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, June 27, 2010


"What do you mean you have anemia?" asked Eva Brown. "First adrenal fatigue, now anemia? All you do is sit at a desk all day!"

The Assistant Deputy Administrator for Hope was more than a little distressed to hear his State Department job characterized as sitting at a desk all day, but he suspected his girlfriend was secretly comparing him to the Marines she had been on a secret mission with in Afghanistan--burly, manly, powerful, courageous soldiers that would not complain about shrapnel wounds, let alone exhaustion. But he knew that she didn't know that he knew she had secretly been there with Project R.O.D.H.A.M., so he could not confront her about why she thought he was such a wimp. "The doctor wants to run more tests, maybe send me to a blood specialist. I have to take it easy until we get a handle on it." He leaned back wearily on her couch and and took another sip of coffee while Brown's daughter (a bundle of energy adopted from Tajikstan) enthusiastically skipped rope in rhythm with a reggae song coming from the CD player. He would not be able to teach the girl how to swim this summer, or take them to Old Dominion, or drive to the beach. "I know it's a drag," he said apologetically, though he resented having to apologize for being sick. "I wish I could be--" He paused, but she had heard the lump in his throat. Sometimes she felt they were still strangers; other times she felt the complete opposite.

"Alright, we'll deal with it," she said, and smiled at him. She curled up on the couch next to him and hummed to the music while the next generation jumped up and down in her living room. Nothing she planned for in life turned out the way she expected it--why should her boyfriend?

Several miles away, former Senator Evermore Breadman was still salvaging clients after the disappointing success of financial reform legislation a couple days earlier. He had three banking clients sitting (and scowling) in his Prince and Prowling office, while two investment banking CEOs and the head of the Business Roundtable grilled him over the speakerphone. "It's actually not as bad as it looks," pleaded Breadman, who actually thought it looked pretty bad. "For one thing, nothing really happens until the agencies make the regulations, and I have 30 years of experience in writing regs. in this town." He paused to squirt herb drops into his nose, then inhaled deeply; the scowlers looked at him suspiciously, and he whispered it was an anti-oxidant mix he got from his herbalist in Chinatown. (He offered them a try, but they both declined--one was busy chewing his Nicorette gum, and the other was sipping vodka and Splenda from a Perrier bottle.) "Yes, it will probably cost the industry $20 billion in fees over the next five years, but that's chunk change, really--easily absorbed." Scowler #1 folded his arms over his chest, while scowler #2 typed furiously into his laptop computer. "I saved derivatives for you, gentlemen!" (That ALONE is worth my consulting fees, you tightwads!) A beep on the speakerphone indicated that the caller from the Financial Services Roundtable had finally joined the conference; he pleaded "bad traffic" on the way home from church, causing synchronized eye rolling from the scowlers. "Now, getting back to the regs.: those goody-two-shoe amateurs don't know how to affect rulemaking at FDIC or SEC--they're totally out of their league." (He was referring to nonprofit groups and consumer protection advocates.) "Trust me--none of these regs. are getting written without my input." But in truth, Breadman was still worried about one set of regulations--the ones that would be coming out of the Federal Reserve Board, where fierce independence was still the norm. (How I am going to influence those arrogant bastards?)

A mile away, Italian economist Luciano Talaverdi was tired of hearing about all the drama in the legal division of the Federal Reserve Board, and how busy those attorneys had been in helping lawmakers draft and amend the financial reform legislation. Arrogant bastards. He was tired of how much time Ben Bernanke spent listening to lawyers instead of listening to economists; Talaverdi didn't come all the way from Napoli to produce reports that never worked their way up to the top. How can I get his attention? Talaverdi had tried analyzing the data fed to him by Charles Wu, but his boss was just sitting on it because the Project Eliminati numbers could not be verified by other sources. A quiet knock grabbed his attention, and he looked up to see Chinese economist Fen Do Ping at his door. "I read your white paper," he said. "May I have permission to use your data, please?" Ping was new at the Board, and Talaverdi didn't know much about him. "Charles Wu said you would be happy to share it with me," Ping said, sitting down on the guest chair and smiling like a Cheshire cat.

