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"You should be more worried about losing your license to practice medicine after failing to help me shut down what could very well be an infectious outbreak."

"Agent Tolson," growled Wahkan, "if you believed the girl was contagious you wouldn’t even be in the building."

To this Clyde had nothing more to say. Dr. Trochmann flashed a raised eyebrow and wry smile at Tolson, as if to say, "He's got you."

"Excuse me, sir," said Felt, "but do you think this girl's bone cyst or whatever it is will have any bearing on the murder investigation?"

Tolson said, "This bone cyst and how the girl got it is part of the DECON investigation in Headwater. Her murder...complicates things somewhat. It becomes a Bureau case, but we're not currently set up to carry it out. I put in a call to the Director, and here you are. There is another young lady with the same bone cup, a Miss Sofie Krause, and I presume she’s still alive and hiding somewhere in this very, very small town. So, Special Agent Sullivan, I thank you for fetching Special Agent Felt, but you know what, and you know when."

"I do indeed, Mr. Tolson," said Sullivan. He put on his gray fedora, tipping it in turn to the sheriff, the two doctors, and Felt as he made his farewell. Before he left he turned to Tolson and asked, "And the six people freezing outside, sir, shall I send them back in?"

"One moment," Tolson replied, and he made a small gesture to Trochmann. The DECON doctor took up an electric reciprocating saw and proceeded to separate Kim's head from her body, heedless of the storm of blood and gristle that he unleashed or the loud objections of Wahkan.

Sheriff Walker found a sudden need to be outside and Sullivan followed him.

Dr. Wahkan said, "Agent Tolson, my prayer is that you find whatever you are looking for quickly, and never again return to Headwater, for not even uncivilized men treat their dead in this manner."

Jerry, Kim, Sofie and Dory are all firmly middle-class, evidenced by their attendance at the Church's private school. Their parents are sufficiently well-off to provide instruments when they take band class, except Kim's only instrument in the beginning is her own voice.


"The deceased has been dead for approximately eighteen hours with little evident decay as she was discovered outdoors in sub-freezing weather. I counted thirteen deep knife wounds to the chest. Six of these wounds pierced the heart and were the proximate cause of death. The actual cause of death is exsanguination, or in layman’s terms, the deceased bled out. The size of each wound suggests something larger than a pocket knife but smaller than a hunting knife."

"Please get to the good part, Doctor," said Tolson, spinning his finger.

Dr. Wahkan sighed and got to it. “Protruding through the scalp at the back of the head of the deceased is a small structure of bone resembling a cup in the shape of the letter ‘D’ with the flat side toward the neck. Inside the cup are more than fifty small black bristles."

“That is the sensitive information,” Tolson said. “Nurse Fader is not to know, the deputies are not to know.”

Roddy Walker paced over to Kim’s body and took a look at the bone cup himself. Doctor Wahkan had made no mention of it before Tolson's order. "I'll be damned."

Tolson saw the smug grin on Wahkan’s face and realized he’d been tricked into unnecessary spillage of the information. Roddy could have been sliced out of the loop as well, but now it was too late. He decided to retaliate. “Have you seen that bone cup before, Doctor?”

Wahkan said, “Last May the girl’s mother brought her to me. Her friend came in too, accompanied by both parents. The skin was not broken, the girls only had bumps on their heads. Their folks didn't like what I told them so they went to another doctor for a second opinion."

"What did you tell them, Doc?" Tolson asked. "That it was just a tick bite? Did you even take X-rays? We both know you did not. That leads me to believe you have seen this strange bone cup before, perhaps many times before. Doctor Wahkan, is that, in fact, the case?"

After considering his reply, Doctor Wahkan said, "If I answer one way, I’m lying to a federal agent, which is a crime. And if I answer another way, I’m breaking doctor-patient confidentiality. So you will understand my position when I don’t speak of this to you at all."


Mark decided to hit the ground running. As he shook Roddy’s hand he looked at his watch and said, “Sheriff, it’s quarter of four and I am now assuming responsibility for this investigation. The Bureau expects your full cooperation and coercion is never my preference."

“Special Agent Felt, this department will pull out every stop to cooperate with your investigation. I just wonder, why start with this case? A few years ago there was a murder over the state line. My father reported it up to the Bureau but was told to handle it locally.”

Felt said, “I don’t know the particulars of your father’s case. In this one the deceased is already involved in a DECON investigation by Special Agent in Charge Tolson, and whoever perpetrated the crime left her body across three states, deliberately goading the Director.”

Tolson appeared pleased by Felt’s can-do attitude and that he didn’t need to be corrected with respect to Hoover's preferred term for DECON. He suspected Sullivan was instrumental there.

Sheriff Roddy introduced another man present, still wearing scrubs, as Dr. Wahkan. And still another man was donning scrubs. He was introduced as Dr. Ian Trochmann, part of Tolson’s DECON project, preparing to perform the autopsy all over again for the federal side of the house. Roddy didn’t think there’d be much of the girl left after that.

Wahkan raised a bloody gloved hand and said, “You’ll understand if I don’t shake your hand, Agent Felt.”

Tolson said, “Dr. Wahkan has completed what is no doubt an excellent autopsy but that makes both him and the Sheriff, privy to information that I consider sensitive.”

Felt was puzzled. “What do you mean, sir? What did he find?”

Dr. Wahkan removed his gloves in a careful, clever way that avoided any contact with his skin and started to remove his overgarment, knowing that he was finished. He began, “The deceased is a Caucasian female. The deceased is known from her appearance to be one Kimberly Anne Zinter of Headwater, eighteen years of age, high school student, vocalist in the church choir. Fingerprints were taken.” Looking at the sheriff he also said, “The deceased's next-of-kin have been notified."


"There were five soldiers on the sick list who didn’t make the raid, they were supposed to hold the fort. They found the surviving cavalry sergeant and cut him loose. While they were doing that the Kuwapi women made their way back to their people and no one came looking. Later the 6th Cavalry Regiment came up from Texas looking for the blood-thirsty warriors who wiped out a whole company of their men and found only a docile tribe of newly-Christianized converts helping white settlers grow some crops. So they broke up the fort and left. If you get a chance, Felt, go see the museum over where the battle took place. It’s like the little brother to Custer’s Last Stand. One thing that really strikes me about the Indian wars was how the Indians gave as well as they got. The whites beat them with numbers."

