“He’s headed south,” the woman from Homeland Security said, clicking off her cell phone.
name was Nicole Hulsey. Even swathed in a vest and khaki uniform, she
was blonde and beautiful, impossible to ignore, especially when sitting
next to you in the front seat of a car. But my admiring sideways
glances had to be brief. Negotiating the switchbacks of old Highway 89
through the Cleopatra Hills demanded total concentration. The
occasional roadside memorial of cross and withered flowers showed the
penalty. So did my memories of a dozen—or was it twenty?—crash sites
over the years.
“Miss Hulsey,” I said, “ ‘south’ doesn’t tell me much. In fact, you haven’t actually told me anything useful about this fugitive. Certainly not enough to let me catch him.”
had arrived at the Yavapai County Sheriff Station in Prescott at six
am, waving Homeland Security identification and dropping
incomprehensible acronyms while juggling a cell phone, a BlackBerry and
a shiny laptop. It appeared that she was chasing a fugitive, or so I
heard when I arrived for my shift. “What kind of fugitive?” I asked Dan
Fennessy, my supervisor. “Bank robber? Escaped prisoner? Free-range
He forced a smile, never an easy thing for him. “She hasn’t said.”
found this vagueness to be uncharacteristic; Fennessy was precise,
dogged, quick to snap “bullshit” at fuzzy thinking and vague
phrasing—hence his scorn for those who had what he believed to be soft,
unfocused political views.
“Is he armed?” This was usually an automatic trigger for a download of law enforcement jargon from Fennessy.
“Won’t say and likely don’t know.”
I said, my frustration growing, “if it’s such a big mysterious deal,
where are the Federal marshals?” I nodded to our computer and fax
machine. “Where is the bulletin from Phoenix?”
rejoined us at this point, and my amazement at Fennessy’s
uncharacteristic goofiness vanished: the agent from Homeland Security
turned out to be tall, blonde, rangy and fit, the kind of woman who
could appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated—a beach
volleyball champ, perhaps. Her all-American beauty and exuberance had
overwhelmed Fennessy’s normal rigor; the man was in a stupor.
that I was completely immune. But Fennessy is the station’s alpha
male—good-looking in spite of his years, always charming,
twice-divorced. I’m younger, but not notably easy on the eyes, with a
waistline that suggests (however falsely) domestic bliss . . . and so
stereotypically Latino that, compared to All-Americans like Fennessy
and Hulsey, I might have belonged to a different species.
goddess spoke: “The existence of this fugitive is classified. We don’t
want the incident broadcast, we just want him caught with no noise.”
waited for Fennessy or me to comment; we did not. “These are the only
facts I’m authorized to release: approximately ten days ago, a male
escaped from a Federal facility that was in the process of being
Now Fennessy sat up straight. He was a Tom
Clancy reader, a military junkie. He often bored my ears off with tales
of Titan missile silos around Tucson and the vast swaths of Arizona
that served as Air Force gunnery ranges. “What Federal facility is
within running distance of us?”
Hulsey blinked her long
lashes, clearly not wanting to give up even this much hard data. “Table
Mesa Research Station, up near Sycamore Point.”
“Table Mesa.” Now I couldn’t help laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Hulsey said.
Spanish they mean the same thing. ‘Table Table.’ ” Hulsey actually
blushed. Probably hated to be one-upped by a rural deputy sheriff.
Especially a fat, Latino deputy sheriff.
“Either way,” Fennessy grumbled, “I’ve never heard of it.”
Hulsey’s BlackBerry twittered at her. She moved off to let her fingers talk, leaving us alone.
“You don’t suppose they’re parking Al-Qaeda out here,” Fennessy said. “Could this ‘Table Mesa’ be some kind of Gitmo?”
I hadn’t considered that. Maybe I am too trusting. “Here?”
yeah! My old man came to Arizona during World War II to do guard duty!
There was a big German prisoner-of-war camp down at Papago Park. They
also had a bunch of Japanese diplomats stashed outside Tucson.”
