In my dream I was running through an open desert, running for my life. Instead of my usual jeans and sweatshirt, I was wearing the dress my mother had sewn for me when I was sixteen. My running shoes were split at the seams. I could feel the bite of jumping cholla grabbing at my feet, penetrating the thin canvas of the running shoes and embedding into my flesh. It hurt terribly.
In the twilight ahead of me all I could see was miles and miles of desert, scattered with rocks and cholla, prickly pear and yuccas. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep running and yet I knew my life depended on it. Somewhere behind me something terrible was hunting me and I had to keep moving. I had to keep running.
Then suddenly, there was Lazo! Out of the desert he came, running to me. He reached me, pulled me into his arms and hugging me closely.
“Pearl!” he shouted,” it’s me! It’s Lazo!”
Then he was kissing me full on the mouth. It was wonderful! Lazo’s body clinging to mine, hugging me while he passionately kissed me.
Suddenly I was awake, but the dream continued.
Crouching next to my bunk bed, holding me in his arms ,WAS Lazo! And he WAS kissing me. And it WASN’T a dream.
“Pearl! I’m back,” he said. “It’s all right! I’m back!”
“Lazo,” I said, “ you’re ….what happened? Are you okay?”
Suddenly my senses caught up to me and I realized that I was in my cell underneath the General Hospital. But the door to the cell was open and Lazo was at my side on the cot. At the doorway I could make out another figure–Filomino Brancos. He turned and walked away the door and down the hallway.
“I’m fine now.” Lazaro said, helping me up from the cot. “Pearl, a lot has happened. Come on, Mr. Nez has called a general meeting. Everyone has to come. Lots to tell.”
As I followed him to the hallway, I heard a whimper and saw Vida waiting at the door, her tail wagging madly. But I had to stop.
“Lazo,” I said, grabbing him by the arm. “You’re not the spy. Right? Look me in the eye and tell me you are NOT the spy!”
He turned to me with a grin on his face. Down the hall Filomino and his guards were releasing the other zombie raiders from their cells.
“Pearl,” Lazo replied, “there is no spy. There never was.”
“Huh,” I said.
“Come on, Mr. Nez will explain everything.”
“Listen up!” Mr. Nez said, entering the crowded auditorium of the Mano Poderosa headquarters deep under the Los Angeles County/USC General Hospital.
It was a few minutes later and I was seated in the front row of the auditorium between Lazaro and Gus Dominguez. The other zombies that had made up the Joshua Tree assault team–Jimmy Yazzie, Mario Garcia, Jenny Mendez, Betty Hernandez, Sal Durón, the Gómez twins–were seated around us. Lazo held my hand tightly.
Mr. Nez surveyed the audience of some two hundred zombies.
“I’m afraid we owe you all an apology,” he said.
Well, that caused a stir in the group! An apology from Mr. Nez, really? I turned to Lazo. He looked back at me and gave me a “watch what’s coming now” nod of his head.
“We’ve discovered with almost 100% certainty that one or more zombies from the Oñate camp can read minds. Zombie minds. Our minds.”
The room erupted into loud talking as everyone suddenly reacted to the news. Within moments, Gus Dominguez’s voice soon rose above the din.
“Mr. Nez,” Gus said, “How the heck do you know all this?”
“We’ve long suspected that the Onate genealogical bloodline had distinct characteristics that gave his descendants special powers. But we never suspected that it could involve the ability to read minds. But it evidently does. I’m convinced Oñate himself can read minds. Needless to say, this is a game changer of the highest order.”
The talking and commenting subsided as the import of Mr. Nez’s words sunk in. I turned to Lazo and found to my surprise that he had what I could only describe as an unmistakable smile on his face.
“Lazo!” I whispered, “What are you smiling about? This is serious shit!”
Lazo turned to me and nodded, the smile fading from his face.
“Sorry. I just saw this moment coming some time ago. Yes, it is serious, more serious than you know.”
“We’re certain,” Mr. Nez continued, “that’s how they infiltrated our main headquarters downtown and planted the shrapnel bomb that blew open the heads of so many of us.”
“Is that how they found out about our planned attack on their Big Bear compound?” asked Jenny Mendez.
“Yes, without a doubt.”
“What a minute,” Gus probed, “how is that possible? We were training miles from their compound. And when we showed up their compound was completely abandoned, that would have taken days of work. They must have known for some time before our attack.”