“Numbers, and time, and the fact that they weren’t really as blood-thirsty as people make them out to be. Did you ever hear of something they did called ‘counting coup’ ? No? It was the wartime equivalent of touch football. They went to war like we go to ball games.”

They arrived at Headwater's only hospital where they saw a plump nurse in her fifties wheeling out a shivering boy with bandaged stumps where his feet should have been. She was followed by Deputies Bill and Bob wheeling out one boy apiece, each with identical injuries. Sullivan led Felt up the walkway and made the first introductions. “Felt, this is nurse Ella Fader, and in the wheelchair is young Scott Hilling. Ella, this is FBI Special Agent Mark Felt." Felt couldn’t help grinning at her name. She shook her head to warn him off. After that Sullivan introduced Deputy Bob Lurz pushing Johnny Sunkel, and Deputy Bill Holsinger pushing Larry Porter.

Felt wondered aloud why they were being rolled out to see the snow. Bob said, “Agent Clyde Tolson was of the mind they needed fresh air for about an hour.”

Felt remarked on the similarity of their injuries. Agent Sullivan said, "The Indians here used to believe if they could make a captive scream his shade would be their unwilling servant in the afterlife. Some still remember. So not the touch football you mentioned earlier."

“Ah, there you are Felt,” SAIC Clyde Tolson said when they went inside. Felt remembered his oblong face and searing gaze from last year at Quantico when he inspected the graduating class 15 with Director Hoover. “Special Agent Mark Felt, this is Sheriff Roddy Walker.”


"Coincidence?" asked Felt. Just then, by chance, they crossed a small bridge to the very island Sullivan was talking about.

Sullivan nodded his head. "Personally, I think so, but Tolson doesn't believe there are such things as coincidences in this god-forsaken place. So the bugle sounds and Fort Price vomits seventy mounted men plus John Morrison. Wanica and Tashunka are slicing the guts out of a cow, and the rest of his hunters, maybe twenty men, are four hundred feet above it all. When the cavalry shows up they ride down the hill. Smalley divides his forces and sends almost sixty of his men after the hunters, led by Lt. Lambert Welles, while he, Morrison, and twelve other soldiers begin circling Wanica and the boy and slowly close in. As they do Wanica's hunters ride downstream and a chase begins. Three miles from here is a low ridge running north to south, and the river, which is really a creek, cuts straight through it in a short twisting little canyon with steep walls and no path except the river itself. So what do you think happened? Welles got his T crossed. Sixty soldiers riding in single file and ten Indians waiting at the mouth of the canyon firing arrows as they came up one-by-one. So Welles ordered a countermarch, which was more FUBAR. The other ten Kuwapi rolled boulders down on them and broke the legs of their horses. After that it was like shooting fish in a barrel. The Kuwapi hunters left one soldier alive, tied to a tree, with one hand free to scoop up river water to drink, but the knot was too far away to unravel. It was their custom, so that tales of their ferocity would spread."

Felt grinned at the story, thinking upon the rookie move of LT Lambert Wells. "And what happened to poor Wanica and the kid back where they shot the cow?"

"More like poor Smalley and Morrison and the rest. Nobody heard from them again. Not even their bones were found."

"The soldiers of old Fort Price should have spent more of their time drilling,” said Felt as Special Agent Sullivan crossed another small bridge to the south side of the Squaw River, “and less time taking turns at the women. Besides, in 1866 owning people was illegal."


"Of course I believe all that stuff in the Buron and in the Bible," Kim answered. "God, angels, miracles, the empty tomb, everyone believes it happened then. But nobody believes it happens now."

"She's right," Sofie said. "Nobody admits it, but she's absolutely right."

"If you were just talking about the Bible you'd have a point," Jerry said. "Half the Buron is corrections to the stories in the Bible. But the claims in the Buron itself? Everything in the book really happened. All of it is true. It's like no other holy text ever written."

Kim and Sophie accepted this rebuke and nodded their heads silently, unprepared to call their best friends liars. Besides, there was the evidence of Jerry.

“What about you?” Sophie asked, looking at Dory. “You’re Jerry’s cousin. How come you didn’t end up with a dangler?”

"I didn't breed true," Dory said, feigning rue and starting to wade to the lakeshore. "I'm not nephilim, I'm still just a daughter of men. Later I'll draw it out for you. And after that we'll talk about the proper pronouns for ambe and jan, yen and yeng, men and women."

As Bill Sullivan drove Mark Felt to the hospital to take over the murder investigation he pointed at the mountain to the right. "Green Dome is not even one of the five highest points in the state but summit to base it's twice any other. That's where the Indians retreated."

"And over there," Special Agent Felt said, pointing left over the dashboard, "must be the north bank of the river where the cowboys managed to get their herd. What happened next? You got me wondering how the Army lost a fort and why Tolson gives a damn about all this."

"John Morrison, the man on Point who owned the cattle, told his boys to stand fast and defend the herd while he rode hell-for-leather downstream to Fort Price and told Captain Smalley he wanted to 'donate' twenty head but there was the slight matter of an Indian problem. Chief Wanica saw what John was doing, knew what was coming, and made his plans accordingly. Then he rode back down to the island with a boy sitting behind him, They started to field-dress one of the fallen cows. The boy, Tashunka, is still alive, he found the dead girl."


Sofie kicked Jerry out of hez seat with "no offense pally" and sent hem shambling towards Kim, a small adjustment in the teacher's choice. Che could tell Sofie and Dory were a unit so che grew close to Kim, even holding her hand skating at Lake 13 when it was frozen over.

By the springtime Sofie and Dory were asking if Kim and Jerry had pitched woo and what it was like. "We did indeed pitch woo," Kim said. "He feels like a rubber wet suit stretched out over a suit of armor. Soft on the surface but with a hard core underneath. I like it."

In the summer of '39 the same Lake 13 was for skinny-dipping and there was no more keeping one of the oldest Red Wing family secrets. Dory already knew, but now Kim and Sofie knew as well that Jerry Shybear was both a boy and a girl at the same time. And che wasn't unique.

