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Y que sea lo que Dios Quiera

Abigail Guerrero

3:00 a.m.

Only Pedro and Coyote were still awake when it began. Coyote because he had to drive the boat safely to land, and Pedro because he didn’t trust that bastard to keep them alive.

The night was cold and the water unusually calm, and they moved slowly with the current. Nothing to see but the stars shining bright above and Coyote’s back as he piloted the boat. Nothing to hear but the river’s roar and the cicadas’ song and the damn snoring of Pedro’s lazy-ass brother, Carlos. Nothing happened until the sky was dyed red.

Then something exploded in the distance; the shock wave rocked the whole ship, and the surrounding water raised and jolted. Pedro pulled his stupid brother close and covered him with his arms, instinctively, waiting for the worst. But the worst was only the cold water that splashed into the boat. Carlos and the rest of the group woke up dizzy and confused, just in time to take a glance at the red light flashing before it faded to black and the night was dark again.

“¿Qué chingados fué eso?” Pedro asked.

And with a straight face and a flat voice, Coyote responded, “Nada de que preocuparse, una bomba nomás.”

3:03 a.m.

When the first choppers began to fly over them, crossing the border from the United States and into Mexico, Coyote realized he could no longer stick to the military testing story he had made up. Whatever was happening was bad. He knew it because no one aboard those helicopters seemed to care about the ship with illegal migrants that was right below.

The passengers yelled, and cried, and threw themselves to the floor, as if they truly believed the law couldn’t catch them if they hid at the bottom of the boat. Coyote knew he had only a few seconds before they started asking even more questions, and then everything would be worse. Because what he had on his ship was far more dangerous than any bomb.

It was people.

People who were tired and angry and scared. People who would soon be hungry, and hurt, and in pain. People who were confined to a space so small they could barely move.

And he was stuck in the middle of nowhere with them.

Things had gone wrong before, of course they did, that’s why he didn’t have a name anymore. It had happened a little over a year ago, while he was crossing the Sonoran Desert with about fifty migrants in the back of a cargo truck. Heat and dehydration drove them to be crazy and aggressive, and they began biting each other like rabid dogs. Coyote knew, when he opened the truck’s doors and found the survivors bleeding to death, that they wouldn’t have endured until he arrived in the USA. He had no choice but to run away, hide from the families and friends, and wait a couple of months until it was safe to start working again.

But now it seemed it would never be safe.

Coyote wished, deep down, that the officers on those goddamn choppers could just illuminate them with their freaking lanterns and take out the bullhorns to announce that they were all arrested now. The migrants would be deported, he would spend a year or two in prison, and then everything would go back to normal.

Although he wasn’t really sure there was a normal he could go back to.

When the helicopters disappeared on the horizon and his passengers began to get up, Coyote had a feeling that he was running out of time, and he needed to make sure that, in a worst-case scenario, they would destroy each other and not him. He then stopped the boat and told them that it was up to them to decide whether to return or keep going on.

3:06 a.m.

At first, Pedro thought Coyote was overstating. Making fun of them, at best, or trying to induce panic, at worst. But when a second explosion shook the boat and the water turned red and began to stink like blood, he started to suspect that maybe Coyote was telling the truth. And if the world was truly coming to its end, then there was nothing to think about.

He raised his hand before anyone else and voted to go back.

Pedro didn’t even want to go to the USA in the goddamn first place.

He was in the last year of college when his father suffered a heart attack and the doctor ordered him to rest. Pedro thus needed to start making money fast to feed his parents, and himself, and his useless little brother. And Carlos didn’t even try to find a job to help him pay the bills, no, he stayed at school fooling around, getting bad grades, and wasting the money that Pedro and their parents were so desperately trying to save.

Pedro still wanted to graduate, but spending his mornings working at the maquila and his nights taking care of his father didn’t leave him with much time to study, and he eventually gave up. Then, one day, a friend of a friend told them that he knew someone in the USA looking for people to pick fruit during the summer break. Pedro accepted because he thought he had found a way to both help his parents and earn enough money to go back to college. Carlos accepted because he thought they were going on holiday. But clearly, none of these reasons was enough to go ahead if they knew there was a chance of never coming back.

3:09 a.m.

As Carlos already expected, Pedro voted without asking him first.

He immediately raised his own hand and voted to keep going just to make his brother mad. Although he would probably have voted the same even after talking to him, anyway.

Ever since he could remember, Carlos had longed for freedom. His mother couldn’t understand why he wanted to leave the nest being so young, but Carlos had it quite clear. He didn’t want to end up like his brother, bitter and lonely, trapped in his own house as if it was a cage, with no other purpose in life but to take care of others. Carlos loved his parents, of course he did, but he didn’t want his life to belong to them. Then, one day, his father fell ill, and Pedro’s money was no longer enough to support the family, so their parents had to let them go to the USA, even if they knew that meant they could never come back.

And Carlos didn’t plan on coming back.

3:12 a.m.

The surrounding water was getting thicker, and stinkier, and redder. All the dead fishes were dragged to the surface and starting to rot as they floated around. One after another, the passengers raised their hands as Coyote counted the votes.

The final tally resulted in a tie.

Ten damned souls wanted to move on, and ten more wanted to go back.

Someone in the back suggested that Coyote should make the final choice, but that was exactly what he so desperately wanted to avoid. If he showed any preference for either side, the other half wouldn’t last to jump straight at his neck.

He analyzed, then, who had chosen what, trying to find those whose mindset could be the easier to turn around. He could tell the oldest half wanted to return, maybe because they knew they had a lesser chance to survive in a hostile new world, or just because they wanted to spend their last days at home. The youngest half, stronger and bolder, was willing to go on. There was just one passenger who was rather young and still had chosen to go back.

