Part 1:

Dan and I made our way over to Dupont Circle for the rally at around 11:40 a.m. on Saturday. It was still cold out, but starting to heat up. “I wish I had brought something to drink,” I said. Dan handed me a silver flask with the word “Dude” engraved on the front. “That’s not what I meant, but OK!” I took a swig and kept on walking. What fun is a protest without alcohol?

Strangers lined the streets, all walking with us in the same direction. People were yelling, “Down with Fenty!” and “Suck my iPod!” Someone had made a noose out of his ear bud cord and was hanging a stuffed animal with a head shot of the mayor taped to its face.

It was poetic. I was moved.

The last time I felt this part of something was just before midnight on November 4, 2008. Yeah, that night. We were racing toward the White House because it seemed like the thing to do, and that’s where everyone else was heading. It was cold, and I think it was about to rain, but I don’t really remember. People were chanting, “Obama!” Some guy on the sidewalk yelled back, “Fuck you!” He was apparently just leaving a McCain party at the St. Regis. The crowd was huge and it was growing. There were guards everywhere around the White House, and they had extra fences up. People were chanting, “Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye!” It didn’t even occur to us that Bush probably wasn’t home that night. It was pretty amazing, regardless of whom you voted for. Seriously. We all knew that something big was happening, and we were a part of it goddamn it. Good or bad. Things were going to change, we had real hope. It was pretty amazing.

This was pretty cool, too, but maybe slightly less historically significant.

As we approached the Circle, I started to realize just how big this was going to be. People were pissed. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Take away his iPod and fishing just isn’t as fun anymore. The chanting and yelling bled together into a background rumble of energy. My brain was racing, but somehow in slow motion. I could hear a voice calling out something on a loud speaker. This was happening.

We followed the voice into the Circle and found a good spot to settle in the grassy area on the west side in the inner circle area by the bushes. Some dude was climbing the tree next to us to get a better view of the stage that was set up at the north end. It was starting to get crowded and the voice on the other side of the loud speaker was getting everyone pumped up.

“HEY!!!” <“Hey,” the crowd replied>

“I SAID HEY!!!!” <“Hey”>

“THAT’S BETTER PEOPLE! WHY ARE WE ALL HERE TODAY? WE’RE HERE BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE TO PUT UP WITH THIS CRAP!!!” <“Yeah!!!!”>

“WE’RE HERE TO SHOW MAYOR FENTY THAT HE CAN’T TELL US WHAT TO DO!! DO YOU WANT TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO?” <“NOOOooooooooo!!!!”>

“THAT’S RIGHT! WE’RE NOT JUST MINDLESS DRONES! WE ARE OUR OWN PEOPLE!!” <“Woooooooo!!!”>

The roar of the crowd was stupid loud. God, this is great! I love this place! I high-fived Dan and took another pull from his flask.

“AND IF WE WANT TO LISTEN TO OUR IPODS, THAT’S WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO AND NO ONE IS GOING TO STOP US!!!!” <“Yeah!!!”>

“OK EVERYONE, TAKE OUT YOUR EARPHONES AND LET’S BREAK THE LAW!!!!!” <“WOOOO!!!!”>

“Fuck,” the me in my head told me as I patted down my pockets. “I can’t believe I forgot to bring my fucking earphones to this thing.”

Dan offered to share his, but I turned him down. “Dude, what the fuck, it’s not like I have ear AIDS,” he said, dejectedly.

“No offense to your ears man, but you have terrible taste in music,” I said (that, and they did look a little dingy).

“C’mon man, you start work on Monday and you are going to become exponentially less cool. You’re working for the Man, man. You’re never going to want to do stuff anymore.”

“Jesus man,” I grabbed the earbud, took a deep breath and shoved it in my ear, “It’s not like I’m dying come Monday.”

We were now each listening to half of a Journey song. I’d tell you which one, but they all sound the same to me. I half regretted this decision.

But looking around, it felt good to be out there. We were surrounded by happy, iPod- listening protesters. More and more people started dancing around, and even dancing with each other, everyone listening to something else. Hopefully not Journey.

As far as circles go, Dupont Circle is a good circle, I thought. Some of its obvious attributes: round, grassy, presence of trees, a fountain, and a general feeling that people can do whatever they want. Some of its drawbacks: all those people doing whatever they want. That, and all the fencing. The crazies are pretty self explanatory. The fencing – as a negative – starts to make sense when the 3,000 or so people congregating there all of a sudden need to flee. Why, you ask?

“ZOMBIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” screamed the loudspeaker, as he pointed over the crowd toward New Hampshire Ave. to the south. But no one heard through their earphones. No one else noticed.

My head jerked left where he was pointing, and when my mind caught up with my eyes, I saw a body writhing on the ground and a man crouched over it with red, dripping hands.

There was a terrible scream, “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” and as the man’s head turned toward it, I saw there was blood dripping down his chin. “Ghaauuuccch AAAAAnnllaaahhhh,” and he snapped back to the body on the ground and dug his face into the torso.

But now everyone was looking at me. Me, with both arms pulled into my chest and one leg tucked up like a flamingo. I started to realize that the screech came from me (Yes, I scream like a little girl).

“Dude, you scream like a little girl,” said Dan, chuckling.

I extended one finger toward the vulturesque scene, still mostly paralyzed with fear and slowly mouthed the word “ zom-bies” to the iphonies who were now pointing and laughing at me and the growing wet spot on my pants.

Zombies,” I said again, this time a little louder now that my Adam’s apple had made its way from my lungs and back to my trachea.

“Huh?” said Dan as he turned, yanking the bud from my ear. People where looking at me strangely, and starting to pull out their earphones, so I yelled as loud as I could,

“Mutherfuckin’ ZOMBIES!” as I pointed towards the carnage.

Slowly they turned around, still waiting for the punch line with half-smiles on their faces, but this was no joke.

There, pacing toward us from the south side, were dozens of damp, stumbling, ugly bodies, looking like they had just been dredged from the bottom of the Anacostia.

Lumbering forward, two of them grabbed at some idiot who was still dancing with his eyes closed. “Watch out!!” someone yelled, but he didn’t hear. They attacked him from each side and took him down smothering him as they fell. Once he was on the ground, they tore him asunder with breathtaking speed, guts and blood and bile spewing from the gaping cavern that was quickly replacing his torso…

…Panic, at the Disco…

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