“That’s correct, Gus,” Filomino Brancos intervened. “We know for a fact that their mind-reading ability can span miles. We suspect they had a plant in Joshua Tree or nearby, eavesdropping on our daily training and on our plans for the attack.”
“How do you know so much about these mind-readers?” Sal Durón wanted to know.
“We know because as of yesterday, we have a mind-reader of our own.”
Once again the room erupted in noisy talking as voices asked the obvious questions.
“Who is it?”
“Is he here?”
“Is he a spy?’
“Why weren’t we told?”
“Can he read our minds right now?”
Mr. Nez motioned for everyone to calm down.
“In answer to the last question. Yes, he can read our minds right now. But he won’t.”
“Who is it?”
“How can we be so sure?”
To my surprise Mr. Nez turned to Lazaro and nodded for him to speak. Lazaro stood up next to me, letting go of my hand. He turned to face the entire auditorium. He glance down at me and made eye contact before he spoke to the assembled zombies.
“As some of you saw, I had a seizure two day ago. The seizure was…physiologically and transformative. When I came out of it, I found I had the ability to read minds. I can read zombie minds throughout this hospital and in the surrounding area. If I focus, and I’m still learning to do this, I can read minds as far away as downtown. That’s several miles.”
“Well, you stay out my mind, damn it!” Said Betty Hernández emphatically.
“Yeah,” Jimmy Yazzie joined in, “don’t you dare read my mind!”
“That’s right,” said Jenny Mendez, “get the hell out of my head!”
And that is exactly what I was thinking.
“Lazaro” I said mentally, “Are you reading my mind now?”
I watched him closely and saw he didn’t react to my question, his attention still focused on the audience before him. But I knew Lazaro was smart. He could easily try to fool me if he wanted to. Was he putting on for me? Was all of this a big pretense?
I looked down and saw Vida asleep on the floor near by. She looked so innocent sleeping there, as if she was dead. Where do zombie dogs go when they die? Is there a heaven for zombie dogs? Suddenly I had an idea. I consciously formed a powerful thought in my mind. “Oh my God, look at Vida, she’s dead!”
Still no response from Lazo.
That convinced me. If Vida’s death didn’t jar him then he really wasn’t reading my mind.
Just then Mr. Nez spoke again.
“I want to assure you all that Lazaro is very ethical. He has sworn not to read anyone’s mind unless asked to do so by that person. He has the ability to “tune” in and out of minds. And he will not tune in, as I say, unless you ask him to. You have nothing to fear from him.”
“Why the heck would anyone want him to read their mind?” María, one of the Gómez twins, wanted to now.
“We’ll get to that in a minute.” Mr. Nez replied. “Right now I want to underscore how important Lazaro is for us. His gift is a boon to our cause. Because of it, we now know that Onate and his clan can read minds. We didn’t know that before. Now know we have to be on guard, we can make plans. But Lazaro’s gift has another dimension.”
He turned to look at Lazaro.
“Lazaro,” he said.
Once again Lazaro addressed the group.
“At Filomino’s request, I experimented reading his mind. Together we came up with a way in which he could block me from reading his mind. Even when I wanted to, I couldn’t do it.’
“That’s right,” Filomino said. “With Lazaro’s help, we can teach all of you how to block Oñate and his clan from reading your minds. “
I could feel a sense of relief spread around me and the others let their guard down.
“And this is going to be the order of business for the next week or two,” Mr. Nez said. “All of us, myself included, will undergo rigorous training by Lazaro and Filomino. At the end of our training I want to make sure that every single one of us has a defense against Oñate’s mind readers.”
“Listen up!” Filomino said, assuming his role as our dogged taskmaster. “You’ll get training assignments tomorrow. But for now you can go back to your regular sleeping quarters and relax. The commissary has a new shipment of fresh lamb eyeballs and cat guts, they’ll be open all night. Again we’re sorry about having to put you in the cells. We just couldn’t take any chances.”
As the meeting began to break up, Lazaro came over to me.
He looked me in the eyes with great sincerity.
“Pearl, You know I would never violate your mind.”
Then he glanced over at Vida, The sounds of everyone leaving the room had suddenly woken her from her nap.
“Look at Vida,’ Lazaro said, “For a moment she looked like she was dead. Gee, I wonder where zombie dogs go if they die. Is there a heaven for zombie dogs?”
Copyright 2014 by Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.