Chapter 39 ~ nosex
Junior knocked on Sam and Mary's door, waited a moment, then opened it. The room was dark, "Mary, Sam." No response. A little louder, "Mary, Sam."
The girls suddenly sat up, "What is it?"
"It's starting soon. Get Erin," Junior responded.
It took them a moment to realize what was starting soon.... and then they both popped out of bed and put on the robes over their sweat pants and t-shirts. Mary went to get Erin, she opened her eyes immediately and smiled at her in the light of the bathroom in spite of it being 3:30 am. "Come on, sweetheart," Mary said to Erin softly. "It is starting."
Erin's expression didn't change, but she took Mary's hand and let herself be led out of bed, let Mary put her robe around her shoulders, and followed her to the kitchen.
The kitchen was somber, reflecting the quiet hour. Junior stood leaning against the kitchen counters, Martha putting on more coffee, the current big pot was empty. There was a large device on the end of the table, the chatter emanating from it suggested it was a radio.
Mary looked at her Dad, who nodded at the chairs at the end of the table, suggesting they sit. Sam, Mary, and Erin did. Mary looked around, there was one FBI tech that she'd seen around, but he was taping down wires from the radio to the hardwood floor so no one would trip over them and trying to stay out of the way. There was a woman with a walkie talkie, she spoke something into it when she saw the girls come to the kitchen but Mary couldn't make it out. But one figure surprised her... she didn't know how she managed to miss the old Native American sitting at the table. He face was like a river valley canyon, his iron gray hair pulled straight back from his temples. He had a covering of some sort of leather draped over his shoulders, and his eyes examined Mary back... until they fell on Erin. His gaze found the blonde haired girl, and never broke from her. Junior stood leaned back against the counter, arms folded over his chest, watching him watching her.
"At'eed joogaal bii na'iidzeel," the old Navajo said softly.
"She does," Junior answered.
The old Native nodded once.
"Mary, Sam, Erin, please allow me to introduce Resting Bear, the Chief out at the res," Junior said to the ladies.
"I am pleased to meet you, sir," Sam answered.
"Me too," Mary said with a smile.
The old chief gave the ladies a subdued smile.
Erin just held his steely gaze. Not smiling, not frowning.
Over the radio Mary heard various strange things, "Eyeball-2 up, comms confirmed, holding," following by someone else answering, "Roger." "Columbus overwatch in place, obstruction removed, over." "Roger." Mary thought she heard a familiar voice, "Magic kingdom in position and holding, over." "Roger." Sometimes the voices spoke over each other, Mary was amazed they could keep it all straight.
Finally, she heard a voice she definitely recognized, it was that FBI guy Martin Lang. "Clear channel," he said, and there was silence. He continued, "Readiness check, stand by." After another moment, "Olympia, report."
"Olympia go, over."
"Sacramento?" Lang's voice asked.
"Sacramento go, control."
On and on it went.
At the end Lang's voice asked, "Compound, status?"
Mary definitely recognized Pete Rollins's accent, this time. "Compound go. All teams standing by. Golf Team in place, waiting for the word."
There was a long pause. Finally Lang's voice came over the radio one more time, "Golf Team go. Blackout begins in three minutes.... mark. All other teams advance in 10 minutes. Operation: Echo Bravo is active. Local commanders, you have the ball. God speed. Get it done."
Mary looked at Erin, the quiet girl was staring at the radio.
There was no moon tonight, it made things easier for Golf Team. From high overhead one of the drones silently circling the compound viewed 20 human heat signatures approach the compound from out of the cornfields, from every direction. They were swift. On the ground, nothing living was aware of their presence as they passed by silently, just another shadow among shadows. They approached the compound avoiding the random pools of light from various overhead lamps when they could, shooting out the bulbs with slings and small stones when they couldn't. They went unerringly to their assigned infiltration points and slipped inside.
Many years ago when Junior was not much more than a child, he met his first Navajo. He'd often spend the nights out in the desert to get away from his brothers who very much enjoyed picking on him when he was trying to sleep, so when his brothers were being particularly ornery he often ran out if one of the herds was near and would sleep on the back of one of the mares, as she slept. He was compact, it wasn't too difficult. The stallions would keep away any dangerous animals, since he slept without a fire.