The four of them stood there naked in a square, ten yards out into Lake 13, up to their thighs in cool water, no body modesty at all because they were good friends and nobody else was there. The boy part of Jerry was doing what fourteen year old boy parts do around girls.

Kim asked about the one ball, so Jerry lifted it and showed hez labia majora behind it. "The other one's inside, Kim, it's a real ovary. I could get pregnant." And Kim glanced at hez small breasts and nipples, which didn't look like they were just for decoration either.

"Jerry is what we call a jen," Dory said. "Now my gramma Jaroah on my father's side is an ambi, the genitals are the other way around. If you told hem to fuck hemself gramma Jaroah could literally do it." And Jerry cracked up, but poor Kim and Sofie were still stunned.

When Jerry saw their unbelief che said, "Genesis six four. There were giants in the earth in those days and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."

Kim processed this, then said, incredulously, "You're saying you're actually one of the nephilim?"

Dory came to the defense of her cousin. "Che's saying che's got a copy of Leliel's Z sex chromosome. What about you, Kim, are you saying you don't believe the Holy Buron?"

"Of course I believe all that stuff in the Buron and in the Bible," Kim answered. "God, angels, miracles, the empty tomb, everyone believes it happened then. But nobody believes it happens now."

"She's right," Sofie said. "Nobody admits it, but she's absolutely right."


In 1937 Kim, Sofie, and Dory were twelve, that wonderful last year of their tweens when their bodies were gathering power for the big changes soon to come. They talked about boys in abstract terms that had little to do with the little barbarians that were actual boys. In slumber parties the girls practiced necking with each other so long as it was understood that one of the neckers had to be a boy in theory. Sofie Krause "at great personal sacrifice" played the role of beau nine times out of ten, especially when Dory Twofeathers was up. At the Green Dome private school the tight group of girlfriends passed flowery love letters to each other. Girl-love at age twelve is of such a high order that it knows no jealousy. Share and share alike, everything from lunch to little masterpieces of amorous soliloquy.

Dory Twofeathers: Black eyes, long jet black hair tied in the obligatory Church pony tail but with the cutest bangs ever. The first of the three to start growing knockers, Dory loves The Hobbit and aims for straight Bs to please her parents while not appearing too bookish. Dory hears voices. At first, when she was younger, it was a fun game, but over time Dory came to dislike being a human telephone switchboard and insisted they keep it limited to important calls. She enforced this by threatening to keep the voices up at night with her own.

Sofie Krause: A tomboy who keeps her ash-blond hair cropped short, with no Church-mandated pony tail. She's the only girl on the football team. But just like Kim and Dory, Sofie is required to wear woolen skirts to class rather than trousers, which annoys her to no end. Halloween morning Dory came dressed as a pirate's wench. She had ripped her dress into long strips so her pinup-model legs could poke out when she walked. Sofie felt a sweet shock and knew she had graduated from tomboy to full-service tribade. Knowing this gave her peace.

Kim, unlike Sofie, wasn't ready to let down her father. So she gritted her teeth, wore the damned pony-tail, and when she ventured outside of Headwater she tried to ignore the comments at the edge of her hearing like, "Oh hey, there goes another Bunner, look at her hair."

In 1938 for science class the teacher paired everyone off as lab partners. Kim ended up with Sofie, and Dory ended up with her cousin Jerry Shybear. Everyone assumed those two would gravitate together and do the usual Church of Green Dome thing, but that was never to be.


The eight white men fired back. Two Kuwapi hunters were killed, which was more than Wanica could afford to pay to learn how the strange new animals tasted. The Kuwapi withdrew halfway up the eastern flank of Green Dome and watched as the herd was driven to the north bank.

Mark Felt stopped reading the Fort Price file when he heard the sound of a vehicle's tires crunching up to the FBI trailer. Felt had already met Clyde Tolson at the handshaking ceremony the previous year when Hoover inspected his graduating class but this fellow wasn't he. When he came indoors Felt thought the man looked more movie gangster than g-man, investigatee more than investigator, and somewhat later he learned he was one of the very few liberal Democrats to be accepted into the Bureau. "Are you William Mark Felt?" the newcomer asked.

Felt, who had been sitting ramrod straight in his chair, now stood ramrod straight on his feet and extended his hand. “Just Mark Felt, please.” And the newcomer remarked on their mutual good fortune, for he was Bill Sullivan, and two Williams would have been confusing. Sullivan approached the desk to see what Felt had been reading, amused by Mark's body language which seemed to dare him to say something derogatory about the presumption. "Ah yes, Cowboys and Indians," he said when he saw the material a bit closer. "How far did you get?"

“The Indians dropped a couple cows,” Felt replied, “and the Cowboys dropped a couple Indians. If you hadn’t shown up, Bill, I’m sure I would have plowed my way through to the part where the US Army lost their fort. A lifetime ago. Is this one of Tolson’s special projects?"

"DECON," Sullivan said. "Domestic Enemies Containment, Observation, and Neutralization. I'm sure the Director told you this was Special Projects but my advice to you is to play along with Special Agent in Charge Tolson on this. At least until you break the murder case."

Felt silently absorbed this and nodded once, clearly accepting the advice. He donned his overcoat and said, "Where is Tolson, by the way? I've only just arrived from the San Antonio office and the Director gave me almost nothing in the way of a brief before I departed."

"Tolson is waiting for you at what qualifies for a hospital in this tiny hamlet," Sullivan said. "It's practically a one-room log cabin. He's with Dr. Ian Trochmann. I'll take you there, but I won't be staying. I'm still looking for the other fugitive, one Sofie Krause."


Headwater has nothing for tourists, even when it wasn’t wartime and there were tourists to be had. The view from the top of Green Dome was out over thirty-five miles of nothing. If you were from out of town it meant you were there to get hitched and your family put you up.

Special Agent Felt drove to the strip of land where Hoover told him the FBI had dropped a trailer. It was unoccupied. Felt let himself in using a spare key he had obtained from the Wichita field office. The kitchen was still a kitchen, but the living room was a workspace. He checked the trailer's two bedrooms and saw they contained two cots apiece. So the trailer could sleep four agents. Before anyone else arrived he shat, showered, and shaved to make himself presentable once again after two days and two nights on the road.

