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With Halloween getting closer, I thought you would enjoy this short story partly based on the movie, El Cocuy. I hope you'll like it.

It was a warm day in Roselita, just a few miles away from San Diego, despite that today was Halloween, or to some people living there, el Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead). Many children were dressed in costumes, walking vendors were carrying decorated skeletons, marigolds, and roses, and certain shops on the streets were either getting ready to offer candy to the trick-or-treaters or getting ready to close early for the day to go to the cemetery to pay their respects to their departed loved ones.

Among the costumed children was a six year old Ricky Cervantes who was dressed up like Luke Skywalker and was walking down the street with his parents.

The Cervantes were walking pass the shops when Mrs. Cervantes noticed a Mexican store that offered spiritual and occult necessities and fortune telling readings.

"I'm not so sure, mi amour," said Mr. Cervantes. Being raised in the Catholic faith, he was warned about anything that deals with the occult.

"It will be alright, mi codason," Mrs. Cervantes. "I mean, you don't really believe in all that, do you? Besides, they also sell pinatas and we need one for the party tonight."

"If you say so," said Mr. Cervantes.

The three walked into the store. Inside, the first thing that was noticed was that the ceiling had many pinatas that were decorated as witches, vampires, and Frankensteins for Halloween and skeletons with Mexican hats, skulls, and devils for the Day of the Dead hanging from it. On the shelves were religious statues, such as Santa Muerte and Virgen de Guadalupe. Also on the shelves were candles, boxes of incense sticks, bowls, jars of herbs and oils and books about the saints, the angels, and the occult. In a glass case were crystals, amulets, and rings. On the case were more books, a few lit candles and an incense stick. At the check out counter, there wear mini displays with candy and tarot cards. Behind it was a glass cabinet filled with the more expensive items such as ritual knives, cups, crystal balls, and many other odd things. Attending to the counter was an old woman with graying hair and wearing glasses, a black dress, and a necklace. She looked like a witch.

"Uno pinata, por favor," said Mr. Cervantes.

The woman called for a young man in the back to get a pinata from the ceiling. After he took it to the back to fill it with candy, the woman offered to do a reading for them. Mr. Cervantes was a bit reluctant at first, but gave in knowing that they may have to wait before the pinata was done.

Ricky noticed one of the candies was a chocolate skull. He wanted it. So he tugged on his mother's coat.

"Mommy," said Ricky. "I want that chocolate skull. Please?"

"Later, Ricky," said Mrs. Cervantes. "Now behave, por favor."

The woman took out a pack of tarot cards and began shuffling them. Ricky really wanted that chocolate skull and tugged on his father's coat.

"Ricky, listen to your mother, mijo," said Mr. Cervantes. "Be patient."

The woman frowned at how Ricky was acting as she began to spread the cards.

Ricky was really getting impatient and tugged on both his parents coats.

"Ricky, please!" shouted Mr. and Mrs. Cervantes together.

Small tears began to form in Ricky's eyes. He was getting ready to throw a tantrum.

"QUIETEN!" shouted the woman whose voice made Ricky pay attention. "Si no se comportan, El Cocuy se va a ir."

"(You didn't have to scare him like that)," Mr. Cervantes said in Spanish. He knew what that meant: If you don't behave, El Cocuy is going to get you.

"(Children have to learn)," the woman also said in Spanish.

After the woman finished her reading, the young man returned with the pinata filled with candy. Mr. Cervantes paid for it (as well as the reading and the skull) and he and his family left the shop.

"Dad," asked Ricky. "What's El Cocuy?"

"Just another name for the Boogie Man," answered Mr. Cervantes. "They say that he comes to people's home and collect naughty children." Then, Mr. Cervantes sang. "Duérmete niño, duérmete ya... Que viene el Coco y te comerá."

Ricky looked confused. He was still learning Spanish.

"Sleep child, sleep now...," Mrs. Cervantes translated. "Or else El Cocuy will come and eat you."

Ricky became scared.