But one night he sensed something, and found himself instantly awake. On his stomach, splayed out across both sides of a mare's warm back, he slowly raised his head and looked around, sensing to stay low, be as still as he could. Then he saw it, a shadow barely there. He couldn't really see what was casting the shadow as it moved among the horses. He was surprised the stallions were not giving the alarm, they always did if coyotes or a rattler got too near the mares. But whatever this was... it didn't disturb the stallions.
That made Junior very curious.
He saw the shadow move among the 50 or so horses in this smallish group, pausing at this one, or that one, placing its hand on a flank, leaving a red hand print, proving he had been there. And then the shadow moved away, back toward the river. Junior slipped off the horse.... thought about it.... and removed his boots. He could be more quiet that way. He followed this shadow staying as far back as he could, but trying to stay in sight.... but this shadow was swift, and Junior really had to work at it.
It seemed like they'd been going for miles, Junior just barely keeping whatever it was in sight as it slipped over a rock, or around an outcropping, briefly illuminated as a black silhouette against the dark blue night sky. Finally, Junior realized the shadow was heading for the edge of the ranch, to the four mile stretch that bordered the Navajo Indian Reservation.
That sort of made sense to Junior. He and his brothers were told by their father to not cross over onto their land, but there was no active animosity between their family and the Indians, they were just to respect the fences, as it were. Their father would sometimes try to scare them that the Ghost Warriors were always watching, and if they didn't.... finish their peas.... go to bed... stop giving their mother a hard time... whatever threat had to be issued, it was to say that the Ghost Warriors were watching, and they punished bad boys.
As Junior chased this strange shadow into the Navajo reservation, he had no idea he himself had been observed and followed by a larger shadow since he had woken up on the back of a horse.
Junior followed the shadow another mile... maybe two, he wasn't sure.... his daddy had taught him that distances are deceiving in the darkness. He heard the drums before he could see the glow of the fire, concealed by a large ravine just barely too small to be called a canyon. He didn't know where anything was on the reservation, but it seemed like he was witnessing some sort of Indian war party out in the middle of the desert. Hiding behind a clump of grasses he hunkered down, the shadow he had been chasing... as it stood in front of the fire.... taking the shape of a tall boy. A man, maybe. But slight. Others were dancing around the fire and chanting one of those Indian songs he'd heard about, shaking spears in the air, others pounding the beat on drums off to the side.
Junior was starting to get excited about this... his brothers would be so jealous when he told them what he saw... when suddenly he was grabbed by the back of the shirt and lifted bodily from the ground. Placed on his feet he turned.... and saw the tallest, leanest man he'd ever seen, and he seemed to be covered head to toe in pitch black paint where he wasn't covered by hide. The man had black hair pulled back, and feathers hung near his face. He pointed toward the fire, "Walk," he grunted.
Junior swallowed hard, and walked.
When he was noticed approaching the fire, the drums and dancing stopped, and all eyes turned toward him. He tried to stop, suddenly scared, but the stone wall behind kept him moving forward.
A man who had been standing before the shadow looked over Junior's shoulder, and he spoke the Indian language, Junior didn't understand it. The man behind him answered in the same language, but then said something in halting English, "Laughing Fox walked in the dream and the horses were not aware, but this white cub was and tracked him back."
The old man in front of him looked down at him, considering. Then he spoke to the group, raising his arms and his voice. Whatever he said it really seemed to bother everyone, including Junior's mysterious and fleet shadow. There was hollering and shouts that Junior didn't understand.
Then the shadow approached Junior, he saw the shadow was about as old as his middle brother, 14. The boy got in Junior's face. "Even a white man can get lucky, let me fight him and show you I am worthy to be a Ghost Warrior. Even if he can track it doesn't mean he can fight."
Junior suddenly realized this wasn't a game. "Whoa whoa whoa," he said, putting both of his hands toward the angry young man. "I just wondered what was in the horses, I didn't mean to be starting no fights."
The man who had grabbed him in the grasses spoke, "Laughing Fox was being tested to see if he could dream walk among the horses without being seen. He did, but because of you he failed and he is angry. He wishes to challenge you in the Navajo way."
Junior asked, "What's the Navajo way?"
"He wants to wrestle you," another voice came from the one of those playing the drums.