When he was finished Felt was still alone in the trailer, so he helped himself to the files that were stacked on the desks. One of them, with brittle yellowed paper that Felt instinctively handled with great care, was a report on the final days of the US Army’s Fort Price. The report contained pages from the commanding officer’s journal and testimony of the lone surviving soldier. In August 1864 the army established Fort Price six land miles (and ten river miles) downstream from Green Dome two years before the town of Headwater was founded.

Capt. John Smalley commanded a company of mounted rifles detached north from the 6th Cavalry regiment. He maintained good relations with the local Indians who were named by the Sioux the Kuwapi, or the Ones Who Were Chased Out, but who called themselves simply The People. Smalley considered The People to be peaceful, but they were so poor they had nothing to sell except women. “Fort Price ain't exactly a charity outfit,” he was often heard to say. At the end ten Kuwapi women lived at the fort. They were kept as busy as the cavalry was not.

In 1866 eight white skins came mounted on horses, cracking whips, two on Point, two on Flank, and two on Drag, a cook with his own wagon in the rear and a man riding way out front picking the best path for five hundred animals bulkier than any game animal save the bison. The whites drove their herd to a large island in Squaw River where the best grass grew. They did this without the basic courtesy of offering Chief Wanica one or two head as toll. Miffed, the Chief dispatched hunters to take payment in kind with a few well-placed arrows.


“Soon Hunky is back with Dory, and Robyn is back with Jerry. Robyn and Jerry want to get hitched, and Dory’s grandpa the Prophet says he can swing it. But Klaus the Apostle says, ‘Will no one rid me of this troublesome platter’ and Deacon Paul takes a kitchen knife to her. Now enter a blue-eyed black-haired dreamboat named Mike. Seven feet tall. Somehow he reaches back into that stack of records named Robyn and pulls out a disk from after Paul stole it, but before Paul broke it. And again, in every instant of time, a copy is made of her."

Robyn fell silent and waited for Sheriff Roddy to reply. Finally he said, “You win, Robyn, people as stacks of records, that’s too batshit crazy to lock you up. Deacon Paul you say? Bergin?” She nodded yes. “You didn’t give me enough probable cause to check him out.”

Robyn said, “My twin sister was killed with a knife from Paul Bergin’s kitchen, one with a distinctive handle. Tomorrow is trash pick-up day. If you dig in his garbage can you'll find the whole set. You won’t even need a search warrant since he has already thrown it out.”

“Now that I can use,” Roddy said. “Kim’s body was found on the tri-state marker, which makes it a federal case. Whoever killed her, Paul or whoever, did that on purpose. That’s why I’m trying to break this case before the FBI gets here. Never give the perp what he wants.”

One summer head up the Big Muddy to St. Louis and hang a left. Now you’re on the Missouri, the longest river in North America. Go upriver past Sioux City, Iowa and hang a left again on the Niobrara. Head west until you’re walking in a dry river bed. You missed it. Back up. The Squaw River is a shorter tributary of the Niobrara, yet it has a year-round flow despite winding across the most arid grasslands of the high plains. Bison used to reliably congregate at the edge of the Squaw River to drink, and the hunters of The People knew that well. On a ridge above Headwater is a pillar of rock carved by wind to look like an Indian woman carrying a papoose in her papoose, hence the name Squaw River. Just west of town the river bends around the south and west flanks of Green Dome and pours from an underground cistern.

Headwater is where the river begins, but it’s where the railroad and the pavement ends. Other than a few dirt roads and old wagon tracks, north, west and south of town is the biggest empty void in the lower forty-eight states. Mark Felt learned that when he found no motel.


“You don’t seem too cut up about it,” Roddy said, taking a small notebook and pen out of his jacket liner. The sympathetic bearer of bad news was a detective again. “When did you know your sister was dead, Miss Zinter? Did an old Indian fellow pay you a visit today?”

“Just Robyn, please,” she said. “One name. Robyn. Not Miss Zinter. Nobody else has visited me today, Sheriff Walker. As for when I knew my sister was dead, I find it difficult to say. I mean I could tell you, and it would be true, but you would believe I was insane.”

Roddy said, “Robyn, this is a murder investigation so I exhort you to hold to that thought, that whatever you tell me must be the truth. As for believing you are insane, I’m already having trouble with your attitude toward the news that your twin sister has been murdered.”

“Sheriff, have you ever heard those stories about identical twins who seem to have a connection that defies any explanation? How they were separated at birth, never met, yet led lives with coincidence piled upon coincidence, the same type of job, the same type of spouse?”

“Robyn, if you’re saying you and Kim had some kind of radio in your head that always let you know what was happening to the other I wouldn’t believe you were insane, I would put you under arrest for knowing material facts about this case with no plausible explanation why.”

“I’ve always loved a challenge, Sheriff.” Robyn stood up and walked over to her record collection, where she pulled a ten inch 78 RPM record from its sleeve. Holding it up for Roddy she said, “This is Kimberly Zinter. And in every instant of time, a copy is made of her. By the time she’s seventeen Kim is quite a stack of records. But something happens to her that she can’t explain. Maybe she starts skipping. Her friend Sofie over there is another stack of records who starts skipping too. The music store says nothing is wrong with them. But Kim’s mother is a stickler for high fidelity and she won’t take that for an answer. She quits her job at the music store and takes Kim to Lusk for a second opinion, and she convinces Sofie’s parents to do the same. Next thing you know both records are in quarantine. There's six months of tests but nobody ever figures out why Kim and Sofie skip. Soon they realize they’re never getting out of quarantine, so they escape, but that's a long story. Kim Zinter changes her label and becomes Robyn. Sofie Krause changes her label to Hunky.


So affairs stood for ten years. Then coal miners stumbled across Erik’s dead body and learned that Erik had been in possession of the most sacred Church relic. The Golden Gift was returned to Peter Twofeathers but this sparked the donnybrook between Red and White wings. Sheriff Roddy Walker knew all these things going in, and so greatly dreaded the duty to notify Clara Zinter of the discovery of her daughter’s body. How does one break it to a recently-widowed woman that her family has now been entirely wiped off the face of the earth?

