Red Jaguar Rises Again

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Chapter Nine

More chicleros are running out of the jungle. Kicah rushes over to the jaguar statue. Teotl follows.

The priests line up along the front of the platform beside Balam in an effort to keep the chicleros from seeing what is happening on top the pyramid.

Kicah says to Teotl, “Stand here beside the jaguar.”

He reaches inside its mouth and moves one of the sharp teeth. Soon as he does, the statue rises in the air and is now on top a large, flat piece of white stone.

Two priests bang on little drums they carry on their belts.

Teotl asks Kicah, “What am I to do?”

“Ask Balam. He knows,” answers Kicah who takes the codice from the sack around his waist and reaches up and fits it under the red jaguar. He turns another tooth in the jaguar’s mouth. The platform with the red jaguar lowers into the pyramid and disappears.

Kicah takes Teotl’s arm and moves to Balam. Below, a chiclero is shouting, “We want the codice. Give it to us or we will use force.”

“Never,” shouts back Balam in the strange language.

A chiclero pulls out a grenade and makes a gesture with it. Balam says to Teotl, “Tell them you bring word from the Council of Priests.”

Kicah goes to each priest. As they open their mouth, he puts a small, black object into it. Then he comes to Teotl and Balam saying, “Bite down on this when I tell you. Not before,” he warns.

Balam takes out the jelly-bean thing and yells to all the men gathering below the pyramid, “Hear Teotl. Hear what she says.”

The priests move so that she can forward and stand in front of them. She moves and stands like a queen on the top of the pyramid.

“The Council of Priests met,” she calls down to the men below. “Yes, you can have the codice . . .if you leave the jungle and never come back.”

The angry men below argue among themselves.

“Come to me,” says Teotl. “I alone have the power to give it to you.”

The men rush up the steep steps. Teotl watches them with a smile on her face. She fingers the large stone at the end of her necklace, and then moves back a few steps to the center of the platform. The priests go behind her, making room for Kicah and Teotl to be at the front and meet them alone.

The men rush over the top. Teotl holds the piece of jade up and the moon shines through it and the sky turns green.

Kicah motions with his head to all the priests and to Balam and Teotl. He points to his mouth and they understand that it is time for them to bite down upon the tiny object he has put in each of their mouths.

Smoke hisses out of Teotl’s necklace. The fumes of blackness quickly spread over everyone. The chicleros fall down, not dead, but unconscious. But the object that Kicah has given all the others keeps the smoke from harming them.

“Torches,” shouts Balam and points.

Coming through the jungle, George holds a big torch light as he leads a troop of Mexican soldiers to the pyramid. He has returned as a guide in the white shirt and pants and the old straw hat.

The bodies of the sleeping chicleros are flung across the top of the pyramid. No one else is there. George tells the Mexican officer, “These are men who wanted to steal the codice. Let them see the inside of a Mexican prison where there are no roofs, just concrete and the hot sun above.”

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