El Cuco

Nov. 7th, 2015 01:11 am
[personal profile] somnimiles
“El Cuco”

Mary and I came to Guadalajara for the annual film festival. We both had vacation time built up, and Mary thought it would be a nice trip for the both of us. We'd been work friends for a long time, and this sounded like a great way for the two of us to have some time off. Some packing, a four-hour flight, and we were sitting in a theater watching some incomprehensible short film in Spanish that appeared to be about a group of caballeros building a covered wagon in the desert. It almost felt like a date, even though she'd never shown any interest in me, but I didn't want to make things awkward so I decided we should just enjoy the film before returning to our separate rooms back at the hotel. Once the film was over, we left the theater to find a street cab. I thought maybe we’d hang back for a bit and let the crowd thin before leaving. .

I heard a loud crashing sound, and when I looked behind me, the theater was nothing but rubble, with a giant… thing standing in the middle of it. I didn't know if it had come out of the theater somehow or landed on top of the building, but it was ninety feet tall if it was an inch, black and mostly shapeless, and seemed to almost have the form of some kind of animal I couldn't identify. Apparently it was really pissed off at something because it was thrashing around doing its damnedest to rip the building to pieces, sending bits of mortar and very artsy glass flying through the air to land all across the parking lot. I looked over to see Mary standing there in shock, not sure that I’d be strong enough to carry her away if I needed to.

The creature started to slowly walk through the rubble-strewn parking lot, trailing dust and bits of glass as it strolled through the crowd, grabbing up moviegoers in its mouth and jerkily swallowing them whole. Its almost wolf-like head looked around for victims with eyes that didn't exactly glow but had a deep, heavy contrast against the dark shadow of its body, a shade of purple that didn’t belong in this reality. As it searched around the lot, its eyes fell on me. It stared directly at me, cocking its head to one side as if it recognized me and wanted to kill me.

Mary finally came out of her stupor and spoke: “John?”

“Yeah?”

“I think we need to fucking run. Like, now.”

I grabbed her arm and we took off down the street as fast as our feet could run, as the thing turned and came after us in pursuit. It tore through the crowd, ripping people in half as it stomped through them, making the ground shake a little as it ran and stopping to scoop up a mariachi singer into its mouth as a snack along the way. Down the street, Mary suddenly yanked me down an alley going between an office building and an old church that looked like it'd been built back in the 1800's, with ancient brick walls leading up to a large bell tower. It must have given up on us at that point, because it didn't seem to make any attempt at following us as we ran through the alley. Mary tapped my arm and pointed out a pickup truck with two men in the cab, hurriedly motioning for us to climb into the back, and we gladly accepted their charity. As the truck's engine roared to life and its tires began to spin on the street's surface, the sound was drowned out by a howl that could only be described as a demonic shriek caught somewhere between a panther's cry and a semi locking up its brakes. I'd never heard anything so horrifying in my life. And looking up, I saw that the big guy hadn't given up on us quite yet. It had jumped onto the roof of the church, with one taloned hand dug into the bell tower as it swung its head around and found us. It looked like it had gotten larger, and the truck bounced off the road a bit as it crashed to the ground and took chase, those dark, demon-tinted eyes locked on me as it ran.

Finally my voice worked again. “What in the name of fuck is this thing?”

“El Cuco,” Mary replied. “I think it's called El Cuco, that's what they were screaming, the title of one of the films the theater was showing. An old legend about a creature that eats children when they disobey their parents.”

“That thing?! How many kids was it supposed to eat, every one in the whole damn village?!”

“It's not supposed to be that big. I don't know why it's that big, I don't know why.” She was panicking.

“I guess the children of Guadalajara were really goddamn naughty this year.”

I’d always had sort of a crush on Mary, but never told her. Now I wished that I had. She’d been at the company a few years longer than me, and showed me around when I first began working there. We’d flirted as a joke on occasion, but when we started going out to dinner and shows together things stayed strictly friends. She was fun to be around, and I never really had much of a problem with being “friendzoned”. Mary was the kind of good person that worried about other people, always checking in on people that called in sick, but nice enough not to say anything if she figured out they were just playing hooky. She remembered people’s birthdays, made cakes and threw parties. Me, I was an asshole who barely spoke to anyone except to complain. I didn’t remember people’s names, much less birthdays, and I was stymied as to why she chose me as a friend, but she did. Mary deserved better than this, and as she shook uncontrollably in the bed of that pickup, I took her hand and tried to calm her. I didn’t know if I could be of any comfort, but at least I could be there.

As the truck entered a city park, the beast stood up on its hind legs. which appeared more human now. The head was larger, rounder, like a large black gourd. Those diabolical eyes continued to stare down at me while it pursued the truck, picking up speed and shaking the ground with each step. Mary screamed when it picked up some twisty art sculpture standing in the middle of a fountain and tossed the object at us like a spear, sending the truck rolling and Mary and I flying onto the grass of the park. As El Cuco approached, I heard the driver of the truck groaning, barely still alive. it plucked him from the cab, drew back one arm and threw him across the park causing his body to bounce off of a large statue of Minerva, leaving a stain of blood on her bosom.

The thing stared down at us with an angry expression on its face as it slowly approached. Mary was lying on the ground unconscious, and in my terror I couldn't decide whether to flee or grab her and try to drag her somewhere safe. When the nightmare stood towering directly over us, he bent down, picked Mary up off of the ground, lifted her above his head and popped her into his mouth like a candy from one of those food stands. El Cuco then put his gargantuan black head right in front of me, and said something in Spanish in a demonically comical voice. I don't speak the language so I couldn’t understand what it said, but the demon seemed to give me a scolding taunt before smiling, standing fully upright again, and turning to walk away. I couldn't do anything but watch as it began to disappear behind the city's buildings, until I finally found the courage to get up and run.

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