The young woman who answered the door was not Clara Zinter. Her hair was dark ginger. She had light green eyes, icy green, striking for being rare. She had a pretty face but she was a little too chubby even for the time before Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy made skinny sexy. “Are you--” Roddy was looking at the spitting image of the deceased, Kimberly Zinter, standing in the doorway, patiently waiting for him to speak. He pulled out his file to be sure. Identical. He was not aware that Kim had a twin sister. “Is Mrs. Clara Zinter at home?”

“Mother isn’t here,” the young lady said, “I swapped places with her. Mom’s with her own folks in Pennsylvania. You’re Sheriff Walker, right? I’m Robyn. Do you want to come in? I’m sure you have a few questions and it will be better than standing here in the doorway.”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Roddy said. He took off his hat and stepped in. The hardwood floors were partly covered with throw-rugs. He could smell the gas furnace. A radio was playing "I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra, and Robyn turned it down.

“Please, Robyn, if you could turn the radio off. It’s hardly appropriate for what I must tell you.” The girl complied, and invited the sheriff to be seated with a small coffee table between them. She smoothed out her plaid dress and Roddy saw that she wore bobby socks.

“You were about to tell me that you found the body of my sister,” Robyn said, “and that she had been brutally murdered.” And on one level Roddy felt relief that his duty to notify the next-of-kin had been mooted. But Robyn had stated things she should not know so plainly.


Part of this money came from his veterans' “bonus” of sixty dollars but some employers went out of their way to give returning vets seniority. Erik had accepted a job in Headwater painting houses using his remaining arm, and spent three years laying aside for the wedding. In Clara’s hometown Erik sold his tin lizzie to pay for the wedding. Pennsylvania was the first anti-cousin marriage state, but only first cousins couldn’t get hitched, not second ones. And they were so obviously in love both of Clara's parents gave their nuptial blessing.

Erik's parents back in Headwater were a harder sell. After the train ride west he became the black sheep of the family for passing over a perfectly good (albeit horse-faced) local first cousin for a beautiful second cousin from back east. Why, any heathen would do as much.

Kimberly Zinter was born to Erik and Clara in 1925. Kim knew her two best friends Sofie Krause and Dory Twofeathers from as early she could remember, as far back as the economically frothy days of 1928 when they shared the same nursery while even their mothers found work.

By 1932 the Great Depression really started to bite. Clara was fired first, but soon even Erik was jobless. Builders found applicants with two good arms suddenly willing to paint. Still, Erik retained the good spirits that had endeared him to Clara in that Paris hospital.

There are rich seams of bituminous coal inside Green Dome hill and under Headwater itself but the geology of the area is so folded and jumbled there has never been an economical way to reach it by drilling a straight shaft. The coal would only be exposed here and there. During the Great Depression Erik Zinter (and it was not known who it was at the time or how he did it) created twisting passageways through Green Dome and the surrounding area. By day other men followed in his wake to reinforce the tunnels with timber and remove the coal. While the rest of the country wallowed in record unemployment, Headwater experienced a boom that hadn't been seen since the brief gold rush days after the Civil War when the town swelled with the ranks of 69ers. Great heaps of black gold were piled up on docks in Chicago.

Suddenly the unemployed, unemployable Erik Zinter had a new brick red Ford Model B, his first car since selling his Model T, and he also paid off his modest home. There was enough left over to send Kim to the excellent Green Dome parochial school to be with her friends.


Roddy picked up the bag and frowned with disappointment. “This game isn’t as fun when the other side isn’t even trying to win. Not a run-of-the-mill Sears Roebuck kitchen knife: no, something handmade, something an admirer would make special just for the Church Apostle.”

Erik Zinter fought in a world war before they starting getting numbers. He was one of the merry but homesick doughboys who went into battle late in 1918 singing and whooping with all the enthusiasm of a college football team pouring out onto the field just before kickoff. They go in with six hundred aircraft plus one hundred forty-four tanks under Col. George Patton. Three thousand pieces of field artillery unleashed by the Allied side and countless bombs dropped from the air tear the battlefield into a pock-marked pigsty filled with mud. The Germans withdraw but they fight a rear-guard action with a ferocious bite. Erik takes two rounds from a Bergmann Maschinenpistole 18/1 that shatters the bone in his upper left arm and he develops gas gangrene in the field hospital lying just out of range of enemy fire.

The amputation was performed in less-than-ideal circumstances. Afterward Erik rode a train to Paris with a hundred other casualties. The same train carried soldiers fresh off the boat back to the Western Front, which had become a vast machine for mangling and killing men. In Paris Erik met a Red Cross nurse whose name-tag bore a surname he recognized. While she changed his dressings Erik learned that Clara was of the Brannens who had stayed behind in Pennsylvania when the wagon train went west so she knew little about the Green Dome Church.

Soon they knew they shared the same great-gramma: second cousins. That plus her all-American girl-next-door good looks interested Erik. Clara was pleased how Erik maintained a good attitude despite his misfortune. He didn't feel sorry for himself even after losing an arm. There was pain but right on through it Erik maintained a deliciously wicked sense of humor. They could not talk for long but Clara passed along to him the address of her parents in Pennsylvania after he declared he wanted to stay in touch with her when they returned home.

Their pen pal relationship gradually blossomed into something they thought was love. In 1922 Erik drove halfway across the country in his Model T. It took a full month. He used the Yellowstone Auto Trail and aside from two big auto repairs he averaged five dollars a day.


Tashunka said, “Red and White wings swap power but the Golden Gift stays in the Red Wing. God gave it to Wanica, who gave it to Twofeathers. Hansen says the Apostle should have it. Twofeathers thought it would quiet things to give it up, but he gave it to Jerry Shybear.”

“Jerry Shybear. That explains how he got his whipping. He said his house had been ransacked too. They must have been trying to beat the Golden Gift out of him. It’s a good thing I never embraced the Green Dome Church as my own, Tashunka. It’s much too violent for me.”

“It gets better,” Tashunka said. "The instant Peter Twofeathers announced Jerry Shybear was the new Extraordinary Lay Minister of Final Rites half the Bunners stood up and walked out of the Temple. That must have been the Prophet’s cue to lance the boil and bring things to a head.”

