by Theresa C. Gaynord
February 12, 1901 ~ Province of A Coruña, Galicia, Spain.
Agony coursed back and forth through every cell of Francisco
Ortega’s body. His face burned from the fever and he writhed in pain
while throwing up blood into a pail. His head lolled back from the
heavy weight and he slumped against the windowpane watching the clouds
drift passed the crescent moon while crying in shame at what he’d
become. His eyes locked with the portrait of the bullfighter that hung
over the fireplace mantle. Tuberculosis had systematically reduced him
to the whimpering man he was today. He shifted his foot on the floor
and caught himself from falling. A bang on the door of his home
startled him as he heard metal click open. With flowing white gown and
black hooded cape the curandera ~ healer walked in with a thick
handkerchief over her nose and mouth.
“You came. Help me Eulalia. Don’t let me die like this.”
He took a step toward her but she held out her hand to stop him from
approaching. She kept her distance as she whispered through the cloth.
“There is only one thing that will save you. Find a young boy and
drink his blood. You must do this in the dead of night when all is
still. Offer the sacrifice to the Acalica by leaving the remains of the
boy in the banks of the river Miño.”
“No. I can’t. I can’t do that.” Francisco said.
“It is the only way.” Eulalia responded.
She turned to leave and Francisco noticed she was walking with
backward facing feet. His eyes widened in horror and he wrestled with
Three nights passed and Francisco woke from a deep sleep feeling a
regenerative energy coursing through his veins. He sat down at the
dining room table with a hearty breakfast before him. He ate fast,
saliva drooling from the sides of his mouth, newspaper on his lap,
headlines in bold ink, Boy Found Dead By The Banks Of The River Miño.
Blood Drained From Body. Cause Of Death, Unknown.
Three women all dressed in black converged at the market in
conversation, exchanging stories and town gossip. Bernardito swore
under his breath and dug his nails into his flesh from the frustration
of the two hour chatter. He sucked the blood from the wound then
withdrew as his mother slapped his arm, striking him a couple of times.
“What have you done?” She asked, as the other women gasped, watching
“I’m bored! I want to go play! I don’t want to listen to you and the
other two daily gassetts of the town talk all day!”
He curled his fists and beat on himself in a fit of rage. For a
child of seven he was willful and his mother Elvirita could not handle
him very well.
“Allright, Bernardito. Calm down.” She said, opening her purse.
“Here’s some money for a chocolate bar. Go play in the park and I
will pick you up there when I’m done. But don’t leave that area. Do you
Bernardito shook his head yes and grabbed the money from his
mother’s hand as he ran off leaving the three women standing there in
“He’s a child. I understand his frustration.” Elvirita said.
The other two women gave her a wry smile.
Bernardito crossed the street and ran down the road to the park
where the swings were. Clarita was already sitting on a swing licking
an ice-cream cone. He sat down on the one next to her.
“I saw you, how you spoke to your mom.” She said.
“Yeah? So what?” Bernardito responded.
“Haven’t you heard? If you don’t behave, he comes for you at night
and steals you away in a big black sack. Then he kills you slowly,
draining and drinking your blood.” Clarita whispered, scaring
Bernardito just a bit.
She was older than him around the age of nine and she knew how to
get her little brothers to behave at home.
“You’re making that up! Say it! Say you're making it up!” Bernardito
“I’m not making him up. Haven’t you heard of him?” Clarita asked.
“Heard of who?” Bernardito asked.
“El Cuco! El Viejo Del Saco!” Clarita said.
“I don’t believe in that crap.” Bernardito responded as he began to
Clarita smiled at him and as she got up and walked away she said one
last thing to him,
“You better behave or he’ll come for you.”
“Stupid bitch! There’s no such thing!” Bernardito yelled out.
The weather changed rapidly and a hailstorm ensued. It was so
powerful that it disoriented Bernardito and he took off running away
from the park into the wooded area by the banks of the river to a
A couple of minutes later Elvirita ran over to the park searching
for her son, screaming his name. He was nowhere to be found.
Bernardito huddled in the cave shivering.
“She cursed me that stupid bitch.” He said to himself.
He pushed through the feeling of fear and became aggressive once
“My ancestor was a brave bullfighter! I don’t fear anything!”
Through the ripples of steam forming in the cave’s entrance small
wizened men appeared. Bernardito stood up slowly as they spoke.
“We are the Acalica. Stay in the cave and you will be safe. He’s
following you and knows your name. We control the weather and caused
the storm to save your life.”
“Liars!” The boy shouted as he hit his head repeatedly.
“I’m imagining it!”
He looked back to the entrance and saw the light of the full moon
illuminating the darkness. He wondered how long he had been there
before he darted outside.
The dark haired woman with backwards facing feet was the last thing
he saw as the shadow of a man with a burlap black sack whisked him
La Ciguapa and El Cuco had claimed yet another victim.
© 2019 Theresa C. Gaynord
Theresa likes to
write about matters of self-inflection and
personal experiences. She likes to write about matters of an out-of
body, out-of-mind state, as well as subjects of an idyllic, pagan
nature and the occult. Theresa writes horror, as well as concrete
gritty and realistic dramas. Theresa is said to be witch and a poet.
(within the horror writing community).
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