Lightspeed Presents: "Salto Mortal" by Nick T. Chan

June 14, 2016 - accent chair

Image © 2016 by Alan Bao.

io9 is unapproachable to benefaction novella from Lightspeed Magazine. This month’s preference is from Lightspeed’s “People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction!” issue, a special double-sized emanate that is 100% created and edited by people of colo(u)r. And a featured story is “Salto Mortal” by Nick T. Chan. You can review a story subsequent or we can listen to a podcast. Enjoy!

“The pivotal technique of Lucha Libre was a flip with a behind mangle fall, called a salto mortal (death leap) . . .” —Heather Levi, The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations and Mexican National Identity

Three days ago, Paul had thrown Mary onto a kitchen building and kicked her everywhere solely her face. For a initial dual days, a usually time she left her bed was to go to a bathroom, drops of clotted blood from her bulb deposited like coins in a toilet bowl.

On a third day, high on oxycodone, Mary dreamed about a lucha libre. She hadn’t suspicion about wrestling given she’d left Mexico, yet a ghost was as splendid and pointy as grief.


In a dream, Papa and Felipe were still alive and Mexico still existed. They were pushing to Arena Mexico in Mexico City, sixteen hours in a rusty white pick-up. Felipe hadn’t wanted to go. He preferred fútbol, like everybody else. Only nacos favourite lucha libre, so given did they have to go all this approach usually for her?

The locus stank of boiled churros, Coca-Cola, cigarettes, and sweat. Everyone else cheered when El Jaguar achieved a salto mortal off a tip ropes onto Dr. Wagner and afterwards strutted around a ring as a rudo rolled in pain. She’d yelled during Dr. Wagner to get up, meaningful that it was all a trick. You could never trust a rudo. It was what she preferred about them. If a naguals had never invaded Mexico, maybe she’d be a ruda today, a knave in a lucha libre compare in Mexico City.


In her oxycodone dream, Dr. Wagner rose while El Jaguar had his behind turned. He put a técnico in a stranglehold, his eyes festive behind his black and white mask. Then he spoke directly to her. “You contingency go to a CASFV circuitously Don Haskin’s core and leave your father forever.” When she woke, she wasn’t certain either he’d oral in English or in her almost-forgotten Spanish.

The Center Against Sexual and Family Violence. For roughly a day after a hallucination, she stayed in bed, uncertain of what to do. It had usually been a dream. But then, roughly yet thinking, she called a core from a toilet, murmur while regulating a taps.

Afterwards, any transformation like a spike scraped down her bones, she’d dressed in a span of jeans and a high-collared shirt. She’d used adequate substructure to cover a bruises, taken an additional oxycodone pill, and staggered a few doors down a mezzanine towards a study. Each step felt like a mile, yet she intoxicated a grin on her face.

She approaching a pathway to be closed, yet it was somewhat ajar. She peeked through. Paul’s behind was confronting her. An array of resounding images floated in a atmosphere around him, yet he paid courtesy to 0 of them, his concentration taken adult by a voice opening by his microphone headset.


She’d seen a tiny cameras by a backdoor, a garage, and a front door. She hadn’t famous about a one in a bedroom or a one confronting a shower. Thank God she hadn’t called a CASFV from inside a bathroom, a showering running, like she’d creatively planned.

“What do we meant you’ve mislaid steer of it?” Paul pronounced to some discarnate worker during a other finish of his call. He was nipping red root tobacco, spasmodic spitting a masticated mass of tobacco into a tin on a cedar timber desk. Talking to one of his employees who watched for naguals scaling a Wall.

She willed her heart to kick a tiny bit softer and stepped divided from a door, streamer behind down a corridor. It was tough to travel sensitively when any step was like a blade in her side.

“You played a speakers during low volume, bringing in juveniles only, right?” Paul pronounced from a room. “And it’s one youthful that went by El Gueto? No cameras during all?” His voice full of cocksure authority. “Why can’t we male a drone? You meant I’ve got to leave my ill mother here and come in? Yeah, she’s got a flu.” He over into an raw silence. “Maybe I’ll come in for a integrate of hours tonight. we need a travel anyway, get divided from all her whining.”

She’d reached a bedroom pathway when his chair squeaked. She incited and grabbed a doorframe, creation it seem as if she’d usually started opening from a bedroom.

Paul still wore his microphone headset, a employee’s tinny voice yammering in his ear. “Hey, you’re up?” From a fake lightness, she knew he’d usually usually speckled a design of a lifeless bed.

“I’m feeling many better,” she pronounced brightly. “I wanted to ask either we can go to Don Haskin’s tonight and watch a wrestling?”

“Give me 5 minutes, Ahmed,” he pronounced into his microphone.

He pulpy a symbol on his watch and afterwards her internet story floated in a atmosphere in front of them. He stretched a page with a lucha libre during Don Haskins and swiped by a page, regulating tiny finger gestures to enhance certain sections. After a while, he nodded, confident she wasn’t lying. It substantially helped he was always benevolence and light for a few days after he’d strike her. Paul navigated until he’d found a sheet in a infirm section.

“You won’t have to travel adult a stairs,” he said. “If they ask for a infirm permit, give them my name.” Unspoken, she’d be surrounded by gray-haired pensioners, not immature men. “It finishes during 10 p.m.” He looked during his watch for a meaningfully prolonged time and afterwards he was articulate to his worker as he headed behind to a study.

