Down Division Road marched three odd police officers – or at the very least they were in the green uniforms of police officers. One was tall, skinny and dark as rich earth; another was short, substantial and fair of face; the third was tawny and two and a half feet tall.

They had marched out of Los Hijos, surprising a group officers who had been preparing to enter, and had no idea anyone had been searching that particular neighborhood. They had declared that the culprits of the whole nonsense were in a neighborhood very far away from the one the three of them had just exited, and that they had only managed to get out at this spot because the place was a damn maze. And then they had marched away down Division Road, in the full light of a sky too bright for anyone’s comfort, baking in the greater heat.

"How the hell is this working?" whispered Alejandra.

"With style," whispered Mojito.

"No, I mean –"

"Mother Marquez said Los Ojos overlook people of the cloth," whispered Maggie. "Priests and the like are people of order and morality, so obviously they can’t be doing anything wrong, so there’s nothing to watch for. I figured the same was true for police officers."

"I’ve seen cops kick the hell out of people," whispered Mojito.

"That’s called keeping order," whispered Alejandra.

A fair distance ahead of them, Maggie could see a couple police officers yanking something out of the hands of bawling children, and then walking away laughing.

"Holy smoke," whispered Mojito. "They’re literally taking candy from babies! That’s got to be something worthy of getting vanished!"

"That’s called perks of the job," whispered Maggie.

"We’ve proved we can get away with this while looking like cops," whispered Alejandra. "Can we go back now and fetch everyone else?"

"Got to keep going," whispered Maggie. "Just to be sure. And everyone will be safer come nightfall anyway."

They said little more as they approached the line of trees, until, near the entrance to the park, Alejandra slapped her forehead. "Oh, wait. Maggie, we forgot to turn Mojito back into a girl. Mojito, you must have been annoyed this whole time."

"Back?" said Mojito. He made a disgusted face.

"I did say a little bit," said Maggie. "And what a long bit it’s been, eh?"

"I am extending the length of a ‘bit’ to a hundred million zillion billion years," said Mojito. "It is in my authority as a big tough police officer. Harrumph."

Alejandra chuckled. "Yes, officer. Oh, but Officer Mojito, please, tell this common peasant, if you please – if this is something you enjoy, why did I never hear you say anything about it when you were old?"

The sky pulsed brighter once.

"Maybe safer to discuss in the shadows of the trees," murmured Maggie.

Down the forest lane, two green-uniformed officers strode smartly, one tall and lanky, one shorter and substantial. The shorter one carried a third, rather much shorter officer in her arms. They all breathed easier, having escaped both the heat of the day and the attention of Los Ojos. Probably.

"Is it safe for Mojito to answer now?" whispered Alejandra.

Maggie darted out of a patch of bright sunlight, into the shadows. "If we stay hidden in darkness?" said Maggie. "I feel safer that way. Alright, Mojito, do you have an answer?"

"Sometimes that is the only answer a child can giveI don’t know," said Mojito.

"That’s not an answer, young man."

Mojito groaned. "Why can’t you believe me when I say I don’t know? I don’t know if it was because I wasn’t certain until this very day, or because the few times I heard people talking out loud about being like me they got vanished and the sky turned really bright and I got spooked so I never said anything about it ever again Maybe it’s the second one."

"Or both?" said Alejandra.

Mojito nodded. "Both is good."

"They shared my fate," said Maggie, "but I came back, and they...went away somewhere. Who knows where anyone goes, when Los Ojos take them?"

"Suppose you could ask Luis," said Alejandra.

Maggie grimaced. "I could have."

The sky flashed even brighter.

"You could ask Los Ojos," whispered Mojito.

"Shh." Maggie shrank back from the patch of light, even deeper into the shadows. She took Alejandra by her free hand and led her through the darkness alongside the forest lane, still following it yet not daring to approach. No one said a further word.