"But don't worry, mijo," said Mr. Cervantes. "Everyone knows there's no such thing as El Cocuy."

What Mr. Cervantes didn't know... Was how wrong he was.

After the party, Mr. Cervantes had just put Ricky to bed.

"Sorry, Ricky," said Mr. Cervantes. "The bulb in your nightlight is still out. Think you could last another night in the dark?"

Ricky nodded.

"Good. Now be sure to get a good night sleep. We have a lot of packing to do tomorrow."

Ricky remembered why they were packing. Mr. Cervantes got a new job in place called... Canton, Ohio.

"Good night, son," said Mr. Cervantes and he turned off the light and closed the door behind him.

Ricky laid in bed trying to get some sleep. But he was having trouble because of what the woman at the shop said about El Cocuy. But eventually, Ricky became to tired and fell asleep. But then, some time later, something startled Ricky awake. A strange sound was going through the room. Ricky was starting to get nervous. He wanted stand up in bed to see what it was, but he was too scared to move and it was too dark to see. The noise was coming from the closet. Ricky managed to move his head a little to see the closet. The sound was very low, like someone or something breathing. Then, the knob on the closet door slowly began to turn. And very slowly, the closet door began to open. Ricky, now very scared, quickly turned his head away and closed his eyes. When he finally build enough courage, he looked again. The closet door was closed again. Ricky decided he was just seeing things. Very slowly he began to drift to sleep again. But just before he closed his eyes...

"Duérmete niño, duérmete ya... Que viene el Coco y te comerá."

The eerie voiced startled Rick awake again. He looked up, expecting to see the ceiling. But instead... He saw a pair of big, glowing red eyes.

In Mr. and Mrs. Cervantes' room, the couple were awoken by a loud sound. It was their son screaming. Mr. and Mrs. Cervantes immediately got up and ran to Ricky's room. When they turned on the light, they found Ricky crouched in a corner of the room. Mrs. Cervantes ran to her son.

"What happened?" she asked, worried.

Ricky looked up at his mother and quietly said... "El Cocuy."

At first they didn't believe him. But then, Mr. Cervantes looked at Ricky's bed. The sheets where torn. Mr. Cervantes got a closer look at the sheets, picking them up. This lead him to notice something on the floor. Claw marks. A trail of claw mark headed into the closet. Mr. Cervantes took a nearby baseball bat and cautiously moved to the closet. And cautiously, he opened it. Nothing. Nothing but clothes were in the closet.

Ricky was really scared. More than scared. He was scared. And he would remember that one Halloween night.

Even to this day...

Present day

October 29

Halloween was two days away and Canton was a buzzed with people getting ready. The autumn winds blew past the Cervantes home where the now teenage (and secretly a Guardian) Ricky was helping his father put up the decorations.

"That should be it," said Mr. Cervantes, putting up the last fake tomb stone.

"Yeah," said Ricky, a little depressed. He gets this way every year.

"What's wrong, mijo?" asked Mr. Cervantes, worried for his son.

"It's nothing," Ricky lied.

"Ricardo," said Mr. Cervantes sternly.

Ricky knew he couldn't lie to his father and finally fessed up.

"Well," said Ricky. "I think you know why."

Mr. Cervantes just stared at his son.

"Ricky," said Mr. Cervantes. "Look, I don't know what it was that was in your room those many years ago. Maybe it was El Cocuy, maybe it was just someone who broke into our house as a prank. But I can tell you one thing, you can't let that haunt you every year."

Ricky knew his father was right. He couldn't go on like this.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Ricky looked at his wrist to see what that beeping noise came from. It was his NFLR.

"Go, son," said Mr. Cervantes. "I'll tell you mother you'll be late."

"Thanks, dad," said Ricky and ran off to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After arriving and going through the mirror, Ricky found the other Guardians already in the Hall of Knowledge with their holographic mentor, R.Z. 6.0.

"Guardians," he said. "There has been a disturbance at the San Diego Stadium. Blitz borgs have been sighted there."