“I never knew.”
too young, Sandoval.” He offered that strained smile again. “Twelve
years in the department, and you still have so much to learn.” Bubbling
under this benign bit of teasing was something more ominous: the
department was facing cutbacks, and I was facing a review.
returned, this time with a hurry-up-and-go attitude. “Our last
confirmed sighting was in Jerome two days ago. We have a report that
puts him here.” She opened the laptop, displaying an overhead satellite
picture of Yavapai County.
She used her touchpad to
illuminate a string of dots which marked a rough trail from the
northwest, down the Verde River Valley, up and over Jerome, through the
mountains and across Prescott Valley to the west and south.
“How come there are so many dots at the start of the line, and none past Jerome?” I asked.
“You had this guy tagged, didn’t you?” Fennessy said.
frowned, and pulled a plastic baggie out of her pocket. In it was what
looked like dried-up contact lens crusted with blood. “We picked this
up last night at the mouth of a mine there.”
barked a laugh. “Shit, lady, if he’s got into those mines, you could
look for years and never find him.” Jerome was a former copper town
built on the side of a mountain. Most of its mines had played out fifty
years ago, but the shafts still honeycombed the place. I should know:
as a kid, I used to play in them.
“Fortunately, we have a sighting from Prescott Valley the day after he . . . carved this out of his arm.”
looked at Fennessy. “Is this guy pulling our robberies?” There had been
a series of odd little break-ins and thefts clustered along the north
side of Prescott Valley, the big development north of the city proper.
Nothing major had been taken—just clothing, food, and, inexplicably,
toys. My job for the day was to have been follow-up.
Fennessy was still entranced by Hulsey and her many devices. He was
drawing his finger in a straight line from Jerome through Prescott
Valley. “If this guy’s on foot, call it twenty-five miles a day, where
would he be now. . . ?”
We came to the same conclusion. “Skull Valley.”
Hulsey’s phone got her again. Before she answered it, I told her I would bring a vehicle around to the front door.
As I headed down the hall to my ride, Fennessy winked. “Remember, Sandoval, if he does turn out to be a Democrat . . . shoot to kill.”
Valley was a rural community of a few hundred ranchers and retirees,
too far from downtown for convenient development . . . so far. It was
wooded, bordered by mountains, and served as a pathway to the desolate
reaches of western Arizona.
It would be a perfect outlaw hideout—and had been for a hundred and fifty years.
who is this guy?” I said, as we headed down into the valley itself.
“All I know is the word ‘fugitive.’ Is he old or young? Armed?
Dangerous?” I indicated the laptop. “You wouldn’t happen to have a
picture, would you?”
She looked out the window, clearly
taxed by these basic questions. “Young,” she said finally, as if
offering a gift. “Unarmed and not familiar with weapons.”
“Please don’t make me feel as though I’m buying vowels on Wheel of Fortune. Give me an age or I can turn the car around.”
was useful, if only to lower the chance that the fugitive was some kind
of terrorist. Not that there aren’t teenaged suicide bombers—but I
found it unlikely that a 17-year-old would be an international bad-ass
worthy of confinement at this Table Mesa facility.
“Does he have a criminal record?”
She was losing patience, or so I assumed, when she exhaled as if she’d
just finished a hundred-yard sprint, then brushed back her hair. “Look,
if this were up to me, I’d simply give you the file. But this was
classified far above me. I’ll lose my job and career if it’s
“You mean, further compromised.” I smiled.
“Yes.” Strangely, she wasn’t amused.
thought occurred to me . . . dumb, but I couldn’t help asking. “He
isn’t some kind of extra-terrestrial, is he? Is Table Mesa where we
keep the frozen aliens?”