Roddy smiled at Tashunka’s use of the word “Bunners”. By strict canon law all Greendomites had to wear their hair in a ponytail, even the men, but in the White Wing this ponytail was done up in a bun, even the men. He shuddered at how close he had come to being a Bunner.

Finally Tashunka dropped his bomb. "Peter Twofeathers declared that he was setting aside the central discipline of the Church in a single case so that Jerry Shybear could be wed to Kimberly Zinter. Klaus Hansen himself left in protest, along with all the other Bunners."

Sheriff Roddy Walker leaned forward, rendered speechless, as Tashunka knew he would be. Even people who had nothing to do with the Green Dome Church knew about their biggest hobby horse. For a time the Mormons had polygamy. The Greendomites have mandatory cousin marriage. Roddy knew a deep current of racism ran among the Bunners but the requirement for consanguineous marriages kept a firm lid on it. Kim Zinter was fourth generation White Wing at least, she’d have no kin among the Red Wing. Her marriage would have blown the door wide open.

As though he could read Roddy’s mind, Tashunka said, “Apostle Hansen would see this marriage between Jerry and Kim as a horrible disease infecting the body of the Church. Their children would have marriageable cousins in both wings and it would just grow worse from there.”

Deputies Bill and Bob rushed in just then and threw a Cellophane bag on the sheriff’s desk containing the murder weapon. “Found it,” Bob said, “Just like you guessed, throwing distance from the body.” The blade was thin, flexible, nothing more than a steak knife perhaps.


Tashunka waited outside the sheriff’s office long past when Roddy said he’d meet him, trying to stay warm inside his running truck. Roddy apologized for the delay and invited the old fellow in for some fresh coffee. “Doctor Wahkan had some interesting things to say.”

Tashunka followed the sheriff inside and sat shivering in his seat until the coffee was ready. “And what of the three stupid white boys who took a bullwhip to a plains Indian and didn’t think he’d have friends who could think of doing something far worse in retaliation?”

“The three stupid white boys were still there looking perfectly miserable until they laid eyes on the dead girl. That seemed to make their whole day. Would that Headwater had a bigger hospital. They wouldn’t tell me what was so funny. I figure you’re about to tell me.”

Tashunka leaned back in his seat nursing the coffee. His eyes landed on a photograph of the elder Sheriff Walker, now deceased. Two years already? “Everyone greatly loved and respected your father, Roddy, both White Wing and Red Wing alike. I was there at his Final Rite.”

Roddy flushed with sudden anger. “And I, his only son, trained to replace him, was not permitted to be there at his precious ‘Rite’ because I don’t believe in fairy tales about angels and sun gods and killing relics and I made the mistake of letting everybody know that.”

“Sheriff, if you allow your heart to grow black then you will take everything I tell you as coming from the left hand with the damned. What you call the ‘killing relic’ sets the Church of Green Dome apart from all other faith assemblies. It is divinity which can be seen.”

Roddy glared at him while he took another sip of coffee, then lowered his eyes. Soon he was calm again and said, “You are absolutely right, Tashunka, and I know how important the relic is in the life of your Church. So let us call it by its right name, the Golden Gift.”

“You know Mark Lange was the first Prophet of the Church, and Wanica was his Apostle. When Wanica died, Prophet Lange chose Peter Twofeathers to replace him. Then Lange himself died, making Twofeathers the Prophet, and he in turn chose Klaus Hansen to be the Apostle.”

Roddy nodded. “Yes, the authority moving from White to Red Wing and back, over and over so long as heaven and Earth last. That was the theory, anyway. It worked like a charm until the day the authority actually moved to the Red side and the White side didn’t much like it.”


“Thank you, Doctor,” Sheriff Walker said. “Headwater is indeed a very good place, but now I am compelled to make a telephone call to the outsiders who have made things not so good for the last few months. They will take Kimberly away from us. Try to learn what happened."

"I saw her last year," said Dr. Wahkan. "And the other girl, Sofie, with the same symptoms. But they were safe. Nothing happened to them that hasn't been known by the People for a human lifetime and more but their mothers would not listen to me. Now we have the outsiders."

Young Mark Felt had been with the Bureau just one year but the quality of his reports filtering back to Washington from Texas had brought him to the notice of the Director, J. Edgar Hoover. On the eve of Special Agent Felt’s transfer to DC Hoover telephoned him personally. Felt tried to maintain a respectful tone with the Director but he knew he was in for disappointment. The San Antonio field office was deemed a punishment detail in the FBI where agents were sent to be toughened up, and it was particularly hard on agents who were married.

When it came it was every bit as bad as he thought it would be. Felt’s transfer to Washington to work on counter-espionage was put on hold until he solved a simple homicide in the middle of the country. Hoover took this one personally; and so, natch, the FBI did as well. “You’ll be reporting to Special Agent in Charge Clyde Tolson on this one,” Hoover said. “Do you know him?” And Felt could only answer that he knew Tolson was the SAC at a division of the Bureau known only as DECON, but none of his associates knew what the initials meant.

“In Clyde’s pretty little head,” Hoover said followed by a nervous chuckle, “DECON stands for Domestic Enemies Containment, Observation, and Neutralization. But to me, you, the other agents and most critical of all, Congress, Tolson heads up the Special Projects section.”

“I understand sir.” Hoover wrapped up the telephone call with a few more details, saying “Mr. Felt” this and “Mr. Felt” that. In twenty more years Mark Felt would draw close enough to J. Edgar that he’d just be called “Felt” but he’d never be a “Clyde” which was just fine. Mark Felt did win one important concession. He received permission to draw a Bureau sedan so his wife Audrey could proceed to DC as originally planned while he took his own car north through most of Texas and three other states to fix this burr under the Director’s saddle.


But inactivity had cooled the sweat under Roddy’s coat and he shivered in the face of a stiff wind from the frozen plains. "This is not the place, Tashunka," he said, "This body must go to our little hospital. Meet me at the station in an hour and I will listen to you."