"Do you think it was Sudden Death? Or Wild Card?" asked Ish.

"I don't know," said R.Z. "But the Chargers' Rusher has ask you to investigate. This year, the Chargers will be hosting a Halloween and Day of the Dead part at the stadium and they need it to be safe for everyone attending."

"You can count on us, R.Z.," said Ricky.

With that, the Guardians entered the portal to San Diego. When they arrived, they found workers decorating the arena for the party.

"Let's spit up," said Ish. "Ricky, you're with me. Tua, you go with Marty. And Troy, you're with Ash."

With that, the Guardians split.

Ish and Ricky were walking across the field. They noticed that on of the workers brought their kid with them. He looked like he was about six or seven. He was getting fussy about how his father wasn't paying attention.

"Mijo!" shouted his father. "If you don't stop fussing, I'm going to get El Cocuy."

At this, the boy stopped fussing. But it also made Ricky stop walking as flashbacks of that night came and went.

"Ricky?" ask Ish. "You okay?"

"Hmm?" Ricky snapped back to reality. "Oh. Nothing. Nothing, I'm fine."

Then, a sound came from the entry way that lead to the stadium hall.

"We better check that," said Ricky.

"Right," Ish agreed.

Ish and Ricky ran inside. Three blitz borgs were walking around. When they noticed the arrival of Ish and Ricky, they began attacking them. But Ish and Ricky dodged them.

"Everyone!" Ish shouted into his NFLR. "We found the blitz borgs!"

"Hold on, Ish!" came Ash's voice from the NFLR. "We're coming!"

"Ricky! It's time! ENTER THE RUSH ZONE!"

With that, Ish transformed into his Guardian form.

"ENTER THE RUSH ZONE!" Ricky also shouted as he transformed as well.

The two made a charge towards the blitz borgs and managed to defeat them with ease.

"Is that all of them?" asked Ricky.

"Not quite," said a voice behind them. It was Angkoro. "I don't have time to deal with you. I was sent here to collect the Chargers' Megacore and I'm not leaving without it."

"You'll have to get pass us first, Angkoro," said Ish.

Angkoro then fired lasers at them. But Ish and Ricky dodge them. Ricky used his ice powers to trap Angkoro's feet on the floor. Moments later, the other Guardians arrived.

"Alright! You got him!" shouted Tua with glee.

"That's what you think, Guardians," said Angkoro.

Using all his strength, Angkoro broke the ice and freed his feet and began running to the Megacore vault.

"We have to stop him!" shouted Marty.

With that, the Guardians chased Angkoro to the vault. Angkoro tried to open the vault to get the Chargers' Megacore.

"Give it up, Angkoro!" shouted Ish. "You're surrounded!"

Angkoro was not about to give up. He noticed a trophy case behind the Guardians. So, he used his telekinetic powers to throw the trophy in the case out and at the Guardians, causing them to turn away from Angkoro. With the Guardians distracted, Angkoro managed to open the vault and took the Megacore.

"Sorry, Guardians," said Angkoro slyly. "But if it makes you feel any better, here's a 'treat' for that 'trick'."

Angkoro threw a blue ball which turned into a black blitz borg with bombs that looked like jack-o-lanterns.

"Happy Halloween, Guardians," said Angkoro and teleported away with the Megacore.

"Shoot!" Ish shouted in frustration as he and the other Guardians dodged the bombs.

The black blitz borg continued throwing bombs and the Guardians continued to dodge them until Ash came up with an idea.

"Super Kick!" shouted Ash and kicked one of the bombs back at the blitz borg which exploded in its face.

"Nice shot!" shouted Marty.

"Thanks," Ash replied.

"It ain't over yet," said Troy. "Look."

When the smoke cleared, the blitz borg was only a little chard. But instead of staying to fight, it ran away.

"Hold on," said Ricky. "I'll get it."

"I'm coming, too," said Ish.

"Wait for me!" Ash shouted after the two and turned back to the other Guardians. "You guys make sure everyone's alright. We'll meet up later at the HoK." And continued to chase after Ish and Ricky.