She gathering a automatic, so that a suit of changeable gears didn’t scratch during her insides. It wasn’t until she’d driven by a University and arrived during a locus carpark that a fear started to scratch during her thoughts. She was softened off with him. She was 0 yet Paul. She’d mislaid all in her life once already. She couldn’t do it again. Besides, he’d find her somehow. She should usually go and watch a wrestling. But somehow, he’d know. He’d know she was formulation to leave him and afterwards he’d kill her.

For a moment, she couldn’t seem to get adequate air, like she was perplexing to breathe by a clogged straw. She checked her heartbeat on her watch. 140, like she was regulating adult high hill. She exhaled solemnly until her heart rate dropped.

Inside a arena, she switched her phone off. Losing a vigilance inside was plausible. She swiped her intelligent watch during a sheet kiosk and afterwards searched in a reserve behind her for someone who looked alone. Eventually she found a fat prime guy, his hair in a fluffy mullet, face red yet it was cold in a air-conditioning.

“I’ll give this for thirty dollars,” she said. “They’re in a infirm section, yet you’ll be right subsequent to a ring. Long as we give me cash.” He hesitated, yet something in her eyes told him how badly she indispensable a money.

It took her an painful half an hour to travel to a reconstructed zone, a new housing blocks covering a petrify where a railway lines used to be. Cars gathering past, ignoring her. Ignoring her even when she sank to her knees in pain, persperate dripping, her hands shaking.

Only 5 mins divided from a protected house, a pain finished her substitute and she grabbed during a circuitously lamppost. How detached had she walked? She noticed a stretch trafficked on her watch. Paul favourite her to travel during slightest 5 miles a day, pronounced her hips were too big. Of march she’d missed her aim lately.

When she saw a address, she scarcely cried with relief. After a mangle to accumulate herself, she limped to a threshold. Her palm froze usually before she knocked on a door.

The watch. She was so goddamn stupid. Paul had cameras on any exit in a house, a GPS on a automobile and he frequently checked her phone’s location. She was a stupid, invalid refugiada. He substantially frequently accessed a watch’s online account. When he satisfied she wasn’t opening home, he’d start looking for her. When he did, a watch would lead him loyal to a women’s refuge. She could pierce on, yet a retreat itself couldn’t.

She indispensable to lapse to a arena. The watch usually synced to a comment during midnight. If she returned home and accessed her account, she could undo tonight’s exercise.

She hadn’t designed on walking back. In normal circumstances, it was during slightest a forty-five-minute walk. Now? Too long. She’d arrive during Don Haskins after a eventuality had finished. If she hadn’t fainted from a pain beforehand. He’d know she’d been somewhere else and afterwards he’d opening her watch.

She indispensable to find a taxi, yet they wouldn’t come circuitously a reconstructed zone. On a way, she’d seen a stadium that ran past El Gueto. She didn’t like going circuitously El Gueto, yet taxis wouldn’t come any closer to a Wall than Sun Bowl Drive.

She walked. It wasn’t until she was roughly inside a stadium that she saw a nagual.

It was sitting on a swing, looking for all a universe like a normal child. Even this tighten to a Wall, children still played. But not this late during night. The usually light in a stadium came from a flashing blue-and-red strobe indicating it was curfew time. Naguals didn’t know warning lights or curfews. Rather than stepping onto a stadium and into a nagual’s margin of vision, Mary shrunk behind into a dim between a sodium-white circles of light expel by a streetlights.

With a curfew, no one else was outside. The child swung retrograde and forwards, a rusted bondage squeaking. If he’d been human, he competence be 6 or seven. The same age as Felipe when she’d left him and a rest of a family behind. Copper-brown skin purify as soap, a shade darker than her own. Black hair that looked like it was smoothly combed initial thing in a morning and afterwards a tangled disaster a notation later. The nagual wore a new blue t-shirt, orderly tucked into a waistband of his navy shorts.

The t-shirt had a design of a luchador on it. El Jaguar. Just like her oxycodone dream, and for a impulse she doubted what she was seeing. But El Jaguar had been a renouned técnico, roughly late by a time of a visitacion. It wasn’t improbable that a nagual had seen his image. Unaware he was being watched, a nagual swung with complete abandon.

A sun-faded cosmetic child’s bike lay deserted during a playground’s edge. Shacks surrounded a playground, many of them tin sheets loosely tied together with wire. Diesel generators chugged everywhere, promulgation adult tea-colored clouds of haze into a night air. An whole temporary poor put down pound crash on what had been railway lines.

Each strew was filled with los refugiados. Most of them people like her, ones who’d arrived usually before a visitacion. Almost 0 from after. In a panicked days after a visitacion, a army had shot hundreds, maybe thousands, of people perplexing to cranky a Rio Grande and everywhere else opposite a border. Back then, they suspicion a naguals were softened during imitating people than they unequivocally were.

In a detached dim was a Wall. Looming and gray, with electrified spiny handle rolled opposite a top. The loudspeakers on tip blared bizarre whistles and sounds like harsh gears. According to Paul, a sounds gathering a naguals behind into what had once been Mexico. Back into a purple haze that swallowed radar, swallowed drones, swallowed people.

Cameras dotted a Wall during unchanging intervals. While elsewhere they swept retrograde and forwards like jester heads during a carnival, along this territory they were still. No consternation a nagual had managed to make it opposite yet Paul’s worker saying it.

The gueto competence have been underneath curfew, yet a breach was usually celebrated in a minute of a law, not a spirit. Near a playground, where a worker or patrolman automobile competence pass, blankets lonesome a doorways. But serve back, she could hear people flitting from strew to strew or station around in a alleyways.

