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Wenatchee Valley, April of 1851

* Violence and Gore

* Violence Against Children

Isapkit regained consciousness slowly. The first thing she noticed was how dark it was. That meant she had either been unconscious for hours, or she was inside something. Or both. The second thing she noticed was that she was upside down. This led to her third realization, which was that she was tied up.

She looked around and allowed her eyesight to clear. The moon and stars were overhead, the trees were around her, and there was a fire near her. She could hear someone breathing heavily. Across the orange light of the flame, Isapkit saw the Mosquitofolk. The arrow she had fired into his shoulder was still there. He was looking over her bow and knife, with her arrows at his feet.

“You woke earlier than I thought you would,” the monster growled, without looking up.

“Why haven’t you killed me yet?” Isapkit snapped.

The beast laughed, “You’re obviously the Wenatchi Tribe’s best hunter, and you’re here. There’s no retribution to fear. I do not need you to be dead. I only need your blood.”

Only now did Isapkit begin to feel her own body. She discovered two puncture wounds on her left forearm.

“What did you do to my body?” Isapkit demanded to know, furiously.

“I drank your blood!” As the monster said this, fangs slithered out of its mouth and flitted across its tongue.

Isapkit felt around the knots which bound her, and discovered that the leather bindings were tied to her very poorly. She began to work at them with her fingertips.

“Why did you come to our village, beast?” Isapkit demanded, trying to keep the monster’s mind on anything except her hands.

“For blood, of course,” the creature seemed to be irritated by the pointless question.

“But why now?” Isapkit pressed, “After generations of peace-”

“Of exile!” Mosquitofolk bellowed with a roar to rival that of a bear, “My exile was agony!”

Isapkit thought back to the stories of the Mosquitofolk, and how they would integrate into a family before eventually being discovered. She had never considered until then that the Mosquitofolk intended to live their lives amongst Humans and never be discovered.

“You know of the White Humans?” The Mosquitofolk growled, “They come from across the plains.”

“The foreigners who have started settling to the east?” Isapkit asked, continuing to wriggle inside the ever-loosening leather knots, “What about them?”

As the Mosquitofolk grinned, black slimy fangs quivered behind his canines, “The White Humans do not believe we exist anymore. My people have harnessed the White Humans, and secretly subjugate them.” The Mosquitofolk got up, Isapkit’s own knife clutched in his fist, “Unlike your people, the White Humans will allow me to live amongst them.” He took his hand and grazed Isapkit’s face, causing her to recoil from the stench of gore and the sight of dried blood on his fingertips, “They will permit me to look upon Human faces… to conduct Human conversation…”

“Then go live with them!” Isapkit barked, baring her own teeth. She thrashed in anger, further loosening the knots which bound her legs. “Why attack the Wenatchi Humans? What do the practices of the White Humans have to do with killing my niece?”

The Mosquitofolk cackled, “Don’t you know? The White Humans… they are coming. They have annihilated everything in their path. They will come here and annihilate you, too. And I will be free. They will liberate my kind. I have nothing left to fear.”

“Yes you do,” Isapkit spat, “Me.”

“And who are you?” The Mosquitofolk raised Isapkit’s knife in his hand.

“My name is Isapkit.”

“I’ve never heard of anyone with that name before,” the Mosquitofolk chuckled.

The leather around Isapkit’s wrists and ankles gave way at the exact same time, just as she had planned. She threw her hands forward, sending leather strips into the monster’s face. After twisting around and landing on her feet, she lept back up and slammed her fist into the beast’s arm, causing him to lose his grip on the knife. She swept the creature’s legs, causing him to fall over, while snatching the knife out of the air.

“No one has ever had my name before,” Isapkit plunged the knife into the monster’s neck, “And no one ever will again.”

Within an hour, the deed was done. Isapkit had studied her ancestors’ stories well, and knew that the Mosquitofolk may yet pose a threat if not properly disposed of. She had to stab and strike the creature many hundreds of times before it finally stopped moving. Then she had to cut away the head and face to dig out the black core of the monster, including the fangs and parts of the brain. Then she burned the black core, in case there was offspring inside of it.

The sun began to rise again as Isapkit washed herself in the stream. She collected her things from the Mosquitofolk’s impromptu camp, and headed home.

All the way there, she couldn’t shake the image from her head of the beast’s laugh as she killed it, howling with cackling laughter as it died. And in its final breaths, it repeated: “They’re coming.”

Isapkit kept hearing those words every step of the way home: “They’re coming.”

Isapkit kept hearing those words as her family received her as a hero: “They’re coming.”

Isapkit kept hearing those words as she failed to sleep that night: “They’re coming. They’re coming. They’re coming.”

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