We had parked the beat up Honda civic at the parking lot of the Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark. The asphalt lot was empty. An adjacent structure housed several men/women porta potties. Ahead of us, clearly visible a mile away, was the famed Amboy Crater.
La Señora Falcón assured me that there was absolutely no way she was going to hike the mile to the base of the Amboy crater to ascertain whether or not there were more entrances to the Oñate zombie cave.
Mija,” she said to me, “you do it. We need to know what’s there, but I’m not up to the hike. Even after all these centuries.”
I was dying to find out about La Señora’s backstory but somehow we had never had the chance to talk about it. And yet, I knew she had to be several hundred years old. My queries would have to wait. La Señora gave me a direct look in the eye
“Con ganas, Pearl! Dale con ganas!”
I looked down at her ample midriff and realized she was right.
“You stay here,” I replied. “I’ll be back in an hour.”
The one mile trek from the parking lot of the Amboy National Landmark parking area to the base of the Amboy Crater itself, which some park ranger cruelly labeled a “leisurely walk,” was in fact a taxing meandering trail through a desert landscape full of sand, lava overflows and rock out-croppings. Now and then I’d lose the trail and wander off until I noticed I was heading away from the Amboy Crater instead toward it.
One thought kept recurring in my mind as I stumbled over lava rocks. If we were really going to attack the Oñate compound buried underneath the crater, we’d have to first traverse this hostile terrain on foot. Oñate and his minions, without a doubt, would be waiting for us–hiding in these sand dunes, behind these lava crusts, laying traps for us in the soft sand.
The importance of my mission was even more evident to me now. I was so engaged with my thoughts of how we might traverse the terrain that it took a moment for the voices I heard to register.
“Que van hacer?”
“Oye, where are you taking us?” This is not the migra detention camp”
“Shut up, spics! It’s a new facility we opened up just for you.”
The voices I heard were coming from over an adjacent ridge, close to the base of the crater. I slowed my walk, crouched down and began to inch my way to the top of a sand dune to see what was happening on the other side.
When I reached the crest of the sand dune, I peered cautiously over the top. Below me I could see a border patrol van unloading a dozen immigrants into the desert at the base of the Amboy Crater.
I’m pretty smart but I have to admit it took a moment for what my eyes to really register what was going on.
Two border patrol agents held a group of a dozen immigrants at gun point. The immigrants had exited the van and were sitting on the sand adjacent to the side of Amboy Crater, despair in their faces. The one of the border agent spoke into a walkie talkie.
“Control, this is Agent Suarez. We have the package and are ready for delivery.”
I heard a quiet purring sound. It took a moment for me to identify it as mechanical. There was some kind of electrical and mechanical apparatus at work close by. Then I saw it. The lava rocks at the side of the crater incline began to move. Suddenly, they moved en masse as a large metal door appeared at the side of the Crater.
The metal door opened and several zombies, also dressed as border patrol agents, stepped out to meet the newcomers from a long corridor that I could see extended at a sharp incline into the bowels of the crater.
“We’ll take it from here Suarez,” one of the men said.
The confused and frightened immigrants were hustled with little compassion into the corridor leading into the depths of the crater.
The entire process took only a few minutes. Soon the double metal doors were closing, the exterior lava rock facade covering where the entrance had been, was sealed. Suddenly, there was no evidence of an entrance having existed-only the dull, lava rock side of the Amboy Crater.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a good cold one,” the agent known as Suarez said to the other.
“Type O’s, my favorite,” the other border agent replied.
“Let’s see what we can find on the road back to the border.”
They laughed, got into the green and white border patrol van and drove off across the demanding terrain.
I was aghast.
This is what La Señora had told us about. That Onate’s clan was masquerading as the Border Patrol to capture unsuspecting immigrants entering into the US from Mexico and Latin America
and using them as food.
I could only presume that the underground Oñate compound was nothing less than a holding station for these poor unfortunates whose future lay as a meal for Oñate zombies.
After the border patrol van had left, I walked up close to where the door had been and examined the lava rocks. I could see where they were adhered to the metal of the steel-reinforced double doors, providing an excellent disguise.
But were there other entrances to Oñate’s secret compound?
It took me only another hour to circumnavigate the base of the crater. Then I hiked into the trail on the South side leading to the crest overlooking the cradle of the crater itself. Looking down from the ridge into the belly of the Amboy Crater nothing looked out of place.
Yet I knew underneath the crater was a labyrinth of tunnels and caverns of the Oñate compound.
It took another hour, hiking in the western and southern slopes of the crater to discover two other entrances. In addition to the eastern entrance I had seen through my binoculars, and the northern entrance where the immigrants had been sequestered, I found a western entrance and a southern entrance.
Suddenly I was nervous. Was I being watched by secret cameras? Would I be apprehended next and taken down that corridor below the crater?
I realized that la Señora and I really should be getting out of here. I had gotten the crucial intel we needed and my job now was to get it back to Mr.Nez as soon as I could,
My return walk was more of a run to the parking lot.
I was relieved to see La Señora Falcón sitting under the canopy of parking lot picnic structure sipping from a bottle of water–even zombies can get dehydrated.
“Let’s go!” I said racing to the car.
“Mija, what happened?”
“Let’s go! I got the information we need. We’re in danger. Gotta go!”
La Señora Falcon was about to speak when suddenly both of our cell phones started beeping.
I flashed mine open and saw the text message: “Sunstroke.”
La Señora had received the same text message. Without a word, La Señora Falcón raced to the car and jumped into the driver’s seat. I ran right with her and got into the passenger seat. joined her in a heartbeat even as she swung the car into reverse and then floored it forward as she raced us out of the parking lot.
I just hoped we would make it back to our rendevous point with Lazaro and Filomino with our valuable information. My eyes searched the road ahead and behind us for a green and white van. Or perhaps something worse.
Copyright by Lazaro De La Tierra and Barrio Dog Productions Inc.