That pendejo called Pedro.

Coyote didn’t like that guy. He looked at him like he didn’t trust him.

But he also voted without asking his little brother, and that was something Coyote could use to balance things out a bit. “Hablen con sus familias y en cinco minutos votamos otra vez.”

3:17 a.m.

The dead fishes that floated around the boat were now reduced to nothing but brittle bones, and the cicadas’ song couldn’t be heard anymore. The five minutes they had to rethink their votes were now almost over, and the two brothers hadn’t yet reached an agreement.

“¡Tú nunca te has preocupado por nuestros padres!”

“¡Y tú nunca te has preocupado por mí!”

The rest of the passengers were already grinding their teeth.

“Muy bien señores, se acabó el tiempo, ¿qué decidieron?” Coyote announced the time was over and asked them to make a final choice.

“Nosotros nos regresamos,” said Pedro.

And tired of Pedro always ignoring him, Carlos pushed him against the hull.

The other passengers gasped, and the couple who was sitting by the stern offered him help to get up, but Pedro refused. He rested his arms on the gunwales and stood up himself. Ashamed, Carlos reached out to him but received only a shove as a response. One second later, the brothers were grappling on the floor, with all the other passengers trying to pull them apart.

A few feet behind, and without anyone noticing, Coyote smiled.

3:20 a.m.

Coyote relaxed and enjoyed the view as Pedro and Carlos tried to kick each other’s asses, both with at least two other passengers holding them back. Now it was just a matter of time before one of the brothers surrendered and accepted the other's decision. Or for one of them to die, whichever came first. In any case, there would be a tiebreaker and no one could complain. Then Coyote could start the engine again and go wherever he was told to go.

Or at least that was what he thought until something hit the bow with a thud.

A chill ran down his spine as he leaned over the side to discover a human body floating in the river—swollen, and grayish, and half-decayed, just like the fishes he saw rotting a few minutes ago.

3:21 a.m.

Pedro slipped off and wriggled away from the couple that was holding him back, and then stretched his arm to grab his brother by the shirt’s collar. He was about to land a good punch right on Carlos’ ugly nose when a sudden, piercing scream made him stop.

The coyote was howling, but not to the moon.

He was crying to the river and to those who were now resting there.

Pedro shuddered and his fingers lost strength and let Carlos go, and his brother didn’t ram on him again. All the passengers gathered on both sides of the boat to watch the bodies that kept appearing, one behind the other, just as if someone were throwing them by the river’s source and letting them go down with the current. They looked like they were already rotting, but that couldn’t be true; the microbes and bugs that spoil the flesh don’t work that fast. No, the bodies were not rotting but rusting, going through some sort of accelerated corrosion.

Was there something in the water that was doing this to them, or had it all happened before they were even thrown in? The only thing the passengers could take for sure, given the horrifying expressions on the corpses’ deformed faces, was that they knew what would happen to them.

One by one the passengers returned to their seats. Pedro put his fingers to his temples and pressed in circles as he realized the world was ending and he never did anything but complain about everything. He had wasted a life studying, working, worrying about money, and scolding his little brother for refusing to waste his own life the same way he did. He couldn’t remember a single occasion when he had fun, did something with a passion, or took a risk for himself; it had always been his parents deciding for him, telling him what he had to do for the family’s sake.

Pedro raised his head and found Carlos standing in front of him with red and puffy eyes, still quivering, then he patted the empty seat next to him and asked for forgiveness. Carlos apologized for pushing him, and for ignoring him, and for taking the choice to go home on his behalf. If Pedro could try once more, he would go wherever Carlos wanted to go.

3:23 a.m.

Carlos sat next to his brother, looking toward the Mexican border, realizing that they probably would never see their mother and father again. Suddenly, he didn’t remember why he had once felt such an urgency to escape. His parents were assholes, but Carlos was also a little jerk. He could have helped take care of his sick father or done some chores around the house, but instead, he locked himself in his room every day after school, and then would spend the rest of the day doing nothing, wasting his life.

He couldn’t really blame Pedro for being so mad at him all the damned time.

“Perdón,” Carlos finally said, and his brother put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed hard to let him know he accepted the apology.

They stayed quiet for a while, looking at the red sky and wondering whether it would be blue by the morning or if it will stay like that forever, listening to the old woman praying and the rest of the passengers sobbing, until Coyote turned on the boat’s engine again and they knew they had to vote one last time.

“¿Y entonces?” For the very first time, Pedro asked Carlos what they should do.

Carlos felt a sudden impulse to go home, to meet their parents again, and to apologize to them as well. But it had taken them hours to get where they were and it would take just as long to get back, and the river wasn’t very navigable right now. “Creo que llegaríamos más rápido al otro lado.”

3:25 a.m.

“¿Pa’ dónde?” Coyote asked where to go one last fucking time. The bodies kept piling up around the boat, and the river would soon be unnavigable due to the solid mass. One by one, the passengers raised their hands and voted again, and when it was the two brothers’ turn, Coyote gulped and told himself that he must have been paying for the sins of a past life, of a time where he still had a name. But this time, the brothers agreed.

“Tú dale pa’delante y que sea lo que Dios quiera.” They told Coyote to move forward and let it be whatever God wanted.

Abigail Guerrero is an aroace and ESL author from Mexico. Her work has appeared in Bloodless: An Anthology of Blood-Free Horror, Un Río de Muchas Voces: Una Antología de Letras del Puerto, Toil & Trouble, and All Existing Literary Magazine.

Twitter: @_gail_guerrero

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