The older man standing before Junior just nodded.
Junior thought about it, well, I rassle my big brothers all the time, how hard could this be? He held out his hand to his opponent, he and his brothers always shook hands before they tussled to show no hard feelings. The Indian boy looked at his hand, grabbed it, and threw him.
Before it was over it got dirty, when the Indian boy couldn't quickly dispatch the white interloper, and couldn't seem to outlast him, he decided to try and trick him. A handful of sand to Junior's eyes seemed to be turning the tables, even though that tactic caused some grumbling among those watching in a circle around them. When Junior was turning in circles blindly holding his eyes, Indian boy got cocky, coming in close to tap his enemy and pull away, counting his coup.
Junior had heard of that, and heard his opponent taunting him as he touched him. One time, another. Junior now took a guess where the third time would be, made a hard fist and swung as hard as he could, and found the jaw of the Indian boy. He went down.
His tears were flushing the sand from his eyes and he opened them and cleared him, and the Indian boy was screaming as he jumped up and rushed at Junior... but one of the braves stopped him, kept him away.
The old man stepped between them, said something in his language. The man who'd found Junior translated, "Tall Bear says that Laughing Fox appears to have found a white wolf cub to fight," and the others chuckled at that.
The old man spoke again, and again the man translated. "Tall Bear says Laughing Fox's test was not fair, they did not know the horse herd was guarded. He will be given another test. That was my fault," the tall man told Junior. "I did not notice you either as I watched Laughing Fox. You are clever."
Junior was brushing the dust from his clothes... "Thanks mister, I guess."
The old man said something again.
The man translated. "He says no white man has ever witnessed the Ghost Warrior ceremony. You will have to be killed."
Junior looked up at the tall man, then looked at the old man before him. He looked close, and he saw the gleam in his eye. "Awww shucks," Junior said. "My pa is going to whoop my backside if I miss my chores in the morning cuz I got kilt," and he winked at the old Indian.
Suddenly everyone there laughed, even the boy he had fought seemed to be less angry.
"Say, I'm Junior Donner. Pleased ta meetcha," he said, holding out his hand to the tall man who'd found him.
"I am called Resting Bear, in this place," he said, gesturing to the fire, or the general place they were at, or the res.... Junior didn't know. But he took Junior's offered hand, and Junior looked the tall Navajo in the eye and made his shake firm, just like his Pa had taught him.
Junior earned the respect of the Navajo that night, and the boy he had fought eventually became a good friend. Junior tried but was never able to achieve what the Navajo called "Dream Walking," putting himself into a state where most animals could not see him, and he never officially passed the Ghost Warrior tests. They were, however, impressed by his ability to communicate with horses, and he was assured that it was a very rare talent. But when he came of age he was given a tattoo on the inside of his arm, that of a small horse and a hand. It would forever identify him as a Friend of the Navajo Nation.
Over 40 years later he found himself standing before the tribal elders on the reservation in an old community center that doubled as a counsel lodge, every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month. He'd asked for a special audience though, and by the time he and his guests arrived a few hours later the counsel was ready for them.
Junior walked in with Texas Ranger Pete Rollins, in uniform. There were murmurings from the 6-man, 1-woman counsel when his uniform was visible. After him was Martin Lang in his suit.
"Elders of the counsel, thank you for hearing me," Junior said to them. "I have brought men who have something to ask of you. I ask that you hear them."
Pete hesitated, the Texas Rangers were not beloved among the native Americans in Texas. There was just too much history with those Rangers who had come before, and he didn't blame the Natives one damned bit for their animosity, personally. He hesitated long enough that Martin stepped forward.
"Lady and gentlemen of the.... of this counsel," he stumbled as he went along. "I am Martin Lang, Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations from Washington DC."
The woman on the counsel interrupted him, "Just get to the point, what does the United States want to take from us this time?"
Lang looked her in the eye, and then the entire counsel. "Frankly," he said, "Your warriors."
Officially, the Ghost Warriors did not exist. The counsel assured them of that, and mocked them for believing they did. The Ghost Warriors certainly did not dispense justice when the tribal police would not or could not. They certainly did not move off the res chasing down those who needed to be caught. The Ghost Warriors were a myth perpetuated by the white man to scare their children.