Somewhere, a orator blared reggaetón over a tip of a generators, competing with a some-more detached stereo personification something aged and lilting and gentle. Pedro Vargas. Voices called out to any other, a throng of accents and dialects. Peruvian, Mexican, Argentinian. These weren’t a voices of her childhood, though. They were sour voices, voices yet hope.

If it wasn’t for Paul, she’d still be here. Every week, there were stories about women branch adult upheld in El Gueto. Here, some-more than anywhere in a United States. Endless limbo, poverty, drugs, outsiders opening in to take advantage of a desperate. It was a dangerous place.

The nagual dismounted from one pitch and for a impulse she was fearful he’d seen her. But he’d simply motionless that his stream chair no longer matched him and altered opposite to a subsequent one. He resumed swinging.

What should she do? No one from El Gueto was looking into a playground. She had to get to a arena. But if she left a nagual alone, afterwards eventually it would conform a cocoon. The cocoons focussed a light, so that they were tough to see. In El Gueto, there were copiousness of places for a cocoon to sojourn hidden. Afterwards, a adult nagual emerged and Paul had shown her photos of what happened then.

She checked her watch. She was regulating late.

The nagual pumped his legs to give himself momentum. Nagual kids were meant to pierce like marionettes, all herky-jerky. This one looked some-more like a genuine tellurian than any nagual she’d listened about. An developed nagual. They softened from month to month, yet she’d never listened of one being this good.

The fickleness with that a child pendulumed behind and brazen on a pitch evoked a bizarre unhappiness within her. It wasn’t a child and never had been, yet she’d been one once.

When we were a child, life was simpler. Back then, she’d watched a lucha libre, adoring a luchadores enmascarados.

She’d take a nagual home and explain she’d found it erratic in a locus carpark. Say she’d mistaken it for a genuine child and taken him home. Just like when Paul had taken her in.

For a nagual this good, this evolved, Paul would accept a promotion. It had been so prolonged given she’d deserved his love, yet giving him this quadruped would solve everything. All she had to do was make a nagual follow her.

The initial time she attempted to call out, a pain of transformation astounded her and she swallowed a words. She collected herself and attempted again.

“Hey,” she called, stepping underneath a streetlight so that he could see her. The child jerked his conduct up, red-and-blue light strobed opposite his face. She limped towards a playground, perplexing to breathe naturally. The pain was bad adequate to put a tighten in her thoughts and she dug her nails in her palms to confuse from it.

“What’s your name?” she said. The nagual didn’t move. “Don’t we know about a curfew? C’mon, let’s get we home before a limit unit sees you.” She half-turned divided and gestured for a nagual to follow. He didn’t budge.

Close-up, a tiny sum were wrong. He was blank a tiny strap of skin during a front of any ear and nictitating membranes lonesome his eyes. The design of El Jaguar was confused and a letters on his t-shirt were formless blobs. More than a few feet away, though, she would have mistaken a nagual for a boy.

She focussed over, ignoring a pointy gash in her gut, and simulated to review a foolish letters. “You into wrestling? Did we know we used to train? we was going to be a luchadora before we came here.”

Their eyes met. She’d seen footage of naguals with eyes that were some-more like spider’s eyes, glossy and unmoving. If not for a membranes, this nagual’s eyes would have been perfect. Paul would be so happy when she brought it to him.

“You like him?” she said, indicating during a confused design of El Jaguar on a nagual’s shirt. “We can watch a lucha libre during my place.”

When she pronounced lucha libre, a nagual dismounted from a swing. “Lucha libre?” he pronounced in a pure Chihuahua accent. “Me encanta lucha libre.”

She stood there for a prolonged time, wakeful that her mouth was open, yet incompetent to do anything about it. At best, naguals were meant to parrot behind phrases with no genuine understanding. This one clearly spoke some spin of Spanish.

“Me llamo Marquetta,” she said, startling herself. How prolonged had it been given she’d called herself Marquetta instead of Mary? Paul had never gotten his mouth around her genuine name.

“Marquetta,” a child pronounced with pure relish, like he’d learnt a gratifying new swear word. “¡Qué nombre tan hermoso!”

“Come with me and I’ll find your parents,” she said. The nagual slanted his conduct and there was no bargain in his eyes. He didn’t pronounce English.

She struggled to collect a long-forgotten phrases and put them together, disproportion like jigsaw pieces. Paul didn’t have a calm to learn Spanish and over a past decade, she’d intentionally strew it, usually like she’d altered so many other things about herself. She’d altered her clothes, her make-up, a approach she spoke, even a shows she watched.

“Puedes mirar lucha libre a mi casa,” she eventually pronounced and afterwards she had his courtesy again. He dismounted from a swing.

“Tengo hambriente,” he said. Of course. Feed him, wait for him to cocoon and he’d spin into a monster.

“Vamos,” she said. “Tengo comida.” She reason out her hand.

He took it yet censure and trotted alongside her.

In a darkness, they altered together to a shantytowns during a Wall’s base, eventually reaching West Sunset Drive.

The time was ticking divided and Paul would have called her phone dual or 3 times now, yet accepting was bad during UTEP. Anywhere too tighten to a Wall, accepting was bad. Please God, let him usually marker it adult to that. Sometimes she suspicion she’d rather splash whiten than take another punch.

