Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Woman in White

(Vanishing Hitchhikers/La Llorona)

One of the Things that Make Me Happy to be a Girl

The aforementioned terms that title this Monster Wednesday [now Thursday, sorry! :/]  post are often used to identify a certain stereotype of tortured souls.

A young woman, in a despairing fury over her treatment at the hands of her husband, murders her children. Or she kills them because they prevent her from marrying the man of her dreams. The most known variant of this legend has to be Mexico's La Llorona. In any case, she dies [mostly by killing herself after realizing what she's done] and becomes a spirit doomed to roam the Earth, sobbing and wracked with guilt for all eternity.

[Lets pause and get our facts straight here: The woman murdered her own kids, in cold blood, and we're supposed to let her go around scaring people to death? Someone find out where her remains lay, then salt and burn the b%$^#!]

Dogs go mad when they hear her cry.

Not just anyone can hear her cries though, they are like a warning or a foreshadowing for mishap. Her presence is an omen for tragedy, sickness and in extreme cases, even death.

So if you are able to hear her wails, break out the candles and holy-whatevers that you have [supposedly, it is possible to make her keep her distance by brandishing a silver crucifix] and start praying like tomorrow never comes, because maybe... just maybe... it won't.

Now, don't start panicking every time you hear your neighbor's dog bark or howl tonight, it might just be a cat.

Witnesses have often described the spectral appearances as, “the floating shape of a woman”, garbed in a tattered white dress. Sometimes without a clear face or feet, as if she aimlessly wandered the world, but couldn't come into actual contact with it.

My hometown of Vega Baja has its own version of the Woman in White myth. It's an urban legend that's been going around for generations that talks about, “La China”, the spirit of a beautiful young woman with almond shaped eyes that haunted a narrow curve of road 686 of said town. She was said to hitch rides or, more often than not, to simply hop onto the backseat of any car steered by a lone,   well-off man. [Gold digger to the end baby!] 

She appeared beautiful to them [them = those that stopped to pick her up]. She would ask them to take her home, promising to repay them when they got there, but she'd disappear just as they reached their destination. Some of the men dared to call on the house that she'd pointed out, only to find out that the girl they described had been dead for years.

That would happen if the guy knew how to be a gentleman and behaved respectfully, if the man tried to touch her or made any kind of inappropriate advances toward her, he would vanish, never to be seen or heard of again.

[There in lies the tricky part, because she presents herself in such an alluring way for men. Maybe if she stood there looking like an overweight, middle-aged housewife in a bathrobe, fluffy slippers and rollers they wouldn't stop. But she shows herself as a beautiful maiden and the suckers fall for it every single time.]

They'd be all like, “Ooh!”, and
she'd be there waiting and thinking,
“Hehehe, you're so screwed...”.

[It almost seems unfair, but it serves them right, the dirty pigs. *sticks tongue out*]


Now, the others that chose not to stop and aid her, got off a little easier. She merely gave them a small scare before letting them go on their way.

As soon as they went by her curve, she appeared in their backseat demanding a ride and when they looked at the rearview mirror they saw her true face, a ghastly reflection of death, before she vanished. [Some reported their wallets vanishing as well, but I don't know...]

If you noticed that I'd been using the past tense back there, that's because that road has gone through a lot of transformations in the last few years.

There is no curve anymore, the bit of woods that made it seem hidden were torn down and leveled. The small back-road has been paved over to become an avenue that connects the rural area near the beach to the urban part, bustling with tiny shopping malls and fast food restaurants, near the center of town.

It makes me wonder about what happened to La China, would a reconstruction of such magnitude affect her hauntings in any way? Maybe her spirit is now free to move as it desires and is haunting the unsuspecting male population on the wealthier parts of our island near the hotels and casinos.


[Like I said earlier, it kind of makes me happy that I'm a girl.]


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Haunted Dolls

(Possessed Toys)

Because Ted is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

For some weird and unexplained reason, dolls appear to attract ghosts or spirits. A lot scarier, is the fact that they seem to pick up signature traits of the spirits of the children to which they are the closest and carry these so called traits even after their human parallel has ceased to live.

