We knew they would come; it was only a matter of when, so we responded quickly to the alarm. I took my position at the upstairs double-glazed window – the guest bedroom at the front of the house affords a panoramic view to the west. That was one of the selling points when we bought the house five years ago, the views. Not that we’ve seen any equity growth since the troubles started. Last year, prices fell by six percent in Galway – because of the Mohicans.
It was early, but everyone was at their jobs. There was a lot of shouting. I wished we had spent more time putting away ornaments and pictures. With six of us I was confident we’d have enough fire power. I checked both rifles; fully loaded. I was still angry at how much we had been charged for them. The remote cameras on the gate posts aren’t very reliable, owing to the weak internet connection (it’s a semi-rural address, so the fibre broadband hasn’t reached us yet). They would usually smash them anyway.
Danny had the machine gun downstairs. I had doubts at first about giving him the responsibility, but he does a lot of sport at university and his reactions and strength far outweigh mine. His tuition fees are a constant headache, especially with what’s going on with property prices. Susan, his girlfriend, was with him. She’s been over here for two years. Her parents keep telling her to go home to Dublin where there’s no trouble, (her father’s a barrister – you need to be, the price of houses) but she’s enjoying NUI and wants to stay with Danny. She would help protect the downstairs windows. She is also sound on communication – her degree is in Media Studies – so she would inform the authorities.
It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the dawn light, but I could see movement in the trees. The house is in an excellent defensive position, being on an elevated plot. The challenge is the extent of the perimeter. It must be eighty yards, and the fence is inadequate in places. That’s another investment for next year. My job was to cover the border on both sides in front of the house and the gate, which could easily be opened if one of them got inside, but offered an excellent target, being directly ahead of me. The BMW was in an exposed position on the drive. If they damage that, I thought, they deserve everything they get! It’s impossible to get an exact colour match for the metallic paint.
My other responsibility was to listen for the roof. If they got inside, we were in trouble. Maureen had two pistols in our bedroom at the back. Of all of us, Maureen is the clearest thinker. ‘If we don’t kill them, they’ll kill us,’ she says. She is calm about property prices. ‘The secret is time, not timing.’
The one blind spot is the corner of the master bedroom. That’s where my sister comes in. Nuala couldn’t stay alone after she’d left that English eejit, and we had the space. My other sister and her family are in Cork, which hasn’t been under attack as much. Prices are growing steadily down there. With Nuala’s faith I doubted her ability to plant a bullet right between someone’s eyes, but like Maureen she is calm and intelligent and, armed with the shotgun, would soon dispatch any invaders that get into the roof space. I had a furious argument with Hooper Dolan about whether that kind of damage is covered on the insurance. Nuala also covered the back door. In hindsight, Maureen was right – we should have invested in security windows before the costs went crazy.
That leaves Brendan. He was always a friendly neighbour, if a bit of a busybody, and an extra pair of hands is useful. He had the advantage of having seen combat in the battle of the Spanish Arch back when there were hundreds of Mohicans. He claimed to have killed three himself, one face to face, but he might have been exaggerating. He was planning to go home after the last few have been rooted out and things go back to normal. His job was to patrol downstairs and watch the front door. The semi-automatic rifle is ideal for that task.
Brendan marshalled everyone when the alarm went off. There are trip wires thanks to Danny’s electrical engineering skills, but a good old-fashioned look-out is still the best defence, and the fact that they refuse to attack at night helped. He strode round the house yelling ‘Attack, Attack!’ We had all mobilised within about thirty seconds.
Six guns, six alert, focused adults. By now, Susan would have phoned the Gardaí and posted on social media, so the vigilantes knew where we were. The official response time is ten minutes, but if there is another attack elsewhere, we might need to hold out for longer. Often vigilante groups and neighbours arrive first. When Finbar Boyle’s bungalow next door was attacked at Easter, we armed ourselves and marched onto his front lawn. They scattered. Finbar and his two sons are tough old birds. They were lining up at their dormer window to lend extra firepower. They won’t come outside.
The shooting began at 6.30am, first light. I jumped when I heard the first shots from downstairs. Brendan and Danny were both shouting. Several Mohicans came swarming across the front lawn. From where my rifle was resting on the sill of the half-open window, it was an easy shot. Pop! One of them yelped and span. I shot him again as he lay wriggling. A second was heading across the lawn to try and get around the back. Two shots hit him simultaneously, one of them mine. I aimed for his head but hit him in the back. Someone downstairs shot his left thigh. He turned defiantly and got a third bullet in his belly.
Maureen and Nuala were busy at the back, too. There was one in the sycamore next to the garage, whooping and waving. His decorated face was about twenty feet away when I shot him in the eye. He fell to the ground, and as we had practiced, I gave him another for good measure. Crimson seeped out of his shapeless face. That’s going to take ages to get out of the granite flags. We only had the patio laid last year – less maintenance than decking. It would have been savage jet-washing a wooden surface.