In a tunnel, the blitz borg finally stopped running.

"Got ya!" said Ricky as he, Ish, and Ash arrived.

But as the three got closer, the lights in the tunnel started to flicker until they went out except for the light that was shining on the Guardians and the one that was on the blitz borg.

"Whoa," said Ash. "What's going on here?"

Then, heavy breathing was heard. When Ricky heard this, he suddenly felt afraid. He heard the breathing before. The breathing began to get louder and louder. Then, the blitz borg dropped as if something grabbed it by the leg and pulled on it. Then, the blitz borg was dragged out of the light and into the darkness. The sound of metal being torn was heard from the dark. Then, the blitz borg's pieces were thrown back into the light which then went out.

"Hello," said Ish, a bit scared by what he saw. "Is someone there? Thanks for taking care of that blitz borg. And I know you must be very busy, so we'll just.. leave." He hesitated.

"Ish," whispered Ricky, more scared than Ish. "We should go."

The breathing got louder and louder. And then...

"Duérmete niño, duérmete ya... Que viene el Coco y te comerá."

Then, the light on the Guardians began to flicker. Each time it went out, the Guardians saw a pair of glowing red eyes. And finally, the light went out for good. The red eyes got closer and closer. Ricky couldn't help himself anymore and screamed

At the entrance of the tunnel, the Chargers' Rusher heard the screaming and ran to the tunnel. He saw the three Guardians in front of the red eyes that were getting closer to them.

"What the..?!" shouted the Rusher.

The Rusher noticed a light switch and immediately turned it on. The lights came on so fast that the Guardians were blinded by it, forcing them to look away. When they did, they heard inhuman and unearthly shreak and something running away. When they regained their sight, they saw that whatever that thing was was gone. All that was left was the dismantled blitz borg on the floor surrounded by claw marks. The Guardians deactivated their armors back to civilian form.

"Claw marks?" asked Ash who kneeled on her knee to take a closer look.

"What could be strong enough to leave claw marks on solid stone?" Ish also asked.

Ish and Ash looked at Ricky. They saw that he was more scared of what happened than they were.

"Judgging by the look on Ricky's face," said Ash. "I'd say he knows."

"What was that thing Ricky?" asked Ish.

Ricky paused for a moment to regaine himself and said, "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Try me," said Ish.

Ricky paused again. Finally, he took a deep breath and said:

"El Cocuy."

Back at the HoK, Ricky, Ish, and Ash explained to R.Z. and the other Guardians the events of what happened.

"This blows," said Marty, upset. "I can't believe we lost the Megacore so easily."

"Do not fret, Marty," assured R.Z. "We'll get it back. For now, I'm interested in what happened with Ish, Ash, and Ricky."

Ricky hesitated for a while and finally gathered enough courage to speak.

"I think what we saw in the tunnel... was El Cocuy."

"El Cocuy?" asked Marty. "What's that?"

"The Mexican Boogie Man," answered Ricky. "They say he comes at night and takes away bad children."

"The Boogie Man?" asked Ish in disbelief. "You're not serious, are you? Everyone knows he's not real. He's just a made up story used by parents to scare children into behaving." He turned to R.Z. "I mean, you don't believe in it, do you R.Z.?"

"True, Ish," said R.Z. "As a scientist, I'm highly skeptical about this. It could just been Angkoro trying to throw you off."

"Exactly," said Ish.

"But," continued R.Z. "We cannot deny the possibility."

"What?" asked Ish, still in disbelief.

"He may be right, Ish," said Ricky. "It could be El Cocuy."

"I just not sure," said Ish.

"You don't believe in El Cocuy?" asked Troy.

"I never said that," answered Ish. "I believe that if I can see, feel, and touch it, then it's real. That's what I believe."

"Either way," said R.Z. "With the Chargers' Megacore stolen, I must ask you Guardians to stay on high alert."

"Will do, R.Z.," said Ish.

