No, please… I wanna live… she’d implored, tears from both burning eyes stumbling down hotly in a race to the curves of her jaw.
The severity hadn’t settled in her features like powder in fine lines or the pores one gets as the pertinacity of age needles the helpless face and weathers the lukewarm spirit in icy gales, but keeps all pain locked behind the eyes. She takes this doggedness as a game, and only as a precaution did she weep before the few folk gathered.
They are red-faced religious zealots convinced that they’re faintly touched by something celestial, with stares like beams from moonlight towers, high and mighty and distant. Two tall-haired women feathered and coated in aqua net, basked in the vaporous, undead radiance of fluorescent lightbulbs. The man is dark and hollow, handsome in a bygone era, like a man sucked out, shriveled against his own bones, slender and tall, white as a ghost, with big eyes like a lost animal.
Mother was absent much for the lonely girl, grandmother raised her, still this pain with her where the cord that connected her to her mother ached with a phantom agony as motherless children share, and it bore a hole she walked around with like an invisible mark only others with the same hole could see. Savoring the intensity of the spirituality others felt around her, while inside she secretly remained unconvinced, ASHLEY had been around. Out and about from the reservation, or the rez, as it’s called, searching for something, and that something had found her. And when it did, she only had more questions… piled upon the other questions that had, as yet, still no answers, and nobody had those answers. Nobody.
That thing in the plains had scratched her face up pretty bad, some kind of wolf, and ever since she’d been sick. Was it rabies? Nah… they’d given her that shot at the hospital. She’d have been dead by now if it were. She didn’t tell grandma a damn thing about the wolf, the old woman far too superstitious, said she’d fallen on a cactus.
Her ‘prayer group’ was convinced it was the devil lodged inside of her. They had to get it out of her, they’d said. And there they were; they looked surreal, like a carnival of gaunt, starved souls, staring at her.
We aren’t like that other group, they’re a cult, he says, stay away from the likes of ‘em. Only on rare occasions do exorcisms cause death, his teeth were yellow as he grinned and his clothes reeked of tobacco and thrift stores that she used to shop at as a kid, too poor and too far away to find something new.
You’re all a cult, said she, one big fucking cult, that has no idea what’s going on in this world, no more than anybody else…
You can’t go out on the full moon, few days from now, the apparition of a man says, that’s when the devil—
And although they had begged, she had left.
[ ‘Girls That Vanish At Night: New Mexico, 1986′ is the continuation of a short horror series told episodically by Samantha Lucero. To catch up on series 1, go here. ]