People then collect these dolls as antiques, passing them down to the new generations to come. With so much history under their proverbial belts, it's no wonder that most of us are creeped out by them.

Author Anne Rice [very dear to me because of her Vampire Chronicles] owns a very eerie doll collection. To quote Haunted America Tours, “they can be seen on display at her Doll Museum in New Orleans. Once the site of the St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage, the building now houses Rice’s vast collection and other artistic works. It is interesting to note, however, that Rice once stated that she moved her doll collection to the centralized museum location because it basically bothered her to have them around her house. Prior to the opening of the museum, when she and husband Stan Rice were making one last walk-through, Rice is quoted as having said she “wouldn’t like to be locked in here all night with all of them [the dolls].” Not only are most of the dolls allegedly haunted, they are now housed in a verifiably haunted location.”

One of the most known haunted dolls in the United States – I think – has to be Robert the Doll, from Key West, Florida. A straw doll that eccentric artist Robert Eugene Otto received as a gift from his nanny as a child. Apparently, it possessed its owner and made him its accomplice in all kinds of mischief.

[I would have liked to have had a Robert doll when I was little too. Then, I could have done whatever I wanted, justified it with a simple, “Robert did it!”, and scare the crap out of my grandparents. A brilliant alternative to being punished. Don't you think?]

Haunted dolls have been said to do all sorts of things. From their eyes or heads moving on their own, to disappearing from their perches and appearing somewhere else. The truth of the matter is that a great ammount of weird stuff happens around them.

Its not so much that the doll has a life of its own, but that a spirit or entity has attached itself to it and is using it as a medium to interact with things or people in our plane.

You don't need me to mention all of them, but there have been many reports of haunted dolls throughout history and a list of movies [that are awesome and just give me the creeps] just as long.

It's all cute and sweet when done within the narrow Disney scope.

But, think about it...
[I mean, did you see how Chucky
skewered all those people?!]

Would you find it as cute if you came home to find some beat up doll or toy that you forgot about when you were five lying in bed waiting for your return? What's more, one that you expressly remember throwing away?

[Certainly NOT!]

By the way, am I the only one that finds it creepy that the boy owner from Toy Story shares the same name [ANDY] – and a small likeness – with the boy from Child's Play? [Just saying...]

I haven't had any incidents with “real” haunted dolls.

Here's as close as I got, maybe someone remembers – with me being so ancient and all – about Xuxa's children TV show in the 90s?

For those that don't, it was a weekday series [and yes, I used to dance to it too] that roused disgruntled parents because of the model/singer/show hostess' skimpy outfits and her bold practice of smothering her lips in bright lipstick and kissing pimply prepubescent boys on the cheeks at the end of each episode.

Anyway, during a birthday party, I got a Xuxa doll as a present. A few of my friends started to tease me and tell me scary stories about rumors of there being some Xuxa dolls possessed by the devil. I didn't believe them [yeah, right] and placed the doll on my bedside table in spite of their warnings.

Were it evil spirits or the powerful effect of suggestion, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the Xuxa TV show's theme song. I looked at the side table and there was Xuxa with her head turned toward me, [obviously] I screamed my head off and could have sworn that I saw the doll's eyes turn red for an instant. My mother chalked it up to nightmares, but took the doll with her so I could go back to sleep.

The following day, two of my cousins helped me get rid of the doll. We ripped off its head, set fire to it, wrapped a rosary dipped in holy water around the remains and buried it – feet up – in a shoebox on our backyard.

Maybe, but it helped me sleep at night!

Come to think of it, the evidence of my gullibility has to still be buried around there somewhere.

Hunting party, anyone? o.O

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tortured Souls

My Sociopathic Plans for the Afterlife

These bone chilling entities are – as their name puts it – the tortured souls of humans that suffered a tragic death or hold so many regrets in life that their spirits never progressed onto the afterlife. They are instead trapped in limbo, a plane devoid of any real existence between the one we live on and the one that awaits after death.