She actually laughed out loud. “I wish! An E.T. would be easier to explain!”
with that much data, I pulled off at the intersection of 89A and Sharps
Road, a location that was as close to a chokepoint as you could find on
this route through Skull Valley. There was an antique store—still
closed at this hour—and a rutted parking lot.
south lay low hills and fairly rugged terrain. To the north, flat ranch
land, still home to cattle. “Come on,” I said, climbing out of the
ride, making sure Hulsey had a hat and carried a water bottle. With her
milky complexion, it was obvious she hadn’t been working in Arizona for
I started us walking north, figuring that was Fugitive’s likely route from his last known location.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Hulsey said, following with obvious ill grace. “This is it? One deputy is supposed to find my fugitive in a hundred square miles?”
isn’t television,” I said. “If you’re thinking the local sheriff is
somehow going to ‘seal off’ a hundred miles, you’re dreaming. Ten
thousand Border Patrol and National Guards can’t seal off a few hundred
miles of fence. Up here we don’t have the personnel to do more than
throw up three or four roadblocks at a given time. Hell, we have a
tough enough time finding a dead body in field. A moving target that
doesn’t want to be caught is much tougher. And by the way, we’re
talking more like five-hundred square miles.”
realized I sounded nasty. “All we’re looking for is evidence, a sign.
Another data point. Once we have some kind of projected path, then we
rustle up a posse.”
Three hours passed, in which Hulsey
and I worked a search pattern sometimes as much as a hundred yards
apart. When we happened to pass, we talked. That is, I talked. By the
time the sun was high enough to blister, and the sky bright enough to
blind, Hulsey knew I was thirty-four, that I was separated, that I had
two children. What did I think of the current craziness over the
illegal invasion? “I wish all you late-comers would have to pass
tests,” I said. “My family name is Sandoval, but my heritage is Hopi.
We were here before the Spanish.”
We found cattle and
the attendant cattle pies. We saw rabbits, a hunting hawk, dozens of
examples of Arizona flora that I, as a native, can still not identify.
Beer cans, broken glass, a very new bra and a very old sneaker.
But no blood, no fresh footprints. “What would he be wearing?” I shouted to Hulsey at one point.
“He was wearing sandals when he escaped.”
Which, given the thefts of clothing from P.V., meant he could be wearing boots, sneakers, or high-heeled pumps by now.
could have looked all day. We could have looked all of several days,
but shortly before ten am my radio squawked with a message from
dispatch: a Skull Valley resident named Elizabeth McKenna reported a
prowler, description to come. She had apparently frightened him off by
banging pots and pans and shouting. (Her age was given as sixty-eight
and her husband was away golfing.) She had also found something so
disturbing she wouldn’t talk about it on the phone.
“This could be your fugitive,” I said, as Hulsey and I humped it back to the ride.
“God, I hope so.”
The only thing that troubled me was this: I had chosen to search at what should have been the outside of a box representing the maximum distance a human being could walk in eleven hours, the time of the last confirmed sighting.
McKenna residence in Skull Valley was another fifteen miles down the
road. Whoever or whatever this fugitive was, he could cover ground.
sure he was another illegal,” Elizabeth McKenna said, with real anger
in her voice, and a frown on her face. She was an otherwise pleasant,
gray-haired woman in shorts and a polo shirt, leading us through her
west pasture to this “disturbing sight.” “They’re always going through
here. Why can’t you stop them?”
What’s amusing to me is
how a uniform trumps ethnic identity: had Mrs. McKenna seen me in
civilian clothing, she’d never have raised the subject, much less used
that tone of voice. I suppose I should be grateful.
opened my mouth to reply, but Hulsey said, “Ma’am, ten thousand border
patrol and National Guards can’t block a few hundred miles of fence.
There aren’t enough deputies in the department to seal off this area.”
Hulsey threw me a smug look behind Mrs. McKenna’s back.
nodded an acknowledgement . . . even as I was struck by Hulsey’s
strange posture. Her feet were arranged like a ballerina’s. “Ah, you
and your husband don’t have horses,” I said, noting the dry,
horse-apple-free state of the corral, the rusted nature of the fencing.
“No, that was the previous owners. But . . . well, here’s what I want to show you.”