With that, the Guardians left the HoK. It was already night. The Guardians went their separate ways home.

Ricky's walk was not so pleasant. He kept looking around the dark streets for any movement and sound. He made it home safe and sound to find it dark. The only light there was coming from the kitchen which was dimly lit. When Ricky entered, he found a note on the fridge.

Ricky,

You were late for dinner. We had Taco Bell. I saved you a plate in the microwave. Just heat it up for a minuet. And after you're finished, go strait to bed.

Mom.

Ricky checked the microwave to see his mother was right. He set it for a minuet. Then, he heard heavy breathing in the dinning room. Scared but curious, Ricky went inside to see what it was. He couldn't see anything. He tried to get to the switch, but each time he moved, whatever was breathing would follow. So he went back into the kitchen. When he looked through the threshold into the dark dinning room, a pair of glowing red eyes appeared.

"(You're here)," Ricky said in Spanish. "(Aren't you?)"

The red eyes got closer and closer until something came into the dimly lit kitchen. It was a dark figure in faded brown robes. Its hood was up so Ricky couldn't see its face except for the red eyes. And it's claws were brown with three fingers on each hand with a sharp nail.

"Si," said El Cocuy. "(I have always been watching you.)"

"(Please)," Ricky pleaded. "(It was just a chocolate skull. I never meant to make such a fuss over it.)"

"(That is how it started. And it became more than that.)"

Ricky was curious about what he said as he was scared.

"(What... What did I do?)"

"(Unconditional rivalry with the boy who is now your friend which lead you to join his enemy.)"

Ricky knew immediately what he was talking about. He was talking about his rivalry with Ish and how it lead Ricky to join Wild Card.

"(That was the old me. I'm a Guardian now.)"

"(One good deed does not undo all past sins.)"

"(Please, spare me... I don't want to die!)"

Ricky was on his knees. He didn't know what to do. He was terrified. He cried.

"(Crying is also a sin. But if you really do wish for me to spare you, I will be willing enough to give you a chance to redeem yourself.)"

Ricky looked up at El Cocuy when he heard what he said.

"(I know about this 'Megacore' you tried to protect. If you can get it back to where it belongs before the stroke of midnight on the Day of the Dead, I promise to leave your life for good. But if you fail, I will get it back and both you and your 'Guardians' will pay... With their blood.)"

With that, El Cocuy walked back into the darkness of the dinning room. Ricky got up and quickly turned the light on. There was nothing there.

DING!

The sound of the microwave startled Ricky. He ate his dinner quickly, turned of the lights, and quickly went to his room. He didn't bother changing into his pajamas. He simply took off his Cardinals jacket, hat, and shoes. He took a quick look in his closet. Nothing but clothes. He peeked under his bed. Empty. El Cocuy was not in his room. Ricky climbed into bed. He had a troubled sleep with what El Cocuy said still ringing in his head.

October 30

The next day at the bowling alley, Ricky explained what happened to the other Guardians.

"WHAT!?!" shouted Ish.

"He said if we don't get the Megacore back before midnight on Halloween, he'll kill us," explained Ricky.

"I can't believe he's thretening us like this," said Marty, upset.

"I can't believe you actually spoke to this El Cocuy," said Ish.

"I know," said Ricky. "I think I was sweating in places I didn't even know I could sweat... At least I hope it was sweat."

"This is crazy," said Ash. "This monster is giving us till Halloween to find the Megacore or we're dead. And we don't even know where to look."

"Well, we know they can't be hinding in the amusment park," said Ish. "Ever since they left Sudden Death."

"So basically, we're screwed," said Troy.

"Hey, let's not give up just yet," said Tua.

"Then what are we suppose to do?" asked Troy, a bit fustrated.

"Maybe we can get R.Z. to help," Ish suggested. "He and mom could invent a new app for our NFLRs. But, we'll have to learn more about this El Cocuy."

"Maybe we should ask Ricky," Marty also suggested. "He seems to know a lot about him."

