13 True Xicanx Spooky Stories
_real names have been changed_
_submissions are open_
_1,500 words max.
_illustrations by Octavio Monteon_
*we reserve the right to edit submissions*
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So this is actually my grandmother's story. She would always tell us these stories whenever we were all together in the living room. Supernatural stuff always seemed to accompany her. In my opinion it’s what added to her rough life and eventually led to her illness.
My grandmother was a young mom. She had her first child at 18. She was a young Chicana growing up in Compton, California. Her and my biological grandfather (named Freddy) were active gang members and never denied it. But this story doesn’t take place in Compton.
My grandmother used to do seasonal work. She picked tomatoes and jalapeños and made tortillas on a line in a factory, going where the work would take her. My grandfather's family is originally from Escondido and Vista, California. It’s like on the other side of San Diego, near the San Pascual tribal land. My grandmother said and always believed her mother-in-law hated her (who doesn’t hate their in-laws?) and that her suegra cursed her out of jealousy for marrying her son. She said that many an occasion her suegra was caught conducting rituals that were meant to curse my grandma.
My grandparents moved into what I was told was a huge two-story white house in the middle of nowhere in San Marcos. This is where the supernatural stuff started to happen. Many times they would hear coins being tossed down the stairs. Many times she said she would hear chains being dragged around the house. I was also told of times when she would see white apparitions that would disappear into those old school accordion heaters. But the most terrifying thing in my opinion about this story was the tall man in a top hat dressed in black that would knock on their door, and eventually would appear at the foot of my grandparents' bed. She said, “Freddy would tell me, don’t turn off the light, because every time the lights go out, the man stands at the foot of my bed and watches me.” Ooof. That would do it for my 12-year-old heart.
Apparently, according to them, they had a priest come and bless the house and the priest told them there was gold buried under the sink. But it was cursed. He placed a little cross in the house and said that wherever the cross would end up was where they should dig. But they didn’t. They would soon start to hear crying coming out of a well, to footsteps on the roof of the home, to the gentleman in black with the top hat knocking at the door and demanding to be let in... They lived there for I don’t really recall how long but I know that they lived the remainder of their lives back in Compton and Bell Gardens, respectively. They divorced and my grandparents remarried other folks. They both passed but I love and miss them dearly. Quien sabe if any of it is true or puro cuento, but I cherish these stories and plan to tell them to my kids when the time comes.
Thanks for letting me share.
share your supernatural/ paranormal/ unknowable experiences with us.
send us your story (up to 1,500 words max) below to be considered for publication by 12/15:
This eerie story happened in 2007. My daughter was only two months old when it happened.
One September morning, I noticed that Ixchel was acting strangely. She stared at me, wide-eyed, refusing to blink. She stared straight into my eyes, non-stop, as if she were staring a great distance into my soul. I became really worried. “Daniel!” I called out to my husband. “Something is wrong with Ixchel…”
The baby had seemed normal for her first days of life, making the noises any infant would make, squirming and crying when she had a dirty diaper, or cooing quietly when she was awake. I wasn’t worried, as I wasn’t a rookie. She was baby number four. Somewhere back in my mind though, I kept hearing the voice of my suegra, like a banging hammer, Bautizen a esa niña! Si estuviera allí ya le tuviera preparada su batita y ya estuviéramos en la iglesia!! Un niño que no se bautiza es como comida para el demonio! Of course, I sort of ignored her dramatic words, since I don’t worry about those things too much.
“What’s the matter?” He answered concerned, as she was the last of our children and I had her in my later years.
“I don’t know but something is definitely wrong.”
I started thinking about something else that came to my mind when she stared at me: my father.
“Itzamna, bring me my phone,” I asked my eldest, “I have to call abuelo in L.A.”
It was 8 a.m. My dad and I were tight. He lived alone after I left him to move to Boston with my husband, but I knew I would return to Cali soon. I was hoping he was ok. He had some medical issues, and kept in touch with me frequently. I called him, and as the phone rang off the hook, the baby kept staring off into the distance. I rushed her to the doctor, who examined her an hour later and said she could find nothing wrong with her.
By then, I called a couple of times more. “Papá! Answer the phone! Please pick up!” My thoughts about papá came to me in a rush, how he would buy us all burritos like ten times a day if he could, and invited us to hang out with him to eat chicharrónes or have a beer with Daniel after they did some talacha on one of the old cars in the backyard, and barbeque some carne asada for dinner just for the heck of it, even if we had it for lunch. A hardworking man, he was devastated by my mom’s death 27 years back, and he never really recovered from that. He was born on Halloween and used to say he would come back to us when he died and spook us all, and we would laugh at that as kids, thinking it was cool.
At 10 a.m. I decided to make one of the strangest phone calls ever. I called Hollenbeck Police Department in East L.A. “Yeah lady, we will check on him later on. It's Saturday and our officers are really busy right now, with more urgent calls. I will send someone over by the end of the day.” He was about to hang up when he asked, “Why would you think he is not ok? By the way, did you say you were calling from Boston?” He chuckled a little and hung up after taking my number. No one in the family could check on him, so I had to wait. Meanwhile, I prayed.
At 6 p.m., I received the worst phone call of my life. He was gone. Papá had died of a broken heart. The cop said he didn’t understand how I knew that morning since I was 3,000 miles away.
We baptized Ixchel the day after papá died at the church down the street in Boston. She stopped staring at me when she nursed, but I cried my tears into my breast so she probably felt my sorrow. Strangely enough, the following year when we visited the old cemeteries in Salem, Massachusetts, because that's just something you do around there, the baby would run to the headstones of infants and children that had died in the 1700’s or 1800’s. She would babble at the headstones as if she were talking to their spirits.
Eventually, when Ixchel was two years old, we moved back to California. One summer day when she was four, she said to us, “Mama, please open the front door.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Abuelo says it's too hot, and would like to come inside. He says he loves us, that he is hungry and he wants some of your beans. Hurry up, he is waiting.”
We all stared at each other and knew. We knew it was abuelo. We knew he came to see us before he died that day when she was a newborn. We also knew that he would always find a way to tell us through her, that he would search for us when he needed us and that he would always be alright.
share your supernatural/ paranormal/ unknowable experiences with us.
send us your story below to be considered for publication by 9/15:
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