(Not to be confused with Clive barker's awesome action figures and novelettes.)

Not far from what's depicted in Hollywood horrors where spirits return from the grave to haunt their killers or to simply wreak havoc in some spooky house on some random Japanese neighborhood, though different in the sense that most are not as palpable or murderous in their intent, these tortured souls or spirits are condemned by their own guilty conscience or pain to suffer endlessly without any real purpose or reason.

The best and worst example I can think of is the chain rattling spirit of Jacob Marley [you know, the one that announced the coming of the three ghosts to Scrooge in Dickens' A Christmas Carol]. He was forever doomed to carry the weight of the chains and locked boxes that stood as a symbol of the avarice that blackened his soul when he lived.

A gloomy and depressing prospect, it makes me want to go out and live my life at the fullest. Then I remember that I'm socially impaired so it wouldn't do me that much good anyway.

When I die, a lot of people will get haunted.

Not so much as Casper but certainly opposed to the mewling Toshio.

 No, I'm serious.

It used to be cool, to think up ghost stories and sit down to watch scary movies with my friends (it still is) but, now that I'm older and have had a few bone chilling and blood curling experiences of my own, it all holds a whole different meaning.

Let me just say, that if you ever wake up to intense otherwordly moaning and wailing shaking your bedroom windows and open one to find a strange shadow hovering outside trying to get in, you would be more partial to my view of thigs.

Are you a believer? [read it over, that was not a Justin Bieber reference O.O]

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

EL Chupacabra

Monster Wednesdays Post #2

Goats beware!

I wrote about Chupa today because my ten year old, who is very into art and everything weird, kept hounding me with drawings of the chimeric monster. Armed with his colorful portrayals, he has made it his business to try and convince every single adult that he has met this summer about the Chupacabra's existence.
[You can imagine how the skeptics look at me whenever he goes into one of his Chupacabra rants.]
This one is a little controversial because, regardless of the fact that it's legend is deeply rooted in actual facts, eye witnesses can't seem to settle the matter of it's appearance, the only constant being it's MO, that it drains its poor furry victims of their blood. Hence the given name, coined by puertorrican comedian Silverio Pérez, which literally translates to Goat Sucker.

It's first reported attacks date back to 1975 in Moca, Puerto Rico. Although, back then they nicknamed the sneaky beast, El Vampiro de Moca (Moca's Vampire). Most thought it was a joke and some even claimed that it was the work of a satanic cult.

It wasn't until 1995, when a different farmer woke up to find his goats or chickens killed every day, that people began to take it seriously. Well, as seriously as a nocturnal predator that fed on the blood of unsuspecting farm animals could be taken. As it's done with almost everything that goes wrong in the island, it was initially attributed to alien activity.

[Seriously? I'll let that one slide because Paul hadn't come out yet and they didn't know then what we know now, that aliens don't suck the blood out of the chickens, they eat them whole!]

I was just ten years old myself when the Chupacabra took over the news, monopolizing every story until everything was tied to it. It got to the point that if some rich old lady's poodles were found dead... ^gasp^ the Chupacabra did it!

But, the 1994 film adaptation of Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire had already shown us the truth behind the strange happenings. If people wanted to believe in weird looking alien monsters rather than a certain beautiful, yet tortured, immortal, that was their deal. I knew better.

Chupa's attacks have reportedly been centered on Puerto Rico, although Mexico and a few other countries in the Old and New continents haven't escaped the little devils unscathed.

This beastie has become so famous that even Scooby Doo decided to take a ride in the Goat Sucker's horror train with it's animated movie, Scooby Doo and the Monster of Mexico.

So if some idiot ever asks you where's Scooby, you know what to tell them. He's running from Chupa!

Another string of attacks began in 2004, this time in Texas. Unlike in Puerto Rico, a farmer was able to document the sighting and even found the dead something that had been terrorizing his livestock. It looked like a hairless cross between a dog, a coyote and a kangaroo with fangs so big that they would make even the most ferocious tiger proud.