As they walked, a nagual spoke in a quick swell of Spanish, yet a phrases gradually coagulated into something distinct as she remembered what she’d forgotten. He was seeking for explanations about all they walked past. The spiny handle on tip of a Wall. The speakers. The strobe lights warning that certain areas were out of bounds. What that form of automobile was. Why some people lived in a shacks in El Gueto and given some had houses with thick wooden doors and bumbling SUVs in a driveway.

The approach a nagual spoke reminded her of Felipe, full of consternation and fad about a world. It took her a while to comprehend what he was doing. He was training to spin some-more like a chairman so that no one would know he was a nagual until it was too late.

Even then, she continued to answer his questions. What did it matter anyway? Once Paul had him, all her answers would be mislaid on a autopsy table. Maybe her, too.

Somehow, conference a Spanish again kept a pain away. It was still there, partially buffered by oxycodone, yet not so bad during all. The deceptive clarity that maybe they should hurry, yet it was too pleasant, strolling palm in palm and vocalization Spanish.

Though they were holding hands, a nagual led her some-more than she led him. Sometimes, he’d spin down a travel and she had to yank him behind on a route behind towards a arena. He was so strong, it was like boring a pouch of petrify and it wasn’t until after he’d satisfied her goal that he’d indeed pierce a approach she wanted.

The third time he drifted towards a wrong street, it became pure that he was perplexing to conduct towards where she lived.

“We’re going in that direction,” she said. “But it’s going to be quicker if we go in a automobile and it’s parked a opposite way.”

“To where a song starts?” he said.

“What do we mean?”

He didn’t answer her question. “Why did we come here?”

“My father sent me here.” She shouldn’t tell him a damn thing, yet a disproportion came acrobatics out anyway. “I was going to get a genuine job, maybe as a waitress or housekeeper. Once we had a bit of income behind me, we was going to compensate a coyote to move everybody else. Our family had been farmers for generations, yet my grandfather mislaid a plantation after NAFTA.”

Talking about it felt good, finished it easy not to consider about what Paul competence do to her.

“My favorite luchador is a grandson of El Santo,” a nagual pronounced gravely. “I like a Jaguar, yet we like El Nieto del Santo more. He can locate bullets between his teeth.”

She laughed. “I doubt that. Did we know his grandfather was a many famous luchador in all of Mexico?”

The nagual shook his head, his eyes wide. “My favorite was a unequivocally aged one, too, Dr. Wagner. we watched him in a facade or a hair match, we can’t remember which. we consider they indeed upheld a facade on from rudo to rudo down a family, there were 4 or 5 Dr. Wagners. we haven’t watched it for so long.”

“Why?” he asked. “How can we adore something and afterwards forget that we preferred it?”

She forced a smile. For a child, it was all so simple. You preferred something and that never changed. “The year before we left, things were bad.” The cartels had been fighting over a new drug, yet a nagual didn’t need to know that. “I didn’t have time for lucha libre anymore.”

The nagual looked during her neatly and her bulb tightened with a lie. Even when life had been during a worst, she’d still watched it. It was usually after she’d met Paul that she’d stopped. They’d walked detached adequate towards a locus that they’d left El Gueto and were now on lifeless suburban streets, resounding blue radio light spilling out onto a sidewalk. Paul was substantially examination radio now, a images floating in a atmosphere in front of him. Maybe he was examination one of those forensics shows that cycled in and out of fashion. He knew a lot about forensics, what non-stop corpses revealed. Maybe he was sitting there, meditative about how he could kill her when she got home.

A H2O categorical had detonate in a street. To equivocate removing her boots wet, she directed them alongside a fraying handle blockade that apart a travel from a basketball court. The blue-and-red strobe lights indicated that a justice was out of finish during night, yet it didn’t demeanour like it had been played on for a prolonged time anyway.

“Why did we leave?” a child asked. “Is a song a same for you?” He finished no sense. Perhaps it was her Spanish, yet it was a second time he’d mentioned music.

“No, no music,” she said. “My pappy paid a coyote given we was aged adequate to be kidnapped and incited into a brewer. A week after we got over, a visitacion happened.” She looked during him sideways, yet he didn’t conflict to a discuss of a visitacion.

“What’s a brewer?” a child asked.

“A cervacero? They were people incited into mobile drug labs. They piss out drugs when we give them trigger foods.”

The nagual giggled and she satisfied he was shouting during her use of a word piss. “That’s a bold word.” He attempted it out. “Piss. Piss. Piss.”

Laughing, she carried her palm to mock-cuff him over a head.

The nagual stopped walking and a nictitating membranes slid opposite his eyes.

He suggested his teeth, hissing. Barely manifest behind a front quarrel of teeth were pearl-colored stabs of fangs, like tiny mountaintops poking by his gums.

He groped for her wrist. She avoided his palm by stumbling behind into a fence, instinctively throwing her arms adult over her face and afterwards folding herself down to a ground, creation herself as tiny a aim as possible. A roar in her throat, yet she choked it behind given when Paul strike her, screaming finished it worse. Once she’d had an unprotected haughtiness in a bad tooth and any time she’d talked, a upsurge of atmosphere means a terrible blazing scraping opposite a bone of her gum. Screaming was like that unprotected nerve. Whether she screamed didn’t make his fist whack into her physique any softer or any harder, yet somehow it finished his blows harm more.

It took her a impulse to comprehend 0 was function to her. She non-stop her eyes. The nagual hadn’t moved, a undetermined countenance on his face.

“That was badly timed,” he said. She inched herself upwards with a array of pointy gasps, any prong feeling rusted in place.

A tattered couple on a handle blockade had reason on her high collared shirt, ripping it open in several places.