A few miles to the north, the Heurich Society meeting was underway in the Brewmaster Castle, with Henry Samuelson launching a diatribe about President Obama's kid glove handling of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. "Russia agrees to import a few chickens, and now we're letting them into the World Trade Organization!? Russia is dangerous!" Nods all around the table. "Just because the jackass can eat a hamburger and drink Coca-Cola does not make him one of us!" (Just the thought of a Commie in Ray's Hell Burger made him determined never to set foot in there again, though he wished he had been there on that day to make sure both Presidents had come down with e coli.) "Who do they think they're fooling with this 'we're regular guys' shit?!" Nods all around the table.

"We need Russia's support against extremists in Asia--it's as simple as that." The Heurich Society members stared in surprise at the speakerphone, from whence this Condoleezza Rice pronouncement had come. "And we have to keep juggling Russia, India, and China--we cannot choose one over another. It's Russia's turn."

Samuelson folded his arms over his chest. They never should have let women into this organization.

Over in Silver Spring, Liv Cigemeir was sitting at the kitchen table when her husband returned from Prince and Prowling (where he had been poring over financial legislation for former Senator Evermore Breadman). Cigemeir had $75 worth of CVS purchases spread out in front of her--including a lit make-up mirror, two blushes, and four shades of eye shadow. She looked up at her husband, both cheeks a different color and sporting all four shades of eye shadow. "Oh, you're home early," she said, embarrassed. He kissed her lips (thankful they were substance-free), then sat down next to her and patted her pregnant belly. "Momzilla said my face looked yellow," she said. Her husband groaned.

"Your face is glowing like it's never glowed before! Don't listen to that dingbat. Her idea of a beautiful pregnancy is one in which she spends $5,000 on maternity dresses. Now let me get you something to eat."

She went to the bathroom to clean off her face, but did not make it back to the kitchen--stopping to lie down on the couch instead. "I'm so tired," she said just barely loud enough for him to hear her. He walked out to find her lying on the couch, eyes closed, and realized she was not glowing anymore. What was that thing...? He had spent months trying to get her to stop worrying about every possible problem that could occur with her pregnancy, and a horrible fear grabbed a hold of the deepest part of his gut. Her cousin had--what was that thing? He put both hands over his face. Anemia?

Over at the Potomac River, Ann Bishis was a little late in showing up for the Sunday outing of the Poseidon Auxiliary of the Old Dominion Boat Club in Alexandria, but everybody quickly saw why: she was rolling an enormous crate on a dolly across the ramp. The excursion leader stopped her before she boarded the boat. "What is this?!" He heard a squawk and peered into the crate. Bishis explained that it was a pair of brown pelicans rescued from the Gulf, and she was going to release them on the river. "Are you kidding me?!" She shook her head. "Where did you get those? No, I don't even want to know. They're not native here!"

"None of us are," she said, and rolled the dolly around him. The pelican was her spirit animal, and it was her sacred duty to make sure they survived. She prayed to Hera as the boat launched, and when they were a mile downstream, she opened up the crate to release the birds. The pelicans--hungry, anemic, and still fragrant with Dawn dishwashing liquid--bolted out of the crate, flew confusedly around the boat for a few seconds, then took off over the water. Bishis watched them fly a short distance, then land near the marshy shoreline, and she smiled.

A mile beneath them, Ardua of the Potomac was not amused.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fathers of the Year

Sebastian L'Arche sipped his iced coffee, looking out the window at the three dogs he had tied up outside the Georgetown Saxby's, near the courtesy canine water bowl. He had resisted taking on new clients (particularly in remote neighborhoods), but the money was too good to pass by, so he had hired a couple of teenagers to help out for the summer. So far he had given them the easiest dog walks and shopping errands, photography and reporting tasks for the West End Snoutbook (a Facebook for dogs), and had brought them along on a few kitty and bird runs. He had flawlessly good instincts when it came to other members of the animal kingdom, but he was always slow to trust human beings--it was doubtful he would be giving them any vacationers' house keys or pets more challenging than an energetic Labrador. Still, he had to admit, he liked the way they hung on his every word and called him the Dog Whisperer when they didn't know he was in earshot. They think I'm cool, thought the Iraq war vet.