After that Sheriff Roddy, deputy Bill and the dead girl were motoring around the large hill near the crime scene named Green Dome. It was almost five thousand feet above sea level, but only eight hundred feet above the town of Headwater, and never green at all in January. “I just can’t win, Bill,” Roddy lamented. “Half the male population of Headwater between 18 and 45 is off killing Japs and Krauts and Eye-talians. Things were getting real quiet around here. Then the FBI sets up shop and stay all summer. Now I got my first dead girl.”

They passed a stretch of national grasslands where the Bureau still had a trailer. There were no lights on, no smoke from a wood stove. Bill said, “The FBI was here last summer but now people are saying they’re back. Said they saw some G-men staking out the bus station.”

“Our victim and another girl named Sofie Krause have been in custody somewhere for half of last year, but they escaped and made the FBI look ... hell, they are incompetent. But they wouldn't kill the girl for doing that if your thoughts are trending on those lines, Bill."

Roddy had driven around the northern slopes of Green Dome and Headwater came into view, the biggest town for a hundred miles around, home to 1,200 folks but down to a thousand now owing to the war. Bill asked, “What do you want me to do after we give the body to Dr. Wahkan?”

“Develop the film and file it,” Roddy told his deputy. “Then get back to the scene and help Bob look for the murder weapon. I didn’t see any prints leading away from the marker so I figure the perpetrator either tossed it or kept it. Either way is a good thing to know.”

The town’s one doctor was Wahkan to the People, but the whites called him Plenty Practice. No one had ever died under his knife, but not even a local legend such as Wahkan could call back the dead. “Kimberly Zinter,” he said when he saw the bloody corpse. "Heartbreaking." Dr. Wahkan donned a pair of rubber gloves. "I have never carried out this protocol for you, Sheriff, and for your father of happy memory only five times." He felt behind the girl's head and discerned the bump had opened to become a bone cup as he knew it would last year.

Xena Breakfast Cereals

  • Not So CheeriOs
  • Booted Kix
  • Apple Jox
  • Honey Nutbread O's
  • Lucky Harms
  • Crucipix
  • Cinnamon Death
  • Meg's Turning Trix
  • Ambrosia Bits
  • Callisto's Loco Puffs
  • Cap'n Crunched
  • Sugar Smacks Upside the Head


The sheriff told deputy Bill to start snapping pictures while deputy Bob followed Roddy around with a notepad and took down a running commentary. “I need to steal your sole with my camera, Chief,” Bill said, “so lay it out there.” Tashunka smiled and lifted one leg. Bill got a photo of the bottom of both the old Indian’s boots to make sure they could differentiate his footprints from that of the perps. Then Tashunka was left behind as Bill methodically photographed his way to the girl’s body. Roddy and Bob followed in his wake.

Old Tashunka watched from the road. When the sheriff and his deputies completely surveyed and documented the murder scene they all pitched in, lifted Kimberly free of the survey marker, and laid her gently on a foldaway stretcher that sheriff Walker had brought with him. Tashunka was surprised to hear the sheriff shout an oath. Roddy has read the plaque that Kim’s body was covering and realized they were at the exact place some surveyor decided the corners of two states ran flush against the border of a third. That made the case Federal.

Then they walked the body out of there, pausing a moment for Tashunka to get his first close look at it. “This was Kimberly Zinter,” he told them, and he put his fingers on her face just long enough to melt the eyelids so he could close them. “I’ve seen her at Temple.”

The sheriff dug around in the glove box of his truck and came back with a manila folder containing a photo, which he compared to the dead girl’s blood-streaked face. “The gentleman is right, boys. This was the local girl the FBI was looking for. One of the two, anyway.”

After the deputies carefully loaded the body of the girl in the canopy of the department’s green 1940 Dodge half-ton truck, Bob said, “So this wasn’t gonna be our case from the gitgo, even if she wasn’t lying dead spread out over three states. What do we do now, sheriff?”

“We’re going to do our job ’til somebody says different, Bob. Go back to the marker and start walking around it in a spiral that grows four feet wider on every turn. Try and find something that could be the murder weapon. Looks to me like that would probably be a knife.”

Tashunka said, “I remember when you were just a boy, sheriff, and I remember when you left us. None of your men are Greendomites. You might not be up on Church politics and they can’t help you. I don’t know who did this terrible thing to the girl but I can tell you why.”


January 1943. After six months of fighting at Stalingrad, Soviets encircle the invading Germans and compel them to surrender. After six months of fighting at Guadalcanal the Japanese begin to evacuate the island. Globally, the Axis has been rocked from offense to defense. In America huge swaths of the high plains lie under snow that first fell in November and still haven't melted. But it's a dry cold. The roads have been cleared. From the air Headwater looks like an abstract map drawn in fine black ink on paper bleached an unearthly white.

The man who found the dead girl was called Tashunka. He was older than the town of Headwater but yet a boy of the People when the Golden Gift came to Wanica in the last hunt. The biggest animal he ever killed was a coyote he baited with a rabbit he caught in another trap.

Tashunka almost didn't see the girl. Her body was dangling at a roadside "attraction" that had always bored him. On a map somewhere one line terminated on another. Three states came together at this place, but even when there was no snow Tashunka had never seen any lines. What caught his eye was not so much that the dead girl was naked, but how her head and arms bent slightly back, and how her feet didn't touch the ground, as though she were nailed to an invisible cross. So he backed up his truck and parked in the little tri-state corral.

There was another set of tire tracks in the snow and two sets of footprints which became a tangled net near the body. Tashunka halted his approach to leave the site clean for the sheriff, but he could see no movement of the girl's chest and no condensation from her mouth. The dead girl was too pale to be one of the People, but she was certainly White Wing of the Church of Green Dome. Her ponytail gave that away. And Tashunka wept with frustration that he could not do the simple kindness of closing her frozen eyes staring out upon eternity. Then Tashunka recognized the dead girl: Kimberly Zinter. He wept more deeply, knowing why she was murdered and guessing who the killer must be. Of a certainty the unhappy union of the Red Wing and White Wing of the Church was finished. He retraced his steps to the truck.

An hour later Tashunka returned with Sheriff Roddy Walker to the little fenced-off area nigh to the road. The tri-state marker was a wooden beam embedded in the ground, one foot square with a sloping top, and Kimberly's back rested on this, held fast by her frozen blood.