He grabbed her by a wrist again and afterwards placed a palm on her waist. He kindly carried her arm. “When El Nieto del Santo grabs someone’s wrist, he always throws them on their back.” He incited his feet so that his hips propitious underneath hers, demonstrating how he was going to flip her over his shoulder.

He hadn’t been going to strike her. This lucha libre-obsessed visitor had suspicion it all prejudiced of a performance.

She started sobbing. Her physique hurt, a oxycodone had started to wear off, and a adrenaline of anticipating a nagual had ebbed.

Most of it was a nagual, though. Perhaps it was elementary biology, prejudiced of her anguish for a children she couldn’t have after years of Paul’s beatings. Maybe it was even given a nagual looked so many like Felipe, or during slightest how she remembered her tiny brother. It had been so long.

It finished no clarity to fake she didn’t know what it was anymore. She knelt so that she could demeanour a nagual in a eye. The transformation finished her wince. “You’re one of them,” she said. “A nagual.”

The suit of her kneeling finished a slice in her shirt gape. He tugged a fabric aside to exhibit flesh. The nagual legalised her with a child-like curiosity. He pulled a fabric aside to exhibit a plum-dark hash beneath.

“Did we get that in training?” he asked. They clearly undetermined him. “You need to work many harder on your timing.”

“No,” she said, her voice hoarse. “I’m not a luchadora. My husband. He hits me. She pulled herself divided and stood, incompetent to stop herself trembling. She never pronounced that before to anybody.

When she’d phoned a lady from a CASFV, she’d never directly pronounced a disproportion My husband, he beats me. Instead, she danced around it. My husband, we do not see eye to eye anymore. We do not know any other. We have grown apart.

Why hadn’t she pronounced it? Because if she’d pronounced it, afterwards all her adore for him was false. She was false. Had she always been wrong about Paul? Had he ever preferred her? He’d been so honeyed during initial and afterwards his disregard had hardened so solemnly that she didn’t know either it had been there all along. She’d started to doubt herself until she believed anything he pronounced about her. It was like she was a sandcastle on a beach and he’d been a tide. He’d carried her away, bit by bit, until there was 0 left of her.

The nagual waited for her to stop trembling. “Tengo hambriente.”

“I can’t give we food,” she replied. “You’ll go into your cocoon and when we come out, you’ll start eating people.”

The nagual giggled. “I wish something to eat during your house,” he said. “I wish to watch a lucha libre.”

“It’s unequivocally dangerous there,” she said. “My father researches naguals. They’ll disintegrate we given we managed to get over a Wall.”

This seemed to honestly startle a boy. “Because we come over a Wall? Why would they do that?”

“You’re not meant to be here.”

“But a song calls us. On a Wall. The machines on a Wall call us.”

Mary wanted to contend that, no, a loudspeakers were meant to repel a naguals. But as shortly as a child had pronounced it to her, she knew it was true.

Paul and his employees talked about nibbles and lures. They wanted a naguals to come over. One or dual during a time, usually to see what they did. They didn’t caring about this nagual and a non-functioning cameras, because, after all, it was usually a garland of wetbacks in el gueto.

“You can’t come to my house,” she said. “He’ll fire you.” Some tiny change in her viewpoint finished her wince. “He’ll disintegrate you. He’s finished me watch it before.” Bones tangled together like piles of cloak hangers, formless viscera that frantically strove to rearrange themselves, even as Paul dissected them.

The boy’s eyes widened. “Why would he do that?”

“Because you’re an alien. Because we came down here and we broken a nation that we came from. There used to be people in Mexico. All a people that used to live where we live now, they were my family. They were my friends.” Despite her words, she felt no heat. The visitacion had happened, yet so had a lot of other things. She couldn’t feel annoy during a nagual.

“We didn’t kill them,” a child said. “We didn’t know they were people. We were too bustling imitating other things given we didn’t know people during all.” He overwhelmed a peep in her shirt that suggested her bruises. “We still don’t know you.”

“Then what happened to everyone? We were told we killed everybody in Mexico.”

The nagual told her. Sometimes she accepted a Spanish immediately and infrequently they had to resist phrases retrograde and forwards until she’d finally grasped their meaning.

The nagual had landed or grown or maybe they had woken from a doze of a billion years. They’d already been detected when she’d crossed a limit with a coyote. Even behind then, a Americans were perplexing to pronounce to them.

They were a class driven towards imitation. To know something was to spin it.

The approach a nagual told it, there was a indicate where they had copied people adequate for a initial time to have some grasp of them as a unwavering species. And when they attempted to pronounce to a Americans, a bombs had forsaken on Mexico City. It did 0 to a naguals, yet after, they found themselves in a mostly lifeless city. The bombs had forsaken many serve North than a Government had ever let on and many of a refugees had been shot in a panic during a border.

To safety what they were perplexing to imitate, a Nagual rolled out a purple haze until they’d lonesome all of Mexico. They hadn’t unequivocally accepted any of a visitacion or even what was function now. The speakers on a Wall sang to them and some of them followed a sound.

There were still some people in Mexico, yet to keep them alive, they’d altered them so that they were roughly naguals. Some prejudiced of a survivors still remembered their tellurian selves and played out their aged roles, yet they had no bargain of why.

Some of a survivors were luchadores and a naguals know a lucha libre best of all. The combat, a roles between good and evil, a theatricality. Watching their half-human reclamations go by an eventuality finished clarity to a naguals in a approach that many other things didn’t.