Now, they were coming thick and fast. Danny was waiting in the dining room and let loose with the machine gun through the open window. It was worth every penny. They were torn to pieces. A group of four disintegrated in front of him. Bold lad, Danny!
I heard scuffling on the roof. I should have someone cut back those silver birches. These crafty beggars could easily remove a few tiles, and once inside, could lift the floorboards and drop into any room. I’m glad we decided against putting a Velux roof light in. You never get the value back. I yelled ‘Roof!’ Nuala appeared immediately in the doorway. Nuala followed the footsteps and calmly fired two shots through the ceiling. There was a high-pitched scream – she had caught one. The plaster went everywhere. That won’t do the carpet any good – it’s real Axminster. The insurance companies were clear; they won’t pay for damage resulting from defending property, which I think is quite unjust. The premiums have gone through the roof.
My biggest fear was coming face-to-face with one. Okay, I’d have a pistol, and he would have a tomahawk, but it’s that moment when you see the whites of their eyes, they seem fearless. It’s a good job they refuse to use guns like the Mohawks, but these are completely different to Mohawks; everyone knows that.
Nuala was patrolling the bedrooms listening for noise. I shouted down to find out how things were downstairs.
‘Got ’em all, I think.’ Danny shouted coolly.
There was a volley from next door; Finbar made a couple of holes in the timber of the gate, and I was about to complain about damage (oak is so dear these days) when I saw the distinctive hair of one peep over. I picked him off easily enough, right through the skull. They won’t like that – they are superstitious creatures. By now I was wondering where the Gardaí were.
My careful aim soon stopped one more. I was quite pleased with my shooting. We had practised with hand-drawn targets. My nephews had a giggle drawing Mohican heads. They would take their time with the hair and war paint, but the faces always had goofy teeth or crossed eyes, and they exaggerated the noses. They’re becoming good shots with the air rifles I bought them last Christmas. Teach them young, I say.
I shouted to Maureen.
‘Hit two,’ she shouted. ‘Can’t see any more.’ Nothing gets her flustered.
Normally they come in hunting parties of twenty or thirty. There are only a couple of hundred left in County Galway, so tonight’s success would be significant. By my count, we had killed a dozen.
They like a river, and Galway has been a regular haunt since the troubles started. ‘People of the flowing waters’ that’s what their name means; muh-heka-neew. There’s none flows faster than the Corrib. There was an interesting article in the Tribune. At one time there was a major encampment only a couple of miles upstream from here. They were so brazen. When they took over Menlo castle last year, you could see them across the river from the university. It took a full-blown military engagement to oust them; even then the braves almost all escaped.
Often, they send an initial attack to gauge resistance then follow up with a main assault. Brendan was moving from room to room shouting instructions about reloading. Susan appeared at the bedroom door. She was giving details on her iPhone. Surely the Army would mobilise soon.
‘Apparently, there’s been a raid on the new flats by the docks,’ she said. ‘They got in and killed an elderly couple.’
‘Was it the same tribe?’
‘They think so. Happened about an hour ago.’
‘What about us?’
‘Lower priority, it’s only the one house. The woman said they’d send a unit as soon as they can.’
‘Marvellous! Looks like we’re on our own.’
The phone chirped; Finbar.
‘Are you coming round?’ I asked.
‘We’re grand here, if it’s all the same. Letting you know that was a first wave. Noel Fitzmaurice on O’Flaherty’s farm reckons he saw more than thirty.’
‘Did you hear about the docks?’
‘Aye, it’s on the telly. That should get the vigilantes out.’
The worst part was the pause. I had only been involved in one battle before. When I say involved, I was only a witness. We were in an all-inclusive five-star resort in Lisbon last summer. They suddenly started working their way up the path beside the cascading pools, attacking anyone they could reach. Fair play, the hotel staff were fearless. They came swarming out, armed to the teeth, and waded in. The Mohicans quickly dispersed, but not before half a dozen had been mown down. I wondered what we would do if they reached the restaurant. Were we meant to defend ourselves with cutlery? A couple of German tourists had their own pistols, and there were armed security guards at the front. Only fair, considering what we paid for the resort. They collected the bodies into a heap while we ate dessert. Back then, there were tribes popping up all over Europe.
If they were going to come again today, they wouldn’t have the element of surprise. They would work out our positions and look for a weak spot. Support would get here unless they came immediately. I’m glad their superstitions prevented a night attack. It’s hard enough hitting a moving target.
I thought about disposing of the bodies. At first people let them collect their dead, but when it became more frequent, it was accepted that they could be thrown into the river. The Corrib flows so quickly it carries them out to sea. A pile of moccasins was left on the riverbank.
Whatever happens, it can’t carry on much longer. If they keep attacking this recklessly, there will be none left. And there are always recriminations. It’s hard to imagine what goes on in their minds – if they have minds at all.
