THE LAUGHING GOD'S KISS
"Your father has been swallowed by the god of this place."
Victoria Glenn glanced incredulously at her pilot then focused her binoculars on the narrow green valley below. "Does the local god fancy human meals?"
Their tiny plane quivered as a wind current caught it and pushed it toward the jagged mountainside. Juan Mueller fought the control yoke. The plane steadied.
"The Laughing God guards these mountains like a mother her young. He may laugh with you or at you. He is a god with two faces."
"If he has swallowed my father and is a just god, he'll spit him back out. My father is a good man."
“These mountains are a maze and as secret as a woman's heart. If you know them not, you may never come out. Bands of guerrillas are said to hide here and kill the unwary.”
The engine coughed. Juan swore and tapped at the fuel gauge.
Straightening, she dropped the binoculars onto her lap. "What's wrong?"
Sweat shone across her pilot’s plain Germanic face. "We should have half a tank, but it is gone. We must land here."
She stared down at the sharp rocks and the narrow ribbon of valley. Her voice shook despite her best effort. "There is no here."
The engine coughed again. "Mary, Mother of God, protect us. And the Laughing God turn his kind face upon us."
The plane stalled and began to fall.
Victoria closed her eyes as the mountains hurled toward them.