As they got further along the path, they encountered, here and there, a small shrine. And at each shrine would be a nun – or whatever sort of convent Mother Marquez was leading, because these nuns were all the ones Maggie had seen back at Los Hijos.

She didn’t especially want to speak with them. They gave her the shivers. But, neither Maggie nor Alejandra were especially good at creeping through underbrush without making a racket of leaves and twigs. So it was that at the first shrine, a woman who had been kneeling in prayer suddenly looked up, catching sight of Maggie and company. Possibly because Alejandra’s skin stood out like a ghost in the darkness. "Hello," said the nun placidly, without an iota of emotion crossing her face. "You are here for Mother Marquez?"

Maggie gulped. "Can’t deny it."

"I am Sister Margarita. May you ever be as enduring as the mountains, Maggie." She bowed.

"Sister Margarita," said Alejandra. "If you would be so kind, can you go back to our people in Los Hijos and tell them that the police-uniform trick worked? It is safe for them to make their way here two by two, if they are wearing the right outfit."

"And where are the uniforms?" said Sister Margarita.

"Here in my arms," said Maggie. "No, wait a – whulp!" A meters-tall stack of clothing dropped into her arms. "My and my big mouth," she groaned.

Sister Margarita took the stack from Maggie, lifting it as easily as she would a loaf of bread. She made to take it down the path – and then paused. "This is going to look conspicuous. How am I supposed to get these to Los Hijos without drawing attention?"

"How is the mouse supposed to get the bell on the cat," muttered Alejandra.

"If it’s two by two you only need two uniforms," said Mojito.

"Such a clever little lad!" said Sister Margarita. She dumped the stack of uniforms on the ground, picked up two, and scurried off.

Maggie and company continued on their way. Once again they attempted to skirt the shrine, at Maggie’s insistence, and once again they failed to not attract the attention of the nun praying there. She waved them over. "Greetings," she said, "I am sister Michelada."

"That’s...not the kind of name I’ve ever heard before," said Alejandra.

"Everything is new to me," said Maggie. "Sounds nice."

"Hmmmm…" said Mojito. "I’ve heard it before."

"Shall I tell Mother you’re on your way?" said Sister Michelada.

Maggie frowned. "Mother Marquez, you mean?"

"Oh!" said Sister Michelada. "Yes, of course, that is who I mean. Excuse me." She scurried off, up the path, before taking a sharp right and crashing through the underbrush.

"Something is fishy," said Maggie.

"Something smells," said Mojito, "but I’m not smelling fish."

Once more the three of them made their way forward, and once more they attempted to skirt the shrine, to no avail. This time the nun came to meet them. "Silly geese," she said, "did you think it was possible to sneak past us? I am Sister Batida."

"I have a theory about all these names," said Mojito.

Sister Batida smiled at him, but it was really only raising the corners of her lips a little; it did not reach her eyes. "You will have time to tell it when you reach Mother."

"Mother Marquez?" said Maggie.

"Sure," said Sister Batida.

So the game continued, as Maggie and company tried, and failed, to evade the notice of the nuns. Sisters Cachaça, Macuá, and Batanga spotted them after they made too much noise traveling through the underbrush; Sisters Caipirinha, Paloma and Sangrita spotted them from far up the path; Sisters Colombia, Mimosa, Piscola, Crusta and Pulque quietly greeted them from behind.

Maggie sighed. "We’re not fooling anyone are we?"

"Why would you want to?" said Sister Pulque. "You were invited."

"And the shrines are for…"

"Mother will tell you," said Sister Pulque.

"Mother Marquez?"

"Sure," said Sister Pulque. She made her way straight through the thick underbrush and disappeared from sight.

Maggie and company continued onward, until, at last, the path dwindled and petered out completely. There was nothing ahead but underbrush – tangles of thorns, as Maggie could see surrounding the patches of intense sunlight.

"Great," said Mojito. "How do we get through?"

"You could ask me," said a voice from the darkness.

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