If you have never read Gabino Iglesias, this is your chance to get a teaser of his unique brand of barrio magic. His shit is dark, brutal, and funny af. Enjoy these 5 mini cuentos of spooky creatures and happenings. May you shit your pants, giggle nervously, and get super curious about what else this cabron has to offer.
Happy Halloween/Dia de los Muertos!
It all started as a school project. I was getting a PhD in psychology and was obsessed with breaking new ground in dream research. One night, while scrolling through Twitter, I came across a sketch of a man who apparently has shown up in the dreams of folks all over the world. It only took me three days of digging in digital archives to find something else that kept popping up in horrific dreams. To my surprise, it was a stuffed bunny. The thought put a smile on my face. Then I started reading. Apparently the dreams were followed by the appearance of a stuffed bunny on or near the bed of those who dreamed about it. My dream came on the fourth night of research. I was sure some asshole had placed the stuffed bunny on my bed as a prank. I was sure of it even as my brain screamed at me that no one knew what I was researching. A week later I had been kicked out of school and was standing in my room with blood on my hands. Anyway, buy me a beer and I’ll tell you the rest.
“Come here, baby, dance with me,” she said. Her velvety voice crawled into my ear and made my brain purr like a fat kitten. I went to her arms, my body stiff, my mind reeling. “Relax, sweetie,” she whispered in my ear. “Dance like no one is watching, you asshole.” I thought I’d misheard her. Then I wondered if she was into that kind of thing. Maybe she wanted me to call her a slut and pull her hair. Maybe she wanted me to be submissive, let her smack me around a little. I had no idea, but I definitely wanted to find out. I was down for whatever. “Dance!” The scream surprised me. I pulled back, unsure about what to do. “I said dance, pendejo!” It was clear she wanted me to be submissive. I went to her and wrapped my arms around her waist. A second later, the cold, hard steel of a knife pierced my lower back, the blade slicing into my left kidney with ease. “When I say dance, you dance.” She said it through her teeth, her voice coated in a hatred I’d never known. The floor came up to meet me. Blood pooled around me much quicker than it does in the movies. I screamed. Then the blade came down again. It was clear blood was what she was into.
The day it started raining insects, folks freaked the fuck out. Well, not everyone. Some just laughed and others just found another reason to go on yelling about the end of days and all that nonsense. I actually enjoyed listening to the scientists on every news channel throw around their theories and taking jabs at each other. People started taking sides. Pollution. Trump. Biological warfare. A cosmic wave we didn’t know shit about. Angry ghosts. Invisible aliens. The theories went on and on and on. Then they found the crack. Somewhere in China. Man, that’s a big country. Anyway, the smoke that came from the giant crack was poisonous. That’s what they said on the news. What they didn’t tell us was that strange worms with wings were floating in that air. Well, they were microscopic at the time. That’s why they picked on flying insects first. Ah, it doesn’t matter. By the time they started figuring shit out, the larvae were popping out of the gazillions of insects they’d killed. They were in the water and air and soil and fucking everywhere. Yeah, that was the beginning of the end.
Listen, mufucka, life ain’t a movie. When you finally manage to buy a damn house, you call your mama all fucking excited and then you move in and thank your lucky stars you don’t have to listen to the sound of guns going off in the distance every night. And you know what? Sometimes weird shit starts happening and you just have to deal with it. You’ve seen all the movies, but some of us ain’t got the money to pack our shit and leave a house just because shadows move around in the hallway and electronics act all funky and sometimes the walls bleed. Yeah, it scares you. Shit, it scares you more than you’ve ever been scared, but it is what it is and your house is a thing that swallowed every last damn penny you had. What you do when that happens to you is that you stick around, you man the fuck up and stay there, praying like a maniac and scared, but standing your ground. Yeah, you stick around, man. Well, you stick around until you wake up and find your baby girl’s body in her crib, her head nowhere to be found…
People always ask me about the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s something that comes with being a successful horror author. I have a few anecdotes that always leave folks satisfied. I tell tales of disappearing keys and bones found in a friend’s attic after months of paranormal activity. All the stories are lies. I’ve been piss-your-pants-scared before, but cosmic horror and murder sell more books than those old dolls my grandma had. Let me tell you, I swear to God those little fuckers giggled at night.
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS (Broken River Books),HUNGRY DARKNESS (Severed Press), and GUTMOUTH (Eraserhead Press). His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist. Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbcide, and many other print and online venues. His story ‘Gods in the Blood’ will be appearing in in the upcoming CLASH Books anthology, Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey & Sylvia Plath. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias