WASHINGTON—The disappearance of a sixth Senate page in less than two months has renewed old fears in the legislative branch, leaving many to wonder if the legendary congressional swamp creature has returned.
On Monday, investigators identified the mysterious creature's latest victim as 17-year-old Molly Denault, a Dayton, OH native and high school junior who was appointed as a fall semester page by Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH). According to police reports, Denault was delivering a stack of legislative materials to the Senate when the amphibious man-beast seized her on the steps of the Capitol building, dragged her across the National Mall by her ankle, and disappeared into the reflecting pool.
Witnesses have identified the 7-foot-tall, lumbering, marsh-dwelling beast as the very same swamp creature that has roamed Capitol Hill for over 200 years.
"After investigating all the evidence, including the trail of kelp leading away from the staircase and the lingering stench of decomposing vegetable matter at the scene, we have concluded at this time that the Congressional swamp thing has indeed come back to feast on the flesh of blonde Senate pages," Metropolitan Police chief Richard Bryant said. "We urge all national-level politicians and their staff to take caution when strolling around the Capitol alone on foggy evenings, and to never, under any circumstances, go skinny-dipping in the Potomac River at night."
In response to the recent spate of attacks, Senate majority leader Harry Reid has implored legislators to set aside partisanship and pass a bill to end the swamp monster's reign of terror. But despite the urgency of the situation, the proposal has been mired in political maneuvering and stalled in committee due to disagreements over the bill's wording.
"We almost passed a funding allocation bill to purchase a flamethrower and burn the hideous half-man, half-salamander alive, until someone attached a $34 million rider for commercial logging in Montana," Reid said while boarding up his office windows. "And now that thing has got another one of ours. It's time to take matters into our own hands and draft an immediate-action resolution with much stronger language."
Added Reid, "Our only hope is that poor Molly has sated its appetite for long enough to pass this amendment to the Procedure and Administration section of Title 26, the Internal Revenue Code."
This is not the first time legislators have found themselves living in terror of the scaly abomination. During Thomas Jefferson's presidency, the 8th U.S. Congress lost nine senators and 21 representatives to the aquatic fiend before it was able to secure enough votes to pass H.R. 243, the Back From Whence It Came proposal. In 1954, Sens. Sam Ervin (D-NC) and Henry Dworshak (R-ID) thought they had finally destroyed the swamp creature for good, after repeatedly stabbing the beast, spraying it with DDT, and dumping its body in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. But after legislators discovered the gruesome remains of the Energy and Water Development subcommittee a few weeks later, Ervin admitted they had probably only aggravated the monster's aquatic wrath.
In June 1998, it struck once more, but congress took no action to avenge the death of its minority whip, due in large part to a stirring speech delivered by the swamp creature on campaign finance reform. And for the past decade, representatives have simply tried to pacify the creature with plenty of fresh squid.
"Our current legislative system is simply ill-equipped to deal with this kind of muck- encrusted menace," said D.C. historian and Georgetown professor William Butler, who recently wrote a book that traces the creature's bloodlust to 1791, when the area's swamplands were drained to make room for the new capital. "President Andrew Jackson came the closest to defeating it when it reared its hideous form during his inauguration. Unfortunately, the creature managed to escape Jackson's headlock and return to its cave underneath the Potomac."
The White House has formally denied the existence of the "barnacle-covered man-thing that roams the Senate halls fortnightly." After this latest disappearance, President Bush gave a press conference in D.C., urging everyone to remain calm and insisting that the violent attacks were likely carried out by a loose jaguar or pack of wolves.
As of press time, the Metropolitan Police force has doubled the number of officers dedicated to patrolling Sen. Ted Stevens office, upon the discovery of conspicuous puddles of saltwater and several tattered navy blue suit sleeves beneath the departing senator's desk.