Suddenly there was more shooting. Next door! I dashed to the back bedroom. Maureen was aiming out of the window. They were clambering all over the back of Finbar’s bungalow.
‘Are we going to go and help?’ she asked.
‘Not if we can avoid it,’ I said. You don’t want to go hand to hand with these barbarians.
‘They’ve been helping us,’ she said.
‘Yes, but only from inside.’
She aimed and fired, missed. The bullet took a bite out of Finbar’s render.
‘I could take Danny and Brendan out back and come up on them from behind, I suppose.’
Danny had had the same idea and came bursting in.
‘They’re not going to be able to hold them off. We’ve got to help!’
He shows no fear, that boy.
‘Okay, you, me and Brendan,’ I said. ‘Stick close together.’
Right on cue, Brendan arrived and repeated what we’d already agreed. My heart pounded as I tied the laces on my gardening boots. I’d never actually been face to face with one before.
Danny had the machine gun poised. It’s an Uzi or something. I didn’t get involved in specifications. I do know it cost two thousand Euros; we had to postpone getting a conservatory. The Uzi has 32 rounds which allows several short bursts. I took a pistol off Maureen. Brendan took the shotgun and gave Nuala his rifle.
Susan opened the back door for us and pointed her rifle out as cover while we all rushed out. As we turned the corner, to my horror I saw the whole tribe swarming towards the back of next door, dozens of them! They weren’t even attempting to be quiet.
Before I could think about going back inside, Brendan was howling and firing, a bit carried away.
‘Yippe-ki-yay, motherfuckers!’ he yelled and let loose with both barrels; a whole bunch of them seemed to fall back. It makes a hell of a noise, that shotgun. Danny calmly stepped forward and let a few short bursts go, rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat-tat. They were collapsing in a pile. I picked off a couple, one with a raised arm about to charge forward.
It was an uneven battle on Finbar’s back wall. Three guns were firing constantly out of the bathroom window above and Mohicans were dropping to the floor. A couple were hammering at the patio doors beneath, but the Pilkington glass was holding out against the axes. Danny showed the foresight to get alongside before letting rip so that he didn’t shoot the glass. They make an awful yelp when they are hit.
That’s when we took our one loss of the battle. Brendan was reloading, when one was suddenly upon him. He smashed into Brendan’s head three times with his tomahawk before he was shot from above. Two more ran towards Brendan’s wriggling body, and we all fired at once. They crumpled on top of him. Too late for poor old Brendan. By now the numbers were under control. To my delight, Maureen picked one-off halfway up the wall, and the rest turned and fled.
Right on cue, the vigilantes appeared from the footpath; a group of five, well-armed, all wearing wide-brimmed hats. They mopped up five or six that had survived the raid. When we were shifting the Mohicans’ bodies afterwards, I noticed that their moccasins had been decorated with flowers. I wondered why they would do that. A couple of vigilantes went to check on Brendan, but it was obvious he was gone. He had been brave, but foolhardy. Perhaps it was because he was alone that he was so fearless. He lost his wife to cancer the year after we moved in. I promised myself there and then I’d make sure he had a proper Christian burial.
Sirens sounded soon after that, and there were military and Gardaí everywhere. They’d made a hames of Finbar’s garden; it wasn’t going to be helped by dozens of people trampling all over it. We’d all join in relaying the lawn. We have a real sense of community round here. I’m afraid his roses are ruined for this year.
The leader of the vigilantes, who was wearing a Clint Eastwood style poncho, wanted a debrief. I invited everyone back for drinks even though it was breakfast time; it’s only polite. I told the leader, who called himself Earp, that he couldn’t bring his cheroot inside. The usual pattern is that everyone would congregate to discuss what had happened, and that would disintegrate into a serious drinking and boasting session. With all those muddy feet it’s a good job we had the hall tiled. Maureen was keen on that Karndean wooden flooring. Thankfully, I got my way for once! She took charge of drinks; it was a good opportunity to test out the new coffee machine. Nuala led everyone in a short prayer.
There will be an enormous clean-up project; the gate, the lawn and the patio for starters, and they’ve trampled all over my dahlias. That blasted ceiling will need re-plastering. At least they didn’t damage the BMW. Property prices aren’t going to recover anytime soon. Hopefully, this will be the last of the Mohicans, and we can all get on with our lives in peace.
The last event of the morning was when Susan drew everyone’s attention to a news story on RTE. Apparently, there has been an outbreak of Sioux in Sligo.
John D. Rutter completed an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and a PhD at Edge Hill University where he has taught part-time for several years. His stories have been published as chapbooks by Nightjar Press and In Short Publishing, in anthologies by Unthank Books Quinn Publication, in the Lancashire Post, and online by Holland Park Press, 1,000 Word Story, The Short Story and Synaesthesia Magazine. His first novel, Approval, will be published in 2021 by Saraband Books.