Until recently, it wouldn’t have mattered that no one who followed a speakers ever came back. But now, they had copied good adequate to spin unwavering in a approach that humans were conscious. The child feared. The child thought. The child was.

Mary engrossed all this. “So, no one left remembers who they are?” Papa. Felipe. Everyone she loved.

“We are recreating what was there before. We will try to spin them. We will try to understand.” The nagual slanted his conduct like a dog available a yield from a master. “The song has stopped.”

She too listened to a night sounds. Traffic, a upsurge of a Rio Grande, song and detached shouts. An ambulance. But 0 of a bizarre song from a speakers on a Wall.

Paul would have satisfied she wasn’t opening home. He’d tighten down a dialect for a night so he could come demeanour for her.

When he found her, a questions would start. Did she go backstage to accommodate one of a wrestlers? Did she find a male to fuck in a parking lot? Was there some sweaty strikebreaker in a toilets?

Then, a punches when she didn’t tell a truth, or did tell a truth, or given of something she’d finished in a past, or something she was going to do.

She had nowhere to go. There wasn’t time to go behind to a refuge. She hadn’t satisfied that she was good until a nagual overwhelmed her soppy cheek.

“When we watch a lucha libre, they never do this,” he said, examining a tears dampening his fingertip. “They bleed, yet they never cry.”

“I’m scared.”


“My father will kill me. we was going to leave him, yet we couldn’t do it. we don’t have my papers. we don’t have anywhere to live. And now he’s going to kill me.”

The nagual overwhelmed a tear-stained finger to a mouth and afterwards wrinkled a nose during a taste.

She private her watch and hard-pressed a buttons until it powered down. The oxycodone was floating by her in waves, creation her conduct float and a pain was chainsawing during any dilemma in her body. It would have been smarter to give a watch to a stranger, yet she was tired. So unequivocally tired. She slumped to a ground.

“Aren’t we going to watch a lucha libre?” a nagual said.

She shook her conduct mutely. “It’s too hard. He’s too strong. There’s no examination a lucha libre. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” a nagual said.

She felt a drum throb of a drone’s moody reverberated in her skeleton before a sound of a engine. Paul. Once a watch powered down, he contingency have figured she’d left on a run and figured it was quicker poison for her by drone.

“Let’s play,” a nagual said. “I’m going to be El Jaguar. Who are we going to be?”

That finished her grin by her tears. “I don’t know. we wish to be a ruda.”

The worker floated around a corner. It was a front with a executive rotor, a pinhole camera on a petiole during a rotor’s top. A gun slid out from a interior, like a butterfly’s proboscis.

“You are a ruda?” a nagual asked.

“Yes, I’ll be a ruda,” she said. “Just like Dr. Wagner. Just like in my dream. He brought me to you.” Her disproportion didn’t even make sense. Christ. She pulled herself adult to her feet, a suit clawing during her insides.

The speakers in a drone’s side crackled into life. “Mary, is that you?” Paul said. At a sound of his voice, she flinched. Of march he knew it was her. The drone’s camera was high resolution.

A automobile incited into a street, a lights showering them, and afterwards a motorist saw a worker and quick corroborated away.

“Why are we here, Mary?” Paul said. “Is that a child subsequent to you? Is that a nagual?”

Her heart thumped too fast, her mind returning to a masked face of Dr. Wagner. She hiccupped for breath. A panic attack, a infirm relapse of a lady beaten so tough that her teeth would always be a tiny bit lax and a singular cold night would set her joints to painful yet she was usually twenty-five.

No. She collected herself and placed her palm on a nagual’s shoulder. “It talks. It’s intelligent. we wish to make an offer to your superiors, Paul. You’ve divided a worker from Washington, haven’t you? Turn on a feed and we’ll explain that we tracked down this nagual together.”

A discreet pause. “What’s your name?” he pronounced to a nagual.

“He doesn’t pronounce English,” she replied. “I don’t know, they’re training their denunciation from lucha libre or something.”

The worker forked itself so a gun was indicating directly during a nagual’s heart.

“Tell him your name,” she pronounced to a nagual.

“El Nieto del Santo,” a nagual pronounced proudly and she didn’t know either to giggle or cry.

The hiss of lifeless atmosphere by a speakers. “What do we wish in return?” Paul eventually said.

“I wish we to stop attack me. Can we guarantee me that? If we guarantee to stop attack me, I’ll give it to you. Washington doesn’t have to know. Just patch your trainer by and I’ll let him pronounce to a nagual.” The worker kept a gun on a nagual. “It’s harmless, Paul. They usually ever ate people when they didn’t comprehend we were sentient.”

“I know,” he said.

“Will we stop attack me?”

“I’ve never finished anything to you.” Even by a orator he pronounced it lightly, like a distortion was a easiest thing in a world, like he truly believed it was never his fault. Strutting like El Jaguar in her heat dream, while Dr. Wagner lay disposed on a canvas.

“You’re right. Forget about it.” She carried her palm to her shirt collar. “Your boss. Hand a control over to him and I’ll uncover him a nagual.”

A few seconds upheld and afterwards a opposite voice came over a speakers. “It’s Abraham Thompson here,” a male said. “Your father pronounced you’ve got something to uncover me?” When she listened his voice, she illusory an aged black male with a pepper-and-salt beard.

“The child subsequent to me is an intelligent nagual,” she pronounced calmly. “Take a clever demeanour during his face.” She gave a drone’s camera a few seconds to concentration on a nagual before vocalization again.

