"We have it on monitor C-12, colonel. Quick before it gets away," FBI agent Johnson called out to Colonel Evens of Naval Intelligence.

"Which damned screen is that, Johnson? You have fifty frickin' monitors in here."

"Hurry up, Evens. 'C' means three down and '12' means twelve from the left. The one over the red Exit sign. Oops, too late. It's gone."

"Damned FeeBIes. Gotta make it so complicated."

"There. Monitor F-4. The pizza truck will be here in, let's see now ... four minutes and 65 seconds."

"You mean five minutes and five seconds, don't you, Johnson?"

"You use your Naval Intelligence terminology and I'll use my own, colonel."

"That's the problem with this Homeland Security crap," Mr. Peterson, from the XYZ agency quipped from across the room where he had both feet up on the Alert console, left foot only half an inch from a prominent red button that would put every police force in the nation on standby. It was his duty to guard that button.

The CIA representative on the team, Ms. Janice Yumyum – though few dared risk her ire by calling her that – checked her pistol before leaving to wait outside for the delivery truck.

According to Homeland Security dictates, Team "D" for Dog was at the start of a 36 hour National Security shift. It was a top-level HotShot Station, one of six underground complexes given the responsibility of guarding the Southern Border of the US against terrorist attacks.

Fearing politics and favoritism, each team was comprised of personnel from widely divergent agencies. The last two members of Team D, the Eagle Scout and the NSA representatives, were outside in the desert playing cowboys & Indians.

***

Bubba Jackson sat alone in an alley in Dallas. His stuffed chair and portable television formed an artificially filthy oasis in the interior of the cleanest alley in town. Bubba had it swept daily by one of three flunky guards, one at each end of the alley and the third behind him with an AK-47.

Every few minutes a runner would come in, hand him money and receive packages of white powder. The powder was kept in a box on a table next to Bubba, ready for distribution. The money went into the same box. In an emergency, such as a police raid, Bubba sat moments away from an open doorway with a steel blast-proof door.

Bubba was bored. If he had anyone he could trust with the job, he'd have been more than satisfied to spend the day with some choice crack-whores in his mansion in the suburbs. But a man had to do what a man had to do.

There was little sunlight in his special alley, so he didn't see the shadow of a large birdlike creature as it swooped down at him. Sharp claws sliced into Bubba's neck, dropping his severed head into his own lap while other six-inch claws flashed, the guard behind him folding into a bloody heap.

With a fluttering sound which alerted the other guards, the aerial monster beat its wings and swooped back into the sky, taking the box of goodies with it.

The other "soldiers" were too shocked to fire. Instead, they dropped their weapons and ran.

***

"There it is again, mister," Johnny Simpson of the Eagle Scouts blurted, sitting back in a chair at the HotShot Homeland Security station. Taking a break from his comic book, he'd looked up at monitor B-23 in time to see a huge bird flying south toward the Mexican border. "La Chusa," he cried. "Mommy used to tell me about her."

Yumyum, at the monitor controls, managed to swoop the camera in close, showing a clear picture of a leathery shape with an extremely ugly human face. It was clutching something. "It's got a bomb," she informed the others.

"Call the Border Patrol artillery," National Security Agent Shepfield ordered, reaching for a telephone.

"Hands off, Shep, you dog you." Johnson from the FBI shoved him away. "It's my turn on the telephone." He picked it up and started to dial.

"Hold on." Peterson from the XYZ Secret Police grabbed the hand-piece from him. "Look up edict 10-17 paragraph six. It's my phone. My agency pays the monthly bills. I'll call.

"You guys cut it out," little Johnny screamed in desperation. "The border patrol artillery gets off work at six pm. It's five-after right now."

"How can they do that?" Yumyum asked.

"It was a special act of congress. The Texas governor took the matter to the Supreme Court," Johnny answered. “The governor won’t authorize them overtime pay.”

"That thing, whatever it is, flies over every night at this time. Track it to its destination, Yumyu ... I mean Agent Janice," Colonel Evens ordered. "We'll hurry down there and find out what it is. It has to be a threat to National Security."

"Just what is this 'La Chusa'?" FBI Agent Johnson asked the Eagle Scout representative.

"According to legend La Chusa, or Bloody Mary, is a particularly ugly old woman. She can fly, and steals souls from the unwary. Many think she comes from Mexico but operates all over the world."

"Uh, does this creature use modern weapons, like electronics and firearms?" Colonel Johnson asked. He had an ingrained fear of having holes drilled into his carcass, which was why he worked in Intelligence rather than on battlefields.

"Not that I've ever heard," Johnny answered. "She has no super powers. In her human state, she's only a particularly disfigured and ugly old flying woman."

"I can take on any decrepit old lady," NSAagent Shepfield boasted. "I've stomped many of them."

