by Iain Muir
The fluorescent lights did the girl no favours. She
sat huddled at the plain plastic table, drowned by the denim jacket
draped over her shoulders. Her hair was lank, black, caught back in a
ponytail by an elastic band twisted around the hair at the nape of her
neck. Shadows from sharp cheekbones threw the planes of her face into
stark relief. The strap of a cheap k-mart bra was visible through the
gap in the front of the jacket, white against her red-brown skin.
They’d taken her clothes for forensic analysis.
Jeb Mayweather stared through the two-way glass into the interrogation
room. Amy Laughing Deer sat staring at the table, muttering, worrying a
strip of rawhide around and around, like a nun telling the rosary. Jeb
looked over at the other man in the room, taking in the cheap navy blue
suit, white shirt, and thin black tie that practically screamed ‘FBI’.
“What’s she saying?” he asked
“Damned if I know,” said the Fed, “You ever hear of the Code Talkers?
Navajo radio operators used in World War Two. They didn’t encrypt
anything, just spoke to each other in Navajo.”
“Well, gee, thanks, Special Agent… Smith, was it? Or was it Jones?”
“Riiiiiiight. No, I ain’t never heard of the code talkers, seein’ as
how I’m just a no-account sheriff from a small town twenty miles from
the freaking reservation, not an edjicated big city agent of the Eff
Bee Eye. Now, d’ya wanna tell me what you’re doing here? I’ve got a
couple of gruesome deaths and a little girl traumatised by the
slaughter of her family, but I don’t see anything that makes this
“Let’s just say that there are aspects to this case which… intrigued
“Well, be intrigued on yer own time. I’ve got to talk to Amy Laughing
Deer, and you can sit out here and watch.”
* * *
The girl didn’t look up when the door opened. Jeb edged around the
door, followed by a female deputy, a petite blonde woman in her
forties. The dark-skinned sheriff towered at least a foot over her
five-foot frame. They closed the door and took seats across the cheap
plastic table from the girl. Amy ignored them, staring at the table,
muttering, and worrying the piece of leather. The sheriff leaned back
and nodded to the deputy.
“Amy?” she asked softly, reaching out and placing a hand over the
girl’s where they were constantly passing the worn strip of leather
through her fingers. The fingers stopped moving, but the girl did not
look up, nor cease her unintelligible muttering.
“Amy? My name is Claire Daniels. I’m with the Sheriff’s Department. We
need to ask you some questions, honey. I know it’s been a long night,
but if you can just tell us a couple of things about what happened?
About...” she paused, “about your Uncle Joe? And your folks?”
The girl flinched visibly, pulling the oversized denim jacket around
herself, as if for comfort, or protection. She shook her head
violently, an action which spoke of rejection, of denial.
“No!” She muttered, her head whipping back and forth, her eyes focussed
somewhere that wasn't in this plain white room, or behind the mirror
that dominated one wall.
“No, Uncle Joe! Don't hurt them! They didn't do anything!”
Deputy Daniels leaned forward.
“Amy, honey,” she crooned. “Is that what happened? Did your Uncle Joe
hurt your folks?”
“No! No, no, no, no, no, no! It wasn't Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe tried to
stop her. Tried to stop the witch! Tried to stop the yee naaldlooshi,
but it was too strong!” Amy’s lips pulled back from her lips, a feral
movement that might have been a smile, or might have been a snarl.
“It was too strong!” The girl giggled, a bubbling, liquid sound, which
morphed into manic laughter, which sounded too close to sobs for
Daniels looked at her superior, nonplussed. Mayweather leaned forward.
“The what now?” he asked. “Amy, it looked like some kind of animal
attacked your folks. What’s this… gnarled Lucy? And where’s Joe?”
Amy giggled again. She ducked her head, and looked sideways at the
“Gone away,” she chortled, “Ol’ Uncle Joe’s gone away! No more
lectures! No more telling me the Blessing Way is for men, not little
girls! Well, we showed him, didn’t we? We sang our song, and it came,
didn’t it?” She was almost singing now.
“What came, girl? This Lucy thing?”
“Yee naaldlooshi” crooned Amy, “the one who walks on all fours.” She
grinned slyly. “I called… and she came. She came, and everything turned
red. Red, and wet.” Amy’s tongue snaked out, and she licked her lips
“D’you want to see her?” she asked, “I can show her to you, if you
like!” Her smile was a ghastly attempt at coquettishness, more feral
than anything else.
“You can show her to us?” asked Daniels. “Should I get a sketch artist?”
Amy giggled again. “Oh, noooooooo,” she said, “I can show her far
better than that! D’you want to see her?”
Mayweather nodded slowly.
Amy grinned again, and knotted the strip of leather around her waist.
“Oh, and sheriff,” she said, her voice becoming harsh and guttural,
“thank you for giving me back my belt. Uncle Joe tried to take it away,
but you: You. Gave. It. Back!”
Then everything got red. And wet.
© 2014 Iain Muir
Bio: Iain Muir is
the poetry editor for Aphelion-The Webzine of Science Fiction and
E-mail: Iain Muir
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