“I wish we to concentration a camera on me for a second, Mr. Thompson,” she said. The worker spun. “I was going to a woman’s retreat when we found him.” She reached adult to her collar and tore a front of her shirt downwards, buttons popping.

“Ms. Miller, what are we doing?” Abraham said, yet he stopped articulate when her torso was bare, lonesome usually by her bra. She reason her arms out by her side and incited slowly.

“This is what my husband, Paul Miller, did to me,” she said. Each hash on her physique revelation a story. “This is where he punched me in a stomach. See this prejudiced feet tread? This is where he kicked me. we know your association has a 0 toleration process for domestic violence.”

Silence and afterwards Abraham vocalization flatly over a worker speakers. “I’ve got control, Mr. Miller. Please don’t try and take it divided from me.”

Paul spoke frantically over a speaker. “She’s insane. We’re tighten to El Gueto. She’s gotten some thugs to kick her and set me up.”

She unbuttoned her pants and forsaken them to a belligerent so that she stood in a street, usually wearing her underwear. More people upheld during a finish of a street, studiously ignoring both her and a drone.

A prolonged arc of skin on her thigh was as well-spoken as aged leather. “Three years ago, he used a prohibited iron to bake my leg. There’s a sanatorium record. we told a alloy that we did it to myself, yet we don’t consider he believed me. There’d be notes.” She forked to a prolonged injure usually over her hip. “Eight months ago, a span of scissors. we gave a fake name to a hospital, yet they should have me on confidence footage.”

“She’s lying,” Paul said. “Christ, she’s lying.” A prolonged moan from him. Christ, he was crying. Blubbering like a fucking child.

When she’d initial met Paul as he ran by El Gueto, chasing some exile nagual (flaps of skin instead of eyes and orifices, gill slits flaring along a neck), she’d been struck by how tough he seemed. His physique finished her consider of a luchador, short, yet thick and well-muscled. Un cuerpo corpulente. If she hadn’t been so young, she wouldn’t have been tender that he’d stopped chasing a nagual to pronounce to her. But during sixteen and frightened, she hadn’t famous how a face was a mask, how a male could change his purpose from técnico to rudo. She’d been immature adequate to subconsciously mistake looks for personality. She’d suspicion she indispensable a clever male to strengthen her. A luchadora didn’t need protection.

“How could we set me adult like that?” Paul said, his disproportion punctuated by tiny sobs. “After all I’ve finished for you, how could we set me up?”

“Mary,” Abraham Thompson said, his voice soothing. “Let me send a automobile for you.”

“No,” she said, her voice hard. “No soy Mary. Soy Marquetta.” Marquetta. Meaning war-like.

A pause. “Marquetta. Your father won’t be an worker of a company. I’ll send a automobile for we and a nagual.”

She groped for a nagual’s palm and he took it yet question. “Never trust a ruda,” she hissed.

Without a word exchanged between them, she and a nagual ran. It felt like her bulb were bursting open with a hot, blazing pain, yet she gritted her teeth and screamed, half in pain, half in triumph.

A lucha libre compare wasn’t particularly a matter of choreography. It was closer to an makeshift dance. One luchador had to give a other a correct hold, so that his competition could feel how he was meant to react. The arms of both partners shaped a support so that a losing luchador could tumble painlessly and, some-more importantly, beautifully. The finish was known, yet a paths to a match’s execution were endless. One yank from her and a nagual was regulating alongside her. A change in his hips and afterwards she was following him.

Without any disproportion between them, they returned to where she’d found a nagual, a blue-and-red light still flashing opposite a lifeless playground. The reggaetón was still blaring, yet there was no some-more Pedro Vargas.

The pain was like a bell, toll brightly and clean by her, yet her mind was on some other level. She and a nagual walked by a shacks of El Gueto towards a wall. Despite a hour, there were still many people walking between a shacks, celebration beer, personification cards, sharpened up. Once they were wakeful she was walking among them, a group watched her. The usually light came from lights bending to a diesel generators and when she was in darkness, they wolf-whistled and cried out “¡Oye, rechonchita!” yet afterwards she’d pass into a light and they’d see her bruises and tumble silent.

They walked by El Gueto into a desert. They walked for a while, red mud underneath her unclothed feet, a hills and a lights of El Paso behind her. The moon was a splinter and a pain infrequently took her legs from underneath her, yet any time she stumbled, a nagual was there to locate her.

Spikes had been beaten into a Wall in sequence to yield handholds. At a top, a singular slight handle of spiny handle had been snipped so that a chairman could stand over. She was a massive woman, a brew of flesh and fat, yet she’d usually fit by a gap. Underneath a initial spike lay an lifeless parcel of Red Man lax root nipping tobacco.

“There are other places we can stand a Wall?” she said.

“Yes,” he said, fixing another dozen locations.

“After we eat, we spin a cocoon?”

“What’s a cocoon?”

“Do we eat people?”

Indecision played opposite a nagual’s face. “Not any more. Before, when we didn’t know what we were.”

She suspicion of her grandfather, a cornfields that were meaningless after NAFTA. She suspicion of a cartels, a voracious direct for drugs from a United States. She suspicion of a undocumented armies of workers, both preferred and unwanted. She suspicion of a refugiados, a unconstrained years harsh down their souls until what was left was as sour as acid.

“They lane we by those,” she said, indicating to a cameras. “Before we come over, destroy them. If we wish to embrace us, come over when a song isn’t playing, when they don’t design you. Don’t eat people. Don’t come over looking like children. And hell, don’t pronounce about lucha libre so much.”