Junior just stood aside, patiently, but he had to smile when he heard that last part.
Lang knew he was taking the heat for every treaty the United States ever broke with the natives, so he was pleased when Rollins stepped forward.
"Listen," the Texas Ranger said. "I know there is bad blood here, generations of it. But the fact is, there are children in a bad place and we don't know how to get them out safely. Junior tells me there is a way, and we're now here. Is there any way we can put the past aside, if just for a moment? We need to get those kids."
There was resistance, and he made his case the best he could, telling them the entire situation... the torture, and abuse, but there was just too much resentment and mistrust.
Junior had decided the government officials had taken this as far as they could. He stepped forward.
"Elders, I ask you hear me," he said to them, and then he had their eyes. "I ask you to not tell me deceptions." He rolled up his sleeve, showed his old tattoo. "I know better. Save the stories for those you know you are your enemies, not me." Junior looked left and right, at all of them. "I know better than most that you have every reason to distrust these men in front of you, so I am asking you to trust me, not them. There are children that need help, and I think the Navajo are the only ones who can save them. We're going to try to help them whether you are there or not, but I promise you... every child that is hurt is on you. I'm here telling you how it is. If you send us away, then you live with it."
Finally, the ancient man in the middle of the counsel, three on his left, three on his right, spoke in his native tongue. Junior waited for him to finish, then nodded deeply at him. "Come," he said to Pete and Martin, nudging them for the door. "Resting Bear asks us to leave so they can talk."
So it became the Navajo Ghost Warriors, Golf Team, were the first to infiltrate the compound and secure the children inside.
Each Navajo had a specific dorm or cell to secure where it was known children would be sleeping. There were 20 possible areas, and 20 warriors. Ground floor windows, unlocked that night by a sympathetic janitor, had allowed the Ghost Warriors to slip in without a sound.
The men had three days to memorize the floor plans of the compound, and all went unerringly to their targets in the dim hallways, lights at half power in the night. They slipped silently into the dorms. Most occupied, some empty. If they were empty the Natives had secondary targets to provide double coverage. Their mission was to calm the children, keep their heads down in case of shooting, and to keep anyone from trying to come in and take them hostage. In almost every case, it was just keeping the children calm.
In the staff wing on the second floor, the Man with the Notebook, who had once journeyed to central Florida to dig up information on Erin Banks and keep the local law off her scent, was looking out his window and smoking a cigarette. He had just gotten done fucking one of the kitchen girls, a former penitent and compound guest. When she aged out she had nowhere to go and so was offered a job here. Fortunately for her... or unfortunately, perhaps... she was pretty. The Man with the Notebook liked pretty, and he liked penitent obedience. He took advantage of it when the urge struck, and the young girl now lay naked in his bed, curled on her side, facing away from him.
But he stood in the window, blowing smoke out of it. He could see one of the night guards standing down near the kennels also smoking in the small hours of the morning.
He thought the night felt strange, it was still. He looked out over the grounds to the distant fence, and the cornfields beyond. He saw a light out there, over the rows... hovering. Moving. That's odd. And then he saw two more red lights high overhead, they seemed to be circling. He looked back down at the night sentry just in time to see his legs being dragged around a corner, into shadows. The dogs were still silent.
He turned, there was an alarm button next to the locked door of his room. He reached it and pressed it.
Down in the sub-level at the compounds electrical room, the sympathetic janitor broke the lock of a red metal box on the wall and pulled down a switch. Then, following orders, he hid behind some metal cabinets where he had been told to stay put and out of the way, and he'd be collected when it was all over. He hunkered down and waited.
When the Man with the Notebook pressed the button, there should have been immediate alarms... but there was silence.
He scowled, looked at the small shape in his bed, and quickly threw on his clothes. When he was dressed he reached into his nightstand drawer and removed a 9mm hand gun. This isn't good... if I'm getting out of here it'll need to be fast and I'll need some shields.
He headed to the nearest dorm, the one with the youngest children.
He went down the hall, down the stairs, looking around corners as he went. He saw nothing so far, but this didn't feel right... at some point he should have bumped into night guards... somewhere. But the halls were empty and quiet.