A couple got up from the table next to him, and L'Arche could now hear the conversation coming from a cluster of young ladies he had dubbed NUTTY (Nannies United To Take Y-chromosomes) for their appalling discussions on how best to get rid of the mothers they worked for and marry the fathers. The nanny from Sweden had her sights set on getting rid of a woman gynecologist so she could marry Dr. R., a plastic surgeon; the au pair from Switzerland had her sights set on getting rid of a female Member of Congress so she could marry Mr. F., an investment banker; and the nanny from Swaziland had her sights set on getting rid of a woman economist so she could marry Ambassador T., an African diplomat. There were also a few American nannies in the group who had no interest in marriage but simply wanted to seduce their male employers for the fun of it. The Canadian nanny was actually a lesbian in love with the mother of her charges, but she had not yet found the courage to tell the others the truth about the marriage she wanted to break up. (A few other nannies who had already slept with their bosses but then expressed concerns about the welfare of children in their care had been drummed out of the group already, and now met somewhere on M Street.) "She's going away to a conference for four days," exclaimed the Swede, "and I have a new push-up bra!" The others nodded encouragingly--this was the stuff dreams were made of.

A few blocks away, Atticus Hawk was looking at engagement rings in a jewelry store on Wisconsin Avenue. This is it. He had a silly grin on his face which slightly disarmed the sales clerk, who was further taken aback when he referred to his girlfriend as "high" (not understanding the name as "Jai Alai"). Tomorrow will be the best Father's Day ever, he thought, finally ready to make a commitment to her and her son as well. I survived all the investigations, and my career at D.O.J. is locked in, thought the former torture specialist, who had managed to block years of his career from his conscious memory. The future is ours. He winked at nobody in particular, and the sales clerk thought he might have a twitch, but she ignored it and moved on to the Brazilian collection, sensing he might be interested in some of their more unusual designs. "Atticus?" Hawk turned around to discover his old roommate Wince had entered the store after spotting Hawk through the window. "What are you doing here?" Hawk froze up: he had never told his jilted friend (still not over Bridezilla) about his romance with a poorly educated woman of color who already had a son (fathered by a man who had beaten to death their daughter). "Are you looking at engagement rings?" The sales clerk took a sip from her iced tea bottle and waited discreetly for the emotional moment to pass--it always did.

Outside the jewelry store, Charles Wu was pushing his brother's wheelchair while their father tut-tutted about all the empty storefronts in Georgetown. "The recession is a terrible thing," said his father, who had never spent a day of his life worrying about money--though he had spent plenty of days worrying about other things. They were heading for one more thrift shop, having exhausted all the antique stores already. Some people felt that Europeans looked down on American antique stores because they rarely held anything more than 200 years old, but Phillip had assured Charles their father would find hours of enthrallment examining old manuscripts and paintings--and it was far too hot for the Englishmen to explore the gardens of Washington today. As Charles the elder climbed the staircase to see the silver and china collection upstairs, Charles the younger found himself alone with his brother--who was going to live, thanks to the bone marrow transplant. Their father had envisioned them spending hours and hours, if not days and days, catching up on each other's lives, but the faintness of health (on the one hand) and heart (on the other) had kept their interactions coming at a slow (but steady) pace. Wu pointed to an illustrated book on Maryland sea birds and asked if it would be a good Father's Day gift, and Phillip nodded enthusiastically. Upstairs, Charles Wilkinson Montgomery was not looking at the silver collection at all, but secretly watching his sons in the shoplifting-prevention mirror hung above the staircase. He had not felt so happy in a very long time.

Down at the waterfront, Liv Cigemeier and her unborn child were treating daddy to his first Father's Day with a Potomac boat ride, to be followed by lunch in Georgetown. (This was actually her idea of a great outing, not her husband's, but just being with his pregnant wife made him ridiculously happy.) Sitting on a park bench near the boat launch, Glenn Michael Beckmann was speaking into a tape recorder to create a message for the son he never got to see. (In truth, the judge had granted him supervised visitation, but Beckmann found the order too humiliating to comply with.) "I'm sorry I can't be with you on Father's Day," Beckmann said, and Cigemeier smiled sentimentally at him as they waited for their vessel to dock. As the minutes went by, Beckmann proceeded to talk about some of his recent activities to restore the nation (all incomprehensible to Cigemeier and her husband). Then Beckmann reminded his son that their glorious bloodline could be traced to Kaiser Wilhelm, Braveheart, and Vlad the Impaler. He then took some time to explain to his son what "impaling" meant, and how many people Vlad had impaled, and why. Cigemeier was now getting a little nauseous, and her husband stood her up to take a little walk until the boat arrived--because this was his job now, to protect his family.