Hulsey lingered a step behind—picking something up? I couldn’t tell—we
rounded an out-building and almost stumbled on a bloody carcass. It was
easily identifiable as a calf—torn apart, half-skinned. I didn’t need
to get closer to identify the remains.
what I found,” Mrs. McKenna said. “I saw this man in the corral and
started yelling at him. I don’t know why, but I took my skillet and
came out here, and there it was. What kind of . . . primitive being
does that to a poor little cow?”
I was about to say, anyone who buys a hamburger or bites into a steak,
but I was too busy looking at Nicole Hulsey again. If possible, she was
even paler than before. “Thank you for reporting this, ma’am,” I said,
using my most soothing, professional voice. I could see fresh tracks
leading into the brush to the west. “Nicole, why don’t you stay with
Mrs. McKenna while I check this out?”
Hulsey had pretended to be a deputy; now she pretty much had to keep up the charade.
ground was dry, hard-packed, but I could make out the ridges of fresh
bootprints, as well as spots of blood. I could picture our fugitive
running along, chewing on a raw, bloody haunch. I wondered how hungry
you would have to be to eat a cow like that.
And how strong you would have to be to wrestle one from a nearby pasture to this place.
The McKenna ranch abutted another property, this one abandoned, wedged against a wooded hillside and bordered by a barranca.
There was one surviving building, a grayed horse barn open to the sky on three sides. The tracks led toward it—
was Hulsey calling from behind me. I turned left, toward her, away from
the barn, just in time to see a man standing in the shadow of the
Well, not a man—he was too short, too thick through the chest. Not a dwarf, but stooped.
He saw me, too, and he honest-to-God shuffled sideways as he tried to hide.
an instant, his face entered the light. He blinked, as if he’d been in
darkness. He was the closest thing to an ape I’d ever seen: heavy brow,
super strong jaw, big, square teeth in a mouth that was human even
though smeared with blood.
But the eyes were those of a young human, and they were wide with fear.
only drawn my weapon a dozen times in that many years as a deputy. Part
of the reason is luck, part of it is the reality of being a sheriff’s
deputy in central Arizona, where most arrests are disorderly drunks,
battering husbands (and, occasionally, wives), and amateur pharmacists.
But I am officially death on the target range: I reached for the Glock, shouting, “Hold it!”
he didn’t understand, or, more likely, ignored me. He crashed through
the brush, down and through the barranca, then up and over the slope,
out of sight.
“Hulsey, on me!” I shouted, and tried to
follow. But within a few steps, I was slipping on sharp rocks, hindered
by thick brush. I was lucky I didn’t go face first into the barranca.
Hulsey’s gear was her enemy, too, slowing her down as she tried to reach me. “Boy, this guy is fast!”
“Sandoval, he’s getting away!”
not going to catch him from behind.” I was out of breath, but I’d
already started back toward Mrs. McKenna. “This hill gets steeper and
rougher. If we drive around it, we’ll catch him coming out the other
“Do you think it’s time we called for backup?”
I ignored this. “Mrs. McKenna! Thank you for your report. We’re in full pursuit!”
And I kept right on going, letting Hulsey catch up if she could.
moment we were back inside the vehicle, I gunned it away from the
McKenna place and back to the road. I drove due west, paralleling the
fugitive’s line of escape, knowing that five miles ahead I could turn
But I was so angry I was shaking. I pulled over, kicking up a spray of dust and pebbles. “What’s the matter now?” Hulsey said.
“I’m not going any further and I’m not making any report until you tell me what the hell is going on here. What was that?”
“Don’t do this to me,” she said. She sounded about sixteen.
not the issue here! We’ve got some kind of . . . two-legged carnivore
running around loose! How am I supposed to catch him if I don’t know
anything about him? What the hell were you guys doing at Table Mesa?”
She put her hand to her forehead, rubbing it. “Start the car.”
took that as a gesture of surrender. But we had to travel a quarter of
a mile before Hulsey could force herself to break security. “Did you
ever read The Lord of the Rings?”
