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Chapter 9: Keeley

July 15 at 8:00 PM

Adapted from a photo by Peter Griffin

Adapted from a photo by Peter Griffin

Water gushed in, filling the empty space around me. Slowly the level rose, pushing me to the edge as I drifted back to consciousness.

"Awfully rude of you not inviting me to the party," said a voice.

I squinted my eyes, trying to make sense of the blobs of light floating around me. "What is this?" I said, fishing myself out of the pool. "I put a bullet in your head."

"Several, actually." He took a sip of his Strawberry Margarita. "But nothing is as it seems anymore, is it Delta? Look around triggerman, this is hardly the D.C. that you once knew." His bald cranium and angular jaw slipped in and out of focus.  "These days it's called the Devil's Club."

I didn't mind the ragged t-shirt nor soiled boxers that he dressed me in. I had much bigger problems. "Where's my gun, Keeley?"

"In your room of course," he replied and massaged his short goatee.

"I don't have a room." I stepped forward.

"Sure you do, Birchy. All members of the Devil's Club do."

Keeley loved to tease me about my addiction to Birch Beer, an American oddity that he couldn't get back on the island. "It's Burke, and I ain't no member of no damn club."

He set the Margarita aside and leaned back in his chair. "I'm afraid you don't have a choice in the matter. Nor do I."

I peered over the edge, taking note of the barren streets and dilapidated buildings. "Where are we exactly?"

"You're standing atop the sundeck of the Williard, mate. Under new management, of course. And that smoldering ruin in the distance is the zombie barbeque you threw the other night. Splendid job on that one." Keeley stood. "Here, have a look." He handed me a pair of binoculars.

I leaned against the rail and took a gander. A wavering cloud on the horizon was all that was left of the apartment complex. Columns of gutted buildings poked out of the haze like dead fish. The city was little more than rubble, highlighted by an unbroken window or two that somehow survived unscathed. As I scanned the horizon, something sparkled in my lens. "You've got to be kidding." I panned back around.

"That's right. The White House is still intact," said Keeley. "When you're ready you'll find him there."

"Who?" I said. And then I caught a glimpse of his handiwork: corpses dangled from the traffic signals and lampposts. I peeked up from the binoculars and turned around but there was no reply. Keeley was gone.

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