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 ....

Monday, September 07, 2009

Southwest Side Story

Angela de la Paz was in her new foster home at Southwest Plaza.  The pink warbler had found her, but after Angela was seen talking to "herself" on the balcony, her foster mother had chained Angela to the couch she slept on.  (The social worker that placed Angela in the home believed that there was a spare bedroom for Angela because the foster mother had lied about having no children.)  Angela used to love school, but the start of this term had brought her no joy.  She was sitting on the couch, listlessly reading her history textbook again because they had given her no pencil or pen to do her math homework.  Her chain extended as far as the bathroom, but not the kitchen, and she would not be fed again until her foster family returned from their Labor Day outing to Six Flags.  She lay down and curled up in the fetal position, thinking about her grandmother, wondering when she was going to see her.  She stared at the blank television set, the cable box removed and tucked away every time the family went out.  I need to run away.  She could easily run away after she went to school tomorrow, but that's what she did last time, and all they did was move her to another foster home.  This one's better than the last, and maybe the next one will be the worst of all.  

Not far away, Golden Fawn was sitting on her own balcony.  She had dreamt about the pink warbler the night before, and she was meditating in the gentle breeze, trying to understand what it meant.  The raven on her balcony was whispering to her, but she simply could not understand what he was talking about.  Her hair was now long enough to braid, and she was rhythmically braiding and unbraiding it by feel, her eyes closed and focused inward.  It's no use.  She opened her eyes and stared blankly at the raven.  Her mind was on the wedding planning, which was already at an impasse because her future mother-in-law's rheumatoid arthritis would make it "impossible" (or at least difficult) for her to travel to the mainland, and they didn't have the money to fly Golden Fawn's family to Puerto Rico.  Golden Fawn did not really relish the thought of getting married on an Indian reservation anyway, but she also did not share the modern American bride's dream of a big fat wedding powered by overpriced satin and organza, thousands of flowers cut down in their prime, an open bar, and a disk jockey with no taste.  "We need to elope."  There!  She had said it out loud; now she just needed to say it to Marcos.

A mile away, Marcos Vasquez had again taken a Labor Day shift doing U.S. Coast Guard patrol over the Potomac River.  This might be the last one!  After he got married, he wasn't planning to volunteer for any more of these.  It had been a long time since he had seen Ardua face-to-face in the depths of the Potomac River, but he knew she was still there.  Golden Fawn had heightened his senses to the presence of evil...and of good.  It was a mild and overcast day, which had cut down the boat traffic somewhat, but there were still plenty of people out there.  The pilot turned around in a slow arc, and Vasquez methodically scanned the river with his eyes, even though his thoughts were elsewhere--thinking about whether he could talk Golden Fawn into eloping.  He was picturing a small church in a Virginia town on the outskirts of Shenandoah National Park...or maybe an outdoor ceremony at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.  

And JUST LIKE THAT, he saw a powerboat swerve to miss a canoe and a passenger go flying out of the stern.  He tugged at his mouthpiece and alerted the Coast Guard fleet of the approximate location of the man overboard, all the while keeping his eye on the spot as the pilot held the helicopter steady.  (Vasquez would rather be on the boat doing the search and rescue operation himself, but his seniority left him in the sky most of the time now.)  He watched anxiously as the nearest Coast Guard vessel approached, simultaneously with a D.C. Fire Department vessel that had also heard the radio call.  Vasquez frantically redirected the rescuers, sure that the divers were not yet in the correct position to go down.  He could sense Ardua reaching up to grab the human prey even as she struggled madly against the current.  "No, to the left!  YOUR left!  Further to the left.  THERE!"  The current was no longer pulling the woman towards the Chesapeake Bay; Ardua was pulling her straight down.  She lost consciousness moments before the Coast Guard divers spotted her.  They kicked hard with their fins to reach her, then first one, then the other diver grabbed hold of her, then the divers started kicking their way up again, but she was caught on something they could not see.  They looked around for ship lines, fishing nets, or anything else that might have inadvertently tethered her to the river bed, but saw nothing.  

Without a word to the pilot, Marcos Vasquez jumped out of the helicopter and hit the water hard.  He swam hard for the victim, no air tank to weigh him down but also no fins to keep him out of the current.  He could see Ardua's eyes glowing and glaring at him, and he swam straight for them, his fingers extended to gouge them out, but Ardua saw the Nanchotank token that Golden Fawn had tied around his neck that morning, let go of the woman, and swam away.  The Coast Guard divers felt the tension give way, and quickly began pulling the victim to the surface.  In the meantime, a Fire Department diving team had entered the water to retrieve Marcos Vasquez, but he signaled them he was OK, and swam up to the surface without assistance.  Gasping for breath, he then let himself be hoisted onto the Fire Department vessel.  He collapsed on the deck, feeling pain everywhere in his body and wondering if he had fractured any bones.  On the nearby Coast Guard boat, the paramedics began resuscitating the woman as the divers pulled off their masks to look in bewilderment at Vasquez, certain he had done something but uncertain what.  "Maybe he could just see better without a scuba mask on," one diver said to the other.  "Maybe," was the dubious reply.

Back at Southwest Plaza, Angela had picked up an imitation Ming Dynasty Vase purchased for two dollars at a church rummage sale, and was pretending it was a genie bottle.  She could hear that the rats had returned to the silent kitchen and were poking around for crumbs, and she shuddered, but she also envied them.  She closed her eyes and wished hard for the genie to come out, then heard a thud on the balcony.  She looked up and saw the oldest man in the world had rappelled himself onto their balcony.  The Warrior slid open the balcony door and entered the apartment without a word.  "I wish you could rescue me," Angela said.  The Warrior nodded in agreement, relieved that the adolescent was not afraid of him.  He noted her chains with disgust and asked her if there was a tool box in the apartment.  Angela told him it was in the kitchen, and he returned a minute later with a hammer.  She could not believe a man that wrinkled up would have the strength, but he came down hard on the lock and busted it open with one blow.  He told her to gather her things, and a few minutes later he was lowering her and her purple backpack to the ground.  Then he rappelled back down, wondering if she was actually going to wait for him or run off, but she was crouched next to a bush when he landed on the grass.  As he was disconnecting the equipment, he realized a braided woman (Cheyenne? Cree? both?) was leaning over a neighboring balcony watching them.  Their eyes met for a moment, then a raven cawed at her, and she nodded at the Warrior.  Then he remembered where he had seen her before and wanted to talk to her, but there was no time now, so he turned to go.

Golden Fawn watched them trot quickly away, then sat back down on her balcony chair.  She closed her eyes, and now she understood what the raven was telling her--this was her ancestor.  She fingered her medicine bag and tried to understand who the girl was and what the Warrior was doing, but the time had not yet come for her to know.  Instead, she got a bad feeling about Marcos and reached for her cellphone to call him.  When he didn't pick up, she stared again at the raven for awhile, then it flew off.  She took a deep breath, sensing Marcos was OK but certain that something had happened with Ardua of the Potomac.  She stood up, feeling that she should have been there.  She went inside to get dressed, firmly resolved to stop planning their wedding and get back to planning their life.


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