"We'll get it, or her, tomorrow night," Colonel Johnson affirmed. "I can have a helicopter unit with M-269 mini-guns and a Ranger battalion ready to cross the border in ten minutes." He pushed the appropriate button on a cellphone.

"Uh," Eagle Scout Johnny asked, "isn't that overkill? For one old lady with or without wings."

"It's the military way," Colonel Johnson replied with pride.

"I think five of us can do it alone," Yumyum suggested. "It would look better on our records."

So it was agreed that one helicopter and five of the HotShots would take on the difficult task of arresting an old lady across the border in Mexico. Only the Eagle Scout would be left alone to coordinate the attack from their control room.

***

The next night, in Amarillo, a drug dealer named Elvis Jesus Rodriguez sat on the patio of his home, studiously filling little baggies with bits of a large crack cocaine rock. Busily weighing the ensuing dribbles of product, he didn't notice a shadow falling over him.

With a loud screech, La Chusa landed on his back, shoving his face into the table and knocking his scales over. It reached down and bit a chunk out of his neck.

Pulling a shiny object from him – his soul? – it shoved the limp body off the table. Palsied skinny old fingers scooped up the drugs while a wrinkled and weatherbeaten female face hovered over the table. With her loot, Bloody Mary rose into the sky and flew south.

***

"HS one to HS two. HS one to HS two," Johnny spoke into a radio, eyes on a monitor above his small head, "the target has been spotted and identified, flying at ten-thousand feet toward the border."

"On the way, HS one," agent Yumyum replied. She and the other agents were in a helicopter flown by Colonel Evens. It rose quickly. Within two minutes, the craft showed on Johnny's screen.

Johnny was glad he had his merit badge in radar tracking. The Boy Scouts had modernized and now offered badges in many electronic subjects. Woodcraft, forestry, and kosher tampon rolling were old-fashioned in the modern age.

He guided the armed helicopter onto the same path as the target, where it followed at a leisurely pace. The La Chusa was soon in their sights, flapping along like a particularly large bird.

"Got it in sight, HS one," Yumyum replied to base. While the colonel flew, the others checked their weapons, everything from a portable flame-thrower to automatic rifles. With the myriad of firearms on the chopper, they were satisfied they could take on a little old lady, even one with wings.

The La Chusa landed in front of an old-folks home in the suburbs of Chihuahua, Mexico. It took the helicopter five minutes to find a decent landing spot and another few minutes for the agents to arrive at the entrance.

Storming inside, weapons primed and extended, they found fifty-three elderly residents reading and watching television. A few were having a walker race, trying to be first into the enema room.

"Get these people all together so we can find the one we want," Colonel Evens ordered, holding an automatic rifle on a table where two couples were playing strip poker, clothing and pampers piled in the center of the table.

The others hurried through the premises, gathering up octogenarians, shoving strings of wheelchairs and wheeled-beds back to the reception area. During the process, three oldsters suffered heart attacks when faced by armed American HotShots.

Within the hour, all of them were assembled in a large lounge at the entrance. It then took another half-hour for nurses to change diapers on those overly excited by the activity. The few staff were then handcuffed and dumped into an office area to get them out of the way.

"Which one of you is the La Chusa?" XYZ Agent Peterson asked, perplexed. There were thirty old women. Although Agent Yumyum found the stolen drugs in one room, they had no idea who they belonged to. No one had been in the room at the time of the raid.

"We'll have to take the ugliest old women with us. Let the courts sort them out," Agent Shepfield suggested.

In the end, five particularly ugly old Mexican women were taken into custody, handcuffed, and returned to the helicopter along with the stolen drugs as evidence.

***

"A job well done," Agent Johnson stated from the helicopter, feet resting on the body of a whimpering old lady. "Team Doggie will all get commendations for this. Johnny will also earn another merit badge to wear proudly on his uniform."

Meanwhile, at the HotShot base, Johnny called the local FBI office. Other agents were waiting to take custody of the five suspects.

When the President heard of the apprehension of five terrorist suspects, taken without permission in a foreign nation, he smiled.

"Take them directly to Guantanamo," he ordered. "We won't torture them, only use that waterboard thing. Dipping their heads into life-giving water will be good for their constitution, cool and refreshing."

“Please don't mention that old piece of paper,” the Vice President interjected, spitting into a corner.

"What about the innocent ones?" one aide asked.

"In this war, holding four innocent people to maybe catch one terrorist is well worth it. They shouldn't have been associating with that damned La Chusa in the first place, " he replied.

The next night, a drug dealer in Dallas was killed, his stash stolen and a large bird seen flying away in the light of a full moon. The matter was mentioned to the President, who never admits to making mistakes. He simply ordered a dozen captured Mid-Eastern terrorists to be flown to a secret prison in Lebanon to make room in Cuba for more old women.

The End.
Hvysmker – Charlie