The Nogales Incident [Short Story]

Intro: This week’s assignment was to re-interpret/reimagine a classic fairy tale. Enjoy.

After-Incident Report 7756 – Fort Huachuca – 31.8801 (lat) x -109.7543 (long) – Southwestern Continental Territory – Special Agents Collins, FA and Rigen LM reporting – transcript via automated systems Zx10010 – Interview with LIA (local indigenous administrator) Juarez, ZL. Contextual information: Juarez ZL, approximately 55-standard annum, approximately 1.5748 meters tall, approximately 81.6466 Kilograms, no known allergies, no known illnesses, current LIA rotation 9-months, position held over 30 annum.

Juarez: Before we begin, can you guys turn some lights on in here, I’m not used to working when it’s this dark.

Special Agent Collins, adjusts to photo-limiter: Mr. Juarez, what can you tell us about the incident on 21 May Universal-Standard-Calendar 7058?

Juarez: Ummm…

Special Agent Collins: … That’s when you first took over as LIA a little over 30-standard-annum.

Juarez: Oh, right, okay… Let’s see… Oh, okay, you guys want to know what happened just before what you call the Nogales Incident…

Special Agent Collins: Please, Mr. Juarez, do not speculate. Just tell us what you remember around 21 May.

Juarez: Sure, okay, let’s see… well, this area alway had a lawless rep with illegals crossing back and forth across the then border as far back as anyone can remember and it was my job to make sure that everyone was documented and accounted for, being one of few who knew how to read and write in Ingles. So I was used to the usual flow of human traffic.

Special Agent Collins: 21 May?

Juarez: Well, several months before the date the traffic changed. I mean, it used to be only young men would hazard the crossing, but maybe four- or six-months before the date little kids started coming across, sometimes in groups, a lot of them completely alone. What the hell was that all about? We just passed them off to some government agency and let them worry about it.

Special Agent Collins: 21 May?

Juarez: Right, so, not my job, man, I just filled out government forms and helped those who could afford it to find other family members in the territory. But we knew that there had to be some adults helping all these kids make the journey, but they never showed on any of the sensors or cams, just dozens and hundreds of children running the last 500-meters across the open border. And managing these kids was getting more and more difficult. A lot of officers and agents quit around this time because we were never set up to handle this kind of group and certainly not in the numbers that were coming.

Special Agent Collins: And…

Juarez: So, I’m thinking that maybe I should look for something else to do. I mean, processing kids, it’s one thing to send adults off to some camp until they can be processed, you don’t worry that anything will happen to them because, well, they’re adult… but kids… Yesus, some weren’t even ten. So, this one little girl is being worked through the system and no one can help her find her abuelita… and she starts to make a real ruckus, because no one can help her… I mean, it was really upsetting.

Special Agent Collins: And then?

Juarez: And then she just disappeared.

Special Agent Collins: Disappeared?

Juarez: Yeah, someone lost track of her and she didn’t show up on any follow-up surveys.

Special Agent Collins: So what does any of this have to do with 21 May?

Juarez: At the time we didn’t think it had anything to do with anything. But when things started to really fall apart we did an internal report and one of the officers remembered her saying something about getting the Coyote who lied to her, that she was going to fix things.

Special Agent Collins: Coyote?

Juarez: The adults who help the illegals make the crossing…

Special Agent Collins: And?

Juarez: So, like I said, we didn’t think anything about it, until a couple weeks after we lost track of the girl, bodies started showing up, first in the local area and then across the region.

Special Agent Collins: Bodies? Kids?

Juarez: No, adults… usually young men… the first few were ID’d as being part of the Coyote-trade… at first we thought they’d double-crossed some drug lord… good-riddance and all that… then drug lords started showing up in the morgues…

Special Agent Collins: I don’t understand…

Juarez: Best we can tell, that little girl we lost track of wasn’t so helpless after all, and then something clicked, and all of those thousands of kids we’d sent to camps realized that there were hundreds of them to every single adult. 21 May. No one thought they’d turn violent… they torched everything and killed everyone … I survived because I had a panic-room and could wait it out until the smoke cleared…

Special Agent Collins: How long was that?

Juarez: Hmmm… Let’s see… a little over 18-months…

Special Agent Collins: … What?

Juarez: Yeah, those little buggers were vicious and I wasn’t taking any chances… but eventually they needed someone who could communicate with the outside world, so I became useful. And I wasn’t any threat to them… I mean, look at me, even then I was just a short-fat mechliano… who could read and write. So, we stayed out of each other’s way and things pretty much settled down.

Special Agent Collins: Wow, well, I’m sure you’re glad that those days are over.

Juarez: Like I said, we stayed out of each other’s way and I did okay, doing the paperwork and all that.

Special Agent Collins: Right. Anything else you can tell us about the little girl?

Juarez: Hmmm… Nope, nothing that I can think of.

Special Agent Collins: Ok, we’ll…

Juarez: Oh yeah, one thing, what you call the Nogales Incident we call “El Dia de la Roja Mija.”

Special Agent Collins: The Day of the Red Girl?

Juarez: Here, let me show you something…

Special Agent Collins [to recording device]: LIA Juarez is handing a old photograph to me…

Juarez: See that splash of red at the center of the image? It’s only image that we have of her to identify her… her and her damned red-hoodie.


image: NPR Borderland – documentary/app,

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