The nagual placed his hands and a feet on a climbing spike. “You’re not utterly right, we know,” she said. “The pure eyelid. Lots of animals have them, yet humans usually have a undeveloped one.” She tugged during a tragus, a tiny strap of skin during a front of her ears, and afterwards non-stop her mouth to exhibit her teeth. “Nothing significant, yet people will notice.”

She patted a nagual on a rear. “Go.” It started to stand a spikes.

Marquetta flexed her hands and rolled her shoulders. It would have been an easy climb, if she’d been healthy. The suspicion of a pain that would accompany any step finished it daunting. Still, she could make it. She’d always been strong, clever adequate to combat some of a lighter group in lucha libre practice. It had been a prolonged time given she’d trained, though. Paul had always favourite her skinnier and prettier than she ever could be.

Just when she placed her feet on a initial spike, Paul called out in English. “Bitch. You’ve busted me, we know that? You’ve busted me, we fucking bitch.”

She took her time branch around. Paul had his revolver out, a sights delicately directed during her chest. The primer automobile was parked behind him. Tears and slime streaked his face.

She stared during him coldly. “What do we think’s going to happen, Paul? You can fire me, yet afterwards what? It’s all over, Paul. They know what we are. They’ve seen underneath that facade that we wear.”

Paul’s finger flexed on a trigger. Small things stood out. The approach his palm trembled, his finger flexing on a trigger. How a tears had blotched his face. Paul marched forward, his boots kicking adult clouds of mud in a moonlight. He stopped usually a few feet away, too detached to squeeze a gun, too tighten for his tremor palm to make any disproportion to a correctness of his shot.

The titillate to tighten her eyes was roughly overwhelming, yet she wasn’t going to cover her conduct or demeanour divided from him. He’d have to kill her while looking loyal into her eyes.

The seconds upheld by while he didn’t shoot. She incited her behind on him and placed her feet on a initial spike.

Each step harm and during any spike she approaching a shot in her back, yet there was nothing. She climbed a Wall, spike by spike, any step slashing during her insides, tears regulating down her cheeks. Somewhere along a way, a shot rang out underneath her, yet it didn’t strike her, so she didn’t care. Paul had shot himself. Paul had shot into a air. Either way, he had 0 to do with her now.

When she reached a top, a nagual was there. The space over a Wall was hidden in a purple fog.

“What’s on a other side?” she said.

“Everything we’re perplexing to understand,” he pronounced and afterwards he stepped off. He dead yet a sound.

With a grunt of effort, she hauled herself onto a slight opening where a spiny handle had been cut away.

El Paso stretched off to a horizon. Nothing yet lights as detached as she could see. It was pleasing and she could have preferred it, yet Paul had marred it for her. She’d come here and met a wrong man. That was all. She’d mislaid who she was. She looked down. Paul was splayed during a Wall’s base, a route of blood leaking from his head, his gun reason loosely.

She incited towards Ciudad Juárez. In a darkness, it was like she station on a dilemma of a vast, dim ocean. All a radio reports pronounced a haze never altered and Paul had told her a same, yet as she stood there, a haze rolled away.

Mexico stretched out underneath her. It was both cleaner and foreigner than she remembered, a naguals rebuilding it from a fragmented memories of a remaining quasi-humans. Buildings that altered like flowers rambling towards a sun, streets filled with naguals that had copied Santa Muerte instead of a genuine person. The Victoria Theatre, cleaner and incomparable than it had been, station in a center of a flapping sands of Médanos de Samalayuca. Chichen Itza floating like a fondle vessel in a center of Lake Texcoco. Trucks pushing by a front opening of a Palacio de Bellas Artes. It was all there, yet maybe it indispensable her to learn them. Someone who’d mislaid who she was could assistance them know what they’d found.

The smell of boiled churros, Coca-Cola, cigarettes, and persperate wafted upwards. The nagual was watchful during a Wall’s base, his hands outstretched to locate her.

Marquetta sealed her eyes. She was station on a ropes of a ring, a vanquished técnico fibbing disposed on a mat. The throng was screaming abuse during her, a spotlight focused on her. The técnico was Paul. It had been a Luchas de Apuestas match, where a facade was during interest and a crook would exhibit who he was. She’d finished him off. She’d won. Marquetta stepped off a dilemma as a throng roared.


Nick Tchan (writing as Nick T. Chan) is a author from Sydney, Australia. He’s sole stories to Writers of a Future, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Galaxy’s Edge. In further to pointless and antagonistic acts of authoring, Nick works as an enlightening engineer for a village investment consultancy. He and his mother also try to lift a tiny child who has already surpassed during slightest him in intelligence. Because he does not possess a cat, he has prolonged doubted his legitimacy as a suppositional novella writer.

Please visit Lightspeed Magazine to review some-more good scholarship novella and fantasy. This story initial seemed in a Jun 2016 special issue, led by guest editors Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim, with editorial contributions from Nisi Shawl, Grace L. Dillon, Berit Ellingsen, Arley Sorg, and Sunil Patel. It facilities 10 original, never-before-published brief stories, and 10 strange peep novella stories by writers such as Steven Barnes, Karin Lowachee, Sofia Samatar, Terence Taylor, Caroline M. Yoachim, and more. It also includes 5 classical reprints, by a likes of Samuel R. Delany and Octavia E. Butler; an array of nonfiction articles, interviews, and book reviews; and some-more than dual dozen personal essays from people of tone deliberating their practice as readers and writers of scholarship fiction. To buy a whole issue, or to learn some-more about a “Destroy” series, revisit Enjoy a destruction!

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