He quickly ran down the corridor to the next wing, keeping his gun raised, trying to look everywhere at once. He quickly reached a student wing and he headed for the 12-13 year old dorm, and went in quickly. He felt like he was being watched. He entered the room, and found 15 children out of their beds, just looking at him. What the.... on reflex he said sternly, "What are you children doing out of bed? You will be punished." But there was no fire in his threat, he was thinking, wondering how many he could grab and move with them around him and keep them under control.
Still, the children just stared at the man behind him, who had been standing quietly next to the door the Man with the Notebook had just entered. Without a sound the tall man, skin pitch black with body paint, vertical white lines running down his face, approached the Man with the Gun from behind. The Ghost Warrior reached behind his own back and pulled a hammer from his belt. The handle had once been the femur of a deer that had died 300 years ago in Kentucky. The head was a smooth, four pound river rock from Tennessee. The hammer had been passed down through the generations, had walked the Trail of Tears, had finally ended up on a reservation in West Texas. It was now being wielded in Oklahoma. The man's hand fit perfectly in the worn groove of the handle, as had the hands of previous generations of his family that had held it.
"Did you hear me?" The Man with the Gun shouted at the children, who only flinched. "GET TO BED." The Man was eyeballing the four smallest children to him. He knew he had to get them and get out fast.
Still the Navajo came up behind him, slightly shifted to the side of the arm holding the gun.
The children didn't move, frozen and wide-eyed at the living shadow who had had woken them up, then shushed them when the Man with the Gun had begun unlocking the door to their dormitory.
The Navajo held his breath as he closed the final step, he observed the safety of the gun was on.
"IF I HAVE TO TELL YOU LITTLE SHITS ONE MORE TIME..." the man shouted.... but suddenly stopped shouting and started yelling in pain.
The Navajo had swung his hammer and struck the Man with the Gun in the wrist with great speed, the man's fingers instantly going slack as his arm was forced down, the gun clattering to the floor. He held his broken hand to his chest and turned, at first only seeing... blackness? but eyes finally focusing and he could see the demon standing before him. "I am not a child, try to threaten me," the demon said calmly, and stepped forward.
The Man with the Broken Wrist pissed himself.
In the local town, the one with the bar and two restaurants whose main customers were employees of the compound, two large box vans sat at opposite ends of the only large street. As soon as Golf Team was go, they began jamming all signals in and out of the town, cell, television, everything. The local telephone substation was also powered down. There would be no warnings out.
Within a minute the raid began, properly. Blackened vehicles finally lit up and crashed the gate, making sure each proper exit was covered. Night guards gave up without a fight as men in khaki pants, shirts, silver stars on their chests and cowboy hats poured out of the vans and began arresting and zip tying hands. The outside was quickly secured, and when no one was found at the main entrances, the compound was breached.
No alarms had been given and no sirens had blared as the Texas Rangers entered the so-called school, and most adult staff were caught in bed, unaware. While guns were eventually found on the premises no one had warning or time to use them. Even the kennel master, who actually had heard commotion and came out to see if his dogs had caught another deer that had squeezed through a gate, found himself looking down the barrels of rifles held by three Rangers. He slowly put his own .22 rifle on the ground near his feet, keeping his hands clearly visible.
In a basement, one of the Ghost Warriors had been given bad information, and it took him a while to find his target... some sort of solitary confinement cell. He finally thought he found it, a metal door with a big round latch. He turned the wheel, hearing the sound of thick metal moving inside. He turned it all the way, the door opened inward, and at some point an overhead light came on automatically.
Inside he saw a tiny blonde girl.... she couldn't have been more than 10 or 11. She was lying in a puddle of urine, and she woke with the light and noise. She started crying, "I'm sorry Mother... I'll be a good girl..." sobbing... "I'm so sorry.... please I am so hungry..." Finally she opened her eyes, saw the demon standing in the doorway, and knew she had died and this was Hell. She tried to scream, but her voice was so weak and hoarse.
In an instant he was kneeling next to her, she did her best to flinch away from him. "Little one," he said calmly.
Still, she was even more frightened, the white paint over black on his face looked like a skull. Looked like death.
"Little one," he said, so gently. "I am here to help you. Do not be afraid."
She was trying to back up through the metal wall, but his kind voice... so different from his fierce visage... gave her pause. She looked at him, quietly. Her head was spinning a little, anyway. She'd had nothing to eat or drink in two days.