Things Which Never Happen On X:WP

  • There is a god whose powers do not reside in an easily stolen object.
  • Another brother of Xena's shows up and she already told Gabrielle all about him.
  • There is a cave nearby and Xena never bothered to store supplies for her army there.
  • The trajectory of Xena's chakram becomes indeterminate after the 14th or 15th bounce.
  • Callisto goes through an entire episode without once being buried under a pile of rocks.
  • Ruffians attack Xena all at once, not in single file.

Xena Smilies

  • O-( User is a Cyclops
  • (-: User is from New Zealand :*)
  •  :*) User is Meleager
  • $-) User is Salmoneus
  •  :-[ User is a Bacchae
  •  :-@ "Yiyiyiyiyiyiyi!!!"
  •  :^( Xena used a left hook
  •  :v( Xena used a right cross
  •  :-X User requires a pinch interrogation
  • <:-) User is Joxer

Xena Sports

  • Stock Chariot Racing
  • "Bad"-minton
  • "Bi"-athlon
  • Idiotrod God Sledding
  • Equestrian Kickboxing
  • Nude Fishing
  • Gyne-nastics
  • Volcanodiving
  • Volleyfireball
  • Staff Vault
  • World Cup Sock-her
  • Sidekick Dragging
  • Bush Diving
  • The Running of the Bull Dykes

Joxer Tries to Pick Up Gabrielle

  • Jox: "Hey, Gabby, what's your sign?"
  • Gab: "Do not Enter"
  • Jox: "Hey, come on, we're both here at this bar for the same reason"
  • Gab: "Yeah! Let's pick up some chicks!"
  • Jox: "I know how to please a woman."
  • Gab: "Then please leave me alone."
  • Jox: "I want to give myself to you."
  • Gab: "Sorry, I don't accept cheap gifts."
  • Jox: "I can tell that you want me."
  • Gab: "Ohhhh. You're so right. I want you to leave."
  • Jox: "If I could see you naked, I'd die happy."
  • Gab: "Yeah, but if I saw you naked, I'd probably die laughing."
  • Jox: "Your body is like a temple."
  • Gab: "Sorry, there are no services today."
  • Jox: "I would go to the end of the world for you."
  • Gab: "Yes, but would you stay there?"
  • Jox: "Your place or mine?"
  • Gab: "Both. You go to yours and I'll go to mine."
  • Jox: "How do you like your eggs in the morning?"
  • Gab: "Unfertilized!"

Signs Joxer Should Do His Laundry

  • It's February 29 again.
  • He is discovered unconscious after a sniff test.
  • Argo maneuvers to stay upwind of him.
  • He wakes up in the dead of night to find his clothes crawling toward the lake.

Xena and Gabrielle Should Get a Tent

  • Tent stakes can double as throwing weapons.
  • Joxer won't be the only one to pitch a tent when Gabrielle prances around the campsite nude.
  • Xena can say her relationship with Gabrielle is "In Tents".
  • "If This Tent's Wigglin' Don't Start Gigglin'".

Signs Argo is Stalking Gabrielle

  • Gab finds a knit cap and FOUR bloody gloves.
  • Every time she turns around Argo puts her head down to eat grass nonchalantly.
  • Muddy horseshoe prints in Gab's diary scroll.
  • When she wakes there's a human head on the pillow next to her.

Why Xena Should Command the Enterprise

  • Starfleet is long overdue for a return to miniskirts and knee-high boots.
  • Like Kirk famously did, Xena would have a girl on every planet.
  • Gabrielle would make a good communications officer.
  • Xena's prime directive: "Take the planet!"
  • Joxer would be good as one of those security guys in a red shirt.
  • "She's gonna blow Captain!" takes on a whole new meaning.
  • If they met Apollo on the Planet of Lost Gods, Xena would kick his ass if puts the snatch on her ship.

Holy Scriptures of the Goddess of Love

  • First and Second Mammalonians
  • Lactiticus
  • Tit-us
  • Colossial-un's
  • Epistle to the Garbanzos
  • Aphrodite 36 : D
  • Hooteronomy
  • Reveal-ations
  • Triple X-odus

Amazon Sex Guidebooks

  • You Can't Eat Jenny Craig with Mary Kay on Your Face
  • You Can't Have Your Kate & Edith Too
  • More than You Ever Wanted to Know About Amazon Sexuality & Were Afraid Somebody Would Tell You
  • War & Piece (of Ass)
  • How to Make Love (& War) to a Woman

Signs Gabrielle is President

  • When asked by reporters if she ever ate henbane-laced nutbread, she says she tried it but didn't swallow.
  • She emerges from private "consultations" with Defense Secretary Xena to attend live press conferences sporting a glaring hickey.
  • The State of the Union speech goes on for six hours.
  • Xena causes a scandal when Gabrielle can't produce the missing 18 1/2 scrolls.
  • The West Wing Staff really is a staff.
  • You really don't want to know where the cigars went.

Great Things About Gabrielle Having Her Own Horse

  • Somebody can keep Argo company the next time Gabrielle and Xena get temporarily killed.
  • X & G can buy hay and oats in bulk size to save dinars and even get a chariot.
  • Now Argo and Xena can double date.

Things Xena Would Never Say

  • "That ship is too far out, if I jumped I'd never make it."
  • "Ares! You startled me!"
  • "You can touch my horse again if you want to."
  • "That man scares me, Gabrielle."
  • "Please, Gabrielle, no more---I'm worn out."

Signs Gabrielle is Bald

  • She tears up a picture of Joxer during an appearance on SNL.
  • She says, "Xenaunit! NJRA seeks the creator!"
  • They use Gabrielle's scalp to reflect light into Goliath's eyes.
  • She tells Xena to "Make it so" as they boldly go where no man has gone before.

Xena Game Shows

  • Name That Tomb.
  • Let's Make A Kill - with your host, Monty Maul.
  • Truth or Unconsciousness.
  • The Price is On Your Head.
  • The 21,000 Dinar Pyramid (Live From Ancient Egypt)
  • The Joxer's Wild
  • The Newly-dead Game
  • Olympian Family Feud






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