Navajo Shape-Shifters

“It was over fifteen years ago. Mother left for the evening with the other grownups, and my cousin Bidzil and I were in charge. Ahiga was elsewhere. We were in Uncle Gus’s trailer playing cards with the little kids. Someone knocked on the door, which was weird right off. Usually, a person knocks and calls out. I saw a shadow through the window next to the door. Bidzil went to check it out, but there was nobody there, so he closed the door and locked it.”

“Here are your salads.” The waitress moved in and set the plates down. No one even looked her way. Everyone’s eyes were on Katie.

“Pepper, ground pepper?”

Rory nodded his head, and she twisted the pepper grinder on everyone’s salad.

“Can I get anything else?” The waitress asked.

No one responded; the waitress left with her serving tray.

“I saw this person in the window just standing there watching us,” Katie continued.

“But no one was there when Bidzel opened the door.”

“Was there a porch light?” Rory asked.

“Yes, it was dark, but with the porch light, you could see a person standing there.”

“Okay, and you said it was a person?”

“Yes, at first I thought it was.”

“What made you change your mind?”

“It reappeared after Bidzil walked away from the door. It was tall, standing abnormally stiff. The thing had a pure white face like a full moon and two burning red eyes. It didn’t move. It just kept watching us. I told Bidzil to turn off the lights. He did, but it stayed on the porch stiff as a statue. I told Bidzil we should go to sleep; it wasn’t doing anything to bother us.

We sat for a long time with the thing, not moving, and us not sleeping. We did fall asleep. A piercing whine from one of the dogs woke me at one in the morning. Everything went quiet again, too quiet. Not even the sheep were making noise.

I looked over; the thing wasn’t at the window. Then I heard a noise above me. Something was walking on the roof. It sounded like horses’ hoofs. It woke Bidzil too, and he was so scared I told him to put his fingers in his ears and not to listen."

“Well, that sounds dumb, Katie.”

“I was twelve years old and scared shitless, Rory. You make me so mad sometimes; wait till it happens to you.”

“When the thing was standing at the window, did you get a good look at its face?” Rory asked.

“When I first saw it, I thought it was somebody I knew a long time ago. But it sounded like a horse when it walked on the roof; that’s what woke me. I kept my eye on Bidzil and told him not to go anywhere near the windows.”

“You need to eat your salad, Katie.”

“Oh yeah. Pass the salt, please.”

“So, was that the end of the episode?” Rory thought it was a childhood memory, embellished.

“No.” Katie knew she hadn’t convinced him. She knew these things were hard for outsiders to understand. She was sure of the truth of this story.

When she started in again, Rory noticed her voice and speech patterns changed. She sounded more and more like a petrified twelve-year-old girl.

“The skinwalker stopped walking above us about three in the morning, but later on, it returned. I was checking on the little cousins. They were sound asleep in the backroom, and I was making sure they were okay when I heard Bidzil crying. He was in the living room crying, just staring at the door. This time the thing I saw standing there looked like a wolf with red eyes watching Bidzil, but it must have done something to him because he was frozen. He stood there for a long time and cried. He was afraid, and I was scared too. But I didn’t cry.”

She stopped and played with the food on her plate.

“I started yelling at him. I said, ‘Bidzil!’ I shouted his name as loud as I could, and he turned and looked at me. I told him to get away from the window; it was still there staring at him, and Bidzil didn’t move. I crawled towards him, and that thing kept looking at him. It was holding him there, trying to make him open the door. I knew it wanted to make him open the door. But he was frozen like that.”

“Did you say it looked like a wolf?”

“Yes, it did, standing on its hind feet.

“And you saw the thing, did you say it had glowing red eyes you saw the eyes too?”

“Yes, I did... glowing red eyes.”

“How close to the window were you guys?”

“Bidzil was close to the window like that much.” She held her hands four inches apart.