“I saw the movies.”
answer seemed inadequate, somehow. “Well, the whole history of the
story is that Tolkien, who was a professor at Oxford, used myths to
sort of reverse-engineer a time fifty thousand years in the past, when
several different human races co-existed.
the stories that people have told for the past five, ten thousand
years—stories about giants and trolls and ogres, and tried to imagine
what would have inspired them.”
“And he came up with . . . giants, trolls, and ogres.”
“He wondered if giants, trolls, and ogres might not be how modern humans saw other hominids.”
“You mean, like Neanderthals? Or those little people in Java?”
I felt like a first-grader who had finally mastered the alphabet. “And
a fourth distinct type that co-existed with both in the Middle East for
several millennia. There may have been dozens of races. Even the Book
of Genesis talks about it: ‘There were giants in the Earth in those
“Fascinating.” I had turned south and was
trying to keep my eye on the dirt road while watching the brush for the
fugitive. “What does this have to do with Table Mesa and the
“Twenty years ago, a government agency
that should probably stay nameless tried to do what Tolkien did—with
genetic engineering. They took scraps of ancient DNA and injected it
into an existing human genotype, which was carried to term by a female
gorilla. The calf-killer, whose name, by the way, is Kip, is one of the
“You altered a human fetus? Is that even legal?”
I slowed down as the road dipped for a wash . . . the shallow end of the barranca I’d almost fallen into five miles to the east.
“I have no idea,” Hulsey said. “I had nothing to do with the original decision. I was in grade school.”
“What are you, by the way? Because I’m guessing you’re not really with ‘Homeland Security.’“
“What was your first clue?” she snapped. “I’m on loan from the State Department.’ ”
“You’re not even a scientist?”
long gone, believe me.” She made an exasperated face. “It could have
been worse: most of the people at T.M. are from the Government
“That’s the nastiest thing I’ve ever heard! Born and raised in a camp? Mom’s an ape! No wonder he ran away.”
“Don’t get too judgmental. These aren’t people. They’re simply smarter gorillas. Their kind died out thirty thousand years ago because they couldn’t cut it.”
“Then why re-engineer them in the first place?”
was looking for soldiers, I think.” Or guest workers, I thought. “They
used a forty-thousand-year-old trace of DNA from some skull dug up in
I couldn’t help laughing. “So this Kip really is a cave man?”
“How did this guy get loose?”
“How else? The program lost its funding. Zeroed out. Somebody got careless and Kip ran away.”
“Just like that.”
a powerful Senator with Creationist leanings finds out you’re dicking
around with evolution and Darwinism, he can take your money away.”
“What about the subjects? When the money goes away, what happens to them?”
face literally turned red. “The options were brutal. Turn them loose .
. . or terminate them. You asked what I am? I’m a re-settlement
specialist. I help political refugees and former agents make the
transition to life in the U.S. of A.”
Okay. But it still wasn’t enough to make me like Nicole Hulsey.
called in a sanitized version of the story: fugitive sighted, deputy in
pursuit, no immediate danger to the citizens of Skull Valley. But I
didn’t feel good about it. I wanted help. I wanted Fennessy’s moral
clarity in this very cloudy situation. But I had a review coming up. If
I couldn’t prove I could operate without having my hand held today,
We skirted the ragged edge of the barranca.
The terrain on our side was flat, studded with brush. The terrain
beyond was rugged, a steep hillside covered with trees. A good hiding
“So what was the plan?” I asked Hulsey. “After
you prove you can breed a Neanderthal, you cook up a bride? Raise a
whole litter in captivity?”
“I guess so.” She was having second thoughts about telling me anything. Tough, I thought.
“And your resettlement plan?”
