The tips of cattails bowed beneath the swell of the breeze as duckweed sloshed upon the whipped water. The day had been calm, warm and bright. All morning, birds had blanketed the stretching wetland with their calls and songs, but now there was only the wind and its cries. A woman stood among the reeds and brush on the edge of the water, head dropped, and she allowed the cries to consume her.
She listened, and she was still. In the wind, she heard the shrieks of eagles and the bleating of mice. She heard the empty stomach of a dying coyote and the soft footfalls of long dead men carrying wooden spears. She heard the wailing of a mother and curses of the mad. The cries grasped at her in their angst. They circled and bit at her, but she allowed them no hold. She searched -- searched among the cries.
The wind slashed upon the wetland. Stalks broke under its screams as the water rolled violently over itself. The overcast sky above darkened and lowered, unleashing a torrent of rain. The woman flinched. Her face grimaced. And, she doubled over as her stomach emptied upon the brush. Yet, the wind and rain continued to drive at her. It pushed at her. It roared its might. The woman convulsed from the pain, clenching her teeth to hold her sanity. She covered her ears and shook her head as she tried to escape the squall in her mind. The cry she had searched cut through her. Her chest heaved. Her head was thrown back and blood crept like tears from her eyes.
The cry continued to thrash upon her, pushing her away from the water of the slough, centering its power upon her. The woman howled from the agony, but a hidden will crept from within the woman. She pushed herself forward into the water but fell to her knees as the muck grasped at her bare feet below, yet the woman dragged herself upward and further into the water. The cry became a red darkness, striking like lightning and cracking the woman's core with its thunder. She crumbled into the water and fell below its surface. The cry of the wind let out one last shout before relenting.
The wetlands went quiet. A sad stillness. The sky hung heavy with anger and pride. The cry of the wind remained, ready to pounce.
After several moments, the duckweed on the now still surface parted like oil from where the woman went under. At last, the woman bolted tall from beneath the water. In her hands she held the skeleton of a muskrat, and she raised it above her head. The wind screeched at the woman, swirling and flicking at her, but the cries within the wind recoiled.
A bird chirped. And, the muskrat leapt from the woman's outstretched hands into the water. It dove deep, then surfaced several meters from the woman. It looked at her briefly, taking in her green eyes with its own, before slapping its tail upon the water and swimming off, far into the wetlands.
The woman trudged out of the slough and walked to where she parked several miles away. In her car, she grabbed her cell phone and made a call.
"Shoeless," the green eyed woman said into the phone. "Camacho has been chased away, just as I chased his foulness from your soul. Your ballpark may be built upon this land for his curse now wanders in other worlds."
SACRAMENTO (AP) -- The Sacramento Mad Popes announced today the construction of a new ballpark, The Basilica of Muskrat Slough, to be built upon the once inhospitable wetlands southwest of the city. Heavy machinery and labor crews are working around the clock to drain the slough beds and construct the new gem of the Brewster Baseball Association prior to opening day of 2045.