"Good, little one," the Navajo said. He had a daughter her age back on the reservation. "Do not fear me. I am taking you from this place. They will never hurt you again. Will you trust me?" he asked as kindly as he could.
She looked at him. "Will I ever have to come back?"
"Never, little one."
"Ok," she said so sweetly, and put her arms around his neck as he lifted her and carried her out.
The Texas Rangers were all wearing body cameras, Pete Rollins had told his people, "If either we're perfect or if we screw the pooch, we're going to own it." Several of them recorded the very imposing figure of Laughing Fox, surrounded by Texas Rangers, as he carried the little girl out the front door of the compound, his fierce face black with the image of a skull, the little girl in the soiled gown wrapped around him, holding him so tight. The image of the Ghost Warrior saving the little blonde girl made the front page of internet news sites all over the world.
One thousand, eight hundred miles away, the Mayor of Orlando was in his bed next to a woman who wasn't his wife. There was a mirror with cocaine residue on the night stand, the mayor and the woman, on their stomachs, sprawled on the bed naked. Suddenly the bedroom lights turned on and a policeman with five FBI agents in body armor and automatic weapons turned off their night vision.
"Oh Bob," the policeman said with a pleasant tone in his voice.
The couple in bed didn't flinch.
"Hey Bob!" the policeman asked a little louder, causing the mayor to finally stir.
The mayor opened his eyes and the light hurt them, "Awww god.... turn off the lights..." he mumbled.
A rifle barrel nudged his back.
"Afraid I can't do that, Bob," Chief of Police Larry Hawkins said to his boss. "I'm afraid I have to arrest you now."
The woman in the bed stirred without opening her eyes, "Is there any more cocaine?" she asked.
Larry chuckled. "Yeah Bob, is there any more cocaine?"
Finally the mayor was awake, and he turned over and sat up, finally looking around his very busy bedroom. He decided to try to take charge of this situation. "Chief Hawkins, what..." he looked around again, five rifles pointed at him. "What is the meaning of this?"
"Bob, and it gives me great pleasure to say this," Hawkins said, pulling out his cuffs and approaching the man who'd once stopped him from investigating the compound. "You're under arrest for aiding and abetting the abuse and torture of hundreds, if not thousands of children." He violently grabbed the mayor and put him on his face on the floor next to the bed. The mayor squealed as Larry put his knee in the small of his back and brought his arms behind him, applying the cuffs. He got down low to the mayor's ear, "I might have gotten to her in time, you son of a bitch."
He lifted the mayor by his thumbs. "We'll talk about the cocaine, too, Bob. You have the right to remain silent...."
Mother was screaming and fighting as she was dragged out of the compound by three Rangers, hair and eyes wild. The reserve she was able to maintain when being sadistic to those weaker than her was nowhere to be found when she herself could have used some mercy.
The guard dogs, ordinarily fierce toward anyone not the kennel master, were found near the kennel strangely subdued. Each of them had a red handprint somewhere on its hide.
In the early morning the sky lightened in the east as day began to break, Texas Ranger teams were still sweeping the large building but no one else had been found hiding for over an hour. Groups of children outside the gate sat in groups along the road, 40 social workers and 20 child psychologists from Texas had been quietly rounded up to take care of the children during this period until they could get sorted out.
Their parents would be investigated to determine how much they'd known about this place before they sent their children... if there had been older siblings that had come to the compound the parents were to be immediately arrested. The sympathetic janitor had been found right where he was supposed to be, behind the metal cabinets near the electrical panels. He was given coffee and a front-row seat in the front of a van as the compound was swept clean.
When the sun finally peaked over the corn fields the first structure its rays touched were the top of the flag pole. The flag of the state of Oklahoma had flown there the night before, this morning the new light found the Lone Star of Texas, just beginning to stir in the morning breeze.
The compound had been taken.
Copyright 2017: "Marissa Banks." Rights reserved. Not for reuse without express written consent of the author. All content is purely fictional; any similarities to actual persons or events is pure coincidence. Reader must be of legal age in the judicial area he/she resides. Reproductions of the fiction contained herein or linked from here may not be used in whole or in part without express permission from the author.