Chap 1 - Gathering
Copyright ©  [Michael Harper]
All rights reserved. No portion of this book, story,or concept may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact the author directly.
A wolf’s growl blends into a snarl. The throaty rumble grows into a howl. A choir of wolves howls in response.
The echo of howls grows in volume. Unbridled Anger. Pissed. Rage filled.
A lock of vantablack hair fills our eyes until a full-grown wolf’s body appears. Tufts of midnight fur blend with sand that blow around a nondescript building. Tiny follicles surf wind currents as easily as an airborne virus.
Inside a mobile home ready for the landfill within central Texas, one would wish the sun to either burn away the sight or disappear altogether. Wall-to-wall blood and gore speak of unbridled savagery. Deep scratches mar the furniture and congealed fluids. A disembodied hand grips a cup on the table. Veins and tendons pool to the floor from a partial arm. The ebony limb was the only human item in the room.
Latina-mixed (28 yr old), TERESA stands with her hands in her ripped jean shorts pockets. She gnashes her teeth. Her deep brown lipstick covers a bruise on her lip. Her long hair tied in a petite ponytail dance with the whistling wind.
I called you because you were his goddamn drinking buddy. Figured you’d want to know.
Caucasian (29 yr old), OSCAR, in faded tattered clothes, has short matted hair and a shadow of a beard. His eyes are a piercing gray.
Well, goddamn, Teresa. What the hell happened here?
He got chopped up.
What? Where’s his body?
How the fuck should I know.
He’s the father of your goddamn kids, Teresa.
Look, Oscar. You can damn well cry for your fucking asshole friend. I’m just the bitch he kicked around.
She lights a cigarette and inhales. Her eyes are full of exhaustion. Dark rings underscore her bone-weariness.
I don’t know what he tells you, but he didn’t pay a goddamn penny to me or the kids. Hell, he only comes around to make me spread my legs. Sometimes after you get him drunk off his ass, he comes here to fuck me and beat the shit outta me. Not always in that order. Be grateful I called you at all.
I didn’t know. I’m sorry.
Fuck you, Oscar.
She gives him the middle finger. Her contempt is obvious.
If you find him or anything that’s left of him, the trash can is over there.
She walks out.
Teresa, if you need to—
She flicks her cigarette at him. His head dips in a moment of shame.
He jogs after her.
Theresa! Wait a sec.
Do I look like I chopped him up? I’d be covered in blood. I would have done it with rat poison and gasoline his fucking ass. But with this racist town, they’d think a five-foot-four woman that’s brown-skinned wanted to purge all the brothers for them and lock me up. You, you’d being white, woulda get a gold medal for finding his dick in the snow.
Where were you then?
She yells at him.
Goddammit, I got bills to pay. He don’t give me nothing but STDs. The kids need shit. Didn’t matter if he was here or not. I enlisted in the oldest profession for a woman. That’s where the fuck I was.
Fuck, Theresa. You could’ve—
She jabs her finger into his chest.
Don’t fucking finish that. Get hurt? Don’t forget he wasn’t my husband. I’m fucking hoping a dead cockroach is raping his asshole with fangs. And, no, you don’t get to know the johnny clients I was with. That’s for my busted ass and torn pussy to know, and you to fuck right off. Asshole.
She continues to her beaten car in the distance.
And the more dead and gone he is, the better. My face and pussy can take a break from his abusive ass.
Oscar considers Teresa. She can feel him staring at her ass. Teresa flips him the bird. Oscar returns to the trailer. His hand over his nose and mouth.
In the backfield beyond the trailer, blood drops off tips of uncut grass.
Teresa enters her car, digs a hand into a pocket to pull out a crumpled cigarette pack. She holds a cigarette in silence. Her phone pings. She swipes the phone to see the message.
TEXT: Again, sorry. I didn’t know he had a family and did that shit to you. Dinner with him was good. Made sure his dick won’t bother you anymore. Pax, Nia.
IMAGE: A man ripped apart as if a bear on cocaine and PCP danced inside him. The man’s penis and testicles shoved into his gaping mouth. His foot shoved in between his ass cheeks. A hand is missing from the gory scene.
Teresa grins as she smokes. The car pulls away.
At a Texas Border Patrol Detention Facility, a beautiful without trying hard, Mexican (42 yr old), MARISOL, turn under a silver blanket. She lies on a crinkling mat. A neo-traditional black pearl tattoo, wrapped by an asp, all lying within a fire and lightning storm, covers her ankle.
Immigrant WOMEN pack a massive room, BUZZING about children and fears.
A social worker, Thai-Norwegian (34 yr old), SUPATRA, hustles between security fences. Her badge glints under the light. She moves past women, glances at ladies in soft conversation, and smiles. They sincerely smile back.
Marisol sniffs the air with closed eyes. She sits up, her eyes narrow as she scrutinizes her surroundings
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement GUARD stops Supatra, examining her badge. He nods, steps around her, and completes a patrol. Supatra enters Marisol’s area. Marisol rises.
¿Quién eres tú? (Who are you?)
Un aliado. (An ally.) Fui enviado por ti. (They sent me for you.)
Supatra picks up a blanket to hand it to a shivering WOMAN. Marisol stands there, watching. Marisol cannot detect anything but a pure Spanish accent from Supatra.
¿Que hay de mi tribu? (What about my tribe?)
Aquí. El Get of Fenris espera. (Here. The Get of Fenris waits.)
La última vez que nos separó como skwinkles. (Last time he pulled us apart like Skwinkles.)
La guerra no es solo para los humanos. Tuvo que tomar una decisión difícil. Por todos nosotros. Vivir.
(War isn’t only for humans. He had to make a hard choice. For all of us. To live.)
Marisol responds. Outraged as a murder hornet fighting a praying mantis.
¡Se llevó a mi familia! ¡Mis hijos! Mis cachorros nacieron de mi cuerpo. ¿Qué le dio el derecho? (He took away my family! My children! My pups were born of my body. What gave him the right?)
Supatra endures the mother’s wrath. She waits for Marisol to give the blanket to someone else. The two ladies head toward an exit. An AGENT stops them. He looks at Supatra’s badge, scans it with a handheld device, to allow them to pass.
Todos están respondiendo la Llamada. (Everyone is answering the Call.)
¿Cuántos más? (How many more?)
Todos nosotros. (All of us)
The ladies pass interview rooms and into the maze.
¿Has visto “El Cuento ce la Criada”? (Have you seen “The Handmaid’s Tale”?)
Sí. ¿Qué hay de eso? (Yes. What about that?)
¿Cómo te sientes sobre el cambio climático? (How do you feel about climate change?)
Marisol has a dubious look. She follows Supatra, but doubts.
¿Qué tiene esto que ver con la Convocatoria? (What does this have to do with the Call?)