Out in the river, Ardua of the Potomac had her feelers deep into Beckmann, one of her darlings, but she was not too distracted to sense an opportunity a couple miles away to drown another Father's Day observer after he abruptly fell in at Hain's point. Children were fathered and orphaned every day in Washington, and the demon only wished she could be present every time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Dizzy was trying out a new tourist trap spot to make money with his trumpet--on the National Mall, just across Constitution Avenue from the Federal Reserve Board and the National Academy of Sciences. He had first come out to this spot during Rolling Thunder and had done pretty well, but it was proving extremely challenging to set up a comfortable place to sleep in this neighborhood. There was the Park Police to contend with, for starters, then the overzealous guards surrounding the State Department and the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Even the construction zone of the U.S. Institute for Peace had turned out to be surprisingly hostile for a homeless guy just trying to sleep in peace. Most aggravating of all: the Fed had its own police force! The place was a marble palace, and God forbid a ragamuffin like him tried to roll out a sleeping bag anywhere near it--not by the baseball pitching statue, nor the water fountain, nor the sidewalk grate, nor the window well behind the bush with the robin nest. The Fed had everything from bomb-sniffing dogs to yellow-vested crossing guards, all united in their mission to control everybody that came anywhere near capitalism's ultimate Man. Dizzy had pushed his cart around the palace several times, trying to decipher its secrets. For one thing, it was full of songbirds! Insane ducks and sociopathic starlings were everywhere else in the city, it seemed, but the Fed was surrounded by songbirds! Cardinals, vireos, mockingbirds and an abundance of robins. And the happiest, chirpiest sparrows he had ever seen! It was highly suspicious. The Fed people also seemed highly suspicious, though he could not quite put his finger on why. Maybe it was the fact that they never used the front door. A red-headed tourist family came into his peripheral vision, and he picked up his trumpet to play a jazz standard for them; the family stopped to take a photo of the grand entrance of the Federal Reserve Building without knowing what it was or the role its people had taken in shaping their financial destiny. The father then pulled out a dollar to throw in Dizzy's trumpet case--he could not afford more because the Wall Street meltdown had decimated their investment portfolio. Dizzy stopped his song mid-note and reached for his water bottle.

Over at the Federal Reserve Board, Italian economist Luciano Talaverdi turned away from the window and back to his computer screen. He would soon be taking a lot of time off to watch Italy's World Cup matches, and he needed to get a lot done today for his boss--who was never satisfied. Every draft report he had submitted in the past two weeks had been greeted with skepticism, if not derision--and then an order to recheck the data. The problem was, a lot of the data had come from Charles Wu, and Talaverdi had no reputable source to back it up...and yet, Talaverdi was convinced the data was spot on. For just a moment there was a lull in his Maria Callas CD and he thought he heard an odd whirring noise, but the singing began again, and he forgot about it. Behind the wall, one of Charles Wu's robotic spiders was obeying a remote command to keep moving, even as the sophisticated spyware Talaverdi had inadvertently loaded into his computer continued transmitting hard drive back-ups to Wu's computer twice a day.

Several miles to the north, Charles Wu was, indeed, analyzing intelligence from the Federal Reserve Board. It had been a shock to his system, to say the least, donating bone marrow to his previously unknown brother, and he was trying very hard to get back to normal. He had met with most of his key contacts in the past week, and had reassured all of them that his long absence was due to a deep undercover mission. (He did not mind the fact that some people concluded from this that he had been busy in North Korea for a month.) He had rented an apartment for his brother and father in the building next door so that they were very close but not too close. He had used his brother's slow recovery and constant fatigue as an excuse for short and infrequent visits, though he knew they were patiently awaiting more. Right now, he just wanted to get back on top of things--the world was spinning at a very rapid rate, and he did not like feeling so far behind. He paused to rub his eyes for a moment. He had not been with a woman in over a month, and that was really bothering him. Lynnette Wong had squeezed his shoulder a few times during his recuperation, but that didn't count for anything--she didn't even really want to be business partners with him. But she wasn't so bad--some might even say "cute". He hadn't noticed before. She had filled his fridge and pantry with fruits, vegetables, herbs, whole grains, mineral tonics, and orange zest. She had brought plants in, despite his protests that he traveled too frequently to water them; she claimed they were drought-tolerant species. He looked over at the one that was blooming, then looked back at the FRB intel. Maybe I need a day off. He went over to the couch and picked up the remote control; it was getting harder and harder to put off thinking about his father.

