Chapter Fourteen: The Month the Babies Cry

Chapter Fourteen: The Raid

Somewhere along the Brazos, three spectres glide furtively through the shadows, through mesquite and prickly pear and muricated nettles clawing at their buckskin boots and long-fringed moccasins. Wearing the surreptitious night as a cloak on their sun-blackened skin, they move like a skulk of rabid fox, like a pride of feline prowlers seeking to escape observation.

Soon, their eyes, dark adaptations, fix on the yellow nimbus of candle and firelight streaming through the open cabin door. They hear the laughter of the four-member family. There is an explosion of sound as they rush inside the cabin, of men screaming as if not men. The man and boy are clubbed and axed down before they can reach their rifles, the woman cries to her god and struggles to rise from her chair, but a spear pins her back into it, and her hands drop the now blood splattered basket of embroidery and sewing that had occupied her last minutes.

There is a teenage girl inside the cabin. A warrior laughs at her hysterical and impotent flailing at his hands as he reaches for her. He hoists the screaming lump over a shoulder and she is carried outside and tied across one of her family’s own horses.   He slaps her until she stops screaming. As the war party slips into the darkness, the only sound is the crackling of the burning timbers.