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 ....

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Life and Death

Nobody would agree to put the very pregnant Angela de la Paz on a plane, despite her insistence that she knew when her baby was going to be born, so she ended up having to find the Malaysian jet passengers in the spirit world.  Out of her body (lying on a hotel bed in Bethesda), she had willed her spirit to find them, and this was the hardest quest of all, since she had never met any of them.  She heard doleful bits of music in A minor, and saw the notes illustrated in gray and red and brown.  (Synesthesia.)  She felt numbness and terror and anger and confusion like little daggers flying through the air.  (Neurogenia.)  She crept deep into the Indian Ocean where the dry currents and eddies pull away from the wet flow of life.  (Amrita Manthan.)  Now she was with them.  (Purgatoria.)

"You can leave this place," she told them.  "Follow me."

"But the demons!" they wailed.

However, the demons were already fleeing from She Whose Gaze Must Be Avoided.  Angela looked around once more with satisfaction.  "It is time to go."

And so they went, quickly, until nobody was left behind but one.  "Roddy!" she cried in amazement.

"I was fending off the demons for them, but I couldn't defeat them by myself," the deceased Aussie commando said matter-of-factly.  And then more gently: "We have a son!"  He touched her belly softly.

"I miss you," Angela said.

"It'll be alright, Angie!" he said cheerfully.  "But you need to get back now:  Charles needs you."

She shook her head in amazement and laughed.  "He's having an emergency espionage sale?!"

"No," he said, this time more forcefully.  "It's Mia."

"There's something wrong with her, isn't there?  What is it?"

"It's Ardua, ain't it?  You need to go."  He kissed her and vanished.

She opened her eyes and jumped to her feet.

Down in Cleveland Park, Mia was at Charles Wu's house, out in the backyard with little Buffy Cordelia in the sandbox.  Mia did not feel the warming sunshine, she did not hear the sparrows chirping gaily, and she did not see that the first crocus patch blooming in the neighborhood was here.  The darkness inside her, and the heaviness and despair, would no longer abide resistance.  She stared at the face of Hello Kitty on a sand pail, as the face slowly twisted itself into the furious, terrifying visage of Ardua of the Potomac.  Her protege' cheerfully threw some sand on Mia's right leg, and the nanny flew into a rage.  "Delia!" she screamed, and the toddler burst into tears as Mia scooped her up and roughly belted her into the baby swing.  "Leave me alone!"  With that, she gave the swing a shove, then ran into the house.

She grabbed a butcher knife from the kitchen, the voice in her head whispering that Delia was evil and had to be destroyed.  She wrapped the knife in a towel, her hands shaking, and sought out Wu.  I'll seduce him.  Then I'll kill him and take his money.  Then I can go anywhere I want.  They can't keep me here!  The former human trafficking victim had forgotten every good thing that had happened to her in the last couple of years, had forgotten her new friends, had forgotten her family in Asia, had forgotten all but the deep knot of pain that Ardua had turned into a ticking time bomb inside her.

She found him upstairs in his bedroom, looking out the window with consternation at his daughter crying in the swing.  He turned to run outside but found his nanny blocking the bedroom doorway.

"What happened to Delia?"

"Do you love me?" Mia asked, her hands trembling.

"We're good friends," Wu said quietly, his chi uncharacteristically whacked out.

"Do you love me?" she repeated.

He didn't like the look of the towel she was clenching with trembling hands.  "Delia is crying.  Let's go get her, and then we can have some tea and chat."

"No!" she pulled out the knife and kicked him swiftly in the crotch.

Stunned and in pain, Wu struggled to snap his mind back into focus, then lifted his elbow too late to fully deflect the knife coming down on his back.  He writhed from the cut to his shoulder.  "I don't want to hurt you!" he said, but his attempt to grab her by the ankle failed, and she lifted the knife again.

"Don't!" shouted Angela, rushing into the room.

Mia stepped away but didn't drop the knife.  "I hate you!" she screamed at Angela, forgetting everything about her friend except the power she had to talk people out of things.

"Mia, we love you," said Angela.

And Mia knew she would believe it if Angela said it one more time, but it was a lie!, so Mia slashed her left wrist, then hurled herself out the window.

Angela ran to look out the window, but she could already feel Mia's spirit violently discharged from the broken body.  She rushed back to Wu, who was clutching his bloody shoulder.

