A Novella Excerptby Patricia Grace King
Val walked out to the milpas, the fields, with the mayor to count the dead bodies. She wrote down the date and the place where they found them. Who they were, or had been, was harder to tell. Their noses were missing, their tongues were gouged out, the skin sometimes peeled from their faces. Together they tried—Val and the mayor—to estimate the hours since death. There were shadings of color: brown into red into purple-green-blue and then black. There were gradations of swelling, and of what happened after the swelling. For the first several months the mayor was better than Val at such details.