Further to the north, John Doe's sister was analyzing a different type of intelligence--her brother's. He was trying to assure her that he actually liked his life a lot since becoming a temporal lobe epileptic, and she was trying tactfully to suggest that this might be because he no longer worked for a living. "I work all the time," he said, referring to the "observation journal" where he scrupulously recorded detailed entries for every place he went and everything he did. She pointed out that the family was paying all his bills. "I never asked you," John Doe said, not at all discontent that his continuing amnesia blocked memory or recognition of this meddlesome bunch of pests who refused to understand that his seizures were messages from God. The NIH brain surgeon cleared his throat, growing concerned that this was actually not a good candidate for experimental surgery. He suggested that John needed some more time to think about it. John Doe's sister snapped that this was not her brother's name. "My sister is the one that's not at peace with her mind," said John Doe. "Do you have a brain surgery for her?"

Back in Washington, another Sense of Entitlement Anonymous gathering got under way, Condoleezza Rice phoned in to the Heurich Society meeting, a secret Jesuit-led society held its inaugural gathering in Georgetown, and a coven of Supreme Court law clerks met to decide the Court's next ruling. In the river, Ardua of the Potomac plotted her next move.

NEXT WEEK: the threat to Father's Day.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Project Cinderella

"What is this crap?"

Butler Han Li explained he was serving Red Velvet cupcakes and TangySweet frozen yogurt.

"Who told you to buy this crap? We always have donuts!"

Li apologized profusely to the Chairman of the Heurich Society and told him he would run out to Krispy Kreme right away.

"It's too late for that! Just get the coffee ready."

Li retreated obsequiously to the basement of the Brewmaster Castle to finish preparations for the meeting. He was bored with his job--grateful for it, but bored. He used to find eavesdropping on their conversations fascinating, but as his English improved, he realized that a lot of times when he thought they must be discussing extremely important world events in code, they actually WERE simply gossiping about nonsense. And they argued too much amongst themselves to ever dominate the world--it was delusional, really. So he was bored, and decided to try some different refreshments--it was either that or become an agent for communist China, but he decided he wasn't bored enough yet to attempt that. (He did set himself up a Chinese double agent in Second Life to explore how it felt, but it was just a computer program, and didn't feel like anything.) He sighed, then set out the cream and sugar packets on the black lacquer serving tray.

A few blocks away, Bridezilla was telling psychiatrist Ermann Esse about her recurrent nightmare that a black death was creeping towards America. "Do you mean the oil spill in the Gulf?" She shook her head no. "The bubonic plague, so to speak? Perhaps swine flu, hantavirus, or ebola?" She shook her head no again. "Killer bees?" (No.) "A swarm of locusts?" (No.) "Terrorism?"

"No!" she cried out impatiently. It was clear she was going to have to figure this out herself--the man had no clue! "It's like...a threat, and it's already on our shores, and most people are ignoring it, and birds are dying, and--" she interrupted herself, grasping at the light bulb flickering in her brain. She started thinking about something that guy in her building had said to her at the apartment swimming pool: "Almost didn't recognize you without the wedding gown--[wink]--whoever he is, you can do better". It was the cheesiest, most transparent pick-up line she had heard since college, but it had made her so weak in the knees that she had to abandon her plans to do fifty back dives, and ended up spending hours just lying limply in the sun. "It's like losing discipline...and order," she said quietly to Dr. Esse. "It's like your goals don't matter because something else is...." She trailed off again, uncertain.

"Do you feel you are losing control of your life?" Dr. Esse asked.

"My life?" She pondered this for a moment. "Everybody's lives! America!"

"You feel you are losing control of everybody's lives in America?"