She sighed. “We had a family in Oregon—retired anthropologist—who offered to give Kip a place to live.”
turned down my radio and motioned for Hulsey to be still. When it comes
to tracking, ears are almost as good as eyes, especially when sight
lines are blocked by thick brush. The arrangement of hills along the
barranca formed a natural amphitheater—I had thought I heard a distant
But if I did, it was gone in the jingling of
Hulsey’s cell phone. “Goddammit!” she said. She started walking away,
making me wonder why she needed privacy.
communicated with her mysterious colleagues, I climbed to the bottom of
the barranca—where I was assaulted by a smell so unusual that I almost
sneezed. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t perfume, either.
Then it was gone, like a puff of smoke. But I felt I had a direction.
When Hulsey appeared above me, I shouted, “This way,” and pointed east through the twisty creek bed.
Hulsey managed to catch up within a few yards. “Does Kip understand fire?” I asked, already starting to pant from the exertion.
“Yeah. Whether his ancestors did, I couldn’t tell you. I’m not an anthropologist.”
I was relieved to note that she was looking winded, too. “Hey, aren’t you going to ask me who was on the phone?”
I’m just amazed you got service out here.” I smiled. “If I’m cashing in
another truth-or-dare card, I’d rather know what you picked up back at
the McKenna ranch.”
Hulsey actually blushed. “Okay.” She pulled what looked like an arrowhead out of her pocket, only bigger, and bloodied.
“Is that a Clovis point?”
For the first time in our brief, contentious relationship, Hulsey seemed impressed. “Yes! A shot in the dark?”
“I spent two years as an archaeology major, U of A in Tucson.”
“Gave it up?”
“Got my girlfriend pregnant. Very stereotypical, I’m sure—”
I stopped: there was a huge dead oak across the barranca and no way under it. I sniffed. There was the smell again.
started climbing up the far bank, leading into the hills. “Kip
shouldn’t know a Clovis point,” Hulsey said. “They weren’t invented
until his people had been extinct for twenty thousand years.”
“Well, they didn’t have the advantage of being raised in a modern prison camp with knives and forks.”
She didn’t answer, too busy struggling to the top. “What’s that?” she said, sniffing.
took us fifteen minutes to ascend the hill. As we did, the brush gave
way to pine trees. And there, hidden away fifty yards above me, was a
cabin of stone and logs. I signaled for quiet, and pointed. Hulsey’s
eyes went wide, thinking, as I did, that we had Kip cornered.
As quietly as I could, I said, “Does he speak English?”
“He seems to be mute. But he understands. If you tell him to freeze, he should get the message.”
He hadn’t the first time, but there was no use arguing the point.
through the woods, I started to feel like an ancient hominid—living in
a cave, eating what you found or hunted, fighting with creatures that
looked like you, but had strange new weapons. Of course, my Hopi
great-great-grandparents had lived that way, a few hundred miles from
here, and only a hundred and fifty years ago.
up the slope, making enough noise to spook an elephant herd. When my
boots hit level ground, I drew the Glock, took a breath— “Sheriff! Come
No answer from the shack. I glanced back to see Hulsey lurking in the pines, then nudged the door open with my knee.
place was dark, dusty, with a dirt floor. The first sign of recent
habitation was a collection of torn wrappers from what must have been a
box of Milky Way bars.
And toys! A doll. A See-and-Say. Colored squishy things suitable for a one-year-old.
had also broken a bunch of sticks, probably to start a fire. There were
coals in the fireplace. Long pieces of string or thin rope coiled
beneath markings on the wall—blood?
Otherwise the cabin was empty . . . except for two distinct sets of tracks leading out.
“Well,” I said as Hulsey joined me, “Kip isn’t here. And he isn’t alone.”
“That’s what the phone call was about.”
“I didn’t lie! He wasn’t the only one. I kept saying ‘them’, didn’t I?”
“You’re not in court, you don’t need to play games with language.”
stopped, clearly furious. “Fine. Yes. The project raised eleven . . .
subjects. Six male, five female. Kip was the oldest at seventeen. One
of the females was a year younger. I didn’t know until that phone call
that she’d escaped, too.”