As it always happens, the government stepped in and took the carcass for testing and concluded that it was just some kind of coyote-dog hybrid with mange.

[^cough^ conspiracy ^cough^]

If you've ever seen a dog with sarcoptic mange, you know that it's not a pretty sight.


 No one has ever bothered to try to explain why these so called “coyotes with mange” behave so alike whether they're in Mexico, Texas or Russia.


Also in 2004, the Syfy Channel funded an expedition to the Island of Enchantment (Puerto Rico) with the objective of finding tangible proof that would confirm the reality of the Chupacabra myth. They didn't find much and at the end, they were left with more fantastic stories that they'd bargained for, a whole new set of questions that would be left unanswered and a book.

 So, what is it?

^ominous voice^ The world may never know...
The Chupacabra can simply be a mangy coyote drawn out of the mountains by a seasonal drought, the hottest and most sensitive vampire to have ever walked the Earth or it may just be a blood sucking canine creature from outer space.

You decide.

[Tell you one thing, though... I'm certainly not farming any animals on the near future, just to be safe.]

# # #

P.S. My debut novel, ShadowRiser, became available yesterday. Click on it's name to check it out!!!

Until next Monster Wednesday! ;)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

El Cuco

(Also known as Coco)

Welcome to my very first
Monster Wednesday post!

I decided to start with El Cuco because this particular monster hits close to home. It is a part of my childhood, my abuela used to sing a special song to get me to sleep every night that I stayed at her house. It went something like this:

Duérmete niño, duérmete ya, que viene el Cuco y te comerá...”

It went on, on a loop, until I closed my eyes. I'm sure that it appears sweet to you, a grandmother singing her precious grindchild to sleep. Wrong! Far from it, when translated to English, the song actually says: “Sleep child, sleep now, or the Cuco will come and eat you.” Don't take it from me, go
translate it if you don't believe me.

According to our ever trusty friend and highschool companion, Wikipedia, the myth of the coco originated in Portugal and Galicia. The word "coco" derives from the Portuguese language, and referred to a ghost with a pumpkin head.

[Brief pause. Really? That's the first time I hear that version. Could that mean that Pumpkinhead is the Cuco?!]

Anyway, our friend Wiki goes on to tell us that the word coco is used in colloquial speech to mean the human head (which is true) in Portuguese and Spanish. Coco also means skull.

So the myth of this blanket garbed monster centers on its head? I don't think so.

Try telling that to the millions of small children that have forced themselves to sleep terrified of a hooded monster that would make a meal of them and pick its teeth with their bones if they dared to disobay their parents.

However, I do agree with Wiki on this one part: it's not the way the cuco looks but what he does that scares most.
A lot like the Boogeyman, el Cuco is a child eater and a kidnapper, it immediately devours the child and leaves no trace of her or it takes the child away to a place of no return.

I asked a friend what she remembered about the Cuco from when she was little and she told me that what resonated most with her was the nightly terror that she suffered when she hid under the covers and laid in wait for it to pull them down slowly and take her.

But, it only does this to disobedient children.

[You can see why I was so deeply frightened of this one.]

It is said that el Cuco is on the look out for naughty children and that it can take the shape of any dark shadow in their room while it watches.

Along the years, many parents have kept with the tradition of singing lullabies or telling stories to their children to warn them that if they don't behave or go to sleep, el Cuco will come and get them. Outstanding parenting methods, using a creepy lullaby – sung to the universally recycled tune used with Rock-a-bye Baby – to scare their children to sleep.

Looking back now, I guess that I can see how it can be kind of cruel. Either you closed your eyes and forced yourself to sleep or you prepared for the Cuco to come and eat you alive.

Insensitive, yet extremely effective.

I sang it to my eldest once or twice… ^maniacal laugh^

But, I've decided to stick to the more conventional Mockingbird Song with the youngest.