"Actually," said Ricky, a bit down. "All I know about him is the coming at night thing. But I think I know someone who does know more."

"Really?" asked Tua. "Who?"

Everyone stared a Ricky who hesitated for a moment. Then finally said...

"The one who told me about him."

After dicussing it with R.Z. and Mrs. Taylor, the Guardians were on their way back to San Diego. After arriving, they borded a bus that took them all the way to Roselita. When they got off, Ricky lead his friends to the street the witch lady told Ricky about El Cocuy. After walking a bit, they found the shop. But as they were about to enter, Ricky bumped into someone.

"Sorry," Ricky apoligized.

"That's okay," said the stranger. "I know you wanted to go in. You go first, Ricky."

"Grasias," said Ricky. But before, he went in, he stopped. "Hang on. How did you know who I am?"

"R.Z. told me about you. And the other Guardians."

The Guardians got a better look and the stranger.

(Mike McCoy, head coach and former quarterback for the San Diego Chargers. Became head coach in 2013.)

"Mike McCoy?" asked Ricky. "Why are you here? Did R.Z. told about our problem?"

"That and I'm getting pinatas for the party tomorrow," answered Mike McCoy. "Now come on. Let's go in."

With that, the Guardians and Mike McCoy entered the shop. Ricky expected to see the witch lady, but instead, he saw a man at the counter.

"Hola," said the man. "(Welcome to the Heart of the Saints. How can I help you?)"

"Sorry," said Ish. "Ricky's the one who speaks Spanish."

"Don't worry, I speak English as well."

"We were hoping you could help us with something," asked Ricky. "Do you know the old lady who ran this store?"

"Mi dia?" asked the man. "That will be hard."

"How come?" asked Tua.

"How do I say this?" the man asked himself. He took a deep breath and said, "My aunt passed way last year."

"Oh," said Ricky. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," said the man. "Did you know her?"

"Well," said Ricky. "She kinda warned me about El Cocuy."

"Wait a minute," said the man and took a good look at Ricky. "Now I remember! The 'Luke Skywalker' kid."

It was then that Ricky also recognized this man. It was the young man who help Ricky's parents with the pinata. He was now grown.

"You're that guy," said Ricky. "The guy who helped my parents."

"Call me Carlos," said the man called Carlos. "So, what is it about El Cocuy that you need to talk to mi dia?"

"How do I say this?" Ricky asked himself. He took a deep breath and said, "El Cocuy is real and he's out to get me and my friends."

Carlos laughed.

"I'm not joking!" shouted Ricky.

"Oh, don't get me wrong," said Carlos, wiping a tear from his eye. "Believe you. It's just that, mi dia told me she had a feeling something like this was going to happen. That's why she put me in charge of the shop before she died."

"Really?" asked Marty. "Then, maybe you could help us."

"I don't know much about El Cocuy myself," said Carlos. "But I'll see what I can do. I'll check with the cards and see what they say."

With that, Carlos took out a pack of tarot cards. He shuffled them for a few seconds. When he was done, he drew one card and layed it on the counter. The card said el Diablo.

"The Devil," said Carlos, grimly. "So it must be El Cocuy."

"You think?" asked Troy, sarcastically.

Carlos drew the next card. La Torre.

"The Tower," said Carlos. "El Cocuy has put you through a difficult time."

Carlos drew another card. Muerte.

"I know what that means," said Marty, fearfully. "Death."

"Si," said Carlos. "El Cocuy would indeed end your lives. But it's not the end."

Carlos drew another card. La Estrella.

"The Star," said Carlos. "There might still be hope for you."

"How can you be sure?" asked Tua.

Carlos drew another card. El Emperador.

"The Emperor," said Carlos. "Your hope may come in the form of some power."

"What kind of power?" ask Ash.

Carlos drew the last card.

"I'm sorry," said Carlos who showed them the card. It said La Luna. "The Moon says that you're future is still shrouded in mystery. What happens next, is anyone's guess."

(I'll be stopping here for now. Leave a comment.)

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