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THE COYOTE

A Thriller

Michael McBride

The Coyote copyright © 2012 by Michael McBride

All Rights Reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from Michael McBride.

For more information about the author, please visit his website: www.michaelmcbride.net

Also by Michael McBride

NOVELS

Bloodletting

Burial Ground

Innocents Lost

Predatory Instinct

Vector Borne

NOVELLAS

Blindspot

Brood XIX

Remains (from The Mad & The Macabre, with Jeff Strand)

Snowblind

Xibalba

ZERØ

TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE COYOTE

THE CALM BEFORE THE SWARM

For Dani

Special Thanks to J.G. Faherty, Gene O’Neill, Norman Prentiss, Gord Rollo, William C. Rasmussen, Jeff Strand, Linda Walter, my family, and all of my loyal friends and readers, without whom none of this would be possible.

THE COYOTE

 

They say your blood flows from the earth, but in my experience they’re wrong. Blood flows to the earth. Whatever gifts it bestows, it always takes back in spades.

DAY 1

tash hema

e:’ed

 

 

There are people who believe that the memories of our ancestors flow through our blood in much the same way animals inherit migratory instincts from theirs. In my opinion, beliefs like that breed victims, for not all of our antecedents figured out how to truly live, but every single one of them found a way to die.

ONE

Hickiwan District

Tohono O’odham Nation

Arizona

September 9th

I was sick of the heat long before I boarded the plane at Denver International Airport. Turns out I had no idea what it truly meant to be hot. They call it an Indian summer, but never in front of me. The same way people probably tiptoe around African-Americans on Black Friday. I’m not that sensitive to the whole politically correct vibe. I didn’t get to choose my bloodline any more than I got to pick my parents. It would have been nice to have known them, though, but that’s neither here nor there. People die all the time. Fact of life. Nothing you can do to stop it. You start dying the moment you’re born. The problem is that from time to time people get a little help along the way. And that’s why I was out here in the middle of this godforsaken desert, roasting alive, wondering if it was possible for my sweat to actually boil.

That, of course, and the color of my skin.

“I don’t like the way they’re looking at me.”

“You get used to it. Don’t take it personally.”

I picked up a rock and hurled it at the nearest buzzard, which merely flapped its massive wings when the stone struck the saguaro cactus beneath it. The others just sat there on their perches with their bald heads and their beady little eyes. They obviously knew the score.

“Shouldn’t they be circling overhead, waiting for us to collapse? This strikes me as sheer laziness.”

“Out here in the desert, you learn in a hurry not to waste your energy. Any physical exertion costs you hydration, and once you start losing water, there’s no way of getting it back.”

I figured the Border Patrol agent was being overly dramatic. After all, that’s what locals do. They get to piss first to mark their territory when the Feds are called in. This guy was just encouraging me to hold mine a while longer, but, believe me, I had no intention of saving mine for drinking down the road. Not once we reached the crime scene. I was going to piss all over it when we got there. Metaphorically, of course. The way those vultures were still eyeing us, I didn’t see any harm in saving my fluids for later use. You know, just in case.

The Sonoran Desert was vastly different than I expected. When I hear the word desert, I think of sand dunes stretching from one horizon to the other. I imagine camels and mirages and women dressed like belly dancers. This, however? Well, this was a lot like the rest of Arizona, only hotter.

We ascended from a wash filled with mesquites—which somehow qualified as trees, despite having more in common with cacti—onto a steep, rocky slope riddled with yuccas and prickly pears and cholla. Fortunately, it was too hot for the snakes to be out basking. At least that’s what the CBP agent told me. His name was Blaine Randall and he looked more like he belonged in a sweater with Greek letters and a plastic cup of keg beer in his hand than out here in his forest-green uniform with a baton on one hip and a Heckler & Koch P2000 .40 caliber semi-automatic holstered on the other, but I wanted to believe him. I really wanted to believe him. I’ve never been a big fan of legless life forms, especially the venomous kind that strike just because they feel like it.

We must have looked the pair: a WASP in dusty paramilitary fatigues leading a Native-American in L.L. Bean hiking gear and a blue FBI windbreaker slung over his shoulder across uninhabitable land over which their forefathers had long ago fought and died. To be fair, I’m also half white, but tend to be mistaken for Hispanic. Maybe I should incorporate something cool and distinctly native into my name so there’s no confusion, like Lou Diamond Phillips. As far as names go, I could have done a hell of a lot worse than Lukas Walker, but something like Luke Sky Walker would really sing.

By the time we crested the ridge, only to find ourselves at the foot of another, even steeper embankment, Randall’s green and white Ford Explorer was little more than a sparkle on the dirt drag that cut a straight line through the creosotes and palo verdes.

“What were you doing all the way out here?”

“My job.”

“You know that’s not what I mean.”

“I was cutting sign. You know, tracking? That’s what I do. It’s not like we sit on our asses in air conditioned rooms watching monitors all day. We’re out here in trucks that can’t get to half of the areas we need to reach, so most of the time we’re on foot. Alone. Outnumbered. And in the middle of a goddamn war zone.”

     

 

2011 - 2018