Felipe and Filipa Ramirez were brother and sister and they loved each other deeply. She was ten and he was seven but they did everything together. When they weren't laughing at some shared joke they were in the yard play fighting. When the weren't play fighting they were out exploring the countryside on their bikes.
Theirs was a special relationship not just bound by blood but also built by the innocence of friendship and trust. When they were together every day was Christmas, every hour magical, and every moment precious.
That all changed with one bedtime story.
Filipa tucked Felipe into bed around nine. Their mother often worked overnight shifts at the hospital in Monterrey, leaving the children alone until the early morning. She pulled the covers up to Felipe's chin and said, "Have you ever heard the story of El Cucuy?"
"Uh uh," Felipe said, his eyes shining under the night life.
"Well, El Cucuy is an evil spirit who hides in the shadows and eats little boys who misbehave!"
"Nah uh! You just made that up!" The boy's voice began to tremble.
"It's true! Little boys all over Mexico have disappeared. Little boys just like you!"
"Stop it!" Felipe pleaded. "It's not true!"
Filipa pointed to the closet which was slightly ajar, a sliver of darkness peeking beyond the threshold. "He can be in your closet right now and you wouldn't even know until it's too late. Or..."
There was a slight shift of the bed. Filipa twitched.
"Did you hear that?" she asked.
"It sounded like it came from under the bed."
"C-can you see what it is?" Felipe sank deeper into his covers. He looked so small. So vulnerable.
Filipa laughed. "Alright, but remember it's not me that he's after..."
She sank down at the foot of the bed and disappeared. "I'll show that mean Cucuy!" she said with mock bravery. "He'll wish -" her words were cut off by a muffled gasp of surprise and then -
"Filipa?" his voice rang like tiny bells. He sat up slowly in bed, his small hands clutching the sheets. A minute passed. Nothing.
There was a quiet shuffling in the corner of the other side of the bed. Felipe glanced that way but saw nothing. The soft shambling became a frantic scurry like a giant spider crawling on the floor and Felipe shrieked.
"Filipa!" he cried, his voice thick with fear. Without warning the blessed night light snapped off, plunging the room in near perfect darkness. His body tensed as if he had been electrocuted and the tiny heart jumped and rushed.
"Filipa!" his voice was a whimper, barely audible in the gloom.
Another five minutes must have passed by in silence. Then a faint moan drifted from under the bed.
"Filipa? Filipa please!" Felipe could feel his bladder loosening as if it were a dam being threatened by currents of roiling fear. The gunshot like BANG of the closet door made the dam crumble away in a puddle of warmth that spread from Felipe's pajama bottom.
There was a scurry of cat like feet.
A moan, low and pitiful.
Felipe buried himself under the covers and almost crumbled into little pieces. Something heavy landed atop the covers and crawled towards him with arachnid grace. Then came the shriek, the unholy cry of bloodlust. Claw like hands ripped the covers from his body and Felipe stared into the visage of pure evil.
Ratty strings of hair ran down its white face, the mouth wide open revealing a set of sharpened fangs. The vice like claws dug into Felipe's arms and he tried to flail, to squirm his way from the creatures grasp but it clung to him relentlessly, its nostrils flared, the eyebrows parallel with raving madness and the only thing young Felipe could do was scream and cry and accept his fate.
"I'm hungry!" El Cucuy roared and it was a familiar voice but Felipe continued to wail.
The claws were replaced with tender hands upon his shoulders and she began to soothe and caress him. She pooped the rubber fangs out of her mouth and said, "It's ok Felipe it was just a joke!"
"NO! NO! NO!" Felipe cried, his terror unwavering.
"Felipe! Oh Felipe...I'm sorry!" She bolted out of bed and turned on all the lights but none of them were bright enough to cast away the specter of horror that clung to her little brother. She went back to him and held him, petted him, smelled him.
"Ah man you pee'd yourself! Mom's gonna kill me!"
"Crawsss...crawsss!" Felipe shrieked.
"What are you babbling about?"
Filipa snapped around as the closet door swung open. Nestled in the shadows was a figure as dark and misshapen as a scarecrow. It glared at them with crimson pin point eyes.
"My precious children," El Cucuy said as it shambled out of the closet. "I want to play too..."
Filipa dimly felt warmth at her own crotch as she was rooted in place. El Cucuy crossed the room in one giant stride and placed a gnarled hand around her neck like a game pitbull snaring its prey.
Filipa and Felipe Ramirez did everything together.
They even died together.