sad.  The hospital handler roughly pushed the field trip group on their way out of the emergency room, making sure they didn't see the two dozen ill and injured in the emergency room waiting room (one dozen of which were people thinking their hay fever was H1N1 influenza.)  They headed towards the cafeteria to eat and tell the reporter their thoughts on what they had just seen.

A few blocks away, Lynnette Wong was making her way down to the shore of the Potomac, ten amulets in her hand.  She always closed her Chinatown herb shop on Mother's Day--not for herself, but for others.  Lynnette was very young when her mother had died in childbirth in an overcrowded New York city emergency room.  Then Lynnette's father had packed her up and relocated to Washington.  She used to think he was a superstitious fool, mixing dried powders to cure everything from warts to smoking addictions, and then she had thought he was genuinely insane when he had started talking about a demon living in the river.  Now, here she was, living the same life he had led.  She tossed the amulets one by one, aiming as close to the center of the river as she could.  She felt Ardua shudder at the impact of each one.  Ardua ordered The Beaver to swallow the amulets and take them far away, but he refused.  Then some frankenfish arrived to eat them, but Ardua knew they would just poop them out again tomorrow.  Lynnette turned to walk away, but then she noticed what a beautiful day it was and how the sunlight danced upon the water, so she stayed.  Then the pink dolphins returned to the call of the amulets, but nobody could see them playing in the water except Lynnette and the Warrior on the other side.

"She's an embarrassment!  It's time to expel her once and for all!"  Henry Samuelson was railing at the Chair of the Heurich Society, who had reluctantly agreed to meet with Samuelson an hour earlier than the official meeting.  "For God's sake--she can't even handle a torture question from a kindergartener!  It's embarrassing."  The Chair did not bother reminding Samuelson that the question to Condoleezza Rice had come from an older elementary school student, but he did point out to Samuelson that their society was secret, so nothing a member did publicly could embarrass the Heurich Society.  "Her convictions are suspect," Samuelson continued.  "Her arguments are disingenuous.  Her legacy is falling apart.  Her usefulness to us has passed."   The Chair sidestepped the argument, reminding Samuelson that it was Samuelson who had always said to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  "She's not close to us!" yelled Samuelson.  "That's what I'm saying!  She used us for her own agenda.  She's just a professor now and can give us nothing!"  The Chair drummed his fingers on the table, not entirely disagreeing with Samuelson, and yet uncertain that Rice had outlived her usefulness to them.  For one thing, they still needed to learn more about Project RODHAM out of the State Department, and Rice might still have loyal contacts there.  The Chair convinced Samuelson to put off the topic until after the next meeting, when Rice was safely back in California.  Samuelson nodded grumpily and picked up a raspberry danish.

Back on the river, the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was rowing girlfriend Eva Brown in a canoe.  This time, he was sure he would get the proposal right!  She had just finished her law school exams, she was relaxed and happy, it was a beautiful day, and he was ready to bank the canoe on Roosevelt Island before pulling out the engagement ring--to be sure he didn't drop it in the water.  He jumped out of the canoe, tugged the canoe snugly into the sand, then let her jump into his arms so he could keep her dry as her carried her to the shore.  Eva pulled out the stemware and strawberries while the Administrator worked on uncorking the champagne bottle.  Eva thought this was just a celebration of another law term under her belt and didn't know there was an engagement ring in the pocket that the Administrator was fingering.  She decided to get it over with fast:  "I'm taking a year off from law school.  I'm going to intern in the embassy in Kabul."  The color drained from the Administrator's face, and he let the ring pouch fall back to the bottom of the pocket.  "Maybe you can come, too?" she said with only moderate hope.  It wasn't that she thought he was too cowardly to take a State Department assignment in Afghanistan:  it was just that his position in D.C. sounded too important.  Neither of them knew that Eva had been recruited to be deployed not to Kabul but to a new U.S. consulate in the far western corner of China:  she was going to be an undercover agent in Project RODHAM.

Above them on the Roosevelt Bridge, Charles Wu was in a taxi on the way to catch his flight to China.  The money had come through, the connections had come through, and everything was going smoothly so far.  He was one of only a handful of people that knew the dangerous game the Secretary of State was preparing to play in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Wu was jotting cryptic notes as his Pakistani driver game him additional information on the recent assault on the Pakistani Taliban.  "Are the nukes safe?"  The driver shrugged his shoulders and answered, "For now."  As Wu left the driver with a $500 bill, he wondered if he was being paid enough for this mission.  He caught a glimpse of a beautiful actress on her way to catch a flight back to Los Angeles after attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner last night, and Wu smiled because he knew they would both be in First Class.


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