"I was destined for more," she said softly. Dr. Esse was fairly certain she was destined for a completely average life in every way. (He had quite a lot of patients in Washington whom he had to guide gently out of their delusions of grandeur and into the enjoyment of everyday living.) "I mean, he's a software programmer! How mundane is that?" Dr. Esse did not know who she was talking about, but was finally clued in that this was a rebound guy situation. Someday she would realize that rebound guy was the wealthiest software developer in northern Virginia, but for now, she was simply embarrassed to be attracted to him--a guy who obviously spent too much time at the gym to compensate for his mundane life. If she ever talked to him for more than thirty seconds, he would probably tell her some boring story about how he liked to go mountainbiking in the Blue Ridge Montains or train for triathlons. He probably read comic books instead of biographies. And--ahem. Dr. Esse was clearing his throat and looking at her expectantly. Apparently he had been saying something, but she didn't hear it. Dr. Esse had a soothing voice, and sometimes it just washed over her. That guy's voice was different--it was deep and confident and--ahem. Bridezilla blushed and reached for her glass of water.

Several miles away in Silver Spring, Laura Moreno reached for her water bottle, fairly certain her third bout of vomiting was the last. She looked at herself in the ladiesroom mirror and told herself to stop being a wuss. Then she marched back into the contract attorney office space she was supervising for Prince and Prowlling, where the attorneys were on strike until the dead mouse in the kitchenette mousetrap was removed. She couldn't wait for the building maintenance crew to return on Monday: she needed people working NOW. Why did you have to die with your eyes open? The dark brown eye stared up at her accusingly, and she shivered. She placed a piece of newspaper next to the executioner scene, steeled herself, then gently kicked the laden mousetrap toward the piece of newspaper. Her kick was too soft and missed the mark, so she kicked again, but this time her kick was too strong, and the pile of bleeding gray/brown hair bounced across the newspaper onto the floor. Her stomach heaved, and she quickly turned toward the garbage can; this time no food came up, just a spurt of stomach acid. This is ridiculous! She focused her eyes on the very edge of the mouse, planned her kick, then executed it perfectly. She steeled herself again, squatted down, carefully picked up both edges of the newspaper, hoisted the victim into the air, then dropped the pile into the kitchenette trash can. She quickly closed the bag and headed for the exit to deposit it somewhere in the basement or outside. She looked in disgust at the dozen men she passed on the way out, none of whom had stepped up to do this, all of whom believed erroneously that she was getting paid more than them and should be stuck doing it. You would think unchivalrous men and dead mice would help a girl get over her Cinderella complex, but it didn't work like that.

Back at the Brewmaster's Castle, the Heurich Society meeting was underway. Henry Samuelson was making a face after tasting the TangySweet frozen yogurt, and decided to abandon it in favor of a cupcake. (He would have found cupcakes too prissy in his younger years, but old age really liberated a man in many ways.) The military liaison was reporting on how U.S. Special Operations forces had expanded from 60 countries to 75 in the past year--a real triumph for Project Eliminati. The Chair then announced he had made an executive decision and authorized Samuelson to begin Project Cinderella three days earlier. Gasps erupted around the table, and Samuelson was glad that Condoleezza Rice was not connected via conference call. Samuelson swallowed his cupcake bite without chewing, and addressed his peers. "It's true," he said. "The opportunity presented itself unexpectedly, and we took the girl. She's 15, almost no family, emotionally malleable, coming off several traumas." He looked around triumphantly. "And fluent in Spanish." (Arabic or Chinese would have been better, of course, but bilingual fluency meant a mind receptive to additional linguistic training.) There were several oohs and ahs around the table. ("Where is she now?" someone asked.) "Kansas," said Samuelson, with a smile on his lips.

A few miles to the west, the Warrior sat on the Virginia shore of the river and wiped the perspiration off his forehead with his sleeve. It was time to leave this place--and this demon--behind. "I'll be back," he whispered menacingly to Ardua of the Potomac, but she just laughed. The Warrior had not been to Kansas in fifty years, but it was time. He turned and began the long trek. I should have gotten her involved, he thought to himself, pondering Golden Fawn, but this was her time in life to be happy, and he knew it. "I will save this girl if it's the last thing I do." The Warrior was over 400 years old and had made similar utterances several times, but this time he wondered if it would really ring true.