We were following the twin
tracks, climbing deeper into what was now a pine forest. To the right,
between the trees, I could see flashes of Skull Valley. To the left,
more trees and hillside.
I stopped long enough to use
the radio, telling dispatch that Homeland Security and I were in
pursuit, capture of two fugitives expected shortly. I wasn’t
exaggerating by much—the trail was fresh and so was the unique smell,
which I now realized was a mixture of blood and hominid sweat. The
terrain would only get rougher, and our escaped Neanderthal and his
sweetie would be forced to slow down.
“Does she have a name?” I said, between breaths.
“It’s hard to think of them as animals when you call them Kip and Debbie, don’t you think, Nicole?”
don’t think of them as animals. I’ve spent the last two months trying
to get them fake I.D.s and creating backgrounds, just in case anyone
“But you’re carrying a gun.” Her vest had
fallen open and I could see a Glock like mine holstered there. “In case
of re-settlement failure, unholster and use as directed?”
shot me a look I frankly didn’t like. “Let me guess,” I said, pressing
her. “If these two happen to be shot while trying to escape, it will be
two loose ends all tied up.”
Hulsey didn’t even try to deny it.
Still no signs of movement. But I felt we were close. And I thought about the end game—suppose they fought? Suppose I
had to shoot one? If we needed assistance of any kind—medical or plain
old muscle—how long before Fennessy and help could reach us? We were a
good fifteen miles from the station . . . Yavapai County Medical had a
helicopter, but the sheriff didn’t. Anybody trying to reach us would
have to park below and hike up.
Then I thought about
Kip and Debbie. What was it like to grow up in a camp . . . treated
like humans only when it was convenient? They had been given some
language, had seen weapons, had no doubt been abused at times, and, I
could only hope, received some acts of kindness.
What did they see? What did they think? What did they want?
Surely not to be shipped off to a farm in Oregon, to rope dogies or
bale hay or whatever the hell people did there, while waiting for death?
How long did Neanderthals live, anyway?
would Fennessy and my other bosses do to me, since there was no way I
would be cleared to tell what I knew: the best I could hope for was a
pat on the back for “helping Homeland Security” in whatever it was they
Suddenly Hulsey bolted ahead. “What are you doing?”
poked the air in front of her as she stumbled into a higher gear. With
her radio and other gear, she clattered like a skeleton making love on
a tin roof.
And then she pulled that gun out of her vest.
I was too busy trying to catch up to complain.
She stopped, pointing into the shadows. “There!”
“Hulsey, get down—!”
She was actually sighting the weapon as—zip!—an arrow appeared in Hulsey’s neck.
most surprised person on earth, Hulsey reached for the ends of the
arrow—one was slick with blood—as she choked and stumbled.
I caught her just as Kip showed himself.
in jeans and a heavy down jacket, he looked much like men I had seen on
the res—or in downtown Prescott. Thicker, maybe, hairier, but human. Especially his eyes.
he held the bow on me. Kneeling at Hulsey’s side, I aimed my gun at
him. “I’ll shoot,” I said, hoping Hulsey had told the truth about Kip’s
Blood was pumping from Hulsey’s neck. “Kill them!” she wheezed.
woman looked a lot like Kip . . . smaller, in jeans and a man’s shirt.
Did they deserve to be hunted, killed, their skulls left for research?
Or to bleach a hillside here?
Hulsey uttered a fatal
sigh, blood bubbling from her lips. I’ve not seen a lot of death, but I
knew this woman was gone. I wanted to scream at her. You raised this boy in a camp! What did you expect him to do?
thought of my family—how they had foraged and farmed in Arizona for ten
thousand years, only to be pushed aside by the Spanish. And then the
Spanish became the Mexicans, and they were pushed aside by the Anglos.
And now the Anglos were worried that the Mexicans were coming back.
we all deserve a chance for a little peace? Didn’t these two? They
could disappear into the forest and likely never be found—
I turned to Kip. “Run.”