"I'm OK--go to Mia."

"It's too late," said Angela.

Wu took a deep breath.  "Then go check on Delia:  she might be hurt."  He pointed to the backyard beyond the shattered glass.

A few minutes later, Delia's sobs were subsiding as she sat in her father's lap in a kitchen chair.  Angela handed Delia a cup of milk, then set to work on Wu's shoulder cut.  "It's bad," she said.  "It's gonna need stitches."  She continued applying pressure with her elbow as she pulled her cellphone out of her pocket to call 911.

"What are you gonna tell them?" asked Wu.  If Angela had not been standing behind him to lean on his wound, she would have seen tears in his eyes for the first time ever.

She didn't answer him because her call was picked up immediately.  "We need a couple ambulances," she began.  "We have a man with a knife wound in the shoulder.  He's conscious, but weak, and I can't get the bleeding to stop.  We also have a suicide victim."  (She felt Wu shudder.)  "I'd rather not talk about that because there's a little girl here, and I don't want her to hear me talk about it."  (She felt Wu pull Delia in a little tighter.)  "And I'm going into labor."  (Wu turned his head to look at her, but Angela silently mouthed to him that she was OK.)  "I can't talk about the victim right now because of the little girl here.  She's in the backyard, and definitely d-e-a-d."

Angela gave the address, then burst into tears and handed the phone to Wu.

Next door, Liv Cigemeier was staring at her newly furnished and decorated nursery with satisfaction.  She exhaled deeply and happily, knowing they were finally ready to adopt Angela's baby as soon as it was born.  She went into the master bedroom to put away the adult laundry, smiled at the bassinet, then walked over to open the window and let in some fresh air while it was warm outside.  That's when she noticed Mia lying next to the bushes in a most unnatural way.  She ran downstairs, grabbed the spare key to Wu's house, and raced next door.  She let herself in without bothering to knock, expecting to find Delia wandering around alone.

"We're in the kitchen," she heard Wu call, and she raced back there to find Wu a bloody mess, Delia in his arms, and a crying Angela leaning on his shoulder.

"My boy's gonna be born today," sobbed Angela.

"Mia--" Liv began, pointing out the wide-open back door.

Wu shook his head.  "It's too late for her.  Ambulances are on the way."

"Are you sure?" asked Liv.  (They both nodded yes.)  "Sit down," she said, motioning to Angela that she would take over the job of applying pressure to Wu's shoulder wound.

The now grimacing Angela pulled a chair away from Delia's view, and sat down gingerly.  "Did you pick his name out?" asked Angela.  "It will help me with the labor."  (She was still crying.)

"Lucas Felix," said Liv, feeling a little faint at the sight of the blood, and the thought of Mia outside, beyond help.  "We thought Lucas could be an Australian OR a Latin American name, and we wanted to honor his parents.  My husband hates his name, but 'Felix' means happy, and he agreed to it as a middle name."  And then she started crying.  "What happened?" she whispered.

"Later," said Angela, pointing at little Delia, and then Liv understood they didn't want her to hear them talking about it.

"I think I should move in with you for a couple of months," Angela said.  "I can breast-feed and babysit Lucas, and help watch Delia, too, until Charles finds a new nanny."

On any other day, Liv would have thought this a really terrible idea, and she was fairly certain Felix wouldn't like it, but she knew it was the right thing to do.  A few minutes later, she was the one holding Delia in her arms while Angela and Charles were loaded onto stretchers.

"Lucas is really healthy," Angela called to Liv, as she got back out of the stretcher.  "I'm gonna walk outside to let my water break there," she said to her confused caretakers, "and then I'll be ready for the ambulance.  I don't want to leave a mess here!" she cried, bursting into tears again.

Liv carried Delia--crying with renewed vigor after seeing her father carried out on a stretcher--into the family room to search in vain for a toy to soothe her.  "I don't know what happened," she repeated to the police officer following her with his memo pad.  "She was the nanny.  I arrived after it all happened."

Out in the backyard, a few members of the Departed waited patiently with Mia's ghost as she tried to comprehend that her body was not her body anymore...and it was time to move on.  The pink warblers from next door flew over to sing gently to Mia and encourage her.  I don't understand, Mia kept saying, and she didn't.

But the Departed understood all too well.

COMING UP:  A new moon.


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