We are suspended over the floor of an expensive apartment; fine, thick carpeting, modern furniture, valuable nothings littering all surfaces. Our view travels along the floor. We pass a jittery TV glow cast across the carpet. We see a pair of boots, a pair of bare feet, legs and backside clad in very tight black gloss, a clingy, sparkly blue top on back and shoulders... we are looking at Lavender. The view spins in slightly. We see her propped on a few throw pillows, a bottle of Chartreuse clutched in her left hand, her right hand scribbling furiously on a steno pad with a pencil. Her breathing is a little whistly and labored. She recites what she is writing as though merely witnessing its composition, detached, occasionally taking a belt from the bottle of liqueur. We hear pencil scratchings and Lavender's voice:
"The first time I cursed God, I looked into the sky, expecting to be struck by lightning... and was not. From then on I cursed God regularly, until I realized there would be no reply. No one was watching."
THE SACKING OF WASHINGTON, D.C.
In places it seems as though the entire population of Washington is in the streets. Brawls between police and citizen mobs exhorted with megaphones flow slowly between residential neighborhoods... each side whips fiercely at the other with clubs and pipes and boards, wanting blood, getting it, the horrible din rising above the tumult, screams of pain and anger, metal against Kevlar, wood on bone, bodies hitting the pavement. Gunfire is sporadic. In commercial districts the city is desolate, streets filled with debris, any and all windows crashed in, nothing of value remaining, silent and still but for the wind, and the occasional urgent tearing of a vehicle down the middle of the street. Any sort of military presence is conspicuously absent, even in the form of casualties.
Now we are on the Mall. The National Archives building smoulders, forming a smoky backdrop to the executions. The National Galleries are empty and still, desperately looted before being put to the torch. The Capitol is an unreal backdrop to it all, its dome missing above its first tier, jagged columns in a circle like the yawning maw of a blackened monster, pitted like Roman ruins. Twilight comes early with the dense cover of smoke.
The lawn has been churned into muck in places by tires and angry footfalls, scattered with garbage and larger debris at its edges, but areas have been kept clear out of necessity. It has become a congregation for mob justice. Police, politicians, anyone who looks too rich or too important is put against the wall. Toughs and gangstas execute the officials with glee, pleased to at last have a greater purpose, before turning the corpses over to the homeless.
Hoards of street people drag the freshly-executed to waiting pyres, stripping them of suits and uniforms, robes of office, taking them as their own; they dance, kings and queens for a day. Particularly reviled officials are spitted and trussed and put over the fires, then shared out among the hungry when done, regardless of the poison which doubtless filled these individuals in darker days.
Sauntering into the periphery of this scene like a stray animal is Lavender. In the midst of this ruin she is conspicuously radiant. Her pale skin positively glows in the twilight, her body clad in something tight and shiny, and though it is chilly she does not seem to notice. She carries a small teacup and saucer.
Lavender is flanked by tall, imposing figures wrapped geometrically in long leather dusters and caps, their faces indistinguishable in the shadow of turned-up collars. They are armed, suggesting that it is not entirely safe for her to be here. The participants of this circus may not recognize her as their benefactor.
She carefully places one foot before the other, studying her nails. Handguns crack, heads snap back, sacks of dirt in suits fall down. Lavender surveys it blankly, as though not understanding what it means to her, but she is pretending. She sips her tea. Disturbances trail through her vision like tiny insects on the skin of the water, faint static impinges her hearing. We see her from behind, overlooking the Mall, our point of view drawing closer to her, until she heaves her shoulders in a small, indefinable sigh. She and her attendants turn away.
Lavender deigns to be sealed in the passenger compartment of her Lada Consul. The vehicle trundles off over the uneven surface of the ground before making intact blacktop and breezing along. Scenery races by with little variance: gutted buildings and heaps of debris and the occasional flame and plume of smoke in the distance, outpaced by the nearer landscape.
Inside, she looks ahead, characteristically expressionless. She rocks slightly with the buffeting of the car on the slightly patchy road. There is a thumping sound which cannot be explained by the occasional pothole, clearly discordant from the jostling of the vehicle. Lavender narrows her eyes, glancing to her side.
The car has pulled over. While the driver stands behind, Lavender approaches the trunk. She turns the key in the lock and lifts the lid, releasing an intense stream of blinding white light, pouring through the gap, which bathes her and the chauffeur until they almost look like a photo-inverse. Undaunted by this, Lavender gently swings the trunk lid upward. The light gradually relents, falls back, the contents of the trunk becoming apparent. Crammed inside, curled fetally is a figure in white robes and of delicate, smooth countenance, with flowing blonde hair. This is Lavender's guardian angel. But he's been roughed up; his face is bruised and bloody, his robes torn, wings broken beneath him, his halo flickering erratically beside the wheel well. He is conscious but moves weakly, not quite sure where he is.
Lavender narrows her eyes. "He's still alive."
The angel sees her now, recognizes his predicament. "Lavender, no..." he gasps. Even though he is in imminent peril of harm at her hands, his tone expresses concern for her salvation and his expression remains beatific despite the injuries.
Lavender snarls and leans into the compartment, bunching up her guardian angel's robes in one hand, pummeling him with the other, screaming at him. "Did you think you would save me? I wasn't put here to be saved! I was put here to be beaten! I was put here to be twisted into what I am! Stop playing with me! Just leave me alone and let him finish it!"
Her composure completely lost, she tosses him around bodily, beats his head against the inside of the trunk, his halo flickering wildly and sputtering as she bruises her knuckles beating him bloody. Finally she flings him down, stepping backwards... on cue, her driver approaches, raises his sidearm and fires four rounds into the angel. It is messy, splattering the inside of the trunk with something more appropriate to an insect than an angel. The halo flicks out abruptly, casting a faint streamer of glowing, dissipating dust from its former circumference.
The trunk lid closes, revealing Lavender. She looks ahead, face expressionless, the calm betrayed by the rapid flickering of her lashes.