As told to the editors of michaelparracallas.com by Maximiliano Plata
From the Chronicles of the Hummingbird Group: Sheepdog Files. Mr. Ernest Red House, full-blood Navajo, ex, and always, a United States Marine; “black sheep” Medicine Man and co-founder of Grupo Colibri. “Demons on Two Wheels,” from Night Ride 7.
“When you ride two wheels, at night, high speed, you know there’s ghosts out there,” says Sheepdog.
He’s right. These “ghosts” of a thousand descriptions just love our physicality and the sensation humans produce: in this case, there’s some tasty danger in the wind and dark. Sometimes the critters, aliens and ancestors we call ghosts simply touch our experience, and sometimes they feed on it.
We corporeal humans have essence the ghosts miss and want, and that desire-hunger plays out a million ways, resulting, for one, in all the different types of entities that pass as “ghosts.”
Bikers, sort of, have a solution for some of that ghostly activity, considering how close to the ground and out-in-the-open riders are when they ride. Bikers hang a little bell on the motorcycle’s undercarriage. The consistent ringing of metal on metal frightens away the ghoulies-ghosties to avoid freak accidents, bad luck, police speed traps, rival riders and so forth. The little bell does the trick, some of the time.
Sheepdog had planned an afternoon ride to Jemez for an overnight retreat, a special place for him, and nothing out of the ordinary. The ride, however, doesn’t happen until after sundown.
Sheepdog passes Bernalillo, NM going about 100 mph on a New Moon on the darkest leg of the trip when a glowing gray mass, the size and shape of a flattened basketball, perches on the right side of the Harley’s faring, flapping and throbbing, transforming itself.
From any view other than the biker’s seat, the anomaly on the faring would appear as a fog, possibly as large as the whole motorcycle, depending on where the viewer stands.
No one worries much about Sheepdog in any form of darkness, being he’s a master of the same. That also means, however, that when something comes at him from the dark, the event is definitely job related.
“Anyone else on the highway, I’d be wiener stuffing,” says Sheepdog, passing the ritual cigars to the group. Escaping the Reaper deserves some ceremony.
The flattened basketball, zombie thing, throbs as it pushes limbs out from the gray mass. It takes on form, accompanied by the nose-racking stench that only demonic level ghosts can conjure.
“I let off the throttle, tested the brake and tried to downshift,” says Sheepdog, taking a puff of his cigar, “Nada.”
The oblong twisting thing on the faring achieves two solid limbs and the hint of fangs: two-digits each claw, aiming at Sheepdog, thrusting. Then a big round eye pops from the gray mass, blood red and purple, and fortunately, looking the wrong way.
There’s a dagger in Sheepdog’s boot…if he can put that dagger between his belly button and the demon, he’ll repel the demon, though likely crash in the process.
“Is that when you see the Twins?” asks Juanita, a twin herself.
“Shh,” says Max’s girlfriend, Serafina, “We’re supposed to wait, Juanita.”
Happy he can still steer, Sheepdog “throws his eyes” into his attacker, an offensive move that may be too late, but since it does lots more than stare, it’s worth a shot. The zombie looks more like a wicked, pissed, badger, especially as the two fangs, now well-formed, glitter red and white.
“Got to throw the eye-forks in, ‘fore you can oust the monster,” says Sheepdog.
His magic eyes occupied, Sheepdog’s normal vision espies a welcome site. The Group’s two helper Duendes, Dwarves, are on the roadside, floating close to the ground, hovering, as they always appear.
Today they bring a fuller pastoral scene into the play. In their customary Mexican farmworker-issue, cotton whites, they shepherd a herd of goats who are calmly meandering, as they “Bah” loudly, across the highway, about 100 yards ahead.
Throwing the eyes might have done something. The blood red eye shifts, somewhat desperately, around the former flat basketball, now badger, trying to find a place to focus. Almost comical.
The herd of goats create a certain mass of energy, adding to the energy from the unchecked Harley. Both masses of power collide in the wind on that highway, at that moment.
The goats act upon the Harley, like the zombie’s energy acted on the bike and rider moments before, a counter energy.
The badger’s teeth are stretching it seems, but the eye never finds its target, and now the two-wheeler slows way down causing demon and rider to wobble.
“By then I had my dagger,“ says Sheepdog, meaning he was able to slip it under his belt buckle against his skin.
The high carbon steel of that old Mexican dagger has been consecrated by two tribes and its medicine people for just one purpose – demons. Steel always affects the ghosts and demons, but this steel flat stops them, cancels them. The zombie-basketball-badger vanishes. They can come back later, but this gets them for the moment.
“There’s only one demon we know can take over engines like that,” muses Juanita, mostly to herself.
“It’s Cabral,” Serafina says, for the world to hear, “our old nemesis.”
“Shh,” says Juanita, “Not supposed to say it out loud.”
“Unless it’s to put him on notice,” says Max, “Time we find a new nemesis.”
Sheepdog regains control of the Harley, pulls over and parks. The two duendes hover atop a flatbed pickup going slowly the other direction. One Duende smokes a cigar, waves at Sheepdog, the other holds up a shot of Tequila. Sheepdog nods with a bow of gratitude.