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, February 13, 2016

The River in Winter

Reporter Perry Winkle looked out from his taxi cab at the frigid Potomac River flowing slowly beneath the bridge.  A few more seconds and he was back in Washington for the first time in months.  For the first time since being a teenager, he had spent Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and even Super Bowl Sunday living with his parents, sleeping in his childhood bedroom.  The childhood friends who still lived there would occasionally come pick him up to go bowling, get a drink, see a movie, play touch football at the community center field, or just go for a long drive.  He had told everybody why he was on sabbatical--for begging the Washington Post to publish his story about supernatural mischief--and so, with the assistance of a former girlfriend flown in from Colorado, they had united to persuade him he needed help.  After months of medication for "hallucinations", he could honestly say he never saw anything odd anymore and now doubted what he had seen in the past.

But a surprising chill coursed through his body as he passed over the river.  He refocused his thoughts, as the shrink had taught him:  he was in control of his feelings, irrational fears could be overcome, professional goals could be sought and attained, and personal progress was always possible.  He would get back to nitty-gritty urban reporting, local politics, and human interest stories.  He would see things clearly, and report them to the world.  He wrapped his arms around his own chest, unable to shake the chill.

Fifty feet below him, Angela de la Paz was paddling a two-person kayak around chunks of Potomac ice with her employer, Charles Wu, both dressed like Inuit seal-hunters.  "You don't see them?" asked Angela, referring to the pink dolphins leaping joyfully around them.  Charles shook his head.  "But you've seen ghosts," protested Angela.

"Hey, if you see them, that's fine, I believe you!" he laughed.

"They're so happy without Ardua here," Angela added, and Charles nodded.  "But her effect lingers:  the beaver, the ducks, the river rats--"

"But what can they really do?" asked Charles.

"They're still spreading evil."

"Well, it's like an oil spill," said Charles.  "It will spread for awhile, but not forever."

Angela smiled at the ease with which he insisted on returning to normal life:  as long as there wasn't a huge demon out there, he would go right back to ignoring the myriad little evils all around him.  She had already done two overseas spy missions for him, and she knew his SuperPAC had skipped over the New Hampshire primary but had already deployed Bridezilla to South Carolina.  Charles was right back to being a triple agent and major player in the affairs of political mankind.

"But I still don't understand about that prophecy that you were going to kill Ardua of the Potomac," said Charles.  "You keep saying she's not dead."

"The Warrior hasn't found her yet, but I know she's out there."

"Well, if she comes back, then you'll kill her--that's the Prophecy."

"I think it changed," said Angela.

"How can a prophecy change?"

Angela shrugged her shoulders.  "I think a prophecy is like looking at a speeding car heading for a cliff--you can predict that the car is going off the cliff unless it changes course."

"So Ardua turned away from the cliff?"

"For now."

Up in the bridgeman's quarters of the 14th Street bridge, Dubious McGinty was pointing a knife at an unknown visitor.  "You ain't gettin' my laptop!" he shouted.  "It was a gift from Perry Winkle!"

"I don't want your crummy laptop!" said Glenn Michael Beckmann.  "I had a dream I would find Ex Calibur here, and I need it to kill Donald Trump."

McGinty lowered the knife.  "Well, how about that?!"

"Have you seen it?" asked Beckmann, dressed like John Wilkes Booth somewhere underneath his camouflage parka.

"Well, sit down and let me think about that for a minute.  You want some fried gull?"

"Is that what I smell?" asked Beckmann.  "How do you hunt gull?  They fly so erratically!"

"Hunt gull?!  I don't hunt 'em!  They just drop dead every now and then--old age or somethin', I guess."

Beckmann sat down on an old bean bag and surveyed McGinty's nest.  "Not bad for a homeless guy."

"I ain't homeless, you fool!  This is my home where you're sittin', dumb ass!"

"Alright, don't get so testy!  I'm not a racist or anything!"  [This was far from the truth.]

"Well, I guess not since you be the one fixin' to assassinate Mr. Donald Hitler." McGinty handed the visitor a fried leg and sat down.  "What does this Ex Calibur look like?"

"Ex Calibur!  From the legend!"

"I don't know that legend, but I'll tell you what I got," said McGinty.  "I got a bunch of knives, pepper spray, some big sticks, a baseball bat, a couple of crow bars, a bunch of hammers, different sizes of screwdrivers, and a broken chain saw.  I haven't actually killed anybody since Vietnam, though:  this is all for self-defense."

"Killing Trump is self-defense!"

"What do you need to defend yo'self for?  You don't look Mexican, or Muslim, or anything else he's preparing his Final Solution for!"

"I believe in freedom, and he's a fascist!  Plus this autistic shaman who talks to CIA ghosts told me I need to do it.  And there are some other reasons."

McGinty put aside his greasy plate, and leaned back with his arms over his chest.  "Things were just startin' to lighten up around here, what with Ardua gone!  And now you tellin' me we got CIA ghosts runnin' around giving orders?!  That's not in the New Prophecy!"

"What new prophecy?"

Below the bridge, Marcos Vazquez piloted his Coast Guard vessel further downstream.  He had never told any of his coworkers about the demon that had nearly drowned him years ago, and so he had nobody to tell about its vanquishing.  "That's it," said Vazquez, pointing to the Alexandria shore.  "They're going to build the new boat house there--right where they used to auction off slaves."

"How do you know that?"

"My wife's taught me a lot about this river," said Vazquez.

"Well, I'm sick of it," said the California boy.  "I hope I get transferred back to the West Coast."

Vazquez had stopped dreaming of being transferred since marrying Golden Fawn.  And for a few frigid months, he was glad of the monotony of the quiet river in winter.

Up on the Arlington shore, another family of river rats, sick to death of the cold, scampered off to Arlington, following the well-known path through the sewers into the Pentagon, where they had heard of something called the "OCO slush fund", which sounded like a good source of food.

And on the Georgetown shore, a gathering of Shackled looked out on the frigid waters where they had once drowned en route to the Georgetown slave auction.  So much had changed; so much remained the same.

COMING UP:  Talking heads.


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